18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I move -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
Tt had been hoped that the budget debate >could have commenced next Tuesday, but the Leader of the Opposition considers - with much justification, I think - that members of his party should have a longer period than that would afford in which to study the budget statement. Therefore, it is proposed that the House shall meet on Wednesday of next week and on Tuesday in the following week, from which date it will sit on four days a week until the conclusion of this sessional period.
– Is it the intention of the Prime Minister to continue the budget debate to its conclusion before proceeding with other business?
– The present intention is to continue the budget debate to its conclusion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Building Tradesmen from Britain.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration whether the Government’s proposal to bring to Australia British building tradesmen from Britain has aroused sharp criticism there? Have British building trade, employers commented that the only justification for sending building tradesmen out of the country would be an urgent military call? Have the Australian immigration authorities in London stated that the proposal is to bring only 600 building tradesmen to Australia? Did the Government announce that the proposal was to bring out 1,000 building tradesmen? What are the terms of the arrangements originally made with the United King dom Government for bringing building tradesmen to Australia? Actually, how many of these men does the Government propose to bring out?
– I announced the policy of the Government in regard to immigration in this chamber on the 2nd August, 1945. I shall furnish a copy of my statement to the honorable gentleman so that he may understand precisely what is involved in proposals designed to attract 70,000 migrants a year. The intention is to bring to this country 1,000 building tradesmen. As a first instalment, we are endeavouring to recruit 600 of the 1,000 for Canberra alone. The first batch of the 600 building tradesmen of all categories will leave England within the next fortnight. It is hoped that another liner will sail within a month from that date, and that the whole of the 600 will be in Australia before next Easter. Those 600 men will be housed in buildings already obtained from the Tocumwal camp, and other camps. We should like to bring several thousands of building tradesmen from Great Britain, but tradesmen are needed there, too. We have struck a balance with the Government of the United Kingdom. We want to bring tradesmen here who will provide houses for Australians, and also for British migrants who, we hope, will come later. We expect that in the future migrants who follow other trades will come to this country. The first thing, however, is to provide for the building of homes, hospitals and schools. So far from opposition being offered in responsible quarters in Great Britain, we have received the greatest co-operation from the Trade Union Congress in that country, as from the Australasian Council of Trade Unions in Australia. There are some critics in Great Britain, hut they are not important - just as there are critics in .this country of the Government’s immigration policy, and they are equally unimportant.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping received complaints from farmers that kerosene of inferior quality is being sold? Will he ensure that farmers are protected in this regard ?
– I shall bring the matter to the notice of the Minister for Supply and Shipping, and ask him to make the necessary inquiries.
Wheat fob Queensland and New South Wales: Use of Hulks fob TRANSPORT
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping aware that acute drought conditions prevail in Queensland and northern New South Wales in the wheatgrowing areas so that it will be necessary within the next few months to move to the north thousands of tons of wheat from Western Australia and from the southern States? Is he aware that it is reported that existing transport facilities, both by rail and sea, will not be equal to moving this wheat? Will the Minister have a survey made of all hulks lying in Australian ports with a view to having them fitted for the carriage of wheat in bulk and in bags so that they might be towed from southern and western ports to ports in Queensland and northern New South Wales?
– Every honorable member in ‘this House knows that there has been a very bad drought in Queensland and north-western New South Wales. A question on this subject was asked yesterday, and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture replied that all possible steps were being taken to ensure that fodder and grain were sent from the south to the north, where it is most urgently required. I shall bring to the notice of the Minister for Supply and Shipping the suggestion of the honorable member, and if it has merit I am sure that the Minister will see that it is given effect.
– Has the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research read a paragraph in to-day’s newspapers that experiments were being conducted in the United States of America to induce the formation of snow by spreading dry ice pellets from aeroplanes over clouds? Will he ask the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to investigate the matter, and have experiments of the same kind conducted in Australia?
– I have not seen the press report mentioned by the honorable member, but I shall look at it, and ask the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research what it thinks about the experiment. Offhand, I should say that such a method of precipitating rainfall in the dry areas of Australia would prove rather expensive.
– A scheme for the production of aluminium in this country has been under consideration by the Government and its experts for over two years. Is the Minister representing the Minister for Munitions able to indicate to the House the estimated cost of production of aluminium in this country? Is the honorable gentleman aware that whereas the overseas price of aluminium before the war was approximately £110 Australian currency per ton, it has now dropped to about £75 Australian currency per ton.
– I shall refer the honorable gentleman’s question to my colleague, the Minister for Munitions, for investigation. I acted as Minister for Munitions recently, and I believe that the Australian Aluminium Commission expects to be able to produce aluminium in this country at a cost comparable with that in other countries.
– In view of the inability of existing Australian plant capacity to meet normal sheet steel requirements of Australian manufacturers, is any move contemplated by the Government to assist in the procurement of additional supplies of steel sheet from abroad in order to relieve the acute local supply position ?
– The Government is concerned at the grave shortage of sheet steel in Australia and its effect on so many manufacturing industries, particularly on the motor body-building industry, regarding which the honorable member for Boothby has from time to time displayed such a keen interest. The supply position in respect of sheet steel has been under review during recent weeks. Last week, Mr.. Conrow, the chief executive officer of Armco (Aust.) Proprietary Limited departed for the United States of America. Prior to his departure he was asked on behalf of Australian manufacturers in this country to purchase as much sheet steel as he cansecure. The Australian Ambassador in the United States of America has been informed of Mr. Conrow’s mission and has been asked to give him all possible assistance in seeking to secure adequate supplies for Australia.
– With a view to relieving the shortage of building timber so urgently required for housing, will the Minister for Works and Housing examine the complaints of timber merchants in Australia that if sufficient labour were made available 10,000,000 super, feet of structural softwoods could be shipped to Sydney yearly from New Guinea?
– Where is the labour shortage ?
– In the timber industry in New Guinea. I ask whether the Minister will make those inquiries with a view to obtaining that amount of timber and then make a statement in order to allay the anxiety of home-builders and building contractors. I ask that he treat this matter as urgent.
– I do not think the honorable member’s statement about the availability of that amount of timber is well based, but I shall have an investigation made and let the honorable gentleman know the result.
Tools of Trade - Wives and Fiancees of ex-Servicemen : Transport to Australia.
– In view of the fact that tools of trade of many kinds are still unprocurable, resulting in many exservicemen and women being prevented from taking advantage of the grant of £10 for their purchase, will the Minister for Repatriation endeavour to have the time limit for eligibility for the payment of the grant extended ?
– I realize that tools of trade are in very short supply and accordingly I appreciate the reasonableness of the honorable member’s request. I shall have the matter examined and furnish a reply as soon ns possible.
– Is the Minister for Repatriation aware of an anomaly in the plans of his department for bringing wives and fiancees from England to Australia? Transport is free for the wives of ex-servicemen, but only £100 is allowed by the department to the serviceman to bring his fiancee to Australia, whereas he must deposit £150 and pay the difference if the fare is more than £100. Since the fares vary and are often more than £100, will the Minister ensure the provision of the full fare to the fiancees?
– There does appear to be an anomaly in the different treatment of wives and fiancees coming to Australia from England. I shall examine the honorable gentleman’s request and have a reply prepared.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether an interdepartmental committee consisting of experts from the Postmaster-General’s Department, the Treasury, and the Department of Civil Aviation is inquiring into country airfields and air services. If that is so, will the Minister arrange for the committee to investigate the provision of airfields for modern passenger aircraft at Orange and Cowra and the provision of radar and other necessary equipment at Parkes in order to prevent accidents during low visibility conditions?
– An interdepartmental committee consisting of representatives of the departments named by the honorable gentleman is dealing with 250 applications from 80 applicants. The committee is investigating where services will be set up from time to time. It will furnish a report stating the needs of the respective airfields. A daily service is already operating to Parkes and the department hopes to extend the number of services and the places to which they will operate after the committee has furnished its report.
– Since the end of the war, there has been a tremendous increase of motor transport in all towns, making it impossible for hotels and cafes, under the existing rationing system, to cater for the demands of travellers. In addition, the action of the Government of New South Wales in removing certain restrictions on the transport of goods by road in order to relieve the overburdened railways, has greatly aggravated the position.
– Order ! Will the honorable member now ask his question?
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs request his colleague to review the whole of the rationing system in order that hotel and cafe proprietors may meet the urgent demands of the travelling public? At present, people who are engaged on important national work, and tourists, are being seriously inconvenienced.
– I realize that there has been a vast increase of road transport in the last twelve months, and this has imposed heavier demands on hotels and cafes for meals. I shall refer the honorable member’s question to the Minister for Trade and Customs, and ask him to furnish a reply.
ministerial Statementsbroadcasting of Proceedings : Report of
– Some Ministers have adopted the practice, when making long and important statements to the House, of distributing copies to honorable members, thus enabling them to follow their remarks with greater facility. Will the Prime Minister con- sider the advisability of following this practice when he delivers important financial statements? Yesterday, I, in common with other honorable members, listened attentively for a long time to the budget speech, which contained many important statements and intricate figures, but having no copies of the speech before us,we found it most difficult to understand all of its contents. In view of the fact that the bud get speech is circulated to the presslong before the Prime Minister makes it to the House, will the right honorable gentleman adopt my suggestion in future, in order that honorable members may follow such statements more intelligently?’
– The honorable member’s suggestion contains a good deal of merit. As a matter of fact, I had originally intended to circulate copies of the budget speech. Some Treasurers in thepast objected to the proposal because they considered that the turning of the pages by honorable members would distract them in delivering the speech. However, I should not be affected in that way. Thereason why copies of the budget speech were not circulated to honorable members yesterday was that certain customs and excise proposals appeared towards the end of the document, and it was desirable that they should not be disclosed before about 4 p.m. If I happen to be Treasurer in future years, I shall circulate copies of the budget speech.
– I present the third report of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee which reads as follows: -
The Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings submits the Third Report for presentation to each House of the Parliament and recommends its adoption.
The Joint Committee has further considered the general principles upon which there should be determined the days upon which, and the periods during which, the proceedings of the Senate and the House of Representatives shall be broadcast, which were specified in the First and Second Reports adopted by both Houses on the 5th and the 17th July, 1946, respectively. In accordance with section 12 (1.) of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act 1940, the Joint Committee has now resolved that paragraph (4) of the general principles set out in the First and Second Reports, viz. - “ (4) Re-broadcast of Questions Without Notice and Answers: Within the limits of time available, questions without notice and answers in each House shall be re-broadcast between 7.20 p.m. and 7.55 p.m. on each sitting day.”, be omitted and the following paragraph inserted in place thereof: - “ (4) Re-broadcast of Questions and Answers: Within the limits of time available, the following parliamentary proceedings shall be re-broadcast by the Australian
Broadcasting Commission between 7.20 p.m. and 7.55 p.m. on each sitting day: -
Senate proceedings - Questions without notice and on notice and answers thereto;
House of Representatives proceedings - Questions without notice and answers thereto.”.
S.Rosevear, Chairman. 14th November, 1946.
The effect of this recommendation will be that the re-broadcast of Senate questions and answers between 7.20 p.m. and 7.55 p.m. may include questions upon notice and answers read out in the Senate after the conclusion of questions without notice and answers thereto. It has been found that, owing to the small number of Ministers in the Senate and the consequent difficulty which they experience in answering immediately questions without notice directed to them on matters under the administration of Ministers in the House of Representatives, the limitation of the re-broadcast of Senate answers to questions without notice makes it difficult to present an adequate re-broadcast session. The committee’s proposal is designed to overcome this difficulty, and the adoption of the report is recommended.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) -by leave - proposed -
That the report be adopted.
SirEARLE PAGE (Cowper) [10.58]. -I should like you, Mr. Speaker, to amplify, if possible, the explanation that you have given of the amended procedure which weare now being asked to endorse. Does the new procedure provide that each night there will be some re-broadcasting from the Senate and some from the House of Representatives of answers to questions, or does it mean that the broadcasting will be confined to the chamber, whose proceedings are being broadcast thatday?
– Under the provisions of the committee’s original report, it was decided that when the proceedings of the House of Representatives were being broadcast on a given day, there should be, during the dinner suspension on that day, a re-broadcast of a record of questions without notice and answers in the Senate, and, conversely, if the proceedings of the Senate were being broadcast, there should be a re-broadcast, during the dinner suspension, of questions without notice and answers in the House of Representatives. The rebroadcast of the questions was in each instance from the House which was not on the air that day. However, a slight difficulty occurred in connexion with the re-broadcasting of questions and answers in the Senate as against those of the House of Representatives. In the Senate there are only five Ministers, and they are frequently asked questions of which notice is required, because it is necessary to obtain information from Ministers in the House of Representatives. It will be appreciated that Senate Ministers cannot always be ready to give an immediate answer to a question, and, therefore, notice of the question is asked. The arrangement which is now being proposed would permit the re-broadcast of, not only questions without notice, but also questions upon notice which are asked in the Senate. It is considered that the new arrangement in regard to re-broadcasting during the dinner suspension will enable Senate questions both without notice and upon notice to be put on the air in better form than at present.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Presentation to the GovernorGeneral.
– I inform the House that the AddressinReply will be presented to His Royal Highness the Governor-General, at Government House, at 11.30 a.m. on Wednesday next. I shall be glad if the mover and seconder of it, together with as many other honorable members as can conveniently do so, will accompany me to present it.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Pollard) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to grant and apply out of the
Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum for the purpose of making grants to certain States for the purpose of drought relief.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Pollard and Mr. Dedman do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Pollard, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The object of the bill is to provide funds with which to assist cereal farmers who were affected by drought in the last season and the season which preceded it. Its introduction arises from consideration which was given to the matter at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers in January of this year, at the instigation of the Premiers of the States affected. After a report had been received as to the extent of the losses, and the measures that would be necessary to meet the situation, the Government decided that the Commonwealth should assist the States on a £1 for£ 1 basis.
Honorable members will recollect that last year a measure similar to this one was found to be necessary, and met with the approval of the House. Everybody then hoped that the assistance given would be sufficient to enable growers to carry on their normal farming, and that the breaking of the drought would be followed by a good season. Those hopes were not realized. The drought did break in many districts, but over a large area of our cereal-producing land relief did not come before another crop had failed. In that area the farmers had a second consecutive year of failure. This meant that the steps taken to relieve them had failed because of continued dry weather, and a large group of our farmers were actually worse off, because the season had wiped out the benefits of the relief measures. In these circumstances, the governments considered that the growers could not be left alone to meet the fresh disaster which had come upon them, and it was agreed that the Commonwealth and the States would provide funds to carry out the intention of the original scheme. Where funds had been provided for relief in 1945, and that relief had not been achieved, it was decided that assistance would be granted afresh. It should be noted, therefore, that the bill has the definite object of assisting cereal growers in the districts of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia which have suffered from two consecutive seasons of drought, resulting in the failure of crops forthe 1944-45 and 1945-46 seasons. The plans agreed to by the four governments concerned embody the following points : Relief is to be afforded as a. gift, and without any means test. It is to be based on the loss of cereal crops through the effects of drought, and is intended to enable the recipient to continue his normal farming. The relief is to he paid in cash, with provision to prevent it from being claimed by creditors. The maximum payment is to be 12s. 6d. an acre for wheat or wheaten hay actually sown; 10s. for barley, and 7s. for oats or oaten hay. The maximum payment will apply to total failure, and payments will decrease for each bushel of the actual yield. Payments will apply to all crops yielding less than 6 bushels to the acre. I do not think that any comment on these provisions is necessary. They follow the lines set last year, and have proved satisfactory. It will be noted that relief is to be by way of a grant. It was agreedthat loans would not meet the case, and that the assistance should not burden the applicants with a debt which would have to be repaid in succeeding years.
When my predecessor introduced the original bill last year, he took the opportunity to enunciate the general principle that was followedby the Commonwealth in cases of this sort. I shall re-state it. Drought relief is primarily a function of the States and not one in which the Commonwealth should intervene. However, Commonwealth assistance is necessary and proper when the disaster is so widespread as to affect more than one State, and to require assistance which is beyond the financial capacity of the States concerned. That principle has been followed in the past, and is still valid, and the bill is necessary because the present case conies within its scope.
The area of the crops which failed in 1945-46 is about 2,750,000 acres, and covers districts which suffered from drought in 1944-45. In New South Wales, the failure was in the south-western area which was most badly affected in the previous year. Crops outside that area were good. In Victoria, almost onehalf of the same area failed. All classes of wheat land were .included, and the failure was not confined to marginal or outlying districts. In South Australia, the failure occurred in a number of the outer wheat districts. It is estimated that about 8,000 growers were affected, and that they were mainly the smaller growers who have not resources with which to finance themselves through consecutive bad seasons. If assistance be given, these farmers will be able to carry on normal farming. They are operating in districts in which cereal crops are profitable in normal seasons. Farming, at best, is beset with uncertainty, and has an alternation of ups and downs. It is, in fact, expected that farmers should meet the normal variations in prosperity which result from seasonal vicissitudes. In this case, however, the growers did not encounter a normal seasonal variation, lt was an extension of the previous season’s disaster, which affected a large group of cereal growers. Agreement was reached with the governments of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, so that relief should be granted on the same basis in each State. Each State has the administrative facilities for distributing amounts to growers; accordingly, the detailed administration has been the duty of the State agencies. The rates of relief are the same as in the previous year. These operated satisfactorily, and it has been found that they will meet the position in 1946, with only slight modification.
The amount required totalled a little more than £1,000,000, and the Commonwealth’s share of this will be slightly over £500,000. In the final result, there may be a slight reduction of the figure ‘of £520,000 provided in this bill, but it will be only slight. Briefly, the object of the bill, therefore, is to assist in giving drought relief to cereal-growers whose crops failed both in 1944-45 and 1945-46. The assistance is rendered on a £1 for £1 basis by Commonwealth and States to enable growers to carry on their normal farming, and the rates are similar to those granted the previous year.
I know I am expressing the feelings of all members of this House in saying how much regret is felt that a bill like this should again be necessary. The farmers concerned have suffered heavy financial blows because of continued drought, and they have seen two years of hard work wasted because of adverse seasons. The loss primarily is theirs, but it has spread through the whole community, and we are all worse off because of it. At a time when the world wanted all the food which could be obtained our main food crop was again much Iiss than normal, and the contribution which could have been made to the world’s food supply has been decreased because of that fact. All we can do is to help our farmers, and see that the whole burden of loss does not fall on them. Actually, the assistance was given so that they could prepare for the ‘crop which is soon to be harvested. There is some satisfaction in knowing that this time the assistance has had good results, and the crops are good over practically all of the area for which assistance has been given.
Unfortunately, drought for the third successive year is having a very serious effect on cereal crops, and has blighted the harvest over the area which was good last year. It does seem, however, that the growers covered by this bill, having had more than their share of misfortune, will this season get crops, which will enable them to start back to the prosperous farming which for their sakes, and the sake of the country, everybody wishes them. I present the bill to the House in the assurance that all members will agree wholeheartedly with its aims.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Turnbull) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Drakeford) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to authorize the execution of an agreement for the purchase by the Common wealth of certain shares in Qantas Empire Airways Limited and to appropriate the moneys necessary for the purchase of those shares.
Debate resumed from the 14th November (vide page308), on motion by Dr. Evatt -
That the following paper be printed: -
– in reply - The debate on international affairs, which I initiated, has been participated in by every member of the House who desired to speak. I believe it to be important, in order to clear up some misapprehensions, that I should reply to the main observations made by members of the Opposition. The first thing I should point out is that there has been no attempt on the part of the Opposition to move any amendment to my motion. There has been no suggestion of any positive policy that could be put before the House, and no indication of any real examination of the problems dealt with by some of the honorable members who have spoken.
I do not wish to generalize about speeches by members of the Opposition. Sorae of them made important contributions to the debate; others seemed to think that a debate on international affairs was an occasion to get upand, without any preparation, or even without reading the necessary documents, to express opinions about other countries, and to indicate what should be done in regard to them. Some of the statements and suggestions of members of the Opposition were most embarrassing. For instance, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) asked what was our policy regarding the islands to the north and east of us, and he instanced Portuguese Timor and New Caledonia. The implication was that Australia should be doing something to get control of those territories which belong to two friendly nations. In the same speech, at an earlier stage, he said that Australia should be self-effacing; yet he made a reference carrying the implication which I have pointed out, and it was of a kind to cause intense embarrassment to the Government. It touched upon the relations between Australia and France regarding New Caledonia, and it should be remembered that our relations with France, especially since 1940, have been of the closest. During the darkest days of the war, this country did everything possible to retain for France its interest in the Pacific. It is our considered policy that our relations with France and Portugal should remain friendly, and that there should be no attempt by us to obtain control of territories belonging to those nations. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) spoke about Egypt, but I shall discuss that later.
I propose now to refer to the attitude of members of the Opposition to the United Nations. The only phase of its operations which was discussed by them in the debate was the use of the veto, which is exercisable by each of the five permanent members of the Security Council; but that is only one aspect of the work of the United Nations. It is evident that there has been a change of front among members of the Opposition on this subject of the veto. When I returned from the San Francisco Conference, I pointed out that it was wrong, in my opinion, that one country should be able to defeat the decision of ten others, including the other four permanent members. This, I claimed, could not be justified when the council was dealing only with proposals regarding the peaceful adjustment of international disputes. I was criticized for the stand I took in that regard, and it was claimed that Australia was hindering the achievement of unanimity among the permanent members of the council. Since then there has been a change. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), in his speech on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, and also in his speech during this debate, conceded in substance that our objection to the use of the veto in such circumstances was sound. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) was present at San Francisco during the holding of the conference, but I shall not refer to his contribution there, because the House has already debated that. He asked what could be done regarding the veto, and suggested that the position was hopeless.
– He was not consulted at any stage during the San Francisco conference.
– He was consulted repeatedly at meetings of the Australian delegation.
– I would rather believe him than the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard).
– During this debate, the honorable member for Indi said that the permanent members of the council would never give up the veto. That is a defeatist attitude. The policy which we supported at San Francisco has been publicly endorsed by the Prime Minister of Great Britain in a recent speech before the Trade Unions Congress. Leaders of thought in the United States of America are now taking much the same line as Australia took, namely, that whatever might be said in favour of the veto when military action against, an aggressor was being considered, there was very little justification for it when the council was merely attempting to conciliate the parties to an international dispute. That was the basis of my criticism of the veto, and I said that it was wrong that the power of veto should be exercised in such circumstances. It caused great embarrassment to have disputes discussed by the Security Council when all the time the proceedings were prejudiced by the fact that at the end, although ten out of eleven powers including some of the great powers, might suggest a certain way out of the difficulty, the mere exercise of the veto by one permanent member would prevent any decision or recommendation from being made. In these circumstances we got all disputation but no result. That has happened over and over again. The Leader of the Opposition, will, I am sure, agree that that is not right. The question is, what are we to do about it? We advanced the view at San Francisco that, in relation to matters of peaceful adjustment or conciliation, there should be no veto. We said that in cases where no action was being taken and no sanctions were being exercised, and where the
Council was asked merely to make a recommendation as to the proper method of settling a dispute, we adhered to that view.
– Has there been any attempt to answer that argument at meetings of the Security Council?
– No. I have attended meetings of the Security Council at which M. Gromyko, the Soviet representative, has said that unless certain resolutions were altered he would exercise the veto. I took the view that we should not be deterred by such threats, and that the country whose representative desired to exercise the veto should do so in open debate. I cannot understand any argument against the view we put at the San Francisco Conference. The great majority of countries represented at that conference accepted our view, but it was decided at the end of the discussion that if it were adopted there would be no charter. The majority of the countries accepted that position. That was before the Security Council commenced its business early this year. What Australia attempted to do at New York was to put the whole problem before the Assembly in order that it might be discussed. We asked members who have the power of veto to exercise their right with discretion and to refrain from exercising it in respect of mere matters of conciliation. During this debate honorable members opposite have drawn no distinction between the veto of conciliation and the veto of enforcement. Honorable members opposite have referred to the veto as though it applied just as forcibly to one as to the other. My complaint is that this subject has been explained over and over again; a full exposition of the effect of the veto is contained in documents presented to the House and in my speeches on this subject, but apparently my speeches are not read, for, suddenly, without consideration, remarks are made upon this subject which are completely unjustified. In the Security Council, it is not such so rauch a question of the small powers being opposed to the large powers ; because motions cannot be carried unless there is a majority of seven out of eleven. So if the five permanent members are united they can always prevent such a majority from being attained. In the Council the smaller powers cannot therefore overrule the larger powers. The veto problem is quite distinct from that. By the exercise of the veto one member may overrule the majority of the nations, including some or most of the greater powers. We are endeavouring to rectify that. We put these proposals to the assembly so that they could be debated and discussed, so that the United Nations may not be convulsed from year to year by futile attempts to deal with international problems by conciliation. What is the view of the Opposition in this matter? I am convinced that the Opposition has no official view; at any rate, no official view has ever .been stated. The general tendency of the speeches of honorable members opposite is to decry the whole organization and to compare it with the League of Nations. The Leader of the Opposition referred to an elaborate paper document. I do not know what other kind of document there could be. The United Nations must have a constitution, and, obviously, it must be a written constitution.
– When did I so far fall from grace as to refer to u paper document ?
– During this debate.
– I certainly did not.
– The right honorable gentleman also quoted from a book on conditions of pea.ce much to the same effect. The trend of the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition was in that direction, though not so strongly as that of the speeches of some other honorable members opposite. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) yesterday referred to the United Nations as though it were an alternative to the League of Nations. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) made no pretence about his views. He believes that the United Nations will be a failure. He said that that has always been his belief. My only answer to that is that whilst the international organization has its limitations and its difficulties of procedure and substance, it at least represents the best hope of the world to protect the peoples of the world against a repetition of the catastrophe of war. It is an organization which attempts to examine the causes of war and endeavours to remove economic conditions which tend to cause war. It is the policy of this Government to do every thing in its power to promote the success of the United Nations. We have tried to remove the obvious faults in the international organization wherever we have been able to do so, and we have given it our absolute and unqualified support. Much the same critical view was expressed by the honorable member for Warringah, who said that the Government has put all of its eggs into one bosket, and that it is relying too much on the efficacy of international organization as a means of ensuring world peace. That is absolutely incorrect. I should like to read to the House a short extract from what was said by the former Prime Minister, the late Mi-. Curtin, during a debate in this House on foreign affairs. Speaking in this House on his Government’s defence policy he is reported at page 206 of Current Notes to have said -
The security of Australia or any other part of the British Commonwealth in the future will rest on three safeguards, each wider in its scope than the other. These are the systems of collective security which can be organized, on a world and regional basis, the degree of Empire co-operation which can be established, and national defence, the policy for which is purely the responsibility of the government concerned. The extent and nature of the Government’s defence policy will be influenced by the degree of reliance that can be placed on the other two safeguards. These three safeguards are complementary to each other, and none is exclusive of the others.
It is quite wrong, therefore, for honorable members opposite, including the honorable member for Warringah, to say that the Government is putting all its eggs into one basket. As I pointed out in this House eighteen months ago, the very existence of the veto, makes uncertain the action of the Security Council in the event of aggression. Because of that defect in the international organization, it is necessary to have other lines of defence. There must be co-operation between members of the British Commonwealth for defence purposes, and there must also be a Pacific regional security arrangement. In the passage which I have just quoted, the late Mr.
Curtin advanced precisely that view. There is no alternative. It is not a matter of asking: Do we support the United Nations on the one hand or British Empire co-operation in defence on the other? The two are not exclusive one of the other. Our policy in this matter is exactly the same as that of the British Labour Government; we adhere to the United Nations and we are determined to put our best into it, realizing that it constitutes the best hope of preventing another world war.
– Have there been any signs that Canada, South Africa, or India have since the war been any more willing to engage in prior commitments for defence than they were before the war ?
– I shall deal with that a little later. The Governmentadheres to the United Nations as a security organization, but at the same time it recognizes that the limitations of the organization are caused to a large extent by the veto which its representatives are trying to modify. Combined with that, we must have the closest cooperation in the British Empire. Then we must have the best relationship with Pacific countries, particularly the United States of America. Some honorable gentlemen opposite, particularly the honorable member for Warringah, have said, “Do not concern yourselves with the United States of America “, and even more critical statements have been made. Complete reliance on the British people for defence is their policy, but it is not the policy of the Labour Government of Great Britain, the Labour Government of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Labour Government of New Zealand. The same attitude is taken throughout the British Commonwealth by all its components. Their policy is active participation in the United Nations, which they intend to continue, but the thing goes deeper than that. Various Opposition members have indicated their belief of what should be done here and there, and I. have seen emerge from the speeches of honorable members opposite the theory that we should turn aside from the United Nations and adopt the principles of international power and force. I do not know whether this represents the Opposition’s policy; I can hardly imagine that it does. The honorable member for Barker is the most frank exponent of that policy, but there are half a dozen other honorable gentlemen, whose names I need not mention, who have indicated in a greater or less degree lack of faith in the doctrines and principles of the Atlantic Charter, the basis on which the United Nations stands ; that is, an attempt to establish an international community based not on force and power, but on justice and fair dealing as between nations. They would embrace the old theory of power politics, naked and unashamed. It means that military power should be exerted or should be capable of being exerted. It is the theory of the balance of power. That is a hopeless attitude. It may be that with all the goodwill of all men of goodwill we shall not be able to escape another war, but I do not take that view. That is a policy of utter despair.
– And it inevitably leads to another war.
– It is the line-up to another war. I do not want to discuss another power. I am careful to be frank with the House, but I must be guided -by discretion in relation to questions about Soviet Russia. I discussed the Russian problem in this House earlier this year. I gave my view of it: I think that in substance that view still holds. I deprecate Russia’s brushing aside of all opposition and its inducing the representatives of other nations at meetings to rise and say, “ You have to have agreement with Russia “. What we must have is justice, established on the proved facts. It may be that from the early struggles of the international conferences we shall obtain a more just approach to matters of world concern. I cannot believe that Soviet Russia want? war now after its enormous losses in fighting Hitler’s forces. I speak guardedly, but I say that we must stick to the United Nations, but not entirely, for defence. That the right honorable member for Cowper is wedded to power politics is made plain in his references to Egypt. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) followed him by referring to India and Indonesia.
How can they, in a world twice torn by war, advocate a return to the old simple plan that “ they should take who have the power and they should keep who can “.
– That is the Russian method, and it has been constantly used.
– The future of Egypt was the main point of the speech of the honorable member for Cowper. We accept the policy of the Labour ‘Government of Great Britain. The stand taken by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Attlee, is that in all circumstances the British Empire should maintain with Egypt friendly relations based not on force in any shape whatever, but on agreement which recognizes the right of the Egyptians to govern themselves within their own country. India presents the same problem. The struggle of the Indian people for self-government has been one of the features of the last twenty years. The British Government’s wish and my wish is that India shall continue to be a member of the British Commonwealth. I am extremely hopeful that that will be the ultimate solution, and that India, in association with the other members of the British Commonwealth, like Australia, will work to strengthen themselves and the Empire. But one cannot use phrases like “ walking out of India “. What Great Britain has done in India is a simple application of the principles of the Atlantic Charter. Those principles were the basis upon which the Allies fought a.nd won the war. However, it is not merely a matter of principles, and of what is just. It is also a matter of security. The view is emerging, and I believe that it deserves consideration, because, in my opinion, ‘it is right, that the greatest security which Great Britain and Australia could have in the Middle East would be offered by countries in the Middle East which were friendly to us all the time and would, in the event of some dire emergency or war, be our loyal allies from beginning to end. The honorable member for Barker said that Egypt had not been very sympathetic to us at some stages of World War II., and that is true. But then, the right honorable member for Cowper spoke of the magic agreement of 1936, which was one of the reasons probably for that lack of understanding and sympathy. The Labour Government of Great Britain desires to take, and is actually taking, a new departure in relation to Egypt and India, and in that new departure, there is hope for the world.
Sir Earle Page interjecting,
– When the right honorable member for Cowper spoke on this subject yesterday, he tore a passion from Blue Books almost into tatters. Although he did not directly criticize the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Attlee, the whole implication of his speech was a criticism of the British Labour Government. There are two grounds for the policy that I have enunciated. The Government is pledged, and all the Allied Nations are pledged, through the Atlantic Charter, to a general policy of allowing peoples to determine for themselves their form of government. That is the bes form of security, as we well know from our experience of the war in the Pacific, as the Japanese drove southward. What native peoples north of Australia resisted the Japanese ? How few they were !
– Security if based on force.
– Security is based on something more than force. Force cannot be exercised, unless those who wield it are actuated by the right spirit. History contains many examples of that, as the honorable member knows. Even unlimited force, without determination on the part of those who wield it, will not prevail. Let us consider the campaigns in North Africa. The honorable member underestimated, although I do not think that his statements represented his real view, the contribution of Australia in the North African campaign.
– I did not refer to it.
– Well, I am glad of that. But one honorable member referred to Australia’s contribution to the North African campaign, and his remarks illustrate exactly what I mean. What enabled those small, ill-equipped forces of Great Britain, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand in those early days to gain such victories against odds? It was not the superiority in force, but the consciousness of those who constituted those armies that they were fighting for the right. The result was that stronger forces were overpowered, or surrendered.
Australia must cultivate the friendship of the peoples of the countries to the north of us. I do not propose to refer in detail to Indonesia, because I believe that that great problem may he settled. The latest news seems to indicate that it will be. We have not said very much about the part which we are playing in the negotiations between the Dutch and the Indonesians, although, in the House, embarrassing questions have been hurled at us for local political consumption. Australia’s representatives are sitting side by side with the representatives of Great Britain in attempting to settle the dispute. Our idea is that Dutch sovereignty should not be terminated, but that the people of Indonesia should obtain a substantial measure of self-government. In one sense, this problem is outside our province, hut we have adopted that attitude, and I contend that it is right. It is not force or power that determines the future of the world. If that were so, it would be a catastrophe for the peoples of all nations. Opposed to that, what is our view? It i? the cultivation and support of the United Nations. The organization is not. based on force. Of course, force is the ultimate remedy that the organization could apply against an aggressor, but its use would be based upon a decision which had been made by a body bound to observe the principles of justice and which had been reached after the nations had determined who was the aggressor.
We accept the principle of trusteeship, because that embraces the principle of the responsibility of developed peoples towards less developed peoples. Australia favours the principle of trusteeship in the United Nations, and is prepared to take a full part in that great experiment in New Guinea, as it has done in the last thirty years with a great measure of success.
In this debate, some honorable members opposite have selected a few extracts from the speech which I made a week ago and endeavoured to make capital therefrom. The proofs of the speech were distributed to several persons who were authorized to read them, but some members of the Opposition have said, “Let us see what we can pick out of the speech “. They selected one sentence here and another sentence there, and used them, sometimes divorced from the context. The real point is that no substantial alternative policy has been presented to this Parliament. Nor was one presented to the people at the elections last September. We put our view on these matters to the people, and I have never heard anything in direct conflict with our policy. Certainly, some honorable members opposite, in the course of the campaign, may have expressed the contrary view, but their utterances must have been confined to their own constituencies. I never read any reports of their views in the press.
The honorable member for Warringah said that the Government’s policy represented a good general principle, and good philosophy, but he contended that we must recognize tha: we live in a world of hard facts. We fought for a court of human rights to enforce certain provisions contained in the peace treaties formulated at Paris. If we promise to people freedom of speech., freedom of association and freedom of religion and those promises are dishonoured, there must, be some tribunal which can settle the dispute. Perhaps the objection of some members of the Opposition to our proposal is that it. was not sufficiently broad. This view was expressed at Paris. The general view there was that we should refer the proposal to the Social and Economic Council of the United Nations. We still have no objection to that. We should like to see the doctrine made world-wide; but we considered that it was a good beginning, at any rate, when a peace treaty guarantees those rights, to have some tribunal to which people who believe that their rights have been jeopardized may appeal. [Extension of time granted.]
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) pointed out one aspect of these treaties to which we raised objection, namely, the compulsory eviction, because of national pride, of hundreds of thousands of persons from Czechoslovakia to a neighbouring country. We put forward other views, which I need not repeat now. I mentioned them in my speech last Friday, and they have not been controverted except in the one respect that I have mentioned. We stand for trusteeship for colonial peoples, for the protection of human rights, and for emphasis on the economic side of relations between various countries, because we know that this is a fruitful cause of war. As opposed to that, you have power politics, the balance of power. It is complete defeatism to talk in this, the first year of the United Nations, in the way that some honorable members have done. They do a disservice to, and prejudice the success of, the United Nations. People who speak of another war as being inevitable are among those who, perhaps quite unconsciously, help to bring about war. Apparently, that is already happening. There is one great difference between the position at the end of this war and that at the end of the last war, and it lias created much difficulty. President Woodrow Wilson considered that it was essential to combine the Covenant of the League of Nations with the peace treaty, so that there would be an organization in existence which would know what the treaties contained and be bound to maintain them. That situation does not exist on this occasion. We have the difficulty that one of the functions of the United Nations is to maintain the peace of the world, although the peace has not yet been settled. Different persons, different organizations and different powers are settling the peace terms, and that creates extraordinary difficulty.
This brings me to a statement of what we have tried to do in connexion with the peace settlement. We have sought to ensure that democratic procedure shall be observed. Did any one ever before listen to such a tirade of false assertion as we had to endure last night from the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) about majorities? What Australia asked for, as the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke) subsequently pointed out, was that by a simple majority, of the 21 nations which had contributed to the victory, particular powers should have the right to have their views considered by the four great powers which con- vened the conference. It is quite true, as one honorable member pointed out, that Australia, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand wanted more. We thought, and I still think, that the contribution of Australia towards the victory over Italy was of such a character as to entitle this country to have documents presented to it not at a stage too late to obtain any amendment, but at a much earlier stage when suggestions for amendment could be considered. That view did not prevail and we had to accept the decision. At Paris we were confronted with a suggestion that a two-thirds majority of the 21 countries should be necessary even to oblige the four big powers to consider our views. We objected to that proposal. Would that be regarded as a matter of procedure, or a matter of right? Honorable gentlemen opposite may call it what they like, but to me it was a matter of great importance. It is basic to our right to have our views put forward and considered. It involves, in a very real sense, the .application of the principle of freedom of expression. It would be absurd to underestimate the importance of this principle and to call it a mere matter of procedure, as so many honorable gentlemen opposite have done. Some members of the Opposition have adopted an extraordinary attitude. It was decided by the conference that a simple majority, and not a two-thirds majority, should be sufficient to carry recommendations to the Council of Foreign Ministers. In the final division on that subject Australia was joined by the United States of America, all the other British dominions, and the United Kingdom. To attack us on that point, therefore, is to attack the United Kingdom and the other British dominions. The struggle was not by the small powers only. It was a struggle by small and great powers for an important democratic principle. What we gained on -that occasion was most important because it may perhaps determine the method of dealing with the treaty with Germany, and it certainly may have a great effect upon the treaty with Japan. We have to look ahead in these matters in order to meet possible contingencies.
I am glad to say that some members of the Opposition spoke most generously - too generously perhaps - of the work which I have been proud to be able to perform on behalf of the Government, and people of this country.. But some other honorable members, notably the honorable member for New England, could only say, “ It is always Australia “, or something like that. The honorable member also used the expression “ ragtag and bob-tail “ in regard to the smaller powers, but, after all, those smaller powers contributed considerably to the war effort. I believe that, on reflection, the honorable gentleman will realize that such- an expression was not justified. I deprecate also the attitude of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), who said, in effect, that the four great powers are dictators and that there is nothing that we can do, about it.
What Australia has been trying to do bas been to obtain an effective voice in the peace settlement, because we believe that, unless the peace settlement is based upon the principles of justice, and on the Atlantic Charter, it will not be lasting. We have our contribution to make. Our views may not be accepted on every occasion. That must be so because of the very nature of the struggle. One thing that has become more and more clear is that we must struggle for peace and the maintenance of. peace and justice, just as it was necessary to struggle for victory in the war. We cannot achieve peace simply by means of a military victory. I remind honorable gentlemen that originally the idea was that the Council of Foreign Ministers should draft the peace treaties and merely submit them to other countries for signature. That would have been done had not Australia and the other British dominions, together with Norway, Holland, Belgium and some other countries, objected to the procedure. Our attitude was fully justified because of the results we achieved. We had support for our objections, from the United Kingdom, as well, as the other- British dominions. We requested the right of audience and freedom of expression at the Paris conference. Can it be said that Australia was wrong in doing so, when it won the support of the United Kingdom and the other British dominions in this matter ? We also won the support of the United States of America and the other countries that I have mentioned.
Is it simply frustration or malice which causes certain honorable gentlemen opposite to declare that Australia, is always wrong in everything that it does and that its representatives must always be condemned ? In ray opinion the facts of the case have not been sufficiently studied. I have no doubt that what I have said about the voting on some of these questions has come as a shock, to certain honorable gentlemen opposite who have criticized the attitude that Australia adopted at the conference. It was not a case of our looking round among the smaller nations and trying to win their support, because I have shown clearly that we won substantial support from some of the great powers for our attitude in respect of the Italian settlement and certain other questions. Nothing could be farther from the truth than to say that we were always in the wrong.
Some honorable gentlemen opposite have criticized Australia’s attitude in relation to co-operation with the other members of the British Commonwealth. I shall refer to that subject in a moment. In view of the very effective speech delivered by the honorable member for Perth in rebuke of the honorable member for New England, I do not think that it is necessary to make any further answer in that connexion. I do not object to criticism. The criticism of the honorable member was- not based on facts, and it was unfair; but any one is entitled to criticize even if the criticism be unfair. That is involved in the right of freedom of expression. The fact of the matter is that some honorable gentlemen opposite have not really considered the various statements that have been made on behalf of the Government on foreign affairs. I suggest that such statements as I have made during the five years that I have held the portfolio of Minister for External Affairs, first in the Curtin Governments and later in the Chifley Governments, should be read and studied. One honorable member opposite stated, that he could not ascertain what the foreign policy of the Government was. All I say to him is that if he would read my statements he would know what our foreign policy is. Inadequate knowledge has been revealed by some honorable gentlemen opposite who have participated in this debate. It is quite obvious to me that they do not understand the method of working of the United Nations and that they did not know, at least until quite recently, and even within the last few days, the meaning of the veto provisions.
– “Whose responsibility is it that the Parliament has no knowledge of these matters?
– I do not think that it is my responsibility, for I have made many speeches in this House on foreign affairs. My speeches have, in fact, been collected into two volumes.
– This is the first opportunity the Parliament has had to deal ‘ with this subject.
– The trouble is that honorable gentleman opposite have not informed themselves thoroughly on the matters which they have criticized. When great trouble and pains are taken to put the facts to the Parliament, the members of the Opposition should, at least, study them. I make another appeal to them to read and study the authoritative statements that are made on behalf of the Government from time to time on foreign affairs. There are other matters which are not dependent upon that. I thank publicly the honorable member for Perth for having answered last night, when I was unable to answer because I had already spoken some observations that had been made by the honorable member for New England, who came into this House as a man holding liberal views, before the possession of liberal views became again identified with a particular party. He has made contributions on the subject which are of value. Therefore, I cannot understand his outburst of last night, when he went to the length of saying that I had been treacherous to Australia. If I have displayed one fault in international negotiations, possibly it has been that of concentration from beginning to end on the interests and security of Australia. The honorable member for Warringah compared the security of Australia to-day with what it was two years ago. What curious processes of thought must have preceded such a statement! Two years ago, we were at war. The war with Japan and
Germany had not been won. We have to learn the lessons of the war. They were learned by the Curtin Government and the Chifley Government, and will never be forgotten. Notwithstanding the abandonment by some powers of resort to the League of Nations, and the warning by Hitler that war was imminent, and would take place at any time, the democracies were unprepared for it when it arrived. That applied particularly to the Pacific; because, when Japan struck in the Pacific, everything in relation to international arrangements had to be improvised. The Netherlands East Indies was threatened. The United States of America was threatened. We were threatened. France was threatened. There were no preparations. What was called the “ Abda “ plan had to be set up hurriedly. It failed, because of unpreparedness. We had to try to have our views expressed before an official body which was formed at our instigation with the full approval of those members of the Opposition who sat on the Advisory War Council - the Pacific War Council at Washington. Fancy the right honorable member for Cowper asserting that consultation within the British. Commonwealth of Nations had deteriorated and had never been so bad for thirty years ! That was an absurd and a preposterous statement and it had wide publicity over the air. [Further extension of time granted.] There was no planning or preparation for those great emergencies before the war, as there is a plan in being to-day. At the recent conference of Prime Ministers in London, attended by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) the whole subject of defence was considered, and arrangements were made between the Governments of Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand.
– This Parliament does not know of any effective means for carrying out a defence policy.
– Let us deal with one matter at a time. I want to destroy any belief there may be in the absurd and preposterous statement of the right honorable member for Cowper that the defence position has deteriorated.
– The Anglo-Egyptian Treaty proves that it has.
– I Lave answered, or have endeavoured to answer, the right honorable gentleman’s point in respect of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty. He has criticized the British Government as well as the Australian Government. In the course of his criticism, he cited Lord Alanbrooke. As the Prime Minister will remember, Lord Alanbrooke was present when these arrangements with Australia and New Zealand were made in London.
– Lord Alanbrooke made a statement on this matter in the London Times only last week.
– Perhaps only the criticism was sent to Australia. Lord Alanbrooke was Chief of the Imperial General staff throughout the war, and he gave advice which was accepted in principle by the Government of Australia and New Zealand. Canada was not represented at the conference, nor was South Africa at that stage. I am not debating general defence policy, although it is closely connected with the matter with which I am dealing. The undeviating aim of the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, as well as of the British Government - with which we have closely co-operated - has been to maintain the security of not only Australia but also the Pacific. We are doing our part in this region of the world, in the closest co-operation with other members of the British Commonwealth who are willing to come into such a scheme. That is not a new departure; and it shows that we are not, as the honorable member for Warringah has alleged, looking solely to the United Nations. We are looking also to the closest co-operation in Imperial defence and in regional defence in the Pacific. It has been said that we should work in close co-operation with the United States of America, as though that is a new foreign policy. In 1942, when the late Mr. Curtin appealed to the United States of America for help in the Pacific, he was attacked from one end of the country to the other, and a campaign was conducted against him for twelve months in some of the newspapers.
– .Who is making misstatements now ?
– A very bitter campaign was waged against him by certain news papers in this country for twelve months, and in my opinion that campaign contributed to his early death. His words are quoted now. Honorable members ought to know what was said about him when he made that appeal to America. He did that, not in opposition to the United Kingdom, but because the situation was such that the United Kingdom and the United States of America had to act together in the Pacific. That is not a new idea. It has been a cornerstone of our policy. I hope that honorable members will consider for a moment the embarrassment caused by speaker after speaker saying in regard to Manus Island, “Why do we not do this? “ at a time when these matters are still under discussion. There have been long delays in the discussions. I am not blaming any one for that. The honorable member for Warringah says, “Let the United States of America have Manus. Island, and then we shall have a good screen north of us “. That is reported in the American press. One can imagine how strong an argument that would be when it was received by the Congress of the United States of America. Because the honorable member for New England has read some article in a magazine, he says that the United States of America is ready to extend the Monroe doctrine to the South Pacific.
– I cited what was reported by a naval sub-committee of the American House of Representatives. Do not distort my remarks.
– I do not intend to imitate the behaviour of the honorable member last night. I heard him in silence, and in doing so passed through a great ordeal. He read an article expressing the view of a sub-committee of the Naval Affairs Committee in regard to extension of the Monroe doctrine to the Pacific. Nothing could ‘be more satisfactory from the stand-point of Australia if such a policy were a fact; but it has never been stated to he so by the Government of the United States of America. No such plans have been put forward. It is perfectly true that there has been some mention of an extension of the Monroe doctrine which would mean intervention by the United States of America if any other country interfered with the western hemisphere. There has been an extension of the principle to Canada, -without any open declaration to that effect, largely because in a speech by the late President Roosevelt just prior to the “World War II., at a convention that was held on the border between the United States of America and Canada, put Canada in a very special position. No specific statement has been made by any representative of the Government of the United States of America. I repeat, that the matter of Manus Island is still under negotiation. The arguments that are used in connexion with this are simply to trip us up. There are two extreme views. Those who hold one view say, “ Let the United States of America take this island if it so desires “. According to another school of thought, which is equally obnoxious to Australia, we should tell the United States of America that we do not want it in this area. I claim that we do. We want its friendship. Its assistance has meant much to us. We place in the forefront of our policy the security of this country.
I want to refer to the suggestion - the only positive suggestion that one can glean from the speeches which have been delivered by some honorable members opposite - that there should be greater Empire co-operation, that the Empire should speak with one voice on foreign affairs. No member of Parliament in Canada would make such a speech, even if he were on the most extreme right wing of the Conservative party, for this reason: The British Commonwealth is based upon freedom to act not only in internal affairs but also in international affairs. The process is not one of rapid growth. It was contributed to by what the dominions did in the last war. It was stated in the Balfour Declaration of 1926, and is exemplified in some ways in the Statute of Westminster of 1932. These are self-governing nations. Their responsibility is to their own people. Yet they are united by kinship with the British people, as well as by common ties. It would he a complete contradiction of all that has happened if, by merely waving a wand, there could be a. declaration of one Empire policy on foreign affairs. That does not mean chat there cannot be consultation and co- operation. The other proposition is impossible. Canada would reject, it. I have heard Mr. Mackenzie King say in regard to commitments in relation to war being entered into in peace-time, that no . Canadian government would last for a day if it made such a commitment. He put it most convincingly in this way - if I can express his language : “ If we did that, it would be impossible to ensure what we should do when the emergency came. It is because we shall be a free nation when the emergency arises that the Canadian people will join with the people of the mother country when the mother country is in danger “.
– What about- his commitments to the United Nations,, and to the Security Council?
– I know that the Leader of the Opposition desires to help me. 1 should like, at the moment, to help myself.
– It might not be a bad idea if the right honorable gentleman were to answer a question from this side of the House.
– I shall answer questions in my own way. Opening this debate, I answered question after question. During the debate, I had the mortification of hearing some honorable members opposite make distorted quotations from an uncorrected proof, which I had not then ,and. have not yet seen. I shall answer the right honorable gentleman’s question, if I may, in my own way. I have no doubt that it was asked in order to elicit information. I say that Canada would not be a party to any such defence plan,- involving commitments to deal with a situation of that kind.
– I quoted from the right honorable gentleman’s, speech. I hope that he does not suggest that I distorted it.
– The honorable gentleman is a new member. It seemed to me that he made an unfair use of the speech. I shall now answer the question of the Leader of the Opposition, so as to reinforce the. point that I have made. He has asked, “What about Canada’s obligation to the Security Council ? “’ Australia and Canada have the obligation of joining with other members of the United Nations in providing forces to repel aggression. But that must be in accordance with an agreement that must be submitted to the parliaments of this country and of Canada before the obligation exists.
– The point is that such an agreement will be made, presumably, during peace time, and therefore it will be an obligation, entered into during peace time, but operative in time of war.
– That is a point which may show a logical contradiction in the policy of the Canadian Government. I have been stating what is the policy of the Canadian Government, ,and I think T have done it accurately. I ask honorable members to imagine the practical difficulties in the way of achieving a single Empire policy. For instance, what would be the Empire policy regarding the treatment of Indians in South Africa ? On some matters emphasis is laid on one point by one part of the Empire, and on other points by other parts. My opinion is, that in certain parts of the world, and for certain purposes, the functions of the British Commonwealth may be performed by a dominion as well as by the United Kingdom, and that applies particularly in the Pacific. It applies in practice, to some extent, to the occupation forces in Japan.
As for Empire co-operation, I maintain that the position to-day is better than ever before in our history. Australia and New Zealand have been cooperating very closely. The one Empire policy on foreign affairs has been consistently rejected by Canada and South Africa, but in the case of Australia and New Zealand co-operation with , the Government of Great Britain is closer than that between other dominions and Great Britain.
Reference has been made to a policy in regard to Germany. A policy was laid down in the Four Power Declaration at Potsdam. It provided for the occupation of the country, and regarded Germany as an integral whole for economic and political purposes. It provided for the payment of reparations, not for the purpose of extracting wealth from German producers, but in order to disarm Germany lest the Nazis should rise again.
We must not overlook that possibility. I admire the courage of the honorable member for Perth, and his sincerity in expressing his views regarding the trial of war criminals. Australia is concerned with the trial of Japanese criminals, and the view of the Government is, that if murder is committed on a wholesale scale, as was undoubtedly done in so many instances, those responsible’ should not be immune. A fundamental principle in regard to Germany is that we should encourage the emergence of a really democratic Germany, and prevent the resurgence of the Nazi forces which, though defeated in war, may become powerful underground, and emerge later.
– Does not the Minister think that by providing the Germans witu a list of martyrs we are more likely to hasten a resurgence of the Nazi spirit?
– I realize the force of tie honorable member’s view, but I have no wish to debate the subject further. Special circumstances must be considered in regard to Germany and Japan, and I shall be pleased to initiate a debate on the whole subject at some later time. In the last Parliament, I tabled Mr. Justice Webb’s report on Japanese atrocities in the Pacific, and the crimes were of such a character that trials had to take place and punishment had to be meted out. [Further extension of time granted.]
I have not attempted to answer every comment made by members of the Opposition, and what I have said does not apply to all those who spoke from the Opposition benches. Some members of the Opposition were understanding of the task imposed on the Government of this country during the last few years and generously appreciative of what had been done, but I deeply resent some of the things that were said during the debate. It was a lonely, difficult and onerous business trying to apply in practice the principles of the Atlantic Charter and the United Nations Charter at international conferences. The easy and pleasant thing would have been to let the whole thing go by and not to make the fight. To undertake such a fight, and carry it through, requires the cooperation and assistance of the other members of the delegation, and t have always had that. Magnificent service has been rendered to Australia, and, I believe, to the British Commonwealth, by our delegations.
– It also requires cooperation from both sides of the Parliament, but that has not been sought.
– I agree. The honorable member’s speech was like an oasis in the desert. He put forward positive suggestions, as also did some other honorable members opposite, and they will be considered by the Government. In the United States of America, it is said that disputes between the political parties should end at the water’s edge, the theory being that there should be general agreement on foreign policy. However, I have tried to make it clear that some basic principles must be accepted before that stage is reached. For instance, it is impossible to mix a policy based on power politics with any enthusiastic or effective support of the United Nations Charter, which is based on entirely different principles.
On the subject of co-operation between Australia and Great Britain I should like to quote a sentence from the organ of the British Labour movement in England, which presents the views of the British Government. In the issue of the 24th October, dealing with the Paris Conference, it stated -
It is well understood in tins country that Australia’s attitude, as expressed by Dr. Evatt, does not imply any weakening of enthusiasm for the Commonwealth of Nations. On the contrary, relations between Britain and Australia have never been closer than those established between the two Labour Governments.
I hope that condition of affairs will continue, and I am confident that it will. The British Government is experiencing tremendous difficulties over Egypt, and the garrisoning of areas in the Middle East is responsible for great anxiety to soldiers and great expense to the nation. We should try to .understand the point of view of the British Government. A very close measure of co-operation exists between Australia and Great Britain. We hear much of formal conferences because they are held in public, but the most important consultations take place by cable from day to day and from week to week, and at conferences where there is no publicity, and from which no announcements are made to the press.
I propose to re-state in eight paragraphs the broad objectives of our foreign policy to-day. Those objectives have been supported consistently by the Government since Mr. Curtin became Prime Minister, and became concerned with what should be Australia’s post-war policy. Honorable members will recall the important step taken with the signing of the AustralianNew Zealand Agreement, which laid down in general terms the foreign policy subscribed to by the two countries in regard to the Pacific. The eight points are as follows: -
Nations, the International Labour Office, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and to all such important international bodies concerned with the welfare of peoples.
That is not a new statement of policy, but it re-states what we have been striving to achieve, and we have had a substantial measure of success. I shall not refer in detail to what took place at the San Francisco conference and at other conferences. I merely say that the struggle must go on. The policy which I have just re-stated is in substance the policy put forward by Mr. Chifley and by me on behalf of the Government during the last election campaign, and it was endorsed by the people.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– In the Supreme Court, in this national capital, two cases are listed for hearing on Monday next, in which the Commonwealth Government will seek an order for the eviction from their present residences of two ex-servicemen who live in Canberra. Whatever the legal rights of the Commonwealth are in this matter, I suggest that there are other very important considerations which ought to be borne in mind. Both these men have excellent records as citizens of Australia. No complaint is made of the manner in which they came into possession of the premises in which they at present reside. Neither of them is claiming an exclusive right to the premises. All they ask for is a roof to shelter themselves and their wives. Whatever the legal position, the moral position is that when a man is a good citizen who is prepared to play his part in the community, there is an obligation on the community to ensure that he gets his minimum requirements of food, clothing and shelter. It may not be always possible to provide shelter for those in need of it, but here in Canberra, where the Commonwealth Government, in fact, owns most of the houses, there is an obligation upon it to refrain from evicting families unless there is an assurance that other shelter is available. I repeat that these couples - bothare childless - are not asking to be allowed to remain in possession of the residences in which they now live. Both have indicated their willingness to give up their present premises provided other appropriate shelter is made available to them, but neither has been able to obtain from the housing authorities in Canberra any assurance that that will be done. Both have taken the attitude that the only course to adopt is to resist in the court any attempt to eject them. I am aware of the difficulties experienced by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) in administering housing policy in Canberra. I know that he has inherited the system of housing control that now exists, and that during the period he has been in charge of the department he has done a good deal to improve the position. Nevertheless, there still exists in this city a method of allocating houses which does not exist anywhere else in Australia. This is the one place in which the Commonwealth has complete power, yet, largely because this territory has no parliamentary representative of its own, things are tolerated here and abuses continue in connexion with housing that are not found in any of the States of the Commonwealth. For example, there exists in this city -and it existed long before the present Minister assumed office - a system under which complete and absolute preference in the allocation of houses is given to those who are Commonwealth employees. In this territory, where the Commonwealth has complete responsibility for the housing of its citizens, the Commonwealth in practice accepts no responsibility whatever for the housing of any person who is not employed in the service of the Government. Thus, the residents of this; city are divided into two classes, official and non-official citizens. No matter now great may be the housing needs of the non-official citizen, no matter how large his family, for how long he has been waiting for a house, or how essential his employment in Canberra may be, if he is not employed in the service of the Commonwealth he has no right to a house until every one in the official class has obtained one. And, as there are always hundreds of those in the official class waiting to obtain houses, this in practice means that a private citizen in Canberra has no hope of obtaining a house through the assistance of the Commonwealth Government. The Government controls not only the largest number of houses in the Territory, but also the means of .building and providing additional homes. A register is kept in the Department of the Interior upon which any one who desires a house may have his name inscribed, but a person who is not an employee of the Commonwealth may have his name on the register for ten years without having any prospect of obtaining a .house.
– How long has the register been in operation ?
– For several years. This is not a new method of recording the housing needs of the people in this city; it existed long before the present Minister took charge of the department. I have protested against it on previous occasions. Food, clothing and shelter are three fundamental human needs, and in their allocation there should be no differentiation between people on the ground of the character of their employers. While the shortage exists, houses should be allocated on the basis of the size of the family of the applicant, the length of time he has been ‘waiting for a house and the essentiality of his residence in the Territory. The register is a secret document, and thus there are no means by which an applicant may ascertain whether his rights as a registered applicant have been properly preserved. If an applicant who registered for a house three years ago and is still waiting for it goes to the housing authorities he is informed that his turn has not yet come ; but he has no means of ensuring that some one else whose name appears on the register below his has not been given precedence over him. The register should be open to public examination, and all those whose names are inscribed upon it should be given a receipt bearing the specific number of their registration. If that were done people would be assured that discrimination was not being exercised in the allocation of such houses as become available. One unfortunate feature- of this matter is that people who registered three, four or five years ago have since been told that their requirements were recorded by the former housing officer, who is no longer in the service of the department, and that no trace can be found of their registration.
The names of the two persons upon whose behalf I direct these remarks are Russell Kennedy, 5S Paterson-street, Ainslie, and Gordon John Butt, block 15, section 2, Ainslie. Both came into possession of their present premises by taking rooms from other tenants. The earlier tenants have given up their tenancies, and the department says to these people. “ You have no particular right to the house in which you are residing because you have only been in it for six or nine months, whereas other people with larger family obligations than yours have been waiting eighteen months or two years for a house “. Whilst that may be true, I do not believe it justifies the Government in putting these two men .and their wives into the street and refusing responsibility to make other accommodation available to them. It is not as though these men were squatters, as though they had “ jumped “ possession of their houses. One has been in his house for ten months and the other for six months. They did not become permanent tenants of the department in Canberra earlier because of their war service. Kennedy belongs to a family well known and highly respected in this city. Ironically enough Butt is on the staff of the Department of Works and Housing. He was formerly a tenant of a Commonwealth house which he surrendered when he enlisted in 1940. Had he not served in the war there would have been no reason to doubt that he and his wife would now possess a house in their own right. Kennedy had an excellent war record, and would also have Income entitled to a house had he not enlisted.
It is true that neither Kennedy nor Butt obtained departmental authority for the sub-letting of the houses in which they are living, hut that does not affect the genuineness of their case. Hardship will be inflicted upon them if they are evicted. They do not want to resist the Commonwealth :or to .make trouble, but they cannot voluntarily deprive their wives of a roof over their heads. Both of them say that if they had anywhere else to go they would move, .but that in the circumstances unless they are provided with alternative accommodation they are prepared .to defend the court action and to stay in possession until forced out on to the footpath. I do not quarrel with that attitude. I ask that the matter be reconsidered with a view, not necessarily to enabling them to remain tenants in the houses they now occupy, but to the withholding of action to evict them until some alternative shelter can be provided.
Sitting suspended from 1242 to 2.15 ,p.m..
– In dealing with the .housing shortage in Canberra, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser) referred particularly to the method of allocating homes. There is a shortage of approximately 1,000 homes in Canberra at present, but ‘for that state of affairs this Government cannot accept responsibility. The Labour Government was in power for only one month before Japan struck, and since that day, it has devoted its entire energies to the defence of this country, and to the solution of immediate post-war problems. During the’ war, there was not sufficient manpower or materials to permit the problem of housing in the Australian Capital Territory to be tackled; but as soon as the opportunity arose after the war had ended, the Government, realizing the urgent .need for houses in this city, embarked upon a housing programme which eventually will overtake the leeway. In the meantime, however, the people of Canberra are suffering because of the legacy left to this Government by its predecessors. One of the first matters with which I had to deal when I assumed control of the Department of the Interior was that of housing and accommodation generally in the Australian Capital
Territory. I realized that there was a great scramble for the homes that were becoming available, and I directed that a register be kept of applicants for homes and that there should be no favoritism in the allocation of dwellings. My instruction was that homes should be allocated in accordance with the dates upon which applications were made. The department has strictly adhered to that instruction, notwithstanding the many representations that have been made in individual cases. We have been told that this department or that department would be unable to carry out its administrative work unless homes could be provided for high officers who were to be transferred to Canberra. Regardless of such’ claims, homes have -been allocated in accordance with the register. Any departure from that policy could ‘only result in chaos. When I found that attempts were being made to circumvent this policy by people who were in the fortunate position of being able to purchase a governmentowned house, I had the ordinance amended to prevent the sale of government houses. The majority of Canberra residents have accepted the departments allocation plan, .and I believe that the Government would be failing in its duty, if I “were to permit .somebody to be given a house out of his turn. In the cases to which the honorable member “for Eden-Monaro has referred, I am most reluctant to take action, but whilst other people on the waiting list - including many in worse circumstances than those of the tenants mentioned by the honorable member - are accepting the department’s policy, I should be lacking in my duty if 1 failed to do so. I have received many deputations from business people and others on the subject of housing and accommodation generally. A few days ago I received a deputation from the Canberra Trades and Labour Council, and I had put to me the point that was raised by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro to-day, namely, that there would be greater satisfaction if, upon application for addition to the waiting list for homes, each applicant were given a card bearing the date of his registration. I saw nothing wrong with the suggestion and I gave the deputation an undertaking that it would he adopted. The register will be examined and every applicant for a house will be given a card bearing the date of his registration. The details of the case that has been raised hy the honorable member for Eden-Monaro are as follows: Mr. Kennedy was not the tenant of the dwelling.
– Was he registered?
– Yes, but he was well down on the list. The person rightly untitled to occupy this house, in accordance with the register, is an ex-serviceman with a wife and child, and this man will bc given the dwelling. The department will not permit any one to “ jump “ a claim in the way that is being attempted. I regret the attitude that has been taken by Mr. Kennedy. Possibly he is being urged on by others. The original tenant of the house was a Mr. Hay, who surrendered his tenancy and handed the house back to the Department of the Interior on the 14th September. From that day to this, negotiations have continued in the hope that the present occupier would do the right thing, as other residents of the Australian Capital Territory are prepared to do. Mr. Kennedy is keeping the home from an exserviceman who has a wife and a child.
– How did he get in?
– He got in because of the kindness of the original tenant whose wife was not in Canberra. Mr. Hay permitted Mr. Kennedy and his wife to live in the home on the definite understanding that they would vacate the house when it had to be returned to the department. The Government is doing everything possible to overcome the shortage of houses in Canberra. At present, there are en route to Canberra 200 homes from Tocumwal. It was not our intention originally to permit the erection of further weatherboard houses in this area. But I realize that, owing to the high cost of building, and the shortage of bricks and other materials, such as internal fittings, we could not make up the leeway unless something like this were done. The Department of Works and Housing is cooperating with the Department of the Interior. Action in the last few months has improved the position. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) recentlyannounced that 600 building tradesmen to work in Canberra were either on theirway, or would soon be on their way from Great Britain to this country. Very encouraging conditions and rates of pay- have not resulted in our being able tobring tradesmen to Canberra from other parts of Australia. The housing shortage affects not only Canberra; it exists throughout the country. It is therefore unlikely that tradesmen will leave their homes and families in other parts of Australia to take a job in Canberra without homes and separated from their families. I conclude by paying tribute to the people of Canberra who are awaiting houses. They realize the difficulties that face the Government, and, even in the discomfort and distress of the sharp winter that they experienced this year, they have not whined. That, is my answer to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro and others who say that the Department of the Interior is not carrying out a policy equitable to every one on the registry of people awaiting housing, regardless of their standing. I sincerely hope that the Canberra people who had to pass through this year homeless will not have to undergo the same ordeal next year.
.- I raise a matter of serious concern to poultry and egg producers in Queensland. I base my appeal on the ground of unjust treatment. I am fully conscious that last year, owing to the drought that prevailed through the Commonwealth, feed became so scarce that stockfeed and poultry-feed had to be rationed. In consequence, Queensland poultry stocks had to be drastically reduced, in many cases by as much as 50 per cent. The birds were slaughtered because they could not be fed. Many producers had to go right out of business. Those remaining in the industry have had great difficulty in carrying on. To add to their problems they have recently been told that the shortage of poultry feed in Queensland is so serious that the quantity allotted to that State will permit of a distribution equal to only 40 per cent, of the allocation last year. This will result in a further reduction of flocks, and it will represent a reduction in two years of about 75 per cent, of the normal feed requirement of the Queensland poultry industry. The prevailing drought in Queensland, which has caused the failure of the wheat Crop and a partial loss of the maize crop, accentuates the trouble. The Queensland producers contend that they are not being dealt with fairly in regard to feed supplies, when the amount of feed received by producers in the southern States is taken into consideration. New South Wales producers quite recently had restored to them the 6 per cent, reduction of their feed supplies. Southern producers also have the benefit of the extra mill offals that result from the milling of grain for the export of flour. Queeusland is not so fortunately placed because it does not share in that trade. , SO. its supplies of bran and pollard are extremely short. Yet the Queensland producers, who are in a worse position, are to have their stock feed further reduced. On behalf of the poultry-raisers, J claim that the Government, instead of further reducing Queensland stocks of feed, and restoring the 6 per cent, cut in the feed in New South Wales, should give the Queensland producers treatment at least equal to that given to producers in the other States. On the information supplied to me, the Queensland producers are being unjustly treated, and I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) to Iia ve an immediate examination made of the quantities of wheat, pollard and bran available in the southern States as compared with the supplies available in Queensland. I should like the Minister to make a full statement of the position so that the poultry industry may he reassured, even if it cannot be given the supplies of feed that are needed. Owing to the unfair way in which the poultry industry has been treated, many men who tried to rehabilitate themselves in the industry, after having served in the deserts of the Middle East and in the jungles to the north of Australia, preferring an open-air life to work in offices, have been forced to abandon their industry and seek a livelihood elsewhere.
Another matter is causing anxiety to poultry producers in Queensland. They are already worried by their inability to get adequate supplies of feed wheat. They are now concerned with the possibility of their not being able in the immediate future to buy seed wheat at concessional or subsidized rates as they have been able to do for a very long time. Owing to the drought and the need to step up production of eggs and poultry for export and local consumption, the Commonwealth Government subsidized wheat used in the production of eggs and poultry. However, the wheat industry stabilization legislation, which was passed in the last session of the Seventeenth Parliament, only a few months ago, does not clearly indicate whether that subsidy is to continue to operate. I want the Minister to indicate the facts, if only with a view to relieving the minds of the producers. Their troubles caused by the lack of feed wheat will ‘be intensified if supplies of seed wheat also are to be limited and the price is to be higher, than that which operated before the enactment of the latest legislation relating to the wheat-growing industry. Finally, I hope that the Minister will be able to give me a clear and encouraging reply to my representations regarding concessional wheat for producers.
– I was most interested to hear the speech of the honorable member for Eden Monaro (Mr. Fraser) regarding housing in the Australian Capital Territory. As to the merits of the two cases which he mentioned, I am not in a position to judge; but I should like to direct attention to an appalling condition in tho Australian Capital Territory. Indeed, a caste system is being established here, and in the allotment of houses public servants receive preferential treatment compared with the employees of private enterprise. This is introducing the Indian caste system in its worst form, and has made outcasts of some people, in as much as they will not be able to obtain houses so long as the requirements of any public servants have to be met.
– Why did not the governments which the honorable member supported build more houses in the Australian Capital Territory in the years when tradesmen were unemployed throughout Australia? If those governments had looked ahead, they could have made adequate provision.
– I am referring not to the shortage of houses, but to the wrong principle of discriminating between public servants and the employees of private enterprise. I am not making a complaint against the administration of the honorable gentleman. What I said was that the Government is introducing into the Australian Capital Territory a caste system on lines similar to that which has existed in India for centuries. I hope that the honorable gentleman will examine this complaint, and allot houses, not according to whether the applicant is a public servant, but on the merits and the necessity of each case.
The honorable member for EdenMonaro did not mention the rents which are charged by the Commonwealth housing authority in the Australian Capital Territory. Last year, ‘the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) and I were members of a committee which investigated the circumstances of the attempted eviction of a serviceman’s wife from a cottage owned by the Government. In the course of our inquiries, as the Minister will recall, the record of nearly every soldiers’ wife who rented a government house in the territory was placed before us. The Minister will also agree with me that “we came to the conclusion that there were .some extraordinary .anomalies in the rents that were charged for those houses.
– If I may correct the honorable member, there were some anomalies in the concessions allowed, but not in the rents themselves.
– There were also anomalies in the rents; but what we all realized, and what a former officer of the department pointed out to us, “was that, in his opinion, the rents were out o!f all proportion to the incomes of the tenants.
– That was in relation to army pay and allowances that the women were receiving, ‘and not to civil incomes.
– Of course it applied to civil incomes. What the former officer of the Department of the Interior said ‘was that in no case should the. rent of a house exceed one-fifth of the income of the tenant. When we examined some of the rents that were charged, we found that they were far in excess of 20 per cent. Indeed, some were as high as 30 per cent. The experience with some housing schemes in Great Britain was that when the slums were destroyed in some towns and the former occupants were moved to comfortable houses with all modern conveniences, the sickness rate among the families rose rapidly. The reason, as ascertained by the medical profession, was that rent had a direct effect on the amount of money that the occupier of a home was able to expend on the purchase of food. If the rent was high, the family was obliged to reduce its expenditure in some other direction, and, consequently, curtailed its purchases of food. This information is contained, I . believe, in the second report of the Chester and Country Palatinate Medical Committee under the national insurance scheme in England. The effect which high rents have on the health of a family, is fully explained in that most interesting document. Recently, the Commonwealth Government .established the principle throughout Australia that if the income of the occupier of a house built by the Commonwealth or a State were’ low, the rent should be subsidized by an amount from Consolidated Revenue. But the peculiar thing, as I see it, is that the principle is not applied to the Australian Capital Territory. Last week, the honorable member for Reid ,(Mr. Lang) declared that this Government was not giving effect to the policy of the Labour party. He -pointed out that, although the Government might not have the constitutional authority to put .into operation throughout the whole of Australia, the policy of the party regarding a 40-hour week, it could apply its policy to employees of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. The first duty of this Government is to ensure that the policy of subsidizing rents, to which it is giving effect in the States, shall be put into operation in regard to its own projects in the Australian Capital Territory.
I realize that the Minister for the Interior has not held his portfolio for very long, and I do not blame him in any way for the present position, but I ask him to appoint a committee to investigate the whole of the rents that are charged to salary and wage earners here, with a view to reducing any that exceed 20 per cent, of the income of the tenant.
– That matter is already being reviewed.
– What a word of comfort for the poor tenants that are paying high rents ! For years, the bureaucrats have had many matters “ under review “. The former officer of the Department of the Interior, who gave evidence, said that he had submitted a report on this subject some time prior to his retirement, and he had left the service some years ago. This is like the expectation of a hen which is sitting on china eggs; it sits but “ hatches no chickens. In the present instance, the matter of reducing high rents is “under review”. The Minister should put a plug of dynamite under the department, and give relief to the people who so urgently need it.
.- I listened with interest to the representations made by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) regarding the shortage of feed wheat for poultry in Queensland. The position is serious in Victoria also, where poultry farmers are experiencing great difficulty in obtaining adequate supplies. Two days ago I drew attention to this matter. I pointed out to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) that the position was acute, and that, unless early relief were granted, the poultry-farmers would be compelled to slaughter large numbers of their fowls. The Minister assured me that the position was not so bad as I alleged it to be, and he attributed the trouble in the main to the f act that certain dealers were holding up supplies of feed wheat; but the Minister was, I think, misinformed.
– I did not. say that dealers were withholding supplies. I alleged that, purchasers were probably acquiring greater quantities than were necessary to meet their immediate needs.
– I accept that correction) but I do not consider that the purchasers are responsible for robbing their neighbours. The matter is most urgent and should be taken up at once. In Victoria, difficulty has been experienced in the distribution of all goods, owing to the recent railway strike, with the result that the distribution of the necessary wheat has been delayed. That strike has now ended, much wheat is being transported by motor lorries, but supplies are not. normal. This is due to lack of supplies of wheat and requires remedy. I shall read a portion of a letter which I have received from a poultry-farmer in Victoria. It is dated the 6th November and states -
I am a poultry-farmer and want you, if possible, to try to help me towards getting some poultry feed. I have 2,000 birds and only enough feed till to-morrow. My regular supplier cannot say when more will arrive. Last year I had to see half of my pullets, which were about one month off laying, killed,, as I could not obtain food, and now this year I am faced with the same position, which will ruin me.
During the war years the Government urged people to go on the land and to take up poultry-farming. Now, after doing our bit, we are left to battle as best we can and nobody seems to bc able to help us. I rang, the Wheat Board this morning, and after being referred to three different persons was told to ring another department, which, in turn, referred me to several others, all saying they could not do anything, and perhaps some one else could help … I was told by the Wheat Board this morning that we have had a very good go with regard to the price of wheat, but I am sure any poultry-farmer will tell you that if wheat were any dearer eggs could not be produced at their present price.
The price of feed wheat has been referred to by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis). Frequently, I have drawn attention to the cost of egg production and to the fact that the ceiling price has been too low to cover that cost. Today the price of wheat delivered to poultryfarmers in my electorate is about 4s. lid. a. bushel. Under the new stabilization scheme the price will be increased to 5s. 2d. a bushel at ports, which will mean that the farmer will have to pay an additional ls. a bushel for wheat delivered to him at his farm. He is now asking how he can carry on his industry should that increase occur. As the ceiling price at present does not cover the cost: of production, the industry will be in a desperate position if 5s. 11-Jd. a bushel has to be paid for feed wheat. This position affects two classes of people, those who are trying to carry on the industry to-day under great difficulties and also many ex-servicemen and others who are being urged, and who desire, to engage in poultry-farming. Is it fair to urge ex-servicemen to take up this industry when they do not know what the immediate future holds for them? I ask the Minister to investigate the matter as one of great urgency, because the farmers concerned wish to know what their position will be a month or a year hence.
I have received complaints from poultryfarmers of great delay in the making of payment for eggs delivered. The Commonwealth Egg Controller should be in a position to have payments made by the Egg Board more promptly than at present. One farmer has been waiting for a month and has not yet received payment. I ask the Minister to have these delays investigated.
– I have listened with interest and concern to the statements of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) and the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan). The Government is aware of the position which has resulted from the unfortunate drought in Queensland and New South “Wales. It realizes the need to expedite supplies of feed wheat for drought-stricken portions of those States.
– That does not affect the position in Victoria.
– The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) complains that poultry-farmers in New South Wales are being allowed more wheat than those in Queensland. The only way in which Queensland producers can obtain alleviation of their difficulties is by drawing wheat from Victoria and South Australia. At present wheat is being sent from New South Wales to help the Queensland poultry producers. If Queensland is to be helped out of its difficulties some wheat will have to be taken from Victoria and New South Wales to assist the northern State. I cannot satisfy the wishes of both the honorable member for Moreton and the honorable member for Flinders simultaneously. Difficulties that prevail in Victoria are due to the fact that we are compelled to use last season’s wheat to the best advantage and, therefore, to send some of it to other States. Until the new season’s wheat is available the shortage may continue. The Government recognizes its duty in this matter and will endeavour to help poultry producers in Queensland. As to the allegedly more generous allocation in New South Wales, I point out that, at present, rail and sea transport facilities are not adequate to meet the demand for the carriage of wheat from New South Wales to Queensland, but it would be unfair, simply because that is so, to deprive poultry farmers in New South Wales of fodder that is available to them. It may be that, at the moment, poultry farmers in that State have more wheat than have poultry farmers in Queensland. I realize the difficulties of the situation. The Department of Commerce and Agriculture and the Australian Wheat Board have had this problem under consideration for some time. They have not been inactive. Already, the Australian Wheat Board has made the necessary arrangements to transport wheat to Queensland and New South Wales as quickly as possible. I can only say that it is my desire to do all I can to supply the needs, and that I shall do my best. I expect that in the meantime the honorable member for Flinders will receive dozens of letters from poultry farmers alleging that if they do not get wheat the next day 50 per cent, of their flocks will perish. I received many such letters during shortages in Victoria about twelve months ago, but I do not know that any poultry perished in that State through lack of feed. On the contrary Victoria’s egg production that year was a record. I do not blame poultry raisers for some exaggeration if they believe that it will lead to quicker action on the part of the Government. I accept the challenge of the honorable member for Flinders. I am prepared to visit the poultry farm to which he referred, and I will wager that the flock of birds there will not die, even should their owner not receive any wheat for a week. I shall continue to do what I can to relieve the situation.
Reference has been made to wheat prices. For a number of years the Commonwealth Government has subsidized the poultry and pig-raising industries by providing wheat at concessional rates. At first, the concession amounted to 6d. a bushel, but later it rose to 3s. 6d. a bushel. I am not quarrelling with the rate. Last year, the Commonwealth Government decided that it would make the concessional rate to poultry breeders and pig- producers 4s. 6d. a bushel. That is the present rate, and there is some freight concession as well. Whether the concession will be retained, increased or eliminated, is a matter of policy to be decided by the Commonwealth Government. When a decision in the matter has been arrived at, I shall inform the House of it. I shall do my best to have the matter decided early.
I shall endeavour to have payments to producers of eggs by the Egg Board expedited. My jurisdiction is somewhat limited inasmuch as this matter is almost entirely in the hands of the State boards. The honorable member for Flinders said that payments were more prompt when this business was in the hands of private enterprise. They were so prompt that people with large flocks received £6 a week less than was paid after the Egg Board was established.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Defence Act - Regulations - StatutoryRules 1946, No. 160.
Papua-New Guinea Provisional Administration Act - Ordinances - 1946 -
No. 4 - Trading with Natives.
No. 5 - Native Labour.
No.6 - Judiciary.
No. 7 - Barristers and Solicitors Admission.
House adjourned at 3 p.m. .
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following answers : -
(a) Amount of unemployment benefit paid in each month in each State between the 1stJuly, 1945, and the 31st October, 1946-
n asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has supplied the following answers : -
Trade Delegation to India.
t asked the Minister for
Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Dairying: Assistance in Victoria; Advertising Abroad.
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, uponnotice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
r asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers tothe honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
l.- On the 13th November, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) asked the followingquestion: -
Having regard to the complaint that there are not available a sufficient number of telephone lines to enable the Postmaster-General’s Department to supply the service which it contracts tosupply to its patrons,will the Postmaster-General consider foregoing the fees payable for land lines which the department cannot provide?
The Postmaster-General hassupplied the following information : -
In cases where it is apparent that delay will occur in complying with applications for telephone services owing to the shortage of plant equipment orskilled man-power, applicants are not requested to pay the necessary rental fees until such time as the department is in a position to proceed with the installation of the service. Where applicants forward therental fees withthe application, the amount remitted is returned to the sender unless there are good prospects ofthe service being provided at a reasonably early date. In all cases the rental chargedoes not commence until the date the service is made available to the applicant.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs,upon notice -
How many pieces of luggage were declared by MissRosetta Kelly on her arrival in Australia from America?
d. - The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answer: -
The passengers’ baggage declaration made by Miss Kelly and the statement made by her to officers of the Department of Trade and Customs form part of the data which are at present being considered by the Crown Law authorities with a view to determine what further action, if any, will be taken by the Commonwealth. In the circumstances, it is not proposed at this stage to table those documents nor to furnish the other information desired by thu honorable member
Newspapers : Importation of Syndicated Matter.
y. - In answer to a question asked by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), last week I promised to inquire into the matter of dollar exchange for American comic strips which appear in local newspapers.
I have consulted the Minister for Trade and Customs, and now inform the honorable member that, when comic strips were first prohibited in July, 1940, import licences were granted to cover what was deemed to be twelve months’ supply. No licences have been granted since for the importation of comic strips for use in newspapers. A licence was granted to “Felix the Cat” Enterprises for a quantity of art pulls of its copyright comic strips, subject to the conditions that no exchange was involved and that the material would not be released to any newspaper or other publishing firm. The American comic strips still being reproduced by Australian newspapers arc obtained by re-drawing by Australian artists from imported newspapers and other publications, fresh printing blocks being made in Australia from these drawings. Any payments to United States interests involved in these operations are made in Australian currency to blocked accounts. The balances of these blocked accounts never reached large proportions, as payments were made from time to time to meet various outgoings in Australia. Occasionally dollar re mittances are approved for small amounts in respect of importations of comic strips received prior to the period of control. These aggregate amounts would not be material. It should also be borne in mind that comic strips produced in Australia by Australian artists are distributed to the United States and the United Kingdom.
Broadcasting : Second Land-line from East to West.
– On the 14th November, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton) asked the following question : -
As the broadcasting of the proceedings of the Commonwealth Parliament has priority on the use of the only existing land-line from eastern Australia to Western Australia, listeners .there are debarred from receiving relayed broadcasts from the eastern broadcasting stations when the Parliament is sitting. I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether .the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is providing a second land-line to overcome the position; if so, when will it be in operation or, if not, when may the people of Western Australia be provided with the necessary facilities?
The Postmaster-General has supplied the following information : -
In accordance with .tin- Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcast Act 1 94(5, the proceedings of Parliament are broadcast from station 6WN Perth. During these periods, listeners to this station are unable to receive the items normally, relayed from the eastern States, but entertainment and other features of the national programme are available from national stations other than OWN.
So as to permit of alternative relays from the eastern States being broadcast from the other national station in Perth (6WF) the department is investigating thu matter of providing an additional high quality relay channel for broadcasting purposes between Perth and the eastern States, but this involves the installation of complex equipment as well as the erection of a number of repeater stations on the route. It cannot bc stated at the present time when the additional facility oan lie made available, but the department is pressing on with the matter as much as possible.
The Postal Department has given special attention to the provision of additional trunk line facilities between capital cities in the Commonwealth and since the cessation of hostilities 38 extra channels have been provided between Sydney and Melbourne, fourteen between Sydney and Brisbane, eleven between Melbourne and Adelaide, four between Adelaide and Perth, and two between Tasmania and the mainland.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 November 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1946/19461115_reps_18_189/>.