18th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mx. J. J. Clark) took .the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Statements have been made in South Australia that it is much easier to get petrol in Melbourne than it is in Adelaide, and the question lias arisen whether petrol is distributed fairly throughout Australia. Oan the Prime Minister say whether, when import licences are issued for petrol, the quantities to go to the various States are stipulated, or whether the importing companies, having obtained an import licence, may send the petrol where they please ?
– I take it that the honorable member’s question is based on complaints that there is not a fair distribution as between the various States of the petrol coming into Australia. The Commonwealth issues licences to import petrol, but once an importer has a licence, and the petrol is in Australia, the Commonwealth has no power over the manner of its distribution among the States. That is a matter solely for the companies that import the petrol.
– Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether the Australian Apple and Pear Board has any power, directly or indirectly, over the price of fruit exported overseas ?
– The Australian Apple and Pear Board has no control over the price “f fruit exported, but in respect of operations during the last two years, which have been of an emergency character the Australian Apple- and Pear Marketing Board, which is a separate authority, has had power to allocate profits, if any, which have accrued from its operations in Western Australia and Tasmania. Under this arrangement, Tasmanian growers are to receive a dividend of 2s. a bushel on apples and pears, and it is possible that a further dividend will be paid at the conclusion of operations. In respect of Western Australia, the guaranteed price will be payable, and it is hoped that upon the winding up of the pool an additional dividend ako will be paid.
– In view of the fact that the export market for apples and pears has not yet been fully restored to its pre-war level, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture investigate the possibilities of extending for another season the successful arrangements that have operated during the past two years with relation to the marketing of this fruit, provided that the governments of Tasmania and Western Australia indicate that they would be agreeable to such an extension? Can the Minister indicate whether Tasmanian apple and pear growers may expect a further advance for apples and pears that were delivered to the board during the past season, and if so, when it is likely to be made?
– It is quite true that the operations of the Australian Apple and Pear Marketing Board in respect of the States of Tasmania and Western Australia have been eminently successful during the past two years. In its wisdom the Australian Government enacted legislation to reconstitute that board. Western Australia recently made representations, ‘ through the Minister for Works and Housing, for a continuation of the transitional scheme that has operated in that State during the past two years, and in respect of which the apple and pear growers of Western Australia, by virtue of a poll taken of their members, voted by a 67 per cent, majority in favour of continuation of that scheme. Furthermore, during the recent visit of the Prime Minister to Western Australia I understand that representatives of the Western Australian Government and of the apple and pear growers in that State waited on the right honorable gentleman and urged him to provide for a continuation of the transitional scheme. Those representations are being considered by the Australian Government. Should the Tasmanian Government and representatives of the apple and pear growers in that State make representations for the continuation of the transitional scheme I am quite sure that the Australian Government will sympathetically consider those representations.
– Will the Minister for Works and Housing give to honorable members tha latest information regardins the progress being made with the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric project? Have head-quarters been chosen for the constructing authority? If so, what does that involve? What arrangements have been made for the construction of roads and buildings in the area? As survey borings and preparatory work have been done when will a commencement be made with the construction of the first great clam at Adaminaby?
– As it is the policy of the Government and of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority to practise decentralization we propose to set up the head-quarters of the authority at Cooma. For that purpose an area of land is at present being surveyed and town-planned by the Department of Works and Housing. Officers of my department are engaged on that work, and when it is completed, which should be within a few weeks, we propose to let a contract for approximately 400 houses, designing offices and other buildings which will be required at the head-quarters of such an organization. With respect to the provision of roads, including access roads, negotiations are in train for the construction of a road from Cooma to Adaminaby which will be one of the main arteries for the supply of materials to that area. We hope to reach an agreement soon with the Main Roads Department of New South Wales for the construction of that road, whilst another main road, from Cooma to Jindabyne, which will be the main artery to No. 2 dam will be constructed under contract by the Cooma Shire Council. These negotiations have been practically completed, and the work will be commenced forthwith. With regard to dam construction, borings and design work on No. 1 dam are now under way and the official commencement ceremony will be performed by the
Governor-General on the 17th October. I hope that all honorable members and their wives will attend that ceremony.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government of New South Wales has yet given an approximate estimate of the total damage caused by the recent disastrous floods on the Macleay River? If so, what is the amount ? Do the funds subscribed by the public to assist the distressed in the area exceed the amount so far contributed by the Australian and New South Wales Governments? In view of the appalling flood losses, which were uninsurable and are, therefore, irredeemable, will the Australian Government consider using a substantial amount of the balance unclaimed in the War Damage Fund for the purpose of giving these unfortunate victims a new start and of assisting local governing bodies to restore facilities and amenities? In view of the desperate plight of farmers in the lower Macleay district due to delays in the delivery of fodder owing to the destruction of the railway connexion between Kempsey and Sydney, will the Government urge the Flood Relief Committee to obtain as much fodder as possible from Queensland whence it can be brought direct on the standard gauge railway from South Brisbane to Kempsey ?
– I have seen various estimates of the amount of damage which has resulted from the recent disastrous floods in the Macleay River district, but I a.m. sure that no official estimate has been made. I discussed this matter with the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. McGirr, on the day following the occurrence of the floods and we agreed that he should immediately arrange for the Flood Relief Committee, which was set up in connexion with the floods which previously occurred in northern New South Wales, to ascertain the assistance required to relieve necessitous cases. Senator Amour is the Australian Government’s representative on that committee. I agreed with Mr. McGirr to make available immediately the sum of £20,000 to the State Government on a £l-for-£l basis thus providing an amount of. £40,000 for immediate use, and we arranged that when the Flood
Belief Committee had had an opportunity to survey the position and ascertain, as it did in respect of the previous floods, the financial assistance required to provide the necessary relief, that committee should report to “Mr. McGirr, who would discuss the matter with mc. Mr. McGirr has already made a public statement in regard to the matter. I had a further discussion with him on the subject this morning. I understand that the committee has made a fairly close survey of necessitous cases. If, as the result of that survey, it is found that additional money is required, we have agreed to give the matter favorable consideration. I shall arrange to discuss with Mr. McGirr the provision of materials and fodder for the relief of flood sufferers. The right honorable gentleman will realize, of course, that these matters fall within the jurisdiction of the States and that the Commonwealth can assist only as the result of representations by the State Governments.
– I refer once again to the sugar industry about which I have already asked some questions in this House and in relation to which I have also recently written to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister state whether it is a fact that a sugar inquiry committee was established in 1930-31, and that the Scullin Government appointed a competent woman to represent the domestic consumers of Australia on that committee? Will the Government take similar action to safeguard domestic consumers now, and again appoint this woman, who must have gained a considerable insight into the operations of the sugar industry, to act in the same capacity at whatever conference or inquiry is held to discuss the price and production of sugar? Will every effort be made to ensure the supply of sugar in full quantity at jam-making time this year, and thus eliminate the waste of fruit that has occurred in Victoria through lack of sugar during the jam-making season for several years past? Will efforts be made to do so before it is too late, as the season is rapidly approaching and the matter is of great concern to housewives ?
– It is true that a committee was established in 1939 to inquire into the sugar industry, and that representation was granted to consuming interests on that body. The last increase of the price of sugar resulted from representations made by the Queensland Government, the Queensland Sugar Board and representatives of the sugar-growers. On that occasion a full survey was made of the industry not by a ‘board of inquiry, but by highly trained officers and experts. No board of inquiry has since been established and it is not proposed to establish such a body to report upon the industry. The honorable member’s request for the appointment of a lady representative of the consumers will, however, be given consideration, should such a body be established at some future time. About three weeks ago, at the Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held at Canberra, representations were made to me and to other Ministers by a deputation consisting of representatives of the Queensland Government, the chairman of the Queensland Sugar Board and representatives of the Queensland sugar producers, for an increase of the price of sugar by id. per lb. The deputation pressed for an immediate decision. No board of inquiry was established but the request is being examined by the experts in the Department of Trade and Customs and by representatives of the Treasury. The preliminary inquiries have not yet been completed. In regard to the last portion of the honorable member’s question, relating to the availability of sugar for the canning industry, I think that ample supplies of sugar have been made available in the past to meet the requirements of the canning industry and other industrial users of sugar including breweries. Those industries require refined sugar. Ample stocks of raw sugar have always been available.
– I was speaking of domestic jam-making.
– Probably refined sugar is also preferred for domestic jam-making. The shortage of sugar for jams, preserves and the canning of fruit has not been due to a shortage of raw sugar. There has been ample raw sugar but for various reasons, including industrial troubles, sufficient refined sugar has not been available. I shall investigate the matter and ascertain whether it is possible to arrange for a proper distribution of refined sugar for the making of jams and preserves.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Immigration concerning the physical condition of immigrant children in camps in Australia. Is it a fact that Australian representatives examine migrants who are to come to Australia under the auspices of the International Refugee Organization? If SO, is the Minister satisfied that such inspections are adequate to ensure that the migrants, especially the children, are in a reasonable state of health before they embark upon the voyage to Australia? Has the Minister given consideration to complaints that have been made that the sharp change from the tropical conditions encountered on the voyage to the wintry conditions in the camps, where I understand children are often quartered in unlined army huts, litis a serious effect upon the health of new arrivals? Is it a fact, as alleged, that luggage frequently does not reach immigrants until some days, even a week or more, after they have landed in Australia and been placed in camps? Finally, is the Minister .satisfied that the medical services and facilities available in those camps are adequate to ensure the maintenance of the health of the children concerned ?
– I refer the honorable member to the statement that I made to the House yesterday. I think that I dealt then with most of the matters of major moment that he has raised. A perusal of the statement will answer at least some of his questions. I am satisfied that the medical attention available in our camps is as good as we can give and as good as is available to the Australian public in hospitals in capital cities. I pointed out yesterday that we have two Australian doctors and eight Australian nurses at the Bonegilla camp, and that 100 other people from amongst the new Australians are serving on the nursing and domestic staffs of Bonegilla Hospital. The question of making different arrangements for the transfer of child migrants to Australia was dealt with in the cablegram that I laid on the table of the House, in which it . was stated that, subject to the consent of Australia, the International Refugee Organization proposed to delay the dispatch of young children to Australia for 60 days in order that they would not have to pass through the tropic zone in summer and suffer all the discomforts that are incidental to a , sea passage in those circumstances. I believe that we have dealt with the luggage of immigrants as expeditiously as possible. There are, of course, delays incidental to the transfer of persons who often want to bring all their household goods to Australia with them. They are allowed to bring only a certain proportion of their property on any vessel, and the remainder of their luggage is brought on later vessels. In regard to the general health of migrants before they leave Europe for Australia, as I pointed out yesterday we do not prohibit an immigrant family from coming to Australia because one or more of the children in the family happens to be malnourished. If we refused such people permission to come to Australia, the chances are that all of the unfortunate undernourished children involved would die. As it is, at least many of them, if not all in a particular family, will survive if they have the opportunity to come to this country and get the good food that they cannot get in Europe. I do not think there is the slightest justification for anybody, except ghouls in certain newspaper offices, to try to make any noise about the fact that some undernourished children have been brought to Australia. I told the House yesterday that of the twelve children that had died in Albury Hospital only half had died from malnutrition and that in only half of the cases was malnutrition a contributing factor in the diagnosis of the illness that caused the death of the unfortunate children. I produced the doctor’s certificate to justify my statement. It is a pitiful commentary on the anxiety of people to bring their children to Australia that they will take them on the ship in almost a moribund condition. There have been instances of parents actually hiding the facts of their children’s illness for fear that if they did disclose them, they would be prevented’ from coming to Australia. We have done everything possible to encourage people to reveal the illnesses of their children. We have done everything possible to build the children up before they come to Australia. I am satisfied that the people who are serving Australia abroad, all of whom are Australianborn, are doing an excellent job. The medical officers and the screening officers are young men with war service. All the people working on the Australian pay-roll in displaced persons’ camps in Europe are serving Australia with undivided enthusiasm. I think we should be very grateful that so few children have died. Only 9 per 1,000 of the 2,000-odd whom we have brought to this country have died. Instead of these unfortunate circumstances being exploited to make a newspaper man’s holiday, we should thank our lucky stars that we have brought so many people here. We have the moral satisfaction of having done much good for the 60,000 people who have already arrived in this country that we should not be trying to find scapegoats in this country among International Refugee Organization officials or among the captains and crews of vessels because an unfortunate few have died. They would have died if they had not come to this country, anyhow.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether, as a result of recent raids on Marx House, Sydnev, and on the Communists in Western Australia, the Government now proposes to take action to declare the Communist party an unlawful association?
– The question asked by the honorable member for Reid about the raid on Marx House was dealt with yesterday. Some aspects of it at any rate were answered by the AttorneyGeneral. I have made it clear in reply to previous questions that the Government regards the banning of communism as a complete futility. The Government is supported in that view by the views of most eminent statesmen in the world.
– Such as?
– They include the President of the United States of America, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and the Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Even Governor Dewey, in his last presidential election campaign, made it perfectly clear that he regarded any such action as a complete futility. In militarily occupied western Germany and in Japan, General Lucius Clay and General Douglas MacArthur respectively take precisely the same view. That view is shared also by the French Government and the Italian Government. They all hold the opinion that the banning of communism would in no way help to destroy its menace to democratic government. We believe that the Communists can be fought successfully only as I indicated previously, by improving the conditions of the people. I think that that view is shared by the Prime Minister of India, Pandit Nehru. T can best sum up the position by saying that those gentlemen, and this Government, consider that it is far better to have your enemy wear his uniform, so that you will know whom you ave fighting.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General a question about the trial before the High Court of comrades Sharkey and Burns, members of the Communist party, on charges of sedition. Can the Minister say when the High Court will give its verdict on this very important issue?
– The cases mentioned by the honorable member have been before the High Court for a considerable time. No doubt judgment will be given on both of them at the same time, but we have had no indication yet of when that will” be done.
Spare Parts for Tractors
– During the recess, I found that there are still some primary producers whose tractors have been rendered ineffective through the inability of the owners to purchase some comparatively small spare parts. One tractor was kept in operation because a primary producer’s daughter, who was in the United States of America, was able to buy a spare part with her own money and send it to Australia. Will the Prime Minister inform me whether dollars can be allocated for the purchase of spare parts for tractors when it can be shown that such spare .parts will make machines effective tha t would otherwise be ineffective, and, in that way, assist to increase production?
– The Leader of the Australian Country party raised this matter on a previous occasion when he inquired whether sufficient dollars were made available for the purchase, of spare parts for tractors manufactured in the United States of America. I indicated to the right honorable gentleman on that occasion that the Government considered that it should make every endeavour to ensure that sufficient dollars were always available for the purchase of spare parts for American tractors in use in this country. That has been and is being done. The mere fact that, sometimes, a primary producer cannot obtain a spare part is hardly ever due to lack of dollars. The reason usually is that such spare parts have not been available. I heard not long ago that a person in Cleveland, United States of America, was able to buy a spare part for a tractor of somewhat ancient vintage, and send it to the owner of the machine in Australia. The local agents for that tractor had not been able to supply the required spare part. On a previous occasion, I pointed out that the allocation of dollars for the purchase of spare parts for tractors was not completely used in one particular quarter of the year. However, as the honorable member for Wimmera has raised this important matter again, I shall examine the position in order to ascertain whether any applications for dollars for the purchase of spare parts of American tractors have been declined. I shall also confer with the Minister for Trade and Customs and the Cabinet sub-committee which deals with the dollar situation and ascertain the exact position, so that I may give to the honorable member completely correct information.
– I desire to address to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services a question relating to that excellent publication covering the social services of the Commonwealth, which was recently issued by the Depart ment of Social Services. In view of the wide public interest in this matter and of the great wealth of information contained in the publication about the achievements of this Government in the field of social services, will the honorable gentleman advise the House whether the Government intends to forward a copy of that publication to every householder in the Commonwealth?
– The matter raised by the honorable member has been discussed with the Minister for Social Services. Until recently the difficulty was that a sufficient quantity of the booklets could not be printed. However, now that the printing is well in hand I shall remind the Minister of the honorable member’s suggestion.
– My question to the Prime Minister relates to an award by the Coal Industry Tribunal according coal-miners long service leave. Will the right honorable gentleman inform the House whether miners are to be granted long service leave after only ten years’ service? If so, will he say what period public servants are required to serve before they become eligible for long service leave ? If that period is longer than ten years, why was this form of favoritism accorded the coal-miners, particularly in view of their responsibility for the recent general coal strike, which had such a disastrous effect upon the national economy ?
– I have not yet seen the award of the Coal Industry Tribunal. I remind the honorable member that the chairman of the Coal Industry Tribunal occupies the position of arbitrator. We have striven for many years to preserve the decisions of arbitrators. I understand that the minutes of this award have not yet been spoken to, and that there are certain other difficulties associated with the delivery of the award. It is not for me to tell arbitrators what decisions they should make. That has been made perfectly clear, and applies to Arbitration Court judges and conciliation commissioners alike. Over the years conditions in various industries have been varied considerably by both- Federal and
State arbitration courts. In some instances the Commonwealth Arbitration Court has made different types of deci610ns on similar subjects. I shall ‘ certainly not question any decisions that the arbitrator makes.
Ran on Dutch Vessels.
– By way of preface to my question to the Attorney-General 1 point out that I understand that waterside workers in Fremantle are prepared to handle goods imported from Indonesia, but because the head of their organization has placed a ban on the export of Australian goods to Indonesia, we cannot export to Indonesia from that State. Will the right honorable gentleman inform the House whether it is a fact that a waterside workers’ organization has imposed a ban on the export of Australian goods to Indonesia? Is it also a fact that a body known as the Dutch Ex-servicemen’s Club has asked the Waterside Workers Federation to continue the ban on Dutch shipping in Australia because, allegedly, the Dutch Government has refused to pay back-money and pensions, and that the Communist leaders of the federation have stated that they will not lift the ban until requested to do so by the Indonesian Government? What action, if any, does the Australian Government intend to take in this matter ?
– It is extraordinary that a club such as the Dutch Ex-servicemen’s Club should have been formed at this time and that it should be active in support of Communist claims in respect of Indonesia. If there are steps that can be taken by the Australian Government politically to enable claims that have been made on the Dutch Government to be paid, that political action will be taken in the ordinary course of events. We shall not be influenced by pressure tactics or by the propaganda of a body such as the Dutch Ex-servicemen’s Club, which makes one think that there is probably something sinister behind that organization. The Prime Minister has dealt with the broader issues that have been raised in the honorable member’s question.
– What about the export of goods to Indonesia from Western Australia?
– I am not aware of the position in Western Australia, but I shall consult the Minister for Shipping and Fuel in order to ascertain it. The Australian Government has never recognized the ban to which the honorable gentleman has referred as a governmental ban. If goods are here to be handled, so far as the forces of government are concerned they will be handled.
– According to press reports, Mr. A. W. Coles, chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission, the head of Trans- Australia Airlines, and another executive of the organization, Mr. Watkins, have gone to England. On the previous occasion when those two gentlemen went abroad Australia was committed to an expenditure of over 2,000,000 dollars in respect of American aircraft and spare parts. I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation on what mission these gentlemen have gone abroad on this occasion? Will he ensure that they are restrained from spending dollars to any great degree on behalf of Trans-Australia Airlines or Qantas Empire Airways Limited? If aircraft are required for the government airlines, will they be chosen from the many suitable types of British aircraft that are now available?
- Mr. Coles, the managing director of Trans-Australia Airlines, has gone overseas, accompanied by his engineer, Mr. Watkins. The press has indulged in a good deal of misrepresentation concerning this visit. The purpose of the visit is to enable them to examine the most suitable aircraft that are available for use in Australia. If it is possible to purchase the aircraft that we require from British sources, there is no doubt that that will be done. The figure that has been mentioned by the honorable member is, I think, somewhat exaggerated, and belated. It has been mentioned in such a way as to make it appear that Mr. Coles and Mr. Watkins have gone overseas to spend dollars at a time when the expenditure of dollars is being restricted. I have frequently stated in the House that if British aircraft that will do the jobs that we require of them are available, we shall be prepared to give favorable consideration to obtaining the aircraft that we require from British sources. I hope that Mr. Coles and Mr. Watkins will bring back with them information that will enable us to re-equip Trans-Australia Airlines with the best British aircraft that are available and enable us to keep that organization where it ought to be, and where it in fact is, that is, in the forefront of world aviation.
– I refer to a reply which the Prime Minister gave to a question in this House on the 23rd November last year in which he stated that the Government did not intend to alter the value of the Australian £1 in relation to sterling while sterling retained its present relationship with other world currencies. Will the right honorable gentleman now say, whether, in the event of sterling being devalued in relation to the dollar, the Government will appreciate the value of the Australian £1 in terms of sterling? If so, does the Government intend to reimburse the primary producers of Australia, whose products are being sold under long-term agreements to the United Kingdom Government in sterling, who will lose heavily in the event of such a depreciation?
– It is true that I made such a statement last. November and that I have also made similar statements on a number of other occasions, which have indicated that the Australian Government held the view that there should be no change in the relationship of the Australian £1 sterling to the dollar as long as the British £1 sterling remained in its present relationship to the dollar. In other words, while the relationship of the British £1 sterling to the dollar remains as it is we propose to allow the relationship of the Australian £1 sterling to the British £1 sterling to remain unchanged. I am sure that the honorable gentleman does not expect me to indicate to the world what -we would be likely to do if the British £1 sterling were devalued. I should not bc worthy to hold my position as Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia if I broadcast that information freely.
The British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Stafford Cripps, has made it clear that the British Government holds the view that the British £1 sterling should not be devalued. There is a great deal of difference of opinion on that matter among economists in America and Europe, but that is the British Chancellor’s view. The next point is that if the British Government did decide to devalue British sterling it would not bc likely to tell me or anybody else to what extent it proposed to do so. Those are matters that are not even told to a Cabinet but are determined by the Treasurer or Chancellor of the; Exchequer and, I have always assumed1,, by the Prime Minister. I could not sayto what extent devaluation would occurif the British £1 sterling was devalued,, but if it is’1 devalued the Australian Government will study the matter;
– What about the primary producers?
– I shall not go into the matter any further. I do not propose to deal with a hypothetical question.
Reproduction of Letter in Comic Strip.
– In asking the Minister for Information a question I desire to refer to an advertisement which appeared in to-day’s issue of the Sydney Daily Telegraph-
-Order! The honorable member is not entitled to read questions from a newspaper.
– I do not propose to read the question. I merely desire to refer to an advertisement, or at least to matter published as an advertisement which .appears on the back page of the newspaper and purports to be a reproduction of a letter signed by Mr. E. G. Bonney, who is Director of Information in New York. It is contained in a comic strip and extends an invitation to a gentleman called Mr. Joe Palooka to visit Australia. I should like to know whether the Minister is aware that this comic strip, published in Sydney to-day, and also published widely in newspapers in the United States- of America, incorporates what purports to bo a letter of invitation sent by Mr. E. G.
Bonney, who, I believe, is still Director of Information in New York, to a comic strip character. I also desire to know whether the letter reproduced is fictitious and, if so, whether the Minister will take action to prevent the Department of Information or its officers from being used in this capacity for comic strips published in either Australia or the United States of America. If the letter is not a forgery will the Minister for Information inform the House whether it is the policy of this department to advertise in comic strips? If Mr. Bonney did, in fact, write the letter reproduced, did he seek official approval from the Government for the invitation to Mr. Palooka and his girl friend to visit Australia? If the invitation is accepted does the Minister intend to sponsor a further comic strip on the arrival of the honeymoon couple in Australia depicting him extending to them a “ real “ Australian welcome as Mr. Bonney promised in the letter reproduced in the comic strip? Will the Minister inform the House whether he will arrange to have a movie picture taken for another comic strip in which he will have himself portrayed in the act of kissing Mrs. Palooka?
– The only thing that the honorable member for Barker has not told me is the name of Joe Palooka’s girl friend, I have not seen the publication referred1 to, and I am not interested in it. I am not interested in anything that appears in the Daily Telegraph. I am not interested very much in anything that appears in any newspaper. I am conscious of the fact that this Government is in power because of the opposition of almost every newspaper in Australia. I do not “ square off “ to the press at any time. I have no knowledge of the alleged letter from Mr. Bonney. I do not think that I shall even make inquiries about, it. If a honeymoon scene is to be screened, it will be from the honeymoon of the marriage between the Liberal party and the Australian Country party.
– I understand that officers representing the Materials Handling Bureau of the Division of
Industrial Development have recently made a number of inspections of wool sheds throughout sheep-raising districts, and have examined methods being used for the handling of wool. Can the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction state what work these officers have been engaged upon, and what has been the outcome of their investigations?
– There is a Materials Handling Bureau within the Division of Industrial Development of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction. The bureau has been doing excellent work in collecting information about materials handling problems generally, and has assisted secondary industries in the development of techniques in that regard. Heavy costs are involved in the transport of raw materials and finished products associated with secondary and primary industries. Techniques for the handling of materials were developed during the war, and the Division of Industrial Development is doing an excellent job in making available to secondary industry the result of its investigations. The Australian Wool Board has investigated handling costs of wool. The honorable member for Wannon, and other honorable members who represent pastoral districts, will know that heavy costs are involved’ in the handling of wool from the time it leaves the shearing shed until it is placed on board ship at ports. It is believed that considerable savings can be effected in the handling of wool, and it is in this connexion that the investigations are being made. I believe that as a result of the investigations, the cost of handling wool will be reduced’ considerably. I also expect that assistance will be given in the development of another Australian industry which has come into existence since the war. In South Australia, the firm of J. A. Lawton and Sons Limited is engaged in the manufacture of fork-lift trucks. The honorable member for Boothby has taken an interest in the firm. If the materials handling industry develops as we expect it to do, it will be to the benefit of industries engaged in the production of equipment such as fork-lift trucks, and additional employment will be provided. The investigations are not yet complete, but when they are I shall supply to the honorable member a full report on’ .the matter.
– Has the Minister for Defence seen a report in the current issue of Smith’s Weekly -that the type of identity card issued to workers employed on the top-secret guided weapons testing range in South Australia could easily be faked, and that as a security measure it was a farce? In view of the importance of safeguarding secrets associated with the range, and having regard to disclosures that outsiders have had no difficulty in gaining access to the range for gambling activities, will the Minister immediately investigate the identity passes with a view to remedying the present position ?
– I have not seen the press report to which the honorable member has referred. The administration of the guided weapons testing range is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Supply and Development, but I assure the honorable member that every precaution is taken to ensure that no unauthorized person obtains access to the range. Security arrangements are highly satisfactory. They have been praised, not only by members of our own security service, but also by visiting officers from the United Kingdom. Indeed, on the occasion when the ex-Ambassador for the United States of America visited the range, he said that he was convinced that security arrangements were eminently satisfactory. The honorable member for Bendigo need have no fear on the score of security.
– My question to the Minister for Works and Housing arises out of a letter which I have received from the Town Clerk of Parramatta, which is in my electorate. The letter states that it has recently come to the council’s notice that the Department of Works and Housing has erected a number of timber-framed huts on land at the corner of Kissing Point and Bettington roads, Dundas, for the purpose, it is understood, of housing a large number of new Australians. Oan the Minister say whether the information in the letter is correct, and whether the Department of Works and Housing is erecting the buildings mentioned ? If so, on what authority have the buildings been erected? Why was not the council consulted by the Department of Works and Housing? Will the Minister see that the council is now consulted on the matter, and will he have inquiries made with a view to putting a stop to high-handed actions of this kind if they have occurred ?
– It is true that my department is constructing buildings in many parts of Australia for housing new Australians. Without consulting the file on the matter I could not say whether any such buildings have been erected in the area mentioned by the honorable member. However, if he will let me have a copy of the letter to which he has referred, I shall have the position examined and furnish him with a reply later.
– I address to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture a. question concerning a report in to-day’s press to the effect that the Government hopes to conclude a long-term meat agreement with the United Kingdom Government by the 1st October, and that although recommendations made by the Australian Meat Board have been considered, only members of the Cabinet and high officials of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture know the details of the proposed contract, which will not be disclosed until the agreement is signed. Does that mean that the meat industry will not be given an effective voice in the final determination of the details of that agreement which the industry itself will be required to carry out? Will the price to be prescribed in the new agreement be in terms of Australian currency, or, alternatively, will the industry be protected from loss due to any appreciation of the Australian £1 or any depreciation of sterling?
– In answering a question yesterday I indicated that the Australian Government was not prepared to make available to the meat industry itself the terms of our requests to theUnited KingdomGovernment. In 1938, when a similar agreement was negotiatedby a government formed of theparties now in opposition members of the Australian Meat Board, for a period of, approximately, a fortnight, had prior knowledge of the terms of that contract and thus were placed in a preferential position compared with the primary producers who held the stock which was the subject of the contract. Having regard to that fact, the present Government is determined that whilst it will give complete consideration to the recommendations of the industry itself, no publicity will be given to the details of the agreement until the agreement has been concluded.
– Who are the owners of the stock?
– Apparently, the honorable member for New England is endeavouring to obtain for some owners of the stock and dealers in the stock in Australia prior knowledge of the terms of the contract now being negotiated between the Australian Government and the United Kingdom Government by quite innocently placing in a preferential position members of the Australian Meat Board compared with the primary producers themselves. The Australian Government has given due consideration to the recommendations of the Australian Meat Board and it has conveyed its decisions to the United Kingdom Government. When the contract has been negotiated every producer in Australia, including members of the Australian Meat Board, which consists of representatives of the primary producers and meat-exporting and meat-buying interests, will he in exactly the same position. The Government will thus prevent a repetition of the circumstances which existed in 1938 when, under an arrangement, for which the United Australia party and the Australian Country party were responsible, members of the Australian Meat Board at that time had prior knowledge for a period of a fortnight, or three weeks, of the agreement which had been entered into between the United Kingdom Government and the Australian Government and were placed in a position to buy,or sell, with profit to themselves.
Debate resumed from the 24th February (vide page 661; volume 201), on motion by Mr. Harrison -
That this Househas no further confidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker on the grounds -
That in the discharge of his duties he has revealed serious partiality in favour of Government members;
) That he regards himself merely as the instrument of the Labour party and not as the custodian of the rights and privileges of elected members of this Parliament;
That he constantly fails to interpret correctly the Standing Orders of the House; and
Of gross incompetency in his administration of parliamentary procedure.
. - The motion which we are about to consider arises out of certain incidents which took place in this House in November, 1948. At the time I happened to be the Minister in charge of the House and in accordance with the usual procedure it fell to me to move for the suspension of three members of the Opposition from the service of the House. (Subsequently, the ‘honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) moved the motion now before the Chair. The motion reads -
That this House has no further confidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker on the grounds -
At this juncture I desire to focus my attention on paragraph (b) of the motion, which states that Mr. Deputy Speaker -
Regards himself merely as the instrument of the Labour party and not as the custodian of the rights and privileges of elected members of this Parliament;
In the light of history, it is sheer impertinence for the honorable member for Wentworth to raise a matter of this kind. Most honorable members will remember an incident that happened in 1943 when the honorable member and his colleagues the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) and the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), who were suspended by Mr. Deputy Speaker in November, 1948, on the occasion to which the motion now before us relates, were members of this House. On that occasion, in 1943, when the Curtin Government was in office and a certain matter was placed before the House members of the Opposition decided to embarrass the Government. It will be remembered that at that time . the Curtin Government did not have a majority in this House. It was able to carry on only with support which it received from two members of the Opposition, Mr. Coles, who was then member for Henty, and Mr. Wilson, who was then member for Wimmera. It was only with the assistance which the Curtin Government received from those two honorable members that it was able to carry out the magnificent job which it did for this country during World War II. However, when a certain matter came before the House at that time, the Opposition parties resolved that they would withdraw the Speaker from the chair in order to embarrass the government of the day. That was at a time when that Government was engaged in the prosecution of the war during one of the most critical periods in the history of this nation. They withdrew both the Speaker and Chairman of Committees. Yet the honorable member for Wentworth is the gentleman who’ has suggested that Mr. Deputy Speaker, On the occasion which gave rise to this debate, acted with partiality. He himself supported action which was infinitely more disgraceful than anything that had previously occurred or that has since happened in this Parliament. Let me read what the Canberra Times, which is no friend of the Labour party, had to say on that occasion.
– The Canberra Times does not know where it is going.
– The honorable member for Warringah does not know where he is going.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member for Warringah to cease interrupting. All honorable members are entitled to speak to this motion, but they must address the Chair one at a time. I do not want to have to exercise my authority on this occasion.
– Dealing with this incident the Canberra Times had this to say-
The Speakership lies not in the gift of any party or parties. It is an office bestowed by the House. It is not a political job. and the holder of the office fails to distinguish his duties and stains the traditions of the Speakership in measure as he makes it a stalkinghorse for political manoeuvre . . . According to lids own words, Mr. Nairn has tendered his resignation .because a motion of no confidence has been submitted. He does not wait for the House to declare whether or not the Government possesses the confidence of the House, but he declares that his tenure of office of Speaker is to be governed by the wishes of his party. This abject confession of subservience in his office to the decision of a political party and of departure from the impartiality of a Speaker in anticipating (perhaps wrongly) the decision of the House is a blot on the record that has been written by the words and deeds of Speakers of the House of Representatives through four decades of the Commonwealth.
I repeat that it is sheer impertinence for the honorable member for Wentworth to insert in his motion of want of confidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker the paragraph to which I have just referred. A motion of censure of the Speaker of this House is to be deplored as contrary to the traditions of our British parliamentary system. The House should always maintain the authority, dignity and status of the Chair.
– What if the occupant of the chair has no dignity?
– Order !
– Members of the Opposition parties in this House have in recent years adopted the practice of moving motions of censure on Mr. Speaker or Mr. Deputy Speaker whenever the Chair has taken drastic or necessary action to maintain order and authority which displeases them. In the last few years there have been four motions of censure on the Chair in this House. Each of them emanated from the Opposition after the Chair had been forced, to take action to uphold its authority. In each instance the circumstances have been very similar.
-Order! The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) and the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) must cease audible conversation.
– On the 28th September, 1944, the honorable member for Richmond who, it will be noted, is also concerned in the incident which we are now discussing, asked a question which was ruled out of order by Mr. Speaker. Although Mr. Speaker’s decision that a question is not in order cannot be questioned, the honorable member persisted in attempting to ask his question. He was thereupon named and suspended from the service of the House. The then honorable member for Parramatta, Sir Frederick Stewart, sought to argue with the Chair on the same matter, and he actually challenged Mr. Speaker to name him.. He, too, was named and suspended. The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) then attempted to move for the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable him to submit a motion of want of confidence in Mr. Speaker. The second incident occurred on the 12th September, 1945, when the then Chairman of Committees, now the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan), gave a ruling that the honorable member for Richmond - again the same honorable member was involved - could not refer to a debate which had just been concluded. The honorable member for Richmond persisted in defying the Chair and was named. The honorable member for Warringah then attempted to propose a motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders to allow him to submit a motion of want of confidence in the Chair. He did1 not succeed, and on the following day the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) moved the motion after having given appropriate notice. The third’ incident occurred on the 25th July, 1946. After dealing with a point of order which had been raised by a member of the Opposition, Mr. Speaker ruled that a question was in order. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) thereupon attempted to argue with the Chair that the question was not in order and was ordered to resume his seat. He refused1 to do so and was named. The Leader of the Opposi tion at once gave notice of his intention to move a motion of want of confidence in Mr. Speaker.
– When did that take place ?
– As I have said, on the 25th July, 1946. We now come to the final incident which gave rise to the motion with which we are now dealing. The honorable member for Warringah, the honorable member for Richmond and the present honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) were named by Mr. Deputy Speaker for refusing to resume their seats while he was on his feet attempting to maintain order.
– That is not true.
– I am sorry that I have not time to place on record the whole of the circumstances relating to that incident; but I am sure that those who 6 re listening to this debate will agree that the three honorable members concerned richly deserved the disciplinary action taken by Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall quote one or two extracts to show the unruly conduct in which those honorable members had1 engaged. When this incident took place the Audit Bill was under discussion and Mr. Deputy Speaker had ruled that the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) was not in order in continuing along certain lines. The honorable member for Richmond then rose to a point of order. The Hansard report of the incident is recorded on page 3124 of the 17th November, 1948, and reads as follows: -
– I rise to order.
– Does the point of order refer to the matter on which I have ruled?
– It touches-
– Order ! Does it relate to that matter?
– It touches upon the question that is now before the House. I presume that I have some rights in regard to stating a point of order in this chamber.
– The honorable gentleman need not become excited. The Chair has given a ruling with regard to a certain matter, and no honorable member is entitled to take a point of order on that ruling. If honorable members disagree with it, they know what to do. I have given my ruling and I shall not accept any further points of order with regard to it.
Eventually the honorable member for Richmond was named. Before he was named, he made a statement that was in complete defiance of the authority of the Chair. He said -
You may name me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I shall still stand up for my rights in this Parliament.
– Why not ?
– A very manly thing to say.
– I am suggesting that, in using the words, “ You may name me, Mr. Deputy Speaker”, the honorable member was in fact defying the Chair.
– If it was not a defiance of the Chair I do not know what would be. As a result of that action the honorable member was named. Following upon that incident, the honorable member for Warringah, who is interjecting, also became very unruly.
– The Minister did not read the rest of that passage.
– No. I have said that I have not sufficient time to read all of the extracts, which would make it quite clear to the House and the country in general that the three honorable members deserved the punishment that was meted out to them. As I have said, the honorable member for Warringah became very unruly and he, in turn, was named and suspended.
Mr.Spender. - What did I do?
– Order ! The Minister is entitled to make his speech without interruption. I ask the honorable member for Warringah to observe the Standing Orders.
– The honorable member indulged in unruly and undignified conduct, and for that he was suspended.
– What did I do?
– The honorable member can read the record in Hansard for himself, and if he does not realize then that he was unruly I shall be very surprised. After the honorable member had been named and suspended, another honorable member was similarly dealt with. That is the most recent incident upon which this motion expressing lack of confidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker is based.
The honorable member for Richmond, the honorable member for Warringah and the honorable member for Parramatta were named by the Deputy Speaker for refusing to resume their seats while he was on his feet attempting to maintain order. For thus upholding the authority of the Chair, the Deputy Speaker was made the subject of a motion of want of confidence by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The Chair should be supported rather than condemned for the action that was taken. Each of the four incidents that I have mentioned followed the same pattern. In three of the four, the honorable member for Richmond was involved and I think in two of them the honorable member for Warringah was also involved. The honorable member for Richmond and several other honorable members opposite should make a special study of Standing Order 278. In the final analysis in each of the cases to which I have referred, the trouble has arisen from disregard of that standing order, which states -
Whenever the Speaker rises during a debate, any member then speaking, or offering to speak, shall sit down, and the House shall be silent, so that the Speaker may be heard without interruption.
The principle embodied in that standing order is dealt with in May’s Parliamentary Practice, in the following terms : -
When the Speaker rises to preserve order or to give a ruling on a doubtful point he must always be heard in silence, and no member may stand when the Speaker is on his feet.
Instead of observing this fundamental principle of orderly conduct, all of the offending honorable members remained standing and attempted to speak in defiance of the Chair. Such defiance of the Chair deserves no support from any member of this House. I suggest that if the Chair has erred in the past it has been on the side of leniency. If I had the temerity to make any criticism of Mr. Speaker, Mr. Deputy Speaker or any other honorable member who has occupied the chair in this House in recent times it would be that he has not been strict enough.
While the occupant of the Chair is on his feet, any honorable member interrupting should, in my opinion, be named without any argument or warning whatever. After all, Mr. Speaker or his deputy is the umpire and he should not be placed in the position of having to argue with the players when he gives a decision. Motions which attempt to censure Mr. Speaker or any of his deputies for upholding the authority of the Chair have been launched by the Opposition without thought and as carelessly as a stone is thrown by a small boy. Let us compare the record in this House with the record in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. As I have said, four motions directed against the Chair have been moved in this House within less than five years. In the British House of Commons, the last motion of censure against Mr. Speaker was moved in 1902 by an Irish Nationalist member who had been named and suspended for an offensive interruption directed against Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, then Colonial Secretary. The previous instance occurred in 1822, and the one before that occurred in 1777.
– We can beat that.
– Yes, the present Opposition in this House can beat the House of Commons for disorderly conduct. That is perfectly true, and the honorable member for Balaclava is one of the worst offenders. That is not a record of which he should be very proud.
– I ask the Minister to withdraw the statement that I am one of the most disorderly members in the House. It is offensive, and I ask the honorable gentleman to apologize.
– I think that the Chair will have to agree with the Minister. I have repeatedly called the honorable member to order in the last half hour, but he has continued to interrupt.
– The records show that there have been three attempts to censure the Chair in the United Kingdom House of Commons in the last 170 years, and that there have been four such attempts by the Opposition in this House within a little over four years. The British tradition in this matter is expressed in Redlich’s Parliamentary Procedure as follows : -
It need hardly be said that a motion to censure the Speaker is abnormal and happens rarely, and that such a motion would only be acceded to by thu House if the circumstances fully justified it. To an Englishman it would appear seriously to undermine the exalted position and dignity of the Speaker, if, in addition to his application of the rules being open to challenge upon special and important occasions, it was competent for every member to call in question the Speaker’s authority whenever he choose, and if he was liable at all times to defend the correctness of his decisions. It is true that the House is the Supreme Court of Appeal, to which the Speaker like all others, is subordinate, but the authority of the Chair is equally firmly established as against the individual members. Until the judgment of the House is appealed to in the prescribed form the authority of the Speaker must override the doubts of a single member and he final. According to English ways of looking at things the parliamentary umpire would be as much lowered by a dispute with a number about his ruling as a judge would bc in a court of law, if, after giving his decision, he allowed himself to be drawn into an argument with the parties whose case he had disposed of, or with the public about the correctness of his judgment or the grounds upon which it was based.
It is not Mr. Deputy Speaker who is deserving of censure. If any censure is due it should be directed against the coterie of members on the Opposition side, who consistently challenge the rulings from the Chair with great displays of indignation, and then, when the authority of the Chair has been upheld’ by the House, attempt to censure Mr. Speaker in an attempt to excuse their own conduct. With them the umpire is always wrong and they accuse him of bias against them. I think the House should express its disapproval of these tactics. Accordingly, I move -
That all words after “That” be left out. with a view to insert in Heu thereof the following words: - “this House declares its determination to uphold the dignity and authority of the Chair, and deplores the fact that the Deputy Speaker while carrying out his duties with ability and impartiality, has not at all times received the support from all members which he is entitled to expect in maintaining that dignity and authority.”
If the amendment is carried, the motion will read -
That this House declares its determination to uphold the dignity and authority of the Chair, and deplores the fact that the Deputy Speaker while carrying out his duties with ability and impartiality, has not at all times received the support from all members which he is entitled to expect in maintaining that dignity and authority.
– I second the amendment.
.- As the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has said, this is a matter which has arisen out of events that occurred on the 17th November, 1948. I remind the House that on that occasion the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) was prevented by Mr. Deputy Speaker from answering some remarks that had been made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) in speaking on the Audit Bill. The right honorable gentleman bad been speaking about TransAustralia Airlines and other governmental institutions, and, at the conclusion of his speech, the honorable member for Balaclava rose specifically to answer some of his assertions about Trans- Australia Airlines. He was fantastically and wrongly prevented by Mr. Deputy Speaker from continuing his remarks in answer to those of the Prime Minister. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) then rose and tried to take a point of order. He was refused his right to take his point of order. He then tried to raise a matter of privilege and was named. I have not gone in detail into the circumstances of the naming of the honorable member for Richmond, because the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) outlined them when he spoke on the last occasion on which this motion was before the House. But I say that Mr. Deputy Speaker, in the rulings that he gave on that occasion, was obviously and grossly at fault and that the honorable member for Richmond1 was within his rights in the course he took. Nevertheless, he was named and removed from the House upon the vote of the Labour party. The next step in this drama was that the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) tried to submit a motion of urgency. He was refused that right, although he was acting under a specific paragraph in the Standing Orders. When he sought again to assert his rights, he, too, was named and suspended. Shortly afterwards, though not immediately, because intervening business took place, I suffered the fate of my unfortunate predecessors - predecessors in being named and removed.
– Yes. It is worth while directing the attention of the House to the circumstances of my own misfortune, if I may put it that way. I mention them because they have not been mentioned so far in this debate. The House had passed on to certain other business. That is not unimportant. It was not the business in respect of which the previous ejections had taken place. I refer honorable members to page 3129 of Hansard for the 17th November, 1948. When the House had passed on to other business, I said -
I rise to order.
Mr. Deputy Speaker said ;
What is the point of order?
Up to that stage, both Mr. Deputy Speaker and I were, of course, acting in accordance with Standing Order 283, which states -
Any Member may rise to speak “ to order” . . . and with Standing Order 286, which states -
Upon a Question of Order being raised the Member willed to order shall resume his seat, and after the Question of Order has been stated to the Speaker by the Member rising to the Question of Order, the Speaker shall give his ruling . . .
When Mr. Deputy Speaker asked me to state my point of order, I said -
I desire to take a point of order under Stand ing Orders 283 and 286. It relates to the incident in the House a little while ago.
This interesting passage then occurred -
– No point of order is involved.
At that stage he had not heard my point of order. He had merely heard my preliminary remarks and was not in a position, judicially or in any other way, to judge my point of order. That was a gross misreading of the Standing Orders. Whether it was done in ignorance or malice I do not know, nor do I care in which way it was done. In any event, Mr. Deputy Speaker was entirely wrong under the Standing Orders. I then said -
I have not yet stated my point of order, and I submit that I have the right to do so. Under the rules of the House, an honorable member is untitled to state a point of order at any time,whether it has relation to the business that is before the House or to that which has already been before the House.
I paraphrased Standing Orders 283 and 286. Mr. Deputy Speaker went on -
Order! I, too, have a knowledge of the Standing Orders-
One might have been pardoned for claimingto doubt it at that stage. Anyway, he said -
I, too, have a knowledge of the Standing Orders, and 1 do not desire to hear any further references to the incident to which the honorable member has referred. On that occasion, a matter of order was not involved.
A good many matters of disorder had been involved and, that being so, matters of order must also have been involved. Anyway, Mr. Deputy Speaker went on -
The honorable member concerned was asked to resume his seat, but he defied the Chair. For that reason and no other, I named him, and he was suspended from the service of the House.
Even that reveals that Mr. Deputy Speaker had not a grasp of the matter and was not aware of what my point of order was. How he could say whether I was referring to the honorable member for Richmond or to the honorable member for Warringah I do not know. He mentioned only one honorable member and did not even mention him by name. As a matter of fact I was referring to the honorable member for Balaclava. However, I persisted and said -
You have not yet heard my point of order.
That was not an unreasonable observation, in view of what I have narrated. At that stage, although there had been considerable interruption from Mr. Deputy Speaker, I had tried to put my argument without avail. I remind the House that to take a point of order does not consist in merely jumping up and saying that one takes a point of order. It consists in being permitted to put one’s argument, in substantiation of one’s point of order. I was never allowed to do it. Then, persisting in his attitude of partiality, which is embalmed in the motion, Mr. Deputy Speaker said -
The honorable member will hear my order shortly if he does not desist.
I then said - 1 desire to take a point of order under Standing Orders 283 and 286.
Mr. Deputy Speaker then said ;
I do not desire to name the honorable member.
I should think that that was at least an understatement. Be that as it may, he continued -
I ask him to conduct himself in a proper parliamentary manner.
My comment on that statement is that I spoke politely and was not rude or insulting to anybody. I referred to the Standing Orders, and I attempted to elaborate an argument, but I was not permitted to do so. Mr. Deputy Speaker then accused me of attempting to take advantage of the forms of the House, and I replied as follows : -
I am not obstructing the proceedings of the House.
Mr. Deputy Speaker then said ;
Order! I do not wish to name the honorable member, and I warn him to desist.
I said -
I still insist on stating my point of order.
At that dramatic moment I, too, suffered the fate of my colleagues. I suggest that I was in good company.
Although this motion may be said to be connected with the events of the 17th November, 1948, it only culminated in them. Obviously, it was not only as the result of those events that members of the Opposition were driven, as a sort of last protest, to compose this extremely drastic motion. As we have been privileged to hear the Minister for Defence read the motion, I, too, propose to read its terms, because I suppose that a more drastic motion concerning a presiding officer has never been placed on the notice-paper of this House. On the 24th February last, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) moved -
That this House has no further confidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker on the grounds -
That in the discharge of his duties he has revealed serious partiality in favour of Government members;
That he regards himself merely as the instrument of the Labour party and not as the custodian of the Tights and privileges of elected members of this Parliament ;
That he constantly fails to interpret correctly the Standing Orders of the House; and
Of gross incompetency in his adminis tration of parliamentary procedure.
Although that motion was placed on the notice-paper in November, 1948, the honorable member for Wentworth was not given an opportunity to move it until the 24th February last. That motion was the culmination of a series of incidents connected with the manner in which
Mr. Deputy Speaker has presided over the proceedings of this House during the last couple of years. The absence of Mr. Speaker abroad and his illness and other circumstances have meant that, for a considerable time, Mr. Deputy Speaker has occupied the chair.. We on this side of the House have suffered so’ many outrages of what we regard as the proprieties of parliamentary conduct and the misapplication of the Standing Orders, that, at last, after that the particular incidents on the 24th November, 1948, of -which nobody is particularly proud because they did not assist the dignity of or enhance the public respect for the Parliament, we were driven to submit this motion.
I have been a member of the Parliament for three years, and during that time, I have witnessed what I must describe as shameless partiality on the part of the gentleman who is attacked in this motion. I have witnessed his failure to control Labour members when they have been interjecting, and that failure has not been matched by a.n equal refusal to control honorable members on this side of the chamber. I do not say that interjections and disorderly interruptions do not emanate from both sides of the House, but it is undoubtedly true to say, as will be abundantly borne out by the listening public who have commented to us, far and wide, on the matter, that again and again Mr. Deputy Speaker has permitted things to be said and disorderly interruptions to be made by honorable members on the Government side .without disciplining or restraining them. Had such conduct been attempted by members of the Opposition, Mr. Deputy Speaker would have dealt with them very drastically. Members of the Opposition, including myself, have been called abusive names by Government supporters, and the Deputy Speaker has not intervened. On one occasion, an honorable member opposite twice called me a liar, but the occupant of the Chair did not reprove him. I have heard phrases like “Shut up, you mug” from the Government side, and Mr. Deputy Speaker has not intervened. I myself have seen Mr. Deputy Speaker winking at Government members. That charge was made against him by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) and the honorable member for Wentworth. I give my word that I have also seen that happening. When, as a new member, I was unaccustomed to the procedure of the House, I had to suffer the spectacle of Mr. Deputy Speaker mimicking my gestures as I was speaking, and winking at his colleagues. He might have thought that that kind of behaviour was very clever, but I say that such conduct in a presiding officer was most improper. Members of the Opposition have suffered such things until finally, in desperation, the honorable member for Wentworth submitted this motion, which gives us an opportunity to speak our piece. We may not have another opportunity for a while to do so. However, as the motion has been placed on the notice-paper, it becomes one’s duty to criticize, for the good of the Parliament now and in the future, that kind of conduct, in an endeavour to ensure that it shall not be repeated.
Members of the Opposition, including myself, have also suffered discrimination in obtaining the call from the Chair. Last night, the House debated the report of the New Guinea Timber Rights Royal Commission, and honorable members were allowed, under the ‘Standing Orders, a period of 35 minutes. Yet, after I had spoken for 30 minutes, the occupant of the Chair told me that my time had expired. That fact has been checked by every honorable member on this side of the House, and may be further verified by reference to Hansard, which shows that I commenced my speech at 8 o’clock and concluded it at 8.30 o’clock.
– That would be an error.
– I do not believe that it was an error. The occupant of the Chair intervened as I was rounding off my speech. Indeed, I was making my final remark. I do not believe that it was an error. That kind of incident has happened more than once. Mr. Deputy Speaker has no right to make errors of that sort. He has means whereby he may check how long an honorable member has been speaking. This afternoon, at question time, I rose constantly in an endeavour to receive the call, but I was not successful until 45 or 50 minutes had elapsed. Yesterday I received the call after 40 minutes. It is said that one day, an honorable member will receive the call in the first 3d minutes of questions, which ;ire re-broadcast, but that if he does, he may not obtain the call during that period on the following day. That does noi apply in this case because I received no call at all on the last day on which the House was sitting. The view that is taken by honorable members on this side of the House is that certain of us are subject to discrimination by Mr. Deputy Sneaker, and I claim that I am one of them. I do not care. I shall get by. Every dog has his day. But it is necessary to point out that these things are taking place. All the statements that I have made are germane to the charge that Mr. Deputy Speaker exercises partiality. I must confess that, coming into this House from the courts of law, I received a shock to discover that the presiding officer was not a judicial officer in the sense that he was concerned with holding the scales evenly and giving equal treatment to honorable members on both sides of the House. The occupant of the chair, I found, was more concerned, as this motion states, with showing partiality and protecting the interests of the party that had appointed him to that office.
– A scandalous attack.
– The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) says sardonically that it is a scandalous state of affairs.
– No. I said a scandalous attack.
– I am saying that it is a scandalous state of affairs. After all, there must be some principles that apply to this matter. The first should be courtesy, and I do not regard Mr. Deputy Speaker’s sarcastic and sardonic references to members of the Opposition as an example of courtesy. We would not mind that behaviour, because most of us have enough native wit to cope with it, if we were permitted to reply, but directly we attempt to do so, Mr. Deputy Speaker rules that we are out of order and we suffer the penalty. The second principle that ought to apply irrespective of whether we are referring to the Speaker in the House of Commons or a speaker appointed by a political party under .the Australian system, is that there must be impartiality, because unless honorable members have confidence in the impartial ruling of the Chair the parliamentary system must ultimately break down. It is because of the absence of impartiality and the lack of confidence that members on this side of the House have in the ruling of Mr. Deputy Speaker that these scenes of disorder occur from time to time. As everybody knows, in the courts of law, it is the impartial and detached judge who has no trouble in his court. The judges who have trouble - and some do - are those who are not impartial. Judges who are quiet, firm and impartial have no trouble even from up and coming and brash young counsel. So it should be in the Parliament. If the Chair is impartial there will be no trouble. Troubles here are due, primarily, to the fact that impartiality is not shown and Mr. Deputy Speaker is himself to blame. If the parliamentary system is to continue to be representative, and to command the respect of the people outside, as we should want it to do, above all other things it must be presided over by a competent and impartial officer. These days we are “on the , A 1 “ ; a few years ago we were not. It may be that the troubles that occurred from time to time in those days were not of the same importance as they are now. But now that the public listens to broadcasts of the parliamentary debates perhaps in greater numbers than any of us think-
– Not at this moment.
– They are listening in great numbers when these uproars occur. As hundreds of thousands of people in Australia listen intermittently to the broadcasts of parliamentary debates, it is of paramount importance that the debates should be conducted with dignity and decorum. The only way that I know of ensuring that, is to see that the Speaker or Deputy Speaker presiding over the House exercises strict impartiality. If he does not do so we shall fall into contempt. Already, rightly or wrongly, the public thinks little enough of us. If, as an institution, we should fall under the contempt of the general public, that is the first and a very serious step in the disintegration of the whole parliamentary system. In my view this motion, grave as are its terms, is amply justified by what has taken place over the last year or two, and took place on the night mentioned. I support the motion.
– I rise to order. Under the rules of debate it is the custom not to accept a direct negative to a motion as an amendment. The motion before the House is -
That this House has no further confidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker on the grounds -
that in the discharge of his duties he has revealed serious partiality in favour of Government members;
The amendment that has been moved by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), however, contains the phrase - while carrying out his duties with . . . impartiality.
That phrase implies a direct negative. The remainder of the motion reads -
The amendment moved by the Minister contains the phrase - while carrying out his duties with ability, whereas the original motion claims that Mr. Deputy Speaker is incompetent. In order that honorable members may contrast the motion with the amendment moved by the Minister, I shall cite the full text of the amendment. It reads -
That all words after “That” be left out, with a view to insert the following words in lieu thereof : - “ this House declares its determination to uphold the dignity and authority of theChair, and deplores the fact that the Deputy Speaker while carrying out his duties with” ability and impartiality, has not at all times received the support from all members which he is entitled to expect in maintaining dignity and authority.”
I submit that under the rules of debate, even in a progress association, a direct negative is never accepted as an amendment to a motion. In this Parliament those rules should obtain equally with the lowest debating institution in the land.
– The Chair rules that the amendment is not a direct negative. An amendment in this form under the Standing Orders has been moved many times in this House. The Chair rules that the amendment is strictly in order.
.- The want of confidence motion before the House arises out of some unfortunate scenes in this Parliament during a stormy debate on the Audit Bill in November, 1948. During that debate we witnessed probably some of the most unseemly conduct by members of the Opposition that has ever taken place in this Parliament. Subsequently, however, in order to preserve the dignity of the Parliament Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Clark) was called upon to take drastic action in the case of the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale), who made a humble apology a few moments ago for his activities on that occasion, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender). Those honorable members have acted like naughty schoolboys, who, after being caned by their teacher, have gone home and complained to their mothers. We are debating a motion arising out of their bias and bad temper because the Chair took well-warranted action against them on that occasion. The most amazing thing about the motion is that it was moved by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), and seconded by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), two representatives of the Opposition, who, in recent years, have possibly been in and out of this chamber at the request of Mr. Speaker more times than has any other honorable member. They are constantly in conflict with the Standing Orders and with Mr. Speaker, and, from time to time, they use every effort, in common with other members of the Opposition, to side-step rulings of the Chair. When seconding this motion the honorable member for Indi deliberately asserted that he stood by a statement that he had seen Mr. Deputy Speaker in this chamber give a leering wink to honorable members on the Government side of the House. That that did not attract the most drastic action from Mr. Deputy Speaker is a tribute to his tolerance and understanding. Other members of the Opposition, also, have constantly defied the Chair openly, in an endeavour to become martyrs. The records of the Parliament show that since 1943 no honorable members on the Government side of the House have suffered the indignity of being removed from the chamber. Although honorable members opposite may laugh, that should be a lesson and an indication to them of the manner in which honorable members on the Government side of the House preserve the dignity of the Parliament. Honorable members on this side of the House are prepared to obey the rulings of the Chair. We do not seek to side-step the Standing Orders of the House. We recognize our responsibilities as members of the Parliament and realize that, in order to play our part in national affairs, we must obey the rulings of the Chair In dealing with honorable gentlemen opposite, however, the occupant of the chair has continually to stretch his tolerance to the utmost limit in order to preserve honorable members such as the honorable member for Parramatta, the honorable member for Richmond, the honorable member for Wentworth and the honorable member for Warringah from being ordered from the chamber for deliberate breaches of the Standing Orders or for actions that result in a lowering of the dignity of the Parliament.
I support the amendment. I consider that Mr. Deputy Speaker, whose tolerance and impartiality have been challenged, is one who, although he may make mistakes from time to time, as so many of us do, endeavours to discharge the duties of his high office with honesty and sincerity according to the best of his ability. We cannot all be perfect, like the honorable member for Parramatta. In the course of what I considered to be a scandalous attack upon Mr. Deputy Speaker, the honorable member for Parramatta revealed the bias and animosity that he has against him and complained that he was not called at question time. Every honorable member knows that the questions that are asked by the honorable member for Parramatta are not worth listening to. They are designed for propaganda purposes and are entirely without public importance. In those circumstances, the occupant of the chair is justified in overlooking the honorable gentleman at question time. The honorable member for Parramatta has said that a certain ruling by Mr. Deputy Speaker was given in ignorance and malice. He has insinuated that the occupant of the chair should be a lawyer or some one with the so-called talents that are possessed by the honorable gentleman himself - this man who aspires to become a King’s counsel. I remind the honorable gentleman that a few months ago Mr. Spooner, the federal president of the Liberal party, said that there were too many lawyers in the party. I have an idea that when Mr. Spooner made that statement he had the honorable member for Parramatta in mind. Although Mr. Deputy Speaker is not perfect, he has given his rulings with justice and wisdom. .
In. the debate on the Audit Bill in 1948, three honorable members opposite were ejected from the chamber. I say that their conduct was unseemly and unparliamentary, and that Mr. Deputy Speaker was thoroughly . justified in taking the action, that he took against them. The honorable member for Richmond openly defied the Chair, as did the honorable member for Warringah. I admit that the honorable member for Parramatta went out for practically nothing. He stood up with nothing to say and defied the Chair when he was asked to resume his seat. That was a childish action. The honorable gentleman was trying to become a martyr, and he suffered the consequences of his action. In the last three or four years the honorable member for Richmond has made three exits from the chamber at the express request of the Chair, and every honorable gentleman on this side of the House knows that if the occupant of the chair had not been tolerant that number would have been doubled. The honorable member for Richmond constantly defies the Chair. . The same remark applies, although to a less degree, to the honorable member for Warringah. The honorable member for Parramatta has apparently learned his lesson because he now does not go to the extent of tempting the Chair to ask him to leave the chamber.
The motion alleges, among other things, that Mr. Deputy Speaker regards himself merely as the instrument of the Labour Party and not as the custodian of the rights and privileges of elected members of the Parliament. I have something to say regarding the attitude of honorable members opposite to Speakers who were elected to the chair by antiLabour parties and were defeated in subsequent preselection ballots because they refused to carry out the dictates of members of those parties when they were in power. I propose to reveal the humbug and hypocrisy of the Opposition in regard to this matter. Having regard to the precedents that have been established by the Liberal party in its attitude to the occupation of the Speaker’s chair by members of that party and the obligations of the occupants of the chair to the party, the charge that Mr. Deputy Speaker regards himself as the instrument of the Labour party is an amazing example of convenient shortness of memory on the part of the honorable member for Wentworth. I remind the House that in 1929, when the present Lord Bruce was Prime Minister of Australia, the chair was occupied by Sir Littleton Groom, an outstanding personality in the Parliament. The book, Nation Building in Australia, to which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has contributed a foreword, deals with his life history and background. In the course of that foreword, the Leader of the Opposition paid a great tribute to Sir Littleton. I mention that in passing in order to show that he was a man of standing in the community. In 1929 the Government was threatened on a vital amendment to a bill moved in committee. Mr. Bruce, as he then was, demanded that Mr. Speaker, as a loyal member of his party, should vote against the amendment in committee. In other words, Mr. Bruce wanted to use Sir Littleton Groom as an instrument of Liberal party policy. Mr. Speaker Groom claimed that it was opposed to the traditions of his office to take part in a division, and he resisted the pressure of the Prime Minister. The Government was defeated, and went to the country. Mr. Bruce was very bitter against Sir Littleton. He took steps inside the party organization to ensure that he did not receive the party pre-selection. When Sir Littleton stood as an Independent, Mr. Bruce went to his electorate and denounced him from one end of Darling Downs to the other for disloyalty to the party. So bitter was the party hostility to Sir Littleton Groom that he was defeated in the contest for a seat that he had held for 30 years. He was defeated because he refused to be the instrument of his party when he was occupying the chair.
I now come to more recent times, when the honorable member for Warringah was flitting in and out of the Liberal party. At that time the honorable gentleman was, so to speak, in one day and out the next. In October, 1941, the antiLabour Coalition Government dropped the reins of office at a critical stage of the war. The Labour party took over the government of the country, and has governed it ever since. The Speaker, Mr. Nairn, remained in office for nearly two years while Labour governed. The war was still at a critical stage when the general elections of 1943 approached. The members of the Opposition wanted to regain power in order to go to the polls as a government. Therefore, in July, 1943, they held a party meeting, and at that meeting they ordered Mr. Nairn to resign the speakership immediately as a preliminary to a general attack designed to defeat the Government. Mr. Nairn carried out the orders of his party. On that occasion he was used by the Opposition as an instrument of party politics. Mr. John Prowse, a member of the Australian Country party at that time and also Chairman of Committees, was also instructed to resign. He did so. His case is another striking example of how the Opposition has used occupants of the chair as party instruments to ensure that their political will would be obeyed. Nothing so contemptible as those actions would be tolerated within the Labour party. We know also that in the State Parliament of New South Wales Sir Daniel Levy, who was Speaker for some years and occupied the chair in that Parliament when a Labour government took office-
– I rise to order.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lazzarini). - I was about to instruct the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly) to desist from that line of argument. The honorable gentleman is not entitled to refer to other parliaments in a debate on a motion directly relating to Mr. Deputy Speaker or to Mr. Speaker of this Parliament.
– I very much regret that I may not proceed along that line, as I could have given several striking illustrations of the use as party instruments of Speakers in the State parliamentary sphere. Suffice it to say that the national representatives in this Parliament from Victoria and New South “Wales know of the activities of honorable members opposite in other days in relation to Speakers in the State parliaments who have been used as party instruments. The examples that I have given provide an indication of how honorable members opposite have in the past used the high office of Speaker of (his Parliament for party political purposes when it came to a question of obtaining power in the Parliament by ensuring the election of a non-Labour government, or to provide against governments of their political colour being defeated’. They have adopted such courses even in the most critical years that have faced this country, when they were prepared to instruct Mr. Speaker to ta.ke a party line in order that he might be the instrument of the party and bring about the capitulation or defeat of the government of the day. Honorable members opposite have an unenviable record regarding the political use of Speakers and1 it ill behoves the mover and seconder of this motion and other honorable members opposite who have spoken to it, who were ejected from this Parliament for unruly conduct, to endeavour to pin on to the Labour party the blame for tactics which we of the Labour party at no time tolerate and which have been used only by honorable members opposite when they constituted the Government. I support the amendment, which I consider to be worthy of the commendation of all members of this chamber. I express again my support of the action taken by Mr. Deputy Speaker a few months ago when he named those honorable members. I consider that it is necessary for us to support Mr. Speaker at all times, to uphold his high office, to do all we can to maintain the dignity of this Parliament, to obey the Standing Orders, and at least to endeavour to act in accordance with the rules laid down over the years and which we have adapted from the procedure of the House of Commons. Mr. Deputy Speaker has shown that he will not tolerate certain honorable members opposite endeavouring from time to time to take control of the Parliament cut of his hands. The toleration that he has shown is illustrated by the fact that, despite the most unruly conduct, very few honorable members opposite have received’ the penalty which in some cases their conduct has warranted. I hope that the amendment will be almost unanimously carried and I trust that the action taken by Mr. Deputy Speaker a few months ago in relation to some honorable members opposite will have a cooling and soothing influence, and that they will learn, as honorable members on this side of the House have learned, that it is necessary for us, as representatives in this Parliament of the people, to uphold the dignity of the Parliament and to obey the authority of the Chair.
.- It is regrettable that a motion of this nature should become almost perpetual in this Parliament. It is not the first time that a motion similar to this one has been moved during the term of Mr. Deputy Speaker in the chair. I point out that this motion is aimed at Mr. Deputy Speaker alone. Although he has had an opportunity to preside over this House for only a very short time, yet in that time no less than two motions of want of confidence have been levelled against him, whilst there are other motions of dissent from his rulings on the business paper. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has come to Mr. Deputy Speaker’s aid by moving an amendment to the motion. You, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, have ruled that amendment in order, although I took a point of order that it was a direct negative. However, your ruling having been given, I must accept it. But the point that I want to make in respect of the administration of his duties in this House by Mr. Deputy Speaker is that honorable members on this side of the House in particular very often have, to accept what they consider to be unjust rulings because they know that if they try to insist upon the rights, given to them by the Standing Orders they are likely to find themselves in very quick, time on the outside of the House looking in. I am one who has suffered at the hands of Mr. Deputy Speaker on more than one occasion. I consider that I am entitled to say that I have given, as much study to the Standing Orders as have most honorable members of this House. I have had reason to do so, because X have found that it is necessary for me to know what my rights as a private member are. Therefore, when I have taken a stand on each of the occasions on which I have been suspended from the service of the House, I have taken that stand on grounds that I believe to be in accordance with the rights of every member of this chamber. I have on those occasions taken such a stand, not only for myself, but for the protection of the interests of the members of this Parliament as a whole who represent the public outside, because if an honorable member of this House because of heavy handed dealings from the Chair contrary to the rights of a member under the Standing Orders, is prevented from explaining some point on behalf of his constituents and such treatment is accepted without proper protest and sometimes a challenge to the authority of the Chair, the rights of private members would he virtually whittled down. Mr. Deputy Speaker has been singularly unfortunate in that from time to time he has had levelled at him motions that can do him no credit in respect of his performance of his duties. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly) gave the House a lecture on the Standing Orders. At least twice in the course of bis speech he committed a breach of the Standing Orders.
– Order! The honorable member must withdraw that remark and apologize to the Chair.
– Very well, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, I withdraw the remark and apologize to the Chair as the Chair has instructed. I will say, however, that during the course of his speech the honorable member for Martin made refer ences to the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) in. one of which he referred to the honorable member for Parramatta as “ that man ‘ If you will read the Standing Orders, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, you will find, that that is unparliamentary language. In the second instance he reflected on what he- termed the “ nonsensical “ questions asked by the honorable member for Parramatta. Both of those references were contrary to the Standing Orders, yet I have been forced to withdraw and apologize because I have referred to them. If it is right to make-
– Order! The references are not unparliamentary. The Chair did not notice the. use of the words “ that man “ by the honorable member for Martin. The Chair called the honorable member for Martin to order when he was referring to a question asked by an honorable member.
– I rise to order. If I understand the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) correctly, his complaint was not that the Chair had done anything wrong, but that the honorable member for Martin had himself committed a breach of the Standing Orders. I submit that there was no reflection on the Chair.
– Order! The Chair understands the point that the honorable gentleman is making. When an honorable member accuses another honorable member of a breach of the Standing Orders, regarding which the Chair has not called to order the honorable member against whom the accusation is made, that is a direct reflection on the Chair for allowing the breach to pass.
– I shall not pursue that point any further, other than to say that the honorable member for Martin, who was apparently acting as spokesman for the back-benches of the Australian Labour party, threw his chest out proudly and said, in effect, “Although we have been in office since 1943, and have a great many more members in the House than are in any other party, not one member from this side of the House has been dealt with by the Chair, whereas members of the Opposition party have been going out of the chamber like peas out of a pod “.
He spoke with great gusto. He ascribed it, not to the great good fortune of Government supporters in having Mr. Deputy Speaker as Deputy Speaker, but to their singular good conduct, and their appreciation of the Standing Orders, that they had escaped censure from the Chair. I desire to make no reflection upon you, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, but the honorable member for Martin, who thus praised himself for his observance of the Standing Orders, twice during his speech, in my opinion at any rate, infringed the Standing Orders. Mr. Deputy Speaker has had levelled against him one of the most devastating charges ever directed against any one who has occupied the chair in this chamber. The motion, which has the support of all members of the Opposition, contains these words -
That in the discharge of his duties he has revealed serious partiality in favour of Government members.
That assertion has been confirmed by the honorable member for Martin, who contrasted the ejectment of members of the Opposition with the fact that not one member from the Government side of the House had been dealt with by the Chair.
– We behave ourselves.
– The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) is interjecting, which is contrary to the rules of the House, but I rather enjoy his interjections. The amendment which he had moved is designed, in effect, to put wings on Mr. Deputy Speaker, and expresses the Minister’s appreciation of Mr. Deputy Speaker’s virtues. Yet we know that, from time to time, the Minister has quoted from documents excerpts which were altogether contrary to the spirit of the documents and, when he was challenged to produce them, took refuge, with the support of Mr. Deputy Speaker, in one of the rules of the House, saying, “ This is a confidential document, and I ask for your protection, Mr. Deputy Speaker “. In no instance did he fail to receive that protection. His moving of the amendment is his way to show his appreciation of the working arrangement between Mr. Deputy Speaker and Ministers in this respect.
– Quite untrue, of course.
– The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has so often declared something to be quite untrue that his protests now fall on deaf ears.
– The honorable member objected just, now to the Minister interjecting. It is quite as disorderly to reply to interjections as to make them.
– I was replying, through you, which is quite in order. Everything I am saying is said through, you, and the high office you hold. The honorable member for Martin referred to the way in which previous Speakers, drawn from the present Opposition parties, discharged their duties. He said that Sir Littleton Groom had voted against the government of the day, thereby incurring the displeasure of the party which supported that government. I agree that when it comes to a matter of voting on a vital issue which might determine the fate of a government, a Speaker of the House, if he votes at all, should vote in support of the government drawn from the party to which he belongs. He is elected by his constituents to represent a particular political point of view, and to support a particular political party. Therefore, when it comes to voting on the issue whether a government supported by his party shall stay in office or go out, it is his imperative duty to vote with his party. However, when he takes his place in the Speaker’s Chair, he should become completely impartial. Lord Bryce, one of the most noted authorities on the British constitution, has written of the conduct of the Speaker of the British House of Commons in these terms -
The note of the Speaker of the British House of Parliament is his impartiality. Once invested with the wig and gown of office . . .
I am sorry that Speakers of this House drawn from the Australian Labour party do not wear the wig and gown of office, the wearing of which would assist to maintain the dignity of the House. In every form of society there is general recognition of the fact that it is an advantage to dress for the ‘ occasion. Lord Bryce continued -
Can that be said of the conduct of Mr. Deputy Speaker in this House? As a matter of fact, every move he makes is a party political move designed to save his party from embarrassment by the Opposition. Often, in the course of a debate, he has pulled up speakers on the Opposition side on the ground that they were out of order, and the members have had to conform to his ruling. Very seldom, if ever, has a speaker from the Government side been pulled up on the ground that he was out of order, unless the breach was so flagrant that a member of the Opposition was compelled to rise and call attention to it. Time after time, honorable members on this side of the House have been ruled out of order when, in fact, they have been behaving in accordance with the provisions of the Standing Orders. But because it is a matter of the judgment of the occupant of the chair in deciding what is in order or what is not in order, every honorable member must accept the ruling of the Chair without question. Therefore, members of the Opposition are placed at a serious disadvantage should the occupant of the chair be biased in the discharge of his duties. Commenting upon the necessity for maintaining the dignity, ritual and role of the Chair, Lord Bryce said -
His duties are of great importance and great dignity. It makes little difference to any English Party in Parliament whether the occupant of the Chair has come from their own or from hostile ranks.
It makes a great deal of difference in this House whether the occupant of the chair comes from hostile ranks. Lord Bryce added -
The Speaker can raise or lower the tone and efficiency of the House.
That is perfectly true. “When bedlam breaks out in this chamber and members are suspended as quickly as the SerjeantatArms can open the door for them, such events are due to the exercise of bias on the part of the occupant of the chair at the time. On more than one occasion I have suffered at the hands of the occupant of the chair, and I take this opportunity to raise my voice in protest because this is the only occasion on which we can say what we really think about the manner in which he discharges his duties. It is significant that this opportunity arises only because we have been forced to move a motion of want of confidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker. I readily take advantage of this opportunity because I believe that the people of Australia are entitled to know the facts in respect of the treatment of members of the Opposition parties in this House. The motion states that Mr. Deputy Speaker is merely an instrument for the maintenance of the rule of his own particular party in the Parliament. That statement cannot be controverted. I have no doubt that honorable members opposite will tell us about what happened in 1924 when a member of the Labour party was suspended, or about something that happened in some other year. But we are concerned about what is happening at the present time. Fortunately, through the broadcasting of proceedings in this chamber the people are now able to judge for themselves whether fair treatment is being meted out to members of the Opposition parties. The occupant of the chair, instead of preserving the dignity of the chamber and handing out even-handed justice to all honorable members, has handed out one kind of justice to supporters of the Government, but has treated members of the Opposition parties in a completely different fashion. He seizes every opportunity to prevent members of the Opposition from asking questions or revealing facts in the course of debate which might embarrass the Government. Often, he interprets the Standing Orders in a manner contrary to the precedents laid down in May’s Parliamentary Practice and he does so in order to prevent embarrassing attacks from being made upon the Government. “When honorable members, as the honorable member for Warringah and I did on the occasion to which the motion relates, insist upon their rights they are suspended from the service of the House. Under the Standing Orders, the period of suspension of an honorable member for a first offence is for one day, for a second offence a week, and for a third offence a month.
– That puts the “wind up “ the honorable member.
– Of course, as the honorable member’s interjection shows, such treatment is intended to intimidate members of the Opposition. However, it does not put the “ wind up “ me, because I have been suspended on more than one occasion. But supporters of the Government have the idea that if an honorable member is suspended on two occasions he will be compelled to remain silent and to suffer injustice in silence because he knows that should he be suspended a third time he will be suspended for a period of one month. That is intimidation. As the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod) has said, it is intended to put the “ wind up “ members of the Opposition. Supporters of the Government say, in effect, “ If a member of the Opposition becomes embarrassing to the Government, throw him out. On the third occasion he will be thrown out for one month, and we will then have an easy run.” “Honorable members opposite might think that that will get them out of a “ spot “ but any one who visits any part of Australia to-day and speaks to people who listen to debates in this House and thus learn all the facts, knows that the people generally do not approve of the manner in which Mr. Deputy Speaker is discharging his duties in the chair. The only way in which members of the Opposition can meet such a threat is to let the public know exactly what is taking place in this House. Because so many people have been made aware of the facts over the air, the occupant of the chair h»6 repealed a very marked change in his attitude towards members of the Opposition since the occasion to which the motion relates. He now treats us with a degree of deference. Indeed, one would now practically need to blow up the chamber in order to be thrown out. Nothing that the Opposition has done has brought about that change in the psychology of the chair. The fact is that people in all parts of Australia have voiced hostile- criticism of his conduct. With the election only a few months away we are now . going to be told that the conduet of the Labour party’s nominee in the chair is- so good that it merits the amendment which has been proposed by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction I submitted that the amendment was out of order- because it was a direct negative of the motion, but my point, of order was overruled. Consequently,, the amendment which merely seeks to whitewash Mr. Deputy Speaker will be put to the House and, no doubt,, it. will be carried because of the Govern-: ment’s majority. The amendment states -
This House; declares ite determination to uphold the dignity and authority of the Chair- and, incidentally, the Minister who proposed the amendment has been quite disorderly because he has constantly interjected in this debate-^ . and deplores the fact that the Deputy Speaker while carrying out his duties with ability and im partiality- - that is a direct negative of the motion which declares that Mr. Deputy Speaker has been partial and. incompetent - has not at all times received the support from all members which lie in entitled to expect in maintaining that dignity and authority.
The amendment may mollify Mr. Deputy Speaker, but it will not induce the Opposition to relent in its criticism of him. As the Government baa the requisite numbers, the amendment will be carried. Every honorable member opposite will vote for it because he knows that Mr. Deputy Speaker has always protected him from suspension and ejectment regardless of his conduct. So, therefore, this motion is very much to the point. I regret that a similar motion has to be submitted during almost every sessional period. This Parliament is speedily coming to a close, only a month or so of its life being left to run. I trust that during the remainder of its life I shall’ not again suffer the fate which has been my lot so many times in the past solely because I have endeavoured to maintain my rights and the rights of other honorable members on this side of the Howse. I support every line of the motion now before the Chair.
.- The motion before the Chair would be a very important one were it npt for the fact that motions of this kind have come to be accepted as a regular feature of the Opposition’s attack on the dignity and authority of the Chair. They are proposed solely for political purposes. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) was not in his best form to-day. He waa in. good voice, but he- made a number of admissions which, militated against the Opposition’s cage. He clearly told us that motions of this, kind are submitted so that the. people of Australia, through the agency of the parliamentary broadcasts,, may learn, of the faults of Mr. Deputy Speaker. He clearly admitted the political import of the motion now before the Chair. I unhesitatingly support the amendment proposed by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman). The vote on this motion should not and need not be recorded on party lines. It is- the, duty of every member of the House’ to uphold the dignity and prestige of the Chair, not for the sake of the occupant of the chair for the time being, but im order to preserve respect for the institution of Parliament. Opposition raa embers, if they so desire, may vote for the amendment proposed by the Minister for Defence. I am certain that at leas, many of them would be glad to- do so were it not for their party allegiances. When th& vote is takes on this Motion we shall see whether any honorable members opposite aTe wilding- to break the cast-iron discipline of the party rule and vote as their consciences dictate. Government: supporters, will vote for the amendment because they know it is justified and because they know, too,, that motions of this kind are submitted by members of the Opposition solely for the purpose of gaining some political advantage through cbe broadcast of our. proceedings. The whole tenor of the debate on this motion kas proved the truth of my contention. The honorable member for Richmond indulged’ in generalities and refrained, from making .specific charges. He used the words “generally”, “usually”, and “ some-times “ to qualify bis claim that Mr. Deputy Speaker i» partial, unfair and unjust; but he made no specific charge. He did not quote one single instance of partiality on the part of Mr. Deputy Speaker. A charge of partiality on the part of Mr. Speaker or Mr, Deputy Speaker *is a serious matter, and I expected that the honorable member would) have sought to submit one instance of partiality in order to support the Opposition’s case. He was not able to do so. He merely said that Mr, Deputy Speaker was constantly guilty of partiality. Because of the fact that no honorable, member opposite can cite a specific ease of partiality, the charge, against Mr. Deputy Speaker as expressed in the motion must fall to the ground.. The honorable member for Richmond said that the Minister for Defence had occasionally or frequently quoted from documents which he subsequently characterized as confidential and that, he sought the protection of the Chair to prevent them from being tabled. He said that not once had the Minister failed to. obtain that protection. I. point out that the Chair has no option in the matter. The matter is governed by Standing Older- 317, which’ reads as follows : -
A document relating to public affairs quoted from, by a Minister of the Crown, unless stated to be of a confidential mature or such- as should, more properly be obtained by Address* may be called for and made a public document.
The standing order compels the Chair to regard a document as confidential if a Minister of the Crown so characterizes it.
– What if it is clearly not a confidential document?
– Thai is not a matter i&r the. Chair to decide. The. words; used im the standing ©order axe “ ion-less stated to be of a confidential nature “. The point made by the- honorable member’ for Warringah could, be sustained only if the standing order read,. “ unless proven to be of a confidential nature “. The language used in the standing order is clear and unequivocal!. The honorable member foc Richmond has said that, the Minister for Defence has acted improperly in characterizing as confidential’ certain documents from which he had quoted but hie has Bitterly failed to make a- case to support has contention. The Chair has m©’ discretion in the matter. A Minister of the Crown is- solely responsible for determining whether or net a document from, which be quotes is confidential. The honorable member also said that the standing order which prescribes! that if any honorable member be suspended, his suspension om the first occasion shall be for the remainder of that day’s, sitting,
Bind that the suspension for succeeding offences shall’ be for longer periods, waa designed to intimidate members of the Opposition. I remind the House and the country that that standing order was adopted during the- regime of a nonLabour government.. As far as I am aware, it has been in operation for a very long, period. So., the honorable ‘member’s charge rebounds against a government of which he was a member or which he himself or his party supported. If the honorable member’s contention be correct, a government which his party supported introduced the standing order in order to coerce the Opposition of that day. With words from his own lips the honorable member has condemned himself and the party to which he belongs. The whole of his speech was on much the same lines. He said that every move made by Mr. Deputy .Speaker has been actuated by party political considerations. One would have thought that the honorable member would have brought some proof to justify such a serious charge, but he did not attempt to do so. He also said that although Mr. Deputy Speaker has constantly pulled up members of the Opposition, members and supporters of the Government have been left alone; but he was not able to cite one instance of that to prove the truth of his assertion. For how long will respect for the parliamentary institution continue if honorable members opposite make charges of a serious character without attempting to submit evidence of proof? The honor- able gentleman also said that members of the Opposition have to accept unquestioned the rulings of the Chair or they promptly find themselves outside the chamber. Ample machinery is provided in the Standing Orders to enable the decisions and rulings of the Chair to be challenged. If that machinery were utilized on every occasion there would be no need for expulsions from this House. The honorable member also alleged that because of Mr. Deputy Speaker’s partiality not one honorable member on this side of the House had been suspended. I vividly recollect an occasion when I breached the Standing Orders rather seriously and would have been expelled had I not apologized to the Chair for my offence. I could cite other instances in which the provisions of the Standing Orders would have been used against Government members and supporters had they not apologized to the Chair. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) destroyed the whole case for the Opposition when he made his contribution to this debate.
– The honorable member for Balaclava has not yet spoken.
– Order !
Air. White. - Mr. Deputy Speaker, the honorable member said that I had destroyed the Opposition’s case when I spoke in this debate. I have not spoken in this debate. I ask him to withdraw that statement. It is quite untrue.
– I was about to anticipate the honorable gentleman’s objection. I meant to say that the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) had destroyed the Opposition case. He pointed out that the motion arose from a debate on the Audit Bill 1948, which was introduced for the purpose of amending the Audit Act. Clause 39 of that bill provided for the insertion in the act of a new section 70b to authorize the Treasurer to guarantee to the Commonwealth Bank the repayment of loans made for the purpose of assisting various industries. That provision referred to a particular company, which was named at the time, and to special circumstances, which existed then and may exist again. During the course of the debate, the honorable member for Balaclava said something by interjection about Trans-Australia Airlines. In reply, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) said that Trans-Australia Airlines bad established a very fine service and was doing a magnificent job. Those are not the exact words that he used, but that was the effect of what he said. When the honorable member for Balaclava rose to speak subsequently, he attempted to deliver a full-dress speech upon the subject of Trans-Australia Airlines and its finances. If my recollection is correct, I raised a point of order and Mr. Deputy Speaker upheld my objection. I said that the bill contained no reference to TransAustralia Airlines and that the clause could not be used as a means of providing assistance for such an organization. It was upon that question alone that Mr. Deputy Speaker’s ruling was challenged. His impartiality was questioned, and the manner of discharge of his duties was subjected to vicious attack.
– That is not quite right. Mr. Deputy Speaker objected before the honorable member spoke.
– It does not matter. I objected and raised a point of order. Those were the circumstances at the time. I say that the ruling of Mr. Deputy Speaker on that occasion was clearly correct and could not have been properly disputed. The fact that the honorable member for Parramatta has admitted that the motion now before the House arose from that particular instance discredits the Opposition case.
– I did not say anything of the sort.
– Order ! The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) has spoken in this debate. He is not entitled to make a second speech.
– I do not propose to deal with the matter at great length. The Opposition case has been completely disproved by the facts. Certainly it has not been substantiated in any way by the statements that honorable members opposite have made up to the present.
From experience in the chamber, one gains the impression that at least the leading members of Opposition parties obtain a very good hearing indeed. We cannot say that the same consideration is always accorded by them even to the Prime Minister. From time to time it appears very much as though organized efforts are made to interrupt the speeches of honorable members on this side of the House, particularly leading Ministers. The message that they seek to give to the people of Australia, sometimes coloured with politics, as are all speeches in this chamber, is frequently interrupted on important occasions by what seem to be organized tactics on the part of honorable members opposite. Because of that, honorable gentlemen bring down the wrath of Mr. Speaker upon their heads from time to time, justly I believe in almost every case. I do not say that Mr. Speaker, or his deputy, makes no mistakes. No Speaker is infallible. No Speaker, I imagine, ever has been infallible. The fact is that the presiding officer has a difficult job to perform. He is often required to interpret the Standing Orders. They are not always perfectly clear. Precedents that exist are not always exact. Therefore much depends upon the judgment of the occupant of the chair. I believe that the Deputy Speaker has done a very fine job. He has upheld the status of the Chair as it has
been established in the United Kingdom and Australian parliaments. He has maintained order in the assembly, even when tempers flare, as they naturally do at times. He has held the scales evenly between Government supporters and members of the Opposition. It is true that members of the Opposition claim, individually and collectively, that they are sometimes penalized. It is also true that members of the Government and their colleagues sometimes claim that Mr. Speaker or his deputy has not been fair to them. Both sides cannot be right, surely. The fact is, of course, that Mr. Deputy Speaker has discharged a difficult task well. He has maintained order and upheld the dignity of the office that he holds. I believe that the motion is completely unjustified. The amendment proposed by the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction ought to be carried unanimously by the House.
.- It is sad but necessary that we should have to launch a motion implying censure of the Deputy Speaker of this House. He should be above reproach. As has been said by honorable members on the Government side of the chamber, the Speaker of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom is above reproach. In that place, there is the dignity and decorum that is becoming in a democratic parliament. But here, the office has sadly deteriorated, and one cannot help saying, when one looks at the record of the Government’s treatment of the Opposition, that the deterioration has been due largely, not only to the Government and its crudities, but also to the actions of Mr. Speaker, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and some of their substitutes, though not all of them. I say that regretfully, but statistics show that the statement is true. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly) declared that honorable members on the Government side of the chamber were free from blame and taint. He boasted that no honorable member on that side of the House had been suspended during the seven or eight years of the life of this Socialist government. That shows that the censure of Mr. Deputy Speaker is justified1. These are the statistics: There have been 21 suspensions in that lime-
– Not enough.
– The criticism is confirmed by the Government Whip, who would like to see more suspensions of Opposition members. He is one honorable member who will lose his seat in this Parliament at the next elections, because the people are tired of the crudities of the Government. As I have said, 21 honorable members of this side of the House have been suspended during the last seven or eight years. Eighteen of those honorable gentlemen are former Ministers. A Minister should know something of administration and of the kind of conduct that is necessary in the Parliament. Only members of the Opposition have suffered. Never has a member or supporter of the Government been named. Yet honorable members on this side of the House, from those who sit on the back benches to the former Prime Minister who is the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), have been named. Even the ordinary formalities have been disregarded in the process.
In the case of the Leader of the Opposition, the right honorable gentleman made a mild interjection when he was being misrepresented by the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell). He was warned from the Chair, and merely protested in words something like these, “Do not tempt me to interject”. For that he was named and suspended without even the formality of calling for the Prime Minister, a practice that was always observed by other governments. That procedure should always be followed so that the Prime Minister may appeal to the honorable member who has offended, or allegedly offended, by saying, “Will the honorable member retract or has he any explanation to make?” Instead, the Leader of the Opposition was suspended from the service of the House by a bloc vote, carried under the caucus system, by which honorable members opposite are so regimented that they dare not express their real opinions. Had there been a secret ballot, I do not believe that the Leader of the Opposition would have been suspended. But the Prime Minister was not even called into the chamber, although a former Prime Minister was under threat of suspension.
Those are the facts. They are on record. In the light of what has happened, the terms of the motion now before the House are not exaggerated. If anything, they understate the situation. The people ought to know that all the devices and strategems that the Labour party can think of are used against the Opposition in order to hamper debate. The gag and the “ guillotine “ are frequently used, and honorable members are obstructed by the raising of so-called points of order and by Deputy Speakers howling out that they are “ digressing “, although there is nothing in the Standing Orders to provide that an honorable member may not cite an example or a parallel case. Last night, when I was speaking in the debate on the motion for the printing of the report of the Royal Commission on New Guinea Timber Rights and the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Sheehy) was acting on behalf of Mr. Deputy Speaker, he thought that 1 was reflecting upon him. It is not my fault if I cannot make him understand what I am talking about.I was not reflecting on him at all. I was referring to action taken about a royal commission years ago. Anyway, I was shouted at by the honorable member, told to sit down, lectured and had an apology demanded from me. I went through all that to be permitted to speak. So it goes on. Because we feel that there is a lot of hypocrisy and humbug in this deliberative assembly, which is scarcely a deliberative assembly now-a-days, because so much is done as a formality, and because we protest and stand up for our rights as representatives of the people, which we are, unlike honorable members opposite, who are here merely as delegates of trade unions and the like, we are subjected to obstruction. Our speeches are gagged or “ guillotined’ “. Time is wasted by Ministers. Questions are “ cooked up “ for them to reply to at question time in order that they may pour forth propaganda over the air: This motion of want of confidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker is, in my opinion, an understatement. It. states-
That this House has no furtherconfidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker on the grounds-
That in thedischarge of his duties he hasrevealed serious partiality in favour of Government members;
I have proved that by quoting the figures - 21 expulsions but not one member expelled from the other side. Irrespective of one’s regard for the political views of Mr. Deputy Speaker, one may have regard for him as an individual and concede that not all the expulsions were at his behest. I must also say, though, that he has the record for the greatest number of expulsions in one evening. The next paragraph of the motion is -
No one could say that any member of the Labour party, acting as Mr. Speaker or his deputy or the Chairman of Committees or his deputy, acts as the custodian of the rights of all honorable members. According to our procedure, deputies of the Chairman of Committees are selected from all sides of the House. Can honorable members remember any Temporary Chairman of Committees appointed from the Opposition side being called upon to take his place as the deputy of the Chairman of Committees? That has happened on only very few occasions. A Temporary Chairman of Committees from the Labour side is nearly always chosen. If Temporary Chairmen of Committees from this side were called upon to act more often honorable members would see justice without bias. But no ! Labour men keep the occupancy of the chair a close preserve. The next paragraph of the motion is -
The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Dedman), who has a number of ministerial titles and acts in many different capacities, gave us a sermon when he resumed the debate on this motion to-day. He has a sermonizing style. His sermon reminded me of Satan reproving sin. Honorable members who were here in 1945 will remember an honorable member who is no longer with us and was fortunately replaced by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang). They will remember that that gentleman, Mr. Morgan, rose in Ms place and said that he had been sworn at by the Minister. I will not repeat the words that he claimed had been used. It is not in Hansard, but we all know what it was. The Minister who swore at Mr. Morgan has delivered us a sermon in which he said that the censure motion was a wrong thing and which he ended by moving an amendment, the effect of which is that we affirm the impartiality of Mr. Deputy Speaker. The honorable gentleman reminded us of the. House of Commons. We well know what happens in the House of Commons. We should take an example from it. The Government should be fairer and more considerate. It should realize that it will not remain in power permanently. In fact, it will not be in power for long. The standard will improve after next December because we, having regained power, will appoint an impartial Speaker and Chairman of Committees who will do their duty by the Parliament, Quite apart from the party bias shown by Mr. Deputy Speaker and those who are appointed from the other side to act in his place, they have an insufficient knowledge of procedure, give hasty judgments and lack a sense of humour. The lack of a sense of humour is common to all honorable members opposite. If any one attempts to ridicule them they immediately take points of order. That duty is generally performed by aback-bencher. That makes him a useful party member. Then the Chair trips up whichever honorable member on this side is speaking, warns him and, as likely as not, tells him to sit down. If the men who preside over our deliberations were better trained, doubtless the standard would improve. The present incumbent of the chair is learning as he goes along. The trouble is that he does not stay in the chair for long. He is often replaced by the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Sheehy). We know his style. One has only to deviate from what he thinks is the right course and then look out! It is not wrong, in the course of a speech, for an honorable mem- ber on this side to say “ For example “, but as soon as one does if the honorable member for Boothby or the honorable member for Perth is in the chair, one is warned. Let any honorable member try to draw parallels and that is an indication to the Chair that he is deviating. That brings forth an immediate warning from the Chair that he must not do so. But there is nothing in the Standing Orders to say that an honorable member may not do that. The Minister, in the course of his sermon, strongly emphasized the provisions of Standing Order 278, which reads -
Whenever the Speaker rises during a debate, any member then speaking, or offering to speak, shall sit down, and the House shall he silent, so that the Speaker may be heard without interruption.
That was the text of his sermon. Because I interjected, “ Read Standing Orders 283 and 284!”, he then said that I was one of the most disorderly persons in the Parliament. I rose and asked that he retract that statement; but, far from ordering the Minister to retract it, Mr. Deputy Speaker said that he agreed with the Minister. I challenge any one to read through Hansard for the last twenty years and produce one example of my having used unparliamentary language or engaged in disorderly conduct. But it does not require either unparliamentary language or disorderly conduct for honorable members on this side to earn the displeasure of the Chair. One must not even be pungent or vehement in one’s speech. I come back to the charge that Mr. Deputy Speaker “ constantly fails to interpret correctly the Standing Orders of the House “ and refer him to Standing Orders 283 and 284. The first reads-
Any member may rise to speak “ to order “, or upon a matter of privilege suddenly arising.
The second reads -
All questions of order and matters of privilege at any time arising shall, until decided, suspend the consideration and decision of every other question.
So, during a debate, if an honorable member rises, from whatever party, and says, “ I have a point of order “, it has to bo heard, but all honorable members know that when a point of order is raised on this side, Mr. Speaker or one of his deputies shouts the honorable member down. I think all honorable members on this side have had that experience.
I come now to the specific incident from which this censure motion arises. We were engaging in a debate in this House on the 17th November. 1948. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke) has just given a garbled account of what happened. That is characteristic of him. Yet he is a Temporary Chairman and often deputises for Mr. Speaker. The honorable member was right on one count, though, for this matter did arise out of a debate. It was a debate on the Audit Bill. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) had spoken about the Government’s assistance to enterprise generally. He then, quoting an example, said it showed how governments could make enterprises pay. Then I said, to rhyme the couplet, “ Like T.A.A. ! “ which so hurt him that he went to lengths to show that Trans-Australia Airlines was “ a good show “. I said that I did not criticize the efficiency of TransAustralia Airlines but did criticize its finances. Then I sought, as it was an Audit Bill that we were debating, to say that we should have the opportunity to discuss the Trans-Australia Airlines finances. I said -
I propose to analyse the accounts of TransAustralia Airlines in order that what the Prime Minister has said may not go unanswered and uncorrected and how a government can conceal . . .
Mr. Deputy Speaker called me to order. I then said. -
Mr. Deputy Speaker then made a long speech the gist of which was that I was not entitled to suggest anything. I said -
With respect, I point out that the accounts of Trans-Australia Airlines are subject to Commonwealth audit. I intend to show that there is need for greater scrutiny of this State enterprise. I contend that it comes within the scope of this bill which relates to Government audits. This is an analysis that was made by a well-known accountant. He says that in the last year the accounts showed . . .
Mr. Deputy Speaker then intervened, and told me that I must confine my remarks to the bill. He warned me that if I did not obey his ruling I would be asked to resume my seat. After that speech by Mr. Deputy Speaker, I said -
I do not want to transgress in any way. If a company, which shall be nameless, has received assistance from the Government to an amount of several million pounds . . .
At that point, the faithful member for Perth rose to order. He made a long speech in which he claimed that the subject which I was discussing was not relevant to the Audit Bill. Mr. Deputy
Speaker supported him. I protested, and said -
The undertaking of which I am speaking comes within the scope of that proposed section.
I was referring to proposed new section 70b of the Audit Act. Mr. Deputy Speaker said that if I were to persist along the line that I had been taking, he would ask me to resume my seat. That is the so-called disorderly debate about which we have heard. The young and peregrinating member for Martin, who is known as “ Dilly-Dally “ Daly has described it as one of the most unruly incidents that has ever happened in this Parliament. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) stepped into the breach, and endeavoured to take a point of order with the object of showing that my remarks had been relevant to the bill. He could not get away with even a point of order. He was named and suspended in short time. He was followed by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), who had also attempted to take a point of order.
– With the same result.
– Yes. The doors of the chamber had hardly closed behind the departing figure of the honorable member for Warringah before the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) was following him. I warn the ladies and gentlemen who are seated in the public galleries here, and also persons listening to this debate, that even they are not safe.
– Order ! The honorable member must address himself to the House.
-I recall that, on that occasion, a doctor who was sitting in the public galleries was asked to leave the chamber.
– Order ! That matter has no relation to the subject under discussion.
– But the doctor was put out of the chamber.
– The Chair knew nothing of it.
– I shall not enter into a discussion of the matter, but that incident shows how easily these things can happen. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have heard various honorable members on this side of the chamber speak about your abilities, or the reverse, as a presiding officer, and you have heard your supporters on the Government side state their views. You have an opportunity to show what a true democrat you are. If a secret ballot were held for the election of the occupant of the chair, the result would be extremely interesting. I do not think that there would be either unanimity or solidarity among honorable members opposite. “ Solidarity “ is a good word for the Labour party, as has been shown over the years. It is open to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to make this innovation.
I return to the sermon by the Minister for Defence, who suggested that we should emulate the House of Commons, and adopt its procedure, decorum, dignity and even humour. At present, when we make an attempt to be humorous, we are named and suspended. In this chamber, it is an affront to criticize that sterling and serious political party, known as the Socialist party. It is not done. Therefore, members of the Opposition must beware of exercising their wit.
– Order! I ask the honorable member to address himself to the matter before the Chair.
– I shall do so. In fact, I shall read the terms of the motion of want of confidence again, but this time, I shall transpose it to the second person as follows: -
That this House has no further confidence in you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on the grounds -
– Order ! The honorable member must use the proper forms of the House. I ask him to read the terms of the motion as it appears on the notice-paper.
-I thought that I was doing so, and I am sorry if I was not. This motion refers to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and is entitled, “ Mr. Deputy Speaker - Want of Confidence Motion”. It reads as follows : -
That this House has no further confidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker on the grounds -
That in the discharge of his duties he has revealed serious partiality in favour of Government members;
That he regards himself merely as the instrument of the Labour party and not as the custodian of the rights and privileges of elected members of this Parliament;
That he constantly fails to interpret correctly the Standing Orders of the House; and
Of gross incompetency-
I think that that is slightly exaggerated, sir- in his administration of parliamentary procedure.
It is very serious. I believe that if we can prevent, by protest or ridicule, a repetition of certain incidents in this House, this debate will achieve some good. I return to what I said at the beginning of my speech. It is sad that the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) should find it necessary to submit this motion of want of confidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Labour party, in an unguarded moment, at a conference held in Brisbane, considered an important resolution. I must refer to it. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway)-
– Order! I ask the honorable member to direct his remarks to the motion under discussion.
– The Labour party, at that conference in Brisbane, considered a motion to the effect that the Parliament should be replaced by an economic council. The Communist party believes in replacing the Parliament with a Soviet. We are going along the road towards the goal of the Communists. We must not depart from the traditions that have been laid down for our guidance by the Mother of Parliaments. We have a knowledge of the procedure of the House of Commons, and we know that the Speaker of that chamber is not opposed at a general election. He has the respect of members, regardless of the political party from which he is drawn. We should aim at a similar position in this Parliament; otherwise we shall pull the parliamentary institution down. The Parliament is the only barrier that stands between sanity and safety in a democracy, and anarchy and chaos.
.- As I was one of the honorable members who were concerned in an incident out of which this motion of want of confidence against you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, arises, I feel obliged to make a few comments upon the matter. There is not very much that I can add to what has been so well stated by my colleagues who have preceded me in this debate, but I should like to say a few things about the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman), who took it upon himself to lecture us about the conduct of the House. I do not mind being told by an Australian how an Australian Parliament should be conducted, but I have some reluctance in accepting that which is said by a displaced Scotsman.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the word “ displaced “.
– Order !
– I say that I have some resistance to being told by a Scotsman how an Australian parliament should be conducted. The Minister has imported into the debate what takes place in the House of Commons, in England, and that has no relation whatever to what takes place in the House of Representatives; in Australia. I desire to point out that the Speaker of the House of Commons occupies an entirely different position from that which the Speaker of the House of Representatives occupies. In this House, Mr. Speaker is merely the instrument, so far as the Labour party is concerned, of the Labour party’s policy. That point has been made quite plain by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) himself. Speaking on a motion of want of confidence in the presiding officer, he said -
Surely honorable members realize that no government could allow the Speaker to he humiliated by the carrying of a motion of no confidence in his decisions or rulings.
From that statement, it follows that no matter how partial or incompetent Mr. Speaker may be, he will he supported by the Labour party in power. The reason is that Mr. Speaker holds that position solely for the purpose of conducting this Parliament in the interests of the Labour party. That statement hardly requires proof. The facts speak much louder than words. Since the Eighteenth Parliament of the Commonwealth was elected, 21 honorable members have been named and suspended but not one of those honorable gentlemen is a Government supporter. Does any member of the public imagine that Government members have not committed offences comparable with those for which those 21 members of the Opposition were named and suspended. I recall that on one occasion, not long ago, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) stood at the table and deliberately defied Mr. Deputy Speaker in a most abusive manner. You did nothing about it! Let us compare that with the conduct that we have witnessed on more than one occasion in this House when the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) has engaged in scurrilous interjections across the chamber which every one in the chamber heard, with the exception of Mr. Deputy Speaker, and which were heard also by people listening to the broadcast of the proceedings. No one in his proper senses can come to any conclusion other than that Mr. Deputy Speaker has exercised his authority against the Opposition. That is what has given rise to the motion before the House. Honorable members will recollect an occasion when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) was suspended from the service of the House for a most minute breach of the Standing Orders. What possible justification could there be for Mr. Deputy Speaker to subject the right honorable gentleman to the contumely of being ejected from the chamber for a trivial breach, and then charge that he had been ejected because of disorderly conduct? The Minister for Defence, who led the debate this afternoon, said that Hansard revealed that I had been engaged in disorderly conduct prior to being ejected from the House. I remind honorable members that these proceedings are being broadcast. The Minister has never been restrained by the Chair. He gave a completely false impression which either he knew was false - in which event he stands condemned - or he did not take the trouble to read the Hansard report carefully. In the latter event, he was shamefully negligent in what he said. Although some people know on precisely what ground you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, threw me out of the House, I remind honor able members that prior to that incident the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) had sought to express no confidence in yourself. So that honorable members, as well as the listening public, may understand to what extent they can rely on anything said by the Minister for Defence, and to what extent they can rely on the person who for the time being is occupying the speakership of this Parliament, I shall cite the Hansard report of the proceedings on that occasion. When the honorable member for Wentworth sought to express no confidence in Mr. DeputySpeaker, you said -
Order! This is not the timeat which to give notice of such a motion. The honorable gentleman knows that he must act in accordance with the Standing Orders.
The Hansard report continues -
– I rise to order.
– Does the honorable member wish to speak to the matter before the House?
– I have risen to order.
– No point of order is involved. The honorable member will resume his seat. If he does not do so he too, will find himself outside. The question before the Chair is, “That the bill be now read a second time “.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I desire to submit a motion as a matter of urgency. My action is taken in accordance with Standing Order 407, which reads -
In cases of urgent necessity, any Standing or Sessional Order or Orders of the House may be suspended for the day’s sitting, on motion, duly made and seconded, without notice: Provided that such Motion is carried by an absolute majority of the whole number of the members of the House.
– Order! The second reading of the bill has been agreed to.
– As a matter of urgency, I am asking for leave to submit a motion in accordance with the Standing Orders. That motion is in these terms-
– The honorable member is entirely out of order. No point of order is involved. The second reading of the bill has been agreed to. I ask the honorable member to resume his seat. If he wishes to be suspended from the service of the House, I shall name him, too.
– I move -
That I be further heard.
– I name the honorable member for Warringah.
And out I went ! That example definitely proves what the Opposition is saying.
Mr. Deputy Speaker was quite ignorant of the Standing Orders, and merely because I was seeking to move a motion I was named and put out. There are different ways in which these matters can be dealt with, but there is only one way open to us to express our views upon this matter, that is, by moving what is, after all, a serious motion, one of no confidence in you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not hesitate to say that every word in the motion can be supported up to the hilt. Let us consider my case on that occasion. I said -
My action is taken in accordance with Standing Order 407*.
As honorable members will remember, this followed the expulsion of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), about which I took a certain view. I may have been wrong. Although I will assume for the purpose of my argument that I was wrong, I was entitled to a viewpoint. If honorable members have not that right we may as well close up the Parliament; it is scarcely worth while coming here now. Under Standing Order 407, a right is given to me which nobody occupying the Speakership of this Parliament can take away from me; that is a right to stand in my place and move that the Standing Orders be suspended. If I have a seconder, that motion is entitled to go before the House. Yet when I said -
I desire to submit a motion as a matter of urgency.
Mr. Deputy Speaker did not even wait to hear what my motion was. I could understand Mr. Deputy Speaker saying, after hearing my motion, “ There is no urgency in the matter at all,” but before I was able to put the motion, having referred to the standing order which gives me the right to put it, Mr. Deputy Speaker said -
Order! The second reading of the hill has been agreed to.
I cannot understand what the second reading of the bill had to do with my motion. I was seeking to move a motion as a matter of urgency, which I was entitled to do. I said -
As a matter of urgency I am asking for leave to submit a motion in accordance with the Standing Orders. That motion iB in these terms -
An impartial Speaker, exercising ordinary courtesy, would have said “ What is your motion ? “. However, I was then interrupted by Mr. Deputy Speaker saying -
Order! The honorable member is entirely out of order. No point of order is involved.
I was not even arguing a point of order. I was seeking to submit a motion, and any competent Speaker would have known the difference between a motion and a point of order. However, Mr. Deputy Speaker said -
The second reading of the bill has been agreed to. I ask the honorable member to resume his seat. If he wishes to be suspended from the service of the House, I shall name him, too.
What is the position of an honorable member? These are “stand-over.” tactics. I deliberately measure those words. How else could one describe the action of a Speaker who, when an honorable member seeks to assert his rights, says, in effect, “ Unless you sit down and shut up, you will have to go out”? I point out that we are not mere children, but the elected representatives of thousands of people. If we come here let us not leave without standing up and asserting our rights. For my part, I shall not leave without doing so. Even if I am thrown out of the House repeatedly, 1 shall continue to assert my rights, because unless honorable members do so, ultimately this Parliament will be destroyed. I had no alternative than to move that I bie further heard. I was entitled to do that. When I had made the motion, Mr. Deputy Speaker named me. He did so because I had sought to exercise my right under the Standing Orders of the House to move that I be further heard. Authority for my right to make that motion is contained in the standing order which provides that when a member has been charged with tedious repetition or continued irrelevance, he is entitled to movethat he be further heard. I had moved that I be further heard, and I was entitled to have the motion put to the House. Two matters arise from the actions of Mr. Deputy Speaker. Tinfirst is that when I sought to propose a motion as a matter of urgency I wap given no chance to indicate the nature of the motion. The second is that. having been refused an opportunity to do that, having been told that I must resume my seat because I was continually speaking on a matter that was not before the House, and having then moved that I be further heard, I was ejected. The ejectment of an honorable member from this chamber is a serious matter, not only for himself but also for his constituents, because his absence from the chamber deprives a great number of electors of representation in the Parliament. In my own case, the number is approximately 80,000. Is that the way in which the Parliament ought to be conducted?
The incident to which I have referred establishes the first charge that is made in the motion. Mr. Deputy Speaker, in the discharge of his duties on that occasion, revealed serious partiality in favour of Government members, because he exercised his authority against those who were seeking to fight the Government then. That Mr. Deputy Speaker regards himself merely as an instrument of the Labour party and not as the custodian of the rights and privileges of elected members of the Parliament is made abundantly clear by what the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) said in June of this year. The right honorable gentleman said that there could be no motion of censure of Mr. Speaker proposed that would be supported by the Government. The occupant of the chair in this Parliament is put there by members of the Labour party, and is at all times privy to what is taking place inside the party. It is also alleged in the motion that Mr. Deputy Speaker constantly fails to interpret correctly the Standing Orders of the House. In the course of the incident to which I have referred, he failed twice to do so.
In The Speaker of the House, by Michael Macdonagh, an important principle is well stated. It is -
The House will not tolerate the despot or the master in an officer of its own creation. There could not be a greater mistake than to suppose that the Speaker is independent of the House. He cannot ignore or withstand the wishes of the House as well implied as deliberately expressed.
I have said time and again that Mr. Speaker is the custodian of the rights and privileges of every member of the House. He is not here to control the business of the House in such a way as to make things easier for the Government. He is not here to rule over us irrespective of what our views may be. If, for example, I move that I be further heard, I am entitled to have that motion put to the House. It is for the House and not for Mr. Speaker to determine it.
I am compelled to make these observations, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is not a pleasant task, but I am sure that you would wish me to speak frankly upon this matter rather than to indulge in hypocrisy. I say deliberately that it is strange that during the life of the present Parliament 21 honorable members on this side of the House have been suspended but not one honorable member opposite.
– We behave ourselves.
– Although the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) attends the House, he does not say anything. I agree, therefore, that it can be said that the honorable gentleman behaves himself. There are, however, other honorable members opposite who engage in a great deal of disorderly conduct; but, apart from a cry of “ Order ! “ from the Chair now and again, nothing is done about it. If something takes place on this side of the chamber, sometimes the occupant of the chair, particularly somebody other than yourself, Mr. Deputy Speaker, almost jumps out of the chair at us and tells us that unless we shut up we shall go out. What is that other than intimidation? .
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– In resuming the debate upon the motion of want of confidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker I consider that it is proper that I should again state the terms in which the motion is expressed. The motion, which arose as you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, from incidents that occurred in this House, if before us for the purpose of enabling Opposition members to express their views of the way in which you have discharged your duties in the chair. It has not been very pleasant to charge Mr. Deputy Speaker as we have done in this motion, as follows: -
That in the discharge of his duties he has revealed serious partiality in favour of Government members ;
Of gross incompetency in his administration of parliamentary procedure.
Those are very strong words but they are consonant with the feelings of the Opposition. In short, we are compelled to say that we have no confidence in your conduct of the duties of the Chair. “We lack that confidence because experience has established that, whatever takes place in this chamber, your bias is against the Opposition. If there is one thing which members of the Liberal party and, indeed, I believe, all members of this House, must stand for at all times, it is the right of the individual to express his opinion. We are governed, as members of this Parliament, by Standing Orders, but if over “we on this side of the House assert our rights under the Standing Orders then, as likely as not, we shall find ourselves outside the chamber, because we shall be told that we are not entitled to assert our rights here, and that if we do so we shall be visited with the punishment of being ejected from the chamber. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) apparently takes the view that members should never in any circumstances move a motion of no confidence in the occupant of the chair. Mr. Speaker stands in no different a position from that of the Chairman of Committees when the latter is in charge of the committee proceedings of this chamber. I find in the records of the House an incident that I shall quote for the benefit of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. In November, 1935, Mr. Curtin, the late Prime Minister, who was then the Leader of the Opposition, moved, pursuant to notice -
That because of the gross partiality displayed by the Chairman of Committees . . . he be declared unfit to continue in that office.
I suppose that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If it be competent for the Labour party when in Opposition to move such a motion against ihe person occupying the Chair or against the Chairman of Committees, what valid argument can be advanced that the Oppo- sition should not now do likewise. I venture to say that the experience of this Parliament has shown that there has been no Opposition that has had more cause for complaint than this Opposition has had. We do not express the views contained in the -motion in any spirit of personal hostility to yourself, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We express them in terms of our objection to the way in which the authority of the Chair is exercised. We assert our right, as members of His Majesty’s Opposition, to express our views without fear of intimidation. We on this side of .the House are satisfied that too often the Chair has used standover methods against members of the Opposition. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has moved an amendment that is designed to support you, which shows how blind the Government is to its obligations. Indeed, the proposed amendment has been drawn up in a way that shows that the Government always expresses its views in the House in terms of politics. The amendment seeks to declare -
That this House declares its determination to uphold the dignity and authority of the Chair and deplores the fact that the Deputy Speaker while carrying out his duties with ability and impartiality, has not at all times received the support from all members which he is entitled to expect in maintaining that dignity and authority.
We are indeed prepared to support portion of that amendment insofar as we declare our determination to uphold the dignity and authority of the Chair. But the dignity and authority of the Chair do not rest solely in the hands of members of the Parliament. They are primarily in the hands of the presiding officer himself. It is by this method of conducting proceedings that he attracts support. If any section of the House believes that he is not discharging his duty properly then he loses that dignity and prestige. I have on more than one occasion expressed my views that the system under which the office of the Speaker of this Parliament operates is unfortunately one of party representation. Whatever may be the position in England regarding the speakership, it has little resemblance to what takes place in this House. In England, once a Speaker is elected he is placed above all party considerations.
He has his own establishment, and it is the tradition in England that so long as he occupies the office of Mr. Speaker he is not opposed in his electorate by any representative of any party in the House. I sometimes think that it would be a very good thing if we developed that tradition here. If we had that tradition we would not care from what part of the House the Speaker came. The existence of such a tradition would encourage Mr. Speaker, once elected to the Chair, to discharge his duties without fear or favour. The amendment moved by the Minister seems to be rather extraordinary. I understand that in your absence, Mr. Deputy Speaker, your deputy (Mr. Lazzarini) ruled that the amendment is in order. I should have thought that the amendment was a clear negation of the Standing Orders, as well as of the motion itself. It is well to draw attention to a ruling by Mr. Speaker Bell in 1936 in respect of an amendment moved to a motion of censure. According to Hansard, volume 150, page 1301, Mr. Speaker Bell said-
There are in the records of our own Parliament few precedents to help me to come to a decision nor can I find any guidance in upon the form in which censure motions are moved, or amendments moved thereon, but I have already said that the essential point is that the motion asks the House to censure the Government, whilst the amendment urges it to approve the Government’s action, and my opinion is that a motion that seeks to censure the Government should be met by a vote of “ Aye “ or “ No “ rather than by an amendment that is a negation of the motion. ] therefore rule that the amendment is not in order.
I am obliged, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to submit to the ruling of your deputy. But just as Mr. Speaker Bell said in 1936 that an amendment that asks the House to approve of the actions of a government against a motion of censure, is out of order, it seems to me that the present amendment, which seeks to uphold Mr. Deputy Speaker when a motion is before the House censuring his conduct, is also out of order. It is quite clear that such an amendment is simply designed as part of a political manoeuvre. I trust that there will not be many more occasions when we shall have to move motions of censure against the Chair. I repeat that we express our views not in terms of personal hostility to yourself, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but because of our determination to uphold the rights of the Opposition no matter what threats come from the Chair. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, or any one else who may occupy the Chair, may rest assured that we shall stand for our rights no matter what the consequences may be.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Sheehy) adjourned.
– by leave - Honorable members on both sides of the chamber, having suggested during the last sittings at the House that I make a further statement on the progress of the various schemes of immigration under which thousands of good people are being brought to our country, I have much pleasure in submitting another ministerial statement, which will be the fifth, on this most vital and important question. It is not an exaggeration to say that Australia is now entering into a period of population growth of enormous dimensions. This vast growth has, in fact, exceeded the most optimistic hopes the Government has ever entertained, and a brief comparison will indicate the truth of what I say. Between 1939 and the time of the national census on the 30th June, 1947, our numbers grew from 7,000,000 to 7,579,358, but in the two years that have elapsed since the taking of that census, nearly 160,000 new permanent residents have arrived in this country. As a consequence of the acceleration of immigration and natural increase, the population of Australia will reach the 8,000,000 mark within two months from to-day, that is, by November of this year. This achievement is indeed heartening, and gives increased confidence, not only for the future development but also, indeed, for the future security of our children and our children’s children. But even this desirable accomplishment, not even regarded as possible as late as twelve months ago, constitutes only the beginning of the new period of nation building.
I am confident that in the twelve months ending on the 30th June, 1950, at least 170,000 newcomers will arrive in Australia, and that in the following years the numbers will be even greater. Given the continuance of the present birth and death rates, and of immigration on the large scale planned for, Australia should increase its numbers by between 2£ per cent, and 3 per cent, annually, and that means that we shall reach the 9,000,000 figure early in 1954, and shall have 10,000,000 people within our shores towards the end of 1957. With this continued development, most Australians now living to-day should survive to see their country inhabited by 20,000,000 people. May Providence ordain it so.
This will, indeed, be a tremendous accomplishment. It will be population increase on a seale never before attained, and hardly even dreamed of in our land. It will match, and probably exceed, the great influxes of people that have attended gold rushes and the opening up of rich territories in this and other parts of the world in the past. It will be all the more remarkable because it will take place in modern times. The days when immigrants would submit to being herded aboard crowded and uncomfortable ships like human cattle are long past. The times arc over when new settlers of any desirable kind would take their wives and families far from the comforts and amenities of life, and allow their children to grow up without education or opportunities. Nobody could regret the passing of such conditions less than I do, but, of course, the modern necessity of bringing immigrants in comfort to new lives of civilized usefulness makes our tasks immeasurably more complex and difficult than they would have been in earlier days.
The social and economic consequences to Australia of this great population drive will be vast. However desirable the immigrants may be, and however eager to welcome them the people of their new country may be, problems of absorption and assimiliation can become very serious if there is not wise and careful planning in advance to solve or minimize them. I and- my department, in close collaboration with other Commonwealth departments, the governments of the States, and private industry, are now devoting an increasing amount of attention to such matters.
For instance, Australia must make a more vigorous approach to the development of regions ‘outside the metropolitan areas. Recent censuses have shown that our major increases of population for some time past have been absorbed in the cities. Growth of population has fitted in with the existing pattern of employment and industrial location, and without proper planning an increase of the magnitude now expected would probably swell the already swollen capital cities at the expense of broad, national development. We must make the most determined efforts to ensure a better general distribution of population throughout the Commonwealth, and this will mean a powerful drive in the direction of decentralization and regional development.
The Department of Immigration must take a lively interest in the encouragement of regional development if it wishes its own plans for the increase of the population of this continent to be carried out with the maximum benefit to the nation. It must co-operate, it does cooperate and it will continue to co-operate closely and helpfully with all governmental authorities, local-governing bodies and individuals who are directly responsible for such activity, or for any activity contributing to the development of Australia. The scale of investment and output in many of our industries will need to increase to ensure the continuance of good and improving standards of living for a steadily increasing population, and I and my department must continue to be vitally interested in all -such questions.
It is clear that many problems as well as many opportunities will face our country in the tasks of development which lie ahead of us, and only if we were to be afraid of them would we attempt to ignore them. The realistic attitude is to face honestly the probable emergence of various strains and stresses, and to do all we can to lessen their magnitude and their impact upon both ourselves and the new arrivals. That is the attitude which I am sure most Australians will adopt. Those who accept the need for expansion and population growth will face squarely any temporary discomforts and difficulties which are their inevitable concomitants.
There can be no argument against immigration at this period of Australian history. We must fill this country or we shall lose it. But even if there were no urgent security reason for our immigration drive there would be sound and cogent economic ones. A great industrial expansion has taken place during and since World War II., and we, as a consequence, have unused industrial capacity which offers a prosperous life to huge numbers of additional workers. There is no hope of meeting the demands for this labour power from among the Australian population, as the effects of the low birth-rate during the depression are now being reflected in a very slow growth of the adolescent sections of our total work force. But the new Australians are workers, ready and eager to set idle wheels spinning again, and to find their own prosperity in that of the nation with whose future their lives and energies are now so intimately associated.
Immigration is bringing great immediate benefits as well as some difficulties, but these are essentially of a temporary nature only. The long-term benefits will, of course, be even greater. We need to absorb immigrants into suitable employment; we must house and accommodate them; we must accept them as new Australians who will, sooner or later, share all the benefits and accept all the obligations of our common citizenship. The problems of the immigrants are the problems of the nation; solving those problems is the duty of us all. It is a responsibility for all communities throughout Australia to absorb and house their share of the newcomers. It is a responsibility of manufacturers and other employers to play their full part as well in the immigration plan. It is the responsibility of all Australians to be tolerant and receptive towards migrants from Continental Europe, particularly those who come to us with backgrounds of upbringing, and often of hardships, which we find it difficult to imagine.
The nature of the welcome being offered to the newcomers by the people of Australia, with the exception of a prejudiced1 and insignificant few, is most gratifying. With regard to the few who are so short-sighted and narrow-minded, I doubt if much can be done, but the many who are generous and kindly can and must be helped’ in the neighbourly work they are eager to undertake. The files of the Department of Immigration are bursting with letters from churches, citizens’ organizations, patriotic associations and individuals who wish to know how they can best do more than they are already doing to welcome the new Australians. As I announced during the parliamentary recess, a great Australian citizenship convention will be held in Canberra from the 23rd to the 27 th January next year so that the activities of such splendid people can be coordinated and organized in such a way as to secure the most satisfying results for all concerned. The Australian citizenship rally will not, however, be concerned merely with the problems of co-operation between various groups of people. It will be designed to promote a nation-wide movement towards a deeper appreciation of the privileges and responsibilities of Australian citizenship. The convention period will include Australia Day, 1950, which will be also the first anniversary of the proclamation of the Nationality and Citizenship Act. The services of Mr. John Tolson Massey, M.B.E., are being sought to organize the convention and subsequent activities. Mr. Massey, who is at present national general secretary of the Young Men’s Christian Association of Australia, has had many years of experience in the organization of nationwide welfare and similar bodies, and has been most active in immigration affairs in Australia and overseas. The Prime Minister and other leading public figures will address the gathering. The convention will not be concerned with European migrants alone. The British newcomer, though he speaks the same language, has lies of kinship, tradition and history with Australians, and understands the general principles that form the basis of our great democracy, can also find himself lonely and misunderstood at times in his new country. The best way to help these newcomers will also be discussed at the meetings.
Following the convention, “ good neighbour committees “ will be formed throughout Australia, and it is my hope that no township will be too small, no district too sparsely settled, and no city too big and busy with its own affairs for the formation and vigorous conduct of such committees. Other countries which are seeking immigrants have seen the necessity for a plan of this nature, and by making the present move Australia may well be the first of the immigration countries to achieve practical results.
The Australian free and assisted immigration schemes began on the 31st March, 1947, and though applications to come to Australia poured in in tens of thousands there were at that time only four ships available on the England-Australia run which could carry migrants among touristclass passengers. There was no ship at all for the exclusive carriage of immigrants, and in the first three months ofthe scheme Largs Bay, Wairangi, Orion and Stratheden between them managed1 to land only 553 migrants in Australia. That represented an annual intake at the rate of only 2,212 new citizens, and there were people who felt that there was no chance of our reaching our then target, figures.
The ships we needed were not obtained easily, but persistence convinced the British authorities that Australia was in deadly earnest with its immigration programme, and in the past two years our progress with shipping has been most satisfactory. At this time, there are ten fine ships, with an aggregate tonnage of 169,953 tons, wholly devoted to the carriage of free and assisted immigrants to Australia. Thus has one main stream of migrants been set flowing powerfully and satisfactorily. A second main stream is that which comes from Europe, from the displaced person camps in the western zones of Germany, and from these the nation is receiving many thousands of new Australians who have to be handled differently from our British kinsmen. Their problems and difficulties in adjustment are sometimes more severe, but they are of the greatest possible value to us.
The number of new Australians who have been placed in employment from reception and training centres now exceeds 30,000. By the end of this year, I expect it to have reached 50,000 out of a total of nearly 85,000 men, women and children, despite the immediate effects-of the recent coal strike, during which the disemployment of Australians caused the placement of newcomers to be suspended, and despite also the secondary effect, shortage of basic materials, which will continue to be felt for some time.
Some of the ways in which these new Australians are making important contributions to the Australian economy cannot be precisely evaluated. But there are some industries, on the other hand, for which quite precise figures are available. The records of the Sugar Producers Association show that the new Australians in Queensland cut 346,931 tons of cane last season, an amount which would yield about 50,000 tons of sugar. Since every ton of cane not harvested means so much less exported, and since the export price is about £28 a ton, the value of sugar resulting last season from the employment of the new Australians must be estimated at more than £1,400,000. The British public were the gainers also, because the 300,000-odd tons of sugar exported to the United Kingdom from Australia meant tha t so much less sugar had to be imported by Britain from dollar areas.
The rise in the timber output from our bush mills is largely due to the efforts of these new workers, of whom nearly 2,400 are employed in the industry. Mill employees work as teams, and the millers are therefore often unable to say just what quantity of their output has resulted from employment of the migrants, but they have no doubt whatever that it is a large and valuable proportion of the total.
Reports from lime and cement producers tell the same story of higher production and developmental works. Recently the chairman of directors of a leading brick company in Victoria said that -
The brick industry .in Melbourne .has .been saved by displaced person workers who now comprise one-third of the labour in that industry.
The output of quarries in Victoria has reached & record maximum since immigrant labour has become available to them. Important electrical reticulation schemes in many parts of Australia had been held up for long periods through shortages of high tension porcelain insulators. The undertaking specializing in these .products could only man two or three kilns with the labour available. Since migrant workers’ .hostels were opened by the Commonwealth Government, this company has used the services of new Australians from the hostel, and to-day it is burning six kilns.
The migrant workers’ hostels, pf which several are now operating under the control of the Department of Labour and National Service with many more to follow, will enable the Government to step up production of the large range of material and fittings needed for the housing programmes whose production is centred mainly in metropolitan areas and at Newcastle and Port Kembla. Needs range from baths and sinks to window glass and ceramic tiles. The critical labour shortage that existed in our hospitals when the scheme commenced has been overcome thanks to the fact that one in every ten new Australians working in Australia is engaged in nursing or domestic work in hospitals and similar institutions.
Sufficient numbers of these migrants have been in Australia long enough now to justify some attempt at judgment of their assimilation and the reaction of local communities. In this connexion the Regional Director of Employment in New South Wales has reported that -
District officers throughout the State report that displaced persons are being absorbed into the social life of the community without any apparent difficulties. Their conduct, with very few exceptions, is good, and Australians are showing every desire to accept them. Any reluctance which may at times exist usually disappears once contact is established.
Another Regional Director of Employment, in commenting recently on the reactions of the local community to the new Australians, said -
Reports from the majority of district officers indicate that displaced persons are no longer treated as strangers and refugees - they are now accepted as an integral section of the community playing their allotted part in the development of Australia. From all quarters favorable comments are heard not only with respect to their work but also to their personal courtesy and general demeanour.
A very high .place in the work of welcoming and helping new Australians must be given to the churches of all denominations, especially for the way in which private accommodation is found for needy cases. Such glowing reports on the assimilation of our new Australians as the ones I have just read are excellent indeed, but it must be remembered that they have been achieved only through careful planning, and that- the standard will be maintained only through continued and expanded planning as numbers increase. The Australian citizenship convention tq which I have referred represents a major step forward to be taken soon. Already, so much has been done that when Wing-Commander Innes, an executive of the International Refugee Organization, came to Australia and visited our camps and hostels a few months ago, he expressed himself as astonished at what we are doing, and assured us that no other country in the world which was receiving displaced person immigrants from Europe was offering them such training and facilities to ensure that their life in their new land began propitiously.
At this time, we have reception and training centres with a capacity of 15,000 people scattered throughout the Commonwealth. There are holding centres which will accommodate 22,500. Workers’ hostels for 31,014 are operating or in course of construction. Thus, accommodation has been planned for 69,014 new Australians directly under the control of the Government, apart from those who have gone into the hands of private employers everywhere. All these establishments of ours for the new Australians are, as I have said, scattered throughout the Commonwealth, and we are making and will continue to make every effort to see that rural industry and small-town industries receive their proper share of the labour available from the centres and hostels.
It is my belief - and I believe it is shared by every far-seeing and patriotic Australian - that this country cannot possibly acquire too many people of the right type to play their part in its growth and development. Because of this, when the recent coal strike disrupted the economy of the country I rejected the idea that any immigration activity should be suspended or reduced, and adopted the opposite course of accelerating the inflow of new Australians. I regarded it as an opportunity, for the disturbed industrial conditions could not last for ever, .and while they existed ships normally used for other purposes were available .to bring more people to our shores. Thanks to earlier planning, there was accommodation for them in our centres and hostels and, though they could not be sent to employment as fast as they normally would have been sent the cost of holding them ready for a short period was insignificant compared with the benefits of having them within the country. They are now playing their part in our affairs, whereas had I let the chance pass they would have been still idling unhappily in their European camps or on shipboard, and we, as well as they, would have been the losers.
So far we have relied on the scheme for nominated immigrants from the United Kingdom to keep the ships full, and it has worked very well indeed to facilitate the settlement in jobs and living quarters of scores of thousands of people. However, no system of nominated immigrants could possibly be sufficient to handle the number of new settlers we now anticipate, and a development in the near future will be the arrival of unnominated people from the United Kingdom. The necessity for this has been carefully considered, and in the course of various conferences with the State authorities, it has been agreed that such newcomers should be accommodated without using material urgently needed to overcome the continuing housing shortage. It has, therefore, been suggested to the States that huts imported from Great Britain should be used for the housing of unnominated newcomers at the time of their reception and until more permanent buildings are available. Some States have already agreed to the Commonwealth’s proposals, and others are still considering them, but it is obvious that there must soon be a big development of the flow of unnominated British immigrants, who will have initial accommodation provided jointly by the Commonwealth and the States. The flow of such people will be most beneficial, as their freedom from prior contracts will allow us a much wider field for selection, particularly of skilled tradesmen and workers of types which are needed. They will find and make opportunities in Australia.
That is the story of our post-war immigration drive up to the present, and it is one of which I am proud. The Australian Government has overcome difficulties which, like the early one of shipping- space, have at times appeared almost insuperable. Planning has been, and is, thorough and far-sighted, and we are facing up to current and probable future problems and will solve them, just as Australia can solve any national difficulty to which it applies itself with sufficient energy and determination. The immigration outlook is highly satisfactory, and I hope I have made that clear in this outline of our progress. Certainly, nothing must be allowed to interfere with the programme at this stage. It is of no use talking about a great future for any under-populated country. A nation is not soil, or trees, or native animals, or landscapes, however beautiful. It is made of human beings, engaged in co-operative efforts to improve the lives they lead and increase the opportunities available to their children and their children’s children. In this day and age there are no “ island paradises “, where a few people can live lives of lazy leisure, remote from the affairs of the world. What Australia needs and must have, as fast as it can get it, is an ample, ambitious, virile population, developing not only the resources of the land, but also every idea that can come from the fertile mind of mankind. Our great cities must not be merely the smoky monuments of industry, but also the homes of literature and the arts, the theatre and the pure sciences. Our sturdy ancestors pioneered this country with true devotion to democratic ideals, and the new generations which take it over from us must find between its broad horizons more than prosperity and material comfort. They must find themselves part of a great and growing nation, seething with ideas and offering every sort of intellectual and spiritual opportunity to its eager and talented youth. Such developments depend utterly and absolutely on planned population growth, and that is why nothing could give me more pleasure then to have been able to report great and outstanding progress with our immigration programme, and an even brighter future for it in the years ahead. I lay on the table the following paper : -
Immigration Policy - Ministerial Statement, 8th September, 1949. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Lemmon) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of moneys be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to authorize the raising of moneys to be advanced to the States for the purposes of housing.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Lemmon and Mr. Pollard do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Lemmon, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill seeks parliamentary authority for further advances to the States of capital funds totalling £17,000,000 in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement Act 1945. The following statement reveals’ the continued increase in advances made to the States by the Commonwealth since the inception of the agreement: -
During the same period parliamentary appropriations amounting to £52,000,000 were approved, leaving a balance of £6,393,000 available at the 30th June, 1 949, to enable the building programme to continue uninterrupted in the early months of this financial year. A £17,000,000 programme for expenditure under the above agreement was recommended to the Loan Council by the CoordinatorGeneral of Works and was endorsed by the Loan Council at its meeting last month as part of the works programme for 1949-50. For purposes of determining the borrowing programme for 1949-50, however, the Loan Council decided to make an overall cut of 23 per cent. in the works programme and to review the position again in January, 1950, in the light of the progress made by that time in the implementation of the works programme. The borrowing programme for 1949-50 approved by the Loan Council for housing purposes under this agreement is therefore limited to £13,100,000. It will be appreciated, therefore, that Loan Council approval will be required if it proves necessary to extend the borrowings for this purpose beyond £13,100,000. I should add that Parliament is being asked to authorize the appropriation of the full amount of £17,000,000 at this stage in order to ensure that any action which may subsequently be required, having regard to the Loan Council decision in relation to borrowings for these housing advances to the States, may not be delayed by the lack of adequate appropriation by the Parliament.
To the end of June, 1949, 32,609 dwellings were commenced under the agreement in the five States operating under it. Of these, 23,014 had been completed and 9,595 were under construction at the 30th June, 1949. Completions during the year ended the 30th June, 1949, were 7,743, an increase of over 21 per cent. on the completions for the previous year. Of these, 2,363, representing 30 per cent., were in country areas. The agreement is primarily designed to bring homes of good standard within the reach of persons of small means. This purpose is achieved by the provision of rental rebates, under which families whose incomes equal the basic wage do not have to pay more than one-fifth of their income in rent whatever may be the economic rent of the dwelling they occupy. As the family income rises above the basic wage, or falls below it, the amount of rebate decreases or increases. The total amount of rental rebates granted up to the 30th June, 1949, was £132,211. The agreement makes provision for a tenant, if he wishes, to purchase the home which he occupies. The States are, of course, principals under the agreement and they determine the basis of sale. Commonwealth approval is necessary only if a State should desire to sell a house below capital cost. An important feature of the agreement in the present circumstances of an acute housing shortage is that all dwellings must be allotted in accordance with the relative needs of applicants and that at least50 per cent. must go to exservicemen. In practice, the proportion allotted by States to ex-servicemen and their dependants, has averaged 65 per cent.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Harrison) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
Motion (by Mr. Ward) proposed -
That the foregoing message be taken into consideration, in Committee of the whole House, forthwith.
– Debate was proceeding this afternoon in the House on a matter of importance affecting the position of the Chair. I was asked, as Leader of the Opposition, whether there would be any objection to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) intervening at 8 o’clock in the course of that debate in order to make an important statement on immigration. I said that I had no objection to that whatever. I certainly understood that, when that statement had been made, we should return to the business before the Chair. There was one interruption with a bill in relation to housing. Now, apparently, there is to he another, and I must say that it is completely inconsistent with the proposal that was put before me.
– The Chair is called upon to state the position. I understand that at the conclusion of the introduction of these two short bills the interrupted debate, to which the Leader of the Opposition has referred, will be resumed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Ward) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the Commonwealth Aid Roads and Works Act 1947-1948.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Ward and Mr. Calwell do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Ward, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the bill is to amend the Commonwealth Aid Roads and Works Act 1947-1948, to provide for the granting of an additional £1,000,000 to the States for roads in sparsely populated areas, timber country and rural areas. The bill is further evidence of this Government’s recognition of the conditions and difficulties faced by people who live away from the capital cities and big towns, and the amount now provided will bring the total assistance granted by this Government for this particular section of the community to £3,000,000 for the current financial year. I think it advisable to mention, however, that the Australian Government is not quite satisfied that the work for which it has provided the money is being carried out as expeditiously or effectively as it expected. As honorable members know, the bill, when passed, will bring the Commonwealth contribution for this purpose to £6,000,000 in the last three financial years. Under the grant for last year, I approved of funds being made available to no less than 581 local government areas. There has been some delay in receiving all returns of actual expenditure from the States, but those that are available indicate that there are grounds for some concern by the Government that the money so provided for people in the outback areas is not being spent by the State road authorities and the local government bodies as quickly as could be desired. 1 am aware, of course, that there are real difficulties, such as shortage of labour and materials and, in some States, the difficulty of obtaining road-making plant, but, taking everything into consideration, the cause for our concern still stands. Action is being taken by my .department to establish a. close liaison with the State road authorities to see that the intentions of this Parliament are carried into effect.
When speaking on the matter of general assistance by the Commonwealth to the States for road construction and maintenance, it is appropriate to review the history and current position of these grants. As honorable members are aware, the first Commonwealth grant for roads was made to the States in 1922-23, the grant at that time being £500,000. “By 1925-26 the amount had increased to £750,000 but was restricted to developmental projects. In 1926 the system of yearly grants was replaced by the Federal Aid Roads Act, under which the fixed sum of £2,000,000 per annum was made available. In 1931, however, this was amended to provide a different basis upon which allocations were made and this practice continued until 1937. At that time, the Federal Aid Roads and Works Act 1937, was introduced, and this operated for a period of ten years. In turn this was replaced by the current act which, as I have indicated, has been amended during the life of this Parliament, to provide additional funds.
The House and the public of Australia will be interested to know how sympathetically and practically this Government has assisted the States. In 1938-39 the money provided under the various sections of the Commonwealth act was approximately £4,250,000. In 1946-47, after the termination of the war, £4:800,000 was provided and’ in 1947-48 this was again increased to approximately £6,000,000. In 1948-49 the aid was approximately £7,200,000 and, if the Parliament agrees to the present proposal, the current financial year should bring the Commonwealth aid to the States to approximately £8,500,000. This latter figure does not include the sum of £500,000 provided for roads of access to Commonwealth properties and for strategic roads under section 7 of the act. The provision of funds by this Government is a very real contribution towards solving the road problems of the Commonwealth. The States themselves, however, must have some regard to the precautions which are necessary to preserve the assets created or maintained to a large extent by the assist ance they receive from this Government. I am referring to the ever-increasing trend for heavier and unrestricted loads .to be carried by road transport. This is resulting in serious deterioration in the condition of the roads. As honorable members know, this is not a problem peculiar to Australia. It is common throughout the world, and in the United States of America it is a vital problem to-day. As an illustration of the damage that can be caused by lack of proper control over these matters, I cite only one case where recently in the United States of America a vehicle carrying a record overload of 87,000 lb. in one single trip caused road damage to the extent of 15,000 dollars. This problem has been receiving the attention of the various transport authorities for some time and, as the House is aware, the Australian Transport Advisory Council has set up an Australian Motor Vehicle Standards Committee of technical experts to prepare advice on the best methods of controlling and designing limits in vehicle construction, taking load factors into consideration. Every endeavour will be mad’e by the Government to ensure as far as possible that the recommendations of the Australian Motor Vehicle Standards Committee are adopted by the various States. There can be no argument against this Government requiring that assets thus created or maintained by Commonwealth assistance should be protected against deterioration or damage in the way I have described- I am sure that this measure of assistance to those people who have to forgo many amenities because of inadequate road facilities will receive the wholehearted support of this House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. McDonald) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 139).
– I am sure that we have all been very interested in the debate that has occurred1 on the motion of want of confidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker. Opposition members must admit that they have had a good opportunity, having been “ on the air “ all the afternoon, to vent what they consider they should say about the rulings that you have given, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I say right away that some of -your rulings have appeared to me to be very harsh, but honorable members must look at the position to see the cause of the rulings that have been given. I had fairly long experience in the House of Assembly in South Australia, under a very fine Speaker, and I was in opposition for many years. There were occasions when we got “ hot under the collar “ about some of the rulings of the Speaker, just as honorable members of the Opposition get “ hot under the collar “ about some of the rulings that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, give. Sometimes we were inclined to jump off the deep end, as it were, and make remarks that were not strictly in accordance with the Standing Orders.
This motion of want of confidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker is the result of a series of incidents on the 17th November, 1948, when the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) and the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) were named and suspended. All honorable members will agree that since the inception of parliamentary broadcasts, it has been necessary for the occupant of the chair to keep a tighter rein on honorable members. Members of the public who listen regularly to the broadcasts have complained to me of the manner in which honorable members behave when another honorable member is speaking. In those circumstances, we should appreciate the difficulty of Mr. Deputy Speaker in maintaining order and decorum in the chamber. The suspension of the honorable member for Richmond did not come like a bolt from the blue, but resulted from a growing determination by honorable members opposite to take the utmost latitude that the Standing Orders allow. Honorable members opposite have complained during this debate of Mr. Deputy Speaker’s interpretation of the Standing Orders from time to time. If Mr. Deputy Speaker were to interpret the Standing Orders strictly, honorable members would be considerably more circumscribed in debate than they have been up to date. On many occasions honorable members have been granted the greatest possible latitude, and Mr. Deputy Speaker has shown ifr. Thompson. remarkable forbearance towards those whose conduct has been unruly. Some honorable members have expected that conduct which has not been parliamentary would be condoned. A series of incidents may culminate in the suspension of an honorable member. The situation may be likened to the last straw that breaks the camel’s back. An isolated incident rarely results in the suspension of an honorable member. He is usually named following a series of incidents in which he, and perhaps others, try to take advantage of the Chair. I shall cite an instance. This afternoon, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) tried to make a farce of the proceedings. The honorable gentleman will agree that his remark about endeavouring, by ridicule, to prevent a repetition of these incidents sums up his contribution to the debate on this motion. From time to time, the honorable member severely tests the patience of the occupant of the chair.
– Ridicule is not forbidden under the Standing Orders.
– I am speaking, not of ridicule generally, but of the tenorof the speech that the honorable member for Balaclava made this afternoon. I invite him to read the Hansard report of it, and I am sure that he will chuckle at his amusing remarks.
The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), who submitted this motion of want of confidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker, is not always careful about the way in which he refers to other people. He is not reluctant to go as far as he possibly can in expressing his views. I consider that, at times, the occupant of the chair is most lenient towards him.
– I have not noticed it.
– Possibly there are occasions when Mr. Deputy Speaker is very lenient towards me. Honorable members complain that Mr. Deputy Speaker is too harsh, and does not give them a chance. If they will consider the position fairly, they will find that they are responsible for what happens. Some honorable member have been suspended on more than one occasion. Indeed, they seem prone to be suspended.
– That is not true.
– The large .majority of honorable members have not been suspended because when they are called to order by Mr. Deputy Speaker, they obey the Chair. But when an honorable member attempts to defy the Chair, he must accept the consequences. The honorable member for Warringah made out a good case regarding the Standing Orders. However, I shall not condemn Mr. Deputy Speaker because of the occurrence which the honorable member for Warringah has cited. Mr. Deputy Speaker has called certain honorable members to order a number of times before he has named them. I do not include the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) in these remarks. However, some honorable members were continually warned by the Chair that if they persisted in their conduct, they would have to accept the consequences. These occurrences have not been rare. Certain honorable members opposite consistently take the greatest advantage of the Standing Orders that they can but ultimately, Mr. Deputy Speaker’s patience becomes exhausted. Their suspension is the result, not of an isolated incident, but of a culmination of events.
– No Government supporter has been suspended during the last Three years.
– Supporters of the Labour party have been suspended by Mr. Speaker when an anti-Labour government has been in office. I have not examined the records to ascertain whether more Labour party supporters have been suspended than members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party.
– When we were in office, the House suspended a Minister.
– I have a fellow feeling for the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), because as the chairman of various organizations in South Australia, I have had to take action against members for whom I had great regard. I do not think that members of the Opposition expect that the House will agree to this motion of want of confidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker. But the debate has allowed them to voice their views about the manner in which the occupant of the
Chair has interpreted the Standing Orders.
– We do not expect to get any further than that.
– The honorable member for Parramatta agrees with me.
– The debate allows us to tell the public about the position.
– The purpose of the motion, then, is to enable members of the Opposition to convey to the public their grievances about Mr. Deputy Speaker. 1 shall be candid with the honorable gentleman. Because I considered that the Opposition was getting more than a fair proportion of the publicity, I intervened in the debate to state the other view. I do not think that honorable members opposite expect members of the Parliamentary Labour party, who nominated the honorable member for Darling as Mr. Deputy Speaker, to desert him now. Honorable members opposite have claimed that Mr. Deputy Speaker would be protected by the Australian Labour party no matter what he did whilst in the chair. However, if he were to do things that the Government considered to be wrong, or to the detriment of the Parliament, which warranted his removal from office, the Government would take the required action. Honorable members on the Government side of the House are in a “ box seat “ so far as this matter is concerned. An honorable member opposite - I think the honorable member for Warringah - referred to an occasion in 1935 when the late Mr. John Curtin moved a censure motion on the Chairman of Committees. Although T cannot recollect the details of the voting on that occasion, I do not doubt that honorable members of the non-Labour Government then in office would have voted against the motion. No matter what the Chairman of Committees had put forward they would endeavour to vindicate him irrespective of the opinions of honorable members sitting in Opposition. The motion that has been moved by the honorable member for Wentworth reads -
That this House has no further confidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker on the grounds -
Honorable members opposite will be interested to learn that on numerous occasions I have heard Government members complain that the Opposition has received preferential treatment. In their view, in many instances, Mr. Speaker, or Mr. Deputy Speaker, has shown marked partiality towards members of the Opposition. At times even Ministers have been “ sore “ because they have not received from the Chair that consideration to which they thought that they were entitled. If, as honorable members opposite have claimed, the Chair had been unduly partial towards Government members, surely those complaints would not have been voiced. Although Government members have not been suspended, there have been many occasions when they considered that Mr. Deputy Speaker had been less lenient with them than he should have been. I do not think that honorable members opposite can support the charge of “ serious partiality “. In fairness, the honorable member for “Warringah did not emphasize the alleged partiality of Mr. Deputy Speaker. I think that the honorable member for Warringah is the only member of the Opposition who has spoken on this motion who has advanced a real case. However, despite his criticism, I am convinced that Mr. Deputy Speaker has been most generous to the Opposition on many occasions. Members of the Opposition have claimed also that Government members have been permitted with impunity to make comments of a nasty nature relating to the Opposition. Since I have been a member of the Parliament, however, I have heard more nasty criticisms made by honorable members opposite than by members occupying the Government benches.
– The honorable member must be deaf in the left ear.
– Perhaps I may be a little hard of hearing in one ear, but I still manage to balance matters very well. On that score I do not consider that the Opposition have much to complain about. The second ground stated in the motion reads -
That is a very serious charge for the honorable member for Wentworth to make, and it has not been supported. If honorable members opposite wish the people of this country to believe that charge, they should advance statements of fact to substantiate it. What is meant by the phrase “merely as the instrument of the Labour party”? My experience has been that Mr. Deputy Speaker has been strictly fair in the matter of giving the call to honorable members on both sides of the House. It cannot be justly claimed that he has always deliberately given the call to Government members in preference to honorable members opposite. Although the honorable member for Parramatta has asserted that he has not always received the call when he was entitled to it, I point out that Government members also have not at all times received the call when they expected it. Of course, the honorable member for Parramatta may be quite right in his assertion; but I remind honorable members that on many occasions Government members have been kept waiting for a call whilst Opposition members have been given the opportunity to ask questions or address the House. I consider that the charge of partiality in this connexion could not be sustained. The third ground stated in the motion reads -
In that connexion I must say in fairness that my opinion of the meaning of the Standing Orders does not always coincide with the interpretation placed on them by Mr. Deputy Speaker.
– In that case the honorable member should come across to this side of the House.
– Surely the honorable member for Wentworth would not transfer to the Government side of the House merely because he agreed with an isolated contention of mine? I point out that no matter who occupies the chair there will always be occasions when some honorable members will not agree with his interpretation of the Standing Orders. To contend that Mr. Deputy Speaker should not further enjoy the confidence of this House on the ground that some honorable members do not agree entirely with his interpretation of the Standing Orders is ridiculous. I can recall occasions when I have been present as a spectator in other assemblies when the Chairman’s interpretation of the Standing Orders of those assemblies was not in accordance with my thoughts. In any recognized assembly there must always be differences of opinion about the meaning and intention of the rules governing that assembly. The fourth ground advanced by the honorable member for Wentworth in support of his motion reads -
That is a matter of opinion. It is something that we have to abide by. I- remind honorable members opposite that whenever a bad deal is made cither by the Government or the Opposition, we have to stand by it. If while the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) were absent his deputy did something which showed that he was incompetent, honorable members opposite would have to grin and bear it.
– I am glad that the honorable member acknowledges that fact.
– I remember on one occasion, when the honorable member for Wentworth was Acting Leader of the Opposition during the absence of the right honorable member for Kooyong, he referred to another honorable member as a “ junior “. I remind the honorable member for Wentworth that although he, himself, is junior to the Leader of the Opposition, we do not consider that he is not the right man to put a case for the Opposition.
If I had my way, the Standing Orders would provideforthe immediate determination of disputesregarding rulings from the Chair,but ourpresent Standing Orders make nosuch provision, Honor- able gentlemenopposite have nowbeen ableto say what they were not able to say when theoccasion arose. Iam sure that Mr. Deputy Speaker,having listened to what theyhavesaid, willgivegreat consideration to their remarks.If he comes to theconclusionthat theyhave made out acase whichshows that he haserred, I am surethathe will be man enough to realize that perhaps he was a little too harsh with them.
I support the amendment to the motion that has been moved. The honorable member for Warringah read the part of the amendment which refers to the determination of the House to uphold the dignity and authority of the Chair and said that the Opposition supported that portion of it. I do not support the motion that has been proposed. I think that if we were to accept it we should lower the dignity of the Parliament. If the members of the Labour party, as a party, voted for the motion, after allowing Mr. Deputy Speaker to remain in occupation of the chair since last December, we should not be worthy of our places here.
– You are not.
– Whether I am worthy of my place in the Parliament is a matter of opinion. At the last general election more Australian people thought that I was worthy to represent them in this chamber than was the case in respect of any other honorable member. My worthiness to be a member of the Parliament is a matter that is determined by the electors. I am here to do what I believe to be best in the interests of the people, and I consider that it would not be in the best interests of the people to vote for this motion. I believe that, in the interests of democracy and our parliamentary system, it is right and proper that honorable members opposite should have had an opportunity to air their grievances regarding the way in which Mr. Deputy Speaker has acted, but, now that they have done so, I shall vote against the motion.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. ‘Thompson) has introduced into this debate an air of geniality fhat I admire very much. I ratherthought thatthe honorablegentleman was going to conclude his remarks by suggesting that it would be satisfactory to all partiesif the motion and the amendment were withdrawn andwe each paid our owncosts. Iam sorry if I disappoint himwhen Isay that I unhesitatinglyand completely support the motion that has been proposed by thehonorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison). I agree that it is very unfortunate that such a motion should stand on the notice-paper of any British parliament, hut it is even more unfortunate that it should have stood on the notice-paper, undisposed of, for the better part of a year.
The motion contains very grave charges. They are charges of incompetence, partiality and misconception by Mr. Deputy Speaker of his duties and his standing in this House. The charges may not be cumulative. It may be that what has been described by one speaker a incompetence has turned out to be a failure by Mr. Deputy Speaker to understand his own position. It may be that what has been charged as partiality has proved to be, upon examination, mere incompetence. But whichever way the motion is analysed, these charges, as everybody in Australia who has followed the course of debate in this House knows, are true. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), with a most unexpected flash of humour, has moved an amendment to the motion. It is a silly sort of thing which, as has been pointed out, is the opposite of the motion and is designed apparently to procure not only an acquittal but also a testimonial of character - a testimonial to which few honorable gentlemen opposite would subscribe if they were not in the position that has been so admirably defined by the honorable member for Hindmarsh as having to stick like brothers to the man that they have put into the chair.
The whole argument is based upon a consideration of the Standing Orders of the Parliament. Those Standing Orders, fairly administered, have three great virtues in a parliamentary democracy. First, they guarantee the orderly conduct of the business of the Parliament. Secondly, they protect the rights and privileges of members. I remind the House that those rights and privileges were not acquired automatically but have had to be struggled for by our predecessors over the course of centuries in the interests of the people. The Standing Orders are for the protection of the rights and privileges of members. Thirdly, because they exist in that sense, they constitute, if fairly administered, an assurance of the basic right of the electors to have their grievances represented and their views expressed in the Parliament by the member of their choice. Therefore, there is one justification for Standing Orders, fairly administered, that relates to business, and another that relates to their relationship to the whole foundation of parliamentary democracy. We have a standing order that relates to the use of offensive expressions by members and other.-, which enable members to take points of order or to submit motions to the House. It is upon the scrupulous and fair observance of those Standing Orders that the whole decent business of .parliament is postulated. They must be scrupulously observed and fairly administered.
The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke) made a thoughtful contribution to the debate, as he always does. In the course of his speech be said that it is quite true that a ruling may be given which honorable members think to be wrong, but if that occurs they have their remedy. The honorable gentleman said that the power to challenge a ruling of the Chair is quite adequate, and that the existence of the power of challenge by a motion to disagree with the ruling renders a personal challenge to the Chair by a motion of no confidence quite unnecessary. That was the process of reasoning of the honorable member for Perth. But that reasoning falls to pieces unless it can be shown that the power to challenge a ruling by moving that it be disagreed with is a sufficient one. I ask honorable members to remember this: Whenever a ruling is given and an honorable member rises in his place to move that the ruling be dissented from, everybody knows instantaneously that the proceeding is a formality. One or two members will have an opportunity to say why they consider the ruling to be wrong; but when the vote is taken it will be on strict party lines. I say to the honorable member for Hindmarsh, with all his blandishments on this matter, that if an honorable member on this side of the House moved dissent from a ruling given by Mr. Speaker or Mr. Deputy Speaker, and the honorable member for Hindmarsh thought that the honorable member who moved the dissent was right in his interpretation of the rules, he would still rote against the motion, because the whole matter is regarded as a mere party matter.
– By both sides of the House.
– The honorable member does not attempt to deny the truth of that statement. The position I have mentioned is fantastic. The rulings of the Chair are either pronouncements by a party politician, in which case the Chair has forfeited all privilege in this House ; or they are objective interpretations of the Standing Orders of the House. If they are objective interpretations of the Standing Orders, then I am unable to understand why nobody on the other side of the House ever has the same view as I have about whether an interpretation is right or wrong. It is unfortunate that this is a party matter. The Labour party says, in effect, “ It is our Speaker who gave the ruling, and therefore we must uphold him “. On that basis, every ruling given by the occupant of the chair during this Government’s term of office is right, and every objection taken by a private member to a ruling is wrong. Therefore, the whole case advanced by the honorable member for Perth falls to the ground. He has said that it is unnecessary to attack the occupant of the chair because honorable members have their remedy under the Standing Orders. I say that the standing order that covers this matter has been made a completely dead letter by the party now in office.
– I have had a motion of dissent from Mr. .Speaker’s ruling on the notice-paper for a very long time.
– The honorable member for Perth said, referring to the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) -
The honorable member for .Richmond has not quoted any specific incident to show Mr. Deputy Speaker’s partiality.
He accused the honorable member for Richmond of speaking in the general. All right, I shall speak in the particular, with the greatest possible goodwill. I shall now proceed to remind this House of an incident that provides the most conclusive proof of the indictment contained in the motion submitted by the honorable member for Wentwortb. Honorable members will recall that I said a few minutes ago that the very root of orderly debate and good decent conduct in this House is Standing Order 272 which reads -
No Member shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any Member thereof, or against any Statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal, and all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.
There is no ambiguity about that Standing Order. Nobody needs to have the wisdom of either Solon or Solomon to be able to understand the language used in it. The effect of Standing Order 272 is that imputations against and personal reflections on honorable members are out of order. They are, instantly they have been pronounced, breaches of the Standing Orders of this House, and I have no hesitation in saying that any presiding officer of this House who conscientiously does his duty will deal with imputations and allegations of offensive conduct without waiting for any honorable member to rise in his place to object to them. It is the duty of the Chair to enforce the Standing Orders. It is because there has been a failure on the part of the Chair to enforce Standing Order 272 that we have had scenes in this House and exchanges of remarks that do no credit to the House. Yet there is the standing order as plain as it can be! How is it interpreted ? I say to the honorable member for Hindmarsh that he can take his choice between gross impartiality or gross incompetence in the example I shall now give, because it is one or the other. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) delivered himself of an attack in this House on the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann). He was dealing with the honorable member for Maranoa in relation to his position as a member of the Parliament and as chairman of the Queensland Peanut Board, a post to which, by the way, it is interesting to note, in view of the Minister’s allegations, the honorable member for Maranoa has been re-elected by 351 votes out of 400. In the course of his attack the Minister said that the honorable member for Maranoa helped to organize a co-operative trading society during an flection ; and that he used the services of his ‘parliamentary secretary while doing so, and that when the election was over and the honorable member had got all the votes that he wanted he promptly reacted favorably to the crack of the whip of Dalgety and Company Limited and the shareholders of the co-operative society lost their money.
I put it to the honorable member for Hindmarsh, was that an imputation of improper conduct? Was that a breach of Standing . Order 272? Am I to understand1 that to accuse a public man of common cheating - because that was what the allegation was - is not to use offensive words against him, not to make imputations of improper motives against him or personal reflections on him? Of course, the matter could not be argued about for one moment. The honorable member for Hindmarsh would not argue about it for one moment. The honorable member for Maranoa said in reply to the Minister for Immigration -
That is a He.
I ask the honorable member for Maranoa to withdraw the expression “lie”. It ie un parliamentary.
The honorable member for Maranoa promptly said -
I withdraw the unparliamentary expression. I ask that the Minister be instructed to withdraw his statement regarding the organizing of a co-operative society. It is offensive to me.
The Minister is entitled to make his speech in his own way. I shall not allow him to be interrupted while doing so.
That was an outrageous ruling. Honorable members on the Government side can take their choice. That ruling was either the outcome of the grossest incompetence or the most shameless partiality. As I said on an earlier occasion, apparently Mr. Deputy Speaker’s attitude is that the Standing Orders of this House as he interprets them mean that you may not call a man a liar in four letters, but you may call him any kind of fraudulent rogue in four sentences and get away with it. To call him a fraudulent rogue in four sentences is no breach of Standing Order 272, but to say, “It’s a lie” must be at once rebuked. I should like to hear some one from the Government side of the House explain that mystery to me, and explain how it is that this man, who is inevitably to ‘receive a vote of confidence as a handsome testimonial from the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction could be justified in meting out such treatment to the honorable member for Maranoa. The Minister for Immigration, encouraged by this singular act of favour from the Chair, because that is what it was, continued -
The gentleman to whom I have referred also said that the honorable member lor Maranoa used his position as chairman of the Peanut Board to urge a head grader to class his thirdgrade peanuts as first-grade nuts, and that when the grader refused to do so he was sacked.
What do honorable members, and the people of Australia, think about an allegation of that kind? Is the honorable member for Hindmarsh going home to explain that to accuse a man of such mean and contemptible conduct is not a reflection upon him? The honorable member for Maranoa repeated -
I ask for a withdrawal of that statement. It is offensive to me.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, in a ruling which I say could not honestly have been made, said -
The statement was not unparliamentary. I shall deal with any honorable member who does not allow the Minister to make hie speech without interruption.
I again quote the standing order -
No member shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any Member thereof, or against any statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal, and all imputations of improper motives and all. personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.
Honorable members opposite know what happened in that case. They asked for an illustration, and I have given one,, citing chapter and verse. Nevertheless, honorable members opposite, with the recollection of those words- in their minds, will in an hour or so vote that MrDeputy Speaker has upheld the dignity of the Parliament and behaved with impartiality. I say that his conduct has been calculated to lower the standards of this. Parliament in the eyes of the public. His conduct is more deliberately calculated to .deny justice to honorable members than anything else I can remember in all my time in Parliament.
– The motion before the Chair. and the amendment which has been moved to it, arise out of an incident which occurred some time last year. I think it occurred while the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) was absent from this Parliament.
– I was absent from Australia.
– The Leader of the Opposition was, I think, in England. Consequently, he knows nothing of the atmosphere which prevailed at the time. He knows nothing of the organized interruption which occurred, and nothing of the ganging-up which took place bv honorable members opposite who, in their stupid arrogance, thought that they, although a minority, could dictate to the majority, and browbeat Mr. Deputy Speaker into allowing them to do as they liked. Who has been suspended by Mr. Deputy Speaker ? In the first session of the Eighteenth Parliament, Mr. Deputy Speaker, who has been attacked «o vigorously this evening, suspended the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison). He was suspended on the 18th September, 1947, for reflecting on the Chair. Has an honorable member any right to reflect on the Chair? He was given his opportunity to withdraw the reflection, and to set himself at peace with the Chair, but he deliberately refused to make amends. It was only after he had been asked several times to withdraw the reflection that he was named. What could he expect? What could the Leader of the House do but to move that the ruling of Mr. Deputy Speaker be upheld? The next honorable member to be dealt with for disregarding the authority of the Chair - and that was the specific offence - was another deputy leader - the Deputy Leader of the Aus tralian Country party (Mr. McEwen). He was dealt with on the 5th November, 1947. He not only wanted to blow up Mr. Deputy Speaker; he also wanted to destroy the Parliament in the best traditions of Guy Fawkes who operated on that date in an earlier time. What ground have honorable members opposite for attacking and abusing Mr. Deputy Speaker for his action on that occasion? In the next session, on the 23rd November, 1948, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) was suspended for using an offensive expression to the Chair. Does he think that Mr. Deputy Speaker should have apologized to him, or that he should not have dealt with him ? He was asked to withdraw the offensive expression.
– I was not asked to withdraw it.
– It may be that the honorable member was dealt with a little harshly, but he was not dealt with unfairly. No honorable member has a right to use offensive expressions to the Chair. The’ Chair must be the judge of what is offensive. On the 17th November, 1948, there occurred the incident out of which the present motion arose. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) raised a point of order, and persisted with his objections when told to desist.
– Quite right.
– He was removed foi’ disregarding the authority of the Chair. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) said “Quite right”.
– I said that he was quite right. He was supporting my speech.
– Most honorable members, I think, would say that he was quite wrong if he was supporting the speech of the honorable member for Balaclava. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) took up the running after the honorable member for Richmond was removed. He continued to raise objection after objection, and was removed for disregarding the authority of the Chair. Then, not to be outdone, and not to be beaten in the race for the leadership of his party, the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) came into the debate. He rather weakly, and of course without knowing anything about the Standing Orders, attempted to disregard the authority of the Chair. He raised his points, such as they were, and Mr. Deputy Speaker told him to desist. He refused to do so, and he was dealt with. The honorable member for Parramatta is lucky to have been thrown out of the House only once. His conduct has been such that he deserved to be thrown out twenty times. He has all the arrogance of his police court manner about him, and tries to dictate to Ministers and to the Chair. If, unfortunately, he should ever sit on this side of the chamber he might have some right to attempt to impose bis will, but be has no right to do so from where he is sitting now. I pass over the unfortunate incident when the Leader of the Opposition was suspended on the 1st June this year for persistently interjecting. I felt, as most honorable members felt, that that was an unfortunate incident. I certainly did not want to see the Leader of the Opposition dealt with on that evening; but it must be said in justification of the attitude adopted by Mr. Deputy Speaker that he was following in the tradition set by Mr. Speaker Rosevear, which is different from that adopted by previous Speakers. In earlier parliaments, honorable members were given the opportunity to apologize to the Chair after they were named ; but the attack to-night is being made not upon Mr. Speaker Rosevear but upon Mr. Deputy Speaker.
– It is being made upon the whole set-up.
– No; honorable members opposite hypocritically pretend that they have been harshly dealt with. I am a pretty keen student of parliamentary history and I know of only one occasion in the lifetime of the Federation on which a government member was suspended on Mr. Speaker’s ruling, and he was the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), who was suspended when he was a Minister. But on that occasion did the Leader of the Government say that Mr. Speaker was wrong? The then Prime Minister supported Mr. Speaker’s ruling and, I understand, moved for the suspension of the honorable member for Barker, who was duly suspended and he went out. I should like honorable members opposite to let me know of any other occasion sinceFederation on which any other Government member has been, suspended. They may say that some Government members should have been suspended, but in my experience in three parliaments I have never known a Government member to refuse to withdraw when called upon to do so; and Ministers as well as private members on this side of the House have been called upon to withdraw during the lifetime of this Parliament as well as that of previous parliaments.
– What about Mr. AlbertLane when he was member for Barton ?
– That may be another instance, and I invite honorable members opposite to mention any other similar instances. I have transgressed Standing Orders; and, as I have said on one otheroccasion, “May the Lord forgive me for my sins of omission and commission “, but I am not the only one. Honorable members sitting in all parts of the chamber have offended, but when attention has been drawn to their offence they haveobeyed the Chair, as they are in duty bound to do, not only under the Standing Orders, but also by the canons of good conduct. I have never refused to do so. Honorable members opposite have got themselves into trouble because they have persistently refused to withdraw. The honorable member for Balaclava, who is interjecting now, has been suspended for disorderly conduct. Of course, there have been occasions when he was discreet because he knew that if he were suspended a second time he would be suspended for a week and the beautiful speech he had prepared would remain undelivered. In such circumstances he was amenable to the Chair. But honorable members should be actuated by a better motive than that. There have been occasions in previous parliaments when honorable members have been named. I remember being named by the late Mr. Prowse when he was Chairman of Committees. I did not know what I had done to offend the Chair except that I had interjected, and I was not a persistent interjector. I duly apologized and remained in the chamber.
Had there not been the organized interruption that occurred on the 17th
November last year three honorable members would not have been suspended, and, consequently, we would not have heard all the abusive epithets that have been hurled across the chamber to-night. I ask any honorable member opposite who has studied the history of the House of Commons if he can tell me of any government member who has been suspended, for disorderly conduct, by the Speaker of the House of Commons. There have been occasions, of course, when anti-Labour Speakers in this Parliament have exercised their authority rather ruthlessly in order to keep their governments in office. One such Speaker was Mr. Speaker Johnson, when the government of the day - the Cook Government - had a majority of one in the Parliament. At that time pretty ruthless treatment was meted out to Labour members. But Labour members, when such attacks are made upon them, do not “ squeal “ and do not voice loud and continuous complaints about the conduct of Mr. Speaker. Honorable members opposite now allege that Mr. Deputy Speaker has acted partially in the discharge of his duties. Mr. Deputy Speaker is as human and as frail as any of us. There have been occasions when I have felt that I have been hampered in the expression of my views because he has yielded to the clamour of honorable members opposite and, for the sake of peace, he has asked me to desist from a certain line of argument. On one occasion, when I was quoting from a speech made by the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) in the Senate, dealing with the very bill under discussion at the time in this chamber, I was told that I could not pursue such a line of argument. I informed Mr. Deputy Speaker that I was quoting from a speech made by the Minister in another place and I was then told that although the Standing Orders of the Senate permitted that line of approach the Standing Orders of this House did not do so. T accepted that ruling.
In all matters of this kind there must be some umpire. I never knew a football team which did not feel that the umpire had missed some point or had not dealt fairly with somebody; but in the end nobody complains about the umpiring of football matches, whether the game be rugby, soccer or the great Australian game of which I am a devotee. The Leader of the Opposition quoted a speech in which I allegedly made a reflection upon the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann), but the Leader of the Opposition, who is a very able advocate said nothing about the attack that was made upon him in 1939 by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). If what I said about the honorable member for Maranoa was out of order was the Speaker of that day guilty of gross partiality in allowing the right honorable member for Cowper, who was then Prime Minister, to attack the present Leader of the Opposition and in failing to demand a withdrawal ? There was no complaint on that occasion that Mr. Speaker Bell was partial or incompetent. The Leader of the Opposition selects particular instances which he believes will bolster up his case, but he is not now appearing as an advocate in the police court or arguing a particular point of law in ihe High Court. He is now in the Parliament of the nation dealing with the conduct of Mr. Deputy Speaker and the latter’s interpretation of the Standing Orders. It is the duty of the Chair to enforce Standing Orders. Nobody disputes that. Standing Order 272, which has been quoted, forbids reflections of any kind upon an honorable member by another honorable member.
– And it is not a bad Standing Order.
– That is so. I suppose that I have offended in this connexion ; but, at the same time, I have been the butt of many attacks by honorable members opposite and I have not heard the offence denounced by other honorable members sitting on the same benches nor have they attempted to protect me against such attacks. The Leader of the Opposition did not rise in his place in high dudgeon last evening when the honorable member for Wentworth made a brutal attack upon the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward), who had been vindicated by a royal commission. The honorable member for Wentworth said that he had in his possession a letter allegedly written to him by the foreman of a jury saying that he and others on the jury wanted to find the Minister guilty at the time that they found Garden guilty.
– I rise to order. The Minister’s remark is offensive to me. Such a statement was never made by me. I ask that the Minister be called upon to withdraw.
– The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) has his redress if he thinks that he has been misrepresented’.
– The Minister’s remarks are offensive to me, and I ask that they be withdrawn.
– Order ! The Minister’s remarks were not unparliamentary and he may continue.
– If the honorable member for Wentworth will repeat his remark of last evening later, I shall accept, it in substitution for what I have said. I have given my clear interpretation of what the honorable member did say. That interpretation would be placed on his remarks by every honorable member on this side of the. House. It was that very remark which brought me to my feet in defence of my colleague. No matter how much honorable members opposite or people outside the House may disagree with the politics of the Minister for External Territories, he is one of the cleanest men to come into this Parliament or into any parliament. The honorable member for Wentworth spoke about a letter which he had received from the foreman of a jury-
– Of course I did.
– Then the honorable member had no right to talk about it.
– I had every right to do so.
– It was a disgraceful thing for the honorable member to say that he had received a letter from the foreman of a jury.
– Order ! The Minister is not in order in referring to a previous debate.
– I accept your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
– Why do you nOt kiss him?
– I observe a standard of conduct which honorable: members opposite would do well to emulate. If they obeyed the rulings of the Chair as readily as I do, they would not be- in trouble, and be suspended from this House, and there would be no motion condemning the Chair on the ground of partiality or incompetence to take up the time of this House. There have been occasions too numerous to mention where honorable members on this side of the House have been reflected on sneeringly and contemptuously by honorable members opposite. I think that the honorable member for Balaclava on one occasion referred to me as the “ Minister for Misinformation “. That was only a minor offence; but it indicates that the honorable member thinks that he can do that sort of thing and not be asked to make amends by Mr. Deputy Speaker, who is charged1 with maintaining order and the proper conduct of debates. While this discussion has been proceeding, the honorable member for Warringah insulted the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman). The honorable member said that he did not mind an Australian explaining the Standing Orders, but he took exception to a displaced Scotsman doing so. Why was that remark made? Was it intended as a compliment- or as a sneer ? The Minister for Defence did not have the great good fortune that many of us enjoy of having been born under the Southern Cross, but he is a magnificent Australian by adoption. Indeed, he is a much better Australian by adoption than are a great many of those persons who have had the good fortune to be born in Australia. These attempts to besmirch and smear a Minister on the ground’ of his birth are objectionable and contemptuous. I have heard honorable members opposite sneer at the honorable member for Watson (Mr. t Falstein) because of his race and faith. I have heard some of the most despicable things said across the chamber by interjection about, the honorable member. Honorable members opposite think that they should not pay the penalty if the Chair takes exception to their conduct and demands a withdrawal. They have not set a good example in these matters. In the past they governed this country for so long that they think that, like the departed Stuarts, they have a divine authority to do so. They do not tike being in Opposition. They do not like being rejected by the people. They think that even though they form the minority they have a right to impose their will in this Parliament. There is a certain nastiness, a sense of frustration underlying the whole of this propaganda against Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not agree with everything that he does in the chair. I do not think that all his rulings are sound, but I do think that he is animated by an honest intention to do the right thing. I do not think that he is incompetent. On the contrary I regard him as being as competent as any Speaker or Deputy Speaker who has come from the Opposition ranks, and as any Chairman of Committees who has acted as Mr. Speaker in any earlier parliament when the non-Labour parties were in power. He does not deserve the sneers that have been directed against him. If he feels obliged to tell me that I am transgressing the Standing Orders, I obey his ruling, no matter how much I may disagree with it. He is the umpire, and I accept his decisions. If honorable members opposite would co-operate with him and not try, as they have done on several occasions, to gang up on the Chair, they would not find themselves expelled and feel it necessary to propose a motion of the kind we are now discussing in order to hide their shame and to disguise the fact that they, and not Mr. Deputy Speaker, are the offenders against the Standing Orders.
Motion (by Mr. Scully) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. j. j. Clark.)
Majority . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Mr. Dedman’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. j. j. Clark.)
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question proposed -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Mr. Dedman’s amendment) be so inserted.
Motion (by Mr. Scully) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mb. Deputy Speaker - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the motion, as amended, he agreed to.
The House divided. (Mb. Deputy Speaker - Mr. J. J.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act -
Appointments - Department -
Commerce and Agriculture -G. J. Harvey.
Interior - E. Wigley.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act -
National Security (Industrial Property)
Regulations - Orders - Inventions and Designs (23).
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes -
Willoughby, New South Wales.
Northern Territory Administration Act - Ordinances - 1949 -
No. 4 - Housing Loans.
No. 5 - Interpretation.
No. 7 - Licensing.
Regulations - 1949 - No. 0 (Alice Springs Administration Ordinance).
House adjourned at 10.33 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Mr.chifley. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
on asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The Government has no evidence before it indicating that the Clerks Union is pursuing coercive measures to force employees of semigovernmental Commonwealth departments or business organizations to join their union, If you have any information on that subject the Department of External Affairs is prepared to make careful inquiries should there be any evidence of coercion. The position regarding the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights is as follows: -
Although there is no specific provision for full employment in the terms of the Declaration, Article 23 (1) states that every one has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. Article 23 (4) provides that every one has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
The Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed by the General Assembly as a broad common standard of objective achievements for all peoples and all nations. The Human Rights Commission is at present drafting a Convention on Human Rights. It is intended ultimately to submit this to all States and the Convention will be legally binding on those which accept it.
Active steps have already been taken to bring to the notice of the general public the Declaration and the implications of the proposed rights it embodies. Copies of the Declaration have been widely circulated throughout Australia by the Australian National Committee for the United Nations and its State Committees working in conjunction with the Department of External Affairs. The Commonwealth Office of Education has also brought the Declaration to the the attention of the Australian National Cooperating Bodies for Unesco.
Copies of the Declaration can be obtained through the United Nations Information Centre. Sydney. It is proposed to publish the Declaration as a pamphlet, but in the meantime if members of the public experience difficulty in obtaining copies, copies will be made available, upon application, by the Department of External Affairs.
n asked the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
I.. Has the location survey for the new road from Tennant Creek to Noble’s Nob Mine been completed ?
Tn view of the important developments and reported rich discoveries of gold in this mine, does the department intend to recommend by way of requisition that this road be constructed ?
Will he recommend to the Minister for Works and Housing that improved living quarters be constructed at No. 3 battery, Tennant Creek, for the workmen and the manager ?
Why is the water supply which is pumped from the Ghan bore to the town at Tennant Creek not used by the townspeople even for domestic use?
Is it intended to install the water softening plant that was promised?
What was the cost of installing the pipe line and stand pipe overhead supply that the residents refuse to use?
Did any one analyse the water to ascertain if it was suitable for human consumption or domestic use?
Has he any information that the trial bores indicate the suitability of the Honeymoon Range dam site as a permanent source of water supply?
When will this dam site be approved and work commenced?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The road from Tennant Creek to Noble’s Nob Mine has been completed.
Industry: Incentive Payments.
y. - On the 9 th June the honorable member, for Moreton (Mr. Francis) asked me questions concerning incentive payments in industry. I promised the honorable member that I would ask the Minister for Labour and National Service to furnish a list of the unions with members working under the incentive system. The Minister has informed me that on the 30th June he furnished the honorable member by letter with the following list of trade unions members of which include a large number working on wage incentives of one form or another: -
Amalgamated Clothing and Allied Trades Union of Australia.
Australian Textile Workers Union.
Rubber and Allied Workers Union of Australia.
Federated Tobacco and Cigarette Workers Union of Australia.
Food Preservers Union of Australia.
Australian Workers Union.
Australian Meat Industry Employees Union.
Electrical Trades Union of Australia.
Federated Felt Hatting Employees Union of Australasia.
Manufacturing Grocers Employees Federation of Australia.
Australian Glassworkers Union.
Australian Rope and Cordage Workers Union.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 September 1949, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1949/19490908_reps_18_204/>.