17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speak eis (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister for Munitions indicate the progress that has been made with the survey of the bauxite deposits in Tasmania? Will he undertake that a complete survey of these deposits shall be made, and that all other factors will be examined before a determination is reached in regard to the site for the smelters’? Is he able to state shortly the stage that has been reached with the preliminary plans for the establishment of the aluminium industry, and the personnel of the commission that is to be given control of this important undertaking?
– I have taken action to have certain surveys made of the deposits of the raw material that will be needed in connexion with this industry, in. anticipation of the exercise of the authority to be vested in the commission. I realize that no time should be lost in obtaining the essential knowledge upon which the commission will need to operate in determining the location of the industry. I am unable to give any particulars of any survey that was made before the matter came under my control. All that I can say is that recently I gave authority for a survey to be undertaken immediately. As I stated yesterday, I hope to be able to announce within the next day or so the personnel of the commission. Immediately the commission has been constituted, it will assume full responsibility for the conduct of the industry.
– Is the Minister aware that, in the view of many experts, a byproduct from the potash works at Lake Campion, Western Australia, is the most suitable raw material for use in the aluminium industry, in regard to the cost delivered, quality, and uniformity? Will the honorable gentleman ensure that the possibilities of this source of raw material shall be fully investigated before the undertaking is committed to the use of any other raw material? When deciding the location of the industry, will he have regard to not only nearness to bauxite deposits, but also the possibility that aluminite from Western Australia may be used?
– The matter will be determined finally by the commission that is to be constituted to control the industry. I shall bring to its notice the raw material that the honorable member has mentioned, and shall ask that it be given the consideration it is entitled to receive.
– Under the income tax law, donations to patriotic funds, such as those raised by the Red Cross Society and the Australian Comforts Fund, are subject to a concessional rebate. Appeals are being made for funds for the relief of distressed ex-servicemen by the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, the Limbless Soldiers Association, the T.B. Sailors and Soldiers Association, and the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Soldiers . Association. Any such donations will not be subject to a concessional rebate. Will the Treasurer examine the matter when framing the next budget, or at an earlier date, in order to determine whether or not a tax concession may be granted in respect of these donations, the object of which is to assist ex-servicemen who have offered their lives for their country?
– I have had placed before me donations to various organizations in respect of which, it is claimed, a rebate of tax should be allowed. In taxation matters, the line separating the allowance or disallowance of rebate is sometimes finely drawn. Generally, however, fairly definite principles are applied by the Commissioner of Taxation, in order to determine whether or not a rebate should be granted. If the honorable member will furnish a list of the specific cases he has in mind, I shall be glad to. consider whether or not his wish can be met.
– I have received a letter, the writer of which says -
I recently placed an orderwith H. V. McKay-Massey Harris Proprietary Limited for a model 102 Senior tractor, which was quoted at£619. On the 21st March, I received notice from them that permission has been issued but that the price-fixing commission has now adjusted the price to £679 18s. 4d., an increase of £60 on the original quotation.
Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs have an inquiry made of the price of farm tractors, which is greatly in excess of what it was prior to the war? Will he specifically inquire as to the further increase which apparently has been made, and endeavour to have the price maintained at a reasonable level in the circumstances?
– I shall call for the production of the file, and shall invite the honorable member to take part in a discussion of the matter in the presence of representatives of the Prices Commission, in order that the basis on which the commission is working may be explained.
News Broadcasts : Army Equipment; Death of Presidentroosevelt
– I ask the Acting Leader of the House whether or not it is a fact that no reference was made on the national news service broadcast at 9 p.m. yesterday - at which hour references customarily are made to proceedings in the Parliament - to the motion submitted by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) and seconded by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) in reference to the matter of Army equipment?
-Reference to it was made in the news broadcast at 7 p.m.
– If so, will the honorable gentleman ascertainbefore the House rises to-day whether or not any censorship was applied to the speeches that were made, and, if it was, the reason for that action?
– I did not hear the news that was broadcast at 9 p.m. yesterday, and cannot, therefore, know the nature of it; but I could not, even by the widest stretch of imagination, conceive of any reason for the exercise of the censorship in relation to the matter mentioned by the honorable member. With all due respect to the Leader of the Australian Country party, I can only conclude that those responsible for the broadcast of the news had referred to the incident in an earlier broadcast, and perhaps considered that a repetition of it might be regarded as tedious. I shall inquire whether the censorship was exercised in relation to the matter, and shall inform the honorable member of the result.
– I desire to preface a question by reading a letter, dated the l7th April, which I have received from a committee of citizens at Casino -
I was directed to draw your attention to the fact that in the national news broadcast at 7.45 a.m. on Saturday, 14th April, in commenting on the death of President Roosevelt the announcer referred (at some length) to M. Stalin’s condolences on the event, and after that mentioned the message of sympathy sent by His Majesty King George VI. It was the unanimous opinion of a number of Casino’s townspeople that this was a grave reversal of the due order of precedence on the national news in a British country …
– If that is the point in the letter on which the honorable member wishes to base a question, he need not read further.
– The letter is from a committee of citizens who are entitled to be heard.
– They are not entitled to have their correspondence read in Parliament at question time.
– I now ask the Minister for Information whether inquiries will be made into the complaint?
– The question asked by the honorable member does not merit much consideration. If the remarks of Marshal Stalin were read before the announcement that His Majesty the King also had sent condolences, that does not indicate that any member of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s news staff was anxious to reflect on His Majesty. The honorable gentleman is not entitled to make such absurd deductions; nor is the committee at Casino, the members of which we do not know, and the existence of which we very much doubt.
– In view of the concern of the honorable member for Richmond regarding certain news broadeasts, will the Minister for Information arrange for those broadcasts to be made over the air during to-day’s news service?
– Earlier this morning the honorable member for Richmond asked a question concerning what he called the failure of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to repeat at 9 p.m. the news which was broadcast at 7 p.m. about the motion of the Leader of the Australian Country party yesterday to suspend the Standing Orders in order ro permit a discussion of a motion relating to an alleged shortage of war equipment. The facts are that the news which was broadcast at 7 o’clock was repeated fully - indeed, at greater length - at 11 o’clock; but as the time available for Australian news at 7 o’clock was only five minutes, the broadcast at that hour of the activities o£ the Parliament was necessarily restricted. During that period of five minutes the debate on the Wool Use Promotion Bill was fully reported, and the remarks of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) were given a great deal of publicity over the national net-work. Therefore, it cannot be suggested that there was the slightest political interference, or any failure on the part of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to give as full a report of the proceedings in Parliament as was possible in the time at its disposal. I strongly suspect that the honorable member for Richmond wanted the 7 o’clock news to be repeated at 9 o’clock so that the men working on his banana plantation could hear it, because they would still ‘have been working at the time of the 7 o’clock broadcast.
-Order ! The House is not concerned about banana workers.
– I was about to conclude by saying that they would be in bed at the time of the 11 o’clock news, because they would have to be up again at dawn.
Withdrawal ott Long-service Troops.
– Is the Minister representing the Acting Minister for the
Army aware that the Government of New Zealand is recalling, from Italy, all members of the fighting services who have had over three years service, and that the Prime Minister of New Zealand has announced that no more reinforcements can be sent overseas without interfering with the major economy of that country? Is he also aware that the United States of America has been recalling men with long service who have family obligations? In view of the relatively high proportion of Australians, as compared with the men of other Allied Nations in the fighting services, will the Minister take up with the Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Military Forces the question of whether it would be practicable to adopt a similar course in Australia, releasing, particularly members of the forces with four or five years’ service in the Middle East or in tropical areas, and men who are suffering from the strain of war and have family obligations, for the purpose of relieving the strain on the home front in relation to such essential services as transport and home building, which are vital to our post-war economy?
– Decisions relating to the strength of the fighting services are a matter for the Minister for Defence rather than the Minister for the Army. In some of the other dominions steps have been taken to secure partial demobilization on a comparatively small scale of some members of the fighting services.
– The United States of America has demobilized 3,000,000 members of its services.
– The best I can do is to refer the matter to the Minister for Defence and ask that a reply be furnished to the honorable member.
– Does the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction agree that the members of the Australian Women’s Land Army are doing particularly fine work, with none of the glamour and without the amenities enjoyed by the other services? If so, will he give suitable recognition to the women of the Land
Army by bringing them within the scope of the Re-establishment and Employment Bill?
– It is not customary to make announcements of Government policy in reply to questions.
– Permits for the building of houses in the country issued by the Department of War Organization of Industry provided that the floor space should not exceed 900 square feet. In view of the fact that a statement supplied to me by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction regarding building conditions in the post-war period, shows that all houses below a certain standard are to be demolished, and that that standard provides for a floor space well over 900 square feet, will the Minister now state whether houses built with a floor space of not more than 900 square feet, which is totally inadequate, will be demolished as soon as the Government’s reconstruction activities begin?
– The right honorable member alleges a discrepancy between instructions issued by the Department of War Organization of Industry and the Department of Post-war Reconstruction with regard to building permits. Whatever may be our ideas as to the scale and character of the house-building programme in the post-war period, the position to-day is that only a very small quantity of resources is now available for the building of houses, and we must make the best use we can of them. The issue to be decided at present is whether we shall build a smaller number of larger houses or a larger number of smaller ones.
– The smaller houses would have to be demolished after the war.
– That point does not, arise, because the Commonwealth Government has no power to order the demolition of houses. That is entirely a matter for the governments of the States. I have said previously that the Government is endeavouring to spread the resources at its disposal over the field of housing as far as practicable, and no more than that can be done at present.
Post-war Service. mr. WHITE.- I draw the attention of the Minister for Air to the fact that the Royal Air Force has circularized all of its personnel in order to ascertain who wish to remain in the force after the war. Will the Minister similarly circularize both air crews and ground staffs of the Royal Australian Air Force, so that the most efficient members of the force may be secured for post-war service? I assure him that if he does not, many young men with distinguished service will be lost to the force.
– I thank the honorable member for the information furnished in the latter portion of his alleged question. As to the earlier part of it, I shall have inquiries made.
Standardization of Gauges
– In view of the fact that much has appeared in the press recently regarding proposals for the standardization of railway gauges in Australia at a total cost of £200,000,000, will the Acting Leader ofthe House see that an opportunity is provided for honorable members to discuss the project thoroughly before an agreement is made with the States, so that the proposals may be considered side by side with waiter conservation, hydro-electric and other schemes? Will the Minister give an assurance that honorable members will have an opportunity to discuss the proposals in this chamber before any agreement binding the Commonwealth to the proposal is reached with the States?
– I assume, in the first place, that any agreement with the States will be subject to ratification by this Parliament. The Minister for Transport, with the consent of the Government, arranged for Sir Harold Clapp to present a report on the standardization of the railway gauges, and that report has only recently come to hand. It is a lengthy document, and I have not yet had an opportunity to read it carefully. The Government, is arranging for the report to be printed, so that honorable members may have an opportunity to study it.
– How long will the printing take?
– That will depend on the pressure of work ait the Government Printing Office, which is very short of man-power. The report will be printed and circulated as soon as possible - I cannot say that that will be done at an early date - and the Government will provide honorable members with an opportunity to discuss the proposals.
– Has the Minister for Information read the report in the Sunday Telegraph, of the 25th March, that the Duke of Windsor may come to this country and take up a high position here ? Is there any truth in the report ?
– I read the report, and can inform the House that there is no truth in the statement. I know the circumstances in which the story was concocted. It arose in a facetious way during a discussion amongst journalists.’ One man said to the others, “It is very easy to get a story into the press nowadays. All you have to do is to suggest that the Duke of Windsor, for instance; intends to visit Australia, and then go to a Cabinet Minister and ask him to comment on the matter. If he refuses, you print the story and say that a government spokesman refused to comment”. Those. are the circumstances in which the story about the Duke of Windsor visiting Australia arose. I think the honorable member for Griffith and all other honorable members will be able in future to discount heavily any story that appears in the press wherein it is stated that either a Minister or a government spokesman has refused to comment on a matter.
– During the last parliamentary sittings I asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council whether consideration had been given to representations made by Public Service associations with reference to the emergency working conditions which had prevailed for many months, in fact, for years. The Minister stated” that he was having a conference with the Public Service Commissioner regarding the matter. Has he had that conference, and has he any statement to make regarding it?
– During the week following that in which the question was asked, a. conference took place between the Public Service Commissioner, the genera] secretary of the Public Service Officers Association, the general secretary of the Professional Officers Association and myself. The two matters raised concerned the restoration of the five-day working week and the employment of public servants over and above what might be regarded as the normal working period. We arrived at a decision with the representatives of the Public Service associations that at this stage it would not be possible to restore the five-day working week, but the Government was willing to review the matter at stated periods during the year, the first review to take place by the end of June. I pay tribute to the members of the Public Service for the long hours which they have worked during the war. It may be known to honorable members ‘ that their present working hours are 73$ a fortnight, but, according to the award, they can be employed up to 81 hours a fortnight without the payment of overtime. This system was introduced in order to provide flexibility in connexion with work which might have to be performed beyond the ordinary working time of 73$ hours a fortnight.
– But that was exceptional.
– Yes, but it has become the general rule owing to the shortage of labour. The decision reached was to pay ordinary rates up to 81 hours a fortnight, and, if public servants worked over that period’, to pay them extra at overtime rates, the overtime to begin after the employees had worked 73£ hours a fortnight, and be paid for accordingly.
Officers on salaries of £612 a year and more are not entitled to overtime. It has been found that some officers whose salaries are less than £612 may, by the receipt of overtime payments, be actually receiving more than those whose salary range is higher than theirs. Therefore, it was agreed that overtime should be payable on salaries up to £750 a year. Yesterday, a conference was held between the Public Service Commissioner and representatives of the unions, and joint representations are now being made to the Public Service Arbitrator for a variation in the terms agreed upon. If he approves, the payments will be made as from the first pay day in March.
Reflections on Private Individuals.
– The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) asked me a series of questions concerning the right of a member to ask a question of a Minister containing reflections upon a private individual. He cited a specific question upon notice by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Mountjoy). It is one of the Speaker’s functions to decide whether or not a question can appear with propriety on the notice-paper, and in giving decisions on such matters I am guided by the Standing Orders and the practice of this House. I have before me a number of questions to Ministers in which reflections on private individuals are contained. These questions were allowed by my predecessor.
The question cited by the honorable member for Warringah was addressed to the Attorney-General, and, in my opinion, it concerned, not only the AttorneyGeneral, but also, to some extent, the Minister for the Army and the Treasurer. If, in the framing of a question, a member casts a reflection on a private individual that is, in my opinion, a matter to be deplored if the reflection is without foundation in fact; but the Speaker would be disinclined to interfere with the right of complete freedom of speech in any proceedings of the House unless he was supported by the Standing Orders or by the practice of the House. I remind the House that the doctrine of freedom of speech in Parliament does not relieve members of responsibility; it asserts that responsibility belongs exclusively to the House, and implies that the House is charged with the duty of ensuring that privileges are not abused. It is not for the Speaker to restrain freedom of speech ; it is forthe House to deal with any member who, in its opinion, has abused the privileges of the House.
In making my decision to allow this question, containing a reflection on an individual, to appear on the notice-paper, I was influenced, not only by the precedents, but also by the fact that the Standing Orders Committee of the last Parliament appeared to be of the opinion that it was in accordance with the practice of the House to allow such questions, for it recommended the adoption of the following standing order : -
Questions regarding the character or conduct of individuals not being Ministers or Members of the House can only be asked upon notice.
The honorable member for Warringah asked whether I would give a direction indicating the limits within which questions may be asked. This I am not prepared to do. In my view, freedom of speech is the most precious heritage that Parliament has, and I shall do nothing calculated to diminish that right; but I repeat, it will at all times be the right and, indeed, the responsibility of the House, to protect that right from what it might determine is an abuse of privilege.
” Mopping-up “ Operations.
– Will the
Minister representing the Acting Minister for the Army, before the debate on Army equipment next Tuesday, obtain a statement showing in what sense the Commander-in-Chief in the South-West Pacific Area, General Douglas MacArthur, uses the term “moppingup”; and particularly in what sense he used it in the communique on the 7th June last when he referred to scattered mopping-up actions along the New Guinea coast? In what sense was it used on the 3rd August of last year when he referred to final mopping-up operations in the Aitape area, where our troops are still engaged ? What did he mean in the communiqué of the 16th February last when, referring to the Solomons campaign, he said -
For all strategic purposes, this completes the campaign in the Solomon Islands?
Will the Minister look through the communiqués, and see how many dozen times the Commander-in-Chief has used the expression “ mopping-up “ ?
– I shall ask my colleague, the Acting Minister for the Army, to prepare an answer to the question.
– Has the Acting-
Attorney-General seen a report in yesterday’s Sydney Sun that clerks of petty sessions in places where fines were imposed upon coal- miners in 1943 had been advised by the Department of Justice within the last two weeks that the fines had been remitted in accordance with a notification from the Solicitor-General,Sir George Knowles? Is it a fact that these fines, ranging from. £1 to £5, with costs, imposed under the National Security (Coal) Regulations for breaches, including absenteeism, totalled nearly £1,500, and that 500 miners in Newcastle, Cessnock, West Maitland, Wollongong and Portland were involved? Will the Minister explain why this action was taken, especially in view of Mr. Justice Davidson’s comment during the proceedings of theCoal Commission yesterday that once we started imposing penalties and then remitting them, the law ceased to be effective and became a joke?
– The matter mentioned by the honorable member has not been brought to my notice, and I shall have to make inquiries in order to learn whether or not the fines are to be remitted. As a matter of fact, the remission of fines is not a new procedure. For a long time past, successive administrations have remitted fines in certain circumstances. When it has been considered that fines should be remitted, that has been done, and I have signed many authorities for remissions. No doubt, other honorable members, who have administered the Attorney-General’s Department in the past, have done the same. However, I shall inquire into the matter.
Explosives Factory at St. Mary’s.
– Has the Minister for Munitions seen a long article in Smith’s Weekly, of the 7th April, under a large heading in black type, “Militant Unionism Gone Mad “, in which it is alleged that, during the last two years, more than 13,000 man-hours were lost through stop-work meetings at the government-controlled explosives factory at St. Mary’s, in New South Wales? It is also alleged that 22 stop-work meetings were held between July and December, 1944, involving 2,739 employees. Will the Minister have these allegations examined, and will he make a statement on the subject when the House meets next week ?
– I have not seen the article referred to. As a matter of fact, I am not at all impressed with the kind of comment made by Smith’s Weekly, having regard to the exaggerations and misrepresentations in which it indulges. However, in view of the honorable member’s representations, I shall have inquiries made, and he will in due course be supplied with an answer.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping say whether it is a fact that arrangements have been made for the sale by the War Disposals Commission of huge quantities of surplus food held by the Army authorities? Does the Government propose to allow these stocks to be disposed of through private traders, as was done in the case of surplus motor vehicles? Having regard to the fact that the co-operative movement does not trade for profit, will the Government consider the request of the great co-operative movement, with its 5,000 shareholders, to participate in the disposal of food stocks?
– I am not aware of any general disposal of food stocks, apart from a proposal to dispose of certain surplus stocks held in this country by the American forces. Negotiations are now proceeding with the Government and the War Disposals Commission with this object in view. I believe that the commission would be pleased to allow cooperative societies to participate in the disposal.
– Is it true, as reported in to-day’s press, that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction said that supplies of D.D.T. might be released to primary producers by ‘September of this year? Has the Minister seen reports regarding the use of D.D.T. in malarial areas in Italy, and in orchards in California, in which it is stated that this powder killed bees and. other insects which normally fertilize blossoms and flowers? Has he also seen the suggestion that D.D.T. may kill other harmless insects, thus upsetting the balance of nature and bringing about a plague of pests? Will the Minister ask the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to find out whether these allegations are true? If they are found to be true, will the Minister see that great care is exercised in the distribution of this material?
– During- last session, honorable members opposite made strong representations to me to have supplies of D.D.T. released, to primary producers. At that time, I said that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was not absolutely satisfied that certain disadvantages might not accrue from the use of this material on a large scale. I shall once again refer the matter to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research with a view to learning whether there will be any danger in the distribution of D.D.T. on a large scale.
– Oan tha Minister representing the Attorney-General say whether summonses have yet been issued with a view of prosecuting the striking master bakers of Brisbane . who have ignored an order to return to work?
– I understand that 52 summonses have been issued to members of the Master Bakers Association in Brisbane, and that 22 summonses have been issued to bakers who are not members of the association. The matter came before the court yesterday, and the master bakers, in asking for an adjourn ment, challenged the right of the authorities to issue the order. An adjournment was granted until this morning. I understand that the Crown took the attitude that an adjournment could have been granted for a longer period if the master bakers were willing to obey the order and give an undertaking to discuss the matters in dispute. That, I think, was a fair attitude. Whether or not a similar situation will arise this morning I am unable to say, but I hope that it will arise, and that whatever arguments the master bakers have to put forward in relation to prices will be discussed in a calm atmosphere.
Debate resumed from the 19th April (vide page 969) on motion by Mr. Dedman -
That the bill be now rend a second time.
.- In the first place, I congratulate the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod) on the practical contribution that he made to the debate on this bill, which aims at improving the production of wool and increasing its use. The honorable member is a practical woolgrower, and I was greatly interested in his comments. Being a wool-grower I was more than ordinarily interested, because I realize that his statements relating to the disposal of the huge carry-over of wool after the last war were strictly in accordance with the facts. The administration of Sir John Higgins, particularly his action in rationing that wool on the markets of the world, was of immense advantage to the wool-growers of Australia. I recall that for a number of years dividends flowed into wool-growers’ pockets and were in the nature of birth.day presents to many of them who had thought that their equity in the clip had been exhausted long previously. I sincerely hope that, in the period following this war, there will be no return to the system of auctioning wool and the intervention of speculators in wool. What is needed is a continuation of stability in the wool industry; on every hand those engaged in wool-growing make that request. The only people who are not interested in stability are those who hope to make profits by speculating in wool.
There are some features associated with the proposed levy on wool with which I do not agree, and I know that the woolgrowers of Australia are by no means unanimous as to the method of raising the funds required for the purposes set out in the bill. In this connexion, I shall read a letter which I have received from some wool-growers in my electorate -
At a meeting of the St. Arnaud Branch of the Victorian Wheat and Wool Growers Association, I am instructed to ask for your co-operation regarding the recent levy of 2s. n bale on wool.
We regard this as most unfair to the lowpriced wool-grower, and this branch sent a direct protest to Mr. Scully, but it had no effect on Cabinet’s decision.
I mentioned in my letter to him that a percentage reduction, say, -J per cent., of the wool cheque would achieve the same result, whereas, with the present levy of 2s. a bale n Mallee farmer pays more than twice as much levy to the amount of money he receives for the sale of his wool as the Western District woolgrower: also, with the percentage increase in price, the Wimmera and Mallee “rowers again suffer at the expense of the high-priced wool, whereas an all-round increase in the price per lb. would be quite fair and i>< Jquitabie to all.
Tj. A. Phillips. Hon. Secretary.
That letter expresses the view of many wool-growers, and in my opinion there is a good deal to be said for th.at view. During the debate on this bill, several honorable members, including the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), have referred to the part which the wool industry plays in Australia’s economy. The honorable member for New England said that Australia’s progress and development rested mainly on the success of the wool industry. Without discussing ‘the merits of that claim - and there is a lot of truth in it - I pointout that if we accept the honorable member’s statement, we must agree that, when the wool industry is in difficulties, the country should assist it in such matters as publicity and research. For that reason, I am of opinion that the proposed increase of the levy from 6d. to 2s. a bale should not be imposed on the wool-growers, but that the entire burden should be carried by the taxpayers of this country. The proposed levy is an unfair impost on the growers of wool, and they should not be called upon to bear it, especially as woolgrowing is not particularly profitable at present prices. Wool-growing may be profitable in some instances, but growers generally are of the opinion that the price should be increased in any future negotiations for the sale of the Australian wool clip. With that view I entirely agree, and I hope that the Government will keep the point in mind when negotiations are taking place in the future.
Much has been said about the stocks of wool which have accumulated in this country and the danger of asking high prices for it. In this connexion, I have only to say that I have no recollection of any Australian wool clip not having been cleared. It is a matter of capable management and proper administration. I agree with that part of the speech of the honorable member for Wannon in which he stressed the necessity for selecting as Commonwealth wool adviser a man detached altogether from the wool industry. Too much emphasis could not be laid upon that aspect, and I do trust that the Government will be extremely careful in the selection of that adviser because on him will largely depend the successful marketing of Australia’s wool after the war. However, we have never failed to clear, any clip and I have no doubt that we shall clear the present accumulations at a good profit. If the good which we hope will ultimately come out of the suffering, destruction and devastation caused by the war is to be realized, the standards of living for all nations, including the depressed races, the coloured .people and the Asiatics must be raised. That would create a wonderful opportunity for the increased sale of woollen garments. Despite everything said about the competition of synthetic textiles, I still think that woollen products can be developed to such a degree that they will be superior in every way and able to compete successfully with lines of textiles now favoured by our women. The result will be that eventually the artificial textiles will not be the great menace to wool that they seem to be at the moment. I agree entirely that we should manufacture, at least in part, our wool before exporting it. I do not feel that we should export greasy wool with all the foreign matter that goes with it. We might well process our wool into tops and export it in that way. We should also go right ahead with spinning and making cloths of all sorts, and export the maximum quantity of wool possible as a finished product. New markets in Europe, I have no doubt, will come. Russia, which has made enormous strides in the last 20 years, would, I am sure, take immense quantities of wool and woollen goods from us if there were some reciprocity, and Russia has many commodities that we might very well he prepared to accept, for instance, oil and oil products. As far as possible we should decentralize the handling and preparation of wool for appraisement, and establish appraisement centres in the main country towns in districts where wool is grown in considerable quantities. Some attempt has been made during the war to do something along those lines, but we have not got very far for reasons arising from the war. I do not propose to go deeper into the subject. I support the measure in principle, but it is capable of improvement and I have no doubt that in committee some amendments will be moved. The impost proposed will be inequitable, and I suggest to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction that the Government itself ought to sponsor an amendment to make it more equitable as .urged .in the letter that I read earlier. I do not share the fears that have arisen about the disposal of our wool after the war. As a woolgrower and as one who has travelled, I know that Australian wool will always be in demand because wool of the quality that we grow is not available elsewhere in the quantity required. So the obtaining of fair prices practically rests with ourselves. I do not think that greater publicity for wool will be of much advantage. The main thing is to ensure that countries wishing to trade with us shall have the facilities to do so. It may be necessary to establish consumer credits in order to open new markets. That procedure has been adopted with success by other countries. If we do not follow suit we may lose the market for, not. only wool, but also other commodities. I leave it at that. I approve of the principle of the bill and will vote for the second reading, but I hope that some improvements will be made in committee. [Quorum formed.]
– Good food and warm clothing are the best missionaries for world peace. A full belly in a warm body is the best prescription against “war, especially for temperate and cold climates where most of the wars of the last few years seem to have originated. With these two indispensables, people sleep better and are less inclined to roam looking for trouble. Nations that are well fed and suitably clothed are on the road to being satisfied. Australia, which has a mission to provide good food to this desirable end, has rather fallen down on its job through too much governmental interference. Let us not do the same with wool; let us give to wool producers and those accustomed to handle wool, the best possible assistance with the maximum financial support from the Government. We should recognize that in common with other primary producers thewoolgrowers have been living on theircapital during the war. Denied labour and material with which to effect maintenance, and improvements, they have had to pay tax on incomes inflated by the unexpended amounts that they normally would have used for that purpose and accordingly deducted from their taxable incomes. Thus they have been hit both ways. They have on their hands already a tremendous post-war problem, of disposing of the surplus 15,000,000 bales accumulated since the war began,, besides dealing with current clips. Bawra, which was set up after the last war to ration the surplus wool on to the world’s markets, lifted from the wool industry in particular and Australia in general, a dark cloud, caused by prices having fallen to as low as 6d. per lb. After this war; we must similarly ensure against a collapse of wool prices .by gradually unloading the accumulated stocks on to the markets. As well, wemust take steps to ensure progress in the-! use of wool.
Continued progress of wool consumption can be assured if we can take the skin-tickle out of it and remove its shrinkability, and so treat it as to enable it to be used readily in combination with cheaper synthetic fibres. This entails continuous scientific research. The governments with which I have been associated have gone a long way along these lines. The value of research work, especially at the Torridon Experimental Institute in Yorkshire has been amply demonstrated in war in respect of soldiers’ socks. Their use in England of the process of using a preparation from paw-paw and sodium bisulphide made wool unshrinkable and, in a test made in the early days of the war, it was found that though woollen socks without this treatment were unwearable after the second washing, the others could be used until they were worn out. Similarly, scientific research enabled the tickle to be taken out of wool and lustre to be given. In 1938 I saw most beautiful fashion models of women’s frocks made entirely of wool. That is of importance to not only Australia but also the world-, because wool is of outstanding importance in world trade. It combines great value with small bulk, especially after being dumped under great pressure. It is easily carried and handled, and the fact that its great value permits sub,stantial freights to be charged, makes possible the transport of other commodities at a reasonable cost. The refrigerated output of Australia is especially indebted to wool for this service. Wool shipping freights amount to £3,000,000 a year. In fact, wool freights play a very considerable part in maintaining the solvency of our whole railway transport system. A comparison between railway freights for wool and other commodities shows that the high freights for wool, on the basis of its great value and small bulk has been of great assistance in maintaining low freights for wheat and other products, enabling those products to compete on the markets of the world. Thus there is every justification to add to the self-help on the part of the growers themselves which has distinguished the efforts of those interested in the wool industry, particularly in respect of research. In reply to some of the speeches made in this debate, I point out that the Australian Wool Board, with the limited funds at its disposal, has done wonders in publicity and research. Ear from criticizing what that body has done, we should congratulate ourselves on the fact that the industry has been served by a man of the calibre of Professor Ian Clunies. Boss, who was the first secretary of the International Wool Secretariat in London. The Wool Board was- established only three years before the outbreak of war. Yet it had made an impression in London and every European country, as well as in America. Since the war commenced, its activities, in publicity especially, have been interrupted. I strongly support the measure on general principles’. It is a progressive step in the march of wool to victory over its competitors. I am especially glad to see, in addition, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which my own Government also established in 1925, being so closely linked with the activities of the Wool Board, and also that the Secondary Industries Commission is being brought in to assist its work. At the committee stage I shall endeavour to have certain machinery clauses improved.
Apart from its international importance, wool is of tremendous significance as the basis of our national life and economy. The value of the annual clip approximates one-tenth of our total production, and one-third of the total value of our exports. Because we are able to export wool in such quantities, we are able to enjoy the imports of tea, coffee, rubber, machinery for new industries, and modern equipment.
The effect of the value of the wool clip on the number of workers gainfully employed has been strikingly shown in a graph in the statement issued by the Prime Minister in November last. There it is shown that employment goes up and down with the value of wool; and the value of wool varies, of course, with the price and with the quantity which is controlled largely by the season.
In order to maintain the total value so that employment in Australia may be more secure, it is necessary to increase the production and consumption of wool. At present, however, the first step to assist production should be to stimulate consumption of the huge surplus which has accumulated during the war years. This surplus must be put into active use, and removed from the market, where its presence; will loom like an overwhelming cloud and discourage production and destroy reproductive prices. On this aspect it is necessary that we should have comprehensive machinery to deal with the disposal of this huge surplus and feed it to the market regularly, as was done after the last war. Bawra, which dealt with the disposal of our surplus after the last war, proved to be one of the most satisfactory organizations ever to be set up in this country. To-day we have the Central Wool Committee which is representative of every section of the industry. We should enable that body to function after the war with maximum effectiveness in the disposal of existing surpluses.
With respect to the problem of increasing the consumption of wool, Australia could make a remarkably good gesture in the interests not only of the industry in- this country but also of this staple as a commodity of world trade, by making a gift of scoured wool to India and China. It would not be difficult to make the peoples of those countries wool conscious. From time immemorial they have worked millions of hand looms. It- should; be possible to get them to seek Australian wool for use in their cottage industries. Although we have contracted to sell the whole of our clip to Great Britain, some of our wool could possibly be allotted to those countries. Perhaps, a portion of our contribution of £12,000,000 to Unrra could be used for this purpose. By that means we could do much towards meeting the problem of disposing of surpluses.
I am not so pessimistic as are some honorable members who have spoken regarding competition from new synthetic fibres. Wool must be active if it is to compete effectively with these fibres, particularly in respect of quality and style. Wool never can hope to be as cheap as synthetics; but it can always be better. Quality goods can always find a market. I believe also that with the admixture of wool with these cheaper materials we can so spread the use of woollen materials as to make a continually increasing demand for wool. Sir Arthur Goldfinch, who handled the whole wool business for the British Government during the last war, spoke to me out of an experience of 60 years of the wool industry during my last visit to England. He said that new synthetic fibres had always seemed to threaten wool when first developed; but actually, in experience, they had increased the use of wool by spreading its use to many more millions through the cheaper goods supplied by such manufacturers. The use of such mixtures needs a great deal of research and the spending of much money. Therefore, I do not despair of wool in its fight with competitive fibres. Provided we press on with research we shall find that the demand for wool will increase correspondingly with the increase of production of synthetics. Indeed, I should say that in such circumstances the demand for wool will become almost limitless, particularly should the ideal, expressed in the Atlantic Charter, of lifting the standards of the peoples of the world be implemented.
As I have already said, from the point of view of health wool -is probably more important than any other commodity. It is valuable not merely in cold climates. Madam Curie has pointed out in one of her books that one reason why Russia was able to make such a magnificent recovery and repulse the Germans was because the Russians were clothed with wool, whereas the Germans relied on synthetic material which did not give warmth equal to that provided by woollen clothes. Even in tropical countries woollen underclothes are a preventive of chills and fevers. We should endeavour to devise some light woollen material for underclothing which will not cause a chill following perspiration. There is no latitude or longitude where wool cannot hold its own from the point of view of health. It is much more important than cotton. Therefore, it is just as essential that wool should spend as much in. research and” publicity as cotton. The Shirley Cotton Institute at Manchester spends roughly £100,000 a year. Its buildings and plant have cost £210,000. It has 90 graduates and 157 technical and other staff members continually working on cotton problems.
America is spending over £6,000,000 a year on research into the development and use of synthetic fibres. I invite honorable members to compare those figures with our somewhat puny efforts at Torridon in Yorkshire, where the expenditure on wool research is between £12,000 and £15,000 per annum. In all, textile research in England at Cambridge, Leeds, Bradford and Torridon costs only £50,000 a year. This money is provided by the Wool Industries Research Board, and Australia contributes only a fraction of it. In view of this almost miserable expenditure, wool obviously possesses enormous natural advantages; otherwise, it would not be able to hold its own in competition with synthetic fibres. Despite its name, the International Wool Secretariat, to which Australia makes a contribution, is only an Empire body, and it is most desirable for us to induce the United States of America to join the organization. If that were done, remarkable progress could be made towards increasing the consumption of wool, and that, in turn, would mean better prices for the wool-growers. If we approach this problem in a proper manner, we may be able to persuade the United States of America to co-operate fully with the British Empire in stimulating the consumption of wool.” Although America is the richest country in the world, with the biggest income per head of the population, its consumption of wool is low. In many respects, the United States of America has a high standard of living, but the percentage of wool used in the clothes of American citizens is low. America has a very cold climate. Even in Louisiana, which is regarded as being almost situated in the tropics, the water is frozen for a period of the year, whilst in Ohio, Chicago and New York, snow may be seen for many months. Consequently, the United States of America should have a high consumption of wool. But there are many reasons why it has not. America is a big wool producer, although, paradoxically, it does not go out of its way to produce wool. The primary object is to produce meat, and the wool yield is incidental thereto. America’s wool industry also enjoys a high tariff protection, which has tended to make the industry inefficient, and has had a detri mental effect on the quality. I am not disparaging American wool, but am only stating a fact when I say that the quality is not nearly so high as that of Australian wool. Count for count, Australian wool is of a much higher standard than American wool, whilst American marketing methods are substantially less efficient than our own. What is urgently required is ,a big increase of the per capita consumption of wool in the United States of America. To attain that objective, America should get cheaper raw wool for manufacture, in order that the finished article shall be within the financial reach of a large majority of the people. At present, America is not able to obtain Australian wool cheaply because a duty of 34 cents. - approximately l’7d. per lb. - has been imposed upon imported wool. However, America needs more wool of Australian types for the manufacture of cloths. The United States must diversify its needs, and manufacturing equipment, so that it may handle all types of wool. The scope offering in this direction may be seen from the following table: -
Although the United States of America has practically the same cold climate as the United Kingdom and Belgium, the American consumption of wool per capita is 2 lb. less than it is in those other countries. The point which I desire to impress upon honorable members is that Australian wool production in 1942-4)3, from one-sixth of the world’s sheep, was 3,500,000 bales, or more than one-quarter of the world’s production, and one half of the world’s production of merino wool. If America could increase its consumption per head of the population, to the Australian level, it would use another 750,000 hales. That would represent a substantial addition to the world’s demand for wool. The honorable member for New England has already referred to the wonderful manner in which plastics can prepare wool for the best looking furs. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) has informed me that science has discovered various methods of giving to woollen goods a most attractive appearance. For further research, however, more money is required, particularly in view of’ the amounts that America devotes to industrial research. Therefore, the value of securing America’s adherence to the International Wool Secretariat is obvious, and the increased consumption of wool would meet the threat of competition by synthetic fibres.
I have spoken of the manner in which the United States of America, which is the richest, country in the world, may stimulate the consumption of wool. Let me now refer briefly to the part that may be played by the two poorest countries, India and China. They have very cold winters in certain extensive areas. Even in the hot summers, the health of the people would be markedly improved by the judicious use of wool. As the honorable member for New England suggested, the first step will be to stimulate the cottage spinning industry by the use of spinning wheels, which are already in millions of Indian and Chinese bornes. To achieve this objective, it would be well worth our while to make a gift of at least .£1,000,000 worth of scoured wool to India and China. Having made the common people woolconscious, we could commence to establish a big industry for the production of woollen textile machinery in order to handle the whole process on a modern manufacturing basis. At present, the use of wool in China and India is quite insignificant. Australia uses approximately 5 lb. of scoured wool a head per annum. If China were to use only 1 lb. a head per annum, the quantity required to supply this demand would be 1,500,000 bales. If India used 1 lb. a head per annum, it would re- quire an additional 1,000,000 bales. The total increased requirements of the United States of America, India and China would be 3,300,000 bales, and Australia would be “ scratching “ to get enough wool out of its annual clip to keep its looms in operation.
From the nature of its development, Australia has been forced to approach the problem of the manufacture of wool from the wrong direction. We started, perforce, on the “ bread-and-butter “ line, making blankets and rugs, which are easily woven, and the cheaper classes of tweeds. Now, we have reached the stage at which we can make a first-class tweed. Having worn Australian cloth for 25 years, I have been in a position to note the steady improvement of quality that has taken place. In addition to having tremendous quantities of wools suitable for cheaper cloths, we have the finest raw wool, and our object should be to acquire the speciality trade of the world. To do so, we must import the necessary machinery and attract from other countries skilled artisans, who are able to make high-quality wool into high-quality fabrics. The speciality trade commands high prices. In fact, the country fortunate enough to have this speciality trade is in a position to demand its own prices, even without infringing the terms of the Atlantic Charter. If we were able to manufacture first-class fabrics of the highest quality, we should be able to claim, with justification, that they were worth the high price asked for thom. Australia would have no difficulty in selling these products to other countries, and, by such processes, would possibly double or even treble the export trade in wool, and establish an international reputation for the finest fabrics as well as for the best raw materials. This industry would provide work for large numbers of people, offering a steady avenue of secure employment which otherwise the public may not have. I welcome the fact that more money will be expended on wool research and publicity.
As I stated, if Australia set out to manufacture high-quality tweeds and fabrics, skilled artisans from all parts of the world would be attracted here. They might foster among other trade unionists a different spirit regarding the value of production and work, instead of insisting upon the highest possible wages for the least possible work as certain unions do. From that standpoint, Australia has everything to gain by proceeding along the lines that I have indicated. The honorable member for New England suggested that a woolpack should be placed in the Senate in order to remind legislators of the significance of wool in the Australian economy. No one can over-emphasize the importance of wool to Australia, and I believe that the placing of a woolsack in the Senate would be an excellent move, because it would always keep the wool industry before the notice of the legislature.
.- I support the principles of the bill. T agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) when he expressed the opinion that the two organizations should be merged in order that the composite body may do the whole of the work of sales and organization. Perhaps it is too much to hope for that revision of plans at this late juncture. However, we must applaud the scheme for promoting wool sales and bringing the importance of Australia as a woolproducing nation more to the notice of other countries. The total amount that is involved, £650,000, is, by a strange coincidence, the same as the figure which was supplied in answer to a question recently on the cost of Bolls Boyce engines, the number made, and the preparation of tools, jigs and dies. A comparison of the two proposals is interesting. One is for the manufacture, probably after the war, of an aircraft engine which is already out of date and which could be purchased at auction from Great Britain shortly when thousands will be sold as surplus equipment, whereas the other proposal is to spend money wisely in a manner which will enable us to reap a large reward.
A great deal more could be done on the sales side of the industry. Wool production is probably Australia’s most successful industry. It was well founded many years ago, and has been unassisted. Due to the enterprise of our pioneers, and the skill of our technicians and research experts, we lead the world in wool production. That is something of which we can b’i proud, but as wool is a product upon which the economy of this country is largely dependent, the sales side is most important. Over the years, wool production has not suffered many vicissitudes. It is true, as no doubt will be argued by many graziers, that the price of wool has been low in this or that year, but also there have been peak years, and on the average the industry has been most successful from a financial point of view. However, governments must be careful not to overtax any one section of our economy, particularly a vital industry such as this. If costs in this industry become so high that production is discouraged, an impetus will be given to the use of synthetic fibres about which I will have something to say later. If the industry has not encountered great problems in selling its product over the years, that has been because wool is a commodity in universal demand. But there are definite problems to-day. At the outbreak of war Great Britain generously promised to buy our entire wool clip for the duration of the war and one year thereafter. As always, Great Britain has honoured its promise faithfully, but in so doing it has overbought. Britain has acquired approximately £500,000,000 worth of wool from the Dominions during the war, and of that total an accumulation of £200,000,000 worth remains. If the overpurchase had been of meat, it would have been of great benefit to the famished people of Great Britain who have done so much in this war and who are now assisting to feed liberated countries; but it is wool that has been accumulated and awaits disposal. Prior to the war Great Britain was the greatest creditor country in the world, but to-day it is the greatest debtor country. The economy of Australia could not have been maintained had it not been for the generous assistance of Great Britain during the war ; therefore, we must co-operate with Great Britain in the post-war years in an endeavour to dispose of this huge surplus of wool.
The secondary phase of the wool industry in this country is most efficient. That is clear from Tariff Board reports. In 1936 while I was Minister for Trade and Customs, T instructed the Tariff Board to carry out a comprehensive inquiry into every aspect of this industry. I shall quote one paragraph of the board’s report demonstrating the efficiency of the secondary phase of the industry. The report is dated the 16th June, 193S, and the paragraph to -which I wish to draw attention is as follows: -
The growth and importance of woollen manufacture is indicated by the fact that between the years 1925 and 1!>30 the number of employees engaged in the industry rose from 7.000 to 18,000; in the same period direct wages increased from £1,000,000 to approximately £3,000,000 pur annum, and the value of output from £;:i.750.000 to approximately £8.000,000.
Another report on this industry was made by this expert body as far back as lf)32. On page 9 of that report appears tho following passage: -
The local production of materials for men’s suits and overcoats compares favorably with tl»’ imported cloths, both as regards quality and price, over a large proportion of the range. Furthermore, the variety of designs and qualities produced is adequate to supply a very substantial proportion of the demand.
These are not loose statements, but are the well-reasoned findings of an expert body properly equipped to make such inquiries and able to speak with authority. The wool industry is spread over all the States of the Commonwealth. There are more than fourteen large manufacturing establishments, a number of which are in Geelong, in the electorate of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. That city has become the Australian Bradford, and the woollen industry there employs many skilled artisans brought from Great Britain. T heartily agree with the right honorable member for Cowper that we should strive to reach the highest possible standard of quality, and to this end should bring skilled artisans from overseas as well as training our own. The Australian consumption of wool is approximately 350,000 bales a year, but our export of this commodity is approximately 3,000,000 bales a year. Enthusiastic as we may be about our own potentialities and possibilities, we can only absorb a limited proportion of the Australian wool clip, even allowing for a substantial increase of population by migration. Therefore, we must continue to look, to overseas markets for the disposal of most of our wool. I pay a tribute to an Australian who has done most valuable work for this industry, and who, I trust, will not be forgotten in the setting up of the administration proposed by this measure. I refer to ex-Senator J. F. Guthrie, a resident of the city of Geelong, whose publication What Great Britain Means to Wool is worthy of study by every member of Parliament. It shows clearly how the prosperity and success of this industry has been dependent largely upon Great Britain’s purchase of a substantial proportion of our wool clip. How can we bring about greater sales of our wool? When travelling on the European Continent prior to the war, I noticed that certain Australian manufacturers were able to sell their products successfully on the European market. If the manufacturer of aspros can sell his goods throughout France and Belgium without Government assistance, and if a boot polish manufacturer carrying on business in Melbourne can establish factories in France and claim a large part of the United Kingdom market for his products, surely our wool industry, which already holds a position of world preeminence in respect of both quantity and quality, should be able to achieve similar success overseas. We must bring Australian wool to the notice of potential buyers. The right honorable member for Cowper has suggested that large quantities of wool might be given away for publicity purposes. I support that suggestion. There is in Great Britain an organization known as the World Trade Alliance which has had a considerable influence on the economic outlook of that country in recent years. That organization’s plan for world economic betterment is that surpluses of commodities should be acquired and either sold at a very low price to more or less indigent nations, or, if necessary, given to those nations absolutely free. It is suggested also that, if possible, goods should be exchanged more or less on the lease-lend principle, and that public works in the recipient countries be the quid pro quo. If a portion of the £200,000,000 worth of wool accumulated oy Great Britain could be disposed of in that way the transaction would definitely pay us.
Quite apart from the advertising aspect, the wool would be of great assistance to such countries as India and China, although in the latter country cotton is in universal use and has been used from time immemorial. There is great scope for improved markets among nations which were buyers of wool before the war. In peace-time we always had a favorable trade balance with Belgium, which, incidentally, created many problems for the Australian “Ministers for Trade and Customs, and we were in a similar position with regard to France and Italy, as well as Great Britain. However, I agree with the right honorable member for Cowper that much more could be done in the United States of America. I have read in American journals advertisements for English tweeds. There is a great demand in the United States of America, and, in fact, throughout the world, for British textiles. In almost every Balkan country the test for quality is “ Is it British ? “, and Britain has always maintained the highest standard. Despite the fact that America is one of the most powerful and wealthy countries in the world and has imposed tariff barriers, there is always a substantial demand for British textiles in that country. I saw one journal advertising “Buy British textiles made from Australian wool”. That should be one of the objects of the proposed new organization - stressing the use of Australian wool. British people will be pleased to know that they are buying Australian wool. Let the words “Australian wool “ be used universally. We must not be self-satisfied in this matter. We must not delude ourselves into believing that this industry is so well established in Australia that nothing can shake it. Synthetics are a definite menace although not to the catastrophic degree that some people would have us believe. Before the war I heard talks by Professor Clunies Ross in London when he returned from Germany, and I heard the German Consul-General address the Millions Club in Sydney on the subject of synthetics. He said that the German synthetic, “ wolstra “, menaced the Australian wool industry in the same way as Britain menaced certain German chemical industries after the last war. That statement has been challenged by many people. We know that wool has qualities which are not possessed by synthetic fibres. I took the opportunity to visit Germany before the war, and after a great deal of difficulty examined the manufacture of synthetic wool at Halle near Leipzig. I found that the synthetic wool plant there was producing 300,000 tons of synthetic wool a year. I saw a huge area of beech logs ready to be desiccated for conversion into synthetic fibre. The wood is pulped, treated chemically, and, as in the Rayon process, forced through tiny holes to create filaments and then cut to the staple length of wool. The material when finished looks very much like wool, but it is not of the same quality as the Germans well know. One could buy in Germany lengths of material made from pure wool and synthetic fibre in varying proportions. Hitler made it compulsory to mix a certain quantity of synthetic fibre with wool, and the quality of the material varied according to the quantity of pure wool used in it. The point is, however, that at that time 300,000 tons of synthetic wool was being used in Germany annually. The possibilities of this competition must not be ignored, although admittedly the- quality of synthetic fibre cannot be compared with’ that of wool. Let us strive in this country for the highest peak of efficiency in wool production, and thereby ensure that forestry resources in other countries will be diverted to the manufacture of paper instead of synthetic wool. In that direction there is tremendous scope for this new organization. It should endeavour to make the appeal of Australian wool world-wide. Wool production and manufacture in this country must be improved by the use of the best available resources of machinery and technical ability. This industry dates back to pre-federation days. No- Commonwealth Government created it. It existed in Victoria in strength long before federation. Of course, in those days only the cruder products, such as blankets and some clothing materials, were made. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) said that for the last 25 years he had bought nothing but Australianmade suitings. I am proud to say that I have done likewise for an even longer period. If Australians encourage the use of woollen materials in Australia instead of buying imported substitute products - because we make no rayon, linen, or synthetic wools here - consumption will be greatly increased. We should encourage sales within the Empire and endeavour to persuade Great Britain not only to dispose of the £2,000,000 worth of surplus wool to the best advantage, but also to continue to purchase as much wool as Australia can send. Great Britain is the clearing house for America. Our trade representatives abroad, if they are good business men, will take steps to see that sales of Australian wool in foreign countries shall be increased. I have nothing but goodwill towards the proposed Australian Wool Board. I hope that its operations will be extensive and successful, and that it will fulfil its obligations to Australia and the Empire.
.- I congratulate the Government on submitting a measure of this kind to provide assistance for the wool industry, which is undoubtedly Australia’s principal industry. It appears that the reason underlying the introduction of the bill is the existence of a twofold threat which the Government may have to face after the war. The chief threat is from synthetic materials, and this may develop into what the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon) called the “ battle of the textiles”. Also, there is the problem of the accumulated stock pile. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) said that he was not so pessimistic as some honorable members regarding the outcome of the battle between synthetic materials and woollen goods. None of us is pessimistic regarding the outcome of the conflict, but most of us realize that this threat to the wool industry should not be regarded lightly. We should guard against the calamity which might result from continued improvement of the quality of synthetic fibres. We have seen what has been done by the Dupont Rayon Company in the United States of America, which successfully undertook to compete against Japanese silks. Furthermore, chemists have been able to produce fibres which resemble the best wool, though whether they possess similar qualities is questionable.
Great strides have been made in the production of synthetic materials in recent years, and we may expect further advances in the future. The introduction of this bill indicates that the Government Ls alive to the dangers of the economic front just as it has been alive to threats on the war front. The wool in the accumulated stock pile has been purchased by Great Britain. We have been informed that a delegation has left Australia for Great Britain to discuss, among other things, the distribution of that wool. Immediately the markets of occupied countries are thrown open, there will be a tremendous increase of the demand for woollen materials, and that will create employment for people in those countries. It would be a calamity for Australia if there were any substantial reduction of the price of wool. In this there is a community of interest between growers and workers. A reduction of Id. per lb. in the price of wool would mean a decrease of the Australian wool cheque by about £4,000,000. Therefore, as our national economy is so closely linked with the wool industry, the Government should take every possible step to prevent a fall of prices after the war. There is a fear that, if the accumulated stock pile were unloaded suddenly on the world’s markets, the price of wool would fall, to the detriment not only of growers and business people in Australian wool-growing districts, but also of the workers in the industry. Research with the object of promoting the use of wool will be of great importance. Existing markets and potential markets will be investigated, with particular attention to far eastern countries, because, as some honorable members have already stated, there are good openings for the sale of wool in countries not far from Australia. The Government should encourage the scouring of wool, and even the manufacture of woollen products in the areas of production. The Government intends to encourage decentralization of industries and population after the war, because war activities have caused concentration of industries and population in the capital cities. In the great inland areas of Australia, where wool is produced, towns have been languishing for a considerable time. The expansion of the industry in those regions would be complementary to the Government’s decentralization policy. It would be foolish to say that we have not sufficient funds for such work after the war. I am pleased that a bill relating to banking will be brought down by the Government, because some of the difficulties involved in decentralizing industries may be overcome through assistance given to manufacturers by the Commonwealth Bank. I give my wholehearted support to this bill, and I hope that the fondest wishes of those responsible for its preparation will ‘be realized. With the creation of a board controlled by growers’ representatives we should see rapid expansion of the production of woollen goods from our own wool, which is the best in th e world. The board should develop markets which have hitherto been neglected. The wool-growers have been exploited by market manipulators and wool rings for many years, and the implementation of this bill should put an end to this victimization.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Sitting suspended from 12.43 to 2.15 p.m.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. During question time to-day, the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), in answer to a question, made personal reflections upon me as an employer of labour. They were entirely unwarranted and unfounded, and embraced not only me, but also men employed in a primary industry who are no less willing than is any other section of Australian working men to maintain proper conditions of labour in this country. The statement of the Minister that these men work long hours, extending into the night, for very little, is a reflection upon the character and independence of men who are doing a worthwhile job, as well as upon me. I repudiate the statement, and the Minister should tender an apology for having made it.
Mr.CALWELL. - The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), in the course of his question to-day, reflected upon the work, the inde pendence, and in some degree the integrity of members of the staff of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I replied in a somewhat facetious way in regard to the honorable gentleman’s employees. I had no intention of reflecting upon them. I certainly did not say that they work for very little, although I did appear to indicate that they work long hours. If I offended the honorable gentleman, I regret the incident.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s Message) :
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to make provision for improving the production and increasing the use of wool.
Resolution reported and - by leave - adopted.
In committee (Consideration resumed) :
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 - (1.) The Minister may appoint a person to be the Commonwealth Wool Adviser on such terms and conditions, and with such remuneration, as the Minister thinksfit.
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.), after the word “ Minister “, first occurring, the following words be inserted: - “ , on the recommendation of the Wool Board.”
The Commonwealth Wool Adviser will be one of the key men in the whole of the scheme. It is essential that those who subscribe the money that is to be paid into the Wool Use Promotion Fund - the wool-growers - shall have the right to recommend to the Minister the person to be appointed to that position, and the Minister should be obliged to give effect to their recommendation. I am sure that the honorable gentleman, with his customary generosity, must realize the force of this contention. The principle always has been laid clown that there should be producer control of all bodies that have the handling of primary products. My amendment merely seeks to apply that principle in connexion with the appointment of the man who will be responsible for advising the Government in regard to the expenditure of moneys out of the Wool Use Promotion Fund. I hope that the Minister will accept it.
.- The Commonwealth Wool Adviser will have many functions to perform, but he will have only a partial voice in the expenditure on wool publicity of that portion of the money that is raised by means of the tax imposed on the wool-growers. The money to be provided by the Government will be paid into the Wool Research Trust Account, and will be devoted to purposes of research. Since the Government will provide money, the Government must be responsible for the manner in which it is expended. With the exception of the Commonwealth Wool Adviser, the whole of the representatives on the Australian Wool Board will be appointed on the nomination of the growers’ organizations. It is evident, therefore, that the growers will have a very strong voice in determining how the moneys raised, for publicity purposes will be expended. For these reasons, the Government cannot accept the amendment.
– I regret that the Minister has refused to accept the amendment. The Commonwealth Wool Adviser, undeniably, will be the key man on the Australian Wool Board, and I should say that he will be the best qualified man on the Wool Consultative Council mentioned later in the bill. Since 1936, the Australian Wool Board has had a good deal of experience in handling matters relating to wool publicity and research, as well as in the production of wool. I have no doubt that during that period it has made many contacts. Possibly, it is better equipped than is any other authority in Australia to know what type of man is best suited to undertake the duties of Commonwealth Wool Adviser. The Government could well be advised by it in the matter of an appointment to that position; but as the Minister has refused to accept the amendment, I trust that it will consult the members of the board before an appointment is made.
– Will the Minister agree to the suggestion of the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) that, in view of the importance of the position of Commonwealth Wool Adviser, before any such appointment is made the Government will at least consult with the” members of the Australian Wool Board with regard to it?
.- That suggestion will be considered, but I do not think the Government will agree to it. If the Government desired to make an alteration to that effect, an appropriate amendment could be moved in the Senate.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 - (1.) The Board shall consist of the Commonwealth Wool Adviser and six other members representative of Australian woolgrowers, who shall be appointed by the Governor-General and shall hold office for three yeans.
– I intend to propose an alteration of the number of members of the board to be nominated by the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council and the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation. In the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) on wool research, which was released to the press on the 1st November, 1944, the right honorable gentleman said -
To facilitate the development and application of the research programme, it is proposed to amend the Wool Publicity and Research Act, so that the membership of the Wool Hoard shall include -
Four members nominated by the Australian Wool Growers’ Council;
Two members nominated ‘by the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation;
The Wool Adviser to the Commonwealth Government.
I understand that that arrangement was agreed to in a letter jointly sent by the Chairman of the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council and the president of the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation. I also understand that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) were agreeable, when they received that letter, that t/ie board should be constituted as laid down in the Prime Minister’s statement. For some extraordinary reason, however, influence was exerted, and the basis of representation was completely altered. The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson), in his speech yesterday, drew attention to the number of members of the two organizations concerned, and to the number of sheep depastured by them, and he showed, I believe to the satisfaction of all honorable members, that the representation should be on the lines indicated by him. During my short parliamentary career I have had experience of the way in which large majorities work. As it seems impossible to induce the Minister to amend the bill with respect to the representation on the board, I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.), the word “six”, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ ten “.
Under the present proposal, with three representatives from each body, a position might arise in which some of the large wool-growing areas in Australia would be deprived of representation on the board. The Minister knows that over 50 per cent of the total number of sheep in Australia are in New South Wales, but there are also large flocks in Queensland, considerable flocks in Vietoria, and lesser numbers in South Australia and Western Australia. It might happen that the Australian Wool Producers^ Federation and the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council might elect members to the board from the three eastern States and leave the rest of Australia unrepresented. It would be infinitely fairer, and the cost involved would be negligible, to accept my proposed amendment. The members of the board would draw no fees other than the usual travelling and other allowances, and probably there would be only three or four meetings a year. Thus proper representation would be given to the wool industry throughout Australia.
Some of the health problems met with by sheep farmers in certain States are not the same as those which have to be solved in other States. Canary stain, for instance, is experienced in Western. Australia, but has not appeared in the other States, whilst foot-rot is far more virulent in Victoria than elsewhere.
– The Government cannot accept the amendment. The honorable member has raised an interesting argument to the effect that all of the States should be represented on the Australian Wool Board. In the 1936 act, which was brought into operation by a government supported by non-Labour parties, no provision was made for representation on the board on a State basis, and there is no more reason why the representation should be on that basis now than there was in 1936. The argument advanced is that the representation should cover a far wider field than is provided in this bill, but I point out that the representation that has obtained in the past is being continued under this measure. As to the number of members who have to be appointed to the board on the nomination of the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council and the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation, respectively, I understand that when the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) made his announcement with regard to the matter the representation was to be on such a basis that no amendment of the act would be required.
– The Prime Minister remarked that it was proposed to amend the Wool Publicity and Research Act.
– I am stating the position as far as I know it. I understand that when consideration was being given to the matter by the Department of Post-war Reconstruction and the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, it was stated that no alteration of the law would be needed, but, subsequently, it was decide’d that it would be wise to have equal representation from the two bodies’ mentioned. For that reason the Government intends to adhere to the provisions of the clause.
.- No convincing reasons have been advanced why the ratio of representation on the board should ‘be as is proposed. Is it not a fact that the Government received a letter from the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council stating that both the chairman of the council and the president of the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation had agreed to a ratio of four to two? I can say definitely that such a letter was sent, and we know that the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) himself announced the ratio of four to two. Subsequently, the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), at a conference, agreed that representation should be on the basis of four to two. Both the council and federation believed that the four to two ratio was fair. As I stated last night, the members of the associations which make up the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council own approximately half the sheep in the Commonwealth. The total number of sheep in Australia is about 125,000,000 and the members of the associations affiliated with the council own between 60,000,000 and 70,000,000 sheep. The members of the federation own nothing like that number.
– What facts can the honorable member produce to prove that Statement?
– It is for the honorable member to prove the contrary.
– No, it is the honorable member who is making the assertion. Let him prove his statement.
– There is more to this than meets the eye. In fact, there is something suspicious about it.
– The two bodies are being given equal representation.
– Yes, but they have unequal interests. If the Minister has in his possession figures capable of refuting my statement let him produce them. There must exist some reason for altering the ratio, apart from that given to the committee and the public. I refuse to be put off with the explanation offered. I am not so wedded to the alternative proposal put forward by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) - a ratio of five to five. If the Minister will not accept that proposal, I suggest that he should consider accepting an amendment that would increase the membership of the board to seven, four of whom would represent the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council and three the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation. If we are not given a satisfactory explanation for altering the ratio agreed upon in the first place, we can assume that some political reason exists for it.
.- The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) asks what is behind the proposal to alter the ratio of representation on the board. One might ask him what was behind his suggested amendment. He said that he was not prepared to prove that more wool-growers were represented by the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council than by the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation. Therefore, it would seem logical to give the two bodies equal representation on the board. Now, the honorable member asks the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) to accept an amendment giving a ratio of four to three.
– He did not ask me. He asked the Minister.
– We are entitled to ask what is the reason behind the proposal. We know that the council, which was the only body recognized by the 1936 act, was a partner of the Australian Country party.
– That is a lie.
– My statement is correct. There has been a legal divorce between the two bodies, but they are still living together. I come now to the letter which appeared over the joint signatures of the president of the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation and the chairman of the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council. The negotiations which led up to the signing of that letter started right back in June, 1943, and the agreement reached was on the basis of the old act. Under that provision, the council had complete control over the nomination of representatives. The federation had to go cap in hand to the council in order to obtain any representation at all. At first the council refused to negotiate, but suddenly it changed its policy. If I had been president of the federation I should have been suspicious of those who came offering gifts. Unfortunately, the president of the federation succumbed to the blandishments of the. council, and the letter was signed, but on the understanding that the existing act was to continue in operation.
– That is a lie.
– In the letter referred to these words occur : “ This will mean that there will not be any necessity to alter the present act”. Neither the honorable member for Deakin, nor the honorable member for New England, made any reference to that passage in the letter. The fact is that the signature of the president of the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation to that letter was obtained by a confidence trick. The day before the signature was affixed the council, which has all along played into the hands of the wool speculators and overseas traders, had its representative in Canberra. He discovered the facts and informed the council, which then obtained the signature of the president of the federation. This is what the president wrote in a letter to the chairman of the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council: -
With regard to proportional representation. The last paragraph of your letter expresses the hope that I will agree that the arrangement as made in June last should stand. I certainly do not agree.
The council’s share of any June arrangement was “ that the two chairmen should confer “. We subsequently conferred, when it was agreed we should meet the Minister and discuss the whole matter.
You will recollect that you were not then disposed to go to Canberra with me, but asked that I sign a joint letter concerning our representation on the terms of our June conference tn the council. This I did in all good faith.
Within 24 hours I learned, in Canberra, of proposals which completely altered all previous conceptions of the Wool Board activity. Conditions which required complete reconsideration of the situation. Had you been there on the spot I would certainly not have agreed then to the original proposals without further consultation with some of my members.
Had you known of the proposals contemplated, 1 pay you the compliment of believing that you would not have asked me to sign the letter prepared after much unnecessary delay.
When the president of the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation made that statement he was far too generous. If he had had as much experience as I have had of the representatives of the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council, he would not have paid that compliment to them.
.- I feel disposed to some criticism of this clause because it embodies a legislative and constitutional practice which, in my opinion, the committee should not endorse. I believe that the clause is unsound in that it ties the hands of the government of the day in the choice that it shall make of the representatives of what, after all, will be a government body. Although the clause as it stands provides that the Government shall appoint representatives to the board, it stipulates that those representatives shall be nominated, as to three of them, by the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council, and as to three others, by the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation.
– This is not the first time that that has been done.
– I accept the Minister’s interjection as a statement of fact. I have no doubt that he could say with truth that governments which I have supported have committed this error - an error I believe it to be. It is a departure from the solidly established principle that the Executive of the day shall be directly responsible for appointments to government offices. I have no criticism to offer of either of the bodies mentioned in the clause, nor do I desire to join in the controversy between those who have some direct acquaintance with either or both of them. For the purposes of my argument, I am prepared to assume that both bodies do valuable work and are truly representative of the interests that they seek to represent. The point of my criticism is that two bodies are to be empowered to nominate directly representatives to a government board without discretion on the part of the Government. I believe that to be an unsound principle; I say that regardless of the government in office, and whether or not. I support it. I believe that the practice is one which the Parliament should not endorse. The embodiment of that principle in the clause weakens the clause, and for that reason I have no enthusiasm for the amendment proposed by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott). 1. consider that the Parliament would -be wise so to amend the clause as to make it discretionary on the part of the Government whether or not the nominations shall be accepted. I do not deny that the Government should attach great weight to recommendations coming from bodies which are not only representative in themselves but also are representative of the people who, as has been pointed out by previous speakers, are contributing to funds which will be managed by the board. Whilst great weight should be attached to such recommendations, in my view a discretion should still remain with the Government as to whether or not those nominations should be accepted. Experience indicates that these two bodies may not be the only bodies which in the future will claim to be representative of those contributing to the fund. When the measure was first passed there was only one organization; now there are two, and in ten years’ time there may be three or four such bodies. Should that be so, the position will arise that, except by an amendment of the legislation involving considerable delay, other bodies which may be formed would not have an opportunity to be directly represented on the board. I express this criticism of the principle because I believe that, in respect of this and other clauses, the committee should adopt the view that the Government should retain a discretionary power in the matter of appointments.
.- The Minister might well postpone consideration of this clause until he has further examined it. I make that suggestion mainly because of a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) in November, 1944. Unfortunately, during recent months there has been a disposition to disregard statements and pledges made by the head of the Government.
– The Prime Minister has kept every pledge that he has made.
– In a statement released by the Prime Minister a few months ago the right honorable gentleman said -
My Government has been giving very close consideration to the question of wool research and publicity, and is convinced that this is a matter of great urgency if wool is to withstand the threat of alternative materials.
The right honorable gentleman then outlined the Government’s proposals. He referred to a proposed levy of 2s. a bale which, he said, would provide a fund of approximately £600,000. As to representation on the Australian Wool Board, I shall give to the committee the precise words of the Prime Minister, in which was embodied an undertaking which is now in process of being repudiated by his colleague at the table. The Prime Minister said -
To facilitate the development and application of the research programme, it is proposed to amend the Wool Publicity and Research Act so that the membership of the Wool Board shall include -
Four members nominated by the Australian Wool Growers Council;
Two members nominated by the Australian Wool Producers Federation;
The Wool Adviser to the Commonwealth Government.
The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) interjected a few minutes ago that the Prime Minister had honoured every pledge that he had made. I suggest that as the Prime Minister is not present in the chamber, the Minister would do well to defer further consideration of the clause, pending consultation with his colleague as to whether he meant what he said. I believe that he did. I should like to know the reasons for the change of front which has led to the introduction of the present proposal that instead of the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council having four representatives on the board its representation is to be reduced to three members, and that the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation shall have three representatives, instead of two as originally proposed. I shall not attempt to decide which is the superior body, but I do suggest that the word of the Prime Minister should be given due consideration when dealing with the proposal now before us. If we cannot accept a statement issued by the Prime Minister as recently as the 1st November, 1944, what ground will we have for accepting future statements emanating from the same source?
.- When the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) moved the amendment this committee was given an explanation by the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) of why the proposed constitution of the board had been altered. Unless I am very much mistaken, and I do not think I am, the Minister said that when the four to two ratio was agreed to there was no intention to amend the act. I said earlier that in November the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) had given an assurance that the two wool growers’ associations concerned would be represented on a ratio of four to two. Since then, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has given the committee the Prime Minister’s exact words definitely proving that when he made his statement amendments of the act were contemplated. The Minister must acknowledge that wittingly or unwittingly he did mislead the committee, or allow the Prime Minister to be placed in an embarrassing position, because undoubtedly, when he made that statement, the Prime Minister knew what was to happen. It is becoming a practice for the Prime Minister to make certain statements in public and for those statements a little later to have little or no meaning.
I now desire to answer the charge by the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon) that the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council is allied to the Australian Country party. The Australian Woolgrowers’ Council is a federal body incorporating different organizations in different States, one of them being the Graziers’ Association of Victoria, which is the association that represents in the main the wool-growers in Victoria. Whatever may be the position of a similar association in New .South Wales, the Graziers’ Association of Victoria has never been allied to any political party, and I am assured by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) that that is also true of the Graziers’ Association of South Australia. Therefore, the honorable member’s statement is untrue.
I return to my main theme, the misleading of the committee by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction in his statement that when the Prime Minister made his announcement of policy, amendments of the act were not contemplated. The honorable member for Richmond has shown conclusively that amendments were contemplated. But not only the Prime Minister is involved. The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) also made a statement on the subject of representation on the proposed board. What was said and agreed to by both has now been altered and the only explanation given by the Government is that which has been proved to be misleading. The Treasurer’s statement was to the effect that both organizations concerned had accepted the four to two ratio. We should now be told why the alteration was made. On the facts, as I see them, the alteration is unjustified. I think it i3 only fair that representation on the board should be proportionate to the amount of money contributed by the members of the two associations. My belief, backed with a fair knowledge of the industry, is that the greater part of the board’s funds will be contributed by graziers affiliated with the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council. If the Minister’s reply is satisfactory we will accept it, but if not we shall be justified in thinking that hidden influences are at work.
– The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has alleged that I endeavoured to mislead the committee and tried to prove that the Government was repudiating a pledge given by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin). Neither statement is true. The Prime Minister did not give any pledge ; he made a proposal. What he said in November was what the Government had in mind at that time, but subsequent examination of the position by the Government lead it to alter its proposals. That is all. It is not a matter of a pledge having been given by the Prime Minister, but a matter of the amendment of the proposals originally in the mind of the Government. The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) also said that I had mislead the committee. There is no basis for his statement. I repeat that when the agreement was entered into by the two bodies representing the woolgrowers it was understood that there would be no amendment of the act, and in the joint letter signed by the representatives of the two organizations this phrase appears -
Adoption of this proposal will avoid any necessity to amend the act.
So it is clear beyond, doubt that my statement is correct and that I did not in any way mislead the committee. It is clear from the correspondence that at that time no amendment was in view.
– What about the Prime Minister’s statement in November?
– The Prime Minister set out what the Government proposed to do at that particular time; but a subsequent examination of the quantities of wool produced by members of the respective organizations, as well as the membership of the respective organizations, convinced it that the most equitable arrangement would be to give equal representation to each of those bodies. The Government proposes to adhere to that arrangement.
– Two or three features of the clause deserve, although they will not receive, the most careful attention of the committee. The first is the point raised by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt). The right to decide who will be members of this board, which will administer large sums of public moneys, should always remain in the hands of the Executive, regardless of the party affiliations of the government of the day. We had an excellent example of the wisdom of that principle before the last election, when a proposal was made that a certain man should be elected to a certain board, and certain action was promised by a section of honorable members had he been so appointed. An occasion of that kind may arise again. No government, regardless of its party political affiliations, should put itself in the position of being told who shall be the representatives of certain interests in the administration of funds which are collected by statute. In the administration of contributions made voluntarily, it is the contributors’ job to decide who shall administer such funds. In this case, however, moneys will not only be levied from members of the Australian
Woolgrowers’ Council and the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation, but will also be collected from growers who are not members of either of those organizations. That is the important point. If every grower in Australia were a member of one or other of those organizations the case could be presented in a somewhat different light, although allowance would ~till have to be made for the point raised by the honorable member for Fawkner, namely, that the right to veto the decisions of a body of this kind should always remain in the hands of the Executive. The fact is that in each State some growers will not belong to either of these organizations.
Let us now examine the composition of the two organizations. The Australian Woolgrowers’ Council consists of organizations in each State and is representative mainly of the bigger growers of wool. On the other hand the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation has a political origin, and its origin is . comparatively recent. Indeed, the political origin . of that body is the reason why it is to be given equal representation with the council under this measure. I invite the Minister to contradict me on that point. The same set of circumstances will arise here as arose with respect to wheat not long ago when action was taken by the Government which will have the effect, of dividing the industry into two .sections. One section is composed of the p’ina.11 producers, who may be induced, by some means or other, to support the present Government and its policies ; and the other section consists of those whom the Government thinks are not likely to support its policies. The result of such action is clear to-day in the wheat industry. The moment the Government attempted and, to a certain degree, succeeded, in destroying the prosperity of the big grower, it destroyed the wheat stock? of Australia. I put this viewpoint as one who has been a small grower of wool, and will never be a big grower : The prosperity of the small woolgrowers of Australia depends largely upon the auction price brought for the big clips. That is the measuring rod ; and the moment the Government does anything to militate against the success and financial stability of the big grower, it will automatically destroy the prosperity of the small grower. Honorable members opposite have spoken more tosh on this subject than I have ever heard in this chamber previously. I might have replied to it, but for the fact that I have heard such statements so often. I repeatthat the moment the Government does anything to destroy the welfare of the big wool-grower, it will, as sure as night follows day, and as sure as a Government representative of this side of the chamber will follow it, destroy the stability of the small grower. Without the basis of price which is determined by the big clips, there will be no stability for the small grower. That fact must be recognized. Honorable members may rail as much as they wish against the shipper and the broker. The broker does not own 1 lb. of the wool he handles. He is interested only in obtaining the best possible price for his client.. Therefore, before this measure becomes law, I urge the Government to inquire into the percentages of the total wool clip produced by members of the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council on the one hand, and members of the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation on the other. Honorable members opposite, who are perfectly oneeyed in this matter, know in their hearts that if such an investigation is carried out. it will bc found that the proportion of production in relation to members of the respective organizations will very likely be in the ratio of five to one in favour of members of the council. The federation is a small potato, indeed, so far as actual production is concerned. However, I repeat that a large number of growers will not belong to either of these organizations; yet they are just as much entitled to have a. voice in the nomination of members of the board as are members of the. two organizations. Why has the Government departed from traditional Labour policy in this matter? When, as Minister for Commerce, I introduced a bill dealing with the wheat industry, honorable members opposite, who were then in Opposition, demanded that the growers’ representatives should bc elected by ballot. I did not agree with that view, because I had a strong suspicion that I could select a better board than the growers were capable of electing for that purpose. However, as this Government has seen fit to alter wheat legislation passed by the Menzies Government in order to provide for the election of growers’ representatives by ballot of the growers, why should not the members of the board to be set up under this measure be selected by ballot of the wool-growers? The Government should first find out the actual proportions of wool produced by members of these two organizations, and should! decide representation on that basisThere is a lot of truth in the old story of the man who could not sleep owing to the croaking of frogs in a pond, but when he drained the pond he found only two frogs in it, the point being that a small number can often create a great deal of noise. I repeat that the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation had its origin in politics. An incident in this chamber yesterday showed just how far this Government is prepared to go when matters of party politics are involved. However, I shall deal with that matter at the appropriate time. The point made by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) and the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) must also be considered. Unless the Prime Minister and one or two senior Ministers can make statements on which the Government can rely like the Rock of Gibraltar or the Rock of Ages, many people in addition to the Sydney Morning Herald will be flogging their own joss. As members of the Opposition, we are entitled to expect from senior Ministers statements which can be relied upon as containing something in the region of 22 carats of gold, and not 22 carats of dross.
– ‘Some 47 years ago, a gentleman known as Paul Cinquevalli appeared in the records of the Tivoli circuit. He was the greatest conjuror, juggler and master of deception that this country has ever seen. Until to-day, I have never seen anybody to compare with Cinquevalli. But when I heard the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) explain why the Government had departed from the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) on wool research, released to the press on the 1st November, 1944, I considered that the Minister was the heir at law and lineal descendant of that great conjuror and juggler. The Minister declared that this system of representation had been arranged, because it was considered to be the most suitable one. Then the Minister was reminded that, as late as the 1st November, 1944, the Prime Minister, not in a statement dashed off in haste as a sort of witty week-end effort, but in a considered announcement to the press said -
It was “ my Government “, not the “ Prime Minister “ or the “ Minister for Post-war Reconstruction “ -
My Government has been giving very close consideration to the question of wool research.
He proceeded -
It is the intention that the research work should be devoted under three heads. To facilitate the development and application of the research programme, it is proposed to amend the Wool Publicity and Research Act
The Minister explained that circumstances had since arisen to compel the Prime Minister and the Government to alter their decision. The gallant member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon), diving from the deck of the sinking ship, swam to the rescue of the honorable gentleman, who had abandoned the craft, and explained that this letter did not mean what it stated. I regret that the honorable member spoke about Mr. Hitchins in the manner in which he did, because I have always found Mr. Hitchins perfectly willing to co-operate, and not a gentleman lacking in brains or common sense. He is not the type who signs documents without reading their contents. But the honorable member led the committee to believe that this arrangement had been made in June, 1943, and that, at that time, the Government had no intention of amending the act. I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction to tell me the date of the letter which was signed by Mr. Cowdery and Mr. Hitchins, chairman and president respectively of the two bodies, and from which he quoted. The Minister is, curiously, a most adaptable man. Although his hearing has never been at fault before, he became stone deaf on this occasion, and appeared not to hear my request. “When I raised my voice above normal in order to allow him to hear, I was called to order. I now ask the Minister to tell me the date of the letter?
– There is no harm in asking.
– I ask you, Mr. Chairman, to convey my request to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, if he is unable to hear me.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Riordan).The Chair cannot convey the honorable member’s request to the Minister.
– Then I shall convey it to the Minister directly. Is the Minister prepared to give me the information? Will it make his case worse than it is at present? Is the Minister afraid that when the date is announced, it will show that the whole of his explanations are a tissue of falsehoods? The Minister is as variable as the renowned Cinquevalli himself, and Cinquevalli, with a twist of the wrist, could turn cannon balls into canaries. The Minister is shifting his ground, and is altering the meaning of words. He stated that an examination disclosed that the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council and the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation probably produced equal quantities of wool. The Minister was most unfair to his colleagues, because in Hansard of the 5th April last, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) was asked the following questions by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) : -
The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture gave the following replies : -
Fifteen thousand and five members: aggregate number de-pastured by such members being 60,300,000 sheep, not including one affiliated association whose figures are considerable but unspecified.
As those figures were supplied by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction will agree that they are correct. Those figures show that this extraordinarily able man, who has the destiny of Australia’s post-war rehabilitation in his hands, has proved-
– Is he not a potential Prime Minister?
– I require no assistance. This gentleman has, in his own way, just as he proved this morning that houses, which he proposed to erect under a certain regulation, would have to be pulled down like a blind-
– Order ! There are too many interjections. The honorable member for New England is addressing the chamber.
– This afternoon the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction made the extraordinary statement that representation on the proposed board was determined after an estimation of the quantity of wool produced by the sheep owned by members of both organizations: On the figures of the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation itself - I do not know whether they are right or wrong - members of that organization possess 39,000,000 sheep as against 60,000,000- odd owned by the other organization.
– What is the date of the Hansard report from which the honorable member is quoting?
– The 5th April, 1945. The argument apparently is that the 39,000,000 sheep owned by members of the federation - as members of the federation are presumed to be small holders, these sheep would be mainly cross-bred types - cut as much wool as the 60,000,000-odd sheep owned by members of the council. That means, of course, that the sheep owned by members of the federation cut nearly twice as much wool as those owned by holders of Australia’s biggest flocks and by other breeders who are members of the council. The evidence shows clearly that the statements of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and of the honorable member for Forrest are nothing but a tissue of falsehoods from beginning to end. I also inform the Minister for his education that the Queensland Selectors Association in a letter published in its journal some time ago, admitted that it did not have figures of the sheep owned by its members. I say that the Minister, in common decency and to protect his Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) should postpone the consideration of this clause for the time ‘being, and make a further examination of the whole question raised here to-day. He should realize that this would be the best course in the long run.
.- The committee is faced with one of the most extraordinary positions that I have ever seen develop in the Parliament. The honorable mem!ber for New England (Mr. Abbott) proposes that the number of growers’ representatives on the board should be increased to five from each organization. He has made that proposal for a definite reason, namely, to ensure that every State with a substantial sheep population shall have some representation. That is the honorable member’s sole aim. He does not seek to reduce the representation of any organization, but merely desires to make certain that wool-growers all over Australia who will be called upon to contribute this money shall be assured of some voice in its expenditure. Next to the proposition advanced by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) that all members should be elected by the votes of wool-growers direct, that is as fair a proposition as could be put before this committee, but the Government is resisting it, and for the most extraordinary reason: When asked to advance some worthwhile justification for its action, its spokesman, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), quoted a letter, but he did not quote it in full. I have always understood that any document quoted in the course of a debate may in certain circumstances become the property of the chamber. I cannot understand any public document being dateless. Surely. unless a letter bears a date and a. signature it cannot be regarded as a bona, fide document. It would be a travesty of parliamentary procedure if we were to pea-mit speakers in this chamber to read letters without stating the date on which they were written.
The extraordinary position which has arisen to-day is this : The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), because of the importance of this subject, issued a very fine brochure to the people of Australia. That brochure has been circulated as a public paper to each member of this Parliament. It states that the Government proposes that there shall be four representatives of one organization of wool-growers, and two of another organization on the proposed board. I do not wish at the moment to argue the question of bow many representatives each organization should have, but that definite statement was made to the people of Australia by the Prime Minister; yet now we find that the plan nas been changed entirely, and, so far h« 1 am aware, the only explanation that has been given is that the original proposal was put up solely to obviate the introduction of amending legislation. What a thin excuse that is. I point out that six is the total number of grower representatives provided for in this clause. Surely, that provision could have been made as effectively by executive action, by agreement, or in some other way. There is no reason why a bill should be brought down to alter the representation, because actually the total number of representatives is not to be altered at all. Some valid reason for the alteration must he given. This volte face by the Prime Minister is most extraordinary. However, we are not arguing that matter at present. We contend that foi” the proper administration of the money to be raised by this measure there should be adequate representation of each State. If each organization is to be represented by only three members, there will be a great danger of not having a properly balanced board. Therefore I cannot understand why the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction is not willing to accept the amendment of the honorable member for New England. The acceptance of the amendment would not involve much additional expense. and, in any case, the cost would be insignificant if the adoption of the proposals were to bring about harmony in the industry and in this committee. I believe this to be a good ship, but we must set it on the right course, and I hope that the Minister will be prepared to give further consideration to this matter. Acceptance of the proposal of the honorable member for New England would not be in any way detrimental to the smaller organization of wool-growers, but, on the other hand, would ensure that every part of the Commonwealth would have a voice in the administration of the fund.
– I would not have spoken in this debate had it not been for the extraordinary defence put up by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), who claimed to have proved conclusively that at the time the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) made his statement there was no thought of amending this bill. The Minister did not convince any one, not even himself, because the following is an extract from the document issued by the Prime Minister : -
My Government has been giving very close consideration to the question of woo] research and publicity, and is convinced this is a matter of great urgency if wool is to withstand the threat of alternative materials. It has decided, therefore, to ask the wool-growers to make a contribution of 2s. per bale for the purpose, and this will be subsidized by the Government to an equal amount. Thus about £600,000 per annum would bc provided for research and publicity for the wool industry. The proposal is that the Wool Tax Act should be amended to raise the present levy on wool of fid. per bale to a sum equal to that to be provided by the Government, namely 2s. per bale.
– What date is that?
– The 1st November, 1944. I am pleased to give the date because I have a vague suspicion that this alteration of policy occurred after the annual conference of the Wheat and Wool Growers Association in Victoria, at which it decided to support the Government’s proposals for the nationalization of banking. This explains in full that masterly silence of the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman). It is the real reason why greater representation is to be given to a body which has declared itself to be of the same political mind as the Government. That fact cannot be successfully denied. No reason has been given by the Government for this proposed increased representation. Only recently the Prime Minister complained in this House that members of the Opposition were not prepared to trust bini. At that time, I interjected, “ We have more trust in you than members of your own party “. Is it to be wondered at that our confidence in him is being sapped when authoritative statements by him are contradicted by other senior Ministers? This is not” the first time that that has happened; it has happened time and again. It is not surprising that honorable gentlemen on this side of . the committee are becoming increasingly suspicious of the Government’s intentions when a Minister refuses to give the date of a letter which he quotes in an endeavour to bolster a bad argument.
.- I urge the Minister not to be adamant but to defer consideration of this matter until such time as it can be fully discussed with the Prime Minister. I have great respect for the Prime Minister. The declining prestige of the right honorable gentleman is due not to the actions of his political opponents but to the repudiation of his promises by members of his own political party. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, in repudiating the Prime Minister’s statement, said tha* the right, honorable gentleman made his declaration some time ago and that it was not a pledge. What could be more authoritative than a pamphlet issued by rho chairman of the Secondary Industries Commission, Mr. Jensen? The pamphlet was in fact sponsored by the Commonwealth Government. It assured the wool-growers of Australia that amending legislation along certain lines would be enacted. I shall not discuss the merits of the conflict between the Australian Wool-growers’ Council and the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation, although a great deal could be said about it. The honour of the Prime Minister is at stake. If we cannot accept his statements, and if he is to bc apologized for by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, who gives the excuse that the position has changed in the last two or three months, no statement made by the Prime Minister in future can be regarded with confidence. 1 am not familiar with the circumstances of the case, but probably a number of the decisions of the Australian Wool-growers’ Council were influenced by promises made by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer. The council was obliged to accept assurances from the head of the Government at their face value, and there is no doubt that, in agreeing to a proposal to levy upon the wool industry £360,000 a year, it must have been influenced by the undertakings given by the Prime Minister and two senior members of the Government. Therefore, I urge that the Minister should defer the matter in common fairness to his leader, if to nobody else. By repudiating his statements, members of the Government party are taking the surest way to send the Prime Minister headlong into the abyss of political oblivion.
– The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) hit the nail on the head. He quoted a definite undertaking by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) that the Australian Wool Board would consist of four members nominated by the Australian Wool-growers’ Council and two nominated by the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation. Although that statement was made by the Prime Minister on the 1st November, 1944, the document from which the honorable member for Corangamite quoted was not. officially presented in Parliament until it met on the 21st February, 1945. So far as this Parliament is concerned, the document is less than two months old. Since then the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation met in Victoria and agreed to support the Government’s banking proposals. Another matter that requires investigation was mentioned by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott). The figures which he quoted as being supplied by the. Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) astounded mc. The estimate given to the Minister by the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation will be proved to be hopelessly wrong if it is ever investigated by an impartial authority. I doubt very much whether 2 per cent, of the small growers in South Australia belong to the federation. I have asked the Wheat Growers Federation in South Australia to produce its records of membership in order to show how many growers belong to the organization. That federation is not representative of more than 10 per cent, of wheat-growers in that State. Persons form an association, hold a meeting, and then tell the Government that it represents the small producers and makes demands on government funds. The Government accedes to the demands of any organization that represents anybody but the “ tall poppies”. If the Government insists on having grower representation on the Australian Wool Board, that representation ought to consist of members elected by the growers themselves. That is the only just and honest basis of representation. I do not approve such representation on the board, but I remind the Government that it has amended other legislation enacted by previous governments in order to provide for elective representation on such bodies. If these associations are as good as we are led to believe they are, there is nothing wrong with the members of them electing their board in the same way as the Government says the wheat-growers shall elect their board. It is interesting to me to hear these great apostles of democracy and the right of the individual saying every now and again, when it suits them politically, “ We will draw them out of a hat “, quite oblivious of whether a rabbit, a hare or a monkey emerges. In this instance, they undertake in advance to accept whatever comes out of the hat - a rabbit, a hare, or a monkey. The whole of this clause is utterly inconsistent; it smells. The Minister, who has been written up as a possible Prime Minister, ought to be very much more careful than he has been this afternoon; otherwise, I am afraid that his reign might be a very short one - like that of Anne Boleyn. The honorable gentleman has a majority behind him at present. In eighteen months’ time, he will not have it.
– How does the honorable member know that?
– The people of Australia would not make the same mistake twice. The circumstances look very well at the moment. But the Government is building up a reputation for the repudiation of promises, or worse - for ministerial and prime ministerial statements which do not mean what they say. I put it with very great respect to the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) and the Minister in charge of the bill, that that is not a reputation which any Australian government ought to treasure, and it is not one which Ministers ought to try to provide for themselves. There is something more in politics than the sort of stuff we have been treated to this afternoon. I trust that this will be the last occasion on which we shall witness the twisting of words, the splitting of straws, the refusal to give the date of a letter. If the contents of the letter are worth reading, surely the date could be given - unless it be similar to one that I have received from a Minister during the last few days : so far as the date is concerned, it is a clean skin; it might have been written in the Christian era, or before. It has the signature of a Minister of State at the bottom, but no date on the top of it. It is time that the Government recognized that matters of this description are not party politics, or at any rate should not be. But under the system by which the party ‘behind the Government is run, no member of it Ls free to express his opinion in this chamber. If the Constitution is to be amended, the amendment ought to be in the direction of making it incompetent for any member to hold his place if he has signed a party platform, and does not pledge himself to say what he thinks in this place.
.- The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) said that I had made derogatory remarks in regard to Mr. Hitchins, the president of the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation - for whom, he claimed, he had a very high regard. The honorable gentleman went on to say that my statements were facetious. The sentence that I read had been made by no other than the president of the federation, for whom the honorable member has such a high regard.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) congratulated the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) upon having “ hit the nail on the head “ in regard to the assumed political set-up in this clause. Who was responsible for the birth of the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation? No other body than the Primary Producers Association of Western Australia, which was officially connected with the Country party of that State, a body which is part and parcel of the Australian Country party, and was then known as the United Australia party.
– That is incorrect.
– It is not incorrect.
– The Australian Country party was never part and parcel of the United Australia party. I have been a member of both parties, so I ought to know. That is an experience which I share with the honorable member.
– It is something which the honorable gentleman cannot share with me. I defy him to prove the correctness of that statement. When I said United Australia party I meant United Country party. Furthermore, when the Primary Producers Association of Western Australia made the move to form this new organization, the first body which it contacted was the Farmers and Settlers Association of New South Wales - which, up to very recently, also was associated with the Australian Country party. So I fail to see the logic of these two gentlemen in claiming that the federation to which the Government is endeavouring to give equal representation with that of the council can have any political “ tie-up “ with the Labour party.
.- I appeal to the Minister to report progress at this stage. Matters which I wish to raise should not be settled off-hand. This clause deals with the nomination of members of the Australian Wool Board. The provision is one of the most extraordinary that has ever been presented to this Parliament. It says that certain members shall be appointed on the nomination of the organization known as the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council, and that others shall be appointed on the nomination of the organization known as the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation. Does that mean the executives of the associations? If not, what does it mean? Does it mean a free vote of the whole of the members of the federation, or that the governing body of the federation shall make the nomination? Surely the federation must have some executive character which enables it to function! The clause further provides that the Minister may, on the recommendation of the board, appoint one of the members to be the chairman of the board. It then deals with a casual vacancy, and goes on to say that the powers and functions conferred on the board by the act shall not be affected by reason only of there being a vacancy in the membership of the board. What does that mean ? Does it mean that the board will not be able to function if there is only one vacancy, or that it can function if several members have not been nominated or are not available? The most extraordinary sub-clause is the last, which states that the appointment of any person as a member of the board shall not be questioned on the ground that there was any defect in the nomination of that person. Nothing in the bill lays down rules regarding nominations, and it will be impossible for anybody to discover whether there has been any defect in a nomination. The only principles by which we may be guided in that respect areRafferty’s rules. If a large wool organization is to be developed it should be founded on sound lines, and on legislative provisions which have some meaning and effect. As the bill contains nothing to show how there could be a defect in a nomination, are we to be guided by the rules of the Australian Woolgrowers’ Council or the Australian Wool Producers’ Federation? We should not be asked to pass this bill hurriedly. In order that it may be dealt with satisfactorily, I suggest the adjournment of the discussion.
– by leave - I desire to refer to the debate which took place on the 16th March, 1945, on the motion of the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) on the subject of compensation for property impressed by the Allied Works Council. The following statement sets out the procedure in respect of compensation, the rights of claimants and the constitution of the boards, together with some observations on the methods and principles of valuation adopted by the courts, and a return relating to impressments and compensation. With the consent of honorable members I shall incorporate the statement in Hansard.
In giving consideration to the matter of the impressment of property and the procedure relating to compensation, the attention of honorable members is invited to the provisions of the National Security (General) Regulations - particularly regulation 57 as amended, and regulations 60b and 60m, excluding 60h thereof, and the National Security (Allied Works) Regulations, as amended to date by Statutory Rule No. 16 of 1945.
Under the abovementioned regulations, property has been impressed by the Director-General of Allied Works or his delegates either under the Requisition of Earth-moving Plant Order of 1942, by virtue of authority under regulation 57 of the National Security (General) Regulations, or under the general power given in regulation 6 of the National Security (Allied Works) Regulations.
Where agreement has now been reached between the owner of the property acquired and the impressing authority on the amount of compensation to be paid, including the actual value of the property at the time of impressment, the owner may, in accordance with National Security (General) Regulations 60d, submit a claim to the Minister, who will either admit the claim wholly or in part or reject it. If the claimant is not satisfied he may then request the claim to be referred by the Minister to a compensation board - vide regulation 60s. All cases received by the Minister are referred to the Allied Works Council for advice beforehand. This procedure applies to all claims whether the impressment has been made under the National Security (General) Regulations or National Security (Allied Works) Regulations.
Compensation Boards were appointed - vide Commonwealth Gazettes No. 47 of the8th March, 1944, and No. 72 of the 13th April, 1944 - as shown hereunder : -
Percy Gordon Knyvett, stipendiary magistrate.
William Henry Carter, public accountant.
George Ernest Green, managing director.
Donald McGaw Addison, police magistrate.
William Mable Scott, chartered accountant.
Arthur Robert Morris, general manager.
The appointments of these boards were notified twice in the daily press of each State.
When a claim has been referred by the Minister to the appropriate board, the chairman notifies the claimant and the Minister of the place and date of hearing. Steps are taken by the Allied Works Council to advise the Deputy Director-General of Allied Works or Works Director in the State concerned of the time and place so that he may arrange with the Deputy Crown Solicitor for legal representation of the Commonwealth at the hearing.
The hearing of the claim by the Compensation Board is similar to the hearing of claims before a court, but special procedural rules, namely National Security (Compensation Boards) Rules, apply. They are contained in volume 2 of the Manual of National Security Legislation, 5th edition, on page 1344. It will be noted that rule 10 states that the board is not bound by any rules of evidence, and that rule 8 provides that, apart from witnesses’ fees, no costs are awarded by a board. The Crown may pay witnesses’ fees of both parties, if allowed by the board, and, of course, it pays the fees and travelling expenses of the board.
The chairman of the board notifies the parties of the amount of compensation assessed, and either party may appeal therefrom - vide National Security (General) Regulation 60g - to a court within one month after receiving the assessment.
After the delivery of property by the owner in accordance with the notice of acquisition, a valuation is made by an expert and the owner advised. The owner is also requested to make a statutory declaration of ownership with details of the interests, if any, of other persons in the property, such as liens, hire purchase agreements, &c. If the owner accepts the valuation, he is paid forthwith. If he does not accept, a departmental valuation review committee will review the valuation and may increase it. If no agreement is reached with the owner, the procedure set out above in paragraph 3 follows.
The method of valuation adopted was based on the recommendations of an independent Central Advisory Panel of Accountants, which was appointed by the Government to advise all service departments on a uniform system. A conference was held in November, 1942, between members of this panel and representatives of the Allied Works Council, the Army, Country Roads Board, State Rivers and Water Supply Commission, the Crown Solicitor, and a firm of engineers and a firm of auctioneers.
Broadly, the principle was to pay for the remaining life of the plaint impressed - allowing for depreciation and taking into account the condition of the plant and adding the residual value, if any. No allowance was made for compensation for any consequential losses, such as loss of profits or disturbance of business.
Before determining the amount of compensation, a board hears expert evidence and applies the relevant decisions of the courts as to any factors which may affect the value to the owner of the property at the date of impressment.
Broadly stated, the essential principle is that just compensation is the value of the property which would be reached by negotiation between a reasonably willing seller and a willing and prudent buyer.
Recent High Court decisions which have enunciated this principle are -
Minister of State for the Army v. Dalziell-1944 A.L.R. S9.
James Patrick and Company v. Minister of State for the Navy - 1944 A.L.R. 249.
Government of Queensland v. Minister of State for the Navy - (Unreported) 1944.
In applying this principle, the factor of scarcity resulting in an increase in second-hand values, and the factor of the profit-earning capacity of the plant, may raise the value of the plant.
Claimants, however, have not succeeded in their claims for additional compensation apart from the abovementioned factors which become items of valuation.
A statement was made in the House of Representatives that no compensation was provided for in the regulations if action were taken under Statutory Rule 161 of 1944 to revoke a requisition order. An order of revocation is made only where impressed plant has not already been paid for. By virtue of regulation 60d of the National Security (General) Regulations, applied by regulation 6a of the National Security (Allied Works) Regulations, there arises a right in the owner to claim compensation for any loss or damage suffered by reason of anything done pursuant to the regulations relating to the requisitioning of property. This loss may be met usually by an agreement to pay a hiring rate for the period the property was in the possession of the Commonwealth. If not satisfied, the owner has the same rights as if the requisition had not been revoked.
The return shown hereunder indicates the number of claimants who have followed the procedure provided by the regulations when agreement could not be reached with the impressing authority, and the final results of those cases which were determined by compensation boards. The statement shows that since the establishment of the Allied Works Council there have been 3.307 impressments for which the departmental valuation was £1,141,175. The number of dissatisfied claimants has been relatively few and of these, fewer still have availed themselves of the rights of submitting claims to the independent compensation boards, and in no instance has a claimant appealed from the assessment made by such compensation board, although the awards have been usually of an amount little, if any, above the original departmental valuation -
Total number of impressments - 3,307.
Departmental valuations - £1,141,175.
Total amount of claims - £14,070.
Total amount offered by Allied Works Council £7,287.
Total awarded by board - £7,804.
Note. - This statement does not take into account complaints by owners of impressment plant who did not make a claim in the form prescribed by the regulations. A number of cases have been settled by Head Office which were not originally referred to the Minister.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- The time has arrived when, because of the improvement in the war situation, atten tion might be devoted in Australia, as in Great Britain and the United States of America, to some aspects of our internal economy, so that in the early postwar years we shall cater for sections of the community whose interests have been neglected during the war period. I now intend to refer particularly to the tourist industry. It is not within the province of the Commonwealth Parliament to take action with respect to the tourist traffic as such, except with regard to the Australian Capital Territory. This Parliament is responsible for the control of Canberra and the Commonwealth territory surrounding it, and I believe that the government of the day should avail itself of every opportunity to make the best use of the national capital and of the territory under the control of this Parliament. The scenic attractions of this territory are so great that it should be developed as a tourist centre. Efforts should be made to induce people from all parts of the civilized world to visit the National Capital. Under the regime of the present Government we may hope that steps will be taken in the direction of increasing the attractiveness of the Australian Capital Territory and taking practical steps to attract tourists and make provision for their accommodation. The Forestry Branch, under the able management of Mr. Lane Poole, has done good work in this territory in the direction of afforestation. I draw attention to the fact that the Australian Alps, rising in the north-western corner of the territory and forming its western boundary, offer excellent scope for the establishment of a national park. The oldest ski-ing club in the southern hemisphere has held gatherings in that area, and I am advised by people who visit it frequently that it is capable of being made much more attractive than it is at present. Mr. Nelson Johnson, who until recently was Minister in Australia for the United States of America, informed me that the area was capable of great development as a tourist resort, and was as attractive as any country he had seen. Canberra is the natural starting point for those who visit the Australian Alps, and an extension of the already good network of bush-fire control roads is worthy of consideration. The Government of New South Wales already has plans for the establishment of chains of youth hostels and camps along the Great Dividing Range, and it is hoped that the Canberra Administration will take advantage of the opportunity to share in such a scheme so as to provide recreational facilities for the people. Besides the development of roads, youth hostels should be provided to meet the requirements of the largo number of young Australians who are already showing keen interest in the capital, and in the country about it.
It is true that a great deal of interest was shown in this work until war interrupted activities. Reference to the firecontrol roads already in existence reminds me that it is fitting that a compliment should be paid to the local forestry administration in the Australian
Capital Territory. It has provided an object lesson to the rest of Australia in the cave of native forest land, the extension of soft-wood planting on thinly timbered land, and the organization of bush-firecontrol. By the application of a wise timber policy over a period of years, the forestry organization has greatly reduced soil erosion; there has not been any serious loss from bushfires originating in the territory; and although the softwood plantations have not yet reached maturity, already millions of feet of timber have been milled forbox-making, building, and other essential uses.
After the war, the tourist industry will assume greater importance for Australia, and wo should not be backward in providing for the recreation of our own people, and for that of visitors who come to Australia. Other countries have been mindful of the fact that international opinion can be influenced through the impressions of the tourist. It is fitting, therefore, that Canberra should rank high as a tourist centre in Australia, as does Washington in the United States of America. Recently, I had an opportunity to see something of the tourist attractions in both Canada and the United States of America. I was able to study the way the authorities there handle the tourist traffic in such places as Banff, in the Canadian Rockies, at the home of a former President of the United States, George Washington, at Mount Vernon, and also at Valley Forge. No effort has been spared to make those places attractive to the tourist.
The National Parliament has a responsibility to develop areas so close to Canberra. Many thousands of Australian servicemen and, servicewomen have developed an interest in Canberra as the custodian of the traditions theyare themselves establishing, and they are without the predisposed antagonisms which sometimes warped the attitude of their parents to the capital of Australia. Therefore, post-war plans for the development of Canberra should provide, not only for the administrative and residential requirements of the city, but also for the convenience of Australian citizens who desire to visit their capital, and to take advantage of the recreational possibilities of the surrounding country.
Other advantages will appear from an extension of highways through the Australian Alps. The splendid fruitgrowing districts around Tumut, Batlow and Tumbarumba will be provided with another outlet for their products, and the route between Canberra and Melbourne will be shortened.
As most honorable members are aware,
I have for a long time been keenly interested in the development of Canberra. These proposals go further than anything which I have hitherto advocated, but I believe that we should give them consideration as part of our plans for post-war development. It is our responsibility to develop the tourist traffic to Canberra and surrounding districts. If it is necessary to seek the co-operation of the Government of New South Wales, let us do so. The tourist traffic is important to us because it will bring to the country a great deal of money. Other countries have for long recognized the wisdom of encouraging the visits of tourists, and they do everything possible to provide facilities. I trust that the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) will examine the suggestions which I have offered. I hope that they will also be examined by engineers and experts so that, soon after the war, plans may be ready, and the necessary work undertaken.
. -I desire to quote a latter which bears a. date, and another one which does not bear any date, but which I received on the 15th April. They both deal with the same subject; they are both signed by Ministers, but their purport is entirely different. I had asked that facilities should be provided for the repair of the motor car belonging to Mr. R. C. Ward, solicitor, of Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory, as no other provision existed for doing such work. There is only one solicitor in the Northern Territory, and he needs a car in order to visit his clients. I received the following letter from the Minister for Works (Mr. Lazzarini) : -
I refer to your representations on behalf of Mr.R.C. Ward, solicitor, of Alice Springs, Northern Territory, concerning the refusal of my Department to effect certain repairs to li is cnr.
The position is that my Department docs not in the usual course undertake repairs or execute work required by private persons. However, in view of the lack of facilities existing in the Northern Territory, an arrangement has been in force for some time past under which my Department executes work of a private nature if His Honour, the Administrator for the Northern Territory, considers that the work in question is of a national character. Typical illustrations of this class of work would be that required for mining, mineral and food production purposes.
The correct procedure in this instance is for Mr. Ward to make application to the Administrator for the execution of the work required, and if His Honour is prepared to sponsor the application to my Department, bliu.ii every consideration will be given to the matter.
From tha Acting Minister for the Army f received, the following letter, dated the 10th April, 1945:-
L refer to my communication of 27th March, 1845, in answer to your representations of 20th February, 11145, on behalf of Mrs. Nudl, of ib Clarke Street, Hamilton, Victoria, who expressed the desire that permission be granted for her to return with her family to Northern Territory.
Mrs. Nudl’s case was referred to the Administrator of the Northern Territory, who has reported that no opportunities exist for a garage proprietor in the southern portion of the Northern Territory. The Administrator has also reported that there arc at least two motor engineers in Alice Springs and that Mr. Nudl would experience difficulty in making a living under present conditions.
In these circumstances it is regretted that permission cannot be granted for Mrs. Nud
Mid family to return to Northern Territory at present.
When I was in the Northern Territory last October, I was told then that anything that a. person wanted had to come through the Allied. Works Council. Before long, I hope to have some accounts- showing the cost of worksundertaken by that body, and I shall ask the Government to attempt to justify the charges. In some instances I believe that the charges for repairs exceeded the original cost of the implements. I should like an explanation of such contradictory letters regarding repair facilities at Alice Springs.
.- One disadvantage that honorable members in this chamber experience is that they are unable to place directly before the
Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) matters associated with his department. I therefore hope that the Minister at the table will bring to the notice, of his colleague the matters which I now propose to place before him, because, in my opinion, they call for a full explanation and are of sufficient importance to justify further action on the part of the Opposition should an adequate explanation not be forthcoming. I shall refer, first, to a course of conduct which has come to my notice from two sets of correspondents in Victoria. Businessmen in charge of large undertakings have told me that they have attempted to import from Great Britain certain goods which are freely available there, and in respect of which no embargo existed before the war other than the tariff provisions which this Parliament adopted. My correspondents say that the Division of Import Procurement has advised them that the local manufacture of such goods is adequate to meet their requirements. There is room for doubt as to the accuracy of that statement; but, apart from that question, the facts presented by my correspondents, if correct, indicate that a virtual embargo is being imposed by officials of the Department of Import Procurement on the importation of goods from Great Britain. I desire to know what authority had been given by the Parliament, or the Government, for that course of action. Australia has a well-defined tariff policy, but, so far as I know, the Parliament has not consented to an overriding power being given to the Department of Import Procurement to impose trade embargoes on the importation of goods which are available at lower prices from British manufacturers. I ask for a full explanation of this matter, because it seems that action is being taken behind the back of Parliament and without the authority of Parliament. What I have mentioned is an illustration of what can happen under the bureaucratic form of control that exists, when the Parliament hands over powers to the Executive, and the Executive, in turn, passes on those powers to a body which, in the sense that it is not responsible directly to the Parliament, is an irresponsible element in the community.
I now turn to answers which were furnished to me by the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs in reply to questions relating to the importation of tinned plate into this country. On the 1st .March I asked a number of questions, the first, of which was - ls it a fact that all importations of tinplate must now be made through the agency of the Division of Import Procurement?
To that question an affirmative answer was given. I also asked - ls it a fact that approximately 120,000 tons of tin-plate are imported per annum from the United States of America by the division ?
In reply, I was told -
One hundred and twenty thousand one hundred and thirty-four tons were imported during the calendar year 1944.
Another question was -
Is a charge of £10 a ton added to the landed cost by the division when making this tin plate available to manufacturers?
To that question the answer was “ No “. Then followed a lengthy explanation as to why certain charges had been added to the cost and passed on to the importers. I also asked -
Are British manufacturers able to supply tin-plate to Australia, and, if so, at what post per ton ?
The reply to that question was -
Recent information has been received that British manufacturers are interesting themselves in export markets but no information is available as to current prices, nor is information available as to specification or suitability. ft will be noted that although substantial quantities of tinned plate were imported from the United States of America there were no importations from Great Britain. I. draw attention to the Minister’s statement that information as to the ability of British manufacturers to supply this material and as to current prices was not available, and that no information was availa!ble as to specification or suitability of British plate. The information which I have from persons who are connected directly with the use of tinned plate is that current prices of British plate are published in weekly journals which are sent to Australia regularly, and that the latest information can be obtained within a few hours by cablegram. The present price of British tinned plate is 30s. 9d. per basis box f.o.ib. English currency. The equivalent landed cost in Australia would certainly not exceed £49 a ton. in Australian currency, whereas the cost of tinned plate from the United States of America is not less than £55 a ton in Australian currency. I am informed that for a big order English manufacturers could probably supply at a still more favorable price, and that word had recently been received from a British manufacturer that 1,000 tons of this material would be available for shipment in April, and that no difficulty in obtaining an export permit from the British Government was anticipated. That shows how hollow is the statement of the Division of Import Procurement that it cannot obtain information as to whether tinned plate made by British manufacturers is available, and that no information is available as to specification or suitability. In communications which I have received it is pointed out that the specification and suitability of British tinned plate has always been at least equal to the American product. Results of tests made by one large consumer are available in Australia; they indicate that the British tinned plate is superior to the American. It is also worth mentioning that ‘the British product has been used for packing foodstuffs for service requirements throughout the war period in Canada and Great Britain, and was used before the war in Australia. It is incredible to me that, there should be any real question in the mind of the division as to the suitability of British tinned plate for Australian use. Men in the trade claim that British manufacturers were always willing to supply the plate in sizes and with the grain running in the direction required by the Australian manufacturer according to the specification pf the buyer. They say that it is not possible to obtain American tinned plate to buyer’s specification with the grain running in the direction required, in fact, that the American tinned plate now coming forward is manufactured at six or more different plants and varies considerably in quality. They also claim that the sizes available cut to a very much larger proportion of waste and that this all adds appreciably to the cost of the American plate. The Minister’s answer to my third question contains an inference that the cost of the American tinned plate has fluctuated, but I am told that the price was $5 35c. per basis box in March, 1941, and has never altered. As to the loading by the Division of Import Procurement of substantial charges on the landed cost to cover administrative expenses, it appears clear that this loading is an arbitrary figure considerably in excess of any freight differential to main ports. I ask in this regard that the Government table the actual figures to justify the imposition by thu Division of Import Procurement of an arbitrary charge without the sanction of the Parliament. On the principle indicated in the answer to my third question, it would be interesting to know at what stage the division would be prepared to adjust, prices downward, if it ever intends to make an adjustment in that direction. The Minister’s reply contained a reference to “ firm price government contracts “, but it is pointed out that in many industries supplying goods’ to the services there is no firm price, that prices arc on a tentative basis and have to be adjusted at the end of the year in relation to the cost of manufacturing operations for the year. Consequently the reference to the defeat of the stabilization plan is very largely eyewash. Nor does the Minister’s reply indicate that prices for domestic consumption merit any consideration. The civilian consumption of tinned goods is a very large item and the prices of most tinned commodities have been pegged for several years.
With regard to the answer to question No. 4, big buyers who formerly imported direct or purchased through a broker aro: not relieved of any work or a pennyworth of expense, and, consequently, anything added to cost to-, cover the activities enumerated in that answer is purely an additional tax on industry. The experience has been that the division has nothing whatever to do with storage or handling on the wharfs, and it Ls believed that that would apply all over Australia. Also, under a sane business system, there would be no need for the distribution, invoicing, collection and other functions that the division has assumed. The functions enumerated- appear formidable on paper, but in actual practice, under the old system, it was far easier as well as far cheaper to deal direct with the British or American manufacturer. The Australian ‘buyer has far more work, worry and expense under the present system than when he was able to buy direct.
Those are the allegations made by practical mcn handling this important commodity. It may be because of the lend-lease arrangements that the Government has been reluctant to turn from American to British suppliers, but, in view of the great reduction of Great Britain’s export trade, the imperative need, if the economy of the British Empire is to be restored to a. sound footing, is that we should be encouraging exports from Great Britain where they can be of benefit here. The case I have set out, - the division imposing embargoes without parliamentary authority and substantial charges against Australian manufacturers on importations from the United States of America and the reluctance, indeed refusal, to explore fully the capacity of the British manufacturers to supply the’ Australian trade - calls for a frank statement from the Government, and I hope that it will be in a position to supply it when the House resumes next week.
.- With private members’ day almost n thing of the past, the adjournment motion is one of the few remaining chances given to honorable members to raise matters of urgent public importance. So I take this opportunity to bring to the notice of the Government the matter of milk prices charged in southern Queensland. When the prices of dairy products to consumers are raised by the Prices Commissioner the producer should undoubtedly benefit, but that is not what is happening in Queensland. From time to time we have had many difficulties and problems in regard to the Brisbane milk supply, but never have we had anything so chaotic or idiotic as exists to-day. The situation was created by the Prices Commissioner.
The Gazette, No. 193, of the 30tb August, 1943, contains Prices Regulation Orders Nos. 1197 and 1198, which fix the price of milk in Brisbane, as the Government, in war-time, desires a uniform price, but paragraph 7 of Order So- 1197 reads-
This Order shall not have any application to the sales of milk by the Metro Milk Supply (G.B.) Limited to shopkeepers or to sales by shopkeepers of milk purchased from that company.
Prices Regulation Order No. 1198 gives fi special list of prices for sale by the Metro Milk Supply (G.B.) Limited. Therefore one finds in Brisbane, under the Prices Regulations-, two sots of prices for milk in the same street, and the people who are supplied by Metro Milk Supply (G.B.) Limited are forced by the Prices Commissioner to pay an extra halfpenny a. pint or halfpint, not as a. war effort, not as an effort to help the Commonwealth Government, but to make an additional contribution to the funds of Metro Milk Supply (G.B.) Limited. This -ki. a pint or £d. a half-pint bottle on a turnover, I believe, of approximately 7,000 or 8,000 gallons a day constitutes, over a period, an enormous contribution and goes beyond the stage of an anomaly and reaches the stage of a. public concern. I give the price of bottled milk under gazetted regulations sold by Metro Milk Supply (G.B.) Limited and other distributing houses, on which the Minister will notice that the vendors of Metro Milk Supply (G.B.) Limited milk are singled out for special consideration and compensation for their efforts: -
A vendor selling Metro Milk Supply (G.B.) Limited milk to shops receives a margin, of lid. a dozen bottles. On other milk he receives only 6d. A vendor who sella direct to the public single bottles, receives ls. 8d. a dozen bottles for Metro Milk Supply (G.B.) Limited milk and ls. 8d. a dozen bottles for other milk. This gives to the vendor of Metro Milk
Supply (G.B.) Limited milk income, salary or wage much greater than vendors of other milk would receive, but an even worse aspect is that it opens up a loophole. The public, also shopkeepers, very seldom see the gazetted prices. A vendor supplying Metro Milk Supply (G.B.) Limited milk insists that the price ro shops is 3s. 9d. a dozen, and the price to the public 4s. 6d. a dozen. Other vendors should state that the price is 3s. 3d. a dozen to shops, and 4s. a dozen to the . public. Should either the vendors sell to the storekeeper or the storekeeper sell to the public milk from other distributors at Metro Milk Supply (G.B.) Limited prices, not one customer in a thousand would know what the actual price should be and they would not credit the Government with making two sets of prices for the same street, and’ any additional profit made in this way could not be disclosed and, therefore, would not be subject to income tax. The Prices Commissioner, in fixing prices, takes the cost the public can afford to pay, less cost of treatment, &c, and a small margin of profit until he comes back to the price to the producer and the price to the producer is presumed to be the maximum possible. If 15 per cent, or 20 per cent, of the Brisbane public can afford to pay an extra M. a pint or half -pint as a donation to the Metro Milk Supply (G.B.) Limited and its vendors, then the other 80 per cent, or 85 per cent, of Brisbane’s public can afford to pay the same price and the money go to compensate the farmer for his effort and this would surely stimulate the production that the Government requires.
I ask what justification the Prices Commissioner could find to give special concessions to Metro Milk Supply (G.B.) Limited and its vendors. If the value is 4d. a pint, I contend that to charge 4$d. is profiteering whether legalized or not. This anomaly has been raised by many members of the industry repeatedly and in September, 1944, Mr. E. H. Lindsay, as chairman of the Milk Board and Deputy Prices Commissioner, said that the so-called anomaly was under consideration, and a new basis of milk prices would be announced soon. That was a considerable time ago, but nothing has yet been done to rectify the matter. I ask the Minister to give urgent consideration to it. I should also like him to advise the House at the earliest moment why differing prices should have been authorized by the Prices Commissioner, and allowed to continue for so long. When the price of milk is increased to one section of the community in Brisbane, why is not the producer given a fair share of the increase. I should like to know what caused the Commissioner to make this extraordinary order, and also why the milk producers have not been allowed to share in the increased price.
– A report published in to-day’s Sydney
Morning Herald of the speech I made on the Wool Use Promotion Bill last evening states that I suggested that the proposed levy on wool should be quadrupled and that the Government should contribute a sum of £500,000 to the proposed fund. It would appear from the report that I was referring to the subsidy mentioned in the bill. Unfortunately, the particular remarks I have mentioned were set in bold type, and were placed prominently at the top of a column in a resume of points made by honorable members who participated in the debate. It would appear from the report that I suggested that the proposed tax on wool should be increased to something like 8s. a bale. I should like to explain that when I mentioned “ quadrupling “ I was referring to a speech which I made on the budget last year. At that time, the levy was 6d. a bale, and what I then advocated is now to be given effect under the Wool Use Promotion Bill. This is clear from the uncorrected Hansard proof of my remarks. When I was speaking on the budget last year, I suggested that the levy operating at that time, namely, a levy of 6d. a bale, should be quadrupled, that is, that the levy should be increased to 2s. a bale, and to the fund thus created the Government should contribute £500,000. Last night, I was referring to the position as it existed last year, whereas it would appear from the report published in to-day’s Sydney Morning Herald that I was advocating that the levy of 2s. a bale proposed under the Wool Use Promo tion Bill should be increased to 8s. a bale.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented : -
Economic Conditions in United Kingdom, United States of America and Canada - Report by Professor D. B. Copland, Economic Consultant to the Prime Minister.
House adjourned at 4.42 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
r asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– I understand that a campaign of the nature mentioned was recently launched by the Knitted Outer Wear Manufacturers Association of Melbourne and I am informed that the Australian Wool Board, which administers, for publicity purposes, the proceeds derived from the wool levy under the Wool Tax Act, co-operated with the Association by the supply of posters and other assistance.
n asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Hashe yet received the report from the committee appointed to inquire into the methods adopted by the Commonwealth Grants Commission in calculating the grants to be made to the claimant States. If go, when will the report be made available to honorable members?
– The report of the com mittee has not yet been received. I regret that T. am not in a position to say when it will be available.
Public Service: Superannuation.
n. - On the 9th March, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) asked the following question: -
Has the Prime Minister read in the press this morning a statement that the Labour caucus met yesterday and decided to increase the old-age pension by 5s.6d. a week? On behalf of the superannuated government ser vants, I ask the right honorable gentleman . whether he will have the Superannuation Act examined with a view to making the Commonwealth contribution to the lower-rate superannuation payments at least equal to that made in respect of old-age pensioners, who are non-contributors?
The matter raised by the honorable member has been examined, and I inform him that the present Commonwealth contribution to the superannuation pensions of male officers is approximately 74 per cent, of the pension liability, and that of every £2 paid in pensions the contribution by the Commonwealth is £1 9s. 6d. Where the Commonwealth officer has found himself unable to take full advantage of his privilege to contribute for the maximum units of pension allowed to him under the Superannuation Act, or to provide him- self with other adequate means for his retirement, the Government cannot sup port any action which would place him ina more privileged position than the employee outside the Public Service, and therefore regrets that it cannot see its way clear to grant an increase of the Commonwealth contribution to the lowerrate superannuation pensioner. If eligible under the provisions of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, a superannuation pensioner can receive, in superannuation pension and old-age pension, an aggregate amount equivalent to the maximum old-age pension plus the permissible income of 12s. 6d. a week. If his wife is also eligible under that act, the aggregate which may bo received by the pensioner andhis wife is doubled.
Banking Legislation: Communications Censorship : Alleged Leakage.
asked the Prime Minis ter, upon notice -
n. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice - 1.Has his attention been directed toa report in a Melbourne evening newspaper of the 27th March. 1945, that his proposed Defence Council in the post-war period contained no new principle?
n.-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 April 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1945/19450420_reps_17_181/>.