18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the House, ut its rising:, adjourn to lo-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.
– I rise, not so much to take objection to the House meeting to-morrow morning, as to find out from the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), if I can, what are the intentions of the Government for the remainder of this sessional period. It is very desirable, even though we all want to get through the business, that there should be, at any rate, one morning after the House first assembles in any week on which party meetings may be held, because matters crop up which require discussion. I understand that the Prime Minister proposes to sit on Tuesday, “Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for the remainder of this sessional period. T would offer no objection to the House meeting on Thursday morning instead of afternoon in each week, but I ‘would urge very strongly that it should not meet on Wednesday morning.
– I shall arrange that the House shall not meet next “Wednesday morning.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I rise to make a personal explanation arising out of false statements that were made yesterday in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales by Mr. Bate, the member for “Wollondilly, and were reported to-day in the Sydney Daily Telegraph under streamer headlines, alleging fish racketeering and black marketing, and naming me as a shareholder in the South Coast Cooperative Society which >vas described as being the parent body of Australian Fishing Industries Limited. The whole of the facts are these:
Several years ago, the South Coast Cooperative and Development Society was formed. It was a purely co-operative body, and hundreds of public-spirited residents of the south coast of New South Wales subscribed for shares in it with a view to promoting the development of that isolated and neglected region. In 1948, I subscribed £5 towards shares in the society, hoping to increase my shareholding as time went on. However, the cost of representing a large rural electorate prevented me from increasing my original subscription of £5, and that remains my only holding in this or any other company. During the war years, the South Coast Co-operative and Development Society fully justified its existence by building small wooden ships at various south coast ports for the use of the armed forces. I believe that the society has since been merged in Australian Fishing Industries Limited, which operates at Eden. I have no connexion with that company beyond the original subscription of £5 to the South Coast. Development and Co-operative Society. Therefore, the attempt by Mr. Bate to link my name with allegations of fish racketeering and black marketing is without the slightest basis or justification. From my general knowledge, the remaining statements made by him, affecting other citizens and the Government of New South “Wales, appear to be equally recklessly false.
– On Friday last, I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs for information concerning the quantity of luggage brought to Australia by Miss Rosetta Kelly ami requested that the statement made by her to customs officers be laid on the table of the House. The Minister replied that the matter was being examined by the Crown Law authorities, with a view to determining what further action, if any, would be taken. In view of the fact that the action complained of took place some months ago, I now ask the Attorney-General whether consideration has been given to the matter by the Crown Law authorities? If so, what consideration has been given to it, has any decision been reached by the Minister, and what action does- the Government propose to take in the matter?
– When the honorable gentleman mentioned this incident earlier last week, I informed- the House that the Grown Law authorities and the customs authorities were conferring- in order to determine whether certain legal proceedings should be taken. They did confer last week, and my information is that certain proceedings have been instituted.
– As. the matter is now sub judice, it should be dropped temporarily.
– In order to clarify : 0111 ruling that certain, matters are sub judice, Mr. Speaker,, I should like to ask the Attorney-General whether he will, today or tor-morrow, if. convenient, inform the House, fh:st, as to the nature, of the proceeding or proceedings being taken in the customs matter referred to, and, secondly, the name or names of the person or parsons against whom the proceedings are being taken?
– Yes, I shall make that inform a ti on available, and so that it may be accurate, I shall make a statement either to-day or to-morrow on the motion for the adjournment of the House.
Stabilization Plan : State Legislation
– In view of the likelihood of the parliaments of the States not passing the complementary legislation required by the Commonwealth Government to enable it to give effect bo. its wheat stabilization scheme, and having regard to the fact that the National Security Regulations will cease to; operate after the 31st December, a-nd also having in mind the fact that section 29:f. of the Banking Act 19.4;6 prohibits the importation or exportation of goods, unless under licence, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture clarify the position of wheat-growers who harvest wheat after the- 31st December?
– I do not admit the likelihood of the parliaments of the States not passing the legislation referred to. As to the latter portion of the honorable member’s question, I ask him to place it on- the notice-paper.
– A fortnight ago I asked the Prime- Minister whether, im view of the serious food shortage in Great Britain and the abundance of food in Australia, he would consider as a Christmas gesture to the people of- Great Britain the shipment of a substantial quantity of food, to them as a gift ? The right honorable gentleman said that, he would’ consider the suggestion. Has he done so, and has any decision been reached? .
– Consideration, has been- given to the matter, but. as such a gesture would not in any way increase the food supplies being forwarded, to Great Britain, or add to. the supplies available,, it was decided not to adopt the honorable member’s suggestion.
– by leave - On the 4th November, the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-Genera] the following question: -
Earlier this month, the pr.ess reported that after the departure: of the M.V. Port Wyndham from Corio, the vessel being loaded with food parcels for Go-cat Britain, a number of mail bags and. wrappings of food parcels were washed i.p upon the beach around Geelong. On arrival at Adelaide, Port Wyndham took on another 2,000 parcels, a certain number of which were larter reported to have been stolen. These, reports have caused great concern to people who send parcels to Great. Britain. Will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral inform me whether the department has investigated those losses? If so, what is the result of the investigations? Do the inquiries show that any food parcels prepared by the Victorian Department of Agriculture were among the number lost? What steps, is the Postmaster-General’s Department taking to prevent a repetition of these losses-?
In reply, the Postmaster-General has supplied the following, information : -
With reference to the pillage of parcels from the mails shipped on Port Wyndham, the vessel- in question carried 2,284 bags of parcels from’ South Australia for. oversea destinations. Parcels from other States were not included in the shipment. After loading in Adelaide,, the ship proceeded to Geelong, and following, its departure from thai port a number of wrappers of parcels were found in the vicinity of Port Wyndham’s anchorage. were profoundly altered by many regulations passed under the National Security Act, WhICh regulations could not bo amended by the Parliament, and could not in practice be adequately examined or debated. I now ask the Minister whether, in connexion with the legislation shortly to be introduced to replace the existing National Security Act and the regulations made thereunder, he will give consideration to the necessity for providing that the power to make regulations shall be limited, as far as possible, to matters of an executive character, and shall not extend to matters of a legislative, character ?
– I propose to introduce to-morrow the legislation to which the honorable member has referred. When that legislation is before the House he and other honorable members will have an opportunity to make suggestions in relation to it.
– In view of the fact that drought relief has been provided for the wheat industry, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture consider the provision of a similar grant to the sugar industry in Queensland, where many producers have suffered heavy financial losses as the result of one of the worst droughts experienced in that State?
– In all cases in which producers have suffered losses from drought the invariable practice is for them to make application, first, to the Government of the State in which they live. Whenever a drought has extended over more than one State, the State Premiers of the States concerned have approached the Commonwealth Government with a view to obtaining its assistance in the granting of relief.
– Last week, the Prime Minister said that he had received a request from the Premier of Victoria to include within the scope of the drought relief scheme for cereal growers certain others for whom provision was not made originally, but who have legitimate claims to relief. I should like to know whether the Prime Minister has yet replied to the Premier of Victoria.
– No reply has yet been made to Mr. Cain’s representations, but I shall ascertain whether that reply can be expedited.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether, as Melbourne newspapers have reported, the request by Mr. Cain that drought relief to cereal-growers shall be extended to include certain special cases, has been refused by the Commonwealth Government?
– I have no knowledge of Mr. Cain’s request having been refused.
– The Government having declared that drought relief is in the first instance a function of State governments, and that they should request the Commonwealth to grant such assistance as they may need, will the Prime Minister state whether the Queensland Government has requested the Commonwealth to grant drought relief to any primary industry in that State, particularly dairying, grazing, cereal-growing, fruit-growing, and - I may add - sugar?
– As the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has stated, the general practice when drought has extended over a number of States has been for the Premiers of those States to submit to a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers a request for some financial assistance from the Commonwealth. When the request has been acceded to, the basis has generally been that of 50 per cent, of the assistance being provided by the State and 50 per cent, by the Commonwealth. Whenever there is drought, fire or flood, many requests are received by the Commonwealth Government. I cannot recall any special request having come from the Queensland Government, but there was a discussion between Mr. Hanlon and myself, and between Commonwealth and Queensland officers in regard to assistance for the producers of whole milk. The Commonwealth agreed that an increase of price should be subsidized on the basis of 50 per cent, of the amount being provided by the State and 50 per cent, by the Commonwealth. I understand that that cuts across the principle adopted by the Queensland Government in respect of
The matter- was immediately investigated, and steps- were taken to check the whole of the mail consignment at the vessel’s next port of call. The check revealed that six bags were missing, and, as /i result of police inquiries, five members of the crew were- prosecuted and subsequently sentenced to two months’ imprisonment. The pillage of mails in transit is a. very rare occurrence, and it is felt that the prompt action taken, and the publicity given to the sentences imposed on the culprits in this ease, will net us a deterrent in the future.
– Can the Minister for immigration inform the House when migration from the United Kingdom to Australia- is likely to begin?’ Has any hitch occurred as a result of the Imperial authorities endeavouring to discourage mine-workers and tradesmen from coming to this country? Is that the reason for the hold-up? If not, will the Minister inform the House of the cause of the delay, and state when immigration will begin ?
– I propose tomorrow to ask leave of the House to make a statement on immigration. However, f can inform the honorable member now, in answer to his question, that there is no hitch so far as the Government of the United Kingdom is concerned. That Government is not responsible for preventing any one from obtaining transport to Australia. The difficulty about shipping is due to the inability of the Commonwealth Government and the Government of the United Kingdom to reach a satisfactory arrangement with the shipping companies regarding the fares to be paid by persons coming to Australia under the assisted migrant scheme and linear the free passage scheme. The other points raised by the honorable member will be answered tomorrow.
– Before the war, most axe handles used in Australia were made from imported hickory. During the war, various substitute timbers were used, but those used in South Australia, at any rate, have not proved satisfactory. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs arrange for the issue of licences for the importation of ‘hickory axe handles?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s question to the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs, who will consider whether the proposal is practicable.
– Will the Minister for External Affairs inform the House what action the Government has taken, or intends to take, to ensure full discussion between the Government of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth Government,, and the governments of the other dominions, so that they- may speak with one voice on the Empire’s foreign policy ?
– Only last week, this matter was debated at length by the House. I then explained that, there is constant consultation with the Government of the United Kingdom, not merely by personal contact between the representatives of the two governments when that is possible, but also in the form of daytoday cable communication. I can assure the honorable member that there is not a tittle of justification for any suggestion that the Commonwealth Government does not maintain the closest consultation with the Government of the United Kingdom regarding such matters - bearing in mind always that questions arise regarding which there are differences of opinion.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General consult with his- colleague with a view to expediting the supply of materials urgently required for the installation of the thousands of telephones in town and country districts- for which applications have been made?
– I shall do as the honorable member desires.
– I preface a question to the Attorney-General by reminding the right honorable gentleman that during the war the normal legal rights of citizens drought relief to primary producers, that Government preferring to make loans at a very low rate of interest. That aspect has also been discussed, in order to ascertain whether the Commonwealth might assist by agreeing to meet losses on such a proposal on a 50-50 basis. I am referring now only to whole-milk production in, I think, four areas. I shall ascertain whether any requests, which I cannot recollect at the moment, have been made, and then the honorable member will be supplied with the information desired by him.
– In view of the fact that recently the State Savings Bank of Victoria reduced mortgage interest on rural loans from 4$ per cent, to 3£ per cent., will the Treasurer make representations to the Commonwealth Bank Board with a view to that institution taking similar action ?
– I shall take the first opportunity to discuss this matter with the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank.
– Can the Minister for Repatriation say whether it is a fact, as reported in last. Wednesday’s Sydney newspapers, that ho stated that men who served in the war of 1914-18 in England, hut not in a theatre of war, are now eligible for pensions? If so, will he advise the Repatriation Department in Sydney, the officers of which have no information on the subject?
– It is true that consideration has been given to the interpretation of the term “theatre of war”, but 1 have not seen the statement to which the honorable member has referred. Some alteration of the meaning of the term has been made as the result of an opinion obtained from the Attorney-General’s Department. The subject is being examined by the Repatriation Commission, and the Deputy Commissioners” in the various States will be advised of the position in the near future.
Training of Linemen - Land Settlement of ex-Servicemen : Loxton Irrigation Area.
– A week ago I pointed out to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction that Mr. E. S. Cornwall, a member of the Post-war Regional Training Committee, had indicated that Queensland diggers requiring training as electrical linemen were being robbed of the opportunity of taking well-paid jobs because the Department of Postwar Reconstruction in Melbourne had refused to accept an offer by the Brisbane City Council to train 100 linemen for six months for £65 on the ground that that figure was excessive and that only £26 should be paid. In view of the urgent necessity for providing trained linemen for the extension of electrical works in and around Brisbane, will the honorable gentleman re-examine the offer? When I raised this matter last week the Minister indicated that he knew nothing at all about it, a reply which surprised me considerably. I thereupon gave him all the necessary documents on the subject and I should now be glad to know whether he is able to supply the information to-day, a week after I asked for it?
– The matter is still under consideration and investigation. As soon as it has been completed I shall advise the honorable member.
– Recently, I received representations from the Greenthorpe branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia in support of the provision of single-unit farms on the same terms and conditions as are applicable to the group settlements of three or more exservicemen. I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction whether the Government is prepared to agree to that proposal, and what arrangements, if any, have been made to give effect to it?
– Land settlement is jointly the responsibility of the Commonwealth and the States, and an agreement was arrived at between the Commonwealth and State Governments under which the responsibility for initiating proposals for land settlement lies with the State Governments. There is nothing in the agreement which prevents a State Government from putting forward single-unit propositions considered to he suitable for soldier settlement. Indeed, some of the States have put forward such propositions and they have been accepted by the Commonwealth, but the initiation of such proposals is entirely a matter for the State concerned.
– Has the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction yet been able to clarify his mind as to the type of planting that should be adopted in connexion with the Loxton Irrigation Scheme in South Australia ?
– The matter is one, not of clarifying my mind but of agreement being reached between the agricultural authorities in South Australia and the Commonwealth Department of Commerce and Agriculture. The Australian Agricultural Council discussed the types of plantings that should be made in irrigation areas, particularly in relation to dried fruits, and the Department of Postwar Reconstruction will act on the advice of that body in connexion with the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land in South Australia.
– Is it a fact that very many valuable army motor cars are to be disposed of at an early date? If so, will the Minister for Supply and Shipping issue a general instruction as to the manner in which they are to be distributed ?
– I do not know whether a large number of army vehicles is to be disposed of in the near future. I understood that arrangements had already been made that all motor vehicles surplusto service requirements would be disposed of through ordinary trade channels. I shall ask the Minister for Supply andShipping to investigate the matter and to furnish a reply to the honorable member’s question.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping seen a report published in a weekly newspaper to the effect that at Mataranka in the Northern Territory 1,200 vehicles were sold at a total price of £3,100? The report states that originally the vehicles cost the Commonwealth Government nearly £500,000, and that the purchaser had within a short time made a profit of nearly £60,000 on his outlay of £3,100. Has the Minister seen that report? Does he know the facts of the case ? If not, will he ascertain the facts, and say what protection is given to the taxpayers to ensure that the Commonwealth Disposals Commission obtains the fair market value of vehicles which it sells?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable member referred, but I believe that a fair market price for motor vehicles or any other articles is the figure that those who are aware that the sale is taking place are prepared to offer for them. However, I shall direct the attention of the Minister for Supply and Shipping to the report, and ask him to investigate the circumstances.
– I have been informed that, not long ago, dealers bought tractors and other motor vehicles at auction in the Northern Territory, brought them south and had them repaired, then the vehicles were commandeered by the Commonwealth Government after they had been submitted for private sale. Will the Minister ask his colleague to supply a statement on this subject disclosing the number of vehicles involved, the prices paid by the firms which bought them and the conditions under which they were commandeered?
– I shall ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping to do what he can to comply with the honorable member’s request.
– I ask the Prime Minister does the Commonwealth Government grant scholarships to young public servants tenable at the universities of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart and Canberra, in respect of which full fees are paid by the Government? Are similar scholarships available at the University of Queensland, except that only half-fees are paid by the Commonwealth Government? If so, what is the reason for such discrimination?
– I shall obtain the necessary information and furnish a reply as early as possible.
– On various occasions the Prime Minister has stated that he believes in the system of conciliation and arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes. He has also said that he believes in the right of employees to strike, and that being so, I presume he also believes in the employers’ right to lock-out. In view of the present wide-spread industrial disturbances in at least three States, involving both the right to strike and the right to lock-out, and to which undeniably the vacillation of the Government-
– Order ! The honorable member is now entering upon a general discussion of the subject.
– WD1 the Prime Minister at an early date make a definite and authoritative statement to Parliament and the country setting out the Government’s policy in respect of industrial disputes?
– It has been made perfectly clear that the policy of the Government and of the Ministerial party is to uphold conciliation and arbitration; and I do not know that any one has supported that principle more than I have in seeking to induce parties involved in industrial disputes to submit their cases to the Arbitration Court. That applied with respect to some fairly large disputes in New South Wales, as the honorable member will recall if his memory goes back that far, and also to recent industrial discontent.
– As the Government’s policy is to apply the system of arbitration to industrial disputes, what action does the Prime Minister intend to take against those persons who organize or participate in strikes and against employers who institute lock outs?
– From the terms of the honorable member’s question, I imagine that he -refers to matters which should be dealt with by the Arbitration Court in the first instance. Disputes should be referred to the court by the employers or the employees if they genuinely desire to have them settled. The court is the proper authority for settling disputes. The part of the honorable member’s question relating to lockouts apparently refers to difficulties that are occurring in Victoria at the present time. I have been informed that those matters are now under consideration by the Arbitration Court; in fact some of them have already been the subject of hearings before the court.
– In to-day’s press is published a report of a strike of employees at radio station 5KA, partowner of which is the South Australian Labour party. Does the Prime Minister agree that the employees pf that station have the right to strike, or does he agree with the attitude of the South Australian Labour party as part-owner of the station in carrying on broadcasting with a scratch staff ?
– As I have no knowledge of the matter mentioned by the honorable member I am not competent at this juncture to express an opinion on the subject.
Dutch Ships in Australian Ports.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether the Commonwealth Government was notified that a basic agreement has been reached in the Netherlands East Indies between the Dutch authorities and the Indonesian representatives for the formation of the United States of Indonesia? If so, what steps, does the Commonwealth Government propose to take for the purpose of having lifted the waterside workers’ ban on the loading of ships destined for the Netherlands East Indies? If the Government has no knowledge of this basic agreement, will the Prime Minister state why it has not been apprised of this international development by its representative in Singapore?
– The Commonwealth Government has been kept informed of the various conferences and negotiations which have been proceeding between the representatives of the Dutch Government and the Indonesian party.
– Our representative was present during the discussions.
– The representative of the Commonwealth Government not only accompanied the British Special Commissioner in South-East Asia, -Lord Killearn, when the matter was being dealt with, but also acted, at times, as chairman. We understand that the agreement which has been reached, has been referred to, and must be approved, by the Dutch Legislature. We know the general text of the agreement, although we have not a copy of it. I have spoken to the Minister for Supply and Shipping regarding the refusal of waterside workers to load Dutch ships in Australian ports. The Minister, who has been closely associated with all these matters, proposes to initiate discussions for the purpose of ascertaining whether the ban can be lifted.
– In view of the basic agreement that has been arrived at between the Netherlands Government and the Indonesian Government, does not the Prime Minister think that it is about time that the Commonwealth Government took charge of its foreign policy relative to the Netherlands, particularly with regard to the loading of Dutch ships, with the object of averting a possible international incident?
– Frankly, I do not see much sense in the honorable member’s question. As I ‘have previously intimated in this House, the discussions, which are still in progress, relate to matters for consideration by the Dutch Government and representatives of the Indonesians.
– The waterside workers are determining the Commonwealth’s policy.
– I might add to the information which I have given, although it is not my custom to do so, the comment that if the attitude which the honorable member adopted during the troubles with Indonesia had been adopted generally, no settlement would ever have been reached.
– Last session, I directed attention to the plight of former residents of Thursday Island whose homes, after they had been hurriedly evacuated, were looted by our own troops. Many houses were burned down, and every article of furniture destroyed. In addition, all the amenities of civilization were stripped from the island. I asked whether an inquiry would be held and suitable compensation paid to these people by the War Damage Commission. The matter has since been raised in a State parliament. 1 should like to know whether an inquiry has been held, and if not, whether the Prime Minister will confer with the representative in this House of that district - he is now Minister for the Navy - with a view to ensuring that a full inquiry shall be held, and adequate compensation paid to these individuals so that they may re-establish themselves?
– The honorable member’s previous representations on. this matter were brought to my notice. I am making arrangements to have the matter investigated, and I shall let the honorable member have a reply to his question as early as possible.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs whether it is the intention of the Government to reduce the profit margin allowed on sales of petrol through bowsers in Australia, and if so, whether before reaching a final decision on the matter, he will take into consideration the case submitted by the Queensland Petrol Sellers’ Association, and also have regard to the fact that a great increase of the number of petrol bowsers operating in this country has taken place since the war ended, the new operators being chiefly ex-servicemen.
– I shall refer the honorable member’s question to the Minis- ter for Trade and Customs.
Presentation to the GovernorGeneral.
– Accompanied by honorable members, I waited this day upon His Royal Highness the Governor-General at Government House, and presented to him the AddressinReply to His Royal Highness’s Speech on the occasion of the opening of the First Session of the Eighteenth Parliament, which was agreed to by the House on the 7th November. His Royal Highness was pleased to make the following reply : -
I desire to thank you for the AddressinReply which you have just presented’ to me. It will afford me much pleasure to convey to His Must Gracious Majesty the King themessage of loyalty from the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia to which the Address gives expression.
– In view of the importance of the debate on the Bretton Woods Agreement that will take place in this House, will the Prime Minister make available to honorable members the opinions expressed by Mr. Melville on his return to Australia after attending the conferences relating to the agreement and also all other information that he can supply, in order that we may form unbiased opinions on the subject?
– I shall be glad to make available to the right honorable member any information that may be helpful to him, except that I have never been prepared to agree that the text of confidential reports submitted to Cabinet should be disclosed to this House. Officers in high positions who now submit to Cabinet reports which they regard as being most confidential would be very reluctant to express their views freely if they knew that the documents were to be the subject of public debate. I have always resisted, and I am sure that other governments also have, the suggestion that confidential documents referred to Cabinet should be made the subject of a public debate. However, I shall examine the matter and shall try to let honorable members have all the information which can be useful to them, having regard to the reservations which I have mentioned.
– Seeing that the Minister for Transport, in a public address broadcast over the air some months ago, gave expression to certain views that are held by Mr. Melville, will the Prime Minister give the definite assurance that Mr. Melville’s report will be made available to the Opposition ? .
– I have already said that I will give consideration to any suggestion for making available such information as does not embrace what may be confidential reports to Cabinet. I am not aware of what statements were made by the Minister for Transport in a broadcast address.
– It was a national broadcast.
– Wherever the statements may have been made, I am not aware of their character. I have neither heard nor read them, and do not know whether what the Minister for Transport said covered in complete detail the reports that had been made by Mr. Melville to me, in the first place, for submission to Cabinet.
– Will the Prime Minister lay on the table of the House any reports that have been made by the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, the Governor of the Bank of England and the Governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States of America?
– I do not know of any report having been made by the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, other than that which appeared in the annual report of that institution. I believe that that has been published in the press; therefore, there is no necessity for me to supply copies of it to honorable members. I presume that the honorable gentleman had in mind Lord Cato when he mentioned the Governor of the Bank of England. I do not know of any special report having been made by that gentleman. Certainly, none has come to me officially. I have no doubt that Lord
Cato has expressed his Opinion on the matter from time to time. I have not received any expression of opinion from the Governor of theFederal Reserve Bank of the United States of America. I understand that he made certain statements which were reported in the press, but I do not know of any special report that he has made. However, I shall inquire whether there are any documents which may be made available to the honorable member.
– Will the Minister for External Affairs inform the House whether discussions have occurred between the representatives of the various British countries regarding the way in which the Bretton Woods Agreement might affect post-war trade, and particularly imperial pref erence ? If such discussions have taken place has any agreement been reached regarding the matter ?
– A conference now being held in London is dealing with the whole problem of post-war trade in relation to employment. Prior to that gathering discussions took place between the Australian representatives and the other representatives of the British Commonwealth. It is not possible for me to sum up the position at present, because the talks have not yet ended.
– Has the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction noted that the Government of New South Wales proposes to embark upon a water conservation scheme that is estimated to cost £30,000,000, the expenditure of the first £15,000,000 of which is to be spread over a period of fifteen years? Would it be possible for the Commonwealth to assist the Government of New South Wales to complete this scheme at an earlier date? Will the honorable gentleman appoint an authority to visit Queensland, and report to the Parliaments of that State and the Commonwealth on necessary irrigation schemes in the State which would be subsidized by the Commonwealth? Will he take early action for the provision of necessary water supplies in thatState?
– The matter of water conservation is entirely one for State Governments. If they require any financial assistance from the Commonwealth, with a view to undertaking water conservation schemes, I have no doubt that they will make application, in which event the matter will have to be considered by the Loan Council. At the moment, financial limitations are not preventing State governments from carrying out such schemes. There is not in this country the necessary man-power or materials with which to embark on schemes of that kind in the immediate future. The State governments are doing everything they can to expedite water conservation schemes.
– Has the Minis ter for Works and Housing read that the terrific storm in the Clarence River valley, to which I drew his attention a week ago, has been followed by further serious storms in all other river valleys on the north coast of New South Wales, with the result that many houses have been unroofed? Will the Minister take steps to increase the allotment of galvanized iron to New South Wales, and to expedite its delivery, so that the residents in the districts affected by the storms may be relieved of their present discomfort due to absence of protection from rain ?
– I have read reports regarding the storms referred to by the honorable member. I have already taken steps to ascertain the extent of the damage, and, when that information has been supplied to me, I shall do everything possible to relieve the position of the unfortunate people who have suffered ‘because of the devastating effects of the storms.
Burials in Japan.
– On the8th November, I asked the Minister for the Army a question regarding the reburial of Australian soldiers in Japan. I said that complaints had been made that many graves were being opened, and bodies were being removed to other places for reburial, -which caused strong protests from relatives. I asked the Minister what authority was responsible for this action and whether the relatives should not have been first informed. The Minister replied that he regretted the incident, and would have inquiries made with a view to making a statement on the matter later. “Will the Minister for the Interior confer with the Minister for the Army, make a statement as to who is responsible for this action, and declare the . Government’s policy on this important matter?
– As was explained by the Minister for the Army in reply to the honorable member’s question, inquiries are being made and at-a later date the policy of the Government will be declared. The cemeteries ref erred to ha*ve not yet been handed over to the Department of the Interior, and are still tinder the jurisdiction of the Department of ‘the Army.
– I lay on the table a copy of an election petition received from the District Registrar of the High Court at Sydney, under Section 196 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, namely: “ Petition of Ronald Grafton Sarina against the return of William Paul O’Connor as member for West Sydney “.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) agreed to-
That leave tie given, to bring in a bill for an not to make provision for the security and defence of the Commonwealth during a time of transition from war conditions to conditions of peace, and for other purposes.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 14th November (vide page 247), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division No. 1 - The Senate - namely, “Salaries and Allowances, £8,870”, be agreed to.
, - The budget which was presented to the committee by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) a few days ago could, perhaps, be best described as “ weary, flat, stale and unprofitable “. It therefore requires some exorcise of ingenuity to distinguish any feature which might be made the subject-matter of discussion Having made that examination, I propose to direct mv own remarks’ to two features of it, each of which derives from one common element, the problem of increased production in Australia - a problem to which the Treasurer devoted some attention in the course of his speech, as a matter of words; but, as I shall undertake to show, very little attention in point of practical consideration. There are two factors that I want to discuss as bearing on the problem of increased production. One is that of continuity of production, which is to say> industrial peace. The other is the effect of taxation as it bears upon production. Industrial peace is something which we have discussed in season and out of season. However long we discuss the problem, it still seems to be perfectly true that there are three things, at any rate, on which industrial peace essentially depends. The first is one which, perhaps, has not had the amount of attention inside industry that it deserves, and that is the establishment of a proper mutual understanding between employers and employees, with a sharing of the prosperity of the industry in which they both are engaged. That is a great problem in which the blame - and there is blame - is by no means attachable to one side only. As I have said on many occasions, there are still far too many employers in Australia who think in terms of minimum legal duties, and there are many employees, or employees’ leaders, who think far too much in terms of industrial warfare. Both are wrong, because, on any proper consideration, their mutuality of interest will at once appear. To encourage to any degree at all the foolish idea that there must be warfare between employer and employee is the height of folly, because no employer can have a business or enterprise which succeeds unless he has contented employees; that means employees who are treated justly and generously.
And no employee can look forward to full production and full employment unless he is working in an enterprise which has every opportunity of success. It is success in industry which produces continuity and volume of employment. I am hoping, as we all are, that the day will come in Australia when, instead of schemes for co-operation and schemes for profit-sharing being regarded as merely visionary, we will get right down to them in a great mutual effort in industry, so that there will be a sense of common risk, of common interest ‘and common profit between employers and employees.
The second factor is that we must have a flexible and swift system of industrial conciliation and arbitration. I am not going to discuss that subject at any length now, because we know, as the Prime Minister has said, that >at some time during this session - if not during these sittings - the House will be given an opportunity to pass in review the entire conciliation and arbitration system as far as it is within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. We all shall have opportunities to contribute from our various experiences something towards making conciliation and arbitration flexible and swift.
– Within the limits of the Commonwealth Constitution.
– Of course. That is why I said within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. What does the Minister think I meant?
– I did not think the right honorable gentleman meant that.
– Then I “cannot imagine what, he thought. I did not believe that the Commonwealth Government, of which the Minister is a senior member, proposed to introduce legislation on matters beyond the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. I have a vivid recollection of >a matter which was, no doubt, in the mind of the Minister - the famous referendum for the alteration of the Constitution - when I, speaking on this side of the chamber, suggested to the Government that if it wished to get rid of its constitutional difficulties all it had to do was to alter its proposal to read, “Conciliation and arbitration for the settle ment of the terms and conditions of employment “. If that proposal had been accepted-
– The right honorable gentleman would still have voted “ No “.
– On the contrary, 1 stated emphatically that I would support such a proposal. Of course, the Government rejected it because it was attached at that time to its own crazy idea, with what result we know. I do not wish to be drawn into a discussion on difficulties of jurisdiction. If there are difficulties - and there undoubtedly are - the Government must, accept responsibility for them.
Everybody will agree that the system of conciliation and arbitration ought to be flexible and swift in its operation, and that brings us to the third element which is this - and it is no use pretending that it does not exist: Not only must we have an effective, mutual understanding between employers and employees, and a flexible and swift system of industrial jurisdiction, but also, having those things, we must then establish the rule of law in industry. There is nothing more disturbing than the facility with which we. in this great country of ours, accept the notion of the rule of law in ordinary terms - we realize that it is basic to the whole democratic concept - while in industry, this new province for law and order, we have adopted policies which are calculated to destroy the rule of law. These three matters which I have mentioned are each of them the subject of continuous Communist attack and propaganda. All honorable members of this House realize that that is true. The Communist attack is upon mutual understanding between employers and employees. The Communist does not want it. The Communist attack is on arbitration. He does not want it, and he seeks to destroy it. The Communist attack is on the rule of law in industry, because he believes that out of lawlessness success for his views can come more readily than out of observance of the law. But while there is not to be found in this House one honorable member who will not repudiate, as a matter of language, those views of the Communists, that propaganda of the Communists, it still remains true that the Communists have, in the last few years in Australia, shown that strikes fomented by them will always be profitable under this Government. Accordingly, by a very strange paradox, we have this position’: That the existence of a strongly.entrenched Labour Government, and the rise to importance of Communist industrial leaders, are not inconsistent. Unfortunately, the two things have existed side by side.
Let us consider one or two examples of this. Take the recent Victorian transport strike, the chief leader of which was Mr. J. J. Brown, of the Australian Railways Union, a gentleman who claims - no doubt with reason since he must know his own mind - to be a Communist. That was a strike which held the community of Victoria to ransom, and dislocated the whole transport system of the City of Melbourne, and many parts of the country. Its leader was a Communist, the technique practised was the technique of the Communist party. The strike involved consideration of two matters which were not necessarily related one to the other. One concerned a series of details - major details, I grant - concerning the employment of railwaymen and tramwaymen. I, for one, have no doubt that they had real grievances. I do not speak as a critic of the tramwaymen of the City of Melbourne. My own experience of them is entirely in their favour. They had demands that they wanted to pursue against a public employer - not a private capitalist - and they were led to pursue those demands by direct action, by agitation of which the head and the front was a Communist leader. The other group of claims constituted a direct challenge to the regulations of this Government. We must always have in mind the fact that it was this Government which instituted wage-pegging in 1942. It is this Government which has maintained wagepegging, and all those matters relating to wage-pegging. Consequently, when the railwaymen and tramwaymen went on strike, they engaged in a strike against the law as laid down by this Government in its executive capacity - not necessarily the law of this Parliament, but the law of this Government. Against this law there was a direct challenge. One would have expected that on such a direct challenge, victory could have gone to only one side - that of the government of the country. However, after some days, there were negotiations. We remember reading in the newspapers that the Prime Minister arrived in Melbourne. The citizens of Melbourne being, as everybody knows, simple and unsophisticated, assumed that the Prime Minister was going to take a hand in the dispute which was inconveniencing hundreds of . thousands of them; but when he arrived he explained in the blandest manner that, of course, he was just down there on a little private business. Had he been asked whether his visit had anything to do with the strike, the answer would have been that it had nothing to do with the strike. But apparently quite by accident the right honorable gentleman found himself discussing the subject, because before long we were told that the strike was to be settled. How was it settled? The good Mr. Brown was able to tell his people, and his colleagues in the Tramways Union were able to tell “ their people, that certain concessions had been granted as to the first group of claims to which I have referred. In other words, there was some profit on that side out of the strike. And, in relation to the regulations, Mr. Brown was able to announce to his people at the stadium - a very suitable milieu - that assurances had been received. Those assurances included one that there would be a speedy reconsideration of the basic wage which, up to that time, had not been before the court because the Australasian Council of Trade Unions had elected to occupy its time with the 40-hour week. There was to be not only a speedy reconsideration of the basic wage, but, in addition, the making of an interim order on the basic wage. That course possesses something in the nature of a novelty. Thirdly, there was to be an expediting of the 40-hour week case, which meant that the case against the 40-hour week would be truncated, since the case for it had already been presented in full. Fourthly, there was to be a lifting of wage-pegging to permit of an increase of the basic wage. I think that Mr. Brown went so far with his prophetic vision as to indicate that the interim increase- of the basic wage would be 10s. a week.
– The right honorable gentleman is entirely incorrect in saying that it was necessary to lift any regulation to allow the basic wage to be dealt with.
– The Prime Minister need not tell me that. I am reciting what Mr. Brown said. I happen to know what is in the regulations. Months and months ago I pointed out that the way was open for a reconsideration of the basic wage ; but it has taken the trade union movement about a year to discover what to do in relation to it. But let me get back to Mr. Brown. The leader of the strike said that four assurances had been given. His remarks were greeted with tumultuous applause. His boys naturally said, “ This is a splendid result. Three cheers for Mr. Brown “. Then the stadium emptied. Of course, the Prime Minister gave a flat denial to what Mr. Brown said. The right honorable gentleman announced that no promise had been made by him.
– That is correct
– We must accept the right honorable gentleman’s denial ; but I place on record the interesting facts that, immediately after the strike had been brought to a happy termination, an application was made to the Arbitration Court for a review of the basic wage, and that it included an application for the making of an interim order on the basic wage, and that each . application had the support of the Commonwealth Government, which went to the length of intervening to support the application. Consequently, the first three matters mentioned in Mr. Brown’s list, by a happy chance, turned out to be right. He was not given any assurances - we accept that - but, oddly enough, these three things happened. The fourth point, as the Prime Minister has just stated, did not matter, because for the last twelve months or so the regulations have provided for an alteration of the basic wage. I could have tipped what would have happened had I been told that a Communist was leading a strike against the Commonwealth Government. I could have anticipated the Government’s surrender. I could have anticipated that the Com munist leader would be able to say to hu people, as Mr. Brown did’, “ Well boys, :’t was a good: strike. At first sight it might appear to have been expensive, but we have come out of it pretty well. We have made a profit. We have got things iron the Tramways- Board and the Railways Commissioners that we did not have before, and we have ‘ put the heat on ‘ so that we have an application for an interim basic wage, and we have been told that the court, will sit continuously until an interim order is made, and mat- a. new basic wage is to be determined. “. He will be able to say to his people, “If I had been one of your kindly constitutional union leaders who do not believe in direct action,, what would have happened ? There would have been no strike, no urgency, no visit of the Prime Minister to Melbourne, no application to the Arbitration Court - just nothing”. If that is not a splendid case in support of the Communist party, I do not know what is.
-The right honorable gentleman has spoiled his case.
– Order !
– Do not check him, Mr. Chairman. I am always delighted when the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway)’ interjects. He thinks that I have spoiled my case. All that I have done is to state it. The committee and the public will make up their minds as to whether that case does not demonstrate conclusively the advantages that Communist leaders possess in this country under a government which declines to face up to the problem of enforcing the rule of law in industry. Let us recall what happened in Victoria recently. Oddly enough, Victoria appears to have transferred its climate -to Sydney, while, at the same time, Sydney’s industrial troubles appear to ha:ve been transferred to Victoria. In Victoria there is a dispute in which iron-founders are involved.. This matter was referred to at question time to-day by the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson). There was a series of sporadic, isolated strikes in iron-foundries. The employers, apparently - I say “ apparently “ because they have not, so far, favoured the public with any lucid account of -what they lure in their minds - find themselves at the point at which they say, “ If we are to be tackled one by one by direct action, we shall all stand together and engage in direct action on our own account “. They have called, foi- a lock-out. Every word of condemnation that exists against a strike exists against a lock-out. Each is a form of direct action for which there ought to be no room in a community which genuinely believes in arbitration and industrial law.
– What would the right honorable gentleman do about it?
– I have said many times what I would do. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly) has only to read the policy-speech which I delivered during the recent election campaign to know what I would do. He will find there in categorical terms what the party which I have the honour to lead would do about it. I commend that speech to the honorable member’s consideration. It all comes to this : that if we are to have an industrial law to protect people, we must also have a law to bind people. Unless people are bound they cannot be protected.
– In his policy-speech the Leader of the Opposition only said what a government led by him would set out to do. That does not necessarily mean that it would do what he said.
– I do not follow the right honorable gentleman’s reasoning.
– The right honorable gentleman refers to the tilings that have been said but not to what has been done.
– That,” no doubt, is a correct general observation on political history. It is unanswerable, because many governments have said such things. But the Government led by the present Prime Minister has established a novel record in. that direction; it does not even say that it will do anything. It merely allows a chaotic state of affairs to continue, and when approached, either in this Parliament, or by a patient public, for a statement of policy, the Government’s only answer is, “ What can we do? “ As long as ‘the Government says th,at, Communist-led strikes will continue to pay dividends. So long as that is the attitude of the Government, so. long shall we have trouble in industry such as is taking place in connexion with the iron-f bunders? dispute; we shall find the parties to the dispute fighting each other with all the weapons available to them, while the. public interest goes down the drain. That cannot continue- indefinitely. Either we are to have industrial law, or we shall have industrial anarchy. I do not know why the Government assumes that it can have “ a bit each way “. That is not possible, because there never can be any compromise between law and lawlessness. The tune has come for the industrial laws of this country to be upheld. That is all I desire to, say at this stage about the first feature of this budget, namely, increased production by continuity of production.
I now turn to the problem of increased production by incentive to production, that is to say, by the most powerful of all incentives, namely, an effective reduction of the relevant tax burden. When it deals with this matter the budget speech itself is admirable. One of my minor political disabilities is that whenever the Treasurer speaks in the broad I find myself in complete agreement with him. That, no doubt, embarrasses him occasionally, and it may, perhaps, embarrass me at times. It is only when he commences to apply these principles, however, that we ‘begin to part company. For example, in his budget speech he paid lip service to an undoubted truth when he said that an increased demand both at home and abroad “is entirely dependent upon our achieving a higher all-round standard of efficiency and productivity”. He also said -
Failure in this direction would Involve painful re-adjustments once the present scarcity demand has been satisfied.
What the right honorable gentleman had in mind is that unless the volume of production rises substantially we shall reach a time when the present scarcity demand has been satisfied, with our production low, and with very serious dislocations in our economy, particularly in the value of money and, therefore, in the value of wages. Again, he said -
For the productive effort that will turn these advantages to full account in. higher living standards we must necessarily rely upon industry and all who have a share in it. Unless that effort is made the attainment of full employment will be but a partial achievement
Very wise words again, because they recognize that half the merit of full employment will disappear if it turns out to be full employment with a low or a falling standard of living. Yet what does the Government do in order to give effect to these principles? On the most conservative estimates of revenue, and the most liberal estimate of expenditure, the Treasurer finds himself able to make tax concessions valued at about £20,000,000 a year. He might, of course, have employed his £20,000,000 to reduce the tax upon individuals. The estimated revenue from that source for 1946-47 is £91,000,000, and therefore it is clear from the Treasurer’s own figures that an all-round reduction substantially greater than 20 per cent, could have been made in the rates of personal income tax. That was one possible thing to do, and even that assumes the correctness of these conservative estimates of revenue and these handsome, or at any rate, liberal, estimates of expenditure. If we take income tax in all its forms, including companies tax, and the social services contribution in all its grades, £20,000,000 would still represent 10 per cent, of the total estimated yield. But the Treasurer puts all these things on one side ; he turns his back on direct tax reduction and makes his reductions in indirect taxes - in sales tax, customs and excise. It should, perhaps, not need emphasizing in this chamber that the effect of direct taxation is much more vividly experienced by the taxpayer than is the effect of indirect taxation. We may construct a fine theory on this matter. We may explain exactly what the incidence of direct taxation is, and what a taxpayer pays, but not one solitary human being in this chamber does not know that what hurts is the thing a man is conscious of. And the weekly deduction from the pay envelope or the cheque a taxpayer writes for his annual assessment is the only thing he is conscious of, and it is this that makes him say, with no disloyalty to my friend the Treasurer, “I will not work harder because if I do I shall only be working for Chifley “. He levies but only the tax of which he is sees not the weight of customs and excise immediately conscious, namely, the direct tax levied upon his earnings. The weight of direct taxation is therefore unquestionably the greatest deterrent to productive effort, and reductions of direct taxation would afford the greatest possible incentive to such effort. The Treasurer, however, chooses instead to exempt from sales tax all clothing and household drapery, and certain other requirements of a minor kind, and to bring about a reduction of the petrol tax by Id. a gallon. Before I address myself to that aspect of the budget, however, I would like to say a word about the revenue which the Treasurer has at his disposal. Reductions of indirect taxation are alleged to be of the order of £20,000,000 for a full year; but we have heard that kind of story before. In order to show upon what a buoyant structure the tax revenue of the Treasurer is operating, let us take the estimates -and actual yields of the past. First, let us consider direct taxation. It will be found that, in 1945-46, the estimated yield from direct taxes was £211,000,000 but the actual receipts amounted to £214,500,000, to say nothing of uncollected or unassessed tax. The estimate for this year is £202,000,000 and, having regard to the experience of the past, that figure will unquestionably be exceeded. The three major items of indirect taxation, customs, excise and sales tax, are not without interest. For 1945-46, the Treasurer estimated that he would obtain from customs a total revenue of £25,000,000, but he got £29,000,000. For this year he estimates that after the minor adjustments provided for in the budget have been made he will get £37,000,000 from that source. If past experience counts for anything, this estimate may very well be exceeded. There may be a very large increase of customs revenue and he may receive £40,000,000. Receipts from excise for 1945-46 were estimated at £47,000,000, but the actual yield was £49,000,000. This year the estimate is £52,000,000, and, notwithstanding the reductions to be made, the yield will no doubt be greater still. The estimated return from sales tax for 1945-46 was £28,000,000, but the actual yield was £34,000,000. This year the estimate, because of reductions made in relation to clothing and household drapery, is down to £31,000,000, but you would not be risking very much if you laid the Treasurer a shade of odds that the actual receipts will be more than £31,000,000. In other words, in spite of the reductions we have heard about over the last year dr two, and which are smn.ni ari zed in the present budget, we find that the returns from direct taxes, for all practical purposes are not reduced;, and in respect of indirect tuxes the only changes which have occurred have been in the direction of increasing the total yield. In that state of affairs there was an abundance of opportunity for the Treasurer to come down on direct taxes which have the greatest possible bearing upon incentive to produce, and make a really handsome reduction. But instead of that he has turned his hack on it, and makes this modest reduction of indirect taxes. “What in effect are the reductions he makes in respect of clothing, household drapery, and petrol? The reduction of the price of petrol by one penny, has no doubt, created much enthusiasm among the workers.
– The workers do not use much petrol.
– Exactly. I happen to have a fair number of them in my electorate. It seems an awful pity that 1 ha’ve to explain my remarks. That is the very point I was making - the basic wage-earners do not have motor cars and, therefore, the reduction of the price of petrol by one penny is useless to the basic wage-earner. It is a concession to what the honorable member for Wannon ( Mr. McLeod) would call the big man. What effect will these reductions have upon productive effort? The answer, obviously, is that they will have none at all. We all know that the greatest upward pressure of prices has been on clothing, because it has been in that department that the drain on subsidies under the price-ceiling scheme has been greatest, but insofar as the reductions of sales tax tend to reduce the cost of living they will be reflected in the cost of living adjustment of the basic wage. The actual purchasing power of the wage-earner’s income is not likely to be materially affected. The net result to the basic wage-earner will not be, certainly, to induce him to put forward a greater effort. In fact, the effect may be the opposite if the result of the reductions of sales tax is as the Treasurer expects it to be. Even if that factor did not exist, calculation shows - and I have made quite a number of calculations, although I do not intend tei burden the record with them - that the sales tax reduction put forward by the Treasurer amounts week by week in the case of the wage-earner to a mere fraction of what a decent cut in his income tax would be worth; and consequently, its incentive value in stimulating production can be disregarded. A third aspect to which I direct the attention of honorable members opposite, is this: Take clothing, household drapery, and petrol, all the commodities upon which reductions of some kind are being made; who spends the most money on those things, the basic wage-earner, or the small wage-earner, or the people in the higher income groups? The answer, obviously, is “ the people in the higher income groups “. Consequently, the result of these reductions will be that the bulk of the benefit of this budget will accrue to people not in the lower income groups.
– That is specious reasoning.
– It is reasoning which will take more than the ingenuity of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke) to answer. Even in his gloomiest moments he will have difficulty in answering that. He will have no hope of persuading the Committee that the bulk of the benefit of these reductions of sales tax on clothing, household drapery, and petrol goes to people in the lower income groups. Of course, it goes to the people in the higher income groups. I mention the fact, not because I regard such a result as avoidable - it is not avoidable when you are reducing excise duty and sales tax - but to remind honorable members opposite that they devoted so much of their ingenuity and not a little of their lung-power in the recent elections to condemning our proposals for the reduction of taxes on the ground that the bulk of the benefit of the reductions we proposed would go to those in the higher income groups, who pay the most tax. One would have thought that honorable members opposite would .have planned to avoid that result, but the first thing the Government does is to produce that result in relation .to indirect tax.
– It makes “the purchasing power of the £1 greater.
– The Government has completely failed to appreciate the relation between the rates of direct tax and the volume of production. It has failed to understand that increased productive activity means increased individual incomes and increased national income. From those things two results follow : The first is that there will be an increase of the volume of income, and therefore a good chance of an increase of the total tax yield even from reduced rates; and the second is that there will be an increase of the volume of capital and consumer goods for sale, and that is the greatest possible protection we can have against the inflation of which we have spoken so much in this Parliament. If we are to protect the community against inflation, let us get into our minds that the most powerful weapon is not a mass of regulations, but a new mass of goods for sale, new houses to live in, and new masses of commodities of all kinds ; because the greater the supply of those commodities the less will be the danger of depreciation in the value of money, and the more speedily will the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) reach the stage when the value of the £1 will be increased. Therefore, I emphasize that if we are really to stabilize our economy, the great need is a substantial increase of the volume and efficiency of production. We cannot get it without a stimulus. This budget deliberately refuses to give any such stimulus. Because it fails to do so, and in order to test the feeling of the House, I move -
That the first item he reduced by fi. as an instruction to the Government - to withdraw the budget and redraft it so as to include reductions in taxation upon personal incomes.
.- I listened with a great deal of attention to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr.
Menzies). The right honorable gentleman criticized the Government in his usual strain. He claimed that it had done nothing, and that it had a poor record. The Leader of the Opposition attacked the Labour Government for its alleged inability to preserve industrial peace. I ask honorable members, and particularly the people, whether they cam remember what the right honorable gentleman did to preserve industrial peace when he was Prime Minister for a number of years. Indeed, during the period of his administration, industrial unrest, including general strikes, was infinitely worse than it has been during the regime of the Labour Government.
– The honorable member obviously has not examined the statistics.
– My remarks apply particularly to the coal-mining industry. At one period when the right honorable gentleman was Prime Minister, all the coal mines ceased production. The Leader of the Opposition twitted the Labour Government with “ rubbing shoulders with the Communist party”, but I assure him that the Labour party has not grovelled to that organization as he did when he spoke from a platform at Kurri Kurri with the representative? of the Communist party, and appealed to the .coal-miners to resume production. After certain agreements had been reached, the men did return to work. Shortly afterwards, the Curtin Government took office- and, with the ‘exception of some sporadic stoppages, the coal mines have continued production fairly well. In 1942, under the Labour Government, output was greater than ever before in the history of coal-mining in Australia. We do not believe that there should always be warfare between the owners and the workers in industry. In my opinion, ‘the causes of industrial unrest can be overcome by better relations between masters and men. The system of arbitration and conciliation should also be streamlined, and in the words of the Leader of the Opposition, made a “little more flexible” than it is at present. In addition, improved amenities, similar to those which this Government has established in the heavy industries - iron and steel - should be provided for all workers. For example, all industries should provide for their employees cafeterias where workers will be treated as men, and .not as beasts, as they have been in the past, particularly in the coal-mining industry. Indeed, very few amenities are provided to make coalmining a little more attractive than it is. The coal-miners believe that the people generally .are -indifferent regarding the risks .and dangers that they ran in the course of their employment; but the Coal Industry Act, widen the Parliament passed .a few months ago, will go a long way towards overcoming industrial unrest in the industry. Unsettled -conditions in the coal-mining industry are -not confined to Australia. In an endeavour to solve the problem, the United .Kingdom Government has completely nationalized the industry. I, myself, have for a number of years advocated “the nationalization of the coalmining industry in Australia.
During the election campaign, the Leader of the Opposition certainly started a “ bargain arcade “ regarding the reduction of taxes, and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) made an even better offer. The Leader of the Opposition advocated a reduction of ‘taxes by 20 -per cent, but the Leader of the Australian Country party said, “<L shall go S per cent better. ‘Who will buy? “ The public, with no uncertain voice, decided to accept the policy of the Labour party. The electors showed their confidence in the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), who has an unprecedented record of achievement, not only in reducing taxes, but also in providing social services. The programme of the Labour party has provided some measure of social security for the people. The Leader of the Opposition blamed the Communist party for our various economic ills; but I inform him -that that organization is not responsible for all the evils in -the world to-day. The blame attaches principally to’ those governments which are not prepared to give social security to the people. When people enjoy social security, the Communist party has nothing to sell. It is only in the midst of want, poverty and despair that the Communist party can attract followers. However, I do not desire to deal with this subject at length; I referred to it only for the purpose of replying to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition, who attributed to the Communist party all the economic ills of the world. I say definitely now, even though it lost me thousands of votes, that I prefer the policy of the Communist party any day to the -right honorable gentleman’s policy of misery and despair.
During his speech, the Leader of the Opposition advocated a substantial reduction of direct taxes. The Government has already granted a considerable measure of relief. The Leader of the Opposition did not appear to favour a reduction of indirect taxes, and he did not believe in the reduction of retail prices. The effect of such reduction, as the result of the remissions of sales tax announced in the budget is, in his opinion a mere bagatelle. When the right honorable gentleman states that the worker is concerned most with what is left in his pay envelope after his tax has been deducted, he should realize that the worker is sufficiently intelligent to understand that the important consideration is the purchasing power of the £1. If the remissions of Bales tax and of other imposts on essential .commodities will increase the purchasing power of the £1, the worker will be quite satisfied that .he is receiving the benefit of a reduction of tax. This Government has reduced sales tax on household linen, drapery, clothing and building materials. When the right honorable gentleman mentioned those concessions, he spoke as if sales tax on those lines should not be reduced. Every worker wants to be able to buy clothing and household linen at the cheapest prices. Every worker who is building his home, wants a reduction of sales tax on building materials. I favour an even more substantial reduction of indirect taxation on goods that everybody uses. The workers like their tobacco and beer and why should not excise on tobacco and beer be reduced proportionately? The Leader of the Opposition advocated an all-round reduction of direct taxes by £25,000,000 per annum. I believe that the method of making that reduction would benefit. the people whom he represents more than it would benefit the workers over whom he to-day shed crocodile tears. Under the right honorable gentleman’s taxation proposals, 1,500,000 taxpayers earning up to £400 a year would receive a total benefit of £6,000,000, or £4 a year each. In the £400 to £1,000 income group, the number of taxpayers is 155,000, hut the benefit would be £8,000,000, or £14 10s. a year each. There are S5,000 taxpayers receiving more than a £1,000 a year, and the benefit to them would be £11,000,000 or £130 a year each. A married man with a wife and two children, in receipt of a taxable income of £300 a year, would receive a reduction of £2 7s. a year, or the magnificent sum of lid. a week. A similar taxpayer in receipt of £400 a year would receive a reduction of £6 13s. a year, or 2s. 7d. a week. In respect of an income of £500 a, year, the reduction would be £11 12s. a year or 4s. 6d. a week ; £800 a year, £29 Ss. or lis. 4d. a week; £2,000 a year. £13S 15s. or £2 lis. 4d. a week; and £5,000 a year, £569 5s., or £10 18s. lid. a week. These figures indicate clearly who would have benefited most under the scheme advanced by the Leader of the Opposition. The Labour party believes in taxing individuals in accordance with their ability to pay. We claim that a man in receipt of £400 should be on the lowest rate of tax, and that the rate of tax should increase as incomes increase. On the other hand, the Leader of the Opposition apparently favours a flat, rate of tax.
– Reductions of indirect taxes do not help the high income earner any more than the low income earner.
– The man who is in receipt of a high income generally has business associations, and is able to purchase his household requirements at wholesale rates, whereas the working man is obliged to pay full retail prices.
Everything possible should be done to increase shipments of food from this country to Great Britain and Europe. Early this year I had an opportunity to visit not only the United Kingdom, but also Prance, Belgium and Germany, and I can speak of conditions in those countries -from my own personal knowledge. After seeing the reduced scale of rations upon which the British people exist, I was very much impressed with the efforts that are being made in the British zone of occupied Germany to alleviate the suffering amongst the starving German people. I felt proud to be British. Sometimes we are misunderstood by foreigners. I believe that even Hitler is reported! to have said that the maudlin sentiment, of the British people would not get them anywhere; but we are actuated by humanitarian instincts. When I found’ that the people of the United Kingdom were willing to sacrifice a portion of their own very meagre rations to assist the German people, I resolved to make every effort to assist an increase of food shipments to Great Britain, and in turn, to’ the starving Europeans. There has been considerable press criticism of the Labour Government in Great Britain because of its handling of the food situation. I sawbig cartoons in the daily newspapers ridiculing the Government. One drawing: depicted wharf labourers at Tilbury Docks loading food just received fromAustralia on to vessels sailing to Germany, and the caption was, “ We won thewar; Germany is getting the food “. That was most misleading, as the cartoonist would have realized had he been able toobserve conditions in Europe as I did.. From one end to the other the Ruhr isdevastated. It is a mass of rubble which at one time was beautiful buildings. Industries are completely smashed. Evenlittle children stand in queues awaiting: their turn to descend into dangerouscaverns in the ruins to retrieve what scraps of foodstuffs may remain in: wrecked shops, ignoring the danger of being crushed by a fall of rubble, as frequently happens. I saw children crawling from ruins with blackened dustcovered scraps of sugar, which they licked while they returned to the end of the queue. Mothers with children in their arms also engage in this hazardous practice. A man is an inhuman monster if such sights do not move him. Where is the Christianity of the people who criticize the British Government for sending food to those children? Will those little children, who are living near the point of starvation, grow to manhood and womanhood imbued with the ideals of peace? Bitterness is being implanted in their hearts and minds at the beginning of their lives, and when they grow up they will want to know who has been responsible for their suffering. After previous wars victorious nations, by being harsh instead of generous towards their defeated enemies, have sown the seeds of new wars. We may be doing so now. Long before World War II. began I read Hermann Goering’s autobiography Throughout that book, which may be obtained from the Parliamentary Library, Goering directed propaganda to the German people in order to convince them that they were suffering from the effects of the Treaty of Versailles. The German people may develop another persecution complex if we do not treat them generously. Russia now wants to remove from the industrial area of the Ruhr all plants for the extraction of oil from coal. Ever since I have been a member of this Parliament I have been keenly interested in the extraction of oil from coal. Now it seems that Australia may lose an opportunity to gain expert knowledge on this important scientific development. In all probability, Russia will remove all of the six plants in the Ruhr area. I admit that some of the plants were smashed during the war, but others are still intact and can be put into production immediately. I have discussed this matter with the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). In my report to the Government on my visit overseas, I recommended that, in demanding reparations, Australia should seek to obtain possession of one of those plants. I also recommended a better plan, namely, that we should bring to Australia some of the German scientists associated with the production of oil from coal, because probably two ships the size of the Queen Mary would be needed to bring out one plant. A Mr. Beasley, of Imperial Chemical Industries Limited, whom I met in Germany, suggested to me that Australia should follow the lead of Great Britain in this respect. Technicians and engineers associated with -the construction of the German equipment could advise us how to build our own plant, using the services of Australian workmen and Australian materials in our secondary industries. They could warn us of the mistakes that were made in Germany, and enable us to produce the most up-to-date type of oil extraction machinery. When I referred this matter to the Prime Minister he informed me that Australian engineers had been sent to Germany to make investigations. I am awaiting further information on the subject, but I am afraid that the Government may delay too long. It has been reported that Russia is conscripting German technicians and removing them to Russia; Australia may enter the field too late. If we asked these Germans to volunteer to migrate to Australia, I believe that they would come. Mr. Beasley assured me that they were prepared to do so. If Great Britain and Russia are taking advantage of the skill and knowledge of German technicians, Australia should do likewise. At one plant which I inspected, the Germans were producing synthetic butter from coal - an extraordinary achievement. Almost all of the synthetic dyes and plastics being used in Germany to-day are produced from coal and shale.
I revert to the subject of the treatment of German children. Frequently 1 allow my heart to run away with my head, but .1 believe that I voice the sentiments of all British people when I say that we should . assist those children. Many of them are homeless, and we need migrants. Our immigration authorities should take action to bring some of them to Australia. As the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) knows, German citizens who settled in South Australia many years ago ha.ve proved themselves to be good Australians. I have been told that the record of their enlistments to fight for the British Commonwealth of Nations in World War I. and World War II. was wonderful. Therefore, I urge that we bring some of Germany’s homeless children to this country. Let us be generous and remove them from their conditions of poverty and despair so that there will not arise amongst them a desire to seek revenge for their sufferings. There is also another elementin Germany that we should eliminate. It consists mainly of youths between the ages of eleven years and fourteen years. I have seen such boys goose-step along what had once been a street, but was then merely a track between heaps of rubble marking former blocks of nouses, until they came within a few feet of an English soldier, and then turn their backs to h, im. At the time I passed the remark that they would not get away with such behaviour in front of an Australian soldier. I know that an Australian “ digger “ would “ root “ them out of the way with a foot applied in the appropriate part of the anatomy. Are we to allow those boys to perpetuate the spirit of Nazi-ism in Germany? They constitute the nucleus of a new force of hatred. I listened with great attention to the remarks of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke) during the debate on international affairs. He mentioned the fact-
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. J. I. Clark).Order ! The honorable member is not entitled to refer to a previous debate.
– I merely intend to connect my remarks with those of the honorable member for Perth on the subject of German children. I believe that I shall be in order in doing so during the budget debate, which allows a great deal of latitude. I have bitter recollections of what I saw in Germany and of the picture, recently published in the newspapers, of the. son of one of the . high Nazi officials who were recently hanged waiting outside the gaol, starved and emaciated, to hear of the death of his father. An invitation could be given to all those to whom I have referred. To come out here where they could be treated decently; thereby we might eliminate a bitterness which otherwise will grow in them. I should not like them to settle in colonies, as occurred in South Australia, even though, according to my understanding, those settlers became very good Australian citizens. There are wide open spaces in this country in which they could be settled. Children could be brought also from other devastated countries. We must develop this country until it has reached the stage of carrying the population which, I am informed, it is capable of carrying. One of my dreams of its future is that it will have a population of not 7,000,000 but 170,000,000.
My overseas visit was a great experience to me and enlarged considerably the mining knowledge I already possessed. I look forward to the development of the Balmain colliery, which has a depth of 3,000 feet. According to our mining engineers, the seam is too deep to mine. If it could be worked, it would have an advantage in respect of production costs of 10s. a ton compared with any other colliery in Australia, because, being right at the source of consumption, no rail or shipping freights would have to be incurred. In Germany, I went down a mine adjacent to the one at Dortmund, in which an explosion occurred three weeks after I had left it; there were only two survivors. At this other mine, coal is being hauled without difficulty from a depth of 4,000 feet at the rate of 12,000 tons a day. The thickness of the seam of coal on the different levels averages from 2 feet to 6 feet. Some Australian mining engineers should be sent to Germany for the sole purpose of examining the methods used there for the extraction of’ coal from very deep seams. Mechanization has progressed much further in Germany than in Great Britain. I went down mines in practically every mining district in England, Wales and Scotland, and did not see in them anything that could compare with the- conveyor system which operated underground in Germany, where strata 3 feet or 4 feet in thickness have to be brushed away in order to extract a seam of a thickness of only 2 feet, compared with a thickness in Australia of between 20 feet and 37 feet, thus adding considerably to the cost of mining operations. They have four wheels instead of two wheels on the poppet head, and two ropes instead of one rope attached to every cage, each of which has a haulage capacity of 16 tons, thus increasing the measure of safety afforded, because wear and tear is lessened on the wheels at the poppet heads as well as on the ropes, which are from 2-J inches to 3 inches in diameter. Should anything happen to one rope, safety is provided by the second rope. The ropes are more pliable, and naturally the two ropes last longer than would one thicker rope.
I compliment the Government on the splendid work it has done in the past, and am confident that it will do as well in the future. I hope that coal-mining methods in this country will reach the high standard to which they have attained in other countries, so that mining will be made more attractive, and will not be shunned, as it is to-day, when parents are pleading with .their children to reach the higher branches of education so that they will not have to work in the mines and suffer from dust, maimed bodies, loss of limbs and perhaps fatal injury. Safety measures are the order of the day in Britain, and the amenities provided are exceptionally good. Instead of all the men having to use a large common bathroom, all of them have separate cubicles. Common decency demands the provision of separate cubicles in this country. Mining towns should be made more attractive, and the housing conditions should bc improved. The mine-owners in Australia make no attempt to provide housing facilities for their men. In Great Britain, the mine-owners have built houses for their employees, who are allowed to occupy the dwellings rent free, If a miner lives in his own house, he is allowed the equivalent of the rent. In Great Britain the houses are frequently arranged in terraces, which have a barrack-like appearance. I should not like to see such buildings erected in Australia. At Douai, in northern France, [ saw an excellent housing . scheme for the accommodation of coal-miners. Each home was detached from the rest. Since the ‘conclusion of World War II., France has. instituted national control of the coalmining industry. When the board to be appointed under legislation passed recently by this Parliament has had time to deal with the matters that will engage its attention, the complaints of the people regard ing unrest in the coal-mining industry will, I feel sure, cease. To prevent unrest we must recognize that the miners play an important part in the industrial activities of the country, and that they are entitled to be treated as human beings. We should remember that they risk their lives, and frequently shed their blood, in supplying the coal which is essential in providing transport facilities far the public, in the heating of houses and in the operation of many refrigerators. I am confident that when the legislation with regard to coal-mining recently passed at the instance of the present Government has been in operation a little longer, people will say that they regret it was not passed 50 or 60 years ago.
.- I compliment the honorable member for
Hunter (Mr. James) upon his remarks about the necessity for providing food for the people of Great Britain. In view of his recent experience overseas his observations constituted a valuable contribution to the debate on the matter. The Opposition’ has suggested that action should be taken to provide more food than at present for the starving peoples of Europe, particularly for the hungry people of Great Britain, and I cordially support the remarks of the honorable member. He also claimed that we should encourage the migration to Australia of German children and the children of other aliens. Perhaps he has not given sufficient consideration to the importance of encouraging migrants from the United Kingdom. I am sure that he, like many other honorable members, would be glad to welcome, in preference to all other migrants, our own kith and kin. It has already been suggested to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) that the claims of certain people in Great Britain who would like to migrate to Australia should receive favorable consideration. I refer to men collected by Mr. Hanger, of the Young Men’s Christian Association, from prison camps in Malaya. They fought for the Empire in the recent war, and they would willingly come to Australia if given an opportunity to do so. They have had experience in agriculture, and, being men of integrity, as well as being of our own race, their claims should be investigated. They are men of enterprise who would do well in the wide open spaces referred to by the honorable member for Hunter. Why should he contend that people from an ex-enemy country should receive preference over people of British stock.
– I did not advocate that preference be given to them.
Mi-. TURNBULL.- Why should their claims be supported, and those of the others to whom I have referred bc said to be of no great importance?
– I referred to the desirability of obtaining immigrants from all countries.
– Let us give preference to immigrants from the United Kingdom and from any part of the British Empire.
– The honorable member should not misrepresent me. I stand for preference to immigrants from Great Britain.
– I have no wish to misrepresent the honorable member.
In a budget debate we should consider what the Government has been doing with the revenue that has been collected, and consider what should be done with revenue received in future. Although expenditure has been undertaken in connexion with the decentralization of industry, the Government, through the Postmaster-General’s Department, should make a move to decentralize the amenities of life in Australia. I wish to make it clear, however, that I support the establishment of secondary industries in rural areas. In the town of Ouyen in my electorate, a telephone call to Melbourne costs 3s. 4d. When a primary producer desires to order a small duplicate part for an agricultural machine, a three-minute call costs him lis. 4d., and he may require an extension or two before the order can be satisfactorily placed, with the result that the call may cost 10s. If a person engaged in industry in a capital city needs to replace a machine part, the telephone call costs him only 2d., and for that fee he may use the telephone for as long a period as he wishes. People will settle, where the best conditions and amenities are provided. The only way in which to attract additional people to the land is to improve the living conditions in rural districts, particularly the postal facilities.
On the subject of postal facilities, I desire to mention one case which I have brought before the department previously in correspondence and by questions asked in this House. I should not mention it now had I been able to obtain satisfaction before, because it would not have been fair to the Minister. It concerns the Post Office at Marnoo, where the premises were adversely reported upon by the local Medical Officer, Dr. J. E. Thomas, as is shown in the following letter from him to the Stawell- Shire Council : -
The Marnoo post office was inspected with the shire health inspector. It was noted that the rear room at the back of the post office, size 10x12 approximately was used to accommodate a switchboard, and to provide sleeping accommodation for the male operator on night duty. In the daytime the switch isoperated by a female telephonist. The accommodation is far too small for the purpose,, the ceiling is too low, and there are no adequate sanitary conveniences for both sexes.
I am of opinion that the switchboard room, is too small and low for the purpose used,, that it is most undesirable that a small room, of this nature be used for sleeping accommodation at night, and that the sanitary accomodation is inadequate.
I strongly recommend that representations be made to the postal authorities to remedy this state of affairs.
I have myself made frequent representations along the same lines. The present Government goes under the name of a Labour Government, but it ill becomes such a Government to allow its employees to work, eat and sleep in a building which has been practically condemned.
– Why was the - matter not dealt with by previous governments when there were plenty of materials and labour?
– I hold no brief for past governments. We must deal with the position as it now exists, and try to remove this disability.
Primary producers bear a very heavy burden of taxation, but in spite of this a further burden has recently been laid upon thom. I refer to the contributory charge of 5 per cent, which has been levied on the gross receipts from the sale of wool. I have here the account sa.’les for 14 bales of wool sold through a reputable firm, the New Zealand Loan & Mercantile Agency Limited. The gross return for the wool was £343 17s. 10d., and out of that the Commonwealth Government has taken 5 per cent, in the form of a contributory charge amounting to £17 3s. lid.
– That was not taken by the Commonwealth Government, but by the Wool Realization Committee.
– I have been quoting from the sales account.
– The money goes into the funds of the Wool Realization Committee, and every penny will be used for the benefit of the wool industry.
– I have been reading from an official document, and it must be regarded as correct until it is proved wrong. This 5 per cent, levy is made on the gross return. It is charged on what is deducted for freight, agents commission, advertising and warehouse charges. If the Government is determined to fleece the wool growers, at least it should levy the charge on their net return.
– Does the agent charge only on the net return?
– He charges on the gross return. This levy amounts to a surcharge on the income of the producers, and I protest emphatically against it. They had no say in the imposition of the levy. Until recently, it was only 2s. a hale. We know that wool is now selling at very satisfactory prices. Government spokesmen have told ns that the Government was responsible for keeping up the prices of wool during the war, but we have seen that as soon as the restrictions were lifted prices rose by 50 per cent, to 100 per cent. Recently, the clip from a station in the western district of Victoria realized £50 a. bale, and of this the Government took £2 10s. for each bale, as compared with 2s. previously.
– The Government does not take anything.
– This is an illustration of what is done by those who are acting under Government authority - under a law passed by the Commonwealth Parliament. It is of no use for Ministers to try to sidestep the issue, however much they might like to do so. A levy of 2s. a bale was bad enough, but a levy of £2 10s. or £3 a bale is altogether too much. It is time that the primary producers were allowed to reap some benefit from increased prices, so that they might be able to put their industry on its feet again. During the war they were unable to keep their properties in order because of lack of materials and labour, so that they are now faced with great expense for accumulated maintenance. They cannot escape this expenditure if the industry is to continue supplying a muchneeded commodity, and if the national economy of Australia is to remain sound. I can understand that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture does not want me to refer to this ticklish subject. So far as the Government is concerned, the least said about it the better.
The Treasurer, in his budget speech, said that during the fifteen months which had elapsed since hostilities had ceased, Australia’s war organization had been in large part dismantled. It has certainly been dismantled, but it is competent for me to inquire in this budget debate about the manner in which the Government has disposed of the goods that were left over. An honorable member stated here to-day that only £2 10s. each had been obtained for motor ears that, had been sold subsequently for thirty times as much. Such results do not show efficiency or proper organization on the part of those who handle these matters. We are told that 520,000 men and women have been released from the services and that practically all of them, as well as many thousands of people formerly engaged in war industry, have found civil occupations. In arriving at those figures the Government concludes that unless an ex-serviceman has applied for unemployment relief he has been satisfactorily absorbed in industry. That is a wrong basis. Let us consider this matter in relation to some of the departments which are administering regulations that are hampering production. I have been struck by the number of ex-servicemen employed in some . government departments. The Government takes credit to itself for having given employment to these men, but a closer examination of the situation reveals that many of them are, in fact, only temporarily employed because they are attached not to permanent departments but are engaged in work of a more or less transitory nature. Such men are to be found, not in hundreds, but in thousands in government departments. If the departments in which they work are to be continued permanently, we shall have in this country a form of government previously unknown in the British Empire. On the other hand, if the departments are abolished, these ex-servicemen, whom the Government claims have been satisfactorily absorbed in industry, will be thrown on the labour market.
– There are 40,000 jobs awaiting ex-servicemen.
– The men employed in these departments are satisfied at the moment, but the time ia coming when the real rehabilitation of ex-servicemen will become a pressing problem. It is ridiculous to claim that a man has been re-absorbed into industry merely because be has not applied for unemployment relief.
There is something wrong in connexion with the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton) asked whether even one man had been settled on the land in Western Australia. His question could be applied also to Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia, and even the Northern Territory. Throughout Australia thousands of ex-servicemen are waiting for the Government to take action to settle them on the land. This is a matter which calls for urgent attention. The Department of Post-war Reconstruction, and other departments, are being maintained on their war-time footing because they are supposed to be engaged on the re-establishment in industry of members of the fighting forces. I believe1 that the Government has good intentions in this matter, but it seems to be following a policy of putting off the evil day. Instead of taking definite action it seems always to be waiting for something to turn up. Such haphazard methods can only result in chaos.
Another paragraph in the Treasurer’s budget speech reads -
Various commitments arising from the wai st nd its aftermath have still to be met. Some of these will be cleared up in a year or two. Others will continue from year to year far into the future, so that this generation will not see the end of them.
That is true, but there are other things besides -those mentioned by the right honorable gentleman which will continue from generation to generation. One honorable member, speaking in this chamber recently, said that we should get as far away from the war as possible. We cannot, and must not, attempt to escape from our obligations to the men and women who saved Australia. Among our obligations to them is the obligation to pay 3s. a day to the men who were prisoners of war in Japanese hands. During the period of their imprisonment, budgets covering Army expenditure were presented to this Parliament, and I assume that authority was given for the expenditure of money for feeding and clothing- men of the Eighth Division. The Government was: not called upon to feed and clothe those men while they were prisoners of war. It now has an obligation towards them. Their story is a grim one. There is no opposition in this House to recompense being made to these men. I know that many supporters of the Government favour action being taken, and that the people of Australia expect the right thing to be done.
– What sum of money is involved?
– I do not know, but it would be a considerable sum, probably £1,000,000. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) is interested in this subject, and I recall that he asked a similar question on an earlier occasion. I give to him now the same answer that I gave to him then, namely, that it is not so much a matter of the number of men or the sum involved, as of justice being done. The more men involved -the more urgent the case becomes because of the greater need. Commitments entered into in war-time have to be met in times of peace.
Another matter to which the Treasurer should have given attention when, drawing up the budget is the desirability of fostering the National Fitness campaign. In order to bring about greater productivity we should do everything to raise the standard of health of the community. Hand in hand with the national fitness campaign, there should be a programme for the betterment of our educational standards. Committees interested in the promotion of national fitness have been established throughout the country; their efforts to improve the physical standard of the community should, be recognized by the Commonwealth and State governments by the granting of larger sums for the promotion of the campaign. I have received a letter from one of my constituents which, in part, reads as follows : -
As president of the National Fitness Committee, I desire to draw your attention to the need for increased support by both Federal and State governments to meet the demand? of the ever-increasing, expanding and very desirable work of national fitness committees.
The writer goes an to outline the work clone by these committees and. urges that the Government be asked to take a greater interest in their important work. The raising bf the standard of health of the people, through the medium of the National Fitness Council, would achieve much in bringing about harmony among the people and will, I. trust, be given further consideration by the Government in the not distant future. The Leader of the Opposition has: said that the establishment of prosperity would solve tha problem of- industrial unrest. It. would appear that the right honorable gentleman had in mind a Utopian state of affaire conjured up by the Prime Minister’s hope that the golden age was being ushered in. It: was also said that prosperity would bring about good feelings between employers, and employees. That, of course, would depend upon the degree of. prosperity afforded to each, individual member of the community. One has only to recall Aesop’s, fable of the monkey and the cheese to foresee the disastrous effects of any proposal which did not have for i its abject the equitable distribution of the national wealth. Under the. present system, employers, employees and the Government, share- in the. proceeds of production,, but the Government, like the monkey in. the fable, takes another share from both employer and employee, until finally it receives practically the whole of the proceeds. The morals in the fables are truths that have stood the test of the age3. If an employer gets a fair return for his investment, and the employee is paid a fail- wage, all is well; but if the Government steps in and takes- too much from both, production becomes stagnant-
One of the features of the budget is the proposed reduction of the petrol tax by Id. a gallon. This -trifling reduction is of no practical value to> the average car owner. A motorist who uses 50 gallons a week, which is considerably more than the private user’s allowance, will save only 4s. 2d. a week by this concession. My concern-,. however, is not so much about a reduction of the petrol tax as about the utilization of the proceeds of the tax. When- the petrol tax was- imposed in the first instance it was intended that the proceeds be utilized for the- maintenance and extension of roads, chiefly those in country areas, as> a means of fostering the opening up of new areas for cultivation of the products that this country and the world need so much to-day. But what has happened? The greater the yield from the petrol tax, the more money goes into the Consolidated Revenue of the Commonwealth or to the revenues of the States for use for purposes other than that for which the tax was levied. The proceeds of the tax should be made available to shire councils and roads boards to enable them to keep their roads in good repair, and to municipal authorities- for the repair and maintenance of roads in country towns which, in this modern age, are used almost exclusively by motorists.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Mk. TURNBULL.- I. turn now to the reduction, of taxes generally. Every one agrees^ that the greatest need of Australia at present is greater production, not- only to stabilize o.ur own economy, but also to maintain a standard, of living: wich will enable us to hold our position as a. great primary producing unit of the British Empire. We- must be able to supply the food-stuffs which the United Kingdom so urgently needs at present. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has said that the key- to- reduction of taxes is production ; but everybody else knows the reverse is the case - that tax reduction is the key to production. Apparently, the PrimeMinister expects individuals- to increase production under their present heavy burden of taxation; and when they have- produced more to come back to him and say, “,Sire, we have produced more; will you now relieve us of this great burden of tax?” And thePrime Minister will reply, “ You have done a fairly good job, I will make another little reduction “. The fact of thematter is the people expect the Government to give a lead in issues of such vital national importance. If we cannot expect the Government to give a lead, to whom can the people look? That is the question which is agitating- their minds to-day. Every one agrees that reduction of taxes will give an incentive to increase production. Why cannot the Government effect further reductions of taxes? It says that the expense of running the country is abnormally high immediately following the war, and therefore, it cannot reduce taxes further. Obviously, the Government is not sincere in that contention because it is now embarking upon new fields of expenditure. We have little hope of obtaining further reduction of taxes while the Government continues to increase its expenditure. I have in mind particularly its proposal to expend millions of pounds on the standardization of railway gauges. The legislation to give effect to that proposal was passed in the dying hours of the last Parliament. That project is entirely unnecessary at present. The Government advocates it mainly as a defence measure, but in view of scientific defence developments that claim cannot be justified. The advent of the atomic bomb makes such a project obsolete as :a means of improving our defences. When I was serving with the forces in Malaya, the Japanese blasted with only small bombs the railway from Bukit Tim ah to Kuala Lumpur. In view of the destructiveness of small bombs, one can imagine what would be the fate of railways subject to .bombing with atomic bombs. Again, the Government plans to undertake new expenditure on the provision of an independent news service for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. That, service -is being established smiply because certain members want the news collected and presented in a way most suitable to the Government. That service will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, hut it will be superfluous. In these circumstances, it. is no wonder the Government says it cannot reduce taxes further. Lt is also continuing expenditure in respect of departments which are charged with the administration of various controls to which the Government still clings. Can any one offer a legitimate reason why the Department of Information, for instance, should be kept in existence. The claim for the retention of that department cannot be substantiated. We are told that an agreement has been entered into with the United Kingdom Government for the abolition of double taxation.
In Melbourne the other day Mr. Cyril Ritchards, when he heard of this development, said “ Hooray for Mr. Chifley “. However, it has since been stated that the new arrangement may not benefit visiting actors. If the Government were sincere, it could immediately effect further reductions of taxes. I do not object to the proposed reduction of indirect taxes. Indeed, I support the proposals announced in the budget in that respect, because indirect taxes are weighing heavily upon the general community. Perhaps I can best sum up their effect by relating a conversation I had with a gentleman recently. He said to me, “ Every time I take a cigarette out of my pocket I see Mr. Chifley taking two cigarettes from mo. Whenever I line up at a bar for a drink, I see the Prime Minister beside me and he has a couple at my expense. Every time, I drive my car 100 miles and put it back in the garage, I know that Mr. Chifley, metaphorically speaking, unlocks the door and drives the car twice as far as I did “. That is the effect of indirect taxes. By reducing them the Government will increase the purchasing power of the community. Instead of embarking upon new expenditure, the Government should reduce direct and indirect taxes to the greatest possible degree in order to increase production and maintain the standard of living which we have enjoyed in the past. Supporters of all political parties are crying out for tax relief. They are advocating provision of adequate housing accommodation. The uni versify college at Mildura may be jeopardized because housing accommodation cannot be found locally for the professorial and tutorial staffs. The shortage of homes is the greatest problem confronting the country at present. We cannot hope to establish goodwill between employer and employee unless the employees are adequately housed and given domestic stability. To-day, however, thousands of employees are pushed about the country and live constantly under the fear of eviction. Under such conditions we cannot build up a contented Australian community; we must expect only industrial and social unrest. If we have money to expend after that, let us use it for the conservation of water. We must build dams and weirs to irrigate the dry lands, which are capable of growing a variety of produce, if given water. We must construct pipe lines so as to prevent the loss of water through seepage and evaporation. An increase of our productivity will help us to develop on a firm national economic basis, and make Australia the finest primary producing country in the world.
I believe that the Government is paying too much attention to placing more men in factories, and is almost disregarding the necessity to place more men on the land. We must decentralize our population and induce people to engage in primary production. Honorable members will recall the words, “ One ship goes east, one ship goes west. It is the set of the sail, not the gale that determines the course they ‘take “. This Government has set the sail. Its policy is one of centralization. It is building up departments which administer restrictions. Its short-sighted policy burdens the people with heavy taxes. If taxes were decreased, our purchasing power would increase. Our main policy should be to build more homes for the people, and engage in big water conservation and irrigation projects. If the Government will adopt that policy, it will play its part in what I hope will be the building of the greatest nation in the world. Only by reducing taxes shall we give to people the opportunity to increase production, and, by increasing production, bring prosperity permanently to Australia.
.- References which have been made during the debate to migration have caused me to wonder whether we are not making a blunder in relation to this vital problem. To my mind, migration is tied up almost completely with the reconstruction of this country, and its future development. Lt does seem a pity that honorable members on both sides of the chamber, blown by the winds of chance, influenced by rumour, and by any report that is published in the press, believe that we should adopt a certain policy in relation ‘to migration. I know that we have a good plan for migration. I know also that time is the factor that we are hoping to defeat, so that our migration plan shall be implemented. But there is sometimes a sentimental approach in relation to migration - one that is canvassed too freely and too often - and that ‘is in regard to child migration. Some people appear to think in this way: “ Here is a jolly good thing that we can do. We can bring all these children from starving, war-torn Europe to Australia and do something for them”. I plead with honorable members to consider this matter from the standpoint of the future that will await these people in Australia. Prom my own observations and investigations, my own experience and my own deepest convictions, I am convinced that there is a myth called child migration. There is a sentimental approach to what should be a problem of State, which ties this thing up in quite the wrong language and in the wrong atmosphere. To begin with, the recent investigations made in Europe in relation to child migration reveal that no country wishes to part with its children.
– Why then, has the Government asked for £65,000 to bring children to Australia?
– If the honorable member will listen, I shall explain it to him. Incidentally the amount was much more than £65,000. It is said that we can bring children willy - nilly from any part of Europe, thinking in our sentimentality that, first of all, they want to come here; secondly, that their governments will part with them cheerfully; and, thirdly, that when we get them here, we will turn them into Australians who will be able to earn a living in this country.
– The Fairbridge Farm School was a great success.
– It is indeed a fine system. That is the point which I am trying to make. Any government as an angel of mercy in relation to moving people from devastated areas, particularly the young, is not the best medium. The job can be done better by welfare organizations and religious groups which have done so well in the past. From my own personal experience, I know that other countries dislike the Australian attitude towards migration - the attitude that we are able to take children from overseas, and care for them in the belief that their own countries do not want them.
Quite .apart from that, we have to1 study the economics of this scheme ; what it would cost the nation to make a .child migrant a ‘good Australian and an economic factor in the community. An interdepartmental report on this matter, issued about eighteen ‘months or ‘two years ago, stated that the setting up of institutions and ‘the organization for bringing child migrants to this country, would cost, in the .aggregate, about £70,000,000. This country is screaming for technicians and man-power to help us to keep up our waraccelerated industries. Child ‘migration means cheap ‘ migrants, or ‘getting migrants on the cheap. The family is the best migration unit. We should look at migration soundly and firmly, and ask ourselves, “ Are there any people in need of our ‘help ? Are these children in need of removal to Australia ? Are ‘the governments concerned prepared to help ‘us?” The answer inmost cases, so far as Great Britain, France, Holland and certain other countries are concerned, is “ No “. They prefer to look after those children, [f honorable members will look into the whirlpool of central Europe, they will find thousands, perhaps millions of children who could be brought to Australia. But if we were to bring them here, we might import complications that .might be. highly dangerous to the children themselves. The .honorable member for Hunter (.Mt. James) stated - and. I pay .great ‘tribute to his compassion and humanity - that we .should bring to .Australia German children. He contended that we should’ not rest on the young Shoulders of the children the misdeeds of their parents during ‘World ‘War TI., and that, after all, wars come and igo, and the children are invariably the victims of conflict. He suggested that in any migration scheme, we should consider bringing young Germans to Australia. .But I remind honorable members that there is a more clamant call in Europe than that of .the young Germans. In Norway there arc 9,000 children who -are the victims .of German aggression - the .sons and daughters of German soldiers .and Norwegian girls who are ostracized by their own country. They are housed and well cared for, and the ordi- nary facilities of life are available to them, but there is no friendship or kindness;given to these children of this strange mesalliance of war. Strange ‘and understandable ! There are 9,00.0 of those children who are unwanted, .and who could be .brought to. Australia, or, for that matter, to any other country. They are the pathetic examples of the lost children of Europe. It may be a ;job for the Immigration Committee of the United Nations, or the joint responsibility of the United Nations itself, .to see what shall .be the ultimate destination o’f these children. If the religious .institutions and welfare .organizations are interested in ‘child migration, I remind them that there are these 9,000 unwanted children in Norway to whom they could extend their ;hands of mercy. Because of their tragic history these children would have to be rendered anonymous. Their early life could be blotted out in the land of “Begin Again “. That would be very simple, easy and a. worthy way -of trying an experiment in relation to children -who are not wanted in Europe.
Our approach ‘to the problem of child migration should not be by way .of delegations in Europe who annoy Mar.low governments by asking them -whether they have -nary children who «ve war victims and whom Australia might ‘have. We put ‘the children in an institution for a number of years, and promise them some kind of job. That is all we have to offer the child migrant. Therefore, in any discussions in relation to -bringing children to this country, we should keep as close to the facts as passible. We should not create ill-feeling in those countries in which we seek these young children by our superior air.
In reply to .an earlier interjection by the honorable member for Balaclava (.Mr. White), I say that the Fairbridge Ear.m Scheme is a very worthy one. I am sure that -that .kind of school, and .thatkind of organization can absorb in this country, all the youthful migrants that are willing to come here. All. I am doing now is to .issue a warning, from personal experience, that we should .not feel that we -have to lift the flotsam .and jetsam - I say that in the kindest way - of Juveniles in Europe, bring them to Australia, put them in an institution and leave them there to work their way slowly into the economy of this country. But there are skilled and experienced organizations which do understand the problems, and who have experts in child welfare, and in handling the youngsters whom we are decanting from one nation to another and whom we are changing from Europeans into Australians. If we help them by making voluntary grants and assisting their training schemes, we shall do a very good job for the unwanted children of Europe. But any scheme based on sentimentality and a lack of appreciation of the true .state of affairs in relation to child immigration will have my complete opposition. Another point relates to the granting of preference to migrants. Those aliens who have arrived in Australia were admitted as the result of a decision by the Minister for Immigration, (Mr. Calwell) whose politics on this occasion was lit by nobility. He permitted the entry from Europe, which had been in the iron grip of the Nazis, certain elderly people with relatives here. If that be a sin or a crime, I still applaud the Minister for having the human dignity to see these people as suffering victims of aggression and not
As so many refugees. Under the Government’s scheme, true preference in immigration is givn to British ex-service men and women who wish to come to this country. In some instances, 1 consider that preference should be extended to experienced civilian technicians, because such men are not often to be found in the ranks of exservicemen who have served in the forces for six or seven years. In any event, we may have to train our service migrants. Experience has shown the need for such migrants in the past, and we shall find that we need such men in the future. “When ships begin to sail for this country, they will carry people of British stock, as the Minister has announced. Our immigration scheme will be truly empire, in the sense that it ‘ will give preference to British people who ha.vc decided to take a chance in Australia. There will be a liaison system providing for their welfare. Not only will the Commonwealth Government support their efforts to earn a living in this country, but also their home government will watch their interests. They will not be pushed out from their homeland as unwanted people whose government will watch their progress from afar. Under such a system, men who come here to seek adventure but are disillusioned by finding only hard work and boredom can be returned to their own country. All the agreements made hy the Commonwealth Government in relation to immigration include a proviso that there shall be close liaison between the governments concerned. The immigrants will be watched from the time of their arrival, their aptitudes can be tested, and their opportunities can be broadened. The Commonwealth Government will act as a godfather to them, but their home government will continue to keep a watchful eye on their welfare. This is implicit in the agreement concluded with the Dutch Government, and similar agreements will be made with Scandinavian countries and any other countries which are prepared to consider migration on a fairly extensive scale. The idea of initiating a scheme of child migration is highly praiseworthy, but it would be difficult to carry out such a scheme soundly and economically. We should not look at the problem in the confusing light of sentimentality. Any mass movement of young people from Germany, or any other European country, or even from Great Britain if young people could be spared by that country, would be very dangerous unless we had a much better plan than we can envisage at present. The objection to such a scheme is that the children would be institutionalized for too long, that the necessary institutions would cost more than £70,000,000, and that it would be a long-range attempt to get citizens by putting them through the incubator of institutional schools, with their inevitable regimentation. The history of this sort of thing has proved that there is always a great deal of wastage. Orphanages and other such institutions always produce a percentage of really worthy citizens, but there is a tremendous leakage in the system. The reasonable procedure is to leave child migration to organizations which understand its problems, and to subsidize those institutions more than is done at present go that eventually they will be able to send worthwhile migrants to this country. I have ventured to make these remarks because the future of our immigration scheme is closely linked with the future of the Australian worker. Immigration is linked with the development of the nation. To be completely honest about the matter, it would not matter a “ tinker’s dam “ if we did not bring any more migrants to this country at present. Three years ago, when war service and man-power demands were urgent, it was essential for the nation to have a greater population. Now, however, it might suit us to wait ten years in order to see the trend of the drift of population. However, the Government has decided not to wait, and immigration has become a part of the policy to which it is committed. With that I agree. I hope that immigrants will live with us on the fertile rim of the continent, that we will not send them to the dry heart of Australia and say, “Here is your chance to prove the truth of what the novelists have said about the interior - that it will blossom like the rose “. Before the dry inland area of Australia can “blossom like the rose “ we must provide water to irrigate it. In any case, we need immigrants to supplement the dwindling man-power resources in the densely populated coastal regions with its high industrial expansion. Any other proposition would be dangerous and unfair to the immigrants. This fact should be stressed in any discussions about immigration, particularly the immigration of British ex-servicemen.
I was interested to hear the references made by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) to the reestablishment of ex-servicemen. The honorable gentleman repeated a plea, which he has made on many other occasions, for the payment of certain allowances to men taken as prisoners of war by the Japanese at Singapore. If there were complete honesty on the part of any government in relation to the re-establishment of exservicemen, and if there were complete sincerity on the part of the people of Australia, that money for which the honorable member pleaded would be forthcoming immediately. However, under the system under which we live, there is a limit to the supply of money. Although I am sure that the newspapers to-morrow morning will applaud the honorable member for his high-minded appeal, no doubt they will also publish editorial articles complaining that Australians are overtaxed. That gives rise to the proposition : What can we really do for the re-establishment of ex-servicemen without creating in their minds the belief that we are just “kidding them along”. After a war, there is a change of heart. The first queues of unemployed men are formed by the ex-servicemen who have been cut ‘off from industry. That has been so from time immemorial. So long as our present capitalistic system exists there will be limitations on what we can do for the ex-servicemen. It is all very well to make valiant promises, but those who make them must know that we are sadly limited as to what we can do. I should like to see provision made in the budget for the £2,000,000 which would be needed to pay the subsistence allowances to ex-prisoners of war as the honorable member for Wimmera has advocated, but probably we shall never be able to make provision for that expenditure, because already there are demands on the nation’s resources which the Government is unable to satisfy. Considering the hazards that face the men who are discharged from the services and try to bed themselves down into our national economy, the Government’s overall programme of rehabilitation has been worthwhile and effective. The path of reestablishment is beset with pitfalls and sources of irritation. New departments have to be created to deal with new problems, and there must be a cancel ling-out process as the programme develops. However, the spirit of rehabilitation is the thing that matters, and the spirit of this Government in dealing with the reestablishment of ex-service men and women is praiseworthy. It is a thoroughly Australian spirit dedicated to the proposition that the Government will go as far as its financial resources will permit. In spite of the Government’s efforts, some organizations of ex-servicemen continually snipe at it. They criticize this or that irregularity and condemn the Government because this problem or that problem has not been properly ironed out. Nevertheless, a good overall job has been done in relation to re-establishment. Many problems confront the young trainees under the Government’s re-establishment training scheme. For instance, there is the question whether allowances paid to trainees should or should not be greater. A man, having served for three, four, or five years, or to the limit of his capacity, and having given the formative, the important years of his life to the army or any other arm of the services, wants to improve his standard when he returns to civil life. Having become a university student or a technician, he finds that he is paid a fee which is not in conformity with what he should be getting at his age. So you have the problem of these men who are undergoing rehabilitation courses complaining bitterly, in some instances with justice, that there is not enough in it, and in despair giving it up, or using the pressure system we know so well and writing to their federal members. Under the system under which we live, there is a limit to the amount of money that can be expended on rehabilitation. Up to that limit we have done a tremendously good job for the ex-servicemen. “Who is going to be honest and say where we can stop? Are the people of this country going to be honest and say, “ Take a little more in taxes, and give the servicemen a greater chance of rehabilitation”. But this would not be done. The matter has reached a state of complete cynicism, in which some sections of the press, some members of the public misguidedly, and the Government have become engaged in a tug-of-war. The Government is in the unassailable position of being prepared to do anything if the people can stand the racket financially. That is the whole question that is involved in the proposal of the honorable member for Wimmera for an expenditure of £2,000,000 on the unfortunate men who were prisoners of war in Malaya. That is the whole question which is involved in relation to the financial aspect of the rehabilitation of exservicemen, and in the extension of their courses so that they will not be inclined to cease their efforts because there is no opening at the moment for them to be trained in the things that are nearest to their heart’s desire. We cannot do that, because of limited finance, and any criticism to the contrary would burk the fact and would not be honest or in the best interests of the ex-serviceman. Rehabilitation is a major problem. The Government has done a very fine job, with the reservation that if money were unlimited so, too, would the provision for rehabilitation be unlimited. We face up finally to this proposition - it may sound an aphorism; it may even sound phoney but it is perfectly true - that no payment could be too high for the men and women who offered their services for the defence of this country. Immediately after a war we get the same philosophy in the minds of the people. I have distinct recollections of members of the Opposition saying, in relation to finance, “ Of course, that was war finance. In peace-time you cannot do those things “. I am afraid there is a parallel thought in the minds of the people generally that any price can be paid while men are fighting for us, but when the matter has been resolved and we are talking about peace the object should be to get the cheapest terms possible. That, unfortunately, is the answer to my friend opposite, who seeks consideration for men who are entitled to the very best that we can give to them.
Having dealt with field allowances, and rather loosely, with the matter of rehabilitation, the next subject with which I want to deal is that of the budget generally, and prices particularly. Despite all the blather in the press, and all the misinformed criticism, I consider that this is not only a good, but also a masterly budget. The man behind it, the Prime Minister and Treasurer of this country, has the courage of his convictions, inasmuch as he has not decorated his speech with rosy garlands, but has told us, in effect, that it is very much harder to plunge a nation back into peace than to plunge it into war. Having had six years of the w el tei1 of slaughter and the spending of money, irrespective of consequences - so long as it was needed it was spent, and sometimes there was not a complete check on the expenditure because of the urgency of the proposition - there must be a day of reckoning. After our “ lost week ends “ in the realms of war we come to the sober Monday morning, and there is- some cleaning up to be done. The head of this country has approached the matter in a most realistic manner. There are two schools of thought as to the means that should be used for getting out of the muddle-. There are the escapists who want to get away quickly by a sudden rise of wages and a sudden reduction of taxes. Then there are the other people who know that there is only one way, that of blood, sweat and tears. It is hard to have to face up to that proposition after six years of waa-, but there is no rosy or easy way out. The Government’s propositions have been announced very clearly. There .are certain things which could be done to help the scheme along; but I am completely and utterly “sold” on the principle that one can-not have one’s cake and eat it. “We have- had the holocaust of war and have committed this country to an expenditure of millions of pounds which was undreamt of in peace-time. This country was- plunged into war. But there is no genius in the- world who can plunge us back into peace; we have to be dragged back by the ears. The finances of peace are naturally prosaic and limited. If the budget sounds prosaic and limited, that is because it is a very good pattern of the way in which we must live in the future. I have no wish to discuss the philosophy of budgetmaking and breaking, nor the question of hours and wages, which are being decided in various ways in other places But 1 d’o wish to say that there are certain helps along the road which we may consider. One of the things which alarms me in relation to living to-day is the universal approval with which pricecontrol is received. It is stated on all hands to have been miraculous. Perhaps it has been very good compared with other countries, and is one of the best jobs that we have done. But let us look at the matter logically and clearly, and find out the reason why price-fixing has worked so well that our £1, the money that we have in our pockets, or, in the American description, the “take-home” money is real and is not inflated. In the circum- stances, a really god job has been done. But there were certain factors in favour of price-fixing in this country. For example, this is a primaryproducing country, and the commodities, the prices of which may cause inflation, have been in reasonably good supply. There have been short supplies of various articles; but during the war, despite the tremendous strain imposed by the demands of the fighting forces, we had considerable quantities of those products, the absence of which would have caused careering inflation.
– Did the honorable member say that the £1 has not depreciated in value?
– I say that the £1 today is real money in comparison with money overseas - in America, France and other places. I maintain that, to the worker, because of price-fixation and other factors, the £1 has real value. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) laughs. I do not know whether he has any knowledge of currency matters. If he listens for a little while he may become enlightened. Does he suggest that there is no value in the Australian £1?
– I am not suggesting anything.
– Some prices have escaped from fixation. There are some commodities which cannot be adequately policed. It is a curious coincidence that the commodities which can escape are those with which the housekeeper is very urgently concerned. Take, for example, the fluctuating prices of vegetables. J have made personal investigations in my electorate, and know that the. price of ls. 6d. a -bunch which is charged for carrots and parsnips is out of all proportion to the price which the producer receives.
An Opposition Member. - Has the honorable member ever tried to grow them ?
– If I thought that the producer was getting anything near ls. 6d. a bunch I would say, “Good luck” to him. But there is a great army of middle-men, all of whom are getting something out of that bunch of carrots before it reaches the consumer. I have been asked whether I would like to grow carrots at. ls. 6d. a bunch. I do not know anything about growing carrots: but I do know that ls. 6d. a bunch is too high a price for people who are on pegged wages, and that something should be done to control the price of carrots as well as other vegetables. The other feeling- of frustration that I have had about price fixation as a general help to the worker in. keeping his wages in the category of real money is that fixations are made either too early or too late. Consider the case of retail butchers selling meat to the public. A period of scarcity arrives. I am reliably informed that such a scarcity requires a lift of prices. But before the price can be fixed by the slow machinery of price fixation, a glut is approaching. Towards the end of a period of scarcity new prices take effect. To-day people in Sydney are paying ls. 8d. a lb. for mediocre lamb chops, which the butcher tells them is far too high a price because of the plenitude of that class of meat. The machinery of price fixation is sound, hut its movement is too slow. If the workers’ wages are to represent real money, price fixation must be sufficiently flexible to enable prices to be varied from day to day. This is an important matter, because 1 feel convinced that the family on the basic wage is approaching a period ot bad. times. In the shops, nowadays, the people are counting, their change and watching their purchases. The old “ easy come, easy go” attitude has gone; they are feeling the pinch. It would be tragic if we are approaching the edge of another depression without the people in the lower-wage groups having had an opportunity to enjoy a period of good times as a result of the easy money earned during the war period. With the pegging of prices and the disappearance of overtime, the average man on the basic wage, or in receipt of a wage a little better than that, is becoming rather worried about his prospects. I think the solution is to be found in the budget proposals. The Government desires to assist him to improve his financial position, and at the same time to maintain the purchasing, power, of his wages. These proposals should not be over-advertised as a miraculous cure-all. They are sane and sensible, but have the defect of slowness.
It should be remembered that there are many loopholes by means of which price control can be evaded. If we have an iron clamp on prices and obtain amelioration of the conditions of the workers as a result of removal to some degree of indirect taxes, we shall have an economic set-up under which progress will be possible; but the system of price fixation is not perfect. A valuable holding job has been done, and it is now necessary to take strong action against black marketeers. It seems to me that the price- fixing authorities should do something dramatic immediately in connexion with the sale of motor vehicles and their purchase by the general public, particularly ex-servicemen. In any newspaper we read advertisements to the effect that motor cars and utility trucks are offered for sale at stated prices, but they arc not sold at those prices. Is there not some method by which the Government could enforce their sale at the advertised prices? Only yesterday I was informed by an ex-serviceman that he tried to purchase a utility truck at the price at which it was offered for sale by a reputable firm. He was accompanied by his wife, and when the salesman asked, “ Is the lady buying this truck?” the exserviceman replied, “ No, I am “. The salesman then said, “I .am asking for a loading of £200 “. The would-be purchaser said that he did not believe in the black market, and in any case he did not have the amount of money asked to spend on a truck. It was soon made clear to him that if he was not prepared to pay the extra money there could be no business. Even well-established firms have decided to defeat the law and prey upon the people by creating a huge black market in motor vehicles. I urge that the machinery of the law should be set in motion forthwith, so that citizens and ex-servicemen in need of motor vehicles should not be victimized to the tune of £200. Many of them will have to spend their leave and gratuity money, or the savings of their wives while they were on active service, in order to purchase conveyances with which to carry on business. If this evil prevailed only to u slight degree it could be overlooked, but it is a crushing racket which is seriously affecting the business community. If people are allowed to continue extracting black .market tribute by this means in respect of motor vehicles, the racket will extend to many other commodities in short supply, and we shall soon have a greater black-market than that prevailing during the war period. For the sake of the citizens I point out that there is an urgent task awaiting the Government and the price-fixing ‘authorities in dealing with this evil.
– The pegging of prices also affects the people.
– There is no reason why firms should, by means of advertisements in the newspapers, set out to rob the public.
– How can it be prevented?
– I do not know, but I think the evil could be overcome gradually by arousing the public conscience. Racketeering should not be tolerated. The people concerned should have the moral courage to report offences of this kind, and the public should cooperate in the matter. Most of the blackmarketing could be eliminated if the people would tell the authorities as much as they know of the doings of the racketeers. There should be a real awakening of the moral conscience of the community.
I.n conclusion, I should like to touch on a noteworthy development which has occurred in New South Wales with respect to cultural activities, inasmuch as a salary of £5,000 a year is to be paid to the Director of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. That is a good sign. This shows that we are not content to neglect entirely the better things of life. In the press recently there was comment on the fact that research workers with medical or science degrees were offered only £6 or £7 a week while tradesmen were able to earn £10 or £12 a week. We ought to encourage sanity among the people. Theatrical people, musicians, artists and others have a place in the community and if we wish to maintain our cultural standards we must be prepared to pay salaries commensurate with the services rendered. We must look to our standards.
Exception has properly been taken to the type of films shown to children at picture theatres on Saturday afternoons. These films are only suitable for adults. The comic strips from overseas are an insult to the intelligence of Australians and indicate that the artists who drew them could learn a great deal from the Australian artists who have been forced to stand aside without a job. I hope that in the years to come we shall move towards the objective which I discussed in the first speech which I made in this House, namely, the development of a national theatre in Australia. Without it, we shall have no forcing house for ideals and culture. If we remain content to buy our culture in tins, or have it syndicated for us at so much a yard, then God help the country ! Having placed the economy of Australia on a sound footing, we must proceed to foster and develop its culture. There is plenty to write about - what our pioneers have done, what our research workers have accomplished, and what our explorers achieved - in other words, what Australiana means. We could sell such material readily, almost as readily as we can sell our wool. I hope that the work which has been begun in New South Wales for the establishment of a musical standard will be extended throughout the Commonwealth, and that within a short period a practical plan will have been evolved for the establishment of a national theatre.
Mr. ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) f S.52J . - One would have thought that a government, having achieved such a victory at the polls as this one did, would have decided to take the public into its confidence regarding the actual financial position of the Commonwealth and its intentions for the future. However, we can search in vain the budget and thE Estimates for anything that might indicate the economic and financial policy of the Government. The first test of a budget is whether it has been sincerely presented, whether the figures are accurate and understandable. The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) has had incorporated in Hansard certain summaries of expenditure which show a total of £404,000,000, as compared with £390,000,000 for last year. War expenditure for this year is shown at £162,000,000, as compared with £224,000,000 last year. The Treasurer explained that war expenditure last year was actually £377,000,000, of which £152,000,000 was from loans. Although lt is more than twelve months since the war ended, estimated expenditure this financial year for defence and post-war charges in respect of war is £221,000,000. These figures must he considered in relation to those which the honorable member for Daley (Mr. Rosevear) and I, were accustomed to discuss from our respective places in this House before the war, I from the other side of the chamber, and the honorable member from the “ Lang “ benches on this side. In 1934, when the honorable member and I first entered this House, and we entered it on the same day, total Commonwealth expenditure for twelve months was about £S0,000,000. Just before the outbreak of World War I., the Government of which I was a member was fiercely attacked by the honorable member and his friends because expenditure had reached the unheard of total of nearly £100,000,000, and in his opinion and that of his colleagues, the most infamous part of this expenditure was that devoted to defence. Now, having concluded a victorious war, and having demobilized, as the Treasurer pointed out, 520,000 servicemen, the Government tells the Australian taxpayers that the minimum amount which can be spent on defence and post-war charges is £221,000,000, or more than twice as much as the total Commonwealth expenditure for the year 1938-39. The budget figures should receive a more minute examination than has been given thom by the Treasurer, or is likely to be given by any Minister who will speak in this debate. As a matter of fact, I very much doubt whether any other Minister will rise to speak on the budget before the Treasurer replies.
It stands to reason that with government expenditure so high the whole internal economy of Australia must have undergone a complete change. This is the result partly of the increase of the public debt, partly of the increased note issue, and partly of the huge increases of deposits in the trading banks, the savings banks, and that celestial institution, the Commonwealth Bank. The purchasing power of the Australian £1 must now be only a fraction of what it was in 1939. However, there is not in the budget speech or in any of the budget papers the slightest indication of the Government’s intention regarding the basic problem - the achievement of a measure of equilibrium between expenditure and income. I have studied this delightful document about the national income, which seems to me to be about as clear as a fog on a moonless night. With the reduction of the value of the £1 there must be a reduction also of the value of wages, interest, pensions, and incomes. At the same time, there has been a heavy increase of national commitments in respect of debts, defence, and social services - a subject on which I speak with some feeling, having been the only one proved by the electorate to have been only just wrong at the last election. I am intrigued to know from what source the “ No “ vote originated, but although it would be perfectly legitimate to discuss the matter during a budget debate, I do not propose to do so now. Even before the beginning of the recent election campaign, the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) said that income tax assessments had not been issued by the department in respect of £50,000,000 of taxes.
– And that £42,000,000, in respect of assessments which had been issued, remained uncollected.
– I have seen press statements which support the right honorable member’s statement. Taxpayers in my own electorate have told me that they have not received an assessment from the department for three years. The Income Tax Act should be amended to make it obligatory upon the Commissioner for Taxation to collect all taxes due each year, whether by- individuals or by companies. On the revenue side of the account there is no indication whatever that the Commonwealth Government has received from the United Kingdom Government a sum of about £4,000,000 as a subsidy on dairy exports. This is shown on another page of the Estimates. There, according to the figures given, the dairying industry last year received a subsidy of over £6,000,000. This year it is to receive only about £2,000,000. That is not strictly correct, and I am astonished that the Treasurer, or his officers, have not had regard to section81 of the Constitution, which provides that all moneys or revenues received by the Commonwealth shall be paid into Consolidated Revenue. I assume that the money has been paid into Consolidated Revenue, and, therefore, it is only right to expect that the sum of about £4,000,000 paid by the United Kingdom Government in respect of dairy exports in time of war would appear as a separate item on the revenue side of the account. It appears on page 109, in division 198, as follows: -
In the column that matters the sum shown is . £2,250,000. Any one would think that the United Kingdom Government was indebted to the Commonwealth Government and that only by a great effort was the money obtained. That is not a correct disclosure of the position in respect of the Government’s income or expenditure. The item requires explanation.
I said that I would deal with the subject of taxation, and I shall do so now. Unless the views of some honorable members opposite have altered, I have no doubt that before the debate proceeds very far we shall hear something of the wickedness of capitalists, and how they drain the pockets of the poor in order to pay enormous dividends to their shareholders. Every honorable member has been supplied with a copy of the report of Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. It is well to remember that of that company’s paid-up capital of £850,000, £1 more than one-half is Commonwealth Government money.
-Why does not the honorable member bring forward something new? He spoke on this subject last week.
– I did not then have certain information which
I have now. I have heard it argued that one of the most wicked things about the capitalist is that he used his profits, not to pay dividends, but to expand his business. According to the balance-sheet of Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, the profits of this government-controlled business are not less than £600,000 under one heading, whilst under the heading “ General Reserve “ there is another £100,000, which I expect comes from the same source. That means that a total of £700,000 of the company’s profits has been reinvested in the business. The insurance reserve, which also comes out of profits, represents another £118,647. What the next balance-sheet will reveal is, at the moment, a matter for conjecture. My guess is as good as that of the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini). The point is that the total profits made by this governmentcontrolled company, which has capital of £850,000, amounted to £986,995 for the last financial year. That is a profit of more than 100 per cent. What ought we to be hearing from honorable members opposite? I remind them that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has never exceeded that record, yet it was threatened with nationalization by a former deputy Prime Minister until he became a Minister of State, when he forgot all about it. Let us see how this profit is divided .First, I notice that £72,800 is to be set aside to meet depreciation of assets. That appears to be a reasonable provision. Next I notice £690,000 as provision for taxation. The net profit for the year is shown as only £224,195, or approximately 5s. in the £1 on the subscribed capital. Out of that sum these poor fellows managed to pay a dividend of 12 per cent. to the socialist group who would not soil their dainty fingers by touching anything contaminated by capitalist wickedness. According to this balance-sheet, this is the second year in succession in which that has been done. I should imagine that the petrol consumers of Australia, who were given the benefit of a reduction of1d. a gallon on petrol last Monday, will be interested in these figures. They will ask, as indeed I ask, wha t the retail price of petrol would be if the profits of this government-controlled company were in keeping with the Government’s professed financial policy.
– That is chicken’s feed compared with the profits of the major oil companies.
– I have strong reasons for believing that the profits of the private oil companies are somewhat similar to those of this governmentcontrolled company. It is time that there was another investigation of the profits of the oil companies.
Let us now look at the other side of the account. In 1945 the assets of the company were assessed at £271,000 ; to-day their value is set down at £345,000. There is not a great deal of information, but in each case those amounts are less depreciation. The total assests of the company, this Government controlled and half Government-owned company, which has not been in existence for such a long time, rose in value from an initial amount of £850,000 to £3,028,000 last year, but this year’ their value has risen to £4,163,000. So that in a period of twelve mouths on the company’s own showing its assets have increased in value by more than £1,000,000 or a greater amount than its subscribed capital. In this document there is something for the Government to answer, but I have a strong suspicion that we will not get even a peep out of any Minister of State in regard to it. If any Minister does attempt to deal with it he will probably say that although the Government owns over one-half of the capital it does not control a majority of the directors. Well, let , US have a look at some of the expenditure over which the Government has complete and absolute control. Let us look at the estimates of receipts and expenditure of the Government for the current financial year. The Government cannot claim that its control of the public purse is fettered for we have nineteen directors - or may be only one, I am not sure - who are responsible for the Estimates. One would have expected that a government, having come out of a war of the kind we have just finished, seeing- the state the world is in to-day, being aware of the necessity for the greatest possible degree of production, fully informed of the shortage of homes and the- crying need for repairs and replacements in every direction, would have devoted its time to securing the greatest possible economy in the expenditure of public money. But if economy were the only poison that would kill this Government it would live forever. That is proved conclusively by these Estimates. Let us have a look at some of the departments listed in the document. It would take too long to go through the whole of them, and accordingly I must confine myself to a few. Let us consider the Department of Information with the establishment of which I have never agreed since its inception. To-day, with the war over, what justification is there for the existence of such a “ show “ ? Last year expenditure on the Department of Information amounting to £286,751 was charged as part of war expenditure. This year the Government did not have the temerity or the effrontery to charge the expenses of the department against war expenditure; it is included in. civil expenditure, but the. estimate has gone up to £324;000.
– If. is nearer the mark now.
– The honorable member no doubt hopes that it will reach the amount of the Australian Workers Union’s annual income. I turn now to page 323 of the Estimates wherein is portrayed a detailed statement of expenditure on salaries for this department. I find that the annual salaries are set down as £12,400. If there is a department listed in this document which requires a thorough examination with a microscope it is the Department of Information.
– With a fine-tooth comb !
– The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin), would probably prefer to use DDT; it would at least be more effective. Upon examining the list of officers in the administrative section of the department, I find that there are only twelve.- First we have the directorgeneral with a salary of £1,450 ; then a production manager- - what he produces the Lord only knows - with a salary of £832 ; then there is a technical supervisor at £712; a. cinematographer - I tried to get him to Central Australia, but he has not been able- to “ make it “ yet - who gets £634; one projectionist, £382; one processor, £382; and two clerks, £830. It is interesting to note that the clerks get more than the processor or the projectionist. Provision is also made for one assistant private secretary, £319; and, finally, three typists, £751. In addition provision is made for officers on loan from other departments, and for various allowances and exchange on salaries paid abroad, making a total for the administrative staff of £12,400. Those are the only salaries shown, notwithstanding that the total expenditure for the department this year is estimated to be £324,000. It is time the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) came to the table to give an explanation of how he has arrived at a total expenditure of £324,000 for a totally unnecessary, useless and futile department. My friends opposite cannot divest themselves of some responsibility for this expenditure of the taxpayers’ money.
I pass now to another important department, one of those controlled by my right honorable friend, the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). I believe it is high time that this committee took cognizance of the way we are going with our external affairs policy. We had an interesting debate on that subject last week, and I realize that it would not be in order for me to discuss it during this debate. We are now, however, dealing with the cost of that policy which was so lucidly expounded on the last two successive Fridays by the right honorable gentleman. The administrative costs of the Department of External Affairs for the current financial year are estimated to amount to £225,100. In addition provision is made for the Australian Legation, United States of America, £93,500; the Australian Legation, China, £44,000; the Australian Legation, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, £27,000 - we have not had a Minister there since Mr. Maloney left, and I understand that volunteers for the office are as scarce as they are for the occupation force of Japan ; the Australian Legation, France, £32,300; the Australian Legation, Brazil, £30,900; the Australian Legation, Chile, £32,500; the Australian Legation, The Netherlands, £20,200 - I do not know if that vote is affected by the relationship that exists between us and the Dutch East Indies; High Commissioner’s Office, Canada, £27,500; High Commissioner’s Office, New Zealand, £12,700; High Commissioner’s Office, India, £25,700; High Commissioner’s Office, Eire, £18,000 - I have always believed: that the High Commissioner in London could carry out in one day a month any business we had to transact in Dublin; High Commissioner’s Office, South Africa, £19,000 ; consular representation abroad, £102,300 ; and, finally, other representation abroad, a mere matter of £44,400. The total cost of that department is no less than £756,000. Then we can go through the special estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department, in which provision is made, for instance, in respect of the national fitness campaign. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) spoke in favour of that campaign. I do not agree with one word he said on the matter. That activity has been an absolute excrescence, a fraud and a frost. We are not justified in maintaining the present high rate3 of taxes while we continue to spend money on activities of that kind. I happened to be a member of the government which instituted the national fitness campaign, and my opinion about that activity has not changed. Going through the budget one can cite item after item in each department which reveals the scantiest consideration on the part of the Government for the welfare of the taxpayers and the Australian economy as a whole. The Government must look a little ahead. Present high prices and conditions cannot last. Back in the nineteenthirties, it was said that we had a depression because there was overproduction, that we could not get rid of the goods we produced. All sorts of explanations were offered for that depression. At the rate this country is going to-day we are heading for another depression, and it will be caused by our failure to produce commodities. Our people have accumulated in the savings banks record deposits. Although there is always a large amount of deposits held in the savings banks, the present huge reservoir of deposits exists to-day for only one reason - (because the people who own them cannot exchange that , money for goods which they require and urgently desire. They cannot get houses. If they want to go for a holiday some blessed railway system in some States is held up by a strike. They cannot buy goods at reasonable prices because black markets are in operation. Consequently, we have banked up a great reservoir of deposits for which there is no commensurate supply of goods and services available. If the production methods which the Government seems to regard with complacency be persisted with we must end up in a first-class national disaster. The problem of the coal-mining industry has been raised on previous occasions in this House. We cannot carry on modern civilization effectively in Australia unless coal is produced in this continent. This problem must be solved. W e cannot carry on without transport. But transport is held up for any, or no, excuse at all, and, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) pointed out this afternoon, the Government is pursuing a policy which allows these hold-ups to pay a dividend which is in keeping with that paid by Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. At any rate, the Government is consistent on that point. This policy must cease. No doubt this Government will be in office for the next three years. So far as we can see there is nothing to interrupt its course, unless certain things happen; but J. shall not be in order in dealing with that subject. Unless the Government takes a pretty firm grip of the situation I say to honorable members opposite that they will not occupy the ministerial benches for three years, because if the system of strikes and disruption - deliberate, premeditated, calculated - which has gone on in the Commonwealth for the last eighteen months, or two years, is of such a character that it will not only wreck industry but also put into oblivion any government which is foolish enough to allow it to continue. I hope that in due course the Government will show what it has not shown up to date; that is, its intention, will and capacity to grasp the industrial nettle in both hands and uproot it.
– The budget, which concerns the future wefare of Australia, should deal with three matters: first, the employment and prosperity of the masses of our people; secondly, provision with respect to taxes in order to enable the Government to function; and, thirdly, the effect of the budget .upon the States which form the federation. I was very much impressed by the desire of the Leader of the Opposition ,(Mr. Menzies), when he was speaking this afternoon, to bring before the people the difficulties existing with regard to production. All of us agree that a country must produce in order to ensure prosperity and employment in the community. But the right honorable gentleman seemed to go out of his way to blame the Government for something for which it is not responsible. I did not mind that so much, because very often an opposition takes that attitude automatically, believing that its main duty is to belittle the Government. However, in view of the right honorable gentleman’s knowledge of politics, I was surprised at his. premeditated attempt to boost the very people of whom he was complaining. Instead of dealing with the budget on its merits he went out of his way to give encouragement to Communist leaders in this country. He said that the leaders of the Communists had done something in the railway strike in “Victoria that was returning a dividend. I ask him whether the dividend that has been returned to the railwaymen and tramwaymen in Victoria is unjust, or anything to which they are not entitled. The men working in those callings, particularly employees in the traffic branch of the railways, have been for years among that section of the community which has received the least degree of justice, having regard to the value, importance and efficiency of the services they render to the community. In practically every State, government employees have been battling along under almost unbearable conditions. ‘ I have first-hand knowledge of the position’ in South Australia. For years, discontent has existed among railway and tramway employees in that State. The tramway service in Adelaide was held up for weeks as the result of a strike which was undertaken by the men as a protest against their conditions of employment, and the amazing thing was that the general public sympathized with the men. They realized the unfairness of the conditions under which the men were obliged to work on pegged wages. Honorable members opposite may talk about increases of the basic wage, and what they mean to these men; but, in reply to the Leader of the Opposition, I point out that it waa not simply the ability of the Communist leader which caused the men to go on strike in Victoria. What prompted them to cease work was the unfair treatment that they have endured for years. I do not blame the present Labour Government, or the previous Liberal Go vernment in Victoria, for that condition of affairs, because the wages were fixed by industrial tribunals. The Leader of the Opposition stated that he believed in arbitration and conciliation, and that he was opposed to strikes or lock-outs. He said also that the people who were affected by industrial unrest were not only the employers and employees, but also the great majority of the general public. Although I have been ‘ associated with industrial organizations for many years, I have always considered that a strike should be the last resort of any employees. I would not deprive the men of the right to strike any more than I would deprive the employer of the right to say that a certain employee was -not suitable and would be dismissed. No member of the Opposition would desire to deny to the employer that right. .By acknowledging that principle, we .must be prepared also to concede to the employee the right to decide .not to work .if he is dissatisfied with his wages and conditions.
The Leader of the Opposition did not attempt to hide that he was boosting the Communist leader. The right honorable gentleman said that Mr. Brown told the workers, “ You were not able to get your demands granted, hut if you have Communist leaders to put your case to the Government and .say that you will not return to work until your claims are met, you have. a chance of succeeding”. This unconcealed attempt to boost the Communist leader does not seem to fit in with the statements of other honorable members opposite about the necessity for the continuity of production, and their condemnation of the disruptionist tactics of the Communists. I know what the Communist is. .He has no love for me. ,as -.a representative of the Labour party. He would give me the last of his preference votes. He would not desire me to be elected to this chamber as a representative of the Labour party, because his ideology is opposed to mine, and his concept of force is one which, I believe, is wrong. Just as I argued against force when I was speaking on Australia’s foreign policy last week, so I argue against force when I speak about industrial matters. In my opinion, the solution of industrial disputes lies in genuine conciliation. I know the feeling of the men in districts where some of the biggest strikes have occurred. Generally speaking, they did not want to stop work; they did so only when they felt that they had no alternative. When honorable members opposite want to have a “ box-on “ with the Government, and endeavour to belittle the Labour movement in the eyes of -the people generally, they should not boost an undesirable element for the purpose of getting a political advantage over the Labour party which does truly represent the workers of Australia. Such tactics are adopted when one political party has sought to gain an advantage over another. Sometimes, when a person gains the prize, he finds that it is like so many ashes in his hands. Perhaps members of the Opposition ‘believe that they can destroy the Labour movement in Australia by boosting the Communists. 3 warn them that if the Communists manage to gain control of the treasury bench in this Parliament, honorable members opposite will have a problem that they will find difficulty in solving. I did not desire to -speak in this way, but I believe that many honest workers, and persons who did not desire industrial strife, would consider that the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition should not have been permitted to go unchallenged.
– The Leader of the Opposition did not make such a statement.
– My memory is ais good as is that of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White).
-. - The honorable member should read in Hansard .exactly what the Leader of the Opposition said.
– 1 say to the honorable member for Balaclava, without first reading Hansard, that the Leader of the Opposition stated that when Mr. Brown appeared before the strikers at the stadium, they cheered him. Mr. Brown told them about the results that he had got for them, and explained to them that their demands would not have been met if they had endeavoured to obtain them by constitutional means. According to the Leader of the’ Opposition, Mr. Brown added that he had got results because of the action which he had taken.
– Of course!
– He did .say that.
– That was not boosting the Communist leader.
– Then I do not know what boosting is. I welcome this cross-examination, as it -were-
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to address the Chair.
– The Leader of the Opposition said that Mr. Brown obtained for the workers by unconstitutional methods what they could not get by constitutional methods, that the Government was “ playing up to them “, and that all they had to do was to threaten, it and they would get their demands granted. If that is not boosting a Communist leader, I should like to know what is. The honorable member for Balaclava has condemned the workers who are on strike, and recommended the use of force against them. His attitude is even worse than that of the Leader, of the Opposition to-day in boosting the Communists. The honorable member for Balaclava will not “get away with” those statements in this House while I am here to answer them. I have lived close to these men, and I know them well. I have seen railwaymen grow old in the service. At last they are informed, after a medical examination, that their eyesight is -slightly impaired, so as to render them unfit any longer to drive interstate expresses, and that, in future, they will drive a shunting engine and their pay will be reduced. These men have given the best years of their lives to the service of the railways. They have driven inter state expresses in all kinds of weather and under all sorts of conditions. But immediately they are unable to pass the physical examination, they are de-graded, and their wages reduced by perhaps £1 a week. These men have been pushed from pillar to post. They are not just dominated by the eloquence of Communist leaders; they are in revolt because they have been dominated for years by conditions imposed by honorable members opposite and others of their kind. We are opposed to unconstitutional methods of seeking redress of grievances. We do not condone the taking of direct action with consequent injury to other members of the community. Nevertheless, in judging these men, let us make sure that we understand their .case and appreciate their state of mind.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) referred to taxation. Probably employment and taxes are the two most important factors in the lives of Australians to-day. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) touched on the problem of employment when he spoke about ex-servicemen employed in government departments that are likely to go out of existence. The honorable gentleman claims that those men have not been properly re-established because they are likely to lose their jobs. While he was speaking, I wondered whether he considered that men already permanently employed in government departments should be displaced to make room for the ex-servicemen whom he mentions. It is very easy for the honorable member to make statements that the Government is treating exservicemen unfairly and that it should place them in permanent employment. I urge him .to go before the government employees in the biggest town in his electorate and say to them: “We must rehabilitate the ex-servicemen. You will have .to make way for them.” I do not know whether he is prepared to do that.
– Who suggested that?
– I know that the honorable member for Wimmera did not suggest that, but he said that exservicemen placed in temporary jobs were not properly rehabilitated.
– Is that not right?
– Of course it is right. The honorable member wants the Government to do something more than it has done for the men he mentioned. I ask him how it can provide permanent employment for them without displacing the men already employed in permanent positions.
– Please do not misquote me. The departments that I mentioned will cease to exist, and the men will be thrown on the labour market.
–! understand that.
– Keep to the point.
– The honorable member does not like to have his words thrown back at him. I listened to him and was tempted to interject, but I let him speak without interruption. As I listened, I wondered what ideas he had for providing those men with permanent employment. He said that the Government should ensure that ex-servicemen are permanently rehabilitated. If he wants the Government to provide the men with secure positions in government departments, I still say to him that it cannot do so without displacing the men who already occupy the permanent positions.
– I still say that the honorable member is misquoting me.
– I regret it.
– And so the honorable member should. *
– I have stated my interpretation.
– It is quite wrong. I was warning the Government of what would happen.
– The honorable member was doing a lot more than that. He was trying to make a “good fellow” of himself in the eyes of ex-servicemen.
– They know I am a good fellow.
– The honorable member is only talking platitudes. What i? the good of platitudes? It is useless to say things without doing something definite.
– What is the honorable member going to do about it?
– I say that the country, which has been saved by these ex-servicemen, must expend enough of its money to provide employment for them and for their children as well. If the honorable member wants to debate this matter, he should take into consideration the fact that the Government cannot cut down expenditure as he would like it to do and at the same time provide sufficient money for the proper reestablishment of ex-servicemen. The honorable member asked the Government to state where one ex-serviceman has been settled on a farm in Victoria.
– “In Australia,” I said.
– Or in New South Wales. I ask the honorable member: Whose responsibility is it to settle these men on the land? Is the responsibility that of the Commonwealth Government or of the State governments, with which agreements have been made by the Commonwealth ?
– The Labour party conscripted the men; it should re-establish them.
– I challenge honorable members opposite on this issue. Will they support any move in this House to alter the Constitution in order that the Commonwealth Government may take what land it wants, employ men where it wants, and. build houses wherever they are needed? Will they do that in the interest? of the people of Australia? That is a challenge to them. Those who have not yet spoken in this debate may reply to me later. Instead of merely complaining about the shortage of houses and land for ex-servicemen, are they prepared to take away from the States the responsibility for providing houses and land so that the Commonwealth will be responsible for doing the job as well as providing the funds?
– I thought the honorable member was about to answer my question. How many men have been settled on the land?
– The honorable member seems to know so much about it that he should be able to give the answer.
– I did give the answer.
– In South Australia, the Government of which, in common with the other States, made an agreement with the Commonwealth, large areas of land have already been purchased and men are at work preparing them for settlement. The Government does not want a repetition of the mistakes that were made when I settled on the land .after World War I. It does not want a man to be left to locate his property by searching for a couple of oneinch square survey pegs in the scrub, tie his horse to the wheel of his wagon, fix a length of wire around three or four trees to make a yard for his cow, buy feed for it in order to get some milk, and then set about clearing the scrub and building a house. That was the old system of settling ex-servicemen on the land. Perhaps the honorable member wants the Government to say to exservicemen : “ There is an area of land. Go out and settle on it”. I have had that experience. Any country which wants to make a success of land settlement must provide land that is in a decent condition, so that the man who goes on to it will have an opportunity to make a living.
– Where has any settlement taken place?
– The honorable member for Wimmera, in the course of his speech, merely uttered platitudes about what should be done. I am telling him what has been done in the State of which I have some knowledge.
– How many men have been settled?
– The honorable member agreed that a man should not be dumped on the land without preparation having been made for him. I believe he agrees that when a settler goes on to a farm he should have an opportunity to produce something, and should not have to exhaust all his deferred pay and the whole of the advance he has received from the Repatriation Department in making the place shipshape, only to find that he is then bankrupt, as so many settlers found themselves under past repatriation schemes. The honorable member can only utter the parrot cry, “ Tell me where men have been settled “.
Such remarks may be good publicity, but they do not help to settle men on the land.
I come from what is termed one of the smaller States, not geographically, but in regard to population and wealth. South Australia is not one of the powerful or rich States, but it does not lack quality in its citizens, whether they are engaged in industry, commerce, or agricultural or pastoral occupations. In that respect, it compares favorably with any other States. The honorable member for Barker and I hold different views on quite a lot of things, but there are many others on which we agree. He knows that what I have said in regard to the experience of men who took up land settlement under repatriation schemes over 25 years ago is correct, namely, that they had no chance of making a success of the venture. He will go with me this far, that when men are put on the land they should have a chance of succeeding, and should not find that their’ properties have become huge sandhills when the timber has been cleared from them. Their hearts should not be broken in trying to grow wheat and keep a few cows on country which was never meant to be devoted to that class of farming. That was the old policy. I should prefer one, two, or even three years to elapse before men were put on the land, if that would mean that they would have a reasonable chance of proving successful. The present Government is anxious to help the men who are on the bottom rung of the ladder. The States have to be in a position to do those things that are necessary. I was a member of a State parliament up to about three months ago, and can say that the Commonwealth has acted magnanimously towards South Australia and has helped it as far as it could. Unfortunately, the State parliament contains men who, like members of the Opposition in this Parliament, wish to take all the credit for everything that has been done. I speak with conviction when I say that the present Commonwealth Government is prepared to do everything that it can to assist the States. Two or three years ago, I listened in. the Legislative Council of New South Wales to a debate on amending land legislation that had been introduced by the Labour Government of that State and was designed to enable the Government to acquire land compulsorily or to tax it in such a way that it would become available to the Crown for the settlement of exservicemen. A leading member of the Opposition was speaking at the time. He would have nothing to do with the passage of legislation which would have given to the Government the power that it needed to enable it to effect the land settlement of ex-servicemen at the termination of the war. Yet we now have the parrot cry “ Where have you settled one man? “ To those who would criticize this Government I would say, “ Take up the matter with those who have the power in the Legislative Councils, and are able to prevent Labour governments from doing what they want to do
– The Legislative Council of South Australia passed legislation.
– The honorable member knows that that chamber is elected on a property and privilege franchise. With five Labour members supporting two Ministers, the support of three members of the Government party was needed to pass legislation. Time and again that support could not be obtained.
– The Government was able to pass legislation for the compulsory purchase of land.
– I doubt whether that legislation would have been passed by the Legislative Council had it not been for the support given to it by the five Labour members, who were able to make up for lack of support by Government members. Where the job of land settlement is not being done thoroughly and properly, the fault lies with those who are opposed to land settlement and obstruct legislation designed to that end. If I were to mention anything about the nationalization of land, some honorable members would be shocked. I shall not deal with that matter to-night. If Australia is to prosper, and if ex-servicemen are to be placed on farming properties with a chance of succeeding, some of the big areas of beautiful rich country which are not now being worked effectively must be subdivided and put to more profitable use. If wre desire to afford the people an opportunity to obtain maximum production from the land, the day will come when we shall have to give serious consideration to the ownership of the land by the nation.
I notice that £18,000,000 is proposed to be made available for aircraft equipment, including £8,000,000 for aircraft production in Australia. At Parafield aerodrome in South Australia, where about 400 men were employed, Dakotas have been manufactured, and remarkably good work has been done at a cost which compares favorably with that obtaining elsewhere. South Australia is anxious to retain the Parafield workshops, which are capable of producing aircraft and also of repairing and servicing the machines. The first question which I asked in this chamber was whether the policy of the Government was that proper facilities should be made available in each State to enable aircraft production and maintenance to be carried on effectively. I am pleased to know that on the edge of my electorate a large airport is to be constructed, capable of taking the largest aircraft that are likely to be used in this country.
I trust that the votes for the repatriation and re-establishment of exservicemen will be sufficient to enable them to be rehabilitated in their former employment or granted the necessary vocational training to fit them for useful work in the community. I am reminded that government is finance and that finance is government. Since the introduction of the uniform taxation system and the placing of the control of loan moneys in the hands of the Commonwealth, it behoves this Parliament to use its great power in the best interests of ex-service personnel.
The honorable member for Wimmera remarked that the national fitness campaign should be carried on more vigorously than at present, and the honorable member for Barker expressed dissatisfaction regarding the matter. Having, on my election to this Parliament, resigned from the National Fitness Council in Adelaide, I am in a position to say that that body has always expended the money granted to it in the best interests of the people. Regard should be had to the fitness of the people physically mentally and morally, and from my experienceI can say that the work done by the council has been of a kind calculated to develop physical and moral fitness among young people. The Commonwealth authorities should pay close attention to the needs of the youth of the community, and concentrate their attention on adolescents between the ages of fourteen and twenty years.
My first point to-night was theimportance of maintaining full employment and prosperity among the people, and I also referred to the necessity for exservicemen, who take up life on the land, to own their farms. Since the meeting of the new Parliament, we have not heard much from the Opposition about the reduction of the income tax by 20 per cent., as proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) before the general elections. Probably the reaction of the people to the election proposals of the Opposition was so strong that honorable members opposite do not wish that subject to be resurrected. The reduction proposed by the Leader of the Opposition was that a taxpayer in receipt of £250 a year, with a wife and one child, and paying income tax amounting to £5 4s. a year, should have his tax reduced by 20 per cent. in order to provide him with an incentive to work. That would be a reduction of about £11s. a year. The Labour Government has granted to the workers £2 2s. a week towards their hospital expenses, and they also have the benefit of child endowment and invalid and old-age pensions, which are provided out of general revenue. Honorable members opposite are not in favour of granting sickness and unemployment benefits from general revenue, but desire the introduction of a contributory scheme and the abolition of the means test.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
Re-establishment: Living Allowances for ex-Service University Students.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Recently, I have had discussions with young men who are participating in the reconstruction training scheme for exservicemen at the Melbourne University, and they have told me of the difficulty which they are experiencing in carrying on on the living allowance of £3 5s. a week granted by the Government. Actually, from the amount of £3 5s. a week, taxation amounting to 3s. 3d. a week has to be paid.
– Is that the allowance for single men ?
– There are men and women students, and some are married.
– Is there an additional allowance for married men ?
– I cannot say; but even if there is, I know that the married men are having great difficulty in carrying on. I emphasize the fact that 3s. 3d. a week is being taken in tax from the meagre living allowance of £3 5s. a week. Theoretically, students are entitled to travelling expenses up to 5s. a week; but I am told that, whereas formerly this was paid to them weekly, it is now supposed to be paid at some time during the term in a lump sum. My informant told me that since May last he has not received any part of the travelling allowance. The Melbourne University ex-Servicemen’s Association took a census of 600 students to find out how much it was costing them to live, over and above their allowance. Presumably, most of them have had to dip into their deferred pay. As I have said, the allowance is £3 5s. a week, less 3s. 3d. a week tax, which leaves £31s. 9d. The census revealed that the extra cost to female students living at home is £1 6s. 7d. a week, while for those living away from home the extra cost is £1 9s. 4d. a week. For single males it is £1 5s. l0d, for married males with one dependant it is £2 14s. 4d., while, singularly enough, for married males with two dependants it is £2 l1s. l1d. Those are rough averages, but they indicate that the allowances are inadequate to pay for board and lodging, travelling expenses to and from the university, and for clothing. I therefore ask the Prime Minister to review the matter. I a.m certain that neither the Government nor the House, however engrossed we may be in our efforts to effect economies, would desire to be cheeseparing in a matter of this kind. Exservice students have difficulty enough in resuming serious study at an age and under conditions which make their task much harder than that of students who enter the university straight from school, and it is not right that they should have the additional worry associated with their maintenance and living expenses. The difficulty regarding travelling allowance could, of course, be remedied by a simple administrative act.
– I shall have the matter of the travelling allowance looked into. The other point has been considered several times.
– Perhaps I have been able to place before the Prime Minister additional information which would justify a further review. I suggest that he communicate with the university authorities in order to learn what is the actual experience of students regarding the living allowance. If it is found that they have to use their deferred pay in order to live, and that conditions are such that their studies are interfered with, the Prime Minister can rely upon the support of all honorable members for any proposal to effect an improvement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Broadcasting - Composite statement of programme and technical service accounts of Australian Broadcasting Commission and Postmaster-General’s Departmentin respect of the national broadcasting service for year 1944-45. Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Interior- F. E. Wells.
Labour and National Service - F. P.
Bridges, P. H. Cook.
Customs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No.161.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for -
Defence purposes -
Carnarvon, Western Australia.
Postal purposes -
Footscray West, Victoria.
Meat Export Control Act - Eleventh Annual
Report of the Australian Meat Board, for 1945-46, together with Statement by the Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
National Security Act - National Security (Prices) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 2738- 2767.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act-
Ordinance - 194C - No. 8 - Tax Ordinances Repeal.
Regulations - 1946 - No. 3 (Crown Lands Ordinance).
Re-establishment and Employment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 141.
Sales Tax Assessment Act (Nos. 1-9) - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 159.
Sales Tax Procedure Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 158.
House adjourned at 10.17 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
e asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Apples and Pears.
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
Does the Government intend to pay to Queensland fruit-growers the profits accumulated as the result of sales under the operation of the Apple and Pear Board, particularly with reference to the last year of operations in that State; if so, when?
– The last year of the apple and pear acquisition scheme in which Queensland was included was 1942. The Commonwealth Government incurred losses, not profits, in respect of the operations of that year. Consideration of claims by growers for additional compensation payments has been deferred pending the determination of compensation in accordance with the formula laid down in the Zerbe case, as directed by the High Court earlier this year. Until this has been done in detail for each individual claimant, it will not be possible to know whether or not a grower is entitled to any further compensation payment in respect of fruit acquired by the Commonwealth.
n asked the Minister for
Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
Association, for a continuation of the subsidy until the end of the present disastrous drought in Queensland?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has already obtained ample supplies of gammexane, and has over the past two years been investigating the effect of this insecticide on all the pests mentioned with the exception of wireworms.
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
What price, expressed in terms of Australian currency, is the Government of the United Kingdom now paying per dozen for abell eggs imported from (a) Australia, (6) Canada, (c) United States of America and (d) Denmark.
– The price obtained from the British Ministry of Food for eggs in shell shipped from Australia during the 1946-47 season is ls. Sd. Australian currency f.o.b. Australian ports per dozen eggs of 15 lb. pack “with pro rata adjustments for lighter or heavier packs. Under the agreement between the Governments of the United Kingdom and Denmark it is understood that the British Government will pay 19s. 6d. sterling per long hundred f.o.b. for eggs from Denmark during the period 1st August, 1946, to 30th September, 1947, with the exception that during the period March-June inclusive the price will be 153. 6d. sterling, representing in Australian currency, approximately 2s. 5£d. and ls. Hid. per dozen f.o.b. Danish ports. However, it should be pointed out that the Australian and Danish prices are not comparable in that Australian eggs are cold stored for- considerable periods whilst Danish eggs are sold as fresh. Moreover, the freight cost and charges on Australian eggs are considerably higher than those on eggs from Denmark. No information is available regarding the prices being paid by the British Ministry of Food ‘for eggs from the United States of America and Canada.
s asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
– The information requested by the honorable member is being obtained and will be furnished as soon as possible.
s asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
– The information requested by the honorable member is being obtained and will be furnished as soon as possible. ‘
s asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
How -many applications for war service homes have been received, and how many have been completed and occupied in the following places for each of the years 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945 and 1946 (to 31st October) :- Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Gympie, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, Maryborough, Bundaberg and Warwick?
– The information requested by the honorable member is being obtained and will be furnished as soon as possible.
y. - On the 7th November, the honorable member ‘for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) referred to the annual grant .of £350,000 made available by the Commonwealth to the States for the parpose of treating tuberculosis, and asked whether it was true that no State had yet applied for any part of the £100,000 of the above-mentioned grant which is available for capital expenditure, such as hospitals and fittings.
No application has been made by any State for any portion of the grant of £50,000 for provision of increased diagnostic facilities, nor of the sum of £50,000 for the provision of convalescent homes and methods of after-care. However, the States of South Australia and Victoria have ^applied for their portions of the £250,000, namely, £20,011 and £59,433 respectively, for the purpose of making payments to or in respect of sufferers or depend antsof sufferers from tuberculosis, in accordance with section 6 of the Tuberculosis Act.
Commonwealth Disposals Commission : Motor Vehiciles.
n. - On the 13th. November, speaking on the motion for the adjournment of the House, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) asked a question concerning the sale of tractors and motor vehicles.
The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following information : -
In the sale of motor vehicles, as in the sale of all other commodities, the Commonwealth Disposals Commission adheres to the requirements of the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner. Inrare cases only are motor vehicles and allied equipment sold by public auction, and even when sales do take place by public auction, the auctioneer is required not to exceed ceiling prices as determined by the Prices Commissioner.
Ninety-nineper cent. of the motor vehicles sold on the Australian mainland, other than those in the Northern Territory, have been sold by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission through trade channels. In each case a ceiling price has been fixed for each individual make and model of vehicle, and the Prices Commissioner also controls the margins allowed to the motor trade.
The honorable member can be assured that, irrespective of ‘the methods employed by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission inthe liquidation of surplus stocks, there is complete co-operation with, and adherence to, the requirements of the Prices Commissioner. report on Aitape.
-On the 14th November, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McBride) asked me if I would lay on the table of the House a report by SenatorFraser on Aitape.
The honorable member evidently referred to a report submitted by Senator Fraser as a result of a visit made by him, asActing Minister for the Army, to the operational areas in New Guinea, New Britain and Bougainville between the 5th , and the 16th April, 1945. This report was laid on the Table of the House on the 24th April, 1945, by the then Prime Minister, thelate Mr. JohnCurtin.
Re-establishment : Taxing of Allowances.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Information, upon notice -
Mr.Calwell. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 November 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1946/19461120_reps_18_189/>.