House of Representatives
20 June 1946

17th Parliament · 3rd Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 1643




-From information supplied to me, it would appear that the Printing Industry Employees Union of Australia has closed its books against membership by ex-servicemen over the age of 21 years, thus denying to apprentices who enlisted the right of re-entry to the trade. Can the Minister for PostwarReconstruction explain how it wouldbe possible in such circumstances for a lad who broke his indentures at the age of eighteen years in order to enlist’ in the armed forces, and who served for a period of five years, to complete his training under’ the re-establishment training scheme and to re-enter the printing trade? Is it a fact that trade unions have the power to determine whether they will remain outside the re-establishment scheme for ex-servicemen, and that many major unions have adopted that principle by excluding ex-service trainees from membership? Will the Minister state what opportunity exists for ex-service trainees’ to become journeymen in the accepted sense of that term, and to find employment in various trades, if they are not allowed to become members of a ‘ union? Will the Minister take steps to ensure that immediate effect shall be given to the provision . in the Reestablishment and Employment Act. which empowers the Government to force trade unions to open their hooks to exservicemen trainees?

Mr.DEDMAN.- The first part of the question relates to the re-establishment of apprentices inthe printing trade. As far as I am aware, the apprenticeship regulations, which were embodied in the Reestablishment and Employment Act, arc in operation, and that law has to be obeyed. If apprentices in the printing trade are entitled under the act to resume their apprenticeship - as they are - then no tradeunion or any employer of labour can prevent them from resuming such apprenticeship.

Mr Harrison:

– But the union will not accept them as members, and unless they are members they cannot obtain employment.


– The second part of the question alleges that trade unions generally will not admit to membership discharged servicemen who wish to resume their places in a particular trade.

Mr Harrison:

– If they are over the age of 21 years.

Minister for Post-war Reconstruction · CORIO, VICTORIA · ALP

– As far as I am aware, all trade unions have to register with the Arbitration Court. I believe it to be a condition of their registration that membership of their organization must be free to all who are qualified to be members of it; consequently, I believe’ 1644 Re-establishment.[REPRESENTATIVES.] Australian Army. that trade unions are not preventing any discharged member of a service from resuming his place in a particular trade.

Mr Harrison:

– They are. I shall produce evidence to prove it.


– If the honorable member brings cases to my notice, I shall personally examine them in conjunction with the Minister for Labour and National Service. It has to be made clear to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and to honorable members generally, that in each trade there is an industrial committee, which acts in an advisory capacity. Each committee consists of a member of the trade union movement, a member representing the employers in the industry, and a member representing the returned soldiers’ organization. The committees give advice to the reconstructional training authority regarding the absorptive capacity of particular industries. Obviously, it would be very unwise to train ex-servicemen in trades in which the absorptive capacity is very low.

page 1644



Treatment of Deserters - Major cousens- courts-m artiai- detention Camps.


– Having regard to the stated intention of the Army authorities not to try in future to apprehend deserters from the services, will the Minister for the Army say whether it is intended to release all those members of the forces who are serving terms of detention as deserters?

Minister for the Army · CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– I said yesterday that the Adjutant-General had issued instructions that those members of the forces who had been declared absentees before the 1st day of January, 1946, were to be discharged under the conditions stated;’ namely, that they would lose all their rights as returned soldiers. Furthermore, their discharge, certificates would be endorsed to the effect that they had been discharged in absentia because of illegal absence. Shortly after the cessation’ of hesti lities it was announced that deserters al ready undergoing detention would receive certain remissions of sentence. Later, it was decided that their sentences would be reduced by one-third, subject to good behaviour. The Government is at present considering the number of those detained in camps and the number of those engaged in looking after them - which, some time ago, was about 600.


– I ask the Minister for the Army whether the Army authorities are satisfied that there is a case against Major Cousens for treasonable conduct during the war? If so; is it a fact that a prosecution, is being delayed owing to difficulties between the legal authorities of the Commonwealth and New South Wales. If the Army authorities are not satisfied as to treasonable conduct by Major Cousens, what means will be provided for him to clear his name and to remove the stigma which may rest upon him ?


– This matter has been receiving the consideration of officers of the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department for some time. Certain procedure is being followed. I shall consult with the officers of the department and make a short statement in the House to-morrow.


– Several months ago, the Minister for the Army set up a committee to examine the conduct of courtsmartial and detention camps. Has the right honorable gentleman yet received a report in connexion with the matter?


– The report has not yet come before me. I shall inquire where it is, and shall advise the honorable gentleman of its contents as soon as possible after consideration has been given to it.


– I desire to ask the Minister for the Army a question about Major Cousens. It is reported in the press that three people, including two Japanese, are to come from Japan to give evidence against him. After the 8th Division hadbeen imprisoned at Changi, this very brave officer, though a very silly and conceited one, gave lectures on international affairs. He had his own ideas on cutting up of the Pacific area and apportioning it between the various nations.


– Order ! What is the honorable member’s question?


– I want to defend him. if you will allow me to ask my question.

*Australian Army.* [20 June, 1946.] *Rail Transport.* . 1645 {: #subdebate-1-0-s6 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- That is exactly what the Chair wants you to do. {: #subdebate-1-0-s7 .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr BLAIN:
NORTHERN TERRITORY · IND -- I ask the Minister for the Army whether, when evidence is given against **Major Cousens,** at least three senior officers of the 8th Division will be allowed to give evidence on his behalf. I ask that they be Brigadier Taylor, Colonel Kent-Hughes and Colonel Thyer, because they know that when the Japanese heard about his lectures they snatched him away and used duress to induce him to repeat the lectures in broadcasts. I want to ensure that he shall he given a fair deal and a full opportunity to prove that what he said in Japan was said under duress. {: #subdebate-1-0-s8 .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE:
ALP -- This matter is being handled by the Attorney-General's Department. The procedure that will be followed will be outlined, no doubt, by the Acting Attorney -General **(Mr. Holloway)** when he returns. He will probably be here to-morrow, and a statement will be made then. I have no doubt that every opportunity will he given to the defendant to call whatever witnesses he desires. {: .page-start } page 1645 {:#debate-2} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-2-0} #### FOOD FOR BRITAIN {: #subdebate-2-0-s0 .speaker-F4T} ##### Mr FADDEN:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND -- Can the Prime Minister state the results of the investigation which has been made regarding the export of fats and oils to Great Britain to alleviate the present shortage in that country? Will he state the exact nature and extent of the aid which it is proposed that Australia shall give to Great Britain, having regard to the forecast of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture that beef exports to Great Britain will decline this year by 25,000 tons because of the strike of meat workers in Queensland? {: #subdebate-2-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
Prime Minister · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- It was announced recently that there would be a substantial increase of the allocation of butter to the United Kingdom. I shall ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to prepare a statement dealing with the whole subject, and this will he made available to honorable members. {: .page-start } page 1645 {:#debate-3} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-3-0} #### RAIL TRANSPORT Standardization of Gauges {: #subdebate-3-0-s0 .speaker-JWR} ##### Mr CHAMBERS:
ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA -- In view of the press reports that a deadlock was reached in the discussion of proposals for the standardization of railway gauges, can the Minister for Transport give any information to the House on this important subject? {: #subdebate-3-0-s1 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD:
Minister for External Territories · EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- At the last conference in Sydney a month ago, a deadlock did occur. It was due, not to a dispute between the States and the Commonwealth, but to the' fact that two of the States could not agree about the order of priority for a. particular section of work. The matter has since been considered by Cabinet, and I have been authorized to conduct direct negotiations with those States which are prepared to co-operate with the Commonwealth. As the result of this authorization, on Wednesday next I shall be meeting **Mr. Cain,** the Premier of Victoria, and **Mr. Playford,** the Premier of South Australia, with a view to considering an agreement so that the section of the work which lies within their State boundaries may be undertaken. Following that, I am to have a conference with the Premier and the Minister for Transport in New South Wales to consider sections of the work involving the standardization of the railway gauge between Broken Hill and Port Pirie. We hope that eventually the other States that have not been quite so co-operative in the past will adopt a more reasonable attitude. Queensland and Western Australia in particular. The Commonwealth, which is anxious to have this great work commenced as earlyas possible, regards the unco-operative attitude of some of the States as merely a temporary hindrance to the successful implementation of the whole scheme. {: .page-start } page 1645 {:#debate-4} ### BROADCASTING COMMITTEE {: #debate-4-s0 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS:
MORETON, QUEENSLAND -- I present the twelfth report of the Broadcasting Committee relating to frequency modulation, television and facsimile broadcasting. Ordered to be printed. {: .page-start } page 1645 {:#debate-5} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-5-0} #### POTATOES {: #subdebate-5-0-s0 .speaker-KFW} ##### Mr GUY:
WILMOT, TASMANIA -- Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture state why the honorable member for Wilmot was not advised of the decision to continue potato control for the 1946-47 season in compliance with the undertaking given to 1646 *Potatoes.[REPRESENTATIVES.] Motor Vehicles.* him on several occasions? Does the Minister think it fair that this information should have been withheld from members of this House, who made representations many months ago, until all other interests had been notified? {: #subdebate-5-0-s1 .speaker-KQB} ##### Mr SCULLY:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -I admit that there has been an unpardonable delay in furnishing final information to the honorable member. I assure him, however, that it was not due to any ill intent on my part ; advice to the honorable member was overlooked by the department. Interim replies, were forwarded to those honorable members who had made representations in this connexion, but it was not until yesterday that they received the final notification of the Government's intention to continue this control for the 1946-47 season. The only other interests which had been previously notified, other than through the public announcement, were the Ministers for Agriculture in the various States which were represented at the meeting of the Agricultural Council at which the resolution to continue the control was agreed to. As the representatives of Tasmania were the chief movers for the continuance of the control, they were notified through official channels as soon as the decision was made. I regret the delay in advising the honorable member and accept my full share of the blame for it. {: .page-start } page 1646 {:#debate-6} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-6-0} #### MOTOR VEHICLES Impressment - Priorities - Disposals - Spare Parts {: #subdebate-6-0-s0 .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr DALY:
MARTIN, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Many people whose motor vehicles were impressed by the military authorities during the war are now experiencing considerable difficulty in obtaining replacements. In view of the inconvenience which these people are suffering, and the fact that their vehicles were impressed for war purposes, will the Minister for Transport give favorable consideration to the granting of a special priority to enable them to obtain replacements? Mr.WARD. - A difficulty arises in respect of the supply of suitable vehicles. The number being released through the Disposals Commission is very small, and importations of new vehicles from overseas are coming in very slowly. The officers of my department have been asked to give special consideration to the claims of those people whose vehicles were impressed through the war years and who are now anxious to obtain re- placements. There are thousands of applicants seeking permits either to acquire vehicles through the Disposals Commission or to purchase hew vehicles, many of them being medical practitioners and ex-servicemen who are anxious to reestablish themselves in their former avocations. The department is doing everything possible to meet the requirements of all applicants, including those to whom the honorable member has referred. {: #subdebate-6-0-s1 .speaker-J7U} ##### Dame ENID LYONS:
DARWIN, TASMANIA -- What extension of existing controls does the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction consider necessary in order to set aside a proportion of surplus motor vehicles and parts to be made available at standardized prices through the Disposals Commission direct to retail traders making delivery to householders? {: #subdebate-6-0-s2 .speaker-KCF} ##### Mr DEDMAN:
ALP -- The present procedure with regard to the disposal of motor vehicles is that the Disposals Commission sells them to motor interests which distribute them through the ordinary trade channels. Subject to certain priorities established for the purpose of setting aside a certain number of vehicles for ex-servicemen - and this is only a voluntary arrangement with the motor trade -the flow of motor vehicles is free to take place in the interests of the community at large. If the Government were to take steps to direct the flow of motor vehicles into any particular channel, whether to traders, or primary producers, or any other section of the community, it would obviously be an interference with the free flow of motor vehicles which, subject to the priorities to which I have referred, is taking place at the present time. {: .page-start } page 1646 {:#debate-7} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-7-0} #### COAL-MINING INDUSTRY {: #subdebate-7-0-s0 .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr ABBOTT:
NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES -- In view of the serious shortage of coal supplies throughout. Australia, with its deplorable effect on industry, transport and the generation of electricity for power and domestic use, will the Prime Minister take up with the Government of New SouthWales the following questions for joint action by the State Government and the Commonwealth Government in order to bring about a rapid increase of the production of coal : - 1. That double shifts be worked *At* all open-cut mines in New South Wales. 2. Immediate development of additional areas of open-cut working at Muswellbrook, Ben Bullen, and other suitable places, as recommended by **Mr. Justice** Davidson in his report on the coal-mining industry. Also is it not a fact that within two months of the start of stripping, operations at the Musswellbrook open-cut, production was 1,000 tons of coal a day ? {: #subdebate-7-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
ALP -- Open-cut mining and the opening of new coal seams that (an be worked by open-cut methods has been discussed in the last month or two between the Premier and the Minister for Mines of New' South' Wales and myself, the Minister for Supply and Shipping, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, the Minister for Works and Mousing and other Ministers. I understand from the report of the Mines Department of New South Wales that open-cut mining is capable of only limited production. I make it clear that a double shift has not been discussed, but we have discussed the rapidity with which open<;nt mining can be put into operation. Everything possible is to be done to obtain th « necessary plant, such as earth-moving machinery. In the early stages it was difficult to get machinery, but I understand that now there is a possibility of our getting it. I do not think any aspect mentioned by the honorable gentleman, with the exception of a double shift, has escaped attention, and action has been taken to expedite to the greatest possible, degree the work, including development nf the coal measures adjacent to Muswellbrook mentioned by the honorable gentleman. *I* shall have the matter of a double shift- examined to see whether some arrangement is possible in regard to that. {: .page-start } page 1647 {:#debate-8} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-8-0} #### RIFLE CLUBS {: #subdebate-8-0-s0 .speaker-JVH} ##### Mr MOUNTJOY:
SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA -- Some time ago I approached the Minister for the Army ft bout the reconstitution of rifle clubs. As I have had further representations from my constituents and people wishing to join rifle clubs, can he say what progress has been made towards their reconstitution ? {: #subdebate-8-0-s1 .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE:
ALP -- The Government has authorized the re-establishment of rifle clubs as from the 1st 'July, 1946. Thu departmental organization for the administration of the rifle 'club movement will be on the lines in force before 1931, when the rifle clubs were a civil movement under a Secretariat of the Department of Defence. This is in accordance with the request of the Commonwealth Council of Rifle Associations, and also has the approval of the Military Board. This decision to re-establish rifle clubs as from the 1st July, 1946, was notified to the Commonwealth Council of Rifle Associations on the 17th May last, and a meeting of the council was held in Melbourne on the 20th and 2lst May with a view to taking the necessary action to give effect to the Government's decision. {: .page-start } page 1647 {:#debate-9} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-9-0} #### SHIPPING Hold-up of Dutch Vessels. {: #subdebate-9-0-s0 .speaker-L0G} ##### Mr RYAN:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA -- I ask the Prime Minister whether the attitude of the Government towards waterside workers, regarding Dutch ships lying in Australian ports is to be accepted as its definite and final decision? This dispute is affecting relations between Australia and the Dutch. What steps does the Government propose to take to restore to the Dutch authorities *use* of the Dutch vessels which have been in Australian ports for nearly nine months? In addition, what steps does the Prime Minister propose to take to ensure that repairs to the Dutch destroyer *Piet Mein* are carried out within a reasonable time? * {: #subdebate-9-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
ALP -- The answer to the first portion of the honorable member's question is " No ". In reply to the second part of the question, -I inform the honorable member that negotiations have proceeded almost, continuously, and at one stage representatives of the British authorities participated with a view to terminating the dispute involving Dutch merchant ships, but. I regret to say, without success. It has not been possible to reach any satisfactory arrangement to meet, the position. I am not aware of all the circumstances relating to the *Piet* *Hein.* I understand that it is not a commercial vessel, but a war vessel. {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr Menzies: -- It is a destroyer. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- Some of the equipment of some destroyers has been removed so that the vessels could be used for certain other purposes. However, I understand that the *Piet* *Hein* is still equipped as a warship. The Minister for External Affairs has made some inquiries regarding this vessel, which has been proceeding from port to port. He has not been able to make satisfactory arrangements for the vessel to be repaired. It was said that the ship sustained the original damage in the English Channel. The Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for the Navy have been endeavouring to obtain information as to where the *Piet TIein* came from, the ports at which it called, and the nature of the damage which it sustained, but it has not been possible to make any arrangement for the ship to be repaired. I shall have something very much more to say at a Inter stage if those who claim to represent the Du tell Government persist in making statements of the character that were made quite recently. I have always endeavoured to deal with diplomatic representatives in the most courteous and amicable manner. I have endeavoured, -subject to limitations about which the honorable' member knows, to meet the requests of the Dutch authorities. The Government has been able to meet many of those requests despite other difficulties. I consider that it was most inappropriate, in view of the knowledge that there was trouble already with Dutch commercial vessels in Sydney, to send the *Piet Mein* to that port, because it was evident that unless the existing dispute could be overcome the warship also would be involved. At the moment, one does not see any particular reason for warships being used; I do not know what the urgency can be. We have tried, within reason, and with certain .limitations, to meet the Dutch authorities iri the most courteous way possible, and I merely say at this stage that I regret the circumstances that have given rise to this question. On the first occasion when I had some discussion with the Dutch Minister on a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition, about certain correspondence, all that correspondence appeared in the Melbourne press on the following day. The Dutch Minister has assured me, and I accept his word, that he was nol, responsible for the publication of that correspondence between the Government and the Dutch authorities. Still it was rather a strange thing that correspondence of that character between officers of the Department of External Affairs and the Dutch authorities should appear in the Melbourne daily press. I must confess that I was not at all pleased with the statement that was made the other day. I am quite prepared for the Government to take whatever criticism should come to it about matters of this kind; but I consider that diplomatic relations are not, improved when representatives of other governments engage in newspaper controversy which can easily be taken as intended to damage a government then in office. I am always prepared to take the most generous' view of these things, and accept the view that no such intention was held by the Dutch Minister in connexion with the statement that was made to the press. This particular trouble has arisen because of differences that the Dutch Government has. with its own subjects. Whatever trouble has arisen in connexion with this matter has arisen because of some difference of opinion between the Dutch authorities and . subjects of the Dutch Government in Indonesia. The dispute has travelled, and the repercussions have become very much wider now than the matter of the Dutch ships in this country. I would have thought ' that diplomats would have been serving their country much better by trying to settle the differences that exist between the Dutch Government and its own subjects than by engaging in newspaper controversy in another country. {: #subdebate-9-0-s2 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
BALACLAVA, VICTORIA -- In the cable news from Java it is stated that the so-called Prime Minister, Sutan Sjahrir, who has been negotiating with the Dutch,' stated : "It is my Government's desire to ensure that medical supplies and other essentials are brought into Java for the relief of the population ". He also said that he would approach the waterside workers in Australia with a view to inducing them to lift the ban on Dutch ships. In view of the fact that the. Indonesians themselves are *Shipping.* [20 June, 1946.] *Shipping.* 1649 now askingthat the ships be worked, will the Prime Minister again open negotiations in order to bring this shameful incident to an end, instead of allowing a handful of Communists to direct our foreign policy? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- I am afraid the honorable member has fallen into a trap. Not so long ago, a very prominent person came to Australia, and while here consulted with trade union representatives in Sydney - the Minister for Supply and Shipping . being present - regarding the hold-up of Dutch ships. I refer to Lord Louis Mountbatten, who said that he believed that Sutan Sjahrir, the selfstyledPremier of Indonesia, wanted the ships and their cargoes to be taken to Java. I am sorry that the honorable member has raised this question, because it compels me to say that I was myself informed that a message would come to me through the ordinary diplomatic channels to the effect that Sutan Sjahrir would indicate his desire that Dutch ships should be sent to Java. The British representative in Java at that lime was **Sir Archibald** Clark Kerr, now Lord Inverchapel, British representative in Washington. I have been most anxious to get the ships to Java with the cargoes which the Dutch bought in Australia, and the Government has been engaged in continuous negotiations with a view to bringing this about. I waited some days for the message referred to, hut the only message that came to me, and it was through the ordinary diplomatic channels, indicated that Sutan Sjahrir did not favour the release of the Dutch ships. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The message news item was published on the front page of yesterday's Melbourne *Argus.* {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- I have given the honorable member the information which I received. {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr Menzies: -- But that was a long time ago. The question of the honorable member for Balaclava relates to a cable item published yesterday. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- Since I received the message to which I have referred I have received no other from any source. {: #subdebate-9-0-s3 .speaker-K6Q} ##### Mr BERNARD CORSER:
WIDE BAY, QUEENSLAND -- Can. the Prime Minister say whether Dutch ships are still being held up in Australia through the action of unions which hold certain views on foreign policy? If so, does the Government support their action ? Is this action in accordance with the Government's policy? If not, when will the Government assert itself, and put into effect its own foreign policy? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- My answer to the honorable member's question is : " See reply to the question asked by the honorable member for Flinders ". {: .page-start } page 1649 {:#debate-10} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-10-0} #### INDUSTRIAL ADVISORY . COMMITTEES {: #subdebate-10-0-s0 .speaker-KRI} ##### Mr SHEEHY:
BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA -- During the war advisory committees operated satisfactorily in connexion with many industries in securing a 100 per cent. war effort. I ask the Prime Minister whether he will give consideration to the establishment of such committees -to give advice to the Government and to help in securing efficiency and smoothness during the period until full-time peace production is reached. {: #subdebate-10-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
ALP -- I should like to give consideration to one or two aspects of this subject before replying to the honorable gentleman's question. I shall be glad to prepare and furnish a short statement to him as early as possible. {: .page-start } page 1649 {:#debate-11} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-11-0} #### REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS {: #subdebate-11-0-s0 .speaker-KRE} ##### Mr SHEEHAN:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES -I ask the Prime Minister whether land sales control is to remain a permanent feature of the Australian economy. Are land sales in the city of Sydney, involving millions of pounds, being held up for adjustment in relation to the sale price? Will the right honorable gentleman consider the necessity for large-scale property transactions in Australia's post-war trade expansion, and permit wider discretionary power to be given to the delegate of the Treasurer in respect of all city land sales? {: #subdebate-11-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
ALP -- I understand that land sales control is a part of the general prices control, the continuance of which has been agreed to by the Premiers of the States. Three Premiers have intimated that the power already referred to the Commonwealth Government by legislation may continue to be exercised with their permission in connexion with prices control. The other three Premiers have agreed to submit to their parliaments the matter of prices control 1650 *Real Estate Transactions.* [REPRESENTA TIVES.] *Roofing Tiles.* being carried on by the Commonwealth for a period. I cannot say, at the moment, because a final decision has not yet been reached, when land sales control will terminate. Until the present very strong inflationary' tendency in connexion with land values has been checked, and the position has been stabilized, some control of values ought to be exercised. The Commonwealth Government has found, and I am sure other governments have had a' similar experience, that whenever it does anything that is likely to assist any section of the community, such as guaranteeing or stabilizing the prices of wool, wheat and any other product, and, indeed, whenever it engages in any commercial activity on or close to land that is susceptible of speculative operations, there is immediately a sharp increase of prices, the final result of which is that the value of any benefits given to primary producers is destroyed because of the increased pricesor rents that they have to pay. There ought to be some control, whether State or Federal, of land values in the future. How that can best be achieved by collaboration between the States and the Commonwealth, or how long the existing land sales control regulations are likely to continue, I am unable to say. {: .page-start } page 1650 {:#debate-12} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-12-0} #### DARWIN Church of EnglAnd Rectory. {: #subdebate-12-0-s0 .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr BLAIN: -- When does the Minister for the Navy intend thai, the Church of England rectory. Darwin, which at present, is being used as a sick bay for naval ratings, shall be returned to His Gracethe Bishop of Carpentaria? {: #subdebate-12-0-s1 .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr MAKIN:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- The Navy authorities are endeavouring to return the rectory temporarily to the Church of England authorities by the end of this month. Ultimately, of course, the Church of England authorities will have to make other provision for their needs, because the area in which the rectory is located has been reserved for naval purposes. {: .page-start } page 1650 {:#debate-13} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-13-0} #### ROOFING TILES {: #subdebate-13-0-s0 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
HUNTER, NEW SOUTH WALES -- I ask the Minister for: Works and Housing whether, in the Newcastle coal-fields district, approximately 100 houses are complete with the excep tion of tile roofing. Is there only one tile-making firm within 100 miles of Newcastle? As this firm has tile-layers in its employ, are persons who are building homes privately unable to obtain tiles? Will the Minister, in conjunction with the Minister for Labour and Industry in New South Wales, endeavour to obtain supplies of tiles from other States in which there is not a shortage? {: #subdebate-13-0-s1 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Minister for Works and Housing · WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I shall take the matter up with the Minister for Labour and Industry in New South Wales. The Commonwealth Department of Works and Housing has been examining the manufacture of tiles and bricks, and J am pleased to state that there has been an improvement of the position throughout Australia within' the last few months. I do not doubt that the position in the Newcastle district is as bad as thehonorable member alleges it to be. Apparently, however, the problem is merely a local one. I shall endea vour to have it resolved. {: .page-start } page 1650 {:#debate-14} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-14-0} #### UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE {: #subdebate-14-0-s0 .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL:
WIMMERA, VICTORIA · CP -- The Minister for the Navy, as Acting Minister for Air, is reported to have said that he is heartily in accord with the proposal placed before him by the *Sunraysiu Daily* in a telegram dated the 6th June, for the utilization of the Air Force station at Mildura, Victoria, in the establishment of a branch of the University of Melbourne, and to have given the assurance, which is much appreciated, of full asistance by the department to this end. Will the Minister state what assistance is being given? Has he any idea when these buildings will become available to the University of Melbourne? {: #subdebate-14-0-s1 .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr MAKIN:
Minister for Aircraft Production · HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- The Department of Air is endeavouring to arrange for the premises mentioned to be used for the purpose stated. When they can be vacated is somewhat indefinite. I shall endeavour to secure definite information before the end of this week. {: .page-start } page 1650 {:#debate-15} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-15-0} #### HOSPITAL BENEFITS {: #subdebate-15-0-s0 .speaker-KFX} ##### Mr HADLEY:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND -- I have received from Brisbane the complaint that some persons who have entered unregistered hospitals have on that account been precluded from participation in the Hospital Benefits Scheme. They have been compelled to enter such hospitals because of the acute shortage of beds in registered hospitals. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Social .Services take up with the Ministers for Health in the States the matter of allowing payments to be made to persons who enter or have entered unregistered hospitals for treatment, without the knowledge that such hospitals were not registered under the act, and who have been or will be excluded from the benefits of the act? {: #subdebate-15-0-s1 .speaker-KCF} ##### Mr DEDMAN:
ALP -- I shall ask the Minister for Social Services to furnish a reply to the honorable member. {: .page-start } page 1651 {:#debate-16} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-16-0} #### PETROL {: #subdebate-16-0-s0 .speaker-KV7} ##### Sir FREDERICK STEWART:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping have prepared, for the information of the House, a statement showing the total civilian consumption of petrol during last May, the average consumption during May in each of the five years preceding the outbreak of war, and the total number of persons now employed in connexion with, and the tol;al cost of administering, petrol control ? {: #subdebate-16-0-s1 .speaker-KCF} ##### Mr DEDMAN:
ALP -- I should imagine that the preparation of the details asked for by the honora'ble member would take considerable time. However, [ shall ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping to consider his request. {: .page-start } page 1651 {:#debate-17} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-17-0} #### MUNITIONS ESTABLISHMENTS Dismissal of Ex-Servicemen {: #subdebate-17-0-s0 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- In view of the fact that dismissals from the Commonwealth Munitions Factory at Footscray have been described' by a returned soldier in Queensland as a gross betrayal of exservicemen and of the promises made to them, will the Minister for Munitions say whether the Government intends to dismiss more returned soldiers when reducing the war-time staffs of munitions establishments? If the magistrate's decision voiding preference in the Commonwealth munitions factories is found to be correct, will the Government take immediate steps to amend the Re-establishment and Employment Act so as to ensure that preference to ex-servicemen in Commonwealth employment shall be fully preserved ? ' {: #subdebate-17-0-s1 .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr MAKIN:
ALP -- Whether or not there will be further retrenchment in Commonwealth munitions factories will depend upon the volume of orders received from the services. I assure the honorable member .that the Government has faithfully applied the principle of preference to ex-servicemen in regard to both appointments and dismissals. As for the incident at the Footscray munitions factory, the case was not argued on the issue of preference, but on something quite different. ' {: .page-start } page 1651 {:#debate-18} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-18-0} #### WAR GRATUITIES {: #subdebate-18-0-s0 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- Will the Minister for the *Army* consider making war gratuities available earlier to single men who wish to use the money to set themselves up in business? At the present time, .1 understand, immediate , payment is ' restricted to those who want amounts of less than £10, and to those who propose to build homes. {: #subdebate-18-0-s1 .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE:
ALP -- The payment of war gratuities is governed by legislation which was based on the recommendation of a joint parliamentary committee. The suggestion' of the honorable member will be taken into consideration, but L remind him that this is not a matter regarding which I as Minister for the Army can make a decision. {: .page-start } page 1651 {:#debate-19} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-19-0} #### CATTLE DIP AT ALICE SPRINGS: {: #subdebate-19-0-s0 .speaker-KRT} ##### Mr SMITH:
WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA -- The Minister for the Interior will recall that some time ago I made representations to him regardingthe construction of a cattle dip at Alice Springs. Oan- he say whether the work has yet been commenced, and when it will be completed ? {: #subdebate-19-0-s1 .speaker-K9G} ##### Mr JOHNSON:
Minister Assisting the Minister for Works and Housing · KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP -- The honorable mem her made representations to me on this subject some time ago, and later I gave instructions that a dip be constructed at Alice Springs. The work has. been begun, but I cannot say when it will be finished. I shall obtain the information for the honorable member: 1652 *Aluminium.* [REPRESEN T ATI VES.] *War Risk Bonus.* {: .page-start } page 1652 {:#debate-20} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-20-0} #### ALUMINIUM {: #subdebate-20-0-s0 .speaker-K0E} ##### Dr GAHA:
DENISON, TASMANIA -- Is the Minister for Munitions able to indicate the present position of the development of the aluminium industry in Australia? {: #subdebate-20-0-s1 .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr MAKIN:
ALP -- Since its inception the Australian Aluminium Commission has been busily engaged in a series of investigationsdealing with the technical, physical and economic aspects of this industry. These investigations require certain surveys to be undertaken, not only in Australia but also overseas. Much of that preliminary work has been completed, and it is expected that a substantial capital expenditure will take place in the industry next year. I am expecting the first report of the Australian Aluminium Commission on the 30th June. When the report is available it will be laid upon the table of the House. {: .page-start } page 1652 {:#debate-21} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-21-0} #### MEAT INDUSTRY reconstitution of the australian Meat Board. {: #subdebate-21-0-s0 .speaker-JLR} ##### Mr ADERMANN:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND -- Didthe Minister for Commerce and Agriculture recently meet representatives ofthe Graziers Federal Council in Sydney regarding the reconstitution of the Australian Meat Board? If so, is the Minister in a. position tomake a statement as to the result of the conference, and is he able to say if and when it is intended to introduce amending legislation on the subject? {: #subdebate-21-0-s1 .speaker-KQB} ##### Mr SCULLY:
ALP -- It is a fact that I discussed with representatives of the Graziers Federal Council in Sydney some of the provisions that will be contained in the amending bill relating to the Australian Meat Board. The amending bill will be introduced at a very early date. {: #subdebate-21-0-s2 .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
Postmaster-General · BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- I have had a telegram from a friend in South Australia in which he desires to know whether it is a fact, as reported in the South Australian press, that when the Meat Board is reconstituted that State will be without, any representative whatsoever? {: .speaker-KQB} ##### Mr SCULLY: -- That is not so. {: .page-start } page 1652 {:#debate-22} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-22-0} #### WAR RISK BONUS {: #subdebate-22-0-s0 .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr RANKIN:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA -- Is it a fact that the war-risk bonus payable to coastal seamen working ships operating north of Townsville is to remain at 50 per cent. until the 30th June? If so, will the Prime Minister inform the House what war risk these men have experienced in the ten months since the war ended, and willhe give an assurance to the House that this gross waste of public money will cease at the end of this month? {: #subdebate-22-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
ALP -- The payment ofthe war risk bonus has been the subject of discussions, not only in Australia, but also in other countries. I shall have a short statement prepared setting out the position in general, not only in this country, but also overseas. {: .page-start } page 1652 {:#debate-23} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-23-0} #### INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT Encouragement of British Enterprises in Australia. {: #subdebate-23-0-s0 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- Will the Prime Minister state what guarantees, if any. he gave to British interests during his tour abroad to encourage them to extend their industries to Australia? {: #subdebate-23-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
ALP -- I take it that the honorable member's question relates in part to the building of ships in Australia. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- I was making general reference to the encouragement offered to British interests to establish branches of their industries in Australia. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- The aircraft production and ship building industries were made the subject of discussions with me whilst I was abroad. Just prior to my arrival and during the time I was in Great Britain, the Resident Minister in London. **(Mr. Beasley)** also had discussionns with representatives of these two important branches of industry. I understand that these discussions are still' continuing. It is true that representatives of a number of British companies have interviewed me or the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and representatives of the government of the various States with the object of establishing branch industries in Australia. In all cases they have been given whatever encouragement and assistance it has been possible to give. One of the *Industrial* [20 June, 1946.]. *Development.* 1653 greatest obstacles to the achievement of this aim, however, has been the incidence of double taxation. I have already intimated that an agreement in principle has been reached between the United Kingdom and Commonwealth governments in respect of that, and I am hopeful that when the agreement comes into operation it will remove the obstacle which in the past has prevented British interests from establishing industries in Australia. {: .page-start } page 1653 {:#debate-24} ### WOOL {:#subdebate-24-0} #### Double Dumping Inquiry {: #subdebate-24-0-s0 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
Prime Minister and Treasurer · Macquarie · ALP -- *by leave* - I inform the House that, following a request by the Government, the Premier of New South Wales has agreed to make available the services of His Honour **Mr. J** ustice Taylor, President of the Indusirial Commission of New South Wales, for the purpose of conducting an inquiry into claims which have been made with regard to the cessation of double dumping of wool. {: .page-start } page 1653 {:#debate-25} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-25-0} #### COMMONWEALTH DISPOSALS COMMISSION release of Mechanical Equipment. {: #subdebate-25-0-s0 .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- I ask the Prime Minister whether the conclusion of the lend-lease arrangement with the United Statesof America now makes it possible for the Commonwealth Government to make availableto the Commonwealth Disposals Commission numerous tractors and motor vehicles and other equipment of that type which is on site in variousparts of Australia. A serious shortage of these vehicles existsin Australia, particularly tractors, and it is reported that a considerable quantity awaits disposal. If that is the case, will the Prime Minister give an imperative instruction to the appropriate departments that this plant he released as soon as possible? {: #subdebate-25-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
ALP -- When I cameback to Australia, believingthat we had achieved a final settlement of lend-lease and reciprocal aid problems with the United States of America, I asked the appropriate Ministers and departmental officers to have all the various items of equipment put into their appropriate cate gories so that, subject to authorization from the American Government, we should be able to expedite the release of whatever vehicles and other equipment were available. I am informed that that is proceeding. Not only was it asked that all that equipment be got ready for release as early as possible, but the Government also arranged for a representativeto go to the : areas where the Americans have equipment, not at all connected with the particular agreement that we havereached, in order that we might purchase equipment of various kinds in those areas. With the honorable member for Richmond,I realize the urgency of allpossible vehicles, especially tractors, being released. I shall follow that matter up to ensure the greatest expedition. {: #subdebate-25-0-s2 .speaker-KV7} ##### Sir FREDERICK STEWART: -- Can the Prime Minister say to what purpose the money raised by the Disposals Commission from the sale of goods is being applied. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- A statement setting out the position will be prepared. {: .page-start } page 1653 {:#debate-26} ### PARLIAMENTARY PAPERS BILL 1946 Motion (by **Mr. Holloway,** through **Mr. Lazzarini)** agreed to - that leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Parliamentary Papers Act 1908-1935. {: .page-start } page 1653 {:#debate-27} ### OVERSEAS TELE COMMUNICATIONS BILL 1946 Motion (by **Mr. Calwell)** agreed to - >That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to provide for the establishment and operation of overseas telegraphic, telephonic and other like services by the Commonwealth and for other purposes. Bill presented, and read.a first time. Second- Reading. . {: #debate-27-s0 .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL:
Minister for Immigration andMinister for Information · Melbourne · ALP -- *by leave* - I move - >That the bill be now read a second time. This is a bill which I am confident will commenditself to both sidesof the House. It deals with the transfer to national ownership of the external telecommunication services now owned and operated by Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Limited and the. establishment of a statutory corporation to operate both radio and cable services linking Australia with other countries. This bill is one of a number of similar pieces of legislation which will be enacted by the parliaments of all self-governing countries in the British Commonwealth and Empire. It therefore does not represent a purely local conception. The step being taken in Australia is part of a united Empire-wide unified plan, recommended by the British Commonwealth Telecommunications Conference held in London in July and August, 1945, and accepted in principle by -all responsible governments of the Empire, subject to ratification by the respective parliaments. As honorable members are aware, Britain pioneered the vast submarine cable network which to-day links all countries of the world and which has provided foi1 many years the backbone of i 1 1 te rn *u* ti on a 1 telegraph com i n un i ca ti ons. The submarine cable network proved ro bc a very lucrative investment for the cable companies who owned and operated these services until the year 1926, when a new and cheaper means of international telegraphy was introduced, in the form of what is commonly known to-day as beam wireless. The cost of establishing and maintaining beam wireless services is very much lower than that of laying and maintaining submarine cables, and the natural result, was that the enterprises conducting radio services were able to undercut the rates charged by the cable companies for the transmission of telegraph messages. This 'brought about an economic crisis for the cable companies, whose huge capital investments were seriously prejudiced. Those cable companies whose services were most seriously affected -by the competition from the radio-telegraph were faced with the situation of continuing at a loss or of selling out rather than run the risk of dissipating their shareholders' funds ; and since there was a grave possibility that the cables might be transferred to the ownership of companies in foreign countries, some of whom were anxious to obtain a larger share of international telegraph business, it was apparent to the authorities that steps must be taken to preserve the continuity of the cable system. This was necessary for a number of reasons. As many honorable members are aware, notwithstanding the advantage, from an economic point of view, which the radio possesses over the submarine cables, the radio has certain disadvantages. Radio i.-i subject to fading and, at times, prolonged periods of interruption due to atmospheric conditions. Radio, moreover, is not a secret means of communication and, in times of war, radio transmissions can be jammed by a hostile power. The cables, on the other hand, are secret and provide a 24-hour a day continuous service, subject always, of course, to the possibilities of physical damage. As the position was viewed in 1926, the conclusion was reached that unless there were further developments in the use of radio which would overcome its serious deficiencies, the submarine cable must bc maintained not only for the transaction of commercial business but also because of its value strategically in the defence of the British Commonwealth and Empire. An Imperial Conference was held in 1928 to consider the problem and to makerecommendations to the Empire governments. This conference considered a number of possible solutions but finally made a. strong recommendation that then' should be a fusion of the cable and radio interests in the United Kingdom, and that the Dominion and Indian Governments should endeavour to make similar arrangements, lt was also suggested that the governments should not approve the establishment of any traditional radiotelegraph circuits with other countries if they would involve any substantial diversion of traffic, and therefore of revenues, from the merger company which it was proposed should be formed in the United Kingdom. The recommendations were adopted in the United Kingdom and, in 1929, under an United Kingdom Treasury Agreement of that year, there was brought about a merger of all the cable companies in the Empire. Certain trans- Atlantic cables owned by the British Government were transferred to the new company, as also were the Pacific cables which had been laid by the United Kingdom, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand Governments in combination, and which were operated under the aegis of the Pacific Cable Board, a body representative of those governments. The beam wireless stations in England, which were owned and operated by the United Kingdom Post Office and provided radio-telegraph services between Britain and India, Canada, South Africa . and Australia, were leased to the new company. Originally, the company was known as Imperial and 'International Communications Limited, but the name was later changed to Cable and "Wireless Limited. The United Kingdom Treasury Agreement also contained a number of provisions to safeguard the public interest, since the merger company virtually created a privately owned monopoly and it was deemed necessary to protect the public, and particularly the users of the *system,* against exploitation. Therefore, a body was constituted, known originally as the Imperial Communications Advisory Committee but later called the Commonwealth Communications Council, comprising representatives of the governments, whom the company was required to consult on all matters of policy and who were given authority on behalf of the governments to approve or veto rates, approve new services or the discontinuance of existing services, and. generally to keep a watchful - eye over the activities of the company and to advise the governments, as required, on matters considered to be of concern to Empire telecommunication interests. The United Kingdom Treasury Agreement also provided that the capital of the communications company should not exceed £30,000,000 sterling initially, that dividends paid to shareholders should not exceed £1,865,000 (which is approximately 6 per cent, on a capital investment of £30,000,000), and that any profits earned above £1,865,000 should be allotted as to 50 per cent, towards a reduction of rates or such other purposes as the advisory committee might approve, and as to 50 per cent, to the company. The stated objectives were, briefly, to secure as far as was possible all the advantages to he derived from unification of direction and operation of the services; at Hil] the same time to preserve for the governments concerned control over the unified undertaking which, had been created so as to safeguard the interests of the public in general and cable and wireless users in particular ; and to secure these desiderata at a minimum of cost to the governments concerned. It will be interesting to honorable members at this stage if I outline the situation as it existed in Australia at the time the 192S Imperial Conference was held. There was then, and still is, a local company - Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited - operating radio telegraph services between Australia and other Empire countries. Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, as honorable members are aware, is a joint company with an authorized capital of £1,000,000 of which the Commonwealth Government holds 500,001 fully paid shares, the balance - except approximately 14,000 shares which have not been issued - being held by private shareholders. The local company, under agreements negotiated with the Commonwealth Government in 1922, 1924 and 1927, possesses a franchise" to establish, maintain and operate radio services between Australia and other countries, and in this respect the company enjoys a monopoly. The local company was both energetic and successful in its operations, and was keen to extend its services, but since the Commonwealth Government, as a' signatory to the 1929 United Kingdom Treasury Agreement, had undertaken to resist the opening of any. additional radio-telegraph services which would compete with the services of Cable and Wireless Limited, the Commonwealth Government was obliged to refuse to agree to the establishment of several new services which the local company, since 1929, sought approval to inaugurate. This not unnaturally led to disagreement between the Government and the company. Although the 192S Imperial Conference had strongly recommended that the Dominion governments should encourage the fusion of cable and wireless interests in their respective territories, only in South Africa and in India was this recommendation followed. In Canada and Australia the position was met for the time being by joint purse agreements. In New Zealand, Cable and Wireless Limited own the cable terminals and the New Zealand Government the radio terminals. It should be stated, however, that in 1930 Cable and Wireless Limited and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited submitted to the Commonwealth Government of the, time a proposal for a merger, but government policy had in the meantime veered towards nationalization of the externa] wireless services and government agreement was withheld. Since 1930., successive Commonwealth governments have given consideration to the local problems that arose in Australia in respect of external telecommunications, but although governments of both sides of the House endorsed the policy of national ownership, no positive steps were taken to introduce the necessary legislation. It was transparently clear to those most closely associated with the administration of these services that something should be done but, since the governments of the day, although subscribing to the principle of national ownership, continued to be averse to taking steps to nationalize the services, an alternative scheme was evolved by the PostmasterGeneral's Department in 1940 and was approved early in 1941 by the Menzies Government. The proposal adopted provided for a tripartite Operating organization, in which, the Government would hold 50 per cent, of the shares, Cable and Wireless Limited, who own the cable terminals in Australia 25 per cent., and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia)Limited who own the radio terminals, 25 per cent. Negotiations with Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited were undertaken but little progress was made until after the Curtin Government assumed office when, following an Imperial Conference held in Canberra in December, 1942, heads of agreement were drawn up for the necessary amalgamation of the interests involved and accepted by the Government and by the board of directors of Amalgamated Wireless (Aus- Limited. **Sir Ernest** Fisk, chairman and managing director of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, proceeded- to London in 1943- to secure the agreement of Cable and Wireless Limited, but negotiations broke down. To return to the telecommunication scene in Great Britain, it may be stated that, although the 1928 conference had held out high hopes for the success of the new merger company as a financial undertaking, the company experienced early in its career serious financial difficulties. Soon after its formation in 1929 there was a world-wide depression which so seriously reduced the traffic revenues of the company that its financial stability was imperilled ; and it approached the Imperial Communications Advisory Committee with proposals for substantial increases in the rates for overseas telegrams. The advisory committee expressed doubts both about increasing rates during a time of financial stress and also whether an increase of rates would secure any improvement in the company's financial position. The committee, however, recommended that the company's administration and conduct of its services should be examined by an independent inquiry. The committee of inquiry, in 1931, made a series of recommendations, among which were that the company's capital should be written down ; that the conditions requiring the company to maintain cables necessary for strategic reasons only should be revised, and that there should be- a general overhaul in the company'sadministration with a view to effecting economies. The revenues of the company, meanwhile, continued to be so low that in two successive years the dividends paid to shareholders were reduced to 5s. per £100 of share capital instead of £6 per cent, as provided in the merger plan. Some relief had to be given to the company, and the United Kingdom Government therefore agreed to cancel the annual rental of £250,000 which was being paid by the company to the British Post Office for the lease of four beam wireless stations in Great Britain, and to grant the company a freehold of those stations. In return for this and other concessions, the United Kingdom Government was given a shareholding of £2,600,000 in the company. The net standard revenue of the company was also reduced from 6 per cent, to 4 per cent, on the capital investment, thereby reducing the profit payable to shareholders from £1,865,000 to £1,200^.000. These financial adjustments were made in 193S. Immediately afterwards, and as a result of an improvement in the financial position of Cable and "Wireless Limited, the partner governments, in collaboration with all the companies operating the external telegraph services throughout the Empire, introduced a new tariff schedule which conferred great benefits on the public in all Empire countries. A flat rate of ls. 3d. a word for full-rate traffic, with correspondingly lower rates for lower category traffics, was introduced early in 1.938. The saving to the public was estimated at £500,000 sterling. Although the new rates entailed considerable sacrifice in revenues both to the companies and to the governments, it was hoped that there would follow an increased traffic demand which would more than compensate for the loss of revenues in (he initial period. "Before the effects of the reduction in rates could be properly gauged, however, World War II. intervened. During the war the volume of traffic considerably increased due very largely to the increase in government business transacted by telegraph. The revenues of the overseas telegraph companies, both in the United Kingdom and in the Dominions, readied all-time high levels. As a result, Cable and Wireless Limited was not only able to pay to its shareholders the standard revenue of 4 per cent, on invested capital during the years 1939 to 1944, ,but provided substantial balances for diversion to reserve funds to cover war taxation and other contingencies, including provision for future rate reductions in accordance with the 1929 United Kingdom Treasury Agreement. But the war produced other telecommunication problems, both for Cable and Wireless Limited and the governments. Honorable members will recollect that the governments had 'agreed in 1929 to resist the opening of additional radio-telegraph services which might cause a diversion of revenues from Cable and Wireless Limited and its associates. All the partner governments had loyally adhered to that condition and had indeed, reaffirmed their obligations in this respect in 1937. In the intervening period, however, there had been insistent requests from other countries for direct radio telecommunication services. Australia was not immune from these importunings, and the continued refusals of the Commonwealth Government to permit the establishment of direct radio-telegraph services, particularly with the United States of America and Japan, had led to considerable embarrassment with overseas administrations and also, with Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, who not unnaturally were desirous of expanding their services. The war brought about a radical change. As I have pointed out, the- volume- of traffic had greatly increased. This increase coincided with the interruption of a number of 'cable routes and that, in tarn, gave impetus to the establishment of direct radiotelegraph circuits. Before the war the only Empire territories with which the United States of America had direct radio-telegraph communication were the United Kingdom, the Bahamas and British Honduras. On its entry into the war, however, the Government of the United States of America made an irresistible case for the establistment, as a w.-ar measure, of direct radio-telegraph communication with a number of Empire countries, particularly with those countries where United States forces were operating.. In the circumstances of the time, the Empire governments, Australia among them, could not. do other than agree to the establishment of a number of direct radiotelegraph services with the United States of America. It will be remembered that at one stage of World War II. the telecommunications system of the Empire was gravely imperilled. Cables had been cut in the Mediterranean, the entire Far Eastern cathie system had been seized by Japan, and the routes of the cables linking Australia with India and Canada were dangerously close to areas in the hands of the Japanese. Cable and Wireless Limited strongly protested against the establishment of these direct radio-telegraph services with the United .States of America on the ground that it constituted a distinct departure from the -undertakings given to the company in 192S and reaffirmed in 1937; and the company claimed that if the services were established it should be compensated for any losses of revenue. The Imperial Communications Advisory Committee suggested to the governments that the services, if established, should be retained, only for the duration of the, war and six months thereafter, and that transit traffic, that is to say, traffic other than that originating or terminating in the terminal countries, should not be admitted over these direct services. Some governments accepted those conditions, but the Australian Government reserved its position. In this connexion it should be explained that the Australian Government, following the 1937 conference in London, had expressly stipulated that it could not bind itself or its successors in office to abrogate, its rights to authorize new wireless services if arid when circumstances made it desirable to do so. The view was held that for several reasons it would be difficult to justify discontinuing these direct services once they were established. For one thing, it could be expected that there would be a greater community of interest than ever before between Australia and the United States, and that it would be desirable to foster this in every way . possible. There was also to be considered the cost of erecting the radio terminals both in Australia and the .United States of America, and the probable higher traffic demands to he met after the war than before. The problems created by the establishment of these direct radio-telegraph services with America were considered at an Empire conference held in Canberra in 1942, and also at a meeting of the Commonwealth .Communications Council held in London in 1944. Meantime, . the United States authorities had been seeking assurances that the conditions attached to the establishment of the services would be withdrawn. The Australian delegates to those conferences made it clear that Australia for its part would not discontinue the radio-telegraph services with the United States if traffic and other needs after the war justified their retention; and that the claims for compensation by Cable and Wireless Limited for losses of revenue could not be admitted. The Commonwealth Government, however, as I have already stated, had meantime invited Cable and Wireless Limited to join with the Govern-1' ment and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited rn forming a merger organization in .''Australia, through , which, as a partner, the London company would have been able to share in the revenues derived from the operation of these direct services. Cable and Wireless Limited had refused to participate in this merger organization. The meeting of the Commonwealth Communications Council, held in London, was confronted with some grave problems ' in telecommunications. Cable and Wireless Limited emphasized that if the direct services with. America were retained in operation after the war, as Australia and other dominions intended, and if transit traffic were allowed over these services, the company would be faced with ruin. There were other problems also to which the company did not appear to be able to present a satisfactory solution and which were likely to affect its former revenue-earning capacity. A general rise in costs appeared to be inevitable, as was also a revision of the currency agreements relating to traffic settlements which, before the war, added considerably to the company's income. Intense competition from fast international air mail services would undoubtedly have to be met, particularly the competition of the air mail's with deferred category traffic, and there would he greater competition to meet than ever before from operator's in the United States of America. The company was invited to discuss these matters with the council, and the council also sought the company's views on these problems in writing. Later the council was notified, through the United Kingdom Treasury, that the company had come to the conclusion that the really satisfactory solution of all these problems was to form a single overseas telecommunications corporation for the whole Empire, the shareholders in all the existing companies, both in the United Kingdom and else- where in the Empire, to exchange their holdings for stock in the new corporation, with interest at 3 per cent, guaranteed by the governments concerned. The Commonwealth Communications Council itself had reached the conclusion that the time had come for a radical reorganization of the control and operation of the Empire's telecommunication services. It was quite obvious that the attainment of unification of direction and operation of overseas communications, both cable and radio, which the 1928 Imperial Conference had recommended, had not in fact been achieved. Although Cable and Wireless Limited owned and operated the overseas telegraph services in the United Kingdom and held a substantial proportion of the share capital in the companies responsible for the operation of the radio-telegraph services in all the dominions, except New Zealand, and in India, those companies were for the most part conducted as separate entities. In Australia, Cable and Wireloss Limited conducts the cable services, and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited the external radio services. A similar position obtains in Canada; whilst in New Zealand the radiotelegraph services _ are owned and operated by the Government. The proposal of Cable and Wireless Limited was virtually an admission that, in the light of the changed conditions brought about by the war and the inability of the governments to adhere any longer to the obligation they had entered into in 1929, the structure of the organization then established was no longer adequate, and that the governments themselves had to take a greater share of control and responsibility. The proposal submitted by the company was that by Royal Charter a single corporation, based on London, be formed to operate throughout the British Commonwealth and Empire. Ownership of the stock in the corporation would remain with existing shareholders, who would exchange their stock in the present companies for stock in ,the new corporation, the governments to guarantee a fixed rate of interest on the investment. The company suggested; however, that the undertaking bt managed by a board of governors representing the United Kingdom, the Dominions, India and the colonies, the number of each to bear some relation to Hie amount of guarantee and the responsibilities of the particular area. Governments were to control the corporation through terms laid down in the charter and by the issue of licences, which were to be exclusive. It is interesting to record the premises upon which Cable and Wireless Limited based its proposals, as explained to the Commonwealth Communications Council by" the chairman of directors of the company. It was pointed out that the present arrangement represented a patchwork- of conflicting shades arid shapes; that Dominion governments were in an embarrassing position between their desire to manage their own affairs, without prejudice to imperial interests, and their present obligations to, and dependence on, London as a centre of the Empire telecommunication services; that there might soon be in all Empire ' countries a conflict between, the interests of company shareholders and of the public service; that the responsibility for maintaining a. rationalized system of cable and wireless services throughout the Empire could not be carried by one particular company ; that the increasing and aggressive competition from telecommunication entities in foreign countries had to be realized and met; and that a system must be devised which, with public service the sole motive, would result in flexibility in the conduct of these services and a coordination of direction in policy in their planning and execution; that it should be such as to combine the advantages of public control without its disadvantages; that there should be public control over major policy but not public interference in management; and that 'it should have an area of operation which would be right technically, economically and politically. It is interesting also to record that the Australian and New Zealand members of the council, on somewhat the same premises but approaching the problem through dominion eyes, had formulated, another proposal which they presented to the council on the 25th April, 1944, a day earlier than the company's plan was communicated to the council. By virtue of the authors of the plan and the day on which it was presented, the alternative plan was promptly called the " Anzac plan ". This plan , proposed the establishment of a series of public utility corporations in the United Kingdom, in each of the dominions and in India, each corporation being owned by 'the local government but linked by an exchange of shareholding between the United Kingdom corporation on the one hand and the dominion and India corporations on the other, the Commonwealth Communications Council acting as a clearing house 1660 *Overseas* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Telecmmnimications Bill* 1946. for information and as the essential coordinating authority on behalf of the governments. The Commonwealth Communications Council, after a careful examination of both plans, decided unanimously to recommend to the partner governments the adoption of the Anzac plan. The council considered that it was essential that the Dominions and India should have a greater share in the administration of the British Commonwealth telecommunications system, with a view to its development as a whole on both the cable and wireless sides. Moreover, the council considered that a company largely commercial in structure", with obligations to private shareholders, might not be in a position to provide a service to satisfy fully public needs and strategic requirements. As honorable members will observe from the bill, the plan finally adopted resembles closely the plan submitted in April, 1944, by the Australian and -New Zealand delegates at the meeting of the Commonwealth Communications Council. The recommendations of the council were considered initially by the PrimeMinisters' conference in London in May, 1944, but no decision was taken other than that the plan would be examined in detail by each of the partner governments. Later, all partner governments accepted the plan in principle, with some reservations as to detail, except the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Union of SouthAfrica. The United Kingdom Government, while accepting the view of the Commonwealth Communications Council that there was a case for a fundamental change in the structure of the Empire's telecommunication services, did. not think that the scheme recommended would provide that degree of central co-ordination which was essential to securing the consolidation and strengthening of the cable and radio systems which were considered to be imperative. The United Kingdom Government accordingly decided to send a mission, led by Lord Keith, to the Dominions and India to explain the difficulties seen by the United Kingdom Government and to explore alternatives. Since complete agreement was not reached another conference - the Commonwealth Telecommunications Conference - was held in London in July and August, 1945. The Governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and Southern Rhodesia were represented at this conference. Representatives of Cable and Wireless Limited and some of the associated companies in the Dominions, including a representative of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, althoughnot members of the conference, attended certain of itsmeetings. The conference made a series of recommendations, all of which have since been accepted by the partner governments subject to ratification by the respective parliaments. The Commonwealth Telecommunications Conference reached the unanimous conclusion that, in order to secure the desired strengthening and better ordering of the British Commonwealth telecommunications system, a fundamental change in the present organization was necessary. The conference recommended, first, thatthe private shareholder interest in the ownership of overseas telecommunication services of the United Kingdom, the Dominions and India should be replaced by public ownership ; secondly, that the government in each Empire country should acquire the ownership of the telecommunication assets in its territories; thirdly, that the type of organization established in each Empire country to own and operate the external telecommunication services should as far as possible be uniform ; and, fourthly, that a Commonwealth Telecommunications Board be established to replace the Commonwealth Communications Council, with functions mainly advisory in character, but. extending to all the national organizations throughout the Empire instead of being related only to the London organization as under present conditions. The conference also worked out a system of pooling of net revenues in a central fund, from which out-payments for the maintenance of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Board and (he maintenance of the submarine cables could be met, after which the residues would be returned to the respective national bodies. Legislation to give effect to the recommendations of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Conference has already been introduced in the British House of *Overseas* [20 June,1946.] *Telecommunications Bill* 1946. 1661 Commons. The bill before the British Parliament provides for the acquisition of the shares of Cable and Wireless Limited, apart from the 2,600,000 shares which it already owns, and the payment of compensation to the shareholders. Another bill' is to be introduced later for the establishment of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Board and for the carrying into effect of. the full scheme recommended by the 1945 conference. The bill before this Blouse provides for the full implementation of the recommendations of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Conference, which have already been accepted in principle by the Government, and the ratification of an overall agreement in the form set out in the first schedule to the bill. The bill provides for the establishment in Australia of a government commission as a corporate body, to acquire the ownership of and to maintain and operate the overseas telecommunication services at present conducted by Amalgamated Wireless ( Australasia) Limited and by Cable and Wireless Limited in the territories of the Commonwealth of Australia. The commission, which the hill provides shall be called the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia), will be constituted on lines. similar to the Australian National Airlines. Commission. In Part IV. of the bill, provision is made for the assessment of the compensation which will be payable to Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited for the acquisition by the Commonwealth of the company's telecommunication assets. The bill provides that the amount so payable may be determined by 'agreement between the commission and the company. Negotiations towards this end have already been opened between the Government and the company. In the event of agreement not being reached by the parties concerned, the amount may be determined by a compensation board set up in accordance with clause 50 of the bill. If either party is dissatisfied with the amount of compensation determined by the board, the act provides that an appeal may be made to the High CourtHonorable members will agree that the bill provides adequate and ample machinery for the acquisition of the company's telecommunication assets on fair and just terms. The assets of Cable and Wireless Limited to be taken over by the commission will be transferred by the British Government to the commission at an agreed price to be paid in cash. The 1945 London conference recommended that the: governments should give consideration to means whereby the interests of the staffs of both companies might be safeguarded. Provision is accordingly made in clause18 of the bill to give effect to that recommendation, so far as it is practicable to do so. The honorable member for Martin **(Mr. Daly)** has made representations to the Government on this matter: {: .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr Daly: -- Will their rights be protected ? {: #debate-27-s1 .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL:
ALP -- Yes. Theconditions will be set out either in the legislation or in an agreement which will be made between the company and the Government prior to the establishment of the commission, or subsequently between the commission and the company. Employees of the two companies who have been exclusively employed by them on telecommunications in Australia for a period of three years or over, and for whom suitable employment can be found by the commission, will' become entitled to appointment to positions in the service of the commission, with preservation of their accrued pension, superannuation, furlough and other rights. If, however, it is not found possible by the commission to re-engage all the enlployees affected, it is proposed by the Government to come to an arrangement with the companies so that the employees affected will not be placed at a disadvantage. The powers, functions and duties of the commission are detailed in clause 20 of the bill. The commission will acquire, operate and maintain all the overseas telecommunication services hitherto owned and operated in Australia by Cable and Wireless Limited and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, including in the latter case the operation of coastal and island radio stations which handle wireless traffic with ships at sea and similar traffic exchanged within and between territories of the Commonwealth. It is proposed that the national corporations which will be setup right throughout the Empire will undertake research and developmental work with the object of improving the efficiency of the overseas telecommunication services. This work will be co-ordinated by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Board in London, and that board will also undertake research work on behalf of all the partner governments. It is contemplated that the commission shall, if so desired by another national body established by any of the other partner governments, undertake to act as agent on agreed terms in maintaining and operating overseas telecommunication services in regional areas adjacent to Australia. Power is conferred upon the Minister in clause 24 of the bill to approve of any contracts where supply, either directly or indirectly, of imported equipment or material of a value exceeding £5,000 is involved. This provision will ensure that due consideration is given by the commission to the use of equipment manufactured in Australia before steps are taken to import material of any appreciable value from abroad. The powers to be conferred on the commission do not detract in any way from those entrusted to the Minister administering the Wireless Telegraphy and the Post and Telegraph Acts. Provision to this effect is made in clause 28 of the bill. In clause 60 it is provided that the commission shall obtain all necessary licences, permissions and approvals required for it3 purpose from the Minister responsible for administering the Wireless Telegraphy Act. This ensures to the Minister the exercise of his discretion as to the terms and conditions under which licences will be issued to the commission to conduct radio services, and vests in him the final authority for the co-ordination and control of wireless communication activities in Australia. The conditions under which advances will be made to the commission shall be determined by the Treasurer. Similarly, the- form in which the Commission will keep its accounts- will be subject to the approval of the Treasurer and to inspection and audit by the Auditor-General. Annual reports and financial statements of the commission, accompanied by a certificate of the Auditor-General, will be submitted to the .Parliament as a normal course. As a government instrumentality conducting overseas communication services similar to those provided within Australia by the Postmaster-General's Department, the commission will, under clause 36 of the bill, be relieved from the payment of certain rates, taxes and charges. The commission will maintain a close liaison with the PostmasterGeneral's Department in the operation of its overseas telecommunication services, and the department will provide certain land-line and other facilities previously made available to Cable and Wireless Limited and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, respectively, to meet the requirements of the commission. The commission will arrange free handling of meteorological telegrams exchanged with ships at sea and, when required, of similar messages exchanged between Commonwealth meteorological offices and stations. The commission will also handle free on behalf of the Postmaster-General's Department other telegrams for transmission within the Commonwealth in cases of interruption to land-lines,- in return for which the PostmasterGeneral's Department will arrange free transmission of messages relating to the commission's administrative affairs. The duties and functions of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Board, which, will replace the Commonwealth Communications Council, are set out in detail in the second schedule to the overall agreement which becomes a part of the. bill. The costs of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Board are to be met hi agreed proportions from the net revenues of the several national bodies throughout the Empire. In 'the third schedule to the overall agreement a form of tripartite agreement is drawn up for execution in due course by each partner government concerned, the Commonwealth Telecommunications Board and the local national telecommunications body. This tripartite agreement defines the relationship which will exist between the several parties thereto and, in particular, to mutual responsibilities of the local national body and the Commonwealth Telecommunications Board. It also provides for the establishment of a central fund into which the national bodies will pay annually their net revenues. The board will open for each national body an account to which the net revenue paid over will be credited. Net revenue for this purpose is to be arrived at after deduction of denned outpayments and working expenses, and will exclude revenues derived from certain specified services, such as ship-to-shore radio traffic and civil aviation and meteorological services. A debit will subsequently be raised by the board against this credit in respect of, first, the expenses of the board, and, secondly, in the case of the dominion and Indian corporations, their contributions on a defined basis towards a ny deficiency . in the net revenues of the United Kingdom corporation resulting from the expense incurred in the maintenance of the submarine cable system. The combined contributions to be made by the dominions and India in this respect are not, however, to exceed in total in any year the annual cost of cable maintenance and provision for cable renewals. The basis of contributions towards cable maintenance is referred to in the third schedule to the overall agreement and is considered reasonable and equitable from the viewpoint of Australia, bearing in mind the revenues which will be derived in Australia from cable traffic, and the extent to which the cables will be used for the disposal of telegraphic traffic. After deduction of the foregoing costs from the contributions of the nation corporations to the central .fund, the balance remaining to the credit of each national body will be refunded to it. For the information of honorable members, I should explain that at present the divisions of receipts from interEmpire telegraph traffic, both in respect of outgoing and incoming telegrams, is effected according to the services rendered by each party sharing in the handling of the messages. Under the procedure proposed in the third schedule to the overall agreement, however, each national- body will retain the full amount of the collections on traffic originating in its own territories but will receive no proportion of the collections on messages incoming from other Empire countries. Settlement will, however, still require to be made by each national body with foreign administrations and companies in connexion with outpayments on telegrams exchanged with places beyond the Empire. The proposed new method of adjusting traffic receipts will greatly simplify the accounting arrangements which have previously applied. The main object to be served from the adoption of the recommendations of the Commonwealth Telecommunications conference, as provided in the bill and in the legislation which all other Empire countries have agreed to pass, is a unification of government policy and financial interests which will enable the telecommunication systems of the British Commonwealth to be developed as a whole using both cable and wireless to the best advantage and without the artificial routeing of traffic to which a divergence of cable and wireless interests naturally tends.- To Australia this Empire-wide scheme brings an added advantage. Although the efficiency and enterprise of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited in operating and developing overseas radiotelegraph services are beyond question, there are in the agreements negotiated between the Commonwealth Government and the company in 1922, 1924 and 1927, certain disadvantages from the Government's point of view which have affected the relationship between the Commonwealth and the company, and have at times led to the embarrassment of the Government in its relations with foreign governments. The fault perhaps lies not so much with the company as with the governments who negotiated the agreements and conferred more power and authority upon the company than is consistent with, proper government control where external relations with other countries are bound to be affected. Apart from differences arising from interpretation of different clauses in these agreements, there has been over the years an aversion on the part of the company from any form of government direction on policy. It was this, factor in particular that led successive Commonwealth governments since 1930 to reach the conclusion that the telecommunication services conducted by Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited should be brought wholly under government control. Apart from that, communication services whether internal or external are essential public utilities. The internal communication services are owned by the nation in the national and public interest, and it is illogical to have the external services operated by companies whose first duty is to their shareholders.' There are very obvious reasons why the profit motive should be dissociated entirely from the conduct of these external telecommunication services. If excess revenues are derived from their operation they should be applied in reduction in charges to the public or in improving the services, rather than for the benefit of private shareholders. Of the subscribed capital in Amalgamated "Wireless (Australasia) Limited, amounting to £985,518, the Government owns 500,001 fully paid shares and private interests 485,517 shares. 'Under the agreements to which I have referred the measure of control exercisable by the Government is incommensurate with its majority shareholding. The agreements are so greatly in favour of the company that, apart from approval or veto of tariffs and the granting or withholding of licences for new services and - even this later right by the Government has been denied by the company - the Government has virtually little or no. control at all over the policy of the company! Government representation on the Board of Directors is limited to three out of a total of seven directors constituting the board. Effective co-ordination and control of the overseas telecommunication services in Australia in the national interest is impracticable of realization so long as two separate companies own and operate the two respective means of overseas communication, cable and radio. The transfer of the services of both companies to > the Government will enable their complete co-ordination under a single operating authority, and will ultimately enable cheaper rates to be offered to the users of the services through the avoidance of existing duplication of effort and of overhead costs resulting from the conduct of the respective services by two separate undertakings. The acquisition by the Government of the telecommunication .assets of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited will involve a reconstituton of the company in order to enable it to continue as a manufacturing, commercial broadcasting and patent-holding sales and servicing organization. The Government proposes to retain its proportionate shareholding in the reconstituted company, if the private shareholders of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited so desire. Provision for this would not, however, be appropriate in this bill, and suitable steps towards this end will be taken later, if necessary. Before I conclude I should mention one other conference that has been held and which has an important bearing upon the success of the scheme which this bil! will implement. In November and December 1945, an agreement was reached at Bermuda between representatives of the Governments of the British Commonwealth and the United States of America on many outstanding problems affecting telecommunication services, particularly in respect of rates and direct radio- telegraph services. Honorable members will be pleased to know that full agreement was reached on all points. The Bermuda, agreement provides for substantial reductions in telegraph rates between certain countries of the Commonwealth and the .United States of America, and contemplates the eventual introduction of a world ceiling telegraph rate of ls. 6d. sterling per word, subject to the agreement of foreign administrations. The agreement includes a statement of the principles to be adopted in determining whether a direct wireless telegraph circuit should be established between two countries, the intention being that this statement should be presented for consideration at the next International Telegraph Conference. Broadly, the proposal is that such circuits should be opened as may be justified by traffic or service needs, and the adoption of the principles suggested at the Bermuda conference would enable the problems concerning the retention ,of direct 'radio-telegraph services established during the war to be largely met. The countries represented at the Bermuda conference recognized the important strategic role which cables play *Overseas* [20 June, 1946.] *Telecommunications Bill* 1946. 1665 in a co-ordinated telecommunications system, and agreed that to secure the optimum development of telecominunication services, research and development work in both cable and radio communication is essential. The Commonwealth Government believes that the agreement reached at Bermuda marks a notable event in the relationships of the United States of America and British . Commonwealth countries, and paves the way to a lasting understanding in the telecommunications field. The differential that has been maintained between the rates on Empire telegrams and the rates on telegrams between Empire countries and the United States of America., was too high and has led to many misunderstandings and some bitterness. This problem has now been resolved, and the solution has conferred an immediate benefit upon the peoples of the British Commonwealth and of the United States of America. I have endeavoured to give honorable members not only a broad outline of the bill, but a summary in brief of the history of a quarter of a. century in Empire telecommunications, and an outline of the events which have impelled all governments of the Empire to agree to introduce legislation for the purpose of transferring those services to national ownership. The measure before the House is not a party measure; but one that is brought forward as part of an Empire-wide scheme to which all governments of the Empire have subscribed and which they are committed to introduce. It is in this spirit that I commend the bill to all honorable members. Debate (on motion by **Mr. Harrison)** adjourned. {: .page-start } page 1665 {:#debate-28} ### WHEAT INDUSTRY STABILIZATION BILL 1946 Motion (by **Mr. Scully)** agreed to - >That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to the stabilization of the wheat industry. Bill presented, and read a first time. {:#subdebate-28-0} #### Second Reading {: #subdebate-28-0-s0 .speaker-KQB} ##### Mr SCULLY:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Gwydir · ALP -- *by leave* - I move - >That the bill be now read a second time. Wheat has been atroubled industry for. many years.For a decade before the war,, it was frequently in a depressed condition and constant assistance from governments was required. Prices were low and growers could not obtain a reasonable living from their labour. Other wheats producing countries were in a similar plight, and wheat presented the world's greatest agricultural problem-. The need for stabilization in Australia was recognized by the governments, but it is beyond the power of any Commonwealth government to stabilize the industry alone. Joint action by all Australian governments is necessary, because both States and Commonwealth are vitally affected by matters concerning the wheat industry. Although the problem is an old one, up to date it has not been possible to get agreement on a plan, and the method of operating it. The bill which I now present to the House is intended to give security to the wheat industry in Australia. It provides growers with a guaranteed minimum price for wheat for five years, and has. the machinery to maintain minimum price guarantees as a permanent feature. The effect, will be to remove the feature which disturbed the industry most in the past; that is, the impact of unduly low prices. It will be replaced by a system under which wheat farmers will know, for a period of years in.advance, that they will receive a definite price for their wheat. They can plan their farm programme with an assured return, and with the knowledge thatthey will not be ruined by market changes which cannot be foreseen or controlled. The stabilization proposals represent the considered judg- ment of governments and growers, first, as to the measures needed for the industry, and, second, as to the best way to effect them. Co-operation with the States is an essential part; of the plan. The States' control production, and production must be regulated according to the markets available for our wheat. In marketing, Commonwealth and States must use their constitutional powers in harmony if the plan is to be effective; neither can provide effective marketing unaided. In the plan now proposed, the States have shown their willingness to co-operate with the Commonwealth. It has been discussed in detail with State governments, and they have agreed to bring complementary legislation before their State parliaments to bring it into force. The Government has consulted, wheatgrowers' " organizations'. The plan was discussed with the "Wheat 'Growers Federation in December last, and growers' views on its details were then expounded fully. The various points stressed by representatives at thi? meeting received consideration and it has been possible to meet them in full. The bill therefore represents the greatest practicable measure of co-operation between governments and growers to settle the problem of the wheat industry. The plan provides a minimum guaranteed price for wheat for the period 1945-46 to 1949-50, five seasons. It also provides for review during the currency of the scheme, with a view to its extension beyond the five years. Growers will contribute to a stabilization fund, when prices are high, and the. contribution will be not more than 50 per cent, of the excess of the export price above the guaranteed minimum price. The Commonwealth will meet out of general revenue any deficiency in any one year should the stabilization fund become exhausted. A central marketing organization will be responsible for the marketing of the Australian wheat crop, and production will be regulated in accordance with the markets available. The guaranteed price for the five seasons, 1945-46 to 1949-50, is 5s. 2d. a bushel f.o.r. ports for f.a.q. bagged wheat. This minimum will apply to the whole of the marketed crops. At present, a home-consumption price applies to wheat used locally for flour. This will be. extended to cover other wheat used locally. There is, in addition, the very important point of the guarantee for our export wheat. Control over local wheat prices is always possible, but the grower will now .get protection against the slumps which have been a regular feature' of world markets, and the Commonwealth will take a financial risk to give that protection. It is intended that the guaranteed price will apply for five seasons, but, as I have already mentioned, before the period is up, the plait will be reviewed, and a fresh guarantee given for a further period. The intention is to have regular reviews, and to maintain always a guaranteed price for some seasons ahead. The first period has been fixed as a reasonable period of security and a reasonable period for a fixed commitment. The guaranteed price is the minimum return, and growers will get more when export prices are high. They are given a definite floor price. A contribution from growers is provided for. It is considered that, in principle, a government guarantee, which is really a guarantee from the general taxpayer, should be accompanied by contributions from growers when prices are high. This principle is accepted by growers and a 50-50 contribution. is generally conceded to be fair. When prices are high, growers will contribute up to 50 per cent, of the excess above the guaranteed price of export wheat. The money so subscribed will go into a stabilization fund, and will be u?ed to meet the guarantee when prices fall. The fund will be a trust fund, and it should be noted that the growers' contribution is a maximum of 50 per cent. There is no intention of building up an excessively large fund, and, if prices remain higher than is now expected, the contribution will be reduced below 50 per cent. The effect is that growers will make a reasonable contribution, but not an excessive one, and the Commonwealth will meet the guarantee if a run of low prices exhausts the fund. This means that growers will share in the extra amounts from highprice years, and they are assured in advance against a price below 5s. 2d. It is not proposed, nor intended, that returns shall be permanently out of line with the export price, nor that the industry will be continually subsidized. Twothirds of our wheat goes on to the export, market, and we must compete with other countries for our markets. The plan gives time for adjustments to meet changing world conditions, and it protects growers against a. rapid fall on the export, market. It cannot relieve them of the need to meet world competition in the export trade. It is hoped, however, that a!n effective international agreement will protect export markets in future. For the next five years, however, come what may in the export field, growers are guaranteed against the effect of "a. world slump. They will not receive in any one of the five years less than 5s. 2d. The difficulties of making a guarantee effective can hardly be overcome without a central organization for marketing. Consequently, a wheat board will he set up to handle and sell the crops. Here we have the benefits of our war-time experience, and of an efficient organization which has met all war-time difficulties. It is established, its working is familiar, and wheat-growers want to keep it. The marketing board will succeed the wartime "Wheat Board and carry on its work. In its new set-up it will operate under joint powers conferred by Commonwealth and States, and it will be realized that the statutory power to operate will relate almost entirely to wheat covered by the State acts. The operation of the new board was one important part of the discussion with the States as they particularly affect our State partners in this plan. Regulation of production is a part of the plan in which action would be impossible without full State co-operation. The long history of wheat gluts and wheat shortages has shown how easy it is to go from one extreme to the other. Wheat gluts build up fast, and the low prices which result have had a disastrous effect in past years on wheat farmers here arid overseas. Over-production is one thing which must be avoided in the future. We wish to produce all the wheat we reasonably can, and to sell it at a price fair to growers and consumers. We want also to avoid temporary high-price expansion in the industry which would leave it overcapitalized and unable to carry on when prices recede. Deliberate regulation according to markets available is a new departure, but it offers the best prospect for avoiding a return to the disastrous see-saw from glut to scarcity. For the industry to be healthy, prices must" be neither in the pit nor in the clouds. Superficially, it may seem odd at the present time to be thinking of regulating wheat production. Australia is now trying to produce the maximum crop from the coming harvest, and to supply everything possible to meet overseas needs. But we must also prepare for whatever may come in the future, and it is likely that, within a short time, the old familiar condition of a wheat glut may recur. If it does, our farmers will again be faced with depression, and the precautious against that must be taken now. Our normal pre-war basis of production can be maintained and it will be practicable to include in the -industry soldier settlers and farmers' sons. I have hopes also that conditions of world trade in the years to come will give an outlet for all the wheat whicli Australia can produce. If so, there will be room for expansion to the limit of our economic productive capacity. It must, however, be realized that farmers cannot go into the wheat industry one season, and out of it the next. Once in it, they are committed to heavy outlay and years of production. Boom years are a menace because of the danger of high land prices and over-capitalized farms, leading to a financial structure which is. not able to meet low or medium price years. For that reason, the production basis must be decided with the greatest care. The stabilization plan is intended to. make the wheat industry sound financially. Regulation of production - not restriction of production - has been recognized over the years as one requisite for any plan. That is recognized not only by the governments concerned, but by the growers ; and growers are willing to cooperate in regulation of the industry to secure the wide benefits of stabilization. Regulation of production ' is another feature which was brought in as a wartime measure, and now can readily be adapted to peace-time needs. It is a State function, and Commonwealth and States will co-operate to secure uniformity in administration. The experience gained by State officers during the war years, while they were co-operating to carry out Commonwealth policy, will be invaluable in the future in carrying out the joint policy. Special mention should be made of the need for co-operation between Australian governments in this- question. Commonwealth and States have their separate powers, and, by using them together, the plan can be carried into effect. Used separately, the constitutional powers of the governments .are not capable of dealing with the problem. The plan represents a high degree of co-operation' between Australian governments, and it provides for a partnership in which all of them will play .an effective part, not only in deciding the policy but also in carrying it out. The States will use their powers in State marketing and in controlling production, while the Commonwealth powers for external trade will supplement them. The common object is to deal with the industry on an Australian basis. This can be done without infringing the special interests of the different States, and the Australian Agricultural Council .provides a ready means of discussing the different problems which must arise from time to time. I have mentioned that the detailed draft legislation had been discussed with State Ministers after the principles had been submitted to the Premiers conference. . There are two Commonwealth bills, and complementary legislation will be necessary in each Sta te. It is considered the State legislation can be covered by one act, and one object of the discussions was to secure uniformity among the States. The Wheat Industry Stabilization Bill provides the mechanism for carrying out the plan I have outlined, and for co-operating with the States in all necessary matters. The Wheat Export Charges Bill completes the work by providing for the charge which forms the growers5 contribution to the bill. Difficult problems will be met in .administration. I am confident that 'they will be overcome by the partnership of Commonwealth and State;,, and, because of our war-time experience, Australia has a detailed knowledge of its wheat industry. That knowledge can be used for the benefit; of our farmers in the years to come. The plan is an attempt to deal fairly with the wheat-growers of Australia, and it breaks new ground. We are trying to put the industry soundly on its feet for the future. There are between 60,000 and 70,000 wheat-growers concerned, and their welfare depends on the demand of countries overseas for Australian wheat. We do not know what the future will bring, but we are making sure it will not bring the depressed conditions of the pre-. war years. With that provided, there need be no fear for (he future, nor for the ability of Australian growers to hold their own in the world's markets. The general principles I have outlined are. now almost beyond dispute, and no competent body of opinion opposes them seriously. However, I do know quite well that there is a cleavage of opinion in matters of detail. Differences on details have caused the failure of stabilization proposals in the past, and I hope that now, when wheat-growers are nearer than ever before to a sound stabilization plan, the parliaments of Australia will ensure that they get it. Within the plan there is room to meet the needs of the future. The growers' contribution can bc. adjusted so that it will be decreased if the trend of prices allows. The regulation which the grower accepts willingly can be lightened if the world wants more of our wheat. The plan is flexible and can be adjusted to meet fairly what the future may bring. It will meet our needs in the way which is best for our growers, and the fairness of its provisions will appeal to wheat-growers. I am hopeful for the future of the industry, and now that the fighting has finished I look forward to a world market which can absorb ali the wheat and other food we can .produce. The world needs to be fed better, and, if it is, regulation will be directed to getting maximum .production. We must take precautions to prevent the return of a depression period. Having taken them, we can then work for prosperity with the knowledge that the mistakes of the past can be avoided, and a high standard of prosperity reached. The Wheat Charges Bill, which will be introduced later, provides fpr a maximum contribution of 50 per cent., or a lower rate if prescribed, of the difference between the guaranteed price of 5s. 2d. and the average export price in any one year or such part of the export price as is prescribed. It is proposed for the current year, the 1945-46 crop, that the contribution be 50 per cent, of the difference between 5s. 2d. and 9s. 6d. bagged. The average export return is estimated to be- 10s. Growers will therefore be paid from the pool on the following basis: - 5s. 2d. a bushel for domestically consumed *Wheat Industry* [20 June, 1946.] *Stabilization Bill* 1946. 1669 wheat, and for export wheat 5s. 2d. a bushel plus 50 per cent. of the difference between 5s. 2d., the guaranteed price, and 9s. 6d. - which is 2s. 2d.; and a further 6d. on export wheat, this being the difference between 10s. and 9s. 6d. It is estimated that, for the whole of the wheat marketed local and export, the grower will receive 6s. 7d. a bushel f.o.r. at ports bagged. Summarized, the two bills provide for the following: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The preservation over five years of a price of 5s. 2d. a bushel f.o.r. at ports bagged for all wheat consumed within Australia. 1. A guarantee by the Government of a minimum price for export of 5s. 2d. a bushel f.o.r. at ports bagged. 2. When the export price exceeds the guaranteed price, growers to contribute to a fund to an amount not exceeding 50 per cent. of the difference between the export price and the guaranteed price of 5s. 2d. 3. When the export price falls below 5s. 2d., the fund will be called upon to provide the amount necessary to bring the export price up to 5s. 2d.- 4. If and when the fund is exhausted in any one year, the Government under its guarantee will provide, out of general revenue, the funds necessary to bring export prices up to 5s. 2d. 5. For the current harvest, 1945-46 crop, the Government proposes that the grower will be paid on export wheat 5s. 2d., plus 2s. 2d., plus the excess of export returns over 9s. 6d. Under this arrangement, it is calculated that, for the whole of his sales, export and local, *the* grower will receive 6s. 7d. a bushel f.o.r. at ports bagged. 6. The scheme, including the guarantee, is to operate for five years. During its currency, however, reviews will be made with a view to continuing it under conditions which may or may not he revised, beyond five years. 7. The plan is designed to provide for stabilized returns over a period of years. Funds will be held on account of growers in years of high prices and paid out in years of low prices. But the Government underwrites the scheme to the extent of guaranteeing that, whatever be the rise or fall of the market over five years, the farmer will get a return not less than 5s. 2d. a bushel f.o.r. bagged at ports. Debate (on motion by **Mr. Menzies)** adjourned. {: .page-start } page 1669 {:#debate-29} ### SUPPLY BILL (No, 1) 1946-47 {:#subdebate-29-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from the 19th June *(vide* page 1566), on motion by **Mr. Chifley** - >That the bill be now read a second time. {: #subdebate-29-0-s0 .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES:
Leader of the Opposition · Kooyong -- The bill is designed to provide the Government with the financial accommodation required for a period of two months to carry on the various services of the Government, and it therefore presents the House with an opportunity for giving some consideration to the policies that have been applied by the Government and will be applied by it as it carries on the administration. I shall not endeavour to cover a widefield, but I do want to concentrate my remarks on one particular aspect of the problem of production and marketing, as it concerns Australia. I believe, and I think most honorable members will share that belief, that the problem of production is at the very heart of the whole of Australia's problems at this moment. If we are to have real security, if we are *to* have real increased wages, if we are to have real advances in living standards, then the problem of producing more civil goods and services is both obvious and urgent, and that problem, of course, concerns a variety of civil goods, ordinary consumer good's and houses, as the Minister for Works and Housing knows. All those requirements: are short, and they are short because for years now the whole control of our economy, very properly, has been designed to damp down all civil production in order that military services and military production might be carried on. Now the war is over, and problem number one -and I repeat and emphasize it - is restoration of civil production. I believe that every problem is related to that one. The problem of taxation, the problem of government economy, and the problem of industrial peace, all centre on the focal point, the problem of producing more this year, next year and the year after than we have produced, in the civil sense, previously in our history. That problem of production is not only relevant to a consideration of providing our own current needs. When the Government says, quite truly, that by the end of the war 40 per cent, or more of the national income was being devoted to the war, that simply means that 40 per cent, of the man-effort of the country had been subtracted from civil production. That is why we are short of houses and goods of all kinds. That is why there is a real fear in the minds of those responsible for the finances of inflationary movements affecting the value of money. Accordingly, we have as our first task the restoration, as quickly as possible, of the normal level of annual production. But we have to go beyond that, as the Minister at the table knows. The problem of housing, for example, is not at this moment the problem of erecting a normal year's supply of houses; it is the problem of overtaking the arrears of the war. That is why, instead of a task of say, erecting 40,000 houses a year for the next ten years, the task is one of producing 70,000 houses a year for the next ten years. Certainly, the figures are of that order. So we must build up our normal production, and overtake the accumulated arrears of war. There is a third aspect upon which I desire particularly to centre my own remarks. We must produce more and more in Australia so that, we can seize, in the next two or three vital years, golden opportunities for markets in other countries, and particularly markets in Eastern countries, which are to us northern countries. It is nothing tq the point to talk about the stability of the primary industries unless that is associated wilh an earnest search for those markets in the world which will give natural stability to our industries. It is nothing to the point to talk "about the wonderful industrial potential that we developed in Australia during the war, as indeed we did, and our need to use it in future, unless we associate with it a realization that for the first time in its history, Australian manufacturing must go out, for markets in other countries. We must not any longer be satisfied merely to manufacture for ourselves. As the Prime Minister knows, before the war, the exports of Australia were out of balance in that sense. We exported approximately £100,000,000 worth of primary produce and £5,000,000, or at the most £6,000,000 worth of manufactured goods, and all that has had a great lesson for us in Australia. It was that very want of balance that aggravated the early effects of the economic depression in Australia. because our overseas credit depended almost entirely upon our primary industries, and the world's markets for primary produce suddenly slumping, we found a violent contraction of our overseas income with all the resultant tremble that went through the whole of the internal credit structure of Australia. So markets, not only for the products of the soil, but also for the products of our factories, are vital and urgent for us. " We have an opportunity this year and next year that may never come again. For example, in the Malayan Peninsula, we have an opportunity to secure a very fine market for our goods. Because of certain circumstances of a monetary kind elsewhere in the world with which the Treasurer **(Mr. Chifley)** is familiar, we have a chance now of going into those places. . But we must not go into them merely with what we might call a few " disposal goods ", and -just for a " catch " market of a kind which cannot be stabilized. We must be prepared to go into those markets with goods of a quality and in quantity that we can maintain, so that year after year, those markets will become stable outlets for us, and will, in turn, provide a foundation for more and more employment in Australia and higher and higher standards .of living here. Quite recently I was talking to an extraordinarily well-informed man from Malaya, who emphasized to me that there is a great opportunity, which had not existed previously in his time, for Australia to find a market in Malaya. He has known that country for many years. There 'is, or there was, a magnificent opportunity for an Australian market in the Netherlands East Indies. We have in all those countries - what may be called broadly the South-West Pacific - a golden Opportunity at our very front door to secure markets for our goods, with all the effect that that would have upon employment, production and life generally. "What have we done about it? I shall not repeat the arguments . that I made as long ago as the 6th March last, about the Netherlands East Indies. This afternoon, the Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley)** treated us to what I respectfully describe as a homily on the matter. Incidentally, he will be most astonished to realize that some people apparently interpreted his statement about the publication of letters between the Dutch Minister and the Australian Government as a suggestion that I was responsible. I know that nothing was further from the Prime Minister's mind than that. I merely mention the matter to dispose of it." Reference has been made to a statement by the Dutch Minister for the Netherlands, and I shall come back to it in a. moment; but before I do so, let me say by way of rehearsal that the Netherlands whs our ally during the war." The naval forces of the Netherlands played a very honorable part in that war; they suffered losses which, in proportion to their total, were greater than any that we were called upon to sustain. In spite of that fact, it is still true and unchallenged that for weeks and weeks, a des'.royer of the Dutch Navy has been going from port to port in Australia trying to secure repairs and is unable to get them, although the general body of trades unionists would not treat the Dutch in that way. I believe that the general body of trade unionists in Australia would be perfectly willing to help the Dutch, and carry out this work, but in each port a few people under Communist instruction have refused to cooperate. That has meant .that this damaged ship of war, belonging to an ally, is still out of repair, and the onlycomfort that the Prime Minister can give to the Royal Dutch authorities is that, after all, it does not matter about it being out of repair because it has no fighting to do at the present time. The case of the *piet Hein* is a bacl one. It is - I use the word deliberately - a shameful one. It comes on top of an occurrence which is not yet closed, namely, the hold-up of Dutch ships in Australian ports ever since September, 1945. Those ships are loaded with cargoes which the Prime Minister, three and a half months ago in this House, agreed were cargoes which should have been loaded and despatched.. The right honorable gentleman said - >I repeat that there was no justification for the refusal to load ships with foodstuffs and hospital supplies when it was certain that nothing was being loaded thai could be used for military purposes. Those were his words. That was his judgment as the head of the Government in this- country. The trade unions of Australia also have had something to say about this mater because ' on the J. 3th March, a week after this subject was last debated in this House, a statement was made on behalf of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions - a body of high authority and great responsibility in trade union circles. Its secretary, **Mr. Monk,** in the course of this statement, said that executive officers of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions dissociated themselves entirely from the tactics adopted by the Waterside Workers Federation regarding the loading of ships for Indonesia. There had been more chicanery in this dispute, he said, than he had experienced in any other dispute. So we have the Government of the country, and the trade unions movement, speaking through its official body, against these people on the matter of loading these Dutch ships. But while that is true and while the opinion of this Parliament has never been ambiguous on this subject, it still remains that four people in Australia, having decided that the Dutch were wrong and that the Indonesians - the natives - were right, have taken charge of the policy of the country. The four persons to whom I refer are **Mr. Thornton,** of the Ironworkers Union ; **Mr. Wells,** of the Miners Federation; **Mr. Healy,** of the Waterside Workers Federation; and **Mr. Elliott,** of the Seamens Union. A fifth whom I might include for good measure, is **Mr. Roach,** of the Waterside Workers Federation who is rapidly becoming famous. Each of these men is a Communist. They meet from time to time in the Communist head-quarters in Sydney and decide when, where and how stoppages shall occur, determining not only the policy of the Communist party, but in practice the policy of Australia. That is the whole point. Thi3 is not a matter, and I beg of the Prime Minister to understand this, of us here sitting in judgment on an argument between the head of the Dutch Administration in Java and **Mr. Prime** Minister Sjahrir. We are not qualified to determine that argument, but we do know that Australia is a country in which there is democratic self-government, and the relations between Australia and other nations ought to be controlled by the Government and by nobody else. While all this has been going on, if " going on " is the right expression because there has been a complete hold-up in relation to the matters that I have been discussing, the Government of Australia has had a .few conferences. It has made a few requests. It has issued no orders. It has taken no action. While that is the position, we know perfectly well that in the Netherlands East Indies thousands and thousands of Dutch nationals are still in captivity and have yet to be released. We know perfectly well, also, that at the same time, a few representatives of Australia going about their lawful occasions in Java, have been murdered. In face of all that, the Prime Minister took exception to a statement made by the Minister for the Netherlands. I remind the House of what the Minister for the .Netherlands said - >Dutchmen will fail' to understand this treatment- He was referring "to the *Piet Hein-* . . which they will feel inclined to consider an insult to the comradeship in arms and detrimental to the future relations between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Commonwealth of Australia. Dutchmen all .over the world will be bewildered by the condemnable ban on Dutch merchant ships and "relief (roods, which has resulted in the refusal to render any assistance to the Dutch steamer *Tasman* and the hold-up of a Dutch man-of-war. The *Piet 'Hein* has vainly attempted in port after port in Australia to have essential repairs executed, because unions would not allow work to be done on the ship. A statement by a union official has explicitly confirmee! this state of affairs. The *Piet Rein* is a naval vessel belonging to the Royal Netherlands Navy, which has fought side by side with Australian .naval .units in the struggle for freedom and justice. What is wrong with that statement? It seems to me .to be most restrained. I venture to say that no representative of Australia in the Netherlands East Indies, if his people were being subjected to the same treatment by the power to which he was accredited, would have said less. I venture to think that most Australian would have said a great deal more. Is it to be expected that a diplomatic representative i3 to be utterly silent under circumstances in which the government of the country to which he is accredited has permitted a handful of disruptionists to take charge of foreign policy and to say what shall and what shall not happen between us and the Dutch people? The story does not end there. I want to associate with it my remarks about our possible markets in Malaya and our future relations with the countries around the Malayan peninsula. One of the ships tied up in Brisbane is the *BontiKoe.* It was connected throughout" the war with merchant shipping operations in the South- West Pacific Area, and was engaged in the transportation of our requirements during the war. It is a Dutch-owned vessel manned by Dutch officers with, I believe, an Indian crew. It is tied up because of the decision of a handful of Communists, and is unavailable for the carrying out of its normal functions of shipping goods to and from the Dutch East Indies. Consequently, the Overseas Shipowners Rerpresentatives Association in Australia asked, "'Oan -we take over this ship and use it in trade between Australia and Singapore? Here is a useful purpose to which we can put the vessel. Our masters, the Communist party, are preventing us from using it for Dutch trade; let us use it for British trade ". The answer was " No. As it is a Dutch ship it is not going to be used. The Dutch owners might be paid something for the use of the ship, and 'the amoun't paid might be used in some way to finance operations against our Indonesian brethren. ."So the answer is, No ". That is surely a pre.posterous state of affairs. We, as a nation, are desperately striving to regain our export markets, -to rehabilitate ourselves, to seize our chance of peaceful contact with other nations, and to build up our own standards of living. But the same handful of people say to us, " You are not to load or use the *Bontikoe* :because it is a Dutch ship ". The shipping people went still further in seeking the use of the ship. They got the Dutch controllers of shipping to say that the Dutch line which controlled it would be prepared to take off its British Indian crew and put in their place a purely Australian crew signed under Australian articles. But our Communist masters again said, " No ; the ship is not to be used ". I do not know whether the Government has the situation clearly in mind, but, according to my information, which I have every reason to believe is correct, before the war 40 per cent, of the cargoes out of Australia for Singapore,, and approximately 20 per cent, of .those out of Australia for Hong Kong, were carried on Dutch bottoms and a further 20 per cent, were carried on Japanese bottoms. We have lost, for obvious reasons, the use of Japanese ships. British ships, as everybody knows, are being .used to the last ounce, urgently at this moment, and Dutch ships, if they could have been made available, would have made all the difference to our ability to seize the opportunity of supplying goods and of getting the business that we need. But our handful of Communist masters said that that must not be so. What is the answer of the Government to all this? The only answer that has been made in this House was made by the Prime Minister when he told us, as plainly b3 maybe, the last time he spoke on the subject, that he was not going to take measures against these people which might produce- a large-scale disturbance on the water-front in Australia. If I were a Communist leader in Australia - one- of the big four or the big five - I should take that as a great tribute to my strength. It would give me nothing but reason for encouragement. If I believed that I could go on doing my dirty work - because it is dirty work that these people are doing - as long as I liked and that no government would challenge me for fear that other people might be brought into the dispute and that a dispute would broaden, I would say, "Here is the ultimate triumph of Communist technique ! " Of course this is their technique. So longas the Government runs away from these people who have "made strikes their business ", to use the word of .one of their own number, they will continue to cause strikes. They know that the Government will abdicate its responsibility, and they can therefore proceed with their plans and attain their objectives. These are the facts. The Government of Australia says, in effect, to the Dutch Government, " We want to be friendly with you, but we can do nothing to make our friendship effective ". The trade union movement of Australia, through its orthodox body, says, " We have no 'time for this hold-up; we are opposed to it. But although we are opposed to it we can do nothing about it". Here is a matter .of foreign policy that concerns Australia. What happens in this corner of the world i-: much more urgent to Australia than the domestic politics of Spain. Yet for months as it seems now, because- it is hard ti»- keep tab on these things,, the man who alone seems to be responsible for Australian foreign policy has been in some remote corner putting his nose into the domestic problems of some other country. All this time, when Franco is being, discussed and when some one is arguing with some one else whether something should be done about this potty dictator in Spain, we a-re in a state of affairs where our relations with an Allied country close to us and infinitely more important to us socially, industrially -and strategically, are going down stream without one effort being made by the Government, or by those responsible for foreign policy in this country, to do anything. The foreign policy of Australia cannot consist merely of sheets of paper, fine words and protestations of friendship. The real test of our friendship with foreign nations is what happens in fact between them and us. There is nothing happening between Australia and the Dutch to-day which would not be happening if we were not almost on the point of declaring war against them. If we were bitterly hostile to them and were conducting such a quarrel with them as might excite the attention of the Security Council, we could do nothing other than what we are doing at this moment. Here is something which violates the first rule of sound Australian foreign policy and cuts right across what we should be doing in Australia. We should be producing, producing, producing, for export, and for the development of peaceful trade with our neighbours in this part of the world. I believe that what I have said is a formidable indictment of this Government, and it can be answered only by resolute action. {: #subdebate-29-0-s1 .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD:
Bass .- Anyone who had listened to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Menzies)** might assume that during the time the right honorable 'gentleman was associated with governments in this country over a period of years, those governments had done everything that could be done to create the very best of relations between Australia and its near-neighbours and to increase to the greatest possible degree the volume of our export trade to them. The fact is that during those years very little, if anything at' all, was done along those lines. Whilst the right honorable gentleman sees fit to criticize the foreign policy of this Government, the fact remains that the governments with which he was associated had no foreign policy at all. For that reason no criticism could be . levelled against governmental foreign policy in those years. It ill-becomes the right honorable gentleman, therefore, to criticize so roundly the. foreign policy of this Government. It is true that the more a government does the more it lays itself open to criticism. Only those who do nothing can escape criticism for their actions. I do not propose to address myself to the Indonesian problem. . As the Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley)** said earlier today, that problem is complex and it cannot be solved by writing, or by talking about it in this chamber. It can be solved by close range action and not by shooting or sniping, or accusing this Government of being controlled by Communists. That procedure will never solve anything. The difficulties associated with the Indonesian question are deep seated. That fact has been made clear by statements made outside this chamber. I do not propose to say any more on that subject. I was interested in what the Leader of the Opposition said about our export trade. He rightly gave the Govern ment credit for what it had done during the war years. Our tremendous expenditure during the war years, which amounted to 40 per cent, of our national income, compares favorably, as the right honorable gentleman said, with the effort of any other country that was engaged in that dreadful conflict. So. long as consumable goods are in short supply we shall- have problems in our internal economy. I am glad that the Leader of the Opposition was frank enough to make that admission. He referred also to the housing problem, but it" cannot be disposed of as easily or as glibly as he attempted to do. That problem did not arise in the war years or since the cessation of hostilities; it existed before the war. It exists, in fact, because the housing situation was never adequately dealt with by previous governments. True, the matter was discussed during the regime of the Lyons Government. The late **Mr. Lyons** stated that £20,000,000 would be made available for the building of homes in this country. On many occasions in this House, the charge has been levelled that homes which were to have been built by the Commonwealth in co-operation with the States were not proceeded with after elections had been held, although the government of the day had a majority in both branches of the legislature. During the depression years, the housing shortage was accentuated. "In those days, the excuse was that there was no money to build houses. During the six years of war, labour and the necessary materials could not be provided. Prior to the war ending there have been negotiations with the States, with whom an agreement has been made. This agreement was followed by the passage of legislation by this Parliament, and it is now in operation. Statistics compiled by the Commonwealth Statistician reveal that in the period from July to December, 1944, 14,000 houses were either under construction or completed, the number completed being 6,000. At the 31st March, 1946, 9,000 houses had been completed and 10,500 were under construction. Since the end of the war, the achievements in connexion with hon* building have been tremendous. Fifty per cent, of the dwellings built under the Commonwealth-State housing agreement are to be made available to ex-servicemen. Of the houses so far completed, exservicemen Iia ve secured 60 per cent. In the two years during which the agreement has operated 12,000 dwellings have been under construction, representing an expenditure of more than £14,000,000, and up to the present 5,000 have been completed, representing an expenditure of more than £6,000,000. On the basis of an allotment of 60 per cent., the expenditure on behalf of ex-servicemen is more than £8,000,000 in respect of houses under, construction, and £4,000,000 in respect of houses that have been completed. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- How many war service homes have been built? Only eight. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- This' is quite separate from war service homes, about which the honorable member for Balaclava has talked a good deal in recent years. It is perfectly true that only a few houses have been built in recent years by the War Service Homes Commission. The number will be less in the future because the agreement between the States and the Commonwealth provides that one authority shall build homes for both the civilian population and ex-servicemen. The Government is concerned with the housing of not only ex-servicemen, important though that is, but also the people as a whole. In that respect, it has a national outlook and a progressive policy. It has said to the States : " We give to you the authority to build houses for the people of this country, because you have the necessary machinery. The Commonwealth will provide the money ". Under the agreement, £2,000,000 is provided to meet tha difference between the economic rent and that which the tenant can afford to pay. This agreement is the first of its kind that has been made in Australia. We do not get anywhere by discussing what has been done bv the War Service Homes Commission. What matters to the many who are homeless is,' what has been done since the war ended, and what can be done in the future, not only by government instrumentalities but also by private enterprise. As goods and manpower become available in increasing quantities, the number of homes being built will rise. As I have said, the Commonwealth is a partner of the States in this scheme. Any loss is shared in the proportion of three-fifths by the Com monwealth and two-fifths by the States. What has been achieved cannot be discounted. I agree that one cannot expect a man with a wife and family who is waiting for a house, to be satisfied with a recital of what has been done; he will not be satisfied until he has a home. But homes cannot be built more rapidly without a mass production system. Not at any time previously has the need of those who are in the low income groups been adequately catered for. They are now being provided for under the CommonwealthStates agreement. This is undeniable. High costs would have pushed their needs further into the background. Under the rent rebate system, not more than one-fifth of the family income of a man at the basic wage level is payable in rent. This ensures a home of a good standard for those who are not in a position to meet the full economic rent. However long the present Government may .remain in office, posterity will be appreciative of what it has done in the establishment of the "existing scheme, which must be continued. I have claimed previously in this House to have learned something of the housing problem, because it was my privilege to study it during the years 1941 to 1943, and to assess the inheritance of the Government clue to past neglect. I have referred on other occasions to exports from Australia to not only the Netherlands East Indies but also India and China. The Government is facing up to the problem in this connexion. There is a ready market for our goods in both India and China, but plans for their export must be carefully worked out, and there has to be an agreement with the governments concerned. When the goods have been produced in sufficient quantity to leave a surplus for export, shipping must be provided for their transport. This cannot be done in a week or two weeks. Australian representatives will have to explore the prospective markets, and negotiate with those with whom we wish to trade. Samples of pur products will have to precede their export. I have previously mentioned blankets. I have been assured by the manufacturers that, notwithstanding the unfavorable balance of trade, there is a lucrative market for blankets in India. There is ample scope For the production of the raw material and the m'anufacture of the finished article, as well as a ready market if there be proper planning of exports. For some time, I have been- in communication with the Postmaster-General in respect of telephonic communication between the mainland and Tasmania. That State, on two or three occasions within recent years, has had the unfor-tun a te experience of an interruption of the land-line between Stanley, the point at which the cable connects with the coast, and the northern portion of the State. On the most recent occasion, when the delay fortunately lasted for only four or five hours, and in the middle of the night, the cause was the breaking of the line in a remote part of the northwest coast, due to a motor car having collided with a telegraph pole. While the cable has been operating, it has served the State very well. The revenue derived from it has been much greater than was estimated when if was laid. In the first year or two years the earnings were many times greater than the estimate. During, recent years, telephonic communication has been improved. I have pointed out to the Postmaster-General that there ought to be some approach to an alternative connexion with the northern portion of the State, so that, in the event of *a* break-down in the cable, Tasmania would not be isolated from the telephonic network of Australia. I suggested that a radio telephone link should be established between the mainland and a point near Launceston, which is the geographical centre of the State. If that were clone the service would not be endangered by a breakdown of the land line extending for 120 miles between Stanley and Launceston. It has been proved that radio telephone services can be operated successfully over fairly long distances. For instance, the service between Tasmania and Flinders Island, established in 1944, has proved very successful. It is not perfect, but it has provided a link between Flinders Island, 80 miles from Tasmania, and the rest of Australia. I have already suggested to the Postmaster-General that the service could be improved by substituting d'iesel engines for windmills to generate current. As the service is being operated successfully between Flinders Island, and Tasmania it should be possible to establish another link between Flinders Island and the mainland of Australia. The experimental stage of radio-telephone communication- has been passed. *Now* that the war is over the Government may bf; considering improving the service to Tasmania, and it may be that I am somewhat impatient. However, I suggest that the matter should be thoroughly investigated. I hope that the PostmasterGeneral should be able, at an early date, to make a reply to my representations. This is an appropriate time to do so, because it will enable me to notify my constituents. At interval's during the last two years I have made representations to the Treasurer with a view to having an office of the Taxation Department opened at Launceston. I was informed that it could not bo done during the war because of the shortage of man-power. I accepted that reply, as did the people of Launceston. However, during recent- months, taxpayers in Launceston have found it very difficult to obtain proper attention from the Taxation Office- situated in Hobart, which is right away from the main centre of population in the State. The fact is that SO per cent, of the population of Tasmania is in the area served by Launceston. At one time a branch office of the Taxation Department' was situated in Launceston, and attended to general business, ' but it was closed some years ago. Last yea]', as the result of representations which I made, an office was again opened, but for inquiries only, and for about two months several officers, who were most, helpful to taxpayers, were stationed there. During the last recess, I was inundated with inquiries from constituents regarding taxation matters, and it was necessary for me to expend a great deal of my time, and a considerable amount of money on telephone calls as a consequence. These matters ought to be attended to by officers of the department stationed in Launceston. The Treasurer has said that he proposes to do something about it, and I suggest that the time has now arrived when two or three officers should be stationed in Launceston- to attend to the needs of taxpayers'. The general policy in this regard was laid some time ago. For instance, in Newcastle and some other cities on the mainland, branch offices are to be opened. I recognize that once the principle has been laid down of opening offices in towns other than the capitals of the States, all towns over a. certain size will have claims which must be considered. However, the position in regard to man-power has now improved, so that something might well be done to meet the needs of taxpayers in this direction. I think I have now discussed all the grievances which I propose to air at the present time. {: .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEwen: -- The honorable member proposes to leave the others until the election campaign:? {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- I hope that I shall be able to have a .'sufficient number of grievances remedied before the election to convince my constituents that they would be unwise to elect any one who opposes me. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- -The honorable member for Indi **(Mr. McEwen)** had a close shave last election. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- I was more fortunate. The electors of Bass honoured me by returning me with the greatest majority I have ever had. {: #subdebate-29-0-s2 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava -- T refer to the present farcical position in regard to Australia's External Affairs Department, and in particular to the perambulations of the Minister **(Dr. Evatt),** who is rushing about the world to the neglect of affairs at home. A fortnight ago a Labour member of the Victorian Parliament, **Mr. McKeon,** M.L.A., said that our Minister for External Affairs was interfering in the affairs of Spain, although he had *no* mandate from Australia or anywhere elsa to do so. He added that if the Minister attended to matters nearer to Australia he would be doing more good. That was one Labour man speaking of another, and I heartily endorse what he said. We have a Resident Minister in London who should be able to attend any conference that it is necessary to attend in that part of the world, leaving our' Minister for External Affairs to attend to matters nearer home. For instance, the situation with regard to Dutch ships in Australian ports is scandalous. As the result of it .our relations with the Dutch have deteriorated. It has upset the good-neighbour feeling which was of long standing, and which survived ' right through the war. I have received many communications from ex-prisoners of war who were associated with the Dutch, and who now state that they are ashamed that such things are allowed to go on. One letter, which I received from an officer who was a prisoner in Java, contains the- following passage : - > A great many ex-prisoners of war - I would say a :large majority - who have returned from Malaya and the Far East, feel very deeply the shame and ingratitude of the Government in allowing Dutch ships to be victimized by ignorant, 'misguided workmen led by. disloyal Communists. In that paragraph he has summed up the whole situation. Another ex-prisoner pf war, Captain L. Orr, wrote an article which was published in the MelbourneHerald, 'and in it he referred to the deterioration of relations between Australia and the Netherlands Government. He begins with this sentence - > We Australians, who endured Changi prison conditions with Dutch troops, are sad about the turn- of events which seems to be driving a wedge between our two countries. The writer refers to the formation of an Australian-Dutch association to foster comradeship and good relations after the war, and he speaks of the disillusionment of its members. He says - >When the war was drawing to a close, three members of the Australian Imperial Force approached the Dutch commanding officer with the idea of forming a society to promote closer political, cultural and commercial ties between our two countries, and thus was born the Australia-Netherlands East Indies Society . . . What a disillusionment. The Government had repatriated us . promptly, the people of Australia were magnificent in their interest and good feeling, but something was wrong with our country. Let us remember that Dutch affairs are their own affairs. There is certainly a revolt against Dutch rule in the East Indies, and it has been encouraged by the action of certain persons in this country. *Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.* {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- Before dinner I had stated how farcical it is that our foreign policy should be left to one Minister who is perambulating around the world, shuttling between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and who, in the words of another Labour man, the member for Richmond in the Victorian Parliament, has no mandate from Australia or anywhere else to take up the attitude he is taking to-day. There are many problems in Australia to which the Minister might devote his attention. This treatment of the Dutch ships in Australian ports is disreputable to this country, which has been an ally of the Dutch. The Government has weakly abdicated to a handful of Communists who decide our foreign policy. The Minister should be immediately recalled from New York and told to go to Java to settle this matter. Instead of rebuking the Dutch Minister, as he did to-day, the Prime Minister **(Mr. Chiefly)** should be grateful that that gentleman has not said more about this tragic affair. What is the position regarding these ships? For seven or eight months Dutch ships have been tied up in Australia as the result of the machinations of a handful of Indonesian Communists and their sympathizers in this country who decide our foreign policy, and have done so since the time of the last Fremantle by-election. The honorable member for Fremantle **(Mr. Beazley)** will remember that during the war it was intended to bring to Australia a number of Dutch troops, that complete arrangements had been made for their reception, but that, for some reason or other, the proposal was abandoned and no explanation has since been given as to the reasons, for its abandonment; No doubt orders were given by the pressure groups which dominate the Government that they were not to come here. So, a nation that took our. troops to Milne Bay for- a land action which, above all, first decided the course of the war, and prevented the onward march of the Japanese towards Australia; a nation whose homeland the Nazis ravaged, whose women and children suffered as greatly as those of any other nation, and' whose colonies were overrun and their people subjected to the full rigors of war, is insulted by unionists who, throughout the war skulked in this country and knew nothing of its horrors. This is the treatment .meted out to a great ally, with which, through the mother country, we have been on friendly terms for centuries, and with which we have enjoyed friendly trade relations to our mutual advantage. We should not allow that good .will to be disrupted in this way. The Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Menzies)** mentioned the case of the Dutch destroyer *Piet Hein.* Had that been a Japanese vessel the treatment meted out to it could not have been more scandalous. Indeed, Japanese ships sent to Australia for the repatriation of prisoners of war have been victualled and serviced without any sign of hostility on the part of the waterside workers; but when a Dutch ship which met with an accident off the Australian coast seeks succour it is sent from Melbourne to Fremantle and back again only to be refused service at our ports. The Minister for the Navy **(Mr. Makin)** said that there was no room in our docks for it. That statement is thrown back in the Minister's teeth by the owners of docks in Melbourne who have indicated that they had the facilities to handle it. The ship was then moved to Sydney. The Prime Minister said that he did not know why. Is the honorable gentleman aware that the ship has now gone on to New Zealand in the hope that it will receive friendly treatment there? Two weeks ago the *Tasman,* a Dutch ship named after the famous navigator who explored the southern waters of Australia 100 years before Captain Cook first touched upon the Australian coast, .put in at Melbourne, but the gentlemen on the waterfront declared it black and would not load it. Finally, it was loaded by Dutch children and Dutch evacuees anxious to return to Holland or to go back to their homes in the Netherlands' East Indies. This sorry state of affairs was brought about because Australian workmen had to obey the behest of the Commissars . who ordered them not to touch the . ship. When the ship- was finally loaded our people refused to take it out of the Yarra, and it had to negotiate the passage into the open' sea . without assistance. I referred earlier to statements made by a former Australian prisoner of war, a medical officer, who *Supply Bill* [20 June, 1946.] *(No.* 1) 1946-47. 1679 had attended Dutch and Australian prisoners in Changi prison. This gentleman said that he could have found sufficient men among the sick returned prisoners in hospital in Australia to load this ship, men who would have been glad to do so in token of their appreciation of the kindness of the Dutch people. However, if certain men in Sydney, who are the enemies of this country and of the British Empire, say that a thing may not be done, it is not done, and no working man may disobey their orders. I read of another statement made by a prisoner in Changi prison, in which he spoke highly of the friendly relations that existed between the Dutch and Australians in captivity there, and expressed the hope that some day we may be able to repay their courtesy. With what bitterness and disappointment must these men observe the behaviour of this Government. The trouble in Java is a matter for the Dutch people themselves. It is not solely a: Javanese problem, because portions of the East Indies such as . Ambon and Timor, are favorable to the Dutch regime. The present political trouble in Java has been largely promoted by the Japanese, and the action of the waterside workers of Australia has encouraged and incited the worst elements among the Javanese to ruthless violence and all kinds of lawlessness. I ask the Prime Minister is it not a fact that the present so-called. Indonesian Prime Minister, M. Sjahrir, has stated that he hopes all ships might sail from Australia and bring to the Javanese people the medicines and foodstuffs that they so sorely need. Is it not also a fact that M. Sjahrir indicated that he proposed to ask the Australian waterside workers to load the ships? This matter has already gone too far and it should be adjusted promptly by the Prime Minister standing up to the trouble makers and taking such action as will ensure the swift departure of these ships. I appeal to the right honorable gentleman not to continue to leave in the hands of one Minister this most important matter of foreign affairs policy. No matter how well informed the present Minister for External Affairs may be, it would surely be better for us to have that continuity of foreign affairs policy which prevails in the United Kingdom where the present Minister for Foreign Affairs is carrying out a policy very much in line with that adopted by his predecessor, **Mr. Eden.** It is regretable that in Australia this important matter should be left to the whim of one individual who, according to the press, is now prepared to break off diplomatic relations with Spain. I trust that the Prime Minister will recall the Minister and ask him to direct his energies towards the solution of the problems that confront this country in its relations with its near neighbours in the Pacific, and to take such action as will ensure that these Dutch ships are permitted to sail without further delay. Through the reprehensible actions of irresponsible people in this connexion we have already lost trade worth some millions of pounds, and we have jeopardized the continuance of our friendly relations with a great and noble ally. I propose now to deal briefly with the manufacture of aircraft in Australia. Recently, I ascertained, by, reply to a question, that the Government is expending over £9,000,000 in the building of 61 Lincoln bombers. The Lincoln is an improved Lancaster built specially to carry the 10-ton bombs used in the latter part of the war. To-day there are hundreds of Lancasters, Halifaxes and other types of bomber aircraft in Great Britain that could be obtained by Australia for the asking. In Australia itself we have hundreds of Liberators, and any one going along the Geelong-road will see hundreds of aircraft out in the open, like so much junk, many of them of the Liberator class, which are suitable for transport and daylight bombing. Yet, to-day the Government is expending this enormous sum of money on the manufacture of one type of bomber. The Lancaster, the Halifax, in fact all of the bombers used during the war, are already obsolete. The House need not rely on my word for that fact; it is common knowledge to every one in the Royal Australian Air Force and needs no corroboration. In his forthright and challenging hook *Winged Peace,* Air Marshal W. A. Bishop, Y.C., D.S.O., M.C., D.F.C., Canadian ace of the Air Force during 1680 *Supply. Bill* [REPRE SENT ATIVE S. ] (No.1946-47. the 1914-18 war, had this to say upon the subject - >Already, the DC4's,Lancasters, Liberators, Mosquitoes and Flying Fortresses are obsolete: They were rendered obsolete by the jet planes flying over Europe, and the rockets fired into. England. Though it will take time to produce jet and rocket craft on the scale required, the tact remains that they have presented mankind with the most terrifying problem in history. Jet. propulsion, the use of gas turbines, and rockets have gone beyond the experimental stage. It is merely the application of a common engineering, principle, Newton's third law of motion that action and re-action are equal in amount but opposite in direction. The ordinary skyrocket has now developed into a weapon of tremendous power and. range. This is the opinion of a leading aeronautical engineer, the chief engineer of the Lockheed Corporation - >Though we may never want to go 100,000 miles an hour or fly 100 miles above the earth, I soberly believe that we shall some day do both if we need or desire to. And the plane in which we shall do it will be a rocket ship. Three years ago I told the Government, when it set up a plant costing nearly £1,000,000 to manufacture Rolls Royce engines that engines of the type contemplated were obsolete. My prediction was true. Now, with a flourish, the Government tells us that it is building Lincoln aircraft. One Lincoln plane has been flying in Australia in connexion with loan publicity, but it was not built in Australia; it was imported from England, dismantled, and reassembled. We are building Lincolns, but none will be produced before perhaps next year, when, according to all reliable authorities, the planes will be obsolete. You ask the alternative. Let us realize that if war comes again, and God forbid it, it will not be bombers capable of carrying 10-ton bombs that will be used, but light jet-propelled aircraft, which are already capable of more than 600 miles an hour, and. will be infinitely faster, that will fly through the stratosphere, equipped with pressure cabins and carrying atomic bombs. Australia, too; will be capable of being hit from enormous distances by rocket bombs, quite apart from aircraft attacks, which will be made only for the sake of more precision. I counsel the Govern ment to give a little mores thought to the defence of Australia. The money that it is wasting on the Lincoln bomber project conies, from taxes paid by the people, not from thin air: It should use their money for a better purpose than the addition of more junk to that possessed to-day by the disintegrated Royal Australian Alt" Force'. In passing, I must emphasize the disintegration that has taken place in that once splendid force; which is now described as an " interim force "'. It is one that does not encourage the best young men to join it. I am glad that the Minister for Works and Housing **(Mr. Lazzarini)** is here, for he has produced a prototype prefabricated metal house. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; LANG LAB from 1934; ALP from 1936 -I have not. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- But the department has. In the Government's aircraft factories, enormous numbers of skilled men are working on the production of obsolete aircraft. Their work is a. credit to them. They are so efficient that they could build aircraft of any type. But the question is, how can we best spend our money, use our men, money and material ? The Bristol Aircraft Company of Great Britain, which produced the Beaufighter and other fine aircraft during the war, has turned very largely to the construction of p re-fabricated houses in an effort to meet Great Britain's housing problem. Australia, too, stands in great need of houses. We could mass-produce prefabricated houses with the men, money and materials that are being wasted on bombers. All that is necessary on the aircraft side is that the Government should keep up to date in methods of jet propulsion by keeping a nucleus constructional staff and by sending experts to Great Britain and the United States of America to keep abreast of progress. The production of houses would be to the greater good of the greater number. Another more profitable use to which the skilled labour that is being wasted on the manufacture of obsolete aircraft could be put is in the manufacture of agricultural implements, the shortage of which in Australia is acute. Europe is starving and the spoils of war for Great Britain are a smaller ration of food than its people suffered 'during the six .war years. We should 'be seeking greater production of food in order that we might alleviate #heir plight. A fatal mistake was made by the 'Government when it restricted primary production. It now has the opportunity and the responsibility to make amends by increasing it and sending food post-haste to the Mother Country, so that our kinsmen might enjoy a diet approaching the comparative luxury of our own. Yet we have the spectacle of ships that could carry food lying idle in Australian' ports- because of industrial turmoil, and of money being wasted on aircraft that will never be used but will soon be sold as junk, perhaps as cheaply as Moth aircraft were sold .recently at auction in Tasmania where people were able to buy them for as little as £25 each. I repeat that light, speedy jet-propelled aircraft what Ave shall need, not flying arks. Two things I emphasize: first, that our relations "with the Dutch must be settled on a better plane, and second, that the whole aircraft production project must be overhauled with a view to ensuring better use of labour and a reduction of wasteful expenditure. {: #subdebate-29-0-s3 .speaker-JF7} ##### Mr BEAZLEY:
Fremantle .- We have had two speeches on the Supply Bill from /the Opposition, the first from the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Menzies)** and the second from the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White).** The Leader of the Opposition talked about production and our foreign policy, which he was pleased to describe as one that was dictated by Communistdominated trade unions. Lectures on production we get more frequently from members of the Liberal party as the general elections draw near. Since the war ended 440,000 men and women have been demobilized for the Services and 147;000 have been dismissed from Commonwealth employment. So 5S7,000 men and women have gone on . the labour market. Of them, 10.963 have registered as unemployed. Those are the figures for the 31st May last. Presumably more than 500,000 men and women have gone into other employment. Yet we are asked by honorable gentlemen opposite to believe that the discouragement of pri vate .enterprise in this country is so great that employment is being retarded and that taxes, especially the taxes on companies and on higher incomes, must be eased if we are 'to have a return to normal production. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr Holt: -- Does the honorable member think production is being increased ? {: .speaker-JF7} ##### Mr BEAZLEY: -- I do not believe that more than 500,000 men and women who have returned to industry are producing nothing. We should- look at specific items, in the budget which honorable gentlemen opposite claim is annihilating spending power. Every one agreed that all "the 600,000 men and women in the forces at the end of the war could not be demobilized instantly without creating an unemployment crisis of the first magnitude. All agreed that demobilization would have to be spread over twelve months. Conceding that, they must also agree to the payment of wages. to the men and women in the forces. So £120,000,000 had to be set aside for Army pay, £50,000;000 for Air Force pay, and £10,000,000 for Navy pay. In addition, £73,000,000 had to he found for deferred pay. In their assertions about taxation, Liberal and Country party members make no reference to those items. They, therefore, believe that they are justified. Social services cost £65,000,000 a year. Honorable gentlemen opposite, with fewexceptions, have not dared to criticize that expenditure. So, if we look at the budget, we find that, instead of it being an annihilator of spending power, the Commonwealth Government is a distributor of it. Of the 7-evenue collected, £31S,000,000 went straight back to the community in the directions I have named. That produces the paradox that, in spite of heavy taxation, the savings of the people rose in 1945 by about £10,000,000 a month. This is the community whose spending power is being annihilated by penal taxation ! The thesis propounded by honorable gentlemen opposite is that taxes must be lifted from the higher incomes if production is to be stimulated. That proposition is interestingly rejected by the leading economist of modern times, the late John Maynard Keynes. His contention is that in our economy enough incomes are generated *to* buy the commodities put on the market, but that the wealth is concentrated at one end of the social scale. He points out that if you give a man who has £1,000 another . £5 he saves that amount, but if you give £5 to a man who has nothing, that- £5 is immediately spent on goods. So he contended the whole aim should be to shift spending power downwards. That is undoubtedly the objective in Australia, as demonstrated in the disbursements to men and women in the servicesand on social security. The result has been an enormous demand for goods. The thesis that honorable gentlemen opposite support, namely, that the policy of the Government should be to lift taxes from the higher incomes first and to remove company taxes, has been accepted by Canada and the United States of America. Instead of having 10,963 registered unemployed as we have Canada has 231,000, and the figure is rising by 20,000 a month, and (he United State's of America has about 5,000,000. If we had the same proportion of unemployed as the United States we should have 250.000. As Keynes pointed out, one of the greatest stimuluses to production that you can possibly get is. the shifting of spending power down so as to create a propensity to buy. That creates an enormous demand for goods and, hence, production. "We all ,hear that industry is being discouraged, but, the mystery that we do not, see the men and women demobilized from the Army and dismissed from Commonwealth employment marching through, the streets clamouring for work has never been explained by honorable gentlemen opposite, because they are incapable of scientific analysis and merely abound in propagandist assertions. The Leader of the Opposition made some statements on foreign policy and industrial matters to which I should refer. To-day, the Prime Minister made it clear that the Commonwealth could not intervene in the meat dispute in Queensland because the State Government did not desire it to intervene. Honorable members opposite are continually hinting at a policy of what they call "standing up- to the trade unions ". That expression is. never analysed. It means,-ii-f it means anything at all, the application of armed ' force to the trade unions if they continue to adopt the policy that they have been adopting. Honorable members opposite always imagine that that represents the outlook of this Australian community. In 1926, the then leader of the kind of. political party that honorable gentlemen opposite represent **(Mr. Bruce)** submitted to the people a referendum asking that the Commonwealth Government be given power to take over emergency trans- < port, and to dissolve associations of employers, and employees. Until then, Western Australia had never rejected a Commonwealth referendum, hut that State smashed the referendum in 1926 by a three-to-one majority - 114,000 votes to 38,000. The referendum was defeated in four of the six States; Indeed, it suffered one of the heaviest defeats in the history of referenda in the Commonwealth. In 1926 the Australian community, which was far more conservative then than it is to-day, rejected this idea of giving to the Commonwealth Governmen t power to apply armed force to trade unions, or to do any of those other things which honorable members opposite call " taking the firm line ". I come from the port of Fremantle. When I was a , child that port was in constant industrial turmoil. Finally, the " firm line " was taken by a conservative State government. Bayonets were used on the water-front. One man .was killed and some were injured. Feeling in the town became such that the police who had been associated with that oppression dared not live in Fremantle. They had to be transferred to country districts. That is the atmosphere- created by the " firm line ". And this incipient desire to wage class war downwards, which honorable gentlemen opposite consistently evince, although they do not analyse "what standing up to the trade unions" means, is one of the disquieting features of their policy. If they should form a government, I have no doubt that the industrial upheavals which would take place in this country would make those which are now occurs ring in the United States of America look very small affairs indeed, an, the Leader pf the Opposition would then have production jammed, and all those other disabilities which he ' seeks to impute to the Commonwealth Government. I never heard anything more trivial and slovenly than his analysis of the position in South-East Asia. Any one would think that the Sydney waterside workers were in some way responsible for the upheaval which has taken place, in Indonesia. It is nothing to the Leader of the Opposition that France is unable to re-assert itself in Indo-China, and that Great Britain is at present engaged in giving large instalments of selfgovernment to India. It is nothing to honorable members opposite that the traitors in India, who supported the Government of Subhas Chandra Bose, set up by the Japanese at Singapore, are so strongly supported in India that when they were arrested and tried for high treason they were given in no case more than a week's imprisonment. Because of the attitude which prevailed in the country, that was the kind of sentence which British courts had to impose. If honorable members opposite imagine .that they' can dismiss this racial upheaval in South-East Asia with a few trivial words, and also that supplies which no doubt Dutch women and children should be receiving will in some way dissipate the situation which has developed there, something is very wrong with their ability to estimate trends in international affairs. Members of the Opposition and the press continually refer to the abolition of the means test. One of the strong points which the Opposition hopes to make at the forthcoming election, and for which a preliminary build-up is now being given in leading articles throughout the Commonwealth, is the means test. The argument is advanced in countless leading articles that if a contributory scheme can be established, the means test will be abolished. I have no doubt that in the course of time the establishment of a contributory scheme would have that effect; but what I cannot understand is the intellectual dishonesty of the press and spokesmen of the Opposition when they suggest that if we were to establish a contributory scheme at once, it would be *a* substitute for a part of the present taxation. Obviously, -every old'-age pensioner who receives a pension to-day would still have to receive it. Those old-age pensioners did not contribute in the past, so we should still be obliged to find £27,000,000 from taxation. On top of that, we should have to impose a contribution. A compulsory contribution, to which honorable gentlemen opposite frequently refer, would come from the pay envelopes of all salary and wage earners in precisely the same way as taxation does; but these advocates pretend that it will not be deduction from the pay envelope or represent a diminution of purchasing power. They refer to it as " abolishing the means test ", thereby raising hopes in the minds of 468,000 persons who are at present eligible by age but who are not eligible by means for an old-age pension. This contributory scheme will do nothing but abolish the means test in the future. Of itself, it can do nothing to abolish the means test now. Honorable gentlemen opposite have not the honesty to say that. Norhave the newspapers which support them. If we abolish the means test and establish a contributory scheme, we shall be compelled to increase expenditure on oldage pensions from £27,000,000 to £65,000,000 a year. That will mean doubling that amount of tax, and on top of it, we shall have to impose a contributory scheme for the future. If we establish a contributory scheme, for the next ten years people who will be contributing will not have contributed sufficient for their own pensions. Consequently, we shall still be obliged to supplement the fund from taxation. We can never extract from honorable gentlemen opposite an honest statement on this subject. They do not say that the abolition, of the means test does not apply to the present aged people. No ! They hope to gain the support of 468,000 persons to whom I referred. They do not analyse the position. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr Anthony: -- The whole position was analysed when the national insurancescheme was under consideration. {: .speaker-JF7} ##### Mr BEAZLEY: -- Honorable members opposite support what they call contributory insurance whereby no matter what one's income is, one will pay the same premium for the same insurance. Social services, which are financed out of taxation, take £375 from a man in receipt of £5,000 a year, and £5 from a man iii receipt of £200 a year. Insurance, if it were similar to ordinary private insurance, would make the same charge regardless of income, so that this contributory scheme that honorable members opposite continually hint at violates the first principle of taxation, namely, that taxation should be based on ability to pay. Secondly, it does not have the affect of shifting spending power downwards as recommended by John Maynard Keynes, but has the effect of increasing the contribution or taxation from the lower incomes. There is another objection to a national insurance scheme to which honorable gentlemen opposite never refer. They point back with pride to the National Insurance Act of 193S, which was introduced by a government which they supported. That was actuarially worked out to give a pension of 20s. a week to a man and 15s. a week to a. woman. Let us suppose that the scheme was agreed to a certain rate of contribution in 1938. Of course, internal party quarrels among honorable members opposite prevented them from implementing the scheme, but if they had actually worked it and had imposed those contributions, the pension of 20s. a week payable to a male and 15s. a week payable to a woman would be worthless at the current purchasing power of money. When the scheme is financed out of taxation, the money is taken from the current national income at the current purchasing power of money. The oldage pension of 21s. .a week in. 1938 has now become 32,s. 6d. a week. I do not believe that that .is a .real advance, and that it has done any more than offset the decline of the purchasing power of money, but, at least, it has done that much. A contributory scheme, actuarially, would have had to be, adjusted out of taxation in order to offset the decline of the purchasing power of money associated with the war. In other words, if we had started a contributory scheme when the old-age pension was introduced in 1909, we could not possibly have maintained an adequate pension, as we have been able to do by financing pensions out of taxation. Actuarially, we would have built up schemes on a certain contribution and we would not have had the finance available to pay more than the pension which we had calculated, and the continual depreciation of the purchasing - power of money would have made that pension inadequate unless we had supplemented it out of taxation. A great deal of nonsense is talked about the '"soundness of a contributory scheme ". Honorable members opposite referred to the collapse of pensions during the economic depression. Pensions were financed out of taxation. When revenues fell, the pension had also to fall: The circumstances of an economic depression are the circumstances of mass unemployment. Many contributory schemes operated in other countries, but. when mass unemployment occurred, people could not contribute because they Were not earning incomes, and the rates of benefits had to be reduced in precisely the same way. In other words, under circumstances of an economic depression and mass unemployment, a contributory scheme is no sounder than a scheme financed from taxation. I always find it a curious argument, whatever may be said against the means test, that a contributory scheme will provide a sounder fund than will a scheme financed from taxation, which takes £375 a year from a man in receipt of an income of £5,000 and give3 him nothing in return. At least, it does create a fund on which he cannot draw, and it is a more stable fund than one on which everybody has the right to draw. That is an argument, not against the abolition of the means test, but against -the lack of analysis which honorable members opposite have exhibited in their public utterances and which the press generally exhibits in its superficial analyses of the whole of this matter. The alleged unsoundness of the policy of financing social services from taxation is one of the most laughable pieces of newspaper pomposity that we have seen in this country. The old-age pension was introduced in 1909 and a means test was attached to it. It has been retained ever' since. Except for two years when the Scullin Government was in office, honorable gentlemen opposite were in power from 1916 until 1941. They neither changed to a contributory scheme nor abolished the means *Supply Bill* [20 June, 1946.] *(No.* 1) 1946-47. 1685 test. Yet the Labour Government, which came into office in 1941, a month before Japan struck, and which had to expend £500,000,000 a year on the conduct of the Avar, is supposed to be the government which should have carried out these vast transformations in social services. The entire press of the country makes that assertion, and blames the Labour Government for the means test, which its predecessors (maintained for many years. As I stated, the means test has been a feature of the old-age pension scheme since its introduction in 1909. I have ceased to expect any worth-while analyses from the press on foreign policy and social services, and it is in protest against that kind of trivial superficiality that I have intervened in this debate. {: #subdebate-29-0-s4 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON:
Wentworth -- Whenever I listen to the honorable member for Fremantle **(Mr.** Beazley) I am irresistibly reminded of the characteristic academic approachwhich is generally made to matters of great moment by the long-haired crystal-gazers that the Government employs to plan its post-warworld. Unfortunately, the whole of the plans which are made by the bureaucrats behind this Government have exactly the same ring as the observations made by the professor from Fremantle. The honorable member has treated us to a dissertation on elementary economics. He said that the fact that large numbers of men had been released from the services and had entered various industries meant, *ipso facto,* greater production. Let us reduce the honorable gentleman's argument to the lowest common denominator. What volume of goods is available to the community today? It is lower, in some lines, than the quantity that was available during the greatest stress of the was effort? Every housewife knows, as the honorable gentleman himselfwould realize if he got down to the realities of practical politics instead of soaring into the empyrean, that thewhole community is suffering from an acute shortage of certain requirements under the inadequate coupon system which is still in operation. The honorable gentleman need only take note of the industrial dislocation throughout the country, due to the failure of the Government to obtain enough coal, to realize the state in which people are living. He need only call to mind the devastating strike that lasted for a month in New South Wales over the Christmas period, to appreciate how production has suffered. In the metal trade in particular, the position is desperate. Austral Bronze Company Proprietary Limited, for instance, will only take orders for nine months' delivery of sheet-copper, and Australian Aluminium Company Proprietary Limited states that it has reached the stagewhere it must closedown. Yet the professor from Fremantle says there must be greater production because more men are working in industry. The practical test is to be found not in theoretical and academic discussion such as that indulged in by the honorable member for Fremantle, but by the examination of figures in relation to industrial disputes. In 1943 there were 689 industrial disputes in New South Wales, where a Labour government is in power. In 1944 therewere801 industrial disputes, and in 1945 a record of 1,158 disputes was reached. Thiswas at a time when Labour was in power in both the Commonwealth and New South Wales. In 1945, 324,491 workers were involved and 1,878,753working days were lost. What has the professor from Fremantle to say about this? Where does his theorizing get him in the face of the practical political situation revealed by these figures? They tell the industrial storymuch more faithfully than it can be told by academic lectures. The facts are that, because of restrictions due to the failure of the Go- vernment to make coal available for industry, thewhole country is in a state of serious industrial turmoil, and this will continue untilcoal, which is the life-blood of industry, can be made available in adequate quantities. **Major industries** in practically all the big. cities of Australia are working on a . basis of only one or two days' supply of coal for the production ofpower for industry and for transport. Even in the capital cities close to the coal-fields industries have totally inadequate coal supplies. It would not make any difference if the man-power availablewere doubled or trebled unless coal be available for 1686 *Supply Bill* . [REPRESENTATIVES.] *(No.* 1) 1946 47. production. These are hard facts and in the light of them I do not propose to discuss the academic and theoretical views which have been put forward to-night on international affairsand social services by the honorable gentleman fromFremantle, though I have no doubt that some of my colleagues will deal with those subjects. The honorable member cannot refute the figures that I have cited. All his theorizing will not make available an additional pound of energy. Energy for industry can be made available only by coal. Coal production must be increased to a level that will ensure continuity of operations, and that only can bring prosperity. It must be recognized by this Government that industrial stability depends, in the long run, on coal production. Honorable members will recollect that the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Menzies)** quoted certain remarks by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, **Mr. Attlee,** with regard to the importance of production. The Premier of Tasmania, **Mr. Cosgrove,** also, to the discomfiture of honorable gentlemen opposite, has made it clear that production must be increased. The stormy petrel of American politics, **Mr. John** L. Lewis, has also made some remarks on this subject to the anthracite coal-miners of America. I quote the following from a publication issued by the National City Bank of New York: - >Last September (1945) John L. Lewis, who has now taken his United Mine Workers of America back into the A.F. of L., addressed a letter to every anthracite mine, in which he said - > >Every effort must be made to bring about increased production per man per day for variousgood reasons, that affect the welfare of each and every member of the United Mine Workers of America in the anthracite region, including their wives and families. > >Increased production per day is largely the answer to the problem of continuity of employment and the maintenance of wage and condition standards. . . . Increased daily production and continuity of employment will prevent, in our judgment the recurrence of the difficulties that we met with following World WarI which resulted inthe depression. > >Each individual member of the organization' knows in his heart if he can increase his daily production of coal. Let each man then examine his own conscience in the light of these facts and act accordingly. I commend those observations to all honorable members opposite and to the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James)** in particular. The name of **Mr. John** L. Lewis is anathema to many people in the United States of America. This man, who has led American Labour against capitalism for more than a decade, has been game enough to realize that theorizing such as that indulged in tonight by the professor from Fremantle is of little use in ensuring the well-being of the workers and the welfare of the country. Production is the only answer to our problems, and unless production bo increased we shall sink into another depression. The sooner honorable gentlemen opposite realize that not only housing projects, but also all other projects of any magnitude which are designed to promote progress in Australia, are dependent upon increased production the better it will be for everybody. The self-styled leaders of Labour who sit on the benches opposite must be brave enough to go out and tell the miners and other workers who are disrupting industry that they must produce in order to save their own hides. Unless that fact canbe driven home, we shall face an industrial cataclysm, and honorable gentlemen opposite must bear responsibility if that occurs. I wish now to refer to remarksmade to-day by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction **(Mr. Dedman).** I asked him a question relative to the great charter of civil liberties which he tells us the Government is offering to exservice men and women. Honorable gentlemen opposite have assured these people that on their return to civil life they would be able to take up vocational training and to rehabilitate themselves. To-day I gave the Minister particulars of a lad who was in the printing tradeas an apprentice and who was called up at the age of eighteen years. His indentures were broken, and he served five years in the forces. On his discharge, he tried to go back to his former employment, but his employer told him that he would have to contact the printing trades industrial organization first. He did so, and was informed that the books of the union were closed to anyone over 21 years of age. It was not the young man's fault *Supply Bill* [20 June, 1946.] *(No.* 1) 1946-47. 1687 that he reached the age of 21 years while he was away fighting for his country. He then approached the master printers' association and he was told that the Printing Industry Employees' Union had withdrawn from the rehabilitation training scheme. It was on that subject that I asked the Minister a question. His reply was most evasive. He concluded by saying something about the situation being dependent upon the absorptive capacity of the union. I have received some information to-day, since I asked the Minister that question, which will show the returned soldiers of Australia just where they stand in regard to this allegedly great vocational training scheme which is contained in the list that the Minister has called a charter of civil liberties.' I ask honorable gentlemen opposite who wear the badge on their coats that I am honoured to wear what they intend to do about this situation. I understand that instructions have been issued to the rehabilitation section of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction to the effect that the section must not deal with applications from ex-servicemen to enter certain trades, which include engineering, boilerm aking, blacksmithing and some sheet-metal industries. I should have the full details of this direction very shortly. {: .speaker-KCF} ##### Mr Dedman: -- That is due to action by the dilutee committees. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- That will be small comfort to ex-servicemen. The Minister has had a great deal to say about the Government's vocational training scheme, but apparently it will be ineffective because some of the unions will not accept it. This is true, it seems, in the printing trade, the electrical trade and some other trades, and the Government will not be able to do anything about it, as the unions have closed their books. I ask the Government wha t it intends to do, and I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction to honour his undertaking 'to the exservicemen that they will be given a chance to rehabilitate themselves. The Minister may read statements in the House about what **Mr. Millhouse** has said with regard to the land settlement of ex-servicemen, but the returned soldiers' organizations are well aware that discharged men are being denied the right to rehabilitate themselves in industry, because the unions have closed theirbooks. The membership of some of these unions consists largely of men who were engaged in making munitions during the war and were not in the fighting forces. I pass now to say something to the Minister for Works and Housing **(Mr. Lazzarini).** Last February, when I made certain exposures with regard to the Salvage Commission, the Minister refuted some of my allegations ; but subsequently, under pressure, said that a committee of' inquiry would be appointed. I wish to know whether that authority has yet submitted a report. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- I shall answer the honorable gentleman in my own time. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- I wish to say something about the report when it is possible to do so. After I had mademy allegations in this House, I learned that the principal witness in connexion with the matter had! been allowed to go to Palestine. The Minister for Immigration said subsequently in the press that he knew nothing about any such person being allowed to go out of the country He now tellsme that he did not know that this man had: left the country. Commonwealth salvage is of vital importance. A committee of inquiry is functioning. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- It is not. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- Then I take it that the investigator has completed his report. Is that so? {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- Yes; and he has " wiped " the honorable member completely. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- I have never been approached by him, or asked to give evidence. I have not been asked whether I had other witnesses who could give evidence. I know that he visited one of those who had supplied information to me. I do not know whether he took evidence on oath. I had a number of witnesses whom I wished to call, yet I was not consulted. That is the slap-dash way in which the inquiry was conducted. I have two letters which make observations in connexion with the matter. The first, dated the 17th April, is from one of the Commonwealth advisers on salvage, Millar Ezzy and Company. It reads - >I received your communication of 1st April., and have some additional facts which may assist you in your endeavours to have an 1688 *Supply Bill* [ REPRESENT A T I VES.] *(No.* 1) 1946-47. inquiry held into theactivities of the Commonwealth Salvage Commission. These facts are as follows: - >A few months ago I interviewed **Mr. Walker,** secretary of the Commonwealth Salvage Commission in Melbourne, and complained about the unfairness of the commission in selling huge quantities of material to refugees, without giving the legitimate traders an opportunity of quoting for the said materials. I understand that **Mr. Walker** has been dismissed. If he has, what was the reason for his dismissal? {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- I shall inform the honorable gentleman later. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- The letter continues - > **Mr. Walker** replied, " I called in Baron "- Baron, it appears, is the name of the principal of the firm concerned. When I last raised this matter, I asked the Prime Minister whether the firm was that of Lasse. I have since learned that it was Baron. I apologize to the firm of Lasse for having inadvertently introduced itsname. The Prime Minister could easily have corrected me. The letter continues - > **Mr. Walker** replied : " I called in Baron in an advisory capacity to the commission, with a request that he proceed to Sydney and Brisbane and inspect all materials available ". I then asked Walker why this man was called in and pointed out that **Mr. K.** McLeod Bolton, of Sydney, had been gazetted honorary adviser to the commission and also that an advisory panel, of which I, myself was a member, was in existence. Walker refrained from answering this question, but did admit that, after Baron had inspected the material, he, Baron, submitted the following proposition : - > >Baron to form a company to be known a. Associated Salvage Distributors, and that thib company purchase all Army textile salvage materials available throughout the Commonwealth. > >Walker further stated that the commission accepted this proposition and signed a contract accordingly. Needless to say, sir, I was astounded at this admission. > >Upon my return to Sydney a few days later. I immediately arranged for a meeting of the local waste traders and explained the position to the members present. It was decided that threemembers of the trade interview **Mr. Lazzarini** in reference to these transactions and, despite the fact that Lazzarini agreed to meet these gentlemen, they were informed, upon arrival at his rooms, that he would only interview one member. **Mr. Bolton** was the gentleman who saw Lazzarini and, as a reward for his efforts in attempting to straighten out matters, was called a liar-.. I understand that there was a " pleasant " exchange between the Minister and **Mr. Bolton.** {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: **- Mr. Bolton** and I did not have any angry words. He will substantiate that statement.- {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- Was Bolton called as a witness at the inquiry? {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- That has nothing to do with me. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- Bolton saw me in Sydney, and told me that he would like to be called as a witness if the evidence was to be given on oath. He also said that one interview which he had with the Minister was rather refreshing.I shall refrain from inflicting the details of it upon the House. The letter goes on to say - >The writer is a partner in a. Melbournefirm registered under the name of Preston Waste Proprietary Limited. This firm, owing to the control by the Commonwealth Salvage Commission, was compelled to close down during the period of control, due only to the fact that . it was unable to obtain supplies. > >Despite repeated requests by a director of the firm, to the Commonwealth Salvage Commission, no supplies were made available, yet Walker had the audacity to admit having; signed a contract with a firm which was not even registered. Those are the business methods of the administration of which the Minister has control. A contract was signed with a refugee firm. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- That is not true. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- The AuditorGeneral has already criticized the Minis1 ter for having had dealings with a firm that was not registered at the time, {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- The Auditor-General has never mentioned the name of the Minister. The honorable gentleman knows that he is not telling the truth. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- I am referring to the department, for which the Minister must accept responsibility. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- I do. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- This portion of the letter is most interesting - >In my letter to yon dated 28th March,I omitted to state that the material referred to had been sorted by Millar, Ezzy and Company and the commission had paid us £10 per ton to do the sorting. This, of course, makes the sale referred to in that letter more ridiculous than ever. Although an offer of £120 had been received, the sale was made to a refugee firm for £17 a ton, and the commission paid that firm £.10 a ton to do the sorting: therefore, the net .return to the commission was £7 a ton. instead .of the £120 a ton which had been offered. The letter concludes - >In conclusion, may I, suggest that, when the inquiry is held, evidence bo taken on oath. Thanking you for the interest yon are taking in this matter. Although the committee of inquiry was appointed as the result of charges made in this House by both the Leader of the Australian Country party **(Mr. Fadden)** and myself, . neither of us was called before the committee or was asked to sub- n i t. the names of witnesses. We have no knowledge of whether or not evidence was taken on oath. After a "star chamber" inquiry had been held, a report was made mid is now in the possession of the Minister. Those whose letters I arn readinghave been courageous enough to append their signatures to them and to ask to be called as witnesses. **Mr. McLeod** Bolton, i lie Commonwealth adviser on salvage, wanted to give evidence. The Minister did not see fit to give to honorable members an opportunity to name witnesses, but proceeded with the inquiry in an underhand, sinister way, not calling even those who had made the charges. If ever a case called for a royal commission, this one does. Obviously the Minister, who had received telegrams from- Sydney firms offering 8s. Id. or more a garment, ignored those offers, and the department that he administers sold the goods for £17 a ton, which was equivalent to a few pence each. He may have had very good reasons for ensuring that the inquiry should not lie an open one. The next letter is from Sydney Waste Industries Limited, and is dated the 29th April. It reads- >I have read with interest the reports in connexion with the letter written to you by **Mr. 35.** J. Millar in respect to the sale of textile waste by the Commonwealth Salvage Commission to a Melbourne syndicate, and I agree with the information given to you by **Mr. Millar.** > >My company, as one of the largest textile waste merchants in Australia, had a considerable amount of dealings with the commission and I consider that the treatment doled out to this company and other waste firms by the l I l l I 1111 SS 1011 was most unreasonable. > >My reason for making this statement is that in July, 1945, my company purchased from the commission a quantity of old hosiery at £102 I Us. 4d. per ton and again in September, 1945, purchased a quantity of wiper material at £102 13s. 4d. per ton. ' At about this period the commission sold by contract at least 1,500 tons of rags to the Melbourne syndicate at a flat rate of £17 per ton. It is not possible to reconcile the action of the officers of the commission in these sales. I invite the House to note what follows, because I understand it to be the basis of some part of the conversation that took place between **Mr. McLeod** Bolton, the Minister, and **Mr. Fitzpatrick** - at one time the Minister's campaign director, but now the head df the Commonwealth Salvage Commission in Sydney. Incidentally, the commission is doing very well at the moment, and shows a profit of £300,000. Its transactions should have been equally profitable from the beginning of operations. The turning point was reached when revelations were made in this House. The letter continues - >Whilst I was in Brisbane in October last, I found that the syndicate was using the com- mission's store, Army personnel and vehicles to handle the waste. To communicate with the syndicate (now known as Associated Salvage Distributors) it was first necessary to telephone the State Controller of Salvage. Brisbane, whose office would then connect you. That is an unregistered firm, to which the department sold material at £17 a ton, although it had an offer for it of £J20 a ton. The only way in which it could be contacted was through the office of the Minister. That is a most extraordinary state of affairs. There should have been a royal commission instead of the " star chamber " inquiry conducted by the Minister. The letter goes on to say - >We are led to believe that when the contract was made the syndicate was neither registered as a company nor licensed as *a* distributor by the Salvage Commission. It would also- be interesting to know if it is true that the principal of the syndicate has left this country and is now in Palestine. Inquiries that I subsequently made disclosed that this man had gone to Palestine, having been given a visa by the Minister for Immigration **(Mr. Calwell.)** As he was principal witness in this matter, that is rather significant. We were told that he had gone to Pale-tine on matters associated with his business. ' I want to know whether he had arranged for these wearable materials - Air Force jackets and American greatcoats, which he had purchased for £17 a ton - to be shipped to Palestine. If they were 1690 *Supply Bill* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *(No.* 1) 1946-47. shipped, what effect did that have on his taxable income? How did he manage to leave this country? Has he shipped the material away? If he has, why did he do so? Many questions might be asked, and this House should know the answers to them. The letter continues - >Personally I thank you for the action you have taken in this matter and I consider that a full enquiry into the dealings of the Commonwealth Salvage Commission is required to satisfy the members of the trade in particular and the public in general. > >Yours faithfully, > >T. Evans, Managing Director. These men are members of the advisory committee. Certainly, Millar and Evans are Bolton is the commission's adviser. This firm was appointed without the advisers being consulted. The advisers might have made suggestions had they been invited to do so. I take it that their suggestions would have resulted in obtaining the full value of the articles. The writers of these letters were prepared to sacrifice their business careers, if necessary, by taking the stand that they took in connexion with this matter. They asked to be permitted to give evidence at the inquiry, provided it, was taken on oath. One of them made a statement to me that he believed that 78,000 "smackers" had been cleaned up before the matter was tracked down. These men are waiting to be called to give evidence. I was not called, and neither, I think, was the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr.Fadden). Yet the inquiry has been closed, and the report of the committee has been submitted to the Government. Presently, we are to be treated by the. Minister to a dissertation on its findings. I do not even know whether the evidence taken by the committee was given on oath. I received a. report from one man that **Mr. Conde** was going out to his works. I told him to ask **Mr. Conde** whether he was making his visit in the course of the inquiry, and if so to ask him whether he was taking evidence on oath : also, to ask him, if **Mr. Conde** proposed to swear him, whether other witnesses also had been sworn. Even yet I do not know whether the witnesses who gave evidence were sworn, and neither do the public know.We are in a position to present documentary evidence, but we have not been called. I have been told that **Mr. Walker,** against whom certain charges were made, has been dismissed, and that certain other officers of the department have been dismissed. I know that one man who is closely associated with him in politics has been appointed to a very high position in the Minister's department. The man had been dismissed, buthe was reinstated by the Minister. I am saying nothing against that. I know that since these men were appointed the department has shown a profit. The staff of the department, with the exception of one man, sought legal advice as to their position in view of the racketeering which was going on, and subsequently wrote to the Minister advising him of the position. I know that somem en were dismissed because they were poking their noses too closely into the affairs of the commission, but they have since been reinstated. They have done a. good job, and some of them have been appointed to executive positions. However, if they are honest, they are doing no more than their duty. I submit that an open inquiry should be held, and all the facts brought to light. If the Minister publishes the report of the committee of inquiry without getting all the facts relating to the matter, and without taking evidence on oath from persons in the trade who are willing to testify, other steps will have to be taken in this House. {: #subdebate-29-0-s5 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Minister for Works and Housing. · Werriwa · ALP -- I have never heard a more malicious or more misleading statement than that which has just been made by the honorable member for Wentworth **(Mr.** Harrison). He has succeeded in completely distorting the facts of the case, and he has attempted to tarnish the reputation of honorable men without offering any evidence in support of his charges. There was a third person in my office when I was interviewed by **Mr. Bolton,** and if **Mr. Bolton** saysthat there was ' an acrimonious discussion between us, he is a liar, and so is any one who repeats such a statement. As a matter of fact, **Mr. Bolton** shook hands with me and thanked me for the interview. I am sure that he will be honorable *Supply Bill* [20 June, 1946.] *(No.* 1) 1946-47. 1691 enough to confirm this statement. Indeed, he said as much himself in a press interview. *No* dismissals have been made from the Salvage Commission staff except in the course of retrenchment because the volume of business has diminished, and these were made in accordance "with the Pinner report on the staffing of wartime departments. I propose to recapitulate the occurrences which have been discussed by the honorable member, because I want the facts to appear in *Hansard* side by side with the wild statements which he has made. When he says that members of the Salvage Commission have been guilty of improper practices he is seeking to blacken the names of some of the most respected and responsible members of the Public Service. On a certain date I was informed that the Salvage Commission had agreed, in order to make up the quantity specified in a contract, to include some clothing which was fit. for human use in a consignment classified as rag. The chairman of the commission admitted as much to me, but this was the only incident of the kind which ever occurred. As soon as I learned of it, I got the Attorney-General's Department to " vet " the contract in order to see whether it was possible to break it, but I was informed that this could not be done. I immediately issued an order that from then on no similar contract was to be entered into; that clothing should be sold as clothing, and only rag should be sold as rag. I also ordered that tenders must be called in every instance. That instruction has been obeyed, and the Auditor-General's Department has been notified on every occasion when tenderswere opened, and a request made that an officer should, if possible, be present. I first received the information on the 1st July, 1945, and I asked the Treasurer **(Mr. Chifley)** to allow an official of his department to report on the matter. The officer detailed for the work was **Mr. W.** E. Dunk, and I do not supposethat the honorable member for Wentworth, in spite of his attempts to use this House as a coward's castle from which to assail the reputations of honorable men, will be disposed to reflect upon the good name of **Mr.** Dunk. The report of **Mr. Dunkcontained** this passage - >In my view Coleman has not exercised good judgment but I think there is nothing sinister in it. This, you will appreciate, is purely a personal impression - I was not able to carry out any investigation which would either prove or disprove it. I asked the Treasurer if he would allow the Auditor-General to make an exhaustive inquiry into the matter. That was on the 6th August, 1945, and up to that time no one outside my department knew anything about the transaction. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- The Minister admits that there was something wrong. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- I admit that there was something which called for an inquiry and I admitted as much the first time the honorable member raised the issue. However, subsequent inquiry proved that nothing wrong had been done. Later on, I shall cite some figures to show how the menwhose statements have been quoted by the honorable member for Wentworthwere trying towangle things so as to get certain persons out of the way; thus enabling them to put their heads together and agree on the priceswhich they would tender for goods. It was not until the 6th September, 1945, that the honorable member brought the matter before the House. I have before me a minute from the Salvage Commission dealingwith the transaction under discussion, and I quote from it as follows : - >At a meeting of the Commonwealth Salvage Commission in Melbourne on Thursday, 12th July, 1.945, the following memberswere present: - > > **Mr. P.** L. Coleman Chairman. > > **Mr. V.** D. Watson representing the Department of War Organization of Industry. > > **Mr. S.** Lucas representing the Ministry of Munitions. > > **Mr. W.** Sumner representing the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. > > **Mr. A.** M. Walker Secretary to the Commission. > >Agenda Item No.I - Apologies. - Apologies were received from ColonelJ. H. Crombie and **Mr. J.R.** Cummins. > >On page 3 of the minutes the following appears in connexion with the clearance of rag stocks: - > >Clearance of Bag Stocks. > >The chairman drew attention to the secre- tary's report in relation to the clearance of rag in Brisbane and Sydney, and stated that 1692 *Supply Bill[* REPRESENTATIVES.] *(No.* 1) 1946-47. ho had been worried concerning the large stocks held by the commission, and in terms of the commissions' authority given to him at the last meeting, to effect "prompt disposals in accordance with his best judgment, he had sent the secretary to Brisbane to report on the position. > >As a result of a verbal report telephoned to him by the secretary from Brisbane, when he was in Sydney he decided to go to Brisbane immediately, since there was a prospectof clearing a fairly large tonnage, if prompt action was taken. On arrival in Brisbane the chairman stated he found the storage position fairly desperate, and current arisings accumulating at the rate of6 tons per day. > >Two Melbourne buyers were interested, and the secretary had discussed the clearance of 1,000 tons with them but the best price they would offer was ?14 per ton. The chairman stated that he had told these buyers that he was prepared to deal further with them, provided they would be prepared to accept all surplus stocks of the commission's materials in both Brisbane and Sydney, including 400 tons lying in the Army Salvage Depot at Enoggera. Brisbane. After examining the material in Brisbane the prospective buyers said they were, interested at a price, and the chairman had refused to accept anything less than ?17 per ton. this without incurring the costs of freight against these figures. > >After examining the material in Brisbane they then examined the material lying in Sydney, including some quantities of service clothing lying at the Redfern store, for which urgent removal was required in order that space might be found for the goods required by Unrra. After examining the Sydney material, the buyers expressed themselves as a little more satisfied with the deal, and the transaction was closed at ?17 net to the commission, for a minimum tonnage of 1.000 tons. *ex* Brisbane and Sydney. > >The chairman reported that in relation to this sale the commission had inserted, a protective clause in the sale agreement, to the effect that any wiper material obtained from the material sold was to be offered first to the commission for the fulfillment of any outstanding defence or Commonwealth requirements, and once these were met authority to sell the balance would he given. > >After discussion it was agreed that this sale appeared to be most fortunate under the circumstances, and the commission endorsed the chairman's actions in respect to it. > >Secretary's report adopted. > >At a further meeting hold on 17th August, 1945, the following were present: - > > **Mr. P.** L. Coleman Chairman. > > **Mr. V.** D. Watson Representing the Department of War Organization of Industry. > > **Mr. S.** Lucas Representing the Ministry of Munitions. > >Colonel J. H. Crombie - Representing the > >Services. > > **Mr. A.** M. Walker Secretary to the Commission. > >Agenda ItemNo.I - Apologies. - Apologies were received from Messrs. W. Sumner and J. E. Cummins. > >On page 2 the following appears with regard to the clearance of stocks: - > >Agenda Item No. 4 - *Clearance of Stocks.* - The secretary reported that he had received a visit from **Mr. Brilliant** of the Associated Salvage Distributors, in relation to the company's contract with this commission for the removal of a minimum of 1.000 tons of rag *em* Brisbane stocks. **Mr. Brilliant** is one of the men who have been referred to by the honorable member for Wentworth as " refugees ". Another is **Mr. Baron.** I do not know whetherthe Leader of the Opposition knows many business men in Melbourne, but I am informed that **Mr. Brilliant** is one of the best-known and most respected business men in that city. He was naturalized as far back as 1.922, when, incidentally, a government formed by the parties now in Opposition was in office. **Mr. Baron** was naturalized in 1932, again when a non-Labour government was in power. At that time the word " refugee " had not been brought into common use. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- Who spoke of " refugees " ? {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- The honorable member for Wentworth described these men as refugee Jews. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- Were they not " refugees " ? {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- No. They are naturalized British subjects. Does the. honorable member apply the term " refugee " to every person who comes to Australia from 'another country and becomes a naturalized British subject? The word only came into use during the war, and it is used to describe people who have fled from their own countries to escape tyranny and persecution. The honorable member for Wentworth sits cheek by jowl with the Leader of the Opposition, and should have known that **Mr. Brilliant** is well known in Melbourne business circles. **Mr. Brilliant** was the man who signed the contract. The company had not been formed, but he signed the contract and took the responsibility for it. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: -- Did he change his name-' when he was naturalized ? *Supply Bill* [20 June, 1946.] *(No.* I) 1946-47. 1693 {: #subdebate-29-0-s6 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
ALP -- No, but I am inclined to think that some honorable members opposite have changed their names. The document continues - >Apparently **Mr. Brilliant** had been to Brisbane and had discovered that the tonnage would be much in excess of 1,000 tons.From inquiries since made into this position, it would appear that by the time the original 1,000 tons is cleared there will probably be another 500 or GOO tons available. Then the document goes on to state how the contract was altered, and how Associated Salvage Distributors were worried about the condition of the material in the Army salvage stores. It states - >It will tints be seen that any action taken by the chairman or the secretary of the commission at the time was fully endorsed by the then members of the commission. The majority of the members were senior public servants who had given a lifetime of public service, and would definitely not be parties to any sinister or underhand transaction. Then follows a letter to **Mr. Brilliant** including a list of the material held in the various stores. The list is as follows : - > *Brisbane -* > >West End Store - All Army rag in this store including residue blanket pieces. > >Newmarket Store - All Army rag, blanket pieces, and unserviceable army clothing for transfer to rag. > >Newmarket Brick - All Army rag in this store, as at the date of inspection, excluding anti-gas material, discarded hammocks, cotton and bags and scrap jute. > >Army Salvage Depot - Stocks of rag at present stacked in the open, but not including any stocks at present in army salvage stores not yet declared to this commission. > >This commission believes that thestocks of rag set out in the foregoing tabulation, approximate between 800 and 900 tons, the rag in the commission's stores being considered to be approximately 450 to 500 tons, while the stocks in the army salvage depot are reputed to be between 300 and. 400 tons. *Sydney -* > >Redfern Store - Discarded service clothing as inspected comprising lines listed by the State Controller for transfer to rag, under approval from the chairman, including residue blanket pieces. > >Harrington-street Store - Stocks of discarded clothing as inspected and listed by State Controller for transfer to rag, under chairman's approval. > >Millar, Ezzy's Store - Stocks of discarded clothing for transfer to rag, as inspected, approximately fifteen bales. > >Army Salvage Depot, Merrylands, (not inspected) - A lot of discarded military clothing, unsorted, reputed tobe approximately twenty tons. The letter continues- >This commission proposes; therefore, to offer for sale to you a minimum quantity of 1,000 tons, comprising all the available rag as set out in the foregoing statement, and the balance between the total quantity of rag available, and the minimum of a thousand tons to be made up, if necessary, from the stocks of clothing awaiting transfer to rag. It is further agreed that the commission will be prepared to sell all the material specified in the foregoing statement to a quantity even in excess of 1,000 tons. Therefore, in the event of your desire to purchase all the stocks, as enumerated, and should these exceed by weight 1,000 tons, it is understood that you would be agreeable to pay for the additional material at the same rate per ton as that to he charged for the stipulated minimum. 1,000 tons lot. That refers to that big quantity of material with the exception of the £1,000 worth mentioned by the honorable member for Wentworth. The following statement by the Commonwealth Controller of Salvage will give an indication to honorable members of the kind of material it was : - >When the first contract was made the firm was not registered, but the contract itself was entered into with **Mr. S.** Brilliant, who immediately registered the firm when hewas informed that his offer to purchase the rag had been accepted. This is ordinary business procedure and there is nothing ominous in this fact. If a contract had been entered into with Associated Salvage Distributors prior to the firm being registered then this would have been highly irregular. The figure of £78,000 must be purely a figment of **Mr. Harrison's** imagination and is absolutely fantastic. During an interview with Messrs. Brilliant and Baron in Melbourne, afterI had taken over the chairmanship of the commission, I informed them that I intended investigating their books and they stated they would raise no objection. Whilst it is probable that a profit will eventually be made on the transaction, I dp not think that it will he very great. Having regard to the early expenses which this firm incurred in sorting, and also the fact that much of the materia! was of little value, which fact would be borne out by **Mr. Stirling,** Queensland Salvage Controller, who, in company with **Mr. Conn,** Chiet Auditor for New South Wales, investigated a great portion of the material in Brisbane, and who informed me that, despite the fact that he selected bags at random, much of the rag concerned was in a filthy condition, gave off a nasty odour, crumbled in the hand and, in his opinion, had practically no value whatsoever. It was necessary for the sorters to wear gas-masks while sorting. 1694: *Supply Bill* [REPRESENTATIVES.] (No. 1) 1946-47. This is the material which the Deputy leader of the Opposition claimed to be of great value. Let us' now consider the contracts themselves. The only contracts that McLeod Bolton, Millar Ezzy, or S.W.I. were successful in tendering for were three parcels of mosquito netting. Each of the three firms submitted exactly the same bid, namely, £28 per ton. Yet **Mr. Bolton** is to-day prostituting the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League for business purposes. I intend to see that the league is put in possession of the plain facts of the case. Here are the tenders that were received for 20 tons of woollen pullovers - {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- What is the honorable gentleman endeavouring to prove? {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- That the people the honorable member has been vilifying and talking about were out-bidding all the others. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- What did the AuditorGeneral have to say about the making of contracts with an unregistered firm? {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -I shall deal with the Auditor-General's report later. The plain fact is that the Commonwealth was getting a better return by dealing with these people than it would have got by dealing with anyone else. In a letter dated 9th May, 1946, addressed to the Prime Minister's Department, **Mr. Conde** stated : - >I am inreceipt of your letters of the 12th April and 2nd May (reference No. AF27/2/1), together with attachments relating to further statements made in the Commonwealth Parliament by the Honorable E. J. Harrison, M.P., in connexion with certain activities of the Commonwealth Salvage Commission. > >In reply to your question in regard to the Prime Minister's proposed letter to **Mr. Lazzarini** dealing with **Mr. Harrison's** statements, I confirm my telephone intimation to you, that in my opinion the reply should be amplified. > >Whilst I have no reason whatever to vary, nor have I any desire to amplify my report forwarded to the Prime Minister on the 2nd April, 1946, I feel that from knowledge 1 have as a result of investigation, I should deal with the statements made by **Mr. Harrison** in Parliament on the 29th March, 1946, and also the text of Millar Ezzy's letter of the 28th March, 1946. > >There is no doubt in my mind that the " refugee firm "- {: .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr Abbott: -- Are they refugees or not? {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- They are not refugees. The letter continues - >There is no doubt in my mind that the " refugee firm " referred to by **Mr. Harrison** on the above date, and on previous occasions in Parliament, is Messrs. Associated Salvage Distributors, of Melbourne, principals of which are Messrs. Baron and Brilliant, both of whom are reputable Australian citizens - having become naturalized British subjects over twenty years ago. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- Will the honorable gentleman read the Auditor-General's report ? {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- I have the signed copy of the Auditor-General's report. I myself was instrumental in getting him to initiate the inquiry and I shall read in a moment what he reported about this specific matter. The honorable gentleman is obviously not anxious to learn the facts. The letter from **Mr. Conde** continues - >So far as I can. ascertain, the transaction referred to is quite in order and covered approximately twenty-five hundred-weight of sorted material, and I reiterate that in the light of the special report made to the Minister by the Auditor-General in December, 1945, no useful purpose can be served by pursuing the matter further. ... It is my opinion that in view of earlier remarks regarding the Salvage Comimission (see my report dated 2nd April, 1946), no further time should be spent pursuing or investigating statements made by **Mr. Harrison** in connexion with the particular transaction referred to by him. > >With compliments,yours truly, > >G. Conde. **Mr. Conde** refers to the Salvage Commission in about half a dozen lines. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- Because he did not call any witnesses. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- That is because he says that the honorable members's statements are not worth investigating, and. I would rather take his word. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- Several reputable men would have liked to be called to tell what they know. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- The honorable member has political " stooges " who will go into court and swear anything. {: #subdebate-29-0-s7 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER:
Mr. Barnard -- Order! If the Deputy *Supply Bill* [20 June, 1946.] . *(No.* 1) 1946-47. 1695 Leader of the Opposition continues to interject, I shall have to take action. {: #subdebate-29-0-s8 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
ALP -- Th is is what **Mr.** Conde says - > *No.* 2. - *Terms of Reference* - *Salvage Commission.* My investigations have failed to reveal the existence of any agreement or transaction with a " refugee firm ". During the course of my investigationsI have examined the Auditor-General's special report, dated 3rd December, 1945, addressed to the Minister of Home Security and Works, the Hon. H. P. Lazzarini, on the accounts and transactions of the Commonwealth Salvage Commission. In view of the Auditor-General's comments in this special report, I feel that the terms of reference do not call for any further comment on my part. I now intend to state what the AuditorGeneral said in his report to me on this transaction. I admit that his report is critical of the early stages of the Salvage Commission's existence. In common with other Commonwealth instrumentalities, when the war was raging, the Salvage Commission met with great difficulty in staffing, and it had to employ, not exactly for accounting, hut for recording, people of little experience, as is well known by the honorable member. I pause to emphasize that **Mr. Schrceder** proved conclusively by reference to the records of the Registrar-General's Department in Melbourne that the firm concerned was registered before any contract was made by it with the Salvage Commission. With all due respect to the AuditorGeneral and his staff, I say that they made a blunder in this matter. Either they did not check the dates or they accepted as true what some one had told them. So I do not care what the Auditor-General says, because the records prove that the firm was registered before it made a contract with the commission. Anyway, this is what the AuditorGeneral said in his report to me - >So far as the commission's records are concerned, the quantity of clothing transferred to " rag " was not appreciably large, but, as stated previously, the records are not reliable. In any circumstances, it would not be possible for auditors to check the genuineness of any such transfers nor are they able to ascertain from the inquiries made whether any large quantity of clothing was unjustifiably classified and sold as rag. The chairman has stated that a quantity of clothing was included as "rag" in a particular sale and has reported fully to the department his reasons for so doing. It is not possible for me to express an opinion whether such transfers wore justified by the state of the market for worn and obsolete clothing at the date in question, but I have no reason to doubt, that chairman of the commission acted in good faith in the matter. *[Extension of time granted.]* That is the only reference made by the AuditorGeneral to this matter. I asked him to inquire into it. The honorable member for Wentworth may shout as much as he likes, but **Mr. Conde** says, "No further time should be spent pursuing or investigating statements made by **Mr. Harrison** in connexion with the particular transaction referred to by him ", and the Auditor-General says there is no justification for further inquiry. **Mr. Schroeder** is cleaning up the transactions that are left over and, now that the National Security Regulations under which the Salvage Commission was established have been repealed, the , whole "show " will soon be closed. I have not the slightest intention, regardless of the threatening words and looks of the honorable member for Wentworth, to do anything more about this matter. He can do whatever he likes to move me to further action through the House or on his own account, butI am. satisfied with the position, and am convinced that all he is out for is party political capital. I will take no more notice of anything he says about the matter. {: #subdebate-29-0-s9 .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY:
Richmond -- We have listened with great interest to the Minister for Works and Housing **(Mr. Lazzarini)** endeavour to answer the serious charges against the administration of the Salvage Commission. One must sympathize with the Minister in his efforts to vindicate himself and the commission. He said that some of the sorters in Brisbane had to wear gas masks before they could handle some of the materials referred to in this debate. I should think that gas masks are necessary to ward off the aroma of some of the transactions complained about by the honorable member for Wentworth **(Mr. Harrison).** The Minister fled the House as soon as he made his garbled and inappropriate speech in which he tried to drag red herrings across the trail. In spite of his last words to the effect that 1696 *SupplyBill* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *(No.* 1) 1946-47. regardless of what the honorable member for Wentworth might do he would give no royal commission or any other inquiry into these matters, if he valued his reputation and sincerely believed that he and the commission could repudiate the charges, a royal commission is the sort of investigation he ought to welcome. I have never witnessed a more sorry spectacle than the flight of the Minister from the House as soon as he had concluded his remarks. He has virtually fled from the chamber, because he is afraid to face criticism. I endeavoured, as did other honorable members, to follow his statements, but nobody could have done that after the first five minutes of his speech. It was a hotchpotch of extracts from statements and reports. He did not defend his officers, and he merely confused the House. Most serious allegations have been made by honorable members of the highest standing. They have been made by duly elected leaders of the Australian Country party and the Liberal party. Two senior member, of this House have declared that there is reason to believe that improper conduct has occurred in connexion with the affairs of the Commonwealth Salvage Commission. Although the Minister for Works and Housing made a sorry attempt at refutation, the charges are sufficiently serious to warrant the most effective investigation that could be authorized by the House. No honorable member is in a position to determine exactly what is the truth of the matter. On both sides the word " liar " has been carelessly bandied across the chamber. 1 was described last night by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction **(Mr. Dedman)** as having made a lying statement in respect of certain allegations and disputed remarks by that Minister. If time will permit, I shall show to-night, that the Minister's word cannot be taken. I shall now quote from some of the statements of the Minister for Works and Housing. He has admitted that 1,500 tons of salvage was sold to the Melbourne firm of Brilliant and Baron, an unregistered company when the deal was made, for £17 a ton. He has admitted in the course of his remarks that subsequent fenders were at least £28 a ton, and that amounts of £55 and £60 a ton were men tioned. If this firm secured 1,500 tons of salvage at £17 a ton and the value was about £100 a ton, as alleged by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Harrison),** there is a clear difference of about £124,000 that must be accounted for to the taxpayers of Australia. The allegation contained in the statement of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition may mean that 1,500 tons of salvage worth £100 aton was made available to an alleged refugee firm at £17 a ton, showing a profit of between £50,000 and £70,000. That is a serious charge, and the people who are called upon to pay taxes and to subscribe to public loans have every right to know whether there is substance in the charge. If the Minister wishes to clear the name of his department he should welcome the appointment of a royal commission. This is not the only allegation against the Commonwealth Salvage Commission and the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. The Leader of the Australian Country party **(Mr. Fadden)** has made allegations which have not yet been investigated and he has called for an inquiry by a royal commission. I recall for the benefit of the Minister for Works and Housing, who is not game to stand up to criticism, and who denied that the Auditor-General had made certain criticisms, what was said in his report on this matter. I now notice that the Minister has returned to the chamber, after he has been practically dragged back. I shall quote from a report on the matter by the Auditor-General to the Minister, which the latter did not quote to the House. Only one copy of the report has so far been made available. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- It is not the report which the Auditor-General made to me. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- This is what he said in his report to the Parliament. The following are extracts from a special report to the honorable the Minister on the accounts and transactions of the commission: - > *Contract with Firm of Salvage Distributors.* - There are other features in this contract which, in normal circumstances would be considered far from satisfactory - > >No tenders were apparently called. > >Dealing was made with a Melbourne syndicate, not. yet registered as a firm, in respect of materials lying in Sydney and Brisbane. *Supply Bill* [20 June, 1946.] *(No.1)* 1946-47. 1697 {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- That is not true. {: #subdebate-29-0-s10 .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- If the Minister says it is untrue and the Auditor-General declares that it is true, the only way to get at the truth is to have the matter investigated by a royal commission. The Auditor-General is responsible to the Parliament and the people for a truthful report. Ifthe Minister denies its accuracy the matter should be examined, not by an investigator appointed by the Minister, but by a High Court or a Supreme Court judge. The report goes on - >The syndicate apparently had no stores under its own control in Brisbane or Sydney. This has caused a number of difficulties with deliveries to apparently "agent" firms. > >Terms which appeared unusually easy were made as regards use of commission's stores, and delivery of materials at the commission's expense. > >The mixing of "clothing" with "rag'' in bulk sale. > > *General.-* The phases of the commission's activities commented on show a number of serious weaknesses in the control and supervision of the undertaking. That report was made first to the Minis- ter, and then the Auditor-General, apparently not satisfied with the action which the Minister was taking, made a. report to the Parliament. But the report is not yet available to honorable members unless they go to the records room to peruse the only copy in the House. The Minister feels most righteous about the administration of his department and appears to consider that everything is " above board ". He believes that no refugee firms are raking off £70,000 of the taxpayers' money in clear profit. He believes, also, that **Mr. Bolton,** the president of the Returned Sailors. Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia in New South Wales is prostituting, to use his own words, that organization because **Mr. Bolton,** feeling so strongly about the subject, tried to bring it before the league. If the Minister considers that his position is so strong, he should welcome an investigation by an authority other than his ownappointee. I do not say a word about **Mr. Conde.** I have never met him and before to-night I had never heard of him." But, whatever and whoever he is, I suggest that he is not competent to conduct the inquiry which is required. Only a royal commission, which would drag the truth out of witnesses by cross-examination, and test their statements made on oath, will be acceptable. That is the only way in which a satisfactory report can be obtained on a serious matter of this nature. The Minister went to a great deal of trouble this evening to tell us precisely nothing. He admitted in the very early stages of his speech that he had been dissatisfied. He told us to-night that as long ago as the 30th July, 194.5, which was about three months before the honorable member for Wentworth asked questions in the House on this subject, he was suspicious of what was happening, because he went to the Treasurer **(Mr. Chifley)** and asked for the services of a Treasury official to make an investigation. So that not only the honorable member for Wentworth but also the Minister himself had suspicions. What do we find? As soon as the matter is brought into the open by the Opposition, the Minister does everything in his power to cloak, shield and protect, those who ought to be dragged before the bar of public opinion. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell: -- That is a scandalous statement. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- It is not so scandalous as the circumstances that the Minister is endeavouring to cloak. He has something to hide if he is not game" to appoint a royal commission. If he allows this matter to remain in its present position, he stands convicted of the maladministration of his own department. Maladministration! That is indeed a very serious charge. If he is content to sneak into a hole, and be covered and protected, as he imagines, by a report of an individual who does not take evidence on oath, he is very easily satisfied with his reputation as an administrator. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- I place my reputation against that of the honorable member. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- I do not question the Minister's personal reputation, but I suggest that his ability to administer the department is called into serious account, and if he desires to protect his reputation, he should act as he has been asked to do to-day. I regret that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction **(Mr. Dedman)** has fled from the chamber, although it does not 1698 *Supply Bill[REPRESENTATIVES] (No.* 1) 1946-47. matter greatly whether he is present or not, because his contribution to the enlightenment of the chamber is generally to distort completely whatever information he is supposed to convey. Last night, he cited as his authority for approval of the Government's plans for the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land, officials of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia including the federal **president, Mr. Millhouse,** and the president of the Victorian branch, **Mr. Holland.** I have here a copy of the latest issue of the journal of the New South "Wales branch of the league, *Reveille,* in which is published an article by **Mr. K.** H. Todd, New South Wales country vice-president of the 'league. **Mr. Todd** wrote that, in spite of the many promises made by the Commonwealth and State Governments, no real progress was taking place in the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land. He declared that nothing was done during the whole of the period that was covered by the Minister's speech last night. When the honorable gentleman was addressing the House, **Mr. Speaker** threatened to name me because I interposed that the Minister was making inaccurate statements. I do not propose to characterise them in his own very forthright language as " lying " statements. " Inaccurate " will suffice for the moment. In order to bolster up an extraordinarily weak case, the Minister declared that preceding governments had made not more than £250 available to. settle each ex-serviceman on the land after World War I. He repeated that remark several times, and **Mr. Speaker** threatened to name me when I attempted to correct the Minister's statement. I desire to prove that the Minister cannot even tell the elementary truth when dealing with these important matters. {: #subdebate-29-0-s11 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER:
Mr. Barnard -- Order! I ask the honorable member to use parliamentary language. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- The expression which I used is parliamentary language. I propose to read the following extract from the Commonwealth *Year-Booh* for the year 1922, at page 935 - > *Settlement of Soldiers on theLand.* -In 1917 at the Premiers Conference in Melbourne it was agreed that the States should undertake the work of settling soldiers on the land but that the Commonwealth should finance them for this purpose. ... . The original arrangement provided that the Commonwealth should take the responsibility of finding up to £500 per settler as working capital for improvements, implements, seed, &c, an amount which was subsequently increased to £625 per settler. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable member is not in order in referring to a debate which took place last evening. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- I am participating now in. a debate on the Supply Bill, and I am showing what was expended on the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land after the last war. The quotation continues - >As the number of applicants exceeded the estimates, . . . {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order ! I have already ruled that the honorable member is not in order in continuing a discussion which took place last night. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- I submit, **Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker,** that I am not offending against your ruling. I am discussing a matter relating to the repatriation and rehabilitation of ex-servicemen, and am pointing out what was done after the last war. The officialY *ear-Book* also states that the number of applicants for further assistance from the Commonwealth exceeded the estimates of the States, and that the basis of the agreement arrived at by the Premiers in July, 1920, was. that the Commonwealth should advance the States a flat rate of £1,000 for every settler. It will be seen, therefore, that in 1922. exactly the same amount was made available as to-day, despite differences of costs since then. I mention these things in order to show how little reliance can be placed upon some statements made in this House by persons whose statements we should be able to accept without question. A few days ago a Labour conference in New South Wales made its periodical disavowal of communism. Once in about every three years a similar disavowal is made. It is a kind of triennial gospel, and it is rather significant that it precedes a. general election by about three months. It is also significant that, as soon as the election is over, officials who are avowed communists are appointed to responsible positions by the Labour party. In almost every government department there are avowed communists. The Department of Post-war Reconstruction is notable in this respect. Some of the men whom I have in mind, if not avowed communists, are what in the United States of America arc called " fellow travellers ". That is to say, they are persons who travel along the road with communists,' but do not actually join the party, because they believe that they can render it better service by not doing so. I shall not cover ground which has been so well covered to-day by the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Menzies),** but shall content myself with saying that we on this side would have far more faith in the protestations of the Labour movement and of the Government against communism if appropriate action were taken to deal with those who wield the real power today in the Commonwealth. {: #subdebate-29-0-s12 .speaker-KGX} ##### Mr HAYLEN:
Parkes .- I had not intended to encroach on the time allotted for this debate had it not been for the rather pressing invitation from the honorable member for Wentworth **(Mr. Harrison)** to the Minister that " the subject should be thrown open so that the threads may be tied together ". Whenever an invitation of that sort is given I think that something should be done about it. Some of the remarks of the honorable member for Wentworth call for analysis by an honorable, member on this side of the chamber. L refer particularly to the persistent and almost nauseating way in which the problems of returned service men and women are used in this chamber for political purposes. In view of the overwhelming vote given to the Labour party by service men and women at the last general elections, those Opposition honorable members who use this chamber for publicity purposes, in an attempt to convince their hearers that the welfare of servicemen depends on their efforts, have little ground for their statements. They should know that there is in office a Government which is prepared to look after the interests of the men and women who served their country so well during the war. Those who look with unbiased eyes on the re-establishment and employment legislation of this country will admit that when it is fully implemented it will be one of the finest pieces of legislation in the interests of service men and women that has ever been enacted. I am tired of those small Australians who consistently gibe at every effort made in the interests of those who served their country well, during the war. Men who, in the classical language of the late Prime Minister, "interposed their bodies between us and the enemy ". There are many who for political purposes make claim to be concerned greatly about the welfare of service men and women in this connexion. The worst offender in this House is the honorable member for Wentworth. He is continually " beating the drum " in his profession of interest in the men who fought. At times it is difficult to understand what he is talking about, because his remarks consist of sound and fury rather than logic. Time after time in this chamber he noisily propounds propositions which, even on the face of them, cannot be sustained. His latest effort: is in connexion with the rehabilitation of service men and women. With tears in his eyes and a sob in his voice, he told us of the strange experience of a serviceman who went, first, to 'the Printing Industry Employees Union, and then to the Master Printers Association, seeking employment, only to be told that applications for employment in the industry were being turned down. In considering the claims of the men who fought w<must have understanding. I should hate to bc associated with a government that, was not sufficiently courageous to say to a serviceman that it did not propose to spend £500 or more to train him in a profession or calling which would inevitably lead to unemployment and the dole. There are more romantic minds among- the professional returned soldiers in this House than among the levelheaded men who have been on service. Returned servicemen do not want jobs which have no future; they want training which will fit them for employment in which they can engage for the rest of their lives. If, instead of talking vague generalities, members would study the Government's rehabilitation plans, and would exercise patience, they would see that those plans provide a wonderful charter. However, it is well known that the fight is on, and. that .service men and women are being used mercilessly by the Opposition as "a battering ram in their election campaign. Members opposite would have the men and women who fought for their country believe that their only friends are in the Opposition ranks. There is an effort to have publicity-minded soldiers appointed to positions in various organizations. This is a dangerous thing to do to the serviceman, and it is to be greatly deplored. Then, of course, when rehabilitation has ceased to supply further material for criticism of the Government honorable members opposite fall back upon the subject of preference. They read letters from their electors telling them stories concerning, their inability to get this, or that, form of preference. I ask honorable members opposite and the interests which they represent what of the other forms of preference which they could give to ex-servicemen instead of keeping them juggling on the unemployment line? {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- There is preference to unionists. {: .speaker-KGX} ##### Mr HAYLEN: -- I ask the honorable member what would happen to an exserviceman if he applied to-morrow morning to the Sydney Stock Exchange and said that he wanted to become a stockbroker? Would he be made a member of the exchange? Let us suppose that an ex-serviceman approached an organization of newsagents and asked for a newspaper block. Would his request be granted ? If an ex-serviceman wanted to obtain a licence for an hotel, would he' be able to obtain preference? Honorable members opposite know as well as I do that there is a real preserve in which preference, so far as they are concerned, is not to be given to the ex-serviceman. Finally, I come to the most callous and brutal practice in this matter, namely) that adopted by employers who, while mouthing their support of preference to ex-servicemen, advertise vacancies under a post-office box number. That is a practice about which **Mr. Bolton** should concern himself. Since he recently developed a column of his own in a Sydney newspaper, his main object seems to be to slam the Government instead of giving a factual picture of the real position. The box number advertisement is causing great embarrassment to exservice personnel in search of employment. It is the means by which the big business man is evading the giving of preference to ex-servicemen. ' It is evident that the interests which honorable members opposite support wish to bring about, the failure of preference; and the exserviceman is realizing that fact. Certainly the mares' nests discovered by the honorable member for Wentworth make no real appeal when measured against the balanced judgment of the serviceman. When we . examine against the background of experience of exservicemen overseas what the Australian Government is trying to do compared with what other allied governments are doing for those who fought in the war, we find that our record is not unworthy. But the Government is obliged to stand up against the blitz of the press which indulges in the most dastardly misrepresentations. Within the last two weeks the most glaring case in this respect has been an article published by *Smith's Weekly.* That journal, like the honorable member for Wentworth in his political capacity, has no future; audit has no past. In a recent issue. *Smith's Weekly* blazoned on its front page the statement that 15,000 army deserters had been given clear discharges. The writer of the article suggested that the whole of the population of Australia should march on Canberra and demand that this slur on the fighting man should be removed. The fighting man is pretty tough but he is not given to moving on anybody except the enemy. His natural reaction to this article was that it had been written by an hysterical typist. That is how the article struck me. A report of that kind indicates that regardless of whatever ethical standard may have been observed by the press of Australia in the past this journal will stop at nothing in its lying to bring the Government into disrepute. The cold and sober facts of the matter were told by the Minister for the Army **(Mr. Forde).** In the "brilliant" story perpetrated by this typist in the absence of the boss, it was said that 15,000 deserters had* been granted clean discharges. The fact is that the Army authorities in Melbourne decided to do something about 7,000 illegal absentees who could not be discovered. Their whereabouts are unknown. The authorities decided to follow the practice which was followed after the war of 1914-18, of which there are so many battle-scarred veterans in this House, the object was to cut down army costs, and, incidentally, thereby help in the rehabilitation of the serviceman who saw through the whole of the job. As the war had concluded over twelve months ago, it was logical that a. re-examination be made of the army expenditure associated with detention camps; and the inevitable practice is that if these illegal absentees cannot be traced they are written off. What does *Smith's Weekly* suggest the army authorities should do? These men cannot be found and discharged in the ordinary way. Certificates are issued on which, contrary to *Smith's Weekly* allegation, is specifically endorsed the fact that they are. illegal absentees. By this means the authorities will save an expenditure of £4,000,000. That is the estimated cost of crowding these men. into detention camps, involving the services of provosts and the supply of those concerned in the conduct of such camps with uniforms, housing and food and all the impedimenta involved in sustaining a vast army being held in durance vile twelve months after the conclusion of the war. It has never been considered to be practicable, so long after the conclusion of hostilities, to deal with an army of deserters who cannot be found. As these illegal absentees could not be traced, it was decided to discharge them in their absence. The only thing which will accrue to them is their deferred pay which they earned during their service in the forces. They have earned that money, and no one would argue that it should not be given to them. In due course, if ever they present themselves they will lose their rehabilitation rights, their gratuity, their medals and privileges as servicemen which they would have retained had they earned an honorable discharge. The army authorities have been unable to communicate with them, because it is impossible to find them. In view of these facts, the story published in *Smith's Weekly* abounds in misstatements. With crocodile tears in her eyes, the writer of that article- suggests that the honest exserviceman feels bitterly that those men have not been rounded up. The article abounds with obvious insincerities, because wherever the words " clean discharges " or " honorable discharges " arc used the terms are quoted. That is an old trick of the journalist to avoid prosecution for libel. It is a trick of the man who is not. sure of his facts, but hopes against hope that the story will "get by" purely on -its sensationalism. I understand that the Minister forwarded to the editor of that journal a full copy of the statement which he made to the country on this matter. Nevertheless, thijournal published a second story on the subject, more scurrilous, absurd and stupid than its first article. I wonder what is to become of our journalistic ethics. 1 should like to know as a former journalist, what is to become of the fourth estate, of which I am a prideful member, if we do not take cognizance of the present drift, in this respect in Australian journalism. We do not mind its becoming the recorder of " chit chat " around the House. We have no objection to its being a second opposition to us as a Labour government. But. when it can foist a canard on the public, and can misrepresent, to the horror of journalists who are proud of the ethics of their profession, something very serious is happening. Always, these stories are associated with the re-establishment of the serviceman. It is a long-range plan to break down confidence in the only people who can help the men to whom we owe everything. I feel very strongly about the matter. In America, prizes are awarded for clean journalism. The Pulitzer prize of thousands of dollars is awarded to the man who is responsible for the best news story of the year. It may be necessary for the Government to come to the rescue of pressmen, since owners and proprietors are not prepared to do so, by offering a prize for decent, journalism. These stories, which are published for election propaganda purposes and do a dis-service to the ex-serviceman, should be considered very carefully by this House. An ethics committee has been established by the Australian Journalists Association. It 1702 *Supply Bill* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *(No.* 1) 1946-47. has had a very checkered career. Its requirements are simple - that a journalist shall report fairly what he has seen, and that the text of his story, without any embroidery by sub-editors or owners, shall appear in the newspaper. "When this ethics committee was formed, notices stating when its meetings were to be held were removed from the notice boards of several Sydney metropolitan dailies. Having had pointed out to it what may happen as the result of stories such as that which appeared in *Smith's Weekly,* it may be necessary for the Government to apply itself to the preservation of the decencies of life in this country. It may be necessary to suggest to journalists that they cannot do this by means of the solidarity of their own union, and that they cannot enforcetheir will upon the owners, who have completely disorganized them within the last ten years. It may be necessary for the Government to set up a statutory committee on ethics ; because journalism will last longer than the Liberal party, and will not change its name quite so rapidly. {: .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr Blain: -- Did the article to which the honorable gentleman has referred consist wholly of lies? {: .speaker-KGX} ##### Mr HAYLEN: -- I have analysed the article. If the honorable gentleman would like me to do so again in short, terse terms of simple English, I shall oblige him. I conclude on this note: It may be necessary to arrest at some stage the commercialization of newspapers, and their deterioration into electionand opinion sheets, for the protection of craftsmen among whom I have many friends; men who are, and should be, an ornament in the development of this country. Perhaps that stage will be reached when the Government asks journalists to establish an ethics committee with statutory authority. We may then be able to discipline people who disgrace a noble profession by writing such utter " bilge " in an endeavour to stir up the exserviceman, who has his own problems of reestablishment, in the hope that he will contribute to a failing cause, and to agitate the community on. what, after all, is a rotten issue. Debate (on motion by **Mr. Gullett)** adjourned. {: .page-start } page 1702 {:#debate-30} ### ADJOURNMENT {:#subdebate-30-0} #### Land Settlement of Ex-Servicemen Motion (by **Mr. Chifley)** proposed - >That the House do now adjourn. {: #subdebate-30-0-s0 .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
Barker · ALP -- I draw the attention of the Government to opinions that have been expressed by the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia in New South Wales in regard to soldier land settlement. The journal *Reveille,* the official organ of that body, reached me in Canberra this morning. On page 4, there is an interesting article headed, "Blue Print for Land Settlement" by Keith H. Todd, New South Wales country vice-president. " Financial assistance for purchase of single-unit farms would help settlers ", is the subheading. I shall not read the whole of the article. But certain passages in it should be brought to the attention of the Government, because I believe that they reflect the considered opinion of ex-servicemen in New South Wales in what, after all, is a very important matter. The article starts off with this statement - >In spite of the many promises made by the State and Federal Governments, no real progress has taken place in the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land. Later, it says - >Not one decent farm has been made available in the central division - the twenty-inch rainfall belt, described by **Mr. Tully** as the only land worthy of settlement for ex-service personnel. Can this be described as successful settlement? Bather is it not a glaring example of procrastination ? Later, it says - >Generally speaking, the New South Wales 1945 War Service Act makes provision for successful land settlement, the only trouble being continual delay in making farms available.As things are at present, it seems to be a case of shuttlecock between the Commonwealth and the State. Further on, it says - >In New South Wales, 15,000 men have applied for qualification certificates, 7,000 have been dealt with and issued with the required certificates. The bulk of these are men with overseas service of up to six years. Assuming that the Government can only make provision for 500 farms a year, some of these 15,000 men will be waiting from eleven to fifteen years. That is a lengthy stretch of time. Another quotation reads - >In the meantime their deferred pay, accumulated savings, and most important of all, their *Adjournment.* [20 J une, 1946,] *Answers to Questions.* 1703 youth, interestand enthusiasm have, to all intents and purposes, disappeared and they become disappointed, disillusioned and, in some cases, embittered men. My last quotation is this - >Finally, and most important of all, provision should be made for an increase in finance (at present £1,000) granted under the Reestablishment Act, and the State and Commonwealth Governments should agree to the purchase of single-unit farms. It is necessary that what has been here published should be impressed on the minds of Ministers ; although I doubt the capacity of anything other than theballotbox to make that very necessary imprint upon their granite-like outlook on this matter. Question resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 1703 {:#debate-31} ### PAPERS The following papers were pre sented : - Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department - External Affairs- W. D. Forsyth, A. H. Tange. Interior - C.W. A. Warde. National Security Act - National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and. designs (167). Wine Grapes Charges Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 88. House adjourned at 10.48 p.m. {: .page-start } page 1703 {:#debate-32} ### ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS *The following answers to questions were circulated: -* {:#subdebate-32-0} #### Australian Army: Permanent Officers {: #subdebate-32-0-s0 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: s asked the Minister for the Army, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is it a fact that an Army order has been issued which returns to their pre-war status and salary, all permanent officers who won promotion in the Australian Imperial Force? 1. If so, what alternative steps is the Army taking to retain the services of skilled and practised experts, with hard-won and invaluable technical knowledge? {: #subdebate-32-0-s1 .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows {: type="1" start="1"} 0. No. 1. See answer to No. 1. {:#subdebate-32-1} #### Volunteer Defence Corps {: #subdebate-32-1-s0 .speaker-F4T} ##### Mr Fadden: n asked the Minister for the Army, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. . Is it intended to recognize the services of members of the Volunteer Defence Corps including - (a) those who were on continuous service for a period of at least 28 days; and (b) those not within the above category? 1. Were members of the Home Guard in Britain made eligible for the Defence Medal irrespective of the length or duration of their service? 2. Will he consider the granting of similar recognition to the Volunteer Defence Corps, and make a statement to the House on the matter ? {: #subdebate-32-1-s1 .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: - 1.(a) Approval has been given to the award of the General Service Badge to members of the Volunteer Defence Corps who were - (i) enlisted, called up, or appointed for service with the Australian Military Forces for the duration of the war; (ii)served full time for a continuous qualifying period of not less than 28 days during the war; and (iii) have been honorably discharged. (6) It is not proposed to issue a badge to personnel who do not comply with the foregoing conditions. {: type="1" start="2"} 0. According to the British army order on the subject, it is necessary for members of the Home Guard to have had three years' service in Britain in order to qualify for the Defence Medal. 1. See answer to No. 2. Consideration is being given - (a) to the award of an Australian General Service Medal to certain categories of the Australian Military Forces, including members of the Volunteer Defence Corps, employed on full or part-time duty. The conditions governing eligibility for this award have not yet been finalized.(b) Advice has been received that His Majesty the King has approved of the institution of a War Medal for full-time personnel of the Armed Forces of the Empire. The medal will be awarded for non-operational as well as operational service. Full-time members of the Australian forces, both men and women, who have rendered 28 days' service during the war will be eligible for the medal. Members of the Volunteer Defence Corps who comply with the conditions of eligibility will be eligible for this award. {:#subdebate-32-2} #### Censorship : Brisbane Staff {: #subdebate-32-2-s0 .speaker-F4T} ##### Mr Fadden: n asked the Prime Minister, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Did he receive a letter, dated 11th August,. 1945, from **Mr. W.** T. Hughes, of Brisbane, enclosing a copy of a letter, dated 11th April, 1945, addressed to the late right honorable John Curtin, containing statements regarding certain members of the censorship staff in Brisbane? 1. Did the Prime Minister order any investigation into the grave allegations contained therein ? 2. If so, will he furnish a detailed reply to the statement made by **Mr. Hughes,** particularly with regard to the employment on the Brisbane censorship staff of the men referred to? 1704 *Answers to* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Questions.* {: #subdebate-32-2-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley:
ALP -- The answers to the right honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. A letter dated 31st July, 1945, was received from **Mr. W.** T. Hughes enclosing copy of a letter dated llth April, 1945, addressed to the late Prime Minister regarding certain members of the censorship staff in Brisbane. 2 and 3. - No. The matters referred to had previously been fully investigated by the Department of the Army following the receipt of earlier correspondence from **Mr. Hughes** and appropriate action taken where necessary. Food for Britain. {: #subdebate-32-2-s2 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: s asked the Prime Minister, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Following his trip to England, does he intend to initiate a gift of food to the United Kingdom ? 1. If not, does he intend to increase the quantity of food shipped to the United Kingdom ?. {: #subdebate-32-2-s3 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. No. 1. Every effort is being made to increase exports of food to the United Kingdom. {:#subdebate-32-3} #### Suits for Discharged Servicemen {: #subdebate-32-3-s0 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: s asked the Minister for theArmy, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is it a fact thatin 1944 contracts were made for the. manufacture of suits for discharged service personnel? 2.If so, were 100 different patterns subsequently available with a range of 32 sizes? 1. If not, how many patterns and sizes were available? 2. With which firm or firms was the contract made and what was the contract price for each suit?. 5, How many suits were made under this and any subsequent contracts? 3. What was the total amount involved in the contract or contracts? 4. Were these the suits referred to widely as " zoot suits " ? 5. Were all the suits manufactured under this or subsequent contracts taken by exservicemen ? 6. If not, what happened to the balance? 7. What is the Government doing at the present time to provide an ex-serviceman with a suit? 11.Is it a fact that recently the Government found it impossible to provide suits' for ex-servicemen and the Minister agreed to allow them to wear their Army uniforms after discharge? . 8. If so, does this position still exist? {: #subdebate-32-3-s1 .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Yes, by the Department of Supply and Shipping. 1. Yes. 2. See answer to No. 2. 3. In Queensland - Bishop and Woodward, Quintner and Son, Eshensky and Sons, Freedman and Company, Thomas Brown and Sons, J. Josephenson and Sons; in New South Wales - Wright, Stewart and Company, Murdoch's Limited,. H.R. Hayman, Lowes Limited, D. Solomon and Sons, Chief Clothing Company, S. Kruper, Esquire,Evers and Cohen, H. J. Cooney, S. Jenkins, H. Benjamin Proprietary Limited, Wholesale Tailors, Esquire Limited, Gowing Bros, Palmer, F. J. and Son, C. Rosenberg; in Victoria - Gatlin Levine, C. J. Wilson, Frieze Brothers, Wenig and Wise, Davies Doery and Company, E. J. Howard, K. and E. Rogers, J. Sackville and Sons, Josephs and Myers, C. R. Redrobe, J. W. Clark and Sons, D. and W. Benjamin, Ellison Brothers, Whittaker, David Lack, Joseph Cohen, Kitchen Clothing Company ; in South Australia - Ashford Clothing Company, Wilday Tailors Limited, S. A. Tailors, Wholesale Tailors. The contract price of the suits varied from 68s. to 70s. 4. 44,000 approximately. 5. Approximately . £160,000 on completed suits. 6. No. These were better-grade suits con cerning which there was no criticism. 7. Following a change of policy none of the suits were issued to servicemen but a cash voucher was issued in lieu. Consequently stocks were disposed of to the trade. 8. See answer to question No. 8. 9. When the Government policy was changed the Federated Retailers Association agreed to give priority to servicemen and certificates were issued to all personnel on discharge entitling them to preference for one suit, one hat, two shirts, one pair of shoes. If this arrangement is faithfully applied ex-servicemen should be able to secure satisfactory quality ready-made suits within a reasonable period of discharge. 10. Approval was given for ex-servicemen to wear Army uniforms after discharge where they experienced difficulty in obtaining a civilian suit from civilian sources within a reasonable period. 11. Yes. Tractors. {: #subdebate-32-3-s2 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: s asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. How many agricultural tractors were imported into Australia in 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, and the first three months of this year? 1. How many were distributed in each State in each of the periods mentioned? {: #subdebate-32-3-s3 .speaker-KQB} ##### Mr Scully:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - *Answers to* [20 June, 1946.] *Questions* 1705 Tractors released from 1st July, 1945, to 30th April, 1946, amounted to 6,157. {: type="1" start="2"} 0. Tractor releases to farmers for the financial years 1943-44 to 1945-46 were - Tractor control was not operating prior to 1943, and no reliable figures of distribution by States are available. The figures for tractors released to farmers do not agree with the import figures, owing to the normal time lag between the recording of unassembled units at main ports of disembarkation and the actual sale of the assembled tractor at widely scattered distributing depots. {:#subdebate-32-4} #### Meat Industry : Prices {: #subdebate-32-4-s0 .speaker-KIX} ##### Mr Hutchinson:
DEAKIN, VICTORIA n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What are the ceiling prices for meat (lamb, . mutton and beef) in the different capital cities of Australia? 1. What are the retail prices? 2. What are the export prices available to the producer? 3. What are the retail prices for meat in the United Kingdom (Australian currency) ? 4. What are the prices paid by the United Kingdom for Argentine beef? {: #subdebate-32-4-s1 .speaker-KQB} ##### Mr Scully:
ALP -- The information has been supplied to the honorable member. {:#subdebate-32-5} #### Canned Fish {: #subdebate-32-5-s0 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: s asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has his attention been drawn to a report in the Brisbane press of 1st Hay that a food control official had revealed that approximately 2,000,000 tins of salmon and pilchards had been released to the wholesale and retail trades ? 1. If so, (a) what were the approximate dates on which such release was made; (6) from which storages were they released; (c) what was the quantity of (i) salmon, and (ii) pilchards released to each State? 2. What procedure was adopted in determining the wholesalers and retailers to whom the commodities were to be released? 3. To how many (a) wholesalers and (b) retailers were releases made in each State? {: #subdebate-32-5-s1 .speaker-KQB} ##### Mr Scully:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. No, but it is known that approximately 2,400,000 lb. of tinned salmon, pilchards and American sardines were released from Army stocks. 2. (a) March and April, 1946; (6) Army stores in New South Wales and Victoria; (c) quantities in pounds - Queensland - {: type="1" start="3"} 0. On the advice of the Federal Advisory Panel on Foodstuffs Disposals which was nominated by the various trade organizations, distribution was handled by one primary wholesaler in each State. Further distribution was made to secondary wholesalers, who then supplied the retail trade. 1. Owing to transport difficulties distribution has not yet been completed and final figures are not known. 1706 *Answersto[REPRESENTATIVES.]. Questions.* Primary Production. Contracts with Great Britain. {: #subdebate-32-5-s2 .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, *upon, notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. When were contracts originally entered into with the United Kingdom Government for the purchase of Australia's principal pri- mary products? 1. What was the actual value of exports to the United Kingdom under these contracts of (a) wool, (b) butter, (c) cheese, (d) eggs, (e) beef and veal, *(f)* mutton, *(g)* lamb, (h) pork, (i) sugar, and *(j)* other commodities, in each year since the contracts were first entered into? {: #subdebate-32-5-s3 .speaker-KQB} ##### Mr Scully:
ALP -- The information is being obtained and will be furnished to the honorable member as soon as possible. {:#subdebate-32-6} #### Australian Army: Food Stocks {: #subdebate-32-6-s0 .speaker-K6Q} ##### Mr BERNARD CORSER:
WIDE BAY, QUEENSLAND · CP s asked the Minister for the Army, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has his attention been drawn to a report in the press of 18th May, 1946, that hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of foodstuffs were deteriorating in Army stores and that in a storehouse at Bulimba there was sufficient food to supply the entire population of a large-sized English town for at least a week? 1. It it a fact, as stated, that this food includes 1,500,000 lb. of flour, 9,500 cases of tea, 500,000 lb. of sugar, between 50,000 and 60,000 cases of condensed milk, 1,000,000 lb. of bacon, 8,000 lb. of candy, 480 barrels of vinegar, also large quantities of rice, tinned vegetables, jam, dried fruits, coffee, golden syrup, apple juice and brown sugar? 2. Is it a fact, as stated, that flour and dried fruits have become weevil infested and that the bacon is going blue mouldy? 3. If so, who is responsible for allowing this deterioration of food? 4. If the facts are not as stated, willthe Minister inform the House what quantities of food are stored at Bulimba and what quantities of such food have deteriorated? 5. What action is it intended to take against the person or persons responsible for any deterioration of food? 6. Is it further a fact that similar quantities of valuable foodstuffs are in Army storehouses throughout Queensland ? 7. Whatdoes the Government intend to do with foodstuffs in Army stores in Queensland and elsewhere? {: #subdebate-32-6-s1 .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The stores referred to in press article consist of foodstuffs of reciprocal lend lease origin returned by the United States Forces, to the Commonwealth. They are held in various storehouses, some of these are at Bulimba. The Army is the custodian of these unwanted surplus stocks, all of which have been declared to the Commonwealth Disposal Commission for disposal. 1. Some of the quantities stated agree with, or approximate those taken over from the United States Forces. In other cases quantities are exaggerated. Some of the foodstuffs referred to were sold before the press report referred to was published. Others have since been sold. 3 and 4. A quantity of flour was weevil infested when taken over from United States Forces. This has since been sold. There is no record of dried fruits being weevil infested. No report has been received of any bacon going blue mouldy but it was infested with skipper fly when it was taken over. All bacon was sold before the date of the press report. 2. Most of the foodstuffs stored at Bulimba have already been sold. 3. In view of the fact that the foodstuffs were handed over by the United States Forces, it is not possible to take action or determine the person or persons responsible for deterioration of food? 4. See answer to 1. Although quantities of foodstuffs handed in by American authorities are held in other Army storehouses in Queensland the majority has now been sold. 5. The Commonwealth Disposals Commission, th rough its agent the Commonwealth Food Control, is responsible for the disposal of all surplus food stocks, and after the foodstuffs are submitted for veterinary examination they arc first offered to the British Ministry of. Food, then to Unrra for relief purposes. {:#subdebate-32-7} #### Sugar {: #subdebate-32-7-s0 .speaker-K6Q} ##### Mr Bernard Corser: r asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is it a fact that sugar was rationed in Australia to enable us to meet our obligations to Great Britain and other needy countries? 1. If so, will the Minister inform the House of the quantities of sugar exported to (a) the United Kingdom, and (b) other countries each year since rationing was introduced and during the first three months of this year? 2. What were the relative exports of sugar in 1939, 1940, 1941, and the months of 1942 before rationing was introduced? 3. Is it intended to vary the ration scale or completely remove sugar rationing? {: #subdebate-32-7-s1 .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde:
ALP -- The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. . There is a number of reasons why sugar rationing was introduced in Australia. The recognition of our obligations to other Empire countries and our Allies was one of them. Other important considerations were - *(a)* national defence policy which necessitated the building up of reserve stocks in Australia ; (b) the fall in sugar production.. *Answers to* [20 June, 1946.] *Questions.* 1707 {: type="1" start="2"} 0. The quantities of sugar exported each financial year since rationing was introduced in August, 1942, have been as follows: - The total Australian exportable surplus is purchased by the British Ministry of Food and the destination of each shipment is determined by the Combined Food Board in Washington. In determining the destination of Australian sugar, the Combined Food Board considers regional distribution so as to make the best use of available shipping space. In consequence much of Australia's export sugar has been directed by that board to areas bordering the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Australia's contribution, whilst not going directly to Britain as in previous years, has been compensated for by supplies being made available by the Combined Food Board from sources closer to Britain. {: type="1" start="3"} 0. The total exports of sugar in the war years prior to 1st July, 1942, were as follows: - Inaddition to the published figures, considerable quantities of sugar were exported in the forms of processed foodstuffs to overseas and Pacific theatres of war. Furthermore, large quantities of both refined sugar and sugar products were supplied to Allied Forces based on. Australia. These latter represented exports in so far as the Australian public was concerned. Another factor affecting exports which must not be overlooked, particularly during the latter years of the war, wasthe shortage of shipping space, which presented great difficulties. The Government, at one stage, was faced with providing additional storage space for sugar which, though available, could not be shipped overseas. Irrespective of the shortage of shipping space, a principal factor responsible for any reduction in exports is the quantity of sugar produced. Production fell from 928,000 tons in 1939 to 523.000 tons in 1943. Production improved in 1944 and 1945 to approximately660,000 tons. The principal sugar producing area (North Queensland) was a war operational centre, and production was unavoidably affected by the shortage of mechanical appliances, labour and fertilizers. {: type="1" start="4"} 0. It is not the practice to make statements on Government policy in answer to questions. Rationing is, however, continually under review by the Government. {:#subdebate-32-8} #### Coal-minino Industry: Subsidies; Coalcliff Colliery; Queensland Mines {: #subdebate-32-8-s0 .speaker-F4T} ##### Mr Fadden: n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has the Government subsidized unpayable coal-mines? 1. If so, what are (a) the names of the mines, (b) the State in which each is situated, and *(c)* the amount of subsidy paid each financial year in respect of each mine to the latest date for which figures are available? 2. What was the rate of absenteeism in each mine during the relevant period? 3. How many strikes have occurred at each mine during the relevant periods and what was their duration? {: #subdebate-32-8-s1 .speaker-KCF} ##### Mr Dedman:
ALP -- The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answers : - 1 and 2. Subsidy payments are made on confidential information under NationalSecurity (Prices) Regulations which preclude divulging of the information sought. For the information of the honorable member, it is pointed out that classification of a mine as " unpayable " would be difficult in the present marked shortage of supplies. Existing ceiling prices entail subsidy payments to most mines, at least of any substantial production. 3 and 4. Answers to questions 3 and 4 are practicable and relevant only if detailed information in connexion with questions 1 and 2 could be made available. {: #subdebate-32-8-s2 .speaker-F4T} ##### Mr Fadden: n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. When was government control of the Coalcliff colliery undertaken? 1. What was the loss during each financial year of operation since and what is the accumulated loss to date? 2. What are the detailed items (together with respective amounts) taken into consideration in arriving at the losses mentioned above? 4.What were (a.) the cost of production and *(b)* the selling price per ton of coal each yea r ? 3. What was the rate of absenteeism and how did it compare with all other coal mines throughout Australia? 4. How many strikes occurred throughout the relevant period? What were their duration, and what was the production loss on each occasion? 5. What were (a) the total production of coal and (6) the average number of men employed each week during the relevant period? {: #subdebate-32-8-s3 .speaker-KCF} ##### Mr Dedman:
ALP -- The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answers : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 9th March, 1944. 1. The Government's plan of price stabilization prevents recoveries, by increases in prices, of rising costs of production. If Coalcliff mine were being managed under conditions similar to those applicable to mines under private control, the accounts would include receipts from subsidies. This factor must be taken into account, therefore, in assessing the accounting figures, which are as follows: - Year ending 31st March, 1945, net loss,. £28,350 9s. 9d.; year ending 31st March, 1946, net loss, £27,652 . 3s. 2d.; accumulated loss to 31st March, 1946, £56,002 12s.11d. His Honour **Mr. Justice** Davidson, in his recent report on the coalmining industry, concluded that substantial monetary assistance by way of subsidy would have been essential if operations had been continued under non-governmental control. 2. Ordinary working expenses as per accounts, which can be obtained if desired by the right honorable member. 4. *(a)* (i) Cost of production for year ending 31st March, 1946, was 27s. 3.42d. per ton; (ii) cost of production ' for year ending 31st March, 1946, was 27s. 3.42d. ton. (b) Selling price per ton of coal each year, 21s. 2.909d. and 22s. 11.35d. The selling price is governed by the stabilization plan. 3. For twelve months ending December, 1944, production losses from absenteeism (all causes) was 22 per cent. For twelve months ending December, 1945, production losses from absenteeism (all causes). 14 per cent. For Southern District - For twelve months ending December, 1944, production losses ' from absenteeism (all causes), 14 per cent. For twelve months. ending December, 1945, production losses from absenteeism (all causes), 17 per cent. It is inappropriate to compare a colliery in any one district with collieries in other districts or other States; that is why the comparison is made with the Southern district in which Coalcliff is located. 4. For the nine months of control during 1944, there were three one-day strikes. The estimated production losses were 390 tons, 578 tons, and 733 tons respectively, a total of 1,701 tons. During the year ended 31st December, 1945, there were ten strikes. The duration and estimated production loss in respect to each strike were as follows: - Theten-days stoppage was a general strike of New South Wales coal mines in December, 1945. 7. (a) For the financial year ending 31st March, 1945, 165,111 tons of saleable coal were produced. For the financial year ending 31st March, 1946, 132,189 tons of saleable coal were produced, being a total of 297,300 tons for those two financial periods. (b) For the period 1944-45, there were 340 employees at the colliery exclusive of 23 on permanent compensation. For the period 1945-46, there were 342 employees at the colliery exclusive of 39 on permanent compensation, and during the last three months 337 employees exclusive of 51. on permanent compensation. {: #subdebate-32-8-s4 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley:
ALP y- On the 26th March, the honorable member for Moreton **(Mr. Francis)** drew attention to references in the report by **Mr. Justice** Davidson on conditions existing in Queensland coal mines, and asked the following question : - >Will the Prime Minister approach the Queensland Minister of Mines with a view to ensuring that the existing archaic and highly dangerous conditions will be remedied as quickly as possible, so that danger to men may be avoided and coal production substantially increased, thus facilitating the speedy rehabilitation of the men of the fighting services ? In reply I inform the honorable member that the matters referred to were taken up personally by the chairman and members of the Board of Inquiry immediately on their return to Brisbane after their investigations in August, 1945, when the whole of the facts were placed before the Minister for Mines, Queensland, **Mr. Gair** and the Under Secretary for Mines, **Mr. -Staines.** Matters of safety and health, such as those raised, come solely within the jurisdiction of the State . Mines Department within the meaning of their Coal Mines Regulation Act and the Commonwealth has no power to intervene in such matters, but I have no doubt that the State authorities will give full consideration to the findings of the Davidson Board of Inquiry in respect of matters affecting Queensland. {:#subdebate-32-9} #### Shipbuilding {: #subdebate-32-9-s0 .speaker-K6Q} ##### Mr Bernard Corser: r asked the Minister for the Navy, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What number of ships was being built in Australia at the 1st June, under government programme? 1. Where are such ships being built and what is the tonnage of each? 2. What further ships have been ordered to bc built since 1st June, under Government programme, and to what shipyards have such been allocated, and what is the tonnage of each ? 3. What other ships have been approved under govern ment programme, what is the tonnage and to what yards have these ships been allocated? {: #subdebate-32-9-s1 .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. The number of ships under construction at 1st June: Broken Hill Proprietary, Whyalla, two D class 2,980 tons deadweight capacity vessels generally known as 2,500 tons deadweight and four B class 6,000 tons deadweight capacity vessels. Evans Deakin, Queensland, two D class and two A class 9,000 tons deadweight capacity. Walkers Limited, Maryborough.' Queensland, five E class 550 tons deadweight capacity. Cockatoo docks, New South Wales, one A class. State Dockyard. Newcastle, two D class. A class vessels are actually in vicinity of 9,300 tons deadweight capacity. {: type="1" start="3"} 0. No ships have been ordered since 1st June, 1946. 1. Cabinet has approved of post-war construction programme of 25 vessels of between 2,000 and 5.000 tons deadweight capacity to be constructed overa period of five years. Preliminarypl ans have been completed and specifications have been completed and specification nearing completion. Road-making Equipment. {: #subdebate-32-9-s2 .speaker-K6Q} ##### Mr Bernard Corser: r asked the Minis ter for Works and Housing, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. In view of the adjustment of the lendlease agreement with the United States of America, will he now make available to local government authorities and contractors', necessary road-making plant which has been parked at Rocklea and other places in Australia pending authority for disposal, especially as government works and organizations have already drawn their supplies from earlier available stocks? 1. Ts it a fact that owing to delays by the Australian Government in deciding to purchase largequartities of earth-moving and other heavy engineering equipment originally offered by the American Authorities to Australia and which was urgently required by local governing authorities and others in this country, this equipment was purchased by the New Zealand Government? 3.If the opportunity to purchase such heavy engineering equipment is not admitted to have been lost by delaying a decision by theAustralian Government, why was such earth-moving plant lost to Australia? {: #subdebate-32-9-s3 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Surp'us road-making plant at Rocklea was actually under offer to government authorities before the lend-lease settlement, and is now in process of being cleared. In any case, instructions have been issued to ensure that equipment arising as a result of the settlement of lend-lease is marketed without delay. 2 and 3. All offerings by the Americans have been scrutinized by competent Commonwealth authority in relation to known Australian demand, and considerable quantities have been purchased. There is no knowledge of New Zealand Government purchases, but possibly these may relate to United States property offered outside of the mainland or Australian operational areas. Apart from purchases of United States equipment on the mainland, Australia has secured stocks offered *ex* United States Pacific Island bases, and is now negotiating further purchases from such areas. {:#subdebate-32-10} #### Housing {: #subdebate-32-10-s0 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: s asked the Minister for Works and Housing, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. How many houses were constructed in each State during the period 1st July, 1945, to 3 1st December, 1945, under government housing schemes? 1. How many houses were constructed in each State by private construction for the same period? 2. How many war service homes were constructed in each State for the same period? 3. What is the estimated number of houses to be constructed in each of these categories during the period 1st January, 1946, to 30th June, 1940? 4. How many houses have been constructed so far in this period? {: #subdebate-32-10-s1 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: - 1, 2, 3 and 4. The same questions were addressed to me by the honorable member for Fawkner last session and were answered by mc on 7th March (see *Hansard,* Vol. 1, page 123). {: type="1" start="5"} 0. Information as to houses built privately is supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician. Figures for the period ending 30th June, 1946, are not yet available. As soon as they become available I will make a statement setting out the complete figures in respect of government and private construction. {:#subdebate-32-11} #### Telephone, Telegraph and Postal Charges {: #subdebate-32-11-s0 .speaker-K6Q} ##### Mr Bernard Corser: r asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, *upon notice -* >Will he consider a substantial reduction in postal and telegram and telephone rates, to come into operation in the next financial year and to operate from the 1st July? {: #subdebate-32-11-s1 .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell:
ALP -- The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer : - >The matter of effecting a reduction in the postal, telegraph and telephone rates is one which must be considered in relation to budgetary requirements as a whole. The Government is still faced with exceptional financial obligations resulting from Australia's participation in the war and it is important that as much as possible of this expenditure should be met from general revenue. Whilst the Government is naturally anxious that the charges for post office services should be based on a low and favorable scale, it is regretted that, for the reasons mentioned, it is not practicable to reduce the tariffs at this stage or to indicate when it will be possible to do so. Honorable members may rest assured, however, that the matter will be reviewed sympathetically immediately the financial conditions permit. {: #subdebate-32-11-s2 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: s asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Will the Government consider an early removal of the war postage tax? 1. In view of the substantial post office surpluses what are the reasons for its present impositions? {: #subdebate-32-11-s3 .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell:
ALP -- The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The Government intends to give consideration to the removal of the warpostage tax immediately the financial conditions permit. 1. Post office earnings are paid into general revenue, and the special charge of a halfpenny per postal article was prescribed by Parliament for the purpose of assisting the Government to meet the exceptional obligations arising from the war. Unfortunately, these obligations did not end with the cessation of hostilities and heavy commitments resulting from the successful prosecution of the war have still to be met. Consequently, it is regretted that the circumstances preclude the discontinuance of the surcharge at present. {:#subdebate-32-12} #### Petrol {: #subdebate-32-12-s0 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Will he consider the abolition of petrol rationing ? 1. Can a. higher grade petrol than the present " pool petrol be placed upon the market? 2. Is a reduction on the sales tax on petrol contemplated ? {: #subdebate-32-12-s1 .speaker-KCF} ##### Mr Dedman:
ALP -- The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answers : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The forward petrol supply position, because of the continued necessity to conserve dollar funds and to the fact that sterling production of petrol is not yet sufficient to provide for the unrationed demandsof all sterling areas, is not yet such as to enable rationing to be abolished completely. Approval has been given, however, for an increase in the present private motorists' ration to the extent of approximately one-third, effective as from 1st July. An examination of the rations of classes 3 to 7 which cover combined "business and pleasure " usage is being made with the object of adjusting those rations also to cover an increase equivalent to that now approved for the purely pleasure motorist. These concessions are as far as can be gone at this stage. 1. The overseas supply authorities have advised that it will not be possible to provide any higher grade of petrol for some months, due to the need for obtaining continued maximum production from sterling refineries which can be achieved only by restricting production to the present single quality. 2. This question is one for the Treasurer. {:#subdebate-32-13} #### Basic Wage {: #subdebate-32-13-s0 .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr Holt: t asked the Treasurer, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What is the official estimate of the depreciation in purchasing power to-day compared with 1st July, 1939, of (a) pound sterling: (b) dollars United States of America; (c) pound Australian? 2. (a) What was the basic wage in the six capital cities at 1st July, 1939; (b) what is the basic wage in those capitals to-day? {: #subdebate-32-13-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley:
ALP -- The answers tothe honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Purchasing power over the goods and services included in the regimens of the respective official indexes of retail prices and rents of the countries referred to has declined between June, 1939, and March 1946, by the following, percentages: - United Kingdom 25 per cent.; United States of America 24 per cent.; Australia 19 per cent. 1. The Commonwealth basic wage in each of the six capital cities of Australia has moved as follows: -

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 June 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.