18th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Deputy SPEAKER (Mr. J. J. Clark) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– If petrol rationing has to be reintroduced in this country as it has been in New Zealand, to ensure adequate supplies for primary producers, transport undertakings and other essential users, can the Prime Minister indicate whether the rationing scale will he the same as that existing at the date of the High Court’s decision on this matter?
– I have not yet had an opportunity to discuss this matter with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, or with the Director-General of Rationing, Mr. Cumming, who, incidentally, hopes to come to Canberra to-day for consultations, but I can assure the honorable member that, when rationing is reintroduced, every endeavour will be made to ensure that- the needs of essential consumers such as primary producers and the transport industry shall be met so far as possible. The rationing scale will have to he considered in relation to the supply of petrol that is available. I am unable to give the honorable member a complete answer on that point at the moment, but I hope to be able to do so within the next four or five days, after I have had an opportunity to discuss the matter with the Minister and the Director-General.
– I ask .the Attorney-General whether the authorities have yet had an opportunity to examine the album of gramophone records that was brought to this country from Czechoslovakia by the general president of the Australian Communist party, Mr. Dixon, and was seized by Australian customs officers. If so, has it been ascertained whether the recordings are actually of Czechoslovakian cultural music as was claimed, or of Communist propaganda to be used in Australia ? In the latter event, what action is to be taken against Mr. Bison?
– I have no knowledge of the matter to which the honorable member has referred. I shall ascertain from the security service whether there is any substance in what the honorable member has said and, if practicable, and feasible, I shall inform the honorable member of the result later.
Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme
– The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction stated recently that the Commonwealth was establishing 3,000 scholarships at universities and other institutions throughout Australia. I .ask the honorable gentleman whether in faculties such as engineering, in which students have to gain practical experience in mines and factories, the scholarship allowance will be paid to them even if they are in receipt of wages? “Will the means test be applied to students who are in receipt of wages when engaged in this practical work ?
– I am aware, of course, that in certain faculties, students have to gain practical experience with outside organisations. They may even have to be employed by private firms in industry generally. I am not aware of the conditions that apply to the payment of allowances to such individuals at such times, but I assume that that difficulty has been met under the present scheme. There have been no complaints about it whatsoever. Since it has been met under the existing scheme, and as the proposed new scheme is a liberalization of the existing one, I am sure that no difficulty will arise in this connexion.
– I refer to an address made by the Prime Minister at the triennial conference of the Australian Labour party twelve months ago which was reported in the Labour Call, a Melbourne Labour newspaper, as “ Chifley’s inspiring address “. In that address the right honorable gentleman made certain remarks which I now ask him to clarify as we are on the eve of a general election.
– Order ! That matter has been thoroughly canvassed in this House. The honorable member may not have been present yesterday -when two or three questions were asked on the same matter.
– This is an entirely different matter.
– Then the honorable member may ask his question. “ Mr. ANTHONY.- The Prime Minister is reported by the Labour Call to have said -
I have always said that if there is a great public utility, essential to the needs of the public, that is badly managed or handled, it should be nationalized. . . . We have been making a selection of really essential things, so that we shall not get mixed up with things that do not matter.
Will the Prime Minister state what industries his Government has been selecting for nationalization? Will he announce them so that the public may know before the elections what industries the Government proposes to nationalize?
– I have made my position and that of the Australian Labour party quite clear on a number of occasions in reply to questions at public meetings and in addresses to conferences of the Australian Labour party. For the benefit of the honorable member, in rase he may have some misunderstanding of the position, I shall repeat what I have so often said on this matter.
– I have no misunderstanding about it.
– What the Australian Labour party has said, and what I have said very often on behalf of the party, is that if some great public utility is not; serving the best interests of the community and is not being properly managed in the interests of the people, or is exploiting the public, it should b?. the subject of nationalization, or. as the honorable member calls it, of socialization. I remember one notable occasion when the conservative Premier of South Australia, Mr. Playford, took that view with regard to the Adelaide electricity supply.
– The Australian Labour party carried a number of resolutions about the liquor trade.
– I do not regard liquor as an essential commodity. Mr. Playford took the view that the electricity undertaking in Adelaide should be owned and operated by the people. A similar view was taken by the Government of Victoria, in relation to the electricity undertaking in that State. Nobody would suggest that the Victorian electricity supply, which was nationalized by a conservative government, is not being operated by the State Electricity Commission in the best interests of the community. So that the honorable member will have no misconceptions about this matter, let me repeat what I have said. If, in the opinion of the Australian Labour party, some great public utility is not being properly managed in the best interests of the people, or is exploiting the people, that utility should he placed under public ownership.
– The Prime Minister omitted, I am sure by inadvertence, to answer the latter part of my question. I now ask him if he will inform the House of the industries he had in mind when he told the triennial conference of the Australian Labour party that the Government had made a selection of certain industries that it desired to nationalize.
– The Government, has never made out a list of industries that might be. or should be’, nationalized in the interests of the community. Any decision of that kind can only be made in respect of particular industries in the light of circumstances existing at the time. The considerations that would be involved would be, first, whether an industry was failing to give full and proper service in the public interest; and, secondly, whether it was exploiting the public. Those questions can be determined only in the light of existing circumstances. I should add that the Commonwealth’s power to nationalize, or socialize, any industry is strictly limited. For instance, honorable members will have some knowledge of a recent case in which the High Court ruled that the Commonwealth could not nationalize a certain industry over which the Constitution specifically gives control to the Commonwealth ; and that judgment was upheld by the Privy Council. That also happened with relation to the proposal to nationalize the airlines. Each case will be met and judged on the basis of serving the best interests of the people.
– I desire to address a question to the Minister for External Affairs, who is Australia’s representative on the United Nations. Can the right honorable gentleman inform the House how many officials of the United Nations are located in Australia? Has he any information about the terms of appointment of Major-General C. E. M. Lloyd, a representative of the International Refugee Organization in Australia? Is Major-General Lloyd paid at the rate of 7,500 dollars a year? Does that mean that the amount of his salary, paid in Australia, has been increased by 44 per cent. due to the devaluation of the currency, bringing his remuneration to approximately £3,500 a year? Is he exempt from the payment of all taxes, including tariff and excise duties? Has he diplomatic immunity as an officer of the United Nations? Has Major-General Lloyd employed his wife as his secretary ? If he has done so, what is her salary and is it also exempt from taxation? Is it the policy of the United Nations to encourage its officials to place their wives on the pay-roll ? Has the United Nations any organization to supervise the work of its officials who now appear to be scattered all over the world?
– The United Nations has officials in all parts of the world, but very few of them are in this country. I presume that their salary is paid on the basis of dollar currency. Major-General Lloyd is an official not of the United Nations but of a separate body called the International Refugee Organization. The membership of the International Refugee Organization is much smaller than that of the United Nations. Australia is a member of the International Refugee Organization. Major-General Lloyd is not a member of the staff of the United Nations, and the terms and conditions of his employment would be determined by the International Refugee Organization.
Soviet- Yugoslav Tension
– Can the Minister for External Affairs confirm, from advices officially received, the report of a diplomatic break between Soviet Russia and Yugoslavia? Has the right honorable gentleman anything to add to the statement which appears in this morning’s press? Is there any evidence of further hostile action by Soviet Russia against Yugoslavia in the near future? In accordance with the practice of the United Nations, of which the Soviet is a member, would Russia normally have conveyed to that organization advice of a breach of diplomatic relations, as has occurred in this instance? If so, and if this practice has not been adopted, does Australia propose to raise the matter at the United Nations? What additional information has the Minister to give to the House about the matter generally?
– I do not understand that there has been a rupture of diplomatic relations between Soviet Russia and Yugoslavia. I think that the relationship between the two countries is a very tense one. Russia has denounced the treaty of alliance and friendship with Yugoslavia, but a breach of diplomatic relations is not necessarily involved in that. The United Nations has no special authority in such a case. If a stage of friction is reached that is likely to lead to war, the United Nations would probably take cognizance of the matter. Both countries are represented at the present session of the United Nations. As a rule, the members of what is called the eastern bloc in the General Assembly of the United Nations vote together. Including Russia, there are six members of the eastern bloc. But, in important votes which have taken place in the General Assembly during the last ten days, the number of six has been reduced to five, again showing that Yugoslavia is declaring or is acting upon its independence of the eastern bloc. That is the situation, and I have no further information to give to the honorable member. If news of any developments is received, I shall endeavour to keep the honorable gentleman fully informed.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General regarding the announcement that 600,000 pensioners and persons entitled to claim social services benefits are to be provided with free legal advice by the Legal
Service Bureau established by the Attorney-General’s Department for the benefit of ex-servicemen. Is the bureau to continue its service to ex-servicemen? Since it is proposed to extend ite operations to include the giving of advice to civilians, will the bureau be decentralized by the setting up of country branches, so that this very important organization, which works for the underprivileged, may be more readily accessible to the people ?
– The honorable member for Parkes has taken a very keen interest in the Legal Service Bureau, as have some other honorable members. It was referred to only the other day by the honorable member for Cook. The legal Service Bureau, which was set up to help ex-servicemen and their dependants, has a statutory basis, and its work is not only being continued, but is also being extended. It is difficult to provide a complete service, but there are branches all through the States, and a legal officer in the Northern Territory and another in the Australian Capital Territory acts for ex-servicemen. Under the new arrangement, officers in the bureau are authorized to deal with legal questions arising out of certain social services claims. The Minister for Social Services and I have arranged that officers of the bureau shall be available to give advisings if called upon by claimants for age, invalid or widows’ pensions, in connexion with which legal questions sometimes arise regarding their property and means. The activities of the bureau in this respect will not interfere with its primary purpose, which is to give advisings to ex-servicemen under the Re-establishment and Employment Act. Since 1942, there have been 1,000,000 instances of such advisings. I am very proud of the work of the bureau, which has been of great help to honorable members of all parties.
– Many of my constituents in Darwin, whose property was taken over by the military authorities during the war, believe that they have been unjustly treated in the matter of compensation, in marked contradistinction to the treatment accorded to Vestey’s in connexion with the use of their buildings by the Army. Will the Minister for the Interior ascertain from the Minister for the Army how much was paid to Vestey’s for the use of land and buildings by the Army? Will he see that the same treatment is accorded to people in Darwin whose property along the waterfront was acquired without anything being paid in hire?
– The honorable member’s question concerns compensation for the use of property used by military authorities during the war. If he will supply me with full particulars, I shall discuss the matter with the Minister for the Army with a view to finding a satisfactory solution.
– Will the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization inquire into a published report that a senior research officer of that organization yesterday branded as an old wives’ tale the belief that food should be immediately removed from a tin when the tin is opened? Will he cause it to be made known whether that report is correct and whether the statement represents the official view of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization? Can the practice of removing food from cans, which is widely observed with respect to canned meat and fish, now he abandoned without fear of food deterioration or poisoning? The matter is of obvious importance. Would it not be of great assistance to the housewife if, having taken the trouble to open a can of food for the evening meal, she could leave the remains in the can for “the brute’s “ breakfast without being held responsible for the consequences ?
– I have seen a report on the subject in to-day’s issue of the Canberra Times. I am unable to say whether the statement was made at a public meeting or at a gathering of scientists, but I shall have inquiries made and, if the report is authentic, I shall take steps to have publicity given to it.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral consult with the Minister for Immigration in order to ascertain whether facilities are no longer freely given to well-known Communists to visit Russia, where they obtain orders and instructions for the fomenting of strikes and general disruption of our way of life? Will he investigate what is being done in the United States of America, where, I understand, Communists are not permitted to leave, and will he ascertain whether the methods employed there can be employed here?
– The implication of the question asked by the honorable member, that facilities are offered to such people, is quite incorrect. No facilities are offered to them. Nobody can go to any country from Australia without first obtaining the consent of the official representative of that country, whether it be the United States of America, Russia, or the United Kingdom. That is the first point. Furthermore, the honorable member ought to be familiar with the laws of this country in relation to the matter. I think that he was the responsible Minister at the time when various cases, like that of Mr9. Freer, were dealt with, in the courts. Perhaps I am thinking of the honorable member for Wentworth-
– It was ten or fifteen years ago, and my memory does not go back over the long period to the days when honorable members opposite were in power, a period which will be extended soon. The second point in answer to the honorable member’s question is that the relevant statute has been held to mean that there is no discretion in the executive government to refuse an Australian citizen a passport. That is to say, the law of this land, which, I think, was interpreted in some of the cases that I have mentioned, was based upon that principle. Therefore, there is no discretion on that point. No facilities of any kind whatever are given to Communists as far as I am. aware. If the honorable member will tell me what they are, I shall take the matter up.
– I desire to make a personal explanation because I have been misrepresented by the Sydney Morning Herald in its report of my speech yesterday during the budget debate. According to the report published in to-day’s edition of that newspaper, I said -
The Labour party was detested by the Communists and it, in turn, spurned their sneaky pretence.
What I did say, and what the Hansard report’ of my speech shows that I said, was -
The Australian Labour party hates and detests communism. It will have no truck with Communists. It not only spurns the Communists’ sneaking pretence to aline themselves on the side of the workers, but also opposes Communists politically in the trade unions and in every field of social activity.
The Sydney Morning Herald report also states that I said -
Hundreds of thousands of people who supported Labour would still go to the election booths to support Labour even if it were allied with the Communist party.
As the Hansard report shows, that is gross misrepresentation. What T said was -
During many debates in this chamber the Opposition has trenchantly attacked the Australian Labour party for its alleged alliances with the Communists. There was absolutely no foundation for those attacks. Many of the things said could well have been left unsaid, because no reasonable or sensible person could suggest that the hundreds of thousands of people who go to the polling booths on election days to support the Australian Labour party would do so if Labour was allied in any way with the Communist party.
Might I suggest that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, take some action to ensure the correct reporting of the utterances of honorable members in this House ‘by the press, in order to put an end to the sinister journalism evidenced in press reports of parliamentary proceedings?
– I ask the Minister for Information whether he proposes to carry out the promise that he made to the Communists in the Sydney Domain during the coal strike that he would have them in concentration camps ? I should like to know whether the camp is yet ready, and what the Minister proposes to do with the Communists when he gets them there. “Will the Communists be put into the camp before or after the forthcoming election?
– The question is too Silly for words.
– Is the Minister for the Interior aware of the anomaly in the electoral law, which provides that after the general election, new senators cannot be paid allowances until the Senate meets, whereas new members of the House of Representatives will receive their allowances from the date of the election? This will affect Senate candidates who retire from the Public Service in order to contest the election, and who, when successful, will not he eligible for re-employment in the Public Service. They will be deprived of a source of income until their allowances as senators become payable. Does the Government intend to rectify the anomaly ?
– It is a fact that there is a distinct anomaly in the existing electoral law and that the conditions explained by the honorable member will apply. The attention of the Government has been directed to the anomaly. It is proposed shortly to introduce a measure to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act to provide that members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives shall be treated on a uniform basis in relation to parliamentary allowances. I shall probably give notice next week of my intention to ask for leave to introduce the measure.
– I have been waiting for the Minister for the Interior to return to the chamber to ask him. a question about the printing of the electoral rolls for the Northern Territory. The Minister was called hurriedly from the House a few minutes ago, and he has not yet returned. Therefore, I address my question to the- Prime Minister. As the electoral rolls for both Queensland and New South Wales have already been printed and distributed, will the right honorable gentleman confer with the Minister for the Interior with a view to expediting the printing of the rolls for the Northern Territory? I understand that the typed copies have not yet reached the Government Printer in Adelaide. In view of the vastness of the Northern Territory, will the Prime Minister ensure that the typed copies of the rolls shall reach the Government Printer before the end of next month, and that the printing of them shall be given priority so that they may be distributed in the Northern Territory as early as possible?-
– I apologize for the absence of the Minister for the Interior, who has been called from the chamber to preside at a conference. I can see the need for expedition in the printing of the rolls for the Northern Territory so that they may reach the isolated areas of that territory as early as possible. I shall take the matter up personally with the Minister for the Interior and see whether the matter can be expedited.
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether it is the intention of the Government to permit the fruit-growers of Tasmania to vote as a body on the question of the Commonwealth-State voluntary contract system of apple and pear marketing if it is decided to institute such a system ?
– No decisions have been made regarding the details of any apple and pear marketing scheme that may be in operation in Tasmania during the forthcoming fruit season. If it is decided to introduce a marketing scheme, the details of the scheme will be considered, but at this juncture I cannot give the honorable gentleman the information for which he has asked.
– My question, which is addressed to the Attorney-General, arises from a controversy in Western Australia concerning a Lithuanian doctor, a former displaced person, who, under the laws of Western Australia, cannot practise medicine in that State. In the course of the controversy a spokesman of the British Medical Association stated that the association had nothing to do with the ban that had been imposed upon. f oreign doctors and’ that the recognition of the medical degrees of foreign universities was a matter for the State legislatures. The spokesman said, farther, that foreign doctors were deprived of the right to practise, not as the result of any action by the British Medical Association, hut because of the provisions of State legisla- tion. Foil-owing a referendum, the Constitution was altered in such a way as to empower the Commonwealth to conduct pharmaceutical, medical amd dental services. D©es that authority entitle the Commonwealth to make laws with regard to the. qualifications that must be possessed by medical practitioners in Australia and to determine whether ®x not doctors may practise their profession? If it does net do so, -does the incidental power that is possessed by the ‘Commonwealth enable it to authorize -doctors about whose qualifications it is satisfied, although the qualifications do not fulfil the requirements of a State law, to practise in Commonwealth departments such as the Department of Immigration, treating their own countrymen, or in repatriation hospitals and other medical institutions conducted by the Commonwealth?
– The broad position is that the power to regulate medical practice in Australia and to prescribe the qualifications that must be possessed by medical practitioners is vested exclusively in the State legislatures. The view of the Attorney-General’s Department - it is a view that I share - is .that the social services power in the Constitution does not give to the Commonwealth Parliament any general authority in respect’ of the qualifications of medical practitioners. It may be that there are some border-line cases, such as foreign doctors treating migrants under certain conditions, in respect of which the Commonwealth could make special provision for the recognition of foreign medical degrees. The Commonwealth Parliament has, of course, complete power in respect to Commonwealth territories ; but, broadly .speaking, the position is as I have stated it. There is an opinion in the Attorney-General’s Department upon this matter, and I shall make it available to the honorable gentleman.
– Did the Prime Minister advise the Premier of Victoria to increase railway freight charges and’ fares in Victoria ? If so, was the advice given because of the inadequacy of the amount -of money that the State of Victoria receives under the tax reimbusement scheme? When the right honorable gentleman .gave the advice, did he take into consideration the fact that it would, if followed, adversely affect production and decentralization?
– Any advice that I gave to the Premier of Victoria or to the Premiers of other States is recorded in the report of the last conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers. That conference was open to the press and the public. I did not give any written or special advice to .the Premier of Victoria. What I said applied’ to all States. It was that those who make use of business undertakings operated by State governments should be called upon to pay charges that will enable the undertakings to operate economically. In other words, I made no bones about saying to the Premiers generally, and not only to any one Premier, that except in special circumstances State undertakings should overtake their increased costs by increasing their charges to the users who were in a position to pay them. I have not run away from this question at any time. The honorable gentleman has mentioned primary producers and other users of State railways. At the time that I made my statement to the Premiers primary producers were receiving handsome returns for their products, and I said that it was only reasonable that they should pay freights commensurate with the cost of carrying their products by rail. I told the Premiers that in some instances in Victoria and other States freight rates had not been altered for more than twenty years despite the increase of operating costs that have occurred in that period. I shall arrange to let the honorable member have the official record of what was said about that particular matter at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers.
Australians in Japan.
– In the absence of the Minister for the Army, I address a question to the Prime Minister relating to a report in the press that General MacArthur has lifted the ban on fratennization of American troops in Japan with the Japanese, and is advocating a policy of friendly interest and guidance towards the Japanese people. Has the Government issued any instructions on this matter to Lieutenant-General H. C. H. Robertson, the General Officer Commanding the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces in Japan? Is it the Government’s intention to fall into line with the Americans on this matter, or is it intended to continue unchanged the present ban on fraternization of Australian troops with the Japanese?
– The Minister for Defence will answer the honorable member’s question.
– I can inform the honorable member that the matter to which he has referred was raised by the General Officer Commanding the British Occupation Forces, and an instruction was sent to him to the effect that there was to be no change in the directions originally issued to him regarding fraternization.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation say whether it is correct that the trans-Tasman air service is shortly to be operated by British-built Solent flying boats? If so, can he indicate when the service by those flying boats will commence, and whether their use will provide an extended service compared with that now in operation? Will the service by Solent flying boats be operated from the Rose Bay flying boat base, or from Botany Bay which adjoins the Kingsford-Smith aerodrome at Mascot?
– It is correct that the flying boat service to New Zealand will be operated by Solent aircraft, which are the most recently built and most uptodate flying boats. They are made by the Short Sunderland factory in the United
Kingdom, which has produced many good types of flying boats in the past. It is expected that the Solents will take over the service about the middle of November. The service will be extended in two ways in that it will be operated on a daily basis and the Solents will carry 44 passengers compared with the maximum capacity of 28 passengers of the Sandringham flying boats now in operation on the service. The passenger capacity of the Sandringhams is limited to 28, but because of defects that have developed in that type of aircraft during the last twelve months or so they have been carrying only about nineteen passengers each. Therefore, in addition to affording a greater passenger carrying capacity, which we expect will be filled, the Solent service will be operated as I have said, on a daily basis, thus making possible an increased passenger-carrying service. The service will not be operated from Botany Bay, because the development of that proposed flying boat base has not yet proceeded far enough for it to be used, but will operate from Rose Bay in the same way as the present service. I am quite sure that when the Solent aircraft go into operation on the service they will give general satisfaction, and I am glad to be able to say that we have been able, in this instance, to buy the type of aircraft from Britain that will meet the needs of the Australian community.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation inform the House when the aerodrome that is in course of construction at Par doe, near Devonport, in Tasmania, will be completed ? Have any air services between mainland airports and Pardoe been planned? .If so, what services are contemplated?
– Although good progress is being made with the construction of the airfield at Pardoe, some drainage difficulties that were not anticipated are being experienced. However it is hoped that it will be possible to complete the areodrome to the extent that it will be usable in the early part of next year. The extent of the services that will then be operated from that aerodrome has not yet been decided. This aerodrome is being constructed alongside the thriving town of Devonport, the papulation of which is growing very rapidly. It is hoped that we will be able to provide air services from there of similar frequency to those operating from Launceston, Hobart and Wyndham. I may add that the Tasmanian people are probably better provided with air services than are the people of any other State.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation inform the House what progress is being made with the construction of an aerodrome at West Beach in South Australia? Has consideration been given to the fact that, in wet weather, the large aircraft that fly between Melbourne’ nml Western Australia are not able to land at Parafield, and have to be diverted to other landing grounds? Is it the intention of the department to bring the West Beach aerodrome into use as soon as a suitable runway has been constructed, so that aircraft diverted from Parafield may land at West Beach instead of being sent to aerodromes much further from the city of Adelaide?
– Substantial progress is being made in the development of the airport at West Beach. I understand that the Department of Works and Housing, which is carrying out the constructional work, is satisfied with the progress as is the Department of Civil Aviation. At present, aircraft which are unable to land at Parafield in wet weather are diverted to Gawler, 25 miles from Adelaide. The object of building an aerodrome at West Beach is to provide an all-weather landing ground closer to Adelaide. I am afraid I cannot promise the honorable member that the West Beach airport will be opened as soon as one runway has been constructed, except in grave emergency. Experience at Essendon and elsewhere has shown that when a partially completed aerodrome is opened there is considerable interference with the construction of other runways. However, Parafield airport is not closed frequently.
– We have had a very dry year.
– That is true. Parafield is not as suitable as we should like it to be for modern types of airliners, but it will serve the purpose, safely and conveniently, until the new airport has been completed.
– I have received many inquiries about payments from the No. 12 wheat pool, from which I understand two payments have already been made. Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say when the final dividend from that pool will be paid and what the amount of the dividend will be?
– I am unable to indicate when the next dividend from No. 12 wheat pool will be paid or what the amount of that dividend will be. The honorable member knows that transactions in respect of that pool, which relates to wheat from the 1948-49 season, have not yet been completed. Therefore, it is impossible at this juncture to compute the final realization. It is also impossible to make further payments until sufficient money is accumulated in the “kitty”. .
– During the’ second period of the present session, the Parliament passed the Shipping Act under which a Commonwealth shipping line is to be established. Can the Prime Minister give any indication of the progress that has been made in setting up that line which is to take over Commonwealthowned ships now under charter to private companies ?
– The delay that has occurred in the establishment of the Commonwealth shipping line has been occasioned by the necessity to obtain the services of a highly qualified man as chairman of the Australian Shipping Board. Inquiries for a suitable appointee have been made in various parts of the United Kingdom and, after consultation with me, the Minister for Shipping and Fuel has selected a man for that position, and has asked the Acting High Commissioner in London, Mr. Norman Mighell, to approach the gentleman *« see if he is prepared to accept that appointment. I understand that the gentleman in question has already been informed of the offer. As soon as he gives his decision on the offer, the Minister will be able to make an announcement on the matter.
– Earlier in. the current sessional period I asked the Minister for Immigration to what use Somers Camp was to be put, and he said that it would he used by new Australians. In view of the rumour that is current in that area that the camp is to be reserved for British migrants, or perhaps not used at all, I should like the Minister to tell the House exactly what the position is.
– I have already told the honorable member for Flinders - and I think another honorable member - what the proposals were with relation to this camp. The statement that I made in this House has apparently been slightly twisted and retailed in the area to which the honorable member has referred. Of course I appreciate his interest in this matter. As Somers Camp is in his electorate, he has a right to know what is contemplated. At present it is being used for new Australians, and it will continue to be used for that purpose for some time to come. However, as I have already advised honorable members who questioned me about the matter, after the present rush of displaced person immigration ceases, wehope to use the camp eventually for British migrants. When I made that statement in this House I also said that the honorable member for Balaclava, who has a excellent knowledge of this camp, was very interested in the matter. He was the commanding officer of that camp when air force personnel were stationed there, and he built it up and beautified it. I have a shrewd idea that the Commonwealth, when buying it back from private enterprise, had to pay for some of the improvements that he made.
– Will the Prime Minister arrange for the latest report of the Australian Aluminium Production Commission to be made available to honorable members before the estimates relating to that organization are considered in this chamber? Will the right honorable gentleman state whether any aluminium has yet been produced by this Government venture which, so far, has cost the taxpayers of this country £1,000,000?
– I cannot say, at the moment, what progress has been made with the report. I shall take that matter up with the chairman of the commission, Mr. Watson, and ascertain whether it will be possible to have the report made available to the Parliament before the end of the present session. I thought that the honorable member would be fully aware that the plans for all work relating to the production of aluminium in Tasmania had been pushed ahead as fast as possible. In the first place, it is not easy to get plant. All honorable members know of the great difficulty associated with obtaining capital equipment from overseas. A suitable location for the undertaking had to be selected, and I understand that a site has been chosen at Bell Bay. Discussions are proceeding with the Tasmanian Government on the provision of a water supply for that area. Equipment is being procured as quickly as possible. I shall provide the honorable member with whatever information can be supplied by the chairman of the commission.
– The Prime Minister will recall that there was a misunderstanding over the statement in his budget speech last year that soldiers’ pensions would be increased by approximately 10 per cent. It turned out that the increase in respect of totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners was only 5 per cent. Representations on this point have been made to the Prime Minister in the Parliament, and deputations have waited on him in recent weeks.
– Order ! The honorable member must ask his question.
– As there is time to bring down a supplementary budget-
– Order ! The honorable member knows the Standing Orders. He must ask his question and not proceed to give information. If he does not ask his question immediately I shall rule him out of order.
– Will the Prime Minister take immediate steps to adjust the anomaly and misunderstanding so that these men may have their due?
– There was no misunderstanding. Just what the proposed 10 per cent, increase related to was made quite clear. If there was a misunderstanding, that is a reflection on the intelligence of the honorable members concerned. It was clearly stated that the 10 per cent, increase would apply to certain pension payments. It was not to be a general increase on the lines suggested by the honorable member. It is not intended to bring down a supplementary budget.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 29th September (vide page 769), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division No. 1 - Senate - namely, “ Salaries and Allowances, £12,400”, he agreed to.
– The presentation of budgets by successive Treasurers in prewar years was always followed by serious discussions in which the features of the budgets were completely analysed. Honorable members were invariably given an opportunity to demonstrate how the government of the day, by its sins of omission or commission, or both, during the preceding year, had failed in the task allotted to it and to state their reasons why the new budget should not be passed by the Parliament. On this occasion honorable members opposite have completely ignored the features of the budget. We may well ask why they have adopted such a policy. There can be only one answer to that question. They know that the present budget contains such a splendid record of achievement on the part of the Government, and constitutes such a happy augury of the future prosperity of Australia, that if they criticized it they would place themselves in a false position. Thus, there is good reason for their attitude. Honorable members opposite have not only ignored the features of the budget but they have also shown that they are irritated by the fact that the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) has been able to introduce such a notable document. One prominent member of the Opposition, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) described the budget as a “no hope” budget, and he left it at that.
– Not at all; on the contrary, he said that it was a budget presented by “ no-hopers “.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) devoted the greater part of his budget speech to a consideration of the effect of the devaluation of sterling. I do not blame him for having done so. The right honorable gentleman said that the budget had disclosed that there had been a great increase of the incomes of the people, but that that increase was reflected in money values only and that money did not count at all. He let it go at that. No attempt has been made by honorable members opposite to make a critical examination of the budget. The reason is obvious. The budget is so excellent, so watertight and so satisfactory to the people that it would be dangerous for honorable members opposite on the eve of a general election to disclose what they would take from or add to it. It is worth while noting that, including the extraordinary budget which was introduced after the brief administration of this country’s finances by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). this is the ninth budget that has been presented by the present Treasurer. No earlier Treasurer had the honour to present so many budgets to this Parliament. The term of office of the present Treasurer has covered four years of war and four years of peace. His budgets have been so scientifically drafted that never before in the history of this country has there been such widespread prosperity among our people as exists now. These successive budgets have been planned on a longrange basis. During the war years little or no criticism was offered by honorable members opposite to the -budgets introduced by the right honorable gentleman. That that was so is a credit to the Opposition parties in this House. During the first four years of war there was almost complete unanimity among all the political parties in this Parliament in relation to the budgetary proposals. One would have thought that with the coming of peace honorable members opposite would have offered intelligent criticism of the budgets. They have ignored the present budget because they can find no grounds for criticizing it. At best they could only emulate Viscount Bruce, who proposed recently in the House of Lords twelve ways by which the chaotic position in which the United Kingdom now finds itself might be remedied, involving recession, deflation, the cutting down of social services, an increase of the hours of labour, or other retrograde steps that are in line with the remedies which, when adopted during the depression years, merely intensified the existing chaos. The brutality and ruthlessness of some of the measures taken to overcome the effects of the depression are still prominently in our minds. I recall how the Commonwealth Bank Board and the anti-Labour Treasurer of the day attempted to stem the tide of the depression by cutting down, instead of adding to, the spending power of the community. Every experiment which they tried merely broadened and deepened the abyss of misery. Students- of economics and industrial history throughout the world now have a different conception of what constitutes the best means for cushioning the effects of a recession. This Government has balanced its budgets year after year. During the eight years of the administration of the present Treasurer the right honorable gentleman has so guided the financial affairs of this country that instead of having a series of booms followed by depressions we have enjoyed an unbroken period of prosperity. Because of his wise administration Australia enjoys the advantage of a sound economy. It is of no use for honorable members opposite to say that there is no significance in the fact that the national income to-day is so very much higher than it was in 1938-39. Since 1939 the overall national income has been increased by £1,148,000,000. It may be true that that great increase is largely due to increased prices which we are receiving for our exportable products, but any honorable member who seriously claimed that it is wholly due to that factor would demonstrate his lack of knowledge of the matter.
– I do not think that any honorable member has made such a statement.
– Honorable members opposite have attempted to imply that that is so. They would have the people believe that the fact that employment is available for every member of the community and that we all are very much better off now than we ever were before, is due to the increased prices we have received for our exportable products in the markets of the world and not to the wise administration of the affairs of this country by the Labour Government. The policy adopted by the Treasurer throughout the eight years of his administration of the finances of this country has enabled him to balance his budgets, to make day-to-day improvements in our financial and economic position and to effect a steady improvement in the standards of living and prosperity of the people. By forward planning he has been able to develop our resources and establish a financial bulwark against a recession that may at any time be experienced in highly developed capitalist overseas countries such as the United States of America, and have an adverse effect upon this country. In capitalist overseas countries the iron law of unrestricted competition must inevitably lead to alternating periods of booms and bursts. So the Government, in its wisdom, has taken measures to ensure the continuance of our present condition of prosperity. As the result of those precautions, social services benefits, whichhave been a godsend to so many people, will be maintained, even though the ripples of an overseas economic recession may reach our shores. In addition to providing for the day-to-day requirements of the people, the Treasurer has esta.blish.ed a reserve fund in order that money shall be available- to bridge any gaps that may occur between revenue and expenditure in future budgets. Exservice men and women, who are entitled to war gratuity payments totalling £80,000,000, need not have the slightest fear that the money will not be paid to them the moment it falls due because the Treasurer, by wise budgeting,- has the money available in a special reserve fund.
The Australian Labour Government has vastly expanded our social services. Last year the expenditure on this commitment totalled £75,000,000, and that amount will be considerably exceeded in this financial year. The establishment of the National Welfare Fund is a guarantee that the recipients of social services will not be asked to accept reductions of payments should the effects of an economic recession overseas be felt in this country. An economic recession in other parts of the world would reduce our income from the sale of our export commodities, but whatever happens, the National Welfare Fund is a guarantee of the continuance of social service payments. So long as the Labour Government’s method- of planned budgeting is practised, the recipients of social services benefits need not be haunted by the fear of an empty cupboard. The National Welfare Fund now exceeds £100,000,000, and that money has been set aside to counter any possible recession that may occur, not through any developments in this country, but through something that will inevitably happen sooner or later in the highly developed capitalist countries overseas. Whenever I am discussing economics I try to make people understand that there is no personal element in this so-called attack upon the capitalist system. We should examine the capitalist system on an economic and scientific basis, as a student of sociological matters does. We do not hate the individual capitalist, but we contend that because of economic laws, unrestricted competition must inevitably lead to slumps, which, in turn, cause financial and economic depressions. The marvellous success which the highly developed capitalist countries have achieved is, in part, responsible for that position. They have greatly increased the efficiency of their methods, developed their technical know-ledge, and extended their power and organization, nationalization in highly developed countries like the United States of America results in a rapid and ever-increasing volume of production, and .the time comes when they must dump their great surpluses elsewhere. Unrestricted competition, which cannot- organize and regulate the out flow of goods and services sufficiently to meet the requirements of the people, makes economic depressions inevitable. The cause is not dissension among indi:viduals, or that somebody wants a depression to occur.
– Has the Minister a plan for preventing depressions?
– Do not ask such a difficult question on a lovely morning like this.
– This budget will go a long way towards preventing another economic depression in Australia. The interjection by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) reminds me that last night I was reading an old newspaper that was issued shortly after World War I. One of the articles- in it was entitled, “ Mr. Hughes and His Views “.
– It was written by Mr. Frank Anstey.
– If I were to read some extracts from that article, the right honorable gentleman would develop a headache on this bright sunny morning. So I shall let him off. The fact that members of the Opposition have offered no real criticism of this budget is a great compliment to the Treasurer.
– Of course, members of the Opposition never criticize the Government’s policy and legislation !
– If the Minister thinks that the Opposition has not criticized the budget, he has not been, listening to the debate.
– I have been in the chamber all the time.
– Then the Minister must have blocked up his ears.
– Opposition speakers have spoken about communism, socialism and strikes in the coal-mining industry, hut they have not dealt with the budget.
– Has the Minister dealt with the budget this morning ?
– If you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, will keep this little terrier quiet, I shall proceed.
– Order! The Minister must be allowed to make his speech without interruption.
– The aggregate persona] income of the country is one of the best guides to its economic position. In 1939 the aggregate personal income of the Commonwealth was £748,000,000. At the 30th June last it had increased to £1,896,000,000.
– The higher figure in 1949 has not the purchasing power that the lower figure had in 1939.
– The Leader of the Opposition said that honorable members must dismiss that increase from consideration because money does not count. I agree at once that the proper way in which to gauge the situation is to use as a basis the quantity of goods that is produced. I defy every expert in Australia to prove that Ae whole of the difference between £748,000,000 and £1,896,000,000 is accounted for entirely by the increased prices that have been obtained for our primary products. However a further check can be made. Prom *be 30th June, 1948, to the 30th June, 1949, the aggregate personal income of the Commonwealth increased by £208,000,000. The Leader of the Australian Country party and other experts in that party cannot show that such an increase is due entirely to higher prices for our goods. Indeed, prices in that period receded rather than increased.
– What does that prove ? Prices and wages are higher, but purchasing power has decreased.
– The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) has not been able to grasp the significance of the figures that I have been citing.
– The Minister himself cannot understand the significance of them.
– Order! These interjections must cease.
– The next question to be considered is, how is the money distributed? Before the war, when conservative governments were in power, and there was a brief period of prosperity - such periods were always brief then - the wealthy sections of the community, consisting of the big. land-owners anc! big business men, became wealthier still, but the money was not distributed in such a way that the people as a whole reaped the benefit. Therefore, the spending power of the community was not increased, and the demand for goods and services was not stimulated. The increased income was put into the coffers of people who were already wealthy, instead of circulating amongst the people’ as a whole. Now, the increased national income is spread over the whole community. Let us consider, for instance, that section which honorable members opposite more specifically represent - company interests.
– Why does the Minister say that?
– I think it is a fair statement. I should not mind the honorable member saying that I was more specifically associated with trade union interests than with any others. In 1939, company income totalled £84,000,000. In 1949, it was £200,000,000. Surely no one will say that an increase of more than 100 per cent, in the earnings of companies is not an indication of increased prosperity. Let us now consider the rural industries. In 1939, 424,000 persons were employed in rural industries. In 1949, the number had increased to 459,000. The value of the output of rural industries in 1939 was £208,000,000. In 1949, it was £304,000,000. Thus, the number of persons employed increased during that period by 35,000, and’ the value of the output increased by 96 per cent. We now come to secondary industries, in which a majority of the people are employed. In 1939, 1,730,000 persons were employed in secondary industries, whilst in 1949 the number was 2,430,000. In 1939, the value of secondary production in Australia was £388,000,000, which figure had increased by 1949 to £762,000,000. Full employment was responsible for this improvement, and full employment is a cardinal feature of this Government’s policy. Wage and salary earners make up 80 per cent, of the total population, and constitute the largest consuming unit in the community. Individually, they do not necessarily eat, drink or wear more than people in other groups, but they are important because of their numbers. They are the people who, by their economic demands, determine whether there is business prosperity or not. If 290,000 of them are unemployed, as was the case under a conservative government when the last war broke out, there will be less consumption, and, consequently, less demand for goods and services. On the other hand, if the workers are permanently employed, as they are now, and enjoying a reasonable standard of living, employers will be assured of steady incomes for 52 weeks in the year. That is the real reason why companies and business enterprises generally are more prosperous now than ever before.
The Australian delegates, who have attended all the international conferences since the war, especially those dealing with economic subjects, have consistently advocated the adoption of a policy of full employment. This policy has been accepted in principle by nearly every nation associated with the conferences, but only Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain have made a serious attempt to implement it. In American newspapers last week it was reported that a leading economic expert had advised the Government that growing unemployment in the United States of America, and the threat of economic recession, were due to the fact that the Government had not implemented1 the policy of full employment. Australia has done so, and has proved that the prosperity of a country is founded upon, full employment. The aggregate personal income of the people of Australia, amounting to £1,896,000,000, was earned as the result of activities associated with the production and distribution of goods and services to cater for the requirements of people in this and other countries.
– Particularly in the coal mines.
– I am trying seriously and carefully to examine the features of the budget, and to discuss issues affecting the prosperity of the nation, and yet we hear little, inane interjections from members of the Opposition. Every penny spent on capital or consumer good’s is associated with the production and distribution of goods and services which have only one end, namely, consumption. Those goods cannot be consumed unless the people are earning wages or salaries with which to pay for them. If the people lack purchasing power, economic operations are stultified. Realizing this, the Government has made full employment the foundation of its policy, and that the policy has been successful is borne out by figures relating to wages earned. The wages and salaries earned by Australian workers have never been higher, in the aggregate, than they are to-day. The reason for that is that they all are employed for every week of the year. When they are on leave they continue to receive full pay, and if they happen to be out of work temporarily, as the result of changing their jobs, they receive the unemployment benefit. The full employment policy is not sentimental or emotional. Its object is to provide thepeople with spending power throughout the year because of the economic truth that the standard of living of the people on the lowest rung of the social ladder cannot be raised without also improving the conditions of everybody else higher up on the ladder. Therein lies the difference between the policy of the Labour Government and the policies that were pursued by conservative governments. The old idea in the early days of capitalism, long before economists and others discovered the truth, was that there could not be a wealthy section in any community without a poverty-stricken section as well. People honestly believed that, and it was true in the old feudal days or the days of chattel slavery. However, ever since manufacturers and men of commerce rose to a position of dominance in society, that belief has been false. Conservative governments failed to realize what the Labour party realized many years ago. But the Labour party had to wait until it was given the opportunity to put its theories into practice. The budget that we are now considering shows the effect that the policy of full employment has had upon the standards of those people who stand upon the lowest rung of the social ladder. There is general prosperity in the community. The situation could not be otherwise. The Labour Government is often accused by the Communists of having maintained capitalism by the process of increasing the spending power of the people at the foot of the social scale. That is true.. The
Labour party believes in effecting evolutionary changes in society through education and not from the gutter.
This Government has done a great deal for Australia and has demonstrated to the remainder of the world that its policy is based upon economic common sense. The policy of full employment provides the community with spending power, which creates a demand for goods and services. That demand is the life-blood of our society. If the great mass of the people, that solid unit of 80 per cent, of the population, could not demand goods and services, the manufacturers and the thousands of small shopkeepers in Australia would be forced to live on half rations. Surely honorable members opposite realize that tens of thousands of small tradesmen throughout Australia are putting more money in their tills to-day than they did in 1938-39.
– But there is very little on their shelves.
– They are more prosperous now than they have ever been. The reason for this condition of prosperity is that there is full employment in the community. Customers no longer ask for credit. The honorable member for Grey (Mr. Russell) yesterday cited the case of a municipal council in South Australia. In the process of auditing its accounts, the honorable gentleman discovered that, for the first time in the history of the municipality, every ratepayer had paid his rates up to date. Facts like that prove that the policy of distributing the nation’s wealth properly throughout the community, which has been pursued by Labour governments during the past eight years, is the only policy that will create and maintain prosperity. The cardinal point of difference between the financial policy of this Government and that of the Opposition parties lies in the fact that the Government’s policy is truly Australian. The Government is determined that the wealth produced in Australia shall be kept in Australia. Loans will be raised only in Australia. Therefore, interest charges will be paid to the people of Australia. In the days When the right honorable member for North .Sydney was Prime Minister, when Viscount Bruce was Prime Minister, and when Mr. R. G. Casey was Treasurer, the policy of Com monwealth governments was to borrow from private financial groups outside Australia. The result was that the wealth that the people of Australia collectively produced every year was squeezed out of the country, as juice is squeezed out of an orange, to the tune of £20,000,000 or £30,000,000 for the payment of interest alone.
Not one penny has been borrowed overseas since the Treasurer took office eight years ago, at the beginning of his record term of office. Furthermore, during that period, the Government has been able to discharge over £109,000,000 of the debts that had been incurred by other governments and has reduced our interest burden by £7,000,000 or £8,000,000 a year. Our prosperity arises from the Government’s policy of keeping the people’s money within the country and making bond-owners of small citizens in Australia. As a result, it pays interest to Australians, whose wealth is retained in the country instead of being wasted in the payment of overseas interest bills. The right honorable member for North Sydney, who has interjected several times during my speech, is a long-standing friend of mine and he has done many good things for me in the past. For his ‘benefit, I submit one illustration of the truth of my argument. I recall an occasion when Mr. Casey, as Treasurer, asked members of the Labour party, who were then in Opposition, to accept a small financial bill without debate. When we asked him to state the object of the measure, he said that the Administrator of New Guinea wished to borrow £150,000 for the construction of a road 12 miles long between Wau and Salamaua. The Administrator had approached the financial company that usually made such loans, for which it charged interest at the rate of 5 per cent, or 6 per cent., but had been told that his security was not sufficient and that he could not obtain the loan unless he had the backing of the Australian Government. Therefore, t’he Treasurer had introduced a smallenabling bill so that the Government could back the Administrator to the tune of £150,000. When I asked what would be the period of the proposed loan, the Treasurer said that it would be fourteen years and that the rate of interest charged would be, according to my recollection, 4¾ per cent. I then pointed out that if the loan were raised, and renewed at the expiration of the fourteen years period aswas customary, the Commonwealth would eventually pay £150,000 in interest to the private lending group and would still owe the original amount of £150,000. The Treasurer agreed that that would be so. I asked Mr. Casey whether the money could be loaned to the Administrator of New Guinea by the Commonwealth Bank. I pointed out that even if the Commonwealth Bank charged the same rate of interest as that which the private financial concern proposed to. charge, the interest would remain in Australia and could, if it were so desired, be given to the Administrator to be expended upon the construction of other roads. Mr. Casey replied that that was not the policy of the Government. There is where our policies differ. This Government will not borrow from overseas and thus be forced to pay interest to people outside of Australia. It has kept the wealth that we have created in this country circulating among the Australian people, and it will continue to do so. This budget proves beyond the shadow of a. doubt that all sections of the community are now more prosperous than they have ever been in the course of our history. The financial position of Australia is now more stable than ever before. Our future is secured because funds have been accumulated with which we can deal with any difficulties that may arise. The Government has reduced the amount of our overseas debt and the amount of interest paid to organizations overseas. The overseas debt is being gradually liquidated. The Government is determined that the wealth created in this country shall be kept in this country. The people no longer have the fear of an empty cupboard or of the landlord’s knock haunting them. In my opinion, it would be an insult to the intelligence of the Australian people to suggest that at the forthcoming general election they will vote in such a way as to defeat a government led by the Right Honorable J. B. Chifley, that has made the financial position of their country so secure and has established widespread prosperity.
We shall face the general election with confidence.
Motion (by Mr. Scully) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to refer to a matter that arises from the reply that was given yesterday by Mr. Deputy Speaker to the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton), who raised a question of privilege. I understand that the Privileges Committee can sit only if a motion directing it to inquire into some allegations has been agreed to by the House. That motion has not yet been proposed. I remind the House that the Privileges Committee will cease to exist when the Parliament is dissolved. It can sit only while the Parliament is in being. You have admitted, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that aquestion of importance has been raised by the honorable member for Swan. In those circumstances, I consider that the House is entitled to know when a motion directing the Privileges Committee to inquire into this matter will be proposed and whether it is your intention that the committee shall report to this House soon so that a decision may be arrived at before the Parliament is dissolved.
– I stated yesterday that I would discuss the matter of the issue of Hansard “ flats “ with Mr. Speaker. I intend to do so. I stated further that I would consider whether the Privileges Committee should be asked to report whether the unauthorized use of the “ flats “ is a breach of privilege. I shall do that. The House will be informed in due course of the decisions that are made.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented : -
House adjourned at 12.9 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Currency: Dollar Deficits; Spare Partsfor Tractors.
r asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following information : -
s asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable gentleman’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows :-
l asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The amounts of income tax, including war-time (company) tax and social services contribution, collected by the respective Taxation Offices during the years concerned were as follows: -
Victorian Taxation Office amounted to £20,566,158 in 1947-48 and £24,247,249 in 1948-49 but these amounts do not include the proportion of Central Office collections applicable to Victoria.
t asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are given in the following table: - 1 and 2. -
s asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, upon notice -
With reference to his recent announcement that the total Commonwealth expenditure on soldier land settlement schemes amounted to £13,500,000 - (a) how many ex-servicemen have been settled on the land in each State by the Commonwealth Government; (b) in what way did theGovernment assist these men and what was the maximum amount of money advanced to soldier settlers; (c) how many applications have been received for participation in the schemes and how many were (i) approved, and (ii) rejected; (d) what was the total acreage of land acquired hy the Commonwealth Government for the purpose of settling ex-servicemen on the land and what was the cost of this land; and (e) what is the cost of the administration of the land settlement scheme and how many personnel are engaged in administrative duties ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
In addition, the Commonwealth makes the following financial contributions to the scheme: -
There are also the loans and allowances under the Re-establishment and Employment Act to assist ex-servicemen in rehabilitating themselves in rural occupations. The total amount made available for this assistance to the 31st July, 1949, was £7,471,400.
l. - On the 23rd Septem ber the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General the following question- -
Has the Minister for Information seen au article in David McNicolI’s column in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 22nd September which purports to contain the contents of a teleprint message received by a Commonwealth department last Tuesday! If so, will the Minister endeavour to ascertain how this leakage occurred and how this Daily Telegraph “ daily garbage collector “ gets his information ?
The Postmaster-General has now supplied the following information: -
The teleprinter message referred to was not transmitted over the public telegraph system, but was sent on a private-wire teleprinter service leased by a government department. There is no suggestion by that department that the leakage occurred in transmission. It is understood that the question of whether the leakage occurred in the terminal office of the department concerned after copies were made for distribution is being investigated.
t. - On the 28th September the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) asked the following question : -
Has the Minister for External Affairs given any direction that members of the Australian diplomatic or consular corps shall have the right to draw upon government funds as personal loans to themselves? Is it known to the Treasury and to the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs that a certain high consular official in New York, who is now about to go elsewhere, arranged, between the 30th December, 1946, and the 11th April, 1947, for advances to himself totalling 10,500 dollars without any authority from Australia to do so? If authority was given, by whom was it given? Is it a fact that, in order to have those advances made to himself, the official to whom I have referred issued certain instructions to the finance section of the Australian Consulate-General in New York to make out vouchers payable to him, seven of which were in the amount of 1,000 dollars, one in the amount of 2,000 dollars and one in the amount of 1,500 dollars? Is it also a fact that in March of this year a sum of 8,500 dollars in advances to this official was still outstanding? Are those facts known to the Department of External Affairs and to the Treasury? Do these advances to a consular official constitute a permissible use of government funds? Is the Minister prepared to lay the file dealing with this matter on the table of this House?
I now inform the honorable member as follows : -
On Wednesday, the 28th September, I was asked a question by the honorable member for Warringah in relation to certain advances to an Australian consular officer in New York. As I then stated, no ministerial direction was given in relation to the advance, the matter being dealt with administratively between the department, the Treasury and the officer concerned. I have made inquiries and have ascertained that the officer referred to did obtain certain advances in 1947. The advance was made necessary as a result of accommodation commitments into which the officer had necessarily to enter on the expiration of an existing lease. It was considered to be in the interests of the Commonwealth Service to provide the advance as against salary. The alternative was to allow the officer to obtain a furnished apartment or house and to pay him a special rent allowance, to meet the unusually high costs of furnished accommodation in Kew York. The advance was personally approved by the then Secretary of the Department of External Affairs, Mr. W. E. Dunk, now Chairman of the Public Service Board. The Treasury, to whom the matter was referred in the normal course, concurred in the arrangements for repayment by regular amounts and an appro- priate mortgage over the officer’s furniture, he original amount was 8,500 dollars and not the larger figure stated by the honorable member for -Warringah. As a result of regular deductions, the amount outstanding in March last year was approximately 4,000 dollars, and it has since been further reduced. Present practice is to provide senior officers with furnished accommodation whenever possible and to deduct a reasonable amount for rent from the officer’s salary. This avoids the expense of moving officers furniture upon reposting, and also avoids the necessity to pay excessive rentals for furnished accommodation. As it was, the arrangement made in relation to the home of the consular officer in question was in accord with the same general principle.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 September 1949, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1949/19490930_reps_18_204/>.