18th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. j. j. Clark) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to address a question to the Prime Minister. In view of the nation-wide dislocation of industry, and the inconvenience and suffering to the Australian people caused by the shortage of coal supplies, and the possibility of ever-increasing sufferings as time passes”, has the right honorable gentleman considered the possibility of entering into some lengthy contracts for a large supply of coal from overseas in order to assist to meet the situation?
– At the request of the Government of Victoria, the Australian ‘ Government has already sponsored the importation of a fairly substantia] quantity of coal from India, and has also agreed to sponsor the importation of coal from the United Kingdom for South Australia to enable concentrates to be carried from Broken Hill to Port Pirie. A survey is being made of the possibilities of importing coal from the United Kingdom or other countries in an endeavour to meet the needs of the Australian people in the manner indicated by the honorable member for Newcastle.
– What action does the Government propose to take regarding the coal at grass on the northern coalfields? Does the Prime Minister intend to ensure that that coal shall be removed and made available to essential industries, or does he propose to allow to be continued the restrictions that have been imposed by the miners’ federation on the removal of that coal?
– Yesterday afternoon I discussed with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel and the chairman of the Joint Coal Board the quantities of coal at grass or otherwise available in various places. My information is that at the moment approximately 20,000 tons of coal is available on the northern fields, most of which has already been loaded into rail trucks, and approximately 16,000 tons of coal is lying at grass on the side of the road at Cullen Bullen on the western fields. I discussed with my colleague and the chairman of the Joint Coal Board the possibility of transporting that coal ‘should it be required for immediate use. I cannot. at the moment inform the honorable gentleman what steps the Government is likely to take concerning coal at grass; but I assure him that the Government is watching the position closely and that it will eon tinue to do so.
– In view of the fact that this Parliament, by consent of all parties, has passed emergency legislation to deal with the strike, and also in view of the fact that there is no difference of opinion among the parties in this House on the merits of the strike, will the Prime Minister consider a suggestion that he, together with the Leader of the Australian Country party, and myself as Leader of the Liberal party, should go to the coalfields to express to the miners the views of all members of the Parliament. I may add that the Leader of the Australian Country party concurs in this suggestion.
– The matter of delivering addresses to the miners on the coal-fields has been already considered by the Government. It is felt. that, at the moment, there is not a full realization by the miners of the foolishness of their action in voting in favour of the hold-up, which is causing such great .hardship throughout Australia ; but it is doubtful, in the light of previous experience, whether anything is to be gained by addresses to miners. However, since the right honorable gentleman has made the suggestion, he can rest assured that it will be considered by the Government.
– Has the Prime Minister seen the press report of that portion of the speech made by the late Australian Minister to Moscow, Mr. 3V J. Maloney. M.L.C., in the New South Wales Legislative Council last night to the effect that the miners have challenged the Government; that, if the challenge is not taken up and brought to a successful conclusion, Australia will face a revolutionary situation; and that the Communists are organized for revolution ? Will the right honorable gentleman .reassure the people of Australia here and now that democratic government will not be allowed to perish in this country? As a means to that end will he promise that this Parliament will be kept in session, meeting weekly until the strike is settled and the Communist party is rendered innocuous, even until the date of the general election if necessary ?
– I have not seen an, report of a statement made in the New South Wales Legislative Council last night by somebody whom the honor able member referred to as “ the late Australian Minister to Moscow”. J presume that the honorable gentleman means the ex-minister to Moscow. I hope that nobody has risen front the dead to engage in this controversy. I do’ not propose to cover th* whole of the honorable member’s general statement. The Government has mad* its position quite clear. The will of the people and of this Parliament, and th* policy of the Government, is that arbitration shall be used to settle the industrial grievances of people engaged in industry. I do not like the word “ democracy “ to he over-used. It has ‘become a very hackneyed term in the sense in which the honorable member has used it. All partite in this Parliament stand for the preservation of democracy and none is more desirous of preserving the democratic system than is the Australian Labour party, because that party has, perhaps, most to gain from it.
– What about the Parliament?
-Order! The honorable member for New England must remain silent. ,
– I shall not give the honorable member any assurances on that point.
– Can the Prime Minister say how many of the miners who are employed on the coal-fields voted at the recent meetings that were held to discuss the present coal strike? Of those who voted, how many recorded votes in favour of the strike? Was the voting by a show of hands or by ballot? If it was by ballot, was the ballot secret or open?
– Over 20,000 members of trade unions represented on the Combined Mining Unions Council were entitled to vote at the stop-work meetings that were held recently in the coal-fields. I understand from press reports that 8,000 men voted in favour of the strike and that 500 voted against it. The great majority of those who were eligible to vote did not in fact do so. I understand that the voting was by a show of hands and not by a secret ballot. It was as a result of that vote that the Combined Mining Unions Council, on which the miners’ federation and other trade unions are represented, made the decision to call a general strike in the coal-fields.
– Can the Prime Minister gay what action the Government proposes to take to prevent the publication of the Communist organ Tribune and the Communist-controlled newspaper Common Cause, which, incidentally, is edited by Mr. Edgar Boss, the brother of Dr. Lloyd Boss, because both publications are inciting the coal-miners?
– The Government has not considered suppressing any newspaper. I remind the honorable member that a great deal has been written lately about the necessity for preserving the freedom of the press.Whilst I do not read either of the publications mentioned by the honorable member, I know that they regularly criticize the present Government, as also does the newspaper which is published by the honorable member. I repeat that the Government does not propose to suppress any newspaper unless its contents are seditious or subversive. However, I shall ask the Attorney-General to have a look at the two newspapers mentioned by the honorable member in order to ascertain whether they come within that category.
” The Safety Whistle “ - Canberra Activities.
– Can the Treasurer inform me whether his department has contracted to purchase a song entitled The Safety Whistle in order to publicize the national savings campaign? If so, what did the song cost, and what was the cost of making orchestral recordings of it? How many other songs have been purchased by the Treasury? What are their names and what was the cost of making the recordings? Have those songs been recorded by the Canberra City Band, and is that band subsidized by the Prime Minister himself, who is its patron?
– I do not know to what the honorable member’s first question relates. Subsidies are granted by the Treasury to promote the cultural development of communities, and it is correct that the Treasury subsidies the Canberra City Band. Since Canberra is the national capital, it is considered that the Government should play some part in promoting its cultural development.
– To what degree?
– The Government subsidizes the Canberra City Band by from £700 to £750 a year to defray the salary of the bandmaster and certain minor expenses. A small additional payment is also made by the Government In addition, the Government defrayed the capital cost of establishing the band by purchasing the necessary instruments Following representations by the citizens of Canberra, a special committee was appointed by the Government to ascertain the increasing cultural requirements of Canberra, and the Government has agreed to make available £2,000 a year to encourage various cultural activities, such as the production of orchestral works and plays by repertory societies. SirRobert Garran is chairman of that committee, and he submits recommendations for the expenditure of the money. I shall let the honorable member have a written statement about the matters that he has raised, including the matter of The Safety Whistle.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether the Australian Broadcasting Commission broadcasts programmes in foreign languages for the entertainment of the newcomers to Australia under the
Government’s immigration plan? If it does not, will the Minister ascertain whether such programmes could be broadcast in order that the new Australians who have not yet learned our language may be entertained?
– The Australian Broadcasting Commission does not broadcast to displaced persons’ camps, but Radio Australia does so, and it is on the air 24 hours a day. It beams its messages to all parts of the globe and in many languages. It is doing what the honorable member suggests the Australian Broadcasting Commission should do. It is helping to teach the new Australians to speak English. The reception of the programmes is generally good. Appreciative messages are received daily from the people in the displaced persons’ camps. They are glad to be in Australia and they welcome the help that Radio Australia is giving them to learn our language.
– As all Interim Army personnel serving on the 1st July, 1947, became eligible for an annual gratuity of £20 and as that gratuity was payable to some members on the 31st December, 1948, and has become payable to-day, the 30th June, 1949, wi 11 the Minister for Defence inform the House when the gratuity will be paid and whether it will be tax free? Does the Government intend to pay the gratuity to members of the Regular Army Special Reserve, who are not eligible to participate in any superannuation scheme?
– I shall make inquiries and answer the honorable gentleman in due course.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Information been drawn to a report in a recent issue of the Melbourne Herald that the 200,000-word report of the royal commission on population in Great Britain cost £1,000 a word to produce? As the report, on that calculation,, must have, cost the British taxpayer £200,000,000 will the Minister inquire whether the Melbourne Herald has not somewhat exaggerated the position? Can he also indicate whether copies of the report will be available for honorable members to peruse at an early date?
– I have read the report to which the honorable member has referred. I doubt its accuracy. If we had to purchase copies of the report, even at cost price, as the Leader of the Opposition has suggested, a large part of our sterling reserves in London would be eaten up. I do not believe that the report cost anything like the sum mentioned by the newspaper. I shall make inquiries to see whether copies of it are available in Australia and advise the honorable member and others concerned accordingly so that if copies are available they may read the latest information upon the population prospects of the United Kingdom.
– In directing a question to the Minister for the Interior, I point out by way of preface that in Alice Springs and other towns and places of the Northern Territory injustice is being done to people who have miscellaneous and other short-term leases and who, although they are paying enormous amounts for improvements, cannot gain any security of tenure until the ordinance governing this particular matter’ is altered. The relevant act states that the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory cannot deal with matters concerning Crown lands. Will the Minister insert in the Crown Lands Ordinance a provision which will give the Minister authority to convert miscellaneous and short-term leases, and mining tenements into town leases and’ agricultural leases so that security of tenure may be granted to deserving cases?
– I shall have the points raised by the honorable member examined and if the situation proves to be as he has stated I shall try to give effect to his suggestion.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral say whether it is a fact, as reported in the press some days ago, that
Signor Mammalella has returned to Australia? Signor Mammalella was a notorious fascist leader of the Sydney Fascio and, as the Minister knows, was interned at the outbreak of the war with Italy. Is the Minister also aware that Signor Mammalella travelled to Australia on a ship that carried a large number of Italian immigrants? If so, will the Minister have inquiries made about Signor Mammalella’s activities on the voyage and in Australia to ascertain whether it is desirable that he should be in contact with Italian immigrants in Australia?
– The Minister for Immigration will answer the honorable member’s question.
– The honorable gentleman has got his story all mixed up. I shall tell him the truth next week.
– Is the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction able to give some indication of the position regarding the 5,100 tons forging press that, as he has previously said, has been brought to this country from Germany as part of reparations?
– The press to which the honorable member has referred is part of the reparations that we have obtained from Germany. It is one of the most modern and largest presses of its kind in the world and is valued at about £250,000. The Commonwealth has entered into an arrangement with the Commonwealth Steel Company Limited at Newcastle to erect the press on the company’s premises at Waratah on a rental basis, and the press will be available for the use of any one who requires it. It will be used for the making of very large castings such as propellors and boilers that could not otherwise have been made in Australia. I believe that the arrangement that has been entered into between the Commonwealth and the company will mean that work of very great advantage to Australia, that normally would have had to be done abroad, will be able to be performed in this country.
– Has the Prime Minister been advised that the Victorian Government has approved the enlargement of the Eildon reservoir on the Goulburn River in Victoria, at an approximate cost of £10,000,000? Is it a fact that completion of this project would increase the population capacity of Australia by at least 250,000? Has a dollar allocation for this work been requested by the Victorian Government? Does the Prime Minister favour such an allocation for this necessary national work? If not, could the project be financed in any other way, for instance, through the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization or by the use of International Bank credit?
– Consideration has been given to this proposal. I have discussed it with the Victorian Premier, Mr. Hollway, and last week, the State Minister of Water Supply, Mr. Bolte, came to Canberra and gave me full particulars of the proposed plan. The scheme involves both water storage and the generation of hydro-electric power. The Victorian Government has asked for permission to call tenders throughout the world, including the dollar countries, for the whole or part of the work. The Minister provided me with a detailed and carefully prepared statement of the hard currency credit that would be required, particularly in the United States of America. He asked also whether, if the proposal for the calling of world-wide tenders could not be accepted, the Australian Government itself would make certain suggestions in regard to the construction. The proposals have been examined very fully indeed. I may say at once, however, that the possibility of increasing dollar allocations for the importation of capital equipment into this country is not hopeful. In fact, after meeting commitments that we have already entered into for the purchase of capital equipment, it will be most difficult, if not impossible, to undertake further substantial obligations of this kind. The Victorian Minister was most helpful and provided me with the fullest information. I am having his proposals examined by the committee which is constantly examining propositions involving dollars. I cannot give the honorable member a detailed answer to his question at the moment; but I assure him that a full investigation is being made in response to representations of the Victorian Authorities.
– On Tuesday I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel whether he would Ascertain what action had been taken to fettle- the waterfront dispute at the Queensland port of Mackay, where the Port Committee had suspended all members of the local branch of the Waterside Workers Federation. I ask the Minister now whether he has had an opportunity to confer with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel on this matter, and if so, whether he lias any further information about the dispute.
– After the honorable member asked his question on Tuesday, I consulted the Minister for Shipping and Fuel and, on the following day, he was able to inform me that, as the result of the good work that had been done - and I include the activities of my colleague - the dispute had been settled and work had been resumed at the port by 10 o’clock that day.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister for Labour and National Service. At Launceston, 250 waterside workers have been on strike for three weeks because of the refusal of the board of reference to grant them 9d. an hour extra for unloading coal from Kekerangu. The board recommended an extra l£d. an hour, hut the nien would not accept it, and walked off the ship. In view of the fact that all ships in the port are idle as a result of the dispute, and that perishable cargo remains unloaded, and in view of the fact that all efforts to settle the dispute have failed, will the Minister consider arranging for a conciliation commissioner to meet the parties in Launceston at an early date?
– The responsibility for settling disputes associated with waterfront employment throughout Australia rested upon the Stevedoring Industry Commission which is now inoperative and upon the port committees. The port committees still operate, therefor* I doubt whether a commissioner could b» sent to intervene in that dispute. However, if a commissioner could be of any use, I am certain that the Chief Judge of th». Arbitration Court would make oneavailable. I shall discuss the matter with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel and ascertain whether we can help in any way to resolve the dispute.
– Has the Government any control over the allocation of power to essential industries during tha national emergency? If so, will the Prime Minister ensure a high priority for power and materials used by the manufacturers of kerosene cooking appliances?
– The Commonwealth has no control over the allocation of power and materials. I have, however, made frequent representations to State Premiers regarding such matters, and sometimes, with the consent of the Premiers, to other Ministers who control the commodities in question. We are keeping in touch with the Government of New South Wales, and with other government* when necessary. I shall make inquiries about the specific matters mentioned by the honorable member.
– Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether the Joint Dairy Industry Advisory Committee, which, for a considerable time has been investigating the cost of producing butter, has recommended that the price of butter be increased by 2d. or 3d. per lb.? Ha» that recommendation reached the Minister, and if so, when will it be put into effect ?
– A recommendation from the Joint Dairy Industry Advisory Committee has reached me. Action has been taken, and a message has been sent to the various State governments regarding the matter. The honorable member knows that, because of the defeat of the Government’s referendum proposal on prices, the States now control prices.
– The Commonwealth has control over subsidies.
– I am answering the question. The State prices commissioners will meet in Brisbane on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, and the State Ministers in control of prices will meet on the following Friday. I take it that they will fully consider the recommendations of the committee, and that in due course an announcement will be made.
– Has the Minister for External Territories seen the report of an attack made upon the Australian administration of Nauru by the Russian representative on the United Nations Trusteeship Council, M. Soldatov, who asserted that the native inhabitants of Nauru had been denied every right by the administration? Can the Minister make a statement to the House correcting those mis-statements of the Soviet delegate?
– I have seen a newspaper report of an alleged attack upon the Australian administration of Nauru by the Soviet delegate to the Trusteeship Council. There is no foundation for the reported charges against the Australian administration. I am arranging for a full statement to be prepared and I hope to be able to make it available to the House at an early date.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is true, as has been reported, that the Government is taking action to compulsorily acquire Marx House in Sydney. If it is doing so, is the action part of the campaign to bring about a settlement of the present major industrial dispute, or for what purpose does the Government propose to acquire the building?
– I understand that there has been a newspaper report about the acquisition of Marx House by the Government. The position is that the Government needs additional office space in Sydney, as it hae has to forgo some space that it previously occupied. Officers have been examining various buildings in that city with the object of acquiring or leasing them.. The matter is being dealt with by the Minister for the Interior. Mara House may come under review with other buildings, but no definite decision ha» been made regarding it.
– Will the Minister for’ Civil Aviation state whether it is true that the Australian Government has completed an arrangement with th* Government of France by which th» French airline, Air-France, will be permitted to operate through Australian territory in order to maintain an ah service from Paris to French territories in the Pacific? If such a service it authorized, will the operating company have the right to pick up and set dowt passengers and freight at points within Australia ?
– Negotiation* have been going on for some time between representatives of the French and Aus tralian Governments in relation to the desire of the French Government that an air service should be established between Noumea and French territory is southern Asia. Numerous communications have passed between the two governments on the subject. Yesterday, a notification was sent to the French Government which may have the effect of enabling such an arrangement to be completed. Until it has been completed I shall not be able to give the honorable member any additional information on the subject. We are hopeful that a satisfactory arrangement for the establishment of the service will be made and that reciprocal rights will be granted by the two countries which may be beneficial to both.
– As Chairman, I present the second report of the Printing Committee.
Report read by the Clerk, and - by leave - adopted.
– Yesterday, the honorable member for Moreton referred to the possibility of an outbreak of yellow fever in Australia, and asked whether the Department of Health knew of the existence in Australia of the stegonuya fascial a mosquito, which is known to carry yellow fever. I promised to discuss the matter with the Minister for Health and to obtain for the honorable member all the information that is available. It is true that certain types of mosquitoes which are known to be dangerous carriers of yellow fever are prevalent in certain districts in Australia, principally in the north-west of Western Australia and in Queensland extending down to the border of New South Wales. There has not been a case of yellow fever in Australia since 1890, when a member of the crew of a vessel which was era route to Brazil was found to be suffering from the disease. That was an isolated case. The only two known sources of yellow fever are West Africa and South America. No trace of the disease exists in Australia. . The health authorities are fully aware of the danger of the introduction of yellow fever and they are taking all possible precautions to guard against the possibility of its importation into this country. The mosquito is quite harmless unless the disease is imported into Australia so that it can play upon it. It Lj widely recognized that the Australian and Queensland Government health authorities have some of the best tropical disease experts in the world. They have kept Australia clear of yellow fever in the past, and intend to keep it clear in the future.
– Will the Treasurer inform the House what inquiry and investigation he has made regarding the possibility and the wisdom of obtaining a dollar loan from (a) the International Bank, in which Australia has a very large monetary shareholding, and (fc) ExportImport Bank?
– The Government has always been very reluctant to negotiate any further loans in the United States of America, for the reason that-
– I referred to the International Bank, in which we have an interest equivalent to 450,000,000 dollars, not the United States of America.
– Order I The Treasurer should be permitted to complete his reply without interruption.
– I thought that the right honorable gentleman meant a dollar loan which, together with interest, would have to be repaid in dollars. What I should have said was that the Government has been reluctant to raise further loans which would involve dollar commitments. Loans that were raised by the Brisbane City Council and by a local governing body in Sydney, totalling about 9,500,000 dollars or 10,000,000 dollars will be falling due at an early date. The Government will be faced with the problem of converting those loans. This gives some indication of the difficulties that arise through our raising loans in the United States of America that have to be converted subsequently into dollars. Every aspect of this matter has been explored and examined in the light of the Government’s commitments. The dollar position is extraordinarily difficult and we must keep a completely flexible mind in relation to these matters. Although the aspect raised by the right honorable gentleman has not been lost sight of, at the moment the Government does not feel disposed to enter into such an arrangement.
– I am more concerned about the International Bank, in which we have a holding of 450,000,000 dollars.
– I quite understand the import of the right honorable gentleman’s question. However, that would finally involve dollar commitments.
– In that event we were foolish to put the money in.
– by leave - The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) asked me last Tuesday whether a conference of Prime Ministers of the British Commonwealth was being summoned to meet in London to discuss currency and exchange problems. The British Government to-day issued the following statement in London: -
The dollar situation, which is engaging the close attention of the British Government ia one that affects the Governments of all Commonwealth countries. In accordance with the practice of consultation between members of the Commonwealth on matters of common concern, the British Government has thought it right to suggest to the other governments that Finance Ministers should meet at London for discussions towards the middle of next month. Correspondence is still proceeding, and a further announcement will be made when arrangements have been completed.
The position in regard to dollar deficits has deteriorated. The deterioration is not due to the over-importation of goods from dollar areas, but to the inability of Great Britain and the Dominions to earn by the export of commodities the same amount of hard currency as they earned previously. That remark applies to a number of commodities, one of them being Australian wool sold in the United States of America. Australia will be represented at this conference. If it is possible for me to attend it, I shall do so. If I cannot attend, arrangements will be made for the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction to attend in my place.
– Will the House be given an opportunity to discuss the matter before the Australian representative leaves this country?
– The international affairs debate will be resumed next week. The matter may be discussed then.
– I present the fourth report of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee which reads as follows : -
The Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings submits the Fourth Report for presentation to each House of the Parliament and recommends its adoption.
The Joint Committee has further considered the general principles upon which there should be determined the days upon which and the periods during which the proceedings of the Senate and the House of Representatives shall be broadcast, which were specified in the First, Second and Third Reports adopted by both Houses on 5th and 17th July, and 15th November, 1 946, respectively. In accordance with section 12 (1.) of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act 1946, the Joint Committee has now resolved that paragraph (4) of the general principles should be amended by the addition of two subparagraphs. Paragraph (4) at present reads as follows: - “ (4) Re-broadcast of questions and answers. - Within the limits of time available, the following Parliamentary proceedings shall be re-broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission between 7.20 p.m. and 7.55 p.m. on each sitting day: -
Senate proceedings - Questions without notice and on notice and answers thereto;
House of Representatives proceedings - Questions without notice and answers thereto.”.
The sub-paragraphs to be added are - “ (b) When a member makes a personal explanation in rebuttal of misrepresentation contained in a question asked that day or an answer thereto, the question and answer shall, subject to the next succeeding sub-paragraph, be excluded from the re-broadcast.
The Presiding Officer may, in his discretion, refer any case to the Joint Committee for decision as to whether such question and answer shall be excluded from the rebroadcast.”. gordon brown, Vice-Chairman. 29th June, 1949.
Honorable members are aware that, under the terms of paragraph 4 of the general principles, only questions and answers have been included in the re-broadcast which is made at 7.20 p.m. on each sitting day.From time to time honorable members have raised the question of rebroadcasting personal explanations made in rebuttal of alleged misrepresentation contained in questions or answers included in the re-broadcast, and the matter has now been reconsidered by the committee.
The effect of the recommendation now submitted to the Parliament for adoption would be that whilst the re-broadcast will continue to be limited to questions and answers, and personal explanations, points of order, &c., will be excluded, any question and answer which give rise to a personal explanation would be excluded from the re-broadcast. It is provided that the presiding officer may, in his discretion, refer any such case to the committee for decision.
It is not contemplated that there shall be any departure from the present practice under which personal explanations are deferred until the end of the 35 minutes question re-broadcast period, and honorable members are requested to continue to observe this procedure. In addition, and for reasons connected with the technical operation of the re-broadcast, it will be of considerable assistance if an honorable member who proposes to make i personal explanation will do so immediately at the conclusion of the period of 35 minutes referred to and will give ;he Chair prior notification of his intention.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) - by leave - agreed to -
That the report be adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an et to amend the Census and Statistics Act
Bill presented, and read a first time.
, - by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill is designed to simplify procedure in the gazettal of forms for the collection of statistics and to make completely watertight the existing provisions requiring the observance of secrecy about the contents of individual returns furnished to the Statistician for purposes of census and statistics. As the act stands at present, section 17 requires that all forms except those relating to “ factories, mines and productive industries generally “ shall be prescribed by regulation and such regulation shall be notified in the Commonwealth Gazette. This procedure involves long delay and is proving so unwieldy as to render it very difficult to make changes in statistical forms necesary to meet changing circumstances. The Statistician, the Government Printer and the legal draftsmen all desire relief from a great deal of unnecessary work involved in this regard. Moreover, the effect of the present section is to require that the Minister shall personally sign each of numerous forms each year in order to indicate his approval of them. Successive Treasurers have found it almost impracticable to comply with this requirement on all occasions in the past. Under the tedious and difficult process of defining by regulation exactly which persons are required to complete each particular return, it is becoming well nigh impossible to arrive at specific verbal definition of persons coming within the scope of certain of th» activities for which statistics are required.
The amendment proposed to section 17 does not change its substance. It will however, eliminate the considerable volume of work involved in prescribing, signing by the Treasurer, printing ana gazetting statistical forms every time any amendment, however small, is made to a prescribed form. The amendment will provide a more effective working arrange ment by placing upon the Statistician the onus of compiling lists of person* required to complete returns and ensure that each relevant person will be individually made aware by the Statistician of his liability to furnish a return. Thi* procedure is considered to be more effective than the mere publication of a notice in the Gazette. A firmer control by the Treasurer has been provided by an added subsection that a prosecution without the consent of the Minister shall not be instituted for failure to supply return* under this section. The proposed amendment is urgent at this stage in order to facilitate arrangements whereby the Commonwealth may collect certain statistic* for both State and Commonwealth purposes. One immediate result will be that in Victoria only one quarterly statistical return will be required from builder* instead of two. The Victorian Builder* and Allied Trades Association has asked for this and the Victorian Minister for Housing has agreed to one joint return, being used for both Commonwealth and State purposes.
The amendment to section 24 is necessary to make it perfectly clear that the aci: gives an absolute guarantee that all information collected for statistical purposeswill be used for those purposes only and. will not be divulged for any other purpose Previously this principle could have been, impaired by regulation and possibly bydirection of the Minister under section 20.. The proposed amendment of section 20,. which is complementary to that of section 24, means that the Statistician cannot be directed to publish statistics in such a way as to divulge particulars of individual returns.
Taken together, these amendments have two effects. They ensure that the secrecy attaching to individual statistical returns cannot be violated by regulation or by administrative action and they enable the Statistician to obtain information voluntarily from individuals for statistical purposes under statutory guarantee that it will not be divulged. Hitherto the Statistician has relied upon administrative action to ensure that his promises would be honoured when collecting confidential information. These provisions will give the clearest statutory authority for what has always been regarded by successive Ministers and statisticians alike as the unwritten and inviolable law concerning the privacy of information, about individual persons and individual businesses, obtained for statistical purposes by the Statistician. With the proposed amendments, the act will be in conformity with the policy followed in practice by all governments in the past. This is considered to be fundamental to the collection of reliable and complete statistics. These amendments do not place any restriction or limitation upon the Statistician in compiling and publishing statistics for general information. His position in that respect remains as it always has been. Government policy is to facilitate the fullest possible publication of statistics.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
Dr. EVATT (Barton - Attorney-
General and Minister for External Affairs) [11.32].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House has received this bill from the Senate. The measure makes provision for the prevention of irregularities in connexion with the elections for office in organizations registered under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and vests in the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration additional powers for the prevention of such irregu larities. The purpose of the bill is to ensure, as far as possible, that elections of officers of organizations registered under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act shall take place, and express the will of those who are entitled to vote in accordance with the rules of those organizations. The fact is that the vast majority of elections in registered organizations and unions have been fairly and carefully conducted, but recently, trade union leaders and members of the rank and file of the trade union movement have been disturbed by evidence of improper practice and irregularities in elections in some unions.
– That evidence has been derived from cases that have been considered by the courts, particularly is Victoria, and from one or two cases in New South Wales. Those irregularities have undoubtedly been brought about in some cases, by minorities in an effort to secure the election of officials to represent their views rather than the views of the vast majority of members. The trade union movement itself has supported the proposal to pass this legislation. The Australian Council of Trades Unions, which represents the opinion of the majority of organized workers in this country, has approved of the principles of this bill.
I come now to the provisions of this legislation. First, the bill provides machinery for investigation by the judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court of elections and of irregularities in connexion with those elections. The court is given power to rectify any vital irregularities, to order the holding of new elections or to take other appropriate measures. The procedure which is indicated in the bill is that the court will act only when the Industrial Registrar, after a preliminary examination, is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for such an inquiry by the court. Secondly, the bill includes a provision permitting as organization, of its own free will, to have an election conducted under the authority of the Registrar of the Court That provision is most important. There may be cases in which that would be appropriate, and in such cases, if an election is so conducted, it would not .be subject to challenge in the court.
– That is, if the election is conducted at the request of the organization ?
– -Yes. In that case, there would be an assurance that the election had been properly conducted. Thirdly, the bill prohibits, with very substantial penalties specified, malpractices in connexion with elections. There are two or three other provisions of importance, and one matter of detail in relation to legal costs in connexion with proceedings under the act. The bill not only provides for payment by the Commonwealth in appropriate cases of the cost of an applicant who may be a member of a trade union or registered organization, or who has been such a member within the preceding twelve mouths, but also permits the court to order the payment of his costs. The bill also empowers the court to order the Government to pay the costs of an applicant who has not succeeded, but whose application is, in the opinion of the court, reasonable. It also permits the payment of legal costs of other organizations and persons who have been put to expense which it is not reasonable for them to have to bear. Furthermore, when the court orders a new ballot to be taken the Commonwealth may bear the expense of conducting the new elections, and in any proceedings connected with the matter the Commonwealth may be represented by the Attorney-General or by other counsel. Those are the main provisions of the bill, and they raise important principles.
Objections have been raised to the bill in certain quarters, and I have no doubt that many honorable members have received a spate of telegrams from certain groups which object to the measure on the ground that it interferes with the right of members of trade unions to conduct their own elections. Of course, the bill does nothing of the kind. When one reviews the history of parliamentary elections, one realizes how baseless such a suggestion is. In fact, it is rather useful to consider the history of parliamentary elections in relation to the development of the trade union movement and the evolution of modern trade unions. Let me refer for a moment to the trade unions themselves. A little more than 100 years ago the existence of a trade union was regarded by the courts as constituting almost a conspiracy, and the “ anticombination “ acts that were passed in England in 1824 and 1825 indicate the determination of the authorities to prevent the growth of trade unions. Some ten or fifteen years later, an attempt was made by agricultural workers to form a trade union, but the whole engine of the law was employed to suppress it and punish those who were daring enough to endeavour to form trade unions to improve their conditions. The persistent efforts of the agricultural workers culminated in the Tolpuddle case, when the “ Dorchester martyrs “ were convicted. A few decades later legislation was passed to legalize trade unions. Later still, their importance in the life of the community became recognized, and the history of the development of trade unionism in Great Britain has been substantially duplicated by the development of that movement in Australia. An important factor in the growth of trade unions in this country i» the legislation passed by the Parliament of the Commonwealth, which has made laws to establish conciliation and arbitration tribunals for the settlement and prevention of industrial disputes. Early in the history of the Australian Parliament, legislation was passed to provide for the registration of trade unions to enable the representatives of those unions to speak for all their members. That legislation also provided for collective bargaining between the unions and the employers, and it has contributed largely to the development of the trade union movement in this country. To-day the trade union movement, which embraces practically all those engaged in recognized callings or industries, is extremely powerful; indeed, in some respects, it is at powerful as the organized community itself. Parallel with that development, employers have evolved into the modern corporation or groups of corporations. On the one hand, we have the organized community, which elects its legislative representatives at parliamentary elections, and, on the other hand, we have the corporation and the trade union. Those organisms are inter-related’, so that the modern trade union bears the stamp of public interest and concern - something which we never recognized 50, or even twenty, years ago.
In Australia we enjoy, except for the present crisis in the coal industry, full employment. Gradually the people are coming to understand that their progress and welfare are bound up with the welfare of each other. The trade unions are bound up with the state, and the powerful corporations of employers are also organized for the benefit of their shareholders. The brief summary which I have given of the evolution of the modern trade unions brings us to a consideration of the democratic control of those great organizations. For comparison we review the history of parliamentary elections. It is only in comparatively modern times that the secret ballot was introduced into parliamentary elections. Indeed, in many countries to-day it is known as the “Australian ballot”. That system was devised in Australia, not because people were ashamed of their vote, but because they were entitled to exercise their vote without being subject to control or pressure, or intimidation, which was proved to exist under the system of parliamentary representation which obtained in England for so many years. From thatwe got the ballot, and the right of the courts to set aside disputed elections where there had been irregularities. In both instances, we have an analogy to the system which the Government now (proposes to introduce for the election of union officials.
I put the bill before the House as an indication that proper control of the affairs of a trade union by its members - not by any individual or body which is not a member, but by all its members - has become essential, not only to the trade union movement, but also to the entire community. That principle may lead in future to other suggestions being made for the development of the trade union movement in the democratic structure of to-day. This bill is an important step forward because it recognizes that the proper conduct of ballots for the election of union officials is a matter of vital public concern. Under present law the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration has general authority con cerning the acceptance of the rules of a trade union, but the bill proposes to take a further step to extend the jurisdiction of the court to empower it to entertain an application by any member of a union, or an individual who has been such a member within the preceding twelve months, for the court to supervise an election where it is suspected that irregularities or improper practices have occurred. The courts are given wide powers to deal with the election, and wide sanctions are provided for offences. There is, as I have said, an analogy between the conduct of elections in a registered trade union and those of the National Parliament. We put this bill forward as a step that has been approved by the trade union movement, which has gradually come to appreciate that trade union elections are entering a sphere which is as important to the well-being of the community as are elections for the Commonwealth or a State parliament.
Debate (on motion byMr. Menzies) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 29th June (vide page 1749), on motion by Mr. Calwell -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Fadden 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 referred to a select committee of this House appointed to inquire into and report upon the deterioration in the finances of the Postmaster-General’s Department which has resulted in the imposition of these heavy increases in charges at a time when revenue from other sources is at a record high level.”
– in reply - Idesire to reply to the ersatz arguments of honorable gentlemen opposite in criticism of the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill. To the motion for the second reading of the bill, the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fad den) has moved an amendment, the effect of which would be to delay further consideration and passage of the bill until it had been considered by a select committee of the Souse and a report had been made by it upon the alleged deterioration of the finances of the Postmaster-General’s Department at a time when, the right honorable gentleman claims, the revenue from other sources is at a record high level. It is not constitutionally possible for the Government to accumulate in a special fund the profits made by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. Section 81 of the Constitution provides -
All revenues or moneys raised or received by the Executive Government of the Commonwealth shall form one Consolidated Revenue Fund, to be appropriated for the purposes of the Commonwealth in the manner and subject to the charges and liabilities imposed by this Constitution.
Therefore, it is not possible for the Government to set aside the profits made by the Postmaster-General’s Department in any year or years against losses that it may make in another year or other years. That is my reply to certain honorable gentlemen opposite who have suggested that such a course should have been or should be resorted to. The suggestion of the Leader of the Australian Country party that a select committee should be appointed to inquire into the operations of the Postmaster-General’s Department, even if it were adopted, could not have much result. The facts of the finances of the Postmaster-General’s Department are known. A select committee could not find out anything more about them than has already been clearly stated. If the purpose of the amendment is the conduct of a smear campaign against the administration of the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron), I can understand why it has been proposed. Otherwise, I do not know why it was proposed. I assure the Leader of the Australian Country party that there has been no deterioration of the finances of the Postmaster-General’s Department. Inefficiency in the department or a lack of proper control of it by the Postmaster-General, or his officers, has been implied.
– A profit of about £5,000,000 last financial year will be converted into an estimated deficit of about £6,000,000 next financial year.
– I shall deal with that matter, as I shall deal with all the spurious arguments advanced by honor able gentlemen opposite. The Government will not tolerate delay in the passage of this measure until after a select committee has inquired into and reported on the administration of the Postmaster General’s Department. The bill must b* passed to-day in order that the proposed new rates may operate to-morrow, when the new financial year will begin. The Leader of the Australian Country party read a written speech. He reads a lot of his speeches.
– What else could the Minister expect me to do than read a speech on a technical matter? The honorable gentleman read his speech when he moved the second reading of th* bill.
– The matter is noi so technical as all that. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) made hi* speech on the bill without the assistance of written words. Anyway, the Leader of the Australian Country party wai frank enough to read his speech openly. In doing so, he showed himself to be different from the honorable member foi Reid (Mr. Lang), who reads from copious notes while pretending to make an extempore speech.
– The Minister read hi* second-reading speech.
– Of course I did. J had to explain the measure. In doing so, I adopted the usual practice. There is a standing order that forbids the reading of speeches. Leaders of the Opposition parties rarely read speeches, unless they have a special purpose to serve The Leader of the Australian Country party read a speech that he made on behalf of the oil companies, attacking the petrol policy of the Government.
– Order! The Minister must address himself to the bill.
– I have made thai explanation, because, in the course of his speech, the Leader of the Australian Country party made a violent attack on me, alleging that T had used my powers to print propaganda in that splendid publication To-morrow’s Australians. His was the first criticism of that publication that I have heard.
– I dealt with printing priorities, not with the merits of that publication.
– The right honorable gentleman said that the annual report of the Postmaster-General for 1947-48 could have been published but for the fact that the Government Printing Office had been occupied in printing Government propaganda sheets.
– I did not say that.
– The right honorable gentleman did say it.
-no, I said that the printing of the annual report of the Postmaster-General should have had priority over other printing, including the printing of To-morrow’s Australians.
– The right honorable gentleman said that that publication was used by me as Minister for Information and Minister for Immigration for propaganda purposes, and his statement was applauded by his supporters.
– I said that a great deal of the printing done by the Government Printer was Government propaganda.
– The whole of the right honorable gentleman’s speech was of the voice of Fadden, but the cough of McCaffrey. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) referred to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department as a huge monopoly. If it is a monopoly - and no one doubts that it is - it is certainly a benevolent one. It is operated by the people for the people. The Postal Department has been a government monopoly ever since a government was first established in Australia. The honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) smiles. She used to be a fiery member of the Australian Labour party who wanted to monopolize everything in the country.
– She has seen the tight.
– Since she changed her political faith and saw the light, asa lot of people who leave the Australian Labour party do, her criticism of the Postmaster-General’s Department has become very strident.
– Order ! I ask the Minister to return to the bill.
– I am answering the observations of honorable members opposite who have tried to misrepresent the position. I want to be fair to them, but they must not attack the PostmasterGeneral’s Department as a monopoly and pretend that it is inflicting some harm on the Australian community.
– It is dipping its fingers into our pockets.
– Well, a government enterprise ought to pay its way. No one would suggest that a commercial undertaking should be operated on unbusinesslike lines.
– What about TransAustralia Airlines and the Commonwealth Railways ?
– I shall deal with Trans-Australia Airlines and the Commonwealth Railways in a moment. At present, I am dealing with the sneers of the honorable member for Wentworth about this huge government monopoly. From the time that Governor Phillip landed at Sydney Cove, in 1788, and a form of colonial government was established under military commandants and all through the subsequent period during which a legislative council was set up in New South Wales to be succeeded by the Parliament of New South Wales and, then, as new Australian colonies were created, by the other colonial parliaments until and after federation in 1901 to the present day, postal and allied services in Australia have been a government monopoly. The honorable member for Wentworth seemed to be preparing a case for the sale of the Post Office and its related services to private enterprise.
– That is not so.
– Oh, yes it is! A government made up of people like the honorable gentleman sold the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers to private enterprise. It sold or gave away a lot of other government enterprises. At a recent conference of the federal executive of the Liberal party of Australia in
Adelaide, which the honorable member attended, a resolution was carried advocating the sale of government enterprises. The Leader of the Australian Country party suggested that Trans-Australia Airlines should be sold.
– I did no such thing.
– The honorable member for Wentworth said that if the Liberal party gained power in the Australian Parliament, it would re-establish the Commonwealth Bank Board. That is in line with its policy of destroying government enterprises.
– Was not the honorable member for Wentworth once the PostmasterGeneral ?
– He was. This Government does not favour handing over the postal services to big business interests because those big business interests would operate the Post Office, not in the interests of the community but to provide profits for the few. The right honorable member for Darling Downs has urged an inquiry into the finances of the Postal Department, and made some scathing remarks regarding the method of presenting the department’s balance-sheet to the Parliament.
– I made no scathing references, I simply pointed out the difference in methods. It is no good for the Minister to use exaggerated language. There was no scathing reference whatever.
– The use of language is a matter of taste. I heard the right honorable gentleman’s statements and I regard them as having been very scathing in general terms. What sort of criticism did the right honorable gentleman make? It was not a slap-on-the-wrist sort of criticism.
– I made my criticism toshow the difference between the accounting methods used by the Postal Department and those used by the Treasury. That is a fact which has been a fact for a long time, and was so under my Treasurership and that of others, and I merely quoted it as a fact.
– The right honorable gentleman suggests that he protested against the method of administration of the Postal Department, and pointed out that it differs from the method of administration adopted by the Treasury. My answer to that is that the method adopted by the Postal Department to-day is not a new one. It has operated for 30 years.
– Quite right!
– It operated under anti-Labour governments for most of that period. The right honorable gentleman wants to prescribe a - new method of accountancy in the Postal Department. Might I inquire why did he not adopt a new method when he had the power to do so? The Government considers that there is nothing wrong with the accounting system now being used by the Postal Department.
– I did not say there was.
– The right honorable gentleman said there was not adequate - -
– I said no such thing.
– The right honorable gentleman now says that he did not say that there was anything wrong with the existing accountancy system used by the Postal Department. If that is so, why did he criticize it at all ? He is just wasting the time of the House.
I turn now to the observations made by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) regarding the late issue of annual reports by the Postmaster-General’s Department. The Postmaster-General’s annual report consists of a very great deal of statistical and financial information that is not readily obtainable immediately at the end of each financial year. That information has to be collected from all the post offices throughout Australia. In my second: reading speech I mentioned that there were about 10,000 post offices in Australia. .Not only has the information to be collected, but it also has to be collated, and prepared in a form that is readily readable, and then it has to be printed. There are many difficulties in the Government Printing Office to-day when it comes to producing a huge publication like the Postmaster-General’s annual report. Publishing such a report is not like publishing a newspaper or a mass of easily assembled material that can be put into type and run off. In addition to a great deal of compilation work, a great amount of checking is also required, and when the
Government Printer receives the matter to be printed he must be sure that he can make progress with it.
– The PostmasterGeneral’s annual report is not like a newspaper, because it is factual.
– It is not only factual, but the facts have to be verified before they are published. Stories cannot be printed with abandon or maliciousness or complete indifference. The Government Printer is short of about 51 employees. If he were able to find houses for additional employees he would be able to augment his staff, and it would then be possible to have the report ready much earlier than at present. The right honorable gentleman also knows that even in normal times the Postmaster-General’s annual report is always considerably late.
– It could not help but be late.
– In the past the report has been usually tabled in March or April of the year following the financial year with which it deals. In the abnormal conditions of the present time we must expect some considerable delay beyond that month but such reports will be brought before the Parliament as soon as possible.
– I do not think that there is any suggestion that the Government is deliberately withholding the report.
– I am glad to hear that. When the right honorable member for Darling Downs was Commonwealth Treasurer, he was not able to have the Post master-General’s annual report for 1938-39 tabled in the Parliament until May, 1940. The present position must be considered in the light of these facts. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), when commenting upon the proposed new charges, said that they would ultimately be borne by working men, because big business would pass on the additional costs that would be caused by the increased charges, down the line to the consumer. Concern about costs being passed on to working men is an unusual role for the Opposition to fill. The Opposition parties stand for a system in which as much cost as possible is passed on to the small people. But the
Labour party is concerned with the little people, and therefore intends to place the burden of these additional costs upon the shoulders of those best able to bear them. We do not intend to increase the postal rate or the charge for calls on public telephones in the metropolitan areas. People who cannot afford telephones of their own use those public telephones. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Thompson; covered this ground adequately, and I have nothing to add to his very clear and effective statement of the position. The proposed adjustments will increase postal revenue by only 16 per cent. During his secondreading speech the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) challenged any one to cite any business enterprise that could show such a record as that of the Postal Department in recent years.
– And such a big profit over the last five years.
– If the honorable gentleman had been here he would have heard me point out that we cannot take the money that was earned in previous years to finance a deficit in subsequent years.
– I was here all the time.
– The proposed increased charges will, I repeat, increase postal revenue by only 16 per cent. But charges for newspaper advertisements have increased very considerably over recent years without evoking any criticism from honorable members opposite. I do not want to add much to what the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) said on that point-
– Surely the members of the Government do not want to keep company with newspaper interests ?
– I should like to point out for the information of honorable members who are critical of the increases that will raise postal revenue by only 16 per cent., that in the decade from 1939 to 1949 the Sydney Sunday Telegraph increased its advertising charges by 206 per cent. In the same period the following percentage increases for advertising rates were made by other newspapers in the various capital cities: - Sydney: Sunday Sun, 167 per cent.; Daily Telegraph, 159 per cent.; Sydney Morning Herald, 146 per cent. Melbourne: Herald. 113 per cent. ; Sun-News Pictorial, 113 per cent.; Argus, which is now under a new and much better management, 116 per cent. Brisbane: CourierMail, 142 per cent.; Sunday Mail, 161 per cent; Telegraph, 16S per cent. Adelaide: News, 140 per cent.; Advertiser, 60 per cent. Hobart: Mercury, 87 per cent. If it has been found necessary for price-fixing authorities to approve any such percentage increases - and I do not know how any authority could have agreed to such abnormal increases - the 16 per cent, increase of postal charges is not unjust. When one considers the effect of the introduction of the 40-hour week and the increased wages and salaries operating as a result of Arbitration Court determinations it is not to be wondered at that the charges have been increased 16 per cent. The wonder is that they have been kept so low. The honorable member for Richmond has said that there is a difference of £12,000,000 in the accounts of the Postal Department over two years. That story is not correct. There was a profit of about £5,000,000 in 1946-47 and of about £1,800,000 in 1947-48. But it is estimated that there will be a loss of £3,500,000 for the current financial year, and of £6,000,000 for the next financial year, so that the difference is £11,000,000 over a period of four years and not £.12,000,000 over a period of two years. This difference is fully explained by the inescapable costs that the Postal Department has had to meet and which for several main items of expenditure amount to more than £13,000,000. I think that I am being fair when I say that the Leader of the Australian Country party charged the Treasurer with incorrect budgeting for the present year. That claim is wide of the mark. The cash receipts of the Postal Department are within a few thousand pounds of the Treasurer’s estimate, and expenditure also is close to the estimate.
– How close?
– Very close when allowance is made for the extra expense of two £12 cost-of-living adjustments. Obviously the Treasurer cannot estimate the degree to which the cost of living will rise, if at all. However, as I have said, allowing for that necessary provision, the expenditure has been very close to th* estimate.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) talked about a change in the finances of the Postal Department from a substantial surplus in 1946-47, to a loss this year. I explained’ in my second-reading speech that labour costs had risen considerably since 1947. A total of £7,000,000 ha* been added to the annual wages hill by wage determinations.
– The point is that the present Opposition parties were able to record a surplus in the depression years, whereas Labour has produced a deficit in a boom period.
– I agree that the present Opposition parties recorded a Postal Department surplus in the depression years. They did that by sacking as many postal employees as they could. That is one way to produce a surplus, but this Government does not propose to follow that bad example. Do honorable members opposite not favour wage increases? Do they want the Government to ignore the decisions of wage-fixing tribunals? They have been telling the miners to obey the decisions of their own tribunals; but now they are complaining about other tribunals, established under the same Commonwealth authority, giving to postal employees increased wages, which have resulted’ naturally in a change in the financial position of the Postal Department. There has been a further £7,000,000 increase of the annual costs of the department owing to the employment of additional staff required for development work, improvements in mail services and payments to non-official postmasters, and increased costs of materials required for maintenance work. All honorable members of this House, Government and Opposition alike, continually make representations for improved mail services. They ask also for increased payments to non-official postmasters and for further developmental work. To meet those requests, obviously additional staff is required. I do not object to the requests, and they are met wherever possible.
– The Opposition is asking now that all first-class mail be carried by air.
– That is true. If honorable members are to make requests, they must be prepared to back the Treasurer when he increases his estimates to do the things that they so strongly urge upon him and upon his colleague, the Postmaster-General.
The Leader of the Australian Country party has suggested that, in the department’s commercial accounts, credit should be shown for the work that it performs for other departments. My answer to that observation is that the Postal Department does credit itself with the value of the work that it performs for other departments. I hope that I am not using an unduly strong term when I say that the right honorable gentleman charged the Treasurer with deliberately concealing the true position of the Postal Department’s finances for political reasons.
– The Minister is exaggerating.
– The right honorable gentleman may not have understood the full import of what he was saying, but he told us, in effect, that, for political motives, the Government was not disclosing the true position of the Postal Department’s finances.
– The point that I made was that the Postal Department itself makes a more liberal allowance for the services that it renders to other departments than does the Treasurer. If that is so, it must be done for political purposes to relieve the accounts of socialized undertakings, including Trans-Australia Airlines and the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– Is that not an allegation that we are misusing the Postal Department’s finances?
– T said, “If that is so”.
– I wish that the right honorable gentleman would extricate himself from his subjunctive moods and try to be positive sometimes. Let him say what he wants to say and not base a case on a hypothetical position. All that I have to say to the right honorable gentleman is that if he had absorbed the statements issued by the. Treasurer at the end of each financial year showing the cash or budgetary position of the Postal Department’s finances, he would have seen quite clearly the effect of the inescapable increased costs on the operations of the department. In the Government’s view, it would have been inappropriate to bring down a bill for increased rates earlier, or until the probable position for next year could be foreseen with some certainty.
– Is the Minister reading his speech ?
– No, I have some notes of what the right honorable gentleman said. T am endeavouring to save time by saying what I have to say as succinctly as possible. The right honorable gentleman asked whether the revenue from the increased services had been taken into account in ascertaining the probable deficit. The truth is that the increased services have been taken into account. Full cognizance has been given to the estimated revenue from new services of all kinds, but with inadequate tariffs, the greater the number of customers, the greater will be the loss. We are continually increasing services to the people, and to that degree, we are increasing the cost of the department. That surely is axiomatic.
The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) raised the question of trunk-line rates. His criticism of the elimination of the special trunk-line night .rate after 8 o’clock, is not justified, because it must be remembered that a concession rate will still apply after 6 p.m. that will permit all subscribers, metropolitan and country alike, to make calls after the ordinary business hours at a low rate. Incidentally that confession rate period, from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. is one of the longest in the world.
The honorable member for Barker would like to limit the duration of public telephone calls. The facts are that although occasionally calls extend for longer periods, as a general rule, according to a large number of checks, most public telephone calls terminate before three minutes have expired.
– The abuse of public telephones was the theme of a film shown to honorable members in the Senate club room last night.
– I do not object to the honorable member criticizing the abuse by some people of public telephone services, and I believe that the film to which be has referred had a very good message to convey, but what the honorable member suggested was that the Government -should take some action to prevent abuses. My answer to that is that the alteration of the circuits to permit calls to be disconnected at the end of three minutes would be difficult and costly. Like every other member of the community, I have suffered to some degree through the practice of garrulous individuals using public telephones to tell friends and relatives all the details of their operations, &c, at a cost of 2d. However, as T have said, most public telephone calls are concluded before the end of three minutes.
The honorable member for Wentworth urged examination of the practicability of adopting the New Zealand system of charging a flat rate for telephone services. The flat-rate system was in operation in Australia many years ago; but it was discarded because it operated unfairly against the smaller users. The present system under which a rental is paid as a contribution towards the annual cost of plant, and a charge is made for each call, is the fairer method, and accords with that adopted by other public utilities such as electricity and water supply authorities in capital cities and large provincial towns. To introduce a flat rate would lead to a substantial increase of charges to small businesses and domestic users for the benefit of “ big business “ concerns which can well afford to pay for the facility.
– The same amount of revenue would have to be raised.
– That is so. The great bulk of telephone subscribers are in the small user group. The honorable member’s suggestion, if adopted, would have the effect of transferring to this group the ‘burden of paying for the system.
– I understood the implications, but thought that the zoning system might be examined. ‘
– I promise that the honorable member’s sugestion will be further considered. The honorable member for Barker, who has a preternaturally suspicious mind, wanted to know if there was any possibility of discrimination being exercised in the application of the concession rates to parliamentary press telegrams. Of course, .there is no possibility of such a thing happening. The new rates will apply to all parliamentary press telegrams emanating from the Australian Capital Territory, whether from Government or Opposition sources.
– Will the concession apply to statements made by leaders of political parties when the Parliament is not sitting?
– I think that the answer I have already given covers the point. If the statement were contained in a press telegram sent from Canberra, the concession rate would apply, whether Parliament was sitting or not.
– But the leaders of parties are not always in Canberra when the Parliament is not sitting.
– If party leaders make statements in the State capitals, for instance, the same rule will apply to press telegrams concerning those statements as to other press messages.
– Will the concession apply to statements emanating from State parliaments ?
– The concession is to apply to press telegrams. If State parliamentary leaders happen to be in Canberra, and issue statements which become the subject of press telgrams, the concession rate will apply to those telegrams. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull), commenting on the proposed rates for telegrams, said that the majority of messages contained fewer than fourteen words.
– I said that the average was eighteen.
– Well, the honorable member is about right for once. The average number of words is nineteen, and the maximum charge for a telegram of nineteen words will he ls. lid. In the United States of America, where private enterprise, which the honorable member for Wimmera likes so much and talks about so much, operates the telegraph services, the corresponding rate is 22s. 6d. Surely this is a tribute to the governmentcontrolled services in Australia.
– The -rate of 22s. 6d. is for a message from coast to coast.
– Yes, and .the cost of sending a message from coast to coast in Australia is Ls. lid. I hope that the honorable member who, for political purposes, talks against socialization, but advocates it when he wants benefits for his own electors so that they will vote for him, will in the future be muted when sounding the anti-socialization note.
– There is a .considerable difference in the service given in the United States of America and in Australia.
– There is very little difference in the maximum distance over which messages may be sent in the two countries. It is about 2,000 miles in each case. As a matter of fact, I have heard very little criticism of the telegraph service in Australia. Let us all remember the fact that although the United States of America and Australia have about the same area, namely, 3,000,000 square miles, the United States of America has a population of nearly 150,000,000, whereas that of Australia is about 7,500,000, nearly all of whom are jammed between the mountain ranges and the sea coast on the eastern side of the continent. The honorable member for Barker referred to the increased telegraph rates. The new rates for telegrams will still be amongst the cheapest in the world, as the following comparison indicates. Taking the maximum rates for a telegram of fourteen words, the figures are: Australia, ls. 6d. ; United Kingdom, ls. 9d.; New Zealand, ls. Sd.; South Africa, ls. 6d. ; United States of America, 18s. 7d. Thus, in the United States of America, that land of free enterprise and rugged individualism, the charge for sending a telegram is just about ten times as much as in Australia, where the services are operated by the Government. Incidentally, I may mention that the maxi mum rate in Australia in 1902 for a sixteen-word telegram was ls., and costs have increased very considerably since then. Perhaps, if the honorable member for Barker would remain silent, instead of rushing in where angels fear to tread, he might come to realize that the value of money is very different now from what it was in 1902, but no marked increase -in the charge for sending a telegram of sixteen words occurred from 1902 until the 30th June, 1949. Therefore, it cannot “be .’argued that the Postal Department has been grasping or avaricious during all those years.
– Who has been responsible for the reduced value of money?
– The honorable member may discuss that with his namesake, the Postmaster-General, who holds strong views on the altered value of money. The honorable member for Wimmera referred to the cost of advertisements in the pink pages in the Melbourne and Mildura telephone directories. On this, as on other matters, he was as furtive as the rabbits he is always talking about. He burrowed through those pink pages in the directories, and at the end of his burrowing assumed that the charges for advertising were made by the Postal Department.
– Under the auspices of the Postal Department.
– They were not made by the Postal Department, nor were they made under the auspices of that department. The advertising rights in the directories have been let to private enterprise as the result of competitive tenders, in accordance with a practice that has been followed for years. The honorable member should now get back to his burrow. This is another example of the enterprise shown by the department in the raising of revenue. The charges for advertisements have not been increased during the last few years by the private enterprise contractors, and T understand that the charges are far from being excessive. It should be remembered that an advertisement in the Melbourne directory appears in more than 200,000 books, which have a life of twelve months - not one day, as in the case of newspapers.
No increase in the charge for advertisements is proposed by the private enterprise contractors. As usual, the honorable member for Wimmera has become confused, and based his remarks on incorrect premises.
The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton) spoke of delays in connexion with trunk-line calls, lt is admitted that trunk-line calls on many routes are subject to appreciable delays during busy periods, but this is being steadily overcome. Australia can pride itself upon the remarkable recovery that it has made since the end of the war. The extraordinary efficiency of both governmental and private enterprise should be the subject of appreciation, not condemnation. In the first two years of the post-war programme more than 1,000 additional trunkline channels have been provided and an even greater number will be made available within the next year.
– And they cover very long distances.
– Yes. The department proposes to install new underground cables between Sydney and Melbourne and to establish many more channels between Sydney and Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra, Canberra and Melbourne, Melbourne and Adelaide and Adelaide and Perth. The Postmaster-General astounded the people of Tasmania during his recent visit to that State when he announced the extraordinarily great number of new cables that would be put into operation there within the next few months. I cannot tell honorable members now how many cables will be installed next year, but full details will be made available when the budget is introduced.
The honorable member for Wimmera, who will not object to me referring again to him because he is always easy to deal with, said that the increased rates would press on primary producers, who would suffer most from the rise. Whilst the honorable member says that the primary producers will be the sufferers, the honorable member for Wentworth says that the small city people will suffer most.
– I said that the working man would suffer. Is not the primary producer a working man?
– The honorable gentleman has never regarded the primary producer as a working man. He might pretend that he does, but that was just another one of the ersatz arguments that he put forward last night. Anyhow, there are not many representatives of working men on the Opposition side of the House. Honorable members opposite represent big business, which includes graziers and wealthy gentlemen like the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). In most country centres telephone rentals will be increased by only 5s. a year. They will still amount to less than the annual charges for depreciation and maintenance Local call fees will rise by only one farthing in country districts, where the average calling rate is less than three daily. That is an intolerable burden, in the opinion of the honorable member for Wimmera !
– I spoke of trunkline rates.
– The honorable member can never anticipate me by more than a split second. The increase of trunkline rates will not be substantial, and a concession rate will still operate after 6 p.m. for a period not exceeded or equalled in any other country. Thus, men on the land who use the trunk-line services in the evening and early morning hours, when they will normally be at home, will enjoy a concession that will not be available, to the ordinary business user in the cities in the day hours. The honorable member for Barker and the honorable member for Maranoa asked about rural automatic exchanges. This subject was also referred to by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Thompson), the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke), and several other honorable gentlemen on this side of the House. Everybody is interested in the establishment of rural automatic exchanges. In my introductory speech, I stated that 51 automatic exchanges had been installed since 1947 and that seventeen are now being installed. Of that number, one-half are located in country districts. I emphasize that the department has on order 650 automatic exchanges, all of which will he installed in country areas. It is hoped that at least 150 of those exchanges will be established during the forthcoming financial year.
– That is good news if it is true.
– It is true, and if material deliveries are good the number will be exceeded. The honorable member for Wimmera asked how many rural automatic exchanges had been provided in Victoria. What he wanted to know, of course, was how many had been installed by this great socialist enterprise in the electorate of Wimmera. In the last two years alone, eight rural automatic exchanges have been constructed in Victoria, yet the programme is only just getting under way. [Extension of time granted.] I thank the House for its courtesy, but I think that I am entitled to answer the arguments that have been advanced and state the facts to the people.
The honorable member for Wentworth referred to the services that are rendered by the Postal Department on behalf of other authorities. The Leader of the Australian Country party also raised the same issue. The burden of their argument was that the Postal Department was not being compensated adequately for its work for other departments. The position is that, in its commercial profit and loss statements, the Postal Department is given full credit for work that it performs for other departments. In arriving at the estimated deficits that have been quoted, appropriate credits have been made in the department’s accounts for special services.
– What about the Treasurer’s statement?
– That is another document. I shall deal with the subject of the carriage of air-mails by Trans-Australia Airlines a little later in my speech. Country services that everybody is interested in maintaining and extending are receiving every consideration. The honorable member for Maranoa complained that the country man was always asked to pay more for everything. That statement is incorrect as far as the Postal Department is concerned, although it may be true when the country man is dealing with private enterprise. Rentals in country areas are below the annual costs of telephone services. Local telephone charges are lower than in the metropolitan areas, and mail services and hours of attendance at telephone exchanges are provided on the basis of public convenience rather than cost. Nobody can rightly say that the department has not done everything possible to provide essential communication services for the man on the land under the most favorable conditions. The honorable member for Maranoa asked that the amount of £100 which is allowed for expenditure on new telephone subscribers’ services in the country should be doubled. That sum is already very liberal, seeing that the base rental which is charged to cover that expenditure will be only £3 10s. under the proposed scale. The amount of £100 does not include the cost of the telephone instrument or the cost of equipment in the exchange. However, the amount allowed for expenditure on country services is constantly under review, and the department will continue to provide services in accordance with a progressive national policy for the development of primary resources.
The honorable gentleman also complained that little had been done to improve postal services in country districts. The facts are that, since the 1st January, 1947, the Postal Department has expended over £650,000 on improved country mail services and that the policy now observed is more liberal than ever before.
– Where is the evidence of it in Queensland? Nothing has been done there.
– If the honorable member will give me specific information, I shall have his complaints investigated in order to ascertain whether anything more can be done in the areas to which he refers and about which perhaps he has more knowledge than have other honorable members. The honorable member for Barker wants better housetohouse letter deliveries in the country.
– I did not say anything of the sort.
– The honorable gentleman said that letter deliveries that were not wanted by local residents had been instituted. That is surprising.
– There is a slight difference between that and the Minister’s statement that the honorable member wanted better house-to-house deliveries.
– The honorable member’s complaint was so much at variance with the general story told by honorable members opposite that .1 may be pardoned for having misinterpreted his complaint at first. The honorable member’s argument is not borne out by the many pressing representations that have been made to the department to extend facilities for mail deliveries. I doubt very much whether this complaint will be supported by any honorable member in this House.
– The Minister has never had any representations from me in favour of additional letter deliveries in country areas at any rate.
– One takes notice only of those who ask for things, not of people who maintain, a stony silence. There is no wholesale provision of country letter deliveries, but account is taken of the volume of mail matter and the number of residents to be served.
Now I come to the piece de resistance raised by the honorable member for Richmond and also mentioned by the Leader of the Australian Country party, who referred to the Trans-Australia Airlines subsidy for mails. The amount paid to TransAustralia Airlines is a responsibility of the Department of Civil Aviation, and variations of the amount do not affect the Postal Department balance-sheets. The department retains a proportion of the special air-mail surcharge to - cover its handling costs and pays the balance to the Department of Civil Aviation, which arranges the air-mail contracts. The attacks that have been made on the Postal Department on this point are very wide of the mark. The honorable member for Richmond has also referred to the desirability of increasing opportunities for temporary employees to become permanent. Numerous opportunities are offered. Since the Labour Government took office, in 1941, many thousands of permanent officers have been recruited from the temporary employees by means of special qualifying examinations and in other ways. It is desired that the Postal Department and all government employing agencies shall have permanent officers who comply with certain, standards of efficiency rather than temporary staffs. The honorable member said,, in passing, that he was once a telegraphist. I hope that he was a good telegraphist. I can say with great truth that the department has never been the same since he left it. The honorable member submitted a somewhat spurious argument about the wages of the staff of the department. He does not favour the proposed increased rates for the services rendered by the department, but he wants wage increases for its staff. Neither the PostmasterGeneral nor the Government determines the salaries or wages of postal employees. These matters are governed by arbitration awards. Wages have been increased substantially since the war ended. As I have already stated, due to arbitration awards and other adjustments, these increases amount to £7,000,000 per annum. How can honorable members who support the honorable member for Richmond pretend that they desire increased wages and salaries for the postal staff, when they oppose increased charges for postal services ?
The honorable member for Barker expressed some concern regarding the increase in the staff of the Postal Department that has taken place since 1939. In 1939, excluding mail contractors and non-official postmasters, there were 34,785 full-time employees. The figure is now 65,032. The turnover of the department has grown from £186,000,000 in 1939 to £400,000,000 in 1949. The increase of staff is not out of harmony with the growth of business. Staffing in the Postal Department is arranged on a sound. basis; new appointments are not made until it is clearly established that additional officers are essential to handle the business offering. The staff figures quoted by the honorable member for Barker were apparently extracted from the reports issued by the Public Service Board.
– That is so.
– The board’s figures do not include mail contractors and nonofficial postmasters. That accounts for the difference. The Leader of the Australian Country party has. made some allegations relating to over-staffing in tho department.
– That is not true. I said that investigations should be undertaken to ensure that there shall be no over-staffing. That is quite a different thing.
– As I have said the staff of the department, exeluding mail contractors and n on.official postmasters, has grown from 34,785 in 1039 to 65,032, including thousands of men engaged on the vastly expanded works programme, in 1949 - an increase of approximately S6 per cent. Postal business, however, has also increased very greatly. For example, the annual turnover rose from £.186,000.000 in 1939 to almost £400,000,000 in 1949, an increase of 115 per cent. That rise constitutes at least a prima facie case for a much greater increase in staff. There is no doubt that staffing is on a sound footing in the department. Scientific bases are used for determining when increases are justified and for relating staff to work volume. Every proposed increase is thoroughly examined, not only by the department, but also by the Public Service Board. No industry or undertaking is, I venture to say, staffed on a more economical basis than is the Postal Department.
The honorable member for Swan referred to telephones installed for the use of starting-price bookmakers. He instanced a case where seventeen telephones are at present being used for starting-price purposes, and aid that the department is unable to withdraw them. The department has no legal power to withdraw such telephone services unless a conviction is secured by the police for a breach of the State gaming laws.
– I mentioned that point in my speech.
– T emphasize that point now for the purposes of the record. The department is co-operating to the utmost possible degree with the police authorities in their efforts to stamp outillegal betting. If convictions are obtained, telephones are withdrawn.
– Only from those occupying registered premises. ‘
– The Leader of the Australian Country party has said that the wireless branch showed a surplus when a previous Government was in control. It is easy to show a surplus when revenue from licence-fees is collected but little is done to develop and expand the broadcasting facilities. The Labour Government has not followed that course. It is extending the broadcasting services in a practical way, with the result that listeners generally now receive a much better deal than they did under previous governments. I am unable to furnish full details of the programme but it includes the provision of additional stations, particularly of regional stations. The programme will be carried out as soon as labour and materials become available. It is expected that the programme will be completed in the course of a year or so.
Finally, I wish to deal with the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Australian Country party. There is no warrant for the appointment of a select committee to inquire into and report upon the Postal Department. The facts are clear and unmistakable. The department is soundly organized and its operations are controlled by men of ability, integrity and great experience, who are supported by a loyal staff imbued with a high spirit of service. Its tariffs, even with the increases now proposed, compare favorably with those of other countries with dense populations which have adequate supplies of materials at their doors and are not faced with the problem of serving a sparse population- over an area of more than 3,000,000 square miles. Therefore,- the Government rejects the amendment.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Mr. Fadden’s amendment) stand part of tha question.
The House divided. (Mk. Deputy Speaker - Mr. j. j. Clark.)
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative
Bill read a second time.
Sitting suspended from 12.53 to 2.11 p.m.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (First Schedule).
Mr. FRANCIS (Moreton) [2.161.-I have indicated by my vote that I am opposed to the proposed increases. However, as the Government insists on proceeding with this measure I ask that out of the increased revenue of £6,000,000 that will be obtained, additional emoluments shall be paid to non-official postmasters, who are doing an extraordinarily good job of work. I hope that the Minister representing the Postmaster-General (Mr. Calwell) will bring this suggestion to the notice of the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) as soon as possible. The non-official postmasters perform many duties beyond what they have to do on their own account. They are not adequately remunerated at present. I know many of the senior officers of the Postal Department, and I have a great regard for their judgment. If the value of their work had been fully appraised in the past the PostalDepartment would not now be facing a deficit of £12,000,000.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Burke). - Strictly speaking, the honorable gentleman is out of order on this call.
– I am happy to have had an opportunity to place my views on this matter before the committee.
– In raising the matter of the remuneration of non-official postmasters the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) has gone as far as he feels it safe to go.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- The Chair has ruled that aspect out of order.
– The increases of charges provided for in this legislation are due, as has already been announced, to cost-of-living increases and the introduction of the 40-hour week. For some reason or other that I cannot understand the honorable member for Moreton has been singularly silent for some time. If he would face the facts he would realize that the increased charges set out in the First Schedule are due to the increased cost of providing postal services to the general public. Additional staff has had to be employed to provide the magnificent service that the Postal Department is giving, and will continue to give in an ever-increasing degree to the people of Australia. The honorable gentleman has emphasized that he voted against the bill. What he is really saying is that he has voted against the increased wages which tribunals have awarded, and also against the 40-hour week.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 (Second Schedule).
Mr. TURNBULL (Wimmera) [2.181. - In proposed new Part I. the increase of the rates for ordinary telegrams from the 1st July are set out. On an average, nineteen words are contained in telegrams in Australia, although in the country districts the average would be approximately fourteen words. Many large words are used in telegrams that originate in the metropolitan areas.
– Does the honorable member suggest that people in Sydney are more long-winded than those in Melbourne?
– Yes, and in Canberra, also. The average number of words contained in telegrams lodged at country post offices is usually fourteen because the countryman has to study economy. I object to the increases of telegram rates. It is also provided that double ordinary rates shall be charged for the transmission of urgent telegrams. That means that the charge for an urgent telegram lodged at a post office for transmission to a destination more than L5 miles away shall be 3s. and an additional 2d. for each word beyond fourteen words. That is entirely unjust because urgent telegrams are only sent when urgent messages have to be communicated. If it is necessary to increase the rate for urgent telegrams I consider that 2s. would be an adequate charge; that would be 6d. more than the ordinary rate. Let us consider why people send urgent telegrams. They are usually sent by people to advise the death of close relatives or friends; they may be sent by a person who wishes to obtain the services of a doctor urgently, and to whom a telephone is not available; or they may be sent by a farmer who wishes to communicate urgently with a veterinary surgeon. Urgent telegrams are also sent by people who are travelling through the country districts and wish to book hotel accommodation; they are also sent to advise of probable time of arrival at a railway station, so that the traveller may be met by friends, when there is no other means available for sending a message. Why should the Postal Department take advantage of people who use the urgent telegram service? When I was at Macarthur in the Wannon electoral division some time ago a gentleman there asked me to send a telegram to a veterinary surgeon with relation to sickness in his cattle. I should like the Minister to explain why there is such a large increase in the rate to be charged for urgent telegrams, and why a charge of 2s. would not be adequate. I consider that the Government should assist people who are forced to rely on the urgent telegram service because of circumstances beyond their control. There is no reason why those people should be selected as a special target by the Postmaster-General.
.- Some time ago consideration was given to the matter of treating the name of a State, containing more than one word, as one word for the purpose of counting the fourteen words in a telegram. Prior to that, New South Wales was regarded as three words, whereas “Victoria and Tasmania were only one word.
– Multiple words in the names of States only count as one word for telegraphic purposes.
.- On behalf of Western Australia, I protest against the proposed increased charges for telegrams.
– I assume that the honorable gentleman is making his protest on behalf of the people who live in the portion of Western Australia that he represents.
– I represent 47 per cent, of the electors of Western Australia. I protest against the proposal to increase the cost of telegrams, and I do so because of the effect that the increases will have on Western Australia generally. Western Australia is not as industrialized as are some of the eastern States. If a person wants, say, a bicycle tyre or inner tube for his child, he orders it from the local storekeeper, who wires to Perth for it. If the article is not available in Perth, the merchant there wires to the east and has it sent to Western Australia by air, and the cost of the article is accordingly increased. As most of the business in Western Australia is done along those lines, I protest against the proposal to increase telegraph charges. Incidentally, telephone charges are also to be increased, so the people of Western Australia will be caught both ways. While I am on my feet, I ask the Minister to inform the committee of the meaning of the words “ Other telegrams, accepted for transmission subject to the prescribed conditions “, in sub-clause 2.
In conclusion, I warn the Minister that it will be useless for him to say now, as. he said during the second-reading debate,, that, honorable members on this side of the House are opposed to the 40-hour week and increases of wages and to circulate that story in preparation for the forthcoming general election.
F2.281. - I assure the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) that persons in New South Wales who send telegrams from places within the State to other places within the State are not treated differently from persons in Victoria who send telegrams to each other about sick cows or other important matters. The words “ New South Wales “ are charged for at the same rate as the one word “ Victoria “. Therefore, there is no need for any one to believe that there is a differentiation between the States.
– “ Port. Adelaide “ counts as one word.
– That is so. As the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr, Thompson) has suggested, the Postal Department exercises a great deal of tolerance and common sense in calculating charges for telegrams.
In reply to the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton), who has conceived the idea that because he represents 47 per cent, of the people of Western Australia he is entitled to speak on behalf of all of them, L point out that while it may be true that in certain respects the people, of Western Australia will be at a disadvantage by reason of the increase of telegraph charges, it is equally true that we sometimes have a buyer’s market and sometimes a seller’s market. I have an idea that the magnates in the eastern States of Australia are chasing business in Western Australia and that the telegrams dealing with Western Australian business originate in the eastern States.
– They are sent mostly on a collect basis.
– I. am not so sure about that.
– I know that that is so, because I have done business that way.
– The merchants apparently pick their marks! The honorable gentleman may know of reasons why in Western Australia, as elsewhere, there is a differentiation in the treatment of one client and another.
– The farther a person’ is away, the more he pays.
– I do not agree with that. The honorable gentleman must rid himself of his: inferiority complex.
Western Australia is as important a part of the Commonwealth as any other part. That State is treated by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department equally as well as any other State. If the present system of postal rates, which has been in existence for a long time, differentiates against Western Australia, it is only a matter of degree. [ do not believe that what the honorable gentleman has said is. correct in any respect, but the Postal Department will take note of it and if there i9 any justification for his contention remedial action will be taken. However, I think he is chasing a chimera by indulging in this line of argument.
With regard to the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) and his sick cow, all I desire to say is that the rate for an urgent telegram has always been double the ordinary rate. Therefore, we are not doing anything remarkable by increasing the rates for urgent telegrams. It is proposed to increase the cost of ordinary telegrams by 6d. Instead of paying ls., the sender of an ordinary telegram will pay ls. 6d. To-day, an urgent telegram costs 2s. and’ to-morrow it will cost 3s. I do not think that there is anything very objectionable in that. To take an extreme case, if a person sends an urgent telegram from one side of the Commonwealth to the other, a distance of over 2,000 miles, he will send it for 3s., whereas in the United States of America he would probably pay 44s. The advantage is all in favour of Australia in a comparison between a socialized enterprise in this country and one run by private enterprise in the United States of America. That is an important fact that I keep hammering into the honorable gentleman’s cranium.
– What happens if the person sends the telegram to a place only 20 miles -away?
– He will pay the same rate. The honorable gentleman has very little of which to complain. He has tried’ to start a civil war by setting the country areas against the cities and claiming that the people of Sydney are more long-winded than the people elsewhere in Australia, but the facts do not support him. A check of the telegrams sent from offices in metropolitan centresthroughout Australia and those sent from country offices throughout Australia shows that the average number of words in each, telegram is approximately the same in each case. Some people in the cities can say what they want to say in a telegram of nineteen words, but I doubt whether the honorable member for Wimmera could express his views adequately in 119 words. An Australian, whether he lives in the country or in the city, will either take many words to say what he wants to say or he will say it very briefly. The average number of words in telegrams sent from both city and country offices is nineteen. The sender of a telegram has a choice between the urgent telegram service and the ordinary telegram service. The ordinary service operates very successfully. An ordinary telegram does not. take very long to reach its destination. There are occasional instances where delay, and perhaps serious- delay, occurs, by mischance, such as the failure of a telegraph messenger to deliver the telegram or some error in- the address made by the sender, but,, by and large, considering the millions of telegrams that are sent in Australia, 1 do not see why it is necessary for anybody to use the urgent telegram service at all. The only urgent telegrams that I receive in Canberra are from foolish people or from persons who want to apply pressure in regard to legislation. The average person, who is economical in his habits, uses the ordinary service. I do not know all the details of the case of the unfortunate cow that was sick in Macarthur, in the electorate of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr: McLeod), but I should imagine that the ordinary service would have sufficed even in that instance.
– I draw the attention of the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) to the fact that people living in remote districts in many parts of Australia have no option but to send urgent telegrams. For instance, I refer to residents of the Northern Territory who are obliged to use the pedal wireless service which is operated by the Australian Inland Mission. An extra charge is made in respect of all telegrams, handled in that way. In view of the good work that is being done by the Australian Inland Mission residents in those areas would not complain about the extra charge if the revenue derived from that source was used to increase the subsidy paid to that organization. Apart altogether from that consideration, however, it is the duty of the National Government to provide telegraphic services in isolated areas without imposing an additional charge upon the people who live in such localities. At present, the extra cost involved in providing those services is borne by them. In view of the special circumstances I urge the Government to amend its policy in that respect, and to relieve those people of that burden.
– The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton) asked for information concerning “ other telegrams, accepted for transmission subject to the prescribed conditions”, referred to in sub-clause 2. That reference is to telegrams other than press telegrams.
I shall ask the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) to give consideration to the suggestion made by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain). Having regard to the vast area and sparse population of the territory, the carriage of mails and the telegraphic and other services rendered by the Postal Department are not payable propositions. A very heavy loss is incurred in the provision of those services, but that loss is carried by the department. . That is a sound principle because wealthy people who live in Sydney and Melbourne should be prepared to contribute in that way towards the development of the Northern Territory, which is part of our northern frontier. I am sure that my colleague will give sympathetic consideration to the honorable member’s suggestion.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Social ServicesConsolidation Bill 1949.
States Grants Bill 1949.
Supply Bill (No. 1) 1949-50.
Supply (Works and Services) Bill (No.1) 1949-50.
Debate resumed from the 20th May (vide page 132), on motion by Mr. Pollard -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This bill, according to its title, provides for the establishment of an Australian Whaling Commission, but, in fact, it provides for a committee composed of three members, of whom the chairman will be appointed for a period of five years on his first appointment and, thereafter, for a specified period, whilst the other two members will be appointed to hold office at the pleasure of the Governor-General. The functions of the commission are set out in clause 15 and its powers are set out in clause 16. Clause 15 reads -
Subject to this Act, the functions of the Commission shall be -
to engage in whaling in Australian waters ; and
as an aid to the economic and stable operation of its whaling activities in Australian waters, to employ, in whaling in the vicinity of any Australian waters, vessels not required for the time being for whaling in Australian waters.
On the 2nd December, 1 946, at Washington, a protocol was signed for the regulation of whaling for the 1947-48 season. The countries which subscribed to that protocol were Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chili, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the Union of South Africa. I shall review briefly the history of the legislation which has led to the introduction of this measure. In 1935, the Lyons Government introduced a measure which was assented to on the 9th December of that year. That measure gave legislative effect to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling which was signed at Geneva on the 24th September, 1931. On the 17th November, 1948, the present Government introduced a bill to amend the act passed in 1935 in order to conform to the decisions of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling which was signed at Washington. The main amendments of that measure dealt with definitions of whales for various purposes. On the 20th May last the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) introduced a hill to provide for the establishment of the industry. That measure provided for the appointment of a commission to carry on whaling activities. It is proposed that the commission shall consist of three members who shall be empowered to carry out whaling operations in Australian waters and, where necessary, to employ vessels not required for the time being for whaling in Australian waters in whaling in the vicinity of Australian waters. The Government proposes to erect and operate a shore station which it hopes will be in operation by June, 1950. It does not intend to consider whaling in Antarctic waters until a later date by which time it will have had an opportunity to conduct inquiries overseas. The last serious attempts to establish the industry in Australia were made in the 1936 and 1937 seasons when two factory ships operating off the Western Australian coast captured over 6,000 whales. In 1942, when there was a lack of whale oil in Australia, the Government directed the Department of Munitions to examine the possibility of establishing a small 3hore station at Twofold Bay, New South Wales. Departmental officers, in collaboration with State officials, representatives of the firm of Nicholas Proprietary Limited, and the Pera no brothers, directors of a whaling organization in Cook Strait, New Zealand, prepared plans for a station near Eden. Preparations were well advanced. At that stage an overseas offer was made to supply the oil and the Government accepted it and the Eden project was abandoned. However, after the failure of the Eden project, a syndicate of Australian business men approached the Department of War Organization of Industry with a proposal involving the expenditure of approximately £1,000,000 to acquire a floating factory and all necessary equipment for the capture of whales and the processing and marketing of whale oil and by-products. The Government did nothing in the matter and the syndicate, finding that its plans had been frustrated, lost interest in the project. In 1946, following international conferences at which Australia was represented, the Government announced that it intended to establish the whaling industry. According to report, pressure that was exerted by the trade unions forced the Government to cancel an order that had been placed in 1946 with a British ship-building firm for a 20,000-ton pelagic whaling factory ship. The unions concerned considered that the ship should be constructed in Australia, although the cost would be £1,000,000 in excess of the cost of building the vessel in Great Britain. On the 9th June, 1947, Cabinet approved proposals for participation by the Commonwealth in the whaling industry, and decided to complete negotiations for the employment of an expert. Captain Melsom, a Norwegian, was engaged, and after eighteen months he advised the Government that he was convinced that the industry had a bright future. He envisaged a factory ship, with chaser vessels to operate at various locations off the Australian coast, and occasionally in the Antarctic. Shorebased stations, involving chaser vessels and processing factories on land, could operate either in addition to a factory ship or as a modified alternative. The Government decided to accept the second proposal, and has refused the offer of a mother ship from the United Kingdom because, as the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) stated on the 9th May last, the price of £2,000.000 was too high to pay for such a vessel at the present stage. In his second-reading speech, the Minister stated -
The Government has introduced the present bill because it feels that Australia should delay no longer in entering the whaling industry.
Earlier, he had said that with the prevailing high prices of whale products, the cost of the enterprise should be recouped within a short period. I hope that when the enterprise is established, according to plan by June, 1950, it will not be shown that the Government has dilly-dallied too long.
Having successfully discouraged an early attempt by private enterprise to enter the whaling industry and having also made known over a period of years its plans to engage in the industry, the Government, as it has done in respect of many other industries, claims that it has no intention of establishing a government monopoly in the whaling industry. As the Minister has power to issue licences for vessels to engage in the whaling industry, it is open to grave doubt whether a government that has shown itself so addicted to socialist restrictions and monopolistic practices as the present Government has done, will allow this opportunity to continue to do so to pass. The Government may deny this contention, as it was announced last February that a licence would be granted to Messrs. Moore and Sons, a Western Australian firm, to begin whaling in Australian waters from a shore base at Point Cloates. But the issue of one licence at the present stage of the development of the industry is scarcely to be accepted as evidence of the Government’s willingness to provide opportunities for private enterprise generally to engage in it.
With the establishment of the whaling industry the Government will have an opportunity to evolve some form of incentive payment for the employees. The work will be arduous and of an uncertain nature, and, therefore, the adoption of a system of special awards i9 warranted. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) wrote in the foreword of a. publication that was recently released by his department -
Wage incentive systems have a place in Australian industry provided the interests nf the worker and the objectives of the trade union movement are safeguarded.
The International Whaling Agreement contains certain wise provisions for the protection of particular species of whales. The agreement defines the seasons when whaling ‘operations may be undertaken, the waters in which whaling may take place, the size of whales that may be caught, and, generally, the methods, gear and apparatus that may be used. Honorable members may be interested to hear a brief account of the history of the Australian whaling industry. In the early days, Australia was the principal whaling country in the world and it is regrettable that we have ignored the industry during the last 50 years. Other countries have not neglected it. For example, in 1936-37, Norwegian-manned American vessels caught 6,000 whales off the Australian coast. The first whaling operations in Australian waters were conducted in 1804, but what I may describe as the golden era of whaling occurred between the years 1830 and 1860. During that period America alone had 7,000 vessels in Australian and Antarctic waters. That figure is a true indication of the great extent of whaling operations in those days. Bay whaling was the fundamental basis of all operations, and Tasmania was the busiest centre. In 1S.41 there were 35 bay whaling stations in that State. Twofold Bay, in New South Wales, was also a famous centre. Tt is interesting to recall that, at Twofold Bay on one occasion, 21 boats belonging to various companies chased one whale.
– When was that?
– In 1840. Eventually, the industry changed over from bay whaling to Antarctic whaling. That began the revival of the industry which, at the turn of the century, was declining. With the advent of Captain Larssen, a famous Norwegian, real efforts were made to exploit the va?t riches of the Antarctic. The development of a harpoon gun and the construction of larger ships enabled those persons who were engaged in the industry to hunt whales in the Antarctic. Thenceforth, whaling was conducted in the Antarctic in a substantial way. The natural result of so much indiscriminate slaughter in bay whaling and Antarctic whaling necessitated the formulation of regulations in order to prevent the whale from becoming extinct! The first action was taken in 1927. when the League of Nations appointed a committee of experts to collect statistics relating to and to investigate the problems of the industry. In 1930 a whaling convention was promulgated. Since then, an endeavour has been made to control the industry, and at present, a wise measure of control- has been instituted.
– By whom?
– By the Interna^tional Whaling Convention. I turn now to the more modern features of the industry. One of the very real problems for Australia is the part that the Japanese are to be allowed to play in whaling. As honorable members are aware, General MacArthur gave permission for the Japanese to conduct whaling operations in the 1946-47 season. This Government sent Mr. Coonan as an observer with the Japanese fleet, and he submitted a. lengthy report about his experiences to the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. Mr. Coonan’s report is not entirely satisfactory to the Japanese. He indicated that the Japanese had committed breaches of international conventions, that he himself was not treated particularly well by the leaders of the expedition, that he considered that the expedition was financed with American capital, and that he was blocked on many occasions from obtaining information that he should rightly have had access to. I believe that we have to take a firmer stand than we have taken on the question of the Japanese re-entering the whaling industry. It is true that this Government and the Governments of Western Australia and Tasmania have protested against Japan’s resumption of whaling; but, unless we take a firmer stand, Japan will encroach to a very great degree upon our natural rights.
I turn to a consideration of the future of whaling. Ninety per cent, of the world’s whales are in the Antarctic. The biggest catch was 46,000 whales in 1938. From 1933 to . 1939, 250,000 whales were caught. In 1948, sixteen whaling fleets wore operating. They were owned by Norway, Great Britain, Holland, Russia, Japan and South Africa. We have an advantage over other countries in that we are close to the Antarctic. That makes for cheaper freight and many other incidental costs. It is intended to set up a shore station in Western Australia, where we hope to make ourselves, in the fairly near future, self-supporting in whale oil. Professor Dakin, Professor of Zoology at the Sydney University, sa id -
One becomes more optimistic when one considers Tasmania as a base for Antarctic whaling.
The Eastern World of August, 1947, contained an interesting article from which the following passage is an extract : -
The whaling grounds lie close to Australia’s southern ports. And Australia has a greater stake in Antarctica than any other country. More than a third of the Antarctic Continent - an area of 2,472,000 square miles - is Australian territory. Australiahas done much exploration and research there and is now preparing another Antarctic expedition for 1947- 1948, to open the way for a larger one in 1948-1949.
The natural base for Australian whaling in the Antarctic is Hobart, Tasmania. Thiscity, with its magnificent harbour, lies in 43 degrees south. It was Hobart that the Norwegian whaling pioneer, Captain Carl Anton Larson, used as his jumping-off place in November, 1923, when he sailed to open up the great whaling grounds of the Ross Sea.
At Hobart, Larsen shippeda number of young Tasmanian seamen. With them went Alan Villiers, Victorian by birth and Tasma nian by adopt ion, who wrote the story of the venture in his Whaling in the Frozen South.
Hobart has a long record as a whaling port of the old harpooning days. A century ago it was the greatest whaling port in the British Em pi re, and took second place, in those days, only to the great whaling ports of the United States. As farback as 1832, a whaling vessel from Hobart, the Venus, is reported as going as far south as 72 degrees in the Ross Sea.
Pending a decision on her claim to a whaling fleet as reparations from Japan, the Commonwealth and States in Australia are planning to revive, with modern methods, the shore-based whaling (bay whaling) which longflourished in Australia. Small vessels winking from such bases as Twofold Bay in New South Wales and Albany or Point Cloates in Western Australia, wouldcapture the whales which migrate up and down the eastern and western coasts of Australia. These whales wouldbe brought into the base for treatment.
The yields and the profits from such stations, dealing mainly with black and humpbacked whales, wouldbe small compared to those securedby float ing factories and chasers working in the Antarctic Seas.
It is worth while noting some of the uses to which the by-products of the whaling industry can be put. An astonishing range of articles can be made from the carcasses of whales. The range includes lubricants, paints, candles, cosmetics, soap, glycerine, chemicals for explosives, tempering ofgun barrels, fertilizer, and brushes. Whale meat canbe eaten. One of the mostimportant medical products derived from whales is, of course, insulin, which is so effective in combating diabetes. Before the war, the average price of whale oil was £15 a ton, but, to-day, the top world price is £137 a ton. So, within the next few years, Australia can expect to reap a great harvest from whaling.
One contentious point of the bill is the provision relating to the control of whaling licences. As I have already indicated, the Government has discouraged one enterprising private company from embarking on whaling. Its proposal was rejected during the war by the Department of War Organization of Industry. I should like to receive from the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture the assurance that, at all times, it will be open for private enterprise, if it can show that it is capable of doing the job, to obtain licences to conduct whaling operations. The Government is to be castigated for having so long delayed entering the whaling industry. I concede that this Government is not entirely responsible, but Australia has unfortunately allowed Japan to get into the whaling industry far ahead of it. My concluding note is that we have an unanswerable case for the re-establishment of whaling with Tasmania as the centre of operations.
[3.11.- I congratulate the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) upon having introduced this bill. The whales will, no doubt, be well content to be caught by socialist methods rather than by the ruthless methods of private enterprise. The Minister has already shown his awareness of the possibility of the revival of whaling at Twofold Bay and has indicated that when a suitable factory ship has been obtained by the Australian Whaling Commission it may well operate off that port. I hope that the commission will not wait until it has obtained a factory ship before it establishes whaling again in the historic port of Twofold Bay. During the war, the Australian Government, in association with Nicholas Proprietary Limited, the Aspro people, contemplated the re-establishment of whaling at Twofold Bay, but the plans did not come to fruition. If the Government again contemplates the establishment of whaling at Eden, I suggest an alternative site for the operations. The site that wa? contemplated during the war was practically in the centre of the town of Eden and there was considerable objection from the townspeople. That is possibly one of the reasons why the plans fell through, A suitable site in Twofold Bay for whaling is Cocora Bay. which is situated 2 miles along the Princes Highway from the town of Eden in the direction of the Victorian border. The bay has all the advantages required for whaling and the area is owned by Eden Canneries Proprietary Limited, which is willing to make it available. It is sheltered from bad weather. The formation of the ground above the water’s edge has been excavated to give two levels for the flenching deck and the handling of offal. A skidway could be built for the taking of the whales from the water’s edge straight up 30 feet on to the first deck, and the oil from the blubber, as it was cut from the carcass, could drain into the settling tanks, and ail oil, offal, meat and other by-products could be quite economically handled. An abundance of water is available. The main road passes within 200 yards of the site. The Bega hydro-electric plant, which is owned and operated by the Bega County Council and which generates power from the waters that flow down the Brown Mountain, could provide all the electric power required. I have discussed with people in Eden the matter of the size of the plant that would be required. Experts tell me that they have seen as many as 25 whales pass Twofold Bay in a day. They suggest that from 100 to 150 whales a season could be handled. I direct the attention of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to a matter of great importance in regard to the establishment of whaling in the seas near Eden. There is already available, at Nimmitabel on the Southern Tablelands, a meatworks which is in perfect condition. It is a very large plant and was built by the use of Commonwealth and State funds and has not operated in the past four years. It would be possible to purchase and use that plant economically for the treatment of whales. The size of the plant suggested as sufficient to handle the number of whales that it is estimated could be caught, would warrant the provision of two chasers. I am told that the kind of chaser required measures 75 feet by 18 feet with a steel hull, and that a number are available for immediate delivery. I understand that they have a low centre of gravity plus the necessary lines under water and are capable of speeds of up to 16 knots. They are singlescrew diesel-powered boats requiring 400 to 500 horse-power direct drive running at 800 to 1,000 revolutions per minute. A small amphibian type of plane is available in the United States for immediate delivery at a cost of about £2.700, according to my information. This kind of plane would be particularly useful for sighting whales along the coast and could also be used for sighting shoals of fish for surface fishing. The amount of time that a plane could save a vessel would be equal to the equivalent of eight vessels operating in the one area. The plane could be kept in the lake at Eden and could land on the Womboyne and Wingham inlets, Twofold Bay, Merimbula and Tuross Lakes. There are many places around the Tuross Lakes that would provide suitable landing places for that kind of plane, and suitable shelter if required. The major problem in the whole organization of whaling is to obtain the kind of employee necessary in a whaling plant. I think that the Government would be well advised to bring a number of suitable people from Norway and to build a small housing settlement where it could establish probably ten or twelve families and then proceed as rapidly as possible with the establishment of the industry. The establishment of the whaling industry, which the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) has said, in a most useful contribution to the debate, is historically situated at Twofold Bay, can be the means of returning a valuable profit to the community.
.- I rise to oppose this measure because I believe that it represents another step by the Government in its plan for socialism. That was admitted in effect in this House some time ago by the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) and the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) who said that they were prepared to go on with the Government’s socialistic plans and that the only things that would not be included were ice-cream carts and rag shops. The whaling industry is a very lucrative one, and until such time as the Government informs the House of any serious attempt to encourage private enterprise to engage in it, I must regard this measure as a further step along the path that is being followed by the Government towards the socialism of industry, production, distribution and exchange. It is admitted by everybody on both sides of the House that very little has been done in Australia about the whaling industry up to date.
– Then why has not private enterprise done something about it?
– The Minister should not rush in with such interjections. I shall quote from the second- read ing speech made by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) when he introduced the measure, lie said -
With the exception of certain private interests which have engaged in whaling activities in a small way at odd points on the Australian coast, no serious attempt baa been made since 19:17.
Let us cast our minds back to what was happening on the other side of the world in 1!)3S. Norway, from which country we were obtaining the labour to carry out whaling projects was very closely situated to Hitler’s Reich. In March, 1938, Hitler started to march into the countries surrounding Germany. Later in the same year the Munich Agreement was signed, and was followed a year later by the outbreak of World War II. So it is quite understandable that no serious activities in connexion with whaling were capable of being undertaken subsequent to 1937.
– I cannot follow that reasoning.
– I am sorry aboutthat, but that is the position. The Norwegians were preparing to fight for their very lives and, as I have said, it is understandable that no great whaling activity was carried out subsequent to 1937. In his second-reading speech, the Minister went on to say -
A valuable resource which should logically be available to our country has therefore been> practically neglected for many years.
I consider that it is unworthy of the Minister to have included such a statement in his speech without at least following it with a definite indication that attempts had either been made or not made to encourage private enterprise’ to engage in the whaling industry. I shall quote other parts of the Minister’s speech to prove that the attention that the Government is giving to the whaling industry arises from the fact that it is a very lucrative industry. The honorable gentleman stated that at a time when whale oil was valued at about £20 a ton the catch off the Western Australian coast returned a revenue of more than £850,000. As the honorable member for Franklin has pointed out, the price of whale oil is now £112 to £120 a ton. Why has not this Government, knowing the position, endeavoured to encourage private enterprise to get on with the job? Instead, it appears to be following the example of the Labour Government in Queensland which established and operated’ abattoirs, butchers shops and other enterprises that later on it could not get rid of quickly enough. [ am definitely opposed to the idea of the Government nationalizing this industry without first exploring every avenue of private enterprise that could be used. Provision could be made to ensure that if private enterprise developed this industry it should not make exorbitant profits out of this natural product, whale oil. It is useless for the Government to state that the industry will be more efficiently carried out if operated by the Government than it would be if run by private enterprice. The Minister said in his speech -
As I mentioned earlier, there has been no real attempt by private enterprise to develop this industry.
If the Minister is prepared’ to make such a statement, why does he not go further and give us evidence that nothing has been done by private enterprise? Until such time as the Government produces such evidence, I shall not be prepared to accept the statement. Later in his speech the Minister said -
I have yet to see any appreciable number of Government enterprises that have proved to be successful. We have government railways and government airways, and we formerly had a government shipping line and are now to have another that, I believe, will be tied up with the exclusion of private enterprise from engaging in the whaling industry. Now we have the Government proposing to establish itself in the whaling industry. The provisions of the bill which refer to the establishment of a commission are almost, word for word, the same as similar provisions in the Shipping Act and other measures. The Government has not given private enterprise an opportunity to engage in the whaling industry. Private enterprise might he willing to engage in it if it was assured that the Government would not hog-tie it with regulations. The Government should give private enterprise such an opportunity, and keep out of the industry itself, because we have seen only too clearly the mistakes that have been made by governments that have engaged’ in this kind of enterprise. I should like the Minister to indicate also whether the Government is permitted under the Constitution to engage in activities that will eventually arise from the operation of this measure. The Government intends to capture whales and then to treat the catch. What does it intend to do with the whale oil so produced? The oil will have to be sold to processing firms for the manufacture of various commodities. I am not sure that the Commonwealth has power under the Constitution to engage in trade of that kind. Yesterday, when it was suggested that a certain commodity should be imported in order to save the community from hardship, the Prime Minister said that the Commonwealth did not have power to import the commodity from overseas and sell it to the States. If the Commonwealth lacks that power under the Constitution, how can it engage in the whaling industry, in the course of which it must either sell the oil to processing firms, or go one stage further in its programme of socialization, and itself establish factories for the processing of the oil ? We know that, ever since 1921, the Labour party has proclaimed that its policy is to socialize more andmore industries. I am convinced that the life of this Government is limited to a few more months, but it apparently intends to use’ that brief period in order to establish as many socialistic enterprises as possible. I intend to oppose such attempts to the best of my ability. The wording of this bill is in keeping with that of certain other measures, which have been recently passed by the Parliament. For instance, sub-clause 1 of clause 21 is as follows: -
The Commission shall have power to borrow money on overdraft from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia upon the guarantee of the Treasurer.
That is identical with provisions in legislation concerning the Joint Coal Board, the Commonwealth shipping line, and the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme.
– I suppose the honorable member does not object to a similar provision for financing the marketing of wheat ?
– I object to all forms of State enterprise. As for the marketing of wheat, that is supposed to be controlled by the growers, although I admit that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has interfered at every opportunity.
.- It is amazing that the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton), who represents part of a State upon the shores of which it is proposed to establish the whaling industry, should oppose this bill. I should not be surprised if his opposition costs him many votes. I do not care who organizes or runs an Australian whaling industry, provided it is begun as soon as possible. Private enterprise has had an opportunity for many years to get into the industry, but has done nothing. If the Government does not make a start now, it will be too late. The industry will be captured by other countries, which will send their ships down into the waters south of Australia. Therefore, the matter is urgent. The Government has not acted hastily. Captain Melsom, a Norwegian, has been in Australia investigating the matter for the last eighteen months, and it was largely on his advice that the Government decided to engage in the whaling industry. I congratulate the honorable member for Franklin (Mr.
Falkinder) upon his speech. He and I and other representatives of Tasmania have been pressing the Government for a decision on this matter for eighteen months or more, and we have frequently raised the subject on the floor of the House. We had hoped that it would have been possible to engage in pelagic whaling based on Hobart, but the cost of a factory ship would be so great that the idea had to be dropped. It was first hoped to get a ship from Norway, but this could not he done. Inquiries were also made in Japan for the outright purchase of a ship, but no suitable vessel was available. Whaling can be carried on in two ways. We could send a factory ship down into the Antarctic, together with chasers which would capture the whales. The blubber could then be treated on the factory ship. The second method is to operate from a shore base, the chasers bringing their catches back to the base for treatment. It appears that we shall have to be content with the second method. It is proposed to establish one base at Twofold Bay, in New South Wales, and another in Western Australia at a point not yet decided upon. The Government is justified in embarking on this enterprise for four reasons which I shall outline. The first is that no serious attempt has been made by private enterprise to exploit the industry. The second is that the economic advantages which may be expected to flow from the industry are very important. The honorable member for Franklin outlined some of them, and pointed out that, in addition to oil, fertilizers and other commodities could be produced. It is important that the industry should be established in Australia while the present high price of oil, more than £100 a ton, is maintained. The third reason why we should embark on the industry without delay is that otherwise the trade will be captured by other countries. The fourth reason is that this enterprise is in keeping with the Government’s programme of decentralization, and its plans to spread population and industry as widely as possible. The honorable member for Swan has criticized this proposal as another example of the Government’s attempt to socialize an industry. Such, criticism was only to be expected from the honorable member. I challenge the statement made by the honorable member that any member of this House has ever said - I think that he attributed the words to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) - that the Labour Government intends to socialize everything in this country except ragshops and ice-cream carts. I invite the honorable gentleman to produce evidence that such a statement has ever been made by an honorable member on this side of the House. We have had so many of the Opposition’s half-truths in recent months that we shall not allow such a statement to go unchallenged. Other honorable members have said that the Prime Minister has referred to communism in a certain way when they know that the words attributed to the right honorable gentleman were never used by him. It is not now, and it never will be, the policy of this Government to socialize all kinds of activities in the Commonwealth. The Constitution itself prevents the inauguration of a wholesale socialization programme. Government control of the postal, telegraph and telephone services and of other enterprises which have been under socialist control since 1901 has been subjected to attack by honorable members opposite. Now because private companies have failed to develop the whaling industry and the Government has been compelled to undertake its development, honorable members opposite would have the people believe that the Government is doing a dreadful thing. They may call it what they like. The fact remains that the industry must be developed and the sooner it is developed the sooner shall we be able to share in the world’s market for whale oil. Details of arrangements to be made for processing the product of the industry have yet to be worked out. This Government and past governments have, within the limits of the Constitution, developed industries which private enterprise has neglected. This industry provides another example of the fact that progress is not possible without government aid. The honorable member for Franklin has given us some interesting facts relating to the whaling industry in Australia. Hore are a few additional sidelights which may be of interest to honorable members. For over a century Australia has been a centre of the whaling industry. The first whalersto operate off the Western Australian coast were French and American pirates.. They commenced operations early in 1800,. before the first white colony was founded on the west coast. In 1829 a group of enterprising settlers registered two companies, the Fremantle Whaling Company and the Perth Whaling Company, and commenced whaling operations off Bathers Bay and Carnac Island. After eight years of chasing whales all over the southern Indian Ocean, they made their first catch on the 9th June, 1837. In later years whaling stations were established at various points along the west coast, some being successful and others failing. It was ascertained that the best hunting grounds were at Point Cloates on the continental shelf. For the last fifteen years, however, the station established at Point Cloates has been idle and neglected. The ruins of the station are now all that remain. That station was used for only eleven seasons, between 1913 and 1934. The station was originally established by the Norwegian Bay Whaling Company. In order to show how profitable this industry has been in the past, I point out that in the first four seasons of operation hunters of the Norwegian Bay Whaling Company killed about 4,000 whales, valued at £650,000. The catch yielded about 130,000 casks of oil and 1,500 tons of fertilizer, the latter being a very important by-product of the industry. From 1925 to 1928 hunters in that area killed 3,445 whales valued at £562,296. At that time whale oil was valued at only £15 a ton. These figures show the large profits that may be derived from this industry. Professor W. J. Dakin. Professor of Zoology at the University of Sydney, writing in the magazine Walkabout of the 1st September, 1946, had this to say about the possibilities of whaling -
Some indication of the whale hunt will be gleaned from the following figures for 1037-38. In that short summer 44,152 whales were killed in the Antarctic. In addition, during 1937 (chiefly n the winter) 3,242 humpbacks were killed off the coast of Western Australia (the biggest catch ever made there), 2!)8 humpbacks were taken off the Congo, 3,381 whales were taken off the South African coasts, 4.12(1 were caught: off Chile and Peru, and 1,887 were taken off South Georgia.
These figures show the devastating attacks made by the whale hunters. Dealing with the future of Antarctic whaling, Professor Dakin stated -
It is very questionable whether Antarctic whaling can be considered a probable goldmine, in the future, whatever it has been in the past. The cost of preparation is high even for countries where ships ure less costly *nd expenses more reasonable - any delay in starting off an expedition when the short dimmer season arrives would be disastrous. Furthermore, the number of Whales of reasonable size in the Antarctic have been so steadily reduced .that the future conditions remain somewhat problematical at the moment. On the other hand, a starving world has put up new demand for fats, and even for whale meat.
Although existing world conditions may provide a stimulus for the development of whaling in the Antarctic region, as Professor Dakin has pointed out, the future of Antarctic whaling is problematical because of the tremendous onslaught made on whales in that region, ft is obvious that two excellent whaling grounds in New South Wales and Western Australia are awaiting exploitation. Only very minor whaling operations have been carried out from either of those States during the last ten or twelve years, in the later years mainly because of the exigencies of the war. Robin Hutcheon, in an article on Australian whaling which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 7th May last, had this to say in regard to whaling in Western Australia -
The whales start on their long trek from Antarctica as the Australian summer draws to an end, and make their first appearance off King George’s Sound in May. During June and July the whales pass Point Cloates in an almost unending procession.
The whaling grounds off the coasts of New South Wales and Western Australia offer great opportunities for the development of the industry. I have been advised that not many facilities exist around the Tasmanian coast for the development of shore-based whaling. The greatest number of whales seems to appear off the coast of New South Wales and along the Western Australian coast during their trek from the south. I do not know whether or not the technical advice that I have obtained on that point is sound. As the honorable member for Franklin has said, Tasmania has had a remarkably long whaling history. Evidently deepsea whaling off the Tasmanian coast offers greater possibilities than do shorebased operations. We in Australia will have to be content with the industry in Western Australia and at Twofold Bay.
I congratulate the Minister and the Government upon having the enterprise, which is often regarded as being the monopoly of private individuals, to engage in this industry. The honorable member for Franklin has referred to some administrative features of the .proposals that he does not like. This undertaking will be of the same pattern as the Australian National Airlines Commission which has done a magnificent job despite tremendous opposition. If the Government’s whaling enterprise operates as efficiently as its airlines enterprise it will be a great success. It is up to all members of the House to support this bill, because it will be a means of bringing great wealth to Australia.
Mr. ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) T3.371. - This is a bill that deserves s lot of consideration by the House. Like other honorable members, I compliment the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) upon bringing it down. However, neither the Minister nor honorable members opposite have told us exactly why it has been brought down, so my wicked imagination will have to be brought into play again. I admit freely that the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) is quite correct in his assertion that the bill has many features that are common to other measures. I refer, for instance, to the Aluminium Industry Act, which was passed by the Parliament several years ago. I would say that we are just as likely to get oil from this industry in the next five years as we are likely to get aluminium from the aluminium works in Tasman a, which are supposed to have been in operation now for about five years.
– It is on the way.
– So is the day of judgment, but many of us hope that it will be postponed for quite a while. The honorable member for Wilmot knows as much about the nearness of the day of judgment as I do. I was intrigued by the excellent speech that was made by She honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser). I thought that he did himself and his electorate proud this afternoon. There are, however, one or two matters that the honorable gentleman overlooked. One of the great whaling men in the Eden-Monaro electorate was a gentleman by the name of Boyd. I do not think that he was a socialist.
– He was a buccaneer.
– That explains the honorable gentleman’s position here. There is something hereditary about it. At any rate, he did not mention Boydtown, where a bit of whaling used to be done. Either the honorable gentleman forgot that, or he considered that, because Boyd was a member of a legislative council, a tory and a buccaneer, he did not deserve to be mentioned in the debate on a socialist measure of this kind. The honorable gentleman referred to the existence of a meatworks at Nimmitabel, which I gather is some distance from the coast.
– It is on the tablelands.
– A proposal for the establishment of a whaling industry which depends for its success upon a freezing works situated inland is one that is deserving of consideration. In view of the fact that it is not suggested that we should have factory ships, the honorable gentleman did not do his electorate justice. He should have advocated the building of a canal from the sea to Nimmitabel so that the whales could be taken by that means to the freezing works. He did not tell us why he wanted the whales to be treated at Nimmitabel. I suppose that he had in mind, although he did not confide in us, that the Snowy Mountains scheme is to be proceeded with and that a lot of whale oil will be needed to lubricate it before it is finished.
It is customary for honorable members to pay some attention to the claims of their electorates in matters of this kind. My electorate has a pretty hefty coast line, and a very rocky one, too, as you, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, know from experience. I have noticed that some honorable members opposite have not shown any signs of taking part, in this debate. One or two .of them are not in the chamber. I had expected that the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon), who represents Forrest, would have advocated the claims of Bunbury or Albany as ideal whaling stations. The honorable member for Grey (Mr. Russell) is not here. The third best harbour in the world is situated at the end of the Eyre Peninsula, and it is admirably suited for the handling of whales. The honorable member for Wilmot was good enough to tell us of the results of his researches into whaling records so far as Western Australia, is concerned, but he does not need to go as far from Tasmania as that. He need go only to Kangaroo Island. Recently, a 400-galIon cauldron was found on the beach there. It has been said that there is not another one like it on earth. Some one went to the trouble and expense of putting it in a museum. Goodness knows who took it there. It was used for boiling down whales. The whalers used to catch whales off Kangaroo Island, having come all the way there from the United States of America, and to-day one of the inland arms of the sea in Kangaroo Island carries the misleading title of American River. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod) has not shown the slightest anxiety about this matter. By the grace of the Electoral Commission and the representations of the Labour party, Portland and Warrnambool are in the new Wannon division. Perhaps the honorable gentleman will tell me whether Port Fairy is also in it.
– There is no need for me to answer the, honorable gentleman, because he knows everything.
– I am not a socialist. Therefore, I do not know everything. The honorable gentleman has no doubt remained silent because he cannot make up his mind whether he should advocate the advantages of Warrnambool or Portland as a site for a whaling station. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) might have said a word for Port Campbell, but as he is a McDonald I can understand why he has remained silent. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) could make a claim on behalf of his electorate as good as that which has been made for Twofold Bay. Parts of the Gippsland electorate are almost as close to Nimmitabel as is Twofold Bay. Perhaps a flying fox could be used to take the whales over the hills to the slaughter yard and freezing works which would handle the carcasses to the entire satisfaction of every one concerned.
I shall now deal with my own electorate. I think that I am entitled to do so because there has been a fair exhibition of parish pump politics by some honorable members. A new port is just about to be built in the Barker division. If the Government wants to get in on the ground floor, as the refugee did in the income tax department, now is the time for it to have a look at the proposed port of Kingston. When the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) and myself were flying to Mount Gambier the other day, he looked at it from a height of 7,000 feet and said that from the air the site appeared to be an excellent one.
– He should have seen it from only 500 feet.
– I have seen it from the ground, but on the day of which I am speaking we could not get closer to it than 7,000 feet. It is an excellent site. The Government of South Australia proposes to erect a freezing works and a superphosphate works there, and a railway is to be built. If we are to consider this matter on the basis of the claims of our electorates, surely to heaven I am entitled to stress the advantages of the Barker division. With regard to the geographical aspect, the honorable member for Wilmot has announced - I am sure after very serious consideration - that Tasmania is not ideally situated for the handling of whole whales brought in from the sea.
– Perhaps the honorable member for Barker thinks thar a big whale would drag the island away.
– No ; I have a soft spot in my heart for Tasmania. It is a beautiful State. However, if a whaling industry is to be established’, the central position that is occupied by South Australia should make that State the natural choice as the headquarters of the industry throughout the
Commonwealth. I am sure that thu monopoly will never be sufficiently large to warrant more than one large establishment.
The only other matter that I desire to mention is not contained in the bill, although I hasten to add that it should be. I refer to the appointment of a commission to control the whaling industry. The bill does not specify the Minister who will be in charge of the industry. It will not be the Treasurer, because clause 28 provides that the Treasurer, after the receipt of recommendations from the Minister, may determine certain things. I fully expected that the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), from the depths of his ecclesiastical training, would have gone back to original sources regarding whaling, and referred to Jonah. The chairman of the Australian whaling commission will be appointed by the GovernorGeneral. The last time the chairman of an important commission was appointed the position was given to a member of this House in the person of one of the two Frankenstein brothers, the former member for Henty, Mr. Coles. The Jonah of all time in the Australian Labour party is now in trouble, and I fully expect that when the appointment of the chairman of the Australian Whaling Commission is announced, it will be found that the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) is not being thrown out of the Labour party for fun. I fully expect that he will be installedas the chairman of the commission to handle the new socialist monopoly, because he has proved in his private capacity, that if there is one thing that he knows anything about, it is business, whether it happens to conflict with socialist principles or not.
– in reply - I congratulate the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder), who has been the spokesman for the Opposition on this bill, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser), the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) upon their speeches, and, incidentally, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) upon his facetious remarks. The speeches that have been made in this debate have been most helpful and complimentary to the Government. Honorable members are unanimous in considering that an opportunity for exploiting our whaling resources should not be ignored. Of course, differences of opinion exist about the locations of whaling stations and whaling fields. The Government regards the support that has been given to this bill as most gratifying. Some doubts have been expressed about the efficacy of the preparatory work that has been undertaken by the Government in connexion with this proposed enterprise. I assure the House that those preparatory steps have been taken after considerable research and exploratory work, and after mature consideration.
– Tell me what kind of exploratory work?
– I shall not tell the honorable member anything. He has told me a number of things during the last quarter of an hour, and I am not much wiser after having listened to him. The Government has been criticizedbecause it has decided not to embark on an Antarctic whaling enterprise, or to purchase a mother ship for off-shore whaling work. The reason that has influenced the Government in making that decision ia that an examination of that kind of project in many parts of the world has revealed certain factors which have given rise to serious doubts. One of those factors in relation to a pelagic whaling scheme is that the price of capital ships for that kind of operation is practically prohibitive. Probably a suitable vessel that is properly equipped for an Antarctic expedition would cost £5.000,000.
– That should not deter the Government.
– This Government crutinizes any proposal that involves the expenditure of £5,000,000. It takes good care that it receives full value for the expenditure of the taxpayers’ money. If the Government had embarked upon a whaling project involving a capital expenditure of £5,000,000, honorable members opposite would have accused it of squandering the taxpayers’ money. But when the Government proceeds with due caution, it is told that it should not allow a mere £5,000,000 to deter it. However, 1 shall not allow the interjection by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) to deflect me from my path in reply to this debate. Some honorable members appear to consider that the Government should purchase a mother-ship immediately. However, such a vessel would be exceedingly expensive, and most difficult to obtain. The Government has decided to embark upon this project with caution. We propose to establish a nucleus of skilled and trained staff, and, later, perhaps, when ships become available and labour is more readily obtainable, we may be able to engage in that branch of the whaling industry. For nearly eighteen months, the Government has had the benefit of the services of Captain Melsom, a famous and skilled Norwegian, who has spent most of his life in whaling operations in many parts of the world. Captain Melsom is now in Norway, and he is accompanied by two officers of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, who are making further inquiries in Norway and the United Kingdom about various aspects of the whaling industry. Because of the factors that I have mentioned, we propose to commence this project, first, as a shore-based station in the vicinity of Shark Bay in Western Australia.
No honorable member has suggested that the whaling industry should not be exploited, but some honorable members have urged that private enterprise should be given an opportunity to engage in it. What are the facts? Apart from one request that was made during the war, I do not know of any sound proposal that has been submitted by a company. The promoters seemed to have no ambition other than to attract other people’s money, and although they were without experience* and skill, they would probably have risked it and lost it. Such enterprises would have done substantial injury to a successful whaling project in Australia. I shall examine briefly some of the attempts that have been made in recent years to engage in whaling in Australian waters. At Albany in Western Australia, in 1947, a small group of exservicemen, acting with the best of intentions, decided to catch whales, and set up a whaling station. Against official advice from the fisheries division of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, they obtained some torpedo-recovery launches. In 1947, they caught two whales and last year, four whales. The first whale that they harpooned towed their boat for seventeen hours. That is an example of the way in which private enterprise functions. I do not say that that group of ex-servicemen did not do their best. When they proceeded to treat the whales they recovered, on a average, three tons of oil from each whale. At point Cloates, in Western Australia, the Norwegians who operated many years ago and used methods that are hardly comparable with modern standards, recovered between five and six tons of oil from each whale. With the use of modern methods, between seven and eight tons of oil is recovered from a whale. No government could afford to allow a continuation of the haphazard stabbing at whales without any satisfactory results when the industry may be conducted under skilful direction and proper conditions, and with a sound financial backing. We have not closed our ears completely to the blandishments of private enterprise. A firm in Western Australia, Messrs. Moore and Sons, applied to the Government for a licence to embark on a whaling project off the coast of that State. The firm intended to re-open the old Norwegian station at Point Cloates. The Department of Commerce and Agriculture .and I had considerable doubt about the firm’s prospects of success, but it had made an arrangement with a Norwegian who was an expert, or was alleged to be an expert, in whaling methods. What was probably more important, the firm was a successful engineering enterprise, and it was considered that because of its engineering experience, it would be in a better position than many other firms to restore the whaling station at Point Cloates. The firm has now embarked on that work. Captain Melsom ‘considers that the boats which the firm purchased from the Commonwealth Disposals Commission are unsafe and not altogether satisfactory, but notwithstanding that, a licence has been issued, and the firm is at work.
– The doubts arose only because of the factors mentioned by Captain Melsom.
– Yes; the firm is now busy at work. If the shore-based station should prove successful and our experience of the whaling industry should prove satisfactory, we shall later consider the advisability of purchasing a mother ship. If the second phase of the enterprise should prove successful, the Government will closely examine the possibility of engaging in whaling in the Antarctic. However, we must proceed with care, because the highly experienced nationals of a number of countries are already operating in that region. We must also consider the limitations that have been imposed upon the total catch of whales. It would be a most hazardous proposition if the Commonwealth were to spend millions of pounds on purchasing a ship and despatching an expedition to the Antarctic to compete with the nationals of countries who have engaged in whaling for generations. My motto in this matter is, “ One step enough for me “. At the same time, the Government will not overlook the possibility of a continuing shortage of whale oil throughout the world. It realizes that, in peace and war, Australia must have adequate supplies of that valuable product.
Although the majority of the speeches on this bill have been of a high standard and most informative, the parish pump has also been at work. The. honorable member for Barker introduced it when he suggested that a whaling station should be established in South Australia, or at Warrnambool or Portland, in Victoria. In this matter, I am what the honorable member would call a “ clean-skin because I live inland and have no interest whatever, other than the national interest, in the whaling industry. I have no personal or electoral interest in the choice of any particular port, and, therefore. I am able to view the matter impersonally The honorable member has urged the construction of a whaling station in South Australia, or at Warrnambool or Portland, for the purpose of treating humpback whales. The honorable member’s suggestion is not practical, because scientists have discovered that humpback whales, which are found in the waters off the eastern and western coasts of Australia, are apparently of a distinct type.
– What type?
– People like the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) would give any one the “hump”. The hump-back whales travel from north to south and vice versa, but they do not travel from east to west.
– Why does not the Government introduce legislation to compel them to travel from east to west?
– The honorable member for Henty also has the “hump”.I do not intend to stone-wall this bill. I am gratified that honorable members have shown a keen and intelligent interest in it. One honorable member, who represents a Western Australian electorate, has voiced some carping criticism; but ho cannot avoid taking a narrow-minded view even of a project that will make a substantial contribution to the economy of his State. When I was in Western Australia not long ago, one of the major complaints of poultry-farmers was that they could not obtain proteins for their birds. By the establishment of the whaling industry on the coast of Western Australia we shall have a prolific source of meat meal for poultry and of the vitamins obtainable from whale oil that are also essential for poultry. Another very important aspect of the establishment of the whaling industry on the coast of Western Australia is that of defence. In all its projects, the Government has the defence of Australia in mind. The coast of Western Australia is sparsely settled. When the whaling station is established on the far north-west coast, it will be operated by first-class seafarers, whom we propose to bring from Norway. When they have been happily settled, they will provide an additional defence for Western Australia. This project is one of many that will bring additional settlers to Western Australia to provide more security for the State. I thank the honorable member for Franklin for his interest in the whaling industry and his suggestion about the need for the provision of incentive payments to workers in it. There is a long history of the payment of incentive money in the whaling industry. It is almost certain that the Australian Whaling Commission will apply the traditional policy. The
Labour movement is not irrevocably opposed to incentive payments. Incentive payments are made in the shearing industry and the coal industry. There is no objection to incentive payments if satisfactory safeguards are provided for the workers. The honorable gentleman’s suggestion will be carefully examined. He said, too, that he had heard that the Government would neither build in Australia nor import from abroad a factory ship because of some opposition from a certain trade union. I do not know of any opposition by any trade union to either the building or the buying by the Government of a factory ship. With our shipyards fully engaged in the building of cargo ships and warships, it is impossible for us at the moment to build a factory ship.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In committee :
.The International Whaling Agreement provides that the signatory nations may grant licences to their own nationals to engage in whaling. Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) give an undertaking that licences to engage in whaling will be granted to every person who places before the Government a practicable proposition in support of their applications for licences?
. - I am not prepared to give an undertaking that would hind the Government in that way. The merits of every application for a whaling licence will be considered. The answer will be either “ Yea “ or “ Nay “. The answer to applications for licences to conduct whaling operations off the coast of Western Australia will probably be “Nay”, if the Government goes in for whaling in a substantial way. If two interests were operating, one governmental and one a private, they would probably clash and the prospects of success for both or either might vanish overnight. I assure the honorable member that every application for a licence will be closely examined.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 24th June (vide page 1500), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill is one of the extraordinary series of the free medicine flop. The series began in 1943, and is still to be continued. The spate of legislation on this subject indicates that the Government is using a steam-hammer to crack its nut. If the Government really desires to give free medicine, it can do so in five minutes, by. making an agreement with the chemists, which will not involve nationalization of the medical profession but which could make possible the supply to public immediately of the drugs that the Government thinks it ought to have. The method by which it could be done would be by letting the chemist stamp prescriptions for those medicines which are in the formulary that the Government desires to supply, and by paying the chemist for such medicines. No matter what other system is invoked, the chemist must ultimately scrutinize every prescription to see whether the ingredients prescribed come within the formulary, and whether the dosage of the medicine in that prescription complies with the Government’s regulations. If the method involved the chemist in extra clerical work, the Government could compensate him. lt would be able to do so from the money that it would save by the reduction of overhead costs on each prescription as the number of prescriptions increased. Because of the very small number of prescriptions now being made up under the free medicine scheme, it. is said that every prescription costs the Government well over 6.=. Action along the lines I have suggested would save all the endless argument that has been going on for practically six years. It would also eliminate all the antagonism of the doctors. The Government would thereby get back to the position from which it could envisage real progress in a national health scheme which, in the last analysis, is dependent on the willing and enthusiastic co-operation of doctors.
The bill is amazing. It is not necessary. The Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) said, in March, 1949, that the provisions of the bill could be covered by regulations. In his speech, when he moved the second reading of the bill in the Senate, the Minister again admitted that its purpose could be achieved by regulations. For some reason, however, the Government proposes an act of Parliament to achieve its desire.
I shall later examine the possible reasons actuating the Government. It is necessary to find out why the Government, which does everything else that it can by regulation, has introduced this bill. The bill consists practically of two operative clauses. The first repeals section 7a (1) of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act of March, 1949; and the second immediately re-enacts that section and adds section 7a (2). Before dealing with the passible reasons for the Government’s action, I direct attention to the following statement, in the Minister’s speech : -
In such , a case the patient will, of course, pay the cost of the prescription to the chemist who dispenses it.
The bill says nothing about the patient paying for the prescription. Thus, in this free medicine scheme, according to the Minister’s statement, this clause is meant to make it a “ not-free “ medicine scheme. However, there is nothing in the bill to suggest that the patient will pay, so that although this bill is produced for the ostensible reason of saving new regulations, still further regulations will be needed to settle this point. As a Minister,I have bad tragic experiences with legislation. Often we put on to the statutebook legislation that we thought was water-tight, but we found, when it was challenged in the High Court, and when the lawyers got to work on it, that it could not do anything that was not expressly stated within its terms as being within its scope. This makes the whole scheme “ curiouser and curiouser “, to quote from “ Alice in Wonderland “. We have the bill, the regulations and the formulary under which, in special circumstances, a patient can obtain medicine for nothing from a chemist. For this privilege he will have paid his social service tax of ls. 6d. in the £1. Under the reduced rates which will come into affect on the 1st July, this tax will equal the following amounts on the following actual incomes: - £250 a year, £9; £300 a year, £13; £400 a year, £23 £500 a year, £37 5s. I now ask honorable members to contrast the Government’s formulary with the British Pharmacopoeia and the Australian medical formulary-
– Order! The right honorable gentleman’s remarks are well away from the subject of the bill. He must confine his remarks to the bill, which relates to medical practitioners.
– The bill deals with the matter of prescriptions being written in a certain way. As T have stated, a man on £500 a year will pay £37 5s. in social service tax. If he now belongs to a lodge such a man pays only 3d. a week for prescriptions that are based on the British Pharmacopoeia and the Australia-New Zealand Pharmaceutical Boole. Threepence a week is equal to 13s. a year, or one-twentieth of what a man earning £6 a week pays in social service tax. The great, bulk of lodge patients are in the income groups [ have mentioned. As all the electors are not .fools, it is the realization of this discrepancy, first of all in the greater opportunities of obtaining medicine and. secondly, in the lower cost, that makes the Government’s gr,heme of very little interest to the 2,000,000 voters in these income groups. Under this measure the position will apparently be that it will not be competent for the doctors of this country to prescribe on a government prescription form as wide a range qf drugs as they can prescribe for a lodge patient who pays 13s. a year. The bill also provides that if a doctor prescribed a drug in the formulary on his own prescription form, instead of on the govern ment form, he is liable to a fine of £50. Could anything more stupid than that be imagined ? That is why the people are not interested in the Government’* scheme.
– How much would a lodge patient pay for an injection of penicillin?
– I understand from the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows in Sydney that that friendly society has made arrangements for chemists to provide penicillin.
– But not for 13s. a year.
– What justification is there for the Government’s policy of imposing a savage penalty of £50 on the lodge doctor who prescribes a lifesaving drug under his contract? The only exception, apparently, is when the patient asks for it. 1 ask honorable members to think for a moment of the stupid position that would be created bv this provision. What will happen when a man who’ is really sick goes to see a doctor? He may be delirious and the doctor may have to tell him that he has phthisis or some other very serious complaint. That would be a tremendous body blow for a patient. Would such a patient like the doctor to ask him whether he wanted a government prescription that might’ do him no good or whether he wanted the doctor to write a prescription that would do him good, on the doctor’s own prescription form? Imagine a doctor having to discuss such a matter with such a patient. Let us take an everyday case. A doctor may be called out to a man who has had a stroke or a bad accident. Before he gives him a shot of morphia must he wake the patient up, rub his ear and ask him, “Do you want me to write a prescription on my own form or the Government’s form ? “ This bill has obviously been drawn up by some one who has never been sick in his life. If the Government had any sort of sympathy at all the measure would not have been introduced into this Parliament. It is a scandal that the people should be made a kind of political pawn. The Government is using this scheme to win votes, but it will not succeed in doing so. The people of this country are awake to what is behind the scheme. The Government could provide free medicine for the people to-morrow if it chose to do so and if the parties at present in Opposition get into power at the next general election they will give the public free medicine. The absence at this stage of the honorable member for Denison (Dr. Gaha), who is the only doctor on the Government side, is very significant. I have not the slightest doubt that for months that honorable member has told the. Labour party what he thinks, as a medical man, of this scheme. He surely has indicated again and again how stupid, silly and cruel it is. Every doctor who has ever thought about this matter thinks exactly as I do and agrees with what I have said about the scheme. I am sure that the honorable member for Denison thinks that the scheme is so stupid that he does not intend to stand f«r election to the Parliament at the next general election. The Minister in his replies to statements that have been made to the effect that the formulary does not include several important drugs, were not in existence when the formulary was first published. As soon as he said that, doctors throughout the country gave instances of cases that had come under their own observation. Dr. O’Reilly, a well-known Sydney specialist in allergy diseases, pointed out that several very important drugs for the treatment of allergies had been omitted from the formulary, although they had been in general use for a number of years. Some of them had come into use in 1938, others in 1941, and others in 1943.
What sort of measure is this that intends that doctors are to be fined for prescribing life-giving drugs? Honorable members have only to cast their minds back to the marvellous progress of modern pharmacy, to appreciate how sulpha drugs were discovered and produced an extraordinary revolution in the treatment of septic diseases, and how penicillin was discovered and saved lives during the war. The progress of medicine is so rapid that the British Pharmacopoeia is re garded as five years out of date by the time it is published, and this formulary is already about ten or fifteen years out of date. I should like to point out that the doctors made a very reasonable proposition to the Government. They said that they were willing to have prescription form’s of their own printed in such a way that they would be practically uniform in style and could be easily examined by the authorities. They also said that they were willing to establish supervisory committees’ to keep discipline in the matter of prescribing drugs and to deal with any unscrupulous actions that might be damaging to the Government’s finances or to the patient himself. This brings us to the real nub of the matter. Any one with any reason at all must realize that the only way in which a worth-while and progressively improving medical’ and health service can be obtained is through a willing and enthusiastic medical profession. The aim of the Government seems to be to fix medical treatment and the care of the national and individual health at ifr present static point, or even at a lower point, bv imposing Public Service control. The test of any national health scheme should be its ability to improve the health of the individual patient and of the nation. Doctors have always endeavoured to achieve a continuously progressive higher standard of treatment all the time. This will not be achieved by the bill. We know how difficult it is to stir a governmental agency to action. Will fining a doctor for not using a government prescription form, as is provided in the bill, or the forcing of patients to pay for medicines prescribed on the doctors’ own forms, improve the health of the community? Experience shows that such procedure will not improve, but will depreciate the health of the community. A doctor who is treating a patient does not desire to, and should not have to, discuss the question of what form he will write his prescription on. or whether the patient wants to pay for a particular drug. That is not the way to develop a national health system.
– Order ! We are not now discussing a national health service bill.
– We are discussing the question of prescriptions. Surely we are entitled to discuss the question of prescribing compound medicines and other safety medicines for which the Government will pay if the doctor writes his prescription on a government form, or for which the patient will otherwise pay. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) was Premier of the State of New South Wales and he could tell the House that State authorities can administer health matters much better than the Commonwealth can, because they are nearer to the people. In fact we would get a better health service than will be provided by this measure if local governments were to manage the service. If we examine the position in the States that have been conducting medical services for many years we shall find that, whatever political party happens to be in power, the policy does not change. The building of hospitals and the establishment of clinics and pre-maternity centres continues, because it is the traditional policy. The present Government knows nothing about health, which is why this Parliament is now considering a most contentious method of administering a health service. It is certain that, instead of having a good and continuing health policy we shall have under this measure, a most .unsatisfactory one which will be reversed as soon as there is a change of government. The same electors who elect the members of State Parliaments elect the members of this Parliament. The States have developed a traditional system of dealing with health, and surely the electors want us to adopt the same system. Surely they do not want us to pass a contentious measure like this that will engender bitterness that will last for years and will do no good at all. That is why I say that what we should do is to lay this measure aside, and get right down to the things that really matter, such as the provision of hospital beds.
– Order! I do not desire to have to remind the right honorable gentleman again that we are discussing the writing of prescriptions, which has nothing to do with hospital beds or anything else of that nature.
– If there are no hospital beds there will be few people left to use the Government’s drugs, because all will be dead. The question of where the p’atient is treated has everything to do with this matter, and if honorable members will examine the bill themselves they will see-
– Order! The bill deals with the writing of prescript. ons by medical practitioners.
– Surely a man must have a hospital bed if he is to be treated and properly cured. Surely the provision of hospital beds is part and parcel of a national health scheme. If I am permitted to do so, I say that the right thing to do is to repeal this legislation and adopt other legislation and if I am not in order in doing so I shall move an amendment to the bill. It is possible for the Commonwealth to achieve results in some directions. When the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) was Minister for the Army, he was responsible for the erection of hospitals equipped with 4,000 beds. I suggest that the Government should provide 10,000 or 15,000 hospital beds, and then there would be less need for writing out prescriptions. I urge the Government to co-operate with the doctors, and drop these penal provisions. Those who are accustomed to treating sick people know that they cannot be dealt with by compulsion. They must be cajoled. The Government must surely have some reason for introducing this bill, but no adequate reason has yet been stated. Why is the unfortunate patient to be made a sort of anvil upon which to knock out the brains of the doctors? Why should a sick person he pestered by asking him whether he wants to get his medicine free? The Government is attempting to put economic pressure on the sick in order to force the doctors to accept a national medical scheme. Even if such a scheme were forced upon, the doctors, they could sabotage it by refusing to co-operate.
– Is the right honorable member suggesting that they would sabotage a national medical scheme?
– No, because their standard of honour is too high, but they will not work under such a scheme. There is a difference between the doctors, and other members of the community who have gone on strike. Although the doctors disagree with the Government over its medical proposals, they go on treating their patients because they have a sense of honour, and a pride in their profession. Men who behave in that way are entitled to consideration, and the Government should consider them instead of treating them like blackguards, and trying to dragoon them in the manner of a Prussian drill sergeant. Again, I ask, why is the Government bringing in this bill, which one of its Ministers in the Senate has said is unnecessary? He admitted that the matter could be dealt with by regulation. Does the Government want to embody proposals in an act so that, if it is defeated at the next election for the House of Representatives, but still retains the majority in the Senate, another government will be unable to repeal the legislation? Perhaps this would be a good issue upon which to have a double dissolution. Is that the motive behind the Government’s action, or is it actuated by sadistic motives? Is its attitude towards members of the medical profession something like this : “ You are only doctors. You are not concerned with ordinary events; you are concerned only with treating sick people “ ? The Canadian Government has dealt with this same problem in a satisfactory manner. The British Government tried to force the doctors into a certain course of action and its whole medical scheme is falling to pieces. This legislation is of the same provocative order as that under which doctors may be fined £50 for writing prescriptions on other than government forms. “What virtue is there in a government prescription form? Does it make the drugs any more potent? The National Health Service Act provides that the Government may make regulations prescribing all matters which are by the act required or permitted to be prescribed or which are necessary or convenient to be prescribed, for carrying out or giving effect to the act. Surely that is a suffi- ciently wide charter. What reason is there, then, for this bill? Has it been introduced so that the Government can put into operation its national medical scheme without again approaching the Parliament? Is it an attempt to make valid certain legislation already enacted so that it can sustain a challenge in the High Court? Is it one more attempt to rivet the chains of nationalization of the doctors? If so, I am convinced that it will fail of its purpose.
– The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) asked why this bill had been introduced. I can supply him with two reasons from my own experience since the Parliament adjourned in March last. I know of a very sick man who has had to have a cylinder of oxygen beside him so that he may inhale some of the gas should he be threatened with collapse. When I visited him, he discussed with me some of the speeches’ that have been made in this House on the Government’s medical schemes. The right honorable member for Cowper said just now that the free medicine scheme was of no use to lodge members. This man is a member of a lodge, but the medicine he needs is not among those which he, as a lodge member, may obtain free of cost. He had .a small book in which he kept a record, for taxation purposes, of his expenditure on medicine. He showed it to me, and 3aid, “ Here is a record of what I have had to pay out for medicine. I should like to show it to some of those who say that no one wants the free medicine scheme “. The medicine that he had been buying was in the government formulary, but he could not get it without paying for it. Now for the second reason. Recently, I attended a meeting, and another man, who arrived late, apologized for his lateness, saying that he had been all day trying to obtain attention for his sick baby. The doctor who was attending the child told him to get two injections of the. penicillin type, which would cost £2 6s. When he returned with the medicine, he asked the doctor whether he would have been able to get the medicine free had the doctor prescribed on the required form. The doctor replied, “ Yes, it is in the formulary, hut you have had to pay £2 6s. because we doctors will not work under the Government’s scheme “. The position is even more serious than that. The doctor could have prescribed in that case one of the sulpha drugs that would have cost only a few pence, but there was a slight risk that it would not have proved effective, and the child might have died. He said to the father : “ I know that you can pay £2 6s. for the medicine, and so I sent you to get it. Unfortunately, when we know that the person concerned is very poor, we prescribe one of the sulpha drugs instead of penicillin, sometimes with unfortunate results “. Those are not the words of some outsider. That is what was said by the doctor who was treating the sick child. The father asked the doctor why, in that case, he refused to use the prescribed form, and the doctor replied: “When you condemn the doctors, you should remember that all the doctors are not against the Government’s scheme, but you are a trade unionist, and you stick to what your union decides. We, as doctors, stick to what our union decides “. It is provided in the bill that if the patient elects to pay for his medicine, the doctor may write the prescription on his ordinary prescription form. I get a bit hot under the collar when I hear honorable members say that lodge members, by paying 13s. a year, can get all the benefits that are obtainable under the Government’s free medicine scheme. To-day, doctors prescribe the latest and best drugs. Everybody wants sick people to have the benefit of the best drugs obtainable. We know, however, that under the agreement with the friendly societies, only those drugs are supplied free that are in the British Pharmacopoeia. For all other drugs the lodge member must pay. I do not condemn the doctors for this. I support them for prescribing the best drugs for their patients, but there are poor people who cannot afford to pay for the best drugs. Recently, a close relative of mine contracted pneumonia, and her doctor prescribed penicillin injections. The doctor told her a few weeks later that had she been taken ill eighteen months earlier he would not have been able to do anything to save her. The development of new serums and specifies has altered the whole concept of medicinal treatment. The old medicines listed in the British Pharmacopoeia are not used to-day to anything like the degree to which they were used years ago. A medical practitioner who is abreast of the latest developments in his profession knows that he must prescribe the new specifics and drugs which modern science has devised for the treatment of disease. It is the desire of the Government that these medicines shall be made available to every person in the community who needs them.
– If that is so, why was not a provision to that effect inserted in the legislation?
– That is the purpose of the legislation. There are many very poor people in the community to-day who, because of sickness and resultant unemployment, are unable to retain their membership of lodges and friendly societies. All honorable members know of people who, during the depression years, were forced by economic circumstances to withdraw from friendly societies because they could not afford to pay their dues. Many of our friendly societies retained them on their books for years, but they could not do so indefinitely. Many people in the poorest of circumstances refused to accept benefits for which they could not afford to pay the fixed dues, because they did not want charity. When their circumstances subsequently improved they were too old to rejoin. Most friendly societies impose an age limit for new members of from 40 to 45 years. Very few accept new members over the age of 45 years, and then only after the applicant has successfully passed a severe medical examination. Sick people who are unable to join friendly societies are dependent on the free medicine scheme. Only too often we are approached by men who say, “My wife receives an invalid pension. She is sick and needs expensive drugs. How do I obtain free medicine for her? I cannot afford to meet the high cost for the drugs which have been prescribed for her “. To such men I have invariably replied, “ Your wife can obtain treatment at a public hospital if she desires it”. They then reply, “I cannot take my wife to a public hospital for treatment. She is too ill to attend the outpatients’ department, and the hospital authorities will not keep her in hospital because they do not regard her illness as one requiring hospital treatment “. We have done our part to .make free medicine available to the people. All we ask is that medical practitioners should write out their prescriptions on the prescribed form and so enable their patients to obtain free medicine. I make no bones about my stand on this matter. I hope that when this measure is passed medical practitioners will be forced to write their prescriptions on the forms provided by the Government, and thus enable their patients to enjoy the benefits of free medicine. If they break the law by not doing so, they should take the consequences. The right honorable member for Cowper, in a rambling speech, wandered completely away from the subject-matter of this bill. When he was called to order, he told Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker that if he could not make his speech in his own way he would propose an amendment couched in language that would permit him to cover the whole field of medical benefits. I do not intend to follow the bad example set by the right honorable gentleman, because this subject has already been thoroughly discussed. T support this bill. The issues involved in it are quite plain. When the bill is translated into law medical practitioners will be ‘Compelled to observe its provisions or, if they refuse to do so, they will have to take the consequences. It is not unlikely that the validity of this legislation will ibc tasted in the High Court. I should welcome such a contest, because it would place the matter beyond doubt. If the High Court upheld the authority of the Parliament to enact this legislation I should be able to say to those who come to me for advice on the subject, “You are entitled to free medicine and you will get it “. On the other hand, if the legislation is successfully challenged, I should at least be able to say to those who seek my advice, “ To extend to you the benefits of free medicine is beyond the constitutional powers of the. Government “. I remind those honorable members who constantly refer to the limitations imposed by the Constitution on the powers of this Parliament, that it is possible that some persons may challenge in the courts the action at present being taken by members of the medical profession in an attempt to prevent this scheme from being implemented. In this legislation we say to the members of the medical profession, in effect, “ You must use the Government formulary unless the patient otherwise desires “. I greatly regret that the scheme was not in full operation six months ago. Some time ago I asked the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) how soon we could expect finality in this matter so that we should be able to tell the people whether or not they could demand the benefit which the Government desired to extend to them. The friendly societies are in a difficult position because they do not know what will be the outcome of the attempt being made by the medical profession to wreck this scheme. The right honorable member for Cowper has referred to the arrangements being made by the Manchester United Independent Order of Oddfellows to supply newly-discovered serums and drugs to its members. It is of no use for friendly societies to make such arrangements if, at some later date, action may be taken to prevent effect being given to their plan. Many of the South Australian friendly societies made arrangements through their dispensaries for the supply to their members of drugs which were not listed in the British Pharmacopoeia, but unfortunately the action which has been taken by doctors to circumscribe the activities of the dispensaries has forced them to abandon these arrangements. Friendly societies will be glad when finality is reached in this matter. I agree that honorable members opposite have the same rights as I,have to express an opinion on this subject. I do not object to them voicing their own opinions in regard to it. After all,’ that is their job. But when they say that the friendly societies do not want free medicine, that sick people do not want it, and that we are forcing something on the community which the people generally do not want, I do not propose to allow their statements to go unchallenged. I know of my own knowledge that the people generally regard free medicine as a great boon. This measure does not propose to alter the original act except to a very minor degree. The intention of the original act was to make free medicine available to the people. The purpose of the measure now before us is to ensure that such medicine shall he freely made available. I trust that as soon as this bill is passed action will be taken by the Government to enforce the decision of the Parliament and to ensure that the people will be given benefits of free medicine without delay.
.- I can state very briefly my objections to this bill. I do not desire to re-canvass the facts presented and the arguments advanced by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). In the first place, whilst I favour the provision of social services, extending to medical treatment and to medical benefits, I believe that the money which will be expended on the scheme which the bill now before us is intended to enforce could much better be utilized on the provision of diagnostic treatment, X-ray, and pathological clinics and the like. I do not believe that this bill will confer any great benefit on the people. On the contrary, I am satisfied that behind this legislation is an attempt to bring all the people of this country within the ambit of very rigid control from Canberra. I cannot imagine that that would ultimately be of benefit to the people. I believe that modern public hospitals, of the type of the modern repatriation hospitals, which I am glad to say were planned and commenced during the period when I was Minister for the Army, can best attend to (he medical needs of the people. Legislation of the type now before us will do much to increase the number of neurotics in the community, and plays into the hands of unscrupulous people. If the money to be expended on this scheme were devoted to the purposes I have mentioned, greater success would be gained in tackling the ravages of disease. What is this bill designed to achieve? T describe it, and I shall seek to establish my description of it, as a wicked and cowardly measure. I describe it in those words advisedly, for the bill is designed to deal, not with patients, but with doctors, although it throws upon the patient the burden of determining whether or not treatment prescribed for him shall be within or outside of the formulary. That is a responsibility which the patient is absolutely unqualified to discharge. I assume that the Government docs not contend that the average medical man does not treat his patient in accordance with what he believes to be in the best interests of the patient. Although there may be black sheep in the medical profession, as there are in every other walk of life, it must be said of members of the medical profession generally that they observe a very high standard of conduct. A great deal of their efforts is devoted both directly and indirectly to charitable treatment of poor patients. I support the thesis that the medical man’s approach to his patient is based on a desire to give him the best treatment which can be provided for his malady. If Canberra is all-wise, it may be that that treatment can be found in the formulary. From my experience of governments, however, I cannot imagine that it will be found that the Government is always right, and that whatever may be the malady or the condition of the patient, treatment for his complaint can be found in the formulary. That leads to the fundamental proposition that, at least in some cases, for a doctor to treat his patient properly and restore him to health it will be necessary for him to go outside the formulary. Upon whom is the burden to be cast in these circumstances? I have said that this is a wicked measure. It is wicked ‘because, if this proposition is correct, it means that in at least those instances in which an individual can be properly treated only by resorting to uncompound’ed medicines not found in the formulary, the burden rests on the patient to decide whether or not his prescription will be written on the prescribed form. If it is not wicked, it is fantastic. The right honorable member for Cowper said enough to establish that. How can a person whose mind is not functioning normally, because of his sickness, exercise the option that will be given to him under this measure ? If he does not exercise the option, his doctor will be exposed to a risk. If a doctor prescribes outside the formulary for a person who is entitled to receive pharmaceutical benefits, by virtue of the proposed new section 7. (1) he will, although he has followed the path of duty, render himself liable to a pecuniary penalty. In some instances - for the purposes of my argument, it does not matter how many - the treatment of a patient may necessitate the use of a drug outside the Commonwealth formulary. In those cases it will not be for the medical man to decide whether it is proper to go outside the formulary but it will be for the patient to do so, though as I have been at some pains to point out, he is hopelessly unqualified to make the decision.
The measure is designed, as I think the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Thompson) made clear towards the end of his speech, to put pressure on the doctors. The Government, having said that it will enforce the operation of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, proposes to put pressure on the doctors by the cowardly expedient of compelling patients in turn to put pressure on the doctors in matters affecting their health and lives. If the use of the words “wicked and cowardly “ in relation to this bill is not justified, I should like to know to what they could be more aptly applied. It is common knowledge that the purpose of this legislation is to enforce something that the doctors have resisted. I leave aside for the moment the question whether or not there is merit in their resistance, but it is common knowledge that they have contended, rightly or wrongly, that this measure will work against the interests of the patients. I should have thought that there was some merit in their contention, since it has the support of an overwhelming majority of the members of the medical profession.
– Rubbish !
– I have no doubt whatever that the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard), whose ability on every subject is known far and wide throughout the Commonwealth, considers that his view should be accepted in preference to that of the majority of the medical men. I have taken the trouble to inform, ill V mind on this subject by associating with medical practitioners in many parts of this country. There are but few of them who do not rest in principle on the proposition that to compel the medical profession to observe a formulary laid down in Canberra will not only ultimately destroy the very life and spontaneity of the profession, but also, and this is much more serious, it will result in patients being worse served. They base their objections upon the grounds, first, that it would he against the interests of the patient, and secondly, that it would ultimately result in the socialization of the medical profession, which, as we all know, is the aim of this Government, although it has not the courage to say so.
– The Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) has said so.
– That is true. We all know that the real purpose of this legislation is, by means other than outright socialization, to impose pressure upon the doctors. If it is proper that the formulary should be observed in all cases, the Government should be prepared to put the issue to the test as between itself and the doctors without interposing the patients. If, on the other hand, it is improper to confine doctors to the Commonwealth formulary in all cases, it is fantastic and cruel that a person should bc deprived of free medicine unless he makes the choice that is conferred upon him by this measure - a choice which, as I have said, he has not the capacity to make.
– Can thu honorable gentleman say whether there was a formulary under Mie national insurance scheme of the Casey-Menzies Government?
– There was, but that legislation was not of this type. That is the whole point.
– - Oh !
– “ Oh ! “ says the Minister for Repatriation, waving his hammy hands in front of him. The fact is that we are not concerned merely with the formulary, but with the principle of whether we should force upon patients, within the iron limits laid down by Canberra, a formulary affecting the health of all the people. I have alleged, speaking with a full sense of my responsibility, that thi? measure is a wicked one.
– Speaking with a brief for the medical profession.
– That is a disgraceful remark. Because a member of this House, who is a lawyer, expresses his opposition to a bill, it is said that he has a brief in the matter. If the Minister wishes to convey that I am speaking now for a fee, I should be glad if he would say so.
– I used the word “ brief “. not “ fee “.
– I am here with a brief for the people. I want my arguments to be answered by arguments and not by cheap sneers. It is quite clear that this bill represents an attempt to dragoon the medical profession into adjusting itself to the socialistic schemes of the Government by forcing patients to bring pressure to bear upon doctors. I want an answer to this question. Does the Government contend that all patients oan. in all circumstances, be treated efficiently within the limits of the Commonwealth formulary? That is a simple question that can be answered with a “Yes” or a “No”. I am referring to cases that admit of treatment by drugs. If the answer that is given to my question is “ Yes “, we shall know that the Government is claiming that it is all-wise and that it will not allow the members of the medical profession to exercise an independent judgment. If, however, the Government concedes, as I believe it will be compelled to do, that the answer to my question must be in the negative, it will have admitted that in some cases - the number may be great or small - patients ought to be treated, not within the limits of the government formulary but outside of them. In such cases, who is to make the decision? Is it to be made by the doctor, who is qualified to make it, or by the patient, who is not qualified to make it.
Let lue read the proposed new section 7a to make it. quite clear that my argument is sound. Proposed new section 7a (1) reads as follows: -
Subject to this section, u medical practitioner shall not write, in respect of a person entitled to receive pharmaceutical benefits a prescription for . . otherwise than on a prescription form supplied by the Commonwealth for the purposes of this Act.
I have left out some words that I am sure the Minister will agree do not affect my argument. There is a general prohibition. It is provided that, irrespective of a person’s complaint or condition and no matter whether it can or cannot be treated inside the limits of the Government formulary, if that person is entitled to receive pharmaceutical benefits and the doctor uses a prescription form other than one supplied by the Government, the doctor will be liable to a penalty. The Government has courageously included a proviso to that provision which reads as follows : -
The last preceding sub-section shall not apply -
in any case in which the person in respect of whom, or at whose request, the prescription is written requests the medical practitioner not to write the prescription on a prescription form supplied by the Commonwealth for the purposes of this Act.
I think I have established my argument, ff all wisdom in the treatment of disease does not repose in Canberra, then an individual who ought to be treated with drugs outside the formulary has to make a decision at a time when he is quite incapable of making it. This is what the Government regards as a proper action to give medical services to the people. It is quite obvious that it is seeking to impose upon the credulity of the people and their desire to save money, if they can do so, regardless of whether it will be detrimental to the health of patients to insist that, prescriptions shall be written on a government form. I have described that action as a wicked one, and I believe that I have established that it is so. The Government is seeking to implement previous legislation by forcing ordinary and sick people to make decisions in respect of themselves and their families that they are not qualified to make. That is a cowardly action. Although the Government desires to impose its will upon the doctors, it is not prepared to join issue directly with them but is seeking to interpose somebody else’s body between itself and the medical profession.
.- This measure forms part of the legislation for the implementation of a national health scheme. The success of that scheme depends upon many factors, but mainly upon the availability of a sufficient number of doctors, nurses, hospitals and medicines. Any legislation or governmental action that would increase the number of doctors, nurses or hospitals would he welcomed by the people and the Parliament. The only requisite for a successful national health scheme that, is not scarce is medicine. It could almost be said that there is too much medicine available, that it can be obtained too readily, and that it is being consumed on too large a scale. Despite what has been said by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, there are very few people in the. community who are unable, owing to lack of money, to get the medicine that they need. I do not know what the position is in South Australia, but I know that that is so in Victoria.
– lt shows that the honorable gentleman does not know much.
– I shall be interested to hear the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) give his version of the matter later. There are some persons, such as those who are suffering from diabetes, who need to take drugs regularly. There is nothing to prevent the Government, if it wished to do so, from making drugs available to those persons free of charge. There is nothing to prevent the Government from saying to the doctors that if they compile a list of the drugs that they wish to prescribe, it will pay the bills for them. There is nothing to prevent the Government from doing that, but it has not done so because it docs not fit into the pattern of its scheme. The Government has done nothing to alleviate the shortage of doctors, nurses and hospitals. Indeed, since it came into power the difficulty of obtaining medical attention has increased. This Government has adopted a policy of prescribing the charges that hospitals shall be permitted to make, and as a direct result of that, many hospitals have been forced to close. The gloomy fact is that-
– Order ! The honorable member is not entitled to continue his argument along those lines. The bill deals merely with the right of a patient not to accept free medicine.
– The Government has not done anything about other aspects of the national health scheme, but has concentrated on free medicine, because it has had great hopes of a widespread public response to the idea that every one is to receive a free medical service. “ The national health scheme “ and “ a free medical service “ became catch-cries. When we examine the matter closely, we find that only medicines of a certain kind can be provided free of charge. The doctors, on professional grounds which they have made clear to the public, oppose the formulary, and advance very cogent reasons why they do not desire to work under this plan. They see in the imposition of this plan, the thin end of the wedge to nationalize the complete health services of the country. They foresee the abolition of the relationship between doctor and patient in the introduction of the Government formulary, which must be used by a doctor whenever he writes his prescription. They see, as they have said, and as the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) has admitted, that the ultimate aim of this kind of legislation is to regiment medical practitioners under a. department of semi-medical, semiadministrative officials in Canberra who will lay down the medical policy and practice of the profession. The Government’s policy must ultimately lead to that raid, and the public must realize that fact. The doctors say that they see the end of the privacy between doctor and patient regarding diseases. Obviously, the introduction of forms on which prescriptions and descriptions of treatment must be written will inevitably result in the relation between doctor and patient becoming. not a private, but a government matter. It is most curious that the doctors who, after all, occupy a very honoured position in this community, and rightly so, are to he compelled, by fairly harsh and heavy penalties, against their better judgment, to co-operate in this scheme. I find it particularly contemptible, for the reason that was advanced by the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) in an interjection. The Minister said, in effect, “ We have shown firmness with the coal-miners, and we shall show firmness with the doctors “. Where is the parallel between the position of the coalminers to-day and the position of the doctors ?
– Both are breaking the law.
– The doctors are not, breaking the law.
– There are ways and ways of breaking the law. The coalminers are not only breaking the law, but are also holding the whole country to ransom. They are reducing the standard of living, and are bringing to us the greatest misery. The doctors object, as they are entitled to do, to legislation which, they say, will operate against the best interests of this country; but they also say that they will still do. their daily work. There is no question of the doctors going on strike. To take the parallel a little further, I refer to the interjection by the Minister for Repatriation that both coal-miners and doctors are breaking the law. The miners are certainly breaking the law, but what penalties have been enforced against them or their Communist leaders?
– I submit there is a parallel to be shown. A doctor who does not comply with this law is liable to a penalty of £50.
– Yes. I should like to know whether that penalty will be enforced. I invite the Minister to answer that question, but I dare say-
– Order ! I remind the honorable member that all interjections are disorderly.
– I dare say that the Minister will reply to this effect, “ Of course the Government will enforce the penalty “. In that event, why does not the Government enforce penalties against other sections of the community who break the law? Of course, there is one significant difference between the coalminers and the doctors. After all, the doctors are a law-abiding section of the community, and they have a high regard for the welfare of the people. They are the section who, whatever this idiotic Government may do, will continue to perform their duties to the best of their ability, and the Government knows it perfectly well. But the doctors are not numerous, and, therefore, the Government is very bold in threatening them with this legislation. The Government says, “ Come into line at once, or we will bang down on you, not as an association of medical practitioners, but as individuals, to the tune of £50 every time you break the law “. The coal-miners are more numerous than the doctors, and the miners’ federation is a more powerful organization that the British Medical Association is. The miners’ federation is completely without scruple, and is prepared to do anything to this community in order to get its way. The Government treats the miners with the utmost respect, and a couple of days ago we witnessed the contemptible spectacle of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) declaring that history showed that public opinion seldom supported prosecutions against those who broke the industrial law. If that he the position, why is not the same principle applied to the doctors, who, it is claimed, are also breaking the law? These penal clauses are against the best interests of this country, and, furthermore, they are only designed to enforce a piece of government legislation which, in itself, is wrong, evil and stupid, and1 for which there is not the slightest demand in the country at the present time. This bill has been introduced because the Government cannot expand, in a broad sense, its national health scheme, and, therefore, it desires to develop the least and’ most insignificant aspect of it. I oppose the bill.
.- My views about the Government’s national medical scheme as a whole are well known. I have always considered, in company with other honorable members of the Opposition, that the pharmaceutical benefits scheme in itself is premature. The general public has not wanted it, and the scheme has certainly not been asked for by chemists, and least of all by the doctors. I liken the free medicine scheme to the action of a builder who would look for means to place the final decorations on a house before the foundations have been laid. A free medicine scheme should not be introduced until the whole of the national medical scheme has been established and is functioning. Those are my views, and I have no desire to elaborate them now, because they have been thoroughly discussed by previous speakers on this side of the chamber.
I have risen for the purpose of directing attention to a matter that I raised in a question some weeks ago in relation to the position of chemists in country districts. There are a number of chemists in small country towns who, like the doctors, have not the slightest desire to work under the Government’s scheme. So far as I am aware, the Government does not intend to coerce them in any way. I have asked’ the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway), who represents the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) in this chamber, to inform me of the Government’s intentions if the chemists in small country towns do not subscribe to the scheme. What will be the position if the only chemist in a village refuses to provide the free medicine? Before the Minister formulated his reply to my question I believe that he conferred with the Minister for Health. He has informed me that if a chemist is not prepared to supply free medicines under the Government’s scheme, it would be only natural for the doctor to dispense the prescription. The Minister added that even now, many doctors in country districts are dispensing their own prescriptions. That reply is all very well, but. T can name a small village in my electorate in which neither the doctor nor the chemist desires to work under the Government’s scheme. The doctor will not write prescriptions on the government form, and the chemist will not dispense a prescription that is written on the government form.
– Then the situation envisaged in the honorable member’s inquiry could not arise.
– The reply that the Minister has given will not have any practical effect.
– Neither does the honorable member’s question.
– That is not so. The person about whom I am most concerned is the patient. In the circumstances that I have described the doctor will not be able to dispense a prescription and the patient will not be able to obtain free medicine from the chemist.
– That position has been met. . The act provides that arrangements may be made, in the circumstances which the honorable member has described, whereby the doctor will prescribe and dispense the medicine.
– The position is not clear under the act. The doctors will be forced to work under the Government’s scheme, unless the patient is unwilling to accept free medicine. I hope that the Minister will clarify the position, because the circumstances which I have described apply in not one or ten, but in a comparatively large number of villages throughout the country.
– in reply - I do not propose to discuss the merits of the Government’s general health scheme or the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act, because those subjects are not relevant to the bill now under consideration. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Act is now the law of the land. However, during the debate on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Bill, the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) made a promise, probably as the result of criticism by honorable members on both sides of the chamber, that he would amend the provision that made it compulsory for people to accept free medicine.
Honorable members had asked, “Why should a person who desires to pay for having prescriptions dispensed be compelled to accept free medicine?”, and the Minister promised to meet that objection by promulgating a regulation, under which it would be left to a patient to decide whether he desired to have free medicine, or pay for it. A doctor would be permitted to write his prescription on his own note-paper provided the patient agreed to pay for the medicine. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) have asked me to explain why the Government has introduced this bill when the provision in the act, to which exception ad been taken, has been amended by regulation. Both honorable members endeavoured to make a comedy out of the position, but the answer is simple. The Government’s legal officers have suggested that the amending regulation may not be valid, and in order to obviate any legal risk, they have suggested that the Government should amend the act in the manner in which this bill does. That is the simple answer to a simple question, and that, in short, is the purpose of the bill.
– It is all very innocent.
– The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has in mind the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act, which is now Commonwealth law.
– This bill does a very small thing, of course!
– Order ! The honorable member for Richmond must not interject.
– T do not blame some honorable members for endeavouring to make political propaganda out of this bill, but they are not being fair when they take advantage of this simple measure to discuss in general terms the Government’s national health scheme. I make it clear that the Government advocates a national scheme of medical service. It believes that the health of the people should have first call on the public purse. We do not favour the continuance of the practice whereby charitable organizations rattle collection boxes in the streets in an endeavour to gain financial support for hospitals and similar institutions. The
Government stands for a national scheme of medical service. That is its aim.
– A complete scheme of nationalized medical service.
– The Government has defined its position several times in its manifestoes. The right honorable member for Cowper became so heated that he lost his bedside manner when he made hia second-reading speech. I should not like him to attend any friend of mine if he were in such an excited condition as he was this afternoon, particularly if he was about to perform an operation.
– It depends on the operation.
– And on the patient.
– Well, I should not like him to operate on me. Honorable members opposite get hot under the collar whenever the Government’s national health scheme is under discussion, and they repeat the speeches that they invariably make on these occasions. As I have explained, this legislation has been introduced to resolve a legal doubt. There was some doubt whether regulations mad? under the principal act to achieve the purpose sought by this bill would he valid, and it was decided that it was better to try to achieve the purpose by legislation. The right honorable member became excited and made some unf air statements about the social services contribution. Other honorable members opposite did likewise. Any one who listened to them and who did not know the scope of the Government’s social services would have been led to believe that the social services contribution was collected for no more than the mere purpose of providing free medicine for the community. They tried to make it appear that people were paying, on an average, two or three times as much in social services contributions which, as I have said, they tried to imply were collected to offset the cost of the free medicine scheme only, than they would normally pay for medicine. That is a ridiculous way in which to put the matter. Out of the National Welfare Fund, into which social services contributions are paid, the Government provides age and invalid pensions, child endowment, unemployment benefits, sickness benefits and some other social services in addition to pharmaceutical benefits. To use an expression that was often used by the honorable member for Warringah in his speech on this measure, it is a wicked statement to say that people’s social services contributions just go to pay for pharmaceutical benefits. The honorable member for Flinders is most interested in social services. As a member of the Social Security Committee, he did good work. He supports most of what the Government has done in providing social services. But even he can be unfair. Recently, he asked what would happen in a small country town in which there were only one medical practitioner and only one pharmaceutical chemist and the chemist did not want to play ball but the doctor did. He wanted to know how the Government would get over that difficulty. The answer that I gave him was that the doctor would prescribe and also dispense whatever medicines had to be prescribed and dispensed and that he would be paid for both services. To-day, he asked what would happen if neither the doctor nor the chemist wanted to play ball. The answer to that queston is that the patient of the doctor would be in exactly the same position as he is in to-day. If the doctor did not want to prescribe on the government form, the chemist would not come into the matter, because a chemist cannot fill non-existent prescriptions. The British Medical Association is responsible for the fact that the people of Australia are being deprived of the pharmaceutical benefits for which they are paying in their social services contributions. I do not propose to go deeply into the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. I do not think that I should be in order if I did so, because the bill contains only one provision, which is that patients of medical practitioners shall have the right, if they desire to exercise it, of having medicine prescribed for them on doctors’ own prescription forms instead of on the Commonwealth forms. That provision will meet the needs of people who are either so biased against the Government or so foolish that they do not want to take advantage of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. Without the amendments provided for in the bill, a doctor who prescribed on his own private prescription form for such a patient would be guilty of an offence under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act and liable, upon prosecution and conviction, to the penalty of a fine of £50. I agree that it would be unfair to render a medical practitioner in such circumstances liable to that penalty if he obliged some one who was so fanatically obsessed with a distaste for the pharmaceutical benefits scheme that he preferred to pay for his medicine than get it for nothing
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I desire to say very few words on clause 3 of the bill which contains the vital provision in it. I do so because it is very necessary, I think, for the satisfaction of the minds of honorable members that a question about it should be answered. It was, I think, an open secret at all times that the provision of the proposed new section 7a, which will be enacted by clause 3, was designed to get over a possible legal difficulty. I offer no comment about that, except that it was perfectly clear from the beginning that the new provision was needed and that something had to be done to alter the existing law so as to create the illusion, at any rate, that there is no compulsion on doctors other than that provided in the proposed new section. But there is a most curious form of compulsion on the patient. I do hope that the Minister in charge of the bill (Mr. Holloway) will see fit to meet my criticism. Proposed new section 7a (1) provides -
Subject to this section a medical practitioner shall not write, in respect of a person entitled to receive pharmaceutical benefits, a prescription form . . .
otherwise than on a prescription form supplied by the Commonwealth for the purposes of this Act.
The words are only slightly different from the words of section 7 of the principal act, which is to be repealed. The effect of the provision is that the Government says, “ Medical practitioners are compelled to write prescriptions on the forms provided for that purpose by the Commonwealth, and, if they do not, they will be penalized “. But a new provision is contained in sub-section 2 of the proposed new section. I put it into ordinary words when I say that it provides that the previous provision shall not apply to any case in which the patient requests the doctor not to write a prescription on the form supplied by the Commonwealth for the purposes of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act. Any prudent medical man desiring to have the benefit of the exception would need that request to be made in writing, not by word of mouth. He might otherwise have to call his patient as a witness. So he will get the request in writing. He will have to have a supply of forms worded like “ I request you not to write my prescription on the government form “ to be signed by patients who wish to make that request. There is no other sensible way in which a doctor could get the benefit of the exception and so avoid the possibility of a fine of £50. It has been submitted repeatedly by critics of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme that the persons for whom prescriptions are written are, in very many cases, in an indifferent state of health. Not all prescriptions are written by doctors for people who reach the doctors’ surgeries under their own steam and are able to sit down and engage in conversation with the doctors. The prescriptions for many patients are written by medical men who visit the patients in their own homes. Sometimes the patients are very ill. It is the most picturesque idea - I use the word “ picturesque “ although I can think of uglier but more apt words - that I have ever heard that a doctor, having examined a patient in a desperate state of health, should then have to explain, as best he can, to the patient that it is necessary for him, if he does not desire free medicine, to fill in and sign a document requesting that the prescription be written, not on the government prescription form, but on the doctor’s own prescription form.
– That is too silly for words.
– I entirely agree with the Minister that that is too silly for words. I could not agree with the Minister more heartily than I do. During the second-reading debate a colleague of mine described the situation as wicked. I content myself with saying that it is preposterous. Is there any real answer, except the answer that I suspect that we shall have, to the effect that, “ It is only a little matter and it is put in because the lawyers, those queer people, who invent difficulties or solve them, have said, ‘ If you put this in, it will be a howling success and will enable you to win in the High Court’”. If that is why the provision is proposed, let the Government say so; but, if it is supposed that the provision will give free medicine, in the real sense, to the community, let the Government tell us how that will be achieved.
– I wish to make some comments on proposed new section 7a (2), which provides that the provisions of proposed new section 7a (1), which prescribe that a medical practitioner who writes a prescription otherwise than on a printed form supplied’ by the Commonwealth for the purposes of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act, shall be guilty of an offence for which the penalty, on conviction, is £50, shall not apply -
The “such other cases or circumstances “ are not stated in detail in the bill, but I understand that one of the cases or circumstances in which the prescription form supplied by the Commonwealth will not need to be used will be when a medical practitioner has to write a prescription to meet an emergency and has not with him a prescription form supplied by the Commonwealth. A medical practitioner who writes a prescription in such a circumstance on other than a prescription form supplied by the Commonwealth will, within a certain period, have to rewrite the prescription on the prescribed form. I have heard from a pharmaceutical chemist, who, from the beginning, wholeheartedly supported the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, now has a strong objection to the use of the Commonwealth form, because, as he points out, at present, many chemists are losing heavily because of it. His objection has been the subject of correspondence between him and the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna), copies of which 1. have with me. He points out in the following terms how he has lost : -
We find it difficult to obtain from the doctor (according to the rules) prescriptions on government forms that have either been phoned or written on ordinary prescriptions, forwarded within the prescribed 24 hours, and on going through our file we find that some of these prescriptions date back to December, that is November accounts. The loss on these prescriptions amounts to- about £30.
That is in one pharmacy. Then he talks about the formulary itself before getting back to the subject of the Commonwealth prescription form. The Minister replied to his letter as follows: -
The regulations require that the doctor must indicate that he wishes to prescribe a benefit; that upon the request of the chemist the doctor must furnish within two days, a prescription on the official form. If the doctor fails to do so, the chemist should report the matter, giving full details, to the Senior Commonwealth Medical Officer, who will take whatever action ls necessary. A chemist who has complied with the regulations will suffer no loss.
That chemist shows that he is put in. the position of having to be a police officer laying a charge against a doctor who has failed to attend to the’ details set forth in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act and has thereby rendered himself liable to a penalty. This particular chemist takes very strong exception to that particular point, as I do. I believe that it is probable that this matter has escaped the attention of the Minister, but it certainly should be examined and rectified. If we are to have sections of the community each of which is liable to report regarding the misconduct of another person, under any law, then we shall gradually develop a state of society that closely resembles the police state. We must guard against that in any circumstances. If I am in order in doing so, Mr. Deputy Chairman, I shall speak further on other points that have been raised by this chemist. If any of my remarks are out of order, I trust that you will inform me of the fact. The chemist said regarding the formulary -
During December payment was disallowed for ten units of penicillin of 500,000 each, because according to the book of rules a patient is only allowed 500,000 units a day, and thu has meant a lews to us of some £8 to £0.
Frequently we have a chronic certificate that allows 21 days for repents to be made, and often in these cases we have to refuse repeats because the time has expired, and frequently we have prescriptions presented one or two days overdue’, and then again according to the book of rules we are not allowed to dispense them.
At present we have a case in this town of a child needing special Insulin P. but under regulations this cannot be prescribed although the parent is on a living wage.
The man concerned earns only the living wage, as I know, because I discussed the case with the chemist. The letter continues -
Modern, drugs like Benadrys, anthasin, tha tri sulpha group,. &c, are not included in formulary.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN” (Mr. Burke). - The honorable mem her cannot be permitted to discuss the formulary or the dosage.
– Very well, sir, I shall not proceed with that. When I rose to speak I had not carefully examined the1 clause and I agree that 1 may be out of order. But I desire to point out to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) that I am passing on to him criticism from a man who has been a keen supporter of free medicine, but who has now become extremely hostile to the whole situation. I consider that the following comment by the chemist, merits the Minister’s attention : -
In passing may I draw your attention te the fact that the “hook of rules” with regulations and penalties makes every chemist a thief and robber before he starts work.
In conclusion I desire to point out to the Minister that this clause will make of every chemist, if he tries to protect his own interests, an informer against any doctor who infringes the regulations, and I take very strong exception to that.
– Although the remarks by the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) were not confined to the scope of the bill, I shall see that her criticism, which appears to he fairly strong, is placed before the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) and perhaps he will find some way of dealing with it.
– Suppose the Minister does not agree?
– A lot has been said this afternoon regarding the formulary. Let me say that the basis of this formulary was quite good enough for all the armed services during the last war.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order 1 The Chair will not allow a discussion on these lines. It stopped the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) from continuing a discussion on those lines.
– Will the Chair allow me then to say that I shall draw the Minister’s attention to her remarks)
– Her remarks require an answer.
– I should not be able to give her an answer because the subject is both legal and technical. The suggestion by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) that because of this measure a doctor would not take risks that might be necessary to save the life of a person in desperate straits, is foolish. Any member of the British Medical Association would deal with a patient in those circumstances.
– By breaking the law.
– Of course! Anybody would break the law to save a life.
– -Will the Minister put that in writing?
– I do not believe that it is possible for such a situation to arise. I have more faith in the medical men who drafted this formulary than to believe that. It is provided in the principal act that the British Medical Association may appoint men to sit on the formulary committee and on every committee appointed to deal with any section of the act. Provision is made for medical men to be nominated by the British Medical Association itself. Who else could do the job except members of the medical profession? Nobody would suggest that anybody else could do it. The Leader of the Opposition spoke of the whole scheme being run from Canberra. It is impossible for that to be so. The only reason why the scheme is not in operation now is because of the boycott by the British Medical Association.
– The Minister should withdraw the word “ boycott “.
– I tried to find th» mildest word possible to describe the action of the British Medical Association. The right honorable gentleman expressed some doubt about whether the regulations made under the act would be valid or not. He know* very well that the legal representative* on the Government side have done exactly the same as he would have done if he were on this side of the House, to make it as certain as possible that the regulations would be valid. The advice that the Government’s legal representatives gave it was to include these provisions in the act.
– I appreciated that point perfectly.
– Any medical man, or anybody who has had any connexion with clinics or other medical institutions, knows that there are cases in which people do not want the public to know what they are suffering from. A loophole must be left in the legislation because of that fear. I have no doubt that the men who will conduct this scheme when it comes into full fruition-
– Where is the loophole in this legislation?
-I know that people are afraid that their private affairs will become known under a national health scheme.
– They think so.
– Yes, and they always will think so no matter who is in charge. To get over that difficulty we say that if a patient volunteers to have a prescription written on a private paper because he thinks that that would make his business more private we say, “ Very well, let it be done and there will be no penalty on the doctor “.
– Supposing a patient is so sick that his mind is not capable of functioning properly?
– I should say, putting myself in the position of a doctor as far as I am capable of doing so, that there is no law that would stop any doctor or anybody else from doing the best that he could to save a patient in circumstances like that. He would not think about the law. But I do not believe that such a situation will arise.
– The Government is making a law against something and the Minister is inviting doctors to break it.
– Do not be stupid.
– I have more faith in the judgment of the medical men who arc in charge of this scheme. I do not believe that they would draft a scheme that would produce such a result as honorable members opposite have suggested as likely to arise.
Question put -
That the bill be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr. T. P. Burke.)
Majority . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6.2 to 8 p.m.
Bill received from the Senate and (on motion by Mr. Calwell), read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In conjunction with its recent investigations of broadcasting in the Commonwealth, the Government considered the potentialities of the system of distributing radio programmes to listeners’ premises by means of wire lines, the programmes then being heard through loud-speakers installed specially for the purpose. The Government was prompted to make this examination because of the extent to which such a service was being used in Great Britain and European countries, and it was felt that, if any benefits were to be derived from a similar arrangement in Australia, early steps should be taken to plan its incorporation in the broadcasting structure of the Commonwealth. The investigations made by the Government disclosed that the wire distribution system used in some overseas countries had been developed mainly to overcome technical deficiencies existing in the conventional method of broadcasting, brought about by the inadequate number of wave lengths available and certain local conditions such as the incidence of interference to reception. The system finds its greatest application in centres of concentrated population where the erection of the wire lines, which must be connected to each subscriber’s premises, is facilitated. Conditions in Australia are, however, quite different. Listeners resident in capital cities and other large centres of population, where wire broadcasting systems can be used to the best advantage, have available to them a number of alternative programmes free of any technical disabilities. In the circumstances, the Government has been unable to find any justification for the introduction of alternative means of catering for listeners’ requirements. Notwithstanding its extremely doubtful possibilities, several applications have been received from organizations desirous of inaugurating wire broadcasting services in this country. As a result, some concern has been expressed by radio manufacturers and broadcasters, who feel that such a service, for which no real need has been demonstrated, might have unfortunate effects on the industry generally. As the Government is satisfied that the field of use for a wire broadcasting service in Australia has yet to be determined, there is ample justification for adopting measures which will clarify the position, thus removing the doubts which have been raised and, at the same time, preserving the present situation until further information on the subject has been obtained. Accordingly, this short bill to amend the Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1946 is submitted for the consideration of honorable members. Its purpose is merely to ensure that broadcast programmes are not distributed to listeners’ premises by means of wire lines. It places no limitations whatever on existing services nor does it preclude the possibility of the Postal Department, whose facilities are, in any case, an essential part of a wire distribution system, from conducting such a service should there be any change of circumstances in the future.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 19th May (vide page 93), on motion by Mr.
T hat the bill be now read a second time.
– The Genocide Convention Bill is designed to approve of ratification by Australia of the convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide as adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations at Paris on the 9th December. I do not desire to debate this bill. The rather formidable word “ genocide “ was apparently brought into use at the time of the Nuremburg trials, and is defined in the convention as meaning -
The article then goes on to define the actions that may be taken in line with such an objective. The contracting parties under the convention undertook to enact the necessary legislation to give effect to the provisions of the convention, and in particular to provide effective penalties for persons guilty of genocide, or any of the other acts enumerated in Article III. of the convention. This bill, I understand, is necessary if Australia is to ratify the convention. Subsequently, no doubt, legislation will be put before us to make genocide a crime inside Australia, if that becomes necessary. All I wish to say about the present bill is that in the last ten years, abominations have been practised in this world, and in no place more terribly than in Germany under the Nazi regime. Every member of this Parliament must view with equal horror the practice of mass killing, and of persecution of people to the death, for reasons of race or religion, or for other reasons of the kind referred to in the convention. Of course, the crime of genocide was not peculiar to Germany; I am not without my suspicions, nor are other honorable members, that it is still going on in some parts of the civilized world, and for all I know may be going on in countries, one or more of which are signatories to this convention.
There will be no dispute in this House about the abominable character of the crime of genocide. Every Australian will agree that in respect of those who enter Australia to become citizens of the country, there must never be any blind prejudice based on their race or religion or other circumstance of the kind. We are all at one in saying that when people become citizens of Australia they become part of one people. Persecution of the kind against which the convention is directed must never be tolerated. However, I hasten to say that persecution of that kind has never been tolerated in Australia, and I am perfectly certain that it never will be tolerated here. The natural feelings of mankind have been put into the form of a convention. I must confess at once that I have no faith in conventions. I take leave to doubt whether, if the League of Nations had framed a genocide convention in 1930, theNazis would have refrained from perpetrating the horrors of the concentration camps. The real answer to this kind of crime is to make peoples and governments all round the world civilized peoples and civilized governments. I do not think that we can get rid of evil of this kind by carrying resolutions against it. However, the last thing I should dream of doing would be to speak or vote in such a way as to cast any doubt on the proposition that in Australia we abominate the crime of genocide. Nobody has ever doubted it. If it needs our subscription to a convention to advertise our feeling to the world, then let us subscribe to it.
– I have very little to add to what has been said by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). It is not a question of whether we should tolerate in Australia the atrocious crime of genocide, or whether we should advertise and declare our horror of the crime perpetrated on such a huge scale in Germany. It is a different matter to which the House addresses itself in deciding whether to adopt this convention. Other things which are now denounced as crimes by the whole civilized world - piracy, the slave trade, traffic in women and children - are all things which we abominate. Nevertheless, they prevailed in many parts of the world, and they were only brought under international law by the acceptance of conventions binding on all civilized nations. It is the same with genocide. Some people say that it is enough that at Nuremburg offenders were convicted and sentenced for crimes against humanity. The United Nations has taken the view that we should mark that step by the adoption of a principle which shall apply throughout the whole world. Therefore, Australia should take its place with other nations in condemning this offence. Indeed, it has already taken an active part in doing so. It is true, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, in language on which no one could improve, that we abominate what took place in Germany. We must never forget what took place there. For instance, in an establishment at Birkenau no fewer than 1,765,000 Jews were gassed and killed in order to destroy the Jewish race. In Paris, a monument has been erected to the memory of 197,000 men and women victims in another camp, that at Auschwitz, in Germany. So the horrid tale goes on. Australia will, I believe, ratify the convention, and afterwards this Parliament will pass the necessary legislation to show other countries that we join in the universal condemnation of this horror.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- This measure, which has been put before us at the request of the United Nations, is quite unlikely to achieve any good whatsoever. Much as we all detest the things against which the convention is directed, we cannot ignore the fact that in this country we are extremely unlikely to commit any of those crimes. If there is any virtue in passing a law of this kind, why does not the institution, with which the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) spends so much of his time, devote some of its energy to condemning crimes where they are being committed at the present time? Genocide is being practised now in Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia against the leaders of racial and religious groups. They are being persecuted and put to death, but there is no condemnation of such crimes because it might affect a powerful nation. We wait in vain for condemnation of these crimes to come from the United Nations. I say frankly that I regard this bill as nothing more nor less than a piece of pious humbug. After all, what is war? As we all know, war means an attack by one nation on another nation, and, at the present time, unhappily, on all of the men, women and children who comprise that nation. This mighty organization, the United Nations, has been in labour for a long time and has brought forth nothing more than this miserable pigeon’s egg which we now have before us. A particularly unfortunate application of the principles embodied in this bill is now operating in Germany. I have drawn attention on other occasions to the manner in which the war crimes tribunals have been working. The convention embodied in this bill seems to give power to nations to prosecute serving soldiers of enemy nations for the things they did by the order and with the blessing of their governments in the time of war. It is a degrading and miserable spectacle to see German commanders, who may have done many indecent things under the stress of the moment and with the blessing of their government-
Mr. Beazley interjecting,
– If the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has anything to say on this subject let him express his views when I have concluded my speech. It is a wretched spectacle to see many German generals, now old men, who, during the war, rendered’ good service to their country according to their lights, being subjected to every possible kind of degradation simply because in accordance with the ethics of their profession and acting under instructions from their government they carried out their duties as best they could.
– I have not a great deal to say about this bill. Tt is one of those pious pieces of humbug which the Minister for External Affairs (“Dr. Evatt) so often brings back to this country when be returns from one of his many excursions overseas. The right honorable gentleman knows, as I and other honorable member* know, that genocide is raging in the world to-day just as much as it did during the years when Germany was the paramount nation in the world.
– What rubbish I
– Honorable member, opposite, and in particular the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), say, “ What rubbish ! “ Their friends in the Soviet, they say, do not commit, genocide. We have evidence that they do so.
– Prove it.
– The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), one of the great advocates of the Soviet Union, says, “ Prove it “. I shall prove it by referring to the published experiences of Poles who were taken into Russian prison camp* after the conclusion of the pact between Germany and Russia by Ribbentrop and Molotov, which led to the outbreak of World War II. When the former allies of the Soviet turned round and attacked Germany, many of these men were released from prison camps and lagers in Siberia and other parts of Russia and were incorporated in the Polish legions which fought with the Soviet armies for the destruction of Germany. The accuracy of those accounts has been vouched for by Marshal Pilsudski, who was then leading the Polish Government outside Poland. They reveal that the most brutal treatment was meted out to these Polish refugees, who were subjected to the same treatment by the Soviet Government as was meted’ out to Poles taken to German concentration camps. The writer of the book from which I have obtained my information points out that it was estimated by these released prisoners that between 10,000,000 and 15,000,000 people were in prison camps in Russia at that time. Other sources of information state that the number of prison camps now in that country is about the same as it was then. Genocide has raged in Russia as strongly as it ever raged in Germany. We have only to consider what has happened in the satellite countries of Russia. Last year Nicolai Petkov, a man of the greatest attainments and a great Bulgarian patriot, was murdered by agents of the Soviet Government. His extermination was approved by Soviet Russia. This bill is merely a piece of eyewash. It contains no positive proposals for dealing with the crime of genocide, nor does the convention itself provide any means by which genocide may be stamped out. As the result of the making of this convention, it may be possible to prevent genocide from being practised in very small nations, but nothing more. In the United Nations organization there is one law for small nations and another law for big and influential nations such as Russia when they find themselves in disagreement with other members of the organization. I have no objection to the passing of this bill but I do not think that it is worth the paper on which it is printed. I protest against what I believe to be the utterly idle and useless action of the Minister for External Affairs in presenting to this Parliament a piece of legislation which is mere window-dressing and humbug. The right honorable gentleman would be better employed if he stayed at home and looked after the interests of this country instead of beating the big drum abroad and bringing back such humbugging documents as that which is now before us.
Government members interjecting,
– It is all very well for honorable members opposite to say -
God’s in his Heaven -
All’s right with the world.
This Government has developed the unfortunate habit of looking at distant scenes and ignoring what is happening at home. We have been told about the great shortage of dollars-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Burke). - Order! The honorable member will not be in order in discussing the shortage of dollars.
– Then I shall leave that subject. We make gifts to the United Nations-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! The honorable member may not discuss either gifts to the United Nations or the shortage of dollars or, in fact, any subject but genocide.
– Under the convention, action must be taken against any country which commits genocide. ArticleIII. of the convention reads -
The following acts shall be punishable:
We are aware that in Poland genocide is at present being extensively practised against those Polish people who are hostile to the Government. Just as we in Australia freeze the funds of the miners-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.Order ! I shall ask the honorable member to resume his seat if he continues along those lines.
– I shall not pursue the subject any further. I protest against the humbug indulged in by the Minister for External Affairs in introducing legislation of this kind. He would do better if, instead of perambulating around the world and bringing back documents of this kind for the Parliament to ratify, he stayed at home and endeavoured to keep Australia on an even keel.
.- We have just heard two utterances from two Opposition members in what might be said to be their sturdy and practical mood. I am sorry that their speeches were not broadcast. Nothing could have done more damage to the cause of the Liberal party than the speeches delivered by them. Both of them made a strong point of the fact that there is political violence of an extremist kind in the Soviet Union which is directed against those who are opposed to the Soviet Government. Both have suggested that this bill is useless. For many years conventions have existed for the abolition of slavery, and many nations have acted upon them. If it is true that there is forced labour, amounting to slavery, in the Soviet Union, and the information which I have would indicate that that is so, although I cannot vouch for its accuracy, that fact, of itself, would not invalidate all the anti-slavery legislation under which action has been taken in the past to abolish slavery. Anti-slavery conventions have undoubtedly gone a long way towards destroying the international slave trade, and it is possible that a convention of this kind will go some way towards destroying the crime of genocide. The nations concerned in this convention, however, have never at any stage in their history been able to enforce the articles of an international convention against a great power which has been bent on destroying them. If, when the League of Nations was in existence, there had been slavery in Russia, and the League could have done nothing about it, that would not have altered the fact that the international convention on slavery had some effect. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) has spoken about the practice -of genocide in Russia. In this bill the specific crime of racial extermination is mentioned.
– Or religious extermination.
– I have never heard the charge made that any race in Russia has been selected by Soviet Russia for extermination.
– Not racial hut religious extermination.
– A man with an antiSemitic record such as that of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) should keep away from that subject. I know of no case of persecution in which the persecution, bad as it may have been, has been practised on racial grounds. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) and the honorable member for Henty have said that no protests were made on the basis of the allegations that have been made against Russia. The honorable member for New England went as far as to mention the Nicolai Petkov case as an example of failure to protest. His statement was untrue. A protest was made by every great’ power, with the United Kingdom speaking on behalf of the British Commonwealth of Nations, in relation to the execution of Petkov. The nations said that Petkov had been given a trial which amounted to judicial murder and they made strong protests to the United Nations. Protests were also made to the United Nations in relation to the trials of Mindszenty and Ordas and the Bulgarian Protestant pastors. I do not suggest that in that instance the protests were effective; hut honorable members opposite have said that no protests were made. As I have said, that is contrary to the facts. The honorable member for Henty has referred to the position of certain German generals. I think that, unpopular though his line may be, the statement that he made required great courage, and that a case could be made out for it. But the execution of some of the negotiators of German foreign policy, the intended execution of Goering, which he evaded, and the actual execution of Ribbentrop and others, seem to have been a function of victory rather than of international law. It is not a bad thing that there should be an international convention, ratified by all nations. All of these international agreements which we have recently had, if they do nothing else than indicate that under a nation’s law all war criminals will be hanged, under the cover of international law rather than as a function of victory, at least do that good. I did not think that any
Honorable member would wish this bill to be debated at length, because I thought that it had been adequately dealt with by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). It is unfortunate that a debate on a convention that obviously has not been originated by the Minister for Externa] Affairs should have been made the occasion for another petty, insulting and psycho-neurotic raving by the honorable member for New England.
– I had “hoped that this “bill would have been passed unanimously in a few moments, but the actions of two honorable gentlemen opposite in repudiating the excellent speech that was made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) compel me to say something upon it. I have met many of the unffortu nate victims of various kinds of tyranny, all gradations of political colour being involved, who .have come to Australia to seek a new life. It would be a pity, for the sake of Australia itself and also for the sake of the newcomers, if anybody got the impression that anywhere in this country there can be found a single person who is indifferent to what happened in Europe after the rise of Hitler and what is happening there still. In Article II. of the convention, genocide is defined as follows: -
. any of the following acts, committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
Every person in Australia with red blood in his veins and a spirit of humanity in his heart should applaud the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) for supporting a bill of this kind so soon after his return to Australia and for seeking the approval of the Australian Parliament to such a magnificent statement of this country’s intentions to do all in its power to prevent the commission of the acts that are referred to in the convention.We may have no effective force at our disposal to prevent the destruction of the lives of individuals or of groups of individuals, and we may have no opportunity to prevent the infliction of mental harm upon them, but we can at least let the world know that, as far as moral sanctions are concerned, this country gives place to no other country in its desire to uphold the rights of humanity and its respect for the dignity of human beings.
The Minister for External Affairs has been the subject of two attacks this evening. Australia should be very proud of the right honorable gentleman and of the great honour that was bestowed upon Australia and himself when he was elected as President of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Honorable members are entitled to disagree with what he does, but they are not entitled to sneer at the services that he has rendered to humanity. His services will be recognized in history as being of considerable value. At any rate, most Australians are very proud of the fact that the Minister for External Affairs of this country, one of the small nations of the world, occupies the highest position in the greatest organization for the preservation of peace and the protection of human life that the wit of man has yet been able to devise. The speeches that have been inflicted upon us by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) and the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) can do much harm. They can create the impression in this country and outside it that we condemn some forms of mass murder or genocide or are entirely indifferent to them, depending upon who the victims are. The convention applies to the perpetration of any form of this diabolical tyranny. No matter by whom or where it is perpetrated, and irrespective of whether it is perpetrated under a “ Red “ dictatorship or under some surviving form of fascist dictatorship, we are bound to condemn it. It is idle for the two honorable gentlemen opposite to whom I have referred to sneer at the convention and to say that it does not matter or that they will support it in the same miserable way in which they would do anything that they regarded as contemptible.
– If the convention is pious humbug, they should vote against the bill.
– That is precisely the position. If they think it is not worth what the Minister for External Affairs has said that it is worth, they should divide the committee so that we may know where everybody stands. I am sure that the honorable member for New England just spoke out of his turn, because he is not a bad sort of a man. I know his foolishness, and I make allowance for it. I am not so certain about the honorable member for Henty, who has some rather violent anti-semitic streaks in his nature. I think it is because he hates the Jew that he has made the observations that he has made to-night.
All that I desire to say in conclusion is that by ratifying this convention we can at least pass an almost post-mortem condemnation of the Potsdam Agreement, under which some of the most dreadful acts in the history of Europe have been perpetrated. Article II. of the convention reads as follows: -
In the present Convention, genocide means anyof the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
Under the Potsdam Agreement, 11,000,000 people were pushed from their homes in Europe to somewhere else. There are 3,000,000 of the Volke Deutsch eking out a miserable existence in the land of their ancestors, but it is not a land in which they are welcome because they are regarded as taking the food of the German nationals themselves. In my view, this convention, if adopted, would prevent any further happenings of the kind that have occurred under the Potsdam Agreement. It is not merely a condemnation of the persecution of the Jews, but of the persecution of any people, regardless of race or religion.
. -I have listened with interest to what the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) and the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) have had to say. I point out that neither the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) nor the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) uttered any word of condemnation of the principle upon which this bill is based. They said that it was pious humbug. The only difference of opinion that 1 have with them is that I object to the use of the word “pious”. The honorable member for Fremantle referred to the slave trade. Nothing that was done to abolish the slave trade was due to the existence of an international anti-slave agreement. The great example for hundreds of years was set by the church, which induced many people to free their slaves as a penance for their sins. That was one reason for the abolition of the slave trade, and it was probably a very good one. To go into the political realm, the first great emancipation of slaves did not occur because of an international agreement, but because the British Government paid £20,000,000 to free slaves in British territories. The second greatest act in the abolition of slavery caused a civil war in the United States of America. The abolition of slavery has been achieved mainly by force. For over 100 years, ships of the British Navy, both sail and steam, sailed the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean, fought Corsairs, Turks and Arabs and prevented the carrying on of the slave trade. Let me point out that in recent years there were vestiges of the slave trade in Africa. The trade was conducted very largely by Arabians, and also by that noble person for whom many of our countrymen seemed to have a great liking in 1936, that is, a gentleman by the name of Haile Selassie. One of the cancers of his kingdom was that the slave trade, in one of the vilest forms ever to be thought of, was being carried on in the years of grace 1935 and 1936.I have mentioned those matters, not because I want to detract in the slightest degree from anything that the Minister for External Affairs has said or done, but because I think that we should view these matters in their true, perspective and realize that such things are not abolished as the result of international agreements but by the application of force or, in the case of the United Kingdom, the expenditure of cash.
Genocide is a modern term. I admit quite frankly that the word was new to me until the last session, when I had to go and look it up in a dictionary. One dictionary did not have the word in it. Those who are historically minded will know that there have been many instances of race destruction in the past. Our late lamented friends, Tamerlane, Genghis Khan and a few of the Turks, were exports at it. It was carried on for hundreds of years and whole provinces were devastated. People were not killed only because of their race. Race destruction was also carried out for the purposes of religion. The test to apply is what effect this convention, once it is accepted by the Australian Parliament, will have on the events that are occurring in Europe and Asia to-day. After the Minister for External Affairs had spoken the other night about what the United Nations had done in relation to Cardinal Mindszenty in Hungary and certain Protestant pastors in Roumania, I put it to him, by way of interjection, that the test of the efficacy of the actions of the United
Nations is that those clergymen are still in gaol. Now we have a further test. What has happened to the Archbishop of Prague, Dr. Beran, and to the Catholic clergy in that city? As far as we can ascertain, 1,500 of them have disappeared in the last two or three weeks. I have no doubt that all that the right honorable gentleman will tell me in a few moments will be that the Government of Czechoslovakia is a member of the United Nations. It is probably also a party to this convention.
I invite honorable members to study some of the books in the Parliamentary Library. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) has one at the moment that is called Tell the West. It is the story of a Pole with socialist sympathies. When his country was invaded by the late Mr. Hitler and his friend the late Mr. Ribbentrop, upon whom was conferred the Order of Lenin by M. Stalin, Mr. Lenin’s successor, this poor Pole thought that he would get a better deal in Communist Russia than in Nazi Germany. In his book he tells of his experiences. He is one of those who have escaped. That book is only one of many similar books that are available. Honorable gentlemen have read others, and so have I. Every one of us knows that genocide is a very live issue to-day. What was done by Tamerlane, Genghis Khan and all that crowd pales into insignificance compared with what is being done to-day. The ancients slew because they did not usually know what to do with their captives. To-day, the men to whom I have referred slay because it is a deliberate and considered policy that they should slay certain people of certain races, faiths and political opinions. What has happened to the people of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Roumania and a large part of eastern Germany who were antagonistic to certain of their leaders? What would happen to many of the people of France, the Low Countries and Scandinavia if M. Stalin’s armies were to “liberate” them? They would disappear east of the Urals, not because of anything that they had done against God or man in this life, but because their lives were in compatible with Communist existence. When we examine the meaning of a document like this convention, let us remember that the Ten Commandments have been in existence for much longer than 2,000 years, although I am afraid that they are still honoured more in the breach than in the observance. I ‘ am not attempting to teach the Deity. I have been deterred from any views that I may have had in that direction by some of the examples that I have noticed since I have become a member of this Parliament. The passing of this bill will not mean a “ cracker “ unless the countries that ratify the convention observe its provisions. No one in his right senses believes that the Commonwealth of Australia will be called before the bar of public opinion, if there is such a thing, and asked to answer for any of the things which are enumerated in this convention. But there are many countries to-day that will be required to answer before the bar of world opinion, if there is such a thing, not for what they have done in the past but for what is happening within their borders to-day. I should like the Minister to inform me by what measures - inches, yards, miles or whatever he likes - the passing of this bill by this Parliament will make one whit better the fate and future of people in Russia, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, eastern Germany, Roumania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria or those parts of Greece in which the minions of M. Stalin are operating. That is the test, and unless the ratification of this convention will assist the people of those countries, then, from the viewpoint of decency or humanity, it will have no effect whatever.
– I said all that I wanted to say about this hill in the first instance in the second-reading debate, but I intervene again in committee merely to say that there are, of course, very strong views about certain aspects of this matter. However, it must not be overlooked that there is one view only in this Parliament about the particular crime which is referred to in this measure. There must be no mistake about that. Not only everybody in this Parliament but also everybody in this country detests the kind of thing which is referred to in this bill.
I have risen to say two things. In the first place, as I indicated at the beginning, this is not a measure upon which there is any party division of opinion. This is not a party matter.
– I am not so sure about that.
– The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) seems to be out of step.
– Nobody has pretended that this is a party matter. The second thing that I desire to say is that, as I indicated earlier, I myself have been very troubled about the efficacy of a convention of this kind. That is a doubt which has been expressed by several of my colleagues, not as to whether the crime should he condemned, but as to the efficacy of this particular form of condemnation. So little is this a party matter that I have risen also to say that I, personally, am most indebted to the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) for having put a view on this subject which I find full of material for thought. His view, as I understand it, is that although the ratification of this convention does not, of itself, do anything immediately, and although it has no effect or relevance inside our own country - as, of course, we profoundly hope it never will - it does constitute, by common consent, something that is recognized internationally as a crime, and, in future, war criminals may be prosecuted under a pre-existing law instead of under what some people have regarded as a retrospective law. That, I think, is the substance of the point that the honorable member for Fremantle has made. I, for one, have been most interested in it, and I am indebted to him for placing it before the committee.
Mr. ABBOTT (New England) [8.52’J. t-I desire to reply, in a few words, to speeches by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) and the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell). This chamber is deeply indebted to the honor able member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) for the plain and truthful statement that he made a few minutes ago. He demonstrated-, in expressing his views, a wealth of historical knowledge of happenings in the world pot only long ago, but also at the present time. If he taught any honorable members any history, the honorable member for Fremantle wai certainly among the number. When the honorable member for Barker was addressing .the committee, I felt that I was listening to a historian of great renown. However, when I listened to the honorable member for Fremantle, I gained the impression that he had studied some history books like “Little Arthur’s History of England”. The honorable member for Fremantle said that he regretted that this debate was not being broadcast. I share his regret, because every word that he uttered bore out exactly what I had said. This convention is like a bottle of patent medicine. The label is magnificent, but the contents are of very doubtful value. The honorable member for Fremantle has recalled that there are conventions against slavery, hut that slavery is still in existence in the Soviet Union. The honorable gentleman proceeded to develop that theme by pointing out that no action had been taken against the Soviet for tolerating conditions of slavery within its borders. After having shown how our ally in the recent war was behaving in suppressing liberty and freedom in the satellite countries and within its own borders, the honorable member expressed the view that it had never been possible to enforce a convention against a great nation. I made exactly the. same point in my speech. I remarked that if the people of Australia and other countries thought that the enforcement of this convention against genocide in relation to a great power that had committed a crime against humanity would lead to war, they could rest assured that no action would be taken. I am grateful to the honorable member for supporting my views and debunking this bill. The honorable member also stated that it was not true to say that no protest had been made against the murder of Nicolai Petkov some time ago. I agree with him that the governments of several countries, including the Government of the United Kingdom, protested against that crime. In fact, protests were voiced in the House of Commons. But when some honorable members on this side of the chamber asked whether the Australian Government would protest against the murder of Petkov, they did npt receive much encouragement.
The Minister for Information stated that moral sanctions would be used against countries that committed a breach of the convention against genocide. I was most interested in that statement, because we have had the opportunity to impose sanctions against certain countries which, to-day, are committing the crime of genocide. I refer particularly to Poland where violent and vicious attacks are being made on the Catholic clergy. What is the attitude of the Australian Government towards imposing moral sanctions against Poland? Like Jason of old, the Australian Government has given to Poland many gifts of “golden fleece”. In other words it has made - available to Poland wool worth £250,000.
The Minister, when speaking about genocide, said that much depended on who the victims were. I expressed exactly the same view. If the people of a poor little country are murdered by a powerful country, other countries defer action, and the result is that the convention is not worth the paper on which it is printed. If we accept the fact that this is a document which puts forward a noble code, I shall vote for the bill, and support the convention. I agree with the statement by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) that every honorable member stands for such a code of conduct in the affairs of nations as is set forth in this bill. But we do not want the people of this country or any other country to be fooled and humbugged into believing that the ratification of this convention will stop genocide in the world. Soviet Russia and its satellites are committing genocide to-day, and they will continue to do so, until they are stopped either by a change of government within the Soviet Union or by pressure exerted by other nations which will demonstrate to Russia that it does not pay to murder the helpless people of the satellite countries whose political views, do not conform to those pf the Soviet.
– I support the bill, very warmly. I agree with the point which has been made that we, by ratifying this convention, are helping to affirm a body of international law for the future. At the same time, we are also reaffirming a great moral principle. We cannot too often reaffirm great moral principles, even though we may see on all sides departures from the practice of those principles, and find within our own borders departures from the practise of certain other moral principles to which we have subscribed. Some honorable members on this side of the chamber, who have spoken in this debate and have been criticized by honorable members opposite, did not condemn this measure as such, but they did speak of it in terms of criticism because of its ineffectually, in itself, to bring about the thing which we claim to be right and proper in the conduct of national and human affairs. As I see it, this measure really stems from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is a part of the body of law and statement of principle that has been set forth by the United Nations. We, a3 a government and as a people, have always subscribed to conventions that have been placed before us. Certain articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights deal with the right of marriage, which is closely bound up with this convention on genocide. This is not merely a measure designed to prevent the extermination of groups by acts of violence, for it is also aimed at moves to prevent births in certain groups. There is even at this moment discussion of a policy to encourage the prevention of births in Japan and, I concede, in Britain, and in other countries. We must ensure as a subscriber to this convention that that policy shall not be allowed to develop to the point at which it will become an imposition upon people that they shall practise birth control. We in Australia are departing very largely from certain conventions to which we have subscribed and which seem to me to be closely connected with the convention now before the committee. Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as finally adopted, reads -
Under certain of our laws, we are cutting right across that principle to which we have subscribed. We are preventing Australians from exercising their lawful right to marry.
– Then, the honorable member agrees that the bill is necessary as a practical measure.
– I do agree. T have contended from the beginning that we should pass the bill, but we must not depart from the spirit of Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the administration of our laws. I say strongly that if an Australian lawfully takes unto himself a wife who is not of Australian birth, he should have the right, under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which, I repeat, we have subscribed, to maintain that wife in this country.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Burke). - Order! The honorable member for Darwin was dealing with the prevention of births in groups of people. She is entitled to touch upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but she is not entitled to do more than that. .
– There is a distinct connexion between the convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- But the Universal Declaration of Human Rights opens up a wide field, and the honorable member would not be in order in going too far into it.
-I bow to your ruling, sir, but the nations that have subscribed to the convention should ensure that their practice shall accord absolutely with the principles enunciated in it.
– The bill proves to me that the shapers of Australia’s foreign policy have mistaken ideas about the prospects of bringing about world order or world government. Before I develop that theme by reading certain extracts from the quarterly review, Foreign Affairs, which is published in the United States of America, I wish to associate myself entirely with the forceful remarks of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). They impelled me to rescue from my room before it was posted to my campaign director in the Northern Territory, Mr. Harry Hickey, a page from the Sydney Sunday Herald of the 26th June on which are reproduced photographs of Hungary’s Rajk, Bulgaria’s Dimitrov, Roumania’s Pauker, Hungary’s Rakosi, and Yugoslavia’s Tito, all of whom are Communists. They represent the forces of barbarism. J regard it as an insult to honorable members that they should be called upon to consider and vote upon a bill of this character. It deals with a crime of which no Anglo-Saxon nation could be guilty. That our Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) should have condescended to subscribe, on Australia’s behalf, to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, is an insult to the Australian people. The convention itself is an insult to all AngloSaxons all over the world. I admire the Minister for External Affairs for trying to solve the problems that beset the world, but, in this instance, he is sailing on the wrong tack. He should have scorned to have anything to do with the convention. None of the crimes that are enumerated in it could ever be committed by the Anglo-Saxon race. I return to my theme that there is something wrong with our foreign policy when it expresses the mistaken idea that we shall be able to bring about world order or world government. In order to strengthen that contention I quote the following words from an article published in Foreign Affairs : -
The trustful acceptance of false solutions for our perplexing problems adds a touch of pathos to the tragedy of our age.
The tragic character of our age is revealed in the world-wide insecurity which is the fate of modern man. Technical achievements, which a previous generation had believed capable of solving every ill to which the human flesh la heir, have created, or at least accentuated, our insecurity. For the growth of technics has given the perennial problems of our common life a more com pi px form and a scope that hu grown to be world-wide.
Our problem is that technics have established a rudimentary world community but have not integrated it organically, morally or politically. They have created a community of mutual dependence, but nut one of mutual trust and respect. Without this higher integration, advancing technics tend to sharpen economic rivalries within a general framework of economic interdependence; they change the ocean harriers of yesterday into the battlegrounds of to-day; and they increase the deadly eflicacy of the instruments of war so that vicious circles of mutual fear may end in atomic conflicts and mutual destruction. To these perplexities an ideological conflict has been added, which divides the world into hostile camps.
If I quote a few more words from the article, we may determine the line of demarcation between the ideology of the barbarian races and the ideology of the Anglo-Saxon race. Those words are as follows: -
The notion that world government is a fairly simple possibility is the final and most absurd form of the “ social contact “ conception of government which has confused modern political thought since Hobbes. lt must certainly he obvious by this time that the conception of a state of nature in which all men were at war with all, and of a subsequent social contact through which mcn established a power over themselves to avoid mutual annihilation, is pure fiction.
The Minister for External Affairs has played a big part in the United Nations. He has returned to Australia and placed this bill before us with the feeling that he is thereby doing a good job. I do not doubt the sincerity of his ethics, but his wisdom was lacking when he decided that the parliament of an Anglo-Saxon nation should ratify this convention. I direct the attention of honorable members, especially those with tendencies to the left, to the following statement that was published in the Sunday Herald last week-end -
There are few, very few public men like Archbishop Beran left in the satellite States of Eastern Europe. The Communist-dominated Government of Czechoslovakia has made it clear that if the Roman Catholic Church does not submit nf its own accord, the Government will try every means to make it disappear in that country . . . There are few, very few public men like Archbishop Beran left in the satellite States of Eastern .Europe. Soon there may not be Archbishop Beran. Events in Prague during the week have shown one thing. President Clement Gottwald and his Government have lost patience.
I endorse the sensible utterances of the honorable member for Barker. Thank goodness there is a man in the House with both his feet on the ground. I cannot agree with what the honorable member for Henty (Air. Gullett) said about our not having the right to punish the people who committed criminal offences against humanity during the war, not only the Germans but also our barbaric little eastern friends, the Japanese, of whom I dare not say much, because I do not trust myself to use moderate terms in describing them. I content myself with saying that we cannot grant them the dignity of being called a nation. The honorable member seems to think that it is not right to punish the senior men in the defeated enemy nations for their war crimes.
– He wants to punish the little men and let the big men go free.
– Yes. The high positions occupied by the senior men in the enemy nations gave them the opportunity to express themselves in favour of barbarism or humanity, and they chose barbarism. They have been punished not in a spirit of viciousness but as an act of justice.
.- I suppose that the 57 nations that make up the United Nations will find it difficult to understand why a bill to ratify the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment ‘of the crime of Genocide should cause, in this chamber, first, double-talk, secondly, anti-semitism, and, thirdly, a rip-roaring farce. There is nothing farcical about the convention to the millions who lived under the threat of the crematorium. Some foolish things have been said in this debate. The excursion into history by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) is a tribute to his application to his chair under the lamp in the library, though what he had to say had little relation to the bill, except that it did provide us with some background. The answer to the question about the ratification of international conventions is clear. They may be ratified or not ratified according to their merit. Some conventions have not been ratified. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has said, the horrible crime of genocide is unthinkable in Australia, and opinions may differ, therefore, on the need to ratify this convention. Some conventions to which Australia has subscribed as a member of the International Labour Organization have not been ratified because they declared for industrial standards beyond which Australia had already gone. There was no need therefore, as far as Australia was concerned, for the conventions or their ratification. Conventions emanating from the United Nations and dealing with high moral issues, must be ratified, in my opinion, by the parliaments of the countries that subscribe to them. The whole story of genocide in Europe is too well known for me to labour it. This is not an idle bill. It is not a senseless thing. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) described it as pious humbug, with the implication that it is utterly worthless. It is a curious thing that in any reform, whether it comes from the united efforts of nations or from a welling up of the moral conscience of the people, there are always people who refuse to correct wrongs. Because we desire to correct a wrong we should ratify this convention. If we as a nation were dedicated to a form of genocide what would our signature be worth? That we detest all forms of genocide and desire to remove them arises from the fact that we are a moral people. The fact that we have a clean record allows us to take such an attitude regarding genocide. I should have thought that the clear statement made by the Minister and the sober and dignified utterance by the Leader of the Opposition would have been sufficient concerning this matter but instead, the debate has been turned into a circus by the barnstorming tactics ‘ of the honorable member for New England, who is soon to move to fresh fields.
– I did not intend to rise to speak for a second time during the committee stage, hut I cannot allow one observation to pass unchallenged. The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) quite gratuitously said across the table just now that my gallant and honorable friend, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) was in favour of privates of the armies of our former enemies being punished, and not in favour of the high officers of those armies being punished. I venture to say that. that is gross misrepresentation of what the honorable member for Henty said.
– I said “the little men”.
– The Minister for External Affairs may call them the “ little men “ if he likes, but I say once more that the honorable member for Henty sa d - and, as the honorable member, for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) stated, it took courage to say it in the present state of the public temper - that if men are to be condemned at war trials for carrying out their military duties as soldiers, obeying the orders they had received as soldiers, it was something that he for one could not approve of. I am not asking for that to be determined, but I do insist that what the honorable member for Henty, who has a magnificent right to speak on these matters in this House, said, should not be misrepresented.
– The Minister has no right such as that.
– Let us get away from other people’s condemnation in these matters. There is far too much unanimity in substance in this debate for us to waste time on that sort of thing. Everybody is standing on the one ground in this matter. The very reason why I expressed my acknowledgment of the point made by the honorable member for Fremantle was because he had made a point that chimed in so well with what the honorable member for Henty had said.
– The honorable member for Henty agreed with me that the initiators of war crimes should he punished.
– There was no dispute about that. The honorable member for Henty said that he did not approve of men being punished for having carried out their duties as soldiers. The honorable member for Fremantle replied by saying, in effect, “ One reason why I shall vote for a convention of this kind is because I believe that it will constitute a war crime as something that is recognized as a crime against international law and we do not want to be arguing thereafter about such a matter in retrospect.” It is easy to quarrel about words in a debate of this kind. I rose to say that I for one shall not sit silent, nor will any other honorable member on my side of the House, when it is suggested that the honorable member for Henty desires to ignore the position of the little men and preserve the position of big men. I should like to say that the honorable member for Henty was one of the little men, in every sense, who went to war. He enlisted as a private and became a sergeant and then an officer, and he has one great distinction in that he enjoys the warm respect of everybody in the Parliament.
.- I desire to make a few observations about the dangers inherent in bills of this kind concerning pacts and systems that allowed people like Ramsay MacDonald and Pierre Laval to destroy the defences of their own countries.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! By no stretch of imagination could that be connected with the bill.
– I shall soon connect it. While the League . of Nations was still in existence we got into a position where we had a false sense of security that had been nourished by the announcements and activities of the League. The United Nations is only the illegitimate child of the League of Nations, and whilst it may do a certain amount of good on the same lines as the Red Cross does, as far as defending the small nations who are the underdogs of the world is concerned, I do not believe that it is worth one soldier with a rifle and bayonet. I believe that it is a danger to the right thinking people of the world rather than a help. Some of the people who take part in United Nations conferences are the same people who, in Russia, murdered 11,000,000 of their own countrymen in one year because they were of a particular class. They were Kulaks, that is, well-to-do farmers. Yet they sit in gatherings of the United Nations and help to frame such resolutions as the one that produced this convention.
– They will bring the Japanese in, too.
– I have no doubt that, in due course, as the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) has interjected, the Japanese will be invited to join the United Nations. Can anybody in his senses say that if Russia decided to go into Turkey to-morrow and smash the Turkish people because of their religious or social beliefs, any resolution passed by the United Nations would have the slightest effect upon the situation? It would not have the least effect, and if Turkey were foolish enough not to keep its army up to its full strength-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The Chair cannot allow the honorable member to pursue that line. The bill is concerned solely with the subject of genocide, which is defined in Article II. of the schedule.
– With all due respect, Mr. Deputy Chairman, I wish to say that if the Turks were foolish enough to allow their armies to be destroyed we should have a very strong example of genocide.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! That may be true, but the subject may not be canvassed during the debate on this measure.
– That must be the case, if the Chair says so, but actually it is not a matter of fact.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The Chair will have to ask the honorable member to resume his seat if he continues in that strain.
– I cannot help that.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member must keep strictly to the bill. The question of defence, however interesting it might be during another debate, cannot be discussed in connexion with this measure.
– I thought this convention was supposed to assist in the defence of weak peoples and to stop mass destruction.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Mass destruction of groups or nations.
– Then I should think that what I have said must surely have some bearing on the measure. I think we all agree that those who are guilty of the horrors that were perpetrated at the Belsen concentration camp and similar places should be destroyed as being foul and unfit to live upon this earth. Bat it is utterly stupid to prosecute a man like Field Marshall Kesselring. who served his country in war-time. He was a patriot. Possibly he did not agree with Hitler’s theories, but he was ordered by his own people to carry out his duties as commander in the field, and he would have been shot as a traitor had he not carriedthem out. Tie would also thereby have betrayed his own people. I think that quite a lot of the stuff that is being put out by the United Nations is not only useless but also very dangerous to the small nations of this world, and will be used as an excuse for the strong nations to say to weak nations, “ Well, we have passed a resolution, and the big nations must not do certain things. But you have no armies now so we must let you be overrun “.
Mr. ANTHONY (Richmond) [9.271.- There is one point that I want to raise. It may be very satisfying to tha morals of the nation to subscribe our signature to a convention such as this, but the real question is how far we ourselves intend to comply with the principles to which we are subscribing. We are telling the other people of the world, in this particular manner, that we abhor killing for racial and religious reasons and that we also abhor the extermination of groups either in whole or in part. Australia is in the dock, at the moment, possibly in respect of individual and isolated examples of such actions.
II r. Haylen. - What are they?
– If we have reason to believe, when we select a family and send it to another place-
– Back to its own home.
– When we have reason to believe-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! It is clear that the honorable member is dealing with the subject of immigration. Genocide is clearly defined in Article II. of the convention, which has nothing to do with the deportation of individuals or of groups.
– Tt says in the convention that genocide means -
I suggest that, if we take one individual family and submit it to conditions thai we have reason to believe will cause itsmembers to lose their lives-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.Order! The Chair cannot permit the honorable member to pursue that line.
– Very well, Mr. Deputy Chairman, but I say that it gives one some reason for thought about just how far we are applying the principlesof humanity that are enunciated in thi* convention, aud the principles of decency as between nations and as between groups within a nation. I say that the only threat that exists in Australia to the carrying out of the principles of this convention in their entirety is in the fact that one political group does not subscribe to the views expressed by the convention. It is a group which believes in establishing its power by the obliteration - not the elimination, but the obliteration - of any other group, or every other group, that is opposed to its views. 1 refer to the wellknown fact that the Communist party-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable gentleman is deliberately trying to evade the ruling of the Chair and the terms of the bill. No evasion will be permitted. The meaning of genocide is clearly defined in Article II. of the convention, and if the honorable gentleman continues along the line that he has been taking the Chair will have to ask him to resume his seat.
– Very well, Mr. Deputy Chairman. I shall say then, that history shows that in the countries of Europe that have come under the domination of the Communist power an attempt is being made to eliminate religious groups. In Hungary recently there was held the trial of Cardinal Mindszenty, and in Czechoslovakia the Archbishop of Prague is now being held without trial. It is obvious that in the group of countries in which the Communists have obtained power they are carrying out an objective of obliterating religious groups or other groups that do not subscribe to the doctrines of the Communist party. I am prevented by your ruling, Mr. Deputy Chairman, from discussing the local aspects of that subject, but I say that Australia has to be consistent in these matters and must take the necessary action within its own borders to prevent such things happening here. Of course, the Attorney-General may be able to tell us what is being done in Australia. Perhaps as the ministerial head of the Director-General of Security, he can say what steps are being taken to ensure that the provisions of Article II. of the convention are being applied in order to prevent an intolerant group from seizing the reins of government, and dominating every other group.
Dr. EVATT (Barton- Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs) [9.31J. - I shall try to sum up the position. There has been some criticism during the debate, but I do not think that it goes to the heart of the matter. Some honorable members have asked, sometimes in extravagant language, sometimes in language that was not extravagant, what the passing of this bill can achieve of value. By passing the bill, the Parliament will ratify what the Government has done on behalf of Australia at the General Assembly of the United Nations. A total of 55 nations has signed the convention including the United Kingdom, and all the members of the British Commonwealth. Practically all the nations of the world, represented at the United Nations, signed the convention, and agreed to submit it to the constituted authority in their respective countries. This Parliament is the constituted authority in Australia, and it is being asked to ratify the convention. In the slow progress of international law, through what is known as international legislation, genocide, as defined in the convention, is to be declared by all nations, which ratify the convention, to be an international crime, punishable by every signatory nation.
Is that a good thing? I am sure that there is no member of this committee who would not denounce genocide in the most positive terms. In fact, I think the best summing up of popular opinion on the crime is to be found in the preamble of the convention, expressed in these words -
Being- convinced that, in order to liberate mankind from such an odious scourge, international co-operation is required.
That is the thesis upon which the bill proceeds. Genocide cannot be got rid of merely by outlawing it in one’s own coun try. To achieve that end, international co-operation is necessary. The United Nations cannot, by convention, make the penalties against genocide internationally enforceable, but international cooperation, through a convention, will eventually lead to that end. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) mentioned chattel slavery, which existed in many parts of the world not long ago. Indeed, less than a century ago, a great civil struggle took place in the United States of America on the issue of slavery. At that time, there were tremendously powerful vested interests in the United States of America fighting for the maintenance of chattel slavery, and they were supported to some extent by sections in other parts of the world. However, the feeling of the British people, especially of the workers, was so strong against slavery that it prevailed. . But slavery was a debatable subject less than 100 years ago. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) referred to slavery. I recall Lord Mansfield’s famous judgment in the case of a slave who set foot in England, and appealed to the court to protect him against his former owners. The case was dealt with by Lord Mansfield, who freed him. We recall that Wilberforce took a prominent part in the fight against slavery at a time when tremendous profits were being made by carrying slaves’ from Africa to the United States of America. In the end, what was it that put a stop to slavery? It was not force alone, nor was it the denunciations of democratic leaders such as Lincoln. It was all those factors, and international opinion as well.
– And Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
– Members of the Opposition laugh, but it is not a laughing mattei. The authoress of that very powerful novel played her part, too, in ending slavery. Finally, there was an international convention against slavery, just as there came into being an international convention declaring piracy to be a crime, and more recently an international convention declaring traffic in women and children to be a crime. If one were now to ask Parliament to ratify a convention declaring traffic in women and children to be a crime, be would be told that there was no need for such action in Australia, as we were all opposed to the traffic. That, however, is not the point. The object that we have in view can be achieved only by international cooperation. Nations cannot be ordered to adhere to decisions of the United Nations, and so we proceed by process of conventions, ratification, legislation and development of world opinion until, in the end, no decent man from any country would dare get up at an international conference and oppose the condemnation of those things which have been declared crimes. Australia has taken its part in the framing of the convention which the Parliament is now being asked to ratify. Fifty-four other nations have signed it, including all the nations of the British Commonwealth, and I am sure that this Parliament will agree with the view taken by Australia’s representatives. As the convention points out, at all periods of history, genocide has inflicted great losses. I have no doubt that that is true of some parts of the world to-day, and that is the reason why we should ratify the convention; it is not a reason why we should refuse to do so. If we can get public opinion, as represented at the United Nations, to take a stand against a detestable crime based on racial and religious grounds, that will help us to put an end to the crime. Reference has been made to the cases of Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary, Bishop Ordass of Bulgaria, Archbishop Beran of Czechoslovakia and the Protestant pastors in Bulgaria, as well as to the Petkov case. We are not justified in condemning international co-operation because nations do not always succeed immediately when they try to act together. I believe that, but for the action of the United Nations, in which Australia took a proper and leading part, those men in Hungary and Bulgaria, who were sentenced to imprisonment, might have been sentenced to death.
– The Minister should not bluff himself.
– I see motions of dissent from honorable members opposite, but that is my belief. The intervention of the United Nations, though not effective for all purposes, was nevertheless effective for some purposes. The odious crime of genocide, which has disgraced the record of nations from time to time, reached its peak under the detestable regime of Hitler.
– What about Stalin?
– Never before, until the Nazis came into power, was mass extermination practised on racial grounds. Never before was there anything so abominable as was perpetrated in Germany. Wherever genocide is practised, and it is practised to-day - I have mentioned Bulgaria, Roumania and Czechoslovakia, which are satellite countries - we can stamp it out only by international co-operation. This convention is a step towards our objective, of which this committee is obviously in favour. The Parliament must accept the proposition that international legislation of this kind will gradually achieve its purpose.
– Is it proposed to follow the ratification of the convention by introducing into this Parliament legislation for the purpose of giving effect to it?
– Yes. The convention is not binding until a certain number of ratifications have been obtained. Then, each signatory will be bound within its own jurisdiction to legislate in order to give the convention effect. In Australia, such action will be taken directly by this Parliament, and we shall also act by arrangement with the States for the punishment of the crime of genocide. Furthermore, if nations do not fulfil their obligations, the matter may, under Article IX. of the convention, be brought before the International Court of Justice for consideration. Nothing is to be gained by over-stating the case. I have pointed out the path of progress, and that is the path we intend to follow.
.- I assume that every nation willing to sign the convention will be invited to do so. What is the position of Spain under General Franco? It is reported that tens of thousands of men are incarcerated in Spain in vile dungeons. Has Spain been invited to sign the convention? Is the treatment of those prisoners in Spain regarded as genocide? Article II. of the convention contains these words -
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.
– In Article XI., it is stated -
The present Convention shall be open until the 31st December, 1949, for signature on behalf of any Member of the United Nations and of any non-member State to which an Invitation to sign has been addressed by the General Assembly.
So far as I know, no invitation has yet been addressed outside the United Nations.
– Has Spain applied for admission to the United Nations, and if so, with what result?
– Spain has not yet applied.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 24th June (vide page 1508), on motion by Mr. Calwell -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of this bill is to amend the Immigration Act 1901-1948. Before I proceed, I seek a ruling from the Chair on whether it is permissible for honorable members to debate the cognate measure, the War-time Refugees Removal Bill, during this discussion.
– Yes; the two bills may bo considered together.
– Some of the remarks made by the Minister forImmigration (Mr. Calwell) in introducing the Immigration Bill have occupied my attention. The honorable gentleman has stated that our immigration policy is based on the concept that the homogeneous character of our population shall be maintained. In support of that policy, he showed that all the countries of the world have restricted immigration at some time and to some races. That is undoubtedly true. The Great Wall of China was built in order to keep out the races from the north and the west. Again, in China, the refusal of land to refugees for settlement purposes resulted in colonies of people living for generations as “ boat-people “ on the rivers. Restriction of immigration is as old as history, and Australia is only one of the countries which is practising it to-day. However much the protection of tribes or races against deprivation of food was a very adequate reason for such restriction in certain stages in the development of civilization, it is not now a reason for the erection of such barriers as the white races are erecting.
In Australia, the workers resented the coming to our shores of people who were likely to lower the working standards that had been established in Australia. So, we applied an immigration policy of which we are not ashamed and to which, I think, every honorable member has given his support. Unfortunately, however, we have used the term “ White Australia “ in describing our immigration policy. The Minister has said that this policy is not now, and never has been, directed at the total exclusion of non-Europeans, nor has it been imposed on the basis of any assumption of racial superiority. The honorable gentleman has also said that a measure of discrimination on racial grounds is regarded as inevitable to the maintenance of the homogeneous character of our population. He has said that he believes that the term “ White Australia “ is misleading. He has indicated that that term has been used by newspapers “ and others “, and that its use has been largely responsible for the misconception that has arisen in regard to our immigration policy. He regards the term as offensive and has urged its discontinuance. That is all to the good. It is interesting to note that since the honorable gentleman made that statement denials have been published in the press by the Liberal party that it has used the words “ White Australia policy “. In fact, many people are now finding out that they do not favour its use, and are ready to disclaim any responsibility for it. I remind the Minister and these others that the term “White Australia” is used in almost all books of reference, in all Australian histories and in official documents. In particular, I remind the Minister that to-day, and for many years past, the words “ Maintenance of a White Australia “ have appeared in the federal platform of the Australian Labour party. For many years, I have held the view which has been expressed by the Minister on this matter. 1 have always regarded the term “White Australia “ as offensive, and I have always wished for its removal and the substitution of some less objectionable phrase. I now urge the Minister to use his influence to have this misrepresentation of aims corrected in official documents, from which many thousands of Australians take a lead. I am sure that the honorable gentleman will have attention directed to this matter, in view of the remarks which he himself has made in regard to it. May I assume that the Minister is not actuated by any racial prejudice in introducing this bill? I am anxious to have his assurance on that point.
– That is right.
– We have an immigration policy which has been upheld by governments of all political colours, and which has had the sanction of the Australian people for a long time. The Minister in administering our immigration laws has attended to the work of his department with great personal energy and enthusiasm. But under the Immigration Act, the Minister has wide discretionary powers, and, accordingly, it is imperative that the law should be administered with discretion. If that is done, we need have no fear of our immigration policy. Complaints that have been made - and I have made some of them myself - have been occasioned by the inadequate use of the Minister’s discretionary powers. However, I do not wish to dwell on that aspect of the matter because I think that sufficient has already been said about it, and much ill will has been created by what has been said and published. I do not wish to add to that ill will. Many of those who have levelled criticism at the Minister would have taken the same action as he has taken if they had been in his place.
We have not yet come to the time when the lion is able to lie down with the lamb, and while we work towards the coming of that day, we must take steps not only for our own protection, but also for the protection of those persons who come to this country. Very frequently such persons need our protection, particularly from the unfriendliness of Australians. We have shown unfriendliness and cruelty to the dark people from whom we took this country in the first place, and our use of the term “White Australia “ is, in my opinion, an insult to those people as well as to others. The question of the homogeneity of the race has been given prominence in this debate, but my reading of history has led me to the belief that when it suits the white man, he forgets all about his race, its purity and his obligations to it. He has cared little for the purity of other races. That statement can be substantiated by records too numerous to mention which are available both inside and outside of Australia. In the early days of the white settlement of this country, although Governor Phillip was not instructed to encourage Asiatic migration, he was advised to secure a sufficient number of island women to serve the needs of the men under his control. No thought was given then to the preservation of the homogeneous character of our race or of the race from which the women were to be brought. It is sufficient for the purpose of my argument to point to the growth of the half-caste population whenever the white man goes, and to the degradation of the aboriginal races where the white men walks the land. Perhaps I may be pardoned for being sceptical when this argument for the preservation of the homogeneous character of the race is advanced.
The grounds on which restriction is based may be divided into three classes, individual, economic and racial. On individual grounds, we may exclude people according to age. We may think them too old, and, therefore, not want them. We may exclude them on account of sex, but such exclusions are rare. We may exclude them because there may be a likelihood of them becoming a charge on the community. We may exclude them because of health reasons or because of illiteracy, in which case we use the dictation test. We may exclude them because of character of political convictions or because of general undesirability. We do not need to make exclusions on economic grounds now, because we have a strong trade union group in this country and good industrial laws. Exclusion on economic grounds, need not, therefore, be considered. It has been said that the Japanese have been excluded from the United States of America, that all Asiatics have been excluded from South Africa, that all coloured persons have been excluded from Colombia, and that Arabs, Syrians, Turks and Armenians have been excluded from Natal and Canada. So we may lay theflattering unction to our souls that we are no worse than are other nations in our treatment of or attitude to these people. They exclude and deport unwanted persons just as we do.
In contrast with our Australian practice the British adopt a totally different attitude towards an alien. I have before me a volume of English constitutional history in which there appear some very interesting passages. The writer states that by clause 16 of Statute 32, which was passed in the reign of Henry VIII., aliens were prohibited from doing a number of things and from enjoying certain privileges in Great Britain. At all times they were liable to be ordered by the Crown to quit the realm. That law is still in existence. The volume from which I extracted that information is an up-to-date work which is used as a text book by law students. When was the last occasion on which that provision was used? The last alien to be expelled from Great Britain was deported in 1575 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. It is recorded in this work that the British Parliament had sought by various acts to check the influx of undesirable foreigners into Great Britain, but that the privilege of asylum has never been restricted. In spite of all the attempts that have been made to exclude persons who are regarded as undesirable, the right of asylum still exists in England. We in Australia do not follow the British tradition. The Minister has said that racial prejudice is not the reason for the introduction of these bills. Nevertheless, I think that behind our immigration policy is the general prin ciple of the exclusion of Asiatics. That principle has been accepted since federation. I cannot forget that the white man forced himself upon the East and is now making laws to protect himself from the effects of his own actions. We talk boldly to-day of a world economy, but what we call a world economy is the economy of a minority. If in the development of that economy we mustbring in the people of the East, must we not extend to them our tolerance and friendship in order to establish a new era of international and inter-racial co-operation? International unity, which is so much talked about now throughout the world, cannot flourish in an atmosphere of narrowness and prejudice. World unity does not mean the unity of western civilizations, but a union of cultures and peoples all over the world. If my understanding of the Christian teaching of brotherhood and goodwill be correct, we need the help of the other peoples of the world, whether they be white, brown, black or yellow skinned, as much as they need our help to build a better world. Christianity in its beginnings was the antithesis of racial feeling. It depended upon an inward spiritual consciousness. Within the Christian group there was no Jew or Gentile, Scythian or Hellene, bond or free. It has been said that race feeling in healthy civilized societies is relatively weak, but that is grows stronger in civilizations that are in bad health or on the decline. Whether that be true or not, 1 am quite sure that nationalism and democracy are opposite tendencies. Strong national development tends towards racial feeling, but democracy turns away from it. One of the two must achieve mastery in the end. Which is it to be?
The War-time Refugees Removal Bill provides for the removal of certain persons who entered Australia during the last war. The word “ deportee “ appears to mean an alien. That is. specifically stated in clause 4 of the bill, although the definitions clause does not make it quite clear. The measure is to operate retrospectively. I have already spoken of the British attitude towards aliens, which I think should also be our attitude. This country has benefited greatly by the contributions that have been made to it by aliens in the past and is doubtless benefiting by their contributions to-day. We owe much of our democratic way of life to foreigners who came to Australia in the early days of its settlement. It is deplorable that we should frame legislation with any idea of unfriendliness towards alien peoples. I have failed to discover any reason for the introduction of this bill, or why it should be designed to operate retrospectively. If the reasons for the introduction of the bill are colour prejudice and an intention to exclude coloured people, the Government already has power to exclude them. If those are not the reasons, then the only reasons must be the character and conduct. If the character and conduct of the people who are to be deported is not in question, why cannot we follow the British tradition and give asylum and protection to those who landed on our shores in a time of emergency? If their character and conduct is in question, what the Minister thought to be good in the act of 1948 should be regarded as satisfactory now. The substitution of clause 5 of the Aliens Deportation Bill 1948 for clause 5 of this bill would meet the requirements of the Minister. When the Aliens Deportation Bill was being discussed, I questioned clause 5, because the measure contained no definition of or limitation on the aspects of character that were to be considered. It was pointed out that there was a safeguard in that the commissioner referred to in the clause was to be a judge of the Supreme Court and that no abandonment of legal principles would be considered. Finally, the Minister assured the House that the persons to be deported would have the right to the assistance of counsel or some other form of guidance. It was stated that the commissioner would, in effect, have all the powers of a royal commissioner or a select committee of inquiry of this Parliament and that he would be able to ascertain the facts of any case and report to the Minister upon them. It was stated further that in the final analysis the Parliament would have the right to pass judgment on the actions of the Minister if he abused his trust. In view of those assurances, a division was not insisted upon. When the War- time Refugees Bill is being discussed in - committee I shall move as an amendment that clause 5 of the Aliens Deportation Bill 1948 be substituted for clause 5 of this bill which will give a deportee no protection and will place absolute power in the hands of the Minister. Civil liberty and justice must be preserved, but under this bill in its present form they will not be served.
Although our standard of living must be protected, and no one is more anxious than .1 am that it shall be protected, it seems only right and proper that there’ should be world freedom of movement at a time when the countries of the world have come so close together and are coming even closer together. The great principle on which the Labour movement is founded is that of the brotherhood of man. It would be a denial of that principle and of Christian teachings if black, brown, or yellow skinned men were excluded from the brotherhood. I oppose the War-time Refugees Removal Bill in its present form.
– The honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) has made an interesting and scholarly contribution to the debate. It is a contribution that could have been made by a member of the Opposition as a logical development of the attacks that have been made by honorable gentlemen opposite for many months past, upon the administration of the Department of Immigration and the practices adopted under our immigration policy. The honorable member for Bourke has declared herself to be in favour of an alteration of our immigration practices, and to be opposed to the War-time Refugees Removal Bill. She has advanced arguments to support her contention. The central fact of this debate is that honorable gentlemen opposite, who were for some months very vocal in attacking the administration of the Department of Immigration and in condemning the practices that were adopted in pursuance of our immigration restriction laws have failed completely to stand up to the challenge which at that time they were prepared to fling at the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell). They were prepared to fling challenges at the
Minister and to denounce, in most unmeasured terms, his policy and the practices that he adopted. They were prepared to do that when they were in the safety of recess and able to make statements to newspaper reporters and in the columns of newspapers for which they got headlines and acclaim. Now the position has arisen that, owing to a judgment of the High Court, this issue has come before the Parliament of the nation. Honorable gentlemen opposite now have the opportunity, by their speeches and votes, to justify the statements that they were so eager to make and which they made in such ringing tones when the Parliament was in recess, but we find that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party, the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), have spoken in completely indecisive terms. They have not challenged in any way the practices that have been adopted under our existing immigration laws. Every other member of the Opposition apparently has been either muzzled or panicked into silence. I do not suppose that an Opposition in this Parliament has ever been so humiliated as honorable gentlemen opposite have been during this debate. The unfortunate people who were required under the provisions of our laws to leave this country when the war ended, having been admitted as refugees for the period of the war, and who have been encouraged by loud-mouthed members of the Opposition to believe that in honorable gentlemen opposite they have friends, champions and supporters, now find themselves deserted. Honorable members on the other side of the House realize that in this chamber their voices must be supported by their votes. They are afraid to stand up for the statements they made in the columns of newspapers in the security of the parliamentary recess. In this debate the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Indi have been entirely on the defensive. Neither of them is prepared to challenge any clause in the whole of this legislation. The only challenge to it has come from the Independent member for Bourke. The rest of the debate has been carried on by honorable members on this side of the House. Indeed, it has been a one-sided debate, because members of the Opposition have not been prepared to put forward even one constructive suggestion for the alteration of the national immigration policy along the lines of the statements, attacks and criticisms which they have made over the air and in the newspapers for many months. Their conduct reminds me of nothing so much as a pack of dogs of mixed breeds snarling and barking at the body of the national immigration policy until the Minister for Immigration, who appears to be in the character of a British bulldog in this matter, bared his teeth and uttered his famous challenge in these words, “ I am determined that our immigration laws and practices shall remain unchanged and unchangeable “. At that stage, the barking and snapping ceased entirely and the only comment by the Leader of the Opposition on that challenge was, “ The Minister reveals a curious state of mind, almost a touch of megalomania “. That is the sole response that the right honorable gentleman is able to make when the Minister takes up a challenge that has been so freely offered by members of the Opposition for many months, and replies to it with a challenge to them to show, in this chamber, where they stand on the national immigration policy.
The Leader of the Opposition took various small points, and criticized some of the words used by the Minister in his second-reading speech, but the right honorable gentleman did not at any stage voice any serious criticism of the arguments that had been advanced by the Minister. The Leader of the Opposition objected to the title of the War-time Refugees Removal Bill, which he said was offensive. What an extraordinary falling away from the vigour of the challenge that had been previously uttered. All that the right honorable gentleman could find to complain about was that the title of the bill, which stated in plain and undisguised terms, what the bill meant and what it would effect was objectionable. Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition was at pains to point out that, among members of the Opposition, there was no question of putting aside the national immigration policy. The right honorable gentleman said, in effect, “ Every one on this side of the House is wholeheartedly in favour of the policy and practices and administration which this legislation re-affirms “. The reason is that no honorable member opposite is prepared to raise his voice against it.
– Does not that fact please the honorable member?
– It does not please me to see men so craven that they are not prepared, in this chamber, to repeat statements which they have made outside of it. It does not please me to see people, who have been brought to this country at their own request during a war-time emergency, and who are now required to leave it, being made the playthings of politicians on the other side of the chamber. Honorable members opposite filled such people with the hope that they would be allowed to remain here, and told them through the columns of the press, which had taken up their cause, that they were being subjected to a grave injustice. Those tactics have caused our immigration policy to be completely misunderstood overseas. Honorable members opposite did those things for the sake of cheap and temporary publicity in the editorial columns of their own newspapers. Now, they run away from what they previously said. No, that does not please me at all.
– It does not please us to hear the honorable member twist our words.
– Order! The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) must refrain from interjecting.
– But the honorable member for Eden-Monaro is twisting our words.
– Order! The honorable member must remain silent.
– The Leader of the Opposition complained that the Minister for Immigration had attempted, from time to time, to raise a party issue where none existed’, and to create outside Australia an impression that there is in this Parliament a general attack by the Opposition on the national immigration policy. The Leader of the Opposition described that attempt as gratuitous as it is mischievous. In that statement, the right honorable gentleman raised two issues. The first was that this subject has been made a party issue; and the second, that a false impression has been created outside Australia about our national immigration policy. In each instance the Leader of the Opposition has placed the blame on the Minister. What are the facts? No honorable member has been able to quote an instance of a departure by the Minister from the accepted practice, policy and administration of this law since the inception of federation. The Minister has not departed from the practices which have governed our policy of restricted immigration since federation. How, then, ha« the Minister made it a party issue? He has exactly administered the policy on lines that have been followed by every Minister in charge of immigration since federation. Yet he has been accused foy the Leader of the Opposition of making our national immigration policy a party issue. There if not the slightest doubt that our national immigration policy has been made a party issue, but it is clear that the Minister cannot be held responsible for that, when he is merely carrying out exactly the national policy and practice that all previous Ministers in charge of immigration have followed. Therefore, if the Minister has not made this a party issue, who has? Again there is not the slightest doubt about the answer. The responsibility rests with every member of the Opposition who has sought to make party political capital out of the misfortune and unhappiness of those people who were brought to this country under a definite agreement to leave it after the war. Honorable members opposite have encouraged those refugees to raise their voices, and to try to remain in this country. They have sought, by other means, to gain cheap popularity, and have converted what should be the national policy, on which all of us should stand united, into a party political issue.
The second charge that has been made by the Leader of the Opposition also properly lies at his door and at the door of every member of the Opposition who hae taken a similar stand in asserting that a false impression of the immigration policy of this country has been created outside Australia. Who has done that? The Minister is certainly not responsible. He has administered the law exactly, and has carried out exactly the practices that have been followed by all previous Ministers in charge of immigration since federation. Yet, a most unfortunate impression has been created in other countries that some new policy, deliberately aimed at our northern neighbours, has been adopted by the present Government and the Minister. How could1 that impression possibly have been conveyed to any other country unless it was conveyed from this country? How could that impression have been conveyed from this country unless by those who, inside this country, have raised this issue, endorsed it, made charges and, with the aid of their newspaper friend’s, had those charges cabled abroad ? The people in this country who raised this issue are entirely responsible for the false impression that has been created overseas against the Commonwealth immigration law. That false impression can have harmful effects on the relations of this country with other countries.
The Leader of the Opposition went a little way towards indicating his real attitude on this matter. After having declared the policy of the Opposition to be completely in conformity with the national immigration restriction law he said that it ought to be that sensible administration which claps the telescope to the blind eye. He then asked, in effect, “What harm would have come to Australia if one family prohibited to remain here by the immigration policy, had been permitted to remain here permanently ? “ In those words, the Leader of the Opposition managed to bring himself to the crux of whatever arguments he had. He said-
That is where the present Minister has failed, not frequently I concede, but in a few eases which have attracted wide attention and have given rise to damaging misunderstandings.
To the extent that those cases had attracted wide attention and given rise to damaging misunderstanding, the Opposition itself is undoubtedly responsible. But to the extent that the Leader of the Opposition says that, while the policy and practices should not be altered the Minister should clap the telescope to hig blind eye and refuse to see the cases that are before his official notice, the Leader of the Opposition shows both his weakness and his inconsistency in this matter. When the right honorable gentleman say? that the Minister has failed, in a few cases, he speaks only about the few cases of which he himself has any knowledge. He cannot possibly speak of any other cases. However, he has said that, in respect of the cases of which he has a knowledge and which received publicity in the newspapers, thus creating some sentimental feelings for the persons who are involved the Minister should disobey the law, clap the telescope to hit blind eye, and reverse the practice which has been followed since federation. The Leader of the Opposition considers that the Minister should allow those people to remain here. But what of the thousands of other cases in which there may be equal hardship and equally unfortunate circumstances? The Leader of the Opposition can have no personal knowledge of them. Only the Minister himself and his departmental officers have a knowledge of all those cases. In other words, the only inference that can be drawn from the right honorable gentleman’s words is that, in every case were there is some degree of hardship, or where sentimental feelings have been evoked, the national immigration policy and practice should be put aside and those people should be permitted to reside here permanently. Of course, there are many thousands of persons in that category.
To show the complete inconsistency of the Opposition in this matter and its obvious attempt to turn an article of national faith and policy into a plaything of party politics for its own advantage, no matter how much disadvantage Australia suffers in the process, I should like to quote some examples of the previous administration of this policy by members of the political parties that now form the Opposition in this Parliament. The criticism that has been voiced in the Gamboa case and the O’Keefe case suggests that nothing similar has occurred in our history. I propose to examine the cases of two Europeans, Egon Kisch and Mrs. Freer. Kisch was deported and Mrs.
Freer was excluded by the decision of a non-Labour government. Mrs. Freer was a British subject who was travelling on a British ship and who held a British passport. She was refused admission into Australia, a British dominion. The then Minister for the Interior, Mr. Paterson, who was in charge of immigration, was a member of the Australian Country party. He refused to permit Mrs. Freer to enter Australia, and for a long time, he even declined to give any reason whatever for his decision. In his action in excluding that British woman, who travelled to Australia on a British ship and possessed a British passport, Mr. Paterson was supported by many men who are to-day members of the Opposition parties.
– Hear, hear!
– A little later, I shall repeat what the honorable member for Barker said about the Freer case. When he affirms a view, he maintains that view, so long as he believes it to be correct, and, when he considers that the view that he has expressed is, after all, the wrong view, which, I imagine, is rare, he has the courage to change his mind and state what he then believes to bc the right view. Mr. McCall, who was, in those days, the very young and able member for Martin, but who has been succeeded by a far more able man in the present honorable member for that constituency, asked the Minister who was then administering our immigration laws, Mr. Paterson, a question, and the Minister replied as follows : -
The Immigration Act empowers the Minister in charge of Immigration to exercise his discretion in the matter of excluding from Australia persons whose entry he lias reasons to believe would not be in the best interests of the Commonwealth.
When he would not give any reason for his decision, he was asked by Mr. Nairn, who was either an independent-
– The honorable member is thinking of Mr. Nairn’s brother. The Mr. Nairn who was a member of the House of Representatives never changed his spots.
– Then he was different from some other honorable members on the Opposition side of the chamber. Anyway, he was a member of the then government party and he represented Perth. He asked this question -
As publicity has been given to the case of Mrs. Freer, does the honorable gentleman not think it would be better in the public interest to disclose the grounds upon which he exercised his discretion in excluding her from the Commonwealth?
Mr. Paterson replied ;
I have nothing to add to the reply I have made to the honorable member for Martin.
What Mr. Paterson told the then honorable member for Martin was exactly nothing. His attitude was completely supported by honorable members who then occupied the government benches, but who are now in the shades of opposition where they are likely to remain for a long time. Mr. Paterson even refused to put the papers about the case on the table. He went on to say -
The most jealously guarded privilege we have in this country is the right to exclude from it persons who may be regarded as undesirable.
That is a clear statement from the antiLabour side on the basis of our immigration law and its administration. That most jealously guarded privilege to which Mr. Paterson referred is apparently not so regarded to-day by some honorable gentlemen opposite, because, in the last few months, they have almost constantly attacked it. I wonder whether they will have the courage to rise in this House and express the opinions that they undoubtedly secretly hold. The Prime Minister of the day, the late Mr. J. A. Lyons, in reply to Mr. Lane, who then represented Barton, declared -
There is no doubt whatever about the legal and constitutional right of the Com mon weal u Government to exclude anybody from Australia.
In the Sydney Morning Herald, of the 6th November, 1936, Sir Robert Garran, who was then Solicitor-General of the Commonwealth, gave his opinion in these words -
Shortly, my conclusions are - no one, British or foreign, white or coloured, not being a member of the Australian community, has a legal right to claim admission to the Commonwealth . . The right to refuse admission v rightly vested in the Minister . . .
How can those who in the past subscribed to those opinions and even praised the government that carried out those practices now justify their dispicable attitude in attacking the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) for having carried out exactly the same practices in his administration of exactly the same policy? In expressing their opinions about the Minister’s administration of the policy, honorable members opposite have fouled the name of Australia overseas and have led people overseas to place a completely false interpretation on what has been recently done in Australia. I come now to what was said by the honorable member for Barker. Doubtless, he will recall having said it. Speaking about the Kisch case, the honorable member said -
Wc have the right to determine what persons shall come into the country and enjoy the benefits of a stay here.
As he always does, the honorable member expressed himself perfectly clearly and left no possibility of his words being misunderstood. It is possible that the honorable member has repudiated the attacks of his colleagues in recent months on the Minister for Immigration because that honorable gentleman has administered the Immigration Act in a way exactly similar to the way in which it was administered in the days of the days of Kisch and Freer incidents. I admit that I have not read anywhere that he has repudiated their statements. It is quite possible, if he has not already repudiated them, that he will repudiate them in the course of this debate. I shall be interested to hear the contributions to this debate of those honorable members opposite who were so vocal during the parliamentary recess about the administration of the Immigration Act by the Minister for Immigration - if they have the courage to express themselves or are allowed to do so. So far, while this measure has been debated they have been conspicuous by their absence from the chamber.
– And by their silence.
– Yes. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) was also quite clear in his opinions about the Kisch case, for he said -
Parliament has declared its policy and reinforced - if I may use the expression - the right of every civilized country to control the terms upon which foreigners shall enter it. We have, as an independent country, a perfect right to indicate whether an alien shall or shall not be admitted within these shores..
In this debate, the Leader of the Opposition was followed, on the Opposition side of the chamber, by the honorable member for Indi, and therefore, I propose also to quote some statements that he made, having just quoted a statement that was made by the Leader of the Opposition. At that time, the honorable member for Indi was Minister for the Interior. He made a statement about Europeans who urgently desired refuge in Australia. Their circumstances were somewhat different from the circumstances of certain people to whom we gave refuge during the war. But, in their years of travail, the honorable -member, exercising his authority as Minister for the Interior, in which capacity he was in charge of the administration of the Immigration Act, denied them the right to come to Australia for even a limited period. He said -
Desperate as is the need of these unfortunate people it is not the intention of the Government to issue permits for entry, influenced hy the necessity of individual cases.
To-day, honorable members of the Opposition are very much in favour of being “ influenced by the necessity of individual cases “ and are quite ready to determine that necessity without knowing, the full facts of the individual cases. The Minister has been criticized on the ground that all the facts have not been given to the public. The Opposition is very insistent that they should be given. But, in 1934, Mr. Casey, who was then Treasurer and is now the federal president of the Liberal party of Australia, said -
Governments have to take many measures which cannot be made public. They have to use sources of information of which the general public cannot he made aware.
When further discussing the Kisch case in that year, Mr. Casey declared -
The Attorney-General, Mr. Menzies, lias assured the House that information is in his possession which completely justifies the exclusion of this man. In the circumstances i suggest that honorable members and particularly the Leader of the Opposition, should be willing to accept that statement.
– I do not think they did accept it.
– Honorable members of the present Opposition have not accepted it. That is in complete contradiction of their statements when they were in power and were defending the national policy. The honorable member for Barker, in 1936, expressed a view which could be more appropriately expressed to-day. At that time, he was speaking of the exclusion of the British woman, Mrs. Freer. He said -
The issue arising in this case is very simple. The Government has exercised its right and its discretion. The Minister has done his job and instead of being criticized for having done it, this Parliament as a whole and the taxpayers of this country should commend him for his action.
In other words, Mr. Paterson should have been commended for having prevented a British woman from entering Australia to marry an Australian soldier, whilst the present Minister for Immigration is to be criticized for having excluded Sergeant Gamboa and for wishing to return Mrs. O’Keefe to her own country. As neither of those persons are British, the Immigration Act does not permit them to be in Australia. In order to make the record as complete as I can, t propose to quote from recent statements of the honorable member foi Warringah (Mr. Spender). According to the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 19 th March last, during discussions about the O’Keefes, the honorable member for Warringah declared - and I have not seen any correction of the report - that the Minister for Immigration’s “ inelastic and blundering “ approach to the question of selective immigration was undermining the White Australia policy. That statement was made when the honorable member was complaining that Australia’s policy was being undermined because consideration and sympathy were not being shown to certain Asians. More friendship and more kindness were demanded.
– I was correctly reported.
– I shall be interested to hear the honorable member’s explanation of his remarks. In a second statement made on the 5th January, about two months earlier, the honorable gentleman demanded more friendship from Australia to Asians. On that occasion, the Sydney Daily Mirror was the vehicle for his views. It reported that the honorable gentleman had complained about the Government’s attitude of friendship to the Indonesian Government. It was too friendly, he declared, and he added that this friendly attitude was making Australia a pawn in the game of Asian nationalism and would spell the end of the White Australia policy.
– I said nothing of the sort.
– The honorable member has had six months in which to correct the report, if it was incorrect. It was published in 350,000 copies of the Daily Mirror. I have not yet seen any correction of it. I conclude on this note. The Australian people wish to maintain their national immigration policy. We have every opportunity to do so, hut only if we are prepared to work to develop this country into the great nation which it can be, and into the only form of nationhood that can indefinitely maintain such a national immigration policy. We need, in this country, for the preservation of our national immigration policy and of ourselves as a race, a capacity to work for, and to believe in, Australia, as well as a readiness to welcome every immigrant who is assimilable into our community. We also require a passionate faith and belief in our own country and its possibilities.
Motion (by Mr. Spender) negatived -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– Until to-night I had not taken part in any of the discussions regarding this matter that have taken place in this chamber, and I would not have risen to speak to-night except for the criticism and misstatements of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser). The comments that he made were in no way constructive or informative, but from the start he tried to whip up party political feelings. He spoke about the Opposition trying to turn this into a party political issue. I believe that honorable members on both sides of the House have not heard for a long time a speech that was more designed to whip up some ]wind of party issue than was the speech which the honorable gentleman has just delivered. In fact, he did nothing else during his speech. He had no foundation whatever for what he said about the Opposition. I have been in this House at every sitting and have watched very closely what has been happening, and I desire to relate what has really occurred in connexion with the present bill and the debates that took place on other and similar matters, because it is only by considering events in a clear light that it is possible to gain some idea of the truth. I do not want to introduce politics into the matter like the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has done. As far as I can see the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) made an attempt to deport a Mrs. O’Keefe. The members of the Opposition at different times objected to this proposed action because they did not believe that the Minister had the power under the act to deport that woman.
– Oh yes they did. They merely thought that I should not do it.
– On numerous occasions Opposition members expressed the opinion to which I have referred.
– They have not !
– The Opposition did not want the Minister to put the widow of a former serviceman in the forces of one of our allies out of the country, when the act did not permit the deportation of such a person. Of course, the Opposition’s contention proved very sound, because Mrs. O’Keefe appealed to the High Court of Australia, which ruled that the Minister was not empowered to effect her deporation.
– No body was more surprised at the court’s decision than was the Opposition.
– No one was more surprised than was the Minister. If he had not been surprised and if he had known the act well he would not have attempted to effect her deportation without first bringing before the Parliament the measure that we are now discussing. No Minister of the Crown would attempt to act as the Minister acted, if he had been correctly advised regarding the powers contained in the legislation under which he had hoped to effect the deportation. On this side of the House we have a number of honorable members who are familiar with the acts on the statute-book, who said at the time that they thought that the Minister was not acting within his rights in attempting to deport Mrs. O’Keefe. Every honorable member, even the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who would1 not mention the matter to-night, knows that the contention of these honorable members has been proved correct. Then there was the Gamboa case. That was a case that honorable members on this side of the House thought justified the exercise of some discretion by the Minister.
– The honorable member is against the White Australia policy.
– The Minister has been saying that sort of thing for a long time.
– .Gamboa was a sergeant in the forces of a former ally of Australia, and some discretion could have been exercised in his case. The main thing that the Minister and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro are trying to do - perhaps I may not include the Minister at this stage, because I think he is sometimes a reasonable individual - is to convince the people that honorable members on this side of the House do not favour the White Australia policy.
– Honorable members opposite voted against it once.
– Everybody knows that right from the inception of the policy the parties now represented on this side of the House have rigidly supported it. Every time a speaker on this side of the House has risen to his feet during debates concerning those deportations he has always stated that he has stood for the White Australia policy. But we believe that the Minister could have exercised’ some discretion and that lie should’ not have attempted to effect a deportation that the act did not give him power to effect. Now the Minister has introduced another bill so as to bring into existence machinery that will make the deportation possible. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro had a great deal of audacity to make the speech that he made to-night. It was on a level with every speech that I have heard him make in this House. Nobody can accuse me of bringing personalities into the speeches that I make in this House, but I believe that if the Government desires party political feeling to be whipped up it could do no better than to get the honorable member for EdenMonaro on his feet. If the Government wants a lack of information and no constructive proposals in a speech, the same thing applies. It is ridiculous for anybody to say that the parties represented on this side of the House do not support the White Australia policy. As I have said, I have not taken any part in debates about this matter prior to to-night, and I did not intend to speak on it to-night, but I always believe in fair play. But when an honorable member tries to hit below the belt - and no one could say that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro was acting in fair play - I am apt to become worked up about it. The speech which the honorable gentleman delivered to-night contained statements that I, at least, could not tolerate, even in this Parliament, and I therefore had to reply to them. I have heard all sorts of abuse from the Labour party ranks in this Parliament, but I have not heard any other honorable member make such an attempt as the honorable member for Eden-Monaro made to-night to whip up some kind of party feeling.
– What did he say? I did not hear him.
– If the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) had been here he would have heard him. I am not going to repeat the speech in detail now. I say very definitely that every honorable member on the Government side knows in his own heart that members of the Opposition strongly support the White Australia policy. They know that everything that has been said on this side of the House during debates on these particular matters was in the best interests of Australia and the Empire, and they know that as far as patriotism and devotion to the principles of this great country are concerned our record compared with that of any other party, government, or opposition is unparalleled in the history of Australia.
– I desire to move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– Order! The honorable member for Warringah is only trifling with the Standing Orders.
– With great respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I say that I am. not trifling with the Standing Orders.
-Order! The honorable member moved not long ago that the debate be adjourned and the question was decided in the negative.
– The honorable member for Warringah only “ blew in “ this afternoon.
– The honorable member for Hume should blow out.
– Order ! The honorable member may not move the adjournment of the debate a second time. His previous motion has already been voted upon by the House.
– I desire to take a point of order. My point of order concerns the subject of the adjournment of a debate. Standing Order 288 reads -
A debate may be adjourned either to a later hour of the same day, or to any other day.
You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have said that I was trifling with the Standing Orders. With great respect, I say that I am seeking to assert my rights. Either the House will refuse these rights or it will not. It is true that I moved a few minutes ago that the debate be adjourned. If your ruling be correct that the adjournment of a debate cannot be moved again, then nobody is entitled, during the same evening, to move that the debate be adjourned. There is no prohibition upon my moving the adjournment of the debate at any particular time. The time is now 10.55 p.m., which I consider is an appropriate time for the debate to be adjourned, and I am entitled to have that motion put to the House. Standing Order 289 says that the member-
-Order ! I consider that the honorable member is proceeding with this matter unnecessarily. He has already moved a motion in conformity with the Standing Orders of the ^Parliament. If he were to move a similar motion a few moments afterwards it would be a dilatory motion, and he is not entitled to move such a motion.
– May I ask a question ?
– I have al ready given a ruling, and the honorable member is not entitled to ask a question on that matter.
– I am not asking-
– The honorable member for Wimmera bad the floor.
– The honorable member for “Wimmera has finished his speech.
Motion (by Mr. Calwell) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– I rise to order.
– Order ! The honorable member’s point of order is on the same matter upon which I have already given a ruling.
– It is not. My point of order concerns the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), who has just moved the adjournment of the debate. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have said that the honorable member for Warringah cannot move a motion, but apparently the Minister is to be allowed to do so. How can it be that one honorable member has not the right to move that the debate be adjourned but that the Minister has the right to do so? May I point out that if the Minister obtains the adjournment, no other member can speak on this matter?
– The Minister has the call and he has moved that the debate be adjourned, and I shall therefore put the question to the House.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 9th June (vide page 814), on motion by Mr. Calwell -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This is a savage piece of legislation. It should be called “Reprisals Against Mrs. O’Keefe Bill “ It reeks of venom and spite. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) has been frustrated, so he turns what should have been an ordinary act of administration into a personal vendetta against a woman he has never met. When the High Court of Australia ruled against him, he was consumed with a personal hatred of Mrs. O’Keefe. She had appealed to the highest judicial body in Australia, and had won. That was sufficient to earn the undying enmity of the Minister. He must have his revenge. He had to show her that, no matter what the High Court of Australia said, he was the final authority. Once he said that this lady had to go, she had to go. It did not matter if he dragged down the Government in the process. He had to get his revenge. It did not matter that the platform of the Labour party says that the High Court of Australia should be the final court of appeal. It did not matter that a fundamental principle of justice is that no person shall be tried twice for the same offence. It did not matter that this woman, having established her right of residence by an appeal to the High Court of Australia, should have been left undisturbed. It did not matter that the principle established in the Walsh-J Johanson case might be placed in jeopardy. All those considerations were thrown overboard in order that the Minister might wreak his petty spite on one person. That is why this legislation is to be retrospective in operation, and why it is aimed specifically at a lady called Mrs. O’Keefe.
The Minister is going to show the High Court of Australia that he is not to be trifled with. That is in accordance with his code of inverted justice. Legislation designed to deal with individual cases, instead of with principles, is generally bad. When it is the outcome of a personal grudge it is always bad. No one will quarrel with the principle that a government must retain, the right to decide whom it will admit to the country. That is a sound principle. No one will quarrel with the principle that a government has the right to deport those who violate the laws of the country, if they are not nationals of the country. The O’Keefe case is not touched by either of those principles. Mrs. O’Keefe had been in Australia for a number of years. She had violated no law of Australia. It is this bill, introduced by the Minister for Immigration, that will make her a lawbreaker. The bill has been introduced for the deliberate purpose of making her a law-breaker. Our immigration law was never brought into serious question until the present Minister assumed office. It is not the law that is at fault, but the administration of the law by the Minister for Immigration.
The Minister talked glibly and hypocritically about the law being inflexible, and suggested that if he deviated by a hair’s breadth from the letter of the law he would bring down the entire legal edifice. What arrant humbug! Such a statement proves that the Minister is ignorant of the principle of statute law. Our statute law provides the death penalty for murder, rape, and a number of other offences. Under the law, a presiding judge has no alternative but to -pass the death sentence on any one convicted of a capital offence. But the Labour party is opposed to the death penalty. During the war, the Curtin Government, in two instances, prevented the death penalty from being inflicted on naval ratings. Since then, doubts have arisen about their guilt. Does the Minister for Immigration say that the Curtin Government was wrong because those two naval ratings did not die? Although the law provides the death penalty for certain offences, all governments have recognized what are known as mitigating circumstances. If the Attorney-General were to insist upon the letter of the law being observed, the death sentence would not only be imposed on persons convicted of capital offences, but it would also be carried out in all cases; yet, as everybody knows, that is not done. Governments have always reserved to themselves the right to review death sentences in the light of circumstances, and in many cases justice has been tempered with mercy. Indeed, that is one of the highest prerogatives of government. Of all possible alleviating circumstances, that of our common humanity is the greatest, and it should have been a ground for clemency towards Mrs. O’Keefe. It is only because the Minister blundered in his administration that the Government now finds itself in a legal quagmire.
Every Australian with an instinct for fair play will say that the Government has acted wrongly in allowing the Minister to pursue this one-sided vendetta. Australians despise a bad loser. The Minister lost when he tried to run Mrs. O’Keefe and her family out of Australia. Now he is resorting to the black-jack of personal legislation, and the Government is making itself a party to this petty tyranny. The attitude of the Government is contemptible. There is no need for this bill. The issues raised before the High Court would never have been raised if the law had been administered fairly, and with common sense. If an attempt were made to administer every law inflexibly according to the letter of it, then every law would be challenged in the courts on some ground or other. This Parliament has enacted many laws providing penalties, but it has always been understood that the King may exercise clemency. Therefore, it is the custom in Australia for the Governor-General to review sentences. That is going on all the time and I challenge the Government to deny it.
In considering this legislation, it becomes necessary for me to ask the Parliament whether or not the present Minister has shown himself to be a fit and proper person to exercise the powers that are to be conferred upon him by this measure. If he proposes to use them as a repressive instrument, he should not be vested with them. If he refuses to recognize that it is his job to see that there is no miscarriage of justice, he should not administer this legislation. He has approached the problem of administration with a split persecution complex. He apparently believes that he is the victim of persecution, and that he should get even with society by persecuting those who happen to cross his path. So, he puts himself forward as a victim of vicious newspaper persecution. Yet, on the other hand, he goes to the extreme length of trying to curry favour with the same newspapers. He has two huge departments which constantly feed hia alleged persecutors with carefully prepared handouts. If he regards that as persecution, all I can say is that be is a glutton for punishment. He would have us believe that the “ Manila girls “ plotted with the American army to persecute him, and that he was the victim of a terrible persecution. He would have us believe that some of them went through the form of marriage in order to thwart him, so to get his revenge he tried to drag them back to this country against their will. He tried to use the American army to accomplish his purpose. When the Americans refused, he insisted that they were in a conspiracy against him. Is the
Minister, who is looking everywhere for foul conspirators against his ministerial authority, a proper person to exercise the powers which this measure proposes to confer upon him? In the Gamboa case, once again he would have us believe that cloak and dagger men were after him. This time they were again in the ranks of the American army. They belonged to General MacArthur’s personal staff. The Minister screeched to the world press, through an American press agency, of course, that there was another foul plot afoot against him. The same story was told over again about the O’Keefes. He would have us believe that Mrs. O’Keefe’s husband conspired with her in order to defeat the law ; but the High Court said that the law had not been broken. So, how could there have been a foul conspiracy against him? He would have had us believe that Mrs. O’Keefe’s religious adviser, the local parish priest, conspired against him and tried to persecute him. He would have us believe that the hundreds who subscribed to the fund to help this poor woman also conspired against him. I have no doubt that the neighbourhood children who played with the O’Keefe children must also have been in the conspiracy because they were on Mrs. O’Keefe’s side and not on the Minister’s side. The newspapers which reported the Minister’s many garbled statements were also in the foul conspiracy. Any medium that puts forward a point of view different from that of the Minister must be in the plot. If the newspapers had really wanted to persecute him they could have failed to publish his handouts. That would have been a mortal blow. That would have been real persecution. That explains his approach to this bill. It is his counterpersecution.
Although Mrs O’Keefe has broken no Commonwealth law, she must suffer. She stood up against the Minister, so she must be dumped back in a hostile country among people who may regard her as an enemy for all the Minister knows or cares. She must be separated from her husband. Her home must be broken up. If this Parliament believes in freedom and fair play and in humanitarian government, it will not stand for such political sadism. It will no’; stand for the twisting of the law to satisfy the revenge motive. It may he desirable to consider the appointment of a separate “ Minister for deportation “ as well as a Minister for Immigration. One Minister would be bringing in immigrants and the other would be deporting them. Both of them would have a full-time job, and they would both have fully-staffed departments. If the Government desires to see justice done, the powers proposed to be conferred by this measure should not be vested in the present Minister. He should not be placed in a position of having to review his own blunders or even the mistakes of his predecessors. There is ample precedent for such a procedure. In New South Wales it is the function of the Attorney-General to frame the law and to see that it is enforced through the courts. Then there is a Minister for Justice to see that people are not only dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the law, but also, and above all, in accordance with the principles of justice. The Minister for Justice sees to it that punishment is made to fit the crime, taking into consideration all the circumstances. That is a sound principle that might well be applied in this instance.
Is it not the duty of this Parliament to honour moral obligations that were assumed during the war? Those obligations are two-fold. First, there is the obligation of the individual to honour the bonds of matrimony. When those bonds have been solemnized by the church and fulfilled by the parties to the marriage surely there is a case against the Commonwealth smashing such honorable undertakings. If we are to maintain this country as a Christian country, and if we are to uphold the ethics of religion, surely we will not ruthlessly destroy such marriages. Should not every case be judged in the light of all the known facts? This is not a job for a Minister of the Crown. It may be a job for a member of the judiciary who is granted discretionary power. It may even be a matter that should be entrusted to responsible religious authorities for their consideration of each individual case. It is certainly not a matter for rule-of-thumb departmental administration without an investigation of each in dividual case. Secondly, there is the other important moral obligation that rests upon every member of this Parliament to those who individually served with the Australian armed forces during the war - the people who risked their lives to defend this country. In Mrs. O’Keefe’s case, it was her first husband who forfeited his life. Had he lived he would have been deported with her and there may not have been the same ground for public concern on the first issue I have raised. Is it not fair to ask ourselves whether we do not owe a heavy obligation to those who went into battle in Australian uniforms and fought side by side with Australians in order to save this country? Could not such an obligation be fairly advanced as a reasonable ground for special consideration in cases where marriages have been contracted with Australians and residence established? In addition, should we not give some consideration to the plight of the women who married these men while they were serving with the Australian forces at a time when we were under the impact of war ?
This measure has been framed to deal specifically with people who came here for sanctuary during the war. That is all the more reason why they should be regarded as cases not likely to recur. If the Government has no objection to an Asiatic coming here to establish himself in business or commerce and marrying here or bringing his wife here, there is all the more reason why it should be consistent and regard the cases that have arisen out of war conditions as calling for special consideration.
This Government is not and never has been consistent on the White Australia front. Measures such as these are dangerous in that they are bringing the White Australia policy under fire throughout the Orient. Indiscretions, such as that of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who claimed that the White Australia policy is racial and not economic, are even more dangerous to the future of this country. Let us by all means make certain that we rigidly regulate entry into this country in accordance with the policy that has never been questioned in the past. But when it comes to dealing with those who have already established residence here, who have been good citizens and have honored their family obligations and respected the laws of this country, let us deal with those few cases on their merits, with discretion and in accordance with the overriding consideration of humanity and decency. Finally, I should like to know how this Government squares this piece of legislation, which discriminates against a few selected individuals, with the obligations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This Government was a signatory of that declaration. Its Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) was one of the fathers of the declaration. This measure is resigned to appease the wounded pride of the Minister for Immigration and to satisfy his lust for revenge, and it is a complete repudiation of this country’s obligation under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the preamble of which reads -
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity, and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family, is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world, whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.
The nations then entered into a number of solemn contractual obligations. Article 2 of the declaration reads as follows : -
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, with out distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
This Government signed that declaration. Lt initiated the obligations. Was it only paying lip-service to them, or did it believe that they applied only to other members and not to itself? If that is to be its attitude, what humbug it is! ^ I refer the Government to Article 11, which guarantees that every one is entitled to full equality and to a fair and public bearing by an independent and impartial tribunal in .the determination of his rights; to Article 14, which guarantees freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State; to Article 15, which guarantees that every one has the right to seek’ and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution; and, in particular to Article 17. That article reads as follows : -
1 ) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. . . .
The family is the natural and fundamental group of society, and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
What would be Australia’s position if Mrs. O’Keefe were to take her case to the Court of International Justice? Would the Minister for Immigration be sent overseas to defend .the case ? I know that he would not like to place his trust in the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt). He has already publicly shown his hostility to that right honorable gentleman. It would be useless for the Government to plead that these are domestic matters, because the Soviet Union has made that plea too often. In fact, this Government has been accused of intruding into the domestic affairs of other countries. This legislation is discriminatory against the nationals of certain other countries, and it will be judged on that basis. This Government is in danger of being the first government to be convicted of repudiating .the contractual obligations of the charter. It is just taking up a. “ mugwump “ stand. Why should it deliberately court the enmity of Asian countries by persevering with such a vicious undermining of the principles of human justice? The Minister, by this bill, is dragging the principles of Labour into the gutter. Labour has always stood for fair play and a “ fair go “ for. the underdog. This is just “ putting the boot in “ because it is thought that these people are down. The Governmentis exhibiting a fascist mentality, a warped and twisted fanaticism, and. a maniacal urge to hurt deeply by depriving a defenceless woman of her home and her family life. All this is to be done with the majesty and force of legislative sanction. Could anything be more loathsome than the clothing of such petty revenge, in the garb of governmental deliberation, and decision?. Those honorable members on the Government side of the House who still retain spine manly self-respect should call the Minister’s bluff and put an end to his despicable reign of personal terror^ ism against a handful pf unfortunate victims of war. The truth is, of course, that the Minister only gets away with it because the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) stands behind him, either because he approves of every thing that the Minister does or because he is afraid of him. The right honorable gentleman can take his choice.
Motion (by Mr. Spender) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Majority . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. Calwell) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Majority . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Dedman) read a first time.
Coal Strike: Press Report1 - The Parliament: Broadcasting or Proceedings - Mr. A. A. Calwell, M.P. Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.-I wish to raise a matter of misreporting in the Tasmanian and Victorian press of to-day. The report refers to a meeting of the Federal Parliamentary Labour party in Canberra yesterday. In the course of the report in the Hobart Mercury and the Melbourne Sun-News Pictorial these words appear -
Caucus members estimated that . . .
The name of an honorable member is then mentioned’, and the report continues - would have received support from at least nine members who voted for him in the Caucus room last week. A vote was not taken because of lack of time. The members believed to support . . . are Messrs. Duthie (Tasmania) . . .
The report then mentioned six other members of the Parliamentary Labour party. The inference to be drawn from the report is that I opposed the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Bill, which caucus considered yesterday morning. The facts are that I supported the bill on the voices in caucus and again in this chamber. One wonders whether such tactics are being employed to endeavour to defeat members of the Labour party. This report, which appeared in the two newspapers I have mentioned, .came from the same source in Canberra, and the effect of it is that I am opposed to the Government on this matter. The truth is that I am with the Government up to the hilt. It is all very well for members of the Opposition to treat this matter lightly, but they do not suffer the same fate as members of the Labour party unfortunately have to suffer at the hands of the press. Time after time honorable members on this side of the chamber have to face this almost deliberate misrepresentation of statements that they make. Remarks are attributed to us that we have not made. One can only come to the conclusion that there is intent behind those tactics to damage members of the Labour party politically. We have to make personal explanations in order to make our position clear, and we have to get in touch with the editors of the newspapers concerned to have the matter ‘ corrected. Even the Prime Minister “ (Mr. Chifley) has had that experience. However, the correction does not receive ‘ the same publicity as is given to the mis- - statements, despite our efforts to have ltplaced in the same position in the newspaper in which the misstatements’ appeared. To-night, I interviewed the gentleman who was responsible for sending this report from Canberra, and he has promised to send to the Hobart Mercury and the Melbourne Sun-News Pictorial a message to the effect that I have stated that I was wrongly reported and adding that I support the Government completely on the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Bill. This matter may not seem important to honorable members opposite, who do not suffer from misreporting; but actually these incidents have a very bad effect on the public mind and damage a member politically. The misrepresentation invariably occurs in the case of members of the Labour party.
– No, members of the Labour party have not a monopoly of misrepresentation.
– In this instance, we have almost a complete monopoly, and the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) will have difficulty in denying it. Members of the Labour party will experience a great deal more misrepresentation with the approach of the general election. I shall not say that the incident in which I am involved was malicious, but the effect can be malicious. I emphasize that I supported the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Bill in the party room and in this House. I deprecate strongly the publication of this inaccurate and utterly untruthful report in the Hobart Mercury and the Melbourne Sun-News Pictorial.
– The remarks of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) give point to another complaint. The honorable member claims that he has been misreported in a newspaper and that his later contradiction will not necessarily be read by all the people who read the original report. That statement is perfectly true. However, members of the Parliament have an instrument - the broadcasting system - which enables honorable gentlemen on both sides of the chamber to have a fair opportunity to place their views before the same audience. I take exception to certain action by the Government that denies to a member of the Opposition or to any honorable member who is opposed to ito views the right to have his opinion broadcast.
– Order! The honorable member is reflecting upon a vote of the House.
– I am not reflecting upon a vote of the House.
– Order ! I call the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang).
– I rise to order, if I may be permitted to do so. I think that I have that right under the Standing Orders.
– Yes, that is so.
– I should like you to tell me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in what way I have infringed the rules of the House so as to cause you to order me to resume my seat. I did not refer to a vote of the House, and I was about to proceed to a question-
– The honorable member is not entitled by any means or subterfuge to endeavour to’ reflect upon a vote of the House. The Chair is of opinion that he is directly reflecting upon a recent vote of the House.
– But I am not.
-Order! The Chair has ruled otherwise.
– Then I can only voice my protest.
Mr. LANG (Reid) [11.57 J. -I desire to direct your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and that of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), to an incident which occurred earlier this evening. When the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) began her speech, the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) deliberately left the chair that he had been occupying at the table and joined another honorable member in conversation on the treasury bench. The honorable member for Bourke then asked a question, but the Minister deliberately walked across the chamber towards the Opposition benches. The Minister’s chair at the table was empty. The Minister for Immigration then deliberately sat in the Speaker’s gallery and conversed with some strangers, with his back to the House and the honorable member for Bourke. The Minister’s chair at the table was vacant until the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) entered the chamber, saw the position and immediately occupied that chair. Shortly afterwards the honorable member for Bourke resumed her seat. The occupant of the Speaker’s chair then rose to put the motion that the bill be read a second time. That occurred so suddenly that the Minister for Immigration, who had his back to the House, fell through the rope that separates the Speaker’s gallery from the Opposition benches. I regard the Minister’s behaviour as an act of gross discourtesy. In my long parliamentary experience I have never seen any behaviour to compare with it. While the honorable member for Bourke was speaking, she was absolutely ignored and was shown the utmost discourtesy. I have taken the first opportunity that has been available to me to direct the attention of Mr. Deputy Speaker and the Prime Minister to the incident.
– Order! I consider that the Chair is entitled to comment on the statement that the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) has made. If he considers that the Standing Orders have been transgressed, he should have raised the matter when the incident occurred. Fortunately or unfortunately! a Minister who is in charge of a bill is not compelled to listen to every speech or every word of a speech that is made in the House. The fact that he may be in charge of the House does not inflict upon him the responsibility of listening to every word that is spoken in the debate. The Standing Orders do not provide that he shall do so. Furthermore, a Minister is not entitled to answer a question that an honorable member may ask in the course of his speech. All interjections and interruptions of the speech are disorderly. If an honorable member asks a question while making a speech, the practice is for the Minister to give the information that is sought when he is replying to the debate. That is the appropriate time for him to do so. However, a Minister is not called upon to answer any questions that have been asked in the course of the debate.
– The facts of the matter raised by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) are very plain. I sat at my place all through the debate until the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) engaged my attention and asked me if he could secure the adjournment of the debate until the next sitting. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Eraser) came to me and said, “Is the honorable member for Warringah going to secure the adjournment of the debate; because if he is I am not going to speak either before him or after him “. I said to the honorable member for EdenMonaro, “ I have made a promise to you that you shall have the right to speak after the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) “. I did not know that the honorable member for Warringah desired to speak because I had been advised officially, being the Minister in charge of the measure, that the Liberal party intended to have only one speaker in the debate, and that the speaker would be the Leader of that party. Subsequently, again as the Minister in charge of the bill, I was told that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) would speak. It was after I had heard from the honorable member for Warringah that he desired the adjournment of the debate later in the evening, that I spoke to the honorable member for EdenMonaro. I left the honorable member for Eden-Monaro and walked across the chamber to the honorable member for Warringah. As I went across I heard the honorable member for Bourke say something, and I turned and spoke affirmatively. The honorable member for Bourke does not seem to be aggrieved over the matter. Certainly, she does not need the honorable member for Reid to protect her. I told the honorable member that the debate would not be adjourned, and that I would reply at some later time. The honorable member for Warringah then said, “ If that is the position I am going home”; and he wished me well. At least, his attitude was clear and unequivocal. At that point, being the Minister in charge of the bill, 1 returned to my position at the table. I then said to the party whip, “ The honorable member for Eden-Monaro is speaking. I have been here for several hours now; will you get another Minister to relieve me “. He replied, “ Yes “, and went out of the chamber. When I saw the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) walk into the chamber, I thought that he was coming to relieve me and I went and spoke to some people with whom I had some business. While I was doing so, the honorable member for Bourke concluded her speech. She might not have had the opportunity to make her speech had I not sent an attendant to the library to tell her that the bill was coming on. I wanted to do her that courtesy so that she would not miss her chance. When the honorable member for Bourke concluded her speech, I thought that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro would rise. 1. hurried back to my place in order to secure the adjournment of the debate so that when I feel a little fresher than I do to-night I shall be able to deal with the Opposition and the honorable member for Reid, and line them up for or against White Australia.
– Since my name has been mentioned in this matter of alleged disorderly conduct by the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), I wish to make it clear that nothing I said, or did, was responsible for the Minister falling over the ropes. He fell over them of his own accord; and, possibly, that is one reason why the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) regarded his action as discourteous. Further, I was induced to say that I was going home, because the Minister told me, not that he was going to move the adjournment of the debate, but that he proposed to conclude the debate. Originally, I was to be given the adjournment of the debate; but, subsequently, other counsels prevailed. The Minister saw an opportunity to answer the debate over the air whilst Opposition members would not be heard at all over the air.
– Order ! I do not think that the honorable gentleman is adding anything relevant to the discussion.
– I make it clear that at one time it was arranged that I was to secure the adjournment of the debate, and then some skullduggery went on and I did not secure the adjournment.
– Order! The discussion is getting away from the point before the Chair.
Question put -
That the House do now adjourn.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. J. J. clark.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Stevedoring Industry Act- Stevedoring Industry Commission - Financial Accounts for the period 22nd December, 1947, to 30th June, 1948, together with the Certificate of the Auditor-General.
Superannuation Act - Superannuation Board - Twenty-fifth Annual Report, for year 1946-47.
House adjourned at 12.0 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n. - On the 28th June the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) asked a question concerning the Mackay branch of the Waterside Workers Federation. The Minister for Shipping and Fuel has supplied the following information : -
Work resumed at this port at 10 a.m., Tuesday, the 28th June, 1949.
n. - On the 18th June the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) asked me a number of questions concerning the conditions applying to the employment of aboriginals on cattle stations in the Northern Territory. I furnished answers to some of the honorable member’s questions and undertook to look into the other matters raised. I now desire to furnish the following additional information : -
Aboriginals working on cattle stations in the Northern Territory are not employed under duress. Protectors do not have the power to assign natives to pastoralists. Very few of the children of the aboriginals employed by pastoralists attend school. In addition to one government school for aboriginal children at Darwin, most of the mission stations have special schools which are staffed with experienced teachers. The Government contributes to the cost of the salaries and expenses of these mission teachers. The question of native education is now under review. It is hoped to make much wider provisions than are available at present. Allocations of rice to employers of aboriginals are made by the Department of Commerce and Agriculture on the sponsorship of the Director of Native Affairs who is satisfied from inspections by his officers that aboriginals receive regular issues within the limits of the allocation. By reason of difficulties of refrigeration en route butter is frequently scarce on many station properties. When tinned butter is available some stations issue supplies to aboriginals. The recently gazetted regulations relating to the conditions of employment of aboriginals in the pastoral industry in the Northern Territory require that aboriginal workers shall receive food of sufficientquantity, sound, well-cooked and properly served, provided that the scale of rations to be supplied shall be at least equal as far as practicable to that to which station employees in the Territory are entitled under any award for the time being in force.
asked the Minister for Information, upon notice -
l. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 June 1949, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1949/19490630_reps_18_203/>.