19th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Eon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Last night, on the motion for -the adjournment of the House, there occurred ari incident on which I propose to give a ruling - in fact, two rulings. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), towards the conclusion of his speech on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. referred to the prices charged for electricity by the Sydney County Council. In doing so, he mentioned the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer). As soon as he mentioned the honorable member for Bennelong, I heard from my left a number of statements - I can hear such statements quite clearly - in which reference was made to what was going to happen to “ Calamity “ Cramer. I let that pass. Later, the honorable member for Bennelong came to mo, and ashed if he had any redress, or if he would bc given an opportunity to explain the position. I told him that, in the circumstances, seeing that he had not been - per.sonally attacked, but that his administration as an officer of a public body had been attacked, I would permit him to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the House. When, in accordance with that permission, the honorable member began to speak, points of order were taken by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) and the honorable member for Darling (Mr.
Clark). The honorable member for Darling said that there was a standing order which prohibited any honorable member from discussing, on the motion for the adjournment, matters which’ had been the subject of debate during the current session. lor the information of the honorable member, may I tell him that there is no such standing order. The only standing order which bears on it is Standing Order 266, which reads as follows : -
No Member shall allude to any debate oi the same Session upon a Question or Bill not being then under discussion, nor to any speech made in Committee, except by the indulgence of the House for personal explanations.
– What does that mean?
– It means what I said last night.
– It means what I said.
– The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) will keep quiet. “When Mr. Speaker is on his feet there should be absolute silence. I insist on it. The next point is the procedure to be followed when persons in this chamber are attacked. If any honorable member refers to another honorable member in debate, and the one referred to has already spoken - as the honorable member for Bennelong had done when the incident occurred last night - and if the matter is not of a personal nature so that he would be in order in defending himself in a personal explanation, I shall in future rule that the honorable member attacked may explain his position on the motion for the adjourn’ ment of the House. That ruling will stand until it is upset by the House, and 1 shall not allow it to foe challenged except by a motion to disagree with my ruling.
The other point arises out of the speech of the honorable member for East Sydney on the motion for the adjournment of the. House. I granted to the honorable member for East Sydney- the same right as I had given to the honorable member for Bennelong, and he took advantage of it. He addressed to the honorable member for Bennelong a series of questions regarding the cost of electricity in Sydney -a matter which has loomed fairly large in the course of the Address-in-Reply debate. He invited the honorable member for Bennelong to reply to his questions in a statement when the motion for theadjournment of the Souse is moved to-night* If the honorable- member for Bennelong desires to make such a statement I shall -allow him to do so. “Whenever an invitation of that kind is given, I propose that the person questioned in regard to the administration of a public utility for which he happens to be responsible in a capacity other, than as a member of this House, shall have the right to state his position. The same rights will accrue to honorable members on both sides of the House.
– I rise to order. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that Standing Order 258 must be read in conjunction with Standing Orders 259 and 260. Standing Order 258 reads in part -
By the indulgence of the House a Member may explain matters of a personal nature. . . .
I point out, with great respect, that an honorable member may make a personal explanation by the indulgence of the House and not at the discretion of the Chair. The words the indulgence of the House mean the unanimous decision of the House. Standing Order 259 reads, in part, as follows: -
No Member may speak twice to a question before the House. …
Standing Order 260 reads -
A Member who has spoken to a Question may again be heard, to explain himself in regard to some material part of his speech which has been misquoted or misunderstood, hut shall not introduce any new matter, or interrupt any Member in possession of the Chair, and no debatable matter shall bc brought forward nr debate arise upon such explanation.
I ask for your ruling, Mr. Speaker, upon the matter I have raised. ‘
– On this issue, the honorable member for Bennelong was not misquoted. So far as my memory goes, he did not refer to electricity prices in Sydney, _ and, therefore, the standing order which has been cited does not apply. The honorable member for East Sydney asked certain pertinent questions of the honorable member for Bennelong, and made certain pointed references to the administration of the Sydney electricity supply. If the honorable member for East Sydney sees fit to ask those questions, his only purpose in doing so must be to obtain information and I intend to see that he gets it.
– I rise to order. I desire to know, Mr. Speaker, whether you are at the moment giving a ruling on a matter that happened last night, so as to give the House an opportunity to test your ruling.
– If the honorable member for. Dalley desires to test my ruling, he may submit a motion to disagree with it.
– Very well. I give notice that I shall move -
That this House disagrees with the ruling of Mr. Speaker in allowing the honorable member for Bennelong to reply to a previous debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House.
– ls ‘the motion in writing?
– I shall put it in writing.
– Do so now.
Mr. Rosevear having submitted his objection to the riding in writing,
– Standing Order 287 provides as follows : -
If any objection is taken to the ruling or (Incision of the Speaker, such objection must be taken nt once, and in writing, and Motion made, which, if seconded, shall be proposed to the House, and debate thereon forthwith adjourned to the next sitting day.
Is the motion seconded ?
– I second the motion.
– In accordance with Standing Order 287, the question will be the first item of business to-morrow and a vote will be taken.
– Last week, in reply to a question which I asked, the Minister for Health stated that it had been proposed or was intended that the Commonwealth Department of Health should arrange a meeting of State Ministers of Health to consider the very serious epidemic of poliomyelitis, which is not confined to any one State. It has been subsequently stated that the Minister for Health, in the States of New South Wales and Victoria have not heard of such a proposal. I ask the Minister for Health whether he will inform the House of the present position. Apparently there has been some misapprehension. Will he see that the appropriate Federal and State authorities are called together to discuss what can be done in the matter by the co-ordination of Commonwealth and State services?
– I thought I had made the position clear. The Minister for Health in Tasmania mentioned this matter and made a statement to which I replied that, if the various State governments desired a conference to be called on this matter, or if they desired the formation of a council representing all the governments of Australia to deal with poliomyelitis I was willing to take action to give effect to such desires. That was the statement I made. I have not issued any invitations because I have not been asked to do so. I shall consider doing so if the Stale Ministers so desire, but I still feel that the State authorities are themselves doing an extraordinarily good job in dealing with this epidemic, which I am glad to say, is steadily diminishing.
– Can the Minister for Labour and National Service indicate the reason why Mr. Mulherin was dismissed by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board ? Did his dismissal have any connexion with his anti-Communist activities?
– I understand that two members of the organization conducted by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board have recently been dismissed or displaced from, their former positions. One of them was Mr. Ivey, who was chairman of the Board of Reference in the port of Fremantle ; the other was Mr. Mulherin, who was chairman of the Board of Reference in the port of Mackay. These dismissals were no.t the result of any action instituted by the Australian Government or by myself as Minister for Labour and National Service, but were the result of actions .by the chairman of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board as part of his own internal management of the affairs of the commission. However, in view of the public interest which has been created by these dismissals, I have asked Mr. Hewitt whether he will supply me with a statement on the reasons for the dismissals which can be made public.
– In view of the deliberate and premeditated defiance .by the “Waterside Workers Federation in Queensland of the order issued by Judge Kirby in the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration last Wednesday, and the federation’s longstanding attitude of contempt for that court, does the Minister for Labour and National Service consider that, by its action., the federation has proved itself to bc unworthy of the protection of the court and that therefore deregistration of the organization would not only be just but would also be an action long overdue that would meet with the approval of every Australian worker and housewife who has been held to ransom, by these disloyal disruptionists?
– The Waterside Workers Federation comes within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and the general administration of waterfront policy is the responsibility of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board. The federation has made very substantial gains in recent years through the processes of arbitration as applied by those bodies. For the year 1948-49, the average wage earned by waterside workers throughout Australia was £10 0s. 6d. for an average working week of 33 hours. In view of those circumstances, one cannot condemn too strongly the tactics that are now being employed in Queensland ports in deliberate defiance of decisions made by the judge of the court. The question of de-registration will come directly within the ambit of the Stevedoring Industry Board, and I have no doubt that it has given some consideration to that procedure. Having regard to the consistent failure and refusal of the federation to abide by the decisions of the properly appointed tribunals, the whole machinery of conciliation and arbitration now applying to it must inevitably come up for a review by this Government.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that the Melbourne branch of the Waterside Workers Federation is forming a Cooperative Stevedoring Company to contract for waterfront work in competition with other employers ? In general terms, does not the Minister agree that this isa significant and highly desirable development, which will give watersiders a proprietary interest in their own calling, and the knowledge that they are working for themselves? If, and when, this cooperative effort becomes an established fact, will the Minister see that the handling of Commonwealth owned and chartered ships is reserved for these men? Does the Minister know that, to offset this and other progressive moves by the Australian Labour party controlled Waterside Workers Federation in Melbourne, the Communist leaders, Healey and Roach, plan to register as No. 2 branch, the Permanent and Casual Waterside Workers Union which was originally a strike-breaking body, and now is a ready vehicle for Communist practice and propaganda? Is not this move conducive to chaos and disruption on the waterfront?
– This Government is a firm believer in competition in order to bring about efficiency and lower costs. It is also a believer in getting efficient handling of cargoes on the waterfront, and a speedy turn-round of ships. To the degree that the development indicated by the honorable member meets those two requirements, it will receive the warm support of the Government. Whether special arrangements can be made to allow this co-operative body to handle cargoes carried by ships under the control of the Australian Government, that is a matter of policy, and I can only say that the suggestion will be examined. It has not come to my notice that a move is being made to register the body known as the Permanent and Casual Waterside Workers Union in Melbourne in the way indicated by the honorable member. “I shall examine the matter in order to see whether any action by the Government is called for.
– Would the Minister for Supply and Development state whether, because of the shortage of coal, it is a fact that steel production has been reduced by 70 per cent, and that five out of fourteen open hearths have ceased production? Does the Minister intend to allow further curtailment of steel production? If not, what does he propose to do about the matter?
– I do not know the precise figures, but I shall endeavour to obtain them for the honorable member. The Government is moving in a number of directions to increase supplies of coal, iron and steel.
– In view of the very alarming increase of the already high cost of living since the present Government took office, which has caused the £1 to be worth approximately 2s. less now than it was worth at Christmas time, will the Prime Minister give earnest and immediate consideration to increasing the rate of age, invalid and widows pensions to £3 a week?
– I am unfortunately not able to accept the statements contained in the honorable member’s question as statements of fact. Insofar as the question relates to a matter of policy, I must make my usual answer that the Government will not deal with policy during question time.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service been drawn to a statement by the president of the Master Plumbers Association of Central Queensland to the effect that, unless supplies of galvanized water piping, galvanized iron and other plumbing requisites are promptly forthcoming, many employees will be laid off?’ The president of the association cited in support of his statement the fact that the last shipment of half-inch and threequarterinch water piping bad .been received in March, 1049. “ Will the Minister confer with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel and - the Minister for Supply and Development in an endeavour to rush urgently needed supplies of those commodities to central Queensland so that skilled tradesmen will not be laid off and absorbed in other industries and so that unnecessary hardship will not be forced upon primary producers and householders?
– I have not seen the statement that the honorable member has mentioned, but I shall be pleased to convey the facts that he has stated to my colleagues. The honorable member is no doubt aware that the constitutional capacity of this Government to take action by way of direction in such matters is either limited or non-existent. However, I am certain that my colleagues will do everything within their power to deal with the problem that he has raised.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether the falling off of press publicity from his department concerning his proposed social services and health legislation has been due to the hostile attitude of the British Medical Association or to the fact that members of the medical profession never did, in fact, endorse his scheme? Is it a fact that the alleged enthusiasm of the doctors for the scheme was merely political propaganda ?
– Most of the publicity that has appeared in the press concerning the national health scheme has consisted largely of conjecture, most of which has been inaccurate. That is the reason why finally, such publicity has decreased. It was in no sense official. The details of the scheme will be supplied to this House when they have been completed and not before the plan reaches maturity.
– I ask the Treasurer what steps are being taken by the Government to make available sufficient funds to finance the extension of main roads in western Queensland. Many of the roads in that region are merely bush tracks, and very little has been done to improve or extend them because of the shortage of machinery and the high costs of road work.
– First, I point out to the honorable member that in due course a bill will be presented to this House for the purpose of renewing the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States with respect to roads. Secondly, the Queensland Government had to its credit at the 30th June last a total of £S7 6,000 from Commonwealth grants and loan funds. That amount was sufficient to enable it to continue with such road works as he has mentioned.
– Does the Prime Minister agree with the suggestion that has emanated from the Government side of the House that consumption of petrol has decreased by 10 per cent, since rationing was discontinued because less petrol is being used normally than when rationing was in force? If so, will the right honorable gentleman apply that theory in respect of butter and tea and, as a consequence, discontinue the rationing of those commodities ?
– I am not in a position at present to make a statement about either butter or tea. I have already asked the Minister for Shipping and Fuel to obtain as soon as possible figures which will show the rate of consumption of petrol. It will be of very great interest the moment we can obtain figures that will provide some basis for comparison. The impression of the Government was, as I stated at the time of derationing, that there would not be a marked increase of consumption for a variety of reasons to which I then referred. That matter can be tested in due course. I shall want to test it .myself by obtaining the facts. When the facts are ascertained, I shall make them available to the House.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that in 1945 negotiations were instituted with the Australian Government, through the Prime Minister’s Department, 1Dy the South Australian division of the Australian Red Cross Society for the establishment of a tuberculosis hospital at Springbank, in relation to which the society proposed ,to give eight acres of land and make a donation of £150,000 for the erection of the hospital? Because of delays and increased costs of building this offer, which was not accepted by the previous Government, was withdrawn and substituted by an offer to provide the land and £50,000 towards such a project. Will the right, honorable gentleman take appropriate action to re-open negotiations with the society with a view to providing a special tuberculosis wing at the present Springbank Repatriation Hospital, which is now taxed to the limit for the accommodation of general hospital cases and in which tuberculosis patients are treated in a ward adjoining other wards in which general hospital cases are treated?
– My attention was drawn to this matter when I assumed office, but it was not possible then to take any action because the offer had lapsed. The whole position is now being re-examined to discover what can be done to improve the unfortunate position in South Australia so far as tuberculosis is concerned, with the object of securing the full co-operation of the Australian Red Cross Society.
– I address a question to the Minister for Defence. Is it the intention of the Government to review the existing position in relation to the wives and families of Australian troops with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. If so, does the Minister intend to study the situation that arose early last year when 90 per cent, of the families of the troops who were returning to Australia could find no accommodation? That caused great dissatisfaction amongst servicemen throughout the whole Commonwealth. The time must be approaching, I should think, when our forces will discontinue participation in the occupation of Japan. Having regard to that possibility and to the small number of our troops in the occupation area, it might be possible to continue the occupation with single men from Australia and thus prevent dissatisfaction, similar to the dissatisfaction that occurred last year, from again arising.
– The honorable member is well aware, of course, that the policy laid down by the previous Government, of which he was a member, placed a total restriction upon the passage to Japan of wives of defence personnel. I suggest that the same arguments that were advanced in Cabinet and which brought about the decision of the previous Government still apply. However, this matter is receiving the consideration of Cabinet, and if there is to be any alteration of policy, the House will be advised of it.
– The Melbourne press this morning contained a statement that the Australian Government had adopted the policy of strict neutrality towards the tramway dispute in that city. I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether that statement fully interprets the Australian Government’s attitude in this matter?
– I am indebted to the honorable member for bringing this matter to my notice. The press statement to which he referred, of course, is a complete misrepresentation of the attitude of the Government, and is clearly a distortion or misrepresentation of my statement yesterday in reply to a question which dealt with the Commonwealth Employment Service. So far as the tramways dispute in Victoria is concerned, the Government is not adopting an attitude of strict neutrality, but condemns most vigorously the refusal of the tramway workers to abide by the decision of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, as given by the Conciliation Commissioner, Mr. Blackburn. We urge the men involved in this protracted and costly dispute to return to work on the terms which the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, through its officer, has prescribed. I made it clear yesterday that it was not the practice to allow the Commonwealth Employment Service to be used as a disciplinary agency in industrial disputes, nor is it the practice in any English-speaking country to allow similar organizations to be used for such a purpose. It is clear that the adoption of that practice would almost immediately force a complete breakdown of this service to the public. It was in respect of that matter that I said yesterday that the Government was adopting an attitude of strict neutrality. However, so far as the dispute is concerned, we are right behind the court, and will back it with what ever authority we can muster.
– Can the Minister for Transport state the estimated cost of the Commonwealth’s proposals for the standardization of railway gauges in Western Australia? What alteration to the existing railway system does the scheme involve? What arrangement for financing the proposed conversion was submitted to the Government of Western Australia, and was any counter proposal submitted by that Government? If so, what was the nature of the proposal ? Was any agreement reached between the two Governments in the discussions that took place? If not, on what specific points lid they fail to reach agreement?
– I could not give a detailed answer to all the honorable member’s questions without taking up an unduly long time. I can say, however that no agreement has ever been reached between the Commonwealth and the Government of Western Australia regarding the standardization of railway gauges. There was originally a proposal by the Commonwealth, made after the presentation of a report by technical officers appointed by both governments, that the standardization of the main Western Australian railways should be effected at a cost of something like £62,000,000, of which the Commonwealth undertook to bear half. That proposal, which included the FremantleKalgoorlie link, was rejected by the Western Australian Government, on the ground that it wa9 interested only in the rehabilitation of its railways, at a cost of about £26,000,000, in which work it invited the co-operation of the Commonwealth. The then Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) made a. counter suggestion that the FremantleKalgoorlie link should be standardized at a cost of £13,000,000. and that rehabilitation of the general railway system should be carried out at a cost of £20,000,000, the Commonwealth to pay half. That proposal was also rejected by the Government of Western Australia. The Commonwealth made another offer, the details of which I shall not discuss now, and a counter proposal was made by the Western Australian Government involving the standardization of the Fremantle-Kalgoorlie link, and the standardization of the rest of the State railway system, the
Commonwealth to pay 70 per cent, of the cost. At that stage the general election took place, there was a change of government, and nothing more has been done. If the honorable member wants further details, they will be supplied to him later.
– At present, full postage rates are charged on food parcels sent from Australia to Great Britain. Will the Postmaster-General, in conjunction with the Government of Great Britain, consider the matter with a view to introducing a special reduced rate on such parcels?
– This matter has been mentioned in the Parliament on many occasions in the past. Upon assuming office, I inquired into the position, and I have found that there is a convention between the Australian Government and the Government of the United Kingdom which requires the present charges to be levied. Part of the cost of the service is borne by the British Government. At the moment, it seems that the present charges must remain in force.
– I desire to address the following questions to the Minister for External Affairs : - Do Australian diplomatic and consular representatives in eastern European countries, particularly in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, enjoy complete personal freedom of movement? If they do not, what restrictions are imposed upon them by the governments of those nations? Is the Minister aware that the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has recently cut off foreign diplomats from more than 30 Soviet publications, including the important official bulletin of decrees issued by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, to which they previously had access? Are the movements in the Commonwealth of diplomatic and consular officials of eastern European countries, particularly those of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics subject to any supervision, control or restrictions? Does the Australian Government intend to take any action with the object of treating these foreign officials in. the same way as Australian officials are treated in eastern. European countries?
– I think that it will be best if I confine my remarks to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It is correct to say that the officials attached to the Australian Embassy at Moscow, in common with the officials of other embassies, are limited in respect of their activities and the information that comes to them. It is equally true that the diplomatic representatives of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in Australia are not subject to any limitation. That matter has concerned the Australian Government a great deal recently, but, at the moment, no action is proposed.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether it is a fact that thousands of tons of coal are being lost every day because of the attempt by coal-owners to take away from the miners holiday privileges that had been granted to them by the tribunal which governs the mining industry? Is it also a fact that the fundamental objective of all trade unions is to maintain and improve the conditions of employment of their members, and that the miners are simply doing what any other unionists would do if their privileges were threatened, as they are in this instance? Will the Minister have this matter investigated, and assure the miners that no attempt will be made to take away from them any of the privileges that have been granted to them, thereby removing the cause of a great deal of trouble in the mining industry ?
– Far too much coal is being lost as the result of industrial disputes on the coal-fields, regardless of whether the blame is attachable to the coal-owner or the coal-miner. This Government is backing with its authority the tribunals that have been established by previous governments to deal with this problem. My understanding of the matter to which the honorable member has referred is that nobody is trying to take away from the coal-miners anything more than the tribunal, in its own discretion and judgment, has decided shall be :taken from them. I do not know whether I understand the honorable member correctly, but my own information is that the tribunal is considering an application upon which it will eventually make a decision. The determination will be a decision not by the coal-owners but by the tribunal after it has heard both sides of the case.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral, when dealing with the introduction of television services to Australia, consider the advisability of giving to the people the right of free choice of government-owned and private television broadcasting stations?
– When the matter of providing a television service is being determined, the Government will give very careful consideration to the points raised by the honorable member. The Australian Broadcasting Act, as enacted during the regime of the preceding Government, provides that the national service shall have an exclusive monopoly of television. That act will have to be altered before, anything can be done in respect of private enterprise.
– I desire to address a question to the Minister for the Interior. As an essential preliminary to a complete review of policy concerning aborigines, will the Minister set in motion plans for (1) an Australian-wide survey by an independent anthropologist of the present numbers and conditions of aboriginal people in the several States; (2) an investigation of the history of de-tribalization ; (3) a comprehensive medical survey in conjunction with the anthropological survey; (4) special consideration of the problem of people of mixed race and of aborigines who live and work in the general Australian community; and (5) a royal commission to consider reports on the four matters that I have just mentioned and to determine the best means of formulating policy and training personnel ?
– A survey of the aboriginal problem in Australia was conducted by the previous Government, and one of the investigators was an anthro pologist. I am not at all satisfied that there is any necessity for a further survey of that problem. The Minister for Health has suggested that a medical survey should be made of aborigines in the Northern Territory in the near future, and it would be upon the recommendations of such a survey that any change would be made in the present method of giving medical treatment to aborigines.
– -In view of the necessity for decentralizing camps for migrants, can the Minister for Immigration inform me whether his department will he taking over the camp at Kapooka, near Wagga?
– Kapooka has been under consideration by the Department of Immigration for some time, and has been regarded as an alternative possibility to Mildura as a centre where migrants may be accommodated. Mildura has definite advantages compared with Kapooka, because the buildings are already provided and we can move in almost immediately if satisfactory arrangements can be made with the Victorian Government. Kapooka has only a nucleus of buildings, and a great deal of construction will be necessary if some use is to be made of that centre. It now appears that satisfactory arrangements can be made with the Victorian Government for taking over quarters in Mildura, and if that proves to be so, it is most unlikely that we shall proceed with any developmental work at the Kapooka site.
– I am informed that during the war it was compulsory for B class commercial radio stations to broadcast the Australian Broadcasting Commission news service. There was a charge for the news service but there was no charge for the use of land-lines. After the war there was a public demand for the restoration of independent radio news services. Although it was competent for B class stations to take any news service, they were warned by the previous Administration that if they used an independent news service they would be required to pay for the use of land-lines.
That warning forced the more remote B class stations to accept the Australian Broadcasting Commission news service with the free land-line service. I understand that it is the intention of the Postmaster-General’s Department to charge for the use of land-lines on and after the 1st April. Since this additional charge will involve rural radio stations in the expenditure of sums in excess of their capacity to pay, and may therefore deprive the rural communities of adequate news services, I ask the Postmaster-General whether he will make a satisfactory explanation for the proposed cancellation of free land-lines to areas remote from the capital cities?
– During the war it was the practice, as the honorable member for Riverina has stated, to provide a. free news service to all commercial stations in Australia, but that was purely a war-time measure in order to enable the Government to get its messages to the people. Since the end of the war it has been determined that each broadcast1 ing station must pay for the service provided by the Commonwealth, and that each station must stand on its own feet. That, in general, is the policy which has been recommended by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. However, the application of that policy is likely to have very harsh effects on certain distant country radio stations. For example, stations such as the one at Charleville will have io pay about £1,700 a year, I think, for the use of land-lines, whilst a station in a town nearer a capital city will have to pay only £50 or £60. This situation poses a considerable problem for the outlying stations. I have examined the. relevant documents and I find that there is a recommendation that charges for the use of land-lines conveying the news services should apply from the 1st April. I am giving a direction that the imposition of such charges shall be postponed at least until the 1st July so that I can look further into the matter. There is a provision in the Australian Broadcasting Act that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board may recommend certain subsidies in the event of stations not being in a financial position to meet such charges and I shall look at the question from that aspect also.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Health a question which arises from the fact that displaced persons with medical qualifications are being permitted :by the Australian Government topractise in New Guinea. If it is a fact that these doctors are competent topractise amongst the European and native communities in New Guinea, why arethey not permitted to practise in Australia as well? “Will the Minister grant registration to suitably qualified foreign medical practitioners in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory? Does he intend to take any steps to persuade State Governments togrant registration to these immigrant, doctors, since the Commonwealth has seen fit to recognize them as qualified to practise? In view of the fact that theregistration laws of the States do not provide for an impartial scientific assessment of the content and status of foreign medical degrees, will the Minister request the States to place their registration laws on a scientific basis, uninfluenced by the trade union conceptions of the British Medical Association?
– The honorable member’s sneer at the British Medical Association is unjustified because the laws that govern the registration of doctors are State laws, made in many instances, by Labour governments without any pressure from doctors. Thoselaws are uniform throughout Australia and, I think, throughout the British Empire insofar as they do not permit the registration of doctors from countries the governments of which do not recognize the medical degrees of Australian doctors. That has been the practice over many years and it has been enforced ‘by all governments, irrespective of party. Certain doctors who have been permitted to practise in New Guinea have studied for three years at, I think, the University of Sydney, and have passed an examination. A small number of them were allowed to practise in New South “Wales. The position is one which needs correcting on a world-wide scale for correction of only one anomaly could lead to the creation of bigger anomalies. However, 1 shall take up the question with the State governments to see whether anything can bo done to improve the local position.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture been drawn to increases in the prices of summer fruits in most Australian capitals? Experts claim that these increases are due to grave shortages caused by the spread of fruit-fly infestation, particularly in coastal areas. In view of the fact that the fruit-fly menace is being successfully overcome in the Murrumbidgee irrigation area and other areas where strict precautions have been taken, will the Minister consider conducting a large-scale publicity campaign for the coastal areas? Such a campaign may eventually lead to increased supplies of fruit and thus to lower prices.
– I am aware of the high price of fruit in capital cities. I am not aware that there is any relationship between the price of fruit and the incidence of the fruit fly. Control of fruit fly is a matter which comes within the administrative function of State governments. However, if there is a possibility of gleaning new knowledge from. Commonwealth authorities through either the Director-General of Agriculture or the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, I am quite sure that the good offices of the Australian Government will he made available to State governments which are endeavouring to cope with this problem. If, on the other hand, I find on investigation that there is scope for further coordination among the States in the control of the fruit fly, I shall consider the advisability of listing that matter for consideration at the next meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council.
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that the PostmasterGeneral, with the approval of the Department of Civil Aviation, proposes to erect a 600 ft. to 700 ft. single-pole aerial for radio stations 7ZL and 7ZR almost on the end of one runway of the flying field used for flight training by the Gliding and Soaring Club of Tasmania? Is he aware that there is no other suitable area within 70 miles of Hobart for the flying field, whereas a number of other suitable radio 3ites are available within a reasonable distance ? Is he aware that correspondence on this subject, addressed to the DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation on the 23rd January, had not been acknowledged on Friday, the 3rd March? Will the Minister inquire into the matter with a view to inducing the Wireless Branch of the Postmaster-General’s Department to vacate the area, and so obviate the serious danger of collision with such formidable obstacles by trainee glider pilots?
– As has been announced, the Government intends to assist gliding clubs, wherever possible, as a useful adjunct to aviation. The honorable member has asked whether an aerial is to be erected near a certain flying field. I inform him that it is. The honorable member also asked whether I am aware that there is no other area within 70 miles of Hobart suitable for a flying field, whereas suitable radio sites are available within a ‘reasonable distance. The answer is “No”. The honorable member mentioned that a letter had been sent to the Department of Civil Aviation on the 23rd January and stated that a reply had not been received. A letter dated the 31st January was received by the department on the 7th February, and a reply was forwarded to the clubdirect on the 3rd March. The reply stated that the department had placed the case before the authorities of the Postmaster-General’s Department, and had asked that a new site be selected which would be clear of all approaches used by the club.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Aircraft Accident, South Guildford, Western Australia, 2nd July, 1949 - Report and Findings of Air Court of Inquiry.
I ask for leave- to make a statement on the report.
– Is leave granted ?
Leave not granted.
– by leave - The Air Court of Inquiry into the accident to aircraft VH-MME, on the 2nd July, 1949 was established as is customary in such major cases where the Departmental Accident Investigation Branch is unable to record a positive finding as to the cause of the accident. The findings of the court are, in brief : - First, that the aircraft crashed as a result of a stall which took it out of the control of the operating crew; secondly, that the cause of the stall was not established by the evidence; thirdly, that the aircraft was incorrectly loaded, and that this was a possible contributory cause; and finally, that the weather conditions were safe for take-off. The court, in examining possible causes, reports that the evidence was inconclusive in relation to the possibility of defective flight instruments, misuse of the automatic pilot, failure or defect in the elevator system and of a control-lock having been left on an elevator. However, the court could not, on the evidence before it, assign a reason for the accident. The findings of the court are in agreement with those made by the Departmental Accident Investigation Branch.
The inquiry brought to light certain matters which, in the opinion of the court, were unsatisfactory. These are dealt with in five riders to the report, which I shall deal with separately. The first rider deals with the qualifications of Captain Norman, captain of the aircraft, and makes recommendations for improving the licensing system for captains of passenger aircraft. In dealing with this matter the court stated -
The court has found that it cannot, on the evidence before it, assign a reason for this accident. In dealing with the qualifications of the captain, it is not doing so with any intention of suggesting obliquely that he was to blame.
The court takes the view that Captain Norman should not have been promoted by the company to the position of captain because such records as there are of his tests made the court question his flying ability and aeronautical experience. The court makes a detailed analysis of the record of Captain Norman but, nevertheless, states that the provisions of the Air Navigation Regulations had been complied with, in that all necessary licences for the operation of the aircraft by Norman as captain had been obtained by him. The present regulations merely require that pilots shall have certain qualifications and that the appointment of a pilot as captain is purely a matter for the operating company. The court considers that the regulations should be taken further and that the final elevation to captain should be at the discretion of the Department of Civil Aviation, such decision being based on the whole of the records and reports of tests of the applicant. The onus of submitting the records and results of tests should be placed on the applicant and, if there is anything unsatisfactory in the reports or a lack of information, then no licence should be granted. The court, in dealing with this matter of licensing, suggests that a panel c.f experienced persons might be appointed, consisting of representatives of ihe operating companies and the Department of Civil Aviation, to examine the position. It is proposed to act on this suggestion and to review the whole question in conjunction with representatives of the operating companies and the Australian Air Pilots Association. Before leaving this aspect of the report of the court, I point out that the Australian pilot-licensing requirements are higher than, those specified by the International Civil Aviation Organization in their application to international aviation.
The second rider to the report deals with the servicing and maintenance operations of the company. In August, 1947, the Department of Civil Aviation introduced regulations providing for more complete methods and recording systems in relation to aircraft maintenance. These regulations called for the introduction of a maintenance manual which defined all processes to be done, records to be kept and duties of maintenance personnel. The main purpose of this manual was to eliminate methods based on rule of thumb or experience of old hands, and replace them by a properly defined system available to all personnel engaged in maintenance duties. The task of production of these manuals has been a large one, particularly for the smaller companies, and the subject company has been no exception in this regard. The court passes adverse criticism on the company’s methods and lack of proper system and the recording of work to he done and actually done, and states -
It is true that this operating company had been in process of compiling a maintenance manual for the approval of the department for about eighteen months prior to the date of the accident, but it would not be giving a true picture of the situation to let the matter rust there. The department had been asking the operator to supply details of the manual for some time previously, without success. The manual is not yet completed although a draft has been submitted for approval.
The department is following up this matter and the present position is that the maintenance manual for all practical purposes has now been approved.
The third rider to the report also deals with the company’s maintenance methods, this time in relation to flight instruments
Mid the lack of proper records relating to the maintenance and history of such instruments. This is linked with the production of a maintenance manual and the adoption of maintenance methods acceptable to the department. This need to record the history of flight instruments, and, in fact, many other components of an aircraft, has been brought about mainly in the post-war years. At one time an aircraft was overhauled each year, and at that time all instruments were also overhauled. In those days the actual aircraft hours of operation in each year were small, and 1,000 hours a year was a considerable figure. But in post-war years operating hours showed amazing increases, and 4,000 hours a year is not uncommon. Because of this increase in operating hours it became necessary to require instruments to be overhauled more often than once a year. It was thus necessary to establish recording systems to ensure that instruments and components should not exceed the number of hours prescribed for them. Much of the equipment in use by Australian airlines came to the companies from the armed services and in some instances no paper records were available of the life history of aircraft or their components. Before these aircraft had been placed in service they were completely overhauled. This applied also to all components -and instruments.
The court has found that the records of the company are not complete. This matter is now the subject of a special investigation but at the moment it is believed that the fault is one of recording and not of maintenance. The court, in dealing with this matter, is critical of the department for not undertaking general and snap checks on this phase of the company’s operations. Whilst not wishing or appearing to disagree with the court on this matter, I point out that the whole of the maintenance work of the company has been the subject of frequent and continued supervision by aircraft surveyors employed by the department for that particular purpose. In addition, the department has been actively pressing the company to complete its maintenance manual. As aviation has progressed, new standards have been adopted with the aim of achieving greater safety. In some cases such standards can not be quickly enforced without unduly interrupting important services. Only in extreme cases, such as the discovery of some major flaw, would aircraft be grounded until corrective action was taken. The company involved in the present case has been caught in the intermediate position of throwing off the old system and putting in the new, but it is admitted that the process has been inordinately slow and, at the same time, its administrative procedures have been lax. This general matter of maintenance is the subject of special investigation. The staff of the Western Australian region has been supplemented by an aeronautical engineer and aircraft surveyor from Melbourne for this purpose. The court has suggested that consideration should be given to the suspension or cancellation of the airline licence of the company.
The suspension or cancellation of the airline licence of a company needs very careful consideration, particularly an airline serving such remote centres, as is the case with the subject company. The suspension or cancellation of a licence in this case could cause considerable hardship to the communities served. Nevertheless, it would be foolish to permit flying to continue if the operations of the company were unsafe to a degree which would hazard the lives of the passengers and crew. The preliminary reports submitted by the special investigation team to which I have already referred, have indicated that the practical maintenance standard of the company is now tidy, and indicates no unsafe conditions, though much work is still necessary in relation to its paper recording. A special check has been made of the flight instruments in use by the company, and it has been found that those that have been checked - and this covers most of them - have been properly overhauled and maintained in accordance with the specific requirements of the department. It is to be noted that the suggestion of the court that consideration should be given to the suspension or cancellation of the airline licence was made in consequence of the finding of the court relating to flight instruments. As the reports received from the investigation team now indicate a satisfactory condition of maintenance in general, and of instruments in particular, it is not necessary to suspend or cancel the airline licence of the company. The operations of this company will, however, be the subject of continued examination, so that, if at any time such a course is considered to be necessary, I shall not hesitate to act in the manner the court suggests.
The fourth rider relates to the lax loading procedures adopted by the company and the failure of the department to discover that the company was not complying with the procedures laid down. It is a fact that the company did not follow prescribed procedures, but this fact was known to the department a week before the accident when a snap check was made. There is an error in the report - probably typographical - as it refers to a check made on the 25th July, whereas in fact the check was made on the 25th June, a week before the accident. At this check, the loading procedures were found to be unsatisfactory and the pilot was notified of this and a letter was sent to the company drawing attention to its failure to observe the prescribed methods.
Though the company gave instructions on the 30th June that the correct loading procedures had to be observed, it apparently did nothing to ensure that they were in fact observed. The company’s loading methods have been the subject of further examination, and it has since introduced correct procedures. This matter will be the subject of continual examination and check. Whilst the court, with some justification, has been critical of the department for failing to undertake a greater number of general and snap checks, it must be remembered that there is a definite limit to what can be done in this way unless staffs are to grow to disproportionate limits. The department sets out in regulations and’ orders the methods that are to be adopted, and it is then the responsibility of the ‘ operator to see that his actions conform to those methods. The department’s supervision of the work of operators is necessarily limited to a general noticing, together with a percentage checking, of the various methods, processes and records. A closer vigilance will now operate, as the court has suggested.
The fifth rider deals with the subject of compulsory insurance of passengers carried in aircraft, which the court considers it was not out of place to include in its report. I agree that insurance should be compulsory. It is already in operation with the principal Australian companies, including the one concerned in this crash. But, as a legal matter, that is possibly outside the scope of the Commonwealth’s powers and calls for uniform action by the States. I am submitting the matter to the Attorney-General for his consideration whether legislation tion can be introduced to enforce it. I am also of opinion that a better method of marking and collecting control-locks should be introduced, as neglect to remove any of them before take-off could make an aircraft uncontrollable. For this reason I am having the research officers of the Department of Civil Aviation investigate the possibilities of making control-locks more distinguishable by night and day, and of having the checking system improved. In closing, I wish to express the sympathy of the Government with the next-of-kin of all those who lost their lives. In adopting the report of the court, though not acting precisely in the manner suggested by it, I point out that we are introducing measures to produce the objectives’ at which the court has aimed, and, generally, we are taking steps to make aviation safer. I move -
That the report be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Drakeford.) adjourned.
– Is leave granted?
– Did the honorable member for East Sydney say “No”?
– I did.
Leave not granted.
– by leave - I desire to refer to the tragic explosion which occurred on H.M.A.S.Tarakan on the 25th January, and resulted in the loss of eight lives. Following the explosion, a naval board of inquiry was ordered to investigate the circumstances. The board, after hearing the evidence of 73 witnesses, including that of experts, established that the explosion had been caused by the ignition of an explosive mixture of petrol vapour and air in the petrol lobby of H.M.A.S. Tarakan by a spark which occurred in a switch when the circuit operating the portable electric fan discharging air into the petrol tank, was broken at 07.57 hours on Wednesday, the 25th January. The board was satisfied that there was no question of foul play or sabotage. The board also established that no responsibility for the explosion was attributable to the Engineer Officer, staff and employees of Garden Island Dockyard. After . considering the evidence and findings of the board of inquiry, the remarks thereon of the Flag Officer Commanding, H.M.A. Fleet, and the Flag Officer-in-charge, Sydney, the Naval Board, concurred with the view of the board of inquiry on the cause of the explosion, and that noblame was attributable to dockyard, personnel. In regard to the question of responsibility for the explosion, it has been decided to bring to trial by court-martial two of the ship’s officers. I lay on the table the following paper : -
H.M.A.S. Tarakan Disaster, January, 1950 - Ministerial Statement. and I move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Riordan) adjourned.
– I point out to hon orable members that on the first day of the sitting after the official opening of the Parliament two weeks ago 40 questions were asked and answered in 50 minutes upon the first day of sitting after the official opening of the Parliament. Only 25 questions have been asked and answered to-day. There has been a considerable lengthening of both questions and answers, and I should like-
An Opposition member interjecting,
– I called attention earlier to-day to the fact that I must be heard in silence. I repeat that there has been a considerable lengthening of questions and, in some instances, of answers. One question and answer yesterday lasted for five minutes. That period was far too long.
Debate resumed from the 7th March (vide page 429), on motion by Mr. Opperman -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to: -
We, the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
.- I believe that this Nineteenth Parliament will govern Australia during one of the most momentous periods of our history and accordingly I come into this House feeling a. deep sense of responsibility. That feeling, however, is eased by the knowledge that there are men of outstanding ability on both sides of the House, though they may travel different roads in the pursuit of their objectives. I appreciate the confidence that has been placed in me by the electors of Paterson who have sent me to represent them in this chamber not only on matters domestic to that important electorate but also on those wider considerations which affect our national development and security. I trust, Mr. Speaker, that under your eagle eye and ready chastisement, and that by the example of the honorable gentlemen who grace the ministerial benches and, on occasions, those who sit in Opposition, we who are new to the Parliament may learn well and quickly the art of government.
There can be little to quarrel with in the contents of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. I believe that His Excellency outlined the most constructive legislative programme that has ever been placed before the people of Australia. It provides for the military, economic and social security of this nation. In addition, it foreshadows national development on a scale only heretofore dreamed about, but which now becomes a burning necessity if we are to maintain our position in this rapidly changing world. Until recently we have been an insular people, living in splendid isolation and separated by time and distance from the rest of the world. Indeed, in what other circumstances could a nation of 7,000,000 people have continued to occupy 3,000,000 square miles of territory with not much concern for the rest of the world? That era has now passed. The area once referred to as the Par East has now become our near north. We are vitally concerned with the rising tide of nationalism that is occurring there. There is evidence of the development of a new centre of world affairs in the Pacific basin. That development must be taken into account. It is also necessary to realize that much of the strength of the Empire upon which this country depended in time past for its security has been whittled away through the misfortunes of war, or through the actions of inept politicians who have held the opinion that the Empire was going to seed.
Across once impregnable lifelines now stand new and independent States, and there is fierce competition between the two great power groups of to-day’s world for their friendship and aid. It is to these tremendous facts that we must direct our attention and our legislative programme. The previous Government, with one notable exception, was apt to devote its thoughts to domestic issues; to the idea of approaching socialism ; and to security through dependence on the Go- vernment. At a time when we should have been getting the best out of this nation by challenging the spirit of adventure which permeates it and at a time when we should have been holding out rewards for the enterprise and initiative which have advanced this country to its present position, the Government was preparing us for a comfortable old age. The one notable exception to the negative policy of the previous Government was in the- field of immigration, where a magnificent job was done under tremendous difficulties. This Government has paid tribute to the excellence of the work done by the Chifley Government in the immigration field and I regret that certain incidents, which were insignificant in themselves, should have been allowed to develop to the point where they became an offence to neighbouring peoples whose friendship we must cultivate and whose goodwill we must certainly have.
We have had a reprieve from socialism, and this Government has been given an opportunity to develop a free nation to show just what democracy in action can do. I have not the slightest doubt that we shall take every possible advantage of that reprieve. If there is one thing that this country needs more than any other it is the development of a national spirit. There must be a more definite feeling of nationalism. I do not mean that a militant nationalism should be developed such as ushered in the conflict from which we have lately been delivered, but I do” suggest that there could ‘be a healthy pride in race which would do nothing to detract from the respect that we should pay neighbouring States and peoples. It is a matter for some concern that so many members on the opposite side of the House, particularly among those newly elected, should have given tongue to blind prejudice, and cultivated bitterness and class consciousness where in fact none exists. They have told us that they represent the “ common man “. That very unfortunate choice of terms offers insult to every worthwhile Australian who is making his contributtion to the welfare of this country in whatever walk of life his Jot is cast. Honorable members opposite have a tremendous amount of false pride in their humble beginnings. In this country there is nothing exclusive about humble beginnings. A great majority of those who have made anything of themselves and have contributed to the well-being of this country are also of humble origin.
It is easy to talk about big business but I do not believe that an adequate definition of big business has been given by my friends on the other side of the House. It is easy to vilify the leaders of industry and business who have reached their position by their commercial courage, and whose achievements are of the greatest benefit to this country. It is easy to talk of a “ middle class “. It is easy to’ legislate against them and to restrict and control ; but there is a point beyond which it is not good sense to go. The Opposition attempted to push past that point with the result that a new government is in power to-day. The Opposition claims exclusive rights to speak for the workers, but I assure them that honorable members on this side of the chamber will make no such concession. This Government is in office because it enjoys the support of tens of thousands of trade unionists, who are glad to have their trade unions protect their industrial affairs, but who want to control their own politics. They want none of the pernicious doctrines that have been allowed to white ant what was once a grand movement. The ranks of the Opposition contain no monopoly of men with experience in industry. On this side of the House there are men who have had a tremendous amount of experience both as employers and employees. “We face grave problems which will not be solved by the mere passage of legislation. Their solution will demand the full co-operation of the Australian people, whose standards of living are in the balance, and whose corporate judgment is sound when they know the issues involved. The problem of inflation and of putting value back into the fi is a very pressing one. The worst feature of this matter is that it presses most heavily upon those least able to bear it. I refer to pensioners and people in receipt of fixed incomes. Unchecked it can lead to a whirlwind of rising prices which will lower standards of living for the workers and ruin our whole economy. One hon orable member opposite recently sought, with more hope than expectation, to interpret the Prime Minister’s words about putting value back into the £1 to mean re-valuation of the currency. Such clumsy attempts to drive -a wedge between the parties on this side of the House will always fail. None of us is in doubt about what the right honorable gentleman had in his mind when he spoke of putting value back into the £1. We cannot get rid of inflation by legislation, we can only work our way out.
Much of our inflationary difficulty came from methods of financing the war. When half our national income and production was being destroyed through war, money incomes were allowed to go up and up, and in fact during the middle of the war period we were talking about a time of unprecedented prosperity. The Government did nothing to check the inflation and applications were even before the courts for prosperity loadings. That is strange prosperity. When there is a greater supply of money than goods, money finds a new level and higher prices become permanent. We have been discussing the question of inflation in the light of 1939 conditions, but we must consider it in the light of present day conditions., After every war, particularly after one such as World War II., we need to devise a new set of values. A lot of people will be hurt in the process, but that is one of the unfortunate things which have happened in the past and which cannot now be fully corrected. There is no record in history of any nation ever having been able to finance a war in any way other than by the use of real national wealth. Governments of every persuasion have had to face that problem. It does nothing to help the victims of inflation to say that the problem needs urgent attention.
But it does give point to the urgent need to reverse the money-goods ratio by greater production. I think it is true to say that both producers and wageearners are exploiting to their own advantage the lack of balance between supply and demand. Prom their own points of view, that is a natural thing to do, but it ought to be said that the final product of such a policy is more inflation, with decreasing standards of living for the workers, and an economic upheaval which may almost entirely destroy business. Our economy can afford higher wages and shorter hours only if it can produce more efficiently. Stable production is one of the prime requisites of efficiency. It ought to be a matter for national shame that in a land where our productive facilities were expanded tremendously during the war, we are in the unhappy position of being f orced to import steel from ex-enemy and war-devastated countries at a price substantially higher than that of the local product. I have before me a letter from the management of a butter factory complaining that the price- of coal rose from 28s. 5d. a ton in February, 3.949, to 35s. 11 3/4d. a ton in January, 1950, a rise of 2S per cent, in something less than a year.
All these difficulties stem from the one cause which is a series of deliberately organized industrial stoppages brought about by those who want to see our economy in ruin. In to-day’s press there is a report of a meeting of waterside works in Brisbane, and the report makes amazing reading in a democracy. For future reference I point out that, according to the report, there were repeated cries from the back of the hall of, “ Why don’t you give us a secret ballot?” I quote from the report as follows : -
Other interjectors said all the strike tactics wove the work of <>5 gang leaders and a few union officials who carried on the strike without consulting the rank and file.
Above the din Mr. Englart shouted that all he wanted was a resolution approving the strike tactics, and authorizing the executive to continue calling the stoppages similar to those to-day and yesterday on two days each week.
A resolution to this effect was later overwhelmingly carried. It also gave the executive the right to select the days on which rolling strikes were to be called.
What has happened that they want a formal resolution to approve of what they have been doing for months without any by-your-leave of the rank and file ? It will be noted that the opposition elements at the meeting, having been bashed in the best traditions of “ European people’s democracy “ the meeting, by an overwhelming majority, carried a resolution approving of the tactics of the executive, and giving it the right to select the days on which rolling strikes were to be called. In the Communists we have a group of persons who have established’ in our midst a ministry of economic warfare, and they are using their industrial power to bring our economy to the dust. The only reason, why there is no general outcry against them is that the general public are not fully aware that they are, in the final result, the victims of this kind of indiscipline. In what field has the Government responsibility, if not in this one ?
A new factor has entered industry in these days, and it is called “waiting time “. Members of the Opposition will, no doubt, say that we on this side of. the House are always singling out the workers for attack. That is not so. I have had a great deal of experience on both sides of industry, and I know that the Australian workman can, and does, produce as well as, if not better than, any of his counterparts overseas. However, there is a tremendous amount of industrial inefficiency which does not arise from the individual. Waiting time is one of the big factors in industrial costs to-day. All over the country assembly lines, buildings, &c, are held up for want of a handful of material to complete a big job. These petty delays add up to a tremendous disruption of our economy. At their base, they are organized, particularly in the coal industry, by a handful of Communists. The Government will do its part both by administration and legislation, but there is need for the whole-hearted support of the Australian people if we are to work, our way out of the present dilemma. It is too ranch to hope that, as the result of any decision taken now, all can become sweetness and light, but let us hope that there will be an end of direct action by Labour, and of exploitation of the market by producers. All sections of the community are called upon to be reasonable in their approach to industrial problems.
One of the most important features of the Governor-General’s Speech is the proposal to establish a Ministry of National Development. In my opinion, a prosperous future for Australia can be assured only by an increase of the population, and this, in turn, will depend almost entirely on the development of those natural resources of which at the moment we know all too little. Australia has been, and will be for a considerable time to come, a primary-producing country. One of the most important tasks the new Ministry for National Development must undertake is a wholesale scheme of conservation. We know that there must he conservation of water and conservation of soil, but we must also look to the conservation of soil fertility, which is an entirely different problem. State authorities are doing valuable work in controlling soil erosion, but they are under-staffed, under-financed and underequipped. State resources are not sufficient to enable the authorities to handle this job efficiently, and I believe that the Commonwealth must accept much responsibility in “ this sphere. The electorate which I have the honour to represent includes most of the agricultural area of the rich Hunter River Valley, recognized as one of Australian’s most fertile areas. The time was when recurring floods were looked upon as a boon, because they deposited rich, fertile top-soil on lands along the lower reaches of the river. To-day, however, soil erosion is taking its toll. The river is silting up, and can no longer drain off all the water that falls in the catchment area. Twice during the last six months, important towns have been inundated, and that has resulted in the destruction of much national wealth, and has caused great personal loss. Flood control must be undertaken as part of any plan for increasing agricultural production. At present, there is much waste effort in our attempts to cope with erosion, the rabbit pest, failing soil fertility, and the declining mineral content of the soil.
Despite the insolent attempts by a militant minority to prevent the carrying through of the Government’s programme, I am convinced that we shall have the support and co-operation, not only of the majority by whose goodwill and judgment the present Government holds office, but also of an increasing number of Australians, who realize that this is a Government dedicated to the task of promoting a better Australia where there will be opportunity for all, and where the boundaries of freedom and security will be ever expanding.
.- The honorable member for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall) has, I suggest, started off his political career in this House on the wrong foot. He said that honorable members on this side of the Housereferred to the mass of the peopleas the “ common man “. I, for one, have not heard any honorable member on this side of the House refer to the people whom we are proud to represent as the “ common man “, and I am sure that the new member who has just concluded his speech has not heard any honorable member do so either. If he continues with such methods, he cannot complain when he gets what he most surely will get from members of the Opposition. I congratulate the new members on both sides of the House, weaknesses notwithstanding, on the speeches they have delivered during this debate. I say that, not because it is a nice thing to say to and about new members, but because I sincerely believe it. The speeches that have been delivered by them augur well for the quality of the debates that will take place during the life of this Parliament.
With the programme outlined In the Speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral no one can quarrel, but it remains to be seen how much of that programme will be implemented and what methods will, be adopted in its implementation. Before I entered the Parliament, I was one of those terrible union leaders about whom we have heard, so much. I propose now to discuss some industrial matters, and the first subject I shall touch upon is communism. I do so at the risk of being accused of repeating what I have said before in this House, but the occasion to discuss the subject has again arisen, and I must repeat myself if repetition be necessary. I do not propose to outline my attitude towards communism beyond saying that all my adult life I have resisted and fought communism as such, and I have no intention whatsoever of relinquishing my fight against what I consider to be a menace and scourge in any free, Godloving community. Therefore, there cannot be any misunderstanding when I state my attitude towards communism. No one in this chamber would quarrel with the Government’s attempts to grapple with communism if he believed that those attempts would be effective.
The problem is to determine the most effective methods of combating communism. If the Government does no more than ban the Communist party, it will merely repeat an ineffective and futile course of action that it followed early in World War II. Coal is a commodity for which there is always a great demand, but at no time is that demand so urgent as it is when the country is at war. The same kind of people, though not the same people, were in control of the miners’ federation in 1939-40 as are in control of that organization to-day. The federation was dominated by Communists then as itis dominated by Communists at the present time. Early in World War II., the Menzies Government imposed a ban on communism as such. The Communist party was declared an illegal organization, but because Australia was at war, the Menzies Government found it necessary to make arrangements with the general president of the miners’ federation in an endeavour to curtail industrial disputes within the coal-mining industry.
– The general president of the miners’ federation at that time was an avowed Communist.
– When I say that the Menzies Government made an “ arrangement “ with the general president of the miners’ federation, I am being generous, because the royal commissioner who subsequently inquired into that matter, used another word. The point that I make is that while Australia was at war and the ban on the Communist party operated, the non-Labour government of the day “ got at “ the miners’ federation, and even the arrangement with the general president of that body did not prevent industrial disturbances in the coal-mining industry. While the Communist party was an illegal organization, I was the State president of the Australian Workers Union in Queensland. When Ministers eulogize that union, I sometimes wonder whether I. should consult my conscience. However, the Menzies Government banned the Communist party, which, to all intents and purposes, was thereafter an illegal organization. Yet the people who had previously admitted that they were Communists, continued to occupy their positions. They merely called themselves “ indepen- dent socialists “. Following the imposition of the ban, a Communist found his way, for the first time in our history, into an Australian Parliament. That man, Mr. Fred Patterson, is still the member for Bowen in the Queensland Parliament. Did the ban destroy or even curb the activities of the Communist party? I do not base my opposition in this matter on the argument that banning the Communist party will drive the “ comrades “ underground, where the Government will lose track of them. Of course, that will happen, as it happened before. My objection is that the method itself will be ineffective. When I make these statements, I hope that I shall never be accused of putting up a fight for the Communist party.
If the Government begins action against the Communists, the measures taken must be carried to their logical conclusion. Any legislation that is passed by the Parliament for the purpose of banning the Communist party will be the law of the land. If the Government is determined to crush the Communist element- in our community, it must ensure that the lawshall be obeyed. The Government will not be able to evade its responsibility in this matter by saying, “We know what Healy, Roach, Sharkey, Williams. Dawson, Paterson and others are doing, but they are not Communists; they are independent socialists.” Of course they are Communists. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. What does’ it matter whether they call themselves independent socialists, Presbyterians, Calathumpians, or anything else? Our concern is with their activities, not with their name. Once the Government bans the Communist party, it must have the courage to take the next step, namely, to ensure that the activities of every Communist, every person with any leanings towards communism, and every one who advances arguments that will assist communism, shall be curbed. How can that be done? So far as I am aware, there is only one course of action. Every man, woman and child who engages in Communist activities, or thinks favorably of communism, must be rounded up and placed in a. political prison. Threats by Ministers to introduce legislation to stop a Communist from doing this or from saying that will be futile. No legislative enactment will curb their activities. The only way in which a law can be enforced against people who set themselves out deliberately to break it is to put the offenders in ‘a place where they will not be able to offend again. If Ministers are prepared to go to those lengths, I am glad that I shall not have to share their responsibility. I for one will not be a party to any action of that kind. If Hitler and Goebbels had their time over again, they would not take such action. Goebbels warned Hitler in these terms : “ Instead of being the hunter we ourselves will eventually become the hunted “. That is a distinct possibility here. However, the responsibility rests with the Government. The Prime Minister, when delivering his policy speech at the beginning of the last election campaign, promised to ban the Communist party, and honorable members opposite echoed that assurance.. It is also repeated in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. If the Government makes the first move -against the Communists, it must take the next step, and if that should happen, God alone knows what the over-all effect will be in this grand young country.
According to reports, the Government proposes to interfere with the domestic affairs of industrial organizations. Members of the Liberal party in the last Parliament frankly discussed their views in that respect, and the then Loader of the Opposition, Mr. Menzies, introduced a bill to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act for that purpose. Speaking as a trade unionist who has received eulogies from Ministers, I say, from my complete understanding of the position, that every industrial union, however militant or reactionary it may be. will resist any attempt by any government, Labour or non-Labour, to interfere with its domestic affairs. The Australian “Workers Union is often accused by so-called militants of being a reactionary organization. Although the > methods that it has adopted from time to time have not always been right, the Australian “Workers Union has consistently observed the principle that no Communist shall hold any of its official positions. However, that organization will let the Government know its views about any -attempt to interfere in the domestic affairs of trade unions, and will resist legislation to that end with everything at its command. I am not in a position to speak as an officer of the Australian Workers Union, and what I say is merely the opinion that I have formed after discussions with the highest union officials in this country, but I believe that every penny that the Australian Worker? Union possesses will be thrown into l!ie fight to resist interference by any government with its domestic affairs. The same attitude will be adopted by the Communistdominated unions, so that unions comprising the extreme Bight, the extreme Left and the centre of the. industrial movement will be arrayed against the Government in this matter. Many years ago, long before my time, my position as an official of a trade union in this country was made easy by the grand fights that were waged by the pioneers of the industrial movement. When I caine into the industrial movement we had our industrial arbitration court awards. -In Queensland we had the preference clause and I just had to see to it that the awards were observed. Men have fought and bled and died in order that we may have an arbitration system in this country and that the workers may have some form of protection against the ruthless and unscrupulous employers of this day. Whilst the position has improved considerably, that type of employer is not entirely nonexistent to-day. One of the things that these trade union pioneers fought for was the right to formulate their own rules and constitution. They did not want any assistance or interference from governments or from anybody else outside. They elected and appointed their own executives and officials and all those people were covered by the rules and constitutions of the respective unions. That is a principle which they hold dear and will never discard.
The previous speaker referred to an interjection at a meeting of the Waterside Workers’ Federation at which some one bellowed out, “ What about a secret ballot?” If the Government wants to test the feeling of the rank and file, I suggest that it should arrange for a secret ballot to be taken of every member of every trade union in this country to ascertain their views on this matter. Let the Government ascertain their views before it introduces any legislation that will have a dominating effect on industrial unions. Let it introduce legislation that will give it the power to conduct a ballot of individual members of trade unions and it will see whether those members believe that there should be interference by the Government in trade union affairs. Honorable members on the Government side of the House are talking about secret ballots and Governmentcontrolled ballots. There is a ballot that they can conduct. I know that the result of it would be an overwhelming majority in favour of governments minding their own business so far as trade unions are concerned. If the Government wants to start a real brawl which will be difficult to suppress, let it try to enforce the observance of a secret ballot in trade unions. I am not saying this, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, because I do not want to see communism suppressed. I have stated before that the industrial machinery existent in this country makes strikes unnecessary. The arbitration system of this country is sufficient to overcome differences in any industrial dispute, however major or however minor that dispute may be. But there will be industrial disputes unprecedented in the history of Australia if the Government insists on interfering with industrial unions.
The honorable member who has just resumed his seat talked about a cooperative effort, as did the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) yesterday evening. He said employees and employers had to get together. Good gracious ! If that were possible it might prove to be the solution of the problem. When this country was at war a conference was arranged in Sydney between employers and employees. All delegates met, apparently with the intention of going into this matter of overcoming industrial disputes and preventing their expansion. The immediate object of the conference was to avoid a spread of a. strike which might have resulted .not only in production in one industry being retarded but also in other industries being similarly affected.
What happened? The employers walked out of that conference. Every union delegate was still seated when the employers’ representatives walked out. The only excuse they could give was that they objected to the chairman, who was no less an identity than Sir William Webb, then Chief Justice of Queensland and now a justice of the High Court of Australia. The reason they gave for walking out of the conference was merely an excuse. What is the good of people talking with tongue in cheek about a cooperative effort between employee and employer? They know that it is all humbug, that it is impossible to achieve co-operation because the employer will never get down to the employee’s level. Of course, there are individual employers who are different. I know that and appreciate it. But, generally speaking, the employer will never get down to the level of sitting around a table with representatives of the employees.
The Minister for Labour and National Service yesterday evening, in another of the great eulogies of the Australian Workers Union, said that it had found a solution of the Communist problem; that by executive action it had decided that no Communist could nominate for any of its offices. I have in front of me an executive councillor of the Australian Workers Union, so I shall not even query whether such a decision was made, but I suggest that if it was made it was futile. The Queensland branch of the Australian Workers Union once made such a decision. For a long time, if wo knew that a nominee for any office was a Communist or had communistic pretentions his nomination was not endorsed. I was president of the executive at the time and take full responsibility for my action. We went along merrily in that way for a long time because the rule book gave us that power. Then there was a dispute with an official of the Australian Workers Union, who challenged in the court the union’s power to refuse endorsement to anybody. The late Mr. Justice » 0’Mara. who was on the Bench, convicted the Australian Workers Union of contempt of court because, some time previously, an application had been made by the Australian Workers Union to have that clause inserted in its rules and the application had been refused by the court. The reason given for the refusal -was that the rule could be operated harshly. Its inclusion was an error. It was not included deliberately. I do not want to say anything about the person responsible because, God bless him, he is dead and gone and he was a grand Australian citizen. That was the attitude adopted by the late Mr. Justice 0’Mara when he refused to impose a fine. He said the error was made by this nian in the evening of his life-time. But thereafter the executive of the Australian Workers Union could not refuse endorsement to anybody and it was placed at a great disadvantage in that any man who proves his bonafides so far as membership is concerned can nominate and must go to a ballot whether lie is a criminal, a wife-beater, a Communist or anything else. I know the Minister spoke in good faith because he had obtained his information from a newspaper, but the legal position is that no such thing can take place. The only way in which the Australian Workers Union can prevent Communists from holding office in its organization is by doing what every other union must do. It must get out into the field and fight communism; not only when they seek office but also organize its membership to oppose them.
Governments can legislate until they are blue in the face; there can be talk about suppression by legislation or regulation; the solution of the Communist menace is in the palms of the hands of the rank-and-file members’ of the industrial unions. When the decent and sane members of unions make up heir minds to shed the apathy they have displayed in the past and go to their union meetings with the intention of insisting that they shall be heard instead of staying away and allowing Communists to dominate the meetings, communism will be ended because a substantial majority of the workers in industry are completely antiCommunist. The Communist membership of trade unions is in the minority and when the members of those organizations make up their minds that they are not going to have these people ‘dictating to them, then, and then only, will communism be ended. [Extension of time granted.’] I challenge’ the Government upon the issue of communism, to follow its policy through to its logical conclusion.
– It will accept the challenge.
– I do not know what authority the honorable member has to commit the Government to acceptance of the challenge; but, as he has assumed that authority, the Government must now carry out its policy. I had an interesting experience in Queensland recently, when I met members of the Townsville City Council. By some tragic mischance, the Labour membership of that body was displaced and, all of a sudden, we found that not one Labour man belonged to it. The present members claim to be non-political. Be that as it may, they are certainly not representatives of Labour interests. I discussed the subject of communism with members of the council. One alderman asked rue, “What is your Government going to do about the dismissal from office of Communists in the Public Service?”. He did not refer only to Communists holding key positions, which might involve the security of the nation, but spoke of all Communists in the Public Service. That question gave rise to a wide range of .problems. I could never agree that a person ought to be sacked from his job because of his politics. The dismissal of Communists who might endanger national security, which was proposed by the Government that the people unwisely dislodged at the last genera] election, would be a. different matter altogether. If every Communist employed in the Commonwealth Public Service were to be dismissed, it would be logical to dismiss also all Communists in the services of the States. But the application of the principle would have to bp carried further that that. It would also be necessary to dismiss employees of private enterprise. What would be the use of a big employer urging a government to dismiss Communists in its employ, if he failed to sack avowed members of the Communist party in his own employ? If this policy of dismissing Communists from their jobs were to be pursued to its logical end, the outcome would be both tragic and ridiculous.
I believe that there are between 12,000 and 15,000 known members of the Communist party in Australia. In 1939, prior to the outbreak of war, the total membership of the party was about 30,000. Apart from any other consideration, those figures prove conclusively that the Communist party in Australia is on the way out. Accepting the lowest figure that I have mentioned, one may reasonably assume that 6,000 of the 12,000 known Communists in the country are bread-winners, the remainder being wives or other dependants. If the Government decided to sack all Communists on its pay-roll, the State governments would have to follow suit of necessity, and private employers who were sincere in the matter would have to do likewise. Then we should have at least 6,000 people walking the streets unemployed. No doubt some people will say that they ought to be deported. I recall the right, honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Hughes) being asked whether he would provide ships to transport Communists to Russia, and his reply, “ No, I would make them swim “. The right honorable member knows, as do the real of us, that most of the Communists in this country were born here, and that, whether the Government proposed to transport them in ships, trains, aeroplanes or billy-goat carts, it could not deport them. As I have said, the. logical result of the Government’s policy would be that we should have 6,000 unemployed bread-winners roaming the streets. In that situation, if the Government remained sincere, it would refuse to pay social services benefits to them because the only citizens entitled to unemployment benefit are the unemployed, not the unemployable such as those men and women would be. Nothing can be gained by opening our mouths and bellowing about the Communists without giving duo weight to the facts.
– Hear, hear!
– I notice an honorable gentleman, whom I should consider to be an aspiring recruit for the New Guard, giggling behind the’ ministerial bench, as he often does. What does he suggest that we should do with the Communists if we forced them out of employment? Would the Government throw them into concentration camps?
– Why not?
– That is most certainly what would happen if the Government pursued its policy.
The only people who talk lightly about attacking communism are those who know nothing about the subject. Many of them have a surface hatred not only of Communists but also of other members of industrial organizations, and their attitude towards the Communists could easily lead to the persecution of loyal militant members of trade unions. It would be futile for the Government to claim that it knows every member of the Communist party in Australia because, obviously, it can have no such knowledge. It may think that it is keeping a close check of the Communists with its security organization, but that is not so. Under its policy, somebody would have to decide who was a Communist and who was not, and such a system could easily lead to men being put out of the way merely because they had the temerity to demand their industrial and social rights.
I thank honorable members for their tolerance. I have made a special endeavour not to be provocative, and I conclude by referring briefly to the fact that we on this side of the House are the Opposition, and not the Government. For my purpose, it will be sufficient if I quote these words from, the poem “Not Understood “, by Thomas Bracken -
Poorsouls with stunted vision
Oft measure giants by their narrow gauge ;
Poisoned shafts of falsehood and derision
Are oft impelled ‘gainst those who mould the age.
.- Like all other honorable members, I can sincerely say that the occasion of his maiden speech is one of the grimmest ordeals that confronts any man who enters public life. My only consolation in the circumstances is that every other honorable member has either passed through the ordeal or is waiting now to “go over the top “. I have the great privilege and honor of representing the electorate of Boothby in South Australia, and I take this early opportunity to refer publicly to the conduct of the election campaign in that division. I pay a tribute to my opponent, Mr. Ralph Wells, for the excellent example that he set.
Not one angry word was spoken throughout the campaign in Boothby and, after the result had been decided, I drove with Mr. Wells to the declaration of the poll. The only point upon which he and I were in agreement was our disapproval of the method of declaring the poll. It was most unsatisfactory. The ceremony was held in the back room of the electoral office in Unley-road, and was attended only by the returning officer, the two candidates, and the town clerk and his staff. That was a departure from the procedure that had been followed on previous occasions, and I suggest that such ceremonies in future be properly advertised so that citizens may have the opportunity to attend, and perhaps thereby acquire a greater respect for this institution and what it represents.
I listened with a great deal of interest to the honorable . member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds). He spoke with dignity and earnestness and obviously fully believed everything that he said. Although he and I have nothing in common politically, at least it might be said that there is some slight resemblance between us physically. I hasten to pay a tribute to Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron). Having had a very close association with the honorable gentleman as the honorable member for Barker, I assure all honorable members who have not been equally privileged that, from my observations of his work on behalf of ex-servicemen, both as a member of the Parliament of South Australia and later as a member of this Parliament, and above all from my knowledge of his family background, I know that he is equipped with all the attributes that are necessary for the discharge of the duties of his office. I have no doubt that he will be fearless, just and tolerant, and that he will bring credit not only to the State of South Australia but also to this deliberative assembly before the time comes, in the dim distant future, for him to hand over the reins of office to his successor. I pay a tribute to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) for the example that they set for the benefit of those who were associated with them in the election campaign. Much has been said about an alleged lack of unity between the parties that they represent. Such talk is utter’ rubbish. Australia has never had more capable political leaders at any time in its history.
Having listened intently to previous speakers in this debate, I am convinced that there is an array of talent and ability on this side of the chamber that will always be available to the Prime Minister. Above all, he will have the continued support of a loyal and unswerving group of men, whose common aim is to assist him in guiding the destiny of Australia.
I take advantage of this occasion to pay my respects to the Throne. The people of Australia were keenly disappointed when they learned that the King and Queen would be unable to carry out their projected tour of Australia in 1949. I was closely associated with the arrangements that were made for their visit to South Australia, and my opinion is that the itinerary that was prepared for them was far too strenuous. In the circumstances, I suggest that any arrangements for a. later visit by Their Majesties shall be so made that the health of the King will not be in any way jeopardized. I trust that the tour will not be confined to one or two cities. If that be done there will be the greatest criticism from every capital city in Australia. The royal visit will give to the people of Australia an opportunity to show their loyalty to the Throne and how much they appreciate the part played by Their Majesties during the war years and the example which they set to the world in staying with their people and sharing their dangers and difficulties. In the transitional period since the war the demeanour of Their Majesties has set an example which should be followed by the Empire as a whole.
Those of us who are newcomers to the Parliament are well aware that we shall not continue to enjoy the privilege of immunity from interjection which is extended to us during the making of our maiden speeches. All I ask is that honorable members will be as tolerant, dignified and reasonable as possible. My past experience in public life has not been of any great political significance. My chief association with- it has been in local government affairs, and in such circumstances I am qualified to think only in terms of such service. My responsibilities, as I see them, will be to watch the interests not only of my own electorate, but also of the Commonwealth as a whole, and, in collaboration with other honorable members, to ensure that such legislation as is passed in this Parliament shall benefit the nation as a whole. It is also our responsibility to give our electors an opportunity to have their views placed before this chamber. In respect of local government problems, South Australia is in no way different from other States of the Commonwealth. All local governing bodies have problems which are peculiarly their own, although some are more serious than others. In South Australia the most serious problem that faces local governing bodies is the provision of finance. A statement which has been prepared by the Town Clerk of Adelaide for submission to the Adelaide City Council shows that for every £100 raised in 1933 for the purpose of financing the responsibilities of local government, £262 has now to be provided. That huge increase is not peculiar to the City of Adelaide but is common throughout the Commonwealth. All local governing bodies are very concerned about the future. I understand that the Treasurer (Mi-. Fadden) is considering a proposal that the Commonwealth should accept some share of the responsibility of financing local government activities throughout Australia by making a contribution, in lieu of rates, to local governing bodies in respect of Common.wealth properties I do not think that it is fair for the Commonwealth to hide under the protection of the Crown at a time when ratepayers have to carry such a heavy financial burden. The adoption of such a proposal will give great encouragement to the members of the local governing bodies who serve in an honorary capacity and do an excellent job for the communities for whose services they are responsible.
In common with the other States, South Australia, has for many years given close consideration to the problem of the prevention of disease. All local governing bodies have taken an active part in the campaign for the immunization of children against the scourge of diphtheria. In that work they have received the co-operation and support, not only of the State government, hut also of the Australian Government. The Adelaide City Council was the first local governing body in the Commonwealth to form an X-ray committee to attack the scourge of tuberculosis. Up to the present more than 180,000 citizens, including children, have been X-rayed by that committee in a check to discover whether or not they had tuberculosis. When the Australian Government wisely announced its decision to accept responsibility for the provision of a service of that kind throughout the Commonwealth, we were somewhat disturbed at having involved the ratepayers of Adelaide in financing the earlier scheme. We approached the Commonwealth for a subsidy to assist in meeting the cost of the work that had already been done, but were amazed by its refusal to grant it. Even though an amendment of the act may be necessary I urge the Government to consider the granting of such a subsidy. Unless Commonwealth assistance is forthcoming this service which is of untold value to the citizens of South Australia may well go out of existence.
Among other problems that concern local governing bodies and the community generally, and the one in which I am . particularly interested, is the shortage of semi-trained nurses and hospital domestic staffs. A home for the care of persons who have been declared to be suffering from incurable diseases has been established in my State. Though the waiting list for admission to the home contains an alarming number of names because of the shortage of semi-trained nurses and domestic staffs there are at present 50 unoccupied beds in the institution. Action should be taken to remedy that state of affairs which exists not only in the institution to which I have referred, but also in a tremendous number of maternity hospitals throughout the Commonwealth. Large numbers of maternity hospitals have had to be closed and expectant mothers have been placed in a serious position because of the shortage of staffs.
Much has been said about the necessity to bring .about closer co-operation between capital and labour. In the past I have been closely associated with political loaders and the chief officers of the Australian Council of Trades Unions and the Trades and Labour Council in my own State. I believe that all of them have set an example in co-operation which might well be followed in other States. I have had the great advantage of having served overseas with a large number of members of trade unions. I am confident that they are as loyal and as interested in the welfare of Australia as is any honorable member on this side of the House. I pay a tribute to the trade unions for the great assistance which they rendered in the making of arrangements foi- the Royal tour of South Australia and for the active part which they took in raising the necessary funds to ensure the success of the visit of Their Majesties.
At present an appeal is being made in South Australia for £100,000 to augment the fund that is to be made available by the Australian Government to assist the medical profession in the fight against cancer. The executive of the appeal committee includes in its membership the representatives not only of big business - the shell-backed, tories - but also of trade unions and other industrial groups. Thi ring the week-end, as the result of a “ round-robin “ in one organization alone, no less than £300 was collected for the cause. The generous spirit that prevails in South Australia may well be emulated by the people of other States. After a period of trial and error in which I shall be gaining experience I hope to be able to do justice to the people who are responsible for my presence in this Parliament. It is the duty of every honorable member to uphold the dignity and importance of this House. Since I have been privileged to be here I have listened intently to the speeches that have been made by honorable members who have participated in this debate. When I listened to the speech of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) I could not help thinking what a glorious example he set, not only to honorable mem bers on his side of the House but also -to the Parliament generally, by his practical approach to the problems which he discussed. If the honorable gentleman were not the representative of the electorate of Bendigo, in Victoria, one might be pardoned for thinking that he had been born and bred in and represented the State from which I come. The sentiments that he expressed are held in many circles and indicate how easy it should be for us to work with him. We should have sympathy with the representatives of the trade union movement. We know how difficult it is at times for them to discipline their own colleagues.
As a new member, I have been most impressed by the enormous responsibilities that have to be accepted by Ministers of the Crown and by the departments that they administer. When I visited government offices in quest of information about certain problems, I was astonished by the tremendous volume of work with which Ministers had to deal. We should lighten this work as far as possible by asking our constituents not to bother them unnecessarily until they have had an opportunity to get their feet on to the ground. I feel like an old man when I see so many exservicemen in the Cabinet. Their training in the services, with its emphasis on the spirit of “ one for all and all for one “, has equipped them with the ability te. render excellent service to the Commonwealth. I listened with some amusement to the banter that was indulged in by honorable members opposite, particularly by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). As one of the founders of the moat modern cemetery in South Australia, with experience in the consideration of such problems as the length, width and depth of a grave, the height of a tombstone, grassverges and the like, I am thoroughly qualified to offer advice relative to the political burial ceremony that will’ take place after the next general election. I assure the honorable member for Parkes that I shall be present at the obsequies in my bluchers and bowyangs.
– I have not been a member of this House for very much longer than those honorable members who have arrived only recently. I, too, have listened with great pleasure to the speeches of honorable members who have come here as recruits. During this debate, we have had a freshness of view and a sincerity that have been very welcome in this Parliament. I trust that those good features will continue. I agree with the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. McLeay) that there has been a pleasing tone in the speeches that have been delivered by new members and I trust that that pleasantness will be a feature of future debates. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) spoke of the Government’s intention to take active steps to combat communism, and he was pleased to indicate what he thought those steps would be. In point of fact, we do not yet know what the Government proposes to do in order to deal with the Communist party. However, we at least know that, unlike the preceding Government, this Government will do something about the Communist menace. Knowing that the honorable member has been a consistent opponent of the Communist party, I find it almost impossible to understand his views on this matter. The honorable member has said, in effect, “Here is a great and growing organization in Australia which is opposed to everything for which our country stands. We say that to oppose it, and to take steps against it, is only to encourage it “.
– I did not say that.
– If I have not correctly interpreted the words of the honorable gentleman, I trust that he will enlighten me as to what he did say. The theme that is adopted by honorable members opposite in relation to the Communists is to do nothing lest we drive that party underground. They contend that the Communists thrive on opposition, and that if we drive the movement underground, we shall, in some mysterious way, strengthen it. That statement is amazing. In Europe, where the forces of democracy and freedom are being driven underground by the Communists, does any one imagine that they are being strengthened? Does any one believe that the forces of liberty and democracy in Poland, Hungary, Roumania and other countries under Russian control will be strengthened by being driven underground and by being prevented from working effectively? Taking active steps against the party must weaken it. The Government has not said that it will prosecute people or put them in concentration camps, as the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) said he would do with members of the Communist party. But it does say that it will not grant them the facilities for carrying on their work that were granted to them by the previous Government. This Government strongly disapproves of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), when Attorney-General having lifted the ban from the party and allowed it to have newsprint with which to publish its propaganda. It also disapproves of his having consented to its having telephones and other facilities which have enabled it to build up the machinery by means of which the menace has assumed such a threatening form. To take any other stand than that which the Government is taking would be to do the work of the Communists. Every Communist in Australia must echo the words of the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds). It would suit them very well if the Government did nothing about their activities. It is time the honorable member considered carefully his attitude on this matter, because it advances the interests of the Communist party,
On an occasion like this, one does not want to gloat over the spectacle which meets the eye when glancing around the House to-day, in contrast with the state of .the parties in the last Parliament. However, it would be strange if honorable members on this side of the House did not say that it is most gratifying to observe the change in the public opinion of this country which the recent general election revealed. A great part of the success of the parties represented on this side of the House must be attributed to the leaders of those parties, particularly the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). From time .to time we shall witness attempts by honorable members opposite to discredit the Prime Minister personally, and to alienate him from the affections of his party. I assure honorable members opposite unhesitatingly that we recognize that the Prime Minister is the man who brought the Liberal party to victory, and showed the people of this country exactly where socialist Labour was leading them.
Listening to the debate on the Address.inReply. it seemed to me that honorable members opposite showed a lack of realism, because they must have realized that the programme of development which the Government proposes to follow, and which it indicated in His Excellency’s Speech, was endorsed by the people of Australia on the 10th December last. The alternative before the people was put with the aid of the vast resources and the great propaganda machine of the Labour party. Therefore, it is useless for honorable members opposite ,to rail against what is to be done. If they do so they will be upbraiding the people who decided not to put them back into office. We have been accused of having lacked grace in our attitude towards the previous Government. Honorable members opposite would do well to accept in a better spirit the verdict of the people.
I enjoyed the speech of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), which was a model of form. However. it gave a totally false impression of the state of the country and of the party upon which responsibility for its welfare rested. According to the honorable member the Australian Labour party and the Australian Council of Trades Unions battled valiantly against the enormous vested interests of some faction which they contend controls the country, and were powerless in their great struggle to arrest the upward trend of the cost of living. It was suggested that they were hampered in some mysterious way. That is a most footling point of view, because for the last eight years a Labour Government has been in power in this country. Moreover, the trade unions have been at the pinnacle of their strength during that period. The Labour party and the trade unions then controlled the affairs of Australia and if any section is to be blamed for rising prices, the difficulty of meeting living costs, the shortage of houses and so on, then it must be those bodies. They have had unfettered leadership of this country since they came to power eight years ago, and I hope that we shall hear no more of this completely bogus approach to the problems of to-day. It has been said that they arrived in Canberra only recently and have found only in the last three months that the cost of living had skyrocketed. The inference is that in some curious way this Government has brought about the present state of affairs. That the workers realize who are responsible was shown by their verdict at the last general election. Honorable members opposite choose to sneer when the Government suggests that it will take certain steps to put more value into the fi. It is is a great pity tha t when they sat on this side, of the House they did not take steps of a. similar nature to lower the cost of living.
It is a source of gratification and pride to honorable members on this side of the House that the Government has decided to implement at last a fully effective form of defence for Australia. If any one is inclined to criticize that proposed action he must remember that the issue was put squarely to the people in the Government’s election platform. Whenever I spoke during my recent election campaign I did not fail to tell my audiences exactly what I thought about universal military training, and I was returned with a greatly increased majority. Therefore, it is the will of the people that all necessary steps shall be taken to ensure that this country shall be adequately defended. During the election campaign I heard some most contemptible speeches by honorable members opposite on the proposed defence scheme. I heard the honorable member for Melbourne and the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) say that the Government would bring in a scheme to conscript the sons of the workers and force them to do military training while leaving outside the scheme the sons of those who were privileged or well-to-do.
– That is all too true.
– I do not for one moment believe that the honorable member regards it as the truth. His interjection is complete humbug. Because of his conduct in this place, it is a great pity that he had not a longer term of service in His Majesty’s forces than that which he described to this House. Great play is made of the proposition that the workers will be called up and trained to defend themselves. Why should that not be so? Every honorable member with some experience knows that when the country is attacked it is the sons of the workers who have to fill the ranks of the armies that are raised to defend it. It is the workers who fill the battalions and the fighting ships. If, in the future, we have to call on our citizens again, then surely the least that we can offer them is training that will give them the necessary skill to defend themselves, so that we shall not again witness the spectacle of men from this country being rushed to various theatres of war improperly led, half trained, and with very little prospect of success or survival. We do not know the details of the Government’s scheme, but we can be sure that it will interrupt to a minimum the economic life of the country. If the members of the trade unions wish to co-operate with the Government, and as loyal citizens they should do so, then they will welcome any scheme for the training of the men of Australia to defend the country if they should be called upon to do so.
On other occasions when matters in relation to New Guinea have been debated the House has been forced to listen to a great deal of illinformed cant by honorable members opposite. Last night the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) said that in the past the administration of the territories controlled by this country had been placed on a purely political level in consequence of which it had deteriorated greatly over the years. In order to view the problem of those territories in a true light, we should eliminate nonsense and consider why we hold them. We hold New Guinea not because we want to uplift the natives or to be a lease-holder for the United Nations, but, because in the time of our grandfathers men were wise enough to realize that they must be held if Australia was to survive and remain secure. I shall not bore the House with a geographical description of New Guinea. As many honorable members on this side of the House know from first-hand experience, its prospects are very great. It is a very large country, rich in soil and in minerals. There are timber, coal, iron, and probably oil, even in our part of New Guinea. There is certainly oil in Dutch New Guinea. The soil will grow a great variety of crops that are in great demand at the present time. New Guinea is the last undeveloped country in all the world. It is not a question of whether New Guinea will be developed and populated; it is simply a question - one that must be answered quickly - of whether we Australians are going to hold and develop New Guinea, or whether we are going to footle along preserving the country as a sort of anthropological museum until the hungry and overcrowed nations that lie to our north move in, supported, quite rightly, by world opinion. We must either develop New Guinea, or make up our minds to lose it. If we are to get on with the job, we must recognize that we cannot continue to keep New Guinea as a reserve for the natives. We must develop it. We cannot go on indefinitely delaying development, and excluding settlers and industries as we are doing now. I do not think that it is possible to control New Guinea intelligently and efficiently from Canberra, as we are trying to do. Prom Canberra, we control many things at the present time. For instance, we control Canberra itself. I am open to correction by honorable members, but I do not think that a marvellous job has been done in administering the affairs of Canberra from Canberra. Certainly, a very poor job has been done of running the Northern Territory from Canberra, but the difficulty of trying to do that is as nothing compared with the difficulty of trying to run from Canberra overseas territory which is completely foreign to Australia. So great is the accent on control of New Guinea from Canberra that the local administration cannot erect a building without referring the matter to Canberra.
Let me utter a solemn warning on this point, because recently mismanagement by Australia of the island of Nauru was brought to public attention, and became, in a minor way, a public scandal. If we attempt to go on. controlling New Guinea through men who know very little about it, we shall encounter the same kind of trouble again. I hope that, as a result of the recent change of government, there will be a more realistic approach to this matter of administering external territories. I am glad that, as Minister for External Territories, we have an energetic and able man, assisted by an under-secretary who himself possesses a first-hand knowledge of the territories.
Honorable members must have observed the increasing tendency of the United Nations to interfere with the administration of New Guinea. That is something which I can only believe to be completely mischievous, unnecessary and wrong. There is, as the right honorable member for Barton knows, a Trusteeship Council set up by the United Nations. On that council are members who know something about colonial problems, but there are also nations which know nothing whatsoever about such problems. There is, for example, Russia. No one need doubt that the Russian contribution to the deliberations of the Trusteeship Council is entirely mischievous. Its efforts are always directed towards breaking down the tribal life of the natives. Russia now proposes to send to New Guinea a committee of inquiry, and I have no doubt that that body will make all sorts of foolish recommendations. The Russians have even suggested that the United Nations flag should be flown in New Guinea alongside the Australian flag. In answer to that suggestion, I ask, what .has the United Nations ever done to help us to get or to hold New Guinea? It is a preposterous proposal. I suggest that it be dealt with in exactly the same way as the Government dealt with the claim of the Indonesians to New Guinea. Incidentally, had it not been for the action of honorable members opposite when they formed the Government, Ibo Indonesians would not be in such a strong position as they are in to-day. We may be sure that what the Indonesians have said about New Guinea is echoed in the minds of the people inhabiting all the overcrowded Asiatic territories that lie to the north of Australia. I hope that in the future we shall strengthen our hold on New Guinea, which we won by our own efforts, and for which we paid so heavy a price.
.- At the outset of my remarks, may I join with other honorable members in paying tribute to you, Mr. Speaker, upon your elevation to the Chair? In this House, which is the quintessence of democracy, yours is the obligation to direct, to the best advantage, the efforts of those of us who stand on the floor of this chamber, seeking as we do, in our small way, to contribute to the welfare of the people of Australia and humanity as a whole. In offering you my congratulations, may I express the wish that you may have a long and enjoyable term in office and that the duration of that term will be marked by greater welfare for the people of Australia? I also take advantage of this opportunity to congratulate the honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann) upon his election as Chairman of Committees.
I propose to touch upon only two aspects of the matters that were dealt with by the Governor-General in his Speech. The first is of foremost importance to Western Australia, namely, the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States. Already, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has announced his intention to convene an early meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers to consider those relations. That announcement will be welcomed throughout Australia, and particularly in Western Australia. It is not generally realized that the area of Western Australia is one-third that of the whole continent, whereas the population of Western Australia is only one-fourteenth of that of the Commonwealth. Because of the great distances, and the comparatively small population, very heavy financial demands are necessarily made on the State government. In the past, lip service has been paid to the need for developing the west. It is of the utmost importance that members of this Parliament should recognize that, from a defence point of view, Western Australia is probably the most vulnerable part of the Commonwealth. For that reason alone, it is imperative that the population of the State shall be increased, and that our industries shall be developed. Western Australia, of course, is not alone in its concern over the increasing government expenditure which has become necessary during the last few years; but because of its isolation and vast distances, as “well as its small population, is probably worse off than any other State. In the past, Western Australia was able to meet its ever-increasing expenditure only by approaching the Commonwealth Grants Commission for assistance. However, it must be obvious to every one that large grants to the ‘States can be continued only while Commonwealth revenue is buoyant, and even the most optimistic must realize that that happy state of affairs will not continue indefinitely. If, or when, Commonwealth revenue is no longer bouyant, what then? The States will continue such expenditure as is necessary, and they will continue to rely upon handouts from the Commonwealth to cover their deficits, but those handouts will not be f forthcoming. It is necessary for Western Australia to develop, but development will be possible only if reasonable financial relations are established with the Commonwealth. Existing relations are unsatisfactory. Under the Constitution, the States have certain functions to perform, but if they are to perform those functions they must control sufficient resources to meet their commitments, and to give effect to a reasonable policy of expansion. In Western Australia, there has been, and there will be, no extravagance. Any one who has served in a State parliament knows that money can be expended to better advantage by State authorities than by a central government situated more than 2,000 miles away. Indeed, local authorities can usually carry out works at a much lower cost than even the State government. I mention that point in order to emphasize the fact that under decentralization money can be expended to the best advantage. The position at present is that, whilst the States are responsible for services such as education, hospitals and transport, they are literally starved for funds, yet the Commonwealth is able to spend lavishly upon less important functions. For the reasons that I have given, I trust that the conference that is to be convened to discuss Commonwealth-State financial relations will recommend a basis for improving the existing situation. To
Western Australia, that matter is of the utmost importance.
I turn now to an industry that can mean a great deal to Australia, particularly during the acute dollar shortage. I refer to our tuna-fishing potential. By developing that industry we shall provide employment for many Australians and earn much-needed dollars for this country. The Australian coastline is approximately 12,000 miles long, yet our fishing industry is confined largely to catching small quantities of fish for the domestic market. In the knowledge that our fishing resources are virtually untouched, I have asked research officers in the canning and fishing industries the following question : “ What species of fish in Australian waters offers the greatest possibilities for industrial development ? “. The reply has been, without exception, “ Tuna. Develop our tuna resources “. In the United States of America, tuna is termed the “ chicken of the sea “. It supports a canning industry second in importance only to the salmon. In 1948 the United States Pacific Coast pack of tuna exceeded 7,000,000 cases. We in Australia have the tuna at our doorstep, as it were, but we have ignored that fish because we are not acquainted with the latest, highly involved techniques of tuna fishing.
There are many varieties of tuna. The average weight of that fish is probably between 20 and 40 lb., but seme specimens weigh more than 250 lb. American fishermen, by using the latest ‘methods, take the tuna in extremely large quantities. In two or three hours, one vessel may catch between 30 and 40 tons, and hauls of 100 tons daily by a single boat are not uncommon. I shall mention one of the several methods of catching tuna, because it may be of interest to honorable members. It is known as live-bait .fishing. A number of fishermen fish simultaneously from the stern of the vessel. Each man uses a short bamboo pole to which a short line is attached. A shoal of tuna is sprayed with water, which has the effect of inciting and inducing them to bite.
Before the outbreak of World War II., the Japanese explored the Pacific Ocean for tuna, and, at one period, they accounted for 68 per cent, of the world’s production of that fish. Before the war, Japanese exports of tuna to the United States of America were valued at more than 1,000,000 dollars a year. In addition, Japan exported large quantities of frozen tuna to America. The pack of canned tuna in California has been increasing rapidly during the last few years, but the important fact is that the demand for that fish in the United. States of America is practicably insatiable. “Warehouses begin and end the tuna season with their supplies exhausted. In their efforts to catch more tuna, Americans are increasing the range of their vessels, and they scour the Pacific Ocean for that fish. They are making every effort to .find more fishing grounds. The Pish and “Wild Life Service of the United States has worked out what is known as a Pacific Ocean fisheries programme, with the object of acquiring information that will be useful in developing fishing in subtropical and tropical areas of the Pacific Ocean. The American Congress has allocated more than 1,000,000 dollars for that purpose.
The occurrence of tuna in the areas that have been surveyed in Australia to date has been relatively close to our shores. Two of our main tuna areas are located in close proximity to centres of manufacture and consumption. While the Americans are sending their vessels distances of 3,000 miles for the fish, Australians have it at their doorstep, but are not doing anything to exploit that wealth. The information that is already possessed by Australia about its tuna resources is infinitely greater than that which was available to the Californian industry when it began to develop its tuna resources. According to our present knowledge of the position, there are three main areas in Australian waters that may be the major zones for operations. The first is in south-eastern Australia, the second is in South Australia, and the third is in northwest Australia, between Shark Bay and Broome. Those are three known zones in which tuna abound. Other areas may become equally important when they have been carefully surveyed. Even the north of Western Australia is relatively much closer to large centres of population than the area in America where most of the tuna is taken to United States centres of population. Yet, except for small quantities of tuna taken at Eden, in New South Wales, there is no commercial fishing for tuna in Australia at present. There is not one boat specifically built or equipped for tuna fishing in Australia. Until we have such a boat .and until we have men who are familiar with the latest techniques of tuna-fishing demonstrating to us how to catch tuna, our tuna resources will remain untouched.
But there is an answer to the problem of exploiting our tuna resources. We can follow the example of the South Africans. They are in very much the same position as ourselves. Recently the South African Government purchased a tuna-fishing vessel from California and engaged the crew. That crew will sail that vessel to South Africa and show South Africans how to catch tuna. We should follow that example. We need not purchase a vessel. We can charter one and engage the crew. We can handle all the tuna that can be caught in Australia. We have the canning facilities. We have the fishermen once they are shown how to catch tuna. All that we need in a tuna vessel and an experienced crew to introduce methods of tuna-fishing into Australia. Australians will do the rest. And then very shortly we shall have Australian boats coming in laden with tuna as do the tuna vessels of America. Australians will then do the rest. I forecast that, with such a beginning, Australian boats would soon be coming to our ports laden with tuna, as do the tuna boats of America.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I had said that we have tuna around the entire Australian coastline and that research has established that there are three main tuna areas in Australia, in close proximity to centres of manufacture and consumption. The demand for tuna in the United States of America has been insatiable. America can take all the tuna that Australia can supply. Yet, our tuna resources in this country have been virtually untouched, simply because we are not acquainted with the lastest involved techniques of tuna fishing.
We speak frequently of the need to develop the north of Western Australia. This is an opportunity to establish an industry in that part of the Commonwealth. Such a vessel as I have mentioned could be stationed at any of the north-west ports such as Carnarvon, Port Hedland, Onslow and Broome, or on the south-eastern coast of Australia or in South Australia. The catch in Western Australia could be snap frozen and transported to Perth and canned there. We have tuna resources in Australia, not 3,000 miles away from markets as they are in America, but on our very doorstep. We have the opportunity of establishing an industry in Australia that will provide a livelihood for many Australians and that will earn much-needed dollars for this country because there is an unlimited demand for our tuna in America. Let us charter a vessel and engage a crew and give these benefits to Australia.
In conclusion, I thank the House for its extremely attentive hearing. May this new Government ever fight for newer and wider bounds of individual freedom, for a. justice nearer perfection and for absolute integrity both in public and in private life.
.- Before offering a few observations on the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply, I wish to make it clear that I concur entirely with the remarks made in the Governor-General’s Speech which gave a very excellent exposition of policies which I believe will bring this country to a state of stability and progress in excess of any standard that has been achieved in the last decade. Amongst the many speeches that have been delivered in the House during the Address-in-Reply, one that specially commended itself was the speech of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey). In matter,_ it represents about 15 per cent, of the policy of this Government. I think that if the honorable member for Bendigo can convince the members of his own party of the correctness of the submissions that he made to the House he will do a great service to the community. His speech was delivered without rancour. That is a quality that, unfortunately, has been present also in a number of speeches made by his colleagues. I congratulate the honorable member for Bendigo, who is the ex-president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, on his speech. If the manifold problems of this country are to be discussed constructively in this House, the speech delivered by the honorable member for Bendigo will form an excellent example of the kind of speech that is needed.
The honorable members who use the proceedings of this House in order to try to convince, not only the members of the House, but also the vast listening audience of their bitter hatred of private enterprise are doing a great disservice to the system under which we work in this country. Good industrial relations are as important as good civil relations and honorable members who are endeavouring to cause hatred and a feeling of rancour towards members of the community who do not feel the same way towards industrial problems as themselves are creating a civil disturbance in the community which is completely comparable with creating bad industrial relations. The employer and the employee are much more friendly than we are led to believe they are by many of the honorable members on the Opposition benches. I think that that friendly feeling will grow by the encouragement of this Government. It is true that better relations between both parties are dependent upon many things; but it is also true that a small section of this community who knows that the progress of this country depends on these factors have set themselves out to destroy 4- good relations of employer and employee. Their aim is to discredit the employer at all times, particularly the employer who is not prepared to follow their leadership. These subversive people find very fertile ground in some unions, particularly those key unions which play such an important part in the production of essential goods which are required so urgently in order to improve the standard of living and add to the amenities of the wage-earner. The freedom of democracy affords very great opportunity to these people who work uninterruptedly towards the destruction of the good relations which would normally exist between employer and employee.
It must afford the members of the Communist party a particular pleasure to hear the speeches of some of the honorable members of the Opposition who are so evidently following a pattern which they themselves are endeavouring to foster outside. The pattern always highlights attacks on private enterprise, a method that is materially assisting their own policy in creating bitterness and classhatred in their own country. Australia has been notably free from any definite divisions between sections of the community and those who work to create such divisions are working against the interests of this country. Democracy has always been reluctant to interfere with the liberties of the people, but in this atomic era democracy must consider revising its rules, otherwise these so-called supporters will achieve their object in destroying democracy. I do not believe that there is any difference between a man such as Dr. Fuchs who is prepared to sell atomic secrets to a foreign power and the man who is prepared to take his directions from a foreign country in order to disturb industrial relations and create disobedience against the civil laws of this country.
The doctrine and propaganda which seeks to show that the employer is a man without heart and soul are not true. Statistics show that, in this country the ii umber of employers who have risen from the employee class is extremely high. The employee of to-day, in many cases, is th, employer of to-morrow, and in private enterprise the small businessman to-day represents approximately 80 per cent, of the people who are employed in industry. In other words, the 80 per cent, represents a large section of people who are themselves self-employed - that section of the people together with employed who do not exceed twenty in any one industry. The small businessman is doing an excellent job in private enterprise and has established the very best industrial relationships with his own employees. Unfortunately, we constantly hear criticism of small enterprises by honorable members opposite, who make no distinction between such employers and other sections of the community but group all employers together in one class. Small employers have fostered good relationships in industry by adopting systems that operate in the best interests of employees.
Strong action must be taken to protect the community from those individuals whose sole objective is to wreck our democratic structure, and I believe that the time has arrived to take such action. We must develop good industrial relationships so that production may forge ahead, full employment may continue and, most important of all, the money derived from full employment may be used to purchase such amenities of life as homes, food and clothing. Members of the Opposition continually refer to full employment and rising costs, but they entirely ignore the need for full production. “ Full employment “ is a high-sounding phrase that has become popular in political circles during the last ten years, and particularly in the post-war era. The state of full employment in Australia to-day is not the result of the actions of any government. It exists because of the keen demand for our products in other countries. The 40-hour working week has provided more leisure for people and, when it was introduced, it was generally hoped that the additional leisure would be put to good use so that men and women would benefit both mentally and physically. However, tha benefits of full employment and shorter hours of work cannot be enjoyed to the full while family life is sadly restricted by the acute housing shortage. Full production can overcome some of the deficiencies in our daily lives but, according to honorable members opposite, it should have no place in our economy. Production has an important bearing upon the maintenance of peace in industry because the people will be able to enjoy the advantage of the purchasing power that they derive from full employment only when industry can produce adequate supplies of the goods and comforts that are now in short supply. It is obvious that workers in industry are prepared to work for longer hours in order to help to produce the goods that the nation needs. At every week-end one may see on the fringes of every capital city nien working in their spare time on housing projects and even on the construction of factories. Many thousands of workers who undertake odd jobs at week-ends would be better pleased if they could work overtime in some organized way at their ordinary places of employment so that they could help to produce the goods that would enable us all to obtain enough houses and other normal comforts of life. Unfortunately, most people are locked out of their factories at week-ends. Employers find that it is uneconomical to encourage overtime work because laws forbid the operation of certain types of factories at week-ends. The truth is that many men and women who would be happy to work overtime in key industries under a system of incentive payment or profit sharing are prevented from doing so with the result that no progress is being made towards the elimination of bottle-necks in industry.
Every industrial hold-up accentuates the lag of production, and consequently the cost of living is being forced continually upward. I refer again to the remarkable speech made by the honorable member for Bendigo, who said that production had increased considerably in Australia since the inception of the 40- hour week. I have no doubt that certain industries are producing greater quantities of goods than previously, but that fact offers cold comfort to people who are searching desperately for homes. Thousands of people have the money with which to buy houses but are unable to do so because of the tremendous lag in the production of building materials. That fact becomes obvious when one studies the amount of savings bank deposits in Australia at present. The newspapers published to-day a statement issued by the Commonwealth Statistician, Dr. Roland “Wilson, which showed that deposits in savings banks at the 31st January totalled £735,000,000 in 6,000,000 different accounts. Many of those depositors have been saving their money for the specific purpose of buying homes. The fact that there is full employment offers no solace to them when they find that their money cannot provide them with homes. The 40-hour week is, in reality, only a measuring-stick by which wages are computed. Production problems in. our key industries to-day are becoming; increasingly difficult. Some trade unions have definitely instructed their membersnot to work overtime in any circumstances. Such instructions are contrary to the warning that was expressed by theCommonwealth Arbitration Court when it made its momentous decision to introduce a standard 40-hour week. Chief Judge Drake-Brockman said at the time that the court’s decision should not be confused with any suggestion that overtime should not be worked.
Union secretaries are well aware that incentive payments are being made in some industries with great effect. Yet honorable members opposite persist in declaring that such payments can lead only to sweating and are a means of making the wage-earner bend his back a little more. The best of good feeling exists between employers and employees in factories where incentive payment schemes have been put into operation. Employees feel that they are enjoying some of the benefits of their productive ability. Whether such schemes be described as incentive payments or profitsharing is of no consequence. The fact is that they are working successfully in many factories to-day. Union secretaries have even informed managements that, although they do not like the term “ incentive payments”, they would be quite happy to accept the system under some other name. They know that employees are pleased to have such encouragement offered to them, especially when they know that the extra goods that they are producing are badly needed in industry and will help to provide greater comforts for their fellow workers. The Labour party’s objections to incentive payments are somewhat remarkable in tho light of the stand that was taken not long ago by the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley). In August, 1947, that right honorable gentleman called a conference between representatives of the Australian Council of Trades Unions and the employers in certain industries for the purpose of trying to establish an acceptable system of incentive payments as a means of increasing production. The right honorable gentleman had announced upon his return from abroad that Australia must “produce more goods in order to protect its economy. Yet members of the Opposition have talked of everything but increased production during this debate. They decry incentive payments, in spite of the statements that were made on the subject last year by their leader in this House. It is regrettable that the right honorable gentleman’s appeal to the Australian Council of Trades Unions fell upon deaf ears. The scheme for incentive payments and the increase of production was wrecked because of the activities of one of the Communist party’s leaders, Mr. E. Rowe, of the Amalgamated Engineering Union. The Labour party’s present attitude towards incentive payments and increased production is in line with that of the Communist party. I recall that the present honorable member for Bendigo appealed to members of the Australian Council of Trades Unions at the conference that I have mentioned and asked them to support the then Prime Minister. However, his efforts were unavailing and the attempt, to prevent increased production that was organized by the secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering Union succeeded. It seems as though once again it is a matter of the tail wagging the dog.
This Government has a job ahead of it which will appeal to every member of a trade union. The workers should endeavour to ensure that some of the recommendations of their leaders in years gone by are made effective. Their leaders have said that the saving grace of this country is greater production. Greater production will eventually bring more comfort and more amenities to the wage-earner, and the person who endeavours to prevent its achievement does the greatest harm to his fellow workers. Those very words were spoken by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) some years ago. Notwithstanding that, during the last two weeks, and even as late as to-da.y, suggestions have been made by honorable members opposite that incentive payments or profitsharing would undermine the workers. Such conflicting statements have been made throughout the years by spokesmen of the Labour party that one could hardly believe they could have come from representatives of the same section of the community. Full employment without full production will mean very little because of the loss of amenities which can be made possible only by full production. Better industrial relations will follow increased production and greater happiness will be given to those working people who have no homes to return to after their day’s work has ended. The full benefits of the 40-hour week can be enjoyed by the wage-earner only if he enjoys proper comforts and amenities after his daily work has ended. This community would no doubt be prepared to adopt a working week of even fewer than 40 hours if it could supply the amenities that are needed by the people which can come only from full production. Only by full production will we be able to obtain requirements which are in short supply. The relations that exist in small enterprises afford a cardinal example of the good relations that could exist in larger factories if the association of employer and employee were allowed to develop unaffected by the propaganda that we hear from time to time from the very militant members of the Labour party. Honorable members on this side of the house are deeply sincere when they say that they are anxious to bring about better relations between employers and employees in order to achieve the muchneeded additional production which is necessary to supply the comforts of those who are prepared to live within the boundaries of this country. I have much pleasure in supporting the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply.
– I congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your elevation to the chair. Knowing you, as a fellow South Australian, and knowing your capabilities and your determination, I am sure that you will enforce the Standing Orders in a manner which you believe to be in the interests of this House. I was pleased to hear you say, when you were elected to office, that you would protect the rights of honorable members. No honorable member, whether he sits on the Government or on the Opposition side of the House, asks for anything more than that his rights shall be protected and that he shall be permitted to exercise his privileges without restraint by the Chair.
The Speech of His Excellency in opening the Nineteenth Parliament followed the pattern of many other speeches that have been made by representatives of the King in both the ‘State and Commonwealth legislative spheres. Like some of the legislation which has been passed through the parliaments of this country, it consisted merely of a framework with a lot of pegs on which the Government hung a promise or a threat. His Excellency referred in a very indefinite way to some of the matters with which the Government proposes to deal. Since this House has been in session it has been remarkable to note that every question asked of the Prime Minister or of one of the leading Ministers of the Government with a view to eliciting information about the Government’s intentions has been parried by the statement, “ That is a matter of Government policy with which it is not customary to deal in answer to a ques-tion “ or words to that effect. The people are anxious to know how the Government intends to carry out its announced policy.
On the day following that upon which the Prime Minister delivered his policy speech prior to the election, I was going home in a ‘bus and sat opposite two men who began a conversation. One said, “ Did you hear Mr. Menzies’s speech last night?” The other replied that he had clone so. The first man then said, “It will do me. He is going to do away with the means test. I shall be able to get a pension “. Many people really thought that if the Labour Government were defeated the means test would be immediately abolished and that they would be eligible for a pension. Indefinite as was the Governor-General’s Speech in its entirety, it contained no more indefinite sentences than those that related to pensions. Some honorable members opposite who were members of the last Parliament and who advocated the cause of those who were prevented from enjoying social services benefits because of the provisions of the means test will be hard put to it to explain their attitude towards legislation which will be introduced by the present Government.
The Governor-General’s Speech also contained some remarkable as well as some very indefinite statements. I do not propose to read them because they have already been read very often. One of them was to the effect that, age, invalid and widow pensioners and persons on fixed incomes are hard-pressed by the high cost of living. Those whose hopes were raised by that statement were soon given a cold douche. They were told that they will benefit by the action of the Government in putting value back into the £1. The pensioners and those who have been deprived of pensions because of the operation of the means test expect more than that from the Government. His Excellency also spoke in generalities about keeping down costs. His statements will give the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) a headache as time goes on. Disputes will arise between honorable members sitting on the Government side of the House about the way in which these problems should be tackled. The simplest way to keep down costs is to appreciate the £1, but that method can be effective only for a short time. The pressure that will be brought to bear on the Government before very long will force it to appreciate the £1, first, for the purpose of keeping down costs; and, secondly, and perhaps primarily, to assist big business interests.
I have been interested to hear honorable members opposite outline the steps (hat will be taken by the Government to deal - with the menace of communism. They know so little of the means by which communism grows that they seem to have walked on marbled terraces all their lives. They do not understand why the man at the bottom of the ladder inclines towards communism. The biggest knock that the Communists have ever received in this country was delivered by the Chifley Government when it made its determined stand in relation to the coal strike last year. 1 visited my home while the strike was in progress. When I arrived home I was asked to address a meeting of workers at the State Electricity Trust at Osborne where the coal for the generation of electricity is consumed and where, incidentally, one or two prominent Communists are employed. Recollection of that visit prompts me to ask what the Government proposes to do about the Communists that are in its own employment. It may be all very well for the
Government to say to the trade unions and to the men in industry, “Bill Brown may be a smart man who can argue your case very well before the Arbitration Court. He may do exceptionally well everything that a union secretary is called upon to do; but he is & Communist and you shall not employ him “, but it cannot, at the same time, continue well-known Communists in government employment. That Communists are engaged in private and government employment is well known to everybody. I have constantly told unionists that the Communists are the enemies of all workers and that they stand not for the principles of freedom and liberty but for a system that would bring us under the domination of a foreign power. During the election campaign I made no bones about my stand on this matter. What was the result? The Communists printed an open letter in their journal challenging me to appear on the public platform with their representatives. I refused to do so because I would not debase myself by appearing on n public platform with a Communist. The Communists then published in pamphlet form a letter in which I was described as a man who was not fit to be trusted, a man without honour, and one who was not worth “ tuppence “. That did not bother me. I still continued to denounce the Communists. I addressed students of the University of Adelaide in connexion with the actions of the Chifley Government during the coal strike. On the morning of my address a roneod foolscap-sized pamphlet was distributed among the students in which I was characterized as a strike-breaker. That did not bother me, either. In the 194? election, in an area in the electorate which I now represent, the Communist candidate polled 4,000 votes. The candidate who opposed me in the election held in December last polled only 800 votes. We must instil in the minds of the workers a knowledge of the true aims of the Communists. Any one who has even a limited knowledge of political history knows that the more one tries to victimize a man the more one makes a martyr out of him and the stronger he grows.
I know the attitude of the Communists towards strikes to-day, and I know that their activities will continue. Banning the party will not achieve anything. I have a great knowledge of the Communist movement and I knew it when it was banned by the honorable gentleman who is now known as the right honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Hughes). After the ban they wormed their way into the unions, where nobody could brand them as Communists, and they white-anted those organizations. They even got into the Labour political movement by underhand methods and attempted to dominate it. If the Communists ever dominate the Australian Labour party this country will suffer the same distress as has lately afflicted Greece. It is only by keeping our Labour movement and our trade union movement free from communism that great trouble in Australia will be prevented. Honorable members on the Government side may think that they are right in imposing a ban on the Communist party. I tell them plainly that if the Communists are banned they will again enter the Labour movement and the unions because no one will know that they are Communists. Directly the previous ban was lifted a large number of men who had been placed in positions of responsibility in the unions by the members of those organizations who thought they had ability and push, declared their allegiance to communism. In my State a great deal of unrest has been caused by Communists, but if they are banned our difficulties will be increased. The Government has not indicated its precise intention in this matter. According to the press the Government is very indefinite about the whole thing.. We do not know whether the press is correct, but we all know that press reporters are able to glean a great amount of accurate information. If the reporters are right in this instance then honorable members on the Government side are probably wondering about the exact nature of the bill tq be presented to the House. Will it be a milk and water measure, or something more? If the Government presses on with its proposed legislation the Opposition must do its best for Australia. If the Opposition thinks that the Government is doing something against the interest of the workers then, even though the Communists fight us and not honorable members opposite, we must oppose the measure. In my own electorate I have been in the thick of the fight against communism. I have not been sitting on the steps of a pleasant suburban villa writing things about Communists. I have suffered the heat of the battle. I know the difficulties of the fight against communism, and against the influence of its insidious propaganda on decent trade unionists. If the Government takes the uniforms off the Communists they will be able to do their work under the cloak of anonymity.
– The Playford Government has not banned the Communists.
– I do not know whether the Playford Government felt it that it would be wise to do so. However, the Playford Government can do as it wishes in South Australia. The talk about democracy by members on the Government side amuses me. The last election was won on a democratic basis, but the reason that honorable gentlemen opposite are sitting on the right of Mr. Speaker to-day in such numbers is because of the huge bluff they put over the people of this country. No decent worker for a political party would go to a person’s home and say to his wife, “ If you vote for Chifley your money in the bank won’t be safe “. The Labour Government sought to nationalize the banks in the interest of the people, but it bit off something more that it could chew. The banks had their own men working against the Labour party. I was in a State electorate recently, and I heard a man abusing members of the Labour party. He mentioned one member in my State and said how sorry he was to see him defeated. He said that for twelve months every day bank clerks went around the electors trying to undermine his position and that of the Labour party. We were defeated not. by communism, but by use of the. age-old weapon of fear. We tried to put into effect the principles we learned from the United Nations organization - freedom from want, freedom from fear - but the people are just as fearful to-day as ever they were, and they were frightened into voting against the Labour Government.
Nothing annoys me more than to havesomething put over me; but when it isput over the people I feel particularly sore. Some of the finest men in themedical profession, a profession I admire and to which I should have liked, tobelong, broadcast for two minutes every day all over Australia a statement in theseterms : “ If you vote for Chifley and hishealth scheme then your medical history will be disclosed to some government servant “. They knew they were hittingbelow the belt. Honorable members opposite have attained their places by bluff, but they cannot remain there by bluff.
It is claimed that the people of this country are poor. I read in the press the other day that the Austin Motor Company intends to send 1,000 cars a week to Australia. That will be in addition to all the other cars that are being: imported into this country. I was: in Naracoorte in the south-east of South Australia last week. It was difficult to cross the street in that, town because travelling along it were se great number of the best motor cars that money can buy. They were not old tourers or worn-out cars, but were the latest high-priced models. That indicates how poor we are. The honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth), who has just resumed his seat said that it was stated in the press to-day that savings bank deposits totalled £630,000,000 or £730,000,000. A few years ago the total was less than half that amount. Yet we are told that the £1 to-day is not worth as much as it was when the basic wage was 8s. a day. If it is not worth as much how can the people possess such a large number of expensive cars and such big savings accounts? The people are being bluffed.
The Government has given a definite promise on social services which I think the Prime Minister will honour. He will introduce a measure to provide for the payment of 5s. a week endowment for the first child in each family and that will cost about £15,000,000 a year. He will provide a subsidy on flour to keep the price of bread down, and will provide subsidies on other commodities to keep prices down. I believe the Premier of South Australia bas been here to-day to discuss with the Prime Minister the question of coal supply. This morning I wanted to ask a question, but I was too far down the list and did not get an opportunity to do so. I wanted to ask the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Casey) whether it was correct that when this coal arrived the Government intended to pay the difference between the costs of imported and local coal. If so, I wanted to know whether that would be paid to State government instrumentalities, which use a lot of coal. I think it should be paid to them, and I hope that it will be so paid. If £15,000,000 is paid to increase child endowment, and subsidies are also paid, how can taxation be reduced at the same time? I think the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) will have a headache before he has finished the adjustment of taxation. He said he would simplify the taxation forms. The bulk of the people in this country use the small single sheet form. They state their salaries or wages, whether they have dependants and the amounts they have paid for medical and dental attention. Surely that cannot bp further simplified. It may be that the Treasurer can simplify the taxation process in relation to business concerns. 1 desire now to bring forward the matter of people claiming deductions or rebates for the support of parents. This subject was recently before a committee of the Taxation Branch, which decided that if the parent owned a house that the parent and taxpayer lived in, then the parent was not wholly supported and that no rebate could be allowed. I intend to take that matter up personally with the Treasurer. It is not the person at the bottom of the salary scale who is affected but the person earning a small income or receiving superannuation. The particular case that I have in mind is one in which a woman and her mother owned between them the house they lived in and the woman was not allowed a rebate because, according to the taxation laws, she was not supporting her mother. That is one of the little things that can be adjusted.
I fear that in making his adjustments the Treasurer will not do much to help the man at the bottom. Instead of reducing taxation on the family man, he will add something more to the burden of those on middle or low incomes. I do not know just what he intends to do; but, when he is considering new taxation proposals, he should remember that the man on a low income, with one child or more, needs the most consideration. He apparently favours the deduction system instead of the rebate system, and I ask him to keep in mind what I have said when he is working out the details. When all is said and done, it is not the amount of tax a man pays that matters, but how much he has left after paying the tax.
Reference is made in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to decentralization. In this connexion, let me mention some of the unfair tactics employed during the election campaign. The Labour party adopted the policy of full employment as part of its platform. The Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Chifley) said that there would be a reserve of public works upon which those who could not get jobs in private enterprise could obtain employment. He said that it might not always be possible to find work for a man in his own neighbourhood, and that he might have to go where the work was. On the strength of that statement, it was unfairly and meanly represented to the people that the Labour party proposed to direct labour, and to tell men where they had to work. The Labour party intended no such thing. The Government has said that it intends to push on with the Snowy Mountains scheme, and that it will proceed with the development of the Northern Territory by the building of roads and railways, and the encouragement of the meat-raising industry. I am glad to hear that the Government intends to do those things, and I, for one, do not propose to taunt it with intending to force men to take work in places distant from their homes. The more I think of what the present Government parties told the people during the election campaign, the more I realize that the Government has a hard, head-aching job before it, and it has my sympathy. Its spokesmen told the people that, if its candidates were elected, they would take less money from the public, and at the same time do more for them. I cannot see how that is going to work out.
I was interested to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) about Senate representation. He said a number of things which I myself have said in the past, so I was naturally interested to hear him. He criticized the present method of Senate election, and said that it allowed a situation to arise in which a popularly elected government had no way of overcoming the opposition of a hostile Senate. I point out, however, that the Constitution provides that, in such circumstances, the Government may go to the people for a decision. He accused the former AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) of deliberately framing the law so as to produce the result of which he complained. I believe, however, that difficulties would arise under any system. Even without proportional representation, the effect would have been the same, because the opposing parties would then each have had eighteen representatives in the Senate. The Senate is the State house. The platform of the Labour party provides for the abolition of the Senate, but how it is to be abolished I do not know. While it is there, we should try to make it as good a State house as possible. Under the present system, the Senate will always be very evenly divided. Even when there is not a tie, and even though in the future the Senate may sometimes make difficulties for the government in power, it will be a better legislative chamber than it has been in the past.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The Speech of the Governor-General embodies largely the policy on which the Government was elected. The honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) is generally fair in debate, and, therefore, I was astonished to hear him suggest that the Government, which I support, was elected by bluff and unfair tactics. The only bluff of which I was aware in Queensland was employed by the campaign director of the Labour party, who sought to bluff the people into believing that the anti-Labour government, if elected, would conscript the people for compulsory military training. He seized on a newspaper report that was only partly true, and featured it throughout the State in. an attempt to make the people believe that they would be herded into military camps. However, thepeople summed up the situation correctly. The parties which form the present Government recognized that there was need for some form of military training, and the people of Australia endorsed their policy and ignored the bluff of the Labour party. The people of Australia have recognized that the- Government has a real and progressive policy, which is completely different from the negative policy of the Labour party, the intention of which was to restrict all activity and to do nothing at all. The GovernorGeneral’s Speech lists over 30 progressive measures which the Government intends to introduce. Nobody expected the Speech to mention the details of legislation, or even to give the names of proposed bills. All those members of the Opposition who have spoken seemed very anxious that the Government should hasten to honour its election promises. They know, of course, that it” is impossible to submit legislation until it has been approved by Cabinet, and until the bills have been drafted. Because they are despondent over their defeat at the elections, members of the Opposition are complaining that the Government has not yet brought down the legislation it promised.
As I have said, the Governor-General’s Speech is essentially a re-statement of the policy submitted by the Government parties to the people, and that is as it should be. The election policy, of a party should be the charter under which it will work should it be successful at the poll. I am convinced that the Government will honour its promises. Many matters of vital importance are mentioned in the Speech of the Governor-General, and they have been debated, by honorable members of all parties. I approve of the proposal to create an independent cost-finding committee for the primary industries. That has always been part of the policy of the Australian Country party, and now it is part of the policy of the Government. The appointment of such a committee will encourage primary producers to carry on, for they will know that they will be recompensed for their labours in accordance with the findings of the committee.
I recall the speech of the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme) on the subject of cotton, and I agree with what he said. He referred to the findings of the Tariff Board concerning the cotton industry, and, if I quote him correctly, he expressed the opinion that the board, whilst very capable for the purposes for which it was appointed, was not fully capable of determining costs pertaining to primary industries. Members of the Tariff Board have a full knowledge of the needs of trade, and of various branches of commerce and industry, but they have not had the training and practical experience that would equip them for determining the costs of producing primary commodities. All the witnesses at the inquiry, including officers of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, the Department of Agriculture in Queensland, the Cotton Board representing the industry, the cotton manufacturers, and the primary producers themselves, gave corroborative evidence, but the board would not accept their submissions, and .made an adverse recommendation to the preceding Government. If members of the board fail to recognize the needs of an industry from a national, economic and strategic standpoint, they should be replaced with men who will view those matters in the correct perspective. We look forward with confidence to the early fulfilment of the Government’s promise, knowing that as costs are submitted and proved the producers will receive justice. The industry requires stability if production is to be increased. Everybody recognizes that need.
I was most interested in an article by Professor Copland in the trade supplement of the Melbourne Herald. The writer, who referred to our “milk bar economy “, tabulated a number of important commodities, and compared present production with the pre-war levels. He shows that employment has ‘considerably increased, as is only to be expected, because of the flow of migrants and our own natural increase. The professor states that the manuf acture of ice creams and cricket bats has increased enormously, and that the production of timber and the generation of electricity has also been expanded, but that the production of such vital requirements as butter, meat, steel and bricks has decreased compared with the pre-war statistics. Although the output of coal has increased slightly, it does not nearly meet requirements. I do not object to healthy forms of sport, or to the manufacture of cricket bats, and I like ice creams as well as any one does, but we must face the fact that the production of vital commodities has decreased during the last ten years. We cannot direct or compel men to work in certain industries in certain places, and, indeed, all honorable members are opposed to such an idea, but we should try to divert some non-essential industries to the manufacture of essential requirements. As a previous speaker has stated, coal is the most urgent of our needs. Various honorable members have different views about the best methods for increasing the production of that commodity. Some of the steps that have been taken are actually reducing output. I do not propose to discuss the industrial position or the effect of strikes in the coal-mining industry, other than to point out that the enormous resources of coal in Queensland are not being properly exploited. Large quantities of Callide coal are available at comparatively cheap cost, but transport facilities are not provided to convey that coal to other States.
– Is not provision being made to build a railway line in order to overcome that difficulty? The honorable member should tell the truth.
– The Queensland Government is talking about constructing a railway line. A Labour government in that State in 1915 placed on the statutebook an act authorizing the building of railway lines, but the first-sod has not yet been turned in connexion with any of those projects.
– The honorable gentleman knows that that statement is not true.
– The Labour Government in Queensland has not, to my knowledge, built a foot of railway line since 1914.
– What rot ! The honorable member should .tell the truth.
– The Labour Government in Queensland has not encouraged the production of Callide coal. The tax that it imposed upon the transport of coal by road yielded £21,670 in twelve months., Will any member of the Opposition deny that statement? That tax is levied upon carriers who are prepared to cart the coal, and the only road that is available is in such a bad condition that valuable trucks that travel along it are being ruined every week. That is how the Labour Government in Queensland encourages the development of the coal resources of that State.
– Is an election about to be held in Queensland?
– If the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) continues to interject I shall add to his discomfiture. The Labour Government is preventing the development of the almost unlimited coal resources of Queensland. Time prevents me from dealing at greater length with other aspects of .the coalmining industry in that State.
– Has a Liberal government built a railway line anywhere in Australia during the last 30 years? The Liberal Government in Victoria has even pulled up some railway tracks.
– A Liberal Government in South Australia has built a railway line in that period.
– I shall deal later with the interjection by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). Railways are still required in certain parts of the country. I remind the former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture of the failure of the Queensland Labour Government to connect western terminals of the four parallel lines in that State. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Charles Russell) has rightly castigated the State Government for that neglect. Millions of sheep and cattle would have been saved in droughts if connecting lines had been constructed between the southern, western, central and northern parallel lines. The Labour Government in Queensland has not been favorably disposed towards the Chifley Labour Government’s project for constructing rail ways, as announced by Sir Harold Clapp. That plan envisaged linking the west of Queensland, through Cunnamulla, Charleville and Blackall, with the Northern Territory. Can members of the Labour party deny that the Queensland Government has not welcomed that plan?
– Queensland is not the only State that has not accepted the Commonwealth’s plans for constructing railways.
– I am speaking of matters of which I have knowledge.
– That will not take the honorable member long.
– The honorable member for Herbert cannot justify the action of the Queensland Labour Government.. However, I desire to resume my remarks about the committee that has investigated the costs of production of primary industries. The dairying industry requires further encouragement. I am not pessimistic about the position. According to press statements, the United States of America has a surplus of butter, but I am not really concerned about that, because countries in the sterling area will conserve their dollars for the purchase of machinery and other requirements that are more necessary to them than buying more butter. A committee that inquired into the dairying industry made submissions for two successive years. The Chifley Government accepted the first submission and met the higher costs, but did not accept the second submission.
– Of course it did!
– The Chifley Government met the bill for only six months instead of twelve months. Indeed, the period of six months expired 21 days after the date of the last general election. The Chifley Government did not honour its promise to meet the costs, as determined by that committee, for twelve months. It provided an additional 2£d. a gallon, but ignored increased factory costs amounting to one-halfpenny, knowing perfectly well that the halfpenny would have to come out of the cream cans, and would be a charge, not on the butter factory, but on the dairyman who supplied the cream. Of the amount of 2£d. that was granted, only one-halfpenny was really a subsidy, because the other 2d. was a deferred payment from the equalization fund. In other words, the 2d. was the dairyfarmers’ own money.
– Ananias was a gentleman compared with the honorable member.
– Order ! The honorable member for Fisher is entitled to be heard in silence.
– I have given the facts. I have received many letters on this subject from the managers and directors of butter factories, and the statement that I have made has not been disputed by them. The Chifley Government did not honour its promise to the dairying industry, and, therefore, the dairyfarmers voted against the Labour party at the last general election.
– Somebody voted for us.
– A few people did. A big swing was evident in the electorate of Herbert, and the honorable member received an awful fright.
– But I am still here.
– Those honorable members who represent constituencies in which tobacco is grown will doubtless explain the requirements of that industry. I desire to give my support to the costfinding committee to which I have referred, because practical men are required to determine those costs in order that the Government may have a basis on which to make payments. Subsidies should not be paid from the public purse unless the costs have been proved.
I heartily approve the Government’s scheme for national development, because the production of vital commodities that are in short supply must be rapidly increased. Many members of the Parliament and leading citizens deplore the drift of population from the country districts to the large cities, and emphasize the necessity for developing the rural areas. I do not suggest that developmental schemes should make provision for only the country districts, but I warn the Government against adopting a metropolitan outlook in this matter. If the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Casey) does not look beyond the large cities when he is making his plans, the present position will be aggravated.
The movement of population and industries from the country to the large cities must be arrested. Last night, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) stated that industries will always be established at places where cheap electricity is available. Why should electricity be any cheaper in the city than in the country? The first challenge I issue to the Government is that the national development scheme should embody some contribution towards rural electrification. I believe that that challenge will be accepted by the Government. There are regional boards and local authorities administering various electrical schemes, and they should be given financial assistance to enable the individual to purchase that power. In other words, the capital construction costs should be a charge on the national revenue and not on the individual. Industry requires power, but why limit power to the metropolis?
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) said that we must face the challenge of soil erosion, and he quoted an authority on the subject. Soil erosion is a matter that comes under the jurisdiction of the various State Departments of Agriculture, but that does not debar the Commonwealth from making “a contribution towards the solution of the problem. I do not know whether that can be regarded as coming under the heading of national development. When I was chairman of the Kingaroy Shire Council, that body, with seven other shires and organizations in the district, asked the Queensland Government to make a contribution towards an attack on this national menace. We put it to the Government that soil erosion could not be regarded as an individual matter but was a State responsibility. I was disappointed when the Queensland Government replied that it was an individual matter. How can one farmer be expected to meet the curse of soil erosion if others neglect to do their part? Obviously, greater attention than that is required.
Whilst soil erosion is a matter that has to be faced, there are also other projects associated with national development that can be undertaken. Transport is vital to development. Railways, roads and air transport are required. We need to reverse the policy that has been generally adopted by the Government. When we have produce for sale in the country in Queensland we get a cheaper rate of freight if we send it to the seaports than if we manufacture anything inland and send the manufactured article there. That is a tax on industry in the country towns and districts. We are taxed when sending our goods to the metropolis or to the seaport; then the freight from the city is charged on any goods that return to a country citizen. In effect, there is a tax on any one who lives in a country district. That policy should be discontinued or, at least, the countryman should be given treatment equal to that received by those who live in the capital cities. Then we should be able to encourage people to establish industries in the country. That is a long-range policy which should be implemented.
Local authorities are forced to pay the cost of constructing aerodromes. That was the policy of the last Government, with which I did not agree. It seems that this Government, which I support, is following the same policy. I hope that it will have a look at the matter. It is an anomaly which should be corrected. The Government says, in effect, “ We shall not give any financial assistance for the construction or maintenance of an aerodrome until you have an established air service through the town “. How can we get an established air service unless somebody builds an aerodrome in the first instance ? The Government has not given any money towards the construction costs, but it has offered to give technical advice. We welcome the technical advice, but I have yet to know of a local authority in Queensland that has received, any money towards the construction of an aerodrome. They all have had to foot the bill themselves. If they have received any money it has been from the State Government. Advice on this subject should be obtained from men who are conversant with it. We want them to examine sites and determine whether it is practicable to establish aerodromes on them. We want them to collaborate with the air companies and, if it be proved that an air service can be established over a certain route, we want the Government to make a contribution towards the cost of constructing aerodromes in the towns selected. That is the practical approach to this matter and I hope that the Government will look at it from that point of view.
As I said earlier, our railways should be linked up, particularly in the west of Queensland and the west of New South Wales, where we have lost so many head of stock in every drought. If the State governments, because they are dependent on Commonwealth finance, are unable to pay for this work, then the Commonwealth should look at the matter from an Australian point of view. I suppose the cost of constructing railways is high nowadays, but that has to be faced because they are a real necessity.
Unless we provide the facilities of rural electrification, necessary transport, and water services, we shall not achieve national development. These three are vital necessities and only upon them can we develop this country and stop the drift of the population from the country to the cities. If we want to increase the population of country districts we shall have to remove the tax on country citizenship. The country will then develop truly under the national developmental scheme.
.- In a parliament in a democratic country, it is natural that there should be parties, one of which must of necessity be entrusted with the government of the country and have the privilege of introducing legislation. There must also be an Opposition to question or disagree with the proposals of the government. In this debate on the Address-in-Reply it has been noticeable that the dissent of the Opposition h$s been based mainly on the reaction of those people who support their party. Those people are just one section of the community, the whole of which is represented in this Parliament.
The Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General, which was heard and read by people throughout Australia, sets out the policy of this Government and its intended legislation. The people must have found hope in its wide ramifications, which cover practically every phase of our national life. That hope has been expressed by some honorable members of the Opposition, but with the reservation that they do not think this Government will be able to enact the legislation that was referred to in the Speech. I have no doubts in that respect because I know that this Government, with a specific mandate from the majority of the electors, will have every right to give legislative effect to its proposals.
I do not want to draw attention to more than three items in the Speech. One . is the reference to the conference which the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) is to have with the Premiers of the various States and their Ministers of Health. The medical benefits legislation will be the most embracing legislation that has been put before this House for a long time, because it will give State hospital authorities the opportunity to have placed before the House a true and authentic programme of hospitalization. In South Australia the shortage of hospital accommodation for general and maternity cases has become so acute that many young mothers have had harassing experiences in trying to obtain accommodation. Previous governments have been remiss in not having made any determined attempt to provide the necessary hospital accommodation in the various States. Since the inception of uniform taxation, which has made the Federal Government the principal tax gatherer, there has been no determined effort to see that this very important phase of our national life shall be given due consideration. The previous Government was, as were others before it, remiss and it will not be possible for us, except by means of a determined effort during the next few years, to catch up with the lag that exists in this respect. That is one of the most important problems that awaits solution, especially in areas where” large homebuilding projects have been undertaken.
The other two passages in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to which I draw attention are of the utmost importance. They refer to the activities of subversive elements in Australia, and the Government’s proposals for the establishment of better relations ‘between employers and employees. The Opposition has noticeably experienced great difficulty in its attempts to decry the Government’s plan to stem for all time the rising tide of subversive activity in Australia. Indeed, apart from saying that they were opposed to communism, that they had been fighting it, and that they did not like it in any way, honorable members opposite were unable to offer the Government any encouragement or to suggest any means by which it could direct its efforts towards the preservation of democracy in this country. Australia is at the cross roads, and the Government must choose the course that must be followed. If subversive elements were confined to trade unions, there might be some justification for members of the Opposition saying “ Leave us to fight the Communists “. In fact, I should be prepared to give them a fair chance to deal with communism. But the unfortunate truth is that subversive organizations and individuals are active in every walk of life in Australia. Surely the startling disclosure of the traitorous activities in the United Kingdom of Dr. Fuchs, who sought to betray the one scientific secret in the hands of the anti-Communist nations that might have been used to preserve peace, must have forced upon members of the Opposition some appreciation of the urgent necessity for the introduction of drastic legislation to restrain the Communists. Honorable gentlemen opposite appear to have firmly fixed in their minds the erroneous belief that the Communist party and its adherents are active only in the trade unions and that therefore they, as representatives of the unions, can deal effectively with the disruptionists.
The trade unions are not in a position to deal with some of the most influential and dangerous representatives of communism in the community. Therefore, it is essentia] that legislative action be taken to preserve the security of the nation. The introduction of such legislation may bring within the dragnet some of the small men on the fringes of subversive organizations. It will be the responsibility of such individuals to prove that they are not actively associated with the nefarious work of those organizations. I believe that the enactment of appropriate legislation will have the effect of forcing such men to fall away from the Communist party, thus depriving it of the avenues through which it has- been able to advance its destructive plans. There can be no hope of achieving real peace within Australia while the Communists continue to pursue the pattern of disruptive activity by which other nations have been made to submit to the domination of Soviet Russia. The newspapers recently published statements to the effect that the incidence of strikes in Australia during the last three years had been higher than in the United States of America and the United Kingdom. What was the reason for that? Was it the ineptitude of the present Opposition party when it was in power, or the unacceptable nature of its industrial legislation? I do not think so. I believe that that industrial turmoil was caused deliberately by the subversive elements that have established themselves in the trade unions. We have had plain proof of that fact. Many good unionists still believe that it is necessary for them to do everything within their power to hinder the growth of communism within their organizations. However, the activities of the Communist party have become so widespread that the situation is ‘beyond their control. The whole of our national life has been affected. Is there no spark of national spirit amongst members of the Opposition that would fire them to declare courageously their intention to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Government in attacking communism by legislative action? We must destroy this and all other forms of subversive activity if we are to live in peace internally, free from the fear of assault from beyond our shores by a nation whose representatives have been established deliberately in our midst in order to prepare us for Soviet domination by means of a carefully planned softening-up process.
I propose to discuss the subject of industrial unrest generally from a point of view that will be readily appreciated by the average Australian. This Government, realizing that people throughout Australia are heartily sick and tired of strikes, stoppages, and petty holdups, will make every endeavour to bring about peace in industry. It proposes to begin by fostering a spirit of co-operation between employer and employee. We agree that the worker is entitled to every form of economic security that can be provided under conditions of full employment. But everybody in the community is entitled to such security. I deplore the fact that many members of the Opposition have endeavoured to foment class hatred. Nothing could be more futile or reprehensible when we consider that, within recent times, employers and employees and their sons have fought side by side against a common foe. It was refreshing and encouraging to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), who said that we must break down the wall of suspicion dividing employer from employee. That wall, which may have been erected for good reasons many years ago, has outlived its purpose and there is now every indication in the community that employers are seeking the co-operation of their employees. Australia has made magnificent contributions to the advancement of industry, science and commerce during the historically short span of 150 years. Such contributions were made possible because the strength and genius of worldrenowned organizations were infused into the life blood of industry and because the craftsmanship and skill of Australian workers were added willingly to their efforts. There is no reason for the continued existence of a wall of distrust between employers and employees. The parties that support the Government have been accused of being “ stooges of the banks and the capitalistic tycoons “ during the last few years, because of the petty stoppages and strikes that have occurred in industry.
Members of the present Opposition have declared that we are trying to debase the worker and secure the return of the conditions which justified the Labour movement’s demands for industrial reform years ago. The situation to-day is vastly different from that which prevailed when Labour had to fight for the rights of the workers. I remind honorable members of a name that was often mentioned during the life of the Eighteenth Parliament. I speak of Abraham Lincoln, that great statesman and humanitarian, whose utterances have been handed down from generation to generation.. One of his most simple statements was that the wageearner could not be built up by pulling down the wage payer. The employer and industry cannot do without the employee, nor can the employee do without industry and the employer. The co-operation in industry that this Government hopes to achieve will be impossible of accomplishment if we are to believe many of the utterances of honorable members opposite, hut there is very little wrong with the Australian worker to-day. He has proved his worth in times of emergency, and there must be something wrong in the community if we cannot secure his co-operation in bringing about industrial tranquillity. I suggest that this House consider the appointment of a faultfinding committee to act independently of the system of conciliation and arbitration, which I. support and which is essential to the preservation of our industrial economy. The committee should include in its membership honorable members from both sides of the House, members of trade unions and representatives of industry. Whilst I believe that a system of conciliation and arbitration is essential for the settlements of disputes I also believe that a great deal of useful work could be done by a fault-finding committee established for the purpose of ascertaining the root causes of friction between employers and employees. In such a body all differences between employers and employees could be talked over and ironed out, thus making unnecessary resort to a conciliation commissioner and, eventually, to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. Such a committee established in the United States of America has been able to get to the root cause of dissatisfaction between employers and employees. I strongly recommend the establishment of such a committee here. Peace in industry is vital to the progress of Australia and to .the expansion of industry that will be so necessary to enable this country to absorb the migrants who will come here in the year3 to come. All honorable members should realize the necessity for an earnest and sincere approach to the problem of maintaining peace in industry. It is by no means insurmountable. Peace in industry can be achieved only if .there is mutual respect on the part of both employer and employee. Differences must be approached by both sides with tolerance. I assure honorable members opposite that we on this side of the House are anxious and willing to play our part in the achievement of this great aim.
Although with two exceptions the members of this Parliament have been elected by the people on a party vote, all honorable members have an obligation to consider the common interests of all sections of the community. If it is necessary to have a good government, it is equally necessary to have a good Parliament and only if all honorable members give due consideration to the common interests and desires of the people can we have a good Parliament. If we realize in all sincerity that it is our duty to represent all the citizens of Australia we shall do nothing but good. We shall then bring about peace in industry and promote thatbetter understanding between capital and labour that is so vital to the wellbeing of this nation. Then only shall we be able to claim that we have achieved the purpose for which we have been elected to this Parliament and that we are following the traditions that have been established by the great statesmen of this country. Only then, too, will the dignity and prestige of this National Parliament be upheld in the interests of the nation.
.- An honorable member said to me a little while ago that the making of a maiden speech can be likened to going for a swim on a cold morning - the first plunge is not too good, but when one has begun, it is not too bad. Knowing that all new members have to take the plunge, I hope that the House will bear with me. As the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) has said, the Governor.General’s Speech has already been fully covered by this debate. I propose merely to raise a few matters that are of particular interest to me. I shall not weary or bore the House by making a long speech. I support the remarks of the honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann) about the problem of the drift of population to the cities and the need for decentralization. A drift of population is taking place not only from areas such as those in the electorates of Fisher, Maranoa and Leichhardt, but also from every country centre in Australia. I have the honour to represent the country electorate of Farrer which has a progressive and fertile area that lends itself to increased settlement and pasture improvement and in which an increase of population could be expected. Unfortunately, however, while the populations of the two large cities of Wagga and Albury have increased, every shire in my electorate has shown a decline of population in the intercensal period between 1933 and 1947. We must look for means to remedy that state of affairs. Not one house within 30 miles of my home has all the amenities of modern life in the form of electricity, water supply, sewerage and telephone services unless the person who owns it has paid for the provision of those services. Some people are able to afford to pay for the provision of such basic amenities, but their provision would absorb the whole of the salary of the working man on the basic wage for three years. The worker in the capital cities, however, gets them for next to nothing. I am- glad to notice that, looming largely in the Governor-General’s Speech is the statement that an attack is to be made on the problem of providing electricity services in country areas. Electricity should, I believe, be made available to every house in Australia, wherever it is situated. Adequate telephone facilities also should be provided in rural areas. Many people well know the type of telephone service that is afforded in outback areas where telephone exchanges are open only between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Between those hours the farmer is away at work. If he wants to make a telephone call he has to stay at home for a couple of hours and- so lose much valuable time. I am pleased that an attempt is to be made to provide additional rural automatic exchanges for the benefit of the country people. The installation of these exchanges will make a great difference in the lives of the people in outback areas. I arn also pleased that an attack is to be made on the problem of providing water reticulation in country towns. Holbrook, which is the nearest town to my home - it is ten miles away - has a population of SOO, but it. has no water supply. Adequate water supplies are needed not only for our rural towns but also for irrigation purposes and for improving the fertility of the land generally. This Government has been given the task of increasing production. An increase of primary production can be achieved, first, by greater irrigation and, secondly, by pasture improvement. My electorate will benefit greatly from the Snowy Mountains scheme. Under that scheme some of the waters of the Snowy River will be diverted into the Murray and Mumimbidgee rivers. The areas that are to be irrigated under that scheme will become to Australia what the Tennessee Valley is to the United States of America. The basins of the Murray and Mumimbidgee rivers contain areas of tremendous fertility. I trust that every attempt will be made to speed up the completion of the scheme, notwithstanding the .fact that it is of such magnitude that its completion will take approximately 35 years. Whilst I agree that we should push ahead with that scheme with all speed, I also say that we should not lose sight of the necessity for proceeding with smaller irrigation schemes. I have in mind a scheme which is proposed to be undertaken in the area near Corowa and Urana, where it is proposed to dam water from the Murray for the irrigation of a considerable tract of country. These schemes should be pressed forward with the utmost speed. The man on the land can be assisted to increase production by a subsidized system of pasture improvement. An enormous area of Australia lies within a rainfall belt in which pasture improvement has been proved to be practical and effective. Recently, I read a report in a small magazine that is published by a company which supplies superphosphate, in which the writer estimated that of the 24,000,000 acres of land in Victoria which are suitable for pasture improvement, only 5,000,000 acres have yet been treated. It is possible that if the whole area were treated with superphosphate and sown with clovers and appropriate grasses the production of primary products in Victoria could, within a short time, be doubled. I have been able to increase the carrying capacity of my property from approximately one sheep to the acre under natural conditions to three or four sheep to the acre on improved areas.
One of my paddocks has carried six sheep to the acre during the last ten months. If farmers are assisted by the Government to improve their pastures, primary production will be increased enormously. I was pleased to hear the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) say that sufficient supplies of superphosphate will be available to meer all requirements. This year, although there may have been sufficient superphosphate in the country, difficulty has been experienced in obtaining trucks for its transport to country areas. Consumers were warned that they could be supplied only if they were prepared to take their requirements in winter. As honorable members are aware, it is difficult to store superphosphate in winter. I took my supplies in the winter months. Those who know anything about superphosphate know that after it has been stored for six months it becomes very hard and is difficult to break up. The price of superphosphate is rising steadily. Although the Government pays a subsidy on superphosphate I do not know whether it is sufficiently large to attract farmers to use it in greater quantities. Possibly if the Government provided superphosphate free of charge the resultant increase of taxes from the increased production would more than cover the payment for it. I extend my congratulations to the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) on the speech that he made. It was one of the best speeches that I have heard. It is unfortunate that every employer and employee could not have heard it, because then they would have realized the views and the needs of both sides of industry. It may seem presumptuous for me to comment on this point because my only experience of industry or employment is on my own small property where I employ six or seven men. The honorable member said that one of the reasons for unrest in industry is that workmen believe that they are not getting a fair share of the returns from industry. For some time I have worked a profit-sharing scheme on my property. Such schemes seem to be anathema to many honorable members on the opposite side and their introduction is being frustrated by the unions. I have before me a log of claims by the Australian Workers Union which reads -
No person shall give or accept or ask or offer to give or accept any premium, bonus, commission, or gratuity, or make or accept any deposit of any kind to or from any person in or in connexion with any promise of employment.
Some honorable members opposite have claimed that the working man does not benefit by the payment ‘ of incentive bonuses. That applies particularly to the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin), i should like to take him into my electorate and show him a property that is being worked under a profit-sharing scheme by which the working men have definitely benefited. One man was first employed on the property eleven years ago when he had only a few pounds in his pocket. To-day he still works on it, but his assets are probably worth £10,000. Schemes like that are in the interests of working men. If you said to that man, “In your own interests you should not receive a share of the profits “, he would laugh in your face.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) said that we have no power to introduce profit-sharing schemes in Australia. Unfortunately that is so. We can only advocate them as much as possible. We might be able to encourage the schemes by an alteration of the taxation law under which businesses operating a satisfactory profit-sharing system would be more lightly taxed. It might be done by giving preference in government contracts to any firm or concern which has a satisfactory scheme in operation. Honorable members opposite are opposed to profitsharing because, so they say, it would cause over-production. Having heard the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) talking about housing conditions in this country, I am sure that over-production is a long way from us. An estate agent recently told mc that he has 4,000 people registered on his books who want to buy homes in Canberra. In Albury, in my electorate, a person advertised a house for sale and by the evening had received 60 replies. The lag indicated in those illustrations must be overtaken before we shall be able to start on the very desirable slum-clearance projects. Therefore, there is no possibility of over-production in many industries for a long time to come. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) warned us not to forget that the working man has only his labour to sell. If that is so, why should he be prevented from selling it for the most he can get, and from taking part in incentive and profit-sharing schemes?
The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) said that the Communists were on the way out. If that is so, they are going out in a blaze of glory. In to-day’s Sydney Morning Herald appeared a report of a meeting in Brisbane. The report reads -
Three men were knocked unconscious when they opposed Communist speakers at a mass meeting of waterside workers to-day.
Communists used hasher tactics to force the meeting of about 850 men to authorize the Waterside Workers’ Federation executive to continue the rolling strike for two days each week. . . . The hall, in Adelaide-street, was stacked with strategically placed groups of Communists and supporters. … Communist groups clamped down on a speaker who opposed the strike and punched him. . . .
. During the meeting there were persistent shouts of “Why don’t you give us a secret ballot?”
The present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) during the life of the previous Parliament, tabled a private members’ bill providing for the introduction of secret ballots and altering the arbitration law in other respects. That bill was put at the bottom of the notice-paper and did not see the light of day. I hope that it will not be long before a scheme on the lines then suggested does see the light of day.
I was pleased to hear in the Speech of His Excellency a reference to the abolition of the means test through a form of contributory national insurance. Many people are suffering hardship to-day because, in the 30 years or so during which they have been working, they have saved £500 or £800 and are unable to draw the pension for which they would be eligible had they saved nothing. They must feel inclined to wager the lot on a horse and say, “ I shall live in affluence or go on a pension “. They might even have had difficulty in following the first course if they have worked in the precincts of Parliament House since the recent direction of Mr. Speaker.
This Government has been referred to as a temporary Government. Any government is temporary, but I hope that we shall be temporary for a considerable time. The Opposition says that more votes were cast for the Labour party than for the Liberal party, yet more of our candidates were elected. My reply is that we had nothing to do with the alteration of the electoral boundaries; that was the work of the present Opposition.
I thank the House for its indulgence. It is a pity that similar indulgence could not be extended to every honorable member on the occasion of every speech. If it were, then the genera] public would have a much higher opinion of this institution. I had never been to this House until I was elected, and on my second day here I wondered whether I bacl entered by mistake the French Chamber of Deputies.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Graham) adjourned.
MARKETING IN , SYDNEY AND CANBERRA.
Motion (by Mr. Holt) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I . am sorry to delay honorable members, but I wish to raise a matter upon which there has been some discussion outside this House. At the present time the Government is engrossed in a conjuring trick called putting value back into the £1. It is to an angle of that situation that I wish to refer. The people who are suffering most through the spiral of inflation are the women of the nation, especially the housekeepers. A position has arisen which must be corrected. I do not know what Minister would be able to offer anything more than his assistance, because the matter is nation wide. Not only are prices almost out of the reach of the average worker, but in addition the foodstuffs sold to-day are a disgrace to Australian industry. This has resulted from high export prices. There is no more glaring example to be found than in the City of Sydney, where the matter is entirely out of hand. I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) to contact the Ministers with similar portfolios in the States to try to have the distribution of food supervised. The vegetable markets in New South Wales, particularly in Sydney, are dominated by a group of forestallers, racketeers, foreigners, and go-getters to such an extent that the women in the suburbs, in the city flats, and particularly in the crowded areas, invariably get bad food, including inferior vegetables. The same state of affairs is found in the fish markets, where also there are forestallers. There are grave dangers to the health of the people of the cities who have to eat Port Jackson shark whenever they can get fish. It is usually frozen or treated by the deep-freeze process until the blush of shark has gone and it looks like flathead
– What has this to do with this Parliament?
– If the quality of the food of the nation is not a national matter that can be raised on the motion for the adjournment of the House, can the honorable gentleman kindly tell me what is? If the people of Henty can go to the shops in their motor cars and get the top of the market, the people in Parkes are not so ‘ fortunate. I should like the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture .to see whether some f onn of co-operation can be achieved through the Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers to ensure that, while the people are struggling with inflation its effects shall not be made worse by racketeering and the exploitation of the miseries of the people by special groups that developed during the war, that were sheltered by the war, and that made money out of the war. Pood of the best quality can be got in high-class restuarants. The best meat can be obtained if one is able to get it through a shipping providore. In that way, it is possible to get a saddle of good beef of the kind supplied to the ships. The people are paying the highest prices for intolerable muck, including dessicated carrots, and fish that is mostly shark. I have visited the fruit and vegetable markets, both in my capacity as a journalist, and as a member of deputations, and I was amazed to see the magnificent stuff that rolls into the markets to be sold. Then, when I visited the suburbs, I was appalled to see the bad stuff in the shop windows, and the terriffic price at which it was offered. It is not too much to ask this National Parliament to believe that we are suffering a grave national loss by allowing racketeering of this kind to continue. Medical practitioners have said that they are alarmed at the incidence of deficiency diseases among young people, and at the numerous cases of dental caries and stomach disorder.5 among school children. That is because the only fruit available to the children are little shrivelled oranges that the shopkeepers have the temerity to ask 3d. for, to be paid for out of the shrinking budget of the housewife. Such fruit is in marked contrast to that offered for sale in Kingstreet. Even if the suburban housewife had the money to buy good fruit - which she has not - she has not the opportunity to do so.
Whilst we recognize that, for economic reasons, it is necessary to sell our goods overseas, drastic action should be taken to ensure that at least a percentage of the worthwhile products of the soil shall be made available to the people, instead of being sold on the black market, or through forestallers in the way I have described. During the depression, stories were current about fruit being tipped into the harbour. Because of the press publicity, and the notoriety associated with such action, fruit is no longer tipped into the harbour, but it was reported recently that bananas are kept at a high price by those who emulate Hitler, and leave them in the gas chambers too long. That is a terrible thing to do.
There must be more supervision, and the responsibility for this rests primarily with the .State authorities. We pay lip service to the housewife. At election time she is the heroine, the lady who carries the bag up the hill, and while we cozen her vote out of her, we should attack the problem of bad food which is sold in the shops. The selling of such food is bad for the whole community, and the ramifications of this traffic are extensive. The markets are teeming with racketeers, and it is impossible to get service or civility. The rackets have been going on for so long that people tend to regard the present position as normal. It is recognized that the women’s vote can change governments. We must consider whether we have treated fairly the person who controls the family budget. The present racket has persisted for too long. It is not too much to say that the fruit and vegetable markets are rotten to the core. The ocean is teeming with fish, but we are subsisting on shark.
– Oh, sit down!
– If there are no sharks in this House, there is evidently a schnapper. I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, who is an earnest man, to ensure that, in spite of the need to expand our export trade, a residue of worthwhile food shall be left in Australia for our own consumers. The local market is a. valuable and high-priced one, of great benefit to the producers. Let the Minister be moved by the fact that, on the evidence of doctors, welfare workers and social scientists, the rising generation is not being properly fed because of the activities of racketeers.
.- I direct the attention of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. McBride) to a minor matter which has something in common with that mentioned by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). I ask him to direct the health inspectors of the Australian Capital Territory to visit fruit shops more frequently. There was a time last year, and again in the year before that, when the inspectors had occasion to visit the dairies and inspect the handling of milk in the territory, with the result that some organizations were fined. On a few occasions I have been in fruit shops in Kingston. I have to go to the shops because I have an infant son, and we cannot feed him on hotel diet. He needs a supplementary fruit diet. Outside one shop was a case of fermenting bananas covered with blowflies. That is literally true. The oranges inside the window, pressing against the glass, were rotten, and rockmelons were in the same condition. Such a sight I have not seen anywhere else in Australia, even in the poorest areas of the largest cities. Nowhere have I seen stuff of such inferior quality handled in such a filthy manner.
I saw that on three Saturdays in succession, which makes me wonder whether any health inspections of an effective kind are carried out. I ask the Minister, who has the welfare of the residents of this territory at heart, to give the health inspectors a shake-up in the interests of public health.
– Some of the statements made by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) should be answered at once. He was quite right in saying that the fruit and vegetable supply in the City of Sydney, and throughout the metropolitan area, is very bad. I have taken what steps I could to induce the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture to establish a docket system to cover the sale of fruit and vegetables. The fruit and vegetable markets are under the control of the Sydney Municipal Council. Operating in the markets are fruit agents. They are private agents who make the best deal they can for themselves. It was thought necessary that a check should be kept on transactions by instituting a docket system, and we approached the Minister with a request to that effect. If the honorable member for Parkes thinks that the marketing of fish is in the same category as the marketing of fruit and vegetables, he. is wrong. I remind him that in 1946 the Honorable Olive Evatt, acting for the Chief Secretary of New South Wales, who was away, brought into force by proclamation a little-known part of the act controlling fisheries which swept out of the markets the fish agents who had been in the trade for many years, and who were expert in the marketing of fish. The Chief Secretary of New South Wales became in law a corporation responsible for the marketing of fish. At one blow, Mr. Evatt socialized the distribution of fish, and immediately black-marketing began. Huge quantities of fish were diverted to wealthy interests, to big city restaurants and to big hotels. There was then in power a Labour government, as there is now. On one occasion, the Chief Secretary, in my presence, said to a fisherman, “ Those fish out in the 6ea belong to the people”. To that the fisherman replied, “ Then let the people go out and get the fish. I will not do it under these conditions “. I do not want to take up the time of the House, but it is necessary to reply to the honorable member for Parkes, who has tried to make us believe that fish is being marketed by people who are doing something improper. Primarily, the marketing of fish is the responsibility of the Chief Secretary of New South Wales, and is completely under his control.
.- The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has complained about fruit and vegetable supplies in Canberra. This matter has given my predecessor and me a good deal of concern. We appreciated the fact that most of the fruit and vegetables sold in this territory must be brought from places remote from Canberra. Transport is, therefore, an important factor. My predecessor and I have both asked the New South Wales transport authorities to allow fruit and vegetables to be conveyed to Canberra by road. No success has been achieved up to the present, hut I shall continue to make representations, and I hope that the service will be improved before long. We also realize that storage facilities in Canberra are not adequate. That is something that cannot be remedied in a day, a week or a month. However, the position is being examined, and we hope to be able to improve the service. I was astonished at the description given by the honorable member of the condition of fruit offered for sale in Canberra.
– I was referring to one shop only. My remarks were not intended to apply to all shops.
– The honorable member did not make that clear in his speech. He said that he saw the fruit in the window. I shall see that an inspection shall be made, and if conditions are as the honorable member has described them-
– I cannot guarantee that it will be the same always. On several occasions I saw what I have described.
– Several qualifications are now being made to the original complaint. I shall inquire into the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Australian Broadcasting Act- Seventeenth Annual Report and Balance-sheet of the Australian Broadcasting Commission for year 1948-49.
Defence Act - Royal Military College - Report for 1948.
Services Trust Funds Act - Services Canteens Trust Fund - Report for year 1948-49.
House adjourned at 10.45 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Fuel has supplied the following information : -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Statements are being prepared giving such information . as is available in answer to questions 1 and 2 and will be supplied to the honorable member as soon as possible. Questions 3, 4 aud 5 refer to matters of government policy, on which it is not customary to give replies in answer to parliamentary questions.
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Royal Australian Navy.
s. - On the 2nd March the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Andrews) asked the following question: -
Can the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Francis) say whether the amount of prize money due to Australian naval personnel has yet been determined by the Government of the United Kingdom? How much will each man receive, and when will the money be available for distribution
I informed the honorable member that all those eligible to receive prize money would be paid the same amount, approximately £10 each, that I had not been able to learn so far from the British Admiralty when the money would be available, but that inquiries were being made. I am now able to inform the honorable member that the United Kingdom Government has intimated that the actual sums available for distribution should be known soon after 3l3t March, 1950. From the figures available at the moment it seems likely that the amount to be paid to each person will not exceed £9.
Mr.- Holt. - On the 28th February the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) asked the following question: -
Many thousands of foreign migrants entering Australia speak no English and, after arrival, are sent to work in the company of other men and for employers who do not speak their tongue: consequently, their progress in learning the English language and the Australian way of life is slow. Could the Minister for Immigration have books of instruction for these people prepared in their native tongue? Could he have instruction in the English language made compulsory for migrants at holding centres who are awaiting allocation to’ employers?
In my absence the Prime Minister informed the honorable member that the terms of the question would be conveyed to me and that I would provide an answer. I now advise the honorable member as follows : -
Instruction in English for adult migrants is given in four stages - (a) At the preembarkati on centre in Europe; (6) on the voyage to Australia; (c) in reception and training centres; and (d) after placement in employment. Every effort is made to ensure that migrants continue to learn the English language after they take up employment. Free classes are provided for all non-British migrants wherever there are six or more students and a schoolteacher is available. For those who cannot attend the continuation classes, correspondence courses are provided. Supplementary instruction is given by means of lessons which are broadcast each’ Saturday and Sunday by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. A text-book entitled English for Newcomers tto Australia is readily available to all non-British migrants free of charge. Nearly twenty languages would be involved if books of instruction were prepared for migrants in their native .tongues. Consequently, acting on expert advice, the “ direct “ method nf teaching English has been adopted and has proved to he effective. There is no provision in our laws under which any form of adult education can be made compulsory, hut I- can give the honorable . member an assurance ttha t everything . possible is being done to impress upon newcomers the importance of attending the special classes provided for them.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 March 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1950/19500308_reps_19_206/>.