18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J.. S.Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– In view of reports which appear inthismorning’snewspapers, I ask the Prime Minister whether he is in a position to make any announcement as to theappointment of a successor to, His. Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester as the Governor-General.?
Mr.CHIFLEY. - I am not in a position to make any statement regarding an appointment to the position of GovernorGeneral. As the right honorable gentleman knows, this appointment lies in the hands of His. Majesty the King. I do not propose to engage inany discussion in regard to the: matter..
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and
Shipping endeavour to ascertain from the Government ofNew South Wales what are the future intentions in regard to shipbuilding at Newcastle shipyards? What orders have been placed bythe Australian Shipbuilding Board? There is widespread apprehension among employees in regard to continuity of employment.
– The Governmenthas a shipbuilding programme for the postwar period, which, from memory, I believe involves the construction of 30,000 tons of shipping a year, and will continue for many years. I am not, at the moment, aware of what part Newcastle shipbuilding yards will play in the programme, but I shall ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping to supply the information to the honorable member..
Services to Darwin andnorth-west Coast of Westernaustralia.
Mr.BLAIN. - Because of the lack of shipping services to Darwin and the north-west coast of Western Australia - an area that I have recently visited - will the Minister representing, the Minister for Supply and. Shipping make representations to hiscolleague and to the Government of Western Australia for the next voyage of the motor shipKoolinda from Perth to be extended from Wyndham to Darwin, and for the institution of a monthly, or at least a regular, shipping service to Darwin from eastern ports?
– The honorable member must be aware that there is an acute shortage of shipping throughout the world. I shall ask the Minister for Supply and’ Shipping to see whether anything can be done to meet his requests.
ProductionCosts-Appointment of Advisory Committee.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture able to state whether finality has yet been reached in connexion with the setting up of a committee to inquire into costs of production in the dairying industry? Can the honorable gentleman also state when representatives of dairy farmers are to be called into conference to discuss the allocation of the increased returns received from sales of dairy products under the recently revised contract prices?
– by leave - I am endeavouring to arrange a suitable date for the conference referred to. I have not yet been able to fix a firm date, but I hope that the conference will be held about the 17th December. In accordance with the undertaking given by the Government in response to a request by the industry, action is now being taken to constitute the Joint Dairying Industry Advisory Committee on Production Costs. The committee will consist of nine members - four representatives of producers and four representatives of Commonwealth Government departments in- terested, together with a chairman nominated by the Government.
The members will be - Mr. T. Flood Plunkett, M.L.A., Queensland; Mr. C. A. Gibson, New South Wales; Mr. G. C. Howey, Victoria; Mr. J. P. Norton, Western Australia - representing producers of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania; Mr. W. S. Kelly, Commonwealth Prices Branch; Mr. P. W. Nette, Department of the Treasury; M.r. C. Sheehy, Controller of Dairy Pro ducts; Mr. A. Spencer, Department of Commerce and Agriculture; and Mr. J. Crawford, Bureau of Agricultural Economics, who will be chairman. The committee will’ be empowered to inquire into the Costs o;f production, within the1 dairying industry, particularly butter and cheese, and to deal with such other matters concerning the industry as are referred to it from time to time by the Government. It is anticipated that the first meeting of the committee will be held at an early date.
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform me how the members representing the producers on the committee were selected? Were they nominated, or recommended by producers’ organizations in the various States?
– The representatives who were selected to act on the committee were chosen by the Government from representative producer organizations.
Search fob Flow On at Lakes Entrance - Power ALCOHOL
– -Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping furnish particulars of the progress made at the Lakes Entrance ‘oilfield in. Victoria, showing the cost of the work to date, when completion of the shaft may be expected, whether any oil has yet been obtained from it, and, if so, what quantity? Will the Minister state what progress ha3 been made at the Nelson oil bore in the Portland district of Victoria? Can the Minister also say what quantity of power alcohol, if any, has been obtained from wheat during the last twelve months from the four distilleries established for that purpose?
– I shall ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping to make inquiries regarding the three matters mentioned by the honorable member, who will be supplied later with the information, desired by him.
H.M.A.S. “ Sydney “ : Replacement
Fund- H.M.A.S. “ Adelaide
– Will the Treasurer state what amount of money was raised by public subscription to the fund for the replacement of the H.M.A.S. Sydney? Where is the ‘money now and what use, if any, is being made of it? What interest is being paid on the money? What is proposed to be done with the money ?
– The money is in a trust fund, and, as honorable members knOw, trust funds can be disposed of only by decision of Parliament. I cannot supply detailed answers to the other parts of the honorable member’s question, hut I shall obtain the information for him.
– Is it proposed to introduce legislation to deal with the matter?
– It would be necessary for Parliament to take action.
– Can the Minister for the Navy say whether it is a fact that H.M.A.S. Adelaide is to be put out of commission and dismantled If so, will he give consideration to a proposal that this gallant ship should be used as a breakwater at La Perouse?
– I shall give conaideration to the honorable member’s suggestion.
– Recently, the Rats of Tobruk Association approached the Government seeking a prohibition against the use of the word “ Tobruk “ for commercial purposes, in the same way as the use of the word “Anzac” is prohibited. Has the Attorney-General made a decision regarding the request?
– As the honorable member has indicated, action was taken in an analagous case, and it seems to me that the word “ Tobruk “ ought to be covered by the same principle. I shall look into the matter in order to discover what exactly is the position so that I may give a ruling. The matter is covered by regulations which I administer.
– In view of the exceptionally high profits made during the war years by graziers, why was the recent increase of the price of meat permitted by the Prices Commissioner? Is it a fact that the Prices Commissioner considered the increase to be unjustified, but made necessary by the fact that meat had brought such high prices at the saleyards that butchers had been compelled to sell on the black market to recover their outlay? Could not the black market in meat be eliminated by acquiring all meat “ on the hook” at a reasonable price, and allocating it to butchers at a price fixed by the Prices Commissioner, instead of permitting it to go to the highest bidder? Is it reasonable that graziers who are making high incomes from the sale of their products on the world market should be allowed to sell at uncontrolled prices in Australia while the wages of workers remain pegged ?
– I shall be very glad to refer the matter to the Minister for Trade and Customs with a request that the fullest possible information be supplied.
Training of Linemen
– I have on several previous occasions tried to find out what progress is being made with the establishment of a special school in Brisbane for the vocational training of electrical linemen, some hundreds of whom have registered, and are anxious to go on with their training. Can the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction make a statement on the subject?
– by leave- On the 13th November, the honorable member asked me, without notice, to make inquiries into plans for a re-establishment training scheme in Queensland for electrical linemen. The position is that we are well on the way to commencing such a course in Brisbane. In order to train ex-servicemen for this occupation, two different aspects of the proposal had to be considered. The honorable member will know that the licensing of electrical linemen is controlledby State legislation which, except in thecase of skilled operatives from other branches of the electrical trades, imposes a minimum twoyear period of training on the ground before the examination for a full license for overhead operations can be attempted. In order to satisfy the existing demand for approximately one hundred of these tradesmen as quickly as possible, it was necessary, with the consent of the Queensland Government, to issue a regulation nnder Section46 of the Re-establishment and Employment Act of 1945 to override the normal provisions of State legislation in the special case of ex-servicemen trained under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. The issue of such a regulation is at present being negotiated. When agreement had been reached on the terms of the regulation, it was necessary to arrange a suitable course of intensive full-time training to condense the knowledge and experience normally acquired during the two year period referred to into approximately six months. A proposal by the Brisbane City Council to set up a school for this purpose was received byany department and submitted to the training authority under the scheme for examination. Technical school training is, wherever possible, administered by State educational authorities. All courses which involve the use of private training institutions are scrutinized very careful!’* from the point of view of finance and also of the educational standard offered. Approval of a private training institution is contingent upon the institution’s ability to submit a satisfactory syllabus of training and co-operate in the approved method of financial settlement, which requires the division of the course into a number of units, payment for which is made as the course proceeds, In this way, the Commonwealth is protected in cases of discontinuance during the course. The original proposal of the Brisbane City Council was for a 22 weeks’ course with a capacity of twenty trainees at a per capita charge of £65. This was considerably in excess of the amount charged by other private training institutions for comparable instructional services, and further details were requested by the training authority. During these discussions the availability of this course of training in « Government institution was examined. It was found that similar instruction had been given by a Commonwealth department to the Army at a per capita fee approximating £26, but this amount was for tuition, only and was exclusive of administrative and overhead expenses incidental to the conduct of courses. This figure was mentioned to the Brisbane City Council as a basis for the computation of the instructional fee. After negotiation, a per capita fee of £52 for nile course, to include cost of instruction, materials, use of premises and apparatus, was submitted to the Central Reconstruction Training Committee for its (approval, which was accorded at the November meeting. The present position is that as soon as agreement has been reached as to the terms of the necessary regulation, training of electrical linemen in Queensland will commence.
Marnoo Post Office: Accommodation fob Employees - Supply of Telephones.
– On several occasions, without success, I have brought to the notice of the Postmaser-General the need to provide better accommodation f ot employees at the post office at Marnoo, Victoria. Now, in a recent report, the local medical officer for health, Dr. J. E. Thomas, states -
The Marnoo post office waa inspected by tile shi re health inspector. It was noted that the vear room at the back of the post office, size 10 ft. x 12 ft. approximately, was used to accommodate a switchboard, and to provide sleeping accommodation for the male operator on night duty. In the daytime the switch is operated 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.
– Order ! The honorable member is making too lengthy a quotation.
– In view of this new evidence will the Minister investigate the matter further?
– It must be a new experience for the Postmaster-General to receive representations from the honorable member, or any other honorable 2ii ember opposite, with respect to the working conditions of the employees of the Commonwealth, whether in the Postal Department or any other department.
-The Minister will not be in order in debating the question.
– I shall ask the Postmaster-General to see whether there is any substance in the honorable gentleman’s complaint, and if so, to consider what can be done to improve conditions. The Postmaster-General wants to build quite a number of new post offices in the various States; and the post office at Marnoo is probably no exception to the general rule that, hecause of war conditions and neglect on the part of past governments during the depression years, adequate and satisfactory facilities are not provided to-day. When man-power and materials become available the Government will repair the omissions of previous governments in this respect.
– In view of the fact that adequate materials are not available to meet applications for installation of telephones, will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General ascertain whether any order of precedence is followed in dealing with such applications?
– -I shall ash the PostmasterGeneral to provide me with information, which I shall transmit to the honorable member, as to whether there is an order of preference for telephone installations, and, if so, what that order is. I have an idea that for business, health and certain other reasons, preference is given in the allocation of telephones, but I am sure that the order of preference, whatever it is, is soundly based and properly administered.
south-western queensland service.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation say whether a licence has been, granted to a company to operate a passenger air service to towns in south-western Queensland? If so, does that involve the granting of assistance to local authorities to put aerodromes in a satisfactory order to enable the service to be carried out efficiently?
– Some considerable time ago a licence was granted for the operation of an airline in the southern areas of Queensland. Questions relating to the granting of assistance to local authorities for the purpose of building aerodromes have been answered by me in this House on a number of occasions. As I have indicated, it is not the practice of the Government to grant assistance to local authorities for the building of aerodromes, other than by way of advice, except in the case of those constructed on the accepted routes. An interdepartmental committee is at present examining 250 applications for licences which have been received from 80 different applicants. When the report of the committee has been received and examined the matter will be reconsidered.
– In view of certain questions asked by me last week relative to the proposed establishment of a testing range for guided projectiles in Central Australia, will the Minister for Defence state whether he lias any further information on the matter? Is it likely* that action to construct the range will be taken without the subject being first brought before the House for debate ? Is there authority for this statement which appears in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning under the heading, “Rocket Range Railway “. which reads as follows : -
A new railway costing nearly £1,000,000 and a huge water scheme are two undertakings which will be associated with the setting up of the rocket range in South Australia.
A new township with all facilities for a community of about 500 people will also be built?
– I hope to be in a position to make a statement on the subject on the motion for the adjournment to-day.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been drawn to a statement appearing in a newspaper circulating on the south coast of New South Wales, dated the 9th September, 1946, in which it is stated, under the heading, “Mr. Allan Fraser Cuts Red Tape”, that the managing director of Australian Fishing Industries Limited found he had been badly tangled mp in red tape when trying to obtain formal consent for the issue of 9 0,0 00 shares of £1 each for his company, that when Mr. Fraser was advised of- the position he wasted no time about getting things moving, that fortunately the Prime Minister had been taking a keen interest in the activities of the company and readily consented to intervene, and that the required consent was forthcoming within twenty-four hours of Mr. Chifley ‘s intervention and everything was now set “full steam ahead “, the nominal capital of the company being increased to £300,000 and the paid-up capital to £165,000? I ask the Treasurer whether that statement is correct in essence and whether the right honorable gentleman is aware that under the Fisheries and Oyster Farm (Amendment) Act of New South Wales all fish caught in New South Wales waters must be marketed through a governmentcontrolled market unless fishermen obtain an exemption from the Chief Secretary?
In view of allegations made by the honorable member for Wollondilly in the New South Wales Parliament, that AustralianFishing Industries Limited has been engaged in the black-marketing of fish in New South Wales, will the Treasurer have investigations made into these allegations, and, if they are proved correct, will he consider the withdrawal of his consent to the increase of the capital of the company and immediately institute proceedings against it.
– Representations have been made to me by various people on quite a number of occasions with regard to the establishment of certain organizations, or companies, associated with the fishing industry on the South Coast. Those representations have extended over the last couple of years. On one occasion, a project involved consultation with the New South Wales Fisheries Department, which is under the control of Mr. Baddeley. No representations have been made to me lately, although I am aware that negotiations on the subject were conducted by the Commonwealth Actuary, Mr. Balmford, of the Capital Issues Branch. As the transactions havebeen so prolonged and involved, I ask the honorable member to put his questions on the notice-paper, and I shall endeavour to answer them in detail. I have not seen the reports in the South Coast newspapers to which the honorable member refers.
Acquisition of Manchester Unity Building, Melbourne
– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether it is a fact that the Government has compulsorily acquired the Manchester Unity Building in Melbourne for Commonwealth purposes?Was this acquisition suddenly decided upon while negotiations for the leasing of this building were in progress? Will the Minister explain the reason for acquiring one of Melbourne’s largest buildings while there is an acute shortage of office space in the city? If the building has been bought, did the owners acquiesce in the transaction ?
– Protracted negotiations have taken place in connexion with this transaction. As far back as last July, the Commonwealth entered into negotiations with the trustees of Manchester Unity with a view to arriving at an amicable settlement for the purchase of this property, or, alternatively, for a lease covering a period satisfactory to the Government. In August, I received a number of representations on behalf of the trustees, asking me to defer the decision in order to afford Manchester Unity an opportunity to negotiate with the Government for a long-term lease.I agreed to defer action, but when negotiations eventually failed to yield a satisfactory result, the Government confirmed its previous decision to acquire the property.
– Is the Minister for External Territories aware that for nearly two months, no food ship has visited Port Moresby, that supplies of food are scarce, and that white residents have to pay a high price for it? What steps does the Minister intend to take to relieve the situation? Will he also explain why action was not taken earlier?
– Difficulties arising from the failure to maintain an adequate shipping service to the Territory, and various parts of it, have been receiving the constant attention of the department. I am aware that certain difficulties have arisen in the Territory of late. I do not consider that the position is so critical as the honorable member represented it to be, but I shall ascertain the facts for him and I hope to be able to furnish the information on the motion for the adjournment of the House to-day.
– Will the Minister for the Interior inform the House when it is proposed to appoint a Director of Lands for Darwin, and to revive the land board ? Will he state whether Bovril Estates, which owns the enormous station of Victoria River Downs, was successful in its recent appeal to the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, objecting to a resumption of 2,000 square miles of its holding for the land settlement of exservicemen ? Will the Minister assure the House that at a very early date, he will give a complete exposition of his intentions regarding land resumptions in the Northern Territory in the near future ?
– Some time ago, applications were called for the position of Lands Director for the Northern Territory. Numerous applications were received, and eventually a decision was reached by the department. However, the successful applicant has now intimated his intention of withdrawing.
– Because of the salary?
– The salary apparently was regarded as adequate in the first instance, otherwise, he would not have applied for the position. There’ are, I believe, other factors that have influenced the successful applicant. The resumption of the Bovril Estates property and other large estates in. the Northern Territory will be made in accordance with the law. The Government is anxious to resume large holdings upon the expiration of their leases, so that they may be subdivided and made available to new settlers. The honorable member’s third question relates to the land settlement of ex-servicemen. Apparently, he missed the Government declaration on this matter. I recall dealing with the Government’s policy on the settlement of ex-servicemen in the Northern Territory on the adjournment of the House one day during the last Parliament. The honorable member for the Northern Territory was present on that occasion. Other announcements of the Government’s intentions have been made, and there has been no alteration of policy since.
– by leave- Yester day, when referring to the danger of floating mines, the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) asked whether I would inform the House of the actual number of mines sown in the Barrier Reef waters during World War II. I have had an opportunity to consider this matter, and I do not think that it would be in the national interest to reveal the actual number of mines sown, but I can say that it runs into some thousands. The object of sowing the mines was to block passage through the Reef, leaving only channels for use by Allied shipping. In consequence, vessels of the allied nations were able to proceed in safety for a distance of 1,000 miles, protected by the Barrier Reef itself, and by the mine-fields.
– by leave - All shades of thought agree that Australia’s security, economic stability and destiny as a major Pacific power depend in large measure upon the success of the Commonwealth’s immigration programme. No country needs immigrants of the right type more urgently than does Australia. And no country has taken more energetic steps to secure them. Few countries can offer as much as ours to the new settler, and to few countries can the new settler, in turn, give so much in terms of security and economic expansion. We Australians are a young and virile people and our national heart beats strongly. But the body, of which that heart is the motivating force, is a huge land mass, an island continent of some three million square miles with 12,000 miles of coastline. Before a body of such vast dimensions can be operated at full efficiency, its heart must beat strongly and be fed by the extra life-blood which only new citizens can supply. There was a time just four years ago when Australia faced its gravest peril. Armies recruited from the teeming millions of Japan threatened to overrun our cities andbroad hinterland. They were so many. We were so few. To-day we are at peace. But, while all of us must work to perpetuate that peace, let us not forget that armed conflict remains a grim possibility, both in the New World and in the Old - a possibility against which we must guard with all the intelligence, all the realism, and all the energy that we can muster. Realizing, therefore, the crucial importance to Australia of a policy of planned immigration. it is with great pleasure that I am to-day able to review, for the benefit of honorable members, the substantial progress that has already been made in bringing our plans to fruition.
Tn the forefront of our entire immigration programme are the free ann assisted passage schemes designed to bring to these shores a steady now of the best possible immigrant types from the United Kingdom. So far, shipping difficulties have made it impossible for the Commonwealth and the United Kingdom Governments to declare these schemes open; yet inquiries already registered at Australia House, London, from people in the United Kingdom total 63,700. These cover approximately 153,000 people and disclose 866 occupational categories. Even so, the figures give no more than a token indication of the flood of applications which can he expected once the schemes come into o iteration and our publicity to encourage migration is intensified. The date for the opening of the free and assisted schemes will be determined by the United Kingdom and i he Commonwealth Governments as soon as possible. That date, however, is entirely dependent on the ability of both governments to reach agreement with British shipping companies as to the fares to be charged during the currency of both schemes. Nevertheless, I am hopeful that they will begin early in 1947. On the 5th April of this year, I made a statement to this House covering the terms of the agreements for free and -assisted passages which had been completed between the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Governments. Four months later, I gave a further review of the general immigration position. At a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers at Canberra on the 19th August, all aspects of immigration were discussed at length and certain recommendations were accordingly submitted to the Premiers Conference on the following day. The result was highly successful. All the States indicated their complete support of the Commonwealth Government’s plans, which will be carried out as a co-operative and coordinated effort between the Commonwealth and the State Governments. The
Commonwealth Government, will be reresponsible for the recruiting, medical examination, selection, and transportation of all British migrants brought henunder the free and assisted passage schemes, and for placing them in employment. The State Governments have undertaken the responsibility for their reception and accommodation on arrival and for their aftercare. In connexion with accommodation, the States have agreed to bear the cost of the migrants’ maintenance, where necessary, for a period of seven days after their arrival. The fares of migrants from the port of disembarkation to their final destination will be borne by the Government of the State in which they are settling, except when privately-owned transport has to be used. In that event, 50 per cent, of the cost will be met by the Commonwealth Government and 50 per cent, by the State Government concerned. It wai= agreed at the Premiers Conference that the Commonwealth and State Governments would jointly meet the capital expenditure on governmental establishment? in which migrants will be temporarily accommodated after their arrival. “With regard to capital expenditure by existing or new voluntary organizations for the accommodation of child and youth migrants, the States agreed to contribute onethird of this expenditure on items approved by the Commonwealth Government and the State Government concerned. It was left to the Commonwealth Government to determine how the remainder will be shared between it and the organization seeking financial assistance. Generally speaking, the Commonwealth will contribute one-third. At this stage. I emphasize once again that Government assistance is uniformly available to all religious and secular organizations wishing to introduce child migrants and youths into this country.
The question of the maintenance of British child migrants introduced under the auspices of voluntary migration organizations was also considered and determined at the Premiers Conference. The States agreed to pay 3s. 6d. a week for each child up to the age of fourteen years, and to continue this payment up to the age of sixteen years if the child were still at school. These contributions will be subject to the payment of Commonwealth child endowment of 7s. 6d. a week, and to the United Kingdom. Government con. tinning its weekly contribution of 5s. sterling - 6s. 3d. Australian currency - n child under the conditions now operating.
As child migration is in a special field of its own, it is essential that governmental over-sight should be exercised to ensure the well-being of migrant children brought to Australia. Honorable members will recall that, before the last Parliament closed, the Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act 1946 was passed. Under that Act, which will come into operation before the 31st December of this year, the legal guardianship of British evacuee children still remaining in this country, and of migrant children who will be brought out in the future, is vested in the Minister for Immigration. The legislation, which does not apply to immigrant children who come to Australia with, or live under the care of, their parents or relatives, provides that the Minister may delegate his powers of guardianship under the Act to State authorities, and it is proposed that thi? shall be done. This delegation may be revoked at the discretion of the Minister. Suitable persons or representatives of any authority or organization may be granted the custody of evacuee and migrant children. Generally speaking, those who sponsor the admission of such children will be granted custody of them. Regulations under the Act, and delegations of the power of guardianship to State authorities, are now being prepared.
In the early stages of the free and assisted passage schemes, many more immigrants are likely to be offering than can be carried in the shipping which will then be available. It will, therefore, be necessary to introduce a system of priorities for passages. The categories approved by the Premiers Conference were -
Married migrants, with ur without children-, but without nominators or assured accommodation, who are classed as essential workers- for Australian industry.
The foregoing order of priority relates to individual migrants, and can be varied when circumstances demand. Where the transfer of groups of workers is proposed for defence or other projects, such groups will be given a high priority of shipment, based on the urgency of the project.
Any system of priorities needs to be flexible in order to meet special cases or circumstances. In the early stages, preference will be given to single persons over family units within each category, solely because of transport and accommodation difficulties in relation to family units. Later, it may be practicable to grant family units priority over single persons.
The Premiers- Conference agreed on the procedure to be adopted betwen the Commonwealth and the States in handling nominations by persons or organizations or industrial concerns in Australia wishing to introduce migrants under the free and assisted passage schemes. These nominations will be submitted to the State immigration authorities, who will satisfy themselves as to bona fides of the nominators, particularly as to their ability to accommodate their nominees. The States will then forward their recommendations to the Commonwealth for approval, and upon this being given, particulars of the approved nominations will be forwarded to the .Migration Branch, High Commissioner’s Office London. Arrangments will then be made for the nominee to be medically examined, and, if he is adjudged a suitable migrant from health and other aspects, he will be accepted, and arrangements will be made for his passage. In the care of group nominations, where individuals are not named but only the number of persons required is stated, the Migration Branch, London, will recruit migrants in accordance with the specifications of the nomination.
Immigration publicity is most important. Following a plan adopted by the Premiers’ Conference, a system of close liaison on all publicity matters has been established between the Commonwealth and the States, and is functioning smoothly. Competition between States, or between the Commonwealth and the States, in the overseas publicity field, will thus be avoided, and there will be uniformity of appeal from the broad Australian aspect. The Commonwealth and the States are unanimous that no attempt should be made to fix a quota of migrants for each State on a. population basis. Instead, any allocation of migrants who are without nominators will be based on the absorptive capacity of each State to receive the newcomers.
As a result of decisions at the Premiers’ Conference, the States undertook, in conjunction with Commonwealth representatives, to make two important surveys - one survey relating to the facilities suitable for the temporary or transitory accommodation of migrants; the other covering the capacity of each State to absorb migrants during 1947. These surveys have nowbeen completed. The facts are being collated, and will be submitted to a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers which it is proposed to hold in Canberra next .month. In general, hovever, Commonwealth service establishments which are no longer required, or hostels that were established during wartime by the Commonwealth, will be used by the States for the temporary accommodation of migrants after their arrival. In some instances, State establishments will be renovated for this purpose.
A detailed estimate of the capacity of the States to absorb migrants has been made for each industry, and for individual occupations within each industry, so that when the Ministers meet they will have a comprehensive picture of Australia’s requirements for 1947, and will be able to determine the number of migrants in each division of industry which may be allotted to each State for that period.
So that persons or organizations wishing to nominate British migrants may be enabled to- do so, stocks of personal and group nomination forms have been printed and supplied to the State .immigration authorities for distribution to those interested.
Realizing that British service personnel who had been stationed in Australia during the war years represented a fruitful field for immigration, I agreed to special arrangements being made with the British authorities whereby permission was readily given by the Commonwealth for these men and women to remain permanently in Australia after their discharge from the forces. Subsequently, this opportunity was extended to mmbers of the British forces in India, the Middle East, and the Far East, the Australian Government representatives in those areas being given authority to grant approval to such applications. The only requirements in allowing British service personnel either to remain in Australia or to come out here after discharge are that they are of sound health and good character. Up to the present, over 4,500 applications >have been approved by my department, and more than 200 by Australian Government representatives overseas. Special facilities have, also been given to Allied servicemen, particularly of the United States and the Netherlands, to encourage them to remain here or to return to the Commonwealth after receiving their discharge in their homelands. Over 1,000 American servicemen have been granted their discharges in Australia, and in addition considerable numbers have been given permission to return to this country after discharge In the United States. Many Dutch servicemen and some Norwegian naval personnel have also been permitted to remain here permanently upon production of a satisfactory discharge.From the date of their arrival, the Commonwealth Government will make social service benefits available to British migrants under the free and assisted passage schemes, on the basis that they would be ordinarily resident in Australia. The question as to whether the application of these benefits may be extended to all categories of migrants is now being examined.
Provision has also been made by the Commonwealth Government for United Kingdom, Empire, and Allied exservicepersonnel to obtain the following reestablishment benefits after their arrival i n Australia : -
In addition, United Kingdom exservicepersonnel are eligible for free transportation from the port of disembarkation in Australia to their inland destination. They are. however, not eligible for preference under the Re-establishment and’ Employment Act 1945, and this fact is emphasized in all immigration literature distributed in the United Kingdom, so that there will be no misconceptions in. the minds of intending migrants.
This statement would not be completewithout a reference to the 600 building tradesmen from the United Kingdom, all ex-servicemen, who are being brought to Canberra by the Commonwealth under special arrangement with the United Kingdom Government to engage in the large works-and-housing programme in the Australian Capital Territory. They will be in specified numbers of different trade categories named by the Department of Works and Housing. The first quota of 200 men of various trades will leave the United Kingdom in the Largs Bay within the next ten days. A second quota will follow as soon as shipping arrangements are completed for them. Special housing accommodation is being provided for these men in reconditioned army huts, while the erection ofa hostel is also well on the way to completion.
Shipping remains the crux of the problem in bringing our migration plans to fruition. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) was in London earlier this year, it was indicated at a conference which he had with British shipowners that 35,000 migrants a year could be brought to Australia under troopship conditions, beginning late in 1947. The latest advice from the Australian High Commissioner in London is that the maximum lifting capacity of British shipping for migrants during 1947 will fall considerably below this and other previous estimates. The continued shortage of passenger shipping available for the United KingdomAustralia run, and the increased commitments of the United Kingdom in respect of other vessels which it was thought could be made available, are advanced as reasons for the new low estimate of the number of migrants who can be brought ti ere next year.
The United Kingdom Government views the problem of shipping in a global sense rather than from the strict limits of its implications to Australia. It holds that the requirements of British military necessity must be met, and that at least skeleton civilian traffic must be maintained. It emphasizes that every vessel available is fully employed, and that any alteration to these plans for some months to come would involve major disruption. The Australian High Commissioner is, however, making every effort to secure a much larger allocation of shipping for migrant purposes than is at present proposed. The Government is considering the practicability of constructing large passenger vessels, suitable for the carriage of migrants, by shipyards in Australia and the United Kingdom. Inquiries have also been instituted in the United States as to whether any suitable vessels could be obtained there either by purchase or charter for the carriage of migrants. Other avenues, too, are being explored, such as the use of aircraft carriers and the practicability of procuring foreign-owned passenger vessels to pick up migrants at United Kingdom ports. In view of the acute shipping position, the Government has also indicated to the Australian High Commissioner in London that it is prepared to consider contracting with owners to use ships under troopship conditions for a period of up to five years.
At present there are many Australians in the United Kingdom awaiting passages to their homeland, including 115 wives and widows, 44 children, and 426 fiancees of Australian ex-servicemen. The Australian High Commissioner is doing his utmost to obtain early passages for these categories, especially the exservicemen’s relatives, and it is expected that they will be provided with berths in the near future. I might here mention that to date, 3,290 wives, 94 widows, 1,179 children and 396 fiancees of Australian servicemen have been, brought out to Australia, from the United Kingdom.
In this statement I have so, far dealt mainly with British migration from the United Kingdom, which is first and fore mast in our plans. However, we are not unmindful of the fact that many thousands of desirable people on the European continent are anxious to settle in our land. It is hoped that the governments of these countries will be prepared to participate in plans on the lines of the free and assisted passage schemes which have been entered into between the governments of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. The Australian Minister to The Hague has already been requested to enter into negotiations with the Netherlands Government for an assisted passage scheme. The Swiss Government has no diplomatic representation in Australia, but the question of Swiss migration to this country has been discussed by the Secretary of the Department of Immigration, Mr. T. H. E. Heyes, with the Swiss Consul-General, and these discussions are being pursued. Negotiations with other friendly European governments will, I hope, be opened at an early date. When our plans for encouraging migrants from the European continent are developed, action will be taken to establish migration offices in appropriate foreign centres, so that facilities and encouragement may be accorded to those who want to make Australia their permanent home.
Then there is the tragedy of Europe’s army of displaced and persecuted people. As honorable members are aware, the various Allied governments have been subjected to strong pressure at international conferences to accept large quotas of these unfortunate men, women, and children. The Government, having regard to its responsibilities to Australian exservicemen, and having in mind the grave housing shortage still persisting throughout the Commonwealth, is not under present conditions in a position to commit itself in this matter; nevertheless, it considers that Australia should on humanitarian grounds make some contribution to the relief of certain of the distressed peoples of Europe. Approval has therefore been given for the admission of a limited number of these people, provided they are nominated by relatives ‘in Australia who are in a position and willing to accommodate and maintain them. The granting of vises to the holders of landing permits has been so arranged that such persons must embark in non-British ships from continental ports. The limited accommodation, at present available in British ships will continue to be reserved for returning Australians, for the wives and families and the fiancees of ex-servicemen, and for British migrants whose services and skill we urgently need.
While on the subject of foreign migration, I would like to emphasize that the Government’s immigration policy is based on the principle that migrants from the United Kingdom shall be given every encouragement and assistance. It is my hope that for every foreign, migrant there will be ten people from the United Kingdom. Only time will tell how far this hope can be realized. We have already given indubitable evidence of our preference for the United Kingdom migrant by entering into agreements with the United Kingdom government for the granting of free and assisted passages to suitable people from the United Kingdom. Aliens are and will continue to be admitted only in such numbers and of such classes that they can be readily assimilated. Every precaution is taken to ensure that they are desirable types, and they must satisfy consular or passport officers and security service officers that they are people of good character before their passports are vised for travel to Australia.
In my first statement as Minister for Immigration, on the 2nd August, 1945, I emphasized that too little regard has been paid in the past to the assimilation of aliens whom we admit as settlers. They were virtually left to go their own way, and little concern was felt as to whether or not they became an integral part of the general community and took their proper share in the affairs of this country. I repeat the words I used on that occasion -
We lui vo been too prone in the past to ostracize those of alien birth ami then blame them for segregating themselves and forming foreign communities. It is we, not they, who are generally responsible for this condition of affairs. Fortunately, we have only three areas in Australia where non-British migrants have tended to congregate in considerable numbers. One of these is in Shepparton, Victoria, the second is in the Lecton-Griffith irrigation area of New South Wales, and the third is on the northern canefields of Queensland. That these people can be absorbed into our community life in the course of one generation is proved by the fact that the Australian-born children of most foreign-born parents have played their part in the fighting services in the defence of Australia in this war and regard themselves as Australians, having equal citizenship rights and bearing equal national responsibilities with every other Australian.
Honorable members must agree that a policy which allowed foreign migrants to be regarded with indifference, or with veiled hostility, cannot serve the best interests of Australia. We propose to take action to remedy this state of affairs. Among the steps which I contemplate is the setting up at an early date of an advisory body to deal with all matters affecting the immigration of aliens to Australia. I hope to utilize the services of such members of the Immigration Advisory Committee as are available and willing to serve on this advisory body. It will be recalled that the Immigration Advisory Committee, under the chairmanship of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), after the conclusion of the International Labour Conference in September, 1945, inquired into the question of immigration to Australia in the north-western countries of Europe.
The committee, which is to prepare a booklet on the lines of a similar American publication for the benefit of alien newcomers, will commence its labours at an early date. The members of this committee are: Mr. Haylen, M.P. (Chairman) ; Professor R. C. Mills, Director of the Commonwealth Office of Education; Mr. John Horgan, Assistant Secretary (Restricted Immigration), Department of Immigration, and Mr. Auburn C. Williams, of the Department of Information. The booklet, written in simple language, will give the alien an outline of our historical and cultural background, our social structure and mode of government, an appreciation of our way of life, and what Australia stands for as a nation. It will bring home to him the privileges and benefits which derive from Australian citizenship, and will better fit him to take his place as a partner in our great Commonwealth.
It is my belief that the present procedure connected with the taking of the oath of allegiance by applicants for naturalization leaves much to be desired. At present, the prospective new citizen merely attends his local courthouse and takes the oath before a magistrate or a clerk of courts.It seems to me, however, that such an occasion calls for a dignified induction ceremony that would serve to instil into the minds of applicants a proper appreciation of the value of the new citizenship, which carries with it certain obligations and responsibilities as well as privileges and benefits. Such a ceremony, based on the American practice, would, 1 feel sure, produce the same excellent results as have been achieved in the United States. I propose to give this question fuller consideration in the near future, and will submit plans to the next conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers on immigration, and seek the cooperation of State authorities in carrying out this plan.
With regard to children from Europe, who may be introduced under the auspices of any denomination or nondenominational voluntary migration organization, the Government has decided to pay the cost of their transport from the port of embarkation to Australia.
Arrangements for Maltese migration to Australia will in due course be made with the Government of Malta, but,because of the small population of that island, it is not likely to reach large proportions. The Maltese are British subjects, whose record during the war was a magnificent one, and their compatriots who have settled in Australia in the past have proved themselves industrious workers and good citizens.
It is the Government’s intention to continue with the efforts it launched during the last Parliament for the removal of the disabilities endured by married women under existing nationality laws. As Minister for Immigration, I appointed a committee to consider the practical and legal difficulties involved in the possession by husband and wife of different nationalities, and to suggest what steps might he taken to overcome or minimize these difficulties. The committee, under the chairmanship of Senator Dorothy Tangney, comprised the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons), and representatives of the National Council of Women of Australia, the women’s committee of the Australian Labour party, the Australian Country Women’s Association, the Attorney-General’s Department, and the Department of Immigration. In its report, the committee recorded its endorsement of the proposed legislation agreed to by members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, to provide -
The committee also recom mended that -
) he was born in a part of the British Dominions which at the time of his birth was in hostile occupa tion ; or
Honorable members will recall that before the expiration of the last Parliament I introduced a hill to provide that a British woman who married a foreigner in Australia shall in this country be regarded as having retained her British nationality, whether or not she acquires her husband’s nationality. This act was proclaimed to commence on the 7th November, 1946. In passing I may mention that the women members of the committee referred to above sponsored a vote congratulating the
Government for having introduced this bill, which, in the words of the honorable member for Darwin, “means a big advance so far as the -national status of married women in this country is concerned “.
Parliament also passed an act to enable residents of the Territory of New Guinea to become naturalized British subjects in Australia. This legislation will prove a boon to many worthy residents who have done so much to develop the resources, and improve the conditions, of the native inhabitants of a territory so closely linked with this country.
A conference of nationality experts of countries of the British Commonwealth will be held in London early in the New Year. Australia’s representatives will be Mr. John Horgan, Assistant Secretary (Restricted Immigration) in the Department of Immigration, who will act as technical adviser, and the SolicitorGeneral, Professor Kenneth H. Bailey, who will act as legal adviser. Prom a nationality point of view, the matters to be discussed at the conference will be of r,he highest importance to all members of the British Commonwealth. These will include problems arising from the recently enacted Canadian Citizenship Act, questions relating to the national status of women and children, and the granting of Empire-wide naturalization to residents of mandated territories, inchiding the Territory of New Guinea.
The administration of the Government’s immigration plans represents, not only a heavy responsibility, but also a very considerable expansion of my department’s activities. For the convenience of the public, and to facilitate the handling of immigration in all its aspects, branch offices of the department have been established in all the States except Tasmania, where an office will be opened shortly. Attention has been paid also to the Migration Branch at Australia House, which has been re-organized and augmented by the appointment from Australia of a number of permanent officers from the Commonwealth Public Service. In addition, some Royal Australian Air Force personnel, who were officers of the Commonwealth Public Service before the war, took their discharges in London, and were transferred from their old departments to the staff of the Department of Immigration in England. The migration staff now at Australia House should be sufficient to cope with the huge volume of inquiries being received there from prospective migrants. A highly skilled officer, with an extensive knowledge of industrial and trades union matters in Australia, has been appointed to the London staff. His appointment was endorsed by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, and among his duties are the advising of intending migrants on industrial conditions in Australia, their eligibility to join trade unions on arrival, and all matters affecting their trade qualifications.
A senior medical officer has also been sent from Australia to London to see that no departure is made from the medical standards laid down by the Government for intending migrants. “While these standards will ensure that the migrants accepted for Australia are good physical types, they are not such as would defeat our aims of inducing fullscale migration to this country.
Honorable members on both sides of the House will agree, in the light of the facts which I have placed before them, that the Government is planning immigration thoroughly and imaginatively, and is doing its utmost to induce a large flow of newcomers to this country. As with all large projects of a national character, progress is not always made as quickly as we would desire, particularly when retarding factors exist over which we have no control, such as the present dearth of shipping. We are, however, progressing as rapidly as circumstances permit, and I make no idle boast” when I say that Australia’s planning in this post-war era is far ahead of that of any other country inside the British Commonwealth of Nations, which is interested in encouraging settlers to its shores. This fact is generally recognized overseas.
The vital necessity for considerably increasing the population of this country, from both the defence and economic aspects, cannot be too greatly or too often emphasized. If we are to take our rightful place in world affairs; if we are to ensure the future security of our nation, our population must be greatly augmented, both by natural increase and by planned immigration. Nevertheless, the Government also realizes that any attempt to bring great numbers of migrants into Australia without adequate provision being made for their reception, accommodation and employment, would only react against migration to this country and defeat the very objectives at which the Government aims and which it is determined to achieve. The days of our isolation are over. We live in an age when the earth’s surface seems to be contracting under the influence of scientific discoveries that almost baffle our imagination. The call to all Australians is to realize that without adequate numbers this wide brown land may not be held in another clash of arms, and to give their maximum assistance to every effort to expand its economy and assimilate more and more people who will come from overseas to link their fate with our destiny.
Because I believe these things, I regard the portfolio of immigration as being as important to the defence of our nation as is any service portfolio. In this spirit, I shall continue to address myself with all the energy and enthusiasm I possess to the discharge of my ministerial responsibilities. I ask for, and expect from, all Australians of goodwill the same understanding and appreciation of the problem of building up our national strength as was so generously given by them to the governments of the war years in their great task of ensuring the maintenance of our Australian way of life and our very national existence. I lay on the table the following paper: -
Immigration - Government Policy - Fourth MinisterialStatement, 22nd November, 1946 and move -
That thepaper be printed.
– I rise to order. I ask for a ruling as to whether the motion might result in a ruling being given that the subject-matter of the Minister’s statement shall be excluded from the budget debate and the discussion of the Estimates covering the Department of Immigration.
– If, by a resolution of the House, the debate on the Minister’s motion be adjourned, and the adjourned debate then appears on the notice-paper, that will preclude any mention of the subject, until the motion has finally been disposed of.
– In that event, I suggest that the Minister should consider withdrawing his motion.
– If the Minister does not ask leave to withdraw his motion,I suggest that discussion of the subject referred to by him. could be achieved by carrying the motion now. That would then dispose of it, and honorable members would be free to debate the subject of immigration in connexion with the budget and Estimates.
– Are we to understand from your ruling that if the Government wishes to preclude any discussion of a subject because it fears criticism, a Minister has only to read a statement to the House, and move that it be printed, and that in the event of the debate being adjourned, that would be a bar to further discussion of the subject?
– I point out that the Minister could not have made his statement this morning had any honorable member raised objection. In the circumstances, it seems a little unfair to suggest that after the House has unanimously given the Minister the right to make a statement, the Minister will take steps to prevent discussion of the subject.I have already indicated that the simplest way to meet the situation which has arisen would be for the Minister to ask leave to withdraw the motion, or for the motion to be carried. The latter course would clear the subject from the notice-paper, in which event honorable members would have complete freedom of discussion.
Mr.Calwell. - I made the motion after having made an arrangement with a member of the Opposition who informed me that the parties opposite desired to debate the statement.I acted entirely in good faith whenI moved that the statement be printed, believing that the Opposition did, in fact, desire to debate the statement. Any suggestion of mala fides on my part is therefore improper aud unfair. Neither I nor the Government had any ulterior motive in having the statement made to the House.
– I rise to order. Before the Minister made his statement I said that I wished to ask a question on this subject, as I wanted to know whether we could discuss immigration.
– There is no point of order. I thought that I had made the position clear to all except, perhaps, new members of the House. In order that all honorable members may understand the position, I now inform them that when a Minister moves that a paper be printed bh e normal procedure is for some member of the Opposition to move that the debate be adjourned. If the motion be carried the adjourned debate is then made an order of the day for a later occasion, and it appears on the notice-paper. That having been done, no further reference can be made to the subject until the debate on the adjourned motion is resumed.
– That means that we are “ gagged “.
– Order ! If the honorable member for Moreton does not voluntarily “ gag “ himself, I shall deal with him. He should know that, when the Speaker is on his feet, he must be heard in silence. The Minister for Immigration has moved that his statement be printed. I do not wish to influence the House, but I point out that the simplest way to meet the situation which has arisen is either for the Minister to be given leave to withdraw the motion, or for the House to carry it. In malting that suggestion I am merely trying to make clear to all honorable members a way by which the subject-matter of the paper may be discussed on the budget and the Estimates.
– I have followed your ruling closely, Mr. Speaker, and I take it to mean that after a Minister has made :i long statement to the House, and has moved that it be printed, in the event of another honorable member obtaining the adjournment of the debate no motion on the business paper dealing with the same subject may be proceeded with until the debate on the adjourned motion has con cluded. If I followed your ruling correctly, that would mean that the motion of which I gave notice some days ago, and which now appears on the notice-paper, could not be discussed. Am I correct in so interpreting your ruling?
– No. My ruling would not have that effect.
– A notice of motion in my name ‘appears on the notice-paper.
– The honorable member’s motion will remain on the notice-paper until it has been disposed of, but in the period intervening between the carrying of the motion now before the Chair - if it be carried - and the calling on of the honorable member’s motion no reference could, he made to the subject-matter of the honorable member’s motion, nor could the debate on it bc anticipated.
– If the debate on the Minister’s statement be adjourned, will T be prevented from proceeding next Thursday with my motion?
Ma-. SPEAKER. - No. The honorable member may proceed with his motion at the appropriate time. Does the Minister for Immigration wish to withdraw his motion ?
– If the House carries the motion “ That the paper be printed “, the whole subject of immigration may then be discussed during the budget debate.
– I rise to order. When a. member has given notice of motion designed to initiate a debate upon a specific subject that subject may not be debated until the motion has been made. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it is in order for the Minister to obtain leave to make a statement which bears upon the subject-matter of a motion already appearing on the notice-paper ?
– I cannot agree with the honorable member’s contention. It will be observed that the notice of motion given by the honorable member for Reid deals with the tabling of papers relative to a number of aliens who came to Australia in certain circumstances, the applications for permission for them to enter
Australia, and to the text of the representations made through Australia House to the British Ministry of Transport upon the subject. As the motion refers to a specific body of migrantswho came to Australia on a specific ship, and to the documents covering the negotiations For their passage, it could not be regarded as covering the whole subject of immigration. I make it clear again that if the House carries the motion “ That the paper be printed “ it will be competent for honorable members to discuss all aspects of immigration, with the exception of the specific matter dealt with by the motion on the notice-paper standing in the name of thehonorable member for Reid.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr.Lemmon) agreed to -
Thatit is expedient that an appropriation of moneys he made for the purposes of a bill for an act to authorize the raising of moneys to be advanced to the States for the purposes of housing.
Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted.
That Mr.Lemmon and Mr. Pollard do prepare and bring in abill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Lemmon, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to obtain parliamentary approval for further advances to the States of capital funds totalling £10,000,000 in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement Act 1945. Of the appropriation of £15,000,000 granted twelve months ago, £6,795,000 had been advanced to the States at the 30th June last, leaving a balance of £8,205,000 available towards the current year’s expenditure. In August last, the Loan Council approved of a works programme which included £12,565,000 for rental housing under the housing agreement. The provision of £10,000,000 which is now sought will cover expenditure to the end of the current financial year and, in addition, enable the building programme to continue in the early months of 1947-48.
– I ask that the debate be adjourned.
– I desire that the secondreading debate be proceeded with because, if the debate be adjourned, I am afraid that I shall be precluded-
– Order ! The Chair has not yet called an honorable member to speak to the motion. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) rose sumultaneously with the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has intimated that the honorable member for Balaclava would deputize for him during the second - reading debate on this bill.
– I desire to make a personal explanation.
– The right honorable member is not entitled to make a personal explanation. It is competent for any honorable member to move that the right honorable member for Darling Downs be heard. If the House so decides, he will be heard.
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) negatived -
That the right honorable memberfor Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) be now heard.
.- As the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) wishes to speak now, I shall not ask for the adjournment of the debate.
– The honorable member realizes that by his action he forfeits his right to speak to the bill?
– I take this opportunity to proceed with the debate on this bill because, under the ruling given by Mr. Speaker this morning, if the debate were adjourned now, I would be prevented from referring to the subject-matter and the basic principles of this measure during the budget debate. I have given specific consideration to the very elements that are contained in this bill, and I propose to offer some criticism of it, if only for the purpose of drawing the attention of home builders, borrowers and the public generally to what I consider to be the financial principles which should be adopted by this Government. Under the original legislation governing the housing agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, authority was given to the Government to raise by way of loan and the issue of treasury-bills a maximum amount of £15,000,000 for the building of houses. The purpose of the measure is to authorize the raising of money to be made available to the States for housing. The Government now seeks to increase the amount that can be raised by way of loans or treasury-bills by £10,000,000. We are told that of the £15.000.000 granted approximately twelve months ago, £6,795,000 had’ been advanced ro the States at. the 30th June last, leaving a balance of £S,205,000 available towards the current year’s expenditure. We are also told that in August last the Loan Council approved a works programme which included £12,565,000 for rental housing under the housing agreement; and that the provision of £10,000,000 which is now sought will cover expenditure to the end of the current financial year, and, in addition, enable the building programme to continue in the early months of 1947-48. lt appears from the Treasurer’s statement of consolidated revenue for October last, the latest figures available, that the sum of £4,260,000, made available to the States for housing, may have been raised by the issue of treasury-bills. I do not know; the position is obscure. Loans for housing to the States are shown at £4,260,000, and it may be purely a coincidence that there is also shown a treasury-bill raising for works of exactly that amount. The specific point I make is that treasury-bills carry interest at the rate of 1 per cent., and according to the statement just made by the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) a substantial proportion of the finance required for housing will be raised by the issue of treasury-bills. Is the Commonwealth raising money by the issue of treasury-bills, which carry interest at the rate of 1 per cent., and loaning that money to the States at a rate of interest that, according to a reply given to a question I asked on the subject, has not yet been determined with respect to treasurybill raisings, but in respect of loan raisings is 3£ per cent. - the rate which the Commonwealth pays in respect of its loan moneys? The Government of Queensland is loaning money to home builders, and in respect of such loans has reduced the rate of interest from 4 per cent, to 3$ per cent. What I want to know is this : Is the Commonwealth borrowing money at 1 per cent, and lending that money to the State governments for housing at a rate of interest not yet determined, but, at the same time, is allowing the State governments to lend that money to home builders at a rate of 3$ per cent.? That point must bc clarified, because it is obvious that the cost of building homes must be kept to a. minimum. If the Government can raise money at 1 per cent., it cannot justify on any ground whatever a system under which home seekers .are obliged to pay interest, at a rate of 3£ per cent. Costs of building materials of all kinds arc sky high. As a matter of fact, the whole subject of the cost of building homes? calls for thorough investigation. A discrepancy is apparent which is out of all proportion even to the increased cost of materials during the last few years; and this discrepancy should be fully investigated. Interest is a substantial element in the costs which home builders are obliged to meet. I want to know whether it is the Government’s policy to borrow money by way of treasury-bills at a rate of interest of 1 per cent., and allow the States to relend that money at a rate of 3f per cent., on which basis, of course, the States will make a handsome profit?
.- I find it is impossible to follow the tortuous reasoning of the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) who is reputed to be an outstanding expert on finance. In his remarks on this subject, which is highly technical but not very difficult, lie has displayed an amazing lack of knowledge of elementary facts which are available to any one who wishes to study the subject. I shall not pursue that aspect further. There are a number of other aspects. The first is the present grievous shortage of housing, which we inherit as a legacy from past administrations. The shortage was accentuated during the war when we were unable to build houses. It is not sufficient for the Government to point only to those facts. It must make every effort to build more homes ; and I am confident the new Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) will overcome all remaining obstacles and speed up the construction of homes. The present shortage of houses is not due to lack of purchasing power in the community. Indeed, as the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) pointed out last night, the demand for houses has become most accentuated during the last few years as the result of the transfer of greater purchasing power to those sections of the community which were less favoured in that respect under past governments. The problem of housing is of the first magnitude. I am confident that the Government will soon remove all obstacles that stand in the way of speeding up home building, and that it will not be content to rest upon any laurels which itmay have earned up to date. Already, steps have been taken bo cheapen the cost of building homes by substantially reducing interest rates, an announcement to this effect having been made by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) within the last few days. The provision of loans at reasonable rates of interest will reduce building costs. However, as the result of talks I have had with the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Sheehy) and other honorable members who have an expert knowledge of the subject, I am convinced that the major element in the present high cost of housing arises from the shortage of building materials. Obviously, contractors must budget for possible delays at every stage of construction, and every possible cost must be included in their estimates or tenders. The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Sheehy) laid his finger upon the real problem. That may offer the greatest opportunity to re duce costs. Factors which make it vital that building costs shall be reduced are: first, the costs are too great for the average wage-earner to meet; secondly, interest payable upon this inflated value must remain a constant burden upon the earnings of the worker; and thirdly, as conditions return to normal, competition alone will depress to-day’s inflated values. The person who purchases a new house at the present time stands to lose a considerable part of his equity in it during the next few years. For those reasons, I urge the Government to carry on with its vigorous programme to overtake the housing shortage and make, as I know it intends to do, an all-out attack upon the deplorable slums and sub-standard tenements that exist in all our major cities.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
In Committee of Supply: Considera tion resumed from the 21st November (vide page 494), on motion by Mr.
That the first item in the Estimates under Division No. 1 - The Senate - namely. “Salaries and Allowances. £8,870”, be agreed to.
Upon which Mr. Menzies had moved by way of amendment -
That the first item be reduced by £1, as an instruction to the Government - to withdraw the budget and redraft it as to include reductions in taxation upon personal incomes.
.- 1 understand that, in accordance with parliamentary practice, honorable members allow a new member who is making his maiden speech, an uninterrupted hearing. I arn not in the least perturbed about tinpossibility of interjections, because what 1 am about to say may invite them. I desire to refer to an honorable member about whom I feel very grave concern. In order that honorable members shall be aware of the cause of my concern, 1 crave indulgence to read an extract from the Swan Express which circulates in a portion of my electorate. It is entitled “ Sympathy for Mr. Mountjoy “, and reads -
Amongst the flood of telegrams received by Mr. Don. Mountjoy in sympathy was one from-
Mr. Lea. Haylen which typifies them all. “ My sorrow at your defeat is tinged with the knowledge that commandos can be killed but their spirit survives. I wish the people of Swan could have known what we thought of yon in Parliament. Personally it will not be the same place without you and new faces will not compensate. You might have been a oncer in the Federal Parliament but I think you are a most courageous member in that you would never trade a principle for a vote. I am writing to you later. [ read that telegram, because 1 desire to tell the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and other honorable members that the people of Western Australia, and particularly the electors of Swan, do not like the coupling used with the word “ commando “. I am not in the least disturbed, by what the honorable member thinks of my physiognomy. I shall be a member of the House of Representatives for a long while to worry him. Indeed, he and some of his friends have every reason to feel profound concern about another face in this chamber which is very close to him. By saying those words, I have probably invited interjections from honorable members opposite during the remainder of my speech. However, that prospect does not disturb me.
In my opinion, the Labour Government may be described as “something in a woollen overcoat with the word “ Labour “ printed on the back “. Perhaps the principal plank of the platform of the Labour party is the attainment of a high standard of living for the people. But this Government’s policy does not seek that objective. En order to improve the standard of living, we must have the maximum production of goods. Without that, wc cannot get proper distribution; and without distribution, the people will not enjoy a high standard of living. To support my contention, I quote the words of Mr. F. P. Walsh, a stalwart of the Labour movement in New Zealand -
It is Labour’s responsibility to work for the maximum- production of goods and services, and anything which stands in the way is contrary to the best interests of Labour.
Therefore, I agree with the remark by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) on the Address-in-Reply, that the present Government is insincere. Other honorable members have already referred to the widespread industrial unrest, and I do not intend to add any comment, other than that while any government, regardless of its political beliefs, condones industrial stoppages, it is not acting in the best interests of the people. Whenever a stoppage occurs, not only wages but also goods are lost. That encourages black markets, and reduces the standard of living, and such conditions cannot be restored to normal in a short time. Honorable members who represent constituencies in the eastern States could profit from what is now happening in Western Australia. The President of the Arbitration Court- is seriously considering the application -of the strong arm of the law by imposing fines on those persons who are wantonly causing chaos in industry. If we are to obtain maximum production of goods and services, which. is supposed to be the aim of the Labour party, the people must be anxious and willing to work. We must also endeavour to encourage business people to expand their enterprises and increase their efficiency.. Is the Government doing that to-day? I say that it is not. In fact, its attitude is diametrically opposed to any such scheme. It is most alarming to meet in the streets people who say, “ I am having a holiday to-day. I am not going to work because the greater portion of the reward for my efforts is going to ‘ Chif ‘ “. This attitude is most exasperating to men who returned to this country after five or six years’ service in the armed forces, and particularly to prisoners of war returning from Malaya and other Japaneseoccupied countries. This state of affairs still exists, and so long as the Government permits it to exist, incalculable harm will be done to the people of Australia. What is the cause of absenteeism to-day? Last year absenteeism on the New .South Wales coal-fields cost this country 1,300,000 tons of coal. That is quite apart from the huge loss caused by stoppages. The cause of the absenteeism was nothing more or less than excessive taxes, and absenteeism to-day in almost every industry is clue to the same cause. The last reduction of income tax conceded by the Government only paid back to taxpayers the amount that the Government had received in excess of its expected revenue from this source. This budget provides for a reduction of indirect taxes, and whilst I agree that these taxes should be reduced, I ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) how these concessions can possibly result in the production of more goods. There is only one way to increase production, and that is to induce people to work harder, and to encourage business organizations to extend their undertakings.
This country experienced six years of war, but in all that time, it was not hurt materially one iota. Because of its geographical position and its importance in the South-West Pacific theatre of war, Australia was called upon to increase its industrialization, with the result that our development during the war years was as great as it would have been in 30 years of peace. To-day, however, production is stagnant. We cannot get coal, power, timber, nails, screws, giass, cement-
– Or cigarettes.
– No. Somebody in Queensland is getting those. The shortage of the materials that I have mentioned means that homes cannot be built. There is also a scarcity of food and clothing. When the people of this country realize that food producers are ploughing their products back into the ground, they will wake up. Fruit is being allowed to fall to the ground. In my electorate alone, dozens of orchardists have allowed fruit crops to rot, and this year, thousands of cases of fruit will meet a similar fate; yet it is difficult for the people of this country to buy fruit. One orchardist alone, living within 30 miles of Perth, allowed 2,000 cases of oranges to rot because he knew that if he harvested them, the return for his work, after purchasing cases and paying transport costs, would not have been more than one week’s wages.
The budget gives no indication of early reductions of direct taxes. I suggest to the Prime Minister and to the Government, that the only way to get the people of this country to work contentedly is to reduce the direct income tax. They do not regard indirect taxes as a burden. In fact, many of them do not know what indirect taxes are levied. They become dissatisfied only when their purses are touched directly. I wonder whether the Prime Minister has been studying recent happenings in Western Australia. Over there we have a racehorse named “ Taxation “. Up to date this horse has not returned any profits to its backers. It has only given them headaches like those caused by direct taxes. Like the taxpayers of this country the followers of that horse are waiting for the day when it will be favourite. No doubt the Prime Minister and members of the Government will be pleased when they hear over the air the people shouting with one voice, “ Come on ‘ Taxation ‘ - you beaut “.
In regard to the housing problem,I only wish to suggest to the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) - I am sure he will accept the suggestion because he is a Western Australian and not one of the alleged “wise men of the East “ - that in any future home-building programmes, an adequate area of ground be allotted to each dwelling. I would suggest nothing smaller than quarter-acre blocks. There should be adequate space for children to play and for gardens.
Before leaving the subject of taxation, I should like to say something about the reduction of1d. a gallon in the price of petrol. When the Federal Aid Roads Agreement came into operation, the object was that main roads boards and local governing authorities should be given financial assistance for the maintenance of existing roads and the construction of new ones. Last year, the Government collected £10,000,000 by means of the petrol tax, but gave to the States only £3,000,000 for the construction and maintenance of roads. To-day, particularly in Western Australia, and, I believe, also in New South Wales, local-governing bodies are finding difficulty in keeping existing roads in a reasonable state of repair. I urge the Government to allocate a larger proportion of its revenue from the petrol tax direct to local governing authorities, so that they may provide the roads that are necessary if producers are to be enabled to reduce their costs of production.
Being a primary-producing country, we cannot make any real progress until the financial position of our primary producers is sound. I favour the creation of primary products export boards, with majority representation for the growers. These authorities should not be of the kind constituted by the former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. Growers’ representatives should be elected by the growers themselves, and should be responsible to the growers for their actions. Such boards should .advise the Government on costs of production, marketing, appraisement, and the financial assistance required by various industries. They should also consider such important matters as the stabilization of primary industries through international agreements, compulsory pools, and any other methods that may be desirable. Primary producers, particularly those engaged in export industries, do not desire to go back to the pre-war system of disposing of primary products. In fact, I am afraid that a reversion to pre-war methods would mean open revolt.
– That is where honorable members opposite . would put these industries.
– I welcome that interjection by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod), who got into this House with the assistance of the Australian Country party, because it leads me to speak of the effect of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Act. That is the mo3t insincere piece of legislation ever passed through this Parliament.
– And the honorable member is the most insincere representative of the wheat-farmers in this chamber.
– I know the honorable member’s type. In 1937, Labour party candidates at the elections promised the wheat-growers that, if they were returned to power, they would immediately introduce legislation to give effect to stabilization plans that the growers had been advocating ever since the commencement of the depression. They made that promise in the knowledge that the wheatgrowers were willing to accept stabilization only on the basis of the cost of production, pins a margin of profit.
– What did the Australian Country party do for the wheatgrowers when it had the power to help them?
– It gave £30,000,000 to the wheat-growers during the depression, but. the Labour party did not give them even a penny during the four years in which it was in power. It robbed them. Anti-Labour governments had many problems to solve, and when we asked for a stabilization scheme, we were told that the cost to the nation would be too great. However, when a Labour government had the opportunity to implement a plan which would not have cost the country a penny, it failed to do so. It robbed the wheat-growers.
– Anti-Labour governments would not help the wheat-growers.
– I was growing wheat when the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) was Prime Minister, and I sent the right honorable gentleman a “ collect “ telegram asking for help. In return for my sour lemon 1 received a stinging nettle, and I liked it. A Labour government introduced legislation for wheat industry stabilization, providing for a guaranteed minimum price of 5s. 2d. a bushel t’.o.r. at ports, and to use the words of the Minister for Works and ‘ Housing, it was a case of “ take it or leave it “. At the moment, I am not concerned with the other provisions of the act. That was the basis of the legislation, and anything founded on a weak basis will topple. The scheme is toppling now. I charge the Labour party with having deliberately introduced the legislation in the knowledge that the Legislative Councils of the States would reject the complementary legislation which must be passed by the State parliaments before the scheme can come into operation. The Government said that vested interests “ squealed “ when they introduced this legislation, but the Government threw the wheat-growers to the wolves.
Honorable members interjecting,
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Clark).Order! The honorable member is entitled to he heard in silence. This is his maiden speech in this Parliament, and I ask honorable members on both sides of the chamber to cease interjecting.
– He is very provocative.
– I know that; but he is a new member.
– I repeat that the Chifley Government knew that the scheme would be overthrown by the State parliaments. That is why it included the marketing question in the 1946 referendum proposals. It knew that this would cause the people to reject the proposals. The next objection to the stabilization legislation is that it fixes a period of five years for the operation of the scheme. Will any supporter of the Government say that five years is long enough for the plan to he thoroughly tested? Another nasty provision is that, should any wheatgrower stop producing wheat as the result of unforeseen circumstances during the period of operation of the scheme, he would not be permitted to withdraw from the stabilization fund any money that he had contributed to it. His only hope would be that he might be allowed to share in the distribution of the fund should the scheme be terminated at the end of five years. That would be a very faint hope. When one realizes that a man who grows a miserable crop of 3,000 bushels a year will be obliged to contribute an amount of £150, or £3 a week, as a contribution to the fund-
– Shame !
– Shame? The Government does not know what it is. After compulsorily acquiring the 1945-46 wheat crop under national security regulations, the Government had the audacity to include it in the stabilization scheme. I dare any member of the Government to go to any group of trade unionists, whether they be coal-miners, waterside workers or timber workers, and say to them : “ Listen, comrades, we will stabilize your wages for the next four years, but in order that we may do so you must give us three-tenths of your earnings for this year “. That is what the Government did to the wheat-growers. In order to stabilize the industry for four years, it took the 1945-46 crop away from them. I have heard a lot about concessional prices. We oppose the fixing of concessional prices for wheat. If the Government wants to give concessions to men struggling in a small way, such as poultry-raisers, why did it take £500,000 away from such men? It should be consistent. It is supposed to represent unionism. I remind it that in Australia there are farmers’ unions and a A there are farmers’ unions and primary producers’ associations. There are similar organizations in New Zealand. The former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. .Scully) was asked whether the Commonwealth Government had made any arrangements with the Government of New Zealand about wheat sales, as announced by Mr. Sullivan, a member of the New Zealand Government. The Commonwealth Minister said one thing; the New Zealand Minister said something else. Both could not be right, nor could both be wrong. I am prepared to believe the statement of my fellow unionist in the New Zealand Farmers Union, who said -
It would appear to me that your Labour Government baa assisted our Labour Government to the detriment of the producers.
In other words, one union was pitted against another in order to defeat the farmers of New Zealand, who were holding out against their Government for an increased price of 7s. Id. a bushel for their wheat. I say that an arrangement was made between the Commonwealth and New Zealand. The Government says that it is anxious to protect the interests of the wheat-growers. Although I have been rather caustic in my criticism of the Government during the last few months, I also hope to be constructive. I tell the Government now that, if it introduces legislation for a stabilization plan based on the cost of production, plus a margin of profit, it will have 100 per cent, support from the wheat-growers of Australia. While wheat can be sold at the prevailing high price, such a scheme would not cost the taxpayers of the country one penny. I beg the Government to introduce the legislation while it has the chance to do so. The farmers are determined to have such a scheme. They want it to be introduced now while prices are good, so that they may establish a reserve fund and not be obliged to come to the people, cap in hand, should prices fall again as they did in 1929-30. Here is a golden opportunity for the Government to act. We heard something about a “ golden era “ during the budget speech.
– I suggest to the Government that, following the rejection of complementary legislation by State parliaments-which I feel sure will occur - it should redraft the wheat stabilezation plan. In common with 60,000 other wheat-growers, L am very much in favour of the stabilization of the wheat industry. But we want a scheme based on these factors: Cost of production, plus a margin of profit, for a period of ten years so that the scheme may be well tried out - to my way of thinking, ten years is the shortest period in which such a scheme can be balanced; the exclusion of any crops which may have been acquired compulsorily under National Security Regulations - the operation of which, I understand, may be extended in relation to wheat; the right of equity of the farmers in the stabilization fund to be established, and no concessional prices. We have no objection to the Government supporting smaller industries if it wishes to do so, but we do object to one section of the community being called upon to bear the cost of keeping other industries in a flourishing condition.
I shall now touch on rehabilitation. As honorable members are aware, the rehabilitation of the ex-service man and woman is governed by the Reestablishment and Employment Act. One of the main reasons for .alarm among ex-service personnel is that when they want to re-establish themselves in businesses, although the act says that they may apply to the prescribed authority, which in this instance is the Repatriation Commission, for a loan, they have to wait for a considerable time before receiving any response to their applications. Unfortunately, the act contains a section which says that an applicant is not an eligible person unless he or she was engaged in an occupation of a similar type prior to enlistment. That sort of thing is a definite bar to progress in this country. There are only two other categories of persons who might obtain loans; they are those who are suffering from disablement and those who enlisted when they were” under the age of 21 years. Persons in those two categories are entitled to the best treatment that we can give to them. But we have to bear in mind that thousands of young people who enlisted at about the age of 21 or 22 years, perhaps had not at that time found their feet industrially. Having witnessed the application of modern ideas, why should they be debarred from receiving assistance under the Reestablishment and Employment Act, and being enabled to give to the people of Australia the benefit of their ideas? The case of a man who had had consider able, experience has been published in the West Australian, Perth. Reciting his experiences, he says -
I joined the 10th Light Horse at the beginning of the war and transferred to the Australian Imperial Force in 1941, enlisting as a private, and was discharged with the rank of captain. I am one of the few survivors of the original members of the Inter-Allied Services Bureau which later became known as “ Z “ Special Unit and Services Reconnaissance Department. I spent many months in Japanese-occupied territory. I organized and ran in supplies both by sea and air to Dyak guerillas in Borneo. In 1942 I took part in operations in the Netherlands East Indies.
In 1943 and 1944 I was in New Guinea and spent many months in the Sepik River area, and in 1945 I saw service again in the Netherlands East Indies and also in Borneo (Sarawak) and Malaya. I organized and established at Garden Island a midget submarine base and was responsible for the supply and despatch of the ill-fated Rimau expedition which set out from Garden Island to raid Singapore harbour.
Later, on the instruction of General Sir Miles Dempsey, G.O.C. Malaya, and with the full authority of Lord Louis Mountbatten, I led an expedition to the Riouw Archipelago in search of the party and returned with the first authentic account of the fate of the Singapore raiders. I also brought back Major Fugita, of the Japanese Army, who was in charge of operations against the Rimau party, and one Indonesian named Roger Mun, who betrayed the party to the Japanese for 50 dollars.
I know that man. This is only one of thousands of cases with which I am acquainted, because, before winning the Swan seat, I was employed in the Ministry of Post-war Reconstruction, having been unable to receive the advance of £1,000 to return to my farm immediately upon my discharge, the scheme not then being in operation. This man, after his discharge, started on a small poultry farm, and applied to the Ministry of Post-war Reconstruction for assistance. After waiting for two months, he was more or less told that he was a nit-wit, and was not entitled to any assistance because he had not been engaged in an occupation of a similar type prior to his enlistment. I say to the Government and the people of this country that when that man enlisted at the beginning of the war he did not have to prove to the defence authorities that he had had experience in murder or sabotage. That is the reception which this man has had from a supposedly generous Government since his return to this country. The Ministry of Post-war Reconstruction issues trash of this sort -
Jill was a country girl. Her father kept a general store in a small country town, and, as her mother was dead, she kept house for him and helped in the store. When war broke out her father wanted to enlist immediately, but he couldn’t leave Jill by herself. When Jill was eighteen she enlisted in the W.A.A.A.F. and her father joined the army. Unhappily, he was killed in the New Guinea campaign. In February of this year Jill was discharged. She wanted to go back to the country town where she had friends, but there was no job there for her. Jill found the solution to her problem after an interview with a rehabilitation officer, who suggested she should apply for full-time training in dressmaking, as she would be eligible under the “ under 21 “ category.
Unfortunately, when Jill approaches the Repatriation Commission to borrow money with a view to establishing her own business in her home town, her application will be rejected because she had not been a dressmaker prior to her enlistment. I cite these cases with a view to showing what is in the minds of ex-service personnel, and having the conditions altered. Admittedly, the provisions of the Reestablishment and Employment Act, as Government members have often said, are better than those which operated after World War I. I can speak from experience, having participated in both wars. Why should they not be better? We have had 25 years in which to effect improvements. It would be absolutely disgraceful to offer to the man or woman who had fought for this country anything like the conditions that were provided for under the old repatriation scheme. On the subject of loans, 1 wish to say that before I returned to Australia I distributed some of the propaganda put out by this country, such as “Jobs for all”; “farms for all”; and “£1,000 to go on the land”. My first comment is that £1,000 is far too little for any man who intends to engage in wheat and sheep farming. Until the last campaign started a couple of months ago, the son of a* farmer who, by reason of his youth, could not fulfil the obligations that were necessary to place him in the stipulated category, was unable to obtain any advance. On the 20th August, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) issued the statement that anybody who had had six months’ service and any experience at all on the land, was eligible to apply for the advance. That does not alter the position one iota, because prior to that statement everybody was eligible to apply.
Ex-servicemen desirous of training under the Re-establishment and Employment Act have to make application for it, but those administering the act are given a certain instruction by the present Government. Here it is : “ Training under this scheme is not to be considered a reward for services “. I, on behalf of exservice personnel, tell the people of Australia that we do not want any reward from anybody for our services. What we want, and are going to fight for, is the right to get back into civil life as quickly and as satisfactorily as possible. After filling in a form, applicants for training are confronted by the absorptive capacity clause. The capacity of an industry to absorb them is determined by a trade union representative on an Industrial Advisory Committee. I say nothing about preference to-, exservicemen. I think there should be preference only when the general qualifications of the applicants are equal. If the trade union representative should be unsympathetic towards the ex-serviceman, there is little opportunity to surmount the hurdle which the absorptive capacity clause presents.
We have heard a good deal about bringing tradesmen to Australia from Great Britain to work in the building trade. In Western Australia, there are 2,000 applications from returned men who desire to learn the building trade, but they cannot receive training or even get an intimation when they will be trained, despite the fact that they have been accepted as eligible and declared suitable. This hold-up is due to the operation of the absorptive capacity clause, but I contend that absorptive capacity cannot be measured accurately. One of the reasons advanced why the training is not being given is tho shortage of building materials. I hate to think what will be the position if that shortage has not been overcome before the expiration of the period of four years which will be occupied in the training of these men. When we have plenty of tradesmen, there is competition and we get good work. These men should be trained, for they would then have in their pocket a piece of paper worth more than its weight in gold. Many of the men would have beenmuch better off had they not gone to the war, but had stayed home and contested the 1943 elections.
I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction to call for the production of the papers relating to applications by ex-servicemen for training for the watchmaking trade by Dunklings Proprietary Limited in Western Australia, which has branches throughout the Commonwealth. This firm has agreed to train watchmakers, and it has implored the Industrial Advisory Committee in Western Australia to consent to their training. The firm offered to train them in its own establishment, and give them full-time employment, which, I understand, is one of the objects of the Government; but, because of the attitude of the secretary of the trade union, who is a member of the Industrial Advisory Committee, the idea was not entertained. Unfortunately, the committee would not supply me with the papers relating to the matter, but I refer the Minister to serial No. 141 of the Jewellers and Engravers Industrial Advisory Committee, relating to its meeting at Perth in, I believe, July last.
I have heard the statement in this chamber that the Government is making good progress with its scheme for the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land. The men have no complaint concerning the scheme itself. We agree that it is a good one. We further admit that, even if a man has to wait for three years to be brought under the scheme he will be well dealt with eventually. As the extent of the plan will be determined, not by the number of applicants, but rather by the quantity of land available, those desirous of participating in it should be told now whether they will be able to go on the land, or whether they would be well advised to take up some other avocation.
Nothing has been done for ex-members of the merchant navy, although they have rendered good service to the country. On behalf of those now in training, I asked the Prime Minister recently whether deductions for income tax purposes were being made from their allowances, and, if so, on whose authority that was being done. I have a letter in my possession from a Commonwealth department containing a ruling by the Commissioner of Taxation that their allowances are not salaries or wages within the definition in the act, that there is no power to compel deductions, and that, if the- trainees protest against them, an amendment of the law should he sought to authorize them. That is a sorry state of affairs. I bring these matters to the notice of the Government and honorable members, in order that inquiries may be made regarding them and ex-servicemen may be informed of their position.
– I shall refer to an incident last night in which the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) seemed to be the storm centre. I give a flat denial to the remarks of that honorable member that I had canvassed Government supporters with a view to inducing them not to speak on the budget. The statement by the honorable member is definitely incorrect. If any honorable gentleman in this chamber knows the run of the ropes it is Mr. Lang.
– The honorable member must refer to another honorable member by naming his electorate.
– Has this anything to do with the budget?
– If any member of this committee knows the Standing Orders it is Mr. Lang.
– I rise to order. I ask your ruling, Mr. Chairman, whether the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) is making a personal explanation or speaking on the budget. I do so because of the effect it will have as to who speaks next.
– No point of order is involved. The honorable member for Hume is speaking on the budget.
– I ascertained that on the list of speakers on the Opposition side were the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton), whilst on the Government side were the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly), the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) and you, Mr. Chairman. Up to that stage Mr. Lang had nOt risen in his place to get the call.
– I ask whether the honorable member for Hume is in order in constantly referring to another honorable member by name. During my twelve years’ service in this Parliament, I have always understood that such a practice is contrary to the Standing Orders.
– The honorable member for Hume has the floor, and is entitled to be heard without interruption, either by the raising of frivolous points of order or by any other means. Honorable members may raise legitimate points of order, but not frivolous ones.
– I asked whether it was in order for an honorable member, when, addressing you, to refer to another honorable member by his name, instead of by his electorate.
– I have already ruled that all honorable members must refer to other honorable members by naming their electorates. If an honorable member refers in error to another by name he is entitled to correct himself.
– I rise to order. Was the honorable member for Hume correct when he read out the list of speakers? Should not the list have placed the names of the honorable member for Reid and the honorable member for Flinders in that order?
– There is no point of order in that. There is no list of speakers so far as the committee is concerned.
– I have just seen it.
– Honorable members must -remain silent while the Chairman is speaking, or I shall take action. There is no official list of speakers. For his own information the Chairman keeps a note of those who rise, and the order in. which they rise. I shall call honorable members in the order in which they rise.
– The honorable member for Reid is certainly entitled to the same rights and privileges as other honorable members as long as he conforms to the rules. I have no further argument with him.
It is just over three years since I was honoured by the electors of Hume by being elected to represent them in the National Parliament. At that time, the country was in the midst of war, a life and death struggle against a ferocious enemy. Now, thank God, that is behind us. On the 28th Septemberlast, the free citizens of Australia elected a new parliament. We are now at peace,, and for that we owe a debt of gratitude to the gallant men and women of the fighting services, to whom belongs the credit of victory, and to whom we are indebted for the liberty we enjoy as Australian citizens. In addition to their gallantry, national organization was needed to win the war, and this could be had only from a government which was seised with the importance and gravity of the position. Towards the end of 1941 the Labour party, then in a minority in the House of Representatives, was entrusted with the responsibility of forming a government, because the Parliament and the people had lost confidence in the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) and the ‘right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden). In effect, Parliament itself decided that, if the war effort of Australia was to be successful, a new government would have to be appointed. Upon the late John Curtin fell the unparalleled responsibility of directing the new Government, and no one can deny that he discharged the responsibility faithfully. 1 had. the honour to be in the Parliament during those momentous times, and I was an active supporter of the Curtin Government. The memory of those days will long remain with me. The death of Mr. Curtin left a void in our public life, but it has been the fortunate experience of British communities that they have always been able to find a worthy successor to a great leader. At this stage, I wish to pay tribute to Mr. “Ben” Chifley, our present Prime Minister, upon whom the mantle of John Curtin fell, and who finished the job which Mr. Curtin so well began. Now that the war is over, it becomes the duty of the Government to stabilize the economy of the country, a task almost as difficult as that of winning She war. Just as I supported Mr. Curtin during the difficult days of the war, I now wholeheartedly support the present Prime Minister in these difficult days of peace. The present Leader of the Opposition and the present leader of the Australian Country party demonstrated their inability to govern, and were repudiated by the Parliament. At the general elections of 1943, the people- emphatically endorsed the action of the Parliament. In the following elections, on the 28 th September, last, I was one of the first Labour supporters to be elected, although I was opposed by the capitalist press and by powerful financial institutions. However, behind me there was a great army of supporters which could not be defeated. Instead of being defeated, L won by an absolute majority of 1835, a marked improvement over the elections of 1943, when I required 425 votes for an absolute* majority. My victory in Hume was one of the most outstanding victories achieved in any part of New South Wales. The Australian Country party could not have put a stronger candidate into the -field. If ever a man worked in order to bring victory to his party, Mr. Warren McDonald did. I was also opposed by a Liberal candidate. The press which supported the Opposition candidates endeavoured to introduce personalities, but I refused to descend to their level. I won a victory for the Labour party, in spite of everything that my opponents could do, and in spite of their being backed by the capitalist press and capitalist institutions.
Most of us here have seen the country pass through two of the worst wars in the history of the world. We were told that the first world war was a “war to end war that we were fighting for a new order, a new world in which every one would enjoy the measure of happiness and economic security to which he was entitled. But before many years had passed that dream was shattered. Thousands of people were thrown out of employment, and Australia had the greatest army of unemployed that it had ever known. At one stage 550,000 men were fighting a war, not in blood and mud against an enemy, but a war for existence. No one can deny that. At that time the primary producers of Australia could not secure for their produce sufficient to meet the cost of production, and the people generally suffered untold misery. Eventually, tho world was thrown into a second World War more terrible and devastating than any that had preceded it. Fortunately, the democratic nations triumphed over those which, had they succeeded, would have abolished all the freedoms that are so dear to us. That is history, but it is still vivid in our memories. To-day, due largely to their sufferings during two wars and a depression, two major matters are exercising the minds of the people. They want to know, first, what can be clone to prevent future wars, and, secondly, how to ensure economic security so that future wars may be prevented. In the Speech delivered by His Royal Highness at the opening of the Eighteenth Parliament the Government’s attitude towards these problems was set out. A perusal of that brief statement gives a good idea of the splendid basis that has been laid by the Government not only to provide for the safety of Australia but also to assist in maintaining peace throughout the world.
I turn now from wars and defence to point out that our main concern must be to improve the social and economic conditions of the people. I have every confidence that, so long as Labour remains in power in the Commonwealth, Australia will not return to the awful conditions that prevailed between 1932 and 1939. Already the Government has piloted through the Parliament legislation designed to achieve some of the objectives to which I have referred, and as a consequence all sections of the community have benefited. For the first time in the history of Australia, primary production has been placed on a sound economic basis and primary producers are receiving a fair return for their labour,
– The honorable member should tell that to the wheat-farmers.
– I represent in this House an electorate consisting largely of farmers. Unfortunately, the people would not give to the Commonwealth Government power to deal with the organized marketing of primary products, and so that problem remains. In this connexion, it is to the everlasting disgrace of the Australian Country party that during the election campaign, when outside pressure from speculators and financial and commercial interests was brought to bear on them, its members twisted, and opposed proposals for which they voted in this Parliament. Naturally, thousands of farmers are disappointed at the result of the referendum. There was a time when the Leader of the Opposition advocated the granting of increased powers to the Commonwealth, but even he could find no virtue in the Government’s proposals because the pressure from outside sources was too strong. Like many others, the right honorable gentleman had to bow to the will of his masters. As late as 1942 he said -
I do believe that full nationhood requires greater powers at the centre, for greater responsibility cannot be discharged without them.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald of the 10th October, 1939, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), who is Deputy Leader of the Opposition, went so far as to advocate the abolition of all State parliaments, but, like his leader, he could not agree to the granting to the Commonwealth Parliament, of which he himself is a member, the additional powers sought. Evidently, the honorable member has little faith in his ability to legislate in matters of a national character. The sudden concern of members of the Australian Country party for the welfare of the man on the land is rather amusing when one reflects that for years, when governments supported by them were in power, they did nothing to assist primary producers or to place primary industries on a sound economic basis. During the last twelve months we have heard from Opposition members a good deal concerning the need for increased production. Listening to their speeches one might be led to believe thatAustralian industries are not forging ahead. That contention is not borne out by the facts. Referring to this matter, a bulletin published on the 11th November, last, by the National Bank of Australia contained the following : -
Although the alarums and excursions of industrial labour have occupied the centre of the stage during the past month, neither they nor the large demand which remains unsatisfied should be allowed to obscure the fact that in many instances the trend of output is upward.
The article went on to point out that the production of bricks, tiles and cement was increasing, and that larger supplies of timber were being won from the forests. After pointing out the difficulties of securing certain commodities, it continued -
Nevertheless, industry is slowly making headway in meeting the accumulated needs of the Australian public.
That hundreds of new factories have commenced operation shows not only that investors have faith in the Government, but it also indicates the progressive policy of the Government towards secondary production. The improved position is reflected in the number of persons employed in factories to-day compared with June, 1939, the respective figures being 770,000 and 230,000. Admittedly, there is a shortage of goods throughout Australia, but that state of affairs is prevalent throughout the world and has been brought about, first, because during the war period the production of civil goods was curtailed and people could not then secure requirements, and, secondly, because people to-day are better off than they have ever been before. To-day, there is practically full employment in Australia, something unheard of in the past. Every provision has been made not only to rehabilitate our ex-service men and women but also to ensure that our youths will have an opportunity to learn a profession or trade. AVe have provided facilities to enable the children of people on. low incomes to attend universities provided they have the requisite preliminary qualifications. The Government’s record is a good one. It has taken whatever action is necessary to ensure that our people will never again suffer as they did in the past. It has been said that if a Labour government was returned to power, capital would fly from this country. In a leading article the London Financial Times of the 27th August last had this to say upon the subject -
Lt is evident, therefore., that the war has brought a useful improvement in the standard of living ,of the Australian worker. Australia has achieved this improvement and, at the same time, maintained during the greater part of the war an unexampled stability in wages and prices. That, undoubtedly, is a striking testimony to the success with which the Government has handled the stabilizing machinery of rationing, price and wage controls and subsidies. This stability is now attracting capital from abroad. It will attract capital still more powerfully if controls are operated as successfully in the future as in the past. . . .
In the light of past achievements, however, it might not be over-optimistic to expect tho Australian Government to be more successful than the United Kingdom and, still more, the American Governments in securing orderly transition from war to peace economy and warding off the threat of inflation, in all probability, the present trend toward greater industrialization in Australia will continue unchecked. More and more British and American capital is likely to be impressed with the long-term advantages of a stake in Australia. Such, investment offers a share in tho Commonwealth’s development and expansion, and a means of acquiring suitable bases for a growing and prosperous trade with the Far East. Here is the beginning of a movement which may swell to large proportions and bring great benefit both to Australia and to investors of new capital.
That is the answer to the alarmists who sit on the Opposition benches.
Another matter of vital importance is the construction of the Canberra-Tumut road. During the last Parliament I raised this matter in this chamber and as a result of my efforts a public meeting was held at Tumut and attended by over SOO citizens. The meeting placed before the then Minister for Works and Housing, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr.
Lazzarini), the State Minister for Transport, Mr. Maurice O’Sullivan, and the State member for Yass, Mr. W. E. Sheahan, a concrete case for the construction of the road. The meeting was one of the most representative gatherings ever held in any country town. It is admitted by honorable members on both sides of the chamber that housing is one of the greatest problems that confront this country to-day, and that it will continue for many years to come. With that statement I entirely agree. I realize that if we are to ‘build up the population necessary to defend this country against an aggressor - and I have no doubt that Australia will again be challenged at some future time - we must have homes to house thepeople. The present Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) has said that one of the greatest drawbacks to the success of the housing programme to-day is the shortage of timber. That brings me to the first point, why the construction of the Canberra-Tumut road should be proceeded with as a matter of vital importance to the nation. Within a distance of 35 miles from the Canberra railhead and a similar distance from the railhead at Tumut there are millions of feet of some of the best softwood and hardwood timber in New South Wales. The timber resources in the Canberra-Tumut area are capable of fulfilling a substantial portion of the timber requirements of New South Wales for many years to come. Some of the alpine ash to be found there is excellent wood for doors and sashes and the best polished flooring, and is also used for cabinet-making. I urge the Government to consult with the State authorities immediately with a view to having some of the latest road construction equipment diverted to this area so that a modern highway may be rapidly constructed to open up not only the vast timber resources but also some of the best grazing country in New South Wales. I am informed by experienced men, such as Mr. W. A. Coady, manager of Coolamon Station, owned by F. W. Hughes Proprietary Limited, that in the Canberra-Tumut area there are at least 250,000 acres of grazing country, and from 12,000 to 15,000 acres of splendid agricultural country suitable for dairying, vegetable and fruit-growing waiting to be developed.
These men say that portions of the area are more suitable for the growing of fruit than is the district of Batlow. At present one timber mill, owned by Wallace McGee and Company Limited, operates from the Tumut end of the existing road. I understand that the output from that mill is at present taken to the railhead at Tumut, thence to Dubbo, where it is seasoned, and then despatched to Broken Hill, where, I believe, it has stood the test of the severe climatic conditions existing in that area. I remind honorable members that those who sat in Opposition in this Parliament twenty years ago advocated that an advance of £200,000 be made for the construction of this road. It must be constructed. In the area which it will serve it will provide employment for 1,000 Australians; and it will open up one of the most suitable areas for closer settlement as well as some of the best scenic country in the Commonwealth. It will also encourage the production of eucalyptus oil, and develop bee-farming on a large scale. From such industries substantial benefit will accrue to the Treasury. Therefore, I appeal to the Government immediately to summon a conference of State and Federal Ministers to investigate this project thoroughly.
In conclusion, I congratulate the Prime Minister and Treasurer on the budget. It is a better budget even than that which was forecast during the election campaign and induced the people to return the Government to office. The Government has tackled its financial problems in an effective manner. The burden of indirect taxes weighed heavily upon the community as a. whole, and I am proud that the Government has made such substantial reductions of indirect taxes in order to give relief to those sections of the community most deserving of relief.
Motion (by Mr. Scully) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr. DEDMAN (Corio- Minister for
Defence, Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial
Research) [3.7]. - This morning the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) asked me a question relating to the establishment of a guided projectiles range in Central Australia. I shall now make the statement which I then promised I would make on the subject.
Owing to the lengthy period necessarily occupied in the consultations between the United Kingdom and Australian Governments on the proposal for a guided missile range in Australia, and the fact that the Government has only recently been able to make a decision on. this matter it has been impossible for an authoritative statement to be made earlier on this project. In the meantime, there have been reports and criticisms of a speculative and to some degree uninformed nature. I now propose to make a brief statement in order that honorable members and the people of Australia may be acquainted with the fullest information that canbe given regarding this project at the present stage, because it is one of such vital importance to the security of the whole of the British Commonwealth.
As recently announced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), the Government has approved the proposal to set up in Australia, as a joint venture with the United Kingdom Government a range and other facilities for the testing of guided missiles. The firing point will be in the vicinity of Mount Eba in South Australia, between the Trans- Australian and North-south railways. The direction of the centre line of the range is such that, if prolonged, it would pass roughly midway between Broome and Port Hedland in Western Australia, that is in the middle of the Ninety Mile Beach. The first step is to build a short range of about 300 miles designed to be capable of extension at a later date, and to reserve the necessary area. The Government has also approved the reservation of the Salisbury munitions factory for use, to the extent required, for the developmental work to be undertaken in Australia. The Government has further approved the proposal made by the Government of the United Kingdom that Lieutenant-General Evetts, in a civilian capacity, should come from the United Kingdom to Australia, with a small technical staff, to collaborate with the. Australian authorities concerned in the detailed planning and execution of the project.
It would probably assist honorable members if, at this stage, I briefly recapitulated the history of this project. Because of the limited area in the United Kingdom and its density of population, the authorities there have long realized that it will be impossible to carry out in the British Isles the full-scale testing of guided missiles. After investigation, it appeared that Australia was the only place within the British Commonwealth, taking into account climatic and other conditions, where an area suitable for a range of this sort could be found. The Government of the United Kingdom, with the consent of this Government, earlier this year sent a mission to ascertain whether suitable facilities existed in Australia. To collaborate with this mission an Australian committee was appointed, consisting of representatives of the Navy, Army, and Air Force, the Department of Munitions and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The report of the mission to the United Kingdom Government was the result of its investigations in collaboration with this Australian committee.
In the investigations undertaken by the committee and mission there was full collaboration also with the Governments of the States of South Australia and Western Australia. The Australian committee, in its report, endorsed the technical aspects of the conclusions reached by the United Kingdom Mission. Apart from checking up on certain aspects, such as ‘availability of water, it was inappropriate for us to take further detailed action pending the receipt of formal proposals from the Government of the United Kingdom who, it will be recalled, initiated the project. Now that the project has been approved, consultations between the two Governments on its implementation will proceed.
Research and development on guided missiles has been under way for some time in the United Kingdom, whilst, so far, Australia has done no work in this field. For some considerable time, by far the greater portion of the scientific staff required for the trials or research and development associated with them must be drawn from the United Kingdom, who have already considerable experience of the work involved. Discussions are taking place with the Government of the United Kingdom in regard to questions of major policy, the machinery required for the control of the project, and the basis on which it is to be financed.
The capital cost pf the immediate project of the range head and the first 300 miles of the range is £3,000,000 and the eventual annual maintenance cost of the range project is £3,000,000. If the development work is expanded, considerable additional capital and maintenance expenditure will be involved. Except for a few pastoral leases at the firing point end in South Australia, the central aboriginal reserves and a few more pastoral leases adjacent to the Ninety Mile Beach in Western Australia, the area of the range and that which it is proposed to reserve for eventual extension, is largely uninhabited. It will be necessary to resume some leases by arrangement with the State authorities in South Australia and possibly later in Western Australia.
I mentioned earlier that the range at first will be limited-and this will be for some years - to a point short of the central Australian aboriginal reserves. During this period, it is expected that accuracy of control will be largely perfected, and that the risk to the aborigines, when the range is extended, will be negligible. The probability of a missile falling on them would be extremely remote. The area is vast, and the average density of population is probably about only one native in every 50 to 100 square miles. It is suggested to me by those most competent to judge, that the accident risk to the aborigine will be less than that taken by the ordinary citizen of one of our cities in crossing a city thoroughfare or from the danger of an aircraft falling from the skies. Reports that huge areas in central Australia will be blasted by explosives are highly-coloured figments of the imagination. For various reasons, one being the costly nature of these projectiles, it is expected that they will be fired on the average not more than about one a week, and when it comes to longrange work, probably even less frequently. Until the control is perfected, none but non-explosive missiles will be fired. And, if and when explosive missiles are fired, they will be directed to a safe area.
However, in regard to the limited number of observation posts which may later have to be established along the line of fire in the reserve, I am very conscious of the need to do everything possible to safeguard the aborigines from contact or encroachment on any area of special significance to them, and instructions have been given that the Australian committee, to which I have referred, shall consult with the Director of Native Affairs and other authorities concerned in aborigine welfare and report on the measures necessary to ensure their safety and welfare.
In the Governor-General’s Speech, it was stated that Australia will make a larger contribution towards the defence of the British Commonwealth, and that the Government had agreed to set up machinery to ensure Empire co-operation in research, design, development and production of munitions and aircraft. This project is a step in that direction. It will not only increase the capacity of Australia to defend itself with the latest weapons - that is important in view of our small man-power and large territory - but also strengthen, the security of the British Commonwealth by providing for tbe dispersal of its resources. The Defence Science Conference, held in London, fully considered and endorsed this proposal, which is so vital to our defence and security.
– One important matter has been overlooked in this proposal to conduct tests with guided projectiles in central Australia. I have received a letter from an old member of the Australian Labour party, who asks me to direct attention to this omission. My correspondent writes -
As the Labour party differs from certain other political parties in the emphasis placed on human values, should not the Australian Labour party make itself the jealous guardian of the human rights of those who, in such a crisis as this may prove to be, have no possible means of defending those rights?
Also, I remind -honorable members that, under the terms of the Atlantic Charter, certain common principles are enunciated in the national policies of the United States of America and Great Britain. Article 8 of the Atlantic Charter states that the governments of those two countries believe that -
All of the nations of the world, for realistic as well as spiritual reasons, must come to the abandonment of the use of force. Since no future peace can be maintained if land, sea or air armaments continue to be employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten aggression outside their frontiers, they believe, pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security, that the disarmament of such nations is essential. They will likewise aid and encourage all other practicable measures which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armaments.
The establishment of the range for guided projectiles will certainly violate the spirit of that article of the Atlantic Charter. As arrangements for the preparation of the range appear to have progressed to a stage where little can be done to halt them, I can only protest, and hope that more protests will be registered by the Australian people against the proposal.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Air Force Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, Nos. 162, 163.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Commonwealth purposes - Sydney, New South Wales.
Defence purposes -
Woolloomooloo Bay, New South Wales.
National Security Act - National Security (Shipping Co-ordination) Regulations - Orders - 1946, Nos. 44-48.
Re-establishment and Employment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 165.
House adjourned at 3.19 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice - 1, What was the amount of tax collected between the 30th June,- 104G, and the 31st October, 1046, in respect of the £42,403,804 of tax assessed and debited in the ledger accounts of the Taxation Department at the 30th June, 1946, but unpaid at that date?
– There is no dissection of the collections of income tax revenue which would enable the information required by the right honorable member to be supplied. However, it is safe to assume that all but a small proportion of the tax assessed and outstanding at the 30th June, 1946, would be collected before the 31st October. It is equally safe to assume that .a much smaller proportion of the tax assessed since the 30th June, 1946, would be collected by the 31st October, because the time allowed for payment of tax (normally sixty days) would not by that date have expired in respect of assessments issued during the months of September and October.
Rail Transport: Garra tt Locomotives.
e asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
During the months of July, August, September and October, 1940, how many industrial disputes took place in each of the States of the Commonwealth; how many working days were lost; how many workers were involved; and what was the estimated loss in wages and in production ?
– Statistics for this period are not yet available from the Commonwealth Statistician. Records of industrial disputes are maintained in my department, and the statistics requested by the honorable member will be compiled, as far as is possible from the available records, and supplied to him.
Water Conservation: Bradfield Scheme.
Mr.Chifley. - On the 14th November, the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) asked the following questions: -
Is it a fact that a royal commission has inquired into the practicability of implementing the Bradfield irrigation scheme to divert the rivers of eastern Queensland westward into the rivers flowing into the Lake Eyre area for the purposes of irrigation ?
If so, when will the royal commission’s report be made available to the House?
Will this report be the last word on such a scheme, or will alternative schemes to combat the disastrous erosion of Central Australia be investigated?
The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 to 3.No royal commissionhas been set up to investigate the Bradfield scheme. The proposal has. however, been the subject of investigations by a number of existing authorities including Queensland State authorities, the Rural Reconstruction Commission, an expert committee under the chairmanship of the Director of Meteorological Services, and finally the Northern Australia Development Committee. The late Dr. Bradfield’s proposals have been investigated from a hydrological and meteorologicalpoint of view, and it would appear they are not practicable. The hydrological investigations, which have been carried out by the Queensland State authorities, indicate that the figures of cost are too conservative while the estimates of water discharged at the distributing end are much in excess of what would actually be available. A detailed examination of the meteorological aspects of the scheme was made in November,1944,byan expert committee under the chairmanship of the Director of Meteorological Services, whose report deals with the influence of the proposed reservoirs or lakes upon the rainfall of the interior of Australia. The majority of opinion was that -
no material increase in the rainfall of the regions concerned is likely to accrue from the implementation of Dr. Bradfield’s scheme, and
the climate of the regions concerned is unlikely to be materially affected either immediately or ultimately.
The views of the Rural Reconstruction Commission are set out in Chapter 4 of the Eighth Report, entitled, “ Water Conservation, Irrigation and Land Drainage “. In commenting on the cost of the project, which is estimated to be of the extent of £40,000,000, the Rural Reconstruction Commission, though of opinion that inadequate information was available on which to make a satisfactory appraisal of the merits of the project, stated that such expenditure is too great to warrant entering upon such a scheme without every prospect of success. The commission goes on to say that further investigations shouldbe made into soils and species of crops and pasture plants suitable for irrigated farming in this particular climatic zone. Furthermore no effort should be spared to collect data on rainfall and other climatic factors on river gauging and catchment efficiency so that in due course the matter can be viewed more clearly. On the basis of the above information, the Northern Australia Development Committee considers that the use of the water on suitable lands adjacent to its origin and in the basins from which it is derived will be much more efficient and investigations to that end are being vigorously pursued by the Queensland Government. These will include control of flood waters and any hydro-electric possibilities which would be of use in future irrigation.
Commonwealth Disposals Commission: Motor Vehicles.
n. - In reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) on the 20th November, concerning the disposal of motor vehicles and allied equipment at Mataranka in the Northern Territory, the Minister for Supply and Shipping has furnished the following information : -
When the Army declared surplus to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission the motor vehicle park at Mataranka, action was taken by that commission to market the best of the vehicles through the normal trade channels in Adelaide and a large number of vehicles was sold in this way. In regard to the balance, action was taken by the commission to sell on the spot as many of the remaining vehicles as could be sold. The sale was advertised in the daily press throughout the Commonwealth. It is emphasized that these vehicles represented trucks in such a condition as did not warrant the commission itself moving them to Adelaide.
A total of £6,558 was realized from these individual sales at Mataranka. The commission was then faced with the problem of selling the residues and every endeavour was made to obtain bids for these residues. The only reasonable offer received was that of Mr. Jolly of £3,100, and in the light of the condition of these residues, the majority of which were wrecks of trucks and of machine gun carriers, this offer was accepted. Photographs showing the condition of these wrecks are with the departmental file and the Minister for Supply and Shipping would welcome the honorable member for Warringah or any other members inspecting these photographs which show that in the main the residues are such as did not warrant their removal from Mataranka, which it is pointed out is some 700 miles by road from Alice Springs which, in turn, is 1,000 miles by rail from Adelaide.
The buyer lias been endeavouring over the last, ten months to sell his stock and I understand at the moment is actually trying to sell by public auction at Mataranka.
In addition to the stock purchased by Mr. Jolly at Mataranka, he also bought large stocks of vehicles and parts at Darwin and elsewhere, mainly it is understood with the object of obtaining the .equipment necessary for reconstructing the broken down vehicles bought by him at Mataranka. Any return that Mr. Jolly would .therefore ultimately receive would not be related merely to his purchases at Mataranka but would also take into consideration the expense of maintaining an organization in the Northern Territory over a period of twelve months and the extremely high cost of movement to southern markets.
The spare parts and allied equipment at Mataranka have been sold by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission by auction sale for approximately £22,000.
From the above it will be seen that, the Commonwealth Disposals Commission has made every endeavour to realize the maximum amount of money from the surplus Army stocks at Mataranka and that the total amount obtained is very considerable.
Finally, i.t should bc emphasized that irrespective of the original cost new of any equipment in capital cities, the only value of worn out residue is represented by their actual value as and where they are, taking into consideration the condition and the location at the time of sale.
On the ‘ 20th November, the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) asked a question concerning the proposed release of valuable motor cars by the Department of the Army.
The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following information : -
At present the Disposals Commission has practically no vehicles at all for sale. The commission has already sold approximately 80,000 motor vehicles, practically all, however, being trucks and there is no indication of any large number of motor cars being still available from the Department of the Army. Any motor cars that are declared to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission are processed by that commission first to Government departments and second through the trade to priority buyers nominated by the Department of Transport in each State. The Department of Transport gives preferential treatment to ex-servicemen, doctors and similar urgent priority requirements. As the Department of Transport is in the best position to judge the needs of priority buyers, it is not proposed to disturb the existing arrangement.
On the 20th November the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie
Cameron) asked a question concerning the disposal of motor vehicles in the Northern Territory.
The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following information : -
The Commonwealth Disposals Commission has no knowledge of any instances where dealers bought tractors and other motor vehicles in the Northern Territory and on their being brought south had them commandeered by the Government. If the honorable member will furnish any more specific information on the matter, further inquiries will be made.
n. - On the 15th November, the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) asked a question concerning the cost of production of aluminium in Australia.
The Minister for Munitions has supplied the following information: -
As some work remains to be done before final plans for production of aluminium are decided, it is not possible at this stage to give a reliable estimate of cost of production. The Australian Aluminium Production Commission considers, however, that production should be established on an economic basis and it is pursuing its investigations to that end.
It is known that the pre-war price of aluminium has fallen but from information received, it appears that the present world parity price is £A.02 per ton, North American ports and not £A.75 per ton as stated.
n. - On the 15th November, the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams) asked a question concerning the quality of kerosene being sold to farmers.
The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following information : -
No complaints have been received that kerosene of inferior quality is being sold. Because of the continued need for controlling allocations of petroleum products within the sterling area there is, of course, not the same freedom of selection of production sources now as in pre-war years but the quality of power kerosene and other products received into Australia is watched closely and there ia no reason to believe that the average quality now supplied is not equal to the average quality prewar
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 November 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1946/19461122_reps_18_189/>.