17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Issue of Assessments
– I ask the Trea-surer to say whether- income tax assessments were, held back prior to the end. of the financial year ended the. 30th June last, because receipts from tax were £15,000^000 in- excess of the budget estimate ; whether cheques for large amounts, forwarded to the ‘Commissioner of Taxation after the 18th June, 1945, were not banked until after the 1st July; and” whether the tax returnable from income earned during, the’ taxation year in question was largely in excess of the £15,000,000 announced, as being in excess of the budget estimate ? If so,, can it be assumed that there is a real and, as yet, undisclosed reason for a- substantial reduction of income tax rates- in respect of. income earned during the present financial year?
– I have no knowledge of any ‘ suggestion that income- tax assessment’s should be held back. The complaint usually is against their having been’ issued. As Treasurer, I have, not given any such instruction, and I should not imagine, that the Commissioner of Taxation would endeavour to withhold any assessment which normally should go out. Because of the greatly increasednumber of taxpayers who have come within the jurisdiction of the Commissioner, for. taxing purposes during the last two years, and a. very much reduced staff, it has been most difficult for the Taxation Department to deal promptly with all assessments, protests and appeals. I am confident that physical incapacity to act otherwise would be the sole reason if anything of the nature suggested had been done.
– But a cheque paid in. on. the. 18th June was not presented’ to the bank for collection until after the 1st July!
– It may be that all cheques received did not reach the bank before the end of June because the assessments had not been dealt with or the letters had not been opened.
– But from the 18th June to the 1st July I
– I am merely saying, that that was possible. I have neitherinstructed nor requested that assessments’ shall be withheld. The honorable member knows that, under the law I cannot instruct the Commissioner of Taxation in such- a matter; and I would not attempt to- do so; I shall have a detailed reply to- the questions prepared.
Inaccurate, Press Report op Speech.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. The Sydney Morning Herald has to-day published aninaccurate report of a speech’ that I madeyesterday on the subject of migration.. It has reported me as having said -
The best type of immigrants were alienchildren from’ alien countries.
Later, I am reported to have said -
The best type of immigrants were alien children’ from alien countries ; they grow up tobe good Australians.
The Hansard report of my speech reads- -
I agree that if Australia is to embark’ on an extensive scheme it will have to take risks in. admitting- certain aliens into this country.
And later -
The Minister attached special significance to the fact that we must endeavour to bring to Australia children from the war devastated portions of Europe. I agree with him that children would make the best possible migrants.
I did not say “ alien children “. I take strong exception to the inaccurate report published by the Sydney Morning Herald.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House of the result of the negotiations recently conducted with representatives of the Government of Great Britain regarding the disposal of surplus wool held by that Government, and also as to any agreement reached concerning the marketing of future Australian clips on- the cessation of the present arrangement for their purchase by the British Government? Is it a fact that details of the negotiations have already been disclosed to certain woolgrowers’ organizations?
– As I have previously stated, the delegates from the Dominions met representatives of the Government of Great Britain with regard to the disposal of, not only surplus wool held by Great Britain to the total value of about £200,000,000, but also future clips coming on to the market concurrently with the surplus wool. The Australian representatives were Mr. Murphy, Secretary to the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, and Mr. Macfarlane, Secretary to the Treasury, representing the Commonwealth Government, and Mr. Justice Owen, Chairman of’ the Central Wool Committee. Accompanying the delegation as advisers were Messrs. Cowdery and Hitchins, representing the two woolgrowers’ organizations, and Mr. IT. W. Yeo, executive member of the Central Wool Committee, who was assisting Mr. Justice Owen. A proposed agreement was drawn up and I understand that it has the approval of the representatives of the woolgrowers. The agreement has been submitted to the Commonwealth Government, and the governments of the other Dominions have intimated their approval -of it. Some delay has occurred during the last week or two in finalizing the agreement with the Government of the United Kingdom, owing no doubt to the change of government in Great Britain and other causes. I hope to be in a position to make a statement to the House on the matter this evening. All of the papers relating to the subject, including copies of the proposed agreement, will be circulated amongst honorable members, and an opportunity will be given to them to study the papers before any proposed legislation is introduced.
Report op Public WORKS Committee.
– As Chairman, I present the report, with minutes of evidence, of the Public Works Committee on the following subject: -
Ordered that the report be printed.
– Can the Prime Minister give the House any information regarding the immediate effects on the economies of Great Britain and Australia of the sudden termination of lend-lease arrangements ? Will he say whether co-operative action is being taken by the member countries of the British Empire to meet one another’s difficulties thus created? In particular, will he say what action Australia is taking regarding meat allocated for the United States forces as a part of our reciprocal obligation under lend-lease, but now urgently required by the people of Great Britain ?
– The position, as announced in the press, is that the Government of the United States of America has announced that, from a certain date, lend-lease arrangements will be terminated. I understand that this will create very serious financial difficulties for the United Kingdom, and it will undoubtedly have some effect on our own position in regard to imports from the dollar area. As I stated on a previous occasion, dollars that came to the Australian Government during the war were sold to the Government of the United Kingdom in an endeavour to help that country to meet its great commitments. I cannot tell the honorable member just what are the financial commitments of the Government of the United Kingdom in regard to dollars, and I can give only approximate figures regarding orders already placed by Australia in the United States. For the present, it would be somewhat premature to make a general statement on the subject.
– I suggest that it should be done only after consultation with the Government of the United Kingdom.
– The administration of reciprocal aid fell to me as Treasurer, and our contribution under this heading for the benefit of the American forces in the South-West Pacific amounted to about £250,000,000 sterling.
– What is the present balance?
– It is hard toarrive at an estimate owing to the varying purchasing power of the $1 as compared with the £1. When I am able to arrive at an approximate figure I shall announce it. The Government of the United States gave to the United Kingdom, and to the other Allied Nations, and particularly to ourselves, very great assistance at a time when help was badly needed. I realize that, sooner or later, some adjustment will have to be made regarding goods supplied by the United States to other countries under lendlease, but I wasrather surprised that the announcement terminating the arrangement should have been made so abruptly, if I may put it in that way. I had hoped that there would have been consultations with the idea, either of tapering off the system, or of arriving at some satisfactory arrangement regarding goods already on. order. I shall not go further into the details of the matter, because honorable members have themselves read the announcement issued by the Government of the United States. The Commonwealth Government is alive to the need for action, and I and Senator Keane, the Minister in charge of the Division of Import Procurement which deals with lend-lease, who have been handling arrangements regarding reciprocal aid, have closely watched the requisitions made in America. They have been reduced wherever possible, and will be further reduced.
– Is the Government doing anything to help Great Britain?
– We shall co-operate with the Government of the United Kingdom in negotiations that will take place within the next week or two with the Government of the United States. About six weeks ago, I arranged for the Director of Import Procurement, who administers lend-lease, to go abroad. He is at present in the United States, where he will examine the position thoroughly, and will confer with the authorities there regarding the adjustments which will have to be made.
Mr.CONELAN.- In view of the cessation of hostilities, is the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping in a position to make a statement to the House regarding rubber and petrol supplies, and the possibility of easing the restrictions in the near future ?
– by leave- The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following statement in connexion with the rationing of tyres for motor vehicles: -
Immediately peace appeared likely action was taken by the Department of Supply and Shipping to instruct tyre manufacturers to divertproduction from military to civilian tyres. In the meantime heavy cancellations have been made by the services, and military programmes have been curtailed accordingly. The first two objectives of tyre control will be-
To increase existing civilian quotas for distribution to a wider range of essential motor vehicle owners;
Gradually to build up stocks of tyres (now at dangerously low levels) with a view to releasing control gradually as sufficient stocks can be placed on location with tyre dealers throughout the Commonwealth. This objective may take some time to attain and depends mainly on -
The supply position in respect of raw materials; and
How quickly additional manpower can be made available to the industry. Similarly, tractor tyres and tube quotas in each State will be increased as production expands.
All service departments are making an immediate review of their stocks with a view to eliminating any special reserves no longer required and returning them to industry. Many thousands of surplus army tyres have already been released and distributed to essential transport users.
Urgent attention is being given to the possibility of increasing the production of retreading materials, with the object of removing the control as soon as practicable, to enable private motor vehicle owners to obtain retread recaps and repair facilities. Again, this depends on the supply of raw materials and the availability of man-power. The public may be assured that the Government will do everything within its power to retrieve the tyre situation as speedily as possible. However, it must be remembered that stocks are low, and that there are tens of thousands of vehicles with some degree of essentiality which are without cither new tyres or retreads. Until these requirements can be met, it will be impossible to supply tyres to private motorists.
I am not yet in a position to say what supplies of raw materials can be obtained from islands which will soon be re-occupied by Allied forces. Central control of raw materials in Washington is still in existence, and doubtless will continue for a limited period, in order that their distribution throughout the world may be made on an equitable basis. Yesterday, I informed the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Smith) that whereas previously there was a shortage of tankers a new problem had arisen in connexion with dollar exchange.
– Order ! The Minister is not obliged to answer the interjector.
– This matter has been the subject of an exchange of notes between the Governments of the Commonwealth, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Although at this stage it is difficult to say what the result of the negotiations will be, the Government is doing its best in the circumstances.
Releases - Demobilization
– The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction said yesterday that the release from the forces of men required to prepare jobs for others still in the forces would be accelerated and that thedischarge of men vital to defence might be deferred. Would it be possible to establish an authority to examine applications for the release of men in the first category in order that they might be released at the earliest possible moment? One man was refused permission to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force because he was in an essential service in that he was controlling certain building activities. He managed to enlist in the Royal Australian Air Force in 1942, and has had only three years’ service. So, on the points system, his discharge may be considerably delayed although he is essential to the carrying out of the housing programme. He would have had six years’ service had he been allowed to enlist when he first tried. An authority to examine the cases of men needed to prepare for the employment of others would be most useful.
– That matter does not require consideration now, because general demobilization will not begin until the 1st October next. Meanwhile, the man-power authorities and service authorities in combination will deal with all applications for the release of individual members of the forces. Consideration will be given to the setting up of an authority on the lines suggested by the right honorable gentleman after the general demobilization has begun.
– I understand that the scheme which the Government has in mind for the demobilization of service personnel divides personnel into certain categories and accords priorities in respect of length of service, age, number of dependants, &c. Without prejudice to anything which has been decided by the Government in this matter, or the basic principles that underlay the scheme, I ask what reason - if reason pervades the matter at all - exists for refusing the discharge of men who are anxious to return to their former occupations and whose employers are ready to receive them? Many of these cases have come to my notice, just as they have come to the notice of every other honorable member. If a man, prior to his enlistment, was employed by a certain firm, or engaged in a particular trade or profession, and the employer is willing to re-engage him and he is prepared to accept the position, why cannot he be discharged forthwith?
– The honorable member for Wentworth asked a similar question yesterday, and it would require a lengthy answer to satisfy the right honorable member for North Sydney. The White Paper on the demobilization of the Australian defence forces, which was laid on the table of the House yesterday, outlines the general plan, and at a later stage, I assume, this subject will be debated. In the meantime, I inform the right honorable gentleman that the Government considers that it would be most unfair to allow a man who has served for only a short period, has no family responsibilities and enlisted at a comparatively young age, to obtain his discharge in preference to an individual who served for a long . period and lias family responsibilities.
– Why not discharge both classes?
– The number who will be demobilized during any given period will bc limited by transport facilities and other considerations.
– Does that apply to ser- vice personnel in Australia ?
– Yes. Within the limits of those physical conditions, the maximum number possible will be discharged during any given period. This subject has received a great deal of consideration not only in Australia, but also in the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and we have had the benefit of the experience of demobilization in Great Britain after the last war, when large numbers of men had to be discharged under conditions similar to those now existing in this country. After the last war the British Government endeavoured to implement a scheme of demobilization having regard to the occupations in which personnel desired to engage and which, from the standpoint of the civil community, were the most urgent. Great Britain adopted that principle, instead of the principle of discharge according to age on enlistment, length of service and family responsibilities, and the system caused considerable trouble. All I can say at the moment is that the Government desires the demobilization of service personnel to proceed as quickly as possible in accordance with the principles outlined in the White Paper, unless circumstances arise in future which demonstrate that the plan should be amended.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for the Army given consideration to the release of members of the Australian forces who are serving sentences for having been absent without leave? If not, will ho immediately give sympathetic consideration to the release of these men, who include farmers, business men and skilled and unskilled labourers?
– The proposal will be examined, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable member as soon as possible.
– In view of the termination of the war, will the Minister for Labour and National Service arrange for the early release from the services of experienced rural workers to assist primary producers throughout Australia in their efforts to maintain food production? Will he also make arrangements for the early release of experienced men, such a? shearers and stack builders, who will be required in the near .future?
PROPOSED Brochure - Consolidating Legislation - Widows’ Pensions.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services confer with his colleague on the issue of a brochure setting out briefly all the social services available in Australia in order that the difficulties and confusion about social services in the minds of many people may be ended?
– It was decided eighteen months or two years ago to introduce legislation consolidating all the social service measures brought down by this Government and other governments since federation, and to publish a compendium of social services for distribution to honorable members and to members of the public requiring it. The work was begun, but, like other jobs, it has been hung up by the lack of manpower in the Department of Social Services and the shortage of legal draftsmen.
I shall ascertain from the department exactly what stage was reached in the compilation and let the honorable gentleman know.
– Recently, all pensions but widows’ pensions were increased by this Parliament. All the reasons for increasing the other pensions apply equally to widows’ pensions.
– Order ! The honorable member may not debate the question.
– Will the Treasurer assure me that the budget will contain provision for increasing the rate of widows’ pensions in proportion to the increases of other pension rates to which 1 have referred?
– The matter of an increase of the rate of widows’ pensions has been raised by a number of honorable members on the Government side, particularly the Chairman of the Social Security Committee, the honorable member for Bass. When the rates of invalid, old-age and service pensions were increased, those honorable members - and, perhaps, some honorable members opposite joined in the request - urged me to ask Cabinet to consider an increase of the rate of widows’ pensions. About two months ago I gave the undertaking to members of the ministerial party that as soon as the opportunity offered the rate of widows’ pensions would be reviewed. I have made that review, and hope to submit proposals to Cabinet at a very early date.
– I preface a question which I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping regarding the acute shortage of bitumen in South Australia by reading the following extract from a letter which I have received from the ‘City Engineer and Surveyor of Unley, Mr. F. S. Rogers:–
Each month the councils have had to make application to the Department of Supply and Shipping for their requirements of emulsion, and for August I made application on behalf of the Unley City Council for 40 drums of emulsion (colasmix) und was granted five drums. For September, I made application for a similar quantity and have been informed that no shipment of bitumen was expected until the middle of September and that they had not received a shipment since October, 1044.. They also stated that they doubted whether we would get any more than five drums as this was being allowed from the Commissioner of Highways stocks and advised making no further application for bitumen until the middle of September.
Can the Minister give me any information on this matter? If the facts are as set out by Mr. Rogers, will he take steps to see that South Australia receives a larger quota of bitumen?
– The Supply Department advises me that bitumen, all supplies of which we import, has been under control since 1942, and supplies have been largely directed to defence purposes. In South Australia, supplies have been mainly under the control of the Highways and Local Government Departments. It appears that those departments are aware of the inequality of distribution, and recently took steps to make more supplies available to local government, bodies. I am advised that a shipment of 400 tons is scheduled to arrive in Adelaide in September, to be followed by a shipment of 1,600 tons due to arrive in October or November.
Oil FROM Coal: German PROCESS
– When the late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, attended the Imperial Conference in London early last year, he was promised that the process which Germany had evolved for the extraction of oil from coal would be made available to the Allied Nations. I ask the Prime Minister to inform me what progress, if any, has been made towards obtaining the formula for Australia?
– This matter was referred to yesterday by the honorable member for Moreton and has been raised on several occasions by the honorable member for Hunter. A promise has already been given that should any formula such as that suggested by the honorable member be discovered, it will be available to the governments of the Allied countries. So far, there has not been any indication that a specific formula has been found. Australia has certain officers attached to British organizations and various research bodies, and they are keeping in touch with all developments in Germany to ensure that if a useful formula is discovered it will be mads available to this country.
– I draw the attention of the Minister for Works and Housing to the inability of exservicemen to obtain war service homes in certain mining cities and towns in Queensland. I have been advised by th« Minister for Repatriation that the law does not permit his department to undertake the construction of war service homes in areas to which the Queensland Mining Act and the Mining Homestead Leases Act apply. I ask the right honorable gentleman to have these tenure difficulties examined. In Gympie, for instance, the restriction applies to 70 per cent, of leases, being the greater part of the residential area, with the result that applications for war service homes in those localities are unsuccessful. I point out- that State government instrumentalities, building societies and banks, including the Commonwealth Bank, accept such land as security for home construction, and that the Mines Department of Queensland has recorded that where a State instrumentality is interested in land no forfeiture can take place under any conditions. For the protection of the Commonwealth Government, could not the same system be applied, in cooperation with the State, to permit soldiers living in those areas to enjoy the benefits of war service homes?
– The honorable member brought this matter under my notice when I was Minister for War Service Homes. I pointed out on that occasion that if an ex-serviceman had a war service home built, on a lease which was subject to the provisions of the State legislation to which the honorable member referred, and then abandoned it, all improvements would revert to the State Government, because the Commonwealth Government would not have any security nt all for the dwelling which it erected.
– The State claims that the Commonwealth would have security.
– It would not. That is why it is not the policy of the Commonwealth to build war service homes on’ mining leases, although they are built on ordinary leasehold land in Queensland.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, relating to the continued manufacture of inferior footwear. First, I should like to explain that the former practice was that the purchaser of sub-standard footwear was invited to submit it to the authorities so that the manufacturer might be prosecuted. This practice appears to have been changed. Following a conference in Melbourne a week or so ago, purchasers of substandard footwear were invited to return it to the retailers so. that they might return it to the manufacturers, who could then make necessary repairs or adjustments. As this does not appear to be a course which would strike fear into the heart of a dishonest manufacturer, will the Minister ensure that every effort will be made to prosecute and punish manufacturers of sub-standard footwear, and that there will not be a soft peace for these war criminals?
– I am not aware of any alteration of procedure in connexion with this matter since I relinquished administration of that department. The honorable member has probably based his question on a press report, which may or may not be correct. The facts can best be ascertained by referring the matter to the Minister. I shall do that. I hope that he will agree to take the course suggested.
– Is the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction yet able to make a detailed statement in regard to the manufacture of motor cars in Australia? If not, what is causing the “ hold-up “, particularly in view of the necessity to find employment for the large number of men who are being released from war factories?
– 1 am not yet able to make a statement on the matter. There is no “ hold-up “. There is nothing to prevent manufacturers of motor cars from commencing manufacture in Australia immediately, if they so desire. There may be delay if manufacturers are asking for Government assistance. In such circumstances, some time would be occupied in an investigation of the proposal and the making of a decision by theGovernment as to whether or not assistance should be granted and, if so, the terms on which it should be given.
– by leave- Yesterday, the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller ) asked me to supply details of the voting at the Fremantle by-election. The latest figuresare - Beazley 34,009; Cleland 19,880 ; Ferguson 1,273 ; Hughes 2,210; Phillips 143; Troy 1,807; informal 1,768. Votes recorded at the byelection by members of the Forces under the provisions of the Electoral (Wartime) Act, and included in those totals, are- Beazley 1,917; Cleland 513; Ferguson 97 ; Hughes 221 ; Phillips 5 ; Troy 97; informal 50. It will be noted that approximately two-thirds of the members of the Forces who voted under the Electoral (War-time) Act recorded a first preference vote in favour of the successful candidate; or, if the remaining candidates be disregarded, that the successful candidate secured nearly four times as many first preference votes from members of the Forces as were obtained by the runner-up. The number of members of the Forces who voted under the provisions of the Electoral (War-time) Act at this by-election, and whose votes have been included in the count, is 2,900. The number who voted in respect of the Division of Fremantle under that act at the general election of 1943 was 10,356.
j apanese surrender : occupation Forces - Official History.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether the strengths of the various Australian forces that are destined for occupation duties in Singapore, Japan and the South-West Pacific Area have yet been determined. If so, can he give an approximate idea of the total number that will be required? Is it proposed that these forces shall be composed of volunteers, or that there will be merely an assignment of men for this duty?
– The responsibility for the South-West Pacific Area will pass to the British and Australian commands immediately following the surrender to General MacArthur at Tokyo on Sunday. The number of troops to be allocated to specified places is a matter for discussion. At 4 p.m. to-day. a representative of the South-East Asia Command, accompanied by the Chief of the General Staff, is to be in Canberra for the purpose of a preliminary discussion with the Government. Already there has been some discussion with the Chiefs of Staff, but a final decision has yet to be made. It is estimated that approximately 80,000 men will be needed to occupy the areas that are to be specified as coming under our command in the initial stage. We wish to lay it clown as a principle that the sovereign governments of the different areas should assume responsibility for their own areas as early as possible.
– Is it estimated that the totalnumber will be 80,000, or will there have to be reinforcements in addition to that number?
– There will be 80,000 in all, because we plan that our responsibility shall diminish at the conclusion of the first, second and third phases of the occupation. We hope that the first phase will end by October. We are particularly anxious not to be committed too heavily, because we do not wish to be involved in the provisioning of enemy troops as well as the native population in the areas concerned.
– Will the number mentioned be exclusive of base establishment and lines of communication troops?
– For the time being, it will. The matter has to be closely watched, because of the effect on Australia’s internal economy. I am not able to state definitely whether all the troops will be volunteers, but I can say that the forces sent to Japan will be drawn from the 6th, 7th and 9th Divisions, and they will be volunteers. We have not reached a final determination on the other aspect mentioned by the honorable gentleman.
– Will the Minister for the Interior consider making a request to the Government of the United States of America that the official history of the war in New ‘Guinea and the SouthWest Pacific Area shall be jointly compiled by representatives of Australia and the United States?
– Mr. Gavin Long, the Australian War Historian, is already in close liaison with the American forces in connexion with the preparation of the history of Australia’s war effort in the South-West Pacific. A liaison officer is already in Manila in close contact with the American head-quarters for the purpose of dissecting information in order to record thoroughly the details of Australia’s part in the operations.
– Can the Minister for Air say whether it is correct that, because of delays in connexion with equipping No. 81 Wing of the Royal Australian Air Force with Mustang aircraft, there is no possibility of getting the wing to Japan within two months, and probably longer? Is it correct that the headquarters of the Royal Australian Air Force in Melbourne has no knowledge of how many men, if any, from No. 81 Wing have volunteered for service in Japan?
– I was not aware of what the honorable member has slated. I do not think that it is correct, but I shall have inquiries made. I assure the honorable member that my department will have all the information required.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been directed to the suggestion by Mr. Hal. Carleton, .a Sydney film executive, that Sydney should hold a world’s fair a few years hence to give Australia publicity? If so, in view of the importance of the tourist industry in the Dost-war years, and the desirability of attracting to Australia both migrant3 and industries, will the right honorable gentleman take the initiative in the matter by having preliminary discussions with his Cabinet and the governments of the States concerning the possibility of holding such a fair on a nation-wide basis so that it would be representative of every State in the Commonwealth?
– I have not read the statement to which the right honorable member has referred, but the proposal commends itself to me. I do not know how the governments of States other than New South Wales would react to the proposal, having regard to the fact that it would naturally involve a good deal of expenditure in Sydney, but I shall have the matter investigated.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral inform the House whether the National Security Act and the regulations made under it will cease to operate six months after the substantial cessation of hostilities? What is considered to be the date of the cessation of hostilities? Will it be the date of the signing of the surrender documents in Tokyo on Sunday next? Is it a fact that the act operates only under the defence power conferred by the Constitution? Since this power is no longer requisite, has the Attorney-General considered whether the act will be valid when a state of defence emergency no longer exists?
– It is not usual to deal with legal matters by answers to questions, but I think I should tell the House what is the accepted view of the departmental advisers in relation to it, because it arose at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers last week. The view accepted and acted upon is that the National Security Act continues in operation for a period of six months measured, not from the cessation of hostilities or the actual armistice, but from the termination of a state of war. All of the precedents which were created during the last war indicate that the state of war continues until a state of peace is proclaimed between the various countries concerned.
– That was not the view of the Attorney-General at the time of the recent referendum.
– The honorable member -for Fawkner is out of order !
– The honorable member is incorrect. It is true that the basis of the National Security Act is the defence power, and it is open to the Court at any time to determine whether a particular regulation is or is not within the defence power of the Commonwealth, even though authorized by the National Security Act.
-What about the act as a whole?
– It is open to the court to determine that the act itself goes beyond the defence power, but that possibility is at least a substantial period ahead. The principle behind the whole matter is that the defence power is not merely the war power, but covers some portion of the period of the unwinding of the war effort of the country. What that period may be is ultimately a matter for the determination of the court. I regret that I cannot answer in greater detail, but I think I have replied to the substance of the honorable member’s question. I shall consider whether a further statement on the matter can be made.
– It means, in effect, that if the signing of the peace is two year’s ahead, the National Security Act will continue for that period.
– Then it will be possible to challenge the validity of the act on the ground that it extendsto a period in respect of which the defence power does not authorize it. However, I am doing what I should not do by discussing a question of law in the House.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister forSupply and Shipping aware that large numbers of heavy duty farm tractors, which are urgently needed by primary producers, are immobilized? Many of the machines are new, and many others have been used only very little. In view of the fact that theyare urgently required for the harvesting of crops during the coming season, and for preparing ground at the present time, will the Minister take all possible steps to remove whatever difficulties, technical or otherwise, which stand in the way of the release of the machines?
– Some of them have been immobilized because of the shortage of the heavy duty tyres which are needed for them.
– The machines to which I refer are already fitted with tyres.
– I had in mind that, if tyres were needed for them, a special supply should be made available for the purpose. The matter of the release of immobilized tractors will be taken up with the Minister for Supply and Shipping.
– Does the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction approve of the “ freezing “ of land deemed to be suitable for soldier settlement without advising the owners concerned, so that they may know that they are not free to sell or lease the land? Is it intended to resume small holdings from those who are now working the land when those holdings are not in excess of a living a rea ?
– The Commonwealth Government has not taken any action of the kind suggested by the honorable member, and does not intend to do so.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in abill for an act to approve the Charter of the United Nations.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– byleave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to ask the Parliament to approve the Charter of the United Nations. The Charter takes the form of an agreement between governments. It was duly signed at San Francisco on behalf of no fewer than 50 nations, including Australia. The Charter comes into force when it has been ratifiedby the five States which will have permanent seats in the Security Council, and by a majority of the other 45 signatory States. In due course,
Australian ratification will be an executive act, and will bc carried out by depositing with the United States Go- ernnient, pursuant to article 110 of thi; Charter, a copy of an appropriate orderincouncil. immediately after the approval of Parliament, the Government, will ratify the Charter.
The Charter does not or, at least, should not, raise any questions of party politics, and it should he approved. Honorable members had an opportunity of considering the subject of a world organization charter when I discussed the matter first on the 8th September, 1944, and later on the 30th November, 1944, when the Dumbarton Oaks text was laid before the House. The Dumbarton Oaks text was a draft for the charter agreed to hy the representatives of Great Britain, the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics at Dumbarton Oaks, near Washington. This draft was considered by the conference at San Francisco, which has now put forward the present Charter for ratification. Early in November, 1944, the conference between Australia and New Zealand, at Wellington, laid down twelve positive propositions in relation to the proposal for a general organization. These propositions were the basis of public statements then made by the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr. Fraser, the Australian Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) and myself. A comparison between this document and the San Francisco .Charter will demonstrate a remarkable degree of resemblance, showing clearly that Australia and New Zealand have pursued a consistent policy in relation to the plan for world organization, and have been successful, to a substantial degree, in carrying that policy into effect.
The proposed world organization will be called the “United Nations”. Its purposes and principles cover the maintenance of world peace, and the promotion of human welfare by international cooperation. The preamble declares the motives of the governments which have subscribed to the Charter. The Charter provides for the establishment of six main orara ns for the realization of the purposes and principles of the United Nations. They are the General Assembly, the
Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice and the Secretariat. The composition and functions of all these bodies arc set out in the Charter.
The General Assembly is composed of all member States of the United Nations working together on the principle of sovereign equality. It will meet in annual and special sessions in which each State, whether large or small, will have one vote. The assembly will be a world convention in which each member State will have the right to discuss any question within the scope of the Charter. This means that the assembly may consider and make recommendations concerning, not only the general principles of international security and welfare, but also particular cases where those principles either have, or have not, been applied, or have been called into question.
The Assembly has the right to call the attention of the Security Council to any situation likely to endanger the peace, and it is to receive and consider annual and special reports from the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, and the SecretaryGeneral. In addition, the Assembly has the important functions of electing nonpermanent members of the Security Council and all members of the Economic and Social Council. The two main limitations on the Assembly’s powers are, first, that it has no power to make recommendations on its own initiative on any matters relating to the maintenance of security while those matters are being actively dealt with by the Security Council, and, secondly, that it has no direct executive power.
– Nor has it any indirect power.
– I think that the honorable member’s comment is correct,, but we cannot discuss now the difference between direct and indirect power. The Assembly may bring to bear the force of world opinion which will affect action, but it will not directly control action.
The central organ of the proposed security system is the Security Council. The council has the responsibility of composing disputes between nations, of dealing with threats to peace, and of quelling aggression should it break out. The council consists of eleven members - five permanent and six non-permanent. The five permanent members are the United States of America, Great Britain, thu Soviet Union, France and China. The six non-permanent members will by elected by the General Assembly for a period of two years. In the initial election three of the six will be elected for a period of twelve months. The Charter provides that when electing the six nonpermanent members, regard . must be specially paid, primarily, to the contribution of members of the United Nations to the maintenance of international security, and secondly, to an equitable geographical distribution. That means that in the election of non-permanent members the Assembly is bound to give special consideration to the actual contribution made by members to world security in both world wars. Nonpermanent member States must show that they are really interested in maintaining world security.
– How will effect be given to that?
– There will be a direction to the Assembly. I am confident that so important a principle will be carried out in practice by the Assembly. This i3 a matter of great importance to countries like Australia, which in two world wars have made big contributions to victory and the suppression of those nations which threatened world security.
Honorable members will he interested to hear how disputes will be settled by the Security Council. In the first instance, parties to a dispute which is likely to endanger international peace are bound to seek a solution by negotiation or som« peaceful means of their own choice. If necessary, the Security Council will call upon parties to settle their disputes in this manner, or the council itself may investigate the dispute or any other situation which might lead to a breach of the peace. If the parties fail to reach a settlement, the matter is to he referred to the Security Council. The council will then decide what course should be taken. If the Security Council considers that there is a threat to the peace, and if peaceful means of solution fail, the council may recommend that member States of the organization should take’ action against the party or parties in question. Such’ action can include complete or partial economic sanctions or the severance of diplomatic relations. If these measures are deemed inappropriate to the situation, or prove ineffective, the Security Council may take any military action necessary to suppress tie aggressor. The military forces which will be used in cases of military action must be madeavailable by member States under agreement between them and the Security Council.
– Is there any substantial obligation on member States to take such action?
– There is a direct obligation on all member States to place forces at the disposal of the Security Council when called upon.
– In such matters as sanctions, are they obliged to act unitedly ?
– Yes. All member states are under an obligation to place at the call of the Security ‘Council military forces in accordance with agreements to be made, and ratified according to the constitutional processes of each member State. The Security Council makes an agreement with member States, so that when the occasion arises for the application of military sanctions it will no longer be a question of discretion on the part of each member State to act or not to act. Forces should be at the disposal of the Security Council unless there is a repudiation of the obligations of the Charter, subject, however, to the further qualification that before forces, of any country are used to suppress aggression according to decisions of the Security Council, any country which is not a member of the Security Council has the right to be heard at a meeting of. that body. I shall deal with that ‘ point later. I mention it now because, when dealing with such a complicated document as that before us, it may help honorable members if I elucidate certain points as we go along.
– I take it that reference to military forces includes all arms of the fighting services?
– Yes; it means the navy, the army and the air force of each country concerned. The primary weapon to be used immediatelywill be the air force.
– It will be a kind of standing international defence force?
– Should a member State disagree with the action of. the Security Council, could it withdraw its forces?
– No. If its obligations are fulfilled it will have no such right, subject, however, to the general qualifications that, in certain circumstances, a member State may withdraw altogether from the organization. But while it is a member of the organization the obligation is absolute.That is provided for in
– That is an agreement to make an agreement.
– Yes, it is, in legal theory. Actually, what is to he put into the agreement is not determined by this Charter, but I emphasize at once that the obligation is on all members of the United Nations - there are no exceptions - to make this contribution. There is a solemn undertaking. What is to be done by each member of the United Nations is to be negotiated with the Security Council. Whatever Australia undertakes to do will have to be ratified by this Parliament.
I come now to the Economic and Social Council. The Charter has approved the principle that world security depends not only on the machinery for settling disputes, but also on creating economic and social conditions which should remove the underlying causes of war. Accordingly, member States pledge themselves jointly and severally to promote higher standards of living, full employment and economic progress, and to co-operate in dealing with international economic and social problems. To facilitate the carrying out of these pledges, the Economic and Social Council, consisting of eighteen members, will be established under the authority of the General Assembly. This council will be responsible for dealing with these economic, social and related problems.
Another important organ in the sphere of international welfare is the Trusteeship Council. As I shall describe later, all members of the United Nations accept the general obligation to promote to the utmost the well-being of the inhabitants of all non-self-governing territories, and to carry out certain related obligations. That is a general obligation in respect of all territories where the inhabitants do not have self-government. The obligation is assumed by every signatory to the Charter.
– That would include, for example, existing British possessions?
– Existing British possessions that come within the description of territories not possessing self-government.
– Does it apply to the Australianaborigines?
– Does the honorable gentleman seriously ask that question?
– Australia is not a territory without self-government.
– The aborigines take no part in self-government.
– Of course they do. The question of the Australian aborigines does not arise. The question that does arise concerns territories without selfgovernment. There is a general duty applying to. all such territories. Australia is not such a territory. It is a selfgoverning country.
– Does it mean that British possessions can be interfered with by the Trusteeship Council without any requests by Great Britain?
– In order to answer the honorable gentleman I should have to ask him questions. There is no interference with the sovereignty of any country under this general obligation.
– It is a mere obligation on certain countries to do certain things in regard to certain territories.
– All members assume as a primary obligation the welfare of the natives of territories without selfgovernment. That obligation is entered into by the Government of the United Kingdom and every other government that has signed the Charter. The obligation does not involve interference with the control of a territory by a country, any more than the entry into any international agreement involves interference with the sovereignty of the countries that make the agreement. This is an agreement as to how sovereignty will be exercised for the benefit of certain classes of people. It is a very important step in international relations. I remind the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) thatone signatory to the agreement was the Government of the United Kingdom.
– Is this to bc supplementary to the present mandatory system ?
– -In a minute I will explain the relationship between the general obligation and the specific obligation and between the mandatory system and what is intended to replace it.
– If a signatory should break its trust, can anything happen?
– When the parties to this agreement undertake the obligation I think it is to be contemplated that there will be honest performance of the obligation.
– There was not in the case of the League of Nations.
– Quite so. There have been breaches of many international agreements. I think the spirit in which this agreement must be approached is that the signatory countries will honestly endeavour to carry out their obligations. In addition to this general declaration, set out in Article 73, there are undertakings such as the obligation to protect native peoples against abuses, and the obligation to furnish the United Nations with statistical information relating to the economic, social and educational conditions of the native peoples. The inter national system of trusteeship established is applicable only to territories now held under mandate, territories detached from enemy States or territories voluntarily placed under trusteeship. The Trusteeship Council is made responsible for certain functions related to the administration of territories coming under the trusteeship scheme. So there are tha-ee methods under which a country may be placed under trusteeship. “ Trusteeship “ is a convenient word to describe a system analogous and akin to the system of mandates established in 1919 after certain territories had been taken from Germany. The council will consist of. first, representatives from member States that are administering trust territories; secondly, those permanent members of the Security Council that are not administering trust territories, and, thirdly, as many other members elected for three-year terms by the General Assembly as may be necessary to ensure that there shall be an equal division between those members administering trust territories and those thai do not. The functions of the council will include reporting on the way in which the agreements on trusteeship are being carried into effect.
The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) will find in Chapter XI.’ of the charter “ The Declaration Regarding Non-self-governing Territories “. That is a general obligation on all signatories to the Charter to accept as a sacred trust promotion of the well-being of the inhabitants. It does not matter whether a territory is brought under trusteeship, whether it is an existing mandate, or whether it has been or may be taken from an enemy State. It is a general obligation and its importance is considerable, because, having regard to the promise made in the Atlantic Charter to endeavour to give to all peoples in all lands freedom from want, there is no reason whatever to distinguish between native peoples according to whether they have or have not been at one time under the sovereignty of an enemy state. Cases in the Pacific can be mentioned in that respect. That is the general obligation. In addition, there is the trusteeship system which is limited in the way I have described.
– Whose responsibility is it to carry out the obligations under the trust?
– Under the specific system it is the obligation of the Trusteeship ‘Council to report on how the trust is being discharged, just as the Mandates Commission reported under the League of Nations.
– That does not differ in any material way from the system in vogue before.
– Trusteeship does not differ from the system under the permanent Mandates Commission; but in addition . to that specific system applicable to certain classes of territories placed under trusteeship and comparable and analogous to the system of mandates, there is this general obligation which is not. dependent upon any voluntary action by any country.
– Is this a kind of international overlordship of native races?
– No; it is a recognition that the principle in the Atlantic Charter to have regard to the welfare of native peoples is to be carried out. It is not an overlordship in the sense that there- is jurisdiction to determine ‘ whsir is to be done in this world organization: but there is this obligation on the part of the controlling country that it must supply annual statistics, as to education, labour and health conditions of the native peoples. It becomes, and should become, a matter of concern not merely to the controlling country but also to other countries.
– There cannot be government by a number of governments; the authority must be vested in one authority.
– 1. am anxious to assist the right honorable gentleman, who, because of the part he played in the early days of” the mandate system, has a special interest in this subject. He now says that there must be one controlling authority; and so there is. There is no interference with the control or sovereignty of the parent State, but there is an obligation assumed voluntarily by the parent State, namely, to administer its territory in a certain way.
– What is the sanction to compel observance of this obligation?
– There is no sanction in the sense that enforcement action will be taken if the obligation is not carried out; but the comment which I now make on that aspect is that when we have these countries solemnly promising to look after the interests of native peoples and not to permit abuses, and undertaking to give to. the world organization annually statistics as to the progress of native peoples, their labour conditions and health conditions, we thereby enable world opinion to be focused on any territory. Should the conditions in any territory be unsatisfactory, they will affect the welfare of not only the parent country and its native peoples but also neighbouring countries.
– That becomes a moral sanction.
– This is not to create a federation of nations under which there will be executive authority to act in a territory. It is a moral sanction; and it is also an international legal obligation.
– How is the controlling country obliged to carry out that obligation ? .
– By the pressure of world opinion expressed by the assembly of nations.
– There is an obligation under Chapter XI. to ensure the wellbeing of inhabitants. A territory cannot be removed from the Charter, but any mandated territory can be placed under the control of the international body.
– No. There is a new system called trusteeship. An existing trust such as New Guinea cannot be placed under the trusteeship system except by agreement, to which Australia must be a party. But in spite of that, there is a general obligation mentioned in Chapter XL, whether or not any territory is placed upon mandate, the principle being that as the welfare of native peoples is important internationally, as they have no control over the government nf their country, and as undertakings have been given with respect of them by leaders of the united nations, positive steps should be taken to see that those obligations are fulfilled. I. am not asking the right honorable member for North Sydney to agree to anything; I am endeavouring to describe the scheme, and I hope that he will ask questions designed to elicit the facts. I think that I have stated the principle correctly. Why should the duty to native peoples ex hypothesi having 110 right whatever to self-government be dependent upon the accident of previous sovereignty, or ownership, of an enemy country? I admit that Chapter XI. is not an obligation to which there is any pointed sanction, but it is an important sanction of an indirect character that matters of that kind are made matters of concern for inclusion in the charter to be debated at the assemblies of the nations.
– If countries are placed under trusteeship, is there any provision for transfer if the council is not satisfied with the way they are being administered?
– -There is no power to dispossess any country, or to occupy a territory; but there is what I think is the most important power of all, namely, the power to criticize, to condemn, and to bring to the bar of public opinion of the world any offender who does not carry out the obligations.
– That is moral suasion.
– That is more than moral suasion. The honorable member knows that that power creates and unseats governments, and it is by no means to be dismissed as merely moral suasion, although it has that characteristic
– Is there any obligation to transfer to trusteeship?
– No; it must be clone by agreement with the mandatory power. No territory need be placed under trusteeship. It is because of that fact that we as a delegation urged that this general obligation should be assumed irrespective of whether any particular territory was placed under trusteeship. The trusteeship system applies to only three kinds of territories. Therefore, the chapter dealing with trusteeship may not, in theory, operate, at all. I do not anticipate that; but it was that possibility which made Chapter XI. important.
Another major organ for settling international disputes i.s the International
Court of Justice. The court can play an important part in the development and strengthening of international law. But more than that, it should provide the means whereby international disputes of a legal character may be settled in accordance with the principles of international law, Although there is no compulsion, the ‘Charter provides a general working rule that legal disputes before the Security Council should be submitted te the court. The decisions of the court are binding on the parties, and if there is a failure by any party to carry out the court’s decisions, the matter may be referred to the Security Council for appropriate action.
– What is the constitution of the court?
– It is dealt with in the second annexe. Broadly, it is a re-creation of a court analogous to the existing Permanent Court of International Justice. The important step forward in connexion with the constitution of the court is this : Neither the United States nor the Soviet Union was a party to the statute creating the Permanent Court of International Justice, but every member of the United Nations is, ipso facto, a party to that statute, which is an appendix to the Charter.
– Every one of the 45 members ?
– All the nations which have become a party to it are, ipso facto, bound by the obligations of the International ‘Court, and are entitled to the benefits and accept the obligations thereunder. Therefore, we have made great progress, because these two powers will be brought, into the system of international j justice
– Is there any provision to prevent a member from withdrawing from the organization at any time?
– There is nothing in the ‘Charter which prevent the withdrawal of any member at any time. Certain resolutions were moved at San Francisco, indicating that withdrawal should not be made easy. Under the covenant of the League of Nations, a member had the right to* withdraw upon, giving certain notice, ….
– Italy withdrew from the League of Nations over the Abyssinian dispute.
– Notice of withdrawal from the League of Nations was given by certain countries in order to extort concessions from the other members, and so the general ruling of the conference is that nothing is contained in the Charter to prevent withdrawal from the organization. But the advantages of membership are such that withdrawals of that character should not, and I think will not, take place.
– Will the right honorable gentleman, as he proceeds, state the advantages of membership?
– Yes. I am endeavouring to answer interjections as I proceed, but before I -conclude I shall state what [ Consider are the advantages of the Charter, and what are the criticisms which undoubtedly may be passed upon it. I shall conclude with a submission to the House that the Charter should be ratified.
The sixth and last organ on which I desire to comment briefly is the Secretariat - ‘the permanent staff of the United Nations. It comprises the Secretary-General of the organization, who is appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council, and his staff. The Secretary-General acts in that capacity in relation to all the Organs of the United Nations, and, in addition^ is charged with the responsibility of making an annual report to the General Assembly on the work of the organization.
A detailed report on the work of the Australian delegation at San Francisco has been circulated to all ‘honorable members. The report is comprehensive, and includes not only an account of the San Francisco conference but also an outline of the historical background, and a report on the British Commonwealth meetings held in London just prior to the San Francisco Conference. Attached to the report are 26 annexes, including some important statements made by the Australian delegates in relation to world organization.
L now state why the Charter, though defective in certain respects, should be approved and then ratified. The report already covers much of this ground. It recalls the principles of world organization, which I stated on behalf of the Government as far back as the 14th October, 1943, and the 19 th July, 1944, and which the Government considered should be observed ; the principles agreed upon in New Zealand at the conference held at Wellington in November. 1944; the principles advocated by us in London at the British Commonwealth conference just prior to the San Francisco Conference; the textual amendments put forward by the Australian delegation at San Francisco; and a description of the changes in the original Dumbarton Oaks text which were actually made as a result of our efforts. I submit that the record proves consistency in policy, and energetic pursuance of that policy over a long period.
The main changes which we attempted to obtain in the Dumbarton Oaks text were -
The many interesting and important debates which took place at San Francisco art- outlined in the report. I shall mention only some of the matters which are of special interest to Australia, particularly where Australian initiative or leadership played an important part in the final result. The word “ veto “ arises because the voting rules applicable to the
Security Council require that on certain matters each of the five permanent members must concur in the decision.
For action, by the Security Council, a majority of seven out of eleven is required. On procedural matters, that majority will carry the decision; but in all other cases, including enforcement action, each of the five permanent members must be included in the majority. Therefore, in cases of that type, a permanent member, by voting against the proposal or even by abstaining from voting, can prevent a decision from being given.
– Any permanent member can direct the policy of the organization.
– Not at all! But any permanent member may, with the few exceptions which I shall indicate later, prevent the Security Council from reaching an affirmative decision. That is the doctrine of the veto ; put in another way, the doctrine of the unity of the permanent members. At the moment I am not endeavouring to do more than describe it.
The matter of voting procedure in the Security Council was one of the most controversial of the conference. It is dealt with in some detail in the report. To us, it was a matter of principle that while the unanimity of the Great Powers could ‘be justified as a prerequisite for enforcement action, no such justification existed for the right of veto on measures designed for the peaceful settlement of a dispute. It is true that, under the voting procedure adopted at San Francisco, parties to a dispute, whether great, powers or not, cannot vote in relation to the peaceful settlement of such a dispute. In our view, however, this is but a partial application of a valid general principle, namely, that since the peaceful settlement is concerned with conciliating the disputants and with recommending simply what is fair and just in the circumstances, it should be regarded, not as a right or power, but as a bounden duty of the Security Council, If it were a duty, there would be no room for any veto at all, except as to the way in which the duty was to be carried out. That is the view which the Australian delegation expounded. We considered that there could bc no justification for a situation in which, for instance, ten of the eleven members of the Security Council may anxiously desire to attempt conciliation in a dispute, and yet one great power, not a party to the dispute, by exercising its right of veto, can prolong that dispute or prevent its being dealt, with inside the council according to the principles of justice and regular procedure, thus requiring it to be dealt with outside the council altogether. That occurred in the settlement made with Hitler behind the back of the League of Nations. Therefore, we .pressed strongly our amendment for the removal of an individual veto which could block the council’s conciliation jurisdiction. Finally, the voting went against, us by twenty to ten, with fifteen absentions, but only after a plain intimation by the Great Powers that they would not. sign the ‘Charter if our amendment were carried. However, I believe that our determined stand on the veto issue was largely responsible both for clarifying the meaning of the voting formula adopted by the “ Big Three “ at the Yalta Conference, and for eliciting from the Great Powers the important undertaking that in cases of peaceful settlement, the veto power would be used sparingly, and only in an emergency, and further, that the veto would never be used to block preliminary consideration and discussion by the council of any dispute. There was some misunderstanding on the veto question during the early discussions.”’ There was an impression that we were opposing the veto right of each of the Great Powers in relation to military and enforcement action; but that was not the proposal. The proposal was to distinguish sharply between conciliation on the one hand and enforcement action on the other. We considered conciliation in international disputes to be a duty of the council. What harm could there be in saying to two disputants, “ Let us see how your dispute can be settled “ ? A dispute could be settled either in the council, or outside the council. In other words, it, could be settled in accordance with some established principles of justice, or it could be settled by some hole-in-the-corner method according to expediency and without regard to any principle whatever. The result was an acceptance of the Yalta formula, with an undertaking by the Great Powers that when a matter came before the council for settlement, there would be some preliminary consideration and discussion before the veto was exercised.
– If that is so, what was the reason for the substantial majority against the acceptance of the proposal?
– I shall deal with that matter in detail later in this speech. However, broadly, the position was this: At. the Yalta Conference, a formula was agreed upon by the three Great Powers, and any proposal to depart from that formula was looked upon with the greatest suspicion. The argument was that although a dispute might not have reached the stage of a threat of force, it could become an important dispute and lead to military or enforcement action. Therefore, the veto or unanimity rule should be applicable at the earliest stage. Our reply was that as a dispute might become serious and threaten the peace of the world, there should be an attempt at conciliation in the council at the earliest possible moment. The alternative was to settle the matter outside the council. That is the position, and I think that the two views are stated quite fairly in the report.
– Does the council worK publicly or in camera ?
– The extent to which disputes that come before the council will be given publicity has yet to be thrashed out. The conference carried a resolution that all the proceedings of the Assembly should be open to the public and th” press, but no such resolution was carried in regard to the council, and I can see <t very good reason for not dealing with disputes publicly at all stages. It may be possible to settle a dispute by conciliation and without publicity in the same manner as industrial disputes are settled.
The veto issue is connected with the procedure for the revision of the Charter. It was our strongly held view that the process of amendment, whilst not being made so easy as to encourage unsettling changes of the constitution of the United Nations, should not be made so difficult as to make too rigid a constitution devised during a. transition period of grave emergency and uncertainty. Therefore, we bad proposed that amendments of the Charter might be made as the result of a two-thirds vote in the General Assembly, concurred in by three of the five permanent members of the Security Council, instead of by all five. In the Dumbarton Oaks proposal, the consent of the five members was required before any change could be made in the constitution of the organization. We did not succeed in modifying the requirements of permanent member unanimity for amendments of the Charter, but, largely as the result of our attitude, and that of other countries, towards revision of the Charter, the conference finally decided to facilitate a general review of the whole Charter after ten years of operation, and further, that a constitutional convention to review the Charter could be summoned at any time, provided that two-thirds of the General Assembly, together with a majority of the Security Council - no veto being applicable - requested it. In these ways some recognition was given to our strong submission that the Charter should be subject to modification and amendment in accordance with changing world needs. “Mr- Abbott. - But the recommendation of the convention need not be adopted.
– That is so. The recommendations might facilitate conciliation of constitutional changes, but no change could be made without the approval of two-thirds of the members of the Assembly, including therein the five permanent members, so that in effect each of the permanent members possesses what could he called a veto on questions of constitutional change.
I come now to the question of the powers of the General Assembly which led to some of the great debates tff the conference. Having the Security Council consisting of the great powers, and the veto applicable in the manner which I have mentioned, obviously some balancing authority was required in the interest of a democratic working constitution. The Australian view was that the assembly of the new organization should have the right to discuss freely and fully any matter of real international concern. At first, the opposing view, put forward strongly by several of the great powers, was in favour of the retention of the Dumbarton Oaks provision strictly confining the assembly’s right of discussion to the general principles of international peace and security. The sponsoring powers put forward an amendment which modified to some degree, this narrow conception of the Assembly’s role, but the fundamental limitation persisted. The two points of view were argued by subcommittees, by the technical committee, and even the executive and steering committees. On every occasion it was evident that a great majority of nations strongly supported the principles of the Australian proposals. Nevertheless, after the main technical committee had accepted an Australian proposal by a large majority, the Soviet delegate reopened the question in the executive committee and the steering committee during the last week of the conference, and a sub-committee was appointed consisting of representatives of the Soviet, the United States of America, and Australia to draft” another text. Many meetings of that sub-committee were held, and the matter was referred back to the governments of some of the sponsoring powers. Finally, a formula was adopted giving to the assembly the right to discuss “ any questions or any matters within the scope of the present charter or relating to the powers and functions of any organizations provided in the present charter “. With this right goes the right of the Assembly to make recommendations on any such questions or matters to members, to the Security Council, or to both, except in the one case that I have mentioned, of disputes actually being dealt with by the Security Council. Having regard to the extremely wide scope of the charter, the jurisdiction of the Assembly created, in this way will ensure the free and unfettered consideration of every aspect of international relations that could be regarded as relevant to either the security or the welfare- side of the world organization. In short, the Assembly, though, not possessed of direct executive authority, should, I submit, be able to discuss, criticize and resolve, and so help to balance and compensate the great power vested in the permanent members of the Security Council.
– The right honorable gentleman has said that the Assembly will have the right to discuss any matter and bring it up to the Council.Will that apply in cases where the Council is itself discussing the particular matter?
– No; that is the exception. The Assembly can discuss any matter, even though the Council is dealing with it, but cannot make a recommendation. I do not think that such a limitation would prevent the right honorable gentleman from saying what he considered ought to be said. But no resolution or recommendation can be made which may conflict with the attitude being adopted by the Security Council.
Another important debate arose out of the Australian amendments that were designed to elevate the stature and improve the functions of the Economic and Social Council. Against the strongest preliminary opposition, we were able to secure an amendment of the purposes of the organization to include this clause -
The united nations shall promote . . . high standards of living, full employment and conditions of economic and social progress and development.
This stands as Article 55. We also succeeded in having this clause carried -
All members pledge themselves to take joint and separate action in co-operationwith the organization for the achievement of the purposes set forth in Article 55.
– Would not any nation be expected to do that in anycase?
– There are lots of things which people are expected to do in any case. If they make an agreement to do it, there is muchmore chance of their doing it. In other words, it is the kind of thing which one would expect should be done. Assuming an obligation of this character to do it, 50 countries being parties to it, gives to the undertaking a solemnity and an efficacy which might not exist if each country were left to deal with the problem in its own way. The honorable member’s comment really cuts across any idea of an international agreement to do something which obviously is desirable. I regard it as a very important step forward, and I am glad that there is no opposition to it.For several years,it has been the objective of the Australian Government to make an international agreement to pursue full employment as a fundamental basis of international economic co-operation. That objective has been pursued in formal and informal discussions in London and Washington, at Hot Springs, Philadelphia and Bretton Woods. The objective had been supported by the Government of the United Kingdom. It has been stated as an Australian objective by the leaders of the Australian Government on many occasions since early in 1943, especially in connexion with the agreement between Australia and New Zealand. It is now clear that the central feature of the international agreement on full employment which both Australia and New Zealand wished to conclude, and endeavoured to negotiate, is now written into the United Nations Charter, and that obligation will bind, not two or three countries, but 50 nations.
– The right honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Minister for External Affairs from concluding his speech without interruption.
– It is not intended to use the powers given under this international agreement to override the decision of the recent referendum?
– It is not. By approving of this charter, we do not attempt to give to this Parliament any additional legislative power. What is done under this obligation willbe a matter for the consideration of the Assembly or the Economic Council year by year. Any proposal or convention put before the different countries will have to be either accepted or rejected. But it is equally true that, should a specific agreement on employment or, indeed, any other subject, be made by Australia as a result of the working of this organization, it will be not only within the power of the Parliament, but also its duty, if it approves of the agreement, to ensure that it shall be given effect and shall not be a dead letter. I do not want to enter into a long legal discussion. I merely say. that the idea that this was merely a means of overcoming the failure at the referendum to obtain a general power in respect, of employment, is fantastic.
– Would not the obligation to promote a higher standard of living, full employment, &c, be merely an obligation within the constitutional capacity of the signatory power?
– If the honorable gentleman’s view were accepted, what I have said as to Hie duties of this Parliament could not be accepted without qualification. That is another view which has been taken. I expressed my view in regard to it in another capacity and in another place. When I expressed it, I thought that it was right. I still think so* But one is continually being surprised, and perhaps the honorable gentleman’s view will be accepted.
– From the contrary point of view, as I understood the right honorable gentleman to state it, an executive agreement made by the Government would really oblige and bind the Parliament to pass consequential legislation.
– No; I do not think that that is correct. If a specific international agreement is made to do or to postpone* the doing of anything, under the External Affairs power the Parliament can say that the agreement should be made. If the Parliament approves of its having been made, it may become not only the right but also the duty of the Parliament to give to the Executive the power to carry it out. I do not wish to avoid any discussion. The matter is one of very difficult technical import, Upon which I hold views with which the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) is familiar and from which he differs. The great achievement is not an increase of legislative authority. Legislative authority could not be increased by the making of an agreement. The power in respect of external affairs has been in existence since 1901, and nobody in this Parliament, I suppose, wants to remove it from the Constitution. In a crisis, it might be the means of saving the country. The great achievement is that 50 nations have pledged themselves not merely to look at the solution of the problem of unemployment in an academic way, but positively to promote measures of full employment. It is obvious to every one that a high standard of living, maximum employment, and an. expanding economy in one country, are helpful to the employment position in relator countries.
Mi-. Harrison. - ls not that contrary to what the right honorable gentleman said originally in answer to the honorable member for Richmond?
– It is not contrary in any respect. I told the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), and I have repeated just now, that the idea of its being an attempt to induce 50 nations to do something which would enable us to reverse the referendum decision in Australia, is fantastic. At no time did we intend ;.o do that, and it was not done. If, in the future, an agreement were made in respect of em- *ployment, aviation, or any other subject, it might be not only within the power of this Parliament to carry out the agreement, but also its duty to do so, not because of anything new but because of something that already i3 in the Constitution.
– If, because of economic conditions, one country has high unemployment, would not [the other countries be bound to discuss the matter and take co-operative action to assist it?
– That is the converse, and it is true. It would be the duty of all countries to take joint as well as separate action. If they carry out the terms of this agreement, they are obliged to ensure that there shall be a high level of employment in all the countries which are signatories to the Charter.
I turn again to the trusteeship arrangements. The joint declaration in Chapter XI. has been sufficiently described to the House. It is applicable to all peoples that are non:self-governing. I submit” that it is a great step forward in .colonial ‘affairs. For the first time in history, “ all the colonial powers mentioned in the Charter have jointly acknowledged the paramountcy of native interests. It was iti this part of, the trusteeship work of the conference that, the Australian delegation made positive contributions, following the policy to which we had agreed with New Zealand early in 1944, and which had been pursued by Australia and New Zealand in the London talks in April last. Recently, legislation was placed before and adopted by this Parliament, proving that this is a duty which has to be taken seriously. We intend to carry it out; that was indicated by the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward) in the speech that he made on the subject.
It is fitting that I should mention here the important steps which have already been taken in the legislation recently before the House providing for the provisional administration of our territories and also the .setting up of a. Territories Research Council and a School of Civil Affairs for, the training of administrative staff. These -are practical steps to carry out in our own territories the principles we affirm as a member of the United Nations.
The second part of trusteeship deals with specific provisions as to the trusteeship system. It is limited to three classes of territories - mandated territories, territories which may be taken from the enemy in this war as the mandates were in the last war, and territories voluntarily placed under trusteeship.
– In point of fact, there may be no Trusteeship Council if no nation decides to join. ‘
– There mays.be a council, but nothing for it to deal with. Because of that fact, which stared us in the face and was emphasized by us, we considered that something tangible should be included in the Charter to give meaning to the promises made in the Atlantic Charter and other documents that peoples in all lands will be given some protection and some approach to the objective of freedom from want.
– Could any country derive an advantage from placing its territory under the Trusteeship Council?
– -Oh, yes! I am glad that the honorable member has mentioned that. Take the Territory of New Guinea, mandated to Australia in 1919. Under the present covenant binding on Australia - the League of Nations, with which the covenant was made, still being in existence - there i* an obligation not to fortify any portion of the territory, although the territory has been proved to be absolutely vital to the defence of this country and of the South-West Pacific generally. It “will be possible, under a trusteeship system, to obtain modifications o’f restrictions of that kind, because the security aspect of trusteeship also is emphasized. There are, therefore, some positive advantages to be gained.
– ‘Since the Government supports this trusteeship provision, does it intend to place any mandated territory under trusteeship ?
– The honorable member must give me notice of that question, because the answer would involve a governmental decision. I think it would be possible to do it, subject to safeguards. I should not be a party to “an alteration of the conditions relating to the control of our mandated territory which would not help to ensure the defence of this country; but, subject to that, there is no greater obligation that could fall on us with regard to New Guinea ‘trusteeship, than that which fell on us for twenty years under the mandates system. There were criticisms of the administration of some territories, and they resulted in an improvement of administration in certain respects. I shall not now indicate what is to be done after the constitution comes into operation. We are now drafting a constitution, and what i3 to be done under it is a matter for subsequent determination.
– Would the Permanent Mandates Commission then cease to exist?
– It would. There might be a long period in which there would be no means of enforcing obligations entered into, but a moral obligation would remain. There may be definite advantages in changing from the mandates system to the trusteeship system. Both Australia and New Zealand, which have taken a prominent part in the- attempt to improve the conditions of native peoples, not only in our own territories but generally, should look upon this machinery with a view to its being successful, and should not merely abstain from taking advantage of it. That is my personal view, and I believe that powerful support could be obtained for it.
– Is it contended that we could not fortify New Guinea except, under a trusteeship system?
– We have in fact done tilings in New Guinea, in the provision of fortifications, which were not done before the war. I contend that an obligation entered into relating to that period is no longer applicable. It is desirable that by some means the obligation should be modified so as to permit of considerations of security being considered as well as the advantages of the native peoples.
– Why is the information required under article 74 e to be transmitted to the Secretary-General, and not to the Trusteeship Council?
– Because this is a chapter entirely apart from the Trusteeship Council. The council does not deal in any way with territories unless they are formally and by agreement placed under the trusteeship system. Therefore, the obligation is to transmit this information to the organization as a whole.
– Once a territory is placed under the control of the council, could the control ever revert to the original parent power? Could a territory be placed under the control of the council for a limited period?
– As the change is to be effected by agreement, I should be inclined to say that an agreement could be made for placing a territory under the council for a period of, say, ten or fifteen years. There is nothing in the document to exclude that. It seems to me that that is a distinct possibility, and may indicate a method of administration which would enable a territory to be placed under the system, so to speak, on probation.
– I should say that once a territory was placed under the trusteeship system it would pass to that control for all time.
– It could only be done by agreement, and, therefore, it might reasonably be stated in the agreement that the arrangement was limited to a given period.
– Surely there could riot be many different kinds of agreements.
– I am sure that the agreements would differ as between territory arid territory and as between region and region. Each would have to bc negotiated.
I now turn to what is called domestic jurisdiction. That phrase indicates that, in certain matters, each country claims and demands the right by international practice to be free from interference by any other country or any international body. One of the objectives of the Australian delegation at San Francisco was to make sure that the wide powers of discussion, recommendation and action given to the organization could not be used to enable the organization to interfere with matters which, under international law, fall essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of States. In this regard, the Dumbarton Oaks text was left in an admittedly unsatisfactory position. We ourselves put forward an amendment tu make clear that the only permissible illtervention of the organization in matters of domestic jurisdiction should be in the case of actual enforcement measures by the Security Council, that is, to prevent aggression or to defend the victim of aggression. The sponsoring governments put forward an alternative amendment which we thought radically defective, lt appeared to us to permit the organization to impose any settlement it thought fit, if a dispute arose out of a matter of domestic jurisdiction and reached the stage at which the maintenance of peace was threatened. This seemed to be virtually an invitation to an aggressor to threaten force, in the hone of extorting concessions from the State concerned as the price of support by the Security Council. After prolonged discussions, wesecured an alteration of the amendment moved by the sponsoring powers, which, fully covered our objective. In the result, internal matters such as the migration policy of a state will not fall within, the scope of the organization. If a dispute arises out of such a matter, th<; Security Council will not be authorized! to interfere, though it will still remainresponsible for taking whatever action isnecessary to prevent aggression against that state or to protect it if it has been attacked.
The episode was a striking justification of the necessity for vigilance on thepart of the middle and small powers in the making of the Charter. The greaterpowers were not really concerned, for ‘theveto by each one of- them made their own. domestic policies, such as immigration, absolutely secure against interference by the organization.
– ‘Could we not have secured that alteration as one of the component parts of the British Empire? Could not Great Britain have protected our rights in respect of the White Australia policy?
– It would be very undesirable for the rights of any dominion to be dependent on the decision of the government of another of the countries forming the British Empire, with regard to, say, immigration, on which matter there might be a difference of opinion. It is true that the veto of any power could he called in aid, if that power could be induced to exercise it. Looking to the future, we could not be sure that it would not be difficult to secure the exercise of such veto by Great Britain in support of the policy of a government of one of the dominions. I make clear that this domestic jurisdiction amendment will in no way impede the natural and proper process by which matters which at one time were regarded as purely local may gradually come within the area of international relations by the making of international agreements. The amendment does, however, protect member States against interference in those matters which still remain essentially within their own domestic competence. In particular, it assures the retention of the general principle that it is for each nation to determine for itself - without outside intervention - the composition of its own population. In the result, therefore, the Charter fully protects Australia’s own vital interest, whilst on the other hand avoiding any merely static conception as to what is a matter of true international concern.
Of the 38 amendments of substance which Australia proposed, no fewer than 26 were either adopted without material change or adopted in principle. The Australian proposals which were accepted included the following : -
One of the outstanding features of the conference was the part played by smaller nations, particularly the “middle powers “. Many of their representatives - those from Belgium, Holland, Canada, India, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Egypt, for example - demonstrated a remarkable understanding “ of the subject-matter, independence of thinking and action, and perseverance in seeking improvements to the original text. There were, of cour.se, a few small nations which merely followed the lead of one or other of the sponsoring powers, some because they were dependent economically, others for political reasons. It is only natural that some of the European countries, so recently liberated, having only temporary governments, and not yet able to perceive future political trends in Europe, would act with supreme caution. But having met their representatives, some of whom had worked with epic courage in underground resistance movements, we have no doubt that very soon they will display that independence and self-reliance which are absolutely necessary to a democratic world organization.
The Australian delegation, working closely in co-operation with that of New Zealand, always adopted an independent approach. We did not belong to any bloc of nations. For instance the debate over the powers of the Assembly was mainly with the sponsoring powers led by Russia, with nearly all the other powers supporting our view. On the other hand, on the “ full employment “ question, the Soviet supported us. On regionalism it was necessary to join issue with certain La tin- American Republics who were attempting to secure for their regional group an almost complete independence from the Security Council. On some issues we differed from the United
Kingdom ; on others, generally more important, including “ full employment “, we obtained the complete co-operation of Britain’s representatives.
It must be remembered that the Dumbarton Oaks draft was a Great Powers draft, so that almost every amendment to thu draft had to run the gauntlet of close examination and criticism by the sponsoring powers acting as a group. As a result, there was quite frequently a division of opinion between great and small - between those who sponsored the Dumbarton Oaks draft and those whose duty it was to amend and improve it. At the same time, there were many issues in which our objectives and policies required us to support the sponsoring powers, notably, in connexion with the military backing of the Security Council.
– Did the sponsoring nations act as ‘a united group ?
– They acted as an inner group throughout. With one or two exceptions, every amendment had to be approved by them before being accepted.
– They held separate meetings ?
– They held meetings almost continuously throughout the period of the conference. I have no doubt that it was a part of the understanding between them when the draft was put forward. It added to the difficulties associated with the conference, but I suppose it was inevitable. Towards the end of the conference, it was agreed by the sponsoring powers that certain questions should be left open.
The success of the Australian delegation was due in part to the fact that the subject-matter had been carefully studied, and we were entirely familiar with the implications and ramifications. the strength and weakness of the Dumbarton Oaks text. Equally important, however, was the untiring devotion to committee work by our delegates, consultants and advisers.
It is probably true to say, as a representative of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics observed, that Australia was more strongly represented on most committees than was any other country. This was not because the technical members of our delegation were more numerous. It was because nearly every member attended as many committees as was physically possible, first, to assist on those aspects which were his particular concern, and, secondly, to watch the conference working as a whole, thereby becoming well acquainted with developments which might have some bearing on the work of his own particular committees.
Moreover, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) and I regarded ourselves as committeemen, and worked on committees and sub-committees on that footing. Mr. Fraser, of New Zealand, adopted a similar procedure. We became familiar with the detailed working of all twelve committees and sub-committees, as well as the executive and steering committees. Accordingly, we were able to co-ordinate the work of the officers of External Affairs, and could be called upon by them whenever required to deal with a situation arising suddenly in any committee. Meetings of the full Australian delegation were held regularly in order to keep members informed as a group, and to hear any advice, criticisms and suggestions.
It is my duty to pay a special tribute to the officers of my own two departments for their work at San Francisco, viz., Messrs. Bailey, Burton, Forsyth, Hasluck and Watt. They worked unceasingly for Australia both before and during the conference. They were naturally delighted at all the positive achievements of the Australian delegation in which they played so significant yet unobstrusive a part.
I shall refer briefly to the part played in the making of the Charter by the British Commonwealth of Nations. The members of the British Commonwealth did not in any way* act as a bloc. On the other hand, the members of the Commonwealth had had a valuable preliminary exchange of views in London at the beginning of April, and, as occasion required, they had further consultations at San Francisco.
The relation of the United Kingdom Government to the governments of the other sponsoring powers necessarily affected its part in these British Commonwealth discussions. The “ big five “ not only acted as a group in putting forward for discusion the Dumbarton Oaks text and a number of amendments to it, but acted also as an informal inner group throughout the San Francisco Conference. Inevitably, United Kingdom policy was thus determined, in many matters of importance, by the extent to which, and the lines on which, agreement could be obtained among the “ big five “.
The members of the British Commonwealth did not always agree, during the conference discussions, as to the form which the Charter should take. There was, however, a very substantial degree of mutual support among them. I desire to pay tribute especially to the delegations of New Zealand and India. As I have noted, the Governments of Australia and New Zealand had adopted at Wellington in November, 1944, a common series of resolutions on the main principles which they desired to see embodied in the constitution of the world organizations. They acted at San Francisco in the closest co-operation in the pursuit of these objectives. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Bight Honorable Peter Fraser, made a notable contribution to the work of the conference as a whole; so also did the leader of the Indian delegation, Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar, who was the chairman of the Committee on International Economic and Social Cooperation. Taking everything together, the records of the conference show that the governments of the British Commonwealth influenced largely the process of liberalizing the Dumbarton Oaks text, broadening the scope of the organization, and making its working more democratic.
It will be plain to honorable members that we cannot expect to reap the advantages hold out by the Charter without incurring our fair share of the responsibilities. So that we may see clearly where we stand, I propose to mention the more important commitments which will fall upon Australia when we ratify the Charter. In the first place, each member is obliged to uphold the principles of the United Nations a3 set out in article 2 of the Charter. These principles include an undertaking to settle all disputes by peaceful means, to refrain from the threat or use of force in international relations, and to give the organization every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present Charter. Any obligations which the Charter imposes must prevail over -any other international obligations which , may conflict.
The second category of commitments lies in the sphere of security. Australia, and every other member, agrees to accept and carry out all decisions of the Security Council. We shall undertake, when we ratify the Charter, to make available to the Council on its call, and in accordance with a special agreement, armed forces, assistance and facilities, including national air force contingents, for use in the event of aggression. These agreements will be negotiated on the initiative of the Security Council, and concluded between the Council and the Australian Government. Any such agreement will bc subject - to ratification, just as the Charter i itself is- subject to ratification, according to the constitutional processes of each member State. Therefore, this Parliament will have the right to pass judgment upon any military agreement entered into between Australia and the Security Council.
– That is to be done as early as possible after ratification by the nations?
– As early as possible after the coming into force of the Charter.
– Once such an agreement is made, what provision exists for altering it?
– An agreement of that kind, by its very nature, should be capable of variation so as to meet the changing needs of the times. Suppose there are developments in armaments of an important character, I do not think that the fact that an agreement as to certain kinds of military assistance was made in 1945 would exclude a different kind of agreement being substituted for it in 1955. We must give -the agreement a liberal interpretation.
– What provision is made to ensure that a member nation will be able to honour its obligations?
For instance, will such countries as Argentina ‘and Australia be required to maintain certain forces in order to be in a position to honour military commitments into which they have entered?
– If Australia agrees to provide certain forces, any such agreement must come before Parliament for ratification. It is assumed, although it is not stated explicitly, that the nations will have the forces which they undertake to provide.
– Is there any provision in the Charter in .regard to disarmament?
– The agreement does not aim at achieving disarmament. On the contrary, it aims at a pooling of armaments for the purpose of preventing aggression.
– What about the private control of armament factories?
– The most important aspect of that matter has to do with the chemical industry. After the last war, because the chemical industry was under private control, the German offensive began long before the armies of Germany were increased. Arrangements were made for pooling information regarding chemical discoveries among various private interests throughout the world. This is a very important matter, and will have to be considered when this constitution comes into force.
– Does this Charter give wider powers to the Security Council or to the Assembly than the Covenant gave to the old League of Nations?
– As to the Security Council, the main difference is this : Under the Covenant of the league all members were obliged to wage war against an aggressor once aggression had been established, but there were no forces at the disposal of the league itself. Therefore, when an emergency arose, the league had to inquire whether the va’rious countries would put forces into the pool. Rut under the present arrangement, the responsibility for providing forces is to be placed before the emergency arises. To use the current phrase, more teeth have been given to the Security Council than the league had, and that is an important difference.
There are important commitments in the field of welfare. Under article 56 of the Charter Australia, along with every other- member, pledges itself to “ take joint and separate action in co-operation with the organization “ for the achievement of certain basic purposes which include higher standards of living for their respective peoples, full employment, solutions of international social, economic, health and related problems, international, cultural and educational co-operation and respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.
Concerning dependent peoples, there is a general obligation in article 73 of the Charter to recognize that the interests of such peoples are paramount in the eyes of powers having control over the territories in which they live, and to develop their political, social and economic well-being. Further, if it is decided by agreement between the Australian Government and the General Assembly to place a territory under the trusteeship system, we would assume the specific obligations set out in Chapter XII. of the Charter.
As a member of the United Nations, Australia will, ipso facto, be a party to the statute of the International Court of Justice, and will undertake to comply with the decisions of the court in any case to which we are a party.
Finally, Australia must share in bearing the expenses of the organization as they may be apportioned by the General Assembly.
I have mentioned in some detail the commitments which ratification of the Charter will bring, for I think it best that honorable members should realize precisely what is involved for this Parliament and the people we represent. But the sum of all these obligations - though very substantial - must be contrasted with the positive creation of international machinery aimed at enduring peace and expanding welfare for all the peoples of the world. There is offered to us an opportunity, which certainly will never recur, of taking an active and energetic part in an organization which, if the obligations are properly carried out, should be a hie to stamp out any resurgence of Fascist aggression, and also set in motion practical steps for achieving freedom from want, as well as freedom from fear.
It was agreed at San Francisco that, pending the ratification of the Charter, and until such time as the Security Council would be able to exercise its responsibilities for security, transitional arrangements should be made whereby the Great Powers, in consultation with one another, and as the occasion arises, with other members of the United Nations, should take action to preserve world peace and security. It was also provided that nothing in the Charter should invalidate or prevent any action taken or authorized as the result of the Second World War “ by the governments having responsibility for such action “.
Unfortunately, insufficient opportunity was given for adequate discussion by the conference of these very important arrangements. The view of the Australian delegation, which we expressed in a statement concerning the report of the technical committee which drafted the particular chapter, was that .these provisions must be regarded as strictly temporary and limited in character and., above all, should not enable the Great Powers to act in any way inconsistent with the principles and obligations of the Charter. Clearly, as far as security is concerned, co-operation within the organization by the Great Powers is the decisive factor. But until the Security Council and General Assembly are able to assume their responsibilities we believe that the basic principle, and one that is implicit in the Charter, is that the great powers should consult with one another in strict conformity with the obligations of the Charter, and should take steps to associate in that consultation other members of the United Nations which have proven their ability to undertake and fulfil substantial contributions towards the preservation of international security and welfare.
Arrangements were made at the close of the iSan Francisco conference for the establishment of a preparatory commission consisting of one representative of each government signatory of the Charter in order to make arrangements for the first sessions of the organs of the United Nations, and to prepare recommendations for their respective agenda. Australia is, of course, a member of this commission. It is also a member of its executive committee, consisting of the fourteen nations which were elected to form the executive committee of the conference at San Francisco.
A.s Australian representative on the Preparatory Commission, I have made arrangements for Australian participation on its executive committee which, has commenced sitting in London. I believe that the preparatory work of these bodies in inaugurating the United Nations is of very great importance, and that Australia must take full advantage of the opportunities presented to continue the substantial contribution made at San Francisco towards the successful launching of the United Nations.
I propose now to assess the value of this Charter. We should remember that the Charter is a constitution. It does not set out to solve problems or provide a new world order. It provides an international organization, gives that organization important purposes and functions, and places certain obligations upon members.
A point I wish to make is that comparison with the League Covenant, while interesting, is not a satisfactory method of assessing the value of the new Charter. 1 have noticed the argument that the League failed, the new Charter does not differ substantially from the Covenant of the League; therefore the new world organization will fail.
It has always been m.y view, and I expressed it in this House in October, 1943, that nothing has been more unfair or more superficial than the stream of criticism to the effect that the League of Nations failed because it did not prevent the outbreak of the present war. The League Covenant clearly provided for the use of force by members of the League against states breaking their international obligations under the Covenant. - The criticism of the League that its decisions were not effectively enforced is really a criticism of some of the Governments operating within the framework of the League. I agree with what Mr. Churchill said -
It was not a case of the League of Nations failing the governments of the world but the governments of the world failing the League.
The relevant question is, not how does this new Charter compare with the League Covenant, but what, if any, were the indications, during the drafting of the Charter, that should persuade us that there is ground for hope for the effective working of the new world organization. In fact, there are substantial improvements in the Charter itself. The united nations will include all the existing great powers, whereas the League began without either the United States or Russia. Secondly, the Charter provides that the Security Council will have at its call, by special agreement between it and members of the United Nations, military forces and facilities, including contingents of national air forces, for use against any would-be aggressor. Moreover, all members agree to carry out the decisions of the Security Council. The League Covenant offered no similar assurances of armed force immediately available to stamp out proved aggression.
– Is it proposed to admit enemy powers at a later stage?
– No power can be admitted except with the consent of twothirds of the Assembly, and on the recommendation of the Security Council, and the veto provision applies to any such recommendation. Thus, before any enemy power can be admitted, the proposal must have the unanimous support of the five members of the council. This is likely to postpone the admittance of any enemy power until some considerable time in the future. Those two conditions taken together will, I think, postpone the admission of enemy powers until some period well in the future. There is no express provision in the Charter covering this matter.
It is true that the new organization is based upon the’ foundation of a war-time alliance of the three great powers, and that the “Rig Three”, with China and France, have special privileges, such as a complete veto on enforcement, and a very extensive veto on conciliation action by the Security Council. Always remembering that power must carry with, it equivalent responsibility, and that all members are bound to act in accordance with the aims and principles set down in the Charter, such a preliminary foundation may turn out to be sound, although the veto on conciliation action by the security council is almost impossible to justify. In relation to enforcement action, the view of the great powers is that since the main burden of preserving peace falls on them, theirs must bc the main decision for action to be taken to avert any breach of the peace. The principle involved is that any attempt to enforce measures against the will of one of the great powers would precipitate another world war.
MY. Anthony. - Should any nation take aggressive action against another is there any provision whereby the Security Council can take action? It would appear that any of the great powers could embark on a war without the Charter -being effective.
– That would he a breach of the obligations of the Charter. Enforcement will depend on action by the Security Council ; no other organization will have forces at its disposal. Each of the great powers has the right to say that the organization shall not act in that respect. Under the Covenant of the League of Nations each member of the council had the right of veto; there had to be unanimity on the council of th League. The difference is that in this case the veto is limited to a number of powers, instead of being exercisable by each member.
It is important, however, that the limitations of the Charter be plainly understood. The security system agreed upon at San Francisco rests substantially upon the leadership of Great Powers, the purpose being to prevent aggression. The smaller nations are obliged to assist in carrying out this purpose by supplying forces and undertaking to carry out the decisions of the Security Council. On the other hand, aggression threatens and a veto is applied by any power against preventive or enforcement action; then the victim of aggression cannot rely upon the organization but may fall, back on regional arrangements, and ultimately upon its own defence forces and those of its Allies. In short, the new system, functioning under the constitution, does not dispose of the need for national defence forces, and offers no absolute guarantee against, armed conflicts and aggression. I do not regard this, however, as a weakness in the Charter which could have been remedied at San Francisco for we are continuing the “ Big Three “ leadership of the war period. Further, the opposition recorded to the veto on conciliation, and the great strengthening of the powers of the General Assembly, should help to restrain any capricious or unjust exercise of the veto privilege.
In my view the case for the Charter has been increased by the destructive capacity of the newest and most terrible weapon of warfare. The destructive potential of atomic energy is too great to be entrusted to one great power. If the new weapon is placed under the control of an impartial Security Council, with special safeguards, the very knowledge that it lies at the council’s disposal will be a powerful deterrent against future aggression. But if it is not brought under the authority of the United Nations, there will be an ever-present sense of insecurity and fear weighing upon the peoples of the world. None of us now can have any illusions as to what the future holds for mankind should governments, and, above all, any one of the Great Powers, fail to honour fundamental obligations under the Charter.
In my opinion, there was apparent at the conference some trends which strongly suggest that the new world organization will be more successful than the League of Nations. I have mentioned the independence of thought and action of the smaller countries. The Charter provides, in effect, that the General Assembly shall be the forum of world opinion. In the future, therefore, we should expect much franker criticism in meetings of the Assembly of any action taken which is likely to prejudice international peace and security.
Another significant trend is the shift in emphasis from security to welfare. Naturally enough, the Dumbarton Oaks text, drafted at a time when the Allies were engaged in some of the heaviest battles of the war, was drawn up in terms which emphasized primarily the maintenance of peace and security. But nations do not seek peace and security only. They realize that peace is possible even in a world dominated by Fascist dictatorial power. Real peace is not merely the absence of war. The smaller nations look to the world organization to promote not only peace but also welfare, international justice, observance of human rights, and the progressive development of friendly relations between nations, based on economic and social security.
The Charter was very largely redrafted at San Francisco. The maintenance of peace and security still remains the prime objective, but there is a stronger emphasis on matters only indirectly related to the maintenance of peace and security. The Charter now contains provisions for a much stronger Assembly, and a far more effective Social and Economic Council, as well as for a Trusteeship Council.
The clear mandate and obligation to promote full employment reflects another trend of great importance. _A significant and striking feature of this Charter is that it places great emphasis on an aspect of international planning which after the last war was wholly ignored. The breakdown of international planning after World War I. can be traced to the undue emphasis placed on trade and exchange stability as ends in themselves, and to the absence of consideration of domestic policies of employment which, if pursued, should have brought about increased consumption, increased international trade and stability in exchange rates. The history of post-Great War planning is, broadly, the story of a long succession of conferences, all resulting in resolutions to reduce trade barriers, and all followed by increased restrictions on trade because of increased unemployment. Unemployment was the great political problem. The only remedy which the World Economic Conference of 1933 could suggest was a “ programme of economic disarmament “ by which was meant a programme to reduce barriers to trade. It was not at any stage suggested that the unemployment throughout the world might be caused by domestic policies or might be remedied by domestic policies such as public works programmes, housing projects, social security schemes, and other such intrinsic parts of national planning as we now know it. To-day, there is a totally different outlook. The economic foundations for peace are not those foundations which were planned after the last war. The end we seek is not merely increased trade, but also higher standards of living. Increased trade is vital to higher living standards, but is not the only means to that end.
In any general assessment of the value and future of the proposed United Nations organization, I attach the greatest importance to informed public opinion in all member countries. The Australian delegation assisted in obtaining the adoption of the general rule of practice that meetings of the Assembly shall be open to the public and the press of the world. It was our experience in several instances that the pressure of sectional interests and minority groups was far less in evidence in the public meetings of the commission and plenary sessions than in the private committees. In other words, governments are far more likely to act in accord with public opinion in open sessions than in closed conferences. That being so, it is vital to the success of the organization that the peoples of the world be fully informed not merely on the organization itself, but also on all situations which the organization has to handle.
The Charter is still in the making. The organization has yet to be set up and made to work. It will came into force when the five sponsoring powers and a majority of the other 45 nations which signed the Charter adopt it. There are many st.epping-stones to world prosperity, world justice, and world peace. Dumbarton Oaks was one stepping-stone ; San Francisco was the next. The attainment of the ultimate goal depends, not on any document, hut upon the steadfast determination of governments, and even more upon their peoples. The people have only just emerged from the deadliest of perils - enslavement to the Axis aggressors. The tasks of the peace will bc very heavy, but not so heavy as those of waging war against well-prepared enemies. I have referred to ‘the defects of the Charter because I believe that it is right that the Parliament should know of them and of the obligations it is asked to assume. I do not think that there is any aspect of the Charter to which I have not referred at some stage. It is important to avoid a negative outlook and anything savouring of defeatism or scepticism. The success of the organization will be prejudiced if there is too much cynicism. If we are as resolute in the future in the interests of peace as we have been in the prosecution of the war, we can win the peace. It is our duty to make this organization worthy of those who fought to make victory possible and those who have died for us.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Harrison) adjourned.
– Yesterday when I gave notice that to-day I would move that I have leave to introduce legislation to amend theCommonwealth Public Service Act, I omitted the words “ and for other purposes “. I now ask leave to restate the motion so as to include those words.
– I move-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1922-1943, as amended by the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1945 and by the Eecstablishment and Employment Act 1945, and for other purposes.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
. - by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill had its origin in representations made to the late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, by various Public Service organizations and the Public Service Board. Following those representations, a committee was appointed to inquire into systems of promotion and temporary transfers in the Commonweath Public Service, and in particular -
The chairman of the committee was Professor K. H. Bailey, Professor of Public Law at the University of Melbourne. The other members of the committee were: Mr. F. G. Thorpe, Public Service Commissioner; Mr. L. S. Jackson, Commonwealth Commissioner of Taxation; Mr. R. W. Hamilton, Acting Deputy Director, Posts and Telegraphs, New South Wales; Mr. J. V. Dwyer, general secretary, Amalgamated Postal Workers Union of Australia; Mr. T. B. Goodall, general secretary, Professional Officers Association; Mr. A. V. Langker, general secretary, Commonwealth Service Clerical Association, secretary, Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organizations; and Mr. F. J. Webb, general secretary, Postal Telecommunication Technicians Association. Before dealing with the provisions of the bill, I mention that, except in relation to the matter of efficiency, the committee was unanimous in its decisions; the chairman, Professor Bailey, disagreed with the other members on that point. The bill is based on the decisions of the majority of the committee.
The main provisions in the bill are in respect of the system of making provisional promotions in the Public Service and in dealing with appeals by officers against promotions. The present system provides for selection for promotion on the basis of relative efficiency to be made by permanent heads of departments, and for appeals against the selections to be made to, and determined by, the Public Service Board. The system has been in operation for a little over twenty years “ and from time to time there have” been representations for some change. It has been urged from some quarters that promotion should be on the basis of selection of the senior competent officer, and that appeals should be determined by a judicial body - not an administrative body such as the Public Service Board. At the request of the combined Public Service organizations for an inquiry into the “ promotions “ system, the Government appointed a committee constituted as I have already mentioned and the measure now before the House is to enable effect to be given to the recommendations of the committee. The reasons for the recommendations have been set out in considerable detail in the report which has been printed and made available to honorable members. I do not propose, therefore, to deal with them fully at this stage. Any desired information can be supplied in committee.
The bill also contains provision for setting up classification committees. At present the classification of positions is made by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Board, or by determination of the Public Service Arbitrator. The whole of the .Service was classified from 1st July, 1924, by the Board, but now the classifications of the majority of positions are those fixed by arbitration determinations. The arbitration system does not lend itself readily to the classification of individual positions and the Board and the Clerical Association have represented to the Government that Service arbitration was not designed to effect the classification of large numbers of individual -positions. Both the Asso- ciation and the Board have represented that there should be a regular review of classifications and that this could best be done for the more or less individual positions^ - professional and clerical - by a system that brings into round table conference the Board, the department and the organization covering the class of position being considered. The system has operated to some extent in the New South Wales State Service and overseas and the Government has decided that the request of both the Service and the Board should be met. It is considered that adoption of the proposal would have substantial administrative advantages and would give satisfaction to a large group of officers. This would be not a substitute for arbitration, but a supplementary procedure designed to give effect to the principles of conciliation and agreement between organizations and the Board.
The bill also provides for setting up a consultative council to permit of regular discussion between representatives of the administration and of the staff on matters of general Service concern. In Great Britain there is a body known as the Whitely council, and in Canada and New Zealand there are joint councils. It is proposed that for the Commonwealth Service there should be a council of, say, six members representing the administration and six representing the staffs which should meet perhaps threetimes a year and consider matters such as staff welfare, sick leave conditions, Service seniority systems, improvement of procedures and such like. The council would not deal with individual cases but with principles.
Other provisions in the bill are more or less of a machinery character and can be explained in detail in the committee stage. They cover such matters as the re-appointment to the Service of officers who have resigned to contest elections for Parliament; the continuity of service of officers who have prior service with the Federal Capital Commission; the granting of power to the Public Service Board to transfer officers from one department to another; the re-appointment of an officer whose dismissal followed conviction by a court for . a criminal offence but whose conviction subsequently is quashed ; the granting of leave of absence to officers of the Public Service who may be appointed to represent the Commonwealth of Australia in other countries or who may undertake service with prescribed international bodies or organizations such as Unrra; the preservation of furlough privileges obtained by officers when attached to the Northern Territory Public Service; and provision under which permission can be granted to an officer of the PublicService to be a director of an organization such as a co-operative society.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Holt) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 29th August (vide page 4999), on motion by Mr. Calwell -
That the following paper be printed: -
.- The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) referred to the years when more people left than came to this country. That was when his party was in power. Victoria was governed by the same political party, and the Government of Victoria was the greatest offender. It induced migrants to come here by false pretences, in my opinion. At least, the picture it painted was not true. Immigrants were so dissatisfied that the Victorian Government was forced to pay their return fares to enable them to go back to their own country.
– And pay them compensation too.
– Yes. The majority had no desire to leave Australia because it was Australia ; they desired to leave it because they had been induced by false pretences to come here. In other words, they were told that something existed that did not exist. I hope that this Government will not make that mistake, and will not overstate the case, but will state it truthfully. The partof the immigration policy that interests me most is the suggested bringing to this country of orphans from other countries. I am particularly interested in that because I realize the value of that plan to
Australia if it can be carried out. The extent to which it can be done, if at all, remains for the future to show, but I hope that the representations by the Government through the officers engaged on the work will be as successful as is hoped for.. The matter was lightly treated yesterday by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, but I favour child immigrants because they will grow up as good Australians. Children can be turned into Australians much more easily than can adults.
Australians have one very great fault in treating with people from other countries. I intend to deal with one or two unpopular things in the minds of some people. I do so without fear of the consequences. In my electorate, as honorable members know, there are large numbers of Italians. I have previously said here and over the air, thus making it no secret, that their treatment by Australians is not of the kind that would induce them to adopt Australian customs and ideals. First, they are referred to as “ dagoes “. That is a horrible expression. I can say after 25 years’ experience of them that in the mass they are as good and as bad as other peoples. They are no more vicious than men you will find in Sydney if they are allowed to develop on the same lines. In other words, if you put them in slums, the vicious traits in their character - and they are to be found in all of us - will develop, whereas if they are given good surroundings and a good home life, they make good citizens ready to work hard for their living. In the area that I represent, from Innisfail to Ingham, and farther south, to a lesser extent, the Italian people live. I have been privileged tobe in their homes, which compare favorably with the homes of any other people. In other words, according to the economic circumstances of the parent, the children are developed. The parents send their children to high school after they have passed through primary school, in most cases a State school. They do it to give their children an education to fit them for the future. If honorable members will look up the record of the Italian community, they will find that it is not a bad record. They are a loving people concerned only with the well- being of their children as are all worthwhile parents. The same is true of the German people. I know that it is not popular to talk about bringing Germans here and that the press will report protests from returned soldiers’ organizations against what I” am saying, but that will not prevent me from stating my beliefs. I will .do so regardless of what happens to me. I aim no longer young; indeed, I ‘have lived a long life. In the district in which I was reared there is a large number of German people. They have as .goo.d a record as any other people in it, regardless of where they come from. If we get Germans young enough, we shall be able to eradicate the Nazi doctrine much more easily than from older Germans. I have .no illusions as to what will happen. .1 clearly remember the statement by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) when Prime Minister after the last war, “ Never again will we trade with the Germans ! “, whereas that war was .hardly over before we were again trading with them. And the people for whom he then spoke will soon be trading with the Japanese again, not because their goods are better but because they are cheaper.
It will be a good thing if we can get child immigrants from European countries, preferably from Great Britain. I do not .think we shall get many British children. We shall not find that war orphans are ,so numerous as we first believed they would be as the .result of ohe terrific destruction of life that was expected. I believe, and that happily, there are snot ‘so .many war orphans as we ‘expected. But what are the Government’s intentions on this. matter.? I have learned from the press that the Commonwealth has approved of a scheme in principle for bringing to Australia 50,000 children, mainly war orphans, over a period of three years. I sincerely trust that we shall be able to get them. The advantages are that children can be .readily assimilated into Australian ways by receiving education here, mixing with our own children and growing up into good Australians inculcated with the best ideas. Moreover, they .do not compete economically but rather create work since they must be housed .clothed and fed. It is also a humane gesture on the Government’s part to try to obtain children that have suffered by the war. and may have but little future in their own countries. If the pictures published and the stories we read are only half true no doubt -there is a hard time ahead not only for the children but also for the adults in those countries.
I have heard that only .a small number of children of war orphans are available from the United Kingdom. This is quite contrary to the belief generally held while the war was at its height, that there would be many thousands of children who could be brought to Australia. There may be suitable children available from continental countries in considerable numbers, and I hope that that source will be fully tested with a view to ensuring that the Government’s proposed child migration scheme will meet with the success that we all desire. About five weeks ago I was visiting the home of a friend with whom lived an English woman who had been evacuated from Hong Kong. That woman told me that she had met the parents of four English children who had been evacuated to .Australia from .England. She said that -to her great .surprise the parents of .those children told -her that “they were having the greatest .difficulty in inducing their .children to return to .England. They did not want to go back to the fogs and the cold weather of England, but preferred to stay in this land of sunshine. Those parents were wondering whether .they themselves should not settle in this country rather than take their children back to England. - The fact that those children had in only four years become attached to Australia warrants .the belief that children who are brought to this country between the ages of seven and twelve years will soon become acclimatized, and will not want to leave Australia. Dealing with the subject of child’ migration, I take the following from an article published in the New Era, in which it quotes an English writer, J. C. Johnstone, as saying that Britain would fall to the level of a second or third-class power, unless it increased its population -
The war taught Britain a bitter lesson; the vital importance of mau-power. In peacetime, -sire was embarrassed by “the number o,f her people seeking work, and it is unlikely that Britain will ever forget her war-time lesson. lt is estimated that Britain requires 700,000 babies per annum to even maintain her population at its present level of 46,000,000. But the number of potential mothers is shrinking every year, therefore the crop of babies mentioned cannot be harvested.
If the British birth-rate continues to fall at the same rate after the war, as it did in the five years prior to the war, Britain’s population a century hence will be barely 30,000,000. Britain must, consequently, increase her birth-rate by 25 per cent, in the next 30 years and maintain it at that figure. How can she do this?
It must be remembered that during sis disastrous years of war, Britain lost the flower of her youth, and that millions of her young women are destined to remain spinsters, owing to the natural balance between the sexes having been thrown into chaos by the grim destroyer, war.
That observation applies to not only Great Britain but also Australia, and every other country whose man-power has felt the impact of war. Many of our young men have been killed, or maimed, with the result that the ratio of the sexes has been thrown out of balance; and procreation retarded. “We shall never help migrants to assimilate Australian ideas if we continue to treat them as inferiors, and refer to them in offensive terms. We should endeavour to make friends of them. Only in that way shall we secure the best results. Three bishops who live in my electorate have told me- that they have found that migrants from foreign countries living in north Queensland are of excellent types. 0$ course, we should prefer migrants from! Great Britain, but it is doubtful whether we shall be able to get them for a considerable’ time to- come. I agree with the honorable’ member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) that we must get busy on the subject of migration. I do not believe that wc shall be able to attract very great numbers of migrants from any country daring- the next few years.
The Minister has mentioned the difficulty of returning our soldiers to these shores, owing to lack of shipping. Lack of” transport will prove to be a serious obstacle to any flow of migrants. However, the ‘Government is giving full attention to such difficulties with the object of encouraging’ the most desirable classes- of migrants to- come to Australia in great’ numbers’. We must populate this land, or be destroyed as a nation. In any scheme to attract migrants, the first requisite is to tell the truth. Prospective migrants should be fully informed of the possibilities of life on the land. For this purpose, details of soil productivity, rainfall, temperature, &c, should be made available. Intending settlers should be told of the prospects of obtaining’ employment in our factories. We should encourage the expansion of secondary industries in order to build up our home market. Provided we do that, we shall not need to did> any “ touting “ for migrants. We shall attract the best class of people simply by giving them truthful information about conditions in this country, and newcomers in, their turn will pass on- the facts’ to- relatives’ they have left behind, and thus induce others to follow them to these shores.. Why is it that so many people from foreign countries have settled in north Queensland? It is not because they had any particular desire to go to that part of Australia, but because they were informed of the. actual .conditions existing in those districts by friends and relatives who were making a. success of life on the land or as employees in the numerous industries carried on in north Queensland. For instance;, many Yugoslavs and Finns who settled at first in Western Australia have been attracted to north Queensland by good reports from friends living there. Indeed, not many years ago in Innisfail, notices advertising sales of stock or farming implements were1 published in .as- many as eight languages. Many of those people went to- north Queensland after living in other parts of Australia where they found conditions less, favorable. Most of the Yugoslavs and Finns to whom I have (referred originally worked as farm labourers in Western Australia- for a wage of fi a week. When they found that they could earn much higher wages in north Queensland working to hours proclaimed by law, they naturally went there.
I have not found anything wrong with migrants from foreign countries. So long as we tell the truth about conditions in this1 country concerning the prospects of earning a livelihood, the best classes of migrants will be attracted to Australia mainly on the information supplied to them by friends already living in this country. No attempt should be made to give the impression to people in other countries that they can make a fortune in Australia. We should simply tell them the truth about conditions here. Of course, it will be preferable to attract families to this country. Complete arrangements should be made for the reception of war orphans under a scheme by which the children will be properly housed and cared for until they are able to fend for themselves. In that way we shall obtain real Australians. However, there is much room for improvement in our attitude towards migrants from foreign countries. For instance, I know a young man, now aged 37, whose father is a naturalizedGerman and whose mother was born in Sydney. This young man was born in Germany. He arrived in this country when he was three months old, and has not sincebeen out of Australia; but he is classed as an enemy alien. He has been in charge of important construction works for the Civil Constructional Corps, including works of a very secret nature, among which was the creation of the chief aerodrome at Townsville. Altogether he has supervised the construction of defence works valued at approximately £250,000. I am sure that he would not have been entrusted with such responsible duties were he not favorably known to the officers of the Security Branch. That man is an “ Aussie “ in the real sense of the term, but officially he is classified as an enemy alien.
I repeat that we should not in any way give the impression to prospective migrants that they can live in luxury in Australia. We must make the truth clear, namely, that a man who works hard can earn a good living in this country. Persons who are attracted to Australia under those conditions will undoubtedly prove successful, whereas any attracted here under false pretences will just as surely become dissatisfied and will not make good citizens. We should first encourage people of British descent in any policy of migration, but should they not be available in sufficient numbers we should welcome white people from any other country. I know of no objection to migrants from Holland or Greece. I believe that the Minister is doing a good job in this new department, just as he has been doing a good job with respect to several matters which have been “ taboo “ with honorable members opposite, particularly with respect to naturalization. I have always contended that we have a better chance of making a good Australian of an alien by allowing him to become naturalized than by refusing him naturalization simply because he cannot speak our language fluently. I know of many foreigners who have lived in Australia for up to 40 years but have been refused naturalization because they have not been able to master the English language to the satisfaction of the migration authorities.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later hour.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I have pleasure in advising honorable members that the Governments of the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have agreed upon a plan for the disposal of the stocks of dominion-grown wool which have accumulated during the war. As honorable members know, the United Kingdom purchased all Australian and New Zealand wool during the war, and supported the market for South African wool. Resulting from those purchases and from the war-time trading transactions, the United Kingdom Government possesses an accumulated surplus of dominion-grown wool, amounting to 10,000,000 bales. The plan now adopted, in addition to providing for the sale of those accumulated stocks, contains price safeguards for all clips coming forward each year during the period of disposal, which may be fourteen years. During that period, the four governments will meet yearly and decide, for the following year, the general level of reserve prices for wool, below which sales will not be made either from stocks or from current clips. Arrangements will be made to buy in and hold any wool of current clips which does not find commercial buyers at the reserve prices or better ; and to sell, at appropriate prices, wool now in stock and wool bought in during the operation of the plan. The speedy disposal of the accumulated stocks will depend on the continuance of an active trade in wool, sufficient to absorb, at not less than the reserve prices, the equivalent of each current clip and some wool from accumulated stocks.
The operation of the plan requires the establishment by the four governments of a joint organization which, on their behalf and subject to their decisions on matters of high policy, will be responsible for administration. This organization will be required to care for and dispose of present accumulated stocks of dominion-grown wool. It will operate on the market for the purpose of maintaining the reserve prices decided upon by governments; make an annual recommendation to governments regarding the general level of the reserve price for the ensuing year; and co-operate with all bodies concerned with increasing the use of wool.
In addition to the principal board of the joint organization, which will consist of representatives of the four governments, each of the three dominions will establish an organization to perform all the active work required in that dominion. The principal board will decide matters of common policy, including the annual recommendation to governments regarding the general level of the reserve price, and., when governments have decided on that price, its application amongst the various types of wool. Each dominion organization will, by a system of appraisement, apply the reserve price to each lot of wool prior to its submission to auction.
The method of marketing will differ from both the pre-war and the war-time methods. Prior to the war, wool was sold at auction without any intervention by governments, or any protection of the grower from the vagaries of the market. The result was seen in the violent price fluctuations which occurred from year to year. In the 20 years prior to the war, the highest average annual price per pound of greasy wool was 27 pence Australian currency in 1924-25, and the lowest was 8.4 pence Australian currency in 1930-31. In the last pre-war year, 1938-39, the average price per pound waa 10.4 pence Australian currency.
During the war, the Government has used the war-time power of acquisition and has paid to growers prices decided by appraisement and based on the flat rate price paid by the United Kingdom for all Australian wool, which was 13.4 pence Australian currency from 1939-40 to 1941-42, and 15.5 pence Australian currency from 1942-43 to the present time. Upon acquirement, the wool was passed over to the United Kingdom, which decided what the issue prices to buyers would be.
Under the plan to be adopted during the period required for the disposal of wool accumulations, the system of appraisement and acquisition will continue for the present season, 1945-46, without any change in conditions or price. As soon as practicable thereafter, the growers’ general reserve price will take the place of the war-time flat rate purchase price. Each grower’s wool will be appraised, and that appraisement will decide his reserve price. Wool will be sold at auction, and if the return from auction, after meeting the contributory charge, exceeds the reserve price, the grower will reap the benefit of the market. If the best price offered at auction by a commercial bidder is less than the reserve price, after provision is made for the contributory charge, the organization will buy in the wool and the grower will be paid the appropriate reserve price. In each case, the grower will meet his selling costs, as he does at present.
The costs of operating the plan as it relates to Australian wool will be borne as follows: - One-half by the industry, and one-half jointly by the United Kingdom and Australian Governments. The Australian Government is assuming half ownership in the Australian-grown wool at present owned by the British Government, and the two governments will share equally in the financing of all further purchases of wool during the operation of the plan. They will share equally in profits or losses on disposal of all wool, arid will charge against realizations their share. of the costs of operating the plan. The initial capital investment of Australia is £40,000,000 sterling, and will be provided over a period of four years under conditions laid down in the plan. The additional investments in future purchases of wool at reserve prices cannot, be estimated ; nor can it be said at this stage whether the final realizations will result in a profit or a loss:
The half share of the industry in COStS of operation will be provided through the contributory charge. The amount of this charge will be added to the grower’s reserve price and the resulting figure will be the reserve price to be placed on that wool at auction. Thus, the grower’s reserve price will take the place of the price paid to the grower under the wartime acquisition plan, and the auction reserve price will take the place of the price at which wool is now issued to overseas buyers. In both cases, the margin between the price paid to the grower and that charged to the buyer is required to cover costs.-
It- would be wrong, and indeed foolish, to attempt any forecast of the future movement of wool prices. The principal object of this plan is to protect woolgrowers against the serious fall which would undoubtedly occur in the price if the accumulated stocks were unloaded on the market indiscriminately. The plan will certainly afford that protection; it will also prevent undue price fluctuations in individual years and between- one year and the next. Furthermore, every effort will be exerted by the governments and the joint organization to increase the use of wool, and to maintain a reasonable level of wool prices.
This is a great and difficult commercial venture. It is not simply a- plan to dispose of the initial stocks; as was Bawra. Its provisions include the annual determination of the minimum income from wool of every dominion wool producer. It therefore amounts to the underwriting of the income of dominion wool producers during the next fourteen years or thereabouts. That period is based upon ari estimated increase of about 20 per cent. in the world’s consumption of wool. If the increase exceeds that estimate, the period will be shorter. But if consumption does not increase- to that degree, the period will naturally be ‘longer. Preparedness to undertake this responsibility jointly is a bold step by the four governments. The success of the plan will depend on the efficiency of its administration, and on the realistic behaviour of the governments themselves and of the industry in all its branches. The Commonwealth Government has conferred fully with the growers, and is also consulting the organizations of buyers, brokers, and manufacturers, whose cooperation, gladly and fully given during the war,, will still be required.
While at present confined, in its active provisions, to Empire countries-, this is, in its effects, an international plan. Itis the first of such plans to be agreed upon for post-war operation. We must do everything we can to make it successful, for the sake of our greatest industry and our general economy, and in the interests of world economic co-operation.
There are many points which it is not possible for me to explain in a comparatively brief statement of this kind, and if honorable members on both sides of the chamber desire at some time to discuss this subject, before the necessary legislation is introduced. I shall arrange with the leader of the Australian delegation, Mr. Murphy, who is the Secretary of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, to give to them a general explanation of the plan and answer any questions that they may ask him. Even when honorable members are discussing a bill in committee, it is difficult to deal with all the points that they raise. If my suggestion is acceptable to them, the necessary arrangements will be made.
The Government will, at the earliest possible date, bring down legislation to ratify the agreement which has been reached, to set up the- Australian organization, and to do other things necessary to give effect to the arrangement. As I explained to-day, it is not possible, because of certain minor alterations of the wording, to give a detailed statement’ of the agreement, and this is the first opportunity that the Government has had to place this document before honorable members fox consideration. I shall allow them ample opportunity to study the agreement. I lay on the table the following paper: -
Post-war Wool Realizations - Report and recommendations of Conference held in London, .April-May, 1945. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fadden) adjourned.
Commonwealth Government Policy
Debate resumed (vide page 5044).
.- When I asked leave to continue my remarks earlier this evening I was about to say that, yesterday, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), when speaking on this motion, declared that any person who said anything in opposition to the White Australia policy expressed a view contrary to the considered opinion of the Australian people. I believe that statement, and desire to place on record the opinion of a man who for some years has held a prominent position in the public life of Australia. He is Mr. E. S. Spooner, a former member of this House and a former Minister of the Crown in New South Wales. Doubtless Mr. Spooner voiced his honest opinion about the White Australia policy, and in doing so had more courage than many people have; but if he is a starter in the next election stakes he may have a fairly substantial handicap. The following paragraphs appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 9th July last : -
The White Australia policy should be amended so that coloured races could be admitted to Australia on a quota .basis, Mr. IS. S. Spooner .said yesterday.
Some elasticity in the White Australia policy might remove distrust from stronger nations and give it a better chance for permanence without impairing its basic characteristics, he added.
Mr. Spooner, who was speaking in St. Stephen’s Church, urged that the Immigration Act should bc amended to encourage the migration of desirable settlers from other white countries, particularly from Britain and America.
He also urged the removal of the “ offensive features “ of the legislation in its application to the .coloured races except the Japanese.
This could be :done by a quota system to ensure the continued predominance ,of a white population, he said.
The quota system in operation in America could be adopted in Australia without endangering the white foundation.
Incidentally, I have heard American officers and servicemen say that the only good “ niggers “ are dead ones. The report continues -
It had the advantage of removing the offensive discriminations that arose under the present system in Australia. These discriminations were calculated to make enemies.
The quota system could be administered with provisions for naturalization and education to ensure that desirable aliens in controlled numbers could be brought to Australian standards.
Since 1925, Mr. Spooner said, the White Australia policy had been more oi a protective tariff for Australian wages and social standards and less of a protection for the bloodstream.
I say it was for other reasons that the White .Australia policy was introduced.. The report further states -
Ti Australia’s birth-rate had been maintained from 1911 onward, wo would now have millions more people and development would have proceeded apace with the population. if -Australia were to suffer another depression after the present war, the .birth-rate could decline to a rate that would result in a net annual loss of population. This directed attention to the need for the replenishment of population by emigration, or to the alternative of a dying White Australia policy.
The duty of .the Government, he said, was to provide leadership in a plan that would a’bsorb population at the standards created in Australia.
The commencing-point for a production plan capable of .supporting an employed white population would be .the abandonment of all unnecessary restrictions on the exercise of free enterprise and initiative, and the encouragement of leadership in development and industry.
Recently, Alderman Roberts, of the Brisbane City Council, a prospective parliamentarian and ‘a battler for the leadership of the Queensland People’s party, which incidentally has refused to join the Liberal party, made an interesting statement bearing upon the question of migration. The following report of what he said appeared in the Courier Mail of the 22nd August : -
Suggestion that 100,000 of the enemy should be brought into Australia for ten years to work, was made by Alderman Roberts (Buranda) at yesterday’s City Council meeting.
Speaking during a discussion an the schedule of roads for resurfacing, ie said : “ Some members of the Axis should have to pay to the common man for the lost years of the war “.
He thought that 5,000 Japanese could be brought into Brisbane, kept under some military control, and housed, clothed, and fed humanely, but given nothing more. Their presence here would not mean unemployment among Australians, as the post-war years were expected to provide more work than there would be labour offering.
My purpose in quoting those reports is to place on record the attitude of members of anti-Labour organizations to the question of migration. Alderman Roberts wants to bring 100,000 Japanese to this country, and Mr. Spooner seeks the admission of thousands of other aliens. During his term of office in this Parliament, and in the New South Wales Parliament, Mr. Spooner was the representative of big business. In the Commonwealth sphere, he was considered sufficiently capable to lead the Opposition in certain debates. Therefore, his statement carries some authority. I have no doubt that he meant what he said, and that he said it because he had a little more courage than his associates. The same may be said of Alderman Roberts. After the last war,- the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who was the war-time Prime Minister, said that never again would we trade with Germany; but it was not long before business interests in this country were doing business with German firms. I have no doubt also that supporters of the Liberal party are prepared to trade again with Japan as soon as the opportunity arises.
.- At present, we are confronted with three problems bearing upon Australia’s ‘relationship with the external world. The first is a matter which was discussed in this chamber earlier to-day, namely the United Nations Charter. That subject bears directly upon the security of Australia, and, of course, bound up with the security of Australia is Australia’s defence and the strength of our fighting forces. The second problem is one of equal importance, namely, our overseas trade; and the third, which affects Australia’s relations with other countries, is the building up of a reasonably large population in this country. The third problem is certainly not the least important of the three. In Australia to-day there are many people who believe that we are quite happy as we are; that we have existed quite happily for many years as a comparatively small community and that we can continue to do so for innumerable years to come. In one sense, they are quite right. A country with a large population is not necessarily happier than a country with a small population. In fact, in densely populated countries, such as China and Japan, there is usually great distress, hardship, and a low standard of living; but that is not the whole question. Competition in production and trade throughout the world is keen to-day, and will be even keener in the future, and undoubtedly many troubles and difficulties will be encountered. Australia cannot live unto itself alone. Not only must we accept our share of responsibilities as a nation, but Ave must have the strength to live up to our ambitions and to our world status. That means that we must have strength proportionate to that status and to our ambitions. It is also true - and this is frequently forgotten by many people - that an increasing population means increasing prosperity. An examination of the history of the world during the last 100 years, particularly from the beginning of the 19th century onwards, shows that increasing industrial activity has resulted in a substantial increase of the population of the world, particularly of Europe. As industry expanded increased supplies became available for consumption, and so population increased, with consequent further demands upon industry. That progress was maintained throughout the last century, and in the early years of the present century, until the population of many countries became static, leading to difficulty in disposing of surplus primary and secondary products. An increase of the population of this country, either by migration, or a substantial increase of the birth-rate, would lead to increased demands being placed upon our industries, and in turn, those industries would require the services of more employees. This trend undoubtedly would make for increased prosperity for everybody in this country. That is a matter which I believe the people of this country are apt to overlook when considering migration.
The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) claimed that certain individuals connected with the Liberal party bad reflected upon the wisdom of the White Australia policy. I contend that the validity of that policy cannot be disputed. It has been in operation for more than 50 years, and I believe that it is supported by every political party in the Commonwealth, and by every member of each party. I do not believe that now or in the future, a departure from that policy would be considered. Looking back over the last 20 or 30 years we are fortified in that policy by finding that complex social problems have arisen in other countries which have opened their doors to migrants of all races and colours. Those problems are most difficult of solution. Professor Hancock, whose name is well known to honorable members, has stated that the White Australia policy has been more reconcilable with goodwill amongst members of the British Umpire and friendly relations with foreign powers than any other policy which could be imagined. I believe that to be true. At the same time, it cannot be denied that the implementation of this policy has caused resentment amongst certain nations which regard it in the nature of a provocative challenge. This perhaps has tended to obscure the fact that it is a negative condition of a positive policy which aims to build this continent with races predominantly British and entirely European. Possibly the defiant attitude which we have manifested to the world at times has drawn attention away from the fact that there are other continents as sparsely populated as Australia. For instance, in South America there are some countries which could support a much larger population. In the African continent also there are vast areas suitable for white settlement; yet these countries are not challenged by nations which complain about the White Australia policy.
I congratulate the Minister upon having the courage to approach the problems of migration in an entirely realistic manner. They are not easy to solve.
They are very complex both in their incidence on this country, and in their effects abroad. However, I differ from the Minister on some aspects of the problems. I believe that the solutions which he propounds, rather vaguely, reveal a timid approach. Although he is aware of the difficulties of the present situation it seems to me that he has allowed them to hinder his understanding of the manner in which that situation has arisen.
– If my programme is carried out, it will prove twice as good as anything hitherto attempted.
– I am trying to be constructive, and not too critical. If we are to achieve our objective, clearly we have to take unusual steps. Statements have been made in this House in regard to the stimulation of our birth-rate. It has been said that the best immigrant is the Australianborn child. Nobody will deny that. But we are faced with the same phenomenon as has been experienced in every other country except Japan and India - a falling birth-rate. That is not new, either here or elsewhere. All the steps that have been taken to raise the birth-rate in order to increase the population have completely failed everywhere. We have granted a maternity allowance and given income tax concessions in order to induce the people to increase the size of their families. These concessions have proved entirely inadequate, and there is no sign of their being made more generous. None of these measures; has been the means of producing one additional child. In other countries, notwithstanding the more generous concessions, the result has been the same. Attempts to raise the birth-rate have been made in Scandinavia, the United States of America to some slight extent, Italy, Germany and Great Britain. In not one country, except Germany for a brief period, has the rate been raised appreciably. Therefore, I see no real hope of a great improvement of the birth-rate, such as would result in a proper increase of the population of Australia. All that we can do is to continue our efforts, and try a little harder than we have tried by giving really worthwhile concessions that will induce people to have more children.
I do not propose to enlarge now on the matter. I hope that it will receive the consideration of the Government.
T turn now to the subject of migration from abroad. There- are three variables which seem to affect the flow of migration to any country. The. first variable is’ the economic and social conditions - the general well-being of the people - in the country to which the migrants go. The second variable is the conditions in other countries. The third variable is the character and amount of the assistance given by the Government of the country to which the migrants are invited. I have illuminating figures which show what took place in Australia between 1860 and 1936. From 1860 to 1891, a period of 32 years, Australia had an aggregate migration intake of 791,900, an annual average increase of 24,750. In the following fifteen years, from 1892- to. 1906, there was an aggregate loss of 20,836, an annual average of 1,590.
– That covered the. period of the bank smashes.
– It covered the period of a depression. From 1907 to 1913, a period of seven years, there was an increase of 291,800, an annual average of 41,690. In the following six years, from 1914 to 1919, there was a loss of 49,53’3, an annual average of 8,260. From 1921 to 1929, a period of ten years, the aggregate increase was 349,109, an annual increase of 34,911. From 1930 to 1936, a period of seven years, during which the last depression occurred, we lost 17,919, an annual average of 2,560. The material point in those figures is that, during the years of comparative prosperity from 1860 to 1891, we had a very large intake of population. In the depression which followed, we lost population for a period of fifteen years. Then there was another period of prosperity, followed by the years of the war of 1914-18, which really cannot be taken into account. In the years of comparative and, at times, real prosperity, after the last war, the gain was 349,109. The average net gain per annum for the 64 years from 1860 to 1924, and during the further period of post-war migration to 1929, was five and a half persons to every 1,000 of the mean population. That represents a comparatively small intake from abroad.
– Yet the honorable gentleman contends that our target of 70,000 a year is rather a. timid approach to the subject!
– I have not given the last of the figures. Judging by experience, we find that our absorptive capacity averages between 35,000 and 40,000 per annum. The important point that 1 should like the House to realize i3 that, on the basis of our intake during the last SO years, it will take 25 years to raise our population by 1,000,000 by means of migration. That is of considerable importance, for the- reason that, compared with other countries’, we have gone to the greatest trouble and made the biggest offers to migrants.
– We want to bring in T per cent, per annum.
– That is why I say that the approach is timid.
– Comparatively, we are masterly courageous.
– I cannot see that.. 1 want this, country to make a real effort to bring people in. It has. to do something that has not been done in the past. The methods that have been used will not succeed in getting people to come here. That must be clear to anybody who has studied the subject. We have first to stimulate our own birth-rate.
– Does the honorable gentleman believe that marriage loans would help to solve the problem?
– I do. Although the scheme has never been entirely satisfactory where it has been tried, in Italy and Germany, there is. no harm in trying it.
– In both of those countries, the effect wa-s to increase the birth-rate.
– Only temporarily. The total increase was not very great. I do not believe that the scheme was completely successful. The first step in the campaign towards securing migrants from abroad lies in Australia. The living conditions in this country must be made so attractive that prospective migrants will regard this as a land of promise. I had an experience which, when it occurred, made a very great impression on my mind. Before the last war, I was engaged on a mission in Austrian Galicia. One day, on the upper banks of the Vistula., I became lost, and wandered about trying to find some person who would show me the way to reach my destination. I saw a decent looking man standing by the side of the road, and addressed him in poor Polish. He looked at me, and answered in broad American. I had not heard English spoken for three weeks, and naturally was surprised. In the ensuing conversation, I learned that he was a Pole who, in early life, had left Galicia and gone to New York, where he had made good, after which he returned to Galicia, bought a property, settled down, and became a farmer in a fairly large way. His experience had been such that many of his neighbours had left their small holdings in Galicia in order to try their fortunes in the United States of America. We want people to come out here imbued with the same idea. I do not suggest that we want them to return to their own country after they have proved successful here. When they had found how grand u country this is, and what great opportunities it offers, they could write home to their friends and relatives urging that they come out and join them. The conditions should be made so satisfactory that people will want to come here, not have to be asked, begged, and brought out free. That seems to me to be almost the most important of the steps that we have to take.
The Minister referred to the migration of something like 50,000 orphan children. 1 agree that the idea is a good one, but why limit the number to 50,000?
– We shall be very lucky if we get anything like that number.
– If we try to get 100,000 or 150,000 we may get 75,000. The honorable member for Balaclava. (Mr. White), who, unfortunately, owing to a family illness, is not able to speak on this subject has stated his views in writing, and I add them to what I have said because they are in accordance with those that I hold. In relation to the migration of -children, he refers to the successful ex periment that is known as the Fairbridge scheme. Everybody realizes that the Fairbridge boys schools have turned out very good men, most of whom have proved successful. The honorable member for Balaclava states that when he was in England in 1938, and again in 1942, the secretary of the Fairbridge scheme, who is a native of Melbourne, saw him regarding a continuance and an expansion of the scheme. The honorable -member adds that, as an aid to primary production with well-trained young people, many of whom become self-reliant farmers owning their own properties, the scheme could scarcely be bettered.
The second means of obtaining child migrants suggested by the honorable member is the adoption of orphaned children from abroad. He says that the British Orphans Adoption Society founded in Sydney, set out with the object of adopting orphaned British children. It has lists of the names of persons in New South Wales who will legally adopt children, and give to them all the amenities and education that would be given to their own children. There is no doubt, he says, that such home life, when properly supervised, is superior to the best institutional arrangements. There are branches also in Victoria,, South Australia and Canberra. The society has agreed to adopt European children, more particularly Dutch or Polish if British children are not forthcoming. He further states, as President of the Victorian branch, that 100 children can be placed immediately in good homes. This number, i’e contends, could be multiplied many times, but through uncertainty as to whether governmental encouragement would be forthcoming, a standstill arrangement was arrived at pending clarification of the position as to governmental assistance. A representative committee exists, and it can expand and function at short notice. The selection of children in Great Britain by a governmentsponsored committee and their transport to Australia would be expected, after which the British Orphans Adoption Society would take over all other responsibility and see that State supervision by the Child Welfare Department in each State v.-.i.a arranged.
I now turn to adult migration. In 1938 we had a system of nominated passages for migrants whereby payment of the passage money of migrants nominated by friends or relatives in Australia was shared equally by the United Kingdom Government, the Commonwealth Government and the migrants, children being carried free. I understand that the Minister is now considering a scheme of that kind.
– Yes, but it is an improvement on the old scheme.
– I also understand that consideration is being given to a proposal to bring British ex-servicemen to Australia.
– Negotiations are now proceeding between the Governments of Great Britain and the Commonwealth on that matter, and I hope to be able to announce that an agreement has been reached with regard to it at a not very distant date.
– The Royal Australian Air Force Initial Training Schools in each State could be used for the accommodation of British ex-servicemen until they could be provided with employment. The camp at Somers has all necessary amenities for about 1,500 men: and women. Such camps should not revert to the Commonwealth Disposals Board, but the huge governmental expenditure incurred should be availed of for a useful developmental purpose. It is also suggested by the honorable member for Balaclava that we should explore the possibility of obtaining British ex-servicemen from India, where a large personnel is serving with British units. Many of these men would no doubt be glad to take up work in Australia, perhaps on the land, but more probably in secondary industries.
– Many of those who came here under the last scheme were dissatisfied.
– “We should take steps to prevent the present scheme from sharing the same fate as the last. There is also a possibility of inducing members of the Royal Navy who have come to the SouthWest Pacific Area to settle in Australia.
– Arrangements have been made to that end.
– To what work will migrants be put when they arrive in Australia? For about 100 years we have relied mostly on land settlement schemes. Between the years 1860 and 1904, and from 1920 onwards, the great majority of migrants to this country were placed on the land, but the results were disappointing. We have, however, discovered by experience that the successful settlement of migrants on the land is not an easy matter. It is in fact a very complex one, into which factors such as climate, soil and markets enter. Opportunities for settling people on the land have diminished, but the problem is difficult of solution even where there are such opportunities. The majority of our Crown lands have already been alienated and settled.
– Not in all of the States.
– They have in all of the southern States, but not in Queensland. The principle on which we are now proposing to place people on the land is different from that adopted in the past. At one time it was thought that large estates should be subdivided and that the owners should not be permitted to prevent the closer settlement of such land.. Therefore the properties were divided into blocks regarded as living area3, but experience has shown that the areas allotted were in the majority of cases far too small. The settlers should be given economic areas, and not merely living areas.
The Minister spoke almost wholely of immigration from Great Britain. Of course we should all prefer migrants from the Old Country. . Australians are nearly 100 per cent, of British stock, and we wish to remain so, but it is doubtful whether we shall ever be able to obtain from the Motherland the quotas of migrants which we require. Whilst we should make every effort to attract the maximum number of migrants from Great Britain, we should also endeavour to get them from other countries. First I suggest that we should try to get them from Scandinavian countries. The populations of Denmark, Norway and Sweden are not large, and it is unlikely that people could be induced to migrate from those countries to Australia in large numbers. When the honorable member for Balaclava was overseas in 1938, he found that Northern Ireland, Holland and Denmark were anxious to co-operate with Australia in the provision of migrants. Holland seems to offer good opportunities for obtaining a flow of migrants to our shores. Through enemy action about an eighth of that country can no longer be farmed, and no doubt many of its people would be glad to try their fortunes in Australia. I suggest that we should also endeavour to obtain migrants from Poland. I have not in mind the immigration to this country of Polish Jews, but the average Pole would make a good citizen of Australia. Many Poles have served with the Allied forces in the war, and, as they would probably be doubtful about returning to Poland under the new regime, we may be able to induce a considerable numof them to migrate to Australia.
– About 20,000 Poles have served with the Royal Air Force, and we are inquiring whether they desire to migrate. Mr. Churchill said some time ago, that .he was contemplating- giving British citizenship to Poles who served on the side of the Allies.
– I suggest that we should offer them Australian citizenship. As a last resort we should turn to Southern European countries in order to make up the balance of the quotas we find ourselves able to take. As I stated earlier, if we proceed on the same lines as in the past we shall fall far short of our goal. The Minister spoke of bringing out 70,000 people a year. At that rate, fourteen years -would elapse before we increased the population by 1,000,000. If we aim high we could surely reach better figures than that. We should try to transfer whole industries with their operatives to this country. We must give such immigrants an assurance that they will be allowed to carry on in Australia under conditions which are considered by them to be reasonable. Finally I impress on the Government the necessity for striking while the iron is hot. Attention was drawn to this fact by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt). Europe is at present in a state of turmoil. Hundreds of thousands of people in Poland, France, Belgium, Holland, Italy and even Denmark would no doubt be glad to escape from the landa in which they have lived in horror for years. In Australia they would enjoy conditions far better than those experienced by them during the last ten years.
– We have not sufficient shipping to bring the wives of 3,000 of our servicemen back to Australia.
– But when will conditions again become normal? They will not be normal for a long time. The Minister seems to have adopted a policy of procrastination.
– How are we to’ overcome the physical difficulty due to lack of shipping?
– I am not talking about next month or the following month, but next year and the years after that.
– Eighteen months from now we shall start to bring migrants to this country.
– I wish to see arrangements made for their reception, and work provided for them on arrival.
– I support the Government’s proposals outlined in the statement by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell). We have just listened to the honorable and gallant colonel from Flinders (Mr. Ryan), and yesterday we heard the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), the gallant captain of the guard. On the subject of “White Australia” their outlook is the same. They support the policy on racial grounds, while members of the Labour party support it on economic grounds. In the early part of this century the party which was the forerunner of that which those two honorable gentlemen now support permitted the “ shanghaiing “ of thousands of kanakas to work on the Queensland sugar plantations. The party to which the honorable member for Flinders belongs doe3 not bear the same name, but it is the same kind of party, for all that. As a matter of fact, it. is like a wanted man - driven to using aliases in order to deceive those who are after it. The criminal seeks to deceive the policeman. The Opposition seeks to deceive the electors. Already, it has twice borne the name of Liberal - during the early part of the last war, and at the present time.
I realize that Australia must have a larger population. That was brought home to us during the early part of the war which has just terminated when we were told by Downing-street that we had to look after ourselves because Britain, as a result of the U-boat, menace and the shortage of shipping, could do little for us. It was not that Britain was unwilling to help us - it was unable to do so. At that time Britain was standing practically alone against the enemy. Australia, with a population of 7,000,000 people, was left to defend itself, and- the task would have been impossible if help had not been forthcoming. We should never forget the assistance which we received from the United States of America at that time. Without it Australia would have been invaded.
The need to increase the birth-rate jas been emphasized by honorable members on both sides of the House - some of whom are themselves as barren as the Rock of Gibraltar. The decline of the birth-rate in Australia has been remarkable. In the sixties pf last century, when the total population of Australia was only about. 2,000,000, the birth-rate was 42 per 1,000. Since then it has steadily declined until, at the present time, it is only 14 per 1,000. In this regard, one apanese is reported to have said: “ Why should we rush into the mouths of their cannon? We need only crouch and wait until the white races destroy themselves by birth control “. What is the reason Tor the decline of the birth-rate? Some say that it is economic, but statistics prove that those on the highest incomes Have, on the average, the fewest children. Those who can afford to have families refuse to have them. The women refuse t6 be tied to their homes with all the drudgery of minding children. They want to be free to go out and enjoy themselves on one or two nights a week the same as their husbands. The well-to-do are able to do this because they are able to afford to keep a maid. I suggest that the basic wage and child endowment payments should be increased so as to allow the wife of a working man to keep a maid also. Then she would be able to have children, and still participate in some of the social enjoyments which are open to those on higher incomes. In this way a higher birth-rate might be encouraged.
I am in favour of encouraging the migration to Australia of people from Great Britain. In my own electorate 80 per cent, of the people have come from the Old Country. It ‘has been found that when new arrivals come to the district they immediately begin to save money to enable them to .return to Great Britain to visit their aged parents, and the second parting, when they return to Australia, is worse than the first. This difficulty could be overcome by instituting a reciprocal pensions scheme between Great Britain and Australia, similar to that operating between Australia and New Zealand, so that the young migrants could bring their parents out to Australia with them. The shipping companies have made huge profits out of migrants travelling to and from Great Britain to see their parents. I hope that when the Minister for Defence i (Mr Beasley) goes to London as Australia’s Minister he will keep this suggestion in mind. Some of those who came to Australia years ago from Great Britain have now qualified here for the old-age pension, but if they were to return to the land of their birth for the remainder of their lives they would not be eligible to draw it. For their sake, the reciprocal arrangement should be made, even though it is not likely that many of those who have lived for years in Australia would be willing to return to the Old Country and endure its climate.
As the right honorable member for North .Sydney (Mr. Hughes) has warned us, we must populate or perish, but we should avoid rushing into an illconsidered migration scheme as we did before and after the war of 1914-18. We remember that, in 1928, an act was passed by this Parliament making provision for sending back to Great Britain immigrants who alleged that they had been misled into coming to Australia. They complained that although they had been promised work, no work was obtainable; that the land on which they had been settled was so unproductive that they could not earn a living on it. We should seek to avoid a repetition of that experience. ‘ It is possible that in the future we may have thousands of immigrants arriving here every month, and we should plan now to provide useful employment for them. In this regard, the Commonwealth Government might do much by instituting works for the conservation of water, and for the mitigation of flooding by the straightening out and deepening of river channels. We have been extraordinarily fortunate during the war that there has not been a serious flood in the Hunter River. In the past, floods in this river have been frequent, sometimes as often as twice in eighteen months, and every time there has been an interruption of coal supplies. The flooding of the Hunter could be prevented by cutting a channel so as to give a straight run to Hexham or Morpeth, preferably the former. The construction of such a channel would drain the Hexham swamps, and make available about 500,000 acres of excellent farm land. Such an undertaking would be a mere bagatelle compared with the great drainage works which have been performed in Italy, or with the building of canals at Panama, Kiel and Suez. Moreover, the construction of a canal such as I have suggested would enable ships to go as far up as Singleton and, by establishing a water connexion with Cessnock, would relieve congestion in the Port of Newcastle. Wheat, wool and coal could be loaded at the points of production, thus relieving the railways of much heavy traffic. This would be an important national work. The eastern coastal districts of Australia enjoy a fairly good rainfall, but most of the water runs into the sea, because efforts have not been made to conserve it in the mountainous catchment areas. As an illustration of the beneficial effects of water conservation I remind honorable members of what has been accomplished as a result of the construction of the Burrinjuck Dam. In areas which, without irrigation, even salt bush would not grow, there are now groves of citrus trees producing large quantities of delicious fruit. Only recently the flooding of the Hunter River Valley . was narrowly averted; had the rain continued for another couple of days the river would have overflowed its banks, and a large area of fertile country would have been flooded. As it was, the flood-gates could not cope with the water, and in the Louth Park area of Maitland much land is still under water; about 3,000 acres of farmland and some valuable crops have been ruined. We cannot expect men to settle on the land unless they are protected against such risks. I know that it will be said that this is not a matter for the Commonwealth, but the time for “passing the buck” from Commonwealth to State, and vice versa, has passed. It was a tragedy that the people of Australia did not support the referendum proposals submitted to them last year. However, I shall not hold a postmortem; the people have spoken, and their decision must be accepted.
Just as no adequate provision has been made against the recurrence of floods, little or nothing has been done to reduce the danger from bush-fires. From time to time appeals are made for the relief of the victims of bush-fires, particularly in Victoria, yet no adequate provision is made to prevent them by the construction of fire-breaks.
It is useless to plan to bring people to this country unless we also plan to provide them with employment. We do not want migrants to come here unless they can be employed. Those whom honorable members opposite represent may not object to unemployment but we on this side believe in the maintenance of a reasonable standard of living. I hope that the Government will exert pressure on the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America to provide more shipping, not only for migrants generally and for the early return of our troops, but also to bring to this country the wives of servicemen. Hundreds of wives and fiancees of servicemen in Great Britain and Canada are anxious to come to Australia. These are young people to whom we may look for a natural increase of the population. Some thousands of Australian women and children in other countries are unable to return to Australia. Included among them are some of my constituents. The American people have set us an example in the assimilation of foreigners. Although the Americans are a cosmopolitan people, they are outstanding in patriotism and love of their country and its flag. The people of the United States of America certainly have the knack of making welcome those who migrate to their country. Before we can embark on a large-scale system of migration we must be sure that, in conjunction with the States, plans for their absorption are made; otherwise we shall have a repetition of what happened in 1927 and 1928, when many migrants who had settled in Victoria and South Australia agitated that they be permitted to return to Great Britain. It is futile to bring people to this country unless employment is available for them. Should they not be able to obtain work, the Commonwealth, not the ‘States, will be blamed, because the people of other countries look to the National Parliament to provide work for persons attracted to this country. I hope that the mistakes which were made after the war of 1914nl8 will not be repeated.
.- I compliment the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) on his speech in introducing this subject, and I believe that the sentiments then expressed by him found acceptance among honorable members on both sides of the House. I regret, however, that the making of a .full drive for migrants will be postponed indefinitely and that the work of rehabilitating our own people and the setting up of the organization necessary to bring migrants to this country are working so slowly. Precious time is being lost through not having plans for the years that lie ahead. In this connexion, I refer to the delay that seems likely to take place in releasing men from the fighting forces to engage in industry. Tens of thousands of Australians who have jobs awaiting them on farms and in factories, shops, and offices are still in camp. Their employers are waiting to reinstate them in their old employment, but the Government has announced that these men must remain in camp, doing nothing, because it is incapable of putting into operation a scheme for their rapid absorption into industry. That is a pathetic beginning to any scheme of reorganization. 1 refer to this matter now because it is of the utmost importance that we shall get down to fundamentals, and take steps to ensure continuous employment, if we are to induce people to migrate to this country. It will not be an easy task to get migrants to come here. Conditions to-day are not the same as when there was a gold rush - when young men left their homes in Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales to come to Australia to make their fortunes. In those countries to-day conditions are equal to, if not better than, those which they would enjoy in Australia. They have their friends around them, and their future is as secure there as it would be here. Moreover, the falling birth-rate and the declining population of ‘Great Britain and other European countries increase the difficulty of obtaining migrants. For those reasons, we shall have to rid ourselves of some of the prejudices which we have nursed for so long as to the people whom we shall permit to enter this country and the conditions under which they shall be permitted to come. We have had a most fortunate escape from foreign domination. No enemy foot has landed on our shores, except as a prisoner, but we cannot be sure that we shall always be so fortunate unless we take steps to prevent such a disaster. Statisticians say that 30 years hence the population of Australia will reach a maximum of about 7,750,000 by natural increase, and that, unless migrants are attracted. to .this country, its population will decline thereafter. But that is not all; 30 years hence the proportion of Australia’s population in the various age groups will be different from what it is today. There will be more people over than under 40 - fewer young and virile men and women. The thousands of people now engaged in the manufacture of furnishings, fittings and equipment required by young couples setting up homes will be shifted to meeting the wants of older people. “ A comparatively small number of young people will be called upon, to bear the cost of pensions, social amenities and all the other requirements of a steadily increasing number of aged people. Fewer shoulders will have to carry a greater burden unless we can move the population steadily beyond the 8,000,000 mark. A lot has been said about the natural increase of the population from pur own resources and what may be accomplished by child endowment, marriage loans, an improved basic wage, social amenities and so forth. I regret to say that I have not much confidence in those methods, because examination of the problem shows, as other speakers have said, that those that can best afford to maintain families have the fewest children - that the families of professional men, doctors and dentists, and men on relatively high incomes are the smallest - and that in the slums and the poorer parts of Australia we find the largest families. There is very seldom any relation between the failure of a couple to have a family and their economic status. Not only in this country and other English-speaking countries, but in all advanced civilized countries, with the exception, I think, of Japan and Russia, we see this decline. As far as Australia is concerned, it- is tragic, because, unlike the United States of America and other countries, we had not built up a sufficient population before the new trend developed. I can see not very much hope, despite all the encouragement that we may give by way of marriage loans and family endowment, of obtaining a natural increase of population at a more satisfactory rate. Therefore, we must either concentrate on immigration or be content to see this country 25 or 30 years hence go downhill with a steadily declining population after it reaches the 8,000,000 mark. The methods by which the Government hopes to achieve the desired result are various. As I mentioned at the outset, there should be immediate concentration on getting industry restarted with a far greater impetus than has been anticipated by the Government. As mentioned in the Minister’s speech, before migrants can be invited here, we must provide’ shelter for them. Before the war our annual homebuilding programme amounted to about. £40,000,000 ‘ worth of new construction. We have arrears to catch up for our own needs, to say nothing of the needs of new migrants. About £90,000,000 to £100,000,000 worth of home-building a year for the next five, six or more years will be needed merely to overtake the arrears of the war years.. But it will not be sufficient to go on with a building programme that will employ 200,000 or 300,000 men intermittently for seven, eight, or nine years and then lapse into a period of depression. We must have constructive plans for government projects and encouragement of private enterprise, all of which is linked with reducing taxation, so that the community shall be encouraged to do a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. All that is contributory to a satisfactory immigration programme. The only thing that will bring migrants from Europe to this country will be the prospect of greater security here than in their homeland. That can be achieved only if there is a promise and prospect of continuous full-time employment, not for four, five, six, or seven years, but for a very long period, and, for that reason, immigration must be linked with the financial controls of the country. Now that the Government has control of the Commonwealth Bank - it has always had a voice in its control - it might well use whatever credit expansion takes place for the provision of homes for the people it seeks from overseas. I do not want to encroach on a debate that will come on next week, but, after having listened to the hope expressed for the world by way of a -new charter, I think those that have studied the charter must have formed the impression that in the long run we may be again called upon to look after ourselves. The new charter-
– Order! The honorable member is not entitled to anticipate a debate on a measure on the notice-paper. He may make only a passing reference to the subject.
– I am. making a passing reference.
– A passing reference only is permissible.
– I think that I am entitled to talk about the world organization.
– The honorable member is not entitled to anticipate a debate.
– I am not. I am talking about the world charter.
– A bill has been introduced dealing with the matter to which the honorable member is referring.
– I am referring to world security.
– The honorable member must obey the ruling of the Chair.
– At any rate, if I am permitted to say it, Australia, 25 or 30 years hence, regardless of any organization designed to ensure world security, may still be called upon to defend itself, with few friends, and, for that reason, it is imperative that we foresee the possibility and take the requisite steps to make this country self-reliant by a fully fledged immigration policy. The policy enunciated by the Minister can be termed anything but that. It is a policy of promise,, a policy that says that provided certain conditions prevail, that the housing shortage has been caught up with and there is no unemployment in this country, then, and only then, shall the Government take steps to invite people to come here. The very first enunciation of the Government should be, “We have sufficient confidence in ourselves, in our people and in our programme to be able to embark upon an immigration policy with a minimum of delay”. I say, “minimum delay” because we are in a period of flux in the world’s history. Millions of people are moving about Europe, especially in Poland, Yugoslavia and other parts of Central Europe, that do not know where they will finally rest their weary heads. Within the next six years they no doubt will find a permanent solution of their problems, and they will no longer be potential immigrants. The time to act is as soon after the cessation of hostilities as it is possible to get on with the job. I realize of course that we have on our hands the task of rehabilitating many tens of thousands of our men and women. We have to provide them with jobs or return them to their previous jobs. I know that that will be very difficult. I realize that that must be attended to and must be well under way before we start to bring in migrants, but what I am complaining about is that, according to the statement of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) this afternoon, no effort is being made at this moment, other than to prepare the way for the release from the forces of men and women with jobs to go to and where employers are waiting for them. Men and women in camp in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and throughout Queensland, who are eating their heads off and breaking their hearts have been refused release. They are the men and women that could be laying the foundations of the policy of full employment that the Government has enunciated. It is a disgrace that the Government has not been able to do other than put down on paper a few schemes such as demobilization starting on the 1st October. It will be a full month before people applying for discharge will be able to get on with the job of producing.
– Order ! The honorable member is anticipating a debate on Order of the Day No. 14, “Demobilization of the Australian DefenceForces”.
– I have said as much as I desire to say on that, so I will not infringe upon your ruling. There should be a sympathetic approach to the problem. I hope for freedom of prejudice, not only from honorable members, but also from people outside the Parliament. I hope that if migrants are invited to come to this country they will be welcomed by all sections of the community. That welcome can bestbe led by the Government itself in its immigration policy. The Minister’s speech reads well but unfortunately it does not appear to me to be as pregnant with action as the situation calls for at this stage of our history.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) - by leave - agreed to -
That the following Orders of the Day be discharged : -
No. 2. - United Nations Conference on International Organization - Text of Agreements - Ministerial Statement - Resumption of debate on motion to print paper.
No. 3. - Papua - Suspension of Civil Administration - Report - Resumption of debate on motion to print paper.
No. 4. - Man Power - Ministerial Statement - Resumption of debate on motion to print paper.
No. 5. - Baerami Shale Oil Proposal - Report of Public Works Committee - Resumption of debate on motion to print paper.
Debate resumed from the8th May (vide page 1451), on motion by Mr. Francis -
That the following paper be printed: -
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Broadcasting - Seventh Report.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 23rd March (vide page 889), on motion by Mr.
That the following paper be printed: -
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 20th July (vide page 4347) on motion by Mr. Dedman -
That the following paper be printed: -
Land Settlement Scheme for ExServicemen - Ministerial Statement, 20th July, 1945.
.- The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) indicated some of the activities in which the Government is now engaged in connexion with soldier land settlement. This matter should have been considered at a very much earlier date. To-day, we have the spectacle of many ex-service men anxious to go on the land making inquiries from State governments as to what provision has been made for land settlement, and being told that while a scheme is being contemplated nothing can be done until arrangements are finalized between the Commonwealth and State Governments. The Minister inhis statement pointed out that the Commonwealth was prepared to accept some financial responsibility in this matter, but, at the same time, he was careful to say, in effect, that it was a State matter.Some States have agreed to undertake the responsibility of administering land settlement, whilst in other States the schemes will be administered by the Commonwealth. It is pointed out that all settlers will have to be approved by a competent authority before being permitted to participate in the schemes. That is an important provision. It is equally important that suitable land should be obtained for these purposes. It has been said that soldier settlement schemes undertaken after the war of 1914-18 were not successful. That is only partly true. Many factors contributed to the failures, and possibly the greatest of these factors was the drastic drop in the prices of primary products which occurred in the years immediately followingthe end of that war. That drop was so sharp that even men who had been established on the land for a considerable period prior to that war were unable to carry on. The provision of overseas markets will be one of the main requisites for success in the settlement of ex-service personnel on the land. Unless settlers can be assured of payable prices for surplus products which must be sold outside Australia, the prospects for the scheme will not be very bright. Under the scheme outlined by the Minister, intending settlers will be required to invest portion of their financial resources in their undertaking. This provision is calculated to give settlers additional interest in their settlement, because some of their own money, in addition to that provided by the Commonwealth or State Governments, willbe at stake. I do not think that any honorable member will object to that provision. It has also been suggested that advice be given to settlers on technical subjects, and that they should be given an opportunity to undergo practical training. The best training these men could receive would be that which they would get with practical and successful farmers in the locality in which they intend to take up land. They would thus become acquainted with actual climatic and seasonal conditions, and also the most suitable methods of cultivation and production in the locality. They would also be given an opportunity to ascertain at first hand the best mode of procedure in working the land. Many local committees and municipalities could be used in this respect, because in most localities are to be found large bodies of settlers, many of them returned soldiers of the war of 1914-18, who would be only too willing to give the benefit of their experience to younger exservice personnel intending to take up life on the land.
Arrangements should now be well in hand for the subdivision of suitable areas for soldier land settlement. Within the next few months hundreds of men who will be released from the services will be anxious to get to work; and there never was a time in the history of this country when there was a greater demand for primary products or reserve stocks of fodder. The disastrous drought which has occurred during the last few years has almost completely depleted reserve stocks, and it will take several normal years to build up reserves to a safe level as an assurance against future droughts. For that reason I urge upon the Government the necessity to press forward with plans for the acquisition and subdivision of estates in order that men who are already experienced producers will have an opportunity to enter upon production as soon as possible.
The Minister in his statement made no reference to the rate of interest which is to be charged to soldier settlers who accept land under this scheme. This is a vital aspect of- soldier land settlement, because it is essential that intending settlers should know exactly what their commitments are. I also point out that even with the provision of a low rate of interest, taxation rates, should they remain at anything like their present levels, would place a very heavy burden upon the settler. Taxation is now at saturation point. Indeed, Australia has the unenviable reputation of being the most heavily taxed country in the world. Many men eminently suited to go on the land would be loath to take up land if they knew they were going to be loaded with a burden of taxes which would prevent them from paying off a substantial portion of their indebtedness, in which case they would be obliged to struggle year in and year out. The Minister has stressed the point that the land to be taken up must be capable of returning to the settler at least the wage of a labourer. The average successful farmer works very much longer hours than does the average tradesman. The man on the land must be prepared to work seven days a week and long hours each day, particularly during the early years of his venture if he is to have any chance of success at all.
I also urge the Minister to provide at the earliest opportunity ample supplies of superphosphate for top dressing and cultivation. To-day superphosphate is the life blood of primary production in this country. We have been short of supplies because of the fact that Nauru Island has been held by enemy forces. The Government should take the earliest possible steps to make available adequate supplies from that source, because to-day many properties instead of improving are actually deteriorating. During the last five years many people on the land have had the unhappy experience of witnessing the wasting of’ their- assets, simply because they have been unable to obtain sufficient superphosphate for top-dressing pastures and for crops. Therefore, I urge the necessity to supply adequate superphosphate to soldier settlers in order to give them the prospect of a fair measure of success when they take up their new venture, which .will not be easy, but will entail years of arduous work which will yield a profitable return only if they are assured of supplies of superphosphate and payable prices.
I regret that at present we are not in a position to place on the land men who have already had experience as primary producers. Honorable members know that a big percentage of members of the armed forces have had previous experience on the land. Many of them are the sons of farmers, and spent the whole of their lives in primary production up to the time of their enlistment. Naturally, these men are anxious to obtain a holding for themselves, and to :set up a. home as soon as possible. One of the big handicaps with which they will be confronted at this juncture is the high cost of housing, fencing and general construction work on the farm. It is safe to assume that the cost of construction of houses, fences, and sheds required to set up an up-to-date farm is from 30 to 40 per cent, higher than the prices ruling five years ago. For that reason both the
Commonwealth and State Governments must exercise great discretion in order to ensure that the land is not overcapitalized when it is cut up into living areas. Even with a low rate of interest, we must remember that these men will be saddled with a debt which it will take all their ingenuity and ability to repay. For that reason, great care must be exercised to ensure that the areas are large enough, that suitable land is obtained, and that only persons who are likely to become efficient primary producers, because they possess the right temperament and requisite physical qualifications, are placed on the land. When a bill dealing with this subject is introduced, and I hope that it will not be delayed, I shall offer some constructive suggestions to the soldier settler and the Government.
.- In my opinion, a serious lag has occurred in establishing on the land soldiers who fought in the war which has just ended. I am well aware that hostilities terminated more abruptly than the Government or any one else expected, but I have often mentioned in this House that the Government and its advisers always referred to the post-war policy of . placing men in employment or on the”’ land as if a sudden or sharp break would occur at the end of the war, and that the need to apply their plans would not arise before the conclusion of the conflict. But all the time, men were coming out of the Army in a continual stream. They desired to settle on the land, and at the cessation of hostilities there was not the sudden, sharp break which the Government and its advisers evidently contemplated. To date, the only results regarding the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land have been four reports from the Rural Rehabilitation Committee. They are good reports, but they are very cold comfort to men who have already been discharged from the services, and to others who will now be demobilized in rapidly increasing numbers. In New South Wales, “ embargoes “ have been placed over 137 estates, totalling approximately 237,000 acres, and it has been authoritatively announced that the average living area for each settler on those estates will be approximately 1,000 acres.
If that is true, settlement will be provided for 237 persons. Yet, at the same time, we have been told that 5,000 qualification certificates for men to go on the land have been issued in New South Wales alone ! For a considerable number of prospective soldier settlers,1 no provision has been made to date, and, so far as one can see, no provision will be made for them in the future. I understand that at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in Canberra last week, the Acting Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Baddeley, stated that his -Government had settled on the land 42 men who served in the war which has just ended. So far as I. know, that represents the total achievement of the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales in placing ex-servicemen of the war just concluded on the land in that State.
Another point which has continually arisen in my electorate regarding exservicemen who desire to settle on land - and, doubtless, many other honorable members have had a similar experience - is that tho eligible settler, on being demobilized, may know of a small farm or suitable block of land, and may desire to acquire it. To date, no financial provision has been made to enable him to acquire such a property. As some of these small farms have been improved, the settler knows exactly what he will pay for the property. If he buys it, he will not be loaded with the tremendous costs of surveying and improvements at inflated war-time values. Many exservicemen will be satisfactorily settled on the land if they are assisted to acquire these farms about which they know and which they desire to purchase.
On several occasions I have sought information as to how the returned soldier settler will be affected by wartime restrictions on production. Under legislation introduced during the last few years, wheat-growers are licensed to sow only certain areas, and to grow only a prescribed quantity of wheat. It will be grossly unfair if soldier-settlers, when placed on estates capable of growing wheat are not given licences to grow this crop. In reply to my questions, 1 have received only evasive answers. First. I was told that the matter had not been considered, and the last reply which I received a few days ago from the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) was that some farms might, or might not, be suitable for growing wheat, and that the whole matter would be reconsidered later. In my opinion, exservicemen should be told that they will not be prevented from producing any crop which any other person is .permitted to grow. They should be assured that they will receive the full benefits of any licensing system, as enjoyed by other farmers.
Another point which arises is in regard to dairy farms in the milk zones which supply the capital cities. As honorable members know, it is considerably more remunerative to provide whole milk for the milk boards of the capital cities than it, is to separate the milk and sell the cream for its butter fat to the butter factories. But restrictions have been placed on the number of dairy farms within the milk zones which are permitted to sell in ilk to the milk boards, and other restrictions have been imposed on new farmers coming into what has been described as the “ milk shed’s “ which supply the capital cities. Again, it will be grossly unfair if an ex-serviceman, when he is established on an estate, is prevented from sharing the benefit, which so many dairymen enjoy, of supplying milk to the milk boards. All these matters require investigation. One of my constituents enlisted in 1939, before the introduction of the wheat-licensing system. When he was discharged, he applied for a licence to grow wheat near Tamworth. I raised the matter in this House, and the Minister assured me that inquiries would be made. Some time later, when the applicant had not received any consideration whatever, I again complained, and the Minister said that the man had been granted a licence to sow a certain acreage in shares with his brother. When I made further investigations, I discovered that the ex-serviceman had’ undoubtedly been granted the licence, but that the area that his brother had formerly been licensed to sow had been reduced by one-half. That is not fair treatment. Ex-servicemen must be given the assurance that they will receive equitable treatment in the granting of licences, and. when they are established on the land, they must be permitted to grow any crop which they desire to produce, or supply milk to the milk boards of the capital cities.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Lemmon) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I appeal to the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) to take immediate action in the interest of a young Queensland woman, Nurse Wagland, against whom severe action has been taken under the National Security (Employment) Regulations. This woman, like many other Queenslanders, has ample reason to complain of harsh treatment. She has been fined £5 with £3 costs in default fourteen days imprisonment. On principle, she has decided to serve the sentence in gaol rather than pay the fine or allow anybody to pay it on her behalf. Naturally she desires her name to be cleared by having the conviction quashed. I understand that this is also the desire of the Maryborough Hospital Board which employs her and requires her services. In view of the fact that convictions of coal-miners on grave charges have been withdrawn, I submit that the circumstances of this case are such that most sympathetic and urgent consideration iswarranted. Nurse Wagland proposes togo to gaol, and the Hospital Board which is acquainted with all the circumstances,, is determined to provide meals for her whilst she is imprisoned at Maryborough if its appeal on her behalf is not successful. The circumstances of thecase are as follows: - Nurse Wagland. was formerly employed by theGladstone Hospital Board, and she secured her first sister’s certificate at the Gladstone Hospital. To secure her second certificate - midwifery - it . was . necessary for her to go to another institution. She applied to the Gladstone Hospital Board for her release, but her request was refused. A second applica– tion met a similar fate. She then v. tendered her resignation, but continued her duties in a most straightforward manner until arrangements were made for her place to be filled. To fulfil her desire for midwifery training, she applied to the Maryborough Hospital Board for employment, and arrived at Maryborough to accept employment at Saint Mary’s Private Hospital until a vacancy occurred at the Lady Musgrave Hospital. Later, the local man-power authorities granted her permission to transfer from Saint Mary’s to the. Lady Musgrave Hospital. Apparently then the Gladstone Hospital Board reported the matter to the Man Power Department in Brisbane, which directed Nurse Wagland to return to the Gladstone Hospital. In the. circumstances, she. refused to do so, and later received a summons for a breach of the man-power regulations. Nurse Wagland then wrote to the magistrate explaining the position fully, and setting out the reasons which had prompted her action. She was informed that the summons had been executed, and a conviction recorded against her. Nurse Wagland, and the Maryborough Hospital Board, are most concerned because of the recording of a conviction, and as I have said, Nurse Wagland has decided to go to gaol, believing this to be the right course to adopt. She has decided to take her books with her and to study during her imprisonment. I am sure that the Attorney-General and honorable members generally will agree that Nurse Wagland’s offence did not warrant such a drastic penalty, and that the conviction should be quashed. The Maryborough Hospital Board is most concerned with the matter, and its chairman in the interest of Nurse Wagland has reported the case fully. He has stated that the board requires her services, and that the punishment is considered too harsh. He has also pointed out that during the war it had been a recognized principle that a worker desiring to transfer to higher priority work, would not encounter any difficulty in obtaining a release from his or her employer. Nurse Wagland merely wishes to fit herself for more responsible duties within the profession which she has selected. She is not a slacker and has not caused any trouble. Her actions have been honorable, andI trust that the National Security Regulations will not be used to send her to gaol.She has expressed her willingness to give herself up to the police, but has been advised by the board to wait until the police contact her. The board has made strong representations to the Minister for Health and Home Affairs in Queensland, who, after bringing the matter before the State Cabinet, has advised the board that as the prosecution was made under Commonwealth law, the State could not interfere, and has recommended that the case be referred to the Commonwealth Attorney-General, who, I hope, will do all he can to have the conviction set aside. In this evening’s press, itis stated that the Commonwealth Government has decided under National Security Regulations to satisfy the fine by garnisheeing Nurse Wagland’s wages rather than allow her to carry out her intention of serving a term of imprisonment in default of payment. The garnishee papers have been sent to the Maryborough Hospital Board. It is claimed also that an official stated, “She will not be allowed to make a martyr of herself “. This statement is impertinent, and I submit that the Government’s action savours of Gestapo practices, the abolition of which was one of the principles on which the war was fought. In my opinion, the hospital board should consider nonacceptance of service of the garnishee order, and refuse to pay anything to the Crown in satisfaction of the fine. This attempt to deprive a member of an always underpaid profession of her wages; is unjustifiable.
I draw the attention of the AttorneyGeneral to the fact that section 3 of the Queensland Wages Attachment Act Amendment Act of 1940 states -
Before an order or notice attaching any surplus wages of a single worker above the rate of two pounds but less than the rate of the basic wage per week in satisfaction of any judgment decree, or order mentioned in subsection two of this section is made absolute, such single worker shall be. summoned to appear before the Court, having jurisdiction to make such order or notice absolute and to prove the amount of the dependancy upon him of- (ii.) Any widowed mother; and/or
Any brother or brothers and/or sister or sisters under the age of sixteen years.
That provision would at least give this young woman an opportunity to appear before a court having jurisdiction in such matters before the garnishee order could be made absolute. It would appear that this high-handed action has been taken without consideration having been given to the Queensland law. This young nurse, who wished to better herself, was convicted and severely punished, as a criminal would be, by a Queensland magistrate, notwithstanding the fact that, when she vacated her position, she took care to ensure that another would carry on her duties, she accepted only temporary employment, and the man-power officer at Maryborough gave her permission to go to the Lady Musgrave Hospital. She wrote to the magistrate, fully explaining all the circumstances, yet was convicted, and might be gaoled for fourteen days if she does not pay the fine and costs totalling £8. I gave the Attorney-General notice that I intended to raise the matter to-night. I plead with him to stay all proceedings until he has given sympathetic consideration to it. No National Security Regulations were intended to victimize young women who wish to better themselves in a calling which affects our future welfare so greatly as does that of nursing. Only to-day we have discussed the bringing of migrants to this country. Is there any better migrant than the native born whom this young woman wishes to qualify herself to attend? I am confident that she has the sympathy of the whole House. She certainly has the sympathy of every one in Queensland who is aware of the plight in which she has been placed. The Attorney-General should take the matter out of the hands of those who are too shortsighted to . make a proper decision, and consider that the young woman is merely trying to make a heroine of herself. Her actions would convince any fair-minded person that she is a fine type of young Australian womanhood. Her one desire is to have her name cleared. I ask the Attorney-General to take the earliest action to effect that purpose.
.- Recently,, when I was able to make a rapid tour of my electorate, I received quite a number of complaints. That is not unusual when a member meets his constituents. These included one that builders, and traders who deal in building requisites, including timber, hardware, and similar materials, have great difficulty in obtaining supplies in country districts in Victoria. My attention has been drawn to the difference between the availability of supplies for Victoria and South Australia. It would appear, from the very definite statements that have been made to me, that building hardware, and hardwoods for house building and repairs to farm buildings and all other buildings, can be obtained quite readily in South- Australia, because the supplies are ample in that State. The difficulty is to get the materials across the border into Victoria, because of the border rates and high cost of freight, which make the price extremely high. The freight on bolts from Melbourne to a centre that I have in mind is 50s. a ton, and only very limited quantities can be obtained, not 5 per cent, or 30 per cent, of what can be obtained from Adelaide. But the freight from Adelaide amounts to £11 ls. a ton. Similar differences could be cited in connexion with hardwood and other materials that aTe used in building, and the repair of farm buildings in country areas. I am sure that the Minister for Post-war Restruction (Mr. Dedman) must know of some reason for their existence. I should like him to cause an investigation to be made, with a view to a remedy being applied, in order that there may be a more equitable distribution of these very necessary materials, thus ensuring the continuance of the limited building and repairs to buildings that are being carried on in these country districts.
Heavy duty farm tractors for the preparation of’ land in the broad-acre areas of the cereal-growing country are in very short supply. I know that the matter of -imports is handled by the Government as sympathetically as possible. There is, I believe, a technical difficulty in regard to the stocks of tractors on hand. I hope that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has some information that he can give in regard to the matter. I was authoritatively informed recently that in one store in
Melbourne there are 120 Case tractors, all of them complete, fitted with rubbers, for delivery to the order of a government department; it may be the Allied Works Council or the Army. Similarly, there must be hundreds of tractors scattered in the machinery parks in various parts of Australia. Yet farmers cannot obtain delivery of tractors, although they have had them on order for months, in many instances for more than a year. Unless these can be made available, or other tractors can be imported for the fulfilment of orders, there will be a very serious decrease of production, because it will not be possible to prepare and sow the ground or harvest the crops. Horses, have been almost eliminated from the wheat industry and cereal-growing generally, because of the drought, and all farmers are turning to the use of mechanical power for carrying on their cultivation work. A considerably increased area has been sown to wheat and other cereals. I believe that T am right in saying that in Victoria the area sown is probably 1,000,000 acres more than last year; and the increase is greater in some of the other cereal-growing States. Whilst it has been a good deal easier to sow because of co-operation between farmers in having the planting done, and because of the favorable conditions that have contributed to this desirable result, the story at harvest-time will be different, because the gathering of the cereal harvest in Australia has to be tackled resolutely and completed as quickly as possible, because of the danger of loss or damage through adverse weather conditions. Farmers generally have pleaded with me to impress on the Government the necessity for releasing these tractors. I know that certain difficulties have arisen with regard to the lend-lease arrangements which may be holding up the release of the machines to which I have referred, but I urge the Government to do something about the matter without delay, in order to prevent great economic loss. There has never been a more urgent demand for food production in Australia than at present, and the world demand for foodstuffs will continue for some years after the settlement of the peace terms. I urge the Minister to interest himself actively in the matter. Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented : -
National Security Act - National Security (General) Regulations - Order - Service munitions (Safety precautions) (No. 2).
House adjourned at 10.32 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Prime -Minister the following questions,- upon notice: -
Will the Government give the necessary directions to ensure that such officers so required to work are placed on the same basis as other members of the Public Service?
y. - The answers to the right honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Government does not consider that any further payments to private secretaries are justified on the score ofhours of duty.
y. - On the 1stAugust, 1 945, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) asked the following questions, 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?
The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) Since 1st January, 1942, four Commonwealth departments have been established. (b) The Department of Post-war Reconstruction; the Department of Works (on 13th July, 1945, this department was abolished and the Department of Works and Housing established) ; The Department of Works and Housing; and the Department of Immigration. 2. (a) and (b)This information is being obtained.
The amounts quoted exclude salaries and associated payments for the service departments, munitions andsupply.
r asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
If so, will the Minister inform the House
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are a? f ollows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 August 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1945/19450830_reps_17_184/>.