17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 p.m., and read prayers..
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesdaynext,at 3 p.m.
Mr.RUSSELL.- In view of the very acute shortage of cement for building and other purposes in South Australia, will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping ascertain whether it is possible to have shipments of cement brought to South Australia from Tasmania, in which State, I understand, there are ample supplies which could be exported to other States?
-I realize the necessity for having sufficient supplies of cement available for use in South Australia. If there are adequate supplies in Tasmania, all that is needed in order to have them transferred to other States is the provision of shipping. I shall consult the Minister for Supply and. Shipping with a view to having the necessary shipping provided.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the press report containing the allegation, made at a recent meeting of the Sydney Trades and Labour Council, that the Australian Communist party was dishonestly collecting money in factories, on the pretext that it was to be used to finance a campaign for the maintenance of the wages of females in industry? As the Australian Communist party is nowa capitalistic organization which owns buildings and other property, as well as other assets, will the right honorable gentleman institute an inquiry in regard to the source of its funds, particularly the money collected by it from Labour organizations?
– I have not seen the statement containing the allegation mentioned. At the moment,I am not aware of any warrant for instituting an inquiry concerning the affairs of private citizens. I was interested to learn from the honorable member that the Communists are now adopting the methods of the capitalists, and thattheir organization is becoming a capitalistic concern. I had rather suspectedthat for some time.
-Recently, the Australian Labour party conference held in Sydney passed resolutions denouncing the activities ofCommunists in industrial unions in Australia. In view of that fact, and of the disturbance that is being caused to industry in this country at the present time, does the Prime Minister intend to bring down legislation for the protection of industrial unions against these revolutionaries and to assist industry to return to normal ?
– I am aware that the Australian Labour party has carried resolutions dissociating itself from Communist philosophy. I have not in mind, at the moment, the introduction of special legislation to deal with industrial troubles. Already there is on the statutebook fairly comprehensive industrial and other legislation which, within the constitutional limitations of the Commonwealth, can deal adequately with the situation.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping whether, as broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission yesterday, the oil companies have decided to continue the petrol pool beyond the date previously announced as the probable date of its termination, and that the pool may now continue until the end of this year? Does the determination of the length of time during which the pool shall continue to operate rest entirely with the oil companies? What effect is the continuation of the pool likely to have on petrol rationing and the price of petrol? Is there any law applicable to cartels? If so, will it be invoked to prevent the continued exploitation by this monopoly of petrol users in Australia?
– I did not hear the announcement to which the- honorable member referred. I understand that the petrol pool was a voluntary arrangement between the companies, but that it had the backing of the Commonwealth Government during the war. The Commonwealth Government has no power under the Constitution to prevent the continuance of the arrangement if the companies concerned desire to carry it on, because the Commonwealth has no power to control monopolies. Honorable members will recall that this was one of the powers which the Government asked the people to transfer to the Commonwealth. I shall discuss the matter with my colleague, the Minister for Supply and Shipping, and supply to the honorable member any further information available.
– The arrangement in regard to drought relief provides that unless a wheat-grower had sold a crop in 1944 he should not be entitled to receive drought relief in respect of his 1945-46 Crop. This matter is touched upon in a letter which I received from the Premier of Victoria, the Honorable John Cain, from which I read the following extract : -
It was made clear at the Officer’s Conference that if the Commonwealth Government decided to meet half the cost of the scheme, it would only be on condition that’ the proposed relief payments would be restricted to those farmers who had suffered losses from the drought “ of 1944 and who were again seriously affected by the drought conditions prevailing in certain districts during 1945.
The provision excludes ex-servicemen and others who have only just started in the industry. Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture confer with the Victorian Government with a view to removing this apparent anomaly?
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is unavoidably absent, but I shall bring to his notice the matter mentioned “by the honorable member, and ask him to discuss it with the Government of Victoria. Drought relief is distributed by arrangement with the State governments, but if an anomaly exists the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture might be able to prevail upon the Government of Victoria to do something about it.
Service to Western Australia
– The Minister for the Interior will remember that, from time to time, he has been asked to arrange for the running of a third train from Perth to the eastern States in order to provide improved travelling facilities. For this reason, and because it is hoped that this season two football teams from Western Australia will visit the eastern States, will the Minister arrange for the early running of a third train, so as to relieve congestion arid advance the interests of Australia’s great national game?
– Yes. In response to representations made by the honorable member and his colleagues from Western Australia, the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner has for some time been considering the running of a third train. He advised me last week that if the South Australian Government would agree to provide the necessary connecting train, he would be in a position to add an additional train in the week commencing on the 22nd July. “Negotiations are still proceeding with the South Australian Government, and it is hoped that finality will be reached shortly.
Position in Queensland.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the people of Brisbane and many other parts of Queensland are suffering severely from the effects of the greatest industrial dislocation in the history of that State because of the failure of the State Government to bring about a speedy settlement of strikes of meat employees, coal miners and waterside workers? Is he also aware that the citizens of Brisbane are suffering food shortages, * that industry has almost come to a standstill, and that housewives are to-day suffering greater privations than they experienced in the worst years of the war ? In view of this, . and of the fact that the industrial disturbance in Queensland is likely to spread to other States, will the Prime Minister give the House an undertaking -that he will take immediate steps to handle these disputes on a Commonwealth basis in an effort to remove, with a minimum .of delay, the privations of the people of Queensland 1
– I am aware of the unfortunate circumstances obtaining in Brisbane, and, -indeed, .in Queensland generally, as the result of the industrial trouble at the meat works. I made it clear last week that that dispute is under the jurisdiction of the State Arbitration Court, the workers concerned, with few exceptions, being covered by State awards.
– What about the waterside workers strike?
– I am reluctant to -intrude upon the jurisdiction of the State Government, which has the sole prerogative to deal with this matter. Some honorable members, when it suits their purposes, object to the Commonwealth interfering in industrial matters which come within the jurisdiction of the States.
– That is introducing debatable matter.
– I apologise for digressing. I fully realize the seriousness of the position and I have been constantly in touch with the Premier of Queensland, as has the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde), in an endeavour to bring about a settlement of the dispute. I had hoped, in fact 1 had been assured from day to day, that a solution of the trouble would be found ; but no settlement has yet been reached. The Commonwealth Meat Controller, Mr. Tonkin, unofficially tried to arrange a conference of the parties concerned, but was not successful. So far I have seen no reason why the Commonwealth should intervene, as the State Government has sovereign rights in this matter.
– Has the Prime Minister any information concerning the completion of the memorial to Australian servicemen being erected by the British War Graves Commission in Tobruk? If the memorial has been completed have any plans been made for Australian representation at its unveiling, and if no decision has yet been made will the right honorable gentleman consider the claims of representatives of the Rats of Tobruk Association to attend - the unveiling ?
– I confess to not. being familiar with all the circumstance.’ of the matter raised by the honorable member, but I shall ascertain whether it is possible to supply full information. His suggestion will be considered.
– The Sydney Morning Herald to-day carries the following despatch from Washington, dated the 27th June : -
I ask the Prime Minister whether the terms of the American loan to Great Britain will force revision of Empire trade preference and whether he discussed that aspect with the British Government on his recent mission overseas.
– I have not seen the statement referred to by the honorable member. It is a long story and it would only weary the House to traverse all the circumstances of the arranging of the loan to Great Britain by the United States of America. I understand that the British Government did agree, as one of the terms of the loan, to participate in a trade and employment conference. That carries us back to the famous Article 7. That conference will deal with tariffs, among other matters. The Government of the United States of America issued a formula for that conference setting out the subjects that ought to be dealt with. The British Government concurred in that formula. It was forwarded to us with the suggestion that we concur also. The Commonwealth Government decided to intimate that itwas only prepared to attend at such a conference, but was not prepared to commit itself to any formula. We shall go to the conference prepared to make and receive suggestions. That is our position in the matter of the conference. The honorable member for New England will remember that Mr. Churchill, when Prime Minister of Great Britain, gave in the House of Commons, what I think was an undertaking. He said that he had discussed the matter of Empire trade preference with the late President of the United States of America, Mr. Roosevelt. I think he rather implied that the trade proposals did not interfere with the prin ciples of Empire trade preference. However, that was merely a statement made in the House of Commons, and I do not know whether any agreement was made on that matter. As to the honorable gentleman’s question, there have been certain preliminary discussions on the subject of Empire preference. I intimated in reply to a question by. the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwan) that the Government would do all it could to retain the present Empire trade preference. I do not know that we can commit the British Government and the other parties to the Ottawa agreement. I am convinced that our views on the matter are correct. All I can say is that no extensive discussions have taken place with the British Government about Empire trade preference. It is proposed that such discussions be held about next October. They will be on an official level in the first place.
– In view of the drought conditions in the wheat belt of New South Wales at the present time and the possibility of a crop failure, will the Ministerfor Commerce and Agriculture make a survey of the fodder position so that if the crop does fail, stock feeders will not have to make undue demands on reserves of cereals?
– My colleague is unavoidably absent. I shall ask him to give consideration to the matter.
Incom e Tax Concession - Cattle Dip near Alice Springs.
– Will the Treasurer announce, as early as possible, whether the Government proposes to continue, in full or in any modified form, the tenyear immunity from tax of the income from primary production of the residents of the Northern Territory? This immunity, which was granted by the Lyons Government as an incentive to people to settle in the Northern Territory, will expire on the 30th June, 1947. The failure of the Government to announce its policy is having a serious and unsettling effect on the pastoral industry, and my question is prompted by a desire to resolve that situation. If the pastoralists sell their stock during the next twelve months, the proceeds will certainly be exempt from income tax.
– Order ! The honorable member’s remarks go beyond the bounds of a question.
– If the same stock were held until, after June, 1947, the proceeds of their sale might be heavily taxed. In the absence of a policy declaration by the Government, this uncertainty will result in the sale of many breeding cows, young cattle and only partly fattened cattle, to the lasting detriment of the cattle industry of the Northern Territory.
– The Government has already been asked “to make -a reasonably carty decision regarding the present tax concessions: Some time ago .the honor able member for Adelaide presented a petition to me in relation to the matter, and other honorable members also have made representations. All I can say is that the subject is receiving consideration, and I hope that a decision will be reached at a reasonably early date.
– Last week, I asked the Minister for the Interior a question, relating to the dipping of cattle at Alice Springs. Has the honorable gentleman yet Obtained any information regarding
Che matter, which is very urgent?
– When replying to ;i question asked by the honorable member for Wakefield last week, I undertook 10 secure additional information. I find now that on the 29th May, I authorized expenditure of £4,000 for the purpose of constructing a cattle dip near Alice Springs. Following this authorization, a site was selected at the 16-Mile bore OUt.side Alice Springs, and an instruction was given. that work was to proceed immediately. After the recently-appointed Administrator, Mr. Driver, had made an inspection, a report was received that this site could not comply with, the South Australian restriction which provides that cattle must be trucked 24 hours after dipping. Therefore a site closer to the r trucking yards would be necessary. Mr. Driver reported also that a South Australian stock inspector, who had been in Alice Springs for the last two months, had informed him that he had not seen any ticks on any of the cattle, or on any of the hides of slaughtered cattle. Mr”. Driver proposes’ t<5 confer with the South- Australian authorities, Commonwealth Veterinary Officers and the Administration at Alice Springs in air endeavour to ascertain the facts. From the information available, it does appear that the South Australian- Government’s restriction requires a further investigation, and Mr. Driver’s action” iri this respect seems the practical approach.
. leaver- The North’ eni Australia Development Committee was appointed by the Commonwealth, Queensland and Western Australian Governments to plan the development of Northern Australia in a co-ordinated way, and in a way which recognized that the Commonwealth has responsibilities to parte of the north not directly under its jurisdiction. The most important of these responsibilities is, of course, defence. The committee is responsible to ;i Policy Committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Premiers of Western Australia and Queensland and myself as the Commonweal th Minister1 responsible for the Northern Territory. F.t consists of two members appointed by each of the two State governments’ concerned, two representing the Department of the Interior, for the Northern Territory, with the Director-General of Postwar Reconstruction as chairman. Its members’ ‘ are*- Dr. H. C. Coombs (chairman); Mr. J, A. Carrodus (vicechairman); Dr. A. E. V. Richardson; Mr. j., R. Kemp and “Mr. I. W. Morley, repre’senting the Government of Queensland ; and Mr. R. J. Dumas’ and Mr. W. A. Leslie, representing the Government of Western Australia. I indicate, at the outset, that the work of the committee is not merely to prepare a- blueprint for the north which is to be rigidly adhered to, but also to co-ordinate development as it progresses a and so give the required emphasis to projects of highest priority. The task of the committee is therefore envisaged as extending over a considerable period.
The area with which the committee is concerned is north of latitude 26 degrees from the. Indian Ocean to longitude 141 degrees east, then south to the 29th parallel of south latitude, east to 144 degrees of east longitude and then north to the Tropic of Capricorn east to the Queensland coast. It will be observed that the whole of the Northern Territory is included in the area. The map may be inspected in my office.
The terms of reference include four main general objectives and a number of specific items for consideration and report by the committee. Theystate that -
The committee shall examine and initiate proposals to be financed entirely by individual States and the Territory or jointly with the Commonwealth Government, having as their objectives -
an increase in population:
the welfare and development of native inhabitants of the area;
increase in value of production; and (4) best utilization of the lands and other resources involved.
In particular, the committee shall inquire into and report upon -
) Measures necessary for the development and expansion of -
Industries including (a) pastoral, (b) agricultural, (c) forestry, (d) mining, (e) marine, (f) fuel and power, and (g) processing and manufacturing industries.
Services including (a) communications and transport, (b) water supply and irrigation, (c) housing, community facilities and town planning, (d) medical, and (e) educational services.
(a) Major developmental works, (b) immigration, (c) war service land settlement, and (d) soil erosion and methods of its control. (3)(a) Taxation, and (b) tariffs.
Any other proposals, works or schemes which, in the opinion of the committee, will promote the development and settlement of the northern portions of Australia.
Generally, the past record of development in the north of Australia is most unimpressive. By1 939, after more than 80 years of settlement, the total nonaboriginal population in areas north of the Tropic was only 282,000, of which 200,000 were concentrated along the eastern seaboard, 73,000 in the remainder of Queensland and about 4,500 each in
Western Australia and the Northern Territory. In all pioneering countries, knowledge of the resources and economic potential is naturally very scanty. Northern Australia is no exception, and this has given rise, in the past, to some fantastic and extreme statements such as “ country fit only for the blacks “ or “ country of unlimited potentialities “. The truth lies somewhere between these extremes. Some parts of the north are undoubtedly worthless desert, whilst other parts receive a high annual rainfall; but even here half the year is dry, and if agriculture on any scale is to occur, expensive water conservation and irrigation plans must be put into effect. It is only in parts of the coastal belt, the adjacent areas of Queensland, and one or two other smaller localities, that anything like an adequate survey of resources has been made. Accordingly, one of the items of major importance to which the committee directed its attention is the survey of the resources of the area. Considerable mapping work had been done by military authorities during the war years. Much, however, remains to be done, and the National Mapping Council has approved a plan for the survey and mapping of the north. As a part of this plan, the Royal Australian Air Force is due to continue its aerial photography of the area as soon as weather conditions permit. The areas to be photographed are those within the red lines on the map.
It is already known that the value of the land varies considerably throughout thearea under review. It is therefore taken as a ruling principle that inquiries should be concentrated in the first place on those areas about which sufficient is known to indicate that development of them is possible. This would enable capital expenditure on developmental works to be concentrated in selected productive localities and would provide a more economic policy, at least in the early stages, than would the spreading of our available capital resources over too wide an area. Such areas are the DarwinKatherine, Ord-Victoria River, Barkly Tablelands and Burdekin regions.
On the recommendation of the committee, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has organized a reconnaissance survey in the spheres of ecology, soils and pastures. The survey of the Darwin-Katherine region, is regarded by the Northern Australia Development Committee as a matter of urgency, as it is in this region that the bulk of war-time capital expenditure has taken place, and because the next few years will witness a further heavy capital investment by the Commonwealth Government in the rebuilding of Darwin and in the development of the areas adjacent thereto. It has been arranged that there shall be attached to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research party a Commonwealth geologist, whose duty it will be to pay particular attention to the possibility of developing water supplies by means of boring.
Following discussions between the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) and myself, arrangements have been finalized for the resumption of geological surveys in the Northern Territory on a permanent basis. Attention will be given not only to the requirements of the mining industry, but also to the very important matter of advising on sites for bores for the development of underground’ water supplies. Geological and geophysical surveys for oil and coal will be carried out in the vicinity of the Fitzroy River, in the Kimberleys. Although this work was initiated prior to the establishment of the committee, it will form an important part of the survey of the resources of the north.
Already the Government of Western Australia has carried out the preliminary survey in connexion with the Ord River damming and irrigation scheme, and is. conducting research into the pastures, crops and soils of the proposed irrigation areas. On the recommendation of the committee, the Commonwealth is to be actively associated, on a 50-50 basis, in the further and more detailed investigations, and will collaborate with scientific, technical and economic personnel.
The matter of rebuilding Darwin has already come before this House. Naturally, there is a close link, through “officers of my department, between the Northern Australia Development . Committee and the Commonwealth department which deals with this matter.
In some northern areas, the war has provided considerable stimulus to develop-
Mr. , Wilison. ment. Roads, airfields, and other works which were constructed for defence purposes, will remain as a permanent asset. In other areas, the effects of the war have been little short of disastrous, for, in addition to enemy destruction - which fortunately was not very extensive - the war has left a legacy of deferred maintenance and disrupted industries. Roads and other public utilities must now be reconstructed, administration, social services and industries must be re-established and the lives of the people must be generally rehabilitated. These are urgent, pressing problems, which are being dealt with as speedily as possible by the three governments concerned. The plans for development and expansion must, in some degree, await the outcome of the surveys and investigations to which I have referred. The rehabilitation and development of the pearling industry may be regarded as an illustration of the manner in which urgent problems are being dealt, with. On the recommendation of the committee, the three governments concerned have nominated .expert officers to consider the matter.. The committee’s report, which deals with the recruitment and training of labour, marketing, the procurement of ships, gear, &c, research and other matters, is now before the policy committee.
The committee is also giving urgent attention to the disabilities experienced by families and individuals living in isolated northern areas. It is well known that the lack of social services and amenities of life is a serious deterrent to development, and has contributed in some areas of northern Australia to a serious decline of population. The governments are anxiously awaiting the committee’s report on the action which should be taken to overcome this problem.
On the standing agenda of the committee is the development of the natural economic regions of the north. Although such schemes as that of the Ord River and the rebuilding and development of the Darwin region, may have a certain parochial appearance in the replanning of the north, this is deceptive, as each natural region will be developed as a whole; although some regions, as I have already indicated, occupy a higher priority than others. The regions that are receiving early attention are those shown on the map. 0:her specific matters which have already been brought to the. notice of the committee, and on which preliminary investigations are in progress, include : (a) the development of the rnining and pastoral industries; (6) the development of the Blair Athol coal-field in Queensland; and (c) irrigation, hydro-electric and flood control schemes on the rivers in northern Queensland. The Blair Athol and Burdekin River development projects are in the survey stage, and it is expected that a full report will be put before the committee at an early date.
To our north ure hundreds of millions of people who are existing at present in sub-standard conditions, and in backward economies. But economically these countries are. stirring, and they constitute a growing potential market foi- the output of all the industries that can be established in Australia, particularly’ in the north, which is 2,000 miles nearer to these neighbouring lands. Oriental development, therefore, is a direct challenge to Australia fully to develop its northern resources and thus reap the benefit of assisting in the raising’ of productive and living standards throughout the East.
I lay on . the table the following paper : -
Northern Australia Development Committee - Statement by the Minister for the Interior on the work of the Committee. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Blain) adjourned.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs know that very little consideration has been given to the needs of exservicemen who wish to establish themselves in businesses dealing with the sale of food ? The Rationing Commission will not grant them advance coupons for the purchase of meat, sugar and butter. Will the Minister see that instructions are issued to the commission to enable exservicemen to set themselves up in businesses of the kind mentioned?
– I shall discuss the matter with the Minister for Trade and Customs with a view to having a statement prepared on the subject. The honorable member will” realize that, as it is necessary to export as much food as possible to Great Britain, the rationing of meat and butter must be continued. This fact must be taken into consideration by the Rationing Commission when deciding whether to issue advance coupons to allow for the opening of more food shops.
Payments to Ex-Prisoners of War
– I ask the Minis<;r for the Army to hasten arrangements for the payment of allowances to returned prisoners of war. I have before me one case which has already been referred to the Minister several times. It is that of a. prisoner of war,’ a corporal, who was discharged from the forces with a private’s pay, although he was assured that he would receive a corporal’s pay. That was seven months ago, and, although he has written frequently to head-quarters on the subject, he has not received the extra money. As the difference amounts to 4s. a day over the whole period of his service, the matter is important to him.
– If the honorable member -will supply me with particulars of. the case mentioned I shall have it investigated immediately. I agree that such matters should be dealt with as quickly as possible. However, not knowing the facts of this case, I cannot pass judgment on it, but I shall give it my early attention. ‘
– J. have received a letter from the Bush Nursing Association of Tasmania complaining that it is impossible to obtain roofing tiles for necessary buildings connected with its work. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping do what he can to expedite the delivery of tiles to Tasmania?
– I realize the need to make supplies of tiles and other roofing materials available to Tasmania so that the housing programme may be expedited.
There is, of course, a grave shortage of shipping at the present time, as the honorable member knows. However, I shall bring his representations to the notice ofthe Minister for Supply and Shipping, with a view to having an improvement effected.
Application to Industrial Offences
– The Minister for Health and Social Services, speaking in the Senate, said that the Government would nothesitate to enforce the provisions of the Crimes Act against employers engaged in illegal lockouts, and persons who incited others to strike, providedevidence were available to justify prosecution. I ask the Prime Minister whether that was a statement of government policy, or merely an expression of opinion by an individual Minister? If it was a statement of government policy, will the Prime Minister say what the Government proposes to do to enforce the provisions’ of the Crimes Act?
– I have not seen the statement referred to, but I shall look into the matter, and see whether I Can give the honorable member more information.
Pensions for Dependants ofvictims.
– It was reported some time ago that Cabinet had decided to pay pensions at war-pension rates to dependantsof those who lost their lives as a result of the sinking of the Montevideo Maru. Can the Minister for Repatriation say when it is intended to begin the payment of those pensions?
– I shall have a full report prepared on the subject.
Charges ofBungling - Statements by General Blamey and Air ViceMarshal Bostock.
– In view of the charges by General Sir Thomas Blarney and Air Vice-Marshal W. D. Bostock, that continuous and sustained bungling atRoyal Australian Air Force Headquarters, Melbourne, hampered the operational units of the Royal Australian Air Force during the Pacific War,will the Prime Minister arrange for an inquiry by some competent authority with a view to revealing the organizational weaknesses of the Royal Australian Air Force, so that they can be corrected when the service is reorganized ? In view of the allegation by Sir Thomas Blarney that the removal of Air Vice-Marshal Bostock and Air Vice-Marshal Cole from the Royal Australian Air Force was accomplished in a manner worthy of Fascism, will the Prime Minister arrange for the inquiry to cover the grounds upon which a number of Air Force officers were retired recently, and the manner in which they were selected for retirement?
– I have just read one article of a number stated to have been written by Air Vice-Marshal Bostock, andI haveread some strictures made previously by General Sir Thomas Blamey. Both these men feel somewhat aggrieved, and I treat statements from either of them with the greatest caution. I understand that the Minister for Air is to return to Australia to-day, and I propose to bring to his notice the statements of Air Vice-Marshal Bostock. I have not seen any statements by General Sir Thomas Blamey criticizing the administration of the Air Force, but if the right honorable member will let me have particulars of them I shall havea statement prepared.
Debate resumed from the 21st. June (vide page 1718), on motion by Mr. Calwell -
That the billbe now reada second time.
– We are now resuming the debate on the second reading of a billto provide for the broadcasting of theproceedings of Parliament.. The measure refers to a Subject which is novelto this Parliament, and of great interest to the public. The matter can be discussed free of all party predilections. Indeed, no party issues are involved. The wholeproblem is one which concerns members of Parliament as such and the public generally. As to the desirability of broadcasting the proceedings of Parliament, I have- had a look at the views which I expressed to the Parliamentary Committee on Broadcasting and I see no reason to alter what I then said. Perhaps’ I may be” permitted to quote some Of my comments. Iri a letter to the chairman of the committee I said -
As a general principle, I think’ that it is desirable that the public should have the fullest access- to parliamentary discussions, there are sti’ll some newspapers which give a very extensive report o”f parliamentary debates but there are’ Others which give little account of what is actually said in Parliament.
The case for broadcasting is therefore a strong, one.- lt is desirable that the electors should he iri a position to know what were the actual words spoken by a member of Parliament. It is equally important that they should be in a position,, by actually hearing, to assess the personality and significance of the speaker. In one sense, the ideal Parliament would be one in which all debates’ were carried on in the presence of all the people. “
I venture to say that that is true; but these remarks lead to the conclusion, which apparently is shared by the Broad-; casting Committee, that,, if there is to he a broadcast of a debate in the Parliament, the whole debate should be broadcast and not merely some portion of itThere are various good reasons for that and I shall. say something about them in a moment; but meanwhile, I draw the attention of the House to the fact that the bill provides for the establishment of a committee consisting of members of both Houses - and there is now a proposal to enlarge that committee - and that that committee shall have responsibility, among other things, foi; apportioning the time or determining the hours during which the debates shall be broadcast. It happens in this country that we have two Houses of Parliament, and- it is proposed to broadcast the” debates iii both Houses during the experimental period. I understand that in New Zealand the debates in the Upper House are not broadcast, and consequently’.the whole of the debates iri the Lower House can be put on the air. Here, however, where the debates in both Houses are to be broadcast, for a* portion of the time of the parliamentary fitting the House of Representatives will be on the air and for a portion of the time the Senate will be on the air. Nobody can say in advance how the apportion ment of time will he made or what principle will be applied’ or’ otherwise in determining’ such apportionment; but this arrangement does lead to the Conclusion that either the broadcasting of an interesting debate- in one’ House will be abandoned half way through, or we shall have periodical switches with rather kaleidoscopic results to the general public. I say with great respect to the proponents of this bill that the broadcasting of a portion only of the proceedings in this House is thoroughly undesirable. In the first place, if the object of broadcasting is to give to the people a direct. account of the transactions of the Parliament, that “account should be complete. If some speeches are broadcast and others are not, the effect will be to give an, unbalanced picture of the Parliament to the listenerin. Of course another effect - and we all know this to be true - will be that within a limited period out of the total period there will inevitably be some “ jockeying “ for positions - members of all parties will be in it - and some attempt to concentrate on what is regarded as a period in which there is deemed to be a good’ listening public.
– That is not a .new practice.
– No; but as far as the general public is concerned, debates are reported by the newspapers and, as I shall point out later on, must be reported in certain circumstances fairly. I will come to that in a moment. Meanwhile, the first effect of broadcasting for only a portion of the time will inevitably be that some members will have an opportunity to go on the air and others may have none whatever. I take the greatest exception to that. I believe very firmly that if through a public instrumentality there is to be a. broadcast of the debates of this House, every honorable member, whether he sits on the back bench or the front bench, should have equal opportunity to have his speech heard by the people who are listening in. And the moment that we adopt a’ provision which’ means that only a portion of the debate is broadcast the opportunity to present a true total picture of the debate. in the Parliament is lost. I have no illusions about this matter. I am not sitting <Vn a back bench. I occupy a position in this Parliament which means that, for all practical purposes, whenever I desire to take part in a debate I may do so. Therefore, I personally have great advantages in debate in this House ; but I have no illusions about this. Some of the most important speeches may be made by honorable members who sit on the back benches, those who are new members or who, for various reasons, are not occupying positions on the front benches. If we are to have a true picture of the Parliament we must have a whole picture.
The second aspect that troubles me is this: There is a provision in clause 14 of the bill which is designed to create privilege for the broadcasting authority. As we all know, absolute privilege attaches to the word spoken by members of Parliament in the Parliament. That is an old privilege which goes right back to the time of the Stuarts; but that privilege does not automatically attach to the person w_ho reports or broadcasts the proceedings pf the Parliament. Clause 14 reads -
No action or proceeding, civil or criminal, shall lie against any person for broadcasting any portion of the proceedings of either House of the Parliament.
I know that some amendments have been circulated, but they do not touch the point I am making here. Let us treat the words “ any person “ as applying to the Australian Broadcasting Commission and, under the foreshadowed amendment, to any other person authorized by the committee. The point is that the broadcast which is so privileged is a broadcast of a portion only of the debate. I do not wish to-be tedious or unduly technical in this matter; but this concerns the true privilege of this Parliament and the true relation between this Parliament and the public. The present position is perhaps not clearly understood. When somebody offers to report what has taken place in the Parliament that report is not possessed of absolute privilege. The same privilege does not vest automatically in the reporter, apart from the Hansard reporter, .as in the speaker on the floor of the House. What is privileged in a newspaper, for example, is a fair and accurate report of what has been said in the Parliament. Hansard, of course,
Ifr. SI Menzies stands in a special position, and the Parliament itself stands in a special position, because it can control its own privileges. Let me sort, it into three groups. In the first place, under section 49 of the Commonwealth Constitution, the privileges of this House are put under its own control.’ The words of section 49 are these -
The powers, privileges, and immunities of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, and of the members and the committees, of each House, shall be such as are declared by the Parliament, and until declared shall be those of the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom, and of its members and committees, at the establishment of the Commonwealth.
That rule, it will be seen at once by honorable members, whilst it deals with the privileges of honorable members and . of the two Houses of the Parliament, does not touch the question of the privileges of people outside, whether they be newspaper reporters’ or broadcasters.
– Broadcasting had not been thought of when the Constitution was written.
– Of course not, and this section does not deal with newspaper privilege either; it is confined to the privileges of the Parliament.’ The second matter- that I refer to is the Parliamentary Papers Act passed by this Parliament. In that there are three provisions that I refer to. The first is contained in sub-section 2 of section 3 which reads -
Each House of the Parliament shall be deemed to have authorized the Government Printer to publish the reports of the debates and proceedings in that House.
Section 4 says -
No action or proceeding, civil or criminal, shall lie against any person for publishing any document published under the authority of the Senate or of the House of Representatives.
By that provision, we have privilege for the printing of papers, because when the printing of papers is authorized the papers share the immunity created by section 4. Section 6 says -
Nothing in this Act shall derogate from any power or privilege of either House of the Parliament, or of the members of the Committees of either House, as existing at the commencement of this Act.
So, in those provisions, we have privilege given in absolute terms to parliamentary papers and to the Hansard report of parliamentary debates. I b-ve mentioned the privileges of the Parliament itself and the privileges of those who are not members of the Parliament but produce and print the records of debates and parliamentary papers. I turn from that to the position of the mau outside, and I take, in particular, the case of the newspaper reporter. The privilege of the newspaper in the reporting of Parliament is a common law privilege, and it attaches to fair and accurate reports of the debates in the Parliament. It is not an absolute privilege. It is what’ the lawyers call a qualified privilege, that is, it is a privilege that can be lost if there is proof of malice in the publication. There is a very good statement in a modern text-hook Gatley on Libel and Slander, which explains qualified privilege. I read a part of it to the House -
A fair and accurate report of any debate or proceedings in either House of Parliament, or in any committee thereof, is privileged. Such privilege will, however, be lost on proof that the defendant published the report maliciously. The publication is privileged on the same principle as a fair and accurate report of the proceedings in a court of justice is privileged, viz., that the advantage of publicity to the community at large, outweighs any private injury resulting from the publication.’
Then there is a quotation from the famous case in the House of Lords of Watson v. Walter. Walter was at that time, 1S6S, publisher of the Times in London. This is the quotation -
The analogy between the two cases is in every respect complete. . . . All the limitations placed on the one, to prevent injustice to individuals, will necessarily attach to the other; a garbled or partial report, or of detached parts of proceedings, published with intent to injure individuals will equally be disentitled to protection. . . . Whatever would deprive a report of the proceedings in a court of justice of immunity, will equally apply to .a report of proceedings in Parliament. In accordance with this analogy no protection is allowed to a report of a single speech out of several delivered in a debate, or in a day’s proceedings. .
Let me emphasize that to honorable members, because there is a. very widespread belief, I fear, that all you have to do in this country is to pick out of Hansard some statement that attacks some one or makes unpleasant remarks about him, and embody it in any circular you like, because, forsooth, it is privileged. Any one who contemplates such action has no ‘ protection whatever, because the only privilege that attaches to a report of what is said in this House attaches to a fair and accurate report which must not b«e garbled or partial.
– A timely warning.
– A timely warning, indeed, particularly at this season of the year. Let . me give point to that. I am not going through this merely to amuse myself. It is important in considering the matter of broadcasting and privilege. Suppose that Jones makes a violent attack on Brown in Parliament. It is not unknown.
– The names are wrong.
– That is right. I have selected two names which I hope will not engender heat anywhere. Suppose Jones attacks Brown in a speech and Brown replies, defends himself and denies the charges. No newspaper could claim privilege for publication of that -day’s debates if it published Jones’s attack and ignored Brown’s answer. That illustrates exactly what I mean when I say that the report must not be partial or garbled if it is to enjoy privilege.
– Does Mr. Fairfax know that?
– I do not know who knows it. The main thing is that we should know it. Suppose this bill becomes law. It is a hill to authorize two things. One is a partial broadcast of the debates in the Parliament and the other is to confer absolute privilege, not the qualified privilege of a newspaper, upon the broadcaster of that part of the debate. Now, let us apply the same case of Jones and Brown. Jones, speaking during broadcasting time in Parliament, makes an attack .on Brown, and Brown makes his reply in the same sitting, but at a time when the House is not on the air. Jones’s defamatory attack - I am assuming defamation - has gone over the air and is heard; Brown’s answer .has not gone over the air and is not heard. Honorable mem bel:s know what I am getting at. No newspaper, under the existing law, could do that. It would be shot, as we say, for libel. But, under this bill, Parliament will have authorized the making of a broadcast communication to the people that will enjoy privilege not possessed by any newspaper and may turn out to be grossly unfair to honorable members. This does not cut merely one way-. This may happen to anybody. Honorable members will agree with me that it is not inconceivable that one honorable member, meditating a very severe attack on another honorable member, will ensure that h’e makes it during the broadcasting time, and it will be a mere matter of” fortune if the ‘ man attacked is able to reply during the same period. In the course of informal discussions outside, .some one suggested that that objection might be” answered by broadcasting the whole of an individual debate. Of course that does not answer my point, because the man who has been attacked may already have spoken, and will not be able to reply to the attack in the same debate unless he makes a personal explanation. In many ways, that is a very unsatisfactory vehicle, and, consequently, he may make his reply on the motion for ibo adjournment of the House. If lie is not actually in his place in the House at the time, he may not bear of the attack until the following day, and might then make his defence. Surely all those considerations demonstrate that we should be extraordinarily careful before we decide that we shall send over the air a partial account of the debates in this Parliament, not only to all persons listening in Australia but also to those who might find themselves able to listen to it outside Australia.
I have always been troubled, as I am sure other honorable members have’ about one matter which I have regarded as a defect of the Standing Orders. Some honorable member makes, perhaps in the heat- of debate, a grossly improper statement about another- honorable member. Mr. Speaker intervenes, and orders the honorable member to withdraw the grossly improper statement. He complies with the request of the Chair. But the offensive remark still . appears in Hansard. It is still available to be reported to the public, and as the public do not pay too much attention to withdrawals, the statement may do almost infinite harm to the man to whom it was applied, long after the heat went out of the debate.-
– How would the Leader of the Opposition correct that?
– For a long time I have considered that the proper way in which to correct it is not by removing the privilege of Parliament - that would bc a tremendous step, and a very dangerous step - but by providing that when an honorable member has withdrawn a Statement, it shall not appear in the records of the Parliament, and no privilege shall attach to its publication outside.
– Once Mr. Speaker directs that fee remark shall be withdrawn?
– Once Mr. Speaker directs the withdrawal- of the statement and the honorable member concerned complies with the. request.
– That is a form of political censorship.
– It is not. We do not contend that it is political censorship when Mr. Speaker asks an honorable member to withdraw a statement that he has made about another honorable member. ‘We merely say that Mr. Speaker is preserving the decorum of the Parliament, and is endeavouring to maintain the necessary standard of debate. I, for one, have never been able to understand why a statement- that has been withdrawn should still appear in the records of the Parliament, or why privilege should attach to its publication outside the Parliament. If this bill be passed, my comments on this matter will become completely pointless and irrelevant, because once a statement is broadcast no withdrawal will recall it. That is another reason why we should be exceedingly careful to broadcast the whole of the proceedings - the debate, the whole debate and nothing but the debate. If that is to be done, the people will be put in the same position as if they were listening to the debate from the galleries of this chamber. If that is not to be done, we shall regret the day when we decided to send out to the people only a portion of what was said in the House, and conferred, whatever the consequences to individuals, complete immunity upon the broadcasts of that portion, and that portion only.
– I agree with many of the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) on this bill, including his remark that party polities should not enter into this debate. The Broadcasting
Committee took a considerable volume of evidence from public men, including experts from New Zealand, upon the advisability and practicability of broadcasting parliamentary debates. We did appreciate the necessity to broadcast, if possible, the whole of the proceedings. Some honorable members may not be aware that New Zealand is much more favorably situated than is Australia to broadcast parliamentary debates. The difficulties; including that of broadcasting the whole of the proceedings, are referred to in the eighth report of the committee. It states -
Were it not for the high expenditure involved, the ideal arrangement would be the. provision of a network of 22 national medium’ wave stations capable of serving nearly all the populated portions of Australia. Equipment alone, however, would entail expenditure in the neighbourhood of £500,000.
In view of the tremendous burden of war expenditure, the committee considered that it would be accepting a grave responsibility if it recommended to the Parliament the expenditure of £500,000 for the broadcasting of the debates. The report continued -
But apart from the cost, there are insuperable difficulties owing to the shortage of radio channels, unless the licences of some commercial stations were not renewed at the expiration of their annual period of tenure, to enable their channels to be allocated for the purpose, or unless recourse is made to the sharing of channels to a greater extent than at present, with resultant degrading of service to listeners on account of the clash of simultaneous transmissions from stations operating on the same channel. The remedy for this would lie in the use of the very high frequencies in addition to the medium frequencyband of channels at present used in Australia’s domestic system, as the method of operation known as “ frequency modulation “.
At present Australia is situated differently from New Zealand . in regard to broadcasting channels. The Government of New Zealand controls the whole of the broadcasting services of that Dominion. It can use one channel for a whole day for parliamentary broadcasts, and leave the remainder of the network for other national broadcasting. That is not the position in Australia. The Australian Broadcasting Commission has indicated to us the disadvantages under which it works in relation to commercial broadcasting companies. It has also been indicated that only 20 per cent of the population of Australia tunes in to the national programmes. In these circumstances, it would have been unfair to the commission had the committee recommended, and the Parliament agreed to provide in legislation, that one complete channel should be made available for the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings. That would have greatly restricted the Australian Broadcasting Commission in its other operations.
The broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings is an experiment in Australia. When such broadcasts were introduced in New Zealand in 1936 they also were experimental. Evidence was submitted to the committee in effect that many people in New Zealand at that time declared that parliamentary broadcasts would be unpopular, but, in fact, such broadcasts have now become of vital interest in the sister dominion. Originally, the Opposition in the Parliament of New Zealand was totally opposed to the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings, but during the last general election campaign the Leader of the Opposion indicated that if his party were returned to power it would continue such broadcasts. It may be said, therefore, that the experiment in New Zealand has been a success.
We hope that frequency-modulation broadcasting may be developed soon to such a degree that it can be applied generally in Australia. When that time comes it will be practicable to provide one channel for the broadcasting of the complete proceedings of the Parliament.
– Frequency modulation is effective only within 30 or 50 miles of the station.
– Arrangements could be made to use other channels, so that the proceedings couldbe made available to people in all the States. I am confident that the new method will be applied before very long, and that it will afford improved listening facilities to the people throughout the Commonwealth.I do not consider it necessary to say more on this aspect of the subject at this moment. The Broadcasting Committee would have been happy if it could have recommended that a complete broadcast of the proceedings of Parliament should be undertaken at once, but it realized, as I have said, that that would be an injustice to the Australian Broadcasting Commission and would have still further reduced the capacity of the commission to provide a reasonably varied entertainment for the 20 per cent, of the people who rely,, on the national network. Listeners are entitled to variety of entertainment. They would have variety in parliamentary broadcasts, of course, but it was not considered by the committee to be reasonable to recommend, at this stage, the reservation of one complete channel for parliamentary purposes. The Australian Broadcasting Commission rs in some financial difficulty, even under present conditions, and a proposal has been submitted to the committee that an additional 3s. should be earmarked for the commission from each £1 licence-fee. That would mean that the commission would receive 15s. from each listener’s fee. The commission contends that that amount is necessary to enable it to develop its resources and meet the competition of the commercial broadcasting stations.
I do not intend to discuss the legal aspects of this measure, which were referred to by the Leader of the Opposition, for I am not a lawyer. I am confident, however, that the innovation of broadcasting parliamentary proceedings will be approved by the House, and, in due course, appreciated by the people of Australia.
.- - The speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) should cause every honorable-member to reflect on the wisdom of the proposal to broadcast the proceedings of this Parliament.- The right. honorable gentleman pointed out in the clearest of terms the dangers that could arise from an abuse of privilege by an unreasonable use of broadcasting. The law in respect of libel, defamation and privilege has been developed in British jurisprudence over several hundreds of years. The basic purpose of it is to protect the reputation of citizens from improper and unfair attack. These objects could be negatived by the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings in flic manner proposed by the Government.
Reference has been made to the situation in New Zealand, but no true com parison can be made between Australia and the sister dominion in this matter. New Zealand is a small country. One station can serve the whole dominion satisfactorily. I believe that station 1YA provides a service, not only for New Zealand, but also for New South Wales and other parts of the mainland of Australia.
– That makes no difference to the position in relation to privilege.
– I am not discussing that aspect at the moment;. I am endeavouring to show that broadcasting over a huge continent like Australia and broadcasting in a relatively small country like New Zealand are entirely different things. Despite all the efforts that have been made by Commonwealth governments over a period of years it has not yet been possible to provide a sufficient number of regional stations to give a satisfactory broadcasting service to many thousands of people in the less accessible areas of Australia. I live in a district where it is not possible, at all times, to tune in satisfactorily to the national regional stations. Many tens of thousands of people throughout the country districts have to depend upon the nearby commercial stations for their radio news and entertainment. Therefore, the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings, in the first place, only through national stations, must deprive a very large number of listeners of ‘ the opportunity of hearing the broadcasts.’
– Provision is made for the broadcasts to be relayed through regional stations.
– I have mentioned regional stations, which are sub-stations of the national network. At the present time, these do not even approximately cover all the broadcasting requirements in ‘Australia. Therefore, in respect of the coverage of the national stations which are to be entrusted with this work there is no analogy with New Zealand, which can reach practically the whole of its listening public by having one station on the air for 24 hours. In other respects, too,. Australia differs from New Zealand. The proposal is to broadcast the proceedings of both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament. The Leader of the
Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has drawn attention to the defects that will result from that fact. I understand that in New Zealand the proceedings of only the House of Representatives, and not those of the Upper House, are broadcast. Therefore, under the . New Zealand system, with broadcasting throughout the sittings of the Parliament, it is possible for anybody who is sufficiently interested to follow the proceedings from beginning to end. I can visualize, as can- every other honorable member, some of the effects of broadcasting the proceedings of the Parliament in the manner proposed in the bill. I may here interpolate that we were apprised yesterday of a strange incident - the Government Printer had not found it possible to print the report of the Auditor-General because he had not received the authority of the Parliament to do so. It is rather significant to me that before this bill was presented to the Parliament radio technicians were permitted to work in this House, installing different gadgets which have con- verted, the chamber into something resembling a magnified dental parlour or a Barnum and Bailey circus.
– The honorable member is casting a reflection, on Mr. Speaker.
– It is not necessary for rae to have regard to where the reflection may fall. Without the authority of the Parliament, or the matter having been adequately considered, these preliminary steps were taken. In my view, the Government has exhibited very little appreciation of the courtesy to which the Parliament is entitled. It has assumed that when a decision has been made by the ministerial party, the approval of the Parliament to implement it is not necessary. That may be true because of the majority which the Government possesses. But it is characteristic of other systems of government rather than of a democracy. I foresee that some degree of advantage will be taken of the limited time allotted to broadcasting by those who are the professional mud-slingers in the Parliament. [ have never attacked anybody personally in this House. I have not made a defamatory statement, or any other statement that I was not prepared to make outside the House. I have always been particularly careful in that respect. I may have hit hard in debate; and I shall continue to do so. But I have never taken advantage of the privileges of .the House to escape the consequences of the law of slander There are’ not many honorable members who will take advantage of the fact that they are on the air, and cannot be contradicted if they make defamatory statements, by innuendo or otherwise, against other honorable senators, but there is no mystery as to who are the men who might do so. That would .be permissible, perhaps, if it were possible, as the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, for the victim of such an attack to make a reply to it. But by the time the man assailed has had the opportunity to reply, the broadcasting will probably have ceased. I understand that the intention is to broadcast between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
– How is it that the honorable member has that understanding?
– These things become known. . I believe that the broadcasts are to be continued up to 9 p.m. My mere suggestion that these are the hours, causes the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) to get into a flurry of indignation.
– The hours have not been fixed.
– One of the critical matters which ought to concern the Parliament is the time over which the broadcast will range.
– The committee will fix that.
– The committee may do a lot. But the Parliament ought to know, when it is considering the bill, at what time of the day or night the listening public will have the benefit of hearing a broadcast of the debates. We know that the Parliament conducts its business according to certain procedural rules. At some times, the business is in the hands of the Government, and at other times it is in the hands of private members. No in’dication has been given of the number of hours during which the proceedings will be broadcast, or at what time the broadcasts will cease.
Other essential information which honorable members require to enable them to pass a considered judgment has not been forthcoming. We know that the broadcasts are to be limited as to time, and that they will be garbled, and partial because of the allocating of time between the two Chambers. Tt is very important indeed that the Parliament should lc now during what hours the broadcasts will be made. I fear that the advice rendered by the Leader of the Opposition, which must have made an impression on the mind of every honorable member, will not count for very much, because the decision has already been made. I draw attention to the fact that there has been a reversal of decision. It was first reported that Cabinet was opposed to the broadcasting of the proceedings of the Parliament, and the next intimation was that they were to be broadcast. I do not know that any significance c-.an be attached to that fact; but it is strange that after the proposal had been rejected and probably, forgotten, -it was resurrected suddenly on the eve of the general elections.
– That is what the honorable member is afraid of.
– I fear only that the public will not be given all the facts, because of the manipulation of the hours of broadcasting, the speakers chosen, and the arrangement of Government business. The Government will be able to control the introduction and the withholding of business. It will be able to bring on a discussion whenever it thinks fit, and 10 ensure that certain speakers will have the benefit of the broadcasting time. Therefore, the listening public will be given one side and not the other.
– What a “lovely” mind the honorable member has!
– What I have stated is in line with the activities of the Minister for Information during the last referendum campaign, when £50,000 of Commonwealth money was allocated to the education of the public from a party political point of view. I favour the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings, provided the broadcasts are fair and will be available to the members of all parties. But because of the manner in which the proposal has been submitted, and. will be carried through, the Australian listeners will not get a fair conception of the work of the Parliament and of the opinions of those who represent them.
Mr. HAYLEN (Parkes) [12.13 J. -I am very interested in the experiment that i.s about to be undertaken after the passage of the measure that is now before the House. I was particularly interested in the informative legal speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). Analysing certain provisions dealing with the matter of privilege, the right honorable gentleman pointed out to us the dangers that are inherent in any change. We all must face changes, and be aware of their dangers. But he has aroused’ a scare, not so much in our minds concerning the measure, as in the hearts of many newspaper editors who have transgressed without realizing all the implications of the law of libel; because, as he has pointed out, a partial or garbled report could be the subject of a libel action. The same thing can and does apply to newspapers which publish a number of editions, each of which is somewhat different from those that preceded it. For instance, to continue the story of Brown and Jones, and their unfortunate altercation iri the House in which charges are made - if Brown gets into the first, edition of the paper with his allegations, the editor may “ wipe “ the story in later editions if an atom bomb is dropped in the Pacific, or another throat is cut. The danger of this is much greater than any danger which might arise in .broadcasting. The situation in regard to privilege is not desper’ate. We need to take a more objective view of the broadcasting of Parliament, and to understand better what it will mean. No one really believes that it will have any tremendous effect upon the ordinary habits of the people in regard to radio entertainment.” I regard this measure as a sensible provision designed to bring the people nearer to their Parliament. One of the reasons “why this was desirable is that the organs of publicity have been trying to create a cleavage between Parliament and the people. Therefore, if the broadcasting of Parliament achieves nothing more, it will give to the people of the Commonwealth a more possessive feeling in regard to Parliament, and will break down the antagonism which has been very cunningly created by interested organizations. Therefore, I regard the bill as a progressive measure.
It is interesting to note what has happened in regard to the broadcasting of news from Parliament in other countries, particularly New Zealand. The honorable member for Richmond (MrAnthony) spoke of the difficulty experienced by people in country areas in getting good reception from A class stations. That, I know, is a real difficulty, but it is no reason why Parliament should not be broadcast. It is a technical difficulty which should be overcome. In New Zealand, the bulk of the listeners are farmers. Whether that is because they are a tougher race, and can take it, or because they are vitally interested in the proceedings” of Parliament, I do not know. I quote the following from an article by a correspondent in the Sydney Morning Herald: -
For both listener and politician the extent of the changes can best be estimated by the experience of New Zealand. Their Parliament has been on the air for the last ten years
The solid core of Parliament’s audience, the visitor to New Zealand gradually realizes, is the farming community. ‘For 80,000 farmers polities means the price of milk, mutton and wool, the cost of wire and fertilizer, the overdraft interest, and the bridge over Bluebottle Creek . . .
The lion- farmer listeners are fewer. There is a surprisingly large number of mere hearers” (as distinct from listeners) - males, mostly, who sit reading while . . .
Housewives, on the other hand, are Parliament’s least tolerant audience. As listeners, they usually are impatient of all the “ahs” and “ urns “, flurries and circumlocutions of debate; as hearers; they have quite other pre,ferences . . . ‘
Early surprise is likely to be in the large amount of technical ceremonial, and, at first hearing, seemingly empty and pompous jargon still retained iii Parliament.
Reference is made in the article to the fustiness of parliamentary procedure, and to the tendency of Parliament to retain antiquated methods instead of getting on with the job. However, the article shows that there is a strong interest among the public in the debates, and that farmers have been the most consistent and persistent listener?. Tt, is also clear that the parliamentary broadcasts have become a regular and accepted feature of - the programmes of A class stations, and that they serve a useful purpose in keeping the people in touch with Parliament.
There is a danger, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the member for Richmond said, that certain persons might become microphone conscious, and that, in the early stages at least, there may be something in the nature of a rush k> get to the microphone. However, thai, will not be a permanent feature. When the novelty’ wears oil, both for members and for the public, broadcasts of Parliament will be accepted just as are any other kind of broadcasts.
I do not think that there is substance in the complaint that the broadcasts will be too brief. If one of Shakespeare’s plays can be condensed so that it can be presented in half an hour, honorable members ought to be proud to be allotted two minutes of broadcasting time. Much has been made, of the fact that after a speaker has made a statement the proceedings may go off the air before any one has a chance to reply, and that certain parts of a speech may be broadcast while others will not. I remind honorable members that, so far as radiolistening is concerned, there is a god in the machine, the listener, who can cut off any speaker by simply turning a knob. We must approach the whole matter in the spirit of the twentieth century, not in that of the nineteenth century, when the public were accustomed to long-winded debates and extended reports. The position in regard to libel must be closely watched, I agree; but there are no difficulties that cannot be overcome. This is a progressive measure, and I support it. The moss-backs among the Opposition resist it because it represents change. They are where they are to-day because they have always resisted change.
This is a simple bill which can be easily understood, and there is no call for rauch debate. Above all, we should remember that no tremendous issues are involved. It is not likely that hundreds of thousands of people will storm their receiving sets in order to listen to broadcasts from Parliament. The knowledge that Parliament is being broadcast may help us in this House to mend our manners because our masters will be listening.
Let us entertain no false notions of the place we’ shall occupy in popular esteem. No speech by Frankie Forde is likely to have any appreciable effect on the position of Frank Sinatra, and even the mellifluous utterances of Mr. Menzies will not affect the popularity of the Boswell Sisters. “When Parliament is broadcast, let the broadcast present Parliament as it is. Let it be done with the same frankness as was demanded by Cromwell when he adjured the painter of his portrait to paint it “warts and all “.
– I do not oppose change - in fact, I welcome this innovation. It is good that Parliament should be brought closer to the people. Technically, it is not possible to have a continuous broadcast of the proceedings of both Houses of Parliament. It is important that we should consider the extent to which privilege shall continue to apply when defamatory or scandalous statements’ are made and broadcast. In ancient days, the principle was established that a member of Parliament should have the right to say what he liked, because it was assumed that the placing of any impediment upon his utterance might militate against his ability to do his duty. For instance, in the case of some scandal, the- member might wish to repeat- information conveyed to him. He might believe it to be his duty to bring the matter before the House and, if restrictions were placed upon his right to do so, it might affect the value of Parliament as a deliberative assembly. However, it seems that, in these days, the right of a man to say what he likes in Parliament must be limited in some way. I agree that public interest demands that we should. have the right to make, without fear, such statements as we think necessary in the performance of our duty; but there are instances, I believe, in which the privilege should be restricted. I” am anxious that the bill should not be pushed through the House quickly on a Friday afternoon, because it contains matter which is deserving of the most careful consideration by honorable members and the Government. Clause 14 confers. special immunities in regard to matter broadcast from Parliament. There is vested in the Speaker of the House the right to prevent scandalous and defamatory statements made in the House from being republished.
– Who is to decide the issue ?
– The power- is inherent in the Speaker. It is true that such power is never now exercised, but in other days, and in other parliaments, it was exercised - certainly in the House of Commons. We must consider the damage that might be ‘ done to persons other than members by . statements made in Parliament. Members have an opportunity to reply in Parliament to charges made against them, but no such opportunity is enjoyed by citizens ou:side
– Citizens are often criticized in the press, too. There is no difference between that and criticism in Parliament.
– In the press, a charge made in Parliament against some -person may receive publicity because it has sensational value; but because the refutation has not the same sort of value, it is either not published at all or the item appears in an obscure place and in a manner which is not a sufficient refutation. 1 am directing my attention to the need to protect, persons outside Parliament from the effects of statements made inside Parliament, unless those statements are made by a member in the performance of h-is duty. Clause 14 provides -
No action or proceeding, civil or criminal, shall lie against any person for broadcasting or, by an amendment foreshadowed by the Government, re-broadcasting - a.nj’ portion of the proceedings of either House nf Parliament.
Under that clause any portion of a speech -may be broadcast at any time by any person. Words can be taken out of their context, and defamatory matter can be rebroadcast with absolute immunity by any person. Is it proper that such matter should be protected? If I do not correctly state the position, I shall be glad if honorable members opposite will controvert my statements. It was surely notcontemplated by the Government that such absolute immunity should be conferred. I mention that aspect only for the purpose of suggesting that the Government should not be hasty in seeking to place the bill on the statute-book. I suggest that the deferment of the bill until next week would not cause undue delay or inconvenience to the Government. I do not desire to place any unnecessary impediments in the way of the Government achieving the purpose for which this bill is designed ; but I point out that it would be unwise to confer absolute immunity to persons who may select undesirable portions of a speech to suit their personal or political purposes.
– No one could do that. The Australian Broadcasting Act forbids that. And further, proposed new clause 13 (a) provides that power to determine the conditions under which a rebroadcast may be made shall vest in the committee.
– But who will control the committee ?
– The Government.
– The broadcasting of objectionable items is covered by section 91 of the Australian Broadcasting Act; but I do not know how it will be possible to enforce the provisions of that section in respect. of obscene or indecent statements made in the Parliament. I regret to say that, in my short experience’, I have heard indecent and obscene statements made in this chamber on more than one occasion.
– Read section 93.
– Section 93 of the :i et provides -
A person shall not, without the consent of ihe owner or licensee of the station and the approval of the Minister, publish, in any manner whatsoever, any portion of the text of an item transmitted . by a broadcasting station, whether situated in Australia or elsewhere. -
That does not cover the point I am making. Not only during the life-time of this Government, but also during the terms of office of earlier governments, Ministers have exercised influence on the Australian Broadcasting Commission to obtain publicity for their own views.
– The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) was the worst offender in that regard.
– That is completely untrue.
– I am not concerned with personalities; I merely say that that has happened. It might be well to observe at this stage that we have an ex traordinary set-up in connexion with the Australian Broadcasting Commission, under which its executive can be subjected to public criticism by any of its employees. It must be obvious to any one here that the commission has now been placed in a position in which it is subject to political domination one way or the other. In these circumstances it does not satisfy me merely to point out that the committee must give its approval to the broadcast or re-broadcast of any particular speech or portion of a speech. Immunity should not be extended to that degree. Even apart from that, it seems to me that occasions arise in this House when the principle of immunity should not be extended even to a member of the Parliament. In order to give the Government an opportunity to demonstrate its sincerity in this matter I foreshadow an amendment to clause 14. I shall propose that clause 14 be .subdivided into two parts, the first part to read as at present printed but omitting the words “. any person “ and substituting in lieu thereof the words “ the Australian Broadcasting Commission “. There should be no objection to that. Paragraph (a) of the clause would then read -
No action or proceeding, civil or criminal, shall lie against the Australian Broadcasting Commission for broadcasting any portion of the proceedings of either House of the Parliament.
– The actual manual work of broadcasting or re-broadcasting is carried out by employees of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– But the commission, like all corporations and public companies, has neither a body to be kicked nor a soul to be damned; it is made up of individuals and, in law, would be deemed to include all of its employees.
– Would it?
– If the Minister wants to be more precise let us add in my proposed amendment after the words “ Australian Broadcasting Commission “ the words - “ its servants, agents or employees “.
– That would be merely another way of saying what is provided in the clause as it stands at present.
– Let us not enter into unnecessary debate on the point. I should have thought that what I have said would be obvious even to one with the moat limited intellect. I suggest that my, amendment should be accepted because if immunity is to be conferred it is surely not intended that 3u6h immunity be extended to anybody but the Australian Broadcasting Commission” and its servants, agents, and employees while engaged in the performance of their duties. If it is intended to go further than that, it seems that there is an undisclosed purpose behind this clause.
– That assertion is merely based on suspicion.
– I am not suspicious ; I am either right or wrong in saying that immunity is surely intended to extend only to the Australian Broadcasting Commission and its servants, agents and employees.
– It is intended to extend tq any person engaged in the broadcasting or re-broadcasting of parliamentary debates. That person must necessarily bc an employee of the commission. The bill provides that the commission shall broadcast the proceedings of the Parliament and the commission will employ on that work only one of its own employees.
– May I postulate a particular case to illustrate the point I make? Let us assume that under proposed new clause 13 (a) a re-broadcast is authorized by a majority of the committee, and the Government will have a majority of representatives ou the committee-
– It may be authorized as the committee as a whole. Why introduce the party aspect?
– Well, assume that the committee, acting either unanimously or by a majority decision, authorizes, during election time, a re-broadcast of a portion of a debate that has taken place in the Parliament. If a person selects a speech or a portion of a speech which suits his particular purpose and arranges for it to be re- broad cast, am I not correct in saying that, as the clause stands at present, immunity is extended to such a person? If my proposed amendment is not acceptable, then there must be some intention in the mind of the Government to protect others against actions arising from the broadcasting or re-broadcasting of a speech or a portion of a speech. Only two classes of people should be protected, first the Australian Broadcasting Commission and its servants, agents And employees. I agree that whatever may bo said here, the commission and its servants. ‘ agents and employees have no association with the matter re-broadcast. The only other people who should be protected are those who make the statements which are broadcast, and it is in respect of them that I propose a further amendment.
– The privileges of the press are not affected by clause 14.
– I’ agree; but the Government, by arranging for the broadcast of parliamentary debates, is now placing beyond recall, once they have issued from this Parliament out into the world, the words spoken by honorable members. You cannot recover a broadcast defamatory statement.
– That is the position to-day in respect of anything reported by the newspapers.
– 1 have been at great pains to point -out that there is an inherent power vested in the Parliament to prevent the publication or dissemination of defamatory matter arising during the course of debate. I have for a long time been convinced that quite apart from the aspect of broadcasting, there is a need For the establishment of a committee of privileges, consisting of Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition, which, upon an honorable member rising in his place and claiming that parliamentary privilege had been abused, should have the - duty to investigate and the power to discipline the offending member, and, in extreme cases, to impose” penalties even as drastic as suspension from Hie service of this House for a long period. 1 see no reason why the privilege extended to honorable members- in this. House should be unlimited.’
– This is not the only place where absolute privilege is given. In certain circumstances it exists in our courts.
– I am aware of that, hut what is said in this House is in a vastly different category from what is said in a court. Indeed, in my view, the rules of absolute privilege might well be reviewed. The additional amendment which I propose to move seeks to add to clause 14, a. new sub-clause b, providing that nc action or proceeding, civil or criminal, shall lie against any member of either House of the Parliament for any defamatory matter spoken by him or broadcast or re-broadcast in accordance with this act, unless such matter bc untrue in fact, in which event the immunity hereby conferred shall not. apply if the matter were spoken by such member maliciously or with knowledge that it was false. If matter raised in debate is untrue in fact, then in certain circumstances I see no reason why protection should be given to the honorable member who introduces it.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I appreciate that, that amendment, if carried, would cut down the absolute privilege .applying to debates in this chamber, but I submit it because, by the introduction of this bill, which permits the debates to be broadcast, the likelihood of damage being caused to people by speeches is infinitely greater than when something is said inside this chamber and is not broadcast. It is unusual for scandalous or highly de-, f amatory statements made in this House to be published in reputable newspapers, which exercise their own censorship when offences are committed against decency. The danger of people outside this Parliament being defamed by an honorable member forgetful of his obligations is something that we are bound to take into consideration. The absolute privilege which applies in this House springs from ancient times. It springs from the necessity that men charged with legislating for the country shall be entitled to speak without fear or favour, and I can understand that. However, as I said earlier to the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein), I believe that absolute privilege does require remodelling in the light of present-day circumstances. Although anything said in this chamber by an honorable member is absolutely privileged, he could not claim privilege if he reprinted his statements outside this chamber and distributed copies to bis constituents or any one else. That would be actionable if the statements were libellous. I sec no difference between that position and the position that we shall soon have when our proceedings are broadcast. Then, everything said in ‘ this chamber will be listened to outside this chamber. Once uttered,, the word? can never be arrested. An honorable member could at will attack any one . without fear, and he would know that his attack would be heard by thousands of people outside. If a member of Parliament causes malicious matter to be printed in a newspaper and published to the world, no privilege attaches to that matter. I think a member of this Parliament who causes such matter to be broadcast ought to be in the same” position.
– There are other defences.
– Yes ; but T see no great hardship in a man being placed in that position. We should do wrong if , we permitted this bill to go through without taking steps to .ensure that other people, particularly people outside this chamber, shall” npt be scandalized or defamed by an honorable member who, deliberately, uses an occasion in this House, not to perform a public duty or to ventilate a matter of public interest, but to defame another person. My amendment prescribes conditions that must be present before the broadcast words of a member of Parliament shall be actionable. First, they must be untrue. Ashonorable gentlemen are probably aware, unprivileged true statements are none the less actionable if they are libellous or slanderous. Secondly, they must be proved malicious. Alternatively, it must be proved that the speaker knew that his statements were false. I cannot imagine any one justifying protection being given to any honorable member who uses thebroadcasting system about to be set up in this chamber for the purpose of making statements that he knows to be false. If he knows that his statements are false, he is not discharging a public duty, but is using his position and the occasion to vent personal” spleen against some one else. I think my amendment provides for a proper departure from the rules of absolute privilege to meet modern circumstances.
Clause 15 provides -
Section ninety of the Australian Broadcasting Act shall not apply to the broadcasting of any proceedings, of either House of the Parliament. lt is proposed to amend that clause by. providing that that section shall also not apply to the re-broadcasting of any of the proceedings: The Government should indicate clearly whether it contemplates that at some subsequent time not contemperaneous with or closely allied to the time at which the proceedings are broadcast they shall be re-broadcast. Section 90 of the Australian Broadcasting Act provides -
The Commission, in the case of a national broadcasting station, or the licensee, in the case of a commercial broadcasting station, shall cause to be announced the true name of every speaker who is, either in person or through the agency of a sound recording device, to deliver an address or make a statement relating to a political subject or current affairs for broadcasting from the station. If the address is to be delivered or the statement is to be made on behalf of a political party, the name of the party shall be included in the announcement.
It purposes, therefore, that speeches and announcements made in a political campaign shall be subject to control. Why is that control being excluded from operation in respect of the re-broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings? I can quite understand that it may be necessary for a certain time to elapse between the original broadcasting of the proceedings and the re-broadcasting through remote stations to which recordings of the debate would have to be sent in the event of landlines being unavailable. That would entail a limited delay, but this legislation will permit the untrammelled and absolutely privileged re-broadcasting at any time of proceedings in the Parliament.
I am not impressed with the adequacy of the provision for the establishment of a joint committee on the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings as a safeguard against abuses of clause 15, as it is proposed to bie amended. What distinction is there between the person who re-broadcasts parliamentary proceedings” and the person who re-publishes a speech made in this House and ren- den himself actionable for having done so. In the circumstances, my amend- ment ought to be accepted by the Government. I would be, ready to compromise if the Government would set up a special committee on privilege, as 1 have suggested ‘ previously, consisting of the Speaker, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, .whose duty would be to consider charges of breaches of privilege made by honorable members against other honorable members, and to determine the facts and impose whatever penalties it considered that the gravity of proved offences warranted. My purpose is to protect people,, particularly people outside this Parliament. We have had more than one occasion when the forms and privileges of this House have been so abused by honorable members as to cause unnecessary defamation of and haron to people outside, without serving any public purpose at all. I. hope that the Government will not be in a hurry to have this measure passed this afternoon and that it will use the time between now and when we meet again next we*ek to consider the points that I raised, because they involve principles of the greatest importance to this chamber and the people we serve.
.- Not having a suspicious legal mind like that of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), I can approach this subject in a different way. I believe that the bill is simple and straightforward. We do not need to clutter it up with all the legal phraseology that he suggests. I consider that if the amendments foreshadowed by the honorable gentleman were accepted, the bill would be unintelligible and that it would be of little value other than to provide work for the lawyers in the courts of . Australia. It must be remembered that this bill is before honorable members because of recommendations made by the Parliamentary Standing- Committee on Broadcasting. That committee devoted considerable time and thought to hearing evidence and preparing its report on the proposal that the proceedings of this Parliament should be broadcast. It. heard the views of the leaders of all political parties represented in this House and the Senate, and of Mr. Speaker and the President of the Senate, both of whom supported the proposal. We received evidence from the Principal Parliamentary Reporter, who investigated the broadcasting system of New Zealand; and from the Solicitor-General of the Commonwealth. In addition, we took evidence from the former manager of the commercial broadcasting system of New Zealand, who had had personal experience of the broadcasting of the debates of the Parliament of the dominion for. a period of years. From the whole of that evidence, the committee drew- conclusions which it recommended to this Parliament for acceptance. Its first recommendation was that the debates of both the Senate and the House of Representatives should be broadcast. The committee recognized the difficulty of broadcasting the whole of the debates of both chambers under the existing system of broadcasting. Because of the shortcomings of that system and the lack of the necessary frequencies it realized that, at present, we cannot broadcast the whole of the proceedings of both chambers. Therefore, the bill provides that, as a beginning, as much of the proceedings as possible of both chambers shall be broadcast. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) objected to that proposal on the ground that the broadcasts cannot reach the whole of the listening public of Australia. If we were to put a test. of that kind to all forms of broadcasting, there would be no broadcasting system in the country. If we believe in the principle of broadcasting the proceedings of .the Parliament in the interests of the people and cannot reach all of them immediately, we must, for a start, reach as many of them as we can.
Honorable members are privileged to express their views in this chamber without incurring the risk of legal proceedings for libel. Those expressions of their opinion are now published in Hansard, which is available to the whole of the population. Every person in the Commonwealth may read Hansard if he or she so desires. Therefore, the broadcasting of the debates of the Parliament will be merely an extension of the principle of the printing of the verbatim reports of our proceedings, and will give to the people the spoken word as well as the printed word. I suggest, as a layman, that the privileges now enjoyed by the members of the Parliament will not be extended as the result of the broadcasting of debates. Any statement which they may make in the Parliament will be privileged. The only difference will be that a large section of the Australian community will be able to hear the statements which are uttered. This bill will give to honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives a bigger audience than they have at present, and the protection which is afforded, to them is quite reasonable.
The bill deals also with the arrangements that are to be made for broadcasting the proceedings of the Senate or the House of Representatives during the time that is available for that purpose. .A joint committee consisting of a number of honorable senators and members of this House will be created to decide the number of hours during which the broadcasting of the proceedings shall take place, and to apportion between the two chambers the broadcasting time available. If the Commonwealth had no greater difficulties in broadcasting than New Zealand has, the appointment of the joint committee would not be necessary. In New Zealand, one high-powered station is sufficient to broadcast the parliamentary debates to the whole of that dominion. Australia has a much larger area and a more scattered population, and many high-powered radio stations are required to reach all the listening public. At the present, we have not sufficient stations for that purpose, and, what is more, the requisite number may not be provided for some time. If the Government had accepted, in their entirety, the recommendations of the Broadcasting Committee, and the national system of the Australian Broadcasting Commission instead of the alternative system had been used for the purpose, the broadcasting of parliamentary debates would reach a much bigger audience. However, we are making a beginning. We can commence the broadcasting qf speeches, and as conditions in the broadcasting sphere alter, particularly ‘if frequency modulation is introduced, not many years will elapse before the Australian Broadcasting Commission will be able to give this service to the whole of the Commonwealth. That is necessary. When the debates are broadcast, the standard of speeches and the behaviour of some honorable members will be improved. If th,e broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings succeeds in those two matters, we all will agree that it ‘has served a very useful purpose.
Employees of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the PostmasterGeneral’s Department who. will be associated with khe broadcasting 0f the debates .of .this Parliament, must be protected against possible actions for libel. While they are engaged upon this work, they will be virtually servants of the Parliament, and should have the benefit of the privilege which is extended to members of the Parliament and to the printers and publishers of all parliamentary papers. I have no fear regarding the efficacy of the provisions of -the bill relating to privilege. They give the necessary protection to all those who will be engaged in this particular service, and the former Solicitor-General of the Commonwealth has supplied an opinion that every one will ‘ be adequately protected against legal proceedings ; therefore, the long and involved amendment, which the honorable . member for Warringah proposed, will not clarify the provisions of the bill in any way, and will not alter materially the position regarding privilege, but will lead to endless legal arguments and expense.
– Will the honorable member support the establishment of a committee of privileges?
– I do npt consider, as yet, any necessity exists for a committee of privileges. As long as the honorable member improves his behaviour slightly in the chamber, there will not be any great necessity for snob a committee. Members of the Parliament have enjoyed the protection of privilege for many years. As the honorable member for Warringah said, it dates back almost to the dim, dark ages and has stood the test of time. It is now standing the test of time in the Commonwealth and State Parliaments. I cannot see any reason why we need to adopt at this particular juncture proposals to curtail the privileges pf members of the Parliament. We are supposed to be living in a. democracy, and to believe in freedom of speech. The honorable member for Warringah, among others, has demanded freedom of speech, freedom of action, and freedom of thought; ‘but despite all his great championship of the freedom of ;the individual, he now proposes an amendment designed to curtail ,the privilege .of freedom of speech, w’hich honora’ble members enjoy. ‘Freedom of speech ‘has been a privilege of the members pf .this Parliament since the beginning of federation. Members pf the Parliament of the United . Kingdom have enjoyed freedom of .speechsince the beginning of democratic govern.ment in .that .country. At .this juncture, C am not prepared even to ‘ consider any curtailment pf the privileges pf honorable members.
As I stated earlier, .this bill is very simple. It provides for the broadcasting of the debates of this Parliament, and creates a joint committee to decide the times pf broadcasting, and apportion .the period between the Senate and the House of Representatives. The committee will function only until we are able, by an alteration of the broadcasting system, to broadcast the whole of the proceedings of both chambers. The only other provision of the bill protects the privileges pf honorable members and those employed in the actual broadcasting of the proceedings. I dp not apprehend any difficulties, and hope that the Hp-u.s’e will accept the bill without the .amendment proposed by the honorable member for Warringah.
.- I am concerned with the consequences of this proposal insofar as they will affect the functioning, of this free, democratic, assembly. Any proposal which may limit the rights or opportunities of the elected representatives of the people requires the most careful consideration. Some of the greatest issues in British parliamentary history, concerned not matters pf policy but the rights of the Parliament itself. The Government must not attempt to force, through the chamber hurriedly an innovation, such as this bill proposes, becau.se, unquestionably, it will limit in a not unimportant way the opportunities of the representatives of the people here.
– The Senate has already considered the bill.
– What is the significance of the Minister’s interjection ?
– All the matters which honorable members are now raising were thoroughly considered in the Senate.
– On the very point which I am discussing, the Minister for Information (Mr.Cal well) reveals his mind. He would impair the rights and opportunities of this House, of which he should be one of the guardians, merely because the Senate has already agreed to the bill. That fact should not influence us.
– The Senate should be abolished.
– The abolition of the Senate is a plank of the platform of the Labour party, but the party has always lacked the courage to implement that policy. There is not the slightest doubt that many of the fascists opposite personally believe that the Parliament of the Commonwealth should be abolished. There are no greater authoritarians than the really dyed-in-the-wool socialists.
– Colonel Campbell was a member of the honorable gentleman’s party.
– Thank God, the Minister for Immigration is not.
– I would not be found dead in it.
– I could guarantee that.
– Order !
– This Parliament is an assembly of free men chosen by a free people, and the people are entitled to an unrestricted opportunity to hear their representatives, just as they are entitled to hear candidates who desire to represent them here. This is the first time in the history of the Commonwealth that a proposal has been made to limit the opportunity of the people to hear their representatives. I shall support any proposal to broaden the opportunities of the people to hear their chosen representatives, but I shall oppose any proposal to limit such opportunities by reducing,on a selective basis, the number of persons who may be heard. Upon examination, this proposal is revealed as one for the limitation of the opportunities of the people to hear the speeches of their representatives in the Parliament. Obviously, broadcasting stations must operate to a fixed programme. I know of no broad casting station anywhere in theworld that does not do so. Yet we are to be asked to agree to limit the hours for the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings in accordance with a programme to be arranged. At certain specified times Parliament will come on the air, and at others it will just as certainly go off the air. Under such conditions the people of Australia may be listening at one moment, to the presentation of a case, and at the next moment the broadcast may suddenly cease and theywill be denied the. oppor tunity to listen to the reply. That, in my opinion, is the antithesis of democracy. Such a procedure would be most undemocratic. Surely if a case be stated over the air the reply must also be broadcast. I and my party entirely agree that every opportunity should be given to broaden the opportunities of the people to hear their parliamentary representatives, and to read publicationswhich report their utterances, butwe shall resist, and for my part I shall resist strenuously, any proposal to introduce a systemwhich, in operation, will be selective and discriminatory, aswould be the proposal now before us. I knowwhat will happen under this measure. After the bill has been passed, the political parties will be requested to organize so as to ensure that their best speakers and leading members shall go on the air. That is the antithesis of British democracy. Every representative of the people elected to Parliament should have an equal opportunity to state his views to the people. That principle should apply generally, from the party leaders to the newest comers to the back benches. Under the scheme envisaged in this measure broadcasts will be limited, carefully selected speakers will be put on the air, and other honorable members may be denied the opportunity to broadcast. We should guard against such a happening, for it would be totally opposed to the sense of freedomwhich has hitherto been the basis of our British parliamentary system.
I do not intend to deal with the legal questions of privilege that have been discussed so ably by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), and to which no reply of any description has yet been made from the Government benches. It seems to me that the legal issues that have been raised are of such first-class importance that the senior legal representative in the Government, the Acting Attorney-General (Mr. Holloway), should be in the House to hear what is being said, but he is not present. No time should have been lost by the Government in submitting to honorable members its views, and the views of its legal advisers, of these- subjects. The Government owes a responsibility to the House in this connexion, but it has made no attempt to reply to the opinions that have been enunciated.
I am wholly in favour of the general public being provided with, every opportunity to attend parliamentary sittings, to read reports of our debates, or to listen te parliamentary broadcasts, but the opportunity to speak to the general public, should not bo limited in any way whatsoever. Al! honorable members should be on an equal footing in this regard. Listeners, too, must be given completely undistorted broadcasts; but if a speaker be cut off in the middle of his remarks, and if no opportunity be given to speakers holding opposite views to state their case, the broadcasts must necessarily be regarded as distorted and partial. No suggestion has been made, on behalf of the Government, that what I have described will not occur.
The Minister for Information has given notice of his intention to move certain amendments at the committee stage “which will reverse the decisions of the Senate. That reminds me that if there is one principle in our parliamentary system by which we have always stood firmly, it is the equality of the two Houses of the Parliament. However, if the Government’s proposals be carried, the committee to be appointed under the bill will consist of a majority of members of the House of Representatives, and the Senate will be in a subordinate position. I challenge any honorable member of the Parliament to direct attention to any other instance in which the Senate has been placed in a disadvantageous position in this regard. Yet, undoubtedly, our broadcasting arrangements, as envisaged by the Government, will give larger opportunities to members of the House of Representatives and curtail the opportunities of the members of the Senate to speak over the air. No phrase has been so constantly on the lips of public speakers in countries where the English language is used as “ freedom of speech “ ; yet the proposal now before us cuts right across that principle. There cannot be freedom of speech unless there is equal opportunity to all members of the Parliament to convey the spoken word to listening audiences. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) interjects. He and some of his colleagues have said, on frequent occasions, that they do not trust the members on this side of the chamber.
– Not for a moment!
– I reciprocate, in that regard. I say plainly that from bitter experience I do not trust some” honorable gentlemen on the other side of the House. We have before us a last-minute pro.posal, almost as an after-thought, to introduce broadcasting on the eve of a general election. I am convinced that it has been introduced .because the Government and the Labour caucus believe that they can gain some party advantage from it.
– What an evil mind the honorable member has !
– “ Evil be to him who evil thinks “.
– Evil be to him who does not think.
– I have no doubt that the motive behind the introduction of this measure is to gain a party advantage, at a time when the fate of the Government is trembling in the balance.
– Nothing is further from our minds !
– I shall support any proposal designed to ensure a complete broadcast of parliamentary proceedings, but for the reasons that I have given I -shall be unceasing in my opposition to any proposal to introduce less than a full broadcast of our proceedings.
.- Not long after I entered this Parliament I made the suggestion, although it had probably been made earlier, that JJ’ would be advisable, if it were at all possible, to arrange for the broadcasting of the proceedings of the Parliament. I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) on the excellent and informative speech which he delivered.I listened to him with great interest, as I generally do. It is a pity that the right honorable gentleman is not, in the true sense of the word, the Leader of the Opposition. Although his address was so instructive, I regret that I cannot say the same of the utterances of some of his colleagues who have followed him in this debate. When I made my suggestion in that evil place known as the caucus-
– The honorable gentleman ought to know, for he has had experience of it!
– The meetings of the parliamentary representatives of the Labour party are always described as “ caucus “ meetings, but the meetings of the Opposition parties are described in other terms. I was about to say that when I suggested to caucus that the proceedings of the Parliament should be broadcast, I also asked what steps, if any, had been taken to this end. So far as I am concerned, I see no reason for limiting, in any way, the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings, for we have nothing whatever to fear. In the early days of the Commonwealth Parliament, practically the whole of the debates were published in the daily press. That is not the case to-day. It is all very well to talk of privilege. It seems to me that only one section in this House, and that the section which is very much prejudiced against the present Government, has the privilege of having the speeches of its members reported in the press. I believe that the broadcasting of the parliamentary proceedings will improve the standard of the debates ; and I hope that, as another speaker has said, it will improve the conduct of the House. There is no doubt that honorable members on both sides have been responsible for incidents which cannot be regarded as elevating. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) has expressed a fear that only the best speakers will have their utterances broadcast. I am confident that every man on this side of the House will have an equal opportunity to speak over the air to the people of the Common wealth the proposal does not goas far as I should like it to go. In my opinion, the complete proceedings ought to be broadcast. Then, the people of the Commonwealth would know exactly what every speaker had said. That is not the case to-day. The bill has my support, andI hope that the time is notfar distant when the whole of the proceedings of the Parliament will be put on the air. An Opposition member has said that the Government is taking this action now because of the approach of the general elections.He and his colleagues ought not to be afraid of that. They claim that they want the people to know the truth. The opportunity to have their speeches broadcast will be as great as that of honorable members on this side of the House. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr: Menzies) has given the bill his blessing, and I hope that honorable members opposite will accepthis advice and that the measure will be passed unanimously.
– This is essentially a bill for consideration in committee. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has stated that, in his opinion, it is a non-party measure. That coincides with the opinion of all other honorable members on this side of the House. Although there may be room for some amendment, any differences that may now exist can be settled in committee.
It appears to me that the people will accept this proposal purely as one for their benefit educationally. The Broadcasting Committee, after making a complete investigation of the matter, expressed the view that because of the need for educating the people in regard to the way in which our parliamentary institutions function and our democratic principles are observed, the debates of this Parliament should be broadcast, not piece-meal, but completely. In the light of some observations, one may well ask what the Government has in mind when it resists all attempts by honorable members on this side of the House for the improvement of the measure. The suggested amendments are obviously necessary, and they have been supported by arguments that have won the admiration of ministerial supporters, including ti. i.- last speaker (Mr. Smith), who paid a very high tribute to the Leader of the Opposition. Having won such endorsement, those arguments must have some merit. Why has no attempt been made to refute them? It would be quite easy for honorable members opposite to obtain legal opinion on the subject. The House could then give a considered and logical opinion. When I first read the bill I thought that the aim of the Government was to educate the people to a better understanding of the democratic proceedings in the Parliament, so that they might take a greater interest in politics and in their parliamentary representatives. This democracy will not be strengthened until the electors have a full knowledge of their rights and privileges, the duties which their representatives discharge, and the manner in which the proceedings in the Parliament are conducted. I repeat that my first impression was that the Government intended to institute educational broadcasts.
– They may also have entertainment value.
– If so, the Minister will be on the air quite a lot, because he is the greatest source of- entertainment in this House. I have no doubt that the people will assess at its true worth the clowning in which he indulges from time to time.
– Because of. the disgraceful scene in which the honorable member was. a leading figure last night, . he ought to be expelled from the Parliament. He behaved like a scoundrel.
– The Minister knows that the presiding officer, and no other person, is responsible for the failure to preserve order, as was the case last night.
-Order! Both, the honorable member and the Minister know that proceedings in committee may not be canvassed in the House.
– I thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am glad that the Minister has been reprimanded. The recommendations of the Broadcasting Committee must be given effect if the Government is sincere and there is not to be a party, political “ slant “ to the broadcasts. The non-party Broadcasting Committee made a thorough investigation, and submitted recommendations which the Government has not seen fit to adopt.
– This bill was based on the recommendations of the committee.
– It does not give effect to the recommendations of the committee.
– It does.
– Those recommendations can be given full effect only by broadcasting the complete proceedings, rather than by doing what is proposed by clause 14.
– Clause 14 deals with privilege, and has no relation to the hours during which the broadcasts shall be made. ,
– It seems to me that the bill makes provision for the broadcasting of only portion of the proceedings. A committee will determine what portion of the proceedings is to be broadcast from this House and the Senate. Only if the complete proceedings of this House and the Senate are broadcast will there be any educational value, or a true and unbiased account, in the broadcasts.
– There has been no opposition to the bill from any speaker.
– Opposition to it will be voiced before the conclusion of the debate. These broadcasts, if properly made, will be of educational value, not only to the general public, but also to honorable members. ‘ Further, they will have a stern disciplinary effect, by compelling honorable members, at least those who sit on the other side of the House, to attend to their duties in this chamber and to pay some attention to the debates, instead of allowing the burden to be carried by a few Ministers. It will force them, and honorable members generally, to pay more attention to the details of their speeches. At the same time, this innovation carries a danger with it. There is an increasing tendency on the part of honorable members, and Ministers in particular, to read their speeches, and the temptation to consult notes freely will be much greater when the proceedings are being broadcast. Honorable members will be disposed to rely upon the written word in order that their ideas may be expressed in logical sequence.
No action or proceeding, civil or criminal, sim] 1 lie against any person for broadcasting tiny portion of the proceedings of either House of the Parliament.
– If he made ‘it Maliciously, or knowing it to be false.
– Privilege was conferred on members of Parliament in the early seventeenth century when the Stuarts reigned in England. Our democracy was then in its infancy, and ‘ the granting of privilege was necessary in order to guard the right of free speech by members of Parliament. -I believe that the proposed amendment of the honorable member for Warringah does not cover the entire ground. Take for instance, questions asked in Parliament. Under the Standing Orders no statement may be made, or information conveyed, in the asking of a question, but a question can be just as damaging as a straight-out statement, as was illustrated some little while ago by a question asked by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Mountjoy).
– It is recognized in law that a. person may be defamed by innuendo.
– I agree that a committee of privileges should be established to determine whether privilege has been abused, and to discipline members of Parliament. The existence of such a committee would tend to improve the tone of the House, and to prevent wilful defamation.
The arguments advanced from this side of the House are strong enough to justify, the Minister in postponing further consideration of the bill, so that- he may consult with his legal advisers during the week-end, and confer with his colleagues in order to decide whether it. is proper that privilege should be granted to a particular section because it happens to be concerned with the broadcasting of the proceedings of Parliament. The Government should also give further consideration to the recommendation of the Broadcasting Committee that the entire proceedings of Parliament should be broadcast, so that no party or member might suffer by the selection pf particular portions to be broadcast.
.- Until, this afternoon, I had thought that . there could not be much debate on this bill. The purpose “of the measure is to authorize a certain thing to bc done, namely, the picking up by microphone of words spoken in this Parliament and the broadcasting of ‘them so that they maybe heard by the people in their homes if they wish. The number of dangers in such a simple proposal which members of the Opposition are able to imagine is astounding. A microphone is an impersonal piece of mechanism. A devastating interjection will be thrown out to the people no less effectively than the words of the man making the speech. It. is the practice, for a speaker from one side of the House to be followed by a speaker from the other side. Honorable members opposite profess to fear that, if the proceedings of Parliament are broadcast for a limited time only, a good speech on one side may not be answered over the air by one from the other side. That, however, will apply to all parties. If a period of two hours is fixed for broadcasting, and half a dozen twenty-minutes speeches are made in that’ time, no one can plan beforehand who will get the advantage of the arrangement.
It has been further objected that the bill will permit the broadcasting of slanderous statements. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) said that the press was compelled to give a fair report of the debates in Parliament. I have not noticed it, and the honorable member slurred daintily from the subject of libel to that of a fair report of debates. If a scandalous statement is made in Parliament, the newspapers usually report it as “ so and so said such and such a thing”. In this way, newspaper readers are aware that the thing reported is not a statement by the newspaper itself. In the same way, the listener who hears over the air a scandalous statement by a member of Parliament will know that it is no more than a statement made by that particular member. I cannot understand the reasoning of those who pretend that listeners will regard scandalous statements which they hear over the air as true, whereas they will not so regard scandalous statements reported in the press. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) has suggested that a court should be set up to determine whether a member of Parliament made a particular statement maliciously, or knew it to be false. In other words, the committee is to be asked to get inside the skull of the member and find out whether, when he made that statement, he knew it to be malicious or false. It is extraordinary that such a. suggestion should come from a lawyer who has himself cross-examined witnesses in court, and must know how hard it is to get inside the mind of another person. The honorable member for Wentworth, pointing out what he regarded as another flaw in this bill, contended that if the debates are broadcast we shall be compelled to be logical. 1 can well imagine the honorable gentleman regarding that as disastrous. From the point of view of this chamber it is, I believe, most desirable that the standard of debate be lifted by our consciousness of the necessity to be on our best behaviour, since our constituents might be listening in, and also that we be compelled to present our case to our constituents as logically and clearly as we can. Honorable members opposite have said that the press of this country reports the debates very impartially. I do not agree .with that statement. Ever since the suggestion was made that the proceedings of the Parliament should be broadcast, by cartoons and articles the press has ridiculed it, regarding this innovation as a breach of the press monopoly. To control and own newspapers nowadays is expensive. Newspaper concerns are backed by a large number of investors, who, in the main, come from the wealthy sections of the community, and, accordingly, the newspapers principally represent the view of the wealthier section, which supports the policies and principles of honorable members opposite. Though that statement applies most emphatically to the press of New .South Wales, there is much more mathematical fairness in the press of Western Australia. Our words will, in future, be picked up by an impersonal instrument and broadcast to. our constituents, and the people will hear the whole of the debate, not what the newspaper reporter or the editor thinks of it, but the debate as it takes place in this House. For instance, the Sydney Morning Herald recently reported me as saying that taxation has not annihilated spending power. But what that newspaper did not report were my succeeding words, in which I stated that out of the proceeds of taxation £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, and that, in addition, £73,000,000 had to be found for deferred pay and £65,000,000 for social services, or a total of £318,000,000, all of which went straight back to the community. The press, however, printed only what, taken out of its context, represented a provocative statement. My whole speech was thus belittled by selective reporting. It would have been better to have reported none of it than to have bowdlerized it in that way. When the debates are broadcast listeners will learn not what editors and reporters think they should learn but the whole of the views as expounded by honorable members in this chamber. For that reason I support the bill.
.- Honorable members on this side of the House are not opposed in principle to the broadcasting of the parliamentary debates. They believe that the people should be given the opportunity to hear their representatives debate national issues in this Parliament; but they contend that such an innovationcan be effective only if certain fundamental principles are observed. The first of these is that listeners should hear either the whole ornone of the debate. There should be no attempt to broadcast only selected portions of a debate because that would give an incomplete picture of the proceedings and be unfair to parliamentarians and the public alike. Obviously, however, that is intended by the Government. My objection to the bill in its present form is that it gives a blank cheque to the Government. There appears to be only one positive operative clause in the bill, namely, clause 4, and there are what I might describe as two negative clauses - clauses which take away certain privileges - namely, clauses 14 and 15. Clause 4, the single operative clause, provides -
Notwithstanding anything contained in the Australian Broadcasting Act 1942, the Australian Broadcasting Commission shall broadcast the proceedings of the Senate or the House of Representatives from -
a medium-wave national broadcasting station in the capital city in each State and in the city of Newcastle in the State of New South Wales; and
) such other national broadcasting stations (including short-wave national broadcasting stations) as are prescribed, upon such days and during such periods as the committee determines.
An examination of the remainder of the bill discloses that it deals principally with the composition and functions of the Joint Committee which is to control the broadcasting of the proceedings of the Parliament. So little satisfied was the Government with the bill as originally drafted and passed by the Senate, that it has thought necessary to introduce a sheaf of amendments in this House.Why were not those amendments introduced during the debate in the Senate? It is obvious that the Government does not know exactly where it stands in regard to this matter; and that it is changing its views according to the dictates of the most vociferous members of the caucus. Had the Government been prepared to accept the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) which was supported by the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. McEwen) and honorable members generally on this side of the House, namely, that all of the proceedings should be broadcast, there would have been no need for all of this “ shillyshallying”. If the broadcasts are complete every one will be satisfied; and if selected debates are to be broadcast they should be broadcast in toto. The Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) does not appear to have read the report of the Broadcasting Committee.
– I have not only read it, but I am also completely familiar with its contents.
– Then the honorable gentleman must be too dumb to understand it. In its report the committee stated -
Taking the long-range view, and bearing in mind that the substitution would be limited to an average of 50 days and 30 nights in the year, and having regard to the evidence that country listeners in New Zealand prefer the parliamentary proceedings to the alternative programmes available to them, we consider it is more important, in a democracy, to use a publicly-owned instrumentality such as the national broadcasting service to keep the community adequately informed of the activities of their elected representatives, and thereby stimulate individual thought in national and international affairs, than to give priority to the use of that instrumentality as a medium mainly of entertainment.
The report goes on to point out that the debates should be broadcast as a whole. The question arises as to whether this can possibly be done at present. That is the real issue before the House. All of us undoubtedly desire that the electors should be fully informed as to the proceedings in the Parliament. I have no objection to my opponent being given the same apportunity as I enjoy to have his speech broadcast. In fact I frequently invite my political opponents to sit with me on a public platform so that the people may hear both sides of a question. It is only fair that the people- who have to pay for this entertainment or instruction, call it what, you may, shall be entitled to know exactly what their representatives in this Parliament are saying and not- merely what some of their representatives are saying. The only question that arises is one of practicability, whether it is possible to ensure that everybody in Australia will be able to hear the views put forward by every section represented in the Parliament on every subject debated here. If .that is not practicable, we have then to consider whether it is possible for every section to hear the whole of certain selected debates. The limitations imposed by clause 4 of the bill indicates that large sections of the community will be denied an opportunity to listen to the debates. Because of their remoteness from a national station many of the electors of Maranoa will obviously be precluded, from listening to the debates, and the same applies to many people in my electorate. The people living in the Taree district, for instance, have always experienced the greatest difficulty in maintaining a constant volume of reception from the national stations. For many years I have endeavoured to have an additional regional station established in northern New South Wales in order that listeners residing there may be assured of adequate reception from the national stations
M>. Calwell. - Why did the right honorable gentleman not take steps to provide such a station when governments of which he was a member were in office?
– -I was instrumental in having one additional regional station, namely, 2.NR, provided. In fact, governments with which I have bean, associated have introduced almost every worth-while proposal for the betterment of the conditions of the people of this country. The postal services of this country have never recovered from the set-back which was brought about by Labour’s mismanagement of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in 1929-30. Miserable economies were principally directed against the rural population, and so bad is the position to-day that n farmer has almost’ to mortgage his farm in order to have a telephone installed. There is no selective discrimination within the Parliament itself, and there should be no discrimination in the selection of matter to be broadcast to the people. Although I am not an opponent of the proposal to . broadcast the proceedings of Parliament, I would prefer that the money proposed to be expended for this purpose be. utilized for the improvement and extension of regional broadcasting services. Whilst I am prepared to support the bill, subject to acceptance of the amendments foreshadowed by honorable members on this side of the House, I believe that adequate steps should be taken to ensure that this medium of conveying information to the people of Australia shall not be used for purely propaganda purposes, i. ask leave to continue my remarks at the next sitting.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Northern Territory: Cattle-dip steak Alice Springs - Galvanized Iron - Road Repairs - Water Conservation and Hydro-electric Power - Poultry Industry: Price of Eggs - Aborigines: Electoral Rights - Pig Meats : Prices in Victoria.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed - .
That the House do now adjourn.
– The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) stated this morning that it was proposed to place a cattle dip near Alice Springs instead of 15 miles away, because of the requirements of the South Australian Government that beasts consigned to Adelaide must be trucked within 24 hours of their having been dipped. This raises the whole issue of cattle dips in the light rainfall area of Central Australia and the dry Barkly Tablelands. In’ those areas ticks, which require humid conditions for their existence, cannot survive. The cattle tick came to Australia from ‘the islands in the 1890’s, bringing with it red water fever, which became endemic in northern Australia. At that time we had a small cattle trade with Singapore. In 1897, the South Australian Government debarred cattle from the tick area from the Adelaide meat market. The report of that action was read by an authority in Singapore, who decided that what was barred from Adelaide should also be barred from Singapore. Since then there has been a lot of nonsense talked and written about the cattle tick. . I repeat that it has no chance of living in dry areas because it must have humidity to exist, let alone thrive. Cattle-raisers from the humid areas and the humid areas of the Barkly Tablelands have had their cattle knocked about over the years by the number of dippings that they have to undergo before they are allowed into Queensland. The first dip is at Rankine Plain and then there is a double dip at Lake Nash on the Queensland border. Cattle thar set out from the stations as fat stock become so knocked about in the dips that they have to spend a year on agistment in order to regain condition or have to be sold cheap to buyers- from Charleville or Quilpie. They are not fit, after this gruelling, to be trucked from the railhead at Dajarra. That is serious enough, but it is ludicrous that cattle should have to be dipped at Alice Springs where the 10-in. rainfall is insufficient for the ticks to have a chance of surviving. Where the ‘dip is needed is at Newcastle Waters, 500 miles north of Alice Springs, because there we have the line of demarcation, between the humid and dry areas. After passing south from Newcastle Waters, the cattle enter the light rainfall area and the ticks drop off the beasts. I believe that sinister influences among South Australian and Victorian cattle breeders are the reason for the latest move against their competitors in Central Australia where the choicest beef is grown. Those influences have led the Premier of South Australia and the Premier of Victoria to place great difficulties in the way of the northern cattlemen getting their fat stock to the markets in those States, and some people in Western Australia are also convinced that north. Australian cattle should not be allowed to enter that State. The expenditure on a dip at Alice Springs is unwarranted, and I advise the Minister for the Interior not to listen to the idea. If a dip must be built, build at Newcastle Waters. I appeal to the Minister not to harass the unfortunate cattlemen’ of Central Australia. Dips already exist near Kelly’s Well and Mucketly Bore which have for years been treated as a joke by experienced cattlemen, despite the fact that Kelly’s Well is 300 miles north of Alice Springs and Mucketly Bore is still farther north. I will donate five guineas to the Alice Springs Hospital when any one finds a tick at Alice Springs.
.- Last week I directed the attention of the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. . Lazzarini) to the urgent need for galvanized tank iron for the droughtstricken area of Muudubbera which has had no rain for water conservation purposes for two or three years.’ Representations have been made to the authorities in Queensland for the supply of this iron without success. The only plumber in the town has not been able to get tank iron for months, not even a sheet, and he has appealed to me to do what I can to influence the Minister to order the release - of sufficient to meet the district’s needs. . The plumber has orders for more than 200 tanks that are required immediately. Water has to be carted for people and stock from the only available water, ‘he Burnett, River, some miles away. Yet the plumber is unable to secure one sheet of iron. I made personal representations to the Minister to ensure that supplies ‘ went forward; but some days later I received the stereotyped circular advising me that the matter was being handled by the State Co-ordinator-General. Everyone knows that that officer handles these matters; but all of the people concerned also know that no supplies are being sent to Queensland. I shall continue to demand action on the part of the Minister in this matter until I obtain satisfaction.
.- I take this opportunity to emphasize two means by which the Government can help - greatly to increase primary production and prevent waste. First, we need to repair the roads throughout Australia which have been seriously damaged by war-time traffic, particularly in heavy rainfall districts. The damage ha3 not only been caused by heavy wartime traffic; it is also due to the fact that local, governmet bodies did not possess road-repair machinery, this having been requisitioned by war-time constructing authorities. Secondly, we can increase primary production by improved methods of water conservation, by harnessing our major streams, thus providing a solid core of power which would help to make good any loss of -power due to insufficient coal supplies.
Very great damage has been done to both country and main roads during the war, particularly in coastal areas as the result of the withdrawal of small coastal steamers for mine-sweeping purposes. This withdrawal has meant that less use has been made of the minor ports, and has involved the carriage of heavy loads of timber, and other goods by road to the main manufacturing centres. These roads would not have been used for this purpose to anything like the same degree had normal coastal shipping been continued. In one district alone in northern New South Wales, between Grafton and Coffs Harbour, more than 1,000,000 additional tons of timber has been transported by road which normally would have been conveyed to’ the manufacturing centres by coastal steamer. The changeover from the manufacture of butter and cream to the manufacture of other milk products, has involved the transport of great quantities of whole milk, and this extra heavy traffic has taken serious toll of many roads where previously the loads consisted of concentrated cream. The demand for increased supplies of timber for war purposes has been tremendous. During the six years of war, the industry produced more timber than in any other similar period in its history. The output of hardwood timber was doubled, and that’ of softwoods was increased enormously. The heavy loads and heavy vehicles have played havoc with not only country roads but also main roads. I have in mind the roads from Grafton through Woolgoolga to Coffs Harbour, from. Grafton to Armidale, the main road from Smithtown to Taree and the Manning, and the Clarence Valley road. Great quantities of minerals, like chrome ore, have been transported over these roads. Owing to the fact that their roadrepairing machinery had been requisitioned for war purposes, local government authori- ties were not able to keep these roads in a ‘ reasonable state of repair, and consequently, the roads have practically gone to pieces. . Only yesterday I received a petition signed by 1,300 residents in the Manning district asking that the Commonwealth Government grant financial aid to the local shire council to enable it to lay down a bitumen road ‘from Harrington to Coopernook. The responsibility of repairing these roads is that of the National Government, because” it is the duty of the Commonwealth to- make good the damage caused directly as the result of war-time operations. 1 ask the Commonwealth, as part of its defence expenditure, to allocate the sum of £5,000,000 to be distributed to shires in order to enable them to carry out repairs to roads. This work is essential because of the heavier class of vehicles now used for road transport. I also urge the Government to inaugurate a scheme, subsidiary to the Federal Aid Roads scheme, which deals with main roads, for this purpose, and to finance such a scheme by allocating, say, 2d. a gallon of the petrol tax. The effect of this subsidiary scheme would be to enable local government authorities to work continuously upon the repair of country roads damaged by war-time traffic! At the same time, main roads could be repaired under the Federal Aid Roads Agreement.
This work should be co-ordinated with works undertaken by the waterconservation authorities in the different States. The weir across the Molonglo -River at Canberra, which has been constructed to serve as a bridge as well as to dam up the water, is a very good example of what should be a general practice throughout the Commonwealth in order to conserve water. A ‘ very great advantage of such weirs, which serve as both bridge and weir, is that they do not cost more than bridges.
Secondly, I urge the Government to take immediate action to utilize all available water-power with a view to supplementing the electric power now produced mainly from coal. Anyone who has been in Sydney during the last two or three weeks will realize the unfortunate conditions existing in that great city because of lack of electric power owing to the shortage of coal. Power is the life-blood of the nation. Owing to recurring shortages of coal, Australian industry is becoming almost anaemic. These shortages hold up production, causing unemployment, loss of wages, and the lowering of living standards. For many years our people have been encouraged to electrify their homes. To-day many homes are equipped with refrigerators, electric stoves,- and many other electric installations; but their owners now find that sufficient power is not available to enable them to gain the benefit of these improvements. Such conditions disrupt domestic life. As the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) said, ‘living conditions in our big cities are declining to Elizabethan levels. If we are to make Australia a great country, capable of carrying a population of 20,000,000 people, we shall require to increase our total coal production to 40,000,000 tons’ annually, that is, three times as much as our present total production. Power is urgently required to enable the expansion of our great iron and steel industries. The demand for coal will be so great that the miners will always be assured of employment.
In addition, we must harness the water resources of the country. Tasmania is fortunate in having a potential of 3,000,000 horse-power. The mainland, apparently, has only two major sources of hydro-electric power, namely, the Snowy and Clarence, .”Rivers. Each has a capacity of 250,000 horse-power. Unfortunately, the development of the Snowy River must be a comparatively slow process, and that is accentuated by the dispute between the Governments of Victoria and New South Wales regarding the wisest means of utilizing its waters, whether wholly for power or partly for power and partly for irrigation. Whatever the final decision may be, the Commonwealth Government should insist upon the immediate construction of a dam at Jindabyne.
No such interstate difficulty arises regarding the Clarence River. Although this river is in New South Wales, Brisbane and southern Queensland urgently required additional power from this source of supply. The physical characteristics of the Clarence River will permit of progressive power development. From 10,000 horse-power to 15,000 horse-power could be made available to the general electric system within nine or twelve months by harnessing the natural flow of the river. In three years, 100,000 horsepower could be. developed. The remaining generating opportunities could be developed progressively as required.
The natural flow of the Clarence River approximates 3,000 cubic feet a second. The full development of the power capacity of the river will be achieved by the construction of a dam at the Clarence Gorge. In the first 1^ miles from the site of the suggested dam, the drop of between 50 feet and 60 feet would enable the generation, with this flow, of from 10,000 to 15,000 horse-power. The Clarence project is being examined at the present time by expert engineers, under agreement by the three governments of the Commonwealth, New South Wales and Queensland. These engineers have given a favorable interim report. They ask for further detailed information to be obtained by surveyors on the spot. Given two survey parties, this information could be obtained within six months, and, on this information, the decision as to the nature of the final development could be made.
The Nymboida hydro-electric scheme, which uses the natural flow of the Nymboida River in the way suggested for the use of the Clarence, took less than one year to install from the time the first sod was turned. Connexion has recently been made between this water power station and the Zara Street coal power station at Newcastle. Generating an extra 10,000 horse-power on the Clarence, and feeding it into the main electric system, would save enough coal to keep more railway mail trains running, or permit suburban trains and trams to run at half-hourly intervals instead of hourly,’ or to give homes the use of electric power and gas in the whole system for an extra couple of hours or .permit the use of more lights in houses instead of the one which each household was permitted under the last rationing system. Every day’s work on this development of the Clarence would increase the power available to the general system. Preliminary work necessary to give this immediate assistance would not affect the final power problem or the final decision, as the machinery of this original small power station at the Gorge would be ultimately moved to some new point as the development of the river proceeded, and would be of very great value in the actual construction of the Gorge Dam. In view of the very early relief that this scheme could give immediately, and its insurance value on an interstate basis when fully developed, I urge that the Government put on as many surveyors and engineers as can be fully employed to secure the necessary data and to proceed with the immediate commencement, of this indispensable work.
.- Last March, I directed attention to the financial difficulties of poultry farmer* in Victoria, and, indeed, throughout Australia. On that occasion, I pointed out that those difficulties were caused, first, by the substantial increase of the prices of poultry feed and other ina t4ria : used in the industry - some of the increases are as high as 60 per cent. - and secondly, by the rigidity of the ceiling price for eggs. In the course of my remarks, I cited instances of the increases of the costs of materials and poultry, food, and, in concluding my remarks, I suggested to the Government the advisability of adopting one of three courses. First, I recommended that the price of eggs should be increased during the winter months, taking into account the increased cost of production. The second proposal, which I did not recommend, was the payment of a subsidy ‘,o recoup poultry farmers for their los?e?. The third course “was the possibility of increasing the price of eggs for export, because large numbers of Australian eggs are selling in the United Kingdom at prices considerably lower than those paid for eggs from Canada and the United States of America. The Government did not act upon my proposals, and after having made repeated inquiries, I elicited from the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) that the matter had been referred to the Prices Commissioner. To date, no decision has been made, and the poultry industry n i’i .-> parlous condition.
I have here a series of costs on a poultry farm in my district, and I shall read them to the House for the purpose of showing the actual situation in regard to the financing of poultry farms. The figures may be accepted as being reliable, because they approximate those which have been worked out for poultry farms generally in my electorate, and throughout Victoria. The costs are based upon the following data: - 1,000 adult hens, each of which lays 144 eggs per annum. The normal average in Victoria is 120 eggs per annum. The total production of this particular farm is 12,000 dozen eggs per annum. The farmer does not employ assistance except for a fortnight annually when he takes a holiday. From January to June he works for eight hours a day for seven days a week, and from July to December ton hours a day for seven clays a week. The rate of mortality among the adult hens is 15 per cent. The following arc the items of expenditure : - Food, 7s. 7d. per hen, £379 3s. 4d. per annum, 7.5Sd. a dozen; sundries, £52 per annum, 10.04d. a dozen- ; . replacement of flock, net cost £92 10s. 6d. per annum, 1.85d. a dozen; interest, at 4 per cent, on farm valued at £1,250, £50 per annum or Id. a dozen; freight at ls. a case, £20 per annum, 0.4d. a dozen; grading, accounting, candling and selling, £87 10s. per annum, 1.75d. a dozen; board levy, £50 per annum, Id. a dozen; wages of farmer, 56 hours a week at £6 3s., £319 16s.; overtime, two hours a day for six months, £55 4s. ; remuneration for a substitute who attends to the farm for a fortnight while the owner has a holiday, 112 hours at 3s. an hour, £16 16s., 7.84d. a dozen;, total expenditure, £1,172 19s. 4d., equivalent to 23.46d. a dozen.
Assuming that the prices for 1.945-46 hold and that two-thirds of the eggs are sold at the summer rates and the remainder at the winter rate, - the return will be £1,105. or 20.30d. a dozen. The difference between expenditure and income of 3d. a dozen can be met only by deducting £3 a week from the farmer’s wages, a total ‘of £150 per annum. The basic-wage earner in Victoria receive.? £4 18s. per week, or £254 16s. 4d. per annum. Consequently, the, poultry farmer wi.tl. a net income of £241 a, year-, including, oVertime, is in a worse, position than is. the. basic- w.age earner.. If the, basicw.age eai;ner worked a similar number of’ hours, his, wages,, with- overtime, would total £4,06 2s. 6,cL per annum, 0r £250 per annum more than the poultry-farmer receives.
T draw the. attention of the Government to this matter because, the present situation is, an artificial one created by an increase, of production costs on the one ha.nd and by the maintenance. o,f % ceiling price, for eggs on the other, hand. The Government lias a responsibility ito ensure that this, state, of affairs shall not continue.
I come now to another aspect of the matter. Poultry farmers are considering taking steps to test the validity of the. Government’s action in the High Court. Honorable- members will recall that- not leng ago growers «f apples and pears and blue peas. took similar actions and that the Government lost both cases. The position amongst poultry farmers is substantially the same as that which obtained amongst apple and pear orchardists and blué-pea growers. The situation in the poultry industry may be described by quoting the relative’ National Security Regulations. In Statutory Rules 1943,, N.o. 96, regulation 16 states -
The. .Minister may, from time to time, by order published in the Gazette, make provision for the acquisition by the Commonwealth of all eggs described in the order, whether by reference to any contingency or otherwise, and the eggs so described shall, by force of and in accordance with the provisions of the, order, become the absolute property of the Commonwealth, freed from all mortgages, charges, liens, pledges, interests and’ trusts affecting the eggs and the rights and interests of every person in the eggs (including any rights or interests arising in respect of any moneys advanced in respect of the eggs), shall thereupon be eon verted into claims for compensation.
Regulation 19 states -
Upon delivery or consignment of any eggs in accordance with regulation 17 of. these Regulations, or upon any eggs being disposed of or dealt with in accordance with that regulation, every person having any right or interest in those eggs may forward to the Controller a claim for compensation in a form approved by the Controller, and shall be entitled to be paid such amount of compensation as is equal to the value which the eggs had on the. day on which they were acquired.
Regulation 22 reads -
Th.e. ^fillister., may, by order published, in Gazette, provide* that a producer “shall not self any eggs ‘except to the Controller or with the permission in writing of the Controller.
The situation now is that all the eggs produced- in this country are acquired by the Controller of Egg Supplies. Sales to the Controller ai;e ‘ effected at a price fixed by the Prices Commissioner, which is not necessarily the market price, and in many cases is. not a fair price”. Amending, regulations w(ere issued’ in Statutory Rjil.es 1943, No. 239* making it clear that poultry, farmers may. sell eggs only to the Controller or at his direction. Not long ago, the firm pf Carter Brothers, one. of the largest . egg-producing concerns in Australia, was fined £170 for having sold eggs to a person other than the Controller. j submit that the price payable to poultry farmers to-day for eggs is not just, and 1 hope that to avoid action in i’he High Court the Government will take Steps to. ensure that poultry farmers shall receive a fair return for their product. The main difficulty, of course, is encountered during (he winter months, when production ‘ costs rise, and the yield of eggs declines. If ali adjustment were made in respect of those months, the present problem would be largely eliminated’.
.- 1 wish to bring to the notice of the’ Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson), who, T believe, favours a fair deal for Australian aborigines, a matter concerning some of these people. As a member of what is known a? the Victorian Aboriginal G;]’0.up, my attention has been directed to the fact that in that State Australian aborigines, although educated, entitled to exercise a vote at State elections, and liable to municipal taxes, arc not eligible “to vote at Commonwealth elections. This may seem to be a small matter, but it is not regarded as such by eminent Australian aborigines like Douglas Nichols.) who is known to most Victorians as a man of intelligence, a reputable citizen, and a. prominent athlete, haying for many years been a league ‘footballer with the Fitzroy club. This anomaly has been put to various authorities for an opinion, and the following is the view of Professor Elkin : -
My understanding of the act regarding Commonwealth franchise is based on opinions given to me by Sir Robert Garran when I was writing my small book. Citizenship for the. A Aboriginies; you will see references on page 105 mid page 100. The point is that no person, irrespective of ancestry, who can vote at elections for the more numerous house of the State Parliament shall ‘be prevented from voting at elections for either house of the Parliament of the Commonwealth. In this State, of course, all aborigines, full-blooded or other, can vote in State and Federal elections I understand, as I have stated on page 105, that any person of aboriginal blood can lie enrolled and vote for the State Parliament, and. therefore, for the Commonwealth, and I a.m amazed to hear that there is any question of this.
There is some conflict df opinion on this matter. Here is a. statement by Professor Patton -
Publicity has recently been given to the status of Australian aboriginals in terms which seem to show some confusion as to the real position. It has been stated, for example, that they are citizens of the State but not nf the Commonwealth, and that they may. vote for the State Parliament. This is not the case. The Common wealth Constitution (section 41) provides that no person who has a right to. vote for the more numerous house of n State shall be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from voting at- Commonwealth elections. Australian aboriginals, therefore, cannot be prevented from voting at Commonwealth elections unless they are expressly disfranchised by their State. (The definition of ‘aboriginal” varies from State to State.)
Mr. A. O. Neville, a former Director of Native Affairs, states -
In 1044 I referred this matter to the Department of the Interior and was told that “ except under the Electoral War-time Act. aborigines ure not entitled to vote at any Commonwealth election “. He also says that section 41 of the Constitution “has been interpreted, by the instructions issued to electoral registrars “, as moaning that the right must .have been acquired prior to the passing of. the Commonwen Hh Franchise Act of 1002.
The Victorian aboriginal group says -
As the section reads “ has or acquires the right to vote “. this would seem a most arbitrary and impossible interpretation, and it. would appear that different practices have been followed by the Commonwealth officers in different States.
Our record in the treatment of the Australian aborigines since the establishment of white civilization in this country is not good. Here , is an opportunity to uplift the morale of at least a few of them. I am not referring to the myalls or to other aborigines who are incapable of exercising a vote, but to those members of the race who are good Australian citizens. In 1938, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), the right honorable member member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) and I had an audience with the King of Egypt. While we were waiting to see him we met his uncle, Mehemet Ali, who had been to” Australia. He spoke disparagingly of this country. I suggested that a country with 120,000,000 sheep might appeal to him, and he replied that he did not dis-. agree with everything that we did. He admired the way we treated the aborigines, but asked, “Why don’t you kill them all at once, instead “of a few at a time?” And ho meant it, which gives some idea of how we are regarded abroad. We talk of Commonwealth control of the aborigines, and I am in favour of . that policy, but our record federally in that respect is worse than that in some of the States. Of what use is Commonwealth control if the natives are given a lower legal status under the Commonwealth than undera State authority? The association asks who issued instructions to disfranchise aborigines who were already citizens of a State? Is the Minister for the Interior aware of those’ instructions, and has he sanctioned them? Have they any legal force, in view df the terms of the Constitution? I ask the Minister to look into the matter from the constitutional point of view, for the peace of mind of those natives who consider that they should enjoy Australian citizenship.
– I support the remarks of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) regarding the dipping of cattle at Alice Springs. I agree that it is unprecedented and stupid to impose a law that cattle in so arid an area should be dipped. The cattle tick is indigenous to tropical district’s, and cannot live in the dry areas of Central Australia. Some horses associated with a mob of cattle were brought into Alice- Springs from the north and tick, was found on them. Certain people with a curious mentality have now decided that because of this occurrence it is necessary to construct a dip at Alice Springs.
– The honorable member knows by whom the restriction ha=> been imposed.
– It is a requirement of South Australia, and the Commonwealth authorities have no arbitrary power to defy that State iri the matter, but no practical cattle-man would regard it as reasonable to require the construction of a cattle dip at Alice Springs. The Commonwealth authorities should try to persuade the Government of South Australia that its action is unreasonable. The movement of cattle overland in Western Australia is not restricted by a requirement that cattle shall be dipped. A comparable requirement is not attached to the movement of cattle in Queensland, which embodies both arid and tropical areas.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory protested against the dip being constructed near the point at Alice Springs at which cattle are trucked. The trip from Alice Springs to the slaughter yards at Dry Creek, near Adelaide, is a long one, and the requirement by South Australia would result in an additional day elapsing before the stock could be slaughtered. To dip. cattle near the trucking centre would result in most of them dying from pneumonia. If the dip is to be constructed at the point of loading, where about 20,000 cattle are trucked annually, they will have to be held for an additional 24 hours in yards completely devoid of stock feed. So there will be another 24 hours of starvation and wastage before slaughter. If the South Australian authorities insist’ on this requirement the dip “should be constructed some distance out of Alice Springs, in an area which ought to be acquired by the Commonwealth authorities, and where stock feed would be available. An arrangement should be made with South Australia to waive the requirement for trucking within 24 hours, as it is obviated by the dipping regulations applying to cattle arriving at the Dry Creek slaughter yards. There the regulations provide that the cattle shall be held for a week or two before slaughter, provided they are held under certain conditions of quarantine. I hope that the Minister will endeavour to arrange that a great burden shall not be placed on Northern Territory cattle producers.
Certain action was taken in Victoria two or three weeks ago in respect of pig prices and sales. It also concerns honest administration. Ceiling prices are fixed for pigs and pig carcasses. As the Government has well known for a couple of years, auction sale values have been very considerably in excess of the proclaimed ceiling prices. That has- not been a secret. The Meat Controller and the Department of Commerce have known it. The weight of and the prices paid for pigs have been published weekly in every newspaper in Victoria. The auction sales could be attended by representatives of the Meat Control and Prices Control. Yet for a long period the Government did nothing to correct the position. Following protests by bacon curers, butchers and exporters, a meeting was held. It was reported to have been presided over by the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard), who, as we know, assists the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully). .According to reports, it was attended by representatives of the Deputy Controller of Meat in Victoria, if not by the Deputy Controller personally. The object of the meeting was to discuss pig prices, and to decide whether action should be taken in regard to them. The first point that I make is that the people by whom the industry is conducted, the producers, were never informed of the intention to hold the meeting to discuss the fate of their industry, and not one of them was invited or given an opportunity to be present to state their views. It is reliably reported that it was decided to restore the market to the proclaimed ceiling-price level. Such a decision can be easily made, but not so easily given effect in an auction market of live stock, at which it is necessary that the human element shall be introduced in estimating the weight of the carcass and the quality of the beast, because the proclaimed market level ii based on the weight of the carcass. It was decided that some authority should be sent to all sales, with a view to ensuring that, in the, purchase of slock oil the hoof, the buyers should observe the. proclaimed carcass scale of rates. Lo and; behold, at all the sales in the Goulburn Valley area of. Victoria, a Mr. Wilson, who is in business as a buyer of pigs and normally attends sales in that capacity, attended them in the new guise of an inspector of the Government, with authority to estimate the weight and finality of the stock on the hoof, and to. ai-e:d<- what should be. their live value at auction!
– Totalitarian methods.
-Completely authoritarian. But that, is not novel in the administration of the Government. It is the inevitable concomitant of the crazy system of controls from which there seems to bc no escape. But the point that I make is the impropriety of cloth ing. w ith the authority of a government inspector a nian who is interested in the business as a buyer. That is a completely improper act of public administration, and it must be explained. The past cannot be recovered; but there must -be an explanation of’ how this occurred, and an assurance that the Government does not intend to repeat it.
I come now to the final point, lt !S generally believed in the Goulburn Valley districts of Victoria that, as a result of this action, which- was taken at only one or two sales, because of popular protest, against it, the producers lost at each normal pig sale in an average country town not less than £1,500. It is further generally believed that the gentleman who normally was a pig buyer but attended these sales with all the authority nf a Commonwealth inspector and, as suchactually fixed the prices of the pigs offered for sale, was himself a buyer of pigs at those sales. If that be true, the Government must explain how it could occur, ff it be not true, then the Government ought to clear itself of the charge. I do not make a charge against jr. I have deliberately used the words “ it is generally believed It is bad that in a country like this a large number of nien engaged in an important industry .-should almost unanimously believe that the Government has permitted such a thing to happen - that a man engaged in the industry as a buyer should be vested with the authority to fix the prices of pigs and, having- fixed them at £1, £1 5s. anc) £1 10s. a head lower than the previously prevailing level, should acquire for himself or his company the ownership of the pigs he had inspected. I put- it to the Government tha* this allegation must be investigated, and a reply to it must be made.
Mr. SPEAKER, _ ‘The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- -I shall bring to the notice of the respective Ministers the matters that have been raised by honorable members.
I am enthusiastically interested in. the proposal of the honorable member for Balaclava . (Mr. White) to extend the franchise as early as possible to aborigines whose education has reached such a standard that they are able to appreciate its value. Some States have already extended the franchise to a limited number of aborigines. I have had inquiries made in those States with a view to formulating a proposal, that will be acceptable to all States. The matter is well in hand, and I assure the honorable member that it will receive my’ very careful attention. I hope -that aborigines who have reached a satisfactory standard will be given the franchise in the near future. Both thehonorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) and the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) referred tq the construction of a. dip at Alice Springs. I explained to the House this morning that the new Administrator pf the Northern Territory, Mr. Driver, who will assume office on the 1st July, has already opened negotiations with the South Australian authorities on this subject. Mr. Driver proposes tq hold a conference between the South Australian authorities, .Commonwealth veterinary officers, and representatives of the Administration, at Alice Springs. In my Opinion, this is the proper way to approach the matter. I appreciate the fact that the proposed dip involves an imposition . ‘on residents of the Northern Territory, but when I agreed to its construction following representations made to me by “ the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Smith), I ‘could see no likelihood of the restriction imposed, by the South. Australian Government being lifted. The honorable member for the Northern Territory and the honorable member for Indi know that there is a certain definite fattening season for cattle in the Northern Territory and that, when cattle reach the peak of their condition, they must be started on the road south. I did not want any hold-up to occur at that stage, and therefore I sanctioned the construction of the dip. I hope that the conference to be convened by the new Administrator of the Northern Territory will have the desired result.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented: -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of External Affairs - H. Gilchrist.
House adjourned at 4.47p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the. Treasurer, upon notice -
Howmany of the loans made are in respect of (a) mortgages taken over from other banks and financial institutions, and
y. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Armed Forces: Liverpool Camp; Special Leave for ex-Prisoners of War-; Waterfront Employment.
asked the Minister for the fnterior, upon notice -
n. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice, -
e. - The answers to thu honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
Australian servicemen during and since the war, over and above their service pay, while engaged at the waterfront in the loading and unloading of ships?
e. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
y. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
y. - The answers to the right honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) Approximately £64,700; (6) approximately £12,000. 2. (a) £41,600. (b) £10,750. (c) £2,453- production cost only; no charges were made for screening. (d) £3,710 - this includes pamphlets; it isimpracticable to give separate figures for booklets, (e) £4,944 - posters only; pamphlets are included under(d) .(f) £2,482.
Public Service : Ex-SERVICE Employees.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he consider the restoration of Section 84 (9) (c) of the Commonwealth Public Service Act, which provided for the granting of permanent status to temporary returned soldier public servants who have been favorably reported upon after two years’ service?
y. - The Government does not propose at present to restore this section of the Commonwealth Public Service Act. The order . of preference foi’ appointment given by former section 84 (9) (c) did not always operate in the best interests of the Public Service and did not always operate fairly as between ex-servicemen. Men secured priority in permanent appointment merely by the fortuitous circumstance of having been available for temporary employment. Capable and highly efficient returned soldiers who baf] not sought temporary employment but wished to secure permanent appointment in the Commonwealth Public Service were debarred because of the preference given to those who happened to have been available earlier for temporary engagement.
r asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following answers : - 1 and 2. The Queensland Government, viewing the discussion between the Commonwealth and the States in relation to the administration of the Commonwealth employment service and the unemployment and sickness benefits scheme, did put forward a plan to administer these services as agents for the Commonwealth, but the Commonwealth decided that the arrangements proposed would not meet its requirements. 3, 4 and 0. The Commonwealth, as part of the nation-wide network of district employment offices which “ are implementing the Government’s policy of full employment, and other provisions of the Re-establishment. and Employment Act, has established offices in Brisbane and in twenty provincial centres in Queensland. These offices also participate in the administration of the unemployment and sickness benefits and other social service acts and generally will provide more extensive facilities and ‘services than were available from the State offices.
l. - Recently the honorable member for Warringah .(Mr. Spender) asked the following questions, upon notice -
As promised, I now supply the following answers: - 1_ to 3. The issue of passports to people desirous of proceeding overseas is governed by the Passports Act 1938 and the regulations issued thereunder. Since the outbreak of war the grant of passport facilities has also been subject to the National Security (Passport) Regulations, under which it was necessary that every person leaving Australia should be in possession of a passport or equivalent document and have it endorsed f or the particular journey. The restrictions under the National Security (Passport) Regulations will be lifted generally as from the 1st July, and applicants will then be entitled to receive passports upon compliance with the usual peace-time requirements, provided also that they are eligible to proceed to the country of intended destination.
Broadcasting : Government-sponsored Broadcasts.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General,upon notice -
Mr.Calwell. - The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers : -
Canberra: Destruction of Trees.
n.- On Wednesday last, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) requested information from the Prime Minister as to why trees and shrubs are daily being destroyed in Canberra. The following information is supplied in answer to the honorable member’s question: -
In creating the arboreal beauty of Canberra, the early planners and arboriculturists were faced with the problem of converting a sheep walk into what they hoped would become a garden city. In order to conquer the desiccating winds and the prevailing dust it was necessary to plant the avenues very thickly. It was realized that the trees and ornamental shrubs planted, in between the permanent avenue trees would later have to be removed before the competition of their branches and their roots became serious. That position was reached some years ago, and in order tomake sure that the work of thinning was carried out very carefully a committee was appointed to advise the department in this matter and on treeplanting in Canberra generally. The committee is called the Consultative Committee on Parks and Gardens, and consists of Dr. M. R. Jacobs, Director of the Australian Forestry School (Chairman), and Messrs. G. H. Romans and M. J. Moir. The Superintendent of Parks and Gardens, Mr. L. D. Prior, attends meetings of the committee. Its membership does not represent any particular interest, but it consists of men who have special knowledge of trees, landscapegardening and architecture and who consider the city and its beautification from a national point of view. Among its members is theSuper intendent of Parks and Gardens, who is directly responsible for the carrying out of all the work. All the thinning operations that have taken place since 1938 have been carried out on the recommendation of this committee in which the department has every confidence. A great deal more thinning will bo necessary before the avenue trees in Canberra may be said to be safe to grow into noble specimens. The removal of the golden cypress trees in Parliament House grounds, to which special reference has been made in the press, was a necessity. The growth of the permanent trees in the avenue has already been seriously retarded owing to root competition.
With regard to the pruning which has been carried out, the public must bear in mind that trees are living, growing things which must he led into their fullest development by the careful attention of the arboriculturists. Corrective treatment which has been and will be further carried out will ensure that in the future the trees will be well formed and stately, which they certainly never would have been had they not received attention. It is by the skill of the persons continually tending the trees that the ideal of the garden city will be attained in Canberra. It would be a shortsighted policy if unbridled development were allowed to ruin many fine plantings.
r asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice-
– The Commonwealth Statistician has furnished the following table: -
The Commonwealth Statistician has also furnished the following explanatory notes: -
The proportion of the gross national product represented by industries for which the value of production is directly recorded averaged only about 44 per cent. during this period. The table has been extended, therefore, to show the value of primary production as a percentage of gross national product.
” Net value of production “ means the value of output at the place of production minus the cost of materials, fuel, power, &c., but without deduction of depreciation. (c)” Gross national product” is the estimated aggregate value of all goods and services currently produced at market prices (including an allowance for the pay and allowances of members of the armed forces), also without deduction of depreciation.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 June 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1946/19460628_reps_17_187/>.