20th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker. (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 11.30 a.m, and read prayers.
Mr. JAMES presenteda petition from 3,175 citizensofKurriKurri,New South . Wales,, praying that the Houseexpress its disapproval of theconversion of aclothing factory atKurri Kurri into a drill hall.
Petition received and read.
– Recently a deputa- tion representative of British immigrants waited upon the Minister for Immigration and requested that the Government, make certain concessions with respect to tariff charges at immigrant hostels. I ask. the Minister whether Cabinet has yet made any decision on that matter?
– After the deputation to which the honorable member has referred waited uponme, I gave some considera tiondepartmentally to that matter. I have submitted some views on itso the Treasurer for his consideration and that ofhis department. As soon as theGo- vernment is in a position to make astatement on the subject,itwilldoso.
Mr.WILSON.- Has the Minister for Immigration yet had an opportunity to give consideration to the suggestion that kitchenettes should be provided at immigrant hostel’s to enable resident’s at such establishments to do their own cooking?
– That matter has received consideration. I have indicated publicly that I am not enamoured of the proposal that kitchenettes should be established in what is intended to be temporary accommodation. Obvious reasons for that view will, no doubt, appear to honorable members. Our experience in the. past has been that the conversion of temporary accommodation to permanent usage has not left a very satisfactory legacy for the people of this country.Thatismymain objectiontotheproposal,butIshould liketobeinapositiontogive the honorable member a considered reply, and I shall takean early opportunity to do so.
– I direct to the MinisterforExternalAffairs a question relativetothestatementonforeignaffairs thathemadetothe House yesterday. I ask him why he persists in such dreary recitals of vague generalities, which succeed in putting, even the most alertmem bersonbothsidesoftheHousetosleep?
– Order ! That statement is outside the proper scope of a question.
– This is a most serious question. I. ask the Minister why the Housecannot have a vigoro.ua statement in rebuttal of the stories about germ warfare in Korea, with all the evidence for and against; the facts about the shocking muddleat the: Koje prison camps, with hostorical background on how the matter gotout of handhand detailsofthereme dies that were taken to correct the posi- tion; thelow-down on the protracted cease-fire negotiations inKorea, with, a proper analysisof the frustrations and mistakes responsible for the Hold-up, and of the real difficultiesof theUnited
Nations in these matters ; a profile of that quaint character, Dr.” Syngman Rhee, in relation to democracy in South. Korea; and, finally, something better than a precis of the developments nearer home in Malaya and Indonesia, instead of vague warnings about impending doom and traitors in the nest, and heavy handouts as dull as they are depressing?
– It has been found essential, in every civilized community, to have statements made from time to time by the responsible Minister, on the principal aspects of international affairs. For that reason, and also in order to improve the quality of debate in this chamber, of which we have just had an outstanding example, we established the Foreign Affairs Committee, with which honorable gentlemen opposite chose not to co-operate.
– That has nothing to do with the question that has been asked.
– It has a great deal to do with it. Had the honorable member for Parkes been a member of the committee, he could not possibly have made a statement on the lines of that which he has made. As I have said, it is essential for honorable gentlemen on both sides of the House to follow the principal aspects of foreign affaire with some knowledge and intelligence. All the matters which I covered in my statement yesterday are of first-class concern to Australia. The business- of foreign affairs does not consist merely of a few top-secret matters. It involves also an intelligent study of the complicated details that make up foreign affairs in the world .to-day. It would be of no value for any one country, especially a country not immediately concerned, to make a statement in rebuttal of the germ warfare propaganda. Yesterday, in answer to a question, I save as complete a rebuttal, on the scientific side, of that propaganda, as could be made. An impartial investigation of the germ warfare stories would do moTe good than an ex parte statement from any country, however well based’ such a statement might be. Other matters in connexion with foreign affairs can be dealt with from time to time by means of statements to the House, but until honorable gentlemen opposite choose to co-operate with the Foreign Affairs Committee we shall,
I am afraid, get unintelligent, partypolitical, biased statements, such as that which the honorable member for Parkes has made.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration-
Conversation being audible,
-Order I I must ask the House to maintain order during question time. The only alternative is to call on the business of the day. It is utterly impossible for me to hear what is going on and to know whether questions are, or are not, in order. I shall have to take action if honorable members persist in disregarding the standing order which stated that honorable members shall not converse in the chamber.
– Has the Minister for Immigration seen a report which indicates that the officials of the Newcastle Trades Hall Council are arranging a reciprocal visit for parties of Russian and Australian trade unionists, to their respective countries, to take place next year? “Will the Minister say what interest the Government intends to take in the matter? Is it the intention of the Government to provide facilities of travel for Australian trade unionists that will enable them to travel behind the Iron Curtain? Does the Government also intend to make vises available to Russian trade unionists, to enable them to visit Australia? If the Government has no interest in the matter, will the Minister say so, in order that there will be no recriminations later on?
– It is not customary for Ministers to discuss hypothetical situations, and certainly not by way of statements of Government policy. No change has been made recently in Government policy on the matters to which the honorable member for Shortland has referred. Such matters are examined in the light of all the facts as disclosed to us when the situation arises. I remind the honorable gentleman of the action which has been taken in the past in such circumstances. It has been our practice to restrict the entry to Australia of persons who have been considered a security risk to this country, or in respect of whom other difficulties have developed. For example, some Chinese delegates sought to come here recently, and one of the reasons for their exclusion, apart from the security aspect, was a doubt whether arrangements could be made for their return to their own country, because Australia has not officially recognized the Chinese Communist Government. I have already made the attitude of the Government quite clear on our own position.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that many radio stations in Australia are broadcasting programm.es which have apparently originated in the United States of America? If such is the case, will he inform me whether any dollar commitment is involved in obtaining those programmes? If dollars are required to pay for them, does the honorable gentleman consider that, in view of the economic situation, they should have priority in the allocation of dollars ?
– I do not know whether the honorable member refers to the rebroadcast of the “Voice of America “ programmes, or to other kinds of programmes.
– My question refers mainly to programmes broadcast by commercial radio stations.
– Until I am acquainted with the kind of programme which the honorable gentleman has in mind, I cannot give a satisfactory answer to his question. If he will give me the details, I shall obtain the information for which he has asked.
– Will the Minister for External Affairs inform me why no Australian ambassador has been appointed to the Republic of Ireland since that office was created ? Is it a fact that Australia has appointed ambassadors to the Republic of Indonesia and the Republic of the Philippines, and that similar appointments are about to be made to the Kingdom of Siam and other Asiatic countries? In view of the fact that few nationals of these countries reside in Australia, why is preference shown to them when no ambassador has been, or is likely to be, appointed by this Government to the country from which at least a quarter of the present population of Australia is descended ?
– I may not have grasped the full purport of the honorable gentleman’s question, but I think that I understand the general trend of it. It is a fact, unfortunately, that we have not yet been able to appoint heads of missions to certain embassies and legations abroad, including the Australian Embassy in Dublin. The Australian Embassy at Djakarta, in Indonesia, is at present in charge of a charge d’affaires.. We have a legation, not an embassy, in the Philippines, and a similar situation exists at Bangkok, in Thailand.
Conversation being audible.
– Order ! I ask the Acting Prime Minister to consider calling on the business of the day. Apparently honorable members cannot maintain silence during question time. I have had enough.
– Not much more than that can be said. The Department of External Affairs is designed so as to build up adequate seniority and experience in individuals in order to enable them to fill overseas posts as they become vacant. At the moment the department is not fully capable of producing all the individuals that we require as Ministers and ambassadors to fill our posts throughout the world. Therefore, from time to time, and to as limited an extent as possible, we have to call on individuals from outside the Department of External Affairs. The filling of our positions abroad is under my constant consideration.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral’s attention been drawn to the fact that the Peace in the Pacific Committee that has recently sponsored a delegation to Peking is now inviting signatures to a document supporting its objectives? Is it a fact that people are being invited to contact the organization through a telephone number that is listed as the telephone number of the Australian pOStal Workers Union, (Sydney? fins this telephone .been provided by the Postal Department for the (convenience of the union, and are the postal authorities in ‘any way connected ‘with the -use of the telephone and the office for the purposes that I have mentioned’?
– The Peace in the Pacific Committee is a Communist.inspired organization and the Communists have .all their organizations working in support of it. The .secretary of the Australian Postal Workers “Union, .in New South Wales is a w.ell-known Communist, and is apparently using the facilities of his -union for the purposes Te erred to by the -honorable member. The .Postal Department lias not provided the union with £nee telephones, and .consequently the facilities being ,used by .the union arn being used at .the expense .of the union members, whose funds are being utilized for -that purpose. I believe that -the vast majority, perhaps 99 per cent., , of the employees of the Postal Department arc entirely loyal, and that they probab’ly have no knowledge whatsoever of the -way in which their union funds are being used for the purposes mentioned by .the honorable member,
– Will the Minister for Supply inform the House whether the proposed Australian Hartnett car is in the process of manufacture? Is the company that is concerned with the manufacture of the car in partial or full production, when will Hartnett cars “be available for the Australian people and at what price will they be sold’?
– My ‘department’s interest in the .Hartnett , ca,r is limited to the extent to which that car might be used for defence purposes. Therefore, 3 have no detailed (knowledge of (the project. I have seen a Hartnett car travelling ion the roads in Melbourne, but I do not know whether it is in general production, and I confess that I .do not know which Minister would have .detailed knowledge of it. I .shall have the matter raised by .the honorable member investigated, .and furnish him .with a written answer to his question.
– Has *e Minister for Labour and National Service any information to -give the House concerning the alarming position that seems to be developing -on the waterfront?
– There are two developments that I think will be of interest :to the House. The first is the initiation of some legal proceedings by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board, under instructions from the Australian Government. In those proceedings the board is asking the court to suspend the operation of the attendance money provisions .during the continuance of the .overtime ban that has been imposed by the union. It will be generally .agreed that it is .quite .inconsistent that .there should be a continuance of a benefit of this kind during .a period when the union is indulging in direct action .against the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The second development has been a statement issued by the gen.er.al -secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, Mc Healy, which purports to cover this issue. It is .a .specious statement compiled by a man >who is undoubtedly one .of .the leading Communists in the industrial sphere in Australia and who has a capacity for the plausible and attractive presentation of the facts as he sees them. As I have repeatedly pointed out in this House, the tactics employed by Communist leaders in the industrial field for many years past have been to ‘seize on what appears to be an industrial issue and use it as a means to unite, in support of Communist purposes and objectives, those who would not associate themselves with Communist policies if they knew that was the .direction in which they were being led. It is about time that the rankandfile Australian unionist realized the implications of the courses along which the -Communists have been leading him, I have told the House previously that at least 90 per >cent. of the working days lost in .Australia through industrial disputes arise directly from Communist influence in those disputes. ;Surely (by mow the Australian worker Iras come to realize (that improved living standards can .come .only from ,his own productive efforts and the pursuit of a steady course of work.. I consider that not only the Government but also the people are entitled to ask the.Australian Labour party and its representatives in this Parliament where they stand on these issues- and whether they are prepared to assist to open the eyes of the Australian trade unionist to the path along which he is being, guided by Communist leaders.
– I desire to- ask the Minister a question about the alarming position, on the waterfront at Port Kembla in. connexion with unemployment. Is it. a fact that,, although, with the exception of one day, attendance, money has been paid to waterside; workers ac that port since the 14th May, and that on- the 26th May attendance money was. paid: in. 194 cases,, the Waterside Workers Federation has been- fined ?500 foa? refusing to allow its members to work overtime.? In view of the’ fact that, the men at Port Kembla have refused to work overtime because theydesire that available work shall- be spread, over the whole of the men who offer themselves for employment, will the Minister take steps to exempt them from. the effects, of the. fine? I have a. list of the number of days. on. which attendancemoney has been paid.. If the Minister would like to see it, I am prepared, to hand it to him.
– I have received a letter from Mr: Stewart, the representative o? the Waterside- Workers Federation- at Port Kembla. I think I have before me the information to- which the honorable gentleman has referred. Doubtless h& is aware, that one- of the factors, that have contributed to the present shortage, of wor.k on the waterfront at Port- Kembla, rs the. serious- industrial disturbance that lias existed in that neighbourhood for some, time because- other unions there have, been on strike in protest against the margins decision.
– The same- position, obtains, in- Sydney..
– By no> means! to- the same degree. It is- true that recently attendance money has> been paid! to> waterside’ workers in. Sydney on- a: number of. days but obi many days when the overtime- ban operated there was a serious’ shortage, of. labour on the Sydney waterfront. If the honorable member for Cunningham isi concerned about the employment situation, I suggest that a speedy settlement of the strike at Port Kembla would do much to relieve it. If he is suggesting that, because there is a surplus of labour at this port, no penalties should be imposed upon the waterside workers in respect of the continuation of the ban on overtime, I point out that that might be a very good reason for the organization to- approach, the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and. ask for a variation of its. award. We are not concerned with the merits, of any dispute. We have taken action because there has been a wilful defiance of the court and. a refusal to accept the arbitration system.
Mr. Duthie having asked a disallowed question,
– Order !’ The question obviously should be placed on the notice-paper. I have ruled time . and again that questions addressed to Minis,ters in the Senate must be asked upon notice.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration, in- -view of recent discussions concerning the issue of passports in Australia-, whether the Government had any consultations with the security authorities in relation to- the procedure- adopted in issuing passports: te Australians who wish1 to travel abroad’. If so-, is th& procedure’ in accordance withthe recommendations of those authorities ?.
– Tt& Government has had consultation’s’ with the security authorities over a lengthy period’ on this difficult problem’. I first examined the matter when I found1 that numbers of Australians were going abroad to- visit Communist, countries and to attend conferences’ behind the Iron Curtain-. I had little doubt that their activities- were- not in the. best interests of the Australian people, and I considered the- matter with a view to- determine the action- that might usefully be taken to safeguard Australia’sinterests!.. I. have already told the House of some of the practical difficulties- tha.t arose in these cases. We adopted a procedure, in consultation with the security authorities, under which passports contained a restrictive provision in relation to their validity. The restrictive provision was that the passports should not be valid for use in certain specified countries, which may be defined broadly as the Iron Curtain countries.
– Was China included?
– China, Korea and IndoChina were included. That provision is still applicable to passports issued by this Government. We made it clear that we should be prepared to consider applications made by persons so travelling for permission to use the passports in those countries and that, when it was considered proper so to do, we should give the necessary permission. But we found that, in practice, the only effect of the restriction was to penalize bona fide travellers, whose movements overseas the Australian Government would not wish to hinder in any way. The decision whether a person shall be admitted to one of the countries to which I have referred is made, not by the Australian Government, but by the recipient country. If that country desires to issue a vise or to give some other form of permission for a person to cross its borders, we can do nothing to prevent it from doing so. The only effect of the action that we took was to make it very difficult for Australians travelling in Europe to secure necessary travel facilities. Therefore, after further consultation with the security authorities, we evolved the present procedure. The restriction still stands; but, when an application has been made to us and the broad purpose of the mission has been stated, we give permission for the passport to be used in those areas. I conclude by saying that the present arrangement has the full approval of our security authorities. We do not run all the risks. As a result of the movements of persons overseas, we have been able to gather useful information.
Mr. Turnbull having ashed a disallowed question,
– I cannot allow the honorable member to proceed as he is doing. The question must go on the notice-paper. That is the proper place for it.
– I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs concerning Australia’s participation in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. In the Supply Bill (No. 1) 1952-53 which was recently before the House, £5,900 was set aside as Australia’s contribution under that agreement. Will the Minister prepare a comprehensive statement on Australia’s involvement and commitments in the scheme as this matter is of vital concern to Australia’s economic security? A number of conferences have been held at which Australia has been represented, but no report has been presented to this Parliament, and there is considerable doubt on how far Australia is concerned in the matter. Some light should be thrown on the subject, which is of much concern to a number of industries.
– The matter concerns not only my department but also the Department of Trade and Customs, the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, and the Department of the Treasury. I shall collaborate with those of my colleagues who are concerned in this matter, and ascertain if a report can be provided on the lines that have been indicated by the honorable member.
– Can the Minister for Labour and National Service inform the House of the use that is being made of the machinery which was provided by this Parliament last year for the conduct of trade union elections under the supervision of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court?
– I think that I may say with truth that very extensive use is being made of those provisions, and that the results have given widespread satisfaction throughout the trade union movement generally. The Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia, the Federated Clerks Union of Australia and other organizations have made use of the machinery. I gave to the House recently, a statement to the effect that at least seven applications had been made for the use of the provisions to which the honorable member has referred, and information which has reached me suggests that even more extensive applications for the ballots to be conducted under the auspices of the court will be made in future.
– Will the Treasurer give consideration to a review of provisional tax in cases of income for the current year where income is substantially lower than it was for the year 1950-1951 ? I ask this question because I have been informed that certain business people have applied for a review of provisional taxation and their applications have been refused by the departmental officers.
– The Taxation Branch must have had a very good reason for refusing an application in an instance in which it could be proved that a taxpayer’s income of the current year was substantially less than his income of the preceding year, which was the basis upon which provisional tax was assessed until the relevant act was amended recently. I shall look into the matter that the honorable member has raised to see whether anything can be done about it. I am confident that the Commissioner of Taxation is sympathetic to any request in respect of which it can be proved that hardship, inconvenience or financial embarrassment will be caused by the payment of the proportion of tax which ultimately would have to be refunded.
– Two American aircraft engineers have arrived in Australia for the purpose of purchasing gun parts of American design on Royal Australian Air Force derelict aircraft for re-use in the United States of America. I ask the Minister for Air whether the Government will also consider selling to these American representatives hundreds of disused aircraft engines and engine parts that have been discarded and are resting at many Royal Australian Air Force aerodromes throughout Australia.
– I have not been advised officially of the visit of any United States engineers for the purpose of purchasing gun parts from the Royal Australian Air Force. However, if we can make any substantial contribution to the cause of the United Nations by making such parts available to the United States of America we shall be only too happy to do so. I doubt whether American authorities would find that any equipment that the Royal Australian Air Force has discarded would be of value to them, because the Royal Australian Air Force has invariably ensured that any equipment that might be valuable to it shall be taken from obsolete machines and stored for future use. I assure the honorable member that if we can be of assistance to the American authorities, we shall co-operate fully with ohern in this matter.
– In view of the facts that the price of butter is included in the “ C “ series index and, consequently, substantially influences the statistician’s figures that are used in the determination of the basic wage, and that it is clear the retail price of butter will be substantially increased in the near future, I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether it is the intention of the Government to increase the butter subsidy in order to keep down the price of that commodity as a check to the inflationary spiral that is so seriously affecting the Australian economy.
– I am not prepared, when replying to a question without notice, to make a statement of policy with respect to the matter that the honorable member has raised. However, I can say that the Government intends to maintain a substantial proportion of the consumer subsidy for butter which, during the greater part of the current year, amounted in the minimum to ls. l£d. per lb., but, due to the attitude that certain State governments adopted, amounted to ls. 11-Jd. per lb. for a period of three and a half months. In other words, due to the actionofthosegovernments,consumers intheStatesconcernedwereableto purchase butter for a period of three and ahalfmonths at a price that was1s.111/2d. per lb.lessthanthecost of production, whilstallconsumers,throughouttheyear, wereabletopurchaseitatapricethan was1s.11/2d. per lb. less thanthat cost. Wehave never been obliged to take such action in respect of the price of any other commodity. Onbehalf of the Government, I have invited State Ministers in charge of prices toconferwith me in Melbourne next week withthe object of discussing an aspect of the ‘Government’s offer, which is acceptable to the dairying industry, which involves the transfer to the Commonwealth of power to control the price of butter at the factory during the period for which the Commonwealth guarantee will operate. I should not be acting courteously towards the State governments if I were to reveal the precise amount of the consumer subsidy that the Commonwealth intends to provide. The States regard that matter as being of primary concern to them in respect of ‘the proposal that they should transfer that limited power to fix the price of butter atthe factory during the operation of the guarantee. The figures that have already been assembled with : respect to the increase of the cost of productionof butter during thecurrent year show that ithas been less thanthe increase that has occurred in eitherthe wholesale or the retail index.
Bill returnedfrom the Senate without amendment.
Bill returned from theSenate with a message intimating that it didnot insist on its amendment, disagreedtoby the House ofRepresentatives.
Mr,. SPEAKER(Hon. Archie
Cameron). - Ihave received fromthe honorable member for Martin(Mr. O’Connor)an intimationthat he desires tosubmit adefinite matterof urgentpublicimportancetotheHousefor disccussion, namely -
Theadverseeffectofthesaleor disposal in anyformoftheCommonwelathowned ships on thebest interests of the peopleofAustralia.
EightHonourable membershavingrisen insupport of the proposal,
Mr.O’CONNER(Martin)[12.13].Any proposal by the Government todispose of Commonwealth-owned ships should be approached froma national stand-point. TheGovernment’s attitude in respect of this subjecthas Deceived great prominenceright fromthe time thatthe proposal was first made,on the18th July, 1950, when the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale)had discussions in Melbourne with private shipping interests. That was the beginning of the negotiations for the disposal of Commonwealth-owned ships. The Canberra Times of the 28th November, 1951, reported that aCabinet subcommittee, whichconsistedof f our Ministers, had been setup todealwith this matter, and, from subsequentreports, it would appear that theGovernment is now preparedto dispose of its ships, and that the only matter that is holding up the negotiations is thequestion of price. The Opposition views this position with alarm. One would imagine that the experience ofpast governments would havebeen sufficientto warnthisGovernment that it should approach a proposal ofthis kindwith extreme caution. The sordid historyof the disposalof the former Australian Commonwealth Lineof Steamers is well known. Not only were those vesselsdisposed of ina sordid manner, but that action also had catastrophiceffects upon our economy. One result of it was that at the outbreak of the recent warour shipping position was so deplorable that it seriously retarded the developmentof our defence potential. Considerations of geography make Australia dependent upon shipping, and therefore allaction todevelop and conserveour ships should be favoured by theGovernment. However,on this occasion,as on all other occasions on whichit deals withgovernment instrumental ities. theGovernment displaysno concern about theneed to conserveour shipping. Ithastakensteps todispose ofthe shaleoil project atGlen Davis. It hasdisposed of Amalgamated
Wireless (Australasia) Limited. lj -was prevented from disposing of Trans-Aus-tralia Airlines only because of public reaction against its proposal. Without doubt, the Government’s stocks .are so low to-day that not 40 per cent, of the people would support it, A recent gall up poll has revealed that the Government’s stocks today have f.allen to a level below that of 1943. I have no doubt that the people are more seised of the necessity to -retain the Commonwealth:owned steamers in a healthy condition than the Government is. Overwhelming as the reaction pf the people was in relation to the Government’s proposals to dispose pf TransAus=tralia Airlines, it would be more devastating in relation .to any proposed disposal of the government-owned ships.
The development of our shipping is essential from both the point of <view of efficient transport and that of defence, but a powerful pressure group in the Government can see no virtue in government instrumentalities. It seems to consider that private enterprise is .entitled to take whatever profits it can -make f rom such businesses as shipping. The privately owned shipping companies of Aus- (Talia are only concerned with making profits and their record in relation to the provision of amenities for their employees is shocking. Only since the inauguration of the government shipping .service has any substantial progress been made towards providing suitable accommodation for the crews of .ships. A -recent industrial, dispute in Sydney arose from the unwillingness of private ship-owners to provide proper quarters for . crews. The approach pf ship-owners to that need calls for .the strongest condemnation. The people who -maintain that private enterprise has an .exclusive right to make profits without government interference d,o npt hesitate to accept government s> ssist.a-n.ee in the form of subsidies or tariffs. They do not object to -taking the people’s money in that way.
We should be proud of the develop.m.ent of ,our .shipping industry in -the last ten years, because, although it began from scratch, it has proceeded so far that w.e are -now able to meet our own shipping needs. The chipping industry had formerly been .allowed to go to rack and m&K, -amd it was necessary for .the Labour
Government that was elected to office in 19-4J to start all over again. It was only as the result of .the clear-cut and vigorous policy pf that Government that the ship-building industry in this country is now capable of meeting pur own mercantile needs.
From 1945 until six months ago the Australian Shipping Board sustained losses that amounted to £7,000,000, but in the last six months of its operation it has made a profit pf £600,000. ~ The actual worth to the nation of a government shipping line cannot be assessed on a purely monetary basis. A great deal of money had to be expended “ to launch the “industry and enable it to reach its present position. Although the Labour Government insisted tha.t ships -for use on the Australian coast be built in Australia, it was very generous in its attitude to private ship-owners, a-nd gave them a subsidy of 25 per cent, towards defraying their costs. To-da-y, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has four ships on order. Because of the subsidy that it will receive from the Gorvernment, -in accordance with the Chifley Government’s legislation, it will, in effect, have to pay for three .of those ships only, and -the government subsidy will -pay for the fourth. Government supporters seem to lose sight of -that fact, and speak only of the losses that the board has sustained. In view of the board’s profit in the last six months, it is impossible for -the .Government to -maintain justly its content tion that it should dispose of governmentowned ships.. A major factor in the board’s losses -was the necessity for it .to charter ,ships from overseas. At one time it had 27 .ships on .charter. That number has now been .reduced .-to seven ships, and the board is making a profit. Had it -npt chartered ships fi;om overseas in previous years, many pf the essentia! goods that were carried in these ships .would still be awaiting transhipment, and pur national development, which relied to a great degree on -the transport of essential materials, would have been delayed.
The shipbuilding industry is of .primary importance to Australia. Certain Go.?vernment supporters are prepared to dispose of Commonwealth-owned ships to private -shipping .companies, which contend .that they should ;not be obliged to compete with government-owned vessels in the coastal trade. Private enterprise also considers that the Government should protect it against competition from overseas vessels. Obviously, the companies are seeking a shipping monopoly. The Australian shipbuilding industry compares favorably with that of any other country.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Daly) negatived -
That tile honorable member for Martin (Mr. O’Connor) be granted an extension of time.
.- I support the remarks of the honorable member for Martin (Mr. O’Connor). Government-inspired articles in the press state that if a satisfactory price can be arranged, the Government will sell to private shipping companies the majority of the 34 vessels that comprise the Commonwealthowned fleet. The effects of such a sell-out would be grave indeed, especially for Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania, which are dependent on a regular shipping service to carry a big variety of essential but non-payable cargoes. The first bad effect of a sell-out of Commonwealthowned ships could be a decrease of the total tonnage of cargo ships operating on the Australian coast. Approximately ISO ships are owned by 80 private companies, and about one-half of those vessels are more than 25 years old. They are out of date and inefficient. Their handling gear is obsolete, and is one of the reasons for the slow turn-round. The space is shockingly cramped, and the accommodation provided for the crew is antiquated. The owners of those vessels will soon be forced to replace them, and, therefore, they are looking longingly towards the modern vessels that are owned by the Commonwealth. If the private companies could purchase those vessels, they could scrap their oldest ships, and reduce the overall tonnage of Australian shipping. Such a reduction would have a disastrous effect on Australia as a whole, and particularly on Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania.
I come now to the second grave effect of a sell-out of Commonwealth ships. At present, many of the nine “ D “ class ships of 2,500 tons are carrying interstate coal, ore, gypsum, cement, timber, wheat, pyritic concentrates, and potatoes. The freight-earning potential of such cargoes is low, but the Australian Shipping Board and the Traffic Committee direct the vessels to move those cargoes which are so vital to secondary industry and the rural industries, regardless of whether a loss is sustained in the running of the ships. The Commonwealth-owned vessels, like the railways, ‘ are sacrificing profits in the interests of the vital needs of the States. “ Need before profit “ is the slogan. Freights are kept low to assist the industrialist, farmer, and consumer. Would private enterprise load ships with non-profitable or non-paying cargoes? Certainly not! Freights on such cargoes would be forced up, or the non-profitable cargoes would not be handled if better paying cargoes were available. The sellout of Commonwealth-owned ships to private shipping monopolies could cripple trade, threaten the economy and cause great uncertainty among producers. The 34 ships which are owned by the Commonwealth at the present time go where they are needed most, not where profits are greatest. That vital principle would be abandoned if the ‘Commonwealth ships were sold to private enterprise.
The sell-out of Commonwealth-owned ships would have a grave effect on the economy of Tasmania. That State has an income of £79,000,000 a year, and of that amount, not less than £51,000,000 worth of products is exported. Only 15 per cent, of goods manufactured in Tasmania is consumed in that State. The remaining S5 per cent, is exported principally to the mainland States. Cheap hydro-electric power has attracted more than 300 industries to Tasmania since the end of World War II. Exports from Tasmania to the other States include fresh fruit, fruit pulps, jams, potatoes and vegetables, fish, hops, woollen textiles, zinc, copper, bronze strip, pyritic concentrates for the manufacture of fertilizers, carbide, tin ore, timber, scheelite, cement and paper. The value of Tasmania’s exports to the mainland States was £21,335,695 in 1949-50 and £26,870,398 in the following year. The economic existence of Tasmania depends on an efficient, regular and flexible shipping service.
Tasmania imports manufactured goods, foodstuffs and raw materials including clothing, groceries, gypsum, salt, machinery, building materials and wheat. Indeed, Tasmania imports 2,600,000 bags of wheat, or 130,000 tons annually. The value of the imports of that State was £25,609,000 in 1949-50, and £30,317,498 in the following year. Trade increased by 150 per cent, from 1939 to 1949-50, and, naturally, that increase made great demands on snipping services. Had Commonwealthowned ships not been available since 1941, the development of Tasmania would have been greatly retarded. The claim that ship owners would, in all circumstances, provide services between the mainland and Tasmania is not borne out by experience. I shall cite three examples to indicate the attitude of private shipping companies to the provision of new services.
Up to 1947, private enterprise did not provide a direct service between Brisbane and Hobart, or expand trade in pyritic concentrates from Strahan to Melbourne. Shipping companies did not provide for new export trade in sulphuric acid from Hobart to South Australia. Since 1947, the Australian Shipping Board has come to the rescue, and provided Delungra, Dubbo, Dandenong and Delamere, all of 2,500 tons, for the service from Hobart and Launceston to South Australian wheat ports. The board has provided Denman for general refrigerated cargo between Hobart and Brisbane, and a direct service from South Australia to Devonport for the gypsum and salt trade. Another direct service has been provided with the “ E “ class vessels, Elmore and Euroa from Strahan to Melbourne for the transport of pyritic concentrates. A tanker Ramsdorp of 550 tons, has been made available to transport sulphuric acid between Hobart and South Australia. That is the formidable and splendid record of Commonwealth-owned ships in giving five specialized essential services.
The claim that the interests of Tasmania would be safeguarded if the Commonwealthowned vessels were sold to private enterprise is hollow and unconvincing to farmers, exporters and im porters. The statement that private enterprise would do the job as well or as consistently as the Australian Shipping Board is not borne out by the facts that I have given. Eleven companies trade sporadically with Tasmania, but not one of them operates vessels regularly from all Tasmanian ports to all principal ports in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. The States of Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania would suffer irreparable economic harm if the Commonwealthowned shops were sold to profitdominated private companies.
The Commonwealth fleet of ships, which was started by the Labour Government during the last war, includes the following classes of vessel: - Thirteen “ A “ class or “ River “ class ships of 9,000 tons, which cost £8,208,000; two “ B “ class ships of 6,000 tons, which cost £1,000,000; nine “ D “ class ships of 2,500 tons which cost £3,380,000; and five “ E “ class ships of 600 tons, which cost £761,000. The total cost of those 29 vessels was £13,349,000, and their present value, even when allowance is made for depreciation, is £17,795,000. If we add to this list five other vessels of a total value of £2,150,000 that were purchased during the last two years, and four vessels on order overseas to cost £2,700,000, we shall find that the fleet of 38 Commonwealthowned ships will be valued at £22,645,000. To sacrifice those ships at reduced prices to private owners would be a crime against morality, ethics and economics, and one that the Australian people would neither forget nor forgive. The Government has already sold two ships by tender to two companies in Australia, and two “ B “ class vessels will be sent overseas as soon as possible. Only the difficulty of finance has prevented the complete sale of our ships to private shipping companies, .because the Government even offered to accept 20 per cent, down of the purchase price, and the balance in easy instalments.
The losses incurred by government ships were dealt with by the honorable member for Martin (Mr. O’Connor), who showed that most of the losses were incurred during the war when we were carrying freights of all kinds at a very low cost. However, the Australian Shipping Board’s losses have declined, and to-day our ships are making a profit. So now the Government cannot argue about losses in socialistic undertakings as the reason for selling our ships, whose record in the coastal trade in war and peace has been as magnificent as has been the efforts of their crews and officers. To sell out now would be a sop to big business for the Government’s failure to de-socialize other government enterprises like the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority, the Commonwealth Railways, the whaling industry, Trans-Australia Airlines, and the aluminium industry. Governmentowned ships are fundamental to Australia’s economy and the ships are modern enough to handle all varieties of paying and non-paying cargoes, not necessarily with profit, but with service to our consumers and producers as their motive.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Martin (Mr. O’Connor) and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) have told us a very attractive story from their point of view. However, it would be far more interesting to all concerned if they had told all the facts. The honorable member for Wilmot said that it is necessary, in the interests of Ismailia, that there should be an efficient and regular shipping service. With that statement one certainly must agree. However, the fact is that when private enterprise was controlling the shipping industry before the war, there was a regular fortnightly service from Hobart to Sydney and back. What can the honorable member for Wilmot say about the present Tasmanian shipping service? Sometimes six weeks and sometimes months elapse between the sailings of vessels between Hobart and Sydney. If it were not for the fact that the Australian Government is subsidizing Taroona by the sum of £1,000 a trip, there would be no passenger service at all from the mainland to Tasmania, despite the existence of the line of Commonwealth-owned ships. If the honorable member for Wilmot wants to make a real contribution to the solution of our shipping problems, he should try to prevent the wharf troubles and other troubles that are the real reason why our shipping services are so inadequate. Now let us consider the difficulty in respect of not only Tasmania, but of all other ports around the Australian coast.
– Would the Minister inform honorable members whether the Government is trying to sell Commonwealth ships?
– The Government will give the right honorable member an answer to that question at the proper time. I am Minister for Civil Aviation, and I have often visited Melbourne and examined the types of cargo that arrive by air from Tasmania. It is quite apparent that at present aircraft are carrying more heavy cargo from Tasmania to the mainland than are ships, despite the existence of the Commonwealthowned ships. Aircraft are carrying cement, zinc, and all types of other heavy cargo. If that is an example of the benefit that we derive from our ships then it is certainly not a very good example. Moreover, every piece of fruit brought from Tasmania to the mainland is carried by aircraft. The real causes of the failure of the shipping industry to cater for the needs of Australia at the present time are the strikes that have occurred on the waterfront - not only on the wharfs but in the ships as well. Last year, for example, because of strikes on the wharfs, more than 2,250,000 man-days were lost, of which more than one-third were lost because of political strikes organized by Communists. For example, mere were strikes organized in protest against Sharkey’s imprisonment. Strikes of that type are holding up the turnround of ships on the Australian coast, but very little is ever said by the Opposition about that sort of thing.
If we are to do anything to meet the requirements of trade we must make better use of the vessels that we have, whether they are owned by the Government or by private organizations. Before the war ships used to be two days at sea for every day in port. In this year of grace, 1952, a ship is two days in port for every day at sea. In 1939, when there were no Commonwealth-owned ships, almost 9,000,000 tons of cargo were moved by ships around Australia each year.
– I rise to a point of order. The matter before the House raised by the honorable member for Martin is -
The adverse effect of the sale or disposal in any form of the Commonwealth-owned ships on the best interests of the people of Australia.
I ask what relationship the Minister’s remarks have to that matter. The Opposition wants to know whether the Government proposes to sell Commonwealthowned ships, and if so the conditions under which the sale is to be effected.
– Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has drawn my attention to the matter before the House. The honorable member for Wilmot said quite a lot about Tasmanian shipping services. The matter of shipping troubles does not fall strictly within the terms of the reference, but I ask the Minister, having replied to the honorable member for Wilmot, to come to the matter before the House, which is -
The adverse effect of the sale or disposal in any form of the Commonwealth-owned ships on the best interests of the people of Australia.
– The Minister has Corn.munism on the brain.
– Order ! The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) must not interject.
– The honorable member for Martin dealt at length with the alleged benefits that have accrued to Australia through the line of ‘Commonwealthowned ships. He also spoke about seamen employed on ships in general. If seamen and others engaged on Commonwealth ships appreciate the amenities or. Commonwealth-owned ships they ought to be more loyal to them than they are. The principal concentration of strikes and stoppages around the Aus- tralian coast to-day, is upon governmentowned ships. The honorable member for Martin said that many amenities were granted as the result of the operation of ships by the Commonwealth. If that is so. the men employed should appreciate them more. At the present time the Commonwealthowned ship Daylesford is lying in Sydney Harbour. Despite all the amenities that have been so generously given. to seamen, that ship has been lying in the harbour since the 13th March this year, although it is loaded with a cargo that was intended to be delivered in Melbourne before Easter. Because of various pretexts, all raised by union organizations, the ship has not been able to leave.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I congratulate the honorable member for Martin upon the temperate manner in which he made his speech. I am sorry that the reply to it has not been made in equally temperate vein. But, unfortunately, when I consider what has happened to the Australian shipping line, my blood tends to boil. If anybody should have given the Commonwealth ships a fair go, it is the Australian seamen, but they have deliberately selected those vessels for discriminatory treatment.
– Can the Minister refer to any examples?
– -Had the honorable member been listening carefully, he would know that I have referred already to SS. Daylesford, a Commonwealth ship that has been in Sydney Harbour with a cargo in its holds since the 13th March. The cargo should have been delivered at Melbourne before Easter.
– The vessel is not seaworthy.
– The experts of the Australian Shipping Board say that it is completely seaworthy.
– The ship-builders say that it is not seaworthy.
– Merely because a few Communist union executives declare, on one pretext or another, that a ship must not sail, the seamen refuse to take it to sea. These tactics have been employed consistently ever since the line was re-established. When the Labour Government was in office, the then Minister for Shipping (Senator Ashley) had to go to Darwin to tell the waterside workers who were holding up the SS. Culcairn that, unless the ship received better treatment from them, he would have to withdraw the service from Darwin.
This Government has obtained much better results from the line than the Labour Government obtained. It has converted a serious deficit into a profit for the time being. Unfortunately, the profit has been achieved only at the cost of increasing freight charges by 435 per cent. since the end ofWorldWar II. The freight rate from Sydney to Melbourne has increased from 18s. a ton in 1939 to over £6 a ton to-day, largely because of the conduct of the Communist-led Australian seamen. These facts should be made known to the public. The Government will carry out its decision in relation to the Commonwealth shipping line in its own time and in its own way, notwithstanding any motions that may be submitted by the Opposition. Its operations since it was re-established by the Labour Government have cost the taxpayers over £8,000,000. Offset against that amount is the profit that has been earned during the last eighteen months as a result of higher freight charges. This profit of about £400,000 reduces the net loss on the operations of the line to about £7,500,000. Because of the losses, shipping services to Tasmania have been almost abandoned. One vessel takes cargo to the island at intervals of about six weeks. The only passenger ship operating on that service is Taroona, which the Government subsidizes at the rate of £1,000 a trip.
– It is not a Commonwealth ship.
– No, but the Government subsidizes its operations. No member of the Opposition has been able to demonstrate that Commonwealth ships have improved coastal shipping services to such a degree as to warrant the loss of £8,000,000 that has been sustained on their operations. Unfortunately, the terms of the motion prevent me from dealing with other aspects of this subject; but the facts that I have stated should be sufficient to justify the Government’s decision. I hope that I shall have an opportunity to discuss the matter at greater length on another occasion. I move -
That the business of the day be called on.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Archie
Cameron). - As it is now past the time which is provided for “ Grievance Day Order of the Day No. 1 will not be called on this afternoon. The Committee of Supply will be set down for the next day of sitting.
Report of PublicWorks Committee.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1951, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which has been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House the results of its investigations, namely: -
The proposed erection of a telephone exchange and postal building at Southport, Queensland.
The work proposed is required to provide accommodation to meet development in local subscribers’ lines, trunk lines, longline equipment and automatic trunkswitching equipment, and to eliminate the present serious overcrowding and congestion in the postal building. The building will be a two-story brick structure, faced with local bricks over a concrete frame, and is to be erected in two stages. The first stage, which will be put in hand as soon as possible, will provide accommodation for the telephone exchange and the long-line and trunk-line equipment, and the second stage, about which a decision will not be made for some time, will provide a new post office, mail room and all necessary amenities. The committee, in recommendation 7 of the summaryof conclusions in its report of the 25th October, 1951, recommended negotiations with the State Government with a. view to obtaining additional land at the rear of the site. This aspect has been taken up by the Department of the Interior with the State authorities. The committee’s recommendations in regard to the provision of gardens and shrubs - recommendation 3 - and additional vehicular space at the rear of the building - recommendation 6 - are contingent upon the outcome of the present negotiations with those authorities.
The committee’s recommendations about special attention to seepage - recommendation 5 - the provision of suitable book cupboards - recommendation 9 - and the addition of showers - recommendation 10 - will receive attention in the preparation of working drawings. The committee’s recommendation that consideration be given to providing some additional strength to the footings so that the foundations will be capable of carrying more floors will also receive attention, in the light of the anticipated requirements of the Postmaster-General’s Department. The estimated cost of the complete project is £193,100, and of the first stage, £124,600.
.- The Opposition offers no objection to this proposal. It is always eager that something shall be done for Queensland, and is glad that the Government has realized at last that it has an obligation to that State. It is prepared to support the proposal, even though the telephone exchange will be erected in the electorate of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr. Holt, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
When I spoke on the motion for the second reading of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, I said that the Government intended to introduce legislation to amend other Commonwealth industrial laws by the insertion in them of provisions with regard to appeals similar to those included in that bill. I reminded honorable members of the agreement between the Commonwealth and New South Wales that neither party would introduce legislation to amend its Coal Industry Act without the consent of the other party. I said further that the Acting Prima Minister (Sir Arthur Fadden) had written to the Premier of New South Wales to seek the concurrence of the New SouthWales Government in the amendments that we proposed to make to theCoal Industry Act.When it became apparent that the consent of the New
South Wales Government to the introduction of legislation to cure what may bc regarded as the more controversial aspects of our legislation would not be received in time for the measure to be introduced during this sessional period, I communicated with the Premier and asked whether he would agree to the introduction of a measure that dealt only with one aspect of the matter. The Premier has now indicated, through his officers and by a telegram sent to me, his .concurrence in that course. I shall read the text of the telegram, because I understand that, in the light of the knowledge that the Premier of New South Wales has agreed to this course, the Opposition, having examined the matter, does not propose to delay the passage of the bill. The ‘telegram reads as follows: -
Following ‘telegram sent to Acting Prime Munster. Referring -your letter -23rd May my Government concurs in .accordance with preamble to Coal Industry Acts in Commonwealth’s proposal to amend “the Commonwealth Coal Industry Act to cure the constitutional difficulties arising from judgment of High Court in Aberdare case in manner indicated in second draft submitted to New South Wales Crown Solicitor by Commonwealth Parliamentary Draftsman. - Cahill, ‘Premier.
The purpose of the bill is to remove a doubt about the true meaning of section 34 of the Coal Industry Act, which has arisen from the recent judgment of the High Court in Aberdare Collieries Limited v. The Commonwealth. That case concerned the National Security (Coal Mining Industry Employment) Regulations. Under those regulations, the function of the Coal Reference Board is to “ consider and determine “ industrial matters. The High Court made certain observations on the meaning of those words, the effect of which was that they did .not connote the exercise .of the Commonwealth’s powers under the Constitution in relation to conciliation and arbitration. I admit that that is .-not .a point that -would occur to a layman. T.o most of us, the words “consider and determine industrial matters “ connote the exercise of the Commonwealth’s powers in relation to -conciliation .and arbitra tion. -However, there is :a doubt about the matter., -and that doubt has given rise to legal proceedings. I consider it ito he desirable in the interests of stability that a-t least the policy of the
Government .should be known, and that the powers that are available to the Coal Industry Tribunal should he explained. The same phrase “ consider and determine “ appears in .section .34 of the .Coal Industry Act 194.6, which provides that, subject to that section, the tribunal- >-that is the Coal Industry Tribunal - shall have power to consider and determine the types pf industrial disputes and matters that ure stated in the section. The sole purpose of the present measure is, therefore, to remove any doubts about the tribunal’s power insofar as its federal jurisdiction is concerned.- The bill is to be retrospective in its operation to the date when the Coal Industry Act first came into operation. The -reason for that, which is obvious, is to .cover .any awards that have been made by the .tribunal., i commend the bill to the House.
[-2,36 J. - The curious fact that the New South Wales Government has to approve of legislation to amend the -Coal Industry Act is due to the principle of that act that no amendment shall be made to it without the concurrence of the Australian Government and the New South Wales ‘Gove ram ent. As *the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) has said, the New South Wales Government has agreed to the proposal that is before the House.
The Minister has stated -that he wishes to amend the act in two directions. By far the more important of the two is ‘the amendment by which he proposes to set up a system of review .or .appeal from decisions of the special Gallagher Tribunal which deals with the coal industry. The Minister has .told the House that the New South Wales Government has disapproved of that proposal, or at least has not yet given its approval. That proposal is not before the House now. It is a proposal of supreme importance and when the Minister has had time to consider its implications, I hope that he will not go on with it because, on the whole, the present principle ha3 worked satisfactorily. .Some difficulties have arisen, but if & tribunal which can make final pronouncements is associated with the -coal industry, ‘all kinds of difficulties should be .expected.
The bill dealswith an anomaly in the act on thepoint of timing, which was reviewed by some judges recently. They interpreted the power to consider and determine industrialdisputes as though itwere a generalright to make an award governing the industry instead of being limited to the settlement of industrial disputes extendingbeyond the limits of oneState as it was intended to be. It is perfectly clear that the Minister’s proposal is to clarify somethingwhich was always the intention and which, if not clarified now, might be used for the purpose of trying to invalidate certain awards in the coal industry. Having considered this matter in principle, the Opposition will accept the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill -by leave - read a third time.
Debateresumed from the 4thJune (vide page 1381)on motion by Mr.
That thebill be now reada second time.
.- The longer I . remain , a member of this Parliament, the moreImarvel at the administrativeand legislativeblunders oftheGovernmentand,inparticular, oftheMinisterforCommerceand Agriculture(Mr.McEwen).AsIproceed with my attackontheWool Tax Assessment Bill, Ishalloutline,ina mannerwhich I hope willbebeyondchallenge, how sadlyandbadlytheGovern- ment has assessed the state ofmind of the wool-growers,thecountryand even the Parliament,inrespectofthe matter withwhichitdeals. In thebeginning,. honorablemembersshouldbegivena cleanpictureofthehistoryofthis measureandofthelegislationthatpre- eded it. The Minister, in hissecond- readingspeechgavean explanation thatwastooinvolved. I believe thatIcanclarifyitandshowtheprob- leminitstruelight.Ihopethathonorablemembers will bear with me because the measure involves : an attackon the greatest primary producing industryof Australia. Indeed, the economic welfare of the country depends upon that industry vitally at a time when honorable members of all parties are gravelyconcerned with the effect that the problemof production has had on Australia.
In 1936, the Lyons Government introduced at therequest of the wool industry, a measure bywhich a tax of 6d. a bale and a lesser amount on bags and fadges was imposed on all the woolthat was produced in Australia. The resultant fund was tobe hypothecated forthe purpose of wool publicity and of research into the use of wool. The measureprovidedthatthe authority which would spendthe money wisely and well should be the Australian Wool Board. I pay tribute to the board which performed its work mostefficiently. That taxation measure remained on the Statute Book until 1945. Iask honorable members to note that up to that time no provision had beenmade in it foracontribution by the AustralianGovernment. In 1945, theCurtin Government showed a real appreciationofthe economic value of the wool industry, of the possible impact ofsynthetic fibres on the welfare of the industry andofthe need to continue more scientifically the workofthe pioneers in thefield of research.Forthat reason and with the approvaloftheindustry, introduced the Wool Use Promotion Act1945. That act providedthat wool-growers should find 2s.abale onall the wool that wasproduced in Australia,and that, forevery 2s.so raised, theAustralianGovernmentshouldcontribute 2s. tothe fund fromConsolidated Revenue. Having regardto thevast increaseof theamount that the two contributorspaid intothecommon pool, andalso tothedistinction between publicity workandresearch work, it was decided todivide the fund between two separate (administrative authorities.The Labour Government provided thatthe AustralianWool Board shouldadministerpublicity and that the wool-growers shouldhavemajorityrepre- sentation on that body.That Government also providedthat research should be the responsibility of the Wool Consultative Council, which consisted of the Commonwealth Wool Adviser, who invariably was the Secretary of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, two grower-members of the Australian Wool Board, and representatives of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, woollen manufacturers, textile distributors, technical education authorities, the Australian Workers Union and the Australian Textile Workers Union. That body was to be presided over by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. It was also decided that funds for research should be allocated after consultation between the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction.
Up to date, the arrangements has worked admirably. The Australian Wool Board, of which Douglas Boyd is president, is a body of great competence. In its wisdom, it established liaison with wool authorities in South Africa, the United Kingdom, and other countries. The Wool Consultative Council also has performed its duties efficiently, but it has been handicapped because of its inability to procure adequate buildings, equipment and scientific personnel. We find, to-day, that the Australian Wool Board has done its work so well in its efforts to combat the menace of synthetic materials, that its expenditure has exceeded by £150,000 its revenue, which it derives from the growers whose contribution is supplemented on a £l-for- £1 basis by the Government. On the other hand, the expenditure of the Wool Consultative Council has fallen short of its revenue by £900,000. The set-up that the. Curtin Government established has worked splendidly. That Government recognized that the importance and value of the wool industry warranted its making a contribution on a £l-for-£l basis to the funds of those organizations in respect of publicity and research.
In view of the. fact that that system has worked efficiently, honorable members naturally ask why the Government should find it necessary at this stage to introduce this bill the purpose of which is to assess and increase a wool tax. I admit that on the administrative side, as the Minister has pointed out, it has become necessary to make certain changes. Joint Organization, which was formed in 1945, provided an excellent tax collecting medium, and in order to enable it to be utilized for that purpose, legislation was passed under which the taxing machinery of the Wool Tax Act was embodied in the Wool (Contributory Charge) Act. Under the latter act, Joint Organization deducted from sums payable to wool-growers an amount equal to the revenue that had been made available to the two funds under the Wool Tax Act. To date, neither the Labour Government nor this Government has been guilty of any direliction of duty by contributing on a £1- for-£l basis to the funds of those bodies. As Joint Organization will cease to exist within twelve months it has become necessary to revert to the system of collecting such funds under the Wool Tax Act, and provision in that respect is being made under this measure. However, a strange state of affairs has arisen. At this critical time, when primary producers should be assisted to the greatest possible degree, the Government has taken the opportunity presented by the introduction of this bill to discontinue completely its contributions to this great industry in respect of wool publicity and research.
– That is not true.
– This bill contains no provision whatsoever for a payment to be made from Consolidated Revenue to either the Australian Wool Board or the Wool Consultative Council. That means that no provision will be made in this measure for a government contribution. Does the Minister agree that that statement is correct?
– Yet, when I said that no provision is made under this measure for. a payment to be made from Consolidated Revenue to either of these bodies, the Minister said that that statement was not true. The Minister is quibbling. No doubt, he will say that it is the intention of the Government to make a contribution to those funds. The Labour Government did not merely speak of what it intended to do. Under the
Wool Use Promotion Act 1945, it specifically provided for the payment from Consolidated Revenue of contributions to the funds of these bodies. Section 15 of that act reads - (1.) For the purposes of this Act, there shall be an account to be known as the WOOl Research Trust Account, which shall be a Trust Account for the purposes of section sixty-two a of the Audit Act 1901-1934. (2.) The Treasurer shall, in respect of every financial year, pay into the Research Account out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, a sum equal to the amount received by’ the Commissioner of Taxation in that year under the Wool Tax Act 1936-1945.
Honorable members will now see that what I am saying is correct, and that the Minister is incorrect. I repeat that under this bill the Government has completely abandoned the responsibility that the Labour Government accepted to contribute on a £l-for-£l basis to the funds of the Australian Wool Board and the Wool Consultative Council. The trouble in which the Minister finds himself not only on this occasion but also in respect of all his administrative responsibilities, results from his manifest endeavours to mislead the people regarding the intentions of the Government, of which he is a senior member, towards all primary producing industries. He has said that the amount of £150,000 by which the Australian Wool Board’s expenditure exceeded its revenue this year will not be made good from Consolidated Revenue, but that the Government will recoup that amount from the Wool Industry Fund. T assume that the amount of £900,000 by which the Wool Consultative Council has under-expended its revenue will reside in trust with that body until such time as it is enabled to obtain adequate equipment and scientific personnel to carry out research.
This bill not only provides for the re-enactment of the wool tax, but also doubles that tax. If the contribution by the growers of 2s. a bale is no longer to be supplemented from Consolidated Revenue, and, at the same time, the Australian Wool Board is to continue wool publicity work to the degree that it has done hitherto, it becomes obvious, having regard to the decreased purchasing power of money, that that body will require at least double the amount that it has expended in the past. As the growers will be obliged in future to provide the whole of the revenue that will be required by that body, they will, in effect, be obliged to contribute the equivalent of 4s. a bale on the basis of the present purchasing power of the Australian £1 in comparison with its value in 1945. Yet, the Minister and the Government never tire of proclaiming that the wool industry is the back-bone of Australia’s economy. All honorable members agree with that view. Therefore, the Government must be strongly condemned for its parsimonious attitude towards ‘the industry. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, piously said that it was the Government’s intention to confer with representatives of the industry within the next two months in order to see whether means can be evolved by which additional revenue can be made available to the industry for publicity and research. Although the Minister knows nothing about strategy, he is not entirely devoid of intelligence. The Government knew two years ago that Joint Organization was in the process of winding up, and that it would become necessary to revert to the system for the collection of wool tax that was provided for under the 1945 legislation. However, it has delayed taking action in that direction until to-day, when Joint Organization is almost defunct. I have no faith in what: the Minister has described as the intention of the Government. He has implied that the arrangement to be made under this measure will be of a temporary nature.
– For only one year.
– All I have to say to the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) is that any intelligent person who studied the problem could decide within half an hour the revenue that is required for the purposes of wool publicity and research, and, on that basis could immediately calculate the rate of tax that will be required to be imposed on the wool-growers and the proportion of the requisite funds which the Government should contribute in respect of its responsibility to this great industry. The Labour Government, at a time when it had to take into account obligations and difficulties that arose during the recent war, didnot hesitate to make clear its position in relation to the industry. ThatGovernment obliged the wool-growers to contribute at the rate of 2s. a bale and undertook to contribute on a £l-for-£l basis to the funds of the Australian Wool Board and the Wool Consultative Council. But this Government says that it needs twelve months in which to determine the course that it will adopt.For that reason, the bill will have effect for only twelve months from the 1st July. Thereafter the rate of wool tax will be prescribed in regulations. I do not know why it should take the Government twelve months to make up its mind. I do know, however, of the existence of a large amount of money in the Wool Industry Fund. The Minister probably discussed this legislationwith the Treasurer (Sir ArthurFadden), and pointed out that it was necessary to have legislative authority to collect this tax. I suppose that he also pointed out to the Treasurer that provision should be made for the Government to make a £l-for-£l contribution out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, so that it would be commensurate with the contributions of the growers. Then the officials of the Treasury probably told the Treasurer that it was suffering under great financial stringency because the Minister had got into deep waterwith the wool industry and the dairying industry, and had large trust funds under government control. I have no doubt that the Treasury officials recommended the present provisions because they considered that the wool industry was prosperous enough to shell out more money.
The Government has already taxed the wool industry twelve months in advance, and has dispirited wool-growers. In 1945 the Labour Government established a trust fund of £7,000,000 out of revenue that was derived from the sale of sheepskins and other products to the United Kingdom, from the repayments of the subsidy paid on cloth manufactured in Australia and subsequently exported, and from the sale of noil’s. The gentlemen of the Treasury know all these things.
They probably told the Minister that money in the Wool Industry Fundshould be used to relieve the Treasury of paying: perhaps £350,000 or £400,000 into the Wool Research Trust Account. That was perfectly legitimate advice for the Treasury officials to give.No doubt the Minister told the officials that the Government proposed to “ bite” the fund for £150,000, and the Treasury, of course, would be only too glad to agree to that. To do the Minister justice, I see no objection to such a proposal. Then the Minister thought that if the Government’s economic policy panned out well, and the Government did not have to bite into the fund, perhaps the Treasury would end up by contributing 4s. a bale towards the fund, on the £l-for-£l basis that operated under the Labour Government. What staggers me is that when the Wool Industry Fund Bill was before the Parliament in 1946, its strongest critics were the Minister himself and the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). They roundly condemned the Labour Government, which set aside an amount of £7,000,000 in a trust account to assist the wool industry. It would have been almost impossible to trace the ownership of that amount, but the Labour Government decided that it would be unfair to put it into the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Instead, therefore, it established a trust account for the benefit of the industry itself. The legislation provided that the fund might be applied in supplementing the moneys available under the Wool Use Promotion Act for the purpose of -
– Hear,, hear !
– It is not often that the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Roberton) applauds me. Let me say, in respect of item (g), that there was no (ultimate loss under ‘the Wool Disposals Plan, so the Government .cannot claim to be holding the money for that purpose. The amount held in the fund has grown to, probably, £8,’000,’000. I shall quote the Minister’s remarks on that bill, which are reported in Mansard of cbe 8th August, 1946. I shall not quote “him in extenso, because he is always longwinded, and the longer he talks the less clear he is.
– Order.! The honorable member need not make such a reflec11,lon on the Minister.
– Then I shall say that the Minister always speaks for a lengthy period, and that by the time he is finished nobody knows what he is talking about. This is what he said in respect of the trust fund that was established by the Labour Government - There is .nothing novel in this measure. It represents merely a further “ steal “ from another .section of primary producers.
This is the man who proposes to cancel out, for at least twelve months, an amount of money .that was hypothecated under the wool tax legislation to provide £300,000 a year for wool promotion. That is, iri effect, a steal.
– Order ! The word “ steal “ should not .be used in that connexion, although some honorable members may regard taxation as theft.
– Then I shall say it is filching money which, in the normal course of events, would have continued to accrue to the wool industry. The Minister himself described as a “ steal “ the 1946 provision to put this money into the Wool Industry Fund. It was not a steal, .but it was a wise provision at the time. In the -seven years that have elapsed since .the fund was established, the amount in it has probably grown to about ,£8,’0.00,000 ,as .a result of the accretion of interest. It is .not .likely ever .to be used in .connexion with the winding ,up of Joint Organization. The purposes for which it can be used by any government are -clearly laid down in the .original act. We (did -not .attempt to ingratiate ourselves with :the wool-growers by disbursing that “money when we were in office. Lt was left at .the disposal of this Government. If I were the Minister, and wished .to pay tribute to the wool-growers, I should say, even though it might not be politic for me to do so, “ This industry, over a long period of time, has been contributing 2s. a bale to this fund, and the Government .has “been contributing a similar amount, but because of the fall of the value of money it will be necessary for the .Government and the growers to contribute 4s. a bale each “. But the Government does not wish to contribute anything. I can understand its attitude, because I am aware of the financial position of the ‘country. I should say, further, if I were a Minister in this Government, and had faith in its financial measures, “Having regard to the satisfactory wool position, let us relieve both the growers and the revenue of “their contributions “. Of course, the Treasurer may be able to say to the Minister, You have frittered this money away in some other direction “. The Government of which I was ,a member was the target .of such .an -accusation. I should say further, “We have taxed the wool-growers heavily”. Let us take the necessary money for a period of one, two or three years out of the trust fund that was established in 1945 - which, incidentally, the Minister and every (Other honorable member on the Australian -Country party benches at that time described as a steal from .the woolgrowers. If it was a steal in 1945, then the Government now has the opportunity to restore to the growers the money that was allegedly (Stolen from them by the Labour Government.
– Is that what the honorable member is complaining about ?
– I am not complaining, but I say .that if the Government is genuine and wishes to make a gesture to the wool industry by -.continuing along the .generous lines on which the Labour Government proceeded, it can adopt either one of two procedures. It can either increase .the .contribution to be made by the growers to 4s. (a bale, on condition that the Commonwealth’s contribution is of the .same total amount or it can abandon the system of contributions by both the Government and the growers and, for the time being, use at least some of the moneys that the Treasury now holds in trust, which Government supporters in former times alleged that the Labour Government had stolen from the growers.
– It is quite true.
– Well, the Government now has an opportunity to restore that allegedly stolen money, but the honorable member knows that it was not stolen from the growers. He knows that in respect of woollen goods manufactured in Australia from wool that was bought at the lower prices that resulted from the payment of a government subsidy, the full price was paid to the grower, and that when the manufacturer exported these goods he had to pay back into the Treasury the amount of the subsidy that had enabled the grower to receive the full price. Was that the wool-growers’ money?
– Of course it was.
– What rot! Of course it was not ! However, the Government now has the opportunity to support its words with deeds. As I have said, it can either increase the Commonwealth’s contribution and the growers’ contribution to 4s. a bale, or it can abandon both contributions for the time being. The money in the trust fund could then be used for promotion of the use of wool and for research purposes. We have seen how the Minister himself endeavoured to mislead us. When I obtained the adjournment of the debate I said to him, “ This will reduce the contribution of the Government “. He said, “ Yes “, but he did not say that it would eliminate that contribution entirely by statutory provision. In his secondreading speech he promised that something would be done in the next twelve months. He then said -
The Commonwealth will continue to make a substantial contribution towards research, and though at present I am unable to state precisely what the Government’s contribution will be. it will not be an amount appreciably different from that produced from the present 2s. a bale tax.
That will appeal to the Treasury, because it will see that he will not get any money. In effect, that statement means that the Government will do nothing in this matter. It intends to blame the industry for all its difficulties. So incensed were the wool-growers with the Government that the Treasurer was not game to attend a conference of woolgrowers at Ballarat, but sent the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to deputize for him.
– But we won the general election after that.
– The present Government parties will never win another general election. The Government has endeavoured to throw a sop to the growers by announcing that it has good intentions. Prior to the 1949 and 1951 general elections the Treasurer was just as full of good intentions as the Minister is now, but those good intentions have not borne fruit. The people, including the woolgrowers, are fed up with promises and good intentions. If I know the woolgrowers, they are now asking why the Government does not do as the Labour Government did, by providing legislatively for a Government contribution equal to that of the growers. But the Minister said -
Though at present I am unable to state precisely what the Government’s contribution will be, it will not be an amount appreciably different from that produced from the present tax of 2s. a bale.
Under this bill, the wool tax may be increased to 4s. a bale, and the Government, by regulation, may further increase the tax to 5s. a bale. It is doubtful whether, in law, the Government has power to increase the tax by regulation. The Minister also said -
It may be decided, as an alternative to a government contribution determined by the amount of tax a bale, to have a fixed annual contribution of a specified amount, say, for example, £350,000.»
The tax, when it was at the rate of 2s. a bale, yielded approximately £350,000 a year. At the rate of 4s. a bale, the tax should yield approximately £700,000 per annum, or, if Government supporters consider that my calculation is extravagant, they may agree that the yield will be approximately £600,000. Yet the Minister has announced that the Government may not make a contribution on a £1-for-£1 basis, but may limit its contribution to £350,000 a year. The Labour Government treated the wool-growers more generously than this Government proposes to treat them. The Minister continued -
The Minister is full of expectations. The Parliament and the people are entitled to expect from a senior Minister a more detailed explanation of the Government’s policy towards the wool industry. Woolgrowers expect from the Government, not promises, but action. Hang it all, any intelligent Minister could have made the position perfectly clear in a short time. No one doubts the intelligence of the honorable gentleman. In half an hour, he could have determined the policy in relation to this matter, and put it into operation. Yet, instead of doing so, he has presented to the House this half-baked proposal, which penalizes the wool-growers by an amount of 2s. a bale, and imposes no obligation on the Government to make a fair contribution to the fund. The Minister has merely made a half-hearted promise, on behalf of the Government, to make a fixed annual contribution of a specified amount which, subject to the consent of the Treasurer, may be £350,000.
The House should consider this bill on non-party lines. It will affect a great industry that has an incalculable impact on the welfare of every man, woman and child in the community. Let us divest ourselves of party political spleen in our consideration of this legislation, and deal with fundamentals. The wool industry deserves well of this great Commonwealth. Government supporters describe the Labour party as the socialist party. Be that as it may, the preceding Labour Government made from revenues provided by workers, business men and professional men alike, a contribution to the wool-growing industry. Moneys that could not be satisfactorily identified were hypothecated to a trust fund. Such moneys were not used for socialist ventures but were held in trust for use by the Labour Government or the pre sent Government to benefit the wool industry. Honorable members opposite may call us socialists if they like, but we did not mislead the people, and, in due course, we shall reap our reward.
.- As a private citizen, I wondered for some years what was the matter with the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. After having heard what the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who is a former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, has said, and considered what he has left unsaid, I am not astonished that the department should have been regarded by the man on the land as one of the most tragic features of the previous Administration. For more than half an hour, we witnessed the clowning of the honorable member for Lalor on a bill that is merely a machinery measure. His speech fairly dripped with party political spleen, and he seized the opportunity to criticize the Minister for Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) for the purposes of party political propaganda. Can there be any wonder that the wool industry was fed up to the teeth with the administration of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture before the general election in 1949, when such a man was at the helm? His speech showed how low the morals of the Labour party have sunk. I make that statement unreservedly.
The first part of the speech of the honorable member for Lalor was a repetition of the Minister’s second-reading speech. Then the honorable gentleman reached a point at what he thought he had discovered an omission. For a long time, he accused the Minister of having deliberately withheld any government assistance from the wool industry, and of having no intention of granting assistance to it, because provision was not made in the bill for the granting of such assistance. He glossed over the fact that the bill has been introduced at a time when it is possible to make a transition from one system of collecting money foi the Wool Use Promotion Fund to another system. The time is convenient for the change, because the last wool selling season has been completed, and the next season has not yet commenced. The bill simply changes the- system for the collection of moneys for the promotion of wool sales’, and research, into, wool and synthetics. The old system was based on the wool contributory charge. The bill restores the original arrangement,, under which a tax was imposed, on. every bale for the. purposes of wool use promotion.
One fact; about, the wool contributory charge requires explanation in order to remove a misconception among woolgrowers. The contributory charge was originally i per cent., of which -J per cent, was allocated, for the purposes, of Joint Organization,, and -J per cent, for wool use promotion. Last year, the contributory charge was increased to 7£ per cent., of which 7^ per cent, was for the wool reserve price scheme, but many people did not realize that, the 7£ per cent, included the original contributory charge of i per cent. When the moneys represented by the Pei” cent, were returned to wool-growers, they thought that the other i per cent, had been, retained by the Government in order to meet costs, associated with the wool reserve price scheme. I mention that matter now, because it is important for woolgrowers to understand that the i per cent, which was retained out of the 74 per cent, was divided equally for- wool use promotion, and as a contribution to the costs of Joint Organization. The money was not retained for the purposes of the- wool reserve price scheme.
The bill, as’ I have stated, merely changes the- collection of the money from one system to another system: The- Minister has explained, in his second-reading speech, that the Commonwealth proposes to- make a substantial contribution Jowards wool research, but he has pointed out that he is unable to. state- at the present time the precise amount of the contribution. There’ is nothing guarded or sinister about that statement. The Minister has been perfectly open. He says, in effect, “I cannot tell you now;, and I am not prepared.’ to include in the bill, the exact amount- that the Government is’ prepared to contribute, but it will not Be an amount appreciably different- from that collected from the present tax of 2s. a bale’”. That statement is’ not equivocal. The Minister means that; he may decide^, as an alternative to- the Government, contribution determined by the amount of: tax- on each bale, to make a fixed annual contribution of a specified amount. In. other words, the wool-growers will know exactly how much the Government will pay into the fund.
The wool-grower is a proud, man. He has always demonstrated his independence. He does not. ask for assistance from a man like the honorable member for Lalor. He has not had, and does not expect, any assistance from the honorable gentleman. The wool-grower has said repeatedly that he can run, and wants to run, his own show. When the tax was originally imposed, he was prepared to contribute 2s: a bale; in. order to advertise wool. The International Wool Secretariat was established to give publicity to the use of wool throughout the world, because synthetic fibres threatened at that time to take the place of wool. The wool-grower will not come cap-in-hand to the Government for consideration, but he- will be grateful for any assistance that may be given to him. Representative organizations of the industry such as the Wool and Meat Producers Federation, the Australian Wool Growers’ Council and the Graziers Federal Council of Australia, have suggested’ that the tax should be increased to 4s. a bale,, because the costs of wool research have increased’. They regard’ expenditure on wool use promotion as- money that has been wisely expended. The Minister has definitely stated’ that the- Government’s decision on the amount of its contribution will be made bef ore the next sessional period of the Parliament, which will begin in a- few weeks. Section 15’ (2.) of the Wool Use Promotion Act will’ then be amended to give effect to that decision.
The honorable member for Lalor’ spoke sarcastically of the Government’s- good intentions. I remind him that the preceding’ Labour Government, in which he was- Minister for- Commerce and Agriculture,, filched £7,000,000 from the woolgrowers, and did not. propose to’ return that money to- them. If was only after that action had1 been strongly condemned by wool-growers- that the Labour Government decided that the money should not be lef £. in Consolidated1 Revenue but should be paid into a special fund.. The honorable member’ for. Lalor had ito occasion to make such a long speech on a simple bill’. Obviously, he hoped to gain some party political advantage from his. remarks. He had no1 ideas for improving the bill, and made no attempt to expedite its passage through the House. His attempt to discredit the Minister failed completely, because the Minister has earned great credit for the manner in which, he has administered his department. I support the bill.
– The honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) said that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) had treated the House to a clowning act. That was an unfair and improper comment upon a speech that caused Government supporters great discomfiture. The honorable member for Lawson tried to dismiss the bill with the explanation that it was merely a machinery measure, the purpose of which is to change the collection of certain moneys from wool-growers from one system to another. That description of the bill was not correct by any means, because it is not merely a machinery measure. The honorable member for Lawson did not point out that one purpose of the legislation is to increase the present rate of tax on wool from 2s. to 4s. a bale, and perhaps to even 5s. a bale. In those circumstances, the bill can hardly be described as merely a machinery measure. In addition, the measure will discontinue the principle established by the Chifley Government in 1945 that for every £1 contributed by the wool industry a similar amount should be made available from the Commonwealth revenues for research purposes. That was a definite contribution to the welfare of the wool industry, but the Government has made it clear that it no longer intends to continue that contribution. It is well to emphasize that point as strongly as possible.
In the Wool Tax Act 1936, the tax imposed was 6d. a bale. That sum was contributed by the wool-growers to provide publicity and research in respect of the wool industry both in Australia and abroad. That legislation continued until- 1945 when the Chifley Government, realizing the requirements of the wool industry in Australia, adopted the principle of contributing something from the Commonwealth revenue, a principle that has- been recognized until to-day. The Chifley Government decided that the tax should be increased to 2s. a bale, and agreed to make an equal contribution to the funds so raised for the purpose of research. This measure will impose an extra burden on the primary producers at a time when an increased primary production is necessary, and when the wool-growers in particular are feeling the effects of lowered prices and the burden of the provisional tax system.. At such a time they are to be forced to shoulder an added burden. The Government is just as unable to make up its mind about this matter as it is about any other matter. In order to excuse itself for having proposed the imposition of an extra burden on the wool industry, it says, in effect that although the tax on wool is to be doubled the additional tax will operate for only one year, at the end of which time the matter will be reconsidered. That is a typical illustration of the way in which this Government has dealt with many matters. It cannot make up its mind. Why does it not impose the tax and stand by its action? Has it grave doubts about the popularity and justice of the measure, and is it adopting this procedure in order to give itself time to make up its mind finally? The Minister, in his second reading speech, admitted that the: Government was not able to make up its mind about this matter, because he said -
I should mention that in approving the increased rate, the Australian Wool Growers Council suggested that it should be struck for one year……
Therefore, the Government passes the buck to the Australian Wool Growers Council and suggests that its own indecision about this matter should be laid at the door of that body. That shows clearly that it accepts no governmental responsibility. The Minister also said - (These people) pointed out that various moneys contributed by the wool industry now administered by the Government, for example the Wool Industry Fund, . . . should be examined with a view to determining whether, by the use of some of these moneys, the rate of tax could be reduced below 4s. a bale.
It is not very often that a government doubles a tax and at the same time one of its responsible Ministers makes excuses and holds forth the promise that in the near future it may be possible to reduce the tax. The Government is aware of the existence of the Wool IndustryFund, and is giving itself twelve months to make up its mind whether it can use the £8,000,000 or so in the fund for the benefit of the wool industry instead of making the growers pay the 100 per cent. increase that is to be imposed. It is necessary to clear up a misconception about the fund that was caused by the honorable member for Lawson when he referred to the source of the Wool Industry Fund, and suggested that this money was “ filched “ from the wool-growers. It has been said that this fund of between £7,000,000 and £8,000,000 belongs to wool-growers; that the Chifley Government had deprived the growers of that money, and should have returned it to them. The fact is that, as the Opposition has indicated, this money could not have been refunded to individual wool-growers because it was derived from the sale abroad during the war years of skin wools, wool tops, noils and waste. The only way in which the money could have been used for the benefit of the wool-growers was by having used it for the benefit of the wool industry in general. If honorable members on the Government side believe that it was filched from the wool-growers, then for two and a half years they have had an opportunity to do something about it. The only thing that they have done about it is to propose an increase of the tax on the woolgrowers, and to retain the £7,000,000 or £8,000,000. Certain honorable members have criticized the Chifley Government for having accumulated the money, but I point out to them that the Wool Industry Fund Act 1936 recited the purposes to which it was to be applied. They are identical with those to which the 4s. a bale wool tax is to be applied.
Section 6 of the Wool Industry Fund Act 1936 provides -
The moneys standing to the credit of the Fund may be applied in any manner approved by the Treasurer, after consultation with the Ministers, for purposes associated with the wool industry and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, may be applied for any of the following purposes: -
Why is the money in the fund, which the Government says belongs to the woolgrowers, not being used for the purposes set out in the Wool Industry Fund Act 1936? Instead of doubling the amount of contribution, the Government should use the amount that has been accumulated for the purposes detailed in the act. Why does not the Government accept the responsibility of making up its mind instead of putting the responsibility upon a section of the woolgrowing industry? Apparently it intends to hoard this fund. As the honorable member for Lalor said, no doubt that is because the Government is preparing the budget at present, and knows that as a result of its own maladministration of the finances of the country it will be faced with very complex problems. Instead of using this money for the benefit of the wool-growers, the Government, because of its desperate need for money, is consideringw hether it can be devoted to other purposes that it considers more pressing.
The Government demonstrated its inability to make up its mind not only about the imposition of the tax, but also about the use to which the fund should be applied. This legislation will abolish the sound principle established in 1945 by the Chifley Government, but the Government will not say directly that it is scrapping the system ; instead, it casts the onus on a section of the wool-growers. That further illustrates the Government’s incapacity to make a firm decision on any important matter. In order to illustrate the inability of the Government to make up its mind, I shall read again from the Minister’s second-reading speech on this bill. The honorable gentleman then said -
The Commonwealth will continue to make a substantial contribution towards research, and though I am unable to state precisely at present what the Government’s contribution will be, it will not be an amount appreciably different from that produced from the present tax of 2s. a bale. “Why was the honorable gentleman unable to state the precise amount of the Government’s contribution ? He went on to say -
By that I mean that it may be decided, as an alternative to a Government contribution determined by the amount of tax a bale, to have a fixed annual contribution of a specified amount; say, for example, £350,000.
The Government has not made a decision yet. The Minister has merely said that it may decide to make a fixed contribution. He added -
I expect that the decision will be made before the next session of the Parliament . . .
We have been told that the next sessional period may begin in the not-distant future. If the Minister expects to be able to make up his mind before then, why could he not do so before he introduced this bill, so that the Parliament and the wool industry would have a definite indication of the Government’s plans ? The industry should not be left in a state of uncertainty. The matter is too important to be treated in this way. The amount of the Government contribution is of the greatest possible significance, not only to the wool-growers, but also to the whole of Australia, because it will be used to tackle the problems of the industry and to enable it to combat the threat of synthetic fibres, which grows more menacing as time passes.
The threat is so serious that the Government should not quibble about the amount of its contribution. So that honorable members will not underrate the threat of the synthetic fibre industry, I refer to an authoritative article that was published in the Sydney Daily Mirror on the 11th February last under the heading, “ Marked progress in U.S. Synthetic Fibres “. The article stated -
Two of the many new synthetic fibres which have been developed in recent years by the chemical industry are now in mass production in the United States and between six and ten additional fibres are on the threshold of commercial development, states the New York correspondent of the Financial Times.
The article summarized the nature of the threat to the wool industry and, therefore, to the economy of Australia at a time when we are largely dependent upon that industry for the overseas income that we need to maintain our balance of payments. It included the following interesting paragraph : -
Invasion of these new products into the last remaining stronghold of wool - the clothing, apparel and home furnishings fields - has already begun.
Wool and synthetic cloth mixtures are being used, notably in men’s clothing and rugs and carpets. The two currently mass-produced synthetics are orlon and dynel. The present manufacturing rate for orlon is 6,500,000 lb. annually and the rate for dynel is 4,000,000 lb.
The next paragraph described the programme that had been prepared for the expansion of the synthetic fibre industry in the United States of America. It stated -
Du Pont has now officially announced plans to erect a plant capable of turning out 30,000,000 lb. of orlon staple fibre a year and a further factory with sufficient capacity to produce 10,000,000 lb. of another new fibre, Dacron filament, and 35,000,000 lb. of Dacron staple.
That vast programme of expansion prepared by one powerful chemical corporation alone constitutes a serious threat to Australia’s wool industry. The article pointed out that the threat was serious, not only because of the large production programme, but also because of the high quality of modern synthetic fibres. On this aspect of the subject, it stated -
So far as all five fibres - Dynel, Orlon, Vicara, Dacron and Acrilan - are concerned, chemists’ and engineers seem satisfied with the necessary principal properties of the final goods.
They dye well, retain color well under severe conditions and many things can be done to them which are virtually impossible with wool.
The present state of development of those lib res which are ready is to find the most sUitable and economical uses for each and thus develop markets.
Much more could he said on this subject but the quotations that I have made are sufficient to warn the House of the seriousness of the danger. Considering the magnitude of the plans of the highlyorganized American industry, which proposes to produce millions of pounds of synthetic fibres each year, one would expect this Government, which prides itself upon its concern for the welfare of primary producers and which admits that there is an urgent need to increase primary production, to make more money available for research in the wool industry instead of reducing its contribution. The Government stands condemned in the eyes of the wool producers and all other Australians because of its failure to safeguard the basic interests of this great industry. The bill is not merely a machinery measure to provide for a different method of tax payment by the wool-growers, as the honorable member for Lawson claimed. It will double the amount of tax that growers are called upon to pay, and it will relieve the Government of a responsibility, which was undertaken by the Chifley Government, to contribute with the growers on a £l-for-£l basis to the Wool Industry Fund. For those reasons, the Opposition strongly opposes the measure.
.- The bill, as my colleagues have rightly said, provides a clear indication of this Government’s lack of administrative capacity. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), a former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, has charged the Government with betrayal of Australia’s major industry. The Opposition is not alone in its claim that the wool industry is Australia’s major industry. The claim is often made by Government supporters. They have talked at such length on this subject with such monotonous regularity that the people have become tired of hearing about the wool industry. But now, those honorable gentlemen are strangely silent.
They do not rise, as the representatives of the primary producers, to support this great industry. They do not insist that the Government shall shoulder ‘its obligations, as it should be made to do. The honorable member for Lalor reminded the House of the support that the Labour administration gave to the wool industry, and I need not reiterate that record. He clearly stated the history of the Wool Tax Assessment Act and mentioned the ways in which the Labour Government had helped the wool industry to engage in research work for the purpose of equipping itself to meet the threat of synthetic fibres and to solve its marketing problems.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke) has warned the Government of the imminence of the threat of synthetic fibres. The usually clamant members of the Australian Country party remain glumly silent while the Government continues to shillyshally in this desperate situation. It refuses to make a decision. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) has said that a decision will be made later. Perhaps it will be made a year hence, or perhaps it will never be made. The only hope for the wool industry is that the Government will be removed from office before it has time to make up its mind. Such a solution would also relieve the situation of many other Australian industries. I have read the report of the debate that took place on the bill that was introduced in 1945 on behalf of the Chifley Government. On that occasion, members of the Australian Country party in this House made speeches that were identical in sentiment, if not in quality, with the speech that the honorable member for Fawkner made this afternoon. They drew attention to the fact that the development of synthetic fibres constituted a challenge to the wool industry. Why have they no comment to make to-day, when the Government remains inactive in the face of the challenge? It is idle to say that the Government will make some financial contribution to the industry in the future. In the first place, such a vague promise does not justify the proposal to double the charge upon the wool-grower. In the second place, it does not give to the industry any indication of the amount of assistance that it may receive.
The Minister has said that the Government docs not intend to discontinue its contributions. Such an undertaking will not satisfy the primary producers who have invested their life-savings in the wool industry. A mere promise from a Minister with a record such as that of the present Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, must ring hollow in the ears of the persons to whom it is directed. The result of a Gallup poll that was announced to-day indicates that the people have lost faith in this Government, chiefly because it is ineffective and because it has broken so many of its promises.
– What was the precise result of the poll?
– I understand that it has so frightened members of the Government and its supporters that they are not game to let their voices be heard. The Labour Government originally undertook to contribute to the Wool Industry Fund at the rate of 2s. a bale. The people of Australia, through the Commonwealth Treasury, contributed money for wool research and publicity at the rate of 2s. for each bale of wool. They were asked to make that contribution because the wool industry is of great value to this country, and they agreed willingly to do so. The Australian wool-growers stated that they were willing to -pay an equal sum. Now, when it is proposed that contributions for wool research and publicity shall be made again, the Government says that it may make a contribution to that work, and that the contribution may be approximately £350,000. But the wool-growers will be required to contribute at the rate of 4s. a bale, or double the previous rate. They will not be asked whether they are willing to make a voluntary contribution at some stage or in some circumstances. By an act of Parliament, they will be forced to contribute for the purposes of wool research and publicity a sum of 4s. for every bale of wool that they sell. They may be forced to contribute at a higher rate, because the Government proposes to impose a wool tax upon them by regulation. The rate prescribed may not be less than 4s. a bale, and it may be as high as 5s. a bale. If the situation arose that the fund for wool research and publicity were short of money, this Government, which is confronted with a crisis with which it does not know how to deal, might provide the extra money that the fund required, but it is far more likely that, by regulation, it would force the wool-growers to pay an additional ls. a bale. Regulations of that kind are of doubtful validity, but that is a legal matter of which I have little knowledge. This measure reveals more than a lack of policy on the part of the Government. It shows that the Government has abdicated its duties and responsibilities.
When the wool tax was introduced in 1945 by a Labour government, the subject was discussed at length in this chamber. On that occasion, even you, Mr. Speaker, got into difficulties with the Chair, and you departed rather hurriedly from our midst. But, before you left, you pointed out that the wool industry was vital to the welfare of this country, and stated that the Government should contribute money for wool research and publicity. The honorable gentleman who represented New England at that time was at great pains to show the benefits that the wool industry bestowed upon this country, and stated that all Australian citizens ought willingly to make some contribution to safeguard the future of the industry. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) moved that the tax upon woolgrowers be reduced from 2s. to ls. a bale. During that debate, members of the present Government parties, who were then in Opposition, demanded a fairer deal for the wool-growers, although the Government of the day was prepared to make a contribution equal to that made by the wool-growers. But to-day, the members of those parties are prepared to permit this vital measure to pass unchallenged and undiscussed, although it is designed to impose a tax upon wool-growers twice as great as that which was previously imposed, and there is a very real possibility that the tax will be increased later by ls. a bale. The crisis that exists in the primary producing industries of this country has been caused by the indecision ofthe Government and bythe attacks that it has made upon primary producers in general, and upon wool-growers in particular. This is not the first attack that it has made upon primary producers, and I do not suppose that it will be the last.
Sitting suspended from4.5 to 8 p.m.
– I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 4th June (vide page 3373), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the following papers be printed: -
– I am obliged to the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Arthur Fadden) and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) for having given to me an opportunity to say something about the Minister’s statement on international affairs before the conclusion of the present sessional period. My observations will not cover the whole field of the Minister’s report, but I think that some aspects of it should be considered. The Minister’s statement contained quite a few general propositions with which I entirely agree. He said -
We are now an independent nation under the British Crown. We have full international status.
That is completely true. Australia earned that status over the period of the two world wars and since. The Minister said that isolation was a luxury. I should prefer to say that isolationism is dead, and that Australia’s membership of the British Commonwealth and of the United Nations represents the principle of international interdependence as opposed to isolationism. The Minister mentioned also the great expansion of Australia’s external affairs representation since 1940. I should like to say - and I think that the Minister might have said it - that that was largely the result of the initiative of the Curtin and Chifley Labour Governments.
– And by no means a praiseworthy effort.
– The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), who is the chief reactionary of the back benches on the Government side, must settle that dispute with the Minister for External Affairs, with whom on this occasion I am in agreement. Bounds cannot be set to the onward march of a nation, and I think the initiative that was shown by the Labour governments and is now being continued by the present Government was something that members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party a few years ago would not have relished and, in fact, would have opposed. Equally I think it is true that if our hopes were dashed and the worse came to the worst, and if Britain and its Allies and Australia were threatened by forcible aggression once again, quite clearly Australia would be on the side of Britain and the British Commonwealth against the aggressors. Those facts are so obvious that they amount to truisms.
What is forgotten is that the immediate objective of foreign policy is the prevention of war and not merely the readiness of adequate defence forces. I consider that to be a fundamental and correct point of view. Defence forces and preparations are necessary. The work of the Curtin and Chifley Labour Governments from 1941 to 1945 and their preparations in the post-war period when international conditions were much better than they are to-day proved the worth of Labour’s defence policy. The Labour Government’s £290,000,000 post-war defence programme in the years when money values were sound, and when the currency was not depreciated as it is to-day, was based on a balanced Navy-Air expansion. The great feature was the application of task forces, based on the United States models in the Pacific war, and including the most up-to-date research, the utilization of new weapons, and, not least, the development of the industrial potential of this country, including primary production of food, as an integral part of the defence effort.
Accordingly, it is Australia’s function in the performance of its duty to the United Nations and the British Commonwealth equally, to make its contribution on the diplomatic and political side to try to prevent the catastrophe of a third world war which, like World War II., could be almost as disastrous to the winners as to the losers.
The absence of this emphasis on positive action made the Minister’s statement quite unsatisfactory. He expatiated on some points with which everybody will agree. An example was the so-called peace conferences in Peking about which so much has been heard. Viewed impartially, they do represent propaganda gatherings. Normally they might be of little account, but their special danger is that they are calculated to weaken the morale and otherwise to disturb and confuse the solidarity of the United Nations forces in Korea, including the Australian forces. In that respect they are very different from similar peace gatherings which are not directly related to actual combat in existing combat zones. The comment on that point made by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) summarized the position. But it is not enough for the Government] the Opposition or the Parliament to condemn such gatherings. It is too easy to slip into the error that because Communists and sympathizers with Russia arrange gatherings and use slogan words based upon the desire of mankind for peace, our governments are freed from all obligation to tread the path of peace by limiting areas of conflict or dispute wherever that is possible. Australia is pledged under the United Nations Charter, and by every solemn declaration, to try to prevent a third world war, provided always that that can be done without the surrender of principle, without appeasement and without neglecting essential defence preparations in the meantime. I submit that that is the proper principle to apply. It has been enunciated currently by the leaders of the great churches of the world. Almost weekly a spokesman for a group of churches remarks that nothing is being done by governments for peace. They want’ something to be done, and they are free from any suggestion of Communist control or of anything savouring of disloyalty. The point was made recently by the leader of the Church of England, and the Pope made a similar declaration two days ago.
What is to be done and what can be done ? We should consider whether Australia can and should make some positive contribution. I believe that it should and that it must do so. Unfortunately the influence of Australia in the United Nations and its agencies is rapidly lessening, despite the fact that Australia’s military contributions in the two world wars and in Korea to-day, entitle Australia’s voice to be heard in all councils at the points where decisions of a political character are made.
– That is the first time that the right honorable member has mentioned that point.
– Let us apply this principle to the situation in Korea. That was a case of intervention by force on the part of the United Nations. What was the purpose of the intervention? Plainly it was to repel physical aggression by North Korea against South Korea. The decision of Australia to participate was made by this Parliament without dissent. Indeed, the Labour party has always acted . on the principle that the United Nations must receive firm support. Therefore, the struggle in Korea is a United Nations struggle. It is perfectly true, and must be recognized, that the United States of America has borne by far the heaviest military burden. In many respects it has been a very grievous burden indeed. That fact entitles the United States of America to assume practical leadership in the military and political issues which are posed by the Korean situation, but it does not disentitle Australia or Britain or other British Commonwealth countries from participating directly at all relevant points where military and political decisions have to be made.
The Minister’s statements have shown that Australia obtains information and, from time to time, expresses certain views. What Australia’s views are it is difficult to say. They were not contained in the Minister’s statement. I have repeatedly
It is argued that all the matters involved in the truce are purely military. The Minister has expressed that opinion in answers to questions. I say that they are not military. I ask honorable members to consider, for example, the proposed truce. The Minister’s statement made it abundantly clear that the Korean truce is being delayed substantially because of the dispute about the exchange of prisoners of war. That dispute is not a military but a political one which involves high principles of political and international policy. I admit that the problem is difficult. But what is the Government’s view upon it? The Minister has not given any positive indication on that point. It would be in accordance with humanitarian principles and ideals to give refuge to enemy prisoners of war in instances in which there existed fear of punishment, or reprisals, if they were repatriated. But the real question is whether this point of view should prevail against the ordinary practice recognized by international convention that prisoners of war shall be exchanged. Above all - there is a tendency to forget this - surely we have the solemn duty to protect and repatriate United Nations personnel, including Australian personnel, who remain in enemy hands. That problem is difficult and complex, but it is of supreme importance. ^
Dr. Evatt. «38
– I recognize that to be a fact.
– But what is the Government’s view on that matter? I do not pretend to state dogmatic views on this subject, because the problem affects so many nations whose forces are engaged in Korea. It must be faced not at the military level but at the political level of Ministers of State responsible to their respective nations ; and it should be dealt with by the representatives of all nations whose troops are fighting with the United Nations forces in Korea. The Minister interjected that the Government recognizes that aspect of the matter; but in his statement he simply said that it is being kept “ under close watch “. What is to be the Government’s policy? This problem should be thrashed out at the international level at a conference that should be called as early as possible for that purpose. The Minister should endeavour to arrange for such a conference to be held if the initiative is not taken in any other quarter.
Another aspect is the political settlement in Korea after the military success of the United Nations forces in sweeping North Korean forces back to their own territory. The Minister stressed the future importance of . the South Korean State. Indeed, he questioned whether the present Government of South Korea was not departing from genuine democratic methods. In effect, he rebuked the President of South Korea, Syngman Rhee.
– Hear, hear!
– I suppose that the view that the Minister expressed in that respect would be generally accepted. It is important to encourage genuine democracy in Korea. But let us remember that intervention by the United Nations in Korea was based not upon the democratic character of South Korea or the totalitarian character of North Korea, but solely upon the plain, naked fact of physical aggression by North Korea against South Korea. Regardless of political principles, the precise objective of intervention by the United Nations was to repel that aggression and to drive the North Korean forces and their associates back into their own territories. The Minister was correct in saying that “Aggression was, in fact, repelled “. From the military stand-point of the United Nations this was an important and, indeed, a great achievement. It was performed under great difficulties. Is it supposed, now, that democratic practices are not observed in South Korea? From the standpoint of the United Nations Charter, such a development in itself would make no difference in principle. What has happened in Korea is that by the brilliant strategy and command of General Douglas MacArthur, military aggression has been repelled and the North Koreans and their Communist associates have been thrown back. That is the main objective that has been achieved on the physical side. What is to be the next step? What are to be the objectives at present? What is the Australian Government’s policy in. this matter? The Minister, in his statement, did not supply any information on that point. He merely said that there is trouble with respect to the exchange of prisoners of war. What is to be the objective of the Government? Is that objective to be determined by the nature of the Government that may come into existence, or may remain in existence, in South Korea? We do not know. This is a matter for urgent international consultation and decision. I repeat that we fully recognize the leadership of the United States of America. That country has borne the burden and heat in a very difficult campaign. But the Australian Government, also has a duty to try to bring about a conference on the political level so that the objectives of the United Nations in the Korean struggle may be stated clearly and precisely. Australia must be represented at such a gathering along with the other nations that are represented in the United Nations forces in Korea. It is quite plain that a conference of that kind will not be called unless one of those nations takes the initiative in that direction. I ask the Minister to take such action as soon as possible.
– The cease fire must first be settled. [Extension of time granted.]
– The Minister says that the problem of the truce must be resolved before the objectives that I have mentioned can be dealt with. However, the truce is being held up by not military but political considerations. The problem is whether prisoners of war shall be given the right to say whether or not they shall be repatriated. That matter must be thrashed out not by generals as a military matter, but by the United Nations as a political matter. One of the great difficulties is that the presidential election in the United States of America is to be held at the end of this year. If for that reason settlement of this matter is further delayed, the position will be most unsatisfactory from the standpoint of the United Nations achieving its objective and from that of the safety of the forces engaged in Korea. It is saddening to think that the physical liberation of South Korea from military aggression has not been emulated by equally successful political action by the United Nations. Indeed, the Minister stated that communications to him indicated that the United Nations, as such, is not sufficiently active in this matter. The nettle should be grasped, and, as a matter of urgency, a meeting of the United Nations for the purpose that I have mentioned should be arranged as soon as possible.
I turn now to two other matters that the Minister mentioned. I refer, first, to the subject of Japan. The peace treaty with that country has now come into force. Australia is now at peace with Japan. Therefore, despite the strong objection that the Opposition expressed to the principle embodied in the treaty of unlimited Japanese re-armament, we should make every reasonable endeavour to bring influence to bear upon Japan in order to try to prevent any future aggression not only of a military kind, but also on the trade and economic side. Admittedly that task is difficult. But we believe that there are forces in Japan that are peacefully minded and that we should not ignore or discourage them.
Finally, I turn to the Minister’s reference to the setting up of a parliamentary standing committee . on foreign affairs on which the Government proposed that the Opposition should be represented. I shall remind the House about what took place in respect of that proposal. As an Opposition, we made constructive suggestions in order to strengthen the committee and to give to it a jurisdiction worthy of such a body. The Government refused to accept those suggestions. There is no identity of policy between the Australian Labour party and the Government on foreign affairs. Nevertheless, it would be absurd to say that a substantial area of agreement does not exist between the Government and the Opposition, as it exists between all Australians. Such agreement was achieved in time of war. Similarly, it could be operative at a time like the present^ when so many factors threaten the security of Australia. Unfortunately, the Minister displayed complete partisanship and refused to consider the terms of reference or the suggestions that the Opposition made with respect to the formation and functions of that committee. If the Government really desires that the Opposition should participate in the work of that committee, it should review the constructive suggestions that my colleagues and I placed before the House when that matter was under consideration.
.- The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), in his statement to the House yesterday, gave a comprehensive review of the salient features of the international scene that are of the greatest importance to Australia. The first impression I gained from studying his statement was that of the essential preoccupation of Australia with affairs in South-East Asia. This development is logical and, perhaps, inevitable. Geographically, Australia is the only Western democracy in this sphere. We are closer than is any of the Western powers to events in South-East Asia, and, consequently, we have a special interest in this sphere. However, we must not forget that two other spheres are of great and lasting importance to us. The first is Western Europe. I do not need to remind the House of our ties of history, kinship and culture with the United Kingdom. But the United Kingdom is also our principal market and source of supplies. Secondly, we are deeply concerned with events in the Middle East, through which our goods pass, both by sea and air, to Europe. However, to-day, we are directly concerned with events in .South-East Asia and that is the sphere in which our influence can be exerted most effectively.
The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), in his survey of the Minister’s statement, agreed with the principal bases of that statement, but said that he would like Australia to make a more direct diplomatic approach towards the prevention pf war, and particularly towards the settlement of the Korean conflict. I remind him that the basis of Australian foreign policy is to move in and with the United Nations. The Korean conflict is being dealt with by the United Nations and its agencies. The right honorable gentleman fully approved of that fact. We should continue our efforts to establish and maintain harmony between the countries within the British Commonwealth of Nations, and to win friends among the new democracies in our immediate sphere. We should assure them that they are wanted in the democratic field, and should keep them there. The right honorable gentleman referred to pleas that had been made by church leaders. All honorable members agree that the House should listen attentively at all times to the views that are expressed by church leaders. Unfortunately, some church leaders in Australia are not clear in their own minds about where liberalism ends and communism begins, where the religious sphere ends, and the political sphere begins. I consider that some of them have been the unwitting cause of great concern to some of their parishioners and also of a good deal of lack of understanding and assurance in the minds of many Australian people. The Leader of the Opposition has complained of the non-representation, at the truce talks in Korea, of the Australian and United Kingdom forces, but there is an essential confusion in his complaint between the military and the political sphere. To my mind it would be quite impracticable to have truce talks conducted by military officers of both the sides at war in an atmosphere like that of a political conference, or to have a body like the United Nations Security Council meeting in Korea and issuing daytoday instructions to the military leaders. The prime necessity is to reach a truce. That is a military affair. The second necessity is to work out the terms of a lasting peace.
I was disappointed to hear the Leader of the Opposition cast doubt on the validity of the United Nations determination not to return forcibly to the Communists any enemy prisoners of war who refuse to go willingly. Humanity demands that we should not force to return home about 62,000 enemy prisoners of war who have indicated plainly that they will go back behind the Communist lines only if they are made to do so by physical force. May I remind the House of the circumstances in which this United Nations decision was made. One hundred and sixty thousand prisoners of war who had been captured from the enemies of the United Nations have been asked individually whether they will return home willingly or whether the use of force will be required to send them back. About 62,000 of them stated that they would not go back willingly, and a plain assurance has been given to the Communist forces that, after a truce has been arranged, if one is arranged, an independent commission will be permitted to interview every one of those 62,000 prisoners and again put to them the question whether or not they wish to go home. I urge the Leader of the Opposition to give the most serious consideration to the possible effect of his questioning of this principle, before he again gives public utterance to it, because I fear that it may have quite serious consequences on the confidence of the Australian people in connexion with the validity of the decisions that are made by the United Nations in Korea.
Before I leave the subject of Korea, I shall refer once more to the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition that something in the nature of a political conference should be held in Korea. Has the right honorable gentleman forgotten the existence of the United Nations Coinmission for the Unification and Rehabilitation of Korea, which meets constantly” in Korea and on which this country isrepresented by one of its most senior diplomatic officers? He asks the Government not to forget that we have a responsibility to recover Australian prisoners: of war. Does he imagine for one moment that that responsibility has been, or is being, forgotten? He also asks what the Government’s policy is in relation to those prisoners. The policy is, plainly, to get them back as quickly as possible by any legitimate means that present themselves. But we must not ignore the unhappy fact that the negotiations over prisoners of war have disclosed that some thousands of United Nations prisoners in Communist hands cannot now be traced. Their names do not appear on the official lists that have been released by the Communist authorities.
The truce negotiations that have been protracted in Korea for more than a year inevitably force one to ask whether or not the Communists really intend, to reach a truce. The negotiating parties have met almost daily during that long period and a long list of objections on both sides has slowly been resolved, until at last the only question at issue between the parties is whether all prisoners of war shall be returned forcibly or otherwise. I take it that the questioning, by the Leader of the Opposition, Of the decision not to force unwilling prisoners of war to return behind the Communist lines, means that he questions the advisability of holding out against the demands of the Communists. As I have said, the whole history of the negotiations raises a very strong doubt in my mind as to whether the Communist authorities really wish to reach a truce. If this last concession were granted to them, would it not be followed by further demands?. That is not an easy question to answer. The situation is difficult in the extreme. On the one hand, the protracted negotiations must inevitably be damaging to the morale of our forces and to the assurance of the civilian peoples of the democratic countries in the virtue of our cause. On the other hand, nothing could be more suitable to the Communists than that we should break off the negotiations. The circumstances of the last few months contain powerful indications that it is their intention to try to force us to break off the negotiations. It seems to me that there is no alternative for our officials but to pursue patiently and steadfastly the determination on the one hand to be strong enough to resist any Communist threat, and, on the other hand, to be ready at any time to continue the negotiations and to respond to any indication of a more conciliatory attitude on the part of the Communists.
There is no doubt that the Communist cause has been badly set back by the Korean war, and if we were tempted to break off the negotiations we should, by giving a fillip to Communist propaganda, undo much of the good that has been done. I believe, therefore, that there is no alternative but to continue the present policy. However, it is plain that some limit must be put to the concessions that have been extracted from us by the Communists. The United Nations forces must draw a line beyond which they will not retreat. I suggest to the House that that line has now been reached.
The political situation in South Korea is another worrying and serious matter. When the war in Korea broke out a democratically elected people’s government, under the presidency of Dr. Syngman Rhee, was in office in South Korea. In recent weeks Dr. Rhee has seen fit to suspend democratic government and to impose martial law in South Korea, to cause the arrest of some of the members of the South Korean Parliament and, generally, to conduct the government of the country in a most dictatorial manner. I have been reassured to learn that the Australian Government has put its views on this matter directly to him in the strongest terms. The Government has reminded him that, from the outset, Australian forces have taken part in the war for the liberation of South Korea, and have worked for the unification of Korea under a democratic government. It has also told him that the Australian people have been fortified by the belief that they were supporting a freely elected, democratic government, and that the most deplorable effects would be pro- duced in this country if any doubts that they may have about the democratic nature of his purposes should be confirmed. The President has been urged to keep these matters very much in mind. In short, he has been given a very direct and plain warning by the Government. In either event, it seems to me that Dr. Rhee’s behaviour is a great embarrassment to the United Nations, because it provides the most excellent material for Communist propaganda. If, on the one hand, he is allowed to continue his present practices, then the free nations will be charged with supporting a fascist government. On the other hand, if the United Nations should determine that some coercive action should be taken against Dr. Syngman Rhee, then, of course, they would be charged with upsetting a democratic State. In either event, Dr. Rhee is, in my opinion, assisting the Communist cause by his behaviour, which raises the interesting question of principle: What should be the attitude of the United Nations in connexion with a country that is at war, and in which the United Nations itself is at war, when the conditions under which civil government can effectively bc maintained no longer exist in that country? I confess that I am not able to provide the answer to that question, but I think that, if the war in Korea continues, the fact will have to be faced that the United Nations has some obligations to the people of Korea and to the future of the country, and will have to insist that its government shall give at least some safeguards of freedom to the people whom it governs.
This long-protracted war has now gone on for over two years, and people throughout the world may well be dismayed and dispirited at its continuance. But Australians should be much encouraged by the Minister’s statement, and by the real effect and value of the action that has been taken in Korea. The Minister has reminded us that aggression has been met, that lawlessness has been checked, and that great Communist forces have been pinned down for more than two years. Had they not been pinned down in Korea, inevitably they would have been used against the other free countries of
South-East Asia, in areas nearer to Australia than is Korea. I consider that we may rest assured that the action taken in Korea by the United Nations has assisted to preserve the freedom of Indo-China and Burma, and has had a profound effect on the Communist campaign now being waged in Malaya.
Before concluding my speech I shall turn to the more domestic matter of the Foreign Affairs Committee. It is high time Australians dropped their partypolitical attitude towards international affairs, and developed an international viewpoint on matters outside our boundaries that concern the welfare of the nation.
– The Government always wants co-operation when it is in trouble.
– This morning the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), in a deliberately provocative question that he addressed to the Minister for External Affairs, sought to belittle the seriousness of the Minister’s statement to the House yesterday, and although I am sure that he would be the first to realize that I take no particular pleasure in making harsh remarks about him, I suggest that his question was asked with the intention of gaining a political advantage. It is time we dropped that attitude to international affairs, and the appointment of the Foreign Affairs Committee is a serious attempt on the part of the Government to provide a more informed and enlightened attitude of mind in this Parliament towards that subject.
The Leader of the Opposition has complained that we have not examined his constructive suggestions, as he described them. It is the duty of the Government to appoint a committee on such terms and with such safeguards as it considers necessary. The Opposition has quite carelessly rejected the offer that was made to it to nominate members for appointment to the committee. I hope that the Opposition will reconsider its attitude. The Minister has reminded us of our adult responsibilities in the world, but we cannot assume them unless we adopt an adult attitude of mind towards them. Until we have an informed and uniform attitude of mind towards the basic elements of our foreign policy, we cannot approach the study of these matters, and action taken upon them, with that seriousness and determination which the security of this country demands.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Haylen) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 1586).
When I obtained leave earlier in this sitting to continue my remarks. I had directed attention to the fact that the Government was departing from an arrangement made with the wool-growing industry by the Curtin Labour Government some years ago. That undertaking, in recognition of the importance of the wool industry to Australia, was that the Government would bear an equal share of the cost of wool research and publicity for the purpose of promoting the sale and development of wool and wool products. This Government has refused to accept that principle, and has made a nebulous promise to the effect that it is not unmindful of the importance of the industry, and that its decision does not indicate that it will not make a contribution to the cost of wool research and publicity.
The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen), in his secondreading speech, made the following statement : -
It is by no means the intention of the Government to withdraw from the field of wool research.. It is all too important to the future economic welfare of our country to withdraw altogether from the field. The proposal in the Wool Tax Assessment Bill 1952 to repeal section 15 (2.) of the Wool Use Promotion Act which provides for the existing arrangement is to remove a legislative commitment to continue to find research moneys equal to any receipts from the wool tax.
The Parliament and the country accept the statement that the wool industry is too important to the future economic welfare of the country for the Government to leave the industry without a substantial fund to publicize its products, and, what is of even greater importance, to counter the growing menace to wool represented by synthetic fibres. Although the Government recognizes that situation, it proposes to remove the legislative enactment that requires the Commonwealth to make a contribution to the fund for wool research and publicity. The Minister asks us to be satisfied with an undertaking that the wool industry will not be forgotten. The history of Government policy during the last twelve months is a guide to the degree to which undertakings given by the Government can be accepted. The Minister has informed us that, at some future date, the Government may make a “ fixed annual contribution of a specified amount, say, for example, £350,000”. The implication of that statement is that the Government will no longer be an equal partner with the wool-grower, as was the Labour Government, in bearing the cost of wool research and publicity. I recall that when the Wool (Contributory Charge) Assessment Bill was before the House in 1946, the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), a member of the Australian Country party, moved an amendment the purpose of which was to reduce the wool-grower’s contribution from 2s. to ls. a bale. Other members of the Australian Country party supported the amendment, which, had it been carried, would have obliged the Government of the day to bear a greater share of the financial burden of promoting wool publicity and research.
– That was the attitude of members of the Australian Country party when they were in Opposition.
– Yes, they have apparently changed their minds now that they support the Government. However, their attitude then indicated that they recognized that the wool industry was of outstanding importance to the whole community of Australia, and that the Government should bear the major part of the cost of wool publicity and research. Yet, under this bill, the Government will bear only a minor part of that cost. The contradictory policies applied by this Government during the brief period it has been in office have convinced the people that they cannot rely upon its undertakings. The Minis ter has also explained that if the levy of 2s. . a bale is retained, insufficient money will be available to promote wool publicity and research. In those circumstances, the Government should accept the recommendations of the Opposition. Those recommendations are not new. We accepted them as our responsibility when we were in office, and gave effect to them during a period when tension was even greater than it is to-day, and calls upon the Treasury were no less than they are at present. Yet the Minister has made the nebulous statement that at some future date the Government may accept some of the financial responsibility for the cost of wool publicity and research. The Opposition considers that if more funds are required in the. future, the Government, by regulation, will increase the levy from 4s. to 5s. a bale. Such a power is conferred upon the Government by this bill. Mr. Ereeth. - Rubbish!
– If I have misinterpreted the bill, why is provision made for a ceiling, which indicates that the Government will not be able to increase the levy beyond 5s. a bale? Why does the Government make the provision that the levy may be increased from 4s. to 5s. a bale by regulation and not by an act of Parliament?
– Do the representatives of the wool-growers live on this side of the chamber or on the Opposition benches?
– Wool-growers, if they had to depend upon Government supporters, would scarcely live at all except at a general election. Members of the Australian Country party vigorously proclaim, when they are in Opposition, that they are the spokesmen for the man on the land.
– Does the honorable member claim that he is the spokesman for the man on the land?
– The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Ereeth) is not qualified by training, occupation or association, to claim that he represents the primary producers. The honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Brown) apparently wants to cite his experiences as a wool-grower. I inform him that we grew wool at a time when conditions were more difficult than they are to-day. Years ago, tory governments did not assist wool-growers when the price of wool was ruinously low. I had experience in the industry in those days. The honorable member - for McMillan does not understand the problems of wool-growers.
This bill is further evidence of the Government’s lack of concern for the man on the land. It is all very well for the Minister to endeavour to make light of the burden that the levy of 4s. a bale represents by claiming that it is only about 0.22 per cent, of the average value of a bale of wool. The honorable gentleman does not appear to realize that this levy is to be imposed at a time when costs of production are rising and the price of wool is falling. Primary producers are doubtful about their security in the future. The levy of 4s. a bale, although it may be only 0.22 per cent, of the average value of a bale of wool, will be an additional burden on the wool-growers. The Minister claims that wool-growers’ organizations have accepted the Government’s plan. Ned Kelly, of honoured memory, would have envied the Minister the self-satisfaction implicit in that statement. No doubt he would have explained to the trial judge that the people whom he had robbed had agreed to his demand to stand and deliver, whereas the gun in his hand had persuaded them to do so. Similarly, the Government, at gun-point, extracted from the representatives of wool-growers an increased levy without their insisting that the Government should increase its contribution correspondingly. Of course, the wool-growers’ organizations have agreed to the Minister’s plan. The future of the industry is so vitally dependent upon adequate research and publicity that they will willingly contribute as much as they can afford in order to safeguard it. If the Government refuses to make a contribution, of course the wool-growers will pay the amount that is required for the fund.
The Minister has naively said that the levy of 4s. a bale will be retained for a year, and that the balance in the fund will be examined at the end of that period. It is as clear as crystal that the Government has said to the wool-growers’ organizations, in effect, “ We -cannot make a contribution to the fund now, and unlessYOU are willing to agree to an increase of the levy from 2s. to 4s. a bale, you will! not have the publicity campaign or theresearch facilities that are so vital toyour industry”. In that atmosphere^ what were the wool-grower representstives expected to say? This matter is further evidence of the futility of this Government, which is hapless, hopelessand helpless in dealing with the major industry that decides whether or not Australia shall be prosperous. The Government has said, “We have asked the wool-growers to increase their contribution, and we shall make up our mindslater whether or not the industry is of sufficient importance for us to make a contribution to the fund “. The Government has bungled everything to which it has set its hand during the brief period it has been in office. It has confused the primary producers to an even greater degree than it has confused other sections of the community. Heaven knows, there is serious confusion in business circles! Working men and women are concerned about the continuity of their employment and their economic security in the future. But nowhere does such confusion reign as there is among primary producers. No member of the Australian Country party has explained the attitude of the Government to the wool industry.
– That is not true. One honorable member did speak on the measure.
– The Opposition has had two speakers in succession on this bill, while the members of the Australian Country party, who usually are rarely off their feet, remained silent. The honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) merely apologized for what he had to say. Whatever he intended to say, his speech turned out to be an apology for the Government’s attitude towards this vital matter of the wool tax. When the wool industry was prosperous and wool was bringing high prices the people were prosperous. Our overseas balances and our dollar surplus increased. When wool began to bring lower prices our overseas balances began to diminish, there was less prosperity among all our people and our dollar surplus became a dollar deficit. It is in those circumstances that we approach the present bill, and we say that this Government should accept the obligation, as it was accepted by the last Labour Government, of playing its part in the development of wool research and publicity.
Every nation advertises its most important source of income. Some countries advertise extensively their tourist attractions. Others advertise their manufactures. Consequently, because wool is one of our greatest industries and one of our greatest dollar and foreign exchange earners, we must advertise and foster it. If the Government decides to tax wool at, say, 3s. a bale, it should make a contribution of 3s. a bale from its own funds, and make sure that the money so raised aud contributed shall be used to give to the wool industry the best possible publicity and research facilities. The Government will not do that, or cannot do it, and the result is that it has brought in this measure to amend a previous measure introduced by a Labour government, and to remove an undertaking made by the Parliament, not a government, to provide a government contribution equal to the tax in order to develop and foster our Australian wool industry. Instead of. acknowledging the principle established by the Chifley Government, this Government will provide for one year some amount that it cannot decide upon. That is,’ a further proof of the Government’s inability to govern, and is merely another of a number of .mistakes that it has made which will speedily encompass its defeat.
.- The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke) has not spoken on behalf of the wool-growers. Earlier to-day the House heard a speech by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke). Neither the honorable member for Perth nor the honorable member for Fawkner represents a wool-growing elec.torate. Their electorates are in the highly industrialized cities. Never at any time have honorable members opposite put a case for the wool-growers unless they were trying to gain some paltry party political advantage. That has been most apparent to-day. Probably we shall later have a speech by the honorable mem ber for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). Men on the land are often confused by the honorable member for Parkes, because they believe that he is associated in some way with the town of Parkes, which is in the centre of a primary-producing district. That is not so. The electorate of Parkes is a highly industrialized area in the City of Sydney. We have had to listen to speeches of honorable members who under no circumstances, past, present or future, have ever had, now have, or are likely to have, the interests of wool-growers at heart.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order! The House apparently is becoming a little boisterous, and I ask honorable members to cease interjecting. I understand that this is likely to be the last sitting for some time, so honorable members will be able to recover from the distress of this debate.
– I represent many wool-growers, and if I thought that there was anything wrong with this measure I should have no hesitation in condemning it. I should do that irrespective of whether its passage was advocated by the Government or by the Opposition. On other occasions I have demonstrated that I follow the dictates of my conscience and intelligence.
The bill before the House will impose a tax of 4s. a bale on wool. The money so collected will be used for scientific research in connexion with certain aspects of this vital industry. Honorable members opposite have said that 2s. a bale was collected by the Chifley Government and that that Government provided a further 2s. a bale for research and publicity. They have also said that this Government will provide nothing. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) will reply to them when he is closing this debate. He has already indicated in his second-reading speech that the Australian Government will make an amount available for research and publicity in connexion with the wool industry. When the Chifley Government was in office the tax was 2s. a bale, and the Government provided 2s. All Opposition speakers, including the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who represents a semicity electorate, failedto state that, although the Chifley Government contributed 2s. a bale while the tax yielded 2s. a bale, it took £7,000,000 from the wool-growers.
– Why does not this Government give it back to the woolgrowers ?
– Order ! The honorable member for Lalor must not interject.
– The honorable member for Lalor has asked why the Government has not given that money back to the wool-growers. I suggest that some attempt may be made to pay it back. The honorable member for Lalor, who was the previous Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, said that it would have been almost impossible to pay that money back to the wool-growers. The honorable member for Fawkner said that it would have been impossible. Therefore, these two spokesmen for the Opposition cannot agree even on that point. This £7,000,000 should have been paid back to the wool-growers at the time when it was collected, and individual payments should have been based on the quantity of wool each grower sold in the years during which the scheme operated. All wool-growers throughout Australia know that the Labour Government at that time took at least £7,000,000 out of their product. It is a very simple thing for honorable members who have no idea of farming and fanners, and have not their interests at heart, to say that the Chifley Government paid 2s. a bale and the woolgrowers paid 2s. a bale. But the woolgrowers will have noticed to-night that honorable members opposite have said practically nothing about that £7,000,000. The Chifley Government paid in 2s. a bale and took out £7,000,000. That does not reflect any credit on the previous Labour Government, but it does indicate the Labour party’s sentiment towards the wool-growers. The Labour party does not believe that the wool-grower should get as much as possible from the proceeds of the sale of his product.
I shall not delay the House further, because the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture will soon reply to honorable members opposite. However, I do say that it is quite wrong that men who have no knowledge of the wool industry should be allowed to make statements for which there is no foundation and should try to mislead the people. Honorable members on this side of the House who know the wool industry cannot be misled by the Opposition’s feeble attempts to gain some paltry political advantage.
.- I was distressed by the statement of the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), that certain honorable members of this Parliament should not dare to speak about the wool industry. Surely that is too narrow-minded a view for even a member of the Australian Country party to hold. Considering the protagonists of country interests in the Australian Country party, I find that their affiliations with the land are not so close as are those of many Opposition members. For instance, in the Australian Country party there are auctioneers, town clerks, peanutgrowers and rural rabble-rousers. If their experience in those occupations gives to them the right to discuss the wool industry in this Parliament and if honorable members who represent industrial areas are to be precluded from doing the same then it is a sad day for democracy. Despite that, I believe that I have some special qualifications which entitle me to speak about this matter, which concerns the propaganda, publicity and research connected with the wool industry. Surely the honorable member for Mallee is not brimming over with knowledge of those matters; indeed, he discloses a very narrow view of them. In fact, I believe that honorable members can forget his speech. He said that the Labour party must on no occasion mention wool in this House, and he asked what the Chifley Government did with the £7,000,000 belonging to the wool-growers. On the honorable member’s own admission that £7,000,000 is under the control of the Government and is still intact. The Government has in existence Joint Organization, which is distributing money to the wool-growers, and I am led to believe by a public statement that £40,000,000 is available for distribution. Since the honorable member for Mallee knows the persons to whom the £7,000,000 could be paid, and since he does not believe the Labour party story that it is impossible to distribute the money to its rightful owners, surely he can prevail upon the Government to give the money back to those from whom it was taken! The honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) knows all that only too well.
The Minister of Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) is asking for a new imposition by means of a tax on wool in order to continue necessary and effective research and publicity. I am amazed that a Minister of his calibre and cunning should have allowed himself to be trapped by the Treasury into sponsoring such a measure. What is the good of suggesting that this Government must pay in on a 50-50 basis, when the amount that it will pay is not stated ? The reason why honorable members spend long hours in this House adding disquisition to disquisition is to ensure that the measures coming before us will carry out the objectives for which they were designed. Honorable members had bitter personal experience in the case of the Nicholas report when they discovered that whatever was not definitely stated in such a report had no effect on that account.
The same thing applies to the bill before us. The Minister should reconsider this matter and amend the bill. The publicity and propaganda fund is in debit to an amount of £150,000, but there is a surplus of £900,000 in the research fund. The reason for that position is obvious. There has been a splendid publicity campaign in regard to wool, and the consciousness of the people has been awakened. I hope that the Government will obtain a few tough journalists and have them send more propaganda material to the dailies. The work published in the better class magazines, both here and overseas, has been excellent. Indeed it has effectively answered some of the claims made by those interested in synthetic fibres. In that regard money has been expended wisely and well, but because, of restrictions, frustrations and physical difficulties, research has not gone so well. Special establish- ments must be built and special men obtained to work in them. Those men must be adequately accommodated. The trouble is that adequate accommodation and resources have not been provided.
I am astonished that the Minister fails to realize that the simplest way out is to do as the former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has advised him to do and be completely frank. What commitment does the Government propose to undertake? Up to the present we have been given only a strong hint that the wool-growers will have to carry the burden unaided. Nobody in the community would deny to the wool industry the rights that are due to it. It has kept itself free and, because of the world-wide scarcity of wool, has been able to paddle its own canoe. In these circumstances, the taxpayers would be happy to contribute to the cost of scientific research and publicity. The growers will be required to pay this tax of 4s. a bale in addition to provisional tax, that ugly impost that is causing so much hardship. The average wool-grower cannot foresee a rosy future under these conditions. The Minister should clarify the position. Does the Government intend to contribute to the Wool Industry Fund on a 50-50 basis with the growers, as the Chifley Government did? The Minister, of course, denounced the Chifley Government’s legislation, but now he has seen the light because responsibility has been thrust upon him. Previously he was concerned only with political propaganda. He must realize that the Opposition is not making its plea for the sake of gaining party political advantage. Its representations are based on sound common sense.
The Government also appears to have overlooked the fact that, although millions of pounds are to be expended on propaganda for wool, little is being done to preserve our great industry from the inroads of synthetic fabrics disguised as wool products. One of the scandals in the commercial world to-day is that the textile labelling regulations drafted by the Chifley Government have not been implemented. Everybody knows of the tragic diminution of our overseas balances. That diminution was caused by a - flood of shoddy imports, many of which were textiles that were sold as woollen goods but contained only the merest whisper of wool. The Chifley Government, in 1947, forged a weapon to protect us against such practices, but it was not used to stem that flood. Two grievous wrongs have been done to Australia in recent months. The first was the bleeding of our overseas funds, from which we shall not recover in this half century. The second was the foisting upon the people of shoddy textile goods from overseas factories that are not obliged to abide by the standards that we impose on Australian manufacturers. Newspapers that normally are loyal to the Government, and particularly to the Australian Country party, have been vociferous in their objection to this practice. This matter is closely related to the protection of the wool industry. The regulations that were framed in 1947 required manufacturers and importers to declare the proportions of every fibre contained in textiles. The old Latin tag to the effect that the buyer should beware was discarded. That action by the former Minister protected, not only the purchaser, but also the wool-grower. “Why has the Government frozen those regulations? I agree that their implementation requires the co-operation of the State Governments, but I understand that those governments are waiting for a final move to be made by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. The honorable gentleman should realize that the Labour party is not alone in object- ing to this scandal. The failure of the Government to protect the industry, and the purchasers of textiles, has been bitterly criticized by journals, such as Country Life, which normally support the Liberal party and the Australian Country party. Country Life has dealt with the subject in editorial articles from time to time and has demanded that the protective regulations be brought into force so as to prevent materials that contain synthetic fibres from being wrongly described as woollen fabrics.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke) has named various synthetic fibres that are threatening the wool industry. They lack the tensile strength, the flexibility and the warmth of woollen goods, but there is no reason to doubt that the scientists, in their laboratories, will soon be able to produce synthetic textiles that will be as good as wool in every respect. We must not sit on a peak of isolation and say, “We are all wool and a yard wide, and the Australian economy is firmly established on a sound basis “. The Minister should ask himself whether he is serving the interests of the wool-growers by exposing them to the competition of the manufacturers of synthetic textiles. He has opened the door at one end, but the door at the other end remains firmly bolted. The whole purpose of this legislation will be frustrated if nobody cares that shoddy textiles are being misrepresented and sold as woollen goods.
Now, for the benefit of the honorable member for Mallee, who may consider that I am moving amongst his sheep for other than honorable purposes, I return to my own ground. The greatest blow that has been struck at the security of workers in Australia in recent years has been the disemployment of large numbers of textile workers. Female workers have gone out of the industry in large numbers. The men will be the next to go. Some of them are working staggered weeks and others are working for only a few hours each week. This would never have happened if the flood pf rubbish from overseas, which helped to dissipate our hard-won assets abroad, had been stopped promptly. The Government should put an end to this labelling scandal. There is nothing particularly grievous in the fact that the Government has decided to increase the levy on the wool-grower in order to finance the excellent plan for the preservation of the wool industry. However, its method smacks of the devious mind, and we fear that it will lead to a Treasury ramp. The Government should agree at once and without reservation to match the contributions of the growers fi for £1. It has disclosed a childish lack of responsibility by its failure to insist upon the honest labelling of textiles. Thousands of Australians resent its neglect, which has enabled shoddy materials to compete with wool on an equal basis. Correspondence on this subject has been published in country newspapers throughout Australia, and numerous editorials have been written on it. Members of this Parliament also have received many telegrams of protest.
The wool publicity campaign has been splendidly conducted on a national scale. Much research work remains to be done, but I am confident that the scientists of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and other organizations will bend themselves to the task with a will. The Government is the nigger in the woodpile. It should cast aside its pinch-penny scruples and declare its intention to match the contributions of the growers to the Wool Industry Fund. I warn the Minister that, by setting aside the wise provisions of the Chifley Government, he is allowing a dangerous practice to arise under which inferior textiles will have a chance to oust woollen goods from the local market. The textile labelling regulations should be brought into, force, not only in the interests of the wool-growers, but also in the interests of all users of woollen goods. Wool is our greatest primary product. Why should the Minister allow the jobber and the racketeer to enter the market through the back door to the detriment of the wool industry? The honorable member for Mallee prated about Labourites knowing nothing about wool, but perhaps the truth is that, in the final analysis, we know considerably more about this industry than does the auctioneer from the Mallee.
– in reply - I do not like to use old cliches but, if over the old saying that the Bourbons learned nothing and forgot nothing had a modern application, it has that application now in relation to members of the Opposition. The Labour party has learned nothing and forgotten nothing. The whole issue at stake to-night is whether the Parliament shall legislate as the wool industry wishes it to legislate, or whether it shall put aside the proposals of the growers and legislate along the lines that have been advocated by that former socialist Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). The honorable gentleman has made his attitude abundantly clear. He contends that the Government should not bother about the wishes of the wool-growers, but should do as it pleases. That is what he did when he was in office, and he boasted of the fact. That is why he is in Opposition to-day. That is why the great Labour party cannot muster in this House one representative of a wool-growing district in any part of Australia. Hero is the result of years of Labour administration along the lines that the honorable member for Lalor advocated earlier to-night! Apparently he has learned nothing from the catastrophic defeat of his party. He, who has his majority in a metropolitan area, has been able to gain support for his policy only from a Labour representative from the centre of Melbourne, a Labour representative from the centre of Perth, and a Labour representative from the centre of Sydney. God bless my soul, these honorable gentlemen have learned nothing! The Labour party will remain in Opposition for 1,000 years if its members continue to show the same incapacity to learn, and to understand the independent attitude of the Australian primary producers, that these honorable members have shown to-night.
What is the nature of the Government’s proposal in simple terms? It is a proposal to impose upon each bale of wool a levy, not of 2s., but of 4s.
– More taxation !
– Yes, but it has been asked for by the wool-growers’ organizations. The Australian Wool Board asked me to increase the charge. I said that first I should like to hear the views of the wool-growers’ organizations. Therefore, I met representatives of the Australian Wool Growers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. They said that they wanted a tax of 4s. a bale imposed upon wool for use by the Australian Wool Board upon wool sales promotion, and that they did not want the contribution of the Government, which would be extracted from the taxpayer, to be added to the Wool Research Trust Account, which already had a credit balance of £900,000.
That seemed to be common sense. I had had some experience of these two federal wool-growers’ organizations, because previously they had advanced another proposal with which, eventually, their constituent organizations did not entirely agree. I reminded the representatives of that fact, and said that, although I was impressed by their proposal, I should like them to consult their constituent bodies and then produce some evidence to me that, not only the federal organizations, but also the constituent organizations, supported the proposal. They have done that. But the honorable member for Lalor, who, by his administration, has left the Australian Labour party without a single rural representative in the National Parliament who is a spokesman for wool, now says that we should reject that advice and do what he says should be done. If ever I commit suicide, it will not be on his advice.
The Australian “Wool Growers Council is conceded to be the senior, and perhaps the most conservative, wool-growers’ organization in Australia. Often, it has protested vociferously against rates of taxation. It has given its full support to the proposal to double the tax imposed upon wool for the use of the Australian Wool Board.
– Has it said that it does not want a statutory government contribution ?
– The honorable member for Lalor is getting deeper and deeper in the morass. The Australian Wool Growers Council, in a resolution, has stated -
It is recommended that the wool research trust account be abolished, and the sum standing to its credit be paid to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization for research into the problems of the wool industry. In future, payments by the Government for the various forms of research set out in section 15 of the existing act should be an amount arrived at irrespective of the amount of the total wool tax collected in one year.
The council has suggested that the Government’s contribution should be paid from Consolidated Revenue, and that it should not be based upon the revenue derived from the wool tax. But the honorable member for Lalor has said that we should take no notice of the men who own the wool, and should do what the Labour-socialists say should be done. That is his policy, but it is not one that we shall adopt. The council, in its resolution, has stated further -
There should bc an undertaking given by the Government that the amount voted by the Government each year from Consolidated Revenue be not less than the present sum of £350,000.
I have given such an undertaking in my second-reading speech, and it will be embodied in legislation, not in a year’s time, as the honorable member for Lalor, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke) and the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke) have alleged, without justification, but during the next sessional period, when the view of the wool industry upon the matter has been further clarified. The resolution indicates that there is still some difference of opinion within the wool industry upon that point. That is why the undertaking has not been embodied in this bill. The resolution stated further -
The Australian Wool Growers Council is strongly opposed to the Board’s suggested amendment of the Act, section 15, sub-section (5.) which provides that one-third of the moneys from the wool research trust account shall be paid into the wool use promotion fund account, lt is realized that if the Board is given any control over funds provided by Consolidated Revenue, the Government must in turn exercise some control over the Board’s activities. The Council wishes to see the Board as free from government control as possible.
So does the Government. That is our policy. During our administration, statutory boards have been free from ministerial control and direction. That is a new experience for such boards, after eight years of Labour administration and of stand-over tactics by Labour Ministers for Commerce and Agriculture. The Australian Wool Board does not want its funds to become involved with contributions from Consolidated Revenue, which would entitle the government of the day to exercise some control over its activities.
The contribution of the Commonwealth will be specified in legislation as soon as the slight differences of opinion that exist between the Australian Wool Board and the Australian Wool Growers Coun- cil have been resolved, and those bodies have decided whether a contribution of 2s. a bale or of £350,000 a year towards the expenses of research will be the best bargain for them. A contribution of 2s. a bale would produce £350,000 on a 3,500,000-bale clip. We hope that, during the next few years, our wool clip will reach and exceed that figure. The organizations concerned might be better off if the Government’s contribution to research were 2s. a bale rather than £350,000 a year, but if the average clip of the last two or three years were maintained they would be rather worse off. That is why I said in my second-reading speech that the contribution of the Government will be of the order of 2s. a bale or, say, £350,000. When a decision has been reached upon the matter, we shall, during the next sessional period, embody in legislation the assurance for which we have been asked. The wool industry knows that in the past the assurances that I have given to it in this Parliament have been honoured.
– It is proposed that £350,000 shall be contributed by the Government and £700,000 by the woolgrowers. Previously, the contribution of the Government was £350,000 and that of the wool-growers was £350,000. In future, the Government will contribute only one-third of the total sum, whereas previously it contributed one-half.
– I do not want to argue about the arithmetic of the matter, which cannot be challenged. It is the arithmetic, not only of the honorable gentleman, but also of the organized wool industry. Was the honorable member for Lalor really serious when he proposed that the Government should contribute from Consolidated Revenue, not £350,000, but £700,000 a year? Does he really believe that we should impose an additional tax upon all the people of this country, and pay the revenue derived from the tax into a fund which already has a credit balance of £900,000 ? Is it the policy of the Labour party that, in the interests of the wool industry, an additional tax should be imposed upon the ordinary people of this country for this purpose, when the agencies of the wool industry and of the Government have been unable to expend the funds already allotted or ear-marked for the purpose ? If that be the considered policy of the Labour party, it is regrettable. It is another example of the irresponsibility of Labour when in Opposition. The honorable member for Lalor has spoken, not as a man of experience, but as a man who has not bothered to think about the matter, and who hopes to score a cheap debating point by indulging in mental arithmetical gymnastics. By so doing, he has put himself out on a limb.
The proposal is that money for wool use promotion purposes shall, in future, be found not, as has been the case in the last few years, from the wool contributory charge, but by a reversion to the system that was introduced in 1936, on the suggestion of the wool industry, under which a tax was imposed upon each bale of wool and the proceeds of the tax were given to representatives of the wool industry. Under that system, the wool-growers used the Government as an instrument to collect some of their own money from them, and to give it to their representatives to use, with the assistance of government agencies, for the purpose of protecting the reputation of wool and of exposing the weaknesses of its competitors. That is the system that the Government now proposes shall be put into operation. The research fund will be sustained by a government contribution of either 2s. a bale or £350,000 a year. That contribution will be specified in the. budget and will be embodied in legislation. In the course of the next few months, we shall decide whether that contribution shall be 2s. a bale or £350,000 a year.
The subject of textile labelling has been mentioned. It is irrelevant to this measure, but I do not object to its introduction into the debate.
– I think it is very relevant to the measure.
-It does not come under my administration, -but I have certain views upon it. Textile labelling in this country could be operated successfully only if seven governments agreed to pass legislation in identical terms. Legislation passed by this Parliament could be applicable only to imported textiles. It would be silly if the requirements that applied to imported textiles were different from those applicable to locally manufactured textiles. Only the State governments can decide what shall be done in relation to locally manufactured goods. Prom the knowledge that I have gained of the negotiations that have taken place on this matter, I say that the wool industry must accept some responsibility for the delays that have occurred, as also must the State governments and probably the ‘Commonwealth. The wool industry has been insistent that a label shall state, not only the percentages of the various textiles, but also the percentages of virgin wool, re-processed wool and reused wool contained in an article.
– That is very necessary.
– The honorable member for Lalor has said that it is very necessary, but I should say that it might be desirable. The term “ virgin wool “ is self-explanatory. Re-processed wool consists of tailored clippings and oddments of that “ kind that have not been used previously. Ee-used wool can be described as rags. The suggestion of the wool industry would be a good one if it were possible to identify, for example, the percentage of re-used wool in a woollen garment, but it would be useless to pass a law that could not be enforced. This Government would insist to-morrow upon the adoption of the wool industry’s suggestion if it could find analysts in Australia who were prepared to give an assurance that they could identify, in a woven garment, virgin wool, re-used wool and re-processed wool.
– May I assist the Minister? That is the attitude that is adopted by the customs authorities and by British exporters. What is to prevent us from passing legislation that would require a British exporter to swear to the exact proportions of processed wool and virgin wool that were used on his loom when a certain kind of cloth was manufactured in the United Kingdom?
– He might swear it, but I do not think that the honorable member is being practical in expecting a statutory declaration to be attached to every pair of socks.
– It could be done with every bale of socks and with every roll of cloth.
– Protection of the consumer will not be achieved by something that is written on a bale. The protection of the consumer and of the reputation of wool can be achieved only by something that is written on the article that is finally purchased by the consumer. The Government is interested in this matter and will achieve uniform labelling of textiles as quickly as it can do so.
– We wish to help the Government in this matter.
– I accept the willingness of the honorable member to assist the Government. The wool industry wishes goods to be labelled, not with the percentage of wool that is used, but with “no wool “ where that is applicable. To suggest that cotton sheeting should be branded “ no wool “ would be to carry the matter too far. We should be able to get a little more co-operation that would enable us to achieve practical labelling of textiles more quickly. I commend the bill to the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma: progress reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) agreed to -
That it is expedient Unit an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the Wool Tax Assessment Acts 1930, and for other purposes.
Resolution reported and adopted.
In committee: Consideration resumed.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from the 4th June (vide page 13S2), on motion by Mr. McEwen-
That a tax be imposed . . . (vide page 1381).
.- This motion relates to a financial detail of the measure that was debated yesterday. I point out to the committee and to persons who may be interested in the subject, and particularly to the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), that, although I represent some industrialists, I am a primary producer. On the other hand, the honorable member for Mallee has been living on the backs of the primary producers for years.
– Order ! That has nothing to do with the matter that is before the committee.
– Paragraph 3 of this motion provides that -
The roto of tax on wool received by wool brokers or dealers on or after the 1st July, 1952, shall bc at such rates as are prescribed by regulation under the Act passed to give effect to this resolution.
That is to say that in the financial year that we are about to enter the rate of tax shall be prescribed by regulation within the range set out in the act. The minimum is 2s. and the maximum os. a bale. I am astonished that the Parliament is prepared to give to a Minister, a department or a government complete freedom to determine whether the wool-growers of Australia shall be taxed at 2s. a bale or 5s. a bale without any opportunity being afforded to the Parliament to discuss the matter. It is outrageous. It is true that the Minister has the consent of growers’ organizations to impose a tax at the rate of 4s. a bale. But whilst I recognize the opinions of growers’ organizations and am prepared to have regard to them, they do not necessarily always reflect the true opinion of the rank and file of the people in an industry. I have seen repeated examples of the truth of that statement when polls have been taken in the wheat industry and in. other industries on. the question of setting up various authorities. It does not matter whether or not the opinion has been favorable. Frequently the official organizations have been at variance with the opinions of their members. Many wool-growers and other primary producers do not belong to any organization. I am prepared to concede that serious notice should be taken of the decisions and recommendations of primary producers’ organizations, but to allow the Government, after a conference with them, to vary a tax without consulting the Parliament, as is provided for in this bill, is a strange procedure.
A tax of ls. a bale on wool with a national yield of 3,000,000 bales amounts to £150,000. If the tax of 2s. is increased by the Minister to 3s. a bale after consultation with growers’ organizations, the total tax will be £150,000 higher. It will rise by £300,000 if the tax is increased to 4s. and to £450,000 if it is increased to 5s. In each case the extra tax will be added without consulting the Parliament. I thought that under the Constitution the authority of the Parliament was required before taxation could be imposed. I ask the Minister to state, therefore, whether or not the opinion of the Crown Law authorities was obtained on the proposal. The only parallel is the wheat stabilization tax, but in that case a specific amount was fixed. A similar principle does not apply to the wool tax. Under this bill, authority to tax is to be vested by regulation in the Minister and the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, after the Minister has conferred with growers’ organizations, but those organizations are not completely representative of the growers, and many individual wool-growers do not belong to them. This is not a political matter. I doubt whether the Parliament should concede to anybody the wide range of taxation that is here provided for at the whim of the growers’ organizations and the Minister.
– I do not want to engage in a legal debate with the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). The legislation that is to be placed before the Parliament was drafted by the Parliamentary Draftsman in the closest consultation with officers of my department, some of whom are legal officers, and with officers of the Attorney-General’s Department.
– It would not be the first time that they have been wrong.
– I agree that governments drawn from ail parties have been wrong at times. I assure honorable members that from the point of view of constitutional validity, this provision has been drafted with the complete knowledge of the highest legal advisers of the Government. It is not a novelty. As to the ethics of a provision which permits an amount to be levied by ministerial decision, I have no doubt that the honorable member for Lalor, as former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, placed a levy on many primary products in consequence of his own ministerial decisions. All export levies and charges have been imposed by ministerial decision. The honorable member for Lalor is aware of that fact. Such orders are capable of being carried out from time to time. Indeed, I have suspended some orders of that kind. Whether the Minister should be given such power is an important matter of principle. However, this course is now being taken only because agreement in that respect has been reached between officers of the Department of Trade and Customs, representatives of the Australian Wool Board, wool-growers’ organizations, and myself. Unprompted by the Government, the wool-growers’ organizations came to the conclusion that the tax should bo doubled this year. Those organizations do not know what the future may hold for the industry. They cannot foresee whether the competition of synthetic fibres will be lessened, or intensified. Consequently, they proposed that tho Government should impose a tax within the range of from 2s. to os. a bale, but that, at the same time, the industry should be given the protection of a provision that the Minister shall proclaim within that range a tax that is recommended by the Australian Wool Board. On my own initiative, I added the further safeguard that the board should not make its recommendation until it had consulted representatives of the wool-growers organizations who are empowered by statute to nominate representatives or that board. Thus, the protection that will be provided for the industry will be threefold: First, the Minister shall not increase the tax except within a specified bracket; secondly, he shall not take such action unless the Australian Wool Board makes a recommendation to that effect; and, thirdly, the Australian Wool Board shall not make such a recommendation without consulting the representatives of the growers’ organizations.
.- I take this opportunity to deal with the subject of the labelling of textiles. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) at least intimated that somebody had advised him that if the existing textile labelling regulations were implemented, it would be impracticable to police them. An officer of the Department of Trade and Customs put that view to me. I realize that it may be necessary to determine by chemical analysis the exact proportions of wool - of various classes and quality that are contained in a material, and that it might not be possible, even by such an analysis, to determine those proportions to the satisfaction of a court in the event of legal action being taken with a view to challenging the validity of the regulations. However, an endeavour should be made to apply them. It should be possible to police a regulation that placed upon a manufacturer the responsibility of labelling material in order to show the proportions of wool of different classes and quality that are contained in it. I realize that cloth is imported in large rolls. I also realize that the Commonwealth cannot place upon a retailer responsibility for the labelling of woollen goods. Only the States have that power. Unfortunately, the States have been negligent in this matter.
Great pressure was brought to bear upon the Chifley Government and upon myself, when I was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in that Government, when the textile labelling regulations were being drafted.. I experienced opposition from a certain government department, agents of British manufacturers and the United Kingdom Government itself. Eventually, four representatives of the Bradford woollen industry camp to this country to oppose the implementation of those regulations. When they announced their intention to visit Australia for that purpose, I informed them by cable that they would be wasting their time because the government of the day was determined to implement the regulations in order to protect purchasers, who were entitled to know the quality of woollen goods that they bought. Those representatives came to Australia, but they went away, so far as I was concerned, without any hope whatever. However, from that time onwards, in some manner or by some means, the implementation of the textile labelling regulations has been prevented. It is high time that somebody got busy about this matter. I again urge the Government, in spite of all the difficulties that may arise, to implement these regulations as soon as possible.
– I have never been at cross-purposes with the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) in respect of the matter that he has just raised. The Government is anxious to implement practical textile labelling regulations as quickly as possible in order to protect consumers and also the reputation of wool. However, I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), as a former AttorneyGeneral, would agree that it would not be proper for a Government to introduce regulations that provided for certain penalties in face of official advice that it would not be possible legally to prove an offence under them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. McEwen and Mr. McMahon do prepare and bring in bills to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. McEwen, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Bill presented by Mr. McEwen, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 3rd June (vide page 1237), on motion by Mr.
That the bill be now read a second time.
– As this measure and the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Bill, which is the next item on the notice-paper, are cognate measures, in that their object is to give effect, in respect of the authorities concerned, to the amendments made under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, I shall, with the permission of the House, deal with both of them at this juncture. That is to say, under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, as amended this week, we have a system of reviewing, supervising and repealing the decisions of conciliation commissioners. Such appeals will go to the Full Court of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court through the Chief Judge, who, acting upon the considerations of public interest and public importance, will determine whether or not there shall bc a right of appeal.
I shall not repeat the full substance of the arguments that we used in opposition to that measure. The House will recall that they were that the Government has introduced a system under which finality, which should be of the very essence of this procedure, will be made difficult. Industrial arbitration is, in its main essentials, of an entirely different quality from jurisprudence in other jurisdictions, because the arbitrator is determining what shall be the rules as between the disputants, the employers on the one hand, and the employees on the other. A system of appeals has been introduced which will make the conciliation commissioner no longer the authority to determine the subsidiary matters that come to him under the 1947 legislation. Those matters are margins and industrial conditions, which are subsidiary to the basic wage and standard hours, which are dealt with in the. first instance by the court. From now on a conciliation commissioner who hears a case will not be sure that at any moment the matter may not be taken from him as a result of an application to the Chief Judge. That may occur at any point of a hearing that may last for months. If the result of that process does not satisfy the party which set it in motion, it may be repeated, because there is no limit to the number of applications that may be made in connexion with a particular case, and a similar application may be made after a decision has been given by the court. Such a process can cause delay. The court may decide to refer a matter, or a part of it, back to the conciliation commissioner concerned for a report, or may decide to deal with only as much of the matter as it thinks fit.
The great danger that arises from that provision, and the even greater danger that arises in connexion with these two bills, is the effect of uncertainty and confusion that may be produced in the mind of the conciliation commissioner or other tribunal. It is perfectly true that that may not occur in some cases, but the process may cause uncertainty, and inconclusiveness and finality will be stamped on the proceedings from the beginning. When a conciliation commissioner takes seisin of a case he will not know how long he will be allowed to hear it. Even though the conciliation commissioner may nave a specialized knowledge of an industry as a result of years of experience of dealing with cases connected with it, he will have no assurance that a case may not be taken from him on appeal to the judges. That is bad enough, but the position in relation to these two bills is worse than that. The Minister’s case is that lay conciliation commissioners are inexperienced men. In the two bills before us the principle that I have’ mentioned is to be applied, first, to issues between the Commonwealth and the employees of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric power scheme, and, secondly, and even more importantly, to matters that relate to the settlement of disputes between the Commonwealth, through the Public Service Board indirectly, and its employees. There is absolutely no reason in the world why that system should be applied to the Public Service Arbitrator or to the judge who deals with disputes that arise in connexion with the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme.
The Public Service Arbitrator, Mr. Gilbert Castieau, is a very distinguished lawyer. On many occasions he was Acting Solicitor-General, and he was one of the most senior officers of the Crown Law Department. His legal ability certainly rivals that of most members of the courts. To all intents and purposes, therefore, he can be taken to be a highly trained jurist. The jurisdiction in connexion with disputes with employees of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme is exercised by Judge Wright, of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Yet in respect of those two authorities the bills will permit the same lack of finality or conclusiveness as the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, passed yesterday, will permit in relation to conciliation commissioners. That is completely wrong. There is no reason in the world for such a procedure to be adopted. Surely nobody will suppose for a moment that industrial matters will not be dealt with justly and impartially by those distinguished arbitrators, one of whom is a member of the very court before which any appeal that may be brought in relation to industrial matters connected with the hydro-electric scheme will go.
What is the point of it? The Minister says that he wants to channel all the special tribunals that are under Commonwealth jurisdiction to the Full Court of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. But the proposition is different when that principle is made to apply to matters that arise between the Commonwealth and its servants. The appellate court in such cases is this Parliament itself. As a matter of fact, awards that are made under the Public Service Act may be brought before the Parliament, which may make orders or laws to fix the wages of its employees. There is no constitutional bar to its doing so. That is a very different matter from industrial disputes that extend beyond the limits of any one State, in respect of which the jurisdiction is limited. In the first place, such a dispute has to be an interstate dispute in a Commonwealth-wide industry. But here, intimate matters between the Commonwealth and its employees in the Public Service are to be dealt with. The public servants have their own tribunal which, in the long run, can deal with such matters, and orders made under the Public Service Arbitration Act are brought ultimately before the Parliament from time to time as they are made. They may be reviewed, although they seldom are, and considered by the Parliament, because the Parliament has absolute jurisdiction over the conditions of employment of its own servants, with none of the limitations imposed in relation to arbitration under section 51 of the Constitution. The Opposition contends that whatever case may be made out for appeals from the decisions of conciliation commissioners, cannot be made out in connexion with the decisions of those two authorities. Both of them are distinguished lawyers, so it cannot be said that they are not experienced in the administration of the law.
– Will the. bill take away from the Parliament the right to review the decisions of the Arbitrator?
– No. The Public Service Arbitration Act remains the same in that respect. So, in effect, the decision of the Arbitrator will now run the gauntlet by way of an appeal to the Full Court as well as the possibility of a review by the Parliament, although I admit that that is seldom done, because the Parliament has impliedly endorsed all the awards of the Arbitrator by not having reviewed them. We are dealing with these matters, not from the legal point of view but on the ground of political principle. We say that the proposed procedure is completely wrong. Somebody persuaded the Minister, I think against his better judgment, that it would be a good thing to co-ordinate these different tribunals.
We have put our case against the Government’s action in respect of conciliation commissioners and the decision of the House has been given, and we shall see how it will work out. But whatever arguments the Government may justly advance in support of ita action in connexion with the conciliation commissioners cannot be substantiated in the application of the same system to the two authorities I have mentioned. In one case we have the absurdity of a judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court being subject to appeal to the Full Court of which he is a member. The Minister wants to go further. He wishes to bring the Coal Industry Tribunal under the same rule. Mr. Gallagher has been the Coal Industry Tribunal for a long time, and although he has been often criticized his work, on the whole, has been satisfactory. The people who used to complain about him do not now want any interference with his jurisdiction. Another tribunal that the Minister wishes to submit to the same process is the Stevedoring Industry Board. I say that, in every case, there is a possibility of delay, as well as uncertainty in the mind of the tribunal as to whether the decision made will be challenged. Such uncertainty will make the administration of industrial justice difficult. I consider that the Government is taking the wrong step. The Minister has been over-persuaded. He has taken this course as a compromise between two other courses, and the compromise is worse than either of them would have been.
– May the Parliament review the court’s decision in the event of an appeal?
– I cannot answer that question offhand, but if the Full Court reverses a decision of the Arbitrator, and considers that the award should be either higher or lower, then, in one form or another, it can come before this House, and we should have the absurd position that I have tried to indicate, that the Parliament would be almost forced to decide between the Public Service Arbitrator on the one hand, and the Full Court on the other, because there is no constitutional objection to our intervening in such a matter, though I should not wish to say that that would be a proper thing to do in connexion with the ordinary system of arbitration.
If I were to repeat the main case of the Opposition on the subject of these appeals I should only be repeating much of the argument that was advanced in relation to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill that was passed yesterday. There is, however, one aspect of these two bills which brings up a matter to which some Attention should be given. It was referred to in the House even as recently as this morning. I refer to the present grave danger of industrial disturbance and dislocation threatening the country. They are certainly not due to the absence of appeals, so the bill will provide no remedy for them. One newspaper, which I shall mention only because it made a bona fide mistake, said that the trouble is that there are not enough judges in the court, and that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, as amended, will make the appointment of more judges possible. That is not correct. There has never been a limit on the number of judges that may be appointed to the court.
The view of the Labour party is firmly in favour of the arbitration system, but there is an equal duty upon the Government, which says that it is in favour of maintaining the system as an arbitration system. If it is really in favour of maintaining the arbitration system as such, then it should not keep on chopping and changing it and establishing systems of appeals. Above all, I put it to the Minister that the Government should realize the dangers involved in coercion, because coercion should be a weapon of ultimate resort only. It should not be a normal weapon in the hands of the’ conciliation and arbitration authorities. For instance, the court should not have such a weapon to use by way of contempt proceedings, when an order or award has not been obeyed. That is a jurisdiction which was exercisable in the past, but twenty years elapsed before it was exercised. I admit that, in the coal crisis in 1949, that jurisdiction was exercised under a special act that was of a temporary nature only and was repealed when the crisis was over. It was exercised in respect of definite and deliberate breaches of the statute. But it is dangerous and wrong to have it as a normal feature of the arbitration system, and if the Minister were to ask for the view of the Labour party in the matter I should say, first of all, “Do not alter the system of arbitration unnecessarily, unless it has been proved beyond any doubt that it requires alteration in the public interest”.
Secondly, I advise the Government to use the weapon of criminal contempt of court only a3 a last resort. The Government is really concerned with this point, because it has taken the initiative in this kind of proceedings. I am sure that the Minister will agree that one of the greatest and most potent forces for industrial peace has been the Australian Council of Trades Unions, which, like the Australian Workers Union, has fought for the arbitration system. In my view, the Australian Council of Trades Unions should be consulted by the Minister on the waterside workers’ dispute. It is only fair to say that he has often conferred with the Aus: tralian Council of Trades Unions on industrial matters, and I ask him to do so in relation to the present dispute. If the Australian Council of Trades Unions is supporting the employees, the reason is that it firmly and honestly believes that the court has not carried out its duty to hear the case. The Australian Council of Trades Unions has supported the claim for an early hearing of certain matters. It is ridiculous to claim that those matters cannot be adjusted, in some way, through the intervention of the Minister. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), who has had vast experience of industrial matters, and other members of the Labour party, will do their best to assist the honorable gentleman in the process of conciliation. It. will be simply tragic if the dispute is allowed to continue on the present issue, which is whether the case should be heard at a certain time. That is a matter of detail, and the Attorney-General or the Minister, through the Attorney.General should intervene in an endeavour to obtain a hearing of the case so that a proper award can be made.
It appears that this matter has arisen because certain persons want trouble on the waterfront. I do not propose to deal with that aspect, but I point out that the Australian Council of Trades Unions does not want anything except industrial peace based upon industrial justice. The Labour party believes that the Minister is aware of that fact, and considers that he should act upon it. We firmly believe in arbitration, but there is a stage, as the Minister knows, at which, as a last resort, organizations cannot give up the right to withdraw their labour. That is the ultimate weapon which the unions have always reserved. However, it is an abstract question. I believe that the present dispute is capable of prompt settlement. I emphasize the suggestions that I have made, and I inform the Minister, in view of the challenge that he issued to the Opposition this morning, that the services of the honorable member for Bendigo, who has had long experience as a conciliator, are available to the Government in order to assist in reaching a settlement. For the reasons that I have given, the Opposition must oppose these two bills, because it is wrong in both instances to introduce a system of appeals. Delay in bringing industrial claims to finality is bad, but what is even worse is the uncertainty that will be caused in the minds of people who go before the two distinguished lawyers, in the persons of the Public Service Arbitrator and Judge Wright.
.- For public servants, the Public Service Arbitration Bill 1952 will put back the industrial clock more than 30 years. The first Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator was appointed in 1920 for the purpose of speeding up the hearing of claims by Public Service organizations. Before that year, those organizations had to await their turn in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and often “missed out “ completely, because the congestion of business delayed the hearing of applications for a long time. The appointment of the Public Service Arbitrator meant that the claims of public servants would be dealt with more expeditiously than was the case under the other system. This bill is unnecessary because all the Public Service organizations are satisfied with the existing arbitration system. I am astonished that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) did not inform the Public Service organizations of his proposal to amend the Public Service Arbitration Act in order to allow the right of appeal from the decision of the Arbitrator to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. I believe that the introduction of this bill is contrary to the promise that was given by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in his policy speech at the general election campaign in 1949, when he said -
The industrial problem is crucial! The highest production and living standards cannot be achieved without a new and human spirit in the industrial world. No industry can succeed without the co-operation of capital, management and labour.
The Government has not co-operated withPublic Service organizations in this matter. Yesterday, delegates from all the Public Service organizations, representing more than 100,000 public servants, assembled in Canberra for the purpose of discussing, among other things, this bill. They expressed disappointment that the Public Service arbitration system will be upset by this legislation. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has pointed out that decisions on claims by Public Service organizations will be delayed as a result of the bill. At present, a determination by the Arbitrator, before it becomes operative, must lie on the table of the House for 30 days. If the Parliament is in recess, some time may elapse before the determination may be laid on the table. I admit that the Arbitrator usually specifies, in his determination, the date on which the award shall take effect, but delay may occur if the Parliament is in recess, and the provision of the right of appeal to the court from the decision of the Arbitrator will lengthen the period of waiting. As was the practice before 1920, the Public Service Board or a Public Service organization, if it appeals against the decision of the Arbitrator, will be obliged to await its turn until the Full Court can hear its claim. When a decision has been given by the court, the award will have to lie on the table for 30 days while the Parliament is in session, before it becomes operative. This alteration of the act has not been sought by Public Service organizations. The general secretary of the High Council of Public Service Unions, the general secretary of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union and officials of other Public Service organizations do not support this amendment.
– This Government is antiPublic Service.
– That is so. The Minister should have paid to the Public Service organizations the courtesy of acquainting them with his proposal to amend the act before he introduced this legislation.
– I regret that the Government has extended the scope of the error it has already committed in providing for the right of appeal from the decisions of conciliation commissioners to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. I particularly regret the extension of the right of appeal to Public Service arbitration. As the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) has stated, this . amendment has not been sought by any of the Public Service organizations, and I am confident that the Public Service Board has not asked for it. Apparently, it is to be thrust upon two unwilling parties. For the purposes of this legislation, the board may be regarded as the employer, and the unions as the representatives of the employees, and neither of the two parties has asked for, or wants, the amendment. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) has certainly carried the principle of consistency too far when he attempts to introduce it into the sphere of Public Service arbitration. The first Public Service Arbitrator was appointed in order to achieve speed in reaching decisions on claims submitted on behalf of employees of the Commonwealth. I am sure that neither the Minister nor any Government supporter will contend that the proposed amendment will result in speedier decisions. Considerable delays will occur if the right of appeal against the decision of the Public Service Arbitrator to the court is exercised by either of the two parties.
The purpose of appointing a Public Service Arbitrator and a special arbitrator to hear claims on behalf of employees of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority was to decentralize decisions in relation to employment, so that for the extraordinarily divergent classes and grades of employment, there would not be a rigid system of centralization of decisions, and particular industries would be enabled to solve their own problems as far as possible round the conference table. Unfortunately, this legislation reverses that trend to decentralize arbitration. Apparently, the Government is now bent on centralizing once more decisions in relation to the tremendous variety of occupations through the narrow channel of a small number of judges sitting in a central court. It is a retrograde step. Any one who has had experience of the wages board system in Victoria or of the Public Service Arbitrator must realize that the ideal system for achieving speedy settlements of disputes or claims is by means of representatives of employers and employees meeting at a conference table with an impartial chairman to decide the issues. Such has been the case with the Public Service Arbitrator. Tremendous legal expenses will be involved in taking Public Service cases, particularly in respect of the administrative and clerical divisions, to the court, and the judges will have great difficulty in understanding the special problems of the Public Service. Only some one who has a thorough knowledge of the background of the Public Service can deal adequately with such matters.
The Public Service arbitration system was established in order that the specialized knowledge of union officials representing the Public Service employees and Public Service Board authorities would be enabled to consider a claim without the legalism and formalism that the court requires, and settle their special problems in a speedy and efficient manner. Whatever complaints the Public Service organizations or the board may have against the Public Service arbitration system, they have neither sought nor desired this legislation to provide for the right of appeal to the court against the decision of the Arbitrator. The legislation has no justification on the grounds of the necessity for speedy decisions and for having decisions decentralized so that specialized experts may deal with specialized problems in industries that they know well. It is bad because it will foster an excessive degree of legalism and formality in approaching the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The aim of the Government should be to avoid legal formality and expense. Public Service organizations will become involved under this legislation when the right oi appeal has been established. Then, instead of ha ving their disputes settled speedily and their grievances discussed in a friendly atmosphere, bewigged lawyers will enter into the matter, tremendous fees will be charged and learned judges will take a great deal of time to arrive at decisions because they will have no specialized knowledge of the problems of the industries with which they are dealing.
I was secretary of a Public Service association for many years and I know that the complications of Public Service ti wards are enormous. That must be so, because many different grades of employment are involved, as well as the. problems of people working in different departments. Such problems and difficulties can be resolved only by an arbitrator who knows all about the Public Service and the background of its problems. I believe that the Government should not introduce a. right of appeal from the decisions of the Public Service Arbitrator. Such legislation has been opposed by the Public Service employees organizations, and also by the Public Service Board. Therefore, what justification has the Government for introducing this system into this sphere of arbitration? The complaints that may have been made about conciliation commissioners cannot be made about the Public Service arbitration system. That system has worked very satisfactorily, from the viewpoint of both employees and employer, except for the ordinary grouches that are always evident.
The Opposition opposes this legislation because it is a retrograde step in the Government’s relationship with the Public Service. The Minister said that if the Public Service Arbitrator dealt only w:th administrative, professional, or clerical officers, the right of appeal might not be necessary, but because he has to deal with thousands of people who are employed by many government instrumentalities, some steps must bc taken to establish a right of appeal. He said that that was necessary because the right of appeal had already been given to employees and employers in outside allied industries.
If the Public Service Arbitrator has any difficulty about the thousands of employees of the. Commonwealth Railways and other authorities, how does the Minister think that it will be resolved by the right of appeal? If the Minister believes that the conditions of employees within the government authorities should be the same as those of workers in outside industries, why does he not provide that those employees shall be employed under the. terms and conditions of the appropriate awards made by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration? By keeping these employees under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Arbitrator, and by providing a right of appeal, the Minister will only make possible endless delays. If the Government does not believe that a decision of the Public Service Arbitrator coincides with outside awards it can appeal to the Full Court of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to bring the two awards into line. That seems to me to be an awkward, costly and complicated process. I regret that the Government has seen fit to introduce this legislation. It will not speed up the Public Service decisions, secure the specialized knowledge required in dealing with Public Service problems, or prevent an ‘ intrusion of legalism and costly legal expenses into the arbitration system. For those three reasons alone the bill fails, and the Government is to be condemned for having introduced it in the face of the direct opposition of the employees and the tacit, if not direct, opposition of the Public Service Board.
– I support the observations made by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), who has a very wide knowledge of the law. He served on the High Court of Australia for many years, and has dealt with phases of the law that no other honorable member has dealt with or is ever likely to deal with. I also support the remarks of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon). It is an insult to Mr. Castieau and to Judge “Wright to bring before the Parliament bills such as these. No living soul can say that those gentlemen have Droved to be incompetent and have not carried out their duties in a praiseworthy fashion. The SnowyMountains Hydro-electric Authority has not asked the Government to introduce this legislation, and to my knowledge no union lias asked the Government to give to it; the right to appeal against the decisions of Judge Wright. The Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court himself would be the last to assert that hu had anything like the ability of Judge Wright in industrial matters. The learned judge was appointed by this Government, and that appointment cannot be cavilled at by anybody because in my opinion, and I have appeared against him in proceedings before State and Federal industrial tribunals, he is an exceptionally fair-minded gentleman. I believe that he will always prove to be a very fair-minded judge. I cannot understand why this Government has now decided that Judge Wright is likely to prove so incompetent that a right of appeal should be provided against any decisions that he might make.
It is not fair that this Government should, by the introduction of legislation, imply that the Public Service Arbitrator is incompetent. Unless the Government can show that the Public Service Arbitrator has been incompetent in the past, it has no right to assume that he is likely to be incompetent in the future. No union has ever asked the Government to give to it a right of appeal against the decision of the Public Service Arbitrator, and the Government cannot point to a single decision of that gentleman which calls for recision or review. Mr. Castieau is a gentleman with the highest qualifications for his position. At one time he was Chief Parliamentary Draftsman for this Parliament, and I can speak with some personal knowledge of him because, for a number of years, I had the great honour to appear before him as advocate for the Australian Workers Union in proceedings on behalf of employees of the Commonwealth Kailways. I say publicly that in all my experience I have never met a fairer man than Mr. Castieau. I- have never met a gentleman who has shown a greater capacity to understand the problems presented to him than Mr. Castieau has shown. Now, however, although he has committed no offence and has never been guilty of making a decision that would justify an appeal, like the sword of Damocles this bill is to hang over his head. He will know after this bill becomes law that from then onwards he can no longer administer justice as he thinks fit, but must constantly ask himself what the Chief Judge will think about what he is doing.
– That is nonsense.
– It is certainly not nonsense. Mr. Castieau must not be harassed in his duties by legislation such as this. He should not have to study the records to find out what the Chief Judge thinks about matters that may come before him, or what the Full Court might do. If that is to be the position, it would be better to allow the Chief Judge and the Full Court of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to .handle directly all matters affecting the Public Service. I believe that this legislation will place in jeopardy decisions that have already been made by the Public Service Arbitrator and his predecessors.
I believe that many decisions will have to be altered by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court because they will be inconsistent with decisions that affect similar employees who are outside the Public Service. I shall cite from memory a specific case that has reference to the Commonwealth Railways. A certain determination of Mr. Castieau gave to gangers employed on the Commonwealth Rail ways the right to demand timepieces free of charge from the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner. The award in that respect is the only railway award in Australia that gives such a right to gangers. Fortunately, the Government cannot appeal against that decision now because an appeal, according to this bill, must be lodged within fourteen days of a decision having been made. Nevertheless, that example will show what might happen under this legislation. Mr. Castieau gave this concession to the Commonwealth Railways gangers, knowing that a similar concession had not been given to any others, simply because he had travelled from one end of the Commonwealth Railways to the other and had personally interviewed employees in order to obtain a thorough first-hand knowledge of the matter. With great respect to the Chief Judge, and to other judges of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, I say that they cannot be expected to have a knowledge of Public Service matters such as that which Mr. Castieau has.
Distance leave is another concession to Commonwealth Railways employees which would be rejected on appeal by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The district allowance, the right to attend to arbitration business while in receipt of full pay, the provision that the determination shall apply only to financial members of the union, compassionate leave, and the provision for three weeks’ annual leave, two weeks’ annual sick leave on full pay, eight days on half pay, and six days on one-third pay, such leave to be cumulative up to 52 weeks on full pay, are only a few of the rights that Mr. Castieau and his predecessors have granted to Commonwealth railwaymen, because of the peculiar conditions applicable to their work, which the Chief Judge and his brother judges would probably take away from them on appeal. The trouble is that this Government believes that Mr. Castieau is not sufficiently subservient. It wants to make him a mere lackey, or rubber stamp. It proposes to take away his independence as an arbitrator, destroy his initiative, and deprive him of the right to administer justice as he 3ees it, because, when the bill becomes law, the right of appeal to the Chief Judge, and finally to the Full Court, will be continually hanging over his head. Never before has a government attempted to enact legislation of this character.
– We are never too old to learn.
– I agree, but you are not learning. The older you get the sillier you get.
-Order ! The honorable gentleman must not proceed in that vein. Personal reflections on other honorable members are distinctly out of order.
– He provoked me.
– Order ! The honors able gentleman will not have any trouble if he ignores interjections and addresses me.
– The Australian Workers Union had an unfortunate experience when Judge DrakeBrockman dealt with a matter that affected Commonwealth Railways employees. This learned judge, who at one time was an anti-Labour senator, knew so little about the law of the land that he decided to reduce the basic wage for those employees by 7s. a week, although the act provided that only the Full Court could alter the basic wage. The Australian Workers Union appealed to the High Court, and history records that this supposedly learned judge-
– Order ! I shall not allow the honorable gentleman to engage in a discussion of the merits of judges. His remarks are distinctly out of order. I point out to him that any discussion affecting the judges of the Commonwealth can take place only on a motion for their removal from the Bench. If the honorable gentleman proposes to proceed along that line, I shall order him to resume his seat.
– I do not want to dispute your ruling, Mr. Speaker, but I point out that the judge concerned is no longer on the Bench.
– The coal-mining unions asked that that judge be appointed to preside over their affairs.
– All I know is that the decision to which I have referred was upset by the High Court. Having had that experience with a judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, I consider it to be preferable to retain the existing situation, in which competent men deal with industries of which they have a thorough knowledge.
– in reply - I am indebted to honorable members for the speedy passage that they have decided to grant to the two bills that the House is now considering. I do not wish to delay the House unnecessarily, but I think that I ought to give such explanations as 1 can. offer to those honorable members who have criticized the legislation. It is true, as the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) pointed out, that the basis of this legislation was adopted by the House when it passed the principal measure. Therefore, I propose to deal with special matters affecting the generalsystem that we have devised in order to achieve co-ordination on important questions of industrial principle.
The introduction of this legislation in no way implies any criticism of any individual who now holds, or formerly held, the post of a conciliation commissioner or of a judge under our arbitration system. It is utter nonsense to suggest that the introduction of a general system of appeals to apply not merely to decisions of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, but also to decisions of other industrial tribunals that function under Commonwealth jurisdiction, implies such a criticism. I am certain that all the persons who work in the field of arbitration will have the good sense not to place that construction upon the Government’s decision. Reference has been made by honorable members opposite to Judge Wright in commendatory terms that even the learned judge might regard as flattering. I welcome those references because the learned judge was appointed by this Government, and I am glad to know that the appointment has the approval of the Opposition. Obviously, the Government did not think that, having made such a satisfactory appointment, it - would be necessary to pass legislation in order to cure any mistakes that the learned judge might make. What I have said in relation to Judge Wright applies with equal force to Mr. Castieau. Many of us who have had long experience of this House recall Mr. Castieau as a very efficient officer in the responsible position of Parliamentary Draftsman. I have no reason to believe that he is not competently performing the duties of his present position. The Leader of the Opposition spoke of him as being a distinguished lawyer. I have no doubt that that is true of the present Arbitrator, but I am advised that there is no statutory requirement that the Public Service Arbitrator must be a lawyer, and the post has not always been held by a lawyer. There may be room for argument on whether or not the Arbitrator should be a lawyer, but that point is not in dispute.
It is not a function of the Public Service Arbitrator or of the judge who deals with the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority, to survey the whole field of industry, or to deal with the sort of problem that, from time to time, the Full Commonwealth Arbitration Court is called upon to examine. Mr. Galvin has been criticized by honorable members opposite because, as a conciliation commissioner, he considered that it was necessary for him to survey the whole economy and to base a decision on the state of the economy at a particular time. If those criticisms apply with any force to Mr. Galvin, they apply with equal force to the gentlemen who hold the positions that are now under review. I am certain that Mr. Galvin considered, after he had examined this very weighty problem, that it would be proper for the responsibility that rested on him to be shared more widely, and the arbitrators in the jurisdictions to which these bills refer, the parties that appear before them, and also the Chief Judge may well hold the view that cases that arise from time to time in those jurisdictions should be dealt with by the Full Court. I do not wish to elaborate this matter, and I do not say that decisions that have been given on such matters in the past have been wrong. However, issues will arise from time to time in which a decision of, say, the Public Service Arbitrator, may have an influence that will extend far beyond the field that he has authority to cover. That fact should be obvious to every honorable member.
For the purposes of illustration, I mention the subject of annual leave. Public Service awards provide for three weeks annual leave. The general practice in the rest of industry is to provide for two weeks annual leave. I do not say that it is wrong to give three weeks to the Public Service, or that the Full Court, if it were to examine the matter,, might not confirm those leave provisions. However, it is obvious that the Public Service Arbitrator will be required on occasions to make awards to cover certain classes of work that are’ performed not only in the Public Service but also in private industry. He must deal with workers who, if they were employed, not by the Government or some instrumentality of the Government, but by a private employer, would have their wages and conditions determined by the court proper. Surely it is desirable that, as far as possible, employees of private enterprise and employees of government instrumentalities who work under similar conditions should be in the same situation. That is the sort of problem that the Government envisaged that the court might be called upon to determine.
The Leader of the Opposiiton, in his concluding remarks, raised one or two matters of general importance that deserve some comment. When discussing the present disturbed state of industrial relations in Australia, he made a passing comment on the right of those who are covered by the arbitration system to withdraw their labour if they choose to do so. I find it hard to follow the logic of the right honorable gentleman’s proposition, and I am certain that he, in his heart, knows that there is no logic in it. It has been said, not once but many times in a variety of ways, by a man to whom honorable members opposite frequently refer with full approval, the late Mr. Justice Higgins, that it is not possible to have a system of industrial arbitration running side by side with recourse to the lawlessness of direct action. Until members of the Labour party in Australia face up to the implications of that proposition, there will not be industrial peace in this country. While members of the Labour party, who enjoy the respect of the people who elect them, refuse to acknowledge the obligation that their professed adherence to the arbitration system should carry with it, we shall not have industrial peace. While men of the stature of the Leader of the Opposition say to rank-and-file trade unionists, “ We believe in the arbitration system, but we also believe that you have the right to withdraw your labour whenever you choose to do so “, we shall not have industrial peace.
That is just a euphemistic way of telling the workers that they have the right to strike. The light honorable gentleman does not qualify that right. He does not say to the workers, “You have the right to strike if there is no tribunal accessible to deal with your case or, “ You have the right to strike if you are up against an employer who refuses to give to you a fair deal “. He knows that, under our present system, any employer who refused to give a fair deal to his employees could be brought to the court and forced to give a fair deal to them. It, is a tragedy for this country that those who profess adherence to the arbitration system and are prepared to pay lip service to it in this Parliament and on public platforms have not the moral courage to stand up to the implications of what they say. I remind the right honorable gentleman that Mr. Justice Higgins, in his book, A New Province for Law and Order, stated that there is no more reason for resort to direct action while an arbitration system is available than there was for the Chinaman in Charles Lamb’s story to burn his house down in order to have roast pig. But direct action has been encouraged, in season and out of season, by the attitude of honorable members opposite.
– Does the Minister believe in the right to strike?
– I do not acknowledge that a right to strike can be co-existent with an arbitration system. We must resort either to the rule of law or to the law of the jungle. We cannot have it both ways.’ We cannot have a litle arbitration and a little lawlessness, or direct action. I am prepared to acknowledge that we do not live under the rule of logic, but I think that industrial relations would be better if, upon these issues, there were a little more logic and a little less emotionalism. If honorable members opposite had the industrial welfare and the prosperity of the Australian worker at heart, they would not pay lip-service to the arbitration system and, at the same time, seek emotional support with the cry that the worker has a right to strike. If they maintained that our arbitration machinery is the best that we can devise, and that there must be some authority to give an impartial decision when industrial disputes arise, perhaps parties to such disputes would, at the end of arbitration proceedings, admit, that their cases had received a fair hearing and that the decision of the arbitrator should be accepted. If we could reach that stage in Australia, we should have, not only the best arbitration system in the world on paper, but, in practice, the most harmonious industrial relations ever achieved.
Much depends upon the Opposition. The Government, for its part, is trying to improve the arbitration machinery. “We know that the machinery itself will not carry us to the objectives to which I hope every honorable member aspires. We realize that those who use the machinery must have the will to make it work properly, and that those who legislate in this Parliament must have the will to give to the machinery an opportunity to work. We have given to the machinery that was established by the Labour party a reasonable opportunity to work. If I had responded to the pressure that has been brought to bear upon me, I could have gone much further than I have gone in altering the radical amendments of the arbitration! legislation that were sponsored by the Leader of the Opposition in 1947. The Government has said, “ Let us see whether we can make this system work, and whether we can. instil in both sides of industry a spirit of co-operation and a desire for teamwork that will be of value to Australia “. We can do no more than try to eliminate delays and achieve a greater degree of uniformity in dealing with industrial issues. All that we ask of the Opposition and the country is that the legislation shall be given a fair trial. It may be, as the Opposition says, that it will not work satisfactorily, but it may be, as we say, that it will work more satisfactorily than has the system we have known in the past, provided there is wise guidance and administration by the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and I think we can assume that there will be such guidance and administration. In the final analysis, the machinery will work satisfactorily only if those who go to arbitration do so in a spirit of willingness to accept the decision of the umpire.
I do not wish to be provocative or unduly critical. The Leader of the
Opposition knows quite well that, at the present time, the great defect of our arbitration system does not lie in the machinery itself. I believe that the overwhelming majority of the working men and women of Australia are quite prepared to accept the machinery as they find it, and to abide by the decisions that are given from time to time. I said earlier to-day in this chamber that 90 per cent, of the working hours that have been lost in Australia through strikes have been lost as a direct result, not of any defect in our arbitration machinery, but of Communist leadership and direction. The corollary to that is that the overwhelming majority of the people of this country, who are subject to awards of arbitration courts, are not Communists and never strike, and are prepared to accept this system as a reasonably effective method of solving their industrial problems.
The right honorable gentleman referred to the serious industrial dispute that is now exercising our minds. I want to say frankly that I welcome the attitude that he has adopted on that issue to-night. I welcome the statement that the Labour party believes in the arbitration system and that it does not condone direct action. The right honorable gentleman said that there should not be delays in dealing with these matters. We are trying to obviate such delays. So far as lies within my power, I shall ensure that there will be no delays. But we must not permit ourselves to be deluded by people who have no objectives in their hearts and minds other than the destruction of our arbitration system and of our very way of life. They are endeavouring to achieve those objectives by fomenting industrial disputes. Healy, the general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, is determined to smash our arbitration system, if he can do so. He is working in conjunction with other true Communists in this country. He has sufficient guile and skill to be able from time to time to present an industrial issue in such a manner as to conceal his real objective, and to win the support of people who would shy away from him if they could see that objective clearly. Such people must be taught that those who admit frankly, as he does, that they are Communists and are working in the interests of international communism, have not at heart the interests either of the Australian arbitration system or of Australian democratic government. Only gullible fools will permit themselves to be led by people who desire to destroy our democracy and all the democratic institutions in which we believe. If the members of the Opposition would cooperate with the Government in these matters, we could, by our joint adherence to the system of arbitration, show the way to the people who have elected us to this Parliament, and do a real service to the country. We have given that opportunity to honorable gentlemen opposite. We stand by the arbitration system. We shall take, I hope fearlessly, whatever steps are necessary to uphold the system. If the members of the Opposition believe in it, they will support us. This is a national challenge. We are prepared to co-operate with the Opposition in meeting it.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Ms. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– The Opposition has voted against the second reading of this bill. Therefore, we do not propose to take a test vote at this stage, but we shall divide the House on the second reading of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Power Bill 1952 under which to Judge Wright will be assigned the Snowy Mounatins project for arbitratioon purposes. Having said that, I do not believe that it is necessary to divide the committee.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 3rd June (vide page 1238), on motion by Mr. Holt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I do not wish to repeat any of the arguments that were used in the debate on the measure that was before the House earlier, but as I have indicated to the House in another capacity in committee, the Opposition proposes to divide the House on this bill. It is subject to the same serious defects as the previous legislation, in the opinion of the Opposition.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided.
– Order ! I heard somebody whistle. If any honorable member wants to whistle, he may go outside. Who whistled?
– I did not whistle.
– If there is any more of it,I shall name some honorable members. I have had enough of it. My temper may be just as frayed as is that of anybody else, and, if it is frayed, honorable members will know about it.
– I said that I did not whistle.
– I understood the honorable member to say that he did whistle. I simply warn honorable members that if they think they are going to joke, I can joke, too, and midnight is an excellent time to do so.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 4th June (vide page 1376), on motion by Mr. McBride -
That the bill benow read a second time.
– The primary purpose of the bill is to make provision for the atomic weapon ‘tests that are to be carried out at the Monte Bello Islands off the north-west coast of Australia. It is urgent, because of the imminence of the tests. However, the bill contains very important provisions which extend beyond that particular project. They may be open to some criticism on analysis but, after consideration, the Opposition believes that the bill should be passed and that there should be no opposition to it. In the light of precautions that are to be taken in connexion with the atomic tests, the Opposition asks the Minister to consider the application ofthe bill to other defence projects. As the Minister has stated previously, the bill contains some drastic provisions. They are justified in serious cases, and the Attorney-General must approve of prosecutions that are laid under it. That is all that I propose to say on behalf of the Opposition. We approve of the legislation.
Sitting suspended from 11.42 p.m. to 12.12 a.m. (Friday).
Friday, 6 June 1952 [ Quorum formed.]
– This bill is designed to ensure secrecy in respect of atom bomb experiments; and secrecy in this context means secrecy from Russia. I direct the attention of the House to, Russian policy in relation to atomic energy from 1945 onwards. Honorable members will recall that the first American atom bomb was exploded in the second half of that year. Since that date, and, indeed, for some time prior to it, Russia endeavoured to discover the secret of the atom bomb. It went to great lengths in order to create the climate of treason in which persons would be willing to reveal those secrets. At this late hour, I shall not examine in detail what was done; but I remind the House that, unfortunately, Russia’s plans were successful. As disclosures at spy trials that have been held in the meantime show, it succeeded in influencing persons to betray atomic secrets to it.
I turn to what Russia did in Australia, because I believe that we have a lesson to learn in that respect. By way of illustration, I shall cite an incident of which I have first-hand knowledge that occurred in Sydney in April in 1946. It was a small incident, but in microcosm it revealed a great deal. At that time, Communist agents, particularly in scientific circles, were busy trying to encourage this kind of treason. In furtherance of their scheme they arranged for the convening of a public meeting to discuss the atomic bomb and atomic knowledge generally. The meeting was held publicly, because it was meant to produce a certain effect. In those circumstances, I attended it with the object of endeavouring to counter propaganda that was put out at it. That is why I am able to speak with first-hand knowledge of what occurred at the meeting, which, incidentally, was reported in thi press. The meeting was convened by a body known as the Australian Association of Scientific Workers, which included in its ranks a number of wellmeaning youths who were not Communists. The direction of policy of that association apparently rested completely in Communists’ hands. That meeting was designed as a conditioning bed for treason. At it, speakers were put up to say how ridiculous it was to maintain secrecy about the atom bomb, and to point out to scientists how they could render themselves liable to be thrown into gaol if they breached such secrecy. Other speakers were put up to say how lovely everything in the world would be if there were no secrecy, or if Russia controlled everything. These lines were followed, for example, by Professor Duhig, a Communist, and
Russia was praised generally. I wish now to refer to two resolutions which the meeting carried. The first of them was to the effect that there should be no atomic secrets, including secrecy with respect to the war-like use of atomic energy. The second resolution protested against the imprisonment of Nunn May, who had just been convicted for making atomic knowledge available to Russian agents. The purpose of the speakers at that meeting was to induce scientists to believe that by foregoing all secrecy they would be doing something in the interest of humanity. Those speakers represented traitors like Nunn May as heroes. They assiduously and cunningly fostered the cult of treason.
The terrible fact is that they succeeded in achieving that objective. What was done in Australia was done in Great Britain and Canada, where atomic knowledge was much more significant and vital. The Communists were able to establish a climate of treason. They were able to persuade persons like Dr. Fuchs to betray atomic secrets to Russia and thereby endanger all humanity. Do not let us underrate their success. We should learn a lesson from the way in which they achieved it. They did so by duping people by their propaganda, through which they planted in the minds of their dupes the fallacious idea that they were in some sense heroes. For every active dupe, who was an active traitor, there were on the outside of this conspiracy a number of indeterminate persons who, themselves, were not traitors, but who, by their attitude, made possible the activities of the traitors. It is interesting ‘ to note that the meeting to which I have referred was attended by a number of people who were not Communists and who did not realize how they were being shepherded towards treason by Communist sheep-dogs who were scattered in the audience. The general Communist line at the meeting was controlled apparently by a self-confessed Communist, but he took very little public part in the proceedings. I refer to Dr. Makinson, who is lecturer in physcis at the University of Sydney. It is always difficult to mention names, because we do not like to face up to the fact that evil and treason have their human embodiments. But we must face the fact that if we do not deal with those particular individuals, and if we take refuge always in generalities, we shall suffer. I may say that I shall be only too happy to say outside, without the privilege that attaches very rightly to statements that are made in this House, anything that I am -now saying about Dr. Makinson. Dr. Makinson was a self-confessed Communist, and I should say that at that time he was conducting what was virtually a campaign of treason on the highest level. It was a campaign directed, as parallel campaigns were directed in other parts of the world, to the creation of a climate of treason in which Dr. Fuchs and his. counterparts were possible. It was a successful scheme.
I have no proof that Dr. Makinson is still a Communist, but I have no doubt that he is. He certainly has given no indication that he is otherwise. This man, who organized what was in effect treasonable conspiracy, remains a lecturer in physics at the University of Sydney. While that position continues, what is the use of our precautions at Monte Bello? We shall have a security screen there, but numbers of scientists will be there who will be in a position to talk to their confreres. Unfortunately, it is very difficult for a scientist, in conversation with another scientist, to conceal from him the things that it is vital for Russia to know. I cannot believe, when we have scientists like Dr. Makinson freely talking to eminent atomic scientists who arc quite loyal, that we shall be able to keep from Russia information that we wish to conceal. Therefore, excellent though the bill is, and although it should be, and, I am sure, will be, supported in every way in this House, it does not of itself give us the security that we should like to have. This is probably the first time in Australia when there have been really important secrets to be stolen. There may have been some secrets of importance at the Woomera Range, but not secrets like this. It behoves us at this time, therefore, to see what action can be taken to close the loop-holes for treason. For the Communists it is no longer so much a case of creating the climate of treason,which is the Communist main line. That work has already been done only toosuccessfully. It is necessary for us todeal with the Communists who remain. - After all, there is no difficulty in their communicating with the outside world.
– The Government issued Communists with passports.
– The interjection about passports is a relevant one. Dr. Makinson went abroad only a few months ago, whether to get instructions or to give information, or simply for other purposes, I do not know. But even if he had not gone there are still ample opportunities and avenues open for the communication of his treason. The Russian legation in Australia has its diplomatic bag, and there is no let or hindrance to the communication of information to that legation. There is also no way of sealing that information in Australia by denying the issue of passports to certain people.
I have posed the question. I do not know what the solution is in detail, but two things seem to me to stand out. First, there is the need of publicity on which people are Communists. We do not want, perhaps, to expose the detailed working of our security service, but there are many people who can be tabbed with certainty as being Communists without involving a revelation of our security apparatus. As I have said, Dr. Makinson was definitely a Communist. I believe that he still is a Communist, although I have no proof of it. By “ Communist “, I mean a member of the Communist party. There are undoubtedly many other cases.
I believe that it is the duty of the Government to arrange, in cases such as this, that publication is made by Gazette or otherwise of the names of the people concerned because if people can identify a person as a Communist, then his or her influence over them is very much lessened. Frequently a man who is, in fact, a member of the Communist party, gains his influence by going round saying, “I am not a Communist, but- “ and then pouring out his propaganda poison. I believe in counteracting communism, and particularly Communist espionage. That kind of identification in appropriate cases, and subject to appropriate safeguards, is one of the most potent instruments that lies at our hands, and we must find instruments to counteract the kind of treason that has been only too successfully used on the other side of the world. Do not let us “ kid “ ourselves it has not been successful. Dr. Fuchs is a living monument of the success of the Communist treason policy. It has not, I think, become a great question in Australia yet, so far as espionage is concerned, because this is the first time that we have had secrets worth stealing.
The second thing is that we also must try to create the necessary moral climate round the Communist.We should be creating the idea that a Communist is a person with whom nobody should associate. We should create the moral idea that to be a Communist is to be a person who would do something that is morally disgusting. We should create the idea that a member of the Communist party has done something which denies him all the decencies of our society. That moral climate round the Communists would. be a potent screen. I regret that too many people in all walks of life have the idea that although some person or other may be a Communist he is perhaps a very decent person. Let us be reasonable. Let us say that people who are Communists are not decent persons in any possible sense of the word “ decent “, and that anybody who associates with them, by that very association, shares to some degree in their infamy. If that kind of moral climate can be got abroad in the community, the opportunity for the Fuchses and the Makinsons - and I believe that Dr. Makinson is an embryo Dr. Fuchs - to do harm would be greatly lessened. I have brought those matters forward, but not as a complete solution of the difficulties. I have merely stated the difficulties.
– It comes as a surprise to hear from the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) a speech in which he advocates that we should regard Communists as morally disgusting, when we all have heard from the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), and also from otherhonorable members, the information that the honorable member himself spent a considerable part of his time, not many years ago, presenting those Communists with trophies, so closelywas he associated with the Communistsat Port Kembla.
– He had a long talk with Ted Roach at his home at Wollongong.
– That is another example. It comes rather oddly from the honorable member for Mackellar to advocate this manner of approach. However, I have a constructive suggestion to make about the bill.
– The Leader of the Opposition told the honorable member not to say anything.
– I am acting under my leader’s instructions, and shall not delay the passage of the bill unduly. I am somewhat disappointed that this legislation does not meet the situation to which I drew attention some months ago during the visit to Port Adelaide of the Japanese vessel Orient Maru. On that occasion, I complained that the law did not give the Government sufficient power to enable it to take action against aliens who behaved suspiciously, orin a way that might give rise to the suspicion that they were guilty of espionage or were carrying on some form of subversive activity. Unfortunately, no Minister has yet seen fit to answer my plea that action should be taken to strengthen our laws applicable to national security. Clause 17 of the bill provides -
A person shall riot, except with the authority of the officer in. charge of a prohibited area, have in his possession, carry or use a camera or other photographic apparatus or material while he is in or passing over the prohibited area.
That provision can be applied only to a person who is in, or passes over, a prohibited area. The Government overlooks the fact that espionage often takes place in districts that may not have been declared prohibited areas. It is not practicable to declare some parts of the country prohibited areas. The Minister should have the bill redrafted so as to enable the authorities to take suitable action against an alien who acts in a suspicious way or in a manner that gives rise to the suspicion that he is committing sabotage, espionage, or any form of subversive activity. I also direct attention to clause. 20 (1.), which reads as follows : -
A Commonwealth officer acting in the course of his duty or employment, or a constable, may, without warrant, detain for the purpose of search, and search, a person in the neighbourhood of, entering, seeking to enter, being within, leaving or seeking to leave a prohibited area, and any bag or other article in the possession of the person.
Some time ago, I directed the attention of the House to the fact that Japanese sailors from Orient Maru were carrying on activities that should have been investigated. They were photographing defence installations, drawing plans of the vital power-house at Port Adelaide, and taking soundings of the PortRiver. No one in Adelaide appeared to have any authority to intercept or interrogate the Japanese, or restrict their activities in any way. A citizen of Port Adelaide went to the local police station, but was informed that the police could not take action. He then went to the military head-quarters at Fort Largs, where he was told, “ We have no power. Go to the Birkenhead Naval Depot”. He went to the naval barracks, but Was told, “I am afraid that we cannot do anything about it “. Yet all the time the Japanese were taking photographs of defence installations.
– I rise to order. I should like to know whether the honorable member’s remarks are relevant to the bill.
– Order! There is no point of order.
– An approach was then made to security officers, who said, “ We have no police power. Perhaps the Commonwealth Investigation Branch will be able to take action “. The Commonwealth Investigation Branch said, “No, we cannot do anything. Go to the security service”. The citizen explained that he had been to the security service and was then advised, “ Perhaps the Department of Trade and Customs may be able to do something”. He said, “Will you approach that department? “ However, the Department of Trade and Customs said, “ We do not know the extent of our authority until we get an opinion from the Crown Solicitor”. The last I heard of the matter was that the Crown Solicitor was still trying to make up his mind whether the law gave the Government the right to interrogate and intercept aliens who acted in a suspicious manner. I believe that authority should be provided in this bill to enable the Government to discharge its defence responsibilities in a thorough manner. The bill, in its present form, does not grant that power. I make a final plea to the Minister for Defence (Mr. McBride) to seek authority under which the Government will be empowered to deal with aliens who act in a suspicious way.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Clause 6 -
Section sixteen of the Principal Act is amended -
by omitting from sub-section (1.) the word “An” and inserting in its stead the words “ Subject to this Act, an”;
by omitting sub-section (2.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-section: - “(2.) A Conciliation Commissioner may, and, at the direction of the Chief Judge or upon the application of a party who appears or is represented before him, shall, refer a question of law arising in relation to a matter before him, including a question whether he is empowered to exercise jurisdiction under this Act in relation to such a matter, for the opinion of the Court.”;
Senate’s Amendment No. 1. - Leave out “ or upon the application of a party who appears or is represented before him”.
New clause 10a -
Senate’s Amendment No. 2. - That, after clause 10, the following clause be inserted: - “ 10a. Section twenty-nine a of the Principal Act is amended by omitting from subsection (2.) the figure ‘ (3.) ‘ and inserting in its stead the figure ‘ (7.)
Clause 15 -
After section forty-seven of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - “47a. An order or award of a Conciliation Commissioner shall not, except by consent of all parties to the industrial dispute who appear or are represented before the Conciliation Commissioner, have effect until after the expiration of twenty-one days from the day of the order or award.”.
Senate’s Amendment No. 3. - Leave out “ except by consent of all parties to the industrial dispute who appear or are represented before the Conciliation Commissioner “, insert “unless all parties to the industrial dispute who appear or are represented before the Conciliation Commissioner consent or the Conciliation Commissioner otherwise directs”.
– I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
Three amendments have been made by the Senate. They were moved on behalf of the Government in the Senate as later consideration of the bill revealed some definite weaknesses. The Senate has agreed to them. As the new section 16 (2.) appears in the bill, a conciliation commissioner will be obliged to refer a question of law to the Full Court of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court if a party applied to have it referred. Quite clearly, the Government does not want the new system to be cluttered up by people taking unwarranted advantage of this provision by producing any type of legal question. Therefore, the Government has amended the clause. Further consideration and discussions have suggested that, as the clause stood when the bill left this chamber, the provision could be used to delay proceedings by raising questions which might or might not be questions of law and might or might not be relevant, and by requiring them to be referred to the court. If a conciliation commissioner declines to refer a question of law which he should refer, the Chief Judge, under this amendment, will be able to direct him. The second amendment is to correct a cross-reference which was not noticed until after the bill was printed. It is purely a drafting amendment. The third amendment is to give a conciliation commissioner power to waive the stay of 21 days which the bill places upon the commencement ofthe operation of awards and orders of conciliation commissioners. There may be oases in which it may be desirable for the conciliation commissioner to have power to waive the stay of 21 days even if the parties did not agree on the matter.
– I have studied the three amendments. The second one is purely a numbering amendment and has no significance. The other two are important to the bill. The first amendment is designed to correct a provision in the bill relating to questions of law which compelled a conciliation commissioner, upon the application of any party before him, to refer the question for the opinion of the Full Court at any stage of the proceedings. The partythat was represented had that absolute power. To some extent, the amendment restores the jurisdiction of the conciliation commissioner and prevents his jurisdiction being stayed by a party in that way. The amendment is important and clearly acceptable. The third amendment applies to a new provision in the bill. As the bill left the House of Represenatives it provided for an automatic stay of proceedings and nothing could be done to enforce an award for 21 days. The amendment will enable the conciliation commissioner to make an order so that an award will operate immediately. To that extent it restores the powers of the conciliation commissioner and from the point of view of the Opposition that is a slight improvement. The amendments do not affect the main objections that we have to the bill, but they are the only matters before the committee and can be accepted by the Opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Land Tax Bill 1952.
Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Bill 1952.
States Grants (War Service Land Settlement) Bill 1952.
Motion (by Sir Arthur Fadden) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next meeting.
Motion (by Sir Arthur Fadden) proposed -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
– Can the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Arthur Fadden) tell the House as nearly as possible, the probable date on which the House will sit again so that honorable members may make appropriate arrangements?
– in reply - I regret that I am unable to give any accurate information when the House is likely to meet again, but I can assure honorable members that as soon as it is possible to do so, I shall acquaint them with the details. At present I cannot hazard a guess.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Civil Aviation - Far South Coast OF New South Wales - Social Services - Security - Public Service - Water-
FRONT Employment - Telephone Services - The Parliament.
Motion (by Sir Arthur Fadden) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to take this opportunity of impressing on the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Arthur Fadden) the urgent need to make provision for the construction of an aerodrome at Merimbula. The fact that I raise the matter at this hour emphasizes the urgency with which it is regarded by the people who reside along the far south coast of New South Wales. Plans and estimates for the .construction of an ‘aerodrome have already been prepared. The Government is ready to construct it, but for various reasons the actual commencement of the construction has been postponed on a number of occasions. The area has no rail service and recently the shipping service to the district has been discontinued. In addition, it has been found necessary to withdraw the licence which enabled an air service to be operated from Bega to .Sydney. I ask the Government, therefore, to give particular attention to the case which has been submitted to it on behalf of the Far South Coast Aerodrome Development Committee. That important body represents the shires of Mumbulla and Imlay, the municipality of Bega, the Far South Coast Tourist Association, and the Bega District Chamber of Commerce. The urgency of this matter is becoming increasingly manifest. In support of that statement I direct attention to the following matters : - No other centre of population in New South Wales is so badly served from a transport viewpoint. The. nearest railheads are Nimmitabel, which is 48 miles distant, and Nowra, which is 180 miles distant. The former station route to Sydney necessitates a journey for a night and half a day, and the latter involves a journey by bus and train that takes eleven and a half hours. There is no rapid transport to either Sydney or Melbourne from Bega or from the popular tourist centres of Bermagui, Tathra, Merimbula, and Eden. The only air route is from Sydney to Moruya, which necessitates a three-hour bus trip to Bega, and a longer journey to Merimbula and Eden over incompleted highways which, frequently, are blocked by floods. Recently, the New South Wales Railways Department established a co-ordinated rail and road freight transport system, but this offers no relief in respect of passengers, urgent freight or medical supplies. When one realizes the advantages that are made available to other areas in the form of air-conditioned trains and, in many instances, air services,’ this district is, indeed, badly served. During the postwar period, hundreds of farms in the. area were electrified and this improvement has resulted in increased production of butter and perishable foodstuffs that are marketed in Sydney and Melbourne. Secondary industries that are dependent upon primary industries are obliged to wait for long periods to obtain plant replacements and, in these circumstances, it is difficult to maintain labour and output. Before the aero licences were cancelled this class of freight was carried by small planes which maintained a daily service to Bega.
The area is one of the finest tourist centres in Australia. Its climatic advantages are sought, particularly by Victorians. The centre is approximately two hours’ flying time from either Sydney or Melbourne. This part of New South Wales is advancing in productivity and population at a greater rate than are most country centres that depend upon primary industry. Therefore, the provision of additional aerodrome facilities and the improvement of air services to the centre would be more than justified. The Ear South Coast Aerodrome Development Committee is anxious to assist in this development, and will cooperate in any action that may be taken if the Government should consider the proposals that were previously made by the Imlay Shire Council to be impracticable. The necessity for the provision of an aerodrome has been stressed from a civil stand-point. Such a proposal would be of advantage also in respect of coastal defence, particularly as the work of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority progresses. I trust that the representations that I have put forward on behalf of the Ear South Coast Aerodrome Development Committee will be considered as a matter of urgency by the Government, particularly as the proposals that I have mentioned were originally approved and authority was given for the construction of the proposed aerodrome three or four years ago. The work could not be carried out, first, because of the inability of the Department of Works to implement programmes that had been approved by the Department of Civil Aviation;, and, more recently, through lack of finance. The requisite plans have been completed. I trust that the Treasurer will make provision for the construction of this aerodrome in the ensuing financial year.
– I have waited patiently for the last four weeks to direct the attention of the Government and particularly that of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) to the plight of hundreds of age pensioners in my electorate. This subject has not been mentioned in any debate that has taken place in this House during that period. Whilst we have discussed matters with respect to coal mines, wheat, wool, gold mines, aluminium production, industrial conciliation and arbitration and all sorts of matters that directly concern the welfare of the interests that supporters of the Government represent, not one word has been said on behalf of these pensioners. I concluded my maiden speech in this House, which I made two and a half years ago, with the following words: -
My one wish for the present, us a member of this Parliament, is that age pensioners shall be given some relief before very long. The members of this Parliament should be ashamed of the way in which age pensioners ave treated. If we do net do something for them, we shall have widespread semi-starvation in a land -of plenty.
Supporters of the Government have had much to say on behalf of other sections of the community, and it is about time that they listened to the other side of the story. Those honorable members represent the money bags. Many of them are wealthy, but they never give a thought to the plight of age pensioners. At the same time, the interests which honorable members opposite represent are subsidized in various ways by the Government. I have no doubt that they themselves exercise their right to claim child endowment and maternity allowances. The Government helps the community generally by providing price stabilization subsidies in respect of butter, tea and other necessaries. Hardly a day passes that we do not hear honorable members of the Liberal party plead with the Government to reduce taxes.
I urge the Government to give more sympathetic consideration to the needs of age pensioners. It is anticipated that in the near future, the price of butter will be increased by lid. per lb. Pensioners and persons who are obliged to subsist on fixed incomes, will not be able to bear that impost. Recently, I received a letter from a woman who resides at Mosman, which, by no stretch of the imagination can be considered to be a working-class suburb. That lady informed me that she had an income of 56s. a week, which she derived in the form of rent from three small properties, but that after she had paid rates and taxes, she had left only 26s. a week on which to live. I recall that the Treasurer referred to the late Mr. Chifley, when he was Prime Minister and Treasurer and when the Chifley Government was doing a great deal to help the pensioners, as a “ miser sitting ‘on a pot of gold “. We know that under the present treasurership the country is possibly at its lowest ebb ever. Whilst farmers have the opportunity to make their losses good, and men in industry may earn overtime or otherwise supplement their incomes, the poor people who live on pensions have no opportunity to help themselves. It would be easy for the Treasurer to make available to them an extra payment of £1 a week for the few pension periods that remain before the budget is passed. However, I fear that I am appealing to Caesar when I ask for anything for these poor people. When the Government took office the basic wage was £5 a week. It is now £11 3s. a week, and I ask the Treasurer how pensioners can live on the amount they now receive seeing that the basic wage is so high. I remember the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) saying in this House that the Government knew very well that pensioners could not live on £3 a week, but that surely their relations would help to keep them. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Townley) and other honorable members opposite made similar statements. As a result of the Government’s policy, thousands of people, all of them residents of industrial areas, are out of work, and even if they were able to help to keep their parents when they, were in work they would not be able to help in’ future. The housing shortage among these people is very bad.
– That is the fault of the State Labour Government.
– The honorablemember is talking like a .child. If he has nothing better to add to the debate than that contribution he should not offer an insult to these poor people. All we have- heard from the Government in the last two years, when we have: advanced any proposition to it, has been,- “ What did the Labour Government do?”
– I said that the housing position was the fault of the State Labour Government.
– I know very well what the honorable member said. The Commonwealth has robbed the State governments, just as it has robbed the poor people on behalf of whom I am pleading. New South Wales has no money left for housing for, or the relief of, these poor people. Some of them receive clothing and food from the State Department of Social Welfare, but when I received representations last week-
-Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I regret having’ to raise any matter at this very early hour of the morning, but it is the intention of the Government to close the Parliament for some months, and the matter to which I shall refer is of some urgency and importance. I therefore have no apology for taking up . the time of the House on it. There appears to be no limit to what the Government is prepared to do in organizing a police state, whilst at the same time it continually talks about its adherence to the democratic way of life and form of government. I have here a questionnaire, which is evidently now being circulated throughout the Public Service. This particular one was received by an officer of the Postal Department. It is interesting to learn from it the nature of the information that the Government is now seeking from its employees. To judge from this document the Government is now setting out on the sort of witch-hunt that was conceived in the United States of America. The top of the document bears the word “ Confidential”, below which appear the words “ Commonwealth of Australia “.
Underneath them is’ the word “ Department “ with a blank space left for the name of the particular department to be filled in. The document then requests a number of personal particulars. Included in the information that is required is the employee’3 name and address and nationality; it naturalized, the certificate number and date; the date and place of birth, and so on. At the bottom of the document, under the heading “Close Relations”, particulars are required regarding an employee’s husband or wife, with name, nationality and birthplace, and the maiden name of the wife, and her address. The father’s name, nationality, birth-place and address, and the mother’s name, including her maiden surname, nationality and birth-place and address are also required. Further down, under the heading “Referees”, the document states -
Give full names, addresses, and (if possible) business addresses and telephone numbers of three persons who know the applicant personally and are not relatives or members of the same department. If practicable, referees should be easily accessable in the State in which this form is completed and signed.
Below that statement is a declaration to be completed by the employee that all the information supplied in the form is true. “Why does the Government want to know such details about an employee^ parents, including the maiden name of his or her mother? This is something that is unprecedented in this country, and the public will be amazed to learn that although many of the employees who have received the questionnaire have been in the service for years, and are tried and trusted officers with great experience, they are now to be asked to fill in this document, because the Government believes in regimentation. It wants to regiment the workers, and it also wants to examine their political beliefs and ascertain their backgrounds, and to discover the political beliefs of their fathers, because of a suspicion that the sons may hold the same political views. If the Government is dissatisfied with the political views of an employee who might happen to be a trade unionist, or who may be regarded as a militant or a radical, he is to be excluded from the ser- vice. I bring this matter to notice so that the public will know what the Government is doing. There is no doubt about the reason why there is a big swing of public opinion against the Government. It is because the people are beginning to realize that the Government merely talks about democracy, but acts like a fascist government that believes in totalitarianism.
I now turn to another matter in order to show the distortion in which members of the Government indulge in connexion with the information that they furnish to the House. Yesterday, in reply to a question, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) said that the unemployment that exists on the waterfront to-day is due to a hold-up in the steel industry on the south coast of New South “Wales. But he conveniently avoided making any reference to the unemployment that exists to-day on the Sydney waterfront and in the other capital cities and ports. At the present time the Government and the Commonwealth Arbitration Court are, in my opinion, acting in a completely provocative manner with the idea of creating an industrial upheaval. That is what the Government is looking for now that it has its pool of unemployment, as we warned the people it was aiming to get when we fought the general election campaign in 1949. I have here the figures regarding the unemployment position on the waterfront in Sydney. The Government and the court claim that they are concerned about the overtime ban, yet the shipping companies cannot provide employment for the labour that is already available. The following are the details of the number of watersiders who received appearance money in Sydney in the last week or so: - “Wednesday, the 28th May, 484; Thursday, the 29th May, 2,031; Friday, the 30th May, 2,023; Monday, the 2nd June, 235 ; Tuesday, the 3rd June, 1,042. Those figures make it quite clear that there is unemployment on the Sydney waterfront. Honorable members should not imagine for one moment that the waterside workers want to remain idle and receive appearance money of a few shillings, which is nol sufficient for them to exist on. The men are anxious to work the ships, but because of the Government’s policy there are now very few ships to work and, as a result, many waterside workers are unemployed. I wish to impress this matter on the Acting Prime Minister while he is here, because though it has been raised on -other occasions in the House so far no satisfactory answer has come from the Government.
I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether telephone lines have been tapped by the security service, and whether tape recordings have been taken of conversations over the telephone systems connected to the homes and offices of trade union -officials and members of Parliament? I also ask the right honorable gentleman whether he is satisfied with the reply given by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony) to the complaint of the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) about a tapping of telephone lines which lead to and from Parliament House?
Let us examine the statement of the Postmaster-General. He said that the telephone lines had been tapped in order to ascertain the loading on them. He explained that the tapping was purely a routine matter, because the technicians -desired to find out whether the lines to and from Parliament House were sufficient to carry the loading. Evidently, the Postmaster-General could not think of any other excuse, because technicians, who can be questioned on the matter, will tell any honorable member who care? to make the investigation that the tapping of the telephone lines is not necessary in order to ascertain the loading. Irrespective of whether the lines are through a manual switch or an automatic exchange, the loading can bc checked without tapping. Therefore, I want to know why the telephone lines from Parliament House have been tapped.
This Government, if it is allowed to remain in office long enough, will establish in Australia a tyranny and a dictatorship that will probably be more drastic in its effect than that which formerly operated in the fascist countries, against whom the Allies secured victory in the last war. “We can see, particularly on the back benches opposite, the younger members of the fascisti, who came into the House :after the general election in 1949, and who would love to destroy the trade union movement and establish a dictatorship. They would like to destroy the Labour party, and prevent the voice of Labour from being heard.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has referred to honorable gentlemen who became members of this House in 1949 as the young fascisti. I take strong objection to that statement, and ask that it be withdrawn.
-Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney must withdraw the noun.
– I withdraw it. I shall now deal with another matter.
M.r. -SPEAKER.- Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– in reply - The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) has made strong representations for the establishment of an aerodrome at Merimbula, which is situated in his electorate. That matter will be given serious consideration. The determination of rates of pensions, to which the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) has referred, involves Government policy, which will be announced in due course. I shall bring the various matters raised by the honorable member for East Sydney to the notice of thi appropriate Ministers. The alleged tapping of telephone lines, about which he has questioned me, is serious. I have been assured by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony) that telephone lines from Parliament House have not been tapped other than for the routine check by technicians, but I promise the honorable member that I shall investigate the matter expeditiously, and take appropriate action, should it be necessary. I cannot promise him to do more than that. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) is not in the chamber to reply to the statements of the honorable gentleman about the situation on the Sydney waterfront.
– I am here. The statements of the honorable member for East Sydney were not worth a reply. He let off three damp squibs. I do not know why any notice is being taken of them.
– The Minister cannot deny the accuracy of the figures I have given. That is why he does not give a reply.
– I havenow dealt with all the matters raised on the motion for the adjournment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Telegraphs Agreement - Commonwealth Telecommunications Board - First General Report to 31st December, 1951, and Statement of Accounts to 31st March* 1951.
Public Service Arbitration Act - Determination - 1952 - No. 42 - Musicians’ Union of Australia.
House adjourned at 4.35 a.m. (Friday) to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker.
The following answers to questions were circulated:-
n asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1
n asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
What was the cost of each visit overseas by Ministers during the past! year ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The honorable member will recall that inquiries about visits overseas by Ministers were made by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) on the 27th September, 1951, and by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) on the 22nd February, 1952. Since the reply was given to the honorable member for East Sydney, the Right Honorable R. G. Casey has been, and the Prime Minister is at present,’ abroad. If the honorable member requires details of such costs he should move for a return.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s .questions is as follows : - 1 and 2. I would invite the attention of the honorable member to my recent secondreading speech on the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1951-1952, in which I reviewed the budget prospects for the current year. I then said that total expenditure in 1951-52 was likely to exceed the budget estimate by about £5,000,000.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
Are intending German migrants questioned as to any former association with Nazi organizations?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Migrants from Germany are of two types - those selected as workers and brought to Australia by arrangement between the authorities concerned and certain employers engaged in projects of national importance for employment on those projects, and those who come to Australia as landing permit holders in the normal way. “ Special project “ workers are interviewed personally by Commonwealth representatives and are questioned concerning any former association with Nazi organizations. Landing permit holders are also questioned personally, in the majority of cases, but in any event, on application for an Australian entry vise, are required to complete a questionnaire, one of the questions asked being as fellows:-“ Have you (or your wife) ever been a member of the German Armed Forces, Army. Navy or Air Force, or have you (or your wife) applied for membership in, or become a member of, the N.S.D.A.P. or its subsidiary organizations? “ Naturally, the answers to the questions asked, either personally or by ‘questionnaire, are not accepted without further inquiry, and in each case, every applicant is checked against the bulk records of the Nazi party and its affiliated organizations and subsidiaries which fell into Allied hands at the termination of hostilities.
s asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon noticeWill he consider issuing an instruction to his officers to co-operate with the Queensland Transport Department, or the local butter factories, when dealing with mail contracts in country areas where services such as cream routes or road passenger services exist with a view to obtaining a more economic price for all the parties concerned and providing improved and more satisfactory passenger and cream handling services?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The position which the honorable member contemplates is actually already in existence. Mail service contracts are widely advertised in addition to which district officers are required to take all possible steps towards stimulating local interest in mail tenders particularly in cases where the contract has been re-advertised because the first call has not attracted any reasonably priced tenders and to that end the officers arc expected to co-operate with any parties who may be interested. By established practice also the department co-operates with the State Transport Board to the fullest extent possible in matters affecting road mail service contracts. Whilst, therefore, a further specific instruction is regarded as unnecessary steps have been taken to again bring the matter to the notice of all concerned.
y. - On the 29th May, 1952, the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) asked the following questions : -
Will the Acting Prime Minister or whichever of his colleagues is prepared to accept the responsibility, say whether he is aware that late last year a Japanese ship, Orient Maru, after discharging in Melbourne a full cargo of Indian coal upon which a substantial federal subsidy was paid, later took on a quantity of Australian coal as bunkers for the return trip? Is it also a fact that, following a shipment to Japan of 5,000 tons of Queensland coal in the vessel An Ding, further orders have been received for this coal? In view of the facts that Blair Athol coal is accepted as being an ideal bunker coal, and that ample supplies are always available on the wharf at Gladstone, in Queensland, will the Minister insist that foreign ships, particularly those using the Torres Strait route, bunker at that port and do not draw on the depleted stocks of coal in the southern States?
The Minister for Shipping and Transport has furnished the following reply : -
The Government is aware that the Japanese ship Orient Maru brought a cargo of Indian coal to Melbourne and later bunkered at Newcastle. The coal which was carried in this vessel was the property of the Victorian Government on which a subsidy was paid by the Commonwealth in accordance with the agreement between the two governments. As a signatory to the International Regime of Maritime Ports, the Commonwealth is required to accord facilities to vessels belonging to cosignatory powers, as is Japan. For this reason the master of the Orient Maru was fully entitled to request bunkers at Newcastle provided coal was available. Coal carried iii vessels as bunkers is distinct from coal carried as cargo. The bunker coal is a charge against the ship-owner, whereas coal carried as cargo is the property of the consignee. _ Normally, overseas vessels bringing subsidized coal to Australia cannot carry sufficient bunkers for their return voyage. The master is not empowered to broach cargo in his care whether it be coal or any other commodity except in cases of dire emergency, it being th« master’s duty so far as it is in his power to deliver intact to the consignee the cargo placed in his care. Coal supplied as bunkers to overseas vessels during 1051 in New South Wales was: - Newcastle, 42.801 tons; Sydney, 74.541 tons: Port Kembla. 4.710 tons. A total of 122.058 tons. As Orient Maru has a bunker capacity of 702 tons it will be seen that the quantity supplied to this vessel is insignificant when compared with the total supplied to all overseas vessels. It is true that (lm vessel An Ding recently lifted a cargo of Callide coal from Gladstone for Japan, but there *ns been no indication so far as the Commonwealth is aware of any further orders being placed bv Janan for Callide coal. While Blair Athol coal is accepted as being a good bunker coal the Commonwealth Government has no power to insist that foreign ships using any particular route should bunker at the Port of Gladstone. In fact, it is probable that in many cases it would be uneconomic for vessels which have completed loading at Sydney or Newcastle to divert to Gladstone for bunkering (purposes. However, if the owners of the Blair Athol coal wish to improve sales of bunkers to shipowners it is quite open to them to advise owners or their agents in Australia of the availability of this coal.
;CONNOR asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
n asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
d asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
n asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1. [a) Imports of all forms of sulphur (including brimstone), for the required periods were: 1939-40, 105,345 tons; 1945-40, 81,070 tons; 1949-50, 177,942 tons; 1950-51, 105,934 tons; 1951-52, 103,800 tons (estimated). Separate details for brimstone only are not recorded. (6) Crude sulphur is mined, not manufactured. There are no known deposits of crude sulphur in Australia.
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
– The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) has supplied the following reply: -
y asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The agreements with the States are still in operation.
C F. JOHNSTON, COMMONWEALTH GOVT. PRINTER, CANBERRA.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 June 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1952/19520605_reps_20_217/>.