18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - Following the taking of the referendum in relation to rents and prices, including charges, consideration hasbeen given to Commonwealth controls. It has been decided to advise the State governments as follows: -
The Australian Government intends to relinquish the administration of the following controls as from the expiration of the periods mentioned, that is -
Rent control - two months.
Price-fixing - three months.
Land sales control - three months.
The Australian Government invited the State governments to set up machinery to assume these controls within the periods mentioned.
The Australian Government and Commonwealth staffs will give all possible administrative assistance to the State governments in the setting up of such State controls as the respective State governments consider necessary and adequate.
A review has also been made of existing subsidies and of rationing. Decisions have been made regarding these matters. I have to-day sent a letter to each State Premier setting out the Government’s decisions. I lay the following paper on the table: -
Commonwealth War-time Controls - Copy of Communication addressed by the Prime Minister to each of the State Premiers, stating the Commonwealth Government’s intentions regarding the control of Rents, Prices, Land Sales. Rationing and Subsidies.
– The Prime Minister is reported in the press as having told the Australian Labour party conference in Sydney last Saturday that it was essential that the Commonwealth should transfer prices control to the States, at is was extremely improbable that the authority would remain long with the Australian Government. Will the right honorable gentleman inform the House on what grounds he based that opinion?
– I thought that this matter had already been the subject of sufficient debate without my expressing any further opinions about it As the honorable member knows, the Australian Government bus decided to relinquish the authority to control rents and prices, and these powers will thereafter be exercisable by the States. The first reason which has actuated the Government in relinquishing control within the period I have indicated may be described as a physical one. It is not possible to retain staff in a department of a temporary character when officers possessing such a specialized knowledge are urgently required elsewhere. Secondly, a number of permanent public servants, who are employed in the Prices Branch, should have been transferred some time ago toother departments, because of the insecurity of their employment in that branch. The next reason is that in the opinion of the Government, the High Court may eventually decide that the Government no longer has power to control rents and prices. I am not expressing an opinion upon when such a judgment may be given or what its terms may be, but I point out that five eases challenging the Government’s powers are now before the courts. It is felt that these litigants, who are acting upon legal advice, would not spend thousands of pounds in order to test the validity of the regulations unless they had received advice that there was foundation for such actions.
Communist Activities - Alleged Australian Ban on Shipping.
– I have received from the honorary secretary of the National Council ofWomen of Australia a letter advising that a statement has been forwarded to the Minister for Ex ternal Affairs from 37 organization of women in Greece, protestin against the “new tyranny” in the country - including the forcible kidnapping of .boys and girls, and their transportation to Communist countries for instruction in Communist doctrine. Will the Minister inform me whether he has received such a statement? If he has read it, has he satisfied himself as to the authenticity of the information contained therein, and will he find ways and means of bringing the matter before the United Nations Human Rights Commission ?
– The Acting Leader of the Opposition has referred to a communication that I received on Thursday or Friday. It is an important communication, because it purports to give - and I have no doubt it was written in good faith - instances of a large number of abductions by Russia of Greek children. When I received the notification of the charges, I regarded them as so important that I sent the details to our representative on the Greek Commission. That is the first step. I shall acquaint the honorable member with any further developments in relation to the communication.
– Can the Prime Minister say whether the federal council of the Waterside Workers Federation communicated with him threatening or announcing a boycott on Greek shipping in Australia? Has the Seamen’s Union decided to refuse to supply replacements for vacancies for crews on Greek vessels, and to refuse to work on tugs or pilot steamers required to service such vessels? Has the federal council of the Waterside Workers Federation asked the Australian Government to seek through the United Nations organization, the release of trade union officials alleged to have been arrested in Greece and also a guarantee of the freedom of trade union organization, and has this request been made under the threat of action against Greek shipping? What is the attitude of the Government towards these decisions and requests of the two unions?
– A question about Greek shipping was asked in this House last week. The only Greek ship I knew anything about at that time was one under French charter which was loading at Melbourne. Having been informed that some trouble was likely to occur, I consulted the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, and was informed that the ship was being loaded. On Friday evening last, the Minister for the Navy told me that there was likely to be trouble about the fuelling of a ship, but I understand that the difficulty was overcome by fuelling the ship from barges. It appears that the trouble arose over the refusal of the seamen’s union to do something. I did not hear of any complaint about the waterside workers at that time. It is also true that my attention was drawn this morning to the likelihood of trouble over a Greek ship entering Fremantle. I do not remember receiving any communication about that matter, or the other matter mentioned by the honorable member, but I shall have a check made to see if anything has ‘ come forward on those matters.
– I have received representations from the Tasmanian Potato Marketing Board about Tasmania’s requirements of superphosphate for the forthcoming potato plantings. As the Risdon works in Tasmania cannot yet supply Tasmania’s superphosphate requirements, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture do all he can to assist the Potato Marketing Board in itf attempts to obtain adequate supplies from Victoria?
– Following representations from the Tasmanian Potato Marketing Board and the honorable member for Wilmot himself, the Department of Commerce and Agriculture and the Department of Shipping and Fuel are doing all they can within -the ambit of their powers to expedite deliveries of superphosphate to Tasmania. As a matter of fact, arrangements were made for 400 tons to go to Tasmania last week. Extra supplies will be delivered as expeditiously as shipping and other factors make possible.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture able to state the policy of the Australian Government with regard to the potato crop this year? If he is not able to do so now, will he do so before the Parliament rises for the recess?
– It is not a matter of what the policy of the Australian Government is. Owing to the inability of the States to reach agreement, the Australian Government, even if it so» desired, is not in a position to continue the existing potato contract scheme.
– Will the Prime Minister consider the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate that, in view of the fact that the Minister for Health yesterday was able, by means of the parliamentary broadcast, to state the Government’s case for the free medicine scheme, the Government should provide equal broadcasting facilities for a representative of the British Medical Association to state the medical profession’s case?
– The speech made in the Senate by the Minister for Health yesterday was a part of the ordinary proceedings of the Senate and was made on the Appropriation Bill. I certainly do not propose to give any one outside the Parliament the right to make statements in the Parliament or by means of the broadcast of the parliamentary proceedings.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I have been grossly misrepresented in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, which on the 13th June published the following article: -
TWO MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT IN CAR CRASH.
Gosford, Saturday. - A Commonwealth sedan car carrying an M.H.R. and an M.L.A. was involved in a collision near Peats Ferry yesterday.
Mr. Rowland James, Federal member for Hunter, New South Wales, and Mr. J. G. Arthur, member for Hamilton in the State Legislature, were travelling from Sydney to Newcastle in the car when it crashed into another car which was standing on the roadside.
The parked car was owned by a constable, attached to Phillip-street Police Station, Sydney.
He had stopped on the side of the road to cool his engine.
An argument took place after the collision.
Gosford and Hornsby police would not give any information about the accident.
All they would say was that nobody wa, injured.
The facts are that I was again acting the part of the Good Samaritan. In fact, the car had stopped to cool its engine. We came along twenty minutes after a crash had taken place, not with a Commonwealth car, but between two other cars. I was asked by Mr. Arthur to give him a lift to Newcastle as his car was damaged. I did so. I endeavoured to have the report corrected on the Monday, and the Newcastle Herald was the only newspaper that made the correction. Yesterday I gave a statement to three pressmen in Sydney, including, I believe, a member of the staff of the Baily Telegraph, correcting the report, which appeared in newspapers in practically all the States. The report caused considerable worry to my family and other relatives and is grossly incorrect. Steps should be taken to protect members of the Parliament against such deliberate misstatements. In common decency the press should correct such reports.
Mk. Rupert Lockwood - Position i> Malaya - Passports - Public Service Infiltration.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether Mr. Rupert Lockwood, a well-known Communist, sailed recently for Yugoslavia? Is it a fact that Mr. Lockwood will attend a meeting of the Cominform? Who was responsible for the issue of a passport to this Communist agitator and writer, and what countries is he entitled to visit under the passport? Were any dollar credits made available to Mr. Lockwood for the purposes of his trip abroad?
– I know nothing of the whereabouts of Mr. Rupert Lockwood. If he were issued with a passport he would obtain it under the same terms and conditions as apply to other citizens who wish to travel abroad. The honorable member knows that he himself would be able to secure a passport. In fact, there are many people in the community who would be glad to expedite its issue. I have no knowledge that Mr. Rupert Lockwood has gone to Yugoslavia and, if ne has done SO, I cannot imagine that dollar credits were made available to him because they would not be needed there. The issue of small credits for personal travelling expenses is controlled by the Commonwealth Bank. An application for such an issue would be dealt- with by the. Commonwealth Bank unless it. related to a contentious case or the application were of such a character as to require a ministerial decision or expression of opinion. I shall have inquiries made and inform the honorable member whether such a passport was issued and, if dollar credits were made available to Mr. Lockwood,, the extent of such credits.
-Has. the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to the activities of the Australian Communist party in inciting civil- war in Malaya, and: in particular, to an article by the general secretary’ of the Australian Communist party, Mr. L. L. Sharkey, in its’ official organ,- on the 12th June? Mr. Sharkey wrote -
What has to be struck down in Malaya- is not, as that imperialist dog Malcolm MacDonald declares, the Malayan Communist party, but brutal British imperialism.
Has the Prime Minister’s attention also been directed to the fact that’ Mr. Sharkey poses as an authority on the question because recently he spent a fortnight, in Singapore, where he conferred with’ the leaders of the Malayan Communist party?’ Will the Prime Minister issue instructions that no further passports be issued to members of the Australian Communist’ party to visit countries in SouthEast. Asia? “Will steps be. taken to prevent the- despatch of Communist propaganda from Australia to such countries?
– I have read in the press reports of difficulties which have arisen in Malaya, where political and industrial disturbances are occurring at the present time. I am not aware of all the facts surrounding, the particular disturbances, and I have not seen the article by Mr. Sharkey, to which the honorable member has referred. However, I shall have the issues raised in the question examined for the purpose of ascertaining whether they are factual, and I shall supply an answer to the honorable member later.
– Can- the AttorneyGeneral give the House any information regarding a report in to-day’s issue of Smith’s- Weekly, that the Victorian police are now sifting a- mass of information about’ the operation of Communist cells in the Postmaster-General’s Department, the State and Commonwealth railways, the maritime unions,. Trans-Australia Airlines and privately-owned airlines, Wonthaggi State coal’ mine, Commonwealth and State government offices and defence head-quarters?: In view of repeated ministerial- statements denying the existence- ofl Communist, cells in the Public Service, will the right honorable gentleman ask the Victorian State Government: to supply him with the information it has collected, with a view to checking the: activities of members of the Communist party ?
– I have not seen– the report to which the honorable member has referred. I shall ascertain the facts, so far as I can, through the security service, and later give the honorable member a full answer to his question.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a. press report that the International Red Cross at Geneva has protested strongly to the United” Nations because a cargo of jam and dehydrated vegetables valued at £250. was confiscated from the Norwegian vessel Turcoing when that vessel put into Port .Said for water? Is it. a fact that the- seized cargo constituted a relief consignment forwarded by the United Jewish Overseas Relief Fund of New South Wales, to the Jewish children’s and medical aid- organization in Genoa ? Is it1 also true that Turcoing was routed to make- Genoa its first port of call after leaving Australia? Must the vessels Troja and Torrens, which are carrying additional consignments of food and clothing destined for European relief, call at Port Said this month, and there be subjected to a search? If these allegations are true, will the right honorable gentleman immediately instruct the Australian representative in the Middle East to lodge a sharp note of protest with the Egyptian Government, and in addition, will lie support the appeal of the International Bed Cross to the United Nations to compel the Egyptians to discontinue this scandalous and inhuman discrimination?
– The Minister for External Affairs will answer the question.
– No such circumstances as- those mentioned by the honorable member are known to the Prime Minister or to myself. I shall look into the allegations immediately and ascertain whether they can be authenticated, and, if so, what action can be taken by the Australian Government.
– In the absence of the Minister for Immigration, I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs. Last week, in the course of a debate on one of the appropriation measures, I referred to a case which had been brought to my notice of an Australianborn woman who had married a: German subject.. She is a very talented musician and met her husband in 1987 while in Germany on a musical travelling scholarship from Australia. She is in Australia at the present, time, with her nine-year-old son. Her request that her husband be permitted to join her here has met with a refusal, based apparently on a policy that no German nationals will be permitted to enter this country until the peace treaty with Germany has been signed.
– Order ! Will the honorable member now ask his. question ?
– My question is divided into three parts. First, is it a fact that Mrs. Stoekiggt, which is her married name - her maiden name was Elizabeth Carter - has applied through the High Commmissioner for New Zealand for permission for her husband, her child and herself to enter that country? Secondly, is it a fact that the Dominion of New Zealand deals with cases of this kind on their merits, and has no rigid rule which debars a national of’ any country from entry? Thirdly, is it a fact that Mrs. Stoekiggt has- applied for a return passage to Germany, should her application for admission to New Zealand be unsuccessful ? In view pf all these circumstances, will the Minister arrange for this case to be reviewed so that this family may be re-united in Australia?
– The Minister for Immigration is unavoidably absent from the House, as the honorable member knows, but’ I shall refer the question to him, and supply an answer as soon as possible.
– Has the Minister for External Affairs seen a report in to-day’s newspapers of a statement made- by the Secretary of State for Migration in the Indonesian Provisional Federal Government suggesting that Northern. Australia, Borneo and New Guinea would be suitable areas for the reception of Indonesian migrants? If so, will the right honorable gentleman state the Government’s attitude to that suggestion, especially in view of a previous dangerous suggestion that Japan’s- surplus population should be allowed to settle, in New Guinea?
-I repeat what was said last week by the Prime- Minister and myself. The- principle involved is the same whether’ the migrants concerned come from Indonesia^ Japan or any other country. The accepted policy of this Government and, I think, of the Parliament, has always been that Australia, shall determine the constitution of its- own population in accordance with the principle that we describe as White Australia. The administration’ of that policy is a matter for the. Department, of Immigration. The policy- affects Indonesian and Japanese migration just as- it does the question that arose- last! week.-
– If the Government decides to abolish or reduce certain subsidies on food and clothing, does the Prime Minister intend to recommend that there shall be a simultaneous reduction of taxation, as it is from taxation that the subsidies are paid?
– The reduction of taxation and the abolition or reduction of subsidies are matters of Government policy. The honorable member cannot therefore expect an answer to his question’ at this’ stage.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether, having regard to the fact that,- he has announced that the payment of subsidies on many items which form important elements in household budgets will cease at an early date, it is proposed to grant forthwith tax remissions on at least a comparable scale, and, if so, will such remissions operate from at least not later than the date on which, the subsidies are discontinued ?
– A similar question was asked by the honorable member for Balaclava a little while ago. Payment of some subsidies will be continued on for the time being. If honorable members so desire I shall supply them with a copy of the letter which [ tabled at the beginning of this sitting relating to the cessation of subsidies. The letter has already been forwarded to the State Premiers. As I indicated to the honorable member for Balaclava, the financial position and government policy thereon will be reviewed when, and only when, the budget is presented to the Parliament.
– Will the Premiers be told what financial provision they may expect in relation to primary industries?
– A meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers is to be held on or about the 23rd August.. I assume that some questions relating to finance will be discussed at that meeting. At this stage I am unable to give the honorable member any indication of government policy on this subject.
– I am always glad to endeavour to provide for honorable members all information that may be readily obtained. ‘ The honorable member has asked a number of questions covering some matters which are of a highly technical nature, and I shall inquire whether the information can be furnished. I do not think, however, that I can promise answers to the questions at an early date as their preparation would- involve & great deal of work. If the burden of obtaining the information is not too great, it will be furnished.
Clarence River Project
– Can the Prime Minister tell me whether the Government has been approached by State governments for assistance to sufferers from the present record floods in rivers of northern New South Wales and southern Queensland? If not, will the Government offer all available military and air force resources in personnel, stores and blankets, for the relief of people who have been driven from their homes by the floods? In previous floods,.use of Army “ ducks “ proved most valuable. If the Prime Minister has been, approached, can he say what assistance has been made available, and at what centres ? Will the right honorable gentleman also request the Postmaster-General to keep open all up-river telephone exchanges for 24 hours a day for the next few days, in order that residents of lower river flats may have ample warning of rising floods? As four disastrous floods have occurred on the Clarence River in the last three years, and the present flood is rising much faster than any recent inundation, will he endeavour to have the report on the Clarence gorge dam survey, now being undertaken by the Governments of Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, which I understand is nearly completed, examined and acted upon as quickly as possible, as one of the main functions of the Clarence gorge dam is to be flood prevention and control?
– I have not been approached by the Premier of New South Wales for any special assistance. I believe there has been some liaison between certain Commonwealth departments and the State departments handling relief in northern New South Wales. Commonwealth departments are ready to assist -wherever possible. It has been the practice on all similar occasions for the Australian Government to provide assistance wherever it can do so. I speak of physical assistance only, I am not quite sure at the moment -what stage the Clarence gorge dam survey has reached, but I shall ascertain the present position and let the right honorable gentleman know what it is. I shall have an opportunity to discuss at a later stage the other matters raised by the right honorable gentleman.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Health say whether travellers intending to visit Asiatic ports receive anti-cholera and antityphoid injections before leaving Australia? Are the serums for these injections included in the pharmaceutical benefits scheme formulary; if not, why not?
– I understand that there are certain provisions in regard to injections of anti-toxins. A very important provision is that which covers smallpox. The injection against smallpox does not require to be repeated for three years. Persons intending to travel to Asiatic ports are compulsorily injected, Inoculation against cholera is compulsory, and a certificate must be obtained to the effect that the person concerned has been inoculated. It was the practice for many years to inoculate against typhoid.
– That, too, is compulsory.
– I understand that the practice has been changed, and that inoculation against typhoid is not now compulsory. I shall ask the Minister for Health to prepare a detailed answer to the honorable member’s question.
Reconstruction Training Scheme
– Has the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction seen a statement by Mr. Bolton, President of the New South Wales branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, that 4,000 ex-servicemen who were accepted by the Commonwealth under the reconstruction training scheme are facing a hopeless position because they cannot establish themselves in industry? Will the Minister investigate the allegation, and will he summon a conference of representatives of employers and trade unions, and appropriate Government officials to discuss the subject?
– I have seen th.statement mentioned by the honorable member, and it is, to a very considerable degree, exaggerated. The matter ha? . been already investigated, and I made a statement about it to the House noi long ago. I shall consider the suggestion which the honorable member made at the end of his question.
– Some time ago, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, as the result of a telephone conversation with me, which was followed by a letter from him to me, promised te make a statement explaining why large quantities of good drying grapes were being diverted to wineries and distilleries. Has the Minister yet completed his inquiries into the matter?
– What the honorable member has said is correct, and I regret that he has not yet received a statement on the subject. During the grape harvesting season, a lot of fruit suitable for drying was diverted to the wineries. However, it would be a serious matter to interfere with the right of the fruitgrowers to send their fruit where they like. ‘ In view of the need of the people of the United Kingdom for dried fruits I tried to persuade the grape-growers not to send to the wineries grapes suitable for drying, and I also attempted to influence the wine makers, but without much success. I know of no way to overcome the difficulty without resorting to coercive methods to which the growers would object. I shall let the honorable member have a further statement on the matter at a later date.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question regarding the activities of two of the investigators, of the Prices Branch who visited the
Wimmera electorate in connexion with the sale of mallee roots. A report on the subject was handed to me by one of the attendants in this House on Friday last, [t is typewritten on plain paper, and there is no indicaton of its origin. I ask the Prime Minister whether the report came from him? If it did not, can he say from which Minister it came ? If it did not come from any Minister, is it, as it appears to be, an unofficial report from the two investigators concerned? Does the report express the opinion of the Government regarding the tactics followed by the investigators?
– I confess that I do not remember the colour of the paper upon which the report was written. I regret if any discourtesy has been shown ro the honorable member.
– Has the Prime Minister seen the report.
– I saw a report on the subject, but I do not know whether Lt is the report to which the honorable member has referred. I shall look info the matter, and let the honorable member have an answer later.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
United Nations Conference on Trade and Employment - Havana, November, 1947 - March, 1.948 - Final Act and Related Documents.
These documents include a charter for an International Trade Organization, the text of which was authenticated by the signing, at Havana, of the final act of the conference. The United Nations conference was preceded by two sessions of a preparatory committee which met in London in October, 1946, and in Geneva from April’ to October, 1947. Australia participated actively in the work of the preparatory committee, and in the Havana conference. The charter, which has been substantially re-drafted, is similar in its general structure to the Geneva draft which has been laid before the
Parliament, and was debated earlier this year. No doubt, honorable members will wish to study the Havana charter, and an opportunity for a debate will be provided in the next session of the Parliament. I move -
That the paper he printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Harrison) adjourned.
– Last week, I asked the Attorney-General a question concerning Mr. Lars Brundahl who, during the war, was. interned as a dangerous alien, and who, since his release, has been behaving in a way which constitutes a nuisance to other citizens. I inquired regarding the circumstances in which this man was permitted to remain in Australia, and I asked whether he was to be allowed to remain here any longer. So far, I have not received a reply. Will the AttorneyGeneral inform me what stage the inquiry into the matter has reached?
– As I said last week, the department concerned with the removal of aliens is the Department of Immigration. I have taken the matter up with the Minister for Immigration, and I have no doubt that I shall obtain the information I have asked for when the Minister returns to Canberra.
– In view of the action of France in obviously and deliberately breaking the terms of the International Monetary Fund agreement some time ago by converting its currency to the gold standard, under which, according to the answer given to me by the Prime Minister previously, the price of gold in France is £31 per fine oz. in Australian currency. I ask the Prime Minister whether any measures were taken by the International Monetary Fund against France, or is the fund so constituted that signatory powers can at any time break the agreement under which the fund was established without incurring any sanctions whatsoever ?
– The principle of the devaluation of the franc was, I think, readily agreed to by the members of the
International Monetary Fund. Some difficulty arose through the decision of the French Government to operate what is known to economists and bankers as the “ double franc system “, under which half of the receipts into the French economy are sent to the Bank of France and half are left on the free market. It was considered that that was likely to cause a cross rate between sterling and dollars that could be dangerous to the stability of sterling and to other currencies. The question whether the International Monetary Fund should temporarily approve of the devaluation of the franc was discussed at great length. The fund had before it the devaluation of the Italian lira in similar circumstances. France was and is in a very difficult financial position in regard to foreign credits. I think the International Monetary Fund has agreed to watch the result of the decision to establish the double franc. One could talk about the matter for a long time, but as it is both complex and technical, I shall provide the honorable member with a written statement on the subject.
– I direct the attention of the Prime Minister to the following circular which has been distributed by the Deputy Director of the Commonwealth Loans Organization in Melbourne : -
In the belief that you will be interested in -details of facilities available for purchase of Commonwealth bonds and savings certificates, we have arranged for our representative, Mr. Capuano, to call on you within a few days. We hope that his services will be of value to you.
Be will present his authority to act for us.
Does the right honorable gentleman think that in these days when labour is in short supply and when circulars and postage are costly this kind of bond hawking is necessary ?
– I have given a great deal of personal attention to that matter. In the days of very big loan raisings, the Commonwealth loans organization was extensive. As I mentioned in the debate on the Appropriation Bill last week, the results it achieved warranted the organisation. The cost per £100 of loan money raised was very low. When the amount of money required to be raised by loansdiminished, the question arose as to how much of the organization could be dismantled. The Government decided that it was highly desirable to keep a nucleus staff in operation, because some big loan? will have to be raised and converted in the future. The organization was reduced to the minimum necessary to meet present-day needs. No one can say until the Loan Council has met from, time to time what loans will have to be raised on behalf of the States. I have not seen the circular referred to by the honorable member, but I think it is highly desirable to keep in the minds of the people the spirit of saving that was inculcated during the war in order that loan-raising difficultiesmay be avoided later.
– In view of the statements reported in the press at the weekend to have been made by President Truman, the Deputy Chief of the British Air Staff, Sir Hugh Walmsley, Field Marshal Lord Montgomery and the Committee for the Study of European Questions on the aggressive tactics of the Soviet, the marshalling of its forces, and the lack of Empire unity, will the Minister for External Affairs inform the House whether the Government has received any communications showing that the international situation is deteriorating and that there is an increased danger of the nations being plunged into a third world war?
– Nobody knows bet tei than the honorable member does how difficult it is to answer a general question like that in a few words. I have followed the reports referred to by him. I attach far more importance to the words of President Truman and the other persons named than I do to those of the Committee for the Study of European Questions, which has not the same authority as the gentleman mentioned. Compared with the situation two or three months ago, the situation to-day, I think, is better, and not worse. Nevertheless, it is still difficult, and no one could look upon it with equanimity or without understanding the point -made by the honorable member, that there is need for cooperation among the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
– I direct the attention of the Minister for External Territories to the following newspaper report from Port Moresby: -
About 150 public servants of the Papua and Sew Guinea Administration held a stop-work meeting yesterday to protest against grievances.
The meeting expressed dissatisfaction at the handling of service matters by the Department of External Territories, protested at the delay in the cost-of-living inquiry and requested an immediate independent inquiry with allowances retrospective to October, 1945.
Did the honorable gentleman see: the notice issued by the Council of Combined Public Service Organizations of Papua and New Guinea stating that the protest meeting would be held at 3.15 p.m. on Thursday, the 9th June? If such a meeting took place, what action has the honorable gentleman taken or what is the Government doing in the matter? Have the public servants of Papua and New Guinea yet received a reply to the telegram which they sent to the Prime Minister on the .1st June, a copy of which I have already read to the House? If the honorable gentleman desires another copy of the telegram I can furnish him with one.
– I have seen the newspaper report to which the honorable member has referred. I have received no information about those who were alleged to have taken part in the meeting. No advice has come to hand regarding any of the matters dealt with at the meeting or of any decisions reached, if in fact any such meeting was actually held. Communications have been received from the Combined Council of Public Service Organizations about a number of. matters. Some decisions have been made in regard to certain of the matters raised and the council has been so advised. Inquiries are proceeding into the remainder of them.
– Has there been brought to the notice of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture an article published in a recent issueof the Pastoral Review, dealing with meat rationing and meat killings in> Australia, which showed that on last year’s figures there was a tremendousdifference between the quantity of meat which should have been used under meatrationing and the actual slaughterings?” If the honorable gentleman has read> the article to which I refer, has he, ashead of the Department of Commerceand Agriculture, any comments to make on the accuracy or otherwise of the figures contained in it?
– I have not read thearticle to which the honorable memberhas referred. I shall be glad, however,, to have a look at it and will then decide whether it is desirable for me to comment on it.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That Standing Order 70 - 11 o’clock rulebe suspended for the remainder of this week
– As it is common knowledgethat the Parliament is to go into recess at the end of this week, the Opposition shouldbe informed whether the Government proposes to introduce new legislation after 11 o’clock at night. I have a distinct objection to the introduction of new legislation at or after such an unearthly hour,, because it is then impossible to give it the consideration it deserves. Surely thePrime Minister (Mr. Chifley) must know whether the Government proposes to introduce legislation of which notice has not yet been given. He should give us at least some inkling of what his Ministers havein mind.
– in reply - Last week, I wrote to the ActingLeader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison)and the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) as Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party and informedthem of the legislation which theGovernment desires shall be passed during: these sittings, notice of which had not then been given. One of the measuresto which I referred has already been. introduced and another, relating to supplementary estimates,will be introduced by the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) this afternoon. The bills in respect of which notice has been given to-day will be taken only to the first-reading stage before the coming recess.
– It is not necessary to suspend Standing Order 70 in order to do that.
– One cannot be sure about these matters. It may be necessary to introduce a minor measure, but the Government does not intend at the moment to proceed with any legislation, other than that which appears on the notice-paper, and the two additional measures of which notice of the Government’s intention has already been conveyed to the Opposition parties.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Johnson) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to provide for the representation of the Australian . Capital Territory in the Parlia- ment of the Commonwealth.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Bill presented by Mr. Dedman, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purposes of this bill are threefold. The first is to bring under the Commonwealth Public Service Act all civilians now employed in the Department of Defence, the Department of the Army and the Department of Air under the Defence Act and the Air Force Act; also salaried employees in the Department of Supply and Development under the Supply and Development Act and the National Security (Munitions)
Regulations, and civilian, clerical, and administrative office staffs in the Department of the Navy under the Naval Defence Act. About 900 permanent officers and 7,000 temporary employees will be transferred. The second purpose is to provide that all future civilian employment in the Department of Defence, the Department of the Army and the Department of Air, all civilian office clerical and administrative employment in the Department of the Navy and all salaried as distinct from wage employment in the Department of Supply and Development shall be under the Commonwealth Public Service Act. The third purpose is to give an opportunity to a small group of employees in the Department of the Navy to acquire permanent status in the Public Service. These officers were among those taken over from the Melbourn Harbour Trust when the Government purchased the Williamstown Dockyard from that body. But for the sale of the dockyard, these employees, about fifteen in number, would, in the normal course, have been retained permanently in the service of the Harbour Trust.
Honorable members will recall that in 1945 the Government appointed a committee of review of civil staffing of wartime activities. The chairman was Mr. J. T. Pinner, who is now a member of the Public Service Board. The other members were Mr. A. A. Fitzgerald, public accountant, and the permanent head of the particular department under review. The committee furnished a series of reports and recommendations on the staffing of departments. The recommendations included the proposals to which it is now intended to give legislative effect. This action will bring staffs under the authority of the Public Service Board, and make it responsible for conditions of employment and for future appointments to the extent which I have indicated.
The opportunity is also being taken to permit former employees of the Melbourne Harbour Trust, who had been employed by the trust on clerical or associated office duties in connexion with the Williamstown Dockyard, to become permanent officers of the Commonwealth Public Service if, but for the sale of the dockyard to the Commonwealth, they would have been retained in the service of the trust throughout their working lives. As I have said, only about fifteen persons are affected by this provision and the Government desires that they shall not suffer in security of tenure as the result of the purchase of the dockyard. Former employees of the Harbour Trust who are taken over by the Navy but who do not qualify in the way I have outlined for permanent appointment to the Public Service will continue to be employed temporarily so long as the need for their services exists. The bill amends the Public Service Act to give effect to these proposals. There arealso consequential amendments to those sections of the Defence Act and the Naval Defence Act dealing with the existing powers to employ civilians under authority other than the Public Service Act.
The pattern of the legislation is similar to that which effected the transfer of the staffs of the “War Service Homes Department and the Repatriation Department last year. The conditions of employment of the staffs to be transferred will not be adversely affected. Accrued rights for long service and other leave are preserved to them. The Government considers that it is desirable that, to the greatest degree practicable, one authority - the Public Service Board -should control appointments and coordinate conditions of employment of Government employees. I commend the hill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Harbison) adjourned.
Messages from the Governor-General reported transmitting Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure and Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New “Works, Buildings, &c, for the year ended the 30th June, 1947, and recommending appropriations accordingly.
Ordered to be printed and referred to Committee of Supply forthwith.
InCommittee of Supply:
Motions (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to -
That the following further sums be granted to His Majesty to defray the charges for the year 1946-47, for the several services hereunder specified, viz.: -
Supplementary Estimates for ADDITIONS. New Works, Buildings, Etc., 1946-47.
That there be granted to His Majesty to the service of the year 1946-47 for the purposes of Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c, a further sum not exceeding £617,678.
Standing orders suspended ; resolutions adopted.
InCommitteeof Waysand Means.:
Motions (by Mr. Dedman) proposed -
SUPPLEMENtary estimates 1946-47.
That, towards making good the further supply granted to His Majesty for the service of the year 1946-47, there be granted out of the ConsolidatedRevenueFund a sum not exceeding£7 , 054,1 39 .
SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATESfor additions, New Works, Buildings, . Etc., 1946-47.
That towards makinggood the further supply granted to His Majesty for Additions, New Works, Buildings,&c,for theyear l946-47,there be granted out of the ConsolidatedRevenueFund a sum not exceeding £617,678.
. - I should like the Minister for Post-warRecon- struction to explain whether theSupplementary Estimates for Additions, New Works, Buildings,&c, are directly related to the Supply (Works and Services.) Bill, whichthe Minister for Works and Housing(Mr. Lemmon) hasintroduced. I understand that the amountprovided in that legislation covers the lag in the building programme. Will the Minister inform me whether the Supplementary Estimates for Additions, New Works, Buildings,.&c., covera further amount relating to the same cause.?
Mr.Dedman. - The Supply(Works andServices.) Bill is anappropriation measure.The committee isnowconsidering the Supplementary Estimates,and the Supplementary Estimates f or Additions, New Works, Buildings,&c.
Questionsresolved in theaffirmative.
Resolutions reportedand adopted.
That Mr. Dedman andMr.Lemmon do pre- pare and bring inbills to carry out therefore goingresolutions.
Bill presented by Mr.Dedman, and read afirsttime.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
These SupplementaryEstimatesof expenditure total£7,054,139 and relate to the financial1946-47. The amounts setout wereexpended out of a general appropriation from revenueof £10,000,000, made availableto the Treasurerto meet expenditure which could not be foreseen when the Estimates were prepared. It is now necessaryto obtain specific parliamentaryappropriationto coverthe several items of excess expenditure. Full details of theexpenditure which is now submitted for approval were included intheEstimates and Budget Papers for 1947-48. These publications show the amount voted for 1947-48, togetherwith the actual expenditure for the previous year, which is includedf or informative purposes. Details arealso included inthe Treasurer’s financial statement for 1946-47, whichhas been tabledforthe information of honorable members. The Supplementary Estimates detailthe items under which the additional amounts were expended by the various departments. The chief items, in round figures, are -
Any furtherdetailsof the various items of expenditurewillbeavailable at a later stage.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Harrison ) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Lemmon, and reada first time.
Mr.LEMMON (Forrest- Minister for Works and Housing)[4.11]. -Imove -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The total appropriation passed by the Parliament for works and services under this heading amounted to £21,648,000. The actual expenditure was £13,126,000, or £8, 5 22,000 lessthan the appropriation. Because of requirements which could not be foreseenwhenthe Estimates wereprepared,certain itemsshow ran increase over the individual amounts appropriated, and it is now necessary to obtain parliamentary approval to these increases. The excess expenditure on the particular items concerned totals £617,678, which is spread over the various works items of the departments.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Holt) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 11th June (vide page 1940), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That thebill he now read a second time.
.- On the 29th May, the Australian people recorded what I believe will prove to have been one of the most historic votes in the history of the Commonwealth. It would be unwise to allow this session of the Parliament to conclude before the significance of that vote has been discussed. Since federation the people have voted on many referendums, but I am satisfied that honorable members opposite will not challenge the statement that the vote on the recent referendum was one of the most important that has been recorded. It has a special significance because, unlike the case of votes in relation to other requests for the transfer of power, it related to a policy that is now being actively pursued by the Government and is the keystone of the economic edifice that Ministers have constructed. In those circumstances, the vote itself and the circumstances in which the people delivered their verdict should be closely analysed by the Parliament. There is little doubt that if the Government’s proposals with regard to rents and prices control had been put to the people at the general election in 1946 a “ Yes “ vote would have been recorded. It will be recalled that three questions were put to the people by way of referendum at that time. The first dealt with social services, the second with industrial employment, and the third with the marketing of primary products. It is said that the Australian people are naturally conservative about altering the Constitution in order to grant additional power to the Commonwealth. In 1946, however, an absolute majority of the voters in each State voted in favour of the transference of power in relation to social services. As to the questions with regard to industrial employment and the marketing of primary products, although there were “ Yes “ majorities in three of the States, there were narrow “ No “ majorities in at least two of the other States. The overall vote for the Commonwealth showed that a majority of the people were in favour of the proposals. I believe, and I think that belief is shared by most honorable members of this House, that had the recent proposals with regard to rents and prices control been submitted to the people at that time they would have received the endorsement of the majority of the electors. We must, therefore, inquire why it is that in a comparatively short space of time the Australian people have radically changed their opinion on so important a matter. I do not think any one will question the accuracy of the public opinion polls conducted by the Gallup organization. A poll taken in December. 1947, revealed that if the people had then been asked to vote on the rents and prices referendum there would have been 53 “ Yes “ votes in every 100 votes recorded. A poll taken on the 29th May, however, showed that only 38 “ Yes “ votes in every 100 would have been recorded. There is no need to stress to experienced political campaigners that a swing in public opinion of that size in the space of a few months is amazing. The Government must, therefore, ask itself what that vote signifies. Various answers have been given to that question. We have been told by some people that it was a vote of no confidence in the Government. I do not subscribe to the view that one can read a party vote into the vote on a referendum. A referendum on marketing submitted to the people in 1937 by the Lyons Government was overwhelmingly rejected, but at a general election held shortly afterwards that Government was returned to power with an overwhelming majority.
– The change proposed then was supported by all parties.
– In 1944, a Labour government submitted a referendum containing a number of proposals. That referendum was defeated, but in 1946 that Government was returned to office with a substantial majority of the seats in this Parliament. It by no means follows that a vote recorded at a referendum is a true indication of the feeling of the people towards any political party. I do not think that honorable members opposite will take a great deal of comfort on that account from the vote recently recorded. A party vote might not have been departed from to anything like the degree that characterized the “ No “ vote at the referendum. Nevertheless, there can be little doubt that had the Government conducted a general election contemporaneously with that referendum, it would have been defeated. So to some degree at any rate the referendum vote showed that the people have lost confidence in the Government.. The vote reflected a decline in the prestige and authority of the Government. But that is not the phase that I want to analyse to-day. We have more pressing matters to deal with as a Parliament, and the day of reckoning for the Government will be that on which the next general election is held; the people will then express their opinion of it. What is more urgently needed is that the Parliament shall do immediately what it believes the people who recorded that vote wish it to do. When the result became known, some people said, “ This is a decision that controls now exercised by the Australian Government shall be handed over to the States “. The rather precipitate action taken immediately by the Prime Minister to make a speedy transfer of rents and prices controls to the States suggests that he adopted that view.
– That was the basis of all the arguments of the opponents of the referendum, including the honorable member.
– I deny that. Our arguments were then, and are now, that the States are competent to maintain a prices and rents control system to the degree that is considered essential. That does not necessarily mean that three years after the end of the war a rigid and comprehensive system of prices control is essential. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) himself, in his approach to the problem of subsidies within the last 48 hours, has shown that the position changes as time goes on, and that we must deal with the situation as. we find it at any given time. At the time of the referendum, we did not argue that the Commonwealth should hand over prices control to the States and that the States should thereupon exercise the same sort of prices control as the Commonwealth had administered. That was by no mean? our view. We did not .advocate, nor did the people vote for, merely a change of masters. To the people, the question was not whether they should b* pushed around by a Federal government or by a State government. When properly analysed, the vote will be found to be a revolt against the continuation of the control system. The people were convinced that it was about time the govern ments - I use the plural advisedly, referring to both the Australian and State governments - got off thi backs of the people and gave them a chance to fend for themselves. It is significant that nowhere was the Government’s referendum proposal more emphatically rejected than in the three States of New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania, which have Labour administrations. There -was an overwhelming “ No “ vote in New South Wales and Tasmania. In Queensland, which has been notorious in the past for its socialistic enterprises, the rejection of the control system and all that it implies can leave no one in any doubt as to what the people thought about the matter. So, properly considered, the judgment of the people was: “We know that there will be difficulties and a degree of dislocation Perhaps there will be violent fluctuations of prices for a time, but we consider that, by permitting community life to settle down to what we regard as normal peacetime practices, we shall have in the long run, and perhaps in the near future, a much better service from our community life, a much better supply of goods and services, and a more just price level than we have at the present time “. I do not think that the Government can escap*that conclusion, any more than it can escape the people’s verdict. In justice to the Government I admit that the action it has already taken to hand overcontrols to the States indicates that it recognizes that, at any rate, the people do not want Commonwealth controls. and is leaving to the State governments the decision as to whether the people shall have State controls.
My main purpose in speaking on this subject to-day is to express the belief that the people do not want merely a. change of masters. There has been a psychological revulsion in Australia, and it has been particularly marked since the beginning of this year, against continuation of the control system and all that it implies. That revulsion is not confined to Australia but is occurring also in Great Britain at the present time and is a natural consequence of post-war conditions. The people of Britain are “ fed-up to the. teeth “ with the continuation into their peace-time lives of the restrictions, queues and other stringencies which they accepted as a necessary part of w-ar-time conditions.. The feeling in Britain is reflected in Australia. Therefore, I hope that this Government’ and the State governments will carry that implication to its logical conclusion when they come to determine the: machinery which. is> to apply henceforth to these, matters,, and will recognize the decision, of the. people for what it was.
– Does tie honorable member- believe that all controls1 should- be removed1 at once?
– The. honorable member has. asked a- hypothetical question.. Of course, I do. not believe- that all controls, should ba removed, at once. Our. task, from, now on will, be to remove; controls: as rapidly as possible but in the. mostorderly manner. I’ stress, that prices, controls,, although a most ‘ important, element in the general’ economic policy established’ by the Menzies Government, and- continued By this Government, form only one aspect, however large it may be, of* the general problem’, as well as of the. policy which has Deen generally” maintained. If honorable members care, to examine the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 194’6 in the light’ of what has’, happened, they will find that the’ schedule to the- tret contains’ sixteenclosely printed’- pages of National Security Regulations. Each of those’ regulations: is;, in itself; the equivalent ofl’ an- act: of Parliament, some* of therm are tha equivalent, of: major;- pieces of legislation, and most of them have been continued in force up to the present time. We are discussing the removal of controls over prices and the cessation of certain subsidy payments, but the greater part of the war-time emergency legislation embodied in National Security Regulations is still operative, three years after the end of the war. Before the end of this year, the Government will have to determine how much of that wartime emergency legislation is to be continued further into the peace. I have here a volume called the Federal G-wide. with which, I suppose, most honorable members are familiar. It consists of 156 pages, and it informs- members of the Parliament, and others interested in the administration of government depart’ ments,, how those departments are constituted, and where to find them. Only since the beginning of the war has it beennecessary to prepare such a publication, and those of us who have used it believe that there ought to be a guide to the Federal Guide, so complex’ has> the volume become’. Although the Government has1 taken- some’ action to repeal- emergency’ legislation only- a fraction of the- tas’k- has’ yet’ been performed if wei are to res-fore normal social and economic conditions-.
Another important implication in the referendum vote was that the people of Australia have given a firm decision on the issue of socialism. It may be argued that that issue was not directly raised’ by a referendum* on the control’ of rents and prices by the Central Government. Ifr may not” have been directly raised1 in the. terms of the- referendum proposal”, but it was directly raised in the campaign itself. Power to control prices was’ regarded by the’ Government, as- also- by tfhose who opposed1 the Government during; (he’ campaign, as- a-n essential element df the- machinery required’ to bring’ a pro.gr.amme of socialism- into* effect. In- Australia’, we have- been torn and’ dividedand crippled: as a national force by a conflict over what’ should’ constitute’ our basic policy. No country can afford- such1 a conflict for long; lt must! resolve: finally whether it’, will- go* f or-ward in one- direction or. in< the- other. As an- illustration let us note what has been happening in’ the* United) States! of America, and, in- Soviet’
Russia. In Russia, the people have adopted, for better or for worse, according to one’s point of view, the system of communism. I think we can take it to be an established fact that an overwhelming public opinion in that country is reconciled to the continuance of communism. That is the national policy of Russia, and the Russians know where they are going. The United States of America, to take the other extreme, is the home of individualism. All political parties, trade union leaders, and practically all leaders of public opinion are committed to the system of private enterprise and to the political philosophy of individualism. The United States of America is not torn by conflict on the issne whether the country is to “become socialist or to remain one in which most of its enterprises are carried on by private persons. The people of the United States of America have made up their minds about the country’s basic policy, and they have a chance of getting somewhere because chey know where they want to go. In Australia, however, for the last ten years ro my knowledge, and probably for longer, there has been a fundamental conflict among those who seek the people’s support. One group, the Labour party, is committed to the socialist objective. The other group, which is ranged against the Labour party, is pledged, if not in written words, at least in action, to oppose socialism, and to preserve opportunity and the freedom of the individual. That does not mean that we who belong to that group’ see no virtue in State guidance and planning, or in ownership by the State of certain utilities and monopoly undertakings. We recognize that there can be virtue in such ownership, and governments other than Labour governments have acted in that belief. In the United States of America-, the home of individualism, there is a substantial amount of planning. Each State has its own planning board, and there is a national planning board to guide and direct national activities. The existence of such planning authorities has made possible the Tennessee Valley Power Project, and other great projects for irrigation, afforestation and the like. This planning and development have taken place in a country where the bulk of the people subscribe to the philosophy of individualism. There is nothing inconsistent in the views which we hold, and our belief that, in a complicated world, there must be a considerable amount of national planning. There is a great difference between socialism and national planning of the kind that I have described. Socialism, as honorable members who are pledged to a socialist platform should know, means the ownership and control by the State of the means of production, distribution and exchange. That is a very different thing from State planning, State guidance and State assistance. If a government grants a subsidy to a great industry, that is not socialism. If a government plans an irrigation project, that is not socialism. If a government establishes a hydro-electric scheme, that is not socialism. Such things have been done by governments which were resolute in their opposition to socialism, just as they have been attempted by governments committed to socialism. Honorable members who support the Government are pledged to socialism, believing, I think sincerely, that their programme can be put into effect without any great interference with the liberty of the subject. In the words of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard), they can go on and on with their socialist programme until eventually they form the country into a vast, co-operative commonwealth. In practice, . of course, that is impossible. Everywhere that socialism has been tried, in Germany, in Italy and in Russia, it has resolved itself in practice into national socialism, with an ever-growing bureaucracy, and at the top a dictatorial clique able to direct the entire life of the community. Socialism in practice means the creation of a police state, the restriction of opportunity and the freedom of the individual, and the wholesale suppression of human rights and liberties. In practice, the socialist state never reaches the stage envisaged by the idealists and Utopians, who believe that socialism can lead to the creation of a vast, co-operative commonwealth. It is time the Government realized that a great many people in this country, who supported the Labour party in the past, have awakened to the dangers of socialism. They’ have seen what has happened in other countries, and their recent experience in Australia has convinced them that socialism can ‘lead only to the creation of a centralized bureaucracy, which crushes opportunity and restricts the liberty of the individual. That is why they answered with a resounding “ No “ the Government’s request for a permanent transfer of power to control rents and prices. The Labour party, if it wishes to retain the support of the public, ‘must re-examine its policy in this matter. It would be for the good of Australia if all political parties were to agree that the people do not want socialism, because it would then be possible to agree upon a basic economic policy. In Great Britain, the socialist experiment is being carried on while the country is battling for economic survival, and trying desperately to hold its place as a major world power. Does any one question that Great Britain has been weakened and almost crippled by the tug-of-war between those who wish, to carry the policy of socialism to its logical conclusion, and those who see in such a policy the destruction of their hopes and desires? Great Britain has undoubtedly been weakened by the struggle, and so has Australia. This disease - because it is a disease of thinking - is not confined within our national boundaries. In Australia, it has led to the growth of an enormous bureaucracy. We do not like in this place to make criticisms which seem to be personally directed against those who serve us so well in the public departments. There are many thousands of officers in Commonwealth departments doing an honest, sincere, conscientious job, who must carry the label of bureaucrats. We do not direct our criticism against individuals, but against the system which developed during the war, and has resulted in a mushroom growth of Commonwealth departments. The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) has told us that, since 1939, the Commonwealth Public Service has increased from 67,000 to 160,000. The people have declared that they want an end to emergency legislation and war-time controls. They have revolted against the system. If it was comparatively easy for the Government to effect the demobilization of our armed forces, and tc« find places for them and for munitions workers in civil occupation, why has it been so difficult to transfer back into more productive employment, the tens of thousands of persons who came into the Public Service on a temporary basis during the war for war purposes? We are confronted with the astonishing parados that, although the war has been over for nearly three years, the Commonwealth Public Service continues to grow. The Government has given an assurance of three years further employment to employees of the Prices Branch although it is proposed to band the control of prices back to the States. I do not know what justification there can be for retaining the services of these redundant officers We all want to see fairness given and justice done to those who have come into the Public Service in a temporary capacity; but no man, in the ordinary way of life, would expect three years’ notice of the termination of a temporary job. But that is what members of the Prices Branch have been given. The Government has told the employees of the private banks that if we have a Government monopoly bank they will be absorbed. More thousands of redundant officers ! Is this policy to be applied to all the decontrolling that will take place in the winding up of the departments and organizations set up under the National Security Act? If not, it is time that the Government had a clear view of the policy that it proposes to apply. Expenditure on administration to-day is about £26,270,000, which is about six times the expenditure in 1938-39. I have not included expenditure on the defence administration or the administration of business undertakings such as the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. The figure, therefore, gives a true picture, because included in the expenditure on administration, is the cost of the departmentsthat came into being or were rapidly expanded for war purposes. I have said that the control system is not confined to our own boundaries. It is applied to such matters as exchange, migration and a variety of others that come within the Government’s purview, and it is applied in other countries as well. I recognize that. But let us look at what is happening to trade between the different countries because of restrictive policies. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has just returned from a conference at Geneva held under the auspices of the International Trade Organization, and we have seen massive documents dealing with tariff investigation, tariff modification and the attempts to find a tariff policy acceptable to all the countries represented in the International Trade Organization. Any one engaged in commerce will tell you that tariffs are a comparatively unimportant consideration to-day. It is not tariff barriers that are preventing the free movement of goods between the countries of the world. “What is preventing a rapid and growing movement of goods between the countries is the restrictions that each country has devised to keep out the goods of the other countries. I do not know the precise figure to-day, but a little while ago in Australia there were 470 groups of commodities that because of governmental edict could not be exported. We were developing useful trade with India immediately after the war. Then the Indian Government stepped in and imposed its lists of prohibitions against Australia. Great Britain, a fellow member of the British Commonwealth, maintains against Australian goods, even processed foodstuffs, a blanket prohibition, which has been modified only in a minor way in recent times. There is talk of trade negotiations with New Zealand, but, for years, New Zealand has maintained a prohibition against the import of Australian manufactured and other products. These are questions not of tariffs but of restrictive devices employed by one country to keep out the produce of another, and we are told by the governments of the countries involved that these devices are necessary in order that an exchange balance may be maintained. I have never thought much of that argument even when it applied to countries outside the British Commonwealth, but it should certainly find no place within the British Commonwealth. Surely, we have enough faith in our joint resources and energies to allow one another a little credit even for a long period of years, if that means that we shall benefit one another. Great Britain is prohibiting the import of many commodities produced in
Australia because it has an unfavorable balance of trade with this country. When I was first elected to this Parliament, about thirteen years ago, the story went the other way. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) will remember that Ministers of Trade and Customs in those days were taking measures all the time to restrict Australia’s unfavorable trade balance with Great Britain. Well, within a few years, we find the situation completely reversed, and it is quite within the bounds of possibility that if Australia went on increasing its credit balance with Great Britain, it would merely provide a useful insurance against the day when the prices of Australian products will fall considerably or even collapse on the world market. That day may come. We are told by Ministers that we have entered a five-year international wheat agreement because there is no assurance that the price of wheat will be maintained at a high level. If it is likely that the prices of our primary products will fall considerably, why should we not supply goods to Great Britain to the best of our capacity? What harm would be done if in a matter of years we created a substantial surplus there that may help us to provide a little more of our share of the cost of Empire defence? We were told by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) the extent to which we are lagging behind Great Britain in our contribution to the joint defence effort. It is a policy of defeatism and despair for the countries of the world, particularly those of the British Commonwealth group, to restrict trade, one against the other. The Government could do a great deal to remedy the situation. I am quite certain that our leader, the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies), when he reaches England, will make his voice heard on this issue, because it not only conveniently coincides with the spirit and traditions of Empire co-operation but also represents good, hard commonsense. We can trade so much more with other parts of the Empire, and they with us. that is a suicidal policy to continue restrictive devices that prevent our taking the fullest opportunity of markets that can he opened in the other Empire countries. Then we have the United States of America. There has been no lack in recent years of participation by Australia in international gatherings. I have mentioned the International Trade Organization. There are also the International Monetary Fund, the Bank .of International Settlement, the United Nations, and a host of bodies formed under the auspices of that organization. Australia is consistently represented in force on these bodies. “We are prepared to do all that we think can be done to develop the infant growth that has been brought into being, but it is much more important for us to know precisely where we are going in relation to not only Great Britain and the other Empire countries, but also the United States of America, which will always be a major factor in our economy and defence. Yet we are restricting the movement of our citizens to the United States of America. We say we cannot afford to let them have dollars. Because we cannot afford to let them have dollars, American shipping lines cannot afford to maintain the shipping that was bringing Americans and their dollars to Australia. Who can doubt that, on balance, movements of that kind would be favorable to Australia? If the restrictions could be lifted, there would be a continuous flow to Australia of commercial representatives and of tourists, and the Americans are great tourists. Surely it is as short-sighted a policy as one could imagine to sever, because Australia cannot find the dollars to carry it on, the useful shipping connexion that had been maintained in the past between this country and America. I should have thought that we, ourselves, could have opened up direct negotiations with the United States of America. We could have explained our problem and asked the United States which of the variety of our resources could be imported by it from us in order to maintain a reasonable volume of dollar exchange for Australia. But .again we run up against the defeatist, suicidal policy that is now being applied. If we cannot find an answer to the problem, we are told that we must restrict or prohibit something from happening that happened before, the positive policy of expand or encourage the production of that which the people of the
United States of America would desire is never applied. For every element of energy devoted to that constructive approach, ten elements of energy are devoted to the policy of prohibitions and restrictions.
The only other matter that I want to raise on the opportunity presented to us by this Supply debate is the situation that has developed in this country in regard to some aspects of our foreign policy and, in particular, diplomatic activities. I have mentioned that Australia has not been lacking in either energy -or numbers at international gatherings. At those assemblies our representatives can. talk in airy generalities and thump the table on some point of procedure. Australia is well to the fore in that way. We have a most energetic Minister for External Affairs who has given Australia prominence at those gatherings, but, after all, the true test of success in the conduct of foreign affairs is the amicability that one oan develop between one’s own country and those that are of consequence to it and the degree to which peace can be maintained out of one’s efforts. [Extension of time granted.’] By that test, the foreign policy and diplomacy of the Government have .been an abject and shameless failure. I bring to the notice of the House two aspects that I think establish my charge to the hilt. First, I refer to the conduct of our immigration policy over the last few years. We have seen fiery resentment and bitterness develop in countries that, while they may be the Far East to other countries, are the near north to Australia. The rigid, clumsy and fumbling handling of our White Australia policy has produced bitterness and hostility in those countries that may cost this country dear in terms of trade and may threaten our security. We have engendered unnecessary bitterness even though our policy of a White Australia has been known to and respected by those countries for many years. This is the result of the clumsy handling of episodes in Australia which have presented no great difficulty to the Ministers who have dealt with similar incidents in the past. I do not need to particularize them because honorable members are quite familiar with them. It is futile to take part in a most enthusiastic manner in these international gatherings abroad, if. at the same time, we conduct our affairs at home in so unsuccessful a way as to allow these animosities to be developed. The Minister for External Affairs has escaped blame because these matters have come within the administration of one of his colleagues. He may plead an alibi in this instance, but there is one other matter in respect of which he can plead no alibi. I. refer to the charge that the Government has permitted its foreign policy to be taken out of its hands and allowed it to be dictated by utterly irresponsible and uninformed industrial groups. At question time to-day reference was made to the .ban imposed by the Seamen’s Union on- the servicing of Greek ships. We were told that the union will not allow its members to man these ships because it is opposed to certain internal and purely domestic actions taken by the Government of Greece. Many things occur in other parts of the world to which we are personally opposed. Indeed, there are many aspects of policy in other countries, as well as in our own, which we would resist if we could do so. But no self-respecting government has ever allowed the determination of its relations with other countries to be taken out of its hands by irresponsible elements. The maintenance of amicable foreign relations is one of the prime responsibilities of every government, yet we have had abject surrender on the part of the present Government in recent years, first to the waterside workers when, despite the disapproval of the Government, they refused to service Dutch ships destined for the Netherlands East Indies-
– Mercy ships.
– Tes, mercy ships, carrying much-needed food, clothing and medical supplies. At no stage, as far as I am aware, has the Government ever had the courage to say, “ This is the responsibility of the government of the day. The Government alone must determine what Australia’s relations are to be with the other nations of the world “. On the contrary, by its abject surrender to irresponsible pressure groups, it has allowed
.- I wish to refer again to * complaint which I brought before honorable members on the 22nd April last, relating to the tactics employed by two officials of the Prices Branch who visited the Wimmera electorate to investigate the sale of mallee roots. I then gave to honorable members a resume of what had occurred. In concluding my remarks on the subject I said -
I want the Government to make some definite pronouncement about this matter. Does it approve of such tactics? Did the responsible Minister instruct the Prices Commissioner to order his investigators to act in the manner I have described, or were those two officers acting on their own initiative? If they acted without specific directions, they must be condemned; if not, they must be absolved from blame. The Government should state its views on this matter immediately. The people of Australia will not tolerate this sort of thing, whether the Prices Commission favours it or not. lt is not in accordance with the traditions of Australian conduct and manliness.
Shortly after that I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) whether the Government approved of the actions that I had mentioned and, if not, would steps be taken to stop such practices. The right honorable gentleman then said that the statements made by me had been made the subject of investigation. He undertook to ascertain how far the investigations had proceeded and to inform me as soon as possible. I heard nothing further about the matter until Friday of last week when an attendant in this chamber placed in my hands a typewritten document upon which there was nothing to indicate from whom it had come. It bore no government stamp upon it and, for all I know, it might have been handed to the attendant by some person outside this chamber. I was at a loss to know from whom it had come.
– When an honorable member asks a question without notice he is not entitled to a written answer. If he desires a written .answer, he should place his question on the notice-paper. The honorable member did not do that.
– This typewritten document was merely handed to me by the attendant.
– The honorable member was lucky to get a written answer.
– To-day I asked the Prime Minister if the document had come from him, or if he knew by whom it had been sent, as it bore no trace of its origin. I also asked what was the Government’s attitude towards the tactics adopted by these investigators of the Prices Branch. The right honorable gentleman admitted that he knew nothing about the paper. Apparently he is as much ashamed of what has happened as I am. I make no charge against the Government; all I ask is that an investigation be made so that decent people who live in my electorate may be protected.
– The honorable member desires to protect law-breakers.
– There is no need for the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) to become excited about it. I ask only for justice. If an honorable member cannot attempt to secure justice for his constituents, he should not be here. It is the privilege of every honorable member to protect his constituents against wrongful acts, and as long as I remain a member of this Parliament 1 shall continue to do irrespective of whether the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction or anybody else objects. If, in order to do so, it becomes necessary to launch an attack upon the Government, I shall be the first to launch such an attack. The Prime Minister has since informed me that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard), who represents the Minister for Trade and Customs in this chamber, had intended to have the document incorporated in Hansard, but that that had not been done. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture was ignorant of the matter covered by the document, and, consequently, was unable to state the policy of the Government in relation to it. What I object to about this document is that it was obviously compiled in the Prices Branch in Melbourne. It is probable that it was then sent to the Minister for Trade and Customs, who, in turn, handed it to the Minister representing him in this chamber, who forwarded it to me. The statement indicates that I had made gross misrepresentations.
– I am not surprised at that.
– Doubtless the Minister would be pleased if I had done so, but I assure him that my statements were correct in every detail. The document contains nothing more than the further observations of the very men whore I had accused of using unfair tactics. This sort of thing has occurred on numerous other occasions. Only recently the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) said that a certain man occupying a position in the Prices Branch in Canberra was a Communist. Shortly afterwards the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction came into the House and read a letter from the man concerned who stated, “ I am not a Communist; I have never been a Communist “. If I remember aright, the honorable member for Reid then said, “ One thing that the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction has overlooked is that [ have in my possession a letter bearing this man’s signature over the title, ‘ Secretary of the Communist party, Canberra Branch ‘ “. It is obvious that the Government was so ashamed of the investigations into the sale of mallee roots in my electorate that it was not - courageous enough to furnish me with a copy of the reply furnished by the Prices Commissioner typed on paper bearing the Commonwealth coat of arms. I have in my possession the sworn evidence of farmers in my electorate that what is indicated in this document is far from the truth.
– Were not the men concerned tried in the court?
– I shall tell the Minister shortly what the magistrate said. If the honorable gentleman will but have a little patience, all will be revealed. Apparently the Minister wants to justify the prices officials irrespective of what they may have done. Why he adopts that attitude, I do not know. Does he not stand for fair play? All I ask is that the people of my electorate be given justice and fair play. I do not say that punitive action should be taken against the investigators. If they are innocent, as I have said, they should be absolved from blame.
– Hear, hear !
– The document indicates that I had made a series of allegations against ‘two prices investigators named Timms and Lipshut, whose investigations had resulted in the prosecution of certain suppliers of mallee roots in the Wimmera electorate for selling, or offering for sale, mallee roots at prices in excess of legal prices. The document then reads -
A fair summary of the honorable member’s allegations is as follows: -
That, acting under instructions from the Prices Commissioner, who, in turn, had been instructed by the Government, these investigators had incited farmers to commit breaches of the law wherever they had gone, and they had not hesitated to engage in gross misrepresentations in order to gain their ends.
I asked the Government whether these investigators had been acting under instructions from Canberra and whether the head office at Canberra had acted under instructions from the Government. I said that if the men were acting on their own initiative, they should be condemned ; but that if they were acting under instructions, they should be absolved and that the Government should be condemned. The document continues -
A later paragraph in the document reads -
It is obvious that two men going into the district and calling themselves prices officers would have no hope of ascertaining the true facts. For this reason and with the approval of the Prices Commissioner, Mr. Timms was registered with the State Forestry Department as a fuel merchant and established a depot at Coburg.
In representing himself as a wood merchant, Mr. Timms had the approval of the Prices Commissioner.
– Is anything wrong with that?
– There is everything wrong with it.
– It is a fake.
– If the Minister were to represent himself in Geelong as a police constable, he would soon b£ arrested. A person is not permitted to represent himself as something which he is not. Recently, in Melbourne, a man appeared in court for having represented himself as a major in the Army, and for claiming that he had been awarded the ^Military Cross.
– Those matters may be dealt with by the law.
– The difference between the man who represented himself as a major in the Army, and an officer of the Prices Branch who represented himself as a wood merchant, is only technical. Basically, the principle is the same. Going into the country districts, Mr. Timms represented himself as the owner of a woodyard in Coburg. I shall read co the House some of the sworn evidence of Mr. Timms, which was published in Ouyen and North-West Express. The report states -
Timms then introduced Lipshut, saying that he had come on the trip with him because lie had never seen that part of the Country before.
What nice fellows these prices investigators are! Mr. Timms, with the permission of the Prices Commissioner, was registered as a wood merchant at Coburg, and he introduced another prices investigator, who was accompanying him, as “ a man who was making the trip with him because he had not seen that part of the country “. Does the Minister say that there is nothing wrong with that? I fail to see how any one can approve of such tactics.
– When will the honorable member come to the real lawbreakers ?
– In this instance, the prices investigator was a law-breaker.
– He was not.
– At present, I am dealing only with my first submission, that these prices investigators engaged in gross misrepresentations themselves in order to incite people to commit breaches of the prices regulations.
– How did the prices investigators do that?
– In making my original complaint about these tactics, 1 alleged, according to the typewritten document, that -
The investigators fostered a spirit of good fellowship by drinking at hotels and accepting hospitality until their victims trusted them.
I now desire to refer to the sworn evidence of Mr. C. White. When I read a statement which is not sworn evidence, I shall inform the House. The report of Mr. White’s evidence is as follows : -
He had met Timms in the hotel, and he was talking about starting up business as a wood merchant. “ He kept at mc “, defendant said, “and I told him, I thought I might bc able to supply him, but could not promise “.
Recognizing that there are two sides to every question, I shall read what are allegedly the views of Mr. Timms. Apparently, the Government has not taken into consideration the evidence of any of the accused. Referring to my allegation that the “ investigations had fostered a spirit of good fellowship by drinking at hotels and accepting hospitality until their victims trusted them “, the typewritten document states -
This is a gross misstatement and is entirely in conflict with the facts. In answer to the specific allegation that the investigators induced a Mr. White to break the law after drinking with him for three-quarters of an hour, the investigators have declared that after White had overheard them asking the publican where they could obtain a meal, lie offered hi? advice. In return for his courtesy they bough* him one glass of beer and shortly after left the hotel.
That statement is in grave conflict with the sworn evidence of Mr. White, who said in reply to a question by the magistrate, that he had spent three quarters of an hour with the men whom he later knew to be prices investigators. But Mr. Timms said they had bought one glass of beer for Mr. White and shortly after had left the hotel.
– What did the magistrate say?
– The Minister will hear the magistrate’s comments, and he will not like them. The report of the investigators, according to the typewritten document, continues -
They had no more drinks in the company of White. The buying of the drink was in no way connected with the investigation and the investigators did not know at the time that White supplied mallee roots. After they had crossed the road White called out to them, apparently having learned from other people in the bar that the investigators were interested in mallee roots, and offered to obtain some for them. Mr. White was the first to broach the subject of mallee roots.
Mr. White is prepared to swear in a court of law, or to make a statutory declaration, that he did not approach the investigators regarding the sale of mallee roots. I can produce evidence from the district to prove that these statements of Mr. Timms and Mr. Lipshut are absolutely untrue. I was accused of having said that the prices investigators drank in hotels and accepted hospitality until their victims trusted them. To substantiate that statement, I shall read the report of sworn evidence of Mr. Clive Pearce. This is what Mr. Pearce said -
Defendant said that he had invited Timms and Lipshut in for afternoon tea. The transaction was not discussed while they were inside. “I honestly believed I was receiving only 30s. per ton, less freight, the remainder being for cartage,” defendant added. When asked why he had not worked out the amount before Timms and Lipshut left, defendant said, “ I trusted Mr. Timms “.
Obviously, the prices investigators created a feeling of trust by drinking in hotels with their victims, and accepting their hospitality at afternoon tea. However, honorable members must hear both sides of the case in order to reach an impartial decision on this matter. Here is another passage from the typed document -
The second allegation was that the investigators accepted the hospitality of a Mr. Pearce after a deal was made for the supply of mallee roots. The circumstances were that after accepting a payment in advance at a price 8s. per ton in excess of the legal price, Mr. Pearce invited the investigators into his house while he made out a receipt. Mrs. Pearce was making tea while her husband wrote out the receipt and prior to the officers leaving, Pearce said, “You’d better have the cup of tea the wife poured out “.
The document continues -
The transaction had been completed before the cup of tea episode, and refusal to accept a cup of tea already prepared would have been looked upon as discourteous.
If the position were not so tragic it would be amusing. The prices investigators claimed that they did not wish to be discourteous to people against whom they were collecting evidence on which to take legal proceedings. The whole episode is ridiculous and wrong in every respect. The document continues -
Following the allegations of the honorable member for Wimmera statutory declarations were obtained from the two officers concerned
I could obtain statutory declarations from other people. What is the use of approaching the people whom we are accusing? Evidence should be obtained from all the parties. The document proceeds - and they disclose that the procedure adopted by them was -
In nearly every instance there was no affirmative answer. Almost invariably the reply of the farmers was -
We cannot supply you just now,
I can quote half a dozen instances to prove that to be so, but, as Mr. White said, the prices investigators “ kept at him “. If they received a negative answer, they were not supposed to incite a person to break the law. Their instructions forbade them to do so. According to this document, the next steps in the procedure were -
Finally, the author of the document made the following grave misstatement: -
In no case was a price suggested to the prospective vendor nor was any inducement offered apart from a normal offer of payment in advance.
I could quote a number of cases to show what has happened. I shall now refer to the statement of Mr. Clancy. This is not sworn evidence.
– Does the honorable member draw a distinction between sworn evidence, and evidence not given on oath.
– In accordance with my earlier undertaking to the House, I mention that Mr. Clancy’s statement is not sworn evidence. It read -
Timms was introduced to him by Mr. C. Page. Timms said he wanted mallee roots urgently for a new area where there were nearly all returned soldiers’ homes, and he said to Clancy, “I have already bought a truck from Colin Grace for 28s. a ton. How would that suit you?
Although the statement of Mr. Clancy is not sworn evidence, he is prepared to repeat it on oath in a court of law, or to make a statutory declaration at any time tha Government wants it. I come now to the statement of Mr. Ellery. The report of it reads -
Ellery was having tea on Sunday night at the home of His mother-in-law at Tempy when Timms called, and asked if Ellery would sell him some mallee roots.
I ask honorable members to note that the investigator called at a private home on a Sunday evening. That is a nice sort of a game to play! The statement continues^ -
He stated that he had been in Patchewollock district, but, they could not supply any for three month’s, and he said I believe you are securing about 35s. a ton. but .f. cannot pay you that, but would give you 32s. Od.
Ellery stated he had not any stumps, but it was agreed that he may send some later, but he did not forward any stumps at all. He received a summons approximately ten months later, and was fined at the Ouyen court.
Ellery definitely states that he did not mention price at any time during the interview and that Timms’ evidence in many respects was incorrect.
A number of the men did not send any mallee roots. They ascertained that the price suggested was in excess of the fixed price. Nine months elapsed between the time that men at Ouyen were interviewed by the investigators and the issue of the summons. In the case pf men at Patchewollock, the interval was almost twelve months.
– What did the magistrate say?
– I shall read the magistrate’s comments. The newspaper report of- the case states -
When the hearing was finished, Mr. Taylor (for the accused) said that nine months had elapsed between the dates of the offence and tha issue of the summons, “Defendants’ cases are definitely prejudiced by the delay “, lie said. “ The Crown, too, is in trouble. Earlier action should be taken.”
Mr. Moloney, P.M., said that, he agreed with Mr. Taylor that there had been undue delay. However, the cases were there for him to hear, and he had done so.
Continuing, Mr. Taylor said that the men convicted and fined that day were not “ blankmarketeers “. They had not set out to fleece the public, and were not criminals - rather, they were men of good character. “ The case of Pearce is one in which men have gone out to catch people,” he added. “ The methods used in obtaining prosecutions are, at least, questionable.”
– Those are the remarks of the solicitor who appeared for the accused .
– I have made that perfectly clear. I am not endeavouring to conceal anything.
– The men were convicted.
– Yes, they were convicted and it was from nine to twelve months from the time the prices investigators interviewed them, and the issue of the summonses. In fact, the accused, Mr. White, who had spent three-quarters of an hour in a hotel with the investigators, could not remember precisely who they were. He told me last Monday that when he was in the court he saw Timms and thought he had seen him somewhere before but could not recall exactly where. A lapse of time of from nine to twelve monthsdid not give these men an opportunity to marshal the evidence that might otherwise have been at their disposal.
– Does the honorable member not think that the magistrate took that fact into consideration?
– The Minister’s intention is to attempt to justify any action that is taken by Prices Branch investigators. Subsequent to the hearing of these cases more evidence came into my possession. I now propose to read a letter that was addressed to me by a Mr. Taylor of Chillingollah. He wrote -
Dear Sir, lie your question in the House on 22nd April last re Prices Commission Investigators Timms and Lipshut. Being one of the victims of, as you have termed them, confidence men, I am writing you my experience with them. On the 22nd May, 1947, I was in the Chillingollah Hotel, enjoying, my’ few drinks, when Timms and Lipshut entered the bar. The conversation turned to mallee roots and Timms persisted that I should sell him a’ truck. In the first instance I refused, but after Timms had persisted and annoyed me I said I would sell him a truck so as to keep the . . .
Then there is an unparliamentary word - . . nuisance quiet. Timms asked my price. I asked what he would give me. He said 28s. and offered to pay me in advance for the truck. Naturally, having no interest in the mallee roots, and being a share farmer with little chance of obtaining any, I refused his cheque. He obtained my name and address and I considered the matter closed. The result on April 13th last proved different. I appeared on summonses before the Manangatang Court of Petty Sessions, Timms and
Lipshut stating in evidence that they had interviewed me in tile railway yards. I could not recall who was with me in the hotel, so was unlucky enough to have no witness. Result, £10 fine, £7 17s. Od. costs, just for giving my name to a trickster. As 1 have not sold mallee roots since 1938, just prior to my enlistment in the Australian Imperial Forces, [ consider the penalty extremely heavy. As an ex-serviceman I have little faith in a government, country or constitution that permits such Gestapo tactics.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) L. M. Taylor. VX30011 2/5 Btn. A.I.F.
These investigators are no respecters of persons. There has been forwarded to me, in the manner I have described, this document which purports to give an explanation of the tactics that were adopted.
In the Melbourne Herald of the 14th June, 194S, the following article appeared : -
A black market in mallee roots is operating in Melbourne, according to the secretary of the Fuel Merchants’ Association (Mr. W. Pennell). At least two housewives in Toorak and Glenhuntly had been overcharged by unregistered sellers within the past week, Mr. Fennell said to-day. One was charged £7 10s. for 30 cwt. of mallee roots, although the pegged price was £3 (£2 per ton). Another was left with eight cwt. of mallee roots after paying the legal price for three tons.
Mr. Pennell was commenting on a Canberra statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) upholding methods used by Prices Branch investigators to trace black-market producers in the Mallee. He said his association challenged Mr. Turnbull (Country party, Victoria) who complained about investigators’ methods, to suggest an alternative means of tracing producers who were selling at black-market prices.
My answer to that is that it was not men from the Mallee who sold roots at black-market prices to these ladies in Melbourne. There is a blackmarket in mallee roots in Melbourne and my reply to the challenge issued to me by Mr. Pennell, the secretary of the Fuel Merchants Association, is that his association should busy itself in the city of Melbourne, where black marketing is rife, and should not blame farmers in the Mallee for the incidents to which he has referred.
I object to the fact that these Prices Branch investigators went to this district and that one of them, Timms, with the consent of the Prices Commissioner, represented himself to be a wood merchant. I further object to the fact that he introduced Lipshut as a man who was making a trip and looking at that part of the country. Those two actions constituted gross misrepresentation, and no decent Australian will condone them. I ask the Government to state how it regards the tactics adopted by these men. For two months I have been requesting that some statement should be made, but the Minister has been significantly quiet. It seems that he is as much ashamed of these actions as I am. I will not tolerate this sort of thing in my electorate if I can prevent it. For a long time I have been asking the Prime Minister and other members of the Cabinet to say what they are doing to protect primary producers and others from the actions of Prices Branch officials, but I have not yet received a reply. I have been met with silence, and it is sometimes said that silence indicates consent. If an answer is not given soon I shall be forced reluctantly to the conclusion that the Government agrees with these Gestapo-like methods. The numerous interjections made by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) while I have been speaking, but which in the main, I have disregarded, indicate that he is in favour of these tactics. If he is not, he will shortly have an opportunity to say so and to make some pronouncement on behalf of the Government.
– The magistrate said reluctantly that the cases were before him and that he had to deal with them. If necessary, I can produce sworn statements from many well-known primaryproducers of good character to prove that evidence given by Timms and Lipshut was incorrect in many respects, and that what I have said is correct. Does the Government stand for justice and fair dealing, or does it agree with the use of underhand methods such as those to which I have referred? I ask again whether these investigators were acting on their own initiative. If they were, they must be condemned. If they were acting solely upon instructions from the Prices Commissioner, then they must be absolved to some extent, although not entirely. I urge the Government to state whether it favours the use of these tactics and what it is doing to protect good, clean Australians from them in the future.
.- 1 propose to refer to the speech made by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) mainly because of the levity that was displayed by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) and certain other honorable members opposite, who appear to regard this as a humorous matter. Apparently the Minister believes that everything is fair in love, war and government regulations. I contend that if one of these Prices Branch investigators posed as a wood merchant and entered into a black-market deal with another person, he would be just as culpable as the person with whom he dealt. If, however, he acted honestly, “revealed that he was an official of the Prices Branch, and then uncovered something that was illegal, the man who proposed to supply the goods would be the only one who had acted illegally. The document handed to the honorable member for Wimmera discloses that, as a result of an arrangement with the State Forestry Department, Mr. Timms was granted a bogus licence as a wood merchant and established a depot in Coburg. If, as a wood merchant and not as a Prices Branch investigator, he contracted to buy mallee roots at a price in excess of that permitted by the Prices Commissioner, he was guilty of black marketing and should be dealt with in the same way as the other men. It has been pointed out that in many cases the investigators endeavoured to induce people to accept money in advance. In most cases the money was refused and they were requested to wait until they had the weighbridge tickets before making any payment. After ascertaining that the price at which they had contracted to sell was in excess of that fixed by the Prices Branch, the suppliers refused to make deliveries, but that did not save them. After the lapse of ten months, when material witnesses had disappeared, and when their memories were faulty and they could not remember the circumstances in which the deal was made, they were brought before a court and charged, not with selling mallee roots at a price higher than that which was authorized, but with having offered to do so. They were then fined heavily. Is it contended that that sort of “ pimping “ will be tolerated by the Australian people? I am ashamed of the Minister’s action in laughing and making jokes about a matter such as this. It is true that a magistrate dealt with these cases, but he could not exercise his discretion because he was bound by the regulations. Honorable members opposite laugh and treat this matter as though it is something that we may expect to occur frequently in the future. I am ashamed of it, and the Government should also be ashamed of it. “ Pimping ‘: tactics such as these tend to bring the Public Service into disrepute. Every honorable and conscientious public servant squirms at the mere thought of thi? conduct by a member of the Service; nevertheless it is connived at and encouraged by government departments, which ask how they can secure evidence of illegal activities if the investigators reveal their true identities. Prices Branch officials used to go up side-streets in Melbourne to dodge the black marketeers. They could find them there, but they leave them alone. Instead, they trap innocent persons in the country who are doing an honest job and do not know what graft and unsavoury tactics are. It is apparent that honorable members opposite have learnt nothing whatever from the sharp and emphatic reaction of the people to the Government’s request for more power. That reaction was a repetition of the public’s answer to the Government’s announcement of its intention to institute a banking monopoly in Australia.
We have listened to the story that is trotted out and recited with monotonous regularity in any general debate in this House. We have been told harrowing stories of the depression. The sins of past administrations have been stressed and the transcendent glory of the present administration has been extolled. Honorable members opposite seek by these means to convey the impression in the public mind that the Australian people should go down on their knees to offer up prayers of thanksgiving for the great boon that has been bestowed upon them by Providence in the shape of the wonder of the twentieth century - the Australian Labour party. The cheer leaders opposite cry, “ Hear, hear ! “ According to them, the Government has performed the financial miracle of balancing the budget in the greatest financial boom in history. That is a task that presents no problem at all if, by accident or design, receipts are underestimated and expenditure over-estimated. Anybody can accomplish- the feat of balancing a budget before reading the financial reports. That is exactly what happened in this instance.
The latest star in- this sphere of rnakes believe is the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie). I shall make a passing, reference to his speech. He must bethe envy of his older and more ex.perienced colleagues. He began by almost weeping in despair over the lost souls of those members of the Opposition who had dared- to criticize the Government. He deplored the indulgence by Opposition members in what he described as either, straight-out misrepresentation or half-truths, and for the next, half-hour showed honorable members exactly how half-truths and false inferences should be used. No greater falsity could be practised in this or any other House than the drawing of a distinction, between governments of the thirties and those of. to-day, in such amanner as to place the former in an unfavorable light and to give to the present Government the whole of the credit’ for the existing prices. The honorable member has to d’o that’. I .shall’ show where his conscience has conflicted with his desire to please the administration which he supports. Because of his early training the honorable member is forced to recognize that world prices’ may Have had some effect on the prices received for Australia’s primary products. He did not pursue that aspect of the matter, and instead- gave the Government the whole of the credit. He showed1 a disposition to1 assist the Government” in practising deception on the Australian. public, which had so emphatically demonstrated at the referendum the degree to’ which- it understood the position, by rejecting the proposal submitted- to it, as if had previously rejected every request for greater powers.
– That is not true. Did not the people grant to the Commonwealth the power to legislate with respect to social services?
– The referendum on social services was carried because of the number of informal votes that was cast. The Minister knows perfectly well what I mean when I say that.
The honorable member for Wilmot also said that the dairying industry was in the doldrums in 1939. Any person’ with the slightest knowledge of the’ ih’dustry knows that in that year dairy production in Australia reached ah alltime record. If that record can honestly be classed- as “the doldrums”, the sootier we return to that brand of doldrums the better is will Be for Australia and a’ hungry world.
The honorable member further said that’ in 1939 wheat was realizing 2s. 3d. a bushel; His intention- wa’s to convey the impression that the present high price’ was due to the efforts of the administration which- he supports. Even a modicum of political honesty would have impelled him to acknowledge that the 2s.. 3d. a bushel received by the wheat-growers in -1939 was above world parky price’ at that time, whereas the price offered, today is well below world parity, TI at is- a vastly different situation-. The; truth is’, and all can1 see it if they choose, that the Government,actuated probably by the highest motives as well- a.<r- fear of- inflation, has endeavoured1 to keep* prices d’owhrather -than up”. The honorable member said* that the Government had increased’ the price of butter to 2s. per IB. Why did he not- state the position correctly by saying that the Government” hadallowed the producers’ of butter to’ receive a little more of the’ extra’ price which their product would’ have realizedon an open market. The Government, did not increase the price, but kept it’ below the’ cost of production. I repeat that? the claim that the Government increased’ the price is dishonest. Honorable members opposite should consider what I haveput before them, before attacking- us; again. The .average elector is well- aware of these things, and has indicated: tha-tJ by refusing to grant enlarged’ powei-3- to this centralized Government, which Kas’* beer, correctly described not as a Commonwealth Government but as one unit in a federal system. That is something which the Labour party wants the people to forget. I hope that they never will forget it. They have clearly demonstrated on many occasions that public opinion is opposed to the granting of increased powers to this centralized administration. Labour members have learned nothing from that, but still tell the same old fairy story. Despite protestations to the contrary by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and others, the Government regarded Commonwealth control of rents and prices as a major step in the plan for general and complete socialization, whether or not the people cared for it. But’ the people are not so “ dumb “ as the Government apparently believes them to be. They remembered a speech by Senator Armstrong, who, when asked, “ What will you do if the bank case goes against you ?” allegedly replied, “ There is enough ingenuity in the Labour party to overcome such a difficulty- “
– That was an untruth. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro flatly denied it.
– Any denial in such circumstances I accept as complete confirmation of the truth of the allegation. If anything appears in the press which honorable members opposite do not like, they assert that it is a lie, yet when it suits their purpose they bring shoals of newspapers into this chamber and. base their speeches on what has been published in the press. It is well that issues should be considered in proper perspective. The issues in the rents and prices referendum were clearcut, and had nothing whatever to do with maintenance of prices control. All that the people were asked to determine was, whether permanent power should be granted to the Commonwealth which already had temporary power to control rents and prices for as long as an emergency existed. Every speaker whom I heard, whether for or against the Government, mentioned that temporary power. The States had every right to believe that, should the referendum be rejected, they would not be required to assume responsibility for the exercise of the power to control rents and prices until the 31st December next.
– The honorable member and his friends misled the people.
– What a lot of nincompoops government supporters are if they believe that. What about the Wannon electorate? None of us went into that. The further the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod) went in his electorate, the greater became the probability of a large “ No “ majority. The people were asked to decide whether the Commonwealth’s power to control rents and prices should be temporary or permanent, and honorable members opposite cannot deny that they decided against permanency. The decision would not have been different had there been no speeches for or against the referendum. That is one of the things which makes representation of the Australian people in this Parliament worth while. They do not crawl when threatened, or run away when challenged. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) challenged them when he said that unless the Government were given the powers which it sought, it would discontinue subsidies amounting to £40,000,000 a year, and that would mean that higher prices would have to be paid for many commodities. The right honorable gentleman said, “ He who pays the piper calls the tune “. Who pays the piper? Members on the Government side of the House adopt the attitude that Commonwealth revenue belongs to them and not to the people. The Prime Minister did not say that when the Government withdrew subsidies amounting to £40,000,000 it would remit taxes by that amount as he should he bound to do. The public did not regard the threat as quite so horrifying as it sounded. So long as the Australian people accept a challenge and refuse to crawl because of a threat they will still have a chance of maintaining a way of life that is in accordance with British traditions. The Government’s decision to hand back to the States at short notice the power to control rents and prices, was in the nature of a bombshell. Under the pretence that it was correctly interpreting the will of the people, the Government decided to recommend to the Labour caucus the relinquishment of controls in three months’ time instead of on the 31st December next. That is interpreting the will of the people in a strange way.
Mr. McLeod interjecting,
– I give the honorable member permission to use a speech which I am said to have made at Ballarat 21 years ago. In fact, he has already used that “speech, and it lent a little dignity to every utterance of his in which it has appeared. The Minister for Postwar Reconstruction, too, hae used it. As a matter of veracity, I was not at Ballarat in that year, but was in the Army. That shows how much credence may be given to the statements of honorable members opposite. Is there not something insincere in a government which expends £100,000 in attempting to convince the people that unless they vote in the way that it desires some horrible visitation will come upon them? Either the Government tried deliberately to mislead the people when it told them that terrible inflation would ensue unless a majority of them voted “yes”, or it is now acting wrongly in proposing to relinquish controls almost at once, instead of operating them to the end of December. Or does the Government wish to cause that chaos which it threatened would follow the cessation of its power to control rents and prices? If the Prime Minister were genuinely afraid of the purely hypothetical possibility that the High Court would do something inimical to the interests of Australia, some advantage might be gained from the decision of the Government to relinquish controlswithin three months, because by that time the States, despite all the handicaps they have to meet, due to the iniquitous uniform income tax, will have evolved the necessary machinery and the transition will be made smoothly three months earlier than was anticipated. If the Government looks to the States to fall down on the job, it is basing its hopes on false premises, because that will not happen.
– Before the suspension of the sitting, I said that the Prime Minister, in his inaugural speech on this subject, and again in a later speech, said that, unless the Commonwealth were given permanent control ‘ over prices, the Government would be forced to consider the abolition of subsidies. When I made that statement there was a chorus from honorable members on the other side of the chamber that it was a lie. In the interest of veracity, and in order to illustrate the looseness with which honorable members on the other side of the House approach matters of serious import, I propose to read two press reports, one of the opening speech of the Prime Minister in the referendum campaign, and the other of a speech which he made some time later. I invite honorable members opposite, who are so glib in charging me with telling lies, to listen carefully. The first report is as follows : -
People must realize, however, that if the Commonwealth’s power to control prices failed, many of these subsidies would have to be terminated.
The Commonwealth could scarcely accept a position in which State authorities had control over the factors which determined the effectiveness or otherwise of Commonwealth subsidies costing more than £40,000,000 a year.
The second one reads -
Obviously the Commonwealth could not continue to provide subsidies for goods the prices for which are to be fixed by a State authority which would have no financial responsibility to find the money.
Let honorable members opposite say now who was telling lies. The reports were published in a Sydney weekly journal called the Standard, which, according to Labour supporters, should be infallible. It is interesting to remember that the Prime Minister, when referring to the subject of subsidies called them for the first time since they were imposed, by their right name, that is, consumers’ subsidies. At election time they are called producers’ subsidies in an attempt to temper the wind to the shorn lamb. The attitude of the Government is, “We want to get back into Parliament, and anything that will deceive the people into voting for us is good enough “. Now, however, the Prime Minister uses the right term. These subsidies are, and always have been, consumers’ subsidies. That being so, who is most likely to suffer from a sudden discontinuance of payments? Obviously, the consumers, including the wage earners. Why, then, the sudden decision of the Government to abandon the payment of subsidies. Evidently, it was a hastily taken decision to penalize the wage earners for having exercised their democratic right by voting against the Government’s referendum proposal. If prices go up because subsidies are withdrawn wages must go up also, and thus we would enter upon the very spiral of inflation against which the Prime Minister has so persistently warned the public. By withdrawing subsidies, he would precipitate the very evil he fears. However, it would appear that wiser counsels have prevailed, and caucus had something to do with it. Caucus, for instance, decided that the subsidy should not be removed from tea because, if it were, there would be a spectacular rise of price, and those to suffer most would be the very ones from whom Labour hopes to obtain support at the next election. Therefore, according to the statement which we heard today, the Prime Minister’s first reaction to the decision of the public has been modified. However, by now the subject of the referendum has been pretty well canvassed, and I do not think that any one entertains doubt as to what the decision of the public means. Honorable members opposite would appear, from their speeches, not to have realized what is taking place. They still profess to believe that they can draw the wool over the eyes of the electors, at least for long enough to induce them to return the Labour Government at the general election in 1949. In their hearts, however, they are not so confident of the result.
I wish now to refer to coal, and particularly to the position in Victoria. In that State, gas is being rationed, and the future appears to be grim. It is interesting to recall a speech made by Mr. J. J. Brown, secretary of the Victorian railway workers, at the time of the tramways strike in Melbourne. When he came from a conference of militant unions in Sydney, Mr. Brown threatened the Victorian Government that if it persisted with its anti-:trike legislation, coal would not be forthcoming for Victorian industries. Apparently, the conference of unions has resolved to impose sanctions against any State which had the temerity to elect a government that was resolved to govern. That policy is now being implemented so far as Victoria is concerned, because Victoria is certainly not getting its share of coal. Some other States have also suffered to a lesser degree. The Commonwealth Government may claim that it exercises no control, and therefore cannot be held to be responsible. However, the Commonwealth Government is culpable in that it allowed authority to slip out of its hands, and to be usurped by an unrepresentative minority which held up Dutch shipping, and now threatens to hold up Greek shipping. I am convinced that Victoria is not getting enough coal to-day because there is in power in that State a government which refuses to pander to this minority. In the long run, it may be an advantage to some of the States to suffer inconvenience to-day, because it will induce them to become better equipped in the future. I know that in three States plans have been made to develop local coal resources so as to make industry independent of imports from New South Wales. This is not because they do not want New South’ Wales coal, but because they cannot get it, and the decision that they shall not get it has been made by the militant unions, not by any government. At Leigh Creek in South Australia, at Blair Athol in Queensland, and at Morwell in Victoria, there are coal deposits which will shortly be developed so as to make those States independent of supplies from New South Wales. When that is done, not only the miners of New South Wales will suffer, but the whole State will suffer as well, because the export of coal from New South Wales is an important industry. An attempt is now being made by saboteurs to bring the Government of Victoria to heel, hut they will fail because that Government is determined to govern. I ask the Australian Government to examine the situation in order to see if it can devise some way to keep the wheels of industry turning. Honorable members opposite are always boasting about prosperity, but it is a prosperity which consists in money only. It is not a prosperity of goods. We have been given to understand that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is going to initiate a campaign for increased production. He will get all possible help from this side of the House, but it will be interesting to see what means he will employ to encourage production. Will he tackle the factors which are really responsible for the present serious decline of production, or will he simply appeal to the farmers to go on producing so that they may “ get it in the neck” by having to pay more in taxes.? The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) mentioned the increase of the price of butter to 2s. per lb., but this increase is having the very opposite effect from what the Minister thought it would have. This is how it works out: A man who was milking 80 cows received a certain income upon which he paid so much tax. When the price of butter went up to 2s. per lb., he obtained the same income by milking fewer cows, and he will still pay only the same amount in tas. Therefore, men are selling some of their cows, their income is remaining the same, and they are paying the same amount in tax, but production is declining..
– Who, then, is the saboteur ?
– The Minister should talk sense. He knows quite well what is happening, and he ought to know the reason for it. The common-sense way to approach the matter would -be to reduce taxation. If that were done, there would be no need for a campaign to increase production. Men will produce more if there is an incentive. What is true of the farmers is true also of the wage earners. They will not work overtime because if they did most of their extra earnings would be taken in tax. Thus, neither the worker nor the Government is any better off, but the community is worse off, because it loses so much production. The Minister should seek the co-operation of the Treasurer and bring about a reduction of taxation if he really wishes to stimulate production. If he did that, the result would astonish him.
.- I listened with amazement to the speech of the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden), who would have been regarded as a reactionary even in the Legislative Council of Victoria 100 years ago. At the outset, he accused the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) of misrepresentation, but his own speech was the worst example of misrepresentation that I have listened to for a long time. One can find little to wonder at in that, because misrepresentation is a common fault of members of the Australian Country party. They should be and probably are ashamed of their record as partners in the antiLabour Governments that ruled Australia for most of the years before the war when unemployment, poverty and bankruptcy blighted the lives of hundreds of thousands of Australian citizens, especially when they contrast their record and those shocking conditions with the wonderful record of the Labour Administration whose benevolence has brought prosperity and economic justice to the people. Finding nothing about which they can honestly criticize the Labour Government, they resort to deliberate misrepresentation. I can prove that the honorable member for Gippsland has been guilty of misrepresentation, because he was an honorable member of this House in 1940, when I was elected.
-I was not.
– Weil, 1943. At any rate, he was a leader of the Country party, one of its organizers.
-t-I was not.
– Once before I quoted from a speech delivered by the honorable gentleman when he was a private citizen to a Country party conference, and it is worth quoting from again, because the remarks he made then would justify any one in thinking that he was a Communist, or at least a “ red “ Labourite, although to-day he is a pronounced reactionary. In those days, he castigated the banking institutions for having brought about poverty among the farming community. lt was on the views that he then expressed that he was elected to the House of Representatives. Does the honorable gentleman want me to read what he then said?
– Read it.
– I shall. It is well that I should do so in order to expose the honorable member’s insincerity and hypocrisy. In March, 1941, he addressed, at Ballarat, a conference of the United Country party, as the party was called then. When last I referred to this speech the honorable gentleman said that it had been delivered twenty years ago.
– I also said that I was not there.
– What I am about to read is “ The Presidential Address of the Chief President, Mr. G. J. Bowden “.
– But I was not there.
– But the speech was delivered on the honorable member’s behalf, and he has already admitted that he does not repudiate it. He said -
Australians as a whole have never been afraid to examine economic practices, and, where necessary, to point out their failure and the need for a change. No doubt this characteristic has been engendered by the pioneering experiences of this great continent. The man in the street has already made up his mind that economic practices which in times of peace keep people hungry, in the midst of plenty are doomed. He has decided that the system, which compels willing workers to remain idle and in want when there is work to be done, require changing.
Those words were spoken by a man who to-day upholds the very system that he then attacked - the system of private finance that sent on the road and on the dole fine young Australians who got their first job when they joined the armed forces after war broke out. He went on -
The rank and file of the U.C.P. are also critical of financial and economic practices which have reduced a large proportion of those engaged in primary industry from a free and un fettered people to the status of a peasantry.
The farmers were in the dire straits that he described them as being in because of the system that he and his colleagues now ‘ uphold. He added -
They, too, are looking for a change.
To their benefit they got that change. I do not know whether the honorable member has heard enough. I could read a lot more.
– Read the lot.
– Order ! The honorable member is entitled to make his speech in his own way.
– The honorable member for Gippsland went on to say -
One thing is clear.’ It is that Australia cannot in the future finance national obligations and undertakings through the medium of borrowed money carrying high rates of interest, the payment of which will enslave the whole of our people.
Yet he voted against the banking bill. All his talk of a few years earlier about socializing finance and nationalizing the banks went for nought. He thinks the people will forget what he said then and thinks there is now no danger in his standing four-square in support of the banking institutions which crippled the farmers, including men who served in the first world war, with interest charges. As a farmer himself, he knows that that is true. He said it was. It was on that sort of speech that he was elected to the Parliament. Safe in his seat, he betrays and misrepresents those whom he is supposed to represent. It is our duty in this House to expose hypocrites like him. We have not great newspapers, a chain of radio stations and the financial support of the banks that honorable gentlemen opposite have. Why is the honorable gentleman not man enough to fight the banks as he did in 1941 ? The next word in the honorable gentleman’s speech is “ Parliament “. That is this Parliament, the National Parliament.
– How does the honorable member know that?
– At any rate, it is the people’s Parliament. Every one in the community over the age of 21 has a vote in the election of its members. It is because it is elected by the people, regardless of property qualifications, that the honorable gentleman’s masters are afraid of it. The honorable member referred to the referendum on rents and prices. The cry raised by him and his colleagues was, “Don’t trust Canberra!” Why? Any one would think a foreign power was in control at Canberra which was not responsible to the Australian people. “Don’t trust Canberra!” they said. Canberra is the seat of government and the place where the people’s Parliament meets. Honorable gentlemen opposite, who are the puppets controlled by big business in Australia, do not want more power in the hands of the National Parliament at
Canberra, because every three years its members have to face the people and give an account of their stewardship. They do not want more power reposed in the National Parliament because they know that the people are so satisfied with our rule that they will return us to office at the next general election. So they indulged a few weeks ago in a campaign of misrepresentation. They misled the people deliberately. They said, “ There it no need for the National Parliament to control rents and prices. Leave the control to the States “.
– Yes, leave it to the States !
– The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) is honest and has never been a hypocrite, but my remarks are in castigation of the hypocrites in the Australian Country party. One of the leading hypocrites is the honorable member for Gippsland, who knows that the political set-up in Victoria is such that the Parliament of that State, at least, will not be able to control prices and rents. The Legislative Assembly of Victoria is admittedly a people’s House. Most electors know who represents them and have probably met them, but very few people would know the members of the Legislative Council in the election of which only one person in three in the State has a vote. So- reactionary are the majority of the members of that chamber that twelve months ago, when the then Victorian Labour Government passed through the Legislative Assembly a bill entitling an ex-serviceman, regardless of whether he had property or not, to vote at Legislative Council elections, it was rejected by the Legislative Council. “ No, no ! “ they said. “ We do not mind if you place your bodies between us and the enemies - indeed you must - but you must not have a vote in the election of our membership when you come back.” I fervently believe in democracy, but I do not believe that I shall ever see it in Victoria, where I live. I have three votes at municipal elections and a vote at elections of the Legislative Council elections, because I have property, but two other men, probably more worthy than I am have no vote, because they have no property. So reactionary is the Upper
House in Victoria that whatever parliamentary reform is proposed, it can be rejected by the property and privilege in the Legislative Council.
– Does the honorable member not believe in the principle of onevoteonevalue ?
– I do.
– Well, the Trades Hall Council does not. It recently rejected a proposition that that principle should operate in its affairs.
– I prefer the principle of one-vote-one-value to that of one vote for me and none at all for two other men. The principle of one-vote-one-value is far more democratic than that which operates in Legislative Council elections in Victoria at which two-thirds of the people are disfranchised. I am not concerned to-night with the political short-comings of the Liberal party so much as I am with those of the Australian Country party, members of which deliberately deceive the people and want the National Parliament to have as little power as possible, because that suits their interests. “ Leave it to the States ! “, they said about control of rents and prices, being fully aware that big business, as represented in the Victorian Legislative Council, will prevent the successful control of rents and prices in Victoria, at least. On the Monday after the referendum, Mr. Higginson, of the Property Owners Association, said “Rents may rise by 33 per cent.”. So, no matter what the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Hollway, says, the property owners in the Legislative Council will have the last say. The Labour party was sincere in its campaign for a “ Yes “ vote at the referendum, but members of the Australian Country party deliberately deceived the people. The Labour party has no great daily press mid has no support from the great combines and monopolies in trade and commerce, whose interests are linked with those of the private banks. Consequently, we are at a considerable disadvantage in advocating essential reforms. Prom the remarks made by the honorable member for Gippsland about private finance in 1941, we ought to have been able to count on his support when, in order to ensure that no longer should private financiers be: able to decide whether or not men should work, we introduced the Banking Act of 1947. But the honorable gentleman refused to practise, what he preached. Now, in an attempt to destroy the Labour Government, the big financial and business interests, that he and his kind represent are pouring out unlimited sums of money in the employment of agents all over the country to whisper in people’s ears dreadful things about the Labour party.
– What rot”!
– The honorable gentleman, knows all about’ them. I have met them myself. Some of them are stationed in my constituency. Why, one of them was given a- “send-off “ only recently. They a ko hired a-t £20 a week to whisper to people that every Labour’ man is a Communist: Constitutional limitations on the- National Parliament’s power compelled, us’ three years after the war ended and- after we had ensured the people’s economic security and- freedom from exploitation to’ tell them that we could no longer protect them unless we were- empowered by them, to’ dc so. We knew that we had to do that, and the honorable member knew it, too, because, although all’ the -State Premiers had agreed that the National’ Parliament should have- the power to control prices, the Legislative Council of Victoria1,, after’ conceding the power for three months;, six’ months later rejected continuance of if- thereafter. That is why there- is- no machinery for prices- control at all in Victoria. The’ Premiers’ led. the- people to believe1 that they would) give to this- Parliament, and by that) I assume that they meant this Government’,, power, to exercise control over- prices from’- year’ to< year.. They did not tell the truth. They did not say, as indeed they might have done, that at any time the validity of the prices regulations might be contested in the High Court, and that if the High Court held that the Commonwealth’ no- longer had authority to control prices- under its defence power, traders throughout thelength’ and breadth of Australia could increase their prices overnight to any figure- which they thought the public might pay. We were honest; and we told the people- the’ truth;, but the Government? s- proposals were- defeated’- by mis leading’ propaganda costing hundreds of thousands of pounds1 issued by antiLabour supporters in a- campaign of vindictiveness1 against the Labour Government; Immediately the result of the referendum was made known and the Prime Mini’s tei- (Mr. Chifley) announced that the Commonwealth would vacate the field of prices and rent control, honorable members opposite and ‘ their supporters squealed, saying that the Prime Minister was displaying petulance at the defeat of- his proposals. The honorable member for’ Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) well knew the repercussions that would follow the abandonment of price control on a Commonwealth basis. Some time ago- in an attempt to tickle the ears of. the farmers- his own leader said that it would be a. good move if the payment of subsidies was discontinued-. Honorable members- opposite have made strenuous attempts- to convince the workers that they are overburdened with taxes. In Victoria, in 1939j. when. State taxes were imposed, a married man with two children in receipt of an- income of £150 a year paid in income tax. an annual; amount of £1 3$; Idi To-day such a man would pay no income tax at all-. Indeed, a. worker in such clr:cumstances could> earn up to £316 a year without being.- mulcted in income tax or social-, service contributions. Not only would he enjoy immunity from tax. but he’ would also- receive 7s; 6d-. a- week child endowment,, he would be covered against! sickness to- the- amount of 25s. a week, for himself,. £1 a week, for his wife, andi 5s. a- week- for the- child not endowed, and should he. die. his widow would” be given, a pension: When I was- first elected to this Parliament tragedy stalked the land: and no provision had been made- for thepayment of widows’ pensions. In those days no attempt was madeto: make the” wealthy bear their just share of the cost of the obligations of the nation. A young married man with three-children, obviously misled by the sort of specious propaganda disseminated by the antiLabour supporters - apparently he had been reading’ the Melbourne H’erald - told me- that he and the” workers generally were being’ strangled by the heavy load of taxes. I asked him what’ wages he received. He told me he’ was earning £6 a. week. I said to him; “ Then, you pay no income tax at’ all “. I proved to him that he was not only better off under the Labour Government in respect of immunity from tax but also that he was receiving 15s. a week in child endowment for’ which he paid nothing. 1 said to him, “ You are making’ a good profit out. of the benevolence of the Labour Government”. He asked me, “ Am I entitled to anything under the award if I become sick ? “ I advised him to see his- union secretary on that point. I asked him whether he had been sick and he replied in the affirmative. I asked, “Did you not get 25s. a week in sickness benefit?” He said, “Yes”, and I asked,. “Did not your wife receive £1 a week ? “ He admitted that she had. I. then, said, “And you received hospital’ expenses and a sickness benefit in respect, of your children ? “ He admitted that he had. I. said, “ Until the advent of.’ the Labour. Government, you would have, got nothing in such circumstances. You would have been a. very worried; man, at your wits? end to know what would happen to your wife and family and how you. would pay the landlord. The worry might have killed you:. Had. it done, so your: widow would, not h-a-ve been entitled to a: pension. You can. give all’ these benefits away if you. wish. Consult’ an- insurance company, and. ascertain what, the company would, charge to cover- you against, all these- contingencies:. A reductions of income tax would; not affect you: because you: pay- no tax?,, but it would: mean a considerable amount, to mei It is I who should be complaining;, if- anybody should, complain.”. That stony merely illustrates how misleading propaganda, has been absorbed; by unthinking, people:. The nation, however, ©am well afford, to’ confer these benefits upon its: people. The1 hon-or-able- member for Capricornia (Mr. Davidson.) and the. honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) referred’ to a grazier’s profit being, taken almost wholly by the Taxation. Commissioner. As every honorable member knows, the value of sheep is set, down by the taxpayer in the stock schedule in: hia income tax- return. If the- value of a sheep isshown, as- 5s. and; the sheep is subsequently sold at £2,. tax- is levied- on a. reasonable’ portion of the difference between! the cost: and the selling; price. I. am one of those fortunate people who have benefited greatly in recent months by the extraordinarily high price of wooli In addition to earnings as a primary producer, T receive my parliamentary allowance; which places me in a fairly high income group. Too many times in the past, however, I found, myself confronted with a notice calling upon me to find £1,000 for interest: or to forfeit my land. Many honorable members oppo; site were undoubtedly in similar circumstances, but others did not have to meet these difficulties. Their hides- and their investments- are safe now the war is over, and. they have- no wish, to pay the cost- of the struggle in the outcome of which they, had so much to gain or to lose. I used to receive from 4s. to 5s. ai head for wethers,, off-shears. Today, I obtain 30s. for them. Honorable- members opposite, say, “ Why strive to make large incomes? Chifley takes the lot”. If the Treasurer takes l’Os. out of every 30s-. I receive II am still £L to’ the good. To those who repeat the gibe, “ Chifley takes the lot “j my invariable reply is;. “‘Who took the- lotwhen you were: struggling to hold your land, under the farmers’ debt adjustment legislation ? “ When, a man is ill and out of. work- he is usually without; friends Only the poor, can help the poor; and how little: the poor can do for their fellows! Im former years,, before the advent of the Labour Government, I. witnessed the tragic: results that followed, the death of. a man who had” left a. widow with young children, unprovided for. Inr stead of” growing, up into robust young, men andi women, those children to-day are’ sickly and will carry throughout their lives, the- disabilities caused by mairnutrition! in their childhood. At that time’ wealthy squatters in my district were buying- additional land and were- contributing practically nothing, in taxes. Taxes are not imposed upon the people unnecessarily.. No government would be guilty of such an. imposition. This. Government, however, has refrained from, making sufficient; capital out of its wise expenditure’ of the taxes- collected from the-people. Now that the war is- over honorable’ members1 opposite and their wealthy supporters are full of complaints because they are* compelled to pay their just share of the cost. During the war they were only too ready to make promises to our fighting men, but it fell to the lot of the Labour Government to carry the burden of their fulfilment. Let me cite some of the figures relating to expenditure incurred on the rehabilitation of exservicemen. In the period from the 1st March, 1944, to the 31st March, 1948, no less than £6,360,460 was expended on university type training and £14,650,484 on technical and vocational type training under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. During the same period, rural training cost £535,885. In addition, between the 1st April, 1943, and the 31st March, 1948, the Government expended no less than £2,542,306 in supplementing the wages of apprentices. Between the 1st November, 1943, and the 31st March, 1948, it granted loans amounting to £3,448,891 for the purchase of small businesses, and £218,819 for the purchase of agricultural properties.. Between the 1st September, 1940, and the 31st March, 1948, it provided £3,026,848 for medical treatment for war caused disabilities, and £60,251 for medical benefits to the dependants of deceased service personnel. From the 1st July, 1943, to the 31st March last, it provided £61,827 for free passages to and from the Commonwealth. During the period from the 1st January, 1941, to the 31st March last, it provided £56,016 for business reestablishment allowances, £1,020,761 for re-employment allowances and gifts, and £1,694,977 and £173,393 respectively for loans and for the purchase of tools of trade. These are but a few of the items of expenditure incurred by the Government in honoring the promises made to our fighting men. Yet honorable members opposite and their wealthy supporters cavil at the taxes imposed by the Government in order to meet these obligations. Out of revenue from taxation an amount of no less than £16,000,000 annually is provided for education, a considerable portion of that amount being provided for the higher education of sons and daughters of people whose financial circumstances would not permit them to send their children to universities. Have tory governments in the past ever made provision of that kind? Did the so-called Country party and
Liberal party governments provide drought relief for stricken farmers in the past? Did they make provision for therelief of flood victims? Not at all.
I regret that the honorable member for Maranoa, who made many misleading statements about the primary industrieslast week, is not in the chamber to hear my reply. Among other things the honorable member said that the prices being: paid for primary products at the beginning of the year were continued until Opposition members ultimately forced theLabour Government to increase them. I came into this Parliament in 1940 when Labour was in opposition, the country then being governed by a coalition government supported by the parties now in. opposition. Notwithstanding the fact that at that time the Australian Country party, the self-styled champion of theprimary producers, shared in the responsibilities of government, our wool Was being sold for as little as lOd. sterlingper lb. Even during the first world war growers received ls. 3d. per lb. for their product. Yet, the honorable member for Maranoa, the self-styled broad-minded, tolerant, Christian gentleman, has the temerity to claim that he and his colleagues forced the Labour Government to increase the prices of primary products. For nearly twelve months, I fought a battle with the right honorable member for Cowper, when he was Minister for Commerce, in an effort to obtain an increase of 2d. per lb. for wool. Although my request was a modest one, the right honorable gentleman strenuously resisted it. When the Labour party took office in October, 1941, the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Scully) became Minister for Commerce, and, upon representations, the increase was granted.
Members of the Australian Country party claimed that they compelled the Government to increase the price of dairy produce. For the first two years of World War II., the Liberal party and the Australian Country party formed the Government of this country, but they did not exhibit the slightest intention of increasing the price. They made a number of mistakes. For example, they asked primary producers to increase the production of pig meats, but offered, no guaranteed price. Primary producers produced more bacon pigs, but when these were mature, the anti-Labour Government declared that the demand for that kind of meat had eased, and, consequently, prices for pigs slumped. When the Labour party took office, it offered a guaranteed price. Dairy-farmers had not received an increase for many years. The Labour Government, a few months after taking office, increased the price of pig meats by Id. per lb., and ordered an inquiry into production costs in the dairying industry. As the result of that investigation, prices were increased to a figure which exceeded that which dairy-farmers had expected. Yet members of the Australian Country party have declared in this debate that by their strenuous efforts, they forced the Government to increase the price of dairy produce. For ten years, when the Liberal party and the Australian Country party formed the Government of this country, they did not grant any assistance to the dairying industry.
All honorable members are familiar with the Scully Wheat Plan. At a time when weevils were eating the wheat because the lack of shipping prevented us from exporting it, the Labour Government guaranteed a price of 4s. a bushel for the first 1,000 bags, and 2s. a bushel for the crop in excess of that quantity. Before the introduction of the Scully plan, we had been battling to obtain from the anti-Labour Government a first advance of 2s. lOd. a bushel. That is the record of the Labour Government. The Australian Country party for ten years had the same opportunities to grant this measure of assistance to primary producers, but neglected to do so. Now, it describes the aid which the Labour Government has granted to the primary industries as socialism.
As members of the Australian Country party constantly complain about this Government’s treatment of the dairying industry, I shall read an interesting extract from the 46th Annual Report and Balance Sheet of the Queensland Farmers’ Co-operative Association Limited for the twelve months ended the 30th June, 1946. The head office of the organization is at Booval, and it has a branch factory at Boonah. Both these centres are in the electorate of Moreton. Other branch factories are situated at Grantham, Laidley, and Lowood, which are in the electorate of Darling Downs. According to the report, the association’s factories had 3,038 suppliers in February, 1946, and 2,863 in the following June - an average of approximately 3,000. They were paid £1,153,136 for 13,030,000 lb. of butter, an average of £371 for every supplier. In 1941, the factory handled 10,626,673 lb. weight of butter, for which it paid suppliers £625,571. Had there been 3,000 suppliers in that year, the average payment would have been £280. However, the report gives a. better basis for comparison by stating that suppliers averaged ls. 2.13d. per lb. in 1941 and ls. S.54d. in 1946, an increase of 6.41d. per lb. From 1934 to 1938, when the right honorable member for Cowper was Minister for Commerce, the suppliers of the association were in a worse position. They received a raw deal. Their returns were as follows: -
Those were the prices which ruled in the bad old days when the Liberal party and the Australian Country party formed the government of this country. I shall now quote some remarks of practical dairymen, not politicians, who are honest enough to express their views. I do so in order to correct some of the misrepresentations made by members of the Australian Country party. The Sydney Morning Herald, on the 15th October. 1947, reported as follows:-
At the North Coast Show at Lismore yesterday hundreds of dairy-farmers discussed the new price and toasted what they referred to as “ their new era “.
The dairy-farmers considered that they had a new era. Under the sympathetic administration of the Labour Government, the prices of dairy produce rose from ls. 1.91d. in 1942 to ls. 8.54d. in 1946. The cost of labour, which is now regarded as a factor in the cost of production, was never so recognized by antiLabour governments. Although the Australian Country party did not assist the primary producers in any way, honorable members opposite are now endeavouring to belittle the aid which the Labour Government has given to them. The honorable member for Gippsland has described the increased prices as “ coming out of the sky”.
I shall now reply to one of the worst kinds of misrepresentation that I have heard in this chamber for some time. The honorable member for Maranoa attacked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, who had made an able speech. Probably, the honorable member considered that he was compelled to make a reply. In my opinion, he could have served the Australian Country party just as effectively had his remarks been even somewhere near the truth, but he descended to deliberate misrepresentation, and 1 propose to expose it and to castigate him for it. The Minister, merely to compare the position of wheat-farmers in the early 1930’s, when the Labour party was not in office, with their present conditions, recalled that the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Langtry) had stated that the wheat-growers had been compelled, by economic circumstances, to jack up their motor cars, whereas, to-day, nearly every farmer had his own car and could afford to run it more frequently than he was ever able to do in the past. He added that the primary producer had every right to be in that position. On the following day, the broad-minded, tolerant and generous Christian member for Maranoa, in order to make political propaganda by telling lies, deliberately endeavoured to set the farmers against the Labour party. He said that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture had slighted the primary producer by suggesting that they were driving about the country in their limousines, and he stated that it w.as unworthy of the Minister to suggest that primary producers should not have motor cars. No reasonable person could possibly have placed such a construction on the Minister’s remarks. “When I read the biography of the honorable member in a booklet issued by the Melbourne Herald, I noted that he conducted one of the largest Sunday schools over the air, and is known as “Uncle John”. Henceforth, he should be. known as- Uncle Ananias. When an honorable member tells such deliberate untruths, he should be exposed, ifr. McLeod.
However, the people will not be deceived for long. Unfortunately, they believed the propaganda of our political opponents and rejected the Government’s referendum proposals to control rents and prices. They would not heed the warning that the failure to confer these powers upon this Parliament would lead to inflation. The people said, in effect, “ We do not want a police constable in the township. Take him away.” When “ rooks “ and thieves become active, the people will “ squeal “ for his reinstatement. Our political opponents contended that the States could control rents and prices more effectively than the Commonwealth had done. I forecast that when the Commonwealth relinquishes these controls, rents will rise. The Legislative Councils of the States will ensure that they do, and every profiteer will rejoice. Once again, wages will chase prices and the country will be caught in the spiral of inflation. Because of the wise administration of the Labour Government, Australia’s economy is sounder than that of any other country. The truth of that statement may be seen in the fact that the purchasing power of the Australian £1 is higher in Australia than that of the English £1 in the United Kingdom.. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), who was in Great Britain a few months ago, will be aware of that. If members’ of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party had the interests of Australia at heart, why did they refuse to support the Government in its appeal to the people to vest these controls in the Commonwealth?” We all shall suffer from the effects of any inflation. Even the persons who are somisguided as to support the Liberal party will not escape. The only exceptions will be the 2 per cent, who will make enormous profits out of higher rents.
The savings of the people in our savings bank now total £667,000,000 Certain interests have hungry eyes on the money, and the people will be forced to spend it, although they will not be able to buy very much. Australia will have the same experience as the United States of America has had.. In America, the condition of the people is pathetic. President Truman has pleaded with Congress- to reimpose prices control, which was lifted after the war at the behest of “ big business. The inflationary tendencies in the United States of America to-day are the greatest tragedy which has ever overtaken that country, but honorable members opposite, when their masters crack the whip, are prepared to allow similar conditions to occur in Australia. Some honorable members opposite appear to be quite cheerful because the people rejected the Government’s referendum proposals. I am afraid of what the people will have to suffer in future, but they will know whom to blame. Let me remind honorable members of the conditions in the United States of America. The following news item appeared in the Australian press on the 1st June under the heading, “ One American in Four Lives Beyond In come “ : -
A government cost-of-living survey shows that one in every four American families is spending money faster than it can earn.
Strangely enough, that item was published, not before the referendum, but the day after it. As the basic wage is adjusted at three-monthly intervals, it is obvious that wages will never overtake prices. The article continues -
Increasing .prices are squeezing the lowincome families - those earning a maximum of 3,000 dollars (£A.93G) a year - from the market for homes, furniture, and cars.
Even those earning up to 7,000 (£A.2,184) a year are finding they must forgo purchases of such goods unless they have savings.
The Kew York Herald Tribune says that, in 1947, 3,000,000 families cashed all their savings bonds, and 9,000,000 of the 17,500,000 persons who bought furniture, radios, refrigerators, and washing machines, bought them on the instalment system.
This was twice the number who bought on credit in 1946.
Half of the spending units, either families or individuals, reported a higher income in 1947, but of these 20 per cent, felt they were worse off at the end of the year.
Another 30 per cent, did not feel they had an overall improvement..
What will happen in Australia is that the prices of goods will soar beyond the reach of the average wage-earner, and of necessity, he- will have to draw on his savings in order to purchase his requirements. Any person, with even an elementary knowledge of economics, must realize that the purchasing power of the people will be seriously reduced, and as manufacturers do not make goods out of charitable motives, they will reduce their output. A period of deflation will follow, leading to unemployment. By then, honorable members opposite will probably be happy. They will be able to say to the primary producer, “ You can still get £1 a bag for potatoes and can hire a man for £1 a week “. That has always been the policy of the Australian Country party - £1 a bag for spuds and £1 a week for the worker.
– Order ! The honorable member has exhausted his time.
– If the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod) ever takes on the job of conducting a radio Sunday school, he should call himself Uncle Jeremiah. He should have closely studied the book of that prophet before the referendum instead of after it. There are two or three purple patches in his speech to which I shall refer, because they strike a new note. He read long extracts from the speech of the honorable’ member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) which, I have no doubt, will bear quoting for as long as he cares to- read them, because the speech was well worth hearing. It was a pleasant interlude in a rather dull debate. The points that struck me most forcefully in the honorable gentleman’s address were, first, his violent hostility to the Australian Country party - which seems to be becoming very fashionable among honorable members opposite - and second, his hostility to legislative councils. I can quite understand his dislike of the Australian Country party, and I could have understood his dislike of legislative councils had it not been for the fact that, like all members of the present Parliamentary Labour party, he recently voted for the establishment of a legislative council in the Northern- Territory. That body is now in operation. Unlike any State legislative council, it has a majority of nominee members-. It. was, I suppose, a mere omission on the part of the Government that those members were not elevated to the peerage so that they could perpetuate their succession in the same way as the members of any hereditary chamber. The Australian Labour party cannot alford to open its mouth on this question. It is only in the Northern
Territory that there is such an anachronism as a nominee member of a legislative council. In all other similar bodies the members are elected.
– The members of the New South Wales Legislative Council are nominated.
– They are not; they are elected. The. Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) knows as much about the Legislative Council of New South Wales as he knows about his own department.
– The members are not elected bv the people.
– They are elected, on a proportional representation basis, at a joint meeting of the two houses.
– That is not election by the people.
– I know as much about the method of electing the members of that body as does the honorable .member for Hunter (Mr. James). I suppose that even in this democratic chamber it will be generally conceded that South Australia is the most conservative of the States. I remind the honorable member for Wannon that the extension of the franchise for the South Australian Legislative Council to every person who had been on active service outside Australia was effected in 1917 and 191S and [ ask whether the Labour members of the Victorian Legislative Council have ever put forward a similar suggestion. That is the test. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard), who was once a Victorian legislator, nods his head. I do not know whether that indicates assent or a headache, but no doubt we shall hear what he means later on. As long as the Legislative Council in the Northern Territory is maintained in its present form, it ill becomes members of the Australian Labour party- to criticize any State legislative council, because they have been guilty of instituting in the Northern Territory the most undemocratic method of government that exists in any part of the Australian territories to-day. Every man-jack of them voted for it, although I do not know whether they did it consciously or not.
The honorable .member for Wannon had something to say about the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr.
Scully) and I am reminded of the hecticdays when the honorable gentleman wasMinister for Commerce. When theScullin Government was in power in thisParliament the price of wheat in Australia reached a record low level. What did that Government do about the price of wheat when it was ls. lOd. a bushel1 f.o.b. for about two years? The legislation introduced by the Scullin Government provided that half the differencebetween ls. lOd. a bushel, or whatever the figure was, and 4s. a bushel was to be mer by the State governments, but it must have been realized that two of the States. South Australia and Western Australia, which exported the highest proportion of” their wheat crops could not possibly carry that financial burden. If they had’ attempted to do so, they would have become bankrupt and would have been in-> the same, or perhaps a worse, position than the State of New South Wales, where its Government had its own, troubles with its own Premier.
– What did the Australian Country party senators do at thattime? They threw out the bill providing for a guaranteed price.
– They had to throw it out, because they were the representatives of the States. Nohonorable senator could agree to impose - upon his State a financial burden that it could not carry. If the Minister for Works and Housing had been a WesternAustralian senator at that time he could” not have voted for that guarantee, because Western Australia could not have carried the consequent burden.
– The Commonwealth guaranteed the price. It was not a Statebill.
– Half of the cost of the guarantee had to be metby the States. One of the conditions wasthat they should provide 50 per cent, of the money. Probably the honorable gentleman does not understand the position. Later on, further legislation wasintroduced which guaranteed a price of 3s. a bushel for wheat. If my memory serves me correctly, that was the only, guarantee given by an Australian government that was not honoured. The Government dishonoured its own cheque.
The purpose for which I rose to-night was chiefly to deal with one or two matters in connexion with Tennant Creek.
– Is the honorable member going on a walk-about?
– It would be advisable if the honorable member for Wannon sometimes did that, instead of sitting so still. Marco Polo might discover a few things in this House. I am raising these matters at the request of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Plain), who happens to be, if I may put it in this way for the benefit of the honorable gentleman who has just interjected, at present engaged in a political walk-about in the Northern Territory. I see that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) is present in the chamber, and I hope that when I have concluded my remarks he will reply to them. I have visited Tennant Creek once or twice in my life, and the Minister for the Interior knows it much better than I do. I understand that it is one of the most promising gold-fields in the Commonwealth of Australia to-day, and, probably, with the exception of South Africa, in the British Empire. Its production for the first few years of its life exceeded the production over a similar number of years of the Kalgoorlie fields. It has three batteries for the use of miners, and they are government batteries. No. 1 is situated 23 or 25 miles north-west of the town and serves a certain area. No. 2 is situated 7 or 8 miles north-east of the town, and No. 3, which is the only one I have visited, is quite close to it. I understand from a telegram sent to me by the honorable member for the Northern Territory and from an article in the Adelaide press on Monday that a report has been circulated to the effect that the Government has decided to close down No. 1 battery and to remove it to Tennant Creek, thus forcing the gold producers in the area it now serves, which comprises approximately 1,600 square miles of territory, to transport their dirt to No. 3 battery for crushing. The main mines there are Edna Beryl, whose owner Iknow moderately well, Whippet, whose ownership was changed recently, Great Western and Black Angel. The latter name is a significant one, and I have often thought that it would be appropriate if the mine were nationalized.
– The name might apply to the honorable member.
– It would never apply to the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan).
– I am a white angel.
– White is the most ineffective colour of all. Any one who knows anything about live-stock realizes that it is a mistake to buy a white shorthorn bull or a white pig. The latter two mines that I have mentioned have, I believe, a very low gold content. One of the difficulties at presentis that there is a cartage payment made by the Government for the transport of dirt from the mines to the battery. The other difficulty, according to the honorable member for the Northern Territory is due to the presence of “grog”. That is stated openly in his telegram to me, and I may as well throw it into the ring. The honorable member states that No. 3 battery is well constructed, that its workmanship is of first-class quality, and that it is capable of doing a good job. It will be required for the mines which are operating in that area at present. I should like to know whether it is still the policy of the Australian Government to encourage prospectors to go out and discover gold. If it is, it will be all the more necessary for No. 3 battery to remain in its present position to the north-west of Tennant Creek. The honorable member then refers to the question of centralization. If the policy of the Government is to centralize all crushings at Tennant Creek, I say quite frankly that I do not know how the ore is going to be crushed. I am assured that some miners are already waiting for as long as eightmonths to get their crushings done, although three batteries are in operation. It is obvious that it is not possible to dismantle the battery and to erect it upon another site without putting it out of operation for many months. I am assured that it is believed that it would take about two years to dismantle No. 3 battery, remove it to another site and re-erect it there.
In regard to the operation of the battery, it appears that the problems involved are partly labour and partly supervision. The -honorable -member for the Northern Territory refers to the practice, with which he says the Minister for the Interior is familiar, in Western Australia and Queensland, where, I understand, the battery has an engineer supervisor in charge and the labour to operate it is provided by men who mine the ore. They overcome the labour difficulty in that way. The complaint at Tennant Creek is that private enterprise -that dreadful institution - is offering to men who ar.e employed by the Government as battery attendants and to the supervisors higher wages than those which the Government is prepared to pay. The honorable member suggests that the wages offered by private enterprise are at least 3.0 per cent, higher than those paid by the Government. He states that housing at the batteries is insufficient and that there is a lack of amenities. Then there is the vexed question of what ought to be the policy in regard to the cartage of gold dirt to the batteries under a system of subsidies. The honorable gentleman states in his telegram that in his opinion no subsidy should be given where men are deliberately putting in dirt which has not a sufficient gold content, merely in order that they may be paid a subsidy. It is not only in the gold-mining industry that that sort of thing happens.
The other important question so far .as the whole of the Tennant Creek field is concerned is what the Government proposes to do about water supplies. Water Ls the key to mining operations in the Northern Territory. I do not know whether anything has been done recently with regard to the provision of a more generous water supply for Tennant Creek. During the war, when I was interested in the Northern Territory, I raised a question on the provision of a permanent water supply from a place known as Attack Creek, which is approximately 3.0 miles to the north. I did not visit that spot, but I have been -told by local people, and by others who have regularly flown over the area, that it has what is necessary for the construction of a very large -reservoir, that the rainfall is good, -and that there is an ample flow of water. It is impossible to conduct mining operations without an efficient -and sufficient water supply. Un-
Jess the conditions have altered materially since .1 was last at Tennant Creek about five years ago, it has not a water supply that would be sufficient for the efficient conduct of mining operations. When I was there, much of the time of the miners and townspeople was taken up in carting the water that they needed. In order to remedy the position, the Government must first determine whether its policy is to be dispersion or concentration of battery facilities. I should think that, on a goldfield like Warramunga, there must be sooner or later a dispersion of batteries if gold production is to .proceed. I do not believe that a system under which batteries would be concentrated at Tennant Creek would he satisfactory. I point .out to the Minister that in these days, when we are endeavouring to conserve petrol, it seems a rather backward policy to compel -every miner in a far-flung -mining district like that to take all his dirt into Tennant Creek to be crushed. I have made some mention of the Queensland and Western Australian methods The Minister might examine the possibility of instituting a system under which the Government would provide the battery and supervision and the miners provide the labour, on a co-operative or other basis. The next matter I desire to mention is the vexed one of the payment of a subsidy on the cartage of ‘low-grade dirt. Whilst I firmly believe that the Government’s policy should be to acquire every ounce of gold that can be Avon and to encourage the working of low grade shows with the utmost efficiency under a sound economic system. There is room for difference of opinion on whether it should subsidize the cartage of dirt which has not a sufficiently high gold content to warrant the subsidy. The Minister is much better acquainted with the gold industry than I am. Whilst conceding that, I maintain that if an area as vast as the Northern Territory is to be prospected, battery facilities must be provided., .and prospectors must be encouraged to go -out and take their chance of getting ;a good return for their labour. If there is any sign of payable dirt, they must be encouraged to bring it in for crushing.
The last matter that I want to raise was the .subject .pf a .news item in the Adelaide Advertiser last Monday, in consequence of a telegram to that newspaper from ,a meeting of leaseholders. The complaint of the leaseholders is, that some payments for gold tailings which the Government should have made are already two years overdue. Two years ago, the batteries reopened. Certain tailings were treated. Gold contents were won, and are now in the possession of the Government. The value of those tailings amounts to at least £25,000. The Minister will agree, first, that there is something radically wrong with the administration of the mines department in the Northern Territory if a miner has to wait for two years for settlement of his account for gold won in a Government battery; and secondly, that there must be a grave deficiency in the provision of battery facilities if a man has to wait eight months to have his dirt crushed and treated in order to discover what its gold content is. The cost of living in the Northern Territory, as the Minister well knows, is high, and conditions are hard. “Every man who goes into that country earns every penny he gets from it, and the quicker his return the better it is for him, and, regarded from, a selfish Government point of view, for the Australian Government. Gold provides the surest, readiest and swiftest approach that I know of to the acquisition of dollars. It is the one thing in the world, (is it has been for thousands of years, which speaks the financial language of all countries. My only regret is that the price of gold to-day is too low, find I shall not be satisfied until it has been revised. I am fortified in my views on this subject on this occasion - I was not when I last raised this matter - by what has happened in regard to gold in France and Greece. A lot of information has come out of those countries. In an answer to a question upon notice which took a long time to procure, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) informed me during this sessional period t hat the value of gold in France since that country returned to the gold standard has been £31 per oz. Australian. When the Minister for the Interior and I were engaged in a somewhat warm discussion on .gold late last year, I ,said that .one gang of detectives w,as at work in Kalgoorlie trying to prevent people from -smuggling ,gold from there, and that another gang of detectives was engaged on a similar assignment at Mascot. Yet I am told that £30 per oz. can be obtained .for any gold that is delivered at certain addresses in Sydney. According to another answer given by the Treasurer last year to a question upon notice, the free market price for gold in India was then ,£24 per oz., and according to published statements, the price is as high as from £40 to £50 per oz. in the Far East and Middle East. In France, according to published statements which I have read, and which I believe to be fairly reliable - because some of them were official - the public’s faith in gold is so great that the American gold dollar is worth three times as much as the American paper dollar. According to official reports by Unrra representatives in Greece, in which country British sovereigns circulated towards the end of the war among members of the underground movement, the British sovereign has driven every other form of currency out of circulation, and” is the only coin that matters, just a9 the American gold dollar is the only coin that now matters in France, and that has mattered there since gold dollars were dropped into that country in the course of certain operations during the recent war. These matters do not immediately concern Tennant Creek; but in the long run they will concern not only that gold-field, but also other goldfields, actual and prospective, in Australia. The incentive to prospectors to search for gold will be much greater if the price of gold is raised. I have read lately that gold producers - I believe in the Minister’s electorate - are asking for a bonus on production. My view is that the solution is to be found, not by way of a bonus, but by the countries of the world recognizing the increased value of gold in world economy. That would obviate the institution of a bonus system. I do not like, and never have liked, subsidies, bonuses and other artificial aids to pro’duction. Recognition by the countries of the world of the economic importance of gold would place the gold industry of Australia on a .much better footing than it is on at present.
– I shall deal briefly with the references of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) to the facilities that are available to the mining industry at Tennant Creek. Fortunately, the newly-appointed Director of Mines, Mr. Coxon, was in Canberra only a few weeks ago, and I was able to discuss with him undertakings in connexion with the total re-organization of the valuable gold-mining field at Tennant Creek. There are three batteries at Tennant Creek. Admittedly they have had to be reorganized because of various disabilities, and because parts had been taken from them during the war ; but the position now is that for the quantity of ore that is being mined in the Tennant Greek area the facilities available to miners and prospectors there compare more than favorably with those of any other goldfield in Australia. I am aware of the disabilities from which Western Australian miners and prospectors suffer, and the long distances over which they have to cart ore. Compared with the position at Tennant Creek, I should say that the latter field is more favorable to miners and prospectors. I believe that what caused the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) to send a protest to the honorable member for Barker was a report current in the Northern Territory that No. 1 battery was to be closed down.
– That is so.
– It is a fact that. No. 1 battery is to be closed down, for the time being at any rate. The beads from No. 2 battery are to be placed in No. 3 battery, and it is expected that No. 1 battery will then close because of lack of sufficient ore to keep it moving. That is the information which I received from Mr. Coxon. If it be found necessary to close No. 1 battery in the near future, or at any time in the future, before ten heads are installed at No. 2 battery, action will be taken along lines that will offer crushing facilities more than comparable with those that exist at No. 1 battery, which at the moment is situated from 23 to 25 miles north-west of the township of Tennant Creek. The main producing mines using that battery are the Whippet, the Edna Beryl, the Northern Star, the Black Angel, and the Great Western.
Recently, the Whippet and Edna Beryl mines, which are the major producers, decided to use No. 3 battery because they can transport their ore over the greater part of the distance by the main bitumen road. The Northern Star owners propose to erect their own battery. The Black Angel and Great Western are low-grade mines, and definitely are uneconomical to work. No. 2 battery is 8 miles north-east of the town and only 1 miles from No. 3 battery. There is less than 500 tons of ore in the locality available for crushing, and on twenty leases only five men are employed.
The honorable member will agree that, because of the facilities that are available, the prospectors and miners in that area are well catered for. There is, I know, a difference of opinion among the people of Tennant Creek on the subject of the centralization of batteries. I have endeavoured to obtain some degree of unanimity on whether it would be better to centralize all the crushing facilities or to disperse them in various centres. My own opinion is that better service would be given if the batteries were centralized, because it would then be possible to keep a better staff, and provide improved amenities. However, I am not prepared to act against the wishes of the miners, who are going through a difficult time. The provision under which a subsidy has been paid for the cartage of ore to the batteries has, in some instances, been abused. For instance, it is known that butchers and bakers and others in possession of vehicles have shovelled up earth from the hillside and carted it into the batteries so that they might claim the subsidy. The administration paid a subsidy for carting useless earth, and the batteries were choked up treating it. although it contained little, if any, gold. The Director of Mining recommended that the subsidy he not paid unless the ore yielded a specified number of pennyweights of gold to the ton. However, if that recommendation had been accepted it might have penalized genuine prospectors whose ore fell below the prescribed standard. Therefore, I deferred action until additional information was forthcoming.
Honorable members opposite are playing a new role when they advocate an increase of wages. Throughout all my industrial and political life I have had to fight for a decent living wage for the workers, and always honorable members opposite have been opposed to the granting of any increase. The honorable member for Barker knows that . the adjustment of wages for battery managers is a matter for the Public Service Board. The Government believes that many of the adjustments made by the board are inadequate, but we must uphold the law. The honorable member said that he did not know much about the subject of a water supply for Tennant Creek, and I have no difficulty in believing him. During recent years, the Administrator has given a. lot of attention to the provision of a water supply for Tennant Creek. Sites have been investigated for dams or reservoirs. . Bores have been sunk, and there is now an adequate water supply for the existing population, and for the crushing and treatment of ore.
This Government has had little opportunity to come to grips with the problem of developing the Northern Territory, ft came into office while the war was in progress, and throughout the whole of the war period the Territory was under military control. It was some time after the war ended before we were able to create the nucleus of an organization that will, for the first time, make a genuine effort to bring about effective development of the Territory. It is difficult to obtain the services of qualified technical men to take charge of mining and veterinary services there. It was two years before we were able to get a Director of Lands with the necessary qualifications. Eventually we succeeded in getting Mr. Barclay, a man of very high repute, with considerable experience in the northwestern part of Western Australia. I am sure that he will render very good service in subdividing the Northern Territory leases. The honorable member for Barker raised this matter in the House because he had received a telegram from the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain). I had offered to allow the honorable member for Barker to go through the files in my department, and study the reports of the Director of
Mines. I have tried to get from the people of Tennant Creek some unanimity of opinion regarding the location of batteries, but I have failed. It would be easy to get one group of residents to carry a certain resolution, and the following day to get another group to carry an exactly contrary resolution.
The honorable member for Barker discussed the price of gold. I know that he has spoken to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) on this subject, which is a highly technical and delicate one. Negotiations are now going on in regard to the matters between Australia and the United States of America. It is all very well for the honorable member for Barker to say that gold is being sold for so much in Australia while it is fetching a higher price somewhere else, but Australia is under an obligation to the United States of America to co-operate with it in the drawing up of a financial policy which will affect the whole of the British Commonwealth of Nations. .The Prime Minister explained to the honorable member for Barker the position regarding these negotiations. I have discussed them with the Chamber of Mines in Western Australia, with the UnderSecretary for Mines, Mr. Telfer, and with Mr. Lindsay Clark, who is an expert on’ gold prices, and not one of those gentlemen is dissatisfied with what the Government is doing.
– I did not mention negotiations.
– No, but the honorable member broadcast the fact that the price of gold was higher in some oversea* countries than in Australia. The suggestion was that there is a regular market for gold at the higher price, but that is not so. For how long would the higher prices continue if Australia were to unload its gold in those countries? That would not be the proper way to tackle a major problem of this kind. The Government has approached the matter in the right way, as the honorable member for Barker knows just as well as I do.
. -A few minutes ago, the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod), towards the end of a somewhat monotonous address, attacked the honorable member for
Maranoa (Mr. Adermann), and suggested that he was, in effect, a stranger to the truth. Every one who is acquainted with the honorable member for Maranoa will disagree with the remarks of the honorable member for Wannon. I remember what the honorable member for Maranoa said on Friday last about primary producers and limousines, and I remember also the exchange” which took place between him and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) on the point’. The honorable member for Maranoa said that he would look up the Hansard record in order to find out just what the Minister had said, and I am sure that if he finds that he did the Minister an injustice, he will be man enough to apologize. The honorable member for Wannon was not justified in casting a slur upon the honorable member for Maranoa by pointing out that he conducted a radio Sunday school session, and then suggesting that he had told a deliberate lie. Such a suggestion is, in the circumstances, calculated to create in the minds of young people the impression that the honorable member for Maranoa is not a fit and proper person to instruct them. The honorable member for Wannon might at least have deferred his attack until the honorable member for Maranoa was present.
While the honorable member for Wannon was speaking, a senior Minister interjected to ask us to allow the honorable member to make his speech in his own way. At the time, the honorable member was reading what purported to be a speech written by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) in 1941, and delivered by some one else in Ballarat. We all know that the honorable member for Gippsland was not in Ballarat at the time. He was somewhere else doing a man’s job, but honorable members opposite would not appreciate that. The honorable member for Wannon attacked members of the Australian Country party, saying that they had received large sums of money to campaign against the Government’s referendum proposal.
– Of course they did.
– I never received a penny from any one. However, I should like to know where the Labour party got its campaign funds from, and particularly where the money came from to produce in Western Australia the pamphlet called, “Yes-No Jackpot”? I received an unsatisfactory answer to a question that I asked in this House about that matter. I do not intend to allow it to stay where it is, and I intend to find out the facts. I have grave doubts whether some of the money was not provided by the Commonwealth loans organization.
– The honorable member hasn’t a clue.
– It is all very well for the honorable member for Perth to say that I haven’t a clue, but no one can tell me who paid for the pamphlet or where the newsprint on which it was printed, came from at a time when Australia is very short of newsprint. The honorable member for Wannon also cast aspersions on the upper houses in the State legislatures. . Apparently, he was dealing principally with the upper house in Victoria, but let me tell him that the upper house in Western Australia did not reject the proposal of the Labour government when war broke out. on the 3rd September, 1939. that rents be pegged as at the 31st August, 1939, which means that from then to even to-day, for the control still exists, the lessees in Western Australia have enjoyed the benefit of rents prevailing three days before the outbreak of the war. Ear from opposing the proposal, the upper house wholeheartedly supported it. The honorable member also claimed, as he has always claimed, since I have been a member of this House, that the high prices received by the primary producers for their products should be placed to the credit of this Government. That claim was made as a part of his general attack on members of the Australian Country party. Any one who cares to study the position will realize that the good prices that are being received by the primary producers are not due to the administration of this Government, but are the result of world price movements. One complaint of the primary producers about the Government is that it refuses to give to them all the money that they are entitled to receive from the sale of their products. We have not been able to learn from one responsible Minister just how much of the primary producers’ money is being withheld from them by the Government. The Government appointed a committee to investigate the cost of production of wheat. The committee recommended to the Government that wheat-growers he paid 6s. a bushel at sidings, in other words, 6s. 8d. a bushel, f.o.r. ports. The Government would not even honour the recommendation of the committee that it created, for it decided to pay only 6s. 3d. a bushel f.o.r. ports, which is much less than 6s. a bushel at sidings. Another committee set up by the Government recommended that it pay to the dairyfarmers 2s. per lb. for butter fat, hut the Government would not agree and it 19 paying them only 2s. per lb. I think the honorable member for Wannon and his fellow-travellers are becoming afraid of the Australian Country party because they are aware that the primary producers are waking up to “the fact that f heir real friends are to be found in our party and not in the Labour party. The Labour party members are afraid of what will happen at the next general election.
At the conference of the Australian Labour party on Saturday, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and the Minister for. Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) announced a drive for increased production. With other honorable members on this side of the House I think that the problem is being tackled in the wrong way. There is only one way to set about a drive for increased production. I propose to establish the fact tha;t that way lies in restoring incentive by reducing the taxes levied on the earnings of the people who produce. Last Thursday, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, replying to the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Davidson), who defeated the world-famed Mr. F. M. Forde, who is now Australian High Commissioner in Canada, asked whether the honorable member for Capricornia suggested that primary producers who daily wrote to him personally, or to him through their federal members asking for tractors indicated stagnation. “ On the contrary “, he said, “it indicates the desire of the primary producers to increase the areas that they have under cultivation.” How does the honorable gentleman arrive at that conclusion? Does he really believe that, because farmers are anxious to obtain new tractors, they are also anxious to increase the areas that they have under cultivation? I believe, and I am certain that most honorable members fully realize it, that the reason for their requiring new farm machinery, particularly tractors, is that their existing machinery and tractors are worn out. Moreover, if the Minister examines the position a little more closely he will discover that many of the people on farms seeking tractors require them to work land on which they have set themselves up by the investment of £1,000 loans that they have obtained under the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme, but certainly not under the ex-servicemen’s land settlement scheme, because very few men have gone on to the land under that scheme. Later in his speech, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture asked -
Does the demand for tractors indicate a fear of the Treasurer or confirm the desire of the farmers to cease producing wealth?
It does not confirm their desire to cease producing wealth ; for they are most anxious to increase the production of wealth, but they are not so stupid as to go on working to produce only to find that the bulk of their earnings from their extra production is garnered by the Treasurer for expenditure on some wild-cat scheme of his. If the Government did as recommended by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) in 1946, and set about a real policy of development, and spent thereon the £100,000,000 that it anticipates spending on the acquisition of the private trading banks and bricks and mortar, I believe that the primary producers would not mind producing the extra wealth that would be needed for that purpose. I commend to the attention of the Government the example of initiative that was set in the gold-fields of Western Australia years ago. When gold was found at Kalgoorlie, men walked to the field from Northam, about 300 miles away, only to find that no water was available. Lord
Forrest, at a memorable meeting at Kalgoorlie, said, “ Give me the idea and I will find the money “. The idea was hit upon’ and it was decided to pump water 300 miles from Mundaring to Kalgoorlie. It takes 29 days for every gallon of water to reach Kalgoorlie from Mundaring. That scheme stands to-day as a memorial to efficiency, ingenuity and foresight. Unfortunately, the engineer whose brain was behind the work committed suicide because of the attacks on him by people who did not fully understand what he was doing. If the Government followed that example and expended the money that it is taking from the primary producers in tax on the prevention of soil erosion, on water conservation, and on the reticulation of electric power into country districts, it would meet with a ready response from them. But, instead of doing that, the Government winks at industrial unrest and scatters money to the winds. Therefore people are not disposed to produce the extra wealth that the country needs, especially as most of their extra earnings from their extra production would be taken in taxes. In my electorate, only 40-odd miles from Perth, an orange orchardist let 2,000 cases of Valencia oranges fall from the trees and rot on the ground rather than pick them, because, when he asked the accountant who looked after his affairs, what it would be worth to him to pick the oranges, he was told that all he could expect was Id. a case. Would any sane man work for a return like that? Of course not! It is a criminally stupid policy that forces men to do such things as that. Cereal-growers are limiting their acreages when the world is crying out for food because it is not not worth their while to grow and harvest as much as they could. The same remarks apply to the meat producers. Our kith and kin in Great Britain, who fought for six years to protect us, are in dire need of fats, but, because of the stupidity of the Government, the men who could, produce the wherewithal from which to produce those fats, will not produce it, because, if they did, they would penalize themselves. Yet, because the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has seen in his travels through country areas men driving motor cars, which is their right, and has to deal with correspondence from farmers asking for new tractors, he decries a desire to increase production. The only way in which to increase production not only by primary producers, but also by every manjack in the country, is to let those who produce retain more of what they earn by their brains and brawn. That applies to every one from the tradesman at the bench, who produces household needs, wire netting, fencing wire, and materials of all description required for the various works and services of Australia, right through the range of industrial effort. But every time the need for the application of that policy is mentioned, Ministers and private members on the Government side say that the policy would benefit men on the basic wage by only one penny a week. Can they not see that the men whom we really want to increase production are the men who do produce. If they produce more goods as the result of their being allowed to retain more of the money that they earn from their work, the men on the basic wage will benefit from the increased availability of goods, because, when plenty of goods are available, obviously they will be cheaper. Eventually, the indirect taxes that worry men earning low incomes would be reducible because of the wave of prosperity that would arise from increased production. The application of that policy would pay handsome dividends.
The honorable member for Wannon said that the Government needed its revenue from taxes to meet its commitments and that no other government has done as much as this one has done to reestablish ex-servicemen. To a degree 1 accept that statement.
– Hear, hear !
– Let the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction not pat himself on the back too soon. No government, regardless of its political colour, would be worthy to hold office if it could not build on the foundations laid after World War I.
– The honorable member for Hume is up against a man who went through the mill.
– Who is a political hypocrite.
– So long as I do not ‘ rat “ I shall be happy. The honorable member will receive his innuendo back with interest. I propose to make only a passing reference to this subject, but, after World War I., ex-servicemen were given £10 worth of tools of trade and allowed to finish apprenticeships at full rates of pay.
– Men did not get £5 a week on farms.
– I have not reached chat stage yet. The honorable member is interjecting from a seat other than his own, which is something that I would not be allowed to do.
– I was paid £3 a week by the Repatriation Department for three years while I completed my apprenticeship. After the second World War, ex-servicemen had to go through a lot of paraphernalia in order to qualify for that. To bring it closer to home, my brother was a trainee after the first World War, and he served for the three years of his training at a journeyman’s wages. [ admit that we did not have to go to a technical college all the week, as trainees have to do to-day. When present trainees reach 40 per cent, efficiency they go on to the job, but, unfortunately, at that stage they shall have had no practical experience. Yet they are paid a full journeyman’s wages. We were required by law to attend a technical college for one half-day a week. I was going to the technical college until the age of 22, when I finished my apprenticeship. I do not know whether what applied in Western Australia also applied to the other States in respect of men who went on to the land after the war of 1914-18, but men who. did go on the land in that State received their land at 50 per cent, of its value. The scheme broke down because such men could sell the properties on which they had settled. Che unfortunate people who bought such properties had to pay the inflated prices resulting from the sale of the same land three times within a short space of time. I intended to make only a passing reference to this matter, because I was dealing with the expenditure that has to be met from taxation. Any government, irrespective of its political colour, that could not evolve a satisfactory rehabilitation scheme on the set-up after World War II. has no right to call itself a government. No. great credit can be taken by the Government for the war service land settlement scheme, because very few ex-servicemen have so far been settled on the land. The failure of the scheme is due to the fact that it is administered by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, established at Canberra, which is a great stumbling block to its successful implementation.
– The Western Australian Government found it necessary to change its land settlement administration.
– Tha t was because the administration, which had functioned under a Labour government which had been in . office for fourteen years was proved to be hopelessly unsatisfactory. I agree with my leader and other honorable members on this side of the chamber that if a government reduces taxes by a considerable amount it continues to receive in the aggregate the same yield from the taxation field by reason of the consequential increase in production. Until this Government moves in thai direction all the drive it may exert for increased production will lead nowhere. At a time when the country is crying out for increased production it should appreciate this salient fact. Farmers throughout Australia can obtain neither galvanized iron nor fencing materials of any kind. 1 cannot help referring again to the wordy passage I had with the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) in connexion with barbed wire. I am still waiting for the honorable gentleman to obtain barbed wire from another country because I can sell it very readily at £3 a coil. Farmers are also unable to obtain their piping requirements. In Western Australia the development of vast areas is held up because of the inability of the Western Australian Government to obtain the necessary piping. The Western Australian Govern- ment has approved of vast schemes for the reticulation of water throughout the. farming areas, but it is unable to proceed with them because of the shortage of this essential requirement. Many people in Western Australia who are dissatisfied with the present position have asked trie to endeavour to obtain the figures relating’ to the quantities of piping allocated to ,the States and the quantity exported. In the first place, I was informed my the Division of Industrial Development that the relevant figures were unobtainable. When I approached the Minister on the subject, the honorable gentleman was unable to give rae the figures, but he told me that, under an arrangement with the manufacturers, 8.5 per cent, of the total Australian production was being allocated to Western Australia. Just imagine only 8.’5 per cent, of the total piping produced in Australia being allocated to Western Australia! That is distinctly unfair to a far-distant State which has so many works awaiting commencement, and which has suffered for so long because of its isolation from the main centres of production. I trust that my fellow members from Western Australia will support my request for an increased allocation of piping to Western Australia. When they know that only one-twelfth of the total Australian production is allocated to them is it any wonder that Western Australian farmers are annoyed and dismayed? They have every right to be disturbed.
Another unfair deal being handed out to Western Australia is in connexion with the allocation of lend-lease tractors from the United States of America. The latest shipment of these tractors has not yet arrived in this country, but we have been told that at the most Western Australia is to receive only 5 per cent, of the total number of 1,021. During the war Western Australia accepted, without question, the decision that the bulk of equipment and machinery coming to Australia under the lend-lease agreement should be concentrated in the eastern States because the greater number of troops and canneries were located there. We agreed that the Americans had every right to lay down these conditions and we willingly accepted them. As honorable members know, at one stage, reputedly on the score of the unavailability of tractors, Western Australian farmers were paid 12s. an acre not to grow wheat. The war has been over for almost three years and the final shipment of these tractors is due to be landed in this country, but because of the insistence of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Courtice) on the observance -of a war-time arrangement Western Australian producers are to continue to bte penalized. That arrangement should be immediately scrapped. Let us get down to a more equitable distribution basis. The Minister for Trade and Customs is being advised in this matter by a member of his staff, who has decided that the distribution scheme agreed upon during the war must continue to be observed. Only yesterday I received a letter from the honorable gentleman stating that he did not feel disposed to alter the allocation. Each of these tractors imported into Australia represents a certain amount of monetary gain to the people in the eastern States. The Minister is not big enough to say, as he should, “ This distribution is unfair to Western Australia, which throughout the war willingly agreed to scale down its demands as its contribution to the war effort Instead, the honorable gentleman has written to me repeatedly saying that he does not feel disposed to alter the- existing allocation. The people of Western Australia would be very grateful if they could . obtain even 30 or 40 additional tractors. The representative of the manufacturers had’ almost completed arrangements to divert an additional 38 tractors to Western Australia but could not finalize the matter without the consent of the Minister. When the Minister was approached for hie consent he refused it on the ground that the distributors would not voluntarily agree to an alteration of the basis of distribution. He refused to step in and vary it on his own authority. The honorable gentleman should be prepare( to give Western Australia a fair deal now, particularly as that State was forced to forgo its rightful allocation during the whole of the war period. The refusal of the distributors voluntarily to agree to a redistribution is easy to understand. Their attitude is dictated by the monetary gain which they will derive from the sale of these tractors in the eastern “ States. If the Government, which is supposed to treat each State fairly, will not grant the rightful claims of the States it deserves the castigation of this House. I trust that even at this late date the Minister for Works and Housing, whose constituents will derive the maximum benefit from an increased allocation to Western Australia because the tractors being imported are of a type most suitable for dairying and orchard work, will use his influence upon his colleagues in the Government to alter the decision. :Vo additional transport charge would be involved because the tractors are priced ‘ ships’ slings port of delivery “.
I propose now to refer briefly to the cartage of wheat to ports by road transport in order to expedite the fulfilment of United Kingdom and Indian wheat contracts. In Western Australia, motor trucks - of from 15 to 20 tons capacity are being used for transporting this wheat from the wheat-growing areas i<> the ports with the object of exporting as much as possible before the 1st August. The use of these heavy vehicles causes considerable damage to country roads. Who is paying for the additional cost of road transport? If the Australian Government is receiving additional payments from either the United Kingdom or I ndia on this account, a portion of that money should be handed over to the local governing bodies in payment for the damage caused to the roads.
When speaking in the debate on the International Wheat Agreement Bill recently, the Vice-President of the Executi ve Council (Mr. Scully) referred to the Farmers Union of Western Australia as a political organization. I trust that the honorable gentleman has since seen refutation of his statements in the press. The .Farmers Union of Western Australia is not and never was a political organization. “ Some time ago, the Primary Producers Association and the wheatgrowers organization amalgamated and formed the Farmers- Union. It was decided at the amalgamation that the assets of both organizations should be pooled. Newspapers had previously been published by both organizations, the Primary Producer, by the Primary Producers Association, and the Wheatgrower by the wheat-growers organization. It was decided at the amalgamation conference that these newspapers should be amalgamated, and that in future one newspaper to be called the Farmers Weekly should be printed by the new organization and circulated to every member. At the meeting of the trustees of the Wheatgrower after the amalgamation had been agreed upon it wa3 decided to dispose of the assets of that newspaper to the best advantage. The new organization, the Farmers Union, tendered for the purchase of those assets, but unfortunately was not successful in securing them. The successful tenderer was, I think J. R. Thomas and Company, of Perth, a company in which a gentleman named Pollock owned 6,001 of the total issue of 6,004 shares. Pollock received the quota of newsprint that had been formerly issued to the Wheatgrower I approached the Minister for Trade and Customs in an endeavour to have the newsprint quota handed over to the Farmers Weekly, and after some considerable time, and only as a sop, I was successful in securing an increased quota for that newspaper. Shortly afterwards the Wheatgrower, after publishing a statement in its issue of the 11th March that that would be its final issue, was given a new life. When the first bundles of the new issue were taken to the post office, the proprietor was told that they could not be accepted at the concessional rate of postage. The same information was given to him in respect of the second issue. When the postal officials in Western Australia refused to take the first and second bundles a letter was sent to Canberra and the PostmasterGeneral overrode his own regulations by allowing Pollock to obtain the benefit of the concessional postage rate for- a period of three months, conditional upon his obtaining the requisite number of bona fide subscribers to enable him to carry on.
– “What was wrong with that.
– That newspaper claimed that two political parties in Western Australia were responsible for bringing about an amalgamation of the two farmers’ organizations.
– What was wrong with that?
– An endeavour had been made for seventeen years to bring about that result. I am not worried about the matter that is printed in the newspaper. What I am concerned about is that the Postmaster-General should override a regulation - I believe that it is regulation 155 - which provides that the publisher of the newspaper shall not receive concessional rates of postage unless he has the requisite number of bona fide subscribers.
– Did the PostmasterGeneral approve?
– The PostmasterGeneral issued the instruction that the newspaper should be granted the concession knowing full well that this newspaper did not have the prescribed number of bona fide subscribers for entitlement to the concessional postage rate. I should also like to know whether it is possible for any member of the public to obtain from Commonwealth officials a complete list of registered wheat-growers throughout Australia, or whether the fact that a farmer registers himself with the Commonwealth authorities as a wheat-grower constitutes a contract between the Commonwealth and himself, and must not be disclosed. I shall ask a few more questions about this newspaper, because I am of opinion, and I do not hold it alone, that somebody has made a deliberate attempt to break up the new organization of farmers in Western Australia. As the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) knows, we have fought for this organization for seventeen long years. An attempt has been made to cut the ground from under its feet, first, by refusing the quota of newsprint, and secondly by the action of the Postmaster-General in conniving at a breach of the regulations in order to assist another individual to publish a newspaper. The Government should refrain from trying to break up organizations of primary producers.
– The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton) stated that I should be aware that for seventeen long years, Western Australian farmers fought for one organization. 3 am not aware of it. In Western Australia seventeen years ago, the only primary producers’ organization in existence had “political affiliations, and the honorable member for Swan was one of the early members of a breakaway organization. Indeed, he helped to create the second organization.
– I was never a member of the first organization.
– The honorable member helped to create the second organization. He said that I should know thar for seventeen long years, primary producers in Western Australia had fought for one organization. Yet the honorable member was, for a period, a member of the executive of the breakaway organization.
– Never !
– The honorable member held an official position in the second organization. He was a representative on one of the zone councils.
– Was the breakaway organization a bad one?
– Actually, it was a good organization. It broke away from the Australian Country party because of the conditions which that body imposed on farmers. The honorable member for Swan was one of those who helped to form a new industrial organization, known as the Wheat Growers Union, in order to escape from the domination of the Australian Country party. For years, the Wheat Growers Union has fought for existence against the financial backing of the people who have always financed the original organization, the Primary Producers Association. One of the early presidents of the Wheat Growers Union was Mr. I. J. Boyle, who, incidentally, was one of the founders of the Australian Wheat Growers Federation, which is still in existence. That brings me to the statement of the honorable member for Swan in reference to the acceptance of 6s. 3d. a bushel of wheat as the cost of production. The Australian Wheat Growers Federation has officially endorsed 6s. 3d. a bushel as the cost of production basis.
– There is a proviso.
– That is the basis of the cost of production for wheat. I come now to the Wheatgrower newspaper, to which the honorable member has referred. He stated that the journal has been purchased by a person named Thomas, who owns all the shares. Surely, he must have purchased the newspaper legally, and, therefore, he is entitled to the assets. What greater asset has any newspaper company to-day than its newsprint quota? That is basic and vital. I am examining the position only from that standpoint.
– Does the Minister agree with the action of the PostmasterGeneral in granting the concession?
– I am using the information which the honorable member has given to the House. It would have been morally wrong had a man, who had legally purchased a newspaper, been deprived of its greatest asset by a government official. That would have been an act of bureaucracy or dictatorship. The honorable member’s own argument has proved that the decision of the Minister for Trade and Customs was just and proper.
The honorable member for Swan described the Government’s referendum proposals as the final act of socialism. In my opinion, the greatest socialists in this country are the farmers, and I support them. For instance, they asked for the appointment of an egg board. Is not an egg board an example of pure socialism ? In practice, it abolishes the middleman, and establishes an organization which distributes eggs from the producer to the consumer. The object is to retain for the farmer the profits instead of allowing them to be retained by a section of the community which neither toils nor spins, and does not give any benefit to the industry. Primary producers also asked for the appointment of the Joint Organization for the wool industry on which Australia, United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand are represented. That is another act of socialism. The Victorian Farmers Union, which was the genesis of the Australian Country party in that State 35 years ago, had as its principal objective, a compulsory wheat pool. That is the greatest socialist step that has ever been taken in this country. Every producers’ board, including the Australian Barley Board and the Australian Dairy Produce Board, is 100 per cent, socialist. Therefore, the greatest advocates of socialism during the last twenty years have been none other than the primary producers, and their greatest friend has been the Australian Labour party.
According to the honorable member for Swan, all the moneys which the Government is holding for primary producers should be paid to them. He omitted to say what moneys he had in mind. In fact, he was not game to be specific, because like many other loose statements which members of the Opposition make, this one could not be substantiated. As the result of efficient handling by the Egg Board, we have made considerable profits, which are being returned to the respective State egg boards. Possibly, certain profits will be derived from the ultimate disposal of our wool. We hope that if the markets hold, there will be, but that is problematical. The whole of the profits which are due to this country from the sale of wool will be distributed among the woolgrowers. Before honorable members opposite make such bald statements as the honorable member for Swan has seen fit to make they should endeavour to ascertain the facte.
The honorable member referred to the position of butter producers who, he said, are receiving only 2s. per lb. for their product. I desire to place on record that this is the first time in the history of the butter industry that the producers have ever had a formula in relation to, and been guaranteed, the cost of production. Before the appointment of the Advisory Committee on Production Costs in the Dairying Industry, we were told that all the dairyfarmers were selling their product at a price substantially below the cost of production, and that they had lost their equity in their properties, and, indeed, the results of their life’s work. When the advisory committee began its inquiries, it elicited that the dairyfarmers’ equity was three times as much as the borrowed capital. However, they wanted the Government, and, therefore, the taxpayer, to guarantee a yield of 4 per cent, not only on the borrowed capital in their industry, which would be a reasonable proposition, but also on their estimated equity, or, in other words, three times as much as their borrowed capital. In our computation, we allowed 4$ per cent, on borrowed capital, and 3 per cent., which is the current rate of interest on Commonwealth loans, on all their estimated equity for the purpose of arriving at the cost of production of butter fat. That was most generous. Had we allowed 4£ per cent, on their estimated equity, it would have made the difference between the figures represented in the minority and the majority reports respectively.
The Government has been most generous in allowing 4£ per cent, on borrowed capital, and 3 per cent, on the equity which, the dairy-farmers claim, is three times as great as the borrowed capital. No other primary or secondary industry in Australia enjoys such favorable terms. In addition, the formula has been accepted, and between April and June each year, the committee assesses the cost of production for the twelve months period, and the Government’ guarantees to pay the price which is recommended. If an increase occurs in the basic costs of production, the dairyfarmer is protected in regard to it. Hitherto, he has never had any such protection. When the Curtin Government took office late in 1941, dairyforming was definitely a “ sweated “ industry, in which child labour was engaged. To-day, the industry pays a reasonable wage, and has a place in the sun in this great land. The improvement i? due to the sympathetic treatment which il has received from the Labour Government.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) and some other honorable members opposite, say that the Government claims to have placed all industries on a sound footing, whereas the truth is that any improvement of their conditions is due to high prices ruling in overseas markets. The real reason why primary producers are now on their feet is that this Government has maintained financial stability in Australia. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McBride) is interjecting. He is a director of one of the great Australian wool companies and should have some knowledge of the basic principles of economics. If, during the war, the Government had not pegged interest rates and wages and had not subsidized the production of superphosphate and other commodities that affect the cost of production of primary products, very few growers of wheat or wool would be in a good financial position to-day. The fitters and turners, engineers and other men in industry could have sold their services for £25, £30 or even £40 a week if the Government had not, in the national interest, pegged wages at. a certain level. Owing to those actions and others taken by the Government under the National Security (Economic Organization) Regulations, costs in Australia have risen by only approximately 48 per cent., the lowest of any country in the world. As a result, Australian primary producers have been able to buy on the basis of internal price levels which have risen by 48 per cent, and to sell on the basis of a rise in world price levels of approximately 200 per cent. That is the benefit that our primary producers have derived from the actions of this Government. It would be little advantage to them to be paid 18s. a bushel for wheat or 60d. or 90d. per lb. for wool if the cost of production of those commodities had been allowed to rise to the same extent as the prices they receive. Owing to the economic stability of Australia to-day, which was created by the actions of this Government, the farmers are in a good financial position, [f, when the war ended, government control of interest rates and of the prices at which land could he sold had been abandoned, the same boom conditions would have existed as were present in the 1890’s and the years following the conclusion of the 1914-18 war and the assets of primary producers would have been mortgaged to the hilt. By its efforts, however, this Government has created conditions in which the great mass of primary producers will be able to escape from the clutches of the banks and discharge their mortgages. The honorable member for Wakefield does not like that, because the company of which he is & member, like many other companies, thrives when the farmers are under a financial obligation to it. Companies such as that do not wish the farmers to be out of debt and to be their own masters. They desire to return to the state of affairs in which, owing to the operation of stock and station mortgages, a farmer is not free to sell his sheep, for instance, in the market of his own choice but is under an obligation to send them to a firm nominated for him and from which some big organization will receive a commission. Such firms want a hold over the farmer so that they may again dictate to him when he may sell and buy sheep. In those circumstances, they will be paid a commission on each transaction and every district manager will be able to produce to his “ boss “ in the city a balance sheet showing a substantial profit. The honorable member for Wakefield was able to pay to the shareholders of his company a good dividend derived from the people he is supposed to represent.
The honorable member for Swan spoke of what should be done to provide water reticulation, electric light and other amenities for farmers. I agree with his remarks and I hope that ultimately those facilities will be provided on a wide scale. I point out to the honorable member, however, that, these projects are essentially government enterprises, socialistic in character.
The provision of water reticulation and electricity supplies are State responsibilities. The Government recently made a gift of £2,500,000 to Western Australia for the purpose of a water reticulation scheme in agricultural areas. That is something that no other Australian government has ever done. Many years ago I read the reports of speeches made by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) in which he described how the government would harness rivers. When I entered the Parliament, I heard the right honorable gentleman making similar speeches. Why did he merely talk of those things at a time when lie was the Commonwealth Treasurer and when unlimited labour and materials were available? It was complete humbug. I am proud to say that this Government has made a start in that direction, and that it did not do so in the powerful States of New South Wales and Victoria from which it derives a great deal of its support. It did not indulge in political bribery in order to gain votes in those areas. The greater part of the area covered by the water reticulation scheme for which the sum of £2,500,000 was provided, is in the Swan electorate. The Government believed that the scheme would be of great advantage to the people living in the dry areas and that to achieve stability there would be beneficial to the whole of the nation.
The honorable member for Swan referred to the allocations to South Australia of iron, steel, piping and similar articles. He said the Western Australian members should rise up and demand an increase of the allocations to that State. It is’ a pity that the honorable member did not fully acquaint himself with the facts of the matter. The State quotas were agreed to unanimously by the State Premiers. The basis upon which allocations are made was not decided by this Government but by the Premiers. Furthermore, the allocations are made voluntarily. If a supplier such as Lysaghts Proprietary Limited or Broken Hill Company Proprietary Limited cared to decide that it would send its products to wherever it liked to send them, there is nothing to prevent that being done.
After the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers the suppliers suggested to the Australian Government that they should make available their monthly production sheets and that the Government should allocate the products on the basis of the quotas that were agreed by the Premiers of the States. They did that because they realized that it would save them much trouble and argument. Instead of having pressure put upon them to deliver 1 ton here or 50 tons there, they rid themselves of the problem of distribution and passed it on to the Australian Government, which now allocates the materials to the States. It is merely humbug for the honorable member for Swan to say that the Western Australian members should rise up and demand an increase of the Western Australian quotas. Those quotas were agreed to unanimously by the State Premiers, and if the suppliers refuse to co-operate no legal sanctions can be applied to them.
The honorable member referred also to the allocation of tractors and said that it was connected with the lend-lease agreement. That is nonsense. The allocation of tractors to the States is based on a decision taken at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers. The Premiers discussed the formula upon which the State quotas should be based and, having reached a decision upon it, requested the Australian Government to distribute supplies in accordance with it. Like many of the other statements made by the honorable gentleman, that statement was wrong.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) said that I knew little about the New South Wales Legislative Council. When I said that in the main it was a nominated body, the honorable member contended that it was an elected body. The members are elected at a joint meeting of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council. If I wanted to offer myself for election to the latter body, I could not do so unless I was nominated by a member of the New South Wales Parliament. Can it be said that the members of the New South Wales Legislative
Council are elected? It is humbug to say that they are. Prospective members require to be. nominated and when sufficient nominations have been received, thimembers of the two Houses of Parliament meet together and a ballot is conducted. Nobody can be said to be elected unless there is a free and open election on the basis of an adult franchise.
– The method of electing members of the New South Wales Legislative Council was endorsed at a referendum by the people of New South Wales
– The honorable member talked of the wheat industry and said it reached its lowest point of prosperity during the regime of the Scullin Government. That is completely untrue. The industry was at its lowest ebb in September 1939, when the Menzies Government was in power. At that time wheat was sold in Western Australia for us little as ls. a bushel. The Soullin Government introduced a bill to provide for a guaranteed price of 4s. a bushel, but it was defeated in the Senate by two Western Australian Country party senators. The next bill that the Scullin Government introduced provided for a guaranteed price of 3s. a bushel. That bill was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, but the Commonwealth Bank, which was then under the control of a board, the Governor having been dismissed and private bankers put in his place by the Bruce-Page Administration, informed the Government - and this demonstrates the financial dictatorship of the country that was in operation at thai time - that it would not honour the Government’s cheque and that therefore the guaranteed price could not be paid. In my opinion, that fact alone affords a justification for the Government’s action in introducing legislation to nationalize the banks. That was the position. The bankers were in complete control during that period and denied the right of this Parliament to say what legislation should be enacted. They said, “ We shall say what legislation may be put into effect and what may not, because we shall pay for that which we want and we shall not pay for that which we do not want”.
Those were the conditions to which the wheat-growers were subjected at that rime.
We have heard much criticism to-day about the Government’s financial policy. The honorable member for Maranoa said nhat the Government had left behind its administration a trail of misery. The fact is that Australia has never been better off than it is now. Full employment is now operating for the first time in its history. The yield from shares in secondary industries has never been higher and the position of the farmers has never been better than it is to-day. [t would seem that the only complaint against the Government by honorable members opposite is that it has been able not only to keep the country’s economy sound but also to present a balanced budget to the Parliament and the people. That is the proper thing for a government to do. When private industry is not spending, unemployment -begins to develop. It is then the responsibility of governments not to have balanced budgets, but to pump currency into the country for the purpose of taking up the slack and putting the people into employment. We had the stupid position in the last depression, of the banks telling governments that they had to balance their budgets. That is what the governments of that time should not have done.
– Who appointed Sir Robert Gibson to the board of the Commonwealth Bank?
– In the report of the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) said that when the price of primary products was high Australia should bring its currency back to sterling. The effect of such an action to-day would be to reduce the overseas receipts of primary producers by 25 per cent. If certain things happened in connexion with world currencies, and for some reason we were forced to revert to sterling, the honorable member would be one of the Government’s severest critics. He would say that it was robbing the farmer of 25 per cent. of the money due to him from the export of -his produce. The honorable member talks with half a dozen voices. The real criticism of the Government by members of the Opposition is that Australia came out of the recent war better than any other country, that the Government has kept Australia on an even financial keel, and that it has maintained the stability of it3 currency with greater efficiency than has been displayed by any other country.
, - I do not propose, at this late juncture, to attempt to answer the extravagant statements of the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon). I shall have said sufficient when I say that, in the opinion of members of the Opposition, he has evolved an entirely new definition of the word “ socialism “ when he asserts that farmers who desire to have boards and pools, together with co-operative control and ownership, associate themselves with socialism, which means State ownership and bureaucratic control of that ownership. Government members, including the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), point with pride to the fact that the budget for this year is likely to be balanced. I direct the Prime Minister’s attention to the fact that the budget can only be balanced and possess that mathematical proportion that it does, at the expense of every household budget in Australia. It must be recognized that governments do not make money. They collect money and governments like this Australian Government extravagantly spend it. Therefore the test of the value of a government is not the extent to which it can extract money from the citizens, but the extent to which it oan use. the products of the country to obtain a worthwhile return for every activity in the community whether it be governmental or civil. .The measuring stick of government administration, management and policy must be found in the quantum and in the barometer of production, and on that basis we find that the Commonwealth Statistician has given some appalling figures which up to the present have apparently been ignored by the Government. The Statistician’s figures show such a decline of productivity in Australia that one can only come to the very disquieting conclusion that this country has lost five years of its natural life. That being so, I say that the Government’s financial policy and everything associated with it clearly indicate its intention to implement the fundamental principles of its policy of socialization. Naturally, this gives no encouragement for national expansion by private enterprise or initiative. Funds which normally would be used in private ventures have no outlet except in Government loans or to meet the demands of heavy taxation. The Government must either undertake our future economic development or scrap its plans for socialization and allow private enterprise to assume its proper place. Consequently, there is a grave and urgent need for a national resources survey to balance our future needs with available and potential natural resources. This survey should proceed in two sections. The first should deal with the raw materials above and below the ground, and the second should be concerned with the land and its products. National assets cannot be measured in terms of the note issue. Buoyancy of revenue, cash in the Commonwealth Bank, and the total amount of money in circulation have ceased to be true measures of national wealth. The £1 note is now only a working symbol and the national wealth that really counts, that which makes the difference between prosperity and depression, is, first, the productivity of the soil, and, secondly, the raw materials available in and above the ground. .
There has been no adequate survey of Australian resources. Vast areas may provide buried treasure in large quantities if only the Government would make a thorough survey. Available ‘ raw material resources are fast running out and even reserves now in sight are limited. Materials with a strategic defence value, such as petroleum, lead, zinc and copper are scarce. A sound estimate should be made of our reserves of fifteen or twenty of the more important minerals, and the anticipated consumption rate should be ascertained. We can then concentrate on the items of which we have a potential supply for, say, a five year to a ten year period. Future methods of increasing them should be planned and surveys of new fields should be undertaken to discover new sources of supply. Within the next twenty years, there will be great industrial expansion with an increasing demand for motive power for industry. This can come from (1) coal and shale, (2) petroleum, (3) uranium and thorium, and (4) hydroelectric installations.
I shall deal with those sources of motive power in the order in which 1 mentioned them. First, it is obvious thai coal production over recent years leaves much to be desired. According to the Commonwealth Statistician, our production of black coal for 1947 of 14,437,000 tons, is about half a million tons below the 1943 production. An Australian survey might disclose more large open-cut coal areas which could be worked economically to boost output. Queensland has concluded an agreement with a technical service for a complete survey of that State’s coal resources and for the drawing up of recommendations for their most efficient, development. This survey should not be confined to Queensland. It should embrace the whole of the Australian continent and it should include a survey of potential resources of oil-bearing shale as well. Secondly, one-third of motive power in the United States of America is provided by petroleum. Proved petroleum reserves in the United States of America guarantee a supply for about the next fifteen years. Although sporadic attempts have been made in the past to discover petroleum in Australia and adjacent islands, no real effort has been made to explore the continent from north to south and from east to west to discover an adequate petroleum supply. Liquid fuel production could be boosted by the hydrogenation of coal, if sufficient reserves could be mined for that purpose. New methods of extracting oil from shale might also increase supplies. Thirdly, in the last few years, mineral sand deposits on our eastern coast from Southport to Byron Bay have opened up a new era in mining. So far, the discovered deposits extend through a mere 100 odd miles of coastline and a more thorough survey might disclose vast quantities elsewhere in Australia. “We now provide the hulk of the world’s supply of zircon and, at the same time, we are building up reserves of thorium metal which serves the same purpose as uranium in the manufacture of atomic energy.
Sitting suspended from 11. to il.SO p.m.
– It seems likely that, within the measurable future, atomic energy will leave the laboratory for the factory, and it may supply power for major industrial enterprises. Thorium is one of the sources of atomic energy, and it possesses a great advantage over uranium in that it is much cheaper to produce. The Government should make an immediate survey in an endeavour to discover further deposits of thorium so that a stock pile may be built up for future use.
A fourth source of power is hydroelectricity. Two years ago, I suggested that the Government should invite the chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority to come to Australia to survey its hydro-electric resources on a national scale. The provision of electric current on farms would enable production to be increased, and great national benefit would accrue if hydro-electric schemes were linked with projects for water conservation and the prevention of soil erosion.
However, motive power is of little use unless there is a plentiful supply of raw materials to process. There is no cause for satisfaction regarding the quantity of minerals at present being produced in Australia. All the evidence points to the fact that mineral production has declined side by side with other forms of primary production. It is of no use for the Government to pretend that Australia is more prosperous under its administration than ever before. The true test of prosperity is to be found in the quality and quantity of production. Gold production has fallen rapidly from 1,600,000 fine oz. in 1939 to 900,000 fine oz. in 1947. Everyone should be able to appreciate the value of gold production to Australia, particularly at the present time. This phase of the matter was discussed competently by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) to-night. Gold mining has come to the economic rescue of Australia before, and it could be made to do so again. It is the best way to bring about decentralization of population.
Last year, 1,140,000 tons of pig iron was produced, which was 400,000 tons less than in 1942. The production of copper declined from 28,000 tons in 1944 to 17,000 tons in 1947, and whilst more than 15,000,000 oz. of silver was produced in 1939, only 9,500,000 oz. was produced last year. There has been a sharp decline in the production of tin, the quantity being 3,500 tons in 1941, and only 2/100 tons in 1947. The production of lead declined from 289,000 tons in 1941 to 196,600 tons last year.
Next to the United States of America and Canada, Australia is the largest producer of zinc ore in the world, our output being 6,300,000 tons up to the end of 1945. However, production declined from 248,000 tons of zinc in 1941 to 182,000 tons in 1947, which was 10,000 tons less than for the previous year. Most of our lead and zinc is obtained by open-cut mining at Mount Isa, in Queensland, but other areas, as yet unsurveyed: might have similar geological formations, and might increase our production of those minerals many times.
Among the newer metals are aluminium, produced from bauxite, and magnesium, which in some countries is produced from sea water. During the war, a survey of bauxite deposits was made in Australia, but there are other deposits yet to be prospected, and these should be developed; especially as the Government proposes to persist with its aluminium project in Tasmania. The decline of mineral production is so marked that it emphasizes the need for a national survey to discover alternative sources of supply. The figures I have cited are not mine, but those of the Commonwealth Statistician. It is of no use for the Government to point with pride to the fact that the national wealth, measured in bank notes, treasury-bills and bonds amounts to so much for they do not constitute the wealth of the country, nor do they promote its economic welfare at home or abroad. The Government has paid no regard whatever to the productive capacity and the economic requirements of the country. If its members had devoted to the economic welfare of Australia only a fraction of the time and energy they have spent on schemes of so-called social welfare and the implementation of their social services programme, we should have been in an infinitely better position. The statistics which I have quoted furnish a damning indictment of the impotence and recklessness of the Government as the trustees of the nation’s welfare.
Australia has vast mineral resources which have not yet been tapped, and the decline of mineral production is an unhealthy sign, of which serious notice must be taken. Indications of the existence of valuable mineral resources have been found in central and northern Australia. An adequate survey of those resources should have been made so that Australia’s production of mineral wealth can be restored, and even extended.
The second important source of national wealth is to be found above the ground because Australia’s economic welfare depends largely on the products of the soil. It must be remembered that by comparison with the other nations of the world this country is only in its infancy. The Government must realize that no nation can remain static; it must either progress or retrogress. When the record of the Government is reviewed in the light of that fundamental truth we find that not only is it pursuing a retrogressive policy, but also it is actually retarding the primary production of Australia. It is idle for members of the Government to speak of “ balanced budgets “ and to use similar catch-cries for the basis of all prosperity rests on the productive capacity of the country, I have previously quoted official statistics to show the extent of the appalling decline which has taken place in the stable industries of the nation.
In the past, wool has been the mainstay of Australia’s international financial stability, but now we find that there hat been a decline of 44 per cent, in the production of medium quality wool. Production of that class of wool fell from 1,800,000 bales in 1940-41 te 1,000,000 bales in 1946-47. That should be sufficient indication of the trend of out economy and it is a fact which cannot be disregarded by a responsible government. Although it might be argued that returns are high in terms of bank notes, the real measure of production is to be found in the quantum of goods produced. The present high price of wool is due to tinoperation of conditions abroad over which the Government of this island continent has no control whatever. Therefore, the Government misleads itself, and seeks to mislead the people, when it evaluates the production of our various stable industries in terms of financial returns Because of the serious decline of production disclosed by the statistics which 1 have mentioned it is obvious that the Government should take immediate remedial action. For many years before the war. wool provided much more than one-third of the total value of Australia’s exported merchandise. Wheat and flour provided approximately 15 per cent., dairy produce nearly 10 per cent, and meat furnished approximately 8 per cent, of our exports. The instances of the depletion of our national resources which I have quoted emphasize the need for making an exhaustive survey of our national resources to be followed by appropriate remedial measures.
Spasmodic attempts have been made to introduce schemes of re-afforestation, but to-day the construction of houses is seriously impeded by the scarcity of timber. Many millions of superficial feet of priceless timber were destroyed in the early years of this country’s settlement, and no real attempt has been made to replant our forests. I emphasize that those which still remain are the only source of timber for the immediate and future requirements of the country. A survey should be made of our timber requirements for the ensuing decades, and re-afforestation schemes in accordance with our potential needs should be implemented in suitable areas.
Planned conservation of national resources could be achieved more effectively if an efficient survey of national resources were made. It has been claimed that we are only six inches from starvation, and that the world is completely dependent upon the half-foot of fertile top soil which provides the productive land. As the result of a survey which was made by the United States Department of Agriculture it was estimated that 85 per cent, of American high-class crop land requires protection from soil erosion. Partial surveys made in Queensland indicate the existence of a similar state of affairs. Of course, the situation which exists in Queensland may be accentuated by the succession of swiftly following coastal streams which run from the dividing range to the sea, which result in considerable erosion of soil. The present disastrous floods in the valleys of the Tweed, Richmond and Clarence rivers are sweeping away thousands of tons of the best top soil of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, yet nothing ha3 been done to conserve that valuable soil or the millions of gallons of water which flow into the sea. Millions of tons of top soil are blown away every year and the acreage of first-class land which is rendered useless is appalling. Although there is a soil conservation committee of sorts operating in Australia, the problem has not been tackled on the national scale that it warrants. Soil erosion is linked with water conservation, which is, in turn, related to the establishment of hydro-electric schemes. These three kindred matters would form part of a complete survey, designed, not only to protect and preserve the fertile lands which we already occupy, but also to discover new areas for closer settlement.
The National Government is collecting more revenue than ever before. The citizens of Australia are paying large amounts in taxes to the Treasury. They are subscribing their surplus cash to security loans. There is no outlet for their initiative except through the planned action of the socialized National
Government. Socialization has brought the Government new responsibilities which, if not shouldered, will react to the economic detriment of the nation.
It has been announced that we intend to attract 10,000,000 migrants to our shores. How can we offer a living to millions of people unless we know our actual and potential resources? We do not know now what we have to offer or whether we can support an extra 10,000,000, 20,000,000 or 50,000,00G people. We are a, mere handful oi 7,000,000 in possession of the fifth continent. Its resources are virtually untapped and its potential capacity for supporting a large nation has not been explored. In these circumstances, it is virtually necessary to institute an immediate, comprehensive survey of every aspect of our potentialities to which I have mentioned in the course of this speech. Such a survey must be nation-wide, and only the National Government can institute it on that comprehensive basis.
I desire now to say something about the dairying industry, if only to combat the exaggerated claims of the Government about what it has done for that industry. The industry shows an appalling decline of production at a time when production should be increasing in order to provide for ourselves, our kith and kin in Great Britain, and the starving millions of the world. Undeniable facts concerning the declining production of the dairying industry which the Government cannot explain away are: (1) The large numbers of farmers who have been driven out of the industry; (2) the serious decline of dairy cattle through dispersal of dairy herds, sales of dairy cattle to meat works, &c; (3) the serious downward trend of butter and whole milk production; (4) the small” number of ex-servicemen who have returned to dairy farming; and (5) the serious decline of butter exports.. Every one of those factors has caused untold damage to the industry, and the main reason for them is the discouragement caused by unpayable prices for butter. The advisory committee on production costs in the dairying industry has recently made * close survey of production costs on Australian dairy farms. The representatives of the industry on that body were practical and responsible men who considered every reasonable aspect of the industry, but the report is not a true reflection of the state of the industry, because -the public servants representing the Government on the committee failed to, follow the example of the practical men with whom they were associated. After a careful examination of the report, I have reached the conclusion that its basic principles of costing are astray in several respects. The representatives of the industry showed their sense of responsibility by recommending a minimum payment of 2s. l£d. per lb. for butter fat. Evidence that the industry did not receive a fair deal from the Government’s representatives is provided by the fact that they recommended the payment of 2s. per lb., one penny-halfpenny less than was recommended by the practical representatives of the industry. The first respect in which the basic principles of costing are astray is that the capital values for farms are taken from Commonwealth or State sources as the current valuations under present conditions. In a period of high inflation, such artificial values are ridiculously low and consequently completely artificial for costing purposes. Such a conclusion is clearly borne out by an analysis of results on page 14 of the report. The analysed results indicate that the lower the cost of production is, the larger is the size of the average herd, and the larger is the average yield per cow. Parma which support large herds on small acreages, giving high average yields per cow, would not be disposed of by their owners at the low official valuation figures. Yet these are the very farms in the middle groups selected as an average for all farms. The low cost of production on these farms is not a true standard because, first, the real capital value at current rates would be much higher than the official value allowed in the survey,
Mid, secondly, the figures are weighted against the average farmer because a more-than-average number of these betterthanaverage farms is included in those chosen for costing. For instance, while a few farms were excluded where the cost was less than 10½d. per lb., due possibly to high income from other sources, a large number of farms where the costs were greater than 2s. 4-Jd. per lb. were rejected because the costs were alleged to be too uneconomic. Secondly, no penalty rates for overtime work were included in respect of the farmer-owner, or any member of the family, over ten years of age, participating in the work of the farm. Again, no penalty rates were allowed, for labour supplied under usual sharefarming agreements. Whilst there might be a certain counter-balancing item with respect to income from sidelines, which was not taken into account, it is inequitable that one system of costing should be applied to other industries and a les? favorable system applied to the dairying industry. The wharf labourer gets his appearance money and double and treble rate for week-end and holiday work. The seaman gets his danger money and his penalty rates. Surely it is equally just, that the labour of a child of eleven years working on a dairy farm should also be costed at penalty rates for week-end and holiday work. Thirdly, the information given in table 1 of the report clearly indicates that a little over one-third of the 1,000 farms surveyed are being carried on by over-worked family labour. In other words, the farms concerned could not possibly provide award rates for families, let alone penalty rates, with a butter return of 2s. per lb. The costing system adopted with respect to table 1 completely excludes any managerial allowance, any interest paid by farmers on borrowed capital, and any interest on farmers’ equity. In this group, 165 out of 293 farms surveyed in Queensland, or about 44 per cent., are either run at a loss or conducted with low-cost, longhour, non-award-rate family labour. Fourthly, the reliance on low-cost family labour for the support of the dairying industry is even more marked if table 2 of the report be analysed. Besides the usual costs allowed, that table also includes managerial allowance, interest on borrowed capital and interest on farmers’ equity. The table shows that under these conditions, 56 per cent, of farms surveyed either operate at an economic loss, or make up the difference through the employment of family labour, at lowerthanaward rates. In Queensland, more than two out of every three farms surveyed, or 68 per cent., were in this category.
In the summary of class characteristics given in table 3, the cost of production on some farms in the survey was 2s. 9d. per lb. of butter. Of that amount, the cost of family labour accounted for 2s. 2d. In other words, if the families employed on such farms had been given award rates for their labour, even though no penalty rates were included, the labour cost would have amounted to 2d. per lb. more than the amount the Government has decreed as the fair return per lb. to the farmer for his butter. Table 4 gives a summary of the costs incurred in producing butter and side lines of the composite farm. This representative farm is regarded as supporting 50 cows, using just over two male adults or equivalent labour, and producing 196 lb. of commercial butter per cow per annum. The net total cost of butter works out at approximately 2s. lid. per lb. Family labour accounts for 41.4 per cent, of the cost and hired labour for only 6.2 per cent. It is an obvious conclusion that, even with a return of 2s. per lb. the average farm could scarcely afford to pay for hired labour at award rates, instead, reliance has to be placed on family labour or the farm becomes an unsound economic proposition.
The majority recommendation of the committee indicated that during the period of the survey various factors prevented normal expenditure on general farm maintenance. The survey concluded that the result was a progressive depreciation of farm buildings, fences, machinery and pastures, in many cases not immediately reflected in lower production. In other words, the capital cost of the farms surveyed would be valued lower because of the poor condition of improvements generally. Yet, if money had been expended on these improvements, there would have been a doubly advantageous effect for the farmer in the costing system adopted. For example, the capital cost would have been put at a higher rate if the improvements had been in better condition and a proportion of the expense of effecting these improvements would also have been allowed as part of the cost of production. In a great number of cases, the liquid position of farmers has improved, because they have been prevented by shortages, &c, from making normal expenditure on general farm maintenance. This is purely a realization in cash of part of their capital assets and should not, in any sense, be regarded as income. The survey has not made due allowance for this absorption of capital in the costing system adopted by it.
The recommendations supported by four public servants on the committee concluded that climatic conditions were more than normally unfavourable in northern New South Wales and particularly in Queensland in the survey period, 1941-42 to 1945-46. I have been able to obtain a table of the rainfall at Warwick, one of the most important centres of dairying on the rich Darling Downs of Queensland. It indicates that the rainfall for 1942 was 38.48 inches, or about 1_ inches less than the rainfall in the year of the most disastrous floods Southern Queensland ever experienced, namely, 1893. The rainfall for the succeeding years was 29 inches, 27 inches, 26 inches, 29 inches and, finally, 33 inches in 1947. [Extension of time granted.] Therefore., in considering the advisory committee’s recommendations, it is appropriate thai I should call attention to the way in which the Government ignored the recommendations of practical men in favour of four of its own employees. The Government was anxious to keep dark the fact that it had rejected the recommendations of men experienced in the industry and with a full appreciation of the economic factors affecting those engaged ia it. In considering the position of those engaged in the industry, the appalling decline in production must be taken into account. Figures which I shall quote, and which have been supplied by th« Commonwealth Statistician, reveal ar alarming state of affairs. However, the Government has not given this situation anything like the sympathetic consideration it has extended to matters in which the interests of its industrialist masters are involved. In fact, the Government’s whole approach to the problems of the dairy farmer has been both unsympathetic and unpractical.
In the early stages of the war, the Government was warned of the difficulties that would confront the industry unless it accepted the advice of men with firsthand practical knowledge. Notwithstanding this, it became panicky, removed men from. dairy farms, and put them into the Army and Civil Constructional Corps, regardless of whether such posts were more or less important than their services on the food production front. When farmers protested, their applications for releases and for more labour were rejected. In the Department of Information publication, Facts and Figures, for June, 1947, it is officially admitted that the decline of production was due partly to the drain on man-power for the defence services. Because of the Labour Government’s lack of sympathy, production costs increased sharply, there were shortages of essential materials, and butter prices were unprofitable. Realizing the impossibility of carrying on, many dairy farmers got out of the industry. Dairy herds were sold. Good dairy cattle were slaughtered. Where three or four men were previously employed, aged people had to endeavour to carry on. The disastrous consequences of the Government’s policy are reflected in the following figures of the Commonwealth Statistician, which must be regarded as authentic. The number of dairy cows in milk in Australia in 1946-47 was 373,6S5 fewer than in 1938-39, while the total number of dairy cows was 196,378 fewer than in the pre-war year. Since March, 1943, when the numbers of dairy cattle reached almost 5,000,000, there has been a continuous downward movement. By March, 1944, the numbers had dropped by 84,000, or 1.7 per cent. By March. 1945, there had been a further decrease of about 99,000, or 2 per cent, followed by a decline of 206,000, or 4.3 per cent, by March, 1946. In March, 1947, the latest date for which detailed Statistician’s figures are available, the number.were lower than in the previous year in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. The decline in Queensland was very severe, totalling 110,600, or 7.7 per cent. In addition, there was a substantial decrease of the number of dairy cows recorded as being in milk and in their proportion to total dairy cows. Milk production dropped from 1,189,174, gallons in 1938-39 to 1,061,301 gallons in 1946-47, a decrease of 127,873 gallons. If there were 200,000 fewer dairy cows to be milked there must obviously have been less milk produced, the quantity being indicated by the figures I have cited. In 1946-47 production fell by 16,200,000 gallons, or by 1.5 per cent, as compared with the previous year. While production increased considerably in Victoria, there was a substantial decline in Queensland of 64,500,000 gallons and in New South Wales of 29,200,000 gallons. The total production of butter in 1946-47 was 143,312 tons, or 60,1S8 tons less than in 1938-39. The figures for 1946-47 represented a decrease of 7,000 tons, or 4.7 per cent., on the production basis of the previous year, and 60,000 tons, or 30 per cent., on the basis of the average annual production for the three years ended June, 1941. Production in 1946-47 was only slightly in excess of the 142,000 tons produced in 1944-45, which was the lowest recorded since 1929-30. As regards exports, the total exports of butter in 1946-47 amounted to approximately 60,400 tons, as compared with 62,000 tons in 1945-46, and the record shipment of 117,500 tons in 1939-40.
– Not at all. There have been cycles of droughts. The figures take in all factors. There have always been recurring droughts. Average exports during the five pre-war years ended 1938-39 amounted to 96,100 tons. In 193S-39 alone they totalled 102,481 tons, so that the 1946-47 figure was 42,093 tons less than in that year.
The Commonwealth Statistician shows that exports of butter to the United Kingdom decreased from 96,S98 tons in I93S-39 to 52,072 tons in 1946-47, while in 1944-45 the figure was as low as 3 6,832 tons. Is it any wonder that this primary producing country should have to resort to the rationing of butter to its own inhabitants? The picture I have given demonstrates in no uncertain way that on account of the appalling conditions to which the dairying industry has been allowed to drift by this Government not only have we had to ration ourselves, but also we have not been able to honour the contracts entered into with the United Kingdom Government for the supply of butter and we have not been able to take advantage, as we should have done, of the markets that unfortunate World conditions to-day have opened up for us. From whatever angle the searchlight of investigation be thrown on this great industry it is apparent that this Government . has been guilty of gross neglect. Either the Government does not realize the problems that confront it or, if it does, it callously neglects them.
Thursday, 17 June 19k8.
– In a most extraordinary outburst the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) made statements a little earlier to-night of a kind that we do not expect to hear from a Minister of the Crown who has open to him all available sources of information. [ need not traverse his statements about the dairying industry, because they have been very effectively answered by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). There are one or two other matters upon which I propose, however, to comment. The first is the very caustic remarks made by the Minister about certain wool and stockbroking firms and their treatment of their clients over the years. It will be recalled that the Minister said that as .producers were now in a much better financial position they were no longer dependent upon and did not patronise these firms. Unfortunately many of the clients of such firms are not in the good position that the Minister would have us believe them to be in. Temporarily, their bank balances may be very much better than they were in years gone by, but after the tax gatherer has been around their accounts present a very different picture. Many of them who believe that they were improving their financial position have found to their regret that such was not the case.
My other comment is that if what the Minister said with respect to primary producers in Western Australia be correct, it is curious that at a time when they were free to decide with whom they would do business the organizations which he criticized so harshly have never had a larger clientele and have never handled so great a volume of produce as they do at present. The producers having made that choice when they were fretto do so must be accepted as the best judges of the treatment which those organizations meted out to them in the past. Although the Minister spoke at length and made many wild statements he was significantly silent with respect to the results achieved by the department which he administers. He was reported on one occasion to have said that within two years the Government would overtake the lag in housing. If that report was correct, I have never heard a more ridiculous statement attributed to a responsible person. It is clear now that the Government’s housing programme is not going ahead as satisfactorily as the Government planned, or in a way which meets with the approval of the thousands of people who are looking for homes. That fact is borne out by a memorandum which the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) recently circulated among honorable members. In it the Minister presented an apologia explaining why exservice personnel being trained under the reconstruction training scheme were not entering the building trades. He went, to some pains to show why those trainees could not be , absorbed in the building industry. In his memorandum, he stated -
Unfortunately, however the training rate has outstripped the advance in materials production, with the result that there is a real danger of the factors of labour and materials becoming out of balance.
In other words, sufficient materials are not available to permit of the absorption of those trainees in the building industry. The Minister continued - 1 must state, however, that there is no suggestion that there is any change in the Government’s aim to increase building output (including houses) to the level mentioned. This is essential if -the people of Australia are to be adequately housed.
Then, offering final confirmation of the futility of the Government’s efforts to increase production generally and to meet the demand for housing, the Minister presented figures comparing the average monthly production during the fourth quarter of 1947 with the average monthly production in 1939 when according to honorable members opposite the government of the day neglected to push on with the construction of houses and thereby left the present shortage as a legacy to its successors. Taking an index figure of 100 to represent average monthly production in 1939, the index figures for monthly production in the fourth quarter of 1947 are given as fol lows : -
After two and a half years of peace and infinite planning on the part of the Government, we are now informed of this sorry result. That is why the Minister, while he was prepared to talk so glibly about the failure of managements not under his control, was so silent when dealing with affairs for which he is responsible. In that respect he followed the example set by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) in this chamber last week when, concluding the debate on the Appropriation Bill, he made the extraordinary statement that in spite of all the criticism levelled against the Government the people of Australia should be particularly pleased with its record. The right honorable gentleman went on to say that it was greatly to the credit of the Government that the budget had been balanced for the current financial year. I do not agree that the people will derive very much pleasure from that fact, because I have vivid recollections that although the British Government balanced its budget last year the people of the Mother Country were not at all pleased with the conditions under which they were obliged to live. The Prime Minister boasted about the results achieved by the Government during its period of office. He said that its main aim was to render every possible assistance to Great Britain in its hour of dire need. In speaking in that strain he expressed the sentiments of the Australian people, but the fact remains that the Government has rendered very little real help to the Old Country. I shall not traverse the. details; they have been stated and restated in the course of this debate. The fact is that we are now producing less than we did before the war of some of the important products which Great Britain new’ desperately needs. Honorable members on this side of the chamber have presented figures indicating a deplorable decline on the production of butter,’ beef, veal., mutton, lamb, wool, and other commodities which Great Britain urgently needs at present. Indeed, the Government has failed to such a degree to render help to the Old Country that it has been obliged to look elsewhere for supplies of commodities which we have failed to make available. Only recently.. Great Britain made a long-term agreement with Argentina for the supply of such foodstuffs. In order to finance the purchase of those commodities, Great Britain was obliged to sell British-owned railways in Argentina to the Government of that country at a price which was sufficient to meet only one quarter of British commitments under that trade contract. The Prime Minister has repeated in this House the statement he made outside during, the recent referendum campaign that Australia is behind Great Britain and is determined to help the Mother Country; but the Government has failed to live up to that promise. We have heard a great deal about its responsibility to help war-devastated countries and about what the United States of Amercia is proposing to do under the Marshall aid plan. T realize that the ‘amount of aid which is to be granted under the Marshall plan is not yet definite, but for the purpose of illustration I shall take the original allotment which was made but which has not yet been approved by Congress. Certain, reductions may be made. Under the Marshall plan, the American taxpayers will render asistance to the war-devastated countries of Europe and the East for a period of four- years. The total amount involved is £ A.5,134,000,000. The value of goods and services allocated for the first year is. £A.1,640,000,000. If America has a. responsibility to assist the war-devastated countries.,. Australia has at least a similar responsibility, particularly to the United Kingdom. Relating the Marshall aid programme to what may reasonably be expected of Australia, I find that we should render aid amounting to £S0,000,000 in the next twelve months. I have not yet heard the, Prime Minister or any other Minister announce that the Government proposes’ to grant aid on anything like that scale. So far as members of the Opposition know, the Government does not. inrtend: to provide, any free- aid, or a long-term loan. The only assistance of that, character which Australiahas rendered. to Great Britain was- the gift of £25,000000 last year. However, that was only a cross entry, because Australia did not contribute one additional pound of butter or meat, or one extra bale of wool or bag of wheat. Since then, the Government has been peculiarly silent on aid to Great Britain. From time to time, we hear sneering remarks, particularly from the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, and some other Ministers, when we speak about the prices which we are receiving for our primary products sold in overseas markets.
Any aid which is to be rendered by Australia to the United Kingdom or any other country is not a matter for individual industries or sections of the community. It is a national responsibility.
The aid which the United States will render to the war devastated countries will not be drawn from individual industries. The goods and services will be purchased in the normal way by the Govern-1 ment of the United States of America. The payment will be made by the American taxpayers. We in Australia expect a definite pronouncement from the Prime Minister or the Minister in charge of the department which would render similar aid,, on the Government’s intentions regarding assistance for Great ‘Britain. The Australian people desire that this country shall pull its weight in the reconstruction period, and they are disappointed, even disgusted, with the lack of. progress. The statement made by the Prime Minister last week left me entirely unmoved. It was one of the suave approaches that he usually makes. He expressed sentiments which he knows will find a response in the hearts of the Australian people, but he is doing very little to- give practical effect to them..
Question resolved” in the affirmative..
Bill read a second time..
In committee :
Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.
That the schedule be considered by departs ments.
Proposed votes - Parliament, £126,910 ; Prime Minister’s Department, £972,810 - agreed to.
Department oe External. Affairs.
Proposed vote, £3S2,430.
– At this juncture there is no occasion for the committee to engage in a general debate, on the proposed vote of £382,430 for the Department of External Affairs, but before the Parliament adjourns, the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) should give to honorable members an assurance that they will have an opportunity to discuss the subject of external affairs in detail. Now,
L propose to refer to certain matters which are causing me great concern. The waterside workers have decided to impose a ban on the loading of ships for Greece. For nearly three years, a disgraceful situation has existed in Australia. A handful of Communist-led waterside workers have dictated to the Government and the people what our relations should be towards the Netherlands East Indies. The facts are so well known that I need not repeat them. They are a disgrace to Australia, and I have no doubt that they were a vital factor in causing the people to show their disapproval of the Government’s policy by rejecting its referendum proposals recently. The waterside workers now propose to ban the loading of vessels leaving for Greece. Before the committee grants Supply, the Government should indicate the attitude that it proposes to adopt in this new situation. Is its policy as feeble and as thoroughly discreditable as it was in regard to the ban on the loading of Dutch ships? This matter cannot be allowed to rest until the position has been clarified. The Government either controls the affairs of this country, or has abdicated to a handful of Communist-led waterside workers. A situation that is completely intolerable has been reached. I believe that no other country in the world would for one moment put up with what we are putting up with at this juncture, and I know of no Minister in any other responsible government in the world who would, for a moment, stand for what the industrial saboteurs and information wreckers are doing in this country. Therefore, I believe that the committee should insist upon some decision being made by the Minister, some declaration of policy, some show of strength with regard to this matter, before there is any granting of Supply.
There is another and more current matter which is causing me some concern. It deals with a drive that is being made in almost every country in the world by the communist forces. For example in Europe we see to-day that the Russians have tightened their control of Berlin by restricting schedules of German passenger trains bound for the west.
That restriction, says a correspondent,, will give the Russians effective control of Berlin even during the nominal FourPower rule. We have found recently that the International Committee for the Study of European Questions has stated that the Western Powers have received a report that Russia is planning to invade France, Italy, and Scandanavia. The Minister said he would prefer to accept the reports of other authorities than the international committee, because it had not the status of the other expert* who had made similar reports. It is a» international committee, and I assure that it has a certain status. It is a voluntary committee, but it must be taken into consideration that it is a body of experts. The correspondent I havequoted said -
The blue-print of the invasion is so detailedthat it is believed that is was deliberately allowed to fall into Western hands to createa. fear complex leading to appeasement ana agreement in Russian favour.
The committee reports that Russia is mass-producing bomber and fighter aircraft, and is estimated to have 12,000 of such planes. It states also that the Russian and satellite armies in Eastern Europe number about 2,000,000 men. and that Russia has the largest submarine fleet in the world comprising about 2,000 vessels. The International Committee for the Study of International Questions, notwithstanding that it is a voluntary organization, is an influential body, and the report referred to is signed by members of a body that is generally understood to represent a body of seventeen experts in international affairs.
That statement or report has been confirmed from other sources, and other countries have made some comments in regard to it. For example, President Truman is reported to have said that the United States of America has challenged Russia to prove its desire foi peace by ceasing its coercive and agressive tactics. It appears that President Truman is quite prepared to accept the suggestion that this plan was allowed to fall into the hands of the Western Powers because it constituted an act of coercion and intimidation. The Deputy Chief of the British Air Staff said -
We have to get our air force cracking pretty quickly to stop our potential enemy, Russia.
The Chief of the General Staff, Field Marshal Lord Montgomery, is reported to have said -
If we could get the British Empire to speak with one voice we could see everybody off.
That is the burden of ray song to-day. We are one part of the British Empire and it seems to me that we should at least try to be in step with the rest of the Empire so that it will speak with one voice against the common enemy. However, we find that the policy pursued, by this Government is one of appeasement. f.t is a policy which allows these nation wreckers within our country almost to take complete control of our approach to foreign affairs problems. There are certain countries in the world which are prepared to walk away from any challenge which may be levelled against them.
At this stage I. wish only to give a thumb-nail sketch of the matters which should concern us, and which closely affect our well-being. In Malaya, according to the High Commissioner, Sir Edward Gent, measures are being taken to smash the wave of violence sweeping over the country. At the present there are 23 strikes in progress, which are backed by intimidation and threats of murder. He said that government action would be directed against all agents instigating crime, whether they were self-confessed Communists or supporters of other groups. Whilst in Malaya some definite action is being taken, we in Australia are taking no action. In Burma, there is a similar state of affairs which is attributed by some people to a soft policy having developed since the days of Lord Mountbatten, resulting in almost every portion of Burma being influenced by Communist forces.
This morning I asked the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) a question relative to the position in Greece which must cause great concern. I propose to read A letter which was forwarded to me, and on which I based by question this morning, because the appeal which is contained in that letter is something which, in my opinion, should stir the heart of every mother and father in Australia. I for one realize the value of the Greek nation to the democracies and the advancement of the modern world, and cannot do other than sympathize with it? people in their troubles. This letter, which I believe is one of two letter.which has been sent to the Minister foi External Affairs, contains a list of 37 Greek women’s organizations. With the consent of the committee, I shall incorporate the letter in Hansard. It reads -
TO ALL THE FREE MOTHERS OP THI WORLD.
Only a short time ago we wrote you about the abduction and abuse of the girls of Epirus. and now again we come to protest, with all the force of which we are capable, against a new tyranny. They are taking our children boys and girls, from all those districts whore they have the power to do so, and transporting; them to enemy countries, where they will be instructed in the ideas and ways of Communism. Imagine if you can, your three-yea old child being torn from your’ arms, or yOU son of fourteen disappearing on his way to school, never to be heard of again. This i> what is happening in Greece, in this, the twentieth century.
A radio broadcast from Belgrade on March 3rd stated quite frankly that they were preparing to receive some 80,000 Greek children, plans having been formed by the Balkan Youth Organization at its meeting at Belgrade for their care and education. Well do we know what this means. Mothers of a froe world, who know what it is to love and t’. suffer help us, for we can bear no more.
The Women’s Organizations of Greece.
.National Federation of Greek Women (and its 70 member associations).
Lyceum Club of Greek Women (and iteleven branches in the provinces).
Greek Women Guides.
Association of Greek University Women
Association for Women’s Rights.
“Friends of the Police of Athens.”
National Association of Greek Women <>t Egypt.
Educational Club of Women of Patras.
“The Dodecanasean Bee.”
National Orphanage of Victims of War.
Philanthropic Society of Women.
Women’s section of Democratic and Socialistic Youth.
” Union “ National, Educations Club of Kaissariani. 15.” Love “ Association of Women of Losbos.
Association for the Protection of Children.
Philanthropic Association “Ste” Parakevi of Nafpactos.
Association for the Care ofMinors.
Association of Greek Women of Patissia.
Association of Ladies “The True Vineyard “.
Philanthropic Society of Andros Women in Piracus.
Association of Intellectual Women of Dodecanese.’
” Amalieion “ Orphanage.
Educational Society of Women.
Club of Needlework Women.
Club for the Child’s Clothing.
Graduates’ Club for Educational Society,
Association for the Protection of Crippled Children.
Association of Greek Women for Old People’s and Poor People’s Asylums.
Association of Young Girls Home.
Asylum, of St. George of Jannina.
Association for the Education of Women.
National Society for Children’s Housing.
“Greek House” School of Prof. Housekeeping.
Association for Protection of Children of Victims of War.
Home for the Young Girl “St. Alexander” in Old Phaliron.
The mothers of Greece, one of the greatest democracies that the world has ever seen,and an ally of ours, make this appeal. Their children are being taken from them in pursuance of the technique of abducting the children of a nation, indoctrinating them with the Communist philosophy, and sending them back to their homeland to form the nucleus of a new Communist regime there. In Australia, the Communists have taken over the Teachers Federation so that they can instil their ideas into the minds of the youth of this country. Another example of the technique is to be found in the Eureka Youth League. Wherever Communists are, they will endeavour to spread their doctrines amongst the youth of that country.
Before Supply is granted to this department, I feel it is encumbent upon me to draw attention to the fact that the Government has repeatedly failed to accept the Communists’ challenge to its internal and external policy, and has resisted the pressure that has been brought to bear upon it by honorable members on this side of the House in an attempt to force it to do so. It has ignored appeals by other countries. It has permitted Communist representatives to proceed overseas so that they may represent Australian trade union organizations at international conferences. It has allowed the movement from Australia to Czechoslovakia and other countries of representatives of Communist youth organizations, who return more fully indoctrinated with Communist ideas.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I concur with the remarks of the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) with regard to Australia’s f oreign policy and the administration of the Department of External Affairs. It is disturbing to members of the Parliament and to the people of Australia to find that the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) is so often absent from this country, playing his part on the world stage, and at the same time failing to play his part on the Australian stage. For many months Australia’s foreign policy in relation to the Netherlands East Indies has been shaped not by the Parliament or the Minister, but by the Waterside Workers Federation, which is led by the Communist, Mr. Healy. The policy of the Communist party of Australia is changed almost from day to day in accordance with the instructions that it receives from overseas. I asked a question in the House to-day with regard to Mr. Rupert Lockwood, the editor of the Tribune and a well known Communist in Australia. He speaks in the Domain on the Communist platform. It has been stated that the Government has given him a passport, and it is reported that he is going to Yugoslavia to attend a meeting of the Cominform. Communists, including the leaders of powerful trade unions such as the Waterside Workers Federation go abroad, and the foreign policy of this country is determined by instructions that they receive while away. Accordingly, for some years our policy towards the Netherlands East Indies was made by the Waterside Workers Federation and not by the Parliament.
It is not long since this House rang with praise for the fight of the Greek people against the Italian and German invaders. Members of every political party in Australia praised their magnificent support of the Allied cause and the great sacrifices the Greeks made. Now Greek children are being seized by guerrilla forces which are intimately connected with the Communist- dominated States of Jugoslavia and Bulgaria. The children are seized in Greek territory and taken over the border, where they are held so that they may be indoctrinated with Communist ideals. Greece is a free nation with which we have maintained the closest relations for over a century. Therefore, our policy in relation to it should not be shaped by the Waterside Workers Federation, whose members will not now allow Greek ships to be loaded or unloaded in Australian ports. Shipping is one of the most important of the Greek industries. The Acting Leader of the Opposition was fully justified in raising the question of the determination of Australian foreign policy, not by the Parliament or by the Minister for External Affairs, but by a body that is controlled by an organization which has underground contacts with the Communists of Russia.
Recent press reports have referred to the great deterioration of the international situation that has occurred. When I asked the Minister to-day whether any communications had been received from overseas with regard to the deterioration of relations between the Soviet and the democracies and referred to the report of the Committee for the Study of European Questions, I received a weak reply. The right honorable gentleman said that nobody knew better than I did that those matters could not be discussed in public. In my opinion, the sooner the public realizes that such a deterioration has occurred, the sooner it will force the Minister to come down from the fence on which he is now sitting and say whether he is on the side of the democracies or of the Communists. The right honorable gentleman attempted to belittle the work of the Committee for the Study, of European Questions, which has submitted a report on the increasing strength of the Russian army, air force and submarine fleet. One member of that committee. Professor Oliphant, was one of the Government’s advisers on atomic warfare and guided weapons. He is held in the highest esteem and has repeatedly been praised by the Government, but now that he has appended his signature to thi? report the Government is prepared to disown him. Another member of the committee was Lord Vansittart, whose warnings of the Hitler menace prior to the last war proved to be thoroughly justified. He has a great knowledge of the ways of dictators. The Minister says that this committee is only an advisory body, and has no real status; yet it includes some of the most famous names in the world to-day - names of men who are completely familiar with the international situation, and who know very much about .the position inside Europe to-day. An excellent article was published recently in the April issue of the National Review. It was written by Jules Menken, and was entitled Strategy after Czechoslovalsia. The article indicates the parts of the world on which Russia is exercising pressure to-day. They include Finland, Greece, Azerbaijan, Persia, Sinkiang. towards Peking in China, and Korea. We are informed that the settlement of north and south Korea has been completely wrecked by the activities of Soviet Russia. The Russians are waging “ cold “ warfare in this country. They are emasculating production. They are inter’fering with our international trade, and smashing our good relations with other nations. They have reduced the production of coal to such a low level that most of our big industries, and our railways, have only two or three days’ supply. Yet the Minister soars all over the world like a glorious bird, changing his plumage at will, too disinterested to look after the (tff airs of bis own country, including its foreign policy and its security. I was amazed when the Minister said that on defence the British Empire spoke with a united voice. It is hard to reconcile that statement with what was said within the last week by Field Marshal Lord Montgomery. There is an obligation upon the Minister to say whether the Empire does in fact speak with a united voice on defence matters, and whether Field Marshal Lord Montgomery was speaking the truth. In view of the serious deterioration in the international situation in the last couple of weeks the Minister should make a full statement to the House indicating what action he intends to take to ensure that government policy shall remain in the hands of the elected representatives of the people instead of permitting a continuance of the present disgraceful state of affairs in which this policy is dictated by the “Waterside Workers Federation and by other Communist-dominated organizations on instructions received from the Cominform. The Minister cannot dodge that issue. He must face it. He must state whether this Parliament is to govern Australia, or whether he is content to continue to wear the winkers which apparently hide from his sight those individuals in the community who to-day are the real government and are gravely prejudicing the safety and security of this nation.
– I rise to order. I should like your ruling, Mr. Temporary Chairman, as to whether honorable members are entitled only to two separate periods of a quarter of an hour on the whole of the Estimates. In other words, having discussed the abstract, are we precluded from dealing with the items individually?
– Honorable members are entitled to two quarter-hour periods in respect of the vote for each department.
.Largely because I have not had an oportunity to speak in the debate on international affairs, I should like to address a few remarks to the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) on that subject now. The main point I wish to make is this : At no stage does it appear that the Minister has devoted sufficient time to matters which are of great and direct importance to the future of this country. It is all very well for the right honorable gentleman to go gallivanting around the world as the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) has said, but the object of our foreign policy is not merely to build up the personal prestige of the Minister or that of his department. On occasions such as this,. we should remind ourselves of the major objectives of our foreign policy. The first of these is to keep this country out of future wars, and the second, to preserve our national policies, particularly the White Australia policy. I claim that in both these respects, the foreign policy of Australia in the last few years has shown a sad deterioration. I should like therefore to make a few remarks on matters which are very near home.
It is regrettable that the Minister has not made a clear statement on the course of events in Japan. Obviously, the United States of America is pursuing a policy which may build up the strength of that country so that in the not distant” future it may become a most formidable power. Unfortunately, we are not able to comment upon this development, because the Minister for External Affairs has not told us the facts behind events in Japan to-day. I ask him now whether he will tell us what has induced the United States of America to adopt its present policy towards Japan. What is the Minister’s view of that policy, and why has he not explained il to the House? Why did the Minister go to Japan last year with one set of ideas, and return home with a completely different set, whilst offering no explanation of the change? These matters have been glossed over by the Minister. After all, Australia is vitally concerned with Japan. We fought against the Japanese not many years ago. Australians died fighting the Japanese, and the people of this country are entitled to know what is going on in Japan to-day. If Japan is being built up, what is .the reason ?
The Minister could also have spoken of the tremendous growth of the influence of communism and of Russia itself in Asiatic countries including Korea, and Malaya in the last, few years. Those countries are not far from our shores, and the growth of communism in them cannot fail to have an effect upon us. It would have been far more to the point if the Minister had told us something about these matters instead of meddling with the Palestine situation. I do not propose to deal with that matter at very great length, but there have been unfortunate reactions’ to the so-called solution of the problem. In the first place, the finding of the Palestine Committee was one of the most impractical, foolish, and irresponsible decisions ever made by an international body. The committee arrived at a highly controversial finding, but did not recommend any steps for enforcing that finding. It knew nothing whatever of the geography, racial history or anything else about the country. The result was that the entire country was plunged into war and its innocent inhabitants, both Arabs and Jews, have been subjected to the horrors - and they are horrors - of an Eastern war in which neither side shows any mercy. The committee did not recommend any steps to protect these people from the consequences of the fighting which its finding was bound to cause. What did the Minister for External Affairs do? After all he was the one who was primarily responsible for this result. Did he get up and say the whole thing was an unfortunate mistake and that he’ did not know what he was talking about? He did not; far from it. He had the audacity to come into this House some months ago and say that the whole thing was due to the fact that Great Britain had not told him when it was proposed that the British forces should evacuate Palestine.
– I said nothing of the kind.
– The right honorable member did say so. He complained that the British authorities had not informed him of the time at which they proposed to withdraw the British forces. But after all - and we cannot overlook this - who were the people who benefited from this unfortunate handling of the Palestine situation? It is unfortunate that in thi.matter as in many other matters in which the right honorable member has been concerned, the only people who can possibly benefit from anarchy, misery and bloodshed, are, of course, .those whose philosophy thrives in unsettled conditions. 1 refer to the Russians. It must have pleased the Russian leaders very much to see the conditions which have been created in Palestine at the present time largely through the findings of this committee, and it is worth noting, although I dc not say that the Minister works with any sympathy for Russia, that hi.actions overseas on behalf of Australia not only in Palestine but also in South Korea, South-west Africa and Indonesia, have found favour in Russian eyes. Thai is something honorable members cannot overlook, and it seems to me something that the Minister should explain.
Another matter with which I shall deal briefly, is the lack of consideration which the Government, and particularly the Minister for External Affairs, gives to any suggestion emanating from members of the Opposition. Thai attitude of the Government is having unfortunate results in the foreign policy of this country, or will have over :i period of years. We are coming to the stage when there is definitely a Labor party foreign policy and also a Liberal and Country party foreign policy. No country can afford to have two separate foreign policies, one of which will b< operate for three, six of ten years, to be followed by the adoption of a radically different outlook when a change of government takes place. Foreign policy should be beyond political party differences, and there should be continuity in its operation. In this connexion I commend to the Minister the setting up of an all-party committee which will continue to function and inform the House on matters of foreign policy irrespective of what government may be in office. Unless the Parliament institutes such a committee, Australia will follow widely divergent policies every time it experiences a change of government. There is a wide divergence of opinion on foreign policy on both sides of the House, it is quite apparent that at the present time there is no real. unanimity among Government supporters themselves. That state of affairs is inexcusable. After all, the Australian Government spends enormous amounts of money sending goodwill and other missions to various Asiatic countries, but what is the use of doing that when the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) conducts his department in such a way as to give offence to friendly peoples and also indulges in such pleasantries as “two Wongs don’t make a White”. How can that possibly be reconciled with the goodwill mission to Asiatic countries and other missions which the Government has sent overseas? It is undeniable that the Department of External Affairs includes :i number of very highly trained men who ure in every respect a credit to this country and would be a credit to any country. It is useless to have those men preparing reports which nobody except rite Minister for External Affairs himself has an opportunity to read. This Government must institute a committee to leal with foreign affairs if Australia is to obtain full value for the expenditure on the Department of External Affairs. Such a committee would be able to study reports in exactly the same way as does ihe Foreign Affairs Committee of the American House of Representatives, and would give continuity to Australia’s foreign policy as well as provide information of a reliable nature for the consideration of honorable members.
– The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) has raised some important points. Though some honorable members may not agree with his observations, he has suggested some important chapter headings for discussion on foreign policy.
Before I deal with some of the matters to which he referred I shall refer to what the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) stated. He quoted the usual slogan that in some respects the foreign policy of the Government is dictated by the Waterside Workers’ Federation. Let honorable members examine what truth there is in that observation. In what way is the Government foreign policy dictated by a trade union because that union refuses - and this is the substance of what the honorable member says - or because its members refuse to handle certain cargoes destined for a particular country, in this case the Netherlands East Indies ? Such action on the part of trade unionists has always been deprecated by the Government. They have been persisted in by the organization referred to for far too long, but they are being brought to a close as a recent announcement by the Netherlands Minister to Australia disclosed. That development is largely a result of intervention by the Australian Government. What have the actions of those unionists to do with the foreign policy of the Government? It is perfectly true that they placed an impediment on Australia’s relations with the Netherlands East Indies, but I ask honorable members of the committee not to use the foolish slogan that a trade union in any way determines the foreign policy of the Australian Government. The union’s actions were to some degree an obstruction to the foreign policy of the Government and the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has been steadily opposed to such action. For honorable members to say that a union dictates the Government’s foreign policy is simply to ignore the truth of the situation. Our relations with the Netherlands Government are not controlled by a tradeunion organization and similar unionmoves in regard to Greece also would constitute no interference to our relations with that country. At the same time, the Prime Minister said this morning, an. attempt by the Seamen’s Union to express its opinion of a foreign government with which we have friendly relations by preventing ships trading to that country cannot be approved by the Government,, and must be resisted.
– Cannot the Government rake action?
– The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has raised this matter a number of times, but he has never indicated what action can be taken. There are great difficulties in the way of .taking punitive action. The Government has tried to remove the cause of the hold-up by conciliatory process. I wish to make it clear that, in the case of both Indonesia and Greece, attempts of the kind described are absolutely opposed to the best interests of Australia, just as any hold-up of internal production is opposed to the best interests of Australia when we have a system of conciliation and arbitration. An attempt to exert political pressure is even worse than an attempt to exert industrial pressure. 11 propose now to deal broadly with the observations of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett). He complained that departmental reports were not made available to honorable members. They are available, except, of course, confidential reports. Before the opening of the last debate on international affairs, a document of about 240 pages, in which !very aspect of the international situation was discussed, was presented to the House, but the only response of some honorable members was to sneer at the work of the officers of the department, and to complain of the expense involved. The truth is that the officers of my department, on every occasion when there has been a debate on foreign affairs, have regarded themselves as officers of the Parliament, and not merely as officers of the department. I invite honorable members to compare the six or seven years since I have administered the affairs of the Department of External Affairs with the corresponding period before I took charge, and pass a fair judgment. F ask honorable members ito compare the debates on international affairs during those first six or seven years, which included the Munich Pact, with the systematic way in which matters affecting our external relations have been brought to the attention of the Parliament during the regimes of the Curtin and Chifley Governments. To a large extent Australia had no foreignpolicy before the Curtin Government took office.
– Nonsense !
– It is true. In the course of the debates on foreign affairs which have taken place during every session of the Parliament during recent years, there has been a gradual approximation between the views of the Government and the Opposition.
– I do not agree.
– The honorable member may not agree, but during a recent debate the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) declared that there was a much greater area of agreement between the Government and the Opposition than he had previously thought possible. That brings us to the point made by the honorable member for Henty, that foreign affairs should be regarded as something outside parties. It is true that the power of Australia is limited, and that physical power is, to some extent, a determinant of foreign policy, but the contribution which Australia made towards the gaining of victory in the second world war entitles ns to express our views in an attempt to prevent another world war, and to achieve a peace based on justice. One cannot state the first proposition more narrowly than that, and when it is stated broadly it must command the support of every one. During the last debate, it became evident that there were six or seven general propositions which were not controverted. It is true that the day-to-day application of principles becomes a matter of great difficulty, and in a particular instance it may be disputed whether a principle has been carried into effect. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) made a point of our relations with the United Kingdom. That is a matter of supreme importance. The nature of the British Commonwealth is changing before our very eyes. The Government of ‘Great Britain has adopted a policy towards India and the East generally which has changed the status of India, Pakistan and Ceylon from that of a developed colony to one of complete autonomy. It has also resulted in the addition of a number of countries to the British Commonwealth, but there are acute differences between some of those countries. India and South Africa are in the keenest conflict over the treatment of Indians in South Africa. On the other hand, relations between the Governments of Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain have perhaps never been closer.
– That is not saying much these days.
– It is saying a great deal. The stream of communications between those governments is continuous. For the one matter upon which there are differences of opinion there are a hundred upon which there is complete agreement.
– What about Canada?
– Canada is the senior dominion, but its relations with the British Commonwealth are not so close as those between Australia and New Zealand. Canada has been faced with difficulties at Imperial conferences. Its view, as stated by Mr. McKenzie King, on many occasions, is against making commitments in time of peace, because, in time of emergency, they might he prevented, from taking such action as it took during the last war. There are special difficulties in South Africa, and also in India. Reference has been made to Soviet Russia, but it is not true that there is any pro-Russian leaning in the foreign policy of the Australian Government. As a matter of fact,’ during the first two or three years of the United Nations it was Australia who controverted the Russian claim for an absolute veto on all matters within the province of the Security Council of the United Nations. Australia received very iittle support from many other nations at that, time, although it is realized now that the existence of the veto power is probably a prime defect in the United Nations.
– -There is no intention to remove it!
– The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McBride) has obviously not studied the documents which have been circulated. I do not mind taking the trouble to prepare a document of 240 pages on international affairs and I do not mind if the honorable member does not read it; but when he asserts that nothing is being done he simply displays his ignorance. Australia has taken positive action to modify the veto power, and what the United States is trying to do to-day we were attempting to do two or three years ago. The attitude adopted by the United States of America to-day proves that the action which we took so much earlier was sound. Our attitude was that the United Nation? should be organized democratically. The exercise of the unrestricted veto is opposed to democratic ideals. Russia has exercised that power more often than all the other member nations of the Security Council taken together. Certainly, no one country should be allowed an unrestricted veto. Reference to Hansard discloses that continuous criticism has been levelled at the Government and ai myself because we did not accept the veto. Honorable members have asked such questions as, “ What is the use of opposing it?” “What would that accomplish ?” That was the argument.
– What has the Government accomplished in international affairs?
– It has accomplished « great deal, and I point out that the veto power is now exercised with much les? frequency than it was twelve or eighteen months ago. Even the justification foi the exercise of such a power is being studied by a special committee of the United Nations which will report to the full meeting of the Assembly. I mention Australia’s action in regard to the exercise of the power of veto as one illustration of our activities, but many mortcould be given. At the Paris Peace Conference, Australia advanced the view that the only method of satisfactorily settling international disputes was on thibasis of a just settlement, and that view has been gradually accepted.
I propose to deal with the matters mentioned by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), and I believe that
L can satisfy the committee that he was completely wrong and misinformed in regard to each of those matters. He asked why I had not explained the situation in Japan to the Parliament, but the Government’s view of the Japanese situation is contained in the statement on international affairs which was Tab led in the Parliament.
– “Why has the right honorable gentleman changed his mind regarding Japan ?
– Obviously, the honorable member for Wakefield has not read the statement. Our policy in regard to Japan has not changed. The broad policy intended to be followed towards that country is set out in the terms of armistice, but the application of that policy has caused considerable difficulty. In the course of his speech the honorable member for Henty referred to a question which he had asked concerning J apan, and I propose to repeat the substance of the answer which I gave him. He asked, why such emphasis had been placed on the rebuilding of Japan and is economy. In my view the desire to reconstruct the Japanese economy is a by-product of the tense relationships which exist between the United States of America and Russia. Several missions of an economic nature, including the Draper mission and one of military character, have been sent to Japan by the United States of America. It is clear that although that country agreed two years ago that no Japanese’ industry which could be used for purposes of war should be rehabilitated, such policy is undergoing modification. I repeat that the reason for the change in that policy lies in the strained relationships existing between the United States of America and Russia. It is believed in certain quarters in the United States of America that Japan may be come an important factor in the event of conflict between the United States of America and Soviet Russia. Of course, the adoption of such a policy may result in the creation of a potential menace to Pacific countries including Australia. A somewhat similar policy was pursued in relation to Germany after World War I., and the adoption of that policy resulted in Germany becoming a menace to the democracies, and contributed to World War II. The rehabilitation of Japanese war potential constitutes a danger to Australia, a view which is shared by all members of the British Commonwealth who are members of the Far-Eastern Commission in Washington, and also by the members who attended the conference held in Canberra last year. I emphasize that Australia’s policy in regard to Japan has not undergone any marked change, although it must be noted that the policy adopted by the United States of America seems to be a by-product of the deterioration of relations between that country and Russia.
The honorable member also referred to Malaya. Recent happenings in that country afford another illustration of the damage caused by criticism in this country of the Government’s policy which although enunciated in good faith is liable to be misunderstood abroad. The mission which went to the Far-East for a specific purpose was publically criticized in Australia before it left* this country. It was suggested that the Government’s policy was inconsistent, in that, on the one hand, we were endeavouring to foster goodwill between this country and other Eastern countries, whilst, on the other hand, we adhered to our settled policy of a “ White Australia “. Why should such criticism have been uttered? Australia’s immigration policy is well understood in other Pacific countries, and it is equally accepted that it is the duty of the Government to encourage the development of friendly relationships between this country and other Pacific countries. Yet, when the Government attempts to develop friendly relationships with other Pacific countries it is criticized on the ground that such a policy is inconsistent with the maintenance of a “ White Australia “ I say that there is no inconsistency involved, and but for the criticism of the Government uttered in thi? country, which was reprinted abroad,, there would not have been any trouble. Of that I am quite certain.
– Can the right honorable gentleman explain why Mr. MacDonald, the British representative in Malaya, criticized the Australian Government ?
-Something which was published in Australia suggested that Mr. MacDonald had made that criticism, but the publication was never authenticated. Good . relationships between countries have to be deliberately cultivated, and that is often difficult, particularly when our motives are misrepresented and misconstrued, as they were in this case.
– Will the right honorable gentleman tell us something of the situation in Palestine?
– I am obliged to the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) for reminding me. After twenty years’ occupation of Palestine, in the course of which Great Britain contributed materially to the development of that country, the British Government made a supreme effort to obtain terms of settlement to resolve the differences .between the Arabs and the Jews. Despite the labours of many committees and commissions which visited Palestine and reviewed the whole situation in that country, the British Government -was unable to bring about a settlement of the differences between the two peoples, and it decided to leave Palestine and request the United Nations Assembly to endeavour to find a solution of the problem. The situation in that country was considered by the Assembly of the United Nations last year, and that body sent a special commission to Palestine to explore the possibilities of settlement at the cost of millions of dollars. Ultimately, it furnished a majority report which recommended, first, partition of Palestine between the Arabs and the Jews, which are small nations;, secondly, the formation of an economic union; and thirdly, the establishment of a special trusteeship for Jerusalem and Bethlehem. That was the solution offered by the special commission to the Assembly.
– Why did it not adopt the British federal plan?
– Because the federal plan, which was the alternative plan, was not supported by any delegation at the United Nations. Under the federal plan, there would have been one government and complete domination of the popular assembly by the majority of the population of the whole area, which consists of Arabs. The majority of the committee reported ‘against it, and it was not supported by any delegation. Al Lake Success, the United Kingdom adopted its consistent attitude of neutrality and offered no view as to which solution should be adopted, and the British Dominions there represented - Canada. Australia, New Zealand and South Africa - on the facts and evidence, supported the majority report reached by the independent investigation. The honorable member for Henty suggested that that led to fighting. It did nothing of the kind. I submit that, with the British going out and a vacuum having to be filled, the probabilities of warfare were there from the beginning. The Assembly offered that solution to the Security Council. I thought then and still think that it was a just solution in principle. What has happened since ha? not broken down the validity of thai principle at all. The position to-day, with the truce negotiated so carefully and skilfully between the Arabs and the Jews, is that, the Jews are in possession of most of their territory and a little extra, and the Arabs most of theirs and a little extra. There the position stands. It is not necessary to debate that further. .Do honorable members suggest that oh these questions Australia at international conferences i* not to express its opinion as to what is a just solution ? I am sure that honorable members would not agree with that.
– The opinion that was expressed on behalf of Australia was not expressed as the result of a debate in this Parliament.
– We cannot always have a preliminary debate in this Parliament. In no parliament is that possible. The debates in this Parliament in the last six or seven years have been more numerous and have, in principle, covered the whole ground of international relations, and, if one refers to speeches made by honorable gentlemen opposite, one finds that except for a certain amount of carping criticism, sometimes quite unjustified, they adopt the same principles as those upon which the Government has acted.
That brings me finally to the suggestion of a joint committee. There is no such committee in Great Britain. In a House of 74 members, which is a small membership, the House itself is, after all, the proper body. It is the committee of the whole, and it has discussed these matters. When the House is enlarged, it may be a different matter, but, in the Mother of Parliaments, with all its experience of foreign and international affairs, it has not been found desirable to have such a committee as has been suggested here, and the analogy of the United States of America is not very sound.
– Neither Canada nor the United States of America has a peace committee like ours.
– Whatdoes the honorable member mean?
– We have a committee consisting partly of members of the Parliament and partly of people dragged from the Lord only knows where.
– Many others know where; they are selected from all Australia. They are representative of all interests. They represent ex-servicemen, the churches, experts in the Far East-
– It is only a stall committee.
– It is nothing of the kind. The honorable member does an injustice to his colleagues serving on it.
– We are the representatives of the people.
– Members of the Parliament are also members of the committee.
– Who picked the members of the Parliament serving on the committee?
– I have nothing to apologise for in the handling of these matters. The principles have been laid down. I submit that they are sound principles. Criticisms of them when they are analysed are found to be utterly unsound. I submit that the status of Australia in international affairs and international conferences is worthy of Australia. Honorable members opposite would do Australia a greater service by recognizing that fact - and a great many of them do recognize it.
The following papers were presented : -
Canned Fruits Export Control Act Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, No. 64.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Postmaster-General - M. L. Mundy.
Works and Housing - F. J. Buchanan,
J. H. Utting, P. R. Windsor.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, No.65.
Quarantine Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, No. 63.
House adjourned at 1.48 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Fuel has supplied the following information: -
e asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Will he supply the following: - (a) A list of the awards of ‘ the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in which wage increases were approved by conciliation commissioners appointed under the 1947 amending act, since that act came into force on the 10th October, 1947; (6) the amount of wage increases so approved under each award, an”d (c) the name of each conciliation commissioner approving of each such award.
– The information will be obtained and a reply furnished to the honorable member as soon as practicable.
t asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has supplied the following information : -
y. - I refer to the question asked by the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Sheehy), on the 2nd June, with respect to the establishment and the powers and functions of the Joint Coal Board. Further to my reply on that occasion I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following additional information: -
The powers and functions of the board include the taking of such action as, in the opinion of the board, is necessary or desirable to- (a) ensure that coal is produced in the State of New South Wales in such quantities and with such regularity as will meet require ments throughout Australia and in trade with other countries; (6) ensure that the coal resources of the State are served, developed, worked and used to the best advantage in the public interest; (o) ensure that the coal produced in the State is distributed and used in such manner, quantities, classes and grades, and at such places as are calculated best to serve the public interest and secure the economic use of coal and the maintenance of essential services and industrial activities; and (<Z) promote the welfare of workers engaged in the coal industry in the State. The board was constituted as from 1st March, 1947.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 June 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1948/19480616_reps_18_197/>.