20th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hoa. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Immigration a question concerning the recent application by Professor Marcus Oliphant, head of one of the great faculties of the Australian National University, to visit the United States of America for the purpose of attending a scientific conference. I understand that a vise was either refused or withheld until it was too late for Professor Oliphant to attend the conference, although ample notice of his intention to visit the United States of America was given. I ask the Minister, first, whether the’ facts of the case came to his knowledge or to the knowledge of the Department of Immigration? Secondly, what does the Minister consider to be the duty of the. department for the protection of Australian citizens who wish to visit other countries for lawful reasons against the slur involved in apparent refusal or deliberate delaying of the issue of a vise? Thirdly, if the Minister is not aware of the circumstances himself, will he ascertain whether any official of the Australian Government took any part whatever in the refusal to issue a vise to Professor Oliphant, an action which has tended to injure Australia in the eyes of the world. I ask him whether officials, not only of his own department, but of any other department, such as the Department of External Affairs, were consulted on the withholding of this vise?
– The right honorable member has asked, first, what knowledge I, personally, or my department have of this matter. Our only information has been that which has been contained in reports in the press. No application or request, so far as I am aware, has reached my department. It certainly has not reached me, nor, to the best of my knowledge, has it reached the Minister for External Affairs. The honorable member has asked what action can be taken to protect Australian citizens in these circumstances. This is a matter for determination entirely by the United States Government which alone decides whether it will issue a vise to persons who seek to visit the United States of America. Prom time to time in the past, when episodes of thissort have occurred, the citizen affected has made representations to my department, or to the Minister for External Affairs, or even to the Prime Minister, and have asked for intervention. In suchcases it has been the practice from time to time to make such representations when the government of the day considered it proper to do so. I am certain that if Professor Oliphant had made any such request to us it would have been given speedy and full consideration. The right honorable member asked further whether I could give an assurance that no action was taken by the Government or any department of the Commonwealth which would have brought about the refusal of a vise to Professor Oliphant. On such knowledge as I have I do not know of any action which was taken in my department or in any other department which would have had this effect. To the best of my knowledge the Government departments were not consulted, and took no step in the matter. However, I shall further investigate that aspect.
– I ask the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to inform the House whether there is anything that this Government can do to offset the stupidity and criminal folly of the Queensland Government in its endeavour to smash the dairying industry in that State and replace butter with margarine on the tables of the people by refusing to allow the reasonable price, asked by the dairying industry, to be charged for butter.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member in order in framing his question in such a way as to refer to the criminal folly of a State government of this country?
– I didnot hear those words. If they were uttered they were entirely out of order. No reflections may be cast upon a State government. The honorable member must withdraw any such words.
– I withdraw.
– There is very little that the Australian Government can do to force the Queensland Government to observe justice in respect of the dairying industry. The Joint Dairy Industry Advisory Committee recommended an increase of 9d. per lb. to be paid to. the dairyfarmer to offset his increased costs of production. ‘ Every State in Australia, except the two Labourgoverned States of New SouthWales and Queensland, agreed to that increase being paid to the farmer through an increase in the retail price. The Governments of New South Wales and Queensland have deliberately refrained from allowing the dairyfarmer to recoup his costs of production, and by the abuse of their pricefixing powers are preventing the farmer from getting a just price.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! All interjections must cease. Honorable members have a right to ask questions and the House has a right to hear the answers. Both questions and answers must be heard without comment.
– My question relative to the butter industry has particular application to the State of New South Wales, the Government of which is doing its utmost to destroy the dairying industry by its refusal to recognize the requirements of the dairyfarmer and the consumer. I make special reference to an advertisement which is published in a Sydney newspaper this morning. The Government of New South Wales is wasting public money on advertisements: of that kind-
– Order! Will the honorable member frame his question?
– I shall do so. Will the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform me whether the Commonwealth has any plan for placing that industry on a secure basis for a long term? If it has such a plan, will the
Minister state the basic principles of it, and explain what is preventing their immediate implementation?
– The Commonwealth has a plan to give the industry security for a period of at least six years ahead. The plan provides for the Commonwealth to undertake to fix such a price to the farmer at the factory door, as is determined by the Joint Dairy Industry Advisory Committee. If the States care to use their powers to fix the price of the commodity from the factory door to the retailer, that is their proper function. The Government submitted this plan to the six State Governments and asked for their approval. The governments of Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania signified their agreement and, in each of those States, the price of butter has now been increased so as to return to the farmer a fair price based on the found cost of production. New South Wales and Queensland are standing out from the plan. The governments of those States are using their price-fixing powers in order to prevent the farmers from receiving the proved cost of production.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister who is acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether it is a fact that there is no disagreement between any of the State governments concerning the requirements of the dairy-farmers. Is it also a fact that all of those governments agree that the cost of production, as determined, ought to be paid to the farmers? Do they differ only about the methods by which the payment should be made ? Is it further a fact that, if the price charged to the consumer were increased to the amount that has been determined as the cost of production, the basic wage would rise by about 2s. a week? If those are facts, will the Government cause an inquiry to be made in order to ascertain, first, the price that would have to be charged to the consumer in order to return by that means a fair price to the farmer, and, secondly, the probable effect upon the basic wage of the payment of the desired increase to the farmer by means of subsidy. Will the Government disclose the result of the in quiry to the House so as to show whether an increase of the return to the farmer by means of an increase of subsidy would prevent such a substantial basic wage rise as would occur, with consequent further inflationary effects, as the result of increasing the price to the consumer?
– There was originally a disagreement among the States concerning the method that should be used to provide dairy-farmers with a fair return based upon the found cost of production. At the outset, some of the State governments requested that this Government should find an amount equivalent to did. per lb. Finally, as I have said previously, Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania agreed to find the full -amount of the proposed increase. In the early stages, the Government of New South Wales refused to find even Id. per lb. It completely disowned the farmer and declared that it would not grant any price increase. The Queensland Government said that it would go so far as to grant an increase of 6d. per lb. but that this Government should find the remainder of the amount that would be needed. The fact is that, since this Government has been in office, it has increased the subsidy payment on butter from 6d. per lb. to ls. lid. per lb. This has increased the annual total of the subsidy from £6,000,000 to £16,800,000. Therefore, the Government says that it has gone far enough and that the burden of any further increase should be borne by the consumers.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture been directed to a recent news session broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, in which it was stated that Mr. Gair, the Acting Premier of Quensland, had claimed that, despite the shortage of butter in this country, the Commonwealth had permitted the export of large quantities of butter, and that the excess over normal exports was approximately 13,000 tons? Has the attention of the Minister also been directed to a statement by the Premier oi New South Wales to the effect that the Commonwealth, which controls exports, has permitted to be exported from Australia 20,000 tons more butter than should have been exported if our population increase had been taken into account ? Will the Minister say what truth there is in those statements? Will he inform the House how much butter was exported from Australia during 1950-51 and 1949-50, during the last two months and during the corresponding period of last year?
– My attention has been directed to both of the statements to which the honorable gentleman has referred. According to the Australian Broadcasting Commission news broadcast, the Acting Premier of Queensland, Mr. Gair, said that this year the Commonwealth had permitted the export of 13,000 tons of butter more than was permitted to be exported last year. The Premier of New South Wales, Mr. McGirr, stated in the New South Wales Parliament the day before yesterday that 20,000 tons of butter had been exported. I took the trouble to ascertain the correct figures relating to butter exports. They are 82,900 tons in 1948; 81,400 tons in 1949-50; and 53,000 tons in 1950-51. During July, 1950, 1,092 tons of butter was exported, compared with 260 tons during July of this year. In August, 1950, 1,583 tons was exported, compared with 40 tons in August of this year. The statements made by the Premier of New South Wales and the Acting Premier of Queensland were completely incorrect. If they did not know that the figures that they cited were incorrect, they should, before they made public statements, have made sure that what they intended to say was accurate.
– I ask the Minister for External Territories what particular qualifications were possessed by Mr. D. M. Cleland to warrant his appointment as assistant administrator- -
– Order ! The honorable member is asking a question about a person’s qualifications. Such a question must be placed on the notice-paper.
– Perhaps I can submit it in this way-
– Order ! The honorable member cannot submit without notice any question with regard to a person.
– Were applications invited for appointment to the position of assistant administrator of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea? If so, from whom were they invited, and were applications invited from persons both within the Public Service and outside of it?
– During the term of office of my predecessor, applications were invited by public advertisement throughout the Commonwealth for appointment to two positions of deputy administrator in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. A large number of applications were received from persons both inside and outside the public services of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and of the Commonwealth.
– Did the Administrator ask for assistance?
-Order ! The honor- able member for East Sydney.
– Those applications were submitted in the usual way to the Public Service Commissioner and to my department, and as the result a recommendation was placed before my predecessor that the outstanding candidate among all the applicants was Mr. D. M. Cleland.
– He had a very warm testimonial from the former Minister, the honorable member for East Sydney.
– No, he did not.
– He had no testimonial from me.
– Order ! The Standing Orders provide that when Mr. Speaker is on his feet there shall be silence; but yesterday and to-day there has been little silence. If honorable members are not prepared to listen to answers to questions in silence, I shall have to take appropriate action. If any honorable member again interrupts I shall deal with him.
– My predecessor received the recommendation for the appointment of Mr. Cleland to the position of deputy administrator just before he relinquished office, and he thought it preferable to leave the decision in the matter to his successor. Upon assuming office, I examined the matter and came to the conclusion that for technical reasons the position to be filled would be more appropriately described as that of assistant administrator rather than that of deputy administrator, because under the Papua and New Guinea Act the term “ deputy “ is used in respect of appointments of an entirely different kind. In order to avoid confusion I altered the term accordingly. I accepted the recommendation that was made to me by the Public Service Commissioner and by the secretary of my department to appoint Mr. Cleland. Mr. Cleland has outstanding qualifications, including distinguished service as brigadier during a period in which he was mainly responsible for the military administration in New Guinea from 1943 onwards. His qualifications in that respect are without parallel.
– By way of preface to a question that I address to the Minister for Defence Production I direct attention to the recent exploits of the Australian destroyer Anzac in its first action in North Korean waters, in which it demolished with its 4.5-in. guns a Communist battery which was fortressed in concrete. It was reported that at least one shell exploded inside the enemy battery and that the ship’s officers affirmed that the deadly gunnery was a tribute to the up-to-date equipment of Anzac. I ask the Minister whether the 4.5-in. guns that were used with such deadly effect by Anzac were made in Australia.
– As tha honorable member intimated to me that he intended to ask the question that he has just addressed to me, I took the opportunity to obtain detailed information on the subject. It is a fact that the 4.5-in. guns of the destroyer Anzac which demolished the Communist coastal battery recently were made in Australia, and I am pleased to have this opportunity of paying tribute to the skill of Australian engineers and artisans who produced weapons of such deadly efficiency. I do not think it is generally known that both the 4.5-in. guns and mountings with which Anzac is fitted, were made at our government ordnance factories. They were, in fact, the “ first off “ last year and represent a remarkable Australian engineering achievement. When the “ first off “ were officially handed over last year to the Minister for the Navy by my colleague the present Minister for Supply, the First Naval Member, Admiral Sir John Collins, remarked that the Holden car achievement was a simple straightforward piece of work in comparison with the production of the 4.5-in. guns and their automatic twin mountings. We are producing these new types of guns . and mountings simultaneously with the United Kingdom. The first ship scheduled to be commissioned, Tobruk, was to be fitted with British 4.5-in. guns, as the United Kingdom had promised earlier delivery. However, the British guns did not work well on being fitted to Tobruk, so Anzac, equipped with Australian-made guns that were satisfactory from the start, went first into action. It is these Australianmade 4.5-in. guns, which figured in the ceremony last year, that answered so accurately to the ship’s gunners when Anzac went into its first action against the Communist coastal battery.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration, and by way of explanation, I point out that citizenship conventions were held in January, 1950, and again in January, 1951, in Canberra, whilst similar gatherings were later held in each of the Australian States in order to obtain the co-operation of voluntary organizations which were helping in the assimilation of new Australians. In view of the large and extravagant expenditure incurred in accommodating persons who attended such citizenship conventions, does the Minister consider that the calling of any more such conventions is warranted? Is it his intention to hold a further convention in January, 1952? Can he inform me of the total cost which was incurred in holding the citizenship convention in Canberra in .1951 and other such conventions in each of the States ?
– The honorable member for Brisbane is doubtless aware that the first citizenship convention to be held in Australia was planned by the previous Minister for Immigration, and that I adopted the plans which were in train when I came into office. I mate that statement, not to criticize my predecessor, but to show that I fully endorsed his proposals. The officers of my department and I regard the two conventions which have been held as being of the greatest value to the successful conduct of our immigration programme. The total expenditure on such conventions is not great. It is a matter of a few thousand pounds, the greater part of which is incurred in the payment of fares to government instrumentalities and of accommodation costs in Canberra itself. So, there is no excessive use of resources which are in short supply in the community. In the production of goodwill and of voluntary effort, itself an* indispensable factor in a successful assimilation programme, the conventions have proved of the greatest value indeed. I do not understand the reference by the honorable member for Brisbane to conventions which have been held in the various States, because I am able to inform him that, so far as I am aware, no citizenship conventions have been held other .than in Canberra, and, certainly, no substantial expenditure on similar functions has been incurred by the Commonwealth. I am discussing at the moment with the Treasurer the matter of holding a citizenship convention, in January, and I stress that the view of my department and of voluntary bodies makes the Government strongly of opinion that such conventions are of the greatest value.
– Will the Minister for Immigration inform the House what action has been taken or is contemplated to enable New Australian professional men and women to secure recognition of university degrees that they may hold so that they can earn their livelihood in their various professions when their period of contract expires? In particular, has the Australian Government taken any action to persuade other State governments to follow the example of the Tas- manian Government in permitting a certain number of New Australian doctors to practise?
– I can assure the honorable member that a good deal of action has been taken by my department in connexion with this matter, which was raised by me at a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held last year. I shall endeavour to obtain a detailed statement on the subject for the honorable member as it would not be practicable to cover the various professional classifications in any statement that I might make now. The Government is endeavouring to ensure that recognition is given to the capacity and education of New Australians, provided that they have the necessary qualifications and knowledge of English.
– The question that I wish to direct to the Minister for the Navy and Minister for Air relates to the recent Japanese sampan raid on the Hermit Islands, to the refusal of the immediate post-war government in Australia to permit the United States Government to continue its defensive operations on Manus Island, and to the manner in which the Chifley Government allowed that war-time operational base to fall into complete neglect. Does the Government propose either to request the United States Government to take over Manus Island or other islands in the South- West Pacific as air bases, or to set up its own operational bases to defend the northern approaches to Australia? It is a matter of very great concern to the people of Australia and also, I suggest, to our allies that we have no South- West Pacific Island bases capable of accommodating modern bomber and jet-fighter aircraft.
– It is true that, in the immediate post-war period, our defence posts in the north were permitted to fall into a state of disrepair. The Government has now taken steps to ensure that those island defence posts shall be brought to a state of operational efficiency. I assure the honorable member that considerable work is being done with the object of making Manus Island an efficient base for naval and air operations. The .question of asking our American allies to join us in Manus Island is not one for my department. I shall refer it to the Minister for External Affairs and obtain an answer from him.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether the Australian Government has been requested by primary producers’ organizations in this country to try to promote the sale of Australian primary products under fifteen-year contracts? Are primary producers opposed to contracts of that kind, and have they expressed that view to the Government? Has the Government been advised that within a much shorter period than fifteen years from now Australia is unlikely to have a surplus of lamb, beef, butter and many other primary products?
– The fifteen-year contract for the supply of meat to the United Kingdom was negotiated by the Chifley Government.
– There is no contract at all.
– The United Kingdom apparently believes that a contract was entered into. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is at present in London endeavouring to secure a variation of the terms of the agreement that was made.
– Following on the information that the Prime Minister gave to the House yesterday regarding the delay until next week of his proposed statement about the dismissal of 10,000 public servants, I now ask the right honorable gentleman whether he would defer these dismissals until after he has made hi3 statement to the Parliament on the matter. Since the dismissals will affect not only the 10,000 public servants themselves, but will affect also the future welfare of their families, will the Prime Minister issue instructions to have the dismissal notices withdrawn until after the matter has been fully discussed in the Parliament next week?
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is “ No “.
– By way of explanation of a question to the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, I state that I have been advised that officers of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture and representatives of the Australian Wheat Board have been discussing the shortage of wheat for poultry feed. On the 24th August, the Minister informed me that the then shortage was due to lack of rail trucks. As the Australian Wheat Board has informed some farmers that a large quantity of the coming season’s supply will be transported in bulk, I ask the Minister whether consideration has been given to the construction of silos at selected distribution centres so that normal supplies will not suffer from periodic transport difficulties ? If not, will the Minister give consideration to such a suggestion?
– I shall obtain the information and let the honorable gentleman have it.
– In view of. the fact that the Government has signified its intention to increase pension rates in the repatriation and social services spheres can the Treasurer indicate what action is contemplated in respect of pensions payable to the widows of men killed while employed during the war by the Civil Construction Corps? If no action has been taken in that regard will the Treasurer give immediate consideration to an increase of the present pension rate of £2 10s. a week?
– I shall treat the honorable member’s question as being on the notice-paper and shall give him a reply accordingly.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that the Clyde
Engineering Company Limited is in process of delivering eleven diesel electric locomotives to the Commonwealth railways for use on the trans- Australia line? I understand that the deliveries have already started and that they are scheduled to be completed next April? Is the Minister aware that these locomotives are eminently suitable for coal haulage on the New South Wales railways and,’ in fact, were tested by hauling coal over New South Wales lines ? Is it also a fact that owing to lack of foresight by the McGirr Government the New South Wales railways are short of suitable locomotives for coal haulage and cannot transport all the coal that requires transport? Since coal haulage is of top priority will the Minister consider diverting some of these locomotives for use on coal haulage in New South Wales until the McGirr Government is able to remedy the deficiencies caused by its former lack of foresight?
– I recognize the importance of both the honorable gentleman’s question and suggestion, but I have not very much hope of the McGirr Government remedying anything. However, I shall refer the matter to my colleague and let the honorable gentleman have an answer to his question.
– Is the Minister for Transport aware that the Government of New South Wales has technicians in the United States of America investigating the latest forms of transportation, including diesel and electric, and that work is proceeding for the electrification’ of the western railway line to Lithgow? Is the Minister aware that a power station is to be built at Wallerawang in conjunction with this project? I should like to know whether the Australian Government is cooperating with the Government of New South Wales to the fullest possible extent in regard to the provision of finance and other facilities necessary for the completion of this work?
– The honorable member’s question is obviously one on which it is necessary to obtain the information required. I shall supply him with it as soon as possible.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question which is supplementary ‘to one which he has already been asked in relation to the transport of coal by diesel locomotives. Is it not a fact that diesel electric locomotives being manufactured by the Clyde Engineering Company Limited for the Commonwealth railways have a dollar content? Is it not a fact that, because of that dollar content, priority was given to the Commonwealth railways in view of the difficulties experienced in their transport system? Is it not a fact that because of the priority given to the Commonwealth railways, the New South Wales Government Railways had to obtain steam locomotives from England in order to haul the coal required in New South Wales? Is it not a fact that because of the dollar restrictions that have been imposed by the Australian Government, the New South Wales Government has had to turn to the electrification of” the line between Lithgow and Sydney because it is not able to obtain the dollars necessary to purchase locomotives from America ?
– I shall ascertain how many of the honorable member’s statements are facts and provide him with the information that he seeks.
Mr. Clyde Cameron having commenced to ask a question,
Notice must be given of questions regarding the character or conduct of individuals other than Ministers or members of the House.
– A question without notice may not involve a matter of character or conduct. I have not yet heard the question.
Mr. Clyde Cameron having continued his question,
– Order ? The honorable gentleman is clearly out of order now. He must put his question on the notice-paper.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health whether the provisions of theReestablishment and Employment Act concerning preference in employment have been observed in the appointment of the medical superintendent of the Canberra Community Hospital.
– The employment of the medical superintendent of the Canberra Community Hospital has to be sanctioned by the Minister, but the recommendation is made by the Canberra Hospital Board, which is an elective body on which there is one government nominee. After considering the applications before it, the board made a recommendation to me as the acting Minister. I referred certain other names to the board for its reconsideration. The board informed me that it had given full consideration to the provisions of the Reestablishment and Employment Act and I endorsed the recommendation that it made.
– In explanation of a question which I desire to ask the Prime Minister, I wish to state that I have received a letter from a teachers union in Victoria which stresses the educational value of Current Affairs Bulletin and expressing regret that its publication has ceased. I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that the publication of this journal has ceased. If so, will the Prime Minister consider resuscitating it.
– I have received a great number of letters relating to this publication. I am having them examined. I am not in a position to answer the honorable member’s question today, but I shall endeavour to answer it when the House resumes next week.
– Will the Minister for Defence inform the House whether he has seen a pamphlet issued by an advisory committee on conscientious objection which is being widely circulated in Victoria and of which I am prepared to give him a copy. This pamphlet amounts to an invitation to prospective trainees under the national service scheme to avoid military service on the extraordinary grounds of conscientious objection. Can the Minister do anything to check the publication of this sort of matter and offset its influence by giving greater publicity to the splendid job that is being done by the trainees that are now in camp?
– I have not seen the pamphlet to which the honorable member has referred, but I regret very much that any organization should try to prevent any of the people from serving who are called up for duty in the national service training camps. I am glad to say that the influence of these people has not been very great. The enthusiasm of the boys that have been called up is beyond compare. I shall ascertain whether greater publicity can be given to the wonderful spirit that exists in our camps.
– In view of the fact that many sufferers from poliomyelitis are attempting to commence work too early after their discharge from hospital, and are thereby retarding their progress and necessitating their return to hospital, will the Minister representing the Minister for Health give consideration to placing these people on the same basis as tuberculosis patients in relation to the payment of a living allowance during the period of their suffering?
– I shall have this matter considered and advise the honorable member in due course.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Air whether it is a fact that the Sabre jet aircraft to be manufactured in Australia is to be equipped with machine guns of . 5-in. or 13-mm. bore? In view of the fact that the Royal Air Force has equipped its fighters for the last ten years with a 20-mm cannon and that the Russians have been reported to have a 30-mm. cannon in their fighters, will the Minister consider equipping the Sabre jet aircraft with a 20-mm. cannon?
– I shall treat the honorable member’s question as being on the noticepaper and obtain an answer for him.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer whether he is aware that 2,200 workers who are engaged on vital power and fuel projects at Kiewa and Morwell will be dismissed to-day because of the cut in loan moneys that have been made available to Victoria. Is the Treasurer aware that many more dismissals are pending, which must result in the closing down or delaying of work on irrigation, power and fuel projects? In view of the urgency of power and irrigation projects from a defence point of view and from the point of view of increasing primary production, and in view of the action of the Treasurer in budgeting for a surplus of ?114,000,000 I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he will take immediate steps to make finance available to the Victorian Government in order to enable it to continue these works?
– I am not acquainted with the matters to which the honorable member referred at the commencement of his question. I am aware that the responsibility for the Loan Council allocation is upon the Loan Council, of which the Premier of Victoria was a member. He moved the motion and obtained a quota under it.
-by leaveI wish to correct an answer which I gave to a question asked earlier by the honorable member for Yarra. I made a technical error in my answer in saying that the Premier of Victoria moved the motion in the Loan Council in regard to the allocation of the amount agreed upon. I should have said that he supported the motion.
– Can the Minister for. Labour and National Service inform me whether the Tasmanian Government has yet made application to the Commonwealth Treasury for certain moneys with which to finance long service leave for Tasmanian coalminers, complementary legislation for which has been passed by the Tasmanian Parliament?
– An administrator of the long service leave fund has been appointed to administer the scheme in Tasmania.
The Australian Government has given the necessary authorities and approvals to enable the administrator to proceed. Indeed, I was under the impression that the scheme was being implemented already in Tasmania. I shall ascertain whether any other circumstance is preventing it from being fully carried out at this time, and advise the honorable member of the result of my investigations.
– I ask for leave to make a statement about a visit I recently made to SouthEast Asia.
-Is leave granted?
Dr. Evatt and some Opposition Members. ; No.
– I agreed that leave should be granted.
– Leave is refused. There was more than one “ No “ from the Opposition benches.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harbison) put -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent a ministerial statement being made by the Minister for External Affairs.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative by an absolute majority of the whole number of members of the House.
Mr. CASEY (La Trobe- Minister for External Affairs). - I must admit to a little surprise that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) should have attempted to deny this opportunity to me to speak about an area which is of great significance to Australia, particularly since the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) agreed that the statement should be made.
Honorable members may be aware that T recently made, on behalf of the Government, a series of short visits lasting some four a.nd a half weeks in all, to Djakarta, Singapore, Saigon, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Manila and also to Japan and Korea. I believe that the House desires to know at the earliest opportunity the broad purposes of my trip and of the views which I formed as a. result of it.
Soon after taking over the portfolio of External Affairs, I came to the conclusion that it was in Australian interests to give special attention to the relationships between Australia and the countries to our north. A glance at the map makes it clear that the geographical situation of Australia is such that any direct threat to Australian security in the foreseeable future can come only through South-East Asia. The political, economic and military situation in the countries of this area is therefore of the first importance to Australia. It is essential that we should do our utmost to ensure that friendly and stable governments are formed and maintained in South-East Asia.
Although Australia was colonized and developed by people of European stock, and although our cultural past and our present connexions are such that our eyes turn most naturally towards Europe, our geographical situation is such that we must inevitably be brought into close touch with the peoples of Asia. If we make no effort to understand their problems we can scarcely expect them to make an effort to understand ours. Differences of race, religion, language and culture could easily lead to regrettable misunderstandings which might adversely affect our relations with them.
It is not sufficient for us to be vaguely conscious of the existence of our near neighbours to the north. In fact, it is essential that we should get to know them, establish personal contacts, exchange visits and study their problems as well as our own. By endeavouring, within the limits of our capacity, to help them to solve their own great problems, we can do much to create mutual understanding, and develop close and friendly relationships with them for the future, which I believe is not less than essential for both them and ourselves.
My predecessor in office had already made a notable contribution towards the establishment of closer relationships between Australia and the countries of South Asia and SouthEast Asia, by the initiative which he took on behalf of the Government in the creation of the Colombo plan. Under this plan Australia has already established its bona fides in the economic field through the decision of this Government to contribute the sum of £31.250,000 over a six-year period as a contribution to the broad developmental programme designed to raise living standards in India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Indo-China and such other countries of South-East Asia as indicated a desire to participate. In addition, Australia. Agreed to contribute the sum’ of £2,700,000 over a period of three years to the technical assistanceprogramme which forms a most important part of the Colombo plan. Under this latter programme, 150 scholarships and fellowships for Asian countries were made available early this year and a second offer of 150 has just been made. In addition, an important number of Australian scientists and technicians have made visits overseas to advise upon projects under consideration in India, Pakistan and Ceylon, and there are many more to come.
On taking over the portfolio of External Affairs, it seemed to me that a further initiative should be taken by Australia to establish friendly links with Asian countries in the political field. I, therefore, decided to make an immediate personal contact visit to countries in South-East Asia to demonstrate by a public act our desire for friendly contacts. As I had never personally visited countries east or north of Singapore, I felt that such a visit would also enable me, through direct experience on the spot, to understand far better the problems of the area and to be in a position to deal with them more effectively on my return to Australia. For similar reasons, I asked the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs to accompany me on my trip.
I left Australia on the 20th July and returned on the 22nd August. In the interval, I spent an average of about four days in each of the eight different countries. In the time at my disposal it was not, of course, possible for me to travel to every country that I would have wished to visit. Nevertheless, the area I covered was substantial, and in each country I had the opportunity of meeting and engaging in discussions not only with the leaders of the respective governments, but also with our own Australian diplomatic and consular representatives and the representatives of the United Kingdom, the United States of America and a number of other governments. As a result, I venture to believe that in spite of the shortness of my visits, it was possible to obtain a cross section of opinion which has helped me greatly to form a balanced judgment of the various problems of the area as a whole.
Honorable members will not expect me to give a detailed account of each country that I visited. That would take far too long and, in any event, is hardly necessary. I shall try, however, to sum up my main impressions and conclusions because I believe that it is important to take them into account if Australian foreign policy is to be realistic and objective. The most vivid impression of my trip is that of the intensity of the political problems which exist in South-East Asia. All of the countries of the area are pre-occupied with the difficult task of maintaining their independence, in most instances only recently achieved. It should be remembered that the following formidable list of countries was controlled by European nations before the war is India, Pakistan,. Ceylon, Indonesia, Indo-China, the Philippines. Korea was controlled by Japan. In many cases those countries are still trying to recover fromthe .devastation and chaos caused by the war with Japan. The Japanese occupation and subsequent withdrawal greatly increased the speed with which nationalist movements moved towards complete independence. Occupation by Japan cut immediate ties with the past, while Japanese withdrawal provided weapons for large numbers of people, many of whom during the war period had become accustomed to guerilla warfare. There would have been much dislocation in the countries of South-East Asia, even if no such thing as Communist imperialism existed. In fact, of course, the problems of reconstruction and of maintenance of political stability were made infinitely more difficult because international communism saw a golden opportunity to take advantage of the distress, chaos and general unsettlement caused by the last war. By pretending to espouse the cause of nationalism, communism hoped to break quickly the control of the old “ colonial ‘’ powers. By maintaining and increasing economic chaos, communism could hope to secure, through its own disciplined minority, early control of governments. As a result, the tasks of the vast majority of the peoples of the area, who, I believe, are non-Communist in sentiment, was made infinitely more difficult. Moreover, the success of the Communist regime in China in securing control of the mainland of China with extraordinary speed during the post-war years substantially affected the attitude of mind of the large Chinese populations of South-East Asia. Many of these Chinese began to fear that Chinese communism might well penetrate throughout the whole of the area, particularly if urgent political, military and economic help from the great non-Communist countries of the west was not forthcoming. Indeed, it is something of a miracle that in Indonesia, Malaya, Indo-China, Thailand, Burma and the Philippines, nonCommunist governments remain in power. This is due, I believe, in large degree to the momentous decision of the United Nations to resist armed aggression in Korea. If South Korea had fallen to the North Koreans without a blow I find it difficult to believe that all the countries of South-East Asia which I have just mentioned would still have non-Communist governments in control.
Another most important factor has been the large gifts of American civil and defence money and equipment to all the governments in South-East Asia, except, of course, the British colonies which receive support direct from the United Kingdom. Without this large-scale American aid, it is certain that the countries in the area would have found it much more difficult to maintain their stability and independence. If the difficult circumstances of the war years and the postwar years in South-East Asia were properly understood, Australians would, I believe, be far less critical than they sometimes are of present conditions in some of the countries to our near north. New governments have had to be established, new administrative machines built up, production re-organized and markets found. All this had to be done amongst people many of whose lives had become completely unstable during the war years and some of whom had become accustomed to the use of force as trained guerillas. In the light of the situations that have existed in the countries of South-East Asia, I believe, if I may say so, that they have done very well indeed in all the circumstances.
The second and the important conclusions which I reached was that in parts of the area, more particularly in Korea, Indo-China, the Philippines and Malaya, the general situation is appreciably better now than it was six to nine months ago. It will be remembered that early in 1951 United Nations forces in Korea were being subjected to very heavy Communist attacks and there was some degree of uncertainty about whether a stable line could be held. The present position is vastly better. United Nations forces stand for the most part north of the 38th parallel and have shown their ability to hold a line and inflict heavy casualties on the enemy.
The campaign in Malaya for the suppression of the organized Communist bandits is progressing well and there is every evidence that it will succeed, although its total success will not be immediate or, indeed, rapid. The programme entails, amongst other things, the re-settlement of 500,000 individuals in conditions of greater security where they will have the advantage of proper administrative facilities. Amongst the considerable military and police effort to subdue the bandits, our two Royal Australian Air Force Squadrons are playing an active and worthwhile part.
In Indo-China at the end of 1950, there was some pessimism as a result of the activities of Communist Viet Minh forces in the Tonking Delta area in the north. However, after a visit by General Juin, the French Government sent to Indo-China as High Commissioner General De Lattre de Tassigny with whom I had the opportunity of long discussions in Saigon. General De Lattre is a remarkable personality who has succeeded in very substantially improving the military situation in Indo-China. It is now reasonably certain that the democratic forces in Indo-China can withstand the present scale of Communist Viet Minh attacks in the vital Tonking Delta area in the north. If the Chinese Communists were to come south and invade Indo-China in strength, a different situation would arise, in which probably United Nations action alone would be effective. Again, the Philippines campaign against the Communist Huks has achieved much greater success in recent months largely, it appears, due to the efforts of the new Philippines Minister for Defence, Mr. Magsaysay. While I would not in any way wish to minimize the difficulties which, still remain to be overcome in South-East Asia as a whole, E think that it is important for us to understand that there has been in the countries mentioned a noticeable improvement during the last six to nine months. This improvement demonstrates what can be done if energy and resources are applied to the right place at the right time.
The third of the main conclusions which I reached is that of the great importance of Indo-China and Burma to the security of Malaya, and, indeed, of South-East Asia as a whole. I believe that the realization of this particular point was probably the most important single result of my trip. If Indo-China and Burma were lost to the Communists - indeed if cither of them was lost - Thailand would be immediately outflanked and it would be difficult if not impossible for Thailand successfully to resist heavy Communist pressure unless very substantial help were afforded it from without. If Thailand were lost to the Communists, the large export surplus of Siamese rice which is important for Malaya and many of the countries would cease to be available. In other words, the internal position in Malaya could deteriorate substantially even before any question of direct military aggression against Malaya from the north arose. Australia has always shown a special interest in the situation in Malaya, with good reason, as the last war showed. It seems to me only logical that Australia must pay greater attention to developments in areas to the north of Malaya on which the security of Malaya may well substantially depend. If SouthEast Asia and Malaya fell to the Communists, the position in Indonesia would become much less secure and inevitably the security of Australia itself would be directly imperilled.
I propose in the near future to recommend to the Government for its consideration a review of Australian representation in South-East Asia. It is essential that we should have our own posts reporting, quickly and directly to Australia so that we can follow developments and be in a position to take diplomatic and any other action which appears appropriate and practicable. As Singapore is clearly the central point of this area, the nature and scope of our representation in Singapore will in particular receive the urgent attention of the Government.
I should like to make brief but special mention of my visit to Indonesia, our nearest neighbour. Honorable members are fully aware that we have had our differences with the Government of the Republic of Indonesia on the question of Dutch New Guinea. The view of the Indonesian Government and our Australian view are too well known to need repeating here. In spite of these differences, however, I wish to inform the House that I was received in Djakarta with every courtesy and was afforded the opportunity of friendly contact with the leaders of the Government and other prominent personalities. I feel that my visit went some way towards establishing a better understanding in the political field between our two countries. As I felt that it was important to maintain and improve these relationships, I took the opportunity of inviting the Indonesian Foreign Minister, His Excellency Dr. Achmed Subardjo, to pay a visit to Australia on his return from the Japanese Peace Conference at San Francisco. Dr. Subardjo was good enough to accept this invitation, and he and seven other distinguished members of his delegation visited Australia recently. It is my firm belief that the friendly personal relationships established as a result of those two visits, both on the ministerial and the official level, have paved the way to a better understanding of our mutual problems. I do not pretend that all our mutual difficulties have been solved but I believe .that a substantial step forward has been taken in removing unnecessary misunderstandings and that it will be somewhat easier in the future than it has been in the past to find practical ways of resolving our differences. I should like to place on record the following message which was conveyed to me by Dr. Subardjo when he left Sydney: -
On leaving Australian soil I want to express my heartfelt gratitude on behalf of my delegation and myself for the most cordial welcome and hospitality that you and your Government have accorded to us. This short visit has clearly proved the necessity ot more frequent intercourse between both countries for the sake of promoting friendship, goodwill and understanding.
I feel sure that honorable members will accept this message in the spirit in which it is given and will support the Government in assuring the Government of the Republic of Indonesia that Australia for its part will reciprocate to the best of its ability in promoting friendship, goodwill and understanding between our two countries.
My remarks so far have been devoted to South-East Asia. I felt, however, that my visit to that area would be incomplete if I did not take the opportunity to fly as well to Hong Kong, Japan and Korea. Honorable members may wish to hear from me a brief report of my experiences in those places. In speaking of Hong Kong, I need do little more than express my admiration for the courage and stability with which the population is carrying on in spite of its proximity to Communist China. Over the years, Hong Kong has seen many changes in China, and it is accustomed to meeting and overcoming difficulties. The morale of its population is reflected in the fact that a considerable number of new buildings are being erected in the city. I believe that the Peking regime would recognize the potential value for the peoples of China as a whole of the maintenance of Hong Kong as a means of contact with the outside world.
In Tokyo I met the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Yoshida, and a number of leading Japanese. I had talks with them regarding present conditions in Japan and the problems which Japan must inevitably face in the future. In speaking to the press in Japan, I made it clear that it would be misleading for the Japanese to expect Australia quickly to forget the past. At the same time, I expressed the view that if Japan by its actions demonstrated in the future that it had, in fact, cast off for all time the ambitions and objectives of Japanese imperialism, then Australians would be prepared to meet the Japanese people half way. In Japan I had consultations not only with our own representatives but also with the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, General Ridgway, and a number of his political and military advisers. I also met, of course, the representatives of other foreign governments in Tokyo and discussed with them de velopments in Japan and in Korea. So far as Japan is concerned, I do not propose to elaborate upon Japanese peace treaty developments, because the House will have a full opportunity to debate these matters when the bill is brought down later to ratify the peace treaty signed at San Francisco. “While I was in Japan, General Ridgway and General Robertson made it possible for me to fly to Korea for the main purpose of meeting the members of the South Korean Government and the United Nations Commission for Korea. While in Korea, I paid a short visit to the British Commonwealth Division. I flew to Seoul in an aircraft which carried Admiral Joy, the chief United Nations representative at the cease-fire negotiations. I discussed the negotiations with him at some length and found that, at that stage,, he was still hopeful that a cease-fire could in fact be secured in spite of the delaying and obstructive tactics of the Communists.
While I was in South Korea I saw our 77 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, and then flew to the forward area to meet General Cassels, commander of the British Commonwealth Division, and to visit the Australian battalion, as well as an American and a South Korean unit. lt is not my wish to discuss the military situation in Korea, but honorable members may care to know that every one I met’ spoke most highly of our Australian forces and of the British Commonwealth Division. While I was in Korea I went to Pusan, the temporary capital on the south-east coast, and met President Syngman Rhee and all the members of his Government. A special meeting of the United Nations Commission on Korea was arranged to give me the opportunity of discussing conditions in Korea. I also met the members of the United Nations Korean Relief Administration.
Honorable members may have read in the press from time to time criticism of the Government of South Korea. The policy of the South Korean Government is not identical with our own or with that of other members of the United Nations in all respects as regards the way in which the problem of Korea should be handled.
In spite of any such, occasional differences ‘of opinion, however, I feel bound to say that my visit to Korea has enabled me to appreciate what has been done by the Government of South Korea and by the Korean people. Notwithstanding very heavy casualties and great destruction of property and life, the morale of the South Koreans is remarkably high. I think that Australians would he less critical of some aspects of administration in South Korea if they realized better the great difficulties that have had to be overcome in setting up a government and in establishing an army in that country in the last very few years. “We tend to forget that during the long period of Japanese occupation of Korea, the Koreans were prevented from playing a part of any consequence in the administration or the business of the country. It is quite unreasonable to expect that, during the short period of time in which the South Korean Government has been in existence, it could have established an administration comparable in effectiveness with the standards reached in old-established democracies.
In concluding this short report of my visit to South-East Asia and East Asia, I should like, to express publicly the thanks of the Australian Government, and my own thanks, for all the courtesies and facilities that were afforded, to me and my party during my tour.’ There was no country which did not receive me in the most friendly fashion. In spite of their own domestic pre-occupations, the leaders in each country found time for official discussions and for the most friendly personal contacts. I should like in particular, to express special gratitude to the Governments of the United Kingdom and of the United States which, through their political and military representatives in the area, placed every facility at my disposal and gave me the benefit of their views and advice.
I hope that my visits to all the countries I have mentioned will in due course be reciprocated by visits to Australia. As I have already mentioned, one such visit - that of Dr. Subardjo, the Foreign Minister of Indonesia - has already taken place. It is essential not only that Australians should become more familiar with the .countries to their north, but also that these countries should learn to know
Australians here in Australia. I am glad to be able to inform the House that, under the Colombo Plan and as a result of private arrangements, no fewer than 1,600 individuals from Asian countries are studying at Australian universities, schools, technical institutions and government departments. This interchange of experience is, I am sure, good for our visitors and good for us.
In the world as it is to-day, it would be most unwise for Australia to attempt to isolate itself from its surroundings. Good relations and co-operation mean a great deal more than absence of friction. Positive effort and initiative are necessary in order to establish friendly relations and mutual goodwill between nations. It is my belief that Australia, as a western country geographically situated in the Asian area, can and should play a most valuable part in helping to bridge the gaps that unfortunately still exist between East and West. I lay on the table the following paper : -
South-East and East Asia - Visit by Minister for External Affairs - Ministerial Statement - and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Haylen) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Administrator’s, message) :
Motion (by Sir Arthur Fadden) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund sums for the purposes of financial assistance to the States in connexion with the administration of the control of prices and rents.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Sir Arthur Fadden and Mr. Eric J. Harrison do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Sir Arthur Fadden, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill provides for the continuance in 1951-52 of the reimbursement to the States of the costs incurred by them in administering controls over prices and rents. It. is proposed to make payments to the States for this purpose on the same conditions as have applied in previous years. The Commonwealth agreed to reimburse to the States the administrative cost of controls over prices, rents and land sales when responsibility for these controls was assumed by them in 1948. The arrangement has been continued each year. The States have since relinquished control over land sales, but are still exercising controls over prices and rents.
The Australian Government has been asked to extend the financial arrangement concerning these controls for a further year. It has agreed to do so in order that their administration will not be hampered by financial considerations. As has been “ the case in previous years, the bill provides for the making of periodical advances to the States, which will be adjusted upon the submission of audited statements of expenditure after the close of the year. Under this arrangement, expenditure amounted to £703,596 last year and is estimated at £819,000 in 1951-52.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Evatt) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Townley) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the War Service Homes Act 1918-1949.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
War service homes were instituted in March, 1919, after World War I. The scheme was basically designed to help an ex-serviceman of moderate means to obtain his own home. Between then and the 30th June, 1951, 75,500 homes have been provided for ex-servicemen, at a total cost of £86,S74,000. For record purposes, it is interesting to note that 37,385 homes had been provided by the 30th June, 1940. From 1940 to 1945, during the war years, there was naturally a reduction of activities, but from the 1st July, 1945, to the 30th June, 1951, no fewer than 37,920 homes were financed by the War Service Homes Division.
The progressive achievements since 1945 are clearly shown, and they indicate a highly commendable activity on the part of the departmental officers concerned. In the first of the post-war years, 428 homes were financed, and the expenditure was £372,000. Next year, the total advanced to 2,263, and expenditure was £2,136,000. Next year, it had grown to 3,677, and expenditure was £4,438,000. Next year, the number was 6,084, expenditure being £8,566,000. In 1949-50, the total jumped to 10,303, with an expenditure of £16,154,000. In the year just ended, no fewer than 15,165 homes wore provided, at an all-time record expenditure of £25,071,000. It is estimated that in. the year ended June, 1951, the War Service Homes Division build or financed no less than 11.6 per cent, of all new houses built in Australia.
There is probably no greater factor in promoting stability in a community than that of home ownership, and the desirability of this is probably of greater importance to-day than it ever was before. It can be stated that more homes are provided by the War Service Homes Division at present than by any other individual housing scheme, in the Commonwealth. As I have stated, in the year ended the 30th June, 1951, the all-time record amount of £25,071,000 was expended by the War Service Homes Division in building and financing homes. Although the Government is faced with inescapable but enormously increased commitments for defence requirements and other high priority expenditure, it has been decided that the record sum mentioned for last year will again be made available for the current year.
When the construction of war service homes was commenced in 1919, there was an accumulation of applications awaiting attention. The Commonwealth Rank handled the financing of existing properties, and the War Service Homes Commission undertook building operations. Expenditure during 1919-20 was £4,838,349, of which £3,835,220 was expended on existing properties. A comparison of the expenditure in some subsequent years is given in the following table : - lt has been the custom for the division to arrange for homes for ex-servicemen in four distinct ways.
The division arranges for the valuation of and a technical report on the property. It is necessary to see that it is a good security for the moneys paid by the applicant and by the Commonwealth, that the construction is sound, and that the title is clear.
Of these four functions, undoubtedly the first two, which cover the building of new homes, are the most important and desirable. Although ‘the purchase of existing homes and the discharge of mortgages have been of great assistance, they have not improved the overall housing position of the Commonwealth. On the other hand, every new home erected not only has discharge a part of our obligation to ex-servicemen, but also has had a very real effect on the housing problem generally. Unfortunately, during recent years there has been a regrettable decrease of the percentage of new homes financed, and an effort, to which I shall refer later, is being made this year to restore the proportion of new home building.
Of the 75,000 homes provided since the inception of the scheme, 33,000 new homes have been built and 42,500 existing properties have been purchased or mortgages discharged. Approximately 44 per cent, have been built to 56 per cent, existing properties purchased or mortgages discharged. Since 1945, however, the proportion has dropped considerably; 11,576 homes have been built, but 26,344 have been existing properties or mortgage discharges. Expressed in percentages, homes built have dropped from 44 per cent, to 30 per cent., whilst existing properties have increased from 56 per cent, to 70 per cent. In the last completed year the percentage figure? are: Homes built, 26 per cent.; existing properties and mortgages discharged, 74 per cent. These figures do not include the 6,301 under construction and contracts let at the 30th June, 1951.
There is also much evidence to suggest that some ex-servicemen have paid for existing properties, prices far in excess of their value, in spite of valuations given by departmental officers. The reason is, of course, that the ex-serviceman is prepared to pay a higher price to get immediate possession. On the other hand, undoubtedly the most productive activity of the division is the building of group homes and individual homes, where the whole of the operation is arranged by the War Service Homes Division and regular contractors are employed under departmental supervision. The division has been extremely fortunate for a number of years in having had a reasonable number of contractors who have carried out its building projects. Because of rising costs, however, and the fact that the maximum loan provided under the act was £2,000, contractors concerned have turned elsewhere and in particular the number of group home contracts let has fallen considerably. By means of a substantial increase of this loan, together with a realistic adjustment of the deposit required and other measures, the Government will make a determined effort to restore that activity in the present year.
Applications for loans continue to be received at the rate of approximately 2,000 a month, and as it is impossible to meet the demand in full under existing conditions every effort is being made to give priority assistance to the building of individual and group homes by increasing to £2,750 the maximum loan for that purpose. For the purchase of existing properties the maximum loan will remain at the present amount of £2,000, but assistance under this heading will not be given where the total purchase price exceeds £3,500. The practice of discharging mortgages will be discontinued. It is considered ‘ that these provisions will ensure the most equitable distribution of the very considerable amount provided in the budget and will encourage a home building programme of the most desirable form.
The other major amendment provided for in the bill is designed to give Korean and Malayan ex-servicemen rights under the War Service Homes Act equal to those enjoyed by ex-servicemen of the 1914-18 and 1939-45 wars. The locations of hostilities and separate enlistment for the purpose of these activities have made it necessary to provide in the bill that only those ex-servicemen who actually leave Australia for service will be eligible. This conformsto the general practice observed in the amendments to the Repatriation Act. The bill also provides for an amendment of the basis for determining the amount of the deposit to be lodged by an applicant. Under the existing provisions in the act anomalies arise and these would be accentuated with the increase of the maximum loan for building. The provision included in the bill will rectify these anomalies and at the same time will keep the deposit on a realistic scale despite the higher costs of building and purchasing homes.
Debate on motion (by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
– by leave - I move -
That the following Orders of the Day, Government Business, be discharged: -
Foreign Affairs - Ministerial Statement; Resumption of debate on motion to print paper.
Draft Pacific Security Treaty;Resumption of debate on motion to print paper.
National Service - Ministerial Statement; Resumption of debate on motion to print paper.
Since the ministerial statement on foreign affairs was made events have moved rather rapidly and I have no doubt that a new ministerial statement will be forthcoming with regard to matters of more immediate concern in the foreign affairs field. A bill to ratify the draft Pacific Security Treaty will also be introduced, during the debate on which members will have a greater opportunity of discussing that matter. I do not know of anything in connexion with national service that cannot be discussed to better advantage during the budget debate than under Order of the Day No. 16.
– I hope that the VicePresident of the Executive Council will also be able to assure honorable members that a bill will be introduced at a later stage to ratify the peace treaty with Japan.
– That is an assurance that I am not at the moment empowered to give; but; judging by the trend of events, I have no doubt that some such bill will be forthcoming.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 28th June (vide page 636, volume 213), on motion by Mr. Anthony -
That the following papers be printed: -
Loss of airliner Amana, 26th June, 1950 -
Report of Air Court of Inquiry;
Supplementary Report; and
Ministerial Statement by the Minister for Civil Aviation regarding the report.
– The reports concerning ‘this matter have been available for some months, and it seems now that there will not be much opportunity for honorable members to discuss, at any great length, this matter which is of great public concern and is also, I consider, of some personal concern to honorable members who travel frequently by air. To support my statement that the matter is of great public concern I point out that since the disaster occurred I have been approached on many occasions with regard to it by people outside. That fact illustrates the degree of anxiety that has developed as a consequence of the tragedy. I know, as a former Minister for Civil Aviation, that such accidents are inevitable, but I can also affirm that they occur less often in Australia than in most other countries. Perhaps we have natural advantages of terrain and climatic conditions that account for that fact, but I am of the opinion that we are fortunate in having in Australia aircrew men whose qualities are equal to any produced elsewhere. Records over the years have established the truth of that belief.
The information available on this matter is contained in two reports by the Air Court of Inquiry which were tabled by the Minister on the 28th June. The accident occurred on the 26th June, 1950, or about a year earlier than the date on which the Minister tabled the papers. A year seems a very long time to have elapsed between the accident and the tabling of the reports, but I know that thorough investigations were being made and that, the Air Court of Inquiry having found it necessary to hold a second inquiry, the time that elapsed between the occurrence of the accident and the tabling of the reports was probably longer than would normally be the case. I consider it to be wise to take the fullest advantageof whatever inquiries can be made into such accidents with the intention of developing, if possible, a method of inquiry which will elucidate the causes of them.
The main report consists of 22 closely typed foolscap pages, and is rather an extensive document to study. The supplementary report consists of five pages. The recommendations of the Air Court of Inquiry are on pages 20 to 22 of the main report and on page five of the supplementary report. I am sorry that the reports have not been available to honorable members, at all events since the Parliament last assembled, so that they could have examined them thoroughly. Had they been available I am quite sure that some honorable members would have liked to make contributions to the debate which might have proved to be of value. The story of the tragedy was set out in the statement that the Minister made on the 28th June, which traversed briefly what is contained in the reports. But the reports contain many matters which, I consider, could be examined with advantage by many honorable members. Not only members of the Opposition, but also Government supporters, feel great concern about the accident. A number of honorable members opposite have expressed such concern to me.
The aircraft set out at a specific time I think it was 9.55 p.m. and signalled after a normal take-off, that it was on course. Fourteen minutes after that signal the crash occurred. It cannot be denied that the aircrew were very capable and experienced men. The aircraft was flying under the correct limitations of weight. Reference has been made to a number of possible causes of the accident. The court, for good reasons which it set out in two reports, was unable to determine exactly what took place. I do not consider it should be assumed that it is not possible to establish the cause of accidents in all cases, because the departmental investigation committee has done magnificent work in that connexion. I believe it would be hard to find a body of men. who so thoroughly examine every possibility in endeavouring to ascertain what might have given rise to such accidents. Whilst many persons consider that once a crash has occurred the cause cannot be ascertained, it is well known that it can be determined whether a machine struck the ground with the power on or in a falling crash with no power on.
The Minister’s statement to the House made it clear that the primary cause of the accident to the Amana on the 26th June, 1950, has not been discovered. That, too, is clear from the reports of the inquiry and all the evidence submitted. No doubt the Minister has examined the original report of the Air Accidents Investigation Committee of the Civil Aviation Department, which, in my experience, has invariably done its work most thoroughly. The interests of the air-travelling public, the department and the operators demand that. Anything less would cause not only anxiety in the public mind, but also a lack of confidence in the travel facilities provided. We cannot afford to have that. Australia is as air-minded as any country in the world, and I think that Tasmania is more airminded than any other spot on the earth.
Although the debate is taking place long after this regrettable accident, I have no doubt that further critical examination is being made of factors which may have given rise to it. That, however, does not imply that the accident itself should not be the subject of discussion by lay people who almost invariably are not expert in discovering causes of accidents but who compose almost the whole of those who are their unwitting victims. Nowadays, a considerable margin of safety is provided and, indeed, is generally, if not invariably, applied with meticulous care by the mechanical staff as well as the operating staff. As a consequence of this our minds are turned in the direction of human falability. I think it can reasonably be claimed that the human factor in air transport, particularly on the operational side, is as highly qualified and as trustworthy here as in any other part of the world.
As usual’ in such cases, there is a crop of rumours and suggestions which, however unlikely to be correct, may contain some grains of truth and should therefore be examined. The first of these is that one of the caps of the opening through which the tanks of aircraft are filled with petrol was found on the tarmac .after the aeroplane had departed from Guildford and that, in some way, a spark from the ignition or electrical system got across from one of the plane’s transmitters to the opening in the tank and caused an immediate outbreak of fire. Although that has been suggested I could not see much evidence of it in the report. The report does show that no radio message was sent by the air crew to Guildford after the message sent four minutes after departure which stated that they were then on course, although it is indicated that the flight as originally planned was not, for some unknown reason, adhered to. Nor was a message received which would have indicated that the crew was having trouble immediately prior to the accident. Since the court, after thorough examination, was unable to ascertain the cause of the accident, this theory, or rumour, seems to me to deserve some attention.
The court seems to have been convinced that a fire did not occur in tho aeroplane prior to the crash and it must be borne in mind that the court was assisted ‘by two capable assessors with the qualifications of experts who agreed in every particular with the finding. It should be easily ascertainable whether or not one of the filling caps of the Ama,ia was found on the tarmac after the plane departed. It is possible, however, that a small fire occurred in the cockpit of the aeroplane which prevented the sending of a message by the crew, who may have been engaged in an attempt to suppress it before it reached the petrol tanks, and were prevented from maintaining control of the aircraft.
A fire-detection device made in Australia to which the Civil Aviation Department has given approval, is carried in all aircraft flown by Trans-Australia Airlines. Honorable members may inspect these instruments if they ask to be shown them. A red light shows on the instrument in the cockpit of the aeroplane when a fire occurs and this indicates, not only that a fire has occurred, but also where it is located in the aeroplane. A fire might start in the cockpit itself, in the forward luggage hold, in the body of the aeroplane, or in the rear luggage or freight hold. The instrument shows its location instantaneously. I have seen this appliance demonstrated in the presence of experts and can say that it is most effective as an alarm system and is protective in the sense that it enables immediate steps to be taken to prevent the spread of a fire which, if not extinguished at once might, and almost certainly would, prove dangerous if not disastrous. I understand that there are devices other than the Australian one to which I have referred, but- expert opinion seems to be that there is none quite so effective. I do not know whether the Amana was fitted with the Australian device, but I understand that it was not. I doubt whether the Civil Aviation Department has power to compel its use, but I offer the suggestion that all aircraft should be fitted with the best device available for the protection of its occupants. Whenever protection can be afforded in that way, such instruments should be fitted provided that they pass trials of an exhaustive character which show that they are useful in matters of this kind.
In view of the difficulty - perhaps it would be better to use the word “ impossibility “ - of determining the exact cause of this unfortunate disaster, the Minister should have the position with regard to fire detection in aircraft thoroughly investigated. Should it be within his power to do so, he should insist, without regard to any particular person or interests involved, that all aeroplanes shall be fitted with the most effective fire detection appliances. Another aspect which develops is whether the best method of ascertaining the cause of accidents is being used. I am satisfied that the departmental investigation committee which investigates an accident subsequent to or coincident with the investigation by the proprietors, company or corporation concerned, is efficient and is just as eager as is any member of the public to discover causes of air disasters and to make its conclusions available to the court and to the people.
It is within the bounds of possibility that the instrument in the cockpit of the aircraft which is referred to in the language of the layman as the “ artificial horizon “ may have been defective. This instrument is used for the purpose of indicating whether the aircraft is flying in a correct attitude or posture. If it became defective, particularly when flying in darkness over country with few landmarks, the aeroplane could have been following a slight downward path without the air crew being aware of it. I think it would be admitted’ by competent pilots that it would be possible, if that instrument were defective, for a pilot to fail to realize that the aircraft was following a downward path instead of flying level or ascending. It would not be a case of flying, off course. The aeroplane could be on course but descending when it should be flying level or ascending. I realize that the altimeter should indicate the height of the aircraft ; hut if that, too, were defective a combination of defects could give rise to an accident. It is usually the case that a combination of defects or errors is the cause of an accident and the violence of the crash prevents the causes from being ascertained.
Does the court appointed by the Minister or the Government provide the best means of elucidation possible? In this case it is clear that the assessors were in complete agreement with the court but if they or anyone of them should not be, there is no way in which they can give expression to their views unless the court itself chooses to allow that expression or itself expressed disagreement. In this case it is clear that the assessors were in complete agreement with the court: and they were very competent men. I think that one of them was Captain John Bonnett, the Flight Superintendent of British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines, and the other was a Captain Hudson, an engineer. They agreed in every particular with the court’s findings at both inquiries. But if they or any one of them should not have agreed there was no way in which they could have given expression to their views unless the court itself had chosen to allow that expression or had itself expressed disagreement. The assessors are merely advisors, as experts in various aspects of aviation whose knowledge is available to the court; men of high status in the aviation world whose integrity is undoubted but who do not shave in bringing in the finding.
I am of the opinion that what is done in other parts of the world in ascertaining causes of accidents should be examined in an endeavour to produce an authority which will be the best possible. I consider that to be vital. The matter was under examination while I was Minister for Air and endeavours were being made to determine what would be the best form of inquiry to develop. That is not a reflection on the court or on the departmental committee of inquiry but it may be possible to establish something better. I consider that the Department of Civil Aviation, which is in charge of the lives and safety of so many people and so much valuable property, ought to .be and is prepared to, determine what is the best form of inquiry. I am not criticizing the department adversely, . but I believe that something better might be done; and if it can be done we should leave no stone unturned - even financial stones - to see that it shall be done. I believe that the proprietors, companies or corporations concerned do their utmost to avoid air accidents for selfish if for no other reasons, as the reputation of an airline or an operator is at stake. However, there is the ever-present possibility that some one lower down the scale may not, under heavy pressure of work or limitation of time, be so exacting as he should be in ensuring that the duties imposed upon him are completely carried out or that the person appointed to do the job actually does it. That is a possibility, particularly when acting under strain and stress
On page 9 of the court’s report the following paragraphs appear: -
I venture to suggest that that strengthens the belief that the aircraft was flying downwards and that the power was on at the moment of impact. That could have been caused by an attempt to lift the plane as the pilot was approaching the ground. No 4 engine did not have the power on, but Nos. 1, 2, and 3 did. I submit that that is very important. I do stress that that matter might be worth further examination. [Extension of time granted.]
I suggest that the Minister be .good enough to have the findings of the Air Court of Inquiry incorporated in Hansard because they are of tremendous value to both technical people and the general public. The court made it clear that the causes of the accident were not ascertainable.
On page 13 of Mr. Justice Simpson’s report appears a reference to the weatherheads. It was suggested that water had by some means got into the engine. On this point the court reported -
The weatherheads were not drained at Essendon despite the existence of an Air Navigation Order that was made by the Department of Civil Aviation that all fuel tank drain cocks must be checked for water after each refuelling.
Although the court seemed to think that presence of water did not bring about the accident, it nevertheless saw fit to make that reference. The court also referred to the fact that there were other irregularities which perhaps I shall not be able to touch upon. Another important matter is mentioned on page 16. There the court said -
In those circumstances I find it impossible to believe that any water was put into Amana from the respective tankers that refuelled it from the time it left Sydney on the morning of 26th June, until the time it set out on its last and fatal journey.
I suggest that that also is a matter of importance. At page 20 the court said with regard to the theory of an expert, Mr. Berry-
I consider this theory completely untenable.
At page 20 the court set out its findings, and I cannot do more at this time than merely point out that they are in paragraphs 76 to 91. Paragraph S6 at page 21 is particularly important. In it the court states -
Although it had no part in causing the accident there was a serious dereliction of duty on the part of ground engineers employed by the operating company in not obeying thu appropriate Air Navigation Order which required the draining of the weatherheads of fuel tanks of the aircraft as Essendon. Parafield., and Guildford.
Perhaps the Department of Civil Aviation could exert more pressure to ensure that such action shall always he taken in the future.
– That is covered in the court’s recommendation.
– That is so, but I do not know whether further regulations have been issued which will ensure that such action shall be taken in the future. Paragraph S7 at page 22 reads -
There was evidence that on this occasion the Amana was carrying 8,545 feet of photographic film in breach of the order which limits the carriage of films to 3.000 feet. This played no part in the accident as it is clear Amana did not catch fire prior to impact.
That lends point to what I have already said about the possibility of an -attempt to suppress a fire, but everything happened so quickly, only nineteen minutes after the take-off, that it is really impossible to ascertain what did occur. Moreover, no radio message was received from the pilot after the aircraft had been airborne for four minutes, although he did not comply with his flight plan.
I thank the House for having been good enough to extend my time sufficiently to enable me to refer to the matters upon which I have since touched. I should like to hear the opinions of the trained aviators in this House, and those of other honorable members on this side of the House. I suggest that further opportunity should be given to the House to discuss this matter. I also suggest that whatever else is done, there should bc no reduction of the staff of the Department of Civil Aviation. That department needs all the staff that it has. On the technical side there are men in that department who are as good as those employed in similar positions in any part of the world. The organization that has been built up should not be lightly altered. I also submit that any retrenchment in the Department of Civil Aviation would cause great uneasiness in the minds of those who use our aviation facilities, and in the minds of the public generally. We must retain the confidence of the people. I am not making accusations against anybody; in fact, much of what has been done in our aviation services is. highly creditable to the operators and the department; but there may be a degree of negligence somewhere. If there is, we should endeavour to eliminate it immediately.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford.) stated that he wished the Minister to have the findings of the Air Court of Inquiry incorporated in Ilansard. The Minister has no power to do that, nor have I. Only the House can consent to its being done.
– Then, with the consent of the House I shall’ incorporate the findings in Hansard. In the first report, they are as follows : -
By the time ithad gone a distance of something under 10 miles the pilot was experiencing some difficulty with his engines and by the lime the aircraft had reached the vicinity of approximately 12 miles from. Guildford it had departed from itsflight plan in so much as it was not climbing at the planned rate of climb.
That the pilot in these circumstances should have reported, to the Air Traffic Control at Guildford, that he was departing from his flight plan. There is no explanation of why he did not do this. There is nothing to suggest that his communication systems were not functioning.
That by the time the aircraft had reached approximately 30 miles from the point of departure it was in serious difficulties. At this point it was flying some 5.000 feet below its planned height.
That at this point the engines all ceased to deliver power and about the same time the aircraft went intoa very steep and sudden dive.
That the engines again came on for a short space of time and the aeroplane made a definite turn to port.
That the pilot had, at some time, during the voyage feathered the propeller of number 4 engine and immediately before the crash into the ground he had probably attempted to unfetter this engine.
That the machine collided with the top of a hill in the vicinity of York at a distance of about 36½ miles from Guildford aerodrome and on a bearing 078 degrees magnetic.
That the aircraft struck the ground inadvertently and not during any deliberate attempt on the partof the pilot to land the aircraft.
I am satisfied and have to report that there was no water in the petrol (except possibly in the undrainable section of Nos. 1 and 4 main tanks), when “Amana” left Sydney on the morning of 26th, and that no water was in the petrol when “ Amana “ was refuelled at Essendon. Para field and Guildford.
Although it had no part in causing the accident there was a serious dereliction of duty on the part of ground engineers employed by the operating company in not obeying the appropriate Air Navigation Order which required the draining of the weatherheads of fuel tanks of the aircraft at Essendon, Parafield and Guildford.
There was evidence that on this occasion the “ Amana “ was carrying 8,545 feet of photographic film in breach of the order which limits the carriage offilms to 3,000 feet. This played no part in the accident as it is clear “ Amana “ did not catch on fire prior to impact.
I recommend that the Oil Companies who supply petrol for aircraft purposesshouldbe required to test each compartment of their tank wagons at least after each re-fill of the tank wagon and that such tests should be made by withdrawing petrol from each compartment into a transparent or glass container and an inspection made for the presence of water.
I recommend that the Department of Civil Aviations Air Navigation Order Number 105.0.22 should be amended to require that the checks of the fuel from the weatherheads be made into transparent or glass containers.
I recommend that the Department of Civil
Aviation reconsider the appropriate Air Navigation Order (A.N.O. 40) with a view to requiring all pilots to be periodically tested for asymmetric flight on each type of aeroplane in which they regularly fly.
In explanation of this last recommendation.
Every pilot flying in Commercial Aircraft is required to have his licence endorsed for the particular type of aircraft he is flying and he is also required to be tested in asymmetric flight once in every six months for his licence renewal.
As the order is at present worded a pilot can renew his licence when flying say, four engined planes and have his asymmetric tests on twoengined planes. This matter was mentioned in the inquiry but not pursued at any length and I am not justified in the circumstances in making a positive recommendation that this be altered.
The concluding paragraphs inthe supplementary report are as follows : -
I am asked by my Assessors to state that they are in complete agreement with my findings and recommendations in this Supplementary Report.
.The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford) has dealt with this matter in his usual moderate fashion. All that I want from the Government is an assurance that it is learning the lessons of this tragic happening. The Department of Civil Aviation has a record which compares more than favorably, I think, with that of any similar service in the world. The record of Australian aviation is a very proud one. It is tragic happenings such as this that bring home to us the possibility of such failures on the part of the men and machines associated with our aviation services. This accident was particularly tragic. Not only was it. the only crash of a four-engine passenger plane ever to have taken place in Australia, but it also happened with such suddenness that it shocked the people of Western Australia and caused great concern throughout Australia. The aircraft was scarcely more than airborne, had scarcely reached its normal operating height, when the tragic event occurred.
It was beyond the power of the court to establish the cause of the accident. It is true that this event should make us more vigilant to ensure the constant observance of the highest standards of civil aviation. The inquiry revealed that in three matters the normal practice laid down for civil aviation companies had not been complied with. One was of a minor nature, and concerned the distribution of the load. Another was the carriage of a quantity of photographic film in excess of what was permitted by the department. The third matter was the failure of the company to drain the weatherheads before the aircraft left Guildford. There was, I believe, a similar failure before it left Melbourne. Whilst it- is unlikely that that caused the accident, the cause has not been and cannot be discovered. Tho court assumed that those matters had no bearing on the accident; nevertheless it is laid down by the Civil Aviation Department that certain precautions must be taken. The department must insist that these precautions shall be carried out according to rule. The Minister should give consideration to the imposition of heavy penalties on those who do not strictly adhere to the rules. If they are sufficiently important to be given the force of law by the Department of Civil Aviation, then the department and the Government should ensure, by the provision of severe penalties, thai they shall be carried out.
The honorable member for Maribyrnong referred to possible retrenchment in the Department of Civil Aviation. I hope that the Government will not carry out such retrenchment. A reduction of the staff of Trans- Australia Airlines, or of the Department of Civil Aviation, might do a great disservice to the Australian people and to Australian aviation. It is not sufficient that there should be adequate staffs, it is necessary that the public who travel by air, and their relatives whom they leave behind, should be assured of the best possible service. This tragic happening shook the whole of Australia. No blame can be attached to the aircraft crew and no cause has been assigned to the crash. Nevertheless, it should make the Government, the department and the Parliament most anxious that no such happening shall occur in the future. I hope that the Government will learn the lesson of this accident and that civil aviation in Australia will be made safer thereby.
– in reply - I appreciate the approach that honorable members opposite have made to this matter. I refer particularly to the remarks of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford). He was formerly Minister for Civil Aviation and he had the responsibility of arranging for the investigation of aircraft fatalities. Such accidents, of course, are lamentable, and in almost all instances it is difficult to determine the actual cause of the accident. However, we learn as we go. As a consequence of regrettable accidents of this kind regulations are framed with the object, if one may use the phrase, of taking advantage of the lessons that are to be learned therefrom. The Department of Civil Aviation insists firmly upon observance of its regulations. Indeed, in some instances its strictness is resented to some degree by airline companies’. However, for some time past, there has been a recognition by the major companies of the necessity for measures to ensure the safety of the travelling public. Civil aviation in this country has a proud record. Last year Australian airlines carried 1,7.50,000 passengers and the fatality rate ‘ was approximately five deaths in every 100,000,000 miles flown. Consequently, air travel to-day is probably the safest form of transportation with the possible exception of rail transport. When one compares the infinitesimal number of accidents in civil aviation with the appalling number that occurs almost daily on our roads, one cannot but conclude that to-day air travel is not the hazardous venture that it once appeared to be.
The Air Court of Inquiry made certain observations which have been noted by the department. As the honorable member for Maribyrnong has stated, the court directed attention to the fact that the weathercocks of the 4mana appeared not to have been drained as prescribed under the regulations although, at the same time, the court expressed the opinion that that omission was not a contributing cause of the accident. The purpose of draining weathercocks is to determine whether there is any water in the petrol. However, in such tests in the past, the petrol was’ drained into containers that were not transparent. An air navigation regulation which has now been gazetted provides that containers into which petrol from weathercocks is drained shall be transparent so that testers may be able to see at a glance whether the petrol contains water.
I have had personal discussions with the head of Australian National Airlines Proprietary Limited, the company which owned the Amana, and I obtained from him an assurance that the observations that were made by the Air Court of Inquiry would be carefully studied and heeded in the future. The company had noted the fact that a quantity of inflammable material in excess of that permitted under the relevant order was carried on the Amana. I was assured that from the date on which the company became aware of that fact it took stringent steps to ensure that such action would not be repeated in the future. The company has also taken steps to ensure that the draining of the weathercocks shall be carried out under expert supervision. I do not think that I can add anything further to what the honorable member for Maribyrnong has said. I shall give careful consideration to his suggestion that courts of inquiry could, perhaps, be constituted in a more effective way. I shall direct the attention .of departmental officers to that suggestion for their examination of it. I conclude by again expressing my regret at the accident. I extend my sympathy to those who sustained loss as a consequence of it.
Question resolved in the negative.
– I have received the following communication from His Excellency the Administrator, of the Commonwealth : -
I have your letter of the 27th September containing the terms of the Resolution conveying sympathy to His Majesty The King and Members of the Royal Family in connexion with the King’s illness.
In accordance with your request the Resolution has been transmitted to London by telegraph for His Majesty’s pleasure.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison; proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I direct attention to a matter that relates to immigration. Yesterday, the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt) said that the Government desires to encourage a greater proportion of immigrants who are suited to agricultural and horticultural ‘ pursuits. I believe that that view is supported by many people in the community. However, it does not appear to be in line with ideas which are prevalent among prospective emigrants from thu Netherlands. During the last few days one of my constituents told me that through an organization which assists Dutch persons to emigrate to Australia be had been in touch with a young man named Adam Pot, who is an expert in horticulture. My constituent is a man of substance and he is prepared to employ and provide a home for this young
Dutchman. However, although both of them have made many inquiries in the matter, they do not seem to be making progress. The circumstances of the case arc set out in a letter which I received from a man named Meulenbelt, who, incidentally, is an Australian citizen resident in Holland and who, whenever the opportunity offers, assists Dutch people to emigrate to this country. The letter reads - 29 Boardstreet.
Many thanks for your letter of the 30th of August. Both Mr. Pot and myself are very grateful to you for giving yourself so much trouble to secure his services but so far, it looks very much as if our combined efforts will be of no avail after all.
When you wrote this letter Mr. Pot was already in touch with the Labour Office here as the tide has turned to New Zealand since hundreds of prospective migrants for Australia got word that they had no chance for along time to come. When Mr. Pot wrote whether he should have a chance to emigrate to New Zealand after having been rejected, the Embassy replied that they could see no reason why he wouldn’t be successful this time. After receipt of your letter however he made a last effort stating, if passage money was the cause of his rejection, he could also overcome that trouble as somebody would gladly assist him in this matter. The Embassy wrote, “ As I have made clear in my earlier letters, there is at least a strong element of doubt about your prospects of migrating to Australia. At the best you could not expect any results for some time. In the circumstances, I think it would be wise for you to proceed with your application for migration to New Zealand.”
Three months ago I was besieged with demands for lessons by emigrants and had to put many on my waiting list. During the last three months not a single migrant with Australia as his destination has come to me for lessons. Australia, once the rage is not even mentioned now and rejected migrants are wild about it. Being in close touch with many.I could write a volume about it!
As Mr. Pot takes it very much to heart and is still most anxious to help you build up your business in Brown Hill.I must leave finalarrangements entirely in your hands. Pot decided that if you were successful to clear all hurdles for him and if he were accepted for Australiabefore he had to sail for New Zealand if all went well, you can rely on his coming to you as soon as he should beable to do so.
Pot is a fine lad an expert, thoroughly reliable, honest, steady and a tiger for work. Would be a splendid acquisition. I shall very much regret his departure where he might go.
Yours sincerely, ( Sgd . ) MEULENBELT.
I suggest that the Minister, bearing this case in mind, should make a statement with respect to the procedure that has to he followed in arranging for persons in Holland to emigrate to Australia. Certain administrative requirements must be fulfilled, including the supply of photographs of the prospective immigrant. The constituent who has written to me does not wish to go to the trouble of fulfilling those requirements unless he has reason to believe that his efforts will be successful.
– I am rather astonished to hear the details which the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Joshua) has just placed before the House. He referred to an apparent drying up of the flow of Dutch immigrants to Australia. That is contrary to advice that has been given to me by officers of my department. I appreciate the honorable member’s motive in raising this matter and also the manner in which he has done so; but he may be interested to learn that during the year before the present Government took office fewer than 1,000 Dutch immigrants came to this country whereas because I, myself, believed that the Dutch would make admirable settlers in this country, approximately 12,000 Dutch came to Australia during the first year after the Government took office. According to my recollection of the advice given to me by officers of my department, the rate of flow of Dutch immigrants is increasing to such a degree that it is anticipated that during the current year approximately 25,000 Dutch settlers will reach Australia. I, for one, welcome that development and I am sure that it will bo applauded by all honorable members.I am glad to be able to say that no group of immigrants has been better received or morehighly commended in Australia than have immigrants who have come from the Netherlands. I cannot recall a single complaint relating to . Dutch immigrants having reached me from any part of Australia, On the contrary, reports that I have received from all parts of Australia indicate that they are excellent settlors and are being assimilated in the community. I wish to encourage the flow of Dutch immigrants to Australia. I should bts very concerned to learn that through any .misunderstanding in the Netherlands, or because of any unwarranted delays on our part, persons wishing to come here from Holland are so discouraged that they are obliged to look to other parts of the British Commonwealth. If the honorable member will supply me with the text of the letter that he has read I shall cause inquiries to be made into the matter and shall endeavour to speed up the immigration of the young gentleman to whom he has referred.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Apple and Pear Organization Act - Fifth Annual Report of the Australian Apple and Pear Board) for year 1950-51, together with Statement by Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
Australian Broadcasting Act - Second Annual Report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for year 1049-50.
Commonwealth Bank ‘ Act - Appointment Certificate - M, B. Moorfield..
Papua - Report for year 1949-50.
Public Service Act - Appointment - -Repatnation Department - F. C. H. Ross.
Services Trust Funds Act - Royal Australian Air Force Welfare Trust Fund - Annual Reports for years 1948-49 and 1949-50.
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired - Caringbah, New South Wales.
House adjourned at 4.58 p:m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
r asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
When can the honorable member for Hume expect a reply to the question regarding federal boards and commissions placed upon the notice-paper on the 3rd July, 1951 ?
– The question asked by the honorable member for Hume involves a great deal of detailed inquiry. As the honorable member knows, many hoards and commissions created for specific purposes are not placed under the. control of the Public Service Board, but are responsible to respective Ministers. Consequently, to obtain recent figures for the honorable member, it has been necessary to circularize all departments and ask them to furnish the required information in respect of bodies under the control of their Minister. Replies from departments are almost complete and I hope to be able to answer the honorable member very shortly. I would emphasize, however, that honorable members who require a great deal pf up-to-date detailed information should expect some delay before the answers can be furnished.
h asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable members questions is as follows : -
I believe that a deputation, which included Mr. S. P. Lewis, president of the New South Wales branch of the Teachers Federation, visited Canberra on the 17th July, 195.1. No member of this deputation had an interview with me.
e asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister forCommerceandAgriculture, upon notice -
Economics in making surveys of costs of production in rural industries (a) invite evidence from all interested parties including consumers and (6) require evidence or submissions made to it to be given on oath?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 September 1951, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1951/19510927_reps_20_214/>.