17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to - That the House, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.
– In view of the changed position with regard to the requirements of the defence forces, will the Prime Minister take action to have supplies of galvanized iron released from Army stores immediately for use by primary producers i
– Although I have not specifically examined that matter, the general subject of the release of surplus stores not essential for service requirements has been under consideration for some weeks. I shall arrange to have the possibility of releasing galvanised iron examined and a reply will be furnished to the honorable member.
– -I have repeatedly asked when the report of the tobacco inquiry will be presented to the House, and what decision has been reached with regard to the industry? As over twelve months have elapsed since the inquiry began and planting time has arrived again, will the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform the House when the growers are likely to be informed regarding their position?
– I shall ascertain whether the report is available, and, if it is, a copy will ‘be placed’ on the table, or copies will be distributed to honorable members.
– Has the Minister for Defence read the statement in the press attributed to Mr. Nigel Love, President of the Australian Flying Corps and Royal Australian Air Force Association, that the Mascot airport is inadequate and could be dangerous? :Will he have an inquiry made, in order to find out whether a better airport could be provided for the city of Sydney?
– Several pres* reports on that matter have been published, and conflicting views have been expressed.
– A serious crash recently occurred at Mascot.
– The honorable member knows that crashes are not always attributable to the conditions of the aerodromes. Human factors come into consideration.
– That is so, but the recent crash occurred in taking off from the aerodrome.
– I have noted differences of opinion among experts on the matter which the honorable member has raised, and I have read their statements with interest.’ Amongst various suggestions is one that a new airport should be established at Bankstown, and the latest if that it should be ‘built in the vicinity of Penrith. I do not know whether Mr. Love is really competent to express an opinion regarding the suitability of the aerodrome at Mascot. Perhaps, the honorable member himself would be more competent. In view of the limited area available at Mascot, the best we can do at the moment is to make that aerodrome as safe as is humanly possible. I am sure that the Minister for Air will work to that end.
Release of Engineers from the Army
– Many reports have come to my notice that municipalities in country districts and shires are 11OW in difficulty owing to the absence of their engineers on service with the Army.- In view of. the fact that all efforts to obtain the release of any of these engineers have failed, and bearing in mind that independent reports available to honorable members generally indicate that there is not the need now for so many of these engineers in the services as formerly, will the Minister for the Army institute an independent inquiry in order to ascertain whether a number of these men can be released?
– I appreciate the difficulties confronting local Government authorities throughout Australia through the absence of their engineers with the Army. Those engineers have done a splendid job. It has been truly said that this is largely an engineer’s war. Any one who has visited the islands to the north of Australia realizes how much the Allied fighting services owe to the engineers. However, I believe that the time has now arrived when more of tho engineers could be returned to local government authorities. I shall keep in mind the strong representations made by the honorable member.
– I understand that the Rationing Commission intends to undertake a survey of certain stocks coming under its control. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he will arrange for a survey of stocks of clothing textiles held in’ the Division of Import Procurement to be made at the same time as the commission takes its general census of stocks?
– .Sympathetic consideration will be given to the suggestion made by the honorable member.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs give consideration to a survey of supplies of -tea, sugar, newsprint and tobacco with a view to tho complete elimination of the rationing of these commodities?
– Yes. I shall be glad to discuss this matter with the Minister for Trade and’ Customs; but I cannot hold out much hope for the elimination of rationing at present. Supplies of many commodities are still inadequate, and if rationing restrictions were removed some people would get more than their share of these commodities, whilst others would not get their fair share.
– Early last week 1 asked a question with respect to the land settlement of ex-servicemen, emphasizing that many men already discharged are seeking information about the Government’s proposals, and how - they should lodge applications. The Prime Minister was good enough to say that he would arrange for the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction to make a statement covering the whole subject. As the House may adjourn this week, will the Prime Minister endeavour to have that statement made before the recess?
– I regret that the statement has not yet been made available. I shall endeavour to have- it furnished immediately.
– Has the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture read an article published in the Sydney Sun of Monday last in which the writer, Mr. H. H. Cox, attacks the Minister for Commerce because of the alleged decline of pig meat production and the unsatisfactory prices for pigs? Is it not a fact that’ the production of pig meats has now reached a record level, and that the industry is receiving a guaranteed price for the first time in its history? Was not this price agreed .upon between the Minister, as the representative of the Government, and the Australian Pig Industry Council? If these he the facts, will the Minister make a statement and ask the Sydney Sun to give as much prominence to the correction as to the.article it has published on the matter?
– The report was brought under my notice this morning. I consider that it contains many inaccuracies, and I shall make a statement on the subject, probably to-morrow.
– Oau the Prime Minister say whether the Australian Government, or any Minister on its behalf, last year agreed that the Netherlands Authorities should bring to Australia to be accommodated, trained and equipped in Western Australia, a large force of troops, said to be about 30,000, from the Netherlands ? Has that arrangement now been cancelled by the Australian Government, and if so why ? Will the Prime Minister lay on the table of the House the file relating to this matter?
– There was a suggestion made, I think some time last year, that the Dutch would be likely to ‘bring to Australia certain forces, some of which would be quartered in Western Australia, but there wa3 nothing very concrete about the proposal. As is known, there are already some Dutch forces here, principally members of the Dutch Air Force. A suggestion was made that a large force of Dutch troops should come to Australia to be trained. In such matters the Government has been guided at all times, not by financial considerations, but by the capacity of the Australian nation to- meet physical requirements of troops based on Australia. This has been explained to all the Allied Governments concerned, including the Government of the United States of America. There was a point beyond which we could not go. Any decision as to what could be done for our Allies has been based in every case upon the physical capacity of this country to meet their needs. We have always told the countries concerned what we were able to do, so that they would be in no way misled, but would understand the situation.
– If we had the Dutch troops here they would relieve some of our own men.
– I do not want to go into the matter in detail. I know of no particular file on this subject. Communications have passed between the Commonwealth Government and the Netherlands Government, and there havebeen incidental references to the matter in cables and documents. Where we artunable to supply the physical needs of our Allies, either in buildings or equipment
– The right honorable member does not suggest that there is n shortage of military buildings in Western Australia ?
– I am merely giving an outline of the general position. As 1 have said, I know of no file of papers on the subject, and any communications are of the kind which ordinarily pass between one Government and another. 1 shall look into the matter, and see whether I can make a more complete statement on it later.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Works and Housing for information about the sub-division of large dwellings. In this connexion, the Sydney Sun, of the 31st July, published an editorial in which the following occurs -
As the Mayor of Waverley, Aid. Anderson, said, there are hundreds of homes with ID to 20 rooms, housing only a few people who would be glad to convert them into flats for two, three or four families.
Before the winter started, Melbourne had converted over 1,000 old homes, and Adelaide was tackling the project with confidence of success. Why not Sydney!
Will the Minister arrange a conference between the Commonwealth Director of Housing and State and local governing authorities with a view to convincing them of the desirability of sub-dividing many large homes in Sydney to relieve the acute housing shortage?
– Yes. The New South Wales Housing Commission, 1 understand, is inquiring whether building materials would be better used in subdividing existing houses or in new construction. I hope to have more information within a few days.
Construction Target - Conditions of Eligibility
– The annual report of the War Service Homes Commission for 1943-44, which was ordered to be printed on the 15th June last, summarizing operations for the year shows blank spaces under the following headings. “ Homes placed under construction “, “ Homes remaining under construction as at 30th June, 1944”, “Homes commenced and completed “, and “ Homes completed “. Nine homes are shown as purchased. I ask the Minister in charge of War Service Homes whether we are to await the end of 1945-46 before knowing the target of the Department or shall we receive progress reports from time to time ? The Minister told us recently that only 31 houses had been built in the last five years. What is the latest figure?
– The War Service Homes Commission now comes under my administration as Minister for Works and Housing. There is no set target at the moment. The whole position of war service homes is being examined in the light of the target of 24,000 houses to be built this year. I hope to be able to supply more information in the course of a few days. Although the War Service Homes Commission is now under my ministerial control, it will remain, as it always has been, a separate entity.
– The latest issue of Smith’s Weekly alleges that, although the Minister in charge of War Service Homes declared that all members of the fighting forces are eligible for war service homes, officials of the War Service Homes Commission in Brisbane still insist that active service overseas is a condition of eligibility? If that report be correct, will the Minister direct the Deputy Directors in all States that all members of the forces shall be eligible? Will he make a statement to the House on this matter before the recess?
– I advise the honorable member not to base questions on information that he obtains from Smith’s Weekly, because it is about the most unreliable journal in Australia, and perhaps in the world. I understand that all members of the forces are eligible to obtain war service homes, but I shall make inquiries and inform the honorable gentleman of the position. On general principle, I believe that the statement published by Smith’s Weekly is wrong.
Number of Justices
– Has the AttorneyGeneral noticed that the Victorian Government has amended the Supreme Court Act to provide for the appointment to the Supreme Court Bench of Victoria of a seventh justice, who has already been appointed ? The Premier of Victoria said that the appointment had been made at the request of the Chief Justice, Sir Edmund Herring. That gives the Supreme Court bench of Victoria seven justices for one State as against the six justices on the High Court Bench for the whole Commonwealth. Will the Attorney-General discuss with the Chief Justice of the High Court at an early date whether or not the High Court bench is able to cope with its heavy list of cases, particularly the cases in States that the Court has not visited for some time? As the appointment to the Victorian Supreme Court Bench was made by an antiLabour Government, it was not attacked on the ground that the bench was being packed by the anti-Labour press.
– The Prime Minister dealt with this matter to some extent yesterday.The honor able member is aware that the jurisdiction of a Supreme Court of a State covers a wider field than does the jurisdiction of the High Court. The question is of such importance as to warrant its being put on the notice-paper in order that I may give it careful consideration.
Detention Camps - Tobacco Ration
– Will the Minister for the Army inform me whether Mr. Justice Reed is continuing his inquiry into detention camps in Australia and the Mandated Territory of New Guinea? If so, will the right honorable gentleman consider enlarging the scope of the inquiry in order to examine the manner in which Army courts-martial are conducted, and the advisability of continuing the practice of confining soldiers, who have committed purely military offences, in civil jails where they mix with some of the worst criminals in the country?
– Mr. Justice Reed, of the Supreme Court of South Australia, nas agreed to act as the chairman of a special tribunal to conduct further inquiries, on a wider basis than before, into detention camps and the system of disciplining soldiers for offences. Some delay has occurred in obtaining the consent of other gentlemen to serve on the tribunal, but I hope to be able to make an announcement on the matter at an early date. Consideration will be given to the honorable member’s suggestions’.
– I have just received a letter and a bulletin from a serviceman, who has underlined in ink a short paragraph referring to the supply of cigarettes and tobacco to service personnel on leave in Australia. It reads -
Complete review of methods of allotting cigarettes and tobacco to the Australian and American services on arriving in Sydney. This follows the Customs check at Mascot of cigarette cargo of returning servicemen. Americans are allowed one carton per week, and Australians are rationed to a maximum of 400 irrespective of their length of leave.
Will the Minister for the Army .confer with the Minister for the Navy and the Minister for Air with a view to correcting this anomaly?
– ‘Consideration will be given to the representations of the honorable member.
– I direct the attention of the Prims Minister to an article in to-day’s issue ‘ of the Daily Telegraph, entitled “United States May Jib at Loans fob Attlee”. It reads -
New York, Tuesday. - American conservatives are suggesting that until British Labour policy has been clearly defined, America should delay any plan of financial and industrial assistance.
If the new British Government shows a definite trend towards “ outright Socialism “ then America’s economic foreign policy towards Britain, which promised strong support for Churchill’s regime, may be resurveyed
Will the Prime Minister inform Mr. Attlee that the Commonwealth Government will assist him in every possible way to implement the policy of the British Labour party?
– I am a great believer in every government minding its own business, and despite what the honorable member for Hunter has said, I do not think that the matter which he mentioned is one in which this Administration should interfere. Matters affecting the relationship between the United Kingdom and Australia or, say, Australia and America, properly should be dealt with by this Government, but the internal policy of a particular country is its own domestic affair, which we may well leave alone, especially as we have quite enough troubles of our own.
– I understand that the Royal Australian Air Force has recently acquired’ from the United States of America some hundreds of educational films. In view of the Government’s intention to set up an Office of Education, and of the importance of visual training in education, will the Prime Minister take steps to acquire those films for the Commonwealth or at least borrow them, so that they may be circulated in all States ?
– I have no knowledge of the matter to which the honorable member refers, but I shall inquire whether what he has suggested can be done.
Debate resumed from the 20th July (vide page 4353), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the bill be now read a second tin.e.
.- This bill is intensely technical but it deserves some consideration because its results, of course, will be extremely .practical. I desire merely to say a few words to supplement, in my own fashion, what was said by the Prime Minister, and to offer some observations as to the limits of this legislation.
There has been in this country for quite a long time, discussion about the desirability or otherwise of a uniform divorce law. In more recent times there has been « particular proposal for an allAustralian domicile, and with both these movements the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), is quite familiar. This bill does not deal with either of these matters. It does not purport to establish a uniform divorce law, or an Australian domicile in relation to matrimonial causes. Domicile is an artificial notion which has been imported into this branch of the law, but it is of first-class importance in all matters of divorce. The power of a court to pronounce a divorce depends fundamentally upon the existence of a domicile of the parties within its jurisdiction. For example, if the Victorian Supreme Court is dealing with a divorce proceeding, the first inquiry is as to whether lie parties before the court are domiciled in Victoria. If they are not. the Victorian court has no jurisdiction to deal with the matter at all, apart from special legislative provision of this kind. Domicile is not merely residence. We arc disposed’ to say, in our ordinary use of the word, that a man is domiciled where he lives for the time being, but, it: the eye of the law, for this purpose it man is domiciled either where he was horn - which is referred to as the domicile of origin - or in a place where he not only resides but also has the intention of residing permanently, and this, if it lie elsewhere than where he was born, is what the lawyers call his domicile of choice. In either event, domicile goes beyond the mere fact of residence. For example, if a man is domiciled in Victoria and goes to Western Australia, he may become domiciled there if it be his intention to remain there permanently. The onus of proving that he has assumed a new domicile would rest upon bini. The only other artificial rule which I need mention is that, when a woman marries, she assumes the domicile of her husband and, even if she divorces him, she continues to have his domicile until she acquires a fresh one of her own. Therefore, to summarize, the jurisdiction of a court to pronounce a valid divorce depends normally upon the domicile of the parties within that jurisdiction’, and the domicile of a wife follows the domicile of her husband.
– How does she acquire a new domicile? Does she have to re-marry?
– No. She may acquire it by taking up residence in a place with the intention of residing there permanently.
– That is if she is no longer married.
– That is so.
– What is the position of Australian girls who married Americans and who have been divorced without being notified of the fact?
– I am coming to that case now. I merely engaged in a general discussion of the position, which is common ground to the Attorney-General and myself, by way of explanation. I now turn to what the bill purports to do. It does not purport to deal with uniform divorce law or an Australian domicile, but it deals with two things in particular. In the first place, it deals with the institution of matrimonial causes against members of Allied forces and certain other persons who are not domiciled in Australia. I shall deal with a particular example in order to make the position more clear. Assume that an Australian girl married an American soldier while he was stationed in. Australia. Under the normal operation of the law, she would acquire a domicile in the United States of America because her husband is domiciled there. In those circumstances, no court in Australia would have any jurisdiction whatever to pronounce a valid divorce, because the jurisdiction of the courts in Australia to deal with divorce is founded on the notion of domicile within their jurisdiction. Thus, if a woman who had married an American soldier were deserted in Australia, or if some other matrimonial offence occurred in Australia which would entitle her to divorce him, she would have to go to the United States of America in order to seek that remedy. The bill provides that in those circumstances matrimonial proceedings may be instituted in Australia ; indeed, they may be taken in Australia in any State, subject to the rule established here to the effect that the divorce law to be applied shall be the law of the State in which the last matrimonial home of the parties was situated, or, failing that, the law of the State in which the marriage was celebrated.
I am not quarrelling with that as a general social provision, but I think I should point out that there is no probability, if, indeed, there is a possibility, that the divorce so pronounced will have any recognition outside Australia. I say that with a little hesitation, because, as the Attorney-General will agree, we who are lawyers in the English tradition are familiar with the development of a doctrine in the last 50 or 60 years touching the international recognition of the laws of other countries. It is a new and extremely complex branch of the law, and, to a large degree, an artificial one. Perhaps we too readily assume that our notion of these rules is the same as would be applied in some other country, but at the same time it has been deeply established in our jurisprudence that a divorce is not recognized unless it is pronounced by the court of the domicile. Consequently we in Australia have not recognized a divorce pronounced at Reno in the United States of America by persons who retire to that community for a few weeks in order to acquire a residential qualification, and then obtain a decree, because we say that people not domiciled in that State cannot get a valid divorce which would be recognized anywhere else. Although this bill will give to the Australian bride in those circumstances a right to obtain a divorce in Australia under Australian laws from an overseas serviceman, and although, under this bill, which goes as far a3 the Constitutional power of the Commonwealth will permit, that divorce will be recognized, not only in the State in which it is pronounced, but throughout Australia, we cannot give it any validity outside Australia. The basis of the legal position in Great Britain, for example, is the same as ours. An Australian divorce obtained under this bill would have “ no validity in Great Britain in the absence of some reciprocal legislation. Consequently it becomes important that the Government should follow up this particular section of the legislation by putting all possible pressure on other countries to enact some reciprocal law, because, in these days in which people travel more than they once did, it would be a poor consolation to a woman to find that she was treat i “: rs an unmarried woman in Australia cl:. . /.lent upon a valid divorce, and as a married woman outside Australia, and that in some circumstances she might become a bigamist.
– If an Australian bride were divorced by her American husband in the United States of America, would she be able to have that divorce confirmed in Australia under this legislation?
– There would be no occasion to do that. The honorable member is taking the case of a husband who is an American and therefore domiciled in the United States of America. If the divorce were pronounced in the United States of America by a court of his domicile, it would he valid for all purposes in Australia as well as in the United States of America, and no proceedings in this country would be called for. But, in this bill, we are dealing with cases in which the parties have lived here and have not gone to the United States of America, and some matrimonial offence has occurred which would enable a petition to be launched. The question would then arise of whether and under what conditions the Australian Court is to be given jurisdiction. Whilst we can give jurisdiction to an Australian Court and give validity to the resultant decree inside Australia, we do not give it any validity outside Australia.
– If an American woman marries an Australian in this country, is that marriage valid in America?
– Yes ; the converse position applies. It can be taken as a fairly sound working rule, in the international recognition of divorce, that we depend either upon the fact that the parties to the divorce were domiciled in the country in which the divorce was given, or that some special statutory provision of a reciprocal kind has been made between the various countries concerned. As we cannot control the second factor, and as the first can only be controlled by us within our own territorial boundaries, it follows that divorce granted under this legislation will not possess validity outside Australia.
– Nothing we can do can alter that?
– No. I am not complaining about this proposed provision, but I think that it is desirable that people should not be under the impression that every difficulty will disappear as the result of this legislation. It will still leave a mass of difficulties which we cannot touch.
The second provision of the bill is one which deals with the institution of matrimonial causes by persons domiciled in Australia, though not domiciled in the State in which the proceedings are taken. We are not now dealing with the problem as between an Australian wife and an overseas husband, but with an Australian husband and an Australian wife in a case in which the husband or wife goes to another State. The Prime Minister, in his second-reading speech, instanced a deserted wife whose husband goes to another State and establishes a new domicile there. Let us assume that the parties are living in Victoria, and that the husband deserts his wife and lives in Queensland. That is the kind of case which the Minister had in mind. As he pointed out, in those circumstances the wife left behind in Victoria could institute proceedings in that State, although her husband had gone to another State, carrying, of course, his, and therefore her, domicile with him. Although the bill provides for that case, it equally well provides for the opposite case, because the husband who went off to Queensland could, under the provisions of this bill, take proceedings there against the wife whom he had left behind in Victoria. Honorable members may say that that is unlikely, because, after all, he is ex hypothesi a deserting husband; but whether he is or not depends entirely on what evidence appears at the relevant time. He may go to Queensland and say in due course, “ My wife agreed to come. I had to come here to take up a job, and at the last moment she decided to say behind. She has deserted me, and I shall take proceedings in the Queensland Supreme Court against her on that ground. She, on the other hand, may put up a formidable case that he has deserted her.
The position, is that under this bill proceedings may be launched by either party in the State in which that party happens to be living. If, for example, the husband in Queensland starts proceedings in the Queensland Supreme Court the wife could, under this bill, apply to the Supreme ‘Court of Queensland for a stay of proceedings, or she could apply to have the proceedings transferred to the Supreme Court of Victoria. That seem? to me to be a very sensible, practical rule to put forward; but what I emphasize is that it does not eliminate the problem of expense for a wife, because if she applies in the Queensland Supreme Court for a stay of proceedings she must be able to finance her application for a stay of ‘proceedings, and, consequently, the expenditure she will be liable to incur will not be very profoundly affected by this measure.
– Suppose that both parties stick to any advantage they may have in that respect, one in Queensland and the other in Victoria?
– There is a provision that in those circumstances an application may be made to one court or the other to stay the proceedings in that court; and it is not conceivable in that case that each court would decline to stay proceedings, with two competing proceedings resulting.
– Is not that the position in Queensland to-day?
– I am not familiar with the Queensland law, but in Victoria, and some of the other States, there is a provision that a deserted wife is deemed to retain, for the purposes of divorce proceedings, her domicile in the State in which she was deserted. But, as the Prime Minister pointed out in his secondreading speech, it is very doubtful whether a divorce obtained under that provision is valid outside the State in which it is obtained, because, again, jurisdiction depends upon domicile. If the domicile of the husband was, in fact, outside Victoria, and under that provision the wife obtained a decree nisi in that State, that divorce would not be recognized outside Victoria and, potentially, she would be’ a bigamist outside her own State. This bill gets rid of that contingency. It eliminates that problem, because it provides that an order obtained under that provision of the bill shall have validity all over Australia. To that degree it produces some very desirable results.
– What assurance has the respondent in the other State that he, or she, will obtain correct notification of proceedings?
– There is a provision in the bill to make rules of court with regard to substituted service and methods by which process is to be served; and the courts have established over the years a useful body of rules on this matter, which make it practically impossible that any party should be brought into court on process without having, in fact, notice. Even where one party has long since disappeared the courts have always required the fullest publication, so that all possible steps will be taken to bring proceedings to the notice of the respondent.
There is just one other comment I should like to make on this part of the bill. As the Attorney-General recognizes, the court in which the proceedings are brought may, under this bill, have to administer the law of some other State. I am not altogether happy about that provision, because it means that very frequently a court will be applying a legal system in which it has by no means expert knowledge. I happen to be a Victorian lawyer, and within the limits of my knowledge I am familiar with the rules and process of the Victorian Court and the relevant body of Victorian law; but if I were being called upon to apply the law of another .State I could acquire some knowledge of that law by study and argument, but I would not be so completely familiar with it as I am with the law of the ‘State in which I have grown up. That is a disability. I am not saying that because I want to discourage this experiment. I believe that this bill represents a very fair and practical attack on this problem. I am not. speaking in a hostile fashion; but E point out that disability. All that I have said means this: This bill will resolve some problems. It will leave others unsolved, and it will inevitably leave a great number of matrimonial relationships still in a state of doubt. We shall never get rid of those doubts in Australia except by establishing first, one Australian divorce jurisdiction involving one Australian domicile - I say that because I have always been uneasy about any attempt to separate domicile from jurisdiction - and, secondly, one Australian divorce law. If that exists, then in relation to most of the matters I have been discussing certainty would be arrived at. But we must on such things be realistic, and recognize that establishment of a uniform divorce law in Australia involves opening up all of the grounds of divorce, and these vary between the States. And that problem gives rise to great conflict of social opinion. Some people believe that divorce should be made much easier, and others believe that it should be made much harder. Some people, like myself, would be extremely cautious about adding any new ground for divorce. I should want to be very satisfied in respect of any new ground, before I would favour it. I am not criticizing the Government for not undertaking the provision of a uniform divorce law in 1945 with a war in progress, but it is a matter which we shall have to look into. However, assuming that we had a uniform matrimonial law, dealing with marriage, divorce, and allied problems such as the maintenance of wive.» and children, our troubles still would not come to an end. If all Australia were one domicile and jurisdiction for all these purposes, and with one body of law, it would still leave us with the problem of a wife in Western Australia who desires to take proceedings against her husband in New South Wales for the maintenance of her children, or on other grounds, being separated from the respondent by thousands of miles; and the problem would arise as to the venue of the proceedings. The wife would be saying that the case should be heard at Perth, and the husband would be saying that it should be heard at Sydney. Various rules would have to be worked out, as one party, in a vast country like Australia, will inevitably incur enormous expenses if he, or she, desires to pursue the case. We should not imagine that we would create a paradise in this matter by establishing a uni- form law, because in a vast country like Australia, with the expenses involved in travel and the cost of representation at a distance, we shall always have the acute question- of venue of hearing - a question which arises here and in the United States of America, but does not arise in anything like the same degree in a country like Great Britain.
I apologize to the House for having discussed matters which are of technical interest to lawyers rather than of general interest to others. I have sought to say two things: First, insofar as the bill travels, it travels, broadly speaking, along sensible lines; but, secondly, notwithstanding that, the state of many persons who imagine that they will be relieved by this bill will still be one of considerable uncertainty.
– Naturally, I have no competence to discuss the legal aspects of this bill. E was particularly interested in the exposition given by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). The revelations regarding the relation of women to the whole problem of marriage and divorce indicated that there is some ground for believing that the apparent acts of discrimination against women in relation to permits to travel abroad are not entirely without a basis of reason. My purpose in rising is to di.-.’uss, not tho legal aspect of marriage and divorce, but the general subject of the desirability of protecting the institution of marriage. This bill obviously is designed principally to meet a situation arising out of the war. It must be recognized that men engaged in warfare have. at all periods in the world’s history, had a very slight sense of responsibility in sex relations, and many foolish women have been led into most difficult situations because of that very fact. We cannot altogether ignore the proposition that marriage is the institution upon which civilization is founded. It is an institution which has existed throughout the whole of history, and in communities at all stages of development. Never at any time has this institution been regarded by any people purely as a contract of the same kind as other contracts. Among Christian people it has been regarded as of a distinctly sacred nature - a contract entered into by one man and one woman for tinpurpose of affording protection to the woman against the irresponsibility of tinman, and protection of the offspring of the marriage so that they shall enjoy the best opportunity for development while they are still unable to fend for themselves. I believe that it would have been very much better to delay the introduction of this bill until the war is completely ended. The way is still open for servicemen to contract marriages without a sense of responsibility, and the passage of the bill may give rise to further instances of the kind which it is actually designed t<> relieve. It must be recognized that, however desirable a divorce may be to the persons immediately concerned, it represents in some degree a weakening of the whole edifice of marriage, and on the maintenance of that structure the stability of civilization depends. Therefore, 1 repeat that it would have been better to delay the introduction of the bill until the time comes for a complete clearing up of the tragedies which the war has left in its wake.
– I am much obliged to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) for his analysis of the bill. It is true that the bill does not attempt to do more than solve two practical difficulties in the administration of the divorce law which have caused, and are causing, great distress and hardship, especially to Australian women. The first part of the bill deals with the cases of Australian girls who, since the outbreak of war, have married in Australia servicemen from overseas, and who, by such marriages, acquired a domicile outside the Commonwealth. As the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, the problem arises om of the rule of common law that a wife, by the fact of marriage, acquires the domicile of her husband. The courts of law treat the existence of a domicile in a particular country as an essential fact on which the jurisdiction of the court is based, so that a court cannot proceed to deal with a matrimonial cause unless it is established that the jurisdiction over which the court operates is the territory in which the parties are domiciled - the wife, as well as the husband. Take the case of an Australian girl married here, say, to a serviceman from the United States of America. The legal position is this: She thereby acquires a domicile in the United States of America, not in a general way, but in some particular State. There are 48 States in the United States of America, and the question of the domicile of the husband in one particular State is often itself difficult to determine. If the marriage turns out unhappily, and the husband goes back to the United States of America, it is practically impossible for the wife to find any remedy. The cost involved would make it impossible, in 99 .cases out of 100, /or her to find a remedy in the courts of the United States of America. Therefore, this is not a matter which can be left to drag on. The evil is here now, and it must bc dealt with immediately. The unhappiness being caused by the present situation is very grave. Dozens of cases have been brought to the attention of the Government, many of them by Senator Tangney, of Western Australia, and some by other honorable members of both Houses. The same problem has arisen in the United Kingdom, where English girls have married servicemen from the United States of America and the Dominions, and it was found necessary to bring down legislation to deal with it. On the 17th November of last year, the British Parliament passed an act conferring jurisdiction upon British courts parallel to the jurisdiction which we are now conferring on the Australian courts, in the first part of this bill. Our legislation does not follow the English act word for word, but it is in accordance with the principle of the English act. As a matter of fact, legislation of this kind is more necessary here than in the United Kingdom. The Leader of the Opposition has supported the bill, and the only comment which he made is that when a dissolution of marriage is granted by an Australian court, it does not necessarily follow that the divorce will be recognized in countries outside Australia. The extent of recognition of a divorce obtained in this way is itself not an easy matt- “ to deal with. I think that we can safely follow the example of the British Parlia ment in allowing the matter to be dealt with, if possible, by arrangement between the countries concerned.
– In any case, it is a risk that we must take.
– That is so. This problem exists in varying degrees in Canada and the United States of America, and it is highly probable that the courts of those countries will recognize the dissolution of marriages effected under this legislation. The only limiting factor would be a charge of bigamy in respect of a second marriage. In Australia or its territories there would be no difficulty because our legislation has full effect. In addition, clause 8 provides for reciprocal recognition of judgments pronounced under acts of this character. One is the act that I have already cited, passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom last November. That disposes of Part II. of the bill. Part III. is not occasioned by circumstances of war as is Part II. It deals with the general problem of a wife living in one State who desires to bring suit for divorce from her husband domiciled in another State, perhaps, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) says, thousands of miles away. Assume that she is living in Perth and that he is domiciled in Queensland. The cost of her taking proceedings in Queensland is so high that it is a practical impossibility for her to do so. The matter of domicile is often of great complexity and difficulty. Domicile is where the husband has set up permanent residence. She may not know the facts, or it may be difficult for her to prove the facts. There are all sorts of rules whereby the courts ascertain domicile. Suppose the wife brings suit in the Supreme Court of Western Australia. The first task of the court is to determine the domicile. If it finds that the husband is domiciled in Queensland, that is the end of the case, and all the expense incurred in bringing suit is lost. The court says, “ We have no jurisdiction. The only court with jurisdiction is the Supreme Court of Queensland “.
The Supreme Courts in all the States and the High Court have frequently referred to the seriousness of this problem because of the great distances between the capital cities of Australia where the
Supreme Courts of the States exercise their jurisdiction. It has been suggested that the solution is to establish, not a uniform divorce law, in the sense that the grounds of divorce would be the same everywhere, but an Australian domicile, as distinct from a State domicile. That is what this bill does, not in form, hut in substance, because, in the case I have supposed, under this bill, the Supreme Court of Western Australia will have complete control. If domicile is proved to exist in Queensland, the case will not finish but go on. Of course, in every case, as the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, provision is made for notice to be served on the other party. It may be by substituted service. The courts will, take care that the other party knows that the case is on. The husband may have a good defence to the suit, or he may say that the witnesses are in Queensland and that the case should he determined there. It will then rest with the Supreme Court of Western Australia to say where the case shall be heard. We have carefully drafted this legislation to prevent the wife from selecting a State where she may obtain a divorce on grounds that do not exist in the State of domicile. So, under this bill, there will be no possibility of “Reno divorces”, und( : which resort is had to a state of nominal or fictitious residence in order to get a divorce on grounds not possible in another State. Under this bill, the wife will need to have lived in a State for twelve months before she may bring suit for divorce. Secondly, the court will apply the law of not the State of residence but the State of domicile. The wife will not be able to say, “Here I atn in Queensland, where the divorce laws do not cover my case, so I will go to another State where I shall be able to get a divorce on the grounds that T have in mind “. The law of the State of domicile is to be applied. That is the husband’s domicile.
– Are “ Reno divorces “ recognized in the other States of America, ?
– There are decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States of America that a “Reno divorce” is recognized. Some States recognize them and others do not. I should think that outside the United States of America “ Reno divorces “ are of very doubtful validity. I do not say any more about it than that.
– They are “ phoney “.
– We have all sorts of synonyms. There is a practice in the United States of America of resorting to the State of Nevada for divorces. The honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) referred to the importance of the institution of marriage. I intend to say something about that, but, for the time being, I impress upon honorable members that there can be no resort to a particular State in order to get a divorce on grounds that do not exist in the State of domicile.
– Can a husband not change his domicile for that purpose ?
– A husband has always been able to do that. Of course, one cannot change one’s domicile merely by making a trip to another State for a few weeks as in the State of Nevada. The court must be satisfied of intention to change domicile and that that intention has been carried into effect. I cannot cover every legal point that may arise.
– There must be intention to change domicile permanently.
– Yes. In Part III., we do, in effect, give the wife the benefit of an Australian domicile for the purpose of having her case heard, but we do not give her the right to select the law to be applied. The law to be applied, regardless of the State in which the case is heard, will be the law of the State of domicile. In the example I have given, the Court of Western Australia will have to apply the law of Queensland, which may differ on grounds of substance from the law of Western Australia. Desertion for three years may be the requirement in one State, and desertion for four years in another State; but I do not consider that, in practice, much difficulty will arise there. The grounds will hie established, and decisions will have been given on all doubtful points. Of course, we could establish Commonwealth courts andi give to them exclusive jurisdiction over divorce, and they would become familiar with the divorce laws of several States. The bill will help to alleviate the distress and anxiety caused by hasty marriages in war-time, and also meets the curious anomaly due to the fact that each of the six States, in addition to the Territories of the Commonwealth, has its own code of law. We have the rule of law that unless the wife - and that also applies to the husband - is domiciled in the State in which the action is brought, the court simply declines jurisdiction. The bill meets that position in a way which will prevent, in Australia, the practice that obtains in the State of Nevada. ‘Therefore, I submit that this legislation does mark a practical step forward.
The Leader of the Opposition advocated a uniform code of divorce for Australia. On© code of divorce applicable throughout the six States would be very desirable, but I am not prepared to advocate legislation of that kind without the most careful examination of their varying grounds for divorce. As the Leader of the Opposition said, divorce may be obtained more easily in one State than in another. This problem must be tackled some time. The late Prime Minister, Mp. Curtin, was in favour of tackling it, but considered that the bill met the present difficulties and that it was important to deal with them.
I share the concern of the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) for the institution of marriage. Marriage has, first, a religious significance of a sacramental’ or almost sacramental character, according to the views of the churches, and secondly, a tremendously important social significance. My own opinion is that nothing could be worse for a country than to weaken the institution of marriage by making divorce too easy. In some countries, persons are married and divorced, so often that it is almost impossible to recall their matrimonial history. That practice is bad for the country concerned, and this Parliament should not pass any legislation which has any tendency in that direction. But, at the same time, the civil law of divorce is essential, in my opinion, if the institution of marriage is to be protected. Having, the parties joined together by law, when the whole basis of the matrimonial contract has been destroyed, is perhaps one of the greatest menaces to marriage as an institution. I differ from the view expressed by the honorable member for Darwin that we should postpone this matter until after the war. Some of the marriages to which I have referred have been unsuccessful, and even disastrous. Why should not that problem be dealt with now? It would be wrong to postpone it.
– ‘Does not the Attorney-General consider that the bill is only fallowing the ground for another crop of such disastrous marriages? That was the point which the honorable member for Darwin made and I consider that it is a sound one.
– I do not agree. A bill of this character will not have that effect. In any event, the situation with which this legislation is designed to deal, namely, Australian girls who marry allied servicemen in Australia, does not exist to the same degree now as it did until recently. Therefore, we must deal with the problem now, or postpone it indefinitely.
In the two practical respects that I have mentioned, an advance has been made towards meeting a difficult position. This legislation is similar to a bill passed by the Parliament of Great Britain. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) referred to the legal position of an Australian girl who marries an American serviceman and is subsequently deserted by him. Later, he obtains a divorce in the United States of America, and she is advised that, for some reason or other, the divorce is not recognized in Australia. The honorable member asked me whether this legislation will provide the means to enable the girl to obtain a divorce that will be recognized here and enable her to remarry in this country. If there is any doubt about that divorce, this legislation will operate. The girl is entitled to bring her case to the court, which will examine all the facts. If she can prove the fact of desertion for the necessary period according to the law of her matrimonial home here, or if there was not any, according to the law of the State in which the marriage took place, she may obtain a divorce under this bill and that will resolve in Australia and its territories any doubt as to the validity of the dissolution of marriage.
Mr.Menzies. - That is assuming that husband and wife have not lived together in the United States of America.
– That is correct. I assume that the girl has not gone to the United States of America, but has been deserted by her husband and is still in Australia.
– Does the bill provide any remedy for a girl whose husband returns to the United States of America, for example, and the first notification that she receives is a letter stating that she has been divorced?
- Her desire is to affirm the marriage and to prevent the divorce. Her only remedy, in that case, isto attempt to set aside the judicial decision. That position would be extraordinary, because all countries recognize the necessity for the petitioner to notify the other party of intention to proceed.
– Almost every day Australian brides are receivingletters from America notifying them that they have been divorced.
– The only course open to the wife, in those circumstances, is to endeavour to annul the dissolution, although that would be tremendously expensive. However, we cannot legislate for everything.We are legislating now to the limits of our constitutional power in order to resolve some practical difficulties. They will not be entirely removed: I agree with the analysis of the Leader of the Opposition in that respect. But I submit that the bill should commend itself to the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 20th July (vide page 4356), on motion by Mr. Dedman -
Thatthe bill be now read a second time.
. -I regret that my colleague the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) is unable to be present to-day. It had been arranged that he should carry on the discussion of this bill on behalf of the Opposition. . In his absence the remarks that I shall make will be brief.
In the Re-establishment and Employment Bill which passed through this House a few weeks ago, provision was made forthe establishment of a Commonwealth employment service. The object of thebill now before the House is to provide certainmatters which are incidental to theestablishment of that service. In particular it provides for taking over, and making permanent in the Commonwealth Public Service, a number of State permanent civil servants, and for the absorption into the Commonwealth temporary service, of certain temporary officers of the State civil services. In other words, to that degree the bill is a mechanical provision for the establishment of the necessary personnel on the necessary basis, for the new department or service which is to be created. Insofar as the reestablishment of service personnel and of those who have been engaged on other forms of war work, such as munitions production, is concerned, there can be little doubt that a Commonwealth employment service which will attend to the placement of such men, will be of great value. I can very well see that for some years after the war that service may not only have to be in existence, but also will have to be fairly extensive. As I understand it, the Government has made quite clear its intention not to exercise compulsory authority after the war in relation to employment. Therefore, the service to be rendered by the employment organization will be of a voluntary nature, in the sense that people will not be under any compulsion to avail themselves of it. In these circumstances, many thousands of individuals will find work without reference to the employment service. In other words, the normal channels through which men seek employment will not be clogged by this legislation. The Commonwealth employment service, as I understand it, will be supplementary to the existing channels. That being so, I put it to the Government that there must be what I would call a trial period lasting for some years after the war. At the end of that time we shall be very much better informed as to how the service is operating. We may find that the degree to which people avail themselves of the service is small and diminishing, or on the other hand, we may find that the service remains a vital and perhaps growing factor in the problem of providing employment. That makes me rather chary about building up a large permanent service for this purpose, and t hope that the Government will not be too anxious under the provisions of this bill to add large numbers of permanent officers to the Commonwealth Public Service. Temporary officers there must be in large numbers, but if we were to add large numbers of permanent State servants to the permanent list of the Commonwealth Public Service solely to establish this employment organization, we might find at the end of the tentative period, that the functions of the service were much more limited than we had expected, and that we were saddled with a substantial number of additional permanent public servants.
– There will be plenty of work for them.
– There may 0r there may not be. I do not belong to that group of happy people who believe that the Public Service will disappear. I say quite plainly that having regard to past history I can see the Public Service growing in numbers and in importance ; but I am not anxious that we should add large numbers of public servants to our permanent establishments until, by experiment, as in this case, we have established that they are really needed, and will continue to be needed in future. Many State servants of great ability and experience have been brought into the Commonwealth Public Service during the last four years. Some of them at least, properly can be made members of the permanent Commonwealth Public Service; but the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) should be careful, as I believe be will be, not to treat this problem necessarily as a permanent one requiring the permanent addition of large numbers to the Commonwealth Public Service. Whether the problem is to .be permanent or temporary will be revealed much more clearly by the experience of the next few years, than by any dogmatic argument at this stage.
.- 1 oppose this measure because of proposed new section 81e which it seeks to- insert, in the Commonwealth Public Service Act. Sub-section l reads -
The provisions of any law of the Commonwealth providing for preference in any matter relating to the employment of discharged members of the forces shall not apply in relation to the appointment or employment of State employees under this Division.
What is the use of passing reestablishment legislation through this Parliament and expecting the community to honour its obligations to ex-servicemen, when the Government apparently is to be the first to disregard the principle of preference? This is an obnoxious provision. Surely the Government should set an example by seeking new employees from amongst men who have given their services to their country in time of war. There must be many men in the State public services who are returned soldiers of the last war or of this war. I have received letters from air crew members whose service of four or five years in the Royal Australian Air Force include tours of operations, asking whether they will be reinstated in good jobs in the Commonwealth Public Service upon their return. Some of them say that they believe that upon demobilization they will be relegated to unimportant positions. If the Commonwealth believes that certain important jobs in the Commonwealth Public Service must be given to non-returned soldiers whose services are regarded as indispensible, I should like to have the names of these gentlemen. All the ability and intellectual capacity required could be obtained from amongst the thousands of ex-servicemen who were either public servants before the war, or are anxious to become public servants. The Department of Post-war Reconstruction is notorious for the small number of exservicemen which it employs. A member of the Opposition asked how many members of the staff of that department were ex-servicemen. The answer, which gave the names of employees receiving over £500 a year, filled several pages of Hansard. The number who had served in either the last war or this war was very small indeed. Therefore, I shall not support the bill unless that proposed new section is deleted.
– I did not intend to speak on this measure, but something which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has said impels me to do so. It seems to be a practice of the right honorable gentleman to direct the attention of the House to only one very minor portion of a bill, ignoring the largest portion of it. Where the right honorable gentleman erred on this occasion was in saying that these employees who are now to be confirmed as Commonwealth public servants will only be engaged in the Commonwealth Employment Service. That, of course, is not correct. It is as far from the facts as it could be. It seems to me that the right honorable member always raises matters which are as far removed from facts as is possible. The persons dealt with in the bill, .being permanent State public servants who have been working for the Commonwealth during the whole of the war period, are now to be appointed permanently to the jobs which they have occupied as Commonwealth public servants. The great bulk of their work will deal with the administration of unemployment and sickness relief benefits.
– The honorable member seems to be infinitely better informed than the Minister who, during his secondreading speech, said what I have repeated, namely, that the object of the bill is to deal with the Commonwealth Employment Service, but no doubt he will be glad to have the honorable member’s correction.
– My information is that these employees will administer not only the Commonwealth Employment Service, but also the unemployment and sickness relief benefits. One of these men resides in my electorate, and he has approached me on the matter. He is a permanent State servant and has been National Service Officer in his district. He will be taken over by the Commonwealth to do this work and also to deal with other matters. I cannot envisage the harm which the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) expects to arise from allowing persons, who have been doing this work throughout the war, and who have gained invaluable experience, to be retained in their positions. Whether they are State or Commonwealth public servants, does not make any difference. They will continue to enjoy the same salaries and benefits as previously.
– It is true, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has said, that this bill is. just a machinery measure to transfer from the State Public Services to the ‘Commonwealth Public Service those officers, both temporary and permanent, who have been seconded, or who have volunteered, to assist the Commonwealth Government during the war. The basis of the transfer will be entirely voluntary. The men will be appointed to the Commonwealth Public Service only if they choose to transfer, and thereupon they will become permanent Commonwealth Public servants, or temporary Commonwealth employees, as they are now, in effect. The reason for introducing this bill is that some of the men who are considering whether they should transfer are anxious to know what conditions will apply to them in the Commonwealth Service. Everybody involved in the transfer will retain his existing status, and salaries, recreation privileges and superannuation rights will not be affected. The men will not be worse off in any way by reason of the transfer.
– If they do not elect to transfer, will they continue to be State employees ?
– All this is essential for the Commonwealth Employment Service f
– Perhaps the Minister may now induce his optimistic follower to apologize.
– The ‘bill relates to other things besides the Commonwealth Employment Service.
– The only exception is that, should’ any State officer now employed by the Commonwealth, be surplus to the requirements of the new employment service, he will be employed, as the honorable member for Watson has suggested, although he has not said so directly, to deal with ‘sickness and unemployment benefits. This bill deals especially with the staffing of the Commonwealth Employment Service.
I hope that the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) will not persist in his opposition to the bill. I realize that he is anxious- to safeguard the rights of ex-servicemen. However, between 35 per cent, and 40 per cent, of the persons affected are ex-servicemen of the present war or the war of 1914-18. I assure the honorable gentleman that no provision of the bill will cancel any of the sections of the Re-establishment and Employment Act.
– But the proposed new section which I mentioned provides for that to be done.
– It relates solely to the transfer of people who are already employed. It does not refer to the engagement of new employees.
– But it discriminates. The Commonwealth could appoint exservicemen from the State Public Services
– I assure the honorable gentleman that the bill preserves the rights of ex-servicemen. Their interests will not be injured in any way. Every serviceman who has been employed in this service will return to it upon receiving his discharge from the forces. His rights will not be affected by his absence on service. No man will suffer as the result of serving with the armed forces.
– Then what is the reason for proposed new section 81e?
– The reason is that the Government wants to take over this permanent staff of experienced men, most of whom have been employed in the State Public Services for years. The Commonwealth has taken over duties that previously were performed by the States, and these men are experienced in that work.
– Those duties could be learned by ex-servicemen.
– As I have said, 35 per cent, of the men employed are ex-servicemen. That proportion has met the applications of ex-servicemen up to the limit. I am certain that the provision which is worrying the honorable member will do no barm. . It will not relieve the Government of its responsibility to give preference to ex-servicemen.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 -
After Division 9 of Part III. of the Principal Act the following Division is inserted: - “Division 9a. - Appointment and Employment of Certain State Employees. “81b. - The provisions of any law of the Commonwealth providing for preference in any matter relating to the employment of discharged members of the Forces shall not apply in relation to the appointment or employment of State employees under this Division. “ (2.) In this Section, ‘member of the Forces ‘ has the same meaning as in Division 2 of Part II. of the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945.
.- Despite what the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) has said, I cannot support the proposed new section 81b, the marginal note of which reads, “ Preference in employment not to apply to appointment of State employees under this Division”. Many men in Victoria who have given State service for years would be glad to transfer to the Commonwealth service. Many have been filling positions in the States in place of men who left equivalent jobs in order to serve overseas. The Government could quite readily replace those men rather than grant to them a higher status by appointing them to positions in the Commonwealth service.
– The status in both services is exactly the same.
-Some officers prefer the Commonwealth service in which they have a chance to rise to a higher division than in the State service. This difficulty could be avoided if the Government were prepared to adopt the course followed in New Zealand and South Africa, where rehabilitation is controlled entirely by ex-servicemen. Although many manpower officials are doing excellent work, the Government has said specifically that it will put servicemen back into their pre-war positions, andi give to them the promotions due to them; but those benefits are taken away by proposed new section 81e. It is an iniquitous proposal, and members of the committee appear to be unaware of the seriousness of the matter.
– Does the honorable member think that these officers, 35 per cent, of whom are ex-servicemen, should be dismissed?
– I doubt the correctness of that figure. In reply to the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin), who asked how many men in the Department of Post-war Reconstruction in receipt of over £500 a year were ex-servicemen of the last war or the present war, a list was published in Hansard. It occupied several pages. The proportion of ex-servicemen was certainly not 35 per cent. ; I believe that it was not more than about a half of that.
– I can assure the honorable member that the figure I have given in respect of the employment service is correct.
– The proportion in the Department of Post-war Reconstruction was about 43 out of 167, which is not a creditable proportion for the Commonwealth Government, the largest employer in Australia. It would be discreditable even to a small employer. I move -
That proposed new section BIE be left out.
– The Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945 should apply to a State service as well as to the Commonwealth service. The Minister should give an explanation of the meaning of the proposed new section 81e. 1 should be unhappy to think that the Government now intends to act contrary to the principles of the Re-establishment and Employment Act. The proposed new section is so worded that I desire an explanation of the Government’s intentions with regard to it. Personally I do not like any part of the bill. I am not in favour of setting up a Commonwealth employment agency in Australia. If such a body is established it will be one of the monstrosities which will have, to be dispensed with in the near future by a succeeding government.
– Proposed new section 81e does not apply to the general problem of the re-employment of ex-servicemen. It refers only to the transfer of men from State services to the Commonwealth service who have already been carrying on certain work during the war. The alternative would be that men who have been employed in State services for years, and have helped the country during the war period, would have to be dismissed.
– They could npt be dismissed.
– The Commonwealth could not carry on the work of the employment service without them. The clause does not violate the principle of preference to ex-servicemen. .
– I am not entirely satisfied with the Minister’s explanation. Hundreds of men will be discharged from the fighting services in the near future, and they, in addition to the ex-servicemen to be transferred from State services to the Commonwealth Service, should be provided with suitable employment. I agree with the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) that the members of the services who are to be discharged shortly should have an opportunity to qualify for positions in the Commonwealth Service as they become available.
– Even if 50 or 60 men are transferred under this proposal, there will be just as many vacancies to be filled on the return of servicemen to civil life.
– Any new positions should be filled by returned servicemen.
– Will the employment service be wholly .staffed by employees taken over from the States, or will a number of new appointments be made? Will the provision in the Re-establishment and Employment Act apply in respect of all additional appointments?
– The Minister has tried to show that this clause concerns only a few men employed in his department, but proposednew section 81a states -
In this Division - “ State employee “ means any person employed, in a State Public Service -
who is performing or has performed in or on behalf of the Department of Labour and National Service duties in relation to any matters with respect to which the DirectorGeneral of Man Power exercises or has exercised any function for the purpose of the organization of man power or the placing or rehabilitation of persons in employment or matters related to that organization, placing or rehabilitation or duties in relation to any trades dilution committee constituted under Commonwealth law;
who is a member of the
Forces within the meaning of section four of theReestablishment and Employment Act 1945 and who, in the opinion of the Board, would, but for his being such a member, have been performing in or on behalf of the Department of Labour and National Service the duties referred to in paragraph (a) of this definition; or
The full meaning of that provision is doubtful, according to my reading of paragraphs a and b. The Government should carry out the obligation resting upon it to give to servicemen the best possible chance of employment, but apparently it intends to waive preference in government employment.
.- This bill does not provide for the appointment of any persons, but merely for certain transfers. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) made it clear that this employment service is an experiment; we shall have to learn by trial and error. We do not know how many persons will have to ‘be employed in future, and the passage of this bill will not result in any new appointments. Its purpose is to make possible the voluntary transfer of State public servants to the Commonwealth Public Service.
– No preference is provided.
– The honorable member for Balaclava says that he does not want these men to be dismissed; and he admits that they cannot be dismissed, because they are already permanent public servants. The provision does not mean anything like what the honorable member suggests.
Question put -
That the new section proposed to be left out (Mr. White’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. W. J. F. Riordan.)
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 19th July (vide page 4282) on motion by Mr. Lazzarini -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill is consequential upon the Commonwealth Public Service Bill just passed. All I desire to do is to raise one query upon which I hope the Minister will be able to inform me. In the ordinary course, as I understand the position, State officers who come over to the Commonwealth Service must, before coming under the Superannuation Act, pass the prescribed medical examination. If I am wrong on that point, I should be glad to be corrected ; but that is my general impression. Under this bill it appears - and again I am subject to correction - that State officers who transfer to the Commonwealth will not be required to pass a medical examination in order to come under the Superannuation Act. Is a rule being applied under this measure different from the normal rule?
. - in reply - The bill provides that State public servants who transfer to the Commonwealth Public Service will not be required to pass a “medical examination as State officers who resign from the State Public Service and then join the Commonwealth Service are required to do. The bill provides that a State officer may claim all of his superannuation payments under the State scheme; and if he does that, he will start afresh under the Commonwealth superannuation scheme, being required to pass a medical examination and to contribute according to his present age group. However, any State officer who transfers to the Commonwealth without drawing his State superannuation benefits, or payments, which are also transferred to the Com monwealth Superannuation Fund, automatically comes under the Commonwealth scheme as though he had previously been a member of the Commonwealth Public Service.
– In each case the State officer would have passed a medical examination in respect of State superannuation ?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Lazzarini) agreed to-
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the Superannuation Act 1922-43, as amended by the Superannuation Act 1945.
Resolution reported and - by leave - adopted.
Sitting suspended from 12.43 to 2.15 p.m.
In committee: Consideration resumed.
– It is very desirable that all civil servants who are to become permanent officers should be on the same basis regarding superannuation. I should like to be assured that I understand the purpose of this bill. Previously, when a State civil servant resigned to enter the service of the Commonwealth, he collected from the State the superannuation money due to him; then he had to pass a medical examination in order to enter the Commonwealth Public Service and, having been accepted, he became a subscriber to the Commonwealth scheme according to his age group. I understand that, according to this bill, a State officer joining the Commonwealth Public Service is to be admitted without further medical examination, and the money which he draws from his State superannuation scheme is to be paid into the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund, and, for the purpose of Commonwealth superannuation, his contributions, both State and Federal, are to be treated as continuous.
– The right honorable gentleman’s statement of the position is correct. A State civil servant who joins the Commonwealth Service will be admitted without medical examination, provided he pays into the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund the lump sum which he received from the State Superannuation Fund.
Bill agreed to and reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 18th July (vide page 4178), on motion by Mr. Dedman -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This is a small measure, the intention of which is to increase the representation of the grape-growers on the Australian Wine Board. There are at present nine members on the board, of whom seven represent co-operative and proprietary wineries and distilleries, one represents the Government, and one the Grape Growers Council. I have had the opportunity of studying the various sections of this industry which, in South Australia, is the third largest. The interest of the growers in the industry is, naturally, a large one, and they desire adequate representation on the board. The export of Australian wines increased so greatly under the Wine Export Bounty Act, which I had the honour to bring down in 1935, that before the war Australia became the second greatest exporter to Great Britain. During the war, there has been a great scarcity of wines in Great Britain. Australian wines are not advertised widely enough. At the Glasgow exhibition in 1938, I saw South African wines being exhibited as Australian. The merchants do not always classify wines according to the Dominion from which they originate, even though, at an Exhibition in London that year Australian wines won the principal prizes in all classes. Under this bill there will be no curtailment of the board’s existing powers ; the proposal is merely to increase the representation of the growers. Although the co-operative concerns and the proprietary firms do not always see eye to eye, they should recognize their corporate interest in the industry, which is best served by working together. The Opposition supports the measure, and hopes that the industry will before long, recover its pre-war state of prosperity.
– The main purpose of the bill is to increase the representation of the growers on the Australian Wine Board from one member to three. For a number of years the growers were represented by a gentleman who did a great deal of very useful work in their behalf, but, unfortunately, he died recently. Among the wine-makers there is some hostility to the proposal for the appointment of further growers’ representatives. In a letter to me on the subject one wine-maker states -
The Wine Board’s work is certainly almost entirely in connexion with the export trade in wine, and it is most unlikely that any growers’ representative would have any knowledge of this branch of the trade. It is, therefore, difficult to see what is to be gained by giving the growers three representatives instead of one.
However, even when the board is reconstituted, the wine-makers will still have a majority of two to one, which is the same as the Government enjoys in this chamber, so that they should be able to manage things to their satisfaction.
.- I have no objection .to the bill, nor to the enlargement of the growers’ representation on the Australian Wine Board. This board has done a very good job during the seventeen years of its existence, and has been successful in putting Australian wines on overseas markets, particularly in Great Britain. That has been made possible by the payment of a bounty, the money for which has been raised by the collection of excise duty on spirit made from grapes. France, and other European countries which have competed with us on the world’s wine market, have suffered much damage during the war. We have been fortunate to escape such damage in our wine-growing, district*, and I urge the Government to take advantage of the opportunity to place our wines on the London, Canadian and American markets before the other wine-producing countries are able to resume exports. After the last war, it was found that the world’s markets were unable to absorb all the wines which we had to offer, and some of our vineyards had to be rooted out, and production controlled. Since then, the quality of our wines has improved, as has their standing on overseas markets. We are now in a favorable position to expand the industry. The price received by Australian wine exporters is made up of the price which the wines fetch on the overseas market, plus the bounty paid on the export of wine. That is a sound principle which, I suggest, should be applied to other primary producing industries, also. The Government has made a contract with the Government of Great Britain for the sale of Australia’s exportable butter surplus, and I suggest that the return to the butter producers should be the price which the Government of the United Kingdom pays, without any deduction whatever.
. - This is not a contentious measure, although it deals with an industry of very great importance to Australia. I share fully the views expressed by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) and the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), who stressed the need to advertise Australian wines abroad. Before the war, there was a considerable export of Australian wines, chiefly to the United Kingdom, but this trade was unavoidably interrupted by the war. Fortunately, with the arrival in Australia of a large number of Allied troops, there was an increased consumption of Australian wines, and this was of great assistance to the industry, which hadbeen threatened with a surplus. Honorable members will agree with the object of this measure, namely, to increase from one to three persons the number of representatives of the growers supplying grapes to wineries and distilleries. This action has been taken as the result of representations made by the Federal Grape-growers Council. The
Government believes in giving to the actual growers representation commensurate with the important place which they occupy in this industry. The representation which they had previously been granted was considered to be inadequate.
Various interests are represented on the board. The Commonwealth Government has one representative, and the co-operative wineries and distilleries two representatives. The proprietary and privately owned wineries and distilleries in New South Wales and Queensland have one representative; those in Victoria, one representative; those in South Australia, two representatives ; and those in Western Australia one representative. Under this bill the growers who supply grapes to the wineries and distilleries will be given three representatives instead of one. This action will be greatly appreciately by grape-growers generally.
– It will spread the representation throughout Australia.
– That is so. After the last war many returned soldiers were settled on the land and grew grapes. Some of the land which was selected for this purpose was not suitable and exservicemen had very trying experiences. They did not receive an adequate return for their labour. It is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to continue to take a great interest in the wine industry, because it is necessarily a “ small man’s “ occupation. Each settler requires only a few acres of land, and this industry enables a comparatively large number of people to settle on a limited area. The Government will take into consideration the suggestions which honorable members have made in this debate regarding the necessity to give every possible encouragement to this important industry.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 15th March, (vide page 668), on motion by Mr. Dedman -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was established in 1925 by the Bruce-Page Government and has rendered very valuable service to Australia. For the first twelve years it devoted the whole of its activities to the solution of problems affecting the agricultural and pastoral industries. Unlike the secondary or manufacturing industries, which often are able to employ their own scientific staffs, the farmer and the pastoralist must depend upon outside assistance for the solution of any of their problems requiring scientific research. Until the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was established, the six States employed their own scientists to examine agricultural and pastoral problems, and all engaged in the same form of research. The Commonwealth Government was able to co-ordinate their activities and have problems examined on a national basis. The results have been of far-reaching importance. For instance, citrus-growers are able to produce oranges in all States, with the possible exception of Tasmania, but citrus crops are subject to, and seriously affected by, an extraordinary number of pests.
Before the Commonwealth co-ordinated research, all the States were examining the same problems and trying to find a solution. Now these problems are tackled by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in co-operation with the States. An outstanding achievement was the discovery of a practical and economic method of controlling blue mould in tobacco seedlings by using the vapours of certain hydrocarbons, notably benzol and toluol. This disease was previously the most serious factor in preventing the development of a successful tobacco-growing industry in Australia. If that job had been left to the States, blue mould might still be ruining our tobacco crops. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, in co-operation with the States, also solved the problem of bitter pit in apples. This storage disease had cost the export trade in apples more than £100,000 per annum. The council has developed varieties of potatoes free from virus diseases which frequently caused losses of up to 25 per cent, in the potato crops. In addition, it has discovered a simple method for the control of water blister in pineapples, has introduced and acclimatized thousands of pasture and other plants, some of which show very great promise, and has achieved marked success in the control of certain weed pests. During the last twelve years the work has been conducted under the direction of a council consisting of Sir George Julius, as chairman, Dr. Richardson and Sir David Rivett. Now, Sir George Julius is about to retire, and the bill proposes to increase the personnel of the council from three to five members. The chairmen of the branches of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in the States are also members of the council, and other persons are co-opted from time to time when their scientific knowledge is required.
In addition to its activities in Australia, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has co-operated with Great Britain and our sister Dominions in solving numerous problems. The blowfly pest, in a bad year, may cause a loss of £4,000,000, and its control has proved to be a complex and difficult problem. But a solution has been found as the result of co-operation between the council and a similar organization in Great Britain. The operations of the council were extended in 1937, for the purpose of providing assistance to secondary industries, and the council established the National Standards Laboratory, the Aeronautical Laboratory and the Industrial Chemistry Section. Those activities necessitated the appointment to the council of two additional members. “Whilst I recognize the importance of secondary industries to Australia, the Government should not, when appointing extra personnel to the council, reduce the number representing primary industries. The primary industries are carried on by farmers and pastoralists who cannot possibly have on their individual properties scientists to examine their various problems. Those problems must be dealt with on a national basis. Many secondary industries have sufficient capital to enable them to employ their own scientists and specialists to advise upon methods for improving the standard of their products. In increasing the personnel of the council, the Government should have due regard to the interests of primary industries, and under no condition should they lose any of their present representation.
At the outbreak of war, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was conducting research into the development and improvement of fisheries in Australia. It engaged an eminent British scientist who had done highly successful work in the English Channel and the North Sea. Tackling his new job in a masterly manner, he made excellent progress in Australia, but, unfortunately, upon the outbreak of war, the vessel that he used for his investigations was commandeered by jone of the services. Aerial surveys had revealed the habits of pelagic or surface swimming fish, and the places where they breed and feed. Because of the requirements of the Royal Australian Air Force, that form of research had to be discontinued. I remind the Government that Australia imports £3,000,000 worth of tinned fish and smoked fish a year. That expenditure is not necessary because our waters are teeming with fish, and we could supply all our own requirements. At the first opportunity, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should resume its investigation of our fisheries. In Great Britain in war-time the fishing industry is the foremost recruiting ground for small vessels required for minesweeping, and for naval personnel and merchant seamen. Many men engaged on short-term service with the Royal Australian Navy will have to be re-established in civil life after the war. What better help could we give them than to repatriate them into the fishing industry? As a means of helping to reestablish ex-servicemen in this industry the Commonwealth is providing from £1,500 to £2,000 per capita for the purchase of fishing boats and gear.
– Order ! The honorable member is wide of the bill. It provides only for increasing the number of members of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which has nothing to do with the repatriation of naval men.
– I ask that the new members of the council should have regard for this acute problem, which should not be overlooked.
– Order !
– It is wise to increase the size of the council so that it will have a better opportunity to attend to this problem. The fishing industry needs all the help that can be given to it, in order that Australia may be provided with fish and fish by-products. We should be able to develop the industry to a degree which will make the importation of canned fish unnecessary. I commend the Government for having introduced this bill. I hope that the enlarged organization will consider the points which I have raised, particularly in relation to the repatriation of naval personnel.
Upon the appointment of extra members, Sir George Julius, who has been chairman of the council since its formation in 1926, will retire. I am sure that every honorable member appreciates th, wonderful service that he has rendered to Australia. We were singularly fortunate that the Bruce-Page Government selected him for the position. I regret that circumstances require him to relinquish this position, in which he has done much for the benefit of Australia. I wish to place on record the tribute of members of the Opposition, and I am sure that all other honorable members will endorse it. The achievements of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research will be a memorial to Sir George Julius for all time. I hope that, in selecting the new council, the Government will not reduce the number of personnel with knowledge of the problems of primary industries. The council can help the primary producers by co-ordinating State activities and by securing the co-operation of Great Britain and our sister dominions in research work. In this way, much can be done to combat the pests which hamper primary production and also to assist in the development of secondary industries.
.- As this bill proposes to increase the number of members of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, it will enable that organization to extend the scope of its activities. Since its establishment in 1925, the council has more than justified its existence by the excellent results which it has achieved. It has co-ordinated scientific research work throughout Australia with consequent benefit to everybody. All of its activities have been of great importance, but its most outstanding work has been the almost complete eradication of prickly pear. This remarkable achievement more than compensates for the expense incurred. Greater attention should be paid to the development of the Australian fishing industry, particularly by means of research. The expansion of the industry on a commercial basis is of great importance. The council can be of great service to the nation by applying its energies in this direction. It has always worked quietly, without resorting to publicity, but it has done much valuable work. Those honorable members who have visited its establishment at Cronulla, where important research work is being carried out, will appreciate what the council is doing for Australia. I hope that, as the result of the expansion of the council, its officers will have greater opportunities to assist the industry. The remuneration of officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has received very little attention. Their welfare has been sadly neglected. I hope that greater recognition will soon be given to the services of these unassuming workers in the field of research. This bill is a step in the right direction. The council has passed the experimental stage and has already shown what valuable results it can produce. The increase of the scope of its work, as this bill will permit, will be of incalculable benefit to the nation.
.- This bill proposes to increase the membership of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Therefore, this is a fitting occasion to say something of the work that has been done by the existing council over the last twenty years, to indicate the directions in which its energies should be applied, and to make suggestions as to what should be done by the newly appointed members in reviv ing some of the contacts made by the original members.
– Very little may be said under those headings in discussing this bill.
– Surely there must be some opportunity, when dealing with a proposal to increase the membership of the council, to speak of the work of Sir George Julius, who has been chairman since the inception of the organization.
-The right honorable gentleman has a mistaken conception of the matter. Plenty of opportunities to make such eulogies are provided in this House. It is becoming habitual for honorable members to take up a great deal of time whenever a bill is being considered, in eulogizing people who have no connexion at all with the measure before the House. If the right honorable member proposes to outline Sir George Julius’ life work, he will be entirely out of order.
– I shall deal with the things which he has done as chairman of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and suggest that the work be continued by the newly appointed members. His work has received the approbation of all governments and people who have had any knowledge of it. I refer to one of his most important achievements - the creation of the Standards Association of Australia in 1926.
– The right honorable gentleman is quite out of order. The question is whether the membership of the council shall be increased from three to five, and whether section 6 of the Science and Industry Act shall be altered by omitting the word “ five “ and inserting the word “ six “. The right honorable member is not entitled to deal with the history of the whole organization.
– One of the duties of the new members must surely be to maintain the Standards Association, which has grown from a very small beginning into a large and efficient organization, and has done more to help Australia’s war effort and to place the nation on terms of equality with other countries in the technological field than has any other body. I believe that I shall be in order in expressing the hope that, in appointing the extra members, the Government will consider the characteristics and qualities of the original members of the council. One of the reasons for increasing the membership from three to five is to extend the scope of operations, of the council. This can be done only if the directors have the same progressive outlook as their predecessors. The original members were selected because each had special qualifications. Sir George Julius is an engineering expert, Sir David Rivett was a capable organizer as well as a scientist, and Dr. Richardson has done much valuable research work, through the Waite Institute, in relation to primary production. During the last eight or ten years the problems “with which the council has had to deal have increased in magnitude and complexity. I urge that one of the additional appointees should have an intimate knowledge of the latest developments in agricultural science, and that the other should have had wide experience on the technical side. In the science of optics, the council has raised the standard of achievement in this country to a remarkable degree. Before the war Germany and countries associated with it could claim to have occupied this field almost exclusively, hut during the last four or five years the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has completely revolutionized the position in Australia. That body could be made thoroughly representative by having on it a member capable of making and maintaining contacts with other scientific institutions throughout the world, thus ensuring that we shall be able to take the fullest advantage of what is done elsewhere. In the early years of the organization, we were fortunate in being able to induce such noted British scientists as Sir George Stapleton, Sir John Russell, Sir John Orr and Dr. Arnold Theiler to visit this country. In the last few years, however, we have been unfortunate in that the means of contact which existed through the scientific side of the Empire Marketing Board has passed into “ the limbo of forgotten things “. I urge that the special function of one of the men appointed shall be to
Sir Earle Page. explore the possibility of restoring such intimate contacts and establishing reciprocal relations with scientific organizations in other countries. Interchange of visits has proved very valuable to this country. Sir David Rivett visits England every three years for the purpose of making contacts, but that is not nearly sufficient. The process should be continuous.
With the increase of personnel, I trust that a larger appropriation will be granted to the council. It was able to carry on during the depression because I had placed in a trust fund £750,000 of surplus funds. At the present time nearly one-half of that amount is expended annually on research. The work which science will have to perform in connexion with the problems of post-war reconstruction is of such high priority and importance that much greater expenditure will be needed. I urge the Government to seek the highest qualifications when choosing the personnel to be appointed. At the outset, we were fortunate in securing the services of men of whom there was no jealousy, because they had no background which might lead to friction, as had occurred in connexion with the Bureau of Science and Industry. The result has been the most complete co-ordination and co-operation between all the scientists in the universities, State Agricultural Departments and the Commonwealth Service. I trust that men of the same status, character and disposition may be found so that the work may proceed and become one of the most unifying and integrating factors in the Commonwealth.
.- The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) has referred to the salaries of some scientists. I direct attention to the matter generally, not necessarily to those who are departmentally employed. It is wrong that such small salaries should be paid to graduates in science who enter this branch of the Commonwealth Service.
– The matter of salaries is not in question.
– It was raised by the honorable member for Bass.
– Merely in passing. The honorable member has indicated his intention to deal with it exclusively.
– Two new members are to be appointed to the council. I do not know what faculties they will represent.
– The salaries to be paid to them have no relation to the bill.
– Their remuneration should be more in keeping with their long and expensive training. The existing salaries are quite out of proportion to what is paid to unskilled workers in many categories. These men are not covered by protective tribunals and do not go on strike. I agree with the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) that whoever may be appointed should have greater opportunities to go abroad than have so far been afforded. That need not apply only to the higher executives. In 1942,I visited the Reading University, which is one of the greatest agricultural universities in the British Empire. On the experimental farms connected with the Agricultural Research Institute, New Zealanders were learning all that they could of the best methods that could be adopted in connexion with dairying and every other branch of agricultural science. Australia has been somewhat parsimonious in not having provided sufficient opportunity for experts in this very important organization, which has done great good for Australia in connexion with primary and secondary industry to travel abroad. The opportunity to acquire knowledge in this way should be afforded to a larger number of officers. Those whose energies are devoted to agricultural and veterinary science should be enabled to visit Great Britain, particularly, so as to obtain the latest information, and thus enrich the council’s store of knowledge. Australia would be the gainer if that were done. I hope that the Minister will hear the matter in mind. The Government need only supply the wherewithal.
.- This short bill is the least that could have been introduced in the interests of the further development of a necessary science in this young country. Recently, in moving the adjournment of the House, I pointed out how much further other countries had advanced, compared with Australia, in the application of science to industry. I paid tribute to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which is responsible for such activities in Australia. Its efforts have been circumscribed because of the small appropriation it has had. It is hardly worthwhile occupying time in discussing a measure that has given the Minister so little thought, and proposes to make only slight progress in the matter of scientific research. Much of our land has not demonstrated what it can produce, because it has not been tested. In Canada, there are 200 demonstration centres, in which scientists are achieving valuable results. I regret that greater facilities are not to be provided for the development of our possibilities. We shall have to keep abreast of other countries if we wish to progress. I hone that the Minister will soon take action which will enable this country to avail itself fully of the application of science to our problems. That is essential, and it is within our reach. All that is needed is to appropriate the necessary money.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) - by leave - agreed , to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the resolution agreeing to the third reading of the Australian National Airlines Bill 1945 being rescinded forthwith, and the third reading of the bill being made an order of the day of a later hour this day.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to -
That the resolution agreeing to the third reading of the Australian National Airlines Bill 1945, agreed to on the 31st July, be rescinded, and that the third reading of the bill be made an order of the day for a later hour this day.
Message recommending, appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) proposed-
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue and moneys be made for the pur- poses of a bill for an act to provide for the establishment and operation of national airline services by the Commonwealth and for other purposes.
– I oppose the motion and object to the appropriation of Commonwealth moneys for the purposes of this bill. I do so for many and varied reasons, but for the fundamental reason that the payment of these moneys would contribute towards the socialization of industry in this country. I recognize that considerable sums will be required by the Government if it intends to implement its policy of socialization and give effect to the pledge which has been signed by every member of the Ministry and its supporters; but members of the Opposition are totally opposed to the policy of socialization of industry, and favour private enterprise and individual effort. There is no good reason why the efficiently conducted and well-organized services of the private aviation companies in Australia should be taken over as a government enterprise, particularly having regard to the sorry history of past ventures in governmental control of industries throughout Australia. The Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford), in his secondreading speech on the bill, said that, far from offering any apology for the bill, the Government was proud of it. Honorable members would have been amazed if the Minister had tendered any apology on that score, and if, after the announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) in November last, the Government had not introduced such a measure. We should have been amazed if the pressure from outside organizations which dictate to the Government had not forced it to stand up to the unqualified pledge which all members of the Labour party have signed. The words of that pledge are -
I also pledge myself to actively support and advocate at all times the party’s objective - the socialization of industry, production, distribution and exchange.
I shall show how sinister is the policy of the Government. From the time when Labour assumed office on the 7th October, 1941, the infiltration into the nation’s normal life and social structure of the doctrine and practice of socialization be gan. Some Labour members have drawn attention to the necessity for the introduction of socialistic ideas, whilst others have not admitted their implementation. Members of the Government, being the victims of pressure from outside this Parliament, have realized: that the war-time preoccupation of the people afforded a good opportunity for the implementation of the Labour party’s policy. Honorable members on the Opposition side have repeatedly sounded warnings to the people as to what the Government was doing under the cloak of war-time necessity. The Government did not openly declare itself on the occasion when it should have done so, namely when seeking a mandate from the people at the general elections in 1943. I and others warned the people that a vote for the return of the present Government would be tantamount to a vote for the policy of socialization of industry. As a result of those declarations, various responsible members of the Ministry gave undertakings and issued pledges which should have placed the position beyond doubt. Indeed, their assertions were of such a nature, and were accepted so implicitly, that the people disregarded the warnings of the Opposition. The Government no doubt received thousands of votes from people who otherwise would not have voted for then] but who accepted the assurance given that socialization would not be implemented while tho people were pre-occupied with the war. The late Prime Minister replied to my assertions by saying -
The Labour Government has not socialized Australia and does not intend to do so, because we are at war.
On the 16th August, 1943, he was equally emphatic when he said - .
The Commonwealth Government has no power to socialize anything, even with its wartime powers.
Three days later the late Mr. Curtin declared -
The Commonwealth Parliament had no power to socialize anything. His Government would not, during the war, socialize any industry.
The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), the legal member of the Government, and a senior Minister, in opening his general election campaign at Hurstville on the 4th August, 1943, denied charges made against the Curtin Government of having a policy of socialization. He said -
The Commonwealth Constitution gave no general power to nationalize industry. There was a limited power over expropriation, subject to just compensation. The power of expropriation was limited to specific Commonwealth purposes, but there was no general power to nationalize industries. Therefore, the charge of socialization against the Curtin Government had no foundation.
That statement was used in election advertisements on behalf of the Labour party. There was a photograph of the Attorney-General in a newspaper advertisement bearing the caption, “ Dr. Evatt ends an argument “. In the same election speech, the Attorney-General said -
There would be more room for private enterprise and business initiative after the war than ever before.
I produce a lengthy telegram which I received from the Minister containing the following significant statement: -
Innuendoes that Mr. Curtin aimed at socialization was an instance of false political propaganda.
There can be no ambiguity about those pledges, nor any under-estimation of the political effect which they had on the result of the elections. So the people who were prepared to believe the responsible members of the Government were deceived, and gave their votes to the Labour party in the belief that private enterprise and individual initiative would not be interfered with during the course of the war and that the Labour party’s policy of socialization would not be implemented. One of the leaflets used by the Government during the election campaign was headed, “ John Curtin Nails the Regimentation Lie “ and it proceeded to quote the remark made by the late Prime Minister on the 25th July, 1944, that “No question of socialization arises”. The factors accepted by the people were, first, that the Government had no intention to socialize any industry in Australia, at least during the war period, and, secondly, that the Parliament had no ‘constitutional power to do that.
– Does the right honorable gentleman think that we have any such constitutional power?
– I can only be guided by the legal authority of the Government, which stated in an advertisement that there was no such constitutional power or authority, except within limitations.
– What is the right honorable gentleman’s opinion?
– I am not a lawyer, but I think that, if section 92 of the Constitution means anything, it implies that the Government cannot do what it aims to do under this bill. That opinion will be well tested within the next few months. The third factor accepted by the people was that there would be more room for private enterprise and business initiative after the war than before it. “ More room “ does not mean that basic industries, such as the important transport industry, should be taken from private enterprise and placed under government control. The people were reasonably entitled to draw the conclusions to which I have just referred. A referendum of the people was held throughout Australia on the wisdom of the alteration of the Constitution to enable increased powers to be conferred on this Parliament. During the referendum campaign, the socialization of industry was a very live issue. Opposition members pointed out that if the powers sought by the Government were granted there would be socialization with a vengeance. At the time, I stated that if the Government’s proposals were agreed to, it would be empowered to implement Labour’s policy of socialization, with the consequent destruction of private enterprise and initiative and the strengthening of the hands of Canberra bureaucrats. We warned the people to be careful about granting such wide powers to a government which had shown that it was not above repudiating its undertakings. The Government sought from the people a mandate for the socialization of industry. We opposed this and the people refused to grant the powers asked for. However, in spite of the decision given by the people twelve months ago, the Government proposes to go ahead with its policy of socialization in at least two directions.
– The right honorable member’s time has expired.
– As no other honorable member has risen, I shall take my second period now. In spite of the pledges given by the late Prime Minister in 1943 and in spite of the proposals which the people rejected in August, 1944, the Government is still attempting to introduce socialism.
– I thought the right honorable member was a party to the proposals agreed upon at the Canberra conference for the granting of greater powers.
– I argued in favour of an elected convention and urged that the people should be allowed to vote on each proposal separately. Let us examine the merits and demerits of Statecontrolled enterprise and private enterprise. Quite apart from the moral aspect of the matter, or the rejection by the people of the Government’s referendum proposals, let us recall the sad history of State enterprises. Take the Commonwealth Shipping Line, for example. In a period of five years it showed an accumulated deficit of £2,506,788, and what remained of the fleet was sold when the Government finally realized the impossibility of making it pay. In New South Wales, eight government undertakings showed a loss of £1,205,000. In Queensland, between 1915 and 1929, losses were incurred in 18 out of 21 State enterprises. Eventually, there was a net loss of £4,500,000 out of the £5,000,000 of borrowed capital with which these enterprises were begun. On that capital our children will pay interest for a great many years. In the year before the war, Aus-“ tralian railways showed a combined total loss of £2,700,000. Notwithstanding this, the Minister for Air asked the public to believe that the Government can make a success of private airlines. The Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) further stated that had Australia depended upon private enterprise to organize the country for war, we would not have accomplished one fraction of the marvellous war effort achieved in this grave crisis.
The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) has recently been advocating the introduction of British capital to Australia, so that he is, evidently, a convert to private enterprise. However, on the 7th July, 1941, he advocated the nationalization of the Broken Hill Pro prietary Company Limited. This it what he said -
The best way to inspire confidence in the public and to allay suspicion, if this Government is really serious in its desire to put Australia’s war effort into top gear is for the Government to assume control of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited.
At the time he was making that demand, the company’s manager, Mr. Essington Lewis, was on loan to the Department of Munitions to carry out important war work, and he has remained in that job, exercising even greater authority under the present Government. However, it was not until May, 1943, that the Minister for Munitions (Mr. Makin) was moved to pay this tribute -
For our munition factories and the equipment of our fighting forces, steel has been supplied at cost price. This patriotic gesture has been withheld from the public too long.
When the Government failed in its efforts to obtain a formula and supply for certain armour plating, the company placed the best of its men at the department’s disposal. A right formula was discovered and the armour plate was being obtained at one-sixth of the cost at which it could be bought from overseas. 1 have been in close association with Mr. Essington Lewis (Managing Director of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, who is also Director-General of Munitions) and I know him for the great merit of his work for Australia. No man has served hU nation more worthily or with greater ability.
On the 5th February last, the late Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), addressing the secondary industries conference in Canberra, said -
During the war, the Government has received magnificent support and co-operation from industry . . .
The Government looks to private enterprise to make a major contribution to production and development, and thereby to employment in the post-war years.
Discussing the subject of civil aviation, the late Prime Minister, in his policy speech in 1943, said -
The Government pays tribute to the magnificent work performed by all connected with civil aviation under extreme difficulties- and in: the face of many dangerous hazards . . The Government is determined in the post-war period, that civil aviation will be highly developed, not only as a source of useful employment, but as a valuable factor in its policy of decentralization
Recently, the chairman of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, Mr. E. R. Knox, said that more than 1,500,000 18 and 25 pounder shells -were produced at the company’s factory from May, 1940 to March, 1944; that the plant was erected at the company’s expense; that the first 134,474 shells manufactured were given to lie Government free of cost and the other shells were supplied at cost, without profit. Contrast that with the assertions of members of the Government, who have denounced private enterprise and declared that we should have been in a sorry plight had war production been left to private enterprise. In legislating for political control of banking and the socialization of airways, the Government is paving the way for the Communists. It cannot be denied that communism is growing in Australia at a dangerous rate, arid nowhere more rapidly than in northern Queensland. Communism is thriving because there is a definite association between its policy and the fundamental policy of the Labour party. The Communists realize that they can attain their objective only by associating with a party which is akin to themselves. The similarity between the objectives of the two parties cannot be denied or ignored. The objectives of the Australian Communist party, as stated in January, 1945, provide for a post-war programme including nationalization of the banks and big monopolies, the nationalization of the coal mines, and the nationalization of air, sea and rail transport. The Government has effectively nationalized the banking system in a mean and miserable way, not by paying compensation to the banks as provided in the Constitution, but by usurping their functions and strangling their activities. In this way it has put into effect the first plank of the Communist party’s platform. It is now engaged upon the nationalization of interstate airlines. Certainly, it proposes to pay compensation, but we have yet to see whether the compensation will be adequate. It also remains to be seen whether the Government’s action will be held to be constitutional by the High Court.
– Is that a threat on behalf of the airlines?
– It is not a threat. However, I know that those in control of the airlines are sensible people, and it does not seem likely that they will take the Government’s proposals lying down. They know that in most instances in which people have been game enough to take this Government to court they have won, because Australian and British justice is of a kind that ignores political considerations. As I have said, there is a very dangerous association between the policy of this Government and the policy of the Communists, and the efforts of the Communists will be encouraged by legislation of this kind. The people of Australia, apparently, will have to accept this legislation in spite of the verdict which they gave at the recent referendum. It behoves every responsible Australian who believes in British fair play, and in the democratic way of life, to see that the majority decision of the people is respected in the framing of legislation which will affect this and succeeding generations.
– In my opinion, the Government is making a political “grab”. I see no justification for its decision to nationalize or socialize the interstate airlines of Australia. If the private companies had not provided an efficient service, had made excessive profits or had been regarded by the people with suspicion, the Government might have been able to justify exercising some measure of control over them. But that is not the position. The private airlines in Australia hold the world record for reliability, adherence to schedules, and freedom from accident. This is not an ordinary business in which the Government can profitably intervene. The successful conduct of air services requires immediate decisions, the acceptance of an element of risk, and an adventurous spirit. Those qualifications are not to be found in the Public Service. It is not the responsibility of public servants to take the risks that are associated with the development of airlines. For those reasons I contend that the Government is pursuing a course which must retard the development of civil aviation in Australia for half a century. During an earlier debate on this bill, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) said -
I anticipate that honorable members opposite will attack it from a political party angle.
That statement is most interesting, because this hill was conceived in a party political atmosphere. Why the Minister should endeavour to divert public attention by casting that aspersion on the Opposition, I cannot understand. In the first place, caucus directed the Government to introduce this bill. Therefore, the measure was conceived in a party political atmosphere. As numerous speakers on this side of the chamber have pointed out, the Government repudiated the solemn undertaking, given by the late Prime Minister at the last election, that the Government would not attempt to socialize industry in war-time. In addition, this bill has been introduced in complete defiance of the wishes of the people, as expressed at the referendum. However, I shall not elaborate those matters, because my colleagues have already dealt with them thoroughly.
The validity of the bill is extremely doubtful, and in all probability will be tested in the High Court. Consequently, I was interested to read the report of a speech by the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) in the Sydney Domain last Sunday. Incidentally, the accuracy of this report has been confirmed to-day by the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph. The Minister said -
We can add to the High Court-
– Order! The honorable member will not be in order in discussing the personnel of the High Court.
– I pointed out that the validity of this bill was doubtful, and would probably be tested in the High Court. After the people had rejected the Government’s referendum proposals, the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) introduced this legislation for the purpose of socializing the interstate airlines of Australia by indirect means. As the High Court will almost certainly determine whether the bill is ultra vires the Constitution, I contend that I am in order in referring to the remarks of the Minister for Transport regarding that tribunal. His observation was made in such a way as to anticipate a decision adverse to the Commonwealth. Obviously, the Minister’s words were uttered in an endeavour to influence the
High Court to give a certain decision which might be distinctly unjust.
– Does the honorable member believe that the High Court would be so influenced?
– No. But, in my opinion, the Minister attempted to influence the court, and for that reason his remarks should receive wide publicity.
– The reason why the Minister for Transport made that statement is of no concern to this committee.
– The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction claimed that the people are interested in this measure. I ask him to be more precise, and define the “ people “. Did not the late Prime Minister, on behalf of the Government, promise the people that the Government would not nationalize or socialize industry in war-time? Did not the people reject the Government’s referendum proposals? Is not the Government now endeavouring to usurp the powers which the people refused to grant to it at the referendum? Last Sunday, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) addressed some people in the Sydney Domain, and the Daily Telegraph attributed to him the following words: -
The Federal Government had been retarded in its planning for post-war years by the defeat of the referendum, and what the Governcould not achieve directly it would have to do indirectly. Mr. Rosevear said the Government had found it could nationalize the airlines and alter the banking system without legal obstacles.
Perhaps the honorable gentleman w*« thinking also of an alteration of the personnel of the High Court. Now the honorable member for Dalley holds the important office of Speaker, and is also a prominent member of caucus. When a gentleman of his standing in the Labour party declares that “what the Government could not achieve directly, it would have to do indirectly “, a’ll this talk about not socializing industry in war-time is so much poppycock. Caucus must have smiled when the late Prime Minister gave that assurance. This bill is the negation of the basic principles of democracy, arid at the next election the people will not forget that the Government repudiated its solemn promise
The former Director-General of Civil Aviation, Mr. Corbett, who was the chairman of the Inter-departmental Committee on Civil Aviation, wrote to me as follows : -
But planswere made in co-operation with the airline companies for extensive additions to the aircraft fleet and extensive new centres within 24 hours’ flying time of any other place in Australia and for daily exchange of mails by the same means. To make this possible and effective, one of the largest companies placed orders in the United States of America for over £2,000,000 worth of the most modern aircraft, for which there are prospects of some early deliveries. These plans were made in early 1943 and, of course, were placed before the Government. There ensued two years of indecision and hopeless delay, largely in the hope that the referendum would permit nationalization. As you know, this failed and at the end of 1944 the Government decided to nationalize, in spite of the people’s verdict. The whole set-up is now faced with the prospect of further delay at this critical time when orders should’ have been placed for more aircraft, and at a time when, given more vigorous and effective Ministerial action in 1043, Australia might well have met the recent international conference with her plans well in hand, and quite possibly with some potential overseas services ready for operation. However, because we could not make up our own minds, notwithstanding we had the opportunity and the means were within reach if vigorous action had been taken promptly and at the right time, the Minister went to an international air conference not knowing what his own country was going to do.
Two years of indecision and hopeless delay, in an industry which requires split-second decisions! Possibly that is one reason why Mr. Corbett’s report has not been tabled. It may also be the reason why the Government has refused to table the report of the inter-departmental committee, which consisted of some of the most influential departmental heads ever assembled to carry out an inquiry.
– Order ! The hon orable member’s time has expired, but, as no other honorable member has risen, he may take advantage of the second period permitted under the Standing Orders.
– Perhaps the committee revealed in its report matters of such importance that, in the face of it, no government would have dared to introduce this proposal. In the cold words of the Chairman of the committee, we have a statement that the Minister had to go to the International Air Conference “ not knowing what his own country was going to do “. After two years of indecision and delay, the Government acted against the recommendations of its competent advisers. That is why we are opposed to the socialization of the air transport industry. We cannot permit the dead hand of government to bear down upon it. Elasticity is necessary in such an organization. Airways are not like the Commonwealth railways service, in which it does not really matter whether schedules are maintained or not. Civil aviation cannotbe compared with such undertakings as the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers, which sustained a loss of about £6,650,000 during the last war, the Queensland government-controlled industries, which sustained a loss from 1915 to 1929 of about £4,447,000, or the State industries of New South Wales, where the dockyard sustained a loss of about £400,000. The airlines industry is modern and vital, and we cannot afford to take chances with it. It must have the maximum of efficiency. Even at this late hour, the Government should heed our representations. If inefficiency creeps into the organization, and if preference is to be given to Government supporters in making appointments within the organization, this Government will have an experience similar to that of the Roosevelt Administration in America when it adopted tactics like those now being employed. I recall travelling on the Commonwealth trans-continental railway, when the engine had breakdown after breakdown and finally had to be replaced by a locomotive from Forrest, causing the train to be stranded overnight. That is characteristic of government control. The result would not be so free from tragedy if an aircraft broke down. The safety of airline services is of major importance. Without efficient control of the industry, the Government would experience endless trouble and would finally reap a whirlwind which would sweep it to destruction.
Many statements have been made by Ministers and their supporters regarding the Government’s expenditure of money for development of air services. Recently I visited a long chain of airfields, and I was impressed by the failure of the Government to construct modern all-weather runways. I also noticed the types of buildings on the aerodromes, and the only modern structures which I saw had been built by private airline companies. Government statements have implied that the development of airfields and installations is the responsibility of the airline companies. It would be just as foolish to claim that dockyards and other shipping facilities should be provided by the shipping companies, or that roadways should be built by motorists. The Government has an obligation to provide landing fields and other essential installations for the carriage of passengers and freight, and to provide for safety and the maintenance of schedules. Private enterprise has proved itself to be capable of satisfying such demands, but, wherever Government interference occurs, schedules are interrupted, the costs to the unfortunate taxpayer mount, general inefficiency and bungling occur, and chaos is the ultimate result. I ask the Minister to withdraw this appropriation in the interests of the efficient operation of our air services.
.- The proposed expenditure of millions of pounds to nationalize airlines is quite unnecessary at this time, when taxation should be reduced and governmental controls should be eased. Australian aviation will suffer a great setback as the result of the Government’s action. I say this by virtue of my long experience of aviation. Does the Government pretend that the airline companies are inefficient? They are not. Having travelled recently on American airlines, I say that Australian services are equally as good although America has had more experience of air transport than’ any other nation. As further evidence of the efficiency of our air services, I refer to the report issued by the Department of Civil Aviation for the year 1940-41. It states -
The regular airline services have been continued on all main routes and oversea routes during the war, notwithstanding that a large number of the civil aircraft have been taken over for Royal Australian Air Force use entirely. This maintenance of air communication on all main routes has enabled mails to bo expedited and those engaged in war-time activities to be transported without loss of time. Both these services have been a valuable contribution to the war effort . . . Not withstanding this pressure it says much for the organization of the civil companies and the skill and care of the pilots that not a single accident involving death or serious injury has occurred on any regular airline route for the second year in succession, and during this year over 67,000,000 passenger miles have been flown. This in itself is a valuable contribution to flying morale and sets a standard of achievement.
Some Ministers and supporters of the Government have said that the Government proposes to take control of civil aviation because the industry is becoming monopolistic.
– So it is.
– I thought that the Minister, who has become airminded lately, would have more knowledge of the facts than to say that. I exploded that fallacy last night, when I cited the names of small airline operators who were given their contracts by the Lyons Government because it definitely did not want air services to become monopolistic. Unlike railways, which run on fixed routes, air service charters can be cancelled and given to other companies if there is any fear of a monopoly occurring. This Government seeks to excuse its socialistic misdeeds on a pretext, which, as it is well aware, has no foundation. It proposes to give into the hands of the Commonwealth the worst form of monopoly - a government monopoly. No government undertaking can be as efficient as private enterprise. The Minister was unfair enough, during his speech on the second reading of the bill, to attack private enterprise and say that, had the country depended upon .private enterprise for the success of the war effort, it would have accomplished little. The president of the Associated Chamber of Manufacturers has replied to that statement in the following terms: -
The statement made by Mr. Drakeford, as reported “ but had this nation depended on private enterprise to organize the country for war, we would not have accomplished one fraction of the marvellous war effort achieved “, is a mean and misleading statement. Acknowledgments have been made by various Ministers, frequently and emphatically, of the value they place on the organizing work carried out by representatives of private industry as Controllers and Directors of War Departments - the organization of our heavy industries for war production was in being and in process when the prospects of war were scoffed at by members of our present Government. Without the organization carried out by private enterprise, the war effort of Australia, on the scale achieved, would have presented a problem which, in all probability, would have been incapable of solution.
The Minister’s statement was in marked contrast to what the late Prime Minister (Mr,Curtin) said to a deputation of manufacturers’ representatives on the 5th February. He said -
I express the gratitude of the nation for the superb contribution which industry has made to our total war capacity … It has had the effect of enabling this country to achieve in war a degree of efficiency which we needed if we were to survive the attacks which had been made on us.
Nothing was said then about the socialization of airlines.
Railway minds have dealt with this subject. Too many members of the caucus are railwaymen. It is no exaggeration to say that about half a dozen Ministers are ex-railwaymen. The difference between railways and air services is as marked as the difference between a horse and jinker and a railway service. To-day, it takes seventeen and a half hours to travel by rail from Melbourne to Canberra, whereas the Atlantic can be flown from east to west in seventeen hours, and from west to east in less than half that time, on account of the favorable winds. One can fly from Australia to New Zealand and hack again in the time which it takes us to travel from Melbourne to Canberra.
– That is making it too hot.
– I travelled on the first trip to New Zealand in ten hours, and the passage can now be made in about seven hours each way. That shows how unenlightened Ministers are on the subject of air transport.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to deal with the appropriation.
– The Government proposes to expend money to buy up airline companies, to ground aircraft, and to bring us down to a “ railway “ state of mind. I suppose that eventually air transport will come under the management of the Minister for Transport, who is at the moment talking about the standardization of railway gauges. There is no break of gauge with airline services.
Instead of expending millions of pounds on this project, the Government should be concentrating on improving facilities for air services in Australia.
– We shall do both.
– It cannot be done under government management. In 1938, I was told in Holland that the K.L.M. company intended to bring into operation by 1941 a three-day air service from Amsterdam to Melbourne. That could be done even in those days by travelling day and night. The service would have been inaugurated if the war had not intervened. The Government must be blind to the potentialities of air transport, even after 42 years of aviation. It should realize that, before many years have passed, it will be possible to fly to London in a day. Apparently, no member of the Government has sufficient imagination to appreciate that fact.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to refer to the appropriation before the committee.
– Had anybody entertained any doubts as to the real reasons for the Government’s proposals, they would have been resolved last night by the Prime Minister’s comments. The right honorable gentleman came in at the end of the debate on the second reading of the bill and said that the Government was very proud of its scheme.
– Hear, hear !
– And his docile team applauded him. The Government proposes to operate the airlines in competition with the railway services. Don Quixote’s assault on the windmills was no more fantastic than the Government’s proposal. The railway service between Canberra and Goulburn is unlike any other service that I know, except, perhaps, in parts of Bulgaria and Turkey. The train totters along that line at the rate of approximately 15 miles an hour, including all stops. Leaving Canberra at 9 p.m., it reaches Yass, only 30 miles away, at 1 o’clock in the morning. That is the sort of muddling that will occur in the airline services, which are so efficient to-day, if the Government takes control of them.
– Why did not the honorable gentleman do something in regard to the matter when he was aMinister?
– The Government in which I had a place made possible civil aviation as it exists to-day and conserved the interests of the small man whom the present Government intends to ruin. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) said last night that the Government, if it had the power, would operate intra-state as well as interstate airlines.
– That is right.
– I am glad to have that admission. The intention is to ruin the little man in civil aviation. Not one honorable member opposite has a brain big enough to appreciate the significance of what is being done. Their sole idea is socialistic dogma. Anything more stupid could not be imagined. Socialism did not begin in this century, but was tried by tyrants and fools years ago. Australia has airlines that are equal to any in the world, but probably its airports are the worst. A few weeks ago there was a tragic aircraft crash at Mascot. The expenditure of one-half of the proposed appropriation would provide Sydney, the third city in the Empire, with the best airport that could be constructed.
– Mascot is not a bad airport.
– It is too small. I have landed on it, on aircraft of all types, on many occasions. The helicopter and the autogyro are in the embryonic stage. In passenger transport the trend is towards bigger aircraft. Before long aircraft carrying 100 passengers will be flying to Australia.
– That will happen when this bill has been passed.
– Australia will be bypassed because there will be no airport at which they could land. If the great city of Sydney wants to be still on the map, it must have an airport appropriate to its importance, and not depend on its medieval railway system. If the runway is not long enough, the most hazardous moment is when an aircraft is taking off. Should an engine fail during the take-off, the aircraft cannot turn back, but must land in the direction in which it is facing, otherwise it will crash.
– If the honorable member does not deal with the proposed appropriation, I shall have to ask him to resume his seat.
– The money that is to be wasted on the purchase of airlines would be better expended in providing the principal cities of Australia with good airports, thus avoiding accidents such as now occur. When the ancients thought that the world was flat, they imagined there was a region where the sea cascaded into space. The Government still believes that aviation is confined to the air over Australia. There is an uncharted air world in the international sphere. The Government should consider the future of the thousands of young members of aircrews who are now leaving the Royal Australian Air Force and looking for rehabilitation. It should not waste money in this way, but should engage the best expert assistance with a view to deciding by what means Australia can be given airports similar to the principal airport in Holland, the La Guardia airport in New York, and other airports at which huge aircraft can land.
– I regret that the Government has found it necessary to introduce an appropriation for the purchase of airlines. The cost of acquiring interstate airlines willbe approximately £10,000,000. If the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) were to devote that money to the development of practical research stations throughout Australia, our population would be increased by 1,000,000 persons, all of whom would be placed in a thriving condition. The expenditure will he wasted when devoted to this purpose, particularly in view of the excellent service we are receiving at the present time. The Government seems to have the “ jitters “, if we are to judge by sentiments expressed by the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) in the Sydney Domain last Sunday. The honorable gentleman is reported to have said that the courts must not flout the people’s will.
– He was misreported.
– The honorable member is not in order in referring to any statement in relation to the High Court that might have been made by the
Minister for Transport. The constitution of the High Court has no connexion with this measure.
– But it does arise out of the powers referendum. The people then voted against the nationalization or socialization of airlines. They would not trust the Government to operate intra-state airways; therefore, the appropriation cannot embrace all airlines, as the Government would wish. The Constitution is clear on the point. The intention of the Government is to deprive shipping companies and private persons of any interest they may have obtained in airline companies that have given a service that is unsurpassed elsewhere. Rates and fares for air transport are lower, and the charge for the air-mail service is cheaper and covers a wider area than in any other country. I hope that the Government will yet realize that the will of the people must prevail, and that those who have developed this service will be permitted to continue it. The Government should devote its attention to the many utilities which, to-day, are starved by lack of attention and money, and give to land transport generally, what is essential. The railway systems should be modernized. Road transport should be developed, airfields should be improved, and harbour and wharfage facilities should be increased. Those who have established air services from which Australia has derived so much advantage should be encouraged to place themselves in a position to compete with overseas interests in air ‘ transport to and from Australia. Governments in Australia have never been able to compete successfully with the great overseas shipping companies in the transport of passengers, goods or mails. The airline companies have been anticipating trade developments and they should receive all possible encouragement in extending the services which they are well qualified to provide. Large sums have already been expended by the private companies in providing for services on the lines desired by the Government, and it is unnecessary to authorize the appropriation of public funds for services upon the provision of which the private airline operators have already laid out money. The Government could expend public money to better advantage in many other directions, particularly in the provision of the houses of which the people stand sorely in need. The Government would not be justified in depriving the airline companies of their business because they have made a success of it. If the Government persists in its present proposals, it will probably make a failure of the undertaking. In every respect the air transport industry is already under close government control. It is controlled up to the point at which the planes become airborne. The Parliament should not appropriate money to enable the companies to be deprived of their industry.
.- The money proposed to be appropriated could be expended in many better ways than in establishing and operating airlines under government control. The Government could, for instance, subsidize air transport to great advantage, in view of the fact that many of the difficulties of people in the outback parts of Australia art due largely to transport difficulties. If air fares were subsidized to enable the present companies to make a substantial reduction of the rates charged for air travel, great benefit to Australia would result.
The people generally have few opportunities to visit other parts of the world, and the people of Great Britain have insufficient opportunities to visit Australia. If the fare by air between Australia and Great Britain were about £20, instead of £200, which was the rate prevailing before the war, a large number of Australians would be able to afford to travel overseas by air. The man in the street would then have an opportunity to go abroad, and the contacts thus made would lead to improved intra-Empire and international understanding. Persons overseas who may contemplate migrating to Australia often abandon the idea because they regard the venture as too hazardous; but, if low fares for air travel operated, they could make quick trips to this country in order to decide whether to remove their families to Australia. Therefore, the adoption of my suggestion that the Government should subsidize the airline companies, to enable low fares to be charged, would promote migration. More aircraft could be employed than at present, and thus employment could be found for the many young pilots who would be available to assist in the operation of the increased services which could be provided. The encouragement of tourist traffic between Australia and overseas countries would be preferable to buying out the private undertakings which are already under rigid government control. This supervision already applies to air routes, stopping-places, fares and freights’, time-tables, frequency of services, rates paid to companies for the carriage of mails, safety of aircraft, training of crews, flying operations, air navigation, and, in fact, everything having to do with discipline and control. The airline operators could not be regulated to any greater degree than at present. Money could be expended to great advantage in the improvement of airports, but, merely to give effect to a political dogma, the Government is prepared to waste the money of the taxpayers in purchasing the interests of the companies now providing the service.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and - by leave - adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 19th July (vide page 4281), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– There is nothing in the bill to which the Opposition takes exception. It is purely a machinery measure containing certain amendments to the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1915- 1943, to. provide for the widening of the exemption from- stamp duty now applying to Commonwealth loans; alteration of the conditions of acceptance of national savings stamps in payment of loan subscriptions; and facilitating the transfer of stock held on account of estates of deceased persons. Opportunity is also being taken to eliminate certain unnecessary provisions in the principal act, and to make minor amendments which experience has shown to be desirable. Exemption from stamp duty is already given by section 52a of the act to documents relating to the purchase, transfer or transmission of Commonwealth securities, but documents relating to the conversion or redemption of securities are not accorded this protection.
Provision is also made for documents, cheques and drafts relating to the payment of interest to be exempted from stamp duty. Where payment of interest is made by Commonwealth cheque, payment of stamp duty does not arise; but where Commonwealth securities are lodged with the trading banks for safe custody, arrangements are made for the banks to pay the interest on the securities on behalf of the Commonwealth. It is obviously unfair that drafts and other documents used by the banks in making such payments should be liable to stamp duty. The amendment of section 52a is necessary to give the full exemption from stamp duty which was always intended to be given in respect of such transactions. The bill- is of such a nature, and the amendments are so desirable, that the Opposition advances no objection to its speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 19th July (vide page 4282), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
, - This bill provides for tie making of certain amendments to the National Debt Sinking Fund Act in accordance with legislation already passed. Two points deserve comment. The proposed amendment provided for in clause 4 will validate the practice which has been followed for years of calculating sinking-fund payments on overseas debt in Australian currency. It is surprising that so much time has elapsed without validating this practice, which is apparently contrary to the original intention when the legislation was passed. The second point refers to the position of certain of the States under -this legislation. It is opportune to call attention to the fact that some of the States have been the greatest war profiteers. They are in a very good financial position, mainly as a result of Commonwealth war expenditure. It is anomalous that the Commonwealth should be paying large sums in interest to these States, which have invested their cash surpluses, to the tune of millions of pounds, in war loans. At the same time, the Commonwealth has ‘ been extremely generous to the same States in regard to their sinking-fund payments, as I pointed out when discussing this matter in December last. I believe that there should be a complete review of the financial arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States, including the provision for the reimbursement of the States in connexion with the uniform tax provisions. At present, there are many anomalies, and injustice is being suffered by the poorer States, whilst the richer States are being treated overgenerously. The poorer States, in effect, have their revenue pegged, and have not prospered from war expenditure in the same way as have some of the other States. There is nothing in the bill itself to which objection can he taken, as it is purely a machinery measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Lazzarini) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the National Debt Sinking Fund Act 1923-1934.
Resolution reported, and - by leave - adopted.
Bill read a third time.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1945 - Nos. 42 and 43 - Australian Journalists’ Association.
National Security Act - National Security ( General ) Regulations - Order - Evacuation of area.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinance - 1945 - No. 5 - Medical Practitioners Registration.
House adjourned at 4.52 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
National Security (Land Transfer) Regulations for consent to purchase land, though it is still necessary for aliens and also British subjects to obtain consent of the Treasury under the National Security (Economic Organization) Regulations. 2, 3 and 4. It is not possible, without an examination of each of about 7,000 files to give the information asked for in these questions. About twelve months ago, however, a careful dissection was made of the applications received during the twelve months ended the 30th September, 1944. I append particulars of this dissection. These particulars may, I think, be regarded as fairly typical of the applications received over the whole period from 7th October, 1941, to 30th June, 1945 - except insofar as they relate to refugee aliens, a class first dealt with on 28th October, 1942.
Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ : Waste of Newsprint.
Mr.Forde. - With regard to the question asked by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) concerning the supplement called “ Week for Women “ issued by the Sydney Daily Telegraph, the Minister for Trade and Customs has advised that the newsprint rationing scheme does not go so far as to lay down a policy to be adopted by newspaper proprietors in selecting matter to be published by them. The principal conditions which apply when a newsprint allocation is granted to a newspaper proprietor are that it shall be used in the production of the newspaper and shall not be exceeded. If the subscribers to the Daily Telegraph take the same view of this supplement as the honorable member, I would not say that it will be a great success. After all, newspaper pro prietors cannot afford to publish matter which has no attractions for their subscribers.
n asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y. -On the 24th July, the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) asked me a question regarding the number of Commonwealth-owned ships which are being operated on behalf of the Commonwealth Government by Australian shipping companies, and the remuneration received by the companies for their services. I referred the honorable member’s question to the Minister for Supply and Shipping, who has supplied the following answer : -
Eight of the river-class ships constructed to the order of the Commonwealth Government are now in commission. These vessels are under the control of the Commonwealth Government Ships Chartering Committee. The committee operates the vessels on behalf of the Commonwealth through Australian shipping companies, which act as owner’s agents, and attend to such matters as victualling, crew, Ac. They are paid a fee of £1,000 per annum for these services. An agency fee of £10 10s. per port is also payable for each Australian port at which vessels call other than the home port. For calls at overseas ports, agency fees prescribed by the Institute of Chartered Ship Brokers are payable.
In addition, commission is paid for loading of cargo, varying according to the type of cargo, from a fixed fee of £10 10s. for loading a cargo of coal or coke, to 2½ per cent. on freight for general cargo. Fees for discharging cargo also vary according to the type of cargo, and the number of ports at which cargo is discharged.
In addition to the above vessels, there is one small coastal vessel which has been acquired by the Commonwealth by purchase from the owners, and which is being operated on the coast by the Shipping Control Board through a shipping company which acts as agent. The agents are paid a fee of 6 per cent. on freight earnings, this fee covering their remuneration both for the management of the ship and the handling of cargo.
Some other coastal vessels, which were Acquired originally for use by the services, may shortly be released for commercial employment, and these vessels will also be operated by the Shipping Control Board through agents.
Commonwealth Departments : New Establishments; Accommodation in Capital Cities.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice - 1. (a) How many Commonwealth Government departments have been created and established since the 1st January, 1942? (b) What are the names or titles of these departments ? 2. (a) What was the number on the staff of each of these departments on the 30th June, 1943? (b) What was the number on the 30th June, 1945?
y. - The information is being obtained, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable member as soon as possible.
asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
What was the rented space occupied for office purposes in each capital city for: (a) Defence services; (b) the Department of Post-war Reconstruction ; (c) other civilian departments, at the 30th June, 1945, compared with the 30th June, 1944, and the 31st December, 1944?
i. - This is a matter for the Minister for the Interior, who is obtaining the desired information.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
r asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers : - 1 and 2. Representations for coupon assistance to traders were recently made to the Rationing Commission who have now established a more generous basis for giving assist ance, providing relative information given by the trader concerned justifies assistance Publicity to this effect has been given through trade journals.
e.- On the 26th July the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly) asked whether the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner had approved an increase of rates for classified advertisements appearing in the whole or part of the metropolitan daily press of the Commonwealth. I have since conferred with the Minister for Trade and Customs and ascertained that one newspaper has been permitted an increase of rates, and that the Prices Commissioner’s approval followed a full investigation of all necessary data.
Australian Army: RELEASES.
– On the 28th June, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) raised on the adjournment the matter of calling up youths of eighteen, and in particular, one Ewin Hambley. I have had inquiries made into this case and now supply the following information for the honorable member: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 August 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1945/19450801_reps_17_184/>.