19th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to address a question to the Prime Minister about the recently established policy of the Department of Social Services, as disclosed in a number of cases cited by honorable members in debates of calling up invalid pensioners for reexamination with a view to sending them back to -work, and in that way depriving them of their pensions, despite the fact that they have been totally and permanently unfit, and some of them have been receiving the invalid pension, for many years. Will the Prime Minister say whether the first instalment of the Government’s economy campaign commences ‘with the weakest and most helpless section of the community ? If the Government does not approve of such a heartless policy-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman is distinctly conveying imputations, and that is contrary to the Standing Orders.
– If the Government does not approve of such a policy, will it take immediate steps to terminate the condition of affairs to which I have ‘referred and ensure that those unfortunate persons will be relieved of further mental anguish, and not be left destitute over the Christmas period?
– The Minister for Social Services is represented in this House by the Minister for Labour and National Service.
– Yesterday, the Treasurer promised to submit to the Government for consideration the matter of increasing the allowances payable to the wives of invalid pensioners, and1 also those payable to persons in receipt of unemployment and sickness benefits. In view of the urgent need to do something to improve the financial position of those persons, I ask the Treasurer whether he is prepared to bring that matter to the notice of the Cabinet at its next meeting so that a decision may be made at an early date?
– I cannot understand the honorable member’s reference to the urgency of the matter to which he has referred, because he was a member of a government that for eight years evidently failed to adjust the matter. However, T shall see what can be done about it.
– Supplementary to my previous question I now point out to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services that, apparently in accordance with some new policy, the department recently called up a number of invalid pensioners for re-examination and directed several of them to resume work. Will the Minister raise this matter with his colleague with a view to having it investigated in order to relieve these unfortunate persons of further anxiety and also to reassure invalid pensioners generally that they will not be rendered destitute during the Christmas period?
– I shall bring the question that the honorable member has asked to the attention of the Minister for Social Services.
– In view of the approach of the festive season, will the Prime Minister promise to intercede on behalf of the wives of invalid pensioners and make representations to the Minister for Social Services for the purpose of getting an increase for the said widows and the said wives?
– I shall convey both the alternative propositions to the Minister for Social Services.
– There is no need for levity about such a question.
– Presumably the honorable member is referring to his colleagues of the Opposition.
– Has the Minister for National Development seen an article published in a Sydney Sunday newspaper under the heading, “ Waste on the Snowy Job”?
– Order ! Questions must not be based on newspaper reports.
– Has the Minister heard of an allegation to the effect that an American firm is carrying out a drilling job for £2 10s. a foot, which an Australian firm could have done for £1 10s. a foot? Can he say whether there is any substance in that allegation?
– I am aware that some publicity has been given to this allegation, and I have investigated the matter. I am advised by the authority concerned that the facts are not as set out in the publicity referred to. The American tender was by far the lowest that was submitted for this work and is not, as has been stated, the highest. I have every confidence that the American firm concerned will be able to do the work and that it will be of great benefit to the Snowy Mountains project in many other directions. I understand that the
Australian firm which has been mentioned is tendering for other work of the same kind on that project and that negotiations are proceeding with that firm at the present time.
– I ask the Minister for Works and Housing whether it is a fact that the Government is paying a subsidy of £300 on each prefabricated home imported into Australia? If it is a fact, does the Minister consider that that is the wisest plan to pursue? Does he not think that it would foe in the best interests of home-building and of the building industry generally in Australia to concentrate on the importation of Oregon pine or other soft woods instead of paying a high subsidy on imported prefabricated houses?
– A bill has passed through this House within the last 36 hours concerning the subject mentioned by the honorable member. Considerable debate ensued during the passage of that bill, and I should have thought that the honorable member would have taken the opportunity then to discuss alternatives to the prefabricated housing subsidy. However, since he has asked me a direct question, I inform him that I do not believe that it would be in the interests of Australia that the subsidy should not be paid and that the alternative that he suggests should be adopted. In other words, I believe that the prefabricated housing subsidy is in the best interests of the Australian people.
– I shall be very glad to act upon the suggestion that the honorable member has made.
– In view of the stated policy of the Government that employers should be asked to make up the pay of employees who enlist in the services, I ask the Treasurer what consideration has been given by the Government to cases in which taxation on made-up pay was erroneously collected by the Chifley Government ?
– The honorable member for Boothby informed me that he intended to ask this question, and I have had some information prepared in connexion with it. The Commissioner of Taxation has appealed to the High Court against the decision of the Taxation Board of Review that made-up pay is not taxable, but the appeal has not yet come before the court. If the court confirms the decision of the Board of Review, it will not mean that all tax paid on made-up pay will be refunded by the commissioner, because of the rule of law that tax payable in mistake of law is not refundable. The Government has under consideration requests made for retrospective amendment of the law in order to make all such payments exempt from taxation. There are many complications and difficulties arising out of this complex matter, and the position is still under review.
– I ask the Minister for Works and Housing whether he will discuss with the Minister for Immigration the circumstances in which a hostel is being constructed at Enfield, or Gepp’s Cross, in South Australia, for the accommodation of British immigrant tradesmen and their families, in order to ensure that the hostel will be ready for them as early as possible ? The early completion of that hostel is desirable in order that immigrants housed in the unsatisfactory quarters at the Rosewater camp may be moved to Gepp’s Cross, in accordance with the promise previously made by the Minister.
– I understand that the Gepp’s Cross migrant camp was commenced about six months ago. I shall certainly do as the honorable member suggests, and confer with my colleague, the Minister for Immigration.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Immigration a question in relation to an agreement entered into between this Government and the Government of the Netherlands concerning the movement to this country of 25,000 Dutch immigrants. Can the Minister inform the House of the channels of activity into which those immigrants will be directed in this country, and is he able to state the approximate percentage that will be trained for rural, labour requirements ?
– I cannot supply the honorable member with precise details, but I can assure him that a very high proportion of these people will go into rural industries. Indeed, of the 12,000 Dutch immigrants who have already come to this country during this and last year, a large proportion have gone into rural industry and we have had excellent reports of their work. We have much better prospects of obtaining rural workers from the Netherlands than from the United Kingdom, -where there is a shortage of such labour. We shall organize the selection of Dutch immigrants so as to ensure that a high proportion of them shall go to rural employment.
– Can the Minister acting for the Minister for the Interior tell the House when construction work will commence on the following projects in the Northern Territory, which were authorized over twelve months ago : - the Darwin wharf ; the Darwin school; the Alice Springs school ?
– The commencement of work on the Darwin wharf is dependent upon the final determination of a site for the structure. There is considerable difference of opinion concerning the choice of a site, and several investigations have been made. I inspected two alternative sites when I visited Darwin recently, but the eventual decision will be governed by the depths of water, which have not been established yet. I have arranged for the Minister for the Navy to send a hydrographic survey vessel to Darwin as soon as possible. At present, the ship is on loan to New Zealand, but it is being recalled. I hope that the survey will be completed soon. I shall endeavour to supply the honorable member with information about the Darwin school and the Alice Springs school later.
– Is the Minister for National Development aware that certain coastal rain forest areas in northern Queensland are suitable for grow rig rubber and that trees planted in those areas could be brought into production in from five to seven years ? In view of the facts that rubber is essential in industry and that rubber is one of the largest single dollar earners of the sterling group, will the Minister arrange for a full investigation by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization of the possibilities I have mentioned ? Is the Minister aware that a mechanical tapping device has been invented which would save labour costs and allow competition with Malaya and Indonesia on a cost basis? I commend this matter also for investigation by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
– I shall be glad to arrange for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization to report to me on the subjects that the honorable member has mentioned.
– I direct the attention of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to the fact that there is considerable concern amongst growers of oats because of the effect that the restriction of exports has upon the local price of oats. Will the honorable gentleman have the export quota for oats reviewed with a view to ensuring that -a profitable price shall be obtainable -by growers, particularly those in the tableland districts of New South Wales and elsewhere, who specialize in oat production ?
– I am aware of the problem to which the honorable gentleman has referred. It is a difficult one. There is no control of oats other than the general control of exports of oats and certain other grains. The policy that is being pursued by the Government is designed to ensure that Australia shall not be drained of oats for stock feed and human consumption merely because attractive prices are being paid overseas, but it is not the policy of the Government to restrict exports of oats to such a degree as to cause an artificial surplus here and, consequently, a depression of prices. The Government is endeavouring to strike a balance between the two extremes. I announced recently that tentative export quotas had been worked out on a State basis which had regard to the quantity of oats available in a State and the requirements of that State for oats, and that export permits would be granted accordingly. The export quota for each State is based upon present estimates of the stocks of oats that will be available and the local demand. The quotas will be reviewed from time to time in an endeavour to maintain the balance to which I. have referred.
– There is great activity in the constituency represented by the Postmaster-General, where a post office to serve the needs of 13,000 people is being erected at a cost of over £100,000. Can the Postmaster-General indicate when there will be similar activity in Maroubra, the centre of a district containing 20,000 people?
– In which electorate is Maroubra ?
– It is, of course, in the Watson electorate. I should like to be able to tell the people of my electorate at Chistmas that the Postmaster-General had promised that some consideration will be given to providing them with the postal facilities of which they are in need.
– I hope that in the next year or two there will be more activity in respect of postal matters in the constituency represented by the honorable gentleman than there was during the eight years when the Labour party was in office in this Parliament.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether, now that Australia’s aircraft carrier H.M.A.S. Sydney is returning to home waters after a long refit overseas, the Government will consider using the vessel and its aircraft in the waters to the north of Australia - I am deliberately refraining from being specific - in order that Australia’s interests in the security of territories to our north shall be demonstrated and confirmed? I remind the right honorable gentleman of the great use that Great Britain has always made of its naval vessels in this way, and I suggest that we might well follow that example.
– The proposal which I understand the honorable gentleman has in mind has not escaped consideration, but I shall have further discussions upon it with my colleagues.
– Is the Minister, acting for the Minister for the Interior aware that very grave and confusing differences exist between the system of postal voting at Commonwealth elections and those at various State elections? Does he know that these differences extend from the qualifications of authorized witnesses to the nature and form of admissible vote? Although this matter has frequently been brought to the notice of the State authorities, no State appears to be willing to take the initiative in removing the differences. Will the Minister consider sponsoring a conference of Commonwealth and State electoral officers with a view to the establishment of a uniform system of postal voting throughout Australia? Any recommendations made by the conference would, of course, be subject to subsequent approval by the States concerned.
– I shall discuss the suggestions made by the honorable member with the Chief Electoral Officer, and I shall give every consideration to them.
– In view of the threat of an early general election, can the Minister acting for the Minister for the Interior inform me on the method used to bring the electoral rolls up to date? Will he revert to the practice of utilizing postmen to collect and check names for the rolls?
– The electoral rolls will be up to date when a general election is held, and it will not be necessary to utilize the overworked postmen for the purpose that the honorable member has indicated.
– Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether the reported announcement that payment to growers for this season’s wheat will be made on the 12th December, is correct? Can the honorable gentleman also say when the refund from the Wheat. Industry Stabilization Fund in respect of No. 11 pool will be paid to wheatgrowers ?
– In accordance with the provisions of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Act, investigations into the cost of production have been completed, and I have been engaged, as required by that Legislation, in consulting State Ministers of Agriculture in respect of the revealed cost of production price of wheat before proclaiming the new guaranteed price, which will become the home-consumption price. I have telegraphed a statement of the case, together with a report, to the State Ministers of Agriculture, but, so far. I have received replies from only three of them. Yesterday I sent reminders to the remaining Ministers asking them if they wished to make any observations on the information that I had previously communicated to them. In the absence of very good reasons for contrary action by the Ministers who have not yet communicated with me, I shall arrange for the new price to be published in the Gazette that will be issued on Monday.
When that price is published in the Gazette it will become the guaranteed price for the forthcoming year, and under State law it will automatically become the home-consumption price. Payment of refunds to growers in respect of No. 11 pool has already been arranged for. There will also be a payment of a further advance to growers of ls. 6d. a bushel in respect of No. 13 pool, which is the last pooL Although the Government has provided the funds to make the payments mentioned, the Commonwealth Bank, through which the payments are made, has intimated that it will be unable, for staff and administrative reasons, to make both payments before Christmas. The Australian Wheat Board has expressed the opinion that if only one payment can be made before Christmas, it would prefer that the advance of ls. 6d. a bushel in respect of No. 13 pool should be paid, and I have approved of that payment being made. The payment of refunds to growers in respect of No. 11 pool, which will amount to almost £17,000,000, will be made as soon as the Commonwealth Bank can make the payment, which I expect will be in the latter part of January.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture aware that a state of emergency exists in northern Victoria regarding the disposal of wheat now being harvested? Will the Minister take immediate action to supply additional quantities of cornsacks to that area ? Is it a fact that cornsacks destined for Victoria were unloaded at Adelaide, and if so are they to be brought to Victoria?
– I know that, as the outcome of the railway strike in Victoria, a serious position has developed in that State in respect of the capacity of the Australian Wheat Board to receive bulk wheat and its ability to distribute cornsacks. I think that every one knows that because of circumstances in India, a most acute problem arose in regard to the supply of cornsacks. Adequate supplies of cornsacks are available to meet the estimated harvest. The problem now is to get additional supplies to the points where they are most urgently needed. Last night, the chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, in a telephone conversation. assured me that cornsacks have been unloaded, or are on the point of being unloaded, in Melbourne, and that they will be distributed as quickly as possible. The board is aware of the problem that exists and is taking every possible step to deal with it.
– On the 6th December, 1 directed a question to the Prime Minister concerning the position of certain retired, superannuated public service officers who volunteered to return to work during World War II., and thereby forfeited payment of their superannuation pensions for the period during which they returned to duty. The right honorable gentleman promised to furnish an answer to my question the following day, but he was unable to do so because of his absence on that day due to illness. Is the right honorable gentleman now in a position to furnish the information that I desire?
– The honorable member for Banks asked whether, in the event of legislation being introduced in the near future to amend the Superannuation Act, retrospective provision would be made to cater for those officers who returned to work during World War II. and by so doing lost their superannuation pensions. Section 50a of the Superannuation Act requires that, where a pensioner is re-employed by the Commonwealth for more than 2S working days in any period of twelve months, the proportion of his pension payable by the Commonwealth shall be cancelled during the period of employment in excess of those 28 days. The claims of superannuated officers who have been reemployed by the Commonwealth after their retirement, and several other superannuation matters involving policy decisions; are under consideration by the Government. In the amending Superannuation Bill which was passed by the House yesterday, it was found practicable to deal only with increases of pensions and Provident Account payments as outlined in the budget speech. It is hoped that legislation in respect of the oilier matters will be submitted in the next session.
– Will the Treasurer consider providing financial assistance for the development of community centres in small rural areas? I desire to make it clear that I am not referring to large country towns but to small settlements in sparsely populated areas where publicspirited residents are struggling by voluntary efforts to establish these worthwhile institutions?
– I shall be pleased to give consideration to the matter raised by the honorable gentleman.
– In view of the decision of the owners of the trans-Pacific liner Aorangi to discontinue operating that vessel on the Sydney-Vancouver run and to dispose of it, will the Minister for Immigration discuss with his Cabinet colleagues the taking-over of the liner by satisfactory arrangement, or by outright acquisition, with a view to utilizing it to transport immigrants, and later to attract overseas tourists, to this country? I point out that the acquisition of the liner would enable Australians, and especially the youth of this country, to see other parts of the world, and also to advertise this country overseas.
– I shall consider the suggestion made by the honorable member.
– I address a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture relative to a matter upon which I have written him a letter which he may not yet have received. I have received a letter from the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia in which the question is asked whether any of the moneys held in the Wool Use Promotion Fund can be made available to agricultural societies? The Minister is well aware of the good work which is being done by these societies. Can part of the funds be so used? If not, will the Minister consider distributing portion of them in that way?
Mr.McEWEN.- Offhand, I am not certain whether under the law, the money standing to the credit of the fund may he used in the manner suggested by the honorable member. It is utilized in accordance with advice tendered by the Australian Wool Board and a consultative committee. I shall bring the honorable member’s suggestion under the notice of the board. I am quite sure that if, in the board’s judgment use of the funds in the manner suggested by the honorable member would encourage the use of wool, and the law enables the money to be so used, in all probability the board would be prepared to recommend its use in that way.
– About three years ago the Postmaster-General’s predecessor invited me to inspect work that was in progress at the Petersham telephone exchange at which a large quantity of telephone apparatus was being installed. Since that time I have been approached repeatedly by many of my constituents in that area and they have informed me that they cannot get a telephone installed because that work has not been completed. Will the Postmaster-General have an investigation made to ascertain the cause of the delay that has taken place? Will he also ascertain whether the switch apparatus at that exchange is already overloaded or whether some hope exists that the work will be completed and residents in that area will thus he enabled to obtain telephones ?
– I congratulate the honorable member on the fact that in a part of his electorate a telephone exchange is at least on the way to completion.
Mr.Rosevear. - I do not know whether it is; that is the point of my question.
– I shallendeavour into obtain the information for which the honorable member has asked and supply it to him later.
– by leave- Yesterday the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Dr. Nott) asked a question in which he suggested that a half-holiday be granted in Canberra in connexion with the cricket match to be played at the Manuka Oval on Tuesday and Wednesday next between the Mariebone Cricket Club team and a team representing the Southern Districts of New South Wales. In accordance with established practice on such occasions, arrangements will be made for all officers or employees who desire to attend the match and whose services can be spared without inconvenience to their respective departments for all or portion of the working time during which the match is to he played, to be allowed off duty, subject to such leave being deducted from recreation leave due or accruing or other authorized leave. It is not considered that the circumstances warrant the proclamation of an authorized holiday or the grant to Commonwealth employees of leave with full pay.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without amendment -
Loan (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) Bill 1950.
States Grants (Administration of Controls Reimbursement) Bill 1950.
Life Insurance Bill 1950.
States Grants (Imported Houses) Bill 1950.
Services Trust Funds Bill 1950.
Brachina to Leigh Creek North Coalfield Railway Bill 1950.
Port Augusta to Alice Springs Railway (Alteration of Route) Bill 1950.
Wool (Contributory Charge) Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1950.
Superannuation Bill 1950.
Without requests -
Wool (Contributory Charge) Bill (No. 1a) 1950.
Wool (Contributory Charge) Bill (No. 2a) 1950.
Message received from the Senate, intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the House of Representatives in thisbill.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendment) :
Clause 2 -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ School “ includes a nursery school, kindergarten or creche;
Senate’s amendment. - Leave out “or creche “, insert “, creche or aboriginal mission “.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– I am very pleased that the Government has accepted the amendment that was suggested by the honorable member for Curtin (Mr. Hasluck), and was supported by the Opposition, and indeed by every one. As the honorable member for Curtin pointed out at the time, there is a tendency to forget about the duty that we owe to the native peoples of Australia. I am glad that the Government has acted so promptly.
.- I should like to express my appreciation of the prompt action of the Government in accepting my suggestion and of the Opposition in supporting it. The acceptance of my suggestion will meet a pressing need and indicates a wider recognition of the responsibilities of the nation towards the aboriginal people.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to preserve in force for a further year a small number of surviving National Security regulations and orders, the operation of which, by virtue of the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1946-1949, would otherwise cease on the 31st December, 1950. Several of these regulations and orders are now necessary only in order to complete winding-up operations, or to continue in force awards, orders or determinations made in pursuance of provisions which have now been repealed. Others of the regulations and orders, and indeed these form the majority, it is desirable to continue only until such time as it becomes possible to transfer their provisions from their emergency setting into permanent legislative form.
The Government set out early in the present year to get rid as quickly as possible of unnecessary war-time controls. Petrol rationing - no longer, it is true, under the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - was the first to go. Butter and tea rationing followed not long after, and the rationing regulations, on which these were based, have since been repealed. So have the National Security (Food Control) Regulations, and others.
A few of the regulations, which hitherto have been retained in order to assist in bringing about a gradual and orderly return from war conditions to conditions of peace, must now be considered also in relation to the increasing defence needs and commitments of Australia, as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations and of the United Nations. In happier circumstances they might perhaps have been allowed to lapse. Indeed, some of them may possibly have already ceased to have legal effect. Whatever the theoretical position may be, it is necessary in the interest of defence that these regulations should be in force during the coming year. The bill makes express provision for this purpose.
I have particularly, but not exclusively, in mind the National Security (Economic Organization) Regulations, which are concerned with the control of interest rates, and the National Security (Capital Issues) Regulations, which deal with the issue of capital, the giving of securities and mortgages and the taking of deposits.
Since the early part of this year, applications under the National Security (Capital Issues) Regulations have been granted automatically, and, but for the great change which has come about in the international situation in recent months, the Government would have hoped to repeal these particular regulations before now. The necessary acceleration of our defence programme has, however, led the Government to reconsider the necessity for some control of this kind. Serving as they do to assist in preventing the dissipation of resources necessary to defence on activities which do not fulfil defence purposes, these regulations contribute to the defence of Australia. In accordance with the intimation recently given by me of the Government’s intention to re-institute a system of capital issues control, the regulations will be continued in force.
Regulations retained to facilitate winding-up operations or to preserve awards, determinations and orders are the National Security (Apple and Pear Acquisition) Regulations, National Security (Industrial Peace) Regulations. National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations, National Security (Maritime Industry) Regulations, National Security (Coal Mining Industry Employment) Regulations and certain of the provisions of the National Security (General) Regulations and the National Security (Supplementary) Regulations. The acquisition of apples and pears was discontinued in 1948, but the regulations are being retained’ to enable the Commonwealth to wind up affairs in connexion with previous acquisitions, and also to fulfil an agreement entered into with “Western Australia whereby the Apple and Pear Marketing Board set up under the regulations is the medium through which the 1950 crop has been marketed.
The continuance of some of the regulations I have mentioned has made it necessary that other related regulations be continued such as, for instance, the National Security (Staff of “War-time Authorities) Regulations, which make provision for the staffing and pay of the members of the Apple and Pear Marketing Board. Regulations which will eventually be incorporated in permanent legislation, which is already in various stages of preparation, are the National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations, the National Security (Medical Benefits to Seamen) Regulations, the National Security (War Deaths) Regulations and several of the National Security (General) Regulations and the National Security (Supplementary) Regulations.
In one connexion or another, I think I have now mentioned most of the regulations and orders which the bill will keep in force, and have explained the reasons which make this desirable. There are, of course, no new regulations in question. The purpose of this legislation is, for the most part, to complete the tidyingup process in relation to the emergency legislation of the war of 1939-45. The few regulations which the bill will keep in force to meet new defence needs belong to a different category, but I do not think that honorable members will be disposed to dispute the necessity for them.
– The Opposition has considered the bill, and agrees that it is necessary to continue in force a number of regulations. It is an extraordinary thing that this Government, which made such a feature of the removal of controls, and criticized so harshly the Chifley Government for continuing wartime controls for the purpose of winding up pools, and in respect of other matters arising out of the war, should now propose to continue in force by blanket legislation of this kind a large number of controls which will endure for as long as the Government wishes. A vast field is covered by the bill, although the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) is correct in saying that some of the regulations are ancillary to the getting rid of certain provisions. The most important of the regulations are those which deal with capital issues control. That authority had never been formally repealed, but in February the Government announced that it would terminate capital issues control, I suppose in conformity with a preelection promise. The relevant order was not ended: it was kept in force, but the policy applied by the Government was to accede to every application made in accordance with the regulations.
As a result of a number of court decisions given in June, 1949, the power of the Parliament to continue this procedure was successfully challenged. J refer specifically to litigation about petrol rationing and the war service moratorium. The opinion was then widely entertained that it would not be possible to continue any of the economic regulations on the ground that problems arising out of the war had not entirely disappeared. This legislation gives a new turn to the position, and the Minister has frankly claimed that the international situation is such that the commitments of Australia, as a member of the British Commonwealth and of the United Nations, are growing, and that that state of affairs directs to the Australian Parliament more of the powers which are exercised during war. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) announced in his broadcast of the 5th October, and as this legislation indicates, capital issues will be controlled. We take it that that means that an administrative control will now be introduced and that, in the future, it will not be merely a matter of giving formal approval to applications for capital issues. The reasons for this measure, as announced by the Prime Minister, are that the procedures of issuing additional capital, bonus shares and the like, might give a further impetus to the inflationary trends affecting our economy. This is one of the important remedies of the Government. It is not introduced by permanent legislation under the companies or corporations power, which is not thought by the legal profession to be a very secure foundation, but by reestablishing or reinstating the capital issues control. This legislation, does just that. Having established that point, a broader issue is raised.
That is, why, in this situation, should that particular control be reinstated and why should the Government fail to give its authority under such legislation for the reinstatement of prices control ?
Price control was one of the features of war-time legislation which was continued until the courts came to the conclusion that it could no longer be con- tinued because of the contraction of the defence power of the Australian Government. Now the argument is that the defence power is about to expand, and capital issues control can be made good. In the light of that situation, the necessity which is believed to exist for having referendum approval for prices control seems to be disappearing, because that is measured by the same principle. That is one feature of the legislation that calls for comment. Economic controls of a very important character are being brought into existence to stop capital issues. Therefore, the Government is proclaiming that it believes that it has such a power to stop inflationary trends. The Opposition points out to the Government that if that is so the Government could assume powers on economic matters which would enable it, supported by Parliament, to make an attack upon inflation on a broader front. In such an attack prices control would be a supremely important element. The only case against prices control suggested by the Government is that by itself it is inadequate. Now, according to the proclamation that the Government is making in introducing this legislation, that argument disappears. If this proposed action is believed by the Government’s advisers to be within the power of the Government there is no reason why the same basis of power, the defence power, should not be utilized in the purpose of restoring prices control, which, in the opinion of the Opposition, is absolutely essential on an Australia-wide basis. The State Premiers have asked for it, and the action now taken by the Government seems to afford an opportunity for its introduction.
– I record my disapproval of this bill to extend the national security regulations for another year. I feel that one of the real reasons why this country is in such economic difficulty is because of the long-continued existence of economic controls such as those involved in this bill. It is quite natural that the Labour party should support these regulations, because .they are its own brain-child. Most of these regulations were necessary during the war, but to-day, when there is no war, their re-introduction should at least be put in some legislative form so that the Parliament, and the public, may understand them. That was strongly borne in upon me when this bill was being considered by the Senate. I asked certain senators about it, but they could not tell me anything. The bill was passed by the Senate without discussion. If these regulations were in proper legislative form everybody would have known about them, whereas now few members really understand what the bill means. After making some inquiries, I finally obtained from a Minister the information that I sought.
– This measure only continues the existing regulations.
– I know that. I commend to the Government certain speeches on this matter that have been made by its own supporters when the regulations were last extended and when the Government was in opposition. It is true that this bill merely extends the existing law. I am reminded of a statement by the late Lord Keynes that one of our difficulties to-day was not so much the acceptance of new ideas as ridding ourselves of old ones. That, I believe, is our trouble with these regulations. As I have said, they were quite justified in war-time, but their retention in peacetime means that we are moving closer towards socialism. They are part of the whole scheme of socialistic planning. Speaking on this subject some time ago, the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) said that the first casualty of war was civil liberty. We are not involved in a war to-day. There will always be wars somewhere in the world. We might become involved in a war; but we might not, and I suggest that, until we are in fact at war we should not bog ourselves down in more controls at the risk of ruining our free economy. Members of the present Government parties advocated in their speeches during the last election campaign the freeing of our economy from controls. I too, urged such action when speaking from election platforms. Apparently, however, in most instances those utterances were merely expressions of good intentions. I remind the Government that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Regulations such as those now under discussion will do more to ruin the Government than would the implementation of it3 election policy by firm action to deal with inflation in the proper manner. The continuance of controls is only tinkering at the real problem. The Government’s election proposals were right. That is to say, we should aim to return to a condition of normal free economy as soon as possible. The enforcement of these economic regulations will naturally require administrative staff, but in addition to that it will require inspectorial staff which will be very expensive to maintain. As the need for the regulations decreases and as they become less popular, more inspectorial staff has to be added. The result of that will be that more valuable manpower will be drained away from our limited man-power resources. The cause of our trouble to-day, as I have pointed out before, is that we have a condition of over-employment. The Government has to play a very important part in overcoming that problem insofar as its own public service is concerned. It should aim to try to pare down the Commonwealth Public Service and also to ensure, by means of tariff reform and other instruments, that the demand for manpower in various industries will be cut down so that there will not be so much pressure on prices brought about by competition for man-power between the Government and industry generally.
Let me assure the Government, and also the Opposition, that I am not advocating a pool of unemployed persons. Ear be it from me to do so. I advocate a condition of full employment and of balance in cur economy, rather than a condition in which there are half a dozen jobs for every man available. We are trying to do too much, a fact which has been stated many times by other people, including the chairman of the National Bank of Australasia Limited who recently pointed this out. I suggest that in the regulations covered by the bill, which are the brain children of the former socialist Administration, we are dealing with effects and not with causes.
In his second-reading speech the Minister soft-pedalled the regulations governing capital issues control which are the most important of the regulations affected by the measure. He dealt with them only incidentally among references to regulations governing such authorities as apple and pear boards.
I suggest that the bill itself will do nothing to stop the inflationary trend in this country. All those controls mean suppressed inflation, and experience has always shown that when we suppress inflation in one way it will burst out in another. If we suppress it in one place it will come out in another place and then wc shall have to put more and more people on the Government pay-roll to try to hold it in check. The alternative to it is open inflation. If we had that, we should at least know where we were going and could aim to cause a certain amount of dis-era ploy ment. However, the Governnent refuses to deal with this very urgent problem of inflation and I urge it to grapple with the problem intelligently before more of the value runs out of the Australian £1.
Another aspect of regulations of this kind is that when they are unpopular they will foe disregarded, and thus will bring governmental authority into contempt. That is what we talked so much about prior to the last general election and I still talk about it, because unpopular laws will not be obeyed. That was very evident when we had more regulations in force than we now have. Very few people took the regulations that governed the transfer of land seriously. The same thing happened in regard to the sale of second-hand motor cars at pegged prices. Astute people found a way round the regulations governing these matters. Another important point about regulations governing capital issues is that each State controls its own company laws. Regulations for the control of capital issues are, therefore, to some degree, an infringement of State rights and I suggest that we have already had enough Commonwealth infringement of the sovereign powers of the States. There is already too much centralization, which results in more and more bureaucracy. One of the very unsavoury things about controls of this kind is that they result in patronage, which, in turn, ultimately leads to corruption. Also the people who administer the regulations make mistakes and are not accountable for them. Such controls as capital issues controls obviously deter the establishment of industries. That, fact has particular application to Queensland, which has lagged behind the rest of the Commonwealth in the development of secondary industries because its taxing laws prior to the unification of taxation, tended to hunt industry from Queensland. The result is that in order to keep pace with the rest of Australia, Queensland needs to expand its industry as rapidly as possible. Expanding industry may be described as the life blood of a free economy. Every “ free “ industry that, has expanded successfully has bestowed more benefits upon, and made a greater contribution to, the living conditions of the people than have “ controlled “ industries. I remind the House of the great efforts of the Ford Company of America, which gave the world cheap motor cars, and forced its competitors to manufacture cheap motor cars. The International Harvester Company and the Singer Sewing Machine Company are other examples. The controls under consideration may be described as the brain-child of a socialist administration, and I regret that the Government is continuing them, because they do not provide the solution of the economic problem. Proof of that may be found in what has happened to Australian and British industries under Labour administrations. British industries, which once were supreme in the world, have yielded pride of place to those of other countries, due entirely to socialist management and control. The half-hearted attempts to remedy the economic situation by the continuation of war-time controls, will not meet with any success. The recent boom in new issues of companies’ capital has not in many cases been due to the expansion of their activities. Whilst the Government has been discussing for many months the advisability of re-imposing control of capital issues, some companies have seized the opportunity to get additional money to take care of rising stock values, &c. Now those companies which did not take this opportunity may be penalized. I hope that that will not happen. Had the Government announced that those controls would be abolished, half the boom in capital issues would not have occurred. One of the reasons why companies need additional issues is to enable them to finance the increased costs of the machinery that they require for their production and success. The Government is dealing, not with a cause, but with an effect. The Government has now been in office for twelve months, and must take the responsibility for the increases of prices since it was elected. It is of no use blaming the economic policy of the Chifley Administration. That Government was at fault, but the present Government is continuing various economic controls which I, and other Government supporters, condemned very strongly some time ago. I realize that this bill deals with a fait accompli. but I urge the Government, with all sincerity, to endeavour to abolish those controls as soon as possible and use the only effective methods that can arrest the spiralling of prices, which is destroying our Australian economy.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell”) adjourned.
– by leave - This is not the occasion for making a lengthy statement on the problems which arise out of the Korean campaign. These problems are under close consideration between governments and in particular are at present the subject of close, friendly and mutually understanding discussions between Mr. Attlee and President Truman. The very fi;ct that they are conferring in this spirit is the best indication to the world that the international co-operation which produced resistance to aggression in Korea if not going to be dissipated because that resistance has, in recent weeks, become uncommonly difficult. All that I can tell the House about the campaign is that the latest reports are more encouraging and that, while the difficulties are real, there is certainly no reason for defeatism of any kind.
It is perhaps worth while reminding ourselves that the campaign in Korea is not national but international. The many nations involved in the resistance to North Korean aggression did not become so involved because they believed that Korea possessed some special strategic importance. The considerations that moved them were not military. They acted under a resolution of the Security Council of the United Nations for the sole purpose of resisting international aggression and of demonstrating their firm intention to make the United Nations an effective instrument against such aggression in the future. This international task has not been completed, nor can it, in the nature of things, be voluntarily abandoned.
The entry into the contest of something like 250,000 Chinese Communist troops has presented new and tremendous problems of a military kind. It has, in fact, among other things, served as n timely reminder to us that even great superiority in the air and in ground weapons can be matched by large numerical superiority in point of trained manpower. The military problems will, of course, be dealt with by a very distinguished military commander. It would be difficult to run an effective campaign by committee. But I confidently anticipate that no military decision which might have international political implications will be made without full consultation between the governments concerned.
Above and beyond the purely military considerations, there are political implications in the Chinese intervention which are of great magnitude and delicacy. I would not assist in their determination by provoking any premature discussion about them. All I need say is that our own best endeavours will be in the direction of isolating the Korean campaign and making it abundantly clear to the Chinese people that the .participating countries of the United Nations have no desire to inflict injury upon Chinese lives or property but are engaged in a military operation in which Chinese citizens can become involved only by their own choice. For myself, I have every hope that the meeting now proceeding between the leaders of the two great democratic powers in the world will materially help to produce a state of affairs in which, while the action taken by the United Nations is upheld and proceeds to success, there may he no unnecessary spreading of the conflict of such a kind as to involve the world in a great war, the very thought of which is detestable to the overwhelming majority of the world’s people.
– by leave - The Opposition welcomes the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). My remarks are intended to stress a factor that I consider is of supreme importance. A military operation is proceeding in Korea, and forces of many nations are engaged on behalf of the United Nations organization. One of those forces has been provided by Australia. Therefore, I put to the Prime Minister and the Government the view - and I am sure that every one will agree with it - that the first thing to emphasize is that no political considerations should be introduced which might embarrass the protection, security and safety of the troops actually fighting. We read in the newspapers reports of proposals for evacuation or partial evacuation of the troops engaged in Korea, and we are unable to form any considered judgment of those reports. The first thing to insist upon, and I consider that Australia can insist upon it, is that the servicemen of all the countries involved should be safeguarded and their interests not subordinated to mere considerations of political policy. I consider that that is axiomatic. Unfortunately, however, many things that are axiomatic are forgotten in a difficult situation such as the Korean campaign. Lieutenant-General Sir Horace Robertson recently complained that, because of the absence of military censorship, the safety of certain troops might be jeopardized. I put that to the Government as the first matter to be considered. It is all very well to say that the Chinese Government should not extend this conflict into a world war, but the fact is that hundreds of thousands of Chinese are actually engaged in the conflict. Their participation gives rise to a situation of acute difficulty. I entirely agree with the Prime Minister’s final statement to the effect that every possible step should be taken in order to avert the extension of the campaign into a world conflict.
Honorable members of the Opposition have supported in the House, and will continue to support, the action of the United Nations organization in intervening in Korea. That action was justified because it was repelling unlawful aggression by means of lawful aggression. Honorable members on this side of the House have frequently suggested that it is important that Australia’s voice should be heard at the point of military command and also at the point where the political decisions are being taken. While I agree with the statement of the Prime Minister that command by a committee cannot be substituted for military command, I do not suppose that the right honorable gentleman would contend for a moment that in making crucial military decisions a country such as Australia, which is making an important contribution to the fighting forces, should not make an equally important contribution to the general conduct of the campaign. I consider that that point has not been sufficiently attended to in the past. A stage has been reached where the Government should make every endeavour, both on the military and on the political side, to have the voice of this country heard.
The Prime Minister has referred to the vitally important conversations that have taken place between Mr. Attlee and President Truman. There, again, honorable members of the Opposition fear that, unless the Government insists upon a voice in the conduct of the Korean campaign and takes every step to secure it, it may be too late for Australia to play a part in the decisions that are taken. Mr. Reston, of the New York Times, has been telling the world what is actually taking place between President Truman and Mr. Attlee. I point out that what that gentleman says in the New York Times is invariably regarded in the United States of America as authentic, because he expresses the views of the State Department of the United States of America.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) may have no fear that Australia’s voice is not well known to both of those distinguished members of the conference.
– The Prime Minister himself is shortly leaving this country to attend an important conference overseas.
– All I wish to say is that I personally attended to that matter, in addition to communicating through the ordinary channels.
– I am suggesting something further that the Prime Minister might attend to, in view of this important conference. I suggest that Australia’s viewpoint should he reinforced and strengthened by means of personal talks, and that this country, which is so deeply involved in the Korean campaign and its consequences, should not be limited to representation through the ordinary method of cable communication. Behind the Korean problem there are other problems that I had proposed to mention, but in view of the statement of the Prime Minister I do not think that I should do so this morning. The problem of Formosa and of the recognition of the Chinese Communist Government no doubt have been discussed in the United States of America. There are also the problems of Japan and Indonesia. The latter problem may affect us vitally because it is closer to our own shores. There is the danger that a struggle such as that taking place in Korea may develop into a conflict between the white and the coloured races. There is also the danger involved in bolstering up regimes which no longer have popular support, and there is the equal danger of Communist successes spreading from one country to another. The fact is that those problems vitally affect our future, and we look to the Government to act upon that basic view.
I have emphasized that the first military matter that should be stressed at this moment is the security of our forces. I mean by that that mere political considerations should not be permitted to affect their security and safety. I consider that that is an undoubtedly correct principle. I repeat that Australia, which should have had earlier representation, is still entitled to have its voice heard on the military side as we’ll as on the political side of these important questions. In such matters it is very important that the Parliament should be given the fullest information and that this House should not adjourn without a clear statement from the Government that if this situation worsens there will be a calling together of the Parliament.
During the last week or so honorable members of the Opposition on behalf of the executive of the Australian Labour party, were engaged in negotiations with the Government for the purpose of establishing a standing committee on foreign affairs. The negotiations were broken off at a point when, in my judgment, they should not have been broken off. Defence and foreign affairs are matters which offer enormous scope for agreement between political parties. I do not say that 100 per cent, agreement can be reached; but I consider that the time has now come when co-operation should be given practical shape by means of the formation of bodies of that kind on terms that are reasonable and satisfactory, without committing the Government on the one hand or the Opposition on the other.
– The right honorable member recently refused to give the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) leave to make a statement.
– That was done for a very good reason. In any event, the honorable gentleman was refused leave, not to make a statement, but to submit a motion which is an entirely different matter. If the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony) knew the facts concerning that matter, he would not make any criticism of them. The Opposition was engaged in a bona fide negotiation in order to bring into being in this emergency, especially having regard to Korea, such a committee or body. The same suggestion was also made in connexion with defence, but it was rejected by the Government.
– I thought that the honorable member had leave to make a statement concerning the matters dealt with by rae.
– That is true, and I am suggesting that on the matters to which the Prime Minister referred–
– I suggest that the right honorable member is debating something else.
– I am not. I am pointing out that arising directly out of the Korean situation is the necessity for the fullest information to be made available to this House, and for consultation. The statement made by the Prime Minister to-day is no doubt as comprehensive as possible, but it really gives us no information concerning the Government’s policy, beyond the statement that it does not desire the conflagration in Korea to extend into a general world war. We and the people of Australia want something more than that. I have made a practical suggestion in relation to international affairs and defence which I ask the Government to consider or, if it lias already made a decision, to reconsider in the light of recent events. This is all closely related to the problem of Korea. No international political matters should affect in any way the disposition of our forces. That is of supreme importance not only to Australia but also to all other members of the United Nations that have forces engaged in Korea.
Debate resumed (vide page 4079).
– The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Charles Russell) has said, from his place on the Government benches-
GOVERNMENT SUPPORTERS - No !
– From his place on the Government benches! Honorable members cannot change that physical fact. The honorable member for Maranoa sits behind the Government on the Government benches. Though members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party may not like the proffered support of the honorable member, the fact is that what he has said to-day is identical with the statements that were made by supporters of the present Government, when they were in opposition, from 1947 onwards about legislation of the same character as this bill. Everything that the honorable member has said in criticism to-day was said by those honorable gentlemen then. But now, having presented a bill precisely the same as others that were introduced by the Chifley Government, they try to convince the House that it is good legislation notwithstanding all the evil features that they attributed to it in other years.
– We supported it on every occasion.
– The honorable gentleman and his colleagues supported it by not opposing it, if that can be described as support. They criticized it trenchantly but did not vote on the matter.
The honorable member for Maranoa has told the Government that it is responsible for the prices increases that have occurred during the last twelve months. It must accept the full responsibility for them. I thought that the honorable gentleman’s speech was delightfully informative and interesting, and I think that it will have a powerful influence upon the minds of the Australian people. It was like a breath of fresh air blowing across this chamber from the Government benches. I do not agree with all that the honorable member has said, of course. For instance, he said that the whole programme of controls was a brain child of socialist administration. That is not correct.
– Yes, it is.
– No, it is not.
– But it is.
– The Labour Government certainly believed in controls, but this legislation was not placed upon the statute-book in the first instance by a Labour administration. Controls were introduced by the Menzies Administration.
– That is right.
– Therefore, if this legislation is the brain child of any political organization, it is the brain child of the semi-socialist Liberal party. Nearly all of the. controls that we had to accept in time of war were imposed originally by the first Menzies Government, which was advised by Professor Copland. The Labour Government took over the controls and the advisers of that Government. We believed in the controls because they were necessary in the public interest, and we think that controls are necessary to-day because of the awful moss that this Government has made over inflation.
The Australian people should be given an opportunity to vote prices control permanently into the Constitution. But, if the recitals in the preamble to the bill to the effect that we are in a state of war and, therefore, that the defence power can be invoked, are correct, there is no necessity to conduct a referendum upon prices control. The Government can promulgate a regulation to reestablish control of prices.
– Order! The honorable member is not entitled to discuss prices control. That subject is listed for discussion elsewhere on the notice-paper.
– But other honorable members have referred to it.
– That ruling has been given by Mr. Speaker and the honorable member must obey it.
– If the arguments of the Government are valid, it can use the powers i hat it now possesses to impose any controls that may be necessary. The honorable member for Maranoa has said that controls are unpopular, but there are some controls which the people want the Government to impose at this time so that they may have a better chance of maintaining a reasonably decent standard of living than they have under the jungle conditions which this Government tolerates. Unrestricted competition permits the man with the longest purse to get the most, while the man with very little money is denied the goods that he needs.
The Government has played fast and loose with capital issues control. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies1) made two broadcasts on inflation over the national and commercial radio stations of Australia on the 5th and 6th October at no cost to the Government, and presumably at no cost to the Liberal party. By the same token, no opportunity has yet been given to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) to broadcast his views upon inflation for consideration by the people! In the second broadcast, the Prime Minister said, on the subject of capital issues control -
We propose to reinstitute capital issues control. We think this should be done so that the absorption of capital and, therefore, of labour and materials into industries of minor importance, at the expense of those of major importance, may be restrained.
But all that the Government proposes to do is reinstitute the controls that have been operating during the last twelve months. Those controls have not protected the people as the Prime Minister has said that they ought to be protected. All that the Government proposes to do is revalidate the regulation under which bonus shares to the amount of £10,000,000 have been issued during the last twelve months. That amount of undistributed profits has been pumped into the financial channels of the country and has increased the inflationary spiral. A further amount of £4,000,000 of undistributed profits is in the course of addition to the capital structure of our economy. I do not think that the Government will use the authority that will be conferred upon it by the bill to stop the issue of fresh bonus shares.
– How is the issue of bonus shares inflationary ? It merely represents a transfer of savings from one place to another.
– The Minister is not so simple as he pretends to be. The issue of bonus shares is always motivated by a desire to get increased profits for those who own the shares and to maintain the same dividend rate, if possible, upon the increased capital structure. In many instances, these bonus shares have been issued in respect of unessential but very profitable industries. As more money is pumped into those industries more unnecessary goods are placed upon the market and more people are taken away from the production of essential goods. The Prime Minister is conscious of that, because, in the broadcast to which I have referred, he said -
We propose to institute a control over basic materials, our plan being that until certain grave shortages in Australia have been repaired, vital materials, which many people now need for essential purposes, should not be allowed to be diverted to less important uses.
That is a very desirable aim.
– What is the honorable gentleman reading from?
– I presume that the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) is still a member of the Liberal party.- I am reading from a publication issued under the authority of D. M. Cleland, 30 Ash-street, Sydney.
– A very good publication.
– I am glad that the honorable gentleman has realized that I am quoting from a publication issued by his own party. There is hope for him still. If the Prime Minister wanted to give effect to that policy, he would introduce a measure with more blood in it than this piece of legislation. The ineffectiveness of the capital issues regulations under the administration of the present Government is proved by the abuses that have occurred during the last twelve months, and we have no assurance that conditions will be any better in the next twelve months. If the Government wants to ensure that materials will be properly used in the best interests of this country, it should introduce a special bill for that purpose, and not content itself with presenting a measure to continue in force regulations that were issued during the war years under the authority of the National Security Act. On several occasions, I invited the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) to say definitely whether the Parliament would be given an opportunity this session to discuss an excess profits tax bil] and a capital issues control bill. This measure is not a fulfilment of the promise that the Treasurer made in his budget speech. In- order that there shall be no doubt about what happened in this Parliament on this matter, I remind the House that on the 8th November I asked the Treasurer whether it was his intention to introduce those two bills this session. The right honorable gentleman’s reply was both laconic and informative. It was simply “ Yes “. We have not seen the capital issues control bill, although the Treasurer promised to introduce it.
– This bill will give theGovernment power to control capital issues.
– If that be so, why did not the Government use the capital issues regulations in the last twelve months?’ Why did it allow the position to get so much out of hand that” the Prime Ministerhad to make a special broadcast to the nation in which he said that the Government was going to establish a National’ Security Resources Board and examine our material and man-power potentials in order that we could make the best possible use of them ? Why did the Prime Minister have to deplore the existence of a situation which he said was creating, to use the title of the publication to which I have referred, a threat of inflation. Inflation was more than a threat at that time; it was a very real disaster. The Government should have introduced better and more effective legislation than this. We have no assurance that, even if we pass this measure, conditions between now and when the Parliament meets again will be better than they have been during the last twelve months.
The honorable member fox Watson (Mr. Curtin) has reminded me that there is such an issue before the peopleas putting value back into the £1. The Government parties raised that issue in December of last year, and we are maintaining interest in it in December of this year. The Opposition has more interest now in the issue of putting value back into the £1 than the Government has. If there is one slogan that the Government wishes to forget, it is the -slogan in relation to putting value back into the £1. Unless value is put back into the £1 and some effective controls are introduced during the next twelve months, the plight of the Australian people will become desperate. In a broadcast that I made recently I donned the mantle of the prophet and said that unless something effective were done, within twelve months Australia would be a nation of white coolies.
The “ big boys “ of business are not very worried about what this Government is going to do. I have an extract from a newspaper, which reads as follows : -
By the Commercial Editor.
While the Stock Exchange had better prepare for the worst, there is no obvious reason why the controls should interfere with the terms of new company issues as well as their Amount.
If the controls are not to be effective, what will be the use of passing this measure? The financiers of this country have received a “ tip-off “ from the Government to dispose of their undistributed profits so that when this bill is passed and the Government purports to introduce some form of capital issues control, there will be nothing that can be done to interfere with those who manipulate the financial strings of the stock exchange of this country and who know all the time, much better than does the Parliament, and certainly much better than do the members of the Opposition, what the Government intends to. do, or how little it intends to do, to restrain the money masters of Australia in their game of making profits for themselves and their friends.
– Every honorable member appreciates fully the political motives that induced the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) and the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) to make the speeches that they made. Those motives do them lit’tle credit, and their lack of coherence in exposition has done them little good.
I must confess that I was unable to follow the reasoning of the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Charles Russell). He said that he agreed that these controls would be effective and necessary in war-time, but that this was not war. Subsequently, statements were made upon Korea and upon international affairs which showed the unsoundness of the ivory tower attitude that, unfortunately, is now adopted by the honorable member for Maranoa. I believe that socialist controls, in the long run, lead to stagnation and inefficiency. As a philosophy, socialism is inefficient in relation to production. But when’ we are faced with a short-term emergency - and, heaven knows, we are faced today with just that kind of emergency in the international field - we do not think so much of long-term considerations. In order to survive through the shortterm period, we adopt measures of control which, considered as a basic philosophy, lead to stagnation, but which, considered as a method of attacking the short-term emergency, are necessary and efficient. We sacrifice long-term development in order to obtain maximum benefit during the short term. Internationally, we are faced with a short-term emergency. The honorable member for Maranoa obviously recognized that fact. [Quorum formed.] As I have already pointed out, the honorable gentleman admitted the basic proposition that in times of emergency the institution of controls is justifiable, although the institution of such controls in normal times tends to stagnation. However, it is clear that the honorable gentleman fails to recognize that we are now confronted with what is virtually a state of war-time emergency. I think that the attitude that he has adopted does little credit to his intelligence, although I do not in any way impugn his motives. In fact, I subscribe fully to the viewpoint that he has expressed that the institution of artificial controls in normal times tends to stagnation.
I turn now to the attitude displayed by members of the Opposition, which, in this instance, as in all other recent instances, is characterized by their basic insincerity and their desire to exploit the current political situation. Members of the Opposition have endeavoured to make political capital out of this measure, which has been introduced in the national interest. They have failed to perceive that they have stabbed their leader in the hack during his absence from the House by adopting the attitude that they have adopted towards this measure. Perhaps the real explanation of their attitude is not that they have failed to realize their treachery towards the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley), but that they have deliberately chosen this opportunity to run counter to his expressed views. The notice-paper contains notice of the intention of the Leader of the Opposition to introduce a bill to amend the Constitution for the purpose of conferring on the Commonwealth permanent power to deal with capital issues. However, in the absence of the right honorable gentleman, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has stated very definitely that in his opinion there is no need to institute permanent controls, and that they are entirely unnecessary. The right honorable gentleman contends that the occurrence of a state of emergency automatically confers on the Commonwealth power to control capital issues. I have never heard of a more treacherous attack upon a man in his absence than the implied attack that has been made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, with the support of members of the Australian Labour party, on the right honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Chifley). That attack affords a commentary on the political morality of members of the Labour party. They have tried to “ make a guy “ of their leader during his absence from the House. They have said, in effect, that his proposal is entirely unnecessary, and that it is a work of supererogation.
I return to the basic point that the Opposition is insincere in its attitude towards this measure. Of course, the major difference between the point of view of the Government and that of the Opposition on this matter of economic controls is that whilst the non-Labour parties favour the introduction of these controls only as a temporary measure for the present state of international emergency, the Opposition desires to have a permanently controlled, socialized, regimented state. As one who recognizes our duty to do unpleasant things in the present state or emergency in order to ensure our survival in the f uture, I express my sincere hope that the international situation will clear sufficiently to enable the principles enunciated by the honorable member for Maranoa to become practicable.
Motion (by Mr. Gullett) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Ma. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . 32
– Order ! Which honorable gentleman used the word “ hypocrites” ?
– I did.
– The honorable gentleman will withdraw that remark.
– In deference to you, sir, I withdraw it.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to make three amendments of the Commonwealth Railways Act 1917-1936. First, clause 2 inserts in section 4 of the principal act a definition of “ carriage “. The inclusion of this definition is necessary owing to the failure of a departmental prosecution under section 69 (1.) (a) against a person who travelled in a truck without having purchased a ticket. The court held that a truck was not a carriage within the meaning of the act. The amendment will, therefore, ensure that the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner will have power in future to provide for redress against offences of that type.
Secondly, by clause 3, it is proposed to repeal section 15 of the principal act. Under that section, the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner is excluded from the entitlement of long service leave or furlough during his occupancy of the office of commissioner. That provision is in direct conflict with the provisions of the Commonwealth Employees Furlough Act, which is intended to apply to all persons employed by the Commonwealth. The amendment therefore removes an inconsistency and enables the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner to enjoy the same furlough privileges as do other Commonwealth employees.
Clause 4 repeals section 51 of the principal act and inserts an appropriate section in its stead. This section of the act relates to the maximum salary of a position to which the commissioner may appoint, transfer or promote an employee without the approval of the GovernorGeneral. The proposal now beforethe House increases the previous maximum of £500 to a salary or wage of £850 per annum in regard to any employee. At the time of the enactment of the existing legislation - the 22nd September, 1917 - only five positions in the Commonwealth railways carried a salary in excess of £500 per annum, and no individual wage in excess of that amount per annum was paid. Honorable members will, of course, realize that with increases of salary and wage rates brought about by increases of the basic wage, cost-of-living adjustments, loadings and increases of marginal rates the position is now entirely different and that too great a restriction is placed on the powers of the Commissioner in respect of promotions and transfers of employees. In fact, I have been advised that no adult officer employed on the North Australia Railway receives a salary or wage less than the present prescribed maximum.
Although the maximum of £850, above which an appointment or transfer of an officer requires the approval of the GovernorGeneral, may not seem high in present circumstances, clause 4 (2.) provides that, in ascertaining the salary of an office, no account shall be taken of salary variations in accordance with variations of the cost of living or of any allowance. The effect of this clause will be that the actual salary maximum will be considerably higher than £850 per annum when account is taken of cost-of-living adjustments and other allowances. In the existing legislation, the £500 includes all allowances, other than travelling allowances. I commend the bill, which is merely a machinery measure, to the favorable consideration of honorable members.
.- The Opposition has examined this legislation and is prepared to allow it to be passed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1950.
Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Bill 1950. [Quorum formed.]
– In the absence through illness of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis), who represents the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) in this chamber, I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The object of the bill is to effect two amendments to the Interim Forces Benefits Act. The purposes of the act are to express the two following principles: First, the provisions of the legislation for members of the forces, 1939-45 war, viz., the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act and the Re-establishment and Employment Act, relating to war pensions, repatriation benefits, reestablishment, &c, apply to members of the forces who enlisted before the 1st July, 1947; and, secondly, the benefits available to members who enlisted after the 30th June, 1947, shall be those expressed in the Interim Forces Benefits Act.
The position in respect of the second principle is that war pension, medical treatment, and a fair range of other general benefits are available to members who enlisted at any time during the period from the 1st July, 1947, to the 30th June, 1949, for a period of not more than two years. For the purposes of the act, this class is designated “ Interim Forces “ and the definition reads as follows : - “ Member of the Interim Forces “ means a person who, after the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and forty-seven, and prior to a date fixed by the Minister by notice in the Gazette, enlists or re-engages in, or is appointed or re-appointed to, the Naval, Military or Air Forces of the Commonwealth for a term not exceeding two years.
The date was fixed by the Minister as the 1st July, 1949, and it was proclaimed in the Gazette on the 20th June, 1949. The first amendment arises in respect of that definition. The definition covers not only members of the permanent forces, but also members of the Citizen Military Forces. Comparing it with the definitions of “ member of the forces “ in the
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act and the Re-establishment and Employment Act, it will be seen that for a member of the Citizen Military Forces to be covered by that legislation he must be one who was “ enlisted or appointed or called up for continuous service for the duration of, and directly in connexion with the war “ ; but the condition of continuous service does not appear in the definition of “member of the Interim Forces” and therefore, as it now stands it includes members of the Citizen Military Forces enlisted for “ part-time “ service. This was not intended. Therefore, it is proposed to amend the definition by inserting after the word “ Commonwealth “ the words “ for continuous service “.
The second amendment arises in respect of section 4 of the act which expresses the principle that in respect of members who enlist, or re-engage, after the 30th June, 1947, the benefits which shall accrue to those members by reason of that service shall be those provided in the Interim Forces Benefits Act. It is faulty, however, in that the words that describe the service read “ by reason of their service after that date”, that is, after the 30th June, 1947. The intention of the act can be accurately expressed by inserting in section 4 the following words, “by reason of their service after the date of that enlistment, re-engagement, appointment or re-appointment, as the case may be “. This amendment is necessary in order to protect the interests of the class of member who enlisted before the 30th June, 1947, say, in 1942, continued that service after the 30th June, 1947, and in say, 1948, was discharged, but re-enlisted for further service. The service from 1942 to the date of discharge in 1948 should be covered for the purposes of such legislation by the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, and the Reestablishment and Employment Act. For example, the member, during the period from the 30th June, 1947, to the date of discharge from his war-time service, might have suffered incapacity from a happening due to service, and that should be covered under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act for pension and medical treatment. The bill is designed to effect these two amendments.
.- The Opposition will not oppose the measure. However, I direct the attention of the Minister for Air (Mr. White) to one point so that it may be carefully watched in the administration of the bill. I suggest that clause 3, in its application to members of the Citizen Military Forces, may in practice cause a degree of hardship. I should like to be assured that the Government will review the position again if anomalies should arise in the administration of that provision.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next meeting.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I take this opportunity to wish all honorable members a merry Christmas and a very happy New Year. All honorable members who have been here for a great number of years will agree with me that 1950 has been a very heavy parliamentary year, not only in terms of days of sitting and a substantial volume of legislative work, but also because during the course of the year there have been international problems of a very important, sometimes very dangerous, and always very heavy, kind. It is to the credit of the Parliament that these events have always inspired in this House a sense of responsibility all round. It is the weight of responsibility as .well as the ordinary physical and mental labour of a session that produces, in the end, some weariness. I daresay we are all going home tired, some of us, I hope, to have a holiday, and some to have the best of all holidays. I am sure that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) will be seeing a cricket test match or two. I shall not be privileged to view the test matches, because it is necessary for me to journey abroad. The Government is indebted to honorable members opposite for their co-operation in dealing with the business of the House. We are indebted to you, Mr. Speaker, for the manner in which you have conducted the business of the House, and also to your deputy, the Chairman of Committees (Mr. Adermann), who, during your absence, acquitted himself so ably. Unless the occupant of the Chair is fully aware of his task, has a thorough knowledge of the rules of the House, and enjoys the goodwill and respect of its members, the business of the House cannot satisfactorily be discharged. For that reason, we are all debtors of Mr. Speaker and the Chairman of Committees.
I should like, also, to thank the officers of the House. I have been in Parliament, in one House or another, in both State and ‘Federal spheres - and I do not want this to be used against me - for 22 years - just long enough to realize that without the officers of the House we could frequently be lost indeed. I trust that Mr. Green, the Clerk of the House, during the parliamentary recess, will be able to have such a complete rest as will fully restore his health. The thanks of all honorable members are due to the attendants who have been extremely helpful to us. The members of the Hansard staff are accustomed to the blandishments of members of Parliament, because it has always been understood - how rightly I do not know - that the members of the Hansard staff have such a command of the English language that, by what the right honorable member, for Bradfield (Mr. Hughes) once described as a process of osmosis, they translate whatever we might say into a form of limpid English that pleases us so much that many of us have been known to have our speeches reprinted and distributed.
I should just like to say to private members that this is a larger Parliament than formerly. The larger Parliament becomes, the less becomes the opportunity for private members to express their own views. On the whole, perhaps a private member of an Opposition, though he may not believe it, has a rather better chance than has a private member of the Government. In the first place, mathematically his chances are greater because he belongs to the less numerous section, and in the second place, a leader of an Opposition is always willing to hear a back-bencher speak, because at least he knows that the backbencher will give a “ crack “ at the Government. That I know, from eight very weary years’ experience in opposition. But private members on the Government side - as I also happen to know from a trifle of experience - live in a state of constant frustration. When they agree with the Government, the Government Whip comes to them and says, “It is all right, we want to get this one through. Don’t you speak “. On the other hand, when they disagree with the Government, the head of the Government becomes most infuriated and asks, “ Did that- chap come into Parliament to disagree or to support ? “ Thank Heaven, this is a free country, and, therefore, honorable members of this House may speak their minds. It would be a very ill day for the country if they were prevented from speaking their minds.
As far as I am personally concerned, I should like honorable members to know that I can look back on no year of my parliamentary life in which I have enjoyed more genuine support, goodwill, tolerance and understanding from the honorable members that I have the honour to lead.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I join with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in his tribute to the officers of the House, and to all of the staff, including the attendants, telephonists, and all who make the business of Parliament possible. I also cordially endorse the right honorable gentleman’s accurate and witty remarks about the Hansard staff.
I extend the best wishes of the Opposition to the Clerk of the House, who, I am sure, came back to work before he had fully recovered from his illness. I hope he will take advantage of the parliamentary recess to regain full health and strength. His assistance is a tower of strength to all honorable members. I join with the Prime Minister in the good wishes that he extended to all honorable members. This has been a difficult year for the Government and it has been no less difficult for the Opposition. I also appreciate the Prime Minister’s implied tribute to the independence of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett). The only thing that worries honorable members of _ the Opposition occasionally is the possibility that the honorable member to whom he has referred and an honorable member on this side of the House may constitute a new dictatorship of two which it will be necessary to examine closely in the future. However, honorable members owe a good deal to the Opposition Whip and to the co-operation of the Government Whip.
I am sure that honorable members will be pleased to hear that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley), concerning whom I have had many inquiries, is slowly improving in health and strength. I deeply regret his absence at this time when we are expressing so felicitously the views that we have concerning Parliament. This Parliament of the Commonwealth, with all its difficulties and struggles between the .parties, stands for something in the life of this community, the value of which cannot be expressed in words. It is at the end of a strenuous year that I wish the Prime Minister, on his visit abroad, a safe journey, a successful mission, and a happy return. I also wish the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page), who is one of the veterans of the House, a successful recovery from the illness that has overtaken him. I extend the good wishes of the Opposition also to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) and wish everybody who has helped honorable members, in the House and outside, a happy Christmas and a successful New Year.
– in reply - It is only a few days ago since I had occasion to make reference to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley), but I had intended to make some further reference to him to-day. The right honorable gentleman’s state of health has been the subject of daily inquiry and thought. All honorable members are delighted to know that he has been making progress. As his staunch political opponent over a great number of years, I want to say that nobody more warmly than I hopes to see him in his place in full health and vigour when the House resumes.
Reference has been made to the officers of the House, but I do not think that we should adjourn without saying that we could not live without Timotheus placed on high amid the tuneful choir, to wit, the press. Those gentlemen serve a most valuable purpose. When we agree with them we think that they are marvellous. When we disagree with them we think that they are - I shall refrain from using an unparliamentary expression. I am sure that all honorable members wish me to say that we value our association with them and realize to the full the part that they play in carrying on the parliamentary government of the country. I should also like to pay a tribute to the gentlemen of the broadcasting service. Whenever I am away from the House I listen in to debates. As I am not in the House on those occasions, I cannot, of course, speak for myself, but I want to say that, for all other honorable members, the broadcasting men do a marvellously good job.
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - I desire to express my thanks to the honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann), who deputized for me during the time that I was away; also to the Chairmen of Committees, who were called upon, without any notice whatever, on all sorts of odd occasions, to relieve him in the chair. I feel deeply indebted to them for their courtesy and consideration. I should also state my debt of gratitude to the Clerks for the way in which they have assisted me during a somewhat hectic year and also to Hansard, which always does a wonderful job. I express my thanks, too, to the Library staff, the broadcasting people, the attendants, the refreshment-room staff, and to all those people who are responsible to me.
As I do not have much chance to make speeches I suppose it was only reasonable that I should have used certain opportunities in London to keep in trim. Parliamentary life has its ups and downs and one never knows where one will be next, so it is just as well to keep one’s weapons more or less in trim. I am perfectly sure that we all hope to see a full attendance of all honorable members in good health on the occasion of our next meeting. I do not think that any reference has been made to one Minister who hasbeen longest on the sick list. I refer to the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons). I am sure that we all hope that she and all other honorable members will be present when we meet again.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented : -
Australian Imperial Force Canteens Funds Act - Annual Report by the Trustees for year 1949-50.
House adjourned at 1.2 p.m., to a date and hourto be fixed by Mr. Speaker.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– I am having the matters raised in the honorable member’s question examined by my departmental advisers, in conjunction with the appropriate Treasury officials, and I shall furnish the honorable member with a reply as soon as the information is available.
on asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice - 1.. Is an aged pensioner permitted to earn £78 .per year without affecting taxation benefits?
– The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following information : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 December 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1950/19501208_reps_19_211/>.