18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J.S.Rosevear) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Minister for Repatriation say what stage has been reached in the negotiations with the Army Department for taking over the hospitals at Heidelberg, Victoria, Concord. Now South Wales, andGreenslopes, Queensland?
– Arrangements are well in hand for taking over the hospitals referredto. Some time ago matrons were chosenand more recently medical superintendents were appointed. The remainder of the personnel required to staff the hospitals is being recruited as quickly as possible and it is hoped that at an early date the hospitals will be taken over from the Army Department.
Effect on Motor Vehicle Manufacturing - Shortage ofMaterials - Victorian Metal Trades Dispute - Proposed MayDay Stoppage.
-Has the Prime Minister’s attention been drawn to a report of the National Bank of Australia dated the 11th March, 1947, stating in relation to New South Wales, that the serious lagin the motor car body building industry is due to current steel shortages and to labour disputes is emphasized by a recent statement that there are 4,000 British car chassis awaitingcompletion”? If so, can he say whether the statement is correct and will he ascertain whether the recordedlossof 505,500 tons of coal in the first ten weeks of this year contributed to the steel shortage? Further, will he advise the House whether it is his opinion that coal and steel shortages will continue so long as Communist trade union leaders use the strike weapon to enforce their industrial claims? Will he address a strong statement to the members of Communistcontrolled trade unions, warning them of theserious consequencesto Australian secondary industryof continued stoppages, and urgingthemto support industrial arbitration as the means of settling industrial disputes?
Mr.CHIFLEY. - I have not read the report towhich the honorable member has referred. Ifhe will put the other questions on the notice-paper Ishall endeavour tosupply detailed answers to them.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether any settlement of the metal trades dispute has yet been reached; and, if so, on what terms? If a settlement has not been reached, does the Government propose to insist that the unions concerned shall accept the award of the conciliation commissioner? If the Government does not propose to insist on the acceptance of the award, will an amendment be included in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Billnow before the House to provide machinery for enforcing the authority of the Conciliation Commissioner?
– The present position in themetal trades dispute in Victoria is that the partiesconcerned met the commissioner again this morning. The commissioner renewed the offer of the increases on the marginal rates and made an order that they should be added to the award. That is anew feature and it has nothappenedbefore, so the present position is that the increases whichhe made, or which it was suggested he should make, a fortnight agohave now been made part of the award.Persons in employment will receive the increases; those on strike will not. Whether that will settle the dispute I do not know at this stage. A meetinghas been called bythe unions concerned forto-morrow morning to receive a report from the delegateswho conferred with the commissioner to-day. When theresult of themeeting is known-
Mr.Ryan. - Thatis not an answer to the last part ofmy question.
– In reply to the last part of the honorable member’s question, a bill is before the House which provides for certain amendments of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration
Act and whenthat measure is under consideration the honorable member can raise the matter.
Trans- Australian Line Dispute - Infants’ Food - Standardization of Gauges
– In view of newspaper reports of a desperate shortage of infants’ food in Western Australia resulting from the strike on the trans-Australian railway, can the Minister for the Interior say whether negotiations have been entered into for a settlementof the dispute, and, if so, with what prospects? Will he give priority to the carriage of such goods as infants’ food, which are urgently required in Western Australia?
– When I arrived in Melbourne yesterday,I convened a conference of the parties to the dispute. After sitting all day the conference agreed upon a recommendation which was to be submitted to the Arbitrator this morning. I have been informed that the Arbitrator has endorsed the recommendation, and that the unions have instructed their members to return to work immediately. Therefore, I am mosthopeful that the entireCommonwealth railway system willbeworking again within the next day ortwo. I assure the honorable member for Perth that theCommonwealth Railways Commissioner will give special attentionto thefood requirements mentioned byhim.
– Can the Minister for Transport tell me whatstage has been reached in the negotiations betweenthe Commonwealth and New South Wales, Victoriaand South Australia on the standardization of railway gauges? When is some progress likely to be made in carrying out the work?
– The agreement between theCommonwealth and Victoria, South Australiaand New South Wales has been taken asf ar as possible by the Commonwealth Government. It has been ratified in South Australia and now awaits ratification in New South Wales and Victoria. The Commonwealth Government has been in touchwith the Premiers of both Staltes, and it is hopedthat an early announcement will be made of what they propose to do about its early ratification.
Mr.BEAZLEY.- In a sub-leader published in the West Australian on the 15th March, there appears this statement -
If the Government imagines that ithas satisfied Australian opinioninmerely cancelling £25,000,000 of Britishwar indebtedness by reduction ofour sterling credit in London, itis indulging in gross self-delusion.
Can the Prime Minister say whetherthat is an accurate description of the effect of the Commonwealth’s action with respect to the gift of £25,000,000? Is it a fact that the Commonwealth’s action will have the effect of enabling the British Government to purchase £25,000,000 worth of commodities without having to export to Australia goods topay for them? Can the Prime Minister give anyother informationwithrespect to the matter ?
– The statement which the honorable member attributes to the newspaper is incorrect. The gift of £25,000,000which the Australian Governmentwillmake to theBritish Government,subject toapproval by this Parliament,willbe £25,000,000 which the British Governmentcanexpend in whateverway itthinks best in the interests of theBritishpeople. Without commenting on the legislation which I hope will be introducednextweek,the sum of £25,000,000 willbe provided from Australianrevenue resources and, therefore, will be a direct gift tothe British Governmentwhich mayexpend it on food, or in such other way it desires.
- by leave-I thank theHouse for granting me permistiontomakeabriefstatement in answer to an announcement by the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan), which was reported in the newspapers this morning. I appreciate the interest and action taken by the Minister in investigating theproposal for the use of six L.S.T.’s, on loan to the Royal Australian Navy from the Royal Navy in an operation which I shall call “ Operation Food “.Having some personal knowledge ofL.S.T.’s, I consider that the Government has been inclined to magnify the difficulties and minimize the importance of the vital job of getting as much food as possible to Britain as rapidly as possible. Six L.S.T.’s could carry 12,000 tons of food to Britain quickly. These ships could arrive in Britain about May, which is the time experts predict Britain will have reached a food climax. The Minister says that these ships need repairs which would take two months. I do not believe that, if the ships were required for operational purposes during the war, anything like this time would he needed. The plight of the people of Britain to-day is as desperate as it was during the war, and emergency measures should be taken to give them all possible assistance. The Government is entitled to undertake repairs on the same high priority basis as in war-time. “Whilst L.S.T.’s may not be suitable for some types of food, such as perishable goods, they are eminently suitable for tinned foods, which are in unlimited supply in Australia as they are unrationed and load every grocer’s shelves throughout the country. This is a proposal for which, in the final analysis, the Government need only provide the ships. The people of Australia can provide the food if the Government fails to do so, and the ships can be manned by volunteer crews. I have already received the names of many volunteers. Although the wartime complement of an L.S.T. is 70 officers and men, this could be reduced to approximately 25 or 30 for food transport purposes. An emergency gift of 12,000 tons of food conveyed in this way would be a gesture both to Britain and to the world that Australia intends to help Britain meet its crisis, but it should be followed up by a vigorous policy which would expand shipments over and above those already contemplated in current programmes. What is the alternative? Either these ships rust and rot in Sydney Harbour, or they are utilized on “ Operation Food “.
Subsistence Allowance - Life Insurance
Mr. ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker).by leave - On Friday last the Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers), in answer to a question addressed to him by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull), made a certain statement of Government policy. I have no desire to traverse that aspect of the matter, but to deal solely with the Minister’s remark about what the War Gratuity Committee is alleged to have done in 1945. The Minister said that the payment of war gratuity in respect of World War I. to all members who served overseas was something in the nature of compensation for disabilities winch such members of the fighting forces may have suffered. He said that a similar situation existed in respect of men who served in World War II., and he then quoted an extract from the report of the War Gratuity Committee, the most important portion of which reads -
In considering the gratuity for overseas service, the view was taken that this should be fixed at a figure which would afford some recognition of the arduous and hazardous periods which are generally associated with such service. . . .
I was a member of the War Gratuity Committee. The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) was chairman, and other members included the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) and my colleagues the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) and Senator Collett. In my following remarks I am authorized to speak on behalf of my two colleagues. I make it clear that at no stage of the proceedings did the committee discuss prisoners of war, or how they would be affected in respect of any gratuity. The terms of reference of the committee did not allow us to do so even had we been so minded. The terms of reference were -
The first of the decisions reached by the committee was - ]. That recognition should be regarded as a thanksgiving from the nation for the services rendered, and not as a rehabilitation, or repatriation, measure.
That clearly shows the attitude of the War Gratuity Committee on this matter. I say without equivocation that the committee was never authorized at any time to say whether prisoners of war should be paid money in lieu of rations which they did not receive. It did not discuss that aspect. Therefore, the Minister for the Army should make it quite clear to the claimant soldiers concerned, and to the country, that the War Gratuity Committee was in no way responsible for, or in any way condoned, or supported, the attitude which he adopted on this matter on Friday last.
– A case recently came to my notice, which I have reason to believe is not an isolated one, of an ex-prisoner of war who, having been discharged from the forces as medically fit, applied for life insurance when he proposed to be married, and his application was refused on the ground that his health was not sufficiently good to warrant the company issuing a policy. Will the Minister give consideration to a proposal that, in the event of the death of an ex-serviceman who has been unable to obtain life insurance for the protection of his dependants because of the effects of his war service, and where his disability is non-assessable, he shall be deemed to have been a pensioner at the maximum rate and his dependants shall be treated accordingly?
– Although the honorable member’s question is largely hypothetical, I shall have it examined with a view to ascertaining whether a procedure can he devised to meet any such cases that may arise.
– Prefacing a question which I desire to ask the Minister for the Interior, I refer to a recent announcement made by his department and also an announcement by the Minister for Works and Housing that it is the intention of the Government to carry out an extensive building programme in the National Capital over the next five years, and to adopt measures whereby the present population may be increased. In view of this announcement I ask the Minister whether his department has decided to increase the carrying capacity of the Cotter Dam in order to ensure an adequate water supply to meet the increase of population and to provide for the expansion of industry within the capital? Will the Minister state whether the Government intends to provide a permanent water supply for the township of Hall? During the term of the last Parliament the then Minister for the Interior, Senator Collings, received a deputation of citizens of Hall, introduced by the honorable member for EdenMonaro and myself, and promised that when man-power and materials were available hewould give such a project every consideration.
– Answering the last part of the honorable member’s question first, it is a fact that my predecessor gave an undertaking to the citizens of Hal] that when man-power and materials became available he would investigate the possibility of providing a water supply for that township. Since assuming office, I, too, have discussed the project with the residents of Hall. I can do no more at the moment than say that that project will receive consideration when other more urgent works have been completed. The proposal to increase the carrying capacity of the Cotter Dam has been made the subject of investigations by the technical officers of the Department of Works and Housing. I shall consult with the Minister controlling that department, and advise the honorable member as to the position.
Removal of Controls - Interest Rates on Farm Loans.
– I refer to the most recent report of the Rural Reconstruction Commission, wherein the commission recommended to the Government that, for reasons set out in the report, the controls imposed on primary industries should, in its opinion, be removed as early as possible. My question is founded upon the belief, held either correctly or incorrectly, that the removal of controls is impending and will have a dislocating’ effect upon; primary industries. “Will the- Prime Minister indicate at an early date whether it is the intention of. the Govern-ment to act upon that recommendation’ wholly or in part, or. to disregard it ?
– The- report of the commission has not yet been considered by Cabinet. As to the general question of controls, as has been indicated on a number of occasions; when it is found that they are no longer helpful in maintaining economic stability or in protecting sections of the community, they will be removed. As soon as Cabinet has had an opportunity to consider the report I shall advise the honorable member of the Government’s decision in the matter.
– T asked a question of the Treasurer some time ago and the right honorable gentleman undertook” to obtain the information that I sought. I again refer to the subject-matter of that question. As- the. Government has recently enforced a. reduction of the overdraft interest rateschargeable: by private, banks, and as the Victorian Government’ State SavingsBank. Credit Foncier Branch has recently, voluntarily reduced its interest, rate on farm loans to 3$- per cent-., will the Government, reduce the interest! rate charged.on. farm, loans by the Mortgage Bank Department. of . the Commonwealth Bank?.
– -L gather from- the: honorable member’s introductory remark that’ I have failed to obtain. some information which he sought. If that be so, I regret the: fact and. I shall, investigate the matter. I shall discuss the proposal contained in his” question with the Commonwealth Bank authorities and will supply the honorable member with an answer as soon as possible.
Medals - Parcels for Japan
– Can the Prime Minister say whether the various war. service medals, to be awarded, are to be struck in Australia? If so, -when will they be struck and distributed to exservicemen? If not, when is it expected that the. medals will arrive from Great Britain, for distribution in this, country ?
– There has been some difficulty in the. striking1 of. medals- due,
T understand; to man-power and’ metal shortages, and also to the fact that prices tendered for this .work have been excessive. However, I- shall obtain more precise information- on the matter- for. the honorable member:
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs arrange to have investigations made, and a statement delivered in this House, as to why certain parcels sent to Australia Bv troops serving in Japan, are withheld from delivery by either the Department of Trade and Customs or the Postmaster-General’s Department ?’ Will he state the extent of this practice and the reason for it?
Mi-.. POLLARD. - I shall refer” the honorable member’s question to the Minister for Trade and” Customs.
Final of Loan Quiz” Competition
– Other honorable members of this House and I have received- a protest from the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia against, the proposal to hold the final of the Quiz in connexion with the Third Security. Loan, on Anzac night, the 2’5th April. Can the Prime Minister say whether it is proposed that an alternative night should be arranged?’
– This matter was raised last week, by the honorable, member for Moreton as the result of protests which, I understood, he had received from the Queensland’ branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers- and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. I said, on that occasion that I had examined the matter as. the result of representations that had -been made to me personally and: that I saw no reason why the broadcasting of the Quiz on. Anzac night would! he a desecration, of the Anzac spirit. I pointed: out. also that Anzac night: had been used on previous occasions for appeals for loan subscriptions, portion of the loans being ear-marked for the- re.habilitation. of ex-servicemen. Following upon the question asked- by the honorable member,- for- Moreton-,. I. examined the
Anzac night -programmes -of four Queensland radio stations at the hour f or which the Quia broadcast is scheduled, .and found that only one, 4QG, Brisbane, had included any item “that could be characterized as part of the Anzac day pro.gramme. The other stations carried -.purely commercial programmes. An examination of the .programmes of other stations has -repealed a somewhat similar state of affairs. As- 1 informed the honorable member for Moreton,- I see Jio reason why the broadcasting of the Quiz for .one hour -would -be contrary l,o the spirit of Anzac Day.
Government Aid t.o Prospectors.
– I ask -the Prime Minister whether the Government is providing financial assistance for .the sinking of oil bores in the .Roma .district? If so, is there an .arranged basis of assistance that might be applied generally, .or does such assistance apply only to the Roma district? If no .assistance has been proraised, will the right honorable gentleman consider giving generous help to the task of bringing the boring to successful fruition ?
– I am not aware of any special financial assistance to aid investigations in the Roma District. Government departments have given advice and assistance to various companies, not only oil companies. I shall have the matter raised by the honorable member examined and try to give him the latest information on the subject.
Sunday Work Penalty Rates
– Considerable discontent exists among railway, eas and engineering workers, who complain of the long delay in the Arbitration Court giving a decision .on penalty rates for Sunday work. Can the Minister for Labour and National Service say when the court is likely to give its decision ?
– I know of discontent because of the time that has elapsed since the hearing of the case ended. It was heard by the full bench of the Arbi tration Court and the decision must be given .by .a majority .of the full bench. -On Friday, when I .communicated with .the court, I was given to understand that :it has -.been ^difficult to get the three judges -concerned together. I .have been assured that if possible a decision will be given before the end of this week.
Proposed Visit by Professor Jones to Queensland Mines.
– The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction will probably recall that since Mr. Justice Davidson’s report on the coal-mining industry was tabled I have raised the matter of dust in the coal mines of Queensland and asked for the services of Professor Jones in devising methods of suppression. The Minister undertook to confer at the week-end with Sir David Rivett, chairman .of the Council for .Scientific and Industrial Research, to ascertain whether Professor Jones could visit Queensland and inspect the coal mines at Ipswich and West Moreton in addition to the Other coal ‘mines in that State. Can the Minister y.et give me -any information on that subject?
– When the honorable member for Moreton raised this matter last week I told him that I -would be seeing Professor Jones in Melbourne on Monday last. Subsequently I learnt that the Joint Coal Board had arranged for Professor J ones to meet representatives of the miners federation at Newcastle on that day. It was not possible, therefore, for me to meet him. Professor Jones, however, has every intention of visiting certain coal mines in Queensland. For the information of all honorable gentlemen I desire to state that I have had some discussion with SSr David Rivett about the work that is being done in this country by Professor Jones. It has been suggested to me that it would be excellent if Professor Jones could give an address to members of Parliament during which a film dealing with research into coal dust could be screened. I hope, with the consent of the President and Mr. Speaker, to arrange for this to be done, but I -do not think it will be possible to do so ‘until after the Easter recess.
– Has the AustralianWheat Board just advanced the price of wheat for export by1s. 6d. per bushel to a total of 15s.11¼d. per bushel for bulk wheat f.o.r. main ports? If so, what effect will this change have upon the amount to be provided by Australian taxpayers in connexion with the New Zealand wheat deal as far as the current season is concerned ?
– The Australian Wheat Board has advanced the price of wheat to approximately 16s. a bushel. Obviously, that will have an effect on the wheat agreement with New Zealand while the high prices prevail, but it is the general opinion that the higher wheat values sky-rocket now, the lower will be the depths to which they will plunge eventually.
– I desire to inform honorable members regarding a position which has developed in connexion with the printing and publishing of Hansard. I have been advised by the Government Printer that, owing to staff shortages at the Government Printing Office, the publication of Hansard maybe delayed. There may be delay also in the issue of proofs of members’ speeches and of “ flats “. In view of this, I suggest that honorable members assist by reducing to a minimum, first, requests for the inclusion of tabulated matter in Hansard, and, secondly, purely verbal alterations which they are permitted to make in the proofs of their speeches.
Doctors and Dentists
– There are a number of doctors and dentists in the Royal Australian Navy whose period of war service, unlike that of similar practitioners in the Army, has not yet been terminated. These young men experience difficulty in rehabilitating themselves, and their release, I suggest, has been inordinately delayed. Will the Minister for the Navy examine the position of the men who are due for discharge and, if possible, expedite their return to their civil practices? In the Army, I understand, civil surgeons and dentists are being released and are rehabilitating themselves.
– Certain doctors who are not members of the permanent forces are still serving with the Royal Australian Navy. At present, there is a grave shortage of medical officers, and these doctors are required not only to examine men who are being demobilized but also for general purposes within this service. The Navy has found it difficult to release all of them, but as quickly as possible these men are being discharged. As soon as circumstances permit, they will all he released.
-by leave- On Wednesday, the 12th March, the honorable member for Wentworth asked a question concerning licences to import watches, in which he made particular mention of the licence granted to the honorable member for Watson. The Minister for Trade and Customs has informed me that special quotas to cover the importation of watches to the value of £2,700 for each approved applicant were originally granted to 23 ex-servicemen, of whom the honorable member for Watson was one. The granting of these quotas was followed by a flood of over 200 further applications from ex-servicemen. As the granting of similar quotas in all cases would have involved a huge expenditure of Swiss currency, it was decided to review all applications and quotas. The review was made by committees representing the Department of Trade and Customs and the watch trade. Eligibility for a special quota was determined in each case, chiefly on the applicant’s claim to assistance towards his rehabilitation. As a result of this review, quotas granted were either terminated or renewed on a reduced basis. As the honorable member for Watson was not regarded as needing such assistance, the quota originally granted in his favour was not renewed.
Perishable Cargoes - Incident in Sydney Domain.
– I ask the Prime Minister to inform the House whether the Government proposes to take any action to ensure that potatoes and other perishable cargoes on idle ships in Sydney shall be unloaded? Is the right honorable gentleman aware that considerable quantities of perishable cargoes are awaiting shipment to Sydney from ports in Tasmania and on the mainland? This dispute is causing serious hardships to the potential consumers, and financial loss to the Commonwealth Government, which has already acquired shipments now in Sydney. In addition, it is causing serious loss to those growers who are unable to commence digging potatoes until these accumulations have been cleared. Can the Prime Minister say whether the Government has taken or contemplates taking any steps to meet this serious position?
– I am fully aware of all the matters which the honorable member described. The waterside dispute in Sydney is having very serious consequences not only to those whom the honorable member mentioned but also to the public who need these perishable goods. The Minister for Supply and Shipping and, to a lesser degree, myself, have spent a great deal of time in endeavouring to find a solution of this unfortunate and, I think I should say, unwarranted happening that has occurred in Sydney due to the waterside dispute. I understand that to-day or to-morrow, the Stevedoring Industry Commission, under the Conciliation Commissioner, Mr. Morrison, will hold another meeting to discuss the position. I am not able to say whether that meeting or any other meeting in the immediate future will bo able to resolve the difficulty, but I earnestly hope that the outcome will be successful.
– I have just been advised that there was something akin to & riot staged in the Sydney Domain today by waterside workers, during which a member of the Legislative Assembly, a member of the Legislative Council, and a private citizen were overrun, bashed and subjected to an abusive tirade when they attempted to address a public meeting there at 1 p.m. “Will the Prime Minister »ay whether this is a further indication that members of the waterside unions are prepared to go to any lengths outside the law to implement their policy? Is the Prime Minister aware of the hold-up in unloading foodstuffs, which was the subject of the public meeting? Does not the right honorable gentleman think that a stage has now been reached when voluntary labour should be made available so that perishable foodstuffs now rotting in the port of Sydney can be released to the people ?
– I am not cognizant of the circumstances mentioned by the honorable member in connexion with a disturbance in the Sydney Domain. I should imagine that the maintenance of law and order at any meeting held in the Domain would be a matter for the police force of New South Wales, and would not fall within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government. I believe that, in reply to the honorable member for Darwin, I covered the point raised by the honorable member in connexion with the perishables) that have not been unloaded from certain ships in Sydney Harbour. The state of affairs in this connexion is, indeed, most regrettable. If the honorable member will place the latter portion of his question on the notice-paper, I shall supply an answer to it.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware that a large number of people are under the mistaken impression that Charles Cousens has not had a fair and an impartial deal from his department? If so, is the Minister prepared to lay on the table of the Parliamentary Library all the papers relating to the case, so that honorable members may learn the fact3 for themselves?
– This matter was raised previously by the honorable member for Warringah. With the permission of the House, it is my intention to make a statement to-morrow dealing with the Cousens case. From that statement, honorable members generally will be able to decide whether they still wish to have all the papers laid on the table of the Parliamentary Library.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the statement made during the week-end by Mr. Cosgrove, Premier of Tasmania, that the Communist party was undoubtedly seeking to bring about the downfall of Labour Governments in Australia, by promoting strikes and indulging in harassing tactics in industry, designed to discredit governments generally. Does the right honorable gentleman consider that the promotion of many industrial disturbances by theCommunist party is legal? If not, does he propose to take any action to combat the nefarious activities of the members of that party?
– I have seen a heading over a newspaper paragraph of a statement, by Mr. Cosgrove, but I have not read the statement. If the honorable member will place his question on the notice-paper I shall have an answer prepared for him.
– Does the Minister for External Affairs consider that the projected American aid to Greece constitutes a by-passing of the United Nations? If he does, will he express his views as to how the matter should be handled?
– Whether the questionis in order, is doubtful, asit does not affect, the administration of the Minister for External Affairs, but if the right honorable gentleman is willing to answer it he may do so.
– I was about to suggest thatperhapsthe honorable member might refer to this very interesting and important matter during the debate on international affairs that is to ensue on the statement in relation to the matter that I have made. If he does so, I shall endeavour to reply to his observations.
Land Settlement of exServicemen. Mr. McEWEN.- Can the Minister for the Interior say whether any plan has yet been formulated to aid ex-servicemen to take up land in the Northern Territory on a basis comparable with land settlement schemes which have been agreed to by Commonwealth and State Governments? Further, can he say whether any ex-servicemen have yet been allotedlandintheNorthern Territory and,ifnot,willhesaywhetheritisthe intentionoftheGovernmenttomakeland availablethereforsettlementbythem..
– The settlement of ex-servicemen on land in the Northern Territory has been considered by the Government, and has also been the subject of negotiations with organizations of exservicemen in the Territory. The honorable member for Indi will appreciate the difficulties associated with land. settlement there.
– It is difficult, but not, impossible.
– It is not easy to devisea satisfactory land settlement schemeforthe Northern Territory because of the large area, and the amount of capital required to ensure success. The subjecthas been investigated from every angle, with the object of formulatinga policy which will be acceptable to the men concerned. The Government will give every encouragement to ex-servicemen to settle in the Northern. Territory
-I shall do my best to see that one of the right honorablemember’ssuggestionsisgiveneffect.The memorandumwill,Ibelieve,beofassis- tance to honorable members,but either of the suggestions indicated by him, if adopted, would makeitof greater value.
-In view of confusing reports that trade unions are divided on the decision of the Australasian Council of Trades Unions to call a nation-wide stoppage of work on the 1st May next, will the Prime Minister ascertain the actual position and inform’ the House accordingly, for the information of unionists; and the nation generally? Further; will he say whether the- Government- proposes te take action to prevent such a stoppage^ which would entail much loss and suffering ?
– I have no intention to ascertain from anybody what degree of confusion exists among trade unionists on the subject referred to by the honorable member.
– A statement setting out the exact position might encourage those unionists who do not want a nation-wide stoppage.
– Although I disagreewith: stoppages of the kind to which reference has been made, I do not propose to consult with the Australasian Council of Trade Unions or any one else about it.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping aware that large quantities of structural and engineering steel are lying on. the- wharfs at Newcastle,, that ships are not taking full cargoes from that port, and that, in consequence/ engineering workshops in Melbourne are closing down-, thereby creating unemployment? Willhe investigate this matter with a view to ensuring that- ships leave ports with full cargoes?
– I am not aware that the position is as stated by the honorable gentleman, but I shall ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping to make inquiries with a view to improving matters should they be as stated by the honorable member.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs prepared to make public the titles of the seven American films which have been banned by the Commonwealth Film Censor?
– I shall refer- the honorable- member’s question to the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– Ls the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping aware that a number of exservicemen who own garages are- unable to- obtain licences to sell petrol? As other persons’appear to have no difficulty in- obtaining licences, will he refer the: matter to bis colleague, with a view to ex-service* men who are genuine owners of garages: being given just treatment?
– I shall refer the hon’orable member’s question to the Minister for Supply and- Shipping.
Motion (by Mr. Archie- Cameron) proposed -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional’ Orders be suspended as would prevent Notice of Motion No. 2,. General Business, being considered forthwith..
– Last Thursday the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) submitted a similar motion. That motion was- negatived on a division. On the following day an identical motion was made by the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons). I allowed that motion to be discussed because I desired the view of the House on the matter to be expressed beyond ail doubt. That motion also was negatived on a division. The House has, by its vote, decided against the suspension of the Standing and Sessional Orders for a certain specific purpose, and the motion now proposed is out of order because it contravenes Standing Order 125, which reads -
No Question or Amendment shall be proposed which is the same in substance as any Question which, during the same Session, hasbeen resolved in the affirmative or negative.
I therefore rule the motion out of order.
– I rise to order. It may be that, in this instance, the Prime Minister will agree that the Standing Orders should bc suspended. He might relent-
– Order ! The Prime Minister may relent or he may not, buthe Standing Orders remain the same.
Debate resumed from the 5th March, (vide page 359), on motion by Dr. Evatt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill is a classic example of action which the Government has been forced to take in order to cover up the mistake of one of its instruments, namely, the Stevedoring Industry Commission. The commission decided that waterside workers should receive 16s. a day attendance money on those days when they did not work. This amount was eventually reduced by the Government to 12s., and the present bill is designed to raise money in the form of tax in order to pay attendance money to the waterside workers. The decision of the commission to pay attendance money was improper in the first place, because no temporary body of the kind had power to take such action. In the past, the Arbitration Court administered industrial awards. Indeed, in this instance, it was the Arbitration Court that fra.med the award for the waterside workers. The cost of administering awards was borne by Consolidated Revenue. Now, the Government has decided to take the stevedoring industry out of the Arbitration Court, and place it in the hands of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. I doubt whether any bill of this kind would have been introduced had it not been necessary to cover up the improper action of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. The effect of the bill is to impose a tax of 4Jd. per manhour, and it is calculated that the tax will return approximately £550,000 a year. Of this, about £350,000 will be needed to pay attendance money, while the remaining £250,000 will be used to meet the administrative expenses of the commission. There was never any reason why the commission should have ruled that attendance money be paid. The Arbitration Court had fixed a wage of 4s. an hour for waterside workers, because it recognized the casual nature of the work; but the commission, acting under pressure, ordered that attendance money be paid in addition.
That is one aspect of the matter, and it is an important one - important enough in itself to merit a full debate in this House. However, there is another aspect, namely, that the machinery of the Taxation Department will be used to collect this money at a time when that Department is itself under criticism for the tremendous power which resides in the hands of the Commissioner for Taxation. I recognize that it is essentially a committee bill to set up the machinery for financing the operations of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. The Government now proposes to separate the functions of the Arbitration Court, and to set up little pockets of control all over the country. These, instead of being financed out of Consolidated Revenue, as is the Arbitration Court, are to be financed by burdens placed directly upon the industries themselves - a most important departure from principles hitherto observed. The Stevedoring Industry Commission has been criticized in this House for failing to do its job of administering war-time regulations, but the principle of commission-control is now to be perpetuated. It is something which the Government proposes to foist upon the industry. The Government, in effect, says, “ We are not interested in the efficiency of your side of the industry; we are responsive only to the pressure exerted upon us by the waterside workers. Therefore, you must take it and like it. Not only must you take it and like it, but you must also pay for it “. This will have a prejudicial effect on the industry, and also upon shippers, because the extra burden must be reflected in increased freight charges. Every measure introduced by the Government in recent years clarifies the pattern of socialization which is part of the Labour party’s policy. Under the Stevedoring Industry Bill, this industry will be completely socialized ; and, indeed, the amendment which has just been forecast makes it perfectly clear that the Government proposes to take active steps-
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the bill before the Chair. The amendment to which he refers is not yet under consideration.
– I referred to the Amendment in passing, because it also is a form of socialism which the Government has accepted and appears to have made up its mind to embody in every piece of legislation it introduces. This measure has the effect of applying what one may describe as double taxation. Already the taxpayers are being taxed in order to finance the industrial courts. They are being taxed to finance all payments prescribed under awards in respect of the watersiders’ work. This bill will impose another form of taxation. The taxpayers will now be compelled to meet not only payments involved .under this measure, but also the cost of the establishment of the Stevedoring Industry Commission, which is estimated at nearly £600,000. But that is only a first smack; we can envisage the astronomical proportions to which that cost will ultimately develop. It is a good start when the Government sets up a new industrial commission and says to the taxpayers: “ Notwithstanding the fact that we are already taxing you to meet the administrative charges of all our industrial courts, we are now setting up another body in that sphere, and we propose to tax you still further not only to meet the administrative charges of the commission, but also to pay attendance money to the waterside workers “. The provision of attendance money was bitterly criticized when the Stevedoring Industry Bill was before the House. It is true whilst this tax will be extorted from .the stevedoring and shipping companies, they will have the right to pass it on; and of course, the tax, ultimately, will be passed on to the unfortunate producer, or shipper, who will thus have to defray the costs of attendance money and the administration of the commission. The Stevedoring Industry Commission, having improperly granted attendance money, the Government now geeks to cover up that blunder and looks to the shipper to bear the cost involved. I do not know whether the proposed rate of 4£d. per man hour is too high. Perhaps, the estimate has been worked out between the Government and those who must provide the wherewithal; but the total estimate appears to be nearly £600,000.
– The estimate is £550,000.
– I venture to say that that figure will be increased to £1,550,000 before the Stevedoring Industry Commission has been operating for many years. As I have said, the estimate of approximately £600,000 is a very large sum of money, and that money will be extorted from the stevedoring companies. 1 should like to know from the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) what is going to happen should the waterside workers go on strike, because in those circumstances the estimate of collections in respect of attendance money on the basis of 4£d. per man-hour will not be realized. Should such circumstances arise will the Government draw upon Consolidated Revenue, or impose additional charges upon the stevedoring companies, in order to make up the deficit? Should only half of the wharf labourers work during a given period, who will provide the balance of the amount estimated to be required to finance the commission? Does it mean that an additional charge of say 9d. per man-hour, or ls. per man-hour, will be imposed in order to finance the scheme? Those questions raise interesting possibilities, because the Stevedoring Industry Commission has been brought into being in order to establish peace on the waterfront. The present temporary commission has failed to achieve that objective. Earlier this afternoon I pointed out that its administration has led to riots in Sydney, and members of Parliament are being bashed in the Sydney Domain because they dare to express their opinion as to what should be done to establish peace on the waterfront. Therefore, it seems that the new commission will be still-born, because the existing body has not proved effective and exercises no control over the men. This bill is the outcome of a weakness in the existing commission, because it is designed to enable the new commission to do something which a temporary body could not do; and now the Government asks the Parliament to co-operate with it in covering up a mistake made by the existing body. There are other interesting aspects of the measure. For example, sub-clause 4 of clause 10 reads -
Nothing in this section shall he deemed to prohibit the Commissioner, Second Commissioner, or a Deputy Commissioner, or any person thereto authorized by him from communicating any information to -
I pause to draw attention to the fact thatthis measure will be generally administered by the Commissioner of Taxation, and the references in this clause are to the Commissioner, Second Commissioner, or a Deputy Commissioner of Taxation, the sub-clause continues - (a)the Stevedoring IndustryCommission or any member or officer of that Commission;
It is quite clear that the Commissioner of Taxation is to be given power to convey any information which he may discover in the books of the stevedoring companies to any one of the instrumentalities set out in this clause and the Stevedoring Industry Commission will have the right to call for the books of employers, because clause 15 provides - (1.) For the purpose of inquiring into or ascertaining the liability of any person under any of the provisions of this Act, the Commissioner may, by notice in writing, require any person -
There we have the complete hog-tying of the stevedoring companies. Power is vested intheCommissionerof Taxation to requirethe production, of any books that may haveany bearing upon their activities and anything which the commissioner may find in those ‘books may be conveyed to the authorities to which I have referred. Whilst I do not condonemalpracticesin any business undertaking or industry,I assert that a definite duty devolves upon the taxation officers to treat with confidence documents which may be produced for their examination. Under this measure power will be given for the complete tying up of the stevedoringcom- panies, and when any mistake is made by them the full authority of the Commissioner of Taxation can be applied. Clause 9 of the bill reads - (1.) The Commissioner shall furnish to the Treasurer annually, for presentation to the Parliament, a report onthe workingof this Act. (2.) In the report the Commissioner shall draw attention to any breachesor evasions of the Act which have come under his notice.
That throws into high relief the powers which the Commissioner of Taxation may exercise. I am concerned about some recent disclosures made by the Commissioner of Taxation in a report relating to the activities of certain retail stores. It should be an accepted principle that any person who makes outside the Parliament statements which reflect upon the integrity of others, whether they be individuals, companies or corporations, shall be subject to challenge at law. It is true that members of Parliament frequently take advantage of parliamentary privilege in criticizing the activities of others ; but if, outside the House, they made reflectionsupon persons or companies similar to those made by the Commissioner of Taxation regarding certain retail firms, they would be subject to a challenge at law. I take strong exception to the fact that persons, other than representatives of the people in the Parliament, should be permitted by way of written report to make charges against individuals, firms, companies or corporations, without being subject to liability to prove the accuracyof such charges.
– The honorable member must connect his remarks with the bill.
– My remarks are, in my opinion, strictly relevant to the bill. The point I make is that power is to be given to the Commissioner of Taxation to have access to the books of an industry of the business of which he knows nothing. Although he may have no practical knowledge of the industry he may place his own interpretation upon the acts of those engaged in it. He may even unwittingly reflect upon the integrity of persons engaged in it, but they will have no redress under the law. The High Court has recently upheld the authority of the Commissioner of Taxation to make privileged statements in his report to the Parliament. The same powers are to be given to him with respect to the stevedoring industry as he now possesses under the general income tax legislation. Why should such power be given specifically in respect of the stevedoring industry? The “Commissioner of Taxation may have no specific knowledge of the customs or practices that have grown up over the years in any particular industry. The attitude of the Commissioner of Taxation is that he does not care about established practices in an industry. He says, “ To me it appears that some evasion has taken place, and I therefore propose that in my report to the Parliament I shall blast your name and you will have no right to challenge my observations “. The provision specifically giving the Commissioner of Taxation power to do that, of course, applies to the employer; but what do we find with regard to the employee? No action has been taken by this Government to include in the bill a specific clause that the books of the Waterside Workers Federation shall be made available to the Commissioner of Taxation. It is true that the Commissioner has general power to examine them, and I do not know why that general power should not be sufficient to enable the Commissioner of Taxation to carry out what he-may regard as a necessary investigation of the affairs of the stevedoring industry. It is obvious that the Government’s intention is to render the task of the stevedoring industry so difficult as to create a specious reason for the nationalization of the industry.
This is a machinery bill, in respect of a number of clauses of which we shall require specific information from the Minister. It is extraordinary to find that the Government should introduce a measure into this House to cover up or to validate some improper act of the existing Stevedoring Industry Commission. If that commission had not committed the Government to an expenditure from Consolidated Revenue of £350,000 for the payment of attendance money, a “bill such as this would never have been introduced. The Government says, in effect, “You have made a mistake that has cost us £350,000. We do not consider that we should carry that burden. We -believe that the industry itself should carry it, and therefore we intend to levy on the employers a charge of 4£. for each man-hour of employment on the waterfront in order to finance the administrative expenses and attendance money payments incurred by the commission”. It is a poor state of affairs when a commission is able to force the Government to introduce a bill the effect of which will be to impose double taxation upon certain individuals.
.- Although this measure appears to be almost book-like in its scope, a close examination of it shows that it could be condensed into one sentence. Its sole intention is that industry generally shall be taxed by over £550,000 a year in addition to the heavy imposts already levied. It is merely a taxation measure. On almost every page of it reference is made to the powers and duties of the Commissioner of Taxation and his deputies. It states how much money is recoverable, and what shall happen to the unfortunate stevedoring companies which fail to meet his demands. The bill provides that the Commissioner of Taxation may force them into bankruptcy, and recover moneys from their assets’? What taxes are already levied upon industry? First there is the payroll tax which is substantial, and then there is the sales tax which has wide application. Although this new tax is to be imposed, ostensibly, upon organizations employing waterside workers, in practice the charge will he passed on to industry generally. Clause 12 provides that the charge in respect of the employment of any waterside worker shall be paid by the employer of that waterside worker, but it also states that an employer shall have the right to recover the amount of the charge from the person to whom an account is rendered. In plain terms it means that this tax can be passed on, and will in effect be an additional imposition on the cost of loading and unloading ships. Although the stevedoring companies and shipping companies showed some concern at first because of the proposal to impose this tax upon them, they soon found .that their fears were groundless because the bill would entitle them to add 5 per cent, or 10 per cent, to their present charges. Who, then, will ultimately pay this tax? It will be paid on exports - I am ignoring imports for the moment because it is difficult to analyze them - and as 90 per cent, of our exports are primary products, the burden finally will rest upon the primary producers. These unfortunate individuals will not be able to pass on the charge. The bill does not provide that the primary producers may recover this money from the the Government, or that if their already enormous difficulties are increased, relief will be granted to them. The primary producer will be forced eventually to appeal to the Parliament, through his elected representative, for assistance. He is being driven into a corner. Probably the Government will eventually grant him some relief in the form of a subsidy, and then in the Domain and elsewhere, government supporters will refer in sneering tones to these “ beggars “ on the Government’s doorstep, as they have referred in the past to dairy-farmers and others.
This measure is unworthy of the time of honorable members. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) has given a clear exposition of its purpose, which as 1 have said, is to force the people of Australia, mainly the primary producers, to subsidize the waterside workers to the tune of 12s. for every day that they lie in their beds listening for a call for labour which they hope will not come. Although a considerable portion of the bill has been devoted to definitions I cannot find any definition of a “manhour “. What does it mean ? Does it mean the time that a waterside worker is engaged specifically on the task of loading or unloading ships, or does it include his “listening” time as well? That, however, is a detail. The main fact is that £550,000 a year is to be taken from the community and paid to this particular section of workers who have defied the Government for the last two years. This is to be a reward for their defiance of the law. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) has been more humiliated than any other member of the Government by the organization that this bill is designed to benefit. The waterside workers have taken the foreign policy of this country out of the right honorable gentleman’s hands.
– Order ! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the bill.
– I am coming back to the bill now. I am merely drawing attention to what has been done by the men who are to benefit by this measure.
– The bill deals with the imposition, assessment, and collection of a certain charge.
– It is a bill for an act “ relating to the imposition, assessment and collection of a charge in respect of the employment of waterside workers “. I think I am entitled to show the origin of this bill.
– I do not think so. That matter is dealt with in the bill debated of last week.
– I will not labour the subject, because it is well-known. If there is in this country a reward for those who seek to gain their own ends by putting the Government “ on the spot, “ that .reward is in evidence to-day.
– The question before the House is “That the bill be now read a second time “. I move -
That all the words after “he” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “read a second time after the Stevedoring Industry Bill 1947 has been returned from the Senate with the views of that House on clauses 22 to 25 (2.) of that bill.”.
I do so with the specific object of once more calling the attention of the workers of this country to the initiation of a system that in my opinion will eventually lead to industrial conscription. I believe that clauses 22 to 25, and particularly sub-clause 2 of the last-mentioned clause, of the Stevedoring Industry Bill are the root of the troubles inherent in that bill. Until the Senate has dealt with them we should hold up this measure, the operation of which is entirely dependent on the passage of the Stevedoring Industry Bill through the Senate. If that bill is not passed by the Senate this bill will be absolutely inoperative. It is my belief that if the dangers inherent in that bill should become thoroughly known to the masses of the people of this country that measure will he rejected by the Senate in no uncertain terms.
.- Before saying why I support the amendment; moved by the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons). I desire to make a few general observations on the hill. The measures necessary to give effect to the Government’s plan to control the stevedoring industry are the Stevedoring Industry Bill, which passed through this House last week, the Stevedoring Industry Charge Assessment Bill, with which we are now dealing, and the Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill, which will be founded on a resolution of a Committee of Ways and Means. The bill passed last week might well be described as “ an act to destroy the Australian system of compulsory arbitration and introduce a system of industrial conscription “.
-Order! The right honorable member is not entitled to debate the Stevedoring Industry Bill, but must confine his remarks to the bill before the House.
– This bill might properly be described as “ a bill designed to destroy the sea-borne trade of Australia “. The measures to be taken after the passage of this bill will clearly indicate how that will he done. Ninety per cent, of Australia’s interstate trade is by sea. Ships carry our goods abroad. Under this and related measures nearly £600,000 a year will be added to freights, . because, as the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has rightly pointed out, this bill provides for the charge to be passed on to the exporters and importers. We have heard a great deal about the impossibility of the Government providing the money to endow the first child of a family. A pay-roll tax of 2£ per cent, is levied which assists to provide funds with which to endow all children but the first in each family. The charge to be levied under the Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill will be 4½d. a man-hour on a wage of 4s. an hour. That is to say that the charge will be 8-J per cent. It is a pay-roll tax at almost four times the rate of the pay-roll tax levied to finance child endowment. The money collected under the Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill is to be used to pay attendance money to waterside workers if they are not required to work and to provide certain amenities in connexion with the stevedoring industry. It is- a scandal that the Parliament should be complacent enough to provide for the imposition, assessment and collection of a charge of 8-J per cent, on the pay-roll of those controlling the stevedoring industry when the Government pleads that it has insufficient money to endow the first child, which is much more important than anything contained in this measure. I direct the attention of honorable members to the almost empty Government benches at a time when legislation such as this is being debated. It is to a great degree true that, as was said by the honorable member for Richmond, the charge will fall entirely on the exporters and importers, but it will bear upon every consumer. It may be that the exporter will not be able to pass on the charge and that it will have to be taken from the pittance that he gets for his goods, but, as you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, know from your business dealings, the charge will be levied on goods handled on the wharfs. The result of the charge will be that what is regarded as a reasonable amount to bc paid for labour on the waterfront will be increased by 8^ per cent. This country is cursed with breaks of gauge which are not likely to be eliminated for years, that considerably militate against the use of railways’ for the interstate transport of goods. The use of the railway system will not he a means of escaping increased interstate sea f freights. It is disgraceful when every one should be endeavouring to reduce the costs of production’ that the Government should even contemplate levying a charge like this, which is to be collected not by the Stevedoring Industry Commission but by the Taxation Commissioner. I direct attention to the fact that the size of this bill is almost’ equal to that of the Income Tax Assessment Act. This bill relates to the imposition, assessment and collectionof a charge of 4$d. per mair hour worked by men employed on tie waterfront. The Income Tax Assessment Act relates to a Himalayan sum of money compared with the amount that will be collected under this legislation. The Government is using a steam hammer to crack a nut. I agree entirely with, the views expressed by the honorable member for Darwin. This bill and its associated measures’ represent the thin edge of the wedge of industrial conscription. If the Government can, by one means or’ another, prevent certain people from obtaining work in a certain industry, it’ can do so’ in relation to any other indus1 try. The enactment of this legislation may bring great misfortune upon Australia.
– I havehad an opportunity to examine theamendment submitted by the honorablemember for Darwin (Dame Enid’ Lyons).,, and I find that it is’ out of order. The relevant standing orders are StandingOrders 160, 161,. and. 162, which are asfollows: -
IGO. On the Order, of the Day being read for the second-reading of a Bill, the Question shall be proposed “ That- this Bill be now reada second time “. 1’61. Amendment’s may be moved to such Question by leaving out “ now “ and adding “ this day six months,” which, if carried, shall finally dispose of the Bill.; or the Previous Question anay be moved. 1G2. No other amendment may be moved’ to such Question except in the form of a resolution strictly relevant to the Bill.
The amendment submitted by the’ honorable member for Darwin does not comply with those requirements, and I therefore rule it out of order.
– Lyons. - Would I be inorder in amending the terms of my amendment ?
– The honorable member may do so by leave of the House.
. -6-!/ leave - I move -
That the word “ now “ be left out, and that the words “ this day six months “ be- added to the question.
My reasons for doing so are precisely the same’ as those which I stated previously.
’.^ I ha’-ve much pleasure- in- supporting tie amendment. The Government ha:s actedprematurely in bringing this- bill before the House at- this stage. Last week the House dealt with the Stevedoring Industry BiB, but that measure has1 not been passed by the Senate. Therefore, it ha’s not yet become law. During the passage of that bill. the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt’) endeavoured to impress’ upon us the freedom and independence that would be’ enjoyed by the commission proposed’ to be established’ under its terms’. To-day we are asked to pass a taxation measure which will’ not be necessary until such time a’s the proposed commission is established and has confirmed existing awards, or made new awards’ that will require financial support. The- purpose of this’- legislation is entirely in accordance with the Government’s’ policy. None of t’he existing industrial authorities’ has? Che’ full support -of- the’ Government. They’ are either side-tracked1 or overridden. _ This bill is based: upon the assumption that the prospective commission, when appointed’, will confirm- a’ decision of a previous commission.
– Order ! The honorable member appears’ to be attempting to debate a bill- which has already been passed by this House. He must confine his remarks to the bill now before the chamber.
-Surely we’ are entitled t’o discuss this bill in the light of the liabilities that the Government may be called upon to’ meet under itsprovisions.
– The main purpose of’ this bill is to finance the payment of’ attendance money- to waterside workers, f do not wish- to- discuss the” merits’ or demerits: of such’ payments; but it is only fair that I should discuss’ the reasons’ w.hy they were authorized5. Late las* year,, the .Stevedoring’ Industry Commission, in’ its wisdom, or folly; ruled that waterside- workers who attended’ pick-up places but were not called upon to workshould be paid attendance money at the rate of l’6s. a” day The Prime Minister after hia usual careful examination of the’ position^ overruled, that decision and’’ decided that the rate should’ be 12s. a day. This bill anticipates the decision of the’ now commission on this subject. In this connexion, I draw the attention of the’ House to a judgment delivered on the 11th February of this year by Judge Foster, who had. been asked to adjudicate upon certain questions in- relation to waterside work. Although lie. did not make any award on the subject of attendance money,. Judge Foster did’ state that there was some case for the payment of attendance money to waterside workers in view of the fact that,, by a special order of the Stevedoring Industry Commission,, they were compelled to hold themselves in attendance in respect of every daily pickup; That order was made under National’ Security Regulations,, and I do not. know whether it will be upheld by the commission to be appointed. However,, the new commission may reasonably hold the view that,, whilst waterside workers are entitled to attendance money when, they attend, pick-up places but are not. engaged for work, they should- also be subject to a fine equal, to the attendance fee if they fail to. attend, pick-up. places when instructed.” to. do so. In that event; the amount, of the Commonwealth’s liability in respect of the attendan.ee money may be much, less than the Attorney-General expects. Thousands of men on the. waterfront to-day refuse to attend pick-up places and. refuse, to accept, work that is available to them. This measure, is extremely premature in view of our lack of knowledge of the liability which may be placed upon the Treasury to finance the payment of attendance fees. Certain- of the. powers which the. new commission will possess, will involve expenditure.; but. the House is not in a position at this stage to make even an approximate estimate- of these liabilities’. The introduction of this bill at this juncture’ is completely in line with the policy of this Government. It’ has1 always insisted; that- industrial authorities- such- as the- Stevedoring Industry Commission- and. the. Maritime Industry Commission, -were entirely freefrom political influence; but we- knowthat they have, been completely under thedomination either of trade, unions or the Government. How can any industrial authority give an unprejudiced or independent decision when things: like, this occur from day; to day?-
– What things?
M-r. McBRIDE. - I refer to the- action of the Government in asking this House to vote money to meet liabilities which the Stevedoring Industry Commission has not yet incurred. The- new authority has not yet Been created1. How can the Government anticipate what the financial requirements of that body will be? Birt by this action, the Government gives alead’ to the waterside- workers^ and other trade unionists, who are ma-king’ claims’ upon Commonwealth! industrial” authorities for increases- of wages and improved conditions. In this instance, the Government says to the’ waterside workers, “You ask’ for attendance money, amenities and improved’ conditions, because the necessary money will be collected’”! For somes years, these trade’ unionists have not required any encouragement of this nature’ from the- Government or any other authority. One of the tragedies’ of the present time is’ that Australia has been prevented by incessant hold-ups- in’ many of its most important industries from proceeding to- implement its post-war programme. Unless this Government is prepared, not only to give authority to its industrial tribunals, but also to support the enforcement of their awards, this unfortunate position will not improve. According to reports in the- newspapers - probably they are completely unfounded - the Government does not propose to proclaim, the Stevedoring Industry Bill, because of the constant stoppages in Australian ports. If that be the intention of the Government, surely there is no urgent need for- the Parliament to pass this bill’. I, for one; have much, pleasure in supporting the amendment, and if it be defeated, I shall oppose the second reading of the bill.
.- A superficial examination exposes this bill as a raxing measure designed to raise approximately £600,000 from shipowners for the purpose of meeting the expenses of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. As the result of that superficial examination, I desire to offer several criticisms. I find it extraordinary that, for the first time in our industrial history, the machinery of arbitration will be financed by the particular industry in which the workers concerned are employed. That proposal is without precedent, and the principle underlying it is very curious and unjustifiable. I do not know whether this industry alone will be required to finance its own arbitration system, or whether the Government intends eventually to introduce some device that will compel each industry to do so. I always believed that the principle of arbitration was so deeply implanted and so completely accepted in Australia that the cost of making awards should be a charge against the budget. Therefore, I object to the proposed tax as I regard it as a departure from established principles.
I object also to this proposal on more general grounds. As the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) pointed out, honorable members should not think for a moment that this tax will be borne ultimately by the shipowners. The truth is that those people who are not able to pass on the impost will bear it. The Government will meet the expenses of the commission by means of an indirect tax rather than by a direct tax. An indirect tax is a most vicious form of taxation, because it eventually bears more heavily upon the community generally than does any direct tax, and the responsibility for having imposed it is not so evident. In fact, the responsibility is eventually forgotten.
– It “ pyramids upwards” all the time.
– I was about to explain that. A direct tax, like the income tax, is the first and last imposition. The indirect tax which will be levied under this bill will be imposed upon the shipowner, who will pass it on in freights and other charges to the importer, who will pass it on to the wholesaler, who will’ pass it on to the retailer, who will pass it on to the consumer. That is a brief description of the process of passing on an indirect tax. We know that, in the channels of tradeand commerce, the tax will be passed, on by many more people than the few whom I mentioned. Do those people passon the exact amount of tax! We know that they do not. With the sales tax they do not. The wholesaler or retailer who pays sales tax marks up the price of hisgoods in order to make a profit, not only on the actual price of the goods, but alsoon the sales tax. As the right honorablemember for Cowper (Sir Earle Page)stated, an indirect tax of this kind continually “ pyramids upwards “ until theultimate purchaser - the home-consumer or an export industry - will bear the tax;, aud the amount of the impost on the final transaction may be twice as much as theoriginal tax. Therefore, from the standpoint of public finance, this proposal is bad. The Government, which proclaims itself in favour of anti-inflationary measures, should take the sound, antiinflationary course of meeting the charges of the Stevedoring Industry Commission out of the annual budget. Although protests are now being made against this proposed tax, the impost later will be completely forgotten, and become simply another small load on our export industries and on the cost of living. This indirect tax will be just one more reason why the basic wage earner will wonder why his wages do not nearly meet the cost of living. Partly as the result of this imposition, tho values of our exports will fall, and we shall be less able, as a primaryproducing country, to bear the impact of the decline. For those two reasons which I have mentioned, namely, the new principle of making industry pay for the cost of arbitration and the unsoundness financially of the plan, the proposal ia a bad one.
At the outset, I explained what a superficial examination of the measure revealed. A detailed examination discloses that it is a part of the mechanics for financing the Stevedoring Industry Bill. I objected to the entire proposal, and I feel impelled to object to this aspect of it. The purpose of this legislation is to secure industrial peace on the waterfront and to expedite the handling of goods more effectively than under the present system. For the good of this country, and for the export industries, I would be prepared to tolerate almost any measure if I were convinced that, irrespective of its viciousness, its immediate application would achieve the ultimate result of peace on the waterfront and the expeditious handling of cargoes. But will this measure achieve this end? For two reasons, I am sure that it will have exactly the opposite effect. The first is that it will produce an unbalanced condition in the payment of men for their services in the various industries in which they are employed. The soundness of arbitration in this country rests upon one simple authority which bases its awards for various industries by relating one to another. The very basis of industrial peace is that men in one industry shall not feel that they are being worked longer hours, or paid lower wages, than their fellow men in another industry. No more deadly threat could be made to the industrial peace of this country than to embark upon a course of action which is bound to cause thousands of men to believe that . come work under more favorable awards than do others. Therefore, I contend that this is a bad principle.
My second objection is that this bill reveals the success of pressure politics. If it is once demonstrated that a government can be coerced into giving special consideration to one section of the workers merely by the application of political pressure and the creation of continuous industrial unrest, it is a bad day for Australia. Who are the people who have obtained this favoured treatment? The waterside workers ! They will have their own industrial tribunal. Alone among the workers in this country, they are to be paid for working and not working.
– Order ! The honorable member is embarking on a speech which may have been a very good one had it been delivered on the Stevedoring Industry Bill. The measure now before the chamber provides for the levying of a charge for the purpose of financing that bill. Whilst the argument advanced by the honorable member may be a good one, it is irrelevant to this measure.
– I quite understand your ruling, Mr. Speaker; but my view is that I should oppose this charge because it will achieve a certain result. If my opposition -to this charge has allowed my imagination to take flight-
– There is no provision in the Standing Orders for imagination.
– I do not desire to discuss the Stevedoring Industry Bill. However, I emphasize that the object of the bill now before the House is to levy a special tax for a definite purpose and for the immediate advantage of one section of workers-
– Order ! My earlier ruling applies to the latter portion of the honorable member’s remarks. The House has already decided that a commission shall be set up. This bill deals with the method of financing its operations. It may be a good or a bad charge, but the merits of whether the Stevedoring Industry Bill should or should not have been introduced have nothing to do with this bill.
– I do not desire to canvass your ruling, Mr. Speaker, or discuss whether a commission should be set up. What I am entitled to canvass is whether this commission should be financed in the way proposed in this bill. To reach a conclusion on that, I feel bound to examine the historical background which led to the introduction-
– Order !
– The proposal to levy a special tax upon goods handled and upon wages paid on the waterfront is a privilege which has been secured by reason of the pressure applied by the Waterside Workers Federation.
-Order ! Those remarks may have been quite applicable to the debate on the Stevedoring Industry Bill, but the House is now considering whether the method proposed for raising the money required under that measure is sl .sound one. The honorable member has plenty of ‘scope without transgressing “the -Standing Orders.
– I desire to refer to’ the alternative methods of financing the Stevedoring Industry Commission. This bill is designed to .finance that body by the imposition of a special tax. I have already referred to an alternative method, namely, to finance it out of Consolidated Revenue. I submit that I am quite entitled to present to the House an alternative method-
– The Chair has .not questioned that.
– To support my argument for the alternative method, I am bound to examine the arguments that. have been adduced in favour of this .measure. So I point out that the adoption of this device for financing the arbitration machinery of this industry can be interpreted only as a victory for a union.
– A victory for the Waterside Workers Federation ! It is a victory which goes beyond that achieved by any other industrial organization.
– Order ! The alleged victory of the Waterside Workers Federation has nothing to do with this bill. The House is considering whether the proposed charge is a good or bad one.
– My argument is that the victory of the “Waterside Workers Federation not only has something to do with it, but also is the very origin of this bill. Turning to another aspect, I consider that such a charge as the proposed levy to finance the Stevedoring Industry Commission ought not to be applied to certain other industrial tribunals which have been established outside the ambit of -the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, namely the Coal Tribunal and the Maritime Industry Commission. The industries with which those bodies are associated have secured for themselves arbitration machinery outside the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and they have one common denominator in that each of them is an industrial organization dominated by Communists.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman is again defying the
Chair. If he persists in doing so, I shall have to ask him to resume his seat.
– I do not desire to defy the Chair; but I do wish to make my point. ‘I conclude by saying that, in the circumscribed manner in which I am permitted to discuss this measure-
– Order ! .The honorable gentleman is circumscribed by the Standing Orders, and must cast no reflection on the Chair.
– I desire to make a -speech, not to indulge in a dialogue. I conclude by saying that, notwithstanding the Standing Orders, I have said most of what I wanted to say.
– This bill arises naturally out of the Stevedoring Industry Bill that was passed last week. In my view, the circumstances in which that measure was passed were such that this bill should not be proceeded with until we know the .final shape which the act will take as the result of the deliberations upon .the bill in the Senate. Certain requests ‘for the amendment of the other bill were made during the consideration of it in committee - requests of which, doubtless, you, Mr. Speaker, are not aware - and there were disputes, quite open and public, between the Minister in charge of the bill (Dr. Evatt) and the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward). It was quite obvious that Ministers themselves were not satisfied with the shape in which the other bill left this chamber. In the circumstances, the Attorney-General promised to have certain matters examined, and probably to have amendments made in the Senate. Those matters are vital. Until we know the final shape in which the legislation will go on the statute-book, the Government is not in a position to ask this House to agree to the Stevedoring Industry Charge Assessment Bill. For that reason, I support the amendment of the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) that the bill be read a second time this day’ -six months. To my mind, the voting of money must be based upon a certain assessment. In this instance, the amount of the vote cannot be known definitely until we know what the Government’s commitments will be: It. is: quite patent to every one- who took part in the debate- on the Stevedoring Industry Bill last Friday that the Government is not itself sure in respect of one of the- most important questionsthat arises under that measure. Until that, question has been resolved, the proper course is for the Government to defer the- further consideration of this measure.. Doubtless, the majority that it has in the Senate will be able to rescue, it from a little difficulty in which it finds itself. A very important principle, to which I am. opposed, has been introduced in this legislation.
– The honorable member is opposed to- everything.
– The honorable member1 for Herbert is> quite wrong. I speak only when I am opposed to anything. If this House were to legislate in .accordance with my views, there would be no need for me to say anything, and the sooner the legislation was passed, the better: Only when the House proceeds along wrong lines, as the honorable member appears to do now and again, do I feel obliged to intervene and tender a little advice and’ correction. On this occasion, the Government is proposing what is a complete innovation. This Parliament has passed legislation in- connexion with the coal, and maritime industries. We have had also before us legislation im regard to arbitration. Will it be argued by the- Attorney-General,” and the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) - who is really responsible for tax measures - that only in respect of the stevedoring industry is a tax to be levied on the people who employ labour in that industry. There are certain costs which the Crown cannot escape in connexion with the administration of coal-mining legislation and that relating to the maritime industry.
– Order ! The honorable member must confine himself to the stevedoring industry.
– An entirely new principle is involved.
– The honorable gentleman may enlarge on that proposition somewhere else,, but not. now.
– I contend with: very great, respect that when the Government, is introducing; into law in. the form of a bill an entirely new principle,, we are entitled to compare its proposal with action of a similar nature that has been taken in a different way by the Government only within the last few months.
– Order ! This is a hill to levy certain charges- for the purpose of carrying out the operations of another bill,, and the honorable member can refer only to this bill and those charges.
– With great respect, I affirm that we cannot carry out anything under a bill. My argument is sound; it i3, that until that bill becomes an act the Government is not entitled to ask, this House to agree to the imposition of any charges.
– Order ! The honorable member must refer to this bill.
– A new principle is here introduced,, which, if applied to every industry that comes within the purview of the Arbitration Court, will produce a state of affairs which the Treasurer may well hesitate to examine. The effect of this bill will be felt in two ways - first, on the primary industries which export; ‘because the proposed charge of 4-Jd. a man hour, provision for which is made in another measure, will be passed on by those who pay it to the Commonwealth Treasury, to those who are exporting, in the form of reduced prices for the goods that are exported. Secondly, the consumers of. Australia will have to defray the charge of 4£d. a man hour which is to be levied on waterside labour, on all goods that come into Australia. Therefore, in whatever way one cares- to argue the matter, it is. incontrovertible that the primary producer and the consumer are to be called on to pay a. tax of 4jd. a man hour on all labour employed on the waterfront in Australia. That will be the lowest amount. The Lord knows’ what the: amount will be by the time, the Government has. fini- hed.
– It will apply to all interstate sea-borne traffic.
– And to intra-state- traffic. No sea-borne traffic whatever will be excluded” from the operation of the tax. The amendment that Ka’s been circulated for consideration when the House resolves itself into committee is one of the most astounding that I have seen, even from the Attorney-General.
– Order ! I have already ruled that no reference may be made to projected amendments. The committee will discuss any amendments at the appropriate time. The House may not discuss them now.
– I quite realize that, and have no desire to discuss the amendment to which I have referred. I simply said that it is an astounding amendment; and there I leave it. An innovation of this description ought to be opposed by every means at the disposal of the Opposition. We appreciate the weakness of our numbers, and have a clear idea of the size of the obstacles that we shall have to shift in a year or two, when this Government will inevitably meet the fate that is in store for it as the result of legislation of the type that it is passing. We desire to keep down costs in this country in every way in which we can, so that we shall have an opportunity to compete overseas. The endeavour must be to keep down the cost of living and the cost, of production in Australia. Yet, the essence of this bill is to reduce the value of our primary exports and increase the cost of living of the consumers of Australia. It is illfounded, ill-conceived, and a really bad measure. It, should not receive the support of the House.
Mr. BERNARD CORSER (Wide Bay) [5.2SJ. - I am opposed, not only to the proposed tax, but also to the reason for the necessity to impose it, namely, the determination of the Communists to withdraw from the Arbitration Court. Lacking this tax bill, there would still be a possibility of the waterside workers remaining within the ambit of the Arbitration Court. They have determined to get away from the court, and the Government has bent its knees in the way they desired, thus permitting the Communists to dictate the terms upon which waterfront employment may be carried on.
-Order ! The honorable member must deal with the bill that is now before the House.
– The charge for which the bill makes provision is the outcome of that alteration of policy. Decisions of the Arbitration Court have been made in the expectation that they would be obeyed. Because that has not been the result, the proposal now is to “ soft-soap “ the Communistprotected waterside workers, and to provide that the community shall find the requisite finance. The bill provides that employers in this industry shall pay between £500,000 and £600,000 a year to these spoon-fed gentlemen. Doubtless, that cost will be passed on, and the burden will fall mainly on the primary producers who export such essential commodities as meat, butter, cheese, sugar and wool, hut those engaged in secondary industries will also have to bear a share. No such charge should be levied on industry, especially at a time when heavy taxes are being demanded from the people. The activities of the Communists are costing Australia many millions of pounds a year. It is not right that 12s. a day should be paid as attendance money to men whose duty it is to load and unload ships, for days on which they do not work.
– The honorable member may not discuss the merits of another bill now.
– The object of this bill is to impose a charge to meet those costs. The Communists have declared war on the community.
– If the” honorable member persists in following the course he is following I shall ask him to resume his seat. He may appear to be clever, but he will find that he is wrong.
– I realize, Mr. Speaker, that you win every time; you are in the Chair.
– I am glad that the honorable member realizes it.
– I have realized it on other occasions also. The inevitable effect of the passing of this measure will be a restriction of trade. Far from keeping the wheels of industry revolving, this legislation will slow them down if, indeed, it does not stop them entirely. The imposition of this charge will not do anything to ensure the steady flow of goods in and out of Australia, nor will it assist in developing Australia’s trade and commerce. We are sending trade commissioners to various countries, at heavy expense to the taxpayers, but of what value will their efforts to encourage trade be if goods are not loaded for export, or unloaded when they arrive in at Australian ports? As I have said, the Communists have declared war on the community, and the result is chaos and loss. Already two measures with which T do not agree have been submitted to us, and there is still another yet to be introduced. Those measures will not do any good; they will not increase production and will not settle any strike. This bill merely imposes an additional heavy burden on the taxpayer, particularly the primary producer who has already suffered much as the result of droughts. The man who rises early to search the sky to see if there is any rain approaching does not get any attendance money, but the waterside worker is to get 12s. a day even though he may not leave his bed.
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the subject before the Chair.
– The amendment is that the bill be read a second time six months hence. Instead of the word “ read “ the spelling should be “ red “ because I see red whenever I think of this measure. Instead of the bill being read a second time now, or at some later date, it ought to be burned; it smells like the potatoes which are rotting on the wharfs because of strikes and strife which it will not prevent.
Jit. WHITE (Balaclava) [5.36].- I oppose the bill, which is merely another imposition on the people. The. already heavily taxed people of Australia - the heaviest-taxed people in the world - will have to provide between £500,000 and £600,000 a year to meet the charges which it imposes. This measure is designed in the interests of a Communist-controlled union. It is one of three measures which could be called “Bills to appease Communists “. It is part of the plan of the Communists to destroy the Arbitration Court.
– The honorable member must discuss the measure before the Chair.
– I shall do so. This bill is a further step in the disintegration of the Arbitration Court, which has served this country well for many years. I think that I am entitled to say that this measure is a part of the general programme of the Communist party.
– The Chair thinks otherwise.
– Legislation of this kind is opposed by the Australian taxpayer because the charge which it seeks to authorize will impose an additional tax on all goods imported and exported. Indeed, it goes further, for it will affect bith interstate and intra-state seaborne trade. I admit that there are some hardworking men on the waterfront, but not every waterside worker is a .hard worker. In any case, these men have obtained awards from the Arbitration Court and special legislation in their interests has been placed on the statute-book. Notwithstanding all these advantages, they persist in paralysing trade and commerce.
– These are the gentlemen for whom we are asked to pass further concessional legislation.
– Unless the honorable member deals with the legislation before the Chair I shall ask him to resume his seat.
– The purpose of this measure is to finance the Stevedoring Industry Commission, but the only people who will benefit by the charges which it seeks to impose will be the members of one union. I take strong exception to this levy. The bill does not even provide for preference to ex-servicemen.
– Unless the honorable member obeys the ruling of the Chair I shall ask him to resume his seat. Much of his argument so far has been out of order.
– I am sorry if I have transgressed the Standing Orders, but these charges have to be met by the general taxpayer. This is class-conscious legislation which we are expected to accept merely because the Government has a majority as the result of the vote of the people some months ago. However, recent happenings in .South Australia and Western Australia show that the writing is cm the wall. Very .soon this Government will he out .of .office ‘and we shall rescind a lot of the legislation it has placed upon the statute-book. .1 support the amendment and oppose the bill .root and branch. The .three bills dealing with the stevedoring industry constitute nothing more or less than Communist appeasement legislation.
– in reply - In answering that portion of :the speeches of honorable members opposite dealing with the financing of the ^Stevedoring Industry Commission
– -That as the only portion of the speeches which the Minister -would he ira order in answering.
– That is the only portion to which I propose to address my remarks. I remind the- House of the -plan under which this arrangement for collecting the levy was made. A total of 30,000,000 man-hours at 4£d. .an hour works out at £562,500. Of that amount administrative expenses of the commission -will account for £150,000, and amenities and contingencies, £50,000. Of hbs remainder, -£350,000 represent attendance money.
– I was not -allowed to discuss that aspect of the bill. When I spoke of the industry “having to pay 4jd. « man hour I was virtually directed by you, Mr. Speaker, to resume my seat.
– With regard to administrative expenses and amenities, the basic report on which this legislation has been founded and introduced is that .of the Foster Commission. In bis report, J.udge Foster said -
These costs of running the bureaux and .of -the Stevedoring Industry Commission, as well as the cost of providing amenities, ot at -least of some part of them, are a proper charge upon the .industry and .should, as they are in many other industries, be borne by it. The most scientific and .satisfactory method of achieving this is the ‘imposition of a -levy.
That is what this bill and its complementary measures are designed to do. That leaves only the question of the financing of attendance’ money. That subject has been referred to by honorable members as though some new method of taxation -were being introduced. Attend- ance money is simply portion of the wages of the waterside workers. The essential feature .of a waterside worker’s occupation up to the present has been the casual nature of his employment.
– I .rise to -order. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser.) was -not allowed to discuss that aspect ‘of the bill.
– I am waiting for the Minister to develop his argument before deciding whether or not his remarks are in order.
– I am pointing out that the casual nature .of the industry-
– Order:! That has nothing to do with this bill, nor has the payment of attendance money. This is a bill to impose a charge for the purpose o’f financing a measure that has already been passed. The Minister may traverse the question as to whether or not the charge is a legitimate levy to be made on. the industry.
-I believe I can comply with your ruling, Mr. .Speaker^ -and at the same time point out the fact that the difficulty of collecting the money from any particular employer or group o’f employers requires some general method of taxation so that the Stevedoring Industry ‘Commission may itself pay theattendance money due to a worker. I am nol; dealing with the rights or wrongs of the payment o’f attendance money; that is ‘for the commission to determine. Once it is determined, however, that it is proper to pay attendance money the question arises as to how best the requisite finance to ay be -collected . The scheme for the collection .of the charge would be impracticable and unworkable unless provision -were made for a ^central bureau to pay to -each individual worker the -.money to which be is entitled. In order to enable .this to be done in an -organized manner it is (proposed to :make :the commission the -medium foi- the ‘Collection -of the -charge. In substance, this will bo a charge .against the industry, just as wages -constitute a charge against industry. Indeed, it is a portion of wages.
– A waterside worker will -not be paid anything if he does not attend when called upon to do so.
– If be does not attend, underthe related measure he may be de-registered for misconduct. This is not taxing the industry any more than wages are a tax on an industry. In certain cases the charge may be passed on. This is really part of the wages cost of carrying on the stevedoring industry, and the method of taxation proposed by the Government is absolutely essential because of the impossibility of collecting the money from individual employers in any other way. Furthermore, this is the method which employers in the industry suggested should be adopted.
– All the employers?
– Yes, both the oversea and the interstate shipowners requested that this method be adopted because the collection of the requisite funds could not be effectively carried out in any other way. Attendance money represents less than 10 per cent, ofthe weekly earnings of waterside workers which, on the average, amount to much less than £7 a week. Almost all of the discussion relative to the passing on of the charge is beside the point. I do not dispute that a charge of this kind may be passed on, it must be passed on in an industry such as this which has a direct monopoly of part of the sea transport services. The charge will not be different from any other wages charge. To regard it as some new form of indirect tax is completely wrong. Two of the three items, administrative expenses £150,000, and amenities and contingencies, £50,000, were recommended specifically in the Foster report as appropriate charges against the industry. The third item, attendance money, which the charge proposed by this bill is intended to cover, and the merits of which I am unable to discuss, was recommended by an independent body, the Stevedoring Industry Commission. The commission has recommended that the payment of attendance money be continued, and the bill before us is designed to enable that to be done.
– The charge was previously met from Consolidated Revenue?
– Yes, and until this bill becomes law it will continue to be paid from Consolidated Revenue. Provision for its payment has in the past been made regularly every year in the budget.
It was not necessary to introduce a specific bill to authorize such payments. Every penny taken in this way is taken as a meansof carrying out either the recommendations of the Foster report or existing or anticipated commitments of the commission. It will be passed on. It has been passed on; and, perhaps, as some honorable members have suggested, to an unfair degree. I do not know. I shall not discuss that aspect. It is just as much a charge as the charge for transport. The charge for transport between Australia and overseas depends upon shipping freights. This is the means - practically the agreed means - of implementing the Stevedoring Industry Bill which was passed last week.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Dame Enid Lyons’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mb. Speaker. - Hon. j. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Sitting suspended from 6.1 to 8 p.m.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 - (1.) In this Act, unless the contrary inten tion appears - “ employer “ means a person who employs waterside workers;
.- I move-
That, in sub-clause ( 1 ) , at the end of the definition of “ employer “, the following words be added: - “ , and includes the Crown in right of a State and an authority constituted under the law of a State “.
The purpose of this amendment is to bring within the scope of the bill, for the purposes of the charge, any State government or authority which is an employer. This would include certain harbour trusts, and in Western Australia, what is called the State Shipping Service, all of whom employwaterside workers from time to time. The amendment makes it clear that such authorities will be subject to the same charges as are other employers.
– This is an amazing amendment. I always understood the State Governments and instrumentalities were free of taxation by the Commonwealth, just as the Commonwealth is free of taxation by the States. Apparently, this is a new departure.
– Then will the Attorney-General inform the committee what State instrumentalities are now subject to Commonwealth taxation? If such an instrumentality as the Western Australian Shipping Service is to be subject to the charge imposed in this bill, then there is no reason why itshould not also be subject to Commonwealth income tax. Will the AttorneyGeneral tell the committee that State abattoirs, State tramways and State railways, all of which are profit-making concerns, are also liable to Commonwealth income tax? Does the AttorneyGeneral say that the Commonwealth is entitled to levy a tax of so many pence per man-hour in respect of persons employed by State railways? This is a preposterous proposal, and should not be accepted by the committee. It seeks to introduce an entirely new principle. If I am wrong in this - and I admit that I am just a farmer, and not a lawyer as is the Attorney-General - then let the AttorneyGeneral get up and say what State instrumentalities are now taxed by the Commonwealth Government. I admit that I do not know of any.
– The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) evidently misunderstands the position. In this bill, we arc dealing with States and State instrumentalities as employers of labour. The bill provides that employers in this industry shall contribute towards the administrative expenses of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. If the commission orders the payment of attendance money to waterside workers, the employers, as a group, shall bear the charge, that being the only way in which the machinery can be operated. The honorable member is arguing that although the 1States. as employers of labour, are bound to pay the wages and observe the conditions fixed by the commission, they shall be exempt from paying the contributions fixed by the commission. I do not think that the honorable member will find anyone in the committee to support his argument. States and State instrumentalities already are liable as employers for pay-roll tax. They are liable as importers to pay customs duty. Forty years ago, one State government thought it should be exempt from Customs duty and the ensuing struggle in what was known as the wire-netting case convulsed the relations between that State and the Commonwealth for some time. In this bill we bring State instrumentalities into the plan qua employers. In 1,920, it was decided that the State Railways Department of Western Australia was bound as an employer to observe federal laws, just as were other employers. That is just and proper. My own opinion is that the word “ employer “ by itself is clear enough, the scheme being so comprehensive, and should be understood to include States and State instrumentalities. However, lest it should be argued that the States are in a position to claim some immunity, we propose now to make it clear by expressed amendment that the word “ employer “ includes the Crown in right of a State, and any authority constituted under the law of a State. Seeing that such an authority is bound to pay the wages appropriate to the industry, why should it not also be bound to pay this charge which is, in essence, a wage charge? If State authorities do not pay the charge, a greater burden is thrown upon other employers, and that would be something of which I am sure the honorable member for Barker would not approve.
– To what degree do States participate as employers in the stevedoring industry?
– I have already explained that in some States harbour trusts, which are State authorities, employ waterside workers on stevedoring operations from time to time, and in Western Australia the State shipping service does the same. Therefore, they should be liable to the same charges as are other employers.
.- It may be that there is more involved in this amendment than has so far been revealed. It may be that this is, in effect, a step towards the destruction of the sovereign rights of the States. In New South Wales, there is in force a Maritime Services Act, under which the Harbour Trust built wharfs and made tremendous improvements around Sydney harbour. This work is now carried on by the Maritime Services Board, which employs persons not only in Sydney Harbour, but also in the outer ports. If the point is conceded that the Commonwealth has the right to over-ride the sovereign rights of States, and place them, as employers, on the same footing as other employers, it may be that we are opening the way for a conservative and hostile Commonwealth government to prevent by taxation a democratic State government from putting into effect pregressive legislation designed for the welfare of the State. Let me cite an, example. There is in Queensland a State Insurance Office, which does a tremendous amount of good for persons who tak© out insurance policies. It may be that a conservative Commonwealth government could tax this State insurance company out of existence, and this principle could be extended to any or every enterprise embarked upon by a State government.
What right has this Parliament to tell :a sovereign State Parliament that its instrumentalities are to be subject to Commonwealth taxation? This question deserves more than the rather brusque consideration that has been given to it by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt). There are innumerable examples that I could mention; but I shall not take up the time of the committee. The fact is that State, enterprises established for the welfare of the people could be taxed out of existence by a hostile Commonwealth government. For instance, at the request of the master brick-makers, a federal administration could impose a tax that would wipe out the State brick works entirely. Similarly, if graziers decided that they wanted their own abattoirs, a Commonwealth government could tax the State abattoirs out of existence. In this way any State enterprise could be stultified or eliminated by a hostile Commonwealth administration. I am loath to believe that the founders of federation ever intended that the Commonwealth Parliament should have the right to interfere with State activities. The sovereign powers of the States must be maintained. Any attempt to destroy those powers is an attempt to undermine federation. It may be argued that this is only a small matter; but all greatthings have their beginning in small matters. The Attorney-General has asked why a State, as an employer, should not pay taxes. I do not say that it- should not pay taxes, but there must be another way to reach that end without exercising a power which possibly might be unconstitutional. I hope, as a federalist, that it will be found to be unconstitutional, and ‘that this Parliament will be denied the right to override sovereign States. This may be a small matter and the next one may be a small matter, but the accumulative effect of many small matters may be very serious indeed. I question whether this action is constitutional, and, even if it is, I believe that the Government could find a -better way of achieving its ends than this roughandready method. When this bill was being prepared the draftsmen no doubt made a thorough examination of all its ramifications, and provision was made for everything that the bill was designed to accomplish. But now, at the committee stage, an amendment has been moved. I am inclined to look rather askance at amendments that are moved at the committee stage of any bill. When a measure is introduced into the Parliament it is open for inspection by anybody who wishes to examine it, and, at the secondreading stage, it is open to criticism by members of Parliament; but, in. this case, something new has been sprung at the committee stage - something about which honorable members knew nothing when they made their second -reading speeches, and about which the general public knows nothing now. The amendment may appear to be innocent enough, but it may have serious effects ultimately. I raise this matter, not in any spirit of hostility, but because I think that it should be given consideration. I. am concerned mainly not with the details of the amendment but with the principle that it embodies.
– I am afraid I cannot leave this matter where the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) has left it. The points that have been raised by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) are weighty, and should be given consideration by the Government. Take for instance, the position of the coal-mining industry. If the Commonwealth Government is entitled to levy a tax of so many pence per man-hour in respect of men employed in the stevedoring industry, then, under other legislation already on the statutebook in respect of coal mines, it is equally entitled to levy a tax of so many pence per man-hour in respect of men employed in the coal mines. I should like the committee to understand just what that would mean. In Victoria, for instance, the biggest coal-mining enterprise is, I understand, a State-owned concern. In South Australia, an attempt is being made to develop the Leigh Creek coal-fields, and I am quite sure that the Parliament of that State will not submit willingly to a tax of this description. In Western Australia, I believe, there are coal mines operated by the State, and I am quite sure that the same applies to Queensland.
I have very -grave doubt as to whether the Labour Government- in Queensland would, submit willingly to a tax of this kind.. It is true that, under section 51 of the Constitution, the Commonwealth has power over taxation, but section 114 provides that the Commonwealth has no power to tax State property and that the States have no power to. tax Commonwealth property. On two occasions since the right honorable gentleman has- been Attorney-General, Commonwealth governments have asked the people of Australia to amend the Constitution to confer upon the Commonwealth power over civil aviation. If the right honorable gentleman’s opinion that the taxation exemption is limited to property be correct, and if the Commonwealth has the right to taxthe man-hours of men employed in, say, Western Australian wharfing enterprises, what is to prevent States turning round and taxing the Commonwealth’s aircraft, services ? I see no reason why they should not. If the exemption be limited entirely to property,, then obviously the landing, and. other facilities that are required in the various States may be subject to taxation.
– Queensland proposes to do that.
– I did not know that, and I thank the honorable member for the information. The AttorneyGeneral is inviting retaliation by the States. If the Commonwealth is to intrude into what, if not constitutionally, al least by practice and custom, has been a State preserve, the States may be expected to take similar action. We may through this amendment be forging a chain of events for which both the States and the Commonwealth may be sorry before we are many years older. The Attorney-General cannot argue that the scheme will not work without this amendment. He has mentioned only one State instrumentality so far, the Western Australian State shipping concern. That is not a very big affair, but, if he is going to tax man-hours, let us have another glance at what the effect may be. The Commonwealth has certain powers in regard to the maritime industry. He may decide- to tax the man-hours of the people employed in the maritime industry. Then tha Government, will get up against every State, vessel.. That would cause some very interesting repercussions. My advice to the AttorneyGeneral, as friendly as I can make it, is that he drop this amendment like a hot brick.
– The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) has raised a matter of principle to which I wish to refer without, repeating what I said earlier. It is true, as the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) said, that the Constitution prevents the taxation by theCommonwealth of State property and by a State of Commonwealth property; but. it is a well-recognized law of the Constitution to-day, as it has been for twenty years, that where the Commonwealth has power to make laws for conciliation and’ arbitration in industrial matters to prevent interstate disputes, the States, as employers, become bound to the same degree as other employers. So they should be bound. That was one of the great struggles of the trade union movement of Australia. Some of the States, claimed, that they would not be hound” by awards of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court on the. ground of their sovereignty, which was referred to by the honorable member for Reid. That stand, was rejected in the Engineers’ case in 1920. Earlier, in New South Wales, the Harbour Trust, now the Maritime Industry Boards claimed that it would not be bound by laws-, even the laws of the State, because it had the prerogative of the Crown. The High Court set aside that contention. Then there was the wirenetting case. The Government of New South Wales claimed that it was not liable to pay customs duty. When some wire netting was imported, the Premier, Sir Joseph Carruthers, seized it from the customs; but it was held that State immunity from taxation did not cover that. If it is property that one is dealing with, the position is different. The Maritime Industry Board, as an employer of labour in industry, must accept and abide by awards of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. If employees of the State Insurance Office are properly representedby an industrial organization, the State. Insurance Office must give to them the, same conditions as are given by any other insurance offices to its employees. The complaint has always been that it is only just that if there is competition between employers, the competition should be fair and that privileges not enjoyed by one should not be enjoyed by the other.
– The State has to pay the pay-roll tax.
– Both customs and the pay-roll tax, and this is a stronger case. This only applies to a State when it is an employer of labour in the stevedoring industry. If a State were excluded from its share of responsibility the responsibility of every other employer in the stevedoring industry would be accordingly increased.
– It is necessary that there be uniformity.
– Yes, and we could not have uniformity otherwise. To exclude the States would be unjust. I tell the honorable member for Reid that there is no question of an attempt by the Commonwealth to destroy any State instrumentality. The honorable member referred to a possible attempt to destroy the State Insurance Office. The section of the Constitution dealing with insurance says that the Commonwealth Parliament may pass laws on insurance other than State insurance. So State insurance is completely protected. It has been suggested that the taxing power may be used to discriminate against a State. Nothing of the kind! All that a State or a State instrumentality is required to do by the amendment is to come into the general scheme as an employer along with the other employers and pay its share according to the number of employees it has.
– If the State, as an employer, did not contribute in respect of its employees, the private employers would have to make up a deficit.
– Yes. It is of no use the honorable member for Barker saying 4that this introduces a new principle. It does not. It certainly makes clear what I thought was in the measure already, namely, that “ employer “ includes a State. I do not intend to embark cn a technical analysis of all the decisions, but sometimes courts have said, “If you want to hind the States, you should say so in the legislation”, but other times they have said, “ It is pointless to specifically bind the States because it is obvious that they are’ bound “. I took the second view in the original draft; but, in order to avoid the possibility of litigation, it may be necessary, I think, to make it clear that they are bound. I do not need to labour the subject. The principle is sound in both constitutional law and industrial justice. It. is clear that a State, as an employer in the stevedoring industry, has to pay the wages fixed by the Stevedoring Industry Commission and conform to every other element of the regulations laid down by it to govern the industry. It is only fair that a State should pay its quota as an employer if the other employers are required to pay. I could see the point made by the honorable member for Reid if there were an attempt by the Commonwealth Parliament to discriminate against a State because it was a State, but nothing of the kind is contemplated.
– Could the Commonwealth discriminate in the taxation laws against a State authority or commercial enterprise ?
– There are cases on that in which the view has been put very strongly. I cannot think of all of them for the moment. If the court thought that this charge was not really a tax but an attempt to interfere with a State enterprise, it would say that it was not a law on the subject-matter, but nothing of the kind is happening here. This is undiscriminating uniformity applying to both the State as an employer and private employers. Both are employers of labour and they are treated on the same footing as they are in respect of the pay-roll tax, customs and industrial arbitration. That is the position that we take. It is unanswerable from the point of view of justice. If there were an attempt to exercise the power for the indirect purpose of destroying a State operation it would be a different matter.
– I raised no question at all about every employer having to pay arbitration awards. I would be loath to think that any of the
States would try to avoid a just and proper responsibility. In this measure dealing with the waterfront, certain arbitration principles are being put into operation. Out of the hill arise certain administrative costs and charges and this bill is a taxing measure. The AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) said that he would be loath to think any Government would discriminate against a State. I, too, would have been loath to think so at one time; but I have known governments to do so in my experience. I have known this Parliament to set out to crucify a State, leading to a long-drawn war in which, but for certain circumstances, the State of New South Wales would have defeated the Commonwealth. If this Parliament gives the Commissioner of Taxation the powers sought in this measure, where will it call a halt? The Commissioner of Taxation has very wide powers, subject to little control or supervision, and he is not greatly affected by public criticism. If the Parliament opens the door to give these powers to the Commissioner, how will it stop a flood? Will it merely say, “ Well, we will only tax the State instrumentalities in order to make them pay their just proportion “ ? Suppose that it says, “ We have the power of taxing, and we will tax the whole of the income of all the States without discrimination “. What would be the meaning of federation then? What would happen to the States? They would be taxed out of existence. This is not just a matter of taxing the States as in the illustrations I have cited of a State insurance office and a State brickworks. It involves the very existence of the States. If the Commonwealth lacks the power to tax the whole of the income of all of the States without any discrimination, then how can it have power to tax them under this measure? I assure the AttorneyGeneral that I do not question the justice of this charge upon the States. I do not argue about that at all. I admit that the States should pay their just proportion of these charges, but I object to the method which is proposed. In my mind, it foreshadows a gradual whittling down of the rights and powers of the people.
– In what other way does the honorable member suggest it could be done?
– The bill should be left as it was originally drafted. It would then cover all employers. If, in that form, it failed to achieve its purpose, the Government could then make the amendment which it proposes to make now. The bill has not been tested, and the amendment is not required at this stage. If the bill were enacted in its original form, and if then any State refused to pay its just due, this Parliament could give further consideration to the matter. Candidly, I am afraid of the principle that I believe te be incorporated in the amendment. For that reason I have uttered my thoughts on the matter, and I ask that they be considered, not because of the small things involved at the moment but because of the bigger things of which this measure might be the forerunner. I seriously ask the Attorney-General to consider whether it would not be safer to pass the bill in its original form. Then, if some State or instrumentality should refuse to pay its contribution - a circumstance which I cannot imagine - this Parliament could act and I would be prepared to support its action.
.- The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) and the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) have contended that a new principle is involved in taxing a State in respect of its employees. Honorable members opposite established that principle long ago, when they were in power, by instituting the pay-roll tax, by which State governments were obliged to pay a tax to the Commonwealth for each of their employees in order to help to finance the child endowment scheme. Any principle that is involved has already been established in a much more significant measure involving much greater payments by the States to the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Reid said that, as a matter of principle, a State instrumentality should he immune from a Commonwealth tax; but he abandoned that point of principle by saying that, if the States did not contribute he would favour the Commonwealth Government taxing them. The determining factor is not what this Parliament thinks about the Constitution, but what the High Court thinks of it.
The doctrine of the immunity of State instrumentalities was abandoned by the High Court many years ago. At one time, it was believed that the Constitution implied a prohibition against the taxing of the States by the Commonwealth, and vice versa. That doctrine went by the board when the State of Western Australia took action against one form of Commonwealth tax, namely, customs duty. It decided to pay customs duty to the Commonwealth on certain locomotives imported into Australia. Its decision was not upheld by the High ‘Court, and the Chief Justice of the day, Mr. Justice Isaacs, definitely laid down then that there were no implied prohibitions in the Constitution. He ruled that the Constitution was an act of the British Parliament which should be interpreted by the words that were written into it in precisely the same way as any other act of parliament. The Constitution does not embody any specific prohibitions upon federal taxes, other than taxes upon State property. The pay-roll tax and the tax proposed in this measure are not taxes upon property. Therefore, the Commonwealth can validly tax State instrumentalities in these ways. The doctrine of the immunity of instrumentalities from tax by the Commonwealth was abandoned in the High Court over 26 years ago. Both the honorable member for Lang and the honorable member for Barker have, therefore, been raising a dead issue.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 (Officers to observe secrecy).
.- I direct the attention . of the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) to sub-clauses 3 to 7, inclusive, which contain very drastic provisions whereby an officer shall not be required to produce information. Will the Attorney-General inform me whether these provisions are new, or whether they appear in corresponding legislation?
– They appear in corresponding tax legislation.
Clause agreed to.
Remaining clauses - by ‘leave - taken as a whole and agreed to.
Title ‘agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from the 5th March (vide page 359), on motion by Dr. Evatt -
That a charge be imposed in respect of the employment of waterside workers . . . [vide page 359).
– This motion introduces the third and last of the infamous bills relating to the Stevedoring Industry Commission. The Stevedoring Industry Commission Bill 1947 provided for the establishment of the commission. The Stevedoring Industry Charge Assessment Bill 1947 related to the imposition, assessment and collection of a charge in respec’t of the employment of waterside workers. The third bill, which the House will proceed to consider, provides that a charge be imposed in respect of the employment of waterside workers at the rate of 4id. for every man-hour of employment. This tax will be paid by the employer of the waterside workers. When speaking on the Stevedoring Industry Charge Assessment Bill, I asked the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) ‘to give to the House certain information. On that occasion, I pointed out that the proposed charge o’f 4-^d. for every man-hour of employment would, according to the estimate, yield £500,000 a year. This amount would be devoted to meeting claims for attendance money. The purpose was to give effect to some improper action which had been taken by the present commission. Let us suppose that industrial stoppages continue on the waterfront. How does the AttorneyGeneral expect that the amount required to enable the administrative functions of the commission to be carried on will be raised? The right honorable gentleman explained that £150,000 will be required for administrative charges, £360,000 for attendance money and £50,000 for amenities and the like on the waterfront. I warn the Attorney-General that industrial stoppages may continue on the waterfront, and that the number of manhours of employment at the rate of 41/2d. per man-hour might not yield the estimated amount. In that event, will the deficiency be met from Consolidated Revenue? I should like the AttorneyGeneral to supply that information. If he does so, the Opposition will not delay the passage of the bill which will follow the adoption of this motion.
– The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) has made a substantially accurate calculation of the estimated receipts from the stevedoring industry charge. The honorable gentleman asked what will happen if, as the result of industrial disputes, the estimate is not realized. I inform him that the estimate of receipts - £562,500 - is based upon statistics during the last few years, when the average number of man-hours worked per annum was 30,000,000. In the circumstances, I do not consider that there is any need to apprehend that the receipts from this charge will not meet administrative charges, and the cost of amenities and the like. The estimate was made on that basis. Unless the manhours are worked, the money will not be collected. “When an experiment like this is initiated for the benefit of the industry, trade and commerce and particularly a group of men whose status needs improving, the Government and the country are entitled to expect them to do their part and give continuity of service.
– It is very seldom that I listen to the broadcasts of news services. In fact, I believe that I listen to them as infrequently as the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) reads newspapers. This evening, however, I listened at 7 o’clock to the national news service prepared by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. This is a government instrumentality, and its news can be expected to be near the truth. After a description had been given of certain difficulties in the Sydney Domain to-day, there was a statement attributed to a gentleman who is reputed to be the head of the Sydney branch of theWaterside Workers Federation. This man accused the chairman of the Steve doring Industry Commission, Mr. Morrison, of wanting the present strike to continue; but, in addition, he said that the waterside workers were determined to continue the present strike until their demands had been met. In view of the unsatisfactory response of waterside workers to the Government’s endeavours to secure peace on the waterfront, I ask the Attorney-General whether we are justified in proceeding with the consideration of this motion.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Clark).Order ! The honorable member’s remarks are not related to the motion, which deals with the fixing of a charge in respect of the employment of waterside workers.
– I do not care what rate is fixed; it will not achieve the Attorney-General’s aim of peace on the waterfront. I am quite indifferent to what rate is fixed by this motion; I say that what the AttorneyGeneral aims at, and what he has given us to understand he has achieved, will not be accomplished by the adoption of the motion, and therefore I oppose it.
Question put -
That the motion (vide page 359) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Dr. Evatt and Mr. Chifley do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Dr. Evatt, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 26th February (vide page 216), on motion by Mr. Pollard -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– In speaking to the second-reading debate on this bill I do so principally because of the possible application of its principles to other primary industries which may come under the aegis of Commonwealth Government organization. A number of features of the bill call for comment and criticism, and emphasize the contrast between what the Government is doing for the primary producers and what the primary producers themselves consider should be done.
This bill contains a proposal to reorganize and reconstitute the Apple and Pear Board, which went out of existence at the commencement of the war. It was replaced for a period by the Apple and Pear Marketing Board, with which this organization should not be confused. The functions of the Apple and Pear Marketing Board were specifically to deal with the marketing of apples and pears in Australia. This bill provides for the marketing of those commodities overseas, and for the control of the export trade, with a subsidiary intention of stimulating the sale of the fruit within the Commonwealth. However, it does not deal specifically with marketing problems within the Commonwealth. Under the act passed in 1938 during the term of office of my friend, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) - an act which this bill will displace - an Apple and Pear Board was set up. I want to contrast what was done by the Government of that day with what is being done by the present Government in respect of rural re-organization. I propose to reveal the existence of the heavy hand of bureaucracy and of socialism on everything which this Government touches, whether it be wheat, meat, or the very simple product of apples and pears.
– The honorable member will not be entitled to deal with other than the appointment of an Apple and Pear Board; he may not range all over primary production.
– I do not intend to range all over primary production. But I consider that I am entitled to draw attention to the similarity of the drafting of this bill and of other bills that have been designed to assist primary industries. I do not propose to deal with the matter extensively. It will be necessary only to make comparisons by means of a passing reference. Under the 1938 Act, the chairman of the board was elected by a committee of growers’ representatives, and those representatives were, in their turn, elected. Under this legislation, the chairman of the board is to be a government appointee. His appointment is to be made without any reference to those who are engaged in the industry. He will become a servant of the Minister, with the distinction that, although the Minister will have reserved to him complete power to appoint the chairman of the board, the growers, through the medium of a levy on that portion of their product that is exported, will have to pay the piper, without having any voice in the selection of the chairman of the board.
There are certain features of the bill which I believe will be beneficial. The size of the board is to be reduced from sixteen to twelve members. But there are factors associated with it which, in my view, will do a tremendous injustice to the smaller States. Although I represent a constituency in New South Wales, I believe that there should be a disposition on the part of this national Parliament not to wrest by the weight of numbers of the larger States, unfair advantages from the smaller States, such as Tasmania. If we tolerate such injustices, the day will surely come when those representatives of other industries who sit placidly by and acquiesce in them may themselves require somebody to come to their aid. What is the position in respect of Tasmania? Under the act passed by the Menzies Government, the board consisted of sixteen members, of whom four were from Tasmania, two from Victoria, one from New South Wales, one from Queensland, one from South Australia and two from Western Australia. All of those were growers’ representatives. There were four representatives of exporters, and one representative of the Commonwealth Government. Under the present proposal, eight of the twelve members of the board are to be representatives of growers. The growers had 68 per cent, of the representation on the old board, and they are to have 67 per cent, of the representation on the new board; consequently, there will not be very much difference in that respect. But what is the position in relation to Tasmania? The finances for the establishment of the fund for the operation of this legislation are to be raised by means of a levy on the apples and pears that are sold overseas; in other words, by means of an export charge. Over a period of years, of an approximate average of 5,000,000 cases of apples and pears exported anually, principally to the United Kingdom, Tasmania has contributed no fewer than 3,000,000 cases, or three-fifths of the total quantity. If a levy of Id. a bushel is to be imposed, as the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) suggested in his second-reading speech, Tasmanian growers will contribute £12,000 of the total levy of £20,000 a year. Those figures demand a basis of representation that will be consistent in some degree with the contribution that is made by a particular State. Tasmania is to contribute aproximately 60 per cent, of the total levy; but what is it to have in the way of representation on the board? It had four representatives of growers on the old hoard, and it is to have two representatives of growers on the new board. On a percentage basis, it had 30.7 per cent, of the total representation on the old board. Its representation on the new board is to be reduced to 16.6 per cent, of the total. I mention this matter to the Minister in the hope that a little fairer representation will be given to this smaller State, and one which will have to pay the largest proportion of the total finances of the board. I leave it to the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder), who is quite capable of speaking for his State, to expound his views as to the methods that he considers ought to be adopted. It is not for me to say what they should be. On the figures that I have presented to the House, there is a clear and strong case for greater representation of Tasmania.
The bill is really an amendment of the 1938 Act, which I have before me. There are one or two points which I consider call for comment, criticism, and opposition by honorable members who sit on this side of the House; because I believe that the precedent that is to be established in the constitution of this board will be followed in the constitution of other rural industry boards. In a very substantial degree, this bill follows the lines that were laid down in the bill which provided for the constitution of the Australian Wheat Board. Certain principles have been followed, two of which I shall mention specifically. One of them is that the chairman of the board is to be appointed expressly by the Minister. That procedure was followed in connexion with the constitution of the Australian Wheat Board. By what authority, other than the weight of numbers on the government benches, by what moral right, by what pretence that the growers are having conferred upon them means for organizing their own industry, does the Minister filch from them the right to nominate their own chairman?
– The party to which the honorable member belongs adopted the -same procedure.
– I am glad of that interjection. Section 7 of the 1938 act makes this provision -
At the first meeting of the Board, which shall be held at a time and place notified by the Minister in the Gazette, the Board shall appoint one of its members to be the Chairman of the Board.
– I am referring to the Australian Wheat Board.
– I am speaking of the Apple and Pear Board. Clause 7 reads -
Section 7 of the principal act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead : - “7. - (1.) The Government representative shall be the Chairman of the Board.
The original act provided that the board should appoint one of its members to -be chairman, but under this bill the members of the board will have no choice; the Government representative will be the chairman. The effect will be that the authority of the board will really he vested in the chairman who will be the nominee of the Minister. Clause 12 will amend section 13 of the principal act which provided, in sub-clause 1 (e), that the board may, either on its own behalf or in collaboration with any other board or authority, do certain things in connexion with the industry, such as establish new markets or organize the industry to provide for the better distribution of apples and pears. In future the board may do certain things subject to any direction from the Minister. In other words, the bill provides for the political control of the board. About six months ago the electors of the Commonwealth, including the growers of apples and pears, were asked to confer additional powers on the Commonwealth Parliament so that primary industries could be better organized. Apparently what the Government had in mind was a form of organization such as that proposed in this measure. The Government wants as chairman a person like Sir Louis Bussau, who, during the election campaign, travelled extensively throughout the Commonwealth and made statements which were afterwards proved to be not in accordance with facts. It wants a chairman who will do the will of any Minister so long as he is allowed to remain in his position and be paid £2,000 or £3,000 a year.
– That is a foul statement, made under cover of parliamentary privilege.
– It is a statement which cannot he contradicted. During the election campaign Sir Louis Bussau made statements designed to cover up the nefarious wheat deal with New Zealand.
– Order ! I shall not allow a full discussion on wheat.
– What happened during the election campaign shows the danger of having a political appointee as chairman. I hope that in his reply to the second-reading debate, the Minister will try to explain why the growers cannot have their own nominee as chairman, and why that office must be filled by a person appointed by the Minister. I have studied the bill carefully, but I cannot see in it any provision that the Government will contribute to the fund to be set up. In his second-reading speech the Minister said -
This board is financed by a levy on all apples and pears exported from Australia. The Apple and Pear Export Charges Act provides for a maximum levy of id. per case subject to a lower rate being prescribed. At present the prescribed rate is id. per case. It is intended to introduce legislation to increase the maximum levy to Id. per case to provide for additional revenue for the board’s activities should such be considered necessary or desirable.
In that statement of the Minister there is not even a suggestion that the Commonwealth will contribute to the financing of the board ; yet it has the audacity to demand that its nominee shall be its chairman. Should another person like Sir Louis Bussau be appointed, God help us.
In any scheme to control a primary industry three principles should be observed. There should be, first, the right of those engaged in the industry to choose their own representatives by some satisfactory method of voting; secondly, the right of the elected representatives to select their own chairman; and thirdly, the right of the controlling body to function without political interference or direction from the Minister. Those principles are of vital concern to all primary producers. Obviously, the bill has been drafted by bureaucrats who wish to continue in office and to exercise the controls imposed in war-time. There is no occasion for the continuance of such controls in times of peace.
– A non-Labour government established a board to control the apple and pear growing industry under war-time regulations.
– That was a necessary evil in war-time. As I have said, this bill has been drawn by bureaucrats who, limpet like, are hanging on to every bit of power vested in them in war-time and can be prized from the backs of the producers only with a hammer and chisel. By revealing the disparity between the contribution they will make and their representation on the board, I have shown the injustice which this measure will do to the small estates. The House is entitled to much more information than has so far been vouchsafed to it.
.- The purpose of this bill is to amend an act already in existence, and it is, therefore, more a bill for discussion in committee than for debate in the second reading stage. However, I propose to have something to say upon it in this stage so that the Minister may become acquainted, through me, with the views of the producers in my constituency. This is a short bill of four pages designed to amend the original act of twelve pages. In order to understand what the amending bill means it is necessary to go carefully through both the bill and the principal act, something which takes time and requires some legal knowledge. Members of Parliament, even those who are not lawyers, have acquired some facility in the reading of bills, but it must be very difficult for the producers, whom this bill closely concerns, to understand just what it purports to do. It seems to me that it would have been easier for the draftsman, instead of preparing a bill to amend this section and that of the principal act, to have provided for the repeal of that act, and the substitution of a new one in its place. That would certainly have made it easier to understand. There may be legal objections to such a course, but there certainly would have been advantages. I have sent many copies of the bill and the act to interested constituents, and it seems to me that the method the draftsman has followed is both wasteful and complicated.
The bill provides for altering the constitution of the Australian Apple and Pear Board, something which is of great importance to my constituents. The old board consisted of sixteen members, eleven of whom represented the producers. The board also represented tha exporters, one of whom was drawn from Victoria. The bill “proposes to reduce the number of the board to twelve. lit general, I agree that a small board should; be able to work better than a large one’, but in this instance it is necessary to consider the balance of the board and the representation which it gives to the industry in the various States. Bearing that in mind, I should prefer the board to consist of sixteen members rather than of twelve. On the new board there are to be seven representatives of the producers, apart from the representatives of the exporters, but Victoria is not to have any direct exporter representative, something which has caused dissatisfaction among Victorians. I cannot see how the Minister can justify the exclusion of a Victorian exporters’ representative. During the period from 1930 to 1938, Victoria’s exports of apples and pears amounted to 7,633,299 bushels, while exports from Western Australia amounted to only 5,325,733 bushels. Of pears, Victoria exported 2,426,658 bushels, while Western Australia exported only 238,617 bushels. Therefore, if there are to be representatives of exporters on the board, Victoria is certainly entitled to one of them. The bill provides that Victoria is to have one member only on the board, the same as Queensland and New South Wales, but Victoria is a much more important producing and exporting State than either New South Wales or Queensland. The representation of Tasmania has been reduced from four to two. There is no objection to Tasmania having more representatives on the board than any other State, but on the old board Tasmania had four representatives, and I am sure that Tasmanian producers would be better pleased to have four representatives than two. On the old board Victoria had two representatives, Western Australia two, and the other States one each. That was a more representative and better balanced board than the new one will be.
The point has been raised whether the exporters are entitled to be represented on a board of this kind. I have always believed that no export marketing board is properly constituted unless the exporters are represented. On a previous occasion, I pointed out to this House how producer representatives, when at the Ottawa Conference, by failing to heed the advice of an exporter representative, brought trouble to the meat industry, it took some years to settle the trouble satisfactorily. I believe that both the growers and exporters should be represented on an export board. I have the highest regard for the men who market our produce overseas. They have gone to great expense to develop markets in Great Britain and Europe, and their experience must be of value to the industry. In any major primary industry we cannot dissociate the export market from the home market because, where there is a surplus, as there is in most of our primary industries, including the apple and pear industry, a healthy home market is dependent upon a thriving export market. However, the provision of representation of exporters involves a special problem in the apple and pear industry. This is not an industry in which, comparatively, only s few people are exporters, or concentrate solely on exports, as is the case in other primary industries. Thousands engaged in the apple and pear industry are not only growers but also handle their own marketing; and among the rank-and-file of growers are to be found many who possess a sound and wide knowledge of export markets. I admit that I can see no way of determining the representation of exporters by ballot, but I suggest that the Minister should take into consideration the industry’s point of view on this matter. He will help to promote a greater degree of harmony in the industry if, when selecting exporter representatives he chooses men who also are producers in the industry.
The principal act stipulated that, in order to qualify as an exporter, a grower had to export a certain quantity of fruit during two of the three years preceding the implementation of that legislation. Under this measure, the right of a grower to vote in the election of producers’ representatives is based on the number of acres he has under apples and pears, the number of acres stipulated being 5 acres. I believe that that is a better basis for a poll of growers than the old basis, because one cannot distinguish between the value of the export side and the value of the home market. Export activities naturally assist the home market. Therefore, all growers should be given a voice in the election of members of the board. The number of acres which might be taken as a basis of qualification is a matter of degree. Possibly, three acres would be the most satisfactory to the industry as a whole, because that basis would be more comprehensive and would embrace more growers. The principle of basing the qualification to vote in the election of the board on the number of acres a grower has under apples and pears is again preferable to the old basis which confined the right to vote to those who exported apples and pears, because it could happen that a person who exported during two of the three years preceding the implementation of the principal act qualified for a vote although he may not have exported in any other year. Therefore the provision under this measure is sound.
Another matter which is causing concern to the industry is the appointment of an employees’ representative on the board. On behalf of the Opposition in the past, I have handled several measures relating to primary production and the marketing of primary products. I have always held the opinion that provision for the appointment of an employees’ representative on commodity boards is wise, because, undeniably such representatives are given an opportunity to become acquainted with problems on the business side about which the employees in an industry know very little. Indeed, this lack of knowledge is one of the primary causes of present industrial unrest, because the average worker has little or no knowledge of any of the problems which arise in his industry from a managerial point of view. If the worker had such knowledge he would not be playing up as he is doing to-day in many industries. He lacks knowledge of the difficulties ahead of his industry, and is also unable to foresee the incidence of those difficulties insofar as they impinge upon every household. The greater the opportunity given to the representatives of employees to appreciate the difficulties of management, the greater the harmony we shall establish in industry generally. Thus, by appointment to commodity boards representatives of employees have a chance of learning about problems about which, apparently, they do not know anything to-day. Such a provision generally is wise, and I have advocated it on earlier occasions. However, I doubt the wisdom of appointing an employees’ representative to this board, because there is no union directly concerned with the apple and pear industry. Certainly, there are unions representative of workers engaged in packing houses, timber mills and in the manufacture of fruit cases, and also on the orchards, but no one union is directly representative of those engaged in the industry, and, therefore, no one union can claim the right to provide the representative of ‘these employees on this board. I can see no good reason why some particular union boss should be appointed to this board. The Government is not justified in regarding this appointment as a plum to be given to some union favorite.
The next point with which I shall deal is the filling of vacancies on the board. Sub-section 14 of section 4 of the principal act provides - (.14.) On the occurrence of any vacancy in the membership of the board by reason of the death, resignation or removal from office of any member prior to the expiration of the term for which he was appointed or elected, the Governor-General may appoint a person to fill the vacancy, and any person so appointed (other than the Government representative) shall hold office for the residue of the term of the member whose place became vacant:
Provided that, where the member whose place became vacant was selected from a panel submitted by the approved growers’ organizations in any Sta’te, the person appointed to fill the vacancy shall, subject to sub-section (0) of this section, be selected from a panel submitted for the purpose in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this section.
Under this measure, in the event of a vacancy occurring by reason of the death or resignation, of a member of the board, the Minister is empowered to appoint a substitute. I suggest that appointments to fill vacancies should ultimately be decided by poll of the growers. In other words any appointment made should be subject to a poll of growers as soon as practicable. Of course, should a vacancy occur, say, one month before the expiration of the term of a member who dies, or resigns, or is dismissed, it would be foolish to conduct a poll; but all vacancies which occur a considerable time before the term of the previous holder of the position expires should be filled eventually by a poll of growers. Other honorable members dealt fully with the appointment of the chairman of the board. This involves a fundamental principle. Producers are wary of boards; and they have every reason to be. For instance, the wheatgrower has found out to his cost the damage that can be done by a board which is dominated by the Minister. I refer to the part played by the Australian Wheat Board in connexion with the agreement to sell wheat to Kew Zealand. It is not surprising that growers look upon boardswith suspicion. However, their suspicion, would be minimized if they were assured that a board was, in fact, a producers’” board, and had freedom of action in the interests of producers. Under the principal act the board had the right to elect its own chairman, but under this measure that right is abolished. I shall be interested to hear the Minister explain the reason for this change. I can see no good reason for it. Having regard to the composition of this hoard, I do not see how the chairman can dominate it. Therefore, the provision that the Minister shall nominate the chairman serves merely to annoy the growers. I urge the Minister to give way on this point by accepting an amendment which would give to the board the right to elect its chairman. Honorable members on this side of the chamber believe that a board which, in the main, is elected by a poll of growers should be given the right to determine the most suitable person to be chairman of it. That right should not be denied to the growers.
Section 13 of the principal act, which prescribes the powers and functions of the board, reads - (1.) The Board may -
make recommendations to the Minister in relation to the making of regulations for the purpose of regulating the export of apples and pears from Australia;
cither on its own behalf or in col laboration with any other board or authority, take, or arrange for the taking of any action which, in the opinion of the board, is likely -
The point to which I specifically desire to refer is that covered by the words in paragraph e - “ either on its own behalf or in collaboration with any other board or authority “. Under this bill, those words are to be deleted, and in their stead the words “ subject to any direction of the Minister “ will be inserted. All these matters which were previously within the exclusive authority of the board, are now to be made the subject of direction of the Minister of the day. He may, I assume, vary or alter any decision made by the board. The Minister is to be given even greater powers, because the bill proposes that the following sub-paragraphs be inserted after sub-paragraph ii of paragraph e: -
These appear to be very wide powers for any Minister to possess. The last thing that this industry wants is meddling in all sorts of matters by the Minister who does not, or need not understand them, and. may in fact act in accordance with the directions of Cabinet. Yet in these important respects, the Minister will be given authority to over-ride the decisions of the producer and exporter members of the board on matters with which they are thoroughly familiar. When clause 12 is under consideration, the Opposition intends to submit an amendment designed to deny that power to the Minister. The honorable gentleman will find great difficulty in justifying his promotion to a position of authority over this so-called “ producers’ board “. Section 14 of the principal act reads - (1.) The Board may -
If, in the past, any dispute arose as to the total quantity of apples and pears that should be exported in any year, that dispute was referred to one or more independent arbitrators. Under the amendments proposed in the bill, the Minister himself is to determine such matter?. It is difficult to understand why the Minister wants this power. The apple and pear industry, which is widely scattered throughout the Commonwealth, produces millions of bushels of fruit each year. If the board fails to arrive at a unanimous decision in respect of any matter arising in connexion with the quantity of apples and pears to be exported from Australia, is it likely that the Minister will know more about the subject than the board itself or an independent arbitrator or arbitrators? Yet the Minister may super-impose his decisions over those of the board, and whatever he decides will become law. Previously, three independent arbitrators conversant with the industry over a period of years, would be given the right to decide such questions. I am aware that Ministers are constantly seeking to assume additional responsibilities; but I am unable to understand why the Minister should seek to place upon his shoulders the responsibility for determining such questions. Is it likely that the Minister’s judgment would be better than that pf an independent arbitrator?
Section 14 (2) reads-t in adopting a basis to be applied by the Board in accordance with paragraph 6 of the last preceding sub-section the Board shall take into consideration the average yearly exports overseas of apples and pears from each State during the period of three years immediately preceding the year in which the basis is adopted, and such other factors relating to the production of apples or pears in each State and the available markets therefor as the Board thinks necessary.
The last seven years have been years of war, and I doubt very much whether any wise board would adopt the formula stated in the principal act. During the war years, the whole of the export trade was “held up because of shipping difficulties. In my opinion, that section should be amended in such a way as to exclude from the basis of calculation the war years. If that were done, there would be no doubt about the matter. It would be distinctly unwise to take into account a period when the industry was “ topsy turvy “ as the result of circumstances arising from the war. I trust that a suitable amendment will be accepted to exclude the war years from the basis of calculation. If that were done, it would produce a great deal more satisfaction in the minds of producers. Section 14 (3) states -
For the purpose of enabling the hoard effectively to control the export of Australian apples and pears, the Governor-General may make regulations prohibiting the export from the Commonwealth of any apples or pears. . . .
It is proposed that after the word “ export “, first occurring, the words “ and the sale and distribution after export “ be added. Before this bill was introduced, I discussed this matter with the Minister, who told me that he had consulted with the Apple and Pear Council which had requested the insertion of these words in sub-section 3. I should like to have further information on this matter. I foresee circumstances in which, for example, our overseas export trade could be abused. “When . I was in Great Britain in 1935, I found that there was a widely held view that too many Australian apples and pears went to London, and too few to the provinces. It may be that the board should have discretionary power to determine such matters arising from exports. Perhaps the Minister will be good enough to deal with, that matter when the bill reaches the committee stage.
The bill proposes the repeal of section 26 of the principal act. Under that section, provision is made that after the expiration of a certain period, a poll of growers may be held to determine the question of the continuance of the operation of the act. That is a wise provision, and I cannot see any reason for its removal. After all, the best judges of the work of a board are those who are most closely associated with its activities, namely, the growing and exporting elements. They should have the right to determine whether or not the board has functioned successfully on their behalf, and if it has done so, we can be sure that it has also functioned successfully on behalf of the Commonwealth as a whole.
Finally, I wish to correct a misconception that has arisen in the minds of the growers. There is a general belief that” under this measure power is being given to the Government to trade in apples and pears. The Government has had this power in connexion with other boards that have been set up recently, but that is not so under this legislation. Section 13 (2) of the principal act states - (2.) Except as otherwise expressly provided, nothing in this Act shall be deemed to empower the Board to buy or sell apples or pears or to engage in trade.
When the bill reaches the committee stage I propose to have more to say about certain aspects of it. I hope that having listened to the words of wisdom that have been uttered by honorable members on this side of the chamber as representatives of growers’- organizations, the Government will ensure that the measure shall emerge from the committee stage a better bill than it is now.
– This hill has much to commend it. Although Queensland, compared with other States, produces comparatively few apples and pears for export, it is most interested in the possibility of expanding this industry. Incidentally, all the apples and pears grown for marketing purposes in Queensland are produced in my electorate. I favour a grower-controlled board. I am a member of a marketing board in Queensland, and, through the Council of Agriculture, I have had some contact with other boards. Since this measure was introduced into this House, I have been in touch with interests associated with the marketing of apples and pears, and have ascertained their views. The chairman of the committee that deals with apples and pears agrees with me that there should be an export marketing board to handle these commodities, but he submits that the grower representation should be more on the lines of the Queensland marketing scheme. Under that scheme all members of marketing boards are elected by the growers, with the exception of one government representative on each. The marketing of a product should be the entire responsibility of the board that handles it, and as the marketing has to be financed by the growers themselves, they should be permitted to organize it to the best advantage. I agree that there should be a government representative on this board because our experience in Queensland has been that such representatives can be of great help. There the government representative does not endeavour to dominate the proceedings of a board and he cannot make decisions of his own accord because the growers have a substantial majority. In the case of the hoard to which this bill refers, there is a majority of grower representatives, but the Minister has an overriding veto. That is a principle with which I disagree entirely. My view is that there should be a comprehensive measure providing that producers in any industry may, by a majority vote, engage in co-operative marketing if they so desire. I admit, that this would present some difficulties. In the case of wheat and certain other commodities, for instance, separate legis lation is required; but in Queensland we have what is known as the Primary Products Pools Act, covering almost every commodity. Fruit is one exception, and of course, sugar cane is another. That legislation provides that if 60 per cent, of the growers in a particular industry favour the setting up of a marketing board, controlled by the growers themselves, but including one government representative, this can be done. I think that every commodity board that has been set up in Queensland is proving a success. There need be no fear of such boards charging too much for the commodities that they control. That would be very foolish, and any board that took such action would very soon find that it would be forced, by the decline in the sales of its goods, to reduce the price to a level at which there would be sufficient public demand. In the apple and pear industry, security is necessary in the export trade. In the principal act, the definition of “ grower “ provides that he must have produced so many bushels of apples and pears for export for a period of two out of three years. Whilst there may be some justification for a. definition involving export requirements in a bill dealing with exports, I do not agree that it should cover three years or even two years. I believe that a grower of apples and pears in any particular year should be covered, because he is marketing his own crop and his livelihood is involved. The other side of the picture is that growers have to start producing some time, and even if they are not exporting, they are interested in that aspect of the industry, because the surpluses must be marketed overseas, otherwise the home consumption price will be affected. I consider the definition in the bill preferable to the one in the principal act. I am not sure that the Minister is wise in limiting to 5 acres the area qualifying a man to be regarded as a “ grower “. He would be well advised to reduce the area, because a man who has 3 acres under apples and pears, or both, is directly interested in the marketing of his crop.
I am opposed to the ministerial veto provided for in the bill. In Queensland, with the exception of the wheat-growers, the growers have the right to elect the chairmen, of the boards controlling their products, whether they be government representatives or growers’ representatives, and that system has worked admirably. No justification exists for the inclusion in this bill of the provision that the chairman shall be a government representative, because no financial responsibility is cast upon the Government. The board, if it has the responsibility of sale and action, will measure up to it whenever called upon to do so. The bill provides that the board shall not have the right to trade. Possibly that is a proper provision, but I do not agree to it. Other speakers have said that the powers given to the board under the bill are great, but [ have no objection to its having excessive powers if they are not misused. It is possible that the board would be hamstringed by a too tightly worded measure. Il is necessary that the board should have all the power normally possessed by a co-operative marketing board. I would go so far as to say that the board ought te- have the right to trade, because at times it may be necessary for it to have that right in order to supply and maintain a market that it otherwise might lose. I would support any action to give that right to the board.
The number of members of the board is to be lower than that provided for in the principal act. Generally, I regard the number now proposed as sufficient, but I think Tasmania is hardly being treated fairly, and I would support any amendment designed to give it an extra member. I hope no move is made to deprive Queensland of representation, because, although the Queensland apple and peargrowers do not export large quantities, they are nevertheless vitally interested.
When the Minister replies, I should like him to tell me the proposed basis of export sales of apples and pears. There has not yet been final settlement in respect of the apple and pear acquisition scheme, but I understand that the sensible and wise decision of the court in a recent case is to be the basis of payment and that the growers will be paid according to the grades and quality of their fruit. Obviously,’ a grower who supplies lower quality fruit should not receive the same payment as the grower who supplies better quality. There may be differences of quality in the various States. There are different varieties. What is to be the basis upon which payment will be made to the growers in the various States? Is there to be an overall payment, in other words, an equal division of realization all over Australia, or is payment to be on the basis of sales effected by each State? That is a vital point. It ought to be explained by the Minister. In Queensland payment is made according to quality.
– This is not to bf a marketing board.
– I am aware of that, but what is to be the basis of payment ?
– There is none.
– Are all apples and pears sent overseas to be of one grade ?
– The bill contains clauses that give the board power to define grades and qualities, and I expect the fruit will be sold according to grades.
– This is not a marketing board and the proceeds of sale will not be paid to the board.
– They will be paid to the agent?
– Yes, or the owner.
– The Minister’s interjection reminds me of the objection of the Queensland committee to the representation of the agents on the board.
– I have not taken up that point because I have provided for a representative of the agents.
– I know, but the Queensland committee objects, as voiced by the chairman.
– I am not worried about him.
– The Minister ought to be worried about him and about the growers and their welfare. I am surprised at his attitude and that he is in favour of having agents or exporters on the hoard. I am not, unless they take the financial risk involved. If they are to be merely intermediaries and if the board is to take any financial loss, I am opposed to their being represented on it. In that event the board ought to consist entirely of representatives of the growers and the -Government. That is the general principle on which I stand. I leave the details to be discussed in committee. I hope that the Minister will explain the points I have raised.
.- This is a bill for an act to amend the Apple and Pear Organization Act 1938, and for other purposes. I disagree mainly with the “ and for other purposes “. The -general application of -the bill can he dealt with in committee, and its clauses have been covered adequately by other honorable members on this side. What I am concerned with now is a matter of principle. It appears to me that in all measures dealing with primary production there is a whittling away of the powers of the primary producers on the boards. We have to examine closely every bill dealing with primary production boards to gee where the primary producer is “ getting it in the neck”. Producer-controlled boards are disappearing.
– Order ! The honorable member must deal with the bill before the House.
– I refer to the difference between the constitution of the board under the principal act and that proposed in the bill. The principal act provides for sixteen representatives, whilst this bill will reduce tie number to twelve. The principal act provides tor five government nominees, consisting of four representatives of the exporters appointed by the Minister and one direct representative of the Government. This arrangement will not be changed by the bill now before the House, but the number of growers’ representatives will be reduced from eleven to seven. This is a step in the wrong direction. The growers should have complete control of their products. The Government should be satisfied with one representative on the board.
It is regrettable that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr.
Pollard), in framing the bill, did not take into consideration the aims and wishes of the Australian Apple and Pear Growers Association, which were presented to him by various deputations. Had he done so, he would have provided the growers with greater power over the marketing of their products.
– They do not market their products at all.
– Well, over the handling of their products. The growers should have the greatest influence in this matter. The act provides that members of the board, other than the Governmentrepresentative, may be removed from office by the” Governor-General on the recommendation of the board. That provision will be extended by the bill to enable growers’ representatives to be removed from the board “ on the recommendation of the Board or of the Minister “.
– Does the honorable member realize that the Minister need not accept the recommendation of the board ?
– The Minister will now have power to remove from the board any member who does not meet with his approval. The interests of the growers are to be further weakened by the repealing of section 26 of the act, which provides that 500 growers can remove any member from the board.
– That is not correct.
– Section 26 -of the act states - (1.) H at any time within six months after the expiration of three years from the commencement of this Act, or within six months after the expiration of any subsequent period of three years, a request in writing signed by not less than five hundred growers is forwarded to the Minister asking that the question of the continued operation of this Act be submitted to a poll of growers, a. poll of growers on that question shall be taken in the prescribed manner within six months of the date upon which the request is received by the Minister.
– That is a different thing.
– It gives to the growers some chance of operating the board. This bill states plainly that the chairman of the board shall be the Government’s representative. Under the act the chairman of the board was elected by the growers. It appears that the bill has been designed to sap the growers of any power given to them by the original act. Other features of the bill which deserve criticism are not of paramount importance as a principle, but they are important to the growers. These can be dealt with in the committee stage. I do not represent many apple and pear-growers, but I protest against this practice of continually taking away from primary producers their rights in the handling of their own products.
Debate (on motion by Mr. POLLARD’ adjourned.
Income Taxation: Company Returns - International CONFERENCE on TRADE and Employment : Australian Delegation : Non-official Advisers.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
In a notice published recently in the Sydney press, the managing director of Grace Brothers Proprietary Limited expressed the view that an unwarranted slur had been cast on -the company by the inclusion of its name in the twentysixth annual report of the Commissioner of Taxation in a schedule entitled “ Questionable Returns “. The company complains that it has no legal redress against the Commissioner in classifying the case as one in -which fraud might be suspected. The managing director sought to justify the company’s returns by a general statement in regard to its method of valuing trading stock. I desire to inform the House that the assessments in which the Commissioner made the adjustments concerned were open to review by the Board of Review, the Supreme Court, or the High Court if the company chose to exercise its rights to have the Commissioner’s conclusions tested. If it did not avail itself of the opportunity to approach one of these tribunals, it should not now complain of lack of legal redress and should not publicly reflect upon the. honesty of the Commissioner’s findings unless it is prepared to disclose the whole of the particulars upon which the Commissioner’s findings were based. The company is no doubt aware that the Commissioner and his officers are obliged by law to observe secrecy regarding the affairs of every taxpayer and that the Commissioner is unable to make a public statement to the press in justification of his action in this case, although he may furnish particulars of it in an annual report to Parliament.
. - The Government is now in a position to announce the names of eight of the nine non-official advisers who will accompany the Australian delegation to Geneva next month for the second session of the Preparatory Committee of the International Conference on Trade and Employment. Representation of Australian industrial and commercial interests will be as follows: -
Primary industries -
Mr. Peter Malloch, member of the Commonwealth Dried Fruits Control Board, and a central figure in the dried vine fruits industry for over twenty years.
Mr. P. B. Newcomen, president, Graziers Federal Council of Australia, and a member of the Australian Meat Board.
Mr. H. R. F. Watson, the London agent of the Queensland Sugar Board (nominated by the Government of Queensland in view of its special interest in the sugar industry).
In addition, there will be a representative of the canned fruits industry, whose nomination by the Australian Canned Fruits Board is awaited. In the composition of this group of advisers, particular attention has been paid to adequate representation of those industries around which discussions are likely to centre in the negotiations in regard to Empire preferences.
Secondary industries and commerce -
Mr. A. E. Heath, C.M.G., past vice-president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia, immediate past chairman of the Australian National Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce, and former New South Wales Agent-General in London.
Mr. Arthur Sparks, president of the Australian Exporters Federation, president of the Export Development Group of New South Wales, chairman of the New South Wales Export Advisory Committee, and alternate delegate on the Federal Export Advisory Committee.
Mr. Latham Withall, director of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia.
Trade unions -
I am confident that the presence of these advisers with the Australian delegation in Geneva will ensure proper recognition of the vital interests of Australian industry and commerce, which it will be the delegation’s objective to foster and safeguard. It is impossible to foresee in detail all the issues which will he raised in the course of the discussions, but over the whole range of likely problems the delegation will be able to turn to non-official advisers who can make a practical contribution from their own experience and knowledge. In addition, as I have already announced, the chairman of the Australian Tariff Board, Mr. H. F. Morris, will be available for consultation in connexion with Australia’s industrial development.
– Very shortly. The date has not yet been fixed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1947 - No. 12 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Appointment - R. M. Simms.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department - Treasury - J. I. Walliker. Works and Housing - B. Tweddell.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (28).
National Security (Maritime Industry) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 59, 60.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for -
Defence purposes -
Postal purposes - Mater Hill (Brisbane), Queensland.
House adjourned at 10.20 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable gentleman’s questions are as follows : -
Many honorable members have been approached by a certain individual to ascertain from me the price paid by the successful tenderer for the purchase of the Anaconda, and who, I am informed, is negotiating with the successful tenderer to purchase the ship. I feel the question of business ethics is involved and it would be highly improper for me to divulge the price. There is no objection to the successful tenderer, Australian Fishing Industries, disclosing the price if they so desire. At the moment the Navy have no more of these craft on hand, but may have at any time, and in the best interests of the taxpayers I refuse to give the price paid by the successful tenderers, as a disclosure of the price paid in this case may prejudice subsequent sales.
e asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will he arrange for a reduced wireless licence-fee to war widows receiving a pension and war pension similar to the concession granted to old-age pensioners, invalid pensioners and service pensioners?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following information : -
Broadcast listeners’ licences are granted at half rates to persons in receipt of a pension under the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908-1946, the Widows’ Pensions Act 1942-1946 or a service pension under the Australian Soldiers’Repatriation Act 1920-1946, provided they live alone or with another such pensioner or other person whose income does not. exceed the maximum amount of income and pension allowed under the acts mentioned. The grant of each of these classes of pensions is subject to a means test, and it is not proposed to extend the concession to other persons, including those in receipt of war pensions, whose type of pension does not exclude them from augmenting their income from other sources.
Re-establishment : Land Settlement of ex-Servicemen.
s asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
New South Wales - 1,901 applications approved for amount of £1,325,076.
Victoria - 808 applications approved for amount of £538,178.
Queensland - 298 applications approved for amount of £170,971.
South Australia - 336 applications approved for amount of £256,766.
Western Australia - 969 applications approved for amount of £799,968.
Tasmania - 154 applications approved for amount of £98,124.
Northern Territory -1 application approved for amount of £1,000.
The total number of loans approved by the Commonwealth is thus 4.467 for a total of
Prices Control : Miss Daveney Proprietary Limited.
Me. Ryan asked the Minister representing the Minister- for Trade and Customs,, upon notice -
Is it a fact that, as disclosed, in the High Court case, Miss Daveney Proprietary Limited v. Elvidge (20 A.L.J. 391), National Security (Prices) Regulations are being used not to control prices, but to control profits?
Is it a fact that, although the abovementioned, company maintained a constant price since 1939, a special prices, order w.as directed to the company reducing permissible prices by 20 per centum?
If so, was the order issued merely because the company had increased its net profit* by. increased efficiency and by means of the economics associated with expanded output?
Is it a fact that an officer of the Prices Branch suggested that the company reduce its turnover by 20 per centum with the object of increasing, its gross profit margin by 15 per centum, although,, as pointed out in the High Court, this would have entailed a reduction in the number of the company’s employees?
How many firms have received similar suggestions regarding decreasing output? (!. If there have been any such firms, what has been the resultant unemployment associated with compliance with the suggestion?
d. - This case is still the subject of litigation and under those circumstances a reply cannot be furnished to the honorable member’s question.
Northern Territory : Legislative Council; New Wharf at Darwin.
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
n. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
n. - The answers to the honorable, member’s questions are as follows
Australian Association qf Scientific Workers.
asked: the AttorneyGeneral, upon, notice - -
t. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. It is not in the public interest that information should be furnished as to the instructions which are from time to time given to the Commonwealth Investigation Service for inquiry into individual matters affecting the security of Australia. On the particular matter referred to, the honorable member may take it that all the allegations made during the recent debate in the House on the adjournment motion moved by the honorable member have been brought to the attention of the investigation service.
t asked the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, upon notice -
Will he have the complete file with regard to this appointment forwarded to the Attorney-General with a request that he will instruct the officers of the Security Department to have a full investigation made into
n. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 to 5. No.
Landing Ships: Offer by Crews to Aid Great Britain.
– On the 13th March, the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) asked a question concerning a proposal to man three L.S.T.’s with volunteer crews for the purpose of carrying food to the United Kingdom. The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n. - On the 12th March, the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod) asked a question concerning the shortage of jute goods. The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following information : -
Material for the manufacture of cornsacks, chaff and similar bags is not woven in Australia, and all machinery which might he adapted for that purpose is being fully used to the extent of available labour in the manufacture of essential textiles which are generally in short supply in Australia. Flax tow mixed with jute can be used in the manufacture of lashings to conserve supplies of raw jute, and an order has recently been issued that all lashings must in future be made from not less than 50 per cent, of flax tow sliver.
asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
– The information requested by the honorable member is being obtained and will be supplied as soon as possible.
Brisbane General Post Office.
l. - On the 12th March, the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Lawson) asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General the following question : -
I ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether he will ascertain from his colleague when it is expected that the building of the proposed new General Post Office in Brisbane will be commenced? Is the Postmaster-General aware tha.t a previous government placed a large sum on the Estimates for the construction of the new building, and that the provision so made was withdrawn subsequent to the outbreak of the war? Does the Postmaster -General intend to carry out the previous government’s proposals by demolishing the old and obsolete mail branch section of the present post office in Elizabeth-street and rebuild it as part of the first section of the new building?
The Postmaster-General has supplied the following information : -
I am aware that the sum of £50,000 was included in the Estimates of Expenditure for 1938-39 to permit of the commencement of the first section of a new General Post Office building in Brisbane.
The intervention of the war rendered it necessary to postpone the projeet, but the Government is fully conscious of the need for providing a building which will be worthy of the capital city of Queensland, and arranged some time ago to have sketch plans prepared which will embody the latest developments in all respects. These plans are now the subject of expert consideration and it is hoped that it will be practicable to commence the erection of the first section of the structure during the financial year 1948-49. This section will replace the existing mail branch accommodation fronting Elizabeth-street.
The project is one of such magnitude that it must be undertaken in two or three stages. The complete work will occupy several years, having regard to .the size of the job and the necessity for causing the least possible disturbance to essential facilities. The honorable member may rest assured, however, that the work will be put in hand immediately the circumstances permit.
Import Licences: Watches; Quota System.
d. - On the 12th March, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) asked a question concerning licences to import watches, in which he made particular mention of the licence granted to the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein).
The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : -
Special quotas to cover the importation of watches to the value of £2,700 for each approved applicant were originally granted to 23 ex-servicemen, of whom the honorable member for Watson was one. The granting of these quotas was followed by a flood of over 200 further applications from ex-servicemen. As the granting of similar quotas in all eases would have involved a huge expenditure of hard Swiss currency, it was decided to review all applications and quotas.
The review was made by committees representing the Department of Trade and Customs and the watch trade. Eligibility for a special quota was determined in each case, chiefly on the applicant’s claim to assistance towards his rehabilitation. As a result of this review quotas granted were either terminated or renewed on a reduced basis. As the honorable member for Watson was not regarded as needing such assistance, the quota originally granted in his’ favour was not renewed.
On the 6th March, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White asked a question concerning the system of import licences, particularly in reference to imports from the United Kingdom. The honorable member also referred to this subject in a speech on the adjournment, of the House on the 7th March, in which he suggested that the quota system of import licensing was preventing ex-servicemen from establishing themselves in business. .
The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : -
Restrictions imposed on the importation of “unrig from the United Kingdom have been progressively relaxed since the cessation of hostilities and most of the remaining restrictions were lifted as from 23rd January, 1947, Since that date all essential United Kingdom goods are entirely exempt from import licensing, with the exception of tinplate.
Control is now limited to a small range of less essential items and, even where these are concerned, the policy is to so administer the controls as to permit a normal flow of trade to take place. The volume of applications received for licences to import controlled items such as diamonds and precious stones indicates that complete removal of control would lead to excessive expenditure of overseas funds on non-essential goods.
Imports from the non-sterling area are, of course, still subject to import licensing control because of the continued need to conserve dollar and other non-sterling currencies.
As regards ex-servicemen who wish to set up in business as manufacturers or importers, I would point out that the quota system now operates in relatively few cases. Some goode are totally prohibited, but most controlled items are treated on an administrative basis, which means that each application for a licence is treated on its merits, factors principally taken into account being essentiality of the goods and proof of their availability. This applies particularly to raw materials and other goods for manufacturing.
In cases where the quota system operates, the cases of ex-servicemen have been given special consideration in every instance. Quotas have been granted irrespective of base year figures wherever possible, especially in the case of general trading lines such as diamonds, perfumes, sunglasses, glassware, plastic products, furs, textiles and watches. The results, however, especially in the case of goods in limited supply, have not always been happy, the quotas granted merely reducing the turn-over of established traders without providing a substantial livelihood for the ex-servicemen concerned. This has been particularly the case with textiles and watches, where the number of men applying for licences has been large.
It has therefore been found advisable to review the practice in this matter and to confine the issue of special quotas to cases which appear to merit consideration solely on rehabilitation grounds. I would again stress that the import licensing system as now operating in no way hampers the supply to ex-servicemen of goods required for manufacturing purposes.
s asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– I understand that the matter of these Nazi internees was handled by the Department of the Army, and that the Minister for the Army was advised in this matter by His Honour Judge Hutchinson. The honorable member’s question has accordingly been referred to the Minister for the Army, whose department is obtaining information in reply to the question, in consultation with the Department of Immigration.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 March 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1947/19470318_reps_18_190/>.