18th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Deputy- Speaker (Mr. J. J. Clark) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Oan tho Minister for Post-war Reconstruction give an indication of the progress of the scheme for the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land in New South Wales, with particular reference to the number of properties and the total acreage that has been allotted, the number of ex-servicemen who have been granted loans and allowances, and the total cost of the scheme to-day in New South Wales g Can the Minister Bay whether approval . is likely to be given for the acquisition of the Willigobung estate for the settlement of ex-servicemen?
– Arrangements for the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land are proceeding satisfactorily in New South Wales. Assistance by the Commonwealth takes two forms. The Commonwealth pays living allowances to exsoldiersettlers, and also grants them loans. Expenditure under those headings is the entire responsibility of this Government. In New South Wales, 4,500 ex-soldier settlers have been granted loans, ‘ and 3,000 have been granted living allowances, the total amount expended by the Commonwealth under both forms of assistance being about £3,000,000- Under the arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States for the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land, about 400 properties have been approved of by the Commonwealth as suitable, and it is estimated that they will provide blocks of land for about 1,500 men. The total area approved for the settlement of ex-servicemen in New South Wales is about 4,250,000 acres. As for the Willigobung estate, which is between Batlow and Tumbarumba in the electorate of Hume, that is so ably represented by the honorable member who asked the question, only yesterday I approved of that estate as suitable for settlement, and also approved of the plan of subdivision. It will provide twenty orchard blocks, two blocks for mixed farming, and one for wool-growing. The plan which I have approved of also provides for the development of the estate on those lines.
– In the light of the circumstances surrounding the Berlin impasse and other matters affecting our foreign policy, will the Prime Minister give to the House an unqualified assurance that he will initiate and permit a debate on international affairs before the House rises for the Christmas recess ?
– The honorable member for Warringah has asked a similar question on several occasions.-
– I have also asked the question.
– The desire for such a debate appears to be fairly general among members of the Opposition.
– I promised the hon-. or able member for Warringah that I would consider either making a statement or having a statement prepared on international affair.3, but I informed him that I could not give him a definite assurance on the point at that stage. I am not able to give the Acting Leader of the Opposition the unqualified assurance for which he has asked, but I shall consider his request.
– On many occasions, I have brought to the notice of the House the serious shortage of steel in north Queensland. As the result of the activities of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, the Minister for ‘Shipping and Fuel and the Australian Shipping Board, a consignment of steel is now at Townsville in Inchona, I have been advised that’ the priority which’ has been allotted to Inchona for the unloading of the steel is very low, and, unfortunately, the vessel is not discharging its cargo as fast as it was hoped. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel ascertain from his colleague whether all possible labour will be transferred from other ships’ to Inchona, on this occasion, and, in future, to other ships which call at - north Queensland ports with cargoes of steel ? Will he also consider the advisability of abolishing the priority committee, and leaving the determination of priorities to the Stevedoring Industry Commission?
– I am glad to hear that some supplies .of steel, and probably other requirements which the honorable member has mentioned in the House from time to time, have arrived at Townsville. I shall discuss with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel the possibility of granting the highest priority to the unloading of such supplies. I am not aware of the details of the arrangements which are made for the unloading of ships generally, but I have no doubt that the Minister for Shipping and Fuel knows all about the position, and I am sure that he will do his utmost to grant the honorable member’s request.
– Yesterday, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture moved the second reading of the Wool Realization (Distribution of Profits) Bill. Will he inform the House whether there are, in fact, any profits from the realization of wool? If there are, will he state when those profits are likely to be distributed?
– In my secondreading speech, I conveyed to honorable members a good deal of information about the contents of the bill. It is now in their hands for study. When the debate is resumed, I shall be pleased to give as much information to honorable members as I can.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture a question about the disability that people in Sydney and other cities of New South Wales are suffering as the result of the very poor quality of bread that is being supplied to them. Has the Minister read the article by a master baker published in the Sydney Morning Herald to-day in which it is stated that three problems which have to be faced are the inability of millers to produce uniform bread of good quality, the adherence of Australia to the f.a.q. system of grading wheat and the lack cf research into the factors which determine what is good . bread ? Will the Minister, as the Commonwealth authority, try to make an arrangement with the States to get that necessary information and to ensure the production of a standard nutritive loaf?
– I rapidly read the ^article in the Sydney Morning Herald about the quality of bread and thought that it was generally good. It summarized the situation well and reasonably divided responsibility for the fact that cur bread is not a better quality than it is. One could talk for a long time about the pro’blem of production of better bread. Responsibility for the fact that better bread is not being baked cannot be entirely placed on the millers, the bakers or any of the other people concerned. .Some years ago, in Victoria, it was found by the Department of Agriculture that Victorian grown wheats had been responsible fca- the deterioration of the quality of bread produced in that State. Farmers had been encouraged to grow wheat that yielded heavily but was not likely to be in great demand on the markets of the world because its gluten content was low. Since then the variety of wheat grown in Victoria ha9 had a higher gluten content and the position has been largely remedied. As was pointed out in the article, wheat for milling into flour should be blended, and, in that connexion, some blame may be attachable to millers, but owing to transport difficulties, the Australian Wheat Board and the railways have not been able to deliver to millers different grades of wheat or wheat from different districts. No doubt, some responsibility rests on the bakers. I am not an authority in this matter, but, perhaps, bakers should blend flour from different millers. In Victoria there is a keen consciousness of the necessity to make better bread. The Department of Agriculture long ago established a miniature milling and blending plant at which experiments are conducted to ascertain the general quality of each season’s wheat harvest. The millers and bakers are told the results. Dr. Kent Jones was brought to the country to lecture and write on the problem of baking better bread. Any assistance that the Australian Government can give to the people concerned, will be readily given. The Advisory Council on Nutrition has information on the subject of better bread and it may be able to give assistance. We are not unconscious of the desire that better bread should be baked in Australia.
– Can the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research say whether any research has been made into flour milling methods to determine what methods best 1 etain the nutritive value of flour ? If so, will the findings be published? If no research has yet been conducted, will the Minister consider the possibility of having one made?
– I am sorry that I cannot say at the moment whether the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has conducted a research into this subject, but I shall make inquiries, and let the honorable member know.
– A citizen of Melbourne received a letter, dated the 8th November, from Mr. E. Leeson, Deputy Director, Commonwealth Loans Organization, in the following terms : -
In the belief that you will be interested in details of facilities available for purchase of Commonwealth Bonds and Savings Certificates, we have arranged for our representative, Mr. Johnston, to call on you within a few days. We hope that his services will bo of value to you. He will present his authority to act f6r us.
Will the Treasurer say whether the Commonwealth Bank is conducting a housetohouse canvass to obtain’ contributions to Commonwealth loans? If so, how many canvassers are so employed ? From where are the names of potential investors obtained?
– During the war, when large loans had to be floated, the Commonwealth Loans Organization did magnificent work. A nucleus organization has been maintained and the reduced staff is continuing to do good work in advocating savings by the people and investment in Commonwealth loans. I shall arrange to obtain for the honor- able gentleman details of the staff that is now employed by the organization in each State. The Government arranged for liaison to be established between the Commonwealth Loans Organization and the Commonwealth Bank in connexion with the general savings campaign that is now being conducted for the purpose of assisting to prevent the spread of some of the inflationary tendencies that exist to-day. It was decided to maintain a Commonwealth Loans Organization because large loan flotations and conversions will have to be undertaken in future. The organization can do excellent work in regard to savings propaganda. The needs of the Government will be very large at a later stage, when loans amounting to approximately £1,200,000,000 become due for conversion. It is not likely that the whole sum will be converted, although a large proportion of it will be. In addition, fairly large loans will require to be floated on behalf of the States, when the supnly of materials and man-power permits them to carry out the public works that have been planned. In view of all these factors, the Commonwealth Loans Organization has been kept in existence on a reduced scale. It is being engaged in advising people to save, which is an admirable anti-inflationary measure.
– Where are the addresses obtained ?
– I assume that it is not very difficult to obtain addresses. I shall endeavour to supply the honorable gentleman with the information for which he has asked.
– Can the Minister for Repatriation say how many men suffering from war-caused mental disorders are confined in institutions? Are these former servicemen confined to these institutions by action taken by the Repatriation Department or by action taken under laws of the States in which the institutions are situated? Are the men maintained in a separate repatriation block or in an institution under the control of the State? Is it a fact, as reported in the press, that some ex-servicemen are confined in State institutions? Do any representatives of independent bodies visit the institutions under the control of the Repatriation Department? ‘ If so, has the Minister received any reports giving their impressions of their’ visits?
– The number of exservice personel who have been confined to institutions is 675. Their ill health is mainly due to accepted war-caused disabilities. Ex-servicemen are committed to such institutions under the laws of the States. The Commonwealth has no power to commit to institutions people who suffer from mental disabilities, except through the instrumentality of the States. Ex-service patients in such institutions are housed in blocks provided by the Australian Government and operated through the Repatriation Department. In the main these blocks have been provided in areas where State institutions are located. During the last few years several new blocks of buildings have been built by the Repatriation Department in order to provide ‘ modern facilities for mentally afflicted ex-service personnel. The Commonwealth has no control over ex-service personnel suffering from mental disabilities except through the Repatriation Department. The department has information only in relation to ex-service personnel suffering from war-caused disabilities. It has been alleged that ex-service personnel have been confined to State mental institutions who should be cared for in the repatriation blocks. At my request a survey is being made of State mental institutions to ascertain whether there is any substance in that complaint. In answer to the last part of the honorable member’s question, relative to inspections of repatriation institutions, many people who are interested in the welfare of ex-servicemen visit them.. They have indicated to me, and statements have been made in the press, that repatriation institutions are well conducted and that the patients in them are very well looked after. They have nothing but praise for the institutions under the control of the Repatriation Department.
Attitude of the United States of America - News ^Service of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– Has the Prime Minister seen a statement in this morning’s Melbourne Sun-News Pictorial that the representative of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s News Service at Darwin has confirmed newspaper reports, which were subsequently condemned by the right honorable gentleman as inaccurate, of the statements made by the Deputy Chief of the British General Staff, Lieutenant-General Crawford, concerning America’s attitude on Australian security measures ? As the reports in question have now been confirmed by the representative of an instrumentality of the Australian Government who was present during the interviews with the pressmen, will the Prime Minister cause an inquiry to be made through the Australian Broadcasting Commission further to check the facts?
– Yesterday, I read to the House a statement which I had been forwarded to me on behalf of LieutenantGeneral Crawford by the Acting High Commissioner of the United Kingdom in Australia regarding an alleged interview said to have been given to certain newspaper reporters at Darwin by LieutenantGeneral Crawford. I accept LieutenantGeneral Crawford’s word about what he said. He is a very distinguished soldier and occupies a very high position in military circles in the British Commonwealth of Nations. I have his complete assurance that the statements attributed to him in the press were incorrect. I did hear a broadcast in the news service of the Australian Broadcasting Commission that the origin of the -report was a press agency which apparently had repeated something that had been reported to it. I accept’ Lieutenant-General Crawford’s assurance. I do not want him to be involved in a controversy about this matter while he is in Australia. There are certain very bad features about what happened at Darwin. Information came to me early yesterday morning that there was something “phoney” about it. In justice to the general manager of the Sydney Morning Herald I wish to say that he telephoned me yesterday afternoon and described as completely false the statement of the reporter that he was present at the interview, and was prepared to make a statutory declaration that the report of the interview was true. The reporter who stated that he had heard what passed at th» interview with Lieutenant-General Crawford, was not present at the interview, and knew nothing of what had happened there. I was informed that he had been instantly dismissed by the Sydney Morning Herald for making a false statement. I appreciate the prompt action of the management of that newspaper.
– There is the story that the representative of the Australian Broadcasting Commission was also present at the interview.
– That was not stated in the Australian Broadcasting Commission broadcast. I appreciate the behaviour of those who took immediate action against a pressman who made statements of the kind referred to against a visitor of the standing of LieutenantGeneral Crawford. I assured the general manager of the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday that I did not wish to pursue the matter. I did not want any further statement to be made, and I would not have mentioned it to-day except that I was told that the Sydney Morning Herald itself had published an explanation, as also had another newspaper. In the circumstances, I do not wish to say anything further that might embarrass a very distinguished visitor.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, who is in charge of broadcasting, whether his colleague is aware that the correspondent in Darwin for the Australian Broadcasting Commission is also the correspondent for the Sydney .Daily Telegraph, or at least he was when I was in Darwin three months ago? Does the Minister consider that to be a happy arrangement for the journalist or the Australian Broadcasting Commission?
– I shall direct the attention of the Postmaster-General to the questions which the honorable member has asked. After a recent incident, the Australian. Broadcasting Commission may decide to have its own independent representative in Darwin. However, that is a matter for the commission to decide. It controls its own news service independently of the authority of the PostmasterGeneral, but that Minister is responsible to the Parliament for the actions of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in a. general sense, and he may consider that, as a matter of public duty, he should draw the attention of the commission to the alleged misrepresentation of a very distinguished visitor to Australia. I shall obtain as soon as possible the information which the honorable member seeks.
– I have received a telegram from the Southern Dairymen’s Association of Tasmania seeking information about the payment of a subsidy on whole milk. Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say when whole milk producers may expect payment of the Commonwealth subsidy for the months of May and June? Despite the assurance of the Prime Minister that payment would be made early this year, producers have not yet received any money.
– So far as I am aware, no Commonwealth subsidy is payable on whole milk, but I shall make inquiries into the matter.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture seen a statement in the press by the Minister for Commerce in the Queensland Government accusing the Queensland Sorghum Board of being party to a “ racket “ to “ rook “ farmers in connexion with the price of grain in last year’s sorghum pool? Has he seen the statement attributed to the chairman of the board that the onus was on the Commonwealth to bear any losses incurred ? Will the Minister say whether the Commonwealth is in any way responsible? If the Commonwealth is not responsible will the honorable gentleman make a statement on the subject.
Mi. POLLARD.- I have read in the Courier Mail an account of a debate which took place in the Queensland Parliament about the sale of sorghum. I have also seen the report of a statement purported to have been made on the same subject by the Minister for Agriculture in the Queensland Government. To go into the matter fully would take up all the rest of question-time. If the honorable member desires it, I shall make a statement which will clearly prove that the action of the Commonwealth in prohibiting exports of sorghum was designed to ensure that poultryfarmers and other stock feeders would use sorghum, thus permitting the export of more wheat which was urgently needed for human consumption. It was also desired that sorghumgrowers would place a reasonable amount of grain on the home market. It was found that certain merchants in Queensland were buying and storing sorghum in the hope and belief that they could bring sufficient pressure to bear to force me to allow the export of sorghum for sale at the high price ruling overseas, but I refused to grant export licences. Later, I sent an officer of my department to Queensland to find out what stocks of sorghum were available. He visited a number of farms, and reported that it was claimed that 1,000,000 bushels of surplus grain was held in Queensland. I doubted this, and subsequently it was found, when export licences were granted that the pool had difficulty in obtaining 600,000 bushels. In order that the growers might receive the full benefit of the export price, a condition of the export licences was that growers should form a pool, and the whole of the proceeds of sales, less expenses, should be returned to them. A pool wa9 formed, subject to certain conditions, including power of supervision by the Minister for Agriculture in Queensland. At one stage, it was brought to ray notice that the pool had sold to a Queensland merchant very large parcels of sorghum at £24 a ton, and that subsequently the merchant had sold the grain to France at £33 a ton. In my opinion, that was a breach of the agreement under which the Commonwealth had granted the export licence. After consulting the Queensland Government, I cancelled the export licence. The men charged with the management of the pool flew down to Canberra and tried to persuade me to reverse the decision that I had taken because of what I regarded as a breach of the conditions of the export licence. I refused. The growers received a higher price than they would have received had E yielded to the pressure of the pool managers, and of those who have had so much to say on this subject in the Queensland Parliament.
– Can the Minister for the Interior say when the Government intends to allot the blocks of land which were resumed some time ago in the Northern Territory? In 1945, many thousands of square miles were resumed for the lease-holders of Banka Banka, Rockhampton Downs, Alroy Downs, Avon Downs and Lake Nash. For more than three years the pastoral lessees from whom this country was resumed have been running more than 20,000 head of cattle free on their former holdings. Two years and nine months after their resumption, four blocks were thrown open, and applications closed in April last. When does the Government propose to allot those blocks to some of the many Australians with capital and experience who desire to lease them?
– The honorable member is, aware I am sure, that a survey is being made of suitable land on the Barkly Tablelands, and in other parts of the Northern Territory. He must also be aware that there is a scarcity of surveyors in the Northern Territory. As soon as the surveying staff can be enlarged, and the surveys completed, the blocks will be made available for selection.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been directed to the following instances of dollar expenditure: - (1) The recent holiday visit to the United States of America of a Sydney jockey, Mr. George Moore; (2) the departure for the United States of America of Mr. Romano, junior, for the purpose of purchasing one of Bernborough’s progeny? Were dollars made available by the Treasury to those two turf identities? Were any representations made on their behalf by a Minister who is stated to be very fond of horses?
– No representations have been made to me by a Minister or any other person to allot dollars to Mr. George Moore or Mr. Romano, junior, for their visits to the United States of America. I plead guilty to the soft impeachment of being fond of horses, and I do not regard that as being a serious fault in any person. I read in the newspapers a comment about the visits to the United States of America of Mr. Moore and Mr. Romano, junior. Of course, the newspaper reports may have been entirely incorrect, but they stated that some person or persons in America would provide dollars for Mr. Romano, junior. I doubt whether any dollars were allotted to Mr. Moore, because he would not have had any business reasons for visiting the United States of America. When a person requires an allocation of dollars, he must make application to his bank, which forwards it to the Commonwealth Bank. That institution, following the general lines of policy which I, as Treasurer, have laid down on behalf of the Government, allots or refuses to allot dollars as it considers fit. I have received many appeals against the refusal of the’ Commonwealth Bank to allot dollars, but I have not received any appeals on behalf of Mr. Moore or Mr. Romano, junior. I should like to be able to inform the honorable member for Reid that I would at a later stage inform him whether dollars were allotted to those two gentlemen, but I do not consider that it is my duty, after experienced officials have investigated an application and interviewed the applicant, to disclose the personal business of the individual just for the purpose of a little sewer-raking. I do not know Mr. Romano, junior, or Mr. Moore, but I have a responsibility, as Treasurer, not to disclose for the purpose of supplying political fuel the confidential business of applicants for allotments of dollars. As I have stated, no Minister or any other person has made representations to me on behalf of Mr. Romano, junior, or Mr. Moore. I shall examine the matter to ascertain whether there are any circumstances which would justify me in disclosing to the House the private business of those two gentlemen and whether they have received an allotment of dollars.
Removal of STRANGER
– Will you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, inform me whether a wellknown Macquarie-street specialist was a visitor to this chamber last night at the time of the suspension of the honorable member for Richmond from the services of the House? Was that eminent visitor requested to leave the chamber at the instigation of the Serjeant-at-Arms? Is it a fact that the doctor had not made any comment’ on the proceedings and was not guilty of disorderly conduct? Will you ascertain and inform the House who instructed the Serjeant-at-Arms and an attendant to order the visitor to leave, and for what reason ? After you have made those inquiries, will you convey a suitable apology to the visitor for the indignity inflicted upon him?
– I was not aware, until a much later hour, that a gentleman had been asked to leave the chamber at the time when the honorable member for Richmond was suspended from the service of the House. Persons are admitted to the House only as a great privilege, and are expected to preserve proper order and decorum in the chamber. I understand that the gentleman concerned was asked to leave the chamber by an officer of the House, who is responsible for ensuring that people who ave admitted conduct themselves properly. If the honorable member desires any additional information, I shall obtain it for him.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Overseas Telecommunications Act. - Second Annual Report of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia), for year 1947-48, together with financial accounts.
The commission reports a very satisfactory profit for the year. If any honorable member so desires, I shall move that the report be printed ; if there is no such request I shall not do so.
– I have received the following telegram: -
Pre-delivery payment wheat bags causing embarrassment many returned soldiers this district. Can anything be done? James Hearn, Gunbower.
I have also received similar telegrams from Lake Colac, Collibinan and Wedderburn. The wheat-growers have been put to considerable expense in purchasing machinery, and the extra call on them for the purchase of cornsacks is causing them serious financial embarrassment. .Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture confer with the Treasurer with a view to determining whether it is possible, even at this late date, to defer each payment for cornsacks.
– I shall answer the honorable member’s question. Replying to a similar question on a previous occasion, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture promised to have the position examined by various authorities, and also to refer it to me, as Treasurer. We obtained the views of the Australian Wheat Board, and ascertained the number of cornsacks which had already been issued and for which cash had been paid. The Australian Wheat Board considered that the granting of such a request would involve additional administrative work, which in the circumstances was not justified. After surveying the whole position, we decided not to alter the present arrangement under which payment must be made in advance for cornsacks. That practice operated before the Australian Wheat Board was estaWished and provided the bags under a deferred payment arrangement. For those reasons, the previous request was rejected, and I cannot see any reason at the moment to reconsider the matter.
Motion (by Mr. Calwell) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a, bill for an act to amend the Passports Act 1938.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Debate resumed from the 5th October (vide page 1122), on motion by Mr. Calwell -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The bill will, I think, be received with general satisfaction by honorable members on both sides of the House. Its purpose is to amend the principal act, which was passed in 1946, in order to make it more workable and more valuable. I re garded the 1946 bill, when it was introduced, as having one great flaw in that it did not permit the allocation of child immigrants to the guardianship of private people. This bill provides for the removal of that flaw. As child immigration, on a large scale, was first introduced after the war, the Minister for Immigration needed to proceed carefully in the establishment of children so far from their birth places. He arranged then that all children -brought to Australia should be wards of the Minister, and the Parliament approved of his decision. For the housing of the children the aid of State Welfare Departments was enlisted. They, in turn, gave to certain organizations the actual care of the children. The scheme, I think it- can be said, has met with great success. But as the Minister said in his second-reading speech, he recently asked the organizations experienced in the administration of the act what could he done to improve it. The bill is the result of his consultation with them. It seeks to amend the principal act in three main ways. The first is to make the Minister the guardian of not only the person of the child but also of the child’s estate in Australia. With that, I imagine, no one will quarrel. It is probably beyond question that, until a child reaches his majority, his guardian should control his estate as well as his person. The second amendment provides that no child immigrant shall be allowed to leave Australia without the Minister’s consent in writing. The reason is entirely on the side of the Minister, because each child must be protected from any person who would wish to entice him away from Australia for any purpose other than the good of the child. The Minister may not withhold his consent to a child’s leaving Australia unless some good reason clear to him that it is against the child’s interests so to go. Finally, there is the matter that I first mentioned of permitting children to be assigned to private guardians. That is a big step forward. Many private people in Australia are willing and anxious to take the custodianship of children who have been deprived of their parents and are suffering intensely in a way that most of us are not able to realize. I have received many letters from people anxious to undertake the care and guardianship of such children. No doubt other honorable members have received similar letters. It is necessary, of course, that such a procedure should be hedged by many safeguards. Again I commend the action taken by the Minister. ‘ Usually the child welfare departments of the States of Australia are the first authorities that have cognizance of applications for the adoption of the children. Then the various institutions that care for children who have no parents or whose parents do not desire to maintain them arrange for the adoption of children. The general practice is that a period of probation is served between the time a child is first taken into the home and when the court proceedings are taken for legal adoption. I have intimate knowledge of work of this kind and I must say that it is a sound provision, because it allows for the would-be parents to learn something of the child’s physical, mental and moral make-up and to gain a reasonable idea of whether or not the child will be an acceptable member of the family. It also enables the authority to decide whether or not the people are likely to prove good parents of the child assigned to them. The bill provides for the continuance of that practice in regard to child immigrants. The bill provides that, through the organizations concerned, and under the aegis of the Minister, first of all, custody by private people of children shall be allowed. Finally, if the people who have accepted custody of such children prove suitable, provision is made for legal adoption. In regard to this matter, I recall with considerable pleasure a remark once made to me by the late John Curtin. We were discussing the relative merits of institutions and private homes for children. He said that in his opinion a second-rate home was preferable to a first-rate institution. With that I warmly agree. The institutions and organizations that have undertaken this work have done it admirably, but there never can be within an institution the intense and personal affection that is necessary to bring a child to its optimum development. After many years of personal experience and study of this problem, I believe that to every child personal affection and human love are greater needs than good food. A child must develop within its own personality before it can become a happy citizen. It is necessary to consider the development of its’ spirit and consciousness even before the needs of its body. I commend this bill to the House. I hope that it will be passed without delay and that all of the benefits that we hope will flow from it will be achieved in the very near future.
.- It would be ungallant of honorable members on this side of the House not to pay tribute to the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) for her thoughtful and very human appreciation of the bill. It is not very often that a measure is accepted so gracefully by a member of the Opposition. The honorable member’s approval is rendered more important by virtue of the fact that she is, in her own right, one of the splendid mothers of Australia.
The bill proposes three important amendments to the Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act 1946. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) has been called all kinds of names in his time, but now he is to be the beneficent and legal godfather of the thousands of children who will pour into this country.
– The legal father.
– The three amendments, which are the result of solid and sensible planning, will provide for the future welfare of the young migrants who come to this country. This is the first occasion, as far as I know, on which such proposals have been made by any migration authority. The bill has the elements of real human charity, and what is more important for the children, it is a piece of good, sober, and intelligent planning. At one time immigrant children were put into church institutions, the Fairbridge Farm Schools and the like. They were institutionalized. But, as the honorable member for Darwin has said, a second-rate home is better than a firstclass institution. That is the key-note of the whole plan. The Minister is to be placed in the position of being the legal father of the children, having given them the opportunity to come to this country. For many years I was weaned from child migration because of poor movements that masqueraded under the name of child migration. The arrangements that were made were so haphazard that youngsters coming to this country could be made very unhappy. There was no check upon the sentimental exuberance which fades into boredom, with the result that youngsters were left stranded. During the war many people enthusiastically advocated the bringing of British children to Australia, but when they found that they had to feed them, stay at home to mind them and suffer anxieties that are attached to the care of children of tender years, their sentiment flew out of the window. Government instrumentalities gathered the children under their wings because their so-called guardians could not discharge the long-range responsibilities that they took upon themselves when they requested to have charge of evacuated children. The adequate care of children is essential to child migration, and a step forward is taken by this measure, which provides that the Minister shall act as the legal guardian of the estate as well as the person of any immigration child, that an immigrant child shall not leave Australia except with the consent of the Minister in writing, and that he may place immigrant children in the custody of persons who are in his opinion, suitable to be their custodians. Those three provisions will safeguard the welfare of the children and will enable child migration, which presents many difficult problems, to work smoothly. I congratulate the Minister on this measure, and I also again congratulate the honorable member for Darwin upon having supported it so charmingly from the wealth of her own experience of these matters.
– I agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons). The Minister (Mr. Calwell) may remember that both she and I suggested to him that this should be done. I saw the Minister many times about it privately. There was an organization called the British Orphans Adoption Society, in which the honorable member for Darwin and I were office-bearers, and which had long lists of people who wished to adopt children. At that time the Government insisted that the children who were brought here should be put into institutions. It is apparent that following his visit to Britain, the Minister has come to the conclusion that that arrangement can be improved upon. I make no criticism of the previous arrangement, but this measure will liberalize it. The honorable gentleman can be assured that from all sources he will receive the utmost co-operation to make a success of the scheme.
.- I agree with the sentiments that were expressed by the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons). I believe that this measure represents a good step forward in child migration. It is generally agreed that it will be to the advantage of Australia to have child migrants, because they are more likely than adult migrants to absorb Australian sentiments, to fall into the Australian way of life and, upon reaching adulthood, to be indistinguishable from natural-born Australians. We are, therefore, disposed to favour child migration as against adult migration. It is agreed that in these days the migration of suitable people to Australia is to our advantage and that it is essential that we should increase our population. I hold the view strongly that we should not consider child migration merely from the point of view of how much good it will do to . Australia. It will be good to have the right kind of children brought here. It would also be good to have the right kind of cattle and sheep brought here. But children should not be brought here merely for the economic benefit of this country. If there is one right to which a human being is entitled, it is the right to the nationality of his native land. Owing to the war, there are now many thousands of orphans in the world. There is a disposition on the part of countries that have suffered from the war to regard child migration as an opportunity to dispose of their orphaned children, to the advantage of the children and to the convenience of their native country. There is also a disposition on the part of the countries to which they migrate to receive them for the economic good of those countries. I hope that we shall give priority of consideration to the human aspect and not to the economic aspect of this matter. I know that much can be said in favour of child migration as against adult migration. I realize the economic and defence value to this country of migrants of a good type, but I have never felt happy about the idea that children born in the United Kingdom, Germany, or anywhere else, who have been left orphans by the exigencies of war, should be disposed of as chattels. Without criticizing any one, there seems to be something of that element in this bill which we are now considering. 1 would much prefer to see children given an opportunity to be brought up properly in the country of their birth and, when they have reached the age of maturity, choose for themselves whether they wish to migrate to another country on the other side of the world. After all, that is one of the great decisions that people themselves should make ; it should not be made for them. I offer no objection to the bill. My view is that if the migration of orphan children is to be pursued, this bill makes a contribution towards the continuance of such migration on a better basis; but I wish to make it clear that I do not favour the arbitrary transference of orphan children from one country to another.
– in reply - I thank honorable members who have spoken and the House generally for their generous support of and warm sympathy for this legislation. We had planned three years ago to bring to Australia about 50,000 orphan children from the United Kingdom, because we believed that there would probably be at least that number of children who had been doubly orphaned as a result of the war. Fortunately, from the standpoint of both the children, and this country, we ascertained that the total number of children in the United Kingdom who had been doubly orphaned as the result of submarine and aerial warfare did not exceed 3,500. The United Kingdom Government very properly said, in effect, “ These children are the special responsibility of and are under the care of the people of
Great Britain; they are not to be sent to the dominions “. We have not been able to obtain from the United Kingdom the number of children we are prepared to accept. We did not say to the United Kingdom Government : “ You must have surplus children; send them to us “ ; but we said to organizations like the Fairbridge Farm Schools, the Barnardo Homes, the Salvation Army, the Big Brother Movement and the denominational church organizations of this country, “ If you can find a sufficient number of migrant children to fill your institutions in Australia we shall be very glad to provide shipping accommodation to bring them to Australia “,. The schemes which are in operation provide that the organizations concerned shall not be burdened with the transport costs involved in bringing the children to Australia. We even pay an equipment allowance of approximately £5 sterling in respect of each child to enable the children to be clothed before they leave for this country. These schemes are working satisfactorily. I should not like any one to be under the misapprehension that there has been a vital change in our plans. We are not providing at this stage, and I do not think we shall ever provide, for the placement of migrant children, directly into the homes of foster parents. We think it is desirable that children should go first to the institutions and homes provided by the denominational and secular organizations, and from there be taken into the homes of those Australians who wish to care for them.
– After an interim period?
– Precisely. The power taken in this bill will enable me to nominate a private individual in addition to an institution as the custodian of a migrant child. We are most happy to be able to make that’ arrangement. It is generally agreed - the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) stressed the point - that a second-rate home is very often better than a first-class institution, because it provides love, affection and care, which institutions, because of their size and nature, cannot provide to the same degree. The views expressed by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) are worthy of consideration because the honorable gentleman, who has held office as Minister for the Interior, has had a good deal of experience in matters of this sort. It would be best, of course, if all children could grow to adult estate before deciding for themselves whether they will continue to live in their own natal state or find their homes elsewhere; but the world is so upset to-day that children have to be moved about in their own interests. “We hope to be able to take a number of children from continental Europe. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) and other honorable members have stressed the importance of bringing German migrant children to Australia. There are quite. -a number of German orphan children whose arrival in this country would ‘be viewed generally with very great satisfaction. Unfortunately, we cannot find the shipping accommodation and Ave cannot provide the organization to receive them. In addition, the German people show a very natural disposition to cling to their own children. Millions of their menfolk are still in prisoner-of-war camps outside Germany, It is most regrettable that that situation exists three years after the war has ended. Naturally, the mothers wish that the fathers may be allowed to go home md be reunited with their children. Many children, some of them fourteen or fifteen years of age, naturally want to see their father before they embark on a new life in a new land.
– The separation of families is one of the great tragedies of the war.
– That is so. This country has no reason to feel that it has not done its utmost in endeavouring to alleviate human tragedies throughout the world. It is as willing as is any other country to bring to its shores people of good health, goodwill and good character, and to provide them with an opportunity for a freer life under the Southern Cross than the people of many European nations have known for three generations. I hope that the bill will have a speedy passage through the committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from the committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 30th September (vide page 1059), on motion by Mr. Dedman -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The purpose of the bill before us is to approve of the acceptance by Australia of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and of the Havana Charter for an international trade organization. It is one of the most important measures that have been brought before the Parliament, as it will vitally effect the economic future of this country and will have far-reaching repercussions on trade and employment. It is contended by the Opposition, and by many competent authorities, as I shall show, that both are endangered by it. We are being asked to approve, first, of a general agreement on tariff and trade, which is already in provisional operation, and,’ secondly, . of the ratification of the Havana Charter for the’ formation of an international trade organization. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is a ponderous document. Honorable members have received piles of papers on this subject, which has been under discussion during the last two years. Indeed, the Minister’s second-reading speech on this bill runs into no less than fifteen pages of foolscap typescript. The largest document, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which covers the various tariff changes made at the Geneva conference, was before the Parliament earlier in the year. It has already been debated in this Parliament. Its present operation is provisional. Any member country may withdraw on 60 days’ notice and need not take further legislative action. However, of we do accept it we shall be pledged to those charges until 1951 ; and we thereby accept the international principle of such negotiations, which would be something contrary to our present established tariff practice. This practice is laid down in section 15 1 d of the Tariff Board Act, which provides that the necessity for new, increased, or reduced duties shall be referred to the Board by the Minister, and shall await the Board’s report before action is taken. I believe that we should not take this course, because, by doing so we should be committed to accepting damaging changes under the mostfavourednation clause of the charter. For example, a reconstructed Japan, or any other nation with a lower living standard than our own, could receive concessions that would undoubtedly damage our secondary industries and export trade, thereby creating unemployment and depression conditions. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) represents the electorate of Corio, which is an important centre for the production of woollen textiles. He should be aware of the danger to the Australian industry from Japan. I quote the following from an article written by a wool expert for the Melbourne Herald -
Mixed feelings are held in the wool trade over the Japanese, trade agreement, by which, among various items, Japan will buy Australian wool to the value of £4,200.000 this season. Added competition will benefit general demand in the sale rooms.
On the other hand, Australian and British manufacturers fear the competition in export markets which must follow rebuilding of
Japanese wool textile industries.
Wool manufacturers here and in Britain say that a credit for buying wool for Japan may soon be extended, and the raw material may be used for export markets rather than for home consumption. These fears cannot be lightly dismissed.
Safeguards should be adopted to prevent . dumping of cheap Japanese wool textiles on the world’s markets.
Fears are thus already entertained of the effect of Australias proposal even before the provisions of the charter are given effect to. The charter itself is the important thing. Other conferences will be held from time to time, and decisions will be reached about which we shall know very little. Under the charter, we have given away our economic sovereignty. The fixing of our tariffs is to be left to a number of foreign nations, instead of being under our own control. The so-called Havana Charter originated from the United Nations Organization, and it is necessary for me to trace its history in order that we may view it in its proper perspective. There have been so many conferences, which have produced such an abundance of reports, that most honorable members no doubt believe that the story is a tedious one, and that the sooner the present bill is passed the better. The charter originated from a decision of the preparatory committee of United Nations organization which was entrusted with two tasks of drawing up a charter based on a draft submitted by the United States of America, and of bringing the various nations together to consider the American proposition to reduce “ trade restrictions “, to encourage multi-lateral trade and to bring the world virtually to a freetrade basis by means of the general application of the most favoured nation clause. The charter was discussed in London, Geneva and Havana. Australia’s delegation consisted of about 40 officials led by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and Dr. Coombs. After long lucubrations in Geneva, they moved to Havana for the final drafting of the charter. They were, I believe, in a smoke “dream most of the time. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), who is an eminent lawyer, and well acquainted with abstruse documents, described the draft charter of 120,000 words and 106 intricate clauses as “ the world’s worst document “. It is no wonder that it was quickly agreed to by this Parliament. Honorable members did not have the patience to read it. Its ultimate interpretation is sure to lead to endless contention and delay, and the operation of its main provisions can only lead to further economic dominance by the United States of America, and the disintegration of the Empire into separate economic ‘fragments. Our own Constitution, which has been a fruitful source of litigation that has kept the High Court busy, is a simple document compared with this draft.
Provision is made in the charter for the control of international trade by the International Trade Organization, a super-bureaucratic body with an estimated strength of about 5,000 officials comprising an executive board and numerous commissions. Let us consider the two vital articles of the charter which make the whole document unacceptable to Australia and the Empire. Article 16 provides for the granting of general most-favoured-nation treatment between signatories. The acceptance of a policy of multilateral treaties would be of advantage to the United States of America with its present economic predominance, because it is in a position to sit back without making concessions, while profiting by all arrangements made between other countries. It was a British Labour member who, commenting on the charter, compared the United States of America to the elephant in the chicken run which favoured the policy “Each one for himself, and God help us all “. Great Britain discarded the policy of multilateral treaties in 1898 in favour of preference within the Empire. Up to that time, when Great Britain was the workshop of the world, free trade suited the British manufacturers very well, but, faced with competition from other countries, Britain found it desirable to institute the system of Empire preference. Escape clauses within the policy favoured by the United States of America can always be devised. The noted evasion in a German-Swiss treaty relating to “ dairy produce from cows habitually grazing at an altitude of 1,000 metres “ is an example. At present, we are enjoying the preferences conceded by the Ottawa Agreement, a simple document of a dozen pages. That agreement is to be discarded ; not immediately, of course, as the Minister will remind me when ho replies to the debate but it will go when the provisions of the charter begin to apply. Clause 16 of the charter drives a wedge between Britain and the Dominions, in that they are to be regarded as separate entities for tariff purposes neither Britain nor the Dominions being able to grant a concession to one another without granting it to all countries alike.
Article 17 of the charter obliges members to negotiate for a tariff reduction, and the elimination of preferences, when required. Hitherto, tariff revision was the prerogative of the Government, which was advised by the Tariff Board, and those governments which accepted the advice of the board acted well. The international body which is to be set up under the charter is not an advisory body. It
will have executive powers. The change is vital as far as the Empire is concerned, because it must lead to ultimate extinction of Empire preference and early Empire commercial disunity. As comparatively weak trading units in a freetrade world, Empire countries will be defenceless against America’s economic imperialism. It is merely wishful thinking to suppose that we shall sell vast quantities of goods to the United States of America. This year, our trade deficit with that country will be about £30,000,000, and it has been kept down to that figure only by drastic rationing. The Government’s policy was clearly expressed by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction on the 17th April, 1947, when, speaking in this House, he said -
For the United Kingdom, no less than for us, free access to American markets for our products is a categorical imperative. The price which Australia has to pay for this freer access will bc a reduction in the margins of preference under Ottawa and in certain of our tariffs. The price Britain has to pay will be a reduction in preferences she enjoys in dominion markets.
How does a protectionist Labour party react to that statement? The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Thompson) knows that the great motor-body building works in South Australia would not be in existence had it not been for the protection recommended by the Tariff Board, and granted during the regime of the Lyons Government. Now, the fate of that industry, and of every other secondary industry in Australia, can be determined in distant Geneva by an authority on which Australia will have some representation, it is true, but in which its voice cannot be effective.
Even in the United States of America there is not unanimity of opinion about the charter, which is a bureaucratic planners’ dream. American opinion is best epitomized by Mr. Clayton, UnderSecretary of State, who, when approving of the lean for Britain before the Senate Committee in March, 1946, said -
The markets of the world are open to our goods; not just Empire markets. Rejection of the loan would mean that Britain would withdraw from Bretton Woods; she would then expand her agreements ‘all round the world.
We remember that Great Britain, during the war, was compelled to realize on its overseas investments. Then, having saved the world, it had to turn to the United States of America, which not so many years before was in Britain’s debt, for a loan of £1,000,000,000. In Washington in January, 1947, Mr. Clayton made the following statement: -
British Empire preferences will eventually he completely eliminated. That will be the effect of the working liaison between I.T.O. mid the Marshall Flan to aid Europe. Britain was willing at Geneva to freeze all existing preferences and then dissolve them in the course of the next few years.
Great Britain has been compelled to become a party’ to the agreement, because of its distress and poverty, hut Australia is under no obligation to sign the agreement, and oan set an example to other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations by refusing to ratify the Havana Charter. Through economic stress, Great Britain has been compromised farther than was necessary in relation to this policy of promiscuous non-discriminatory trade. Australia is under no such necessity. Inter im l.ional enthusiasms have superseded i.he Australian Labour party’s former policy cf protection. We have an instance of that change of policy in the Labour party’s outlook on international affairs. The roving Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) interferes in the activities of the Big Four, and tells them how to compose their differences.
– Order! The honorable member must relate his remarks to the bill.
– I do not intend to develop that point. I mentioned it only to show the altered outlook of this socialist Government. Honorable members opposite believe that they can establish a Utopia on earth by concentrating on international affairs. They should concentrate on developing the resources of Australia. I believe that the British Empire, of which Australia is a member, is greater than the United Nations and its predecessor, the League of Nations. Those two organizations were deliberately created, but the British Empire developed by evolution after a long fight against tyrannies both without and within. Yet the trading system of the British Empire, which has been developed over many years, is to be discarded by the socialist Government. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has allowed other countries to pull the wool over his eyes. If he had a complete knowledge of the background of imperial preferences and trade, he would not have been hoodwinked. I urge honorable members opposite not to accept this bill blindly. I am sure that caucus has not discussed it thoroughly. The Australian Labour party has no liking for imperial preference and has allowed fallacious theories to transcend Empire obligations and the tried trading system under which we could have developed a stronger, better-settled and more productive Australia. Mr. L. S. Amery, who is a world authority on trade, particularly Empire trade, has referred in his hook The Awakening to the Geneva report, as follows : -
The hundred articles of the Report include … a great many innocuous and even useful provision’s . . . such as information and statistics. . . . But the main scheme with its ambitious design for controlling world trade is one gigantic and preposterous piece of make-believe. . . .
The opinions of Mr. Amery on trade must carry weight in any part of the world. I urge honorable members opposite to read his book, because it deals with international trade agreements and other cogent subjects. The quotation of his views on the Geneva report continues -
The less scrupulous will, in any case, cheerfully disregard its provisions and get away with it. For the more conscientious these provisions will involve infinite waste of time and embarrassment.
I agree that the months spent in negotiations at Geneva and Havana were a waste of time. Of Australia’s participation at the Geneva conference, Mr. Amery stated -
The importance of stability of employment was stressed, and the section dealing with the subject was somewhat expanded. But it still amounted to no more than to say that it was every country’s duty to keep the people fully employed, and that this must not be done on lines conflicting with the Charter. In other words positive measures of protection against outside competition or to secure employment by mutual preferential or other discriminatory arrangements, were excluded.
In the chapter on “ Employment and Economic Activity”, he comments -
There is considerable expansion of verbiage . . most of it meaningless and platitudinous, such as … members are by “ appropriate and feasible methods to eliminate sub-standard conditions of labour in exporting industries “, and that the avoidance of unemployment “ must depend primarily upon domestic measures “.
The representatives of this socialist Government who attended the trade conferences indulged in the kind of pious talk about which Mr. Amery has written. They would have been better employed in studying methods for developing Australian industries. We all believe in full employment, but the kind of employment is of great importance. A job such as shifting sand is not useful employment. Work should be productive. If honorable members opposite do not take heed, Australia will feel the impact of these international trade agreements a few years hence when the overseas prices for our export commodities recede. Men now employed in skilled trades may then find themselves diverted to public works, maintenance jobs and relief work. Instead of advising other nations that we believe in full employment, the Government should be seeking opportunities for successful trade, and national development. The opinions and comments which I have quoted show clearly the intention of the United states of America, whilst the unrealistic and class-conscious attitude of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction shows an outlook and a limited approach more appropriate to his decisions during the war years on “ lumbago “ shirts and pink icing. A further criticism of the charter comes from the country from which it originated, the United States of America. American opinion is by no means unanimous about the value of the International Trade Organization, because the plans have been made by officials and not by business associations. The president of the Wool Manufacturers Association has made the following pertinent comment : -
The philosophy behind this Charter is such that the resultant document is a conglomeration of unrealistic proposals.
Mr. Amery expressed a similar view. The quotation continues -
The Charter should be discarded in toto and an entirely new start made on a drastically different basis with limited and simplified objectives. The International Trade Organization should be an advisory body.
Members of the Opposition would not. object to the establishment of an international advisory body on trade, but the proposed organization will determine the rates of duty to be imposed on various products, including wool. It is fantastic even to think that Australia proposes to be a party to such an arrangement. The quotation continues -
The International Trade Organization should be an advisory body, designed to provide for an exchange of ideas for the advancement of foreign trade where such trade may be advantageous. The organization should not he a world-planning body seeking to direct the commerce of the world. This latter concept is obviously the one held by the framers of the Charter.
Planned economy on a national scale hardly seems to have been enough of a success to suggest the desirability of planned economy on a global scale. . . ‘.
That we arc trying to lead the world is evident. All the pressure for the Charter comes from our own planners. We have gone so far as to include in the European Recovery Programme Agreements a pledge that the aided countries will support the Havana Charter, and indication that in that quarter at least there is a considerable lack of enthusiasm for the Charter. . . .
There is. a considerable confusion, too. as to the nature of trade and a lack of appreciation of the fact that trade, cither domestic or international, is essentially competitive and lends to rivalry, often of considerable intensity. Trade begets rivalry, but there seems to he n school of thought that believes if you only have enough trade, the rivalry will somehow disappear. I cannot share such a hope. . . .
Chapter 1 1 relates to the maintenance of domestic employment. This chapter should have no place in a. charter laying down general rules for international trade. It seems to me somewhat naive to believe that a country will do a better job in .promoting prosperity within its borders because it has, signed an international agreement so to do. I also believe that meddling of some nations in the domestic affairs of others and criticism of others’ socalled full-employment policies would be a fruitful cause of discord. I think the United States would quite properly resent a debate by other nations as to whether our actions were or were not properly “ designed “ to promote domestic employment. . . .
The general impression seems to 1 e that preferences serve a useful purpose ind the countries which assisted in drafting the Charter apparently want to provide for their more extensive utilization. This appears to have been one result of the publicity attendant upon our own abortive attempt to break down the British system of Empire preferences.
At the Havana conference, some of the smaller nations, learning of the great benefits which Imperial preference had bestowed upon the British Empire, desired to . form themselves into groups with their own preferential system. Yet the International Trade Organization proposes to break down all group preferences of that kind. The quotation proceeds -
We have popularized the idea of preferences. lc so happens that I do not share the State Department’s opposition to the preference system, but whatever one’s idea on this subject, it must be said that the extension of preference systems is completely at variance with the Charter’s alleged objective of freer trade. . . .
The philosophy of this chapter is that any tariff, import restriction or preference, whatever its objective - is an unfortunate mistake and that all tariff rates, whatever they are, should be substantially reduced. There is a complete absence of any apparent realization that some encouragement of domestic production may be advantageous or that there is a “ proper “ level for a tariff. The philosophy is obviously the philosophy of free trade. If it is true - and some people believe that it is - that the United States no longer needs a tariff on any item - by the same token, foreign nations must need them more than ever. If we produce so efficiently that we do not need tariffs, other countries must, of necessity, be relatively inefficient and in need of substantial tariff protection.
This review exposes the fallacy of the scheme, and I believe’ that it should be placed Cil record. The statement proceeds -
The whole emphasis of this chapter is on making the markets of each country more vulnerable to the products of all others. This is u doubtful way of promoting international good feeling.
The whole idea of setting tariff rates by international horse trades is unsound. There are sound reasons for the establishment of tariffs and other controls in many cases. If the circumstances actually justify such controls they should be utilised, and the decision as to what is a proper rate should properly rest with the country using the control.
The value of Empire preference and its history of mutual helpfulness is not fully appreciated by the Minister for Pos’ -war Reconstruction. This Labour Government has been in office only during a period when our surplus production has been in great demand abroad, because of shortages caused by the war. Trade policies must be suitable for lean years as well as for the fat years yet the markets and goodwill developed on a policy of mutual help are to be jettisoned for a complex and idealistic plan that will only lose us markets and hamper our development. Our preferential trade policy with Great Britain is 40 years old. We introduced preferential tariffs in 1908, a year after the Dominion of Canada introduced them. Imperial preference undoubtedly strengthened us to withstand the assaults of war and the economic blizzard of the 1930’s. Without it, we could not have progressed as we have done. When the financial and economic depression occurred, it was largely the Ottawa Agreement of 1932 which gave us widened preference and guaranteed British markets. That agreement, together with increased secondary production and employment, helped to bring us quickest out of our difficulties. In an earlier de’bate, I showed how our exports to Britain increased from 36 per cent, to 49 per cent, of our total, some individual items doubling in quantity, and others, such as canned fruits, increasing by over 80 per cent. In fact, dried, canned, and fresh fruit found such secure markets that the Shepparton cannery, which is in the electorate of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), became the largest in the Empire, and the dried fruits industry in Mildura, Irymple, Redcliffs and down the Murray Valley, gained such strength in the British market, that it was unaffected by the depression. At the same time, more than 3,000 new factories commenced operations in the first five years, and they have steadily increased the volume of employment that they have provided. Let me here quote from the British end. A pamphlet issued by the Empire Industries Association reads as follows: -
Why is the Empire now able to send us so much ?
Because in 1919 we introduced a measure of imperial preference for the first time for 80 years-
We started Empire preference in 1908 when we granted preference to the United Kingdom. The pamphlet proceeds -
This stimulated Empire production.
Here are some examples: -
In 1920 we imported 5 million cwts. of Empire sugar.
In 1937 we bought 26 million cwts.
That was after the Ottawa Agreement had been in operation for five years. The statement continues -
In 1920 we bought 147 thousand cwts. of lim pire raisins.
In 1937 we received 536 thousand Cwts
Those facts show the market that, we obtained in the United Kingdom with the aid of trade preference. Our sugar was marketed there in competition with sugar grown by black labour and our dried fruits were able to face competition from those grown in eastern Europe. The final paragraph which I shall quote from the pamphlet reads -
We are reaping the benefit now, but if imperial preference is thrown away supplies will dwindle once more.
The Havana Charter will destroy imperial preference.
In pre-war days, Great Britain bought 20 per cent, of the exports of the whole world, and 17 per cent, of the exports of the United States of America. The British Empire took 40 per cent, of all of the exports of the United States of America, and Britain sold half its exports to Empire countries on preferential terms. At the same time only 5 per cent, of the total imports of the United States of America were taken from Britain. Now it is proposed that all our achievements, in this field are to be placed in jeopardy for an unworkable international dream.
If honorable members think this agreement does not touch us closely, I direct their attention to the following extract from the Umpire Producer of SeptemberOctober, 1948:-
The following is the text of a submission made to the Australian Minister for Commerce by the Dried Fruits Preference Committee in Australia: - “ We express our regret that it was found necessary to agree to a reduction of the existing rates of preference and in some eases the total elimination of preferences, in the negotiations conducted at Geneva in 1947.
We regard adequate Empire Preferences as absolutely essential to the stability of the Dried Fruits Industry in this country. Under Empire Preference, Australia settled hundreds of returned soldiers in the industry following World War I., and is now planning further soldier settlement following World War II. Production has now reached a potential of 100,000 tons per annum. The Australian industry is now in a position to supply the total needs of dried vine fruits for Australia, Canada and New Zealand, as well as a substantial portion of the requirements of Great Britain. The annual value of the crop is approximately £0,000,000.
It is emphasized that, if a full measure of preference is not retained, the investment by the Australian Governments - Commonwealth and State - of many millions in irrigation development and soldier settlement will hu jeopardized.
The committee would observe that the prossure for reduction and abolition of preference comes from the United States of America, which has a very large exportable surplus of raisins. Annual production may be calculated at 300,000 tons; home consumption 100,000, and exportable surplus 140,000 tons. The expansion of the raisin industry in the United States of America was due to a temporary boom in prices for raisins for ‘home brew* purposes during the prohibition period. The expansion was not justified by world demand or any other opportunity for increase of trade. It is considered that the United States Government is seeking to place the disorganized raisin trade of California on a stable basis by reduction or abolition of Empire Preferences - that she seeks full access to Empire markets at the expense of Dominion supplies. It is considered that the United States of America should solve a domestic problem by domestic plans and not by the displacement of existing Empire trade “.
These dangers are shown both in overseas and Australian publications of authority. The British Empire Producers Organization in its last bulletin states -
Publication in November of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade with its schedules of reductions and eliminations of duties and preferences showed that while much of the structure of Imperial Preference as established by -the Ottawa Agreements- had been preserved, certain preferences such as that accorded by the United Kingdom during the winter months to fresh apples of Empire origin-
That will interest the Tasmanians. I wish the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) were present, because he professes an interest in the welfare of the Tasmanian apple-growers-
– Where are the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) and the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons), who are also Tasmanians?
– They are interested in protecting the apple and pear industry. They will vote against the validation of this infamous agreement.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Balaclava. (Mr. White) to look after himself and let other honorable members look after themselves.
– The article proceeds- had disappeared and that appreciable nibbling at other preferences, both here and in the Dominions - notably in the case of canned and dried fruit - had occurred. The most serious feature of the agreement, however, is the undertaking contained in it, and - much more regrettable from the long-term viewpoint - in the I.T.O. Charter subsequently adopted at Havana, not to increase any preferences above the levels at which they now stand or to introduce any new preferences except with the consent of a two-thirds majority of the I.T.O.
Imagine any one applying to that assembly of many national representatives for permission to grant greater preference. The Melbourne Age, which is not given to extravagant comment, in a leading article on the 15th June, stated -
On almost every occasion of discussion between the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom involving trade and finance the opportunity has been taken by some American authority to assail the existing principles of British preference within the Empire. In the determination of the AngloAmerican Loan Agreement, the protracted discussions on Imperial trade at Geneva, and now in the deliberations on Britain’s participation in the European recovery plan, the American delegations have directly raised the issue.
Two clauses in the present draft agreement relating to the British part of the European recovery plan threaten the economic interests nf Australia and all other dominions. A curious absence of mutuality is to be detected in the demand that, whenever America wishes, Britain shall discuss lowering of Empire preference and possible devaluation of the pound.
Whatever can be done to strengthen Britain economically at this critical stage, whether by assistance under the European recovery plan or other means, is a contribution to world ‘recovery. America as the greatest creditor nation, will in the final issue be a principal beneficiary. There is no reason why temporary assistance to Britain at this juncture should be made the price of surrender of the fiscal autonomy of the British Empire. Once the prevailing abnormalities have been overcome, and the balance of trade adjusted, the existence of a strong British export market to the Dominions and a copious market in Britain for imports from the Dominions, will be of the utmost importance to the preservation of the Empire.
The menacing clauses in the present draft aid agreement should serve as a warning to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa that persistent efforts are being made to whittle down and destroy the right of the constituent members of the British Commonwealth to conduct preferential trade for their mutual benefit. British preference is of the utmost importance to the continuance of Empire relationships on the present basis. No efforts should be spared to safeguard it.
The Minister stated in his speech -
It is to be noted that no new preference may be created and that this extends in principle to all the members of the organization.
How misleading’ that observation is, was shown by the attitude of the United States of America at Geneva on the 25th August, when it sought a preference on copra of two . cents per lb. for the exJapanese Pacific islands now under its control. Australia supported that concession, which was granted. A similar preference is also accorded the United States of America in relation to Hawaii and Samoa.
The Minister in lightly agreeing to this surrender of our traditional policy went on to say -
However, as honorable members are aware, no other British country has extended a new preference of importance to Australia for many years and the Government of the United Kingdom is, irrespective of the charter, formally committed against such preferences.
That is also wickedly misleading. I venture to suggest that no further preferences have been sought by us; hut now if new exports, some of which may he secondary products, become possible from Australia to Great Britain, we cannot give any preference above what we could give to a resuscitated Japan or Germany. Already a proposal for the extension of mostfavourednation treatment to Germany has been put forward, and consideration for the inclusion of Japan will follow. Already, even under present conditions, there are fears of Japanese competition with our secondary industries. They have been voiced by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and by observers who foresee a challenge to our own woollen textile industry from Japan. The Minister made this confession -
It has become apparent in the course of negotiations leading to the formulation of the charter that a number of those countries would, but for this obligation, have sought to create new preferences.
Those countries saw the many advantages of the British preferential system, which this charter seeks ultimately to destroy, but which is best suited for the expansion of trade, and the assurance of stability, where a group of nations possess varied resources, and have mutual interests in welfare and defence. Yet a customs union is permitted, although the continuance of the British preferential system is not permitted. That customs unions are permissible does not help us. A. customs union is not possible within the British Empire with differing industrial standards. Tariffs are the gears and differentials that synchronize our costs, resources and currency, and they must be carefully regulated if they are to protect and develop our economy. A customs union exists in the Benelux countries, where conditions permit it; and in a localized form in the TJnted States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and between the Australian States. But the grouping system which is traditional with us, which has been mutually beneficial, and which permits and has enabled many bi-lateral trade treaties to be made with other countries, is not allowable. That shows how illogical the proposal is, and bow it is directed against the British Empire trade system.
Any criticismI make of the United States of America in this connexion is in an economic sense. The hope of the democratic world rests upon concord and understanding among the Englishspeaking people. We are conscious of the great help given to us and to civilization by the United States of America during the war, and we shall do well to seek the greatest solidarity with America in defence and resistance against the sinister forces that disturb the world to-day. The Marshall aid plan for European recovery is a superbly generous humanitarian plan to make seventeen billion dollars available to the European nations to assist their economic recovery over a period of four years. That will help to increase production and stabilize currencies. The United States of America has wisely seen the necessity of financing war-ravaged countries, so as not to repeat its post-war policy of World War I., when its prohibitive IIa.wIey-Smoot tariff restricted trade, drew off the gold of the world and largely caused the depression of the thirties. With our economic unity gone, because we can only trade as one small nation among a number of nations, we shall be in a weakened bargaining position as a result of the economic disarmament of which we are now being asked to approve. Those who hope for greatly increased trade with the United States of America are doomed to disappointment. A great deal has been made of the fact that America made a slight reduction of wool duties, but we have been putting pressure on America to reduce duties for the last twenty years.
– And never succeeded.
– Nor shall we succeed again.
– We have succeeded.
– I challenge the Minister to show that any of those changes has brought a pennyworth of extra business to Australia. When we had large surpluses of butter and other primary products, we suggested repeatedly to the Americans that they should take those surpluses, but now they are being snapped up by a hungry world. Because the Minister is an enthusiast for planners and has the international mind, he believes that we can sell something to America that that country can produce for itself in great quantities. The primary and secondary production of the United States of America to-day is greater than that of the rest of the world. It would be foolish to peddle our goods there and to give away the safe and sound market that we have in Britain. If the Minister believes that we can do so, he should not be occupying his important position. We have rarely had a favorable trade balance with America, and the indications are that we shall have a £33,000,000 trade deficit with it for the last financial year. We have had to take stern action to reduce imports by licensing and diverting trade to the sterling area. We can do better by promoting more and more inter-Empire trade and, thereby, building up our strength, which may have to be tested again in another world war, although it is to be hoped that that will never occur. It was the mutual trade arrangements in the family of nations that is the British Empire which helped to strengthen us in the past.
The international trade is to come into force on the sixtieth day following the day on which a majority of the governments which signed the Final Act at
Havana have deposited instruments of acceptance with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. If, however, by the 24th March, 1949, it has not so entered into force, it will enter into force on the sixtieth day following the day on which twenty of the governments that participated in the conference at Havana have deposited their instruments of acceptance. The Minister told us that it is likely that most of the countries which participated in the conference will defer the deposit of their instruments of acceptance until the Congress of the United States has considered the charter, which is not likely to occur before January, 1949. That is the position. I understand that we shall wait until Britain and the United States have accepted it. Britain will have to accept it because of the perilous position in which it is placed. America will accept it because it will be to its benefit to do so. Australia has everything to lose by accepting it.
The Minister has eulogized the bill and endeavoured to interpret the complex and intricate nature of this charter and the subsidiary documents. The interpretation of these documents, however, will be made, not by him or the Australian Government but hy an international body sitting in Geneva. It is that body which will decide whether certain industries will be allowed to continue to exist in certain countries and where exports of foodstuffs shall go. Actually what the Parliament is being asked to do is to pass an act which will authorize the Government to become a party, on behalf of Australia, to a highly equivocal and far-reaching international contractual agreement the consequences of which, to put it in the simplest terms, no one can sincerely presume to understand or estimate. The Minister tried to put it into simple terms, but the documents that I now hold in my hand are only some of those that honorable members are expected to read. Because I foresee a great danger to our country if we enter into this arrangement for an international charter to regulate our trade, I feel that we should not validate this dangerous document. To test the real sentiments of thu Labour party and to see whether honorable members opposite intend to
Ifr. White. endanger the future of employment and progress in Australia, I move -
That all words alter ““That” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ the bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide that nothing in the proposed act shall in any way restrict the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia from giving preferential tariff concessions to goods manufactured in the United Kingdom or in other countries of the British Empire and Commonwealth
– The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has merely repeated what was said when the House discussed this subject some months ago, following the return of the Minister for Post-war Beconstruction (Mr. Dedman) from Havana. The Minister, on that occasion, tabled a statement, which was discussed at great length. Since then, some -of the conditions that were laid down have also been discussed. Honorable members will recollect that when the House was debating proposed alterations to the tariff schedules, some of these matters were dealt with. There was a discussion then on the tariffs in relation to dried fruits and other goods that we ‘were sending to Canada. Any one who was not acquainted with what has occurred would imagine, having listened to the honorable member for Balaclava, that we are proposing to do something in the future, although, in fact, it was done months ago. The bill, which is a very short one, is designed to give effect to decisions that have already been made. The amendment that has been moved by the honorable gentleman rather indicates that he belongs to an optimists’ club or society. By. reading extensively from a sheaf of papers containing the writings of men who are entirely opposed to what was agreed to at these international conferences, he hopes to induce the House to alter a decision at which it arrived previously.
The honorable gentleman directed one or two taunts at the Labour party, and asked what honorable members on this side of the House thought of this charter in relation to its protectionist policy. The development of our industries has been largely due to the protectionist policy of the Labour party. I took part in a federal election campaign some twenty years ago and I made use of some speaker’s notes that were prepared by Mr. E. G. Theodore. I regard those notes as being among the best that I have seen to assist speakers to talk on matters such as the development of Australian industry, exports, preferences and what can te done to improve the standard of living of our people. Great advances have been made since that time as a result of what wo then called the new protection policy. 1’ still believe in that policy, and so does the Labour party. We believe that any industry which can be established in Australia and which can produce goods that can be sold in Australia at prices comparable with those of imported goods, should be protected. The honorable member for Balaclava said that, by voting for this bill, I would endanger the motorbody building industry in South Australia, which is situated in my electorate. Statements such as that do not influence me very much. I realize that it is mainly due to the efforts of men who hold views similar to my own that we have been able to secure the protection that was necessary to enable our industries to develop as they have done. When the States were imposing taxes themselves, they tried to attract industries from other States. With regard to the motor-body building industry, when I was in the South Australian Parliament, the South Australian Government had to offer inducements in the form of reduced wharfage and other charges to retain the industry in the State. I realize how industries can be affected on an international basis by tariffs and, on a national basis, by the tax inducements that one State may offer as against another, and I would not blindly support a measure that I thought was detrimental to the interests of this country.
We must consider why this agreement was arrived at. The Minister for Postwar Reconstruction was in Geneva for months, endeavouring to achieve an international agreement on trade, tariffs and preferences. The Geneva conference almost reached a deadlock because of the American claims with regard to duties on wool. The Minister or Dr. Coombs flew to Australia to confer with the Prime Minister and other members of the Government on the situation that had arisen and to seek instructions on what should be done in the best interests of Australia. I do not think that the honorable member for Balaclava presented his case fairly when he attempted to make it appear that Australia is the determining factor in Empire preferences. If Australia had not agreed to be a party to the agreement and had not been prepared to discuss Empire preferences, the position would have been very grave indeed. There was a possibility that Britain might have been forced to limit the Empire preferential system to a far greater degree than was done in the agreement that was arrived at. Like honorable members opposite, particularly the honorable member for Balaclava, 1 am strongly imbued with sentiment favorable to the Empire.
– In this case we need more than sentiment.
– I agree that sentiment does not count for much in international trade relations. Regrettable as it may be, sentiment plays very little part in such matters. Trade relations are determined upon hard business principles. None-the-less, I hope that those who are responsible for the negotiation of such agreements on behalf of this country and of other Empire countries generally will keep in mind the need to strengthen the ties of Empire. The honorable member for Balaclava discussed this bill in an admirable and educational way; but his speech contained many false assumptions. It is my object to correct some of them lest people gain the idea that the fears which he expressed will he realized. The purpose of this bill is merely to approve of the acceptance by Australia of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which this House debated at length some time ago, and of the Havana Charter for the establishment of an international trade organization. It is a simple bill, consisting of only seven clauses. The honorable “ member for Balaclava did not confine his remarks to the question whether or not these instruments should be approved; he dealt at length with their provisions. I do not intend to go into the details of these instruments. If every honorable member who speaks on this hill does so the debate will be unduly protracted. Opportunity was afforded to us on an earlier occasion to deal with the principles and details involved. We do not need to traverse the ground again. Clause 4 of the bill seeks approval of the acceptance of the agreement and the charter, and clauses 5 and 6 seek approval of the signing of certain protocols at Havana and Geneva. The purpose of the bill is merely to obtain the formal approval of the Parliament of the acceptance of these instruments. The honorable member for Balaclava said that honorable members on this side of the House have no ideas on this subject because they do not’ understand it and are told in the caucus what to say about it. That is entirely incorrect. We are as well equipped and as anxious to give thought to matters of this kind as is the honorable gentleman himself. Just as he has strong convictions on the subject of tariffs and preferential duties, so also have honorable members on this side of the House. We say, however, that as the agreement was fully debated in the past there is no need to delve deeply into it now. I have had some experience in these matters. According to the honorable member, in future our tariff policy will he determined, not by the Australian Government, but by the International Trade Organization. That is far from the truth. All that happened at Geneva was that we made certain commitments in exchange for certain concessions. For instance, certain concessions were obtained from the United States of America in respect of the sale of wool to that country, and in return we agreed to reduce certain Empire preferences to place America in a more favorable position We further agreed that existing preferences would not be disturbed and that no new preferential agreements would be made without the consent of a majority of the parties to the agreement. In doing so we adopted no isolationist policy. Apparently the honorable member for Balaclava would have us return to the old system under which Australia determined what duties should be applied to goods coming into this country and what preference should be extended to any other country, and let the rest of the world “ go hang “. The honorable gentleman chided the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) about the negotiations for the sale of Australian wool to the United States of America. Indeed, he challenged the Minister to show what benefit would accrue to Australia from such sales. In the next breath he said that the United States of America produces goods in such prolific quantities that Australia’s production could have very little effect on American sales. As the honorable gentleman proceeded he set up one Aunt Sally after another and promptly knocked each of them, down again. We must view international agreements of this kind from the stand-point of their effect upon the economy not only of this country but also of the world generally. We must make up our minds whether we wish to return to the old system of trade with all the chaos brought about by international trade barriers or whether we will enter into trade agreements acceptable to other producing countries. The honorable member for Balaclava said that the negotiations which led to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade were conducted at a time when the’ prices of primary products in the world’s markets were at a very high level because of the general world shortages, and he pointed out that at some future time countries other than Great Britain may refuse to accept our goods. The authorities in Great Britain are well aware of that possibility. In the years between World War I. and World War II., and to an increasing extent since the end of World War II., Great Britain’s capacity to produce goods and to sell them under preferential arrangements with other Empire countries has been greatly impaired. We all are aware that since the end of the war British investments in South American countries have been liquidated in order to enable Great Britain to meet its commitments and to survive the effects of the war.
– Britain will rise again.
– The honorable member virtually took the words out of my mouth. I believe that good things always come out on top, and as Great Britain, in my opinion, stands for the best things, it will rise again. Notwithstanding that belief, I do not delude myself by thinking that ‘Great Britain can extricate itself from its difficulties without assistance. Undoubtedly, it will rise again, but the rapidity of its rise will depend to a great degree upon the assistance of the United States of A m erica.
– - And of Australia.
– Australia was not affected by the war in anything like the same degree as Great Britain. When the negotiations at Geneva were in progress, Great Britain had reached so serious a position that unless it obtained additional credits from the United States of America there seemed little hope for it. Whether or not we like this agreement, whether or not we believe that it will bring to us the benefits Ave hope to obtain from it, whether or not we fear that it may loosen the ties of Empire, we must not lose sight of the fact that it was made at a time when Great Britain was struggling for survival and that by its means Great Britain may be able to restore its position as one of the leading countries of the world. In considering agreements of this kind, the guiding principles should be, first, self-preservation, and, secondly, justice for all countries. As the result of this agreement, it is hoped that Great Britain will be able to overcome the difficulties which now confront it and that world trade generally will be improved. Irrespective of the slurs that may be cast on the United States of America in describing its attitude towards Great Britain, the Dominions and other countries - the honorable member for Balaclava used the simile of the elephant in the chicken run - we cannot get away from the fact that, to a great degree, the future of the world depends on the United States of America. There are many big men in America, as there are in every country - and not all of them in this country sit on the other side of the House - who are prepared to do everything they can to benefit mankind. I admit, of course, that when it comes to a consideration of mundane things, such as the goods we can buy in the shops, the houses we live in. or the physical comforts we can provide for ourselves, the average man is in clined to haggle a little and we may wonder whether in this agreement we made the best bargain that could be made But there are times when even parliamentarians, with years of experience be hind them, including men who have attained ministerial rank, would be the better for paying some regard to future world conditions. We are not now considering merely Australia’s future. We have before us a proposal which may have a vital bearing upon the future of other nations as well. This House is considering an instrument which was designed to promote better international feeling. We should show that we are prepared to give a little away in order to make things better for other people. He who attempts to climb at the expense of others may find that those over whom he attempts to climb cannot bear his weight, and that when they fall he falls also. On tho other hand, the man who tries honestly to raise others will find that he raises himself, too. I know that honorable members opposite have strong convictions on trade matters, just as I have, and I do expect them to agree with everything I say. They are entitled to their opinions, but I appeal to them to broaden their outlook, and to take care that they do not injure Australia in their anxiety to gain some immediate advantage.
– -Despite all the excuses which have been made, this bill, if passed, will make very serious inroad? into the principle of Empire preference. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) said in February this year, the source from which the Geneva Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and kindred agreements sprang was the Mutual Aid Agreement between President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill. As the Prime Minister also said on that occasion, Mr. Churchill was not over-anxious to have Article VII., relating to tariff revision, included in the Mutual Aid Agreement. Mr. Churchill realized that Imperial preferences could very easily be affected by any contract that provided for the lowering of tariff barriers throughout the world. It is an undoubted fact that the American Congress exacted a price for accepting the
Mutual Aid Agreement, and that price was a general reduction of tariff barriers, particularly in relation to Imperial preference.
There is no doubt, also, that one of the strings to the Anglo-American loan was the compulsory provision with regard to non-discrimination so far as American exports were concerned. Indeed, the Prime Minister has admitted that, in order to sell both the Mutual Aid Agreement and the Anglo-American loan to the American Congress, the reduction of tariff barriers, including the partial elimination of Imperial preference, had to be included.
It is no new thing for prominent members of the Australian Labour party to advocate the abandonment of Imperial preference. When the Ottawa Agreement was before this House for ratification in 1932, the then leader of the Labour party, Mr. Scullin, moved for its withdrawal, and the re-opening of negotiations. He said -
The most serious blow struck at the unity and goodwill of the British Commonwealth of Nations has been struck by this agreement.
At the conclusion of his speech, he said -
This agreement may be ratified by this Parliament under the crack of the party whip but it cannot last.
Despite that statement, Imperial preference did last while there was a non-Labour government in power in Australia. From the signing of the Ottawa Agreement in 1932 until the outbreak of war, British exports to British countries rose by over 50 per cent., that is, from £166,000,000 to £252,000,000. Exports from British countries to Britain rose from £284,000,000 to £405,000,000, an increase of 64 per cent. From these figures it is obvious that the Imperial preferential system was of tremendous value to Britain and the Empire.
The present Australian High Commissioner in London, Mr. Beasley, who was a prominent Australian Labour member and Minister before going to Britain, gave his views on bills to ratify the Ottawa Agreement during the debate in 1932. He said- .
If the bill is passed, as is probable, I make it clear, not only to our own people, but also to the people overseas, that immediately an opportunity presents itself to terminate the agreement we shall accept it.
The opportunity has now presented itself for Mr. Beasley, who, it will be recalled, took part in the Geneva talks. A subsequent Labour Prime Minister of Australia, now the present High Commissioner for Australia in Canada, Mr. Forde, had this to say during the same debate -
The Ottawa Agreement is the greatest political ramp that has ever been perpetrated by any Australian delegation abroad.
Those men still occupy prominent positions which now enable them, in conjunction with the Australian Government to apply their policy of 1932, which is the eventual elimination of Imperial preference. The first step was taken at Geneva last year, when it was agreed to reduce a number of- preferential rates of duty. The next step will be taken at Geneva early next year under the authority of the measure that we are now considering, and the process will continue until Empire preference is a mere memory, and the Labour party’s policy of 1932 for the termination of the Ottawa Agreement is given full effect to.
Imperial preference is the key-stone of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Despite the magnificent help which the United States of America has given in the last few years, Britain could not survive if it were to sacrifice the members of the Empire in order to become a party to some other union. Perhaps that is why the British Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Stafford Cripps, stated on the 30th October of this year that the policy of the Socialist party was liquidation of the British Empire. The first step in the implementation of that policy is the abandonment of Imperial preference. The Labour Government of the United Kingdom and the Australian Labour Government have strangely similar policies.
Let us examine the attitude of the United States of America to international trade agreements, since that country played such a prominent part in bringing them about. Although the United States of America is anxious to restrict, if not to eliminate, British preference, and to bring about a general reduction of tariffs in other countries, it is at the same time taking elaborate steps to see that its own industries and possessions outside the
United States of America do not suffer in the process. The very principles which the United States of America so strongly opposed at Geneva have been resolutely applied to its own mandated or occupied territories in the Pacific, and preferential tariffs between the United States of America and those possessions have effectively hampered the trade of other countries. By the Trade Agreements Extinction Act of 1948, which was passed in June of this year, the President of the United States of America must furnish to the Tariff Commission a list of all articles to be considered for possible modification of duties and other import restrictions. The commission must hold public hearings, take evidence from all interested parties, and report its findings to the President within 120 days. No foreign trade agreement may he entered into in the meantime.
In Australia, there is statutory provision for somewhat the same procedure under the Tariff Board Act. Instead of holding an open public inquiry by the board during which evidence is given on oath, the Australian Government relies on departmental officers, who, under the general control of a Minister, assess the degree of protection required. According to the bill before us, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was signed on behalf of Australia at Geneva on the 30th October, 1947. The charter was signed at Havana on the 24th March, 1948. The general objects of the International Trade Organization Agreement included the alleged facilitating of trade between Australia and the United States of America. Is it not strange, then, that during the last, twelve months the dollar situation has become more and more acute? It appears that we have relinquished imperial preference on 20 per cent, of the items involved for no reciprocal advantage.
The negotiations almost broke down at Geneva because the Government of the United States of America refused to cut its tariff on Australian fine wool. Eventually, a 25 per cent, cut on the tariff of 34- cents per ib. was granted in return for concessions by Australia and the Empire. Tt was said that the benefits which would accrue to Australia would be consider able. According to the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in the United States of America, the American wool clip for 1948 is the smallest since 1923, being 6 per cent, less than that of 1947, and 33 per cent, below the average for the ten years from 1937 to 1946. One would expect, therefore, that the United States of America would be a heavy huyer on the Australian wool market at the present time. However, according to a Brisbane report of the wool auction held there on the 2nd November this year, operations by buyers from the United States of America were again restricted, although types on offer were suitable for American requirements. The opinion has been frequently expressed that United States mills could not remain out of the Australian market much longer, but it is a fact that great quantities of our fine wools have been going to customers in Russia and in Italy instead of to those in the United States of America during the last twelve months. I am sure that it would be better for the Empire that we should exchange our fine wools for American dollars rather than for Russian roubles. Under-production by certain nations compared with the phenomenal production of the United States of America is the main cause of the dollar shortage. Australia is one of the nations which must step up its production. It is worse than useless to formulate trade agreements if some countries have no surplus goods for trade purposes. Since the end of the war, American production has been phenomenal, largely because private initiative has been comparatively unhampered by government regulations, and the application of policies for the nationalization of industry. In Australia, the story is much different. Official figures which I have quoted more than once in this chamber, indicate an alarming decline of the quantity of goods being produced in this country. The facts are indisputable. Whilst the quantity of goods produced in America has increased to an extraordinary degree, the quantity of production in Australia has declined. Consequently, Australia will not be able to participate fully in international trade agreements until its internal policy is considerably changed. An overhaul of the departmental system of restricting import and export licences, a general review of the restrictions on the allotment of dollars for the purchase of tractors, motor vehicle parts and the like, and the curtailment df the activities of Communist disrupters in industry are urgently required, because those three factors are outstanding causes of the curtailment of production, which is hindering the extent of our participation in world trade.
The bill is a short one of three pages. T.t consists of seven clauses. However, the agreements to which it relates are long and involved, and a,re couched, in the main, in legal jargon, which is difficult to understand, as the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has emphasized in his excellent speech. I direct attention to the simple wording of section 92 of the Australian Constitution. It reads as follows: -
On the imposition of uniform duties of customs, trade, commerce, mid intercourse among the States whether by internal carriage or ocean navigation, shall be absolutely free
No other section of the Constitution has led to more litigation than that apparently simple section. The words of section 92 have been interpreted again and again during the last 48 years, and even now, the Privy Council is being called upon to interpret them again in the Banking case. Bearing in mind the example of the Australian Constitution, I see a. cause for international misunderstandings in endeavours to interpret the 130,000 word charter and the subsidiary documents which attempt to regulate international, and not interstate, trade. If the apparently simple words of section 92 of the Australian Constitution have led to so much legal disputation, it is difficult to imagine the confusion which will be caused when nations interpret the 130,000-word charter and the subsidiary agreements.
Articles XVI. and XVII. of the agreement, dealing with “mostfavourednation “ treatment, the reduction of tariffs, and the elimination of preferences, are couched in such complicated terms that no two nations will ever be able to agree on their interpretation. However, we are presented with agreements which have already been signed on behalf of Australia, and no attempt by members of the Opposition to clarify the terms of the agreements will meet with success. The submission of the agreement to the Parliament for ratification may be regarded as a formality. The main difficulty which I foresee, is that some of the great Australian primary industries, such as the sugar and fruit-canning industries, may be deeply involved as the result of a subsequent interpretation which will bind us. Should that position arise, the responsibility will lie with the Labour Government, which has introduced the bill to approve the agreement, and demands a complete blanket approval.
Sir Stafford Cripps, who was President of the British Board of Trade from 1945 until 1947, clearly indicated a few days ago that the policy of the British socialist party was the liquidation of the British Empire. His counterpart in Australia, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, has shown clearly by the introduction of this bill that the Australian socialist party has a similar objective. The first step towards achieving that objective is an assault on imperial preference. Succeeding steps, in accordance with the policy of the Australian Labour party, which was formulated as long ago as 1932, are designed to secure the ultimate elimination of imperial preference. If members of the Government consider that I have been too severe on them, I shall give them an opportunity to disown the former British Ambassador to Moscow, Sir Stafford Cripps, and repudiate the policy which the Australian Labour party formulated sixteen years ago and which is being implemented this year. I urge the Government to accept the amendment which the honorable member for Balaclava has submitted. In committee, I shall move that the following new sub-clause be added to clause 4 : - (3.) Nothing iii this Act shall in any way restrict the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia from giving preferential tariff concessions to goods manufactured in the United Kingdom or other countries of the British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations.
The whole-hearted acceptance of that amendment by the Labour party will provide a safeguard for the producers of Australia, and for Australia itself as an integral part of the British Empire. The
Opposition urges the Government to associate itself with the policy of Imperial preference and all that it means, because we have derived substantial advantages from the Ottawa Agreement.
.- The purpose of this bill is to approve the acceptance by Australia of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and the Havana Charter for an international trade organization, but our acceptance of the agreement and the charter will not become operative until the United Kingdom and the United States of America have ratified them. The Australian Government, in common with the governments of many other countries, has been, associated with the negotiations from which the final charter has emerged. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has submitted an amendment designed to secure the retention of Imperial preference, and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) has stated that he will support it. Members of the Opposition, as usual, are hiding their heads in the sand. Even if the amendment were agreed to, it would be utterly useless in practice. Must honorable members opposite forget, or do they not know, that Imperial preference is an agreement between two parties ? If Great Britain, in the present circumstances, or because of a deliberate policy, decides to abandon Imperial preference in favour of wider international benefits, Australia will be acting childishly and futilely in insisting upon the retention of Imperial preference.
– The honorable member does not understand the position.
– I am sure that the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) does not understand it.
– As Minister for Trade and Customs, I was in charge of the ‘bill which gave effect to the Ottawa Agreement.
– The honorable member does not understand the modern world. In his speech this afternoon, he has advanced the policy which Communists in Australia and in other countries enunciate.
– That is a new one.
– The honorable member laughs, but, this afternoon, I heard him state that the proposed trade agreement is a move by the United States to advance American economic imperialism. Who are the major exponents of that theory? If honorable members opposite listen to Communist speakers in any part of Australia, they will hear a constant repetition of the words “.American economic imperialism “. Repeatedly, the Communists assert that the Australian’ Government and the British Government are furthering the cause of rampant American economic imperialism. So the honorable member for Balaclava has, wittingly or unwittingly, echoed the words of Communist speakers throughout the world. Honorable members opposite, who claim, that Australia should not become a party to the international trade organization, are hiding their heads in the sand.
– The honorable member is in favour of the Bretton Woods Agreement.
– I am still in favour of that agreement. As the years pass and the benefits of that organization arc demonstrated, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) will admit that I was right in supporting the Bretton Woods Agreement, and that he was wrong in opposing it.
Honorable members opposite have referred to the great benefits that Australia and other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations have derived from the Ottawa Agreement. The Leader of the Australian Country party has complained that, by adopting the Havana charter, Australia will sacrifice Imperial preference and all the benefits associated with it. I have stated before, and I repeat my views to-day, that we have never been able to assess the net benefits which we have derived from the Ottawa Agreement. The credits are known, but the debit balance has never been and can never be known. The Labour party, when in opposition, opposed the Ottawa Agreement. Had I been a member of the House of Representatives when the legislation to approve of Australia’s participation in the Ottawa Agreement was being considered, I would . also have opposed it. The Labour party was not alone in resisting the ratification of the Ottawa Agreement. The Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Manufactures issued a manifesto demanding that the Prime Minister of the day, Mr. Lyons, repudiate the agreement. They said that they had never dreamt that Australia’s representatives would commit the country to such an agreement. They feared that it would retard the development of Australian secondary industries. Professor Shann, who was economic adviser to the Australian mission, onhis return to Australia, made several excellent speeches, including one at the University of Western Australia, in which he fully surveyed the conference, and, in words pregnant with meaning, said -
The more Britain jeopardizes her position as economic leader in the world and the move she sacrifices world trade by going into narrow agreements, the more Australia must build up her defences at home.
Events since then have proved that he was right.I feel very strongly about the Ottawa Agreement. By entering it, Great Britain and the other countries of the Empire tried to restrict their trade to themselves. That was in the depression years when people in all countries wanted goods. Britain endeavoured to live within the Empire, as did the other members of the Empire. The immediate result was that the excluded countries entered into trade agreements with each other and inserted “most favoured nation clauses “ in their tariffs. We have benefited from the sales that we have made to Great Britain as the result of the Ottawa Agreement, but, as the result of its enactment, Britain, itself, has suffered in the markets in thr rest; of the world.
– I ask the honorable member for Balaclava, who has interjected, “ Rats ! “, to look at the wide picture of the world. Australia’s population is less than8,000,000. We cannot absorb the products of Britain’s great secondary industries. What remains but South Africa, New Zealand, to a small extent, Canada, and the colonies as a market for Great Britain’s huge productivity? Contrast the Empire market with the market that Britain has in the rest of the world and it will be seen that all the import trade of the Empire is not sufficient to satisfy Britain’s great industrial undertakings. So, the benefits that came to it from the Ottawa Agreement were more than counter-balanced by the result of the agreements that were entered into between other countries.
– Name one agreement
– I suppose the honorable gentleman thinks it led to the war.
– Immediatelythe Ottawa Agreement was reached, the United States of America and other countries made agreements containing preference clauses.
– Name one.
– The Ottawa Agreement was reached in the depth of the worst depression the world has ever entered. The world had to emerge from the depression, or revolution and chaos would have occurred. In assessing the results of the Ottawa Agreement, one must first take into account the losses that accrued to Britain because its goods were excluded, to a great degree, from markets outside the Empire.
As to the rules and regulations of the International Trade Organization, I say that, in present circumstances, no nation would enter into an agreement to establish such an organization unless it contained escape clauses. No nation could enter into the International Trade Agreement if it was to be definitely bound by it. Australia would not and probably should not do so, in the absence of an escape clause, unless it knew how the agreement would work, and it doe9 not. No nation knows that. The important fact is that the nations have been able to agree to try to regulate the flow of international trade. No nation can live in a vacuum, surrounded by tariff barriers of other countries. The natural result of discrimination is counter-discrimination. When I was talking about the results of the Ottowa Agreement, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) said that I probably believed that it caused the war. The simple fact is that trade restrictions produce counter measures. They are the most fertile source of international discord, from which there can be only two results. The first and better one is a world organization in which the nations will discuss their trade problems and do their best to ensure a free flow of goods between them and thus remove a prime course of conflict. The other is war. I do not say that war is the immediate result of trade restrictions, but it is an eventual result. Trade restrictions have been the most fruitful causes of war. The One Hundred Years War between Great Britain and Trance was caused, according to reliable historians, by the demand of British merchants for the free entry of their wool into Flanders. I welcome everything that will remove the causes of war. I hope that the International Trade Organization will be effective to that end and that the nations will meet in conference to discuss their problems together. They will, thereby, become aware of and understand the problems of their neighbours and, as a fruit of that understanding, there will be a freer movement of international trade.
– Is the honorable member a free trader? Has the Labour party given up the policy of protection?
– The honorable member’s interjection is of no importance. Unless nations work together, they must work apart. The nations must get together and agree to reasonable international trade conditions. Nations cannot live alone or in small groups, because either state involves the erection of trade barriers, which are the producers of chaos or conflicts. Australia must enter into such organizations as the International Trade Organization. After World War I. the League of Nations was established. It and its subsidiaries were designed to prevent war and to” deal with such international matters as labour problems. The League of Nations did not deal adequately with international trade and currency problems. In short, it failed. The fruit of its failure was World War II. The lesson that we have learnt is that international trade and currency problems must be solved if the world is to he free from war. In the long run no nation can export more than it imports, unless it is prepared to invest its profits in the countries to which its excess ex ports are sent or to regard as a loss of capital the value of the goods so exported. The United States of America is beginning to accept that fact. The war left the United States of America able to lead the world. There are signs that it will accept that leadership and by economic action prevent the resort to armed conflict. American imperialism is far from a fact. Doubtless, many industrial magnates in America regard the world as a place to be exploited, but that is not the view taken by the United States Government, which has shown a practical realization of the problems of the rest of the world by the generous aid that it has given to European and Asian countries. That aid costs money. The money is provided by the American taxpayer. What a cry would be raised by honorable gentlemen opposite if Australian taxes were kept high or even raised higher in order to provide vast appropriations to pay Australian businessmen and primary producers for secondary and primary products which were given to other countries to aid them !
Mr. Rankin interjecting,
– The American contributions to the allied victories in World War I. and World War II. were magnificent, and it ill-behoves the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) to decry them. The American nation and the American Government have shown a similar spirit by their magnificent contribution to the solution of the economic problems of our time. What can the United States of America gain by participating in this international organization that it could not gain by playing a lone hand in- world affairs? Every country in the world to-day is crying out for American goods. Almost every country needs American dollars and American help in its economic and military affairs. If the American? wished to insist upon attaching conditions to their loans or gifts, would any one deny that they could impose extremely harsh conditions? The world must have American goods and American aid. It has been said that onerous conditions were attached to the AngloAmerican loan. In fact, with the exception of the provision regarding the early convertibility of sterling, no onerous conditions were imposed. That loan was a magnificent effort by’ the American people, and it is remarkable that it should have been approved by such a mixed assembly as the Congress of the United States of America. Doubtless the Americans will exercise great influence in the International Trade Organization. If they co-operated with other republics in the American Continent they could, if they so desired, dominate the organization, but they could do the same if they did not join it. If the United States of America wishes to sell its surplus products to the rest of the world, it must accept goods and services in return for them, ft should be remembered, first, that the economic position of the United States of America would not be improved by joining this organization ; and, secondly, that there is nothing to indicate that it will try to impose upon the world anything that it could not impose easily, and, in fact, more easily, by declining to co-operate with other countries.
If Australia does not co-operate with the rest of the world to prevent a recurrence of the hardships that were suffered, in the great depression and later in the last war, it will not be doing its duty as a democratic nation. The depression was a clear indication of under-employment and insufficient spending power in all the nations of the world. In a world that could provide full and plenty, people at that time suffered misery and starvation, but all nations hastened to contract their trade instead of expanding it. If there are benefits from co-operation between the countries of the British Empire to ensure a wider flow of goods, is it not logical to argue that that benefit will be greatly increased if all the nations of the world participate in an organization such as this? I do not think that that proposition can he denied. If the peoples of the British Empire have agreed, in order to develop their countries and further their welfare, to exchange their goods with as little restriction as possible, why should not that develop into a wider organization when the nations of the world agreeing, in order to raise standards of living, not only in countries that are in the process of de- velopment, but also in poor and backward countries it must be for the general good.
The Minister has been criticized very unjustly for his part in developing this world organization. It is regrettable that when members of the Australian Government go abroad to attend international conferences such as those with which we are now dealing, they should be unjustly criticized for the work that they do. There can be differences of opinion on the broad principles of the’ organization, but it is very regrettable that the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) should have suggested that the Minister “ sold the pass “.
– It is true.
– Mere reiteration of the statement proves nothing. The Minister and the Australian delegation did a magnificent job right from the inception of this plan. They stressed the necessity for full employment and higher standards of living throughout the world. The honorable member for Balaclava interjects to say that he agrees with that, but it is useless to agree with propositions unless you do something to implement them. By placing that proposition in the forefront of the world organization
– I did not agree with it.
– If the honorable gentleman says that he does not believe in full employment, I accept his statement. I thought he said that he accepted the need for full employment. If he says that he does not, we know where he stands. By placing those two factors in the forefront of this world organization, the Minister and the Australian delegation drew attention to a situation which creates economic depressions and causes wars. It is because there is underemployment and low standards of living in the countries of the world that we cannot sell the goods that we produce. The Australian delegation did a magnificent job. The charter of the organization, by providing that preferences may be maintained or frozen, whichever is the appropriate word, holds the situation as it is now. By indicating that agreements made between member countries shall apply to all, it provides that there shall lie no discrimination. Such discrimination brings in its train recrimination, ill reeling and a recourse to restricti ve methods, which may lead finally to armed conflict. By stressing the necessity for full employment and higher standards of living throughout the world, Australia is making a contribution, as an advanced country, to the solution of the problems of the underdeveloped countries. Not only are those countries our responsibility in some measure, but if their needs are not attended to in ways such as this, they will present a threat to our future existence as a free nation.
The Internationa] Trade Organization is another of the machinery organizations by which world economy can be improved, standards of living raised and world conflict avoided. I believe that this Government has done something that any Australian Government must also have done under the same circumstances. I do not believe that the platitudes that have been uttered by honorable members opposite about Umpire preference and trade and about Australia standing aloof from this organization would have been uttered if they were occupying the treasury bench. Honorable gentlemen opposite could not have pursued the course that they have suggested if they had been members of the Government responsible to the people of this country. Their tactics may be good opposition politics and may achieve some result, although I do not believe that they will. I think that the Australian people realize clearly that Australia cannot live in a vacuum. They know that if our trade is to bc developed, our standards of living improved and our future welfare safeguarded, we must play our part in world associations such as the International Trade Organization.
– Hae the honorable gentleman never heard of the British Commonwealth of Nations?
– I said earlier in my speech that in the British Commonwealth of Nations we have the spectacle of a group of countries - it is true of one stock - working and living together, discussing their problems and adjusting their differences within such a framework as it is now proposed shall be established on a larger scale. If it is conceded to be » good thing to have such a group of nations working together in that way, surely it is logical to argue that incomparably greater benefits must follow from a similar organization on a larger scale. Outside of the British Commonwealth is the great world in which Britain must sell its goods. Less than 10 per cent, of the American market in any major line of British production would be of much greater benefit to Britain than the markets of all the British Commonwealth of Nations. Britain had to go into the world market to gain the benefit of world trade. I believe that it was not to its interests to become a party to the Ottawa Agreement because, as a result, it lost markets in the world outside that it would otherwise have retained. Britain now requires to sell far more than its pre-war export production even to maintain existing standards of living, and it is, therefore, essential that it should have a large share of markets throughout the world. It cannot obtain those markets if it tries to divert the whole of its trade to the British Commonwealth. This agreement is vital to the future welfare of Britain’s trade, and I believe that it is also vital to Australia’s trade and defence. I believe that the Australian people are demanding that Australia shall play its part in world affairs. I am certain that the narrow view no longer appeals to them, and that it is their wish that, now and in the future, Australia shall play its full part in world affairs. There are, of course, dangers inherent in this organization. Was there ever an organization from which one expected to derive some benefit which did not also involve some risk? Was there ever a bilateral or multilateral agreement made between nations as a result of which Australia might not suffer some disadvantage? If we seek to gain something from a. bargain we must take the risk of losing something. We are now proposing to embark upon a wider scheme of co-operation amongst nations than has ever before been attempted. I believe that it will he good for Australia and the British Empire to do so, and I am sure that it will also be good for the world.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Adermann) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Wheat Industry Stabilization Bill 1948.
Wheat Export Charge Bill 1948.
Wheat Tax (Repeal andRefund) Bill 1948.
Debate resumed from the 30th September (vide page 1066), on motion by Mr. Calwell -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The purpose of this bill is to create a fundamental Australian nationality, an Australian citizenship, and, at the same time, to permit Australian citizens to retain their status as British subjects. The bill recognizes as British subjects persons who are citizens of other countries within the British Commonwealth, and makes special provision for the citizens of Eire who object in principle to being regarded as British subjects. It also makes changes in our nationality laws. For example, it removes the disabilities of married women under existing nationality law and enables them to make their own choice about their national status. Machinery is being provided to permit those who wish to become Australian citizens to acquire such status. The key provision of the bill is contained in clause 7, which reads - (1.) A person, who, under this Act. is an Australian citizen or, by an enactment for the time being in force in a country to which this section applies, is n citizen of that country shall, by virtue of that citizenship, be a British subject. (2.) The countries to which this section applies are the following countries, namely, the United Kingdom and Colonies, Canada, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, Newfoundland, India, Pakistan, Southern Rhodesia and Ceylon.
That clause determines the status of British nationality, and therefore it is upon it that I propose to base my criticism.
In his second-reading speech, ‘ the Minister informed us that the bill is not in any way designed to make an Australian any less a British subject. 1 warn the Minister, the Government, and the people of Australia, that we must take care that, in the process of creating the new, we do not destroy the old, and that in this new-found freedom we do not impetuously impair our allegiance to the Motherland. Nationality legislation, as the Minister pointed out, is a very difficult and complex matter. The honorable gentleman quoted the following decision of the Imperial Conference of 1937:-
It is for each member of the British Commonwealth to decide which persons have with it that definite connexion envisaged in the report on the Operations of Dominion Legis lation, 1929, which would enable it to recognize them as members of its community. It is desirable, however, to secure, as faras possible, uniformity in principle in the determination by each member of the Commonwealth, of the persons being British subjects, to be regarded as members of its community.
It is perfectly clear, therefore, that the basic nationality was still assumed by the 1937 Imperial Conference to be British subject-hood, more commonly known and referred to as the “common code”. The Minister said that the “ common code “ system had, in effect broken down, and that the only means of maintaining the existing common status of British subjects throughout the British Commonwealth was in the concept that citizenship of an individual member of the Commonwealth should carry with it the common status. That is what the bill seeks to give effect to. The forerunner of this bill was the Canadian legislation of 1946, which was followed by similar legislation in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. The Canadian act gave to the people of Canada a fundamental Canadian nationality from which they derived the additional status of British subjects. The Canadian act destroyed the basic status of British nationality and reversed the old situation in which peoples of the nations comprising the British Commonwealth were British subjects first and dominion citizens or subjects as a secondary consideration. In other words, British nationality, which was once the universal title of British citizens everywhere, and the foundation upon which British citizenship everywhere was built, now falls into second place. Hitherto, the operative nationality among Empire countries has been British, which meant what has been referred to as the “open door “ policy for British subjects ; but this policy has gone by the hoard. This legislation, which will be common to the Dominions, can he used to exclude British subjects of one dominion from full rights of citizenship in another dominion. What would he the effect of that on immigrants coming, say, to this country from the United Kingdom? Under the bill a person who is a citizen of the United Kingdom may enter Australia as a British subject, but before he can enjoy full rights and privileges as an Australian citizen, he must make application to be registered as an Australian citizen. If his application is successful he must renounce his United Kingdom citizenship. If he wishes to maintain his citizenship of the United Kingdom, he may remain in Australia only on sufferance as far as full citizenship rights are concerned. Let us compare the appropriate provisions of the United Kingdom legislation with those of the bill now before us. Under the British Nationality Act, the conditions for citizenship by registration are comparatively simple. They are covered by two sub-sections containing a simple provision that an applicant for citizenship by registration shall be ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom or be in Crown service with the United Kingdom Government. Under the Australian legislation applicants for citizenship by registration have to fulfil many more conditions. In fact, there are provisions contained in six clauses of the bill to which they have to conform. The British act provides for a residential period of twelve months, or such shorter period as the Secretary of State may in special circumstances accept. This bill provides lor a period of not less than five years during the eight years immediately preceding the date of application, or for -such shorter period, not being less than twelve months, as the Minister allows. It is interesting to note that the British legislation provides that a citizen of any country mentioned - and I have already named those countries which are common to the bill now before us and the British legislation - “ shall be entitled on making application . . . to be registered as a citizen of the United Kingdom and the colonies “, whilst in the Australian measure the comparable provision is that “ the Minister may, upon application . . . grant a certificate of registration … to a person.” Under the British legislation a citizen of any country has an inherent right to make application to be registered as a citizen of the United Kingdom and the colonies. Under Australian law the Minister is to be empowered to grant full citizenship rights to a member of another Dominion of the United Kingdom within a period of twelve months, but he may insist upon the full period of five years during the eight years immediately preceding the date of application. Under the British legislation a Dominion citizen has a right to become a British citizen upon application. It is interesting to note also that under the British legislation an Australian would have to wait twelve months to take a job under the Crown that was open without any such time lag to citizens of the United Kingdom and the colonies. This is quite obviously an anomaly which will have to be adjusted. Honorable members will note that whereas citizens of colonies, such as the West Indies or Malta, are automatically citizens of the United Kingdom, a person from the Dominions, say from Australia, may have to wait for a period of twelve months before he can obtain the full rights and privileges of British citizenship. Conversely a citizen of the United Kingdom or the colonies would have to wait at least twelve months before obtaining Australian citizenship. I warn the country that this bill does nothing to draw tighter the bonds of Empire relationship. That is particularly important when we consider the trend of world affairs today. We are drifting further and further apart in outlook from the Mother Country, and it appears to me that we are veering more and more towards a policy of isolationism. We are destroying British preferential trade and the British Commonwealth of Nations. I propose to make some remarks on that aspect in a moment or two. The practical results of this drift towards the isolation of Australia will be destructive, not only of Australia but also of the Empire itself. Let us consider its effect upon trade, for instance. Mutual trade preferences within the Empire have been maintained for many years. They have been recognized by foreign countries as a legitimate exception to our mostfavourednation obligations, but only because those countries accepted the fact that there was a firm and close relation between all British Empire countries. Only that fact has saved inter-Empire trade. With the destruction of the “ common code “, what would be our position in the eyes of those foreign countries? It is true that the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the Havana Charter have gone a long way towards the destruction of Empire trade. It is true that they may well result in the liquidation of the British Empire. All of those things dovetail closely into the isolationist or separationist view with regard to the Empire. The foreign nations with which we have negotiated trade treaties would be entitled to ask whether we speak with a common voice or as separate entities, each with its own individual basic citizenship. If we divide the Empire, and fail to speak with one voice even in relation to trade, we weaken the whole structure of Empire relations. How can we hope to maintain the same close relationship as in the past if the Empire is to consist of a number of countries all having different external associations, and merely consulting formally with one another, without being imbued with the old sentiment which bound them together? Under the new law relating to citizenship will our allegiance to the Crown he weakened ? The point is important because that allegiance in the past has been of the very essence of Empire relationship. In his second-reading speech, the Minister said -
The step represented bil this legislation is the logical and inevitable consequence of successive imperial conferences that culminated iti the Statute of Westminster.
The Statute of Westminster established all the Dominions of the Empire, and Britain itself, as equal partners, independent of one another j but joined in a legal sense by allegiance to the Crown. I remind the Minister that there occurred in Australia recently an event which tended to weaken our allegiance to the Crown. The Constitution provides that the Governor-General shall be the representative of the King appointed at the pleasure of the King. The present GovernorGeneral, let me say with great respect, and with no personal feelings-
-Order! The honorable member knows the Standing Orders. He may not say anything which reflects upon the Governor-General.
– I merely propose to quote from a speech by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), who said that the King had been given no choice in the matter in the appointment of a GovernorGeneral because the gentleman concerned had been nominated by the Australian Government. That emphasizes the present drift from the principle of allegiance to the Crown, which may receive impetus from the new provision relating to citizenship which is to replace the old concept that we were all subjects of the Crown. If the Empire is to regain its place among the nations, Empire countries must strengthen their bonds by speaking with one voice in international affairs. We should not seek to break the ties which formerly bound together the countries of the Empire. In the future, consultations between the countries of the Empire should be more, rather than less, frequent, and there should be an increasing willingness to pool our resources in the interests of Empire development. In his second-reading speech, the Minister said that, in 1945, the Government had considered legislation to provide for legal Australian citizenship, but had deferred the matte- pending the passage of legislation by Canada. After that legislation had been passed, he said, a conference of nationality experts was convened in 1947 to discuss a draft scheme prepared by the Government of the United Kingdom. I should like to know who those experts were, and I am sure that the people of Australia would like to know, also. Was their report ever published? I have no knowledge of it, and I doubt whether . any other honorable member has seen the report presented by those gentlemen who deliberated on the liquidation of the British Empire. “Whence did they obtain their authority to act? This Parliament was not consulted, nor were the people of Australia. Neither were the people consulted on the recent decision to delete the word “ British “ from the phrase “ British Commonwealth “. ‘ The suggestion to drop the word “ British “ came first from a press observation that, in the final communique of the recent conference of Dominion Premiers, the word “ Commonwealth “ appeared sixteen times without the prefix “ British “. It was further observed that, in the same communique, the initials-“ H.M. “ were omitted before the reference to the Government of Ceylon. Protests were made almost immediately by the Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, Mr. Churchill, and by the Leader of the Opposition in the Australian Parliament (Mr. Menzies), who was then in New York. It is interesting to note what Mr. Churchill had to say, because no one is better qualified than he is to speak on behalf of the British people. Speaking on the 28th October, 1948, in the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, he said -
The Statute of Westminster swept away constitutional safeguards which seemed to cramp the freedom and independence of great self-governing Dominions. The Empire then relied solely upon the link with the Crown for its unity and cohesion. Now we are being asked to consider the abandonment of that sole remaining .symbol. The words “ Empire “, “ Dominion “ and “ British “, which hitherto have claimed many loyalties, have associated with them well-known conceptions.
Apparently the Socialist Government wishes to direct us into channels in which these words will bc heard no more, or as little as possible. Indeed, I wonder that the word “ Commonwealth “ satisfies the requirements of Socialist statesmen.
The Leader of the Opposition in the Australian Parliament pointed out that Empire politicians had no authority from their people to decide to omit the word “British” from the title “British Commonwealth “. He said that the destruction of the idea of Commonwealth allegiance to the Crown would be violently resented and resisted by millions of the King’s loyal subjects.
– All this has nothing to do with the bill.
– It has a great deal to do with it, because this bill reflects the views of separatists, and is directed towards the liquidation of the British Empire. The bill would destroy the principle of a common British citizenship, so that a British citizen arriving in Australia must apply to the Minister for Immigration for registration as an Australian citizen. Conversely, an . Australian who goes to the United Kingdom cannot enjoy full rights of citizenship in that country until he registers. As was pointed out by Sir Maxwell Fyfe in the House of Commons, no Australian who goes to the United Kingdom will be eligible for appointment to a job which was open only to citizens of Britain and the colonies until after he had resided in the country for twelve months, whereas a Maltese or a West Indian will be eligible immediately upon his arrival. A British citizen who comes to Australia will lose the benefit of his British citizenship, and it will depend upon the goodwill of the Minister for Immigration in Australia, whether, during the first twelve months after his arrival, he will enjoy the benefits of Australian citizenship. The fact is that Canada has forced the hands of Britain and of the other Dominions. This matter which is of the greatest importance to the Empire, was considered by a conference of nationality experts who have not been named. They conferred in secret, and their report has not been published. The people of the Empire knew nothing of their deliberations until the pass was sold. We know of Canada’s racial problem, but we in Australia have no similar problems.
Let us now consider the position of Eire. This bill recognizes, as does the British act, that citizens of Eire are not now British subjects, since the Parliament of Eire has repealed all the laws relating to British nationality. Under this bill, the citizens of Eire may claim to remain British subjects, and may acquire Australian citizenship, but those who do not claim British status are in a unique position in the Empire. I know that there is a reciprocal arrangement by which a British subject may attain full citizenship rights in Eire. Until this bill, citizens of Eire are not to be regarded as aliens, but will occupy an intermediate position between British subjects and aliens. However, more recent developments in Eire may cause the Government to amend this legislation drastically.
– And may cause the British Government to do so.
– It may cause the British Government drastically to amend its legislation. The British Government is contemplating action which may have a vital effect upon certain clauses of the bill. It will not be opportune, at the moment, to make any further observations about that matter, in view of the discussions which are now proceeding between the representatives of Eire and the Dominions on the Irish proposal to secede from the British Commonwealth. However, the fact remains that if the Dail passes the legislation now before it, Eire will sever the last link with the British Crown, and that action will have repercussions throughout the British Commonwealth, and will necessitate the amendment of this proposed act.
I have referred to Canada’s racial problems. We in Australia have no such problems. We are essentially British. We take pride in the fact that 9 6. per cent, of our people are of British stock. Why should we be forced, as an essentially British community, to tail along with Canada? Certain parts of the Empire should have the right to determine the closeness of their association with other parts of the Empire. If it is necessary for one dominion, because of certain problems within its border, to sever a link of the chain which binds it to the Empire, there is no need for an essentially British community like Australia to follow suit before the people signify their desire to do so.
– That sentiment will not be appreciated in Canada.
– The Minister may l>e concerned purely with placating sentiment in Canada, but I am concerned about the sentiment in Australia. Australians will resent this attempt to de prive them of British subject-hood. They have not had an opportunity to express their views on this proposed change.
– We are not depriving Australians of their British subject-hood.
– The Minister’s statement is a play on words. It is quite true that Australians may still refer to themselves as British subjects, but an Australian will not be able to go to England and obtain United Kingdom citizenship by right. He will have to apply to become a British citizen. A citizen of the United Kingdom will not be able to come to Australia and obtain Australian citizenship by right when this bill hecomes law. He will have to apply to be called an Australian citizen. So the Min.ister is indulging in a mere play on words. The honorable gentleman has stated that this bill is the logical development of the Statute of Westminster. T remind him that the Statue of Westminster was enacted after a series of Imperial conferences, but the proposals in this bill have not been discussed at even one Imperial conference. Honorable members should ask themselves whether the Government has obtained a mandate from the people to effect the change. The subject was discussed, not at an Imperial conference, but at a conference of experts on nationality, who are nameless, who conferred in secret, and who reached the decision to bind the people to a change of nationality. The people have not been given an opportunity to express their views on the matter. The Government has not obtained a mandate to introduce this new concept of dominion citizenship, and sever the crimson thread of kinship which formerly bound Australia to other parts of the British Empire. The Government did not obtain a mandate from the people to nationalize banking, but the violent reaction of the people left, it in no doubt as to their views about its intentions. This bill will not change our economic way of life, but it will change our basic nationality and citizenship. Public opinion in Australia, notwithstanding what the Government may think, is staunchly British, as has been demonstrated by the number of volunteers from this country in two world wars in which Great Britain was directly threatened. The Government has lost touch with the feeling of the people. It has misjudged them in relation to Empire affairs. There is little doubt in my mind about the reason for the introduction of this legislation. For some time, members of the Opposition have been pressing the Government to give them an opportunity to debate its foreign policy.
– Order ! I ask the Acting Leader of the Opposition to relate his remarks to the bill.
– I am making only a passing reference to the request by the Opposition for an opportunity to debate the Government’s foreign policy. The Prime Minister has not permitted that debate. In such circumstances, how can we, as the representatives of the people, express their views on the march of world affairs? The Government should have consulted the people about the change of nationality.
I shall now refer to another vital matter upon which the new dominion citizenship will have an important bearing. Should Great Britain again be engaged in war, and that is not beyond the bounds of possibility in these uncertain days, some persons in the community may hold the view that dominion citizenship gives them the right to remain neutral. One dominion may decide to take a neutral stand when another dominion is involved in war. The dominions will be separate entities. “We shall have the right to decide, as Australian citizens, where Australia shall fight. No longer will we be linked by a common bond with other dominions. No longer will the common code of Empire relationship exist. We may well ask whether the’ new status will weaken and perhaps destroy all that the British Empire stands for. All those matters have real implications when we realize that the old basic nationality of British subject-hood is to become merely a formal indication of our allegiance to the Empire.
The reasons given for the introduction of the citizenship legislation in the United Kingdom Parliament have an important bearing upon the enactment of the Nationality and Citizenship Bill in this Parliament. The Home Secretary, Mr. Chuter Ede, told the House of Com mons that the measure was intended to conciliate those sections of the Commonwealth which were least enthusiastic in their allegiance to the Crown. He added -
India, Pakistan and Ceylon are now dominions within the Commonwealth, and peoples there find “subject” rather difficult to reconcile with the grant of nationhood; also it suggests to them a subject race. Persons of Dutch descent in South Africa and of French descent in Canada may also prefer to call themselves Commonwealth citizens.
– That is quite understandable.
– It is quite understandable because those countries have racial problems, but it is not understandable in Australia, which is essentially British. The words of the British Home Secretary are significant, because they reveal that the new citizenship legislation, precipitated by the action of Canada and later adopted by the United Kingdom and New Zealand, is separatist in nature. It is being enacted in order to placate certain dominions whose sentiments towards Great Britain and the Empire are not those of the great majority of, Australians. In the turn of world events to-day, Great Britain needs the assistance of the Dominions to a greater degree now than ever before in order to regain its position as a great Power. It is most important that the members of Britain’s Empire family be drawn closer to it. The Empire should not be disintegrated. The new citizenship legislation may well give an impetus to a secession movement in some dominions, where sentiments towards the Mother Country are undergoing a change.
– They are pulling down the Union Jack.
– Had the subject, of uniform nationality legislation been discussed by dominion conferences on a round-table basis, the enactment which the Dominions arc now adopting may have taken a different and less separationist form. However, the number of dominion conferences in the post-war years has decreased compared with the number in pre-war years. I have spoken at some length on this bill. It is a complex measure. Honorable members are faced with a fait accompli. The United Kingdom has already introduced similar legislation which will destroy the common code.
– The United Kingdom Parliament has enacted the legislation.
– The common code, then, has been destroyed. The Government deserves criticism because it has not referred this proposal to the Australian people, who have not had an opportunity to protest against the change of citizenship. “We know what Mr. Churchill has said about the aims of the socialist government in the United Kingdom, and I am strongly suspicious that British Ministers had a hand in ensuring the introduction of this legislation in this Parliament. When we peruse the bill, we realize that it is a part of a plan - a sinister plan - to liquidate the British Empire. Once this legislation becomes law, the name “ British Commonwealth of Nations “ will be changed to “ Commonwealth of Nations “. That alteration, in itself, is significant. The next step is not far distant. We have proceeded a long way towards the achievement of the separationist objective. I wonder what the people of Australia will say about the matter. The Government will not avoid responsibility by claiming that it has itself been confronted with a fail accompli. The Minister has said that there was a conference of nationality experts. The people have the right to know who they were and whether Australia was represented.
– I gave the names to the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale).
– The Minister may have done so, but will he give the report of the conference to the people of Australia? He is silent.
– The bill is the report.
– .The bill is not the report. Does the Minister tell me that the nationality experts of other countries have drafted this legislation for him? I should like him to be more specific. He cannot have it both ways. If the .bill is the report of the conference of experts and we have allowed a. secret, conclave to take from us our British citizenship, little credit is reflected on the Government. Other honorable members on this side will doubtless deal with other provisions of the bill that hurt our feelings. My concluding thought is that the Australian Labour Government ought to have taken the lead in encouraging more frequent meetings of dominion representatives at which the Dominions could air their problems so that there should be a firm and unified stand behind Great Britain instead of this dangerous drift in our Empire relations. But, instead of standing behind the Empire in matters of grave concern, Australia’s representative is trying to frustrate the desire of the Englishspeaking people to maintain their democratic standards.
.- The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) has dealt in untruths. He said that the bill altered the situation that existed before the war and that, until it was introduced, British subjecthood automatically conferred on people who come to Australia the full rights of Australian citizenship. That statement is completely untrue. Australian citizenship is not automatically conferred on British subjects. The dishonesty of that statement is immediately apparent when I point out that a Chinese from Hongkong is a British subject, a Chinese from Malaya is a British subject, and an Indian is a British subject, but none of them have ever been accorded the rights of Australian citizenship by previous legislation or practice of Australia.
– But citizenship of the United Kingdom is citizenship of Australia.
– Order ! I shall name the Acting Leader of the Opposition if he interrupts again. He was heard in comparative silence. The honorable member for Fremantle is entitled to equal courtesy.
– Before this legislation was introduced, coloured British subjects were excluded from Australian citizenship hy practice, and there has been no political dispute about that practice. This bill confers the legal qualification of Australian citizenship on Australians. Their status as British subjects remains unchanged. The Acting Leader of the Opposition was subtle. He compared the British legislation and this bill and suggested that some of the features df the British act that he disapproved of wore included in this legislation. He pointed out that the British act confers on the subject of any British dominion the right of becoming a citizen of the United Kingdom. That is true. An Indian who takes up residence in England is a citizen of the United Kingdom. There is no racial discrimination in the concept of British nationality or citizenship of the United Kingdom as far as the British Government is concerned, but I doubt whether any honorable member would say that Australia should follow suit. The Acting Leader of the Opposition suggested several times that this qualification of the rights of British citizens was something for which South Africans or Canadians were responsible. We are as responsible for the qualification, in legislation and practice, of the rights of British subjects of whom we racially disapprove, as is any other British dominion. The fact that Indians are British subjects has never conferred on Indians in South Africa any rights, and their position is worse under the present Government of that dominion than it was before. That is equally true of other British dominions. So, this bill, in acknowledging a commo’n British subjecthood and in adding the qualification of a separate Australian citizenship, corresponds with the realities of practice in Australia since federation. “We have never admitted since then that British subjecthood automatically confers upon people Australian citizenship. The contentions of the Acting Leader of the Opposition, which were consistently based on the false assumption that we have done so, would, if believed, be gravely misleading to the people of this country. The honorable gentleman referred to the British legislation. He said that it had been introduced by a socialist government and was designed to liquidate the Empire. He quoted Mr. Churchill in that respect. Mr. Churchill was Prime Minister of Great Britain during the wa.r. “When Japan threatened India, he sent Sir Stafford Cripps there to negotiate with the Indian leaders in an endeavour to obtain their utmost support. He offered the Indian people complete dominion status. Sir Stafford Cripps is an important member of the present British Cabinet. Mr. Churchill’s offer to India of dominion status was, of course, a complete change in his attitude. He had characterized the India Act of 1935, which was a most moderate act in comparison with the act that conferred dominion status on India, as a dangerous concession. Yet he sent Sir Stafford Cripps to India with an offer of dominion status. That meant that India was to be equal and in no way subordinate to the United Kingdom in its internal and external policies. One member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, Eire, using the fact that dominion status gave it complete equality with the United Kingdom, resolved to remain neutral in the war. South Africa entered the war by 80 votes to 67. lt acted upon the complete autonomous power given to it in the Status Act 1935. In that act, it took unto itself more power than any other dominion has taken. Had a few members of the South African Parliament taken an opposite view, South Africa would have remained as neutral as Eire during the war. The suggestion of the Acting Leader of the Opposition that this legal definition of a separate citizenship for all the Dominions, which has been a reality for a long time, confers upon them the right of neutrality, is untrue, because that right existed before and .was implicit in the full equality of the Dominions as self-governing countries. In his speech, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that this step was a concession to Canada. I do not suppose a more farcical statement could ever be made than to suggest that Canada has taken the initiative, in the last couple of years, in ensuring the widest interpretation of the complete equality and freedom of the member countries of the British Commonwealth. The honorable gentleman also mentioned, in passing, India. Pakistan and Ceylon, but implied that Canada was taking the lead. He said that the dominion premiers had no mandate from their peoples to decide on this step. Both Nehru, the Premier of India, and the Premier of Pakistan, have to contend with powerful elements in their countries who want to leave the British Empire altogether. I am grateful to them for what they have done and are doing to keep India and Pakistan within the British Commonwealth and at the same time convince their people that membership of it does not in any way mean subordination to Britain. Speeches like that of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition about a common allegiance to the Crown and disloyalty are more likely to lead to the withdrawal of India and Pakistan from the British Commonwealth than to help them to remain in it. The honorable gentleman managed to drag in an alleged attempt to destroy British trade preference as a part of a socialistic plot. What are the economic circumstances of Great Britain to-day? That country has been lent billions of dollars by the United States of America. Can it be argued that the purpose of that loan is to erect tariff barriers to keep out of Britain the goods that America wishes Britain to buy? That shows the economic unreality of the Acting Leader of the Opposition. Before the war Britain was a creditor nation with investments abroad and a controlling interest in many countries that enabled the Ottawa Agreement to be an instrument of reality. The war destroyed that situation. The modifications of imperial preference would have taken place irrespective of whether the British Government had been Conservative, Liberal - and I differentiate between the British Liberals and those who masquerade under that name in Australia - or socialist or Labour.
In his remarks concerning some of the other dominions, the honorable gentleman suggested that because we are entirely British we should not now be considering legislation, to define citizenship. The United Kingdom Government introduced a measure which excludes us from the automatic right of United Kingdom citizenship if we go to that country. He said that that was quite incorrect because, for example, Maltese and West Indians had that automatic right. I think that that enactment of the United Kingdom Parliament is completely correct. The Government of the United Kingdom is directly responsible for what takes place in the West Indies, Malta, the British East African colonies, the British South American colonies and elsewhere in what we know as the dependent Empire. This hill is a legal recognition of reality. Between the two world wars, the British Empire evolved into two empires, that is, the British Commonwealth of Nations and the dependent Empire. I believe it is now evolving into an association of three empires. The first is the dependent Empire. The second is the Empire ‘ composed of dominions such as Australia and New Zealand, which favour a complete attachment to the United Kingdom. The third is the Empire composed of dominions such as Canada, where there is a large French-Canadian element that does not desire some of the attributes of British citizenship which the FrenchCanadians may, in their own minds, equate with subordination. The present Prime Minister of Canada, M. St. Laurent, can be trusted to look after their sensibilities in that regard. The views of South Africa have yet to he ascertained. The Government in power there is a coalition of the Nationalist party and Afrikaan party, which are formally committed to the establishment of a South African republic, although I think it is extremely unlikely that they will proceed to do so. The last election returns show that they have not the support of the majority of the South African people, although the nature of South African constituencies is such that they have a majority in the legislature. However, they represent the Afrikaan.Nationalist point of view, which insists that the status of British subjecthood shall have * an alternative qualification of South African citizenship associated with it. In fact, the South African Status Act of 1935 went far towards achieving that state of affairs. There are all these points of view within the Empire. I regret that it is the practice in Australian schools, in teaching imperial relations, completely to falsify the situation that exists in the Empire. With regard to the South Africans, for instance, it is represented to the Australian children that we fought them, gave them their liberty, and that now t hey love us. That is the teaching in our schools, and our people encounter a series of horrible shocks when reality breaks in periodically during wars or elections. In enacting its citizenship law and asking the Dominions to enact parallel citizenship laws, the British Government was coping with the reality that Afrikaans, French-Canadians and citizens of Pakistan and India do not wish British citizenship to imply subordination. To suggest that we should support a policy of refusing to make any concessions to the sensibilities of other people living within the British Commonwealth of Nations is to suggest that the Australian Government should be a party to trampling upon those sensibilities. Such a policy would be more. destructive of the Imperial association than any other policy that I can imagine.- This Government is not to .be indicted for the fact that there is a demand by many of the peoples of the British Empire for a clear definition of Dominion status and for legal enactments that do not imply their subordination. This measure, by adding the qualification of Australian citizenship to our British nationality, will assist in maintaining the Imperial association. It is also a piece of legislation corresponding with the reality of our practice in the past. “We have never permitted the British subjecthood of many of the peoples of the Empire to give them automatic Australian citizenship. The Minister is to he congratulated upon bringing down this legislation, which is parallel to the act that has been passed by the British Parliament.
– I call the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony).
– I desire to speak on behalf of the Australian Country party.
– The honorable member for Richmond rose first.
– May I, on a point of order- -
– Order ! The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) was slow to rise. The honorable member for Richmond rose first, and I’ called him.
– May I defer my remarks until later?
– The call, is entirely in the hands of the Chair.
– May I speak to a point of order?
– There it no point of order in relation to the call. It rests entirely with the Chair.
– There is a point in relation to party leadership.
– There is no point of order.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker - -
– Order !
– Will you hear me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on a point of order ?
– I am prepared to listen to the point of order
– For as long as there have been three - parties in this House, there has been a very well established custom. It is that the call on motions affecting legislation goes first to the Minister who is to state the Government’s case. On the Opposition side, it goes first to the Leader of the Opposition or to his nominee or appointed substitute, and, secondly, to the Leader of the Australian Country party or to his appointed substitute. It is known that I am the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party, appointed to that position by my party. By arrangement with my leader, and in pursuance of an understanding with the Government, I rose to. take the call for the Australian Country party. I claim that, by ancient practice and the well-established custom of this House, I am entitled to the call in that capacity.
– I think I should make this matter clear. The procedure in regard to the call is that it goes first to the Government side of the House and then to the Opposition side. On the Government side, the Prime Minister and other Ministers have priority. The Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Australian Country party are the only two members of the Opposition who have any priority in obtaining the call. The honorable member for Indi has to take his chance with other honorable members at question time or any other time. He cannot claim to be leading the Australian Country party to-night, because the Leader of that party (Mr. Fadden), is now sitting next to him, and is in charge of the party. Had that right honorable gentleman risen, I should have called him. I have called the honorable member for Richmond. If he desires to ask for leave to defer his remarks. I am prepared to ask the approval of the House to that course. If leave is granted, he may defer his remarks.
– I support the remarks that have been made by the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party. If the House agrees, and if you, sir, will grant me the call at a later stage, I shall be pleased to give way to the honorable gentleman.
– It is for the House to decide.
– I arranged this with the Minister.
– And the Minister arranged it with me.
– Order ! “There need be no squabbling over this matter. The Chair is in complete control of the call. I called the honorable mem- ber for Richmond because he rose first. The honorable member for Indi has no priority over the honorable member for Richmond in obtaining the call. If the honorable member for Richmond asks for leave to defer his remarks and leave is not granted, he must continue with his speech. If one honorable members objects, he will not be allowed to defer his remarks.
– I rose in the normal course of events to register myself as desiring to speak on this bill. I now ask for leave to defer my remarks until after the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party has spoken.
– Is leave : granted ?
– As leave to defer my remarks is not granted, I shall proceed with them.
– I want there to be no misunderstanding about this matter, because the proceedings of the House are being broadcast. There was probably some arrangement between the Minister and the Acting Leader of the Opposition in relation to the call.
– That is quite true.
– The Chair had not been requested to call honorable members in any order. When I took the Chair to-night, I did not know in what order business was to come before the House until the order of the day was read by the Clerk. The adjournment of this debate had been secured by thu Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Earrison), and the honorable gentleman received the call. Following that, I called honorable members in the order in which I saw them rise.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker - -
– There is no point of order.
– I ask for leave to make a short statement. I made an arrangement with the consent of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), with the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), that the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. McEwen) should be given the call early. I regret that it has been refused to him. and I ask whether you will submit the question again for the determination of the House.
– The matter has already been referred to the House. I ask the honorable member for Richmond to proceed with his remarks.
.- I accept your ruling, sir. and the decision of the House on this matter. I wish first of all to voice my disagreement with the sentiments that were expressed by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). The honorable gentleman emphasized how little, in his opinion. British citizenship meant. He drew attention to the fact that residents of Hong Kong, Pakistan and India, although they were British citizens under the old order, were not so regarded under Australian law. There is one fact which’ the honorable gentleman completely ignored. Although for many years a distinction has been made between
Asiatics and others, who enjoy British citizenship, until this bill was introduced there has never been a line drawn between Australians and people horn in Great Britain who are British subjects by virtue of their United Kingdom nationality. In the future if such persons come to Australia, they will be denied Australian citizenship until they have been here for a specified period of time. That vital matter was completely ignored by the honorable member for Fremantle. The honorable member spoke disparagingly of the achievements of the British Commonwealth of Nations-
– He did no such thing. Ananias was a gentleman compared with the honorable member.
– Order ! The honourable member for Richmond must not invite interjections. He must address himself to the bill. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture must cease interrupting.
– I am here at your pleasure, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and the pleasure of the House. The honorable member for Fremantle made disparaging remarks about the value of British citizenship and the virtue of the British Empire as an entity.
– That is incorrect.
– I direct the attention of the House to the remarks made by the honorable member for Fremantle. The honorable member said that in Australian schools it had been taught that the concessions which Great Britain had generously conceded to South Africa led to harmony in the British Empire. In the two world wars South Africa, by the sacrifice of tens of thousands of its citizens on the battlefields of Europe and Africa and in other theatres of war identified itself with the British Commonwealth of Nations and showed that it appreciated the value of its association with the British Commonwealth. The disparaging remarks of the honorable member for Fremantle have no relation to the facts as we know them. It is true that different problems have to be faced by each of the Dominions comprising the British Commonwealth of Nations. Canada has a problem of its own. It. has a very large population of
French extraction. I do not know the exact number but at least I know that they represent a substantial portion of the population of that dominion. Canada must devise methods to deal with the problem presented by those people. The same state of affairs exists in South Africa where there is a substantial Boer population. But in Australia there are no circumstances to warrant the Minister and the Government introducing such a measure as this one. I believe they have been incited to do so by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), who, ever since he has occupied that office has sought to bring about the dismemberment of the British Empire. Is there anything, other than the policy so relentlessly pursued by the Minister for External Affairs and by this Government, that warrants the presentation of this measure to the House? The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) said that the Statute of Westminster made separate British nationality necessary. I point out that when the Minister for External Affairs presented a bill to this House to ratify the Statute of Westminster, which in my view brought about the gradual disintegration of the British Empire, I registered my protest against it and I supported my protest with my vote. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) was, I think, one of the few honorable members on this side of the House who supported me at that time. Although a good many members of this side of the chamber supported that bill, I opposed it, and I take the same stand to-day.
I compliment the Minister for Immigration upon the way in which he has presented his case for this bill. I also compliment him upon the admirable documentary evidence which he has placed in the hands of all honorable members so that they may be properly informed on thesubject; but beyond that I do not go. I do not agree with his conclusions, nor do I agree with the policy of his Government, or with that of its counterpart in Great Britain, the sole object of which, appears to be to shatter the British Commonwealth of Nations into fragments. The former Prime Minister of Great. Britain, the right honorable WinstonChurchill, the man who led the civilized’
Nations through the war, said during the war that, as the Prime Minister of Great Britain, he would not bring about the liquidation of the British Empire. Let us consider the announcement in the light of the statement made a week or two ago by Sir Stafford Cripps, once a Minister in the Churchill Government, that the policy of the present Government of the United Kingdom, of which he is now a member, is to bring about the liquidation of the British Empire. This bill is a step in that direction. Under its provisions a Britisher who comes to Australia, whether he be born in Manchester, London or Edinburgh, will have to wait an extended period - it may be twelve months or, at the pleasure of the Minister, it may be five years - before he may acquire Australian nationality. Such a Britisher who comes to Australia before this bill is passed may acquire Australian citizenship immediately. If this bill be passed such a person may have to wait for a protracted period, just as any alien would have to wait, in order to obtain full Australian citizenship rights. Notwithstanding the great work done overseas by the Minister for External Affairs, and the fact that the right honorable gentleman has been elevated to the position of President of the United Nations General Assembly, I say that the people of Australia value the British Commonwealth of Nations far more than they do the United Nations. As a people 96 per cent. British, one of our objectives is to retain our identity with the British Commonwealth of Nations’ and the United Kingdom. This bill, smirchy and insidious as it may be, is unnecessary. Not any of the arguments that can be advanced in favour of a separate nationality in the parliaments of Pakistan or South Africa, or in any other parliament, have any application to a country like our own. There is no necessity for this legislation, nor is there necessity for the Government to diminish the value of British citizenship by a bill such as this is. Therefore, in spite of the eloquence of the Minister’ for Immigration and of his cohorts, including the honorable member for Fremantle, who spoke in disparaging terms of the British Empire, I oppose the measure. This country has developed during the last 150 years, solely because of its association with Great Britain and with the other Dominions.
I turn now to other factors in this bill. It contains many inconsistencies. Although it treats the peoples of certain other nations on a discriminatory basis, it proposes to offer favorable treatment to the residents of Eire. The citizens of Eire are to be regarded ipso facto as British citizens, in spite of the fact that an act has already been passed by the Parliament of Eire dissociating that country from the British Empire, and proclaiming its complete and absolute independence. In the bill now before us no cognizance is taken of the effects of that act. By interjection during the speech of the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison), the Minister claimed that the United Kingdom Government had made similar discriminatory arrangements.
– That is so. We followed the lead of Great Britain.
– If such reciprocal arrangements were made between the United Kingdom Government and the Government of Eire, nothing was said of them in the second-reading speech of the Minister, and there is nothing in this bill to indicate what those reciprocal arrangements were. In this case, it is to be a one-way traffic. Australia is to open its door, but the door of Eire is to be closed against Australians.
– We can make such arrangements under the provisions of this bill. In any case, not many Australians go to Eire. The traffic is all one way.
– I should have thought that any arrangements of that kind would have been clearly indicated cither in the bill or in the Minister’s second-reading speech.
– They may be made under this bill as it is at present drafted.
– They may be made now or at some future time, or they may never be made. This bill proposes to discriminate against people born in the United Kingdom who may be called upon to reside in Australia for a long period before they may acquire Australian citizenship. Does the Minister deny that? He cannot do so because the bill vests in him ,power to determine the qualifying period of residence before a newcomer may acquire Australian citizenship.
– Order! The Minister will not be allowed to admit or deny anything until he closes the debate.
– I address these questions to the Minister so that he may reply to them when he closes the debate.
– The honorable member must not provoke unnecessary interjections.
– I gather, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, that the honorable member is addressing me interrogatively.
– I am addressing interrogatively not only the Minister but also the House. We desire much more information about this bill than we have yet received. The Acting Leader of the Opposition dealt comprehensively with the bill. It is not one that calls for a long debate. In essentials it is a simple measure. It means that the old order has passed. Under the old order a citizen of Australia was, ipso facto, a citizen of Great Britain ; and a migrant from Great Britain to Australia was immediately granted Australian citizenship. All’ that has gone, and henceforth the migrant from Great Britain will be, to all intents and purposes, a foreigner in Australia, so far as Australian nationality is concerned. What we should ask ourselves is, how far does all this advance the interests of Australia? What does it do to cement the bonds of Empire? How does it make for that unity of purpose among British peoples which we have always regarded as advantageous to us? The -effect of this legislation will simply be to break the Empire into separate parts. It is, of course, fully in line with the policy of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, who is far more concerned over his association with an organization which includes Argentina, Trinidad, and other such countries, than with the fact that he is a citizen of an Empire which, in two world wars, proved to he the bulwark of civilization. It is all very well for the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) to tell us what Canada and South Africa have done. Anything which those countries have done has been dictated by local circumstances which do not apply to Australia. This Government has given evidence of an undercurrent of feeling which, causes it to seek to get free of Great Britain at the first opportunity. That feeling found expression first in the Statute of Westminster, and now it finds it in the present bill. I associate myself with the contention of the Acting Leader of the Opposition that this bill is unnecessary. It is merely an expression of the passion of this Government to act as if Australia were a great power, when, in truth, we are a nation of 7,000,000 who rely for our security upon the goodwill of powerful and friendly neighbours such as the other members of the British Empire, and of the United States of America. This is a measure which the Parliament could well do without. Its proper place is the wastepaper basket.
.- The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) made a characteristic and deplorable speech. It is as well that his speech has no particular significance here and it is very fortunate that it will have no significance abroad. The friendly relations between the component parts of the British Commonwealth of Nations might be affected adversely by the kind of talk we have heard from him, .and from the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison). The honorable member was good enough to congratulate the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) upon circulating a number of papers dealing with the subject under discussion, hut it is to be regretted that the honorable member himself obviously did not take the trouble to read the papers. Had he done so, he would not have made such a dangerous and misleading speech. The honorable member spoke of the Statute of Westminster as if it had been recently passed by the present Parliament. He appears incapable of understanding that it was an act of the British Parliament. In recent years, some sections of that statute have been adopted by the Australian Parliament, and made applicable to Australia. The honorable member for Richmond and the Acting Leader of the Opposition seemed to regret deeply that the Statute of Westminister had ever been passed at all, and they tended to blame the present Australian Government and the present Government of the United Kingdom for it. They overlooked the fact that the Statute of Westminster was founded on the Balfour Declaration, which read, in part -
The Statute of Westminster is a declaratory statute. It puts into statute form something which has come into existence by evolution. It declares the custom unci the law. Honorable members opposite should not reveal their ignorance of lie effect of the statute. The honorable member for Richmond said sneeringly that the Minister for Immigration had stated that the bill was the logical sequel, to the Statute of Westminster. Well, the Minister has high authority for saying so, if he needed any authority. The same point was conceded by every speaker who took part in the debate on the Nationality Bill in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. For instance, Sir Hartley Shawcross, a brilliant lawyer, who is Attorney-General in the Attlee Government, said-
Subsequently, the whole system started to break down. After the Statute of Westminster in 1.931, the preservation ot the common status depended upon agreement among the different Commonwealth countries and upon their all continuing to march in step; but they did not march in step. In 1933, the Parliament of New Zealand and the Parliament of Australia enacted that women marrying aliens might retain the right to be treated as British subjects in those Commonwealth countries, although, according to the ordinary law’ in the United Kingdom, they would then become n liens. In 1935, both countries passed further statutes dealing with the same kind of problem. Again, in 1933] as the right honorable gentleman pointed out, the Parliament of Eire passed a statute which created an entirely separate law as to nationality. In 1937, at the Imperial Conference, General Hertzog expressed strongly the view, on behalf of South Africa that some term other than that of British subject ought to be found to define the common status. Then, in 1945, the Government of Canada intimated to us their intention to pass an entirely new nationality law.
The Attorney-General in the Government of the United Kingdom was asked what he had done when informed by Canada that it intended to pass a nationality bill of its own. He said that inquiries had been made about whether the matter could be delayed, but eventually Canada took the bit in its teeth, as it were, and the act was passed. After that there were further conferences between representatives of the member States of the British Commonwealth. It was obvious to those who attended the conference that the common code, as it has been called, was already shattered. It was obvious that, in order to strengthen the bonds of friendship existing between the member States, there should be a nationality law which would be applicable, if possible, to all Empire countries. The Prime Ministers, meeting in London, agreed that the subject was a highly technical one, and they referred it to experts representing all the countries of the British Commonwealth, who devised the machinery which was eventually accepted by the various Empire governments. Last year, the British Parliament passed a new nationality act, which became a model for other countries of the British Commonwealth. Now, similar legislation is in force in Great Britain, Canada, and New Zealand, and will shortly be in force in Australia. The idea is to achieve as great a degree of uniformity as possible. When a person arrives in Australia from Great Britain, he will lose none of the advantages of his British citizenship whether or not he registers as an Australian citizen. Immediately upon his arrival he will he eligible for election as a member of this Parliament, or of any State legislature. He will not be an Australian citizen unless he registers as such, but that will make no difference as far as his rights are concerned. The same will be true of an Australian who goes to Britain. Without registering, he will be eligible to enter the House of Commons, and to enjoy all the rights of a British subject. The citizenship act which the parliaments of New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Canada have passed together with this bill which we are being asked to pass may differ slightly in phraseology, but the principles which they embody will be the same. Each country in the British Commonwealth is creating ite own citizenship, and providing for its own citizens. But a citizen of Australia, New Zealand, Canada or Pakistan is still a British subject. An Australian citizen is a British subject in Pakistan, New Zealand, Canada or the United Kingdom. Consequently, the law relating to British nationality will not be affected by thu bill.
The Government has introduced this bill in agreement with other member States of the British Commonwealth. Australia would not have been justified in standing out against the agreement reached by the Prime Ministers. It was expected to give effect to their decision iti this matter. We are strengthening, not breaking the bonds of Empire. There are certain advantages to any country in its. being able to make its own laws relating to citizenship. One of the advantages is that the separate identities of the countries comprising the British Commonwealth will be clearly recognized. We shall talk of New Zealand citizens, Canadian citizens and Australian citizens. Diplomatic protection will be placed on a more satisfactory basis, because each country will know that its citizens are entitled to its protection. In making treaties with other countries, the Australian Government will be able to define precisely the persons whom it represents and on whose behalf it is negotiating. The nationality laws of each country may, in future, be amended under this uniform system without the necessity for consultation with other members of the British Commonwealth. The essential principle of such a scheme is that each country in the British Commonwealth will have its own citizenship laws defining who are its citizens, declaring those citizens to be British subjects, and recognizing as British subjects the citizens of all other Commonwealth countries. Great Britain has given the lead in this matter. In introducing the bill, the Government is following Great Britain. The Citizenship Bill was fully debated in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. If honorable members will read the Hansard report of the speeches in the House of Lords, they will find that the leading members of all political parties supported the bill. No such heat was engendered in the debate as members of the Opposition are endeavouring to engender in- this debate this evening. There was no excitement. The bill was treated almost as a non-party measure. Speakers regarded the subject as difficult and technical, requiring careful consideration, and no serious differences of opinion were revealed in the debate. I believe that the Australian Government has acted in a proper manner in introducing this bill. In the circumstances, it could not have postponed the matter any longer. Members of the Opposition have complained that they have not been given access to the report of the experts on nationality. A similar complaint was voiced when the Citizenship Bill was being considered by the House of Commons. On that occasion, the Attorney-General said -
I have been asked why we did not publish the report of the conference. This was a conference of officials. It is not usual to publish reports of conferences of that kind. Moreover, this was a conference which reported not only to us but to all the other Commonwealth countries. It was a joint report. It would not have been appropriate, quite apart from the point as to its official nature, for us to publish the report unless all the Commonwealth countries were prepared to agree to it.
That explanation will serve to answer the complaints which members of the Opposition have voiced, because the report of the experts was not made available to them. The Australian Government has not the right to publish the report unless it obtains the consent of all the countries represented at the conference. The Prime Ministers included Mr. Chifley, of Australia, Mr. Mackenzie King of Canada, and Field Marshal Smuts, of South Africa. The British Attorney-General also stated -
The conference of experts was appointed to work OUt the details after the principles were decided upon by the Prime Ministers.
In other words, the experts were directed to evolve the machinery. The Prime Ministers themselves could not have been expected to draft the legislation. The subject was highly technical and complex, and the experts spent some time considering it. Eventually, the bill was introduced in the House of Commons and became law. It was then the duty of other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations to follow suit in order to strengthen the ties of kinship about which the Acting Leader of the Opposition has spoken this evening. In this debate, members of the Opposition have used such words as “ isolationism “ and “ insidious “. Those remarks are to be deplored. The honorable member for Richmond stated that there was no necessity for this legislation. I have proved that it is necessary. The Government is carrying out an arrangement which Australia has made with other member States of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Richmond has also stated that the Government is eager to sever the ties with Great Britain. He makes himself more ridiculous every time he delivers a speech. His observation is most childish.
– But it is true.
– No person with any common sense will take any notice of it. I commend the bill. It is a fine measure, and does honour to this Government.
Mr. SPENDER (Warringah) [9.55J - I do not propose to speak at length on this bill, but I desire to make some observations which are very important to me. It is well that we should direct our attention more to the future than to the past. I am as concerned as any honorable member about preserving the Empire and all that it stands for. I do not use the word “ Empire “ in any jingoistic sense, and I am less concerned about the form of words than I am about the spirit. Much as I regret the necessity for the introduction of this legislation, nonetheless I want to be able to build upon what we have, because I have infinite faith in the political genius of the British people to adjust themselves to changing circumstances in a fast-changing world. In the first place, it is well to observe that although there is common nationality in every British dominion and the United Kingdom, that does not mean that each member part of the British Empire has any rights in respect of any other part of the British Empire. The great and important thing is that common nationality was based upon common allegiance tothe Crown.
– And a common language.
– Not necessarily. My vision of the Empire is much wider than one merely in terms of a, common language. If, by my contribution to the debate, I am able to assist in the maintenance or development of common nationality and common allegiance, my observations will beof some benefit. Under the nationalitylaws, it has been conceded at all times, that each dominion has the right to determine its own immigration; laws and to say who shall become itscitizens. I mention those matters because they are fundamental to any discussion upon this bill.Common nationality means for us a common allegiance to the King. It does not mean that one part of the British Commonwealth has any rights as against any other part of the Commonwealth. Any component part of the British Commonwealth has the right tolegislate in respect of its own citizens, and the people who should become itscitizens and come under its protection. I do not desire to cut anything away from those two main propositions. A review of the history of the legislation relative to nationality in this country discloses that in 1903, the Parliament passed the firstnationality legislation and until the common code was introduced in 1914, that act varied substantially from similar legislation in other parts of the Empire. I mention that fact because I am inclined’ to think that mere words can be overstressed and given an importance quiteout of proportion to their real significance. Subsequent to 1914, thecommon code was introduced and I am one of those who regretsthat that common code was broken down. At the same time, we mustacknowledge that in 1946, Canada, forreasons which it thought proper, decided’ to change its nationality laws. I do not question the right of Canada to take that action. However, I do not believe that the Canadian people have not a real and deep seated concept of the value of the British Commonwealth and cf a proper allegiance to the Crown. The former Prime Minister, Mr. Mackenzie King, and the present Prime Minister, Mr. L. S. St. Laurent in discussions which I was fortunate enough to have with them, have expressed the same ideas, the same basic concepts and the same aspirations as Australians who are loyal subjects of the Crown, express. When Canada departed from the common code, the question arose whether the rest of the Dominions would adhere to it or follow Canada’s example. Whether Canada set a good or bad example does not matter much at this stage. We must not be led too much astray by what Canada has done. I believe, as I said at the outset, that the genius of the British people will adjust itself to changing circumstances. To-day is different from 1914. Since then two vast wars have swept the world, and different concepts of nationhood have arisen. The British, for better or worse, have advanced the idea of nationhood amongst those who were subject races. So we have the new dominions of India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Southern Rhodesia and Burma going along the road, I hope, of ultimate close combination with people of a different race and tongue who were formerly their leaders. It is easy to say what ought to be done, but it is not easy to find a simple formula for the adjustment of changing circumstances to previously held ideas. Ideas should adjust themselves to changing circumstances. My hope is that we all will direct our minds and words, not to causing dissension or misunderstanding between one section and another of the Empire, or to limiting the spontaneous growth of the British people and their associates, but to doing all we can to promote that growth along the lines of the free association of the peoples of the British Commonwealth under the King. The task will not be easy. For a very long time, I have been a great advocate of the closest integration of all parts of the Empire, because I regard it as the surest foundation for peace and progress. I do not think the Empire is likely to be destroyed by a mere document. I must say what is in my mind and heart. I am convinced that there is a great future for the British people and those people working in combination with us, who’ but yesterday were subject races, if we direct our minds to ensuring that progress and less to discussing matters that are faster and faster becoming matters of history.
The bill, in substance, is a serious departure from what has gone before. For the first time, we acknowledge citizenship as the basis of nationality or, as it was described in the House of Lords, the gateway to nationality. . The citizenship ox people in South Africa, Ceylon, India. Pakistan, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, or any other part of the British Empire, is, in my opinion, quite consistent with a common nationality and common allegiance to the Crown. I rose to speak solely because I should not have liked the debate to pass without having made it clear that, much as I regret the legislation, which follows the pattern of the Canadian legislation, we cannot turn back the clock. We must do all that our hearts and hands can do to strengthen the influence and the prestige of the Empire, which has contributed more to peace and human progress than any other institution.
.- Two important speeches have been made from the Opposition side and, awaiting my turn to speak, I had to draw inferences. The first I drew was that the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison), because of the assumptions and fulminations that he made about what the bill means, knows nothing about it. It was something of a surprise to hear the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), who is an eminent lawyer, traverse the bill in its true aspects. He related the patriotism of Australians to the Empire and delved into a problem that has agitated other lawyers, as he said, since 1903. The attempt of the Acting Leader of the Opposition to muddy the stream in that connexion was rather odd. It was disturbing, too, because of the importance of the bill, to hear him talk about the liquidation of the Empire, the tighter tying of the ties of the Empire, and the loosening of the ties of the Empire - all the cliches that one hears at an Empire Day dinner. Having listened to’ him rattle the sabre and then having listened to the honorable member for Warringah, I wonder at the division in the Opposition ranks about a matter that was discussed, as was said by the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams), in a more sober atmosphere in both houses of the British Parliament. The constituency represented by the Acting Leader of the Opposition is called “ Wentworth “ after a great Australian. I represent another constituency, Parkes, which is named after another equally great Australian. I am reminded that when Parkes wanted to end the use of Australia as a penal colony for convicts, Wentworth called him a Communist. The honorable member for Wentworth appears to have a mind like that of the man whose name his constituency bears. He referred to the breaking up of the Empire and to the frustration of the British trade and talked about disruptionists. He is a dis.ruptionist, too, for he has been rude to our Governor-General and has assaulted our workers by words if not deeds. He is a sabre rattler. He accuses us of all sorts of sins.
The tenor of the remarks of the honorable member for Warringah was different and refreshing. I congratulate him. There has been much misconception about this matter. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) said that the bill has been brought down because of the breakdown of the common code. That has been a worry to every other Dominion and to ourselves. Speaking on the British Nationality and New Zealand Citizenship Bill in the New Zealand House of Representatives on the 17th August, the honorable W. E. Parry, Minister for External Affairs in that dominion, said, according to the New Zealand Parliamentary Debates -
The breakdown of the common code is due fundamentally to the increasingly different needs of the different Commonwealth countries. As I have said, the Imperial Act, adopted by the dominions, said that anyone born on British soil was a British subject -
That is the nub of subject. He went on - and it also brought in people born on foreign soil, if their fathers or their grandfathers had been born within the British Empire. But each dominion felt, at some time, the need to declare certain particular classes of people, classes which perhaps did not exist in England, ‘ to be British subjects. So, for instance, under our present law we naturalize Samoans who cannot speak English, although the Imperial Act says that an applicant for naturalization must have a sufficient knowledge of English. And again, in 194C, we restored British nationality to British women who had forfeited it by marrying aliens, because this was a matter on which we felt strongly. So then, the position was that, if a British woman married, an Italian or a Swise the law of the United Kingdom said that she had become an alien, whereas the law of New Zealand said that she was still a British subject; in New Zealand we put her on the electoral roll and gave her a British passport, yet if she went to England she would have to register as an alien along with her husband. These were comparatively minor variations but in January, 1947, the Canadian Citizenship Act became law. It said very little about British subjects, and a great deal about Canadian citizens. Canada had found it necessary to say which of the 400-odd million of His Majesty’s subjects in the world belonged to Canada.
This bill defines his Majesty’s subjects in the world who belong to Australia and who are Australian citizens. A point made by the Minister for Immigration, in moving the second reading of the bill, was that we have given ourselves a Christian name whilst retaining our surname. The honorable member for Wentworth made a great to do about the rights that he said we were losing under the bill. He said that
Ave were losing our birthright without retaining anything. He confused the clear statement of the Minister for Immigration about the matter. The Minister in his second-reading speech said -
A British subject who is not Australian horn will be able to become an Australian citizen by a simple act of registration, but he will not suffer in any way whatever should he fail to do this.
The honorable member for Wentworth drew attention to the fact that many thousands of immigrants of British origin, including British ex-servicemen, are coming to Australia and suggested absurdly that the Minister who so brilliantly conceived the scheme under which they are being brought here would stultify his own efforts by compelling them to sign applications to become Australians. Nothing of the sort! The position was set out explicitly. The Minister continued -
No doubt a great many British people not, born in Australia will seek citizenship, but they will not make the move for any .practical advantage whatever, but purely as an expression of pride in this country and its achievements.
That is a more patriotic and practical expression of the position than that of the honorable member for Wentworth.
Not even in my position as chairman of the advisory committee on immigration have I heard a clearer exposition of the situation than that of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). He traversed the varying problems of the British Dominions and the dependent members of the Empire. The situation must have been of tremendous complexity to the British Parliament and to the officials at Whitehall, when people without British subjecthood could or could not claim British citizenship. They could have been citizens of British colonies or of British territories of varying nomenclatures. The difficulties arose out of a change within the Empire. The honorable member for Warringah said that that change was not a break-up of the Empire but a readjustment. In that re-adjustment the machinery that moves the Empire is not being broken. It is being adjusted to meet the new mode of Empire cooperation. In his jingoistic utterance, the honorable member for Wentworth talked rabid nonsense. The written thoughts of people who have taken the trouble to think about this matter make interesting reading. I refer now to the official congress minutes of the Thirty-third Annual Congress of the Returned .Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia held at Anzac House, Wickham-terrace, Brisbane, on Friday, the 22nd October. Amongst the hundreds of resolutions passed there was one relevant to this very matter. It is a matter that has greatly agitated the minds of ex-servicemen. Articles have been written about “ cutting the painter “. Yet never has Australia been more solidly behind the rest of the Empire than it was in the recent war, in which Australia played a valiant part. lt has been solidly with the rest of the Empire in all Imperial discussions. It is extraordinary that there is a section of Australian thought which considers that at any given time some go vernment or Minister is going to commit the overt act that will cut Australia adrift. A section of the ex-servicemen were concerned about this matter, and at the congress a motion duly proposed and voted upon was as follows : -
That this Congress deplores the suggestion of a separate Australian nationality as distinct from British nationality, as at present enjoyed, and that a vigorous protest be made against the change.
That motion, No. 125 on the agenda, was defeated. It was proposed by the Victorian branch of the organization. A second motion was agreed to. It was in the following terms: -
That the rights and privileges of Australian citizenship be withdrawn from any person who expresses allegiance to a foreign power.
The Government has taken cognizance of the opinion that was expressed by the exservicemen when they defeated the motion urging that they should protest against the institution of Australian nationality, and has paid due deference to the resolution that the rights and privileges of Australian citizenship should be withdrawn from those people who are nationals of another country but hold Australian citizenship and, by force of circumstances, take up arms against their own country. Action against such persons is provided for in the hill.
The Acting Leader of the Opposition suggested that this bill had been introduced “on the quiet” and that the deliberations of the authorities had been conducted in secret. Whenever the honorable gentleman throws the black cloak upon his shoulders and slinks around looking like Sexton Blake, one suspects that he is unearthing one of his usual plots which, upon investigation, is found to have nothing in it. This matter was thoroughly discussed by a representative group of citizens. It was approved of by the Immigration Advisory Council, of which I am chairman. The council consists of men like the federal secretary of’ the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, Mr. . Neagle; the federal secretary of the Air Force Association, Mr. Austin; the president of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures, Mr. Withall; the president of the Employers Federation of Australia, Mr. Oberg; the secretary of the Federal Chambers of Commerce, Mr. Wilkins, and Major Towner, V.C., a grazier from Queensland, a soldier and a man with “a distinct Australian outlook. Those were among the men who approved of this measure when it was placed before them by the Minister and by myself, as chairman of the council. It is wrong to say that this question was not considered by responsible people. The problem of Australian nationality has caused the Minister grave concern. He made every attempt to secure from all parts of the world copies of legislation that has been enacted or forecasted,, and to obtain all relevant material upon this vexed question. The material that was obtained was submitted to experts and competent authorities so that they could express an Australian viewpoint upon it. That disposes of the suggestion that this is a furtive attempt to do something prejudicial to the British Empire or another attempt, to use that quaint old English phrase, “ to cut the painter ‘.’ The nationality issue was put into its proper perspective by the honorable member for “Warringah (Mr. Spender). The honorable gentleman spoke as an Australian, which proves that, irrespective of the side of the House upon which one may sit, there comes a time when opposing viewpoints converge, and it is when Australia’s best interests are concerned.
For many years people have been going round the world calling themselves Englishmen, Australians, South Africans, Canadians, New Zealanders or Newfoundlanders, according to the part of the world from which they came, but there has been no warrant in law in the British Empire for them to classify themselves in that way. When this bill becomes law, an Australian may call himself an Australian because he holds’ Australian citizenship. I cannot see that there is any crime in that. Indeed, I think that it is a matter for rejoicing. The British Empire has grown up, and the grown-up members of the family naturally desire to assume their full responsibilities. They want to put a name upon their own villa. Australia wants to call its villa “ Australia “ and be proud of it. To be a good Australian does not necessarily connote any feeling of antagonism to Britain. A grown-up Dominion is like a grown-up citizen. It has its responsibilities and thinks in terms of adult nationhood. In consequence it is of much more use to the world. There is nothing that Englishmen deplore so much as the AngloAustralian mind, which leads a person to pretend1 feverishly that he is British when it is obvious to the 100 per cent. Britisher that he is a “phoney”. The Englishmen thoroughly appreciate the Australian outlook, whether it be political or social. For that reason, this bill has a great deal of social significance. It shows that we have a desire to progress rationally and sensibly in the community of nations. We shall always meet with the criticism of the conservatives or the die-hards. I referred earlier in my speech to how Parkes was assailed for his attempt to achieve federation. I read recently that it was said that if the proposal for confederated Australian States came to fruition, it would be flying in the face of the “dear old Queen”, and would mean that the country would be bathed in blood. There has been no bloodshed in this fair land of ours as a result of federation, but there has been a great welling up of national thought and aspiration.
I desire to refer to other aspects of this bill that I consider to be of importance and which so far have not been touched upon. One of them relates to the status of women. The status of Australian women will be improved by this measure. During the war, soldiers from other countries came to this country, and before that the growth of our trade attracted people of other nationalities here. An Australian woman who married a foreigner in Australia was protected so far as her residence in this country was concerned. I mean by that that if she married an alien in this Australia of hers she still retained her nationality. However, if, for instance, an Australian girl living in the international settlement of Shanghai married a Swiss or a Dane, she lost her nationality of birth. This bill allows her to keep that nationality, irrespective of where she is married. If she desires to give it up, she must make a declaration to that effect. That is something for which women’s organizations have been fighting for many years. Despite the modernity of thought in this country, there is a tendency to be slack about women’s rights, and to think that so long as we move along and pass manmade laws everything will automatically adjust itself. One of the most grievious injustices to Australian women related to their marriage to aliens, and that injustice is now removed by this Government, which believes in equal status for the sexes. There are many Australian women abroad who will welcome this bill and watch keenly for its passing. It will give back to many Australian girls, not so much those in America as those in Europe, China and other countries, something that is important to them and which they regard as being of great value, all the more so because they are away from their native land. It is their nationality as Australians. If they were in this chamber to-night they would be applauding this measure and not wondering, in a furtive or futile kind of way, whether they were losing something. They would be pleased to know that the Government is giving back to them a status that they had lost.
The other matter to which I wish to refer is the naturalization plan that is embodied in this measure. When the flood of migrants began to reach this country, consideration was given to the question of naturalization and the statutory five-year period was revised. The general conclusion that was arrived at was that naturalization certificates to foreigners in our midst should no longer be posted to them like dog licences. It was felt that they should feel proud of becoming Australians and that it was up to us, as Australians, to institute some form of ceremonial that was in keeping with the Australian desire for something quiet rather than showy. It was considered that it should not be like the American nationality fiesta, let us call it, or the Canadian nationality carnival, but something more suited to the tempo of this land. It was decided that it should take the form of a court ceremony and that, the citizen-elect having been examined in his knowledge of the Constitution and the main ingredients of Australia national life, its freedoms and obligations, should go to a court, where a charge would be read by a judge, presumably a judge of the Supreme Court - and a simple but effective ceremony would confer upon him Australian citizenship. Upon the conclusion of that dignified but simple ceremony, a naturalization certificate would be issued. In the piping days of peace, some aliens who were resident in this country took out naturalization papers when, for business reasons, they wanted to make a move that was only open to a naturalized or native-born subject. Naturalization was a matter of expediency. Many people who had lived here for many years took out naturalization papers owing to the fear of
Avar and some, after the war, though it would be better to become Australians. We want to create the state of mind amongst these people that it is a fine thing to become an Australian and that Australian nationality means something. Therefore, the court which is referred to in the bill is very important.
I repeat that we have given ourselves a Christian name while adhering to the old surname of “ British “. I propose to read an article in To-morrow’s Australians, written by a migrant who served in the British Navy. It illustrates the point of view of the migrants to this question. The article reads as follows: -
People have asked me how the new Nationality and Citizenship Bill will affect British immigration. They think that distinct Australian citizenship may dampen the enthusiasm of prospective migrants still in the United Kingdom.
I cannot follow this reasoning. If a man wants to go to the United States as an immigrant, simple ethics seem to demand that he should not only seek, but desire American citizenship.
However, that example docs not apply in any sense to British immigrants in Australia. They will arrive here with full privileges of British nationality as they had before the bill was introduced.
When a British migrant finds himself barracking (vicariously) for the Australian Olympic team - as I did recently - it is high time he recognized that he has become a “ dinkum Aussie “. If he wants to legalize the sentiment, all he has to do is to become an Australian citizen by a formal act of registration. He still retains his British nationality and nobody will smack him in gaol for retaining a loyal (if nostalgic) bias towards the Englishmen when they come here for the Tests.
Many of my friends say they will probably apply immediately for Australian citizenship after the. bill becomes law.
At the United Kingdom end, where the new bill has been widely publicized there has been no decrease in the rate of applications for passages that are pouring into Australia House.
The paragraph that I have just read is important in view of the statement of the Acting Leader of the Opposition that the hill was pushed through in the dark. The article shows that Englishmen will not be intimidated by this measure.
– Can the honorable gentleman give the name of the person who wrote the article? He said that he is an Englishman.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lazzarini). - Order!
– I did not say that he is an Englishman. He is a British subject from the north of Ireland.
– Can the honorable gentleman give the House his name?
– Order !
– His name is Larry Boys, and the article appeared in To-morrow’s A ustralians
Mr. Anthony interjecting,
– Order ! I shall not call the honorable member for Richmond to order again. He has made his speech and must listen to the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) in silence.
– The article continues -
No one is worried about legislation which has its parallel in the United Kingdom and other dominions, and which was designed simply to iron out anomalies.
The general opinion is that the common British nationality, which we all cherish, assumes a sharper reality under the new legislation, and that the bonds of the British Commonwealth are strengthened rather than weakened by the new individuality which its members have adopted.
It is nonsense to argue that you alienate your own children by giving them all their own distinctive Christian names.
We shall not alienate friendships among the members of the family of the British Commonwealth of Nations by calling ourselves Australian, our brothers in kinship, Canadians, our other brothers across the Tasman, New Zealanders, and so on. This is only a simple working out of the growing up of the Empire. I con gratulate the Minister upon this measure which deals with extremely difficult and complicated legal matters. In spite of that the honorable gentleman has endeavoured to make it simple so that all may understand it. I congratulate him, too, on two other features in the bill that are apt to be overlooked. The first is that it preserves our British subjecthood. The Minister has made a grand gesture towards the Australian women who have found their future and their husbands in other parts of the world. He has kept them forever Australians. The second is that it will enable those people who eventually come to this country to acquire Australian nationality by u dignified course of education and by a dignified standard of life. When they have finally prepared themselves to receive the blessing of Australian citizenship by a simple and touching ceremony they will be really inducted to life under the Southern Cross. The three component, parts of this bill represent to my mind and to the minds of many Australians a very strong and vigorous step forward in Australianism. The thing that stands highest in nationhood is a firm belief in our destiny and a confidence that we have something to fight for. An Australian spirit permeates this bill. The Minister possesses that spirit in abundance and has translated it to. this bill. Upon that I congratulate him.
.- I listened with the same attention to the speeches of honorable members on the Government side as I did to the Minister’s second-reading speech at the commencement of this debate. The chief characteristic of their speeches is that they have consisted in long, and in most instances, rambling dissertations on the details of this measure with a mixture of rare but sickly sentimentality. It seems to me that if one thing was absent from the speeches of honorable members opposite it was a lucid examination of the principles at stake in this measure. Great principles are involved in it and they will have to be seriously considered by the Parliament. The Minister described the introduction of the measure as an historic event. It is an historic event; hut not all historic events are necessarily happy ones. Historic events in the constitutional life of a nation are usually very rare. Changes in the life of a people, except those brought about by conquest, are normally slow. This bill represents a notable change. I invite honorable members to try to measure what is involved in it by casting their minds back over the lifetime of the average member of this Parliament, say, 50 years. Half a century ago all people of British heritage spoke with pride of their British citizenship, and recognized the advantages of it. Above all, they recognized the security that they, individually and collectively, enjoyed by reason of their membership of the British Empire. They also recognized the advantages which flowed to them in trade, commerce and employment and in many social aspects by reason of their membership of the British Empire. Well, that has changed. Today, there has been created by propaganda an atmosphere in which membership of the British Empire has come to be regarded as something to be ashamed of. Acknowledgement of membership of the British Empire must be made furtively, or not at all. We coin new phrases to avoid reference to the British Empire, which was a term that symbolized the one-ness and unity .of the British people within themselves and their unity vis-a-vis all other countries. Times have changed, and the change is proceeding at a constantly accelerating rate. The proposals in the bill represent the latest change. What is it ? How did it come about? What justification is there for the change? Is it good, or is it bad? Is it of any particular importance? Let us examine the position on the basis of the Minister’s own statement. In his second-reading speech, the honorable gentleman said -
This bill is not in any way designed to make an Australian any less a British subject, but to help him express his pride in citizenship of this great country.’
This is a negative way of describing a great change. The honorable gentleman does not say what the change is. He merely says what it is not. If he were confident of the purpose to be achieved by the bill he had introduced, he would have said, “ This a measure to establish Australian citizenship “. But in his opening remarks, he apologizes for the measure by saying in effect “ Please, this is not a proposal to deny British citizenship to any person; this is a proposal which, more or less, retains that British citizenship, but at the same time provides us with an opportunity to express pride in our country “. I do not know that Australians have ever needed a legal document to aid them to express pride in their country. They have demonstrated that pride in every field of endeavour, and in peace and war. They do not need any new act of Parliament to enable them to express their pride in their country. However, the principle relative to British citizenship was disposed of in one paragraph of the honorable gentleman’s speech, and the rest of the fifteen foolscap pages of typescript that he circulated consisted of a rambling explanation of certain mechanical, legal, diplomatic and international details, an explanation of a time-table, excuses, and a certain amount of propaganda.
When we examine the Minister’s second reading speech, we find that the measure either marks an historic occasion, as the Minister claimed, or merely puts into legal form a means of avoiding certain legal, diplomatic and international complications concerning citizenship, nationality, passport problems and so on. The Government cannot have it both ways. It is either a great historic event, oi- it is a relatively unimportant mechanical solution of legal intricacies. The Government cannot claim when it is challenged on the major issues involved in this legislation that it is a mere mechanical process. The Minister appears to have provided himself with an alibi by saying that he will allay everyone’s misgivings. I say that the bill is important and historic, and it is upon that basis that I shall examine it. It is historic and important because when it is passed, and when similar bills are passed in other British Parliaments, no longer, will all the British people be equal nationally and that that will be so for the first time in the history of the British Empire. There are other aspects of the bill which I regard as even more important than that. In order to see in proper perspective a great constitutional change such as this is, I must recall other constitutional changes that have taken place in the past. Perhaps it is not necessary to delve too deeply into history to consider the constitutional changes that have taken place during the life-time of a member of this Parliament, which has been about 50 years. In 1888, we had an Empire of which we were proud. The British Empire was the greatest aggregation of nations on earth, which made all of its peoples militarily safe, because their unity enabled them to maintain a navy as strong as the combined navies of the next two strongest powers. Now, unfortunately, the British Empire is a term of derision. Fifty years ago, we did not fear aggression from any nation. Just as we were militarily safe, so also the British Empire in those days was economically sound. There were almost unlimited opportunities for the able, the industrious, the enterprising and the thrifty. Time passed, and a demand was made from certain quarters that the separate components of the British Empire should have some kind of independent national recognition. In due course came the condition of dominion status, but it was not the legal recognition of this status which gave the Dominions their place at the Versailles Peace Conference. Australians in uniform had won recognition for Australia’s nationhood, a right which none challenged. ‘Canadians, New Zealanders and South Africans had, in the same way, achieved for their own countries the right of the representatives of their countries to participate in the Peace Conference at Versailles as equals with the representatives of the other allied nations. However, it became necessary, in the opinion of some, that there should be more than this de facto nationhood and that there should be separate legal nationhood. So the present status of the Dominions was achieved. I am bound to say that the idea appealed to all of us at the time as a forward arid beneficial step in the evolution of the relationship of British people. Looking at the issue superficially, who could object to the right of Australians to separate nationality? It would be difficult, on a superficial examination, to find the words in which to object, but I point out that an extension of this principle of dominion status has brought about the separation of Eire from the British Empire, so that today we are asked to pass legislation under which the parents of many Australians will not be recognized as British citizens. From the same set of circumstances has emerged the condition under which the question trembles on a knife edge whether India will remain in the Empire, or become a separate nation like Greece or France, and the same is true of Pakistan. Burma has already left the Empire. I mention these matters in order to draw attention to the fact that what at first appeared to be an admirable step has been found to carry within it the germs of the dismemberment of the British Empire, and of ultimate disaster for the British peoples. We have seen the threat to the United Kingdom which was involved in the neutrality of Eire in the last war. We cannot close our eyes to the possibility of another disastrous war, or to the possibility that some of the Dominions may choose to remain neutral should war break out. Thus, in our attempt to get away from this objectionable idea of a British Empire, under which we all seemed to live so safely, so happily and so profitably, we have produced a condition of affairs which is making for the dismemberment of the Empire. I ask honorable members to bear that in mind when considering the proposal for separate nationality for Australians. Just as no one looking back would say that the results arising from the evolution of present dominion status have been good, so I predict that in years to come many looking back on the present occasion will say that when the British peoples took steps to separate themselves into different nationalities, it was a black day in their history. They will regard this, not as a day to be remembered with rejoicing, but with distress, as a day which led to disaster.
The present trend is inspired, I know, by prejudices born of the wrongs or fancied wrongs of the Irish people, the people of South Africa and the people of India. I should be the first to assert that there has not sometimes been ground for complaint, but I cannot admit that the best way to cure an. illness is to commit suicide. Whatever grounds for complaint may have existed in regard to some of the matters mentioned could have been ironed out in the fullness of time without driving us to the point of national suicide. I say “national suicide “ -because, in my opinion, the effect of separating ourselves so completely from other British peoples as the Government proposes must have that result. Of course, we know that Governments are often driven to take such action by slogans coined by leaders of their party in the days of their political inexperience and immaturity, when they pandered to the less noble elements of the community. Upon attaining office they find themselves the victims of their own slogans to which they are fastened as by manacles. I am sure that that is not an inaccurate description of the origin of the present conception of certain members of the Government of the matters that are separating us from other British peoples.
I can imagine no greater disaster to the entire human race than any step “which is calculated further to dismember the British peoples. The verdict of historians is that the establishment of American independence was more fateful to the world than the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo. If the American people had not separated themselves from the British Empire, and that Empire had continued to enjoy the strength which it possessed 50 years ago, the world would not have had to endure the horrors and misery of the two world wars of our generation. Union of the Britishspeaking peoples of the earth would have been more powerful than the League of Nations or the United Nations, and it would certainly have been a more powerful instrument for peace than the hotch-potch aggregation of nations which has been brought about, albeit with the best intentions in the world, during and since the recent war. . I invite honorable members to conjure in their minds the effect which a continued union of America with the British nations would have had upon the world to-day. We should at least have enjoyed a Pax Britannica in our lifetime, which would have been infinitely more beneficial not only to the British people but also to all other nations than the troubled international relationships which have existed. We have witnessed a prolonged series of parleys, bickerings and intrigues which have twice culminated in global war. If any further dismemberment of the British peoples takes place it is only reasonable to prophesy that in 100 years’ time people may reflect that the consequences to the world of the disintegration of our Empire have been far greater than the separation from Great Britain of the American colonies. Notwithstanding the existence of all the charters, protocols and other international agreements we still live in a world where our very lives depend ultimately upon issues of power politics. Unfortunate as that may be, it is a simple statement of fact, and Australians can best ensure the survival of their nation, and make their most effective contribution to the peace of the world, by preserving the British “League of Nations”. In preserving the integrity and cohesion of the British peoples we shall accomplish a great deal towards our own security. We are only a small nation, a fact which renders all the more dangerous the giant stride which the present Government proposes to take towards segregating us from the other countries of the Empire. We are to assume national independence, and to choose our own vice-regal representative, irrespective of the wishes of the nominal head of the British Empire. I emphasize that this is the first occasion on which any such proposal has been advocated by the government of a British dominion and it is important that people should realize exactly what is entailed in the present Government’s desire to confer separate nationality upon Australians. Indeed, I do not know what further step could be taken to sever us from the most powerful, wealthy and good people of the world, and to change our status as a member of that powerful partnership to that of a small isolated people, because that is undoubtedly the fate which lies before us. I say nothing of the disastrous results to our overseas trade which may accrue from such a step as that now proposed by the Government. The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) has discussed that aspect of the matter very fully, but as a member of the
Australian Parliament I believe my first concern to be the survival of the nation, and to that concern my remarks are directed.
Let us examine this proposal a little more closely. In the United Nations the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has carried us a great way along the path of separation from the United Kingdom and the British dominions. On a hundred occasions Australia has behaved in the councils of the United Nations as though it were entirely separated from the rest of the British Empire and had as much relationship to the Dnited Kingdom as, say, Greece, France or Norway. I say that the Government’s foreign policy is part of a continuous pattern because the same thread runs through the domestic as well as the external policy of the Government. One of the chief aims of that policy is to isolate Australia from the British Empire.I do not think for a moment that in pursuing that policy the Government is actuated by any malicious intent. Indeed, I do not think that any Australian could be so foolish or so bad as to act with malicious intent. Nevertheless, it must be clear to all that the end of such a policy must be disaster. Picture the situation of Australia as a separate small nation ! Once we cease to be recognized as speaking as part of the British peoples what weight would our voice carry in the councils of the world? Our population is no greater than that of Belgium. What is the weight of that country in the councils of the world? Yet I remind honorable members that the population of Belgium is concentrated, and that that country is able to utilize its man-power and material resources to the best advantage because they are concentrated.The man-power and resources of Australia are spread over an entire continent-
– I rise to order. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) is engaging in audible conversation.
– I agree. The remarks of the honorable member for Indi are hardly relevant to the bill, and hemust return to discussion of its provisions.
– I made no such observation, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and you are attempting to put words into my mouth. I pointed out that the honorable member for Indi was being subjected to obstruction from your side of the House-
– I am sorry if I misunderstood the purpose of the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison). The honorable member for Indi may proceed.
– I am troubled to believe that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, did misunderstand the words of the Acting Leader of the Opposition, just as I was troubled to believe that you failed to call me when you made a leering wink at your side earlier to-night when you called the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony).
– Order ! The honorable member has made a reflection on the Chair. T ask him to resume his seat.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Duthie) adjourned.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Western Australia Grant (Water Supply) Bill . 1948.
War Gratuity Appropriation Bill 1948.
Loan (Housing) Bill 1948.
Motion (by Mr. Calwell) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I desire to refer to the audited accounts of Trans-Australia Airlines. An accountant has supplied to me a careful analysis of the report and balance-steet, and when I have read it to the House I hope that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford) will examine it and reply at a suitable opportunity. The analysis is as follows : -
If the public (who are said to be shareholders) were entitled, to exercise the rights of shareholders of asking questions in regard to the balance-sheet, many queries would be raised including the following: -
For the two years therefore -
– Not enough.
– The taxpayers, who include people who do not travel by air, must meet the losses. That is the difference between a government-controlled airline and a privately operated airline. No private company could carry on its business on that basis. The accounts of Trans-Australia Airlines should be presented promptly to the Auditor-General at the end of each financial year, and a true account of its transactions, without any hidden losses, should be disclosed to the Parliament and the taxpayers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator,&c. - 1948 -
Nos. 73-75 - Federated Clerks’ Union of Australia.
No. 76 - Postal Telecommunication Technicians’ Association (Australia).
No. 77 - Amalgamated Engineering Union and others.
No. 78 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 79 - Printing Industry Employees’ Union of Australia.
No. 80 - North Australian Workers’ Union.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department-
Post-war Reconstruction - A. Y. Montgomery.
Treasury - H. I. Blake, R. G. Martin, D. C Phillips, II. Webb.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes -
Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia.
Kapunda, South Australia.
Mannum, South Australia.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
Ordinances - 1948 -
No. 3 - Police Offences .
No. 4- Stock.
No. 5 - Liquor (No. 2).
Regulations- 1948- No. 4 (Fish Protection Ordinance).
House adjourned at 11.14 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. No recent steps have been taken to survey an Indian Ocean air route from Australia to London on the route suggestedHowever, the route as far as Mombassa, via Cocos Island, Diego Garcia and the Seychelles, was surveyed by Captain P. G. Taylor in 1939 with the Catalina flying boat Guba. The report of this survey flight is available for future use.
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, uponnotice -
What was the amount standing to the credit, of the No.11 wheat pool account at the Commonwealth Bank on the 31st October, 1948?
– The answer to thehonorable gentleman’s question is asfollows : -
The credit in No. 11 wheat pool on the 31st- October, 1948, was £34,270,000. This is a. little more than is needed to cover an advance of £20,000,000 now being paid to growers, plus- the tax for the stabilization fund on wheat exported to date.
n. - On the 28th October, the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams) asked whether the MinisterforShipping and Fuel could arrange a discussion with shipping companies toascertain if fruit packing houses could be advised in advance of sailing dates to be fixed by shipping companies. The Minister for Shipping and Fuel has supplied the following information: -
The officers of my department have discussed with the overseas shipping interests the matters raised bv the honorable member for Robertson, and ‘ they have been informed that due to a number of causes shipowners are not always able to maintain regular schedules fur their vessels. Insofar as it is possible, advice of projected sailings is passed to fruit shipping organizations in sufficient time to enable consignments to be prepared for loading, but on some occasions sailing dates have to be altered through circumstances over which the shipowners have no control. On such occasions, advice of the variation of sailing dates is given to the fruit shipping organizations as soon as is practicable.
d. - On the 13th October, the honorable member for .Swan (Mr. Hamilton) asked me certain questions in relation to the export of onions and I promised to make further inquiries. I would advise the honorable member as follows : -
As I indicated at the time, vegetables for intended export overseas are inspected by officers of the State Departments of Agriculture .on behalf of the Commonwealth. The officer in charge in Western Australia reports that onions being exported from that State are the produce of Victoria and as they are old season’s onions naturally some are sprouting. Arrangements have been made for the onions, which are quite dry and sound, to be picked over and it is considered that when this is done the consignments will he very satisfactory from a shipping stand-point. Evidence available indicates that the onions being exported are arriving in a satisfactory condition. I might add that at the time the matter was raised by the honorable member tho officers concerned were attending an interstate conference at which the regulations governing the export of fresh vegetables were reviewed with the object of more clearly netting out for the guidance of both exporters and inspectors the conditions to be observed. These ‘ regulations will be issued as soon as the legal processes can be fulfilled.
d. - On the 9th November, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton) asked a question regarding the shipment of eggs from ‘Western Australia to Singapore. The honorable member asked why the export of eggs to the British services in Singapore was being restricted to 12-lb. pack eggs and whether I would investigate the actions of the Australian Egg Board in this matter with a view to ensuring that Western
Australia poultry-farmers are given, justice. I have investigated the matter and now advise the honorable member as follows: -
The contract between the Commonwealth and the United Kingdom Governments provides that all eggs packed for export from. June to December in the weight grades. 134 lb- to 17 lb. a long hundred shall beshipped to the United Kingdom. The contract further provides that from January to May eggs in the. above weight grades mav beshipped to destinations other than the United Kingdom provided the total quantity shipped” to such destinations does not exceed 24 percent, of the total quantity of eggs shipped”, to the United Kingdom during the preceding- June to December period. The AustralianEgg Board has authorized shipments of 12-lb.. pack eggs from June to December, 1948, tonearby markets including Singapore, and in. the case of Western Australia, which has a direct shipping service to Singapore, the StateEgg Board has been authorized .to ship to Singapore on behalf of the Western Australian’ exporters, all available eggs of the 12-lb.. pack. In addition, the Western Australian Board has been authorized toship 5,200 cases of 13J-lb. pack eggs to Singapore exclusively for delivery under contract to the R.A.S.C. .and Royal Navy. The 13)-U). pack shipmentswere authorized firstly because of Western Australia’s commitments in respect of the 12-lb. pack and secondly because when approval was first given, it was understood that the British authorities would prefer the larger sized eggs for their services in Malaya. It has si nee been found that the contract only stipulates a minimum weight egg of li oz., which is a lower weight than the 12-lb. pack. This is the reason why no further approvals will be given for shipments of eggs above- 12-lb. pack (other than to the United Kingdom) during the period June to December.
No other State has been authorized to ship eggs from June to December to Singapore or any other destination (excluding United Kingdom) other than the 12-lb. pack. It will beseen, therefore, that Western Australia as compared with other States has not been unfairly treated. For the period June to end of October, 1948, Western Australia has shipped 762 cases of 12 lb. pack eggs to private traders at Singapore and 4,093 cases of 134 lb. pack, eggs to R.A.S.C. and British Navy, Singapore. All other States combined have shipped for the same period to private traders at Singapore 2,186 cases of 12-lb. pack eggs only. It will be seen that Western Australia has shipped 70 per cent, of the total Australianexports of eggs to Singapore this season whereas Western Australian egg production is only approximately 7 per cent, of the Australian total. Producers in Western Australia are apparently thinking of the future, but they must bear in mind that without the security of the existing long-term contract with the United Kingdom, it would definitely be a serious matter for Australian poultry- farmers.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 November 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1948/19481118_reps_18_200/>.