House of Representatives
15 September 1948

18th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr. Deputy SPEAKER (Mr. J. J. Clark) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Mr. HOWSE (through Mr, Spender) presented a petition from certain members of the Wellington and Orange branches of the Original Invalid and Old-age Pensioners’ Association of Australia, praying the Parliament of the Commonwealth to Bet up a competent tribunal to determine a pension rate to bo adjusted quarterly in accordance with the cost-of-living, and to discontinue the means test.

Petition received and read.

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– I desire to make a personal explanation. I claim that I was misrepresented in this House last Friday by the Prime Minister, that such misrepresentation was repeated in the Daily Mirror of the 10th September, that further misrepresentation was made by Mr. J. T. Walton, chairman of directors of. Metropolitan Portland Cement Limited, as reported in the Sydney Sun of the 10th September, and that the misrepresentation waa again repeated -in the Sydney Daily Telegraph on the 11th September. The misrepresentation arises out of the charges which I made last week regarding Metropolitan Cement Limited and Metropolitan Portland Cement Limited, and the allocation of 1,189,110 dollars to the former company. The Prime Minister is reported as having said that he “ had no doubt that Mr. Abbott’s charges had been prompted by vested interests “. That statement was repeated in the Sydney Sun and the Daily Mirror, and Mr. J. T. Walton is reported by the

Sun of the 10th September as haying said -

The charges of corruption made by Mr. Abbott were a bitter attempt by the cement combine to kill a rival company at birth.

The statements made by the Prime Minister and Mr. J. T. Walton are completely untrue. My charges were not prompted by any vested interests at all, and I propose to prove that they were not. “On the 17th June last I asked a question of the ‘ Prime Minister regarding the provision of over 1,000,000 dollars to an Australian company for tho purchase in the United States of plant to be re-erected in Australia for the manufacture of a commodity which was alleged to be in short supply here. I inquired whether that shortage was due to lack of coal. I referred to the urgent requirements of primary producers for increased imports of tractors and asked the right honorable gentleman to consider refusing release of the dollars asked for. I did not mention the name of the company, but I did refer to the shortage of tractors, which’ is a burning question in the rural districts of Australia to-day. It is a problem that must be solved if the food required by the world is to be produced.


-The honorable member must confine his. remarks to a, personal explanation.


– I was prompted to take the action, that I took because of the differential treatment that was meted out to a Mr. Campion.


– Order ! The honorable gentleman is entitled only to deal with the alleged misrepresentation.


– I considered that there had been differential treatment and, because of that, I was prompted to investigate this matter in order to see what was taking place. In his reply to me on the 17 th June, the Prime Minister stated that he would furnish me with a written reply to my question^ and he repeated that promise in a discussion that ensued after- . wards. Shortly afterwards the right honorable gentleman left for England, and on the 27th July, upon his return, from overseas, I wrote to him in the following terms.’ -

In your reply’ to me you said you would be glad to discuss the matter with me privately and if necessary, to give me a written answer. In the few words we had regarding this in the House later in the day you said you would give mc a full written statement as to why this more than 1,000,000 dollars were made available for the purchase of a cement plant in the United States to be brought to Australia. I quite realize how very busy you have been, but I was wondering when I might expect a written answer to my question.

I received no reply to that letter.

Mr Chifley:

– The honorable member did receive a reply, in which it was said that the delay was regretted.


– I received no reply to that letter. I am not dealing with what the right honorable gentleman said later on. On the 11th August I again wrote to the Primo Minister as follows :-

On the 27th July last I wrote you a letter, copy of which I enclose, inquiring when I might expect a written reply to the question which I raised in the House as to the reasons for the advance of over 1,000,000 dollars of credit to an Australian company for the purchase of a cement plant to be’ erected in the Commonwealth.

Knowing how speedily you reply to letters, I feel certain that my letter of the 27th July last has not been received by you and, consequently, I am forwarding you this one to know whether you would be kind enough to let me have the reply to my question which you promised to me. I ain.very anxious to have this, as in ray ignorance I cannot quite understand -why this amount was made available, but no doubt you will be able to supply me with full and sufficient reasons.

I received no reply to that letter. I then sent’ to the right honorable gentleman-

Mr Conelan:

– I rise to order. Is the honorable member for -New England in order in reading this correspondence? The honorable gentleman claims that he was misrepresented last week, but he is now reading correspondence that is some months old.


– The honorable member is now going beyond reasonable- limits in making his personal explanation. In my opinion, ho has read sufficient of this correspondence, and he must now deal with the alleged misrepresentation.


– I shall leave the correspondence without mentioning the urgent telegram that I sent to the Prime

Minister and later the reply-paid telegram which eventually evoked an answer. My suspicions were greatly increased when I read in the issues of the Sydney Bulletin of the 2Sth July and the 4th August reports concerning Metropolitan Cement Proprietary Limited and Metropolitan Portland Cement Limited, and also the promoting activities of Mr. Arnold S. Taylor, and the writing up of the shares from £87,508 to £250,000 in four months. The circumstances led me to believe that there was some suggestion of corruption requiring an explanation. I proceeded then to a study of the prospectus of Metropolitan Portland Cement Limited. I investigated the whole position of the two companies which I had mentioned and the connexion therewith of the Prime Minister and other Ministers. It was on the result of these investigations that I based the statement which I made last week in this House, in which I very seriously criticized the conduct of the Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade and Customs and the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. Only a sense of duty and a desire for pure and honest government led me to make the statement. I was actuated also by the shocking treatment that is meted put to poor people in rural areas compared with that which has been accorded to this wealthy corporation.



– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question that has a bearing on the personal explanation of the honorable member for New England. Has the right honorable gentleman seen an article in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald under the heading “Allegations on Cement. Reply to M.P.”, meaning the honorable member for New England, in which Charles H. Smith and Company, stock and share brokers, stated -

The company has been subjected to insidious propaganda by opposing interests who fully realize that they are going to encounter very real competition. It is to be regretted that Mr. Abbott does not better inform himself before making untrue and stupid statements.

Has the Prime Minister any comment to make on the matter? Is there any way by which the honorable member for New England can be pre vented from continually making wild and false accusations against persons or companies under the cover of privilege?


– I have not seen the article referred to by the honorable member for Brisbane.

BENDIGO, VICTORIA · ST CP; UCP from 1940; CP from 1943

– The right honorable gen tiran an’s publicity agent saw it.


– He may have done so. That is what publicity agents are for. He would be recreant to his duty if he had not seen the article; but I did not see it. I have no further comments to make on the matter except in relation to one or two statements that I have read implying that the Government gave dollars to some one. Of course, the Government does not give dollars to any one. What it does is to permit people to use their money to buy foreign exchange, in other words, dollars. If there is any other impression in any one’s mind, it is wrong. The honorable member for New England will agree with that.

Mr Abbott:

– No, he will not. He will prove that that is incorrect.


– I am sure that the honorable member would not suggest that the Government does more than give to people the right to buy foreign exchange. It does not give and never has given any one any dollars.

Mr Abbott:

– We shall see about that.


– I wish t0 make it clear that all that the exchange control does is to give to people the authority to buy dollars in other countries with their own money, which they present to the bank. A certain amount of dollars is available but people who are given permission to obtain dollars must pay for them.

Mr Abbott:

– Why was the man concerned in this case given time to pay?


– Order ! The honorable member for New England must not be answered. He did not ask the question, and is not entitled to an answer.


– Probably, there will always be differences of opinion on what persons, or bodies, should be permitted to buy foreign exchange, and whether the Government’s judgment in certain instances is wise or not. I have never disputed that. As I have already made several statements on the subject, I merely repeat that the Government does not provide dollars for anybody; it only issues permits for the purchase of foreign exchange.


– As the Prime Minister promised to supply any further details that were required regarding the allocation of 1,198,000 dollars to Metropolitan Portland Cement Limited, will he inform the House - (1) Who was the Treasury official with the special knowledge of technical details who submitted a report on the subject, and did he make the recommendation before or after he had discussed the matter with the Prime Minister? (2) Did his report cover such matters as the amount of cement plant lying idle in Australia, whether labour would be available, whether the company had the necessary funds, whether a stock flotation was dependent upon the permit being issued, and the standing of the promoters? (3) Did. his investigations disclose the previous association of Arnold S. Taylor with the Berrima Shale Oil Company and previous cement ventures that had failed, and also that many people had been defrauded, especially in connexion with the Berrima Shale Oil Company? Can the right honorable gentleman instance any previous allocation of dollars to an enterprise that was not already in existence? If so, will he say whether the application to the Advisory Committee on Capital Issues to float the new company or the application for dollars came before him first?


– As I explained last week, .this matter was the subject of examination by a number of government departments. First, reports were made regarding cement production in Australia. Then the question of the formation, of the company was considered by the Advisory Committee on Capital Issues. Later the question of the possible allocation of dollars to the company to purchase American cement-making plant was examined. It is clear that the company could not receive dollars unless it provided the necessary funds. Dollars are not given away. I said last week that the matter had been fully examined from the point of view of the formation of the company and the allocation of dollars, having regard to the need for plant of this nature in Australia to meet the additional demands for cement. A dozen” or more individuals examined various aspects of the matter. I accepted the responsibility for the final allocation of dollars or the right to buy foreign exchange. I have nothing further to add.

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Loss of Aircraft “ Lutana


– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation state whether a judge has been appointed to conduct an inquiry into the recent disaster in which the airliner Lutana was involved ? Can he also inform the House who that judge will be and what will be his terms of reference?


– The appointment of a court of inquiry is being arranged. I have discussed the matter with the Acting Attorney-General, and we have in mind the appointment of a judge who, I believe, will agree to act Preliminary details have not yet been completed. I hope that I shall be able to make an announcement to the House to-morrow.

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FREQUENCY Modulation.


– I ask the Prime Minister whether, as all Australian newspapers announced to-day, Cabinet has approved of plans for the introduction of frequency modulation into the broadcasting service of Australia! If it has done so, does not the Prime Minister consider that restriction of the operation of frequency modulation to national stations is a violation of that freedom of the air. which is so jealously prized by all freedom-loving people? Is the House to understand that frequency modulation will be extended to commercial stations, or is it to be restricted to national stations, and thus be completely in character with the Government’s socialist programme?


– The Government has decided that work in connexion with frequency modulation broadcasting shall be carried out by the Australian Broadeasting Commission, which controls the stations that were originally nationalized by the Bruce-Page Government. Whether the system of frequency modulation will be extended to commercial stations is a matter of Government policy. For the moment, it is intended that the experiment shall be carried out by the national stations.

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Mi-. TURNBULL. - In the absence of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, I ask the Prime Minister a question upon the export price of lambs, as it appears that time is being wasted in making an announcement. I know that the Australian Government has been negotiating with the Government of the United Kingdom regarding the fixing of prices for Australian meat. The delay is regrettable because, in my electorate, and in many other parts of the country, grass is going to seed because of the present spell of warm weather. The lambs are ready for slaughter, and the position is becoming chaotic because stock owners do not know what to do.


-Order! The honorable member is entitled to ask a question, but not to make a statement.


– Can the Prime Minister do something about this important matter? I wish him to make an explanation and have the new prices announced within the next day or two, if possible. This is of the greatest importance to primary producers, and to the people of Britain, who so badly need food. Does the Prime Minister realize that if lambs are not marketed when they are in their prime, they will not thereafter be so fit for export.


– Order !


– But I have not yet finished my question.

Mr Ward:

– The honorable member has exhausted his time !


– This is not a matter for levity. It is a very serious one for the primary producers.


-The honorable member for Wimmera must resume his seat while I am on my feet. He must know that, under the rules of the House, he may not, in asking a question, make a statement other than one of the briefest kind for the purpose of making his question clear. He certainly must not indulge in discussion or debate. In asking his question, the honorable member has endeavoured to make a statement or speech, and I shall not permit questions of that character.


– But there is something more I wish to ask.


– I call the Prime Minister.


– This matter was raised by some honorable members of the Opposition last week.

Mr Turnbull:

– Yes, I raised it last week, and 1 shall raise it again tomorrow if necessary.


– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has already tried to expedite negotiations with the Government of the United Kingdom. Later, I myself, at the request of the Minister, sent a special cablegram to the Australian High Commissioner in London, Mr. Beasley, asking him to intervene in an endeavour to have the negotiations brought rapidly to a conclusion. I understand that one of the Australian negotiators suffered a very sad bereavement in the midst of the negotiations, and that this caused a delay of a few days. I am now seeking to hasten the negotiations to a decision. I cannot promise that a decision Will be reached to-day or to-morrow, but I hope the matter will be settled within the next week.


– Will the Prime Minister say whether it is correct, as reported in a press article recently, that Australia has asked the United Kingdom Government to finance 60 per cent, of the cost of roads, railways, water supply schemes and cattle killing centres for a large-scale beef production project in the Northern Territory and north Queensland? Is it also a fact, as reported in the press, that the Australian representatives are making an issue of this developmental scheme in the current meat contract negotiations with the British Ministry of Pood?


– On this occasion, I am able to say that my attention has been drawn to the article. The statements which the honorable member for Wakefield has referred to are completly incorrect. Any discussions relative to the provision of roads, railways and water supply schemes in the Northern Territory and Queensland are not proceeding in conjunction with the current negotiations for the meat contract. Sir Henry Turner, the meat expert, who visited Australia recently on behalf of the British Ministry of Food ‘has compiled a report for the United Kingdom Government on the development of the Northern Territory and the Kimberley district in Western Australia as beef producing areas. He also made a report to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, a copy of which I have read. When I was in England, I discussed with the Minister of Food, Mr. John Strachey, and Sir Henry Turner certain aspects of his reports, but those conversations do not affect in any way the negotiations for normal meat contracts. At a later stage, I had a personal discussion with the Chancellor of the Exchequer about some particular aspects of the development of Empire resources for the production of goods which now must be purchased from other countries, including those in the dollar .area. None of the matters which the honorable member for Wakefield has mentioned as appearing in the press reports, arose in that discussion. No representative of Australia in London is entitled to discuss with any representative of the United Kingdom Government a basis of conditions under which the Northern Territory should be developed for beef production. The honorable on ember may rest assured that the newspaper report is completely inaccurate. I doubt whether any particular discussions on the matters which he has mentioned have taken place other than those which I have had personally with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister of Food. Any subsequent extension of those discussions would follow a special line, and would have nothing to do with normal beef production in Australia.

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– I present the sixteenth and seventeenth reports of the Broadcasting Committee on the following subjects : -

Sixteenth Report, relating to the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings to country and remote areas.

Seventeenth Report, relating to an Australian Music Composers’ Fund, the use of Australian music, and the ‘use of other Australian programme material.

Ordered to be printed.

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Unopened REFERENDUM Postal Votes.


– Has the Minister for the Interior seen the report in Smith’s Weekly to-day that the newspaper holds four unopened referendum postal votes addressed to the Divisional Returning Officer for the” electoral division of Moreton? Will he obtain those envelopes from the newspaper and ascertain how postal voter’s envelopes came to be included in a consignment of waste-paper shipped from Brisbane to a Sydney firm? I add, parenthetically, that the non-delivery of the votes to the Divisional Returning Officer did not affect the result of the referendum, because the “ No “ vote in Moreton was more than 35,000.

Minister for the Interior · KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP

– I have no information on the matter referred to by the honorable member. 3 have not seen Smith’s Weekly. If the honorable gentleman will supply me with the necessary information, I shall have an investigation made.

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– Has the Prime Minister read an article in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald which contained a statement by Mr. N. Berry Littlejohn that Clarence Hart Campbell, said to be coowner of Marx House, the Communist party’s head-quarters in Sydney, had on one occasion said to him -

I’ll go to Canberra and fix this (meaning a permit to fly to Indonesia and Malaya). I know enough about a certain Minister of the Crown mid some of the others, too, to get anything f want out of them when I want it.

A.= this alleged statement casts a grave reflection upon a Minister of the Crown, will the right honorable gentleman have immediate inquiries made as to whether Campbell actually visited Canberra, or elsewhere, for the purpose mentioned; whether he interviewed any Minister ; and, if so, whom, and with what result? Will the right honorable gentleman also ascertain the circumstances in which Campbell was allowed to leave Australia?


– I have already answered a question asked some time ago by the honorable member for Reid concerning the C. H. Campbell, to whom, I assume, the honorable member has referred. Mr. Campbell had a passport to_ leave this country. Being an ordinary citizen, he received his passport as a right. I do not know whether Mr. Campbell came to Canberra to see any Minister. I make it perfectly clear that any citizen has a right to see a Minister, provided the latter has the time, a:bout a matter in which he may be interested. As a Minister, I shall never deny that right to any citizen of this country, regardless whether he might be a representative of vested interests or any other interests. Mr. Campbell came originally from my electorate and I have known him for many years. I think I saw him in the corridor on one occasion as I was about to enter the chamber, but whether he saw a Minister I do not know. I am at a loss to know what sort of inquiry the honorable member wishes me to make.


– This statement was made by Mr. Littlejohn.


– I am not responsible for what irresponsible people may say. The issue of permits for planes to fly to Indonesia and Malaya has nothing to do with this Government, but is solely a matter for the governments in the areas concerned. If they issue permits for such purposes, that is their business; we have nothing to do with it. It is solely a matter for the governments of the countries in which the planes are to .be used.

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– I have been informed that during the recent State election campaign in Tasmania persons representing themselves to be canvassers employed by Australian Public Opinion Polls interviewed a number of Tasmanian electors and asked them how they intended to vote at those elections. So far as I have been able to learn, no report of that Gallup survey was published. Can the Minister for Information inform me whether such a Gallup poll was taken, and whether the results were published? If they were not published, does he think that that was because the poll gave a true indication of the intention of the people of Tasmania to return the Labour Government? Is the Minister aware of any relationship between Australian Public Opinion Polls and the Liberal party which might account for the. apparent reluctance of Australian Public Opinion Polls to publicize and encourage, a Labour victory?

Mr Spender:

– I rise to order. I submit that the question which the honorable member for Wilmot has asked bears no relation whatever to any government department, does not concern the administration of any act by any Minister, and is designed solely for the purposes for political propaganda. I submit that on those grounds the question should be ruled out of order.


– Order I do not think that it would suit the honorable member for Warringah if the Chair were to apply that ruling strictly at all times.

Mr Spender:

– Yes, it would.


– Some honorable mem hers, when asking questions, get a little wide of the mark. Some parts of the question which the honorable member for Wilmot has asked were entirely out of order, but other parts were in order, and I propose to allow them.

Minister for Immigration · MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP

– I shall reply to those parts of the honorable member’? question which are in order. I do not know whether representatives of the Gallup poll organization attempted to gauge how the people would vote at the recent general election in Tasmania, which was forced upon the democratically elected chamber by a bankdominated upper house. If a poll was taken, I do not know whether the result was published, but the result of the election itself showed that the people of Tasmania were not prepared to be stampeded, as were the people of Victoria when similar action was taken by the Legislative Council of that State. I do not know whether there is any association between the Liberal party and the organizers of the Gallup polls. Further more, I do not know- :

Mr Francis:

– That is about the fifth time that the honorable gentleman has said that he does not know something.


– I am obliged to repeat the phrase in order to impress my meaning upon the mentality of the honorable member for Moreton. I do not know whether there is any association between the organizers “of Gallup polls and the Liberal party, but I was told that a poll was taken recently to ascertain whether the people believe that newspapers suppress or distort news, and 83 per cent, of those whose views were sought expressed an affirmative opinion.

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– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether Australia was one of the four nations which at a recent meeting of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations voted against equality of opportunity for women. If a report’ to this effect is true, what explanation is given for this action on the part of Australia? What other nations took similar action, and what Australian women, or what organizations of women, were consulted on this most important subject? Was an Australian woman appointed to attend this meeting of the Human Rights Commission, and did any Australian woman have an opportunity to speak on this matter ?


– I think that I answered a. similar question on a pre vious occasion. The honorable member has asked a number of questions which I could answer at some length, but offhand I am not able to inform her whether any Australian woman had the opportunity to speak at the meeting of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations on the subject of equality of opportunity for women. I shall prepare a statement answering all the questions, which she has asked, and make it available to her as soon as possible.

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– On several occasions, 1 have made representations to the Prime Minister about the commencement of work on a wool appraisement centre at Rockhampton. When. I last asked when the Government proposed to proceed with the job, I received the reply that the matter had been postponed, and would be discussed by Cabinet in August. I now ask the right honorable gentleman whether Cabinet has considered this project, and if it has done so, will he inform me whether it is intended to carry out this undertaking, which was entered into in 1946?


– The honorable member will recall that Cabinet decided to defer for twelve months the consideration of proposals for the construction of wool appraisement centres at Townsville and Rockhampton. That period has now elapsed, and the subject is due for consideration.

Mr Davidson:

– The right honorable gentleman informed me that Cabinet would discuss the matter in August.


– Cabinet has not yet dealt with it. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has been absent from Canberra for a few days, but I am hopeful that some decision on the subject will be made at the meeting of Cabinet to be held next Tuesday week.

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Butter and Tea


– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether the Government has decided to continue the rationing of butter and tea during 1949? Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Electoral Office will not issue the new coupons, as it has done in previous years, and that the coupons will be distributed through the various post offices? As an electoral division may have 200 polling booths and only 20 post offices, does the Minister consider that the new proposal for the distribution of coupons is satisfactory?


– The rationing of butter and tea is constantly under review. Provision will be made in the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Bill, which will be introduced shortly to enable the rationing of those commodities to be continued. I need not discuss all the reasons for thus, decision, but rationing will be discontinued whenever the Government considers that course to be desirable. The intention at the moment is to continue the rationing of butter and tea, and that will be given effect to unless a change of circumstances in the meantime enables rationing to be . abolished. Apart from petrol, butter and tea are the only remaining rationed goods, and the Government considered it desirable to arrange some method of distributing the coupons other than by opening the electoral offices for a couple of days for the purpose. That matter is being examined now by the Ministers concerned, and by a departmental committee, and I hope that it will soon be possible to make a statement on the subject.

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Mr. Deputy Speaker having called the honorable member for Balaclava,


– There is no point of order. Many honorable members have risen continually since 3 o’clock, but I can only call one at a time. I have given the call to honorable members as I have seen them rise, and the honorable member for the Northern Territory will be called in his turn. The’ calling of honorable members is entirely at the discretion of the Chair.

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– Can the Minister for the Army say how many rifles and machine guns have been sold through the Commonwealth Disposals Commission or ‘ disposed of in . other ways since the war ended? Can he say how many rifles or other weapons and how much ammunition have been stolen from the Army and Air Force establishments in the same period? Is the Minister correctly reported as having said following the recent theft of more than 5 tons’ of army ammunition at Mangalore that that ammunition was not stolen for subversive purposes? If so, on what ground does he base that statement? If the Minister cannot provide this information now, will he do so at an early date?

Minister for the Army · ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– I cannot give the figures sought by the honorable member now, but I shall obtain them for him at the earliest opportunity. Obviously I cannot say whether or not the ammunition was stolen for subversive purposes because I do not know who stole it. When I find out by whom the ammunition was stolen I may be able to say the reason for the theft.

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Minister for Defence · CORIO, VICTORIA · ALP

– I lay on the table the following papers: -

Town Gas Production from - (<j.) Leigh Creek and Moorlands Coal by Luigi Pressure Gasification, and (M Victorian Brown Coal -

Reports by Dr. F. S. W. Danulat and Mr. E. A. Bruggemann.

The reports are by two German scientists who came to this country under arrangements made by the Division of Industrial Development of the Department, pf Post-war Reconstruction.

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– This morning I received a letter from a constituent stating that hb had heard in a national news broadcast that the manufacture of galvanized iron in. Australia was to be suspended for a certain period to enable zinc to be exported. As many primary producers and others have been waiting for periods of up to one year for various galvanized iron products and wire of various types I ask the Prime Minister whether there is any truth in this report? If so, has the decision any relation to government policy? If the report is not correct, will the Prime Minister ascertain the reasons for the cessation of production of these commodities ?


– This is a matter in which I have taken considerable interest because of production stoppages at Lysaghts Limited at Newcastle and at one other plant. I have taken the matter up at various levels. First, I consulted representatives of the zinc suppliers. The matter was also considered by the Secondary Industries Commission and by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, who although his department does not deal with the production of these commodities, is vitally concerned with the shortage of galvanized iron products in rural areas. Export control, of course, is administered by the Department of Commerce and Agriculture or Trade and Customs. There has been a difference of opinion about the price to be paid for zinc used in this country. It has been suggested that the exporting of zinc should be suspended until Australia’s requirements can be met. All I can say to the honorable member for Gippsland at present is that the matter is being watched closely. The administration of price control will pass to the States in a few days, and the determination of the price that is to be paid for zinc used in manufacturing processes in this country will then become a matter for State authorities. The subject is being discussed now by the States and the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner, Mr. McCarthy. The closing down of galvanized iron plants on several occasions due to the shortage of zinc is deplorable, but the honorable member should bear in mind that there is a great demand for zinc overseas and that the price of zinc on the world’s markets is high. Zinc is also urgently required bv certain countries with which Australia has a close association. Every endeavour is being made to meet the position, and the honorable member may rest assured that I am taking a personal interest in the problem.

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– Concern is being felt in the Herbert River sugar-growing district at the inability of waterside workers to cope with the flow of sugar at loading ports. It is calculated that with a continuance of the present rate of loading, about 30 per cent, of the sugar crop will be unharvested by November, and crushing operations will have to cease, thus causing considerable unemployment in the district. Can the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel inform me whether an additional gang of waterside workers has been directed to Lucinda Point? If so, when will this gang start work, and, in any case, will the Minister take all possible steps to ensure the rapid loading of sugar at this port?


– I am aware tha t there has been some difficulty in getting sugar away from the port mentioned by the honorable member. I know that my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, and, indeed, the Prime Minister himself, have been greatly concerned at the slow rate at which sugar has been despatched. So greatly have they been concerned, in fact, that arrangements were made for the chairman of the Stevedoring Industry Commission, Judge Kirby, to visit certain ports to ascertain whether anything could be done to expedite the work. I - understand that as the result of his visit and the report that he made to the. Minister on the matter, everything possible is being done to alleviate the position. I understand that one of the difficulties is that the loading gear available at some ports is not modern. Obviously, waterside workers cannot be expected to load sugar as fast with absolete equipment as they could load it with modern equipment. I shall again direct the attention of the Minister to the matter, and I arn sure that he will do everything possible to provide more labour should that be necessary.

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– Has the- Minister for immigration seen a cabled report from New York in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of last Monday that an Australian woman, Miss Elizabeth Pender, of Sydney* who is at present working at the Pakistan Embassy in “Washington, has been ordered to return to Australia? Is it a fact, as Miss Pender is reported to have stated that she had been barred, on advice from the Minister for Immigration, from accepting a position at the Australian Embassy in Washington? Is it also a fact, as reported, that Miss Pender refused to obey an. order by the Minister for Immigration that on the completion of two years’ service with the United States Army in Manilla she must return, to Australia? Is the Minister aware that, according to Miss Pender, the personnel officer at the Embassy in Washington told her that the Embassy “ could, prevent her finding employment anywhere: in the- United. States”? As Miss Pender claims to hold a passport and visa, like any other Australian in the United States, has she not the same right as any other Australian to work where she pleases? Is it also a fact, as reported, that the Minister has circularized the Australian Embassy and all Australian Consulates in the United States instructing them to return to Australia all Australian women formerly employed by the Americans in the Philippines? As, on the face of. it, the civil liberties of Australians are being infringed, will the Minister investigate the incident fully and make a report to t,he House?


– The Canberra representative of the Sydney Daily Telegraph asked me last night whether f would comment upon that matter, and’ [ said that I would not do so. He is obviously doing his work now- by- deputy under those circumstances. I propose to say no more in answer to a question raised in the house. The question of Australian girls serving with the American army was canvassed fully last session on a motion for the adjournment of the House submitted by the honorable member for Warringah. The case was stated by the honorable member according to his lights, I replied, the matter was debated, and the question was put. There the. matter, ended and there it remains.

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– Is the Minister for the Interior able to make a statement to the House about what is proposed to bedone with regard to the extension of the tenure of pastoral leases in the Northern- Territory, particularly those held by the Vestey and Bovril interests, and what concessions it is proposed to give to those concerns? Has the Government decided that, in return for the grant of pastoral development leases or concessions, the Vestey and Bovril interests must improve their land, more than they have done in the past? If it be true, as reported in the press, that it is the Government’s intention to grant pastoral development leases in conformity with the recommendations contained in the. Payne “ re port of the Board of Inquiry appointed to inquire into the land and. industries of the Northern Territory of Australia “, will the Minister, before extending the term of any existing lease or granting a pastoral development lease, wait until the Minister for Transport has made a report upon the railways that will be constructed in the Northern Territory from Alice Springs northward or from Wyndham into the back country, in order that, if railways are to be run through land that is the subject of leases held by the interests to which I have referred, the land’ . may be allocated in the public interest either to returned soldiers or to others who will live on the properties?


– On. the next sitting day I shall be pleased, with the consent of the House, to make a statement regarding the negotiations between the Australian Government and. the Vestey interests and Lord Luke. These negotiations, although they are not yet complete, have reached an advanced stage, and it may be of interest to the House to know of what has been done so far.

page 426




– In view of the reported intention of the Government to amend the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, will the Minister for Repatriation consider the incorporation in the amending bill of a provision extending the benefits of regulation 195 of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Regulations to tubercular soldiers and their wives? The regulation provides that certain classes of soldiers who married after the 30th June, 1938, may be granted an allowance in respect of their wives. It will be remembered that this matter was raised during the discussions in 1943 and a promise was given that it would be re-considered.

Minister for Repatriation · BASS, TASMANIA · ALP

– The subject of the right honorable member’s question has received a great deal of consideration during the last twelve months. The Government considers that, although a case can be made out for a reversal of the decision which was made some years ago, there are stronger reasons why the condition should remain as at present, and it does not propose to amend the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act as suggested.

page 426



Soviet Sentences


– Have the brutal and barbaric sentences imposed by a so-called Soviet tribunal upon certain members of an occupied race, namely, German youths in Berlin, as the result of recent demonstrations in that city, come to the notice of the Prime Minister? If so, have any representations been made on a diplomatic level protesting against the sentences, having regard to the fact that Australia, as one of the victorious powers, still retains an interest in that occupied territory? If no such protest has been made, is it intended to have the matter brought before the United Nations Assembly on the basis of protection of human rights? If nothing has yet been done, does the Prime Minister intend to do anything at all about the matter, in view of his appeal to the people of Berlin to “hold on “?


– I have not received any official statement about the events in Berlin mentioned by the honorable mem ber. I have seen some press statements on the matter and I have heard some broadcast statements, but no official despatch has been received. The only official communication that I have received concerning events in Berlin deals with the negotiations that have been proceeding. If the newspaper reports are correct, undoubtedly a ferocious and brutal sentence out of all proportion to. any offence, if there was an offence, has been imposed. Of course, I am not in a position to know what kind of offence is claimed to have been committed. I do not think that anybody could attempt to do anything less than pass the highest strictures on such sentences if the statements made in the press are true. The Minister for External Affairs is on the Continent and he will undoubtedly have an opportunity to discuss this matter with the United Kingdom Foreign Secretary. If the press statements are true - and naturally, of course, I always have some suspicion about that - I have no doubt that any government would express its abhorrence of conduct of that character.

page 426



Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -

That, unless otherwise ordered, government business shall, on each day of sitting, have precedence of all other business, except on that Thursday on which, under the provisions of Standing Order 241, the question is put “That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair “. On such Thursday general business shall have precedence of government business until 9 p.m.


– I point out that notice has been given by the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) of his intention to seek leave to introduce a bill to amend the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. If government business takes precedence over all other business, and “ private members’ day” to-morrow is cancelled, we shall be prevented from raising matters of importance. I have asked the Minister for Repatriation to state whether it is a fact that the No. 1 Entitlement Tribunal has submitted a report that is adverse to him and his administration. He has admitted chat he has received a report, and I have asked him whether he will table it before the amending bill is introduced.


– Order ! The motion before the Chair relates to the precedence of government business.


– If this motion is agreed to, the opportunities of private members to refer to matters such as I have mentioned, involving what I con- sider to be maladministration by the Minister, will be lessened. I have not had an opportunity to ask him again whether he intends to table the report. If debate is to be curtailed, that is the sort of thing that will be covered up.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 427


Motion (by Mr. Hollo way) agreed to -

That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Social Services Consolidation Act 1947, and for other purposes.

page 427


Motion (by Mr. Barnard) agreed to -

That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act 1920-1947, and for other purposes.

page 427


Motion (by Mr. Dedman) proposed -

That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to approve the acceptance by Australia of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the Havana Charter for an International Trade Organization, and for other purposes.


– I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction whether he intends to present all the documents relating to the agreement and the Havana. Charter before we are required to discuss the subject in this House. The documents have been brought down both in the United Kingdom Parliament and in the New Zealand Parliament, but so far the Minister has not presented to this Parliament the important protocol relating to the Havana Charter and, in my opinion, we cannot satisfactorily debate this subject until he does so. Will he bring the protocol down before the debate occurs?

Mr Dedman:

– I am merely seeking leave to introduce a bill. When I bring in the bill, all the necessary documents will be provided.


– I wonder!

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 427


Motion (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to -

That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act 1930-1944, and for other purposes.

page 427


Message recommending appropriation reported.

In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :

Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -

That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund the sum of £10,000,000 as a grant to His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom.

Resolution reported.

Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.

Ordered -

That Mr. Chifley and Mr. Dedman do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.

Bill presented by Mr. Chifley, and read a first time.


Prime Minister and Treasurer · Macquarie · ALP

– I move -

That the bill be now read asecond time.

The bill seeks to appropriate £10,000,000 for a grant to the United Kingdom Government. In the budget speech, I outlined briefly the considerations which led up to the Government’s decision to seek the approval of Parliament to make this gift. I referred to the trade and payments difficulties which have hampered European economic recovery. The most obvious of these difficulties has been the dollar shortage.

War-devastated Europe has required vast quantities of goods of all kinds from the ‘United “States ‘and “other dollar countries for economic reconstruction. It “has been quite ‘beyond the capacity ‘df the European countries to meet, from their own dollar earnings, the dollar cost of this vast flow :of supplies ;and, -since the :war ended, the United States has given aid to Europe 011 a generous -scale. Through Unrra and in -other ways the United States has provided large .dollar .grants and these have been supplemented by substantial credits. Through the ^European -recovery programme launched on the initiative of the United States Government, large-scale American aid is being continued as part of a general scheme directed towards enabling the participating European .-countries to ‘achieve over a four-year period a position in which they will be able to ‘maintain their own economies at a reasonable level without ‘extraordinary outside assistance.

Funds .totalling 4,8.75,000,000 dollars have been made available by the United States to cover the ‘essential dollar needs of the participating countries during the first year of the Marshall aid programme. In this way, the European countries concerned have been enabled to proceed with their economic recovery programmes with the assurance that means existed for financing their minimum requirements of dollar imports. The dollar shortage is, however, only one aspect of the currency difficulties with which “Europe is confronted. There is also a sterling shortage. Trade between the European countries themselves has been obstructed because of payments difficulties, which have been only partly met by the various intra-European trade and payments arrangements which have been negotiated since the war ended. The most important of these difficulties is the critical shortage of sterling with which many of the European countries are faced.

I mentioned in the budget speech that discussions with which we had been .kept closely in touch, had been proceeding in Paris and elsewhere among representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the participating European countries, both on the allocation of dollar aid and on the intra-European payments problem. I also said it was clear that, whatever the details of the arrangement finally reached might be, the ‘United Kingdom would be called upon “to make a large sterling contribution - to enable the European “countries which are short of .sterling ‘to maintain ‘their purchases not only .from the United Kingdom but also from the whole ^sterling area. These discussions have since reached .the .stage -where it has .been possible to make a public announcement -of the agreement reached. Tie .agreement is still provisional pending “final agreement .on the method of operation of ‘the intra-European payments .scheme, and approval by the United States .authorities of the tentative allocation -of European recovery programme dollar .aid.

Under this provisional .agreement th* United Kingdom will receive an allocation in the form of grants or credits of 1,2.63,000,0.00 dollars from European recovery dollars, a -larger amount than that allocated to any other country. At the same time the United Kingdom will be called on to ‘make a large contribution in sterling to the intra-European payments scheme. Its gross contribution to be given in the -form of an outright grant is set down at £stg.78,000,000 and, in addition, the United Kingdom has agreed as a further contribution towards the success of the scheme to unfreeze £stg.55,000,000 of the blocked sterling balances at present held by certain of the participating European countries.

The provisional dollar allocation to the United Kingdom will not of itself permit of any improvement in the consumption standards of the British people. On the’ other hand, the large sterling contribution which the United Kingdom has agreed to make will represent a further call on its resources. The amount to be contributed by the United Kingdom has been fixed in relation to the sterling deficit of the participating European countries with the sterling “area as a whole. It will enable the European countries to maintain their purchases not only from the United Kingdom but also from Australia and the other countries <>( the sterling area.

Australia’s interests in this ‘matter are clear. Its exports of wool, grain, metals and other products to the European countries participating in the European recovery programme in 1947-48 totalled £A.88,800,000, and its favorable trade balance with these countries -was £A.63,700,000. If no solution had been found to the sterling difficulties of the countries concerned, a large part of this trade would inevitably have been imperilled. .Australia therefore stands to gain .in a very direct .and immediate way from the sterling contribution by the United Kingdom. ‘Moreover, this latest contribution .by the ‘United Kingdom comes on top of the substantial aid which it has already given to European recovery. The United Kingdom’s contribution began even before hostilities ceased and has been .second only to that of the United States. Urgently needed .food, medical supplies and clothing were shipped to Europe by the United Kingdom in the wake of the liberating armies. The United Kingdom’s .contribution to Unrra totalled fstg.155,000,000 and it has spent .a further £stg.l30,000,000 in maintaining refugees .and displaced persons. It has also spent about Estg.240,000,000 on the non-military .costs of the occupation of ‘Germany and Austria. Other forms df British “postliberation aid to Europe, including grants and ‘credits, have been estimated at Estg.393,000,000. These past contributions, .made at a .time when Britain was Itself suffering from the effects of war and could ill afford the cost, need to be :taken into account in assessing the significance of the further financial burdens which the United Kingdom Government has agreed to shoulder in the cause of European economic recovery.

The Australian Government has already .recognized Australia’s interest in the post-war recovery of the United Kingdom, and of Europe in a practical way. .Apart .from .the £A.25,000,000 gift to the United Kingdom -made last year, Australia ‘.has contributed other substantial sums :to assist in the post-war relief and .rehabilitation of Europe. Australia was the fourth .largest contributor to Unrra. Total .Australian -aid ito Unrra programmes was £A.24,000,000. A high proportion of this aid was given in the form of .raw .wool and this free shipment of wool did much to assist in replenishing the depleted stocks of European wool ‘processors. Since Unrra was terminated, Australia has .approved a post-Unrra relief ‘programme ‘totalling about £A;6,00Q,000. Of this total Over fA.1,000.^000 will be supplied in the formof wool to .be shipped -without .chargeunder special agreements to the European countries ‘which most need it. The wool isbeing shipped to .countries .nominated by the United Nations Secretariat. The balance of ‘.the post-Unrra relief fund will be largely used in support of internationally sponsored “programmes of aid to Europe .such as the International Children’s .Emergency Fund and the International Refugee Organization. Australia is at present the second largest contributor to the former and the third largest to the latter. Apart from these Government contributions, the Australian public has responded generously to voluntary appeals such as the Food for Britain Fund and the United Nations Appeal for the International Children’s Emergency F.und. The .volume of food parcels privately -.despatched by Australians to Britain and other countries has also been maintained at. a high level.

In relation to our resources, the contributions Australia .has made and is continuing to make .to European recovery are substantial. Nevertheless, I am sure that .all .honorable <members will support the Government’s decision to make a further gift, commensurate with our resources, to the United Kingdom at this time in. support of what she has done and is continuing to do, despite her own wartime losses, to assist the European recovery programme. Apart from budgetary considerations, Australia’s ability to make a further grant to the United Kingdom is -governed by the .position of our total balance of payments and of our international reserves. In considering the position -of those reserves, we must bear in mind that, as announced in my budget .speech of .September, 1947, Mr. Attlee, the British Prime Minister, has informed us that we can help most with the United Kingdom sterling balances problem if we take it as a broad objective to live .within our external income. If, in order -to do -this, it ,should become .necessary to take action to restrict -imports from all sources, the United Kingdom ^Government would prefer that we impose such restrictions rather than .call on the London funds which we had accumulated mp ,to the 30th June, 1947. Furthermore, much of the increase of London funds which has taken place since June, 1947, is of only a temporary nature. During the past year there has been a strong tendency to accelerate payment for Australian exports and to defer payment for imports into Australia. In due course this will be reversed. Finally, there is the need to ensure that Australia maintains, as far as possible, adequate liquid reserves to meet the possibilities of adverse seasons or of a fall in export prices.

The United Kingdom Government was fully consulted before that decision was reached, and after I announced the Government’s intention to make this grant, I received a telegram from Mr. Attlee in the following terms: -

I learn with deep gratitude of the renewed proof of Australia’s generosity and farsightedness given by your proposal to make a grant of £10,000,000 to this country. At the present time, when the needs of Europe are so pressing, this contribution towards the means available for her reconstruction is a great symbol of the spirit of common endeavour and an encouragement to us all to believe that, by the exercise of that spirit, we shall succeed in our task.

I am sure that all honorable members will approve the bill, not only because of the measure of practical assistance which it will afford to the United Kingdom at this time, but also as an expression of our goodwill and of our confidence in the ability of the British people to overcome the many difficulties with which they are confronted in the post-war period.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Spender) adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 4.25 to 8 p.m.

page 430


Presentation to the GovernorGeneral.


– Accompanied by honorable members, I waited this day upon His Excellency the Governor-General at Government House, and presented to him the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech on the occasion of the opening of the second session of the Eighteenth Parliament, which was agreed to by the

House on the 9th September. His Excellency was pleased to make the following reply : -

Mr. Deputy Speaker,

I desire to thank you for the Address-in Reply which ‘you have just presented to me.

It will afford me much pleasure to convey to His Most Gracious Majesty the King, the Message of Loyalty from the House of Representatives of the . Commonwealth of Australia, to which the Address gives expression

page 430


BUDGET 1948-49

In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 8th September (vide page 256), on motion by Mr. Chifley -

That the first item in the Estimates under Division No. 1 - The Senate - namely. “ Salaries and allowances, £12,000 “, be agreed to.

Acting Leader of the Opposition · Wentworth

. -I move -

That the first item be reduced by £1 as an instruction to the Government - to withdraw and redraft the budget -

In order that provision may be made, among other things, for more liberal concessions in both direct and indirect taxation, not only in regard to the amount of such concessions, but also the conditions under which they are to be applied and the field over which they are to be spread

In order that, in view of the present grave and unsettled world condi- tions, a more comprehensive and positive defence plan commensurate with the security of Australia may be prepared; and

In order that the Government may present immediate and positive plans to increase the productive effort of both primary and secondary industries throughout Australia.

If ever there was an opportunity to “ debunk “ the fetish that high taxation is a check to inflation, it occurred after the Treasurer’s budget speech, upon which the Sydney Daily Telegraph had made this comment -

His argument that his taxation policy which prevents you from spending your own money, is a check on inflation, does not make sense.

What does the Government do with the money it takes from you? Spend it, of course - competing directly or indirectly for goods and services in short supply.

You could spend the money, too - without any more disastrous effects. You might prefer to save it; that the Government will not do.

Those are not my words, but they struck a very sympathetic chord, not only in my mind, but also in the minds of all thinking men and women in Australia. The points that emerge from the budget show quite clearly that, whilst the gross tax cuts provide a modicum of relief in general rates to the taxpayer, there is no net relief at all. The tax concession allegedly saves the taxpayer £22,300,000 in the present financial year, but the Prime Minister announced that price stabilization subsidies were expected to cost approximately £10,000,000 in 1948-49, compared with the previous year’s expenditure of £35,000,000, leaving a balance of approximately £26,000,000. This means that, in this one instance, an additional burden of approximately £4,000,000 above that of 1947-48 will be placed on the shoulders of the unfortunate general public. At the same time, the right honorable gentleman announced that, in direct taxation - income tax, social service contributions and company tax - the Government will collect an additional £13,000,000, even after allowing for his present proposed concessions. The total revenue from all forms of taxation will be £35,000,000 more than last year.

The budget strikes an incongruous note. The Treasurer emphasizes the need for prudence, but, in his budgeting, he throws prudence to the winds. He says that, allowing for some buoyancy in financial conditions last year, he estimated revenue at £397,000,000, but he found himself with an actual revenue of £457,000,000- £60,000,000 more than he had budgeted for. This is becoming a habit with the right honorable gentleman. In 1D45-46, the excess was approximately £17,000,000; in 1946-47 it was £26,250,000, and last year it was £60,000,000. He attributes this windfall to a surprising increase in the national income of £276,000,000, based largely on an increase in export income of £102,000,000. In his budget speech, he emphasizes that export income could fall rapidly if droughts occurred, or if export prices, especially for wool and wheat, were to decline from their present high level. And quite correctly, he says, “ This would have a drastic effect upon public revenue “. Yet, in spite of his own warning, he proposes to spend £509,500,000 this financial year, as against a total expenditure of £464,848,000 last year. To meet this new high expenditure, he proposes to raise £458,000,000 by taxation - £34,354,000 more than he raised by taxation last year.

This is one of the most dangerous trend? revealed by the budget. It seems to mc that we are on the verge of an inflationary boom. The Commonwealth Bank Monthly Bulletin points out that export prices in June last were 307 per cent, higher than the average 1938-39 level, and 44 per cent, higher than export prices in June last year. Neither the Treasurer, nor any one else, can expect the present extraordinary world prices for our major exports to last, nor are we likely to increase the volume of our exports sufficiently to counter any substantial fall in prices. Despite this, the Treasurer deliberately increases his expenditure, as if the present buoyancy were likely to continue indefinitely. He ignores the fact that the high level of public expenditure is in itself a factor contributing to the inflationary boom, and must be reflected in rising costs and prices. It is of no for the Treasurer to express concern at the danger inherent in rising costs and prices, when he deliberately, and in the light of his own warning, enlarges to this extraordinary degree the cost of Government administration.

Let me pass on to make another point. Emphasis has been laid on the so-called generous tax concessions. In all. they amount to £29,000,000 in a full year’, but to only £22,300,000 in the present financial year. It is interesting to note that two days after the Treasurer made his budget speech, the Treasury released figures which showed that, in the months of July and August, the Commonwealth collected £13,200,000 more than it did in the same period of last year. This release must have caused some embarrassment to the right honorable gentleman. The diligence of his officers in revealing the true state of affairs financially, in the teeth of the Treasurer’s statement about generous tax cuts, is refreshing: The1 figures! show that, at this-rate, increases of revenue oven last year’s receipts, wilh Be sufficient’ by the’ end of September- to meet the whole of the tax concessions granted by the Treasurer this year. In other words: the Treasurer will have-met his taxation concessions for the financial year before they begin to operate. Thus> on the admission of his own departmental officers, the people of Australia are quite entitled.- to say to the Treasurer, “ Thank you for nothing ! “

From whatever- angle- one’ considers the so-called- tax concessions, both direct and indirect, one finds anomalies. For example, in 1947-48, the Treasurer expected to- receive from income tax and social services contributions £t43,000;000! Actual receipts- were: £163,000,000, an excess of £20,000>000- almost the’ full amount which’ the Treasurer, estimates that the reduced rate of income tax’ and social service contributions will cost’ this year. In 1947-48 the Treasurer estimated that he would receive £53,000,000 in company tax. Actual receipts- were £69,800,000, or. £16,800,000 in- excess of the estimate.. And yet his- concession incompany tax will- amount to only £1,500,000 in- this financial year!

The Treasurer emphasized the need: for increased-‘ production. He said that a national duty devolved upon everybody to produce more- and more, both for consumption within. Australia and’ for export beyond it. If, however; the Government fails to provide the necessary incentive to produce, bow can he expect to obtain greater production? If the- Government1 continues to press heavily on’ companies by means of taxation, and fails to provide any worthwhile relief, it cannot hope to get the expansion which the Treasurersays is: necessary. But perhaps the best illustration of the Treasurer’s, misnamed sense of generosity is to be- found in the sales tax, which is- a particularly vicious form of taxation: It* is. levied at a high level- without the people- being - aware of the burden it imposes’ on them. Last year the sales tax returned £34,728,000, or £5,702;800 in; excess of the Treasury’s estimate; The concession provided, for in the budget will cost £350,000 this financial year. The sales tax’ does- not distingush between persons of wealth and persons- on the basic wage. The increased cost’ of goods per capita’ is staggering. Sales, tax receipts have increased’ to- ff figure that must give the country cause for concern.. Practically no relief has been, granted in this connexion. Excise duty last year returned £58,000,000, or £1,000,000 more than the estimate. The only concessions that the Treasurer is prepared to make applies to a levelling of the- price of matches, from which the consumer will not benefit, and which will cost the Treasury£130,000, and the abolition of excise on petrol produced in Australia, which will’ cost; £56,000. There is to be no reduction of Customs duty which, last year, returned’ £57;600,0.00; or £12,600,000’ more than the estimate. This is only, a part of the picture. My, colleague,, the. Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), an expert in these matters, will find! much pleasure in completing the picture. But I have said.’ sufficient to show that, in the light, of even my limited’ criticism, the fact’s reveal that this is not a people., budget it is a budget chiefly for Chifley,.

Certain matters in-, the. budget are of. such a national character as to. placethem outside the. realm, of party politics.. Defence; is one. It is too vital a subject to. be a party football:. Therefor^ in moving the amendment on. behalf of. the Opposition.. I do so.,, not to take a. party, political advantage^, hut to directs public attention to the unsatisfactory condition of Australia’s defences, particularly- in. view of the grave international situation that is developing. The commonly held Belief of the Government was expressed by the. Minister for Defence (Mr Dedman) when he said’ in Adelaide- in March, 1948-

From the knowledge I Have gained from, my. recent trips’ abroad there1 will be1 no. warwithin the: next few years.

The- Minister’ is1 either a very brave man or a’ fool to- venture such a prediction; This statement’ reminds me of the- tag; “ Fool.? rush in where- angels fear to tread’”. Such a statement, in the light of the position overseas, is criminallymisleading, and1 the Minister making’ it is as” culpable as- was the then Leader of the Opposition-, the’ late* Mr: Curtin., who, ten months before the - outbreak of World’ War II., together with1 other’ Labour- members, criticized the- defence’ policy of the -Menzies ‘Government. He said - 1 say that ‘any increase ‘df defence ‘expenditure after the .Munich pact, so far as Australia is concerned, appears to me to be an utterly unjustifiable hysterical piece .of propaganda.

That, of course, .is ‘only one .of the many such statements made by Labour members, many of whom are now ‘in the Government. Hansard is rich with such plums, [selected that .one as an example of some of the more restrained >of the authorative utterances. The -late Mr. Curtin was wrong. His statement, like that >of the .Minister for Defence, was made in (he ‘teeth of expert opinion and advice. Field Marshal Montgomery said in August, 1948-

A somewhat uneasy peace is brooding over the world, lt is more .like .a truce than a peace. It is a period .of exhaustion, illdescribed as peace.

One has only to look at the conditions reported in the press to-day to realize that he was conservative in his description of the circumstances. No one in this chamber can say just what the next few days or months are likely to produce. In a statement, which particularly applies to Australia., General Sir Thomas Blarney said -

To-day there is uncertainty -and uneasiness everywhere. All the nations of the world are preparing for danger. Australia seems to be the only country which does not admit the danger.

That statement in .the light of the. .action taken by other nations places the position in its true perspective. Let us look at the Government’s defence policy.

In June, 1947, about fifteen months ago, ‘the Government announced its decision -

To provide for an expenditure of £250,000.000 over a five-year period for the three services and including .£33,500,000 for research and development.

A’t that time, the -Government undertook to review its defence .programme from time to time “ in the light of the prevailing international situation “. Since then the international situation has progressively worsened. An ill-chosen word, an ill-considered act, cr some international incident, may well plunge the world into another holocaust «f bloody destruction.

I ‘Commend to .the .Government .Field Marshal Montgomery’s statement -

We cannot hope for a ‘breathing space such as we had in 1930. At .the outbreak of another world conflict we must be ready, prepared to face an aggressor’s sudden attack. ‘This is absolutely vital for our survival.

Those are words uttered by a “man who certainly knows what he is talking about. It is useless to tinker at the problem. We shall not be given the opportunity for preparation that we were given in the first two world wars. Therefore, the Government must take more definite action than it contemplates.

The amount set out in the budget ie not the answer to safe guarding our defence. The Government’s responsibility does not end with making money .available. The ;point is, .what are we .getting for the -money expended? Sir Thomas Blarney says, “Pricesely nothing”.. He says that .the programme would give Australia a contemptible military force which would be unable to .put one division of thoroughly trained men in the field in an emergency. If that is not an indictment of the Government’s defence policy I should like to know what it is. His statement is factual, because the unit that will be the shock force upon which Australia will have to rely in the event of war will consist of only approximately 5,000 - when it is trained. ‘This unit, which represents an independent brigade consisting of three infantry battalions and an armoured unit, is pathetically inadequate, and when we learn that this tiny cadre is to .be supported by a militia of Saturday ‘afternoon soldiers, however courageous .they may be, we have some idea of the criminal lethargy of the Government.

Let us examine the position in other countries. How do they view :the march of events? Consider the United States of America, the sheet anchor to which we attached ourselves in the war in the Pacific. It is bearing a ‘burden disproportionate ‘to what it should bear. It has taken steps to increase its armed strength by 349,000 to a total of 1,795,000 by a system of universal training which we might well consider adopting in Australia, with the expansion of .a -reserve unit to 11520,000 men- an increase of 454,000 on the present strength. No one can saythat the United States of America is rattling the sabre, but it is the spearhead in the preservation of democracy and peace, fu Great Britain, the National Service Act, which was passed in 1947, is designed to continue in peace the war-time system of conscription for the armed services under that act, which is to operate from the 1st January, 1949. Youths of eighteen years will be called up for twelve months’ service, the annual rate of intake being 150,000. The people of Great Britain are fully alive to the need for taking steps to prepare against a mighty aggressor who may strike without warning. In July of this year the New Zealand Minister for Defence said in the Dominion Parliament that his Government was likely to follow the recommendation of Field Marshal Montgomery and introduce compulsory military training. It was proposed, he said, to call up annually S,000 eighteen-year old youths for fourteen weeks initial training and to give the trainees a two weeks’ annual refresher course for three years before posting them to the reserve. I ask honorable members to consider the action taken by countries which are alive to the possibilities of the present international situation. They are well aware that considerable forces may be amassed against them and that only by having effective well-trained defence forces will they have a chance to survive. Let us look at the possible enemy against which they are directing these defensive plans. Compare the figures which I have cited, and which are based on purely defensive objectives, with the Soviet’s standing army of 3,500,000 to 4,500,000 with 10,000,000 to 12,000,000 trained reserves. Nobody can accuse the democracies of being offensive in their desire to expand their defence forces. Indeed, they are leaning over backwards in their efforts to preserve peace. The Soviet is adopting a purely offensive policy, and I use the word “ offensive “ with a full appreciation of all that it connotes. In the light of these comparisons, where could we look for help if an international incident should set the world ablaze? As I see the position, Australia has much greater responsibility for its own security to-day than it has had at any other time in its history. This responsibility can be discharged only by establishing and maintaining a permanent force consistent with our physical and financial resources, and by backing that force with a large and well-trained reserve which can readily be absorbed into fighting units. This presupposes a close survey of the available man-power of the nation with the object of introducing some form of compulsory military service. The form of service to be rendered can best be determined not by party political policy, because, as I have pointed out, defence is a subject that goes beyond party politics, but by military experts appointed by the Government. This is a matter of nation-wide concern and is of prime importance if we are to survive. Side by side with this a plan must be evolved and tabulated to organize industry in the event of any emergency. I repeat that the mere availability of money is not the answer to the problem of providing for the nation’s defence. The per capita expenditure on defence in the United States of America is approximately £32, in the United Kingdom, approximately £20, and in Australia only £10. Australian expenditure on defence is entirely inadequate by comparison with that of nations which are fully alive to the possibilities of the existing menace to world peace. The United Kingdom, depleted in financial and material resources, but still with fighting strength and tenacity which makes it a power to be reckoned with, is expending twice as much on defence as we are. Moreover, for a good deal of the money expended on defence in Australia we are getting, as Sir Thomas Blarney has said, precisely nothing. A progress report on the five-year defence plan is certainly not the answer to the problem of providing for the nation’s defence. This plan has long been out-dated by the rapid changes in the international situation. The answer to the problem, as I see it, lies in a complete and comprehensive revision of the whole of our defence structure, and that is the policy which, in the interests of the nation, the Opposition urges the Government to adopt wthout loss of time.

The third subject to which I wish to refer is production. The accepted policy of the Labour party for many decades has been that if we produce too much we shall only produce our way into another depression. Honorable members opposite have echoed that policy from time to time. It has taken long and persistent pressure on the part of the Opposition to bring the Prime Minister to a realization, to quote the right honorable gentleman’s own words, “that greater all round production is a job for every one as well as a national responsibility “. To be perfectly candid, [ could never understand the right honorable gentleman’s resistance to this basic fact, because only through production can the Treasurer obtain the revenue necessary to meet national expenditure. The budget must be assessed on this, and on this alone. Therefore, the greater the production under given conditions, the greater will be the revenue, and as this budget may be described as “ chiefly for Chifley “, I am not surprised at the emphasis that has been laid on greater production. No fewer than six consecutive pages of the circulated budget speech, are liberally besprinkled with exhortations to produce more and more. Let me take one example. On page 4 of the speech, the Treasurer says that one of the main factors causing the shortages which now dominate our supply and production problem is - the insufficient output of certain key industries upon which the output of many other industries depends. Coal, iron and steel, timber and other building materials are major examples, and of these the most fundamental is coal.

Then in a burst of expansiveness, the right honorable gentleman went on to say-

Whilst there are local and particular reasons for all these difficulties, the basic reason is undoubtedly the scarcity of labour. [ shall deal with “ the local and particular reasons “ later. But what does the right honorable gentleman mean when he says the basic reason is the scarcity of labour ? F.t seems to me that in making that statement is on very dangerous ground. Does he mean that, if there were no shortage of labour, the workers would produce more and would more closely observe the industrial law and that there would be less absenteeism, fewer strikes and greater industrial har mony? Is that what he is trying to convey or is he merely using a form of words and rendering the customary lipservice to an ideal that we are beginning to expect from him?. He said that total employment in 1947-48 increased by 62,000, but the iron and steel industries gained only 1,000 employees, forestry only 700, and, in New South Wales, coal mining gained only 500 employees. He failed to tell us by what number employees in the public services had increased. Let me complete the picture for him. In 1947-48 the number of public servants increased by 25,000 to a total of 589,300, representing a total increase of 1S4,000 since 1939.

Mr Duthie:

– The honorable gentleman is referring to the public services of the State and the Commonwealth.


– I am referring to the total number of persons employed by all governmental and semi-governmental authorities throughout Australia.

Mr Sheehan:

– Is the Government to be blamed for that total increase?


– Let me cite the Commonwealth figures which may be of more interest to honorable members opposite. In 1939, Commonwealth public servants numbered 67,800. In 1948, the number increased by 101,4’00 to 169,200. How much greater would our production have been had this additional man-power been diverted to productive occupations? Let us look at the coal industry which the Treasurer considers to be the most important Australian industry from the standpoint of its effect upon production. This is the key industry which controls almost the entire production of our secondary industries. Without adequate supplies of coal, light, fuel and heat, the entire future of industry is jeopardized. It is merely beating the air to talk about increased production unless we are assured of an adequate supply of coal for industry and continuous work on the coal-fields to produce that supply. The Treasurer spoke of the employment on the coal-fields of 500 additional miners. Let us compare the position of the coalmining industry to-day with that which existed in 1939, when the Menzies Government was in power. Whenever the subject of coal production is mentioned in this House, honorable- members oppo1site almost invariably hark back- with a’ great deal of pleasure’ to the conditions that existed in 1939; In’ 1939, the total output of- underground - -I emphasize’ the word “ underground “ - coal’ in New South “Wales- was 11,195,,S32. tons; In 1947”, the total’ output was 11,683,000 tons, of which approximately 1,000;0Q0- tons was won by open-cut- mining, which means that flic output of underground coal in- that year was only 10,6S3.000 tons, or 512,000 tons less than in 1939, when the Menzies Government was in office.

The Prime Minister is making an appeal to workers for greater production. Having classified’ coal-mining as a key industry, he visited the coal-fields for the purpose of urging the miners to increase their, output, but they ignored his appeal. Statistics, show that underground production, in .1947 was 512,000 tons less than it was in 1939, despite the fact that an additional 556 coal-miners were employed and mechanization had increased. I shall give an example to show- how. the Government1 is dealing with problems’ on the coal-fields.. This’ winter, Australia suffered: probably the worst rationing of coal in its history; yet’ strikes on the coal-fields caused the- loss of as much coal as the quantity which- wa3 saved by rationing. This crisis caused- industry to be starved of. iron and steely and the; loss struck at’ the heart of: secondary/ pro:duction. Goal rationing entailed’ a dras-tic curtailment of home building, which is the greatest problem confronting any Government in any country, and caused an excessive inflation in home-building costs- throughout Australia. One result of these’ restriction was that. Victoria was compelled to import cement: from Great Britain, because reduced supplies, of coal for rail transport made ifr impossible to lift cement from Kandos in New South Wales. Timber has1 remained stacked at mills’ and sidings;, wheat, which was harvested, last: year; has awaited transport to ports; and the- carriage of farm machinery and. implements has1 been delayed..

The- Joint Goal Board, which early this year expressed concern’ at1 the’ shortage of coal’ caused’ by stoppages; took strong action last June* by applying to the- Coal. Industry Tribunal; which is the miners: own arbitration- authority; for- penaltyprovisions against strikers: Let us consider that’ situation. The- Joint Coa) Board ‘and’ the Coal Industry Tribunal are Government instrumentalities. The Joint’ Coal Board, which arranges’ for- the production of coal, became completely: “ fed up “’ with the conditions obtaining, on the coal-fields; and1 appealed to the Coal’ Industry Tribunal to ascertainwhether penalties could be imposed upon striking- miners. But just when the Coal Industry Tribunal had held that’ the numerous stoppages- called for- an- ex.planation from the miners, and decidedto take some action against the strikers, the Government intervened to effect « settlement. Here,, we have another- glaring example of the Government completely by-passing one of its own- instrumentalities. It has- set up manyauthorities to- deal with industrial disturbances, but if, by chance, those instrumentalities take- decisive action against strikers who cause widespread- distress in a- community, the Government intervenes and -appeases the: industry., In other words, the Government’ by-passe its own tribunals and’ follows a policy of appeasement. It retreats continually under- the pressure exerted by Communistcontrolled unions until chaos results.

Honorable members are familiar- with tha cause of. many stoppages. A malcontent says,. “I am not satisfied with our’ working conditions. Let us go– on strike “. The men cease work. When the tribunal which controls- the industry proposes to take action against- the strikers, the Government intervenes, and puts; into operation, its policy of appeasement. The Communist agitator, who instigated the strike; is then able to say to his fellow workers; “ Well comrades, what did I tell you?’ I said that you had only to stand firm and the Government would retreat “.. Unfortunately, that, is all too true; The. Government’s policy of appeasing the- miners is> another glaring example of the manner in. which it completely sells- out to- extremists and withdraws its full legal and moral! backing from the- instrumentality which it appointed’. One of the- provisions’ of the settlement on, the coal-fields,, to, which; T have referred, was an assurance by the miners that, within three weeks, the federation would submit to members its disciplinary plan, which provided, inter- alia, that there wouldbe no stoppages of work without the endorsement of the district executives. Despite that undertaking sixteen mines are idle on the northern coal-fields because the miners resent the attitude of a mine manager. The Coal Industry Tribunal has again taken a stand by refusing to proceed with the miners’ claim for a 35-hour week until the men return to work. Had the Government originally backed the Coal Industry Tribunal and insisted upon the observance of the principle of arbitration, these impudent stoppages might not have continued. Unfortunately, the Government appeases the miners as soon as they shake the big stick. Until this Government has the courage to compel coal miners to observe the rule of law, industry will be sabotaged by their policy of restricting production in New South Wales. I direct the attention of the Government to the significant words of the secretary of the Joint Coal Board: -

If coal output is not, increased, we will be. in, danger of losing our standard of living within the next five years.

Honorable members must acknowledge the truth of that statement when they see the effect that reduced coal output is having upon primary and secondary industries, They cannot be blind to what is happening. If the Government appoints boards to undertake certain duties for which it is not “ game “ to assume responsibility, the least it can do is not to interfere with those authorities but allow them to do their job. The secretary of the Joint Coal Board, who issued the warning which I have just read, is an authority on the subject to which he is referring. The danger is understandable when we view the inescapable facts.

In his budget speech last year, the Prima Minister referred to the problem of production in these words-

Tasks of this magnitude can be fulfilled only if tackled in a willing spirit and with our full national resources.

Earlier, he had said-

This means, amongst other things, unremittingefforts to achieve greater production . . asIhave emphasized previously, there has never been a greater demand, except in the darkest days of the war, for all Australians to give of their best.

When introducing the budget last week, the Prime Minister again referred to the. need for increased production. He said -

The supply position is improving in most fields . . . many post-war shortages have disappeared and the total volume of goods offering has steadily increased . . .

As a form of words, I find no fault with that statement, but it is not borne out by figures published by the Commonwealth Statistician in the. Monthly Review of Business Statistics for last July. I take it for granted that those figures are authentic. I shall examine them. They do not support the Prime Minister’s statement that the volume of goods has increased, and reveal a decrease, rather than an increase, of the production of a number of important commodities between September, 1947, when the Prime Minister presented last year’s budget, and June, 1948, which marked the end of the last budget period. In that period, the production of bricks decreased by 2.5 per cent., tiles by 1.2 per cent., cement building sheets by 12.5 per cent., Portland cement by 5.7 per cent and sawn native timber by 10 per cent. Despite an increase of the number of persons employed in a number of important industries, production has fallen, showing conclusively that production per man-hour is declining rapidly. For instance, the number of persons employed in brick and tile making increased from 7,905 in September, 1947, to 8,112 at June, 1948, while the number of persons employed in the manufacture of cement and cement goods in the corresponding period rose from 6,366 to 6,563. One may blame the 40 hour week, the introduction of a “ drag “ on production, absenteeism and go-slow methods, but the fact remains that the Prime Minister’s statement in the budget for the current financial year is totally inaccurate when measured against the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures.

According to official statistics, the employment ofmales in factories from 1938-39 to April, 1948, increased by 56.8 per cent. Last April, our output of steel ingot- and castings, compared with prewar production, increased by only 9 per cent. During, the same period, the output of steel ingot and castings increased by 144 per cent, in Canada, 78 per cent, in the United States of America, 46 per cent, in the United Kingdom, 76 per cent, in Belgium and 25 per cent, in France. Are honorable members satisfied with the increase of only 9 per cent. ? Steel ingots and castings are the basis of most of secondary industries. Yet despite the increased number of persons employed in these and other industries, production has not commensurately increased. No wonder the workers in industries which depend on power become extremely cynical, and realize, as they must in the light of these inescapable facts, that the Government’s appeal for increased production can be likened to a game of make-believe. If maximum production were achieved, the Government’s policy of socialism would become nugatory. Free enterprise, as honorable members opposite have said repeatedly, must be discounted at all costs. They believe that a breakdown of production under private enterprise will facilitate the introduction of socialism. How can we achieve greater harmony and understanding in industry or increase production per man-hour when our basic industries are sabotaged by Government whisperers and urgers who placate and appease those who violate the industrial law? The Government makes a pretence of appointing boards and tribunals with plenary powers, but before the ink is dry on the documents of appointment,. the efforts of its appointees are sabotaged, their decisions are by-passed and the officers themselves are held up to ridicule in the eyes of the workers whom they are responsible for controlling. Let the Go.vernment be done with the nonsense of socialism. The people have demonstrated that they do not want it. The Government should concentrate on the enforcement of the rule of law. After all, free enterprise provides employment for 80 per cent, of the workers in industry. The Government should encourage industry to expand, give the workers an incentive to produce and increase their output by reducing their tax burdens, and making more power available to industry in uninterrupted supply. This will make for greater efficiency, not only in work and production, but also in management. Instead of promising the workers a socialist Utopia, in which they will exist merely as units of a beneficent state, the Government should educate and convince them that increased production means higher standards of living. Phillip Murray, the President of the United States Congress of Industrial Organizations, said recently -

The best way to preserve the system of democracy and free enterprise is to make that system work better than it ever has before

Mr. Murray is a citizen of a country with the greatest production in the world. He is the president of a workers’ organization, and recognizes that the way to achieve increased production and to preserve democracy is not to regiment workers but to give them freedom to work and obtain an adequate reward for the products of their labour.


– Order I the Acting Leader of the Opposition has exhausted his time.

Motion (by Mr. Chifley ) - by leave - agreed to -

That so much of the Standing Orders bv suspended as would prevent the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) from concluding his speech without interruption.


– I thank the Prime Minister and the committee. ] shall not detain honorable members much longer, but I wish to complete my observations upon this matter, because I feel that the future of Australia is bound up with the need to extract an honest day’s work from those who are employed in our productive enterprises.

In the budget speech there was the inevitable reference to full employment Honorable members will notice that this is generally accepted by the Government as the outcome of a deliberately planned government policy. Almost without exception, honorable members opposite say, “ The full employment that we are enjoying to-day is the result of a planned government policy”. That is nonsense. It would be remarkable if there were any unemployment in Australia to-day, after six years of interrupted civil effort and restricted purchases. On the one hand, there is a record purchasing power, due to the savings accumulated by the people, and, on the other hand, there are vast arrears of productive effort. Those two factors together make it impossible to come to any conclusion other than that under those circumstances it would be a remarkable country that did not have all of its people fully employed. What concerns me, and what will concern the people of Australia, is how to continue full employment when we begin to overtake these arrears. That is the problem that I commend to the consideration of the Government. The smugness with which the Treasurer said in the budget speech that civil employment increased during 1947-48 by 100,000 and is now 640,000 above the figures for July, 1939, was most apparent. The statement was designed to lead the people to believe that there was a corresponding increase in the rate of production. Indeed, to make this crystal clear, the right honorable gentleman said -

The volume of our exports has, in fact, increased substantially compared with prewar; the volume of meat exports last year was 17 per cent, higher, dairy products 21 per cent, higher, and foodstuffs as a whole 26 per cent, higher.

It will be remembered that I directed a question to the right honorable gentleman with regard to this matter, because 1 found that the figures published by the Commonwealth Statistician gave an entirely different slant to it. It is true that the Treasurer said that there was a conflict of opinion between the Department of Commerce and Agriculture and the Commonwealth Statistician in this regard, and that he proposed to examine the matter, but in the production of a budget there should be no margin of error. If the right honorable gentleman is so lax as to use figures that are not correct then I say there is something radically wrong with the casting of the budget.

Mr Chifley:

– The statements in the budget are correct. I have to-day given the honorable gentleman a paper showing that they are.


– The right honorable gentleman must ensure at least that the facts and figures that the Commonwealth Statistician places before the people of Australia cannot be challenged. On his own statement, the Treasurer has not wilfully misled the people, but the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures show rather a different picture for the period mentioned. The figures that I propose to cite are taken from the trade statistics for June last, which marked the close of the financial year to which the Treasurer referred. The document is published by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. The figures relating to bacon, ham, beef, lamb, mutton, pork and meat preserved in tins show that in 1938-39 export totalled 505,800,000 lb. and that in 1947-48 they amounted’ to 456,700,000 lb. The decrease is 49,100,000 lb., or 10 per cent. The Treasurer says that his figures arp correct, the Commonwealth Statistician publishes these figures as being correct, and the Department of Commerce and Agriculture has a different set of figures altogether, which it is said are also correct. I suggest, that those concerned should “ get into a huddle “ and let the people have the correct figures. The Treasurer stated that there had been an increase of 21 per cent, in dairy produce. The Commonwealth Statistician’s figures show that the exports of butter, cheese, milk and cream, in 1938-39 amounted to 284,500,000 lb. and that in 1947-48 it was 333,070,000 lb. That is an increase of 48,570,000 lb., or only 17 per cent. The figures in respect of butter and cheese only show that in 1938-39 export totalled 265,400,000 lb. and in 1947-48, it was 236,200,000 lb. That is a decrease of 29,200,000 lb., or 11 per cent. The figures prepared by the Commonwealth Statistician throw into relief the claim that is made by the Treasurer. I should like to know the figures that are given by the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, because it seems to me that the various authorities cannot come to a common conclusion on these matters. If this is the measuring stick to apply to production generally, I, for one, refuse to use it. There is a conflict of opinion between the Commonwealth Statistician, the Treasurer and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.

Mr Chifley:

– They are now in complete agreement.


– The Prime Minister used his own figures and I have used those of the Commonwealth Statistician. The public can draw its own conclusion.

Apart from the figures relating to primary and secondary industries that I have quoted how can there be greater production when these facts obtain? I take as the authorities for my comparison Labour Report No. 35 for 1946 and the Official Year-Book No. 32 of 1938. I shall refer to the three basic industries - which, incidentally, are Communist controlled. The figures that I am about to quote will give some indication to the people of the strangle-hold that the Communists have on industry in Australia, and it is one that the Government is powerless to break. Taking the engineering and metal industries and comparing the years 1938 and 1946, in 1946 the number of disputes increased by 78.9 per cent., and the establishments involved by 1670. S per cent. In the coal-mining industry, the number of disputes over the same period increased by 117.8 per cent, and the number of establishments involved by 62.5 per cent. In shipping and wharf labour, the number of disputes increased by 1,150 per cent, and the number of establishments involved by 7,700 per cent. This is tragic, and should wipe away the Government’s smug approach.

Let us look at the picture in another setting. Taking all groups of industry, in 1938 there were 376 disputes, involving 143,954 workers and 558 establishments. En 1946 the number of disputes increased from 376 to 869, the number of workers involved from 143,954 to 348,548, and the number of establishments involved from 558 to 1,882. In 1947 there were 982 disputes, involving 327,137 workers and 3,05S establishments. That is an example of the Communist technique. Those figures show how the Communists are widening their field of influence. They are bringing about more disputes, notwithstanding that we are told again and again by honorable members opposite that a Labour government is more able to control industry than a government of any other party. Where is this control of industry when there has been such a remarkable increase of the number of disputes and the number of men affected? This is a sorry picture, and it clearly shows the need for some action. Words, by the Prime Minister are quite inadequate to meet the situation. .

I have one other observation to make and, although my picture is not complete it will serve to round off the subject. It is rather significant that there was no reference in the Treasurer’s speech to the need for contacting .new markets other than these words -

We can, however, export more only if we produce more, not only of exportable com modities, but of all commodities.

Yet this is one of the most vital problems confronting any Government. How can we develop our vast potential unless we establish new markets, and how can we establish new markets unless we have firm government control, not only over industry, but also over our foreign relations vis-a-vis the other countries of the world. This is the business of the Government.

The Government must not allow capricious interference with production and export by any section of the people. The major unions I have spoken of are Communist controlled, and the Communist ban on Dutch shipping and, incidentally, on Australian trade with the Netherland East Indies, has cost Australia something like £25,000,000 in trade lost apart from the loss of valuable markets that are geographically ours. The secretary of the Australian Exporters’ Federation has said -

Australia lost more than £15,000,000 worth of trade with the Netherlands East Indies in the first year after the war ended, and the Australian trade loss since then would have been between £5,000,000 and £7,000,000 a year.

These markets are lost to us. What is the use of making contacts and contract!: when, with goods actually in hand, when some petty strike, some industrial unrest, some decision on the part of authorities other than the Government can destroy years of patient hard work? Those art matters arising out of the budget which require correction. Members of the Opposition have a sincere and earnest feeling that at this juncture some action of a constructive . and definite nature should be taken by the Government if the country is to increase and develop its potential to protect itself against the ravages of another war. The action need not necessarily oblige us to go out and fight other countries, but at least il should enable us to protect ourselves within our own ‘borders. ‘ Accordingly, on behalf of the Opposition, I move the amendment.


.- The budget may be described as a very good one indeed. It provides, among other things, for a defence system in keeping with the physical and financial resources of Australia; for graduated tax reductions giving relief where, firstly, it is most needed, and secondly, where it will give the least accentuation to an inflationary trend that is .present in the Australian community. It provides further for increased social services to those who need them’ most, and it also provides for a relaxation of the means test similar to relaxations of that test provided by the Government in the last two years. The first major relaxations of the means test were provided by this Government. The budget also provides for substantial aid to the people of Great Britain. Finally, a feature of the .proposals outlined in the budget, is that, as in previous years, the Government has made strenuous endeavours to steady the Australian economy so as to prevent the spiral economic boom which, as shown by the history of both Australia and other-countries, is an almost inevitable consequence of war and the forerunner of a disastrous slump.

The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) has moved an amendment which is, in fact, a motion of censue of the Government. He believes that the Opposition is better fitted than is the Government to carry on the work ‘of government; to prepare for the future development of Australia-; and to provide a better defence plan, and an improved defence programme should war come upon Australia. I do not think ‘that the Australian people would agree that the ‘Opposition is fitted to manifest those qualities which the Acting Deader of the Opposition suggests. Et is very fresh in the minds of the Australian people that when the major test of war came upon this country, the present Opposition, which was the Government at that time, failed to take the actions which -its Acting Leader now states it could perform better than the Government. The present Opposition -failed as a -Government because of the inability -of honorable gentlemen opposite to work together. Accordingly, they gave place to a Labour ‘Government which carried Australia through the ‘most dangerous years of the war. That Government was followed by the present Government. The Opposition, in fact, is now unable to advance any good reason which would justify its succeeding the present Government on the treasury bench.

The Acting Leader of the Opposition stated that the late Mr. Curtin, in a speech which he made ten months prior to the war, ridiculed the idea that Australia required a defence policy. Long years before the war broke out the late Mr. Curtin dealt at very great length with Australia’s vital defence needs. I remember very vividly an occasion during the 1937 elections when he stressed in the strongest- terms that Australia, because of its geographical position, required, above everything, a strong air force. He stressed in terms that were, in fact, prophetic, that Australia could afford a vastly expanded air force. He stressed also -that, of all the nations of the world, Australia was particularly suited for adequate defence by air power. At the same time he stressed that Australia “must continue to build up an adequate naval defence. Bight through the years the late Mr. Curtin drew pointed attention to the fact that Australia’s defences were being neglected by the Government of the day and he offered practical suggestion for their improvement.

The Acting Leader of the Opposition referred to a statement made by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman). That honorable gentleman and also the Service Ministers will, no doubt, answer that statement as the debate proceeds, but I merely state in passing that while the Minister for Defence did suggest that we might have a. limited period in which we would be free from war, he stressed at the same time, as the spokesman for the Government, that the Government was proceeding with an adequate and coordinated defence programme which, commensurate with our resources both physical and financial, should make a major contribution to our defence under a co-ordinated defence scheme with the

United States of America and the other members of the United Nations. The Minister offered it as his view that war would not come for some years. It was wrong to suggest, as the Acting Leader of the Opposition did, that such a statement by the Government or any of its responsible Ministers indicated that the Government was not taking major steps to ensure that Australia’s defence would be in a satisfactory condition in the event of war. Defence is not only a matter of standing armies or rocket research or general research in the field of “ advanced technical weapons. Australia’s defence rests not only on arms or research, but also upon its own factory production and the diversification of industrial potential. On those lines the Government has taken major action and has established a corps upon which could be built substantial forces, in proportion to population, when the need arises. At the same time rocket research, and research into the possibilities of scientific warfare, are being carried out at substantial cost by the Government. The Government, by active and successful attempts to develop Australia’s industrial potential, is providing the basis of a future war effort that is not only essential but is absolutely vital in terms of modern war. The Acting Leader of the Opposition also said that the Government had not attempted to counter the inflationary trend in Australia, and quoted an authority for his statement. I can also quote an authority in rebuttal from an unexpected source - the National Bank of Australasia’s monthly summary, as quoted in the West Australian of 12th August last. The newspaper report reads -

After stating that the Federal Government’s financial policy has been devoted directly or indirectly towards checking inflation, the National Bank, in its latest month’y summary, admits that there is much to be said in favour of a policy of “ disinflation “ when the total quantity of money is too plentiful and goods are too few.

The report states, in contradiction of the view expressed by the Acting Leader of the Opposition, that the disinflation policy of the Government had much to commend it in the present state of the country’s production and financial plans. Another article in the same newspaper stated that the national income of Australia had greatly improved compared with the pre-war years and that “ real income per head of population had improved about 14 per cent, on pre-war levels “. There, from a really authoritative source, the policy of the Government is stated to be directed against inflation, something which is surely in keeping with the needs of the times. The honorable member said that the tax concessions granted by the Government were not adequate, and he added that the sales tax, which he described as a most inequitable tax, had not been substantially cut. Strangely enough, I agree with him that greater relief might have been granted by reducing indirect taxation, even if such relief had to precede the reduction of direct taxation. This view, although put forward now by the Acting Leader of the Opposition, has not always been held by the parties for which he speaks for, in volume 165 of Hansard, at page 95, the present Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) is recorded as saying-

After a careful examination of the various suggestions, the Government is convinced that the present system of sales taxation is to be preferred to taxation of any other type yet tried out in the various countries of the world.

The Acting Leader of the Opposition misstated the policy of the Labour party when he said that it was opposed to increased production on the ground that it would cause workers to lose their jobs, and lead to a depression. The policy of the Labour party has always aimed at achieving maximum employment. “We have always believed that unemployed workers and unemployed resources represent an economic as well as a human loss. “We have always argued that there is, at every stage, a production problem, even in time of depression. “We have always sought to give purchasing power to the workers, not as a charity, but through employment, knowing that all sections of the community must benefit from increased production. The Government has sought, by every means in its power, to increase production, and to ensure a more equitable distribution of that production, so as to raise the general standard of living. By its general budget policy, including high taxation on high incomes, and by expanding social services, the Government has sought to ensure a better distribution of production.

In drawing attention to what he described as the vast and growing army of public servants, the Acting Leader of the Opposition said that the number of government employees in Australia in 1.947-48 was 589,300. I do not think that he deliberately tried to mislead, and he himself admitted that this figure included all those persons employed by governments, whether Commonwealth or State, municipalities and statutory bodies. According to figures supplied to me to-day by the Public Service Board, the number of Commonwealth public servants is about 125,000. The number increased in recent years because of the war, and in order to meet the situation arising out of the war. Of this figure of 1.25,000, no fewer than 58,000 are employed by the Postmaster-General’s Department. The honorable gentleman did not criticize strongly the expansion of the Commonwealth Public Service, but other members of the Opposition, and some newspapers, have criticized it trenchantly. They have condemned the Government for allowing the Public Secvice to expand, and they have claimed that the country could be efficiently administered with a smaller number of public servants, thus greatly reducing expenditure. That, however, is not true, [f all Commonwealth public servants worked for nothing the saving to the taxpayers would not be very great. It should also be remembered that nearly half the number of Commonwealth public servants find employment in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, which is a great revenue producer. Far from asking that the number of employees in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department be reduced, most honorable .members have pressed from time to time for improved postal facilities, knowing that these can be provided only by increasing the staff. It is evident, therefore, that there is very little opportunity to effect economies in the Public Service.

The Acting Leader of the Opposition dealt at large with what he termed the socialist policy of the Government. Just what he meant by that I do not know, hut it is evident that there is an increas ing tendency by all governments in Australia to extend public ownership of utilities. For instance, the HollwayMcDonald Government in Victoria recently increased the borrowing powers of the State Electricity Commission from £15,000,000 to £60,000,000. The Victorian State Electricity Commission is one of the greatest undertakings of its kind in Australia, and the present anti-Labour Victorian Government has seen fit to extend enormously the field of its operations. The same trend may be observed in Western Australia. Recently, the presidenof the Western Australian division of the Liberal party criticized the transport policy of the State Liberal-Country Party Government, and he added -

As a result we have seen fairly large extensions of Government road transport services and we feel that the Government, in instituting and operating these services, is invading a field which would he better left to private enterprise.

Of course, the Government, by taking over and developing public utilities, is merely applying a policy which has become inevitable, and even the anti-Labour governments in the States have been compelled to adopt the same policy in essence if not in extent.

Although the Treasurer’s administration has been criticized by the Opposition and the press, an examination of the budget for the financial year recently concluded shows that the estimate of revenue was exceeded by less than 15 per cent. When we remember the complexity of the items involved, and the changing nature of the various sources of income, we must concede that the result was satisfactory. Let us compare it with the State budget of Western Australia, where the Government operating in a more restricted field, and with sources of income far less subject to variation, had to admit to a revenue variation from its estimate of approximately 12£ per cent. In regard to the major items of income tax receipts, the variation from the Commonwealth Treasurer’s estimate was less than 3 pei cent. In the case of social service contributions, the variation was considerable, this being brought about by increased assessments not formerly issued, and from receipts in respect of assessments previously issued but not satisfied. The returns from company taxation increased considerably; showing that companies had made increased profits during recent years. Shortly after the peace- in-industry conference in Canberra twelve months ago, Smith’s Weekly- published an article in which it was stated that employers as well as workers must play their part. The article stated chat profits- in industry were too high, and ought to be reduced. It is evident, however, that profits have gone on increasing. Sales tax returns have also increased as the result of rising prices.

The Treasurer drew attention in his budget speech to the dollar situation, not only as it affects Australia, but also as it affects the world generally. The call upon American production by countries devastated by war, and by countries which have been starved of American imports since the war began, has made it impossible to obtain from the United States of America all the goods which this country would and could use. As the Treasurer pointed out,, it is the duty of Australia to make a major contribution, to- Britain’s economy. Britain is faced with, problems of great magnitude. It must rehabilitate its own factories, homes and farms, and play a major part in the rehabilitation of the devastated countries of Europe. Therefore, Australia must curtail its dollar purchases, so that we may make no greater call than is accessary on the dollar resources available to Great Britain, and the rest of the sterling area. Australian farms and factories have, therefore, to go without machinery and other supplies from America because of this limiting factor.

The Government has- . prepared a balanced programme for- defence expenditure covering all the items necessary to prepare the country to wage modem war should the need arise. The defence plan, which was recently outlined in this House, provides for the expenditure of £250,000,000 over a period of five years, and. it is being put into effect as- fast as the- resources of the country permit. At the same time, of course, the Govern-, ment is co-operating fully with international organizations- and the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations: We must pay- tribute to the Prime Minister ‘ for having gone to the United Kingdom to discus? with its Government the problems com’ mon to both countries. It was a- hurried visit, and it must have imposed a great strain upon the right honorable gentleman, especially as so many diverse problems have to be solved at home. Th* fact that he went on the mission indicate* that he does; not spare himself in hi> efforts to promote our interests..

It is estimated that social services will cost £80,000,000 this financial year. That greatly exceeds the expenditure on social services before the Labour party took office. Age and invalid pensioners will benefit considerably from a rise of the rate of pension and an easing of the means test. A married couple whose ages entitle each of them to the age pension will be entitled to a maximum permissible income plus pension of £7 5s. a week. Apart from dwellings and other, exempt property, pensioners will be able to own property worth £100, instead of £50, without suffering a reduction of their pensions. The scale on which the rate of pension will be reduced in .accordance with the value of property owned bv pensioners will be gradual. The basis of the means test is by no means iniquitous. Indeed; it is liberal. Petitions have been presented to the- Parliament by pensioners’ organizations asking for the abolition of the means test; but I do not think that that would help many pensioners. The Government would like to abolish the means test, but finds it impossible to do so in the present circumstances. It has, however, shown evidence of its desire to do so by the major relaxations that it has made in the last couple of years. The Government intends to increase the rate of the child endowment payments. It has not seen fit to endow the first child, as advocated by honorable gentlemen opposite during the last general election campaign. The reason, for that is obvious to all honorable members. Child endowment considerably eases the financial burden? of men with families, in whose interest? the Government has largely succeeded- in its attempts to> hold; down, prices in Australia.

I come now to the matter of financial assistance of the- States- and! the uniform income tax procedure. Some S’tate. governments have sought the restoration of their right to levy and collect their’ own taxes. That would probably suit the major States of Mew South Wales and Victoria, but it would be a. tragedy to undeveloped States like: Western Australia, South. Australia and Tasmania. Western Australia would lose heavily. The present, system not only -substantially increases the revenues available to the Government of that. State but also releases it from the odium that accompanies the imposition of high taxes. Western Australia also benefits from special financial grants. As the Prime Minister has said from time to time, it is only fair that the more populous States should provide money for the development of the less populous States. [ welcome the provision in the budget for the granting of financial assistance to Western Australia for the expansion of water conservation and reticulation. The Government is to be commended for its decision to help Western Australia in that way, because it will benefit not only that State but also the whole of Australia.

It has been claimed that the proposed reductions of taxes are meagre or niggardly, but honorable gentlemen opposite, if they examine the figures, will see that substantial concessions are to be granted to people in the lower and middle income groups. People earning up to £500 or £600’ a year will pay less income tax than that paid in any State, except, perhaps, Victoria, before the war. The tax: on high incomes is still severe, but the people earning such incomes can afford to pay it. High taxation does not cause them discomfort or hardship. The more they are required to pay the less is the strain on the Australian prices structure. Since the war ended the’ Government has granted tax concessions worth millions of pounds. It has been, claimed in criticism of the Government that the concessions are insufficient because the total taxation receipts are- still much higher than they were. That is a completely dishonest argument. Had tax rates: remained at their highest level, the revenue would.’ have been vastly swollen.. It is idle and foolish to compare, the volume of taxation receipts, in any one year with the volume in .a. previous year and argue that taxation has not been reduced! Doubtless during the debate, we shall hear the argument that the Government has reduced by only a small percentagethe income tax paid by people on low incomes; but they have been given substantial concessions, though the amount of the reduction is not so great as it isin the higher, income brackets.

The Acting Leader of the Opposition ridiculed the claim that the Government’s; policy was responsible for the full employment that exists in Australia and expressed doubt whether full employment could be maintained when shortage.’ created by the war had been eliminated. When the policy of full employment was announced by the Government it wa? ridiculed. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) said that we could neverattain full employment and should aim at merely a high level of employment. But there is psychological force in our insistence upon full employment. The Labour movement believes that unemployed men and materials diminish the total resources available to the people. A coordinated plan of public works to be carried out by the Australian, Government, State governments and local governing, bodies will be put into operation whenever it is necessary to cope with unemployment resulting from a slackening of the demand for labour when the war-caused shortages of commodities have been made up. We do not intend to be bound by any ideas that money cannot bp made available to provide useful employment. The provision, of housing will provide men with work for years. The plan envisages slum clearance projects in the cities of Australia. Those, too, will provide work for years. It is proposed to extend water conservation and reticulation. Our plans provide for a programme of work that will keep in employment all the people whom we can attract t’o Australia as well as those already here.

Mr ARCHIE Cameron:

– The honorable member is looking forward to a. golden age.


– Yes. I am unlike the honorable member’ for Barker in. that respect, for he is incapable of looking forward, to. an era when full, employment, will’ exist: We refuse, to fac* a future in which misery will stalk Hie land with thousands and thousands >f men and women out of work. That, ive say. provides the answer to the fear x Dressed by the Acting Leader of the Opposition that when post-war shortages have been met, full employment may not bo maintained. That is the sort of spurious thinking that has been indulged in by honorable members opposite throughout the years. They have always contended that a slump must follow a boom period as inevitably as the ebb follows the flow of the tide. I firmly believe that if this Government is defeated and replaced by a government formed of the parties opposite our hope of full employment in the future will not be realized. Since the termination of World War II. honorable members opposite have consistently clamoured for sharp and immediate tax reductions, the extension of bank credit and other financial measures, including borrowing to meet budget deficits. The adoption of such a policy would no doubt bring about a brief boom, but it would be followed inevitably by a slump. Having regard to the circumstances which now confront Australia, the Treasurer has produced a budget which is a credit to him for it lays solid foundations upon which the future progress and prosperity of the Australian community will be built. We have been repeatedly urged by honorable members opposite to reduce taxes sharply and to borrow money to finance capital works which are at present met out of revenue. That was the policy followed by non-Labour governments after World War I., and we are all aware of the tragic results which resulted from it. In periods of high prices for primary products, the governments of the day, instead of meeting the major needs of the government from revenue, added vast sums to Australia’s public debt. When the inevitable fall in prices took place the situation had to be met with the handicap of a vastly increased public debt and a considerably reduced taxable capacity. Our consequent experiences were bitter indeed. The Government would be recreant to its trust if it followed the bad example set by non-Labour governments after World War I. It would be lacking in political sense if it failed to profit by the lessons of the past. Honorable members opposite, however, choose to ignore them. In his budget speech the Treasurerhas laid down a policy which will makemuch more easy the task of succeedinggovernments. For that he deserves the thanks of the people and not the abuse to which he has been subjected by most of the press throughout the country.

Because of the disquieting world situation, the Acting Leader of the Opposition has called upon the. Government to make greater provision for Australian defence. The Government has given and will continue -to give its fullest attention to Australia’s defence needs. It has sought to provide the necessary man-power for our defence forces without making major reductions in our industrial man-power resources. It is expending large sums of money on defence research projects and is co-operating in every possible way with the United Nations and with other members of the British Commonwealth.


.- Before dealing with controversial aspects of the budget, I wish to offer my congratulations to the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) on being the first Australian Treasurer to present his eighth successive budget to the Parliament. That record will, I believe, last for many -years. In order to achieve this distinction, the right, honorable gentleman has had to work hard and has had to carry a tremendous burden for a long period of years. Whether wo agree or disagree with his financial policy, we can at least pay tribute to him for this notable achievement. Having had the honour to present seven successive budgets to the Parliament, I am well aware of the strain to which the right honorable gentleman has been subjected and I am glad that he is still so well and strong.

Before dealing with the budget in detail I propose to answer some of the comments made by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke). Amongst other things, the honorable member charged non-Labour governments of the past with having neglected the defence of this country. I refute that charge by directing his attention to the figures contained on page 18 of the Budget Papers presented by the present Treasurer, which show that during the life of the BrucePage Government, in addition to the ordinary annual appropriations, no less than £10,000,000 was provided for the development of the defence services. In 1923-24, in addition to the ordinary votes for the services, an amount of £2,500,000 was provided for naval construction and defence reserve; in 1925-26, an additional £1,500,000 was provided for naval construction; and in 1927-28, an additional £2,250,000 was made available for naval construction and defence reserve. In the latter year, when the budget deficit was £2,630,237, I, as Treasurer, provided £2,820,000 for special services, including the £2,250,000 to which I have referred. When the Labour Government assumed office in 1929 it knocked down the defence structure. It wiped out compulsory military training and virtually destroyed the Royal Military College at Duntroon. _ It laid up the cruisers then in commission and dealt a. blow to the defence system of Australia from the effects of which it took us many years to recover. In 1934, the Lyons Government commenced to restore the defence structure. In 1938, that Government provided approximately £60,000,000 for defence in order to prepare the nation for the war which then seemed to be imminent. In 1935, that Government laid the foundations of the aircraft industry in Australia and before the outbreak of World War II. Australianmade aircraft were in service. As the result of the foresight of the Lyons Government many thousands of pilots throughout the whole Empire were able to receive their initial training in Australian-made Wirraways. Because of the foresight of the Lyons Government our airmen were able to take part in the war in the Middle East and Germany and even in the Battle for Britain. In 1938 the Lyons Government bought the two cruisers, Sydney and Canberra, which played a noble part in the defence of our country before they were sunk by the enemy. The Labour party’s policy up to the outbreak of war was to oppose universal military training and to move in this Parliament for the reduction of defence appropriations. The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison), whom I congratulate upon the useful and able speech which he made to-night, has pointed out that, even after Munich, the Labour party refused to recognize the seriousness of our situation and tried to prevent us from arming for our own defence. Our withers are unwrung in this matter, particularly when we compare our record with the pusillanimous record of the Labour party in this Parliament over many years.

I was amused when the honorable member for Perth stated that, although the various tax reductions provided for in the budget were low, the percentages were very high. What is the good of high percentages if the reductions are low in terms of cash? Cash is what a man spends. He cannot buy anything in the shops just by showing a percentage. He must have money to buy the goods that he wants. The gravamen of the charge made against the Government by the Opposition is that it will not deal with the problem of tax reduction in a realistic way and refuses to do anything which will raise the morale of the workers and give them a real incentive to work. Had the Government adopted the proposals submitted in 1941-42 by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) for a system of compulsory loans in combination with income tax, I venture to say that the coal shortage would never have become as serious as it is and the Communists would not have gained control of the coal-mining unions. I beg the Government to display some realism even at this late stage. The stupid tax rebate system which it introduced as soon as it took office in 1941, under which tax is always assessed on gross income instead of on the net income, is the greatest deterrent to increased production that we have ever known. I was intrigued when in Brisbane recently to hear the comments of a very distinguished professor from the University of Wisconsin, who is regarded as one of the great tax authorities of the world. He has examined tax systems in many countries. He said, “ I congratulate you on having a unique specimen. No other country has produced a system that can so definitely discourage men from working as does this system of taxing on the gross rate of income instead of the net income “. Consider the effect of taxes on a married man earning about £7 a week. At present rates he is taxed an amount of £15 on an incomeof £350 a year. Ifhe were to increase his income by £250 to £600 a year, he would be taxed £56, an increase of £41. Furthermore,instead of paying only 10s. 6d. aweek in social services contribution, he would have to pay 18s. a week, and for exactly the same social services !No wonder hebecomes riled and says, “ I will notwork hard. Why should I be robbed in this way ?”.As the Acting Leader of the Opposition has said, this is really “ a budget for Chifley “. Something must be done about this iniquitous system or we shall never escape from the evils of low production.

In examining our economic situation, it isworth while to pay attention to the resources, particularly of man-power, which we have to meet our commitments. In 1939, there were approximately 7,000,000 people in Australia. According to the latest census, the population is now about 7,500,000. The national debt has been more than doubled. In 1939 it was £1,200,000,000; to-day it is about £2,700,000,000. The interest burden has doubled, and a great deal ofthat expenditure is absolutely unproductive. Today, 7,500,000 people pay three times as much in taxes as 7,000,000 people paid eight years ago. A fantastic budget like this can be produced only because of the tremendous value of our goods on overseas markets. In 1938-39, our exports were worth £140,000,000; in 1947-48 they were worth £406,000,000. Yet when I examined details of those exports, I found that last year we shipped overseas only a fraction of the quantity of goods that was exported in 1938-39. Despite the Prime Minister’s assurance that thefigures cited in his budget speech were correct and that exports of dairy products had increased by 27 per cent, and of meat by 17 per cent., [venture to say that the real explanation is that there has been a typographical error by which the world “ volume “ has been substituted for “ value “. That would explain why this false story has been disseminated. It is wrong that a considered statement should be broadcast throughout the world citing figures which can be contradicated by anybody who caresto examine the statistics, which are available to many people apart from the Commonwealth Statistician. Con sider our overseastrade inwool. The budget shows that the value of wool exported in 1946-47 was about £96,000,000. whereas the clip last year was worth £119,000,000, an increase of more than £20,000,000 although the quantity was only about four-fifths of the 1946-47 clip. This state of affairs explains why the Government obtains such a huge income from taxes at its reduced rates. In 1938- 39, Australia exported 503,000,000 lb. of meat. Last year it exported 458,000,000 lb., which is nearer a 17 per cent, decrease than a 17 per cent, increase. Over the same period, butter exports declined from 229,000,000 185,000,000 lb. and exports of lead and zinc decreased considerably. Considering the fact that the number of ‘men available in the labour market ‘has increased by about 640,000, one can readily see that the average rate of production has decreased rather than increased.

The budget, although it is based upon an anticipated continuance of high prices, good seasons and increased production, is really the budget ofa disillusioned Treasurer whose pipe dream is coming to an end. It reveals a ‘policy of recantation. There is almost nothing left of the Labour party’s orignal policy. I venture to say that ten years hence there will be no more vestiges on the statutebook of what has been done in the last eight years than remain to-day of what was done by the Scullin Government seventeen or eighteen years ago. It will all pass away, and one of the first things to go will be the stupid rebate system of taxation. It will be wiped out as soon as the next election is over because it is one of the most irritating features of Australia’s economy and one of the most appallingmenaces to national development. Twenty years ago, the Treasurer preached to his deluded followers the wisdom of adopting an isolationist economy for Australia, which was to be cushioned against fluctuations in world conditions. But in his budget speech last week, and again in a broadcast last Sunday, the right honorable gentleman told a woeful story about the dollar stringency, and the necessity, on that account, to ration essential imports. I assume that he made an exception ofmachinery for cement manufacture; to which the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) has referred. Until a>few months ago, the right honorable gentleman had assured us that,, provided we nationalized; our- banking system, world economic conditions could never worry us. All honorable members know- that the restriction of imports from the dollar area, is steadily impeding our production,, and adding’ to the- general chaos.

Ten years ago, the Labour party was solidly against migration. One of the first administrative, acts of the Scullin Government was to withdraw the amount, of £30.0,000, which the Bruce-Page Government had provided annually to assist migration. Between World War I. and. World War II.,. the Australian Labour party strenuously resisted migration, but. it has- since recanted. Frightened, as the result of its rotten defence- policy, it is new scouring the world for migrants. During, the election, campaign, in 1.946 the Government declared that it was opposed to further reductions of taxes. To-day, however, every honorable member opposite boasts of the tax reductions that the Government has made. The Government also talks expansively of social security,, but I emphasize that its social security programme is absolutely insecure. Expenditure on social services depends on receipts from taxes which, in turn, are dependent entirely upon the continuance of high prices for our goods, in overseas markets. As soon as those values decline, we shall be in a first-class; mess. The social services programme is getting out of hand, like a wild horse which has broken away from the bridle. Four years ago, the Treasurer established the National Welfare Fund, and the relevant act provided that the annual payment into that account should be £30,000,000 or onequarter of the total receipts from income tax, whichever was the greater. Now, the sky is the limit for expenditure, which is rising so rapidly that social services will soon absorb nearly all the receipts from income tax. Very little will be left for the States. Although the -social security programme has expanded so rapidly, the means test is still applied -to applicants for age and invalid pen sions. The result, is that an unfortunate public servant who has contributed for many years to the superannuation fund of the Commonwealth or. of: a State, or a. pers.on. who. has- saved £600., or who owns a house from which, he receives rent of £1 or £1 10s. a week, is debarred from the age pension. In addition to its financial basis- being so insecure, the Government’s methods are disorganizing the States’ management of hospitals, and completely destroying voluntary systems such as friendly societies^ and hospital insurance schemes. The uniform income tax enables it to collect from income tax on individuals approximately enough fundsto reimburse the States, which still have their own functions to undertake. In 1926, I, as Treasures sponsored the on gina] Federal Aid Roads Agreement. The arrangement was that the scheme was to. operate for ten years, and the States, which were to administer .it, contributed 15s. for every £1 which the Commonwealth contributed. About a year ago. the Chifley Government altered the basis of the scheme. The period of operation was reduced to three years, and the Commonwealth, not the States, undertook the administration. Honorable members will readily recognize the advantages of the ten-year scheme. For example, an engineer could make a career of road construction, and the States felt justified in incurring the expense of purchasing roadmaking machinery. Those advantages disappear when a scheme operates for only three years.

The financial health of the States now depends upon Commonwealth policy and the whim of the Treasurer of the day. That condition of affairs cannot continue. Unfortunately, the Treasurer and his supporters seem to be completely complacent about the whole position. For reasons which I shall give in a few moments, this .Parliament and the country under the guidance of the Government resemble a patient who is suffering from peritonitis, is in a comtaose condition and is unaware of the imminent approach of doom. .Benumbed and past all feeling, he thinks that his condition is satisfactory. He will die unless drastic action is taken immediately to save him. Australia is in that condition and drastic economic action is needed at the present time. The census shows that Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania have not succeeded in holding their natural increase. Indeed, they have lost some thousands of their population to Sydney and Melbourne. Our rural areas are being denuded of population. We are really in a mess. In addition, the structure of our total population has altered. Nearly 400,000 more people are over the age of 50, and 150,000 fewer are between the ages of five and twenty, than was the case fourteen years ago.

Mr Barnard:

– What is the right honorable gentleman doing about it?


– I shall suggest wine remedies in a few moments, but, first, I recommend the abolition of the tax rebate system which imposes an unjustified burden on taxpayers. From time to time, I have made constructive proposals, but the Government has ignored them. It now possesses the constitutional power, which its predecessors lacked, to remedy the position.

The real issue before Australia, which this crazy budget does not touch, is the necessity to formulate a population policy that will settle sufficient people in our strategic areas to enable us to defend ourselves, and give a growing population which will assist to maintain high employment. The stark fact is that the Government’s policy is bringing us to the abyss of disaster. Its whole policy does not contain any constructive proposals that really deal with fundamentals. It allocates £100,000,000 for expenditure on one project, £50.000,000 for another and £20,000^000 for’ a third, but does not touch the crux of the problem. The last census shows two outstanding factors. The first is that during the last fourteen years, the whole countryside of Australia outside the capital cities has not held its natural increase. The great bulk of this continent is losing, not only the natural increase, but also much of the existing population. This position is most true of our vulnerable north, including parts of Queensland, the northwest of Western Australia and even the “Northern Territory. The second outstanding factor is the dire revelation that, in the age group from five to twenty, Australia’s population is 150,000 fewer than it was fourteen years ago. The recent census shows that Australia is metaphorically dying on its feet. The statistics for 1947 published by the Commonwealth Statistican in March, 1948, show that new arrivals in this country exceeded those who permanently left Australia by only 12,200. After all this ballyhoo about the Government’s migration policy, the chartering of vessels, the provision of air travel for migrants, and so on, we find that the actual increase for the year was only 12,200. According to those statictics, the “ golden age “ will not continue forever. We must realize that the overseas prices of our export products on which the prosperity of the country so greatly depends are liable to fall at any time. This crazy budget provides for expenditure of all kinds, and such extravagant expenditure cannot be maintained when overseas prices fall, as they are certain to do. The remedy is increased production and elimination of governmental waste. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), after talking for twenty years of making Australia watertight agains? international monetary troubles, now admits that despite the banking legislation he can act and move to increase production only within the limitations imposed by the dollar situation. The policies which lie has pursued have hastened our economic decline by restricting production, and the rebate system of taxation has removed incentive. Because of the Government’s taxation policy and the lack of discipline due to the Government’s attitude, the great metropolitan unions have become most fertile soil for the seeds of Communist agitation. The strikes and hold-ups which are constantly occurring are dislocating our transport and coalmining industries, and the production of gas and electricity, which are so essential for industry, has been reduced to a minimum. We are experiencing a scaricity of goods of all kinds and because of the hardships imposed our social life has become almost uncivilized. When he went to Newcastle recently, the Prime Minister is reported to have said that, after his return from Berlin, conditions in Sydney reminded him of a devastated and conquered city. Houses cannot be built, because of the shortage of building materials, and even when materials are available in many instances it is not possible to get permission to build from the controlling authorities. Because of the scarcity of materials the houses that are built are too small to accommodate a growing family. The cost of building has become so high that the average working man has no prospect of ever becoming the owner of his home. The entire economic structure of Australia is based on such flimsy foundations that only a slight fall of the overseas prices of our primary produce is needed to bring the whole structure tumbling around our ears.

In those circumstances surely the vital task confronting the Government is to stimulate our birth-rate, and to retain the natural increase of population in all parts of Australia and not merely in the capital cities. The urgent need for remedial action is illustrated by the statistics of the recent census. The New South Wales Government Statistician recently issued a statement in which he gave statistics for the eighteen regions into which he had divided that State for the purposes of his calculations. In the Sydney, Newcastle and Illawarra districts the population had increased by more than the natural increase, but the population of the RichmondTweed, Clarence and Oxley districts, which the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) and I represent in the Parliament, had increased by only 5 per cent. That “ increase “ is misleading, and in reality represents a loss of from 12 to 14 per cent, of the population which it is estimated should bo contained in those areas. Throughout the rest of the State the population has declined. The New England district, which is one of the most fertile parts of the world, has lost 5,000 people as well as the whole of its natural increase. The same trend is evident in South Australia and Western Australia. In South Australia although the population has increased by approximately 66,000 during the last fourteen years, outside the metropolis every division of that State has failed to hold its own actual natural increase. Four of the eight divisions of that State, including the lower north, upper north, and the Murray Valley, have actually lost population, apart altogether from their failure to hold any natural increase. In Western Australia the only areas which have “held their own “ - are the metropolitan and the northern districts. The northern agricultural, north-western, northern goldfields and south-western districts nave not only failed to hold their actual natural increase, but, in addition, have lost a number of residents. The position in Queensland is really serious, and northern and central Queensland are as badly affected as any other part. It is imperative that the Government should stimulate an increase of our population, and we should bear in mind that Australian babies are our best migrants. Current statistics reveal that we are becoming an ageing nation, and by the time our population reaches the target of 8,000,000 people envisaged by the Government Statistician, most of us will be age pensioners. Then the Government will be unable to find sufficient people earning enough money to pay those pensions. How can we possibly bear the burden of our huge debts and high taxes, and at the same time maintain our standard of living under these conditions ?

The first thing we must do is to offer inducements to our people to marry al the right age and have children. The mere replacement of our present population requires that on an average every married couple shall * have four children, but the average number of children at present born to each family is only approximately two. Vigorous measures must be adopted to remedy that situation, and those measures must be given the highest priority, because our continued existence as a race depends upon their efficacy. Before we can expect our young people to marry and have children we must improve the economic and social conditions for parents and children of large families. That can be achieved partly by making taxation concessions to the fathers of large families, and partly by governmental action to lower costs of production so as to reduce the cost of living. That cost can be reduced by payment of subsidies on essential foods. We must also provide a substantial background of social and economic security for the parents of large families, and an .appreciable part of the cost of any such scheme must be transferred from the individual to the community as a whole. I am satisfied that the great majority of the people desire to -contribute to any such scheme provided that they can share in. its distribution. The first thing- that we must do is to provide homes in which the occupiers can have some sense of responsibility and ownership. We must remove the crippling restrictions which tend to create what I may call “no baby” homes. The governmental authorities will not permit people to build homes of more than from 750 to 1,000 square feet floor space. In special circumstances the area may be increased to 1,250 square feet. That is not sufficient to provide room for a family with one child, let alone two, three or four children.. We must alter those restrictions and by increasing the production of building materials make it possible for people to- build better homes. When we have done that we can let the people go ahead and build their, own homes, because there are plenty of builders available. The New South Wales Minister for Housing, who is a member of a Labour administration, admitted that approximately five-sixths of the total number of houses built in that State in the last twelve months were built by private contractors. The position in regard to building in. Brisbane is so bad that building contractors no longer desire to build homes. They have been so frustrated by governmental controls and lack of building materials that many of them have become bankrupt while waiting, for the supply of materials after they have commenced operations.

We must, increase our production of coal, iron and steel,, and improve our transport. Production can be increased only by introducing systems of discipline into industry in place- of. the miserable attempts at appeasement that are made by the Government, which is continually giving’ way to Communist agitators. If we could get more production of basic materials’ we could increase the quantity of building materials available. The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) recently pointed out that production of pig-iron and steel has declined most. These products are easily made, they are manufactured mostly by the use of machines and their manufacture can. proceed, so long as coal and other essentials are ‘obtainable. Houses must becapable of having additions made to them and they should be provided with modern, labour-saving devices. While the present housing stortage exists, preference should: be given to those with large families in. the allotment of houses.

The second line of reform is’ the provision of relief and help for the mother in the home, especially housekeeping services, &c, when she is in hospital. The money needed to do that, would be much better employed than in the provision of free medicine. Indeed, if the relief and help that I suggest, were provided most of the children would not need any medicine.

Mr Barnard:

– Why did’ not the1 right honorable gentleman do something abour it when, he had the opportunity ?


– I did. I have at my own expense- done things in my. own. town with, regard to children’s playgrounds. When I was- Minister foi Health I. provided for every State of the Commonwealth a pattern of pre-school kindergartens. Whatever was or was not done in the past, these thingsmust be done now. Honorable members opposite act as though they were still in opposition. They are always saying to honorable members on this side of the chamber, “ Why did. you not do this or that?” This Government has now been in office for six or seven years, but it actaas though it. was still, in. opposition. It has no constructive policy. Honorable members opposite are terrified when the extremist Communist, agitators shake their sticks.

The third line of reform is the provision of greatly improved maternity hospital, medical and nursing services. Thefirst essential is to make the necessary Beds available. When some of the social services legislation was rushed through in the middle of the night, I pointed out what many distinguished men in England had told me, namely, that it’ was not possible, to have an efficients national’ medical service -“without first solving the problem of the supply of the necessary hospital buildings and equipment. That must be done.

The fourth line of ‘reform is the provision of economic security as far as possible. One step that could be taken immediately -would be to -wipe out the silly rebate system, which completely invalidates the family allowance. T.t was estimated in 1944 that the additional cost of an extra child fell “from 3.5s. 3d. “per week for the first year of the ‘first child’s life to 9s. lid. for the second child. -It then “rose !to an average of lis. lOd. for the third child, to l’2s. 7d. for the fourth and fifth children, and to l’5s. 3d. for the sixth and seventh children. With rising costs, these amounts would .be much more to-d’ay. I “congratulate the Government upon increasing the rate of child endowment .payments, “but if it would discontinue the rebate - system ‘the .endowment would be “bf more use to the “parents.

The Nutrition ‘Council’s ‘survey .in L936 showed that the per capita consumption of protective foods decreased as the size of the family -grew, and that the calcium intake per head tended to decrease with an increasing family. This indicates “that to get healthy children more must be done to -assist ‘parents financially. Child endowment obviously ought to be 10s. a week ‘for ‘the second child ‘and “should increase with each succeeding child. ‘When child endowment was established -by <the Menzies Government in 1941 110 endowment was given for the first child. That was because ‘the basic wage relates to a man, his wife -and one <child. Under the rebate -system of taxation, however, introduced by the Labour Government, the stupid position arose whereby, with the reduction of the rebate for each ‘child “from £45 to £8, and ‘its subsequent increase to £15, the ‘actual monetary benefit of child endowment for each successive > child after the second steadily diminished. This a potent reason “why ‘the “rebate system of “taxation, which has other patent .disadvantages, should be eliminated.

The question o”f .the cost of food and clothing -should he met .by the provision of school meals, by subsidizing the “production of essential .foods such &s milk, by the supply of milk to women and children free or .at low rates .and by specific subsidies for material for children’s clothing. -It was found in England during the war years that the children .actually grew more than they did before the war because of the extra milk that they were given. Expenditure along the lines to which I have just referred is .much more important than .free medicine. The advantage would be continuous and not . spasmodic and would .save much medicine, whether free or otherwise. The establishment -of pre-school .kindergartens .and playgrounds, where children could receive healthy outdoor exercise, away from the home would be of tremendous help to mothers.

Economic-security will be provided-only by some national insurance ^scheme which -.builds up its funds in .good times -and is mot dependent on current receipts, .as under the present budget, .so .that it w.ill be able to -stand the shock of a drain in bad times. The funds thus built up must be completely safeguarded from a greedy or a needy Treasurer.

To increase the birth-Tate is not enough for defence and development. We .must ^spread ‘the population throughout the whole of the countryside. This of itself would help the birthrate, because statistics prove that it is much higher in country towns than in the city areas. In the country the rate is 20 per 1,000. whereas in the city areas it “is ‘15 per 1,0.00. This spread of population would be .secured .by making .available in country homes and districts amenities that are comparable with ‘those provided in the “metropolitan areas, and by making conditions and rewards for employment in vital .occupations at least as attractive as for city ‘workers. In Tasmania this has been ‘done “to a large degree by reason o’f -the Tas.manian hydro-electric ‘power .resources. It has also been done “in my own district. Jit could be done from Newcastle to Cape York, from Kiama to Melbourne, from Melbourne to Mount Gambier, and in several parts of Western Australia. The construction of major works to provide these amenities would enable us to employ migrants and, as many of them could be accommodated in camps, the immediate housing problem would be lessened. Such works would give an opportunity for migrants, who may not speak our tongue, to learn our language and our way of life.

I hope that it will not be long before we create six or seven new Australian States, and I am glad to see that Queensland has given a lead in this direction. The creation of these new States, with new centres of administration, would provide nerve centres and give opportunities for building new cities. The economic size of such principal cities is estimated to be about 200,000 people. A population of that size would enable efficient commercial services to be provided, as well as make for cheaper municipal government services and would give ample opportunities to develop manufacturing industries. Moreover, with the people in the surrounding country such a population would be sufficient to provide educational, entertainment and cultural facilities generally. These would keep a continually growing population satisfied with living conditions and the possibilities of expanding careers.


– Order! The right honorable gentleman’s time has expired.

Progress reported.

page 454


The following papers were presented : -

Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1948 - No. 62. - Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Department of Trade and Customs of Australia.

No.63. - Australian Journalists’ Association.

Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -

External Affairs - K. R. Douglas-Scott, J. C. Ingram, H. G. Marshall, C. Nelson, P. H. O’Connor, J. E. Thomson.

Interior - J. G. Cocks, G. C. Dalton, D. A. Hamilton.

Social Services - J. A. Thwaites.

Works and Housing - E. C. Gardiner.

Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act -

National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (36).

Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Department of Civil Aviation purposes - Kingscote, South Australia.

Postal purposes - Arthur’s Seat, Victoria.

Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Crown Lands Ordinance - Reasons for resumption of reservation of the Bagot Aboriginal Reserve.

House adjourned at . 10.50 p.m.

page 454


The following answers to questions were circulated: -



Mr Lang:

g asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Have any representations been received from the British Government regarding the activities of L. L. Sharkey, secretary of the Communist party, in inciting civil war in Malaya, resulting in the murder of British and Australian subjects?
  2. Does the Government intend to continue to issue passports to members of the Australian Communist party to proceed to Malaya and Indonesia?
  3. Have reports been received from Malaya regarding the activities of C. B. Campbell, a member of the Communist party and managing director of Asian Airlines Proprietary Limited? If so, will the contents of such reports be disclosed to the House!
  4. Are the passports issued to Messrs. Sharkey and Campbell still operative?
  5. Will the Government cancel immediately all passports held by members of the Communist party in Australia enabling them to travel in Malaya and other countries in South-East Asia?
Mr Chifley:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. No.
  2. The honorable member will recall that I previously informed him, in answer to a question without notice of the 16th June, that the political views of an applicant for a passport are not regarded as a disqualifying factor in the issue of such a document. Passports issued to members of the Communist party are not made valid for travel to India or Pakistan unless the governments of those countries first authorize the individual concerned to enter their territory. This restriction is thu result of a request for such action received from the Government of India in 1028. Passports for members of the Communist party are made valid for travel to all other countries of the world, as are passports issued to other individuals. The fact that passports are made so valid does not, of course, affect the right of the government of any overseas country to prevent the holders from entering the territory which it controls.
  3. No.
  4. The passports last issued to Messrs. Sharkey and Campbell are still valid.
  5. No such restrictions are contemplated in the absence of any requests for such action from any of the governments concerned.

Tasmanian Shipping Services.

Mr Dedman:

man. - On the 8th September, the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) asked a question concerning delays to the steamers Kowahi and Tambar in the Bass Strait service. The Minister for Shipping and Fuel has supplied the following information: -

Extreme difficulty has been experienced by the owners of the vessel Kowhai, the Union Steamship Company, in obtaining a full crew. This vessel arrived in Melbourne on the 21st August and daily calls were made for crew members to make up shortages until the 26th August. The secretary of the Seamen’s Union was then advised that unless the crew could bc completed within 24 hours the owners would have no option but to pay off the vessel. No crew was available by noon on the 27th and she was paid off on the 30th. This vessel is 38 years old and of only 782 registered gross tons. The latest advice in relation to this vessel is that the owners are hopeful of completing a crew by Monday the 13th, in which case the vessel will be immediately recommissioned. In regard to the Tambar this vessel arrived in Melbourne on the 18th August and repeated calls for crew members were made up to 26th without success and she was paid off on the 27th. This vessel also is old and small and conditions in Bass Strait in the prevailing weather are most uncomfortable. There is no indication at present as to when a full crew is likely tobe obtained for this vessel. The Com monwealth Government, through the Marine Branch, provides facilities for theengagement by owners of crews for their vessels and endeavours to assist owners to obtain crews as they are required, but the Commonwealth has no power under any legislation to direct seamen to ship in any particular vessel.


Mr Dedman:

n. - On the 10th September, the honorable member for “Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) asked a question concerning the shortage of shipping space for the transport of nails from Newcastle to Melbourne. The Minister for Shipping and Fuel has supplied the following information : -

The combined Traffic Committee, which consists of representatives of the Australian shipping companies and the Australian Shipping Board, allocates tonnage to load steel products at Newcastle as berthage and availability of vessels permit. At Newcastle for some weeks past all steel berths at Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited wharfs have been fully occupied and in addition at least one or two vessels have been loading steel and steel products at the town wharfs. The position at Newcastle on the 9th September was that there were 26,286 tons of steel products for Melbourne awaiting shipment and against this two vessels had completed loading 10,850. Two more vessels scheduled to commence loading week ending 18th September, 1948, and will lift approximately 10,500 tons. The combined Traffic Committee is concerned with the allocation of vessels for the various trades, but is not responsible for the very many individual lines of cargo which are shipped. The proportion of the space avaliable devoted to the different types of steel products is largely in the hands of the suppliers who would allot the space in accordance with orders received and the supply position of the variouB lines. In view of the urgency of the requirements of nail wire in Victoria the manufacturers will no doubt see that as great a quantity as possible of this product is mode available.

Waterfront Employment

Mr Fadden:

n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, upon notice -

  1. How much was paid in attendance money to waterside workers in each Australian port from the 1st January, to the 30th June, 1948. or latest available date? 2.Whatwastheaverageamountreceived byeachworkerineachinstance?

Mr.dedman. - The Minister for ShippingandFuelhassuppliedthe following information : - 1 and 2. Period 1st January to 28thJuly, 1948-

Income Tax.

Mr Archie Cameron:

n asked the Trea- surer,uponnotice- 1.Hasareportonthedisabilitiesofnorth- westernAustraliabeenmadetotheCommon- wealth by aCommonwealthofficial? 2.Ifso,whenwasthereportmadeandby whom? 3.Didthereportrecommendtaxationrelief to the residents of that area ?

  1. Will the report be made available?
Mr Chifley:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. Yes.
  2. 7th January, 1047; by Mr.E. A. Dundas, an officer of the Taxation Department, Canberra.
  3. Yes, and I point, out incidentally that since the report was furnished residents of north-western Australia have received the following concessions under the Income Tax Assessment Act: - (a) Zone allowance increased from £40 to £120; (b) period during which trading losses may be carried forward and allowed as a deduction extended from four to seven years; (c) capital expenditure incurred in preventing soil erosion allowed as a deduction; (d) capital expenditure incurred on water conservation allowed as a deduction.
  4. No. The. report is an ordinary confidential departmental report and it is, not: the. practice tomakesuchreportspublic


Mr Archie Cameron:

n asked theMinis- terfor Civil Aviation, upon notice -

How much money was spent by TransAustralia Airlines in 1947-48 on advertising (a) in newspapers; (b) by broadcasting; and (c) by other methods?

Mr Drakeford:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questionsare as follows : -

Trans-AustraliaAirlinesisengagedina commercial enterprise in competition with private airline operators, and the Australian National. Airlines Commission considers that detailed information of its operating costs should not be disclosed for the information of its competitors Details of Trans-Australia Airlinespublicity expenditure cannot, therefore, be made available, but audited financial statements covering operations in 1947-48 will be submitted with the commission’s annual report and will be presented to Parliament when received.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 September 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.