19th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct two questions to the Minister for External Affairs. Concerning the documents which the Minister laid on the table last night in connexion with the Colombo programme of aid to South and South-East Asia, with which the name of the Minister is associated, can the honorable gentleman inform me whether any decision has ye been reached by the Government about financial or material contributions to bts made to that plan by the Government during the current year? If not, will he say when a decision on that matter la likely to be made? My second question deals with a matter that may be related to the first question and concerns the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. As the Minister knows, the Australian Government has contributed in the aggregate more than £3,000,000 to that fund, and the United States of America has made a very much greater contribution. “Will the Minister and his colleagues consider the possibility of making some further contribution in order to keep the fund going, particularly in view of the fact that members of the present Government have expressed appreciation of the fund and its objectives similar to that expressed by the preceding Government?
– I shall deal, first, with the second question asked by the right honorable ‘gentleman. The position is that a decision has been reached in respect of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, and a contribution -will be made. The amount of thai contribution will probably ‘be ‘announced [next week, but if an announcement is not made then it will be made before the Parliament rises for the Christmas recess. The United Nations International -Children’s Emergency Fund is an activity to which Government approval should ‘be granted. As the right .honorable gentleman has suggested, any contribution made to that fund by Australia will under certain conditions be matched by the United States of America. I turn now to the first question -asked by the right honorable gentleman. Discussion has taken place between myself and the Prime Minister about the amount of our financial contribution to the Colombo plan for aid to South and South-East Asia. However, I think that he will agree with me that in many other ways the Government has already made some contribution. For instance, the extent to which sterling funds are capable of being released is dependent, in part, upon Australia’s sterling balance. “We have done much to assist the accumulation of sterling funds ‘by the operation of our own economy and the balance that we now hold in Great Britain. Shortly we hope to make a direct contribution. 1 shall discuss that matter further with the Prime Minister- and bring it before the Cabinet, and when that has been done 1 shall make an announcement.
– “Will the Minister for Supply say whether the Government is encouraging young men employed in the workshops and factories that it operates to become apprenticed to the various trades carried on in those establishments ? A public statement was made recently to the effect that the Commonwealth is not doing its share to encourage the training of future tradesmen in skills which are so necessary to the development of this country. “Will the Minister say whether he is satisfied that all possible encouragement is’ being given to young men in Commonwealth industrial undertakings to become apprenticed to trades ?
– The answer to the first question is “ Yes “. Apprentices are employed is the various munitions and other factories, under the control of the Department of. Supply, and a great deal of encouragement is being given to apprentice .training. The Government takes the view that dead-end jobs should be discouraged at all costs, and the Department of Supply goes to a good deal of pains to see that youths are given every opportunity for apprentice training. I think the honorable member is referring to a letter which was published in one of the Sydney newspapers in regard to this matter. All I oan say is that in the Department of Supply a great deal is being done, and will continue to be done, to stimulate and encourage apprentice training.
– At present, many areas in New South Wales are experiencing floods, and for some months mail services co many centres have been dislocated. Will the Postmaster-General cause an immediate investigation to be made of all mail services that have been affected by recent heavy rain and floods with a view to providing alternative services to meet the requirements of the people, in regard to both mails and food?
– The Postal Department has given very special attention to the problem to which the honorable member has referred. A serious effort is being made to overcome the difficulties that have arisen by providing air-mail services to the areas affected, many of which lie within the electorate represented by the honorable. member. I hope to be able to make a statement to the House to-morrow of what is being done.
– Has the Minister for the Navy received a report of the inquiry which was conducted into the explosion at Flinders Naval Base, Victoria, recently in which one rating was killed, and one officer and seventeen ratings were injured ?
– 1 desire to again express my sympathy with the relatives of the naval rating who lost his life in this accident, I also regret to say that the accident to which the honorable member has referred took place when an instructional school was -being held .in connexion with anti-aircraft training. Immediately after the accident I issued.’ instructions that an inquiry should be’ conducted and that, until it had been completed, ammunition of the type used at the time of the occurrence, should not continue to be used. I hope to receive the report of the inquiry at the end of this week.
– In the absence of the Treasurer, I ask the Prime Minister a - question relative to the custom of the Commonwealth Bank of insuring exporters, at a premium of 2s. 6d. per cent., against the possibility of loss which might result from- revaluation while their goods are in transit. If the Government’s decision against revaluation is definite and final, will it issue an instruction to the Commonwealth Bank to desist from insuring against a certainty, or, alternatively, to reduce the premium for such insurance? Will the Prime Minister be good enough to make available to me details of the amount of money .that the Commonwealth Bank has earned out of this insurance?
– I was not aware of this extremely interesting practice. 1 shall discuss the matter with the Treasurer, who, I hope, will be in Canberra to-morrow, and shall obtain the desired information and furnish it to the honorable member.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether a request has been received from the Queensland Government for assistance in granting .relief to the victims of the recent floods? If so, what decision was made? If such a request has not yet been received but is received later, will the Government give it favorable consideration?
– I shall ascertain the position and furnish an answer to the honorable member to-morrow.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture relative to the acute position that exists in Western Australia because of the non-availability of adequate supplies of superphosphate. Is it a fact that, in order to meet, at least in part, the demand for superphosphate which cannot be supplied by local manufacturers, a business firm in Western Australia has sought the issue of a permit to import shipments of superphosphate from overseas? In view of the dire necessity for increased supplies of superphosphate in Western Australia, has the permit been granted? If not, will a permit be granted, and, if so, will the Minister expedite its issue?
– I understand that one of the principal superphosphate companies with a branch in Western Australia has been investigating the possibility of importing bulk shipments of superphosphate from overseas. My information is th’at even if superphosphate were obtainable from overseas it would not only be high in price but would also be of a lower grade than the superphosphate that is manufactured in Australia. Inquiries have also been made from Commonwealth authorities regarding the conditions that would apply if it were desired to import superphosphate from hard currency areas, but no formal application has been lodged in connexion with the importation of such superphosphate. No licence would be necessary for thi importation of superphosphate from European and other soft currency areas. Any one is free to import superphosphate from those areas. If the honorable member is able to provide me with any further information concerning the matter that lit- has in mind I shall endeavour to secure further information for him.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral do anything .to improve the junction service between the BankstownR ores by telephone exchange and other Sydney metropolitan exchanges? Is lie aware that delays of up to one hour arc suffered daily by Bankstown-Revesby telephone subscribers because of the lack of sufficient junction lines? Can he say when improvements in the service can be effected ? The Postmaster-General said, in answer to a question that was asked by the honorable member for Mackellar last week, that telephone subscribers on the Manly side of Sydney Harbour could expect a considerable improvement in telephone services by next February. Does not the Minister consider that it would be wiser to improve the telephone communication system to the industrial areas around Bankstown rather than to improve the system in areas like Manly and Mosman, where the population is made up mainly of non-producers?
– The Postal Department is doing everything it can, with the materials and the resources of labour and technical skill at its disposal, to speed up an improvement of the telephonic and telegraphic systems, in Sydney, Melbourne and elsewhere. The problem is huge and is a result, very substantially, of the arrears of work that banked up during the war years. The department is doing its utmost to deal fairly with every district in every part of Australia. It if unable to do all the work that it wishes to do, but it is attempting to apportion the work that can be done fairly among different sections of the community.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral, whether he will consider the introduction of the duplex telephone system in country centres as a temporary measure to expedite the connexion of telephones where insufficient cable or switchboard accommodation is available for normal connexions.
– It is not practicable to introduce the duplex system in all telephone exchanges. It can be introduced only in automatic exchanges which have adequate technical facilities. If the honorable gentleman has any particular city in mind and will inform me of it, .1 shall cause inquiries to be made to ascertain whether the duplex system can be introduced in the telephone exchange there.
– Can the Minister for External Territories say whether it is a fact that copra producers in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea are embarrassed because of a shortage of copra sacks? If that is so, will he say what action is being taken to alleviate the position?
– I am aware that earlier in the year there was a shortage of copra sacks which caused a great deal of difficulty in the territory. Prior to that time there was a prohibition upon the entry of second-hand sacks into the territory. That prohibition was removed, and as a result, so far as I am aware, the difficulties that previously existed in relation to the shortage of copra sacks are being gradually overcome, though they have not yet been completely eliminated. If the honorable member know9 of any particular instances where difficulties still exist, I shall be glad if he will bring them before my notice, when I shall do my utmost to deal with them.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture aware that a decline in the production of eggs, in particular in the production of eggs suitable for export, has occurred in recent years? If so, can he inform the House whether Great Britain will pay an increased price for eggs exported to it by Australia? If increased prices are. not to be received for such eggs, can the Minister indicate whether it is proposed to pay a subsidy to producers of eggs for export?
– I know that a problem exists concerning the production of eggs, and particularly concerning the prices received by producers of eggs that have been exported. The existing con- tract with the United Kingdom provides that there shall be an annual review of the contract price with no greater variation upwards or downwards than per cent in any one year. This review normally takes place in January or February of each year. Last year the Government requested an increase of 7-J per cent, in the price in accordance with the terms of the contract, and provided statistical data which showed that there was justification for such an increase. The United Kingdom Government declined to approve of any increase, and no provision exists foi the resolving of a deadlock. Negotiations continued for about four or five months and at the end of that time the United Kingdom approved of an increase in the price of pulped eggs which amounted to an average of about 33 per cent, overall increase. I have done three things in this matter, which I recognize as a problem. First, I have had discussions with the Minister for Food in the United Kingdom concerning this issue, and he has agreed to examine with us the cost of production data which we shall supply at an early date, with a view to ascertaining whether we can reach an understanding on what shall he the elements in the annual price determination. He has also undertaken to consider with his own Government whether that Government wishes us to continue the production of eggs for export to the United Kingdom at the present volume, or whether it requires an increased or a decreased volume. The Minister for Food has undertaken to give me the United Kingdom Government’s view on that aspect as soon as possible. It is a view that we may perhaps discuss when we are informed of it. Secondly, I have arranged that the prior negotiations this year shall be conducted not by the Deputy High Commissioner in London alone, but by him supported by the chairman of the Australian Egg Board and two producer representative? on that board. Thirdly, I have directed the Bureau of Agicultural Economics to conduct a new and comprehensive survey of the whole egg industry including the cost of production so that when these price negotiations commence in London in January and February our negotiators will be armed with the most recent cost of production estimates arrived at, by the most authoritative body in Australia. Requests have been made for a. subsidy on export eggs. That will be considered. a = a matter of policy, by the Government after the factual information to which T have referred is in its possession.
– lt is reported in to-day’s New South Wales press that free milk will be available to school children in New South “Wales from the next school year commencing in 3951. T understand that because of the sparse population of Queensland and because of .the shortage of milk in tha.t ‘State under normal conditions, the Queensland Government will not co-operate in giving -effect to the Australian Government’s free milk scheme. Does this mean that the ‘Queensland taxpayers will be contributing some of their taxes towards the ‘benefit of New South Wales and any other ‘State that comes into the scheme, or will the cost be borne by the benefiting States alone?
– A bill to deal with the distribution of milk to schoolchildren throughout Australia is at present .engaging the attention of the Government. A statement of policy in this matter will be made when the bill is presented to the House.
– I ask the “Postmaster-General “whether it is a fact that, following a1 question asked in this “House by the honorable member for Mallee concerning talks broadcast over the Australian Broadcasting Commis- sion’s network by Professor Macmahon Ball and the statement by the Minister in reply to that question, the Australian Broadcasting Commission Federal Talks
Controller made a long-distance call to Professor Macmahon Ball in an endeavour to persuade him to modify the text of his talk for the ‘ following Sunday? Is it also a fact that ten days ago the Australian Broadcasting Commission -asked Professor Macmahon Ball to prepare a talk on Korea ? Did the professor prepare a talk and was he paid for it, although the talk, was not broadcast? Is it the policy of the Government to impose political censorship on talks broadcast over the radio?
– Any honorable member is entitled to ask questions in this House concerning broadcasting. The function of the Postmaster-General is not to control the Australian Broadcasting
Commission but to ascertain information requested by honorable members, which I did in this instance. I secured the, scripts and made them ‘ available to honorable members who asked to see them. That was the last that I heard of the matter. I have exercised no influence concerning “i broadcasts by Professor Macmahon Ball or by any body else. The matter of arranging talks is entirely in the control of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. However, the chairman of the commission yesterday or this morning made a statement to the press in which he stated that it is the policy of the commission to stagger the broadcasting oi’ talks “by various commentators in order that the public might enjoy a fair variety of opinions. That policy has been determined by the commission. I point our that the Australian Broadcasting Commission consists of persons selected from all political parties. Since I have been Postmaster-General it has been my duty to re-appoint members of the commission, and I had great pleasure in reappointing the president of the Australian Trade? and Labour Council, Mr. Anderson-
– Order ! The Minister is departing from the terms of th* question.
– Whatever has -been done concerning talks to be broadcast by Professor Macmahon Ball has been done with the .-authority of the Australian Broadcasting Commission
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether it is a fact that since the removal of controls on the sale of rice, the Torres Strait pearlers have been unable to obtain supplies of that commodity, which is the* staple diet of their crews? The members of those crews go to sea for long period? in order to dive for pearlshell, which is a dollar earner at the moment. I also ask the Minister whether he has been able to assist in obtaining supplies of rice for the people of Thursday Island ?
– The honorable member for Leichhardt has made representations to me concerning this matter on behalf of his constituents on Thursday Island, and I have had an officer of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture discuss the matter wit1, officials of the Rice Equalization Association. I am glad to he able to inform tin’ honorable member that as a result of tho.=p discussions the Rice Equalization Association has made an arrangement with one of the merchants handling rice to supply in full the needs of the residents of Thursday Island and also to supply the needs of pearling lugger crews.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he can elucidate a puzzle that has been worrying the Australian people for some time. Would the Minister ascertain why it is that although
Australia and Britain are not large growers of tobacco and must import considerable quantities, there is in this country a plentiful supply of imported English cigarettes of all kinds and a shortage of locally manufactured cigarettes? Is it a fact that the English cigarettes are. from 6d. to1s. a packet dearer than local cigarettes?Is the Minister aware of a report to the effect that with the approach of Christmas Australian cigarettes are becoming scarcer? Is it also a fact that the brands of cigarettes imported into this country from England are not known as even popular brands in Great Britain and that they were formerly sold to kaffirs in Africa and coolies in India ?
– I shall refer the honorable member’s question to the Minister for Trade and Customs and obtain the information he has asked for.
– Is it a fact that the State Ministers in charge of prices requested the Prime Minister to reduce the excise duty on tobacco, cigarettes and beer in order to prevent what they claimed would be inevitable increases of the prices of those commodities? When those Ministers made that request did they submit figures which showed the position of the poor, struggling tobacco monopolies’? If so, will the right honorable gentleman make a statement in order to show how unwarranted any increase of those price? would be in view of the profits that the tobacco monopolies are making at present? Will he also give an assurance that the benefit, of any reduction of the excise duty on those commodities - which ought to be effected - shall be passed on to consumers in the form of lower prices and shall not be utilized by the tobacco monopolies andbreweries to increase their profits still further?
– It is quite true that the State Ministers in charge of prices made an application to the Government along the lines that the honorable member has indicated. The Government considered the application and rejected it. I shall examine the relevant files to see whether any information of the kind that the honorable member has requested is available.
-I ask the Minister acting for the Minister for the Interior whether the Government is negotiating with the owners for the re-opening of the large moat and freezing works at Darwin? If so. can he inform the House when it is anticipated that operations will be recommended at those works?’ This matter is of considerable interest to many people in the Northern Territory.
– Recently, I visited Darwin and examined on the spot the project to which the honorable member has referred. I had discussions with the representatives of Vestey’s who were the previous owners of the works, which, in common with all other property in Darwin, is in process of acquisition by the Australian Government as the result of conditions caused by the recent war. The negotiations for the re-opening of the works will be prolonged, and I am not at all optimistic about their outcome in view of the fact that Vestey’s, as a condition for their re-opening, has requested that a railway be constructed at least from Birdum to Newcastle Waters, which is a distance of 150 miles. As steel and other materials that would be required in the construction of the line are in short supply, little prospect exists that it will be constructed. If the line is not, constructed the representatives of Vestey’s are of opinion that the reopening of the works would not be an economic proposition.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. First, I should like to saythatI have received a letter from the
Pastures Protection Board at Coonabarabran which states -
Von ure no doubt aware that external and internal parasites have been causing Coilsiderable losses in the numbers of sheep during the past ten months and the owners of stock ure now finding that they cannot tope with these pests because of the inability of obtaining the dips and drenches which can combat the pests.
The exceptionally wet season has caused an abnormal demand for these drenches which, consequently, are now in short supply. Will the Minister investigate this shortage, particularly as it relates to phenothiazine, nicotine and bluestone, and, if necessary, arrange for the granting of additional licences for the importation of these chemicals?
– The honorable member has informed me of the serious position that has developed in his area due to seasonal conditions, and I have undertaken to have inquiries made to ascertain the position in regard to supplies of phenothiazine, nicotine sulphate and bluestone, which are used as drenches for internal parasites in sheep. I assure the honorable gentleman that if those inquiries show that it is necessary to import supplies of these drugs, which are essential to the health of sheep, there will be no delay in doing so, irrespective of whether they must be obtained from dollar areas.
Fifth ANNUAL Report.
– I lay on the table tho following paper : -
Fifth annual report and financial accounts of the Australian National Airlines Commission for the year ended the 30th June, 10S0.
The report gives a review of traffic and flying operations and staff changes of Trans-Australia Airlines. It is gratifying to note that a first profit of £214,818, or 4.9 per cent, upon capital, has been made.
– Good old socialism !
– I shall deal with any interjections before I proceed with my -Statement.
– Order ! The Minister would be well advised to ignore inter.jections
– This matter may be discussed when the Estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation are under consideration. The profit of £214,81S will be used to meet the payment of interest for the year on Treasury advances at 3j per cent. The remainder will be applied to the reduction of the accumulated deficit of £900,000 of previous years. Copies of the report are available to honorable members.
– Will the Minister move that the paper he printed ?
– That will not be necessary. The matter may be discussed when the Estimates are under consideration.
– I ask the Minister to move that the paper be printed. If he is not prepared to do so, I shall move the motion.
– The effect would be to place another item on the notice-paper, but if Opposition members so desire, I would be prepared to move that the paper be printed.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong would need to give notice of his intention to move such a motion, but I point out that if he places such a motion on the notice-paper, it will preclude any references to the subjectmatter of the paper during the remainder of this session.
– Not if honorable members are given an opportunity to discuss the paper.
– It may be discussed now.
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) will not be in order in carrying on a discussion.
– I have ruled that, the honorable member may not do so. It would not he in accordance with the practice of the House.
– I rise to order. Is it not competent for the Minister to move that a paper be printed ?
– The Minister did not move that it he printed.
– That is correct.
– ‘Will the Minister say whether he moved that the paper be printed ? ‘
– I understood distinctly that the Minister did not submit tb at motion.
– I did not move it.
– The general practice is not being followed on this occasion. I understood that the Minister moved that the paper be printed.
– I did not hear the Minister submit that motion.
– Opposition members thought that he did do so.
– That could not have been the opinion of all honorable members sitting on my left because, as soon as the Minister resumed his seat, the honorable member for Maribyrnong said that he wished to move that the paper be printed, and I pointed out that it would be necessary for him to give notice of his intention to do so. My decision stands.
– Then the Minister has not moved that the paper be printed ?
– Clearly there is a m misapprehension .
– It is a misapprehension, not on the part of the Chair, but on the part of some members of the Opposition.
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) agreed to -
That leave bo given to bring in a bill for an act to provide for the payment, through the Australian Wheat Board, to growers of wheat of a certain season of certain ‘ moneys in the Wheat Prices Stabilization Fund.
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to repeal the Superphosphate Bounty Act 1941.
WOOL (CONTRIBUTORY CHARGE) BILL (No. 1a) 1950.
Motion (by Mr. McEWEN) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for ant act to amend the Wool (Contributory Charge )’ Act (No. 1) 1950, and for other purposes.
WOOL (CONTRIBUTORY CHARGE) BILL (No. 2a) 1950L
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an ant to amend the Wool (Contributory Charge) Act (No. 2) 19.50, and for other purposes.
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Customs Act .1901-1949..
Debate resumed from the 1.9’tB’ October (vide page 1151), on motion by Mr. Fadden -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill provides for increases Of salaries to certain holders of statutory offices. The details of the increases are set out in the First Schedule. As I understand the position from the second-reading speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden), the higherpaid public servants - using that general expression to indicate a very large number of officers - have their salaries fixed by determination of the Public Service Arbitrator and other authorities. They have been granted very substantial increases recently. The margins previously existing between the salaries of those officers of the Public Service and the holders of statutory offices have thereby contracted considerably. In some instances they have quite disappeared, or threaten to disappear. This bill is addressed to that problem. As honorable members will see, the offices affected are set out in the second column of the First Schedule to the bill. Provision is made for increases of the salaries of justices of the High Court, the Chief”
Conciliation Commissioner and concilia tion commissioners, the Chief Judge and judges of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, the Judge of the Federal Court of Bankruptcy, the -Judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, the Public Service Arbitrator, the Auditor-General - who hold a very important office indeed - the chairman and members of the Public Service Board, the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, the Commissioner of Land Tax, and the Assistant Commissioner of Land Tax. The acts amended are set out in the first column of the First Schedule.
Subject to one or two observations, the Opposition will not oppose the passage of the bill. My first observation concerns a point that has been raised by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) in connexion with the salaries of the territorial judges. Judge Wells, of the Northern Territory, and, I think, two judges in New Guinea and Papua, are not covered by this hill, for the reason that their salaries are not fixed by statute, but by executive determination. I submit to the Minister for External Territories that there should be no discrimination between the Judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory and the judges of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, merely because of the complete separation of administration.
– I promise to look into the matter immediately.
– The other observation is largely covered by what I have alreadysaid about the elimination of margins. During and immediately after the war, some of our most efficient officers left the’ Public Service because private industry offered much higher remuneration than the’ salaries payable to the holders of statutory offices, or to the holders of high positions in the Public Service. Undoubtedly Australia lost men of very great ability from the Public Service. By way of illustration I refer to the former head of the Department of Supply, Mr. A. V. Smith and the former Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs, Mr. McVey, who rendered almost invaluable service to Australia during the war. Private undertakings were able to offer them salaries out of all proportion to the salaries that they received in the Public Service. The Chifley Government took this situation into , consideration and completely re-cast the salary scales of the highest officers of the Public Service. Furthermore, as I have pointed out, the Public Service Arbitrator, Mr. Castieau, has granted substantial increases to other high officers of the Public Service. The payment of the officers with which this bill deals should be in accordance with the supreme importance of the duties that they perform. For that reason the Opposition accepts the bill.
Mr. KENT HUGHES (Chisholm)
Tll.46]. - I waa greatly interested in the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), and especially in his complaint that private organizations had stolen some of the best officers of the Public Service by offering them higher salaries. As one who has recently had experience in a State sphere of government, I remind the right honorable gentleman that, for years past, successive Australian governments have been pinching the best State officers by offering them higher salaries as an inducement to join the Commonwealth Public Service. At the same time, because Australian governments have refused to review to the degree that would be warranted by circumstances the financial relationship between the Commonwealth and the States, the governments of the States have not been in a position to pay their officers salaries that would be commensurate with those that are paid by the Commonwealth. I do not oppose this bill. The Parliament is the determining authority in relation to the appointment and remuneration of the officers who are referred to in the First Schedule.
However, I direct attention to the fact that the Commonwealth Treasury . will obtain a very handsome profit from the proposed salary increase, whereas every State treasury will sustain a considerable liability.
– I shall explain. If the salaries of the officers who are specified in the First Schedule are to be increased by £500 a year each, the State governments will be obliged to grant similar increases to officers employed in comparable positions in their services. Let us assume that a Justice of the High Court of Australia will pay income tax at the rate of 10s. in the £1. The rate may be higher; certainly it will not be lower. On that scale, £250 of the £500 increase will be returned to the Treasury in the form of income tax. On a business basis, that means that the Australian Government will have to pay each Justice of the High Court only £250 a year net as the result of the salary increase. However, if the Government of Victoria decides that’ it must increase the salaries of its judiciary accordingly and raises the salary of each of its six Supreme Court judges by £500 a. year, the Commonwealth Treasury will receive £250 a year out of each of those increments in the form of income tax. Thus, the Commonwealth’s budget will be balanced immediately in respect of the increases it pays. If every State Government emulates the example of the Australian Government, the Commonwealth Treasury will receive a handsome profit from the general revision of the salaries of judges.
– That is true.
– Yes, but it is not generally recognized. Unless State governments are granted additional funds by the Australian Government, they will not be able to raise the salaries of their officers to levels commensurate with those which this bill will provide for officers of the Commonwealth. This sort of thing has been going on for years. All honorable members agree that it is wrong, but no Australian government has ever done anything about it. I am now trying to put the matter from the point of view of the States, and I am asking the Government to note the effect of such increases on the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States. If it is right to raise salaries in- the Commonwealth service, it is right to raise them in the State services, and the States should be given sufficient money to enable that to be done.
– The injustice of this bill can be summed up by saying that it is an example of one law for the rich and another for the poor. The Government proposes to increase the salaries of highly paid judges and public servants by £10 a week and to make the increases retrospective to the 1st July, last, whereas age and invalid pensioners
– Order ! The honorablemember may not discuss age pensions. This bill provides for increasing certain salaries.
– I am seeking to discover why the Government, which proposes to increase by £10 a week the salaries of persons who are receiving from £2,000 to £4,000 a year, should make the increases retrospective to the 1st July, is treating other sections of the community differently. Ministers may say that the Labour Government did the same thing, but it is a poor commentary upon the present Government if it must defend itself by saying that the previous Government did no better. The Government stands condemned in the eyes of the people for failing to make retrospective the increases of 7s. 6d. a week payable to one section of the community, while making retrospective to the 1st July increases paid to its friends, the judges, and other highly paid persons.
-Order ! The honorable member must not refer to judges as the friends of any one.
.- The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) has rightly questioned the decision of the Government to make retrospective to the 1st J July last increases payable to persons affected by this bill, while refusing to make retrospective the increases payable to pensioners. The honorable member’s remarks were pertinent, and the question raised by him is one that a great many people are asking. Why should the increase of £10 a week payable to judges and highly paid civil servants be retrospective to the 1st July last, while pension increases were operative from the 1st November only? We are entitled to an explanation from the Government.
In a general way, I suppose a majority of the people recognize that members of the judiciary must be paid enough to enable them to maintain their status in relation to other persons, and above all, to place them beyond the possibility of corruption, so that the public may have absolute confidence in them. I have the highest regard for the judiciary, and for the higher paid public servants. We can safely say that, irrespective of the government that appointed them, or the government in power, members of the judiciary, whether in the higher or lower jurisdiction, endeavour to perform their -duties in accordance with their oath of office. They are subject to ordinary limitations because they are human beings, just as we are, but I think that we can congratulate ourselves in Australia that our judiciary has always been above reproach. Whatever decisions they may make, they are made honestly and if there is any fault to be found with them it may perhaps be due to the general outlook or upbringing of the person concerned.
It is true that the salaries proposed for the higher paid civil servants seem very large when compared with the basic wage, but this is a competitive world and these men are really only receiving salaries equal to those which the managers of haberdashery departments in the large city emporiums receive. No one would suggest that the chairman of the Public Service Board who controls a staff of 20,000 and an organization which is larger than any private organization in Australia should receive the salary that is paid to the manager of a department in an emporium. If he were managing a private concern of the same size such as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited he would receive £1.6,000, not £4,000 a year. Unfortunately, because of that fact, it is necessary to pay salaries as large as those set out in the bill. Labour governments have increased the. salaries of these people because they had to keep persons with ability in the Public Service. Honorable members of the Opposition would prefer that there should be less difference between higher and lower incomes than there is. We should prefer the lower incomes to be higher and the higher incomes to be lower, but if the Public Service does not pay salaries large enough to keep men with brains private enterprise will offer them salaries considerably higher than those provided for in this bill. The nation’s business is the most important in the community and people with brains and ability must he placed in charge of it.
The Government has equalized incomes to a large extent by means of taxation which will reduce considerably the increase of £500 in the salaries of the judges but the Government should recognize that the higher incomes are unfortunately tending in the same direction as those in the United States of America. I do not think that that is a desirable feature. Whilst we must always be prepared to reward brains, ability and initiative by paying adequate salaries to those people who are able to maintain our industries and operate our government organizations, we must take care to ensure that the discrepancy between their salaries and those of the rest of the community does not become as great as it has become in the United States, and thereby set up a privileged, wealthy class which can impose its will on the rest of the community. In some cases, American executives receive hundreds of thousands of dollars per annum and are able to become millionaires in a few years. That kind of discrepancy between incomes would not be desirable in Australia. Whilst the people who carry the burden and tremendous responsibility of high positions should be adequately rewarded we should not let our heads go too far in that direction. We should not allow these people to take all the cream off the milk. Whilst some one must be at the head of affairs, there must also be some one below to be directed and to do the hard work. They too are entitled to recognition when increased remunerations are being granted. I do not blame the age pensioner who,’ upon receiving his increase of 7s. 6d. a week, looks at this measure and says “ After all, I am only to receive 7s. 6d. Here is somebody, already on £2,500 a year, who is to receive an increase of £10 a week.”
– Order ! The honorable member must not try to evade my ruling in that way.
– Surely honorable members are entitled to discuss the views of people outside the Parliament.
– No. This measure is for discussion by members inside the Parliament.
– There are many members of this Parliament who consider that the salary increases proposed in this measure are very large compared with the small increases that have been granted to invalid and age pensioners.
– Order! I have already ruled that pensions may not be discussed on this measure. If the honorable member continues in his present vein I shall ask him to resume his seat.
– Well, Mr. Chairman, since we cannot discuss-
– Order ! The honorable member shall not address me as “ Mr. Chairman “.
– I shall pass on to afurther point. We should not let our heads go too far when granting salary increases to people already in receipt of high incomes. We should not lose sight of the needs of the underdog. I recall that when salary cuts were being made in Victoria under the Premiers plan, certain individuals, while urging vigorously that the remunerations of basic wage earners, pensioners, and others in the lower income brackets should be cut-
– Order ! The honorable member cannot get round my ruling in that way either. I ask him to confine himself to the debate on the bill.
– I am questioning the proposed increases of the salaries of the judiciary on the ground that the individuals whom I have mentioned in Victoria, while advocating salary cuts for every one else, steadfastly refused to accept reductions of their own salaries.
– Order ! Those matters have nothing to do with the bill. They affect the State of Victoria.
– Having said that, I do not propose to detain the House further, except to emphasize again that whilst the Government should be willing to pay adequately the men of intelligence and ability who direct the affairs of the nation, and whilst it is necessary to pay high salaries to members of the judiciary to shield them against any taint of corruption, we should also remember the vast number of other people in the community whose living standard must fee maintained.
.- I had not intended to speak on this measure because, in common with most other honorable members, I had hoped that it would command general support in the House. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) gave the measure hia blessing although, I must admit, with; some slight qualifications here and there ; but no sooner had he sat down, than a division of opinion among honorable member opposite - not an unusual occurrence in this chamber - was- revealed. Apparently the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue); and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) do not share the enlightened view of their Deputy Leader. Little can be gained by comparing the very modest increases provided in this measure with the increased1 remunerations of other groups in the community. The answer to the honorable member for Yarra, as I see it, is that the work performed by justices of the High Court, and justices and judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, theBankruptcy Court, and other jurisdictions, and by senior public servants, is of very much greater importance to the community, and of greater significance to the people of Australia than, for instance, the plight of pensioners and other groups, of individuals. I hope that the remarks that I have just made will not be misrepresented or misconstrued. Honorable members on this side of the chamber are just as sympathetic, and just as conversant, with the plight of pensioners as are honorable meinbei’3 opposite, but no man in his senses would suggest that the economic and social functions of a pensioner are as important as those of a justice of the High Court.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman may not embark upon any discussion of pensions.
– It may be pertinent, to direct the attention of the House to the emoluments paid to judges in other countries, particularly in the United Kingdom..
This measure proposes to increase the salaries of justices of the High Court by £500 a year so as to bring them to £4,500 a year. I point out that the Lord Chief Justice of England receives a salary of £8,000 a year. The Master of the Rolls, who is a slightly lesser dignitary, receives £6,000 a year, and the judges of the Chancery and King’s Bench Divisions receive salaries of £5,000 a year. Those -.Maries are considerably higher than are the salaries of the holders of most judicial offices in this country.
– And the salaries of the English judges are paid by a socialist government.
Mi-. DOWNER.- And they have been increased by a. socialist government. The honorable member for Yarra certainly talked sound sense when he mentioned the necessity for paying our judges and senior public servants attractive salaries in order to retain their services. It should ‘he a matter of common knowledge that barristers of the legal stature of justices of the High Court, and even of judges of lesser courts, earn perhaps twice as much at the bar as is paid by way of salary to the occupants of these judicial offices. A similar comment applies to the salaries of our senior public servants, of whom there are not many. As the honorable gentleman said, we must pay them well if we hope to retain, their services. It is no exaggeration to say that if some of them chose to resign from the Public Service in order to seek advancement in commerce, industry and other spheres they would earn considerably more than the amount that they will receive even when their salaries have been inc rea:ed by this legislation.
In conclusion, I point out that the in- crease of £500 a year which is proposed for the holders of most of the offices mentioned in the bill i<< meagre compared with the increase of the parliamentary allowance introduced by members of the present Opposition when Labour was in office, and it ill becomes them to attack this legislation. At that time they were very quick to feather their own nests and to advance their own interests.
.- As the humble representative of a working class electorate may I be pardoned for mentioning my opposition to the proposal to increase the salaries of the august gentleman who occupy judicial positions on the High Court and other Commonwealth courts ? I think that the disparity between the amount of the increase proposed to be paid to those gentlemen, together with the proposal to give them a generous “ hand out “ by making the increase retrospective, and the amount of the paltry increase of the age pension, which will not he retrospective for nearly so lengthy a period, calls for comment. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) has lauded the judges to the skies and has said that they are much more important to the community than are the producers.
– I said that the judges are more important to our economic life than are the pensioners.
– The honorable gentleman mentioned the age pensioners-
-Order ! I will not permit a debate on age pensions.
– I am sorry that I cannot mention the plight of the age pensioners, although apparently it was quite in order for the honorable member for Angas to do so.
– Order ! I prevented the honorable member for Angas from discussing age pensioners, and I will not permit any other honorable member to do so.
– I think that the disparity between the proposed increases of 7s. 6d. a week for age pensioners and £500 a year for justices of the High Court-
– Order ! If the honorable gentleman tries to evade my ruling I shall ask him to resume his seat.
– I was merely en,A ………4 … to point out that the high opinion held by the honorable member for Angas of the judges and the tall poppies in the Public Service, who, we are told, do untold good for the country and are most important, is not shared by all members of the Parliament. After all, the performances of some of the judges, particularly of the judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court during the recent basic wage inquiry-
-Order ! The honorable gentleman must not discuss the actions of any judges in the debate on this bill. ‘ I will not permit any reference to be made to the actions of judges in the course of the debate on a measure such as that now before the Chair. The Constitution provides that actions of judges may be discussed only on a motion to remove them from their office.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, but I think that as an elected representative of the people I may be pardoned for having cast aspersions on the members of the courts. Whoever was responsible for having initiated the ruling that an elected representative of the people must bow his knee to any judge or public servant did not have much respect for the people’s representatives. I think that the proposal to make the increases to these people designated in the bill - if I may bring them down to a lower level for a moment by referring to them as “ people “ - is outrageous. The amount of the proposed increase exceeds the worth of many of the individuals concerned. I suppose that I could pat these august gentlemen on the back without being called to order, because laudatory comments are apparently admissible-
– Order ! I will not permit the honorable gentleman either to criticize or to praise members of the judiciary.
– At least it is refreshing to hear that we cannot praise them. Nevertheless, I have my opinion about those gentlemen, all of whom are not praiseworthy: The decisions made by some of them during the last twelve months, in consequence of which the community was thrown into disorder-
-Order! I have already ruled that the honorable gentleman must not discuss the actions of the judges.
– Since I cannot say any more about them I shall sit down. However, before doing so, I record my protest against the proposal to make the increase proposed in this measure retrospective. In view of the fact that the ‘Government has decided to make only a paltry increase of 7s. 6d. a week to the miserable pittance paid to age pensioners I think that the proposal is outrageous
.- The discussion that has taken place on the bill has emphasized the substantial difference that exists between the nominal and the real recompense of our judges and public servants, and I think that it is high time that honorable members recognized that difference. The honorable member for Chisholm (Mr. Kent Hughes) pointed out most forcefully that the real effect of the increases proposed in this bill will be that judges and senior officers will receive only approximately half the nominal value of their salaries. The remainder will be absorbed by taxes imposed by the Government and used for the provision of social services and other benefits to the less fortunate sections of the community. Opposition members should not try to mislead the public about a bill of this description. What concerns the persons whose salaries are to be increased, and the public generally, is the real value of those increased salaries. Recently I conducted a private public opinion poll among a number of wageearners employed in factories and I was amazed to ascertain that 75 per cent, of them regarded their real wages not as the amount fixed by the relevant award but as the amount which they received after income tax had been deducted. Most of those in the lower income group regard their real wage as the amount which they receive in their weekly or fortnightly pay envelopes. Considered from that stand-point the real salaries which will be received by the holders of the statutory offices covered by this bill will represent only one-half of the nominal salaries now proposed.
– The same principle applies to the wage-earner.
– That is so, but I remind the honorable member that the tax imposed on persons in the higher income groups is on a very much higher scale than is that imposed on those in the lower income groups. That, I agree, is a very sound principle of taxation, but it is grossly unfair for Opposition members to try to mislead the people into believing that the holders of the statutory offices covered by the bill will receive the full amount of the new nominal salary fixed when, in fact, they will not receive more than one-half of it.
If the Commonwealth is to secure the services of the most competent men for appointment to high judicial and executive positions it must be prepared to pay them salaries which are commensurate with the salaries paid to those who occupy the highest executive posts in other walks of life. It would be tragic if we lost the services of members of the judiciary and of top ranking public servants because the Commonwealth would not pay them salaries at least as attractive as they would be able to command if they were employed in industry and commerce. Every member of this House is delighted to know that the improved economic position of this country has enabled the whole range of salaries and wages of workers generally to be increased. The basic wage now stands at the highest level it has ever reached in the history of the Commonwealth. A high basic wage has been fixed by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court because the judges of that court have held that the economic position of Australia is sufficiently sound to justify its payment. If the economic position of the country has justified the granting of the largest increase of the basic wage in our history, I suggest that it also justifies the payment to the members of the judiciary and highly placed public servants salaries commensurate with the remuneration which they would receive if they were employed in other walks of life.
I agree with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) that this bill must be supported by every honorable member who has a sense of responsibility, just as enthusiastically as he supported the recent decision of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to increase the basic wage. “We must remember the fact that the judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, whose salaries are to be increased by this hill, are charged with very grave responsibilities. In one single judgment the court may involve the country in the .payment of several hundreds of millions of pounds in additional wages and salaries. It has to determine whether or not the economy of the country can stand a higher basic wage. The judges of the court should be adequately compensated for the graveresponsibilities which they have toshhoulder. The salaries fixed for them must be sufficient to attract to the court men of the highest calibre. If second or. third rate men were appointed to such, positions the economy of this countrymight be completely wrecked. 1 support this bill as wholeheartedly as I supported earlier legislation covering v increases of age and invalid pensions, and as I have invariably supported the decisions of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in relation to the basic wage. All increases of salaries and wages must bekept in proper balance. It is the responsibility of the judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to preserve that proper balance. The justices of the High Court are charged with the important responsibility of administering the law of the land and they, too, should be adequately remunerated. It is our proud boast that the judiciary is held in the highest regard by every person in the community. If, through any circumstance, the people lost their confidence in the impartiality of the members of the judiciary, the rule of law would go and the establishment of a dictatorship would be inevitable. In Germany, one of the first actions of the Hitler dictatorship was completely to destroy the impartiality of the judiciary by making the members of the judiciary rubber stamp the decisions of the dictatorship. If the respect of the ordinary man for the judiciary is to be retained we must choose for appointment to judicial positions only men of the very highest calibre. It is our proud boast that we have always done so in the past. Appointees to the High Court, the Supreme Courts and the Commonwealth Arbitration Court have invariably been ornaments to their profession and highly skilled in the administration of the law. If we are to maintain that position and obtain the best men, then we must see that they shall be paid salaries commensurate with the huge responsibilities that rest upon their shoulders.
.- I do not intend to oppose the measure, but I shall deal with several matters that arise from it. I recognize that in order that the Government may secure, and retain, the services of men of outstanding ability in the higher positions of the Commonwealth Public Service, it is necessary for it. to pay salaries that are commensurate with the importance of the work to be performed. When such salaries are being assessed consideration must be given to the salaries that are paid in private employment for work of a nature comparable with that performed by the topranking officers of. the service. I consider that for a long time, in both the Commonwealth Public Service and the public services of the States, salaries generally have not been commensurate with the value of the work performed. I have seen many instances of that fact. During the last few years the Commonwealth Public Service has lost some of its most brilliant men to private industry, which offered them higher salaries than they had been- receiving for their work in the service of the Commonwealth. I know of men who had distinguished records in the Commonwealth Public Service having resigned from it to take up positions in private industry at salaries that were approximately three times as high as the salaries that the Commonwealth had paid them. In some instances such men took up positions in private industry which required less work, concentration and ability than were required in the positions that they had occupied in the service.
The honorable member for Chisholm (Mr. Kent Hughes) has said that legislation of this kind will do a disservice to the State governments. He stated that the Australian Government had, in the past, in effect stolen some of the best officials of the State public services, because it had been able to offer better positions with higher salaries. The honorable member referred to Victoria in particular. He said that this legislation would < possibly rob the Victorian Public Service of its best men. and that it might send the Victorian Government into bankruptcy because it would have to try to pay its public servants higher salaries so as to be in a position to compete with the Commonwealth. I remind the honorable member that uniform taxation, to which he was, I take it, alluding, is not the real cause of the drift from the Victorian Public Service- or from the public: services of other States. That drift was in evidence for a number of years before the system of uniform taxation was introduced. I know that when Victoria had full taxing power it was the boast of successive Victorian governments that Victoria was the least-taxed State in. the Commonwealth. But it was also a fact that Victorian public servants were the lowest-paid public servants in the Commonwealth. Although that position has been improved it is still somewhat similar to what it was in the past. We cannot blame either the increase of the salaries of Commonwealth public servants,, on uniform taxation, for the drift to the Commonwealth Public Service of State employees.
I welcome the proposed increases because I believe that salaries throughout the Commonwealth Public Service should be increased. In order to achieve a general levelling up of salaries it is necessary, first, to increase the salaries of the men at the top, and then progressively to increase the salaries of the lower paid employees. The result of such general increases will be to make employment in the service more attractive than it is at present, and so ease the difficulties that have been experienced for some years with respect to the recruitment of staff.
The Commonwealth Public. Service Arbitrator is to receive, under the measure, a reasonable increase of salary, to which I have no objection. Members of the Commonwealth Public Service Board are also to receive increases of salaries amounting to £500 a year each. I have no objection to that proposal, because I believe that the work that those gentlemen perform entitles, them to such increases. If we compared their salaries with the salaries obtainable in private industry for comparable work we should come to the conclusion that even with the proposed increase of £500, they will still be underpaid.
It is our responsibility to ensure that the top-ranking men of the service shall be paid reasonable salaries, but we should go further and ensure that employees right throughout the service shall be similarly treated, so that we shall have contented and adequately paid public servants. I direct the attention of the Souse to the fact that not many months ago awards of the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator were tabled in this House. One of them increased the marginal rates for postmen by £12 per annum. The catch about that increase was that the award contained a provision which meant that in a large number of instances postmen had to wait for five years before they would receive it. That system should be altered. At the same time an award was tabled with respect to mail officers.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman is not entitled to develop argument on those points in this debate.
– I merely intended to mention those matters in passing and only by way of illustration. My intention was to point out that after increasing salaries at the top we could progressively increase them right down the scale. Under the award that I have mentioned mail officers were granted an increase of £36 per annum, but because of a provision in the award some of them will have to wait for ten years ‘before they will receive the increase. The passage of this bill should be the first step towards increasing Public Service salaries generally, so that they shall compare favorably with the salaries paid to employees in similar positions in private industry. Our public servants almost invariably receive lower rates of salary than are received by persons who occupy similar positions in private industry. I hope that the Government will give consideration, after this bill has been passed, to the matter of having a general levelling-up of PUblic Service salaries to ensure that all public servants, particularly those on the low salary ranges, shall receive payments that will be commensurate with the value of the work that they perform.
– I am very substantially in agreement with some of the views expressed by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson). I agree with him that it is necessary to preserve a fair and decent level of salaries for highranking public servants in order to retain in the service men of the requisite ability and status. History provides us with an interesting study in this regard. The first item in the first schedule concerns the salaries of the judiciary. The process by which the salaries of members of the judiciary have been increased is typical of the general process. What I have to say regarding that item may apply equally to the other items in the schedule. According to that item, the salary of the Chief Justice of the High Court is to be raised from £4,500 a year to £5,000 a year, an increase of £500 a year. If honorable members will refer to the schedule to the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Bill 1950, passed by this House last night, they will see that upon such an increase something more than 150d. in the £1 is payable as direct income tax. Therefore, the effective increase of the salary of the Chief Justice will be a little under £200 a year.
It is interesting to consider the provisions of the original act, passed by this House in 1903, which, under the Constitution, set up the High Court of Australia. Section 47 of that act, the Judiciary Act 1903, provides -
There shall be payable to the Chief Justice a salary at the rate of three thousand five hundred pounds a year . . .
Upon studying the Commonwealth YearBook for 1903, I found that no Commonwealth income tax was levied at that time, hut that the States were levying income tax at various rates, generally about 6d. in the £1. Therefore, after paying income tax, the Chief Justice of 1903 had left to him £3,400. By referring to the cost-of-living figures, one finds that the cost of living to-day is approximately three times what it was in 1903. The “ C “ series index is incomplete, hut there are other overlapping series which enable us to trace the cost of living back from the present to 1903. That examination can he made with reasonable accuracy. According to that investigation, a salary which to-day i3 approximately £1,500 would have stood at £500 in 1903. In other words, the cost of living has risen to three times its 1903 standard.
– Would that affect the pensioners?
– No pension was paid by the Australian Government in 1903. In that year, as I have said, the coat of living was about onethird of the present cost of living. Therefore, the Chief Justice, after paying taxation, would have had an effective salary of about £10,500, according to the present value of money. To-day, he has a salary of £5,000, out of which he pays approximately £2,000 in income tax. Therefore, instead of having the equivalent of £10/500 in 1903, he to-day, in terms of purchasing power, has left to him something like £3,000. Since 1903, in spite of the last increase given to the Chief Justice, we have taken away about two-thirds of his effective salary. I do not say whether that is right or wrong, but I am. putting before the House figures which are incontrovertible. “What I have said in regard to the first item of the first schedule can be said also about the other salaries mentioned in the schedule which have a long history. Therefore, although I agree with much of what the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) said, I think that he made other statements in ignorance of the amount that has been taken from the salaries of those who occupy the top positions in the country. In the last 45 years the Chief Justice has lost two-thirds of his effective salary. That is a 66 per cent, effective cut in terms of purchasing power. That conclusion is based upon the incontrovertible figures that I have put before the House, but I draw no moral at all from what. has happened. I remind the House that substantially similar things have happened in regard to the salaries of the other high officers who are named in this schedule. I am sorry that time will not permit me to go through the list in detail.
I remind the House of the matters mentioned by the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson). If one is to have incorrupt and carefree administration at the top-
– “ Carefree “ is right.
– Yes, it is most important that the persons holding the top offices of this country should not be weighed down by care which might prevent the effective discharge of the duties of those offices. As the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson) has said, it is important to the Government and to the nation that its business should be effectively transacted. While it is important that in these top offices we should have those features which the honorable member for Sturt has mentioned, I believe that there is also some substance in the remarks of the honorable member for Wills. I believe that effective margins ‘ could be carried down not only through the top salaries but also right throughout the service. I know that here I am venturing on matter that is perilously close to being out of order, but I desire to make only passing reference to it. I believe that we, in this House, throughout all our legislation, should keep in mind the principle of effective margins not only for officers at the top but also for officers lower down the scale.
The factor that has contributed most to the lack of industrial efficiency at the present time is the abolition of the effective margins of middle income earners. These margins have been squeezed out between the upper millstone of rising costs of living and the nether millstone of rates of taxation. We need to preserve the effective margins of officers in the middle income groups, and it seems to me that it would be well that when the court considers raising the basic wage it should also consider raising the margins, which should express something beyond and above the basic wage and which should be maintained effectively in terms of purchasing power. While it is not true that the man lower down the income scale has suffered a loss of effective margins to anything like the same degree as that suffered by the Chief Justice, who has lost two-thirds of his effective income since 1903, I believe that he has suffered to some degree. Honorable members in this House, so far as it lies within their province and not within the province of the court - and this House must be careful to keep within its cwn province - should legislate and act wherever possible to preserve throughout the community the effective margins of which I have spoken. I have taken the illustration of the salary of the Chief Justice from the top group of officers, but I do not want the J House to think that
I believe that the principle of which I have spoken should be confined to the top.
Although I cannot support all the remarks of the honorable member for Wills, I find myself in substantial agreement with some of them.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Finally, I say that the House should pay attention to the principles put forward by the honorable member for Chisholm (Mr. Kent Hughes). The implications contained in the remarks of the honorable member for Chisholm should not he lost upon the House. The honorable member remarked that, whereas this bill adds a little to Commonwealth expenditure, a great deal of that expenditure will be recouped directly by means of income tax. He also stated that if similar increases were to be granted by the State governments, the increased yield in income tax to the Commonwealth could be greater than the. actual Commonwealth expenditure. The Commonwealth could be a net gainer of income, whereas, the State governments would receive none of the additional income and would be required to bear all the additional outgoing. They would, therefore, be net losers. That is a relatively unimportant principle in connexion with this bill, but its extension into other fields might be of considerable importance. For example, it is probable that the recent increase of the basic wage, measured over twelve months, will add nearly £20,000,000 a year to Commonwealth revenue, hut at the same time it will add considerably to the outgoings of the States. I think that it is fairly well established that that is a position which needs to be remedied. My view is that it should not be remedied by ad hoc grants of an extra £1,000,000 here and an extra £1,000,000 there. It is a position which affects the fundamental relationship of Commonwealth and State finances and can only be remedied by a complete consideration of the problems involved.
– The only section of the community with which we are interested at the moment is that which has its salaries fixed directly by act of Parliament. When the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson) was speaking, he referred to the levelling of all Public Service salaries. I cannot see how this bill will have any effect upon the levelling of salaries of other persons in the Public Service, for the simple reason that the salaries that are not fixed by statute are fixed by the award of an arbitration authority, a public service commissioner, or some other authority. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) also dealt with that aspect, but I cannot see how it comes into the picture.
I was interested in the remarks of the honorable member for Chisholm (Mr. Kent Hughes), during which he stated that, as the Australian Government proposes to increase certain salaries by £500 a year, the State governments will be compelled to do likewise, and the net gain to the Commonwealth by way of taxes would he greater than the increases granted by this bill. If that is so, it seems to me that the Australian Government is somewhat lax in increasing the salaries by only £500 instead of £2,000 a year, because if it adopted the latter figure it would collect very much more revenue in income tax. When the ordinary man employed in industry learns that by act of Parliament the Chief Justice of the High Court is to receive an increase of £500 a year, his natural reaction will be to ask why that gentleman, on such a substantial salary, should receive a large annual increase. The honorable member for Mackellar dealt with some of the aspects with which I had intended to deal, but I have taken out some figures which indicate that the net increase of salary will not be £500 a year. I appreciate that the wives of men in such positions sometimes have incomes of their own, so that deductions for income tax purposes are not allowable, but let us take, as an example, the Chief Justice of the High Court. If he is not in receipt of income other than salary, of the £500 increase he will receive a net £200. Three hundred pounds will go in taxes. On the additional £500 a year he will pay income tax at the rate of approximately 12s. 8d. in the £1. The justices of the High Court, on a slightly lower salary, will pay 12s. in the £1 on their increased sr.la.ry. The Assistant Commissioner of
Land Tax, whose salary is to be increased from £2,250 to £2,750, will pay approximately 8s. in the £1 in income tax on the additional £500 a year. Honorable members will therefore see that there has been a measure of justice in the allocation of the increases, because the man on the bigger salary will certainly pay a greater proportion of the increase by way of income tax.
I agree with statements made by some honorable members on the Government side of the House that this matter should bf. viewed not altogether as an increase of already substantial salaries, but in the light of whether we wish to obtain for the community the ‘best available men for appointment as justices of the High Court and similar high public positions. The future filling of those positions must also be kept in mind. Vacancies are inevitable, if not because of effluxion of time, then because of effluxion of life. Although I consider that the honorable member for Mackellar presented a somewhat exaggerated version of the purchasing power of the salaries under discussion, 1 agree with him that when we desire to make an appointment to the highest office in our judicial system we should endeavour to make that office attractive to the man with the greatest ability. If one considers the incomes that may be earned by the most flourishing members of the legal profession to-day, it will be appreciated that the salaries with which we are dealing may not be ultra-attractive to them, and -that it may be difficult to persuade them to relinquish their practices in order to accept judgeships.
– Cabinet Ministers must bo the most poorly paid men in the world !
– A Cabinet Minister may earn additional income, but a judge has not that opportunity. I think that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) will agree with that. Some Cabinet Ministers apply all their time to their ministerial duties, whilst others have nice sidelines from which they are able to earn additional money. One might say that even if Cabinet Ministers were considered to be entitled to receive increases of their salaries, perhaps such increases would not be worth while as they would merely involve Ministers in the payment of a substantial increase of tax.
However, to argue along those lines in respect of increases of salaries of occupants of statutory offices is merely to put up an Aunt Sally. This matter must be viewed, not merely from the viewpoint of the individuals concerned, but also from the broader stand-point that salaries that are payable to occupants of such offices’ should be adequate having regard to the qualifications required to carry out the duties of those offices. Those salaries should be sufficiently attractive to induce those who are best qualified to accept such positions. When a person must undergo a vital operation he obtains the services of the best surgeon that he can afford to engage. That is plain common sense. We should approach the fixation of salaries of holders of statutory offices in the same way.
The main objection of the Opposition to this measure is that payment of the proposed increases is to be made retrospectively to the 1st July last whereas,, the Government has provided that increases of benefits to be granted to other sections of the community shall be paid only from the date of the introduction or passage of the relevant measures. Members of the Opposition feel very keenly about that differentiation. If it is not possible for the Government to make retrospective the payment of increases of benefits or of salaries in the lower ranges on which large numbers of people depend for their very subsistence, why should it make the payment of increases of salaries of the magnitude with which we are now dealing retrospective for many months? No doubt the Minister who replies to this debate will give a plausible answer to that objection. Nevertheless, the Opposition believes that in that respect those in the lower ranges of income should be treated as favorably as those in the higher ranges of income, and that the Government should not merely say, in effect, to the former, “ You will receive your increase of salary or benefit only as from the date theParliament passes the necessary legislation “.
The honorable member for Chisholm’ complained that the Australian Government was throwing a hurden upon the State governments by offering highersalaries to State public servants in order to attract them to the Commonwealth Public Service. That tendency is not confined to competition between governments for public servants. Indeed, the honorable member himself was enticed to leave the Victorian Parliament in order to take a seat in this Parliament. The fact of the matter is that men who are imbued with altruistic motives recognize that they will have greater opportunities to render service in public life in as members of the national legislature. At the same time, many persons would be unkind enough to say that the honorable member for Chisholm left the State Parliament to enter this Parliament in order to get more for himself. The tendency to which the honorable member referred is apparent in many spheres. When the federation was formed the Australian Government poached many officers of the South Australian Parliament. . However, higher salaries are not always the only factor that attracts State public servants to the Commonwealth Public Service. The average public servant is also keenly alive to the fact that the Commonwealth Public Service offers greater opportunities for a career. I advise the honorable member for ‘Chisholm to be wary when he talks about the possibility that State governments will have to be recouped for the additional expenditure that they are forced to incur in increasing the salaries of their public servants in order to retain them in the face of competition by the Commonwealth. When the Parliament increased the salaries of members from £1,000 to £1,500 a year it did so on the ground that the purchasing power of the £1 to-day is much less than it was when the salaries of members were fixed at the lower figure. On that basis alone the adjustments of salaries of occupants of statutory offices that are proposed under this measure can be more than justified.
Mr. CHARLES RUSSELL (Maranoa) 2.34’. - I support the bill in principle. Indeed, I am surprised that any objection should be raised to it. The fact that the proposed increases are to apply to a limited number of high public servants does not lessen the justification for the bill. T commend the Government for having introduced it. In order to obtain the services of the most highly qualified indi viduals the Government has no option but to provide salaries that are comparable with those that are paid outside the Public Service. Otherwise, it will not obtain the services of men of the calibre that it must obtain for positions of such importance as are those to which the bill relates. Indeed, the Government should offer more attractive salaries for the highest positions in the various departments and statutory offices and economize by reducing the number of rank and file public servants. Prior to the war, excluding members of the armed services and teachers, approximately 2 per cent, of the working population of this country was employed in the Public Service. The figure now is 4 per cent. If it were reduced to 2 per cent., over 100,000 persons would he released to industry.
The real cause of the present increases of prices is over-employment. The increases will not be checked until overemployment has been reduced and the Government has ceased to compete with private industry for its employees. One of the best contributions that the Government could make to the stabilization of our economy would be to put some of its redundant employees into the reservoir of employment. This country is getting back to a free economy. In a free economy, under the pressure of demand, the price of labour must continually increase. The price of labour in this country is increasing because the demand for labour exceeds the supply. The over-demand for labour has been caused largely by the policy of encouraging the establishment of more secondary industries than the economy of the country can justify and by maintaining a swollen Public Service. Until the pressure caused by over-employment is reduced, prices will continue to rise.
I believe that this measure is fully justified owing -to the rising cost of living. I doubt whether the proposed increases will prove to be adequate in the near future because the increase of the basic wage that will begin to operate on the 1st December will cause the general price level to rise by 10 per cent. The price level is continually rising. It has been estimated that if the present upward trend of prices continues, the price level in 1952-53 will he 36 per cent, greater than it is at the present time. This is a very important matter which should receive serious attention from the Government because it has a vital hearing on our general economy; The alternative to raising the wage standards of our people is to revert to the controls that were in existence during the war - to wage-pegging, prices control and all the other restrictions that go with a controlled economy, which is, after all, the economy of the socialist state.
– Also of the capitalist state.
– The true capitalist state has a free economy, which this country has not at the present time. These proposed increases are justified, and further increases will be justified subsequently if we do not solve the problems presented by over-employment. I do not suggest that there should be under-employment, but I do suggest that over-employment is as great an evil as is under-employment. What we should aim for is full employment.
.- This legislation was introduced in flowery terms. The Minister, in his second-reading speech on the bill, said -
This Government is firmly convinced that such salaries should be adequate, and accordingly has provided increases in accordance with the principles of similar legislation enacted in 1947.
Having consulted the 1947 act, I find that all the contentions of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) about the inadequacy of judges’ salaries now compared with other days are unconvincing. In 1947, the Chifley Government provided that the salary of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia should be increased from £3,500 to £4,500 per year. That was not a bad increase of what was, I presume, the basic wage for a Chief Justice of the High Court. Only three years ago, the Chief Justice was granted a £1,000 increase of salary, and under this bill it is proposed that he shall receive another increase of £500. I do not think that the needs of the holder of the highest judicial office in this country have increased so greatly that he requires an increase of £1,500 on. a salary of £3,500 in three years. His basic wage has been increased by 43 per cent., but the basic wage increase that was granted by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court recently amounted to only 14 per cent.
I find that the salaries of the justices of the High Court of Australia were increased by the Chifley Government from £3,000 a year to £4,000 a year. This Government proposes to increase those salaries by another £500 a year. That means that in three years the salaries will have been increased by £1,500, or by 50 per cent.
– What was the basic wage in 1947?
– It was considerably less than it is now. It was approximately £6 a week. It was said in 1947 that the justices of the High Court were being treated very generously by the Chifley Government. They had not then received an increase in salary for a very long time. I do not think that their needs have increased to a degree that would justify this further increase of their salaries.
The argument of the Government is that the Public Service Arbitrator, Mr. Castieau, recently made an award that increased the salary of all public servants below the First Division very substantially. I believe that the cost of the increases will be £4,000,000 this year. Because officers below the First Division received those substantial increases, it was considered by the Government that, in order to preserve the margin - I presume the margin for skill - between officers below the First Division and officers of the First Division, substantial salary increases should be granted to First Division officers also. Having decided to give officers of the First Division of the Public Service substantial salary increases, the Government considered that the position of all other holders of government offices, whether members of the judiciary or not - in other words, everybody else on the government pay-roll - should be viewed in the light of those increases and substantial increases granted all round in order to preserve the margins that existed prior to the Castieau award. No person covered by this bill will receive less than a 40 per cent, increase of salary, on the basis of the salaries that were paid before the 1947 increases. Over three years, a judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory will have had his salary increased from £2,500 to £3,500, or by 40 per cent. He is one of the people who have not been treated ultra-generously. Prior to the 1947 increases, the AuditorGeneral of the Commonwealth of Australia was being paid £1,750 a year, which would now be regarded as a very low salary for an Auditor-General, hut when this measure has been passed he will receive £3,250 a year. In three years, his salary of £1,750 will have been increased by £1,500. His basic wage will have been increased by 86 per cent. I do not know whether his responsibilities now are greater than they were in 1947.
– They are not as great as they were last year.
– The Minister for Defence (Mr. McBride) knows as much about the Auditor-General’s position, and his duties, as he knows about most other matters of governmental policy. The Auditor-General, during the war, occupied a very difficult position, because government moneys were expended very quickly by many agencies, and he had not an adequate staff to supervise such huge expenditure. But he had cleared up his accounts, presumably, by 1947. It cannot be said that in 1950, even if there has been an increase of governmental expenditure this year, he should he paid more money. As a matter of strict historical fact, governmental expenditure was decreased progressively between 1947 and 1949. It is only in this financial year that expenditure is being jumped by another £1-30,000.000 to record heights. The Government may claim that the Auditor-General should be granted an increase of salary because he will have more accounts to audit since it has assumed office, and that is the answer to the interjection by the Minister for Defence. However, we see, in this bill, the age-old practice of an anti-Labour government greasing the fat pig. The man who occupies the high possition-
– Did not the honorable gentleman claim that the Chifley Government had substantially increased the salaries of the persons who hold the offices set out in the First Schedule.
– I said that the Chifley Government granted them the first increase that had been made for many years. This Government is rushing in, after a lapse of three years, to grant them another increase. The salaries of some of them will be increased by 86 per cent, compared with the pre-1947 rates, and in no instance will the increase he less than 40 per cent. The Government has not given to other persons on its payroll anything like a 40 per cent, increase, and it has not granted to the beneficiaries of our social security legislation anything like a 10 per cent, increase. The argument that the increases proposed in this bill are in accordance with the principles of similar legislation introduced by the Chifley Government in 1947 is not correct.
– The honorable gentleman is the victim of his own propaganda.
– A colleague of the Minister for Defence said that he was the victim of his own election propaganda. The honorable gentleman, when he was in Opposition, stated that the Labour party was opposed to, and was critical of, members of the judiciary, but it was the Chifley Government that decided to .increase their salaries by an amount which, it considered, would be sufficient for a considerable number of years. We thought that it would be a long time before an anti-Labour government would be returned to office and would hand out money in the fashion proposed in this bill.
– Did the Chifley Government increase the salaries of age pensioners in the period 1948-49?
– Yes, hut I am not permitted to discuss age pensions in this debate, and the Minister should not he permitted to refer to them by way of interjection. The fact- is that the Chifley Government, having increased the salaries of the persons who hold the offices set out in the First Schedule, considered that it had finished with the subject. However, this Government desires to grant them another increase of salary, and, presumably, the rea.1 reason is that the value of the
Menzies £1 is diminishing so rapidly that possibly in three years’ time, the money which the Government proposes to pay them under this bill will not purchase as much as could be bought with their lower salaries in 1947. I should not be surprised at that. Some of the persons who hold the offices set out in the First Schedule have life appointments, given to themselves by themselves. I refer, of course, to justices of the High Court of Australia. Other persons who hold offices mentioned in the First Schedule have to retire at the age of 65 years.
– That is a new one.
– The Minister is so abysmally ignorant upon most matters that it would take a long time to convince him about any of them, but I shall prove my point to the satisfaction of the intelligent members of the House. All the persons who hold offices set out in the First Schedule, with the exception of justices of the High Court of Australia and judges of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration must retire from their employment on attaining a prescribed age.
– The justices of the High Court did not give themselves life tenure of office. What is the honorable gentleman talking about?
– I wish that the Minister would remain silent, and refrain from making his larrikin interjections.
– Order ! The honorable member must not refer to the Minister as a larrikin.
– I was referring to his interjections.
– All interjections are disorderly.
– Section 72 of the Constitution reads as follows: -
The Justices of the High Court and of the other courts created by the Parliament -
Shall be appointed by the GovernorGeneral in Council;
Shall not be removed except by the Governor-General in Council on the address from both Housesofthe Parliament in the same session, praying for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity;
That is the only reference in the Constitution to the matter of whether justices of the High Court are appointed for life. That matter was not decided by the High Court until the case, Waterside Workers Federation of Australia v. Alexander was heard in 1918-
– Order ! The honorable member is getting wide of the subject. The bill provides for an increase of the salaries of certain persons, including justices of the High Court of Australia, as from the 1st July last. The terms of the appointment of those justices are not within the scope of the measure.
– I was just leading to the point that the justices of the High Court, in the case Waterside Workers Federation of Australia v. Alexander, decided that they were appointed for life.
-Order ! We are not concerned about any judgment of any court in this debate.
– I am concerned with it for this reason-
– Order ! I am not concerned with it.
– My argument is, sir-
– Order ! The honorable member’s argument is out of order.
– My argument is that a member of the judiciary, if he is appointed for life, has an advantage over certain other persons who hold offices set out in the First Schedule.
– Order ! I advise the honorable gentleman that he is distinctly out of order. He should comply with my advice.
– I have made the point that some persons have to retireat the age of 65 years-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman is still out of order. Retiring ages are not mentioned in the bill.
– Very well, sir.I come now to paragraph (iii) of section 72 of the Constitution, which states that the justices of the High Court - shall receive such remuneration as the Parliament may fix; but the remuneration shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.
That paragraph means that if this bill becomes law, a new justice of the High Court must receive a salary of £4,500 a year, and the Parliament, in the future, will not be able to reduce his remuneration. It also means in practice that the salary of a justice of £4,500 may not be reduced in the future. Yet the salaries of other persons whose offices are covered by this bill can be reduced. The members of the judiciary are placed in an advantageous position compared with other members of the community. That is entirely wrong. There must have been some real reason why parliaments, since federation, kept the salaries of justices of the High Court to £3,000 a year. The honorable member for Mackellar informed u.s that the rate was fixed at £3,000 a year in 1903, and was only £3,500 in 1947. Obviously, parliaments in the past took the view that the salaries of justices, and for that matter, of certain other persons, should not be quickly and rashly increased without, some regard to the possibility in the future of the curtailment of government expenditure. This bill gives extremely great advantages to certain persons in the community. I do not think that it is entirely right, having regard to the Government’s obligations to all sections of the community, that one section should be favoured at the expense of quite a number of other sections. It is easy to justify an increase of this sort bv saying, “Oh, there is only one Chief Justice of the High Court, only six justices of the High Court, only one Auditor-General, only one chairman of the Tariff Board, only one chairman of the Public Service Board, only one Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, only one Commissioner of Land Tax and only one Assistant Commissioner of Land Tax”. There are other persons who are members of the boards over which those gentlemen preside, but the total number of persons who will be affected by this bill is probably not more than 30 or 40.
– Is the honorable gentleman supporting the Deputy Leader of the Opposition?
– I am looking at the Minister for Defence, and trembling for the fate of the country.
-Order ! The Minister for Defence is not mentioned in the bill.
– Government supporters have argued that, in order to attract and retain men with suitable qualifications and experience, the Government must pay Public Service salaries that have some relationship to the emoluments that are available to men of the same calibre in private industry. It will never be possible to establish such a situation. Thecaptains of industry always will be paid much more than the highest paid publicservants, and if this Government tries to compete with private industry in that way, it will be saddled with a bill of costs that will cause taxes to rise to unprecedented levels.
The truth is that there will always he persons who are prepared to work inside the Public Service for lower salaries than they can obtain outside of it. Their motives are the same as those of persons who serve in the judiciary for less money than they could earn as practising barristers. The material factor is not tac only consideration that weighs with a person who is offered a high judicial office. Service to the community, personal economic security, and the honour attaching to the position count more with most legal men than do the material advantages that they might gain by accepting important briefs and appearing in the courts in competition with other barristers. In any case, there has never been any lack of persons willing to accept appointment to judicial positions, and we rarely hear of a judge resigning his post. In fact, there have been only two retirements from the High Court Bench in the last year or two and the justice, in each instance, was an old man. Some members of this Parliament are said to have made financial sacrifices as a result of their election. But such honorable gentlemen appear to be no more anxious to resign their positions than are the judges of our courts. Presumably, like the judges, they want to render community service.
For the reasons that I have stated, the argument that the Government must compete with private enterprise lest it lose capable servants is not very convincing. No matter how capable our top-flight public servants may be, there will always be equally good men ready to fill their places. But for such individuals, the Public Service would not be able to maintain the high standard of efficiency which prevails at all times regardless of the political character of the government that happens to be in office. Some of the lower paid officers and an occasional high official leave the ranks of the Public Service from time to time, but most of those who are appointed as permanent heads of departments remain in their posts until they retire when they reach the age of (65 years. Therefore, I consider that %he argument that has been used on behalf of the ‘Government in order to justify the proposed inordinately high salary increases for the officers specified in the bill has little merit. Public servants are being constantly recruited from all sources, including the State public services and private enterprise. The argument of the honorable member for Chisholm (Mr. Kent Hughes) that the payment of high salaries to Commonwealth public servants has had, or will in some way or another, have a harmful effect upon State public services, has not much validity. I have studied some of the salary ranges of the public services of the .States, and they compare favorably with the salaries that are paid to Commonwealth public servants. However, State public servants may decide to transfer to the Commonwealth Public Service for a variety of reasons. One such reason might be the chance of obtaining a higher rate of remuneration. But surely, in a free society, such officers are entitled to transfer their employment ! Even members of State parliaments have recently transferred to this Parliament. We are glad to see them here, but nobody imagines that they sought election to this Parliament in order to earn more money than they received as State Parliamentarians.
This point leads to my final argument, which is based upon the fact that the Chifley Government appointed conciliation commissioners at a salary of £1,500 a year, which is identical with the salary of a member of this Parliament. This Government now proposes to increase the salaries of conciliation . commissioners by £300 a year. If there be any logic in the argument that Government supporters have used, they should say that the salaries of members of the Parliament ought to be increased by £300 a year as well. I do not advocate such an increase, but my comments indicate the lengths to which this Government must eventually be led in trying to establish an appropriate relationship between the salaries of highly paid officers and all other people whose salaries, in the final analysis, are financed by the taxpayers of Australia. I am not sure that the Chifley Government was not over-generous with some persons to whom it granted salary increases, but it considered that it would be better perhaps to err on the generous side than otherwise. My complaint against this Government is that it is being too generous to too few people, some of whom in any case have no need of such generosity, because they so recently received substantial salary increases. If the Government sincerely wants to ‘be generous, it ought to be generous to everybody to whom, it owes a responsibility and to none more so than the most needy and defenceless sections of the community.
.- In this era of rising prices and consequential wage increases, no great exception can. be taken to the provisions of this bill. However, there are grounds for an honest difference of opinion regarding the adequacy or otherwise of the amounts of the proposed increases for the various high public servants whose positions are specified in the First Schedule. Considering the nature of the financial arrangements that have been made by the Government in recent weeks for other sections of the community, exception can be taken legitimately to the salary variations for which the bill provides and which, in most instances, represent increases of £10 a week. While such salary adjustments continue to be made by the National Parliament there will always be a distinct cleavage of public opinion concerning the justification for any increases or decreases. I hold the opinion, which is perhaps novel in this Parliament, that the salaries of justices of the High Court of Australia and of other members of the judiciary should not be governed .by the whims of the Parliament. I should like an independent tribunal to he appointed for the express purpose of determining the salaries for all of the offices that are specified in the bill, but I do not know whether such an arrangement would he constitutional. .1 admit my ignorance on that issue. When such matters are thrown into the cockpit of party politics, there is always scope for the criticism that increases are too large or too small according to the political convictions of the critic. Furthermore, it is possible that a government might refuse throughout its term of office to increase the salaries of members of the judiciary and the other public servants for which this measure provides merely on account of some political bias.
This Government apparently has adopted the policy that the salaries and conditions applicable to about 99.99 per cent, of its employees shall be established by an independent, tribunal. I should like that system to be extended if possible to members of the judiciary. It is most undesirable that we should have perhaps undignified discussions of the rates that ought to be paid to our judges. Supporters of the Government have argued that, because private enterprise pays large salaries to many of its employees, the salaries paid to the officers with which this bill deals must be increased. As the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has pointed out, it would be futile for the Government to attempt to compete with private enterprise. Almost astronomical salaries are paid to some employees in private undertakings. Many advantages attach to government employment. I am given to understand that there is no dearth of applicants for positions on the Bench of the High Court. Although those positions require the acceptance of considerable responsibility they carry with them many advantages. A judge is not subject to the stress and competition of the legal world. His reputation does not go up and down in accordance with whether he wins or loses a case. The serious illness of a legal man in’ private practice could affect his income but the income of a judge continues irrespective of his state of health. So while salaries of other legal men may be larger- the numerous advantages enjoyed by judges are of such a nature that no one’s prestige is lowered by applying for such a position. Very few who have occupied those high positions want to go back to the stress and strain of the legal world.
I think that the Government made avery bad mistake in providing for ‘ the proposed increases to be made retrospective to the 1st July. There is a lot of resentment among large bodies of people in my electorate concerning the preferential treatment that the Government proposes to give to these people. Why the Government should discriminate between one section of the community and another by giving salary increases retrospective to the 1st July to those who receive large incomes while it refuses to make retrospective to that date the increased payments to another section of the community whose needs are much more urgent is beyond my comprehension. It might be said that the reason for this action is that the increase in salaries which the Public Service Arbitrator awarded to public servants applied from a date much earlier than the 1st July; but the salaries of the people mentioned in the bill are determined by the Parliament and the Parliament should approach every problem of this kind consistently. In view of the fact that a section of the community which is in receipt of very low incomes is to receive increases only from the 1st November it is most anomalous that public servants who receive high, salaries should receive increases which will take effect from the 1st July. This provision will not make much, difference to the recipients of the increases provided for in the hill because they are in receipt of large incomes already but a great deal of resentment has been caused among the most necessitous section of the community by the refusal to make their increases retrospective beyond the first pay period in November, and I would be interested to hear the Minister’s explanation of this proposal.
The Labour party does not oppose the bill. It recognizes, in this era of rising prices, that every section of the government service is entitled to an increase. However, judges and other officials in high government positions are servants of the community and their wages and conditions should be determined in the same way as those of everyone else, that is by an independent tribunal which should be completely divorced from the deliberations of parliament.
– Two viewpoints have been expressed on the subject-matter of this bill. I assume that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has expressed the official view of the Opposition. He said that there was no objection whatever to the substance of the bill. On the other hand, there appears to have been a palace revolution because the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has taken a different view and has opposed the substance of the bill as well as its form. The reasons for the provisions of the bill were made clear in the second-reading speech, but I want to repeat that the bill deals with certain officers whose remuneration and appointment are of a statutory kind. Just as the remuneration paid to members of the Cabinet is fixed by statute, so the salaries applicable to these appointments have been fixed by statute. Therefore, they . can only he altered by statute. Honorable members of the Opposition appear to be attracted to the idea that there should be an independent salary fixing tribunal for the purpose of determining the salaries of the persons mentioned in the bill. I think that that would lead to rather objectionable results. I should not like the justices of the High Court of this country to be subject to decisions of a wage or salary fixing tribunal. Their salaries should be determined upon the highest level. The proposed increases have been designed to make the salaries of these people appropriate to the high office that they hold. It is inevitable that as those who hold judicial and executive offices under the Crown have their salaries fixed by statute while others who hold other offices under the Crown have their salaries fixed by a tribunal, anomalies will arise which can only be corrected by the Parliament. The object of this bill is to correct such anomalies. The Government has sought to evaluate the salaries which should he paid to these people. It could only do that by the exercise of its judgment. Another group of men, exercising their judgment, might agree or disagree with the amounts that have been fixed. However, it is to be hoped that frequent reviews of judicial salaries will not be made in the future. I am opposed to such reviews. It is to be hoped that a mean will be adopted. For over 40 years there was no change in the salaries of the judiciary. Obviously, salaries should have been adjusted during that period. This review, however, has been made after a period of three years because it was thought that in view of the high salaries being paid to executive officers and the relative values of the work there ought to be an alteration in judicial salaries.
The reason for providing that these increases shall be made retrospective to the 1st July is clear enough. I do not wish to quote past practice in aid of my. argument but that practice has been precisely to do what the Government is doing to-day. However, the practice may be bad, so let us examine it afresh. I should think that honorable members of the Opposition would never complain about the practice of conciliation commissioners of making increases in awards retrospective. That has been a feature’ of arbitration for many years. It has been felt, when determinations have been made, that the position of the employees should not be prejudiced by the length of time that it has taken to come to a decision on the matter. Let us examine the position of the executive officers whose salaries are fixed by statute and the position of those whose salaries are determined by arbitration. The chairman of the Public Service Board has his salary determined by statute, while the people who serve under him have their salaries determined by the Public Service Arbitrator, Mr. Castieau. Last September the Public Service Arbitrator determined the salaries of all officials and ordered that his determination should be made retrospective to December, 1949. One immediate anomaly that arose from that determination was that certain highly placed officers, such as the chairman of the Public Service Board, whose remuneration is fixed hy the Parliament, had not received so favorable treatment as had their subordinates, in that the increases granted to them had been made retrospective to July last. Of course, in any large-scale revision of salaries, it is inevitable that certain anomalies should arise. It has long been recognized as a sound principle that increases of salary or wages awarded as the result of a judicial or administrative hearing of claims should be made retrospective to the date of the claims, because otherwise the hearing of claims which had taken a long time would unfairly prejudice successful applicants. That would certainly be so if any increase awarded operated only after the claim had been approved. “Mr. Curtin. - Tell us about the increase granted to the age pensioners.
– At the moment I am dealing with the holders of certain statutory offices under the Crown. I was pointing out that in making the increase granted to those officers retrospective, the Government was merely following the practice that has been followed in the past. That practice is generally regarded as sound. Of course, the Government could have justified making the increase of salary to senior officers retrospective to December last to coincide with the operation of the award granted for public servants by the Public Service Arbitrator. It is obviously anomalous and unjust that subordinate officers in departments should receive more favorable treatment than the heads of those departments by having their increases made retrospective to an earlier period than those of their superiors. One can quite understand that the chairman of the Public Service Board, for example, should think that he ought to be treated at least as favorably as any of the clerks employed in his office. However, judgment must be exercised in determining such a matter as, indeed, it must be exercised in deciding all matters that come before a government for decision. We were confronted with the problem of determining the date to which we should make the proposed increases applicable to senior officers of the Public Service and holders of judicial office. After consideration, the Government decided that it was right that the increases should be made retrospective to the 1st July last, because that date represented a compromise between the date fixed by the Public Service Arbitrator for the application of the general increases and the established principle that all increases should be prospective. Of course, our decision may he called in question, but 1 have explained the ground on which it rests, and that ground is a rational one.
Some members of the Opposition have argued that the payment of increased pensions to aged and invalid persons should also have been made retrospective to the 1st July, the date mentioned for the operation of this measure. Again, 1 do not need to call, in aid previous decisions on similar matters by the present Government, because the practice followed in applying the increase of pensions has been followed by all administrations. It might be contended that that practice is bad, and I shall deal with that contention. There are certain obvious reasons why increases of age, invalid and war pensions should not he made retrospective. In the first place, the circumstances of recipients of those pensions fluctuate considerably. Previous administrations which have sought to make increases of pensions, retrospective have been confronted with similar difficulties to those which presented themselves to members of the present Government when they considered this matter, and invariably those administrations have decided that the only practical method of applying the increase is to make it operative from a date subsequent to the introduction of the budget. It is said that even that method causes anomalies to occur. I admit at once that there are anomalies, hut those are inevitable in any general measure. lt has been contended that all increases of government payments should be retrospective. However, if that principle were to be applied generally, it would have to be applied to awards made by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and other industrial tribunals in respect of wages and allowances. If the Opposition is prepared to concede that the general principle of making awards and payments retrospective is vicious, then I repeat that that principle would have to he applied te the large number of men affected by claims granted by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. However, the courts have always held that the fact that a long time has been occupied in the hearing of a claim for an increase should not prejudice the right of successful applicants, depending on the circumstances, to have their claim granted as from the date it was made, and I thoroughly agree with that contention. Honorable members will realize, therefore, that the proposals of the Government contained in this measure are in accordance with customary practice, and furthermore, that that practice is rational and justifiable. I think, therefore, that there should be no further objection to the passage of the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 8th November (vide page 2075), on motion by Mr. Fadden -
That the bill .be now read a second time.
.- The purpose of the bill is to amend the National Welfare Act 1943-1945 and to repeal certain provisions of that measure in consequence of certain alterations that have recently been made in the taxation laws. The Opposition regards the measure as being more or less a- machinery provision, and offers no great objection to its passage. I shall not speak at length upon it, but the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke), because of his specialized knowledge of the subject, may make a few comments on it. However, I repeat that the general attitude of the Opposition is that it will not oppose the passage of the hill.
.- As the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) has said, the Opposition offers no objection to the bill, which follows upon the decision to amalgamate two former taxes, the social services contribution and the income tax. This is quite a simple formula, but it is explained in the bill with unnecessary complexity. However, the formula appears to be aimed at achieving the objective of the Labour party when it was in office, which is to ensure a guaranteed revenue out of which social services may be paid.
The only comment that I make relates to the fund as a fund and to the general principle of trusteeship and the administration of government funds. Members of the present Government have emphasized that the National Welfare Fund does not actually contain any ready cash. That state of affairs, of course, characterizes every government fund, and, for that matter, every other type of fund. The simple fact is that money collected by the Government from day to day must be used to defray the Government’s current expenditure, and there is no simple and easy process by which portion of the revenue collected by a government can be put aside to meet particular future commitments. I thought, incidentally, that the Minister for Defence (Mr. McBride) revealed a singular lack of knowledge in his reference to 1 0 U’s. There are various kinds of government securities, and long-term and short-term bonds may be regarded as I 0 U’s. Those bonds constitute an undertaking by the Government that it will pay to the holder of the bonds a certain sum on a specified date. They constitute the evidence of a contract by which the Government undertakes, in return for the use of money for a specified period, to pay interest on that money from year to year and to repay a certain sum of money on a specified date. A government bond is, in effect, a certificate that the holder of the bond is entitled to receive from the Government payment of a certain sum.
The principles of finance by treasurybill are not so well understood in this country as they are in the United Kingdom. Every fund established invests its revenue in order to provide the moneys necessary to discharge its future obligations. In addition, an obligation is laid upon all trustees, regardless of whether the trust be one established by the
Government or by private individuals, to invest the funds only in a safe way and to the best advantage of the beneficiaries of the trust. The money credited to the National Welfare Fund cannot be invested in long-term government securities, because the Government is constantly being called upon to make substantial payments from the fund, and treasurybills are the appropriate form of investment for the moneys of such a trust. The best investment for moneys credited to the National Welfare Fund are shortterm loans to the Government, usually for three months. Treasury-bills are issued by the Government to the fund in acknowledgment of the loans. Although the rate of interest paid on such short-term loans is only nominal, the purchase of treasurybills is the most appropriate form of investment open to the trustees. Those bill.’ can be redeemed at any time, and there is little danger of them losing their market value. Unlike long-term Government securities, their value does not fluctuate. Since the Government guarantees the redemption of treasury-bills, they are the natural form of investment for trustees, and are purchased by bodies which administer such huge funds as those collected for the stabilization of the wool and wheat industries.
– Order ! I do not think that those matters come within the scope of the bill, which is a simple a appropriation measure.
– I bow to your ruling, sir, but I thought that it was necessary, for the purpose of my argument, to explain certain matters connected with the operation of government trusts and the managment of government funds.
-If the honorable gentleman will examine the bill he will see that it contains only two vital clauses, one of which proposes to appropriate certain moneys whilst the other deals with the application of the moneys appropriated.
– I shall not pursue that aspect of the matter any further. The National Welfare Fund, established by Labour, is to be sustained hy the proposals of the Government contained in this measure, and the Opposition therefore raises no objection to its passage.
.- I shall deal first with the statements of honorable members opposite about the existence of funds that they say represent assets credited to the National Welfare Fund. There are two types of treasurybills, one of which is the ordinary treasurybill that is held by either the Commonwealth Bank-
-(Hon. Archie Cameron) . - Order ! I shall not allow discussion of treasury-bills in relation to this measure, with which they have no connexion.
– I wished only to make a certain point clear. However, I shall get on to other subjects. I desired to make it quite clear that the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke) did not know what he was talking about. A bill to establish the National Welfare Fund was introduced into this Parliament in 1943. The object of the fund was to hold various amounts that had been collected allegedly for the purposes of financing social services ‘benefits. Moneys were allegedly paid into and out of that fund. Before the Government parties were elected to office they gave an undertaking to simplify the tax laws, in pursuance of which the Government has decided that various acts that relate to social services should he repealed. As a consequence of the repeal of those acts it will have to find some other means of obtaining money to pay into the fund so that it will not go into liquidation. Previously, money that had been collected by two methods was paid into the fund. The first method was the collection of money by means of the pay-roll tax. The amount collected by that method amounted last year to between ?24,000.000 and ?26,000,000. The second method was the collection of social services contributions which, I understand’, are expected to yield about ?71,000,000 in the current financial year. Under the provisions of the social services legislation those amounts were appropriated from the Consolidated Revenue Fund and paid into the National Welfare Fund. However, as we have decided to repeal the machinery legislation under which that ?101,000,000 was to be collected we must, as I have already said, find some other means of financing the
National Welfare Fund so that it will remain solvent. The Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) has devised a means of obtaining an amount of money that will be roughly equivalent to the amount that would be collected and paid into the fund if the social services contribution legislation was not repealed. The Treasurer has realized that the total amount of about £71,000,000 that would be expected to be received from social services contributions this year if the social services contribution legislation were not repealed, would fluctuate up or down as the national income either increased or decreased. He has therefore, devised a formula under which the same amount of money will be paid into the fund as would be collected by way of payroll tax and social services contribution if the old system of collection were to remain in force. That amount will be paid out of the proceeds of income tax, but it will be based on the percentage by which the pay-roll tax either increases or decreases in future years. In other words, we have a formula by which we can estimate how much should be paid into the fund and under which the amount actually paid in will be governed by the percentage of fluctuation of the amount collected in payroll tax calculated on the base-year 1950-51.
There is no magic in that formula, although personally I do not see that it has any great advantage. The Government would be perfectly justified if it were to simplify the procedure and decide how much money should be paid into the National Welfare Fund, after having estimated what calls were likely to be made upon it, and then make appropriations from the Consolidated Revenue Fund accordingly. In other words, I do not consider this very complicated measure to be absolutely necessary. I challenge the necessity for a National Welfare Fund because I consider that it has no great virtues in itself as a means of budgetary finance. It complicates the work of the Treasurer without producing any very great compensatory advantages. There are. of course, some compensatory advantages in that it provides a means whereby the Government can pay surplus or credit moneys into the fund and so, in effect, remove the surpluses if it so desires.
The Treasurer has dealt with the matter of how the fund is financed. I do not know whether it is appropriate for me to go over the ground again. However, it is well known that the National Welfare Fund is financed by internal bills which do not represent any assets.
– Order ! I shall not permit the honorable member to continue along those lines, because that subject does not come within the scope of the bill, which provides for an appropriation of revenue.
– That is quite right. However, the Treasurer himself dealt with that aspect of the matter, and I shall not proceed with it now. I consider that the time has come when we must have a full debate on both the purposes and methods of management of the National Welfare Fund, which should be completely re-organized. Legislation that relates to social services should also be reframed. I consider that the fund is apt to disguise the true position of the Treasury. I suggest that to the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Anthony), who is now in charge of the House, that the Government might consider having an inquiry made into the financing of the National Welfare Fund. If it is decided that it will notbe of advantage we should consider abolishing the fund, repealing the acts that relate to it, and getting down to a much more practical and sensible method of financing social services payments.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 7th November (vide page 2015).
Proposed vote - £1,599,000 - agreed to.
Proposed vote, £1,315,000.
. - I should like some explanation from the Government of a number of items in respect of which the Estimates show an estimated increase of expenditure over actual expenditure last year. Total actual expenditure for the department last year was £1,094,784 compared with this year’s estimated expenditure of £1,315,000. The increase is understandable in view of rising prices. However, there is one item to which I shall make particular reference. I refer to the estimated increase of expenditure for the Australian Legation in Brazil, which this year is expected to be £12,900 compared with last year’s vote of £8,500. I recall that during the latter years of office of the Chifley Government it was subjected to a constant (barrage from honorable members opposite about the waste of money expended in maintaining a legation in Brazil. It was suggested that all that Australia got from Brazil was Brazil nuts, yet it is proposed to expend nearly £13,000 this year on that legation. When the Chifley Government was in office honorable members opposite suggested that the maintenance of a legation in Brazil had something to do with the position of the distinguished Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) as president of the General Assembly of the United Nations. I should like to know whether the Government has decided to maintain our legation in Brazil and to expend more money on it, perhaps, because the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) hopes to reach the highest position in the United Nations.
A new proposed expenditure shown in the Estimates is that of £39,000 for the Australian Embassy that has been established in the United States of Indonesia. The Government must explain such a large estimated expenditure. When the Chifley Government was in office it was subjected to all sorts of criticism about the maintenance of legations and embassies in various parts of the world. It was also suggested, although not very seriously, that the maintenance of a legation in the Soviet Union was scarcely justified. Yet today we are asked to make provision for an estimated expenditure of £102,000 in relation to our embassy in Moscow, compared with an actual expenditure of £63,430 last year. It seems to me that the fact that the expenditure this year on that embassy is expected to he doubled in comparison with that of last year, indicates that the Soviet Union has a problem that is similar to that which faces this Government in relation to the £1, and that it cannot get value back into the rouble. The Government should explain why the amount has been doubled.
The estimated expenditure for our embassy in the United States is £13S,000 compared with an actual expenditure of £120,946 last year. In fact, the estimated expenditures for all our representatives overseas, with the exception of our representatives in Eire, has been increased over last year’s actual expenditure. The estimated expenditure this year on our embassy in Eire is £10,000 compared with an actual expenditure last year of £13,115. It seems to me rather wrong that we are skimping on our expenditure on our diplomatic representation in the country of my ancestors. Generally, the Opposition does not object to the expenditure of money on diplomatic representation throughout the world.
The previous Government quite deliberately pioneered Australia’s full representation in all these countries. It spent money, in some cases scarce dollars, because it believed that Australia could not do its maximum to promote world co-operation, world trade, and, most important of all, world peace, unless it had well established representation in all the countries of the world. Despite the statements of supporters of the Government when they were in opposition, I welcome this Government’s attempt to maintain the standard of the representation abroad established by the Curtin and Chifley governments. However, the Opposition believes that the rises and the falls in the expenditure detailed in this budget should be explained to the House by the Minister for External Affairs.
.- I desire to raise again a matter that I raised three or four times when the members of the present Government were in opposition. That is the matter of the Australian Embassy staff in Moscow. I am sure that honorable members who were members of the last Parliament remember that on many occasions I asked that the Government should protest against the excessive restrictions imposed on the movements of our representatives in Moscow which are in contrast with the complete freedom of action allowed to the Russian representatives in Australia. After much complaining, I finally got a statement from the previous Minister for External Affairs to the effect that the staff of the Australian Embassy in. Moscow had a fairly free movement within a distance of 30 kilometres from the heart of Moscow, but if they wished to go to Leningrad or into the Ukraine by air they had to get special permission, and if they desired to travel anywhere in Moscow they were required to travel with a military motor cycle escort and to confine their movements to the main roads. In other words, the treatment of the Australian Embassy staff in Moscow is frankly founded s upon the attitude that they are all potential spies and that they must stay on the main roads, under military escort and live under restrictions in Moscow.
I have indicated the formal legal restrictions to which Australian representatives are subject, but there are also social restrictions. These social restrictions make life in Moscow very distressing. Former Russian Embassy officials who have represented Russia in Australia and who were on quite friendly terms with some of our own officials here, especially during the war when Russia was our ally, have found it necessary to scurry across to the other side of the road when they saw their Australian friends approaching them along the streets of Moscow. I sympathize with those former Russian representatives who apparently are afraid to be seen speaking to Australians. I realize that that is the general social atmosphere of Moscow, and that while it is a disability it is not a legal disability. Under those circumstances the question arises whether it is worth while maintaining diplomatic relations with Russia. I do not say that, expecting the firm answer, “ No “, but I do ask whether we are ever to seek an alteration of the treatment accorded to our diplomats and to insist on reciprocity as between our diplomats and Russian diplomats ; or have we made a final decision, for certain reasons, that diplomatic representation in Russia is of some value and that therefore we must endure the insulting treatment meted out to Australian diplomats in Russia. It is time that the contemptible immaturity, if not malevolence, of the Russian attitude towardsdiplomats was thoroughly aired in the Parliament, and this is about the fifth occasion upon which I have mentioned it.
The second matter that I wish to raise concerns Australia’s representation in Israel. I have asked several times within the last few years whether Australia regarded itself as fully committed to the idea that the City of Jerusalem should be internationalized and should never become a part of the new State of Israel. Are we fully committed to the attempt to maintain the existing siuation in Israel ? I do not believe that the Jews of Palestine, whose whole politico-religious history is a story of their struggle to win back the city of which they were forcibly deprived in a.d. 70, should have their profound aspirations blocked and told that they may have a State of Judea without Jerusalem. Is Australian policy committed to the maintenance of a situation which is inevitably explosive? “We should not try to pursue the Crimean “War policy, or its equivalent, in connexion with the keys of the Holy Places and the internationalization of Jerusalem.
My point of view from the religious angle is that I cannot see anything Christian in maintaining that certain places which were associated with the life of Christ should be forcibly retained under international control on the specious plea that the Jews cannot be trusted to extend religious toleration if they get control of those areas. The Jews are more likely to extend religious toleration than the Turks ever were, and more likely to have a stable conception of toleration than the Transjordanian Arabs. I do not believe that from a religious point of view it can be argued that internationalism is the only means whereby western Europe access to Jeusalem can be mantained. I do not make a strong criticism about this matter, but I should like the Government’s policy on that matter to be clarified. I ask the Minister,when he is replying at the end of the debate, to clarify the Government’s views.
.- I desire to comment on the first of the two points raised by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). The honorable member has protested against the treatment of Australian diplomatic representatives in Moscow, but it appears to me that he has overlooked certain elements in the situation. The treatment of which he complains is treatment accorded not only to Australian representatives, but also to all other foreign representatives there. It is so generally applied that it might be described as the standard condition applying to all foreign representatives in the capital of the Soviet Union. I have no personal sympathy for the Soviet Union and I do not wish to excuse its conduct. Nevertheless, I must say that this is one of the conditions that we must expect to find in any totalitarian State. We must be aware of the fact that the Soviet Union is a totalitarian State, and that the conditions complained about are the necessary and usual concomitants of totalitarianism.
– Was that true of Nazi Germany?
– To a large extent, yes. Any one performing a diplomatic mission must expect to find conditions varying from country to country. The representatives of foreign governments who are sent to Canberra probably find here a greater degree of isolation than in most other capitals of the world. They probably find fewer amenities here than in any other capital city, but they accept that as part of our natural conditions. In some parts of the world you find heat and in some parts you find cold. We would put ourselves in a rather foolish position if we singled out the experiences of our own representatives and protested about them when, in fact, our representatives are living according to the natural course of things in the Soviet Union. Such conditions will continue until the Government of the Soviet Union changes. That is one of the facts that any diplomat recognizes as having to be accepted in a country ruled as is Soviet Russia. We may dislike it but I doubt whether we can single it out as an affront to ourselves.
I hope that this Government will give more consideration to one aspect of the staffing of posts abroad. It seems to me that in the past there has been too much uniformity in the staffing of posts. I can claim experience of diplomatic service at first hand, and I know that the conditions in different capitals of the world vary considerably, and the qualities of the staff posted to those different capitals should also vary in conformity with the conditions. Not for any blameworthy reason, but through lack of acquaintance with those posts., there has been a tendency in the past to staff each post more or less along similar lines. I trust that under the new administration, some closer attention will be given to the special needs of various posts. To cite only one instance, at the present time a good case could be made out for strengthening and making more highly specialized the staffs we have at the diplomatic centres of the world such as Washington. I submit that a much stronger staff is warranted than is at present posted to Washington. In some centres of the world which are of less diplomatic importance a less highly specialized staff is required. Closer regard should be paid to the specialist needs of the various posts abroad.
.- The outstanding item in the estimated expenditure detailed in the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs is the increased amount to be expended on our embassy to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Last year’s expenditure amounted to £63,440, and the provision in the Estimates for the present financial year is £102,000.
– That is almost wholly due to revaluation of the rouble.
– That is one explana tion that I am pleased to hear, but I draw the attention of the committee to the fact that when a previous Labour Government set up the embassy in the Soviet Union, the supporters of the present Government who were then in opposition were very scathing in their criticism. They objected most vigorously to a strong diplomatic organization being set up in Moscow and they adversely criticized the government of the day for its action in that regard. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) was one of the most candid critics of the last Government in that respect.
– Australia now has only a charge d’affaires at Moscow.
– In view of the Minister’s interjection, I take it that we now have only a skeleton staff at the Australian Embassy at Moscow. Of the proposed expenditure of £102,000 this year, much less than £40,000 is attributable to the revaluation of the rouble in relation to the Australian £1. Excluding that amount, the proposed vote is considerably greater than the appropriation that was made last year. I should like the Minister to reconcile the proposed increased expenditure with the fact that the status and strength of our representation in the Soviet Union has been considerably decreased.
– I urge upon- the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) the necessity for speedily filling the vacancy in the office of High Commissioner in the Union of South Africa. I understand that that office has been vacant since the previous occupant died.
– The honorable member is twelve months behind the times. Sir George Knowles was succeeded by Mr. Stirling, who has only recently vacated that office.
– Was Mr. Stirling appointed in an acting capacity only?
– No. He was appointed High Commissioner in the Union of South Africa.
– I accept the Minister’s correction. However, I wish to point out that many Australian business people who have visited South Africa arc concerned about the fact that for a considerable time the office of High Commissioner was vacant. For instance, Australian trade exhibits that were despatched to that office to be placed on exhibit at the Rand agricultural show were not exhibited at all, whereas business people who entrusted their exhibits directly to business representatives in the Union of South Africa had them placed on exhibition. That fact is evidence of an unsatisfactory position of which, perhaps, the Minister is not aware. I am concerned about the matter principally because of the great opportunities that now exist for the expansion of trade between South Africa and Western Australia. Possibly, similar opportunities are offering for traders in the eastern States. In order to take full advantage of those opportunities, the office of the High Commissioner in the Union of South Africa should be placed on a more active basis than it is on at present. Recently, in Perth, I met two business men who had come from South Africa in order to finalize some trade transactions. They were annoyed because they had been obliged to make that visit personally and incur the expense involved. They said that they had to do so because they were unable to finalize their transactions through the Australian High Commissioner’s office in South Africa. Therefore, I urge the Government, to place that office on a very active basis as soon as possible.
.- In view of the reaction of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) to the criticism that was levelled against the Department of External Affairs by a Government supporter, I address my remarks to him with some temerity. I apologize for not having heard the reply that the Minister made to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) with respect to the International Children’s Emergency Fund at question time. I understand, whilst that fund is financed from the defence appropriation, the Minister administers it. I point out that delay has occurred in making a grant to the fund, and in view of the great work that has been done in Europe through the fund, considerable anxiety exists as a result of that delay. I shall not canvass the merits of the fund’s activities because the Minister himself has publicly approved of them. All I wish to know is whether the grant that is due to be made to the fund will he made available within a reasonable period.
– Whilst a determination has been made, it has not yet been announced. I promised the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that I would make an announcement on the subject before the Parliament goes into recess.
– The support given to that fund by both the last Government and the present Government has given a great advertisement to Australia, The fund has been the means of saving over 7,000,000 children from starvation in the poverty-stricken areas in Europe. That has been a great work of salvage, and failure to finance the fund adequately in order to enable it to be continued as one of the most important activities of the United Nations would seriously injure Australia’s moral prestige.
.- I agree with the criticism of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) of the treatment that has been meted out to our representatives at Moscow. I should like to know what benefit, if any, Australia expects to receive in return for the . proposed expenditure of £102,000 in respect of our embassy in the Soviet Union. Although the amount is not large, these sums are substantial when taken collectively, particularly when the Government is committed to a policy of reducing expenditure wherever it can possibly do so. It seems to me that our representatives in Moscow are so circumscribed in their movements that they are able to make few, if any, contacts with Russian people. Apparently, they meet only their fellow diplomats. I should be glad if the Minister would indicate what benefit Australia derives from the maintenance of an embassy at Moscow. It would appear that the only thing that we get in return for that expenditure is the establishment of a very large Russian Embassy at Canberra.” That is a doubtful blessing which, I think, most honorable members would be happy to do without. If it cannot be shown that Australia is deriving any worthwhile benefit by maintaining an embassy at Moscow the sooner the Go vernment closes it the better it will be for this country; and let us hope that the withdrawal of our representation from the Soviet Union will result in the closing down of the Russian Embassy at Canberra. I believe that the majority of honorable members share that wish.
.- .Substantial expenditure is contemplated in respect of the activities overseas of the Department of External Affairs. A few years ago, when I was abroad, I had the opportunity to visit several Australian legations. It is essential that our representatives abroad should be able to present Australia’s views and claims most effectively to the numerous people who from time to time seek such information. I was amazed at the meagreness of the salaries and allowances that are paid to some of Australia’s diplomatic representatives overseas. Those representatives are engaged in high-class administrative work as our ambassadors in countries that are of the greatest importance to Australia. I should commend any provision that was made to increase the salaries and allowances that are paid to them and to members of their staffs. I trust that the Minister will continue the policy of the last Government and ensure that those representatives do not suffer by comparison with representatives of other countries with whom they are expected to. mix socially and to spend accordingly. I should not regard expenditure in that respect in countries like the United States of America, Great Britain and France as being extravagant. However, in the past the department has been inclined to be cheese-paring in its treatment of its representatives overseas. I trust that the Minister will pursue a policy of paying adequate salaries and allowances to those representatives.
In view of the limited scope of the activities of our representatives at Moscow, I join with other honorable members, including some supporters of the Government, in questioning the need to maintain an embassy in the Soviet Union at a cost of over £100,000 a year. The policy of the Government towards the Soviet Union is well known and, consequently, many people wish to be informed of its policy with respect to the maintenance of an embassy at Moscow at so high a cost. Ministers in public announcements have expressed complete disagreement in many respects with the policy of the Soviet Union. Indeed, they have named that country as an aggressor nation and as a threat to world peace. Therefore, I should like to know what the Government’s reaction is to the curtailment of the activities and movements of our representatives in the Soviet Union. That information would be of great assistance to honorable members and to the people generally.
I should like the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) to give some indication of the Government’s intention with respect to appointments abroad that were made by the last Government. Does the present Government intend to recall representatives overseas simply because they were appointed to their present positions by the last Government, or will it pay due regard to the efficiency and capacity that those men have displayed in their positions? Already, the Government has recalled one of those representatives to whom it has paid compensation in respect of the unexpired portion of the term of his appointment, and one can only conclude that it took that action out of party political considerations. I should like to know whether the Government intends to terminate other appointments overseas simply because they were made by the previous Government. That is a matter of great importance, in view of the precedent that it may set for governments in future regarding diplomatic representation abroad. I ask the Minister to clarify the various points that I have raised.
– I am substantially in agreement with the views that have been expressedby the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), and by several Opposition members. The whole matter of our diplomatic representation in Moscow is due for review. I do not believe, at present, that I have sufficient information ‘to enable me to take a definite view about it, but I should like to examine various circumstances from the little and limited knowledge available to us. Our embassy in Moscow is circumscribed in its activities, but the facts by which it is circumscribed are, perhaps, some index of its value. The Soviet Union is different from the normal State in this respect, that there are nomeans of establishing contacts or of gaining knowledge about various matters in. relation to it except through those official channels. Unless a person is specially privileged, or is a Mrs. Street, a Mr.. Healy, or a Mr. Thornton, he Joes not receive invitations to visit Moscow, or even the facility to travel to the capital of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Therefore, the only information that comes back to us, little and limited! as it is, must be through those official channels. I am not in a position to say whether or not such information is valuable. It may be, or it may not be. At all events, I should think that the normal functions of diplomatic representation are not very important as between Australia and Russia, but it may bo, in view of the nature of the Iron Curtain and of the way in which normal intercourse with Russia has been restricted, that our embassy in Moscow is sending back information that is of value, because it cannot be obtained from any other source. That is a point of view.
There is another point of view. Theprincipal cost of the Australian Embassy in Moscow is not the mere amount of £102,000 which appears on the Estimates,, but the matter to which thi-, honorablemember for Henty has directed attention, namely, the loss that we suffer by havinga Russian embassy in Canberra. Here,, again, we should not exaggerate. We are a free people. The Russians can send non-official persons to Australia, and, in fact, as we know to our cost, they havein this country a large number of agents who are not even of Russian nationality, but are members of the Australian Communist party. Therefore, it does not follow that, merely by closing the Russian Embassy in Canberra, we shall preventthat Russian activity. Nevertheless, some things are clone by that embassy that could profitably be stopped. They centre very largely on the Russian diplomatic, bag, into which is poured theresult of Communist espionage in thePublic Service departments and elsewhere, which is franked overseas,, and through which notes and other forms of money, obtained very largely in.
America, flow in for the sustention of the Australian Communist party. It is important to stop that diplomatic bag–
– ‘Can the honorable member prove those statements ?
– Order ! I think that the honorable member’s remarks are rather wide of the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs.
– I am pointing out that the cost of maintaining the Australian Embassy in Moscow is not merely the amount of £102,000 that appears on the Estimates, but the fact that, because Australia has that embassy in Moscow, we have to give to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics the right to be diplomatically represented in Canberra. There is no doubt that those diplomatic privileges are being widely abused. What functions does the Russian Embassy in Canberra perform? Its staff is out of all proportion to any reasonable and known function. It may be said that since a Russian trusts nobody, many members of the staff of the embassy are merely servants and chauffeurs, who perform duties that would normally be discharged by the nationals of the country in which the embassy is established. But I consider that, even allowing for that assumption, the staff is very big. What is it doing? If we consider what was done in . Latvia, about which we have ample knowledge, we may he able to see the pattern-
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to relate his remarks to the proposed vote.
– I am trying to show what Communist legations all over the world are doing.
– That is not relevant to the present discussion.
– In my view, the cost of maintaining the Australian Embassy in Moscow is very largely expressed in terms of the fact that we have to accept the presence of a corresponding Soviet Embassy in Canberra. I do not believe, at the moment, that I know enough about the value of the information that is coming back to Australia from our embassy in Moscow to be able to say definitely that we should break those diplomatic relations. I do not say that; but I believe that this chamber should give the closest attention to the matter. I hope that it will be possible to debate that subject at length at a - later stage.
– I notice that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) has included in. this proposed vote the sum of £39,000 for the establishment of an embassy in the Republic of the United States of Indonesia. That is rather a long term to apply to this extraordinary republic of bits and pieces in the islands so close to our shores. Various honorable members have asked questions about the intentions of the Government of Indonesia, if it be a government, in regard to Dutch New Guinea, and I was rather critical of the Minister in the early days of the life of this Government, because I feared that he was not being sufficiently clear and definite towards what I regarded as the imperialist ambitions of a newly freed colonial people. It often happens that those who have suffered from domination by other powers for a- long period of years, suddenly wish to subjugate others to their rule when they gain their freedom, and I fear then - I still do so - that the Government of Indonesia was intent upon absorbing or annexing, not merely the area which we know as Dutch New Guinea, but the whole island of New Guinea. I do not wish to re-state the compelling arguments that have been advanced against the validity of that particular claim. In recent times the Minister has stated much more clearly than he ever did in the past that Australia will noi stand idly by and let the Indonesians carry out their intention of annexing Dutch New Guinea. I should like him to say more about the position in that territory than he has been able to say since his return to Australia. I know that one of the principles that he has enunciated recently - a principle with which I do not disagree - is that no provocation should be offered to peoples with whom we may be in temporary or permanent disagreement, but at the same time I consider that the position must be re-stated as often as we need to re-state it, that the imperialist ambitions of the Indonesian Government will not be realized if the people of Australia can prevent its realization. Various suggestions have been made, one of them being that we should buy Dutch New Guinea. I do not think that any colonial territory-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s remarks are hardly relevant to the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs.
– I thought that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) suggested the purchase of Dutch New Guinea.
– He did so.
– Does the honorable gentleman disagree with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition?
– I do not agree with him on some matters, but we are entitled to say what we think about them. I thought that I should be in order in discussing, under our grant to the United Nations, the possibility of Holland and Australia establishing a joint trusteeship in Dutch New Guinea, but if such remarks are not in order, I shall postpone them until an appropriate occasion arises. I do not think that the establishment of an embassy in what is, after all, a very insignificant part of the earth’s surface politically, is warranted. A ministry, a consul-general or a charge” d’affaires would be sufficient. To make provision for the establishment of an embassy, and to treat those people as if they were really important, is to stretch our resources in the matter of officers and money far beyond what is warranted.
I notice that the proposed vote for the Australian Embassy in Moscow for the current financial year is substantially greater than was the expenditure last year. I had difficulty in believing the evidence before my eyes, because this Government has denounced Russia as the aggressor against world peace.
– The proposed vote for this financial year is £40,000 more than was the expenditure last year.
– That is so. The proposed vote has been approved by a Government which, if it carried into effect in its administration of the Depart ment of External Affairs the principles that it enunciates in this chamber, would close the Australian Embassy in Moscow. I am not contending that the Government should close that embassy. I am merely pointing out that it seems a little absurd that the Government should provide a larger sum of money to maintain and extend our activities in Moscow, whilst at the same time its supporters make speeches in the Parliament denouncing the representatives of Russia, not only in this country but also in other countries, as trouble makers. I recall that on Russia’s national day only 23 days ago, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the Minister for Defence (Mr. McBride), the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), the Minister forFuel, Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay), the Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) and the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) attended the Russian Embassy.
– The vodka was good.
– Whatever the reason for all those inconsistencies may be, only a government of this sort can give an explanation of them. There is a gross inconsistency. Ministers denounce Russia as an aggressor, yet on Russia’s national day they are received by the Russian Ambassador, drink to the Russian revolution and wish long life to Generalissimo Stalin and every success to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
– Sometimes the honorable gentleman attacks us during the year, and then comes to our Christmas party.
– I do not think that I shall attend the Government’s Christmas party this year. I think that Opposition members will return the compliment that members of the present Government extended to us last year when they refused to come to our party. That would put us in the same position towards each other as this Government pretends at times to be with regard to Russia.
I again direct attention to the fact that it was the Chifley Government that took action in the United Nations to press the claims for the internationalization of Jerusalem. On that matter, some difference of opinion now exists within the
Labour party. The Chifley Government, through its Minister for External Affairs, Dr. Evatt, and with the active support of the Prime Minister, secured the passage of a resolution at the General Assembly of the United Nations in favour of the internationalization of the Holy Places in Jerusalem. I should lite to know what attitude the’ present Government has adopted. I join with the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) in asking whether it intends to maintain the policy of the Chifley Government, which was responsible for securing an affirmative vote when the resolution was submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations. Various attempts have been made recently to break down the effect of the resolution. The United Kingdom and the United States of America were opposed to the action that was taken by the Australian Government, and that opposition probably exists still. Perhaps the terms of the resolution cannot be enforced, but I hope that the Australian Government will not declare that, because of some difficulty in that connexion, it is no longer worried about the matter. The Archbishop of Canterbury recently pleaded for the internationalization of the Holy Places, and the Pope, on behalf of the body of Catholicism, and other church leaders all round the world have also done so. As evidence of their good faith, the Jewish people, who have just gained their freedom, ought to agree to the proposals of the United Nations in relation to those places which are revered by Christian, Jew and Moslem because of their religious associations.
The expenditure of the Department of External Affairs is rising ever higher. Members of the present Government protested when they were in Opposition against “ pouring money down the drain”. They said that much of the money that was provided for the department could have been used to greater advantage in Australia. The increased provision for the department in the Estimates this year is merely another example of the inconsistency of which those honorable gentlemen are guilty. I should like to witness their efforts to explain their change of front, if they can restrain their smiles and muster enough determination to make the attempt. I notice that Aus tralia has legations in six countries and embassies in seven countries. In my opinion, the Republic of the Philippines, v-here we have a legation, is more important than is the Republic of Indonesia, where we have an embassy. I also note that we have only a legation in Italy. I understand that representatives of the Government recently discussed with representatives of the Government of Italy proposals for the conclusion of an immigration agreement between the two countries. If we propose to draw immigrants from Italy, we ought to treat Italy as we treat the Netherlands, from which the Government proposes to bring large numbers of immigrants, and to raise the status of our representation in Italy to the ambassadorial level.
– Surely that cannot be the test?
– Then what is the reason for the differentiation between Indonesia and Italy? The Minister may have good reasons for maintaining the difference, but I consider that the peoples of Italy and the Philippines would be complimented if Australia raised the status of its representatives in those countries to that of its representatives in Indonesia.
The proposed vote provides for the offices of our high commissioners in every part of the British Commonwealth, except Great Britain. The office of the High Commissioner in the United Kingdom is, very properly, under the control of the Prime Minister. That, of course, is no reflection upon the present Minister for External Affairs or any of his predecessors. It has always been the arrangement. I should like to know why our high commissioners’ offices are enumerated in the Estimates at the end of the list after the legations and embassies in foreign countries. I know that an arrangement was made recently to elevate our high commissioners in the table of precedence and to rank them above ambassadors. When the Chifley Government was in office, all units of the British Commonwealth agreed that high commissioners should be addressed by the title “ Excellency “ and should enjoy the ranking in the table of precedence that I have mentioned. Therefore, I was astonished to find the establishments for our high commissioners placed last on the list of our offices abroad. I hope that this situation will be changed.
Can the Minister tell us how the recruitment of young officers for the Department of External Affairs is proceeding? Are the diplomatic cadet officers working successfully abroad? Most importantly, will the department be able to draw upon them in future to fill vacancies for ministers and ambassadors? I do not believe that all our highest ranking diplomats should be drawn from the diplomatic service-
– I certainly do not believe so, either.
– I am aware of that fact. Nobody with any experience would agree that our most important representatives abroad should be appointed from the diplomatic service only. However, there is a tendency within the department to reserve all such positions for career men. The experiences of the United States of America, and to some degree the experiences of the United Kingdom, have proved that a balanced diplomatic corps can be established by appointing leaders of commerce, politics and trade unions, as well as career men. Such men often make more effective representatives in other countries than do departmental officers whose qualifications and qualities are not necessarily such as make for the efficient discharge of duties which often do not require diplomacy so much as a capacity to get along amicably with representatives of governments, especially within the British Commonwealth. I consider that the position of the Australian High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, for example, is very important and I hope that we shall continue the practice, which has been followed for many years, of appointing from time to time to this post, persons who have had long experience of political life in Australia. That practice has achieved good results.
.- I assume that the various functions of our diplomatic offices in other countries are undergoing a complete examination as the result of the recent overseas visit of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr.
Spender). In 1948 I had the opportunity to visit many of Australia’s representatives overseas. They were performing: very useful services then and I consider that, although we have a responsibility topractise the utmost economy in government expenditure, we should insist that the provision made for our representatives abroad shall be in keepingwith that made for the representatives of other nations.
I ask the Minister to. provide the committee with information about our representation in the United Statesof America. I hope that the situation of the Australian Ambassador and his staff has been improved since I visited, that country in 1948. At that time,, because of the dollar shortage, the Ambassador and his staff were housed entirely in the Chancellery at Washington. The building was overcrowded and theprovision that was made for our officialswas far below the standard that wasrequired. I believe that Australia hadpurchased an embassy in Washington just before I visited the city but that thebuilding had been sub-let.
– We have since purchased an additional building next to theembassy and most of the staff are accommodated in it.
-INS. - I am glad to have that information. The situation in 1948 wasnot creditable to Australia.
I emphasize the importance of strengthening Australia’s representation in theUnion of South Africa. I visited that country shortly after the death of” Sir George Knowles. At that timethe Acting High Commissioner, MrMarshall, was performing his duties very efficiently. He continued to do so until’ Mr. Stirling was appointed as High Commissioner. I understand that Mr. Stirlinghas since been transferred. The Union of” South Africa covers a vast area, and’ Australia’s principal representative thereholds a responsible position. Only thebest available man should be chosen forthat office. The proposed appropriation; for the High Commissioner’s office in South Africa this year is only £22,000,. whereas much larger sums are included in the Estimates for representation in Indonesia and other countries. Why doe the Government propose to expend so much money in those other countries? I consider that the Union is one of the most important members of the British Commonwealth and that we should develop a complete understanding with its people.
I presume that the amounts shown in the Estimates do not include provision for capital expenditure such as would be involved in the purchase of buildings. Examining the figures on that basis, I am led to the conclusion that we are maintaining larger establishments in some countries than the circumstances warrant and are neglecting our offices in other countries. Obviously, the Government has given the fullest consideration to the subject of reciprocal representation between Australia and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, but I should like the Minister to clarify the position, which is of vital concern to us all. I endorse the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs.
.- The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) spoke of the restrictions that had been placed upon the movements of Australia’s representatives in Moscow and said that, on that account, the Government ought to withdraw its representatives from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I disagree with that suggestion just as strongly as I should disagree with any suggestion that we should rid ourselves of Russia’s representatives in this country. Such an act would be a violation of the Charter of the United Nations. Any action that would decrease our chances of establishing more friendly relations with Russia would be unwise.’ While we have representatives in Moscow there is still a chance that we may influence Russia’s outlook on various important matters of international concern. Let the Russians be a totalitarian nation, but let us not be an intolerant nation ! Although the increase of the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs violates the promise of the Government that it would decrease expenditure, I offer no objection to it. We should not skimp expenditure on our representation abroad. Our offices in other countries’ are Aus tralia’s show windows, and our representatives should be enabled to provide an adequate display.
.- 1 shall speak briefly for a second time in order to clarify one or two points that have been raised by various honorable members in connexion with the Australian Embassy at Moscow and which have a bearing on the comments that I made earlier. In passing, I remark that we have had to wait for this discussion in order to witness a demonstration of the fact that it is possible for honorable members to approach matters of international policy on non-party lines. I find myself in disagreement with some honorable members on this side of the chamber as well as with some members of the Opposition, but I am also in agreement with some honorable members opposite. When I spoke previously I said, in effect, that the conditions in Moscow of which honorable members had complained could rightly be regarded as the normal conditions which anybody who engaged in diplomatic activities should expect to find in a country governed as is the Soviet Union. Since I made those remarks, various speakers have suggested that this Government should seriously consider closing down the Australian Embassy in Moscow. I have no illusions about the nature of the Soviet regime, nor about the threat which the Soviet Union presents to world peace at the present time. But if we continue to believe that the diplomatic method offers one of various possibilities of achieving peace, we should retain as many of the instruments of diplomacy as we can. Until we have finally abandoned the diplomatic method and have decided that no hope of any kind lies in diplomacy, surely we should maintain those instruments of diplomacy which will give us a chance of making that method successful. Even if all honorable members cannot have great faith in the eventual outcome of our relationships with Moscow, so long as there is a chance of maintaining friendly relationships with the Soviet Union or even of avoiding hostilities we should maintain all the instruments of diplomacy that will give us contact with that great country. It has also been suggested by some honorable members that the maintenance of the embassy in Moscow is of no value to this country. I have no recent knowledge of the value of that post to the Department of External Affairs, but, from my knowledge of a previous period when conditions were not vastly different from those that obtain to-day, I can say that there was a real and substantial value to the Department of External Affairs and to the Government in having a post in Moscow, a value that was derived from the information obtained from it. I do not suggest that the information was obtained in the free and open way in which information was given in other countries, but I refer to information which, however obtained, did have a real value in helping the Government to understand the Russian points of view.
– Our representatives were allowed to read the newspapers.
– They were able to do more than read the newspapers, but even the reading of the reports of official views in those newspapers was in itself something that the Government would not obtain if it were to break off the diplomatic connexion.
– I was not being sarcastic in making that interjection.
– The fact of being in communication with the Soviet Government could be of value in other ways. From day to day opportunities arise for furthering the interests of Australia or protecting the interests of Australians. It may be necessary to make a protest against action inimical to the interests of this country or to communicate the views of the Australian Government and the opportunity of making such communications is valuable. Having exchanged diplomatic representatives with the Soviet Union this country could not lightly break off those relationships. The closing of any post abroad would, in itself, take on a greater significance than the mere saving of money or an indication that Australia was not obtaining value from its expenditure. Such action would be regarded as a significant move, designed by this country to indicate that its relationships with the Soviet Union had deteriorated to such a degree that it saw no further hope in maintaining diplomatic exchanges. Such closing down of a post would indicate that the Government expected the Soviet Union to take similar action. Some honorable members profess to believe that there would be some arguments in favour of closing the Soviet Embassy in Canberra. Although the Government might have to take security precautions to ensure that no wrong use should be made of the presence of Soviet representatives in Australia, it would be to our disadvantage if these representatives were to leave this country and so lose the opportunity of seeing the sort of life that we lead and of realizing that in Australia, under a democratic parliamentary system, greater benefit can be distributed to the common man than is possible under their own system. I do not think that the educational value to the Russians of a term abroad should be undervalued. Even though some Russians may have closed minds, the impression of what they have seen abroad remains with them.
For these reasons, I support strongly and with some feeling this expenditure for the maintenance of the Australian Embassy in the Soviet Union and I depore statements advocating the discontinuance of diplomatic relationships. So long as we believe in diplomacy and attempt to practise it we should retain at our command every diplomatic weapon that we have.
– I endorse the remarks that have been made by the honorable member for Curtin (Mr. Hasluck) . I do not think that any honorable member of the Opposition would advocate the closure of the Australian Embassy in Russia nor of the Russian Embassy in Australia. Such an act would be so foolish and provocative that I do not think that it could be seriously entertained for a moment. These matters cannot be properly considered in the light of the differences and disputes of the moment. They have to be regarded from the long-term point of view. The reports that came to the Department of External Affairs from all posts abroad while I was Minister for
External Affairs were of great value in the assessment of the facts relating to international disputes or situations and often assisted in the discovery of a solution for a problem. Australian representatives in Russia contributed some valuable information, details of which cannot, of course, be given.
It must be obvious to honorable members that this development is a necessary part of the recognition of Australia as a nation. The only irony of the situation is that when the Labour Government was in office under Mr. Curtin and the right honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Chifley) it was subjected to continuous pinpricking because of its expenditure on posts abroad. The Government proposes to increase that expenditure. That is inevitable. Australia must play its part as a nation with all the other nations of the world with which it is a fellowmember of the United Nations organization. I consider that the extension of our representation abroad and the raising of the level of our diplomatic posts is a part of a process that must take place and that is of enormous value to Australia. I do not exclude from that statement the posts in Latin America. On the contrary, I think that the additional expenditure in Brazil might well he followed by expenditure in other countries where there are important trade connexions to develop. To use a well-known phrase, one cannot put bounds to the onward march of a nation. The contention that, because Australian relationships with a particular country are not good, our post in that country should be closed is the reflection of a most reactionary viewpoint. The facts might well be the reverse. I support entirely those remarks which I heard made by the honorable member for Curtin.
Australia occupies a place in the United Nations and the British Commonwealth and in the Pacific, and I regard it as an indirect but complete vindication of the previous Government’s progressive policy that the present Government, which contains a number of Ministers who were critical of these developments, is now realizing that they must continue. I agree with what the honorable member for Curtin said recently about the part that Australia can play in international disputes. The role of conciliator is one that can be played by Australia. I am completely in favour of the expenditure proposed and only wish that, in a few cases, it could be increased.
– I have listened with great interest to some of the remarks that have been made about embassies. I consider that the Department of External Affairs should expend the most on those posts abroad which secure the closest relationships with other nations and do the most good for Australia. With all due respect to the honorable member for Curtin (Mr. Hasluck) and to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), I am not convinced that Australia has received the return to which it is justly entitled from the expenditure required to keep representatives in Moscow. I believe that the honorable member for Curtin said that any one going to Moscow as a diplomatic representative must realize that under the Soviet regime he may find himself in a very difficult position. Australian representatives in Moscow should be treated in the same way as Soviet representatives are treated in Australia. The first industrial liaison officer whom Australia sent to Moscow informed me when he returned that for eighteen months he was not able to get in touch with the trade union movement in Moscow. He had been the secretary of a big industrial organization in Australia.
– Russia does not like the industrial methods that are used in Australia.
– It may not. I consider that Australia is . not receiving the return to which it is entitled from the money it expends in keeping representatives in Moscow.
L propose now to direct the attention of the Government to the disparity between the amount expended upon diplomatic representation in the United States of America and that expended in Canada, and I should like the Minister to inform me of the Government’s intention concerning the future of the diplomatic posts in those countries. The salaries paid to our diplomatic representatives appear to he the same, irrespective of the importance of the country to which they are accredited. However, the representation allowance paid to them varies considerably. For example, I notice that the allowance paid to our Ambassador in Washington during the last financial year was approximately £5,000, whereas the allowance paid to our High Commissioner in Ottawa was only £2,500. Furthermore, it is proposed to increase the representation allowance of the Ambassador in Washington by approximately £6,000, although the allowance of the High Commissioner in Ottawa will not be increased. I should like the Minister to explain the reason for the increase of over 100 per cent, in the representation allowance paid to our Ambassador at Washington, and also why he already receives so much more than does our High Commissioner in Ottawa. The cost of living has increased very considerably not only in Australia but also throughout the world, and I am particularly concerned to ensure that our diplomatic representatives shall not be reduced to such a state of impecuniosity that Australia’s diplomatic representation will suffer. I know from my experience of our embassy in Washington four years ago, and from my contacts with persons who have recently visited the continent of North America, that our diplomatic representatives in Washington and Ottawa have made a very good impression, and are apparently performing a most useful function. I should like the Minister to assure me that they will be provided with sufficient funds to discharge their duties without embarrassment, and I should also like the honorable gentleman to outline briefly the Government’s intention concerning the future representation of Australia in Washington and Ottawa.
– I agree with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) that it is easy to make the mistake of being too careful in expenditure on the representation of Australia abroad, particularly in important countries. The tremendous changes that have occurred during the last ten years in world relations generally, and in our relations with other countries, particularly those in the East, require that we shall be adequately and efficiently represented abroad. _ One need only point to the vital importance to Australia of our immigration policy to realize that it is imperative that we shall he properly represented overseas. I am particularly concerned about our relations with the United States of America. In consequence of a visit that I made to that country three years ago, I know that Australians are very well received there and that Americans are most anxious to. learn all they can about affairs iia Australia. Unfortunately, however, there is a lamentable ignorance of Australian affairs in that country. Most Australians, because of our close associations with American servicemen during the last war, appear to imagine that Americans as a nation are properly acquainted with Australia. That view is absolutely unfounded-; the great majority of the 140,000,000 people of the United States of America know very little about Australia. It is particularly important, therefore, that we shall be adequately represented in Washington, so that we can make our national aspirations known to the people of the United States of America.
That leads me to observe that particular attention should be paid to the quality of our representation abroad. I do not want to indulge in criticism of individuals, but in the interests of truth I am compelled to say that I formed a most unfavorable impression of our present Ambassador to the United States of America when I was present at the first meeting that he attended in that country. The remarks that he made to that public gathering of American citizens were most unsuitable. Whilst they may have “ gone over “ with Australian audiences, they were certainly not well received by the Americans. In fact, I was completely ashamed of his representation of this country, and I hope that no future Australian representative will have such a prejudicial effect in the United States of America. He spoke of the manner in which we were dealing with strikes in Australia, a number of which had occurred in major industries at that time, and his remarks were such that the large audience that he addressed laughed at them. By way of contrast, I found considerable evidence in the United States of America of the goodwill established for us by our former Minister to Washington, who is now the Minister for National Development and Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Casey). The right honorable gentleman did a great deal to improve our trade relations-
– Order ! The committee is not discussing trade or strikes, and the honorable gentleman must confine his remarks to a discussion of the Estimates of the Department of External Affairs.
– Why does not the honorable gentleman get his boss to deal with the Ambassador in Washington?
– Order ! The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) must not interrupt the honorable member who has the floor.
– His criticism of the Ambassador was scandalous.
– Order ! The honorable member for Parkes will remain =i.lent, otherwise I shall deal with him.
– - You have already dealt with me.
– Order ! The honorable member for Parkes will apologize for having disobeyed my order to remain silent.
– I merely said that you had already dealt with me. I apologize.
– I was endeavouring to emphasize the importance . of the quality of our representation abroad. The matter is not one of party political representation. The important factor is that good relations should be established and maintained between this country and foreign capitals, and that the people of other nations should he educated about our aspirations and the progress that this young nation is making. For that reason the importance to Australia of being properly represented in the United States of America cannot be exaggerated. Of course, I know that the present Minister of External Affairs (Mr. Spender) also realizes that fact because he has taken the trouble to make himself acquainted with conditions in that country. Nevertheless, I am disappointed that the allocation of funds for our representation in Washington is not considerably larger than it is. Although it is proposed to increase the allocation for expenditure upon our Embassy in Washington by approximately £18,000, almost the whole of that increase will probably be absorbed by the change that has occurred in the currency exchange rate between the American dollar and the Australian £1. The comparatively small additional sum proposed to be provided will not permit of any considerable extension of the activities of our Embassy in Washington.
.- There are several matters to which I shall direct the attention of the Minister for Externa] Affairs (Mr. Spender), but before I do so I shall comment upon certain remarks made by the honorable member for Curtin (Mr. Hasluck) in reply to statements that I made when I spoke earlier in the debate. I do not share the opinion of the honorable gentleman that the disadvantages suffered by foreign diplomats in Canberra in consequence of the climate and lack of facilities are comparable with the more serious disadvantages suffered by Australian diplomats in Moscow. In that city deliberate legal restrictions have been placed upon the movement of members of the diplomatic service. However-, I do not think that we should go to the point of severing our diplomatic relations with Moscow. At the same time I think that it is utterly servile to deprecate protests by honorable members against the restrictions placed by the Russian Government upon our diplomatic, representatives in Moscow. Moscow is indulging in a stream of assertion that it is responsible for all the friendly approaches that are made to improve the bad relations between Russia and the western world, and that the democracies, which allegedly do not desire good ‘relations to he established between the East and the West, constantly rebuff those approaches. The fact is that our diplomatic representatives in Moscow are not even permitted by the Russian authorities to exhibit such a harmless documentary film as one showing our people surfing on the beaches. The people of Russia cannot, obtain any idea of life in Australia apart from that disseminated in the official propaganda by their government.
Concerning the Holy Places in Jerusalem, I take the opportunity to point out that I was not advocating that the churches of the western world should be denied access to them. AH I said was that we are not entitled to assume that if the Holy Places were entrusted to the Jews the Christian churches would be denied access to them.
I desire to know whether the Minister has any information concerning the release of Greek children by the Government of Yugoslavia. The honorable gentleman will recall that during the civil war in Greece, the Comintern of which Yugoslavia was then a member issued an order that children were to be abducted from Greece. Since then Yugoslavia is the only country that has released any of the children. Nevertheless a recent newspaper report stated that although a few Greek children had been permitted to go to Australia, the Yugoslav Government was only making superficial efforts to co-operate in releasing the children, and that many of them were still being detained in that country. I particularly ask the Minister to deal with this matter in the course of his reply.
Provision has been made in the estimates of the Department of External Affairs for the payment of a subsidy to encourage diplomatic studies. I assume that that subsidy will be expended almost entirely on the training of the cadet corps at the Canberra University College. Is it possible for the Government to grant a subsidy to universities and colleges to enable certain studies to be undertaken by students? Instruction in some subjects is not available outside Sydney or Melbourne. I am thinking particularly of Oriental languages, which are important as a background for consular and diplomatic training. Although it is possible for officials of the Department of External Affairs to undertake the study of Oriental languages as a postgraduate course, I believe that most authorities agree that they should be learned during the adolescent period. I consider that it would be a desirable innovation if the Government provided a subsidy for universities and colleges to encourage the study of Oriental languages by young people.
In connexion with the discontinuance of our diplomatic representation in Chile I should like to be told whether arrangements have been made for the duties that were formerly carried out by our representatives in Chile to be discharged by our diplomatic representatives in Argentina. I should like to know the location of our embassy in China and why it is shown as a separate item from our representation in Shanghai, which is expected to cost £5,100 this year. Is it that we have a foot in both camps? Our representation with the National Government of China, in Formosa, is expected to cost £20,000, whilst our representation at Shanghai, in the Communistdominated territory of China, is to cost £5,100. What is the status of our representation in Shanghai when we do not recognize the Communist Government of China ?
I turn now to our representation in Italy. I understand that that country is now passing through an unemployment crisis and that it has available labour of certain types that are greatly needed in this country. I believe also that Italy follows the practice of carrying out agreements with France and other neighbouring powers whereby some of that, labour is sent to those countries to work for short-term periods, and is later recalled. It is not migration but is simply a means of helping Italy to alleviate its unemployment problem. Can the Minister say whether the Italian representative in Australia or our representative in Italy has taken up with the Italian Government the possibility of our entering into some such agreement with Italy under which Italian workers, who may not be wanted- by us as permanent immigrants, could be brought here temporarily to engage in work that might be of value to the development of Australia and might also be helpful to Italy in the solution of its unemployment problem ?
Will the Minister answer the points that I have raised in relation to the Greek children, Oriental languages, the mystery of our representation ,in
Shanghai and the disappearance of our legation in Chile.
– I have decided to take the opportunity to speak to the debate at this stage because I consider it advisable to reply, before the debate is adjourned, to some of the issues that have been raised. To begin with I point out that the increase of the proposed vote for the Department of External Alf airs cannot be regarded as undue when it is compared with the proposed votes for other departments. I had to meet the difficulty of complying with the wish of the Government to keep down unnecessary governmental expenditure.
I shall make a few general observations about our representation abroad and a-bout the cost of the allowances paid to our representatives. I consider it to be -correct to say that as far as diplomatic representation abroad is concerned we still have a lot to learn from other countries. The impression that was conveyed to me while I was overseas recently was that, in comparison with other nations, we do not give to our representatives overseas the same degree of facility to represent their nation as other nations give to their representatives. Insofar as I am able to remedy that position, naturally within the limits of available finance, I shall endeavour to do so. I also consider it to be correct to say that, with some exceptions which I shall refrain from mentioning, our representatives overseas, from the heads of missions down to third secretaries, are doing a splendid job for Australia. The new cadets who are entering the diplomatic service are of very fine types, although I do not say that they are better than the cadets who entered it in the past. The cadet system is producing young men and women of first-class types, who will be able to represent this country very well both here and overseas. The system is working out very well and this year we have received more than 100 applicants for about ten vacancies for cadets. I have sought to lay down the qualities which we should seek in applicants for cadetships, namely integrity of character, intellectual curiosity and academic qualifications, in that order. I believe that if we place them in that order we shall obtain outstanding young men and women who will serve us well.
In the past some overseas appointments have been made that have been stated to have been political in character. My own approach to appointments overseas is that they should not be confined to career officers. I believe that, on the contrary, ‘ political experience, for example, should not disqualify a man from appointment as a representative of Australia overseas. Ear too much is published in the press and is said in discussions to the effect that a man who happens to have been in politics should he automatically disqualified from appointment to a position overseas. I do not share that view. I consider that if a man has the qualifications that are necessary for appointment to a post overseas, political experience should not preclude him from being given that appointment, but would be an added advantage.
– That covers Mr. Eric J. Harrison.
– The High Commissioner for Australia in Great Britain is well qualified- to discharge his duties, but I do not desire to- deal with personalities. A number of appointments has to be made overseas and I am satisfied that the positions cannot be filled wholly from the ranks of career diplomats. Consequently, I. shall make it clear that for a long time to. come we shall have to find our overseas representatives and our heads of missions from among people outside the service as well as from among the career men.
I was asked a question with respect to our representatives in Ottawa and Washington. It is proper to say that both of the men who happen to have been appointed to represent Australia in those capitals are my friends, so that any approach that I make to the matter will be purely objective. It is also proper to say that I propose to discuss with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) during either this week or next week the whole subject of our representation overseas, so that I may put before him my views about the best service that can be rendered to Australia in the various countries in which it is represented’. X consider that those who know me realize that I hear our representatives in. Washington and Ottawa goodwill and that ti _i tei * er approach I make to the subject oi: their appointments will be purely an objective one.
– Give them a week’s notice and sack them.
– The honorable member’s interjection can only be described as idiotic and I. can best answer it by pointing out that so far this debate has been conducted by all honorable members on the basis of a dispassionate approach. As far as the appointments of Australia’s present representatives in Washington and Ottawa are concerned all I can say is that that matter will be dealt with in the same way as I have dealt with all other matters that come within my ambit; that is, fairly.
– What will the Minister do about those two appointments?
– If the honorable member bears himself in patience for two weeks he will probably know.
– I think that a couple of the Minister’s friends will bite the dust.
– Until . I have had my proposed discussion with the Prime Minister I shall not be in a position to give any information about possible appointments overseas or about changes of existing representation.
Much of the debate has been concerned with our representation in Soviet Russia. I agree that, for the reasons that were given by the honorable member for Curtin (Mr. Hasluck) and by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), it would be exceedingly unwise, to say the least, for us to terminate our representation in Russia. I do not think that any honorable member is under any misapprehension about my attitude in relation to the conduct of Russia. Long before it was fashionable to do so I directed attention to the dangers of Soviet Russia’s policy. It can be said, therefore, that my approach t» the matter is conditioned by my views about the ultimate objectives of Russia’s foreign policy, which I have held for a long time. But if to-day we were ap proaching for the first time the matter of establishing an embassy in Soviet Russia and I were asked whether we should establish that embassy, my answer would be unquestionably “ Yes “. After all, what is the function of foreign policy? It is to seek the determination of differences between’ countries by diplomatic methods. There is a great deal of sense in the observation that the more difficult a nation’s differences are with another nation the more important is it for that nation to maintain diplomatic relations with the other nation. I do not consider that, even if the matter of having an embassy to Russia were being approached de novo, a decision not to have one there should be reached. In the light of circumstances, when we already have an Ambassador in Russia, his withdrawal at the present time particularly, or at any time, unless there were very strong overriding reasons for taking such action, would involve very serious consequences. No government should contemplate such a step. I have sought neither to underestimate nor to over-estimate the value of our representation in Soviet Russia. I directed the attention of the Parliament some time ago to the severe limitations that were placed upon our representatives in Russia, which we regard as wholly unreasonable compared with the freedom of movement that we have accorded to Russia’s Ambassador and to his staff in Australia. We regard those limitations as quite unwarranted, but would that fact justify terminating our representation in Russia? Some Government supporters disagree with my view, but every man is entitled to his own opinion, and all I can say to those honorable members who hold a contrary view is that I entirely differ from them. I have directed notes to the Russian representative in Australia in regard to the freedom of movement of Australia’representative in Moscow, but, as is well known, notes- to Russia produce no result I have also directed attention to the fact that we have given to the Russians, accommodation at 3 very low rate whereas our accommodation in Soviet Russia is charged for at a very high rate. I have also directed attention to the com.plete lack of reciprocity at other levels, between ourselves and Russia. My view is that we are very distinctly and unjustifiably restricted in Soviet Russia, although we have refused to impose, so far, any similar restrictions upon Russia’s representatives in Australia, but even so I can see no justification for ceasing to maintain our representation in Russia. I agree with the views that have been expressed generally by the honorable member for Curtin and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
I shall attempt to deal with some other matters that have been raised, in the order in which they were raised, though not necessarily in the order of their importance. The subject of our policy in Jerusalem was mentioned. The Jerusalem issue is about to be debated in the General Assembly of the United Nations. I agree that it is an issue that is of deep interest to Christians throughout the world.
– Hear, hear!
– I am fortified by the support of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), as one of the Christians in this Parliament. “We have taken the view that our approach to the problem of Jerusalem should be that our objective ought to be that of securing accessibility to the Holy Places that Christian people wish to visit. There is no difference of opinion about the objective, but only about the means of attaining it. In the past the General Assembly determined upon what is known as corpus separatum, in effect the establishment of a separate state, composed of the Holy Places, which will be controlled, in effect, by an international organization. It is the view of the Australian Government that its approach to the problem must be practical. There is no sense in adhering to an approach that has not produced any results in the past and gives no indication of producing any in the future. This is a subject of consideration between myself and our mission overseas. The Government’s view will be expressed when the matter comes before the United Nations General. Assembly. I can say in general that I think that our approach will be more likely to achieve the object that we have in view than any approach that has been made in the past. I am not canvass ing whether the past approach was wise or not, but it failed to produce results. If we adhere completely to similar lines we shall still fail to produce results. There have been discussions about this matter with many nations, and I have discussed it personally in different parts of the world in an endeavour to find a solution that will be acceptable generally to the Christian people of the world. According to my last communication from overseas we seem to have a fair chance of finding a solution of this problem.
Reference has been made to the allowance of the High Commissioner in Ottawa. It will be found that the allowance to all high commissioners is the same. I have been seeking to reach a conclusion in regard to what is the proper financial level of having Australia represented overseas and the proper method of assessing the salaries of the officers who compose our various missions. To-day a. bill before the House indicated that the chairman of the Public Service Board is to receive a salary of £4.000 a year. Ambassadors and high commissioners are paid £2,500 a year as salary. I believe that the salaries of the ambassadors and high commissioners are getting out of line with the emoluments paid to other officers of the Commonwealth. I think that at a not far distant date, possibly next year, we shall be able to review the allowances and emoluments of the heads of overseas missions and to bring them more into line with the responsibilities of the positions to which they are applicable.
– What are the emoluments of the ambassadors and high commissioners?
– A high commissioner is paid £2,500 a year by way of salary and £2,500 a year by way of allowance. I believe that those sums are the same for each office of high commissioner. Representation overseas requires greater expenditure in some offices than in others. Therefore, while I have been Minister for External Affairs I have sought to ascertain through the various missions, by the submission of details of their expenditure, the degree to which the salaries of. the officers require adjustment. In some cases it may not be necessary to increase the present emoluments, but in other cases it may be found that an increase should be made. This is not a matter upon which a decision can be reached in a short space of time. I hope that by the time the next Estimates are placed before the House the Government will have solved this problem in a satisfactory way.
Reference was made to the lack of an appointment to the office of High Commissioner in South Africa. It is quite true that there is no high commissioner there at present, but a number of appointments will have to be made soon and I propose to discuss them with the Prime Minister in a week or two. However,* the office of the High Commissioner in South Africa has not been vacant for long. Mr. Stirling, the present Ambassador to the Royal Netherlands Government, was the previous High Commissioner in South Africa, having been appointed to that office after the death of Sir George Knowles. Only recently he has been appointed to the Netherlands, and the South African office has been vacant for only a few months. I expect that that and other offices will be filled fairly soon. It is not easy to find men to fill certain positions. Many persons have been suggested for various diplomatic appointments, and it is apparently the belief of some people that any one has the qualities necessary for the discharge of the high duties of ambassador, high commissioner or resident minister. I do not share that view at all. If such persons are to be found outside the Department of External Affairs one has to look for men with special qualifications. No one, no matter how important a task he may have discharged elsewhere or how distinguished he may be in other directions, can necessarily fill the office of high commissioner or ambassador.
The next item relates to the United Nations appeal for children. I share the views of one honorable member about the importance of this fund. The Government has given support in Australia to the voluntary raising of money for the purpose. I believe that no other agency of the United Nations has done more spectacular or humanitarian work than has been done by the organization en-
Mr. Spender. trusted with its appeal for children. Therefore, it will be found that in this matter the Government will make a proper appropriation, the amount of which will be announced shortly.
In relation to the Greek children in Yugoslavia, apart from those who have been brought here so far we have not made much progress. I can tell the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) that we are keeping up our interest and pressure in respect of the matter and that we hope that the number of youngchildren brought here so far will be augmented. There is no absence of desire to achieve the objective, but no matter how strongly we put our views forward they do not produce the results that we want.
– Is there any likelihood of a renewal of the pressure for the release of Archbishop Stepinac similar to the pressure exerted in the case of Cardinal “Mindzenty of Hungary?
– I do not know. I shall endeavour to ascertain the present position and shall communicate it to thehonorable member for Fremantle.
– May I ask what is the position of the Greek children who are in Albania and are being detained away from their parents?
– Somewhat the same consideration applies in that case, but our representations have not produced thedesired results.
– The Government is doing well in regard to Yugoslavia.
– “We are not getting the number of children that we want, but we are keeping the pressure on. Our discussions with the Government of Yugoslavia have been friendly and helpful, and our negotiations will be continued in the hope that they will produce a fruitful’ result.
I was asked about university education in Oriental languages, and the matter of State universities being subsidized to help them to give courses in Oriental languages was also mentioned.
– The matter of Oriental languages being taught in high schoolswas also raised.
– I have not given i.-im’!] deration to the matter of high schools teaching Oriental languages, but the matter of Oriental languages being made subjects of study in State universities has been before me for some time. A review has been made of the lack of finance of State universities and that matter is at present receiving consideration. It is my view that unless something is done about State universities, of at least one of which I have personal knowledge, they will meet serious difficulties in discharging their great responsibilities. I shall assist them as far as I can do so.
I cannot say much about Chile, except that it is an interesting place.’ We have no legation there and I cannot see any chance of establishing one for some time. We have no representation in China of any official character because we have no diplomatic relations with the People’s Government of China. That matter does not call for debate on these Estimates.
– Then why is there a provision in respect of representation in Shanghai ?
– We have an officer in Shanghai.
The last matter with which I shall deal is that of Indonesia. I -believe it will be accepted that it is important to have a mission in Indonesia, and that the only question is whether it should have the status of a- legation, a charge d’affaires, a consul-general, or an embassy. I believe that because Indonesia is now a new nation of about 70,000,000 people and because its people are our nearest neighbours, we should have close and cordial relations with it. In respect of Dutch New Guinea we have very clear differences with Indonesia. The view that the Government took was that it was important that our representation in Indonesia should be on the highest level. I regard that as a sound judgment and believe that events will prove it to be so. The Ambassador, Mr. Hood, is particularly qualified to discharge the duties of his office.
I was asked a question about represen tation in Italy, and whether any discus sion had taken place about short-term engagement of labour. So far as I know none has taken place at all. Neither from our representatives in Italy nor from the Italian Minister here have I been apprised of any such subjectmatter.
I believe that that concludes my observations, with the exception that I intended to refer to the increase of the cost of our representation in Soviet Russia. That increase is almost entirely due to the revaluation of the rouble. In September, 1949, there was a revaluation.
– Do not tell the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) that.
– I thought that I would tell the honorable member who has interjected, and other honorable members. There was a revaluation of the rouble, which increased our expenditure considerably.
– What was the increase?
– The note that I have from the Department of External Affairs will give the facts. It reads -
The 1949-50 Estimates were based insofar as rouble expenditure was concerned, and this was much the greater part, on an exchange rate of 25.7 roubles to the £1 Australia. The devaluation of the £1 Australian in September, 1949, had the effect of reducing the yield in roubles to 17.8, and largely due to this alteration in the exchange rate the expenditure of the embassy in, 1949-50 on salaries and general expenses exceeded the estimate bv approximately £3,500. The above-mentioned rates of exchange were diplomatic rates but the concession that these rates represented was abolished as from the 1st July this year and the present rate is 8.90 roubles to the fi. The result is that some of our items in the Estimates for 1950-51 are almost three times as high as those for the preceding year.
As a result of two things, first, our own devaluation in relation to the £1 sterling ; and secondly, the abolition of the diplomatic rate which previously existed, the relation of the rouble to the £1 has dropped from 25.7 to 8.96. Although we have reduced the personnel of the staff and have not increased office and staff accommodation, nevertheless, our expenditure has increased for the reasons that I have given.
Bill presented by Mr. McEwen, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill is intended to return to wheatgrowers the sum of £16,400,000 which was collected as wheat tax on the 1947-48 wheat crop. As that money is not nowneeded for the purpose, for which it was collected it should be given back to the wheat-growers whose property in equity it is. The wheat stabilization plan has as one of its features a tax on wheat exported from Australia. This tax is paid while the export price of wheat is higher than the Austraiian home consumption price, that is, while the export price is higher than Australian costs of production. Wheat-growers in Australia agreed to this tax as a part of the stabilization plan. The principle behind it is that the industry, in prosperous times, should build up a fund which could be used to cushion the effect of a slump of price The other part of the story is that the Commonwealth has agreed to give a guaranteed price, to wheat-growers.. The guaranteed price covers all wheat sold for use in Australia, and up to 100,000,000 bushels of wheat for export each season. The guarantee is made effective by joint Commonwealth- and State action. The Commonwealth and the States have combined to ensure a reasonable price to Australian wheat-growers. As the growers agreed to build up a fund for their own protection, the Commonwealth guarantees a reasonable price to them, and will provide the requisite money if the growers’ trust fund is found to be insufficient for that purpose.
The original period of the plan, in accordance with legislation that was passed in 1948, was five years. Thus the guarantee will continue to the end of the 1952-53 wheat season. I do not think that that period is long enough, and in order to carry out that Government’s policy of stabilizing the industry, I hope before long to ask the Parliament to approve a ten-year plan. I have already initiated discussions on that subject with the representatives of the wheat industry. In the week before last, in Melbourne, I conferred with the members of the executive of the Australian Wheat Growers Federation and asked them to state the terms and conditions upon which, the federation believed, the industry would be advantaged by extending the stabilization plan for a further ten years. I shall engage in further negotiations with representatives of the industry early in the New Year. If and when agreement is reached between the industry and the Government, I shall engage in negotiations with the State governments the approval of which is essential before the plan can be extended for a period of ten years. Those negotiations will decide the terms of the extended plan, and I refer to them now only in order to emphasize that the Government wishes to provide permanent stability for the wheat industry.
The money collected from the tax on wheat exported is paid into the Wheat Prices Stabilization Fund. At present, the fund holds the complete tax paid in respect of the 1947-48 crop, the whole of the tax from the 1948-49 crop, and most of the tax from the 1.949-50 crop. Before June next it will receive further funds from the 1949-50 crop, and the first payment from the crop that is now being harvested. The wheat pools concerned are No. 11, which i3 the subject of this bill, No. 12, No. 13, and No. 14, which will cover the new crop. The 1947-48 crop was the last of the series of crops acquired by the Commonwealth under its war-time powers and the first crop to which the 1948 wheat export charge applied. It was a record crop, and from it 150,000,000 bushels was exported as either wheat or flour. The amount collected for the fund was 2s. 2d. on each bushel exported, and the total amount paid into the fund from the crop was £16,420,000. The amount in the fund has been invested, and the interest earned amounts to approximately £500,000. The interest will be paid to growers when the tax is refunded through the Australian Wheat Board.
Earlier, I said that growers were to provide a reasonable amount so as to make their own future safe. They have done so. But it is the Government’s policy that growers shall not he asked to make any unreasonable contribution and that the stabilization fund shall not be built up to an excessive amount or retain money that it does not really require to retain for the growers’ protection. The fund is now large enough to meet
Jil! probable demands upon it. As the amount collected from No. 11 Pool is no longer needed by the fund, the Government has decided to return that money to the wheat-growers. They paid it; it has filled its purpose; and they should now get it back because it is theirs.
The fund has received large amounts from the last three wheat pools. Australia has had a series of big wheat crops, and export prices have been high. As a result, the maximum rate of tax has been collected on three big crops, and collections from the three pools total £37,500,000. From No. 13 Pool, that is in respect of the 1949-50 crop, another £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 has still to be received. In addition, the new crop will yield a substantial tax collection, even though rain has done a great deal of damage in Queensland and New South Wales. At this stage, with the harvesting under way in the early districts, and with more than the usual degree of uncertainty existing about the outcome of the harvest owing to weather conditions, it is not practicable to estimate how much more will come into the stabilization fund from the crop. However, it will certainly be a fairly large amount, probably of the order of £10,000,000. In these circumstances, a refund of tax can and should reasonably be made.
It will be noticed that the refund is to be made to No. 11 Pool, which is the oldest pool contributing to the stabilization fund. Payments have been made from later pools, but on the “ first in, first out “ principle, which is the fairest way of making refunds, those pools are not to receive any of the amount that it is now proposed to refund. When it is possible to make a refund it should be made to the oldest pool. That principle is approved by wheat-growers’ organizations. Briefly, it means that the fund is subscribed as far as is practicable by those who will actually benefit from it. There is a reasonably big change in wheat farming each year. Old growers drop out, and new ones come in; and when growers drop out they should receive a refund in preference to those who stay in the industry. The making of payments to the oldest pool is an easy and a fair method. It will be noted that the payment is to be made to the Australian Wheat Board, which will pay the growers the amount as an advance from No. 11 Pool, and will include in it a small amount that is still held in the fund for payment to wheatgrowers. This method of payment is in line with the normal method by which wheat-growers are paid for their wheat, and there is no reason to depart from it.
It gives me a great deal of pleasure to introduce this bill. I am confident that this example of the Government’s policy of providing for the welfare of Australian wheat-growers will meet with the support of the Parliament, and will be universally approved by the Australian public.
Debate (on motion by Mr. POLLARD adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. McEwen, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The object of thi3 bill is to repeal an act that was passed in 1941 but which is now obsolete and the continuance of which would involve the Government in a payment that would not be in accordance with its policy. The act to be repealed was passed in order to meet a war-time contingency, and it has served its purpose. It had only a limited usefulness because the payment of a bounty to keep down the cost of production in primary industries was co-ordinated in the general prices stabilization plan that operated for a number of years.
Honorable members are already aware that the Government decided to discontinue the payment of a subsidy on superphosphate. Accordingly payments ceased on the 30th June, 1950. Now, unless the Superphosphate Bounty Act 1941 is repealed it will be necessary to make payments to manufacturers in accordance with its provisions as from the beginning of July, 1950. This hill will be retrospective to the 1st July, 1950, in order to avoid any liability after the date on which the cessation of the superphosphate subsidy was announced. It i9 simply a machinery measure to repeal an act that has fulfilled its purpose.
What I have said does not completely cover the policy issues that are involved in the termination of the superphosphate bounty. Those issues may be stated briefly. As honorable members will recall, the ‘bounty was first introduced early in the ‘thirties for two purposes. The first of those purposes was to encourage the use of superphosphate at a time when it was not widely in use, although it was- known to have an enormous potential value for Australian agriculture and live-stock husbandry. The second purpose was to reduce costs of production in the industries in which it was used. To-day, it is generally acknowledged that there is no longer any need for the bounty for educational purposes because the value of superphosphate is now widely recognized. Nor does any need now exist for the payment of a bounty to encourage the use of superphosphate, because at present it is in short supply and is rationed- in most of the States. In addition, there is no longer any justification for payment from public funds of a bounty to reduce costs of production when for the overwhelming percentage of users it has ceased to serve that purpose. No one would suggest that it i9 needed to reduce costs of production in the wool-growing and fat lamb industries. Even if it could be contended that the bounty is necessary to reduce costs of production in the wheat and dairying industries, the fact is that both of those industries now operate under a system of guaranteed prices under which the increased cost of superphosphate will be taken into account in determining the prices to be guaranteed for wheat and dairy products. In these circumstances the Government has decided that neither for the original purpose for which the bounty was introduced nor to meet existing circumstances is the continuance of the bounty warranted. Consequently, it is now proposed to terminate the payment of the bounty.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.2 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from the 21st November (vide page 2732), on motion by Mr. Holt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Dr. Evatt having been given the call,
Motion (by Mr. Beale) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) from concluding his speech without limitation of time.
– I appreciate the indulgence of the House in granting me permission to conclude my speech without limitation of time. My chief regret, on this occasion, is that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) is unable to be present to discuss the Government’s proposal to establish a system of national training for the defence force of Australia. He has been vitally interested in, and deeply concerned with that problem, as was shown in the difficult matter that arose some months ago regarding the alteration of the obligation required of personnel of the Citizen Forces. I shall return to that point later in my speech. The association of the Leader of the Opposition with the conduct of World War II., during some of the most critical years of that conflict, led to his having special interest and concern in this great matter.
Broadly speaking, the House has to determine whether it is justifiable, on the facts as we know them, to extend to an enormous degree, having regard to previous requirements, the element of compulsion in the constitution of the Militia. as it is commonly called, the Citizen Forces of Australia. I consider that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), in his second-reading speech, presented his case with studious care and moderation. But there are certain aspects to which it is my duty to direct the attention of the House. The Minister said that this proposal would constitute a profound change in the system of military service in Australia. He gave the relevant details. I do not wish to refer to his speech at any considerable length, but I point out that he stated that the period of service for national trainees would cover 176 days, spread over five years. That is to say, the plan will involve lengthy periods of continuous service. Such a situation will be quite different from the position under the present law, which permits of a period of service not exceeding fourteen days a year.
There are other features of the bill to which I shall not make more than passing reference. Some provisions deal with the reinstatement of the soldier, sailor or airman in his employment. My submission on that matter may be made more appropriately when the bill is being considered in committee, but I express the opinion now that those provisions for civil reinstatement are somewhat paltry. I refer, not to a particular employer, but to industry generally when I say that, if it is to bear a share in this plan, the minimum that may be expected of it is to make up the difference between the civil pay and the military pay of national trainees. All governments do so, and I consider that the measure of protection in the hill, compared with that given by Australian governments to servicemen in wartime, is quite inadequate.
Another matter that I merely mention is the extension of the obligation of service to aliens. That provision raises a most difficult question that should not be dealt with summarily. At this stage, I content myself with reminding the House of its importance. Broadly speaking, all the enlistments under the national training scheme will swell the ranks of the citizen forces of Australia, naval, military and air, and the duration of service will be the extended period of 176 days. To date, the obligation of such personnel has been limited to a period of war, and also to the comparatively short period of training.
Having made those references to the Minister’s second-reading speech, I ask honorable members to look more closely at the general plan of the bill. . The Minister said -
All the services will encourage national service trainees, after their training under that scheme has concluded, to continue to he associated with their units and undertake additional training as do other young men in the Citizen Forces. The services also hope that their association with the units will lead some National Service trainees to enlist in the Permanent Forces.
Such an obligation is not imposed by the. bill, but that is what is expected of thesystem. I do no more than describe it.. It is perfectly proper to emphasize thefact that, by enlistment into the Citizen Forces, which will be officered by and recruited from volunteers, whose obligation will not be limited to service in Australia, a contradiction arises that may be of very serious importance.
I now refer to another passage in the Minister’s second-reading speech, because it is the first time that I have noticed such an admission as it contains. The honorable gentleman said -
Our national service scheme is an integral part of the Government’s general defence policy. The foundations of the post-war defence forces were, as this Government has already acknowledged, laid by the previous Administration.
That is the first time that I have seen such an admission.
– It will be the last time.
– I have seen the reverse, including inspired statements by Ministers and some of their supporters in the press. Yet we read in the report of the Minister’s speech, a plain admission, in frank and factual terms, that the foundations of the post-war defence forces were laid by the previous Administration.
– Do not overstress it.
– The Minister for Defence (Mr. McBride) would not overstress it, because very unfairly he has emphasized the reverse. But I point out that the Minister for Labour and National Service has made an acknowledgment to the Chifley Government for having laid the foundation of the post-war defence forces of Australia. The Minister also said of the Chifley Government’s defence programme -
Our main quarrel with what theydid is that it was not enough and appeared to rely, much too heavily upon the scientists, a few specialists, and small Permanent Service cadres. While feeling that a good deal more was necessary, we have had to reconcile the demands of defence requirements with our other main objectives of production and development. As the Prime Minister has said, we have to do simultaneously three things - attend to our defence requirements, expand our economy and increase our productivity. Having weighed all these things, we have decided that this national scheme is an essential element in the defence programme.
The main question for the House, and for the Parliament, to ask, is whether the Government’s say-so is to determine this matter, or whether the factual base of it should be ascertained independently before a conclusion is drawn. It may be disputed, but I believe it will be agreed that, if the system of training for home defence can be effectively conducted by voluntary enlistments, that will be better than compulsion. I do. not hear any contradiction of that statement. I know that some honorable members consider that voluntaryism in this case would not be so systematic, but I submit that it has been established by the experience of Australia with its great voluntary forces in two world wars. I recognize that there is a body of feeling in the ranks of the Government’s supporters that favours compulsion, but I ask those honorable members whether they favour it for itself, or whether they favour it simply because the voluntary system cannot be effectively conducted. I should have thought that no case can be made for compulsion if the voluntary system is satisfactory.
Government supporters interjecting,
– Order ! Interjections must cease. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is entitled to a hearing. That statement will apply equally to honorable members on both sides of the House.
– I am astonished, because I thought that it would be conceded that there would be no argument in favour of compulsion for the sake of compulsion. I put it to the House, as I put it to the country, that no one could advocate the compulsory system for the Citizen Forces if the voluntary system was succeeding. At any rate, I put that as the point of view of the Labour party, and I submit that it has been established. It is fair to say that the Australian Labour movement, in the crisis, in the emergency, has had no postulates against any use of compulsion in the defence of Australia. I put it to the House that in World War II. the record of the Curtin Government and of the Chifley Government was a record of administrations which, in the emergency, in the crisis, used compulsion for the safety of this country, to a degree that it had never been employed before in the history of Australia. That is to say, compulsion was applied, broadened and extended, on the military side, as far north as the Equator, and on the civil side, to all forms of civil conscription. I mention those matters in order to show that, in the opinion of the Australian Labour movement, there is no magic in voluntaryism as opposed to compulsion if the circumstances constitute such an overriding emergency that compulsion is justified. Everybody knows that what I have said about that matter is proved true by the facts. The Chifley Government, at the conclusion of World War II., established a post-war defence system which, broadly speaking, was based on the voluntary system after the conclusion of the armistice in World War I. Honorable members will recall that people said during World War I. that it was the war to end-all wars. A similar statement was made of World War II. during that conflict. It is true that when hostilities broke out in 1939, Australia was in a state of almost complete unpreparedness for war.
– It was in an infinitely better condition for war than it is in to-day.
– Facts and figures show that the statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) is incorrect and absurd. I thought, from statements that he has made on that subject in the past, that we could regard the matter of Australia’s complete unprepared ness for war in 1939 as axiomatic for the purposes of discussion.
– I said nothing of the kind.
– The fact is that, during “World War II., Australia was threatened with invasion, and the necessities of such a situation overrode all the ordinary beliefs and theories about defence. In November, 1938, Brigadier-General Lloyd admitted that there was not sufficient ammunition in Australia to conduct a full-sized battle for half a day. Ex-Senator A. J. McLachlan, who was a Minister in the Lyons-Page Government, made the following comment in his book, P.A.Q. Australia: - “ I was very dissatisfied with the absence of a defence policy”. Knowing that, after an armistice, the tendency was to lapse immediately into a condition of relative unpreparedness, the Chifley Government, when Mr. Dedman was Minister for Defence, inaugurated a five-year defence plan which was to operate from 1947 to 1952.
– What a plan!
– I wish the Minister for External Affairs would control himself. I have never heard any substantial criticism of that plan from him.
Provision was made in the plan for a total expenditure of £295,000,000 - an enormous amount. It was the largest sum that had .been provided by any Government for peace-time expenditure on defence either in the aggregate over a period of five years or on the basis of an annual average. It was the amount that the Chifley Government considered to be necessary as the price of security in the post-war conditions. One feature of the plan was the provision for scientific research, which had a very high priority, in order to ensure that Australia should be kept fully abreast of developments in weapons and methods of waging war. Thus, the long-range guided weapons project was established by the Chifley Government as a joint undertaking with the Government of the United Kingdom. That project has increased the capacity of Australia for defence to a great degree, particularly in view of the limited manpower of the nation and the enormous territory that has to be defended. It has also helped to increase the security of the British Commonwealth as a result of the dispersal of its joint resources. The outstanding feature of the naval section of the plan was the development of naval aviation for the first time in Australia. This provided for the use of the modern task force, which was employed with tremendous effect by the United States naval forces in the Pacific region during World War II. Provision was made for the purchase of aircraft carriers and the construction of additional destroyers. The number of ships in commission was 26, and the plan provided for a reserve of 85 vessels. I shall refer later to the personnel strength of the Navy under that plan.
An important development that was involved in the Army section of the plan was the organization for the first time of a permanent field force of a brigade group. The value of that was that we had a force of permanent troops trained to a very high standard in readiness for quick action in any emergency, supported by other units. The plan provided for a strength of 19,000 men in the permanent Army. The pre-war strength of the Australian Army was only 3,900. The target for the Citizen Military Force was 50,000, but that strength was to be achieved over the period . from 1947 to 1952. At the end of July, 1949, the figure exceeded 15,000.
– On paper!
– No, not on paper. The plan was on paper, but it was being carried out. If the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) will listen, he will learn that substantial progress was made in giving effect to the plan. The success that was achieved has never been fairly acknowledged by Government supporters, but they will have to admit the facts sooner or later.
The Chifley Government’s plan provided for an air force trained in the technique of modern air warfare, fully equipped with modern aircraft and capable of rapid expansion, which was to consist of sixteen operational squadrons, four of which were to be Citizen Air Force squadrons. I shall not deal with the details of the equipment, but the authorized personnel strength was 13,092.
– On paper! The Government did not get half that number.
-Order! I have warned the House once that interjections must cease. That warning applies to all honorable gentlemen
– Why not put him out?
-Order! The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) will leave the chamber for the rest of the night under Standing Order 303.
The honorable member for Watson thereupon withdrew from the chamber.
– The authorized personnel strength of the Air Force under the Chifley Government’s plan was 13,092. The pre-war strength was only 3,500. The lessons of war had demonstrated the paramount importance “of air power. Supporting the three armed services under the Chifley Government’s plan were munitions, aircraft production and supply organizations. There had been great developments in those branches of defence activity which had helped Australia to attain a high degree of self dependence in the local production df aircraft, munitions and equipment for the armed forces.
About the middle of 1949, something in the nature of a quiet whispering campaign against the defence scheme was initiated, as I shall establish shortly by reference to statements that were made by the Deputy Chief of the General Staff. One of the points of the campaign was to the effect that the only satisfactory defence plan would be one that wa9 based on compulsion. Australia is not a country of unlimited resources. It cannot continue to expand industry in order to become a Pacific support area for the British Commonwealth if too large a proportion of man-power is withdrawn for continuous military training over long periods. That was the view of the Chifley Government and its advisers at that time. The plan was to have the Citizen Military Force better trained and equipped than it was prior to World War II. The Chifley Government was advised that the system of compulsory service, for which this bill provides, was not appropriate to the needs of the country then because circumstances had changed and there had been a development of new weapons of a highly intricate character and new methods of warfare. The primary emphasis, according to the best advisers in the country, should be placed upon the scientific aspect of weapons and upon technical and industrial productive capacity. That presented a new concept of the allocation of man-power for defence purposes, which differed fundamentally from the generally accepted pre-war ideas. Broadly, it provided the basis of the Chifley-Dedman plan for defence.
What happened to that plan? What was the measure of its success up to the time when the present Government took office? It is very important that the facts be established. Many of the relevant facts were stated by LieutenantGeneral Rowell, who was then the Deputy Chief of the General Staff, in a speech in Adelaide which was reported in the Melbourne Herald of the 11th April, 1949, only about six months before the general election. Lieutenant-General Rowell thought it proper and within the scope of his duty, when addressing the United Services Institution, to denounce persons who were, as he said, “doing untold harm to Australia’s defence organization “. He said that a big majority of Australians had a negative attitude to Army problems instead of goodwill towards those who were dealing with them. It was a disturbing fact that the Army had to be defended by a serving soldier. He complained that the critics had condemned the Chifley Government’s defence policy as a whole, had described the Army as a “.poor show “ and, in general terms, had said that the state of defence preparedness was far less than it had been before World War II. The time had come for some one quite free from political bias to put the case for -the Army. Opposition to the existing order was based primarily on the categorical statement that anything less than compulsory service would be useless.
– And quite right, too !
– That is the opinion of the honorable member for Henty.
-Order ! The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) will apologize or he will be made to leave the chamber.
– Very well, Mr. Speaker. Am I to apologize for saying that the statement was right-
– The honorable gentleman will apologize for disobeying my order that interjections must cease.
– I apologize to you, sir.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker, Could the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) be given an opportunity to apologize for his earlier interjection?
– It has already been arranged that the honorable member shall have the opportunity to do so as soon as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition concludes his speech.
– When the interruption occurred, Mr. Speaker, I was referring to Lieu tenant-General Rowell’s statement, that compulsory service would involve a very large increase of the defence budget and that defence could not be considered in several water-tight compartments. He said -
If you propose to spend n lot of additional money on a system which benefits only onn service, you must then think again and decide whether . . . these extra funds should not bc devoted to .ill three services . . . The major post-war problem is to get back to a framework of formations and units on which Australia can build in an emergency. This means a heavy programme of training cadres of regular personel for C.M.F. units, and reconditioning equipment and training depots.
I say advisedly that, to the extent necessary to meet tin emergency, we have re-established our basic organization.
Lieutenant-General Rowell added that, despite the fact that civil industry offered greater inducements, the Army was getting a steady flow of recruits for the Regular Army considering the chronic all-round shortage of man-power at that time. Recruiting for the Citizen Military Force had satisfied expectations. Although the target figure was 50,000, it had never expected that this number would be achieved “ in one wild rush “.
Honorable members will note that the programme was designed to cover a period of five years and that the form had only half expired when the Government met defeat at the general election. Lieutenant-General Rowell said, in reply to critics who had slated the Army for its alleged lack of preparedness, that in vivid contrast with the pre-war era of antiquated artillery, broomsticks and out of date transport, the Army then had a wealth of equipment which, in its main essentials, was as good as that of any other country. Those were very powerful and direct statements, and they must be taken into account by any fair-minded person who considers this subject. The General added that there was a greatly improved organization with which to face a future emergency. Head-quarters and regular cadres in Citizen Military Force formations and units were stronger and better in every way and there was a great reservoir of trained men who had gained their experience the hard way. Their value as a potential reserve would last along time. The Vice-Chief of the General Staff had to rebuke the people who were whispering against the new post-war defence system. He had to denounce its critics and say that the scheme was progressing satisfactorily.
In November of 1949 two years remained in which to complete the programme. The planned strength of the Permanent Navy was 14,753 but even at that time its actual strength was 10,148 which was more than 65 per cent, of the quota proportionate to that stage of the plan. The planned strength of the Permanent Military Forces was 19,000 and the strength actually achieved by November, 1949, was 14,861, which amounted to 76 per cent, of the fiveyear programme. The planned strength of the Permanent Air Force was 13,092, and the actual strength in November, 1949, was 9,073. Throughout the Permanent Forces the numbers recruited represented more than the proportionate quota for the two-and-a-half-year period. So far as the Citizen Military Force was concerned, at that time the result was not so satisfactory. General Rowell said that it was not expected that the ranks would 1-e completely filled. Sixteen thousand four hundred and fifty-nine men had entered the Citizen Military Force in that period, and the final strength was to he 50,000. General Rowell explained the reason for that. Two years after the plan started it was reviewed by the permanent heads of defence and apparently they wore satisfied that, having regard to the limitations imposed by the shortage of man-power and materials, every endeavour was being made to achieve the planned rate of progress.
These figures establish that instead of there having been no post-war plan there was a plan which had been recommended to the Government by experts - by the chiefs of staff, the heads of supply, the heads of munitions and advisers from Britain. The Government consulted General Montgomery, who was in Australia. On the 5th July, 1949, six months before the present Government came to office, the present Leader of the Opposition extended the plan. He then said -
Cabinet yesterday approved of recommendations by the Council of Defence for increases “amounting to £45,000,000 in the services’ allotment for the five years’ defence programme.
That increase raised the cost of the fiveyear plan from the £250,000,000 which had been approved in 1947, to £295,000,000. The then Prime Minister said that the additional finance was intended to enable the achievement of those objectives that were physically possible under existing economic conditions. The increased programme allotment was to be subject to annual review, lt practically amounted to a £300,000,000 programme which was limited by shortages of man-power and material, but it was carried into effect and carefully administered by the then Minister for Defence, Mr. Dedman, and the service Ministers. I submit that the figures that I have cited establish that beyond a doubt.
The details of the plan were contained in a statement circulated by Mr. Dedman in June, 1947, in which be dealt with all aspects of the matter. That was an entirely new plan in Australian defence history. It emphasized the importance of scientific research and development. It referred to the annual allotment. A part of the Minister’s statement read as follows : - lt is realized that these arc substantial figures for a peace-time expenditure following so closely mi a victorious war. It is the amount under present circumstances which tha Government considers should be devoted to defence.
Mr. Dedman dealt in detail with the programme for the Navy and the Army along the lines of Lieutenant-General Rowell ‘s statement.
In December, 1949, the present Government came to office. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) has said quite frankly in his second-reading speech that the basis of the defence plan of this Government was the post-war defence plan of the Chifley Government. Basically, they are the same. The extension has been announced only recently by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). It is not possible to pronounce final judgment upon it because its full effects are not yet known. On the 27th and 28th September correspondence passed between the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister with regard to the new obligations that were to be placed on all members of the Citizen Forces as well as on members of the Permanent Forces. As the right honorable member for Macquarie pointed out in his letter to the Prime Minister, Labour’s army programme was an integral part of the general defence plan and covered both the Permanent Military Forces and the Citizen Forces. In the recruitment of personnel for the two basic forces it was never intended that the soldier should be placed under an obligation to serve anywhere in the world. On the contrary, the very reason for the foundation of the two forces was the military defence of the continent and the islands that have been placed under Australian authority. It is apparent that the new system of recruiting has not succeeded up to the present. Honorable members do not know the full details of the recruiting campaign which commenced after the complete alteration of the obligation of the citizen soldier. The basic requirement of the Citizen Military Force was service in Australia. That force was basic to the home defence of Australia. The Government altered the obligation of the members of the Citizen Military Force, with the result that the response to army recruiting was admittedly unsatisfactory and disappointing.
– It was worse previously.
– Let us have a committee to establish the facts! LieutenantGeneral Rowell’s statement and the figures that I have in my possession negative the assertion. The rate of recruitment was not satisfactory previously. I do not suggest that almost the full quota of 50,000 men had been enlisted, but I submit that the alteration of the obligation at once tended to eliminate the source from which recruits for those forces were obtained. Many members of the ‘Citizen Military Force, especially officers and non-commissioned officers, would be unable to enter into such an obligation after, a. certain age and it was at least a by-product of the Government’s plan that they were no longer to remain part and parcel of the Citizen Forces. The House is entitled to know the facts with regard to the recruiting campaign. Let us suppose that the alteration of the obligation of recruits was one of the main reasons why efforts at recruiting did not meet with the success anticipated. What follows from that? If the Government reinstituted the system of service confined to Australia and its territories a completely different aspect would at once be given to the problem of strengthening our basic forces, which the Government seeks to solve by means of this bill. The alteration of obligation changed the nature of the Citizen Military Force, which was a home defence force. The Prime Minister stated recently that military personnel would not be sent outside Australia except in the case of a full-scale war. That shows clearly that a blunder has been made, and it is time this policy was reconsidered by the Government.
Honorable members are familiar with the provisions of the Defence Act. The intention of that statute is contradicted by certain proposals which the Prime Minister announced over the air. It was intended that the home defence unit of Australia should be the Citizen Military Force. That position has been altered in a way that will not assist the defence of this country, but will do a great deal to. confuse it and to disturb the ChifleyDedman defence plan, which will he prevented from continuing towards its normal successful completion by 1952. This is a problem of the very greatest moment to the Labour movement. The Labour movement regards the establishment of a defence organization on a voluntary basis, a national survey of industries for defence purposes and the compulsory mobilization of all our services in the event of an attack, as three fundamental requirements of its post-war defence policy. In addition the history of World War II. showed that in an emergency Labour would be prepared to extend the element of compulsion - wherever necessary - compulsory measures being taken to fit in with the nature and extent of the emergency. That was the policy of the Curtin Government which was approved by the people of Australia. In times that are not of that character the efforts must be measured by all the relevant circumstances, including the capacity of Australia. A practical degree of flexibility was exhibited in the defence plans of Labour administrations. We are confident that any necessary force for home defence, to. the limit of 50,000, as envisaged in the proposals for a Citizen Military Force in the Dedman plan, might be raised if a vigorous effort were made to achieve that result on the old system. The change of that system was made by the present Government, under strong protest from the present Leader of the Opposition on behalf of the Labour movement.
The plan now proposed by the Govern ment does not give sufficient attention to the fact that the defence of the nation involves a well-developed and properly decentralized industrial capacity. Although our population has increased substantially in recent years we still have vast undeveloped tracts of land, and there i.-i a very definite limit to the man-power that can be spared from vital industries such as those engaged, or capable of being engaged, in the production of munitions, and in the production of food and other requirements. I submit that the Labour plan of 1947-4S was a comprehensive, viable plan that fitted in with our economy, and envisaged an objective that this country could attain. It covered the three fighting services satisfactorily from the most modern point of view, and included scientific weapons and research, which would have meant the provision of the most up-to-date equipment for the defence of the country. That plan was prepared by Labour on the advice of the experts. I mention that fact because the Minister for Labour and National Service lias stated that in preparing the plan in the measure now before us he was advised by the experts. I repeat that the Chifley Government’s plan was based on the advice of the experts, a fact that is implicit in the statement made by LieutenantGeneral Rowell. The plan was capable of expansion in an emergency. It was on the way towards success, and in the opinion of the Labour party it would have succeeded had it been kept going according to the plans prepared. The scheme put forward by the present Government suffers from a defect that was disclosed in the interjection made by the honorable member for Henty to the effect that compulsion is the remedy.
– It is more just. ^ Dr. EVATT. - And the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) now says that it is more just. That is not the view expressed by the Minister for Labour and National Service in his speech. If the Government were to say that it favoured compulsion because it believes that that system is more just than the system of voluntary enlistment, that point of view would have some merit. After, all it is arguable, and it is at least logical. However, I suggest that the bill sets aside the successful features on which the defence policy of this country has hitherto been based. Labour attempted to expand very greatly the three fighting services compared with their pre-war strength, and, in consequence of constant meetings with the chiefs of staff and conferences between the Minister for Supply and the chiefs of staff, we were on the way towards success.
Why does the Government say, “We are not going to have a Citizen Military Force on the old system. We are going to alter the ‘basis entirely. We are going to have every member of the community volunteer and render himself liable for service anywhere in the world”? Every country has its own approach to problems of defence. ‘ There are certain traditions of Australia of which all honorable members are aware. I submit that the present plan is an experiment that may prove completely disastrous, and I consider that after a proper inquiry a bi-partisan group would recommend that “the steps taken by the Government , should be retraced and that no further steps in the same direction be taken.
I have endeavoured to review the postwar position, to point out the merits of Labour’s plan for defence in the event of post-war hostilities occurring, and to show how that plan was interfered with by the recent action of the present Government. Before this plan is implemented and compulsion is applied to our young men to serve in the forces for long periods, a more satisfactory inquiryshould be made by the Parliament, which should not be expected to accept the mere statement of Ministers that they consider this plan to be necessary because of the advice that they have received. A proper determination should be made by a competent body of the facts and the requirements of the situation. What are the modern defence requirements of Australia? What should be done from the stand-point of man-power? What can be done effectively, having regard to the two elements mentioned by the Minister, of production and the maintenance of a viable and a working economy? How best can Australia perform this job? I do not regard the furnishing of answers to those questions as something than can be determined solely by the Government on its own responsibility, more particularly since the present Government proposes to alter an established plan that was working satisfactorily.
The Parliament should ascertain the defence needs of the community and what should be done to fulfil those needs. The Labour party is quite willing to take an active share in any such inquiry, and I say so on its behalf. We must examine the true economic potential of Australia, and the reasons for the apparent lack of success - I shall not say failure - of the recruiting campaign that was prosecuted with such great vigour in its early stages. I think that the main reason for the lack of ‘success of that campaign is the alteration of the plan approved of by the previous Government. I think that if the nature of service in the Citizen Military Force had not been altered by the present Government there would have been a far greater response to the recruiting campaign. I submit that the action taken by the present Government tended to cut off the flow of recruits for the Citizen Forces, and I also submit that the Government’s present plan will not furnish any real replacement.
The Labour party has no compunction or inhibitions against adopting any particular method of defence service, the efficacy of which has been proved in the past. However, we say that after the recent world war the system of voluntary enlistment should not have been abandoned if it could have been made a practicable success. It was becoming a practicable success, as was proved by the statement made by Lieutenant-General Rowell, who was then Vice-Chief of the General Staff and has now become Chief of the General Staff. We desire that the maximum practicable effort shall be made by Australia to defend itself, having regard, on the one hand, to defence necessities, and, on the other hand, to what can be done effectively.
I submit that all members of the House are deeply interested in this matter. It has often been said that defence is closely related to foreign policy, and that is true. On behalf of the Labour party, I submit that the proposals contained in this measure should be referred to an allparty committee to examine, on the one hand, the economic and man-power capacities of Australia and, on the other hand, the defence needs of the community. I therefore move -
That all words after “That” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ the Government’s proposals in the bill to provide for compulsory national service in the Defence Forces be investigated and reported upon by an appropriate all-party committee which should be authorized to examine all the relevant defence, man-power and economic needs and capacities of Australia and to call witnesses including defence personnel and representatives of labour, industry and commerce”.
– I formally second the motion and reserve my right to speak later.
– Members of the Opposition would assist in the establishment of such a committee as I have proposed. We believe that the time expended by such a committee in making its inquiries and submitting its report need not necessarily be long. We should like to be informed specifically on the matters that I have mentioned, and I submit that we are entitled to that information. The amendment that I have moved should commend itself to those who desire that a proposal such as that put forward by the Government should be treated not as a mere party political problem but as a matter of national importance.
The honorable member for Watson (Mr.Curtin) having been re-admitted to the chamber by the Sergeant at Arms at the direction of Mr. Speaker.
– Does the honorable member for Watson (Mr.Curtin) desire to apologize?
– Yes. I apologize.
– I think that the House will agree, and I feel certain that the country will agree, that no more abject apology for the refusal of the Opposition to face up to facts has ever been given than that made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) in the speech that he has just made. We are considering one of the most important national measures that has been discussed in this House since the end of the recent war. If the views expressed by the right honorable gentleman represent correctly the views of the Opposition, then it is clear that honorable members opposite are completely unaware of the need for any urgency in this vital matter of defence. I should have some respect for the right honorable gentleman and his supporters if they had the courage to say where they stand on this matter. However, they are unable, as they have shown on several occasions during the last few months, to tell the people of the country where they stand. That is why they have decided to move an amendment to the Government’s proposals. The moving of that amendment is a mere subterfuge to give them time in which to make up their minds, which are, at the moment, in a dither. They want the people of Australia to indicate to them just what they want. That is precisely the attitude that was adopted by Labour towards the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. When they discover what the reaction of the people is to the present proposal they will fall into line with it, as they did when the people demonstrated their support of the anti-Communist measure. Of course, that attitude completely ignores the fact that the proposals in this measure are urgent and important in the interests of national defence.
We received some idea of the probable policy of Labour towards this important subject of defence from the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) on the budget. I regret that I should have to mention these matters in the absence of the right honorable gentleman ; but, after all, he is the parliamentary leader of the Labour party, and 1 assume, although I have had occasion to doubt it sometimes, that the views that he expresses are those of the party that he lead9. However, I give the right honorable gentleman credit for having expressed courageously the views of the party that he leads. He apparently thinks defence is of such minor importance that, although the Hansard report of the speech that he made in the debate on the budget occupies twenty columns, less than half a column is devoted to defence matters.
The right honorable gentleman said, first, that some limit should be placed on defence, and that the limit should be gauged by our capacity to render the services required or to bring into being the necessary means of rendering these services. Then he went on to voice some platitudes to the effect that we required an efficient air force and navy, and to express some views about the form of attack to which this country might be subjected in the next world war. He then made a statement about our armed services, than which no more damaging utterance could be made by any person in authority. He warned the members of the Government that they should beware of the advices that they received from their service chiefs and said that army authorities invariably requisition for about five times the volume of materials that they really need.
– I rise to order. Is the Minister for Defence (Mr. McBride) quoting from Hansard of the current session ?
– I do not know.
– He is quoting from the budget speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley).
– The budget is debated in the Committee of Supply, so I have no knowledge of what is said on it. However if the Minister is quoting from Hansard of the current session I ask him to desist from doing so.
– I am not quoting from Hansard. I am quoting from notes that I took when the Leader of the Opposition made his speech on the budget. In view of what he said I am not astonished that the Labour party is unaware of the urgency and importance of defence. It rather astonishes me, however, that any party can be so ignorant of what is happening in the world that it can suggest that the defence preparedness of this country, as it stands, is equal to meeting the calls that may be made upon it. As a matter of fact, we have never had a more devastating example of the defence unpreparedness of this country than we had on the recent occasion on which the United Nations called for military forces to assist in resisting aggression in Korea. When that call came we did not have one man available to send to the assistance of the United Nations. We had to enlist men at that stage. That fiasco happened after the whole of the Opposition had for a long time been giving vocal support to the United Nations. The present Deputy Leader of the Opposition had been peregrinating round the world, giving advice to all and sundry, telling them about the importance of the United Nations, and saying how he supported it to the last ditch. But in’ fact his support never went beyond words. To show how futile that support was it is only necessary to say that the Labour party, when in office, never attempted to fulfil the obligations that it had entered into under the United Nations Charter on behalf of this country. I call the attention of the House to Article 43 of the United Nations Charter to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition subscribed most heartily. It states -
Members of the United Nations-
A designation that applies to Australia - in order to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security, undertake to make available to the Security Council on it* call-
And not twelve months afterwards - in accordance with a special agreement or agreements, armed forces, assistance and facilities, including rights of passage necessary for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security.
What action did the Labour party take to measure up to those obligations? None! In fact the whole outlook of the Opposition on this most important matter is that we shall not have a war for ten years, so we can dawdle along. My authority for that statement is the ex-Minister for Defence, Mr. Dedman, who stated in this chamber while he was Minister for Defence that there was no fear of war for ten years. I have examined the advices that came from the military authorities during the Chifley Government’s term of office, and I cannot find one item of advice on which Mr. Dedman could have based that statement. I do not knew where he obtained the information or the advice upon which he based it, but he did not get it from the expert authorities.
– That is exactly where he got it from.
– I have examined the files and have found no evidence of such advice having been given. Perhaps it is one of those pieces of oral advice that Ministers receive on occasions.
– He consulted himself.
– Yes, and answered himself. Irrespective of where the information may have come from, the world position has changed since the Chifley Government left office, and it is still changing. Whatever the views of honorable members opposite, or of their advisers, may have been when the Labour party wa= in office, the Opposition should now bring itself up to date. Let us look at the world as it is to-day. when the cold war is on practically all over the globe and, in fact, is becoming warm, and even hot, in some places.
Let us consider the views of the governments of other countries that have to face problems of defence similar to our own. Do those governments sit back and decide that the plans that they evolved in 1947 are the plans to which they will adhere now? Of course they do not ! To illustrate that point I shall mention what has been done in two countries, one of which is ruled by a socialist government, and the other of which is ruled by a non-socialist government, so that honorable members will be able to see how defence is placed above party politics in those countries, and is put on a national basis. What has been done by Great Britain, which received the full impact of the last war, and which has been striving manfully to rehabilitate itself during the last five years ?
– The Minister has been running down the Attlee Government of Great Britain for years.
– Order !
– Whatever I have said about that Government in relation to other matters, I have applauded its efforts in connexion with defence. Last year Britain expended on defence about £17 or £18 a head of population, and raised a force of about S00,000 soldiers. However, realizing the trend of international events, the British Government decided that it had to step up its efforts above the level of last year ; consequently, instead of expending about £800,000,000 on defence it now proposes to expend about £1,200,000,000. In other words, the British Government will increase its expenditure on defence from £17 or £1S a head of population a year to £25 a head of population a year. That is surely an indication that, whatever the Opposition in this Parliament may think about defence, their own kith and kin in England believe that the position is urgent and that there is no time to refer what they intend to do to a commission or a committee. They have made their decision, and they are going ahead to give effect to if.
I turn now to the example afforded by the second, and non-socialist government, that of the United States of America. Prior to the last war America was almost entirely isolationist in its outlook, but that position has changed. That country has assumed its responsibilities as leader of the world in a magnificent fashion. Since the end of the war it has not only rehabilitated itself but has also contributed largely to the rehabilitation of all the war-stricken countries. Last year it expended on defence about £43 a head of population, and this year it has decided that the position is so serious and urgent that it will expend about £86 a head of population. It proposes to increase its army immediately from a strength of 2,000,000 men to a strength of 3,000,000 men. In addition to meeting its own defence requirements it is providing military assistance to most of the democratic countries of the world. President Truman does not go to American people and apologize for what he is doing. He tells them the true position frankly, and asks them for their co-operation, because he believes that the position is so urgent that half measures will not suffice to meet it. I shall refer briefly to a few extracts from a broadcast that President Truman made to the American nation following the decision to increase America’s expenditure on armed forces. Amongst other things he said that the Government had decided not only to develop America’s own military strength but also to assist in the development of the military strength of the free nations throughout the world. He said -
The United State* of America must more than double its defence efforts. We have been spending about 15.000,000,000 dollars per year for defence. We are stepping up this rate rapidly. By next Tunc, under our present plans, we expect to bc spending at the rate of at least 30.000,000,000 dollars a year. In the year after that we shall probably have to spend more than 30.000.000.000 dollar’s, and wo must bc prepared to maintain a. very strong defence programme for many years to come.
Flic then went on to say -
Our second problem is to pay for our increased defences. There is only one sensible way to do this. It is the plain simple direct way. We should pay for them as we go. nut of taxes.
He then called upon Congress to impose extra taxes. He said that he regarded the tax bill that was about to be passed by Congress as the first instalment of the defence programme which would raise an estimated 4,50S,000,000 dollars extra for defence. He then told the nation that America’s defence programme would not be undertaken in any “ business as usual manner, and he called upon the people for a real effort. To the consumers he said. “ Buy only what you really need, and cannot do without “. To the businessmen lit’ said, “ Do not pile up inventories. Mold your prices down “. To the wageearner he said, “Do hot ask for wage increases beyond what is needed to meet the rises of the cost of living “. Finally he said to the people generally -
We should save as much as we can out of nil-rent income. Every dollar of saving now will serve several purposes, lc will help to hold prices down. It will help every family to provide for the future, and it will also help to provide investment funds that are needed to expand production.
That was a straightforward pronouncement of policy. There was no argument, about whether America should continue with that defence programme, or about the sacrifices that the President was asking the American people to make. In contrast to that plain statement, we have the Opposition here dithering and refusing to face up to what it should know to be an urgent necessity for this country. I do not know whether another world war is inevitable, but one thing of which I am certain is that such a war will become inevitable unless the democracies become strong. I believe that the people of this country will be prepared, once they know the facts, to face up to whatever is asked of them. One of the pleasing features of our people is that when called upon, for an effort they will make it. How can the people of this country know the true position when a party that represents, or rather misrepresents, 50 per cent, of the population is standing almost foursquare against this bill? The Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned some of the so-called weaknesses of the present programme of the Government. He extolled the programme laid down !by the previous Government, which, as the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) rightly said, is the foundation upon which we hope to build. We hope to build and not to stagnate ;!J the country was stagnating under the regime of the previous Government. That Government entered upon its defence programme with great enthusiasm and initiated a recruiting campaign which failed absolutely.
– No, it did not fail.
– lt failed dismally, and although there was a defence establishment of just over 100,000 in all three services, at the end of last year only 60,591 persons were engaged in those services.
– It was a programme designed to reach its climax in 1952.
– I agree; nevertheless it was stagnating. One of the occurrences that should have aroused the
Opposition out of its complacency was the Korean incident. But it completely ignored that and decided to carry on as it had been doing. The ideas of the mern.bers of the Opposition are completely -ossified. Like the Bourbons of France, they lea ru nothing and forget nothing.
The fact it that this Government relied upon the advice that it received, largely from the same sources as had supplied -advice to the Opposition party when it was in office, although our advice was apparently not on all fours with thatreceived by that party, that it had great, responsibilities to Australia, to the British Empire and to the United Nations. If we were prepared to meet those responsibilities we had to -do something about the matter of defence. Therefore we embarked upon a recruiting programme. Much to our astonishment. although that programme was based on voluntary enlistment, the Leader of the
Opposition and those behind him abjectly refused to help in this most urgent campaign because we altered the terms of enlistment. I am very pleased to say that some of the Opposition’s colleagues in the various States did not adopt the same attitude. The Premier of
Queensland and the Premier of Tasmania stood four square behind us. I believe that the Premier of New South Wales adopts a favourable attitude towards the
Government on this matter, although he has not been so prominent as have been -.the other two Premiers.
Honorable members opposite, as elected leaders of public opinion, have refused to help the Government in this most important recruiting campaign. They bring up all kinds of futile excuses for that attitude. They cannot say that we are cutting across their old policy, whether it is meritorious or not, because whatever we are doing is being done on a voluntary basis. Surely it is time that we abandoned this old shibboleth of the Labour party that nobody should be asked to serve overseas. After all, during the years about half our defence forces have always been enlisted for service anywhere. The Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Australian Navy can be sent anywhere in the world, yet the Opposition says that some sacrosanct principle will be breached if members of the Army are asked to enlist under the same conditions. Honorable members opposite are just trying to confuse the people of this country about the real need at the present time. That is a most despicable line of action and one which must rebound against them, because I believe that the people of this country are rapidly becoming aware of the necessity for preparedness in the present state of the world, and are looking for a government that will give them a lead in this matter.
A great deal has been said by the Opposition about the failure of the present recruiting campaign. Whatever failure has occurred can be laid at the door of the most confusing and destructive criticism that has been offered by the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and their followers. But the Government is going ahead with its recruiting campaign.
We have excellent people associated with it who are getting wonderful support from one end of Australia to the other, and we are building up an organization which I am certain will get results in the not far distant future. We believe that there is an obligation upon U9 to train some of our young people, and we offer no apology at all for our action. If any apology is necessary it is because of the lateness of the introduction of this scheme. If this policy had been carried out immediately after the war when the Labour Government could have
USed ite powers of call-up, there would be over 100,000 trained men in this country to-<lay. Instead of that we are 100,000 men short of our needs and we must try to overtake the lag caused by the previous Government. I am confident, not only that our recruiting campaign will succeed, but also that our national service scheme will succeed. I believe that our scheme has the support of the majority of the people and that they are willing and anxious to play their part in the protection of tha democratic institutions of this country. The attitude of the Opposition i9 the most despicable that could be adopted by any political party at any time. If honorable members opposite had had the courage to say, “We are opposed to this thing” one could have had some respect for them, but all that they are trying to do is to delay and confuse. I believe that the people of this country are alive to the actions of this Opposition. The people showed the Opposition what they thought about the Communist Party Dissolution Bill and they are not going to give the Opposition a chance to oppose this bill and get away with it. The Opposition has much to answer for, and I do not believe that it can face the people with confidence. I hope and trust that in the not far distant future we shall be able to give the people of this country an opportunity to express their views not only on the attitude of the Opposition, but also on the programme of the Government for the defence of this country.
– I am sure that honorable members m,U st recognize that the House has been treated to a most vitriolic speech by the Minister for Defence (Mr. McBride). The Minister was quite prepared to call the Opposition “ despicable “. When any Minister makes such a charge he descends to the lowest depths to which he could descend in upbraiding an Opposition which does not fall in with his wishes. I am amazed that the Minister for Defence used the United Nations in his attack upon the Opposition. He complained that about a month or so ago we did not have a man to send to theKorean war. If that was the position, what had the Government been doing in the previous ten months? It had an opportunity during that time to put some of its ideas into operation. If the Government and the Minister really believe that a war in the near future islikely, and that the previous Minister for Defence should be upbraided for having expressed the belief that there would’ not be a war for about ten years, why has the Government not taken some action before this to advance the preparedness of the country? The Minister said that the Government’s advisers had also been the advisers of the previous Government but had advised this Government in a different way. By that he meant either that they had not advised the previous Government properly, or that they are not advising this Government properly. Thehonorable gentleman did not evince great confidence in his advisers.
The Minister said that the establishment of the defence forces was 100,000 persons but that the actual enlistment was only about 60,000. Let us examine what the Government proposes to do to meet what it calls an imminent danger. The Minister occupied almost the whole of the half hour allotted to his speech in discrediting and belittling the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley). He did so much of that that he bad no time left to discuss the bill. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), who introduced the bill, certainly dealt with its provisions, but the speech of the Minister for Defence from beginning to end consisted merely of an abuse of the Leader of the Opposition. Although he expressed regret for having to do that in the absence of the Leader of the Opposition, the whole tenor of his remarks was that that, right honorable gentleman in his statement of policy, was not prepared to undertake to do anything to meet the so-called imminent threat of danger to Australia. Had the Government been as strong and as courageous as it would have us believe that it is, it would have taken definite action before this and would not have laid down the long-term policy envisaged by the bill.
The bill provides for a regular call-up and registration of young men in certain age groups. Clause 10 reads - ( 1 . ) The Minister may, from time to time, by notice published in theGazette, require all male persons who -
Is that the Government’s idea of adequate preparation to meet an imminent threat to the security of this country! Whilst its supporters say that the Opposition is not prepared to face up to the problems of defence, it proposes solely to call up 15,000 youths of seventeen and eighteen years of age. The Minister for Labour and National Service in his second-reading speech said -
As to the numbers who will be trained under the scheme, all I need say is that, ashas already been announced, the plans for the first twelve months are to train at least 13,300.
The Government plans to train 13,500 youths during the first year of the scheme. Yet it says that the Opposition, because it believes that better methods can be evolved to meet this problem, is merely dilly-dallying with the measure.
– What does the Opposition propose to do?
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has set forth the Opposition’s views on this measure. He has submitted an amendment which proposes that it be referred to an all-party parliamentary committee. It is obvious that supporters of the Government will reject that amendment.
– Nothing could be more certain than that.
– Judging by the interjection that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) has just made, it is obvious that the concern of the Government is not to unite the people in a common line of defence, but merely to gain a party political advantage as a result of the introduction of this measure. Supporters of the Government never miss an opportunity when discussing any issue at all to confront members of the Opposition with the provisions of the Labour party’s platform on that issue. I do not know whether they are concerned about Labour’s defence policy. Even though Labour was not returned to office at the last general election every member of the Opposition was elected on Labour’s platform. That being so, my colleagues and I are under an obligation to endeavour to give effect to that platform. The Minister for Labour and National Service in his second-reading speech said -
The main purpose of the bill is to establish a system of national training for the defence force of Australia. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in one of the principal points made in the policy speech delivered by him on behalf of the present Government parties, announced our intention to introduce - “ universal military and physical training for periods suited to our conditions and by methods and on conditions as to call-up and numbers to be determined on the best expert advice “.
He continued -
The general policy in relation to national service was thus placed clearly before the people, and the Government received a firm mandate to give effect to this policy.
I remind honorable members opposite that I was the only honorable member who obtained over 30,000 votes at the last general election. I was elected on the Labour party’s platform, and as supporters of the Government now claim that, they have a mandate to give effect to the promises that they made at that election I can claim with equal justification that it is my duty to give effect to the platform on which I was elected. The plank of Labour’s platform that, relates to defence reads -
The establishment of an adequate and properly balanced defence organization on a voluntary basis.
I do not quarrel with honorable members opposite because they seek to give effect to promises that they made at the last general election, but I urge them to exercise a little reasonableness, particularly as theDeputy Leader of the Opposition has said that the Opposition will not oppose this measure outright. The Minister for Defence said that he would esteem more highly members of the Opposition if they opposed the measure outright and endeavoured to defeat it. He must know that if we did that our colleagues who are in a majority in the Senate would he obliged to do likewise and that in that event the Government would have little hope of implementing this measure within a reasonable period of time.
– Let the Opposition just strangle the measure quietly.
– The Minister for External Affairs is entitled to his opinion on this subject. If the Minister for Defence believed that the Opposition was adopting that attitude, he would have used “much stronger language than he did use when he verbally chastised the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. No doubt, he hoped that the Opposition would oppose the measure outright. He expressed abhorrence of members of the Opposition simply because they are prepared to uphold Labour’s defence policy as it is set out on the party’s platform.
– The people rejected the Labour party at the last general election.
– My constituents did not reject me. It is my duty to present their views in the Parliament on matters of this kind. Honorable members opposite know that they are skating ou thin ice when they argue merely that members of the Opposition are tied hand and foot to Labour’s platform. I repeat that the amendment that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has submitted is evidence of the Opposition’s desire to evolve a more effective defence plan than that which is envisaged under this measure. If the Government adopts the attitude that it will use its superiority of numbers to overwhelm the Opposition in this chamber, it cannot complain if the Opposition in the Senate adopts a similar attitude towards it when the measure is before that chamber.
– “Why should members of the Opposition he permitted to dictate to the Government?
– Order ! I must ask the House to come to order. Interjections must cease. It is not my custom to rule out an interjection that I believe is made with a real purpose ; but, when I ask honorable members to give a reasonable hearing to an honorable member who has the floor, I expect to be obeyed.
– Members of the Opposition have no desire to dictate to the Government. The point that I make is that whilst the Government may dictate to the Opposition in this chamber, the Opposition can dictate to it in the Senate. Do supporters of the Government believe in the bicameral parliamentary system? Under that system the Senate is often referred to as “ The house of second thought “, and it fills that very useful role. That is one of the main features of the bicameral system. Just as the Government appears to have made up its mind that this measure and nothing else will meet the country’s defence requirements, so the Opposition has made up its mind that a more effective system can be evolved. The Minister for Defence said the voluntary system has failed. I admit, that it has not been so effective as we should like it to have been. The Opposition is prepared to go a part of the way to meet the Government. It would begood tactics on the Government’s part to accept the amendment that the DeputyLeader of the Opposition has submitted because if an all-party parliamentarycommittee were appointed to inquire intodefence requirements and it failed toevolve a better plan on the basis of evidence that it obtained from experts, the Opposition would have no alternative but to accept this measure. If I were not: under an obligation to give effect to thewishes of my constituents as expressed iii the platform on which I was elected, I should be prepared to express my private opinion about compulsorymilitary service.
The Minister for Labour and National Service in his second-reading speechclaimed that the Government has a mandate to introduce this measure. But supporters of the Government have made some remarkable claims about, other mandates which they have said they received from the people at the last, general election. For instance, they said’ that they had a mandate to introducethe Communist Party Dissolution Bil! and a mandate to re-establish the Commonwealth Bank Board. Now they claim that they have a mandate to introduce this measure. Many people whowould endorse the Government’s action in introducing the Communist Party
Dissolution Bill would just as assuredly oppose the introduction of compulsory military service. I recall the reaction of the people 30 years ago to the proposal of the government of the day to introduce conscription for military service. The Labour party was split from top to bottom on that issue, which was submitted to the people at two referendums. At that time I lived in a rural district in which most of the farmers were producing in a big way. Supporters of the Liberal party who were opposed to conscription were just as numerous as were supporters of the Labour party. The people were completely divided on that issue. The Government cannot claim that it obtained a mandate from the people at the last general election to introduce the national service scheme proposed in this bill. Such a mandate can be obtained only by securing an affirmative vote at a referendum. The conscription campaigns during World War I. were not defeated by the votes of supporters of the Labour party alone, because many of them voted for conscription, and many supporters of the Liberal party voted against - it. The Liberal party and the Australian Country party, when in Opposition in 1947, challenged the Chifley Government to seek a mandate from the people by way of a referendum, for its proposal to nationalize banking. I do not know whether the present Government is prepared to ask the people to endorse its national training scheme, which involves compulsory military service.
Earlier, I said that I was prepared to state my private opinion, as an individual and not as the representative of the electorate of Port Adelaide, on the subject of compulsory military training. I believe that every person in the community has an equal responsibility for the defence of the country. I advise Government supporters, who say, “Hear, hear ! “ to that statement, to read the clauses of this bill carefully. They will then learn that every person is not to be asked to bear equal responsibility for the defence of Australia. A university student may bc granted deferment from year to year. A person who lives in a remote area may be exempted from compulsory military training. A conscientious objector also may obtain exemption. I understand that persons employed in the coal-mining industry will not be called up for service under this bill.
– Does the honorable member consider that they should be called up for military training?
– Government supporters believe that every man in the community should be equally responsible for the defence of the country. That principle is not observed in this bill. Bill Jones will be exempted from compulsory military service because he works in the coal-mining industry, yet Tom Smith, who is employed in a butter factory, may be called up for training. The Government is endeavouring to put something over the people. This bill does not make provision for the introduction of a national system of compulsory military training, but is designed to establish an army of a certain size by a selective niel hod. From year to year, youths who attain the age of eighteen years may be called up for six months’ training. The Mini? ici- for Labour and National Service and the Minister for Defence have assured the House that national trainees will not automatically become liable for military service overseas. Opposition members realize that, but recall that Government supporters have frequently said that untrained men who are sent into battle overseas have far less chance of survival than have trained troops. A Government supporter, who rendered meritorious service in the Army, nods his head approvingly. Members of the Labour party agree that untrained or partly trained troops, when sent abroad to fight, have very little chance compared with that of trained troops. The policy of the Government may be summed up in the following words: “Young Australians will be given military training for extended periods. When Australian troops are required for service abroad, we shall call for volunteers. Men will not be compelled to go “. The Government attempts to assure us that it is necessary for every man to play his part in the defence of this country, and warns us that war is imminent. It would not, have introduced this milk-and-water bill if it sincerely believed those things. This bill will not make a worthwhile contribution to our defence.
– Would the honorable gentleman like the provisions of the bill to be more sweeping?
– The Minister for Defence has almost called Opposition members craven. Government supporters claim that Australia urgently needs trained troops, and strongly express the opinion that it is preferable to fight in somebody else’s front garden rather than in one’s own grounds. Will this bill supply more trained troops for service overseas? Government supporters have not the courage of their convictions. They endeavour to conceal their own shortcomings behind an attack on the Labour party. They accuse us of lacking the courage of our convictions, and try to belittle us. The Government, under this bill, is trying to put something over the people that is not necessary to the immediate defence of the country. It knows that the Labour party is opposed to compulsory military training. I predict that more copies of the platform of the Australian Labour party are to be found in the possession of Government supporters than in the possession of Opposition members.
– I am sure of that, too.
– ‘Government supporters frequently read passages from the platform of the Australian Labour party, and are well aware of our policy. We told the people during the last election campaign that our policy provided for the adequate defence of Australia, with forces raised under the voluntary system.
– And you were rejected.
– I was not rejected. I should not be addressing the House this evening if I had been rejected at the last general election.
– You were rejected at the last general election.
– I thought that I would poll 30,000 votes, but I actually received 31,973. How, then, could I have been rejected at the last general election?
– The Chifley Labour Government was rejected at the last general election.
– What about the Senate? The Labour party has a majority of members in that chamber. Government supporters laugh at that statement, but I remind them that every senator was elected by a majority vote of the people. ‘
– Order ! The honorable member may not discuss the Senate when debating this bill.
– I shall say that every member of “ another place “-
– Order ! The honorable member may not discuss “ another place “. That has nothing to do with this bill.
– I do not wish to discuss “ another place “, but I point out that every Labour member of the Parliament was elected by a majority of votes over those polled by candidates of the Liberal party and of the Australian Country party. That fact cannot be denied. Labour members would not be in this Parliament if they had not been elected by a majority of the people in their respective States, or electorates. The House should be considering this bill in a more calm and collected manner than is being observed. I intended, when I received the call, to discuss many of the clauses, but when the Minister for Defence made nasty and unfair remarks to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, I said to myself, “ If you want a fight you can have it “. I am not an Irishman. I do not think that I have any Irish blood in my veins, but I am always ready to oblige the chap who wants a fight. The Minister for Defence seems to want to “pull on a fight “ with the Labour party, and we accept his challenge. I am always prepared to say what I think of him, and of what he is prepared to do. He should not forget that the Lyons Government, which he supported, had an overwhelming majority in the Senate and in the House of Representatives in 1932, when many thousands of people were unemployed, and would have been glad to undergo SLY months’ military training and be paid for it. But the government of the day squibbed “ on it.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charles Anderson) adjourned.
– by leave - Honorable members will recall that, in the statement that I presented last night, reference was made to the new situation which had developed in Korea by the intervention of substantial numbers of Chinese nationals, and that I stated that the basic difficulty in dealing with this situation is that of knowing accurately the reasons which prompt this movement of Chinese troops. Fresh light has been thrown on this question by the very serious communique which General Macarthur, of the United Nations Unified Command, issued last night. General Macarthur is quoted as saying this -
Enemy reactions developed in the course of «Ur assault. Operations of the past four days disclose that a major segment of the Chinese continental armed forces, as an army corps organized on a divisional .basis, of an aggregate strength of over 200,000 men, is now arrayed against the United Nations forces in North Korea. There exists thu obvious intent and preparation for support of these forces by heavy reinforcements now concentrated within the privileged sanctuary north of the international boundary and constantly moving forward. Consequently we face an entirely new war.
This has shattered the high hopes we entertained that the intervention of the Chinese was only of a token nature on a volunteer and individual basis, as publicly announced, and that therefore the war in Korea could be brought to a rapid close by our movement to the international boundary and the prompt withdrawal thereafter of United Nations forces, leaving Korean problems for settlement by themselves.
It now appears to have been the enemy’s intent in breaking off contact with our forces some two weeks ago to secure the time necessary surreptitiously to build up for a later surprise assault upon our lines in overwhelming force, taking advantage of the freezing of all rivers and road-beds, which has materially reduced the effectiveness of our air interdiction and permitted greatly accelerated forward movement of enemy reinforcements and supplies. This plan has been disrupted lay our offensive action, which forced upon the enemy a premature engagement.
This situation, repugnant as it may be, poses issues beyond the authority of the United Nations military command, issues that must find their solution within the councils of the United Nations and the chancelleries of the world.
Honorable members will recall that I informed them of a six-power resolution now before the United Nations Security Council, calling upon all States and all authorities to prevent their nationals from giving assistance to North Korean forces and to cause the immediate withdrawal from Korea of such nationals. The United States delegate to the Security Council, Mr. Warren Austin, has now told the Council -
It appears doubtful that the war in Korea can be quickly concluded. It also appears clear beyond any doubt that what all the free countries take for aggression for limited purposes is in fact aggression open and notorious.
Mr. Austin then addressed a number of questions to General Wu Hsiu-chuan, the Chinese Communist representative at the Council table, which are reported as follows : -
Can the representative tell us how many Chinese Communist troops have entered Korea and what is the organization of these troops? It is quite clear to the United Nations forces that they are, in fact, organized in units. Units have been indentified and their numbers cited in special reports of the Unified Command to the Security Council of the 5th November. The news this morning makes it clear that Chinese Communist forces in Korea are organized as an army corps on a divisional basis. Does the representative still maintain that these forces are composed of raw volunteers? Will the representative tell the Security Council how long the Peking regime has been planning and preparing this aggression? It is apparent to any one that operations of this kind are not organized in a few days or weeks. It must be true that these troops were trained and equipped as a disciplined fighting force over a long period and that their attacks were carefully prepared. Was all this being done while the Peking radio was broadcasting the peaceful intentions of the Peking regime? If the representative persists in telling us that the aggression was entirely by volunteers, can he explain the voluntary “ manner in which their supplies have been organized, despatched across the frontier and distributed? Will he tell us whether the aircraft which have attacked from bases in Manchuria were also volunteers? How could Chinese citizens come into possession of jet planes?
Ambassador Austin then put this one chief question to the Chinese Communist representatives -
Will the authorities in Peking heed the judgment of the United Nations or will they defy the United Nations, thus further endangering international peace and security? “ The answer to this question “, he declared, “ may determine whether there would be war or peace in the Far East “.
General Wu did not reply to these questions, but instead made a long statement alleging American aggression and calling for the withdrawal of the United States forces from Formosa and Korea. The Security Council has adjourned until tomorrow without a vote having been taken on the six-power resolution. In the meantime, President Truman has called together the United States National Security Council, at which he has had talks with Secretary of State Acheson, Secretary for Defence Marshall, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Australia is not a member of the Security Council, but I thought it proper that I should keep honorable members informed of the actual position as it has developed in the council. The Government is in constant consultation with London and Washington on these important developments. I am sure that the House will join with me in expressing the fervent hope that our constant efforts to limit the area of conflict will be successful.
– by leave - On behalf of the Opposition, I thank the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) foi keeping the House informed in relation to the very important and grave matters to which he has referred and which require very close consideration.
Bill received from the Senate and (on motion by Mr. Spender) read a first time.
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from the Sth June (vide page 4026), on motion by Mr. McBride -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1033-1949, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals . . . (vide page 4020).
.- The Tariff Proposals to which this proposed resolution relates were introduced on the Sth June, 1950. They cover woven rayon piece goods and timber. In respect of rayon piece goods increased duties were imposed by Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 2) of 1950 for the purpose of assisting the development of an important Australian industry. The same Tariff Amendment provided for a reduction of customs duties on imported building timber during such period as is prescribed by -departmental by-law. The objective of the Government is to cheapen the cost of house building during such period as the demand for timber is high and supplies of suitable Australian timber are inadequate to meet requirements.
The weaving of rayon piece goods in Australia goes back to the period of World War II. A serious shortage of fabrics essential for defence and the looming shortages of fine woven fabrics for civilian use compelled the government of the day to set about organizing the local production of fine woven materials to take up some of the lag in overseas supplies that, had been brought about by war. Parachute material was being produced in Australia early in 1941 and, by the middle of that year, additional looms, urgently procured from the United States of America, were producing fine woven defence fabrics in Victoria. In the postwar period, because of the greater security of supplies of raw material, this new industry concentrated on weaving rayon for the peace-time requirements of the nation and, at the same time, it extended its operations materially. To-day, there are four up-to-date plants weaving rayon piece goods in Australia. These plants are as modern as any in the world. Their access to latest development is complete, and an army of skilled workers is turning out cloths which compare favorably with the products of overseas manufacturers. About 50 per cent, of the labour employed is female labour.
With the rehabilitation of industry in the United Kingdom and some parts of Europe, the infant Australian industry, in which over £5,000,000 capital is employed, was challenged by imports from overseas, and towards the end of 1948, the Minister for Trade and Customs of the day referred to the Tariff Board the question of what rates of customs duties were considered necessary to protect the Australian rayon weaving industry and allow it to develop. The board furnished its report in August, 1949. The board’s inquiry revealed that the industry was important and warranted protection and, further, that the level of assistance needed was ls. 6d. a square yard as against imports from the United Kingdom. However, the board considered that this assistance should be granted partly by payment of a bounty and partly by the imposition of increased customs duties. For a number of years, a revenue duty has been collected on artificial silk piece goods. The rates were ltd. a square yard under the British preference tariff and 4d. a square yard under the most-favoured-nation tariff.
Such a recommendation was outside the scope of the Minister’s reference to the board under section 15 (1.) (d) of the Tariff Board Act, which covers only the imposition of new or increased duties. The subject of bounties is referred’ to the board under another sub-section of the act. The board, however, refrained from specifically recommending how much of the required assistance of ls. 6d. a square yard should be given by bounty and how much by duty, leaving that question to be decided in accordance with budgetary conditions and government financial policy. The Government, after considering the board’s report and carefully ascertaining all the issues pertinent to the question of whether assistance should be granted wholly or partly by bounty, came to the conclusion that, if budgetary equilibrium were to be preserved, bountycumduty assistance was a doubtful method and moreover that the future welfare of the local industry was dependent upon the form of assistance that would warrant and encourage its speedy expansion. Protection by customs duties was deemed to be the quickest and most effective way of achieving this result, as it would allow local manufacturers to compete for that portion of the Australian demand for woven rayon fabrics which their combined plants had the capacity to meet.
Further speedy development of the rayon weaving industry is so important to Australia for strategic reasons that the Government, after carefully deliberat ing over all the issues involved, decided to give the local industry protection wholly by customs duties. It was also influenced by the recognized need for Australia to achieve self-sufficiency in the production of fine yarns from indigenous raw material and by the consequential importance of the successful and early establishment of rayon yarn production in Australia by the world-known Courtaulds organization. Unless rayon weaving had first been developed and soundly established in Australia, much of Courtaulds’ Australian produced yarns would have had no market.
The Tariff Board was much influenced, when making its recommendation for assistance to rayon weaving by means of bounty-cum-duty, by the speculated effect on the cost of living that would be brought about by the imposition of substantial duties on rayon piece goods while local mills did not have the capacity to supply the major portion of Australia’s requirements. The Government could not agree with the board’s fears in this regard for the following reasons: - (a) There were substantial stocks of woven rayons in Australia, imported prior to the 9th June, 1950, which would for a considerable time cushion the effect of the new duties while Australian production was steadily increasing; (b) Australian weavers were emphatic that no price increase in respect of their products to the extent of the protective duty of ls. 6d. a square yard would take place; their claim, they said, was for larger markets, not higher prices; (c) tha powers of admission under by-law given to the Minister by the Customs Tariff Act could be used as circumstances warranted in exempting from the new duty a substantial quantity of the lowerpriced cloth which would tend to bridge the gap between Australian production and Australian requirements.
The Division of Industrial Development, as a result of research which its officers conducted in 1949, found that Australian requirements of woven rayon piece goods annually were approximately 50,000.000 yards, made up as follows: -
In respect of printed cloths, the local textile printing industry is far advanced, in respect of both screen printing and roller printing, to meet Australia’s needs in this field by using imported grey cloths. As a part of the plan for the sound development of the rayon industry, rayon fabric in the greige or grey cloth is not at present subject to the protective duties. There are at least nine establishments in Australia with up-to-date plant capable of printing at present at the annual rate of over 10,000,000 yards. It is expected that, by June, 1951, this capacity will increase to 16,000,000 yards per annum and, by December, 1951, to over 21,000,000 yards per annum. So far as straight dyed and woven pattern fabrics are concerned, the supply position for the next six months should be amply catered for from the following three sources : - (a) Locally held stocks of imported rayons landed in Australia prior to the 9th June, 1950; (b) the cloths on order overseas which were admitted under Tariff by-law concession because they were on order overseas at the 9th June, 1950; (c) the production of local rayon weavers; and (72) cloths admitted under by-law concession recently announced. The production capacity of local weavers between January and June, 1951, it is expected, will be about 16,000,000 square yards per annum. By December, 1951, it is expected to be 23,000,000 square yards per annum. The overall position is indicated in the following table: -
Honorable members will observe that the production position has materially changed since the Tariff Board inquiry which took place in 1948 when Australian production totalled only about 10,000,000 square yards per annum. By the end of 1.951. even assuming that consumption increases by 10 per cent, to 55,000,000 square yards per annum, of which straight dyed and woven pattern fabrics take up 33,000,000 square yards, local weavers claim they will be able to supply a very substantial part of the requirements in this field. Similarly, rayon printers contend that by December, 1951, they will be m a position to supply practically the whole of the 22,000,000 square yards per annum required in the printed fabric field, which total requirement is estimated on the findings of the Division of Industrial Development in 1949 with an allowance for a possible 10 per cent, increase.
The persistent representations which I know have been made to honorable members, as they have been made to me, that because of the limited production capacity of the local industry the new duties will result in a continuing colossal burden being borne by users of woven rayons, lose much of their strength when the above figures are studied. I trust that those who to-day criticize this proposed protection to the Australian rayon weaving industry will be as mistaken in their predictions as were those who, in almost identical words, criticized the protection afforded to the wool textile industry in 1925.
It must, be appreciated that some of the figures that I have cited are estimates and anticipations. However, some force and strength is afforded to them by the history of the development of comparable industries under protective tariffs. For instance, in Canada after the imposition of protective duties on woven rayon piece goods, the local industry developed by bounds. The production figures are -
Similarly, in the case of Australian wool textiles after the imposition of protective duties, the capacity and the production of Australian weavers of wool tweed and other wool cloth developed greatly. The figures are as follows : -
I have already announced the decision to grant admission of 9,000,000 square yards of cloths in the lower price range shipped to Australia on or before the 30th June, 1951. Between now and that date the position will be kept under review and thereafter a further submission will be prepared for reference to the Tariff Board. The rayon weaving industry is important to Australia for defence purposes. It represents at present an investment of over £5,000,000 in capital and the funds employed in its operation. It employs over 2,000 people and the potential employment is very much greater, and itopens a particularly attractive avenue for the employment of female labour at decentralized factories. At present about 90 per cent, of the labour in the industry is located in country centres.
In regard to those items in the schedule that relate to timber, I point out to honorable members that, in accordance with the Government’s policy of assisting the home builder wherever possible, the duties on timber of a kind normally used for building purposes have been temporarily reduced to the lowest rates possible having regard to Australia’s international commitments. It is, of course, generally known that the local timber industry is unable, under present abnormal conditions, to produce all the timber needed for building purposes, and the quantity of timber at present being imported is only helping to bridge the gap between local supply and demand. Consequently the application of the protective duties in the Customs Tariff would result only in an added burden to the consumer.
The new concessional duties are being administered under by-laws which determine the duration of their operation. Consequently, should it be found necessary or desirable to withdraw the by-law concession in respect of timber of a particular type of specification this can be done administratively and the timber would automatically become dutiable under the substantive items which have been maintained in the tariff. For the present, the by-laws are operative in regard to shipments entered for home consumption on and after the 8th June, 1950, and to shipments made to Australia on or before the 31st December, 1950. The question as to whether the by-law provisions should be extended beyond the 31st December, 1950, is at present the subject of an inquiry by the Tariff Board.
Before I resume my seat, I wish to revert to the duties on woven rayon piece goods. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was in London in July last, the President of the Board of Trade raised certain objections in regard to the duties imposed on woven rayon piece goods on the 8th June. The Prime Minister agreed that the United Kingdom Government’s objections would be reported to the Commonwealth Parliament and it is only reasonable that members of this Parliament should be aware of the United Kingdom’s objections to the duties when the matter is debated. The views of the United Kingdom Government as conveyed to the Prime Minister are as follows : -
His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom desired, in the first place, to express their regret that controversial issues of this kind should have arisen in present circumstances and said that they earnestly hoped, it would bc possible to arrive at a conclusion that would be generally satisfactory to all parties concerned. They also greatly hoped that His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia would exchange views with them beforehand on any matters which might give rise to question concerning their mutual obligations under inter-Governmental agreements. His Majesty’s Government in theUnited Kingdom felt bound to place on record their view that, since in recommendation V (a) and (6) of their report, the Tariff Board recommended that the Australian industry should receive assistance to the extent of ls. fid. a square yard to be given wholly by bounty or partly by bounty and partly by duty, the imposition of a duty of ls. lid. a square yard was contrary to the undertaking in Article 12 of the Agreement between the Governments of the United Kingdom and of the Commonwealth of Australia entered into at Ottawa in 1932.
The United Kingdom Government refused to accept the suggestion that a duty of, for example, ls. 5d. a square yard, would be consistent with Article 12 of the Ottawa Agreement and that any infringement of the Article by the new duty of ls. 6d. is therefore merely technical, and indicated that it was quite unable to accept such a view of the matter. It considered that the words in the Tariff Board recommendation, “ Wholly by bounty or partly by bounty and partly by duty” would clearly indicate that in the view of the Tariff Board assistance should be wholly or mainly by bounty, and that it was significant that in their report the Tariff Board gave alternative examples of the effect of bounty or bounty plus duty, ‘ with bounties ranging between ls. 6d. and ls. a square yard. In the opinion of the United Kingdom Government it was open to the Australian Government, if it so wished, to grant assistance to the industry by duty only, and to refer the matter again to the Tariff Board for further consideration with specific terms of reference to exclude any assistance by way of bounty. The same course would have seemed appropriate if the Australian Government had considered that the Tariff Board had exceeded its terms of reference in making a recommendation other than of an appropriate rate of duty. The Australian Government would thereby have ensured that a desire to grant assistance by duty only would at the same time have been consistent with its obligations under the Ottawa Agreement not to impose a duty in excess of the recommendation of the Tariff Board.
The Australian Government had referred, when discussing the height of new Australian duties, to the need for special consideration to be given to the industries not fully established. In this connexion, the United Kingdom Government noted that the Tariff Board, as was its function, gave full consideration to this aspect of the matter; this was evident to them from the report itself.
In discussions, comparison had been made with duties charged by other countries on rayon piece goods. The United Kingdom Government holds that should it he suggested that such comparisons provide valid reasons for departing from the obligations undertaken by the two governments in the Ottawa Agreement, it was bound to point out that such a suggestion cannot be justified. It pointed out that relevant portions of the agreement provide that the Tariff Board’s view should be based on the principle that protective duties should not exceed such a level as will give’ to United Kingdom producers full opportunity of reasonable com.petition on the basis of relative cost of economical and efficient production, provided that in the application of such a principle, special consideration may be given to the case of industries not fully established ; and that no higher duties will be imposed in Australia than those so recommended by the Tariff Board.
It is this Government’s opinion that there has been no infringement of the Ottawa Agreement. The relative provisions of the Ottawa Agreement are contained in Articles 9 to 13 which read as follows : -
His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia undertake that protection by tariffs shall be afforded only to those industries which are reasonably assured of sound opportunities for success.
His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia undertake that during the currency of this Agreement the tariff shall -be based on the principle that protective duties shall not exceed such a level as will give United Kingdom producers full opportunity of reasonable competition on the basis of the relative cost of economical and efficient production, provided that in the application of such principle special consideration may be given to the case of industries not fully established.
His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia undertake that a review shall be made as soon as practicable by the Australian Tariff Board of existing protective duties in accordance with the principles laid down in Article 10 hereof, and that after the receipt of the report and recommendation of the Tariff Board the Commonwealth Parliament shall be invited to vary, wherever necessary, the tariff on goods of United Kingdom origin in such manner as to give effect to such principles.
His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia undertake that no new protective duty shall be imposed and no existing duty shall be increased on United Kingdom goods to an amount in excess of the recommendation of the Tariff Tribunal.
His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia undertake that United Kingdom producers shall be entitled to full rights of audience before the Tariff Board when it has under consideration matters ;iris- ing under Articles 11 and 12 hereof..
The relevant recommendation by the Tariff Board in its report No. 1090 of the 26th August, 1949, is as follows : -
That the development of the industry be assisted by the Government to the extent of ls. fid. per square yard given -
wholly as a bounty on cloth produced in Australia; or
partly as a bounty on cloth produced in Australia and partly as a duty on imported cloth, as may be decided by the Government after consideration of the various questions of financial policy which may be involved.
I now set out the considerations on which the Government’s opinion is based. Although the Tariff Board recommended that any protection afforded to the local industry should be wholly by bounty or partly by bounty and partly by duty, it is clear from the board’s report that it was fully aware that considerations of governmental financial policy might prevent the Government from assisting the industry by means of a bounty. It will be of value if I quote certain extracts from the board’s report to illustrate this -
Page 30. - The Tariff Board thereforeconcludes that assistance to the Australian rayon weaving industry . . . should preferably be given by bounty. The amounts of money involved, however, are so large that important questions of financial policy arise . . .
Page 32. - . . . the form in which governmental assistance should he given to the rayon weaving industry must finally be decided in accordance with the financial policy of the Australian Government. The Tariff Board can only recommend that assistance totalling1s. 6d. per square yard should be given by means other than wholly by duties.
Page 33. - . . . the very important question of the form that any assistance should take is a matter of Government policy still to be decided . . .
The Government considers that the board’s recommendation must be read with these qualifications in mind.
The question of what assistance should be afforded to the Australian rayon weaving industry was referred to the Tariff Board under section 15 (1.) (d) of the Tariff Board Act and not under section 15 (1.) (e) of that act. These read - l5. - (l.) The Minister shall refer to the Board for inquiry and report the following matters: -
Australia has always maintained that Articles 9 to 13 of the Ottawa Agreement were complementary and should thus be read together. There can be no suggestion that Australia is infringing the agreement by assisting local industry to the amount of1s. 6d. a square yard. This was the level of assistance recommended by the Tariff Board as one which, in the terms of Article 10 of the Ottawa Agreement, would “give United Kingdom producers full opportunity of reasonable competition on the basis of relative costs of economical and efficient production, special consideration being given to the case of industries not fully established “.
It has always been the Australian view that Article 12 was designed as a part of the machinery of the Ottawa Agreement that would ensure that protection should be granted in accordance with the principles laid down in Article 10.
The Government cannot surrender its right to determine its financial policy to an authority not directly responsible to the Parliament. It considers that it was never the intention of the signatories that the Ottawa Agreement should operate so as to place either the Australian Government or the United Kingdom Government in the position of having to pay a bounty because of a recommendation arrived at by an advisory body without regard to considerations of national financial policy.
The United Kingdom has also suggested that upon receipt of the board’s report on the rayon weaving industry the Government could have pointed out to the board that it had exceeded its terms of reference by recommending the payment of a bounty, and suggests that the question might have been returned to the board under terms of reference sufficiently specific to exclude a recommendation for the payment of a bounty. There were two reasons why the Government did not take this course. They were - (a) The board had quite clearly established that the local industry required assistance to the amount of1s. 6d. a square yard, and there was no reason to doubt that the board would recommend the imposition of a duty at this level. The board’s reasons for introducing the question of a bounty were related purely to economic advantages within Australia which might derive from this method of assistance, and not to the question of what level of assistance was required to protect the local industry from overseas competition; (b) by the time the board’s report was submitted to the Government the personnel of the board had been very substantially changed, and it was considered undesirable to delay further the grant to the local industry of assistance at the level recommended by the board. It was to be expected that the new board would have been required to expend considerable time in arriving at its own new conclusions, and during that time the Australian industry would have had to forgo the assistance to which it was entitled.
I wish to make it clear that the comparison of the proposed Australian duties with those imposed in a number of other countries is in no way related to Australia’s obligations under the Ottawa Agreement. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that us far as one can compare rates of duty per pound, rates of duty per square yard and ad valorem duties, the Australian duties are not greatly in excess of United Kingdom, Canadian. French or Italian rates, and are actually less than United States rates. Honorable members will be aware that the rayon weaving industry in those countries is already well established, whereas the Australian industry is still in a comparatively early stage of development.
The United Kingdom claims that even the imposition of a duty at the rate of 1s. 5d. a square yard would have infringed Article 12. That argument is based on the fact that the Tariff Board, in arriving at its recommendations, had discussed the effects of bounties ranging, from Is. to 1s. 6d. a square yard, and therefore the highest duty that Article 12 would permit would be 6d. a square yard. It should be noted, however, that the Tariff Board also discussed the effects of a duty of1s. 6d. a square yard and that Article 12 refers to the duties actually recommended by the tariff tribunal and not to any duties discussed in the process of arriving at its recommend a ti ons.
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from the 8th J une (vide page 4026), on motion by Mr. McBride -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) 1935-1948 be amended as hereinafter set out . . . (vide page 4023).
– Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Amendment (No. 1) is merely consequential upon Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 2), with which I have just dealt. A number of the timber items in that proposal also appears in the Canadian Preference Tariff, and a corresponding amendment is therefore necessary. The amendments are consequential, and are necessary in order to maintain the margin of preference granted to Canada.
Message recommending appropriatic reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. McBride) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to provide for the payment of a bounty on the production of flax canvas.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. McBride and Mr. Francis do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. McBride, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to authorize the payment of bounty on the production of woven flax canvas piece goods and woven flax canvas fire hose manufactured in Australia from scutched flax fibre produced from flax grown and processed in Australia. The bounty will apply only in respect of flax canvas manufactured for sale and use in the Commonwealth. It is proposed that the bounty shall operate as from the 17th July, 1950, the date on which a ministerial announcement was made advising the flax industry that it was the Government’s intention to introduce legislation to provide this bounty.
The Government’s decision on this matter followed a Tariff Board inquiry into the following questions : -
The Tariff Board, in its report of the 28th November, 1949, submitted the following recommendations : -
It will bc seen that the board did not favour protecting the woven flax industry by imposing tariff duties, but recommended that the flax spinning and weaving industries be assisted by reducing the price to them of their raw material, scutched fibre, by an amount equivalent to £60 a ton for C-grade tank-retted flax. The Government approved the principle underlying this recommendation, which it is proposed to implement by payment of a bounty to weavers, so that the actual net cost of the raw material will be as recommended by the board.
Payment of the bounty will not exceed the sum of £30,000 per annum, and provision has been made in the bill for the bounty to operate for a maximum period of two years. The assistance to be afforded to the flax industry by this measure will be reviewed after it has been in operation for a period of twelve months in the light of the then prevailing circumstances.
The bill, as is normal in measures of this type, includes a clause relating to a profit limitation of 10 per cent, on capital actually used by the manufacturer in the manufacture and sale of the product.
The Government, in reaching its decision to grant a bounty, was influenced by the fact that maufacturers of canvas and fire hose were meeting considerable difficulty in selling the locally manufactured canvas in competition with imports, and this situation led to the banking up of stocks of scutched fibre produced in Australia for which a use could not be found. Tt is necessary to have the spinning and weaving sections of the flax industry operating in Australia if the products of the growing and scutching sections are to be absorbed.
As I have stated, this bounty is somewhat of a tentative nature and it is proposed that, at an appropriate time, the question of what protection should be afforded to the spinning and weaving sections of the flax industry shall again be referred to the Tariff Board for further inquiry. I commend the bill for favorable consideration.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (‘Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to provide for the payment of bounty for the production of certain wool products.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. McEwen and Mr. Francis do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. McEwen, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the billbe now read a second time.
This bill is to give effect to the proposal of the Government, as announced by the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) in his budget speech, to pay a subsidy on woollen goods for home consumption in Australia, amounting to £20,000,000. As honorable members are aware, the rising price of wool is causing increasing concern to the consuming public, and during the last session of the Parliament there were numerous requests for a home consumption price scheme for wool.
Whatever case there may be for a definite home consumption price for wool the cold fact is that so long as our wool clip is sold at public auction there could not be a predetermined home consumption price for that portion of the clip which goes into use in Australia, and there could be no possible justification for any suggestion that the whole system of selling our wool clip by public auction should be terminated merely to facilitate the establishment of a home consumption price for some 10 per cent. of the clip. Nevertheless, the Government has been concerned by the effect on Australian consumers of the higher costs of woollen goods that must result from the present unprecedentedly high prices of wool prevailing at auction.
The Government has been very conscious of this situation and, when preparing the budget, decided that the effects of high wool prices should be offset to a substantia] degree by the payment of a subsidy on the production of woollen goods for consumption in Australia.
Honorable members will appreciate that with many hundreds of types of wool, and with daily fluctuations in auction prices, it is not possible to be precise regarding the degree to which price increases may be offset; but I am sure that it will be agreed that a sum of £20,000,000 spread over all the wool purchased by Australian manufacturers will have a very marked effect on the cost of manufacturers’ raw material, particularly when it is realized that that sum represents, on the average, about 45d. per lb. of greasy wool purchased by Australian manufacturers.
In devising a means for the payment of a subsidy the Government wished to ensure that it did not do anything that would alter the pattern of buying by Australian manufacturers. It considered that this objective would be best achieved by subsidy payments on the different types of wool corresponding, as closely as possible, to the normal market relationship of the various types with one another. Fortunately, as a result of the experience of the Australian Wool Realization Commission, it was possible to adhere closely to those normal market relationships. On the basis of this experience a table of subsidy limits has been constructed which accords to wool products manufactured from particular types of wool an amount of subsidy that pays due regard to the quality of those types of wool. Products made from the better types therefore receive a higher rate of subsidy, whilst the inferior types attract a lower rate of subsidy than the average. In this way, manufacturers are not encouraged by the subsidy to purchase better qualities than is their wont, nor are they induced to deteriorate the quality of their cloths by purchasing inferior wools.
This table of subsidy limits has been constructed by the Australian Wool Realization Commission, with the cooperation of members of the wool manufacturing industry, and the whole scheme has been prepared in the closest collaboration with a very representative group of industry leaders. Honorable members will understand that although the bill refers to a bounty on the production of wool products, I have referred first to the raw wool aspects of this subsidy because the main problem to be faced is the price of raw wool. However, constitutional limitations make it necessary for payments of this kind to ,be made on production, and for that reason a bounty is proposed on certain wool products, such as wool tops, woo] noils, woollen yarn, wool felt and wool waste, which are basic to all finished woollen goods. ‘The means of ascertaining the rate of bounty on any of these wool products, however, is by reference to the quantity and quality of raw wool which goes into the wool product. The quantity, of course, is determined by the purchaser, but the quality and yield of clean wool from each lot of greasy wool is at present determined, as part of the reserve price machinery of the wool disposals plan by valuers of the Australian Wool Realization Commission. Those determinations, or appraisements, will enable each lot of wool sold at auction and purchased by Australian manufacturers to have an Australian Wool Realization Commission type ascribed to it. The rate of subsidy or bounty for each type may then be ascertained by reference to the table of subsidy limits. Special arrangements will be made for appraisement of woo] purchased by manufacturers outside the auction system.
Honorable members will note that the bill provides only for the payment of bounty on wool products produced after the 29th November, 1950. Generally speaking, wool purchased since the auctions commenced this season - that is since the 28th August - is only now coming into manufacture in Australia although, of course, some of this wool will already have been made up. It is proposed to pay subsidy on wool products made from such wool by administrative process out of funds already appropriated for the purpose by the Parliament, thus ensuring that all new season’s wool will be covered by the subsidy. The exception will be wool products made from new .season’s wool which has already passed into consumption channels. This is because the benefit of the subsidy could not be passed on to the consumer in such cases.
Applications for subsidy payments under the administrative procedure to which I have referred, are at present being received, and advances of subsidy should be made against these applications at an early date. To ensure that wool products produced from next season’s wool do not attract subsidy, bounty will not be payable on wool appraised by the Australian Wool Realization Commission after the 30th June, 1951. Furthermore, in due course it will be necessary to specify a date after which the bounty will no longer be payable. It is too early yet to say what this date should be. It will largely depend on the time that will be taken to use up this season’s wool. This, in turn, will depend on the rate of wool usage by manufacturers, which can be determined only in the light of experience. It is therefore proposed in the bill that the date after which wool products may no longer qualify for bounty should be prescribed in regulations. Honorable members will note that the table of subsidy limits which, as I have explained, determines the rate of bounty or subsidy, may be varied with the approval of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. This flexibility will allow of changes in the rate of subsidy, particularly if movements of wool prices during the course of the year cause variations in the market relationship between different types of wool.
In another measure which I shall presently introduce, in Committee of Ways and Means, provision will be made for recovery of the subsidy or bounty element in woollen goods exported. This will prevent a subsidy being paid on exports of woollen goods. That measure is very relevant to the successful operation of this subsidy plan, because it will prevent the escape to consumers abroad of money voted by the Parliament for the benefit of Australian consumers. I suggest, therefore, that it might be appropriate for honorable members to be permitted, in their remarks on the Wool Products Bounty Bill, to refer in a general way to the proposed customs export duty.
I commend the bill to the House as an earnest of the Government’s desire to prevent exposure of the Australian woolusing public to the impact of the high prices to which the present extraordinary demand for our wool would otherwise subject them. Our wool is to-day bringing to this country unparalleled prosperity, but that prosperity will produce serious problems for many people unless we can insulate from its effects those who cannot immediately share in all its fruits. With the aid of the State price control authorities, whose co-operation in ensuring that the subsidy will be passed on to consumers Has been sought, this bounty will materially contribute to the attainment of the Government’s objective of protecting the public from the unfortunate effects of current high wool prices.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
– I move -
This proposal is designed to impose an export duty on goods consisting of, or containing, wool, or manufactured in whole or in part from wool, and exported from Australia. It is complementary to the Wool Products Bounty Bill 1950, details of which have already been made available to honorable members. As the intention of the bounty is to alleviate the high cost of wool products to the Australian consumer, and is not for 1,be purpose of subsidizing exports, it is necessary for the Government to introduce an export duty, the sole purpose of which will be the recovery, at the time of export, of the amount of bounty that has been paid in the production of the wool products contained in the goods exported.
Bill presented by Mr. McEwen, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to provide machinery, and extend the provisions of the Customs Act, to strengthen control of dutiable exports in order that the revenue may be fully protected and to make clear that certain provisions relate only to imported goods. These amendments are necessary as a consequence of the decision of the Government to impose an export duty on all products for the purpose of recovering any subsidy or bounty which may have been paid on the wool content of the goods being exported. Details of the intended effects of each clause of the bill will be apparent from a perusal of the notes which have been circulated to honorable members.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Post and Telegraph Rates Bill 1950. Loan Bill 1950.
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I bring to the notice of the House a request made by the Rats of Tobruk Association. It might he expedient for me to read a letter that was written to me by the federal secretary of that association. The letter reads -
At a recent Federal Council Congress of the Association it was unanimously decided by all State Delegates that a request should be made to the Federal Government for the first Sunday after Easter Sunday, in each year, to be allotted as “ Tobruk Day “.
Tt will he remembered that it was’ at Tobruk, in April, 1941, that the until then victorious German troops received their first severe setback during World War II., and the
Tobruk Garrison showed the world that the Germans could be beaten by courage, enterprise and determination. The laud corridor to Tobruk was officially declared closed on 10th April, 1941, Easter Sunday. In view of this, it is t,,,’. annual custom in each State to hold a march and commemoration ceremony at the local Shrine of Remembrance in memory of our fallen comrades, on the nearest Sunday to April 10th.
We, who remain, feel that something should be done in Australia to perpetuate the memory of our fallen comrades in Tobruk. A monument to their memory has been erected in Tobruk itself, at. the unveiling ceremony of which, owing to the good offices of the Federal Government, our Association was more than adequately represented.
We, therefore, ask that the Government will give sympathetic consideration and approval in our request. i feel that this is a matter which goes deeper than may appear upon a cursory reading of that letter. Because of the influx of immigrants to Australia it is necessary that there should he some attempt made to inculcate into their minds and hearts a feeling of national pride in their new country. Small opportunity is presented for that at present. We have only one national day which affords an opportunity of instilling into these people some feeling of national pride, that is Anzac Day. The Rats of Tobruk Association does not ask that a special working day should be set aside as a holiday. The association realizes the need for production and for the development of this country. But it also realizes that if Australia is to retain the great heritage gained through the sacrifices of the men who fought in the last two world wars, it is essential that a spirit of patriotism and national pride should be engendered not only in the new Australians but also in the coming generation of native Australians. We believe that the setting aside of a “ Tobruk Day “ would provide that opportunity. Church services, and religious services at the shrines of remembrance, will surely succeed in doing that. The advantage of the inculcation of national pride was evidenced by the spirit shown by the troops in the last war. T can vouch for the fact that at times when we felt that morale was weakening the remembrance of those who had been honoured by us as school children on Anzac Day prevented us from letting down the traditions that the Anzacs had built up. Commemoration of Anzac Day has contributed much to the advancement of Australia by instilling a sense of national pride in our people. However, one day a year is not enough for such a task and so, on behalf of the Rats of Tobruk Association, I bring to the notice of the House this request, and on behalf of the counfc.7 1 ask that sympathetic consideration K» given to it.
– I realize that the House will be confronted with late sittings in the near future and therefore I do not want to take up its time unnecessarily. But I desire to refer to a number of protests which have reached me to-day from residents of the Australian Capital Territory concerning military manoeuvres in the vicinity of Canberra. I shall read one of the communications, dated the 29th November, which I received about the manoeuvres held last night. I am prepared to make this communication, and certain signatures, available to the Minister if necessary. The correspondent writes from the suburb of Griffith, Canberra, as follows: -
I find it necessary to address yon on a matter of complaint, and in doing so hope that I shall not take up too much of your valuable time.
As you know, and aa has been notified to the general public of Canberra, the Duntroon Military College is at present carrying out manoeuvres around and about the suburbs of Griffith and Narrabundah, it is in connexion with these exercises that I am writing.
At about 9.30 p.m. on the night of Tuesday 28th November, the Army began letting off heavy explosions in what appeared to be in the paddock above Bremer-street, Griffith, in between these explosions constant rifle and machine gun fire was maintained, these heavy explosions continued until about 4 a.m. this morning.
Each and everyone of these explosions shook my residence rattling windows and doors, and on each occasion my seventeen months old child awoke fearful and crying, my older child was not so disturbed because she was able to understand our explanations, the result was that we a!I spent a sleepless night and my child has probably been left a fear of such noises.
I am an ex-member of the services with at least three years of my service under battle conditions and realize the necessity for exerc ses. but T. do not think that there is any justification for the action taken by the Department of the Army in authorising the use of heavy explosives in the town on such’ night exercises. The people of this city, in my opinion, have already got sufficient man-made inconveniences and nuisances without the Army entering the field of contestants, and as a matter of fact see no reason why such disturbances cannot be termed a creation of a public nuisance and as such be a case for a court of law.
I am therefore asking you, sir, as member for the Territory to direct a question to the Minister for the Army to see whether the use of high or heavy explosives in night exercises can be ceased forthwith, whilst this country is benefiting in the state of comparative peace. I see no reason whatsoever why we cannot spend our hours of rest in comparative peace also.
I have seriously considered this matter before approaching you, my conclusion was that such disturbances should not continue any longer.
The whole suburb of New Griffith is “ up in arms “ about these unnecessarily ridiculous noises being carried out during the night, but as to whether any of these will contact you individually I do not know.
That letter is similar to other communications that I have received, and I felt it my duty as member for the Australian Capital Territory to make this matter public and to give the Minister an opportunity of furnishing a reply in order to satisfy the minds of the people who are concerned. All honorable members who were in Canberra last night will have heard the noises mentioned in the letter, and perhaps some of them will feel an agreement with the sentiments expressed in it. I ask the Minister for the Army, who is responsible for the training of the soldiers, to see whether these exercises can be held at a place more remote from the Australian Capital where they would probably be equally invigorating and perhaps as entertaining.
Another matter that I desire to touch upon concerns the aboriginal settlement at Jervis Bay. Members have spoken at great length about the treatment of Australian aborigines. The aboriginal settlement at Jervis Bay is rapidly expanding under a plan that has been evolved conjointly by the Aborigines . Protection Board and the Government. On the average the aborigines there are of a fine type, and they are helping to develop the only industry that is now being conducted in that portion of the Australian
Capital Territory. Under the development scheme to which I have referred many new houses have already been erected. The new manager of the settlement who is progressive in outlook has been provided with a residence, but the teacher at the local aboriginal school, which about 50 aboriginal and half-caste children attend, is obliged to live about six miles from the school. The Government has a duty to improve the conditions under which aborigines live, because we have an enduring responsibility towards that section of our community. Therefore, the Government should be interested in the provision of a residence at the settlement for the local schoolteacher who would thus be enabled constantly to exercise a beneficial influence upon the rising generation of aborigines. With the provision of additional accommodation many more aboriginal children will be brought to that settlement. The Aborigines Protection Board has extended the school room and has explored the possibility of making further accommodation available. The bugbear is what is to be done for those children after they have completed their schooling. At present no opportunities exist to absorb them in industries in that part of the Australian Capital Territory. It would be most undesirable if after they had been educated to a certain standard the authorities should do nothing further in their interests, but merely allow them to roam about that area. I suggest that a liaison officer should be appointed to act as an employment officer between the Government and the Aborigines Protection Board.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Dr. DONALD CAMERON (Oxley) J11.19]. - I support the representations that have been made by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) to the Government to institute an annual day with the object of commemorating the feats that were performed by Australians in the defence of Tobruk and endorse what he said in reference to new Australians. Although the seige of Tobruk cannot perhaps be compared in magnitude with subsequent engagements in the North African campaign and elsewhere in World War II., it lasted for several months and during the greater proportion of that period the garrison consisted largely though not entirely of Australians and was commanded by an Australian. The defence of Tobruk for a long period in the circumstances that existed at that time in the Middle East and its value in arresting the German advance towards Egypt, have been emphasized in Mr. Churchill’s memoirs and in various articles that have been published recently. Therefore, it would be appropriate to commemorate the occasion and thus help to impress upon the Australian people the value of the great contribution that the Australians made at Tobruk towards the defence of the Middle East. I should like to mention a point to which the honorable member for Lilley did not refer. The destroyers that serviced the garrison at Tobruk and kept open its communications were, in the main, Australian destroyers. Thus, any action that might be taken to give effect to the honorable member’s suggestion would honour not only the Australian Army but also the Royal Australian Navy.
– I shall reply first to the remarks that have been made by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) and the honorable member for Oxley (Dr. Donald Cameron), both of whom I commend for the way in which they placed their representations before the House. I am aware that both of those honorable gentlemen played a distinguished part in World War H. and that since the end of that conflict they have taken an active part in all activities of direct interest to ex-service men and women. I shall be happy to bring their remarks to the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). Their suggestions will involve representations being made to the State governments because generally functions of the kind that they have suggested cannot he held successfully without the co-operation and the goodwill of the States.
The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Dr. Nott) has indicated that some of his constituents are up in arms because students of the Royal Military College at Duntroon have been engaged in exercises in the use of arms.. It would not be possible to train our future officers if they were required to use artillery, machine guns and rifles during day-time only. The honorable member knows that in actual battle soldiers do not cease fire when the sun sets. These men must be trained under conditions that resemble those of actual battle as nearly as possible. That phase of their training must be continued, and I make no apology for the exercises to’ which the honorable member has referred. The Royal Military College is our chief academy for the training of the Staff Corps, and at this time of the year the students training reaches a climax at which point they must undergo special courses in the field and have tested their ability to control forces though it might not be advisable to hold such exercises in close proximity to the national capital. However, I gather that one of the forces that were engaged in the exercises proved to be so much superior to the opposing force that it drove the latter into the environs of the city more quickly and deeply than those in control of the exercises anticipated. Whilst we have not witnessed actual warfare in this country, perhaps such exercises are not without value inasmuch as they may give people some idea of what war means. I repeat that we shall not train our forces adequately merely by keeping them immobile. They must be trained, as are the forces of other nations, in all parts of the country. That is the idea behind the present exercises and it will be followed by the training of recruits under the national service scheme. I shall examine the locations at which future sham fights are to take place and I shall make sure that the opposing parties are more equally matched.
The honorable member also referred to the position of aborigines at Jervis Bay. As that matter comes under the control of the Minister acting for the Minister for the Interior I shall be happy to direct his attention to the honorable member’s observations.
Question resolved in the affirmative. I
The following papers were presented : -
Australian National Airlines Act - Australian National Airlines Commission - Fifth Annual Report and Financial Accounts, for year 1949-50.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations - 1950 -
No. 65 - Australian Theatrical and Amusement Employees’ Association.
No.66 - Printing Industry Employees’ Union of Australia.
No. 67 - Non-Official Postmasters’ Association of Australia.
No. 68 - Australian Workers’ Union.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Postmaster-General’s Department - L. M. Chambers.
Customs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 79.
Hospital Benefits Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 77.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization purposes - Armidale, New South Wales.
Quarantine Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 78.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Items mentioned from the 18th February, 1860, to the 8th June, 1950, both dates Inclusive!
– The Minister for Trade aud Customs has furnished the following reply:-
As the result of an analysis of recorded clearances’ under the Tariff Items concerned, the following statement has been prepared. The - information sought ie shown in the schedule as follows: -
Part 1 - See column 2.
Part 2 - See column 3.
Part 3 - See column 5.
Part 4- See column 4.
Part 5 - See column 7.
Part 8 - See column 6.
House adjourned at 11.26 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 November 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1950/19501129_reps_19_211/>.