19th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
COMMENTSBYNEWSPAPERS ON TRIENNIAL FEDERAL CONFERENCE OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOUR PARTY.
Mr.KENT HUGHES .(Chisholm) [10.31]. - I rise to a question of privilege. I desire to draw the attention of the House to certain matters that have been published in various newspapers, including the London Times of the 5th March, concerning resolutions and motions which have been published in a document purporting to be the “ minutes of the Triennial Federal Conference of the Australian Labour party, held at the Hotel Kingston, Canberra, commencing at 2.30 p.m., on Thursday, the 1st March,” and also to certain reports published in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Canberra Times of today’s date. I propose to read the relevant portions of those documents and then to hand them to the Clerk, as I understand ‘that they must be laid on the table of the House.
– Does the honorable gentleman propose to move a motion ?
– I propose to move a motion at the end of my submission on this question of privilege. The relevant paragraph which appeared in the London Times of the 5th March read as follows : -
COMPULSORY TRAINING APPROVED.
Labour Policy Changed.
The federal conferenceofthe Australian “Labour Party has decided try the narrow majority of 19 to 17 to approve compulsory military training forhome defence, “ subject to properregardfor thenationaleconomy,” and it has directed membersof theParliamentary Labour Party not to vote against the National Service Bill nowbefore the Senate. Thedecision means that theparty has abandoned its long-standing opposition toall forms of conscription in peacetime.
The report concludes -
It also declared itsoppositiontoa longer working week and directed theLabourparty in the Senate to introduce a Billproviding for areferendum onthe abolitionof the Senate.
On page 22 of the documentsupporting tobethe minutes of the Triennial Federal ‘Conference ofthe Australian Labour party, the following paragraphs appear. -
Mr. Lovegrove asked Iftheresolution beforeConference is passed, is that adirection to the FederalParliamentary Labor Party to pass ‘the Bill now’ before the Parliament? President in answer said that if the resolution is carried, it would in his personal opinion not make mandatory Labor’s Opposition to the Bill at present before the House.
That motion was carried. On page 32, under the .heading of “Union Ballots’”, Messrs. Cameron and .Boland moved -
Having regard to the fact that conference has discharged Agenda Items 96 to 99 inclusive, conference now directs the Federal Parliamentary Labour party to oppose and vote against any legislation by an anti-Labour Government to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and .Arbitration Act in respect ‘to the conduct <of .union ballots.
This motion was carried. In to-day’s issue of the Sydney Morning Herald it is reported, ‘under the heading of ‘” Caucus Storm over Bill “ -
Mr,. Keon attacked .the conference decision. He said the conference met -every three years, but bound the party hand and .foot. Since caucus was not even allowed to discuss the legislation but. had simply to obey the orders of the A.L.P. Conference, it was obvious that the .party was being “ led to ruin by a dictatorship ‘*.
On page 4 of to-day’s issue of the Canberra Times the following report appears: -
Mr. Chifley told caucus that the party was bound by the decision of the triennial conference of the Australian Labour party to oppose -the measure. Mr. Peters ‘(Victoria) moved that the measure be referred to .a select committee. Supporters of .the amendment claimed that ‘-the A.L.P. Executive should not be able ito bind the hands of : the parliamentary members in such .a manner,.
As a member of the Committee ‘of Privileges, it .is not my intention, .and lit would be entirely wrong for me, .to say whether I ‘consider these (Statements “to be .true :or not or to express other opinions or cite cases with regard to (breaches of privilege or ‘contempt -of Parliament:; but I bring the matter before the House because I feel that , the whole basis of ‘our democratic government, right from the times of the struggles of Pym, Hampden, Hazelrigg, Hollis and Strode and from the time of Cromwell’s Rump Parliament-
– And of the fascist without a shirt
– The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) does not know what he is talking about. If he is interested in protecting this Parliament from totalitarian bodies he will approve of the motion which I intend to move. Unless honorable members endeavour to .find out whether such allegations as those are true and, if they are true, endeavour to take the proper action in accordance with the practice and precedents of the parliaments of the British Empire in the past-
– The honorable member may say “ rubbish “.
– Fascist without a shirt.
-Order ! The honorable member should be thinking more of seats than of shirts.
– Mr. Speaker, I protest that remarks of that character should not be made at any time.
– The .right honorable gentleman’s protest is not in order.
– 1 rise to order. I desire to ask you, Mr. Speaker - or I desire to -ask the mover of this motion-
– Is the honorable member addressing .me ? That is the point.
– That is the point.
– The .honorable member is talking ito ! himself .
– That would be more intelligent ‘than talking to a dunderhead like you.
– Order ! The honorable member -will withdraw .that statement.
– Certainly I shall withdraw it, ‘Mr. ‘Speaker. ‘I desire ‘to know whether the honorable member, who is -basing this . ‘motion -on a newspaper article, :can vouch for -the ‘correctness of that -article, ‘and whether ‘it was proper <for you to permit him to ‘discuss -a proposed motion of -privilege, which is an important matter, on the basis of a newspaper article, for the accuracy of which he cannot, in the nature of things, vouch.
– Standing Order 99 bears on this matter, and I shall look it up.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Who said, that I did not know the Standing Orders?
– Nobody did.
– I heard somebody on my left say that I did not know the Standing Orders.
– You heard somebody ask who had stolen the Standing Orders.
– Standing Order 99 is as follows: -
Any Member complaining to the House of a statement in a newspaper as a breach of Privilege shall produce a copy of the paper containing the statement in question, and shall be prepared to give the name of the printer or publisher, and also to move a motion either declaring the person in question to have been guilty of contempt or referring the matter to the Committee of Privileges.
– You have not heard the motion, but apparently the honorable member for Chisholm is- to be permitted to take up the time of the House, although you are not certain that he will ultimately submit a motion. Assuming that he intends to do so, you do not know its nature. The very standing order that you have quoted, Mr. Speaker, requires you to rule him out of order.
– That is not so. I asked the honorable member for Chisholm whether he was prepared to submit a motion, and he said that he intended to do so. I cannot know the nature of the motion until it is submitted. So far the honorable member is in order.
– The standing order that you quoted, Mr. Speaker, provides that it is permissible in certain circumstances to allow extracts from newspapers to be read. However, the purpose of the standing order is to enable the Parliament to deal with publishers of newspapers who have committed contempt against the Parliament. The standing order does not apply to the circumstances of this case.
– I do not know the terms of the motion until I have heard them. So far the honorable member for Chisholm is in order.
– So that there may be no misapprehension in the minds of honorable members, I shall outline the motion which I intend to submit. I propose that the matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges, which shall ascertain whether the statements in the newspaper articles are true. If it is found that they are not true, then it will be for the House to decide whether the publishers of the newspapers shall be called on to answer a charge of contempt. I take it that the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) will agree that the action which I propose would be in accordance with the Standing Orders and the practices of the Parliament. The motion which .1 intend to submit is as follows : -
That any attempt by any person or authority to direct or instruct a member of Parliament as to what he shall or shall not say, or as to how he shall or shall not vote in Parliament is an attempt to induce a member to violate his oath of allegiance, is a contempt of Parliament and a breach of privilege. This House is therefore of opinion that every person elected to it is and should be absolutely free to speak and to cast his vote according to his judgment of the facts presented to him” in debate and according to his conscience, and that these matters be referred for investigation and report to the Committee of Privileges.
It is not for me, as a member of the Committee of Privileges-
– I rise to order. The honorable member has failed to supply to the House the names of the printers and publishers of the newspapers, and he has failed to produce the newspapers which contain the reports on which he has based his charges.
-The honorable member for Chisholm has produced the newspapers, but he must give the names of the publishers.
– I shall place the three newspapers that I have mentioned, and the document which purports to be the minutes of the triennial conference of the Australian Labour party, in the hands of the Clerk of the House. The names of the printers and publishers and any other essential information are printed on the newspapers.
– I rise to order again. According to my reading of the standing order, Mr. Speaker, the honorable member must inform the House of the names of the printers and publishers of the news-, papers to which he has referred.
– The honorable member has handed the newspapers to the Clerk at the table, and that should be sufficient because the names of the printers and publishers are contained in the newspapers.
– I raise another point of order. The honorable member for Chisholm also produced a document, which purports to be the minutes of a conference of the Australian Labour party, and he quoted from it. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether the name of the printer and publisher is recorded on that document ?
– Did the honorable member for Chisholm hand in that document?
– It is not a newspaper.
– That is not the question.
– I rule that, so long as the document is in the hands of the Clerk, that is all that is necessary because, by its very nature, it cannot be a newspaper.
– I raise a further point of order. You have ruled, Mr. Speaker, that so long as the document is in the hands of the Clerk it is in the hands of the House. I ask you whether the publication purporting to be the minutes of a conference of the Australian Labour party, which has been produced by the honorable member for Chisholm, bears the name of the publisher. I ask that question seriously.
– I do not know whether it bears the name of the publisher, and I rule that that is a matter for the Committee of Privileges to discover.
– As I was about to say previously, it would be wrong for me to assert the truth or otherwise of the reports. However, I point out to the honorable member for Dalley that, if they are not true, the printers and publishers of the newspapers are liable .to be dealt with in such a manner as may be determined by this House. The Committee of Privileges should determine whether or not they are true and report its opinion to this House. The House should make every endeavour to ascertain whether they are true or false because, if such practices are being carried out, not in small ways as they have been carried out in the past, but on a scale that leads to reports being flaunted in the public press throughout Australia and in other parts of the world, the dignity, traditions, practices, and precedents of this House are being dragged ‘into the gutter to be swept out to sea by a flood of totalitarianism. If honorable members merely vote according to tickets as they are directed to do by persons outside the Parliament, and if they are in no way responsible to their electors, I consider that one general election, whether it be in favour of the right or the left, could enable one political group to gain complete control of the nation.
– I rise to order. Is the honorable member for Chisholm in order in making a ranting speech with political motives ?
-The honorable member’s remarks are in order.
– I have made my remarks in order to give force to a vital feature of the motion that I shall now submit. If honorable members have any interest at ail in democratic parliamentary government, they should be very concerned to ensure that the rights and privileges of this House shall be upheld. Therefore I move -
That any attempt bv any .person or authority to direct or instruct a member of Parliament as to what he shall or shall not say, or as to how he shall or shall not vote in Parliament is an attempt to induce a. member to violate his oath of allegiance, is n contempt of Parliament and a- breach of privilege. This House is therefore of opinion that every person elected to it is and should be absolutely free to speak and to cast his vote according to his judgment of the facts presented to him in debate and according to his conscience, and that these mutters be referred for investigation and report to the Committee of Privileges.
-Is the motion seconded ?
.- I second the motion. It is of the essence of democracy that every member of the Parliament should be absolutely free to- act and vote in respect of all things according, to the dictates, of” his conscience. The highest court of the British Empire has held that any attempt by an outside body to impose obligations upon a member of Parliament is illegal and improper. If the statements that have been reported in the’ press: and that, are contained in the alleged minutes of the conference of the Australian Labour party, to which the honorable, member for Chisholm (Mr. Kent Hughes) has referred, are true-
– A bunch of hypocrites.
– Order ! The honorable member will withdraw that remark.
– I do so.
– I warn the honorable member that I shall take action to deal with him if he repeats his offence.
– If the press reports and the minutes of the conference of the Australian Labour party to which the honorable member for Chisholm has referred, are true, those resolutions are totally illegal and ‘improper, and any honorable member who acts upon them will commit an offence against the law of the land and the privileges of this Parliament.
This matter has been brought forward because it is obvious that, if conduct such as that which has been reported in the press were to be permitted to continue, democracy in this Parliament would become nothing but a sham ; and, in certain circumstances, not the elected representatives of the people but an outside body of persons not responsible to or elected by the people would make the laws of the country. The members of this honorable House would simply be rubber stamps to record decisions made by such an outside body. It is the duty of this House to uphold constitutional democracy and the privileges of honorable members, and the Parliament should take the sternest action against any body of persons that attempts to influence, control or dictate the opinions of honorable members and the manner in which they shall record their vote. It is not difficult to imagine just what could happen if the Parliament failed to take appropriate action to prevent abuses of the nature that have been disclosed, by the honorable member for Chisholm. It is quite obvious that if a small group of Communists^ or of other persons,, by passing, resolutions and by imposing on& sanction or another upon, certain members- of this House to. com,De, them to vote in a certain way,, could virtually gUn control of the government of this country and overthrow democracy im this Parliament.. Therefore^, I trust, that the motion will be; carried and that the. Committee of Privileges will leave n& stone unturned to ensure that the ‘ Constitution shall be upheld,- that democracy shall be protected and that the privileges of honorable members shall be protected.
.-I submit that the’ House should reject thismotion out of hand, and for certain reasons which I shall mention. In form, this motion purports to deal with” the problem generally, but in fact the honorable member for Chisholm (Mr. Kent Hughes) dealt with it by reference solely to the proceedings of the Australian Labour party. As far as I know, neither such a proposal, nor anything like it, has ever previously been submitted to this House. In modern1 democracies all political parties, including the Liberal party, the Austraiian Country party, and the political parties that have preceded one or other of them, have governing bodies. That is nowhere more evident than in the United Kingdom, to which country the honorable member for Chisholm has referred. I assume for the moment,, without taking any technical points, that the document which the . honorable member for Chisholm produced, is a true copy of a report of the proceedings of the Labour conference. Whence he obtained it, I do not know.
– He probably stole it.
– It covers decisions of the Labour conference in relation to certain matters. I invite members of the Liberal party and of the Australian Country party to examine their own proceedings and systems of government. It is true that the Labour conference is the supreme governing body of the Labour movement. Every member of the Australian Labour party takes a pledge to abide by the Labour platform. The supreme body that interprets .that platform is the Labour conference. That fact is well known. This sort .of objection dates back to pre-f Federation days, when .the .Labour party wafirst .formed in New South Wales. That was 60 .years ago. In the past this matter has been treated not as a matter of privilege in this House, hut as a matter of public criticism and disputation in elections. It was said 60 years ago that the Labour party was governed by an outside ‘body and the same old cliche is repeated to-day by the honorable member for Chisholm. The Labour .conference is an inside body which represents the Labour movement, to which every representative in this House pledges his allegiance. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) is bound by the rules and decisions of his party.
– That is not so.
– Do not be a liar !
– Order ! Did I hear the honorable member for Wills (Mr.. Bryson) say that some one was a liar?
– I said, “Do not be a liar ! “
– That is just as bad. The honorable gentleman must withdraw the expression.
– I withdraw it.
– I warn the honorable member that if .he again interjects in that “way, he will not see the sitting out.
– What are the facts* The Labour movement is governed in the way I have described. Parliamentary representatives of the Australian Labour party, having given the undertaking contained in the pledge, are usually prepared to abide by it. If, in any instance, they cannot reconcile the decisions of the Labour conference with their personal views, they are perfectly free to leave the party or to refuse to obey its dictates. That is all there is to it. The platform of the Australian Country party contains, I think, a plank which prohibits it from forming a coalition with other political parties in the Parliament, except in certain circumstances. Is that prohibition binding? Theoretically, every member of the Parliament acts individually and would be free to form such a coalition. Therefore it would be possible to point to a personal conflict .between the provisions of such a constitution and the absolute freedom of individuals. In modern times everybody knows that. This .matter is only something that has been dredged up by the honorable member for Chisholm out of some past learning or discussions that he has had on the subject. I say that there is no sincerity in this motion. It is simply a rather shabby piece of propaganda put forward on a Friday morning when we have almost disposed of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill (No. 2) and there is not much business before the House, and “ everything goes “. If this were seriously put forward as a matter of privilege in this year of grace 1951, 60 years after the formation of the Labour movement and the adoption of its constitution, there would be no objection to its being considered by a committee of privileges. But I submit that the whole thing is frivolous. Everybody knows the facts to be that the Labour party conference is the supreme governing body of the Labour party. There is no concealment of that fact. It has been a matter of comment and debate ever since the ‘nineties, when the Labour movement was started in this country. Indeed, in substance the same thing applies to all political parties. Perhaps in other instances the control is not so open and democratic. I cannot tell. Very often the control is open, and we have had records in connexion with decisions given by the conferences of other parties. I refer to the Australian Country party as one illustration. I do not criticize its constitution. How else could parliamentary business be democratically controlled in a democracy? Does anybody suppose that the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) has a free hand here on everything?
– Yes, I have exercised a free hand.
– If the honorable member for Mallee or the honorable member for Chisholm has a free hand, then every member of their respective parties has an individual right, and, therefore, for combinations of members at party meetings to accept a decision of the majority of these members as binding would he equally contrary to the privilege of the individual member. The honorable member for Mallee accepts the decisions of his party. He would be ashamed not to do so,, because he has come here as a representative of its policy.
– I have twice voted against my party.
– The honorable member has twice voted against his party! But every member of the Australian Country party knows that what I say is true, and no one knows it better than the honorable member for Mallee. In substance, the position is the same in relation to the Liberal party and its predecessor, the United Australia party.
– That is not correct.
– It is of no use to say that it is not correct, because party meetings of the Liberal party make decisions about what is to be done in the House. Theoretically, every individual member of the party could vote according to his wishes and not according to the wishes of the party meeting. For these reasons I submit that there is an element of unreality about this motion. It is like something from Alice in Wonderland. The terrible fact has been discovered in 1951 that the Labour party is governed democratically. What is this Labour party conference, this outside body? It is a body that is representative of all the six States. It is1 democratically elected by members of Labour leagues and trade unions, who send their delegates to declare, define and apply the Labour party’s platform. The substance of what the honorable member for Chisholm has said about the proceedings of the Conference is true, whether it is formally proved or not. But I challenge him on the broader ground. I say that it is true, in substance of every political party. The honorable member for Chisholm has been in State politics and knows that.
– It is not true. There is no caucus in the Liberal party.
– Does the honorable member for Chisholm say that when decisions have been made by a party meeting that he has attended, he does not regard such majority decisions as binding on him? Does he, or does he not?
– He nodded his head. I heard the rattle.
– Then the honorable member does not so regard them.
– Liberal party members are elected to. the Parliament by the people and not by outside parties.
– Every member of this House is elected by the people. I ask the honorable member for Chisholm, who has brought this motion forward, whether, if the majority of members at a meeting of the parliamentary Liberal party decided in favour of a certain course of action, he regards himself as bound by the decision.
– Not bound.
– So far as I am aware, the honorable .member has never voted in this House against a decision from which he dissented at a party meeting. The parties are an essential ingredient in the democratic system. We are working under a party system, and the supreme governing body of the Australian Labour party is the triennial conference. Members of the Labour party accept the decisions of that conference, which is not an. outside organization, but a body charged with the task of interpreting, explaining, and declaring Labour policy. There is nothing wrong with that. It is certainly not contrary to any legal rule or principle. The honorable member for Chisholm has merely repeated something that was said by the late Sir George Reid in 1893, when he was fighting the Labour party in New South Wales. It would not be in the interests of any party to refer a matter of this kind to a committee of privileges.
– This motion is a useful means of directing attention to the fact that the Labour party in this Parliament and in every State Parliament, represents not the people of this country as a whole, but only certain sectional interests. The constitution of the Australian Labour party clearly shows that no Labour man can enter a parliament except with the consent of powerful sectional interests and, having become a member of a parliament, he cannot remain in parliament except with the approval of those interests. The Australian Labour party is composed not . only of people who become members of it, but also of people who gain rights in that party through their membership of certain industrial organizations. These are powerful influences. I shall not traverse this matter at length. Unfortunately, some honorable members opposite are yapping at me from across the table.
– Order ! The Minister must not use such terms.
– I withdraw the expression. They are saying across the table that my statements are not true, but members of the Australian Labour party know quite well that affiliated unions have their rights at pre-selection ballots. They know, too, that the former Prime Minister, now the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley), is a member of this chamber only because he received party endorsement principally on the votes of coal-miners who act under the direction of their Communist leader, Williams. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) are here principally because they were supported at pre-selection ballots by waterfront and maritime organizations, including the Waterside Workers Federation, which is affiliated with the Labour party.
Mr. Curtin interjecting,
– Order ! Another word from the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) and he will be sent out of the chamber for the rest of the day.
– The Waterside Workers Federation is able to determine who shall be elected to this chamber. No man can be elected to this Parliament for a waterfront constituency unless he obtains sufficient votes from the waterside workers.
– I rise to order. The Minister has said that certain members of this chamber gained pre-selection because of the votes of Communists. I point out that, in New South Wales, every member-
– Order ! No honorable member is entitled to raise on a point of order the method of election of members of this’ chamber. I ask the Minister to confine his remarks to the terms of the motion now before the chair.
– I support the motion. I contend that this matter is one that should be submitted to a committee of privileges. It should not be impossible for any Australian citizen to be elected to Parliament unless he has the support of a union such as the Waterside Workers Federation, dominated by the Communist, Healy; or the Seamen’s Union of Australasia, dominated by the Communist, Elliott; or the Amalgamated Engineering Union, dominated by its Communist leaders; or the Australian Railways Union, dominated in Victoria by the Communist, Brown. That is the back-bone of the Labour movement, and it is time that it is understood.
– I rise to order.
– Opposition members do not like it, I know.
– The Minister has said that the Australian Railways Union and the Seamen’s Union support Opposition members in pre-selection ballots. That statement is distinctly not true.
– Order ! That is not a point of order. I ask the honorable member to resume his seat.
– The statement by the Minister is not true.
-It does not matter whether the statement is true or not. The honorable member has not raised a point of order.
– It is perfectly true that the constitution of the Australian Labour party establishes undeniable rights for the membership of unions which are affiliated with it, and I have been enumerating unions which are affiliated with the Labour party, and are under the domination of Communists.
– The Australian Railway Union in Victoria is not affiliated.
– Very well, then! Are the Waterside Workers Federation, the Seamen’s Union of Australasia and the Federated Ironworkers Association affiliated with the Labour, party?
– One branch of the Federated Ironworkers Association is not affiliated*, you know.
– Order ! Will the Minister address the Chair?
– The Federated Ironworkers Association in South Australia is not affiliated with the Labour party, either.
– Does the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) think that the Minister will spoil his case for the sake of being accurate?
Mr. Pollard interjecting,
– Order! When- Mr. Speaker is on his feet, every honorable member, including the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), shall remain silent. The House is getting completely out of order, and we are reaching such a state that if order is not maintained, I shall have to suspend the sitting.
– I have produced on previous occasions in the House the constitution of. the Australian Labour party, which establishes my case that unions affiliated with that party have rights in pre-selections. We see the Labour party perform in this Parliament along the lines directed by the Thorntons. Where is Thornton now? He is in Communist China. We see the Labour party perform along the lines instructed by Healy. Where was Healy a month ago? He was in Moscow. We see the Labour party perform along the lines instructed by Elliott. When the former Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) wanted to appoint some one to the Maritime Industry Commission, he chose the Communist leader of the Seamen’s Union, Elliott. When the right honorable gentleman desired to appoint some one to the Stevedoring Industry Commission, whom did he appoint? He appointed Healy, the Communist leader’ of the Waterside Workers Federation. Why were those appointments made if the Labour party is not under the domination of those Communist-controlled unions, and subject to instructions by them?
– I rise to order. The statement by the Minister that the Labour1 party, of. which I am. a member, is subject to the instruction of Com munist-controlled unions is offensive to me.
-Order! That is not a point .of order. Sit down!
– Mr. Speaker, the statement to which I have referred is offensive to me-
– Order! The honorable gentleman is grossly out of order, and under Standing Order 303 I order him to leave the chamber.
The honorable member for Wills thereupon withdrew from the chamber.
– I rise to order. Will you, Mr. Speaker, please explain to me, in my ignorance, Standing Order 303? Is it not intended to apply only in cases of gross discourtesy?
– Gross disorder.
– Will you interpret to me-
– Order! The honorable gentleman is raising matters which have no relation tq the Standing Orders.
– Mr. Speaker, the honorable member for Wills rose to his feet, and took a point of order, definitely. Do not shake your head before I finish my remarks. The honorable member for Wills was on his feet, and before he had completed his statement of his point of order, you directed him to resume his seat. I suggest that that was unfair. When he rose on the first occasion, the honorable member for Wills made the point that the honorable gentleman who was speaking at the time was out of order for a certain reason, but when he rose a few minutes ago hetook the point that the words, used by the Minister were personally offensive to him. You did not allow him, to state his point of order properly.
Honorable members, interjecting;
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) will, resume his seat. He has used language that is completely unparliamentary.
– You are in charge, sir !’
– I am.
– The honorable member for Lalor has met my convenience by giving me time to refer to the constitution of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour party. When I -referred to the constitution of the Labour party, members of the Opposition denied, by way of interjection, that what I was saying was true. I shall now read from a booklet entitled Constitution of the Australian Labour Party, State of Victoria.
One passage reads as follows: -
Membership. - Membership shall consist of
– Read on. The honorable gentleman said that we had no right in selecting-
– Order ! The Minister has the floor, and if honorable members persist in interjecting there will be nothing for it but tosuspend the sitting;
– I rise to order. I point out to you that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen), who has the floor, is constantly asking, “Is that right?” or “Is this a fact?”, which is most provocative. The Minister is inviting interjections, but when we reply to him you call us to order.
– Order ! The Minister will address the Chair and not the Opposition.
– I was, putting to the Chair-
– The Minister was not addressing the Chair, he was asking questions of the Opposition.
– I was reading from the constitution of the political party to which members of the Opposition belong. The rules of that party provide that membership shall consist of: (a) affiliated unions, and (b) persons enrolled as members.
– Read on!
– Those are the two classes of membership of the movement.
Mr. Ward interjecting,
– Order ! Although the Minister is now addressing me, members of the Opposition are still interjecting.
– I have pointed out quite clearly that the Labour party in this Parliament is completely dominated by the unions, some of which are 100 per cent. Australian and anti-Communist, such as the AustralianWorkers Union and other unions that I could name, but amongst the unions affiliated with the Labour party there are a number that are undeniably under the control of Communists. If follows, therefore, that the policy and actions of the Labour party in the Parliament are, to a substantial extent, subject to the direction of Communists who leave this country and go to Moscow for instructions, as Healy and Thornton did. It is. thoroughly improper that theNational Parliament should include amongst its members individuals who have no freedom of their own, but who are subject to direction by their party, as I have explained.
Consider the attitude of the Labour party on such an important issue as the preparation of the defence of this country. The decision about whether there should be compulsory military service in this country is, of course, a. legitimate political issue. It ought to be resolved by the elected representatives of the people in. the Parliament. We all know that the attitude of members of the Australian Labour party towards such matters is not freely determined by them. They can cast a vote in the Parliament only after a triennial conference of their party has been convened and has reached decisions. Such conferences, as I have pointed out, are composed of people who are affiliated with members of the Communist party. I repeat that members of the Labour party in this Parliament can vote on an important issue only after they have received their instructions from’ such a conference of their party. On Monday they are told that they must vote against universal training, but on Tuesday they are told that they may vote for it. In other words, their attitude has nothing to do with their own sense of responsibility, but is regulated only by the instructions that they receive from the kind of organization that I have described. I say that the honorable member for Chisholm has done this Parliament and the nation a service by the proposal that he has brought forward. I say that the widespread industrial indiscipline in this country and the unwillingness to accept a. verdict of established courts, springs from the fact that the parliamentary representatives of Labour in this Parliament are not free men. The fact is that they are puppets, delegates and instructed people in this Parliament. They are instructed to come here and urge that the awards of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court should not be observed, and they give such advice to the workers of .the country. Out of the mouth of the Leader of the Opposition, who is a former Prime Minister of this country, and out of the mouths of the other leaders of the Labour party come instructions obviously inspired by these Communist-influenced and Communistcontrolled unions. Honorable members opposite come here and make speeches which incite indiscipline in industry throughout Australia. Industrial discipline, with increased production and all the beneficial consequences which will flow from it, can only be established in this country when there is in Australia a free government which is not subservient to such unions, or when the Labour party has freed itself from the dominance of the Communist influence within its ranks.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. I was unable to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, before you called the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen). I wish to state that I have been misrepresented by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. 1 Evatt),’ and I desire to make an explanation. I take grave exception to the right honorable member for Barton referring to me especially, when he was trying to bolster up his case by saying that the Australian Country party was subject to dictation in the same way as is the Labour party.
– Order ! Upon what matter was the honorable member misrepresented ?
– The misrepresentation occurred when the right honorable member for Barton inferred that I especially was unable to record my vote in this House according to my conscience. On a broad view I follow the policy of the Aus- ‘ tralian Country party, but in matters that concern my conscience I vote according to my conscience. I remind you, Mr. Speaker, that on the occasion when the adoption of the Bretton Woods Agreement was involved in the passage of the International Monetary Agreements Bill, you voted the same way as I did.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! The honorable member Ls giving an instance to add point to his explanation. He cannot give a number of instances, but I shall listen to one.
– The majority of my party voted in favour of adopting the agreement, but I voted against it. The history of my action in that case shows clearly that the accusation of the right honorable member for Barton is absolutely unfounded and untrue. It was made in this erroneous way only in an attempt to bolster up the case that he is trying to put on behalf of the Labour party.
– I made no selection of the honorable member. The honorable member interjected while I was speaking, and I asked whether he was not bound by the decisions of the party to which he belongs. If he is not bound by the decisions of his party, then I completely withdraw what I said.
.- We have been entertained this morning to a pleasant Friday morning because there is nothing else to do.
– The senators have gone home.
– I did not mention the Senate, but I agree that honorable senators have gone home, and it would therefore be useless to proceed with the only item of business on the notice-paper. Consequently, the Government has decided to hold a propaganda morning in the guise of an issue raised by an honorable member who is ostensibly concerned about the dignity and freedom of members of the Parliament. It should be known to the Parliament and the public that the honorable member for Chisholm (Mr. Kent Hughes) who is so concerned about the freedom of parliamentary government and democracy, was the author of a series of articles which appeared in a Melbourne newspaper and which stated that he was a fascist without a shirt. I say that he is not concerned with the dignity of Parliament, nor is he concerned with .the freedom of honorable members in this House, because he has no freedom himself. If he has had any freedom during the last fifteen months I have not noticed him using it during divisions of this House. He has always slavishly followed the party lead.
Apparently he has now decided that he must make good in the eyes of the public in order that he might catch the Prime Minister’s eye and receive Cabinet preferment. So to-day he puts himself forward as the champion of democratic government and our parliamentary institutions, although at heart he is a fascist, and indeed he has told the public so in the section of the press that he quoted this morning as the authority of his motion. The time of the Parliament is being taken up by a fruitless endeavour by the honorable member for Chisholm to show that he has some vestige of democracy in him, when, in fact, he has disclosed to the world why he is a fascist. But he does not wear the black shirt, because people would know him for what he is. I am saying these things so that the public will know the facts, and so that, if it cares to do so, the press may republish some of the articles of this champion of democracy who is concerned about members of Parliament getting instructions from outside!’ The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen), who has just spoken in the debate, is ostensibly against the outside control of members of Parliament. Can he deny that if he did not accept the decision of his brand of Country party in Victoria, he could not join this Cabinet? He is silent, because he knows that that is a fact.
– I was talking about a party organization.
– This is most amusing. The honorable member who talks so fluently about outside domination could not sit where he is now without the consent of his brand of Country party in Victoria.
– That is not true.
– He says that it is not true, but-
– Order! The honorable member must not use unparliamentary language.
– This is quite a delightful Friday morning. A motion has been moved by an honorable member who is a self-proclaimed fascist, and supported by an honorable member who professes that he is concerned about outside domination of the Labour party, but who sits in the Cabinet to-day by the permission of his bosses outside the Parliament. Let us examine some of these statements. The honorable member for Chisholm quoted from the press. Does he expect the press to say anything useful, or anything good ‘about the Labour party? Does he expect the press tomorrow morning to report, under bold headlines, that there has been a conversion of the fascist without a shirt, or that one who, only a few years ago, proclaimed his allegiance to fascism, is to-day a champion of democracy and parliamentary government ? This is one of the most absurd motions that has ever been moved in this House. The honorable member quoted from another document-
– What is the motion?
– It is the brainwave of a political troglodyte.
– I hope that that term will be included in a glossary at the back of the next issue of Hansard. The honorable gentleman turned from the notoriously unreliable press, as it was once described by a Minister of this Government, to what purports to be a document that was either stolen or forged.
– We have heard that expression before.
– That is so, but there is nothing wrong in saying things twice to the people who are notoriously (3.611s6.
-Order ! The honorable member for Dalley must address the Chair.
– I was led astray by the totally disorderly conduct of the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden), who said something to which I thought I ought to make a rejoinder. Although I am a member of the Labour party, I do not know whether this document was stolen or whether it is a false document. If it is a false document, the honorable gentleman degraded the Parliament by quoting from it. If it is a stolen document, he is as bad as is the thief who gave it to him.
What is the fate of the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Charles Russell) ? He is an entirely free agent in this House, but, because he caustically criticized the attitude of his party to certain aspects of policy, he is no longer welcome in the. party. These democrats talk about outside control of the Labour party. The honorable member for Maranoa, who has more intestinal fortitude than have many of his colleagues, dared to tell them the truth as he saw it. Where is he to-day?
– Where is he?
– That intellectual interjection was made by the intellectual doctor from Canberra. After the next general election, I shall ask where he is. Let us be frank and truthful about this matter. With the exception of the oneman show from Canberra, there is not a member of this Parliament, whatever party he belongs to, who is not pledged to a party platform, who was not selected as a candidate for the Parliament by his party, who is not hero only because he was selected by his party machine and assisted financially and otherwise by that machine in his election campaign, and who is not bound to meet the demand. of the party machine for its pound of flesh. That is the position, irrespective of whether honorable gentlemen opposite admit it or not.
– The honorable member knows nothing at all about it. He is quite incorrect.
– The honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) served under one of the greatest dictators and dominators in the history of the New South Wales Parliament, who was ultimately thrown out of office by indignant members of his own party. In those days, the honorable member for New England thought nothing of his personal or political freedom. He was a slavish follower of the gentleman who gave him Cabinet rank. Until the finish, he remained a loyal supporter of a totally discredited Premier. That is the honorable gentleman who speaks about his freedom. Where does his freedom begin and end? Let him step over the party line and advocate revaluation of the fi, and we shall see. what sympathy he will receive from Ministers who are supporters of the bankers. I consider that this is one of the greatest humbugging mornings that we have had in this House. I notice that the Government Whip is now about to move the gag.
– The Treasurer ‘ (Mr. Fadden) told him to do so.
– Of course I did. What has that to do with the honorable member for East Sydney?
– The Treasurer wishes to stifle free speech.
– Order ! The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) has a right to be heard.
– I did not have to leave a sitting of a royal commission to revise my evidence. A royal commission told the Treasurer that he was a liar.
-Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney must maintain silence.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) described the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) as a liar. I ask that that statement be withdrawn and that the honorable member for East Sydney be directed to apologize to the House.
-If the’ honorable member for East Sydney used that term, he must withdraw it.
– I did not.
-The honorable member did not use the term “ liar “ ?
– I used the term, but not in the way mentioned by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond).
– In what way was the term used?
– I said that a royal commission had, in effect, declared the Treasurer to be a liar.
– It was not the royal commission from which the honorable member for East Sydney ran away.
– I did not run away from any royal commission.
-The term is completely unparliamentary and must be withdrawn.
– It is also completely untrue.
– It is not. Read Mr. Justice Halse Rogers’s report, and see whether or not it is true. However, I withdraw the expression.
Motion (by Mr. Gullett) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Ma. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 30
In division :
The honorable member for Wills’
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. Speaker having stated the question,
Question put -
That any attempt by any person or authority to direct or instruct a member of Parliament as to what he shall or shall not say, or as to how he shall or shall not vote in Parliament is an attempt to induce a member to violate his oath of allegiance, is a contempt of Parliament and a breach of privilege. This House is therefore of opinion that every person elected to it is and should be absolutely free to speak and to cast his vote according to judgment of the facts presented to him in debate and according to his conscience, and that these matters be referred for investigation and report to the Committee of Privileges.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority … 31
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 15th March (vide page 646).
.- I had hoped that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) might be in the chamber at this time. In his absence. I address this question to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) : Can the Minister tell the committee whether the details of the bill have been considered by the Minister for Labour and National Service in consultation with the Australian Council of Trades Unions, which he has consulted on many industrial matters? Is it not a fact that the Australian Council of Trades Unions has expressed strong objection to all the. provisions of this bill? As I spoke on the second reading of the bill, I do not consider that I should detain the committee further, but I am very anxious to know whether there has been consultation concerning the details of the bill between the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Australian Council of Trades Unions.
.- Surely honorable members will receive some reply from the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) to the query raised by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) ! Merely because the time of the House has been wasted on the discussion of frivolous motions, and honorable members are anxious to catch planes for their homes and electorates, there is no reason why this bill should not be treated seriously. When members of the Opposition ask questions, they wish them to be answered. Of course, we know that the Government is aiming at a oneparty parliament; but we have not reached that stage yet, and the voice of Labour will not be stifled. We want to know whether the negotiations referred to by the right honorable member for Barton have taken place, who asked for this legislation, and, if it was asked for at all, whether the request was made by a responsible body. In short, we want to know whether this bill represents merely indulgence in electioneering propaganda; whether it is an effort to delude the Australian people into the belief that the Government genuinely believes what it has been saying for the last fifteen months, namely, that all the troubles of this country, industrial and other, can be attributed to the activities of certain groups in the community, or whether they are due to its own inefficiency.
This is an outrageous measure. All members of the Labour party, including those who hold responsible positions in the movement, believe that there should be properly conducted ballots for the election of trade union officials, and to decide such issues as arise from time to time. We are entitled to claim, however, that such matters are the concern of the unions themselves, and of no one else. I have heard members of the Government try to justify this legislation on the ground that it will help them to put an end to strikes, and to get rid of certain trade union officials of whom they strongly disapprove. Does the Government believe in majority rule for trade unions? If it does, then it must be prepared to accept the decision of the coal-miners in regard to the recent dispute. Although it is true that certain officials of the miners’ federation are members of the Communist party, their actions in the recent dispute were endorsed by a majority of the miners at a properly conducted ballot. Is it suggested that there was anything wrong with the voting at the pithead meetings which endorsed the action of the executive? The same may be said of the Waterside Workers Federation. Some of the officials of that organization are Communists, but their decision regarding the award delivered by Judge Kirby was endorsed by a majority of the members of the organization at a properly conducted meeting. Therefore, can it be argued that this legislation is designed to correct abuses, or is its purpose to cripple the trade unions? In my second-reading speech, I said that it cost one industrial organization in New South Wales £1,700 a year to conduct branch elections; yet the Government wants to give minorities in unions the right to force the taking of a vote, not after it has been established that there have been malpractices, not after an investigation has been made by an authorized officer, but merely at the whim of a few malcontents. The bill provides that a ballot may be ordered at the request of a “ prescribed number “ of members; and that could be anything from two members upwards, no matter how many members there were in the union. Australian trade unions could be crippled financially by being compelled to hold a secret ballot every time a few malcontents demanded that it should do so. Then, when the unions were weakened by such means, the Government would make a direct attack upon them. The Government has already missed with one shot at the unions, but it has brought up another shot from the locker. It failed with its Communist Party Dissolution Act, a title which, by the way, was a misnomer, because it was really an act to smash the trade unions.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member is making a second-reading speech in committee
– It was agreed that the bill should be taken as a whole, so the honorable member may speak on the whole bill.
– The honorable member for East Sydney may proceed.
– When the High Court thwarted the efforts of the Government to destroy the trade unions .through the Communist Party Dissolution Act, the Government introduced this legislation. Once the trade union movement had been destroyed or weakened, so that it could no longer protect the people, the Government intended to make a direct attack on living standards. Economists who aire not associated with the Labour party are saying that the Australian people, because of commitments in regard’ to immigration and defence, will have to accept a 10 per cent, reduction of living standards. Plans for national development or for defence must always, in the opinion of this Government, be (financed at the expense of the workers. There is no suggestion that heavier imposts should be placed upon those in comfortable positions who are well able to pay. Business profits are at a record level, and the workers cannot understand why, in the circumstances, they should be subjected to constant demands to produce more for no more pay.
– The honorable member must connect his remarks with the bill.
– I have said what I proposed to say on that topic. I rose to object strongly to the action of the Government in disregarding the (request for information by the right honorable member for Barton, and to protest against the suggestion that Labour has no right to be heard. The Minister for External Affairs, who is in charge of the bill in committee, favours totalitarian government, and has said as much, but I remind him that we have not yet reached the stage where the people will tolerate totalitarianism. The Government introduced this bill on the pretext that it wished to defend democratic institutions. That is the very line that Hitler followed in Germany. He talked about national socialism.
– Order !
– I am now concluding. I ask the Minister for External Affairs to answer, if he can, the questions put by the right honorable member for Barton.
– It is amusing to note the confusion in the minds of members of the Opposition over this bill. Some have said that the measure is too weak, and will be ineffective. Others have condemned it as abominable on the ground that it is too severe. Their attitude illustrates the split that has taken place in the ranks of members of the Opposition. The right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), who is leaving the chamber, said that this was a bill against the trade unions. Actually, it is a bill for the trade unions. It is a bill against the small minority factions which, in some instances, though not all, have assumed control of trade unions. It is a bill against the Communist old man of the sea who rides on the back of the unions and cannot be shaken off. This incubus cannot be dislodged because, when a Communist faction gains control of a trade union, it rigs the ballots so that it can never be displaced. The Communists ride on the backs of the unwilling trade unions, and they are helped by such individuals as the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), and the right honorable member for Barton. Those members line up against the people who wish to give the unions power to get rid of the Communists, whom the rank and file of those unions do not want. I remind honorable members that the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) published under his own name last August the following statement on this subject: -
Again and again attempts by an outraged rank and file to sweep out their Communist party officials are frustrated by red control of the ballot-box.
He also pointed out that, although the measure enacted by the Chifley Government for the purpose of curing that state of affairs had been well meant, it had not gone far enough. He declared that the rank and file members of the trade unions were demanding the right to have properly controlled and fair secret ballots, free of Communist interference, so that they might rid themselves of their old man of the sea. The bitter truth, which was well illustrated by the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths), is that, when the Communists have gained control of the electoral machinery, it is very difficult to oust them.
Clause 6 provides for the establishment of effective counter machinery because it will enable a group of members in a union, representing a majority-
– That is not stated in the bill.
– But such minorities will represent a majority of the membership in almost every instance. They will be empowered to demand that properly conducted secret ballots shall be held. The honorable member for Shortland described with a great deal of frankness and truth the methods that are adopted by Communists so as to rig postal ballots. He told us that they had printed at some Communistcontrolled printery an excess number of ballot-papers, which they filled in and posted to the returning officer, relying on the fact, that many of the genuine ballot-papers issued to members would not be returned. [Quorum formed.] It is obvious that members of the Opposition, who have run out on this bill, do not want to be present in the chamber while it is being discussed.. They do not know what to do about, it. They have been instructed by their party machine to oppose it, and they are doing so, though many of them would like to vote for it, but lack the courage to do so.. One of the reasons for this lack of courage is that their preselections are in many instances determined by the Communist unions, to which they have to truckle in order to retain their seats in this Parliament.
– I rise to order, MrChairman. The statement by the honorable member for Wentworth that members of the Labour party are dependent upon the support of the Communist party in winning pre-selection is most offensive to me.
– I am obliged to the honorable member for Melbourne
– Order ! If the honorable member made such a statement, he must withdraw it.
– I am obliged to the honorable member for Melbourne because, if you will permit me to do so, Mr. Chairman, I should like to have an opportunity to prove that my statement is correct.
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw the remark because it is offensive. Will he withdraw it?
– If the truth is offensive, I withdraw it.
– Mr. Chairman, the honorable member has said that he withdraws the remark if the truth is offensive. I regard that as a double insult, and I ask for an unqualified withdrawal of the remark. It is not true.
– The honorable member for Mackellar must withdraw the remark without any qualification.
– Very well, sir, if the truth’ must be withdrawn-
– Order ! The honorable member will withdraw without any qualification.
– Very good, sir.
– The honorable member must withdraw the remark or I shall name him.
– I have withdrawn my statement, sir.
– I rise to order. I asked for a withdrawal. The honorable member has said, “ I have withdrawn “.
– He said, “ I withdraw”.
– No. He said, “ I have withdrawn “.
– Order ! The honorable member for Mackellar will continue.
Motion (by Mr. Ward) negatived -
That the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) be not further heard.
Motion (by Mr. Holt) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Aderm ann.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the bill be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill agreed to.
Question put -
That the bill be reported without amendment.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 31
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Holt) put -
That the report be adopted.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority. . . 32
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Spender) put -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the remaining stages being passed without delay.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 29
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Spender) put -
That the bill be now, read a third time.
The House divided. (mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 28
Question so. resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
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.
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 sitting.
The Parliament - Immigration - Housing - Land Settlement of ex-Servicemen - Hides - Royal Canadian Air Force - Snowy Mountains Scheme.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
In view of recent parliamentary happenings I have tendered certain advice in. relation to the Parliament to His Excellency, the Governor-General. I am not in a position to inform the House of His Excellency’s reply.
.- Although this may be the last day on which the House will be sitting for some time, Ministers will be called upon to carry out certain administrative duties pending their defeat, and I take this opportunity to urge the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt) to give consideration to the need to’ review the Government’s immigration plans. . There are people in Australia to-day who, although they originally approved whole-heartedly of the immigration scheme, are now beginning to have some doubts about whether it is working out in the way that they expected. I am not raising an objection to the whole body of immigrants, many of whom are quite acceptable persons, and, no doubt, will make satisfactory Australian citizens. My objections are based on other grounds. In my opinion, the immigration scheme is ill balanced. Too many people are being brought to this country in too short a time, thereby overstraining our economy. The increased demands for food and accommodation for the immigrants are placing- a pressure on our economy that is accentuating the inflationary tendencies.
I also wonder whether -some of the people who ar& being brought here can ever become useful citizens. From time to time, the press publishes criticism by various persons in official positions throughout Australia. I refer particularly to statements by high police officials, who direct attention to the’ danger of a crime wave- that confronts the Australian community Because of the- Government’s failure, in its administration of this scheme, properly to screen immigrants for the purpose of ensuring that undesirables shall not be included in those whom we permit ‘to settle here. Police authorities state that because of the inadequacy of the records kept by the Government, and the fact that many of the immigrants have a poor knowledge of the English language, they have great difficulty in carrying out investigations and interrogating those people, and consequently, in apprehending persons who may have committed violent crimes here. When police authorities direct attention to that danger, the Government should not completely disregard their opinions or their advice. The assurance given by the Minister for Immigration that the method of screening prospective immigrants is adequate, is proved to be useless when it is found that undesirables continue to enter the country.
I also direct attention to the fact that the Director-General of Public Health in New South Wales has stated that 77 New Australians are receiving treatment in mental institutions. I have nothing but the greatest sympathy foi those unfortunate persons ; but it must be admitted that if the immigration scheme had been properly policed, and if a psychologist had been a member of the panel that screens prospective immigrants, it would have been impossible for many of those persons to obtain permission t> settle in Australia. They would have remained in their own countries, where they would have been cared for by their own people. As patients in mental institutions in Australia, they are a continuing charge on this community, which it should not be required to bear. I repeat that I have the greatest sympathy for those unfortunate patients, but I believe that they should be cared for by their Own people in their own country.
The treatment of immigrants on their arrival in Australia is open to severe criticism. I do not blame those unfortunate newcomers who wished to escape from intolerable conditions overseas, and to settle here-. I am opposed to the policy under which the Government brings them here before our economy is ready to absorb them. A few years ago, the immigration experts, after having given careful consideration to every aspect of the matter, decided that 70,000 persons a year was the maximum number that we could expect to absorb into our economy. Yet the Australian Government is now speaking of bringing immigrants here at the rate of 250,000 or 300,000 a year. It astonishes me that a Government can be so callous, and have such a disregard for the welfare of people. The Government appears to deal with immigrants on the basis of the old army method of referring to them as so many bodies. It considers that so long as it can get the number of people it requires to take up the lag which, it says, exists in the supply of labour, that is all it has to worry about. The Government does not worry about whether the immigrants are properly housed and fed, and whether there are sufficient schools and hospitals to meet their needs, but merely brings large numbers of persons to this country, and leaves them to make their own way, being content so long as certain -branches of industry have an adequate supply of labour.
The immigration policy is also caus-ing difficulties for Australian citizens. The best “ immigrant “ that the Australian community can have is the Australian-born child. The housing shortage is accentuated by the influx of immigrants, and thousands of young Australian married couples are unable to have as many children as they wish to have because they refuse to rear families in the intolerable housing conditions that exist to-day. Because of the continuance of the immigration policy many persons, including ex-servicemen who fought to defend this country, are denied the opportunity to live as ordinary civilized human beings.
The emergency housing . centres are most unsatisfactory. Last night, the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Casey) declared that Australia had no slum conditions that could be regarded as a breeding ground for communism. I can only suggest that the right honorable gentleman, if he believes that state- . ment to be correct, has inspected only the housing conditions at Palm Beach. Obviously he has not been to Herne Bay, Hargreave Park, Bradfield Park, and other emergency housing settlements, where people live under terrible conditions. That situation is a disgrace. Whilst the Government claims that such housing settlements are only for use in an emergency, they will continue to be used for many years if anti-Labour governments are in office, because those governments will not be able to provide accommodation for all the people who require it. The Minister also spoke of imported prefabricated houses. I shall be interested to learn how many of those structures have been obtained. ] venture to express the opinion that, despite the predictions of the Minister, the number would not run into” four figures. So far as I know, none of those imported prefabricated structures has yet been made available to accommodate families.
Although the life of this Government is drawing to a close, it is not too late for the Minister and his colleagues to act on the suggestions that I have made about the immigration plan. Perhaps an “ immigration holiday “ could be declared so that the country might have an opportunity to examine the present position and the requirements of the people who are already here; and when that had been done, we could determine when the scheme should be resumed, and the number of people who should be brought here. Anyhow, I suppose that it is almost useless to talk to a dying government, and that I should be directing my remarks to my colleagues, who will form the new government after the next general election.
I have raised these matters in the faint hope that, in the four weeks or months that may elapse before the new Labour Government takes office, some action will be taken by the present Government to alleviate the great distress that has been caused in this country, and the great damage that has been done to our economy, by the unrestricted immigration scheme.
.- A few days ago, the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) addressed a question to the Minister who is acting for the
Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) about the acquisition of land for the settlement of ex-servicemen in New South Wales. Quite a number of people are complaining that their land is being taken from them at unjust prices. That is contrary to section 51 of the Constitution, which provides for the acquisition of property on just terms. Those persons are of the opinion that the Commonwealth, as a party to the scheme for the land settlement of ex-servicemen, should ensure that justice shall be done to the land-owners concerned. I hope that the Minister will make a clear statement to the House on that matter, so that the responsibility of the Commonwealth and of the States may be known to the public. I also ask him to state whether the conditions that operate in New South Wales in connexion with the land settlement scheme also obtain in other States.
– I must admit that the complaint of the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Treloar) is well founded. Indeed, I consider that the New South Wales Government has acted outrageously in the acquisition of land for the settlement of ex-servicemen. Section 51 of the Commonwealth Constitution provides that land may be acquired from any citizen only upon just terms. That is to say, if the Australian Government acquires land it must pay fair and just compensation for it.
– Is there not a court of appeal to which dispossessed landowners may appeal?
– Unfortunately, recent judicial decisions of the New South Wales Supreme Court make it clear that a land-owner in New South Wales whose land is compulsorily acquired by the New South Wales Government cannot claim the benefit of section 51 of the Constitution. Important litigation took place before Mr. Justice Roper, the Chief Judge in Equity, some time ago, and subsequently an appeal against His Honour’s judgment was heard and determined by the Pull Court of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. The Full Court upheld Mr. Justice Roper’s finding, that because the
New South Wales Government is a sovereign government, it is empowered to acquire land on any terms that it thinks fit. The effect of the determination is that a person in that State whose property is acquired by the Government of that State has no right of appeal against the amount of compensation paid to him for his land.
The New South Wales Government has compulsorily acquired a number of land holdings for the settlement of exservicemen. Some of the holdings acquired have been quite small, whilst others have been large properties. However, the size of the property acquired does not affect the principle that a person whose land is compulsorily acquired from him should be entitled to fair and just compensation. If the New South Wales Government believes it to be necessary to acquire certain holdings for the settlement of ex-servicemen we make no complaint about that action. However, it is obvious that the cost involved in settling ex-servicemen on suitable land should be borne, not by the owners of the land that is resumed but by the government that resumes *t. The New South Wales Government has acquired land in some instances, at 1941 values, which, of course, have very little relation to present values.
– In the same way as the department that the Minister administers acquires land for post offices.
– That is not so. Persons whose land is acquired by the Commonwealth for postal purposes receive fair and just treatment, and, in any event, they have a right of appeal to the High Court. However, that is not the case in New South Wales, where land that is now worth £10 or £12 an acre is being acquired for only £4 or £5 an acre. The Government of New South Wales is now adopting 1942 valuations as the basis for its acquisitions, and in some instances it is adding 15 per cent, to those values. This is a very serious matter for the owners of land whose property is acquired for the settlement of ex-servicemen, and many of them are being unjustly deprived of many thousands of pounds. New South Wales is the only State that is treating land-owners, so unfairly. The governments of “Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania are administering their land settlement schemes as agents for the Commonwealth, which is providing finance, and fair and just compensation is paid to land-owners. In any event, land-owners who are dissatisfied with the compensation awarded to them have a right of appeal to the courts. The Victorian Government acquires land at current market values, and, . since the removal of land controls early last year, the Queensland Government has also paid current market values in respect of all land acquired in that State. Although the Commonwealth is providing a substantial portion of the finance for the New South “Wales land settlement scheme, that does not affect the legal sovereignty of the Government of New South Wales, and, as I have already pointed out, land owners who are dissatisfied with the terms on which their property has been compulsorily acquired have no right of appeal. The Australian Government is prepared to shoulder its fair share of the cost of land settlement in New South Wales, as it does in all other States, and believes that the cost of land settlement should be borne, not by the unfortunate land-owners, who are compulsorily deprived of their properties, but by the whole community. I take this opportunity to dissociate the Australian Government completely from the actions of the New South Wales Government in this matter of land acquisition. We have done, and are doing, everything that we can to protect the interests of all persons who are deprived of their property for the land settlement of ex-servicemen. Those persons are entitled to fair and just compensation. The same principle applies, of course, not only to land-owners, but also to’ all other persons in the community whose property is compulsorily acquired in the interests of the nation. They are entitled to justice and fair play. The action taken by the socialist Government of New South Wales in this matter of land settlement shows just how far a socialist government will go when it has unlimited power.
Mr. Rosevear having been gwen the pall,.
– Order ! I point out to the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden), who is now in charge of the House, that a number of honorable members apparently desire to speak during this debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House. I remind the right honorable gentleman that the staff of this chamber were on duty until an early hour this morning, and they have been on duty continuously since 10.30 a.m. I therefore suggest to the right honorable gentleman that the House might now suspend its sitting foi? lunch. I think that we might do so out of consideration for members of the staff, who must remain on duty continuously, whereas honorable members may absent themselves from the chamber in order to obtain refreshment.
Sitting suspended from 1.11 to 2.15 p.m.
– I desire to ventilate once- more a matter which I regard as of extreme importance. I refer to the situation that has been created by certain merchants who have withheld from the market goods that do not belong to them, and which they will probably ultimately sell on commission on behalf of the owners. The goode to which I refer are cattle hides, which are of extreme importance for defence stockpiling. Such hides normally would go to the tanning industry, not only for the manufacture of civilian footwear and other leather equipment, but also for the manufacture of footwear for our defence forces. As- I know from my war-time experience as controller of leather and footwear, leather is extremely important for the equipment of our defence forces. There has been much, talk in this Parliament about stockpiling. Leather is one of the most important items to stockpile, and yet the Government tolerates a hold-up pending, a court decision. Honorable members discuss from day to day certain workers who withhold from the labour market- the only thing that they have to sell - their labour. Here is- an example of people who are not the actual owners of. the goods that they are. withholding from the market. Yet they are keeping back these hides, and are thus holding the public and the Government to ransom and prejudicing the employment of thousands of workers simply because they believe that if a certain court judgment is favorable to them they will be able to extract from the public, before any control is exercised over them, substantial increases in the price of hides. I am amazed that it has required three questions from me to identify a Minister who might know something about this matter, but so far as I can discover there is little that this Minister does know about it. He said that the Australian Government has no power by which holders of hides oan be compelled to submit the hides in question to the Australian Hide and -Leather Industries Board, and that the State powers in that connexion are under challenge. I suggest that the Government has a power of acquisition in view of the extreme importance of this commodity for defence equipment. I suggest that there is a power of acquisition that should be exercised until the market becomes normal, and the powers and functions of the board have been legally established. In reply to one of my questions the Minister said -
By reason of an application to the High Court there is little that the Government oau do about the matter. However, it is probable that numbers of these hides are being bought directly by tanners from the stores instead of through the board.
The Government plainly admits, in that answer, that there is the possibility of a blackmarket in these hides, which will continue pending the decision of the court. No other interpretation can be placed on the answer.
– What quantity of hides is being withheld:?
– That is a matter purely for speculation. According to the information that I have had from the footwear industry and the admission of the Minister himself in reply to my question, there ‘are interests in this country which are- withholding these hides that are essential for civilian arid defence needs. But the Minister also said -
However, it is probable that numbers of these hides are being bought directly by tanners from the stores instead of through the board.
If that is the case, then a black market exists of which the Government has knowledge, because the Minister says he has knowledge of it. The Minister continued, in answer to my question -
In any case the condition of the hides willcompel the holders to dispose of them within a reasonable time.
– Are not the hides salted?
– Yes, salted and preserved. The whole leather manufacturing industry could be held up and the public and the Government held to ransom.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- At the risk of being unpopular in the dying days of the Nineteenth Parliament,- I shall bring one matter to the notice of the Minister for Air (Mr. White). As chairman of the Commonwealth Jubilee Sporting Sub-Committee, I have received considerable correspondence from very interested parties both in Australia and in
Canada, in which it is suggested that the Canadian ice hockey team should be invited to visit Australia. Although ice hockey is not played to a great degree in this country, it is the national sport of the sister dominion, and the Canadian Royal Air Force team set the world standard in 1948. Of course, a visit by such a team would be of more than ordinary significance. Honorable members who have received copies of a Canadian booklet will realize that Canada is a wonderful country. Advantage should be taken of any opportunity to exchange sporting teams between Australia and Canada. I understand that a naval ship from Canada will be visiting Australia soon. There is a particular significance about the Royal Canadian Air Force so far as Australia is concerned, because thousands of our young men went to Canada during the war to complete their training under the Empire air training scheme. During their stay they received the utmost hospitality and co-operation from the Royal Canadian Air Force, and I am sure that many Australians would now welcome an opportunity to strengthen the links of friendship that were forged during the war. Of course, an important factor is the expense that would be involved. Perhaps we could extend an invitation to the Canadian Air League to fly the latest type of aircraft to Canberra, in connexion with the jubilee celebrations, and to embody an air lift of the ice hockey team. I am sure that such a gesture would be well received by the people of this country, and would act as a stimulus to our recruiting campaign.
– The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Opperman), who is chairman of the Commonwealth Jubilee Sporting SubCommittee, has had considerable experience in sporting activities. In that field he has been most successful and I feel confident that he will be equally successful in the jubilee general election, and will be returned to the Parliament with a large majority. I was in Canada last year and I know that the ice hockey team of the Royal Canadian Air Force is very keen to visit Australia. Thousands of our young men were trained in Canada during the war under the Empire air training scheme. The Royal Canadian Air Force ice hockey team is a world champion team, and I believe that it would be very popular in the sporting events to be held in Australia this year. Of course, means would have to he considered to get the team to Australia. Earlier to-day I spoke to the High Commissioner for Canada about this matter, and suggested to him that the Canadian Pacific Airlines may be able to bring the team to Australia. The players could be quartered by the Royal Australian Air Force during their stay here. Alternatively, it may be possible to arrange for the Royal Canadian Air Force to conduct exercises in Australia this year. I heartily endorse the proposal, and I hope that the honorable member’s suggestion can be implemented.
.- I endorse the remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) concerning the difficulties in relation to the projected scheme to bring 100,000 German immigrants into this country. As he stated, the protest is not against Germans as Germans, but against the inadequate screening of the people who come here. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt) has decided to make this an administrative act rather than to throw the matter open for discussion in the Parliament to see whether things are as he says they are. There is a strong body of opinion outside of this Parliament, in the nation itself, concerning this matter. It would be foolish to suggest that there are not people who have the utmost approval for the scheme, but others ara equally concerned about the difficulties. The Minister has been rather arrogant upon the matter and has insisted that what is proposed can be done by administrative act. But surely this is something that we should be able to consider and discuss. It is rather late now to discuss anything in this Parliament, since the jubilee dissolution fete is about to be held, but one must go on record in order to apprise the people of Australia of the facts. It has been indicated to the Minister plainly, by protest meetings, representations and petitions, that considerable anxiety is entertained about the proposal by people who do not generally concern themselves much with the nationality of people who come into this country, provided they are not fascists or enemies of democracy. Those people have asked the Minister to assure them that our screening is adequate. Has he any evidence to the contrary that the folkedeutsch are Hitlerites? The Minister should consider the history of these people who are on the fringe of the fatherland before he decides to deal with this matter administratively. There are serious reasons why the matter should be more deeply investigated. To ordinary people, particularly war widows, these things exercise fi deep and abiding concern.
I shall now draw the attention of the House to the third ingredient which I believe to be the most important in the whole matter. As it has been already canvassed, I shall .not overstress it. It was reported to President Truman by General Eisenhower that there were in Germany 500,000 irreconcilable hitlerized youths, the remnants of the Hitler youth movement, with whom nothing can be done owing to the circumstances of the occupation. These youths could not he de-nazified. They were the recalcitrant larrikins of the occupation. They are now badly trained adults, with a bad outlook on life and they are thinking in terms of revenge. What is to happen to those 500,000 people? Are some of them to be included in the number of Germans that it is proposed to bring to this country?
That brings me back to the problem of screening. Let us find out how many people we have to do the screening work. I do not propose at this moment to give the House the particulars that I have upon that matter, but I can assure honorable gentlemen that, according to my information the number is totally inadequate and the officials concerned are lacking in knowledge of idiomatic German, and of the circumstances in which Nazis could infiltrate into the camps that are now being prepared for German immigrants. There is a great body of evidence that the volhdeutsche are determinedly waiting for Der Tag. Surely we shall not be so foolish as to let these people into this country to constitute a fifth column. The irreconcilable group to which I have referred appears to be the pool from which we shall draw these so-called splendid settlers.
It would be too dangerous to allow a large number of Germans to be brought to this country as a result only of an administrative act by any Minister for Immigration. In view of the fact that the present Minister for Immigration is following the grand plan of immigration that was bequeathed to him by his predecessor, he has no need to bo inflexible on this matter. Let him bring it before the House for discussion. If everything is fair and if proper safeguards are provided, we may be satisfied; but if safeguards are not provided, the proposal may be disastrous to the development of this country and even more disastrous to the development of our immigration policy, which some people are beginning to mistrust. In that case it must be resisted to the finish.
A certain amount of unfairness has been displayed in connexion with this matter. When the great citizenship convention was held in Canberra recently, a certain group decided that German immigration was a touchy subject.. There Was an angry debate upon it. The chairman, who was Mr. Boyer of i ‘ie Australian Broadcasting Commission, prayed, first, that a vote should not be taken; and secondly, that the debate should not be reported in the press. Both these things were done. Why should anything be hidden about this matter? Let the Minister bring it before the House and let us discuss its possible effects upon the future of o.ur immigration scheme and the safety of the nation.
[2.3SJ. - In the last few days it has become alarmingly apparent that the Government may order a slowing down or a suspension of work upon the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric and irrigation project, which., as the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Charles Anderson) will doubtless agree, is of great national importance. It is paradoxical that a project of tremendous value to defence should now be threatened in the name of the defence programme. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey) has told me that the fate of the Snowy Mountains scheme now depends upon the result of a complete, new and drastic re-examination of the whole programme of public works, which is to be undertaken by a committee upon which the Commonwealth will have one representative and the States six representatives. It is notorious that” in the last few months some State instrumentalities have shown jealousy of the Snowy Mountains scheme and have expressed a desire for the suspension of work upon it. That makes anybody who knows what the fate of the scheme may be in the hands of a committee of that kind very apprehensive.
I take advantage of this opportunity to register the strongest protest against any possible reconsideration of this great work. The security of Australia depends upon a rapid increase of our population, which will necessitate .rapid expansions of industrial production and food production. These ends cannot be achieved unless more power and water is made available. No other scheme in Australia is comparable with the Snowy Mountains scheme from the viewpoint of the production, under the most favorable conditions, of an economic and extensive ‘supply of water and power.
– Does the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser) realize that the Snowy Mountains scheme will provide, not base load stations, but peak load stations?
– I could not hear what the honorable member for Chisholm (Mr. Kent Hughes) said.
– Does the honorable member for Eden-Monaro know the difference between the two?
– As I did not hear the interjection, I can not reply to it. I do not believe that the honorable mem ber for Chisholm would say anything derogatory to the scheme. It is an unfortunate fact that, although the value to Australia of the waters of the Snowy Mountains has been recognized since the 1880’s and an agitation for them to be utilized was in progress for many years, it was not until the regime of the Chifley Government that any action was taken to utilize them. If work upon the Snowy Mountains scheme had b.een commenced -30 or 40 years ago, we should not now be faced with the present tremendous deficiency of electric power. If Australia now fails to develop to the full the water and power resources of the Snowy Mountains area and suspends works upon the scheme, the result will be a financial loss to the country, in view of the commitments that we have undertaken, of approximately £9,000,000 a year. Moreover, an additional consumption of at least 4,000,000 tons of steam coal a year will be required. Furthermore, every day that is lost in making use of the potential power of the waters of the Snowy Mountains area represents a wastage of human effort, financial loss to the community, and unnecessary reductions of our insufficient coal resources.
It has been estimated that the combined power demand of Victoria and New South Wales will be doubled by 1961. There are only two ways in which we shall be able to meet that increased demand. If we have to provide for a doubling of the demand for power by those two States within the next decade, we must either engage in a rapid and very extensive programme for the construction of thermal power stations, which will ultimately involve the consumption of tremendously large additional quantities of coal, or we must develop the water power resources of this country in places where they are available for economic development, in conjunction, of course, with a realistic programme for the construction of thermal stations.
From time to time emphasis has been laid upon the long-range benefits that will accrue to the Australian people from the completion of the Snowy Mountains project. It has been .stated that in fifteen or twenty years Australia will obtain great benefits from the project. It is not sufficiently realized that we shall not only benefit from it tremendously at the end of that time, but also that, progressively through the whole of that period, substantial blocks of power will become available for use. The planned capacity of the Snowy Mountains power stations exceeds the combined capacities of all the steam and hydro-electric generating stations that are in operation in Australia to-day. The scheme provides for an output of power one hundred times greater than the present capacity of the Kiewa hydroelectric scheme, and ten times greater than the ultimate capacity of that scheme.
– “What is the capacity of the Kiewa stations?
– The planned capacity of the Snowy Mountains power stations is 50 times greater than the present capacity of Hume, 130 times greater than the capacity of Burrinjuck - which, for the information of the honorable member for Chisholm, is 20,000 kilowatts - and nearly four times greater than the present total capacity of all steam and hydroelectric generating plants in New South Wales. Two million acre-feet of irrigation waters a year will be made available to New South Wales and Victoria by that scheme. That quantity is more than four times the quantity now being diverted for use in the whole of the Mumimbidgee irrigation area. It is also five times the total quantity of water in Sydney Harbour. The scheme is financially sound on the score of electricity production alone, without any account being taker, of the gain to the nation of additional irrigation water. In considering the merits of the scheme solely from the defence aspect, it should be recognized that most of the main generating stations in New South Wales are within gun-range of the coast, and :i re conspicuous and vulnerable targets for hostile aircraft. On the other hand, the proposed sixteen power stations of the Snowy Mountains scheme will be scattered over a, remote area, with, in most cases, hundreds of feet of granite cover as protection against enemy bombing.
A completely unfounded complaint, has been made that the Snowy Mountains I.2.J] project will absorb an undue proportion of the resources of the country, and that it will not produce electrical power for two or three decades. The fact is that the scheme lends itself to the production of substantial blocks of power in progressive steps. The Snowy Mountains HydroElectric Authority is confident that the scheme can produce 80,000 horse-power in less than four years, with an additional 80,000 horse-power or even more two years later, and with considerably larger blocks of power following progressively as the. scheme advances. Notwithstanding irresponsible statements to the contrary, the authority is not unduly depriving other Australian organizations of technical staff. That complaint is being constantly made by officers of State organizations. The true position is that the officers of those organizations are not displaying initiative comparable with that of the engineers and other officers of the Snowy Mountains scheme.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I support the sympathetic view of my colleague, the Minister for Air (Mr. White), in relation to the matter raised by the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Opperman). The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) raised a matter concerning hides. I do not think I can add very much to the reply given to the honorable member by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture .(Mr. McEwen), because that reply demonstrated beyond all argument” that the matter is entirely and absolutely one for the Government of New South Wales. Litigation is at present before the High Court which relates to a statute of the New South Wales Parliament, in which it has been submitted that the actions of certain, merchants ware in accord with their legal rights. That statement should dispose of the nonsensical reference to a black market. Whatever was done was in accordance with State legislation.
– It. is marvellous how racketeers are always protected.
– They also protected the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) on a. certain occasion.
– Will the Australian Government compulsorily acquire any of these hides?
– No. The right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) is apparently referring to the stockpiling of hides for defence purposes.
– That is so.
– Much misunderstanding exists concerning that matter. The Government has stockpiled two kinds of commodities for defence purposes. The. first category includes those which come from abroad and which would be denied to Australia in time of war or which, by reason of strategic considerations, are likely to be denied to us. We have adopted a wise and forward outlook and have decided that, we should obtain strategic sources of rubber from countries, such as Malaya, which might be overrun in the event of war. As we do not produce rubber in this country, we buy it in advance and store it, not to use for current purposes but to tide us over the first few months of a war and to permit us to. make other arrangements. The other category of commodities that are stockpiled are those which are in short supply throughout the world. This Government wishes to ensure that such com-, modities will not be denied to us in the event of war. They include copper and aluminium, which come from the United States of America or Canada.
– I call attention to the state of the House.
The bells were rung, and a quorum was nol obtained.
The following papers were presented : -
Australian National University Act - Report of the Interim Council for period 1st August, 1940, to 31st December, 1949.
Canned Fruits Export Charges Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 14.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, Ko. 12.
Public Service Arbitration Act - Determination - 1951 - No. 17 - Musicians’ Union ot Australia.
Mr. Speaker adjourned the House at 2.54 p.m. to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker.
The following answers to questions ware circulated: -
t asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
Will he look into the ration and accommodation scale supplied by the Department of Immigration to new Australians with a view t:i bringing the corresponding scales in the defence services up to these standards?
– A comparison of Army ration and accommodation scales and those of the Department of Immigration for new Australians gives no indication that the latter enjoy better conditions. Detailed comparison is difficult, e.g., where huts arc subdivided for new Australians they are converted into two-man cubicles. Similar huts in the Army are converted into four-man cubicles of proportionately bigger size. The Army scales of furniture arc somewhat more elaborate. Hostels for new Australians are provided by the Department of Labour and National Service. These me superior to immigrant camps, but their standards are certainly no better than those of the Army. Rationing for the Army is wholly in kind, i.e., a. scale cf basic commodities is provided and alternatives are indicated. The calorific value is approximately 4,200 calories. New Australians are rationed on a combination of a commuted ration allowance, i.c-., a fixed ‘daily per capita amount of money, and a scale of alternatives. A comparison of the two systems shows that the Army rationing is more suitable for Army purposes in that the soldier gets a fixed quantity of foodstuffs regardless of fluctuations in prices.
s. - On two occasions this session the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) has asked questions concerning a hold-up in the supply of hides to the tanning industry.
It is a fact that, pending a hearing of a High Court action which challenges the validity of the New South “Wales Hide and Leather Industries Act 1948 and certain .activities of the Australian Hide and. Leather Industries Board in pursuance of that act, certain hide merchants’ and brokers’ stores are not presenting their hides for appraisement and disposal in normal weekly quantities. The Commonwealth Government has no powers by which holders can .be compelled to submit the hides in question to the board and the State powers in that connexion are under challenge. The position is the subject of urgent consultation between Commonwealth and State authorities, but it appears that, by reason of an application to the High Court, there is little that governments can do about the matter. However, it is probable that numbers of these hides are being bought directly by, tanners from the stores instead of through’ the board and that in any case the condition of the hides will compel the holders to dispose of them within a reasonable time.
t.- On the 8th March, 1951, the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) addressed the following question to me : -
I ask the Minister for Immigration whether it is a fact that numbers of displaced persons aru inmates of mental hospitals in Australia’; If so, how many displaced persons are so situated? Will the Minister intensify the screening of prospective immigrants, particularly those who come from war-torn countries?
Iii my reply I indicated that I would furnish the honorable member with any information additional to that contained in statements I had already made. I now furnish the following information: -
A recent statement by the New South Wales Director of Mental Hygiene was to the effect that 77 new Australians are inmates of mental hospitals in New South Wales. Figures are not readily available for other States, but on the basis of those available for New South Wales it can safely be said that there is no undue incidence of psychosis amongst migrants. Over the past four years, 150,000 migrants lui ve settled in that State and the instance of mental disease in the migrant population is, therefore, in ‘ the vicinity of five in every 10,000 settlers. The Statistician’s yearly figures since 1045 have shown approximately four persons per 1,000 head of population as on the books of New South Wales Mental Institutions and the incidence in the nativeborn population is, therefore, far in excess of that found in the migrant population. The medical selection criteria to which the Australian selection officers, including Australian doctors, work are unquestionably high and provide for the rejection of’ any one with a history of mental disease or who shows, any signs of mental instability during selection interview. It can be taken, therefore, that in all cases where a former displaced person is now an inmate of a mental hospital, the mental disorder, although undoubtedly in the majority of instances a direct result of wartime “or immediately post-war experiences, did not become apparent until after the migrant’s arrival in Australia. The suggestion that medical selection should be intensified by the appointment to the selection board of u qualified psychiatrist, or by the introduction of special psychiatric tests before selection, has been carefully examined, but it is considered, if properly implemented, to be almost out of the question’ and quite impracticable in the light of the benefits which might be derived. Tests of this nature, to be properly effective. I understand, would need to be imposed over a lengthy period by doctors specializing in several different mental conditions. Apart from the time factor alone precluding such tests, the additional presence nl the selection board of a psychiatrist would bc of little avail unless some evidence of the mental disease was apparent at the time of interview, in which event rejection would immediately be recommended in accordance with existing practice. I can assure the honorable member that the likelihood of psychotic conditions being present amongst prospective immigrants, particularly those from the war-torn countries, is borne constantly in mind by our skilled selection teams and every possible safeguard is taken to ensure that only those who are mentally and medically fit arc accepted for settlement in Australia. The statistics furnished above confirm that the incidence of psychosis amongst migrants admitted to this country is remarkably low.
l asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The Minister for Social Services has informed me as follows: -
z asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
La n tan a.
z asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock would be the authority best fitted to answer this question. :i. The control of lantana would not necessarily be ensured by specialized investigations. The weed can be killed by means of hormonelike weed killers. The lantana bug is of promise in the moister coastal areas of northern Queensland and it appears to be spreading slowly south. Deliberate distribution of the. lantana bug in south Queensland would not necessarily improve matters because the insect has to become acclimatized before it is of -value. It is becoming slowly acclimatized as it moves south of its own accord. Further work on the entomological control of lantana will depend on the receipt of information recently sought overseas. by authority
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 March 1951, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1951/19510316_reps_19_212/>.