18th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Deputy SPEAKER (Mr. J. J. Clark) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.
– In view of the fact that in South Australia, it has been possible by the use of substantial quantities of oil, and at great expense, to provide a certain amount of work in industry during the coal strike, will the Prime Minister accede to the request of the Premier of South Australia for additional quantities of fuel oil for this purpose?
– It has been the practice during coal shortages or break downs of coal-fired electricity generating plants for the Minister for Shipping and Fuel to endeavour to provide sufficient fuel oil to operate auxiliary generating plants with a view to minimizing unemployment in industry. That was done with complete satisfaction in Western Australia some time ago when a general instruction about the uae of fuel oil was issued. However, the Commonwealth has not now the control over oil supplies that it had in those days. The Premier of South Australia has approached me on this matter. I have already discussed it with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel in respect of New South Wales, where the situation is probably more difficult than it is in South Australia. I have arranged with the Minister for the Wavy for the release of 20,000 tons of fuel oil, and import licences for a further 20,000 tons have been issued. The Commonwealth will do everything possible in this direction to prevent unnecessary unemployment.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for ‘Social Services say whether the Government has considered paying unemployment benefit to members of unions associated with coal-mining when those members have been stood down through no fault of their own?
– The Minister for Social Services is now considering the scope and volume of unemployment benefit payments in connexion with the present dispute. The matter has been discussed, and it has been left to the Minister to draft a statement explaining to whom unemployment benefit will be paid, and the limitations that will be placed upon it.
– In view of the fact that only one-third of the miners voted in favour of the strike, and that certain lodges seem anxious to organize opposition to its continuance, I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government can guarantee protection to all those miners who would come out into the open against their leaders but for fear of victimization ? Can the Government do anything to allay the real fear of those rank and file miners, numbering two-thirds of the total, who did not attend the aggregate meetings?
– The State police force, acting under the laws of the State, will ensure that no one is intimidated to the point of physical violence. The police are the only ones who can ensure the maintenance of law and order. As for the general question of those who, because of fear of intimidation, voted at the aggregate meetings in support of the strike, or refrained from attending the meetings, it seems ito me that the matter has gone beyond such consideration!! From ira.y knowledge of the coalminers I should say that, once a decision .has been taken by the federation, it will receive the almost unanimous support of the men or, at any rate, of a very large proportion of them. I have tried to be as tolerant as possible, and to indicate to the miners that they cannot by any threat enforce their demands. Whatever their grievances are - and I am not’ now debating the merits of their claims - they must be dealt with by the properly constituted authority. I do not think that anything can be done, except to await a move by the miners themselves, within their own ranks, to reverse their former decision. By that, I mean a move by the miners as a body. My experience of the miners is that they cannot be moved by screeching speeches, but that they can be moved by reason and logic to have some consideration for the people of the country to which .they belong.
– I direct a series of questions to the Prime Minister. 1. Has the Joint Coal Board intimated to the Government that it is prepared to accept the principle of a 35-hour week and long service leave for the miners ? 2. Did the formula of the Australian Council of Trades Unions propose that the Joint Coal Board should convey such an assurance to the Coal Industry Tribunal, if the miners returned to work? 3. Did the representatives of the Deputies and Shotfirers Association offer at the compulsory conference, to concede the mechanical extraction of pillars, if the board accepted the 85-hour week? 4. Would the mechanical extraction of pillars compensate for the 35-hour week, according to the board’s figures? 5. Has the Joint Coal Board advised the Government that it would be possible to increase production, even with long service leave and the 35-hour week, by increased mechanization? 6. Finally, failing a settlement of the strike at a compulsory conference within a week, will the Government consider having aggregate meetings called at which terms of settlement would be submitted direct to the miners by representatives of the Government and of the Australian Council of Trades Unions?
– Some phases of the .honorable member’s question involve reference to the authorities that he has mentioned. However, I think that I can make a couple of points clear. I know of no offer by anybody to make a settlement with relation to the claim for a 35-hour week in the coal-mining industry. That matter would be determined by the Coal Industry Tribunal. Long service leave could not be granted to the miners unless some provision was made to meet the cost involved. Some time ago the Minister for Shipping and Fuel and I were asked whether the Government would be prepared to make finance available if the Coal Industry Tribunal decided that long service leave should be granted to the miners. We indicated to the Coal Industry Tribunal that it was of no use his making an award granting long service leave unless there was some provision for meeting the cost of it, and that because of the existing conditions in the coal-mining industry, that could not be done by the various owners. I then intimated that if, in the judgment of the Coal Industry Tribunal, the principle of long service leave for the coalminers should be established, I should be prepared to recommend to the Government that it apply an excise on coal to provide the necessary money. It was of no use his granting the long service leave claim unless he had some indication that money would be found. No attempt was made on the Government’s behalf to persuade the tribunal in one way or the other.
– Was it a case of a wink being as good as a hod.
– I think it has been generally agreed that the principle of long service leave is sound. I expressed no opinion about the duration of long service leave, or the conditions on which it might be granted. Those would be matters for the Coal Industry Tribunal to determine.
– In how many strikes would the miners have to be concerned in order to qualify for long service leave?
– My reply to the honorable members inquiry whether the Government would be prepared to call aggregate meetings on the coal-fields for the purpose of addressing the miners, is “ No “. If aggregate meetings are desired they should be called by the miners’ federation. I do not think that the honorable member is getting anywhere by these tactics. As I have said before, I hope that the miners themselves will see the wisdom of reversing their decision’. I understand that there is no suggestion that the miners on the northern coalfields are Communist-controlled. I think that they are mostly supporters of the Australian Labour party. I am certainly not going to attempt to call aggregate meetings unless they are organized by representatives of the coal-mining industry.
– I preface a question concerning the coal strike which I wish to address to the Prime Minister with the very short observation that there is a very large and growing volume of unemployment, in Sydney particularly, and, of course, elsewhere; and ho doubt at some time in the future, if the strike lasts long enough, there will be also the problem of other supplies to citizens. I ask the right honorable gentleman how the Government is proposing to relieve the position by enabling employment to be carried on by immediate supplies of coal? Last weel, I raised the question of the open cut and suggested that a speedy development of open cut mining would yield from 120,000 tons to 150,000 tons of coal a week. Has the Government taken any steps, and, if so, what steps, to proceed with the immediate development of open-cut production ? Last week, I referred also to the fact that there is a substantial quantity of coal at grass in New South Wales. What steps is the Government taking to make that supply of coal, which I believe is actually in trucks, available to industry for essential purposes ?
– There is 20,000 tons of coal in trucks on the northern field and 16,000 tons at Cullen Bullen on the Mudgee line at grass at the side of the railway. I think that I mentioned previously that the shifting of that coal might draw other unions into the dispute ; but the matter of shifting it should that become necessary in order to meet the requirements of hospitals and for other urgent purposes, has been and is being examined. At the moment I do not believe that anything can be gained by shifting it because it is the equivalent of only twofifths of a day’s production. I do not propose to say anything further about that aspect at the moment. As I also explained previously, a number of unions which are involved in deep mining are also involved in open-cut mining. I mention, for instance, the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association, and that at Cullen Bullen the open-cut coal is handled from the stacks into the trucks by members of the miners’ federation. I do not believe that anything can be gained by involving a great number of other unions by widely extending the field of the dispute until the coal-miners themselves have had a reasonable opportunity-
– What is a reasonable opportunity - a month?
– There is nothing to be gained by involving other unions at present because open-cut production represents only from one-fifteenth to onefourteenth of total production. Therefore, by taking that action we should widely extend the dispute without gaining any substantial advantage.
– If I may interrupt the Prime Minister, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I ask him whether he does not realize that there are already hundreds of thousands of other unionists involved in this issue through no fault of their own?
-Order! The Prime Minister must be permitted to make his own reply.
– I can say, in reply to the interjection by the Leader of the Opposition, that nobody has a better realization of the position than I have.
– Then why does not the Prime Minister do something about the matter?
– I hope that’ within a short period the Combined Mining Unions Council will realize the wisdom of acting upon the declaration by both the Australian Government and the New South Wales Government that disputes involving the mining industry must be settled by arbitration, lt may be that reason and understanding will not prevail, in which event the matter will then have to be considered in. all ite aspects.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral been advised of the proceedings in Sydney which have arisen out of the direction by Chief Judge Kelly to the representatives of certain trade unions to make documents available to the court and to furnish assurances concerning money drawn from the bank accounts of those unions? Will the right honorable gentleman make a short statement to the House of the developments that have occurred and outline the present position?
– According to information that I received at 2 p.m. to-day, litigation is proceeding in two courts. Action is being taken in the Arbitration Court before Mr. Justice Kelly to enforce sections of the act passed by the Commonwealth Parliament last week, and representatives of some of the respondents are applying to the High Court of Australia for an order restraining Mr. Justice Kelly from proceeding further. I have not any later reports on those matters, and I do not wish to comment on the proceedings at this stage because they are still pending in. a very active sense.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether discussions have taken place between himself and the AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales with a view to having efficient legislation to control union funds passed by either the Commonwealth or the New South Wales Parliament. If there is any doubt at all about the constitutionality of the act recently passed by this Parliament, will the Attorney-General discuss with the State authorities the passing of complementary legislation so that, with measures on the statute-books of both Parliaments, there will be no possibility of a successful challenge?
– There has been no discussion on that precise point; but I appreciate the importance which the honorable member’s suggestion would have should any legal difficulties arise. I do not think that I can say any more about the matter at present.
– The Prime Minister mentioned recently that the Government waa examining the possibility of importing coal from abroad, and had made certain inquiries. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he has received any reply to those inquiries, and if so, whether he can say what quantity of coal can he made available for purchase by Australia, and how soon it can be brought to this country?
– What I said was that the Government had already sponsored the importation of quantities of coal for the Government of Victoria. Without Commonwealth sponsorship, the Indian Government will not make an allocation of coal to this country. I understand that Victoria is making every endeavour to charter sufficient shipping to import 150,000 tons of coal. The Premier of South Australia has asked for Commonwealth sponsorship for the importation of coal from the United Kingdom to enable concentrates to be carried from Broken Hill to Port Pirie. An import licence is, of course, not necessary. I understand that a quantity of coal can be obtained by South Australia for that purpose. The Commonwealth has not yet been informed of what quantities of coal will be available for importation to Australia or what shipping can be obtained for the purpose. Inquiries have been instituted.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation what are the results of the preliminary investigation* authorized by the Regional Superintendent of Air Navigation and Safety, Mr. H. E. Fry, into the tragic crash last Saturday of a MacRobertson-M Her DC3 aircraft near Perth in which eighteen people - fourteen passengers, three pilots and one air hostess - lost their lives. In view of the seriousness of this and other recent air crashes, particularly the Bilinga fatality, will the Minister order a public inquiry into the air accident at Perth?
– An investigation of the Perth disaster has already begun. The honorable member for Perth has already inquired about this matter. Investigations by the Regional Superintendent of Air Navigation and Safety, Mr. H. E. Fry, into the cause or probable cause of the accident began on the spot within half an hour of the crash. Mr. J. E. Schofield, inspector of accidents, left Melbourne by air for Perth on the morning of the accident, and Mr. J. H. Harper, Chief Inspector of Accident Investigation, arrived at Perth on Monday to take charge of the investigation now being held. The investigation is being conducted by qualified pilots. All circumstances of the crash and the conditions which may have caused it, will be thoroughly examined, and a report will be made to the department and to me as early as possible. There is evidence to show that the load on the aircraft was within the permissible weight limit when it took off from Guildford aerodrome, and that the engines were functioning normally immediately prior to the takeoff. When the report is available, immediate consideration will be given to whether any steps can be taken to prevent similar accidents occurring.
– Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether there is to be a poll of wheat-growers in Victoria to elect a representative to the Australian Wheat Board and, if so, when the poll will be held?
– There is to be a poll in Victoria to elect a representative of the wheat-growers to the Australian Wheat Board. Arrangements are now in train, and a decision should be reached at a very early date.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture any official news which he can give to the House relating to the International Wheat Agreement?
- Mr. McCarthy, the Australian delegate at Washington, has officially informed me that the Government of the United Kingdom, the Governments of Canada and Australia as exporters, and eighteen importer countries representing 9,398,000 metric tons of wheat, have already ratified the agreement. The quantity of wheat which these countries are committed to buy represents 75 per cent, of the total wheat to be dealt with under the agreement. As the 1st July was fixed as the deadline for the ratification of the agreement, it is likely that an additional number of the eighteen countries which had yet to ratify it have done so since Mr. McCarthy advised me on the subject.
– Did the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture assure the Australian Wheat Board that it would have a free hand in future wheat negotiations? If so, has the Minister seen the reported statement by the general secretary of the Australian Wheat Growers Federation, Mr. Stott, that the board should now stand firm in its negotiations with the United Kingdom and not yield to pressure to force down prices merely because Australia is in the sterling area? Will the Minister state his attitude regarding the matter?
– I have not seen the statement mentioned by the honorable member. If its terms are as he has stated, I think that it is of an entirely mischievous character. At far as I am aware, it has no foundation whatever in fact.
– As a substantial portion of my electorate is devoted to wheat-growing, and as, ou my return to it in the near future, I am likely to be asked several questions about wheat, I should like the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to tell me who is actually responsible, in fact and in practice, for the sale of Australian wheat at present, and, incidentally, who will be responsible in the near future?
– Under the recent statute constituting the Australian Wheat Board, that authority is responsible for the sale of wheat both for export and for home consumption, with the important reservation that, when necessary, the board must be amenable to direction by the Minister of the day.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I point out that a deduction is made from the unemployment benefit payable to ex-servicemen if they also receive a pension for a war disability. The Minister will recall that when the legislation was before the Parliament J unsuccessfully proposed an amendment which was designed to rectify that anomaly. As thousands are now being thrown out of employment as a result of the coal strike, will the Minister take steps to see that the many among them who are ex-servicemen in receipt of war pensions will not suffer deductions from their unemployment benefit payments? If the Minister will consent to an amendment of the legislation in that respect I assure him that the Opposition will wholeheartedly support him.
– As the honorable member is aware, the act provides that, in assessing the amount of unemployment benefit payable to any person, income not exceeding £1 a week is not taken into consideration. The act does not differentiate between ex-servicemen and others. If an ex-serviceman who is in receipt of a war pension of 25s. or 30s. a week qualifies for the unemployment benefit, the amount by which the pension exceeds £1 a week is deducted from the benefit. The honorable member contends that that provision is unjust. I point cut, however, that that is the law. I shall again discuss the subject with the Minister for Social Services and ask that the honorable member’s representations be further considered.
– The honorable gentleman promised to do that two years ago.
– I have received several letters recently from persons who have complained to me of delays in issuing their income tax assessments. The writer of one of the letters, who has stated that he has not received an assessment since 1945, is anxious because he fears that when the assessments are issued he will be forced into the bankruptcy court owing to his inability to pay the outstanding tax. Will the Treasurer take steps to accelerate the issue of delayed assessments? Can he inform the House of the amount of outstanding income tax?
– There was a time when people were glad if their income tax assessments were not issued expeditiously. It is a very welcome change to find that taxpayers are anxious for them to be issued as quickly as possible. Several cases have been brought to my notice of delays in issuing assessment notices during the past year, when the Taxation Branch was short of staff. I have discussed this matter with the Commissioner of Taxation. The Taxation Branch has a larger staff than it had last year and is now more capable than it was of meeting the demands that may be made upon it. An endeavour is being mads to overtake arrears. Immediately returns start to come in this year, assessments will begin to go out. The Commissioner hopes that this year a record will be established in regard to the speed of issue of assessments. I can assure the honorable gentleman that every effort will be made to deal with them expeditiously. A great number of people who have received provisional assessments have asked for extensions of time in which to pay the amount of income tax at which they have been provisionally assessed. In many instances, they have claimed that their income for this year will not bc as great as their income for last year, upon which the provisional tax has been assessed. There have been thousands of applicants for deferment of the payment of income tax. Hundreds of tax agents have asked for extensions of time in which to lodge taxation returns. I have received three deputations that have asked that tax agent9 be allowed until April of next year to furnish the income tax returns of their clients for the financial year that has just ended. There are many reasons for delays in the issue of assessments.
– Some time ago I asked the Prime Minister whether he could inform me of the extent to which the Australian Government was prepared to assist in the harnessing of the waters of the Burdekin River and the development of the Burdekin River Valley. The right honorable gentleman informed me that negotiations were in progress with the Queensland Government. I now ask whether he can say what stage those negotiations have reached?
– Approximately twelve months ago I stated that the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Hanlon, and I had discussed the Burdekin Valley scheme. It is mainly a scheme for the irrigation of approximately 300,000 acres of land. On behalf of the Government I informed Mr. Hanlon that if detailed plans of the proposal were prepared I should arrange for them to be examined by a joint committee as was done with the Western Australian Government in connexion with the eastern goldfieds water supply scheme in that State, to sec whether it was possible to evolve a joint scheme for carrying out the work. As the Queensland Government has been carrying out considerable projects for the Overseas Food Corporation, it is somewhat short of technical staff and, consequently, Mr. Hanlon has not been able to make as much progress with the proposal as he might wish. However, Mr. Kemp, whois a very capable officer, has been handling the matter and surveys and specifications in respect of the proposal have been completed. Mr. Hanlon informed me recently that six copies of those documents were being made available to the Government. They will be considered immediately by the Commonwealth committee in consultation with the Queensland committee.
– Has the Minister for Repatriation reached any decision regarding the matter of sustenance payments for ex-servicemen who are undergoing medical treatment in repatriation hospitals for incapacities due to war service ?
– I have been able to make a decision in that matter, in which the honorable member for Parkes has taken a good deal of interest over the last two years. The position now is that exservicemen who, because of a war-caused disability, remain in hospital for less than three months, will be given the benefit of the temporarily totally incapacitated pension rate. There are some qualifications to that provision, but they will not affect the general body of ex-servicemen who will benefit as a result of the decision that has been made. I am happy to be able to make that statement, because this matter has been a very vexed one over a long period.
Mining Options - Housing at Alice Springs - Health and Medical Services.
– On the 20th April I despatched to the Prime Minister from Tennant Creek, a telegram which requested that official approval for mining options be deleted under National Security (Economic Organization) Regulations, to which the Prime Minister replied by letter refusing to remove those restrictions. I now ask the right honorable gentleman whether he can verify statements made in a report in the Centralian Advocate of the 17th June indicating that Mr. Coxon, the Director of Mines in the Northern Territory, had stated at Tennant Creek that it was now no longer necessary for option agreements on mining tenements to be submitted for official approval. Can the Prime Minister verify the statements made by the Director of Mines as reflecting a new policy?
– I know something of the circumstances of the particular case that the honorable gentleman has mentioned, and I recall his representations about the matter. I have not seen the newspaper to which he has referred. Naturally, I am not able to read all newspapers. As a matter of fact, I am sometimes not able to read any newspapers. I am not in a position to give the honorable gentleman a detailed reply to the latter portion of his question regarding policy, but I shall consult with the appropriate Minister and try to let the honorable gentleman have the information that he desires as early as possible.
– I preface a question to the Minister for “Works and Housing by pointing out that at present, all homebuilding at Alice Springs is being carried out privately. Will the Minister fix a target of at least ten or twenty house* to be provided for the residents of Alice Springs by the department, and to be allocated by ballot?
– Some houses are being built at Alice Springs at present by contractors on behalf of the Department of Works and Housing. As the honorable member is aware, most of the activity of the department at Alice Springs is concentrated on road construction and maintenance work which is done by day labour. However, I shall examine the position, and ascertain whether more homes can be built by the department.
– Recently a report of a select committee of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory, which investigated certain aspects of the Government’s health and medical services in that territory, was laid on the table of the library by direction of the Prime Minister. In view of the fact that that report severely criticizes the Government’s health and medical services, and also directs attention to the fact that the Commonwealth Director-General of Health-
– Order ! The honorable member is not entitled to read from a report when asking a question.
– The report discloses that the Commonwealth Director-General of Health, Dr. Metcalfe, wrote a letter forbidding medical officers in the Northern Territory from giving evidence before the select committee. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health why that letter was written by the Director-General, and whether it was written with the knowledge, or at the direction, of the Government?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s question to the notice of the Minister for Health, and ascertain whether a reply can be provided.
– My question relates to the important conference that is about to take place in London, which the Prime Minister, or some other Minister, will attend on behalf of Australia. Does the Prime Minister propose to give the House any opportunity to discuss the basic issues that will come up for consideration at that conference? Will the right honorable gentleman consider making a statement to the House to enable a debate to take place? I suggest that he might move that the documents concerning the dollar position in relation to petrol which he recently circulated be printed so as to enable a debate to take place. Does he agree that the results of the forthcoming conference may have far-reaching effects on the economy of this country, and does he not consider it advisable that he should have the benefit of the views of the House?
– I indicated to the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) last week that matters related to international economy might be discussed during the debate that is to take place on international affairs. I understand that the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to make a statement in the House of Commons to-morrow. I do not know how far that statement will go. I have been kept very fully informed concerning the position, which can be expressed in a few words. Expenditure on imports for the United Kingdom and the rest of the sterling area has not increased because of the severe restrictions on their earning power. For example, we shall not be able to sell to the dollar area more than half the quantity of wool that we anticipated selling to it. That also applies to a large number of commodities which the British Commonwealth sells for dollars. We are not getting the prices or selling the quantities desired, with the result that our dollar earnings have been reduced very considerably. At the same time the cost of imports has not been reduced proportionately. That is the crux of the situation that must be confronted at the forthcoming conference. It is hoped to evolve a policy to restrict our dollar imports to the minimum, and also some positive policy for the future. I should be glad to afford the House an opportunity to discuss the matter, but, quite frankly. I could not, without placing myself in a most invidious position, place before it all the information that has been given to me in complete confidence by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has to deal with the financial authorities of other nations. He has given me a very close confidential view of the whole position, and I believe that if I were to make that information the subject of public discussion I should not be kept well informed of Empire developments in the future. Since I desire to obtain the maximum information concerning such matters, I think that the debate on international affairs would be the appropriate occasion to discuss the matter mentioned by the honorable member.
– In view of the growing dissatisfaction of the people of Australia with the Government’s socialization policy, its present Micawber-like attitude towards the great industrial crisis, and its reluctance to deal with communism-
– Order ! The honorable member is quite familiar with the Standing Orders. He knows that he must not introduce argument or expressions of opinion when he is asking a question. If the honorable member wishes to ask a question, he must do so, otherwise I shall ask him to resume his seat.
– Without imparting any information to the Prime Minister, I ask him to say whether there will be an early general election so that the people of this country may express their opinion on the Government policy?
– I do not know what the honorable member means by an early general election. This Parliament will expire by effluxion of time before the end of the year. Therefore, I think that the honorable member may expect a general election some time during the present year.
– Recently, I asked a question in this chamber about the present confused and generally unsatisfactory state of the ordinances of the Territory of New Guinea-Papua. I now ask the Attorney-General what progress has been made in the work of codifying and consolidating these ordinances? Who is in charge of that work, and when does the Attorney-General expect it to be completed?
– I cannot answer the honorable member’s question off-hand but I shall inform him as soon as possible of the precise position.
– Has the Minister for Defence read a report in to-day’s press that a building at the railway station which serves the Woomera rocket range was burnt down yesterday? In view of the fact that other fires have occurred in the locality, can the Minister say whether this most recent fire was just a coincidence, or are we to assume that there has been an influx of firebugs into the area ?
– I have not read the newspaper report to which the honorable member has referred, but I was informed by one of my colleagues that the building reported to have been burned down was a shed which stood on the railway premises, and had nothing whatever to do with the rocket range. However, if it is found that there was anything sinister in the incident, I shall inform the honorable member of it.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
War Pensions Appropriation Bill 1949.
International Wheat Agreement Bill 1949.
Post and Telegraph Rates Bill 1949.
War Service Homes Bill 1949.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That Standing Order 70 - 11 o’clock rule - be suspended for the remainder of this week.
Debate resumed from the 30th June (vide page 1893) on motion by Mr. Cal well -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– in reply - I conclude the debate on the Immigration Bill with rather strange feelings. I had expected that the Opposition parties, many members of which had been actively critical of my administration while the Parliament was in recess, would at least have summoned up enough courage to speak while the bill was under discussion in this House. With the exception of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) and the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Davidson), I do not know of any members of the Opposition who are wholeheartedly in favour of maintaining the White Australia policy as it has been known since it was first established in the enactment of 1901.
– The Minister is putting up “ aunt sallys “ so that he may knock them down again.
– The honorable memberfor Warringah (Mr. Spender) had his chance to speak on the bill, but refused to take it.
– The Minister prevented me from speaking.
– The honorable member refused to take his opportunity to do so. He adopted a subterfuge to cover his failure to say inside the House what he had said outside it. In any case, the honorable member will have an opportunity to speak when the bill is in committee. I hope that he will say something then, and that he will move amendments, if he thinks that I have exercised my powers wrongly. The honorable member should not take refuge in silence. It has been said that silence is golden-
– It is a pity that the Minister does not observe it.
– But silence is sometimes yellow. That is the reply that 1 make to the honorable member for Warringah. Only four members of the Opposition participated in the debate on this bill. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) was so distrustful of his followers that he would not allow any more of them to speak. He was not certain what they would say. A loose word, an expression of opinion at an inopportune moment, might have put the Opposition parties at a disadvantage in the next general election. The Leader of the Opposition was the only authorized speaker for the Liberal party. The Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. McEwen) also spoke. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) stumbled in, and made an unjustified attack on the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser) for his sapient utterances. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) felt that he had to speak, because he had spoken in 1901 when the fi ret Immigration Restriction Bill was before the Parliament, the bill which became the act that we are now amending; but his story in his recent speech was very different from that of 1901. At least, I stand now where he stood in 1901. Perhaps he is trying to find a reason for bis change of front, but I shall deal with his observations as I proceed. As for the rest of the Opposition members, not a word was heard from them. Everything they had said outside the House about immigration was forgotten once they got inside. In compliance with requests by the Melbourne Herald management to criticize my views, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) attacked me daily when the Parliament was not sitting, but he has offered no criticism here. Similarly, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) once had a lot to say here and elsewhere, but he, too, has been singularly silent since the bill was introduced. What is true of him, is true also of other members of the Opposition.
It has been an education to sit and listen to those honorable members opposite who did speak authoritatively for the Opposition - the Leader of the Opposition, and the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), who twisted and ducked his way through the debate. The Leader of the Opposition said that we were on common ground. So we were regarding a good deal of the debate. We ceased to be on common ground when he departed from the established policy of the nation, and said that we should make exceptions in individual cases. Then, he said, everything would be all right. I could make exceptions, and that would be the easy course to follow, but I refuse to do so because I know that the making of exceptions would establish precedents that ‘ would destroy our immigration policy in a few years. I am not going to haul down the flag which the people of Australia have kept aloft for 49 years. I repeat that, as the honorable member for Eden-Monaro also said, I have administered the law as every one of my predecessors administered it. I have made no departures from previous practice. I have maintained the same set of principles. I have refused to make exceptions, in the same way as they refused to make exceptions in identical cases. For that, I am criticized by tha briefly educated leader writers of the Australian press, criticized and attacked by those who put political prejudice above patriotism, who seek to score a cheap political advantage over the Government, even if it means damaging the influence and prestige of this country among Asiatic peoples. We have no enmity or hostility against our near neighbours. All the criticism is directed against me with the intention of giving the impression that we desire to be at enmity with our neighbours, when the opposite is the truth. I appreciated the speech delivered by the honorable member for Bendigo at an Australian Natives Association conference in the city of Bendigo a few months ago. Paradoxically enough, he was representing the Opposition parties at the conference, and he proclaimed his faith to be the same as mine in maintaining our immigration policy. His speech and mine were delivered before a very representative cross-section of the public, because the delegates to the Australian. Natives Association conference are drawn from all political parties and from among members of all religious creeds. There were at the conference members of the Victorian Parliament, including members of the three parties in it. What he said and what I said was unanimously accepted by the delegates to the conference. The issue in this debate is simple, and it ought not to be too much to expect a plain statement as to where the Opposition stands on the issue. Simply stated, the issue is that Australia has a restrictive immigration policy. It has had that policy since 1901. I did. not establish it in 1949; I inherited it. It is something in which I believe and in which the Leader of the Opposition has said that he profoundly believes. I have inherited what every other member of this Parliament has inherited, and what every Australian government has practised since federation began. Lt is a policy which the Australian people at every federal election since 1901 have supported. The question to-day is, shall we continue with that policy or shall we alter it? If we support the policy we endorse this legislation. If we are to throw away our ha.lfcentury old policy, then we must throw out this bill which I have introduced. It is my opinion, however, that honorable members opposite do not like to have a simple decision like that posed to them. They do not care for a simple affirmative or a simple negative. They prefer a “ maybe “, a. “ however “, a “ nevertheless “ or a “ perhaps “. They want to translate this policy into the subjunctive mood and conjure up hypothetical cases. The real answer to their muddled talking is that they do not know what it is all about. Some honorable members opposite have declared: “Yes; we are wholeheartedly behind the White Australia policy “. The Leader of the Opposition has proclaimed that faith on behalf of bis party. Others have said : “ This policy is causing resentment among Asians “. Some have said : “ We in Australia are doing only what others are doing in their countries”. Still others have said: “Let us keep politics out of this “, and have then proceeded to try to make party political capital out of the issue. To the people of Australia listening to the expression of this muddled
Mr. Calwell. thinking on the part of members of the Opposition, this must be a revelation. But I can add further revelations to make their bewilderment more profound. I do this not out of a sense of devilment but purely to impress on them further, if further impressing is required, how insincere and inconsistem are honorable members opposite in their approach to this matter. Let us turn to the views expressed by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who has been in personal touch with this legislation for a longer period in this House than has any other honorable member. The right honorable gentleman is the last surviving sitting member of this Parliament who has been in it from the establishment of the federation Surely, one would think, his view of this subject have had time to crystallize over the long years during which he has sat in the Parliament. But not a bit of it. If anything, the right honorable gentleman is more muddled on this question than are his muddle-headed associates. Honorable members opposite will recall the finding of the Japanese War Crimes Tribunal at the close of the Pacific War. One of the representatives on that tribunal was Mr. Justice, Pal. of India. In his finding the learned judge said that he believed that the right honorable member for North Sydney wa» to blame for having contributed to the Japanese psychological preparation for war. It was recalled by the judge that at the Treaty of Versailles the right honorable gentleman, who was then Prime Minister of Australia, had denied the proposition of racial equality. I referred to this incident in the House during a previous debate. Honorable members will recall from their reading of history that it had been desired to write into the Versailles Treaty a clause granting racial equality, and that the right honorable member for North Sydney had been responsible for having that proposition turned down. The Sydney Morning Herald of the 15th November last reported Mr. Justice Pal’s finding and also reported the right honorable member for North Sydney as having said this by way of comment on it -
Yes: I opposed the racial equality clause. Had I not done so, I would have been a traitor to Australia. [ leave it to honorable members opposite to judge how sincere were the protestations of the right honorable gentleman about this bill and how far they fit in with his declaration of November last when he was asked to comment on what an Indian judge had said in regard to his alleged responsibility for having contributed to the psychological preparation of Japan for war. To-day, when I, as Minister for Immigration, explain that the purpose of the bill is to maintain our homogeneity the Liberal party press tries to suggest that I am seeking to promote a superior race theory in Australia. Apparently the Liberal party press is confusing the superior race ideas of the right honorable member for North Sydney with what I have had to say on this subject.
– What does the Labour Argus have to say on the subject?
– I have yet to learn that the Argus is a Labour newspaper, although I admit that it does try to tell the truth more often now than it did a few weeks ago. The right honorable member for North Sydney made no secret of his racial prejudices. It was those prejudices which caused the Bombay Chronicle to make this comment -
Mr. Justice Pal did not exaggerate when he charged Mr. Hughes with having provoked racialism by hia conduct at the Versailles Peace Treaty.
That comment appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 13th December last; but within a little more than a month, the wily right honorable gentleman had again shifted his ground. Late in January of this year Mr. Pandit Nehru, the Prime Minister of India, stated that India did not object to Australia’s exercise of its right to select those who should settle within its boundaries, provided that the basis of the selection was not racial. According to the Sydney Morning Herald the right honorable member for North Sydney said -
Racial? Certainly not.
He changed his ground from racialism to that of economic theory. The Sydney Morning Herald of the 25th January carries his spirited declaration that the White Australia policy has always been based on economic grounds and on noth ing else. This all gives great cause for wonder, a wonder which a columnist writing in the Sydney Daily Mirror, on Australia Day, the 26th January, expressed in these words -
Mr. Hughes’ published statement that White Australia is dictated by economic considerations does not square with what native Australians regarded in 1908 as his “colour conscious pronouncement”, repeated in 1015 in defiance of censors and at various times’ since then - that -
And this is a quotation from the right honorable gentleman’s statement -
Australia is a white speck in a yellow ocean.
Yet the right honorable gentleman has the hardihood to come into this House and sneer at a policy which I have consistently maintained and which is in line with that of all the governments with which he has been associated and of all the parties to which he has belonged. I could say a great deal more about the right honorable gentleman and the statements which he has made in the past. The right honorable gentleman once wrote a book called The Splendid Adventure. I am reminded of the passage in the Scriptures which reads -
Oh that mine adversary had written a book.
The Leader of the Opposition has cause to remember that passage. In The Splendid Adventure which was published in 1929 the right honorable member for North Sydney wrote -
The “White Australia” policy - as it is generally called - is an integral part of the national life of the Australian people and although the subject of much hostile criticism, the geographical, racial and economic circumstances of the Commonwealth amply justify it.
That appears on page 357 of the book. Also on that page appears the following:
For a people so situated the only alternative to national and racial extinction is a policy of rigid exclusion . . . We could not assimilate Asiatics without radically changing our racial, social and economic character.
All those people who support the same political party as the right honorable gentleman opposite have delivered their attacks at me not because I have altered anything that has been in existence since 1901, but simply because I have said on behalf of the Australian Government that those people who came here as war-time refugees must leave by a certain time, and that those who still remained had outlived their welcome and we had as much right to expect them to leave our shores as we should have in our own homes to ask an unwelcome guest to leave it and find another habitation. On subsequent pages of this work honorable members will find quite a number of examples of attacks upon Asiatic people on racial grounds. But that does not deter the right honorable gentleman from coming here and trying to get into line with his press backers and with all of the people who say that we should break down our established policy because we happen to have on our hands 800 people to whom we gave refuge during the war, who were not entitled under the laws of this country to come here at all, but whom we admitted on humanitarian grounds at a time of great danger and om the condition that when the war was over they would return to their native lands.
The Leader of the Opposition has made a number of statements concerning the bill. Although I do not want to go through them all, I shall make some replies to those that I think are important. The right honorable gentleman said that the attempts that I had made from time to time to raise party issues where none existed, and to arouse outside Australia an impression that there is in this Parliament a general Opposition attack on the national policy, is as gratuitous as it is mischievous. I should like honorable members to note the observation, “ a general Opposition attack”. He did not deny that the Opposition had made an attack, but objected to the impression being given by me that the attack that it desired to be specific had been couched in general terms. Honorable members opposite do not mind having a little bit each way. For political reasons they want to be described at protagonists of the White Australia policy. They also want the right to say, “ We want to break it down here, there, or somewhere else”. I use the term “White Australia policy” for the purpose of convenience so that it will be readily understood. If I talk about a “restrictive immigration policy” there will be many people in this country who will not quite understand what is meant, because White Australia is a journalese expression that has been in current use in this country since the ‘80’s or ‘90’s of the last century. My reply to the right honorable gentleman on this matter is that the members of the Opposition are careful to pay lip-service to the Australian selective immigration policy because they know how the Australian people feel about that matter. If they want a division on this bill we shall be most happy to see them divide; nobody would be happier than I to see them stand up and be counted. I think that they will “ squib “ the issue. They already are on record once as having voted against it when they moved the adjournment of the Parliament a few months ago. They attacked me on that occasion, but refused to accept my invitation to move a want of confidence in me as Minister for Immigration or to bring down a private member’s bill to test the feeling of the House. Now when they have before them a bill on which they can vote, if they so desire, they are determined to be political “ squibs “. When the bill reaches the committee stage they will have the opportunity to divide or to move an amendment; if they fail to do so, thereafter they should not criticize the policy or the administration. The right honorable member for Kooyong will do several things. He will adopt one attitude in the Parliament and another attitude outside the Parliament.
– Is the Minister’s proposition, that if the Opposition supports a piece of legislation it must never thereafter criticize the administration?
– That is right. This legislation is neither intricate nor complex. It provides that certain people shall be allowed in, and that certain other people shall not be allowed into Australia. The right honorable gentleman cannot support the proposition that certain people must get out, and then later criticize the Minister who gets them out. It is as simple as that. Apparently it is too simple for the lawyers of the Opposition, who like to have all sorts of escape provisions to meet everything that they do.
I do hot wonder that the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) has hot been made a King’s Councillor in New South Wales up to date. I further observe with relation to the criticism of the right honorable gentleman, that the general, concerted and organized attack of the Opposition on the administration of the policy was made because it knows that if it can hinder the administration sufficiently, and make it ineffective, the policy will fail and they will not have to take the blame for it. If honorable members opposite had been permitted to succeed with this plan, no doubt they would have blamed the Government, and would have found their friends of the lickspittle press as eager to help them in that as they have been to rave against the immigration administration. I consider that the right honorable member for Kooyong believes in the maintenance of this policy, but cannot speak for the members of his party in this Parliament let alone the people who support his policy outside of the Parliament On the other hand the members of the Australian Labour party can speak with one voice. We know where we stand and have always stood in the same position.
– A quarter of an hour ago the Minister complained that we had spoken with one voice.
-I complained that only ohe voice had spoken, because the Leader of the Opposition could not trust his followers.
– ‘That was because they could trust me!
– This is the first time that the” right honorable gentleman has got unanimity among the members of his party.
– That is a very good precedent.
– I agree that it is a very good precedent, and I congratulate the right honorable” gentleman upon having obtained that degree of discipline among his serried ranks. The Australian Labour party knows where it stands on this matter. On page 1 of its Federal
Platform and Objective the first paragraph reads -
Cultivation of Australian democratic sentiment, development of an enlightened and selfreliant community and maintenance of White Australia.
The Australian Country party says in its platform -
Maintenance of the White Australia policy.
I ask honorable members to note the significant fact that the declaration of the Australian Country party is not on the first page of its platform, but on page 9, midway through the platform ; it comes after “ Babbit and dingo destruction “. Of course, that the Australian Country party has put it in at all, is something. The Liberal party says where it stands, or pretends to stand, oil this matter, on page i4 of its declaration ; there are only fifteen pages in the book. It reads -
Preservation of the ideals of the White Australia policy.
I ask honorable members to note its subtlety and to ‘realize the lawyer’s mind that phrased and framed it. It is not the maintenance of the policy of which all red-blooded men and women and rabid, rock-ribbed Labourites talk. They would preserve the ideals and sink the policy! That is the happy position they will be in with relation to White Australia. They come into this Parliament with different labels on them. When the right honorable gentleman goes to New South Wales he bears the label “ Leader of the Liberal party but when he goes to Victoria he changes that label to “ Leader of the Liberal-Country party “. Honorable gentlemen opposite are as hard to follow in that regard as they are in their protestations in this House on this policy and in the statements that they make about it outside the Parliament. Although the Leader of the Opposition has said that he profoundly believes in the White Australia policy, he has not rebuked or repudiated any of his supporters or followers who have denied it.
– Let the Minister name one who has denied it.
– The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) must not be too impatient. His blood pressure is rising far too fast. The honorable member” for Henty is one who has denied the White Australia policy. Honorable members opposite shine when they are addressing meetings of women. According to the Melbourne Sun-News Pictorial, of the 29th June, 194S, the honorable member for Henty made the following statement at a meeting of the women’s section of the Darling-East Malvern branch of the Liberal party : -
Every Australian citizen should have the right of choice in marriage-
– Why not?
– “ Why not?” asks the honorable member for Warringah, who pretends to be a supporter of this policy, but who joins with the honorable member for Henty in denying it. The honorable member for Henty continued - - be it black, white or brindle. . . . They should have the right to bring the foreign bride or bridegroom to this country for assimilation into his domestic economy.
The honorable member for Henty has gone on record in an insulting fashion. He has said that he would break the whole thing down. The honorable member for Gippsland and the honorable member for Warringah are in two minds upon this matter. They do not believe in the White Australia policy, although they and the Leader of the Opposition have said that they do. It is no wonder that the right honorable member for Kooyong had to discipline them and try to keep them quiet. In the interests of their own parties, 1 wish that he had kept them quiet for a little longer. What has happened suits us just as well, because this will be an issue during the next general election campaign.
– The Minister would like it to be an issue.
– It is going to be an issue, whether honorable gentlemen opposite like it or not. Let us see who are some of their friends whom they repudiate in this chamber but whose support they accept outside the Parliament. I wonder what party the members of the Federal Council of the Graziers Association support. They do not support the Labour party. They support the Liberal party and the Bulgarian crew to which the honorable member for Wimmera belongs. Last vear, when they wanted Chinese cooks on outback stations, they approached me. I told them that they could not have Chinese cooks, because that was against the policy of the country. Instead of accepting that as an administrative decision, they reported the matter to their Federal Convention, which met on the 1st July, 1948, approximately a year ago. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the members of the council said that they would rather have Chinese cooks but, as the Minister for Immigration would not agree to that, they were prepared to take Italians. It is all right for members of the Australian Country party to say that they believe in a white Australia, but really they do not, and nobody else believes that they belive in it.
Let us examine a speech made by a member of the Liberal party who has not been repudiated or rebuked by the Leader of the Opposition. On the 29th June, 194S, Sir William Angliss, M.L.C.. addressed the Victorian Legislative Council.
– He is “ dopey “.
– Yes; but he is fit for membership of the Liberal party. Probably that fact recommends him for membership. The honorable member for Bendigo will not disagree with me on that. Sir William Angliss said -
I am convinced that if northern Australia, it to be developed properly, coloured labour will have to be introduced … I would therefor* like to see introduced some form of indentured labour for the northern areas of Australis under conditions somewhat similar to those that obtained 60 or 70 years ago in Queensland, for the opening up of the sugar-cane growing areas. . . . Tn my opinion this is th« only way in which the northern part of Australia will be developed properly.
Honorable gentlemen opposite do not want Asiatics to be treated as human beings or as people whose humanity and dignity they will respect, but as cheap labour that they can exploit. Anybody who knows the story of the kanaka trade realizes with shame what a disgrace it was in the history of this country. Sir William Angliss, who is now very old, is not a bad man. He has been a great philanthropist in Victoria and has done many generous things, but his views upon this subject are as out of date as the views of the persons who brought in the kanakas 60 or 70 years ago. While he is 60 or 70 years out of date in regard to our immigration policy, be is quite a modern member of the Liberal party. I wonder how honorable gentlemen opposite feel about hu observations? 1 remember reading in the Sydney Sunday Sun of the 27th March the report of an interview with a young lady who had returned to Australia from Singapore. She was Mrs. Shierlaw, formerly a socialite in this country. Her maiden name was Rad a Penfold-Hyland. That is a hyphenated name, and people with hyphenated names do not vote for the Labour party. The report is headed -
The town is simply awful.
She proceeded to criticize Sydney. Her story, as reported’ in the Sydney Sunday Sun, k most interesting. She said -
Nice people were shunning Australians in Singapore becouse of Immigration Minister Cai well’s enforcement of the White Australia policy . . .
Personally, I don’t really know what to say about it. Think of all the coloured servants we could have in this vast continent of ours.
Of course, inter-marriage is a frightful thing, but Mr. Calwell ought to let the coloured people in to do a little work for us.
They are such wonderful workers. Quite lazy, of course, but they do respect the quality of leadership in their bosses and they obey . . . In Singapore, things are demoralizingly easy. Quite sinful, in fact.
Then this lady, with plenty of money but apparently insufficient interests to stop her talking nonsense, said -
From Mondays to Fridays you entertain in your own home or are entertained by your friends. Reilly, most of the business is done after «ix o’clock I always say.
In Singapore, of course, you just don’t have to do it thing for yourself. The servants do everything.
I wonder what party she votes for?
– The Liberal-Country party.
– If she were in Victoria she would vote for the LiberalCountry party, and if she were in New South Wales she would vote for the Liberal party. That shows that the leopard does not change his or her spots, or the Ethiopian the colour of his or her skin. These people are just the same as their forebears: the people who made money by exploiting unfortunate Asiatics, and Australians, too. I have cited those instances to show that honorable members opposite, in spite of what they may say, stand just where their political ancestors stood.
– What about quoting “Joe Palooka”?
– If I compared the honorable member for Warringah with “ Joe Palooka “ the comparison would be all to the disadvantage of the honorable member. A member of the Conservative party of Great Britain visited Australia recently. I refer to Mr. Anthony Eden, whom we were privileged to honour during his stay here. The honorable member for Warringah would not be able to get into even the right wing of that party if he went to that country. The Sydney Morning Herald of the 28th April last reported Mr. Eden as saying -
Australians are acutely conscious of the racial problems which confront countries like South Africa, and the recent outbreaks in the Union have strengthened the Commonwealth’s determination to preserve a white Australia.
Whether that is right or not, it is a different story from that told by honorable members opposite who say that I should make exceptions here, there and everywhere, that I should break down the White Australia policy or change the administration of it even if the policy were maintained and make it something altogether different from what it has been during the last 50 years.
– Where, in the Labour party’s platform, is your White Australia ?
– I quoted the reference earlier in my speech ; it appears on the first page of the party’s platform under the heading, “ Methods “. It is the very first plank of the Labour party’s platform. I shall quote the words again for the honorable member -
The maintenance of White Australia.
That statement contains none of the nonsense about “ the preservat on of the ideals of a White Australia policy “ as the Liberal party puts out. To show the hypocrisy of the Opposition’s campaign, I refer to the issue of the Melbourne Herald of the 20th May last which contained a leading article headed “ Saving
White Australia “ in which that newspaper attacked me because I told war-time refugees to go home, and in the adjoining column printed a contributed article headed “ An Indian looks at Australia “. Whilst in one column that newspaper attacked me alleging that I was endangering the White Australia policy, it published in an adjoining column an article written by a distinguished Indian, who is a graduate in law art arts, in which he said -
We Asiatic people do not know why a country like Australia should adopt a closeddoor attitude at this stage . . . Asiatics feel that they have suffered tremendous injustices at the hands of the white people; . . .
There can be no doubt about that last statement at any rate; but we have never been part of the exploiting classes, the imperialisms that have robbed them and ruined them. That article continued -
Morally, or in common justice, the White Australia policy is untenable.
The Melbourne Herald, it will be observed, had no objection to publishing that statement alongside an editorial in which it attacked me. The article continued -
Economically there is much to be said in favour of abandoning the White Australia Policy. Australia suffers severely from shortage of man-power. Why not allow Asiatics to come here and help? This would unburden unemployment problems in Asiatic countries and be of inestimable vali:.e in raising Australia’s production, ultimately leading to a decrease in prices of essential commodities.
That means, in effect, cheap labour and the slashing of living standards. The Melbourne Herald had no objection to propagating those ideas under cover of a contributed article, whilst, at the same time, it made its attack upon me. So long as the Labour party remains in office it will uphold the White Australia policy, and while I have the privilege of administering that policy it will remain unchanged and unchangeable.
– Quote what Eric Spooner said.
– I could quote what Eric Spooner said in advocating the quota system, and also what Sir Henry Barwell, who at one time was Premier of South Australia and later a member of the Senate, said on the same subject. Sir Henry Barwell became known as “ Black
Barwell” because he wanted to break down the White Australia policy. All the wreckers of the White Australia policy have come from the Opposition parties, who are the representatives of the moneyed classes.
– Be fair!
– The honorable member for Fawkner should be ashamed to interject because he has not had the moral courage to stand up in this House and say here what he said outside. He should be more discreet.
– I moved the adjournment of the House on the subject.
– Yes ; and the honorable member voted against the White Australia policy when a division was taken on that occasion. The honorable gentleman could have said his piece in this debate, but his leader could not trust him. I notice that his leader is going over to the honorable gentleman to tell him to keep quite now also. He is not prepared to allow the honorable member to interject, let alone allow him to make a speech. But, if the honorable member is prepared to match his vociferous outbursts outside the House with his declared intention, I suggest that he propose an amendment at the committee stage or vote against the bill. I say to him “ Do something. I shall not let you escape. I have you in a trap and I shall . take the fullest political advantage of this situation”.
The honorable member for Warringah who is trying to interrupt me will go down in the records of this House as another advocate of a “black, brown or brindle Australia “.
– I have not said a word.
– The honorable gentleman admitted that he stood in the same category as the honorable member for Henty, when the latter advocated that a spouse should be allowed to bring any person to whom he, or she, was married whether the other spouse was black, brown or brindle. The honorable member for Warringah nodded assent to that statement.
The Leader of the Opposition, proceeding with his criticism, drew attention to the existence of the quota system which was established by an amendment of the act in 1925 by the Bruce-Page Government. We know that a quota system is provided for in the principal act, but the right honorable gentleman, who referred to it only briefly, knows that that system was introduced after the United States of America had established its quota system, and the fear arose that a lot of Europeans who could not gain entry to that country might rush to Australia. [Extension of time granted.] The right honorable gentleman knows that no government since that provision was made has attempted to give effect to it. We did not experience the rush, of Europeans to this country that had been expected. We have never used the quota system, and if we did we should have to use it in respect of Europeans and Asiatics alike. We have no intention to use it in respect of Europeans because this country has to be filled very quickly. We have to build up a population of at least 20,000,000 within a generation or two, if that be possible, in order that a resurgent Japan will not be able on a second occasion to win a victory that it might have won at its first attack on these shores but for the benevolence of Providence.
– The Minister will agree that I referred to the quota system merely as a matter of historic interest I made no advocacy of its use.
– But other people have.
– Not here.
– Yes. Whilst the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) denounced the quota system, other honorable gentlemen sitting behind the Leader of the Opposition have advocated it outside the Parliament.
– Not to my knowledge.
– I can give the names of some of those honorable members to the right honorable gentleman and he can deal with them as effectively as he has dealt with the honorable member for Fawkner, who, I notice, has left the chamber,
– He has gone out because he has to handle another bill.
– -The right honorable gentleman proceeded to say -
It is a grave misfortune that the policy should so frequently be rested, by some of its defenders at least, upon purely economic reasons, because economic reasons may well be regarded as quite transient in their character and their disappearance would render this policy vulnerable.
I do not disagree with that statement at all. The truth is that the policy is based primarily on broad and proper considerations of race and not on racial superiority. The part of the right honorable gentleman’s speech to which I take the strongest objection is the part in which he said that after maintaining our position we should now make all sorts of exceptions on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. It is impossible to run a government policy of this kind unless it is run entirely impersonally. If we were to allow compassionate considerations to influence our judgment we should never refuse entry to this country to anybody from the povertystricken areas to the north of us. The starving millions of China would be properly fed if they came to this country in appropriate numbers, and so would the peoples of the Pacific islands. We do not adopt compassion towards these peoples, in the mass, simply and solely because they are out of sight, and, apparently, “ out of sight is out of mind But when a particular case crops up the Opposition says, “ Let .them come in “. If such people are already in the country the Opposition says, “ Let them stay “. If we keep on establishing precedent after precedent of that kind very soon we shall have all precedents and no policy.
– We should have all exceptions and no rule.
– That is correct. There has been a great deal of propaganda and bitter criticism about the Government’s attitude regarding this matter, but nothing has been allowed to deflect us from our purpose, or change our view of what we ought to do. Our position has been stated over and over again. We maintain the policy as it has existed for 50 years. We say to those who came as refugees to Australia, “ You must go home now or we shall deport you whether you are married to an Australian or not “. We had a case in which a. bridegroom said he was marrying his bride in order to prevent me from deporting her. Having been married here with the intention to evade the law, that bride could have no real right to remain in Australia.
– The same thing applies to the children of such people.
– We do not deport children if they were born here. Children are taken out with the parents when they are deported, but they have the right to return. But children who were not born here have no more right to come back here than have their parents to remain here. I am stating that for the information and edification of this briefless barrister from New South Wales, the honorable member for Warringah. It has always been a fact that everybody knows. I have not made any rule regarding that matter. I am merely administering the policy.
– If the honorable member for Warringah desires to alter the policy who does he not move an amendment to do so?
– Exactly ! I intend to challenge the Opposition at the committee stage to alter the bill. I do not intend to permit the bill to be taken as a whole in committee. I shall give the Opposition an opportunity to challenge it clause by clause. I shall allow honorable members opposite at least to express their views, and if they will not do so I shall label them poltroons, cowards and spineless wonders. That goes for all of them.
– Supposing their views are the same as the Minister’s?
– Anybody’s views can be the same as mine, but such a person should at least have the courage to say that he agrees with me, or - and this would require some courage - to say that he disagrees with me. I mentioned the honorable member for Bendigo and the honorable member for Capricornia because they said outside the House that they agreed with my administration of the policy.
– The Minister did not listen to all the speeches.
– I listened to the honorable member for Wimmera and he made me sick, as he usually does. The Returned Servicemen’s League is behind this Government 100 per cent, in connexion with this matter. It says it supports the maintenance of the policy and its present administration. It supports the bills that provide that war-time refugees must leave Australia. The Australian Natives Association has said the same thing in a letter addressed to me, which was signed by the federal president of the organization. It reads -
You may he assured my dear Mr. Minister that the members of this great Australian association, together with, 1 firmly believe, every other good Australian comprising the overwhelming majority of the Australian people, stand four-square with you in your declaration “ that irrespective of who criticizes or who complains, and irrespective of whatever practices the opponents of our immigration laws may resort to, these laws will remain unchanged and unchangeable. They are rooted in the hearts and minds of the Australian people and those who would tamper with these laws may do so only at their own peril.
I welcome those commendations from two great representative organizations. I leave it to the House now to say whether it supports me and the Government, whether it supports the principles contained in the bill, or whether it is prepared to oppose them. If honorable members opposite will not vote against this bill then let them stand condemned forever as having the capacity to shout and yell outside the Parliament whilst lacking the courage and determination to make their views effective inside the Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Not one honorable member opposite voted against the question.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Certificate to enter or remain temporarily).
– This is the clause in regard to which honorable members opposite, if they are not to prove to be a lot of gutless wonders, can make their position clear. It is a clause in regard to which they can move to diminish my powers. . If they will not move to diminish my powers, then they have got to put up with me and my exercise of those powers. I shall not be influenced by what honorable members opposite said when they asked me to treat certain cases differently from other cases. All cases will be treated alike. There will be no favouritism shown to one case or another nor will there by any fear shown in the administration of the law. That is the only honest way in which this law can be administered and it is the way in which it has always been administered. What is proposed in this clause is to restore the legal position to what we thought it was before the High Court of Australia gave its decision in the O’Keefe case. The court said that the Government Gould not do certain things. The Government’s legal advisers advised that if certain languages were used in the statute those things could be done. In this clause I propose to take the power to do them. Those who do not want me to have that power may vote against the clause or move an amendment, perhaps to provide for a quota system. They can move for the insertion of a completely new clause if they choose. The title of the bill specifically states -
A bill foi an act to amend the Immigration Act 1901-1948, and for other purposes.
The words “ and for other purposes “ were included so that honorable members opposite would not be precluded from moving an amendment merely on the technical ground that the title of the bill was not comprehensive enough. If the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) desires to move his “ black, brown or brindle “ amendment, he can do it now.
– I rise primarily to express to the Minister my profound sympathy. Never since I came into this Parliament have I seen a man so bitterly disappointed. All his heroics have been wasted. All his attempts to create a false issue have been frustrated. He reminds me of nothing so much as the celebrated passage in English literature which described the Mauretanian tiger as lashing himself into a fury with his own tail - a word which might be spelt either way and still be completely appropriate. It may or may not be necessary, but I have decided that it is necessary for the Opposition to state once more where it stands in this matter. I do not feel any embarrassment in speaking on behalf of the Opposition because I had assumed that the Minister was speaking on behalf of the Government. As Leader of the Opposition, I see nothing odd whatever in making our position perfectly clear - although the Minister appeared to experience considerable embarrassment in speaking on behalf of the Government - on a matter in which the Minister’s chief ambition has been to create false impressions and to give a false impression to the people. So I restate the position. We, on this side of the chamber, have been responsible for the administration of this national policy for 36 of the 48 years of the history of the Commonwealth. I have only to say that to indicate what nonsense it is to assert that there has been some division in the Opposition parties about the immigration policy. The criticisms that have been made by the Opposition - and I believe that I have voiced my criticism with singular moderation and that I made great concessions to the Minister by so doing - are that the Minister has assumed that he has no discretion whatever in any individual case. I point out to the committee once more that again and again the present legislation confers a discretion upon the Minister. Indeed, I repeat something that I said on a former occasion, when I say that the real point of criticism is that the Minister, on his own showing, has declined to exercise that discretion, although the very law which he invokes imposes upon him the necessity for exercising discretion. That its our point.
Of course the Opposition is in favour of the Immigration Act. Of course we are in favour of altering a law. a loop hole in which has been discovered by a decision of the High Court. I make no secret of that. The decision of the High Court - a majority decision - produced a result that none of us had ever thought of before. It produced this state of affairs: that the act meant something that no one in the Parliament ever understood it to mean in the course of 48 years of administration. To overcome that difficulty the Minister has introduced a hill to amend that act. We support him in endeavouring to overcome that difficulty. However, we take advantage of the occasion to point out that as the act stands at present, and- even when it has been amended, it will still contain a dozen different provisions which repose a discretion in the Minister who has to administer it. When the Minister is confronted by a case which falls within any of these provisions he will have to consider the facts of that particular case. In fact, all the debate on the Immigration Act that has taken place in this chamber recently has arisen out of two or three cases. I, myself, participated in the debate on one of them, the 0’ Keefe case. I remind the committee that in that case the matter to be decided was not whether the O’Keefe’s were to he left here in perpetuity, but whether, in spite of the circumstances, they should le sent out of the country. That was, I repeat, a matter of discretion.
I do not begin to understand why the Minister, whose views on the national policy are identical with my own, should rigidly get himself into a position of saying : “ I cannot exercise my discretion in favour of an individual without automatically opening the flood-gates and destroying the whole policy “ - as he expressed himself on one occasion. So, I simply repeat that the Opposition has made it clear that it supports the Immigration Act and it supports the principle of this amending legislation. The Opposition has urged upon the Minister that he should apply a discretionary mind - indeed, a discreet mind - to the matters that come before him for decision. That is the whole line that we have adopted throughout the discussion of this act, and that is still our view. I deeply regret that the Minister’s ambitions should be frustrated or his feelings wounded because he cannot persuade the Opposition to cast a vote that he will then describe as a vote against the policy that we have upheld consistently when our parties have been in office. I am sorry to disappoint him in that respect, but I have risen to make it quite clear that notwithstanding the Minister’s disappointment, we stand as we have always stood on this matter. I have repeated our position merely so that it will not be obscured by anything that the Minister has said.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has offered me his sympathy. I think that he had better save it for himself and the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). They will need a lot of sympathy when they are explaining away their attitude before the electorate. I promise them my best endeavours to elucidate their position when they are endeavouring to explain it to the electorate. The Leader of the Opposition said that the political parties which he represents have been in power for 32 years, but I remind him that a long time has elapsed since they were last in power. Indeed, that time has been so long that they have nearly forgotten the taste of power. The Leader of the Opposition said that when they were in office they had power to administer this law with discretion. So they did. We have had the same power for eight years, and we have administered it with precisely the same discretion as they exercised. What he wants me to do now is something that they would never do when they were in power during those 32 years. No nonLabour administration would ever admit the right of an Australia to bring in an Asiatic-born wife or husband. None of them would permit it. In the course of my second-reading speech I cited instances of their refusal to do so. Sir William Glasgow, Sir George Pearce, the Hon. J. A. J. Hunter and several other members of non-Labour administrations who administered our immigration laws at various periods said to Japanese pearlers and others, “ You cannot stay in Australia merely because you have married an aboriginal woman; you have to go “. That is all I am doing now. In this debate the Opposition has dishonestly failed to face up to the issue that the people whom I have refused permission^ to stay in this country are not those who were admitted to Australia in accordance with the provisions of the act as it was ordinarily understood, from 1901 to 1939. Our critics deliberately ignore the fact that the cases under discussion are those of war-time refugees and not of individuals who are ordinarily admitted to this country under our laws. Members of the Opposition do not criticize my administration in connexion with those who have entered this country under the ordinary operation of our laws, because they cannot find anything to criticize.. They criticize me in regard to those people, who came in as war-time refugees and. now remain in Australia. Those people arc a recalcitrant minority who have refused to go home. Approximately 6,000 Asiatic war-time refugees entered Australia during the war. Four thousand left Australia without causing difficulty; others were persuaded to go under threat of deportation, whilst others were actually deported. There remain a comparatively small number who like this country and are endeavouring to remain here. The right honorable gentleman said that there were a score or so of such cases and that they should be allowed to remain here. I remind ‘him that when anti-Labour administrations were in office none of them ever permitted any such persons to remain. The Leader of the Opposition complained of my having refused to exercise a discretion to permit them to remain. I say that I have exercised that discretion neither more nor less than did the Opposition parties when they were in power. He has asked me to make exceptions in the case of those who came to this country during the war because they were refugees, but I have refused to do so. Because he speaks on behalf of the Opposition parties, I say that they are breaking down the “White Australia policy to the extent that they seek to establish such precedents that it would be impossible to maintain the White Australia policy in future and be consistent. More and more of these cases will arise. Every day in the week - and I am not speaking figuratively, but literally - people are coming to us and saying, “ Why cannot Australianborn people bring in wives or fiancees from Asiatic countries ? “ We have a large Australian population who are of Chinese ethnic origin. They have some tradition that they should bring their husbands or their wives from China to Australia. I refuse to allow them to do so. As Australians, they are entitled to no more rights and no less rights than any other Australian has, and they cannot be Australians on the one hand, and Chinese on the other. If I agree that refugees who were washed up on these shores during the war may remain here, how can I deny to Australians of Asiatic origin, to whom we have given all the rights and privileges of Australian citizenship, the right to bring in their wives and husbands from Asiatic countries? I refuse to make that alteration in the practice of my Labour and non-Labour predecessors, who have administered our immigration laws. Because I take that attitude, I am attacked by the Opposition and the press.
The Leader of the Opposition has said that he has attacked me on the case of Mrs. O’Keefe. That is true, but there are other people who attack me because I will not allow Gamboa to live in Australia. After I have twice refused him the right to reside here permanently, he dishonestly suggests that he should be allowed to enter as a visitor. Once he entered Australia, I should have to go through all the processes of the law to put him out, and the fifth column press of the country would write up the case, and publish photographs of the woman as she was putting her children to bed at night, thereby playing on the sentiment and tearing at the heartstrings of other women in order to depict me as a heartless creature. There was a time when a wife went with, her Husband to her husband’s domicile. We have now reached a new order, apparently, in this age of sex equality, when a wife determines or has an equal right in determining where the husband shall reside. I am not letting Gamboa, into Australia. The Leader of the Opposition has not attacked me for that’, but some of his followers have done so.. The Tower of Babel is not to be compared with the differing voices that are raised among members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party on our immigration policy.
They make attacks on me on the ground that I am not using my discretionary power. I throw their charges in their teeth. I have not acted contrary to the established policy that my predecessors followed. None of them had a war-time refugee problem to handle, tt is a new and special problem, and it must be handled in a special way. In 1943, Cabinet decided that all the refugees should leave Australia by 1945. However, in 1945, Cabinet said, in effect, “Well, conditions are still disturbed in the world. We shall allow the refugees to remain until June, 1947 “. If I had got rid of them in 1945-
– - The Minister used his discretionary power.
– No. In that instance, the discretionary power was not invoked. There were physical difficulties in the way of returning the refugees to their native lands.
– I still say that the Minister invoked his discretionary power.
– Second-rate lawyers can twist words any way they like. In 1945, Cabinet decided that the war-time refugees had to leave this country by June, 1947. There had to come a limit some time. I gave some exemptions-
– Of course the Minister did. He exercised hia discretionary power.
– I gave some exemptions for various purposes after 1947, but all the time, I indicated to the persons concerned that a final date for their departure had to be fixed. The final date was fixed, not immediately the war ended but from three to three and a half years after they should have gone to their homes. But they dug in their toes, and said, “ We will fight “. A newspaper raised subscriptions to help them to fight. For what reason? To enable them to remain longer? Not at all! The purpose was to enable them to remain here permanently. The honorable member for Warringah has a distinguished colleague, Mr. J. Cassidy, K.C., of Sydney, and his name appeared with that of Ah Fat iii the subscription list. The name of another Liberal, Dr. F. A. Maguire, appeared with that of Lee Jan Sing, and the jockey,. Darby Munro, was bracketed with Asiatics in the subscription list which had been opened for the purpose of defeating the whole policy, and enabling certain, refugees to remain permanently in Australia. A sum of £1,000 was raised by this anti-Australian newspaper for thepurpose of defeating the White Australia policy, and allowing those people to remain here permanently. They are not staying here permanently. I repeat that. A time had to be fixed, and if I had not been so considerate, I would have none of the problems and none of the headache*, that I have since acquired.
– It is most difficult to follow the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell), ne ranges from China to Peru, from the subject of Mrs. O’Keefe and Sergeant Gamboa to the White Australia policy, for which he has stood these many years, but which he discovered only a few days ago. The honorable gentleman is what I call a psychological problem. I need not go back any further than this afternoon to find an instance of his method of dealing with this matter. He has questioned the sincerity of honorable members on this side of the chamber who have supported the White Australia policy. That was a most impudent thing to do. The Minister must know perfectly well what the position is. I remind him that I voted for this White Australia policy in 1901, long, long before the dreadful calamity of his coming overwhelmed an already burdened world. I need not particularize about it further, for there he is in front of us. However, it was in 1901 that the White Australia policy was introduced by a Liberal government, and was supported by all the parties in the Parliament, irrespective of their political views. It worked so effectively and so smoothly for nearly 50 years that no incident occurred with our eastern neighbours.
– That is not so.
– There was no O’Keefe case or Gamboa case, and admittedly the High Court had not told us about the constitutional difficulty regarding certain aspects of our immigration laws. But as for the White Australia policy in ite broadest aspects the Liberal party has as much right to claim it as its own as has the Minister’s own party.
– Not at all.
– I feel most seriously about the Minister’s remarks on this subject.
– The right honorable gentleman ought to, because he has reason to.
– Of course I ought, and I am. The Minister ought, and he is not. I desire to point out that nearly 50 years ago I voted for the White Australia policy.
– As a supporter of the Labour party.
– I was one of those responsible for it, and I am of the same opinion to-day as I was then.
– The right- honorable gentleman is not.
– Yes, I am. If the Minister shakes his head so vigorously, it will come off. We do not want that to happen. I was for the White Australia policy 50 years ago and I am for it to-day. Speaking on the immigration policy some days ago, I said -
I want to make it clear to honorable members and to the people of this country that the White Australia is not a mere banner waved by politicians and waved to inflame party passions. It is a living thing. White Australia is Australia, and everything that is inherent in the White Australia policy is vital to the very existence of Australia itself. [n the face of these words does the Minister still say that my position is to-day what it was when the Immigration Restriction Act was passed ?
– Of course it is.
– There is no logic in that assertion. Rob the Minister of his gesticulations and his passion for the limelight, and what is left? Nothing.
– The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) was a, member of the first Commonwealth Parliament, and, of course, in those days he was a member of the Labour party.
– And a very distinguished member, too.
– Yes, but he deserted the Labour party for the flesh-pots.
– No. The Labour party deserted him.
– As the Country party deserted the honorable member for’ Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) perhaps? I repeat that the right honorable member for North Sydney deserted the Labour party in 1916 and got £25,000 for doing it.
– Where were you?
– I did not get £25,000, anyway. The right honorable member was a dynamic force, and it was probably he who black-mailed the BartonDeakin Government into putting the White Australia policy on the statutebook as the price of Labour’s support.
– Go on.
– The right honorable member told me that himself.
– I cannot let the Minister get away with that.
– I did not want to mention these things, but the right honorable member cannot deny them because the evidence is clear. In the course of his second-reading speech on this measure last week, the right honorable member said, in an attempt to ridicule my administration, that I should have allowed Mrs. O’Keefe to remain in this country.
– That is the Minister’s business. What is the trouble between him and Mrs. O’Keefe, anyway?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Burke). - Order ! The debate can proceed without these continuous interjections.
– There are some most interesting passages in the right honorable gentleman’s book, The Splendid Adventure, published in 1929. Whereas to-day he pleads for tolerance of Asiatic people, in 1901 he sought their total exclusion. In the book to which I have referred, he said - and no Labour man to-day has ever affronted the Asiatic people in this way - 1 regard as undesirable those persons who from their habits, their traditions, their racial peculiarities or their code of morality are unfit to mix with us on terms of industrial, moral and social equality. That is a very wide definition and would exclude a very large proportion of the inhabitants ‘of the earth.
.- The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) sees an enemy behind every tree. He believes that every hand is against him, and that every criticism of his administration is inspired by malice or party political consideration!). That means, of course, that every public man and every clergyman in Australia who has dared to suggest that the Minister might have been wrong in his administration of our immigration policy has been speaking maliciously or in bad faith. The fact is that every criticism of any substance that I have heard or read has been only of the manner in which the Minister has administered a policy with which everybody in this chamber agrees. The Minister claims that the policy must be administered’ in the same way as it has been administered by his predecessors; but everybody knows that throughout the 48 years of Australia’s immigration policy there have been countless exceptions made in individual cases. The telescope has now and then been put to the blind eye. The very fact that thousands of people came to Australia in wartime and that the Minister is now attempting to deport some of them is an admission that discretion has been exercised in the past. Yet he says that he must never exercise discretion. I shall draw the attention of the committee to a recent case in which the Minister did what he now claims he must not do. Everybody in this chamber is familiar with the case of Gwen da Yee. a Chinese girl of seventeen or eighteen years of age, who was born in China and was brought to this country with other members of her large family by her Britishborn Chinese father. A couple of years ago, her father decided to take his family back to China and made arrangements to do so. The family had required landing permits upon arrival in Australia. Gwenda wanted to remain in this country and she ran away from home. There was a newspaper story that she was to be taken back to China to marry a Chinese. The Minister announced his intention to enforce the law against Gwenda Yee and’, in the jargon of the courts, he sought to have her “picked up” so that the dictation test could be applied to her.
She was in love with an Australian soldier, and there was a great public outcry by various people, including members of returned soldiers’ organizations, who wanted her to be allowed to remain in this country. Her father still wanted her to return with the family to China and the Minister sided with him. Subsequently, officers of the Crown Solicitor’s Department appeared in the police court proceedings at which the girl sought leave to marry, and leave was refused with the Government’s support. The attitude taken was that the girl must go. Public agitation continued, and another application was made for leave for the girl to be married. Once again the Crown was represented, but this time not to oppose the granting of leave, but to urge that the matter be left to the court.
– Does the honorable member know why?
– Yes, we all know why.
– It was a disgraceful business.
– It was disgraceful for the Minister to say one thing and then to do the very opposite and now say that he must not do so. However, the girl was eventually given leave to marry, and the Minister abandoned his previous attitude and permitted her to remain in this country and marry the Australian soldier. I am not saying whether the Minister was right or wrong in doing that.
– Why not?
– At one stage I took the view that the father’s wishes should prevail and that she should return to China. However, that is neither here or there. I do not complain because she is now here and is the wife of an Australian citizen, but I do draw the attention of the committee to the fact that the Minister - quite properly perhaps - did exercise his discretion, and permit the girl to remain in this country. I shall offer no opinion on that decision. The fact remains that he took action under the Immigration Act which he now says hs had never taken. Both the Minister and I know that special circumstances were associated with that case. However, if the Minister’s action was proper in that instance, why should he not exercise his discretion on other occasions when the facts justify such action? The Minister now says that he cannot exercise his discretion, and that every one must be placed on the same footing. That is nonsense. No two cases involving human beings are identical. Every case must be considered according to its special circumstances as was done - although the Minister denies it - in the case of Gwenda Yee
.- During this debate, there has been a good deal of discussion about the exercise of discretion by the Minister. This question should be considered in relation to permanent and temporary admissions of Asiatics. No one will claim that the White Australia policy which, according to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), is favoured by his party, as well as by the Government, does not exclude Asiatics from entering Australia for permanent residence. Therefore, in peace-time, the only question that arises is the exercise of discretion to admit Asiatics to Australia on a temporary basis. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) did not deny that, in some circumstances, Asiatics are admitted to Australia on a temporary basis. That is in accordance with a well-settled policy. Does the Leader of the Opposition think that, under this bill, which does not deal with ordinary, peace-time administration, discretion should be exercised to admit to Australia persons who would be denied permanent entry into Australia under the White Australia policy? The Leader of the. Opposition talked in a loose way about the exercise of discretion, as also did the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale). Is it suggested that persons who were given sanctuary in Australia during the war - and discretion was exercised in admitting them in the first place - should be allowed to prolong indefinitely their stay in this country so as to give them, in effect, the right to permanent residence here? If that be so, then it must be determined in each case whether an extension of the period of stay is justified.
– What is wrong with that?
– I am not quibbling about that, except to say that we have the word of the Minister that the people against whom action has been taken had long outstayed their welcome; that in their cases all kinds of pretexts were raised to circumvent the provisions of the act, and to justify their continued residence in Australia. The word “ discretion “ as used in the act ought to be more clearly defined. This bill relates to special categories of Asiatics, namely, those people who sought sanctuary here during the war. The Leader of the Opposition criticized the Minister for not exercising discretion in their cases; whereas, in fact, discretion was exercised under the act in admitting them to Australia in the first place. It would be helpful if the Leader of the Opposition would tell us where he and his party stand in relation to the larger question; that is, normal admission of Asiatics under peace-time conditions. If he does so, we shall then be able to judge whether the Opposition really supports the White Australia policy.
– I should like to put the record straight. The remarks of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) that I quoted were taken from a speech delivered on the 6th December, 1905, on the Immigration Restriction Amendment Bill, not from his book, The Splendid Adventure. But I have a quotation from The Splendid Adventure where, at page 357, the right honorable member preaches his bitter racialism in these words -
For a people so situated the only alternative to national and racial extinction is a policy of rigid exclusion. . . . We could not assimilate Asiatics without radically changing our racial, social and economic character.
Let me now reply to the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale). I think he ought to have told the whole story. He knows the story, and the circumstances of the case to which he referred. A young Chinese girl applied to the court for permission to marry, and the court refused permission. According to the newspapers, she went into “ smoke “. She emerged from “ smoke “ four months later, three months pregnant, and again applied to the court for permission to marry. Her lawyer saw me, and asked me whether I would have her apprehended if she went into the court. Seeing that there was the interest of the unborn child to consider, I said that I would not have her apprehended. It was not a question of giving her permission to stay in Australia, and I think it is a pretty rotten case on which to base an argument for the exercise of discretion.
.- There is no doubt about my position regarding the White Australia policy, and I am absolutely certain that other members on the Opposition side of the House take up the same position, although they may argue about minor aspects of it. I believe that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) should exercise some reason and fairness in his dealings with war refugees, especially those who might be risking their lives by returning to their own, countries. He mould make certain, before sending them back, that they will not come under the power of those who are hostile to them because they fled before the Japanese.
– I always do that. I refused to send the Javanese back to be mishandled by the Dutch.
– That is one important instance in which discretion should be exercised. I believe that the Minister made a mistake in the Gamboa case, as t have already told him. He was in a position to lay down terms upon which Gamboa could enter Australia to see his wife, and he could have ensured that Gamboa left the country at the end of the allotted time. As far as Mrs. O’Keefe is concerned, I do not believe that people who came here under the stress of war to seek sanctuary have any right to stay here now that they have no further need of sanctuary. Any Australian who married such a person did so in the knowledge that he took the risk of his wife being deported. He must abide by the consequences of his action. I do not believe for a moment that any member of the Opposition considers that we are not within our rights in administering the White Australia policy with fairness and justice, hut unflinchingly to safeguard the White Australia policy.
. -The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) sought to convey to the com mittee and to the country a wrong impression of what I had written in my book, The Splendid Adventure, and of what I had said in this chamber and outside it. In a recent speech in this House, I repeated what I had said in 1901 when the original Immigration Restriction Act was under consideration. I was entirely in favour of Mr. Deakin’s proposal, although it stopped short of what the Labour party desired. Because I was a member of the Labour party then, I naturally would have preferred its policy to be embodied in the legislation. However, members of the Labour party accepted Mr. Deakin’s proposal because they were satisfied that it would achieve, in effect, all that they desired. It is perfectly true that, by virtue of our geographic circumstances, the attitude of the Labour party was directed towards the exclusion of coloured labour. That attitude was dictated, not by colour, but by the fact that danger to our living standards was to be feared from that quarter. We would have opposed the immigration of white labour of low living standards just as strongly as we opposed coloured labour. In fact, that attitude has persisted through the years. Only recently, the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward) protested very vigorously against the danger that was to be feared as the result of the immigration policy of the Minister for Immigration.
– He did not.
– He may have been wrong, or the Minister for Immigration may have been wrong.
– He was misreported.
– Never mind about that. He did protest. Does the Minister for Immigration deny it?
– Does the Minister still deny it?
– The honorablegentleman ought to wait until the cock crows. Then he will have denied it three times. Ho should have told the committee what I had written in my hook.
– I did so.
– No. The honorable gentleman gave a bowdlerized version of what I had written.
– I gave the “meat” of it.
– No. On page 357 of my book, The Splendid Adventure, I stated -
The “White Australia” policy- as it is generally called - is an integral part of the national life of the Australian people, and although the subject of much hostile criticism, the geographical, racial, and economic circumstances of the Commonwealth amply justify it. Australia, a Western nation seated at the gateway to the East, has a population of little more than six millions thinly scattered over a great continent.
That was written some time ago, of course.
– In 1929.
– That is right. It is about the only time that the Minister has been right. The quotation continues -
The people are remarkably homogeneous; the overwhelming majority are of British stock, and have ideals, traditions, and standards of living vastly different from those of the teeming millions of Asia. For a people so situated the only alternative to national and racial extinction is a policy of rigid exclusion. Australia, by her attitude towards Eastern peoples, does not arrogantly assert her superiority over other races : it is dictated by the instinct of self preservation. The “ White Australia “ policy is a gesture of defence, not of defiance. We do not regard Asiatics as inferiors, but as different from ourselves, believing that the ideals, traditions, and standards of living in the East are so incompatible with our own that we could never live with them as fellow-citizens. We could not assimilate Asiatics without radically changing our racial, social and economic character. We do not think it good for ourselves, for them, or for the people of the world that we should shatter our ideals or water down the standard of living we have evolved.
I amplified that a few days ago. I have quoted my speech in 1901, the book that I wrote in 1929, and the speech that I made last week. I repeat definitely what I said last week -
I want to make it clear to honorable members, and to the people of this country, that White Australia is not a mere banner waved, by politicians and waved toinflame party passions. It is a living thing. White Australia is Australia, and everything that is inherent in the White Australia policy is vital to the very existence of Australia itself.
That is my policy. On that I stand.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Where, before the commencement of this act, a person . . . purported to issue a certificate of exemption to a person named in the certificate . . . the certificate shall be deemed to have been validly issued, and the provisions of the Principal Act, as so amended, shall apply to and in relation to the person named in the certificate, and to and in relation to the certificate, as if the certificate had been issued under the Principal Act as so amended.
– I move -
That the words “as so amended “, first occurring, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “ as amended by this Act “.
This amendment has been suggested by the draftsmen with a view to making the position even clearer than it was at first thought to be.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment, report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 9th June (vide page 814), on motion by Mr. Calwell -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– in reply - Most of the things which honorable members wished to say in relation to this bill were said during the consideration of the Immigration Bill, which has just been disposed of, as the result of an understanding that whilst the two bills were to be treated separately in accordance with the Standing Orders, the debate would be concentrated on the Immigration Bill as that procedure would to some degree save the time of the House.
– We covered the ground in the discussion of the Immigration Bill
– As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has said, the ground has been covered. On the measure now before us the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) has delivered a bitter and bucolic speech. He has charged me with all sorts of things. I did not note his exact words, nor did I read a word of his speech as reported in Hansard or in the press ; but I knew from the general tenor of his observations that he was seeking an opportunity to pay back a few old scores. He is entitled to that privilege if he desires to exercise it. “What I propose to do by this bill is to strengthen legislation we have just passed, so that if the Immigration Act does not suffice, this special measure will meet the situation. This bill specifically deals with the ease of war-time evacuees. If the House agrees to this bill it will decide that all war-time evacuees, without exception, must leave Australia. If honorable members opposite want a division to be taken on the second reading of this bill, I shall be most happy to hear the division bells ringing.
Mr. Francis interjecting,
– The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) does not want a division to be taken on this bill any more than do other Opposition members. The honorable member for Reid has been in this Parliament for only a couple of years.
– Two years too long!
– I agree with the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Sheehy). The honorable member for Reid has indulged in a lot of bitterness in the speeches which he has made in this Parliament. I do not suppose he was ever more violent or vicious in his attack than he was in the few words which I heard him say when speaking on this measure last week. In my charity I ascribe it all to his senility. One cannot expect an elderly man past the middle seventies to have the alertness which he exhibited in his earlier years. The honorable member is well aware of what I, perhaps more than anybody else in Australia, did to depose him from the leadership of the Australian Labour party in Few South Wales. So, these bitter speeches from the honorable gentleman are not unexpected. If honorable members opposite join him in calling for a division I shall be most happy. On this occasion, however, although he is their de facto leader they will not follow him.
Mr. Holt interjecting,
– The honorable memfor Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has returned to the chamber for the discussion of this bill after having been sent out during the discussion on the Immigration Bill. It will be interesting to see whether or not he will ask for a division on this bill. The honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) has foreshadowed an amendment seeking to embody in the bill a provision which is included in the Aliens Deportation Act. The Government cannot accept her amendment. I shall give the reasons why I do not propose to limit my authority or the authority of any officer-
– Order 1 That will be a matter for discussion by the committee.
– I merely tell the honorable member for Bourke in advance that the Government cannot accept her foreshadowed amendment so that before she decides how to vote on the second reading of the bill, she will know in advance the attitude of the Government towards her proposal.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short title).
– This clause reads -
This Act may be cited as the War-time Refugees Removal Act 194.9.
I understand, and have so understood from the time the Minister introduced these bills, that he has introduced the two measures in order to be able to rely on two heads of power. In this bill he is relying on the war-time powers to uphold what may be done to certain individuals. As I have already indicated the title of this bill seems to be unnecessarily offensive in character. It is to be cited as the War-time Refugees Removal Act. After all, a great many of the people who will be affected by this legislation came here after having felt the stress of war - most of them before we felt it ourselves. Some of them were subsequently engaged in the armed services of the allied forces. It is true that they were refugees. Why is it necessary to describe an act of Parliament as one to remove them from Australia? I put it to the Minister quite seriously that he would lose none of the effect of this legislation, and that he would get rid of the possible effect of a misunderstanding, if he omitted the word “ removal “ from the title, merely describing the measure as the War-time Refugees Act. Such an omission could not weaken the substantive provisions of the legislation. They would still give discretionary authority to the Minister to order certain people to leave Australia, if he thought fit. Having regard to the form of the legislation it may not be necessary for the honorable gentleman to order some of them to leave Australia at all. If I thought that the Minister would accept an amendment omitting the word “ removal “ from the title of the bill, I should be prepared to move accordingly.
Mr. CALWELL (Melbourne - Minister for Information and Minister for Immigration [5.48]. - I have discussed the title of this bill with the legal advisers of the Government who thought that the present short title was the right one to use. I had an idea that the legislation might be entitled “ The War-time Refugees Repatriation Act”; but the Government’s legal advisers objected on the ground that it might be confused with our repatriation legislation. The legal officers said that for the purposes of clarity the measure would be better described as a removal rather than a repatriation act.
– Apparently it was not one of their brightest days.
– Although the right honorable gentleman may not think so, the legal officers are very bright people. They have framed a great deal of legislation at very short notice and very little of it has been challenged. The bill is described in the long title as an act to provide for the removal from Australia of certain persons who entered Australia during the period of hostilities, and accordingly, we have used the word “ removal “ in its short title.
– I agree that if my suggestion were adopted it would be necessary to alter the long title of the bill. I think that the word “ repatriation “, as suggested by the Minister, would have been an immeasurably better word than “ removal “.
– That was my idea; but, being modest, I abandoned it in favour of the advice of the Government’s legal advisers.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 2 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 -
The Minister may make an order for the deportation of a person to whom this Act applies -and that person shall be deported in accordance with this Act.
.- I am opposed to the clause in its entirety and shall move for its deletion and the substitution of the new clause that I have drafted, of which the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) has a copy. My proposed clause is virtually the same as section 5 of the Aliens Deportation Act that was passed by this chamber last year. I consider that what was good at that time should be equally good now. Last December the Minister said -
There is a body of opinion which is to the effect that an alien, who fails to become a naturalized British subject after residing in Australia for six, seven or eight years, ought to be removed from Australia for refusing to become naturalized.
Despite this body of opinion government* have refused to submit legislation to compel aliens to leave, because it was thought to be unfair.
But the Minister who introduced this bill was not afraid of being thought unfair.
– I rise to order. The now clause foreshadowed by the honorable member has not been read or distributed in the chamber. I consider that honorable members should know the text of it.
– I submitted a draft of my proposed new clause to the Minister over a week ago. Although I arn sorry if it has not been circulated, the matter is out of my hands. I shall read it in a few minutes. It is possible that the Minister may have over-estimated the strength of the body of opinion already mentioned. This bill provides that wartime refugees who are aliens can be deported. There are other aliens who can be deported if considered to be undesirable. The law already takes care of that aspect. The measure excludes nonaliens, whether or not they are undesirable, at the discretion of the Minister. If they are undesirable the Minister can deport them under the provisions of the Aliens Deportation Act 1948. However, if the Minister must deport war-time refugees, let him usesection 5 of that legislation instead of the clause we are now considering, which gives the Minister absolute power. Accordingly, I move -
That the clause be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following clause:- “5. - (1.) If it appears to the Minister that the conduct and character of a person to whom this act applies is such that that person should not be allowed to remain in Australia, the Minister may, by notice in writing, summon the person to appear before a Commission, at the time and place specified in the summons. (2.) A Commissioner for the purposes of this section shall be appointed by the GovernorGeneral and shall be or shall have been a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State or of a Territory which forms part of the Commonwealth. (3.) The Commissioner shall make a thorough investigation of the conduct and character of the person without regard to legal forms and shall not be bound by any rules of evidence, but may inform himself on any relevant matter in such manner as he thinks fit. (4.) After the investigation the Commissioner shall report to the Minister as to whether the Commissioner considers that the person is a fit and proper person to be allowed to remain in Australia. (5.) If-
the Commissioner reports that he considers that the person is not a fit and proper person to be allowed to remain in Australia; or
the person fails toappear before the
Commissioner at the time and place specified in the summons, the Minister may make an order for deportation of the person from Australia and the person shall be deported accordingly.”.
The suggested substitute clause contains a discretionary power and something more : it gives protection also. Under the Aliens Deportation Act 1948 a certain protection is provided for the alien or person to be deported. In this bill there is no such provision. Because they are war-time refugees there is to be no protection. Why not? By this clause I think that the Minister is breaking a promise that he gave to the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) when the former bill was before this chamber. No provision is here made for the alien or undesirable person to obtain assistance of counsel, or any other form of guidance. Under the clause the Minister has the power in his own hands. That is contrary to all ideas of justice, and is extremely dangerous. I oppose such a provision. In its present form this measure is not worthy in law, for it is not based on justice. Furthermore, it is not even common sense, because it is not sensible to offend inoffensive people.
– The clause that the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) seeks to amend gives the Minister power to order the deportation of any person to whom this measure applies. It provides that the person concerned shall be deported in accordance with this bill. That clause has been written into the measure so as to effect the removal from this country of those who remain and who do not want to go, as soon as possible after the legislation is enacted. They have abused our generosity and hospitality, and just do not want to go. If we apply to them the ordinary processes of law, with the right of appeal, they will be here for another twelve months, and it will then be even more difficult to remove them. The honorable member proposes that these people shall be allowed to remain, except those that appear to the Minister to be unworthy to remain because of their conduct or character. The honorable member further suggests that such persons amongst these people whom the Minister regards as undesirable, because of their conduct or character, should have their cases adjudicated upon by a commissioner. The purpose of this bill is to get rid of all of them, not only some of them. The honorable member seeks to allow all of them to remain.
– Irrespective of the circumstances ?
– Yes, in due course. Although we shall be as compassionate as we have always been, those who have been given final notice for several years past have no right to extensions. Practically without exception, they will all be out of Australia before the end of August. If they had gone voluntarily, as they should have done, they would have left several years ago. The Government pays their full passage money, and provides them with decent living conditions on vessels such as they were never used to before in their lives. We treat them very reasonably when we ask them to go.
– Docs that cover white people as well as coloured people?
– We do not deport white people unless- they are of bad character. They could be covered by the bill. There remain about 800 of the people who came here originally.
– Are there no more white people among them?
– Not to my knowledge. Some, of course, claim that they are white. There are some mixtures, but no pure Europeans. Without exception, Europeans who came here as war-time evacuees left.
– What would be the position if there happened to he any white people amongst them?
– Although I do not intend to answer hypothetical cases, this bill will make provision for dealing with white people.
– Is it proposed that the remaining people shall be deported by the end of August?
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
.- Before the sitting was suspended the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) had moved an amendment to clause 5, which is now being considered, that was in line with an existing piece of legislation dealing with aliens. The effect of the amendment would be that if it appeared to the Minister that the conduct and character of a person to whom this legislation applied was such that that person should not be allowed to remain in Australia, certain steps may be taken, including an investigation by a commissioner who must be a judge of the Supreme Court of a State or of a territory forming part of the Commonwealth. The amendment, if accepted, would confine the power to deport to two classes of cases, first, the class of case in which the person concerned has, by conduct, disqualified himself or herself from remaining here; and secondly, the class of case in which the person concerned has, by character, so disqualified himself or herself. I am not able to agree that those two matters are the only matters that .ought properly to be considered. I should have been content to vote against the amendment and for the clause as it stands if ii had not been for the very remarkable statement that was make by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) before the suspension of the sitting. In order to justify my claim that the statement was a remarkable one, I shall remind the committee of the terms of this clause. The clause provides as follows : -
The Minister may make an order for the deportation of a person to whom this Act applies and that person shall be deported in accordance with this Act.
I emphasize the word “may”. Clause 4 specifies the categories of persons to which the legislation shall apply. They include every person who entered Australia during the period of hostilities and is an alien, and every person who, during the period of hostilities, entered Australia as a place of refuge, and who may not be an alien at all. Those are the persons described in the title of the bill as “ wartime refugees”. The clause we are now considering provides that the Minister may make an order for the deportation of a person to whom the legislation applies. The word “ may “ normally imports a discretion. There is nothing in the clause to suggest that in this instance it has any other meaning. In point of fact, the clause makes a sharp distinction between “may” and “ shall “ by providing that the Minister may make an order and that the person shall be deported. It is evident that “may” is intended to mean may and, therefore, that the clause is intended to confer on the Minister a power only. It is a power which, in his discretion, he may or may not decide to exercise. Before the sitting was suspended the Minister said, in substance, “I do not regard this as giving rise to any discretion. I say that I am going to deport them all. They will all be gone by August “.
– They will be deported if they do not go voluntarily.
– I accept the interjection. The Minister has said that they will either go quietly of their own accord or by compulsion, but they will all be gone by August. In other words, the honorable gentleman has told the committee that he is going to treat the clause as if it meant that the Minister shall make an order for the deportation of any person to whom the bill applies.
This is a convenient place and’ a convenient occasion to bring the Opposition’s ‘ view on this bill to a point. As I have said time after time, we have not, and we shall not, challenge the principle of the legislation as such. It represents a common, view in this country. But we have said that the Minister has a discretion and that he ought to exercise that discretion from time to time with good sense and fairness, and without being afraid to exercise it. Therefore, when the amendment that has been moved by the honorable member for Bourke has been dealt with, I shall move an amendment designed to bring into focus the whole point of issue on this legislation. I shall move that before the word “ may “ in clause 5 there shall be inserted the words, “ after consideration of .the facts of the. particular case “. If that amendment is accepted, the clause will read -
The Minister, after consideration of the facts of the particular case, may make an order for the deportation of a person to whom the Act applies.
I make no secret of any belief that that is what the clause means now, but the Minister proposes to treat it as involving no discretion at all. He has said1, in effect, “ I am not going to look at the facts of any particular case. They will go quietly or not, but all of them will be out before the end of August.”
– Does the right honorable gentleman claim that the words will make a difference?
– Let us make clear what I should have thought was already clear, that is, that this is a discretionary power. “We have not yet reached the stage in Australia where we have to toss people out of the country by act of Parliament. The amendment that I have foreshadowed, if accepted, will ensure proper consideration by the Minister of whether at any given moment he ought or ought not to make an order of deportation under the power that is to be conferred upon him by this bill. I cannot move that amendment now because there is another one before the Chair. “While I do not think that the amendment which is now under discussion is without merit, I think it puts the whole matter on far too narrow a basis and, therefore, I am unable to support it.
Mrs. BLACKBURN (Bourke) [8.71.- Under this clause, to which I am opposed, it seems that the Minister orders and the person goes. It is as easy, as that. I for one cannot be party to the introduction of such a despotic law into this country. “When I was speaking on the second reading of this bill I asked the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) a pointed question. I asked -
May I assume that the Minister is not actuated bv any racial prejudice in introducing this bill.
The Minister answered -
That is right.
I had a reason for asking the question. The honorable gentleman had said previously that he regarded the term “ White Australia “ as offensive to non-Europeans and that he considered it to be an inaccurate description of our immigration policy. I asked the question to find out what could be the reason for the introduction of this bill. The Minister said that it was not colour prejudice. I then enumerated a number of other factors that might afford reasons for the introduction of the bill, but I could not fit the measure in with any of them. I was forced to conclude that the Minister had introduced the measure in a fit of pique. I should be loath to accept that as a good reason. However, I am again wondering whether colour prejudice is not really behind the measure, and whether the Minister is not simply inconsistent. What he said last week does not hold good this week.
This measure affects the position of persons who came to Australia during the recent war. They came here to seek sanctuary or they were brought here because they could not go to any other country. Under what is known as British justice they should have the right of asylum, particularly if they are not a danger to the country and if their character and conduct are not in question. Why deny to them what is sound and just? They were torn from their own country during the recent war in which, probably, they had no interest. Now they are to be dumped back in those countries unwanted by Australia and, probably, unwanted in the countries from which they have come, where conditions for them have changed considerably. The Minister will not accept my amendment, but I have presented it in the words which he himself used only a few months ago. It promises counsel for those who might need counsel. Under this measure these persons can be thrown out of Australia without any further warning. When the Minister administered the law as he found it, no doubt to the best of his ability and understanding, I refused to criticize his actions even though I was asked to do so publicly on a number of occasions. However, when he makes a law to suit his own purpose, after having found that a mistake had been made and a weakness revealed in the law, I must strongly state my objection. I oppose the clause and, because of it, I oppose the bill.
– I wish to re-state the position which I thought I had made clear. The purpose of this bill is to remove from Australia all war-time refugees, to the number of 800, who have refused to go voluntarily. The power which the Minister needs arises from the fact that the judgment of the High Court in the case which involved Mrs. Annie O’Keefe places in jeopardy to some degree the powers which the Minister can exercise under the Immigration Act. The only way by which these people could be told now to go would be to give them a dictation test and issue new certificates of exemption, but if they have been here five years or more it is doubtful whether the court, in view of its recent judgment, would not hold that they had acquired some right of citizenship. It was never intended by the framers of the Constitution that the Immigration Act which in this respect has remained unaltered for 49 years would permit any such people to acquire permanent residence. The act was intended, as the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) has said, to exclude all Asiatic people; but it did not go as far as the Labour party at that period wanted it to go. There are 800 war-time refugees in Australia. They have refused to leave the country. lt is necessary to pass special legislation to effect their repatriation, compulsorily if necessary. That is all that the bill sets out to do. The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) would, as I said previously, allow all the people who we say should go to remain, except those who, because of their character or their conduct, are held to be undesirable and then only after a commissioner, appointed to adjudicate on the subject, had found them to be undesirable and unworthy of citizenship. The honorable member for Bourke has referred to the use of the term White Australia. I said in my second-reading speech that I did not like it. But the platforms of each of the three parties represented in this House, from which I quoted to-day, use the term White Australia. The expression is also used in party literature to describe succinctly the policy known as restrictive immigration. The honorable member for Bourke said that I have acted despotically when I have ordered the removal of these people. In doing what I have done I am .at least in line with American policy with regard to deportations, and one never hears criticism in the press of the United States of the action of .the United States Government in removing people who have broken its immigration laws.
– But what is wrong with British policy?
– I shall not be diverted from drawing attention to American immigration law because the United States of America, like Australia, has restricted immigration laws whereas Great Britain has not. Our own immigration law has not been popular with British political parties, and least of all with the British Labour party. It creates difficulties for them, but they are far removed from the scene of these happenings. I again draw attention to the figures which I cited during the second-reading debate. During 1946-47, the last year in respect of which figures are available, the United States deported 33,038 persons which represented approximately one deportee to every 4,200 of the population. During the same period Australia deported 143 persons, or approximately one deportee to 48,000 of our population. The United States Government deports its unwelcome guests to Asiatic and European countries alike. So far as I can ascertain America’s application of its deportation law is very rarely the subject of comment in the American press. However, great play is made in the Australian press on these few cases. Although I expect to remain Minister for Immigration for a long time yet, I shall eventually be succeeded by somebody - no doubt by a Labour man. However, I refuse to allow to stay here the twenty-odd persons to whom the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) referred, because should the Opposition parties ever again form the government of this country, which the Lord forbid, I would thereby have created very undesirable precedents which would make it very difficult for them to administer the law. I desire to preserve now and in the future the ideals underlying our restrictive immigration law. Out of consideration for them in the dim and distant future, as well as having in mind my own difficulties at present, I say that people who come here under certain conditions should be obi ged to fulfil those conditions, and if they will not do so they must be told that they cannot stay here any longer.
The Leader of the Opposition has told the committee that he proposes to move an amendment to add certain words which he thinks will emphasize the discretionary nature of the clause as drafted. We shall debate that particular proposition after we have dealt with the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Bourke, which cuts right across the bill. In effect, it says, “ Let them all stay except the undesirables; and let a commissioner adjudicate on who is to be considered undesirable, but don’t let the Minister do that. And when the commissioner decides, compel the few who come within his condemnation to go, but not otherwise”. I now trust that the committee will clearly recognize the difference between the opinion expressed by the honorable member for Bourke and that expressed in the clause and the hill as a whole.
.- I should have refrained from addressing myself to this bill had it not been for the remarks made by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) in the last five minutes, compared with those which he made on the same matter before the suspension of the sitting. I do not know precisely what the Minister intended to convey to the committee. As I understand it, his proposition is that this bill presents to the Opposition the choice of voting or not voting for a provision that is clear, namely, that under this clause as he interprets it the Minister shall - not “ may “ - deport all aliens to whom the act applies. There are two points that arise in regard to that. I cannot support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn), although I support some of the views that she has expressed, since I do not believe that the deportation of an individual who is an alien within the meaning of the act should depend upon character or conduct. That is not the purpose of the law, and it is not the purpose of the Opposition to support any such proposition. But it is the purpose of the Opposition to make it plain that, whilst we support the general principles of this bill, as we did during the secondreading stage, we are opposed to the Minister interpreting the passage of the bill by this chamber as a direction to him to deport all aliens irrespective of the circumstances that may affect individual cases. Before the suspension of the sitting I received two replies to an interjection that I had made, in which I had asked the Minister two things. First, the Minister said that he did not know whether there were any white people who would be covered by the measure; and, secondly, that in any event all wartime refugees would be out of the country by the end of August. That is to say, all aliens are to be deported within a matter of eight weeks. Some of the people to be deported may be suffering from serious illness. Are we to understand that, under the interpretation that will be given by the Minister to the passage of the bill by this Pari anient, it will be interpreted that we are giving to this Minister, whose blundering administration has done more to destroy the White Australia policy than anything else, the power to deport all these people irrespective of circumstances? Are we to understand that we are to give, by passing the bill containing thi3 clause, an absolute warrant to this Minister to bundle these people out of the country inside eight weeks, no matter what their individual circumstances may be? It may be that we shall have to deal with people who are desperately ill, or with young children who are not in a condition to be transferred to some other country. The Minister is apparently seeking to make this an issue in which, if we vote for the bill, we shall authorize him to remove immediately every one of these people from the country. I cannot imagine that any chamber in any democratic country would be prepared to give that authority to any Minister, least of all to the present Minister for Immigration.
– Then vote against the clause,
– The Minister has been endeavouring to engage in that kind of nonsense for the last three hours. He has endeavoured to create an issue where, in reality, no issue exists. The point that the Opposition has made time and time again is that it takes the view taken by our predecessors who were responsible for the White Australia policy, which the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) has made abundantly clear, but does not believe that the White Australia policy is supported by a completely arbitrary and inflexible approach to every case no matter what very special circumstances may exist in a particular case. The attitude of the Government seems to be that if a person is Asiatic he may not remain here for any length of time. It does not matter what his particular circumstances may be, he must be deported. What we on this side of the House have said in plain terms, which are not capable of any misinterpretation except by a Minister who is determined to misinterpret them in his own way for the purpose of mere political advantage, is that the White Australia policy must be maintained. But we have also said that in some instances there may be circumstances in which there is no justification for bundling people out now. We have never suggested for a moment that an Asiatic has any right, or should be enabled, to become an Australian citizen or to remain here permanently. We have said that in each case the question whether certain individuals should be deported now or be given some time before they must leave should be determined on its merits. For three or four years past, as. the Minister’s own speech revealed, he himself has given extensions of time to various people. Why did he do so? Because the circumstances justified the granting of extensions of time ! But apparently if we pass this bill without objection, the Minister will take it that we have empowered him to throw all the wartime refugees out of the country in eight weeks, no matter what special circumstances may apply to individual cases. If that is what the Labour party believes in, let it say so. I should have thought that the clause that we are discussing meant what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) said it meant, but apparently that is not so, judging by the interpretation placed by the Minister on it. The clause reads -
The Minister may make an order for the deportation of a person to whom this Act applies, and that person shall be deported in accordance with this Act.
I should have thought that the word “ may “ quite clearly confers a power of discretion on the Minister. If it was intended that no discretion was to apply, then the wording of the clause would have been -
The Minister shall make an order for the deportation of a person to whom this Act applies, and that person shall be deported in accordance with this Act.
I think that we should have that matter cleared up by the Minister, who, all the afternoon, has been fighting himself, shadow sparring, and engaging in scurrilous attacks on various honorable members, which is not unusual for the Minister. The Minister has attempted to make it appear that for him to make any concession in any case that comes before him would be to break down the White Australia policy. Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that the White Australia policy can only be maintained by thestrength of our own hand and by the help of the friends that we have around us. If we have the kind of administration that this Minister has characterized by his application of rule ofthumb methods, we shall only create ill will against ourselves that cannot advance the cause that all parties, I believe, stand for. This clause must be read in relation to the preceding clause, which gives to the Minister the power to certify that a person is a person to whom the act applies, and that that is “ prima facie evidence of the fact so certified “. If the Minister certified a man as an alien to whom the act applies he can issue an order to deport him without further ado. It is important to realize that there is no time limit on deportations. As I understand it, the bill provides that a man may be held without trial or without having any recourse to law for an indefinite period. That is the power that we are giving to the Minister. I know that my objection will be deliberately misinterpreted and that I shall be branded as one who has criticized the White Australia policy, but I shall take that risk. I desire to go on record as saying that if this clause means what the Minister says it means, and that he must deport all these people immediately, 1 am not prepared to give him, or any other Minister of any political persuasion, that power.
– Will the honorable member vote against the clause?
– The Minister has been engaging in this stupid manoeuvre all the afternoon. The words in the clause mean what they say, and there will be an opportunity of voting on it later on, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr.
Menzies) has foreshadowed another amendment. But this stupid trickery that the Minister has been engaging in for the purpose of trying to create false issues and covering up his own blundering administration, will not get him very far.
There is a second matter, about which nothing has been said by the Minister. I asked before the suspension of the sitting whether any white people were covered by this legislation. I think that that is an important matter, because if there are any white people covered by it we cannot let the matter be clouded by the term White Australia policy. Clause 4, which is the key to clause 5, provides -
This Act shall apply to every person -
who entered Australia during the period of hostilities and is an alien- which covers persons of any colour, whether they be white, brown or brindle -
who, during the period of hostilities, entered Australia as a place of refuge, by reason of the occupation, or threatened occupation, of any place by an enemy, andhas not left Australia since he so entered or
who, during the period of hostilities, entered Australia by reason of any other circumstances attributable to the existence of hostilities and has not left Australia since heso entered,
Will the Minister give a plain answer to this question whether there are any white people to whom that clause can apply. If there are, I shall seek to have amendments made in other clauses of the bill to protect such white people.
– The honorable member is dealing with clause 5.
– I understand that.
– I thought that possibly the honorable member had forgotten it as he is dealing with clause 4.
– I am quite capable of following the provisions of the measure without the assistance of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein). Clause 5 contains the key provision on deportation. Clause 4 merely indicates the people to whom the bill shall apply. If the provisions of the bill apply to white people we should not impose upon them the provisions of clause 5 but should provide elsewhere that they are to have the right of a judicial audience before being deported. I am not in favour of any white alien being forced to go from this country on the say-so of the Minister. I refrain from saying anything further at the moment about white aliens because I want the Minister first to assure the committee that the provisions of the bill in its present form will not apply to any white alien. I shall support the amendment foreshadowed by the Leader of the Opposition. If the word “ may “ in sub-clause 2 does not mean what I think it should mean, its meaning will be made clear by the amendment which will be submitted by the Leader of the Opposition.
– It seems to me that the clause under discussion has aroused a lot of rather illtimed suspicion in the minds of honorable members opposite. Clause 4 is the vital part of the measure. The bill is intended to deal with people who came to Australia during the time of hostilities and were not dealt with by the immigration authorities as they would have been in ordinary circumstances. I think that that is clear from the measure itself and from our knowledge of the circumstances associated with its introduction. The honorable member for “Warringah (Mr. Spender) referred to the definitions in clause 3, although he should have done so when that clause was before the committee. He wanted to know whether clause 4 would apply to any white person who was not an alien within the terms of the Immigration Act. Some of the people who were landed in Australia during the war are more undesirable than many of those who are expressly prohibited, because they are Asiatics, from remaining in this country. Because persons are Asiatics their characters are not necessarily objectionable. The reasons for the restriction of Asiatics have been explained, and honorable members opposite know as well as I do that some white people who are not very desirable entered this country during the war years. The clause now before the committee simply confers power on the Minister to deport such people.
I regret very much the interjection made by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell), that all the people who will be affected by this measure will have to go from Australia by August, because I believe that he has no intention of arbitrarily removing all the individuals concerned by that time. I know him well enough to realize that if the summary deportation of any individual would involve hardship or inhumanity, he will not deport that individual peremptorily. I agree with members of the Opposition that in all cases the Minister should exercise discretion. We cannot discuss the amendment foreshadowed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) at the moment because a prior amendment is already before the chair. From the language of the clause it is clear that the Minister enjoys complete discretionary power. If the Minister desired to deport any particular individual, he could quickly satisfy himself before making the order by having only perfunctory inquiries made. However, I believe that the clause is necessary. As honorable members are aware, the real reason for the introduction of the measure was a recent decision of the High Court, and it cannot be doubted that but for the limitations imposed, upon the Minister’s powers by that decision this legislation would not have been introduced. We must realize that the clause we are considering and also the preceding one go together and are necessary to enable the measure to ‘be implemented. If we believe that the Minister should have power to deport persons who entered this country during the war years, but who would not have been entitled to do so in ordinary times, we should not cavil at the inclusion of this provision.
I support the clause because I believe that it is merely intended to confer on the Minister the right to exercise a power which we all formerly believed that he could exercise. Many instances have been quoted by honorable members of that power having been exercised by members of various administrations who have administered the Immigration Act. On occasion, they had, in accordance with their oath of office, to exercise their power of deportation without compunction. I believe that it may also be necessary for the present Minister to do so in certain circumstances. Despite all the criticism launched at the present Minister by members of the Opposition and by the press, the Immigration Act has never been Administered by a more humane individual. All honorable members must agree with me that whenever they have had occasion to approach the Minister with a case of genuine hardship he has always considered their representations most sympathetically. Despite his unfortunate interjection that all aliens will be deported by August, I believe that he will deal with them just as humanely as he has dealt with previous cases.
I remind honorable members that we appear to be pre-occupying ourselves with the fate of approximately 800 persons who are likely to be affected by the passage of this bill to the exclusion of the thousands of war-time refugees who left Australia of their own accord after the war. Many of the latter class would undoubtedly have become most desirable Australian citizens, but they realized that they had been given only temporary sanctuary in a time of distress, and they were prepared to discharge their obligation to leave this country voluntarily when the emergency had expired. However, others have refused to do so, and many of them have had their permits extended from time to time. There seems to be little doubt that many of them intended to remain here permanently by making application for an infinite number of extensions of time. Indeed, had the war not lasted so long as it did those people may not have remained in this country for the statutory period of five years, and there would have been no need for the Parliament to pass the legislation that is now before us. If we believe that the act is right and just, and that the refugees who have already departed from Australia have honoured the undertaking that they gave on their arrival here, it behoves us to say to the remaining refugees, “ If you are not prepared to honour your obligations, we must compel you, by legislative enactment, to do so “.
.- With much figurative wringing of hands and rending of clothes, the honor able member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) has treated the chamber to a sob story, the like of which we have not heard since the Yoizuki incident. The honorable member has told us that the Minister will interpret this provision in a mandatory manner, that he will disregard the claims of sick persons, and women and children who may be entitled to compassionate consideration, and that he will rigidly adhere to a schedule which will ensure that 800 persons, who were given asylum during the war, will be ejected from this country by the end of August. The amendment which has been submitted by the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) would, if adopted, emasculate the purposes of this bill. The Minister has made it plain from the outset that this legislation is complementary to the Immigration Bill, which was agreed to almost unanimously by the House this afternoon. The only dissentient voice was that of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang). The object of this bill is to give to the Government an additional legislative ground for taking action, of which the House has already approved, bv agreeing to the Immigration Bill. The Opposition has deliberately evaded the fact that the application of the War-time Refugees Removal Bill is limited to 800 persons who have refused to honour the obligations which they entered into when they came to this country during the war. The bill is not intended to settle immigration policy, either in respect of temporary or permanent admissions to the Commonwealth. It has a limited- purpose, and that is to remove tho.=e persons who have declined to fulfil obligations which they are bound to discharge. It is of no use for the honorable ‘member for Warringah or any other honorable member of the Opposition to say that the Minister should exercise further discretion, or that the clause under consideration gives room for the exercise of further discretion. The Minister has chosen to treat this provision as mandatory, and. therefore, he intends to implement it by removing the 800 persons concerned.
– Does the honorable, member consider that the clause is mandatory!
– No, I do not believe that it is; but, at the same time, the amendment that has been foreshadowed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) will not, in my belief, assist the Government to do more than the clause now provides. If the Minister considers that there are certain circumstances, such as those to which the honorable member for Warringah has alluded’, to warrant his exercising a further discretion, he will doubtless exercise that discretion. In my opinion, that further discretion has been exercised over and over again in the vast majority of the cases to which I have referred, until it has been absolutely strained to finality. When discretion is not exercised in favour of the view of the honorable member for Warringah, he chooses to say that the Minister has excluded from his mind the poss bility of exercising discretion. However, it is plain that discretion has been exercised in favour of those persons who have had the benefit of asylum in Australia. It is of no use for the Opposition to cavil at this particular provision. The purposes of the bill are clear, and it is also abundantly plain that the Government intends to implement this legislation at an early date.
– The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) has treated the committee to some police court histrionics and cheap legal melodrama. He has asked, in effect, “ Will you attempt to deport a sick person? Are you going into the bedroom to grab the unfortunate individual and put him on board a boat? If the clause under consideration contains that power, I shall oppose it. Indeed, I shall certainly do so because the Minister said earlier that the whole lot of them would be out of the country before the end of August “. I did say that the whole lot of them would be out of the country before the end of August; but obviously, if a person is very sick or happens to be an inmate of a mental institution or some other institution, he would not be regarded in the general category of persons to bc removed. What I meant, and what every body would interpret my words to mean, was that every healthy person who was deliberately attempting to frustrate the operation of the law would be required to leave. The honorable member for Warringah has spoken of my so-called blundering administration. It is honest and frank administration, and is in complete accord with precedent. The honorable member and certain of his friends, backed by the press, have used the words “ blundering “ and “ crass stupidity “ as a part of their smear campaign. Outside the Parliament, they make all sorts of violent speeches-
– The Minister is a fine one to talk about a smear campaign. He is the greatest smear expert that I have ever met.
– I am only a tyro compared with the honorable member for Warringah.
– The Minister said a contemptible thing before the dinner adjournment.
– The honorable member is one of those who ascribe to other people sins of which they themselves are guilty.
– The Minister is a pathological case.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN’. - Order 1 There are too many interjections.
– The honorable member for Warringah and the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) are the two people who have gone on record aa saying that they would break down this policy by admitting spouses whether they were black, brown or brindle.
– That is false.
– However, those two honorable members say that other people are not in favour of maintaining the White Australia policy. They are only humbugs and hypocrites, and they stand exposed as such. They were not prepared to speak in the second-reading debate on this bill. The honorable member for Warringah comes here in his unctuous Uriah Heep style, once a week at the outside, and talks of my blundering administration. I have much more justification for talking about his craven attitude on this matter. Let him divide the committee on this issue if he will. I doubt even now whether he can muster sufficient courage to do so. But outside the Parliament he will continue his smear campaign. Even in the courts, he will smear, and be paid for it. The description of a “ larrikin lawyer “ is not confined to one person.
I have said that the war-time refugees generally will be required to go. They have got to go. If there are any sick persons among them, humanity will be shown to them, as it always has been shown. I have got into trouble over these people because I have shown them humanity for four years. If I had administered the law vigorously and pushed those persons off on all sorts of cattle boats or under all sorts of troopship conditions at the end of the war, there would not have been any trouble at all. There would not have been a word of criticism had this matter not been played up by the press and by the honorable member for Warringah, who always plays to the gallery. He posed to-night as a paragon of all the political virtues and as a defender of liberty.
– To which clause is the Minister referring?
– Clause 5. I realize that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) is trying to protect his brood like an old hen which fears that one of her chicks may fall into the water and be drowned. He does not want any more discussion on this clause. The speech by the honorable member for Warringah tonight was as intellectually stimulating and just about as convincing as was his explanation for retaining his membership of the Advisory War Council some years ago. He is following his own line as he always does. If he wants a division on this clause let him call for it. If he does not let him keep quiet.
.- The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) has, at times, rendered great service to Australia in his administration of the Department of Immigration, but he is in grave danger of cancelling out at least portion of the credit that is due to him for that service by harsh, and and apparently inhumane action in one or two individual cases. He has said that this bill, and therefore this clause, would not have been necessary had it not been for the judgment of the High Court of Australia in the O’Keefe case. That is quite true. I take no exception to the clause as it stands, or to the granting of power to a Commonwealth Minister to deport certain persons ; but I do say, and I believe that here the majority of the people of Australia, keen as they are on the maintenance of the White Australia policy, will agree, that justice should be tempered with charity. This bill is aimed substantially at Mrs. O’Keefe and one or two others; it is in respect of these individuals that the Minister’s power will be exercised. Mrs. O’Keefe went to the High Court and won her right to remain in Australia. That should have been sufficient for the Minister, but apparently he is determined to show the High Court and every one else who has opposed him on this issue, particularly the newspapers, that he is the Minister for Immigration and that he intends to carry out his original intentions. The law is being amended to vindicate the Minister’s point of view. I am reminded of what happened in Great Britain when Gerhardt Eisler, a communist leader, arrived there as a fugitive from the United States of America. The United States of America obtained an extradition order against him but he appealed to a Bow-street magistrate, who held that, as Eisler had not committed any offence against the laws of Great Britain, he could remain free in spite of the fact that he was wanted by the authorities in a country which was most friendly to the United Kingdom. Subsequently Eisler escaped to the Continent. Although the decision had been given by only a magistrate, it was upheld. No special session of the British Parliament was summoned to pass overnight a law to permit the arrest of Eisler. The British Parliament stood by the existing law, and permitted Eisler to take advantage of it. The Australian Government should stand by the decision of the High Court in the Q’Keefe case. The Minister, however, has decided that he will administer the law rigidly and without the exercise of discretion. He believes that it is mandatory upon him to deport every one of the individuals concerned. But do the Minister and his colleagues administer other laws in the same way? If they did, many people would be found guilty of offences against our arbitration laws and even the Crimes Act. We all recognize that our laws are not made to be administered in a cast-iron fashion as the Minister proposes to administer the Immigration Act. He has said that within two months of the passage of this measure by the Parliament, every one of the individuals concerned will be outside Australia. By that declaration he has disclosed his hand. He has done more damage to the White Australia policy by this pretence of upholding it than he could ever have done had he been an opponent of that policy. The White Australia policy cannot be maintained by 7,000,000 people alone. It must have the backing of some world opinion, and particularly the opinion of white races. During World War II., the then Australian Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, appealed for American assistance to i his country. He appealed not to the President or to the American Congress, but to the American people, and amongst the troops who came from the United States of America to defend White Australia were several negro divisions. It is to America that we should have to turn again if we were assailed in the future. The population of the United States of America is not entirely white. There are people of many colours, including a large number of negroes. I am not suggesting for a moment that the power sought under this clause is not necessary. The clause reads-
The Minister may make an order for the deportation of a person to whom this Act applies and that person shall be deported in accordance with the Act.
Honorable members will observe that the word “may” is used. It is not mandatory for the Minister to make such an order. The White Australia policy and the Immigration Act have been administered by Ministers of all political parties, all of whom have had to face problems, if not parallel to this, at least of a similar humanitarian character. I recall placing before one Minister for Immigration - I think that he was a Minister of the Liberal party - the case of a missionary and his wife who had gone to Fiji and there had adopted a Fijian baby. Eventually they brought the child back to Australia and she was allowed to remain in this country under permit. She went to an Australian school and was brought up as a member of the missionary’s family. However, the immigration authorities finally rooted the case out, and said that the girl, then seventeen or eighteen years of age, would have to be returned to the islands because she was a Polynesian. But the Minister did not send her away in spite of the advice of his departmental officers. He allowed the child to remain in this country. I have no doubt that the present Minister for Immigration himself has exercised his discretion at times in a similar way. I hope that when this measure has been passed - it will be passed because the Government has a majority in both Houses of the Parliament - the Minister will not be harsh and unreasoning, particularly to the O’Keefe family. I do not know any of them, nor do I know anything about them except what I have read in the newspapers, but I know that they had the: courage to take their case to the highest tribunal in the land, and were upheld by it. This measure seems to be an attempt by the Government to assert its authority over a decision of the High Court. I hope that these people will not be made victims of this clause. I am of the opinion that if the O’Keefes, and a handful of people like them, who .were the friends of the Dutch, are sent back to Indonesia after seven years to what will be a completely foreign environment, their lives might be forfeited within a short time of their arrival there.
– What would be wrong with the Dutch taking them back to Holland?
– What would be wrong with allowing them to remain in Australia? I am not going to join issue with the Minister over the question whether a vote against this clause would be a vote against the White Australia policy. No one on this side of the committee advocates any alteration of that policy, and during the last fifteen year9 there has certainly been very little evidence that it is being broken down. In 1933, there were 22,000 Asiatics in Australia, and in 1947 there were only 21,000, including the 800 refugees now under, consideration. The White Australia policy is not being endangered by the presence of such a small number of Asiatics. I trust that the Minister will exercise with mercy and discretion the power with which this measure will invest him.
.- I must detain the committee again because I have not yet received a reply from the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) to the question I asked. In the course of his attack upon me, he overlooked the fact that the committee is discussing a bill. I asked him in plain enough terms whether the bill would apply to any white persons, but he did not reply. It is about time we had a reply to that question. I should think there are white people in Australia to whom it might apply, and I mention Dutch people, in particular, who came down here from Batavia. There may be others. I recollect that many British children were brought to Australia early in the war. The Minister should be able to say unequivocally whether there are or are not in Australia white people to whom the bill applies. If there are, I for one am not prepared to give this power to the Minister.
I also draw attention to the way in which the Minister, in order to serve his own political purposes, has twisted what was said by members of the Opposition. He said that I had agreed with the statement of another honorable member that Australians were entitled to marry persons whether they weve black, white or brindle, and to bring them into Australia. Of course, I did nothing of the kind, as de records will show, and as the Minister himself knows perfectly well.
– The honorable member agreed with the statement.
– I shall repeat what I said, because I expect that the Minister will deliberately repeat his misconstruction of it on many future occasions. I said, when asked by the Minister, whether I agreed with the statement that an Australian was entitled to marry any person, black, white or brindle, that I did agree. 1 suppose the Minister wants power to tell us whom we may marry.
– He will give preference to unionists.
– No doubt. I assert the right of an Australian overseas or at home to marry any one he likes whatever that person’s colour, but my agreement with such a statement has nothing to do with the breaking down of the White Au» tralia policy. However, the Minister deliberately twisted my agreement with the statement in order to serve his own ends. He said that I had used the word “ blundering “ in referring to hi3 administration. I did use that word, and I used it advisedly. Indeed, I thought I was being kind to the Minister. I could haw said that he was despotic. I could have said that he had a pathological desire for publicity and power, and that he had frequently exercised his power without clemency. All those statements would have been true. The Minister has exercised despotic power against individuals. I can imagine nothing more pitiable than for a Minister, invested with all the powers of State, to use them against some poor individual whose case merits mercy. One hears strange statements about the philosophy of the Labour party. For instance, we heard the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) say that communism had its foundation in the teachings of Christ. I have heard of the brotherhood of man, but I have seen the Minister for Immigration exercise all the great powers of the Commonwealth against individuals. If he is given further power under this clause, I cannot imagine that he will not use it against an individual, whether he be rich or poor and whether his case deserves special consideration or not.
There is one further case to which 1 wish to draw attention. Some alien refugees in Australia married Australians while here, and children, now of tender years, were born to them. The Minister knows of many such cases. What does he propose to do about them? Apparently, he proposes to bundle all of them out of the country. He says that when they reach the age of 21 years, they may return to Australia from the Celebes or from Sumatra, or from wherever they were sent, and claim their rights as Australians. Indeed, they are Australians now, and their right to citizenship could be established by any one who made the claim on their behalf. However, the Minister will have the fathers removed, and the mothers will go with them, taking the children who were born in Australia. That is the way a Labour government proposes to exercise power, and it is well to understand that once power is put in the hands of the Minister for Immigration, it will, on his own showing, be exercised ruthlessly and without mercy.
Mr. CALWELL (Melbourne - Minister for Information and Minister for Immigration) 9.S]. - The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) is trying, with a great deal of bluster, to cover up his attempt to break down the White Australia policy.
– He is against it.
– Of course he is against it, but he has not the courage to vote against it. This bill was deliberately drafted to cover Europeans and nonEuropeans, and it was drafted in that way so as not to give offence on racial grounds. There may be Europeans in Australia who will be affected by the bill, and there may not. I do not know. The honorable member wants me to say that 1 know, for certain, that there are no such Europeans in Australia. Then he will say that the bill was conceived in racial prejudice and born of a hatred of Asiatics, and that we propose to put it into effect because we despise Asiatics. I am not going to give him the opportunity to say any such malicious tiling. This bill has been designed to get rid of people who came here as war-time refugees. There may be no Europeans left. I do not think that there are. Any Dutch people who have come here since the war ended have entered’ the country on landing permits. Such permits are issued to Europeans but not to Asiatics. They are not issued to Asiatics even if they are British subjects, such as Chinese or halfcaste Chinese born in Hong Kong, Indians, Chinese or Malays born in Malaya, or Indians, Chinese or Fijians horn in Fiji. That has always been the law. The fact of being a British subject confers no right upon any person to enter this country. The only person who has such a right is a person who is Australian-born or who, by domicile, has become an Australian. That dictum has been upheld by the High Court of Australia. A celebrated case waa that of Mrs. Freer. The honorable member for Warringah will remember that case.
– I remember it very well.
– Mrs. Freer was told that she could not land in Australia, and many people, including a number of members of the Labour party, attacked the government of the day for what it did. Had 1 been a member of this Parliament at the time, I should have supported the Minister for the Interior for keeping Mrs. Freer out of Australia. I consider that it was scandalous that the Minister of the day was abandoned ultimately and that Mrs. Freer was allowed to enter Australia after she had been admitted to New Zealand and had then returned here. Her exclusion in the first place was a proper exercise of authority by the then. Minister for the Interior, who was the representative at the time of the electorate of Gippsland.
– It was scandalous.
– The honorable member for Warringah, of course, plays up to the sensational press by declaring that it was a scandalous decision. There waa nothing scandalous about it at all. It waa a proper decision. I am afraid that scant justice has been done to the predecessor of the honorable member for Gippsland for taking his courage in hia hands and doing the right thing on that occasion.
– It was a departmental decision.
– It was a decision of the Minister.
– We are not dealing with that now.
– No, but it is a case in point to which I can refer in order to confound the honorable member for Warringah.
– The honorable gentleman does not need to say “confound” him. He has said much worse things than that.
– I am returning good for -evil. I have been subjected to a lot of violently abusive criticism by the honorable member for Warringah tonight. He wants me to say that there are no Europeans in Australia who may be deported. There may not be; I do not know yet. We shall wait and see whether there are. Any person who is required to leave will be required to do so because he has outstayed his permissible period of residence here. No exceptions may be made. If I were to do as the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) suggests and let the O’Keefe family stay, and as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) suggests, and let twenty other families stay, I should have to let back into Australia all the Malays and Indonesians who married here and were sent out of Australia. How could I refuse to do otherwise? Their wives and children are still here in many instances. How could I then refuse to re-admit the people who did not marry and who left voluntarily but who liked this country and would be happy to return? One cannot discriminate against groups of cases. If we are going to operate the whole policy equitably, we must do what is proposed in the bill or let all those people come back. The alternative would involve the re-admittance of 6,000 people. There has been a lot of sob-stuff talked about this matter. As the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) has said, it has been made a minor Yoizuki case. The newspapers made Yoizuki steam into synthetic cyclones, hoping that somebody would be drowned so that they could attack the Government for having sent women and children back to Formosa. It was regrettable that those people had to go, but that was the law. They cried because this country was thebest country that they had ever known or ever will know, and because they had to return to bad conditions of living. But the law that forced them to go must be maintained1 if the homogeneity of the nation is to be upheld.
– I have been listening to this discussion, as I suppose some other people have been listening too, with a great deal of amazement. Ancient history and more or less modern history have been both dragged into service. The longer the discussion proceeds, the more clear it becomes that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell), having brought in a bill which will give him a power to deport, is insisting that it imposes upon him a duty to deport. The Minister has a genius of a somewhat curious kind. I describe it, with great respect, as a genius for distortion. He has made up his mind, for example, that I have said on behalf of the Opposition that there are twenty families who must be allowed to remain in Australia. The simple truth, of course, is that I said on behalf of my colleagues of the Opposition that there might be twenty people who had come here as aliens during the war and had married or acquired family obligations here, and that, in respect of those people, the Minister ought to exercise a discretion according to the circumstances of each case. The honorable member foi Warringah (Mr. Spender) asked the Minister whether any European persons were involved in that category. The Minister first of all said “ No “. Now he thinks that there may be, though he cannot say so positively.
– I was never positive.
– I can understand that he cannot he certain about that matter. I do not quarrel with him about that; However, I point out once more that the bill, in its terms, does not cover aliens only. It covers any person who came to Australia as a place of refuge during the war, or who, during the period of hostilities, entered the country by reason of any other circumstances attributable to the existence of hostilities. For example, the bill would cover the case of an Englishman who came to Australia during the war from Hong Kong, Shanghai or Singapore. The bill in its terms covers an unknown number of ordinary British citizens who are Englishmen, or, much better than that, Scotsmen. Any such persons who came here during the war and are still here come within its scope. I cannot believe for one moment that the Minister considers that, under clause 5, he is under a duty to bundle
John Jones, Donald Mcintosh or James 0’Regan, a British subject, out of Australia because he came . here during the war from Shanghai or Hong Kong. If my confidence is justified in that respect, the Minister must recognize that he is not under an obligation to exercise the power to deport but that he must exercise it according to the facts of each case.
Should there be a real exercise of a real discretion? That is the whole point. Time after time the Minster has been given an opportunity to say “ Yes, I realize that there is a discretion and I am prepared to exercise it and time after time he has said, “‘So, I am not going to exercise a discretion. If I exercised a discretion in favour of one person, I would create a precedent and break down the whole national policy.” I venture to describe that as utter nonsense. In order that we may determine whether those honorable gentlemen who sit behind the Minister really believe that the power contained in the bill is not a discretionary power and that the Minister will be under an obligation, as he has said, to “pitch em out “, and that such up-and-coming members as the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) will have a chance to disclose themselves on this matter, J shall move an amendment. I therefore move -
That, after the word “Minister”, the following words he inserted: - “after consideration of the facts of the particular case “.
All members of the committee who believe that the Minister should consider the facts of the particular case before he gives his decision will vote for the amendment.
– Does not the clause mean that now?
– I thought so, but the Minister denied it. My amendment will do no harm. It will make assurance doubly sure. After all, Government members will lose nothing by voting for the amendment, which merely provides that the Minister is to consider the facts of the case before he gives his decision. That will not impose great hardship on him. I cannot imagine that the Minister would want to decide a case without first considering the facts. That is the purpose of my amendment. What is the Government going to do about it?
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has accused me of being a past-master in the art of distortion.
– Not a past-master, but a genius.
– I reciprocate the accusation. When I have a lot more to learn about distortion, I shall go to the feet of the right honorable gentleman, who is a past-master in the art of distorting my statements and of distorting the intention of this legislation. There would not be one honorable member sitting opposite in this Parliament if it were not for the propaganda resulting from the distortions practised by honorable members opposite. Who would support capitalism if the truth were told and there were no distortions of fact? The Leader of the Opposition has deliberately distorted the wording of the clause and mixed it with the intention of the Minister. The clause was drafted to read as follows: -
The Minister may make an order for the deportation of a person to whom this act applies . . .
If I had wanted to make the deportation of such a person mandatory I should have used the word “ shall “.
– The draftsman would have done so.
– He would have done so only under my instructions. The Parliamentary Draftsman does not run this Government. We chose the word “ may “ deliberately. If we had used the word “ shall “ Ave would have been forced to throw out of Australia every person to whom this legislation applies. We used the word “ may “ because it involves the use of a discretionary power. I do not propose to allow any of these refugees, who have been given every opportunity to leave Australia, to remain here any longer than is necessary for us to find vessels to take them away unless, of course, they are incapable of being sent away.
– In other words the Minister does not trust himself to exercise the discretionary power which he seeks.
– As Minister for Immigration, I propose to administer the law in accordance with the intentions of a Cabinet direction. The Cabinet says what shall be done. We on this side have a unanimous Cabinet and we know where we stand. That is why we have remained in office for so long and why we will continue to remain in office for another twenty years. The Leader of the Opposition has said that the Minister takes power to deport British citizens who sought refuge in Australia during the war which might include an Englishman or a Scotsman who came from Shanghai or Hong Kong. This bill has been drafted to cover all classes of people, orientals and occidentals alike, in exactly the same way as was the parent legislation. Under the. parent legislation, an Englishman could be deported or refused admission to this country.
– I agree.
– The Leader of the Opposition has not made a point at all. He is guilty of the very nonsense of which he has accused me.
– On the contrary, I said that the bill provides for that. I did not say that the Minister wanted to deport any of these people, and therefore, it appears to be a discretionary power. The Minister begins now to understand, my argument.
– I cannot understand the right honorable gentleman’s argument and neither can the Australia people. It is because his arguments cannot be understood that he is where he is. This legislation cannot be faulted because it follows the pattern of all previous legislation. We have had to include Europeans or we would have been accused of racialism. The original act was framed to give the government of the day the right to apply the dictation test and not to discriminate against Asiatics as such. This legislation has been drafted to give the Minister discretionary power and it applies to all classes of people. What the Leader of the Opposition proposes does not add anything to the Minister’s discretionary power nor does it make that power any clearer. The right honorable gentleman’s amendment simply provides that the Minister shall examine the facts of each particular case. The Minister is already doing that and he has been doing that for some time past. Those refugees who remain in Australia are people who are determined that they will not leave in any circumstances. They are not being offended against. On the contrary they are offending against us by remaining here longer than they should. I return the compliment of the Leader of the Opposition, and say that his amendment is utter nonsense.
.- It is a pity that the enslavement of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) to the use of words has prompted him to propose what is clearly a completely tautological amendment. The right honorable gentleman has said that this legislation may apply to some Englishman, Scotsman or Irishman, or other white person, who is caught up in the categories defined in clause 4. That argument is especially interesting because when clause 4 was before the committee, not one Opposition voice was raised to challenge the categories of persons who were to be included in the provisions of this legislation. That clause was passed by the committee without debate and we proceeded at once to the consideration of clause 5, which was the subject of the first amendment; it was moved by the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn). That fact in itself is significant. It indicates to the committee that the argument upon which the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition is shallow and unconvincing. Indeed, it is so unreal as to give rise to the belief that after all what the Opposition is endeavouring to do is to probe every possible angle in the hope that in some way or another it may discover a weakness in the legislation which, so far, it has not been able to find. In the light of the explanation which attended its submission this amendment is so unnecessary that it could be described as frivolous.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Mr.
Menzies’s amendment) be so inserted.
The committee divided. (Tub Temporary Chairman - Mr. T. N. Sheehy.)
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That, after the word “ may “, the following words be inserted: - “at any time within twelve months after the commencement of this Act,”.
As the object of the bill is to give the Government power to enforce the departure from the Commonwealth of a limited class of persons who came here during the war it has been decided, after further consideration, that it will be sufficient for that purpose if the power to issue a deportation order is limited to a period of twelve months after the bill comes into force. The amendment, which provides for this limitation, further emphasizes the limited scope of the bill and makes it clear that it is not intended to be of general application, as has been alleged in certain quarters limited application against Asiatics who come here, under the normal operation of the Immigration Act. The amendment does not necessarily mean that action for deportation shall have been completed in every case within twelve months from the date of commencement of the act. So long as an order has been issued within the twelve months it can be given effect to after the expiration of that period.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Arrest of deportees).
.- Again I protest. The clause is an abomination and wholly unjust. Who could tolerate the arrest without warrant of a person reasonably supposed to be a deportee? What does this mean? Who is to decide? The clause reads -
An officer may, without warrant, arrest a person reasonably supposed to be a deportee and a person shall not resist or prevent any such arrest.
Penalty: One hundred pounds or imprisonment for six months.
This is what Hitler did in connexion with the Jews.
.- I support the remarks of the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) because I have had some experience of this type of clause. I have no objection to a clause which provides that an officer may, having obtained a warrant, arrest a person reasonably supposed to be a deportee. Having had some experience of these matters in the courts, I realize that it is not always possible for the officer to be certain, in cases where a person is seeking to avoid deportation, that the person he is arresting is the deportee. There should be a safeguard inserted in the clause that the officer shall obtain a warrant. If that were done an officer would have to appear before a justice and swear an information. Based upon that information the justice of the peace or other officer would issue a warrant. The officer would not have togo before the court in the ordinary way, but only before somebody charged under the particular State law with the power of prima facie inquiry as to whether the circumstances justify the issue of a warrant. That is normal police court procedure. Some safeguard, although not a complete one, would be provided by requiring an officer to obtain a warrant. As the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has pointed out, under the clause in its present form an officer may, without any preliminary inquiry and without going through any kind of judicial process, grab hold of any person who he thinks is a deportee. Some brake should be put upon that power. We are familiar with the growth of official and what we loosely call bureaucratic power. Honorable members on both sides of the chamber must be becoming very uneasy at the degree to which officials are being authorized to do almost anything at all with respect to the citizen. Step by step we are getting closer to the police state.
Let us see what may follow from the clause in this form. An officer - presumably that means an officer of the Department of Immigration - may, without having first obtained a warrant, as police officers, who, although highly experienced men, are required to do, arrest a person whom he supposes to be a deportee. That means any person, including you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, me, or anybody else. There is no appeal against that decision. It is entirely for the officer to say whether he thinks that the person he is arresting is a deportee. Under the clause, the person who is being arrested must not resist or prevent the arrest. It will be a pretty poor state of affairs in this country if somebody can come up to me, without a warrant or any authority of that kind1, and say, “ I think you are a deportee, and I propose to haul you off to a police station or a lock-up “, and if I am not entitled to say, “ I am an ordinary citizen. You have no power over me. If you seek to take me by force, I shall punch you on the nose “. The healthy reaction of the average citizen is to demand to know from where an official derives his authority to do a certain act, but, under this clause an official can say, “ I do not care who you say you are. I think you are a deportee. I am going to lock you up. Come along with me.” I agree entirely that some brake should be applied to that power. I have already pointed out that it is provided that a person shall not resist or prevent his arrest under such circumstances, as any red-blooded Australian would wish to do if he were an innocent person. If he does resist, he is liable to a fine of £100 or imprisonment for six months. That is going too far. I do not believe that any official should be clothed with authority of that kind.
– The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) has discovered one of his famous mare’s nests. There is nothing new in this provision.
– I did not say that there was anything new in it.
– The honorable gentleman has talked of the steps that have been taken towards a bureaucracy, of the way in which the liberty of the subject is being imperilled in these days, and all the rest of it. There has been a provision of this kind in the Immigration Act since 1905, or for 44 years. The honorable gentleman is 44 years out of date. The honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) has said that Hitler did this to the Jews. The Liberal party did it in 1905, long before Hitler was thought of. There was nothing wrong with it then. The analogy of the honorable member for Parramatta is neither complete nor fair. The Immigration Act is not the only other legislation containing a clause of this kind. The Aliens Deportation Act of 1948 contains a similar provision, but no member of the Parliament in 1948 or of the committee that considered that measure raised any objection or made a wild and ferocious attack regarding denial of the liberty of the ordinary citizen.
If the honorable member for Parramatta will look at the interpretation clause, he will find that “ officer “ is defined as an officer of the Department of Immigration and includes an officer of the Commonwealth or an officer of the police force of a State who is authorized in writing by the Minister for Immigration to exercise certain powers. The
Minister does not ordinarily delegate bis authority in writing to a lot of people. He delegates it to a special few people whom he can trust to exercise that authority with discretion and without doing injustice to the people. It has been found desirable in the Immigration Act and the Aliens Deportation Act to give officers power to arrest persons. If officers are put to the necessity of swearing information before justices of the peace or other judicial officers before they can arrest persons who are evading them - not citizens normally resident in this country but fugitives who have been declared to be persons having no right to remain here - they will be hamstrung. As the honorable member for Parramatta has admitted, the necessity to obtain a warrant would afford only a partial safeguard to the individual. The interests of the State as well as the interests of. the individual must be considered. Progressive and radical as I am in many respects, I am conservative enough to believe that what has been good enough for 44 years in this respect is good enough now.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - -by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 28th June (vide page 1579), on motion by Mr. Dedman -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The long title to this measure states that it is a bill for an act to provide for the prevention or settlement by conciliation and arbitration of industrial disputes, extending beyond the limits of any one State, in connexion with stevedoring operations; to regulate industrial matters in connexion with the performance of stevedoring operations in the course of trade and commerce with other countries or among the States; and for other purposes. I have referred to the long title because I am certain that to many honorable members it has a familiar ring. It has a familiar ring because a bill with precisely the same objects was presented to the Parliament by this Government in 1947, two years ago. Therefore, this measure, on the face of it, bears the stamp of failure. In his second-reading speech on this bill the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) described the Stevedoring Act 1947 as a bold legislative experiment. I remind the House that what was done then was to remove the stevedoring industry from the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration and to establish, by legislative action, a body to deal with certain matters in connexion with the waterfront. That legislation was based upon certain war-time experience, but, so far as legislation in this Parliament was concerned, it was an experiment. As honorable members know, the experiment of removing an industry from the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court and placing it under the jurisdiction of a specially appointed tribunal has not been confined to the stevedoring industry. Far from being a bold legislative experiment, as the Minister claimed, that was a cowardly legislative experiment. Instead of revealing courage on the part of the Government in venturing into a new field it represented on the part of the Government a surrender in three important industries which are vital to the economy of the Commonwealth and the successful conduct of our trade and commercial affairs. It was a surrender by the Commonwealth to Communist pressure. These special tribunals were created as the result of the direct pressure of Communist leadership upon the Government to take away from the authority of the Arbitration Court matters which for many years had been dealt with by the court. That .pressure was exerted not because those Communist leaders who put their thumb upon the Government believed that in that way they would get more effective arbitration upon the- problems arising in these industries, but because they were determined to smash the arbitration system of this country, and because they believed that by a policy of dividing they would be able to conquer and implement their policy of industrial? anarchy.
– As has been done in the coal industry.
– Any one who ha9 followed the events of the last two years since the Parliament passed that legislation will realize just how successful that Communist policy has been. The three particular industries in which this experiment was applied were: First, the stevedoring industry, which we will examine in some detail in the course of our consideration of this legislation; secondly, the other maritime industry, the seamen’s industry, for which a special tribunal was created; and, thirdly, the coal industry, for which also a special tribunal was created. Those industries were taken outside the scope of the Arbitration Court. To-day, the people of Australia are experiencing something of the consequences of this bold legislative experiment insofar as it was applied to the coal industry. In passing, it is interesting to note that the central leadership in each of those industries was under Communist domination, and that that leadership remains under Communist domination. The coal industry is under the leadership of Idris “Williams, who is a selfconfessed Communist; the Waterside Workers Federation is under the leadership of Jim Healy, another confessed Communist, whilst the Seamen’s Union is under the leadership of Mr. Eliot Valens Elliot, another Communist. Those men are not merely members of the Communist party; each of them exercises leadership in the central organization of the Communist party in Australia. It may be a bitter reflection for hundreds of thousands of Australian trade unionists who are out of work at present as the direct result of the policy which this Communist leadership has pursued, thanks to the weak-kneed submission of this Government to the pressure that they put on it in the course of the last few years, to realize that each of these men is not a native of Australia. He is not a man native to this country who knows its problems and wants to see it advance and progress as the result of help that he personally can bring to it. Those men have come to this coun try, and Australia has been kind to them. It has placed them in positions of authority in the industries which they have been elected to control by methods for which they themselves will have to answer at the proper time. We may well pause in our consideration of th* special problems of these industries to realize that these three vital elements in our economy, the operations on the waterfront^ on the sea and in the coal mines, are all under Communist leadership and under the leadership of men who have come as migrants to this country and to whom this country has proved a generous motherland. So far as the stevedoring industry is concerned, the Minister told us that this legislation was to follow that already on the statute-book. He said that the Government is making an earnest endeavour to retain for this industry and the community the benefits that were obtained by its former legislation and to provide for further progress, greater efficiency and more harmony in the industry. I emphasize the Minister’s reference to the benefits that were obtained by its former legislation for the industry and for the community because, whilst we shall not have an opportunity in this debate to examine what has happened with regard to the seamen and on the coalfields, we can have a close look at what has happened in respect of operations on the waterfront. The legislation certainly provided benefits for some of those who came within its scope. It had a very direct benefit, for example, for “ Comrade “ Healy, because during the short period for which the legislation has been in force and prior -to his summary dismissal from the Stevedoring Industry Commission because of his repeated defiance of the orders of that body, he hag collected in fees from the Government an amount exceeding £1,100.
– The bill does not retain that.
– I am glad to have that interjection from the Minister; but at least that legislation conferred that benefit on “ Comrade “ Healy.
– And that was in a period of about two years.
– The period was less than that. We feel a little cynical at the benefit conferred upon these men, who claim to be spokesmen for the underdog and for the proletariat masses in this country, that in addition to the substantial salaries they receive as heads of their own unions they are able from time to time to acquire these rewards for their participation in activities conducted by the Government. So far as “ Comrade “ Healy is concerned, that benefit is to be cut down by the passage of th s legislation, but the workers in the stevedoring industry may fairly feel that since the commission began its operations they, too, have received some very substantial benefits. So, when the Minister says that he is proposing to continue the benefits already obtained, we should refer to what has been received by those workers because, as has also been the case in the coal industry, the existence of the special tribunal set up in this industry has conferred great benefits upon them. Despite the fact that it is a casual industry and its wage level was computed by judges of the Arbitration Court on the assumption that those employed in it would work on the average only thirty hours a week, the commission during the brief period that it has been in operation has found it practicable to prescribe annual leave with pay. Despite the fact that wage rates in the industry were computed on the basis that this work would be casual and intermittent, it has been found practicable to pay attendance money to members of the Waterside Workers Federation who may not receive a call on any day they attend for work or, indeed, on any day they receive notice that they will not be required to work. When we examine the figures in relation to those employed in the industry, we find that since the commission was set up they have earned what may be regarded as a high average rate of wages for a comparatively short working week. For the information of the House I shall give figures showing the average earnings during that period, and the average hours worked for those earnings, for the main ports of the Commonwealth, which I shall give in their alphabetical order. The figures relating to hours worked are approximate, as I do not wish to weary the House with decimal fractions. In Adelaide from July to December, 1948 - which is the last period for which I have been able to obtain figures - the average weekly earnings of waterside workers were £11 4s. 3d. for a 38-hour week; Brisbane, £10 3s. 2d. for a 32- hour week; Fremantle, £11 16s. Id. for a 37-hour week ; Hobart, £10 0s. 3d. for a 34-hour week; and Melbourne, £12 ls. 9d. for 41 hours. I pause here to mention that Melbourne is the only port in which the hours worked have on the average been more than the regulation 40-hour week. The Sydney figure was £9 12s. Id. for 34 hours. The average for the whole of the Commonwealth, taking all the ports into consideration, was £10 9s. 8d. for 35 hours worked. The Minister has interjected to say that some night work would be included. That may be so, but, on the other hand, there would have been periods when, as the Minister will acknowledge, no day work was required. I have gone into some detail regarding that matter because I am certain there ar« many members of trade unions throughout Australia, particularly of those unions that cover tradesmen who have gone through their regular apprenticeship, perhaps for six years, who will hear with some envy of the rates of pay now received by waterside workers for the hours of work that I have mentioned. But, in addition to those facts, there was one other important fact to which I shall refer in a moment in more detail. That is, that by a process that I regard as unprecedented in this country - and I should be interested to learn whether the Minister could find any other illustration of it - a particular union, the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, has had conferred upon it by legislation a monopoly of the provision of waterfront labour. Under this measure it is impossible to become a waterside worker without being a member of the federation. By a process that I shall explain in more detail later, it was the case that unless the federation nominated a particular person to become a waterside worker, that person was not appointed even if the Stevedoring Industry Commission as it was formerly constituted required the appointment of additional watersiders.
Employees engaged on the waterfront may well accept the Minister’s statement that substantial benefits have been conferred upon them since the Stevedoring Industry Act 1947 came into force. But what about the community? The Minister made some reference to the fact that the community also had benefited. I do not know what tests could be applied to this claim that the community has benefited. Has the community benefited from the fact that there has been more efficient labour on the waterfront in return for those high wages that I have mentioned? Is it claimed that there has been a speedier turn-round of shipping? Is it claimed that freight rates, because of greater efficiency brought about by the act, have been substantially reduced? Of course not, because on all of those counts the results have gone against the interests of the community. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McBride), in a very telling speech that he made some time ago in this chamber, provided some details that I shall mention now, without attempting to quote them fully, so that we may have a balanced view of the Minister’s claim. He pointed out that at the present time there is a little more than 40 per cent tonnage in excess of that available for coastal shipping in the pre-war period. He also pointed out that despite the fact that we have this 40 per cent, increase of tonnage available the actual cargo carried last year was 1 per cent, less than that carried in the year before the war started. What is true in that illustration we find exemplified for us in another direction. In Victoria recently, the Chamber of Commerce issued a report showing that compared with the cargo handled in that State in 1939, there was a falling off by more than 500,000 tons in 1948. So here we have the situation - additional available ships, less cargo handled. If we examine the discharging and loading rates, for which I shall again quote the figures given by the honorable member for Wakefield, we find that the discharging rate during the three-year period 1937 to 1939 was 804 tons a day but in the three-year period 1945 to 1947, which were the last figures that he quoted, the average rate had dropped to 355 tons a day, or a fall of more than 50 per cent. We do not get a very much better picture regarding the loading rate. The average loading rate before the war was 434 tons a day. In the three-year period 1945 to 1947, it had dropped to 321 tons a day. So there we have another illustration of how the conduct of this industry has failed to secure the efficiency of operation that was hoped when the Stevedoring Industry Bill was submitted to us in 1947. When we examine the impact of these factors on freight costs we find that the freight rate for general cargo between the port of Sydney and the port of Melbourne has increased from 27s. a ton in 1939 to 82s. a ton at the present time. It would be difficult to find in any other field of industry a rate of increase of cost as high as the alarming increase that I have mentioned. That is a consequence for which the Government cannot escape some share of the responsibility, because of the policy pursued by it during the period in question. When we are told that the present measure, which is designed to supersede the legislation of 1947, is intended to continue the benefits conferred on the community by the previous legislation we may ask ourselves what those benefits are. What was then a turbulent industry has continued to be a turbulent industry despite the efforts made by the present Government to appease the waterside workers. We cannot appease the unappeasable. We cannot appease the Communist leaders of the waterfront, the shipping and the mining industries. They cannot be appeased because their avowed object is to smash the arbitration system of this country. Although the present Government has gone as far as any administration could go in placating them, it has found that the Communist leaders of the waterfront industry have, by their own deliberate act, shown themselves to be unappeasable.
Coming now to the legislation before us, we ask ourselves to what extent it represents a departure from the experiment that was made in 1947. Admittedly there are one or two variations. The previous legislation established a Stevedoring Industry Commission to deal with administrative matters, such as the regulation of conditions on the waterfront, the establishment of a bureau for picking up labour, and the provision of amenities. lt also dealt with other matters of the kind that were formerly dealt with by the Arbitration Court. The Government realizes that its failure to placate the militants has been abject and costly, as it has also been in the coal industry, where its failure has brought us to the brink of national disaster. The Government has therefore decided to bring the waterside workers once more under the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court. On behalf of the Opposition I say that we welcome that decision as a consummation much to be desired. When the Stevedoring Industry Act, which removed them from the direct control of the Arbitration Court, was introduced in 1947 we contended that its enactment would weaken the authority of that body. We told the Government that the establishment of special tribunals for particular industries would create anomalies that would cause a great deal of friction. It is obvious that the head of a tribunal which deals with one particular industry must tend to become blind to the requirements of other industries and their employees and to ignore the effect upon other industries and workers of his decisions. Because of his isolation from other industries it is obvious that although the decisions which he makes may meet the desires of those with whom he is concerned, he will inevitably create problems for other industries for which special tribunals are not provided. So it has proved. I recall that a very serious strike occurred in a sugar refinery in Victoria because some of its employees who were handling goods brought from the wharfs complained that they were not being treated exactly similarly to waterside workers who also handled the goods. That is an example of the kind of dispute occasioned by the establishment of special industrial tribunals for particular industries. Members of the Opposition have at all times stressed the need for maintaining the supervision of the Arbitration Court over all industries in order that uniformity of treatment may be given to all industrial workers. Uniformity of treatment can come about only when the arbitrating authority has some recognition of the consequences upon other industries of the decisions to which he makes. The provision of special treatment for any section of industrial workers must inevitably increase the difficulties of maintaining industrial peace, develop friction and cause industrial disturbances. Insofar as this measure intends to bring waterside workers back to the authority of the Arbitration Court, the Opposition welcomes it. However, I doubt whether the legislation will achieve the Government’s objective. Why are special provisions included in the bill concerning the matters that may be referred to the Arbitration Court? Why should special provision be made for this industry when no such provision is made for other industries? Most of the industrial workers of this country come under the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court without any special legislation having to be provided, and, that being so, waterside workers would automatically come within the ambit of that court. Despite the Government’s claim that it is returning the waterside workers to the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court, the bill provides for special treatment to be given to this particular section of the industrial community. Furthermore, the remaining parts of the measure do not remove the weaknesses contained in the previous legislation, but perpetuate them.
Let us review the provisions of the measure from the point of view of industrial discipline. Force without justice may be tyrannous, but justice without force is futile, as we have so often learned. The bill contains no effective disciplinary provisions, although this particular industry, _ of all industries, requires strong disciplinary provisions. .It is not sufficient to say that the legislation which has returned the supervision of the industry to the control of the Arbitration Court gives added power to that body to control waterside workers. The disciplinary powers of the Arbitration Court itself have proved ineffectual. In his annual report the late Chief Judge of the Arbitration Court, Mr. Justice DrakeBrockman, informed the Government that the power to enforce awards and orders against employees still remains ineffectual. He stated -
There have been too many instances of the refusal to accept decisions of Conciliation Commissioners made in settlement of claims.
Although that complaint was made many months ago the Government has done nothing to rectify the position. It certainly does not propose to strengthen the disciplinary powers of the Arbitration Court under this bill. Section 16 (3.) of the Stevedoring Industry Act 1947 provides that -
A person shall not contravene or fail to comply with any provision of an award or order made by the Commission which is applicable to him.
Penalty: Where the offence is committed by a waterside worker, Five pounds; in any other case. One hundred pounds.
A waterside worker may refuse to comply with an order to load cargoes which must be loaded urgently. A ship which is carrying valuable food or other cargoes to Great Britain or other parts of the world may be held up in consequence, but the maximum penalty provided in that legislation, and repeated in this bill, is a fine of £:”). That provision is sufficiently innocuous, but its ineffectiveness is even more clearly demonstrated when I assert - and the Minister will correct me if I am wron; - that there has never been a fine of £5 imposed upon a waterside worker, notwithstanding that no one will contest that there have been many breaches of the act that would warrant the infliction of a fine. Of course, the Minister may rejoin, “ Oh, but there is a power of suspension “. That is so, but I understand that that power has been exercised most sparingly. But there again, that is not an effective penalty. A man who is engaged in casual employment, in an intermittent occupation, may be suspended for two days, from, say, Tuesday to Thursday, but he can still obtain employment at the week-end when the penalty rates of pay apply, and thus earn morn than he would have earned had he worked from Tuesday to Thursday. In practice, it has been found that the penalty of suspension carries no real sanction whatsover.
The maximum penalty that may be imposed on the employers’ organizations is £100, but I cannot find any provision for the imposition of a penalty on the Waterside Workers Federation, which has been given the monopoly of engaging men in this industry. I remind the the Minister that there have been times when the union has been requested by the Stevedoring Industry commission to make available at certain ports an additional number of employees. Without refusing
Ifr. Holt. to do so in so many words, the federation, has delayed, evaded or avoided nominating additional employees, and, in consequence, the ports have been without the additional labour that the commission has required. In those instances, nopenalty has been exacted from the federation, and I cannot find any provision in this bill for the imposition of a penalty or sanction on the federation if it does not carry out the direction of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board. If there be a penalty at all, it is to be found in clause 17, to which I have already made reference. That clause provides for a maximum fine of £100. To a union which, on the facts disclosed in recent proceedings, is able to withdraw many thousands of pounds from the bank in order to assist a striking union, the penalty of £100 does not appear very formidable. In relation to this industry, the Government has not been prepared to go so far as it went, in the act of 1946, with the coalmining industry. In that legislation at least the Government did provide for the imposition of a fine of £1,000 and sis months’ imprisonment on those who did not obey the direction of the Coal Industry Tribunal. It may be that those provisions have not been enforced, but at least, they were inserted in the legislation by the government at that time. There- . fore, I say to the Minister that the Stevedoring Industry Bill, now under consideration, will prove just as futile as the act which it supersedes, unless those who are given by the Government the authority to make orders are also given power to ensure that those orders are obeyed.
Earlier, I mentioned that the Waterside Workers Federation had been given by legislation the monopoly of engaging labour. This House should consider the position for a few minutes, because it represents a most remarkable development in Australian legislation. The development is all the more remarkable because it emanates from a government which has always expressed its abhorrence of the evils of monopolies. Does it not strike this Parliament that a union which is able to say whether or not an Australian citizen shall enter a particular industry has an extreme power - a power which a government itself would hesitate to exercise? When that right to admit «r exclude an Australian citizen from working in a particular industry is given to a union which is notoriously dominated by Communist leaders, I say that the Australian people as a whole should not countenance the situation for five minutes. The Port of “Sydney is one of the most important ports of the Commonwealth, and the kind of person, and the number of persons who may engage in waterside work there is determined by the Waterside Workers Federation, the deliberations of which are dominated by * Comrade “ Healy, a notorious Communist. That is wrong. The Stevedoring Industry Bill, which is now under consideration, provides for the appointment of waterside employment committees on which the Government, the employers and the union will be represented. If anybody is to be given authority by the Australian Government to determine whether or not an Australian citizen shall have the right to work on the waterfront, it should be a waterside employment committee and not a union which may be exercising its choice either in a capricious or vindictive manner, or from motives of a political character. I wonder why the Government, having taken the power to set up waterside employment committees, has not given to those bodies the responsibility of determining who shall be employed in the industry.
– The waterside employment committees will have that power.
– I am astonished to hear the Minister say that the waterside employment committees will have that power. Will the honorable gentleman inform me whether the existing port committees have that power, and whether the waterside employment committees will have that power in future?
– The port committees have had that power in the past and the position will not be changed under this legislation. The port committees decide how many hundreds of men shall be admitted or dismissed.
– The Minister cannot catch me with that one. He says that at present, a port committee decides how many men shall be admitted to the industry if labour is short, and how many shall be dismissed from it, if the number of the employees is excessive. That i* not the point which I am making. .
– The port committees decide who shall be registered.
– Again, that is not the point. The bill provides that a person shall be registered with the port committee; but, speaking broadly, the only persons who are eligible for registration are those who are members of the Waterside Workers Federation. 1 invite the Minister to correct me if I am misstating the position, but I believe that this is what happens in practice at the present time. The port committee says to the Waterside Workers Federation, “We want 500 additional employees in the Port of Sydney “. The Waterside Workers Federation then nominates to the port committee an additional 500 persons. That is not the same as if the port committee were to advertise for 500 additional employees for the waterfront, make its selection from the applicants, and then, perhaps, say, “ Now, boys, you must become members of the Waterside Workers Federation, because we register only those who are members of that organization “. Such a position would still confer great benefits on the federation and give to it a virtual monopoly of employment in this industry, but that situation would not call for the same criticism that I make of the present practice. However, that has not been done. Once the number of additional employees has been indicated, complete authority for their recruitment rests with the Waterside Workers Federation. How many men will be enlisted as members of that organization in the port of Sydney who are not men whom “ Comrade “ Healy regards as suitable material for his propaganda and his particular brand of tactics on the waterfront? That is one of the most serious criticisms which honorable members on this side of the House level against this legislation and against this Government. The proper course in future would be for the waterside employment committees on which the Government, the employers, and ‘the Waterside Workers Federation will be represented, to recruit and select new labour for employment on the waterfront. Then let the committee, if it will, tell the new men that the act provides for preference in employment to members of the federation, and let the recruits join the organization. At least, the waterside employment committee would have some supervision over -.the personnel to be enlisted for this responsible work which is so vital to the efficient transport of Australian goods within the Commonwealth and to other parts of the world.
There is one final point that I wish to make. The normal means whereby fair dealing and discipline are assured in an industry is the relationship between employer and employee. The Arbitration Court and other tribunals have laid down the relationship that should apply between employer and employee, but they have left to the employer, as I think all fairminded members will concede to be necessary in any occupation or industry, a reasonable measure of disciplinary control over those whom he engages. Efficient industry is impossible unless those who pay the wages and fulfil the conditions laid down for employees by the industrial tribunals of this country are permitted to enforce a reasonable measure of discipline, and to expect a fair day’s work from those whom they engage. In this industry, as the result of legislation which the Parliament has already passed, the normal relationship between employer and employee does not exist. Instead, there is a sort of “ infernal triangle “. We have the employer and the employee, but standing somewhere in between them are the government authorities, and unless those administering on behalf of the Government the strong powers that this bill confers upon them are very careful, we shall have a situation in which discipline will become impossible. In practice, that has already happened. Let us suppose, for example, that, at a pick-up centre, there is an unruly waterside worker who refuses to obey the orders given to him. Such orders, I remind the House, would be issued to him, not by his employer, but by the port committee. The “ boss “, on the other hand, wants the labour. He has a ship perhaps carrying perishable cargo, to be unloaded. It has to make scheduled calls at various other ports in this country or overseas.
– The employer will be represented on the port committee.
– Surely the Minister will not suggest that that is how it works out in practice so far as the pick-up is concerned. He is not the boss directly engaging men for a particular ship. He may be represented on the port committee, but the Government’s representative has the casting vote. It cannot be claimed that the person who really employs and pays the labour, has any direct supervision of the pick-up. Therefore, if the government authority is not prepared to redress a breach of discipline, it will be impossible for efficient operations to be carried on. That is why I refer to the position as an “ infernal triangle “. Unless that administration is exercised with skill, authority and judgment, the relationship between employer and employee will become utterly unworkable. I do not wish to detain the House at greater length at this stage. There are other matters that can be dealt with more effectively when the bill reaches the committee stage. I merely repeat that, in introducing this measure, the Government is having another “ go “ at bringing peace to this section of industry, and facilitating more efficient working on the waterfront. Events since the first attempt was made in 1947 have been disastrous, and costly. From the point of view of the community, the experiment has failed completely and I am afraid that this measure will not be any more successful than the last because it still contains the weaknesses to which I have referred in the course of this debate. We on his side of the chamber prophesy - not happily, I assure the Minister, but with some confidence - that unless these weaknesses are eliminated, he will come back to this Parliament before long, if he has the good fortune to remain in office, and confess that the second experiment has failed to produce the results that the Government seeks. The Minister will have to strengthen the authority of the tribunal; he will have to provide for a greater measure of discipline on the waterfront both between employer and employee, and between the Stevedoring Industry Board and its employees. If he is to remove what my colleagues and I regard as a very obnoxious provision from this bill, he will take away from the federation that power of engagement which now exists, and place it where it more properly belong£ - in the hands of the body for which this legislation provides.
– This measure started off as the Government’s answer to the challenge of the Waterside Workers Federation under the Communist control of Mr. Healy and Mr. Roach; but now that the bill is here, it turns out to be a measure framed with the connivance and consent of those gentlemen. It should have been introduced in the Senate, where the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) sits. He is the Minister who controls this industry; but apparently he is too deeply involved in negotiations with Mr. Healy and Mr. Roach to handle the bill, and so its introduction has been transferred to this chamber. Mr. Healy was in Canberra a fortnight ago. He had a long discussion with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel and finally he O.K.’d this measure. The Minister once again turned out to be merely a rubber stamp in the hands of the Communists. That is typical of the recent history of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. The Communists climbed into power and have remained there with the support of the Curtin Government and the present Government. We have heard a great deal about “ my good friend Jim Healy “ from Labour party members. Mr. Healy appears to have the “ Indian sign “ on the Government. He gets what he wants. The Government says that Mr. Healy is a good negotiator. What does that mean? Does it mean that he gets away with the Communist line? But for the support of Mr. Healy and Mr. Roach by this Government, the Communists would have lost all their control over the Waterside Workers Federation long ago. I was interested to hear the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) say that the port committees had done good work. They were supposed to be under the control of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. Actually, in some instances, they were dominated by Mr. Healy and Mr. Roach. When Mr. J. A. Beasley was Minister for Shipping, he appointed Mr. Lewis as chairman of the Sydney Port Committee. Mr. Lewis was appointed because he was a member of the Labour party, a member who was acceptable to the wharf labourers on the Sydney waterfront. He did his job conscientiously, and because of that he clashed with Messrs Healy and Roach. Mr. Justice Kirby issued a direction to the members of the union that they were not to stop work on a Communist issue; but the Communists defied the judge. Lewis took his position and his responsibility seriously, and promptly stood down those who followed the Communist- direction. What was the result? Lewis was dumped by the Government, and by the commission. He found his position as chairman of the port committee untenable. How could he stand up to the Communists if the Government was giving in? When the Government had a choice between a Labour man and the Communists, it backed the Communists. It allowed Healy and Roach to declare a blockade of the Dutch Government in Indonesia. It allowed the initiative on an important issue, affecting this country’s relations with a friendly power, to pass into the hands of the Communists. This bill represents another step on the road of appeasement. Mr. Healy is delighted with the bill. He approves of it, and has given it his O.K. He is not worried that he will no longer be drawing appearance money as a member of the commission. The union funds will make up the leeway. But Mr. Healy will be able to stand for the next election of officers in his union claiming that his policy still has the endorsement of the Government. He will point out that nothing has been lost, that the Government abdicated when he refused to be supplanted on the commission. Healy said, “No Healy, no Roach - no union representative on the commission “. The Government said that it would not accept Healy and Roach as nominees to the commission. Then, instead of having a show-down, and saying that two other union representatives should be appointed to the commission, it backed down, and changed the name of the commission, calling it a board, but the board will be without non-Communist representatives. The bill provides for the appointment of a single judge. No doubt, Judge Kirby will be the sole arbiter, but Healy and Roach will have the right to appear before him as union advocates, and the shipowners will still have the right to be represented by advocates. What difference, therefore, will there be under the new arrangement as compared with the old? When the commission was in existence, there were Healy and Roach on one side of the table, two representatives of the shipowners on the other side, and the judge at the end to give his decision. Now there will be Healy as before as an advocate, and the owners will be represented by their advocate, and there will be the same judge on the bench to give his decision. The only difference will be that the judge will be wearing a wig, whereas he did not wear one before. How can it be claimed that Healy and Roach have been disciplined ? The difference between the old commission and the new board will be the difference between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The Communists will make a mockery of both the board and the Government. Healy and Roach defied the commission and they defied the Government; yet Healy and Roach will be recognized by the board.
The next part of the bill is a typical piece of bureaucracy. The board is to consist of a chairman and two members; but, according to the Minister, members of the board must not be associated with the industry. A knowledge of the industry is to be a bar to appointment. Retired magistrates or political friends of the Government will be regarded as eligible, but not any one who knows anything about the job. Of course, it could happen as happened in the case of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. We were assured by the Minister in charge of the bill under which that board was to be set up that the members of the board were to have no connexion with any broadcasting station. In fact an interpretation to that effect was incorporated in the bill, but when the appointments were announced it was found that one of the members came straight from a broadcasting network. His appointment was, perhaps, technically in accordance with the provisions of the act, but I say deliberately that the House was deceived over that measure. In regard to the matter now under discussion, it may be that some shipping man will resign his present position and be appointed to the board. If that is the intention of the Government, it should be frank about it, and say so now. The board should have on it a representative of the waterside workers. Why should the Government allow itself to be bluffed into abandoning a Labour principle just because of Healy and Roach? There is no need to accept the Communist nominee, or nominees. The Government is responsible for any body that it sets up. It can make its own appointments. There are plenty of good anti-Communist men on the waterfront capable of representing their fellowunionists on a body like this. It is the Government’s job to find, a man acceptable to the industry and capable of doing the job, who would not be a catspaw of Healy, and who would safeguard the interests of the union members.
This is not the first occasion on which a Labour government has had to meet that kind of a situation. In New South Wales, Labour governments have invariably appointed trade union representatives to statutory bodies, and have accepted responsibility for the appointments. When they wanted conciliation commissioners, they did not ask the Trades Hall to accept responsibility. They appointed the men whom they considered to be most suitable for the positions. They appointed trade union representatives to the Meat Board, the Milk Board, the Transport Board, and other bodies that were set up. But they did not ask the unions to nominate anybody. The government was responsible for the men whom it appointed, and it accepted that responsibility. The same principle should apply in this instance. There are men inside the union who are well fitted to represent the waterside workers on this board. It is the Government’s job to ensure that it finds the right man. The task is not difficult. By taking the present course, the Government is strengthening the position of Healy and Roach, whereas by appointing antiCommunists to the board, it would be taking the first step to destroy their power.
The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. O’Connor) should be able to
Advise it who would be suitable for such a position. I could name, not one, but several men with the necessary qualifications. If we are to smash communism on the waterfront, anti-Communists should be placed in key positions. The Government’s present policy is only consolidating the positions of Healy and Roach Lt is playing right into their hands. When the Government wants to do anything on the waterfront, or when the board wants to know something about waterside conditions, it will still have to go to Healy and Roach. Put a Labour man on the board, and the influence of Healy and Roach will vanish ! Then, instead of getting concessions from the Government by virtue of Communist activities, the wharf labourers would be looking to a Labour man. That would completely circumvent the Communist plan of action. Instead of the Government doing that with this bill, it is appeasing Healy and Roach.
The Government also proposes to perpetuate two major strategic weapons valued most highly by the Communist party. It will perpetuate the “ dogcollar “ principle. The Communists are all for the “ dog-collar “ - the compulsory registration of waterside workers and the issue of discs to govern employment on the waterfront. Labour supporters oppose the “ dog-collar “. They oppose it because it can become an instrument of political repression either in the hands of their Communist opponents or in the hands of an anti-Labour government. That was recently pointed out by the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) in this House. The “ dogcollar “ can lead to the permanent loss of the right to make a living in the industry as the result of a fight on industrial principles. It can be perverted so that admission into the industry can be governed by the Communist controllers of the union. By permitting the acceptance of only Communists into the union, the “ dog-collar “ can become a means of drafting potential members of the Communist party. It can be used as an instrument of industrial victimization, as it was used against Freeman, a Labour man on the Sydney waterfront. By ex pelling a Labour stalwart from the union, the Communists can not only deprive him of a living, but also put an end to his opposition. That is why the Communists favour the “ dog-collar “. In that fight, the Government sided with the Communists, not with the members of the Labour movement fighting the Communists on the wharfs.
The second instrument that will be perpetuated by this bill is what is known as the “ redundancy clause “. The board will at any time be able to declare that there is a labour surplus in the industry, and the “ last to come, first to go “ principle will apply. That means that men who were away at the war may be victimized. The board will be able to say that 600 men are redundant in the industry. The last 600 will lose their “ dogcollars “. The young men will have to go first. Those men will then be thrown on the industrial scrap-heap. The Communists have always welcomed such a state of affairs. It makes material for them. They are then in a position to restrict membership at a future date, when more men are needed, lt can become a vicious circle. It creates vested interests that have no place in a democracy. The Government would have been well advised to consult- rank and file anti-Communists instead of sending for Healy. I know that the Government will not accept an amendment of this bill. It never does accept amendments. So, it must accept the responsibility if Healy and Roach exploit the advantages given to them by the Government under this bill. This is half-baked appeasement at best, but it is all we can expect from a government that believes in appeasement and has very little regard for the genuine Labour man working on the waterfront.
Debate (on motion by Mr. MCBRIDE’ adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Holloway) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to take this opportunity to draw attention to a matter which, I consider, cuts across the principle of the effective representation of constituents in this Parliament. I refer to the following statement which was made by the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) last Thursday night: -
The. Leader of the Australian Country party has been bleating all over the country about petrol rationing. He has been complaining ever since I refused permission for the movement of a bus from Melbourne to Queensland for one of his friends.
The facts of the case are as follows: - I was approached by one of my constituents, Mr. Ron Grimley, of Warwick, who asked me to make representations on his behalf in order to obtain from the Liquid Fuel Board sufficient petrol tickets to enable him to bring overland a bus which he had purchased in Melbourne. The bus would have to be run in before it could be used for passenger services, and, accordingly, petrol for that purpose would have to be used after it had arrived at Warwick. On the 8th March, I addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Fuel the following letter: -
Enclosed is a letter received by -me from Mr. Ron T. Grimley, Globe Hotel Building, Warwick, Queensland, who runs a BrisbaneWarwick bus passenger service.
This is the only direct route to Brisbane through Cunningham’s Gap and, as I have travelled on the service several times, I can say from my own personal experience that it is of very valuable assistance to the persons in the areas which it services.
You will see from Mr. Grimley’s letter that lie has purchased a new thirty-one passenger bus to be delivered to him at Melbourne about the middle of this month.
He desires to accept delivery of the vehicle in. Melbourne and drive it by road for use in Brisbane. He points out that, although the Liquid Fuel Control Board in Brisbane is agreeable to supply him with sufficient petrol, namely 100-120 gallons, the Commonwealth Governmnent is not in favour of allowing delivery by road but wishes him to use the alternative methods of rail or ship.
No doubt you will have some idea of the delays entailed in endeavouring to obtain shipping space to Brisbane as well as the possibility of taking up space which would otherwise be used by essential cargo.
Mr. Grimley points out that, even when delivered in Brisbane by ship, the bus will have to be run in and a certain amount of petrol will be required for that purpose.
As the bus is needed urgently for the BrisbaneWarwick run, and also as I know that Mr. Grimley would not put up a case through me unless he was convinced of its justice, 2 should very much appreciate your personal and, if possible, favorable consideration of hil request for a grant of the necessary petrol.
I point out that it was difficult to freight the bus from Melbourne to Warwick byrail, because the railways found the accommodation of so large a vehicle as a 31-passenger bus very awkward and it was difficult to transport it expeditiously by sea because of the priority allotted to more essential goods. The Minister did not reply until the 23rd March, when he wrote me a long letter, as follows : -
I refer again to your letter and enclosure of 8th March in which representations were made on behalf of Mr. R. T. Grimley of the Globe Hotel Building, Warwick, Queensland, who runs a Brisbane-Warwick bus passenger service, and who desires a sufficient allowance of petrol to enable him to drive a new bus from Melbourne to Queensland.
The position is that petrol cannot be madeavailable for interstate movement of new vehicles unless alternative means of transport, such as sea or rail, cannot be obtained within a reasonable time. The fact that these alternatives are more expensive cannot be taken into consideration as the object of the restriction is to save fuel.
Mr. Grimley states that General MotorsHoldens Limited had previously been permitted to issue sufficient petrol tickets at Fishermen’s Bend for overland movement to Brisbane. The facts are that this firm draws ration tickets against an imprest account provided by the Victorian Liquid Fuel Control Board for the delivery of vehicles. At the time the imprest account was established, there was no suggestion of interstate delivery. General Motors bus manufacturing programme was expanded early in 1948 to provide for requirements in all States, and subsequently, the firm provided ration tickets from their imprest account for a few interstate deliveries.
This, however, was done without the knowledge of the Fuel Board, which, in fact, was at the time refusing special allowances to other vehicle builders for similar movement When the matter was brought to the notice of the board, instructions were given to General Motors and other car manufacturers and distributors that issues were not to be made from their imprest accounts for interstate movement without specific authority from the board in each case. Such authority is not given except when alternative transport cannot be arranged.
I am informed that normally shipping space to Brisbane can be obtained within a reasonable time, and I therefore regret that petrol cannot be made available to Mr. Grimley to drive his bus overland. The Queensland Fuel Board will, of course, issue an allowance for the movement from Brisbane to Warwick.
I understand that this decision has already been conveyed to Messrs. E. G. Eager and Son Proprietary Limited, through whom Mr. Grimley placed his order for the bus.
Those are the facts in connexion with the matter to which the Minister has unfairly referred. Things have come to a pretty pass if a member of this House cannot make representations on behalf of his constituents without a responsible Minister unfairly distorting the facts, as was done on this occasion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of Shipping and Fuel - A. W. Fulton.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for-
Defence purposes - Bacchus Marsh, Victoria.
Department of Civil Aviation purposes- Adelaide, South Australia.
Postal purposes - Margaret River, Western Australia.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Regulations - 1 949 -
No. 5 (Motor Traffic Ordinance).
No. 6 (Buildings and Services Ordinance ) .
House adjourned at 11.8 p.m.
The following answers to questions were ‘ circulated: -
n asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. upon notice -
Under Part VII. of the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945- (o) What is the total acreage in each State approved for settlement of ex-servicemen? (6) What is the total acreage in each State at present occupied by ex-servicemen under the Commonwealth scheme? (o) How many ex-servicemen have been actually settled on the land in each State under the Commonwealth scheme?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are ai follows : -
As mentioned above, and as the honorable member is aware, admission to training classes is regulated in accordance with the advice of the Industrial Committee, who, in order to guard against unemployment amongst exservicemen trainees, have careful regard to the capacity of industry to absorb partly trained men to complete their training to full qualification.
s asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice - 1.Has the Government decided to send an Australian delegation to the United Kingdom to discuss with British authorities details of the fifteenyears’ meat agreement between the two countries; if so, who are the members of this delegation?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1, 2, 3 and 4. A decision has not yet been made regarding the detailed arrangements for the conduct of the discussions or the prices on which the negotiations for a long-term meat agreement will be based.
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Exports of Asparagus Preserved in Liquid from Australia during tub Ten Months ended APRIL, 1949. le) This information is not available except for the period of ten months ended April, 1049. In that period the production of canned asparagus is estimated at 2,82fi,000 lb., whilst exports totalled 130.2.12 lb. This would leave approximately 2,09(1.000 lb. available for supply to the Australian market.
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The Council views sympathetically the suggestion that an immediate review be made of the standard dimensions of cornsacks, and agree that action be taken to investigate the position both locally and abroad With a view to action being taken as early as possible to ensure that sacks used for certain commodities, viz., superphosphate, fertilizers generally, wheat, harley, potatoes, onions, &c, be reduced to the approximate weight of 120 lb.
At the present proposals are limited to the bags used for the heavier type of farm requirements such as superphosphate. Undoubtedly, containers for cereals and other primary products will be reviewed eventually.
n asked the Minister for
Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Commonwealth Statistician has supplied the following information: -
r asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The statistics required for the twelve months ended the 31st May, 1949, are not yet available. The following statistics relate to the twelve months ended 30th April, 1949, and are subject to revision.
165,200 tons (includes 4,500 tons produced on farms). 2. (o) 78,300 tons; (6) 84,500 tons. The difference between the total of these two quantities and the total production over the period is due to changes in stocks in cold stores.
A recent estimate by the Australian Dairy Produce Board shows that the abolition of the ban on the sale of cream would result in a loss in the production of butter amounting to approximately 8,000 tons a year.
See No. 3.
g asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - ). Colonel A. W. Sheppard ceased to be on the Reserve of Officers in the Australian Military Forces on 8th June, 1949.
Art Treasures : Alleged Illicit Introduction into Australia.
d. - On the 16th June the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) asked the following questions: -
The Minister for Trade and Customs has now supplied the following information : -
Broadcasting : “ REPORT to the Nation “ : Facilities fob Party Leaders.
– On the 17th June the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) asked the following questions : -
The Postmaster-General informs me that the stations concerned have supplied the following information in regard to questions 1 to 4: -
John Henry Austral session is broadcast twice weekly on behalf of the Liberal party. The only session that has a Labour tendency is “Workers’ Digest” - a ten-minute tali by representatives of the various Labour unions.
In regard to question 5, the PostmasterGeneral informs me that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is at present examining all aspects of the situation pursuant to its obligation under the Broadcasting Act “ to ensure that facilities are provided on an equitable basis for the- broadcasting of political or controversial matter”.
Food fob Britain.
D - On the 21st June, the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) asked the following question: -
I refer to the difficulties being experienced by many people who wish to send fat to Great Britain. In view of the shortage of tinplate, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture consider amending the present regulations which restrict the weight of a parcel of fat to 2 lb.? Has the British Government indicated to the Australian Government that it is prepared to reduce the rate of postage on gift parcels? If not, will the Australian Government approach the British authorities to see if a reduction can be made of postage rates on such parcels?
The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The Tinplate Board places no restriction on the supply of tinplate for gift food parcels for Britain, provided the fat is packed under supervision of officers of my department. The 2-lb. weight limit has been retained to ensure more equitable distribution in Britain and to avoid exploitation. It is considered more desirable to send edible fats in bulk as the Ministry of Food can handle the distribution to the best advantage. Increased quantities of bulk edible fats are now being shipped to Britain. The 2-lb. limit applies only to parcels forwarded by post and not to bulk shipments by sea. As has been stated previously, the position is that the postage charged upon parcels for Britain takes into account the factors of cost of handling of parcels and of their conveyance to oversea points for delivery. The current postage scale has been in operation for many years and was fixed at a time when handling costs were at a much lower figure than applies to-day. Over the past two years, however, sea freight costs for parcel mails have risen substantially, and these costs have been accepted without increasing postage charges for parcels.
These unavoidable freight costs now represent a considerable proportion of the postage prepayments collected from the senders of parcels,, and it is impossible to nave them reduced. The question of reduced postage upon food parcels for Britain has been canvassed with the British authorities from time to time in recent years. However, it was found that the small reductions possible in the handling charges at cither end would not suffice to allow any appreciable relief so far as senders are concerned on account of the factor of the heavy freight charges necessarily incurred. Notwithstanding this, information available to me indicates that the Australian postage rates upon food parcels for Britain are still more favorable than those operative upon similar parcels from the nearer countries of South Africa and Canada. For that reason, and in view of the marked drop in food parcels, it was deemed inadvisable to make any reduction at the present time.
D - On the 28th June the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) asked the following question : -
Will the Government consider waiving the customs duties on insulators and pins which local authorities have been advised by their State governments to import from overseas!
The Minister for Trade and Customs has now supplied the following information . -
Normally Australian manufacturers are able to cater for a considerable portion of Australian requirements of insulators and pins, but owing to the acknowledged shortage, specific importations of these goods are being admitted under customs by-law, free of duty when qualifying for admission under the British preferential tariff and 121 per cent, ad valorem otherwise. Free admission from countries other than those entitled to British preferential tariff rates is not accorded in view of the fact that the United Kingdom commercially produces these articles and is, in fact, exporting them to Australia. In certain instances no concession is granted because it has been ascertained that even after paying full duty the imported goods land at a price below the Austraiian manufacturers’ wholesale telling price for a comparable article.
s asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
In view of reports that the Communist Government of Czechoslovakia is persecuting and restricting the liberty of church leaders in that country, is the Government prepared to ask the United Nations to take action against Czechoslovakia under the terms of the Human Rights Declaration in order to prevent a repetition of the recent Mindszenty incident in Hungary ?
– The answers to the honors able member’s questions are as follows : -
The Government is endeavouring to ascertain the facts in this present case. If the circumstances .in Czechoslovakia appear to be similar to those which occurred in Bulgaria and Hungary, and which were discussed by the United. Nations, the Government will again support United Nations intervention in the matter for the purpose of protecting fundamental human freedoms including freedom of religion.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 July 1949, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1949/19490705_reps_18_203/>.