18th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that at a special conference of trade union executive committees in London recently the general council of the Trades Union Congress presented a report and recommendations regarding various ways in which trade unions could contribute to increasing industrial production? Is the right honorable gentleman also aware that the general council of the Trades Union Congress considered that the suggested methods of increasing production, which were the transfer of under-employed workers and the discontinuance of restrictive practices, although unpopular, are nevertheless necessary? In view of the recent statement by the PostmasterGeneral to the effect that workers had nothing to gain but everything to lose by increasing production beyond what would be necessary to maintain themselves and their families, will the Prime Minister consider discussing with the Australian Council of Trade Unions a suggestion that that organization should make similar recommendations to Australian trade unions with a view to eliminating practices which are retarding the rate of production in this country?
– I gather that the first portion of the honorable member’s question was intended rather to give information to me than to obtain information fromme. I have received a report from the Australian High Commissioner in London of some of the resolutions passed by the British trade union organization that he mentioned. Questions relating to increasing production and restrictive measures have been dealt with previously in this House, particularly by the Minister for Labour and National Service. The Minister and the Government have always favoured a system of incentives of various kinds subject to proper control. Incentives have been adopted by a great number of the trade unions in Australia, . particularly those associated with the textile industry. However, the history of bonuses and other incentives in Australia has been so bad that many trade unions are very reluctant to approve of their reintroduction. The system was very badly abused by some employers. Provided such measures are properly policed and carefully adjusted and that employers do not use incentive or task systems for the purpose of unduly exploiting the workers, we strongly favour their use, The Minister for Labour and National Service has given a great deal of thought to this matter, and he supports the view which I have expressed.
– Does that square with the Postmaster-General’s recent statement?
– I have not seen a report of that statement. I have heard some talk about it in this House, but I am not prepared to accept off-hand any statement made here or elsewhere about what the Postmaster-General said. I am now speaking on behalf of the Government on this matter. The Government is anxious to assist the trade unions to increase production, and, wherever it can be seen that bonus or other incentive systems can be properly policed, we shall advise the trade unions to give thought to adopting them, as some unions have already done. In reply to the suggestion made in the final part of the honorable member’s question, I point out that various sections of the Labour movement, including representatives of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the federal executive of the Australian Labour Party and the Parliamentary Labour party, will discuss these matters at a meeting in Canberra next Monday. The subject will be discussed to see whether better methods may be adopted by which production output can he increased. In my experience as a workman, those who have set tasks at special rates have later abused that method of increasing production. That is the point that the Postmaster-General raised. In the past, certain firms which had provided bonus payments in order to increase output, stood their employees down for two or three days a week when the current market requirements had been met.
– I understood the right honorable gentleman to say that he had no knowledge of the statement by the Postmaster-General.
– I said that I could understand the point of view. Only last Sunday a case was brought to my notice of a certain firm which had encouraged its employees to work overtime at bonus rates and had subsequently stood them down for two or three days a week. The honorable member may rest assured that any method to increase production by fair means will have the support of this Government.
– During the drought seasons between 1944 and 1947 the Leader of the Australian Country party repeatedly capitalized the reduced areas under cultivation in Australia as one of the sins of the Labour Government. Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform the House whether areas under crop have greatly increased since better seasons have prevailed, and are now in excess of pre-war acreages? Is it a fact that when, in effect, the right honorable gentleman held the Government responsible for reduced production which had actually resulted from drought, his remarks were frequently cabled overseas, to be read by people not familiar with Australian conditions?
– I rise to order. May the views of the Leader of the Australian Country party be introduced in questions such as this, and thereby be made the subject of debate ?
-The honorable member has proceeded a little beyond allowable limits.
– If what I have said is a fact, and if it is also true that areas under crop now exceed pre-war acreages, will the Minister take steps to have such facts publicized?
– It is true that during 1945 and 1946, areas under crop were adversely and seriously affected by drought conditions. That fact was used by the Leader of the Australian Country party to criticize the Government. He blamed the Government for the reduced areas then under crop, and his adverse comment was cabled overseas.From 1943 to 1946 areas under crop in Australia were adversely affected because only about 50 per cent. of the normal pre-war stocks of superphosphate was available for farmers. In those circumstances the farmers preferred to sow smaller areas with adequate superphosphate, rather than to sow larger areas with inadequate quantities of fertilizers.’ Since the superphosphate position has improved, there has been a substantial increase in the acreage under crop in Australia. In 1947-48 there was approximately 900,000 acres more under crop than in the average pre-war years, when anti-Labour governments were in office. In 1938-39 the total area under crops of all kinds in this country was over 21,000,000 acres; in 1943-44, when superphosphate supplies were reduced by half, there was almost 16,000,000 acres under crop; in 1944- 45 approximately 17,500,000 acres were under crop. Comparative figures for succeeding years were as follows : - 1945- 46, approximately 20,500,000 acres; 1946- 47, over 21,000,000 acres; and 1947- 48, over 22,000,000 acres.
” Wyatt Earp “ Expedition.
– Can the Prime
Minister, who is acting for the Minister for External Affairs, say whether there is any truth in the report that a major Antarctic expedition from Australia has been postponed for two years? If so, what is the reason for that postponement ?
– The main difficulty is, I gather from the Minister for the Navy, that Wyatt Earp, which was originally intended for that expedition, is now deemed not to be sufficiently strong, roomy or wellequipped for that work. I understand that although it was thought originally that this vessel would be suitable, there is now some doubt about the matter. Honorable members will recall that on the last occasion on which Wyatt Earp put to sea she had to return to Australia because of leaks or other faults. Consideration has been given to the purchase of another ship to take the place of Wyatt Earp on the proposed expedition, 1 mt I am informed that a suitable vessel cannot be purchased in the United Kingdom or in any other “ easy “ currency area, and that the cost of such a vessel in “ hard “ currency areas would be prohibitive. Vessels for polar exploration work must lie very strong. Although no final decision has yet been made on the matter, at the moment it appears most unlikely that the Government will provide another ship for this expedition. It may yet he decided that Wyatt Earp is suitable for the task, but I can assure honorable members that the Government will not be prepared to despatch on this difficult and dangerous task any vessel that is not entirely sea-worthy. The unsuitability of Wyatt Earp, and the non-availability of another suitable’ vessel, will be the only reasons for the postponement of the expedition.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to a report iri the Sydney Daily Mirror on Friday Inst, of an interview with Mr. Joseph Goldberg? In the course of it Mr. Goldberg is reported to have said -
How I wish I could talk.
Fie is also reported to have said - [f there is a change of government there would be a royal commission into the whole matter.
Has the Prime Minister knowledge of any information in the possession of Goldberg that warrants the appointment of a royal commission? If not, will the Government take the necessary steps to obtain from Goldberg a statement covering the matters that he considers warrant the appointment of a royal commission? Has the Government yet received a report from the Department of Trade and Customs on the pale of the contents of the trunks containing the goods that were the subject of proceedings against Goldberg? As the conviction was quashed on appeal, has any new evidence been obtained as a result of the sale that would enable the identity of the real owners of the goods in the trunks to be established ?
– I have not seen the reported statement by Mr. Goldberg.
According to the honorable member for Reid, Mr. Goldberg said, “ How I wish 1 could talk “. My recollection of Mr. Goldberg’s visit to America is that he did too much talking, and that some of bis statements were the subject of questions in this House. In regard to the latter part of the honorable member’s question, no more information is now available than was originally available about the trunks referred to by the honorable member or about Mr. Goldberg, hut, if circumstances warrant further inquiries, I shall certainly ask the Acting Attorney-General to have them made. I neither read the report referred to by the honorable member nor heard anything of it over the air. So it could not have been regarded as of great importance. 1 shall ask the Acting Attorney-General to examine the latter part of the honorable gentleman’s question. fey
– Did the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say in connexion with the Wheat Cost of Production Committee’s finding of 6s. a bushel at sidings as from the 1st December, 1947, that that figure indicated 6s. 8d. a bushel at ports? As there has been no marked change of the price of sidelines in the intervening period, why have wheat-growers had to wait until now for the committee’s finding to be recognized ?
– The Government’s wheat stabilization plan provides that there shall be an annual review of the cost of production of wheat and that, after consideration of any changes, the Government shall determine and duly announce the price of wheat. The honorable member wants to know why the rise of 5d. a bushel was not announced sooner. That is the pith of his question.
– I want to know why it was not announced twelve months ago.
– Oh, no ! The situation was accepted by the Wheat Growers Federation, which I look upon as being able to speak with much more authority than the honorable member on the wheat industry. The federation accepted the view that there should be cost variations as from the 1st December each year. It had access tothe information on which the figures were compiled.
– The Minister used the figure “ 6s. 8d.” himself. I have his statement with me.
– I did not. The. reason why the change was not announced sooner is obvious. Had purchasers of wheat from the Australian Wheat Board known of the rise of price earlier, they would have rushed the market to buy wheat at the lower price in order to sell it at the higher price. That is why the change was not announced before yesterday.
– A report has been published that the new homeconsumption price of wheat will be paid from the 1st December. Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether all Avheat harvested this season will be paid for at the increased price?
– All new season’s wheat will be paid for at the new price, provided it is of f.a.q. standard.
– Is the Prime Minister yet able to give any information to the Parliament about negotiations with the Government of New South Wales for the establishment of air services within that State?
– I am not able to add to my recent statement on that matter. The Government of New South Wales is considering various aspects of the proposal, one being the proportion of ownership that it would have if it joined with the Australian Government in conducting intrastate air services. One of the services that the State Government has in mind would also be an interstate service. Licences for interstate airlines are issued by the Australian Government, not by the State Government. The most I can say is that I have received from the Acting Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Baddeley, a letter in which he makes certain suggestions about control and about ownership of shares should the proposal eventuate. I am not able to state the Australian Government’s view at the moment.
Reconstruction Training Scheme
-rMy attention has been drawn by a constituent to a matter affecting reconstruction trainees iu the building trade, up to 50 per cent. of whose wages is paid by the Commonwealth Government. If is alleged that some builders have been in the habit of passing on to clients in their wages costs the full amount of 100 per cent. of their trainees’ wages. Has his attention been drawn to this practice if it exists, If he knows of any instance in which it has been followed, will he examine the provisions of the Re-establishment and Employment Act to see in what way the practice might be circumvented?
– My attention has not previously been drawn to the matter which the honorable member has raised. It is true that when building trainees under the reconstruction training scheme have reached 40 per cent. efficiency they go into industry, and the Government pays part of their wages whilst their employer pays the remainder, the proportions varying according to the efficiency of the trainees. When a trainee becomes fully qualified the employer pays the full wage. I do not think that it is a matter for my department to ascertain whether employers who are paying only a proportion of trainees’ wages are passing on the full wage in the cost to the consumer who, of course, is the ultimate buyer of the house. That would be a matter for investigation by the prices control authorities, and I should think that now that the Commonwealth has relinquished those controls the State prices control authorities rather than my department should inquire into it. I agree with the honorable member that the practice he has mentioned, if it is indulged in, is most reprehensible. I shall certainly make inquiries into the matter, and if the position is as I believe it to be I shall draw the attention of the State prices control authorities to it.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether the production of superphosphate has yet reached pre-war levels? Has the re-establishment of the superphosphate industry on Ocean Island and Nauru Island been completed following the destruction caused by the Japanese? Will primary producers be rationed to any great degree in respect of the next planting season?
– Speaking from memory, the production of superphosphate for the coming season will be equivalent to, if not slightly in excess, of pre-war production. Restoration work at Ocean . rsl and and Nauru Island is still going on, and it should not be long before production at both those centres reaches, or, perhaps, exceeds pre-war levels. The prospects of farmers receiving adequate supplies are good, but their demands, due to the prosperity they are enjoying under this Government, are very great. Having regard also to the fact that their purchases of superphosphate are subsidized at from £2 10s. to £2 15s. a ton, which encourages them to make such purchases, their demands may exceed the supply.
– Regulations under the Commonwealth Public Service Actestablish a promotions appeal committee in each State to deal with appeals by individuals against the promotion of other public servants to positions for which the appellants believe they have better qualifications. It is alleged that recently, Mr. Router, the chairman of the Promotions Appeal Committee in Queensland, when dealing with appeals by officers of the Taxation Department, asked a number of appellants from what school they came. If that allegation is correct, can the Prime Minister say what purpose the chairman of such a body had in mind in asking a question of that kind ? Will the right honorable gentleman ensure that in no State shall questions be put to an appellant which might be based on denominational grounds or might seek to permit of a preference being given to an individual who may come from a State school as against an individual educated at a private school, or vice versa?
– Promotions appeal committees have been established in each State as indicated by the honorable member. I have not heard any complaints of the kind he has mentioned. If, at the hearing of appeals, entirely irrelevant questions are asked, I shall take steps to ensure that that practice shall be immediately stopped. I can see no reason why the chairman of any appeal committee should seek information about the schools which the parties attended. I am well aware that in some parts of the world there is an inclination to favour the “old school tie “. We are certainly not prepared to allow that practice to develop in this country. I shall ask the chairman of the Public Service Board to ascertain whether there is any truth in these allegations, and to furnish a report as early as practicable.
– Can the Prime Minister say whether it is true, as reported, that 60 per cent, of the members of the Commonwealth Public Service are on a temporary basis, and that a large number of temporary officers are ex-servicemen? What is the reason for this high proportion of temporary employees? Does the Government intend to reduce the number of public servants? Will the Pirime Minister consider placing a higher proportion of public servants on a permanent basis?
– It is true that a considerable number of public servants are temporarily or casually employed, and that has always been so. When the Labour Government came into office, we found that men had been employed at Garden Island and elsewhere for 30 years on a temporary basis. The Labour Government, under Mr. Curtin, and later under myself, improved the position of temporary and casual employees considerably by enabling them to come under the provisions of the Superannuation Act, and by making them eligible for furlough,’ which they had not formerly enjoyed. In considering this matter, it is necessary to examine the circumstances under which employees are regarded as temporary or causual. Many of them are engaged on work which offers no prospect of continuity. The point raised by the honorable member forFlinders has also been mentioned by honorable members on this side of the House. “When the honorable member for Barker was PostmasterGeneral some years ago, he found that returned soldiers had been employed as linemen for years without ever being considered for permanent employment. Whenever there is certainty of continuity of employment in a particular branch, and employees possess the necessary qualifications, they are placed on a permanent basis. The important point to be remembered is that a great many temporary employees have not passed the necessary examinations. If the passing of the examinations were made a condition of their employment, many of them would have to be dismissed or placed on other work. The honorable member for Flinders wants more persons appointed to the permanent Public Service, whereas the Leader of the Australian Country party is always advocating the sacking of public servants. This is another example of the inconsistency in the point of view of various sections of the Opposition. The Public Service Board and the departments concerned will consider making permanent appointments when a certificate can be provided that there is reasonable prospect of continuity of work, and when employees have the necessary qualifications.
– Why not allow them to sit for a special examination?
– In many instances they could not pass even the necessary medical examination for permanent appointment. I shall ask the chairman of the Public Service Board to prepare a statement on the subject.
– Last week, in response to a question concerning the possible increase of the price of petrol, the Prime Minister said, in effect, that the factors affecting the cost of petrol at least warranted investigation and he indicated that the matter was one for determination by the State prices authorities. If a price rise is inevitable owing to increased costs, will the right honor able gentleman have regard to the additional cost that will be imposed on. motorists and help them to meet that cost by making an equivalent reduction of the petrol tax?
– Conflicting requests are made from time to time regarding the petrol tax. Representations have been made by some honorable members that the whole of the proceeds of the tax should be allocated to the States and to municipal councils and roads boards for the construction, maintenance and repair of roads. The honorable member for Maranoa now suggests that some portion of the tax should be remitted to offset a rise in the price of petrol. There is great inconsistency in these requests. No consideration has been given to the reduction of the petrol tax. This year the Government increased the allocations of the petrol tax to the States and to local governing bodies by £1,000,000 and made arrangements for an additional amount to be made available for the construction and maintenance of access roads to Commonwealth properties. At present approximately £7,300,000 is being made available to the States and to local governing bodies for road purposes. The present grants, in addition to the moneys made available by the States from their own revenues, will enable the States to expend approximately £36,000,000 on road construction and maintenance during this and the next financial year. The expenditure of such a large sum of money should make possible a substantial improvement of roads throughout the Commonwealth generally. The petrol tax is examined from time to time: but I cannot at present offer any hope to the honorable member that it will be reduced.
– Will the Minister for the Interior state whether it is true that under the Electoral Act changes in the boundaries of electoral divisions are made known to the public through the exhibition of posters in the various post offices throughout the Commonwealth ? If so, in view of the extensive alteration of electoral divisions which is to take place shortly, will the honorable gentleman arrange for a complete description of all the new electoral boundaries to be widely advertised in the press of Australia in order to prevent confusion in the minds of the people at the next general election ?
– The new electoral divisions recommended by the commissioners for some of the States have yet to be adopted by the Parliament. In anticipation of their adoption maps delineating the boundaries of the divisions are at present being printed. If the Parliament approves of the new divisions the maps will be immediately made available to honorable members, and the necessary steps will be taken to ensure that the widest publicity is given to descriptions of their boundaries so that honorable’ members and the public generally may be fully conversant with them.
– “Will the Prime Minister say who owns the Lapstone Hotel, in which the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East is now holding a conference? Why was it selected for this purpose ? Was approximately £8,000 of government money expended upon alterations to make the accommodation suitable fcT the holding of this conference ? If the hotel is privately owned, will this money be refunded to the Government? If the Government is interested in the hotel, will the Prime Minister inform the House of the nature of that interest?
– I am well acquainted with the Lapstone Hotel, which is situated within my electorate. It is located in very charming surroundings. It is very healthy there. I do not mean that it is healthy for me politically. I am speaking from the physical standpoint. The Lapstone Hotel wa9 selected as an admirable place in which to hold a conference of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East and to house the visitors from overseas. Every government insists, when an international conference is to be held in its territory and delegates from other countries arc invited to attend, that the visitors should be treated with the utmost hospitality and made as comfortable as possible. A conference was held in the Lapstone
Hotel previously, and it was found to be eminently suited for that purpose. Owing to the large number of delegates attending this conference, it is difficult to find accommodation for them within ;i reasonable radius of the meeting place. That is one of the reasons why the Lapstone Hotel was selected. One or two other hotels were considered, but it was not possible to obtain the use of them for this conference. I understand that the Lapstone Hotel is owned by a company. I do not know the name of the company, although I have met one or two of the directors on various occasions. Certain alterations were made to the hotel premises, to make them suitable for the holding of a conference. No alterations have been made to the bedrooms, dining room and so on. I am not quite sure how much money has been expended upon the alterations. As Treasurer, I approved of the necessary expenditure so that the greatest possible comfort could be offered to our guests from overseas. I shall ascertain, for the information of the honorable member for Richmond, who owns the hotel. I have already told him that it is in my electorate. I shall endeavour to find out how much money has; been expended upon certain alterations, by whom it has been expended, and what adjustments can be made between the company and the Australian Government. The honorable member desires to know the cost to the Australian Government of any alterations that have been made to the hotel, apart from the charges for its use. I shall obtain that information for him.
– Will the Minister fo. Information say whether a column entitled “Free Speech”, which is edited by Clive Turnbull and published in the Melbourne Herald every week, was suppressed in the issue of that newspaper which was published last Saturday week? Was that action taken by the management of the Melbourne Herald because the matter that was submitted by thecolumnist did not meet with its approval ? Did the Minister have any hand in the suppression of the column, under lingering war-time censorship powers? Was the column “Free Speech” included in last Saturday’s issue cf the Melbourne Herald? I ask these questions because I am an interested reader of the column.
– I noticed that the column was suppressed in the issue of the Melbourne Herald to which the honorable member for Wilmot has referred. As far as I know, it was suppressed by the management of the newspaper. I have no censorship powers te exercise. Censorship powers went “ out of the window “ years ago. When such powers were exercised in regard to newspapers, they were exercised in the national interest and for security reasons only. I understand that Mr. Olive Turnbull, in his column entitled “Free Speech”, freely criticized the actions of the Hollway-McDonald Government in Victoria in regard to the Essential Services Act, and that the management of the Melbourne Herald exercised its well-known powers of censorship to suppress any criticism of the Hollway-McDonald Government’s actions in that period of crisis. But then, that is what free speech means in the newspapers. The column “ Free Speech “ has now been returned to the newspaper’s pages and will continue to live its precarious life as long as it does not offend the management of the Herald.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories whether he is aware that recently statements were made over the national radio stations on behalf of that Minister to the effect that the Australian Government intends to grow coffee and tea in New Guinea? It is well known that some kinds of coffee are grown in that territory and that tea also can be grown there, hut I ask the Minister whether in view of the fact that there is already insufficient labour to produce the rubber and the small amount of coffee already being grown there, he will tell the House where the labour for teapicking is to come from ?
– The cultivation of coffee and tea in New Guinea and Papua is a subject that has been explored by previous governments, and it has been 3hown that those products can be grown in some of the areas of those terri tories. The whole matter has been the subject of discussion between the Minister and myself and the administrators of the territories. Agricultural experts and representatives of the administration in New Guinea believe that there is a possible field of development in the growing of tea and coffee. There is also a possible development in the growing of other products, according to the representative of the British Food Council who visited New Guinea and Papua some time ago and reported to me after he had returned from there. There is a great deal of labour in New Guinea but there is also a reluctance among many natives to leave their villages. That reluctance arises because of the better conditions provided by the present administration both in wages and in care of the natives.
– There is less labour now than before.
– The honorable member has asked a question and must not proceed to answer it himself.
– Production in those territories is increasing so that there seems to be additional labour becoming available from time to time. The trouble is not the availability of labour but the reluctance of natives to leave their villages. The Government hopes that that position will be overcome and that it will be possible to develop plantations in areas where the natives are already associated with the work of production.
Australian National Airlines Com mission : Annual Report and Accounts.
– by leave - On the 18th November, thehonorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), speaking on the adjournment, read to the House a statement containing some criticism of the annual report and accounts of the Australian National Airlines Commission and asked that I examine it and reply at a suitable opportunity. I do so now as Minister acting for the Minister for Civil Aviation. I have examined the statement and in reply to the honorable member I advise him that there is little in it that was not disclosed in the commission’s annual report for the year ended the 30th June last. In conformity with the Australian National Airlines Act the accounts of the commission are presented in a form as directed by the Treasurer, and are tabled in the Parliament after having been audited and reported on by the Commonwealth Auditor-General. The act clearly indicates that interest on Treasury advances to the commission is to be paid from profits, and is therefore not an expense item in the commission’s annual accounts. The fact that the commission carries its own insurance is disclosed in the report and is in accordance with normal government policy. Amounts credited to the internal insurance fund are based on commercial premium rates applicable to each type of risk, and are reflected fully in the commission’s profit and loss account. The method of charging all outgoings to the year in which they occur does not confer any advantage on the airline in the presentation of its accounts, and it does ensure that developmental costs are written off as they occur. In commercial practice, such costs are sometimes capitalized, or spread over a period of years by the establishment of a special account, but the Government does not favour the creation of such an account. The matter of mail payments is referred to in the report of the Australian National Airlines Commission and some months ago I stated in the House the amount of the lump sum payments which is being made thereon.
- by leaveThe statement by the Minister acting for the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Barnard) had its origin in a speech which I endeavoured to make on the Audit Bill. When Mr. Deputy Speaker refused to allow me to proceed I was obliged to resume my seat. Subsequently, three members of the Opposition, who endeavoured to take point9 of order in support of my right to discuss the audited accounts of Trans-Australia Airlines on that bill, were suspended from the service of the House. Of course, those incidents occurred before your return from abroad, Mr. Speaker, and I refer to them only in an historical- sense. However, the result was that I had to make my statement later on the motion for the adjournment of the House. At that time, only two or three members were in. the chamber, and although my speech is recorded in Hansard, it was not broadcast and the press did not publish any references to it. The comments which I made included a thorough analysis by a chartered accountant of the audited accounts of TransAustralia Airlines. I desire to make it clear now, as I did then, that my criticism was directed at the method of finance and not at the efficiency of the organization. Indeed, I have the highest regard for its efficiency, particularly that of the air crews who are typical of the splendid young men operating all the air services in Australia. I pointed out in my speech that the Australian National Airlines Commission, which controls TransAustralia Airlines, has had advances from the Government totalling £3,670,000. That large sum has been borrowed from the people, and the Government itself must pay interest on it, but the money has been lent to the Australian National Airlines Commission interest free. The Minister acting for the Minister for Civil Aviation has endeavoured to explain away that arrangement by stating that interest is paid from the profits made by TransAustralia Airlines. Apparently if TransAustralia Airlines does not make profits, the commission does not pay interest on the borrowed money. In the first ten months of its operations, Trans-Australia Airlines lost £511,456. In the following financial year it lost £296,800. The point which I raised was that this alleged company, which is really a government department, was concealing its losses. I have urged before, as I do again, that the provision made for insurance, and other matters, should be carefully examined. I also pointed out that before the establishment of Trans-Australia Airlines, the rate for air mails was 6s. 3d. a ton mile. After Trans-Australia Airlines had made an enormous loss in the first ten months of its operations the Postmaster-General’s Department began to pay to the organization a bounty equivalent to £325,000 a year for transporting mails. The Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Calwell) frequently extols the virtues of the Postmaster-General’s Department and speaks with pride of the prosperous condition of its finances. Of course, it is not able to supply all the telephones which are required, but it is able, from its excessive profits, to pay a substantial bounty to Trans-Australia Airlines. If that organization were carrying mails at the old commercial rate of 6s. 3d. a ton mile, it would receive from the Postmaster-General’s Department only £112,000 per annum. Despite the statement by the Minister acting for the Minister for Civil Aviation,I am still of opinion that some of the organization’s losses have been concealed. Honorable members would do well to read the detailed report of the criticism which L levelled at the finances of TransAustralia Airlines. The Prime Minister should examine the matter with a view to saving some of the taxpayers’ money by having the service conducted on a more business-like and economic basis.
– by leave - I desire to make a personal statement. In the course of the recent debate on the Estimates I stated in a criticism of the Broadcasting Committee that, during the committee’s trip to Tasmania last summer, Mr. Speaker was with the committee with his official car. I have just been informed by Mr. Speaker that his car was not in Tasmania with him on that occasion. I accept that statement and I take the opportunity to correct my previous statement and to say that I am sorry that I inadvertently misled the House.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an net to make provision for contributory retiring allowances for persons who have served us members of the Parliament.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read n second time.
It is proposed in this bill to establish a scheme for the payment of pensions or other allowances to senators and members of the House of Representatives upon their ceasing to be members of either House of the Parliament after the 30th November, 1948. The scheme will be on a contributory and compulsory basis. In its general purpose the scheme aims to meet the situation, long recognized by members of all parties, that men or women who serve in parliament often sacrifice opportunities to provide against the day when their parliamentary careers come to an end. It has frequently happened that members who have made great contributions to the work of the Parliament have, upon retirement, faced a condition of hardship. Very many others have had to contemplate the results of interrupted careers, earning power lost and private means reduced, through and in the course of their service in the Parliament. The longer and better the service that has been given, the more often has this been the case.
There are various reasons why this has been so. Service in the Parliament has become more exacting as the years have gone by. Unlike the more leisurely conditions of perhaps 50 years ago, parliamentary life now makes heavy and increasing demands upon the time and capacities of all who take part in it. Attendance through parliamentary sessions and the work incidental thereto, the severance of business and professional connexions, and the responsibilities of electorates, all combine to render it almost impossible for members to maintain connexion with any other activity, and, as time goes on, make it more and more difficult for them to reestablish themselves when their term in Parliament is over. It has frequently been said that the loss and insecurity which attend upon service in the Parliament deter men and women capable of making a worthwhile contribution to the service of the Commonwealth from offering themselves for election. It is hoped that this measure will help in overcoming difficulties of this nature. The problem of making provision for those peoplp who give long service to the State is not a new one. It has, I believe, received the attention of other governments, but :no action has previously been taken by the Commonwealth, which has, in fact, lagged behind Great Britain and some States in this regard. Limited parliamentary pensions schemes were introduced in the United Kingdom Parliament in 1939 and in Western Australia in .1941. New South Wales and Victoria adopted their schemes in 1946, and South Australia followed suit in 1948.
The underlying principle adopted in most pensions schemes is that there shall be two contributing parties, and this principle has been followed in the present measure. To some extent the bill has been framed, as regards its financial provisions, on the lines of the Commonwealth Superannuation Act for public servants. It provides for the payment of contributions by potential beneficiaries and for the payment by the Commonwealth of a proportion of the cost of benefits as they arise. The contributions by members will be substantial, and will amount to £3 a week, while the benefits will he limited to £8 a week, an amount which is. much less than the maximum pension provided under many private and public superannuation schemes. It should also be borne in mind that the people who are to receive the pensions are, for the most part, not drawn from the wealthy classes of the community and have no substantial private means. The Government considered, but rejected, the idea of increasing the pensions benefit according to age and duration of parliamentary service. It is of the opinion that the scheme should provide the full benefit for all those who cease to be members while still carrying family responsibilities and who may be unable readily to find reemployment in their own particular trades or professions. The Government has, therefore, accepted the principle of pooling the risks involved and considers that some part of the cost of providing adequate benefits for those whoMparliamentary careers are abruptly and prematurely terminated should be met by their more fortunate associates, who will pay contributions for long periods and for whom the value of any benefits they can hope to receive will be little more, or even less, than their own contributions will provide.
At this stage, I summarize the main provisions of the bill. They apply solely to people who are at present members of the Parliament and to those who in future will become members. In return for a compulsory contribution of £3 a week, a member will, upon his enforced retirement from Parliament after more than eight years’ service, be” entitled to a pension of £8 a week, commencing immediately on retirement or on his attainment of the age of 45. If his retirement is voluntary, a pension will not be payable unless the member has served for at least twelve years and has attained the age of 45. In all other cases of voluntary retirement, a member will receive no more than a refund of his contributions. All service in the Commonwealth Parliament, whether before or after the commencement of the act, will count for pension, and this concession will apply both to present members and to those who, having served in Parliament before the commencement of the act, again re-enter Parliament. Ex-members who have served in Parliament prior to the commencement of the act will not be entitled to any benefits unless they are again elected to either House and again retire.
In the case of those members who are compelled to retire with less than eight years’ service the bill provides for a refund of contributions together with a supplement of one and one-half times the amount of the member’s own contributions. This in effect means that 40 per . cent, of the cost of the early retirement benefit will be provided by the member himself. For existing members of the Parliament, this provision has been extended to enable them to draw the government supplement in respect of periods of non-contributory service. The Commonwealth supplement and refund of contributions will be, at the option of the member, payable in lieu of pension. In such cases the amount of the supplement is limited to the amount payable in respect of eight years’ contributions. The bill defines the circumstances in which retirement from the Parliament should be deemed to be voluntary, and, as a safeguard against abuse, it gives to the trustees a discretion to determine whether in other doubtful cases the retirement should be held to he voluntary.
An important clause in the bill is that providing a pension of £5 a week to the widow of an ex-member who, before his death, was in receipt of a parliamentary pension, A similar pension will also be paid to the widow of a member who, in future, dies in service. In such a case, the bill does not stipulate a minimum period of qualifying service. In the case of a female member, a pension not exceeding £5 a week will, at the discretion of the trustees, be payable to her surviving husband if, because of mental or physical incapacity, he was totally dependent on her. The benefit payable to the estate of a deceased member, who was unmarried at the time of his death, is limited to a refund of contributions. The bill provides that where a person has received a refund of contributions and subsequently becomes a member, the period of his service as a member may be deemed to include the period in respect of which those contributions were paid, provided he contracts to repay to the fund within a period of three years the amount of the contributions and government supplement previously paid to him. Where a person in receipt of a parliamentary pension again becomes a member he will be required to contribute to the fund and his pension will be suspended until he again ceases to be a member. The bill provides for the establishment of a body to be called the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Trust, constituted by five trustees, namely, the Treasurer, who will be chairman, two senators and two members of the House of Representatives. The trustees, other than the Treasurer, will be appointed by the House of which they are members. It is proposed that two government members shall be- appointed, one from each House of the Parliament, and, subject to the consent of the Opposition parties, two Opposition members, one from each House of the Parliament. This proposal is, of course, subject to the Opposition parties agreeing to appoint two representatives, and to the Parliament approving of this measure.
The Government has given careful consideration to the financial basis on which a scheme of parliamentary pensions should be based. With that end in view, and with the approval of the Chief J udge of the Arbitration Court, it recently obtained the advice of His Honour Mr. Justice Kirby, who expressed himself as in agreement with the approach to the problem made by the two actuaries. Mr. W. C. Balmford, F.I.A., the Commonwealth Actuary, and Mr. L. C. Oxby, FJ.A., of the Australian Mutual Provident Society. The actuaries have reported that, assuming all members contributed to the fund at the rate of £3 a week throughout the whole of their parliamentary lifetime, it would be necessary for the Government to provide 56 per cent, of the cost of the benefits outlined in the bill. They point out, however, that an initial deficiency would arise in the fund unless the benefits of members with non-contributory past service were suitably reduced. Their estimate of the proportion of the cost of benefits to be borne by the Commonwealth is based on the average experience of parliamentary membership during recent years, and represents the best method of estimating the Commonwealth liability. It is impossible for any one to estimate the rate at which pensions will emerge in individual years with any degree of accuracy. In the first place, the actual calculations are affected by the fact that many of the existing members, although their past service qualifies them for immediate benefit, have not yet paid any contributions. In their case, therefore, the percentage payment by the Commonwealth would be greater than 56 per cent. On the other hand, following the enlargement of the Parliament and the alteration in the mode of election of the Senate, the retirements in the early years of the scheme may not be so heavy as would normally be expected. This may result in a temporary saving.
The bill provides that the Government shall provide 60 per cent, of the cost of the benefits, which is somewhat greater than the amount considered necessary by the actuaries, if the scheme commenced without any liabilities in respect of past service. This margin will be available towards meeting the anticipated initial deficiency. Some further offset to this deficiency will arise if, as a result of the recent amendments to the Representation Act and the Electoral Act, the retirement rate in future should prove to be lower than has been the case in the past. In all the circumstances, therefore, the Government has decided to defer any definitive estimate of this initial deficiency until the completion of the first actuarial investigation, to be made after the scheme has been in operation for seven years. The actuarial report by Mr. Balmford and Mr. Oxby, both of whom are Fellows of the Institute of Actuaries, will be made available to honorable members this afternoon.
I commend the measure to the House as a sincere effort on the part of the Government to remove some of the disabilities attaching to parliamentary service.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Harrison) adjourned.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the hill he now read a second time.
This bill has two principal objects, first, to provide a system for the registration of users of trade marks, and secondly, to permit, in certain cases, the assignment of trade marks, without assignment of the goodwill of the business concerned. The provisions of the bill relating to registered users are entirely new so far as Australia is concerned. Similar provisions became law in England in 1937, having been recommended by a departmental committee which heard lengthy evidence on the law and practice of trade marks. It was generally agreed that the trend of modern commercial development required some relaxation of the then existing restrictions on the use and registration of a trade mark by a person other than the proprietor. Several suggestions were considered by the committee, including one of unrestricted licensing, but that proposal was rejected on the ground that it would lead to deception and confusion to the purchasing public. It was considered to be essential that any use of a trade mark by a person other thaI the registered proprietor should be subject to control in the public interest.
At the present time a licence by the proprietor of an Australian trade mark to another person to use the trade mark on goods other than those of the proprietor, is a form of deception which invalidates registration of the mark. This rule is inflexible and applies even if the proprietor of the new mark owns and controls the other party to whom the licence is given. Secondly, a parent company which is the owner of a registered trade mark can not license a subsidiary com pany to use the mark. This position is out of harmony with modern commercial development, and has been so recognized1 not only in Great Britain but also in other British and foreign countries. An amendment to bring the law of Australia info line with that of Great Britain and other countries, is desirable in the interest of Australian commerce. Many Australian companies have subsidiary companies operating in different States of the Commonwealth and if any one of those separate legal entities uses the registered trade mark of the parent company the registration of the trade mark is invalidated. Further, many overseas manufacturers desire to make arrangements with. Australian companies for the local manufacture of goods formerly manufactured overseas and sold under well-known trade marks. The new previsions proposed in this bill will overcome the difficulties which I have mentioned, and will help in the industrial development of Australia and the establishment of new industries.
The bill proposes that the Registrar of Trade Marks shall, before registering a person as the user of a registered trade mark, require to be satisfied as to the relationship between the proprietor and the proposed registered user, and particulars must be furnished shewing the degree of control by the proprietor over Unpermitted use, and the conditions generally which will govern the use by the user. Upon consideration of all the information before him, the Registrar will have the function to decide whether it is in the public interest that the- applicant should be registered as the user of the trade mark. The bill makes clear that an application which would be likely to facilitate; trafficking in trade marks will be refused). The control by the Registrar will not cease even with registration of1 a registered user, as the Registrar is empowered to cancel registration on the ground that the registered user has used the trade mark in such a way as, amongst other things, to cause, or to be likely to cause, deception or confusion, or on the grounds that the proprietor or registered user made some misrepresentation or failed to disclose some fact material to the application for registration. All decisions of the Registrar are made subject to appeal to the High Court. The bill also makes it clear that a registered user has no power to assign or transmit the right to the use of the trade mark. At present, a trade mark cannot be assigned except with the goodwill of the business in connexion with which it is used. This rule has given rise to one of the most pressing problems of trade marks law under present conditions of commerce and industry. Justification for the rule has been found in the view that if a. mark could be assigned without goodwill there was some danger of deception to the public. Thus, a mark used upon A’s goods represents that the goods come from A’s factory. If A were to assign the mark to B, while retaining his business and factory, then B would be using a mark which entirely denoted A’s manufacture. If however, B was the purchaser, not of the mark alone, but of A’s whole business and factory, with its goodwill, there would be no question of deception. Moreover, the courts have taken a narrow view as to what constitutes goodwill, and have insisted that where a vendor of the trade mark retains his factory, he necessarily retains his goodwill. This rule, however salutary it may have been in former conditions of trade, has been the cause of hardship iti modern commercial conditions.
Some illustrations will demonstrate the truth of what I have said -
Apart from the inherent desirability of modifying the existing rule as to assignment of trade marks the enactment, of the other provisions of the bill relating to registered users themselves requires a corresponding amendment to allow a trade mark to be assigned without the assignment of the goodwill of the business concerned. The bill proposes to retain the general prohibition against assignments without goodwill, but to limit the circumstances in which the validity of an assignment can be attacked and the period within which it is liable to attack. An assignment without goodwill will he invalid except in any one of three cases. The first is where the trade mark was not in actual and bona fide use in Australia by the assignor or his predecessor in title at any time prior to the assignment, but this rule does not apply where a trade mark has been registered with the intention that it should be assigned to a new company yet to be formed or that some person should be permitted to .use it as a registered user. The second case in which the assignment would be invalid is where the assignee has used the trade mark in association with statements or otherwise in such a way as to lead to the belief that the goods upon which the mark is used by the assignee are manufactured or dealt in by the assignor. The third case in which the assignment would be invalid is where the trade mark continues to be used by the assignor in relation to other goods and the public is likely to be deceived by the use of the trade mark by the assignor and assignee upon their respective goods.
There is no doubt in the minds of the Government that the passage of the bill will be welcomed by the commercial community and that adequate safeguards shall be provided against confusion in trade and deception of the public. The hill contains a minor provision to enable more than one Deputy Registrar of Trade Marks to be appointed. The existing law allows the appointment of several Deputy Commissioners of Patents and Deputy Registrars of Designs, but provision is made for only one Deputy Registrar of Trade Marks. The bill also- contains several amendments to which it is not necessary for me to refer specifically at this stage and which are consequential upon the adoption of the provisions relating to registered users and permitted assigns.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Harrison^ adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 30th November (vide page 3666).
Clause 14 (Declaration of intention to apply for naturalization).
– Subclause 2 appears to me to be somewhat ambiguous, and I should like the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) to clarify its intention. It states - (2.) An alien or a protected person may make application in the prescribed form for the grant of a certificate of naturalization as an Australian citizen not earlier than two years and not later than seven years after the unking of the declaration of intention or, in any case in which a declaration of intention is not required, not earlier than one year after hie entry into Australia or New Guinea.
I understand that sub-clause to mean that an alien, after declaring his intention to apply for naturalization, must.. within a period of seven years, take positive action to become naturalized. But let us suppose that he does not take such action within the prescribed period. Will his original declaration then become null and void, and will he again have to make a declaration before applying for naturalization, or will he be excluded from naturalization for all time becauseof his failure to act within the prescribed period after his declaration? Te thosewho are not familiar with the intricacies; of law, it would appear that a person whodoes not apply for naturalization within the prescribed period after making a declaration will be automatically, excluded from naturalization. If failureto complete an application for naturalization papers within seven years afterhaving made the initial declaration of intention to apply means that a person must make a fresh declaration of intention and serve another period of seven’ years of waiting before becoming reentitled to naturalization, let that be clearly stated in order that prospectiveAustralian citizens may be fully awareof the position.
– Under our present laws a person may obtain naturalizationif he has lived in Australia for five years continuously or has lived for four yearsout of the previous eight years in another British Dominion i and the last year in Australia. In this clause we are instituting for the first time in Australian history the principle of first papers. Wehave copied the American legislation in this matter. In the United States of America a person applies for naturalization papers after he has been twelvemonths in the country and, at the end of” another four years, he is eligible to become a naturalized American citizen. Wehave adopted the principle of first papers in order to encourage aliens particularly to declare at the earliest possible time, which in our view is reasonable, their intention to become Australian citizens.
Evidence on their part of a desire to become Australian citizens and become assimilated has a big psychological effect on their whole outlook and is a gesture to the Australian people that, I think, will be appreciated by them. If a person does not within seven years exercise the right to apply for naturalization papers, there ia nothing to prevent him from applying to become naturalized at any time after he has fulfilled the requirement of five years of residence in this country or four years out of the past eight in another British dominion and another year in Australia. This clause relates only to first papers. It outlines the procedure. By no stretch of the imagination could it be said that it was ever intended that a person who failed to complete the taking out of papers after making the first declaration should have to repeat the process if he did not complete the application after the expiry of tie additional period of not less than two years and not more than seven years.
– The present practice stands?
Mr. BEALE (Parramatta) [11.52’J.- As the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) has said, this provision is new. First, it provides that a person shall not be granted a certificate of naturalization unless within .a year or more of his arrival in Australia he makes a declaration of intention to apply for naturalization. Secondly, the clause provides. that the applicant may make application for naturalization not earlier than two years and not later than seven years after the making of the declaration, of intention. Sub-clause 3 provides that the Minister may exempt certain persons from the requirements of sub-clause 1, which relate to the declaration of intention to apply for naturalization. They are persons of two classes that are covered by other clauses. I agree with the Minister that this is a new principle. I am not at all enamoured of it. These are my reasons. It is not contained in the Nationality Act 1920, under which we
Are working at present; nor was it in the British act of 1914, from which we copied our act of 1920; nor is it in the new British Nationality Act. It is said that the provision was copied from the legislation of the United States of America and of Canada. According to the notations attached to the bill, justification for the clause is that it is desired to deter what are known as opportunists, people who for motives of self-interest or without a proper appreciation of the privileges of Australian citizenship desire to become Australian citizens. It is also said that the making of a declaration of intention to apply for naturalization facilitates the instruction of the prospective applicants for Australian citizenship. The third justification is that proper inquiries may be made of such persons. There are adequate answers to those propositions. The first is a realistic answer. T do not imagine that may people apply for citizenship on any high-souled idealistic ground. If it is to be a point of criticism against persons that they apply for naturalization out of selfinterest, that criticism is nonsense. Most persons do it out of self-interest. They do not overflow with patriotic fervour, wave the flag and strike up the national tune when they apply. They apply for all sorts of reasons and perhaps no definite reason. A whole set of reactions, emotional and otherwise, affects them. It is no justification to say, “ We want to deter opportunists “. There are plenty of deterrents against people obtaining citizenship in the law as it is. I reject as the least valid argument in favour of the clause that it is designed to deter people who may seek Australian citizenship to suit their personal interests and without due appreciation of the privileges of Australian citizenship. The next mat- “ter is that it is said that the declaration of intention to apply for Australian citizenship gives the Government the opportunity to give people instruction. I take it that that means that after the Government has been notified by people of their intention to apply for naturalization, it will be able to call them in for instruction or send them literature or do other things by which they may be educated to become Australian citizens. I do not know what that means. Does it mean that they are to have certain doctrines, principles or statement? forced upon, them willy-nilly? Does it mean that they are to go into camp to be instructed, or does it really mean only that they are to have literature sent to them from time to time?
– There is no reference to that matter in the clause, which relates to first papers.
– Exactly. I appreciate the honorable member’s point that the clause makes no reference to it.
– There is a reference to it in clause 41.
– What I am dealing with is the explanation given in the memorandum accompanying the bill. Dealing with clause 14, the memorandum sets out three grounds of justification for the introduction of the principle of first papers. The principle is of no value. There are other channels by which the Government may instruct people in the principles of citizenship. We must not mesmerize ourselves with the words like “ principles of citizenship “. The real way in which the newcomer receives instruction is in earning his daily bread amongst Australian citizens and in participating in our ordinary institutions. If it is thought that additional instruction should be delivered to any particular newcomer, facilities exist for delivering it in other clauses without the need for this clause. It is said, further, that this provision is designed to make it easier for the department to make inquiries. An alien migrant to this country must register as an alien upon his arrival, and then must live here for five years before he can become an Australian citizen. It is probable that inquiries are made about him before his arrival. Surely the necessary inquiries can be made in that long period of time. It seems to me that a provision requiring an alien to give notice that at some time in the future he will apply for Australian citizenship will not aid the department in any material way. I presume that a prudent department would keep its eye upon alien members of the community and make inquiries about them.
– -The provision will be of value to the alien.
– I cannot see how it will be of value to an alien to declare that he will apply for Australian citizenship at some time in the future. The Minister may be able later to explain what he means, and I shall be pleased to listen to his explanation.
– It will be of psychological value to the alien to make a declaration that he intends to apply to become an Australian citizen. The measure will provide him with facilities to do that and, generally, he will be very pleased to have the opportunity to do so.
– The Minister must cease interrupting.
– I do not object to the Minister’s interruptions.
– The Chair does.
– In committee, I welcome these exchanges.
– The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) must make his speech, and the Minister may then make his speech.
– The Minister has .-aid that this provision will be of psychological value, but we must not allow ourselves to be led away by phrases. I do not think that this provision will be of any material value. If it does have any value, it will certainly not be sufficiently great to offset the extra barrier to Australian citizenship that will thereby be erected. It has been said that the Americans use this system. That is so. The Americans, however, with a population of approximately 130,000,000, can afford, and may find it necessary to be, “ choosy “ or very selective. The British, on the other hand, have never found it necessary to adopt this procedure. The British Isles, which are adjacent to the continent of Europe, are very vulnerable to what might be called subversive influences, but the British have always kept an open door.
– Britain has not had the experience of the United States of America in receiving migrants.
– It has had more experience than Australia has had. Britain has been the asylum of the world for centuries and, from its experience, it has developed a much simpler system of naturalization than is proposed in this measure. It is important that, by means of this measure and kindred legislation, we should establish a liberal tradition in the matter of the entry of alien people into this country. If Great Britain and Australia have not found it necessary to impose such a condition as this in the past. I am dubious of the value of imposing it now in Australia.
– I do not agree with the contentions of the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) regarding this clause. He claimed that it is not a good one because similar provisions were not included in the 1920 legislation and in subsequent legislation. The honorable gentleman said that, in his opinion, wo should adopt a more liber;-.1. attitude to the entry of foreigners to this country. He referred to the practice in Britain, but there have been no mass movements of migrants to that country. This clause is important because it relates to the assimilation of migrants into our population. Masses of people are either coming to Australia or have signified their intention to do so. Many of them are of alien origin, and have recently suffered the horrors of war. We must do more than consider them as a contribution to our man-power resources. If I may digress for a moment, the Minister has had a mo3t successful career as Minister for Immigration, and yesterday he was given full marks for his work by a very reputable press correspondent. He has insisted throughout upon better planning.
The procedure of making a declaration of intention to apply for naturalization has been followed by the Americans, who have had experience of masses of aliens coming to their country who do not speak their language and are not conversant with their ideals. If, as the honorable member for Parramatta has said, there is no sentiment about naturalization, we could delete this clause, allow migrants to pour into Australia and lose sight of them for five years. It is to the Minister’s credit that he proposes to make naturalization a matter of sentiment, although not of sentimentality. Advantages will accrue to alien migrants by reason of their residence in this country. Quite apart from the hard fact of becoming Australian citizens the spiritual affinity that they will then have with the country that has given them shelter will be a measure of repayment. In the past, aliens who came to this country waited for five years before they could be naturalized and then, by means of the coldest possible procedure, became Australian citizens. No wonder they did not think much of it. They visited a solicitor, inserted a noticein the newspaper declaring to the world that they were seeking naturalization a? Australian citizens and then, after an inevitable delay in the Department of Immigration, although the delay’ has been much shortened in the regenerated department, their naturalization papers arrived by post in the same way a9 a duck shooting licence or a dog licence reached them. The procedure was cold and unreal. Tho importance of this provision is that it. will make migrants who arrived with a flood of other foreigners feel, during their early days in this country, that there is some plan with which they are concerned. We do not want migrants to work as directed for two years and then to flock to the cities to follow the avocations that they followed in the cities of the countries from which they came. They are important to our scheme of enlarging our man-power resources. We have something to give to them in return, that is, the benefits of Australian nationality. This provision is part of a scheme designed to make migrants regard Australian nationality seriously. Australian nationality is not something that should be obtained by correspondence, but something that they should be proud to acquire. Therefore, it is felt that they should make some effort to acquire it. The many people from Northern, Southern and Central Europe, who are coming to this country have ideals, traditions and cultures of their own. They can give us a great deal, and we can give to them, with dignity, the Australian citizenship for which they ask. This matter of first papers is very important in that connexion. A migrant arrives in this country in a migrant ship and is sent to work in a foundry or factory^ or on a farm. He has to serve a term of five years’ probation, in addition to the two years directed labour under the International Refugee Organization scheme. Certain restrictions are imposed upon him, but the provision that he may, after twelve months following his arrival, make a declaration of his intention to apply for naturalization as an Australian citizen, will indicate to him that we are interested in assimilating him into our midst. “We are dealing with great masses of people whose outlook is foreign to us. Anything that will accelerate the process of making them Australian citizens will be a job well done. The three clauses are inter-dependent. In view of my experience in this matter, I support them. In clause 41 the Minister is empowered to make arrangements for the oath of allegiance to be taken, not covertly or furtively, but in a ceremony which is designed to make the new Australian citizens proud of being Australians.
– I have had considerable correspondence on the subject of migration and naturalization. I should like the Minister to explain what is meant by the term “ an alien or a protected person “. A protected person is defined in the bill as a person under -the protection of the Government of any part of His Majesty’s dominions. Is a European South African regarded as a person under the protection of the government of any part of His Majesty’s dominions? Does the clause mean that citizens from other dominions must apply for certificates of naturalization, or does it relate only to the King’s subjects from the Crown colonies?
– It relates to citizens of other dominions and of mandated territories.
– I thank the Minister for his explanation. A European from South Africa or a British mandated territory or Crown colony would have to apply for naturalization?
– That is so.
– I notice that an alien may apply for a certificate of naturalization not earlier than two years after he has made a declaration of intention so to do, and that he may make a declaration not earlier than one year after his entry into Australia. Theoretically, then, it would be possible for an alien to be naturalized within three years after his arrival in Australia ?
– He could apply for naturalization three years after his arrival in Australia but the grant could not be made until he had been resident in Australia for five years, or had been resident in a dominion or in Great Britain and Australia combined for a period of seven years.
– The value of that provision is purely psychological. Having submitted his application after three years’ residence, an alien thereafter would feel that he had some stake in this country.
– Throughout the British Commonwealth a five-year period of residence has been adopted for naturalization purposes.
– I have only one other comment to make. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) has said that the motive underlying a person’s application for naturalization is self-interest.
– I said that it often is.
– I suppose the answer to that is the favorite American one, “So what?” I imagine that many people came to Australia to improve their conditions of life. This country has largely been developed in the past through the self-interest of people who migrated here from elsewhere. It is an act of self interest on the part of Baits that they choose to come to Australia rather than to go to Russia. Probably they believe that their freedom here will he greater and their life better than in their own countries. I do not believe that the fact that self interest is often the motive which impels an alien to come to this country should be used as an argument for extending the qualifying period of residence before naturalization may be granted. The motive of self interest consolidates loyalty to a country. An alien who comes here from deliberate choice and realizes that conditions here are good and that it suits him best to become an Australian citizen is impelled by motives which give a guarantee of his future loyalty.
, - The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) raised an interesting point; but the interjections of the Minister raised some doubt in my mind. The honorable member drew attention to the term “ protected person “, and asked the Minister whether it applied to the national of a Crown colony. The Minister replied that he thought that it did so.
– To a national of a British protectorate which is not a Crown colony.
– If the Minister’s interpretation is correct such a person may obtain Australian citizenship only by naturalization.
– That is, a person from a British protectorate.
– I was about to refer to the fact that as a national of a Crown colony may automatically obtain United Kingdom and colony citizenship, if he is born of British parents in such a colony, he would need only to register when he comes here. By his interjection the Minister has placed the matter beyond doubt.
.- Serious consideration should be given to the qualifying period of residence conditioning application for naturalization. I believe that the prescribed period is too long. Strict inquiries could be made about the bona fides of people who come here and they should be kept under supervision for a reasonable period; but the qualifying period should not be too long. The great migrations that have taken place throughout the world in the past have resulted from two causes, first, lack of food, and, secondly, hunger for land. Many aliens who come here want to go on the land but they are not able to acquire land for five years after their arrival. That, I believe, is too long a period. A qualifying period of three years should be ample. In that time it could be proved whether or not an alien is likely to prove a worthwhile Australian citizen and will adapt himself to our ideals. Why should a Bait, or a Pole, who fought with us during the war with great gallantry, be deprived of the ordinary right of an Australian citizen to elect his parliamentary representative? Why should he be deprived of the right to establish himself on the land or to obtain a home?
– We preserved that portion of the common code of 1914 which provides that no person may become a naturalized British subject of the United Kingdom or of any of the Dominions unless he has lived for five years in the particular dominion in which he now resides, or for four years of the last eight years in some other portion of the British Commonwealth and has lived for twelve months in the dominion in which he seeks naturalization. If we altered the law unilaterally we would create difficulties between ourselves and Great Britain. It is thought by all the Dominions that until such time as they can agree to a shorter period of residence the existing law should not be altered.
– Has it not been altered by clause 15? Under the old act the prescribed period of residence was twelve months preceding the date of application ; now it is to be for a full five years or such shorter period as the Minister, in his discretion, may prescribe.
– We have not disturbed the existing act. We shall deal with clause 15 presently. Ownership of freehold title in land is regulated by State laws. In all States except Queensland an alien may hold freehold title to land. In Queensland an attempt was made some time agoto prevent Italian people from holding land. A law was passed to make it impossible for an Italian national to acquire land. That provision was overcome, when Italians married and had children, by vesting the estate in the name of a child who was an Australianborn British subject. The Queensland Government agreed quite recently at a Premiers conference to amend the legislation to provide that all Allied servicemen of World War II. who were Englishspeaking should be placed in the same position as British subjects in regard to obtaining the right to hold land. The States are co-operating with the Commonwealth in the settlement of people on the land, and, except in Queensland, alienage is not a bar to the holding of a freehold title to land.
.- I wish to refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who commented on the matter of self-interest in those applying for naturalization. My comment was in the form of a criticism of the notation accompanying clause 14. He said that self-interest was properly a motive for seeking naturalization.What I tried to say was substantially what the honorable member himself said, and I do not think that there is any difference between us on that point.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 15 - (1.) The Minister may grant a certificate of naturalization as an Australian citizen to an alien or to a protected person who has made application in accordance with the last preceding section and satisfies the Minister -
. - I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.), paragraph (c), after the word “that”, the following words be inserted: - in addition to the residence required under the last preceding paragraph,”.
Paragraph c will then read as follows : -
This amendment is of a drafting nature, and is designed to remove any possible doubt as to the period of residence required as a qualification for naturalization. Ever since the Nationality Act of 1 920 was passed, it has been the rule that an alien should have had a total of five years’ residence in British territory before becoming eligible to apply for naturalization, and that requirement has been embodied in the bill. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) anticipated me by referring to what appeared to be a shortcoming in the bill.
The amendment will maintain the original principle in conformity with the existing act. Its purpose is merely to make it clear that the period of four years mentioned in paragraph c is in addition to the twelve months’ , period mentioned in paragraph b.
.- It is provided that an applicant for naturalization shall be required to satisfy the Minister that he has an adequate knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship. How is it proposed to apply that provision? Is it intended that the applicant shall be required to sit for an examination? Is he to be called upon to submit to some kind of oral or written test? I should view such a proposal with disfavour. If not, what other method is to be adopted to satisfy the administration that the applicant has an adequate knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship, whatever those nebulous expressions may mean?
– Under the present act, a person applying for naturalization must satisfy the police authorities that he is of good repute. He must also satisfy the clerk of the court before whom he renounces his former allegiance of his ability to speak English, and swears an oath of allegiance to the King. In fact, he has now to submit to an oral test in order to establish that he has an adequate knowledge of English. We intend to continue the practice of requiring an applicant to demonstrate that he has an adequate knowledge of the English language. In addition, we might well imitate the Americans, and require the applicant for citizenship to know something about Australia, something of the responsibilities of citizenship, and of the duties that allegiance to the King imposes, in addition to knowing something about the benefits and privileges he will enjoy once he becomes a naturalized British subject. In the United States of America, applicants for naturalization are given literature dealing with the history of the country. In many instances, successful applicants know much more of American history thaD do native-born citizens of the United
States of America. It would be a good thing if people applying for naturalization in Australia were to know something more about Australia, and the duties and responsibilities of citizenship than do most applicants now. Unfortunately, all that we now require of the applicant is that he should know English, be of good character, and swear loyalty to the King, and then the Minister will give him a parchment certificate with a red seal on it. The Minister affixes his signature to the certificate, and then the applicant receives his Australian citizenship as he would receive a petrol licence or a dog licence. It is proposed that in future citizenship shall be conferred at a fitting ceremony, and with due dignity. In this, we propose to follow the American practice.
– What is done in the United States of America?
– If honorable members are interested, I shall get from the American Embassy literature which explains the whole procedure. I know that certain literature is sent out by the Department of Justice in the United States of America to help applicants for naturalization to learn about American institutions and history, and to enable them to pass an oral test on such matters as the way Congress is elected, how the Supreme Courts fit into the scheme of government, and the powers and responsibilities of the Federal Legislature and of the State Legislatures. In other words, they are given elementary instructions in civics, a subject in which we in Australia are belatedly instructing our children. I hope that much more will be done in that direction in the future.
– I like the idea of holding a ceremony at which Australian citizenship shall be conferred upon those persons who are adjudged eligible for naturalization, but the effect of such a ceremony will depend almost entirely upon the person who conducts it. I remember seeing a documentary film which showed such a ceremony in the United States of America. The film depicted a room full of people, and the person who conducted the cere mony read out the oath, which each person took, merely interpolating his own name at the appropriate place, and mumbling through the words of the oath which may or may not have been administered properly. The effect was to destroy the dignity of the proceeding. If we put people through the ceremony as one would run sheep through a race, the effect of the ceremony would be destroyed. Unless the individual who administers the oath realizes just what he is aiming at and has some appreciation of the psychological1 reactions he hopes to arouse in the applicant, the present procedure might be infinitely preferable. At present, the oath is administered in private and there is no reason why in such circumstances the applicant cannot be made to appreciate its full significance. I make that observation because if the procedure now proposed is to be successful the formalities must be carried out with dignity and with a full realization of their significance on the part of the applicant.
– I quite agree with the honorable member.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That sub-clause (fi.) be left out.
The amendment, in order to be fully understood, must be read in conjunction with the two amendments to clause 16, which I propose to move, and have circulated to honorable members. With the permission of the committee I shall deal with the three amendments together. They have the one object, namely, to provide that, if an alien being naturalized has reached the age of sixteen years, naturalization shall take effect from the time that the alien takes the Oath of Allegiance. In the past, aliens have been required to take the Oath of Allegiance before certificates of naturalization were issued. Naturalization then took effect from the date on which the Minister signed the certificate. In future, it is proposed that the certificate shall be issued first and shall declare that the alien will become naturalized as from the date on which he takes the oath. The certificate will he sent to the court at which, the alien is to take the oath. After the oath has been taken, with due ceremony as provided for in clause 41, the judge, or magistrate, will certify in the certificate that the alien has sworn allegiance. The alien will thus become an Australian citizen and a British subject during the ceremony in court, and that ceremony will thus be given added significance. The amendments provide that persons under the age of sixteen years who do not take the Oath of Allegiance shall become naturalized from the date on which the certificate is granted. They will be automatically naturalized by the fact that their father becomes naturalized. In future, the Minister will sign the certificate of naturalization first and it willbecome effective from the date the applicant takes the Oath of Allegiance. The judge, or magistrate, will certify in the certificate that the alien has taken the Oath of Allegiance in his presence in open court and with due ceremony.
– The certificate of naturalization will be a preliminary?
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 16- (1.) A person to whom a certificate of naturalization has been granted shall be an Australian citizen by naturalization as from the date upon which the certificate is granted. (2.) A person whose name is under the last preceding section included in a certificate of naturalization shall, if not already an Australian citizen, be an Australian citizen toy naturalization as from the date upon which Iiis name is so included.
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.), the words “as from the date upon which the certificate is granted “ be left out, with a. view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “ - (a) in the case of a person who has attained the age of sixteen years - as from the date upon whichhe takes in the prescribed manner an oath of allegiance in accordance with the form containedin the Second Schedule to this Act; or
In answer to the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Davidson), I point out that under the present procedure the certificate of naturalization is completed when the Minister signs it. In future, completion must await the ceremony in court. The signature of the Minister is affixed to the certificate on the assumption that the applicant will appear in court and make the necessary declaration in the presence of a judge, or magistrate. A certificate of naturalization cannot be issued until the applicant takes the Oath of Allegiance in court and the judge, or magistrate, signifies that the requirements have been completed. I explained the significance of the amendment when dealing with clause 15.
– Is it intended that the certificate bearing the Minister’s signature shall be forwarded to the applicant as has hitherto been the practice, or will it be delivered to the applicant by the judge or magistrate ?
– It will be delivered to the applicant by the magistrate. The document will he sent to the Registrar of the Court to be handed to the judge, or magistrate, who will deliver it to the applicant after all requirements have been fulfilled.
. -Does “ the Minister’s signature “ legally require the personal signature of. the Minister on each document?
– As Minister in charge of two departments I had the experience of being required to sign thousands of naturalization certificates and commissions in the Air Force. If it is contemplated under this measure that the ‘Minister will be required personally to sign scores of thousands of naturalization certificates in order to make them legally valid, he will be confronted with a job which, while discharging his other ministerial responsibilities, he will find it a physical impossibilty to do. Therefore, I suggest that some consideration be given to this matter as a physical and mechanical problem.
– I am aware that the honorable member for Indi . (Mr. McEwen), when he was Minister for the Interior, signed certificates of naturalization. However, not many years before he was Minister for the Interior that duty devolved upon the GovernorGeneral. The honorable member himself may have introduced the amending legislation which absolved the GovernorGeneral from that arduous responsibility.
– No, that was done by my predecessor.
– During the last three years I have signed up to 14,000 certificates of naturalization. The grant of naturalization has been so important that it has been felt in the past that a Minister of State, not necessarily the Minister of State for the Interior and later the Minister of State for Immigration, but some member of the Government, should sign the certificates of naturalization if the Minister administering our immigration laws were unable to sign them. We propose to continue that procedure for the time being in addition to having a judge, or magistrate, affix his signature to the certificates.
– Why not place that responsibility upon the Vice-President of the Executive Council?
– I may have to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Scully) to sign some of the documents, because the responsibility is heavy. However, in the immediate future, and possibly for the next year or two, we are not likely to issue certificates of naturalization in anything like the numbers we have been issuing them up to date. During the period of the war very few people came to Australia, which will mean that for about five years after the end of the war the work should be lighter than in later years. I shall take note of the honorable gentleman’s remarks and later I may introduce an amending bill that will enable an official to affix his signature to the certificates of nationality rather than for the responsibility to rest with a Minister of State.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Calwell) agreed to -
That, in sub-clause (2.), after the word “included”, the following words be added:- “ or the date upon which the grantee of th« certificate of naturalization becomes an Australian citizen by naturalization, whichever is the later “.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 17 (Loss of citizenship on acquisition of another nationality).
.- This clause appears to illustrate yet again the disabilities under which Australia may suffer as a result of the provisions of the bill. I know that the Minister will say that the clause is intended to avoid the old difficulty of multiple nationality, but it really refers, not to multiple nationality, but to dual citizenship. As I understand the position, we shall still retain a single British nationality throughout the Empire, but each dominion will have separate citizenship. Under this clause an Australian citizen who went to Great Britain or one of. the dominions, obtained permanent employment there and found it desirable or expedient, either because of that country’s laws or for other reasons, to acquire British or other dominion citizenship, would automatically forfeit his Australian citizenship. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) has nodded, and is obviously in agreement with my statement. I say that that position is a weakness and a disability. I know something of the law of double nationality and I do not want to see my countrymen who may go to Great Britain and obtain employment, as many Australians do, lose their Australian citizenship. I do not see why they should have to lose it if they acquire United Kingdom citizenship as a matter of expediency. I consider that the Minister should reexamine this feature of the measure hecause I see no disadvantages to Australia that would follow from double citizenship, as long as both the citizenships were of British Empire origin, and I see a good many disadvantages which may affect Australians who go abroad and obtain employment.
Sitting suspended from 12.J/.5 to 2.15 p.m.
– The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) has stated that the possession of dual citizenship will not matter provided a (person holds the dual citizenship within the British Commonwealth of Nations. That statement is true enough; but the danger is that if that person moves into a foreign country, he may cause complications for the two dominions in which he holds citizenship. We consider that it is not desirable that a person should hold more than one citizenship. Who is to protect him if he gets into trouble in a foreign country? Will it be the country whose citizenship he has last adopted, or the country whose citizenship he first adopted? As the honorable member for Parramatta will concede, the difficulties of dual nationality are great. But we consider that the difficulties associated with holding dual citizenship are equally great. Therefore, we provide for the renunciation as well as for the acceptance of Australian citizenship. Our view may be wrong, but we believe that when an Australian acquires the citizenship of another dominion, he should lose his Australian citizenship.
Clause agreed to.
Clause18 (Renunciation of citizenship).
– I should like the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) to explain this clause. Sub-clause 2 reads -
A person who became an Australian citizen by reason of the inclusion of his name in a certificate of registration or a certificate of naturalization granted to his responsible parent or his guardian may, at any time after attaining the age of twenty-one years, make a declarationrenouncing his Australian citizenship.
– That is in conformity with the existing law.
– I now direct attention to sub-clause 5, which states -
Where, duringa war in which Australia is engaged, a declaration is made under this section by a person who is a national or citizen of a foreign country, the Minister may refuse to register the declaration.
– That is in accordance with existing policy.
– I foresee difficulties. In war-time, a conscientious objector may decide to renounce his Australian citizenship, and, by so doing, avoid the obligations that he may have incurred by having been an Australian citizen before the declaration of war. Suppose a United Kingdom and colonies citizen comes here and registers as an Australian citizen. He incurs the full obligations of Australian citizenship. In war-time,because he wishes to avoid the responsibility associated with that citizenship, he may renounce it.
– The provision to which the Acting Leader of the Opposition is referring relates to a person who is a citizen of a foreign country. It does not relate to citizenship of another part of the British Commonwealth. The citizens of all the countries constituting the British Commonwealth have the common status of British nationals.
– A person cannot remain the citizen of a foreign country if he becomes an Australian citizen. I am at a loss to understand the reason for the insertion of sub-clause 5. I realize that the Minister has a discretionary power to refuse to register a declaration renouncing citizenship, but I urge him to re-examine this matter. A person should not be permitted to avoid honoring his obligations as an Australian citizen, particularly in war-time. Under other clauses, the Minister has power to cancel a person’s Australian citizenship, and that provision is most important, because in certain circumstances, it may be to the advantage of Australia that such action be taken. However, I have directed attention to an apparent anomaly, and I should like the Minister to clarify the position.
– In war-time, there are enemy aliens, neutral aliens and friendly aliens. It may occur to the Minister who is in office during a war that special privileges should be granted to allied or friendly nationals. If we make this clause too restrictive, the Minister may be hampered in bestowing those privileges. There is no provision for renunciation of citizenship by any person, either a dual citizen or a dual national, in war time. Many people will acquire Australian citizenship and a foreign nationality at birth. That is one of the unfortunate features of dual nationality. A child born in Australia, and having an alien father, will be regarded by the Australian Government as an Australian citizen, but he may also be claimed as a national of the country of his father’s origin. We had considerable experience of such conditions during World War II. Persons who were born in Australia of German parents, went to Germany, were claimed by the German authorities as German nationals, and were compelled to serve in the German armed forces. The provision that we are now considering is in accordance with the existing law. We are applying to citizenship the same principles as those which are applied to a change of nationality. I do not consider that this clause will detrimentally affect a person of good will. If another war takes place, the government of the day will be able to use the same discretionary powers as successive Australian governments used in World War LI. Some young men, the sons of Italian parents, were born in Italy and were brought to Australia as youngsters. Their fathers never became nationalized. During the war, the boys were called up to serve in the Australian armed forces. One of those young men informed me, “ I shall serve Australia to the best of my ability in the war, but, after the cessation of hostilities, I desire to become an Italian national, because I want to live in Italy”.
– I cannot understand how a citizen of Australia can also be a citizen of a foreign country.
– That is possible under dual nationality.
– Is such a person re cognized by another country?
– He is not only recognized but also claimed by another country if he is within its territory. We do not recognize dual nationality. We contend that such a person is an Australian national, but the other country also regards him as its national. We have never been able to reach an agreement with other countries on the complicated matter of dual nationality.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 19 (Loss of citizenship by reason of service in armed forces of an enemy country).
.- This clause causes me a little anxiety. It relates to a class of case which, fortunately, is not common, but which does occur. This provision may operate unfairly in respect of persons in that category. The Minister may correct me if 3 am misinformed, but I understand that this is a new provision which does not occur in other legislation. It is an attempt to deprive Australian citizens of Australian citizenship if they serve in the forces of a country with which Australia is at war. The Minister has touched upon, the fringe of the subject already. Let us assume that an Australian citizen goes to Italy, that Australia becomes engaged in a war with Italy, and that by reason of his parentage, the citizen is claimed as an Italian national under the Italian law and is called up for service in the forces of the Italian Government. Under this new provision, a man in those , circumstances would be automatically deprived of Australian citizenship.
– Not automatically.
– Yes. The clause states that an Australian citizen shall cease to be an Australian citizen upon commencing to serve in the armed forces of a country at war with Australia. I should prefer to have a provision whereby such a person could be deprived of Australian citizenship in the proper circumstances. Deprivation of Australian citizenship should not be automatic. The situation could be dealt with by means of a provision in clause 21 under the heading “ Deprivation of Citizenship “. I suggest that this clause goes too far in that class of case. There may be plenty of instances of Australian citizens being caught up in the forces of another country in time of war. Such cases have occurred in the past, and I suppose that the Minister knows of examples. It would be harsh to deprive a man of his Australian citizenship out of hand by the automatic operation of this legislation on account of something which he could not help. If a man should serve in the forces of an enemy in circumstances which make him unworthy to be an Australian citizen, he should be deprived of his local citizenship. But that could be achieved under clause 21.
– The Government considers that if a man born in Australia goes to a country where he may be claimed as a national, remains there until the outbreak of war with Australia, and then serves in the armed forces of that country without insisting upon his claim to be regarded as a British subject and, in consequence of such insistence, going into internment rather than serving with the armed forces of the enemy of his country, he should not be entitled, when the war ends, to assert his claim to Australian citizenship. If we gave effect to the suggestion of the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale), we should allow such a person to have the best advantage of both sides. He could be both an enemy and a citizen of Australia at the same time. We consider that Australian citizens who are not subject to dual nationality should, in the event of war, take all the consequences of the possession of British nationality if they happen to be in the territory of the enemy. We have the cases of some young Australians who were born in South Australia of German parentage to guide us. We do not consider that such persons, having served in enemy forces, should have the right to say, immediately after the war, “ We are Australian citizens. We are in a bad situation. It is the obligation of the Australian Government to bring us back to Australia “. Up to date, I have refused to give assistance of any sort to people who served in the German armed forces and have since claimed that, under dual nationality, they were both German nationals and British nationals. I have treated them fairly, I hope, but I have not given them the same advantage as I have given to other Australians who were stranded in Germany but who went into internment during the war and afterwards asked for the assistance of the Australian Government to return home.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 20 agreed to.
Clause 21 (Deprivation of citizenship).
Mr. HARRISON (Wentworth- Acting Leader of the Opposition). - This clause states - ( 1. ) Where the Minister is satisfied that an Australian citizen who is such by registration or is a naturalized person -
has shown himself by act or speech to be disloyal or disaffected towards His Majesty;
This applies to a person who is an Australian citizen by registration or naturalization. Therefore, I assume that, if a naturalized person did what was recently done in Queensland by a well-known Communist, the Minister for Immigration would have power to deprive him immediately of Australian citizenship. Unless paragraph a can be made to apply retrospectively, the clause will have no application to anything that has happened in the past, but will apply only to what may happen in the future. Paragraph b is perfectly clear. Obviously it will have retrospective effect. I know that many persons were engaged in activities during World War I. and World War II. which would be covered by paragraph b. I assume that the Minister will have discretionary power to take action retrospectively under the clause if he so desires. In fact, it may be mandatory for him to do so. I hope that the Minister will clarify the situation, because the points which I have raised are of special importance. I believe that a person who can find no good in the country of his adoption should no longer adopt that country and should not be adopted by it. It is fitting and proper that such a person should be divested of his citizenship rights. If he cannot live happily and harmoniously in the country, obeying its laws, he has no place in the country and has no right to take advantage of citizenship of it. The same thing applies, perhaps not to the same degree, to persons who have traded with an enemy. Obviously, any man who trades with an enemy connives at the destruction of his own country and therefore should be divested of his citizenship rights. I hope that the Minister will clarify the intention of this clause and state what powers he will have to deal retrospectively with persons of the kinds specified in the paragraphs which I have quoted.
– This clause deals with an Australian citizen who is Australian by registration or by naturalization. It does not affect an Australian who is an Australian by birth. The contention of the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) is correct. If a person has acted detrimentally to Australia in time of war, even during the war that recently ended, he will be subject to any disciplinary power that the Minister may exercise under this law.
– Any war?
– Yes, either in the future or in the past. Any person who is an Australian by registration or by naturalization and who “has shown himself by act or speech to be disloyal or disaffected towards His Majesty” will be affected. That refers not only to persons who may show themselves to be disloyal or disaffected in the future, but also to those who have shown themselves in recent times, or even in remote times in the past, to be disloyal or disaffected. Any such person would be liable to deprivation of Australian citizenship. I think that that is perfectly clear. The honorable member’s interpretation of the clause is correct. However, deprivation of citizenship does not involve any derogation of a man’s status as a British national or a British subject, and there is no power in this bill, or in any other legislation, according to the judgment of the High Court in the Walsh-Johansen case, whereby an Australian Government can deport such persons from Australia if they are
British subjects. Under another bill, aliens who have shown disaffection or behaved in a manner which, whilst not showing disaffection towards the King, shows that they are persons who should no longer be allowed to remain members of the Australian community, that is, that they are guilty of conduct prejudicial to the good order and government of the people, will be dealt with. I think that the meaning of the clause is clear, and I ask the committee to accept it.
.- Paragraph a of sub-clause 1 reads -
There is no reference to period in that sub-clause. I point out that a naturalized or registered person may havelived in this country for upwards of 40 years, and may be as much an Australian citizen as is any other person in the community. Does the Government intend that this sub-clause shall operate against such a person? Although the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), when replying to an aspect of this matter that was raised by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) a moment ago, used the phrase “ in recent times “’ I point out that that phrase does not appear in this clause.
– I also said “ in remote times “.
– Is it intended that the sub-clause shall operate against a reputable citizen who has lived for a long time in this country?
– As the clause stands, yes. A person who becomes an Australian citizen by registration or naturalization will be liable to lose his Australian citizenship if at any time in the future he shows by disaffection that he is not fit to he an Australian citizen, even though he may have lived in this country for 40 years.
– It is not so punitive as it may sound. The Minister has made it perfectly clear that the provision is that such a person shall be deprived of Australian citizenship. Recently the Minister defined an Australian citizen as “ one who has full unrestricted rights under Australian law “. After six months? residence in this country such a person could exercise the franchise, and even stand for election as a member of parliament. A British subject who had been registered in Australia as an Australian citizen, could be deprived of his citizenship right under the clause, but at the same time retain the right to exercise the franchise and stand for election to Parliament. In effect he would be prevented from saying, “ I am an Australian “, but suffer no other restriction.
– That is, a British-born person.
– That applies to any person who may apply for registration. There seems to be some doubt about who may by registration obtain Australian citizenship rights. Any person who has acquired the citizenship of any one of the Dominions specified in this measure can by registration acquire Australian citizenship. He is a British subject and therefore automatically acquires the full citizenship rights of an Australian, which are not curtailed. All that can be done is to deprive him of the right to call himself an Australian. There is nothing more in it than that.
– I think that is right.
.- I direct the attention of the committee to the provision that a person may be deprived of Australian citizenship by order of the Minister. Sub-clause 3 reads -
Before making an order on any of the grounds set out in paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d ) of sub-section (1.) of this section, the Minister shall give to the person in respect of whom the order is proposed to be made a notice in writing informing him of the ground on which the order may be made . . .
The matter then goes before a committee of inquiry. Sub-clause 5 provides -
The practice and procedure and the powers, rights and privileges of a committee appointed under this section shall be as prescribed.
Since citizenship may be acquired by an executive act, withdrawal of citizenship should likewise be by an executive act. I have no objection to the general grounds on which a person should be deprived of citizen ship, as are contained in sub-clause 1 of the clause. The point that I seek to make stems from my experience when Minister for the Army, in which position I had control of internees, in relation to whom in time of war any doubt was resolved in favour of the country. I frequently felt - and I emphasize “ felt “ - in those cases, that men who were charged with being, and who were interned on the ground of being, guilty of conduct inimical to the interests of the country, and who had to appear before tribunals, should have indicated to them precisely the grounds on which they were interned. I can see reasons why that is defensible in times of war. We deal here with provisions that are applicable in times of peace.
Paragraph d of sub-clause 1 provides -
That provision seems altogether unsatisfactory from the point of view of plain British justice. The word “ character “ is as wide as the wind. If the provision is strictly observed and construed as its normal meaning indicates, all that need be done in the case of a person deprived of citizenship under the provisions of paragraph d would be to tell him that it was proposed to deprive him of citizenship, upon the ground that on the date on which he was registered or naturalized he was not of good character. If the provisions of sub-clause 1 are invoked, reasonable opportunity should be given to the person charged to prepare an answer to the charge. In other words, if we want to make Australian citizenship something worth having, we should not lightly take it from people-
– Hear, hear !
– Naturalized Australian citizens should be able to feel that under the process of British law they are, if I may use the vernacular so well understood by the Australian people, given a “ fair go “. I shall be satisfied if the Minister will give me an undertaking that this provision will be administered along those lines and that within a reasonable time before persons whose Australian citizenship is sought to be taken from them appear before the committee they will be given sufficient and satisfactory particulars of the grounds on which it is proposed to deprive them of their Australian citizenship.
– I give the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) the assurance that he seeks. When the regulations are made prescribing the practice and procedure and the powers, rights and privileges of the committee are being drafted we will incorporate the principles he has enunciated, which are interpreted by Australians generally as, again in the vernacular, giving “ a fair go “ to the person against whom charges have been laid and upon whom the obligation has been placed to defend his right of maintenance of his citizenship.
.- I should like the Minister to take the matter a step further. What is proposed to be done about the matter of the Minister’s acting upon the recommendations of the committee? Nothing is said about whether or not the Minister shall act upon the recommendations or findings of the committee.
– I think so.
– Well, I cannot find it.
– Sub-clause 1 states -
Where the Minister is satisfied that an Australian citizen who is such by registration or is a naturalized person . . . the Minister may, by order, deprive that citizen of his Australian citizenship. . . .
Sub-clause 3 provides that in certain circumstances notice shall be given to a person who is threatened with being deprived of his citizenship. Sub-clause 4 provides -
For the purposes of this section, the GovernorGeneral may appoint a committee of inquiry, the chairman of which shall be . . .
The sub-clause goes on to state the qualifications of the person who shall be chairman. Sub-clause 5 states -
The practice and (procedure and the powers, rights and privileges of a committee appointed under this section shall be as prescribed.
Can the honorable member imagine that if a committee of inquiry recommended in favour of a person’s retention of citizenship, the Minister would not act Upon the recommendation?
– I do not know. I was interested to hear the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) raise the subject of the tribunals that were appointed during the war to hear objections to internment. I take the same illustration a step further. Early in the war I was a member of one of those tribunals for several months in the course of which hundreds of aliens appeared before the tribunal making application for release from internment. They had been interned under regulation 29, I think it was, and they were seeking release. As the honorable member for Warringah said, there were great difficulties, and sometimes even great injustices were done to those applicants, because they did not know the case against them.
– That is very true.
– It is very true. I feel deeply about it, because I well remember that very early in the war, before I was appointed to the tribunal, I appeared as counsel before the tribunal presided over by Mr. Justice Davidson which had to hear applications by British subjects interned, under regulation 29. I appeared for an Australianborn British subject of Italian parentage who had been interned under regulation No. 29 and who had appealed. It was one of the most painful experiences of my professional career to appear in a case for a man who was stoutly defending his loyalty and to have no knowledge at all of what the case was against him. The regulations were so stringent that we had to show cause in a case without any cause being given to us. That man was unsuccessful before the tribunal. He went into internment for years. We continued the fight outside the tribunal in the sphere of politics and ultimately succeeded in obtaining his release. Long afterwards it was disclosed that he had been interned, although an Australianborn British subject, as the result of tittle-tattle arising from the personal vindictiveness of people who were his enemies.
– That is true of 90 per cent, of the internments.
– I do not agree.
– Neither do I.
– Order! The Chair will not allow a debate about internments during the war. The honorable member for Parramatta has pursued that matter far enough.
– Anyway, that was an experience that I do not want to have repeated. Another feature of those tribunals was that, although they made recommendations for the release of people from internment-
– Order ! I have ruled that the honorable member has pursued that line of argument far enough. He has satisfied the committee about the point that he is trying to make. This is not a debate on internments during the war.
– Very well, sir. I come back to the clause. It is very necessary with a tribunal of this sort that not only should a man know the case against him, but also that, if the tribunal makes a finding, there shall be some obligation on the Minister to abide by it. After all, the committee will be a judicial tribunal presided over by a justice of the High Court or the Supreme Court. In my experience, in another jurisdiction, to which I have made a passing reference, we had cases in which, notwithstanding the unanimous finding of the tribunal in favour of the applicant, the Minister of the day simply turned the papers over and declined to act on the recommendation. That is another aspect of the desire of the honorable member for Warringah that people shall be given “ a fair go “. They should know the charges against them and when the tribunal has made its findings the Minis- rpr should act upon them.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 22 (Deprivation of Australian
Ri’tizenship of persons deprived of citizenship elsewhere).
– Thi3 is an interesting clause when read in conjunction with clause 21. I do not see the value of these clauses or what they intend to convey. This clause, according to its verbiage, gives the right to the Minister to deprive an Australian citizen of citizenship rights if he commits an offence in another country. It reads -
Where an Australia citizen who -
is a naturalized person; and
was a citizen of a country to which section seven of this Act applies and has, under a provision of the law of the country of which he was such a citizen, been deprived of citizenship of that country on grounds which, in the opinion of the Minister, are substantially similar to any of the grounds specified in sub-section (1.) of the last preceding section, the Minister may, if he is satisfied that it is not conductive to the public good that that person should continue to be an Australian citizen, by order, deprive that person of his Australian citizenship, and thereupon that person shall cease to be an Australian citizen.
For the sake of argument, let me cite a person who has committed an offence in Canada. That would’ have an accumulative effect against him if he committed a similar act in Australia. Surely, the power taken in clause 21 is sufficient for all purposes. For this provision to be of any value it will be necessary for reciprocal provisions to be inserted in the legislation of other parts of the British Empire so that a person guilty of an offence in, say, both Australia and Canada will be deprived not only of his Australian citizenship, but also of his Canadian citizenship, and if he offends in, say, Southern Rhodesia, the same thing will happen there. But where does all this get us? The fact remains that such a person will still he a British subject and may continue to exercise to the full his Australian citizenship rights. He could become a member of this Parliament.
– What justification has the honorable member for saying that?
– The Minister has made it perfectly clear that such a person could exercise the franchise and even become a member of this Parliament. All that happens to him is that he is deprived of his citizenship. He may not call himself a Canadian citizen, an Australian citizen or a United Kingdom and colonies citizen; nevertheless, he may continue to exercise all the rights of citizenship. I do not know what value can be placed on such a provision. I can understand any action which may be taken by the Government of a country to deprive a man not only of his citizenship but also of all the rights that go with it, irrespective of whether or not he is a British subject.
If that were done he could establish citizenship in any part of the Empire and exercise his citizenship rights there. If a man be guilty of an offence which deprives him of his citizenship he should be denied all the privileges that go with citizenship.
– Clause 21 deals with deprivation of citizenship. This clause deals with the deprivation of the citizenship rights of people who, being Australian citizens, reside outside Australia and offend against the laws of another country in such a way as to make them subject to certain disabilities and penalties.
– That provision is the same as the provision in the British act.
– That is so. We copied the British act in that respect. We do not want Australian citizens who have been found guilty of an offence in another country and who have been punished for their misdeeds, saying, “It does not matter very much; I am still an Australian citizen “. The observations of the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) deal with a situation which is more technical than real.
– Of what rights would such a person be deprived?
– What particular privileges does Australian citizenship confer upon a man in addition to what he might already possess as a British subject?
– That is the very point that I made earlier.
– We have discussed that matter before. The position is clearly set out in the explanatory memorandum circulated to honorable members. The clause as it stands deals with naturalized persons who previously were citizens of another country and accordingly it relates to persons who originally were aliens. The clause reads -
Where an Australian citizen who - <6) was a citizen of a country to which section seven of this Act applies -
Obviously such a citizen was originally an alien and had obtained Australian citi zenship by registration. In respect of an alien who went to another British country and became a naturalized British subject and later came to Australia, the clause provides that if the other British country revokes the naturalization he shall cease to be a British subject.
.- I repeat what I have said often before, that this bill itself does not confer any special rights on any citizen. It is designed solely to indicate those people who come under the protection of this Commonwealth. If that concept be kept clearly in our minds we shall be able to understand what the clause means. In certain circumstances we give to persons not born in Australia the right of Australian citizenship. That is an executive act which should be capable of being withdrawn by a counter executive act. It is true that where, under sub-clause 2 of clause 7, another country withdraws from a particular person the citizenship of that country, the Minister may exercise certain discretionary powers. For my part I believe that the Minister should have such discretionary powers. They will, I suppose, be exercised in the same way as are his discretionary powers under the Immigration Act. The Government should have the right to determine whether the executive shall give protection to persons who are not Australian citizens by birth. Each of these clauses should be considered in the light of the fact that this legislation confers no special rights whatever. It merely defines who are citizens of this country and who shall be given the protection of this country against other nations.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 23 and 24 agreed to.
Clause 25 (Transitional provisions).
– Earlier in the debate the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) asked me to define in more simple language than that used in the bill the position of persons born in the United Kingdom who are in Australia when this bill becomes law, or who may have been residing in Australia for five years when the bill becomes law, or who come to Australia at some period subsequent to the bill becoming law. The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) had said earlier that such persons may not want to become Australian citizens. Briefly, the position may be summarized as follows: Those who have been residing in Australia during the five years immediately preceding the commencement of this legislation will, under this clause, become Australian citizens automatically, without having to make any application for registration. Those who come from the United Kingdom will remain citizens of the United Kingdom also. In other words, they will have dual citizenship. Dual citizenship is inevitable in legislation of this sort. Those who have been in Australia for less than five years will not become Australian citizens automatically. If they wish to become Australian citizens, they will have to apply for registration. Under another clause the Minister is empowered to register them after they they have been resident in Australia for twelve months, and in practice he may do so.
– May I ask a question of the Minister?
– The Minister said that dual citizenship is inevitable.
– Order ! The honorable member may not argue with the Minister by interjection.
– I had the Minister’s permission to ask him a question.
– Order ! The honorable member did not have the permission of the Chair.
– Even if persons who have not been here for five years do not apply for registration, they will not lose any material benefits in Australia. They will still be British subjects and, as such, will be entitled to the franchise, to social service benefits and, if they be qualified, to certain benefits under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act and the Re-establishment and Employment Act. However, when such persons proceed overseas, they will have to rely for diplomatic protection upon the representatives of the country in which they were born, and not upon Australian representatives. Australian citizens pro ceeding to the United Kingdom will be entitled to the same rights in that country as they have enjoyed in the past. Those rights are reciprocal. Such rights, for instance, as employment in the Civil Service of Great Britain, eligibility for public office in the United Kingdom and all other material benefits are preserved to them.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 26 agreed to.
Clause 27 (Women who have ceased to be British subjects by reason of marriage).
, - This is what might be called the culminating clause of all those dealing with the nationality of married women. I should be churlish if I allowed this opportunity to pass without expressing the gratification of women’s organizations in Australia, as well as my own gratification, at the action of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) in regard to this matter, which has exercised the minds of women for a long time, and has been the subject of discussion between various governments, particularly those of the British Commonwealth. It has been discussed at Imperial conferences over a long period, and notably during the regime of the Lyons Government, when it was raised on two occasions. It was found impracticable then, because of certain laws by which the Government of the United Kingdom believed itself to be bound, to carry to a proper conclusion the proposal of the Australian Government that free nationality rights should be given to married women. Under this bill, all the disabilities which previously existed are to be removed, at least so far as the British Commonwealth is concerned. This is the direct outcome of the action of the Minister in initiating in Australia a process which was later taken up by other British Commonwealth countries. Finally, it was thrashed out at a conference in London. The Minister spoke of a committee consisting of representatives of certain women’s organizations. Senator Dorothy Tangney was chairman and I was a member of that committee. So far as I can see, the recommendations of the committee have all been embodied in the bill, and 1 express my gratification that that is so. In passing, I direct attention to the fact that the committee, which dealt with problems of enormous magnitude, problems which had exercised the minds of statesmen and interested persons over a great many years, met and settled all the business before it in the space of one and a half hours. That result was a triumphant vindication of the intellectual perspicacity of the members of the committee, and an indication of their determination to get the business done. Their recommendations gained the approval of the Australian Government and of the other governments concerned. Obviously, the recommendations, having been accepted by the Australian Government, and having been adopted by the London conference, must have met with the general approval of governments throughout the British Commonwealth of Nations. Having said that, I have expressed, in part at least, the sentiments of women interested in the matter, and have paid a well-deserved tribute to the Minister for having initiated the process that, so far as Australia is concerned, finds its culmination in this bill.
– I thank the honorable member for her compliment. When this legislation was first introduced, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) suggested that I might appoint an ad hoc committee of representatives of women’s organizations, including the first two women members of the Commonwealth Parliament, to consider the whole subject of women’s disabilities in regard to nationality law. I accepted the suggestion. The committee met, expeditiously despatched its work, and brought in an excellent report which was referred to London. The fact that Australia had taken the initiative in this matter moved the Government of the United Kingdom and the other dominion governments to take action. That phase of nationality law, plus the question of citizenship raised by Canada as a distinctive feature of the nationality laws of all dominions, formed the body of the work of the Imperial Conference in 1946, and of the nationality experts subsequently. I derive great pleasure from being associated with the consideration by the committee of this clause. I am glad that women’s organizations throughout Australia and the British Commonwealth will now feel that women suffer no disability by virtue of the act of marriage. I can remember as a boy ten years of age going with my mother to a registrar to whom she paid ls., in return for which she received a paper which conferred upon her the right to vote. Without it she would not have been able to vote. I still keep that document as a treasured family possession.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 28 to 40 agreed to.
Clause 41 -
The Minister may make arrangements for the oath of allegiance under this Act to be taken in public before a judicial officer and to be accompanied by proceedings designed to impress upon applicants the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship.
– I move -
That the words “ judicial officer “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “Justice, Judge 6r Magistrate of the Commonwealth or of » State or Territory “.
This is a drafting amendment designed to make it clear that judicial officers of the State as well as of the Commonwealth may preside over a ceremony for the administration of the oath of allegiance. This is the clause which, for the first time, establishes the procedure by which certificates of naturalization will be conferred by an officer of a court, a Supreme Court judge, a judge of another court or a police magistrate. The clause abolishes the system under which persons receive certificates of naturalization through the post.
.- It is very important that, when a person who otherwise is an alien becomes a citizen of this country, he shall do so in circumstances which will make him realize what a privilege is being conferred upon him. I have always believed that the system under which an applicant for naturalization merely advertises his intention in the newspapers, and ultimately receives a certificate through the post, is not calculated to impress upon his mind the value of what he is receiving. Therefore, I strongly support the proposal that naturalization papers shall be conferred in such a way as to impress upon the recipient that he is joining a body of free people with a great, if short, history. I hope that, in so doing, we shall remove many of the differences that have too often distinguished naturalized Australian citizens from Australian-born citizens. I have seen justices of the peace taking the oath in public before a judicial officer, usually a judge. The oath is often administered to many of them at the same time. They file into the court, the judge reads the oath to them, they file out again, and that is all there is to it. I believe that to be meaningless. They are being called upon to discharge important functions. The oath is something of importance, but I have often felt that its full importance is not properly conveyed to them. It would be very wrong if the oath of allegiance were to be administered to a new citizen in that way. I have seen this ceremony of the granting of citizenship performed in other countries, and the flag of the country to which allegiance was being sworn was raised with due ceremonial. If the atmosphere or the drama of the ceremony is correct, the new citizen is given some sense of the heritage into which he is entering.
.- The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), in debating this measure, has taken a broad national point of view. That has been particularly evident in relation to this clause. A committee of the Immigration Advisory Council, on which were representatives of all sections of Australian opinion, considered the form that this ceremony should take. Having studied the rather flamboyant ceremonies in America and Canada, it came to the conclusion that we require a more dignified, quiet and typically Australian court ceremony, in which these fortunate people can receive the accolade of Australianism. The decision of the committee was referred to the council, which passed it on to the Minister, who approved of it. The ceremony must have basic dignity and natural drama, and should be conducted with the understatement that is essential to the dignity that we are seeking. Those conditions can be obtained in a court in which the new citizens assemble, where the flag is shown in a simple but dignified way, and where a charge is read by the justice on the bench. I agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Warringah regarding the swearing in of justices of the peace. Because of the numbers involved, there is sometimes a diminution of the simple dignity of the proceedings. I am sure that that will not occur in the case of new citizens under the administration of the present Minister, who has attempted so much in the field of migration. We want to convey our feeling for Australia to the new citizens. Honorable members need have no fear that the ceremony will lack anything in dignity, simplicity or, and this is very important, true significance. We could have blaring bands, flights of doves and so on, but that would be mere showmanship. What is required is the traditional British and Australian understatement. We are advancing from the stage when people could become Australian citizens by correspondence. They received a little parchment document by registered post, and then proceeded to form the proprietary family company that they had in mind when they applied for naturalization. The new citizens will be receiving a gift, and there is no reason why the gift should not be bestowed upon them with due dignity. There could be nothing better than the simple dignity of formal court proceedings, with the justice on the bench welcoming the new citizens with a charge upon Australianism. There should be no mass-produced certificates or handouts. For the sake of the sentiment towards Australia of the thousands of people who will eventually become Australian citizens, we must ensure that this ceremonial will lose none of its significance.
– The committee to which the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has referred will have some influence with the Minister in regard to the regulations that are made under this measure, and I express my satisfaction with the statement by the honorable gentleman that the Australian flag will appear in this ceremony. It seems to me that a symbol is very necessary in matters such as this, and, indeed, in all matters of human interest. There is much sense in sentiment, if only we could see it, and this measure recognizes that fact. I believe that hitherto in Australia there has not been sufficient appreciation of the importance of our flag as a symbol. I have had many pleasant discussions with the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) on this matter, which is one on which he feels very strongly, and I am sure that if he were present this afternoon he would give his warm support to the clause.
.- It is not my desire to see a flamboyant ceremony, but it must be one that really means something. I agree with what was said by the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons). Sentiment is one of the inescapable psychological factors in the make-up of any individual.
– And of any nation.
– Yes. I prefer to stand firmly upon the rock of nationhood rather than in the shifting sands of internationalism. “When one talks in general terms of going before a justice and taking the oath of allegiance, the impression is created that that is necessarily a dignified ceremony. The clause provides that the oath shall be taken before a judicial officer. It would be a pity if a man who was seeking naturalization were to go to a magistrate’s court to take part in what should be the most impressive and important ceremony of his life, only to find the court full of drunkards, vagrants and other undesirables. We are poorly equipped with impressive courts for our judicial proceedings. The ordinary courts are small and are crowded with litigants and witnesses. Their atmosphere would destroy what I believe we all have in mind. I hope that, whatever ceremony is decided apon, it will not be a flamboyant one, but that it will convey to the person who seeks to become an Australian citizen that a great privilege is being conferred upon him and that he is entering into a great tradition. I do not believe that that can be done before the average court to-day. I am criticizing, not the judicial officers, but the conditions in which they operate. These will, in my opinion, be destructive of the purpose for which this clause is designed.
– The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has written to the Premiers of all the States seeking their full co-operation in the establishment of a proper procedure, and each of the Premiers has replied that he and his government will be happy to co-operate with the Commonwealth Department of Immigration in the conferring of naturalization certificates inthe manner that we desire. We are evolving a scheme under which each court will confer the naturalization certificates, apart from its general work of administration.
– At a special ceremony?
– Yes. In response to our request, all the States have agreed that the Australian flag shall be given pride of place in the court during such a ceremony, and that appropriate addresses shall be delivered. We are doing everything we can to fashion the machinery to ensure that the ceremony shall be neither flamboyant nor truculent, but shall live in the memory of, not only the person upon whom the honour of citizenship is conferred, but also his wife and children, who will be encouraged to witness the ceremony, and feel that the whole family is becoming a part of what we, in our hearts, believe to be the greatest nation on earth.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 42 to 52 agreed to.
Clause 53 -
The Governor-General may make regulations … in particular, for or in relation to- (g)…
the prescribing of penalties . .
– I move -
That, after paragraph (fir), the following paragraph be inserted: - ” (ga) the conditions upon which persons may render, for reward, services in respect of applications under this Act including the charges which may be made in respect of any such service; “.
The amendment is designed to enable regulations to be made prescribing the conditions under which agents may
Act for persons applying for such facilities as registration or naturalization as citizens. Under a companion measure, the Immigration Bill, the Parliament, I hope, will give to the executive the power to compel agents who deal in immigration matters to register with the Department of Immigration. It is desirable that persons acting as agents for people applying for such facilities as registration or naturalization shall be similarly controlled. Experience has shown that some unscrupulous agents may take advantage of applicants, particularly aliens, by charging exorbitant fees. Some agents are not averse to conveying to their clients the impression that, as in some continental countries, bribery is rampant in government departments and the large fees, which they demand, are necessary to ensure a favorable decision from the department. To counteract this, it is proposed that agents shall be registered with the department and that the Minister shall have power to refuse to register or to cancel the registration of an agent who is known to have engaged in such malpractice.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That, in paragraph (h), the word “prescribing” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “imposition”.
This is purely a drafting amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move -
That, after paragraph (h), the following paragraph be inserted: - “ (j) the investing of any court of a State with federal jurisdiction to order reparation for loss suffered by reason of any offence against this Act or the regulations.”.
This amendment is linked with the earlier amendment dealing with the registration of agents. The regulations regarding agents will provide that applicants may claim reparation for loss caused by the malpractice of their agents. The amendment is necessary to enable a court of a State to be invested with jurisdiction to order such reparation.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
First and Second Schedules agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now reada third time.
I thank all honorable members for the patience that they have shown and the co-operation that they have extended to me in passing this most intricate, complicated, and important piece of legislation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 21st October (vide page 2011), on motion by Mr. Calwell -
That the bill be now read a secondtime.
.- In his second-reading speech, the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) advanced reasons why power should be given to the Government to deport certain aliens, who, having come to this country, have been guilty of conduct which should deprive them of any right to the protection of the law, but who, nonetheless, under the existing law, are able to escape deportation. I am not at issue with the Government on the general principles of the bill. My criticism will be confined to clause 5. The deportation of any individual, whether he be a citizen or an alien, is a matter of supreme significance to himself and his family. Consequently, the power of deportation should be neither lightly given nor lightly exercised. It is true that, under our law, an alien has not the same rights as has a natural-born citizen, or a citizen who has acquired the protection of this country by naturalization, but the development of British justice has produced significant features. One is that, while an alien is living in a country, he owes at least a qualified, if not a complete allegiance to the government which gives him protection. Another is that he is obliged to observe the law that is applicable to all the citizens of the land and even if he does not enjoy the same rights as those which are accorded to ordinary citizens, he is given substantial protection by the Government. If honorable members will examine the bill, they will notice that the Minister is given an extraordinary power in relation to the deportation of certain aliens. I do not contend that with proper safeguards such power is not proper, but I invite honorable members to examine the clause. Sub-clause 1 provides -
If it appears to the Minister that the conduct and character of an alien is such that that alien should not be allowed to remain in Australia, the Minister may, by notice in writing, summon the alien to appear before a Commissioner, at the time and place specified in the summons.
T do not contest the right nor the necessity to have power to call upon an alien, whose conduct and character are such that he. should no longer enjoy the protection of this country, to give an account of himself. I direct the attention of the committee, however, to the importance of the words “ conduct and character of the alien “, because that is relevant to what I shall say at a later stage. The meaning of those words is very wide indeed. A Minister may say, “I do not like your conduct in this, that or the other capacity “. I stress the word “ conduct “. Any government representative could say, ‘ I do not like the conduct of this man in a political capacity in this country”. The objection might quite readily, and in my view, properly apply to a man engaged in a communistic activity in this country. The provision should be wide because of the difficulty of classifying, in particular, the types of men who, because of their conduct and character, should no longer be permitted to enjoy the privilege of residence in this country. Sub-clause 2 reads -
A Commissioner for the purposes of this section shall be appointed by the GovernorGeneral and shall be a person who is or has been a judge of the Supreme Court of a State or of a territory which forms part of the Commonwealth.
There can be no complaint against that sub-clause. The gist of my complaint, concerns sub-clause 3, which reads -
The Commissioner shall make a thorough investigation of the conduct and character of the alien -without regard to legal forms and shall not be bound by any rules of evidence, but may inform himself on any relevant matter in such manner as he thinks fit.
I have noticed over the years the continual adoption of the insidious practice of giving power over individuals to the executive, by providing that they may have control over their lives, liberty and property, without regard to legal form. I suppose no government can escape some degree of culpability for this tendency. In. some very special instances it may be justified. I always strive against that tendency. I point out that when a man is deported, the innocents, his wife and children, have to go with him because of economic circumstances and necessity. For that reason, it is very hard to justify the conferring of arbitrary power to deport.
– Surely this is not giving power to the executive. A commissioner will be appointed.
– Power is to be given to a commissioner to make a recommendation, and the Minister’s action will be determined -by that recommendation. My criticism of this clause is based on the fact that the commissioner will have power to inquire without regard to legal formality. There is no provision in this measure that a person shall, at the time at which he is summoned to appear, be informed of the charges that he will be called upon to answer. Although I do not want to repeat what I have already said in a previous debate. I urge that if a person is called upon to appear before a commissioner at a certain time and place, he should have indicated to him the charges that he will be called upon to answer. I point out that questions relating to his conduct and character as an alien may range over a long period of years. I ask that the bill be reframed to meet my criticism before it is considered by the Senate. I do not consider that an alien who has lived in this country for many years and who, for reasons best determined by himself, has never become naturalized - it may be that such an act would disqualify him for nationality elsewhere - should be suddenly tailed upon to attend before a commissioner, without having been given notice of the charges that he will be called upon to answer. When the liberty of an individual is being dealt with, it is hard to justify his being called upon suddenly to appear before a tribunal and answer questions at large relating to his past life. Human memory is faulty. I point out that in many instances such a man may be asked questions based primarily on information supplied by informers, a class against which we must fight. He could be asked questions such as. “Did yen, five or ten years a.go; associate with so-and-so? “ or Is it a fact that on suchandsuch an occasion you were with soandso, and then expressed views along certain lines ? “. Those are commonplace question which arise in ordinary intelligence matters. Who of this committee could, with confidence, appear at short notice before a tribunal and answer any question covering many years of life and based probably on false information about us, which had been supplied by informers? I remind the committee that under this provision an obligation will rest on the commissioner to make a thorough investigation of the conduct and character of the person charged. He may do so without regard to legal forms, and will not be bound by rules of evidence. It seems to me that we should at all times assert the ordinary rule of judicial conduct, unless overriding considerations of security of the country are involved. I am advancing the cause of British justice rather than that of an individual. I see no reason why, if a man is charged with an offence, which may involve his compulsory deportation from this country, he should not, subject in special cases to considerations of security, be informed at the time that he is summoned, of what he will be called upon to answer, the ordinary processes of law to be followed thereafter. I firmly believe that it is- very wrong to introduce legislation of this type. I concede that we are dealing with aliens and that it may be asked, “ What rights have aliens?” But, from time immemorial in the history of British jurisprudence, of which our jurisprudence is a part, we have endeavoured to extend to aliens, within our realms, the protection and forms of British justice. So, I record my objection to the clause as framed. I appreciate that a problem not without difficulties is being dealt with, but principles have to be observed. I point out that the gravamen of the charge that an alien will have to answer under this particular clause with which I am dealing will relate to his conduct and character. Those words are so wide that they can convey nothing to the man charged unless the particulars of the charge relating to his conduct and ch° ‘;:> ter arc supplied to him prior to -L: appearance before the rnm- To withhold those particulars would be obviously harsh and unjust. It is also quite wrong, in my view, that the commissioner, however eminent and able he may be, should be entitled to inform himself, unless the question of security arises, from any source without applying the rules of evidence. I remember very well that when I was in charge of security in this country I dealt with one file compiled by official informers. I am not using the word, in this instance, in any sinister sense. The file was compiled by people whose obligation was to make reports to the Government. One agent of the Government reported that a person should be interned as a fascist. When I turned over the page I found that another person, also an agent of the Commonwealth, had reported that the man was a Communist. Whilst I am one who thinks that there is perhaps little difference between the two, that struck me as one of the most outstanding examples of how easily, if one relies on the information of an individual, an act of gross injustice may take place. I remember the case because it happened during my occupancy of the ministerial office that placed me”in charge of security. I determined to examine thoroughly every such matter placed before me thereafter, and I am glad to say that I did so. That example shows how easy it is to commit an injustice if acting on such unexamined information. I do not challenge the bona fides of people who make reports to the Government in the interests of the country, but reports can be based on wrong data and premises. My criticism of this bill is not directed to its principles, but I do believe that, arising out of clause 5, there are most important matters that affect the approach that we should make not only to this problem but also to many other similar problems. The Minister should not seek comfort from what has been done in the past. I know that similar things have been done. But here we are dealing with the power of compulsory deportation. It is an extensive power because it ranges over any number of years that an alien may have spent in the country and it covers the most, general grounds of character and conduct. It would be a bad thing if this country, which should maintain the high standards of British justice as our own standards, denied to a person proper information before he was charged, because that is what is proposed, for thereby the person concerned would be denied the ordinary process of judicial determination. The Minister may say, “I shall get a proper judicial determination because I shall not he able to act without a recommendation from the commissioner”, but that begs the point that I am endeavouring to make, which is that it- should not be left to the commissioner to make a recommendation in the absence of the thrust and counter thrust of the ordinary judicial process and the publicity that attracts, as we have so often seen, information from sources that we know nothing about before the process commences. These rights, which are given to a British subject, should not be lightly taken from an alien, from whom we demand observance of our laws and, at least, as I said earlier, qualified allegiance. We should extend to him in general terms, except to the extent that national considerations override, the same process of judicial determination as we extend to any subject of the land. Lest my remarks be misinterpreted, I make it clear that I am not making a special plea for aliens. I am making a plea for the maintenance of the principles of British justice.
.- Clause 5 seems to be the only clause that introduces a new principle. I understand that the word “ alien “ is defined as it is in the Nationality and Citizenship Bill, with which we have just dealt. That is to say, “ alien “ means a person who is not a British subject, an Irish citizen or a protected person. The most important sub-clause is that referred to by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), which deals with the investigation of “ conduct and character ‘* of the alien without regard to legal forms. The sub-clause provides that the commissioner - shall not be bound by any rules of evidence, but may inform himself on any relevant matter in such manner as he thinks fit.
After the investigation the commissioner is to make a recommendation to the Minister and if he reports that the alien is not a fit and proper person to be allowed to remain in Australia, the Minister may,, but is not bound to, make an order for his deportation. The Immigration Act and the Crimes Act set out variousgrounds for deportation and although, inmy opinion, the relevant sections of thoseacts are had, from the point of view of theliberty of the subject, particularly when they deal with political and industrial offences. The person to be deported must: be shown to have committed certain specified misdeeds as the basis for the judgment of the Minister in ordering deportation. But in this bill there is no definition of or limitation on what conduct or aspects of character are to be considered. I remind honorable members. of the caseof Mrs. Freer. If that case is recalled, we can see what might happen under these provisions. Some Minister orsome commissioner might consider in, the future that similar conduct, supposed or real, rendered an alien not fit to remain in Australia, or the Minister or- the commissioner might consider particular political views rendered a person not fit or proper to remain in Australia.
– The Minister at the time could have put Mrs. Freer out of the country, but this bill provides a protection in the person of the commissioner.
– Yes, I agree. What I am discussing, though, is a consideration of the conduct and character of a particular type of an alien under this hill. Moreover, the Minister or the commissioner might consider that particular political views rendered a person not fit or proper to be allowed to remain in the country, even when that person’s conduct did not bring him within the deportation provisions of the Immigration Act and the Crimes Act. Wide powers are taken in this clause and there is a danger of there being unjustifiable political discrimination against aliens of long residence in Australia who have not yet achieved citizenship. The Crimes Act and Immigration Act contain sections that are quite wide enough without the need for these provisions. There is sufficient authority in the existing law to deal with aliens. In clause 5 of the bill there is, as the honorable member for Warringah has said, a lack of proper protection of an alien. The commissioner may inform himself on matters prejudicial to the alien from sources not disclosed to the alien and the alien may be deprived of any opportunity of answering those matters. This is a departure from the normal legal procedure when the liberty of an individual is at stake. I am sure that some alteration could be made whereby such an objectionable feature would be removed from the bill.
– I do not agree with the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) that the Crimes Act and other statutes provide sufficient machinery to deal with the deportation of aliens. I approve in principle with this bill because, in common with other honorable members, I have drawn attention to a case in Sydney that illustrates the necessity for such a bill as this. The general provisions of the bill meet with my approval, but I most warmly criticize clause 5, to which the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) has directed our attention. If clause 5 remains in the bill, unaccompanied by an undertaking by the Minister to look into the matter, I must voteagainst the bill, because I consider that the clause is fundamental. This matter of deportation involves drastic and, onemight say, disastrous power over the persons threatened with deportation. I should imagine that short of death nomore serious fate could overcome a mam living in a country than that by Executive act he should be banished from it and prevented from returning to it. In the ordinary course of law, if one mam defames another, the man defamed has his remedy. If a man commits a criminal1 act against another man, the State will take action against him. If one man breaks a contract with another man, the injured man may take action against him_ So it goes on. In each of such events the ordinary rules of law and the ordinary rules of procedure are applicable. In no case, except this sort of case, is it thought necessary to waive the ordinary rules of evidence and procedure. Clause 5 is very largely a procedural matter. The long-standing, traditional, accepted rules of procedure and methods of proof are to be, or may be, abrogated, and I am against that heart and soul. It strikes so deeply at the roots of ordinaryliberty that we have accepted as= being the right of every person who lives in this country that I cannot stomach it.. It is sometimes a point of criticism of lawyers and of courts of law that they have what are known as difficult rules of proof. I do not want to waste the time of this House in defending the rules of evidence which pertain in ordinary courts of law. I merely say that, inconvenient as they sometimes are for persons prosecuting and defending, they were not the creation of somebody’s unreasonable imagination. They weredeveloped and tried by experience, in many instances over hundreds of years- Let me give an illustration in the case of what we call hearsay evidence, the rule under which, normally, evidence may not be accepted against a person in a court, of law except it be about something which the person giving; evidence has himself seen, heard or felt something which comes through one or other of his senses. That rule is often inconvenient. Often we have to rule out matters of what we believe to be fact but which we cannot prove to be fact under the rules of evidence. Even though we may know in our hearts that it is true, we cannot prove it to be true by the direct methods of evidence. May be we could prove it to be true if we were able to accept what somebody said sombody else said. But that is not permissible. All of us have suffered through not being able to get evidence of that sort accepted in the courts. After hundreds of years of trial and error, however, it is still found to be best for the liberty of the citizen that we should suffer that degree of inconvenience unless we can obtain direct, as distinct from hearsay and indirect evidence, which is not completely reliable. Direct evidence can be tested, it can be cross-examined upon, and, therefore, it is the kind of evidence which is most likely to convey the real truth of the situation. Therefore, the Government should not throw overboard the need for direct evidence and adopt a looser form of procedure and less reliable methods of proof except under the gravest circumstances. The rules of direct evidence were abandoned in many of the tribunals established during World War II. Some tribunals are even operating in peace-time in which the rules of direct evidence have been abandoned; but fortunately they are very few and they are looked at askance by everybody with experience of methods of proof, and of the unreliability of the say-so of the ordinary person in the witness box whose statements cannot be tested in direct ways. I am therefore opposed to this proposal. The commissioner is directed to make a “ thorough “ investigation into the conduct and character of an alien. I do not know what the word “ thorough “ means. It seems to me that it is a supererogation, if anything is. If a judge is appointed to make an investigation, surely his investigation will be thorough. The word “ thorough “ used in this context appears to have been thrown in merely as a piece of window dressing. The judge is to make a thorough investigation of the conduct and character of an alien without regard to legal forms. He is not to be bound by any rules of evidence and he is to inform himself on any relevant matter in such manner as he thinks fit. This is exactly the sort of power that was vested in people during the war emergency. Those who had experience of it know that in many instances it was exercised very unfairly against many citizens. I have had some experience of this matter. On more than one occasion my heart sank because I was not able to get behind the curtain and learn what had been alleged against the person whom I was defending. Like a man groping in the dark, I did not know what I had to meet. If I may use a somewhat doubtful metaphor, in this instance, not. justice, but the defending party is to be blindfolded. On the other side of the picture, sitting on one of these tribunals of which I have spoken, I was appalled at the many miscarriages of justice which would have occurred had we been pre paredtoswallowat their facevalueall sortsof hearsay and double hearsaystate- mentswhichcouldhavebeenaccepted under the rules which prevailed in those tribunals. I sat on some of the internee appeal tribunals that were appointed by a former Minister for the Army, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender). We were not bound by the rules of evidence or of procedure. We were entitled to inform our minds as we thought fit, and the onus of proof was not on the prosecutor, as in the ordinary courts of law, but upon the applicant, to show cause why he should not still remain in internment. In dozens of cases informers came along and gave evidence. Their statements could not be tested and proved or disproved by the machinery and methods adopted in ordinary courts of law. If their evidence had been accepted at its face value, the internees concerned might have been condemned unheard. I cannot stomach the repetition of that procedure in respect of aliens. To all intents and purposes an alien is a citizen of this country or at any rate, is under its shelter and protection. Therefore, he is entitled to the ordinary rights of law and procedure of which other citizens have the benefit. If the rules of evidence are to be abandoned, abrogated or relaxed, so that hearsay evidence with all its contradictions and vaguenesses may be accepted, what is to be done about the onus of proof ?
– Does not the honorable member regard it as a safeguard that r.he commissioner is to be a judge of a Supreme Court? Does the honorable member fear that a judge will abandon the legal principles about which he is so concerned?
– That is a fair question. L should like to answer it in this way. There is a degree of safety in the fact that a judge of the Supreme Court will be the presiding officer. During the war judges of the ‘Supreme Courts of the States were made chairmen of some of the internee appeal tribunals to which F have referred. Those tribunals sat in time of war, and, the rules of evidence and of onus of proof being relaxed, the judges presiding not only thought they were entitled, but also under the regulations they were directed, to inform their minds as best they could. One of them who has recently retired from the Supreme Court bench found himself bound to act in that way, and did so, but with much heart-burning. The fact that he was a judge afforded the alien some degree of protection hut not enough.
– Could not the Minister at present deport a man from this country without holding an inquiry?.
– The Minister may deport certain aliens from Australia without holding an inquiry, but this bill proposes to widen his powers in that respect. If this bill becomes law he may deport certain people whom he may not deport under his existing powers. To give him authority to deport anybody from this country without inquiry seems to me to be unwise. I want to improve the position so that aliens or persons against whom this wide power may be exercised may have some rights.
– Is it not a fact that, indirectly, this Parliament would have the last say? Even if it did not have a legal say, at least it would have a moral say. If the Minister acted illegally or unjustly, the matter would come before this House eventually.
– If a judge appointed under the provisions of this bill recommends that an alien be deported, he must be deported. I agree with that. The honorable member for Warringah and I are trying to guard against a judge coming to a wrong conclusion as the result of the relaxation of the rules of evidence and, on the basis of that conclusion, unjustly recommending the deportation of an alien.
– Is the honorable member not prejudiced against this proposal because he fears that what happened during the hysteria of war may happen again in the calm days of peace?
– That is a fair interjection. I think it is not unlikely that that may occur. I hesitate to intrude my personal experiences into a debate of this kind, but I cannot help reminding the honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha) that during more than twenty years’ .experience in the legal profession I have seen much injustice done, even under the strict rules of procedure which are intended to ensure justice as between man and man. Justice is only an approximate thing, because human beings are frail and uncertain mortals. It is because of the frailties of human nature that over the centuries there has been developed a system of legal procedures and strict rules of evidence. It is those procedures and rules that I seek to maintain, because that is the only way in which we can shelter a citizen from the ill nature, the falsehoods, and sometimes the sheer mistakes of his fellow citizens. If all of those rules are to be relaxed, and the judge is to inform himself in such manner as he thinks fit, will an alien who appears before one of these judges have the right to be represented? The right of legal representation is a prime principle in law. In the ordinary courts of law an alien would be able to exercise such a right. If an alien has no right to legal representation he might very well be placed at a grave disadvantage by reason of his lack of knowledge of our legal system, our customs and our language. Is that right to be abandoned, too? What about the question of publicity? I agree that if matters of security are involved it may be desirable to hear cases in camera, hut, apart from matters affecting the fundamental security of the nation, I believe that there is an enormous value in having the proceedings open to the searchlight of public opinion. Let the proceedings be conducted in the light of day. Let the people be present at them. Let the people talk about them. Let the newspapers report them. We have all had experience of the striking way in which new facts will turu up if a piece of information about a case is published in the newspapers. Every day in the week solicitors get letters giving new, striking, dramatic and decisive information bearing upon cases in which they are interested. We must have protection against discrimination and hearsay evidence. We must have protection against the informer, who, no doubt, is a sad necessity in our community, but whom I suffer only because I have to do so. Likewise, he is suffered by the community as little as possible. Therefore, I oppose the clause in its present form, and I ask the Minister for an assurance that the matter will be further considered before the bill is dealt with in the Senate. Otherwise, I shall be obliged to vote against the measure.
.- From time to time, I have had dealings with the Minister regarding deserters, mental cases, convicted persons and Asiatics about to be deported. I take it that persons in those categories will still be deported without invoking this new provision under which they may be brought before a commissioner. That being so, to whom will the new provision apply? If an alien leads a life of ill-fame or is guilty of black marketing, he can be convicted in an ordinary court of law. If he is an undesirable person because he is a criminal, he will not come within the category which this legislation proposes to create. Therefore, I should like to know what are the offences for which a person cannot be convicted before an ordinary court of law, but which may make him undesirable in the eyes of the Minister, and justify his being brought before a commissioner. I cannot understand what they may be unless - and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) came to the point as straight as an arrow when he mentioned Communists - such persons are associated with Communist propaganda, which is not actually a crime since communism is not illegal. The new provision might enable a Minister to have such a person haled before a commissioner, who could recommend that he be deported.
– in reply. - In this legislation, it is proposed to act under the aliens power in section 51 of the Constitution. This power, as distinct from the immigration power, has to date been used only in respect of naturalization. The immigration power has been used to deal both with British subjects and aliens. The case of Mrs. Freer was mentioned by the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn). Mrs. Freer was a British subject who was refused admittance to Australia by a previous government because, in the opinion of that government, she was guilty of moral turpitude and was an undesirable person. The High Court held that, under the immigration law, it was a proper exercise of power to refuse her admittance. Aliens, of course, can be refused admittance- : -
– On the same ground ?
– On the same ground, and on other grounds. If they are of Asiatic origin they can be refused admittance, not ostensibly on the ground of their origin, but because they fail to pass a dictation test, which is a facesaving device.
– Another ground could be that the Minister does not like the person’s politics, as happened in the case of Kisch.
– Yes, for good reasons or bad reasons, an alien may be refused admittance. There was the famous case of Egon Kisch, a Czechoslovakian citizen, who was given a dictation test in Gaelic. There was a High Court action to determine whether Gaelic is a living language. It was argued that if Gaelic is not a living language, the Government was not entitled to exclude a person by giving him a test in a language which, ordinarily, he could have had nc opportunity of learning. Hitherto, governments have acted under the immigration power in refusing to admit persons to Australia, or in deporting persons from Australia. There was the equally famous case of Johansen and Walsh. Walsh was a British subject, but Johansen was an alien, and an effort was made by the Bruce-Page Government to deport them. The High Court held that they could not he deported under the immigration power because they had resided in Australia so leng that they had ceased to be immigrants. They had established domicile, and had become residents.
The bill we are now considering relies upon the alien power in the Constitution. Under that power, Johansen could have been deported because he was an alien, but Walsh could not have been deported. After being a resident in Australia for a certain time, a person may cease to be an alien, by becoming naturalized, but if he does not become naturalized he continues to be an alien no matter how long he remains here. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) referred to aliens who may he removed because they are in ill health, or are feeble-minded, or epileptic, or suffering from dementia, or some serious transmissible disease. They may be deported under the Immigration Act which provides that any alien, who has been resident in Australia less than five years, may be removed from Australia on tie fiat of the Minister for Immigration, who may cancel the person’s landing permit. Having done that, the Minister may put him under a certificate of exemption, and on any subsequent date may order his removal from Australia. There is a right of appeal to the High Court, but the position has been tested so well that there is no effective’ means of redress, and nothing can prevent the person from being deported. There is a provision in the Immigration Act that an alien, even after having been resident in Australia for five years, may be deported by order of the Minister if he has committed an offence punishable by twelve months imprisonment. There was the case of .Agostini who had been a resident of Australia for many years. He was charged with murdering his wife, after having been at large for a number of years following her- death. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. On the expiration of that term, I ordered him to be deported. Had he become a naturalized citizen after five years’ residence in Australia, he could not have been deported because he would have altered his state of alienage to that of British subject.
In the case I have cited, the Minister is empowered to act on his own initiative without consulting any one, and even without reference to the Executive Council. However, we have to consider another class of person, the alien who has resided in Australia for more than five years, and has not committed any offence making him punishable by imprisonment for twelve months or more. Some persons who come within that category may have done something offensive to the general community, and have shown by their conduct and their character that they are persons no longer worthy to he permitted to remain in Australia.
– Presumably, such persons have not committed any offence for which they could be convicted in a court of law.
– -That is so. Let us consider the case of a man who has been in Australia for 32 years. He was not interned during World War I., but was interned during World War II. He was found by a commissioner, either Mr. Justice Hutchins or Mr. Justice Simpson, to be a person who should be permitted to remain in Australia, instead of being sent back to Germany. After his release, he may have done things for which he could not be prosecuted under State law, such as instigating public unrest, or bribing persons to inflict harm on other persons. His general conduct could indicate him as a person ill-disposed towards the Australian community, whose continued presence in this country could lead to the commission of crimes of violence, even resulting in the death of other persons. In the opinion of the Minister, he might be a person whose case should be investigated by a commissioner, and if the commissioner reported adversely on his character and conduct, he should be deported.
– But if he had committed crimes of violence could he not be convicted in a court of law?
– We are dealing with a supposititious case, and although the person may have done the things complained of, he may never have been convicted. There is a fairly large body of opinion in Australia which finds expression through the Australian Natives’ Association, through organizations of exservicemen, and through some branches of the Australian Labour party-
– And through members of this House.
– I accept the honorable member’s amendment, the first that I have accepted. There is this body of opinion which is to the effect that an alien, who fails to become a naturalized British subject after residing in Australia for six, seven or eight years, ought to be removed from Australia for refusing to become naturalized. There is this large body of opinion that aliens should not be allowed to live here, make money and enjoy the advantages of British citizenship, while suffering none of the disadvantages of such citizenship in time of war. Governments have refused to submit legislation to compel aliens who fail to become naturalized, to leave the country after seven or eight years because it was thought that this would be unfair. There are in Australia aliens who have married Australian women, and reared families of Australians, but who have never become British subjects. They hold fast to the nationality of the land of their birth. We propose that aliens who cannot be dealt with under the Immigration Act, should be dealt with under the alien power in the Constitution if, in the opinion of the Minister, the case is grave enough to be referred for investigation and report to a judge of a Commonwealth court, or a judge of a court of comparable standing. The investigation will be of the same kind as that which took place in the case of aliens released from internment in order to determine which of them should be allowed to remain in Australia and which should be sent back to their own countries.
– There were some very bad instances of complaints by the organizations to which the Minister has referred, and particularly branches of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia in Fremantle and elsewhere. When investigations were made subsequently, the persons about whom the complaints were made were released. I am afraid that persons may be deported as a result of complaints of that kind. After all, these organizations are composed of individuals, and some individuals have axes to grind. They may object to effective business competition by aliens. That is what the complaints amounted to in some instances.
– I agree that there were grave abuses during the war, when persons were interned on the certificate of a Minister. I am not casting any reflections now, but I know that people from Queensland were interned on what were known as omnibus warrants. Men’s names were put on a list and they were interned. While they were in internment, their conduct was studied to see whether or not they should have been interned. T had a lot to do with the release of many people, because I was the chairman of the Aliens’ Classification and Advisory Committees. During the war, we interned 16 per cent, of our alien population. Great Britain, which was only twenty miles from Hitler’s legions, interned only 2 per cent, of its alien population, and the United States of America interned approximately .1 per cent, of its total alien population, including the Japanese in California, whom the Americans did not “ intern “ but, as they termed it “ relocated “ in Arizona and elsewhere.
There are some people at large in this country who are doing things that are objectionable and dangerous to the peace of the community. They have lived here for many years. They have acquired a great deal of wealth. They are defying all our conventions and are flouting public opinion repeatedly with acts of a desperate character. Something must be done to deal with them. If over the years they had successfully applied for British nationality, they could not be touched under our aliens legislation. These people do not want to be Australians and have a contempt for
British nationality, but they still wish to live here and to act in an outrageous manner. The commissioner will determine whether the character and conduct of any individual is such as to require his removal from this country. An accused person will be given ample particulars of the charges that are made against him. He will not have to come before the tribunal, as many unfortunates did in the days when internments were common and be asked, “ What were your reactions on the day that Hitler marched into Vienna?”, an event that might have occurred six or seven years previously. When the man said that he did not think that he had any, the prosecuting counsel stated, “He is a dishonest man. He will not tell the truth about himself. Being a German, he must have had some reactions “. I am conscious of the defects of the internment system. I am conscious of possible abuses of any system that may be instituted. I am equally conscious, however, that there are people at large in this country who have forfeited all right to be permitted to continue to live here without, at lea.si. a judge investigating it and recommending whether they should be allowed to remain in Australia or whether it would be in the best interests of this country to send them out of it.
– Will the regulations that will be issued under clause 12 of this measure give aliens the right to the assistance of counsel or any other form of guidance when they appear before the commissioner ?
– I promise that that will be done. I do not want to adopt the ordinary processes of law with regard to the taking of evidence and so on. The commissioner will, in effect, be in the position of a royal commissioner. He will be able to ascertain all the facts. He will not be precluded from investigating o man’s character merely because of some provision in the rules of evidence. He will not be a royal commissioner in the sense that he will report to Parliament or that his reports will be published, but he will have all the powers of a royal commissioner or of a select committee of inquiry of this Parliament to ascertain the truth and to report to the Minister on the facts as he finds them. The Minister will then have to take the responsibility for any action that, in the light of the commissioner’s report, he decides is appropriate. In the final analysis, the Parliament will have the right to pass judgment upon the action of the Minister if he has abused his trust.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ alien “ means a person who is an alien within the meaning of the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1048;
– I move -
That the definition of “ alien “ be left out, wit-li a view to insert in lieu thereof the following definition : - “ ‘ slier. ‘ means a per.0: who is not a 5r!t:s£ sublet, an Irish citizen cr a person under the protection of the Government of any part of His Majesty’s dominions;”.
The definition of “ alien “ appearing in the bill at present is as follows : - “ alien “ means a person who is an alien within the meaning of the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1048.
The definition was inserted because this bill was intended to be complementary to the Nationality and Citizenship Bill 1948. In view of the passing of the External Relations Act by the Irish Parliament, and of decisions of certain conferences that have been held between representatives of the dominions, including Australia, and representatives of the Irish Government, and in the light of declarations that have been made in this Parliament, by the Prime Minister of Great Britain in the House of Commons and by the Prime Minister of Ireland, Mr. Costello, in the Parliament of Ireland, it is desired that the new definition referred to in the amendment shall tie substituted for the definition that is now in’ the bill.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Deportation of certain aliens).
.- In his second-reading speech, the Minister talked of certain people being in Australia who had forfeited all rights to remain here. He spoke with some warmth. I know at least one of the people to whom he was referring. The Minister’s remarks were, in effect, a pre-judging of those cases, and that is something that we do not want to occur. If the Minister is going to assume now that the people he has in mind have forfeited their rights, it bodes ill for them when they appear before the commissioner. It is true that one of the people he has in mind has been in this country for a long time. He was not interned during World War I., but he was interned during World War II., and was refused release from internment, although he made an application to the appropriate tribunal. Following his release from internment, he has been a considerable nuisance to the community.
– He was permitted to remain in Australia.
– Yes, that is so. It might be that this man’s conduct is such that, if his case were referred to the commissioner under this clause, he could be deported, but I contend that the case should be tried de novo, that all the usual benefits of the doubt should be given to the person concerned, and that he should be presumed to be innocent until the commissioner considers that he has been proved to be guilty by evidence adduced in accordance with the ordinary rules of evidence. This man should be taken before the commissioner, charges should be made against him by somebody acting on behalf of the Crown, the Crown should establish a prima facie case that bis conduct and character are bad, and then he should be allowed to attempt to satisfy the commissioner that his conduct and character are not bad. In his case he would probably have great difficulty in doing so, but that is not the point. The ordinary rules should apply, and the onus of proof should be upon the Crown. Having regard to what I have heard and read about this man, I hold fairly strong views about his conduct, but what right have I, or any member of the Parliament, including the Minister, to pre-judge the case? If we are to have a commissioner, the case should go beforehim in the ordinary way. The Minister has already given an undertaking that when an alien appears before the commissioner provision will be made for him’ to have legal representation. Will the honorable gentleman also give an undertaking that an alien will be supplied with, reasonable particulars of the charges that are made against him, and that the ordinary rules of evidence in courts of law will apply to this tribunal? That is the minimum for which we ought to ask in cases of this kind. I agree with the Minister about the case I have mentioned, but we are dealing now with principles and not persons. We are considering provisions that will apply tocases of which we know nothing, and it may be that some of our own friends may be affected by them in the future.
– I dealt with a supposititious case. It has some basis in reality, but I had to illustrate my point when I was asked by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) what kind of cases I had in mind. I give the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) an assurance that the person charged will be furnished with particulars of the charges that are against him. I cannot agree to eliminate sub-clause 3 of this clause, which I regard as an integral part of the whole clause. The sub-clause provides as follows : -
The Commissioner shall make a thorough investigation of the conduct and character of the alien without regard to legal forms and shall not be bound by any rules of evidence, but may inform himself on any relevant, matter in such manner as he thinks fit.
A man who has persisted in maintaining his alienage in this country for 10, 20 or 30 years has not the same claim to be protected by the laws of evidence, when he is charged with being a person whose character is dishonorable and whose conduct is disgraceful, as has a British subject or a person who has not had time to qualify as an Australian citizen.
– Why not ? This is a free country.
– Of course it is a free country, but the freedom cannot be all one way. An alien cannot have all the advantages and none of the disadvantages of Australian citizenship. If commissioners had not been appointed to review the cases of internees and empowered to disregard the laws of evidence, many internees would have been kept in prison for much longer than they in fact were. The country has some interest in this matter. An alien who has lived here for many years should not be allowed to beat the law on a technicality. The commissioner, about whose sense of justice, acumen and worldliness there should be no suspicion, will be a person who will discharge his obligation with fairness to the accused person and who will consider at the same time what is best both for the alien and fur Australia. If a man wants to continue to be an alien in this country, what disability is imposed upon him if he is told to go back to the land of his birth to which he owes allegiance? He cannot have the advantage, if there be such, of being a national of a foreign country whilst possessing at the same time all the rights and privileges that accrue to those who are British by birth or who acquire British nationality as it may be acquired, by naturalization.
Clause agreed to.
Remaining clauses and Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 29th October (vide page 2391), on motion by Mr. Dedman -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 24th November (vide page 3417), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This short bill should not be controversial. The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) has explained in his second-reading speech that the bill will continue the existing National ‘Security (War Damage to Property) Regulations. The War Damage Commission has ceased to function, and the Treasurer is taking authority, by this legislation, to exercise the powers that it formerly exercised. At present, I have little to say about the bill, but I have no doubt that members of the Opposition could speak at length on certain political implications and the principle underlying it. When moving the second reading, the Treasurer explained that the War Damage Commission had ceased to administer the War Damage Fund. He also promised that the final report of the commission would be made available to honorable members as soon as possible. Unfortunately, we have not yet received that report, which, I contend, should have been supplied to honorable members before the Treasurer introduced this bill. The report may contain controversial matter, it may offer certain criticisms, and may make valuable recommendations, but such information is denied to honorable members. In those circumstances, we cannot make a useful contribution to this debate. I deplore the fact that the report has not been supplied to honorable members.
.- 1 desire to make a suggestion about the War Damage Fund, and although it may appear to he irrelevant to the hill, I believe that it will be in order. The Prisoners of War Association, on behalf of Australian servicemen who were prisoners of the Japanese, have made representa tions-
-Order! That matter is not related ta the bill.
– I realize that, but-
– Order! The honorable member for Balaclava knows that he should not interrupt the Chair. The subject to which he has referred has nothing to do with the bill, the purpose of which is to continue the operation of National Security (War Damage to Property) Regulations.
– That is so, but if you, sir, will allow me to make my point, you will understand that the matter is not completely irrelevant to the bill. The Prisoners of War Association has made representations that, from the War Damage Fund-
– Order ! I shall not permit the honorable member to pursue that subject.
– All right. I only want to say, if you will stop shouting me down-
– -Order! The honorable member must withdraw that remark at once.
– I withdraw it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 18th November (vide page 3228), on motion by Mr. Dedman -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. White had moved, by way of amendment -
That all words after “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 “.
– This bill is concerned with Australian acceptance of the International Trade Organization Charter and the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. The House has already had several opportunities to debate those two matters. The bill provides that Australia shall deposit an instrument of acceptance, but that our acceptance shall not take effect until the United Kingdom and the United States of America have deposited corresponding instruments. The Havana charter had its origin in the Mutual Aid Agreement and the negotiations associated with the granting of the American loan to Great Britain in 1945. One of the conditions governing the loan was that Great Britain should favorably consider the charter which gives effect to Article YU. of the Mutual Aid Agreement. Accepting that condition, the British Government presented bills relating to the loan and the charter to the United Kingdom Parliament for ratification. Those bills were rushed through the House of Commons and the House of Lords in a matter of days without proper discussion, and I believe that Britain, in a measure, accepted some of the conditions under duress. Since that time, the charter has been considered by international conferences held in the United States of America and the United Kingdom, and at Geneva and Havana. After the document had been substantially amended, the nations concerned signed it on the 24th March last. The charter has still to be ratified by the parliaments of the countries which are signatories to it.
Before I deal particularly with the bill, I shall refer to the remarks by some honorable members opposite relative to American aid to Britain. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Thompson) said that without the assistance of the United States of America, the United Kingdom could not recover economically from the effects of the war. I have no particular quarrel with that statement. We admit that American help to Britain is essential, but the honorable member should have added that the United States owes such assistance to the United Kingdom. I appreciate as rauch as any man does the help that America has granted to Britain but I have always in mind the fact that the United States of America has not suffered physical damage from war as the towns and industries of Britain have suffered. America’s part is appreciated as a co-operative effort, but America is dependent upon Great Britain and other countries for markets, just as they are dependent on America for goods and dollars. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke) described the United States of America as the leader of the nations. That statement is true. I greatly respect America for the great work that it has done, but I point out that leadership is determined not solely on physical and economic assets but also on national honour, integrity and achievement. In those qualities, Great Britain has qualified for leadership just as much as America has done. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Stafford Cripps, has stated that the policy of the British Labour party is to implement socialism. One of the objectives of the socialist is to cause the British Empire to be disrupted. In such circumstances, I wonder whether that is the reason why the honorable member for Perth has placed Great Britain in a position secondary to that of the United States of America. When judged by standards of national honour, integrity and achievement, Great Britain is in no sense secondary to America. I am not decrying the United States of America when I express that view. For trade purposes, America depends upon overseas markets and I believe that the policy of the United States of America is hamstringing its economy. I agree with the honorable member for Perth that the United States of America has made an approach to solving the problems -of the world’s needs; but it is the only country in a position to do so. I remind the honorable member that after World War I. Great Britain faced up to those problems, and did a wonderful job unaided, at a time when other nations were in a position to help. Although assistance was not forthcoming, those problems were attacked in a national way. It is unnecessary for me to repeat that after World War II. the United States of America did its part, but there should have been co-operative effort. When any agreement is made on an international basis, co-operation should be the spirit of that agreement. Great Britain should not have been forced to accept conditions under duress.
Looking back over history, the result of the policies of Australia, England and the other Empire countries is apparent. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke) said, if I understood him correctly, that Great Britain adopted a wrong policy by “ channelling “ its trade. I disagree with that contention. I shall not deal with this matter in detail, because I have spoken about it on at least two occasions previously. The results may be clearly summarized. As a result of the Empire policy on trade between Britain, Australia and the other Empire Dominions, the Empire was considerably strengthened. Australia had assured markets, worth much alike in times of plenty and depression. England had assured supplies; the value of past dealing has been apparent in recent years. When world supplies have been in short supply, Great Britain has been assisted greatly by regular shipments from the Dominions. Australia’s overseas economic strength has been developed as a result of Empire international trade. We have to issue licences for any import? from the United States of America, because of the dollar exchange and from a trade point of view. Australia’s position would not be so secure to-day if we were dependent on the United States of America. If the Government’s attitude to-day is as stated by the honorable member for Perth, it is at least consistent, because in 1932 Labour representatives in this Parliament moved amendments to offset the effect of Imperial preference. The honorable member for Perth suggested that we should trade with all of the nations of the world. How can the honorable member reconcile that with Labour’s condemnation of Australia’s trading with Wear Eastern countries prior to World War II., when we were at peace with them? He said that war often eventuates from trade restrictions. Up to a point, I agree with that statement. But, if that is so, why did the Australian Labour party oppose dealing with Japan in times of peace? If the honorable member for Perth is serious in that contention he must agree that the action that was taken by his party assisted to promote conflict. Imperial preference has always been supported by the Australian Country party. Surely as a family within the British Commonwealth of Nations, _ we have the same right as was exercised by the United States of America when that nation retained the preference clause in its dealings with Cuba. There is too much eagerness on the part of the Australian Labour party to liquidate the Empire and to seek self-aggrandizement. Earlier I used the word “ disrupted “ as applied to a statement by Sir Stafford Cripps. I withdraw that, and substitute “ liquidated “, which is the word that he used. The truth of the old proverb that unity is strength was never more pertinent than to-day. The more we keep our Empire intact, the more we will feel the benefit of the truth of the statement that unity indeed is strength. I believe that without the help of the Mother Country in the past we should have been like a clutch of chickens running around without the mother hen, all seeking our own ends, without any co-ordination. What security will be achieved under the International Trade Organization? Under this agreement we cannot possibly secure markets as valuable as those which we have had with our own kith and kin in the past. According to the newspapers, Australia desires to withdraw from the council of the United Nations Pood and Agriculture Organization. I should be very interested to know if there is any truth in that suggestion.
– Never believe what you see in the press.
– There is never smoke without some fire. That proverb has a lot of truth in it. Australia is not satisfied with some aspects of that organization. In dealing with Empire preference the honorable member for Perth said that there must be a two-way deal. That is quite true, but I am glad to say that so far as our deal with England is concerned we seem to have maintained the bulk of the trade that we had with that country under Imperial preference. What has been lacking in these negotiations is that Australia has not been sufficiently strong in its attitude, having regard to the fact that there was a certain amount of duress in the initial arrangement made with Great Britain. Australia could have been more determined in its stand in making that deal to protect its trade and to’ protect England from having to scout the world for goods. Great Britain could have had assured supplies from its Dominions and that would have strengthened it when making the arrangement for the International Trade Organization. If we are forced into a wild scramble for markets, what hope have we as compared with nations of lower standards than our own? I remind the Government that if we lose markets unemployment must result. Is it the desire of the Government, that by placing ourselves in the favoured nations class, we should have to compete with other nations on a lower standard of living, and that if they can sell their goods at a lower price, our standards and wages should be reduced in order to compete with them? Why did not the Government maintain Empire preference within this agreement, so that Australia could retain assured markets, with a guarantee of the continuance of our present standard of living? The Government is apparently quite happy about our scramble for markets, in competition with all the nations of the world, irrespective of standards of living. I see no security in the agreement at all. That is why I am speaking on this International Trade Organization for the third time. I repeat that America preserved its rights, and it is interesting to consider the point of view of the United States of America, as a leader in a? national sense, on this point. Mr. Besse, the president of the American Association of Woolmen, in referring to this agreement, and particularly the charter section of it, said: -
The philosophy behind this charter is such that the resultant document is a conglomeration of unrealistic proposals. Charter should’ he discarded in toto and an entirely new start made on a drastically different basis with limited and simplified objectives.
I submit that all of the Empire trade that’ we have had in the past could have been protected and maintained within thisagreement. I also remind the Ministerthat when a matter of interpretation is involved, that interpretation will not bemade by him, or whoever happens to be the Minister of the day, but by the International Trade Organization. After thisbill has been finally debated and accepted,, instruments have to he lodged by Great-
Britain and the United States of America to make it effective. Another aspect of the charter is that, in terms of “white paper, it occupies 95 pages. Almost every provision in it is made subject to exceptions, modifications, clauses, and special agreements. In view of the objections I have advanced against it, and of its exceptions, modifications, and special clauses, I wonder whether the Minister considers that it is only a scrap of paper, which can be dispensed with when things are not acceptable to us? In view of the opinion advanced by Mr. Besse in the United States of America, perhaps that is the viewpoint that the Minister has uppermost in his mind. No reason can be advanced why we should accept membership in the International Trade Organization without considering that point of view.
There is another point concerning the International Trade Organization which has been brought to my mind. By interjection, the honorable member for Perth was asked whether the Government favoured free trade or protection. Although he may not have wished to evade the point, I understood his reply was to the effect that he considered it was not very relevant or vital to the issue. Perhaps he meant to avoid discussion. I do not want to be unfair to him. I submit that the issue of free trade protection is vital to Australia. Are we to assume that all tariffs are bad for trade? If some of our industries are to have no protection we shall not be able to maintain our standard of living, because, as I argued earlier, we shall have to compete in the sale of certain commodities with low-standard countries that, undoubtedly, because of their cheaper labour costs, will be able to place their products on the world’s markets at lower prices than we could possibly afford to do. So it is necessary that at least certain industries shall have protection in order that they may be maintained for the good of the country. Are the new industries that Australia is sorely in need of not to have protection other than that provided for in the short period of three years while they are establishing themselves. That brings to the forefront the pertinent point whether it is Labour’s inten tion to reduce the standard of living: in Australia to enable this country to compete with other countries in thescramble for trade. The policy incorporated in the International TradeAgreement is that a concession given toany particular country under the mostfavourednation clause shall he given toall countries. That, of course, is, in effect,, a complete ban on imperial preference. Surely we have the right and the need tomaintain our trade. A dodger published’ by the Empire Industries Association, and the British Empire League provides us with proof of the value of our tradewith Great Britain. The dodger states -
In 1920 we imported 5 million ewts. of Empire sugar.
In 1937 we bought 26 million cwts.
In 1920 we bought 147 thousand cwts. of Empire raisins.
In 1937 we received 530 thousand cwts.
In 1920 we purchased only 15 million lbs. of unmanufactured Empire tobacco.
In 1937 we imported 57 million lbs.
Those statistics relate to imports byGreat Britain from Empire countries. I advance them as an argument for themaintenance of Empire preference and Empire trade. That is all I wish tosay in support of the argument that we should have maintained within the agreement our right in full as a family of nations to preserve imperial trade and imperial preference in order to strengthen the British Empire and assure the MotherCountry of the supplies that it has depended on in the past and that it should! be able to depend on in the future, thereby assuring ourselves of the market inthe Empire that has been assured to ushitherto.
.- This Government is prepared to adopt theHavana Charter. That can destroy many flourishing Australian industries, rob usof our fiscal autonomy and deny us theright to protect our own industries. Thecharter takes from this Parliament the right to legislate on tariff and tradepolicy. It signs away the right of this country to protect itself against world depression. This Government has surrendered all those rights on one condition. That is that the charter is accepted by the Governments of Britain and the United! States. So the ironical situation is that the industries of this country are now in a position where they must look to other governments to save them. The fate of many Australian industries, therefore, was actually decided at the congressional elections in the United States. Australian primary and secondary industries are in the position wherein they must look to the new Congress to reject the charter. If it accepts, then the British Government is morally bound to sign. The Havana Charter is the outcome of the seventh article of the Atlantic Charter, and the product of the negotiations leading up to the American loan to Britain in 1945. Great Britain is committed. Australia has no such commitment. Fortunately, American industries are now beginning to realize the danger of entrusting their future to these remote international organizations. That was why the Congress rejected the International Wheat Agreement. The American people can hold the American Government responsible for its actions. They have no such hold on an international body.
Bureaucracy has found a new field of exploitation. It is on the international plane. The bureaucrats are no longer satisfied with wielding power in one country. They see themselves dominating the world. They think in terms of globular power. Their objective is to create a series of world cartels. There is already a money cartel. There is also an air cartel. Now they want a trade cartel. These cartels are not governed on the sound democratic basis of responsible government. The members of the organizations are governments. But the actual controllers are the bureaucrats appointed by their governments. Once appointed, they become members of a new privileged class. Their salaries are paid by the international organization. They are immune from taxation by their own country. They then become members of a new international despotism. They are remote from their own countries. It is a new form of indirect government.
The documents tabled with this bill are an amazing collection of essays in the strange new international language. They add up to a weird concoction. They would provide ample material for any set of international lawyers to devote themselves to for the rest of their lives. Then, when the lawyers had finished with them, I am very doubtful whether they would be any clearer. An international agreement should be in simple, unequivocal language. The Havana Charter is a masterpiece of verbal confusion. It is a hotch-potch of legal quibbles, crack-pot economic theories, escape clauses, reservations and bureaucratic jargon. No member signing it will have the faintest idea of the extent of its commitments. The provisions will all be subject to interpretation by the organization itself. Under present conditions, Australia has full selfgoverning rights to impose any conditions it likes on trade and commerce within the limitations of the Australian Constitution regarding State rights. The Australian tariff has the dual objectives of being a source of revenue, and a means of building up and maintaining Australian industries. It is also a protection against dumping. Thc Government from time to time has also adopted other means, apart from the tariff, for the purpose of protecting the Australian economy. It imposes quantitative restrictions. It subsidizes local production by fixing home-consumption prices. In recent years, it has superimposed a still further control in the shape of import and export licences. Once we accept the charter we are committed eventually to the abandonment of all these weapons of defence. There is a very sound principle on which tariff protection should be based. That is that any industry requiring protection should have the right to go before an independent tribunal to state its case. That tribunal in Australia is the Tariff Board. The Tariff Board, after hearing all the parties involved, submits its report to the Parliament with its recommendations. It is then for the Parliament to decide the tariff. But once this country becomes a member of the International Trade Organization the Tariff Board will progressively disappear out of the picture. It did not operate when the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in this bill was being negotiated. It will not operate in the future once the International
Trade Organization starts to function. If the Havana Charter is to he anything more than a collection of prize economic shibboleths, the International Trade Organization will become the supreme tariff-making body for the entire world, lt will have the right of veto. Under Article XVI., we shall be required to eliminate all forms of trade discrimination. We will not be permitted to charge a tariff on goods of one country that differs in any way from the rate charged on goods from another country. That system cannot work smoothly unless every country has exactly the same standard of living, and the same currency values. It is a counsel of perfection, when perfection is unattainable. This new organization will provide an incentive for the larger monopolies to transfer their industries to cheap labour countries. Instead of manufacturing in Australia, they will establish their factories in Indonesia, Malaya, China or Japan. At present, we have the right to protect our Australian industries. The Scullin Government fully exercised that right in 1931, when it erected the tariff wall to exclude a flood of imports from depressed countries. Under Article XVII., this country will be committed to a policy of reducing tariffs and eliminating preferences. There could be no room under such a policy for a sudden reversal to meet an emergency. At present, Imperial preference is still an excellent weapon to meet the establishment of an outside trade Moe. Under this charter that weapon would disappear. Imperial preference is not a one-sided arrangement. It has enabled us to place our primary products on the British market in competition with those of Argentina, Scandinavia, Holland and other more accessible suppliers. Preference has been a sound business arrangement, depending upon the ability of the negotiators to enter into arrangements favorable to this country. The elimination of preference must eventually lead to the loss of markets, or the reduction of the Australian standard of living to enable this country to compete with countries more accessible to the world’s markets. A margin of preference that might be’ satisfactory to meet current conditions might not be sufficient to meet changing conditions in the future.
This bill sets as the ceiling those tariffs operating when the charter became operative. That presupposes that conditions will not change. If they do change, countries affected cannot adapt their tariff to meet those changes without the approval of the international organization. In the international organization the case would not rest on its merits, but on the power politics of the moment. This scaling down of tariffs is an attempt to revive the doctrine of free trade. But the conditions of the nineteenth century are not the conditions of this century. The Australian tariff enabled this country to develop the industries that provided the nucleus of our defence organization. Without those industries, we should have been defenceless.
Once we accept the principles of the charter there will be no such thing as preventing the export of pig-iron. If we open up deposits of uranium, or any other key defence mineral, we shall have to hand it over to all nations without discrimination. Is that a sound policy? Already we have had an example of the complications that are likely to arise. The Groves Parliamentary Committee on Broadcasting recently submitted a report to this Parliament on the use of Australian music on the air. The committee was of the opinion that the percentage of Australian music should be increased. But some one suddenly remembered the obligations contained in this charter. So the committee went to the experts of the Department of Trade and Customs for advice. The department told the committee that any such quota might be regarded as discrimination against the music of other member countries of this organization, and that if the Australian Government instructed the broadcasting stations that they had to use 5 per cent, of Australian music instead of 1 per cent., the Government might be violating the charter and might be accused of discriminating against the products of other countries selling music to Australia. Is not that an impossible position for any government to have to face? What applies to music may apply to every other product of this country. If there is a shortage of potatoes in this country, and potato-growers are able to sell their product at higher prices overseas, it will not be possible for a government to impose a quota system on -exports. We have seen what has happened when such a system was applied to suiting materials. Under price control, manufacturers were able to export cloth without regard to fixed prices. The result was that all our first-quality cloth went overseas. Much of it has been returned to this country in made-up form -at exorbitant prices. Once we accept this -charter, no government could protect Australian consumers against such conditions.
Article XVII. commits this country to reduce its tariffs progressively. Once reduced, the new schedules become the top limits. Neither the Tariff Board nor this Parliament could increase them without the consent of the international organization. At the same time such reductions automatically reduce or eliminate any remaining margins of preference. I have been waiting for the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) to explain how he reconciles the provisions of Article XX., which deals with quantitative restrictions on imports and exports, with the Government’s dollar policy. We are told that a country may . impose restrictions to safeguard its balance of payments. How can that be fairly applied to the restrictions imposed by this Government on petrol imported into this country? The Government has admitted that most of the petrol used here comes from sterling sources. How, then, can it stretch the argument to petrol and still honour its obligations under Article XX.? If there 13 petrol available in a sterling country, it would appear that this country has no right under the charter to impose any restrictions on its entry into Australia :so long as this country has favorable sterling balances. I suggest that the Prime Minister might give that aspect some detailed consideration as it is only typical of the thousand-and-one problems that will immediately arise once Australia has committed itself. We have had another example of how this agreement works in connexion with Australian films. The British Government decided that it was necessary to impose import quotas on American films, as that was one of the largest dollar drains. But, once having adopted that policy to meet the particular case of American films, the British Board of Trade was up against the nondiscrimination clause. Films from the Colonial Empire would have been allowed in. Films from the Dominions were subject to exactly the same conditions as American films, although the conditions were totally different. Admission of the Australian film would have constituted discrimination against the American product. While there may be temporary relief under the escape clause governing the post-war transitional period, it would be only temporary, and it is proposed to make a very permanent kind of arrangement. Once we accept this charter there can be very little hope for Australian films, Australian books or any similar product that might benefit from existing preferences, or that might benefit from any action by Britain to correct its trade balances.
There is one other very important aspect of this new form of international government. ‘Once the Government signs the charter, it will have all the force of a treaty. It will be an international agreement. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) has from time to time made some very interesting observations on the treaty-making power of the Australian Government. It seems to be his opinion that it can be used to override other sections of the Constitution. Thus, if the Commonwealth wants specific powers that it does not possess under the Constitution, it can, instead of consulting the Australian people in a referendum, enter into an international agreement. That, he contends, would give the Commonwealth power in that field. That is a most important aspect of the charter when considered in relation to the Commonwealth’s powers over trade and commerce - the most contentious of all constitutional problems. The people have consistently refused to alter the trade and commerce powers; but if the Attorney-General is right, then this new organization can impose conditions over trade and commerce within a country that the Parliament of the country itself cannot impose.
There is a grave danger that international organizations might be used by an Australian government as an excuse r.o grab powers that the people of Australia have refused to grant it. “When some of the provisions regarding commercial policy, free transit of goods, and employment are considered in this light, it becomes evident that if the AttorneyGeneral is right in his assumption, the charter can be used to introduce revolutionary changes. It is a matter which might well engage the attention of constitutional experts.
This charter is closely allied with the Bretton Woods Agreement, and, in fact, is complementary to it. The reservations that I had made in regard to the Bretton Woods Agreement apply also to this charter. I have analysed closely all the arguments used by the Minister in presenting the bill, as well as the other documents on the subject tabled from time to time, but when they are all added up there does not appear a single, specific, positive advantage to be obtained by this country in return for sacrificing its right of economic self-determination for this new fad. The Minister’s principal claim appears to be that it will encourage other nations to adopt a policy of full employment. How, he does not say. If all the professors, all the economic experts and all the lawyers and bureaucrats, who have produced this amazing hotch-potch, go on conferring for the next ten years, I am afraid we shall be no closer to that objective. Every time they assemble, whether it be in pleasant Geneva or in delightful Havana, they think up a few more complicated escape clauses, reservations and pious hopes. The world still has to devise a formula that will make war the least productive of all means of providing employment. This is not a charter of human rights. It is a legal nightmare.
The Minister holds out the hope that some member of his staff may be appointed, to the executive of the new organization, but even that would be only a temporary achievement. There, are to be only eighteen executive members, eight of whom will be permanent, whilst the rest will be appointed for a period of three years. Thus, even if the Minister’s optimism is justified, this country will, at the expiration of three years, probably have no representation on the governing body. Once the organization is established - if it is established - no withdrawal will be permitted until three years have elapsed. Even if its decision are totally opposed to Australian interests, this country will be bound to remain inside the organization for three ‘ years. What will happen to Australian industries in three years? It only took eighteen months for a world depression to develop. Anything could happen in three years.
If Australia ratifies the agreement, a large number of important countries can remain outside it. It would be much better to postpone the bill until the countries that matter have decided their course of action. Britain and the United States of America are not the only countries whose economies have important hearings on Australia’s future. Of course, if the 81st Congress of the United States of America decides to revert to a policy of domestic tariff control, the bringing in of this bill will have been a waste of time.
.- The first objection I wish to make to this measure is in regard to the date upon which it is to come into operation. In clause 2 it is stated that the act shall come into operation on the day on which it receives the Royal assent. That seems to me to be the height of hypocrisy. Although the ostensible purpose of the bill is to bring into effect an agreement to remove restrictions on international trade, the Government i9 continuing to enforce import restrictions of many kinds. There are in force quantitative restrictions which are much more ferocious in effect than any tariff could be. It also smacks somewhat of hypocrisy and double dealing that, while the Parliament is asked to legislate to eliminate British preference, the Government proposes to grant special allowances of petrol to the purchasers of British tractors. I am not complaining of that policy. I draw attention to it merely in order to emphasize the anomaly which is being created. It is also proposed that British cars shall be taxed at a lower rate than cars imported from foreign countries. Again, I do not complain of that, and merely mention it in order to emphasize the contrast between such a policy and a measure, the purpose of which is to abolish discrimination in favour of British trade.
The attitude of the Government of the United States of America to the charter is very different from that of our own Government. In the United States of America, it is not proposed to enact legislation providing that the charter shall come into force on a certain date. On the contrary, it is intended that all the trade items that may be affected by the charter shall be the subject of special consideration by committees appointed for the purpose. I maintain that, in the same way, we should insist that, before the provisions of the charter are made to apply to commodities in which we trade, those commodities should be properly examined by the Tariff Board.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
– It is absurd to talk of expanding world trade while food is rationed in Great Britain and Australia, and while most countries are depreciating their currencies with the object of restricting their imports of the goods of other countries and stimulating their own export trade. The Havana Charter recognizes this, absurdity by stating that escape clauses are necessary. In the form of a White Paper, the charter covers 95 pages, whilst the sixteen clauses of the Ottawa Agreement cover only two pages. Almost every provision of the Havana Charter, which has been distributed to us in the form of an immense mass of typewritten matter, is subject to exceptions, modifications, escape clauses and special arrangements. It is, therefore, almost impossible to understand what is really intended. The kernel of the charter is to be found in the fourth paragraph of the opening statement on purposes, which reads as follows: -
To promote on a reciprocal and mutually advantageous basis the reduction of tariffs, and other barriers to trade and the elimination of discriminatory treatment in international commerce.
The paragraph implies that all tariffs and forms of discriminatory treatment are bad for trade. Although the document provides for the ultimate abolition of Empire preference, at the first meeting of the International Trade Organization special arrangements were made for effective preference to be given by the United States of America to Cuba and the Philippines.
In almost every European country, as well as in Australia, many kinds of government controls are in existence. There is rationing of food imports, raw materials, and almost every commodity that affects a nation’s economy. An examination of the trade arrangements that have been made between Great Britain and Australia reveals that most of them have been made on the basis of the government of one country buying from or selling to the government of another country. The old concept of individual trading seems to have gone by the board. Any one who has studied what took place after World War I. knows that there is not the slightest chance of a return to normal trading conditions during the next five or six years. It was in 1925, seven years after the end of World War I., that Great Britain returned to the gold standard, and it was realized, subsequently, that that was an unfortunate and precipitous step. The peak of the inflation which followed World War I. was reached approximately six years after the end of the war. To-day, France, Italy, China “and other countries are suffering from tremendous inflation. While the present state of affairs continues, and while there is rationing of food in Britain and other countries, Australia doe3 not need an agreement of thi3 kind to assist it to sell its export surpluses. Britain is anxious to import as much as possible from us. It can buy our products more cheaply than it can buy those of other countries, and, therefore, will take as large a quantity of our goods as we can send to it. The stark fact is that Britain’s imports of food, in terms of annual weight per capita, are much smaller than in pre-war years. In 1938, the annual weight per capita of imports of grain, flour, meat, dairy produce, fruit and vegetables, sugar, &c, was 820 lb., while the figure for 1947 was only 527 lb. In 1938, Australia occupied the proud position of the largest exporter of food to Britain, on a monetary basis, but to-day we are fifth on the list. The position in regard to quantities of food is very similar. Iti 1938, Britain imported food to the value of £46,000,000 from Australia, £36,000,000 from New Zealand, £36,000,000 from Canada, £33,000,000 from Argentina and £34,000,000 from the United States of America. In 1947 the figures were £45,000,000 for Australia, £64,000,000. for New Zealand, £130,000,000 for Canada, £90,000,000 for the Argentina, and £98,000,000 for the United States of America. We were then fifth on the list. Those figures emphasize my point that Britain would readily take all the food that we can send to it at the present time. There is no limit to what we could sell to it if we could supply the goods and find the ships in which to carry them.
– Our exports of food to Great Britain have decreased because we have been sending vast quantities to other parts of the world.
– I realize that. My point is that there is no difficulty in selling our goods, because the world is short of food. We do not need an agreement of this kind to enable us to sell our surpluses. The world is in a state of chaos. It was in a state of chaos for some time after World War I., but probably the present position is worse than that which obtained then.
This document, having regard to the circumstances that surround its birth, is a confession of defeatism and of lack of faith in the possibility of the rapid recovery of the British Empire. To my mind, its acceptance by the governments of the countries of the British Commonwealth indicates their lack of belief in the resurgence of the British Empire. I venture to say that the Anglo-American loan comes into that category. I have always been strongly of the opinion that if the British Empire had stood firm and retained the sterling bloc, as it could have done after the victories over Japan and Germany, America, in its own interests as well as in the interests of the world generally, would have had to give money to Britain instead of lending it, and Britain would have passed more quickly through its crisis. Despite the defeatism that is apparent in many quarters, the British Empire still holds a quarter of the world’s surface. Its natural resources, although they are largely “undeveloped, are so great that it would be able to obtain very advantageous terms from America in a proper deal, such as the Ottawa Agreement was between Great Britain and the Dominions, if it were able to negotiate on a basis of equality. We could make our own conditions. A study of the history of the British Empire shows that during the last 200 years there have been, in effect, three British Empires, one succeeding the other, and each one being larger than its predecessor. The first Empire began with the great conquests of the sailors of Queen Elizabeth, and may be. said to have ended with the loss of the American colonies in 1780. The second Empire lasted from 1780 until 1874, when Canada was granted dominion status. The third Empire, consisting of Great Britain, the Dominions and the colonies, then came into being. Each one of those Empires, in its trade and development, was greater than the preceding one. If, when World War II. ended, we had not dallied with this trade proposal but had stood four-square for the retention of Empire preference and for the fiscal autonomy of which the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) spoke this afternoon, I do not think we should have been faced with our present difficulties in retaining India, South Africa, Eire and Burma as integral parts of the British Commonwealth of Nations, or of the Commonwealth of Nations, if we are to abandon the word “British “. We should have been able to offer those countries sufficiently valuable inducements to remain within the Commonwealth, and undoubtedly they would have done so.
If that had been done, it would have greatly simplified tha arrangements that it would have been necessary to make between ourselves and the United States of America, as well as with the nations of Western Europe, with which we have a very close affiliation and in which we can always find good markets. Because of the greater simplicity of those arrangements and agreements, less difficulty would have arisen in their interpretation and administration than is likely to be the case with these international arrangements. I ask honorable members to compare the sixteen articles and two pages of the Ottawa Agreement with the 95 pages of the Havana Charter, which, I am sure, scarcely any member of this House has had the time or the courage to read. Practically every provision of the charter is so dubious that there are exceptions, modifications, escape clauses and special arrangements attached to it.
The United States of America took the definite step of saying that if the international trade agreement did not work out satisfactorily, it would alter it within a short space of time. During the Second Session of the American Congress in 194S, an act was passed to extend the authority of the President under section 350 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, and for other purposes. The act was the Trade Agreements Extension Act 1948, section- 3 of which reads in part as follows: - (<i) Before entering into negotiations concerning any proposed foreign trade agreement under section 3:”)0 of the Tariff Act of 1030, as amended, the President shall furnish the United States Tariff Commission (hereinafter in this Act referred to as the “Commission”) with a list of all articles imported into the United States to be considered for possible modification of duties and other import restrictions, imposition of additional import restrictions, or continuance of existing customs or excise treatment. Upon receipt of such list the Commission shall make an investigation and report to the President the findings of the Commission with respect to each such article as to (1) the lim.it to which such modification, imposition, or continuance may be extended in order to carry out the purpose of such section 350 without causing or threatening serious injury to the domestic industry producing like gr similar articles; and (2) if increases in duties or additional import restrictions are required to avoid. serious injury to the domestic industry producing like or similar articles the minimum increases in duties or additional import restrictions required.
The Havana charter, as published in a White Paper, occupies 95 pages, and points out that the purpose of the agreement is to reduce duties. But the United States of America, which is in a key position in the matter, has adopted the attitude that, if its domestic industries are adversely affected, it must be in a position to increase duties against competitive goods admitted to America from other countries’. We all know that the United States of America is the great creditor nation of the world. Section 3 of the act to which I have referred, also contains the following provisions : -
Such report shall be made by the commits si on to the President not later than 120 days after the receipt of such list by the commission. No such foreign trade agreement shall be entered into until the commission has made its report to the President or until the expiration of the 120-day period.
In the course of any investigation pursuant to this section the commission shall hold hearings and give reasonable public notice thereof, and shall afford reasonable opportunity for parties interested to be present, to produce evidence, and to be heard at such hearings.
Section 4 of the act entitled “An act to amend the tarin act of 1930” … is hereby amended by . . . inserting . . . the following: “and before concluding such agreement the President shall request the Tariff Commission to make the investigation and report provided for by section 3 of the Trade Agreements Extension Act of 104.8, and shall seek information and advice with respect to such agreement from the Department of State, Agriculture, and Commerce, from the National Military Establishment, and from such other sources as he may deem appropriate.”
In the agreement negotiated between the United Kingdom and Australia in 1932, and the subsequent arrangement in 1938, responsibility for dealing with such changes was vested in the Tariff Board, which was not obliged to examine by five government departments, as is required in the United States of America. How negotiations can be satisfactorily conducted between 55 nations under the charter, I do not know. The best way in which to restore the economic condition of the world is for the British Empire as a whole to reach a trade agreement with the United States of America. Subsequently, other countries may be included in the arrangement but for the time being, the United Kingdom, the British Dominions and the United .State* of America should negotiate bilateral agreements. For many years, they have been the two principal lending countries which have kept the wheels of international commerce in motion. I still retain the views which I held when T spoke on this subject about two years ago, that we should hot be obliged to give the most-favoured-nation treatment to every country with which the United States of America has trade relations. It will be impossible to keep track of the manner in which social and industrial conditions in all other countries are reflected in their production costs. That matter is most important, because production costs in other countries may ultimately, through competition, affect our industries and cause unemployment here. The international agreements provide that British preference shall not be increased, and must ultimately disappear.
In this changing and chaotic world, I regard the negotiation of such a dogmatic agreement as the height of folly. No one can forecast with certainty the new industries that may be established here, and the degree of protection that they will require. We may not be able to afford to wait, before giving protection to a new industry, while we approach the International Trade Organization and obtain the approval of at least two-thirds of its members to .an increase of tariff in order to enable us to protect an industry. Certain industries may be most important to our development, but not so important to the development of other countries. During my lifetime, I have known many new kind3 of industries such as the motor car industry and the radio industry to spring up almost overnight. Five years after they had been established they probably employed as many people as many of the biggest industries. That experience may be repeated. Therefore, we should be in a position to protect our industries when they require protection. It is our first duty, as an integral part of the British Commonwealth of nations, to develop the Empire so that we may defend ourselves in periods of difficulty. I recall the time when the world appeared to be on the threshold of a long era of peace. Great Britain had enjoyed almost 100 years of peace because of the manner in which it had been able to strengthen its position. The United States of America had experienced 60 or 70 years of peace. If the United Kingdom and the United States of America were able to act in concert, I believe that they could preserve the peace of the world. They need to develop their resources to the maximum capacity in order to assist nations which are not well developed or are in dire need-
– Did not that era of peace occur during a period of freetrade?
– I do not desire to discuss that particular matter, because
I have been pointing out that restrictions and currency depreciation will continue during the next five years. 1 urge that ratification of the proposed trade agreement be deferred until we are able to view the position more clearly. In other words, we should not jump into water before we know its depth.
When I was in Africa, I discovered that the British territories had an order of preference which had been imposed upon them from an external source. The preference was granted to countries in the following order: - The United- Kingdom, the United States of America, ex-enemy countries of Europe, and, finally, South Africa and the other Dominions. When I discovered that such an order of preference could be granted at the present time, I ceased to wonder that so many difficulties could arise in trying to persuade India, South Africa and Burma to- remain in the British Empire. We should endeavour to make membership of the Empire so valuable to those countries from the standpoint of trade that they will be glad to remain in the British Commonwealth of Nations. From, that basis we can, by continuous trade contacts, become better acquainted with one another, and strengthen the sentimental bond between us.
If Australia ratifies this charter and is afterwards overtaken by an economic crisis, we shall not be able to act so quickly as conditions may demand, but will have to wait until we have observed the procedure prescribed in the charter. The circumstances may demand that we act overnight to correct a position. Of course, we may act overnight in certain circumstances by using exchange control, but the degree to which we may depreciate our currency is limited by these international commitments. However, we shall not be able to make a prompt adjustment of the tariff in order to meet the crisis. I realize that the Government will insist upon the Parliament ratifying the action of its representative in signing the Havana Charter, but it is not yet too late for us to reconsider our position and work for the rehabilitation of the Empire. By giving 60 days’ notice, we may move to alter the agreement, and three years hence, we may withdraw as a signatory to the charter. Almost every provision in tho document is made subject to exceptions, modifications, escape clauses and special arrangements. We can make use of the exceptions if they are to our advantage in developing the Empire to the maximum capacity. The world is in such a chaotic state that we are unable to determine precisely the permanent action that we should take in this matter. One idea which should certainly be corrected is that only those countries, colonies and dominions which are contiguous to one another by land should have the benefit of any improvement in their trading conditions and preferences. For many years, the sea has united the various parts of the British Empire. In the Middle East campaign during World War II., Great Britain lost control of the western Mediterranean for a period, but because it controlled the seas it was able to deliver supplies to its army in Egypt via the Cape of Good Hope more effectively than the Axis, which had shorter lines of transport by land, was able to do for its troops. When this agreement is to be revised, we must recognize that the sea is not a dividing factor but one of the great connecting forces of the world. Until a few years ago, the air was considered to be a dividing factor, but today it also is recognized as one of the great connecting forces. We must realize that the sea can join us with and need not separate us from the other parts of the Empire.
– I have already spoken on this subject on two occasions, and, therefore, I do not propose to occupy the time of the House by analysing in detail the various provisions of the International Trade Organization charter and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. However, I desire to express briefly the same fears which I have mentioned on previous occasions about the operation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. After studying the final draft, I find that there is nothing in it to cause me to alter the opinions which I have previously expressed. I find the same confusion of words, the same ambiguities, the same qualifications and the same references from one article to a second article and thence to a third article, all of which produces an amazing document which defies accurate and confident interpretation. 1 still visualize the same dangers to which attention has been drawn on previous occasions in respect of certain branches of production in Australia, particularly primary production. I refer to the policy of imperial preference, and to our policy of developing certain commodity agreements for the protection and the disposition of some of our products for export. Whilst some honorable members admit the existence of those dangers, they consider that Australia is forced to accept the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the Havana charter for an International Trade Organization. One reason which they advance for holding that opinion is that the purpose of the International Trade Organization is to remove threats to world peace which have developed in the past as the result of trading activities. That objective, some honorable members say, will be achieved through international co-operation. In view of the present world situation that opinion can be regarded only as a pious hope. We hope that if the various nations approve of the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade and the Havana charter, their confidence will be justified, but there is nothing in the agreement to warrant such a belief. The arrangements which nations may make under the charter may just as easily develop into a threat to peace, as previous trading arrangements between nations have done. I suggest that a possible alternative result of the International Trade Agreement could be, as far as the British Empire is concerned, a steady moving apart at least of the component parts of the Empire. I very much wonder whether thought has been given to that possibility by those responsible for the developments of the agreement? Under the operation of this agreement it will be necessary for the various component parts of the Empire to enter into trade relationships with other parts of the world, which conceivably could have the result of separating them still further from the other component parts. That is a serious possibility. There are others who contend that Australia is forced to the acceptance of this agreement because of the position in which Great Britain finds itself.
There may be some merit in that argument, but if it is considered that Australia is more or less bound to come into the agreement because of its effect on Great Britain, and the fact that Great Britain was more or less forced into acceptance of it, surely we would have been in a much better position had that realization of Australia’s responsibility been faced up to at a time when the Empire could have supported Great Britain by assisting it within the bounds of the Empire, instead of forcingit into the hands of the United States of America. I contend strongly that there was at the end of the war a responsibility on all of the component parts of the Empire to realize that Great Britain, in the early part of the war, fought alone in our defence. As a result Britain’s economy was cruelly and savagely torn to pieces. One of the first tasks facing this nation at the termination of the war was to rally to Britain’s reconstruction. That was not done, and. we are now faced with the necessity to accept this world agreement because we failed to realize our obligations then.
Others contend that unless we do that now, we will be more or less in the position of a pariah among the trading nations. One must admit in that, too, there may be some force because of the inclusion of provisions in the agreement to the effect that any nation that is not a member-nation can only trade under some difficulty, and that in the event of a member-nation entering into any form of trade agreement with a nonmembernation, the principles laid down in the agreement mus-t be followed. Therefore, even though one may be outside the agreement, one will still be forced to conform to it, in order to trade. I believe that there are few who will admit that we are in this position through failure to realize our obligations at the end of the war, and our failure to take advantage of the opportunities that then lay open to us to rally behind the Empire, which would have enabled Great Britain to recover without recourse to such questionable experiments as this agreement.
I realize and admit that the position we are facing is that the Government will pass this measure, and that Australia will thereby be committed to membership of the International Trade Organization. It is well, therefore, that we should be quite clear on certain of its implications and aspects. I say that we cannot be blind to the fact that this agreement will mean the ultimate lass of the policy of imperial preference. That policy has meant an enormous amount to the producers generally, and the primary producers of Australia particularly. It is not necessary to state additional figures on that point, as the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) this afternoon quoted figures showing the value that the application of the policy of Imperial preference has been to Australia and the Empire through the years. It is particularly regrettable that this agreement must eventually mean the loss of that policy. There are, I admit, certain apparent safeguards to this policy written into the charter. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, made reference to that, and contended that there is no danger to that principle in the agreement. I am afraid that I cannot accept that as the position although I admit that the policy of Empire preference is retained, in that provision is made that agreements entered into will remain. But we have to face the fact that the principle of Imperial preference is definitely condemned in the charter, and that all members are bound to consider any proposal or variation of the present position which may be advanced by other members. I believe that there are certain articles demanding that when one nation puts forward certain proposals affecting, as they could, some of our arrangements for Imperial preference, we are bound, under the agreement, to consider the proposals, and, if necessary, sustain our present attitude before the council of the organization. No one can say at this stage how such a provision would work. Oan we say, confidently, that if some member nation outside the British Empire challenged some of our arrangements under Imperial preference, and called upon us to sustain our attitude and our agreement before the council of the organization, as a result of a teaming-up of some of the other member nations, we would be able to do so satisfactorily? To contend, confidently, that we could do so, would be exhibiting far too great a degree of confidence. I consider that the main safeguard to this important policy is something which is not written into the agreement at all. The main safeguard is the practice of the policy of Imperial preference in the United States. As I have said before, the United States of America, which is one of the dominant nations, makes considerable use of the policy of preference. Although that country does not call it Imperial preference, it is the same thing in essence. Even at the expense of repeating what I have said before, I point out that one particularly good example of America’s use of the policy of preference was its approach to its sugar imports. For some considerable time past the American policy with regard to imports of sugar from Porto Rica and other American colonies has been that that commodity is admitted duty-free. The United States of America also imports considerable quantities of sugar from the Philippines, which, until recently, was an. American dependency. That country has now obtained its independence. The United States of America has an agreement with the Philippines whereby that country will supply to it about S5 0,000 tons of sugar annually. For several years to come the sugar will be admitted to the United States of America duty-free. Duty will then be imposed at a gradually increasing rate. According to figures that were published a few months ago, the full rate of duty on sugar entering the United States of America is about £10 a ton. Cuba is not a dependency of the United States of America and sugar from that country enters the United States of America at about half-duty rates. That proves that America applies the preference principle whenever it wishes to do so. It applies that policy also to other commodities. That provides us with an excellent answer to any challenge against the application of the policy of Imperial preference at any time. A country that intends to continue that policy cannot, in justice, require that we should alter our policy in that regard. Therefore, that is a most practical and material safeguard in this matter. It is something which impresses itself on my practical mind far more than, anything contained in the charter.
I consider that we are likely to pay u very high price for our membership of this organization. Undoubtedly, it sets out on very fine principles, but it is likely to fall because its charter is ambiguous and because it expects too much of nations. I believe that high price to be the result of our own failure to realize our responsibilities at the end of the war by getting down to the task of adjusting these matters within the Empire. They could have been faced then, instead of waiting until Great Britain was forced to go elsewhere for the assistance that it requires. It is not yet too late, because this agreement is still being discussed in various countries. We are not committed to the agreement until it has been endorsed by the Governments of the United States of America and Great Britain. We remember what happened in connexion with the International Wheat Agreement. Although that agreement was adopted in this House, it became inoperative because the United States of America did not adopt it. It is still not too late for the nations of the British Empire to get together to see whether it is possible to overcome the difficulties of that country within the boundaries of the Empire, thus overcoming the necessity for the Mother Country and the rest of the Empire to rely on the questionable security of this agreement. I feel that my attitude to the matter can best be expressed in the words that were used by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) this afternoon. They were particularly apt not only to the matter to which he was addressing himself, but also to this matter. He said -
I stand firmly upon the rock of nationhood and not in the shifting sands of internationalism.
I believe that we are in grave danger of severe loss in the matter.. I have no confidence that the objective behind this agreement will be attained.
– I have listened very attentively to the speeches on this bill delivered by honorable members on both sides of the House. I shall try to gauge what good this bill will do in binding the British Empire together, or what harm it may do by dividing it. In an endeavour to size up the matter, honorable members on both sides of the House have said very clearly that this is the result of the American loan to Britain, and that Britain had no alternative but to enter into this agreement. Whilst that may be true, Australia is is in a different position. What amazes me is the fact that during this debate, and at other times, the Minister has never said that he is reluctant to enter the agreement. This Government is entering into this agreement with enthusiasm.
– Certainly it is.
– It is apparent that this agreement is dividing the British Empire. I fail to understand why the Australian Government should adopt that attitude, with the approval of even the back-benchers on the Government side of the House. If the Government had come to us and said that it had been forced to enter into this agreement and that it was still fighting to the last ditch to continue reciprocal Empire trade, I could have understood its attitude, but [ cannot understand why it is so enthusiastic . about what the International Trade Organization will do for that body will do nothing at all for the greatest Empire that the world has ever known. Are we trying to estrange other members of the British Empire? Are we trying to break the Empire up? That seems to be the intention. The ninety-odd pages of typescript which were issued to us in connexion with the hill start off by saying that the main object is to promote on a reciprocal and mutually advantageous basis the reduction of tariffs and other barriers to international trade and commerce. The United Kingdom has been the leader of trade and commerce for centuries. Britishers have sailed wherever ships can sail and founded many a mighty state, as the poet has written. Temporarily Britain is “up against it “ financially. Yet, the Australian Government seems to want to sacrifice all that the Empire stands for in its rush to enter multilateral agreements supposedly for the common good. This agreement is closely linked with the
Bretton Woods Agreement, which I opposed.
– Order ! The House is not interested in what the honorable member did about the Bretton Woods Agreement. It is debating the International Trade Organization Bill.
– -The two are closely linked. Will the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) tell us what multilateral agreements have benefited this country to any great degree? Although Great Britain is a signatory to the agreement, it is also making bilateral agreements with other countries, especially in Europe. Australia could best help to strengthen Empire ties by keeping out of the agreement. Doubtless, the Minister will say that we are being practically forced into it, but our representatives would do well to fight to the last ditch to preserve the ties that bind the Empire. We should be given an assurance that at the first opportunity this multilateral agreement will be swept aside and that the British Empire will be enabled once more to emerge as the greatest Empire in the world and still united under the Union Jack. Under this bill there are to he no increases of existing preferences. No new preferences may be instituted and existing preferences may continue but negotiations must be entered into for their reduction and eventual elimination. The Minister has not, perhaps, said so in so many words, but he has indicated that the Government intends to barter Empire preference for the lowering of tariffs in certain other countries. To many Australian industries it is vital that Empire preference shall continue. One in which I am most interested is the dried fruits industry. The growers are apprehensive of the future because, having seen what has happened with the signing of the agreement, they believe that this bill is the beginning of the elimination of Empire preference and that its total elimination i« not far round the corner. It is clear from the terms of the agreement and the bill that Great Britain and the Dominions are reckoned as separate countries that may not give each other any better trade terms than they give to foreign countries. That is a wrong concept. The British people are linked by blood and kinship. We are still, I hope, one great family, the members of which should be able to give each other better terms than they would give to foreign countries. But this proposal completely bans the extension of Empire preference. It means that existing preferences may continue only temporarily. The International Trade Organization is primarily an attempt to overcome the imperfections of individual nations. It is hoped that by bringing these imperfections together they will cancel each other out. That is impossible. Many of the signatories of the agreement are countries that I have never had faith in. This Government, which was elected by the people of Australia, has delegated its power and authority to a conglomeration of governments and representatives of governments on whom the world cannot depend for sane administration. We are in a better position to manage our affairs than are countries that have never had a high standing in finance or trade and commerce. Individuals make up nations. The functions of individuals and nations are similar. This Government seems to have the idea that if a steamroller is run over individuals and nations they will, like a young crop that has been rolled, stool out and grow better. But that is not so. It is useless to try to bring some nations up to the level of others, and far worse than useless to try to bring other nations down to a common level. The averaging process does not work out with nations or individuals. The only justification for this measure would be that it was absolutely necessary because of the American loan to Great Britain. In entering the agreement, Australia should do so determined to withdraw from it as soon a3 possible. The Government should not approve of it so enthusiastically. It will tend to break up the Empire. No honorable member opposite has been able to show me that it will not contribute toImperial dismemberment. There are many ties that bind the British Empire, but the tie represented in Imperial trade and commerce in food and other commodities between the Empire countries, binds the Empire together as much as anything else. But we cannot, under this agreement, continue that Imperial trade in defence of which men have laid down their lives. Great minds have devised our system of Empire trade. But for the fact that, weakened by having fought almost alone for many of the signatories of the charter, Britain is suffering a temporary set-back or it would not have entered into this agreement. Many of the countries that have signed the agreement are-
– Not worth a “ bumper “.
– The honorable member’s phrase is graphic, but I shall substitute for it the statement that they do hot stand high in international trade, and that has much of the meaning of his interjection. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction smilingly presented the charter to the Parliament as one that had been agreed to at Geneva and Havana and as one that the Government intended to assist in putting into operation. But the International Trade Organization is a most dangerous experiment into which a primary producing country like Australia should not lightly enter. Only a socialist government could enmesh the country it governs in such an agreement. In support of the agreement it has been pointed out by honorable gentlemen opposite that the British Government has entered it, but we shall do well to remember the words of Mr. Winston Churchill, that the prestige of the Govern ment of Britain was never lower than it i.= at present under the control of the socialist party. Equally socialistic, this Government, of course, has decided to enter the agreement instead of standing out as it should have done. We want a government with backbone that will stand up for the Empire. I should not have taken such exception to our acceptance of the agreement had our representative put up a great fight against it and for the maintenance of Empire trade. As it is, Australia has been overwhelmed by the “ small “ nations, to whose peoples it claims will be given full employment, even at the cost of breaking up the British Empire. What is the position of Russia and the United States of America in relation to reciprocal trade? Russia is one vast area of land undivided by sea as is the British Empire, and the same may be said of -the United States of America.
Russian trade within Russia and American trade within America will go on smoothly, but every part of the British Empire is to be treated as a separate country in trade matters. That cannot do anything but break down the power of the British Empire. The power of Russia and of the United States of America, however, will become greater and greater. It is not too late for this Government to do something to hold the Empire together. It should not allow itself to drift with the tide. It should show more backbone. It ought to say, as we should like it to say, “ We are going to continue and expand and enjoy reciprocal trade throughout the British Empire “.
.- The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Davidson) said that the international trade agreement would mean the ultimate loss of Imperial preference. The inference to. be drawn is that if this agreement were not signed, Imperial preference would be restored to the significance it was given at the Ottawa conference. Great Britain has entered into a number of economic agreements, one in connexion with the Western- Union, one in connexion with the American loan, and one in connexion with Bretton Woods. The Western Union agreement contains a provision that Great Britain and the countries of western Europe shall coordinate their economic policies and shall not enter into an agreement inconsistent with the economic basis of Western Union. An agreement which would he inconsistent would he one for the restoration of Imperial preference as it was understood in the Ottawa Agreement of 1932.
– The Ottawa Agreement is still in force.
– So far as the American loan is concerned, the United Kingdom borrowed from the United States of America a sum exceeding, to use American parlance, three billion dollars. It is obvious that that has implications which are against the restoration of Imperial preference. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has interjected that the Ottawa Agreement is still in force. It is, theoreti cally; but the economy of Great Britain and of the Empire is so completely distorted at present that it would be untrue to say that the movement of goods is as it was contemplated it would be at Ottawa in 1932. Under the Bretton Woods Agreement, Great Britain in common with the other member States of the British Commonwealth, entered into an agreement which required that there should be some international agreement concerning the reduction of tariff barriers to go with the Bretton Woods Agreement, as otherwise the position of the fund established by the Bretton Woods Agreement would become impossible. The United Kingdom, as I have said, has entered into three agreements the provisions of which are inconsistent with the Ottawa Agreement of 1931. After all Great Britain was the hub of the Ottawa Agreement. It was to be the magnet for the primary products of all the Dominions. In return it obtained certain concessions from the dominions in respect of manufactured goods. Having completely abandoned the Ottawa Agreement by this agreement on tariffs and trade Great Britain will therefore not go back to the Ottawa Agreements whether this Parliament ratifies the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade or not. Great Britain financed its imports from the Dominions by means of its foreign investments in the Dominions. Australia, for instance, is a sphere in which £489,000,000 sterling, or approximately £A.612,000,000 of British capital is invested. The interest on those investments furnishes the money with which Great Britain pays for a large part of its imports from the Dominions. Its shipping services financed another part, and its own export trade financed still more. British investments in Canada have completely disappeared, except for a token investment left in the Canadian Pacific Railway. Therefore, Great Britain either has long-term loans or gifts from Canada - in fact it has received very large gifts from Canada - or it finances its import from Canada by the direct exchange of goods. It cannot now finance such imports by means of interest on investments. Canada is a sphere of American investment. If this matter be- discussed in the economic sense, Canada to-day is not a British colony but an American colony. It cannot be regarded as being within the sterling Hoc and its economy cannot be regarded as being primarily geared to that of the United Kingdom, although that was the position in 1932. Consider the position of South Africa which is overwhelmingly dependent on gold, which in its turn is overwhelmingly dependent on the continuation by the American Treasury of its policy of purchasing gold. If the United States of America ceased to purchase gold, or if it ceased to exchange a certain quantity of gold for dollars, or if it ceased to accept imports of gold to finance exports from the United States of America, the value of gold would fall spectacularly. South Africa would then quickly find out to whose economy it is geared at the present time. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) said that certain British protectorates near South Africa were extending higher preferences to foreign countries than to the Dominions. If the right honorable gentleman referred to the British protectorates of Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland, the only explanation for that is that the standard of living of those protectorates is so low that their peoples cannot buy the goods’ at the prices at which they are produced in the British Dominions. The natives of South Africa are under privileged. If they had reasonable purchasing power South Africa would have no food for export whatsoever. It would all be absorbed by the local population. The natives of South Africa do not enjoy a reasonable standard of living, and, consequently, a policy of export subsidies has been adopted in that dominion. India, however, has no purchasing problems in its relatons with the United Kingdom. Great Britain owes India £1,200,000,000. All that India is trying to do is to liquidate its idle holdings in London in the form of goods. As to its own problem, Nehru has said again and again that the solution of India’s problem is industrialization. He does not think that the machinery, capital goods, rolling-stock and communications equipment which India will obtain from abroad, can come from the United King- dora, because the United Kingdom is faced with a first-class problem in restoring its own industries. Nehru has said that India will look to the United States of America for its requirements of capital equipment. Are we to be told seriously that with the United Kingdom, by mem is of the American loan, looking to the United States of America for equipment, with Canada overwhelmingly interlocked with the United States of America in the economic sense, with South Africa dependent on the United States of America for the continuance of its gold-purchasing policy, with India in its present position, so far as purchases from Britain are concerned, it is likely that those countries will ask for a restoration of the Ottawa Agreement as it stood in 1932? Such talk is heard in three quarters only. It is heard from some Conservatives in the United Kingdom, notably Lord Beaverbrook, who has been opposed to all of these agreements entered into by Gr-at Britain. He opposed the Bretton Woods Agreement and the American loan. He thought that in order to bring about the restoration of England, there should be. an heroic policy of tightening the belt and Empire free trade. Such talk is also heard in Australia, and in .New Zealand. In Australia and New Zealand the structure of British investments is still intact. The economies of both dominions are still, and are likely to be in the future, overwhelmingly geared to that of the United Kingdom. I can see nothing in these agreements which will have the effect of diverting the flow of our primary products from the United Kingdom. We are always hearing stories from the Opposition about how best we can assist in the restoration of the United Kingdom. Setting aside the £35,000,000 worth of gifts that this country has made to Great Britain - and they do not. represent a significant item in the economy of Great Britain - we have still been directing to the United Kingdom the major part of our export trade. We have what is termed rather stupidly by economists a “ favourable balance of trade “ with the United Kingdom. We have been developing credits in London, which is a sign that our exports are still being directed there. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) has suggested that our gifts to the United Kingdom are valueless. I have not heard any British statements to that effect, and £ doubt if I shall do so. It is obvious that a credit of that magnitude must be ultimately translated to the purchase of goods from this country, and it assists the United Kingdom in a policy for which it has asked. Great Britain has asked those countries which are prepared to allow it credits to be content not te receive the volume of exports which they would expect to receive from it. lt has tried to direct its exports to those countries which will not give lt credit, or to those countries to which it is greatly indebted but which are not prepared to have large sterling balances frozen under a gentleman’s agreement, such as we have, in London. What our gift of £35,000,000 means is that there is an amount of £35,000,000 in London which we will never claim and for which the United Kingdom will never have to pay in goods. To suggest that it is of no importance that Great Britain should not have to send to this country £35,000,000 worth of goods, or to export them to another country which will not give it credit for them, seems te me to be lop-sided reasoning. Australian farmers will be interested in the new protectionist line adopted by the members of the Australian Country party. It is curious that the Labour party which was always lambasted about the Scullin tariff - although that tariff survived for ten years after the fall of the Scullin Government - is at the moment engaged in restoring some measure cf free trade. In the course of his protectionist argument the right honorable member for Cowper referred to the period in England’s history when that country made unbounded economic progress, when it led the world industrially and when the world was enjoying 100 years of peace. Because it would run contrary to his argument, the right honorable gentleman omitted to mention that that was a period of British free trade.
Mr. DEDMAN (Corio- -Minister for Defence, Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and Minister in charge of the
Council foi’ Scientific and Industrial Research) [9.12]. - in reply - The purpose of the bill is to enable the Australian Government te sign instruments of acceptance of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the Havana charter subject to the United States of America and the United Kingdom taking similar action. The bill also provides for the ratification of certain protocols in connexion with both the agreement and the charter. In replying to the matters raised by honorable members in this debate, I shall not make a lengthy speech. En my second-reading speech and also in one or two speeches which I made when this Parliament accepted provisionally the Geneva agreement at the beginning cf this year I gave reasons to justify Australia entering into the agreement and adhering to’ the Havana Charter.
I wish to divide the subjectmatter of the bill into two parts. First, I ‘ pointed out that ‘ this Parliament has provisionally ratified the Geneva agreement. At the time that was done, there was a very lengthy debate in the House on the subject. Secondly, I point out that many of the articles cf the Havana Charter duplicate the articles of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Since this Parliament has accepted the Geneva agreement provisionally.. I can see no valid reason why it should not accept the agreement definitively, provided the United States of America and the United Kingdom take similar action. Many of the arguments raised by honorable members opposite are relative te the discussion that took place some months ago on the Geneva agreement. Much of what was said by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), and, indeed, by most other honorable members opposite, in relation to the Ottawa Agreement and the preferences enjoyed under that agreement was dealt with during the debate which resulted in the provisional acceptance by this Parliament of the Geneva agreement. The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) said a few days ago that it was no new thing for the Labour party to be opposed to Empire preference. I dealt with the subject of Empire preference in great detail when this matter was last before the House. I then pointed out that the first government to interfere with the Ottawa Agreement, and to reduce preferences, was an anti-Labour government away back in 1938. Without receiving anything at all in return it gave away certain of the preferences that we enjoyed under the agreement.
– It was a very small modification of the agreement.
– The honorable member makes the well-worn excuse that it was only a very small modification and that the alteration was, in fact, only slight. If I remember rightly, we had a very important preference of 2s. a quarter in regard to wheat, but the government of the day gave it away without getting anything in return. The honorable member has moved an amendment which is not even original-
– I said that the amendment was similar to one which had been moved in the New Zealand Parliament.
– The honorable member said nothing of the kind. I found it out myself. The amendment ls the same, almost word for word, as the one that was moved in the New Zealand Parliament. In any case, the amendment, in the form in which it has been moved, is a stupid one. There is no other term to describe it. The wording of the amendment is as follows: -
That all words after “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 “.
Under the Ottawa Agreement, the United Kingdom enjoys certain preferences in the Australian market, and Australia enjoys certain preferences in the United Kingdom market. However, the honorable member’s amendment does not deal with the preferences that we enjoy in the United Kingdom market, but only with the preferences that the United Kingdom enjoys in the Australian market. The Government of the United Kingdom has intimated iti intention to deposit an instrument of acceptance of the Havana charter. Therefore, the United Kingdom will be bound by the charter, which provides that it may not seek any preference in the Australian market. Thus the amendment means nothing at all, and is, in fact, a stupid one. The honorable member for Balaclava said that the Havana charter and the Geneva agreement were unacceptable to Australia, and to Empire countries generally. Let us deal with the Geneva agreement first, and see whether it is acceptable in Australia. Mr. P. B. Newcomen, president of the Graziers Federal Council, has spoken in support of the agreement. Mr. A. E. Heath, president of the .Sydney Chamber of Commerce, also approved of the agreement. The financial editor of the Melbourne Herald, a journal which cannot be said to be friendly to the Labour party, has written in terms favourable to the agreement. The Melbourne Age, in a leading article, has stated -
General agreement must be accepted in a spirit of reasonable compromise - with reservations, Australia will nevertheless accept the agreement as the first really effective evidence of international co-operation since the end of the war.
There is nothing very critical in that. Mr. Peter Malloch, a member of the Dried Fruits Export Control Board, and Mr. P. R. Wilkins. secretary of the Associated Chambers of Commerce, have also expressed approval of the agreement. There is no doubt that public opinion in Australia is in favour of both the Geneva agreement and the Havana charter.
The honorable member for Balaclava also said that the Geneva agreement and the Havana charter were unacceptable to Empire countries. I have shown that they are acceptable to Australia, generally, and now what about the other Empire countries ? The United Kingdom Government has intimated its intention to introduce legislation similar to that which we are now considering. The New Zealand Government has already introduced such a measure. The Governments of South Africa and Canada have stated that they will bring down legislation for the same purpose. Thus, every one of the governments of the British Commonwealth of Nations, including that of the United Kingdom, has stated that it will do exactly what the Australian Government is now doing; yet the honorable member for Balaclava has the temerity to suggest that the agreement and the charter are unacceptable to Empire countries.
Much has been said on the subject of Imperial preference. The purpose of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Balaclava is to give the Australian Government the right to freely grant preference in the Australian customs tariff for the benefit of other Empire countries. The amendment is, in effect, a negation of the bill itself. It implies that under the agreement and the charter, there is no provision for granting new preferences should British countries wish to do so. That is not so. It is evident that honorable members opposite have not even taken the trouble to study the charter properly. In Article 16, there is preserved the margin of preference that remained at the conclusion of the tariff negotiations last year. In Article 40, provision is made for the restoration of any preference that has been refused if there should be a flood of imports threatening the economy of the country concerned. In Article 15, there is provision for the creation of new preferences in certain defined circumstances. It is true that the approval of the organization must be given to the establishment of new preferences, but it is open to any country to seek such approval if it desires new preferential arrangements with another country. Thus, a great deal of what has been said by honorable members opposite about preferences is without foundation.
The honorable member for Balaclava also charged the Government with reducing certain customs duties without reference to the Australian Tariff Board. May I point out that, once again, it was a government in which the honorable member was a Minister that first reduced customs duties without reference to the Tariff Board. It is true that, in negotiations between the representatives of a large number of countries - there were only eighteen at Geneva, but at Havana there were 58 - it is impracticable to have a discussion on tariffs going on at home at the same time that tariff bargaining is proceeding at the conference. Reductions of customs duties must be used as bargaining points to induce other governments to reduce their tariffs. On such an occasion it would be impracticable to consult the Australian Tariff Board, officially at any rate, on matters which formed the subject of negotiation with other governments. That is why the Government of which the honorable gentleman was a Minister did not approach the Tariff Board when it reduced certain duties in 1938 under trade treaties with France and Czechoslovakia.
Mr.White. - That was in the intermediate tariff.
– It does not matter what tariff it was in; the principle remains the same. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) had something to say about the bill. The description of him given by my leader is apt. He dubbed the honorable member the de facto leader of the Opposition. The term de facto suits him very well, because almost every argument he used tonight was illegitimate. He said that the charter would rob the Australian Government of itsfiscal autonomy. It will do nothing of the kind. He said that it would deprive Australia of the right to protect itself against economic depression. It will do no such thing. He said that it would deprive Australia of the power to protect its industries. It will not. He said Australia was not committed under the Mutual Aid Agreement with the United States of America to enter into arrangements regarding trade. That statement is wrong. Australia is committed just as much as is the United Kingdom.We received goods from the United States of America under the lend-lease agreement, and entered into a mutual aid pact which contained a clause binding us to take part in trade negotiations.
-We would have done so even had we not been bound by such a clause.
– That is true, but I am merely emphasizing that every point raised by the honorable member for Reid was without any justification. The honorable member said that if we accepted agreement definitively we could not prevent the export of pig iron. “We can prevent the export of pig iron. He said that we could not prevent the export of uranium. That matter also is covered by an exception in the charter, and the export of uranium can be prevented. He said that if potatoes were in short supply here and higher prices could be obtained for them overseas than in Australia, we could not prevent their export and that our own people would go short. That is completely untrue. He said that we could not prevent the export of worsted materials if they were in short supply in this country. That also is without foundation. Every point that was raised by the honorable member for Reid was without foundation. He is well named the de facto Leader of the Opposition, because he can bring forward nothing but illegitimate matters.
I propose now to make a few observations on the charter itself. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke) made a valuable contribution to the debate when he showed that one of the great causes of wars in this century has been the disturbance of international trade relations such as that which took place between the two world wars. I believe that in trade disputes there may lie the cause of another world war. Therefore, any attempt that is made by the peoples of the world to agree upon methods by which international trade should be conducted and to provide a meeting point at which they can discuss their difficulties and disagreements is something that should meet with the approval of every one who has the peace of the world at heart. This is made perfectly clear by a study of the history of the world between the two world wars. If honorable members opposite will refer to the memoirs of Mr. Winston Churchill which were published recently, they will find that Mr. Churchill subscribes to the argument that was so ably adduced by the honorable member for Perth and which I am also putting forward. When a depression threatened the world in the 1930’s each country applied restrictive trade practices. They only made the position worse. One of the chief reasons why Hitler came into power was that, by means of a series of bilateral treaties, nf the kind that the right honorable mem-
Mr. Dedman. ber for Cowper has talked so much about, he was able to tie to the German economy the economies of almost all of the European countries. In that way, he increased the strength of Germany and was ultimately able to wage an aggressive war. Anything that can be done to ensure that restrictive trade practices are not again resorted to will assist in ensuring that another war will not break out in the near future.
– That is wishful thinking.
– I do not know whether it is wishful thinking, but it is a matter to which millions of people who are praying for world peace are directing their minds. Surely a government should not be criticized for devoting its attention, as this Administration has done, to an international agreement that will help to prevent the difficulties of trade being aggravated in the way in which they were aggravated between the two world wars, for it may thereby avoid another world conflict.
– That has nothing to do with this question.
– It has a great deal to do with this question. I said earlier that there was one feature of international relations and domestic policy between the two world wars to which I wanted to refer in greater detail. It is the question of employment.
– Order ! Employment has no relation to the question that is now before the Chair.
– There is * chapter-
-Order! The Chair has ruled that the subject to which the Minister wishes to refer has no relation to the question that is before the Chair.
– I intend, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, to deal with certain passages in Chapter 2 of the charter.
– I point out to the Minister that, in replying to the debate, he is entitled only to deal with questions that have been raised in the course of the debate. There has been no debate on employment so far, and the Minister will be raising an entirely new issue if he deals with the subject now.
– The bill is designed to enable the Government of Australia to deposit instruments of acceptance of a charter, and that charter deals with employment.
– I have pointed out that the Minister’s right of reply extends only to questions that have been dealt with by other speakers, and no other speaker has dealt with employment. Consequently, there is nothing to which the Minister need reply in regard to employment.
– Other speakers have dealt with the restriction of trade and the effect that it will have on Imperial preference. Imperial preference was brought into being by the Ottawa Agreement, which was the answer to the HawleySmoot tariff legislation that was passed by the Congress of the United States of America. If the United States of America had not raised its tariffs to a high level under that legislation, the Ottawa Agreement would not have been concluded, and we should not have had Imperial preference in its present form. The Congress of the United States of America would not have passed the Hawley-Smoot legislation if it had not been faced with grave unemployment in America.
– I am not concerned with the Hawley-Smoot tariff or with any other such arrangements. All I am concerned with are the rules and Standing Orders of this House. Neither the Minister nor any other honorable member is entitled to defy the ruling of the Chair.
– It seems that I can not pursue that line of argument. Restrictive practices throughout the world are bound up ‘ with traditional employment policies. Unless we are able to depart from these policies insofar as they have failed to deal with the employment problem in the various countries of the world, countries will continue to apply the restrictive trade practices that are prohibited by this charter.
I believe that the people of Australia and the peoples of the British Common wealth of Nations generally are in agreement with the principlesof this charter. It will be a good thing for the Parliament to ratify the Havana charter and to bring the Geneva agreement into effect definitively, it having already been brought into effect provisionally. There is a curious alinement of forces in opposition to the Geneva agreement and the Havana charter. The only governments in the world that are violently opposed to both the Havana charter and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade are the Government of the Soviet Union and the governments of the countries that are under Soviet domination.
– Their reasons for opposing the charter and the agreement are quite different from the reasons advanced by honorable members on this side of the House.
– That may be so. The honorable member for Balaclava finds himself in strange company.The only governments in the world to-day that are opposed to the Havana charter and to the Geneva Agreement on Tariffs and Trade are the governments of the Soviet Union, Poland and other Soviet satellites. In addition, the Communist party in Australia has expressed its opposition to both the Havana charter and the Geneva Agreement. It is a curious combination. The honorable member for Reid, honorable members opposite, the Communist party in Australia, the Soviet Government and the governments of Poland and other Russian satellites are all opposed to the Havana charter and to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Those who are adopting that attitude have no interest in the reconstruction of the world. Russia desires that the economies of the European countries shall be thrown into such a state of chaos that the Communist doctrine will be easily inculcated into their peoples and more areas of Europe will be brought within the Soviet sphere of influence. Honorable members opposite are not really interested in the prosperity of Australia.. All that they want to do is to throw some doubt on the value of the achievements of this Government and thereby assist in creating an atmosphere which they hope will be favorable for them at the next general election.
The honorable member for Reid and the honorable member for Balaclava stated that the manufacturing industries of Australia were in danger because of the tariff reductions that were made at Geneva and because, under the Havana charter, we have undertaken to enter into further negotiations. Those remarks have no relation to the position in Australia to-day. I tabled recently a paper showing that new industries and new branches of industry to the value of £144,000,000 had been established in Australia between 1945 and the date when the paper was tabled. Is it likely that firms from the United Kingdom and the United States of America, as well as local firms, would expand their businesses to that degree if they were afraid that the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade or some other commitment into which the Australian Government was entering under the Havana charter would endanger the prospects of their businesses in Australia? There is not the slightest fear in the minds of Australian business people that the success of their enterprises will be in any way endangered by the provisions of the Geneva agreement or of the Havana charter.
I believe that the Australian Government is to be commended for having taken a leading part in these negotiations. Chapter II. of the charter, which deals with employment, is one for which the representatives of the Australian Government were responsible. If it had not been for the activities of the Australian delegation, that chapter would not have been included in the charter. Its inclusion represents one of the great achievements of the Australian Government and the Australian delegations to the conferences.
– It means exactly nothing.
– The charter may not be a perfect document. It is the result of a series of compromises made by the 58 nations represented at Havana. It was not possible for the Australian delegation to get its own way on every article of the charter, but, in the circumstances, we believe that the charter, as finally accepted and signed at Havana, is the best instrument for the control of international trade that can be evolved when so many people put their views and have different interests which they want to protect within the confines of the charter. Because it is the best instrument that we can get, and because so many other countries have signified their intention to accept the charter, I believe that Australia will be detrimentally affected if it does not accept both the charter and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade definitively, as we have already done provisionally. For that reason, I. hope that the House will agree to the bill.
Question put; -
That the words proposed to be left out (Mr. White’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the hill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 - (1.) Subject to this section, approval is hereby given to the depositing by Australia with the Secretary-General of the United Nations of instruments of acceptance of -
– I move -
That the following sub-clause he added: - “ (3.) Nothing in this Act shall in any way restrict the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia from making reciprocal preferential trade and tariff arrangements with the United Kingdom and other countries, territories, or dependencies within the British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations with respect to products of primary industries, including the following -
The amendment is designed to preserve the right to maintain the preferential trade and tariff arrangements which were consolidated by the United Kingdom and Australia Trade Agreement Act 1932, commonly known as the Ottawa Agreement. The first primary product mentioned in my amendment is sugar, and I propose to make particular reference to that commodity. When speaking in this chamber on the International Conference on Trade and Employment on the 10th March last, the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) said -
The Government has taken every precaution to ensure that the sugar industry will be safeguarded to the same degree under the charter as it has been in the past. The form of protection may be slightly different from that provided in the past, but - andI am prepared to stake my political reputation on this - it will be equally effective.
On the 26th November, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) presented to this House a protocol for the prolongation of the International Sugar Agreement regarding the regulation of production and the marketing of sugar. He said -
Article 3 (3) of the protocol provides that in revising the Agreement due account shall be taken of any general principles of commodity policy embodied in any agreement which may be concluded under the auspices of the United Nations; In the event of an agreement based on such revision coming before us before the 31st August, 1!)4J), the present protocol shall thereupon terminate.
That protocol wa3 signed for the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia by John A. Beasley, who, it will be remembered, said in this Parliament during the debate on the Ottawa Agreement in 1932-
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.
Under the terms of the schedule to the L932 act, it is to continue in force until a date six months after notice of denunciation has been given by either party. No such notice has been given by either party in respect of any of the items listed in my amendment. An attempt has been made, however, to get around the Ottawa Agreement, especially with relation to sugar, by using the following means: - (1) The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has assured the sugar industry that it is safeguarded by a separate international agreement; (2) that international agreement is contained in the protocol which I have mentioned, preserving the International Sugar Agreement until the 31st August, 1949; and (3) that protocol contains within itself, under Article 3 specific provisions for its earlier termination, which will make the sugar industry completely subservient to the terms of the International Trade Organization Act, which is aimed at the ultimate elimination of Imperial preference.
The Havana charter contains in addition to sections dealing with intergovernmental commodity agreements, most important sections relating to nondiscriminatory administration of quantitative restrictions, reduction of tariffs, elimination of preferences and “mostfavourednation “ treatment. In other words, it aims at placing Japan and Russia ultimately in as favourable a trade position with Australia as is Great
Britain at present. On the 14th September, 1948, the “mostfavourednation “ treatment for western Germany was agreed to by thirteen nations, and it is no secret that similar treatment for Japan is even now being sought by a major power. The Minister will probably quote Article 16 to show that British preferences are not in fact eliminated. I point out, however, that Article 1 pledges each nation to promote action for the reduction of tariffs and the elimination of discriminatory treatment in international commerce. The whole purpose of this bill is the ultimate extinction of Empire preference.
I have just received an official booklet that was published by the United Nations secretariat in July, 1948. On page six, in the explanation of the Havana charter, and referring to Chapter I. it says that devices such as import quotas which discriminate to the advantage of cue country as against another must be gradually abolished. On page 7, referring to Chapter IV., it says -
The first section lays down the general principles of “ most-favoured nation “ treatment amongst member countries, while allowing certain existing preferential systems to remain, subject to negotiations for eliminating them in time.
These obviously are official intimation? that the Havana charter is specifically designed to destroy the import quota system, on which the International Sugar Agreement is based, and also to destroy the system of Empire preference. What dees the official statement by the United Nations Secretariat mean? The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction will doubtless give us another of those verbal assurances for which he is notorious. What A require, however, and what the primary producers cf Australia demand, is something in black and white which will protect them against removal of preferences by the signatory nations, amongst whom Australia will have only one vote, and a very small voice indeed. This bill, which attempts to nullify the Ottawa Agreement slowly but surely, . without legally signing its death warrant, doe.= not give those assurances. If the Minister is satisfied that preference on the item? mentioned in my amendment is adequately safeguarded, he will have no hesitation in accepting the amendment. to make assurance doubly sure. If he refuses to accept the amendment, we are justified in assuming that Empire preference is doomed under this bill. Consequently the adoption of my amendment would give honorable members, including those .representing constituencies in which sugar, dairy products, flour, meat, base metals, &c, are produced, the opportunity of declaring for or against the system of Empire preferences, until a system better than that contemplated, in the present bill is devised.
If the Government does not accept my amendment, I intend to force a division in order to test the sincerity of honorable members in relation to the desirability of maintaining Empire preference. I submit the amendment for the consideration of the committee.
.- The Government cannot, of course, accept the amendment moved by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden)-
– That is not a surprise.
– No, it is not surprising at all. I dealt with the principles involved in these proposals when replying during the second-reading debate on this measure. In fact, the amendment now moved is merely a variation of the amendment to the motion for the second reading of the bill that was moved by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White).
– But it is more specific.
– Yes, but it involves the same principles. Since I dealt with that aspect very fully during the second-reading debate, I shall not deal with it in great detail now. The plain fact is that if the Government accepted this amendment, it would not be possible to adhere to the Geneva agreement or to the Havana Charter at all. It is purely a negative amendment in that, if accepted, Australia would have to act contrary to the Charter of the International Trade Organization, and we would have to take steps to get out of the general agreement that was made at Geneva. Of course if we did that, it would involve a good many thing? being done which honorable members opposite would find it difficult to justify in their electorates. For example, we would find that immediately the American tariff on wool would be increased to what, it was previously, which was 34 cents per lb. In turn, that would result in a decrease in the consumption of wool by the United States of America because of the higher tariff imposed as a result of the retaliation by the United States of America against Australia for our failing to honour the agreement that we entered into at Geneva. Doubtless honorable members opposite would try to make capital out of that in their electorates. They would not be prepared to tell the truth about the matter, which is, that in agreeing to certain reductions in preference we enjoyed in the United Kingdom market, we obtained concessions from other countries which more than offset any of the concessions that we granted.
– Mention one item.
– That is not a matter for me to speak about at present. The honorable member has been told the story quite often, and I am not going to repeat what I have said before. If the honorable gentleman will appeal to the representatives of the primary producers, whom he knows quite well, they will tell him of the great advantages which accrue to Australia as the result of the Geneva agreement, and which will continue to accrue as the result of the operation of the Havana charter.
The Leader of the Australian Country party had a good deal to say about the sugar industry. That industry is protected under the articles ‘ of the Havana charter. The preference we enjoy in the United Kingdom on sugar was not even mentioned during the course of the Geneva negotiations, so that there is no alteration of the position in relation to sugar.
– Is it not governed by an international agreement?
– Yes; if the right honorable gentleman will wait a moment, I shall explain.-
– If the right honorable gentleman wishes to remain at the table he must remain silent whilst the Minister explains the position.
– We did not trade our preference in sugar at the Geneva negotiations at all. It was not even mentioned. No country brought up the subject of sugar in the Geneva conference, ft remains as it was before those negotiations were completed. I trust that I have made the position clear to the right honorable gentleman. The other aspect pf the matter that I wish to make perfectly clear is that under the Havana charter the sugar industry is adequately protected. The charter makes provision for international commodity agreements. Within the terms of that agreement, the sugar industry of Australia can be protected just as effectively as it has been protected up to now.
– Like the wheat industry was protected under the agreement with New Zealand ?
– I remind the honorable gentleman that the Government that his party supported gave away a preference of 2s. a quarter that we enjoyed in the United Kingdom market.
– If the Minister says that often enough he will believe that it is true.
– Many other items are protected in the same way. Any arrangement that we have had up to the present time in relation to butter and cheese, and any organization for the protection of those commodities that we have in Australia would be covered by the commodity agreements. That also applies to a great many other items that have been mentioned. The Government will not accept the amendment moved by the right honorable gentleman.
.- I support the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), to what I consider to be the most important clause in the bill. I warn the Government that
I do not believe the Australian Labourparty knows where the Minister is taking it. This charter is a bureaucratic dream, and by its acceptance we are threatening the policy of protection in Australia and destroying the tried and trusted preferential trade system operating in the British Empire, which is not a matter of sentiment, but of common sense, although sentiment, runs through it. It is a wise bargain and an agreement of the head as well as of the heart. The amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Australian Country party is specific, whereas the amendment that 1 moved was of a general nature. To show what items should be protected, I shall inform the committee what happened during the first five years of the operation of the Ottawa Agreement. In that period exports to the United Kingdom rose from 36 per cent, to 49 per cent, of our total exports. Exports to the United Kingdom increased as follows: - Barley by 270 per cent., cheese by 107 per cent., eggs by 167 per cent., apples by 30$ per cent., pears by 106^ per cent., butter by 39^ per cent., leather by 126 per cent, and canned fruit by 80J per cent. There was a general increase to 90 per cent, in the export to Great Britain of everything that we exported except wool and wheat, of which there were other large buyers, although Great Britain bought most of our export surplus of wool and wheat also. All those preferences are ultimately to go by the board. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has signed away our economic sovereignty. He has accepted this shadow for the very substantial substance that we have had under Imperial preference. Winding up the, second-reading debate, the Minister, who not surprisingly, will not accept the amendment, asked what we had done in 1937. We have never opposed the principles of this trade treaty. We realize that trade treaties cannot remain static and modifications have to be made from time to time. We do not agree with the principle of free trade espoused by the honorable member for Perth, however. Nor do we agree with the naive claim of the Minister that tariffs cause wars. Hitherto protection has always been the policy of the Australian Labour party. Is it now that party’s policy that protection shall be abandoned and that Australia’s standard of living shall be. reduced to that of the Japanese and other eastern nations, whose people do not enjoy the comforts enjoyed by even the humblest workman in Australia ? I should like to know how we can hope to compete with those countries if we do not foster and protect our industries. The Minister asked what threatened our industries. He mentioned the names of half a dozen people who approved of the agreement. One can always get someone to agree with something. Doubtless the people whose names he quoted are theorists and free-traders who do not understand that an economic balance must be maintained and that industries must be fostered. One must not go to extremes in tariff matters. Tariffs must not be too high or too low. The purpose of our tariffs has been dual - the protection of industries and the raising of revenue. Within the last few days one deputation has been to Canberra to complain that a great Australian industry employing about 10,000 workers is already threatened.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Clark).Order! The honorable member for Balaclava must keep to the clause, which deals with the approval of the acceptance of the agreement and the charter, and the amendment which relates to specific items.
– The Minister has referred to the ease with which adjustments may be made. Article 40 of the charter for an International Trade Organization which is headed “Emergency Action on Imports of Particular Products “, reads -
This article envisages a situation where, through unforeseen developments, a tariff concession (including a preference) leads to the importation of a particular product in such increased quantities and under such conditions as to cause or threaten serious injury to a domestic producer of a like product or a directly competitive product.
And so it goes on paragraph after paragraph. I shall not weary honorable members by reading them all. They are all couched in entangling legal jargon, but their effect is that in certain circumstances immediate action can be taken if an Australian industry is threatened. The article further provides -
The Members which have a substanial interest may for their part, not later than 91) days after such action is taken, after 30 days notice to the Organization deny the affected Member of such substantially equivalent concessions as the Organization approves.
A threatened industry would depend for protection on a super-bureaucratic body consisting of about 5,000 officials in Geneva, among whom Australia has minor representation. By the time action was taken, the industry would be dead or dying. A post-mortem, not a tariff inquiry, would be conducted. That is what we are walking into. The Minister boasts that we have not suffered yet and that the American duty on wool has been reduced. Some one has pulled the wool over his eyes. I challenge him to point to £19 worth of extra business that we have done as the result of the months that he and his entourage have spent with their international confreres in bringing this organization into being. I concede that the United States of America reduced its duty on Australian wool, but we have not sold to that country any more wool than we should normally have sold to it. Wool is an internationally needed commodity and we have almost a monopoly of the fine wools. Our wool will sell because it is needed, not because the duty on it has been reduced. The policy of protection and Empire preference that has been built up in Australia is to be pulled down now because of the shibboleth that nations can get together in such a matter as this. The International Trade Organization would be acceptable if it were an advisory body. Every one would support it if advice were its function, but we cannot support it as it would have power to interfere with domestic matters such as tariff charges. Australia will meet with great trouble as the result of its membership of the International Trade Organization. We shall not feel the full impact for a while. You, Mr. Chairman, prevented me from discussing a recent deputation that complained about the threat to one Australian industry by this new concept of international trade. I foresee many similar deputations. The Associated
Chambers of Manufactures of Australia at its annual convention in Sydney last month unanimously passed the following resolution: -
That this Annual Conference reaffirms its support of the Empire Tariff Preference principle in all its aspects and believes that this policy is in the best interests of world commerce, industrial expansion and development
Because of Imperial preference Great Britain imported 26,000,000 cwt. of Empire sugar in 1937 compared with only 5,000,000 cwt. in 1920 ,-nd 536,000 cwt. of Empire raisins in 1937 compared with only 147,000 cwt. in 1920. Imperial preference is misunderstood by foreign nations. They are jealous of its success. They believe that it is selfish and exclusive, whereas it is nothing of the kind. It sets an example of co-operation to the rest of the world. The Age newspaper, which is not given to extravagant statements but does believe in the development of the Empire, in a leading article on the 15th June, stated -
Two clauses in the present draft agreement relating to the British part of the European recovery plan threaten the economic interests of 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 the possible devaluation of the pound.
Article 17 of the Charter, which is headed “Reduction of Tariffs and the Elimination of Preferences “, provides for negotiations for the reduction of tariffs and the elimination of preferences. The Empire Producer, for September-October, 1948, published the following letter written to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) 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 cases the total elimination of preferences, in the negotiations conducted at Geneva in 1948. We regard adequate Empire Preferences as absolutely essential to the stability of the Dried Fruits Industry in this country. Other Empire Preferences. Australia settled hundreds of returned soldiers in the Industry following World War I., and it is now planning further soldier settlement following World War II. Production has now reached* a total of 100,000 tons per annum.
The committee refers to the possibility of the Californian dried fruits industry capturing the English market from Aus-, tralia, lt may be enlightening to honorable members if I tell them that the dried fruits industry, which is mainly concentrated in the electorate of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull), in which the Australian Government and the Victorian Government has invested millions of pounds and whose annual production is worth £6,000,000, is so well organized that it has never suffered a depression. That industry is now to be placed in jeopardy by people who place international beliefs before national obligations. I direct the attention of honorable members to Articles 16 and 17. “Under the heading “ General Most - favoured - nation Treatment “, Article 16 states -
This article contains a statement of unconditional most-favoured nation treatment and prescribes all forms of discrimination. To this general rule there is a number of exceptions. . . .
Yes, there arc exceptions. The United States of America gives preference to its island possessions in the Pacific in respect of copra. It gives preference to the commodities of Cuba and the Philippines. Yet Empire preferences are to be whittled away. I agree with the honorable member for Wimmera that the United States of America and Russia are compact land masses and that each can trade freely within its own borders. It is not understood that an Empire spread throughout the world is also entitled to something approximating a customs union. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who is usually well informed, showed appalling ignorance about the Ottawa Agreement. He was even ignorant of the date on which it came into operation. Then he said that it had been supported by Lord Beaverbrook. “Nothing of the kind ! Lord Beaverbrook believed in free trade between Empire countries
– The honorable member for Fremantle did not say that Lord Beaverbrook had supported the Ottawa Agreement.
– He did say that, Apparently the Minister was absent in either body or mind when he said it.
Anyway, if the honorable member for Fremantle did not say it, let him deny having said it himself-
– The honorable member should not tell lies.
- Mr. Chairman, I ask that the Minister withdraw that remark and apologize for having made it.
– To what remark of the Minister does the honorable member for Balaclava object?
– The Minister said that I told lies.
– If the Minister made such a remark as that, I ask him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it.
– And apologize, I hope, although it does not matter much. Article 17, under the heading “Reduction of Tariffs and the Elimination of Preferences “, states -
Each member undertakes to enter into negotiations directed to the reduction of tariffs (and other charges on imports and exports) and the elimination of preferences on a reciprocal and mutually advantageous basis. . . .
That is an obligation that we should not be obliged to enter into. The Minister and his supporters have claimed that Great Britain was so compromised that she had entered into the agreement, but Mr. Churchill in the House of Commons on the 13th December, 1945, said -
The position of Imperial preference was absolutely safeguarded by mc under Article VII. of the Mutual Aid Agreement and by the insertion of the words in the Atlantic Charter, “without prejudice to existing obligations”.
Let us hope that this organization will not work as its objectives are unrealizable.
– That shows the honorable member’s shortsighted approach to world problems.
– When the honorable member has seen a little more of the world he will have a different outlook. His loyalties are wrong. We have three loyalties, the first to Australia and its development; the second to that league of nations, the British Empire; and the third is an internationality based on a desire to make the nations more united and the world a better place to live in. It must not be forgotten, how ever, that charity begins at home and that internationalism that menaces us and our kin is to be deprecated.
.- The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) lives so far back in the past that he is unable to accept the changing views of the world. He will not admit the mistakes of the policy that he has espoused. He said that he could not subscribe to the free trade policy that I and, presumably, the Government advocated. I point out to honorable members and the country generally that neither free trade nor protection has been the subject of this debate. The debate has been confined to the Havana charter and to the Geneva agreement. At both the Geneva and the Havana conferences there emerged the desire of all the peoples of the world to get together and to assess tariff- policies of nations individually and collectively on the effect that they have on other nations or groups of nations. The Ottawa Agreement, as the honorable member said, appears to confer on the participating nations some major benefits, but, as I have pointed out previously, when the Ottawa Agreement was signed, the world was in the throes of the worst depression it has ever experienced. It had te rise from that depression or sink into despair, revolution and ruin. All the nations recognize that bilateral trade agreements bring in their train other bilateral agreements as retaliatory measure? and that in the final analysis they result in a contraction of the world’s markets. The agreement which was formulated at Ottawa and which was given effect by the then Minister for Trade and Customs, the late Sir Henry Gullett, and the then Prime Minister, now Lord Bruce, had exactly that effect. At a time when the trade of the world had contracted sharply the nations of the British Empire sought to preserve as far as possible the markets in British countries for members of the British Empire. The Ottawa Agreement was formulated and signed; but it inevitably brought in its train retaliatory measures by other countries. Because of its contiguity to the United States of America, Canada never fully entered into the provisions of the Ottawa Agreement. It had to remain on friendly terms with the United States of America and that great nation extended most-favoured nation treatment to Canada. It is apparent that if two countries sign a bilateral trade agreement with the object of dividing a certain volume of their trade, such an agreement can he made effective only at the expense of some other trading nation which is inexorably forced to find some other outlet for its goods. That is what happened following the signing of the Ottawa Agreement. Shortly afterwards a world economic conference was held. The nations looked to that conference to find a solution of the disturbing problem of world trade. That conference failed to find a way out of the morass because the United States of America, the greatest industrial nation in the world, refused to participate in it. The conference was incapable of producing any worthwhile solution of the shocking difficulties that confronted humanity at that time merely because one major country stood out and refused to participate in it.
The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) referred to the alarm expressed by representatives of the chambers of commerce and manufactures about the effect of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs on Australian industries. I propose to read a short extract from a letter written hy Mr. Oscar Seppelt, president of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, regarding the Ottawa Agreement and its effect upon Australia’s manufacturing industries. The letter which was written on the loth November, 1932 was addressed to the then Prime Minister, the late Mr. Lyons. The extract reads -
Speaking now for the manufacturers of Australia generally, we can frankly say that had any indication been given that Messrs. Bruce and Gullett were going to Ottawa with practically an unlimited fiscal charter, this organization at the outset would have pressed for a clear definition of the powers of the delegation, and would have protested in unmistakable terms at any suggestion that the Commonwealth Parliament was to be hound to accept automatically the outcome of their deliberations.
Mr. Seppelt went on to indicate that in his view the concessions made at Ottawa were not only damaging to, but destructive of, Australian industry. I quote his remarks to show that when any change in trade relations are contemplated Australian manufacturers fear that their interests may be threatened. That is true of some Australian manufacturers to-day in relation to this new agreement. We must look at the wider implications of this world organization and at prevailing world economy in order to see the agreement in its proper perspective. At present, because there is ample purchasing power among the peoples of the world, we have no difficulty in selling all the goods we can produce; but that state of affairs may not always continue. Should there be a recession, with a consequent fall in employment in overseas countries and a resulting diminution of purchasing power an immediate contraction of world trade will follow. Foolish as it may be in essence, the trend in all countries will be towards stemming importations. Every country will seek to prohibit the importation of goods and automatically cut off its exports to its former customers. Such a policy, stupid in the extreme as it may be, will be inevitably followed. It is a tragedy that the science of economics is so widely misunderstood. Instead of making bilateral agreements the nations should endeavour to make multilateral agreements. It is for the purpose of facilitating the making of multilateral agreements that the International Trade Organization has been established. .
– Not all countries are members of the International Trade Organization.
– While it is true that not all countries have yet accepted membership of the organization, it is also true that all the major trading countries in an international sense have already accepted or are proposing to accept membership of it. Rules for the conduct of the organization have already been adopted, but I am not greatly concerned at the rules proposed to be adopted. New rules must be evolved as the organization develops. It is impossible at the moment to lay down hard and fast rules to be followed in any circumstances. An essential factor in the success of the International
Trade Organization is the provision that before member countries may make an agreement to divide between them a certain volume of world trade, and therefore to deny a portion of that trade to some other country or countries, the effect of such a bilateral agreement must be discussed ‘ by the member countries. If that is not of the essence of common sense, and a desperate need in the world to-day, I do not know what is. For how much longer can the people of Australia be deceived into believing that we can with impunity impose tariff duties on the goods of other countries? We cannot do so. If we attempt to do so those countries will accord most-favoured nation treatment to another country, to our disadvantage. I merely say - and I do not speak as a spokesman for the Government on this matter - that unless the nations get together in this way and look broadly at such proposed tariff agreements they will merely deceive themselves. The simple facts of everyday life prove to us that if we seek to lessen our trade with other countries because those countries will not buy goods in sufficient volume from us, our action must lead inevitably to a contraction of the already diminished field of world trade.
– I do not know to what the honorable member refers when he says “ suicide “. Certainly a further contraction of world trade would be suicidal.” Before any trade agreements are made with other countries their impact upon the res t of the world should be carefully analysed in the light not only of existing circumstances but also of possible future trends. It is for that reason that I said earlier that the honorable member for Balaclava is incapable of assessing the world trade situation. Australia cannot make trade agreements with other nations which result in taking from other countries their share of the world’s markets without risking retaliatory action.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The amendment proposed by the
Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) reads -
That the following sub-clause be added: - “ (3.) Nothing in this Act shall in any way restrict the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia from making reciprocal preferential trade and tariff arrangements with the United Kingdom and other countries, territories, or dependencies within the British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations with respect to products of primary industries, including the following: -
fresh and canned fruit and dried fruits,
condensed milk and other milk products,
I support the amendment because it provides a definite safeguard which will ensure that the primary industries of Australia which are specifically mentioned are not to be adversely affected by the operation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and because it will give to the Government power to make certain tariff arrangements with the United Kingdom for the benefit of such primary industries. That is a definite and positive safeguard of a character which is not contained in the agreement. The Minister has said that he cannot accept the amendment, first, because there is already protection of Australian primary industries, and secondly, because the amendment is contrary to the provisions of the Charter. That is a most amazing and disturbing statement. If the amendment is contrary to the provisions of the charter, how can it be contended that the charter constitute no danger to the continuation of preferential duties for our primary products? It has been contended by Government spokesmen that there is no inherent danger in the agreement to our primary industries, but when an amendment has been submitted which is designed to clarify that position it is rejected on the ground that it is contrary to the provisions of the Charter. In his advocacy of the amendment the
Leader of the Australian Country party dealt particularly with sugar. In his reply the Minister also dealt with that commodity, and said that the preference enjoyed by the Australian sugar industry was not in any way jeopardized by the discussions at Havana, because no mention was made of the preference now being received by the Australian sugar industry on the British market. That is correct, but it does not mean that there is no possibility of an alteration in the future. The fact that, so far, the sugar industry has not been attacked ‘ does not necessarily mean that it will remain free from attack. Thus, the statement of the Minister will not afford much consolation to those in the sugar industry who believe that the charter does, in fact, afford an opportunity for an attack upon the industry. In my second-reading speech, I pointed out that the reason why the sugar industry was not discussed at Havana was that the policy of the United States of America on sugar was on all fours with that of Britain. The Minister cited the International Sugar Agreement as a further protection for the Australian sugar industry. Let us see what measure of protection that agreement affords. It was entered, into in 1937, and under it the Australian industry was allotted a quota of 400,000 tons in the world’s markets upon which Australia’s sugar is sold at world parity prices. That provided security in regard to quantity, but only under Empire preference was any security afforded in regard to price. The agreement remained in operation until the outbreak of war when, because of the complete disruption of the industry, it became inoperative. The sugar exporting countries, realizing the importance of the agreement, have continued it from year to year by protocol. Article 3 of the most recent protocol states -
Thus, in the event of another international sugar agreement being reached, the present one will immediately terminate. Finally, the protocol provides -
In other words, the position now is thai the provisions of any new international sugar agreement which will be entered into when conditions become normal, will depend largely upon the provisions of the International Trade Agreement. All the articles of the International Trade Agreement which will operate against Australia’s primary industries will have a bearing upon the terms of a new international sugar agreement. Thus, the present International Sugar Agreement is a weak reed upon which to lean. In the discussions on a new international sugar agreement we may expect a large sugar exporting country such as Cuba to come out strongly in a claim for a greater share of the world’s markets. Fortunately for the world, Cuba was able to increase its export of sugar during the war. But Australia had to reduce its exports because the area in which sugar is produced in this country was affected by war conditions. Therefore, when the time comes to negotiate a new agreement, Cuba will be in a favorable position to argue for an increased quota, but the position of Australia will not be so fortunate. Australia will find it very difficult to get. an increased quota or, perhaps, even to hold its present quota. There has been a move in Great Britain to obtain a considerably greater quantity of sugar from Australia. We in the industry here wish to export more sugar to Great Britain, but there are material difficulties in the way, such as the providing of extra milling power and of the developing of more sugar-producing lands. Before anything can be done to overcome those difficulties it is necessary that the industry should be assured of greater overseas markets, and a stable price over a period of ten years. Only such assurances would justify the necessary capital expenditure.
.- I support the amendment. If the committee needed to be convinced cf its importance, the speech of the honorable member for
Capricornia (Mr. Davidson), who is an expert on the sugar industry, should have convinced those honorable members who come here to be convinced. That, of course, applies only to honorable members on this side of the committee. At least, we can record the desire of the Opposition parties to protect the primary industries, the products of which are enumerated in the amendment. The purpose of the amendment is to have written into the statute an assurance that nothing in the Geneva Agreement shall in any way restrict an Australian Government from making reciprocal preference tariff and trade agreements with the United Kingdom. That is the historic policy of Australia which pulled us out of the depression when foreign countries would not take our products. The British Government which entered into the . Ottawa Agreement reversed a policy of 100 years’ standing when, in the interests of the Dominions, it imposed import duties on foodstuffs, t cannot understand the blindness of any Australian Government which sets itself against a policy of Empire reciprocal trade, the advantages of which are so obvious. Every one knows that we sell most of our sugar, butter, cheese, bacon, ham, and meat cn the United Kingdom market, and on the markets of other dominions. If the price of primary products should fall, we know that, under the system of Empire preference, there will be a market within the British Commonwealth for virtually all that we can produce of the items enumerated in the amendment. We know from bitter experience that foreign countries will not continue to buy from us for one day longer than it suits them to do so. If they can buy more cheaply from our competitors, they will abandon us. In spite of this knowledge, we are now asked to ratify this device which emanated from the minds of theoretical planners, not from the minds of practical people who were in positions of responsibility during the depression. The plan comes from the minds of two of Australia’s most notorious planners, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) and the principal Australian official delegate to the Geneva and Havana conferences, Dr. Coombs. It is all very well for those impracticable planners to sit down with a pencil and a piece of paper to produce a scheme, but things are not likely to work out as they expect. I cannot recall that anything with which Dr. Coombs has been associated has been such an outstanding success as to induce me to accept his advice regarding an international trade agreement. The truth is that nearly all of Australia’s primary industries were sold down the river for dollars, and Empire preference has been sacrificed. The Minister stated by interjection that if the amendment were accepted the effect might be to take us outside the ambit of the International Trade Agreement. And then, what terrible things might happen ! The threat is held out that the Americans might increase their tariff upon Australian wool. If there is one Australian primary industry that could withstand that threat to-day, it is the wool industry. I speak as a- wool-grower myself. Never before in the history of Australia hasthe wool industry been so prosperous and never before has there been less necessity for it to receive the benefit of a protective tariff, yet it is the one industry that is cited by the Government as being likely to benefit from these arrangements. Apparently, we are to risk the loss of Imperial preference upon our exports of dairy products, meat, poultry products and dried and canned fruits so that we may sell more wool to America and obtain more dollars with which to buy American cement-making plant and bottlelabellingmachinery. That is why vital Australian primary industries are being sold down the drain. I do not belittle the importance of the wool industry to Australia.. It is our greatest primary industry, but it is not one which will lead to an expansion of our rural population. For that,, we must look to the pig, meat, sugar,, butter, canned and dried fruits and dairying industries. We shall not implement the Government’s immigration plans, develop irrigation schemes, and achieve decentralization, closer settlement and other admirable national objectives by stimulating the wool industry. We shall do those things by stimulating the industries that were enumerated by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). It is time that sanity was brought to bear upon these problems. We should be allowed to escape from the schemes of the theoretical planners. I have had enough of the planners. In addition to being planned out of our opportunities for trade by Dr. Coombs, we are now apparently to have a financial system that is planned by him. The policy of reciprocal Empire tariffs extricated us from the difficulties in which we found ourselves in the 1930’s. There is no doubt that the policy that was first devised in Ottawa and which was extended by a series of bilateral trade agreements was a successful one. The policy that is now proposed, however, is, at the very best, an experiment. It is suggested that from it wider world trade will emerge. We know where we can sell our canned peaches, sugar, pig meats, and poultry and dairy products. The United Kingdom can take all of those commodities from us. We do not need a scheme of wider world trade to enable us to market those products. What would be disastrous to us would be a policy which would debar the United Kingdom from extending preferential treatment to our goods and compel us to sell them in that country in competition with other countries which, for various reasons, have some advantage over us. We sell at least half of our total production of canned fruits in the United Kingdom, and it is sold in competition with 10 per cent, of the annual production of canned fruits of the United States of America. The Americans could dump that 10 per cent, and depress the price whenever they liked. If we did not have the benefit of reciprocal Empire tariff arrangements they could ruin our canned fruit industry in one season. Our dried fruits are sold in the United Kingdom in competition with dried fruits from Greece, Syria and Turkey. The people of those countries have low standards of living. Does the Government believe that the Australian dried fruits industry could compete on equal terms with the dried fruit industries of the Mediterranean countries? Does the Government , believe that without the protection of Empire preference, we can sell our meat in the United Kingdom in competition with meat from the Argentina? Does the Government believe that, without this protection, the Australian sugar industry could dispose of its products?
No honorable member opposite who represents an area which is sustained by any of the industries to which I have referred has attempted to justify these international agreements. If this policy had been formulated at conferences of the Labour party and. at caucus meetings, and if . it were sponsored by the honorable member for the Riverina (Mr Langtry), the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams) and other honorable members opposite who represent primary-producing areas, I should believe that there wa3 something behind it. It is, however, a policy that has emerged from the minds of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, Dr. Coombs, and other planners. We cannot afford to experiment along these lines.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) has, as usual, worked himself into a frenzy and made statements that are entirely inaccurate. He has endeavoured to lead the committee to believe that the preferential tariffs on sugar, dried and canned fruits and other commodities which we enjoy under the terms of the Ottawa Agreement are to be swept away and that those industries will be forced to compete with the industries of other countries on a free market in the United Kingdom. That is what the honorable gentleman said.
– I said nothing of the kind, and the Minister knows that I did not. I ask him to read the amendment.
– It is what the honorable gentleman has said himself that, matters. He has said that our producers of canned and dried fruits will have to compete with a country that can dump 10 per cent, of its annual production of those commodities.
– I said that we could not compete.
– The honorable gentleman now qualifies his statement.
Under these arrangements, there will still be considerable margins of preference. Sugar was not interfered with at all. The preference in regard to dried fruits was reduced by only 20 per cent, and, in some instances, by less than that. The honorable gentleman endeavoured to lead the committee to believe that those commodities will not be the subject of a preferential tariff. That demonstrates his complete dishonesty, and is an indication of the humbug which he submits to the committee.
He attacked a prominent member of the Australian delegation to the Geneva Conference, That gentleman and the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction were regarded as two of the ablest men at the conference. The honorable gentleman attacked them because they were what he described as planners. One of the planks of the platform of the Australian Country party is the planning of the sale of primary products. Honorable gentlemen opposite call it orderly marketing. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is an attempt to ensure the orderly marketing of primary and other products on the world’s markets. The principle on which it is based is one that is written into the constitution of the Australian Country party. It represents an attempt to bring order into the present chaotic position. If one country imposes a tariff, other countries are compelled to take similar action because they are faced with adverse trade ‘balances-,’ and the process continues until the channels of trade are blocked and a depression occurs.
The honorable gentleman” asked what advantage the agreement would be to the wool industry. It is true that it will not be of great advantage while the price of wool is high, but it will be of considerable benefit to the Australian wool producers when the price of wool begins to fall, and I do not think that anyone is optimistic enough to believe that wool prices will remain indefinitely at their present level. The operation of the agreement will ensure more extensive markets for wool and other primary products. There will be greater competition amongst buyers and, in consequence more satisfactory prices for producers. The honorable gentleman has said that the wool industry does not assist in the closer settlement of the rural areas of Australia but that the dried fruit industry does do so. He has a few dried fruit-growers in his electorate, and therefore we get back to petty politics. The wool industry brings more money into Australia than does any other Australian industry. Will any honorable gentleman deny that the purchasing power of that money does not assist us in our population problem? It has often been said that Australia lives on the sheep’s back. The sheep’s back has brought vast amounts of purchasing power to the people of Australia.’ If we took away the Australian wool industry, where should we be ?
– The . Government would cut up the sheep stations and take the industry away from its present owners.
– You ratbag !
– I direct your attention, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to the unparliamentary language that was used by the Minister in referring to the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull). I suggest, with respect, that he be asked to withdraw his remark.
– Why cannot the honorable member for Wimmera himself ask for a withdrawal of the remark?
– Why cannot you behave yourself for once in your life, you louse ?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) must observe order.
– I request that the honorable member for Henty be asked to withdraw his reference to me.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The Minister must first withdraw his reference to the honorable member for Wimmera at a “ ratbag “.
– I withdraw the remark.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member for Henty must now withdraw his remark.
– I withdraw it.
– I believe that the General Agreement on Tariffs an Trade and the Havana charter will be of lasting benefit to all of the primary producers of Australia.
– The Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) almost invariably refers to the dishonesty of others. As a rule, he is a decent sort of fellow, but when he speaks in that strain-
– Prove that I am wrong, you mug.
– Obviously, the Minister is rather heated, and, consequently,, we must make allowance for the unsatisfactory reasons which he has advanced for rejecting the amendment for the opinion of those who cannot keep an “ even keel “ should not be considered in this House. When he entered the chamber and before he reached his seat, he obtained the call, and his speech revealed that he had not studied the amendment. It is no wonder that he has made so many misleading statements. He criticized the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), although he had no knowledge of the matter to which the honorable member had referred. I am amazed that conditions exist that make it necessary for the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) to submit the amendment. He considers, as I do, that nothing in this legislation should restrict the Australian Government from making reciprocal trade and tariff arrangements with the United Kingdom and other countries within the British Commonwealth of Nations. At present, trade arrangements exist in respect of dried fruits, sugar and certain other commodities, hut the producers of those primary products need to be able to see ten, fifteen or twenty years ahead in regard to marketing arrangements. This bill will surely lead to the abolition of Empire preferences if this Government remains in office. At present, the Department of Works and Housing is in charge of vast irrigation projects. How can the Government undertake such works unless the primary industries, which will use the water so impounded, have an assured and protected market? It is of supreme importance that the dried fruits, canned fruits and certain other industries shall be able to make long range develop mental plans if the country if to be developed on sound lines but some honorable members opposite, especially the Minister for Works and Housing, are not able to relate water conservation schemes to the need for the continuation of Empire preferences. The vital primary industries to which the Leader of the Australian Country party has referred are virtually the life-blood of the country, and I am amazed that the right honorable gentleman has been compelled to submit an amendment which the Government will doubtless reject authorizing the Australian Government to continue and extend the Empire preferences, which arc necessary to an increase of the production of those commodities.
– The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) has appealed for some sanity in this debate. I believe that I should appeal to members of the Opposition to subject the General Agreement on Tariffs aud Trade and the Havana charter to a sane examination. When we examine the amendment which the Leader of the Australian Country party has submitted, it is obvious that the same objections apply to it as those which I advanced when rejecting the amendment that the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) submitted to thf motion of the second reading of the bill. The net effect of acceptance of the amendment would- be that we could not be a member of the International Trade Organization. Another effect would be that we should have to abrogate the Geneva agreement. The concessions thai have been granted to us under the Geneva agreement, in return for which we gave some concessions, would be entirely lost to Australia. That would be the effect cf the acceptance of the amendment on Australia.
What would be the effect on the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa? The United Kingdom and the other dominions have made it perfectly clear that they will be members of the International Trade Organization and will accept all the obligations thereunder. If this amendment were agreed to, Australia would be placed outside the Geneva agreement and the Havana charter, and all other important parts of the British Commonwealth of Nations would be within the International Trade Organization, and would also be parties to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. They would have to undertake the obligations involved in the Havana charter and the Geneva agreement. One of those obligations is that a signatory country shall not increase the preferences which are enjoyed by other countries. The amendment states, in effect, that nothing in this measure shall prevent the Australian Government from entering into arrangements for preferential treatment in the markets of the United Kingdom and other dominions. 1 make it perfectly clear that this measure does not deal with the preferences which the United Kingdom and other dominions will enjoy in the Australian market. Tt deals with the preferences which Australia will enjoy in the markets of the United Kingdom and other dominions. The preference which Australia enjoys in the markets of the United Kingdom and other dominions is a matter for legislation by the parliaments of the United Kingdom and the other dominions. We cannot, simply because we say we want to do so, bring about a position under which we shall enjoy preference in those markets. That preference will have to be given to us by legislation passed by the parliaments of the United Kingdom and the other dominic-ns. However, the United Kingdom and the other dominions have indicated that they will be parties to the International Trade Organization. They are already parties to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. In such circumstances, they will be prohibited from passing legislation giving preferential treatment to Australia in their own markets.
The explanation which I have given shows the complete absurdity of the amendment. The only possible effect that the amendment can have, if it is accepted, is to prevent Australia from joining in the International Trade Organization and from continuing to enjoy the benefits which it has already received under the Geneva agreement.
– The explanation which the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has given has not removed any of the doubts which members of the Opposition have entertained about the sincerity of the Government in regard to maintaining the advantages of the Ottawa Agreement. The amendment which I have submitted is specific. It states, in effect, that nothing in this act shall in any way restrict the Australian Government from making reciprocal preferential trade and tariff arrangements with the United Kingdom and other countries in respect of specified primary products which have been the subject of action under the Ottawa Agreement. I remind honorable members that the Ottawa Agreement has stood the test of time, and has been most advantageous to Australia. The statement by the the Minister that the Australian Government has no control over the policy of the Governments of the United Kingdom and the other dominions is irrelevant to the issue, and, indeed, is a lame excuse for his refusal to accept the amendment.
– If the United Kingdom and other dominions cannot do anything in return, how oan there be reciprocal arrangements ?
– A reciprocal arrangement may he effected by negotiation, hut under the bill in its present form, the Government will not have the power even to endeavour to negotiate a desirable reciprocal arrangement. The purpose of the amendment is to remove that restriction on the Government. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) has stated that the primary industries of Australia has been sold down the drain for certain advantages which the Minister has not been able to explain, or has not satisfactorily explained. The Minister has dealt with the advantages which have accrued to the wool industry. Honorable members on this side of the chamber know perfectly well that the wool industry was the bargaining point at Geneva. We were told that as the result of satisfactory trade arrangements made with the Government of the United States of America, other primary industries would derive advantages. I shall examine the so-called advantages which our great wool industry has derived from trade with America since the arrangement was made with that country nearly two years ago. A few days ago, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) the following questions : -
Was there a decline in (a) the number of bales and (b) the values f.o.b. (Australian currency) in the export of Australian greasy wool in the United States of America between the years 1040-47 and 1047-48; if so, what were the amounts and values of such decline in each case ?
The Minister’s reply revealed that exports of wool had declined by 623,013 bales, and that the decline in value was £A.8,344,547. Where, then, is the advantage which is said to have accrued to the Australian wool industry by concessions obtained at Geneva and Havana? In the years 1946-47 and 1947-48, our trade in wool with Soviet Russia increased by 42,096 bales and the increase of value was £A.2,852,130. Is it any wonder that the honorable member for Indi has stated that Australian primary industries have been sold down the drain? Let us have a look at the general overall economic position as it affects the United States of America as the result of the Geneva agreement, and, consequently, the Havana charter and the agreement which the Parliament is now asked to ratify. The Treasurer informed me in reply to a question that in 1946-47 our deficit with the United States of America amounted to £A.35,100,000 and that that deficit had increased for the year 1947-48 to £A.73,900,000. Therefore, I ask where is the advantage which the Government claims has accrued to Australia as the result of its action in selling out our other rural industries in its attempt to gain an advantage for the wool industry?
Question put -
That the sub-clause proposed to be added (Mr. Fadden’s amendment) be so added.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. H. P. Lazzarini.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 7 agreed to.
New clause 8.
.- I move-
That, after clause 7, the following new clause be added: - “ 8. - ( 1. ) Before entering into negotiations concerning any proposed foreign trade agreement pursuant to the provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade or the Charter, the Minister for Trade and Customs shall furnish the Tariff Board with a list of all articles imported into the Commonwealth of Australia to be considered for possible modification of duties and other import restrictions, imposition of additional import restrictions, or continuance of existing customs’ or excise treatment. Upon receipt of such list the Board shall make a public investigation and report to the Minister the findings of the Board with respect to each such article as to ( 1 ) the limit to which such modification, imposition, or continuance may be extended without causing or threatening serious injury to the domestic industry producing like or similar articles; and (2) if increases in duties or additional import restrictions are required to avoid serious injury to the domestic industry producing like or similar articles the minimum increases in duties or additional import restrictions required. Such report shall be made by the Board to the Minister not later than three months after the receipt of such list by the Board. No such foreign trade agreement shall be entered into until the Board has made its report to the Minister or until the expiration of the three months period. “ (2.) In the course of any investigation pursuant to this section the Board shall hold public hearings and give reasonable public notice thereof, and shall afford reasonable opportunity for parties interested to be present, to produce evidence, and to be heard at such hearings.”.
As I indicated in my second-reading speech, it would appear that the Tariff Board is being sidestepped when the degree of protection required in a particular instance is being determined for the purposes of the trade agreements now before the Parliament. This Government relies upon departmental officers who are under the general control of the Minister. No public hearing is held and no evidences taken in public from interested parties by a body such as the Tariff Board which, obviously, in such matters is more skillful and more likely to be impartial than are departmental officers. My amendment prescribes a procedure similar to that provided in the Trade Agreements Extension Act passed by the United States Congress on the 26th June last. I point out that the United States of America is the biggest contributor under the agreement embodied in the bill now before us. The legislation passed by the United States Congress in June last provides that the United States of America may not participate in any negotiations relating to international trade agreements unless such negotiations are preceded by public notice and public hearings before a body similar to the Australian Tariff Board. That legislation was passed three months after the Havana charter was signed. It is obvious, therefore, that the United States of America believes that its industrial structure, both primary and secondary, must be safeguarded against the unforeseen impact of international negotiations entered into hastily by departmenal officers. It is dangerous for the Government to rely solely upon the reports of departmental officers in the handling of negotiations on trade matters. The United States of America has set an admirable example in providing safeguards against such a danger. Departmental officers, however conscientious they may be, are apt to furnish more or less one-sided reports because they have not the benefit of hearing the representations of opposing interests such as would be the case were an open hearing conducted by the Tariff Board on such matters. The official who reports to the Minister on these matters remains anonymous. His identity cannot be ascertained by interested parties or by the general public. A departmental officer has no opportunity to test such evidence as may be put before him, nor have parties who may be vitally interested, any real opportunity to combat or even comment on the case put to the Minister. The only real opportunity presented in such cases to interested parties to state their case or to have a decision reviewed is for them to request an interview with the Minister concerned. Although such interviews are usually generously granted, obviously they cannot be of such duration as to enable the information to be placed adequately before the Minister, so that a proper decision can be made. A properly constituted tariff board can do very much more in that regard. I say that in the circumstances, and particularly in view of the attitude that the United States of America has found it necessary to adopt to safeguard both its primary and secondary industries and the amendment should be accepted. In the interests of a better presentation and better consideration of the general interests of the economy of the country, an investigation such as I have suggested should, be made before agreements of an international or trading nature are entered into.
.- I strongly support the amendment. If the Government will not accept it, obviously it will have abdicated to international control. Section 15 (1.) (d) of the Tariff Board Act 1921 provides that the Minister shall refer to the board for inquiry and report -
The necessity for new, increased, or reduced duties, and the deferment of existing or proposed deferred duties;
Concessions that have been made in Geneva have been forced through this House by weight of numbers by the Government. In my opinion masses of paper and reports have been issued without proper consideration and study. If this procedure is allowed to continue, the Tariff Board will be put into the discard. The Government’s policy will amount to economic disarmament if we accept the most-favoured nation clause. Any consideration that the United States of America may give to Japan when that country joins the organization will have to be given by us, thus menacing our own industries. The Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) said a moment ago that this is a new system as previously, because when our tariffs are raised, other countries will retaliate by raising their tariffs. How simpleminded the Minister must be. These outside considerations are always taken into account in Australia by the Tariff Board and the Government. Only the lowest duties that will do what is required are applied. The Tariff Board is to go, and some haphazard rate decided upon by people on the other side of the world will be our rates in future. There will soon be penetration by Japanese goods. I know of an instance the details of which, although I cannot mention them here, are known to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Courtice). The management of an industry, which had made representations to the effect that because of the introduction of the 40-hour week its production costs had increased, and therefore it needed additional protection, was advised to make an application to the Tariff Board. That right will now be denied them. The Minister who went to Geneva was proud of the fact that he had something to say about full employment. Certain British comment on the Geneva report is interesting. Mr. Amery has written: - ‘-
The main scheme with its ambitious design for controlling world trade is one gigantic and preposterous piece of make-believe. . . .
Of Australia’s participation at Geneva he said -
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. . . .
We are now surrendering to a somewhat nebulous organization that will begin operations in Geneva shortly the right we at present have of making our own tariffs by a proper inquiry open to the public. The United States of America would not consent to such a provision and Congress passed the Trade Agreements Extensions Act of 1948, which lays down that before entering into negotiations concerning any proposed foreign trade agreement, the President shall furnish the United States Tariff Commission with a list of all articles to be considered for possible modification of duties and other import restrictions. In the amendment suggested by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), it is suggested that we do what is done in America, which is to provide that before the Minister or any officials - even though they may act with the best intent - can make changes, the Tariff Board shallbe asked to report. In the United States of America the Tariff Commission will hold public hearings, take evidence from all interested parties, and report its findings to the President. With constantly changing wages and conditions, there must be tariff changes from time to time. Who could be better qualified to handle that matter than the Tariff Board? I point out that this year our adverse trade balance with the United States of America will be the biggest on record and will amount to approximately £70,000,000. This matter is above party issues. The amendment should be considered on its merits. If a division is taken I hope that at least some Government supporters will vote in favour of the amendment, because of its great importance and because this is the first occasion on which the matter has been properly discussed.
– I cannot accept the amendment moved by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). It gives form to the same matter which was raised by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) in his speech during the second-reading debate. When I dealt with it then I said that it would be quite impossible to have possible reductions in our tariff or preferences discussed before negotiations began with other countries. I point out that in 1936 the Government of which the honorable member was a member followed the procedure now proposed in its negotiations for trade agreements with Belgium, France and Czechoslovakia.
– That was in relation to the intermediate tariff.
– Although these matters were not discussed by, and did not come before the Tariff Board, we did invite the manufacturers, and the primary producers throughout’ Australia, to send to the Government any observations or criticisms that they had to offer on the demands that werebeing made on us. I use the word “ demands “ because that was the language that was used in notes that were exchanged . on these matters before the negotiations actually began. The manufacturers and primary producers were also invited to send in any objections they had to requests for reductions in tariffs or preferences that were being made by other countries. In addition, the chairman of the Tariff Board accompanied the delegation to Geneva, and the members of the delegation had the benefit of his advice. I repeat that it is not possible, when entering into negotiations by a process of bargaining between different countries, to have the issues involved discussed in public before the negotiations begin. Although the United States of America has included in its legislation a provision similar to the amendment, President Truman has announced since his reelection that he is going to introduce a new reciprocal trade measure. This provision was put into the American act against the wishes of President Truman, and there is every indication that it will be removed very shortly.
Question put -
That the clause proposed to be added (Mr. Fadden’s amendment) be so added.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. H. P. Lazzarini.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) - by leave - proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
.- The Government will regret this day. This measure means the ultimate passing of Empire preferential trade. I personally feel that the international arrangement will break down, and that will be the best thing that can happen to Australia and the Empire. Otherwise it will mean rolling up the economic map of the Empire. I hope that wiser opinions will prevail ultimately in the Government itself when it sees our industries beginning to wane and unemployment starting to grow. It will know then that it has made a mistake and I hope that it will be frank enough then to admit it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Judges’ Pensions Bill 1948.
Whaling Bill 1948.
War Service Homes Bill 1948.
Bill received from the Senate and (on motion by Mr. Holloway) read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to inform the House of a matter that I consider to be of some intrinsic importance. An English family consisting of a man, his wife and some children wishes to emigrate to this country. The man also wishes to bring his seafaring business, which includes a recently constructed ship of about 1,000 tons that cost him about £40,000 to build, to Australia for the purpose of engaging in trade along the Australian coast. The ship is 37 metres long and its displacement is 940 tons. It is fitted with a diesel engine, which cost £12,000. The owner has been in touch with people in Australia who wish to use the ship for trade, particularly between Tasmania and the mainland. But the entry of the ship is subject to certain disabilities. First, customs duty amounting to about £20,000 would have to be paid on it, in addition to which it would be subject to sales tax and the cost of a licence to trade on the Australian coast. The ship could be used here with great advantage because we are short of ships, particularly for the coastal trade. I have heard honorable members who represent constituencies in Tasmania and Queensland complain on many occasions about the great difficulties experienced in obtaining the shipment of goods between Tasmania and the mainland and along the Queensland coast. It has been proposed that the ship shall be used primarily for the timber trade between Tasmania and the mainland. I thought that in the circumstances permission would readily be given by thp Government for the entry of the ship under customs by-law, thus exempting its owner from the payment ment of customs duty on it. I thought too, that the ship would be welcomed by the Government. I therefore approached the Department of Trade and Customs and the Department of Shipping and Fuel to try to get the necessary authority for the ship to enter Australian waters free of customs duty and sales tax and with the surety of being licensed to trade. I received to-day from the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley), who is particularly concerned with this matter, the following letter : -
I am advised that, at the present time, it is not a shortage of shipping in the Tasmania mainland trade which is affecting the movement of timber and anv delays which may be occurring are due rather to lack of facilities for clearing timber in any great volume. Any additional vessels placed in this trade at the present time, therefore, would not assist the position to any material extent.
I think the Minister is not fully acquainted with the situation, and I am sure that a ship of this category and type would be most useful in the present circumstances. Doubtless, there is a great shortage of ships of a certain type. There are many ports with which this ship could trade. It could bring to the mainland from Tasmania goods urgently required and for which Tasmania finds it extremely difficult to obtain shipping. Only recently Queensland members have complained about the inability to ship sugar south, and there has been a great shortage of sugar in Sydney. The ship would be eminently suitable for that purpose. Victoria is short of cement and other products that Tasmania produces and cannot ship to the mainland because of the scarcity of shipping. The Minister went on to say in an important exposition of the Government’s policy -
One of the objectives of the legislation which the Government has in prospect is to provide for the .permanent establishment of the shipbuilding industry in this country. To this end it is proposed that, subject to certain exceptions to meet special cases, only vessels which are constructed in Australian shipyards will be permitted to trade on the Australian coast. Every vessel which is imported from overseas will, of course, to that extent reduce the market for vessels from the Australian shipyards.
He added -
I understand that vessels of the size Mr. Halsall owns can be constructed in Australian yards and in fact the Commonwealth has ordered five vessels of approximately the same capacity, of which two are already in operation and three more have still to be delivered.
There is inconsistency in the Minister’s statement. First, he said that no more ships were required and then he said that more were being built. A point that arises from his statement is that the ships that are being built will not be completed for, if not years, at any rate, many months. All honorable members know that we are extremely short of ships. This ship would be of intrinsic importance to us. We need ships and we could get this ship if the Government granted proper concessions to its owner. We should get not only the value of the ship without payment by the Commonwealth but also the value of the owner and his family to our population. In the circumstances, the reply of the Minister, so far as it reflects Government policy, should be reviewed. It appears that next year the Government intends to ensure that no ships shall trade on the Australian coast unless they are constructed in Australia. It intends to confine the trade to Australian-built ships and to exclude ships brought from abroad, even though ships brought from abroad may be cheaper than the ships that we can produce ourselves. Private firms that want to import ships will be discriminated against in favour of private firms willing to manufacture or buy Australianbuilt ships. The Government itself, apparently, intends to conduct its own shipping line. That is not in the interests of Australia. I hope that the Government will review its policy in this respect. The ship that I have referred to is valuable. The owner ought to be allowed to bring it and his family to Australia in the interests of Australia. It would be quite impossible for a man who has sunk all his capital in the construction of the ship, which was finished only four or five months ago, to find another £20,000 or so to pay customs duty and other charges. If the decision of the Government is adhered to, the owner, and his family and his ship will be excluded. The matter is of considerable urgency because it is proposed that the ship shall sail for Australia in December and arrive in January or at the beginning of February. The Government should reconsider its decision on that basis.
.The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) has raised a matter of considerable importance. We have the excellent offer of a ship of 940 tons displacement for the Tasmania-mainland trade. The Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) has intimated that the ship, is not wanted. That puts his letter in plain language. He has also intimated that the ship would not be licensed to trade in Australian waters if it came here. I am sure that the statements in the letter are not entirely correct on the number of ships in the Tasmanian trade. We have been battling with the Australian Shipping Board and the Tas-> manian Traffic Committee for ships to move from Tasmania all kinds of products, including potatoes, cement, and timber, and to bring to Tasmania supplies of gypsum from South Australia. Streams of requests for shipping accommodation for such goods continually flow to honorable members representing Tasmanian electorates. To say that the ship is not needed for the Tasmanian service does not make sense. This question should be re-opened. The Englishman who owns the vessel has offered to bring the vessel to Australia even if he is not granted any concessions by the Customs authorities, lie would be put to great expense in doing so. Tasmania is sadly in need of that class of ship. The residents of Ulverstone, in the north-western area of the State, have repeatedly asked the Australian Shipping Board to direct a vessel to that port. The honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) knows as much as I do about that subject. We have both discussed it with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel. A ship with only small displacement would be ideal for Ulverstone. A vessel trades between Melbourne and that port’ at present, but a service conducted by this English vessel would be of inestimable value to the town. The port of Stanley also could use a ship of light tonnage. Therefore, the Minister’s statement that such a ship could not be used in the Tasmanian service is against all the facts as they are known to Tasmanian members of this Parliament. The vessel could be used to carry shipments of timber and cement to South Australia and Victoria, and cargoes from the mainland to Tasmania. Furthermore, new Tasmanian industries are producing goods in quantities which are imposing increasing demands upon shipping agencies. I support the case put before the Government by the honorable member for Flinders and ask that the request of the owner of this ship be re-examined in the light of the facts which the honorable member has stated.
– I cannot allow this matter to pass without comment, particularly in view of the fact that the ports of Ulverstone and Stanley, mentioned by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), are within my electorate and therefore, I assume, are my particular care. What the honorable member for Wilmot has said is perfectly true. For two reasons these two ports present a special opportunity for the use of a vessel of the kind that was mentioned by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan). The first reason is that, particularly at Ulverstone, only small ships can be accommodated. The second reason is that there is an ample supply of labour available at both ports at all times. The Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) stated in the letter quoted by the honorable member for Flinders that one of the real difficulties of the Tasmanian trade was that of clearing sufficient timber. That was a rather ambiguous phrase. It might have meant the clearance of timber from the forests, or it might have meant the clearance of timber from the wharfs. I assume that it means the clearance from the wharfs, because there is plenty of sawn timber in Tasmania at present awaiting shipment. There is no labour difficulty at Ulverstone or Stanley. Ships arrive infrequently, and gangs are always waiting. The rejection of this proposition, with Tasmania in its present situation, seems to me to be a serious affront to the people of Tasmania. To say that that State is not short of shipping is utterly wrong, as the honorable member for Wilmot has said. Recently I received a letter from the manager of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, who referred to the difficulty of transporting adequate stocks of sugar to Tasmania. The company gives priority to Tasmanian consignments in an endeavour to build up reserves there because the island is entirely dependent upon shipping. He mentioned particularly the poor shipping service to Hobart.
– King Island is .badly served, too.
– Yes. It could use a small ship. The assertion that the Tasmanian shipping services are adequate seems to me to be entirely in opposition to the facts, and I warmly support the representations made by the honorable member for Flinders. I appeal to the Government to review the situation, and I do so with some confidence because I believe that it is likely to accept the facts presented to it by honorable members from Tasmania. I hope that it will examine the matter, not only from the stand-point of Tasmanians, but also in the light of the potential value to the whole of the . Commonwealth of the English family that wants to come here.
– I have noted the observations of the honorable member f or Flinders (Mr. Ryan).
– The Minister ought to be sympathetic, at any rate.
– As the honorable member knows, I am always sympathetic in matters that affect Tasmania’s interests. Some passages in the letter from the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley), which the honorable member quoted, appear, on the face of it, to need further examination. The comments on this subject by my colleagues from Tasmania are close to my heart because I, too, am not unmindful of the shipping difficulties with which that State is affected. The letter written by the Minister for Shipping and Fuel did not seem to answer the just claims made on behalf of Tasmania. I assure the honorable members that the matter will he re-examined. I shall ascertain what additional reasons there are for the Minister’s decision, apart from those stated in the letter, and will seek a further explanation of what at the moment appear to be discrepancies.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of Works and Housing - M. A. Nichols.
House adjourned at 12.17 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Armed Forces: Recruiting.
s. - On the 11th November, the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) asked whether the film “ All Quiet on the Western Front “ was shown by a recruiting group during a drive for recruits for the Citizen Army in Tasmania, and whether I considered it a suitable film to be shown or likely to encourage enlistment. I have now inquired into this matter and I am informed that this film was not shown in Hobart by the military authorities, but was screened at His Majesty’s Theatre, Hobart, and formed part of the normal programme. The management of the theatre, however, offered the use of the foyer for the display of military equipment and for use as an information booth on the opening night of the film. This offer was accepted in accordance with the general policy of utilizing every opportunity to publicize the recruiting campaign.
n asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Can he state when a number of young medical officers, who joined the Navy in 1945 and 1946 for the period of hostilities and who have been applying for their release, will be released?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Recently steps were taken to advertise overseas for candidates as no response was received from local advertisements. The latest advice from the Official Secretary, London, dated the 9th November, 1948, indicates that two doctors have already been entered, one ivaa to be entered on the 15th November, one on the Oth December, and two on the 3rd January, and a further one will be entered in June, 1949. It will be noted that only two doctors have actually been entered to date, the remainder mentioned are still at liberty to withdraw. The Official Secretary at the same time advised that five other applicants were in course of interview and that there were 70 other applicants. Experience has also shown that many applicants never pursue their inquiries further, hence the number who join is always much lower than the number of those applying. It is understood that eligibility to join the Royal Australian Navy is dependent upon release by the Central Medical War Committee. In order that there should be as few obstacles as possible in the way of doctors in the United Kingdom entering the Royal Australian Navy, the Government has recently approved of free first-class passages to Australia for the wives and families of successful applicants. Newly entered doctors undergo courses of instruction in the United Kingdom of six to ten weeks in duration. On the average it will be approximately three months, depending on availability of passages, from the time of entry of a doctor to arrival in Australia. As these doctors become available those now serving and desirous of discharge will be released iu their turn.
y. - On the 1.Sth November, the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan,) asked whether the Commonwealth Bank was conducting a house to house canvass in the course of seeking contributions to Commonwealth loans, how many canvassers wore employed, and from where the names of potential investors were obtained. I now advise the honorable member as follows : -
House to house canvassing is a regular feature of the activities of the Commonwealth Loans Organization. It was instituted in the war years when it m*as necessary to conduct canvassing campaigns to raise funds for war purposes and the system has been continued in the post-war years because of large conversion operations which have had to be arranged in Australia during the last few years. Approximately 00 men are employed in this work in all the States but canvassing does not occupy the whole of their working time; it is part of the routine duties of members of the staff. Canvassing is performed .systematically street by street- with municipal boundaries as guides. The names of the householders in particular streets are verified by reference to municipal and electoral records.
l. - On the 25th November, the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) asked the following questions : -
Can the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral say whether it is true that there are 70,000 applications for telephone!; outstanding because the people to-day have the purchasing power to pay for them V
Will he find out how many persons were employed by the Postmaster-General’s Department, each State, each year, canvassing the general public in an effort to get them to install telephones ?
The Postmaster-General has supplied the following information: -
Approximately 118,000 applications foi telephone exchange services are outstanding throughout the Commonwealth at present. The arrears have accumulated, due to conditions arising from the war. the acute shortage of essential materials for the provision of the necessary exchange buildings, line plant and telephone equipment, and an unprecedented demand for telephone facilities.
The system of employing canvassers for obtaining orders for telephone services was also introduced in 1920, but an intensive campaign was not commenced until 1930. The canvassers were withdrawn in 1940. During the period from 1930 to 1940, an average of twenty officers was engaged in this work, the relative figures in each State being - New South Wales six, Victoria six, Queensland four, South Australia two, Western Australia one, and Tasmania one. The maximum number of canvassers employed in each State at any time was - New South Wales ten, Victoria eleven, Queensland five. South Australia three, Western Australia two, and Tasmania one. The telephone publicity and canvassing campaigns were inaugurated mainly with the object of bringing into profitable use line plant and exchange equipment which were available. The campaigns resulted in much additional telephone revenue being received by the department.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 December 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1948/19481201_reps_18_200/>.