18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. 8. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to-
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday nest, at 3 p.m.
Referendum CCampaign. Expenses.
– I ask the Treasurer whether any appropriation of money has been made or is proposed by the Government from Consolidated Revenue for propaganda in connexion with the forthcoming referendum campaign ? If so, will he state what sum of money has been or . is proposed to be appropriated? “Will he indicate whether parliamentary approval is to be first sought for the expenditure of that money? To what departmental vote is it to be charged?
– The answer to all the questions is”No”.
– I desire to ask a question, but I do not know whether I should direct it to the Minister for “Works and Housing or to the Minister for the Interior. I previously asked a question on the same subject on notice of the Minister for “Works and Housing, but the printed answer was supplied by the Minister for the Interior. In reply to my recent question on notice, I was informed by the Minister for the Interior that the Australian Plywood Board was not a government board but an organization within the industry for the control of the marketing and distribution of plywood in Australia and that there was no government representative on it. I now ask -
Is there a body called the Plywood Industry Advisory Panel?
-. - As mentioned by the honorable member forReid, certain information was supplied to him in answer to a question placed on the noticepaper. His question this morning contains matter in respect of which I have not at the moment information at my command. So I suggest that he also place this question on the notice-paper.
– Are negotiations taking place with the British Government for a review of meat contract prices and the term of the contract? Is there any truth in newspaper reports of the likelihood of an increase of 3d. per lb. in the price paid by Great Britain for the meat purchased from Australia?
– Negotiations willbe taking place with the United Kingdom Government regarding meat prices, and it is most likely that Australian meat producers will receive an increase of price. To date, the exact amount of the increase, or whether the United Kingdom Government will agree to meet the extra cost, is not explicitly known.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is & fact that the retail clothing trade organizations have made representations for the abolition of clothes rationing? If so, can the right honorable gentleman inform the House as to the prospects of the abolition of clothes rationing?
– No direct representations have been made to me or, I think, to the Minister for Trade and Customs by organizations representing the wholesale and retail sections of the clothing trade. However, these organizations, in discussions with the chairman of the Rationing Commission, expressed the view that clothes rationing should be abolished at an early date. The Rationing Commission endorsed that view. When the Minister for Trade and Customs received the report from the commission on this matter, he discussed the position with me, and, in turn, we had conversations on the subject with the chairman of the Rationing Commission and the Director-General of Rationing, Mr. Cuming. In decidingthat the time was not opportune to abolish clothes rationing, the Government was guided by information which would not be known either to representatives of the wholesale and retail clothing trade, which is responsible for the sale of cotton goods, or to the Rationing Commission itself. Because of the difficult dollar position, the availability of various textiles, particularly woven cotton goods, is uncertain.
In view of all the circumstances, the Government considered that it would not be wise to abolish clothes rationing simply because, at the moment, supplies of materials were adequate. I shall not attempt to describe all the economic conditions which necessitate the continuance of clothes rationing, but I merely indicate that difficult economic circumstances are prevailing in relation to the dollar situation which could affect the availability of materials in future. Therefore, the Government decided not to accept, at this stage, the recommendation for the abolition of clothes rationing. Whilst the Government is most anxious to abolish clothes rationing, it does not desire to take precipitate action lest circumstances later compel it to re-introduce rationing. Honorable members will recall that some time ago the Government of New Zealand abolished petrol rationing, .but a few months later was obliged to reintroduce it. The Australian Government had a similar experience in regard to the rationing of tinplate. The advices available indicated that it was possible to abolish the rationing of end use of tinplate. Three months later, the shortage of supplies had become acute. During tha;t period big canners had bought up all the surplus supplies and the smaller canners had none. In the meantime, the price of end use of tinplate had risen by approximately £4 a ton. The Government was obliged to re-impose the rationing of end use of tinplate, and subsidize the smaller canners who had to purchase supplies at the higher price. I cite that instance merely to indicate that the Government considers that it would be unwise, until the position is perfectly clear, to abolish the clothes rationing.
Large-scale British Movements - MacDonald Family.
– Has any considered reply been received from the British Government concerning the suggestion recently made by the Minister for Immigration that large-scale migration of British people and industries to Australia should be considered? If so, will the Minister tell the House what stage the negotiations have reached?
– As I said before the House rose for the Easter recess, I made a personal and unofficial approach to Mr. Noel Baker, the British Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, regarding the question of mass migration and asked, him to advise me of the prospects of the matter being favorably considered by the British Government at an early date. I refused then, and I do so again, to publish, without his permission, the letter that was addressed to the right honorable gentleman. I om unable to say when the British Government is likely to consider the matter. Mr. Noel Baker was at Lake Success at the time when the letter was written, and, although he recently returned to England, he is now abroad again. As soon as a public statement can be made, it will be made. I am glad to note the continuing interest of all sections of the Australian people in this matter, which is vital both to them and to the British people.
– I have been informed that prospective Scottish migrants have been trying for two and a half years to come to Australia under the sponsorship of their friends and relatives in this country. I shall cite one specific instance, and I am able to give others, if necessary. Mr. Angus MacDonald, of Airdrie, Scotland, his wife, and two children, aged nineteen years and ‘fifteen years, are anxious to come to Australia and work on a farm on the north coast of New South Wales. All the members of this family are necessary to the people who have nominated them. Their fares were sent to the Government two and a half years ago, hut, to date, they have failed to get even a promise of a passage to Australia. The people who nominated the MacDonald family asked me why Scottish and British migrants are unable to get passages to Australia when shipping can be provided for so many people .from other countries. Will the Minister for Immigration inform me what are the prospects of people such as the MacDonald family obtaining passages as migrants to Australia?
-Mr. Speaker, I ask for leave to treat the questioner as a hostile witness. The honorable member could have seen me in my office in connexion with this matter.
– I have written a dozen letters to the Minister on the subject.
– Ofl the MacDonald case ?
– I have received re-, plies, and nothing has been done.
– I guarantee that the honorable member has not written to me a dozen letters on this matter. If the MacDonald family has not been able to get passages to Australia in two and a half years, all I can say is that there is something wrong with them, and nothing wrong with Australia House.
– The letter is on the Minister’s file, and the necessary money was sent to his office more than two years ago.
– No money is ever sent to my department in connexion with migration matters. Immigrants come to Australia either under the free passages scheme or under the assisted passages scheme. If they come under the assisted passages scheme, the migrant pays the money that he is bound to pay - it is not very much - to the shipping company for his passage. So this cockandbull story which the honorable member has told is like a lot of other stories that he tells in this House.
– I shall produce the correspondence next week.
– If the honorable member will tell a straight story on the matter, I shall give to him a straight answer, but he has not done so.
– I shall produce the letter which the Minister wrote.
– I shall produce the file, if necessary.
– Somebody should produce facts.
– The file will contain the facts. It will not contain any propaganda. I do not propose to occupy very much time in trying to drive into the mind of the honorable member for Richmond the fact that British people who come to Australia in British ships have an absolute priority to travel on those vessels. No foreigner ever travels on a ship flying the British flag. If people from other countries come here onother ships, they are able to travel because of arrangements which are madeby international’ organizations, of which Australia is a member party. Those shipsare not available to bring British migrants. If they were not carrying the people whom they do bring here, nearly all of the vessels would be returned to the War Department of the United States of America. All the ships which areused to bring displaced persons to Australia are army transport belonging to the American Government and leased to the Preparatory Commission International Refugee Organization. Other foreign ships which bring Italian women and children, Greeks and other people here belong to owners who are registered with foreign agencies, and in most instances, their standards are such that British people would not travel on them, for they need something better than the standard which these foreign ships provide. The honorable member for Richmond has attempted in a mean way to engage in propaganda to stir up some feeling in the community by alleging discrimination against prospective migrants from the United Kingdom. The fact is that last year 20,000 British people and approximately 10,000 persons from other countries came to Australia. We are trying to maintain at least a. three-to-one majority in favour of the British people coming to Australia, and that proportion will he even greater this year. Attempts to create trouble such as that of the honorable member this morning are to be condemned and deplored.
– I desire to make a persona] explanation.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman may make a personal explanation if he feels that he has been misrepresented, but he may not go beyond that.
– In his reply, the Minister for Immigration insinuated that I had not made any representations in relation to the migration of certain Scottish families.
– I did not say that.
– I shall produce the whole of the correspondence next week.
– Will’ the Mini’s tei- representing the Postal aatei:General’ ascertain when it is expected that” the plans for the new General Post Office in Brisbane, will1 he complete and when it is proposed’ to commence the erection of the first’ section of the new building?:
Me. CALWELL- I shall approach the Postmaster-General amd seek to» obtain the information, required by the honorable member. The building of a new post office in Brisbane was under, consideration during the war years and for some time before that. I should be very happy if I were able to tei the honorable gentleman that the. foundation stone- for- the new post office: will be laid at am early date. He should have’ the honour of laying it.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs say whether it is the intention of the Government to review the system governing the supply of quotas of tobacco to retailers? If that is the intention, will the Government consider the interests of returned soldiers who, under the present system, have been refused supplies? The present control is administered by private concerns.
– During the war the Government set up an authority to ensure, as far as practicable, that available supplies of tobacco and cigarettes were distributed justly to retailers throughout Australia. At the conclusion of the war, it was considered that the control by the Government could be abandoned. Honorable members opposite are the advocates of decontrol, but since the abandonment by ‘the Government of its control constant complaints have been received from retailers and returned soldiers who are not able to obtain the supplies of tobacco and cigarettes to which they consider they are justly entitled. It is doubtful whether the Government is prepared again to undertake responsibility in this field. newcastle; DOCKYARD.
Me-. JAMES - ls. the Minister for Labour a>nd National S’er.vice: aware that considerable concern, is- felt im Newcastle over an industrial dispute which kas occurred at the State-owned dockyard? Seeing that the Commonweal’th Treasurer supplied’ the Bulk of the money, for this project, some doubt has arisen as- to which authority- State or Federal’, really control’s1 it. Can the Minister- say whether the dispute has been brought to his notice ? Is so, what steps if any, have been taken to bring; the dispute before a Conciliation Commissioner.
– I have been informed of. the dispute, and. I. have made inquiries and” have taken some, action. The dispute concerns’ several hundred boilermakers employed in the State Government dockyard, at Newcastle. They are covered by a federal award,, so that the matter comes under federal jurisdiction. The. dispute has been, referred to Mr. Welbourne, the; New South Wales Registrar of the Arbitration Court,, and he has referred it to Conciliation Commissioner Mooney. I hope that an early solution will be found.
– Can the Minister for Repatriation say whether it is tine that a dependent child of an exserviceman, who is receiving educational benefits under the repatriation scheme, may have deducted from those benefits the value of any bursary which he wins?
– It is true that the value of a bursary may be deducted from the educational benefit payable under the repatriation scheme. This is because a limit has been placed upon the amount of income which may be derived from educational sources. [ have looked into the matter, and whilst there are some very good reasons why the position should be altered, there are also great difficulties in the way of doing so if we are to avoid creating anomalies in other directions, such as would be involved in the complete removal of the restrictions.
– Has the Minister for Immigration any further information to supply regarding the sending of Bait workers to orchardists in Tasmania, and whether orchardists in the “West Tamar Valley are to receive any of this ‘1 abour ?
– Two days ago, the honorable member asked me a question regarding the transfer of Baits to ‘Tasmania. At the time he asked his question, £8 workers had Deen sent to Tasmania, and twelve, more left yesterday. Six have been alloted to the West Tamar Valley in the electorate of the honorable member, and the rest have been sent to the Huon district, which is in the electorate of the honorable member for Franklin.
– With regard to the .shortage of fencing materials, which constitutes a growing menace to primary producers, I address this question to the Prime Minister, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, or any other Minister who may be able to give a satisfactory answer. I receive many letters from constituents asking me to make representations to the authorities on this subject and I have made many such representations with little result. When I refer the matter to a Commonwealth Minister, I am told that the State authorities are in charge of the distribution of fencing wire ; when I apply to the States they say that they cannot get enough material to distribute in adequate quantities. A deadlock has now been reached and production will fall as a result.
– And the question is?
– The real question is, just what is the position? Is there any prospect that primary producers will be able to obtain wire? What is the true reason for the present shortage?
– The honorable member for Wimmera is well aware, I think, that the distribution of supplies within the States is the prerogative of the. State governments. What the
Commonwealth does in respect to these matters is merely to allocate the production in Australia as between the respective States. This was decided upon .as ‘the result of an agreement reached at a conference of Commonwealth –and State Ministers. As to reason why there is such an acute shortage, the honorable member, of all people in this House, should be well aware that we have just come through a, war during which the production of this country was diverted from peacetime uses to defence purposes, and it is because of the back log of demand, that w.as built up during the war period, when practically all our. production of iron and steel went into the manufacture, of munitions, that there is now such a shortage. The shortage is further accentuated because we now have full employment. Indeed, it is impossible for many industries to obtain the labour necessary to increase production. The honorable member will also recollect that when the Government asked the people to give it power over industry, so that it could ensure that articles most necessary for the community could be produced, he and his colleagues opposed the granting of such power. Although the Government is unable constitutionally to take any steps to increase production, it is doing everything possible to assist private industry to increase the output of goods in short supply, particularly of those which are most necessary for primary producers, and it will continue to do so. There will be a continuing shortage of these materials for some time to come.
– I have received a. letter from a progress association in my constituency stating that, at the beginning of this year, it decided to issue, for free distribution, a calendar carrying a call for a better public spirit throughout the district and greater service to the community. The calendar carried advertisements to help defray the cost. Printing costs amounted to £14, and the association was called upon to pay £1 8s. sales tax. As a number of sales tax exemptions have been allowed in respect of printed matter, and as some encouragement seems to be needed to foster a public spirit in the community, can it be assumed that when the exemptions were being considered progress associations were not thought of? Has the Treasurer power to remit such a payment? Can arrangements now be made to include progress associations on the exemption list?
– The honorable member did not mention the name of the progress association and I assume that She is dealing with the matter on general principles. In conformity with the practice followed by other Treasurers, all applications for exemptions from sales tax are listed and examined periodically. The most I can promise the honorable member is that during the next month or two, when outstanding applications for exemptions are being examined, I shall consider her request.
– I have received some disturbing information about a person in the Land Sales Control. I have checked this information as far as I can and I believe it to be correct. I ask whether one of the Treasurer’s delegates in the Land Sales Control, whose name I have just handed privately to the Prime Minister, was committed to gaol in 1940 on eleven charges of forgery, uttering and false pretences. Was he employed in the Land Sales Control shortly after the New South Wales Public Service Board refused to employ him because of his criminal record? If this is the man, how did he come to be appointed to, of all places, the Land Sales Control as one of the Treasurer’s personal delegates? What influences, if any, were used to secure his appointment? When temporary appointments are made to the Public Service under National Security Regulations, what safeguards are used to maintain the good name of the public service generally and to protect the public against persons of this character?
– I do not know anything about the circumstances mentioned by the honorable member for Parramatta. In the employment of people in the Public Service, the practice has been for the
Public Service Board to examine the credentials and standing of applicants for positions. It is true, of course, that, during the war and later, it was always difficult to obtain the services of highly efficient people and the best of those available had to be taken, with the qualification, of course, that dishonest person or persons believed to be dishonest, were always refused employment. The honorable member has supplied me with the name of the person referred to in his question. The circumstances of his appointment and employment will be investigated in order to ascertain what substance there is in the report made to the honorable member. I will furnish the honorable member with the information that I receive.
– I present the report, with minutes of evidence, of the Public Works Committee on the following subject : -
Proposed erection of an administrative building for the entomology and plant industry divisions, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research at Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.
Ordered that the report be printed.
” Marine Phoenix “ - Queensland and Western Australian Services.
– Has the Minister for Immigration seen the report in the press this morning that Marine Phoenix will cease operations between the United States of America and Australia on the completion of its present trip? Will the Government take action to maintain a shipping service between Australia and the United States of America?
– I know all about Marine Phoenix. When I think of this vessel I am reminded of the song “ The Hours I Spend with Thee Dear Heart “. I had discussions in the United States of America with the president and the vicepresidents of the Matson line. I have also had discussions in Australia with a number of officials about the maintenance of Marine Phoenix on the AmericaAustralia run. “We have reached the stage at which only one ship is bringing passengers from America to Australia and taking passengers back to America. Monterey and Mariposa have boon lying in the ship repairers’ yards for a considerable time awaiting conversion. About, 4,000,000 dollars has been spent on each, but it will cost from 15,000,000 to 16,000,000 dollars to effect the conversions, prices being so high in America. Marine Phoenix is a C.4 army transport and is on loan to the Matson line. The dollar crisis has so curtailed travel that the line is now being run uneconomically, and, unless a subsidy is given to it by the Congress of the United States of America, or some .arrangement is made between Australia and the Government of the United States of America to keep Marine Phoenix on the run, possibly there will be no shipping at all between Australia and American Pacific ports at a very early date. In any event, Marine Phoenix is allowed to run only by an act of Congress which must be renewed annually, the vessel not being up to the standards laid down by the United States maritime regulations. The Government i9 doing all it can to have the vessel kept on the run, because it is the only one by which we can bring back to to this country, Australian brides and their American husbands for permanent settlement here.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel inform me whether any special action has been taken to step-up shipping services to Queensland? How many ships, if any, have been re-routed to that State, and what are their names? The honorable gentleman was able to inform the honorable member for Boothby that four colliers had been directed to South Australia. Can he indicate clearly what ships have been rerouted to Queensland ‘ to take supplies to that State ? Will the honorable gentleman do everything in his power to ensure that supplies of food, which are urgently required, shall he sent to that State in order to build up stocks which were depleted as the result of the recent railway strike ? Will he also ensure that supplies of iron and steel are despatched to manufacturers in Queensland who urgently require them? If they are not received immediately, many industries will have to completely close down. Will the right honorable gentleman ensure that the many persons who are waiting1 for their houses will be able to obtain supplies of galvanized iron? Will he ask the Minister responsible to indicate what is being done? Will he say whether supplies of barbed wire, plain wire and wire netting will be made available to primary producers who have been waiting for them for a long time because supplies have been held up by strikes which this Government has done very little to avoid?
– The questions asked by the honorable member relate to a number of matters in which I have taken a personal interest. As to the transport to Queensland of quantities of goods that have accumulated in New South Wales clue to the recent industrial trouble, on Wednesday last Mr. Hanlon, the Premier of Queensland, discussed the matter at considerable length in Sydney with the Director of Shipping. In Canberra yesterday, in company with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel and myself, he discussed what ships would be made available, the dates on which they would sail, and the ports to which they would go. I supplied to Mr. Hanlon a lengthy list of the ships affected. I shall not weary the House by reading it, but I shall supply a copy to the honorable member for Moreton for his information. Mr. Hanlon expressed his pleasure at the arrangements in regard to shipping. The transport of sugar from Queensland was also discussed.
With regard to the transport of goods to Queensland by road, Mr. Hanlon informed me that he had discussed the matter with the Premier of New South Wales and that he was very grateful for the splendid help that Mr. McGirr was prepared to give. Mr. Hanlon’s concluding words were that, as a result of the information supplied to him, he was satisfied that everything possible was being done to deal with the backlog of goods awaiting transportation from other states to Queensland and from Queensland to the Southern States.
With regard to barbed wire and galvanized iron, it is true that production at present is not adequate to meet the demands, and will not be for some time, although it is expected that it will be considerably increased. In the meantime, everything will be done to ensure the equitable distribution of available supplies.
– Can the Prime Minister say whether, as a result of the recent arrangements that have been made with regard to shipping services to Queensland, any ships have been diverted to that State which were originally scheduled to travel to Western Australia ?
– I have no recollection of any ship having been so diverted. However, I shall cause inquiries to be made so that the honorable member may be supplied with the information for which he asks.
Proposed Demonstration at Canberra - New Housewives Association.
– I have been informed that the New Housewives Association, the Waterside Workers Federation, the Eureka Youth League and the Sydney University Labour Club, are arranging a demonstration against rising prices to take place at Canberra next Wednesday and that the demonstrators will travel to Canberra by a special bus, being joined en route by Communists and “ fellowtravellers “. I ask the Prime Minister whether any request has been made to the Government to receive representatives of the demonstrators and whether the Government will receive them. In view of the decision of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labour party that the New Housewives Association is Communist-controlled and its instruction that members of the Australian Labour party should resign from the association, does the Government intend to implement the Australian Labour party’s decision by declaring it an illegal organization?
– The last part of the question was probably intended to be humorous. Some one telephoned me last week asking me to receive a deputation from the New Housewives Association on the matter of prices control. I was also told that it was proposed to hold some sort of demonstration. I made it clear that demonstrations are not permitted in Canberra, although it is true that on one or two occasions something of the character of a demonstration has been made in the precincts of Parliament House by people interested in certain legislation that the Government has introduced. I propose to arrange with the Minister for Trade and Customs, under whose administration prices control comes, to receive a deputation on that subject. It is probably correct that the Australian Labour party has decided that the New Housewives Association is under the control of Communists, but I do not propose to attend a demonstration by them or receive a deputation from them or any one else on subjects that are properly dealt with by other Ministers as a part of their administration. Any organization in the community, regardless of its politics, is entitled to present its views to Ministers if they have the time to spare to receive deputations. I have not yet conferred with the Minister for Trade and Customs on this subject, but I propose to ask him to receive the deputation if it desires to place before the Government the views of the association. But demonstrations, no!
– Supplies of galvanized iron or sheet iron are urgently required to fence stacks of hay in New South Wales against the mouse plague. I understand that the Australian Wheat Board possesses a considerable quantity of this iron which is not required for bulkheads because the wet season affected the harvest. Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture ascertain whether the Australian Wheat Board will make a quantity of this iron available in the wheat-growing areas of New South Wales?
– I shall be glad to ascertain whether the Australian Wheat Board has any galvanized iron surplus to its requirements which can be made available for mouse-proofing fodder stacks.
Suppliesfor South Australia
– I have discussed with the Minister for Shipping andFuel the stortage of coal in South Australia and he has stated that he would advise me when consignments would he sent to that State. Can the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel supply any information on this matter?
Mr.DEDMAN.- As the result of requests by the honorable member for Boothby to the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, I have been provided with the information that he requires. River Loddon left its coal berth yesterday with 7,600 tons of coal for Adelaide. Aroona with 4,200 tons, Bellerby with . 8,500 tons, and the Inchcrag with 5,000 tons are due to leave to-morrow. This information will also answer a question which the honorable member for Hindmarsh asked on this subject a few days ago.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Dairy ProduceExport Control Act - TwentySecond Annual Report of the Australian Dairy Produce Board, for year 1946-47, together with statement by Minister regarding the operation of the Act. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motionby Mr. Anthony) adjourned.
I lay on the table the following paper : -
Sugar - Protocol relating to International Sugar Agreement (signed inLondon, 29th August, 1947).
This protocol was signed in London on the 29th August, 1947, by representatives of the Governments of the Union of South Africa, Commonwealth of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Cuba, Czecho slovakia, Dominican Republic, French Republic, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Hayti, Netherlands, Peru, the Republic of the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, the United States of America, and the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia. One former signatory, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, declined to sign.
This protocol is similar in content to that signed on the 30th August, 1946, and extends the International Sugar Agreement, which initially operated from 1937, for a further period of one year from the 1st September, 1947. The original agreement was to remain in force for five years until the : 31st August, 1942, but has been continued by successive protocols. The first protocol continuedthe agreement unchanged until the 31st August, 1944, but in the threesubsequent protocols which extended the agreement until the 31st August, 1947, it was provided that certain portions, particularly the quota provisions, should remain inoperative. The present protocol also declares such portions inoperative during the period of one year ending the 31st August, 1948.
The main purposes of the renewal of the agreement are to maintain the central machinery for establishing an orderly relationship between the supply and demand for sugar and to gain time for the conclusion of a new scheme. It will be noted that Article 3 (2) of the protocol provides that in revising the agreement due account shall be taken of any general principles of commodity policy embodied in any agreement that may be concluded under the auspices of the United Nations.
I move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Davidson) adjourned.
” COMMONWEALTH GAZETTE “.
– Will the Prime Minister table in the House, Commonwealth Gazette No. 1 of 1948?
– I shall examine that document and advise the honorable member whether or not it is desired to table it.
Gold Mining - Powers of Legislative Council
– I desire to ask the Minister for the Interior a question with regard to the development of goldmining in the Northern Territory, and another with regard to the powers of the Northern Territory Legislative Council to deal with developmental policy. By way of preface, I remind the honorable gentleman that during the last period sitting the Treasurer brought down legislation for the abolition of the gold tax. In reply to questions asked by me, the Minister for the Interior stated that he intended to recommend to Cabinet certain legislation designed to assist the development of gold-mining in the Northern Territory. In view of the recent statement of the Premier of Western Australia deploring the condition of the gold-mining industry in Western Australia and the acute position of that industry in the remote areas of the Northern Territory, can the Minister for the Interior say whether it is intended to bring down in the near future the legislation that he has promised to introduce ?
At the inaugural meeting of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory, the elected member for Tennant Creek, Dr. Webster, raised the question of an inquiry into works and housing in the Northern Territory. The nominated member, Brigadier-General Lucas, who is the Deputy Director of Works and Housing in Darwin, said there was grave doubt whether the Legislative Council had any authority to deal with a department having its head-quarters outside the Territory. I wish to ask the Minister, now that legislation is to be brought down to alter the Electoral Act, as announced by the Attorney-General to-day, whether he will regard as urgent a review of the legislation which created the Legislative Council of the Northern Territorv. so that the council will have authority to deal with the Department of Works and Housing, and to embark upon a policy of development, particularly in connexion with gold mining; and further, will the council be given authority to rescind any provisions regarding land control which were deliberately written into the legislation in order to prevent the council from exercising any control whatever over land?
– I shall answer the last part of the question first. The honorable member asked for a review of the legislation under which the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory was established. I have had no request from the Legislative Council itself to interfere with, or in any way alter, the legislation under which that body was created. Until such a request is received from the council, my answer to the honorahle member’s question will continue to be “ No “. The honorable member said that I had promised that legislation would be introduced regarding gold mining.
– No; I said that the Minister had promised to make a recommendation to Cabinet-
– I said that I was making certain representations to the Government in connexion with the goldmining industry, particularly in Western Australia. The. honorable member interjected to ask whether the Northern Territory would be included.. My reply, so far as I can remember, was that the Northern Territory would be included when representations were made on that point. I can now inform honorable members that representations regarding the gold-mining industry nave been made to the Government. They are being considered, and I expect that the Treasurer will shortly be able to make a statement on the subject.
Debate resumed from the 8th April, (vide page 766), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the following paper be printed: -
International Affairs - Statement prepared: by the Minister for External Affairs,. 11th March, 1948.
.- This debate arises from the tabling of a document issued under the authority of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). It is a ponderous treatise, and those who have read it will agree that in some eases it is informative regarding factual affairs, and regarding what the Minister for External Affairs has been doing while abroad. It is also indicative of great assiduity on the part of officers of the Department of External Affairs, who prepared the statement for our reading. However, I think that honorable members of the Opposition will agree that as an indication of the Government’s policy on foreign affairs it is a disappointment. It is a great pity that there is not in existence a committee of the Parliament, representing all parties in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, to consider and make recommendations regarding external affairs. I made this suggestion five years ago. Were there such a committee, world affairs which affect our destiny could be discussed by its members, and although the Government would continue to take responsibility for foreign policy, it could be guided by the opinions and recommendations of the committee. Instead, we have a perambulating Minister, who spends most of his time abroad, and who seems to live in a dream world of his own. He is responsible for bringing this unrealistic document before the Parliament. The United Nations organization has become an obsession with him, and he cannot see the menace which threatens us. Indeed, he is unable to view matters realistically, so bemused is he with his theories, il do not say this captiously, because there is definite evidence of its truth. In a previous statement upon international affairs tabled by the Minister there was this priceless gem, which shows how out of touch the Minister is with world affairs: -
Having no clear evidence to the contrary and having during the last four years come to know some of Russia’s greatest statesmen, I take the view that the Soviet Union’s policy is directed towards self-protection und security against future attack. In my opinion, its desire is to develop its own economy and to improve the welfare of its peoples.
He reiterated something of the kind last night. He does not seem to have learned anything from the fact that the lights of freedom are going out over Europe because of the aggression of an undemocratic power. The Minister went out of his way to eulogize the co-operation of Russia with the Western Allies, and he quoted a series of telegrams which had passed between Mr. Churchill and Mr. Stalin as proof of this co-operation. Not a word did he say about the British convoys which braved attack from the air and from under the sea to carry supplies foi the Russians to Archangel; or about the Royal Air Force, which included many Australians, and which raided targets in Germany night after night, so that the Bomber Command lost as many as 60,000 young lives in Bomber Command alone; or about the British supplies sent to Russia when they might have been sent to Singapore, and so have prevented the fall of that stronghold. Sufficient tanks were sent to Russia to equip four or five divisions* All that help was being sent to Russia while people living in safety in Australia scribbled on walls, “Let u° have a second front “. They did not ask for the opening of a second front by Russia against Japan. Russia, as we know, came into the war against Japan only in the last few days of the war. The taxpayers are paying the cost of sending the Minister for External Affairs on trips around the world. The Minister loves the glamour of the committee room and the banquet hall, and afterwards he comes back to Australia and tells us that Russia is actuated by a desire to promote its own security. Who is likely to attack Russia? Are any of the countries adjacent to Russia likely to be a danger to it? Is there any danger to Russia from Persia, Austria, Finland or the Scandinavian countries? If we look at the map we shall see that the Red menace has swept almost right across Europe, and in some places is only a few miles from the Atlantic; yet the Minister for External Affairs can come back to Australia and tell us that Russia is actuated by fears for its own safety. Does the tension in Berlin to-day mean nothing to him? Do the crashing of a British Viking aircraft due to a Russian fighter, and the impudent replies of the Russians in regard to the tragedy, mean nothing to him ? Does the liquidation of the democracies adjacent to Russia also mean nothing to him? The right honorable gentleman told us how we had helped Britain in its emergency during the war. We certainly played our part during the war. Our fighting forces on air, land and sea made a notable contribution towards the cause of the allied arms; but the Australian Government’s part in helping Great Britain since the war has been totally inadequate. The paucity of the Government’s efforts should make us bow our heads in sha’me. The State Governments, the municipal councils and the people themselves have shown us the way by sending food parcels to Britain. Even alien countries have similarly helped to lighten the burden on. the British people. After great pressure and with a great flourish die Prime Minister agreed to the making of a gift of £25,000,000 to Great Britain but this was simply a clipping from Australian funds in London. He spoke of food rationing and boasted that Australia was one of the few countries in which rationing was continued. Food rationing in Australia is merely a farce. Every Australian has sufficient food daily to maintain a resident in Britain for a whole week. That is a factual statement borne out by official statistics relating to the calories of food available in the respective countries. The citizens of Australia know these things, but the Government refuses to admit them. If the Government wanted to do something of appropriate proportions to help Great Britain to-day it could initiate a lendlease arrangement covering foodstuffs. The instigator of the lend-lease scheme during the war said that it could be used in peace as well .as in war. We should fiend huge quantities of food to Great Britain to-day under an arrangement by which it would be paid for twenty years hence, or we should help Britain to float a sterling loan to which we as well aEgypt; India and other countries, the civilization of which was saved by feat3 of British arms, could subscribe. I have mentioned this matter frequently, but to no avail. The. Minister of External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), with great unction, said we were fighting for Great Britain to-day. Surely the best way to help the people of Great Britain immediately would be for the Government to acquire and ship t<5 Great Britain unrationed foodstuffs to the value of anything from £2,000,000 to £10,000,000. The Australian Red Cross Society has already pointed the way in which this could be done. The Minister has not got his loyalties right. Our initial loyalty is to this Commonwealth, but our next loyalty - because we’ cannot live alone - is to that greater Commonwealth, the British . Empire. If, instead of peregrinating around the world championing the cause of alien countries of small dimensions, the Minister for External Affairs had remained at home and sought to further the interests of Great Britain we should not have pettifogging countries like Guatemala «nd Chile defying Great Britain and threatening British interests to-day. Had the right honorable gentleman sought to achieve Empire unity and consulted with the representatives of the other dominions to this end, instead of seeking personal glamour, there would be three and not two great nations contending for world power to-day, Great Britain which was a great nation in the war would still be recognized as such. If the component parts of the Empire can be brought together into one solid bloc on these matters, we shall again achieve greatness. In population, resources, production, invention and initiative Great Britain led the world during the war. In the fighting valour of its forces it will always remain a great nation. We should work for the formation of <a solid Empire unit and not allow the Empire to disintegrate into fragments economically, as the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) was willing to do while he represented Australia -at the international trade talks at Geneva. The Minister for External Affairs is constantly taking part in conferences abroad, meddling in the affairs of Palestine where we have a . problem to-day as the result of the decision of a conference of which the right honorable gentleman was chairman, to partition that country. Incidentally, that was a decision upon, which the representatives of the British Government did not vote. The Minister’s junior assistant, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), gave us one of his tutorials in which he prattled away from ‘history, ‘leaving .out the essentials. .He even went so fa>r as to quote a gossip paper from -the United States of America as saying that it is not the Minister for Externa’! Affairs who is wrong in these matters but “Mr. Truman, ‘President of the United States -of America, «who changed his mind two or three times. He sought to prove that the Minister, ?as alleged ‘by -the right honorable member dior ‘Cowper .’(Sir Earle Page) last night, ‘bad ‘not turned :a somersault in his -views on an important ‘decision -affecting South Africa. ‘In respect oi jail .of these things the honorable .meinben tried tto shift responsibility to some one else, .generally ion the -right honorable gentleman’s junior officers. Bt would he better if -the right honorable gentleman stayed ja* home and viewed these matters in -proper perspective. In -spite of ‘his travels around the world, ‘he has “learned nothing. “When .somebody .spoke to Frederick the Great about the great campaigns in which he had taken part, he replied, “ Some people never learn anything. Look at ian army mule. It has been m ‘twelve campaigns, but it is still ii mule.” I do -not wish t-o detract from he right honorable gentleman’s ability, eloquence and knowledge-; I make these remarks m. o’rder to draw attention to the fact -that he does mot realize that the British Em,pire ‘Counts -for something in the world and that it is <no part of his duty “to smash it. He should -not -drag Australia’s name do wm. Australia’^ name as a nation stands high in the -world because -.of Ae ‘exploits of its fighting men, -but ki diplomacy -our .name is at a low “ebb.
The Minister has ignored he menace of Russia which overshadows everything else to-day. I propose to make .a ‘few quotations .which -may ‘horrify honorable members by their -very bluntness. Communism, -.the .creed of Imperial Russia, .whi.cn to-day is mere imperialistic than ever, is a ‘loathsome ideology and a hideous dogma which plays on the fears of the weak and threatens -our .democratic way .of life by brutal acts of gangsterism. I commend to honor.able members *The TAfe o.f Stalin -written hy his rival Trotsky. .1 .admit that there was great jealousy between those two men and that there was little to -choose ‘between them ‘as international ruffians. A good deal of -what is written ;in the book is, however, factual and should be known. Trotsky says -
Stalin -revealed ‘himself ‘as a plebian democrat and oafish provincial ^forced by <the trend of -the .times to ,assume the .Marxist tinge.
StarR w;as ‘a professional revolutionary like jail the other Bolshevik leaders, ,a man who has never worked and has spent his (life in a ‘bitter fight .against has fellow men -in his <ow.n country. The Communist policy is given in these three Sentences in a “broadcast fr.om Moscow :by Stalin as recently jas Ae :3rd September,, 1947- >1 . Only -the proletariat -is <a -really revolutionary class.
He had distrust of the masses, utter lack of imagination, shortsightedness, and a penchant for .the line .of least resistance. That is why the March conference is to-day expunged from party “history . . . ‘Stalin perverted history - -for -.prestige is a voracious manster - and by “‘doling out the die “, transformed black .to white.
That should be “ red “ ! Every -man who has crossed Stalin’s path has been done to death or banished into outer darkness.. I propose -to give some other quotations. Under the heading “ Communism in Practice “, Sir John Pollock wrote in the Quarterly Review -
Lenin with Mb last intelligible thought had denounced Stalin and warned the party to iatas any other leader. All the old Bolsheviks, including Bilbarin, the high’ priest of Bolshevik ideology, Rykov, once Lenin’s heir-apparent Zinoveiv (of the famous letter’), Kamenev (and his own patron in years to come), Stalin’s Caucasian compatriot, Ordjonikidse, would, “besides ‘Trotsky ‘himself, all be pushed to outer darkness or “liquidated. 1 .take this opportunity of correcting some honorable members opposite who claim that the Bolsheviks replaced Czarism. The Kerensky revolution displaced the Czar. Kerensky’s followers, the Mensheviks, consisted of moderates, but they were thrust out by the Bolshevik revolution of October, 1917, although they would have led Russia, with its vast resources, to the fulfilment of its destiny without the murder and misery that the Bolsheviks created. The names by which the Bolshevik leaders are known are not their real names. Stalin’s real name is Joseph Djugashvile, Trotsky was born with the name Bronstein. These men took aliases because of their harsh meaning. Stalin means steel; Molotov, hammer; and Ramenev, stone. They are all names designed toterrify. Trotsky, for whom there was no place in Russia, after having shared the lead with Lenin in the Bolshevik Revolution, had to flee from Russia and found sanctuary in Mexico, where he was murdered by an emissary of Stalin from Moscow before he had completed the writing of his book. “These are gruesome facts, but when we talk about ideologies, Christian or Communist or whatever they be, we should think whether they are concerned with brotherly love, truth and liberty or whether they are founded on infamous doctrines and espoused by unscrupulous men whose lives are lives of enmity and whose conduct is ordered by class consciousness against their fellow men. No more class conscious speech could have been delivered than that of the Prime Minister on communism yesterday. Let the Australian people know that this is a great country that must be developed without fear or favour and without appeasement of these violent -men in Australia, whose counterparts are to be found in Moscow and whom the Government is appeasing. It matters not that’ they are Anglo-Saxon by birth, because they have no loyalty to the British Empire and Australia, and are bound in fealty to Russia and “communism. Sir John Pollock continues -
Like all oligarchies, the Soviet brand tends to become a dictatorship exercised by a very small class at the top. In other words, “ the commissar class “, consisting in Russia of perhaps no more than two or three hundred men controlled by the fourteen who compose the Politburo and are themselves manipulated by the strongest, cleverest man in it since Lenin’s death, Joseph Djugashvile, known as Stalin.
Lenin himself propounded the axiom that society was always divided into “ a privileged top “ and a “ toiling population “. The Communist party, from cupboard love as well as other motives, are about 2 per cent. and have never comprised more than a maximum of four millions.
Lenin decided that the Bolsheviks should call themselves Communists. He felt that socialists - the members of the Australian Labour party are socialists - were too weak-kneed and could not do justice to the system of violence that he had inculcated into the Russian system. There were never more than 2 per cent. of the Russians in the Communist party. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) talks about the great numbers of people in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia who voted for communism, but it could be proved that the Communists could not get a majority in any country in which free elections were held.
– The honorable member has drawn a distinction between the socialists and Communists.
– The Minister does not believe in “little capitalists’’ and does not want people in Australia to own their own homes. He will be hoist on his own petard if he goes on with his policy of socialism, because he will be among the first to be liquidated by the violent men who are his “ fellow-travellers “. The picture of communism as practised in Russia is painted by Kravchenko in vivid colours in his book I Chose Freedom. He was a boy when the revolution occurred. He had outstanding technical ability and was sent to the United States of America for further study. There, disillusioned like the Russian who was in the Soviet Legation at Ottawa, he broke with the Soviet and decided to tell the truth. The picture he paints is one of “ hypocrisy, corruption, universal oppression, cruelty surpassing that of Genghis Khan, tyranny of the few over the many, crueller than anything imagined by Hitler, and his Nazi gang, incompetence, waste, widespread misery, starvation, slavery, injustice, and fear - fear everywhere, fear pervading the whole abominable system from the lowest to the highest “. In the words of Carlyle -
Truly the revolution devouring her own children.
Or, as Lord Acton expressed it -
Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
That is the system for which the Australian Government is an apologist today. Not one honorable gentleman opposite, during the censure motion, attempted to denounce the Communists. Kravchenko’s book continues -
After Kirov’s (his friend’s) assassination, Stalin is reported to have attended the tortur- ing of the culprit. This precipitated the wholesale arrests and executions known as the super-purge (in contra-distinction to minor purges going on all the time), that lasted for over two years, and destroyed no one knows how many thousands till then comfortable and influential Communists, including at least four members of the Politburo, the greater number of the Leninist old guard, millions of smaller fry, a cohort of Red Army officers, and General Tukachevsky himself, its principal commander.
That occurred in 1938, only ten years ago. Thousands of people were liquidated at the order of one blood-stained tyrant. The atrocities committed by Tammerlane, the Asiatic conqueror, who left piles of skulls in Bagdad, Ankara and other cities were no worse than the infamies which the Communists have perpetrated in Russia. How can members of the Australian Labour party sit cheek by jowl in conference, as they do, with the representatives of this system in Australia ? The book continues -
Torture and the use of hostages gained the confessions of some of the founders of the Soviet as spies and traitors, to save those they loved from death or dreadful torture.
Some of the victims confessed that they were traitors and spies because of threats that, if they failed to do what was demanded of them, their relatives would suffer. Ten minutes after their trial, they were executed. The book goes on -
Russia is a country of vast expanses, immense mineral wealth, limitless agricultural resources and a large population. Revolution arrested its rapid progress, for they were emerging painfully from the static sluggishness into which the Tartar invasion had plunged it for over four centuries.
Stalin is a Caucasian. He is a merciless man, who is out of step with Ukrainians, White Russians and others in the more civilized parts of Russia. The hook proceeded -
For a small band of ambitious men, without scruples, but with a clear view of their aim, absolute power and with long experience in subversive propaganda, accepting too, assistance from the enemy (Germany), the task of imposing themselves on the amorphous Russian mass, with its rudimentary sense of property, was less hard than it looked. Once in the saddle, the exclusive control of arms, money and means of communication, the entire apparatus of the State, backed by highly paid mercenaries, first Chinese and Letts, then the Ogpu praetorians, made them impregnable against assault from within, so long as they stuck together. Fears of a breakaway dictated the purges.
Recently, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers) announced that the Australian Government had sold 60,000 rifles. Who knows where they have gone ? I do not suggest that all of them got into wrong hands, but it was by arming the proletariat and spreading the doctrine of treachery that the Communists were able to bring about ultimate revolution in Russia. Kravchenko also wrote -
It would be idle to deny that there was plenty of cruelty in Russia under the old regime, but it pales into insignificance alongside the bestial crimes of the Communist monsters who now holdRussia in thrall.
Kravchenko is a Russian, who wrote about his homeland. He saw the old system and the new in operation, and, despite his upbringing, he chose freedom.
I have said enough about the Communist ideology. Let us examine how it works in practice. The governments of’ free countries and their democratic leaders are being liquidated. The following nations are now behind the “ Iron Curtain “ : - Bulgaria, Roumania, Albania, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslavakia and Eastern Germany, and the former Republics of Lithuania, Esthonia and Latvia. Finland is now threatened. Recently, the Finns were forced to sign an agreement pledging themselves to resist aggression. They had a long fight to prove that they did not want assistance unless they asked for it. However, Finland is regarded as Russia’s next victim.
Recently, I received letters from Turkey - a country of which I havehad some experience. To-day the Turks are not saying: “Is there likely to be another war “ ? They are asking : “ When will this country beattacked “ ? They are in peril. War inspired by Communist Russia israging in Greece. This is a “ phoney “ peace. Some people talk of peace enduring for five or ten years. Do they believe that the Russians will conduct the next war ou the old pattern whereby one country declared war on another, the combatants mobilized their armies, and the opposing forces lined the frontiers and began fighting? Not at all! The Russians have proved by their conquests that the greatest successes are obtained by blackmail, terrorism and the fifth column. The geographical boundaries of the British Empire are marked on the map, but no one can draw the boundaries of the present Russian Empire, because in other countries there are islands of treachery inhabited by the Communists.
On “Wednesday, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) attacked three members of the Opposition because they had dared to say that some propaganda might emanate from the Russian Legation in Canberra. The honorable member was very forthright in his condemnation, and described the three members of the Opposition as “‘malignant liars”. But they had not stated that propaganda did emanate from the Russian Legation here. All they did was to ask the Government to find out whether it did. If honorable members opposite have not read the report of the royal commission on the activities of Russian spies in Canada they should1 do so without: delay. They will discover that the Russian Ambassador there remained aloof from spying, bat there was definitely an officer attached to the Legation who was in touch with the whole network of Communist activities throughout Canada. He made himself “ scarce “ as soon as the inquiry by the: royal commission began. I ‘make that statement to explain what the three members of the Opposition, meant when they asked for’ an inquiry.
How hag Russia ‘treated those countries whose independence it has destroyed ? The method of achieving domination proves that sovietism is similar to1 fascism. In Bulgaria, Nicola Petkov, a’ responsible leader of the Germans who was on the side of the Allies1, and waa. the leader of the Agrarian party, was hanged after a farcial trial at the orders of Dimitrov, a Communist who ba’d become: Prime Minister. He was* only one of tens of thousands of people who were executed, not because they had committed any crime, but because they did not believe in this godless ideology. [Extension of time granted.1] In Hungary, the Premier, M. Nagy, was forced into exile in order to save the life of his son, who was held as a hostage by the reds. M. Kovacs, the leader of the Smallholders party, was arrested and died of heart failure, it was said, in a Soviet prison at Budapest last September. In Yugoslavia, the leader of the Peasant party, M. Yovanovitch, was sentenced to imprison-^ ment for nine years on charges of having used “ illegal propaganda “ against Tito. Of course, “ Tito “ is only a pseudonym. His name is Brozny, and like Stalin his hands are stained with blood. He has liquidated patriots who opposed him, and, like the leaders of the Communist parties in eastern Europe, he went to Moscow and was trained there. Thorez, the leader of the French Communists, instead of fighting, for his country, went to Moscow and came back to cause trouble. Tito did the same. Gottwald, the new dictator of Czechoslovakia, is another example. All these men are members of this organization for world terrorism. In Poland, the leader of the Peasant party, Mikolajczky, was forced to flee from the country to escape arrest. His offence was opposition to the Communists. Just before his escape with the assistance of the Royal Air Force,, seventeen of his supporters were arrested. Their fate’s are unknown.
Here’ I correct the honorable member far Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who talked about Poland being repressive in the’ old days’ under Pilsudski and Beck. For over a century, Poland Waa under the domination of Russia, Germany and Austria. It won its- liberty only after the first world war. Russia” then immediately attacked it, and was defeated in 1t920. Poland is the one occupied country that did not produce a “Quisling” daring, World War II. The Polish Government fled overseas, followed by crowds of young1 fighting men. There’ were numerous- Polish squadrons in the Royal Air Force, and in addition,, there was the army of General Anders^, some of the in embers of which are working, in Tasmania- to-day. These- men darc not go back to Poland because if they do they will be executed. The members of the Polish squadrons that fought so gallantly with the Royal Air Force are exiles. The Polish Government that operated in London was invited by Russia to return to Poland and its safety was guaranteed. The members flew back but, with the exception of Mikolajczky, were immediately arrested, and no one knows their fate. Milkolajczky recently fled to Britain. In Albania sixteen nonCommunists were sentenced to death and four others to life imprisonment. Off the Albanian coast recently, two British destroyers were damaged by modern mines and some 30 British sailors were killed. No apology was offered by the Albanian Government, as no apology was offered by the Russian Government recently when a British aircraft was brought down near Berlin by a Russian fighter or trainer aeroplane. In Roumania, Petrescu, the leader of the Independent Socialist party, was arrested and tried because his party rejected demands to fuse with the Communist party. A former leader of the Peasant party, Julius Maniu, and eighteen of his followers were similarly treated. He has been sentenced to life imprisonment with solitary confinement. He is a man of 72, whose offence was that he was the leader of a political party in his own country. All those people have passed into oblivion behind the “ Iron Curtain “.
I have gone into these matters in some detail because we do not have them before us sufficiently often in the Parliament. Honorable members of all parties should realize that our diplomacy and our outlook on international affairs is something that is above party politics. Our future and that of the British Empire is in danger. Democracy itself is in peril, but :he Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) ignores or defends the Russian machinations and speaks merely of regional groups that are being established. He ignores the warnings of fellow socialists like Mr. Attlee and Mr. Bevin and the splendid attitude of Mr. Truman, the President of the United States of America. It would be most desirable for us to establish a parliamentary committee consisting of all parties in both Houses to discuss international affairs
so that we might get a cross-section of the real Australian point of view and not merely a party point of view. That would be much better than relying on a perambulating pacifist with a leaning towards the “ pinks “. The duty of the Government is to see that our defence measures are adequate. Defence in this country to-day is on a farcical basis. We have not the defence power that we had at the outbreak of World War II. We have a lot of material scattered about in various places, but we have not got the personnel, and this Government will not wake up to that fact. There is a duty upon it to revise and bring up to date its defence programme so that it is adequate to enable ns to meet our responsibilities. The squadrons of the Royal Australian Air Force are scarcely organized to-day, and the principal part of our air force is stationed in Japan. Militia training has not even begun and recruiting for the Permanent. Army is lagging. How can we be sure that Australia, which has already fought twice for its life, will not soon be engaged in a war started, not in the orthodox way, but in some other way, such as by the Lenin scheme of turning the guns against one’s fellows? May not such a war blaze up at any time? I do not want to be an alarmist, but having regard to what has happened in other parts of the world it is necessary to face up to the possibilities. Let us discuss international affairs often, but as a prelude let us have discussions among members of all parties so that we may adopt a realistic outlook and have a defence force adequate to meet our commitments.
– Such as when World War II. broke out?
– Yes. The force we have to-day is even less than that. T welcome this opportunity to discuss external affairs.
.- I think the House recognizes that the survey of international affairs made last night by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr-
Evatt) was an excellent one, and that the contribution to the debate made by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) was of great interest and revealed an acute understanding of the problems facing the world to-day. 1 should not have referred to those two speeches if the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) had not criticized the Government and tried to “ write down” its efforts in the international sphere. It is a complete falsehood to say that diplomacy in this country is at a low ebb. Throughout the world the part played by Australia in international conferences is regarded as having been most valuable. If the honorable member for Balaclava could talk to representatives of any of the 58 countries represented at the recent conference at Havana or of the 57 nations comprising the United Nations, he would be told by all of them that, having regard to its size, the contribution made by Australia at those conferences was at least equal to that of any other country in the world.
The Minister for External Affairs concluded his speech by quoting the preamble to the Charter of the United Nations. I propose to direct attention to one of the main objectives set out in that preamble. Millions of people all over the world are praying for the preservation of peace. In that preamble there are three phrases which I want to quote in order to emphasize this matter as one of the most outstanding objectives of the United Nations. In the preamble, it is stated that this organization was set up, and the nations comprising the organization met together, in order to live together in peace; to unite their strength to maintain international peace, and to ensure that armed force would not be used save in the common interest. That is an outstanding objective to which not only the governments of the world, but also the peoples of the world, ought to direct their attention, and are, indeed, directing their prayers. Since that is the desire of millions of people throughout the world, it is, perhaps, appropriate that one should examine how international peace can be obtained and preserved, because the peace which we have in the world to-day is a very precarious peace indeed. I do not believe that the pursuit of peace is in any way assisted by the war-mongering’ statements being made by many , people throughout the world to-day-
– The Minister is merely a class-war-monger.
– Among whom I include the honorable member for Balaclava. The problem of maintaining, and achieving peace has baffled individuals and governments over the centuries. It is true that at one stage in the world’s history we did have a peace imposed by force of arms, and it is conceivable that at some time in the future, peace may be obtained and maintained for a considerable period by similar means; but that, of course, would mean that a third world war would have to be fought. I am in a position, as Minister for Defence, and Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, to know that the consequences of a third world war would be too awful for any one to contemplate. However, one must recognize that this is one way in which peace could he achieved and maintained, although it is a way which, I hope, can be avoided.
Another way to maintain peace throughout the world is the method which resulted in periods of peace throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, but they were periods of peace broken at times by war on an ever-increasing scale. I refer to the maintenance of some kind of balance of power. Peace of that kind is so precarious that we must try to find some better way.
A third method to obtain and maintain peace is through the United Nations. First, however, let me say a few words about the possibility of maintaining peace by means of a balance of power among the various nations. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) spoke of the unique .resources of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Of course, everyone recognizes to-day that national power is based on industrial power. Anyone who has seen the tremendous industrial wealth and power of the United States of America, and the tremendous productive capacity of that country, will realize that, at the present time, no other country in the world could wage war .against the United States of America with any hope of success because the industrial resources and industrial might of that country are so great in comparison with all the rest of the world combined. That is one reason why I make bold to say that there will be no war for at least five years, if not, indeed, for a very much longer period. It would take Russia, or any other potential enemy of the United States of America, many years to develop its industrial capacity so as to have any hope of success in a war with the United States of America. That is why I believe that talk of war in the near future is unreal. That is why I believe that we have a period of time, some estimate it a3 short as five years, some at ten years, and some at fifteen years - which is the estimate of Field Marshal Lord Montgomery - in which to settle differences of opinion between the United States of America and that great country, Russia, which is set before us as the potential enemy of the United States of America in a war about which so many people are, unfortunately, speaking.
The maintenance of peace by means of a balance of power must always be precarious. In the world as it is to-day, after the second world war, it is undoubtedly true that there are really only two great powers, the United States of America and Russia. The United Kingdom has been bled white by its efforts in the war. It made tremendous sacrifices. Its industries have been devasted to a degree quite unknown in the United States of America, where industry did not suffer at all as a result of the war, and where tremendous technical advances were made because of the requirements of war. We all are proud of the magnificent effort of the United Kingdom during the second world war, but we cannot blind ourselves to the fact that Britain is no longer a country possessing anything like the power of the United States, of America or Russia. It is true that the resources of the British Commonwealth of Nations combine to make up an industrial potential which may be compared to that of the United States of America or Russia; but for the purposes of defence and of preserving peace, the potential capacity of the British Commonwealth of Nations cannot be used in the same way as can the industrial capacity of the United States of America or Russia because, geographically, it is widely dispersed throughout the world and cannot be concentrated for defence purposes. Therefore, if we are to pursue the idea of maintaining peace by balance of power tactics, the British Commonwealth of Nations must endeavour to aline itself with one of the two great powers that I have mentioned. I deprecate the use of this method. I believe it is not the proper way to promote peace.
The only practicable way to achieve permanent peace is to devote all our industry and attention to the strengthening of the United Nations. The Minister for External Affairs has taken part in many international conferences held under the auspices of the United Nations. The General Assembly and the Security Council of which Australia was a member until the end of last year, are the main bodies of the United Nations organization dealing with defence matters, security and international peace. The Minister is to be congratulated on the very sincere efforts that he has made on both of those organizations to ensure that the principles on which the United Nations is founded are carried into the deliberations of these bodies. The peace of the world, however, does not depend solely upon what is done in relation to security matters, or on measures taken for defence and the prevention of aggression; it depends too on a multitude of other matters which are covered by other organizations within the United Nations structure, principally the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council and the International Court of Justice. To each of these bodies Australia has from time to time sent representatives who have taken part in the deliberations and discussions and played an important part in trying to bend the work of the organizations to’ the pursuit of international peace. The body which, because of my position in the Australian Government, I am most interested in, is the Economic and Social Council, which covers an extraordinarily wide field of activities. A number of what are called specialized agencies are associated with the Economic and
Social Council, principally the Food and Agricultural ‘Organization, the International Labour Organization, the International Monetary Fund and Bank, and the International Health Organization. If the nations represented at Havana decide to ratify the agreement arrived at there, a new organization, the International Trade Organization, will be associated with the Council. All of these bodies operate in a very wide field. If the United Nations is to be effective in achieving and maintaining international peace, it is essential that the work of all of these subsidiary organizations should be pursued with the utmost energy by those who are delegated to attend them. There has been expressed in the press in this country, and on some occasions in the ranks of Opposition members of this House, very considerable criticism of the expenditure of money on delegations to attend overseas conferences. I appeal to the people and to .honorable members of the Opposition to desist from such criticism. If we believe in the objectives of the United Nations, if we believe that there is a worthwhile job to be done, and that we can achieve international peace through the United Nations organization, it is incumbent upon us to bend all our energies in the pursuit of those objectives. It is not enough for us to say: “ We shall send a delegation and it does not -matter what size delegation we send,” oi’ “ We shall take a passing interest in this, that, or the other problem”; it is our duty, not only to the Parliament, but also to the people of this country and indeed, to humanity at large, to do the best we can in the pursuit of the objectives of the United Nations. ‘ I hope, therefore, that there will be less criticism in the future than there has been in the past of the expenditure of public money on delegations to attend these international conferences. During my last visit overseas I attended an important conference at Havana. A preliminary report of the achievements of that conference has already been made to this House. At a later stage a supplementary report will be made. From Havana T proceeded to attend a session of the Economic and Social Council held at Lake Success, near New York. Un- fortunately, I was unable to attend all the meetings of the session, but in the course .@f the week I was in attendance I was able to obtain a better grasp of the enormous economic problems with which the world is faced to-day. As the result of a resolution introduced by the Australian representative an investigation was made by the Department of Economic of the United Nations organization into world economic trends. A report of the results of that investigation was presented to the meeting of the Council during the first week in February. lt is a document which sets forth and analyses the economic problems that confront the world. I am one of those who believe - and I have stated this frequently in this House - that if the United Nations can find some reasonable solution of these economic problems, many of the security problems facing us to-day will disappear. They will solve themselves. That is why I believe that much greater attention should be paid by the various countries to the solution of those problems than is perhaps paid to-day. I emphasize also that many of our domestic problems and decisions are intimately related to the policy that we are endeavouring to apply internationally. For example, if our objective is to give the greatest possible assistance to European countries, particularly the United Kingdom, in the reconstruction of their economies, we do so only by alining our domestic policy with our international policy. The rationing of food and petrol and the restriction of imports in order to save dollars are all related to our international policy. If we did not do those things in the domestic field, we should not be able to do our utmost to assist the United Kingdom. These economic problems should engage the attention of all governments, and the Australian Parliament could devote more time to their consideration. I quote the following paragraph from the introduction to the Economic Report on the Salient Features of the World’s Economic Situation in order to show how important it is to understand the economic problems of the world : -
The world’s population is now greater than a decade ago by almost 200.000,000 or nearly 10 per cent., but the world’s production of key industrial commodities for which data are available has, in many instances, not yet reached the pre-war level. As much coal, steel and rubber was produced in the world in 1947 as in 1937, but the production of pig-iron was lagging behind pre-war levels. There has, however, been a vast expansion in the production of electric power.
The population of the world has increased by 10 per cent, in the last decade, but world production is almost the same as it was before the war. A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization to the Economic and Social Council shows quite clearly that the food situation in situation will not be entirely relieved for some years. The continuing world food crisis was an item on the agenda of the conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization. From the reports it appeared that the food shortage, which would be acute during 1948 and 1949, was likely to remain very serious until 1952, and might continue in a sub-acute state for a long period thereafter. We must take that into account in planning our own domestic economy. It means that we can plan ahead for increased production of food with the assurance that for at least some years we shall obtain reasonable prices for our products. After World War I. food prices went up to high levels for a few years and then there was a glut and prices receded to unprofitable levels. The position to-day is different. Even if we considerably step-up the production of food there is no fear of a glut in the markets of the world. That is partly because countries throughout the world realize that the standards of living of their people must be increased by every means at their command. No longer are the peoples of the world satisfied with the nutrition scales that they have hitherto accepted. They insist that food supplies must be increased generally and that their diet shall be properly balanced. That means that various countries will have to import food not locally produced. That in turn means that countries like Australia with great capacity for primary production will be able to find markets for their commodities in countries that have so far been closed to them. T emphasize that the problem of food production is intimately linked with economic organization generally.
Another matter that engaged the attention’ of the Economic and Social Council was full employment. Honorable members will recollect that this matter was brought to tho attention of the Geneva conference by the Australian delegation, largely as the result of whose: work a chapter dealing with it was included in the draft charter of the International Trade Organization. TheEconomic and Social Council at LakeSuccess received a resolution dealing with, full employment from the Internationa! Trade Organization Conference at Havana, which was held under theauspices of the Economic and SocialCouncil. Again largely at the instigation of the Australian delegation, theEconomic and Social Council passed a resolution expressing the opinion that it was not enough for all member-countries to enter into an obligation to ensure the application of the policy of full employment in their own confines but that every country which had accepted the policy should provide information as to how it planned to meet its obligation. In other words the Economic and Social Council is about to ask for details from every country belonging to the organization of its plans to give effect to and maintain full employment. The Australian plans were formulated largely through the National Works Council. In a debate of this character, I do not desire to go into details of those plans, but I believe that the Economic and Social Council will be completely satisfied about the ability of the member-countries to carry out the obligation of full employment, if each of them can provide it with details of plans such as we have formulated in Australia.
The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has given a clear account of Australia’s foreign policy. In applying that policy Australia is making a considerable contribution to the objectives of the United Nations. I believe that our main contribution lies in our taking a part in all international discussions and making our views clear and then making our decision, not on the basis of maintaining some balance of power, but on the basis of advancing the welfare of all peoples. If we do that we shall assist in. achieving the most paramount of all the objectives, the maintenance of international peace. [Extension of time granted.] I believe that Australia has made a great contribution towards the objective of the United Nations. I believe, too, that the Minister for External Affairs has done as much as any person could do on behalf of Australia in the councils of the world. The worth of his contribution is recognized throughout the world. It is universally recognized in every country, I believe, except in his own country, Australia. I believe that even here it is recognized except among members of the Opposition in this chamber.
I hope that the efforts of the Minister will receive the enthusiastic support of the great majority of the Australian people. I believe that Australians understand what the Government is trying to do, and realize that the Minister i9 making a great contribution to international peace. This Government, whether it be represented by the Minister for External Affairs or by any other Minister at international conferences, will continue to make that contribution in the hope that, before many years have passed, we shall be able to say finally that lasting peace has been achieved.
Debate (on motion by Dame Enid Lyons) adjourne
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1948 - No. 22 - Postal Telecommunication Technician’s Association (Australia).
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of Civil Aviation - A. H. Spooner.
House adjourned at 12.50 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: - “ Commonwealth Gazette “.
asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
Department of Trade and Customs :
rrison asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Trade and Customs Commercial Branch, Sydney, and what are the duties of the branch?
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : - 1. (a) 192.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 April 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1948/19480409_reps_18_196/>.