17th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S.Rosevear) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - Yesterday, the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams), the right honorable the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) and the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) raised various aspects of the subject of migration, and I undertook to make a statement upon it to the House.
In October, 1943, the Government appointed an inter-departmental committee to examine all matters relating to post-war migration, and to submit recommendations. The committee consists of representatives of the Departments of the Interior, Treasury, External Affairs, Social Services, Post-war Reconstruction, and Repatriation. Representatives of the Departments of Labour, Information and the Army, and of the Security Service, attend meetings of the committee as observers. The secretary of the Department of the Interior, Mr. J. A. Carrodus, is the chairman of the committee.
Before the departure of the Prime Minister (Mr.. Curtin) for the United States of America and Britain, early in this year, the committee dealt with and made recommendations to the Government in regard to these matters : - British migration, with particular reference to British ex-service men and women, and assisted British migration other than exservice men and women ; child migration ; and a proposed Jewish settlement in East Kimberley. The committee’s recommendations in regard to these matters were approved by the Government.
The Government decided, however, that the extent to which migration to Australia can be permitted will be largely controlled by Australia’s absorptive capacity, having regard to the housing situation as well as to economic conditions and the rehabilitation of our own people who are engaged in war and war industries.
The Prime Minister, while in Britain, dismissed in an unofficial and preliminary manner the Government’s decisions in regard to British migration. Later, the Australian High Commissioner in London, Mr. Bruce, and the Chief Migration Officer, MajorWheeler, were appointed by the Government to represent the Commonwealth at official discussions with the British Government in, connexion with this matter. The object of these discussions is to draw up an agreement governing British migration.
Recently, an extensive report was submitted by the inter-departmental committee to the Commonwealth Government on the question of white alien migration. This report is at present being, considered by a sub-committee of Cabinet.
In view of the importance attached by the Government to child migration, the inter-departmental committee was recently instructed to give full and detailed consideration to a much larger scheme than that previously submitted. I am advised that the committee has already discussed this matter, and will be in a position in a few days to submit recommendations to the Government. I believe that many thousands of war orphan children will be available in England and on the Continent at the end of hostilities. If brought to Australia and educated in our schools, they would be trained in our way of life, and be readily assimilated into the Australian community.
The Government realizes that publicity will he necessary to give effect to its migration policy. It is of the opinion that such publicity or propaganda must be honest, factual and specific. To that end, the Department of Information was asked to submit a report and recommendations. This report has been prepared, and will be considered by the interdepartmental committee about a fortnight hence.
Another important matter which the committee has been instructed to report upon is the reciprocity of social benefits. It will he realized that migrants from, say, Britain, who have qualified in their own. country for certain social benefits, may be- unwilling to come to Australia unless some scheme has been devised under which they will be eligiblefor social benefits in this country.
It will be seen that considerable progress has been made on the subject of migration. But the Governmentcannot announce its policy in regard to British migration until definite agreement has been reached with the British Government. Moreover, the time at which migration can start in a big way must be governed by the. progress of the Government in rehabilitating Australian service men and war workers. The Government, however, fully realizes that much planning and organization must be perfected in regard to migration before the war ends; otherwise, Australia will not be ready to take its fair proportion of available migrants from both the United . Kingdom and Continental Europe. We must make a realistic approach to the population problem. Australia has an area of 3,000,000 square miles, but carries only 7,300,000 people. In pre-war days, the sharp fall of the birth-rate pointed to a decline of the Australian population, within the next three decades. History will some day reveal how close Australia was to being overrun. Divine Providence was on our side. We might not be given another chance. The cost of this war, and of future defence schemes for this country, must be borne by a greatly increased population. Whilst everything possible should be done to increase the birth-rate, we must also be realists in regard to the necessity for a scientific migration policy. Whatever our preconceived ideas may have been, we must guard against a repetition of the mistakes that were made in connexion with migration after the last war, bearing in mind that our primary responsibility is the rehabilitation of ex-service men and women, and war workers ; but we can. do this in addition to carrying out a migration policy: As our sister dominions and other countries will become keenly interested in securing migrants in the post-war period, Australia will have to bring its plans to the blue-print stage before the end of the war; otherwise, we shallbe left behind in the quest for suitable migrants.
SwEARING-in of OFFICERS.
– During the last sittings of the Parliament, the honorable member for New England persistently expressed doubt as to the truth of a statement by the Minister for War Organization of Industry concerning the swearing-in of officers of his department as officers of the Prices Commission. Is the Minister now in a position to state positively the dates on which such officers were sworn in as officers of the Prices Commission?
– The officers originally required to perform the work mentioned were sworn in by my department in May, 1943. Any other officers since required to assist in the performance of that work were sworn in on the dates on which they joined the section.
– Can the Acting Prime Minister say whether any officers of departments other than the Department of War Organization of Industry have been sworn in as special officers of the Prices Branch, so that they may study the secret files of taxpayers in the Taxation Department, and can he say whether it is proposed to extend this method of evading the taxation laws?
– I am not aware of anysuch swearing-in, but shall have inquiries made.
RESIGNATION of Mr. Justice de Back.
– In relation to the resignation of Mr. Justice de Baun from the chairmanship of the Maritime Industry Commission, because of the failure of the Commonwealth Government to support the commission’s decisions, I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether or not it is correct that some months ago the Government, through responsible Ministers, intimated to the commission its concurrence in the proposed reduction of the seamen’s war risk bonus? If it did so, will the right honorable gentleman state why the Government has changed its mind and run for shelter?
– I have been presiding at a meeting of the Advisory War Council throughout this morning, and I have not received the resignation of Mr. Justice de Baun. I prefer to wait until I have it, before making a statement on the matter. I suggest that the honorable member should place the question on the notice-paper.
– I prefer to repeat the question when the resignation has been received.
Realeases fob the DAIRYING Industry
– Can the Acting Prime Minister inform the House of the position with regard to applications for the release of man-power, such as those in respect of farmers and servicemen, of which no decision has been notified to the farmer or soldier, although the application has been duly recommended by district war agricultural committees and the man-power authorities ?
– I have just received the following teleprinter message from Army Head-quarters : -
The Army decision regarding discharge on all recommendations for release received from the Man Power Directorate is notified to that directorate immediately the decision is made. The Man Power Directorate in turn notifies the applicant.
If the application originates from the soldier himself, he is notified of the final decision through his unit.
In regard to the request for information as to the progress made of releases for dairy farms, I regret that it is not possible to state the actual number discharged for this purpose, as the Army docs not maintain statistics of the industries to which soldiers are released. However, as the result of a recent government decision, the Army has approved the discharge of approximately 4,800 personnel for the dairying industry whose applications had previously been refused.
The majority of the’se discharges have already been effected, and the balance will be finalized within the next few weeks.
I wish to add that future applications received for release to the dairying industry will be subject to the ordinary Army conditions governing occupational discharges, and will not be unconditional as was the case with those already reviewed.
– Last session the Acting Prime Minister as Minister for the Army made a statement that 4.800 men were to be released from the Army. Are those men to be released irrespective of where they are serving and of what their classifications are, that is, unconditionally? That was the promise made by the Minister, (but it is not being carried out. Secondly, are the 8,000 men who, he said, in his statement yesterday, are to be released for the dairying industry, additional to those 4,800, and are they to be released under similar conditions?
– I refer the honorable member to the reply which I made to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro in regard to the 4,800 personnel. I told the honora’ble member for Eden-Monaro that as the result of a recent government decision the Army had approved the discharge of approximately 4,800 personnel for the dairying industry whose applications had previously been refused. That number was discharged irrespective of .the location of the unit, but in the same reply I said that future applications received for release of men to the dairying industry would be subject to the ordinary Army conditions governing occupational discharges, and would not be unconditional a.s was the case with those already reviewed. The Government is most sympathetic towards the dairying industry and arranged for it to receive a very substantial number of the 20,000 men already discharged. The industry is to receive a further 8,000 of the 30,000 men to be discharged up to the 30th June next year. Unfortunately, there are 45,000 demands for man-power for various industries which cannot be satisfied ; while this country is engaged in an all-in war effort, we cannot hope to satisfy all industries making claims for man-power. But the war is not static, and a reconsideration of the whole man-power problem is to take place early next month, and by the end nf December there will be a further review by the Commonwealth War Cabinet after the claims have been considered by the War Commitments Committee representing the three fighting services, the Director-General of Man Power and the Allied Works Council.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister aware that there are still a number of men in New Guinea who have given nineteen or twenty months’ service there, who did not have home leave for six months before going to that area, and who have not had home leave since? Will he look into the matter and see that leave is granted to those men?
– ‘Inquiries will be made immediately into the matter. The CommanderinChief of the Australian Military Forces assured me only a few days ago that he was doing his utmost to give effect to War Cabinet’s decision that leave should be given to the troops at regular intervals, but he said that the granting of leave was dependent on operational requirements and transport facilities. I shall endeavour to obtain the information sought ,by the honorable member.
– Will the Minister for Information make arrangements for copies of that excellent booklet published on behalf of the Department of Information entitled Know Australia, to be circulated to all senior pupils in Australian schools ?
– It is not possible immediately to do as the honorable member suggests, but I hope that I shall be able to meet his wishes later. This book was first produced for the benefit of Australian servicemen engaged overseas, so that they would be in a better position to inform people in other countries about Australia, and also for the benefit of Allied servicemen in this country. The demand for the booklet has been overwhelming. About 70,000 copies of the first edition and 60,000 copies of the second edition were printed. A further reprint has been ordered, and it may be possible to meet the honorable member’s wishes out of that edition. The British Minister for Information recently asked the London office of my department for 20,000 copies of the booklet for circulation among senior pupils in schools in Great Britain.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister make a statement during the present sittings regarding the principles governing the allotment of the 1939-43 Star? Will he explain why men who saw service in New Guinea and Malaya are not qualified for the decoration, whilst members of the Royal Australian Air Force and the Navy who have served in the same theatres are; why members of the Royal Australian Air Force who served in Port Moresby a-re entitled to the star, whilst those who served from Darwin and ranged over the Japanese-occupied territories to the north are not qualified for the decoration; and why members of the civilian crew of the hospital ship Manunda have been awarded the star, whilst it has been denied to the military personnel on that vessel, which has served continuously since it was chartered as a hospital ship?
– As this matter is the subject of negotiation at present with the Government of Great Britain, I am not in a position to make a definite statement with regard to it, but I assure the honorable member that, when finality is reached in those negotiations, the claims of members of the 8th Division who fought in Malaya will not be overlooked. They will have the same recognition as has been given to men who fought in other areas.
– Will the Treasurer inform the House whether, in the event of the raising of a loan of practically £300,000 by the Sydney Turf Club being authorized, real estate restrictions will be lifted to enable- the race clubs not taken over by the Sydney Turf Club, and whose racing licences will automatically be cancelled, to cut up and dispose of their lands and erect buildings thereon for homes and other purposes? If this will not be done, will the Sydney Turf Club be required Vo invest in war loans a sum equal to the amount of the loan authorized?
– Yesterday, I intimated that an application had been received from the Sydney Turf Club and wa3 under consideration. The matter now raised by the honorable member will be considered in connexion with the application.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping give consideration to a change of policy with regard to the installation of producer-gas units in motor lorries which transport primary products in the country districts of New South Wales? I have received a communication from Kempsey stating that, at a meeting of the Kempsey War Road Transport Pool on the 8th November, consisting of carriers engaged in the cartage of primary products and perishable foodstuffs, a decision was reached unanimously that, unless they were allowed to dispense with producer-gas (units on trucks engaged on all essential work by the end of November, they would make arrangements immediately for the discontinuance of operations, unless sufficient petrol was allowed. I understand that the Government of New South Wales is in favour of discontinuance of the use of those units, in view of the great danger of bush-fire extension during the droughtperiod, as well as on account of the damage done to tyres.
– A similar question was asked yesterday by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott). I hope that the Minister for Supply and Ship- . ping, whom I expect to be in his place in the House next week, will be able to announce an early decision on the matter.
– Does not the Acting Prime Minister think that it is of first importance that the Government of the Commonwealth should arrange for the assembling of the members of this Parliament by a more suitable, less crude, and less unpleasant method than that now employed ?
Mr. FORDE. I hope to be able to discuss this matter with the honorable member privately. Full consideration will be given to his views, and his representations will be submitted to Cabinet.
En foi; cement of Penalties - -Olstan Colliery - -REPORT ay Causes of Stoppages
– I direct the attention of the Attorney-General to a resolution carried last week by the Board, of Management of the Miners Federation in the Northern Districts instructing 36 miners employed by the Stockrington No. 2 Colliery not to pay any fines which might be imposed upon them for breaches of National Security Regulations. At the same time, the Government has been informed that, if the miners wages are garnisheed in order to collect the amount of the fines, industrial action will be taken. Is not the giving of such directions a misdemeanour in common law in that they constitute an incitement to defy the law ? Have any prosecutions yet been launched against the men concerned? What action does the Government propose to take in regard to the matter?
– Fines imposed under the regulations are collected in due course without any ministerial direction. I have not seen the resolution referred to. If the honorable member will supply me with a copy of it I may be able to give him a more complete answer. I am sure that he will excuse me from dealing with questions of law in this House.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral say whether it is a fact that the proprietors of the Olstan Colliery - one of the Gregory Forster group of collieries - dismissed one of their employees, and that, Mr. Connell, the local coal authority, ordered his reinstatement, which, however, did not take place? Further, is it a fact that the matter then went to the Central Coal Authority under Mr. Willis, and that the reinstatement of the employee was again ordered? As the refusal of the coal-owners to reinstate this employee has resulted in a stoppage of work at this colliery extending over three weeks, will the Minister say whether or not such action constitutes a breach of the National Security (Man Power) Regulations, under which an owner may not dismiss an employee without consulting the man-power authorities - an action amounting to a claim to the right to hire and fire-
– Order! I ask the honorable member to frame his question properly.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral propose to prosecute the coal company ?
– I shall look into the most recent developments in connexion with the matter to which the honorable member has referred, and supply an answer.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether it is not a fact that nearly twelve months ago the Government appointed a committee to investigate the causes of stoppages in the coal-mining industry in order to determine particularly whether the employers or the employees were principally at fault? Has that committee yet submitted its report to the Government? If so, why has not the report been made public? Is it because the report reveals that except in one or two instances the employers were in no way responsible for stoppages?
– If the actual report of that committee has not been placed before the House, honorable members have at least been informed of the substance of it on several occasions. So far as I recollect, the committee reported that in relation to stoppages in the industry the faults were on both sides.
– To-day, members of this House enjoyed the privilege of witnessing a film entitled Attack. Could the Minister for Information ‘arrange for the exhibition of the film, throughout Australia so that citizens might see it free of charge?
– The film is .indeed a very fine one.- I shall see what can be done to meet the wishes of the honorable member. Indeed, his proposal has been anticipated in some measure because, during the second victory loan campaign in Tasmania, the film was extensively used. It may be used in connexion with other loan campaigns, or it may- be lent to civic bodies for use in connexion with war activities. The honorable member’s request will receive sympathetic consideration.
– *-Does not the Minister think that it would: he better to exhibit an Australian picture?
– In reply to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr- Harrison)-
– Order ! ‘ The interjection of the Deputy Leader was disorderly, and the Minister would be out of order in replying to it.
Proposed Australian Edition
– Just before his departure to the United States of America, the Minister for Trade and Customs said that a licence to produce a newspaper in New South Wales would be issued to the notorious anglophobe, Colonel McCormick, the proprietor of the Chicago newspaper Tribune, which is noted for its frequent attacks against everything British. In view of the slur which this newspaper recently cast upon Australia, and in view of the fact that it is well known that Colonel McCormick’s sentiments are not endorsed by the majority of Americans, does the Government intend to allow the paper to be produced in Australia, even though it is supposed to be for circulation only amongst the troops of the United States of America?
– This matter does not come under the control of the Department of Information. It affects the administration of the Minister for Trade and Customs–
– Who is in America.
– He is represented in this House by a Minister other than myself. I suggest that the honorable member address his question to the appropriate Minister.
– Earlier to-day I asked the Minister for Information who, I thought, was the “ Warwick “ of the newspapers - but apparently he is not- whether the notorious anglophobe McCormick, who defames the British Empire and has cast many slurs on Australia, had been given permission to print his newspaper in Australia, as the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) said, before going abroad, would be the case, and if he had been given that permission, whether the Government intended to allow it to continue in view of his present activities. Will some responsible or irresponsible Minister reply ?
– The question is entirely out of order. The’ honorable member cannot receive an answer until he learns how to put questions in proper form.
– Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say what progress has been made with the repair of the Wyndham meat works so that they will be ready for use early in the killing season next year?
– I have had several conferences with the Meat Controller regarding this project, and we realize the importance of getting the works into operation as soon as possible. The machinery had- been dismantled, and difficulty was experienced in obtaining essential parts. I shall obtain a progress report from the Meat Controller, and shall inform the honorable member of the exact position.
– According to the Queensland Government Statistician, vegetable plantings and proposed plantings in Queensland show a decided increase. At the same time, because of troop movements, consumption is likely to decline. Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture arrange for the provision in Queensland of adequate canning or dehydrating facilities, or perhaps for both, in order to cope with the surplus vegetables which it is expected will be produced ?
– Did the honorable member say that an increase or decrease was expected ?
– An increase.
– I am pleased to hear that. We are being blamed by every one because there have been decreases. Evidently Queensland is the one bright spot. I shall give immediate consideration to the honorable member’s request. I have on several occasions when in Brisbane made it known through the Department of Agriculture, and also in direct statements to the public, that if the growers of that State can guarantee a continuous supply of vegetables the Government will do its best to provide for them a dehydration or canning plant.
– by leave - Yesterday, the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) asked me a question regarding the future role of the Volunteer Defence Corps. I am now in a position to make a statement regarding the future of this organization. Approval has been given for a further substantial portion of the Volunteer Defence Corps in metropolitan areas throughout Australia to be placed on a reserve basis.1 This development is the outcome of the continued success of the Allied forces north of Australia, which has further reduced the threat to the Australian homeland, and has made it possible to re-organize our forces in accordance with their changeover from a defensive to an offensive role. The personnel now being placed on reserve comprise those who have been carrying out duties in connexion with anti-aircraft, coast artillery, searchlights, and infantry close defence in the various fortress areas. The manner in which these duties have been performed has reflected great credit on all concerned, and has relieved materially the man-power situation by releasing a considerable number of full-time members of the Australian Military Forces for service in forward areas. As a result of this decision, 95 per cent, of the corps will in future be on a reserve basis; the remainder will still be required to perform voluntary duty in coast and anti-aircraft artillery and searchlight units at certain defended posts for some time, in order to enable more Australian Military Forces men to be released for active service in operational areas.
I emphasize that the placing of members on a reserve basis does not mean that the Volunteer Defence Corps is being disbanded. It is still essential to retain the unit organization, and to carry out the modified training prescribed, which amounts to one parade each month, to enable members to retain their skill at arms. It is confidently anticipated that metropolitan units will carry on these activities with the same enthusiasm as has been shown by country units, which have been carrying out rifle practices on a competitive basis since being placed on the reserve in July last.
-! ask the Acting Minister for Defence whether he will consider cancelling the order recalling Volunteer Defence Corps rifles and equipment insofar as it refers to the north-west coastal areas of Western Australia, where the Volunteer Defence Corps units have rendered a most valuable service.
– Prompt consideration will be given o the honorable gentleman’s representations.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister seen a statement by the Minister for Information that the Government may have to consider taking over two Sydney newspapers in the same way as it took over the Coalcliff Colliery in order to give news to the public ? Should the Government decide to do so, will it also arrange for the Minister for Information to edit one such newspaper, and the Minister for Transport the other, so that the Government may be assured that the propaganda technique of certain foreign countries will be faithfully emulated ?
– The answer to the first part of the honorable member’s question is “No”, and to the second part of his question the answer is “ See reply to No. 1 “.
– In view of the large financial interests of W. R. Carpenter and Company and of Burns Philp and Company in New Guinea and neighbouring areas, can the Acting Prime Minister say whether it is a fact that these companies have offered to the Commonwealth a sum of money to provide a scholarship for students taking the course of tropical medicine at the Sydney University ?
– I had not previously heard of this generous offer, but 1 am glad to hear that it has been made, and I am sure that it will be gratefully availed of by the appropriate authority. I shall discuss the matter further with the honorable gentleman after question time.
– There appears to be grave danger that, unless effective action be taken, we may have in Australia a “ dust-bowl “ similar to that of the United States of America. “Will the Acting Prime Minister bring before Cabinet the necessity for summoning an early conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, as well as scientific and engineering experts, with a view to framing a longrange national plan to deal with drought and soil erosion problems?
– The Government has already given a good deal of consideration to this matter; it was one of the subjects discussed at the recent Premiers Conference. The Government of New South Wales has already set up a department to deal with erosion problems. Realizing the great importance of this matter to the future of Australia, the Commonwealth Government will have it further considered at the earliest possible date.
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service make available emergency labour to the manufacturers of sheep nuts in order to enable them to provide sufficient sheep nuts for starving sheep iii the outback districts of Australia?
– Yes. I have already had a conferrence with some of the people concerned, and I shall consult with them again.
– In view of the fact that six weeks have elapsed since I asked about certain taxation claims in respect of royalties paid to Mr. Owen, the inventor of the Owen gun, will the Acting Prime Minister inform the House whether a decision in this matter has yet been reached ? If he cannot answer my question to-day, will he make a full statement on the subject to-morrow, and indicate whether the Government intends suitably to reward Mr. Owen for his services to the nation?
– I shall be pleased to let the honorable member have a reply to-morrow.
Jensen Report - Appraisement Centres
– Can the Acting Prime Minister say whether copies of the report on the future of the wool industry, known as the Jensen report, hare been circulated among supporters of the Government, and, if so, will he say why copies have not been made available to members of the Opposition who represent wool-growing electorates? I should also like to know whether the Government proposes to continue the practice of giving vital information on the future of Australian industries to only one side in politics?
– The report of Mr. J. K Jensen, the chairman of the Secondary Industries Commission, was submitted to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. It is not a parliamentary paper, or a report to members of Parliament generally. The report will’ be the subject of consideration and action by the Government.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether finality has been reached with respect to the proposed establishment of a wool appraisement centre at Townsville?
– A committee has been appointed to investigate the suitability of various places in Queensland for wool appraisement centres, and it will visit Queensland in the near future.
– Will the Minister arrange for the committee to visit the northern and central-west areas of Queensland with a view to establishing wool appraisement centres in those woolgrowing regions?
– Several centres in Queensland have already been listed for investigation by this committee. I shall submit the honorable member’s request to that body, which, I am sure, will accede to it.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether it is a fact that some weeks ago a number of Australian prisoners in the hands of the Japanese were rescued from a vessel which was torpedoed ? I understand that that vessel was transporting Australians who had been captured in Singapore to Japan. If that be the case, has the Government any good reason for refusing to inform the public of the circumstances in which prisoners in the hands of the Japanese are being treated or of the loss of Australian lives through the sinking of that vessel? Such information would relieve considerable public apprehension on this matter.
– This matter has been the subject of consultation between the Commonwealth and British Governments, anc! a statement upon the subject will be made at an early date in the House of Commons. I hope to be able to make :i similar statement to this House before the conclusion of the sittings this week.
– I direct the attention of the Minister for Transport to the claims of servicemen whose parents reside in one State and their wives in another State. For instance, many servicemen who enlisted in the State in which they resided with their parents marry in another State subsequent to enlistment. I understand that at present when such servicemen return to Australia on leave after a long period on active service they are obliged to make a choice between spending their leave in the State in which their wives reside or spending it in the State in which their parents reside, because they cannot obtain a. rail travel priority for their wives to travel with them should they desire to visit their parents. I ask that rail travel priorities be made available to the wives of servicemen in the circumstances I have described.
– Following strong personal representations by the honorable member, this matter has been considered and instructions have been issued that all applications for rail travel priorities for wives of servicemen who want to visit their parents in another State shall be considered on their merits, and where the bona fides of an applicant are established a permit shall be issued.
– Prefacing a question which I desire to ask the Minister for Repatriation, I cite the following facts: A soldier who joined the Militia in 1938 gave up his employment in 1939 in order to join the staff of the local area office where he served until his discharge on medical grounds at the end of 1942. At the time he joined up he was in perfect health, but now heis unable to work for any length of time. He has made several applications for repatriation assistance. His first application was not even acknowledged by the Repatriation Commission, and later he was informed that the commission could find no trace of his claim. He again tookup the matter, and was told to present himself for medical examination in May, 1944, but to date he has heard nothing further. This man had difficulty in obtaining a permit to start a small furniture factory at his home. Finally when he obtained such permission, he was not allowed to employ la’bour. Later he was given permission to employ one youth who is now due to be called up at any time. This man cannot obtain a furniture finisher, because he was not in business during 1938, which was taken as the base year for the fixation of quotas ; and he is allowed only four gallons of paint of one colour a month, and therefore finds it impossible to compete in the trade. He is also unable to obtain plywoods.
– Order ! The honorable member is not asking a question.
– Will the Minister take action to relieve exservicemen iri distress in- the circumstances I have described, particularly as many cases of this kind are submitted to him personally. Will he expedite consideration of applications of this kind by exservicemen ?
– If the honorable member will give me the name of the man whose case he has cited I shall look into it.
– I gave the man’s name to the Minister two months ago.
– Obviously, I cannot give an answer offhand on an individual case. Very often when I investigate complaints of this kind I find that the facts are not as stated by honorable members. I am certain that the department treats every application for the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen promptly and sympathetically.
– I ask the Minister for Information whether it is a fact that externa] communications from this country to Great Britain are still subject to censorship whilst communications from Great Britain to Australia are not subject to censorship? Does he not consider that a considerable saving of manpower could be effected by eliminating the censorship of such communications.
Mr.CALWELL.- There is a censorship on outward cables and letters.
– There is not on communications from Great Britain to here.
Mr.CALWELL. - There is no censorship on inward communications from Great Britain, because of the simple fact that there is a censorship in that country upon outward cables and letters.
– I am advised that there is no censorship at all on matter leaving Great Britain.
Mr.CALWELL.- On the contrary, the censorship in Great Britain upon outward communications was so strict that for some time preceding “ D “ Day even the contents of diplomatic bags were subject to it.
– In view of the uncer tainty regarding the activities of the Air Training Corps, will the Minister representing the Minister for Air make an early statement to the House setting out the Government’s policy regarding the future of this splendid youth organization ?
– The matter is now under consideration, and I hope to give the House the information for which the honorable member has asked before the session closes.
Trade Union Officials
– Can the Minister for Labour and National Service furnish me with a statement of the circumstances in which two employees of a dairy at Whyalla were forced to join the Ironworkers Union? Will he also when replying disclose whether this Government is prepared to set any limits to the arrogance, impudence and tyranny of certain trade union officials in the Commonwealth ?
– I do not think that I shall be able to make a statement on such an impossible proposition as the honorable member has suggested. As to the alleged impudence and arrogance of trade union officials, I do not think those people have anything “ on “ the honorable member himself.
– Does the Government intend to proceed with the Aluminium Industry Bill during the present sittings of the Parliament?
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture consider the desirability of including olive oil in an order promulgated by him, known as the Edible Oils Order? If the Minister agrees to such action, willhe then take steps to make available to the public certain large stocks of olive oil held in bond in Sydney, which the owners have declined to sell on the open market at the price fixed by the Prices Commissioner ?
– The honorable member raised this matter with me some time ago. I ordered an investigation, and I think an assurance was given that those who were holding the oil would be a little more liberal in meeting the public demand. However, I shall discuss the matter with the Controller-General of Food, and see whether it is not possible to do something that will enable the public to secure this essential product which has been so long denied to it.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture about a published statement, made by the president and secretary of the Australian Wheat-growers Federation on their return from an interview with the Minister in, I think, Sydney. Those gentlemen reported that they had received an assurance from the Minister during that interview that the Australian Wheat Board would be credited with an amount, on account of wheat which had been sold by direction of the Government at concessional prices, which would bring the realization of that wheat to the board up to the level of the average realizations over the year of wheat sold for export. Is that a correct statement of the assurance given by the Minister? Incidentally, if it is, will the Minister in future himself make statements of public policy involving millions of pounds, rather than allow them to be made for him by private citizens following interviews with him?
– The report referred to by the honorable member is not quite correct, for the export price was not directly referred to by me. The only assurance I gave to the deputation was that which I gave to honorable members in replying to a debate on a motion for adjournment moved by the’ honorable member for Indi at our last sittings, when I said that average realizations of the pool would be taken into consideration, and that I intended to make a submission to Cabinet seeking approval for an amount of money to be placed to the credit of the pool to bring the payments for concession wheat up to the average realization figure. That was substantially the statement I made to the deputation.
Debate resumed from the 15th November (vide page 1827), on motion by Dr. Evatt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– in reply - The Government has been pleased that honorable members have agreed, practically unanimously, to ratify this bill, although certain criticisms have been made in the course of the debate, 1 shall refer to some of these in my speech. My second-reading speech on the measure was made several months ago, since when several developments have occurred. An indication of these will also answer many of the questions which have been put during the debate. In some respects governments of liberated countries have been established more rapidly than was considered possible. In some respects, and in some countries, the situation is not so desperate as was feared. At the same time, the need for relief is no less great or urgent.
I agree with some of the criticisms which have been made regarding the actual organization of the administration. There are two points to be remembered : This is the first United Nations post-war administration to be formed. As the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) observed, the best available people for work of this nature are already employed in war-time activities. Inexperience and lack of suitable personnel may lead to the development of an administration which is cumbersome and burdened with too large a staff. In my view - and it is a view which I know is shared by many observers at Washington - the central machinery of Unrra must, in the interests of efficiency, be subjected to continuous scrutiny.
Another factor which has hindered the effectiveness of the administration is that it is not allowed to operate until the armies of occupation permit it to do so. Tha* explains the absence so far of Unrra from Greece. The result is that this large organization has spent over a year in preparation, and has not yet had an opportunity to test itself in the field and adjust itself in the light of experience.
Unfortunately, perhaps, too much attention was devoted in the debate yesterday to the military operations in Greece. The only question before the House was whether the people of Greece should be helped. I believe that everybody will agree that throughout the war the people of Greece, in co-operating with the forces of the United Nations, have shown a courage almost equal to that of the Greek Armies. The people of Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand - all of us - owe to the people of Greece undying gratitude, and they will, therefore, agree that Greek civilians should be helped through Unrra. At present, however, the armies of liberation are still in Greece, and they rightly consider that the first task is to clear the enemy from Greek territory. All available transport and organization is therefore being devoted to that primary task. In the meantime, Unrra is waiting to assume its responsibilities in relation to the relief and rehabilitation of the civilian population.
Insofar as the Pacific and Far Eastern area is concerned, the Australian Government is desirous of making relief a practical and effective means of assisting the populations of liberated territories to return to satisfactory conditions of health and welfare. As a result of our representations, a branch office is being set up in Sydney, and whatever the difficulties are which have hindered the work of the administration in other areas, we shall do what we can to see that they do not apply in this area. It is important to Australia, both now and in the future, that relief in this area should be effective. Meetings of the Far East Regional Committee and its technical sub-committees on health, displaced persons, agriculture, welfare and industrial rehabilitation will be held in Sydney early next year.
From the point of view of preparations for the time when the administration will be permitted to operate, I submit additional facts to honorable members: Countries requiring relief have been asked to supply estimates of likely needs. Discussions on supply matters have taken place between representatives of the Governments of the United .States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Cuba.
Tentative estimates of relief requirements have now been supplied by Unrra to the Combined Supply Boards, but it has not been considered desirable to have supplies allocated directly to the adminis tration to the full extent of estimated needs. In a period of scarce supplies it has been considered unwise to allocate for needs that may arise in the future at the expense of currently existing urgent demands. What Unrra has done has been to secure the co-operation of the Combined Boards and the supplying countries in promptly making available supplies, when the need arises. Allocations have been made by the Combined Boards of various goods such as agricultural machinery, footwear, medical supplies, textile bags, seeds and foodstuffs - these allocations will become available at varying dates in 1944 and 1945.
Unrra has, “however, placed special emphasis on creating a reserve of supplies that will permit prompt relief and rehabilitation. Such a reserve exists already in the Middle East. Also advantage has been taken of seasonal and nonrecurring surpluses. In respect of goods that will not be available in adequate quantities unless orders are placed now, for example, finished clothing, Unrra has taken steps to place such orders.
The governments of several occupied countries have themselves arranged for procurement of supplies. In the terms of the Unrra agreement these have been co-ordinated by the Director-General and wherever possible, in the light of the supply position, they have been approved.
The total Unrra staff, including all grades, located at Washington, London, Cairo, Chungking, Algiers and Casablanca, numbered, on the 30th June, 1944, nearly 1,000. Of this number 450 were in Washington and 300 in London. Nationals of 21 member governments were represented. In addition, 260 persons attached to voluntary organizations were, on the loth July, 1944, serving in the Middle East in co-operation with Unrra.
Training schools for field workers have been established in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Cairo. A quota of Australians will be employed on the staff of the administration. During the recent visit of Mr. Lithgow Osborne and Mr. Rolf Nugent, a number of applicants were interviewed and a preliminary selection was made. Some 50 Australians are to be appointed to the administration’s staff immediately. I want honorable members to understand that the appointments are to ‘be made, not by the Australian Government directly, but by this organization.
– On the same basis as in connexion with food relief?
– Yes. In addition, many Australians will be employed in the Sydney branch office to which I have referred. The Australian Council of Unrra consists of representatives of voluntary societies such as the Red Cross, bodies such as the Young Men’s Christian Association and the Young Women’s Christian Association, and all the churches in Australia. These have ‘proved in peace-time that they are really zealous in work of this type. It is expected that through that great council of different bodies many teams of field workers will be drawn from voluntary organizations to serve in the liberated countries of Europe and the Ear East.
Unrra recognizes that the closest cooperation must exist between the administration and the military authorities. Obviously some time must elapse before civilian relief workers can enter newly liberated territory, and accordingly relief measures immediately after liberation are undertaken by the military authorities. As a working basis, the period of military responsibility has been taken as six months.
Such countries as France and Belgium will probably he able to procure and pay for most, if not all, of their relief requirements. In these countries Unrra’s task will be to aid in the procurement of goods and to assist in the return of displaced persons. Other countries, such as Greece, have been reduced to such destitution that they will need all the help which Unrra can supply.
Plans for a Balkan mission are well advanced, and close liaison with the military authorities has been established through the head-quarters of that mission at Cairo. The military authorities have already requested Unrra to act as their agents for relief distribution in Greece, Yugoslavia and Albania.
Working relations in respect of Western Europe have been established with the Supreme Head-quarters, Allied Expedi tionary Force. Especial attention is being paid to the displaced persons problem.
In the Middle East, Unrra has, since the 1st May, 1944, been administering six refugee centres, in Egypt, Palestine and Syria, originally administered by the Middle East Relief and Refugee Administration. The estimated population of these camps in September. 1944, was 53,000. Greeks, Italians, Yugoslavs, Albanians and others driven from their homelands are cared for in these camps. All physically fit refugees are required to work at these camps; for instance, as carpenters and painters in the case of men, and in the case of women, sewing or knitting is organized. Small allowances are paid to those unable to work:
Until recently, Unrra’s general policy has been that operations should be carried out in enemy or ex-enemy countries only if the council approves the scale and nature of the proposed operations and if the countries pay. At the recent session of the council, however, that policy was modified and the administration was authorized, without the need of obtaining prior approval of the council, to carry on operations in enemy countries with respect to displaced persons and epidemics. Authority was also given for thu expenditure in Italy of a maximum of $50,000,000 for the following limited purposes, namely, medical and sanitary aid and supplies, displaced persons within Italy, and the care of children and of nursing and expectant mothers. Italy is to be liable, however, to repay the cost if it is found able to do so. People who have been the victims of oppression were also included within the scope of Unrra’s activities.
Unrra’s nine committees, the regional committees for Europe and the Far East, the committees on supplies and financial control, and the technical committees on agriculture, displaced persons, health, industrial rehabilitation and welfare, have met regularly and formulated policies in their respective spheres.
Unrra is undertaking the revision of the International (Maritime and Aerial) Sanitary Conventions. These conventions, relating to quarantine measures, have in some respects become out of date. The authority which normally’ would undertake this revision is the International Office of Public Health. Since the war, however, the body has noi met, and, in view of the urgent need for the session of the convention,’ Unrra has under La ken the task. ‘Member governments have been asked to submit their comments on draffs which have been supplied.
The Australian Government has completed a survey of Australia’s supply position, and estimates are revised periodically in the light of changing conditions. It is obvious that the Department of External Affairs is concerned primarily with the international aspect of this organization. A department of the government will have to administer the whole of the supply side of Unrra in relation to Australia, and shortly the Minister to be charged with that responsibility will have to be named. No orders have yet been placed with Australia, for the reason that in view of our existing commitments we are not yet in a position to divert our man-power to the supply of relief goods. However, that problem is being examined by the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman), who will probably have charge of our Unrra activities
I shall now reply more specifically to the points raised during the debate. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) suggested that the operation of a council is likely to delay work. It is true that the first meeting of a council lasted some weeks, but this was only because it was the first meeting. The second meeting, which took place recently in Montreal, lasted but a few days, and concentrated on one or two outstanding matters of importance, such as the application of relief- to enemy countries, and the revision of sanitary regulations.
I agree with the observations of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan). This organization is well described as one for “ mutual aid for peace and it is important as the first post-war United Nations organization. The attitude of governments to this organization will be a demonstration of their good faith and intention to support the other United Nations organizations which are at present proposed. t The suggestion of the honorable member that the trade union movement be represented on the Australian council for Unrra has already been adopted, and we look for the help which, the movement can give.
The operation of relief will in no way be permitted to hinder the prosecution of the war with Japan. The combined boards are used by Unrra so that any claim Unrra makes is made to these boards and is considered along with the urgent war-time needs. In this way there is also co-ordination of wartime operations and relief. Moreover, there is a close link between the food and agriculture organization and relief. The effects of relief will often be of a long-term character, and it is important to establish continuity between wartime organizations, the relief organization, and the permanent Food and- Agriculture Organization. As regards shipping, it is true that there is no specific provision mentioned in the agreement; but here again relief makes its demands on the combined war-time organizations, so that there can be no competition between war-time and relief objectives.
I agree with the observations of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) regarding the provision for education and occupational training and the restoration of the voluntary organizations in the countries receiving relief. His suggestion that members of this House might help on the Australian council of Unrra, and in relief work generally, is one which will be kept in mind.
There is the danger, which the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) pointed out, that some people, seeking limelight, attracted by the apparent glamour of relief work, or wishing to escape from responsibilities at home, might seek appointment either with the Unrra administration itself, or with field units sponsored by voluntary organizations. Unrra is as anxious to avoid this as we are, and the Government, working with the Australian council of Unrra, which is composed of voluntary societies, will do its utmost to secure appointments of able, energetic and altruistic men and women.
I am attracted by the suggestion of the honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha) regarding Unrra as a field for training young diplomats. I am especially examining the possibility of inducing Unrra to appoint those who have given combat service in this war.’ Nearly every diplomatic cadet at -present in the External Affairs Department has had combat service, and some of these would benefit greatly by work with Unrra. So, I think, would Unrra. Some have served in Greece, and I hope it can be arranged for some to return to help those who helped them in a time of desperate need.
Arrangements have already been made for inspection by the appropriate Commonwealth department - the Department of Commerce and Agriculture - of all goods shipped for Unrra. I agree that it is important, not only to examine qualities, but also to see that a prominent Australian mark shall appear on all goods for the purpose, not so much to advertise the goods as to show to the people concerned that Australia’s interest in them is real and abiding. That will be done. In the same way, I believe that all Australian personnel serving in Unrra uniforms should have an Australian insignia prominently displayed just as have our servicemen wherever they may be serving.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) appeared to be opposed to the ratification of this bill, but I do not think that he seriously objects to it. He asked why the contribution to Unrra is fixed in terms of money. My reply is that under the agreement Articles 5 and 6 contemplate that it shall be so fixed, and most of the contribution will be expended in supplies which will have to be procured from Australia. The £12,000,000 is fixed at a percentage of .the national incomes of all of the United Nations in relation to the year which ended on the 30th June last. The honorable member is also under a misapprehension about the Australian personnel. Those officers will not be sent abroad to administer our contribution to the fund. The money goes, in a sense, into a common pool,- although the goods for the most part will be purchased here. We are parties ito this agreement, and we must take a share in the administration, not of the Australian contribution, but of the international organization with which we are to he associated. The honorable member - I hope facetiously - read through the list of the countries comprising the United Nations. Not long ago he would not have favoured the inclusion of one or two of the countries whose inclusion he now approves.
– Take Liberia, for instance. ‘Can the Minister tell me what that country has contributed towards the war effort, or is likely to contribute to the cost of Unrra?
– There are over 40 of the United Nations, and I have no doubt that even Liberia is making its contribution to the common effort. All are working towards a common end. It is a mistake to regard international arrangements of this kind as necessarily bad or as necessarily good. The honorable member is inclined to reject all of them, but we should judge them according to their purposes, and then determine whether Australia should participate in them. Such proposals should be carefully scrutinized before we accept them, and this agreement has been carefully scrutinized.
The task of providing relief will be a very difficult one, and it is wise for us to be cautious. We should do our utmost to emphasize the practical side of relief and rehabilitation. For the most part, our contribution must come from our own physical resources, subject to the overriding requirements of the war itself. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), in his speech, emphasized one aspect of the matter. It is perfectly true that what Australia can do will depend on what is physically possible rather than on what is financially possible. The position was not put in exactly that way by the honorable member, but that is what he conveyed. Our contribution will depend on what we can give out of our production.
– The practice for many years has been for governments to enter into these agreements and to submit them to Parliament afterwards. I suggest that that reduces the Parliament to a very subordinate role.
– That depends on the bind of agreement. There are some agreements such as that referred to by the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) yesterday, dealing with the international monetary and financial plan, as to which the Commonwealth Government has not yet made any commitment. That requires the prior assent of this Parliament. The agreement now under consideration, however, is in a different category, and no objectionhas been taken to it. The task of Unrra, although difficult, is a noble one. It appeals to the compassionate instincts of all mankind, and “the nobler a soul is the more objects of compassion it hath”.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Messages reported recommending appropriation for the purposes of the bill, and for the purposes of an amendment to be moved by the Minister for External Affairs.
In committee (Consideration of Administrator’s messages) :
Motions (by Dr. Evatt) proposed - (1.) That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to approve the agreement for United Nations Belief and Rehabilitation Administration between the Commonwealth of Australiaand certain other nations and authorities, and for other purposes. (2.) That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of an amendment to be moved by the Minister of State for External Affairs in a bill for an act to approve the agreement for United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration between the Commonwealth of Australia and certain other nations and authorities, and for other purposes.
.- The committee is now considering the appropriation of certain moneys for the purposes of Unrra, and this seems to me to be the appropriate stage at which to ask how the money is to be expended. I desire information regarding the staff that will be employed by the organization to be set up as the result of the appropriation by this bill of £12,000,000. L suggest that provision should be made for the employment in Unrra and in the food and agriculture organization, as well as in the Department of External Affairs generally, of young men discharged from the Army, even though they may be over the age of 25, which is the upper limit fixed for those seeking diplomatic cadetships. In the early months of the war, the pick of Aus tralia’s young men joined the forces, many of them evading the regulations designed to restrict the enlistment of those engaged in certain occupations. Among them was a large proportion of the better educated men who gave promise of taking outstanding positions in the professions, in commerce or in production. By a process of selection, which is even more drastic in the armed forces than in civil life, some of them have risen to positions of authority and responsibility as captains, majors and colonels. They enlisted in 1939, and it maybe 1947 before they are released from the forces. By that time they will have passed the age when, ordinarily, they would be eligible for cadetships in the Department of External Affairs. They arc holding key positions in the forces now, some of them commanding battalions or even regiments. Because of the nature of modern war, and because of the relatively long intervals between campaigns, the training of these officers in leadership and administration has been more exacting than was the case during the last war. Some of them, when they enlisted, were in the middle of university courses ; others had just started work. Since they have been in the forces their training and experience have tended to fit them for administrative positions rather than for the callings which they had previously planned to follow. It would bo an admirable thing for Unrra, for the Department of External Affairs, and for the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, too, for that matter, if they could dip into this reservoir of trained men for peacetime administrators. I hope that the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) will indicate that it is the policy of the Government to give such men preference when making appointments to Unrra. In that event it will not be necessary for me to move an amendment..
Several of the men who have distinguished themselves in the Department of External Affairs, such as Mr. R. G. Casey, Mr. Keith Officer and Colonel Hodgson, the Secretary of the department, had experience as young men in executive positions in the Army. Unrra will provide a bridge over which some of the young leaders now in the Army can pass from military to peace-time occupations. “We know that there is a surplus of officers in the Army and the Royal Australian Air Force. and if Unrra could be staffed by. some of them it would he preferable1 to restricting the appointment to men wirehave not found a niche for themselves in war activities, perhaps because they are not of the same calibre as the righting men to whom I have referred.
– I support the proposal of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle - Page.) The Minister is well aware that there are in the fighting forces many young men who gave up their training in colleges and universities in order to help their country in its hour of trial. They have acquitted themselves with distinction. Some have risen from the ranks, and arc now senior commissioned officers. Others hold high staff positions, or are in command of UnitS. They will find themselves in a different position when they arc discharged from the forces, because for years they have been dissociated from civil life. If they were appointed to positions with Unrra they would work in countries where the people had become used to regimentation, and their war training would be invaluable to them. In the ordinary course of events men discharged from the Army will be handicapped because of the long period of useful service which they have rendered to their country. Men who joined the services in -1989 -may not re-enter civil life until 1948, or even 1949. By then they would not be eligible for appointment as Unrra officials because they would be over age. I urge the Government to accept the suggestion of the right honorable member for Cowper, and give these men special consideration, particularly in view of their training, and the qualifications which they will possess.
– Had the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) heard my reply to the second-reading debate, he would have known that the view of the Government is that for this class of work servicemen with actual combat experience in this war are most suitable.
That policy has been followed in the appointment of diplomatic cadets; every one of them has not merely served in one of the service departments, but has actually been in a combat area during the present war; some of them having been awarded honours and decorations. In my opinion, a similar policy should apply to Unrra appointments; hut that is a matter for Unrra, not for the Government, because the Government will not make the appointments, although it may make recommendations. In making recommendations, effect will be given to the suggestions made here to-day.
– “Will the right honorable .gentleman explain what he means when he says that the appointments will not he made by the Government?
– The Government has not the right to make these appointments. On behalf of Australia it will contribute to the organization, and its representatives will attend the periodical meetings of the council, which is the governing body, but Unrra will he the appointing authority.
– Will not Australia supply some of the personnel ?
– Australia is about to supply some of the personnel.
– Then cannot these conditions be observed?
– That is exactly what I have said ; we :shall ask that they be observed. The Government will do its utmost to see that men of the right kind are appointed, and that servicemen will be given the utmost consideration, although not to the entire exclusion of others.
– What authority in this country is making the selections ?
– The appointing authority is the organization which has been established under an international agreement - the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. That administration will appoint, pay, and dismiss. It, not the Government, will be .the employer. Recently, two officials from Unrra - Messrs. Osborne and Nugent - visited Australia, in order to ‘deal with the applications for employment with that organization.
– “Who are these men, and where do they come from?
– They are officials of Unrra, and have come here from the United States of America. Indeed they are citizens of that country.
– Their names mean nothing to us.
– In Great Britain there are between 300 and 500 persons connected with the Unrra organization. Twenty-two nations have subscribed to the agreement.
– Mr. Osborne has recently been appointed1 an ambassador.
– That is so. He has been appointed by President Roosevelt to be the Ambassador of the United States of America’ te Norway, but he has not yet given up his position with Unrra. Broadly speaking, I think that the objects which honorable members have in mind will be given effect, but I repeat that the Commonwealth Government is not the appointing authority, nor will it pay or dismiss any official of the organization.
– -Will consideration be given to my suggestion in connexion with appointments to the Department of External Affairs?
– That has already been done. During the temporary absence of the right honorable gentleman from the chamber, I pointed out that, without exception, cadets appointed to that department had hot only been in a service department, but had actually served in a combat area in this war, and that some of them had. been decorated for meritorious service.
– What about the age limit and its effect upon men in the services ?
– I appreciate the point which the right honorable gentleman has raised, and, broadly speaking, I am in agreement with him, as I think every Australian should be.
.- I support the remarks of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) regarding the age limit as applicable to these appointments, but that is something- apart from the subject under discussion. Under the present rules relating to: the appointment of cadets to’ the Department of External Affairs, even a
Rhodes scholar might not be eligible- for appointment, because, of the age limit of’ 25 years. It is essential that the age limit shall not be adhered to in respect of service personnel when appointments are made to the Department of External Affairs-. I hope- that we understand one another in this connexion.
– I am sympathetic to the suggestion, but the- matter does not arise under this bill.
– Unless a departure from the age limit be made, service personnel will ,be shut out; therefore, a definite ruling should be made.
Australians who may join Unrra’ may be- absent from this country for many years. I was astonished to hear one honorable member say that persons would join this” organization because of the glamour associated with it. I assure him that there will be little glamour; on the contrary, this service will entail a lot of hard work. Any one who has seen conquered countries knows that these appointees will have to work amongst starving people, and in districts in which typhus, small-pox, and other diseases exist. They will have to face many hardships, and may themselves contract diseases. The purpose of this administration is to give effect’ to that part of the Atlantic Charter which aims at freedom from want. Some honorable members saw to-day a picture which must have moved them deeply; The problems are so tremendous that we should put aside all differences- in order to- make the organization work effectively. I believe that it will work because of the spiritbehind it. For that reason, I was astonished that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) should attempt to pour ridicule on the proposal by referring to the number of smaller nations which will be associated withUnrra. I remind him that- the great powers also are signatories to the agreement, and- that statistics are available regarding- the conditions in Greece. There is, unfortunately, ample evidence that many thousands of Greeks have died from starvation-. Among those who wi1! go abroad to- carry out this work will be some mem’bers of service departments, but there- will also be others, such as members of the medical and nursing professions, and social service workers. Many of these will possess high qualifications. I understand that the representatives of the American organization and the SecretaryGeneral of the Australian Red Cross Society are interviewing the applicants, pending the making of a selection from them. I hope that these citizens will not be neglected should they suffer in the performance of their work.
– The Minister has said that they will not be employees of the Commonwealth Government.-
– I do not suggest that the provisions of the Australian Soldiers Repatriation Act should .be extended to cover them, but I should like to have an assurance that the Government will not forget them, and that sympathetic consideration will be given to their cases in much the same way as it is given to servicemen who suffer disabilities resulting from their war service, or to the dependants of those who lose their lives. Failing that, some ex gratia payment could be made. Knowing something about the conditions that prevailed in the Balkan countries, for instance, during and after the 1914-18 conflict, I have some idea of the difficulties which officials of Unrra will be called upon to face. Can the Minister for External Affairs indicate that the Government will give sympathetic consideration to the suggestions which have been made?
– I give that assurance at once.
Mr. ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) 1 4.21], - The further this discussion goes the more interesting it becomes. The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has just said that the employer, the selector of these people to go overseas, is not to be the Commonwealth, such selection will reside in the representatives of Unrra who come to this country for that purpose. He also said that these people would bc employed by Unrra overseas, and that that organization could dismiss them. I am surprised to hear the right honorable gentleman publicly subscribe to a doctrine which he has so lately condemned, namely, the right to hire and fire. Apparently, this is t’o ha quite all right in international relationships, although it is not to apply so far as industrial employment in Australia is concerned. We are now asked to vote money under two heads, one of which has ‘ not yet been disclosed. The Minister for External Affairs said last night that the measure cannot be amended ; but this afternoon we are presented with a recommendation to amend it in order to provide for an appropriation for an additional purpose.
– I said that I could not accept any amendment.
– But the Minister proposes to effect one amendment.
– That is different; it is an amendment dealing expressly with the payment of administrative expenses.
– The Minister said that money is required for two purposes, one of which is clear to honorable members who have road the bill and agreement; but, apparently, the other purpose has not yet been disclosed.
– It has been fully disclosed.
– It is customary for a government, when it. asks honorable members to appropriate sums of money, to disclose the purposes for which the money is required. So far, that has not been done in this case:. When the Minister said that I opposed the hill he was stretching the elastic.
– I said that the honorable gentleman, of all honorable members opposite, was the nearest to opposing it.
– If the Minister had listened to my opening remarks, he would have seen that they had a different meaning from that which he has placed upon. them. The time has come when we should cut out a lot of the cant and humbug that goes on at international conferences. We should, allow international matters to be decided by the nations that count. Last night I mentioned the country of Liberia. It is not a nation. It has not contributed anything worth mentioning to the allied war effort, and I am sure that its contribution to Unrra will be just as insignificant.
– The honorable member said something similar about Russia two years ago. He said that Russia was not helping us.
– No ; before the Minister is finished with Russia he will be obliged to admit that much of what I have said about it is true. I should like the Minister to explain the purpose for which the second appropriation i3 required.
.– What will be done with respect to people in Australian territories which have been liberated ? I refer particularly to the people of New Guinea. This subject has been brought to my notice by the New Guinea Branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia which, in a letter to me, states -
The Chinese who were captured in the Lae area and afterwards released had not been molested by the enemy, and it is reasonable to assume that the same state of affairs may exist 60 far as the Rabaul area is concerned.
It is within the knowledge of my executive that the authority responsible for the release of the prisoners nt Lae was unprepared to provide the creature comforts that should have been available immediately the Chinese were contacted. One instance will suffice - a period of nearly three months elapsed before shoes were provided, these had to be ordered from Australia and shipped to Lae by sea.
That body asked me to raise these matters when this measure came before us. Australian mandated territories are still occupied by the enemy, and people in such territories corning under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government will need relief and assistance. However, [ have not been able to ascertain what privileges, or benefits, it is intended to extend to them when they are liberated. I raised this matter in correspondence with the Minister for External Affairs, who replied that he intended to bring it to the notice of Unrra. I hope that he has done so, and that some concrete promise will be extracted from Unrra in respect of these people. In view of the fact that we are contributing £12,000,000 towards Unrra, people liberated in territories under Commonwealth jurisdiction should come within the scope of this scheme.
The method of selection of the staff of Unrra has not been made clear. The schedule states that the Unrra administra tion itself will select its staff ; but I presume that it will be guided by recommendations of the Commonwealth Government.
– It will be guided by recommendations of the Commonwealth Government and also the voluntary council of Unrra, which includes representatives of the Red Cross and other bodies
– I should like the Minister to explain the qualifications required for appointment to the staff of Unrra, because quite a large number of Australians are anxious to apply for such positions, and they are entitled to know whether appointment will be made on the ‘basis of business experience, or academic and other qualifications.
Dr. EVATT (Barton- Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs) 4.30 1 . - I am glad that the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) mentioned New Guinea, but before I deal with it I point out, in reply to the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), that under this agreement, as I. explained at some length in my secondreading speech, two types of contribution are payable by member organizations. One is the general contribution under Article V. which appears on page 5 of the bill. It states that each member government will contribute to the support of the administration in order to accomplish the purposes of Article I., paragraph 2a. Those purposes are, broadly, relief and rehabilitation, and this contribution will be the main one made by the member governments. In addition to that, under Article VI. on the same page there is, in the last sentence of that article, an undertaking by each member government, to contribute, subject to the requirements of its constitutional procedure, to the administration promptly its share of the administrative expenses as determined. In clause 5 of the bill as drafted there was payable out of the consolidated revenue fund, which was thereby appropriated accordingly, such amounts, not exceeding in the aggregate £12,000,000, as were necessary for the contribution by the Commonwealth referred, to in paragraph 1 of Article V. of the agreement. That was the main contribution, and the only object of the amendment is to appropriate the contributions towards the administrative expenses of this organization in the same way.
– Article V. is the appropriation of money for a specific purpose, namely, the general purpose of relief, and Article VI., which is the second appropriation, is an appropriation’ for the administrative purpose of carrying out the organization of that relief. That second contribution is comparable with the yearly contributions which we have for years past made, and still make, to the League of Nations.
– That is correct. As regards our own territories, the letter of the honorable member for Richmond brought the matter to my notice and I took it up with the authorities. The view of the British authorities, with which we agreed, was that, Australia being a country whose mainland was practically untouched by enemy action and no portion of which had ever been occupied by the enemy, relief and rehabilitation in colonial or territorial portions attached to it should be cared for by Australia independently of Unrra. Great Britain accepts the same responsibility in respect of its colonial territories. It is not regarded by Australia or Great Britain as being a responsibility of Unrra although technically New Guinea would come within the description of liberated territory. We think that as our mainland has not been occupied in any way by the enemy, relief in our territories is our responsibility.
– Is there any department in Australia that can give relief to those people in New Guinea ?
– Yes, the administrative authority with complete jurisdiction at present is the Army administration known as Angau - the Australia-New Guinea Administration Unit - which will give place in due course to the administration of the Department of External Territories. Those are the two authorities which should be taking care of the particular problem to which the honorable member has referred.
– Judging by this letter they have not done so up to date.
– That may be so. I agree with the honorable member that it is a responsibility, which, although technically it may be that of Unrra, really devolves upon the Commonwealth Government and its appropriate agencies.
– That applies to any country exercising a domestic jurisdiction.
– That is our view of it.
– There is no clash between one and the other. If the domestic country wants to do something which would otherwise be in the jurisdiction of Unrra, it can do so.
– Then we should do it, quickly, pending the re-establishment of the civil administration.
– The particular instance cited by the honorable member for Richmond must be dealt with and settled by the Army administration.- The matter of the restoration of civil administration in these territories is now under the consideration of Cabinet.
– It would appear that no authority considered that it was responsible to look after the ‘Chinese people in New Guinea.
– I think it is government responsibility. I am not fully conversant with the reasons for the delay, but I am glad that the honorable member raised the subject, because it enables me to make it clear that this responsibility is not regarded by Great Britain or Australia as directly attaching to Unrra. Our contribution to Unrra will be devoted to territories liberated from the enemy other than our own territories.
– I take it that it would not be the responsibility of Unrra to provide for all battered countries. Great Britain has been battered, but would not be included in the countries which Unrra would be asked to relieve. Great Britain itself is a contributor to Unrra.
– That is exactly what I have said. Not only would Great Britain not come under it, but Great Britain regards relief in its colonies which have been occupied by the enemy as being primarily its own responsibility and Australia takes the same view.
– Russia has been battered sufficiently to need rehabilitation, but Russia is also a contributor to Unrra, and will look after its own troubles. I understand that of the millions of pounds that have been contributed in Australia towards insurance against war damage a large amount has been earmarked to alleviate distress and help towards reconstruction in Kew Guinea. The Minister in his second-reading speech gave a long list of representative organizations which have the right to recommend persons for appointment to the staff of Unrra.
– Those are the recommending authorities, but the ultimate authority which has the power of appointment is Unrra itself.
– Is. it stated definitely in the bill that Unrra responsible for the selection of staff from those recommended by that long list of authorities?
– It is not definitely stated, but the administrative unit of Unrra is the executive authority under the bill. For instance under Article 4 the DirectorGeneral is the executive authority who does the appointing.
– I understand that we are called upon to contribute £47,000 towards the administrative expenses of Unrra.
– We have included our contributions for both purposes - our major contribution towards supplies and resources under Article V., and the contribution towards administrative expenses under Article VI.
– The fact i? that we are voting an appropriation which is essential, and which we are bound to make under the bill.
.- 1. desire to elaborate certain points in connexion with this proposed organization, for it will probably be the pattern of other international organizations which will engage in post-war activities. It is essential that we should scrutinize the proposal carefully in order to make sure that we shall have a real voice in the work that is to be done. Unrra is to have a Director-General who may not be removed except by the unanimous vote of the central committee. If there be one dissentient Volco on any proposal to remove him, the effort to do so will fail. In other words, the Director-General will have complete control of the whole organization. Article IV. of the agreement provides -
It appears to me, therefore, that thi: Director-General will have practically unfettered power. I consider that we should have some safeguards in relation to the supervision of these administrations. The constitution of Unrra can be altered only by a two-thirds vote of the council, and the Director-General can be removed from office only by a unanimous vote of the central committee. I consider that the Commonwealth Government should have some control in respect of Australian personnel who may be associated with Unrra. I ask for an explicit assurance that this will be so. The Minister has told us that an agreement was reached with the two officers of Unrra who came to Canberra, that the Government would have some authority, but that does not seem to me to be a satisfactory or business-like arrangement. It is essential, in my view, that provision should he made for the Government to have an effective voice in relation to our appointees and their work.
– I shall confine my remarks to the points raised by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). I agree with him’ that Unrra will probably set the pattern for other international organizations. It is therefore essential for us to voice any criticism of the general set-up at this stage. It seems to me that the Director-General will have complete powers in relation to administration, and also largely the right to direct policy, and determine who shall be employed, and on what terms and conditions they shall work. No supervisory power is given to the council. The Director-General will hold such a strong position that it will be almost impossible to remove him. His position will be comparable, in some respects, to that of a managing director of a company who, though in a sense subject to control ‘by the shareholders, actually exercises ‘plenary powers and is not likely to be removed from office except by an alteration of the articles of association. The Director-General of Unrra will, in fact, be in an even stronger position. It may be that the officer appointed will carry out his duties in accordance with the general wishes of all parties, but it may also happen that, on some question of policy or detail, he will refuse to bend to the wishes of the majority. In that event he will be supreme, for no tribunal has been set up to which he will be really answerable. Any power of control which may seem to exist is, in fact, illusory. In relation to Unrra such a provision may not be very serious, for the organization may not continue in operation for many years ; hut in relation to some other international ^organizations such a provision could have serious results. I take no exception to the agreement, in a general way, but it appears to me that the Director-General is being given substantially unfettered power in respect of both policy and detail.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Director-General could determine what commodities shall be sent from Australia?
– No, for he will not be able to interfere with the domestic economy of this country; but he will be able to determine how relief shall be distributed. He will also have complete control over personnel. He will be able to say how personnel shall be selected, and he may adopt a policy which may preclude Australia from having any representatives on the staff, though I do not suggest that that is likely. It is essential, in my view, that in relation to appointments to international organizations of this description to which we have become parties we shall have some right to express cur views effectively. All member nations of such organizations should have that right. The points to which I ask the Minister to devote attention are, first, that the agreement gives executive authority to the DirectorGeneral; secondly, that although the Director-General will be appointed by the council on the nomination ‘by unanimous vote of the central committee, he will not be subject to removal from office except by the unanimous vote of the central committee; thirdly, even one member nation of the central committee could prevent his removal from office ; fourthly, all questions of policy respecting how relief shall be administered, and all questions respecting personnel and their terms of appointment and dismissal, are to be determined solely by the DirectorGeneral; and-, finally, in respect of all these matters the Director-General is not subject to any supervision or control.
.- This debate on the appropriation really deals with questions that are involved in the general principle of the bill. It is obvious .that the purpose of the bill is to approve” of the agreement. The House, has approved of the agreement. I am not objecting to these later suggestions, but I submit that they would have been more appropriately made during the general debate. Nevertheless, having been made in this committee, they should be cleared up as far as possible. If honorable members will turn to page 3 of the bill they will find that the legislative authority is vested in a body called the Council of Unrra. Paragraph 1 of Article III. provides -
Each member government shall name one representative, and such alternates as may bc necessary, upon the Council of the United Nationals Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, which shall bc the policy-making body of the Administration . . .
That body will meet not less than twice a year, as provided .by paragraph 2 of Article III. Under paragraph 3 of that article, there is established the central committee of the council, the body which really carries on between the meetings of the council. It consists of the representatives of China, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The Director-General presides, but has not a vote. Between sessions of the council, that committee makes policy decisions of an emergency character. Executive authority is vested in the DirectorGeneral. It is always difficult to draw a line between policy and the execution of policy. For instance, in the matter of appointments which has been canvassed so much, the policy laid down by the central commitee and the council is that in any appointments to be made by the Director-General consideration shall be given to the fair representation of all countries, and he has to carry that out. Under Article IV., his functions are described, and the executive authority is vested in him. He is appointed by the council on the nomination, by unanimous vote, of the central committee. Therefore, China, Russia, Britain and the United States of America must agree before he can be appointed. They must also agree before he can be dismissed. I 3ee nothing unreasonable in that.
– That supports the criticism that he cannot be removed except by unanimous vote. It is of no use to say, ex cathedra, “1 agree with it”, because I do not. That a man cannot be removed except by unanimous vote does not seem to be justified by reason.
– The representatives of those nations would hardly .be likely to agree upon a person to carry out this executive authority unless they were absolutely satisfied as to his capacity.
– They might find that they were wrong.
– In such an event, is there the slightest likelihood that they would not agree to get rid of him? I concede that it could be said that there should be executive authority in the committee. That view has been rejected. The committee determines policy. Should there be any question as to the dividing line between policy and the execution of policy, I believe that ultimately the view of the committee and the council would prevail. The Director-General has not a vote on policy, but is the executant of policy.
– ‘What he does as chief executive officer frequently will spill over into policy. He will do it and, theoretically, they cannot remove him.
– Theoretically, that is so. Paragraph 3 of Article III. provides that the central committee shall consist of the representatives of the powers I have named, with the Director-General presiding . without a vote. The man selected is Mr. Lehman, who has had vast executive experience in the public life of the United States of America, and was a governor of New York State for many years.
– Suppose he were suddenly to die, as did Wendell Wilkie? He would not then have any voice in the selection of a successor.
– That is correct. The right honorable gentleman considers that the election should be by the 40-odd representatives of all the nations. The difficulty would be to assemble them. As I said in my second-reading speech, and in my reply to the debate, some of these provisions could be improved. But that applies to every international agreement. This is not to be the pattern for all other agreements. The proposed security organization is to be more on the lines of the executive authority of the League of Nations, which under the Covenant, is vested in the Secretary-General.
– The value of this debate is that it points to a principle, not necessarily in respect of this agreement, but in respect of other agreements into which, ad hoc, we may enter.
– I am showing how this agreement will work. There will be difficulties in connexion with the working of a new organization of this character. According to the degree of its success will the other organizations that are to be set up be established. I have stated the position broadly. The DirectorGeneral is the executive officer. The making of recommendations for appointments may not be made by member governments. Whether or not appointments should be made by member governments is a matter of policy, and that principle has been adopted. We shall have the very great assistance of the council of Unrra established in this country. As the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has said, bodies like the Red Cross Society will take a very active part in the working out of the plans of Unrra, especially in field work. All the great churches and missionary societies of this country also will help in that direction. These are details of the agreement. I take it that the points have been raised in order that they may be considered in connexion with any future agreement of this character.
Questions resolved in the affirmative. Resolutions reported and - by leave - adopted. hi committee
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 -
There shall bo payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, such amounts (not exceeding in the aggregate Twelve million pounds) as are necessary for the contribution, by the Commonwealth, referred to in paragraph one of Article V. of the Agreement.
.- I move-
That the words “ contribution, by the Commonwealth, referred to in paragraph one of Article V.” be left out, with a view to insert In Heu thereof the following words: “contributions, by the Commonwealth, referred to in paragraph one of Article V. and in Article VI.”.
The purpose of the amendment is to extend the application of the amount appropriated by the council to that portion of the administrative expenses of the council of Unrra which the Commonwealth is required to contribute under the agreement in Article VI. When the bill was originally drawn, it was proposed that this contribution should be appropriated from time to time, but it has been thought better that the contributions to be made should be made out of the sum appropriated by this measure.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 27th September (vide page 158-6), on motion by Dr. Evatt -
That the bill be now read a second turn:..
.- This is a bill to approve the constitution of a permanent organization to deal with all problems relating to the production and distribution of food, nutrition, and so on. The idea had its genesis at a conference convened by President Roosevelt and held at Hot Springs, Virginia, in May last. In many respects, the bill follows the one we have just discussed providing for the setting up of the Unrra organization. The purpose of Unrra is to arrange for the distribution of food and other necessaries to distressed peoples in the war areas. The present bill arises out of an attempt to create a permanent world organization which will work continuously for the material welfare of the people of all nations, and particularly to ensure that sufficient food shall be produced for their needs, and that it shall be properly distributed. The organization will come into being when twenty nations approve its constitution. Then, at some place yet to be determined the head-quarters of the organization will bc established, and the various members will work together for the common weal.
The main work of the Unrra organization will be done by an executive and a Director-General, but, unlike Unrra, the organization with which we are now dealing, and which, rather than Unrra, will, I believe, become the model for future international agreements, the DirectorGeneral is to be appointed by the conference upon such terms and conditions as the conference decides. He and the executive will apply the policy determined by the conference. Thus, the conference will be the main policy-making organization, whilst the administration will be done by the Director-General, who will, in a sense, be the permanent head of the organization.
It is proposed at the present time that only Allied nations shall be members of the organization, but I believe it would be a mistake if, in the future, all nations, whether or not they are our enemies now, were not admitted. In making this statement, I do not compromise with our aim to crush our enemies completely, nor do I deviate from the declared policy of the Allied nations that only ‘the unconditional surrender of our enemies oan put an end to the war. I mean that once this upheaval is over, and the necessary controls for peace have been established, the nations with which we have been at war should be admitted to the organization because their internal. economic conditions must inevitably affect the general economic set-up. No organization of this kind will be complete until it embraces all the nations of the “world. An organization which sets out bo improve living standards throughout the world, and to ensure full stomachs- everywhere, must play an important part in maintaining the stability and peace of the world. If it is not our aim to produce such conditions we had better stop talking about the spirit of the Atlantic Charter. Unless we are prepared to ensure that the peoples of all tho world shall enjoy decent living standards it is merely idle chatter to say that we support the principles of the Atlantic Charter.
Among intelligent people to-day there is a strong feeling that many of the problems with which the nations are confronted can be solved only by international co-operation. Acting singly, the nations of the world lost the peace after the last war, and acting singly the Allied nations, as we call them to-day, nearly lost tho present war. Indeed, had not a certain group of nations, which we refer to with pride a3 the British Commonwealth of Nations, stood together in 1940 it is doubtful whether western civilization would be in being to-day. No nation is a complete economic unit. It influences, ‘and is influenced by, the economics of other nations. Real economic success in any country can be achieved only with the help of other countries. There could be no more important world movement than one which sets out to raise living standards all over the world, and to arrange for the production of sufficient food for the feeding of the people of the world, and for its effective distribution from the point of production to the point of consumption. In ordinary international conferences the voice of Australia would bo a very small one. In population, and in power we are a small nation. Our importance in world gatherings springs from the fact that we are a part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. In future conferences at which diplomatic moves are being contemplated, or the exercise of force majeure is proposed in order to maintain the peace of the world, the three great powers will be Great Britain, the United States of
America and Russia. They, and perhaps China also, will play a predominant part. The other nations will play more or less minor roles. In a conference such as that now proposed, however, Australia can play a most important part, because it is one of the great food-producing countries of the world. Any country which does business on the London market is familiar with the name of Australia. For instance, people whom I met in Latvia about nine years ago, knew of Australia merely because Latvian butter was in competition with Australian butter on the London market. This country’s possibilities in primary production are by no means exhausted, and we can confidently anticipate greatly increased production in the future. The disposal of that production is of vital importance to us. On the success or failure of an organization such as that now under consideration may well depend the whole of our economic planning for the future. The result may determine the road on which we shall have to travel.
At a recent conference in Canberra of Commonwealth and State Ministers, the land settlement of ex-servicemen was discussed. That subject is inextricably interwoven with that of markets. It would be useless to open up large areas of land for agricultural development unless markets either internal or overseas could be ensured for the extra produce anticipated. There is little doubt that, during the first four or five years after the cessation of hostilities, this country will be confronted with so great a demand for food that difficulty will be experienced in supplying it; but, from that period onwards, it may be necessary to find markets for the everincreasing food products which Australia expects to be able to supply. If the necessary markets arc likely to be available, the first role of this country should bc to develop further its agricultural industries, and to regard its secondary industries as supplementary to them. If, however, we have reason to believe that tho demand for our food products will not be so great in future as in the past, we shall have to reorientate our economic system, and possibly give a major role to our secondary industries. Many factors may operate in the post-war period which do not operate to-day.
It will be of interest to trace briefly the course of development in Australia in the last 150 years - a development without parallel in any country. Even the United States of America, with all its great national resources and its fertile Mississippi Valley, cannot point to such progress in the first 150 years of its history. But this progress has to a great degree been fortuitous. In using that term I do not cast, any aspersion on the pioneers of this country, because I pay tribute to their intelligence and unsurpassed courage, but the development, which has taken place in .Australia has had direct relation to the progress of Great Britain. I doubt whether it is realized by many people in Australia that about 150 years ago the population of Great Britain was under 9,000,000. Australian development was then in its infancy, and as we progressed we witnessed a remarkable growth of the population of Great Britain, which increased over a period of, roughly, 120 years to between 40,000,000 and 50,000,000. That is one of- the romances of history. Side by side with that remarkable expansion of population was another development of which we should take due cognizance.
During the industrial revolution the people of Great Britain turned their attention from agriculture to manufacturing industries. That change resulted in an ever-increasing need for food products, and the supplies required were obtained mainly from the dominions and colonies of Great Britain. As gold production in Australia declined, a rauch more profitable source of wealth was opened up, that of the supply of the foodstuffs needed by the United Kingdom. Therefore, the remarkable increase of population in the Old Country was accompanied by increased land settlement and agricultural development in Australia. During that period Great Britain became one of the great creditor nations. Its mercantile marine and its insurance and discounting business brought in many millions of pounds, each year. Great Britain was able to expend annually from £300,000,000 to £400,000,000 more than the value of its visible exports. With this income the increased quantities of the products which Australia, Canada and New Zealand were able to supply could be paid for. Obviously, our economic development has been closely linked with the development of Great Britain during the last 150 years. Australia has provided Britain with a valuable market, whilst the British market has been invaluable to us. There was an ever-growing stream of manufactured goods coming here from Great Britain, and at the same time an increasing quantity of agricultural products was going from here to the Mother Country. In recent years conditions have altered considerably, but, in the main, Australian economic development has been based on primary production. That was brought home to the people of this country forcibly during the depression years, when the collapse of world values was reflected in the returns from primary products, with the result that unemployment became widespread. When our financial position overseas became acute, it was to the primary industries that the Commonwealth Government looked in order to obtain relief. Even the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) has not more lustily advocated the cause of wheat-growing than did the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. ‘Scullin) and radio announcers in expounding the “grow more wheat” slogan. Concurrently with the effort to expand our export trade, a policy of curtailing imports was adopted. The steps taken by Australia during that period were taken by nearly every other country, with the result that everywhere there was increased production and a restricted market. As Australian growers produced more wheat they added to world confusion by causing the price of wheat to fall still further. The policy followed by the nations at that period was one of the best examples possible of disconnected and noncooperative national action, tending to increase international chaos and distress. Up to that time, Great Britain remained the only relatively free market in the world, and, accordingly, it soon became the dumping ground for the goods of all countries. Eventually, however, Britain was compelled to limit its imports, with the result that producers in Australia had no longer an open door into a free market, brit bad, instead, to bargain with the British authorities to enable their products to be shipped to the homeland. The last free market in the world had vanished. Following the depression, there was a tremendous growth of economic nationalism, which, in turn, accentuated the world’3 ills. Now that brings me to the war period with its demands for production of all kinds. What of the future? It will be seen that the conditions which led to the earlier development of this country will not be present in the post-war period. Among other things, Great Britain is not likely to have a greatly increased birth-rate after the war, so that there will not be in that country an expanding population requiring increasing quantities of primary products from abroad. Moreover, Great Britain’s financial status has completely altered. That country, will probably emerge from the war a debtor nation, in which event it will no longer be able to expend annually between £300,000,000 and £400,000,000 above the value of its visible exports. Another important fact is that during the war Great Britain has been forced to increase its own production of foodstuffs - in some cases by about 40 per cent., but up to 80 per cent, in respect of other commodities. I do not think that ever again the people of Great Britain will allow themselves to be left at the mercy of the elements of air and water, by dependence on overseas supplies of food as in the past. Moreover, now that the British agriculturist has obtained “ a place in the sun”, he will be at some pains to keep it. Clearly, the conditions which led to the development of primary industries in Australia will not be present to the same degree after the conclusion of hostilities. We have to take those factors into consideration. The circumstances which will exist in the postwar world will determine the economic road which we must follow in the future. Unless we can obtain markets for our products, we shall have to think twice before we embark on great schemes of stopping up primary production. If markets can be obtained, our path in the future should be much the same as that which we have trodden during the last 150 years. That is to say, we should concentrate on those industries which are natural to this country, giving to secondary industries, not an uncertain place, but a supplementary role in the economic set-up of this country.
In mentioning some of the difficulties which I foresee will confront us in the post-war period, I do not suggest that Australia has reached the end of the road, because the distribution of food, as well as the production of food, has to be considered. Of the population of Europe, probably between 20 per cent, and 30 per cent, do not receive sufficient food to maintain a proper standard of life. In many Eastern countries appalling conditions exist. Indeed, the expectation of life in some Eastern lands is only 26 years, due chiefly to insufficient food being available for the people. I, myself, have seen pitiable and depressing poverty in Russia, which has a, population of over 200,000,000: and even the people of the United States of America received a rude shock when they read in their press that, not less than 33-i per cent, of the young mcn called up in that country for military service were classified as unfit, mainly because they suffered from certain forms of malnutrition. If these low standards can be corrected, and fowl can be evenly distributed to the peoples of the world, all tho difficulties I have mentioned will disappear like thieves in the night; because a correct distribution of food will be accompanied by a demand for food products that could quite easily revolutionize the future of this country, and completely correct the changes in our relations with Great Britain to which I referred earlier. Undeniably, one of the solutions for the present bad distribution, of food throughout the world lies in some world planning organization capable of making on behalf of the nations a concerted and co-operative attack upon this problem. Such is the organization contemplated under this measure. I do not suggest for a moment that world planning alone will provide a solution. The basis of any attack on this problem must be national planning; but, as I said earlier, national planning cannot be evolved in the proper spirit and along the proper lines unless it takes cognizance of world influences and forces. Under this measure, it is proposed to set up an organization composed of representatives of the different nations who will meet once a yea-r to discuss matters relating to food and agriculture ; .but the decisions of that organization, and .the conferences it sponsors, will not be binding upon member nations. Those decisions will be purely recommendatory. Therefore, much will depend upon the composition of the conferences, the qualifications of the nations’ representatives, and “their degree of unanimity. Much will a,180 depend upon the politics and problems of the different nations, because we know from past world conferences that national jealousies, ambitions and politics play a most important part in such matters. In the main, success or failure will depend upon the .representatives whom the respective nations send to these conferences, because in such negotiations the human element is always most important. Twenty nations must participate in this scheme, but one can assume that practically ali of the 45 nations represented at the Hot Springs conference will eventually participate in it. Therefore, these conferences will present a curious medley of representatives drawn from various and diverse countries, from China to Peru, and from “ Iceland to India. One can visualize the enormous difficulties which will arise in discussions when . so many different shades of opinions must be satisfied in any endeavour to hammer out a policy on a world basis. That fact emphasizes the importance of the human angle and the individual calibre of the representatives of the different nations participating in these conferences. I have studied the resolutions which emerged from the Hot Springs conference,, and must confess that the results achieved by that conference have not impressed me very much. It was composed mainly of ‘ diplomats and economists of one kind and another; and it seems to mc that they turned the proceedings into something like a draftsman’s picnic. Resolutions were drafted on almost every conceivable subject related to food, food distribution and nutrition, and these followed one upon another in a glittering array. If it i3 proposed that conferences under this scheme will deal with all the angles of the subject, scientific and otherwise, that were considered at the Hot Springs conference, there will be much talk, but very little achievement. In such circumstances, their reports will be so voluminous .that they will scarcely be read by responsible Ministers in the respective governments, and will be relegated like many other reports to departmental archives. Our first concern should bo to send as our representatives to these conferences practical men with a wide knowledge of the requirements and conditions of their country, and with sufficient sense to steer discussions along line that really matter. If that be done, possibly recommendations of considerable value will emerge from these conferences.
The problem of the distribution of food is inextricably bound up with that of world-wide employment. Undeniably, that is the basis of any demand for food products. Consequently, the latter problem must be dealt with by the nations participating in this scheme. However, each nation when evolving policies designed to promote employment in its own country must have sufficient vision to provide for not only the present but also the immediate future. The point I emphasize here is that if nations, in their endeavours to guarantee employment, once again embark upon a policy of economic nationalism, immeasurable damage will be caused. In this respect, the position of Great Britain in the postwar years will be altered materially, because of the loss of its overseas markets and investments during the war. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) has pointed out in this House that in the post-war period Great Britain will need to increase its exports by $-280,000,000 a year, and that, of course, will, involve the problem of tariffs. Therefore, any national policy with respect to employment which fails to pay regard to international implications may not achieve its purpose.
The next problem is that of the stabilization of prices of food products in the member countries. I do not require to elaborate that point in this Parliament. The conference will need to give its attention to the matter of exchange. -If food i» to be produced, and employment created by wise national policies, then trade must flow freely throughout the world, and trade cannot, flow freely unless we have reasonably stable exchange, and unloss we can put to work the moneys of the world, because these are often idle unless exchange and other conditions in the different countries can he made relatively stable. The matter of exchange stability is tremendously important. The relation of the dollar to the pound, the relation of the pound and the dollar to gold, and the relation of gold to silver - all of these will be most important problems in tho post-war world. Overseas investments, the possibility of being able to give credits to some nation which is in dire need of their - and other monetary matters are of supreme importance if the objectives of this organization are to be met at all. The attention of any contemplated organization such as this must be devoted to those big problems. All that the conference could do would be to advise that certain action be taken. All that our representative, for example, could do would be to report to his government that the world situation was so and so, and that we could do nothing unless certain steps were taken. It is only from the wisdom and .the pressure of the recommendations made by this organization that we can expect to get action. If the problem of employment can be solved by the different nations, if stabilized prices can be given, if exchange stability can be achieved, then the matter of the production of food may reasonably be expected to solve itself. I am not suggesting that the producers of different commodities cannot obtain knowledge of immense value out of a world pooling of information, but in the main, if these problems are’ solved, if there is a demand for food, if stable prices are given to induce people to grow food, if exchange is made stable and trade is relatively free, the matter of production will solve itself, and then the problem of nutrition will also in the main solve itself. I have a very real idea of the value of the dietitian, but if we make food abundant, and give .the people the right to purchase it, then to the extent of 80 or 90 per cent, our nutrition problems are solved, and the remaining percentage pan be overtaken by the dietitian dis seminating his views and information to the people. I have indicated the hig problems, and if these can he solved, or if by the exertions and energies of this conference they can be even partially solved, great benefits will follow.
I have dealt with the application of this principle to Australia, and have said a few words regarding the qualifications of those who should go to the conference. I have also intimated that there will bc great difficulties in. getting a conference composed of men from so many different parts of the world to act together and weld themselves into a body from which great results can flow. Whilst the principle is sound, I suggest that it will be foolish for any person to be unduly optimistic of the outcome. We have witnessed in the past the failure of the League of Nations because of the conflicting views, the self-interest and the ambitions of the different nations composing it. In a conference such as this we can expect to have again all the differences of national outlooks and national set-ups to contend with. [Extension of time granted.] Further, we know that, even if unanimity be attained at such a conference as this - and a two-thirds majority will be required to obtain any decisionany such decision must be approved by the different Parliaments and governments of the nations before any real move forward can be made. There again will be encountered all the difficulties inherent in the different ?rt-ups of governments in the various countries. Even, however, if the conference resolves itself into a mere disseminator of information as to the policies and proposals of different countries in regard to food production, I believe that it will still bc of great value to any nation represented in it, because no really sound and sensible policy can be evolved anywhere unless we go along (he geometrical line of having all the known facts before us before we attempt to solve the unknown. In this country for example we know that, if we are planning an expansion in any particular direction, we must take cognizance of what is being done elsewhere in the world to expand the growth of any commodity. So that if the conference only comes down to being a disseminator of knowledge of what other countries are doing, and of scientific knowledge relating to animals, plants and human beings, I believe we can expect some advantage from it. If for example there can be brought from some other country a plant that will blossom in our arid regions’, the benefit to Australia will be great. Therefore, whilst I do not suggest that we shall gain from this conference any earthshaking result, I believe that it will have a definite value. The cost of our contribution, in the first place at any rate, is to be small - a mere £26,000 a year. That is for. the first year, but we know how movements like this grow. We know how expenses, deemed ample in the earlier years, increase as time runs on. We have the spectacle in this country of three government departments expending to-day something like £650,000 more than they expended two years ago. There is a danger, of course, that this organization, being of an international character and its personnel being recruited from the four quarters of the globe, will tend to become more expensive as the years go on. Still, it can always be judged by results. At the end of four years, and with notice of a further year, Australia could withdraw if it so desired, but I believe that we shall not adopt that course at any time, because, although one would be foolish to expect great results, we must acknowledge that the principle underlying any such world organization is sound, and that every country has something to gain from it. Whilst we cannot be sure that big results must follow, it is always well to remember that from small beginnings great things grow.
.- I support the bill, but will take the opportunity to make some comments upon the principles underlying the making of treaties. First let me say that it is a matter for congratulation that the British Commonwealth of Nations is playing such an important part in the establishment of this organization, for it has undertaken the responsibility for 31 per cent, of the early expenditure, compared with 25 per cent, accepted by the United States of America, and 8 per cent, by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It is also a matter for congratulation that, having regard to the fact that 46 nations are parties to the agreement, Australia has undertaken responsibility for 3.3 per cent, of the early expenditure. That is an earnest of our determination to play our part in the establishment of international organizations which, we hope, will be of lasting benefit to mankind. ,
The treaty now before us is important in that it is the first, probably, of a number of treaties which will involve some surrender of sovereignty by this Parliament. It is true that the implementation of the policy embodied in the treaty will depend substantially, upon approval, ultimately, of the Executive, and not necessarily by the Parliament. The persons appointed to administer this organization undertake to withdraw in effect from their own nationalities, and carry out the purposes of the organization on a completely international basis without regard to their own national ties, and without seeking to benefit their own nations. That is a departure of some importance and marks an important, albeit a. short step along the road of international collaboration. I share the doubts of the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) as to whether the hopes we sometimes optimistically express will be achieved, but certainly this is a step along the road of international goodwill.
As to treaty making in general, it is a fact that in. the last two or three years international treaties have been made in this country without any consultation with the Parliament. If Parliament has been consulted at all it has been long after the agreements have been made. It may be that agreements have been signed which would not find general acceptance by the Parliament. I do not say that that is the case in relation to this agreement, for I approve of it; I am speaking on general principles. In several instances we have been given the alternative of either approving or rejecting a treaty which has been entered into by the Executive, and in such cases we have had no power to alter either. the phraseology or the obligations created, although we have known that the treaty has been made without consultation with us. In terms of practical politics we have had to accept in toto many agreements that have been made by this Government.
– And by other governments too.
– It has been true of this Government in particular. I shall not speak in relation to previous governments, but for myself I say that this tendency must be arrested. In this country the power to make treaties is in the hands of the Executive. In the United States of America no international obligations may be entered into except with the approval of a two-thirds majority of the Senate. No such limitation exists in Australia. Agreements which may seriously affect the life of the community and of the individual may be made by a handful of Ministers without consulting the Parliament in any way. I consider that this is . a matter of such prime importance that immediate attention should ‘be given to it. Of course, it is quite futile to invite Parliament to discuss the details of agreements made with countries overseas when the Parliament merely has the right of approval or rejection of the whole document. It may be assumed that Ministers and probably some departmental heads discuss certain details with the representatives of overseas countries, but all too frequently the Parliament has been completely ignored.
Recently the Australian-New Zealand agreement was entered into without any consultation with the Parliament. I am not concerned at the moment with the merits or demerits of that document. My point is that the Parliament should have been consulted before the agreement was made. I do not consider that any such agreement should be binding upon the Parliament until the Parliament has expressed its view. In connexion with the agreement now before us, action was also taken without consulting the Parliament. We had just completed the discussion qf another bill which provided for the ratification of an agreement which was binding on Australia, although the Parliament had not been given the opportunity to consider it before it was entered into. We should, save in most exceptional cases, be given an opportunity to discuss the broad lines of any proposed international agreement before it is actually made. It is not sufficient simply to present to Parliament a completed document which must be accepted or rejected in toto.
The treaty-making power in our existing circumstances may easily be abused. Recently the Government invited the people of Australia to vest additional powers in the Commonwealth Parliament, but they declined to do so ; yet it is a strange f actthat the Executive may enter into international agreements in respect of such matters as restriction of production, agriculture and other subjects vitally significant in the life of a community without approaching the Parliament. I shall examine the general principles in relation to treaty making, having regard to the constitutional situation in which this Parliament is placed. Although the people have said quite recently, “We will not grant additional powers to the Parliament the Executive may conclude treaties which override the provisions of any act of the Parliament, and which, in fact, “ walk around “ the Constitution. It is significant that yesterday the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) remarked in answer to a question that this Government had shown great aptitude for overcoming difficulties. He was answering a question in regard to constitutional limitations, and he said, in effect, that the Government could avoid observance of the clearly expressed determination of the people.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– I summarize the treaty-making powers of this country in these terms : First, that the Executive may enter into any international treaty, and that it need not consult the Parliament either before or after entering into the treaty; and, secondly, that having entered into a treaty in respect of a certain subject-matter, it may then legislate so as to implement the treaty, although apart from the treaty it would have no power whatever so to do. That is a very important consideration for this Parliament, because it is well that the Parliament should realize the need for determining what powers the Executive should have and what control, if any, should be imposed on the Executive in any particular case. If I turn to the bill, and show what is the subject-matter of it, the point of my remarks will become manifest. The bill deals with a food and agriculture organization. It states that the purposes of it are, among other things, to secure improvements in the efficiency of tie production and distribution of all food and agricultural products and to better the conditions of rural populations. The functions of the organization, as set out, are to promote by appropriate action - which is not indicated with great clarity - among other things, the conservation of natural resources, and. the adoption of improved methods of agricultural production; the improvement of the processing, marketing and distribution of food and agricultural products; the adoption of policies for the provision of adequate agricultural credit, national and international; and the adoption of international policies with respect to agricultural commodity arrangements. I pause there. It must bc apparent that the subject-matter of the bill is the very subject-matter which, in point of fact, recently was submitted by way of referendum to the people; aud the people rejected the proposal to grant to this Parliament the additional powers then sought. Nevertheless, if my point be correct - and I believe it to be - even though the people have said that this Parliament shall not have the power to deal with those matters, under this agreement the Executive could enter into arrangements without consulting the Parliament, giving to it complete power to make laws with respect to the marketing, processing and distribution of goods, and to fulfil all the other purposes set out in the hill. It is true that Article I. deals with recommendations. But certain other articles, with which I shall deal in a little detail, do not stop there. If honorable members will look at Article III. they will find, first, that paragraph 8 provides -
Except as otherwise expressly provided in this Constitution, or by rules made by the Conference, all matters shall be decided by the Conference by a simple majority of the votes cast.
Then, under Article IV., which deals with functions of the conference, they will see two important matters which have practical relationship to the point that I am making. Paragraph 1 of that article provides -
The Conference shall determine the policy
Paragraph 2 provides -
The Conference may by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast, make recommendations concerning questions relating to food and agri- culture to be submitted to member nations for consideration with a view to implementation by national action.
As I read this constitution, the Government, given an appropriate majority of the conference, could enter into an agreement, for example, to restrict the production of this or that commodity. It could enter into an agreement with respect to the marketing and distribution of ali food ; for the adoption of policies of adequate agricultural credit, national and international; and for the adoption of international policies with respect to agricultural commodity arrangements. The Government could enter into such agreements by executive action, without recourse to the Parliament of this country; and, having done so, it could then proceed to implement the arrangements it had made, irrespective of the fact that otherwise this Parliament would have no power to legislate with respect to that subject-matter. I am not saying that that would be a wrong thing to do under any given set of circumstances. My reason for drawing attention to it is to fortify my suggestion that the bill should not be approved by this House without the safeguard that, if any agreement should be made for the implementation of any recommendation of the conference under Article IV., such a recommendation should not be implemented until this Parliament had first been consulted. I consider that the points that I am raising are important, and I hope that the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) will see the force of them. Paragraph 6 of Article IV. provides
The conference may, by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast agree to discharge any other functions consistent with the purposes of the organization, which may be assigned to it by governments or provided for by any arrangement between the organization and any other public international organization.
Thus it will be seen that the signatories to this agreement may assign to the organization certain other functions - as, for example, the States of Australia may surrender certain of their powers to the Commonwealth. These could he .more than advisory functions; but, having been assigned, they would become a part of the constitution of this organization; and, as I said previously - and I wish to repeat it again and again - they may be carried out .by executive action. However, the matter does not rest there ; because Article XIII. provides -
The second clause of that article is exceedingly important. But before I come to it, I want to read Article XX., which deals with amendments .of the constitution. It has to be remarked that, on the face of it, the constitution, at the moment, is confined to merely advisory recommendations - an alteration of the constitution may be recommended - but, as I have pointed out, even recommendations may be adopted and, if adopted, may be implemented without this Parliament having one word to say about the matter of its adoption. Article XX. reads -
Reduced to simple language, if two-thirds of the nations agree that there shall be new obligations in addition to those contained in this agreement, which the organization should take upon itself, each nation of the two-thirds signifying their acceptance, will be bound by the decision, and every other nation thereafter signifying acceptance will bc similarly bound.
– Does not the last phrase of Article XX. qualify the acceptance ?
– By no means, far the reason that “ acceptance “ does not mean acceptance by this Parliament.
– It says, “ thereafter for each remaining member nation on acceptance by it “.
– That is the whole point that I am seeking to make. Apparently, I am not making myself clear. The acceptance is not necessarily given by this Parliament. Prior to the suspension of the sitting, I had developed my argument in relation to the treatymaking powers, of this country, and had pointed out that those powers are -vested in the Executive of this country.
– In Great Britain, this agreement has been approved simply by Executive Order in Council. We have brought it to the Parliament for its consideration.
– Reference to what Great Britain does is not of much use, because the Constitution of Australia is entirely different from that of Great Britain.
– We are consulting the Parliament, whereas in Great Britain they did it by executive action.
– I am not dealing with the question of whether the Parliament is being “ consulted “ on this measure, but with -a matter of principle. I am either right or wrong. The right honorable gentleman can determine that question as a matter of law. At the moment, I am speaking theoretically, because one cannot say what is to be the practice of to-morrow. My point is, that if an amendment were made to the constitution of this organization, imposing new obligations upon this country, the Government could accept it without consulting this Parliament, That is provided for in Article XX., from which 1 have just read. I want the House to bear that number in mind, because it is mentioned, in Article XIII., paragraph 2 of which reads -
Arrangements for defining the relations between the organization and any such general organization shall bc subject to the approval of the conference. Notwithstanding tho provisions of Article XX.’, such arrangements may, if .approved by the conference, by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast, involve modification of the provisions of this constitution : Provided that no such arrangements shall modify the purposes and limitations of the organization as set forth in this constitution.
The only other article to which I wish to refer at -the moment is Article XVII., which reads -
Any question or dispute concerning the interpretation of this constitution’, or any international convention adopted thereunder shall be referred for determination to an appropriate international court, or arbitral tribunal in the manner prescribed by rules to be adopted by the conference.
The two propositions that I make on this agreement are these : First. that although on the face of it there is merely an advisory capacity vested in this organization, that can be increased’, by imposing new obligations upon the organization, to which we may become a party by executive action; and secondly, that notwithstanding the provisions governing the alteration of the constitution, arrangements could be made under paragraph 2 of Article XIII. which, irrespective of Article XX., would bind the organization and its members, provided only that such arrangements did not modify the purposes and limitations of the organization as set forth in the constitution.
– Did not the Government of which the honorable gentleman was a member commit this country to war by executive action? “Was not that a more important action than the making of this agreement?
– -I do not dispute that. I have raised this matter more than once. If I cannot induce those who have spoken over and over again about the rights of this Parliament, to support me on this occasion, then I shall have failed ; but I shall have discharged my duty, by having shown what I believe to be the obligations of this Parliament. I readily concede that .there are some agreements which cannot be brought before the Parliament prior to entering into them. But there are many other agreements - and this is ono of them - which admit of a discussion on general principles before being entered into. I have pointed out what could take place, because it is important to those who have any regard for the functions of this Parliament that they should say whether there should or should not be any limitation placed upon the power of the Government to override the Constitution by means of this agreement and similar agreements without reference to the Parliament.
I have dealt with paragraph 2 of Article XIII. The only restriction therein provided is, that no arrangements shall modify the purposes and limitations of the organization as set forth in the constitution. The interpretation of that is left to the international tribunal, under Article XVII. The purposes are set out quite clearly in Article I. and the preamble, and are very wide. They deal with the distribution of agriculture, the methods of agriculture, the limitation of production, both international and national, and other matters. I have looked in vain in this constitution for any real “ limitations “. I draw attention to this matter because vitally important subjects will have to be considered by this Parliament. The agreement now before it is one of many important agreements which will be brought to our notice.
I now draw attention to certain .remarks made by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) when he was a justice of the High Court. In the case of King v. Burgess, reported in -55 C.L.R., pages 681 and 687, the proposition was laid down that, although there may be no power in this Parliament to make laws, for example, with respect to employment and unemployment, or the production and distribution of goods, if a valid international agreement is made in respect of that or any other subject-matter on which this Parliament has no power to legislate, once the agreement has been made the Parliament has power to make laws in respect of that subject-matter. Therefore, powers can be attracted to the Parliament by international agreement which it does not otherwise possess. In the past, this matter has not arisen as one of very deep significance, but, as I see it, it is one of supreme and transcending importance. An. agreement between Australia and New Zealand, for example, touching working hours, could not be entered into without implementing the agreement, and the question arises as to how such agreements are to be implemented and what safeguards are to be imposed. I draw attention to what was said by Mr. Justice Evatt and Mr. Justice McTiernan in King v. Burgess, because it has an important bearing on this matter. The judgment was as follows: -
But it is a consequence of the closer connexion between the nations of the world (which has been partly brought about by the modern revolutions in communication) and of the recognition by the nations of a common interest in many matters affecting the social welfare of their peoples and of the necessity of co-operation among them in dealing with such matters, that it is no longer possible to assert that there is any subject-matter which must necessarily be excluded from the list of possible subjects of international negotiation, international disputes, or international agreement. By way of illustration, let us note that part xiii. of the Treaty of Versailles declares that universal peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice and that labour unrest caused by unsatisfactory conditions of labour imperils the .peace of the world. In face of these declarations and the setting up (under the Treaty) of the International Labour Organization it must now be recognized that the maintenance or improvement of conditions of labour can (as it does) form a proper subject of international agreement, for differences in labour standards may increase the friction between nations which arises even when trade competition takes place under conditions of reasonable equality . . .
And in our view the fact of an international convention having been duly made about a subject, brings that subject ‘ within the field of international relations so far as such subject .is dealt with by the agreement. Accordingly (to pursue the illustration), Australia is not “ a federal State the power of which to enter into conventions on labour matters is subject to limitations “. A contrary view has apparently governed the practice of the Commonwealth authorities in relation to the ratification of the draft conventions of the International Labour Office. In our opinion such view is wrong. . . . lt would seem clear, therefore, that the legislative power of the Commonwealth over external affairs “ certainly includes the power to execute within the Commonwealth treaties and conventions entered into with foreign powers. The legislative power in section 51 is granted “ subject to this constitution “ s,o that such treaties and conventions could not be used to enable the Parliament to set at nought constitutional guarantees elsewhere contained, such, for instance, as sections 0, 28. 41, 80, 92, 100, 110, or 117. But it is not to be assumed that the legislative power over “ external affaire “ is limited to the execution of treaties or conventions; and, to pursue the illustration previously referred to, the Parliament may well be deemed competent to legislate for the carrying out of “ recommendations “ as well as the “draft international conventions “ resolved upon by the International Labour Organization or of other international recommendations or requests upon other subject-matter of concern to Australia as a member of the family of nations. The power is a great and important one.
– That contention was used during the recent referendum campaign.
– During that campaign, the view now expressed by me was firmly held and given expression to by me; but, on the other hand, the people have now spoken, and I am obliged to comply with the will of the people. That is an obligation resting upon every honorable member, no matter on which side of the chamber he sits. 1 pointed out during that campaign that the most extreme use could be made of the external powers, in order to introduce, for instance, certain labour conditions in Australia and New Zealand, and then attract to this Parliament the very powers which the people have in the result denied. Because of that, I draw attention to these matters. If my contention be correct, these propositions emerge: This agreement, which is only one of a number, may bc entered into to cover matters which on the face of them do not impose any serious obligation on Australia. At present the agreement merely provides for the making of recommendations in order to ascertain whether each nation will adopt them; but, if a recommendation is made by the necessary majority, and it is then adopted, for example, by Australia, by executive action, the Parliament will then be empowered to legislate in respect of the subject-matter of that recommendation. If that be correct, this Parliament should determine whether some limitation should be placed, not on the agreement itself, but on the bill. 1. suggest to the Minister that a clause should be drafted to provide that no commitment, shall be entered into to be implemented by national action under Article IV. and no alteration of the constitution of tho organization should be made under Articles XIII. or XX., unless it has first been approved by the Parliament. I regard that as of outstanding importance, from the point of view of the rights of this Parliament, In the past, treaty-making has been almost solely a function of the Crown, acting through the Executive. As to most treaties which are openly discussed beforehand these days in the press, there is no reason why this Parliament should not express its views on them. Private members have a duty, not only to their constituencies, but also to the country at large, and my view is that, unless there are reasons of secrecy which prevent a treaty from being discussed before it is entered into, it should always be discussed before any commitment is made, and, indeed, even before a draft commitment is prepared. I claim that there is no sound reason why the subject-matters of the international monetary agreement discussed at Breton “Woods, and the AustralianNew Zealand pact, for example, should not have been discussed in this Parliament before they were entered into. Other than in the most exceptional circumstances, the Parliament should have the right to discuss such agreements before firm arrangements arc made.
– Is the discussion of much value unless definite action can be taken ?
– I think that it is. Take the monetary discussions at Breton Woods, which raised matters which had been discussed long before in connexion with the White plan, the Keynes plan and the Canadian plan. Surely some discussion could have taken place in this Parliament regarding the principles for which we stood. The Government could have introduced general principles for the purpose of ascertaining the opinion of the Parliament. I shall always assert the rights of private members to express their views in respect of these matters. There should be general discussions before such agreements are entered into.
My final contention is that an appropriate clause should be introduced to ensure that no commitment shall be entered into which would extend the constitution of this organization until it has at least been first approved by the Parliament. This is a minor proposition as compared with my first submission. In other words, there should be no executive commitment which this Parliament cannot dispute. If we do not adopt this course, Parliament will have little voice with respect to this and other agreements, and the powers of this Parliament will be vitally affected, contrary to the will of the people as expressed at’ the recent referendum. Close attention should be paid to the terms of these agreements, and whilst I agree that the bill should be applauded because it follows the lines of international collaboration, there can be no doubt that, if we believe in tile principles of the Atlantic Charter, many other international agreements must be entered into, dealing with different subject-matters of domestic as well as international affairs. For instance, there must be agreements with respect to labour conditions, for the purpose of increasing employment throughout the world. Recently the Minister for Supply and .Shipping (Mr. Beasley) fought in Ohio for a principle which I believe should be generally agreed to, and which sought to impose on each nation the domestic obligation of providing full employment. At the recent referendum, power was sought with respect to employment and unemployment. That could be made the subject of a detailed agreement between Australia, and New Zealand, and then power could be vested in this Parliament, to implement that proposal. I do not seek to reduce the external power of this Parliament. Indeed, I agree with the view expressed by the Minister for External Affairs, when a justice of the High Court, in the case to which I have referred, but I think that we should pay more attention to the powers which this Parliament already possesses, and the ways in which they are exercised. I express my approval of this bill, but the House should not pass it unless a limitation is imposed so there shall be no extension of the constitution of the proposed organization until Parliament has been consulted and has approved of it. That does not necessarily imply that there should be a debate in Parliament, before any discussion by the Government with other powers takes place as to whether the constitution of the organization should be extended, but I seek to safeguard the rights of this Parliament by contending that at least there should be no extension binding on this country until the Parliament has given its approval. That is of importance, both to the Parliament and to the people of this country as a whole.
– It does not seem to me that from this bill the primary producers of Australia are likely to obtain the maximum benefit possible. The stated purpose of this organization is to increase the consumption of foodstuffs in the poorer countries, and to encourage the production of more food by the farmers. Particulars of the scheme are set out in the schedule, which an eminent lawyer, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), has just assured us is as complicated, as our own Australian Constitution. The purpose of the bill is to approve the acceptance of the constitution of the food and agriculture organization of the United Nations, . and for otherpurposes which are set out in the schedule. In the preamble to the schedule it is stated that the nations accepting the constitution are determined to promote the common welfare by - raising levels of nutrition and standards of living of the people under their respective jurisdictions, securing improvements in the efficiency of the production and distribution of all food and agricultural products, bettering the condition of rural populations, and thus contributing toward an expanding world economy,
The laudable purpose of the organization is to correct some of the ills from which the world suffers. We in Australia suffer from certain social and economic ills for which we are ourselves responsible, and no international agreement can help us to correct them. It is stated in the preamble that one of the purposes of the organization is to improve the distribution of food. In Australia, the distribution of food is hampered because the coalminers of New South Wales refuse to work, and this proposed agreement cannot help us in that respect. Neither will it help us to induce the wharf lumpers to load our produce on to the ships. The plan envisages placing upon the primary producers the responsibility for increasing the production of food without affording them any assurance that they will receive a reasonable price for their products. There is no assurance that there will be a market of any sort for the increased quantity of foodstuffs which it is proposed to produce. The first consideration should be to feed the poorer peoples of the world, and China should be able to absorb a large amount of our production. China has lost a great deal during this war, and it is not set down as a large contributor. Australia is to be the ninth largest contributor among the -44 nations, being responsible for contributing 3.33 per cent, of administrative costs. This is expected to amount to 2,500,000 dollars this, year, and the -organization’s expenditure under this “head during the first five years is expected to average 5.000,000 dollars a year. The functions of the organization arc set out as follows in Article I in the schedule to the bill : - 1.The Organization shall collect, analyse, interpret, and disseminate information relating to nutrition, food and agriculture.
The Organizationshall promote and, where appropriate, shall recommend national and international action with respect to -
Itshall alsobe the function of the Organization -
I am disappointed that something more did not emanate from such a distinguished assembly. Unfortunately, the representatives of the various countries reached decisions upon agricultural problems without first consulting competent agricultural authorities. The basic purpose of the organization is to ensure freedom from want for the various peoples of the world, and this is to be achieved by improved methods of production and distribution. One may be pardoned for feeling some concern for the future of our primary producers if, after they have responded to the invitation to increase production, the organization is not successful in developing methods of distribution to cope with the increased production. The organization has a humane objective, namely, to supply the wants of those nations whose peoples are at present underfed. It is proposed that credits shall be made available to such nations to enable them to purchase foodstuffs. That should be of assistance to Australia as a seller of primary products, but we have vet to solve the problem of transporting our produce overseas. That is a matter for the Commonwealth Government to attend to. The organization is deserving of our support because of its worthy objectives. The scheme holds great economic possibilities for Australia as it may lead to the expansion of our exports of primary products. However, any such expansion will ultimately bc conditioned by tariff arrangements and trade agreements with other countries. We have been told that the organization will strive to prevent violent fluctuations of the price of primary products, but no machinery is to be set up for this purpose. We have been told that the organization will seek to improve farming practices and agricultural processes, and that it will concern itself with land tenures and agricultural research. This is all to the good. We in Australia have hardly touched the fringe of this work. When we looked out of the windows this afternoon and-saw the sky filled with dust, it was brought home to us that energetic action is necessary if we are to prevent the country from being devastated by erosion. Drought is the chief enemy of Australia, and it can be combated only by taking measures for the conservation of water. We know that this should be done, yet we continue to allow our back lands to be blown out to sca. We decline to follow the advice of eminent scientists who have told us that we must dam the rivers, conserve water and increase the humidity of the inland areas. Until we tackle these problems for ourselves, and solve them our losses will continue. They can be avoided only by the application of science to production and the provision of sufficient money to establish great scientific institutions such as exist in other countries. Russia and Canada have set an example which Australia might well follow, because if we set out earnestly to deal with the problems confronting 113 we can increase our production considerably. I can see some hope for the future if the organization which is to be established gives good advice which will be acted on, but Australia’s problem is to face the difficulties which exist in this country. The primary producer has to sell his products in the world’s markets at prices over which he has little control. In that respect he is in an entirely different position from that of the industrialist, whether worker or owner. It would seem that the proposed organization will encourage primary producers to produce more, and to send their products to the world’s markets, but there is no guarantee that they will receive for those products prices which will ensure a payable return. The primary producers of Australia have endeavoured to encourage the growth of secondary industries in the hope that thereby an assured home market for their products would be provided. That is the only market that we can organize. The gentlemen who have got together, and have accepted this agreement, not being farmers, have urged increased production and a greater volume of exports, but they have not provided any guarantee of a payable price for the commodities so exported. Those persons in the United States of America who have formulated this plan have not viewed the problems of the primary producer from the point of view of the man on the land. I hope that before entering into any commitments the Government will carefully review every aspect of this bill, particularly its preamble, with a view to ensuring that primary producers and those engaged in export industries will not be in a worse position after the war than before it commenced. If the Government were to grant to primary producers a subsidy sufficient to guarantee to them a reasonable return, it would achieve better results for both the primary producers of this country and those who need their products than this bill will provide.
.- What Unrra sets out to do in order to settle the short-term problems of the world by providing food, machinery and other items for rehabilitating a war-worn world, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations seeks to do in the field of long-term problems. I do not share the pessimism of the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser). There are many things in the schedule to the bill which do not greatly affect the problems confronting this country. That must necessarily be so, because it is impossible at any conference of nations to cover the whole ground ; what is done must necessarily be confined to broad and general principles. I give my blessing to the hill, because it sets out to do something which should have been done many years ago by some organization such as the League of Nations. The purposes of the bill which are set out in the schedule represent high ideals. They are four in number. The organization sets out to raise the levels of nutrition and standards of living; to increase efficiency in the production and distribution of food and agricultural products generally; to improve the condition of rural populations ; and to contribute to an expanding world economy. I shall deal first with the subject of nutrition. Only in recent years has the world realized the extraordinarily low standard of nutrition among the peoples of, not only Asiatic countries, but also the United States of America, many western European countries, as well as Australia and other units of the British Empire. It has always been thought that in the United States of America, with its great riches and high wages, the diet of the people would reach a high standard, but a recent investigation has shown that about 30 per cent, of the population of that country is undernourished. A similar state of affairs existed also in G<reat Britain “where, despite the riches of the population generally and the efforts of far-sighted governments, 30 per cent, of the population was undernourished in 1937. Even in Australia, which in normal years, is a land flowing with milk and honey, some sections of the community are undernourished. It will be seen, therefore, that there is tremendous scope for an improvement in matters of nutrition. Within the last year or so about 3,000,000 people have died of starvation in the Bengal region of India ; and in large areas of China similar conditions have prevailed. Much can be done to improve nutritional standards in regard to both quantity and quality. Let us consider for example the two protective foods, milk and eggs. A recent survey shows that in
Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America and western Europe there was an estimated shortage of milk products, including cheese, equivalent to 5,500,000,000 gallons of milk each year, and that a similar state of affairs exists in regard to eggs. Just before the war it was estimated that there was a deficiency of 32,424,000,000 eggs a year in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, and thirteen Western European countries. Australia produces large quantities of these Foods, and is capable of exporting vastly increased quantities of them. The bill embodies the highest humanitarian ideals, and honorable members should be glad’ to (associate .themselves with it. because like other Australians, they have a sympathetic regard for the suffering peoples of the world. We know what happened after the last war in Greece and other European countries, to some of which Australia exported large quantities of foodstuffs. By producing food for export to the peoples of other countries who require it so badly, we shall do more than help them in their distress, for we shall also help ourselves. I han no doubt that if the world’s markets for food be expanded, and Australia gets ite share of the trade, we shall ourselves gain great advantages. Hitherto, Australia has been largely dependent on the export of primary products; our prosperity has been closely related to the prosperity of those engaged in primary industries. That remark applies to most countries. There are people in Australia who believe that we can establish a closed economy; that by taking certain measures internally we can raise our standard of living and provide our people with all that they require. That, however, is not so. Experience has shown that our prosperity depends on the prosperity of the people of other nations. In this connexion, 1 draw the attention of honorable members to a White Paper on unemployment which was tabled recently in the British House of Commons. In a foreword the following statement appeared : -
A country will not suffer from mass unemployment as long as the total demand for its goods and services is maintained at a high level, but in this country we are obliged to consider external no less than internal demands.
That statement applies also to Australia. The only difference between Great Britain and Australia in this connexion is that, whereas Great Britain’s prosperity depends chiefly on its export of secondary goods, Australia’s prosperity depends chiefly on the export of primary products. However, the underliningprinciple, namely, that the prosperity of one country depends on the prosperity of other countries, is true in each case. It is not generally realized by Australians the degree to which this country’s primary industries affect the national economy. In the ten years prior to the commencement of the war, Australia produced primary products to the value of £9,500.000,000, of which produce to the value of only £64,000,000, or 4 per cent., chiefly to the United Kingdom. The products of secondary industries were valued at £.1,500,000,000, of which goods to the value of only £64,000,000. or 4 per cent., were exported. Those figures show clearly that our prosperity depends mainly on our primary production, so that anything that can be done to find markets for our primary products must add to the nation’s prosperity. It has been said that our necessity to export primary products is not always apparent; that we can still maintain our position in spite of a reduction of exports. As I said earlier, experience has shown that that is impossible. I now turn to another aspect of the distribution of these primary products. The problem is most difficult because distribution will depend almost entirely upon the purchasing power of the countries which will require these goods. It is quite clear that in the post-war period Australia must look for markets other than those which it enjoyed in the past. Before the war, as the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) pointed out, we were largely dependent upon the United Kingdom market, whereas the great development in agriculture in the United Kingdom during the war, and the fact that Great Britain has lost most of its own overseas investments, will make it difficult for Great Britain to import primary products on so large a scale as it did prior to the war. Australia, therefore, must look for other markets.We should look for them in Asia, particularly India, and, possibly. China. This will mean, probably., thatwe shall have to await the industrialization of India. Investigations are now beingmade by the United. States of America and other countries with a view to the establishment of secondary industries in India. Only by that means will India be enabled to increase its purchasing power sufficiently to enable it to absorb appreciable quantities of imports. The same observation applies to China. I can sec no reason why Australia should not endeavour to invest capital in India and China in order to encourage the development of secondary industries in those countries in the hope that later they will be enabled to purchase increasing quantities of our primary products. The second difficulty with respect to the distribution of foodstuffs is that of customer habits. When I was in Germany, I received a visit from the then Agent-General for Western Australia in Great Britain, who at that time had for sale large quantities of beef and mutton. Germany was then very short of meat, and wanted to buy meat, but the fact was that most of the meat offered to it by the Agent-General for Western Australia was not of the kind normally consumed by the German people, who prefer mostly veal, and eat very little mutton. Had that meat been sold to Germany, there would have been no retail market for it. Consequently, the deal fell through. Much the same observation applies to Asiatic countries, whose peoples eat no meat, and very little butter, or milk products. Much of the foodstuffs we produce are not of the kind eaten by the peoples of those countries. It is a long-term job to change the customs of the people of any country, particularly with respect to food. Therefore, we cannot look forward to any immediate appreciable expansion of our trade in foodstuffs with those countries except in the form of wheat and rice. Our export trade with those countries is not likely to reach substantial proportions in the near future.
Another problem is that of the increase of production. Under this measure, we agree to improve our efficiency in the production of foodstuffs and agricultural products. Production of foodstuffs has increased to a remarkable degree during the last 50 years; and, owing to more efficient methods, new plant and improved methods of cultivation and breeding, it is certain that we shall continue to increase our rate of production, even should the number of people engaged in primary industry decrease. About 60 or 70 years ago in the United States of America, 70 people produced sufficient food for only five persons, whereas today that ratio has .been practically reversed. It has been estimated as the result of recent surveys, and the experience of more advanced countries, that 10 per cent, of the population of any civilized country is capable of producing sufficient food for its whole population. That is true, also, of Australia; and, although to-day about 22 per cent, of our population is engaged in rural industries, 10 per cent, of our population could provide all the food required by our people as a. whole. We must bear that fact in mind in relation to schemes of land settlement. It is useless to establish large numbers of people on the land unless we can guarantee them payable markets overseas; and that problem is bound up Wi tl the success or failure of the scheme to be inaugurated under this measure. Some sections of our community are very vociferous at present in declaring that the enactment of this measure will result in an infringement of Australia’s sovereignty. Those people seem to believe that this measure will permit of the exploitation of our- raw materials, and our economy generally, at the expense of the Australian people. If I thought that the slightest ground existed for such a fear, I should oppose the bill. We cannot contemplate with any degree of satisfaction any diminution of our sovereignly. Perhaps, the time may come when some supra-national power will attain control over the nations, but that time, must be very far ahead. I see no tendency to-day for any nation to accept control over its internal economy by an outside authority. This measure, I repeat, provides no ground for such fears. The schedule makes it clear that there is no contractual obligation on the part of any nation which subscribes to this agreement to implement the recommendations of this organization. Therefore,, there is not the slightest ground for fear that our sovereignty will be infringed in any way whatever. At the same time, I agree entirely with the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) that any recommendation made by the central council of the proposed organization, before it is implemented in this country by the Government, should be submitted for the approval of Parliament. Quite apart from any constitutional consideration, it is entirely wrong that any matter affecting the internal economy of the country should lie settled merely according to the whim of the Executive without reference to Parliament. For that reason we should be well advised to provide specifically that all: recommendations under this scheme shall be referred to the Parliament before they are implemented. Summing up, I repeat that in striving to make a success of this scheme, we shall be satisfying not only our hearts but. also our heads, because it is a first step in an endeavour to bring, about wider consumption of foodstuffs throughout the world, and raise the living standards of the people; and, later, we can advance until Ave provide some general system which will bring not only more happiness and nourishment to the distressed, peoples, but will also ‘be to the advantage of our own economy. Should this scheme prove successful, it will have a profound influence on the world and on the prosperity of Australia.
.- This measure should receive general support. It provides an international foundation on which the nations can build a structure for the good of all. Although the scheme is still only in its preliminary stages, it is fruitful of great practical possibilities. All of us remember the days of the depression,, when we could not distribute surpluses of foodstuffs, and the prices of agricultural commodities were seriously depressed, yet, at the same time, the peoples of many countries were starving, and, many of our own people were unable to find employment.
– And . the banks were responsible.
– That is typical of the silly shibboleths of people who do not study these questions. That depresssion was an international economic blizzard ; a-nd whether we had banks, or lived in hollow logs, the people generally suffered. Cotton crops in the United States of America were jettisoned, and in other countries wheat and other products were deliberately destroyed, whilst in Australia we had a serious glut of primary products which we could not dispose of at payable prices. That depression forced many people off the land, and brought distress in a thousand ways. “We should not hesitate to participate in international conferences for the purpose of dealing with such problems. Just as international collaboration is essential to enable the Allies to achieve victory in war, so it will be essential to enable us to achieve victory in peace. To-day, we passed the United. Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration Rill whereby the ravages of war and the aftermath of misery following this greatest crisis in history will bc alleviated to a great degree as the result of concerted action on the part of the United Nations to supply relief in the form of food and goods to all distressed people whether they are allied or enemy subjects. We should follow a similar course in dealing with the problems of peace, and we need have no fear that in doing so we shall jeopardize our sovereignty. We can participate in international agreements of this kind, and at the same time, preserve our democratic institutions. We should not confuse ideals and ideologies. We who live in a British Christian democracy should know that we can achieve greater perfection within that democracy, without expecting any new order or social state which may be quite contrary to the British outlook. We can take part in world-wide discussions and agreements such as this, and at the same time preserve within our own country our loyalty to our own institutions, and develop them as we should, realizing that we are members of a great Empire which is to-day and has been over tho centuries the greatest in the world. Let us keep our loyalties in proper perspective, and not seek some perfect international system because in so doing we might destroy our own democratic foundations in favour of some world revolutionary plan, some totalitarian ideal, or some type of government in which opposition is not tolerated and government is by coercion and not by consent. If we followed such a course, we should ultimately lose our own sovereignty and destroy that great institution which for centuries has been a pattern to the world. When we enter upon an obligation of this kind wc need not jeopardize our own Empire relationships; we can still continue with our system of preferential trade within the Empire, knowing that Great Britain will always be ready to come to our help in an emergency, just as we would help Great Britain in its need. At the same time, on these bigger world issues, we must recognize the international point of view and co-operate with other nations. We have in this movement an opportunity to raise living standards throughout the world, and advocate a policy of expansion and not restriction of primary products. The nations have got together and decided that this ought to be done, but they have not yet decided how it can be done. Naturally, there will be great difficulties in bringing about the result aimed at. Speaking of the recent conference on world security held at Dumbarton Oaks, which had to be international in its ramifications and agreement, Stalin said that surprise should be expressed not that differences existed but that they were so few. When we can meet other nations in conferences of that- kind, we find that we have forms of government suited to our own traditions and temperament, but. at the same time we can agree with great cordiality and unanimity on many important issues. I submit that this is one of the subjects on which we can agree.
– It resembles tie League of Nations.
– The League of Nations was an ideal. Had the nation which sponsored it, been a participator in the agreement, it could have been continued and we might not have had a world war to-day. Wilson was a democratic president, but he had a republican government. I was in Washington at the time and heard the debate. It was a tragedy of colossal proportions that his proposals were rejected by his own government, with the result that the league, when it was set up, was without the backing of the United States of America, and was soon deserted in turn by Italy, Germany and Japan. Still, it did some good generally.
For instance, the International Labour Office, which the United States of America supported, has some achievements to its credit. Even in the best-ordered community it is necessary to have a police force, but without an international force to back it, the League of Nations could not succeed. The nations have this time agreed at the Dumbarton Oaks conference that there will be sufficient force to support any organization that is formed.
I found in Great Britain a firm resolve that depressions must not happen again. I attended some of the meetings of the Empire Economic Union, and heard the different points of view expressed very emphatically by men of all shades of political opinion. Anybody with any humanity at all is moved by the sufferings of the distressed peoples in the conquered countries to-day. One of the most pitiful things in this unending drama of man’s inhumanity to man is that such suffering should continue, instead of the maximum of peace and goodwill existing among men. This condition will continue for a long time, and we as legislators in this Parliament must accept any proposal that will lead to a betterment of conditions in this and in other countries. I. do not call myself an internationalist, but in many .respects we must recognize that wc are our brother’s keepers. We cannot allow starvation in a distant country to be regarded as something which we can ignore, and be unmoved by, or take no action to prevent. Therefore, there is an obligation on us to support this bill. I have heard many discussions in Great Britain, where they have in such a masterly way overcome their own economic difficulties. While Britain is the spearhead of the war, the British people are producing war weapons and turning their whole industry to war production. Britain is losing 70 per cent, of its trade whilst supplying its allies, even our great English-speaking ally, the United States of America, with equipment, lt is supplying Russia with equipment for twenty armoured divisions and immense quantities of boots, petrol and rubber under great difficulties, and losing many men and ships in the process. The people of Great Britain have done all that and at the same time have been fighting wars on almost every front, holding the mastery in the air, producing in addition the finest aircraft in great numbers, and have ‘ made their economic peace plans and have determined that depressions shall not comeagain upon them. Australia, which is largely a primary producing country, although its secondary industries aregrowing rapidly, must be interested to know that one of the fundamental objectives of the British people is that there shall be a payable price for the products of agriculture, which is still the greatest industry in Great Britain. They have learnt the danger of being dependent on other people, and havedecided that their own agriculturists shall be supported, and a payable price guaranteed to them, whether it has to be done by tariffs or in some other way. They are determined that their own farmers shall be kept on the land, that finance shaM be controlled, that great fluctuations in the priceof goods shall be avoided, and that there shall be no booms, because the natural corollary of a boom is a depression. They have planned to smooth out the peaks and Valleys, so that they mayachieve the maximum of general prosperity without great economic disturbances. It can be done under a democracy; it does not need communism nor socialism to do it. The Socialists in Great Britain to-day are beginning to say that socialism is not to be accepted as a dogma applicable toeverything. The Socialist is now prepared to socialize only something which can be more effective if it is socialized, and to take each item by itself. If that were the general outlook of the Socialists and the Communists throughout the world, we could soon arrive at a saner world outlook.
– There must be some control.
– Of course, there must be some international control, but it is not necessary to control everything within our own community. That is where theshortsighted politician, the bureaucrat, the pink planners and the crystal gazers make a mistake. They want to control everything, instead of being satisfied with control over bigger things. It is not. necessary to apply controls to- all the activities of the individual at all times. Germany was one of the countries which had. excessive control. I was there just before the outbreak of the war and spoke to. their economists. They were bewildered with their own plans and. regulations, and their red tape system exceeded anything that we have here. We should beware of overdoing controls. Naturally, one must drive on the proper side of the road, but it is not1 necessary to keep to the left in polities in order to feel that one is- on the right side. If honorable members would deviate from the left towards the centre, we would have mon-, common sense in politics than we have to-day. I support the controls in international affairs contemplated in this bill. Without control we shall not get that betterment of world status that wc want. I should like honorable members to know what the Empire Economic Union does, and what its objectives are. It will help in the colossal task of reconstruction which Great Britain has to face after the war. Great Britain was a creditor nation and is now a debtor nation. It sold its securities abroad, lost much of its trade, and will have a terrific battle to get its share in the scramble for world trade after the war. There exists in Great Britain to-day a movement which I think had something to do with promoting the conference at Hot Springs from which the agreement in this bill emanated. Has the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) heard of the World Trade Alliance? That is not a wild-cat body, but an organization conducted by an expert economist and business man. He has by a strange paradox worked it out that, in the same way that a cartel can control trade within the world, so the cartel system can be used, not for the benefit of the capitalist who controls it, but for the benefit of the people as a whole. I commend to the Minister for External Affairs the objectives of the World Trade Alliance as propounded in a pamphlet by Sir Edgar R, Jones, K.B.E., who was formerly at the head of the tinned-plate cartel. That was a cartel, not a monopoly. In relation to raw materials- there were pre-war international agreements covering aluminium, asbestos, ferro-silicon, lead, potash, nitrates, pulp, rubber, tin, timber, zinc and nickel. The World Trade Alliance proposes that international agreements shall be made not only in respect of. raw materials, but also in respect of manufactured goods. Before the war such agreements operated in relation to cement, coal - and coke, cables,, dyes, enamelware, electric lamp bulbs, granite, kraft paper, lamp glass, linoleum, steel rails, tubes, sheets, tinned-plate and other iron and steel products.
– Not any of which will feed starving populations. I ask the honorable member to return te the bill.
– 1 am sorry, sir, that you did not hear- my prologue. At. the risk of ‘boring honorable members, I will repeat that the World Trade Alliance has in mind the provision of international agreements covering many essential raw materials and manufactured products. Such agreements are intended to operate for the benefit not of capitalists who may be members of the cartel,, but of the people at large. The pamphlet to which I have referred indicates that. -
The international organization contemplated under the proposals for a world trade alliance is for the regulation of the distribution of the main export products of all countries, so as to ensure a satisfactory state of general employment, avoidance of want-‘ and poverty, and a steady uplifting of the standards of living.
That, in brief, is the objective of the World Trade Alliance, and it’ has been carefully examined by Cabinet Ministers in -Great Britain. It was also considered by delegates at the Hot Springs conference. It has, in fact, received a good deal of acclaim in Great Britain. The main provisions of the World Trade Alliance are that all surpluses of raw materials of countries throughout the world shall be acquired by international agreement for distribution where they are most needed. In the same way that Unrra will provide foodstuffs for indigent peoples, so the surpluses of raw materials and manufactured, products will be distributed to indigent nations, even if they are unable to provide a quid pro quo. Although, because of drought conditions, Australia will not have a big wheat crop this year we all know that, under normal conditions we have a heavy export surplus, and so has Argentina, Canada and, to a lesser degree, the United States of America. Such surpluses would be acquired and used, for example, to meet the needs of the starving millions of China. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) referred to starvation in many countries. There are 30,000,000 people in China starving and 50,000,000 are homeless. Wo all remember, too, the distressing famine in. Bengal recently. If the international authority to which I have referred acquired surplus products where they were available it would be able to distribute them to countries where they were needed. If China could not pay for what it received it .could place contracts with large engineering firms in Great Britain and the United States of America for supplies -for irrigation works or something of that nature, and in that way the feeding of the people of China could lead to the general betterment of the whole community.
The three main provisions of the International Product Agreement cover -
Honorable members may ask how the scheme is to be financed. It is proposed that a small export, levy shall be imposed in exporting countries and the resultant fund would be used to acquire surplus foodstuffs such as wheat, sugar, cotton and the like. These will then be made available to needy nations.
This bill should be strongly supported. The statement of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) that an agreement between, say, the Governments of New Zealand and Australia, or an international agreement which would make employment and unemployment an international matter, might permit this Parliament to legislate on subjects which are now beyond its constitutional power should be examined very carefully. The fact that Australia becomes a signatory to an international agreement should not give this Parliament power to legislate on matters beyond its normal constitutional authority. If there is any danger of that kind ahead of us the matter should be determined by the High Court without delay. Australia became a signatory to the International Air Convention some time ago, and, subsequently, this Parliament passed legislation on the subject; but when the matter was tested in the High Court it was held that-the legislation was ultra -vires the Constitution. I do not consider that by becoming a party to an international agreement this Government would be entitled to legislate on such subjects as employment and unemployment, power over which was refused to the Commonwealth at the recent referendum.
I consider that this ‘bill should be supported wholeheartedly. The fact that all the allied nations are signatories to the -agreement we are now being asked to ratify is important, for it reveals that they -are facing the problems of the future with, common sense and understanding, and desire to plant the seeds of world betterment, knowing that by so doing living standards will be raised and human life improved. Can we contemplate with equanimity that within a few flying hours of our shores we have 400,000,000 people in China, 350,000,000 people in India, and 60,000,000 in Java, the vast majority of whom, particularly in China and India, are undernourished and living on a sub-standard level ? The purpose of this bill is to do something to improve the lot of these teeming millions, and we should therefore support the measure with enthusiasm. If we do so Ave shall be acting wisely in the interests of our own primary producers, for there will then be no need to -fear that satisfactory markets will not be available in the years to come. Under the proposals now before us we shall be able to dispose, in a satisfactory way, of all our food surpluses. We should therefore support the bill enthusiastically knowing that thereby we shall be doing something for world betterment and for the improvement of the living standards of depressed peoples. In other words we shall be helping to give effect to the fine principles of the Atlantic Charter.
.- The objectives of this bill are clearly set out in the preamble of the constitution of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations which appears in the schedule to the measure. It reads -
The nations accepting this constitution, being determined to promote the common welfare by furthering separate and collective action on their part for the purposes of - raising levels of nutrition and standards of living of the peoples under their respective jurisdictions, securing improvements in the efficiency of the production and distribution of all food and agricultural products, bettering the condition of rural populations, and thus contributing towards an expanding world economy, hereby establish the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, hereinafter referred to as the “ Organization “, through which the Members will report to one another on the measures taken and the progress achieved in the fields of action set forth above. [ heartily support the measure. Our experience in regard to the distribution of primary agricultural products has not been happy in recent years, and I believe that all the nations will welcome the setting up of an organization which will tend to overcome the difficulties that we have experienced. When we think of these matters our minds at once revert to the unhappy years following the last war, when there was a constant and bitter struggle for world markets by nations which had surplus products for export. This struggle led up to the disastrous experience of the depression years, during which tens of thousands of people in many countries suffered from undernourishment clue to lack of food. Conditions became more normal in the agricultural industries prior to the outbreak of the present war, but even in those days we were trying to bolster up our flagging industries by means of inflated home-consumption prices, subsidies and the like. In the early days of this war we had not over come all our difficulties, and we had not realized the important part of food production in a total war programme. We can recall how we drained our agricultural areas of their best men and enlisted them in the forces. There followed the rather ludicrous experience of sending glamorous recruiting officers into country districts to recruit girls for the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force and the Australian Women’s Army Service, and later sending equally glamorous recruiting officers through our city areas to recruit land army girls to take the place of those who had been drained away from our farming areas. That was indicative of our confused thinking in those days. We have found that the primary industries, which previously had had to be almost browbeaten into accepting restrictions on acreage and the reduction of production,within recent months and years had literally to be cajoled into an expansion of production so as to meet the needs of our own services and those of the other nations that Ave are seeking to assist. As the result of these experiences, certain lessons have been learned which should assist us in dealing with the general problem of feeding the undernourished peoples of the world and supplying an adequate measure of food of a suitable type and a pleasant variety in the years after the Avar. In order to stepup the production of foodstuffs, scientific research has been successfully applied to its needs, and there has been a development of mechanization in relation to farming generally. Both of those developments have stimulated production, and have opened up prospects of a happier future for the man on the land. Then we have had the encouraging experience provided under the lend-lease organization, andwhat it has achieved. This is indicative of what the nations of theworld may be able to do in the days of peace if they can sink petty national differences and combine to promote international welfare in distributing as widely and as favorably as possible the production of which theworld hasnow become capable. The third happy development - and it is onewhich I suggest virtually saved the British nation from extinction - has been the development in the application of our knowledge of nutrition to the practical problems associated with the feeding of the British people at a time when Britain’s sources of supply for so much of its foodstuffs were cut off. These developments suggest the necessity for an international organization in which there can be some agreement as to the quantum of production, and some success may be obtained in the international distribution from one country to another of the foodstuffs that are produced. It is easy for us in this place to make the rather cosy assumptions that are set out in this bill. A statement of objectives is easy. The difficulties will arise when we try to put into practice the ideals that are here recited. One of those difficulties was suggested, by implication, in the reference by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) to what he understood to be the post-war policy of Britain in this regard. The honorable gentleman said that Great Britain is determined to maintain its agricultural production, even if that should mean the imposition of high tariffs against the importation of foodstuffs from other countries. In that short expression, he suggested immediately a tremendous difficulty that will have to be overcome if this organization is not to prove entirely futile. If we are to have throughout the world each country endeavouring to export as much as it can, and to import as little as it can, then we shall have a repetition of the conditions that were so fruitful a source of friction prior to the outbreak of the present war. That is only one of the manifold problems that will be suggested before we can claim to have succeeded in carrying out the objectives of the bill. I do not think there is any occasion to dilate on what the measure proposes, or even the difficulties that will have to be faced. After all, this is an international agreement to which we are asked to subscribe. What we say to-night will not affect the text of it, and we can do little more than give it our blessing and wish it well. But there is one point upon which I should like to make a few comments. It is related to the measure, because it has to do with Government practice in regard to the presentation of treaties of this kind to the Parliament, and it was dealt with in some detail by the honorable member for
Warringah (Mr. Spender), who stated what he believes to be the probable legal position as to the capacity that exists today in an Australian government to commit this country, through international agreements, to policies which may well affect the internal and domestic policy of this country when the treaty has been fulfilled. The honorable member put the point that, by the exercise of the external affairs power of the Commonwealth, it would be possible for an Australian government to enter into treaty obligations which would impose upon us the necessity to carry out within Australia measures which in themselves might be outside the scope of the ‘Commonwealth Government under the present Constitution. There is substantial support for that view, put forward as a legal proposition, in the leading case in the High Court. In the King versus Burgess case, there was an expression by several of the justices, including the Chief Justice, which has led legal men to believe that there would be at present a weight of view on the High Court bench in favour of that proposition being a legal fact. The honorable member for Warringah was naturally troubled at this possibility, and suggested a safeguard which he considered should be adopted by all Australian governments. His suggestion, as I understood it, was that before committing this country to obligations under treaties which would be likely to affect our domestic policy, the Government should first obtain the approval of this Parliament. That would be a safeguard of a sort, and to the degree to which it represented a greater safeguard than may have been the practice in relation to recent treaties, it is to be welcomed. Personally, however, I do not consider that it would meet our situation at all adequately. Let us consider what could easily happen in the present Parliament. We now have in office a Government with an overwhelming majority in both Houses.
– We shall be here for the next fifteen years.
– I am prepared to accept that assumption for the purpose of discussion; it will make my point a little stronger for members to understand, and certainly for the people outside to grasp. Let us assume that the Government has an overwhelming majority in both Houses for an assured long term of office. Such a Government, denied by the vote of the people the right to make a series of alterations to the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth, might enter into treaty obligations with other countries involving a limitation on our freedom to act in relation to domestic policy. Let me give an illustration. Three or four countries might agree to the introduction of a working week of 36 hours or some shorter period. The argument would be used that if one country were to introduce this shorter working week, other countries which did not do so would be at a competitive advantage, and therefore it would be proper for all of them to adopt a common policy. Such a policy would definitely be related to internal and domestic matters. I am not suggesting that in the years to come that might not be the sort of thing which it might be desirable to do. What I am concerned about is that if the law be as the honorable member for Warringah has stated it, I can find no satisfaction in his proposition, that a treaty should be endorsed by this Parliament if any of its ramifications were likely to override the provisions of the Commonwealth Constitution.
– The only other way of doing it would be by altering the Constitution.
– The present Government could present to this Parliament a treaty which, in substance, overrode the provisions of our Constitution, and with its overwhelming party support in this place and in the Senate obtain full parliamentary endorsement of its action. Yet it might be found in practice, as indeed it was, that that overwhelming parliamentary support did not properly or effectively represent the will of the people in relation to the issues dealt with. This Parliament will have to consider very seriously putting to the people .the proposition that our external affairs power should have placed upon it the definite limitation that its exercise by the Government or the country should not involve any agreement as to policies which would call for an overriding of the provisions of our Constitution.
– Does the honorable gentleman seriously believe “that the people would consent to any alteration of the Constitution at the present moment?
– I can appreciate the honorable member’s rather gloomy interjection, having regard to the vote recorded in his electorate.
– Order ! We cannot have a dissertation on the recent referendum.
– I merely say that I have sufficient faith in the good sense of the Australian people to believe that they would be’ prepared, if the matter were, explained to them fairly and adequately, to consent to alterations of the Constitution which they believed would be to their advantage. It may be that the rather unhappy history which referenda have had in this country-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman is flouting my ruling.
– I was just finishing.
– The honorable gentleman had no right to start. He must deal with the bill.
– With respect, I consider that I am entirely in order in pointing to the dangers which could exist under an exercise of the treaty-making power, as is exemplified in the measure that we have before us, which would call for the imposition of some restriction on the external affairs .power through our Constitution.
– The honorable member is quite in order in doing that.
– I have made the point, and do not desire to labour it. I have developed it to some degree, merely because I considered that some additional comment was called for as the proposition of the honorable member for Warringah had not been developed very fully. I repeat, that the safeguard which he suggested would not by any means be complete. I recognize that he had in mind that what he proposed should constitute a safeguard .of some substance. In practice, it might be found to be the only safeguard which the people of this country might have for many years to come. But if we are to restrict the capacity of Australian governments to commit this country, through treaty obligations, to measures which may seriously cut across the restrictions that appear in our Constitution, then some further alteration of the ‘Constitution itself would become necessary.
.- Every one will admit that the general idea of this measure is excellent, providing, as it does, for an interchange of men and ideas in regard to agricultural education and development throughout the world. But what impresses me most about the measure is that, although it has this general desire and very good intention, the proposed machinery is very vague indeed. The road to hell Ls said to be paved with good intentions. This bill, by its terms, indicates many good intentions, but it may not enable us to reach the desired haven because it lacks the machinery required to give effect to those intentions. The point was stressed by the honorable member for Warringah that the principles embodied in the measure, and all the instrumentalities associated with it, were not fully discussed in this Parliament and in other parliaments before the agreement was formulated. The first conference of the interim commission which dealt with international food supplies was held in May, 1943. Before that conference took place, and before the Australian delegates left these shores, I raised a question in this Parliament as to whether it was not an appropriate time to have a discussion as to the policy which would be advocated by our representatives at the conference, but I received a very general and vague reply from the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). For months after the conference, I tried to have its results discussed in this House. During the period of the second conference, public debate should have taken place in this Parliament, because the conference sat for seven months from July, 1943, to January, 1944. There was ample time for such discussion in this and other Parliaments. As the result of the absence of that debate, the agreement produced is expressed in most elusive terms. It has a doctrinaire approach to the problems raised, and it is very loose in its expres sions. I agree that the objects aimed at are good, but the machinery provided is not adapted for the work to be done. This is partly due to the composition of the various conferences. All of the representatives at the first conference were either economic or scientific research professors of high standing. At the second conference, which was attended by the signatories to this document, the delegates were extremely able men in their particular spheres, but they were not lawyers or practical politicians who had held high administrative positions. Therefore, this measure will have to be moulded by a process of evolution before it can be of much use.
The proposed constitution of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is all-embracing, and the functions of the organization are set out in Article I. The preamble to the schedule sets out that the nations accepting this constitution are determined to promote the common welfare by furthering separate and collective action on their part for the purposes of raising the levels of nutrition and standards of living of the people under their respective jurisdictions, securing improvements in the efficiency of the production and distribution of all food and agricultural products, bettering the condition of rural populations, and thus contributing towards an expanding world economy. But, when we proceed to consider the functions of the organization, we find that, instead of having any executive functions, it is to collect, analyse, interpret and disseminate information relating to nutrition, food and, where appropriate, to recommend national and international action with regard to a series of projects. One finds that the Commonwealth Parliament has only a nodding acquaintance with many of those matters, because they fall within the province of the States. In order to make the measure effective, something should be done to ensure the provision of proper administrative machinery. Three types of machinery are essential for a scheme of this kind, if it is to be of real benefit. There should be Australian machinery to ensure full collaboration between the Commonwealth and the States with regard to the various proposals set out in paragraph 2 of Article I. Secondly, there should be Empire machinery to ensure that each dominion works in liaison and ‘keeps step with other parts of the Empire. Thirdly, there should be international machinery to ensure that the Empire as a whole and its constituent parts work in line with the other countries of the world with which they are in continuous contact. Although the schedule sets out the functions and the international machinery over a wide scale of activities, it does not show how the result desired is to foe obtained. In one section of the report of the Interim Commission, there is a reference to the range of subject-matter, and the following paragraph relating to the economic organization of agriculture might well be noted : -
Economic organization of agriculture, including the production and successive stages in distribution, marketing, and consumption of food and other agricultural products; the coordinated expansion of consumption and production; the efficiency of factors of production in terms of physical output and cost per unit; methods of reducing costs of production and distribution; scale of enterprise; economical use of labour and machinery; provision and use of credit; demand and prices; gross and net income in relation to output and consumption ; trends and fluctuations in production, prices, incomes, and other factors bearing on the relation of agriculture to the general economy; domestic and international trade and other aspects of national and international economy, with special reference to their bearing on food and agricultural problems.
An organization dealing with problems like that must be strong indeed and must have a solid foundation. It must not be an organization which is subject to change, but this organization can change its constitution and even its relationship to governments. Paragraph 6 of Article IV. states -
The conference may, by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast, agree to discharge any other functions consistent with the purposes of the organization which may be assigned to it by governments or provided for by any arrangement between the organization and any other public international organization.
When one remembers the spate of international organizations, some of which have the most extraordinary powers, the need for effective machinery becomes evident. An agreement will shortly be submitted to this Parliament as a result of the international monetary conference, and the need for a check by this Parlia- ment on the powers of organizations of this kind is obvious. In regard to matters dealt with in this bill, we must clarify our minds upon three points - the relationship of the States to the Commonwealth, the relationship of Australia to the rest of the British Empire, and the relationship of the Empire to the rest of the world. For instance, one of the functions of the organization is set out in these terms.
The improvement of education and administration relating to nutrition, food and agriculture, and the spread of public knowledge of nutritional and agricultural science and practice.
That can be achieved in Australia only by co-operation between the States and the Commonwealth. It is also proposed that the organization shall concern itself with the improvement of the marketing and distribution of food and of agricultural products. Those functions are at present divided between the Commonwealth and the States. The Government should tell us how it proposes to acquire power to deal with such matters. Does it propose, as the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) suggested when he was a member of the High Court Bench, to rely upon its external affairs power, once an external agreement has been entered into, or does it propose to achieve some internal arrangement to meet the situation? It would be an absolute waste of time to employ research workers upon problems if it was then found that the Government lacked the power to give effect to their recommendations. Some sort of machinery should be evolved for dealing with the problem of ‘Commonwealth and State relationship. In the financial field this has already been achieved by the setting up of the Australian Loan Council, and in the agricultural field something has been accomplished by the Australian Agricultural Council, but this organization lacks constitutional and statutory power to give effect to its decisions. It is necessary to do something in regard to cost of production and in regard to transport, but the Commonwealth is unable to take effective action unless it can enter into an arrangement with the States. Before we place these matters outside our own control by signing the agreement, we should find out where we stand in regard to this matter of State and Commonwealth powers.
I am concerned over the omission from this document of any suggestion for bringing into line the various parts of the British Empire regarding the proposals. Up to seven or eight years ago, there existed means whereby the various Empire countries were brought together through an Empire Marketing Board, which concerned itself with problems of marketing, research, &c. Men like Sir John Russell and Sir George Stapleton visited Australia from England, and we sent abroad such men as Sir David Rivett. Scientists of all grades visited Australia, and learned of our problems. An attempt has been made to maintain facilities for Empire-wide research by the establishment of a research library at Rothamstead. “We shall not be able to play an effective part in this organization unless we reach an understanding that will enable the British Empire, when necessary, to speak with a single voice. I was interested to note the large number of signatories to the scheme. Australia is represented so that it may contribute to the cost of the organization. The contributions of the various parts of the Empire are together more than those of any other country. However, something more than that is necessary. In the absence of Empire machinery providing for consultation, we want to be able to say, “ These are the things which can be grown in the various parts of the Empire. These are the things which Empire countries, because of the facilities which they enjoy, can do better than other countries. These are the means by which we hope to reduce the cost of goods, while at the same time assuring the producers of a reasonable return “. The Empire should be able to speak as a whole on such matters. I believe that the success of the organization, and indeed, the peace of the world, depends upon the homogeneity of the Empire. I am convinced that the League of Nations, with all its weaknesses, only lasted as long as it did because of the support which it received from the Empire. Of course, it is not necessary to include in this document a provision for the making of united declarations by the various countries of the
Empire. I should be satisfied if the Government were to give an assurance that- an endeavour would be made to achieve Empire unity upon such matters as agricultural research and marketing, and that the idea of unity will be implicit in any arrangement which we make with other nations. The international wheat agreement was rendered possible because consumer countries like Great Britain were prepared to buy wheat at a certain price, and because producer countries, such as Australia, were prepared to give an undertaking to limit their surplus production. In this way it was possible to stabilize prices throughout the world. After the war, it will be impossible to stabilize the wheat industry in Australia unless there is power to deal with production and marketing. At present these matters are under the divided control of the Commonwealth and the States. It might well happen that the Commonwealth would commit itself in an international agreement to do something which, in fact, it had not the power to do. In order to ensure the proper feeding of our people it might be necessary for Australia to do as the Government of Great Britain did during the war, that is, to stimulate production by the payment of substantial subsidies. In this way the producer would receive an adequate return, while the cost of food to the public would not be too high. However, such a system of subsidies might lead to a sharp conflict between Australia and Great Britain or between Australia and Canada in the matter of agricultural policies, unless we can get together and reach agreement upon certain’ general principles. There ought to be some such body as an Empire Agricultural Council to discuss and decide such things. It will also be necessary to reach agreement upon the matter of Imperial preference so as to ensure the continued prosperity of Australia. When we look at this document we have reason to ask whether our agricultural future is sufficiently safeguarded. We can see certain benefits accruing to this country, but we can also see dangers ahead, particularly should the constitution of the organization be altered, despite our protests. The Government should make it clear, not only to the
Parliament but also to other countries, that Australia intends to take steps to protect the rights of its people, both producers and consumers, by ensuring that no outside body will damage the economic structure of this country. [Quorum formed.”]
– I have listened with great interest to the discussion of the proposal to approve the acceptance of the constitution of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. One thing which must have struck every honorable member was the silence of supporters of the Government, not one of whom has so far .spoken on the bill, notwithstanding that it may affect the whole of the primary industries of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) showed how the people of this country might be adversely affected through the organization without the Parliament even being consulted. Although the constitution of the organization may appear to be innocuous, and notwithstanding that we are told that the organization will have no executive ‘powers, but may only “recommend” or “request “, there are other paragraphs which, as the honorable member for Warringah pointed out, will enable the organization, by a vote of two-thirds of its constituent members, to alter its constitution. I am aware that no additional obligations can be placed on any nation without its consent, but although Australia may refuse to undertake certain obligations which other member- cf the organization may desire it to undertake, this country may nevertheless be involved in difficulties by the deprivation of markets brought about through the action of the other nations bound by the constitution. It is dangerous to enter into an agreement relating to numbers of primary products. Such an agreement differs from an international agreement dealing with only one commodity, such as wheat. We do notknow what obligations we may be undertaking, or the effect of such an agreement on the internal economy of this country and on the lives of Australian farmers. Let us consider Australia’s representation at the conference. One would have expected that our representatives would have been agriculturists, or experts in food production, connected with either the growing of foodstuffs or their processing in the Commonwealth. We find, however, that that was not so. The leader of the Australian delegation was Dr. Coombs, the Director-General of Post-war Reconstruction. He may be an excellent economist, but I doubt that he has any knowledge of food production, except, perhaps, what he may have learned from keeping half a dozen hens in his back yard. With him was Mr. F. L. MacDougall, Economic Adviser to the Australian High Commissioner in London. I cannot but pay a tribute to the work which Mr. MacDougall performed in connexion with the League of Nations in his advocacy of protective foods, the necessity of better nutrition, and as a theoretical adviser on food production. He is a good man, but many years have passed since he was last in Australia or had any real connexion with the production of food in the Commonwealth. Another representative was Mr. E. McCarthy, the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. I admit that he also is’ a splendid officer, but, as during recent years he has specialized in shipping matters, he was rather detached from those associated with agriculture and food production. Professor Brigden, an economist attached to the Australian Legation at Washington, was another of Australia’s representatives. Dr. Burton, of the Department of External Affairs, also attended the conference, but I do not think that he has ever been engaged in farming or agriculture. Other countries sent as their representatives agrostologists and men associated with food production. For instance, one of Belgium’s representatives was Mr. L. Borremans Commercial Adviser of the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Attache to the Belgian Embassy, London. Another of Belgium’s representatives was a professor of physiological chemistry and nutrition of the faculties of medicine and sciences at the University of Brussels. Every other nation represented at the conference sent men who were directly connected with food production and agriculture. New Zealand sent its DirectorGeneral of Agriculture, and it is somewhat astonishing to find that Australia, did not adopt a similar course.
Soviet Russia included in its delegates Professor Vassili S. Nemchinov, of Timiryazev Agricultural Academy, Moscow, and others directly associated with agriculture. It is a pity that Australia did not adopt the same course, because, had it done so, a better constitution for this organization might have been the result. As the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) has said, this document, which contains the recommendations of that conference, which consisted of professors, economists and all manner of theorists, is full of pious platitudes and aspirations, and, like the road to hell, is paved with good intentions. Paragraph 3 of thu conference’s declaration states that there has never been sufficient food for all peoples, and that the production of food must be expanded. No doubt farmers will be interested to know that the Government sends delegates to these conferences overseas; but why does it not practise what it preaches? Honorable members opposite have not taken the slightest interest in this debate. Excepting the Government’s professional interjector, the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), they have preserved extraordinary silence. I contrast the expressed intentions of the Government with its actions. T am indebted to the Minister for Information for a booklet entitled Facts and Figures, which was issued by his department in September last.
– And they are facts and figures.
– Yes, and very disturbing ones. They show that our wheatproducing areas decreased from 14,346,000 acres in 1938-39 to 7,860,000 acres in 1943-44, whilst in the same period the acreages under other crops decreased as follows: Barley, from 745,000 acres to 443,000 acres; maize, from 324,000 acres to 281,000 acres; oats, from 1,784,000 acres to 1,414,000 acres; and hay from 3,250,000 acres to 2,047,000 acres; whilst there was a slight increase in vegetable production, which is one of the smaller sections of our agricultural production. With respect to dairying, the booklet says -
Since ‘ Japan entered the war in 1941, the number of dairy cows milked in Australia has fallen by 300.000. Dairy herds (milking and dry) total approximately 3,200,000 head, a tally which has remained generally constant throughout the five years of war. The number of cows milked in a season averaged about 2,000,000, but this figure has fallen progressively. In March, 1944, only 2,300,000 cows were milked.
The Government sends its professors and economists, and other members of its brotherhood of good-intentioned gentlemen, to conferences of this kind, at which they report that there never has been enough food for all peoples, yet it does not do anything to remedy the food position in this country. So far as I am able to understand the position, the organization proposed under this measure is to be a kind of academy to teach the nations of the world what they should do with regard to agriculture, and how they should produce foodstuffs in order to provide more for the povertystricken people of the world, particularly in eastern countries. The document which summarizes the resolutions passed at the conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to which I have referred, ignores completely the fact that men and women are human beings, and not machines. Apparently, these experts have no idea of dealing with the very great difficulties existing in eastern countries, particularly in India, with respect to the reception of foods, especially meat, from foreign countries. Members of religious sects in India will not eat meat unless it is prepared according to certain religious rites. We talk about increasing the purchasing power of the people in eastern countries, yet we have failed to help them by remedying the greatest wrong yet done to them when silver was demonetized which had the effect of crashing the Chinese dollar on the exchanges of the world. Judging from this document, there does not seem to be very much danger in this body, but there are very great potential dangers associated with it. It is very doubtful whether it wm do any good, or whether it will raise me standards ox living oi peoples, because every farmer and primary producer throughout the world has known for years that the things suggested in the resolutions of the conference should be done, yet they have not been done. Any one who reads Cobbett’s Rural Rides or the same author’s Cottage Economy, written after the Napoleonic wars, will find that the people of England were then faced with problems similar to those we are now discussing. These pious aspirations will not get us anywhere. We must give to the primary producer in this country full freedom to produce. We should adopt the biblical rule to provide for the seven lean years, and not be terrified when we have a few surpluses in years of plenty. Only a few years ago, when we had an enormous surplus of wheat in this country, we were told that we would never get rid of it; but this year, we shall probably have nothing but bare boards. If the Government, instead of merely subscribing to documents like this, which, incidentally, may be heavily loaded against us, got down to the actual work of increasing production to the greatest possible degree, it would benefit Australia and the peoples of the world.
– Since supporters of the Government are not sufficiently interested in its food policy to make a contribution to this debate, honorable members on this side must accept that responsibility. This measure is claimed to represent a tremendous contribution to the cause of the United Nations. Therefore, it is fitting that honorable members on this side at least should address themselves to some of the matters which it contains. If we are to have something more than pious aspirations, something will have to be done to implement the principles enunciated in the measure. One objective of the measure is to raise the standards of nutrition and living of the peoples under the jurisdictions of the respective government signatories to this agreement. We should study the means by which we can implement the high resolutions which the bill expresses. Our contribution to date in the scientific production of foodstuffs, and the maintenance of the food- production do not give us much encouragement to hope that anything will be done by this Government in that direction. First, there is the problem of the conservation of natural resources, and the adoption of improved methods of agricultural production. To my knowledge only one agency under the control of the Commonwealth Government is capable of dealing with that particular objective of the measure. Practically the whole of the work in connexion with rural production is in the hands of the State Departments of Agriculture, and very little of the material methods of raising food production is in the hands of the Commonwealth. Irrigation, the raising of the standard of the dairy herds, testing the herds, fertilizing the fields and crops, and the nutrition of cattle, all come within the scope of the State Departments of Agriculture, and very little is left for the Commonwealth to do except to delegate its functions to the States.
One important factor which urgently needs attention and is under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth is the conservation of our soil. That can be handled through the agency of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which as a research organization has done some valuable work in connexion with agriculture, the control of pests, and the processing and manufacture of foodstuffs. Over the last twenty years to my knowledge in the areas with which I am particularly acquainted the fertility of the soil has gradually decreased. Land which twenty years ago would carry a beast to the acre now requires two or three acres to carry a beast. The carrying capacity of our soil has decreased probably by 50 per cent. A great deal of that is due to the fact that the farmers have no knowledge of the proper means of maintaining or restoring their soil fertility.
– It only needs a dressing of superphosphate.
– The interjection of the honorable member, who I take it has a knowledge of the soil, merely indicates the nature of the problem that we have to face, because in a great part of the dairying areas of Australia the application of superphosphate is quite valueless. Many people believe that it will restore the fertility of all soils in Australia, but that is not so. In certain parts, especially through the northern dairying areas, it has not had the same beneficial result as has been experienced in Victoria and New Zealand. Consequently our soil fertility has decreased, our carrying capacity has gone down, and our production of vital foodstuffs has fallen off. Therefore, if the Government is serious in reaching the objectives mentioned in the bill, one of the things it ought to do is to direct the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to make researches into the conservation and improvement of soil fertility. I am pleased to see the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) present, because he is the Minister in charge of that body. I put forward that suggestion, which has been made to me by some of the most eminent agristologists of New South Wales, because with all their knowledge they are not able to advise the farmers of the correct thing to do, seeing that research has not gone far enough to enable them to determine the question fully. That is the advice given to me by men who, as officers of the Department of Agriculture of New South Wales, have given many years of study to the subject. I hope that that will be one of the means whereby the Government will endeavour to give effect to the bill.
Sub-paragraph e of paragraph 2 of Article I. of the constitution, which appears in the schedule, reads -
The adoption of policies for the provision of adequate agricultural credit, national and international.
That is something which the Government might well consider. It is true that the Government induced Parliament to pass a bill constituting a mortgage department of the Commonwealth Bank. Many applications have been made through me for assistance from farmers who should come within the scope of that measure, but I have not yet been able to find a single farmer who has received an advance from the department. I challenge honorable members opposite who represent rural districts to say that any of their constituents have received advances. The passing of that legislation was nothing more than a gesture. It was the greatest hoax perpetrated upon the unfortunate rural producers, and now we have a similar provision embodied in this bill. Let us have something real. Let us give, through the medium of the mortgage department of the Commonwealth Bank, that assistance for which farmers struggling against adverse circumstances, particularly in droughtstricken areas represented by members opposite are clamouring. If we are to increase our agricultural output we shall need to make a substantial change in administrative action and in policy. Whenever any reference is made to the decline of agricultural production in thi: country the excuse is offered that it is due to war conditions, and the withdra.wal of man-power from the farms.
– There has been no decline except in milk production.
– The Minister should have said “ except in milk production, egg production, butter production and foodstuffs generally “. As a matter of fact, we have maintained production only in vegetables. If war conditions are a valid excuse for the fall in the production of foodstuffs in Australia, Great Britain should have suffered in the same way, but what has happened? According to a pamphlet Facts and Figures, issued by the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), Great Britain has greatly increased its production of foodstuffs, in spite of the strain on its man-power resources and the demands of its war industries. Great Britain has had to maintain men on fighting fronts throughout the world, on the seven seas, and in the air, particularly over Europe, where tens of thousands of airmen have served with great distinction.
– Great Britain had mort than 7,000,000 people to draw upon.
– The booklet to which I have referred shows that whereas our food production figures have declined steadily since 1939, the figures in relation to Great Britain have increased remarkably. Our wheat production will drop from about 200,000,000 bushels in 1939 to 50,000,000 bushels this year. In 1939 Great Britain produced 1,645,000 tons of wheat whereas, in 1943, it produced 3,449,000 tons, an increase of about 100 per cent. In the last two or three years Australia’s production of sugar has fallen from about 550,000 tons per annum to a little more than 400,000 tons last year. In 1939, Great Britain produced sufficient beet for the manufacture of 3,329,000 tons of sugar, and last year its production was sufficient to manufacture 3,800,000, with the result that Great Britain is now providing sufficient sugar for its domestic consumption. The same story is told in regard to potatoes. The acreage under potatoes and the value of the production in Great Britain have increased considerably. About 10,000,000 tons of potatoes are being produced annually in Great Britain at present. In Australia housewives have had to pay fancy prices for potatoes and form a queue at the shops to get, them in the last few years, except for short periods when the markets were glutted. These facts indicate the need of guidance in agricultural and rural problems. Great Britain has had more acute demands on its man-power than Australia has had, but in spite of that fact it has increased its production. If it had not, done so, the people would have starved and surrender might have been necessary. The figures given in the booklet in relation to live-stock are also interesting. The dairy herds of Australia have decreased by about 300,000 in the last twelve months, but in Great Britain the number of cattle has increased from 8,872,000 in 1939, to 9,546,000 in 1944, and the increase has been chiefly in dairy stock. Incompetency on the part of the administration is the reason for Australia’s unsatisfactory position in relation to food production. The agreement which is now before us will be of value only if we are able to produce food in sufficient quantities to meet the demands that will be made upon us.
– The honorable member is making a McCormick speech.
– Honorable gentlemen opposite do not like listening to hard facts. Every time the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) speaks on the subject of food production he refers to war conditions and the shortage of man-power as the reason for our reduced output. If such conditions really caused the reduced output in Australia they should have had a similar effect in Great Britain, whereas, in fact, production in Great Britain has increased substantially. If honorable members opposite earnestly desire that Australia shall fulfil its obligations under this bill they should indicate measures which they propose to take to ensure such a result.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Evatt) adjourned.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1944 - No. 27 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
Defence Act - Royal Military College - Report for 1943.
National Security Act - National Security (General) Regulations - Order - Evacuation of area.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1944, Nos. 159, 160, 101, 162.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance - 1944 - No. 9 - Industrial Board.
House adjourned at 11. p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Mr. FORDE - The answers to the honorable gentleman’s questions are as follows : -
t asked the Acting PrimeMinister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable gentleman’s questions is as follows :- - 1 and 2. The Government has no knowledge of the proposed resumption and no Commonwealth lands or activities appear to be affected thereby. The honorable member’s question will, however, be brought to the notice of the Premier of New South Wales.
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers : - 1. (a) A provisional promotion has been made which will be notified in to-day’s Commonwealth Gazette. (&) The salary for the position was laid down by the’ Public Service Board and must remain for the present at the amount originally proposed.
r asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Banking : Booklet by Minister for Home Security.
n asked the Acting
Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In connexion with the Second Victory Loan, what were - (a) The number of individual subscriptions in new cash; (6) the number of individual conversions; (c) the amounts subscribed in new cash; and (d) the amounts converted by each of the following: -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1. (a) 380,000; (b) 40,400; (c) £113,685,000; (d) (i) and (ii) £30,642,170; (iii) £2,332,390; (iv) £805,370; (v) £769,270; (vi)£ 3,568,330; (vii) £1,666,290; (viii) New South Wales £101,760, Victoria £43,830, Queensland £327,060, South Australia £23,930, Western Australia £10,000, Tasmania £61,200.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 November 1944, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1944/19441116_reps_17_180/>.