18th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. J. J. Clark) took the chair at 10.30 a-m., and read prayers.
Mr. DUTHIE. - Can the Minister for Transport say whether there is any basis for the report that the Government hae decided to remove all controls on the distribution .of motor vehicles before the end of this year?
Mr. WARD. - No such decision hat been made, but the Government has decided completely to remove controls as soon as it is practicable to do so. The numbers of motor cars of certain manufacture which are arriving is Australia are such that’ the demand for those particular typeB should be met before very long, but motor cars of certain other makes are still in very short supply. During the last month the number of unsatisfied applications for motor vehicle* from all parts of Australia increased by approximately 3,000. I repeat that, although no decision has yet been made about when .controls will be removed completely, the Government .is anxious to remove controls as soon, as possible, and the position is reviewed from time to
Broadcasting qf Proceedings.
Mr.’ ARCHIE CAMERON- I address a question to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as acting chairman of the Standing Orders Committee, a position which I- understand you will hold during ‘ the absence abroad of Mr. ‘Speaker. In view of certain most unsatisfactory conditions which apply to the broadcasting of the proceedings of this chamber, are you prepared to call together the members of the Standing Orders Committee to prepare a new draft standing order designed to prevent individual members of the Parliament- from
making a second broadcast speech while other honorable members are still waiting to make their first speech during broadcasting time? The position, as exemplified by what happened in this chamber last night, has become almost impossible, and I think that the Standing Orders Committee should provide an opportunity for the more junior and the back bench members of the Parliament to express their opinions to the committee.
– I shall give a good ministerial reply to the question. The honorable member’s proposal
Till be given every consideration.
Aircraft Sales - Mb. C. Godhard
– Will the Prime Minister table the papers relating to the sale by the Commonwealth Disposals’ Commisson of (a) a Catalina flying boat to Oswald Keith Kennedy and others, and (b) the sale of nine Catalina aircraft to Kenneth Frederick Wong, Louis Wong, >f the Chinese Communist Seamen’s Union, and W. J. Lee, for £2,900? Will tie also table the names of members of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, together with a statement of all moneys received by them for their services? Is Cuthbert Godhard, a director of Sellers Limited and Green Coupons Limited and a member of a branch of the Australian Labour party at Springwood, in the Macquarie electorate, a member of the commission? If so, is the Prime Minister aware of the fact that Godhard is a director of the firm that sold its premises at 695-7 Georgestreet, Sydney, to the Communist party, one of the nominees for the Communist party being Clarence Hart Campbell, managing director of Asian Airlines Limited, which now owns the Catalina aircraft bought from the commission?
– I cannot make promises about laying on the table of the House papers that are purely of a departmental character. However, I shall ha>ve the matters raised by the honorable member examined in order to ascertain what information I can give him. I shall also consider the other1 questions’ he has
conference of empire PRIME MINISters: Position of Leader of the Opposition - Armed Forces.
– Has the Prime Minister any information to give to the House regarding the talks in Moscow between representatives of the Western Powers and the Soviet Union? Is the conference of Empire Prime Ministers to be held in London, at which it is understood that one of the principal subjects for discussion will be Imperial defence-
– Order ! The honorable member is trying to ask two questions relating to entirely different matters. He is entitled to deal with only one subject.
– Both questions refer to the subject of defence. In view of the deterioration of the international situation, will the Prime Minister take advantage of the fact that the Leader of the Opposition is in London by asking him to attend the conference of Empire Prime Ministers? Would it be proper, in the Prime Minister’s opinion, for the Leader of the Opposition to attend the discussions in view of the possibility of a change of government in Australia within the next twelve months? Honorable members opposite may laugh, but this is not a laughing matter. Mr. Churchill took Mr. Attlee to the Potsdam conference before the United Kingdom general election which resulted in - Mr. Attlee’s elevation to the Prime Ministership. I am suggesting that, in order to ensure continuity of policy in respect of Imperial defence, advantage should be taken of the presence of the Leader of the Opposition’ in London to have him fully informed on the situation.
– I am kept very fully informed about the negotiations that have been in progress in connexion with the Berlin situation and about the proposals and counter-proposals that pass between the western allied powers and the Soviet Union. However, all that information is supplied to me in strict secrecy. It would be both a breach of confidence and also a very unwise procedure for me to make a public statement on those matters at a time when they are being discussed by competent people who are familiar with all the relevant facts. Therefore I do not propose to make any such statement. It must be remembered that discussions at the conference of Prime Ministers will consist in a series of informal talks and that no binding decisions will be reached. The Minister for External Affairs who will be attending the conference in his capacity as Deputy Prime Minister, will have the assistance during discussions on Empire defence of an officer highly experienced in the matter of defence. I cannot remember any occasion when the Leader of the Opposition or a representative of the Opposition has attended a conference of Empire Prime Ministers.
– What about Mr. Attlee?
– When Mr. Attlee attended the conference at Potsdam as Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, the general election had been held, if I remember correctly, and it was certain that he would soon become Prime Minister. There is no guarantee that the right honorable member for Kooyong will even be the Leader of the Opposition twelve months hence and he is certainly not likely to be Prime Minister.
– That is not even funny.
– I am stating the facts. Mr. Attlee ‘has invited the Dominion Prime Ministers to attend the conference. No one else has been invited. I do not imagine that any change of the procedure over the years is likely to be made now.
– Has the Prime Minister seen the cabled reports in the newspapers this morning that the Chief of the British General Staff, Field Marshal Lord Montgomery, has cancelled all engagements outside London and that Great Britain is making hasty plans to enable the country to withstand attack? Will the Prime Minister say what is being done to ensure Australia’s defence preparedness, in view of the need for urgency? Will he state the present strength that we should be able to muster in our armed forces and in the effective armed strength now in Australia if the sudden need arose for a striking or defensive force ?
– I have not seen the report in this morning’s newspapers that Field Marshal Lord Montgomery, Chief of the General Staff, has cancelled all of his engagements outside of London, but Londoners would naturally expect that he should be in London. I understand a number of meetings are in progress concerning difficulties relating to the situation which has arisen in Europe, which, we all hope, sincerely, will not culminate in war. I have not received any official information that Field Marshal Lord Montgomery has cancelled engagements outside of London. In regard to the latter portion of the question, following upon decisions reached at the Prime Ministers’ conference in 1946, Australia definitely embarked upon a plan of defence, which was understood completely by the British Government. No doubt a number of aspects relating to the strength of th? services will be dealt with during the present debate in this House, but if the Acting Leader of the Opposition is not satisfied on all points, when the debate has concluded, I shall arrange for a full statement to be prepared for him.
– During the last war many members of the Australian Imperial Force were discharged for disciplinary reasons. Will the Minister for the Army say whether those members will be able to have their cases reviewed if they make the appropriate application to the Army Department ?
– Soldiers who were discharged during the war for disciplinary reasons may now apply for a review of their cases. If application is made, the cases will be reviewed, excepting those in which the men involved were sentenced by a court-martial.
Stabilization Scheme - Cornsacks
– Should the South Australian wheat-growers vote against the Government’s plan for the stabilization of the Australian wheat industry, I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether the Australian Government will establish a board to control the export of wheat? Would that mean that all contracts and prices would be handled by the Minister at Canberra?
– The Government has, and, for that matter, all previous governments have, always considered that the control of our major export agricultural products should be in the hands of export control boards. Should one State reject the wheat plan now before the growers for their approval, the Government would almost certainly follow the precedent established by previous governments and already endorsed by it, and set up a wheat export control board. [ would certainly recommend that course. Whether the growers endorse the plan or [ lot. the Government has the right under the Constitution of determining the conditions on which wheat and other primary products shall be exported. The Dried Fruits Export Control Board, an instrumentality established by a previous government, which was not a Labour administration, is bringing to finality a proposed contract with the United Kingdom, but determination of whether the conditions will ‘be satisfactory or not will finally rest with the Government. All previous governments have adopted exactly the same attitude. I think the position is perfectly clear.
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether negotiations to secure cornsacks for the coming wheat harvest have been completed or, if they have not, are they proceeding satisfactorily? Is there any truth in the rumour that the price of cornsacks to wheat-growers will be 40s. a dozen ? If there is not, will the Minister say what the price will be?
– Negotiations for the purchase of cornsacks are proceeding satisfactorily, and substantial quantities are already in Australia. The number of cornsacks already received is substantially in excess of the corresponding figure for this period of last year. An officer of my department is proceeding to India to expedite further deliveries. I am not prepared to deal with rumours about the price of these articles. The honorable gentleman may rest assured that the cost to the farmers will be only the cost to the Government plus handling expenses after the sacks reach Australia. That is an infinitely better position than has existed under the methods that were adopted by previous governments.
– Has the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research arranged for scientists or prospectors to examine the prospects of obtaining flow oil in Australia? If so, have they issued any reports? If not, is such prospecting being carried out only by private commercial interests?
– The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is not specifically engaged on searches for oil. That work is being undertaken by the Mineral Resources Survey Bureau, which comes under the jurisdiction of my colleague the Minister for Shipping and Fuel. I believe that the bureau has undertaken such work in various parts of Australia and consequently it is not true to say that only private enterprise is interested in prospecting for oil in Australia.
Queensland Strike: Gaol Releases. Mr. ADERMANN.- Has the Prime Minister seen an article in the Brisbane Courier-Mail of the 16th September, reporting a statement by Mr. Bruce Pie in the Queensland Parliament, concerning remarks alleged to have been made by Mr. J. Healy, federal secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, to the effect that Mr. Healy had negotiated with Mr. Hanlon, Premier of Queensland, for the release from prison of certain lawbreakers ? Is the Mr. Healy mentioned identical with a member of the Stevedoring: Industry Commission of the same name? If so, does the Prime Minister agree that salaried officers of the Government should negotiate with a Labour Premier for the release of men who have been gaoled for defying -the laws of this country ?
– I have not seen the article in the Courier-Mail to which the honorable member has referred. Mr. Healy, who is the federal secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, is not a salaried officer of the Stevedoring Industry Commission.
– But he draws fees.
– That is vastly different from receiving a salary as an officer of a Commonwealth instrumentality.
– Order ! The honorable member for New England did not ask the question.
– It is true that the Mr. Healy mentioned, who is, I presume, identical with the Mr. Healy referred to in the newspaper article, is a representative of the Waterside Workers Federation on the Stevedoring Industry Commission, and in that capacity, receives an attendance fee.
– The Prime Minister is mixing two Mr. Healys.
– Order ! The right honorable member for North Sydney is a little mixed, too. Some honorable members are adopting the bad practice of interrupting Ministers who are replying to questions. Such interjections are disorderly, and I ask the House to extend to Ministers the courtesy of hearing them in silence.
- Mr. Healy is not a salaried officer of the Stevedoring Industry Commission, but he receives a fee for attending meetings of that body in the same way -as do the representatives of the shipowners. Regarding the other matters reported in the Courier-Mail to which the honorable member has referred, I have not the faintest knowledge of what has gone on in Queensland between Mr. Healy .and Mr. Hanlon, or anybody else there.
– Many public servants, the ‘majority of whom were ex-servicemen of World War I., who were in New Guinea during the Japanese invasion, were either murdered by the Japanese or died in captivity. Their widows and dependants receive pensions on the same scale as repatriation benefits. I should like to know whether these widows and dependants will be ‘eligible for medical attention and certain other services which have been forecast in the budget for the widows of Australian ex-servicemen? If they have been overlooked, will the Prime Minister have the’ matter adjusted?
– The Minister for Repatriation will answer the question.
– All those person,who now receive benefits under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act-
– The widows and dependants to whom I have referred are noi subject to the provisions of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act.
– Order : I have already cautioned honorable .members against interrupting a Minister while he is answering a question.
– All those who nov. obtain benefits under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation- Act will receive the increased benefits which are provided ir the amending legislation that I have introduced. Other persons who recieve benefits as ex gratia payments will also get benefits similar to those which ar<provided for persons who are eligible under the act to receive them.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he has given consideration to requests from the Australian Association for Better Hearing, which, I understand, have been submitted in the following terms: First, the abolition of customs duty on all hearing aids and the batteries required to operate them; secondly, the allocation of sufficient dollars to ensure the necessary quantity and quality of such hearing aids; and, thirdly, the removal of any prohibition, if such exists, on the importation of suitable ingredients for batteries for these purposes ?
– I shall be glad to bring the honorable member’s question to the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– A report was published in the Canberra Times yesterday that Brigadier Galleghan, head of the Australian Military Mission at Berlin, had announced at Geneva that Australia would take as migrants within the next few years 200,000 refugees and displaced persons. I ask the Minister for Immigration whether that statement ? correct ‘( Where are these people to come from? How will they he transported to Australia? Who is to pay for the cost of their transportation ? What choice has the Government in selecting these people in respect of trades and callings? Are any conditions to be observed with respect to the nationality, or religion, of these persons as laid down by the. International Refugee Organization ? Finally, vill the Minister take an opportunity in the current debate on the budget to make
– There is nothing new in the announcement made by Brigadier Galleghan, or in the announcement that he had stated at the meeting of the International Refugee Organization that Australia was prepared to take 200,000 migrants over the next two years provided shipping was available. The Prime Minister had already announced that he had offered to take that number of people if the United States of America could provide the requisite shipping, and that President Truman had replied that the United States of America valued Australia’s gesture and would try to assist to the maximum degree possible. The statement to which the honorable gentleman has referred is that Australia would take 200,000 refugees and displaced persons; and I think that the honorable gentleman is worried about the word “ refugees “. As a matter of fact, in that connotation, a refugee means a displaced person, the term being used in a different sense from that applying in Australia. All persons brought here under the displaced persons scheme, and we have seen many of them, are persons from displaced persons camps in Europe who have been compelled to live outside their own coun-try because of their desire to live their own lives without interference in any way by any State. They believe this interference would occur if they returned to the country of their origin. There are 800,000 persons at least in displaced persons camps in Europe; and, as I stated to the House last November, we undertook in the agreement which we signed at Geneva with the International Refugee Organization to accept L2,000 of them annually, 7,000 of that number to come from the American zone and 5^009 from the British zone. That agreement was reached with the military leaders of the United States of America and Great Britain and was consummated at Lausanne, Switzerland. We laid it down in the agreement that we would select people without regard to race or religion, .and we have honoured our contract in that respect. There are a number of Jewish displaced persons in separate camps in Germany and they constitute about 15 per cent, of the whole. Seventy per cent, of those Jewish people want to go to Palestine, whilst the other 30 per cent, would like to go to other parte of the world. They will be eligible to come to Australia under precisely the same conditions as those which apply to other displaced persons. They must volunteer for the work offering, go to the localities to which they are directed and accept employment in the occupation to which they are assigned for a period of one year at least, but at our choice it may be two years. They will receive no favours and they will not be discriminated against. So far, no persons from the Jewish displaced persons camps, of which there art’ about sixteen in Europe, have arrived in Australia. I can assure the honorable gentleman that there was no departure in Brigadier Galleghan’s announcement at Geneva from anything that has already been announced in this Parliament.
– Has the Minister foi Commerce and Agriculture received telegrams from the Australian Primary Producers Union and the Newmarket Producers Association pointing out the great harm that has been done to producers and to the Australian meat industry in genera.1 by the delay in announcing the prices that will be paid under the new meat contract with the United Kingdom ? I assume that in any caff by. now the Minister is fully aware of the damage that has been done. Is he in a position <to make a statement with regard to these prices? If not, can he say when he will be able to do so?
-r-I have received telegrams from the organizations referred to by the honorable member, and also from other organizations and a number of stock and station agents. I am not able to state the date on which the United Kingdom will accede to Australia’s requests in regard to a new meat contract. I shall make an announcement as soon as I am in a position to do so. I do not admit that irreparable damage has been done to the Australian meat industry. Many people, either deliberately or otherwise, appear to be intent upon making mischief and stampeding producers into believing that they are being injured. That is not the case. The ruling prices for stock at the present time are exceedingly profitable.
– There has been a big fall in the price of lamb.
– Increases or reductions of the price of lamb are caused by a variety of factors. If the honorable gentleman tells me that a price of 40s. for lamb represents a substantial fall and is due to delay in announcing the contract price, I shall not believe him. Falls in prices that occur in the stock markets of this country can be attributed to a variety of factors and not necessarily to the particular one that has been talked about by honorable members of this House and by many people outside of it. It was recently prophesied that there would be a decrease of the amount of stock marketed at Newmarket last Tuesday, and that prices would fall. The fact is that al that time there were 17,000 more lambs in Newmarket than there were the week before, and that there was no material fall in prices. Some newspapers reported that there had been a fall of 2s., and others reported that there had been an increase. The Sydney Morning Herald of to-day reports that there was actually an increase of the price of lamb in the Sydney markets yesterday.
– In view of the Government’s declared intention to introduce a national medical service in Australia, will the Minister representing the Minister for Health endeavour to obtain for members of this Parliament copies of the report by an expert committee on the New Zealand national medical service recently presented to the Government of that Dominion?
– I shall place the honorable member’s suggestion before the Minister for Health.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 16th September (vide page 557), 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.
Upon which Mr. HARRISON had moved, by way of amendment -
That the first item be reduced by £1, as an instruction to the Government - to withdraw and redraft the budget - (vide page 430).
.- It is a truism that Australia’s primary interests lie in the Pacific; yet there if amongst the people of this country indifference to what is going on in that pan of the world. In the time at my disposal to-day, I wish to draw nome attention to Japan, which is one of the most important countries in the Pacific. If one look.now at the east Asiatic scene, one find.’ there a state of chao.= in all countries thai border the Pacific. China, particularly, is in a completely chaotic condition. Central government rule hardly extends beyond certain defined localities, and communism is rampant throughout the country, interfering with orderly government and peaceful progress. Further south is Indonesia, which also is in a state of turmoil. Communist disturbances are occurring in Malaya. In Burma and Siam, too, there is no peace or stability. Looking to the future, one cannot conceive of any degree of stability in the Pacific area while the major countries of that region are in a state of disruption, and their people are suffering poverty. I believe, therefore, that some comments on the present situation in Japan may be of use to this committee and to the public of Australia generally which sooner or later must form an opinion on which the policy of this country is to be. It may be presumptuous for any one who spent only five weeks in a country to express definite views upon it. Yet any one who passes through a country and has opportunities of seeing conditions there as members of the Australian parliamentary delegation did can see a great deal in a short time. Such a visitor obtains a bird’s-eye view, and, in fact, may see more than he would if he were there for a longer period, because the main problems stand out in stronger relief. If one spent a longer time in the country one’s mind would become clouded by other issues and lose some of its clarity of vision. The only way really to study a country is either to spend a long period of time there, something which the delegation was not able to do, or else spend a fairly short period there. I want to summarize the situation in Japan as I saw it as a member of the delegation and as it will possibly develop in. the future. That will not be an easy task and [ shall have to omit a great deal that I should like to say. I shall deal first with the facts of the Japanese situation. I think there are a number of facts which are more or less undisputed by any one who has become acquainted with .present conditions in that country. I then wish to deal briefly with the imponderables, which are impressions gained, but which are difficult to sum up in words or figures.
The first fact which strikes any one who visits Japan is that it is still a primitive country, corresponding to what England was in, say, the sixteenth century. Japan is still organized mainly on a feudal basis. Feudal ideas and customs still obtain throughout the whole country almost to the exclusion of everything else. Japan is also highly literate. About 95 per cent, of the people are able to read and write, which is very good evidence of the intrinsic intelligence of the Japanese, when one considers that to write even the simplest letter it is necessary to know no less than 3,000 characters. That is an achievement for a child of, say, eleven years of age, and most Japanese children of that age can read and write. One must also take into account the fact that for centuries Japan was isolated from all contact with the outside world. It has had real contact with the western world Only during the last 50 years or so. The impact which the West has made upon Japan during that half-century has resulted in a technical change in the country, hut it has left the Japanese population completely un touched culturally. In Japan, the family unit is the basis of society. The family is a closely knit unit, consisting not only of the parents and children, but also including all the relatives. The clan system is more a feature of life in Japan than it is in any other country in the world. The head of the clan is the ruler of the ideas and, to a certain extent, of the actions of the clan’s members. No enterprise in Japan is started by private persons without frs consulting the family council. Thi? system applies not only in the lower strata of the population, but it also reaches up into the big industrial and business families, the greatest of which are known as the Zaibatsu, who control the very large concerns. Therefore, throughout the whole of Japan amongst individuals and business concerns you have a large amount of what might be termed paternalism, in which individuals, whether they are business executives of firms or heads of families, consult freely with the other members of their family units.
The second fact to which I propose to refer briefly is population. Japan is the most, overpopulated country in the world. At the end of the war there were 72,000,000 people in Japan. Because of the excellent organization which was devised for returning the enormous number of Japanese servicemen and civilians to Japan from the countries which they had occupied, the population increased by 6,000,000 within eighteen months.
The third fact is that the country has virtually no natural resources at all. Only 15 per cent, of its land is arable, and most of the rest is covered with timber. Japan has none of the products which are necessary to modern civilization. It does not produce any cotton, wool, rubber or nickel, and it produces only 10 per cent, of its requirements of oil, phosphates and iron ore. Tin, zinc, aluminium and copper are in very short supply and the timber available is only sufficient to meet 70 per cent, of its requirements. Incidentally, the shortage of timber is somewhat surprising, because the country is still largely forest. The next most important fact concerns Japan’s food supply. Every square mile of arable ground is occupied by an average of no less than 3,000 people, and because of its density of population Japan has to import up to 20 per cent, of its food requirements, or approximately 2,000,000 tons a year. That enormous quantity of food is being provided at present by the United States Administration in order to keep the Japanese people alive. Japan is also extremely poor in regard to the possession of capital goods. During the last 30 or 40 years of the period of imperialist expansion all, or most, of the profits made in Japanese industry were invested, not in Japan itself, but in its overseas possessions. The amount invested in that way aggregated approximately £20,000,000,000, so that most of the wealth which Japan amassed over so many years of expansion was lost to it when it was deprived of its overseas possessions after the recent war. Another important consideration is the extent of the war damage inflicted upon the Japanese economy. I do not know the actual extent of the war damage done to Germany .because I have not had an opportunity to visit Germany since the war, but I know that as much as 80 per cent, of the areas of the main cities of Japan was destroyed. Although the visible results of the war are not so apparent in Japan as they are in Germany, because most of the structures which were destroyed in Japan were wooden and could be replaced quickly, whereas the remains of the ruined and burnt-out factories and houses of Germany are still standing, the real damage done to Japan was probably much greater. Apart from the destruction of dwelling houses, Japan’s industrial plant suffered very considerable damage and its industrial activity now is only 50 per cent, of what it was in 1930-34, and only 25 per cent, of what it was in 1939 when war broke out. The only real asset that Japan has to-day is its labour force of millions of industrious and high-quality workers. We have frequently been told that Japanese labour is slave labour but highly efficient. On that point, I should like to state the views of an American whom I met in Japan. He is a member of the occupation force and has served with the United States Army since the outbreak of war. He said that when fighting between Japan and the United States started, the United States Army leaders were asking : “ How are we to defeat this country ? “. After the countries had been fighting for a year, the question was, “ When are we going to defeat thi? country ?”. Then, as time went by and the American forces made further progress, the question became, “ On what day will this war end ? “. When the Americans occupied Japan and sawitS industries, they asked themselves how it was that Japan had managed to wage a war at all, because they saw that the efficiency of the Japanese had been highly overrated. It is true that among the lower classes labour is efficient, but efficiency declines in the higher grades. The occupants of the top managerial and secretarial positions are mainly of low order when judged by our own and American stardards. That is the picture, roughly, of the present economic situation in Japan. The population cannot be fed from the products of the Japanese islands. Food must be imported unless millions of Japanese are to die of starvation. The Japanese can pay for food imports only by exporting. That is an obvious economic fact. The difficult problem is: What can Japan export? Before the war exports from Japan consisted largely of silks and textiles. The silk market for Japan has diminished, because silks have been largely ousted by synthetics like nylon and rayon. The textile industry of Japan will never have available to it again the market it had previously, because other countries, including Australia, have greatly expanded their textile industries. Presumably, Japan is to continue as a nation and ife people must be allowed to live. To live Japan must export. But what can ii export? Perhaps the products of what might be termed the light-heavy industries present a possible avenue of trade. The policy which the Allies have applied in the occupation of Japan has the objective of preventing disease and unrest. That involves the sending into the country of large supplies of food. Japan’s annual food deficit amounts to 2,000,000 tons, the cost of which, in round figures, is £120,000,000 in Australian currency, which has been borne by the United States of America, [f that country is to continue its occupation of Japan, it will naturally say, We cannot go on bearing this burden and, therefore, Japan must stand on its own feet and feed itself “. I think we all agree with that. Japan can feed itself only if it exports sufficient commodities to pay for the food it imports. Japan’s position is much the same as that of Great Britain. The nation consists of overpopulated islands and it must depend on exports for its livelihood. There is, however, one essential economic difference between Japan and Great Britain. Whereas Great Britain has the goodwill of the world, Japan has only hatred. Other peoples want to trade with Great Britain hut not with Japan.
So much for the economic facts of the situation. I come now to the governmental facts. The purpose of the occupation of Japan is twofold. The first objective is the ultimate democratization of the Japanese people and the second is the demilitarization of the country to prevent it from again becoming a. menace to world peace. Many things have been done to attain those ends. A new constitution has been brought into being on the model of the constitution of the. United States of America, but there is an analogy between it and the British constitution in that the Japanese have a constitutional sovereign Emperor. The constitution vests power in the people and provides for the election by them of practically all the occupants of executive and other high positions. Under the constitution independent courts of justice have been established throughout the country. The constitution also decentralizes power. In the old Japan, power was concentrated at the head in Tokyo and was exercised by that head over the smallest and remotest parts of Japan. Economic reforms have been effected. The system of land tenure has been changed with, I think, great advantage to Japan. The estates of the large proprietors have been bought by the Government and sold to small farmers. The size of Japanese farms is extremely small, the average being about 2 acres. Labour laws have been instituted. Regulations have been made governing child labour. Trade unions have been re-established. There are about 30,000 trade unions, an enormous total, consisting of about 6,000,000 trade unionists, but the trade unions are in their infancy and cannot at present be expected to play in the establishment of a democratic Japan the big part that one hopes they will play when they have been strengthened. An inheritance tax has been levied in order to take the whole power wielded by the head of a family from him and distribute it amongst the members of the family, thus bringing about some sense of equality among the people. Education, which is, after all, the main way in which Japan can be democratized, has been taken in hand, I think, very well. There has been a purge of the teachers. At the end of the war, there were 500,000 teachers in Japan, of whom 100,000 have been purged. It is true that the purge should have gone further, but, if education is to continue, many who should be purged from the teaching profession must be left in it. because there is no one to replace them. Steps have also been taken for the emancipation of women. For ages women in Japan have played a subordinate role, but attempts are being made to establish the equality of the sexes. I think progress has been made towards the democratization of Japan. But when one considers what effect the new constitution will have in making Japan a democratic and peaceful nation it is useful to compare what has been done in that country with what was done in Germany after World War I. Insufficient was done in Germany then, because, within a few years, it had returned to a militaristic and autocratic outlook, the result of which was World War II. Why did the victorious Allies fail in Germany! After the Treaty of Versailles, the Weimar Republic was established with a democratic constitution, but the main structure of Germany remained untouched. Admittedly reduced in size, the German army and its officers remained in existence. The old bureaucratic structure remained. Every man in power during the war remained in power in the civil administration after the war. The German courts remained with the same judges presiding over them. The German industries were untouched. A democratic cap was put upon the head of an autocratic body. When the democratic cap was removed with the overthrow of the Weimar Republic it was replaced by a crown in the shape of the swastika. Germany simply reverted to the old forms, views and mentality. The same danger may arise in Japan, but more has been done in Japan. A democratic constitution has been set up. We have, in fact, changed the structure of Japan. The bureaucrats have been to a great degree purged. Power has been decentralized. The Japanese states, or, as the Japanese call them, prefectures, have been given the power to run their own finances and policies.
– Japan will need many more years than Germany to become again a threat to world peace. That happened in Germany only twenty years after World War I.
– I am coming to that point. Much of the old structure of Japan has been removed and therefore the danger to world peace is not so intense, as it was in Germany, even three or four years after World War I.
I now turn to the imponderables, the things that can be seen and felt but not weighed. The first is the Japanese psychology. We had a talk with General MacArthur on the last day we were in Tokyo and he gave us a description of what he considered to be Japanese mentality. He said that Japan had been for centuries a servile state. With that we all agreed. “He said that it had been a nation of slaves, but that it was a military nation that had been engaged in war almost continually for thousands of years, admittedly internecine or tribal wars, but still wars that had developed a military tradition and a soldiery. In all its modern wars, Japan, he said, had had an unbroken line of successes. Then it had entered the second world war and received a most crushing defeat. Over the centuries of their history, other nations in the world had been engaged in wars, and all of them had had their times of victory and defeat, but no nation before has been continuously victorious until it finally received a crushing blow. That, General MacArthur contends, stunned the Japanese and disabused their minds of all thoughts of supremacy. Something undreamed of had happened to them. This God-like race, who regarded themselves as superior to all others in the world, had been beaten to the ground and their minds left blank. He said thatAmerica’8 policy is to pour into these empty minds ideas of freedom, liberty and Christianity. He said that the Japanese are absorbing these new idea* very well. It is probably true that at the end of the war Japan was stunned. People suffering temporarily from concussion, however, recover after the blood returns to their brain, and that is what is happening in Japan. There are many currents running through that country to-day other than collaboration with the occupation forces, and a desire on their part to become a true democracy. A very natural idea for the Japanese is to play the Russians off against the Americans. The Japanese are conscious of the tension existing between those two countries and, doubtless, think that they may be able to make some capital out of it. They now, also, have a natural desire to be treated as equals, and not as under-dogs This idea exists very largely amongst the old militarists, who contend that Japan lost the war, not because its soldier-s or officers were inferior to those of the Allies, or because Japan was less efficient as a military nation, but because they did not have the right equipment. They instance the possession by the Allies of the atomic bomb and large aircraft. Many of them think that they could regain the position they previously enjoyed. It is true that the militarists in Japan are not extinct, but have merely been purged. There remain 200,000 of them; they have been excluded from all public offices and, to a large degree, from all business activities. I claim, however, that the outlook of a particularly large group cannot be changed by dismissing the leaders, and personal leadership is not destroyed merely by changing the titles of the leaders. Members of the Zaibatsu, also, although purged, are still directing activities behind the scenes. Their influence and activities have, however, been checked considerably. Despite this, however, it was found, on talking to people who are in the closest touch with the
Japanese, such as security police and military government teams, that signs of reaction are not showing to any degree. What is showing, however, is Communist propaganda, and I think that it is safe to my that there is more activity from the Communist side, the extreme left, than from the side of the old militarists, the extreme right.
I shall now deal with the demilitarization of Japan. Let us consider how far that has gone. Demilitarization takes three forms - material, economic and moral. From a material point of view, it is perfectly safe to assume that Japan has been disarmed 100 per cent. All of its big aggregations of war materials Lave been destroyed and there remain only isolated caches of rifles and machine-guns buried in the sand in remote places. Dealing now with the power to make arms in the future, I <ay that at the moment Japan is economically disarmed. All of her big plants, and machine shops have been destroyed, partly by bombing and partly by dismantling. The fleet, also is broken up and the machine tools, apart from those earmarked for reparations, have been destroyed. I venture the opinion that not within a generation will Japan be able to make any weapons of war in sufficient quantities, and of sufficient size, for that country to again become a menace to the peace of the world, provided she does not receive help from outside sources to rebuild her armaments. Honorable members will remember that after World War I. Germany was able to rebuild its armaments, consequent on help received from Sweden and Russia, [t appears that Japan will not be able to regain its strength in armaments or rebuild big plant unless it is provided with raw materials from abroad. If other countries desire to re-arm and dispose of obsolete war materials, care must be taken to ensure that Japan does not acquire such goods.
With regard to moral re-armament, when the members of the delegation inquired about the result of the occupation on the Japanese people, they were told by nine out of ten Australians, with great sorrow in their voices, that it was only superficial. How else could it he? How can we expect a nation of that par ticular make-up to change in the course of a few years? Japan was never a politically conscious and peace-loving nation which had been enslaved by its rulers. The situation before Japan entered WorldWar II. was the product of tens of centuries of indoctrination of certain ideas by parents, teachers and rulers. We cannot expect such a nation to change mentally and morally in a few years. The whole position is not a short-term but a long-term problem, and many difficulties will be encountered.
The basis of democracy is equality, but in Japan there is less equality than in any other country. Equality between the sexes is non-existent. The man is always superior to the woman, and it would take a long time for that situation to change. There is no equality in respect of age. The Japanese language has no separate words for “ brother “, “ sister “, only for “ elder brother “ younger brother “ elder sister “ and *’ younger sister “. There is also no equality of birth. At the apex of the Japanese nation, as it were, is the Emperor, who is styled the “ Son of Heaven “, and below him are the various hierarchies, bureaucrats and the like.
– Are they not “ Sons of Heaven”?
– Some of them are related to the “ Son of Heaven “. Equality of wealth does not exist. Enormous wealth has been accumulated by the Zaibatsu families, but the peasants live under conditions of extreme poverty. To bring to the Japanese the idea of equality which we have in our democratic minds will take a long time.
Who are the present leaders in Japan? So far as I can ascertain, there are very few Liberal-minded people, or, should I say, Labour-minded people? It is extremely difficult to find people who will lead the country in accordance with the principles of democracy. The more Liberal-minded, influential people are now in office. The majority of them were diplomats, and others who were not connected with the court clique, big business, or the army and navy. I met many of them, and a3 a whole they did not impress me as having a sense of purpose, virility and a desire to push things through “. The kind of people whom we really want simply do not exist. There are a few in the Labour movement, but under the old regime they did not have the opportunity to gain any administrative experience. So the problem of finding suitable leaders is most difficult. The Emperor remains as a symbol which stands for a great deal in Japan. If any reaction sets in, he could be a menace. He retained his throne as the result of decisions of the allied powers expressed at various conferences, but he was finally confirmed in his position by the will of the Japanese people. But if democracy in Japan proceeds as we should like it to do, danger will not arise, and the Emperor may be even a help.
Having given the salient facts of the situation in Japan as I saw them, I now desire to say a few words about the course that Australian policy in relation to Japan should follow in future. We all feel extremely bitter against the Japanese people for their brutality and bestiality during the war, but [ do not believe that any policy which is dictated by hatred will ever produce the result, which we all desire, of converting Japan into a peace-loving democracy, and a factor for maintaining stability in the Pacific. General MacArthur has described Japan as “ either a bulwark for peace or a springboard for war “. In the best interests of Australia, we must produce, not a negative, but a positive policy. Our first consideration is that we must prevent, at all costs, a resurgence of militarism in Japan. The second is not inconsistent with the first. We should press for the democratization of Japan, and that means giving to the people the possibility of achieving a reasonable standard of living. I went to Japan with a good deal of pessimism about the future. I returned to Australia with less pessimism, because Ibelieve that Japan, if given proper treatment for a period of years has a reasonable chance under supervision of becoming a democratic country. In the early 1920’s, a government born of a spontaneous upsurge of liberal thought was in office for a few years, until the militarists overwhelmed it. The Japanese have exhibited a considerable aptitude for the early phases of democ racy. However, that aptitude does not prove that the final phase ofdemocracy is within their capacity. Democracy has met with its greatest success among the western nations. Our democratic institutions in their present form may not be acceptable to the Japanese,but I believe that the Japanese may absorb them in a modified form to suit their own conditions.
(Mr. Sheehan). - Order! The honorable member has exhausted his time.
.- Before I refer to certain aspects of the budget, I desire to deal with two particular matters. The first is the speech of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan). In my opinion, his review of the Japanese situation, about which many Australians know so little, and about which he gained much information during his recent visit to Japan, isa valuable contribution to our knowledge of this subject. During the last fortnight, he has spoken on two occasions about Japan. His first speech,which dealt mainly with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, was of an informative and factual kind. To-day,he analysed some of the complex problems which all Australians must face if they are concerned with the future oftheir country in the Pacific, the line-up of powers in the event of another war, and the rather terrifying problem ofthe democratization of the Japanese people. The honorable member approached hie subject with a liberal outlook On this occasion, I use the word “ liberal “ in the sense in which the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has reminded us it can be used. The honorable member for Flinders explained to usthe background of the situation, and all Australians could study it with advantage to themselves. His excellent survey of the position is an indication of the value of the trip to Japan, and illustrates the eagerness of the members of the delegation to learn about conditions in that country and to tell the people of Australia what they had discovered on their visit. This occasion affords me an opportunity to thank all members of that delegationwhich I had the fortune to lead. for their work in this connexion, but I could not allow the occasion to pass without making some reference to the manner in which the honorable member for Flinders traversed the Japanese scene +o clearly, concisely and informatively. My remarks, also, apply to other members of the delegation who accompanied me. I am sure that honorable members will not begrudge the little time that I have taken to express publicly my gratitude to them, because, perhaps through me more than for any other reason, they were subjected to some public criticism which was certainly not deserved.
The second matter with which I desire to deal relates to recent comments in this House about the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). I am in possession of information which convinces me that there is a campaign afoot to belittle him outside this Parliament. I know that it is part of a propaganda plan, and I should be shirking my responsibility if I did not say what I know. This matter has been discussed in various political organizations, particularly the Opposition parties’ organizations, which have decided that the chief of this country, the Prime Minister, is becoming too popular.
– Where did the honorable member get that information?
– My information comes from the propaganda and press relations organization, very close to the Liberal party. If the honorable member does not believe me he can question certain people on the matter. The followon of that, of course, was that certain attacks were made in this House upon the Prime Minister. They were swept aside, [n the forefront, of course, was the attack made by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), who may be very useful in the abstract, but when he gets into the concrete, he sticks fast. In many ways, the honorable member is a remarkable man; but during the five years I have been a member of the Parliament I have noticed that he can be bulldozed into making attacks which, later, he regrets having made.
– What nonsense! I do not withdraw a word I said.
– The honorable member is smarting under a barrage of resent ment which, properly, comes from bou sides of the House, about the attack he made; and, now. he says, “ I have got tindocuments “.
– Why does not the Government appoint a royal commission t<inquire into my charges?
– Before I deal with that aspect, I should like to read what some of the honorable gentleman’s friend.’ think about him because of his attack upon the Prime Minister. I have in my hand a newspaper article which is fairly lengthy. It is the leading article in th» Sydney Daily Telegraph. It is brilliantly written. I shall read it -
In the House of Representatives on Thursday, Mr. Abbott (Australian Country party) demanded a Royal Commission into the allocs tion of dollars for the purchase of cement making plant.
– I ain dealing with * matter from the point of view of the public interest, and I have touched only indirectly upon the remarks made by the honorable member for New England.
– -I, rom what newspaper is the honorable member reading?
– From the Sydney Daily Telegraph. Referring to the honorable member for New England, that newspaper says -
He more than inferred that the transactionwas corrupt and demanded a Royal Commie sion.
Specifically he included the Prime Minister in his charges.
We know nothing of the rights or wrongs ot this business.
We do know, however, that any charge oi misconduct against Mr. Chifley must be false
We have had our battles with him, consider him abnormally obstinate.
But we know - and the majority of Australians know, as certainly as they know that the sun will rise to-morrow - that he is an honest man.
What a magnificent tribute to the Prime Minister! .1 do not intend to read any more of the article because I have read sufficient of it to make my point. The honorable member for New England is still unrepentant, and thus proves my contention that he is entirely irresponsible. Even before I was elected to the Parliament, he had been christened “ the bull of New England “ ; and he has some of the bovine characteristics of the animals which he tends in his idle moments. He rushes in; but on this occasion he has been smacked down promptly and solidly. As I have said, this campaign has been started against the Prime Minister to counteract his growing political strength, his personal popularity, integrity and honesty. If the honorable member for New England does not feel ashamed of himself because of the attack he has made on the Prime Minister, many honorable members feel ashamed for him. Every little news item which floats around the corridors can be blown into significance by the honorable member. He still shows that he is not repentant. However, I have dealt with this matter only in passing. The other attack made upon the Prime Minister was in connexion with a trifling business of somebody holding shares in a radio company.
– It was the Parliamentary Labour party.
– The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) actually smacked his lips when he heard mention made of a 15 per cent, dividend. We had to inform him that the dividend was at the rate of 16 per cent., upon which he was satisfied, as that seemed to be a good Liberal profit.
I now come to the matter with which I rose primarily to deal, and that is the budget and the criticism leveled against it and the Prime Minister by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang). The honorable member presented a very gloomy picture. It was loaded with crepe. The honorable member made a speech typical of a man who in his spare moments is not a ranch-owner but a funeral director.
– He will probably direct the funeral of the honorable member for Parkes at the next general elections.
– We heard the honorable member for Reid go on record as saying that the standard of living of Australians has fallen, that not a man in this country can buy himself a suit of clothes, that nobody has any hope in living and that the wheel of the wagon is broken. I have no doubt that the last observation will appeal to the honorable member for New England. The honorable member for Reid referred to the Prime Minister’s “ miser’s budget ‘ which, he said, set out to extract the maximum and to disgorge the minimum. That was one of the slogans which are prepared for the honorable member. It is about time that the country was told frankly where all this propaganda comes from. We see the honorable member for Reid in his place reading up the material that comes to him ; but really he is merely the distributing agent for a propaganda machine which operates in Sydney under Mr. A. 0. Paddison, who controls certain radio stations. No doubt, in the near future, we shall hear much from the honorable member about frequency modulation broadcasting. The honorable member- has at his disposal a Gestapo which turns out propaganda to which I and other honorable members object. Every day he asks a string of questions : Whether Ministers will lay certain documents upon the table; whether the Government is aware that so and so is doing such and such a thing; will the Government look at this and that; and he has indulged in these tactics to such a degree that he seems to expect the Parliament itself to become a Gestapo. He is always asking that inquiries be made, but if any persons in the course of their duty as public servants make inquiries, the honorable member attacks them. ] have no doubt that Mr. Paddison supplies all these queries and material to the honorable member.
– He is as obnoxious as Paterson’s curse.
– I suspect that in case the airmail should be late, he listens to broadcasts of parliamentary proceedings to keep abreast of things. The honorable member for Reid is insincere and his tactics are not decent from an ordinary human point of view. However, we continue to get this pontification by the honorable member. He continually gets hip scripts, copies of which he issues to the press hours before he speaks in the chamber. He does all this out of his anxiety for the worker! However, on this occasion his exhibition was the worst of all his exhibitions. He declared that the standard of living in Australia has fallen. The fact is that people find that the cost of living has increased because they have much more money now to spend than they ever had before. He said that statistics mean nothing. I am not surprised at that statement because he told us years ago that he had never read a book. The answer to the honorable member’s statements is to be found in the latest figures issued with respect to unemployment. To-day there are only 1,010 unemployed workers in the whole of Australia. In the island of Tasmania there are 28 people who, by reason of sickness or other causes, are at the present time in receipt of social benefits. There are sixteen in South Australia, 3S in Victoria, 420 in Queensland, 309 inNew SouthWales, and 199 in Western Australia. The figure for Queensland is rather high because of the seasonal employment there. This is the country that the honorable member suggests is hung with crepe, plunged into mourning and covered with sackcloth and ashes, because its people are too poor to live. It is said that this state of affairs has been brought about by a miserly Treasurer, who will not allow money to flow freely in the country, and has taxed the people so heavily that they cannot even crawl to the radio to listen to the honorable member for Reid tell them of their plight.
When we examine the position of the workers in regard to taxation, we find that a man with three children who earns £6, or even more, a week, pays no income tax at all. It will be seen that the strictures of the honorable member for Reid do not apply in that instance. In some instances a man with three children, earning up to £12 a week, pays no income tax if allowance is made for social service payments. These are the people who are said to be suffering and whose beads are bowed under the misery of crushing taxation. The honorable member did not tell the workers of his electorate what he should have been proud to tell them, namely, that the impact of taxation has been lifted from the lower wage-earners. The policy of this Government is to loosen taxation at the base, where the people live, and to place the burden - we must face up to it - on the middle and higher income groups. That has been done. It may be said that the taxation of those groups is excessive, but it is nonsense to say that the workers are not being relieved of taxation and cannot afford to buy suits. The honorable member trotted out all the old cliches and rubbish. One could visualize the musty tomes being turned over by his propaganda machine in Sydney.
– Who is the cliche king Mr. HAYLEN. - I leave cliches to the honorable member for New England, who is full of them. As I have told the honorable gentleman before, he is firmly embedded in the concrete of his own stupidity. The honorable member for Reid showed a belated interest in the servicemen. He said that something dreadful was happening to them. Let us look at the figures. There are no cliches in figures.
– Whose figures are they?
– They are certainly not those of the honorable member for New England. The figures relating to the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme that were released recently are very heartening. They reveal thai 213,000 ex-members of the services have been accepted for training, that 29,000 are now in training, and that 47,000 have completed their training and are in work. Those who have completed their training are able to assist in increasing production, which is a matter about which the honorable member for Reid is very worried.
– What about the Building Workers Industrial Union?
– I resent the interjection of the Acting Leader of the Opposition, and remind the honorable gentleman that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) never interjected while j was speaking. He should endeavour to acquire the poise, charm and “ certain something” of which his leader is possessed. Production was criticized harshly. The honorable member for Reid referred to the misery and great distress of the people, and then made the dramatic statement that the answer to it all was production. The Prime Minister, the other members of the Cabinet, and the members of the Labour party have emphasized the importance of increased production. The Prime- Minister has shown that the coal-miners, despite the criticism that is made of them, are now producing more coal than was produced in pre-war years, and that other industries are producing heavily. The demand, however, is still greater than the supply. The honorable member for Reid said that the only cure was to reduce taxes, and implied that all plans for the control of inflation - many of which are common to all parties -should be ignored. When I was in China, investigating certain aspects of our migration policy on behalf of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell), [ saw dramatic instances of how dreadful inflation can be. I am now holding in my hand a 5,000,000- dollar note that was issued by the Chinese National Government. It is worth 8d. in Australian currency. To send an air mail letter costs 9,000,000 dollars, the daily rent of a suite of rooms in an ordinary hotel in Shanghai !3 75,000,000 dollars. I have a copy of a notice in the North China Times which states that as from the date of the notice the price of single copies of the newspaper will be 800,000 dollars and that the cost of a monthly subscription will be 19,000,000 dollars. The editor and owner of the Century would, I am sure, be delighted to receive 19,000,000 dollars for a monthly subscription to his newspaper. The shocking distress and misery that follow inflation cannot be treated lightly. It is easy to talk of reducing taxes and removing controls, but the present plan for the control of inflation is an overall one. It was adopted in Great Britain, and part of it was implemented by the Opposition parties when they formed the government of Australia. If one does not believe in those things, one does not believe in the future of Australia.
The cry of the honorable member for Reid that production must be increased is just a slogan, and nothing else. The honorable member constantly criticizes the Minister for Immigration. Almost every day he asks the Minister, “‘How many refugees have been brought into the country?”,. “Is it a fact that
Mr. So.and.so came in without a permit?”, and “Did this or that happen?” He relates all the fluffy little stories that float up and down the streets of Sydney and which are gathered in by his gestapo. One way to increase production is to put more men to work. If there are not sufficient men available in Australia, then they must be obtained’ from other countries. Recently some very useful work was done in Victoria by migrant manpower, which was employed by both governmental and private enterprises. The cane crop in north Queensland was saved by sending Baltic migrants to harvest it. There are moves afoot at the present time to employ migrants in the building industry so that more houses may be built. Although the honorable member for Reid demands more production, he dismisses the relationship of migration to that problem as if it’ were of no importance at all.
The honorable member for Reid turned to his own electorate and attacked the workers in that area. He said they had no fires in their grates and no food in their houses. He said that before the war few people were without decent homes, whereas to-day thousands lived in the conditions that existed during the. depression. For that, he blamed the terrible loss of prosperity that we suffered from 1939 onwards. That is the most screaming farce to which I have ever listened. It is really too amusing. The records for 1939 show that there were then 25,000 people living in sub-standard houses. If the honorable member looks around his own electorate, which he has represented for far too long in either the New South Wales Parliament or this Parliament, he will find many sub-standard houses there. He looked back to the rosy days of 1929 and talked of the wonderful conditions that existed then, of the homes we had, of the fires we lighted and of the comforts we enjoyed. That picture was painted by a nian who has forgotten his own past. In the days of the depression, when the honorable member had some control of the affairs of the nation, he must have realized that there was real tragedy abroad. To attempt to score a cheap point against the Government in relation to this matter was not fair, even as political tactics. The honorable member complained that the workers had no money with which to buy suits. I spoke this morning to some of my constituents, one whom is a tailor. He told me that he is not able to fulfil an order for a suit in less than six months. Production may not be adequate, but it is pure stupidity to say that the workers have no money with which to buy suits and to claim that they are not better off now than they were in 1939.
I propose to refer again to the honorable member for New England and his attacks upon the Prime Minister. These attacks are becoming too numerous. Every newspaper carried the story of the attack on the underwriters in the cement case and every newspaper printed a rebuttal of those statements. The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) refused to accept the brief thrown to him by the Prime Minister.
– Files cannot be examined on oath.
– The Leader of the Australian Country party knew that the honorable member for New England was such a fool that it was not worth while reading the rebuttal. As a private member of this chamber, I object to this rabble-rousing. It is geared for outside consumption and conditioned by the publicity of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party. The honorable member for New England is well aware of that. No doubt we may expect some new scandal in the near future because recently the honorable member’s boon companion in this chamber has been the honorable member for Reid. I have seen them arm in arm, smiling happily into f.ach other’s faces.
The Opposition’s charges relating to the holding by the Prime Minister of shares in a radio station were merely another feeble and futile attempt to “ pin “ something on the Prime Minister. I have already quoted the opinion of the Baily Telegraph - by no means a pro-Labour journal - but I remind honorable members of the words: “We know, and the majority of Australians know, as certainly as they know that the sun will rise to-morrow, that he is an honest man “. The honorable member for New England should remember that when his bullrushes suddenly bloom in this chamber.
The budget is most sensible. It has a smack of austerity, and quite a lot of common sense. Those members of the community who are in the greatest need of relief are being given small but adequate assistance. The budget has been termed by some people a “ five bob “ budget inasmuch as it spreads its benefits over the entire community, giving the greatest assistance where ii is most needed. Ex-servicemen may have expected something better, but at least they have been given increased benefits. Pensioners, too, may have expected something better, but their increased payments are in conformity with the country’s finances. Provision has been made for the needs of everybody in the” community who depends upon social services. This dignity and fairness toward* al] sections of the community make ii a good budget.
The remarks of the Prime Minister concerning inflation reveal the problems that he has been facing for many years. I remind the House of the statements made by the Prime Minister on this budget. He has been closely associated with the country’s finances for a quarter of a century, and everybody, regardless of affiliations, will listen to his warnings which are not uttered in a strident voice but with the inflection of great sincerity. The Prime Minister, both in his provision for the expending of current moneys, and his deployment of future revenues, hae shown masterly control. He has not been unduly influenced by the clamour of certain interests in the community, nor even by many of the representations of members of his own party. He has given an example of financial planning in the interests of the country generally, without favour to any particular section. Where the balance of wealth rests with one individual, it is fairly reduced by taxes; and where the balance of suffering rests with another citizen, substantial social services are paid. Could anything be more Christian than that? For the honorable member for Reid to refer to the budget as a “ miser’s budget “ shows how far down in human understanding he has sunk. It is a magnificently planned budget. The Prime Minister does not play at politics when he is dealing with fundamental matters of concern to all Australian citizens. He has made a reasonable, fair, and responsible effort to meet the Government’s financial commitments, and in doing so, he has shown skill and dignity which could never -be matched by the rabble-rouser opposite. [ am driven now to leave the bull paddock. I am tired of seeing the honorable member for New England tearing up the turf and getting bogged down in his own bovine stupidity. It is not necessary for me to point further to the error of his ways, because he judges himself. I shall conclude on a tolerant note. One can gain, only satisfaction from a close analysis of this budget with its provision for increased social services, reductions of taxes, and the development of this country.
Mr. Turnbull interjecting,
– In a moment, no doubt, we shall hear about mallee roots, which the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) regards as of national importance; or perhaps he will tell us about fat lambs, or read some more telegrams from Koo-wee-rup. The honorable member should return to the local council in which he once gained distinction.
Every phase of this budget shows wise
Hnd splendid planning in Australia’s interests. It is a document of which we should be proud and I know that it will have a profound effect upon the people of Australia. It will assist our man-power position by bringing immigrants to this country for the building of houses and other essential undertakings. All its provisions dovetail perfectly into a scheme for the future prosperity of Australia. I believe in none of r,he Jeremiahs opposite who. talk of misery. There is evidence that everybody is prosperous and happy in this sunny land. Those individuals who live in the past and whose future is behind r.hem are of no importance when a budget of this nature is presented to the Parliament. Tt contains real elements of progress and I should be less than human if I did not congratulate my leader and the party that he leads upon it.
Motion (by Mr. Scully) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I take this opportunity to refer to a matter that comes within the province of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard), whose absence from the House for a couple of days this week has precluded me from dealing with the subject earlier. I understand that theAustralian Government does not propose to acquire, or control in any way, the forthcoming oat harvest. For some time past, there has been strict control of theexports of oats, and I understand that there will be an exportable surplus of oats this year. I should like to know whether the Government has formulated any policy on this subject. I understand that it will not control the price of oats - the people of the Commonwealth had something to say about that matter a few months ago - but I should like to know whether the Minister intends to allow the free export of oats to those countries which require them, or, alternatively, whether he can disclose at an early date the policy that the Government proposes to pursue in regard to the surplus oat crops. I am sure the people of Australia would also appreciate information as to the final winding up of the oats acquisition scheme and the position in which the Government and the growers will be placed as the result of transactions during the past two or three years.
– I have already indicated that in the event of all the States approving a satisfactory scheme for a Commonwealth oat pool.. and taking the necessary legislative steps to bring it into operation, the Commonwealth would be prepared to cooperate. However, time is short, and so far there is no indication of general agreement amongst the States. It is true- that some States have indicated a desire for a Commonwealth pool, hut there has not been any unanimity of opinion, and it does not seem to me that it will be possible, under diminishing Commonwealth powers, once again to operate a pool. In connexion with the operations of the oats acquisition scheme during the past three years, I can only point out that in the 1945-46 season, the Commonwealth determined a guaranteed price at which it received oats from growers who were prepared to deliver them to the Commonwealth pool. That was not conducted as a pool. During the year that those oats were received by the Government there was a rather disastrous drought and the Government sold large quantities of the oats it received to dairyfarmers and other stock-farmers at a price which did not recoup it for the money it had paid to the oat-growers. As a result the Government lost a sum of approximately £100,000 which the taxpayers met. With respect to the 1946-47 season the Government again gave a guarantee to those who desired to deliver their oats to it, and that year’s operations were rather more successful as Australia had emerged from drought conditions, and there was a small export market. In that year the Government showed a profit of £120,000 in respect of its oat marketing activities. Being a benevolent government with an interest in the welfare of primary producers it distributed that profit to the oat-growers instead of using it to offset the previous loss.
– Why not apply that policy to wheat also?
– I am dealing with oats at the moment. Growers who delivered oats to the Government in the 1946-47 season should receive a net return of about 8s. Id. a bushel, and I believe the final proceeds from oat sales by the Government are going out to the growers now. In the 1947-48 season oat-growers in the various States were perturbed by the fact that there was likely to be a very large crop. After some consideration the Commonwealth Government agreed that it would again guarantee a price and would receive oats, delivered on a voluntary basis, through the Australian Barley Board. That board has sold, up to date, on behalf of the Government, a great portion of the 1947-48 crop. It made on* bulk sale of 12,000,000 bushels to the United Kingdom at 12s. 5d. a bushel. Other sales have been effected at reasonably good prices, and attempts are being made to sell overseas large parcels of oat> which are already in hand. The indications at the moment are that with sata overseas as well as local sales the grower* will receive a net return of from 7s. to 8s. a bushel. During the years that the Government exercised control, it took exclusive control of the export of oats and neither dealers nor merchants were allowed to export them. In the forthcoming year, because the Government if aware of its diminishing war-time powers, and because it failed at the recent referendum, it will take no further control over prices. Similarly, since the respective State governments have not indicated, unanimously, their willingness to vest the Australian Government with the necessary power, it is not in a position to run a scheme similar to that now being wound up. In these circumstances it would appear that the marketing and exporting of oats will revert to the normal trading conditions. If it should happen that after this year’s oat crop has been harvested, there still remains a substantial shortage of feed grains in the world, and the United Kingdom Government or that of another country asks Australia whether it is prepared to make a bulk sale of oats and requests an agreement, the Australian Government, to fulfil the request, would possibly have to lay down conditions for the export of oats and might even again become the sole exporter of oats. In normal circumstances, however, it would appear that licences for the export of oatswould be available to applicants, subject only to the right of the Government to ensure that adequate quantities of oats remain available in Australia for Australian requirements.
– In norma times there was no export market for oats, and therefore it is no use talking about returning to normal export marketing.
– That is quite true. In normal circumstances oats are not. ^sported because normally the outside world does not seek supplies of oats from Australia. There were occasions, however, prior to the war, when oats were sported. Should other countries not require Australian oats in the future;, or mould there be no oats for export, the honorable gentleman need not worry about normal conditions. However, if export markets are available and provided that there is no risk that the country will be drained of necessary feed grains, the normal processes will apply and licences will be issued by the Government to those desiring to export oats.
. -Some time ago I communicated with the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) in regard to the supply of superphosphate to the northwestern districts of Tasmania. As the Minister knows, the superphosphate processing plant at Risdon has not been able to cope with the demands of the whole island, which means that districts in north-western Tasmania and some others elsewhere, cannot obtain adequate supplies. To obtain their seasonal requirements, farmers in those districts have had to apply to Melbourne for supplies of superphosphate. The cessation of the shipping subsidies scheme will mean that those who have to rely on Melbourne sources will have to pay £8 10s. a ton compared with £6 5s. d ton paid by those who obtain their supplies direct from the Risdon plant. I understand that some arrangement has been arrived at regarding supplies for this season, and I should appreciate being supplied with the facts, which certainly are not fully known to users of fertilizers in Tasmania. I also understand that some limitation has been placed on the amount of subsidy permitted in regard to the importation of fertilizers from Melbourne, and [ should like that position examined very carefully in order that the districts in north-western Tasmania will not be at a -disadvantage compared with other districts in the coming season. The whole of the north-western district is probably more productive than any other part of Tasmania, but during the war the fer tility of the soil was depleted by overcropping, and in dairying districts, top dressing had to be neglected. In the far north-west one firm which distributed fertilizers and had been allotted a quota of 1,000 tons from the Risdon plant, received after a period of over six months, about 140 tons. That indicates that there must be a very great shortage yet to be met. “Will the Minister also take steps to ensure that as long as the subsidy on fertilizers continues, no section of the farming community shall be at a disadvantage compared with any other section in regard to the price paid for fertilizers. I suggest that the shipping subsidy be continued in such circumstances.
I understand that a scheme has been proposed for payment of that bounty for potato production to meet the situation which has arisen as the war-time marketing arrangement comes to an end and that discussions have taken place in regard to the matter. Because of the anxieties of potato-growers, I shall be glad if the Minister will make a statement at the earliest opportunity as to the Government’s policy in regard to the proposal. This is matter of tremendous importance to the people of Tasmania.
.- The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) may as well hear all Tasmania’s complaints at once. I am concerned with the grave shortage of feed wheat for poultry raisers and pig-farmers in Tasmania, who import many thousands of tons of wheat from the mainland each year. Recently. I spoke to one of the largest flour-millers in the north of Tasmania in regard to this matter, and he told me that sufficient wheat was nol arriving to fulfil the requirements of the poultry and pig industries. As the Minister is aware, the poultry industry has, in recent years, received considerable encouragement from the present and preceding Labour Governments, and I should not like to see its continued development hampered because of shortage of feed wheat. I mentioned this matter to the Minister four or five weeks ago, and I again request him to inquire whether it is possible to increase Tasmania’s allocation of wheat
– The scarcity of small articles often causes the greatest inconvenience, particularly in remote and isolated parts of the country. I have received a telegram from a resident of Sunraysia, in Victoria, which reads as follows : -
There is and has been for many months a serious shortage of lamp glasses for ordinary household kerosene lamps. Reason seems hard to ascertain, but judging by enormous quantity of large -mirrors and crystal cabinets available, it cannot be ascribed to shortage of soda-ash.
Although Sunraysia could not be regarded as a remote or isolated district, there are many residents in the surrounding area who have to rely on ordinary kerosene lamps because neither gas nor electricity is available. In these modern times people cannot be expectd to do without light at night, a discomfort which can be appreciated properly only by’ those who’ have had to suffer it, and [ should like the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) to ascertain whether it is practicable to obtain a larger allocation of lamp glasses for Victoria, and particularly for Sunraysia.
Mr. Pollard rising to speak,
– The Minister has already spoken and is not an ti tied to. speak a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented :-
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Acf - Repatriation Commission - Report for year 1945-46.
Industries in Australia - Reports by the Division of Industrial Development of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction, on -
Agricultural Implement Industry.
Cotton Textile Industry.
Stevedoring Industry Act - Stevedoring Industry Commission - Report and Accounts for year 1947-48.
House adjourned at 12.40 p.m.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : -
t asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied tho following information : - 1 and 3. I have no knowledge of any firms handling new motor vehicles taking action to raise prices without the approval of the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner.
Royal Australian Navy: Dreger Naval Bass.
n. - With reference to th» question asked by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) on the 3rd September, regarding the shortage of electric fans at the naval base at Dreger, New Guinea, I have ascertained that 48 fans have already been supplied at Dreger and that action is in course to supply such additional numbers as may be found necessary.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 September 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1948/19480917_reps_18_198/>.