19th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
-I desire to inform the House that Field Marshal Sir William Slim, G.C.B., G.B.E., D.S.O., M.C., Chief of the Imperial General Staff, is within the precincts of the chamber. With the concurrence of honorable members, I shall invite him to take a’ seat on the floor of the House beside the Speaker’s chair. I point out that Sir William Slim is not only the head of the British armies for the time being but also, as -his rank designates, an officer who has commanded victoriously in the- face of the enemy.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
Field Marshal Sir William Slim thereupon entered the chamber, and was seated accordingly.
– Is the Prime Minister yet in a position to make a statement to the House about the withdrawal of Australian forces from Japan, that is, if they are to be withdrawn from that country ?
– I regret that I am not in a position to make that statement to-day, but it will not be overlooked.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether the proposed gale of the ships and assets of the
Illawarra and South Coast Steam Navigation Company Limited, which has been operating for 100 years, has come under the notice of the Government? Were those vessels requisitioned during the last war for defence purposes and does the right honorable gentleman consider that China or Indonesia would be possible markets for them ? Will the cessation of water transport to those parts of the south coast of New South Wales which have no railway facilities disrupt sixsevenths of the heavy transport which is now operating, and seriously impair the development of that part of the State? Will the Prime Minister ask the Minister for National Development, the Minister acting for the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport to investigate the position with a view to ascertaining whether a subsidy or other remedy may be provided in order to avert such a’ dangerous national loss?
– I myself am not aware of the matters to which the honorable member has referred, but I shall treat his question as being on the noticepaper, and see whether I can obtain the information for which he has asked.
– Can the Minister for National Development give any ‘information to the House about the current supply position of steel in Australia?
– Without having the details in my memory, it- is estimated that this year we shall have approximately 1,750,000 tons available of which about 500,000 tons will be imported. Thus the position will be appreciably better than that which existed last year when there was a deficiency of about 1,000,000 tons. We shall still have a deficiency this year of at least 250,000 tons. Both the deficiency this year and the deficiency last year were caused by the lack of adequate supplies of coal for the iron and steel industry.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether it is a fact that the wife of a member of the Government has been given the sole use of a motor car which she drives herself? Is the car a
Holden which was formerly used by the Secretary of the Department of the Interior? Is it a fact that the car has two number plates- A.C.T. 817 and C.57710 ? Is the Australian Capital Territory number plate shown when the car is being used in the Australian Capital Territory and the “ C “ number plate kept in a rack in the boot of the car? Is it legal for a registered motor car to have two number plates? Would the substitution of the “ C “ plate permit the user of the car to obtain free supplies of petrol from Government bowsers? Has the practice of providing government drivers for government vehicles, which was adhered to for a long period, been departed from in any way?
– As this question, honorable members will be glad to know, is an attack upon my wife, I, myself, shall answer it. It is perfectly true that a Holden car that has already been used has been placed at the disposal of my wife to be driven when she is in Canberra. She, herself, as I think very properly, indicated that it seemed fantastic that when she had to go on relatively small errands a large car should have to be driven for that purpose and she indicated, therefore, that for the purposes of economy it would be desirable that a small car, if one were available, might be placed at her disposal so that she could use it when in Canberra on such occasional errands.
– And drive it herself.
– Yes. That was done. The suggestion implicit in the honorable member’s question - the foul suggestion - that the purpose of this matter is that some petrol may be obtained at the cost of the Government is an unworthy and a scandalous attack. It is without foundation and is entirely inconsistent with the approach of either my wife or myself to the privileges of office and our responsibilities for public money.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order ! Has the honorable member been misrepresented?
– Yes. I take very strong exception to the Prime Minister’s statement that this was a foul attack.
– So it is - a masterly understatement.
– What I am mostly concerned about is that the Prime Minister has not answered my question.
– Order ! That is not a matter for a personal explanation.
– My question, which has caused the right honorable gentleman great personal embarrassment, has been designated as a foul attack. I merely asked a question–
-I rise to order. Is it permissible for the honorable member, who has asked a question and received a reply, to seek to debate the matter? Should he not confine his personal explanation to the matter in respect of which he claimed to have been misrepresented ?
– Up to the present the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has not attempted to show how he has been misrepresented. The matter that he has raised, so far, is debatable. He may not debate the matter. He must confine his explanation to the points in relation to which he claimed to have been misrepresented by the Prime Minister.
– I claim that I have been misrepresented by the Prime Minister who classified my question, which was asked for the purpose of seeking information, as a foul attack.
– If the honorable member objected to that statement he should have made his objection at the time the statement was made. He did not do so.
– I shall take a later opportunity to do so.
– Pour out some more dirt!
– The Prime Minister did not refer to my question about the double number plates.
– You are not fit for society.
– You lied last Wednesday night.
– Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney must not pursue that line of conduct.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture relative to the rabbit menace, which bus been the subject of a number of questions from time to time and which is now threatening the coastal areas of New South Wales, particularly those in the milk zone. Will the Minister refer the problem to the Australian Agricultural Council for consideration in the hope that that body may be able to develop Australia-wide proposals for an attack on this menace before the situation becomes more serious than it is at present?
– I have recently discussed this subject with officers ‘of my department who, in turn, have discussed it with officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. The degree to which the Australian Government may assist in combating the rabbit menace, and what measure of co-operation can lie devised on this matter between the Commonwealth and the States, and, perhaps, between the States themselves will be discussed, I hope, by a Cabinet sub-committee within the next 4S hours, and it will also be discussed within a few days by the standing committee of the Australian Agricultural Council. I hope that some proposals will emerge from all of these discussions that will enable the matter to be considered by the next full meeting of the council.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. Has the Government received an application from the Gosford Shire Council for urgent assistance in relation to the floods that took place in the Gosford area last week? Having examined some of the flooded areas and having observed that the roads are in such a bad state that urgent supplies cannot be sent to inundated areas, I ask the right honorable gentleman whether the Government will give urgent and sympathetic consideration to the council’s request for assistance?
– I am not at the moment aware that any such application has been received. As the honorable member no doubt knows, we have dealt with certain representations by the New South Wales Government in relation to these floods and a few days ago we granted certain assistance on the same basis as that heretofore granted. I do not know whether an application for assistance has been made by the local governing body of any particular area.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether the Government will give assistance to the victims of the recent floods? Will particularly sympathetic consideration be given to the claims of primary producers in the Hunter River Valley, many of whom have lost their crops six times in the last twelve months and have also lost their homes, .buildings and plant? The farmers concerned are not eligible to receive social services relief unless they are prepared to accept employment away from their farms. Will the Government consider making relief funds available by way of direct grant rather than by means of loans, even at low interest rates, which would represent an added weight to farmers who are already overburdened ?
– In addition to what the Government has already done in order to assist the victims of these most disastrous floods it will undoubtedly examine with very great sympathy all further claims for assistance which may arise for the relief of cases of hardship.
– Order ! Who is the stranger in the House?
– The Government is deeply concerned about what has happened, particularly in the district to which the honorable member has referred, which has repeatedly suffered most grievous flood damage. The whole matter will be closely, carefully and sympathetically considered.
– Will the Prime Minister indicate to the House whether a direct request has been made by the British Government to the Australian Government for the despatch of an Australian expeditionary force to
Malaya ? If so, is it the intention of the Australian Government to accede to such a request? Is it the intention of the Government to raise a voluntary expeditionary force or to give effect to the recent statements made by our generals that a national army should be sent to any theatre of war?
– No such request has been received either directly or indirectly from the British Government.
– I ask the Minister for National Development whether, in view of the fact that £10,500,000 of the £17,500,000 collected from motorists by way of petrol tax this year will revert to Consolidated Revenue, he will give earnest and immediate consideration to the construction of a permanent allweather road from Canberra to Mount Ginini, that would open up the greatest snow field in Australia, which lies within three hours of Sydney and one and a half hours, by road, from Canberra? Will he also give favorable consideration to cooperating with the State of New South Wales in the construction of a road from the Australian Capital Territory to the nearest part of the New South Wales south coast?
– Insofar as the honorable gentleman’s question affects either of the departments of which I am in charge I shall have it investigated and shal advise him accordingly.
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture prepare a short statement of the reasons for the abolition of butter rationing in Australia in order to inform the public whether there was prior consultation with the British Government about the abolition, and also whether the loss of butter provided for Britainby our rationing, will actually affect the British butter ration? Has the Minister also considered the effect of this sharp decision upon trade relationships between Britain and Australia in regard to butter, having in mind the consistent Danish competition? Finally, will the Minister provide the House with a table by which we can see how much butter and other fats, such as margarine, are still available to British people and what will be the equivalent loss caused by the cessation of butter rationing in Australia?
– I see no necessity to prepare a statement setting out consulations that have taken place between this Government and the British Government on this matter. Butter rationing was imposed in this country by a government that the honorable member supported, and was so imposed, I understood, for the purpose of making available Australia’s equitable contribution to Britain’s butter requirements. Butter rationing was maintained by the present Government for that purpose only and was continued while the necessity existed. The United Kingdom knew that this Government was considering the abolition of butter rationing. The United Kingdom was acquainted with the decision when it was made-
– Was its opinion asked?
– Permission was not, asked. We do not seek permission–
– Order! The Minister is answering a question put to him by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen).
– I said “ opinion “, not, “ permission “.
– Was the British Government asked for its opinion onthe abolition of rationing?
– We do not ask the government of another country for an opinion on our decisions. This Government is not subservient to other govenments. We consult other governments when the need to do so exists.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order! Honorable gentlemen cannot expect answers to questions if a barrage of interjections comes from the front Opposition bench. The Minister has the right to reply to questions without interruption.
– The honorable member for Parkes asked if I would prepare a statement showing the relative availability of butter, margarine and such fats to the people of the United Kingdom and Australia. There is no necessity to prepare a table because the position has been stated publicly, and the facts have been published. The position is quite simple. Until the end of butter rationing in Australia a few days ago the position here was that the per capita ration of butter in Australia was 6 oz. a week. There was no per capita ration of margarine in this country, but the total quantity of margarine available here amounted to from 2-J oz. to ££ oz. a person a week, on the average. An adequate amount was available. I might say that for all practical purposes unrestricted quantities of cooking fat were available. As against the availability to Australians of 6 oz. of rationed butter and a little more than 2 oz. of unrationed margarine, the position in the United Kingdom was. and is, that the total ration of butter and margarine per person in that country is now 9 oz. a week, of which 5 oz. can be taken in butter and 4 oz. in margarine. I believe that, in addition, there is a ration of 2 oz. of cooking fat a week.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that last Friday, in the Standard, which is the official organ of the New South Wales Labour party, there appeared a manifesto which urged members of trade unions to vote and work for selected and endorsed Australian Labour party candidates at the New South Wales general election?
– Order ! The honorable gentleman cannot found a question on a newspaper report.
– I am not founding: a question on a newspaper report, Mr. Speaker. I am bringing forward the fact that a newspaper published something. My question is not founded on a report of anything.
– I cannot understand how .the honorable gentleman can distinguish between the two positions.
– I am not founding a question upon a report of a newspaper. I am trying to found a question on the fact that a newspaper published something.
– Order !
– Is the Prime Minister further aware that amongst those who signed this manifesto were a number of notorious Communists .including Mr. Idris Williams and Mr. Bulmer? Is the Prime Minister of the opinion that as part of the pay-off for this Communist support of the McGirr Government the Federal Labour party is now obliged to sabotage the Government’s antiCommunist legislation?
– I have not seen the publication referred to, but that the Labour party in ‘this Parliament, is engaged in sabotaging the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950 I have no doubt.
– Recently, I read an article concerning the production of what was claimed to be a fibre which was equal to, if not superior to, Indian jute. Will the Minister for Development have the production of this fibre investigated by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization? The article which I read claims that 300 acres of cannas would produce all the fibre that Australia needed.
– If the honorable gentleman will provide me with particulars of the article of which he has spoken, I shall be. glad to have the matter investigated.
– I am in possession of a cutting from the New York Herald Tribune-
– Order ! I have already stated that honorable members cannot found questions on newspaper articles.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he has noticed that President Truman has asked Congress for 500,000 dollars for the study of the practicability of the use of salt water for irrigation and municipal purposes? In a letter accompanying a budget bureau report the President said that the money would be used by the Interior Department in co-operation with other federal agencies, private concerns and universities. He said that the lack of water in the west emphasized the importance of initiating such a programme. If the Prime Minister’s attention has been drawn to this matter, will he instruct his officers to institute inquiries on the success or otherwise of the American scientists in their research, so that in the event of sea water being used for the purposes indicated, we in Australia could then adopt the same methods ?
– I have not seen the report referred to but I shall be glad to have the matter investigated.
Members’ Secretarial Service
– Is the Minister for the Interior aware of the rumour circulating in Sydney and elsewhere to the effect that the Government contemplates withdrawing the services of members’ secretaries and substituting therefor a secretarial pool? In view of the importance of the secretaries to the members for the efficient discharge of their duties to their constituents, will the Minister assure the House that before any change is made in the existing system members will be given due notice?
– I am not aware of the rumours mentioned by the honorable member, and this matter has not received the consideration of the Government. I can assure the honorable member that all sections of the Public Service will be examined when the budget is being prepared, and any change that may take place as a result of that examination will be made known to the honorable member.
– In view of the com pletion of the United KingdomAustralian apple supply contract, is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in a position to indicate to the House the estimated net return to the Tasmanian apple-growers under the terms of that contract ?
– I am not in a position to give that information. I shall see what information can be given and I shall supply it to the honorable member.
– In view of the high educational value that an international dairy congress would have in our Australian dairying industry, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture investigate the suggestion of Mr. G. C. Howey that consideration be given for the holding of such a dairy congress in Australia as a feature of the jubilee year 1951?
-The Government has in mind, in connexion with the celebration ofthe jubilee year, that it should examine the extent to which contributions could be made to agricultural and pastoral education in Australia by bringing to this country persons or representatives of organizations who can make such contributions. The suggestion to which the honorable member has referred has been brought to my notice, and I have asked that inquiries should be made into the practicability, and from the point of other countries, the acceptability, of such a proposal. The matter will be examined.
– Is the Prime
Minister aware of a serious denial of the rights of ex-servicemen who are temporary employees of the Public Service? Will the right honorable gentleman undertake that temporary ex-service personnel who are eligible under regulation 159 to be appointed to permanent positions in the Public Service will be so appointed ? That action will give security to the present temporary employees. By way of explanation I point out that the previous Government introduced legislation, as part of its rehabilitation scheme, to provide permanent employment in the Public Service to ex-servicemen who had passed the intermediate examination or its equivalent. At, the present time that legislation is not operating, but the Public Service is advertising for permanent staff. Some ex-servicemen are employed in the Public Service as temporary employees who, although they have the qualifications that Imentioned, are debarred from the privilege of permanent appointment.
– I shall treat the question as being on the notice-paper and 1 shall have the matter investigated.
– I desire to address a question to the Prime Minister. The frequency with which advertisements appear in the daily newspapers for persons, particularly females, to fill vacancies in the Public Service, indicates that the response is not satisfactory, and, in addition, that there is a steady rate of resignations. Will the Prime Minister be prepared to give favorable consideration to one means of attracting staff? I refer to the optional retirement of women at 55 years and compulsory retirement at 60, with no additional superannuation commitments for those who are already employed in the Service.
– The honorable members suggestion will be examined, but that is all that I can say about it.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that, because of the great size of Australia, many honorable members who are elected to this House, enter it for the first time without having a great deal of knowledge of many -parts of the continent, particularly the outlying and less developed areas. If it is a fact, will the right honorable gentleman and his colleagues give serious consideration to facilitating in every possible way visits by parties of honorable members to various parts of Australia so that they may acquaint themselves more fully with the problems of a continental scale that confront this Parliament?
– I shall be glad to discuss the matter with my colleagues.
– Has the Minister for National Development found a place in his plans for national development for a virile co-operative movement, the encouragement and development of which will do much to protect the people of this country from the exploitation from which they suffer when they purchase the necessaries of life from large-scale private enterprises, monopolies, trusts and combines ?
– I do not agree for one moment with the premise on which the honorable gentleman’s question is based, but insofar as the co-operative movement has any relevance to national development, I shall certainly be glad to take it into account.
– Is it a fact that the Prime Minister contemplates a visit abroad during the forthcoming parliamentary recess? If so, will he say which Minister or Ministers will then be responsible for putting value back into the £1 ? Would the right honorable gentleman care to say whether such Minister or Ministers will be any more successful than he himself has been up to date in this regard ? Also, will be briefly state the reasons that have caused him to fail so dismally in his efforts to put value back into the £1 up to the present?
– The answer to the non-facetious question is that I do not know whether I am going abroad or not. Everybody else seems to know, but 1 do not.
– Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform me when the next meeting of State Ministers of Agriculture is to be held ? As the honorable gentleman knows, many agricultural problems are awaiting decisions. Now that all States have held their general elections, with unhappy results in some instances, will the Minister arrange for a meeting of State Ministers of Agriculture to be held at an early date?
– I have already indicated to all State Ministers of Agriculture my wish to have a meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council as soon as will he convenient to them. A meeting of the standing committee of the council, which consists of the permanent heads of all departments concerned and other appropriate officials, is to be held within a few days. I have no doubt that there will be <a meeting of Ministers at a comparatively early date after that.
Mv. CLARK.- - In view of reports that the Government is considering a revaluation of the Australian £1, 1 ask the Prime Minister whether he will give consideration to the destructive effects that any revaluation would have upon the gold and other metal industries before he makes any decision on the matter?
– In any consideration that the Cabinet gives to any of these economic problems, it takes all material factors into account.
– I desire to address a question to the Prime Minister, and, by way of explanation, I point out that the honorable member for Bennelong told a meeting of the Northern Suburbs branch of the Old-age and Invalid Pensioners Association yesterday that they could expect an almost immediate increase of the rate of pension. Will the Prime Minister inform me whether the honorable member was speaking for the Government when he made that statement? I also inform the Prime Minister that the federal president of the Old-age and Invalid Pensioners Association told the same meeting that pensions would be increased by 5s. or 7s. 6d. a week? Will the right honorable gentleman inform me which of those two amounts is correct? At the same meeting, the honorable member for North Sydney told the pensioners that when the Parliament was considering pensions, he would move that the rate be increased by 10s. a week. In view of that conflict of opinion among those two Government supporters, will the Prime Minister clarify the position regarding the amount of the increase of pension, and the date on which the increase will commence? As pensioners are in dire need because of the continued increase of the cost of living and the failure of the Government to put value back into the fi, will quick action be taken to alleviate their unfavorable economic position?
– Any statement that is to be made on financial matters will be delivered in due course by the Treasurer in his own time.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the adequate main tenance provisions in the determination of applications for invalid pensions are falling with undue severity on the families of small wage earners? Is he also aware that although those provisions were greatly relaxed by the previous Government, there is a. feeling of resentment in those families who possess an unsuccessful applicant under the age of 21 years for an invalid pension? Will the right honorable gentleman investigate that matter, and if my statements are found to be correct, will he take steps to ameliorate the position?
– I shall be glad to refer the honorable member’s question and his observations to the Minister for Social Services.
– In view of the fact that social services contributions received to date indicate that total collections for the year will exceed the budget estimate of receipts from that source by £5,000,000, will the Prime Minister give urgent consideration to granting an interim increase of age and invalid pensions particularly in the interests of those recipients who are completely dependent on their pensions for their sustenance? I emphasize that the position of these pensioners is wellnigh desperate.
– I fully appreciate the point that the honorable member has made, but I must repeat that I do not propose at question time to deal with matters of the kind to which he has referred. They will be dealt with at the appropriate time.
– Oan the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the House of the date on which tea rationing will be abolished ? Will he comment on the current rumour that it will not be abolished until the eve of the next Commonwealth or State general election? In view of the fact that the McGirr Labour Government was returned to office in New South Wales last Saturday, will he indicate when tea rationing will end?
– When a decision is made about tea rationing, it will be announced in this House in the ordinary manner.
– Did the Minister for External Affairs hear the broadcast from New York on the 13th June last, the effect of which was that for the purpose of aiding in the development of backward countries, the United States Government Export and Import Bank was to be authorized to guarantee manufacturers, who were willing to provide capital for the establishment of industries in the undeveloped countries, against loss of capital through expropriation or seizure by the governments of those countries? Will the Minister consider the advisability of giving a guarantee against loss of capital through confiscation or seizure to Australian manufacturers who are willing to establish industries in Indonesia and in other near islands?
– I did not hear the broadcast to which the honorable member has referred, although I have a knowledge of the subject-matter of it. I shall bring the second part of his question to the notice of the Treasurer.
– In . view of the assurance which the Treasurer has given to the House that ample supplies of petrol are available, will the Prime Minister take steps to ensure that the octane rating of motor fuel, which at present is 72, shall be increased to the pre-war specification of 80? I point out, by WaY of explanation, that the result of motorists being forced to operate their cars on the lower octane fuel is that certain of the current designs of high compression engines must be de-tuned by retardation of the ignition timing, and such engines are more sensitive to carbonization. Those factors mean that the average motorist now incurs much heavier expense for the upkeep of his vehicle.
– I bow to the honorable member’s obvious mastery of the technique of the internal combustion engine, and I shall be very happy to convey his interesting suggestions to the Minister for Fuel. Shipping and Transport.
– Will the Treasurer inform me whether it is a fact that the members of the sterling Hoc are now earning more dollars than they are expending? If that is so, has any consequential increase been made in Australia’s dollar allocation or is any such increase proposed? If no increase has been granted, what action does the Government propose to take in order to ensure that Australia shall get a better deal in the allocation of dollars, which are so vitally needed for the development of this country?
– If the honorable member for Yarra will pay me the compliment of listening to my reply to the second-reading debate on the financial bills now before the House he will get all the information that he requires on that subject.
– Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform the House whether further progress has been made in recent months in methods of combating ticks? I point out, by way of explanation, that several of the newer chemical agents which were developed during the last few years gave promise of being most effective, but appeared, to lose their effectiveness after several months? Can the Minister inform me whether that loss of effectiveness was due to the fact that the parasites developed an immunity to the chemical agents, or were there other factors at work to produce that result? What measures can be taken to deal with the situation ?
– I regret to inform the honorable gentleman that I have not an up-to-date knowledge of the new chemicals which have been developed in an endeavour to control cattle tick and sheep tick, but I shall be glad to confer with the specialist officials of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, and I shall try to assemble all the information that is to hand on that most important subject, and make it available to the honorable member and to any other honorable members who may be interested in it.
– Will the Minister for Immigration inform me whether it is a fact that a Mr. Norris Merrett was granted a passport after an officer of the Department of External Affairs had made a recommendation against it? Was the decision to grant the passport made following representations by the Treasurer? Was a protest made by the French Government against the granting of the passport on the grounds that that gentleman was engaged in gun running in Indo-China.
– The statements that the honorable member has made constitute the first information that I, personally, have received about the matter to which he has referred. I shall have inquiries made and supply an answer to him later.
– by leave - A number of honorable members, including the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) and the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), have asked me to investigate the possibility of the Department of Supply manufacturing.22 rifle ammunition or of seeing whether such ammunition can be obtained in any other way. As honorable members have indicated, there is a considerable shortage of ammunition of this calibre which is needed, not only for sporting purposes, but also for use in the destruction of pests. I have investigated the suggestion that the Department of Supply should set up a factory for the production of these cartridges, but I find that such a project would cost approximately £300,000. The department has not previously manufactured these cartridges. In addition, it would be not less than two years before such a government factory could be in production. In those circumstances, and having regard to the fact that government factories are now fully occupied with the provision of normal defence requirements, I cannot recommend that any step of that kind should be taken. I have asked my departmental officers to consult with Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited, which is a major manufacturer of ammunition of this type, with a view to inducing it to increase its production.
– Does the Minister think that that company will expend £300,000 to undertake that work?
– The company would not be involved in any additional expenditure because it could manufacture large quantities of ammunition of this type in factories that it is now operating. Whilst quantities of these cartridges are imported, I understand that deliveries from overseas are irregular. However, good relations exist between the department and Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited. That company will be asked to increase its production if it can possibly do so, and I have no doubt that it will do everything it can to meet our wishes in this respect.
Motion (by Mr. McBride) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Tariff Board Act 1921-1947.
Mr. MENZIES (Kooyong - Prime
Minister) [3.20]. - It is proposed that this afternoon the debate on the Appropriation Bill and the other three bills that have been associated with it for purposes of convenience, shall continue but it is intended at 8 o’clock to revert to the Communist Party Dissolution Bill in order to give consideration to the amendments made by the Senate. Therefore Imove -
That Orders of the Day Nos. 1 to 4 be postponed until after Orders of the Day Nos.5 to 8, Government Business.
.- I desire to refer to a short but important point in relation to the consideration of the whole schedule of the amendments made by the Senate to the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. From an examination of the schedule it would appear that while fourteen out of sixteen Government amendments were agreed to by the Opposition, only one of fourteen amendments put forward by the Opposition is to be accepted by the Government, and we shall have before us this evening amendments numbering not less than 29. On the motion for the adjournment on Thursday last, I suggested to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen), who was in charge of the House, that for the convenience of honorable members a copy of the bill in the form in which it was adopted by the Senate on the third reading should be made available either in print or in roneo form. The Minister said that he would bring the matter to the attention of the Government and added, “ I have no doubt that it will be acceded to “. Unless honorable members make a study of the Senate amendments, including many consequential amendments, which would take considerable time, it will be practically impossible to consider the amendments properly unless they are shown at the appropriate places in the measure. However, I understand that the Government has refused to accede to the request that I made on Thursday last. I now ask the Prime Minister to reconsider the position so that honorable members, when they come to examine the measure, will have before them a copy of the bill as passed by the House of Representatives and a copy of the bill as amended by the Senate. In those circumstances they will find it much less difficult to understand the true significance and relationship of the amendments. “What the Government now proposes to do is something quite distinct and different from my suggestion. Only a few minutes ago a schedule which showed 29 amendments wa9 circulated among honorable members, together with copies of the motions that the Government proposes to submit in respect of them. I have no objection to that procedure, but I suggest that, in addition, honorable members should he supplied with a complete copy if the measure with all the amendments made by the Senate. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture virtually gave an undertaking that that suggestion would be acceded to. I again ask the Prime Minister whether it is not possible to supply honorable members with a copy of the bill as passed by the House and also a copy of the bill as passed by the Senate so that honorable members will have all the amendments in their correct setting.,
– The right honorable gentleman should know what they are because he prepared most of them.
– I am thoroughly familiar with them, but I do not think that the Minister for External Affairs(Mr. Spender) is. The House is entitled to be fully aware of what is proposed. A considerable analysis of the bill will be needed in order to appreciate theprecise place in which the amendmentshave been inserted by the Senate. “What I have suggested would greatly assist honorable members. I hope that thePrime Minister will reconsider the matter and let us have the bill in roneoed form so that we may proceed to consider it to-night.
– in reply - I do not propose to accede to the request of theright honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt). We have taken the amendments made by the Senate, which in large measure were those submitted by theOpposition in this chamber and which have already been considered by theHouse, and, with the addition of oneother amendment, we have set them out and indicated in black type in the document which has now been circulated thenature of the motions we propose tosubmit in this chamber. There is nomystery about it. Unless honorable members opposite have forgotten the terms of the amendments which they submitted’ in this chamber they will have no difficulty. I do not suppose for one moment they have forgotten the nature of their amendments. This bill has been declared’ by this House to be an urgent bill and as far as the Government is concerned’ it remains an urgent bill. It will be dealt with to-night at 8 o’clock.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 15th June(vide page 4437), on motion by Mr.. Fadden -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The honorable member for Batman (Mr.. Bird) and the honorable member for
Chisholm (Mr. Kent Hughes) have indicated the financial difficulties that are being experienced by the State governments and both appealed to thi9 Government to grant financial assistance to the States in respect of the matters to which they specifically referred. I /propose to deal with education and to some degree my remarks will be in line with those of both of those honorable gentlemen. Honorable members are aware that the State governments are not able to do all they desire because of financial limitations. All States have appealed to the Commonwealth for assistance in the extension of educational facilities. For many years, the Teachers Federation of Australia has urged the Commonwealth to assist the States in their educational programmes. The interest of that body in this matter is, of course, apparent. For many years teachers throughout the Commonwealth have looked forward to the establishment of parallel courses of education and the provision of uniform conditions in the teaching services of the States. Since the establishment by the States of independent tribunals to deal with teachers’ wages and conditions a great improvement has taken place in the teaching profession, but as a consequence the cost of education has sharply risen and the difficulties of the State governments have been correspondingly increased. There has been a great demand in the community for the extension of educational facilities, but State governments have found increasing difficulty in financing scholarships to enable pupils of outstanding capacity to undergo courses in secondary schools and universities. The State governments, particularly the Government of Victoria, have indicated that they desire the school leaving age to be considerably extended, and with that objective in view they have laid down suitable postprimary courses which are now ready to be put into operation.
Honorable members know that there is a very strong demand for the extension of the kindergarten system. The States are aware that tangible assistance will have to be rendered by the Commonwealth in the establishment of the kindergarten system on a full-scale basis. The time is now appropriate for this matter to be’ considered by the Commonwealth. So that there may be no confusion in the minds of honorable members about this matter, let me say at once that, generally speaking, the establishment and maintenance of kindergarten schools fall within the province not of the State Education Departments hut of the State Health Departments. Obviously, kindergartens cannot be brought within the compulsory education system. Having regard to these facts, it will be appreciated that a great deal of money will have to be provided for the extension of education services and that nothing can be done in the matter without substantial aid from the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth has decided to extend the scholarships system, and I understand that it proposes to allot andadminister such scholarships as are granted. The State governments consider that the Commonwealth should allow such scholarships to be administered by the States. Another factor which will have an important bearing on this subject is the decision of the Premier of Victoria, as reported in this morning^ Melbourne press, to make representations to the Commonwealth for assistance in the establishment of the kindergarten system within the boundaries of the State. The State governments realize that the extension of the school age will be impracticable until the Commonwealth endows students more substantially than it does at present. This matter is one essentially for Commonwealth and State co-operation. Sooner or later, the Commonwealth will have to render practical assistance to the States for education purposes. Some measure of re-orientation will undoubtedly be necessary. Like C. J. Dennis, I repeat our chivalry is upside down. The citizens of Melbourne point with some degree of pride to a magnificent and spacious building which is situated in Russell-street and which is fully occupied by hard-working staffs from the top to the bottom. These staffs are engaged in the detection of those who have no respect of justice or for law and order. It seems ironical that people should look with pride on a building that has been erected purely for that purpose. We point to the number and the size of our hospitals as an example of the measure of our civilization. When we think of the defence of our country we have in mind the number of persons whom we can enlist when war threatens us. But there is another side of the picture quite different from our magnificent buildings and hospitals. It is a very grim side. We can point to slum areas side by side with the magnificent buildings that I have mentioned, where toddlers who have to live in rat-infested, bug-infested and flea-infested substandard homes play in the gutters every day. We dare not conduct many visitors to our cities, in Victoria at any rate, on an inspection of our barrack-like school buildings that are so old that anybody who had visited them would never want to see them again. School teachers are so scarce in Victoria that an improvement of the size of classes, which are at present too large, and an extension of the school leaving age, are not practicable. There is such a lack of schools in some suburbs of Melbourne that frenzied parents and school teachers are almost panic-stricken as they try to discover a means of carrying on under conditions that are steadily becoming worse. The answer to whether or not these unsavoury conditions will continue to exist is closely related to the amount of support that the Australian Government will give to the States to help them out of the very difficult position in which they find themselves.
Any sound defence policy in this country must provide for the three fundamentals of health, intellect and social adjustment. The importance of health is so obvious that it should not require to be mentioned, but, like many things that are obvious, it receives very little attention. The earliest form of education provided by our State systems is given by the baby health centres, which have been unanimously pronounced a success because they have reduced infant mortality. The system of baby health centres was established to teach mothers the essential features of public health training. But after the age of two years children are no longer under lie care of baby health centres, so that the training that their mothers havereceived in the first two years of the lives of their children ends by being completely lost through not having been continued. Kindergarten education is logically the next stage after the training at the baby health centre has been completed,, but the conduct of kindergartens has proved costly and as a result those institutions have been neglected. Anti-social tendencies are more likely to have their initial development in a child in the years immediately following its second birthday than at any other period of its life,, and they should be corrected at that period of its life. A mother requires theassistance of a .psychologist at that stagejust as much as she required at a previous stage the advice of the nurse at a baby health centre. The expenditure incurred in the provision of such assistance would be offset, in the long run, by thepossibility of reducing the strength of the police force. Many children whodevelop anti-social tendencies at an early age become criminals. The correction of such tendencies at the time when they were developing would mean that many more children would grow up to be decent law-abiding citizens. Such correction,, spread over large sections of the community, would make possible a diminution of .the strength of the police force that the State maintains for the prevention of crime and the solution of crimesthat would never have occurred if the criminals had received proper psychological care in their childhood. The dental inspection of children should commence at the kindergarten stage. Carefully designed propaganda should bedirected to parents in respect of immunization against disease and on the early discovery and treatment of tuberculosis and cancer. The expenditure on such propaganda would be amply offset by theconsequent reduction of the cost of building and maintaining hospitals. It would also reduce avoidable absenteeism in industry, which, I understand, is at a veryhigh figure. The gain to industry that would result from the proper application, of health knowledge at an early stage in the child’s life is so high that its valuecould not be accurately estimated.
The standard of the community’s intellect is closely allied with the kindergarten system. Properly, educated children would grow up with the correct habits, would have made necessary communal adjustments at the right time of their lives and would have developed a love for all that our educational system really stands for. I believe that by giving financial assistance to the States for education we would aid them to attain a sound intellectual level in the community. A. knowledge,, gained in school, of the conditions of life and the outlook of the people of other countries, would assist in the prevention of war. In any event when war does come the people who are of real value to the army are people with education. The provision of. improved education can therefore clearly be related to defence. Such a policy may take a long time to bring to fruition and may be costly, but it would bring its own rewards. Only the Commonwealth could make a full-scale educational policy possible, and it is perfectly obvious, from the representations that have been made to the State authorities and that they in turn have made to the Commonwealth, that that policy is desired by the people themselves. It is necessary at this stage to have a thorough realization of the costs involved in such a policy. In order to improve kindergarten training in the community it would be necessary to establish colleges for the training of kindergarten teachers. I understand that the course of training lasts three years, and that intending, trainees must have reached the leaving certificate standard before they may undertake the course. A course of training at such a college is so costly, however, that it would be almost impracticable to expect the average student to take it up. The provision of liberal scholarships for people who desire training as kindergarten teachers would be one way in which the Commonwealth could assist the States. I give credit to the present Victorian Government because, during the last two years, it has made available a very considerable number of scholarships for that purpose, but a good deal remains to be done in that direction. It must be realized that a properly organized kindergarten should teach only small numbers of children at_a time. The ideal number of children is Itf teen and should certainly not be more than twenty. Each kindergarten therefore would be able to teach only 30 or 40 children a day if it had two half -day sessions. A large number of kindergartens would therefore be necessary. The cost of .buildings and land would be heavy because the correct kind of building is necessary if the kindergarten is to do good work. I understand that the cost of a building and land necessary for the training of 30 children would be about £5,000. The provision of large numbers of kindergartens at such a cost is beyond the capacity of the cities and municipalities that have interested themselves in such matters. One practical step could be taken in the promotion of such services if parents were trained’ in kindergarten methods just as they are now trained in the methods used at the baby health centres. If the Commonwealth intends to do anything about assisting the States in educational matters it might consider that aspect as the first step in such assistance. There is a very great shortage of trained kindergarten supervisors. The municipality in which I live applied for one more than two years ago, but has not yet been able to make an appointment.
The construction of buildings to cope with abnormal school development in the States is an extremely urgent matter. In Melbourne most of the ‘city schools are very overcrowded. Over the years a demand has grown for the establishment of consolidated schools in rural areas. That demand has arisen because it is felt that it is not just that country children should have to suffer merely because they are country children. These two demands may be regarded as existing side by side.
In the interests of the general health of the community, medical and dental services should be extended immediately to children who compulsorily attend primary and secondary schools. Considerable expenditure would be necessary to make such services available, but I hope that the greatest co-operation will be given by the Dental Board and the British Medical Association if a plan to achieve this objective is put before them in order that the cost of treatment might bc kept within the amount of money made available by the Australian or State Governments. Only the lack of the necessary money prevents the operation of such a scheme at the present time.
The blueprints for post-primary education have been completely prepared and unless rapid assistance is given to the States by direct grants and by the extension of a greater amount of inducement to students than has been given in the past it is probable that another generation will pass by without any of these plans being brought into being. Technical and secondary schools are so few that it is necessary to conduct competitive examinations to see who shall be excluded from attendance at those schools. It is shocking that many children who have the capacity to benefit from secondary or technical education are unable to receive it because neither the accommodation nor the teachers are available to conduct the service. A child may be set back for the remainder of his life, simply because he failed by a couple of marks in the competitive examination which is held for admission of pupils to these schools. The number of pupils admitted bears no relation to their capacity to undertake the. study required of them but merely to the space available. The progress of the Commonwealth suffers a great impediment because of the number of pupils who remain untrained as a result of this shortage of accommodation and teachers.
At the university level, money is a most determining factor in education. Much was done under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme for the rehabilitation of troops after their return from the war. Magnificent work was done in providing training for those who desired to receive it. That scheme made possible the establishment of a decentralized university organization at Mildura, in Victoria. Unfortunately, when the reconstruction training scheme was completed, money was no longer available for the support of that activity, which had to close down. I believe that what can be provided for students at the close of a war or during a war should be even more possible during times of peace. I believe that the provision of the educational facilities that I have mentioned would be a guarantee of peace and would certainly be the best guarantee of defence. In view of the position that the States are in at the present time, and the fact that they are responsible for the provision of education, it seems to me that unless the Commonwealth provides assistance it will not be possible to open the doors of secondary or university education to many people who have the capacity to use it. The Commonwealth has a great responsibility in that regard.
The Commonwealth could assist the States, also, by laying down common standards in salaries, courses and opportunities of the various States. It seems to me that there is a belief that some States suffer because they are smaller than others. Commonwealth aid alone can make educational courses parallel in all States and make conditions sufficiently attractive for the best type of teachers to offer their services to any State. Only Commonwealth assistance can make available the opportunities that should exist in an educational system. The difference between the educational systems of the States at the moment is merely one of degree. Some States specialize in subjects that are different from those in which other States specialize. That position can bc remedied :by a Commonwealth organization. I understand, for example, that New South Wales schools specialize in English, whereas Victorian schools probably specialize in mathematics. Such differences are not very material. I believe that, with Commonwealth cooperation, avenues for the exchange of teachers between the various States could be opened. Arrangements for the exchange of teachers between the States are urgently needed. It is strange that the States regularly exchange teachers with countries such as England, Canada, and New Zealand, whilst there seems to be no arrangement for exchanges between the States themselves. That is not a very healthy factor in the encouragement of the federal spirit which the founders of the Constitution intended to foster. The exchange of teachers between States would be one of the best ways of promoting the growth of a federal spirit.
I hope that the Australian Government will take some interest in the matter of education, that it will become education minded, and that it will realize that State education embraces all that the Commonwealth could possibly require in respect to health, wealth, and defence. It seems to me that the Government should endeavour to organize the cooperation that the States have been seeking for so long. This co-operation has become an absolute necessity from which the Commonwealth itself could derive very much benefit.
.- I listened with a great deal of interest to the speech of the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Andrews) regarding primary education in Victoria. I regret that more members of his own party were not present to listen to such a reasoned address. Conditions very similar to those which the honorable member has described as existing in Victoria exist in New South Wales. In that State there is a crisis in education, due to a lack of necessary facilities. Any suggestions which honorable members on either side of the House may he able to make to solve these difficulties are worthy of consideration. Although differing somewhat in my political views from the honorable member for Darebin, I agree with his references to primary education-. I think that he has made valuable contributions in that matter and I compliment him on the speech that he has just made.
During the past few months I have been amazed and somewhat amused by the utterances of honorable members opposite in decrying private enterprise. When I hear honorable members opposite talking about the failure of private enterprise, I wish that I could take them to Blacktown in my electorate where there is a magnificent monument to socialism. It is a huge heap of about 120,000 tiles. Those tiles were made at the New South Wales Government tile works at Blacktown, and they are all cracked. The cracked tiles are carried away as quickly as can be arranged, but more are always being added to the heap. I am reliably informed that 75 per cent, of the production of that government tile works has to be rejected. No doubt if this statement of mine happens to appear in print, the “ McGirr Mountain “, as it is called locally, will disappear for the time being. But the inefficiency of the New South Wales Government tile works cannot be hidden indefinitely, and its story is an object lesson to every Australian in the failure of socialism. Those who are trying to build homes at present find that the most difficult problem facing them is that of securing roofing tiles. Three years ago the New South Wales socialist Government decided to solve that problem. It produced some brand new ideas. No doubt it was burning with a desire to show what socialism could do. That Government claimed that private enterprise had failed to supply roofing tiles in sufficient quantities to meet public needs. It decided to show us all how a government tile works could handle the problem. The New South Wales Government therefore established its own tile works. Now, after three years’ operation, the supply of tiles is less than ever before, and it has been made so by government interference. The history of the New South Wales Government tile works is a sad story of frustration for every home-builder, and it reveals in a nutshell the weaknesses of socialism. The New South Wales Government started off with what it termed a revolutionary new idea and a new process. It was quite triumphant about this process - and said that it would show the outmoded capitalists what real efficiency was. The new method was called the extrusion process, and it has been used in the Blacktown State tile works for eight months, but it has not fulfilled one-eighth of the Government’s promises for it. In fact, the whole scheme is a sorry failure. If the Government were to scrap it now, as it should do, it would have to admit failure, because it made such a fuss upon its introduction. Therefore, unfortunately, the State tile works must be kept going. The result is that man-power, electricity and coal, all of which are in short supply, are wasted each week in producing a very few tiles. In such circumstances it is no wonder at all that tiles are in short supply. The McGirr Government has hung an iron curtain of security around the Blacktown tile works, which has made it impossible to get any information about output or costs. However, I have ascertained some of the history as given by Mr. Cahill, the New South Wales Minister for Works. Upon introducing the bill to establish the tile works in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in 1947, he stated, according to Hansard of the New South Wales Parliament -
I believe that the State works will be able to manufacture tiles for £S a thousand as compared with the private enterprise price of £24 a thousand.
But when the works started to produce, they quoted a huyer £26 5s. a thousand. When Mr. Cahill was challenged about this price, his only reply was, “ The price will not be more than that of private works “. The present-day price for tiles is in the vicinity of £27 a thousand.
– What did they cost in 1939?
– I am afraid that I cannot supply that information. Although a promise was made to supply tiles at £8 a thousand, the price finally worked out at £26 5s. a thousand. Upon my information, the Government would be losing a fortune in selling even at the price of £26 5s. a thousand, because the cost of production is astronomical. The tiles produced are being delivered to government-built homes. Even the tiles not rejected are found to be of poor quality, and the best estimate of the production of this works is that it produces enough tiles to cover the roofs of six or seven homes each week, against the original promise of tiles for 50 homes a week. The New South Wales Government was warned by private enterprise that the extrusion process had been proved a failure long before the works were built. The Government would not listen to that advice. This extrusion process was not new. Private enterprise had tried it out about 50 years previously, and had found that it was a failure under Australian conditions. In addition to this revolutionary process, the New South Wales Government also had a revolutionary method of drying the tiles. It claimed that its method was far superior to the methods of private enterprise, and that it was much quicker; The only trouble appears to be that it does not do the job of drying properly. Practical tile manufacturers weep when they look at the Government tile works. Heaven knows how much it would cost to make the plant really efficient, if it could be done at all. With regard to the costs, which incidentally affect the Australian Government, Mr. Cahill said in 1947, according to Hansard of the New South Wales Parliament -
A modern tile works for the production of 5,000,000 tiles and other clay products will be established at a maximum cost of £100,000.
When the works were opened, in October, 1949, he said that “ the expenditure of £300,000 would be justified”. He was then just letting out a little of the unpleasant truth. In fact, practical men estimate that £500,000 will not cover the final cost of this project, although the original estimate was £100,000. One can only hope that the turn pf the political wheel will remove the government responsible for this bungle, so that the energy, raw materials, coal and power being wasted on this project can be turned to useful purposes.
As long as the present Government in New South Wales continues this sort of waste the housing position will not improve. This story touches the Australian Government, because the taxpayers not only of New South Wales but also of Victoria, South Australia and other States have to pay for the bungle. Under the present system of finance the States are continuously asking the Commonwealth for money. In fact, every time anybody wants anything in New South Wales the Government passes the buck to the Australian Government, and say3, “ We will do it if the Commonwealth will give us the money “. An example of that was given when there was a recent agitation to abolish the toll on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I say that this position will affect the Treasurer of the Commonwealth. The New South Wales Government may ask for money for worthy causes, but the Treasurer knows that the State would have had funds of its own if it had not wasted them in some socialist “ no-hope “ enterprise. I say that the tile works episode is a scandal and that there should be a full inquiry into the whole matter before this Government finances any more socialism in New South Wales.
Since I have been a member of this House I have heard many reflections cast upon primary producers by members of the Opposition. The wool-grower has become an object of abuse, although his only crime seems to be that he is enjoying a period of prosperity. Members of the Opposition have forgotten the lean years that the wool-growers endured. A necessary qualification for a socialist apparently is a convenient memory that will recall only those facts that suit the occasion. In these repeated attacks upon the wool-growers by the Opposition, the antics of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser) have been an interesting subject for study. The honorable gentleman is rather like the visiting English footballers. He does not know whether he is onside or offside. If, in the past, he has had leave to criticize his own political party in order to maintain the shaky hold that he has on the electorate that he represents, he is now being repaid in full measure for that licence by his colleagues, with their continued criticism of the wool-growers. Not once since I have been a member of this House have I heard any expression of praise for the man on the land from members of the Opposition. There have been plenty of jeers about “ rural fascists “ and “ wool .barons “, but members of the Opposition have shown very little appreciation of the difficulties that confront the average small grower of primary products. In fact, the Labour paTty seems to believe that, because wool prices are high, all primary producers are enjoying prosperity.
– They are all millionaires.
– I do not like disillusioning the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin), but I tell him that all is not well with many men on the land. His interjection has shown that he knows very little about primary production. The socialist system of administration, for which the Chifley Government was responsible, has placed the small farmer in a very serious position. He has many difficult problems to solve, and much will have to be done on his behalf before he can enjoy anything like the measure of financial independence that was suggested by the honorable member’s interjection. The honorable member may know a good deal about boiler-making, but he is ignorant on the subject of primary pro*duction
I direct attention especially to the plight of farmers in the coastal regions of New South Wales. The disastrous floods of the past few weeks have provided us with a timely warning that water conservation and flood mitigation must be accepted immediately as a national responsibility. Serious consequences will follow any further delay on our part in accepting that responsibility. We have much to learn from the United States of America, Holland, and other countries about water conservation and flood prevention. Unless we devote ourselves to solving the alternating problems caused by too much and too little water in Australia, we shall live to regret our heedlessness. These problems are of national importance and they should engage the attention of honorable members on both sides of the House. Critical conditions exist in the coastal areas of New South Wales. When we entered the winter months, the ground had been well soaked by heavy summer rains and it should have been obvious to any thoughtful person that anything more than a normal winter rainfall would have serious consequences. I have been most fearful of this winter, I saw the Hawkesbury River rise last year, when many settlers were ruined. The river broke its , banks three times earlier in the year, and now it has done so for the fourth time with disastrous results. In March I asked the Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey) to consider assembling a team of scientists and engineers to carry out, as a national work, a programme of flood prevention, water conservation and irrigation in one river basin with the object of evolving a general technique for use throughout Australia. I suggested the Hawkesbury basin as the location for such experimental work because it is the oldest river settlement in Australia and consequently has the longest record of flood damage. I again make the suggestion and ask the Minister for National Development to. give earnest consideration to it.
I cannot over-stress the urgency of tho need to take definite steps to prevent floods and establish a system of water conservation. The plight of those who have suffered during the last week is sufficient testimony of the need for such action. In the Mitchell electorate, many farmers have been ruined. The savings of a lifetime of hard work have been dissipated during the last twelve months. The flood emergency relief scheme is inadequate in times such as the present. Crops and homes cannot be replaced with the meagre few pounds that are offered under the scheme. It is the responsibility of either this Government or the State government, not to offer a few paltry pounds when damage has been done, but to take action to prevent such damage from occurring. The victims of the floods are not looking for charity. They are prepared to work and take the risks of the seasons as they come, but those risks could be considerably reduced if the danger’ of floods and droughts were removed. No man on the land has a bigger heart to meet adversity than have the growers of small crops - the vegetable-growers, the citrus-growers, the dairy-farmers and poultry-farmers - who are working properties that arc likely to be flooded. When the floods subside, they go to work again to repair the damage that has been done and to restore order. I have never ceased to admire their courage.
In this House during the last few months I have listened many times to the complaints of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). He always seems to be worrying about what happened to him during the depression and to be resentful of the wealth of other people. Everybody else seems to be happier than he is, according to his speeches, but I am sure that, if he would make a tour of the Mitchell electorate with me at present, he would decide that his lot was a very happy one by comparison with that of people whose homes have been covered in mud, whose crops have been ruined and who have lost all of their possessions, yet who have the courage to face the future with the hope that a good season may get them out of trouble. We have a duty to ensure that that hope shall not die, and I believe that we can do much to help those people.
I acknowledge without hesitation that the initiation of the construction of a series of dams, weirs and other means of controlling water in a river such as the Hawkesbury River may not have such a national significance as has the Snowy Mountains scheme. Nevertheless, I consider that such a task is of national importance. The Hawkesbury River basin is recognized as one of the food baskets of Sydney, with its great population. Floods in that basin mean less milk, less vegetables, less eggs and less fruit for the metropolis. Such shortages in Sydney, in turn, have an effect on the whole nation. Therefore, I suggest that our national development scheme should include provision for the financing of works designed to prevent floods in such river basins. I know that the great difficulty about undertaking schemes of that nature at present is that there is so much work to be done and that we have not sufficient machinery, materials and labour for our needs. That is the inevitable result of a centralized administration that fails to realize the value of enlisting the enthusiasm and help of people who live in the districts concerned and will benefit from such schemes. That is why I urge the claims of the Hawkesbury Valley as a project for inclusion in the plans for national development. When we consider that area, we are not concerned with any far-away dreams among primative surroundings. The population, and the amenities of civilized living, are already there. The development of that valley would I am sure, tap great reserves of labour in the surrounding districts. Local men would join in with enthusiasm, because they would know that, by so doing, they were benefiting their home areas. Such a proposition would be vastly easier than trying to recruit labour for a project in some practically unknown area hundreds of miles from civilization. Homes, roads, power and transport are already established in the Hawkesbury Valley, whereas the provision of them for a project like the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme will occupy some years.
I realize that the Commonwealth may take the attitude that flood prevention, and water conservation and irrigation within the boundary of a State, are the responsibilities of that State. That may be quite true, but the Commonwealth has taken from the States the right to collect their own revenues by imposing their own taxes, and I believe that, under those conditions, the Commonwealth must accept some of the responsibility for projects that the States could possibly carry out if they raised their own revenues. This is a matter of finance, and I consider that the Commonwealth, as the financial authority, should be able to handle undertakings such as the Hawkesbury Valley development scheme. I hope that when the Government is considering national development, due attention will be paid to the small grower and the farmer, who may be assisted greatly by the right approach to the problem of water conservation and flood mitigation.
– I wish to direct attention to the plight of a section of the community that has been overlooked, and is suffering from a serious disability. We have known for many years of what has been termed. “ the genteel rich “.
– Not the gentile rich ?
– No. When I use that expression, I refer to a section of the community which, according to some people, receives no encouragement to provide for the future. 1 have spoken on this subject in the past, and I refer to it again to-day because I consider that the wrong approach to it has been adopted. Some persons have managed to provide small means for the purpose of assisting themselves when they are prevented, by advancing years, from working any longer. Among the people who are, perhaps, hit hardest are those who have saved between £1,000 and £2,000.
– How were they treated by the previous Government?
– I admit that the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) has asked a pertinent question, but I remind him that, the previous Government improved the position to some degree. Originally, the pension of a husband and wife was affected if they had more than £50. The Labour Government relaxed that provision on two occasions. At first, each was allowed to have £50, and comparatively recently, each was permitted to have £100 before their pensions were affected. Consequently the Labour Government did relax the original position to some degree. That law also provided originally that if husband and wife owned property the value of which exceeded £400 each, they were not eligible to receive a pension. The Labour Government increased that limit to £750 each. I had hoped, at that time, that my suggestions would be adopted. However, those facts will serve to show that the matter is not new.
The Treasurer may also be interested to learn of a class of person who is also hard hit by taxation, not directly by the act itself, but by the regulations that are promulgated under it. For example, a taxpayer who is maintaining a parent is placed at a serious disadvantage if the home in which they live belongs either to the parent, or to the parent and taxpayer jointly. I shall cite a specific case. The taxpayer is a woman aged 70 years, and her mother, whom she has maintained for many years, is more than 90 years of age. The daughter contributed to a superannuation scheme while she was working, and the home, which is in their joint names, was purchased not by the mother but by the daughter, when she was in receipt of a reasonable income. Now, in their old age, because the home is in their joint names, the daughter is not able to claim a rebate of tax for, maintaining the mother. I ask the Treasurer to review that regulation sympathetically. vA taxpayer who is maintaining a parent is in a different category from a taxpayer who is maintaining a child or an invalid brother or sister. Unless a taxpayer is wholly maintaining a parent, he is not eligible to receive a rebate of tax. In the instance that I have cited, the house is in the joint names of the mother and daughter, and, therefore, the daughter cannot obtain a rebate of tax because, according to the regulations, she is not wholly supporting her mother. To all intents and purposes, she has wholly supported her mother for many years. I ask the Treasurer to make a note of that position with a view to rectifying it. When I raised the matter ‘with the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation for South Australia some months ago, he informed me that it had been determined by the ruling of a committee that had considered it. If that is so, I suggest that the decision of the committee should be reviewed in order that persons in the category that I have mentioned may receive justice.
I return to the subject of the “ genteel rich “, by whom I mean those persons who own a certain amount of property, and, consequently, are not eligible to receive a pension. The present system is wrong. A husband and wife are now permitted to receive the full pension if their income does not exceed £3 a week. Some people buy an annuity of £3 a week, or contribute to a superannuation fund for a pension of a similar amount, on attaining a certain age. They pay their contributions for .that specific purpose, and when they retire from their employment they receive superannuation or an annuity at the rate of £3 a week. A husband and wife, who draw up to that amount, are entitled to receive the full pension of £4 5s. a week, so that their total income is £7 5s. a week. In that way they are rewarded, to some degree, for having made provision for many years to obtain an income of £3 a week from such a source as a superannuation fund. But what is the plight of other persons who, instead of contributing to a superannuation fund, made a humble investment in property? I shall cite an example. A person may have paid a deposit on a house, and have gradually discharged the mortgage over many years. When he retires from his employment, he owns the home in which he lives, and another dwelling that is worth £1,600. The second home will not return him an income of £3 a week. Indeed, he would be fortunate to clear 30s. a week on that investment after having paid rates and taxes, and maintenance costs. But because he owns a second home that is worth £1,600, neither he nor his wife is eligible to receive a pension. I contend that that principle is wrong, and I propose to place before the House certain suggestions for remedying the position. They are not mere suppositions, but are positive ideas that should be carefully considered. The Government should abolish the existing limit of £750 worth of property, and provide for the gradual reduction of the pension, so that it shall disappear at a point at which a person has sufficient money to enable him to provide for his’ needs. That should’ be the approach to this matter.
– Will the honorable member cite an actual case?
– I shall cite a practical case. I do not know whether honorable members fully understand the operation of the means test. Actually there are two, one of which is applicable to income, and the other to capital. I shall deal with the second. The annual rate at which a pension is determined is reduced hy £1 for every complete £10 of that portion of the value of the property of the claimant or pensioner which exceeds £100 but does not exceed £450, and by £2 for every complete £10 of the remainder, if any, of the value of that property. My suggestion envisages the abolition of the property test, as it exists at the present .time, and, after having allowed for the first £100 to be exempt, £1 per annum for each complete £10 to be included in the calculation of income of the claimant or pensioner. In other words, a husband and wife would be permitted to have £3 a week, or £156 a year. My proposal would meet the strong objection that has been made for so long to the disqualification of persons who have £750 worth of property from receiving a pension. First, I suggest that section 22 (g) of the Social Services Consolidation Act, which ‘ provides for a limit on the value of the property that a person may have in order to be eligible for a pension, be deleted. I contend that that limit should be determined by the reductions that would be made for each £10 of the value of property in excess of £100. Secondly, I suggest that section 28 (2.) (fe) be deleted, and the fourth line of section 28 (2.) (a) be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ and £1 for every complete £10 of the value of the property of the claimant or pensioner which exceeds £100. exceeds £78 per annum.”.
I shall give three examples of persons with £700, £1,000 and £1,600 respectively in savings bank accounts on which interest is payable at the rate of 2$ per cent, per annum. I refer to an individual, not to a married couple.
First, I cite the present case of a person with a capital of £700, upon which he receives savings bank interest at the rate of %i per cent. After deducting the £100 allowed as an exemption under the means test, I have calculated the deduction to be £35 at the rate of £1 for each complete £10 of the sum of £350 and to be £50 at the rate of £2 for each complete £10 of the sum of £250, making a total deduction of £85. That amount is deducted from the full annual pension of £110 10s., leaving a balance of £25 10s., which is the amount of pension for which that person is eligible provided that he does not have a separate income in excess of 30s. a week. Under the amendment that I suggest, income at the rate of £1 for each complete £10 of the balance of £600 would amount to £60 and savings bank interest at the rate of 2& per cent, on £700 would amount to £17 10s., making a total income of £77 10s. As that total income would not exceed £78 per annum that person would be eligible to receive the full pension of £110 10s., whereas at present he is eligible to receive a pension of only £25 10s. a year.
The next case I cite is that of a person with a capital of £1,000 who receives savings bank interest at the rate of 2i per cent. After exempting the sum of £100 from the capital amount, income at the rate of £1 for each complete £10 of the balance of £900 would amount to £90 and interest on the capital of £1,000 would amount to £25, making a total income of £115, which would be £37 in excess of the income allowable. Deducting that amount from the full pension of £110 10s., we find that that person would he eligible for a pension of £73 10s. I should classify such a person as one of the “ genteel “ rich. However, to-day, persons in that category ure not eligible for a pension. At the same time, as they fear what the future may hold for them they must economize and cannot afford to spend £2 5s. a week, which is the present rate of pension.
The third case I cite is that of a person who has a capital of £1,600 upon which he receives savings bank interest at the rate of 2 per cent. Of the capital sum, £100 would be exempt and income at the rate of £1 for- each complete £10 of the-balance of £1,500 would amount to £150, whilst the savings bank interest at 2^ per cent, on the capital sum of £1,600 would amount .to £40, making a total, income of £190: After, deducting the income of £78 allowable under the means test, the balance of £113 would exceed the full pension of £110 10s., so therefore that person would not be eligible to receive a pension. The examples that I have given show that the amendments that I suggest are fair and reasonable.
I shall now give three examples of persons who possess house property for letting purposes. First, I shall cite the case of a person who owns a house valued at £700. After exempting “ £100, thi balance of £600 would represent income of £60 at the rate of £1 for each complete £10, whilst the net rent at the rate of £1 a week, which would be a fairly high return for a property of this class, would amount to £52, making a.’ total income of £112. After deducting the allowable income of £78 that person would have an excess income of only £34 which would qualify him to receive a pension of £76 10s.
Next, I cite the case of a married couple with a net income of £65 per annum from house property valued at £1,000. In this instance £500 would be regarded at the property of each person. After deducting the £100, the balance of £400 would represent an income of £40 at the rate of £1 for each £10 whilst half the total net rent would be £32 10s., making a total income for each person of £72 10s. As the income allowable for husband and wife individually would be £78 there would, be no excess income and each would be eligible for the full pension of £110 10s.
The third case I cite is that of a married couple with a net income of £100 from property valued at £1,600. After allowing £800 in respect of each person and after deducting £100 in each case, the balance of £700 would represent an income of £70 at the rate of £1 for each complete £10 whilst half the net income from the property would he £50, making a total income of £120. Taking into account the exemption of £78, that would give an excess income of only £42 and each of those two individuals would be entitled to a pension of £68 10s. The amendments that I have suggested do not go so far as I should really like to go. However, they would be a step in the right direction.
The Treasurer asked me what the Labour governments which I supported had done to provide relief to persons in the categories that I have mentioned. The Chifley Government raised the permissible value of the property of a claimant for pension from £400 to £650 and later from £650 to £750, and, also increased the permissible .income from 12s. 6d. a week to 30s. a week. However, the persons who are suffering most as the result of the present method of applying the means test are those who have been able to purchase a house, or, perhaps, two houses, in addition to the house in which they live. I know of many cases of ordinary working people who, after they had purchased their own home for £400, or £500, provided for their old age by’ saving sufficient to purchase an additional house which to-day would be worth, say, £800 or £900. However, they are not able to qualify for a pension at present although the rent from the additional property would not net, them more than £1 a week. The present method of applying the means test operates unfairly against those persons who have tried to help themselves whereas persons who, in many cases through no fault of their own, have not been able to acquire any property, are entitled to receive a joint pension at the rate of £4 5s. for husband and wife.
T have asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) a series of questions regarding the treatment of ordinary pensioners and the right honorable gentleman has merely replied that the matter will be considered. During the last few weeks I have received letters not only from persons in my electorate but also from persons in the various States as well as from pensioners’ associations. The secretary of a branch association with a membership of nearly 500 pensioners wrote to me and inquired why pensioners had to wait till October next to receive the increase of 5s. or 7s. a week which, he said, had been promised to the pensioners. I was obliged to reply that no such pro- mise had been made, that the Prime Minister himself had informed me that the Government had not yet decided to increase the pension. The Treasurer nods assent to that statement. That is the position. Probably, many of those old people will die before October next. I urge the Government to increase the rate of pension payable to general classes of pensioners. However, in .the limited time at my disposal, I have not dealt with that aspect. Probably, the Treasurer will reply that it is all very well for me and my colleagues to make suggestions of the kind that I have just made, and will claim that the amendments that I have suggested would involve considerable expenditure. As we are now expending approximately £100,000,000 annually for the provision of social services benefits and as that expenditure is estimated to rise considerably next financial year, I can see no reason why persons in the categories that I have mentioned should be completely denied any pension whatsoever. I do not know what additional expenditure would be involved in implementing the suggestions that I have made, but I do not think that it would exceed £3,000,000.
The honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler) said that my colleagues and I never have a good word to say for the primary producers and that we do not realize the losses that they have suffered as a result of floods. During the first year of my married life when I was a dairy farmer my cowshed was flooded on sixteen occasions. I assure the honorable member that my colleagues and I fully appreciate the difficulties that confront the man on the land, and those who are now going on the land, particularly ex-servicemen. I have experienced many droughts and floods. I was forced with my wife and five children to abandon my farm, and my total worldly property amounted to only £5. However, many primary producer? are in a better position to-day than the, ever dreamed they would be in. I take my hat off to the many who are on the land, particularly those who are prepared to face difficulties of the kind that confronted me. In some years I was carting water for my stock until 9 o’clock at night and I had to rise early in the morning to do my ploughing. No honorable member can say that I have cast aspersions on a man on the land.
– The honorable member is an exception to the general rule.
– No. My colleagues also appreciate the difficulties that confront the man on the land. I sincerely trust that honorable members opposite -will not endeavour to make party political capital out of the difficulties that confront primary producers.
– I wish to deal specifically with two matters. The first is the present position of the poultry industry. It would be far from the truth to say that that industry is in a healthy condition. Practically every other important primary industry is now experiencing a great measure of prosperity. I mention, for instance, the wool, wheat, dairying and - to some degree - dried fruits industries. All of them are enjoying a period of prosperity. That happy state of affairs, however, does not exist in the poultry industry, in which production is declining. Many poultry farmers are selling out and those who remain in the industry are in serious difficulties because of increasing costs and a too rigid price scale. Australian consumers complain not only of the high price of eggs but also of the scarcity of supplies. Poultry products have not increased in price to anything like the same degree as have other primary products. In Victoria eggs are now being sold at a price approximately 50 or 60 per cent, above that which prevailed at this time of the year in pre-war years. It is the policy of the Government to encourage the exports of primary products in order to provide overseas funds for the purchase of consumer and capital goods that cannot be manufactured in this country. In spite of the conclusion of a contract with the United Kingdom for the purchase of our surplus eggs, egg production is steadily declining. In Victoria production declined from 38,000,000 dozen in 1948 to 32,000,000 dozen in 1949. This year it is expected to decline by a further 2,000,000 dozen. This serious decline results from the unprofitable price fixed under the contract between Australia and the United
Kingdom. Shortly after the last price review was made the industry estimated review was made the industry estimated that it was losing 4d. a dozen on all eggs sent to the United Kingdom. To-day the loss on export eggs is from 5d. to 6d. a dozen. As all our surplus production is sold in the United Kingdom under the terms of the contract the payment of such a low price results in considerable loss to the Australian industry. Last year 33^ per cent, of the total production of eggs in Victoria was exported. The only way by which the industry can recoup itself for the loss on the export market is by raising the local price. During the export season two-thirds of our egg production is exported and the .local price is low. In the winter months, when production falls, steeply and export ceases, the local price is increased to offset some of the loss that results from the export contract. That the prosperity of the poultry industry is largely dependent on the price obtained overseas from our surplus eggs is realized by the Government which, I believe, is doing everything it possibly can to secure an increase of the contract price. I trust that it will be able to restore prosperity to this important industry, which is struggling to survive. In Victoria no fewer than 20,000 persons are engaged in it, including a great many ex-servicemen. Their future prosperity will depend largely on the price fixed by the contract with the United Kingdom. As honorable members are aware, eggs constitute an important foodstuff in the diet of the people and a shortage of eggs must have an adverse effect on the health of the community. I trust that the Government will do everything possible to arrest the decline of this industry so that the people who now regard eggs as a luxury, may be able to increase their consumption of this vital and desirable food.
Another matter with which I wish to deal is the impact of the present inflationary spiral on certain sections of the population. About 100 years ago Disraeli, in his book Coningsby referred to the two Englands - the England of the rich and the England of the poor. In the present circumstances of inflation we have what
I might describe as the two Australias - the Australia of the sheltered and the Australia of the unsheltered. It is principally about the unsheltered Australians that I propose to say a few words. The sheltered section of our population consists of the wage-earners, public servants, salaried workers, business men and primary producers whose wages, emoluments and profits fluctuate in accordance with variations of the cost of living. In the extraordinary situation in which we now find ourselves they are comparatively well off. One group of the unsheltered section of our population consists of pensioners of all kinds, including age and invalid pensioners, service pensioners, ex-servicemen receiving war pensions and those receiving widow’s pensions, all of whom could, perhaps, be directly assisted by the Government. The second group consists of those whom the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) has termed the “genteel rich” - perhaps not a very happily chosen term- because most of the so-called “ genteel rich “ are not rich, and few of them could be regarded as genteel - who live on annuities, interest on capital, or the proceeds of investments, and who deserve the greatest consideration by the Government.
As I have said, the difficulties of pensioners could be overcome by the Government increasing pension rates. Some years ago, when age and invalid pensions were varied automatically in accordance with fluctuations of the cost-of-living index figure, a great outcry was made for the abandonment of the system of adjusting pensions following a fall in the cost of living. The government of the day was extremely weak and yielded to the demand for the abolition of the provisions in the law for the adjustment of pensions in that way. Since then pensions have not been affected by variations of the cost of living. I have always regarded the abandonment of those provisions as a retrograde step, and I am sure that no one regrets it more than do the pensioners themselves. Had the original provisions of the legislation remained unaltered there would not now be a great clamour for the increase of the rates of pension because they would auto- matically have reflected the increased cost of living.
I have abstracted some figures to show how the value of the age pension has fallen in relation to the basic wage. In October, 1948, when the basic wage was £5 16s., the age pension was 42s. 6d. or 36.64 per cent, of the basic wage. By March, 1950, the basie wage had been increased to £6 13s. by automatic adjustments in accordance with, the cost-of-living index figure, but the pension rate remained at 42s. 6d., or only 31.95 per cent, of the basic wage. However, although the pensioners are unquestionably much worse off than they were in 1948, we must not overlook the fact that in normal pre-war years the pension represented a much lower percentage pf the basic wage. In 1939, for instance, the basic wage was £4 a week, but the pension rate was only 19s. 6d. a week, or 24 per cent, of the basic wage. Only comparatively recently has the pension rate represented as much as 36.64 per cent, of the basic wage. To-day, although the ratio of the pension to the basic wage has fallen, it is still appreciably above what it was in 1939.
– It is not nearly enough.
– I am inclined to agree with the honorable member. I should like it to be increased. The Government is examining the matter and I have no doubt that a suitable adjustment of the pension rate will be made.
The second group of unsheltered Australians to whom I have referred consists of those who are living on annuities, interest on capital saved as a result of thrift throughout their working lives, or the proceeds of investments. Those who fall within that group most urgently need help. They represent some of the best elements in our community. They have always been independent in outlook and they have saved in order to be independent of others in their retirement. Unquestionably -they are now suffering very grave disabilities. Only a few days ago I met a retired churchman who, with his wife, is endeavouring to live on an income of £2 a week that he receives from a life-time’s saving of £3,000. It is obvious that they cannot continue to exist on such a pittance. It may be said that he should sell his capital and live on the proceeds. He, and others like him, hang on from week to week hoping to be able to preserve what they have saved so that they may be able to pa9S it on as a patrimony to their children. People of that kind constitute the best elements in the community. When I think of them my mind goes back to an experience that I had - which I do not think was shared by any other honorable member in this House - when I lived through a period of uncontrolled inflation in Germany, during which the mark, the exchange rate of which was originally 37 to the £1, soared to more than 2,000,000 to the £1. During that period of extraordinary inflation, those who had saved for their future and who constituted some of the best elements in the German community were financially ruined. Some of them starved. That class vanished and then Hitler came to power. We know what happened after that. All that happened in Germany is not likely to happen here, because we have only the beginning of inflation in this country, although that in itself is bad enough. We should make sure that the pensioners . at least do not have to suffer in these times that we are passing through. What we require above all, as ,the Treasurer knows as well as any of us and better than most of us, is to stabilize the cost of living at least.
– What about the revaluation of the £1 ?
– That is one of the many aspects of this matter. Stabilization of the cost of living would not only give relief to pensioners but also lead to a diminution of our industrial troubles, which can be very largely traced to dissatisfaction with rising costs and prices. I hope therefore that the Government will be able to get on with the important task of stabilizing the cost of living. A second equally pressing and important matter is the liberalization of the means test po that some pensioners may enjoy the same rights as other people are enjoying. T believe that the means test could be liberalized, although I know that that step would cause some strain on the treasury. I commend a liberalization of the means test to the Government and the Treasurer. I know that some attention is now being given to it, and that a sub committee has been formed to examine it. I hope that it is being given full and careful attention.
– I shall direct the attention of the House to certain aspects of the development of northern Australia that I consider important. Bearing in mind the troubled, uncertain conditions that exist in the world to-day, and especially the rumbling discontent that is apparent to our north, we should face, and take stock of our position, and then consider the future of northern Australia in relation to the rest of this continent, in terms of both defence and economy. Successive governments in the past have followed the policy of developing the most fertile and most readily accessible parts of Australia. That policy would be excusable and justifiable if there were no war on earth. Governments have apparently not realized that northern Australia must be developed and populated for the sake of our security. When I say security I do not mean only the security of defence that a populated north would provide, but also the security of a more balanced economy. We all know that past governments failed to realize the disastrous effects that their lack of vision would have on the rest of Australia in the event of the occurrence of a war such as we have passed through during the last decade.
Australia’s history reveals that governments have invariably adopted the line of least .resistance. That course of action almost resulted in the loss of Australia in the last war. Had Australia then been lost the white races of the world would, have found themselves without a haven in the Pacific area. For that reason alone it is our duty to preserve and develop Australia. We can no longer rely on our isolation as a means of defence, because the last war finally disposed of that fallacy. We have to look to ourselves for our own defence. I realize only too well that unpleasant memories have a tendency to fade with the passage of time. Nowadays we have forgotten the terror that was in everybody’s mind in 1942 and 1943, when the very fate of Australia hung in the balance. In those years the Japanese armies were relentlessly pushing southward.?., and it seemed that nothing could prevent their progress. The Japanese spearheads reached within 400 miles of Darwin when they took Timor, and the Japanese navy was unchallenged in the area to our north because of a series of victories that it had gained. We now accept as a commonplace the fact that in 1942 the Japanese bombed Darwin for the first time and brought the war right into Australia. That was the first occasion on which Australia had suffered a direct attack from an enemy. Final figures reveal that 250 men and women were killed and over 400 were injured on that occasion. I shall quote portion of an article written by Douglas Lockwood in the Melbourne Herald on the 18th February, 1947, about that attack. He wrote -
That summer morning, five years ago, men and women were killed for the first time on Australian soil, by an enemy who regarded us, we know, as the plum of the Pacific. It looked as though the enemy who had long been casting covetous eyes in our direction was now knocking on the door.
The battle of the Coral Sea, that grim and fluctuating naval battle, which eventually resulted in the crippling of the Japanese fleet and which finally removed the threat of the invasion of Australia, was fought within 500 mile’s of our shores. The Japanese had long been casting covetous eyes in our direction and. it was only the weakness of our north that encouraged them to adopt aggression. Nobody will deny that had it not been for the assistance of our allies the Japanese would have succeeded in their designs on Australia. We should now look to our defences and learn from the lessons of the past. No honorable member will suggest that we have unlimited time at our disposal to rectify the present position.
I do not have to remind honorable members of the unsettled state of affairs in Asia and in the islands to the north of us. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) has issued statement after statement expressing the Government’s concern and uneasiness about the situation in those parts of the world, as well as its uneasiness regarding the conclusion of a peace treaty with Japan. I know that Australians will always regard Japan with a degree of suspicion. I, for one, treat with some reserve Japan’s claim to a change of heart. I cannot forget that while Japanese envoys were in America discussing peace in the Pacific Japan made its attacks on British and American possessions in that very area. Australia must realize from past experience that Japan is not a nation given to making hasty decisions. I know that for years before the last war in the Pacific became imminent Japan had its spies out working in the guise of such innocent occupations as pearling and fishing, for the purpose of charting Australia’s Northern Territory and so laying the foundations of a plan that would go into operation when it was prepared to attack. We found out to our sorrow later that Japan knew more about our northern coastline than we knew ourselves. When I hear that those same Japanese have changed overnight from a treacherous and cunning people to a gentle and democratic people who are content to conform to ordinary civilized standards, I just do not believe it. I am apprehensive about what may happen in, say, twenty years, if we accept the word of Japan in that respect. Do not honorable members agree that, in the face of the statements that have been made by the Minister for External Affairs and in the light of our experience, it is right that we should proceed very smartly with developing and populating northern Australia? I know that the task of developing the huge area of northern Australia will impose a considerable strain upon a country of 8,000,000 people. I do not wish to minimize the magnitude of that task, but the fact remains that northern Australia has considerable potentialities that must be exploited to their utmost in the shortest possible time.
So that honorable members may realize the seriousness of the position I shall give an outline of the position in northern Australia as far as population is concerned. If Australia were divided by a line starting at Rockhampton in Queensland and running to Longreach, then south to the border of South Australia and the Northern Territory, and thence west to the Western Australian coast, it would be divided roughly into two equal parts. The northern part would contain an area of approximately 1,500,000 square miles. I realize that that huge area includes large tracts of land that could not be brought into production by any means that we have at our disposal to-day, but it is still possible that it could contain much valuable mineral wealth. It also contains large areas of country that could be put into production and thus contribute to the economy of Australia as a whole. The population north of the line that I have described is, as nearly as I can ascertain, as follows : within Queensland, approximately 265,000, of whom 190,000 are located on the coast and 75,000 inland; within Western Australia, in an area that comprises approximately half the total area of that State, 5,000; within the Northern Territory, approximately 14,000. The total population of the whole area is therefore about 284,000.
– Does the honorable member refer to white population only?
– Yes. That total population is about the same number as the population of Perth, which is the second smallest State capital in Australia. The position becomes even more alarming still when we realize that on the coastline that stretches 5,000 miles from north of Cairns round the north of the continent to Geraldton in Western Australia, there is a population of only 16,000. Yet that coastline is vital to the defence of Australia. Can it be a cause for wonder that Japan had its eyes turned in our direction? There are fewer people scattered along that 5,000 miles of coastline than there are in Canberra.
Not many natural ports along the north coast of Australia are situated in positions that would enable them to be developed as great ports. I admit that unfortunate fact, but I shall not admit that there are not some ports capable of being developed. A prerequisite of the development of ports is the development of the hinterland behind them, because it is entirely dependent upon the maintenance of a volume of trade inland. The production and present resources of the inland areas of the north consist chiefly of pastoral, agricultural and mineral products. Let me touch briefly on these matters in passing. The beef herds of the Northern
Territory are the third largest in Australia to-day. The aggregate beef herd there is larger than that of Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, or Tasmania and it is still capable of considerable expansion. Sheep have been bred and run in the Northern Territory for years. Given the assistance necessary for the establishment of the pig industry, pigs also could he an asset to the area.
– Has the honorable member any information concerning the Cape York Peninsula ?
– No. I am not familiar with the peninsula. I am referring only to the Northern Territory.
An article published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 15th June dealing with the possibility of growing rice in the Northern Territory read as follows: -
A recent investigation showed huge areas of the Northern Territory and theKimberleys were suitable for growing rice, Mr. Douglas Taylor said yesterday.
Mr. Taylor is secretary of the Rice Association.
He said the Rice Association and the Rice Equalization Association submitted a report on the rice-growing potentialities of Northern Australia to the Federal Government on Tuesday.
Mr. W. Poggendorff, chief of the Division of Plant Industry of the New South Wales Department of Agriculture, prepared the report.
He added : “ The report enables us to envisage vast ricefields in the Northern Territory and the Kimberleys area. “ Mr. Poggendorff’s survey covered a huge area along the rivers. “ The potential ricefields are near Darwin, Wyndham, and Derby. “ Mr. Poggendorff has declared that, in his opinion, the normal rainfall and seasonal flooding of the areas would provide sufficient water for rice culture, and that other methods of irrigation would be unnecessary. “This is a vital factor; hitherto it was understood that rice could not be successfully cultivated in these areas without a £20,000,000 dam.”
Mr. Taylor said modern techniques would be necessary to develop the northern ricefields.
Aerial sowing of seed.
Aerial distribution of fertilizers, insecticides, and weed killers.
As soon as 10,000 acres were under cultivation a rice mill would be built, Mr. Taylor said.
Marketing authorities predicted the world rice shortage would continue for “ another 25 years.” “It is likely that rice can do for the Northern Territory what sugar cane has done for Queensland,” Mr Taylor said. “ The development of these ricefields can lie regarded not only as a commercial venture but also as a defence measure. “The region directly faces the East Indies and southern Asia.”
Tobacco, cotton, sorghum and peanuts have been successfully grown commercially in the Northern Territory and their greater production would also be beneficial. The territory has gold-fields at Tenn ant’s Creek and in other areas that are in course of development. The territory’s mica fields are as extensive as any in the world and they supply 98 per cent. of Australia’s requirements. Other minerals such as copper, tin and tantalite wolfram also are being produced, and a geophysical survey of the entire area is essential. Although something has been done in this respect I think that those activities must be increased.
The war made the Government realize the necessity for action in the north and plans were drawn up for its short and long term development. In 1945 a committee known as the. North Australia Development Committee was set up in order to carry out investigations and planning. This committee consisted of representatives of the Australian Government and the Governments of Queensland andWestern Australia to investigate the approximate areas of which I have just spoken in respect of population and submitted certain plans and recommendations. I do not know that it has yet completed its work. If it has, it would be interesting to know what its final recommendations were.
I consider that a special ministry should be set up to handle the problems of the Northern Territory. Nothing less than that can achieve the co-ordinated effort that this job requires. The Northern Territory should no longer he considered as an area that needs administration only by a part of a department. The attention of one Minister should be concentrated solely upon it. In an article written for the Melbourne Herald on the 18th August, 1947, the
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) said -
There is no reason why the Northern Territory should not at this moment be on the thresholdof marked industrial development and absorption of a good deal more population. This is my opinion on returning from some thousands of miles of travel around the territory. But there are certain pre-requisites. The first, is a Commonwealth Minister for the Northern Territory, so that decisions at Canberra can be made by people who are not also loaded with a multitude of other duties.
The honorable gentleman made certain other valuable suggestions with which I shall deal at another time. At one time he was Minister for the Interior, and if he does not know what he is talking about I do not know who does. Incidentally, in making that statement I do not intend to cast any reflection on the present Minister for the Interior (Mr. McBride).
The previous Government, recognizing that some alteration of the existing system of administration was necessary, established a directorate of Northern Territory affairs and placed it in control of a section of the Department of the Interior with considerable benefit to the north. The result has been increased efficiency in the handling of many of the matters that concern that area. But the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture said that in 1947, and the argument holds good to-day that nothing short of direct representation in the Cabinet will provide a firm foundation for the administration of the territory. The Government will have to apply itself to this task. Financial problems have to he overcome. Shipping will have to he provided, roads constructed, water conservation schemes implemented and agricultural activities assisted. Light and power plants will have to be erected and mineral surveys completed. Houses will have to be constructed in order to provide the people of the north with accommodation comparable with that enjoyed by the people of the south. I am sure that if the Government demonstrates its willingness to provide the fundamentals of development private enterprise will be only too pleased to assist. If the Government adopts a sympathetic attitude it will find that the pioneering spirit is far from dead in this country.’ I agree with the statement that was made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) when speaking on the Government’s policy in relation to external territories. Dealing with the financial aspect of the development of Papua and New Guinea the honorable gentleman said -
Many other items necessary for the reconstruction and development of the Territory will involve expenditure on a profitable scale. Expenditure of that magnitude is clearly beyond normal budgetary provision and the question of obtaining at least a substantial portion of the necessary funds by way of loan must accordingly be explored.
The Government used during the last war the method of finance to which the Minister referred in that statement, and by its use raised £562,000,000 in the financial year 1942-43. A colossal amount of money was used to finance the last war and the people of Australia who were prepared to sanction that expenditure in order to win the war would be quite prepared to sanction the expenditure of a fraction of it for the prevention of another war. The Government now has the opportunity to prove that the Northern Teritory is not a liability, and, in the process of providing that proof, it can make Australia a better and a safer place to dive in.
.- In view of the important and serious matter.s with which the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) has dealt, my remarks on the subject with which I intend to speak may be regarded as being in a somewhat lighter vein. At the same time, the subject is one of universal interest and it has a particular appeal for Australians because it concerns the 1952 Olympic Games. Probably sport makes a greater appeal to all members of the community than does any other subject. Even though honorable members of this House may disagree on most other subjects they can converse amicably and quite reasonably on the various sport,;: that they follow each week-end.
In order to emphasize my point 1 should like to recount the Australian performances at the Olympic Games of 1948. The Austraiian team that went to England won two first prizes, Wood and Winter winning the sculling and the high jumping respectively. Six members of the team came second in their events and five came third. Australia was placed in 69 heats and competed in 27 semifinals and 21 finals. The performances of our athletes were so outstanding that they were invited to other countries after the conclusion of the games. They won seven overseas .championships, the King’s prize and the diamond sculls, and established twelve records in the various countries that they visited.
The value to Australia of the Olympic Games can be correctly estimated only if one has some idea of the prestige which participation in them confers. The J. Arthur Rank film organization made an outstanding film, The Glory of Sport, which was screened in 26 countries. Commentaries on the events at. the last Olympic Games were broadcast to 26 countries. Eight hundred journalists were sent by their newspapers to report them. Also in attendance were radio commentators, and many hundreds of free-lance journalists. It has been, estimated that 20,000 newspapers were represented at those games. It can be conservatively estimated that 1,000,000 inches of newspaper space was devoted to reporting the appearances, wins, placings and other features of Australia’s participation in the different events. That tremendous volume of advertising of Australia was spread throughout the world. Conservatively estimated on current advertising rates that amount of advertising received by Australia was worth £1,000,000. I submit that that was advertising of no mean order.
At present we are midway in time between the 1948 Olympic Games and the 1952 Olympic Games, which are to be held at Helsinki. It is essential that we should commence now to plan for successful participation in the games, which, perhaps, seem far off at present, but are actually very close because of the vast amount of work that has yet to be done. It is essential that Australia should be adequately represented at the highest standard, because in 1956 the Olympic Games will be held in Melbourne and competitors at Helsinki must be impressed by our standards. Preparation for the Helsinki Games will be invaluable experience for Australias because upon our shoulders will fall the responsibility for the whole of the 1956 games. In 1956 athletes and experienced officials from all over the world will arrive in Melbourne, upon which world attention will be focused for the time being. It will be filled with journalists and broadcasting teams, and Australia’s prestige will suffer if the games are not carried out according to the highest traditions of sport.
Our competitors and officials should be at Helsinki weeks earlier than they arrived in other countries for previous Olympic Games. After the recent games we saw the spectacle of our athletes, upon their visits to other countries, performing far better than they had done at the games. That is because they did not have sufficient time in England in which to reach top form before competing. Therefore, facilities should be made available for our athletes to get to Helsinki earlier than they have arrived for previous overseas games.
The matter has been given much thought because the 1956 games will be held in Melbourne, but finance naturally overshadows all other considerations. It is impossible to have the job done properly if sufficient money is unavailable. The Olympic Council has set a target of £100,000, and is working towards that end. An enormous amount of effort, organization and administration must be put into the work in order to raise that large sum of money. If our team flies to Helsinki and returns by ship the total cost of the fares of the 140 members will be between £60,000 and £70,000. That item alone will take a very large proportion of the £100,000 that is to be raised. In spite of the widespread interest in the games throughout Australia, the £100,000 will be very difficult to obtain. Although the time occupied in covering the distance between countries has been lessened by air transport and fast sea transport between Australia and Europe it is still very great, and that means that Australians must make a special effort to keep themselves and their country before the public of those other lands. Because of the tremendous volume of advertising that our athletes get at the Olympic Games the job of keeping
Australia’s interests before the world in other ways is lessened considerably. Therefore, the people participating in the Olympic Games are doing a tremendous service to this nation, and Australia should recognize the value of it.
On the continent, and in England, governments recognize the great value of national participation in the Olympic Games. After the last Olympic Games special ceremonies were held by the French Government to welcome home its athletes. Because of the great interest aroused in other countries by the Australian athletes, success in the games can have a vital influence on immigration to Australia, and thus an interest in Australia can be developed in other peoples which would he very costly to get otherwise. The prestige of this country on the field of sport, and the bearing of its sporting men and women, are very impressive to the people of other nations. The disturbing moral outlook developed by the recent war can be considerably tempered by paying more attention to good clean healthy success in sport. The games also set the standard for national fitness and have a profound effect upon the younger generation. I realize that a grant of £100,000 has been made for our national fitness campaign, and that nothing could be more deserving than that cause. However, the thing that will direct attention to the necessity for national fitness is success at the games. In the News and Information Bureau, department of the Interior, skilled journalists are constantly endeavouring to find interesting and outstanding matter about Australia to stimulate overseas knowledge pf this country. In the games there is a ready-made opportunity to do far more in a, much shorter time than can be done by government instrumentalities. As a business proposition the advertisement that Australia gets from success in the Olympic Games is far cheaper and gets better results than do some of the more orthodox government methods.
The games occur only every four years and this Government should assist Australia’s representatives. I hope that the Government will- help the Olympic fund to the amount of at ‘least £30,000. That should be done because of the international effect of Australian participation at Helsinki, and later the international effect of the Olympic Games being held in this country. There is no international gathering at which so many nationalities come into such close contact as in the Olympic Games. No international affairs have been conducted with less trouble and with less irritation between the participants than have the Olympic Games, with the exception of one or two small incidents which have been magnified out of all proportion to their importance. There is nobetter way of making a contribution towards international understanding than through participation in the Olympic Games. To show our appreciation of the value of the games to Australia we should give, not just before the games, but now, a representative sum of £30,000. I commend to the House the allocation of some sum of money towards meeting the cost of our participation in the Helsinki Games, and I suggest that the allocation he made as early as possible so that our competitors will know that the Government is backing them.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Chambers) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.44 to 8 p.m.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Clause 3 - (l.) In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ authorizedperson “ means apeace officer appointed under the Peace Officers Act 1925 or a person declared by the Attorney-General to be an authorized person for the purposes of this Act; “ the appropriate court “ means -
in relation to an application by a body of persons - the High
Court, the Supreme Court of the State or Territory (being a Territory forming part of the Commonwealth) in which the principal office of the body is situated or the Supreme Court of a State or Territory (being a Territory forming part of the Commonwealth) in which a majority of members of the body are resident; and (3.) For the purposes of this Act, an application to a court which is discontinued or withdrawn shall be deemed to be dismissed.
Senate’s Amendment No. 1. - In the definition of “ authorized person “ leave out “ a peace officer appointed under the Peace Officers Act 1925 or”.
Senate’s Amendment No. 2. - In the definition of “ the appropriate court “ leave out “ majority insert “ substantial number “.
Senate’s Amendment No. 3. - In sub-clause (3.) after “application”, insert “or appeal”.
Clause 5 - (2.) Where the Governor-General is satisfied that a body of persons is a body of persons to which this section applies and that the continued existence of that body of persons would be prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth or to the execution or maintenance of the Constitution or of the laws of the Commonwealth, the GovernorGeneral may, by instrument published in the Gazette, declare that body of persons to be an unlawful association. (3.) A body of persons so declared to be an unlawful association may, within twentyeight days after the publication of the declaration in the Gazette,apply to the appropriate court to set aside the declaration, on the ground that the body is not a body to which this section applies.
Senate’s Amendment No. 4. - After subclause (2.), insert the following sub-clause: - “ (2a.) The Executive Council shall not advise the Governor-General to make a declaration under the last preceding subsection unless the material upon which the advice is founded has first been considered by a committee consisting of the Solicitor-‘ General, the Secretary to the Department of Defence, the Director -General of Security, and two other persons appointed by the Governor-General . “.
Senate’s Amendment No. 5. - In sub-clause (3.), leave out “so declared to be an unlawful association “, insert “ declared to be an unlawful association under sub-section (2.) of this section “.
Senate’s Amendment No. 6. - In sub-clause (3.), leave out “, on the ground that the body is not a body to which this section applies “.
Senate’s Amendment No. 7. - Leave out subclauses (4.), (5.) and (6.), insert the following sub-clauses: - “ (4.) If, upon the hearing, the Commonwealth satisfies the court -
Clause 6 (Unlawful associations to be dissolved) -
Senate’s Amendment No. 8. - Leave out subclause (2.), insert the following sub-clause: - “ (2.) Where the body applies to a court to set aside the declaration, the body shall not be dissolved where the final result of the proceedings (including any appeal) is the setting aside of the declaration, or before the time specified in this sub-section, and the time of dissolution of a body which has made such an application but which does not succeed in having the declaration finally set aside shall be-
where the application is dismissed but the body does not, within a period of twenty-one days after the dismissal, appeal against the dismissal in accordance with the last preceding section - the expiration of that period ; and
where an appeal under sub-section (6.) of the last preceding section by either party is decided against the body - the day on which the appeal is decided.”.
Clause7 - ( 1. ) A person shall not knowingly - (2.) Nothing in this section prohibits an officer or a member of an unlawful association from performing any act on its behalf which is reasonably necessary for the purposes of an application by the unlawful association to the appropriate court under section five of this Act.
Senate’s Amendment No. 9. - After sub- clause (1.), insert the following sub-clause: - “ (1a.) A person shall not, after the dissolution of an organization or a body of persons by this Act, knowingly -
Penalty: Imprisonment for five years.”.
Senate’s Amendment No. 10. - In sub-clause (2.), leave out “by the unlawful association to the appropriate court “, insert “ or appeal by the unlawful association “.
Clause 8 - (3.) If the appropriate court sets aside the declaration, all sales or dispositions of property, payments made and acts done by the receiver (or by a person acting under his authority) shall be valid but the property of the body shall revert to the body for its estate or interest therein on such terms and subject to such conditions, if any, as the court orders.
Senate’s Amendment No. 11. - Leave out subclause (3.), insert the following sub-clause: - “ (3.) If-
Clause 9 - (1.) This section applies to any person -
who was, at any time after the specified date and before the date upon which an unlawful association is dissolved by this Act, a member or officer of that unlawful association; or (3.) A person in respect of whom a declaration is made under the last preceding subsection may, within twenty-eight days after the publication of the declaration in the Gazette, apply to the appropriate court to set aside the declaration on the ground that he is not a person to whom this section applies. (4.) Upon the hearing of the application, the declaration made by the Governor-General under sub-section (2.) of this section shall, in so far as it declares that the applicant is a person to whom this section applies, be prima facie evidence that the applicant is such a person. (5.) If, upon the hearing, the court finds that’ the applicant is not a person to whom this section applies, the court shall set aside the declaration. (6.) If the court does not so find the court shall dismiss the application and the declaration shall remain in force.
Senate’s Amendment No. 12. - In sub-clause (1.), leave out paragraph (a), insert the following paragraph: - ” (a) who was, at any time after the specified date and before the date upon which the Australian Communist Party is dissolved by this Act, a member or officer of the Australian Communist Party; or”.
Senate’s Amendment No. 13. - After subclause (2.), insert the following sub-clause: - “ (2a.) The Executive Council shall not advise the Governor-General to make a declaration under the last preceding subsection unless the material upon which the advice is founded has first been considered by a committee consisting of the SolicitorGeneral, the Secretary to the Department of Defence, the Director-General of Security, and two other persons appointed by the GovernorGeneral.”.
Senate’s Amendment No. 14. - In sub-clause (3.), leave out “the last preceding subsection”, insert “sub-section (2.) of this section “.
Senate’s Amendment No. 15. - In sub-clause (3.), leave out “on the ground that he is not a person to whom this section applies “.
Senate’s Amendment No. 16. - Leave out sub-clauses (4.), (5.) and (6.), insert the following sub-clauses: - “ (4.) If, upon the hearing, the Commonwealth satisfies the court -
that the applicant is a person to whom this section applies; and
that the applicant is engaged, or is likely to engage, in activities prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth or to the execution or maintenance of the Constitution or of the laws of the Commonwealth, the court shall dismiss the application and the declaration shall, subject to this section, remain in force. “ (5.) If the Commonwealth does not so satisfy the court, the court shall set aside the declaration. “ (6.) The applicant or the Commonwealth, as the case may be, may, within twenty-one days after the decision of a court under subsection (4.) or (5.) of this section, appeal against the decision -
where the application was made to the Supreme Court of a State - to the Full Court of that Supreme Court; or
where the application was made to the High Court or to the Supreme Court of a Territory of the Commonwealth - to the Full Court of the High Court, and the decision of the court on the appeal shall be final and conclusive. “ (6a.) Where a declaration under this section is set aside by a court (including a Full Court upon appeal from a single Justice or Judge) or the setting aside of such a declaration is confirmed by a court, the court, in its decision -
shall order the Commonwealth to pay to the applicant the costs of the application and of any appeal; and
may order the Commonwealth to pay to the declared person such sum by way of compensation as the court thinks just in all the circumstances. “ (6b. ) Where a declaration is in force under this section in respect of a person and the procedure provided by the preceding provisions of this section for the setting aside of the declaration is no longer available (whether or not that person made an application under those provisions), that person may, subject to this section, at any time apply to -
the Full Court of the Supreme Court of the State or Territory of the Commonwealth in which the applicant resides; or
the Full Court of the High Court, for leave to apply to have the declaration revoked. “ (Co.) Where upon such an application, thecourt grants leave, the court shall direct whether the application for revocation of the declaration is to be heard -
by the court constituted by a single “Justice or Judge; or
by the Full Court. “ (6D.) The court so constituted, or the Full Court, as the case may be, may hear and determine the application for revocation of the declaration and revoke the declaration or refuse the application, as it thinks just, and its decision shall not be subject to appeal. “(6e.) A declaration which is revoked under the last preceding sub-section shall cease to have effect upon the day upon which the order of the Court revoking the declaration is made.”.
Clause 11 - (3.) If an application is made to the appropriate court to set aside the declaration, the suspension effected by sub-section (1.) of this section shall continue until the making of an order by the court upon the application. (4.) If the court sets aside the declaration, the suspension of the person concerned shall cease, but, if the court dismisses the application, the office held by that person shall, by force of this Act, become vacant, or that person shall cease to be so employed, as the case may be, upon the day upon which the court dismisses the application.
Senate’s Amendment No. 17. - Leave out subclauses (3.) and (4.), insert the following subclauses: - “ (3.) If an application is made to the appropriate court to set aside the declaration, the suspension effected by sub-section (1.) of this section shall continue until the application has been decided and shall further continue until the day - upon which any appeal against the decision is decided or, if no such appeal is duly instituted, until the last day on which any such appeal could have been instituted. “ (4.) On the day immediately following the day until which the suspension continues under the last preceding sub-section -
The receiver of an unlawful association may direct that any disposition of property of the association within one year before the date upon which the association was dissolved shall be void as against the receiver and the disposition shall be so void accordingly but nothing in this section affects the rights of a purchaser, payee or encumbrancee in good faith and for valuable consideration.
Senate’s Amendment No. 18. - At the end of the clause add the following words: - “or the rights of a person making title in good faith and for valuable consideration through or undera person who is not a purchaser, payee or encumbrancee in good faith and for valuable consideration.”.
New clause -
Senate’s Amendment No. 19. - After clause 18, insert the following new clause: - “ 18a. A payment of money or delivery of a security or a negotiable instrument made to or by the order or direction of an unlawful association by its banker in good faith before the date upon which the association was dissolved, or so made after that date without negligence on the part of the banker, shall be valid against the receiver of the unlawful association.”.
Clause 22- (2.) The Supreme Court of each State is hereby invested with federal jurisdiction, and jurisdiction is hereby conferred on the Supreme Court of each Territory (being a Territory forming part of the Commonwealth), to hear and determine any application made to it under section five or nine of this Act. (3.) The jurisdiction of the High Court or of a Supreme Court in relation to an application under section five, nine or sixteen of th is Act shall be exercised by a single Justice or Judge and the decision of that Justice or Judge shall be final and conclusive.
Senate’s Amendment No. 20. - In sub-clause (2.), after “application”, insert “or appeal “.
Senate’s Amendment No. 21. - In sub-clause (3.) leave out “and the decision of that Justice or Judge shall be final and conclusive “, insert “, whose decision shallbe subject to appeal in accordance with this Act “.
Senate’s Amendment No. 22. - At the end of the clause add the following sub-clause: - “ (5.) For the purposes of this Act, ‘ the Full Court’, in relation to the Supreme Court of a State, means that Supreme Court constituted by such number of Judges as is required for the hearing of criminal appeal s under the law of the State.”.
Clause 24 - (3.) Proof in any proceedings under this Act that the name, initials or other means of identification of a person appear -
on a document which was kept or found -
at any office or premises of an unlawful association or of a branch of an unlawful association, or at any office or premises under the control of a member or officer of an unlawful association; or
in the custody of a member or officer of an unlawful association,
on a list, roll or other record which was kept or found -
at any office or premises of an unlawful association, or of a branch of an un- lawful association, or at any office or premises under the control of a member or officer of an unlawful association ; or
in the custody of a member or officer of an unlawful association,
Senate’s Amendment No. 23. - In sub-clause (3.), paragraph (a) (i), leave out “or” (second occurring).
Senate’s Amendment No. 24. - In sub-clause (3.), after sub-paragraph (ii) of paragraph (a), insert the following sub-paragraph: - “: or (iia) at some other place, or in the custody of some other person, in such circumstances that the court is satisfied that the document is a document prepared or used for the purposes of an unlawful association or for the purposes of a branch of an unlawful association,”.
Senate’s Amendment No. 25. - In sub-clause (3.), paragraph (6) (i), leave out “or” (second occurring).
Senate’s Amendment No. 26. - After subpa ragraph (ii) of paragraph (6) of sub-clause (3.) insert the following sub-paragraph: - “ : or (iii) at some other place, or in the custody of some other person, in such circumstances that the court is satisfied that the list, roll or record is a list, roll or record prepared or used for the purposes of an unlawful association or for the purposes of a branch of an unlawful association,”.
Senate’s Amendment No. 27. - At the end of the clause add the following sub-clauses: - “ (4.) Where, in any proceedings under this Act, it is sought toprove that a person was the author of any printed matter, the fact that the name of that person appears upon that printed matter as the author of that printed matter shall be prima facie evidence that that person was the author of that printed matter. “ (5.) Where, in any proceedings under this Act, it is sought to prove that any printed matter was printed or published by a person or body of persons, the fact that the name of that person or body of persons appears upon that printed matter as the printer or publisher of that printed matter shall be prima facie evidence that that person or body of persons was the printer or publisher of that printed matter. “ (6.) For the purposes of this section -
any reference to an unlawful association includes a reference to a body of persons before itbecame an unlawful association under this Act;
) any reference to the name of a person includes a reference to the surname of that person together with any of his Christian names, or together with the initial or initials of all or any of his Christian names; and
any reference to printed matter includes a reference to words represented or reproduced in any visible form.”.
New clause -
Senate’s Amendment No. 28. - After clause 24, insert the following new clause: - “24a. - (1.) In an application under subsection (3.) of section five, or under sub-section (3.) of section nine, of this Act, the applicant shall have the right to elect to have the application tried by jury. “ (2.) Where an applicant so elects, the application shall be heard and determined, as nearly as possible, as if it were a trial on indictment for an offence against a law of the Commonwealth, committed within the State or Territory of the Commonwealth in which the application is heard.”.
New clause -
Senate’s Amendment No. 20. - After clause 25, add the following new clause: - “ 20. Where the Governor-General is satisfied that the continuance in operation of this Act is no longer necessary either for the security and defence of Australia or for the execution and maintenance of the Constitution and of the laws of the Commonwealth, the Governor-General shall make a Proclamation accordingly and thereupon this Act shall be deemed to have been repealed.”.
– Wehave received from the Senate a series of 29 amendments to the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. I think that it might be convenient if we were to group those amendments, and therefore I propose, first, that the committee take No. 16, which is an amendment to clause 9 and which raises four or five very important controversial issues, including those of the onus of proof, the area of the appeal, the problem of a further appeal to a full court and the problem of compensation in the event of a declaration failing.
Secondly, I propose that the committee deal with amendment No. 7, which relates to the same matters in connexion with a body of persons - not actually the Communist party, but some alternative body.
Thirdly, I propose that the committee consider amendment No. 28, which deals with the proposal by the Senate that the trial of an appeal shallbe. conducted before a jury. After that. I suggest, the committee should consider amendments Nos. 2, 3, 6, 8, 10, 11, 15, 17, 20, 21 and 22. The Government proposes to move that those amendments be disagreed to. Finally, the committee could consider amendments Nos. 1, 4, 5, 9, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 29 together. The Government proposes that those amendments be agreed to. All except one were tendered by the Government in the Senate. I remind the committee that the bill has been declared an urgent measure, and I propose to deal with it on that footing. Therefore,I have asked the committee to consider the Senate’s amendments in a certain logical order that will facilitate discussion. I move -
That the amendments be disposed of in the following order: -
No. 16 separately,
No. 7 separately, and
No. 28 separately;
Nos. 2, 3, 6, 8, 10, 11, 15, 17, 20, 21, 22 together; and
Nos. 1, 4, 5, 9, 12. 13, 14, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29 together.
.- The proposal made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) requires the consent of the. committee because we are not dealing with the allotment of time at present, either individually or in the aggregate. I agree that the committee could deal with the Senate’s amendment No. 16 separately. As the Prime Minister has stated, that amendment relates to a number of very important issues that concern the declaration of individuals. The committee could then deal with the Senate’s amendment No. 7, which relates to a number of the same important issues in connexion with organizations. That procedure would clear the ground for a satisfactory discussion. Amendment No. 16 involves the question whether, after a declaration, a declared person shall be able to appeal against the declaration. It also deals with the burden of proving the allegations against that individual, the right of appeal, the possibility of the court awarding compensation in the event of a successful appeal by a person who has automatically lost his position as the result of a declaration, and several other matters. Amendment No. 7 covers somewhat the same ground in relation to organizations. Amendment No. 28 relates to the mode of trial and to the question whether a declared individual shall have the right to elect to have the issue tried, not by a judge alone, but by a judge sitting with a jury. The procedure of considering those three amendments in that order would be satisfactory. However, the proposal made by the Prime Minister for the grouping of the remainder of the Senate’s amendments involves difficulties. I do not consider that the fact that the Government is in favour of one group and is opposed to the other group makes it convenient to arrange them in that way for the purposes of the committee. I suggest to the Prime Minister that the committee consider the Senate’s amendments Nos. 16, 7 and 28, separately in that order and then consider the remainder in their proper sequence. Many of the amendments will be agreed to on the voices, and that will enable the committee to handle them in the most satisfactory way if the time allotted for their consideration is to be limited. Do you rule, Mr. Chairman, that the decision given by the House on the 10 th May, before the bill was transmitted to the Senate, governs the committee now?
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Adermann).That question has not arisen.
– No; but the Prime Minister has indicated that he intends to rely upon the earlier declaration. I should have thought that that declaration would not be applicable to the present situation, when the bill has been returned from the Senate. I agree that the proposal to consider the Senate’s amendments Nos. 16, 7 and 28 separately and in that order is fair and convenient, but I have suggested that the other amendments should be dealt with individually in their numerical sequence instead of in two large groups.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Allotment of Time.
– Believing as I do that the declaration of urgency to which the House agreed previously is still operative, I move -
That the times allotted for the consideration of the amendments be as follows: -
For No. 16, until 9.15 p.m. this day.
For No. 7, until 10 p.m. this day.
For No. 28, until 10.30 p.m. this day.
For Nos. 2, 3, 6, 8, 10, 11, 15, 17, 20, 21, 22, until 10.50 p.m. this day.
For Nos. 1, 4, 5, 9, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29, until 11 p.m. this day.
Although this procedure appears to be extremely complicated, it is not complicated in fact. All the matters that are the subjects of the various amendments, except one, have already occupied the attention of the House and of this committee for a considerable time. They possess no novelty. They involve certain issues that have been thrashed out already in this chamber and in the Senate. The time for prolonged argument has passed. The time for action has come.
– I rise to order. I submit that, under Standing Order 93, the decision made by the House, as long ago as the 10th May, to declare the bill an urgent measure does not apply to the present situation. On that occasion, we agreed to an allotment of time covering all stages of the bill that then remained. The bill might never have returned from the Senate, except in a formal way. I submit that the procedure for the limitation of debate that was adopted on the 10th May has no relation to the situation that arises after the Senate has made certain amendments and returned the bill to the House of Representatives. That procedure must be invoked again and the bill declared an urgent measure once more. Therefore, I contend that the motion is out of order as it was not preceded by a declaration of urgency.
– The House has declared that the bill is an urgent measure, and the Standing Orders provide that times may be allotted for any stage of the bill. I regard the consideration of the Senate’s amendments as being a stage of the bill, and I rule that the motion for the allotment of time is in order.
.- Then I hand in to you, in writing, an objection to your ruling, and move -
That the ruling be dissented from.
As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has foreshadowed a drastic rationing of time for the discussion of the Senate’s amendments, I propose to be as brief as possible in discussing -this motion. I submit- that the ruling is clearly wrong and does not apply to a situation such as now exists. Standing Order 93, which relates to the limitation of debate, provides power in certain circumstances that are mentioned, to apportion time to a particular clause or clauses of a bill or to any particular part or parts of a bill. Pour stages are mentioned. They are the initial stages, the second-reading stage, the committee stage, and the remaining stages of the bill. I submit that “the remaining stages “ refers to the remaining stages of the bill while it is under the control of the House in the first instance and does not refer to the present situation. Therefore, I submit that the ruling is in error:
.- If the Chairman’s ruling were accepted as correct, a declaration of urgency would apply to a bill for an almost unlimited period. A number of reasons might have been advanced in support of the declaration, of urgency on the 10th May last. For instance, the Senate might have’ been waiting to receive bills from this chamber, or honorable members might have been considering a measure with which they were unanimously in agreement, and the Opposition might have co-operated with the Government in order to pass it. How.ever, the present circumstances are completely different from the possibilities that I have suggested. Amendments which, I venture to say, even Government supporters have not heard of will be subject to the operation of the “guillotine . The committee will be required to consider amendments that have been made by the Senate to this bill, and, possibly, other amendments that the Government may propose.
– Order ! I remind the honorable member that the committee is discussing, not the allotment of time, but the motion of dissent from my ruling.
– That is so. I am pointing out that the “ guillotine “ was applied to this bill on the 10th May last in. completely different circumstances from those that now prevail. All the elements of a dispute between this chamber and the Senate are now present, and for that reason, I consider that honorable members should thoroughly comprehend the issues at stake. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who is interjecting, may speak as much as he likes in asides about this matter, but I venture to say that Government supporters are not thoroughly aware of the importance of it.
– Ask them.
– Order ! The remarks of the honorable member for Dalley are not related to the motion of dissent from my ruling.
– Why is the honorable gentleman wasting time?
– It is immaterial to me if my remarks are considered to be a waste of time, because I know that the Senate will have another opportunity to consider the bill. I submit that the Chairman’s ruling is bad. Under it, this bill is again transmitted to the Senate, and is again returned to this chamber with amendments, the declaration of urgency made weeks ago in totally different circumstances from those that now prevail, will continue to apply. I contend that the ruling is bad for the reason that the application of the “guillotine” from time to time shouldbe for the purpose of dealing with the circumstances then existing. But the Prime Minister is now seeking to make the present circumstances fit those that were prevailing on the 10th May last, when this measure was declared an urgent bill. To date, the committee has no knowledge of the amendments that have been made by the Senate to the bill. The Prime Minister should make another declaration of urgency, if he considers that the circumstances warrant that action.
– The only question before the Chair is whether we are now at a stage of the bill. If we are not at a stage of the bill, I should like to know where we are.
– Right up in the air.
– The bill has not been passed. It was transmitted by this chamber to the Senate, which amended it, and returned it to us. “We now propose to deal with those amendments. You, Mr. Chairman, have ruled that this is a stage of the bill and, I should have thought, demonstrably correctly. However, so that the Opposition shall have an opportunity to say something on matters of substance, I move -
That the question be now put.
Question put. The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the ruling be dissented from.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The statements that have been made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in relation to the grouping of these 29 amendments make it clear that the time allotted for their consideration is completely inadequate. Indeed, the Senate’s amendments Nos. 16 and 17-
– Order ! The time allowed for the discussion of the motion for the allotment of time has expired.
– I rise to order. Do you rule, Mr. Chairman, that the time taken in division counts as part of the period of twenty minutes that is allowed under Standing Order 93 for the consideration of a motion for allotment of time?
Question put -
That the motion (vide page 4544) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That amendment No. 16 be amended by leaving out proposed sub-clauses (4.) to (6e. ) (inclusive) and inserting the following sub-clauses: - “ (4.) At the hearing of the application, the applicant shall begin; if he gives evidence in person, the burden shall be upon the Commonwealth to prove that he is a person to whom this section applies, but, if he does not give evidence in person, the burden shallbe upon him to prove that he is not a person in whom this section applies. “ (5.) Upon the hearing of the application, the declaration made by the Governor-General under sub-section (2.) of this section shall, insofar as it declares that the applicant is a person to whom this section applies, be prima facie evidence that the applicant is such a person.”.
I shall now proceed to explain to the committee the significance of these matters which, after all, represent one of the principal nominal occasions of dispute between the two Houses. I say nominal, because I do not believe for one moment that the amendment before us now, which is in line with the amendment that was submitted by the Opposition in this House, is a bona fide amendment. I believe that it is deliberately designed to destroy the bill.
– That is a complete illusion on the right honorable gentleman’s part.
– It was an allusion, if not an illusion. The amendment that has been presented to us by another place, which we have to consider and on which we are the masters of our own decisions, subject to the people whose verdict we would welcome, refers to a variety of matters, which, perhaps, I should state one by one. It proposes, in line with the view of the Labour party in this House, that where somebody has been declared, he shall have the right to go to the court not only on the question of whether he is a Communist, or a member or officer of the Communist party, but also upon whether the activities proved against him in those proceedings are prejudicial to the safety and defence of the Commonwealth. In brief, what the Opposition, through its majority in the Senate, is putting before us is that there ought to be an appeal to the court on the whole of the ingredients in the declaration. “We have already discussed that matter in this chamber. On more than one occasion I have made it clear on behalf of the Government, or at least I have tried to do so, that we do not propose to leave decisions on matters of the highest national importance and safety to some authority other than the authority of the King’s Ministers in the King’s Australian Parliament.
– The right honorable gentleman will ignore the judiciary?
– For this purpose, yes.
– Now we know where we stand.
– If the honorable member now knows where he stands, it is one of the few occasions on which he does so. I like this sudden and new-found enthusiasm for the judiciary on the part of the Opposition.
– The right honorable gentleman has been the strongest supporter of the judiciary when that has suited his purpose.
– I have been one of its strongest supporters, but I happen to believe, and I think that most honorable members and most of the Australian people will agree with me, that the safety and defence of Australia are matters in respect of which a particular responsibility has been imposed on the King’s Ministers in this country. For somebody to tell me that Ministers, who, in the event of war would be held accountable for their judgment, should abandon their responsibilities and say that the courts should determine most significant matters of national defence, is to ignore the true function of the courts. The courts exist in order to do justice between man and man and to apply a known law to the facts that are proved before them. Opposition members have suddenly and, for the first time in my long experience, discovered that they prefer the decision of a judge to the decision of Ministers who are responsible to this Parliament, and through the Parliament to the people. They have said - and I have not the faintest doubt with deliberate intent to wreck this legislation - “You must give the right of appeal on the whole of the subject-matter of the declaration, and you must leave it to the tribunal to determine whether the safety and defence of Australia are really involved “. When a Minister in this Parliament is prepared to abandon his responsibility for national safety it will he high time for him to go out of office.
The next matter that arises in the amendment made by the Senate is this: The Senate has said, in effect, “ The Commonwealth, having declared somebody, and that somebody having exercised his right to go to .the court on all these grounds “ - which go far beyond anything that was discussed here six weeks ago-
– Does the right honorable gentleman mean two grounds?
– That is merely a verbal quibble.
– It represents a substantial difference.
– All right; then I say on the whole subject-matter of the declaration. Indeed, that is exactly what I said. When a declared person goes to the tribunal, then, according to the Oposition, through its chance majority in another place - perhaps I should not say “ chance majority “, but rather its deliberately organized majority or its unrepresentative majority in another place-
– That is a reflection on the Senate.
– I do not mind reflecting on the Senate. I shall reflect on the Senate with the greatest pleasure in the world. It is monstrous that this country should not be governed by those who were chosen to govern it in December last.
– Order ! I ask the Prime Minister to return to the clause.
– I shall not need to move very far in order to return to the clause. The next point in the amendment is that when a proceeding of that kind occurs the so much talked about onus of proof 3hall be on the Commonwealth. It is interesting to recall, as honorable members will, if they examine the terms of the motion that
I have submitted, that the Government itself gave consideration to this matter of en us of proof when it submitted in another place an amendment which I venture to say satisfies most reasonable minds in Australia. It said, in effect, “ We will not accept an amendment the only purpose of which is to enable a Communist to keep out of the witnessbox; but we shall submit an amendment that provides that, although a declared person has the duty of beginning in his appeal, if he is prepared to go into the witness-box and be sworn, from that moment the onus will rest on the Crown “. If that is not fair, what is fair? That means that a. nian who, in the opinion of the Governor-General in Council and of the most responsible of .political opinion in this country, whatever political party it may represent, is a Communist and is declared to have engaged in activities which are prejudicial to the safety of this country, he must either go into the witness-box to disprove that he is a Communist, or he must carry the onus of proving, by every means at his disposal, that he is not a Communist. A very simple question is involved. Do honorable members want such a man to go into the witness-box and take the oath, or do they not? If they want to save him from going into the witness-box and taking his oath, and if they want to save him from the inconvenience of cross-examination, which no truthful man need fear, they will not vote for the Government amendment, even though it provides that, if such a person goes into the witness-box and takes the oath, the Commonwealth will accept the whole burden of proving to the court, that he is a Communist.
– What is a Communist?
– A Communist is defined in the bill and that definition was approved by the Australian Labour party in both branches of the legislature. All the nonsense that is talked about onus of proof comes down to this: Is the Opposition prepared to adopt the Government’s proposition that a declared person must be prepared to go into the box and take the oath, or is it prepared to accept the proposition that, whatever else may happen, the Communists of this country must he entitled to stay out of the witnessbox, to sit in their corner and say to the Government of this country, “ We do not propose to give evidence. Place all your cards on the table. Tell us the ways and means by which you get information. Nothing could suit us better “ ? The question is : Are honorable members in favour of dealing with the Communists, ni- are they in favour of surrendering to them? The members of this Parliament and the people must line themselves up on that matter.
The Opposition, having provided in its amendment for an appeal on all grounds, with this heavy burden of proof on the Commonwealth, has further provided through its Senate majority for another appeal to the Full Court. An appeal on what? On questions of law? The matter hardly arises because, if this legislation h unlawful, power to appeal to the High Court will be unnecessary, as the former Attorney-General, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), well knows. On what ground could an appeal be made? Any appeal would be on a matter of fact. Having- been given the decision of one judge that the GovernorGeneral in Council was not incompetent to determine what the safety of the country required, there must be a further appeal to the Full Court. For what purpose would such an appeal be made?
– That is a right enjoyed even by a murderer.
– If the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) had even a nodding acquaintance with the criminal law of this country he would know that a murderer has no such right. The right honorable member for Barton can .tell him in his more quiet moments that a convicted murderer who wanted to appeal to the High Court against his conviction, would first have to approach the court for leave to appeal, and that nine times out of ten leave would not be granted.
– Not if the right honorable gentleman were a member of the court.
– I assure the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) that whatever happens in the future I shall always have a soft. spot for him-
In the next place - I am omitting minorconsiderations - the amendment made by another place, which is in conformity with the amendment submitted by the Opposition in this chamber, provides that if, after all these remarkable series of events have taken place, the declaration, of a person is set aside, he shall u« entitled to compensation. The honorable member for Lalor was kind enough a few moments ago to refer to the evergreen subject of murder. Although the penalty for murder is death, no person who is charged with murder and is acquitted receives compensation. Under this provision in the bill, no crime is charged, no penalty is applied, and no imprisonment or fine is imposed. Its sole purpose is to produce the termination of the employment of certain persons. We are now told by the Opposition that in this civil proceeding the Communist - or the alleged Communist if Opposition members prefer that term - having succeeded in his proceedings against the declaration, should be given compensation at the expense of the Australian people although, mark you, that compensation would be something to which he would become entitled only because of the proposition of honorable members opposite that there was some doubt about his guilt.
I am bound to ask why Opposition members are so anxious to give to the Communist privileges that they deny to the common burglar. Why all this anxiety, this solicitude for these people? Do they not believe that a Communist conspiracy exists in Australia to-day? If I were to answer that question myself, I should remind Opposition members that they have already voted, whether genuinely or not remains to be seen, for every statement in the preamble to this bill. They have agreed by their vote thai, communism constitutes a dirty and deadly conspiracy against Australia and that the Australian Communist party should be abolished and destroyed. Let them forget it if they like, but by their votes if not by their voices they have agreed with the truth of all those statements. Yet, having said that, they now come along with a series of amendments that are designed to give thu Communist such a privileged position in the eyes of the law that 1 can only conclude - and I say it plainly - that they do not desire the bill to go through ; that what they are doing is pretending that they are in favour of the -hill and then seeking to destroy it by a side wind, i know that that statement is not true of nil members of iiic Opposition. I know that there are men on the other side of the committee who hate the guts of communism and would like to see it destroyed ; but there are others who will run true to their election form, which was, in effect, “ No ban upon the Communist party. You dare not touch a Communist in his union office “. We heard those statements from honorable members opposite time after time during the general election campaign, yet they have come back here chastised with the whips and scorpions of public opinion and have said, “ Oh, well, please understand, we were wrong. We all are in favour of abolishing the Communist party, without appeal, and without raising any question of the onus of proof. We all are in favour of wiping them out like that. We all are in favour of preventing people of that kind from holding office in key trade unions and in the service of the Commonwealth “. They say all these things and then when they get to the real nub of the matter they say, “ Oh yes, yes, but wait a moment! Let’s see whether we can devise a series of amendments that will make this bill inoperative “.
L say to honorable members that this bill will, as far as the Government is concerned, go on the statute-book in an operative and effective form or it will not go on the statute-book at all. We have moved an amendment to the Senate’s amendment which contains in the simplest and clearest terms what we say on the subject of the onus of proof. I shall read it to honorable members -
– There is no need to read it.
– I should like to read it to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr Ward).
– The Prime Minister is wasting time because he does not want the views of the Opposition to be expressed.
– The honorable member for East Sydney is wasting his own time. As far as I am concerned he has wasted most of his time since he came into this Parliament.
– I have never attempted to address the House in a drunken state as ibc Prime Minister is doing now.
– Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– The honorable member’s remark was a characteristically lying and dirty remark.
– I ask that that remark be withdrawn.
– I shall not withdraw it.
– I ask that it be withdrawn because it is objectionable to me.
– The language is unparliamentary and I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw it.
– The remark of the honorable member for East Sydney was a characteristically inaccurate remark. I withdraw the other words, but everybody will know what I mean.
– People will know that what I said was true.
– The Opposition had better keep its heeler in order.
– Order ! If the honorable member for East Sydney repeats a remark that I have asked him to withdraw I shall have to .take action against him.
– I ask that the Prime Minister’s reference to me as a heeler he withdrawn.
– If I described the honorable gentleman as a heeler I apologize to cobblers.
I return -to clause 9 to which we have submitted an amendment that states in the plainest terms that the hearing of an application shall begin and that, if the applicant gives evidence in person, the burden shall be upon the Commonwealth to prove that lie is a person to whom the section applies; hut that, if he does not give evidence in person, the burden shall be upon him to prove that he is not a person to whom the section applies. If that is not a fair and proper provision I should like to know what is. Before I sit down I should like to say for the benefit of all concerned that this is the Government’s last word on this matter.
.- In this country it does not matter whether or not any statement is the Government’s last word. The real question is, what is the people’s last word ? The statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has occupied 25 or 30 minutes, and it is obvious from what he said and the way in which he said it that he has barely skimmed over the substance of this great issue. He has tried to deal with five or six different matters and as a result has not dealt adequately with any one of them. I have only ten minutes in which to make my remarks and I wish to tell the committee what the substance of the matter is. The position is that the Senate’s amendment, which the Government proposes to reject, gives persons who have been declared under clause 9 certain elementary rights of justice. Under clause 9 the Government declares an individual to be a person to whom the section applies. That is the first part of the declaration. It secondly declares that the person - and I want the committee to follow these words closely - is engaged, or is likely to engage, in activities prejudicial to the security and defence of the Commonwealth. . . .
The first point - whether the individual declared is a member of the Communist party or a Communist according to the very wide and vague definition in this bill - is the only point upon which appeal lies to the court. The Prime Minister asserts this as a principle - that is to say, that a charge may be made by the Executive Council against an individual, affirming that he is a person engaged in activities prejudicial to the defence of Australia, and that that individual has no appeal whatever. The Prime Minister states that that is justice. I say that it is a complete denial of justice in its most elementary form. Even in the most acute crisis of the war, in both Great Britain and Australia, when a matter of that kind was dealt with by detention or internment, the alien enemy - not Australians only - had the right to go before an advisory committee, which was usually presided over by a judge, and could put his case and be heard. But the Government will not give to Australians in this country whom it alleges to be members of the Communist party the right that it gave to Germans and Italians in time of war. I say that that is a complete denial of fundamental justice. The question for the court to decide is whether or not a declared individual is a Communist. Has he no right to be heard? I submit that the truth of this matter has become apparent. The bill seeks its powers under the Commonwealth defence power, but so far as the Government is concerned the defence aspect is a sham, and defence is not the genuine basis for the bill.
Let us suppose that a man goes before the court and wins his case. He has been declared to be a Communist and also to be prejudicial to the defence of the country. “When he wins his case the court sets aside the declaration, but he still has standing against him the fact that the Executive Council of this country through the Governor-General, the King’s representative, has declared him to be prejudicial to the defence of the country. That stigma will stand against him for ever. That is the kind of justice that is meted out by this Government. Such a position seems to me to be about the most evil that has ever been conceived. Why has the defence aspect been brought into this matter at all? What is the essence of the matter? It is plain that the references to defence have been placed in the bill in an endeavour to attract in support of its validity the constitutional power in relation to defence. The Government was not willing to bring down a bill to provide that Communists could not be officials of trade unions because it considered that such a bill, without the use of the defence power, would be unconstitutional. It abandoned the existing power under the Constitution in relation to industrial disputes and said to itself, “ How can we get our proposals through ? “ It decided to give a flavour of defence to this matter and has brought in a bill under which it can say to an individual, “You, being a Communist, cannot he dealt with by us as such, but we have provided that the Executive Council may declare you not only a Communist but also a menace to the defence of this country, and then we shall be able to deal with you “. Why, if a man is innocent of the second charge, should he not have the right to clear himself before the court?
The question of the onus of proof is equally important. That question is whether the burden of proof shall rest upon the Commonwealth, which makes the charge without hearing the individual, or whether the individual shall have the onus of proving that he is not a Communist. It is contrary to all the principles usually followed in this kind of case that the onus of proof should Test upon the individual, but the Prime Minister says clearly that it shall not rest upon the Commonwealth. He says, “Why should not a Communist take an oath and go into the witness-box ? “
Government Members. - Why should he not?
– The question is not whether a Communist will take an oath, but whether a person who is alleged to he a Communist will take an oath. Why should declared persons be put in a different position from defendants in ordinary cases? During the Prime Minister’s speech, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) stated quite correctly that the Government is denying to Australian citizens, against whom it does not charge a crime, the rights given to persons charged with treason or murder. That is true, because in cases of treason or murder the prosecution must prove its case. The Government’s argument in connexion with this matter is a mere subterfuge. The idea that the onus of proof may be shifted at a later part of the case when a. person goes into the box is a trick.
The Prime Minister rushed, as I have to rush, to the next point, which concerns an appeal to the full court. He states that there should be no provision for an appeal to the full court. Again we say that an appeal lies to a higher court in the case of most indictable offences. It is perfectly true that on matters of fact there has to be leave to appeal, but on all questions of law there is the right of appeal under the laws of the States. We wish accused persons in this case to be given the same rights as are given to persons accused of crime.
We now come to the matter of compensation. There is a provision designed to give the court discretion to award compensation in the case of a person who has been wrongly declared and who has been successful in having the declaration set- aside. Now if that person has occupied an office in a trade union he will have been dismissed from it and will immediately have lost his salary and his rights. Is it not absolutely elementary justice that if such a person wins an appeal he should have the right to ask the court to award just compensation? This is not like the case of a person charged with a crime. The Prime Minister has had no time to deal with other parts of this amendment. I consider that it is now plain from what the Prime Minister has said that all this talk about providing just procedures has gone by the board. All that has been done in the other chamber, following broadly the point of view that we took here, is that the individual against whom a charge is made should have the right to have the charge proved against him.
– Order ! The time allotted for the consideration of Senate amendment No. 16 has expired.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. MENZIES’S) to the amendment be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That amendment No. 16, as amended, be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– Amendment No. 7 is an amendment to clause 5 of the bill, that is to say the clause that deals with bodies of persons corporate or unincorporate not being industrial organizations of a certain description. Once again it is necessary to remind the committee of the provisions of clause 5 because the interesting fact is that the first and second sub-clauses of that clause were voted for by both sides of the Parliament in both Houses. The clause deals with a body of people, not the Communist party itself but some other body which represents an alias for the Communist party. It is well known that there are many such bodies which are the Communist party in another form or under another name. They have been defined in clause 5 as - any body of parsons -
the policy of which is directed, controlled, shaped or influenced, wholly or substantially, by persons who -
They are the four groups of people, the four descriptions of bodies, which are covered by clause 5. I take it that no honorable member of this committee doubts for one moment that it would be foolish merely to abolish the Communist party and then to allow it to spring up in another form the next morning under anothername and carry on exactly the same activities. That would, of course, be crazy. In doing that the law would : be reduced to mere nonsense. In order to guard against that absurdity clause 5 was introduced to provide that these other bodies under these other names could be declared provided that they have this vital hook-up with communism and with Communist direction. Honorable members opposite voted for that sub-clause, but have now once more turned about, and said, “ Although we agree that in theory you should be able to deal with these bodies, we believe that if you declare one of them you should carry the entire burden from first to last of proving the nature of that body and the nature of its activities “. What have we provided in the amendment that we put forward in another place, and that I am now putting forward in this House, so that it may be a part of the proposed law to be sent forward by the House? We propose that at the hearing of the application to the Court the appellant shall begin. We f urther propose -
If evidence is given in person by such officer or officers of the applicant as the Court is satisfied is or are best able to give full and admissible evidence as to matters relevant to the application the burden shall be upon the Commonwealth. . . .
Assume that such a body comes before the court. The court says that the person who may give information to the court on oath about this body is the secretary or president or a member of the Committee of Management, as the case may be. The court then says that these are the people who may give evidence on behalf of the body. If those people say that they will not give evidence on oath, then the onus will be on that body to prove that it is not what the Governor-General, on the advice of the King’s Ministers, has declared it to be.
Again I say to the committee, and to the country, “ Why not? “ What is sacred about these people who are office bearers of these organizations that gives them this delightful immunity from going to the inconvenience of taking the oath, which, after all, is merely an oath to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? But once more the Opposition puts forward an amendment, the whole object of which is to keep these officers out of the witnessbox. Then the right honorable member for Barton, lashing himself into a fervour about the liberty of the subject, which rang a little hollow in my ears, wants us to believe that this is terrible, that nothing like it has ever occurred before. That being so, I say to him in the homely phrase, “ Be your age “. As AttorneyGeneral for a number of years, he repeatedly prosecuted people in cases under the law of this Commonwealth where the onus was on them to prove their innocence. I do not remember any fine passions being exhibited by him at that time. If we are to be told that this is a breach of the law of our land, and an interference with our rights, may I remind him, not for the first time, that when there is a war on, people, parliaments, and governments in all British countries exercise powers over the normal liberties of the subject without question? Of course, like a colleague on the front bench has just done, he can yawn when I say that, because some of those who sit with him believe that we are now living in a state of peace, perfect peace. I remind this committee that had we been living in such a state and not been confronted by a grim enemy and his agents inside this land, this bill would never have been introduced. It is all nonsense to talk about this state of unbroken peace.
– Why then does the Government still sell them wool?
– It is only so that the honorable member and his colleagues will not have so much wool left to pull over the eyes of the Australian electors. I do not expect honorable members opposite to appreciate all that I have just said.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order ! Honorable members will cease interjecting, especially the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) otherwise he will not have a further opportunity to interject.
– The former AttorneyGeneral will not need to be reminded of a celebrated case that occurred during the recent war and ultimately went to the House of Lords. That is the case of Liversidge. In that matter, the House of Lords, which is the highest judicial tribunal in Great Britain and the actual repository of the common law, said -
Where the Secretary of State, acting in good faith under Regulation 18 (3) of the Defence (General) Regulations makes an order in which he recites that he has reasonable cause to believe that a person is of hostile associations and that by reason thereof it is necessary to exercise control over him and directs that that person be detained, a Court of law cannot inquire whether in fact the Secretary of State had reasonable grounds for his belief.
The matter was one for the executive discretion of the Secretary of State. The right honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Hughes) will well remember an exact parallel to this case during the first world war. That is the case of Wallack, in which the High Court made a similar decision.
Now let us consider what has been said. Quite a lot of people are offering at presnt to explain what British justice means, and what the ordinary rights of the law may be. Those explanations have caused a lot of good people to become confused into thinking that this is some kind of lawyers’ dispute. I want to dispose of that belief, and in order to do so I shall merely have to quote a short passage from the judgment of Lord Maugham, an immediate ex-Lord Chancellor of England, who was sitting as presiding Lord of Appeal in this case. These are words that have profound application to the matter that we are now discussing. He said -
It is obvious that in many cases he will be acting on information (the Minister) of the most confidential character which could not be communicated to the person detained or disclosed in Court without the greatest risk of prejudicing the future efforts of the Secretary of State in this and like matters for the defence of the realm.
Very little consideration will show the power of the Court to give directions for a hearing of proceedings in camera would not prevent confidential matters from leaking out, and such matters would become known to the person detained and to a number of other persons. It seems to me impossible for the court to come to a conclusion adverse to the opinion of the Secretary of State in such a- matter. It is beyond dispute that he can decline to disclose information on which he has acted on the ground that to do so would be contrary to the public interest.
Later, in the same case, a celebrated lawyer, a law lord whose name is wellknown to many members of this Parliament, Lord Macmillan, put the matter even more plainly. He said -
How could a court of law deal with the question whether there was reasonable cause to believe that it was necessary to exercise control over the person proposed to be detained, which is a matter of opinion and policy not of fact? A decision on this question can manifestly be taken only by one who has both knowledge and responsibility which no court can share.
He could have said “By one or many” to give his opinion application to the King’s Ministers as a whole. That statement is not only in accordance with the law as it has been laid down repeatedly over a period of years, but is also pure horse sense. The Opposition says “ No, we shall have none of this. “We intend to insist upon a procedure by which the Crown will have to lay all its cards on the table before the gentleman who is there because of his conspiracy has to put one of his own on the table “.
If anybody is pleased with this amendment it is the Communist party of Australia. It is- the most ironical thing in recent history that the people who are going round conducting propaganda on behalf of these misleading amendments are the Communists themselves. They are enjoying for the moment the rare privilege of invoking the name of that system of British justice of which the Communist party is the sworn enemy. Nothing could be more possessed of humbug than the spectacle that we now see. Consequently, I do not propose to occupy any more time on this amendment because it is on all fours with the last one on which the committee voted. A little later I shall point out that amendment No. 28 together with this one, makes it perfectly clear that the object of the Opposition is to destroy this bill and not to improve it.
– That is a lie.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member for Lalor (Mr: Pollard) to withdraw that unparliamentary remark.
– I withdraw it.
– Therefore I move-
That amendment No. 7 be amended by leaving out proposed sub-clauses (4.), (5.) and (6.) and inserting the following sub-clauses: - “ (4.) At the hearing of the application, the applicant shall begin; if evidence is given in person by such officer or officers of the applicant as the court is satisfied is or are best able to give full and admissible evidence as to matters relevant to the application, the burden shall be upon the Commonwealth to prove that the applicant is a body to which this section applies, but, if evidence is not so given, the burden shall be upon the applicant to prove that the applicant is not a. body to which this section applies. “ (5.) Upon the hearing of the application, the declaration made by the Governor-General under sub-section (2.) of this section shall, insofar as it declares, that the applicant is a body of persons to which this section applies, be prima facie evidence that the applicant is such a body.”.
.- It is quite correct that, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said, this clause and this amendment raise questions of similar principle to those that were discussed under clause 9. But there are important distinctions which the committee should bear in mind. This matter deals with organizations alleged to be of a certain character. All through the Prime Minister’s speech runs the assumption that because you allege these things against bodies and describe them in a certain way in the bill, then they are truly described. That involves a point to be determined by the judiciary. “Whether or not this clause that dennes affiliated organizations truly describes them fully is to be determined by the court. It is useless for the Prime Minister, who yields to none in his appeals to passion, to try to confuse the issue. He assumes that which has to be proved. For the sake of illustration I refer to paragraph (d) of sub-clause (1.) of clause 5. If a body were declared under that provision, and if the court did not set aside the declaration, all the property of that body would be taken from it without compensation. Everybody should agree that that would be a very serious and direct interference with civil rights unless the facts are proved. That provision relates to a body the policy of which is influenced, wholly or substantially, by persons who, during the preceding two years, have been either members of the Communist party or Communists according to that very vague definition of “ Communist “ that appears elsewhere in the bill.
– The right honorable member accepted that definition.
– It is a very vague definition.
– But the right honorable m: ember approved of it.
– I did not approve of it. “J say that it is a vague and general definition because it identifies a Communist by reference to his advocacy of principles and teachings that are not defined in the bill. The body can he declared if Communists or ex-Communists - because the provision applies to ex-Communists as well as to Communists - make use of it as a means of advocating the principles or practices of communism. “When the matter co”mes to the appropriate court, the question to be decided is whether the charge that has been made against the body is true. In substance the charge is that there is some Communist influence in the body or that there has been some Communist infiltration.
The effect of the declaration of the body under the hill will be complete loss of proprietary rights without compensation. The proper course to follow is laid down in the Senate’s amendment, which should be accepted. It provides that persons who make imputations against any body should prove them. That is the only correct procedure in such circumstances. The further amendment proposed by the Government, which provides that, in the first instance, a declared body must prove its exemption ‘from the terms of the bill and that the burden of proof may be shifted, to the Commonwealth if the chief officers of the body convince the court that they are sufficiently informed to be able to give full and admissible evidence in relation to the application, is simply ,a device intended to get over the fact that the onus of proof is to be placed upon the body instead of upon the Commonwealth. 1 come now to the second part of the declaration. As in the case of individuals, the Government does not propose to declare all the bodies that will be covered by this clause. Its intention, as is stated in sub-clause (2.), is that it will not ban such organizations, unless in addition to being of the character described, they are bodies the continued existence of which would be prejudicial to the defence of the Commonwealth.-
The Prime Minister has referred to the great case of Anderson and Liversidge. I do not think that his use of it was justified. It is true that it was a war-time case in which a person with enemy associations had been detained. He did not appeal against the detention order, but he challenged, by independent application, the validity of the regulation under which the order was made. The court held, by a majority decision, that the regulation applied. In order to make the situation absolutely clear, I shall read from what was said by Lord Macmillan, whom the Prime Minister quoted. Lord Macmillan said -
Were the person detained left without any safeguard, this might be an argument against holding that an absolute discretion has been conferred on the Secretary of State. But the argument is the other way when it is found, as it is in this regulation, that elaborate provision is made for the safeguarding of the detained person’s interests. I refer to the constitution of advisory committees to which any person aggrieved by a detention order may make representations. The duty is imposed on the chairman to inform the objector of the grounds on which the detention order has been made, and to furnish him with such particulars as are in the chairman’s opinion sufficient to enable him to state his case.
In other words, a person with enemy associations in time of war had a right, under the regulations in the United Kingdom, to put his case before an advisory committee, and the duty of the chairman of that committee was to make clear to the individual the substance of the charge that had been laid against him. That is a feature that is conspicuously absent from this legislation. Even the making of the declaration to the effect that it is likely to prejudice the defence of the Commonwealth will not he known to the organization concerned. The first information that it will have about the declaration will be a notice published in the Gazette.
– But no Communists will be detained.
– Of course not. But the Prime Minister used the case to which I have referred in order to support his argument that, in matters affecting defence and security, it would not he proper even to have a hearing. I have pointed out that, under the British regulation, a hearing was accorded to the individual concerned. The Government proposes that there shall be no right of hearing under this legislation. Therefore, the Senate has inserted a provision which grants to a body a right of appeal to the appropriate court on two points. The first point concerns the question whether the body is a body such as is described in clause 5 (1.). The second point concerns the question whether it is a body detrimental to the security of the nation.
To-day there is a state of peace. The Prime Minister may use any metaphor “that he likes to choose, but the fact is that there is a
Fta te of peace between Australia and Russia, although it is a state that can be fairly described as one of strained relations. The Prime Minister can talk about a. “ cold “ war, but Australia has diplomatic relationships and full trade relationships with Russia. It is completely untrue to say that there is a state of war between the two countries. In my view it is utterly mischievous as well as untrue to say that only a technical state of peace with Russia exists. Both in Great Britain and in Australia in time of war, any individual against whom an order was made had the right, not to go to a court, but to state his case before an executive tribunal, which was usually presided over by a judge. That right is not to be given to the organizations to which clause 5 refers. I say that the Prime Minister proposes to deny to Australian citizens in time of peace the rights that were accorded to enemy aliens in Great Britain and Australia in time of war. That indicates the state of bias in which the right honorable gentleman has made his approach to this legislation.
The Opposition’s view is that everybody in the community is entitled to justice and a proper hearing. If imputations are made against any body, affecting its civil or proprietary rights, it is entitled to be informed of the nature of the charge against it and to be granted a fair hearing, so that the judicial authority will be given the duty of making its verdict upon the charge. The Prime Minister has talked about the King’s Ministers of State and the King’s Government. Under our Constitution the King’s courts are the protectors of citizens against whom charges of the character that are contemplated in the bill are levelled. Under the Government’s proposed provision, we should produce the shocking result that, even though a body might appeal successfully against, its classification under clause 5 (1.), itmight remain for ever under the shadow of the further declaration, which is unappealable, that its continued existence was prejudicial to the country.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Adermann).Order ! Th’e right honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
[9.55 . - If there was one statement that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made to-night which will be endorsed by every honorable member on this side of the House and by a majority of the people of Australia, it was his assertion that not another line in the bill would be altered. There is a very good reason why the people will endorse that firm declaration. “When the right honorable gentleman made his policy speech last December, he announced over almost every radio station in Australia that the political parties that he represented intended to deal with the Communist party exactly along the lines that he repeated to-night. He has said that, subject to appeal, the Attorney-General will be empowered to declare bodies other than the Communist party that are substantially Communist and to follow the party into any new form and attach illegality to that new association. Members of the present Opposition declared last December that they would not ban the Communist party if they were returned to power. They said that they would not do anything about communism, because it was a political philosophy or something of that sort. But the present Prime Minister told the people what the parties that he represented proposed to do, and he and they were elected to power with a majority of 73 to 47. That is the answer to the Opposition!
The right honorable member f or Barton (Dr. Evatt) has said that everybody is entitled to a fair deal. The Prime Minister has said that the security of the nation must be our first consideration and that we must safeguard the authorities that ferret out subversive agencies and provide us with information about their activities. That is what the right honorable member for Barton said four years ago, when I asked him to clarify the situation in respect of the members of the Australia First Movement who had been detained -
I’ altered the regulation to make it mandatory on the chairman of the tribunal to say to every person appearing before it, “ The charge against you is this. What is your answer to it? “
What does the right honorable gentleman say to-day? On that occasion in 1946 he went on to say -
It is perfectly true that the proceedings were not open to the public. How could they be when the very matter being investigated by the tribunal affected the security of the country ?
The same circumstances exist to-day. The right honorable gentleman continued -
We all know that there were enemy agents in Australia. If the proceedings had been open, information given to the tribunals would have come into the possession of those enemy agents and the very disaster which detention was designed to avoid would have been facilitated.
The war had ended then. Now the right honorable gentleman, posing as the champion of liberty, declares that he would not be a party to placing the onus of proof on anybody. But he did so four years ago, when he declared that the Government of the country was justified in protecting its security service. And we say to-day that the Government of the country must safeguard its security service because that organization is vital to the welfare of the nation. It is obvious that the right honorable gentleman speaks with two voices. When he was a Minister of the Crown, he declared that certain things must be done, and acted accordingly. But now, when the Government produces a measure that is designed to preserve the country against the activities of subversive enemy agents - and every member of the
Opposition has declared by his vote that the Communist party is subversive - he says, “Let us leave them a loophole of escape. This little amendment will make the bill abortive, and will sabotage everything that the Government is trying to do “.
– Order ! The time allotted for the consideration of Senate amendment No. 7 has expired.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. Menzies’s) to the amendment be agreed to.
The committee divided. ( The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
Thatamendment No. 7, us amended, be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman -Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– The short amendment No. 28 was made in the Senate, and I should like to read it to the committee because it is a new proposal. We did not consider it in this chamber. It reads as follows : - “24a. - (1.) In an application under subsection (3.) of section five, or under subsection (3.) of section nine, of this Act-
Those are the two sections that we have been debating. They are in relation to declaring bodies or people -
It is worth pointing out to the committee that although the bill was in this chamber for some time, and the other amendments that we have been discussing were evolved here and put forward by the Opposition, this amendment, which is not of a technical kind, but one of the first importance, was not introduced until the measure was in the Senate.
– There are better lawyers in the Senate.
– The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) will have to fight that out with the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) ; but, incidentally, I do not agree with him. However, this amendment was produced in the Senate. I shall first consider its application to an individual. The amendment says, in effect, “You shall have an appeal to the court on all these ingredients of the declaration, and the onus shall be upon the Commonwealth, on that appeal, to prove every bit of the ingredients in the declaration, that is to say, the facts, the justification for the information, and the judgment that these are inimical to the well-being of the country. The Commonwealth must undertake to prove all those things by evidence before the court, and, in addition to all that, this matter will be dealt with by a jury “. It will be dealt with under the rules that apply to an. indictment. Without desiring to be technical, I shall explain to the committee what that means. It means, first, that instead of the matter going before a judge it will go before a judge and a jury of twelve men. Then, it will go as if it were an indictment for a serious crime. In other words, the jury will be directed by the judge, “ You must acquit “ - although, here, there is no acquittal, or otherwise, because no crime is charged ; this is a matter of termination of employment. The jury will be told, “You must overrule this declaration if, when you have considered all the evidence, you have any real doubt in your mind “.
– Any reasonable doubt.
– I agree; I am indebted to the right honorable gentleman for the reminder. What is more, and I arn sure that this has not been overlooked the jury’s verdict must be unanimous, so that if one of the twelve members of the jury has what he regards as a reasonable doubt there will be no finding against the applicant.
– What is wrong with that?
– So, we have come to the level where we are going to say that although we think all these things about the Communist menace that we have stated in this bill, and although out of twelve men sitting on the jury eleven should say, “ This man is guilty of all these things “, that man shall go free because the twelfth man says “I have a doubt “.
– Not go free ; there will be no verdict.
– The right honorable gentleman should read his own amendment. He will find that in his earlier amendment he put in the provision that the Government must go to the court and. nu.i.’.t prove guilt. If the jury disagrees, how can the court say that it has been satisfied ? Then the declaration will come to an end. The man may be re-declared ; but that declaration will come to an end. This is an inglorious and ignoble attempt by the Opposition to cash in upon the proper sentiment of the Australian people for the jury system. In this country the jury system is regarded as .one of the great guarantees of the liberty of the subject. Therefore, although the Opposition did not think of it in this place, by the time the bill was in the Senate honorable members opposite had said to themselves, “ Let us have that one out. If we can persuade the people of Australia-
M.v. Rosevear. - And the Government did not think of it.
– The amendments submitted by the Government are slight technical amendments.
– What about the committee of five to make declarations?
– If I were the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) I would not talk too much about the amendment setting up a committee, because, after all, we provided for it as a result of considerable discussion and he and his colleagues, under instruction, have accepted it. I am now directing attention to the fact that, although one would have thought that trial by jury was something that would loom largely in these matters, members of the Opposition did not think of it until they were looking for ways and means of defeating the bill by using their majority in another place. So they said, in effect, “ Every body believes in the jury system. Now, let us try to persuade the people that there is something virtuous about its application to a problem of this kind “. I have already made one comment on the matter, that is, that the jury must be unanimously satisfied, and, therefore, the safety and defence of this country will depend, not on the judgment of eleven men, but on the judgment of one man. That, to me, is a most curious outlook with respect to the safety and defence of Australia.
In the second place, honorable members will notice that the Senate’s amendment refers with all care to proceedings by may of indictment. That means, not that the onus of proof is placed on the Commonwealth as in any ordinary civil proceedings but that it is placed on the Commonwealth as in criminal proceedings, which means that the Commonwealth has to establish that a declared person is engaged in Communist activities, not on the balance of .probabilities, hut beyond all reasonable doubt. That is such proof as would be required if a man were charged with a capital offence. That extraordinary provision is proposed to ‘be made in respect of civil proceedings. The proposal to introduce criminal law into civil proceedings is the clearest proof that the Opposition wants to load the dice against the Commonwealth. Further evidence of that is provided by the fact that the Opposition also proposes that provision shall be made for payment of compensation. Thus, we have this position: The declared person comes before a jury of twelve men.
– That is not covered by this clause.
– I am dealing with Senate amendment No. 28. If the right honorable member for Barton will be so obliging as to look at it he will find that it relates to ‘both clause S and clause 9 ; and I am talking about clause 9, which deals with individuals. I am saying that the individual goes out because on. balance somebody has decided to give him the benefit of a doubt. So, he will be better placed than is a man charged with burglary who is acquitted, because, under the Opposition’s proposal, he will be entitled to compensation. This seeks to put the Communist in Australia in a better position than is any ordinary fellow who may be charged with an offence under the criminal law.
– That is rubbish; it is to provide for compensation for a man who is innocent.
– The simple fact is that the Senate amendment gives to the man who is brought within clause 5 a privilege that is denied to the ordinary man who is charged with a crime. That is the attitude that the Opposition adopts with respect to the gravest internal threat that has yet confronted our country.
The only other point that I need to make is that this country elects a Parliament. It elected one on the 10th December last. On that occasion it installed in office the present Government; and in previous years, it installed another government. But whatever the government, it was the government that the jury of the Australian people chose and put in office in order to guard the interests of the Australian people and, above all, to ensure that the safety and defence of this country should not be neglected.
But the Opposition, seeking to whip up an agitation because of the known devotion of our people to the jury system, says, in effect, “ All right, on this question which concerns the safety and defence of the people of Australia and in which opinion and judgment are ingredients “ - the bill provides that persons or organizations may be declared if, in the opinion of the Governor-General in Council, they do certain things - “the opinion of twelve men brought in by chance selection and put on a jury is to be substituted for the opinion of nineteen people sitting in a Cabinet and the opinion of 121 people sitting in His Majesty’s House of Representatives “. What sort of an amendment is that? What sort of ducks and drakes does that play with responsible government? This is not a simple question of fact. It is not a question of whether Jones shoots Brown, or of whether Brown steals Robertson’s goods. The question is whether out of a whole snarl of circumstances, some to foe proved and some to he assumed, but all to be seen against the background of the national interest, the judgment of responsible authorities is that a man should not .be allowed to be in the Government service or to occupy a responsible position in a key union. If that task is to be entrusted to a jury the Government might as well say good-bye to its responsibilities and this Parliament will have washed its hands of all charge that is laid upon it to ensure the safety and defence of the realm. I therefore move -
That amendment No. 28 be disagreed to.
.- In the few minutes that are available to me I propose to make clear the fascist nature of the Government and the fascist tendencies of its leader. If ever a proposition was put before any responsible body to set up a fascist dictatorship, it has now been so put hy the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). In effect, he says that the elected representatives of the people in Parliament assembled should determine these matters and that the courts should not come into them at all because, he says, the Executive having spoken that should be the end of the matter. He has belittled the jury system, which is the very foundation of our system of justice. The right honorable gentleman has so little respect for the jury system that, at a Liberal party rally in the Sydney Town Hall last Wednesday night, he declared’ that it would be an act of lunacy to hand over to a jury of twelve men the responsibility of deciding whether a declaration should be confirmed. When he talks about the Governor-General in Council why does he not speak in plain terms instead of in legal jargon? What he means by the Governor-General in Council is the Liberal-Country party Government which, he says, should be the sole judge of these matters. He belittled the idea that, under the jury system, if one man disagreed with the remaining eleven he would decide the issue. Probably, if the decision were left to the Government, the issue might still be decided by one man because one Minister could make it.
The Prime Minister has talked about activities that constitute a threat to the safety of this country. If the Government has information in its possession which shows that organizations, or individuals, have been conspiring against the safetyof the country, and has not. launched a prosecution under existing laws, the members of the Government have been false to their oath of office. The fact is that the Chifley Government, when it went out of office, did not have any evidence that showed that such activities were being carried on. Therefore, the Prime Minister should present to the Parliament some evidence of the existence of an actual threat to the safety of the country. The right honorable gentleman knows full well that he is only trying to workup public hysteria because he wants to establish in this country a fascist dictatorship. On innumerable occasions in the past he has gone on record in favour of totalitarian forms of government. He has had a lot to say about letting the people decide. It would be a very good thing to let the people decide; and, judging by the deci sions that they have given in recent State elections, I have no doubt about what their decision would be.
– Order! The time allotted for the consideration of Senate amendment No. 28 has expired.
Question put -
That the amendment be disagreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. P. ADERMANN.)
Majority . . . . 28
Mr. Rosevear. - Mr. Chairman-
– The honorable member must remain seated while I am on my feet. I warn him that he mus* keep quiet in future.
– For language to bo regarded as insulting and unparliamentary it must be directed to an honorable member. I want to know who was characterized by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) as being “ as full as a hoot “.
– That matter has been dealt with.
.- I move -
That amendments Nos. 2, 3, 6, 8, 10, 11, 15, 17, 20, ‘21 and 22 be disagreed to.
It is unnecessary for me to single out any of these amendments because all of them are strictly incidental-
– Order! The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) is again conversing in a loud voice. If he ignores the ruling of the Chair, I shall deal with him.
– These amendments are strictly incidental to the major amendments with which the committee has just dealt. They do not in themselves represent any problem of substance. They were inserted by the Senate because of the other amendments of which we have now disposed by the votes that have been recorded by the committee.
.- The method of considering in bulk several amendments to a number of clauses of a bill has the disadvantage that one is apt to assume that, all of the amendments arc of equal importance. It is true, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has said, that this group of amendments forms part and parcel of the amendments that were supported by honorable members on this side of the chamber.
– I direct your attention, Mr. Chairman, to the fact that honorable members on the Government side are now engaging in audible conversation.
– Order !
– It is true that these amendments are ancillary to amendments proposed by the Opposition in the other chamber but in respect of which we were defeated by the vote of the committee in this chamber. One of them, however, is in a special category. I refer to amendment No. 2, with which I propose to deal shortly. Amendment No. 2, which relate.’, to clause 3 of the bill, provides that the word “ majority “ he omitted, and the words “ substantial number “ inserted in its place. It has been agreed that a declared person or organization should have the right of appeal to the High Court, or to a supreme court judge in one of the States. For the purposes of that provision, the definition of “the appropriate court “ is set out in the hill at present as follows : - “ the appropriate court “ means -
Let us now consider the position of an organization. Under the hill as it left this chamber, no appeal could be brought to the supreme court of a State by an organization unless it was established that a “majority” of the members of the organization were resident in the particular State. Thus, if there were a hundred members in an organization, and 30 of its men! hers resided in one State, 30 in another, 20 in another, and 20 in another, there would not be a majority of members in any one State, with the result that the organization could not take it3 case to the supreme court of a State, but would have had to approach the High Court. That was why the amendment was moved in the Senate to substitute the words, “ substantial number “, for the word “ majority “.
– That would mean that a body could approach the supreme court in three or four States.
– Theoretically, perhaps, “but actually it would not work out that way. The decision given by a court which took seisin of the case would be binding in all other States.
– It is provided that an organization may appeal to the supreme court of a State in which the principal -office of the organization is situated.
– But if for some reason no application was made by officials of the organization, it would be impossible for the members to approach the supreme court of a State. I submit that the Senate’s amendment was a reasonable one and should be accepted.
Mr. WENTWORTH (Mackellar) [10.43 ). - It is quite clear that, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) pointed out, these amendments represent an attempt by the Opposition to sabotage the bill, and make it unworkable. Persons who would not dare to oppose the bill openly, because they know that the rank and file of the Labour party are overwhelmingly opposed to communism, artusing subtle means to oppose it. Amendments Nos. 6 and 15, which are at present before the committee, are both designed to bring within the ambit of the court an appeal on the second ground of the declaration, so that it may be required to rule whether an organization or an individual is in fact, liable to commit acts which are prejudicial to the safety of the Commonwealth. One can understand the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) being particularly tender on points of this kind because, in a way, he is defending himself, and members of his family, perhaps, in what might be an awkward predicament in view of their past activities.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that that is a most offensive remark to make.
– I shall explain. The right honorable gentleman has been closely connected with an organization known as the Studio of Realistic Art, which is, undoubtedly a Communist organization.
– I did not even know of the existence of the organization. I ask that the honorable member shall not make offensive remarks of that kind.
– I see no reason to withdraw the remark. I make the” statement that the right honorable member for Barton has been closely associated with the organization. In fact, his wife was a patron of the organization at one time. Outwardly, the objects of the organization are innocent, but it has been used in conjunction with the Eureka Youth League, and other organizations as a recruiting ground for the Communist party. I do not say that the right honorable gentleman was aware of that. He may have lent his patronage not knowing the real nature of the organization, but he knows now. And then, what about the right honorable gentleman’s brother, Mr. Clive Evatt? Until recently, he was president of the Australian-Russian Society, which was not only-
– I rise to a point of order. What has all this got to do with the amendments before the Chair?
– I am explaining why the right honorable member for Barton is so insistent that the amendments be accepted. The AustralianRussian Society was not only a Russian-inspired organization, but it was also an organization engaged in conducting treason on the highest level, that of foreign policy. The journals published by the organization during the time that Mr. Clive Evatt was its president fully bear out the truth of my allegation. No doubt, it had some innocent members who did not know what it was doing, or who sponsored it, or what it was being used for. I have no doubt of that, but neither have I any doubt that it was a. most dangerous organization, and one deserving of being declared.
– I ask leave to make a statement.
– The time allotted for the consideration of the amendments has expired. I shall put the amendments now, but the right honorable member may make his statement later.
Question put -
That amendments Nos, 2, 3, 6, 8, 10, 11, 15, 17, 20, 21 and 22 he disagreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. E. Adermann.)
Majority . , . . 29
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That amendments Nos. 1, 4,5,9, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25, 20, 27and 29 be agreed to.
All of these amendments except one were made by the Senate at the suggestion of the Government. Most of them are minor. The one that deserves perhaps some particular mention is amendment No. 4, in which we have set out to guard against the suggestion that there might be some hasty, ill-considered declaration of somebody, by providing that the Executive Council shall not advise the Government to make a declaration under the various sub-sections unless the material upon which the advice is founded has first been considered by a committee consisting of the Solicitor-General, the Secretary to the Department of Defence, the Director-General of Security and two other persons appointed by the GovernorGeneral. That amendment should certainly commend itself to the Opposition. That amendment certainly succeeded in commending itself to the Opposition in the Senate.
.- There is one point that I can make in the time available.
– Order! The time allotted for the consideration of this group of amendments has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) put -
That the report be adopted.
The House divided. (Mr. SPEAKER - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That Mr. Fadden, Mr. Casey and Mr. Menzies be appointed a committee” to draw up reasons for the House of Representatives disagreeing to amendments Nos. 2, 3, 6, 8, 10, 11 15, 17, 20, 21, 22 and 28 of the Senate. ‘
– On behalf of the committee I bring up the following reasons : -
Reasons of the House of Representatives for disagreeing to amendments Nos. 2, 3, 6, 8, 10, 11, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22 and 28 of the Senate.
Because the amendments are designed to and will destroy the efficacy of the proposed law.
Because the amendments do not effectuate the policy for which the Government received an overwhelming mandate at the elections on 10th December last.
Because the amendments will prevent the carrying out of the policy of the Government to protect this country and its people against the dangers recited in the preamble to this bill.
I move -
That the committee’s reasons be adopted.
.- The committee that met and reported so rapidly, has asked the House to adopt its report, which states, among other things, that the’ amendments are designed to and will destroy the efficacy of the proposed law. I say that that statement is false. The suggestion that the amendments for which the Labour Opposition in the Senate was responsible were designed to destroy the efficacy of the proposed law made to-night by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is quite incorrect. To repeat a phrase used ,by the right honor&ble gentleman, it is an unworthy and ignoble suggestion. The primary objective of the Opposition in both this House and in the Senate has been to ensure that the administration and implementation of the measure wil not give rise to injustices.
Mr. Spender interjecting,
Mr. Pollard. - Mr. Speaker, is the Minister in order in interjecting from the back bench?
– All interjections are disorderly; but a Minister, if he wishes to speak, may do so from any part of the House.
– I rise to order. During the long number of years that I have been in the House, when I have interjected from any place other than my own, I have been rebuked by Mr. Speaker and I suggest that that precedent should be followed in respect of the honorable member for Warringah, the AttorneyGeneral.
– Order ! The honorable member for Warringah is not the Attorney-General. He is the Minister for External Affairs.
– The first proposition that the Government has put forward is untrue. The Senate’s amendments are designed to provide safeguards which will ensure that neither persons nor organizations will be unjustly deprived of property or their civil rights. To state in a forma] report to the House of Representatives that these amendments are designed by the Senate to destroy the efficacy of the bill is not only untrue, but completely contrary to all constitutional practice governing the relationships which exist between two chambers such as this House and the Senate. I am surprised that such an expression could be used under your chairmanship, Mr. Speaker.
-Order! I hope that the right honorable member is not imputing to me the responsibility for this statement.
– No. I am sure that you would not be responsible, Mr. Speaker. I say that this bill, as amended by the Senate, is a workable measure and that it is completely inaccurate to say that its efficacy would be interfered with by the amendment!! of the Senate. If an individual were to be declared and were to lose his status or position in a trade union or in the Public Service how would the fact that he had the right to take the declaration that had caused these evil consequences to him to a court of justice to be tested, or is he so elects, by a jury, destroy the efficacy of the bill? The fact that a declared person could do so would not destroy the efficacy of the bill, but would give the people of this country some confidence that this measure, if it becomes law, will not be abused and improperly administered by political partisans.
I was unable earlier to refer to one feature of the bill which is important and which caine into existence in another chamber. That feature is the appointment of a committee of five, including the heads of the Attorney-General’s Department, the Department of Defence and the security service, in order to make some report to the Government on the particular organization or person proposed to be declared. Even under this proposal, an individual has no right to be heard. If that committee were to lie constituted in the same way as the advisory committees which were used in time of war, it would be of some substantial advantage. I notice that this document is headed, “Reasons for the House of Representatives for disagreeing with the amendments of the Senate “. I submit that even that statement is inaccurate because the committee was only appointed to deal with certain amendments and its report does not refer to them all.
– It does not say “ all amendments “.
– I presume that it means “ all “. The amendments are not specified. The second reason given in the report is as follows : -
Because the amendments do not effectuate the policy for which the Government received an overwhelming mandate at the elections on the 10th December lust.
This adjective “ overwhelming “ is losing its force and accuracy as the months go on. A slight majority at the polls did result in the Government having a large majority in this House, after the lasgeneral election. But I submit that these statements are quite inconsistent with those that were made by the present Prime Minister and the Leader of the Australian Country party before the general election, when those right honorable gentlemen said that the action which it was proposed to take against the Communist party would be “ subject to appeal “. They also said that the date in respect of which persons would be declared would be sometime in November.
The third reason that the committee has given is -
Because the amendments will .prevent the carrying out of the policy of the Government to protect this country and its people against the dangers recited in the preamble to this bill.
Again, the question is begged. No reasons of fact are adduced to the Senate for the action taken by the House - that is to say, by the Government parties - in dealing with the Senate’s amendments. This House, under the leadership of the Prime Minister, has not even given consideration to the Senate’s amendments. The Senate spent eight or nine days in an important debate on this bill. This House has only considered the Senate’s amendments for a short evening and even that time has been interrupted by a large number of divisions. It is typical of the Government’s unseemly haste and restriction of debate and its interference with freedom of speech that the culmination of this debate should be a report which, I suggest, the committee, appointed a few minutes ago, has not even met to consider. Docs the Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey) support these statements? The committee was appointed five minutes ago and the report was in existence, apparently, before the committee was appointed. I suggest that the report was given about as much consideration by the committee of three as the Government permitted honorable members to give to the Senate’s amendments in committee this evening. Therefore, I submit that these reasons are not fairly put, are not true in substance, and should be dissented from and voted against.
– The Government believes that the Senate’s amendments are designed to destroy this bill. The historic approach of the Labour party to communism confirms the conviction of the Government that the Labour party desires to destroy any proposal to dissolve the Communist party. That is not a matter of presumption. It is an historic fact. In the early days of the war, the non-Labour Government then in office, having access to information which it considered to be sufficient, dissolved the Communist party. What was the reaction of the Labour party, and of the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour party to that action? They were never silent in their agitation that the dissolution of the Communist party should be revoked and that the Communist party., in time of war, should be allowed to propagate its treasonable and pernicious doctrines. It is on record that the right honorable member for Barton who has just spoken was the most vociferous advocate during the war of the reestablishment of the Communist party and as soon as the Labour party came to office it gave effect to what it had* been advocating.
– I rise to order. Neither this bill nor the debate on it have anything to do with the war period. Any reference to anybody’s attitude during the war period is totally out of order in the present debate. I take it that the House is discussing a message which, is to be conveyed to the Senate or an expression of opinion of the House which deals entirely with a piece o’i current legislation. This legislation does not deal with the period of the war, and, therefore, in reference-
-Order! What is the honorable gentleman’s point of order, please ?
– That is my point of order.
– Do I understand that the honorable member’s point is that no reference can be made to anything that occurred during the war period ?
– It is a great pity that the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) is not in his place.
– The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) is not entitled to refer to the Minister for Health.
– Am I entitled to put my point of order?
– Yes, but I do not want a rambling speech on it.
– I am not rambling. I am quite clear on my point and I am endeavouring to put the position clearly to the Chair. My point is that nothing concerning the hill has anything to do with the period of the war. The bill has to do with present circumstances. My contention is that any reference to anything that preceded the introduction of the measure to this House, that is to say, any reference to anything that took place during the war, is totally out of order in respect to this particular motion.
– I wish to speak to the point of order. The motion to which I was speaking relates to whether or not certain amendments are designed to a certain end. One can only reach a conclusion whether those amendments are designed to that end or not by attempting to examine the state of mind of those who designed the amendments. The record of honorable members opposite must be examined. History shows that Labour re-established the legality of the Communist party in time of war. It released the Communists Ratliff and Thomas from their internment for treasonable activities. The whole record of the Labour party in time of war, and since, reveals a condition of mind which is completely consistent with the suggestion that the amendments have been designed to destroy the legislative proposal to destroy the Communist party. I suggest that the point of order should not be upheld.
– I rule that the Minister is in order.
– What the Labour party did in time of war has been disposed of, and the attitude of the Labour party immediately related to the proposed legislation is clear. The Labour party conducted its election campaign on a policy of not dissolving the Communist party.
– That was one of the fundamentals of its policy when it went to the people. Unless the Labour party has experienced a complete change of mind during the last six months, it is logical to conclude that its actions in both Houses of the Parliament have been designed to give effect to its announced policy, which is not to dissolve the Communist party. What the Labour party has done in this House is merely to refrain from voting against the dissolution of the Communist party. Not by vote or voice has Labour supported the dissolution of the Communist party.
Motion (by Mr. Anthony) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Me. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cam eron.)
Majority . . 30
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the committee’s reasons be adopted.
The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 30
Question so resolved in the. affirmative.
Bill returned from the Senate with a message intimating that it had disagreed to the amendments made by the House of Representatives(vide page 4358) for the reasons assigned therein (vide page 4487).
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– The matter I desire to bring to the notice of the House will not take very long to explain. It concerns the department administered by the Treasurer (Mr.Fadden). I ask whether the right honorable gentleman, when considering his budget, will give consideration to the matter of the taxation of a bachelor who is obliged to call upon the services of a sister as housekeeper? Under the existing taxation laws, a widower is entitled to claim the £150 rebate in respect of a housekeeper who is a sister or daughter,’ but no provision is contained in the regulations to entitle a bachelor to claim the same rebate in respect of a housekeeper who is his sister. That seems to be an anomaly which has evidently escaped the notice of previous Treasurers, and I ask that the right honorable member give consideration to this plea in respect of that class of taxpayer.
– I promise the honorable member that I shall go into the matter which he has raised.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations - 1 950 -
No. 27 - Australian Third Division Telegraphists’ and Postal Clerks’ Union; and Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union.
No. 28 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
Nos. 29 and 30 - Hospital Employees’ Federation of Australasia.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Civil Aviation - D. B. Elkman,I. T. Perry.
Prime Minister - H. E. Berg, G. J. Mackrell, T. H. Turnock.
Repatriation - A. 15. MacLean, P. E. Matthews, H. J. Scott, M. Wilson.
Works and Housing - E. H. Cartwright, R. L. Durbridge, A. D. Jones, D. G. Raffen, A. D. Richards, C. S. Schumacher, A. R. Skinner, B. B. Taylor, J. A. Webster.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs ( 18 ) .
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950. No. 25.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Defence purposes - Puckapunyal, Victoria. Postal purposes - Maroubra Bay, New South Wales.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 26.
House adjourned at 11.38 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Iron and Steel.
Royal Australian Navy.
r asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are. as follows : - 1, 2, 3, and 4. It is usual for copies of American motion picture films to be printed in Australia from duplicate negatives imported from the United States. The intrinsic value of such negatives is insignificant and no total figure is recorded for such imports in trade statistics. The main dollar liability for such films arises from royalty payments, which are, as a rule, related to box-office receipts. There is no restriction on the importation of the negatives of American films. In 1947 the previous Government entered into an arrangement with the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia which provides for the restriction of film remittances to America to 50 per cent, of the amount remitted for this purpose in the calendar year 1046. Under this arrangement, unremittable earnings are to be finally expended in Australia or to remain invested here for a period of ten years. The arrangement also specifies the purpose for which such “ blocked “ funds may be expended or invested. The Commonwealth has no power to control the investment of funds of motion picture distributors other than those “ blocked “ under this arrangement. The policy in relation to the provision of dollars for American motion pictures which was in operation when . the present Government assumed office has not been varied.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 June 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1950/19500620_reps_19_208/>.