20th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Right Honorable Sir George Pearce, K.C.V.O., an original member of the Senate of the Commonwealth Parliament, a member thereafter for 38 years and a former
Minister of State, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to lug family in their bereavement.
In submitting this motion to the House I should like to put on record, very briefly some of the work done by the late Sir George Pearce. He died on the 24th June of this year at the age of 82 years. He was a member of the Commonwealth Grants Commission from January, 1939, to January, 1944, and he was chairman of the Defence Board of Business Administration during the last war. He was, as everybody will know, a senator forWestern Australia from 1901 to 1938 and he held many ministerial portfolios during his long terra in Parliament. He was Acting Prime Minister in 1916 and he was a Commonwealth Minister for 25 years. When defeated in 1937 he was the only remaining original member of the Senate,
He was Chairman of Committees in 1907- 8, and Minister for Defence in 1908- 9, from 1910 to 1913, from 1914 to 1921 and from 1932 to 1934. He visited England in 1919 in connexion with the repatriation of Australian soldiers. He was. a signatory of the Peace Treaty with Austria as a representative of Australia in 1919. He represented Australia at the Disarmament Conference atWashington in 1921. He was Minister for Home and Territories from 1921 to 1926, VicePresident of the Executive Council from 1926 to 1929, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate in 1930-31, Minister for External Affairs and Minister in Charge of Territories from October, 1934, to November, 1937, when he resigned from Cabinet following’ his defeat at the general election in 1937. He was a delegate to the League of Nations in 1927. He was, itmay rightly be said, one of the authors of the Royal . Australian Navy and of the Royal Australian Air Force. He became a Privy Councillor in 1921. He was awarded the decoration of a Commander of the Legion of Honour in 1924 and became a Knight Commander of the “Victorian Order in 1927.
The late Sir George Pearce is survived by twosons and two daughters to whom the profound sympathy of this House will go out. I do not desire to attempt the task of evaluating the work lune by Sir George Pearce. I content myself by saying that I think, and we all thought, that he was a very distinguished Australian. If I may make one personal observation, as one who has himself had a good deal of experience of sitting in governments and of being involved in the work of .governments, it is that I do not think that I ever sat in any cabinet with an ab!er man. 1 atn perfectly certain that, as time noes on, the work done by Sir George Pearce. and the character, quality, and ability he brought to the service of this country will bo increasingly recognized.
– On behalf of Her Majesty’s Opposition I support and second the motion that the Prime Minister has moved. The work of Sir George Pearce over the years really speaks eloquently for itself, but there are two matters concerned with it with which I urn, to some degree, acquainted personally. They are Ms work in connexion with the Commonwealth Grants Commission and his work on the Board of Business Administration of the Department of Defence. I know that the services Hindered by Sir George Pearce during World War II. were regarded . very highly by the” War Cabinet and the Australian War Advisory Council of i hose days, and were also so regarded by the then Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin. I have much honour, therefore, in seconding the motion.
– I desire to associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). It wag my privilege to know the late Sir George Pearce intimately. .We entered the Parliament together, and for many years were closely associated as fellow members of Parliament and as members’ of the same, government. He was one of the best administrators I have known. He was tireless in his efforts to serve his country and to promote the well-being and interests of members of the defence forces and of the people generally. It is inevitable that memories of the past should crowd in upon me on the occasion when we are lamenting the passing of a great parliamentarian. Sir George Pearce may be so called, because ho passed the greater part of his life in parliaments. Nobody is better able than I am to speak of his many great qualities. He had wide vision and ripe judgment. Keenly alive to the vital issues at stake in World War I., he bent all his efforts to perfecting our defence. He had a gift for details, and the defence forces of Australia, which covered themselves with glory, owed much to his sleepless care. He stood in the forefront of the governments of his day. His outstanding quality, however, was his gift of administration. It has been my fortune to be associated in governments with men who had great oratorical powers and wide learning, but whose administrative qualities fell short of perfection. Sir George Pearce, as a parliamentarian, administrator, and statesman, earned for himself a high place on the roll of distinguished men who guided and led Australia through its darkest years. During my absence in England, in 1916, he was the Acting Prime Minister. I can say of him that he was a man upon whom one could surely rely. He was my friend, faithful and just to me. I join with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in sending a message of condolence to his relatives.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– I desire to announce to- the House that during the absence abroad of the Minister for External Affairs for a few days, I shall act as Minister for External Affairs. During the absence abroad of the Minister for Labour and National Service and Minister for Immigration, the Minister for Defence will act as Minister for Labour and National Service, and the Minister for Supply will act as Minister for Immigration.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without amendment -
Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Bill 1952.
Public Service Arbitration Bill 1952.
Coal Industry Bill 1952.
Defence (Special Undertakings) Bill 1952.
Wool Tax Assessment Bill 1952.
New Guinea Timber Agreement Bill 1952.
Without requests -
Wool Tax Bill (No. 1) 1952.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 2) 1952.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Supply Bill (No. 1) 1952-53.
Defence (Special Undertakings) Bill 1952.
States Grants (War Service Land Settlement) Bill 1952.
War Pensions Appropriation Bill 1952.
Wheat Industry Stabilization (Refund of Charge) Bill 1952.
Land Tax Assessment Bill 1952.
Land Tax Bill 1952.
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1951-52.
Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill (No. 2) 1951-52.
Atomic Energy (Control of Materials) Bill 1952.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill 1952.
Immigration (Guardianship of Children; Bill . 1952.
Coal Industry Bill 1952.
Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1950-51.
Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill 1950-51.
Supply (Works and Services) Bill (No. 1) 1952-53.
Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1952.
Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Bill 1952.
Public Service Arbitration Bill 1952.
Wool Tax Assessment Bill 1952.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 1) 1952.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 2) 1952.
New Guinea Timber Agreement Bill . 1952.
– I have received the following letters from Ceylon: -
I acknowledge with thanks the receipt of your letter dated8th May, 1952, conveying a resolution of the House of Representatives, Australia, expressing sympathy on the death of my father.
I would be glad if you would convey to the members of the House my deep appreciation of their message of condolence.
I acknowledge with thanks the receipt of your letter dated8th May, 1952, conveying a resolution of the House of Representatives, Australia, expressing sympathy on the death of my husband.
I would be glad if you would conveyto the members of the House my deep appreciation of their message of condolence.
Mr. Bryson presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth, praying that, action be taken by the Parliament to rectify an injustice which, they consider, exists under section 8 of the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act.
Petition received and read.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service make a statement to the House, or have a statement prepared for presentation to the House, about the method adopted by the Department of Labour and National Service in preparing figures relating to employment and unemployment? Will he also ensure that the figures relating to employment and unemployment, such as percentages and so forth, are reported to the House and to the people more expeditiously than is done at present?
– I shall have such a statement prepared, and shall endeavour to give the right honorable member the information that he has requested.
– I ask the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service whether it is a fact that instructions have been given to certain government departments that work has to be provided for a specified quota of unemployed Italian immigrants, even if the work is only that of walking around with a broom in their hands? If so, will instructions also be given to the departments to find work for the thousands of Australians who are unable to find employment ?
– It is true that inquiries have been made from certain departments whether or not they can provide profitable employment for Italian immigrants. I understand that that is being done in several departments.
– Has the attention of the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service been directed to the number of persons who are unemployed? Has his attention also been drawn to the fact that a Sydney firm in my electorate recently advertised for two labourers, and that 122 men queued up for the job ? In view of statements attributed to the Government that work, is available, will the Minister inform the House where the vacant jobs exist? If no such jobs exist, will he give immediate consideration to increasing the rate of unemployment benefit?
– I am not aware that a position such as that alleged by the honorable member for West Sydney exists, but I know that the Commonwealth Employment Service has approximately 31,000 vacant positions on its books.
Mv.- Curtin. - The Minister is making himself ridiculous.
– Order ! The honorable member for Watson must not interject.
– I am aware that more than 31,000 vacant positions are registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service. The Government’s intentions regarding the unemployment benefit will ,be revealed to the chamber to-night when the Treasurer delivers his budget speech.
– When the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National .Service makes his statement on unemployment, will he devote some attention to the employment situation of immigrants in Australia ?
– It is my intention to make a statement on that subject, and the opportunity for me to do so will probably occur , to,morrow. I shall then endeavour to cover the ground mentioned by the honorable member for Macarthur.
– My question to the Minister for the Army concerns Crows Nest camp in the Queenscliff area of Victoria. This camp has been used for a considerable time by the Victorian Department pf Education as a camp foi children and teachers and I understand that it has been very usefully employed for that purpose. Representations have been made to me about its return to the Army, because its use has so greatly benefited children that if it is at all possible it should be retained for them. Will the Minister indicate whether there is any possibility that it may be so retained ?
– The camp mentioned by the honorable member is part of the defences of Port Phillip. At the request of the Victorian Department of Education after the end of World War II., it was made available for the purposes mentioned by the honorable gentleman. Because the Australian Army is expanding rapidly, I decided that it is no longer possible for this property to be left to the use of the Victorian Department of Education. Before I came to that decision I personally satisfied myself, after exhaustive inquiry, that we had no alternative but to resume occupation of the property. I discussed the matter with the Premier of Victoria, and after our negotiations the property was promptly returned to the Commonwealth. I express appreciation pf its prompt return to us, and I concluded that this action by th,e Victorian Government indicated that some alternative proposition was available to ;t. If it had been possible for the Australian Government to assist the Victorian Government in this matter, it would have been only too glad to do so.
– I Ask the Prime Muster whether it is a fact that the DirectorGeneral of Recruiting recently referred to the young men of Australia who do not otter for .enlistment in the armed services as “slackers”? If so, does the Prime Minister or the Government hold a similar view? Is it not a fact that the right of each individual to make his own decision according to his circumstances is basic to any system of voluntary enlistment? Is it not also a fact that such a discretion was exercised by the Prime Minister and me in earlier years?
– The only part of the question that I did not enjoy was that which associated me with the honorable member. I do not know what the DirectorGeneral of Recruiting said, but in my experience he is well able to express what he has in his own mind.
– Has the Minister for Supply been informed of the grave discontent existing among British immigrant mine workers at West Cessnock? They are residing in what are officially described as Nissen huts, but which aredescribed by us as exaggerated iron’ tanks, which is about all they are. These huts have been discarded by the British Army-
– Order ! The honorit bie member’s remarks are outside the scope of a question.
– The discontent is due to the fact that some of the huts are leaking in as many as fifteen places at once and that their occupants have to wade through water a foot deep. The tenants are charged from £2 10s. to £2 15s. a week i’e.nt for the buildings.
– Order ! The honor.able gentleman is giving information instead of asking for it.
– These exaggerated round houses, which have been dumped here from Great Britain, are not fit for British people to live in.
– Order ! The honorable member will have to resume his seat unless he proceeds to ask a question.
– Will the Minister go to West Cessnock and see for himself the conditions under which .British immigrants there are expected to live. Those conditions have already led to stoppages in mines and, if the Minister does not do something about them, there will be no coal production.
– The complaint to which the honorable gentleman has referred has not been brought to my notice personally. I remind him that Sydney and Newcastle have been subjected to a series of deluges in recent months and this fact may explain some of the conditions of which he has complained. 1 undertake that an immediate investigation will be made in order to determine whether the complaints are justified and that, if they are justified, we shall do what we can to remedy the situation.
– Will the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration request Commonwealth Hostels Limited to withdraw the excessive and obviously incorrect accounts for electricity that are being sent to British immigrants at Gepps Cross Hostel and replace them by accounts which the Electricity Trust of South Australia considers would be reasonable to cover the period of occupancy of huts by the immigrants concerned? By way of explanation, I point out that the accounts contain obvious errors. In certain instances, apparently the meters have worked backwards. Despite that, immigrants have received accounts for £5 when the charge should have been about 17s.
– The honorable gentleman made representations to me previously upon this matter, and I instituted an inquiry into it. 1 have not. yet received a report. I assure him that justice will be done to the people to whom he has referred.
– I ask the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he can indicate the progress that has been made in finding jobs for some 2,300 Italian immigrants stationed at Bonegilla who had complained that no suitable employment had been made available for them? Is the Minister aware that 86 immigrants who were under a two-years contract with the Hydro-electric Commission in Tasmania were recently discharged allegedly for “ continued unsatisfactory service “ ? In view of the particular difficulties which invariably confront new settlers in a new country, is the Commonwealth able to place these immigrants in suitable jobs?
– I have been advised that the problem of finding employment for immigrants who were stationed at Bonegilla has been practically met. During the week ended the 27th July, 434 of them had been placed, and during the following week a further 681 had been placed. As at the 2nd of August, there were still 700 immigrants at Bonegilla, and it is expected that these will be placed in employment during the current week, I have no information regarding the retrenchment of immigrants in Tasmania. I understand that those immigrants were brought out at the request of the Hydro-electric Commission and I should assume that that body would have a certain responsibility to maintain .them in employment. As I have said, I have no definite information on that matter; but if such immigrants have been retrenched, I suggest that they should register at the employment office in their locality and every effort will be made to place them in employment.
– Will the Minister for Health inform the House of the advantages that would accrue to Queensland, in terms of hospital revenue per capita of its population, as a result of the adoption of the Australian Government’s hospital benefits plan? Is it true, as claimed by the Queensland Minister of Health, that the Australian Government is attempting to dictate hospital policy and to usurp the rights of the Queensland hospitals service? Is any means test imposed by the Queensland Government in respect of any of its hospital activities?
– The advantages of the new scheme over the old Chifley hospital benefits scheme are demonstrated by the fact that, under the new scheme, Queensland should receive about 2,500,000 annually, instead of £1,000,000 or £1,100,000, which it has been receiving up to the present time, in contributions to its hospital revenues. The population of Queensland is a little more than 1,200;000. The old scheme provides for a Commonwealth contribution of only about £1 per capita annually, whereas the new scheme provides for a Commonwealth contribution of about £2 per capita annually. The honorable member has asked whether this Government has attempted to dictate hospital policy in Queensland. The truth is that dictatorial powers were exercised under the terms of the Chifley hospital benefits scheme. That plan provided that benefits should be obtainable by the State governments on behalf of their hospitals only if certain limiting conditions were observed. Those restrictions were removed by this Government in January, 1951. Wo undertaking is required of the Queensland Government in order that it may benefit under the new scheme, except that it shall take steps to increase its hospital revenues to a degree acceptable to the Australian Government. The imposition of a. means test in Queensland was discussed recently at a meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers. The Premier of Queensland admitted then that, in his State, a means test was applied by hospital dental clinics. I discovered, upon investigation, that a similar means test had been in operation for many years at the Canberra Community Hospital. Such a means test seems to me to be very reasonable.
– Will the Minister for Health say whether it is a fact that, at a meeting of the Australian Hospitals Association held in Sydney recently, he said that if the States accepted the offer that the Commonwealth made two years ago in respect of additional hospitals benefits, the present accumulated overdrafts of hospitals might be met by the Commonwealth? If the Minister made that statement, does it indicate that this Government realizes that it has an obligation to ensure that hospitals throughout Australia shall be able to look forward to a diminution of their huge financial burdens 1
– The position is quite different from that stated by the honorable member. I was asked whether the- Commonwealth was willing to do anything about hospital overdrafts. I replied that it would be useless to attempt to do anything about them until a condition of affairs had been established under which a certain guaranteed insurance revenue was available to hospitals to enable them to cover their expenditure such as is possible in the Government’s proposals. I stated that when that had been done, the matter could be considered.
– My question, which is directed to the Prime Minister, relates to the order of discharge of temporary female employees from the Public Service. There has been a large retrenchment of such employees by the Postmaster-General’s Department. Will i ho Prime Minister do all that he can do fu ensure that the services of temporary female employees will be retained in the Public Service? Many of these, employees rendered good and faithful service during the war years, and some of them have leven years service. If retrenchments lie inevitable, will the Prime Minister ensure that the appropriate authorities shall take into account the degrees of hardship that dismissal would inflict upon both married and single female employees? In some instances, such women are the principal breadwinners for their homes. If the Prime Minister has not yet given consideration to this matter, will he do so?
– Recently, I had before, me a not dissimilar set of circumstances in relation to the Taxation I ‘ranch, and I discovered that it was possible to make sensible adjustments. 1’ shall examine the matter to which the honorable member has referred, and see whether- anything can be, done to meet his request
–My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I understand that the federal president of die Liberal and Country party recently made a statement to this, -affect -
A Sino.ll handful of nien in the Commonwealth Public Service have given the Federal. Governmerit a raw deal, and adopted rough-neck tactics in dealing with, the public;.
Will the. Prime Minister state., to the best of hia. knowledge, whether that statement was, in fact, made; whether there is any substance in it; and, if there is, whether the public servants concerned have been disciplined by the Public .Service Board ?
M>. MENZIES.– Naturally, I have not the faintest idea whether the statement to which the honorable member for Ballarat has referred, was made. I myself’ have no complaints about the distinguished civil servants with whom I have occasion to be related in the course of my work.
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform the House of the stage that has been reached in the discussions about th, stabilization of the wheat industry?
– I had reached an understanding with the State governments and the Australian Wheat Growers Federation that work upon the details of a stabilization plan should proceed upon the assumption that there would be a new international wheat agreement, but no decision was reached upon that subject by the International Wheat Council. Therefore, I raised the matter with the State governments at a recent meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council. The present proposal is that within the next two or three weeks I shall discuss with the Australian Wheat Growers Federation, on behalf of the State governments and this Government the possibility of extending the existing plan by legislation for one year on terms that would be adopted only if they were acceptable to the Government and the industry. That would give the’ Government an opportunity to discover whether there is to be an international wheat agreement next year. If there is to he an agreement, th& Government could proceed to discuss the possibility of a plan to extend over a longer term. I hope and expect to mee representatives of the. Australian Wheal Growers Federation in the next two or three weeks to discuss this matter.
Mr. Fuller proceeding to ask a question.
– Order ! The use of a name’ in a question is out of order.
– Then I shall omit the name in -directing a question to the Prime Minister. Can the right honorable gentleman inform the House whether any one had authority to promise that Australia would provide 1,000,000 Anzacs to defend Japan and other Pacific countries against Russian aggression? If any person has spoken without the authority of the Cabinet on this matter, what action does the Government propose to take to recall him? What is the Government’s policy in regard to the use- of Australian troops for the defence of Japan in the event of war- with Russia ?
– The question is one of. policy,. The Prime Minister may answer it if he wishes to’ do so.
– The- question is. rather anonymous, but. I believe.’ that I have gathered the? drift of it. Assuming that- I have done so- correctly,. I would say first that nobody had any authority, to. make: the- statement that, has been put forward by the honorable member for Hume), and I am happy to say that nobody, in fact,, made. it.
– Can the Minister for Territories state the; present, output of rubber- in. New Guinea, and Papua, and the plans of the Government for the. future expansion of. rubber production in. those areas? Has there been any additional planting of para, rubber since, the termina-tion of World War. II..?
Min HASLUCK. - Speaking in round figures and subject to correction, I believe that the export of crude rubber from Papua and New Guinea in 1950-51 was about 2,1’00 tons’ and in- 1951-52 about 2,800 tons- The Government and the territorial administration are encouraging expansion of the rubber industry in the territory. The: measures’ that are being taken are in two forms: One is to try to acquire land for the growing of rubber in suitable areas and make it available in conformity with established land policy. Other efforts are directed at. trying to produce planting material and! gain more information about the methods of rubber cultivation in other territories. In Both directions, the Government is engaged now in certain activities which have- not yet been completed^ The Director of the Rubber Research Institute of Malaya- is undertaking a tour of Papua arid’ New Guinea this month by arrangement with the Australian Government’ to investigate problems of rubber-growing and to advise the Government on the best method’s to follow.
– As the report of the Commonwealth Statistician which was issued. yesterday showed that bank savings are still at a- very high level, can the Treasurer, state whether, it be correct to> say that the failure of the. Governments approach to the loan, market and tha refusal of the.- people to. subscribe- to.Commonwealth, loans is occasioned by lack of. confidence; in. tike- Government ? If. that is not correct,, what, is. the reason for. the failure of the Government’s loans?’
– I have told the- honorable member foc Yarra time and time’ again, as I have told, the House; that’- the matter of loans and everything associated- with them is the; responsibility and prerogative of. the Australian. Loan Council..
– Prior to theclose of the last sessional period,, the Minister for External- Affairs announced1 that the Government had’ discovered anest of traitors In: certain departments; T ask the Prime Minister whether those traitors are: still there?
– As I was, not, aware,., urn-til. now, of the statement that the honorable member alleges ha& been made; I shall be happy to have a look at the question, amd s.ee- what information I can provide.
– Strong representations have been made to. me by the Fine, Wool Merino Breeders Association of Tasmania, requesting that the. ban on the export of merino sheep, he lifted. That association, contended that in this matter it has the support, of the majority of the organizations of’ wool-growers-. I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, whether there is- any ground to anticipate that the ban will be lifted’; and, if so, under’ what conditions- it- will be lifted’?
– No: decision-, has’ been made to Eft the ban- on the- export on merino sheep. A request tha-t it be lifted was made; last year by representatives; of sheep: breeders associations-. The Govern-ment gave full consideration, to- the request and- decided to- take no action. Some months- ago a> deputation-, waited on me and. renewed’ the request. As a> controversy; has. arisen ©n this, subject. T suggested: to the members of the deputation that they should endeavour to get an articulate expression of opinion from the sheep industry itself on the matter. They accepted that suggestion, and to my knowledge canvassing in respect of it is proceeding now.
– I address a question to the Minister for Works in relation to the slackening in the building of houses while thousands of families are practically homeless, or are living in motor garages and sheds of various kinds. In many instances, three or four families are living in one house. Is it a fact that this position has been aggravated by the Government’s policy of restricting credit for home building as it has done in respect of other public works? Is the Minister aware that men have been dismissed at hundreds of saw-mills because of the slackening in the demand for timber, that brickyards are full of bricks, that men have been dismissed from brickworks and that carpenters and bricklayers are walking the streets in search of work?
– Order ! The honorable gentleman should come to his question.
– If these are facts, will the Minister consider the advisability of providing the necessary funds for the continuance of the housing programme, and thereby bring the available men and materials together by the application of common sense to this very vital problem?
– I shall leave that part of the honorable member’s question that relates to finance to be dealt with in the budget which will be introduced to-night. In any event, it is not a question that I, as Minister for Works, should be asked to answer. Furthermore, a large part of the honorable member’s question relates to the policies of the State governments. In spite of the noises that honorable member’s opposite are making, my statement is a fact. At the last meeting of the Australian Loan Council, this Government made available additional money out of its own resources when adequate, loan moneys were not likely to be available, particularly for housing, and that money is in the hands of the States. Therefore, this Government has done everything possible to maintain the volume of house construction. The only houses that my department builds are for the defence services and for instrumentalities such as the Meteorological Bureau in New Guinea and the administration on Lord Howe Island. The solution of the problem that the honorable member has raised is a matter not for either the Commonwealth or the Department of Works but for the States.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture aware that for some considerable time rice has been practically unobtainable in Western Australia? I understand that the shortage will soon become acute throughout Australia. In view of the fact that other primary producers, such as barleygrowers, are restricted in their exports in order to meet home-consumption needs, does any similar restriction apply to ricegrowers? If the production of rice is insufficient to meet Australia’s requirements, is any action being taken to increase production of this commodity which is very necessary from a dietary point of view?
– All the rice that is produced in Australia is produced in the irrigation areas of New South Wales. Unfortunately the rice crop this year will be very light. Plantings were adequate. However, owing, first, to certain seasonal circumstances and, later, to lack of action to deal with a veritable plague of wild ducks in the areas concerned, the crop will be extraordinarily light. The Rice Marketing Board of New South Wales, which controls rice, has agreed that rice shall be allocated, first, in Australia, to meet the needs of inmates of hospitals, persons who have been ordered rice as a diet, on medical prescription; orientals, particularly in the pearling areas of Western Australia, Darwin and Torres Strait; and, secondly, in New Zealand, to meet the needs of persons in similar categories. In addition to those categories, the needs of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and those of contiguous areas that have always depended upon Australian production for their rice supplies, such as Phosphate Island, New Caledonia and the New Hebrides, will be supplied. Those categories will practically exhaust the whole of our last rice crop. There will be practically nothing left for ordinary civilian use in Australia. A few hundred tons of rice, out of a total crop of 30,000 tons, are being sent to supplement the deficiency of rice in the Malayan area. However, there is an existing arrangement under which, while there is no coupon ration- : the committee in control of rice holds a sufficient quantity to ensure that, until the next crop comes in, it will be possible to supply rice necessary for people who require it on medical advice.
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform the House whether the Commonwealth has any responsibility regarding rice production? Is the Bice Marketing Board of New South Wales under the control of the Commonwealth or of the Stare Government ?
– The Commonwealth has no direct production responsibilities in agriculture except in its own territories. The Minister for Territories is actively engaged at the present time in making plans with the ultimate view, he hopes, to the production of rice in the territories. However, the Commonwealth has no responsibility or authority for rice growing in the States. The Rice Marketing Board of New South Wales is certainly not under the control of the Commonwealth. Indeed, the status of the Commonwealth in the whole matter only stems from its responsibility in respect of exports and , the policies that are associated with decisions in connexion with them.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether it is a fact that the production of rice in the Mumimbidgee- Wacool areas is limited by the quantity of water available for irrigation purposes? If sufficient water were available, could not the area under production be greatly extended ? Is not the Government of New South Wales arbitrarily reducing the area for rice production at the present time?
– It is certainly a fact that the quantity of rice that can be planted is limited by the availability of water for irrigation purposes. That matter is decided by the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission, which is a State instrumentality in New South Wales.
– The area is not reduced in the aggregate ?
– I have no knowledge whether the area has been reduced, but I think that the honorable member for Riverina desires to ascertain whether the area for rice production could be increased. I have no doubt that the area of land for rice-growing could be increased if the quantity of water allocated for that purpose were increased, or could be increased.
– I. wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs a question that arises from the fact that a newspaper in Brisbane applied for additional newsprint through the Department of Trade and Customs.
– Order ! The Minister for Trade and Customs is not a member of this House.
– The question I wish to ask is whether it is the duty of an official of the Department of Trade and Customs to inform any company of applications received by the department for supplies of newsprint for another company?
– The honorable member is perfectly well aware of the fact that the Minister for Trade and Customs is not a member of this House. He could have obtained, by correspondence with the Minister, the information that he seeks. Instead, he has sought to gain publicity for the matter by raising it here. I shall make the necessary inquiries.
– I direct a question to you, Mr. Sneaker. In the past, when T have returned to Western Australia during recess, I have invariably made a point of carefully locking the drawers in the desk in the room that. I share in this (building, on’ly to find on any return that «all the drawers have been unlocked. At [the ‘beginning -of the last recess I not only locked every drawer in my desk, but retained the keys, only to And on any return .that all my drawers were unlocked and -that papers in -them appear to have been gone through. .In view -of those facts, will you have the matter investigated? There were no confidential papers in the drawers of my desk, but -that condition may not apply to all honora’ble members.
– I shall have the matter investigated and report on it to the House.
– I ask the Minister for Supply whether he was embarrassed by the recent visit to Rum Jungle of the honorable member for Mackellar who, according to reports, arrived in the Northern Territory wearing a red beret and -carrying a Geiger counter, looking for uranium and “ reds “ at the same time ? In view of the fact that the honorable member for Mackellar has been most voca’l in this House about the necessity to throw a security screen round our radio-active (deposits, has the Minister taken any action to discipline the honorable member., who seems to desire publicity even at the expense of .the safety of this country?
– I was not ,at all embarrassed by the visit of the ‘honorable member for Mackellar ito Rum .Jungle, any more than I should have been embarrassed .by a visit there o’f the honorable member who has asked the question. T have no knowledge about the red beret to which : flip honorable member has referred. It does not come within the ambit o’f my department. I have read press reports that the honorable member for Mackellar took a Geiger counter with him on his visit to Rum Jungle., but there are rules in connexion with such matters. The honorable member readily surrendered the Geiger counter in accordance with those rules and, in addition, .-stated publicly that the action taken to /relieve him <of the Geiger counter was (proper. I, and -the Government, welcome the interest in Ruin Jungle of rail honorable members.
– I wish to make -a personal explanation. The incident to which the honorable member for Parkes fcs referred appears to have assumed proportions that are not justified by the facts which a-re that another honorable member *mid myself were in the Northern Territory .and were studying, among other things, the uranium, resources there. As you know, Mr. Speaker, I have pointed out in this House and elsewhere ‘that it is eminently desirable that Geiger counters should be used, and that our uranium resources -should be known. When we reached Rum Jungle, and reported to the head-quarters -there, we were asked whether we had any cameras or Geiger counters, since these were not permitted in the mine. We said that we had, -and were asked to leave them at the head-quarters until we returned from the mine. That is all there was in the incident. It is entirely undesirable that people should try to make political capital out of the fact that we were carrying Geiger counters because, in the interests of the security of this .country, it is eminently desirable that prospecting for uranium should proceed. Anything which is intended to prevent people from using Geiger counters, and to hold their use np to derision, is directly contrary to the interests of the nation.
– In view of the fact that the helicopter has proved itself to .be the aircraft of the direct .future, both in war and in peace, I ask the Minister for Air whether he will consider the purchase of more such aircraft so that a full squadron may be equipped with them?
– It is true that helicopters have proved of great use in Korean waters but I point out that they have a very limited use. The honorable member’s attention should also be drawn to the fact that we have a limited amount of finance available for expenditure on the Air Force, and we have matters of far greater importance than the one he has mentioned on which we can expend our funds. We do not intend at present, or for some years to come, to increase the number of heliocopters in the Air Force.
– I direct to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture a question that arises from the fact that the Government has decided to make available to the States a sum of £200,000 for the purpose of providing a better advisory service to farmers. Soil conservation’ services in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania are within the respective Departments of Agriculture of those States, and will therefore automatically share in any distribution of the fund. In New South Wales, however, the Soil Conservation1 Service and in Victoria, the Soil Conservation Authority, are independent of the Departments’ of Agriculture in those States and so, unless they are specially catered for, may not receive any money from the fund. Will the Minister, therefore, take action to ensure that some part of the allocation from Victoria and New South’ Wales shall be made specifically to be applied to the assistance of the soil conservation bodies in New South Wales and Victoria?
– The provision of this year’s payment of £200,000 for the purpose of widening the extension services to farmers is an indication of the interest of the Government in ensuring that the farming community is kept constantly, and to the greatest possible degree, abreast of the scientific resources, and technological resources in connexion with their industry. It is hoped, and, indeed:, expected that an arrangement: will be worked out this year in. accordance with which the States will make an additional contribution’. I hope that the industries concerned will also make a direct contribution. However, this matter will not be handled exclusively by the various departs ments of agriculture, and it will certainly not represent any duplication by the Commonwealth of the kind of activities that are now the responsibilities and practices of the States. At the present time my officers are engaged in working out the best means for the use of the funds allocated for the current year, and the best kind of arrangement of a continuing character. I assure the honorable member that everything that he has in mind will be considered in the plans that are in hand.
– My question- to the. Minister for the Army- is prompted1 by a letter which I wrote to him. on the 14th July last and to which I have not yet received a reply. The correspondence related to a youth in South Australia who was. due to be called’ up for national service training. He invoked, section 29 of the National Service Act which applies to conscientious objectors. Evidently, he was not able to prove his case, and1 he was sent to the Holdsworthy Camp in New South Wales for detention. I ask th’e Minister whether it is possible for a person who unsuccessfully invokes section 29 of the act to be detained in the State in which he resides. I tried to. discover last,, weekend whether the boy had been! returned, to South Australia, but I was not able to obtain the information. Great resentment is’ felt in South Australia about this matter, because the boy concerned is the sole support of his- mother. . Will the Minister investigate the practice adopted in the United States of America- whereby provision is made for a youth, who claims fo be a conscientious objector when he is called up for universal military service, to do some work of a national or charitable kind?
– I signed a letter, at least five days ago in reply to, the honorable member’s communication. If he has not received my letter I shall be pleased to provide him with a copy of it as soon as the House adjourns. As I have had to write a great number of letters on similar matters, I ask for leave to make a brief statement about the position..
-Is leave’ granted?
– No; the Minister should make his statement at the end of question time.
Leave not granted.
– by leave - Provision is made in the National Service Act for persons who have conscientious objections to military service to claim exemption from their liability to render such service, and for the case to be tried before an impartial court. Mr. Mason claimed such exemp- tion, but a civil court in Adelaide, after due consideration of the case, decided that he was required to render service of a non-combatant nature. Subsequently, he was ordered to report for service with other civilians who had been called up for training at the same time, but he failed to comply with that order and, therefore, with the law of the land. Later, he was prosecuted by the Department of Labour and National Service, which is responsible for calling up citizens to undergo military training. The court committed him to Army custody for the purpose of rendering the service prescribed by the National Service Act. In accordance with section 51 of that act, he was deemed to have been enlisted for service in the Commonwealth Military Forces when he was taken into Army custody after the court had announced its decision.
Private Mason was taken by the Army authorities to the 16th National Service Training Battalion at Woodside, .where, after a short period during which hp agreed to help in kitchen fatigues, he refused to carry out any duties. H*> would not agree to wear uniform at any stage. He was interviewed by an Army chaplain, by the pastor of his own religious sect and by officers of his unit, but he persisted in his refusal to render service of any nature or to wear uniform. He refused even to assist the padre to distribute hymn books in the Army chapel. Accordingly, the prescribed Army authority ordered that Private Mason be detained in the military corrective establishment at Holdsworthy, New South Wales, which is a prescribed place under the National Service Act, to complete his lawful obligation of 176 days service. Before that order was issued, Private Mason’s mother and the pastor of his religious sect were told of the intended action by Major-General Kendall, the General Officer Commanding, Central Command. The Army authorities, when they took action to order Private Mason to be detained, had no alternative but to carry out the order of the court. That step was taken only as a last resort and was forced upon them bv the refusal of the lad to co-operate with them in any way. I have been informed that other conscientious objectors who belong to the same religious sect have been called up and are giving all reasonable co-operation in performing duties of a non-combatant nature. My department does not desire that this youth shall perform duties other than those of a non-combatant nature, but it has no option but to give effect to the court’s decision.
When Private Mason was transferred to the military corrective establishment at Holdsworthy, he was informed that if at any time he indicated his willingness to undergo normal training of a non-combatant nature, instructions would be issued for his release from the corrective establishment and for his transfer to the 16th National Service Training Battalion at Woodside to complete his period of training. At my direction, instructions have been issued that no undue coercion shall be brought to bear upon him while he is detained in Holdsworthy t’o compel him to wear uniform, to train or to work. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) and myself have received numerous representations for the National Service Act to be amended to give conscientious objectors a right of appeal against the decisions of magistrates. The Government i? now considering those representations.
- hy leave - It appears that in this case the provisions of the National Service Act have been observed to the letter. Nevertheless, I believe that Mason has not been treated in a manner that meets with the approval of freedom-loving Australians. He is the only son of a widow, and is almost her sole means of support. No one doubts that his objections’ to military service are sincere. Provision is made in the National Service Act for persons who have a conscientious objection to military training to be exempted from undergoing such training. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) has stated that he has been informed that other conscientious objectors who are members of the religious sect to which Mason belongs have been called up for service and are co-operating with the Army authorities in performing duties of a non-combatant nature. I believe that the Minister has been wrongly informed. I have received a letter from the pastor of that sect, in which he has asked me to protest to the Government about the manner in which Mason has been treated. Therefore, I find it difficult to believe that other members of the pastor’s congregation have agreed to perform military service.
– I have been informed that that is so by the General Officer Commanding, Central Command, and by Mason’s battalion commander.
– I still believe that the Minister has been informed wrongly. Sometimes Ministers do receive incorrect information. Even if the provisions of the National Service Apt must be carried out to the letter, I cannot understand why a conscientious objector like Mason has not been detained in his own .State but has been penalized by being sent to a reformatory in another State.
– It is a penalty. That U the idea of it.
– Why should he be taken from his own State to repay to the Commonwealth what the Commonwealth considers he owes to it? In my question, I asked the Minister whether he would examine the provision that has been made in the United States of America for persons who have a conscientious objection to military training.
– To what effect?
– This youth, when bis application for exemption had been refused, was required to proceed to a military camp and to undertake work of a non-combatant nature. The position in America is very different from that which obtains here. It is set out in a report, part of which reads as follows : -
After weary months of consultation, the terms on which conscientious objectors are to work out their obligations under the draft law have finally been set. On February 20th, 1952, President Truman put his name to the resulting document, and the regulations came into effect. It may be months, however, before the local boards have the forms needed to put the new system into operation . . .
About 5,000 conscientious objectors await assignment. The new regulations provide that they are to be put to work either for the Government or for non-profit organizations primarily engaged in charitable or public welfare activities. Relief rehabilitation and charitable work abroad is authorized.
In the United States of America, conscientious objectors have no association with the fighting forces at all.
– This youth would not even distribute hymn books.
– He would not distribute hymn books in a military camp at Woodside, but no one has suggested that he would not distribute them in his own church. Although provision is made in the legislation for’ conscientious, objectors to seek exemption from military service, no provision is made for appeals from the decisions of magistrates who refuse to grant such exemptions. The right of appeal is given to conscientious objectors in time of war and the same right should be given to them in peacetime. The American provision for an appeal by conscientious objectors might well be adapted to national service training in Australia.
. - by leave - I support everything that has been said by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers). In particular, I ask the Government to give heed to his request for reconsideration of the’ treatment that has been meted out to the lad mentioned in relation to his incarceration at Holdsworth^. I ask, also, that consideration be given to amending legislation to provide for the right of appeal in such cases.
– by leaveit is very distasteful for any authority that is supported by a government to have to order any man to be incarcerated as happened in the case of the young man to whom the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) has referred, but any system of compulsory military training must provide for action of a penal or a compelling nature. The history of the case to which the honorable member for Adelaide has referred shows clearly that, at every step, the youth was given an opportunity to accept a reasonable compromise with his religious beliefs, even after a magistrate had ruled that he could not be classed as a conscientious objector within the meaning of the law. ‘ At that stage, the youth was offered honorable and reasonable ways of performing his national service which would not conflict with his religious convictions. I heard with mixed feelings that the Government proposes to introduce amending legislation in relation to such -cases. “I “have ‘always regarded conscientious objection to military service as >a (luxury <and I -am doubtf ul whether any country ‘can afford it *except ;on -the most limited scale. .Quakers ase not willing *to serve in fighting units, but they are “always amongst the first to volunteer to <bear stretchers or ‘perform duties of that nature. How any -man -can Bay that he will not take any part in the defence of %is country is -beyond -my ‘comprehension. “Such a person might just as well say ‘that he conscientiously -refuses -to pay taxes because the money may he used to su’b.sidize the defence forces. Honorable »mem!bers ‘should ta’ke -com-fort from the history -of this -case as it has ‘been outlined 09 the Minister for the .Army (Mr. Francis). I do not believe fha-t any country in (the world ‘offers ways out of uati.on.al .service .as .generous and easy as those given by Australia.
– The ‘United :States of America ‘does.
– In the United States of America, youths have to serve for 22 months and they may be sent abroad to tight in the line.
– My statement is correct. There is :no basis df comparison between the 90 days that is -served by.A-us- tralians :and the (conditions under which American -youths .have -to .serve. The Australian Government has treated con.scientious objectors .reasonably. There is soothing ;of which it need be .ashamed either in .the .law or .the practice of it as applied ‘to the young men who may be concerned.
.- ~by leave - :I wash, to ‘inform ihe House of two decisions .affecting .the administration of native welfare policy in the Northern Territory. The effect of the first will be to allow “those persons of aboriginal and part-aboriginal origin who do not need the protection of special legislation, to enjoy the customary rights of citizenship without having to -apply for exemption from “the ‘special legislation. ‘The effect of the second win he that, if any part of a native -reserve has ceased to be necessary -for the use and benefit -of the natives, it -may be severed from the -reserve and, -if mining should ta’ke place on the severed -portion, royalties will be paid into a special fund to be applied to the welfare of the natives. (On the 18th October last I presented to -the House a -report on the (native welfare conference held -ait Canberra on the ;3rd and 4th ‘September, 3 951. Fallowing that .conference, I asked the Administrator -of the .Northern Territory, the Honorable F,. J.. S. Wise, to examine the conclusions reached by the conference and to advise one .on the best means of implementing, -in the Northern Territory, the - policy ‘that had been declared. During December ‘and April last -an inter-departmental committee, under the chairmanship of Mr. Wise, mot in Darwin,, .examined the practical problems in great detail >and prepared an .extremely valuable departmental paper that .contained :a wide range of submissions on the various steps which might be taken either .immediately or in .the course of the years in or Her to give effect .to the. declared policy. .Some of their recommendations are already being put into administrative effect; provision .for carrying out some others is being made this year; and others are being further examined. Foremost among the submissions was va series of recommendations to give -effect to this Government’s policy in respect of ‘citizenship for the native people. These have been extended in further discussions between the Administrator and myself in order to give -complete -effect to the policy on this, subject that I had -previously announced >to this House.
At present there are many natives, ,a few full-blood as well as mixed-blood, who are prepared for -and capable -of accepting the full responsibilities of citizenship. ‘.There tare also many .others who will require for many years to come t3ie benefits and protection of special legislation, and who must he regarded .as wards .of .the State standing in .need -of ^guardianship and tutelage. I should like to make it clear - ‘-to correct a popular misconception - that in the ‘Northern Territory to-day the -path to ‘full ‘citizenship is -already open and. in fact, >a con.siderable number -of .natives, nearly all of them persons of mixed blood, Lave attained the enjoyment of those rights. 1. he present path towards citizenship for such persons is, however, hedged by conditions which some coloured Australian citizens find irksome and even offensive and which, in application, sometimes give rise to needless difficulties and anomalies.
The present system is based on an attempt to define the term “ aboriginal “, all special legislation being made to apply to those persons who come within the definition unless, by application to an official, they can obtain exemption from the special legislation. It is now proposed to abandon this old method and to assume that, unless a person is brought under the special legislation, it does not apply to him or her. The ground on which a person will be brought under the legislation will not be colour, or a fraction of colour, or any other racial or genealogical, reason, but the test whether he or she stands in need of special care or assistance. Provision will also be .made so that a person who objects to being brought under the special legislation or a person who considers that he has outgrown the need for special care and assistance can apply to a magistrate sitting in chambers and have the opportunity .of proving to an independent authority that by his mode of living and his capacity to manage his own affair1he can assume his place as a member of the general community. The new system will bc closely analogous to that customarily followed with regard to those of European race who need- special care - for example, neglected children who are committed to the child welfare departments of the State governments. In order that the nature of the change may he made clear, I am proposing to establish, in place of the Native Affairs Branch of the Territorial. Administration, a welfare branch, under a director of welfare, whose activities will embrace all sections of the community in the Northern Territory requiring special care and assistance. The Director of Welfare will have a responsibility and authority in respect of the natives under his care similar to those of the present Director of Native Affairs, and will also be required specifically to promote the development of the native people. He will be responsible for all welfare services for the territory com munity not already covered by other federal departments.
To give effect to the change, new legislation will have to be passed by the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory to replace the existing native ordinances. This legislation is now being prepared, and our aim is to have it ready for introduction in the council at the end of this year. Although some details require closer examination, the intended effect will be that, after its passage, the Administrator, on the recommendation of the Director of Welfare, will formally declare that specified persons or groups of persons stand in need of special care and assistance. It is anticipated that those originally named will be the natives who are in fact, under the State’s protection at the present time, foi example, on reserves or settlements, or in employment under permit. Those who are exempted from the present ordinance, and those who, even if not formally exempted, have customarily lived in the manner of the European community, will be left outside the ordinance. It will be made possible from time to time to bring other persons under the special legislation, subject to appeal to a magistrate, if it is shown that they need guardianship, and it will be made possible for the courts to commit a person to the care of the Director of Welfare. These decision.will depend wholly on the conduct and mode of living of the persons concerned, and not on their colour. Thus it is believed that, in the course of a very short period, the native people will help to sort themselves out into those who need care and assistance and those who can stand on their own feet. From time to time, with the social advancement of natives, the Administrator will be able to declare that a person or group of persons has ceased to need -special care and assistance and, without application on their part, free them from the special legislation.’ Unless a person is brought under the special legislation he or she will take a place in the ordinary life of the community as a citizen.
– Is not the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory now in session, and if so, could not these alterations be made before the end of this year?
– The council is not now in session. Sittings will commence next mouth. Unfortunately the drafting of the ordinances that I have outlined involves a great number of technical details, and the work cannot be completed in time to be dealt with at the next sittings of the council. It is hoped that i he draft ordinances will be ready for the December session of the council.
Already there are a number of coloured citizens of the Northern Territory who si re taking a part in the life of the general community, aud it is hoped that more will be encouraged to do so by the knowledge that henceforth they have citizenship as n birthright into which each man and woman can enter when he or she is able to take up the duties of citizenship. As a further indication of the Government’s view a direction has been given that, in appointing statutory bodies such as school committees, State children’s councils and similar authorities in the territory, consideration be given as a matter of practice to the appointment to them lit’ people of aboriginal descent.
My second announcement relates to aboriginal reserves. Reservations of land “ for the use and benefit of the aboriginal native inhabitants “ have been proclaimed from time to time in the Northern Territory, and the area of such reserves now totals about 64,000 square miles. The law allows the resumption of this land, either wholly or in part, the Minister being required to lay before both Houses of the Parliament a statement setting forth the reasons for resumption. The creation of the greater part of these reserves dates back to twenty years ago or earlier, when policy in regard to the advancement of the natives was less hopeful than it is to-day and when governmental and church activity designed to change the life of the natives was less extensive than it is to-day. To-day there are fewer than 6,000 natives on the reserves, and of these it is estimated that only 600 are living a fully tribalized life. Over 4,000 of the natives on reserves are considered to be wholly under mission influence or Government influence, and over 1.000 are partly under such influence. In the large Arnhem Land reserves, there are eight Christian mission stations, largely supported by Government funds a.i the accepted agents in the advancement of native welfare, and there is an increasing tendency for the native tribesmen to bo drawn more and more closely into touch with the missions. There has also been a tendency for some time past for natives to be attracted away from the reserves towards centres of settlement. J mention these facts to honorable members, not to suggest that reserves are no longer needed, but to indicate the tendency towards change in the use of reserves and to suggest that, as this breaking down of primitive native life continues over the years, we - both the Government and the missions - are tending to reduce the need either for extensive hunting grounds or for tribal ceremonial sites. A policy of assimilation and the measures taken for the education and care of natives mean that less dependence is placed on reserves as an instrument of policy than was placed on them in the days when it was considered that the interests of the natives could only be served by keeping them away from white settlement. Nevertheless, the change to which I have referred is taking place slowly and, for many generations to come, large reservations will still be necessary and any reduction of the area of reserves will have to be accompanied by other measures to ensure native welfare.
On the other side of the picture, we sec the necessity for developing OU national resources. At the present time, the strongest pressure comes from the need that is seen to extract the latent mineral wealth of the territory. For many years past, those who have closely followed the subject of native welfare have foreseen the clash of interest that will come when the large reservations, which were created liberally but rather carelessly in the past, are found to contain or are suspected of containing rich mineral deposits. That clash of interest is taking place to-day.
The Government has considered the matter Very carefully. It recognizes the force of the argument that reserved land which is not in fact being used by the natives should not be closed forever to exploration or development. It also recognizes that to-day the large reserve is a less essential means of protecting the welfare of the natives than it was a generation ago. At the same time, the Government is convinced that the excision of land from reserves, or any exploration of reserves, must he handled with great care and gradualness in order to safeguard the interests of the natives, and that some form of compensatory benefit should be given. As there is in no sense anything in the form of a personal title to the lands which the Crown reserved, that compensatory benefit will have to be accorded to the natives as a whole and not to any single person or family.
After an examination of various possibilities, the Government has authorized the Administrator to introduce into the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory an ordinance governing the matter. It is intended to give the Administrator power to grant prospecting and mining rights on aboriginal reserves, subject to such conditions as he may consider necessary to protect the interests of the natives, with complementary rights to enter on and remain on reserves for the purposes of such prospecting and mining. The Administrator will also be given power to recommend the resumption or revocation of land from an aboriginal reserve for mining purposes, such recommendation to be accompanied by a statement regarding the effect of such resumption or revocation on the welfare of the natives on the reserve. Such revocations or resumptions must be notified to this Parliament with a statement setting forth the reasons, and it will, of course, be within the competence of this Parliament to disallow any action of which it disapproves. Royalties will be levied on any minerals won from mining on aboriginal reserves or from lands resumed therefrom for mining purposes, and these royalties will be paid into a trust fund to be applied, with the approval of the Minister, for the general benefit of aborigines as the Minister determines, including the making of grants to aboriginal institutions.
In conclusion, I emphasize that this is a decision to give the legal power and to lay down the legal procedure for handling this question if and when the need to do so arises. It is not a decision in any particular case, nor will the passing of the proposed ordinance by the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory of itself mean the diminution of any reserve. Any action will be subsequent, to the passage of the ordinance and will be consequential on any application which may happen to be made to the Administrator. For general information, I may add that the instruction which I have given on this matter to my department and to the Administrator for their guidance is to the effect that they are not to take action to encourage people to prospect or mine on aboriginal reservations, nor should they allow the public to get the idea that we intend to throw open reserves for a search for minerals. If a situation arises in which it becomes necessary in the national interest to allow prospecting or mining we shall have the means to do so, but in any such case the effect on the interests of the natives will have to be weighed before consideration is given to any other aspect. If mining is allowed, the natives and the institutions caring for them will benefit through the levying of royalties. I lay on the table the following paper: -
Native Welfare in Northern Territory - Ministerial Statement. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell,) adjourned.
Reports on Items.
Jute carpet binding.
Copies of the reports are not yet available for circulation to honorable members.
Motion (by Mr. Eric j. Harrison ) - by leave - proposed -
That, during the absence of the Chairman of
Committees, the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) be appointed Deputy Chairman of Committees of this House. [Quorum formed.]
– The Opposition agrees that no appointment would be more fitting than the appointment which is proposed in the motion that is before the I [ouse.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 2.30 p.m.
Debate resumed from the 3rd June (vide page 1242, Vol. No. 217), on motion by Mr. Beal& -
That the bill be mow rend a second time.
.-This important bill deals with the whole law of patents. After careful consideration, the Opposition is iti agreement with the measure. On some details honorable members on this side of the House might desire to offer suggestions or criticisms/ but -I wish to refer to certain matters of general principles. I believe that the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) and the committee which was responsible for bringing down the bill have done a public service, for there is nothing more complicated or technical than the law which gives to inventors a monopoly in respect of their inventions. It seems a simple principle, but in practice it is ‘ a branch of the law which teems with technicalities, involving appeal after appeal from court to ‘court, and it must really be a considerable factor in the coilduct of certain businesses that are dependent to any degree at all upon the exploitation of letters patent. I have already referred one particular matter to the Minister in charge of the bill. It appears that prior to the passage of the amending legislation of 1946, complete specifications of inventions described in the ordinary form of application did not become open to public inspection until they were accepted -; and the period averaged, perhaps, two and a half years after the time of lodgment. But in the case of what are called convention applications, that is applications the source df which is a foreign country withwhich Australia has an agreement, complete specifications were lodged with the application, and in the Vast majority of instances they became open to inspection more speedily, practically immediately. All the more important inventions affecting the development of Australian indus.try that come from, abroad are enclosed in specifications of what are called convention, of foreign, applications. In 1946, the Chifley Government introduced an amending measure that inserted in the law a newprovision for the publication of all complete specifications forthwith after lodgment. That matter was debated, and the Minister in charge of that measure pointed’ out that one of the purposes of the law was to encourage the development of Aus; tralian industries by informing them as quickly as possible about impending patents or changes of technical methods. On that occasion, that Minister said -
We do not want- them to tool-n jj, .and generally prepare to make articles, only to discover later that a competitor abroad has a new process of manufacture which will make their method obsolete.
It was decided at that time to delay the publication of all complete specifications for at least two months after they were lodged, and the Prime Minister (Mr; Menzies), who was then Leader of the Opposition, asked that that period be extended to three months. But this measure proposes to delay the publication of all complete specifications, including the very important and preponderating convention specifications, for a period of six months, whereas the vast majority of these, even under the old law, automatically became open to public inspection on the day following that on which they were lodged, or shortly thereafter. The fact is that the committee which has looked into the matter and recommended the provision that makes that change has not given any specific reasons for the further extension, of the secrecy period from two months to six months. Certain manufacturing interests made representation to the Opposition- and I have no doubt to the Government also1- about this matte. I have discussed it with the Minister in charge ‘of the bill and also *wilh the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) awd they have said- -I think fairly - that they will pay the closest attention to the working of the legislation and will view this particular provision in the light of that experience.
– That is so.
– That is perfectly reasonable in respect of a difficult and comprehensive measure such as this is.
I wish to refer to another matter of more general importance. The AttorneyGeneral, when introducing the measure in another place; - the Minister for Supply lias said substantially the same thing in r.his chamber - stated -
Our present patent system lias limitations 1,0/I in the encouragement of inventors and bringing inventions into use without delay. Having evolved his invention, the inventor’s greatest trouble lies in getting the invention adopted in industry. In any major industrial change a manufacturer is forced to weigh the advantage to be obtained by being the first to develop the new methods against-
And this is the other side of the balancesheet, so to speak - the loss in tools and plant rendered obsolete by .the change. the’ Attorney-General added -
The involved nature of modern industrial technique has also brought difficulties to the inventor in protecting his invention, and litigation has become more costly owing to the complexity of the issues involved.
That raises the broad question which, however, one can only mention to the House at this stage. The whole essence of the law is to give to an inventor for sixteen years a monopoly in respect of an invention of, say, a new process. The law says that the inventor must disclose his invention so that after that period use of it will be open to all the world ; . that he must fully disclose it; that the invention must bo worked and that, in certain instances in which it is not sufficiently worked, it is possible for a competitor, or some one else in the industry.
Vo obtain by order of the court a licence to work it. I believe that the time is fast coming when a different approach should be made to inventions. The United States of America and Great Britain insist upon the right to use at once inventions that are related to defence not only during a time of war but also generally, leaving the question of compensation ro he determined by some, appropriate tribunal.
– This measure contains a provision along those lines.
– That is correct in connexion with inventions that are related to defence. However, I believe that in the interests of technical processes and the encouragement of manufacture a similar principle will sooner or later have to be applied to the whole field of inventions, that is, that if an inventor makes a step forward in a technique, or manufacturing -process, and reveals it, it should be possible for any person to use those ideas subject to the duty to pay compensation to the inventor, such compensation to be assessed by an appropriate tribunal. Foi the inventor of modern times, when the whole process of manufacture is going through such revolutionary changes, the reward should be not monopoly use of the particular invention but a reward that should be assessed by the court to be paid by those persons who shall be free to use the invention right from the commencement. Some of the greatest difficulties in relation to restriction of trade have arisen because of the particular method of rewarding inventors in this field. The principle dates back to the statute of the first Elizabeth when there was little competition and no interlocking of inventions. Under such conditions, it was quite easy to delimit the area of monopoly because the field was very limited. But, to-day, the field is so complicated that I believe that, as is done in respect of inventions relating to defence which, in substance, is the law of the British Commonwealth and other countries, it should be open, with proper safeguards provided, for any person to use an invention subject to the user paying compensation, or rewards, to be fixed on just terms by a tribunal, to the person responsible for the discovery. I admit that such action could not be taken by this nation acting alone but, probably, would have to be taken in the international field. That fact emphasizes the difficulty that arises. In the international field, combinations of manufacturing industries in many instances have decided to prevent the use of a new invention because the actual manufacturing equipment in use would become obsolete as a result of some great discovery. That tends to increase the -cost of manufacture and to hold back from the people the benefits , of inventions. One could cite many instances of that kind. I believe that, in the long run, the nations that are predominant in this field would find it better for the whole community if a system of that kind were adopted, but in present circumstances that is something which will have to be carefully worked out. This bill is an important step forward in stating and declaring the law in consonance, in substance, with the law of England, and the Opposition supports it. At the same time, we rely upon the Minister’s assurance that in the working of the measure, attention will be given to the experience gained thereby.
.- In these days when there is a loud call for production and an equally vociferous call for reducing the hours of work, industry relies to a very great degree upon inventions to come to its aid. The purpose of patent legislation is to stimulate inventions. The field, of course, is somewhat limited; that is, limited to manufacture, industry and commerce. The professional man does not seek the aid of patent legislation. If, for instance, a doctor invents a new technique, or produces a new drug, lie makes that knowledge available for the benefit of the whole of mankind; I) ut in the field of industry and commerce it is necessary to give to men incentives to invent. Consequently, patent legislation has been brought into existence, in order, on the one hand, to prevent complete monopoly, and, on the other hand, to give to an inventor a just reward for the work that he has done. Legislation of this nature prevents monopolies because it gives to an inventor the right to be protected for a limited term only, which, under our legislation, is normally a period of sixteen years. It does not in any way tend to make prices rise or to hinder trade. It requires that an invention must possess at least two qualities before it will be recognized, and those qualities are utility and novelty. The invention may be in the form of a new contrivance, a new combination or a new method. All those things will be recognized and will be patentable.
This bill is founded on the constitutional power of the Parliament to pass laws with regard to patents. It was in 1903 that this Parliament first passed a law with regard to patents. That law was based on the English Patents Act. of 1883. No major alteration of our patent law has occurred between 1903 and now, although from time to time certain minor amendments to it have been made. The act came into force in 1904. Whilst there has been a considerable amendment of English patent legislation our patent law, which was originally on the same lines as the English law, has lagged behind English patent law in the last 50 years. This bill is, in part, a repeal bill and, in part, a reenacting and amending bill. In other words, we are retaining our old legislation and, at the same time, bringing it up to date in conformity with English and international ideas of patent law. The bill is the fruit of the work of a committee that was appointed by the Attorney-General. It was a highly skilled and highly specialized committee, and was well qualified to do the work it wa? called on to do. Its membership consisted of a Supreme Court judge who is known as a specialist in patent law. the Commissioner of Patents, two former past presidents of the Institute of Patent Attorneys, and the Parliamentary Draftsman. They undoubtedly gave a great deal of attention to the work, and had before them the reports of a number of previous committees in this country. Included, among those reports was one made by a committee that had the assistance of Mr. Bonney, K.C., of the New South Wales bar, who was an expert on patent law and who afterwards became a. judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, although, strangely enough, in the divorce jurisdiction. With that material before them, and also with the material provided by committees in England, the committee has been able to produce’ a bill which is undoubtedly in every way up to date and should prove useful.
As the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has pointed out, patent law is extremely technical. It deals with rights of a very great value which are a matter of great interest and importance to the industries of this country. The whole basis of the legislation is to produce an clement of justice as between, on the one baud, the community which should have The right to use inventions and, on the other hand, the inventor who should have a just reward for producing his invention. The fact that the communal interest is greatly concerned in the matter is shown also in other ways in the bill. For example, one of the new provisions is that the Attorney-General shall have the right to oppose the grant of a patent should he consider that, in the public interest, no patent should be granted.
In bringing the legislation up to date with the English legislation the committee had in mind that both time and money will be saved by so doing, and also that annoyance and inconvenience will be prevented. In the main, the committee has adopted the principles that are set out in the latest English legislation. It has also adopted provisions that have previously not been adopted Imre. but that have been accepted by the International Convention of Patents. The bill is in no way radical. It shows that the committee considered that the existing patent system in this country lias operated well on the whole, but that in certain matters, which are mainly procedural, it should be brought up to date. Tt can be said justly that we shall now have an up-to-date system of patent law operating in this country. Not only should the committee be congratulated on its work, but the Government which, in the words of the Leader of the Opposition, is performing a public service by introducing this legislation, should undoubtedly also be commended.
.- This is one of those happy but all too infrequent occasions on which both sides of the House are in agreement. This is not a controversial measure. I was pleased to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) =ay that the Opposition fully supports it. The bill is comprehensive and, as will be seen from the summary at the end of its 55 pages, it involves the repeal of the whole of seven earlier acts and of parts of three earlier acts, lt is a grand piece of work and I congratulate the Government for having taken’ these steps to bring our patent law up . to date in the light of modern requirements and conditions. I also pay tribute to the expert committee for the grand work that it did in making such a thorough and comprehensive investigation and report, on which the Government has acted so quickly. The fact that practically the whole of our existing patents legislation is to be repealed by this measure should not mislead anybody into believing that there is to be a faundamental change in the Australian patent law. Ear from it! Careful perusal of the bill will show that only in relation to matters of procedure is there to be any alteration. I believe it to be far better to introduce a new bill and thereby repeal the old acts than to introduce a host of amendments that would serve only to confuse the issue and make an already difficult law even harder to unravel. The bill, as the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) has pointed out, merely seeks to bring the patent law of Australia up to date and put it in line with the English law, which was amended and brought up to date only three years ago. There has been greater advancement in scientific and technical fields in the half century that has elapsed since the original patent legislation became law in Australia than in any other half century in history. During that time many new industries have come into being, and other new industries are still springing up. This is a young and growing country which faces great expansion in the future. After all, we have barely crossed the threshhold of our history as a nation. I suggest that, in the interests of progress and development, every encouragement and protection should be extended to inventors. All too few of us are of an inventive turn of mind. The importance of inventions, from many points of view, cannot be overstated. History shows the great advantages that have flowed from the adoption of inventions in many fields. “We should avoid the folly that was demonstrated in the seventeenth century, and the early part of the eighteenth century, when recognition of talent in the inventive field was delayed.
Now I shall submit a proposition to the Government. Tt is well known that in time of war awards are offered for inventions that will aid in the prosecution of the war effort. I believe that our minds should be .turned in a similar direction in time of peace. I see no reason why attractive monetary incentives should not be offered with a view to encouraging inventions that will help to meet our peace-time requirements. This country’s greatest need is increased productivity. [ believe there would be much virtue in providing suitable incentives for the encouragement and formulation of new and better methods and the creation of new designs and new instruments and of new and improved industrial plant and machinery. Over the years Australians have shown themselves to be capable of great resourcefulness. They have initiative and a spirit of enterprise. I believe that in. this country we have a pool of inventive talent that could be greatly stimulated by some form of monetary incentive such as I suggest. The records show that the registration of patents in Australia averages 4,000 a year. If some new incentive were provided that number might be greatly increased. Awards could be made to both firms and individuals for the invention of new production methods that would help Australia either to increase its industrial output, earn more dollars, or overcome shortages of particular commodities. The world shortage of tinplate provides an example. It is possible that if sufficient incentive were provided some one would discover, a new formula for the canning of our fruits and other products that would . not necessitate the use of tinplate. I read in the press a few weeks ago that an English company had thoughts in that direction, but there has been no such development in Australia.
The idea of monetary incentive for inventions in peace-time is not new, although it may be new in this country, ft. is certainly not new in Britain, because any ‘ student of history knows that in the eighteenth century, in the time of Nelson, and even before that time, the British Government did a great deal to stimulate the British nautical instruments industry, which played an important part in Britain’s naval development. That encouragement generally consisted of awarding prize money for useful inventions. I suggest that trade associations, chambers of manufactures, chambers of commerce and individual firms should be encouraged to make some contribution towards worthwhile rewards for useful inventions. We all know the famous saying “ necessity is the mother of invention “. The truth of that saying has been proved in war-time, and it could also be proved in peace-time. A monetary incentive would help greatly to stimulate inventive genius in our midst that might otherwise remain latent.
The bill has some outstanding features that deserve special commendation and which have not been mentioned so far. Clause f>6, which makes provision for the disclosure by the Patent Office of particulars of prior specifications disclosed l-.y official searches is to be commended. The purpose of that provision is to enable full use to be made of the store of technical knowledge residing in the Patent Office which, up to the present time, has not been used to the best possible advantage. Other clauses, such a.clause 95 and clause 120, will help t<> facilitate the adoption of inventions by industry and to minimize the delay in putting worthwhile invention’s into practical use. The measure will give encouragement and protection to inventors and will also ensure that the public interest shall be adequately protected. It will also streamline the procedure in regard to claims and specifications and appeals, and will clarify the position of patent attorneys and of the legal profession in relation to registrations and appeals. In short, the bill abolishes existing anomalies, delays, and difficulties in regard to patents, and modernizes in one grand sweep the whole of our patent law. Therefore, it deserves the wholehearted support of this House.
– in reply - In these days of hard-fought party politics, it is gratifying to note that the House is willing and able to approach a bill of this kind in a detached and helpful manner. The Government is deeply obliged to honorable members on both sides of the chamber for their contributions to the debate, and I repeat my earlier assurance that it is not thought that the door is finally closed on patent matters. The operation of this bill will be closely observed, and if it be found that improvements can be made, the Government will give careful consideration to amendments. The honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) made a valuable suggestion that will not be overlooked. It is true that in what may be regarded as times of emergency, governments have offered special kinds of incentive to inventors; and there is certainly something to be said for a procedure to stimulate, in peace-time, the inventive genius of our people. Such a provision is not contained in this bill, and it is not exactly proper that it should be, but the suggestion will notbe overlooked.
The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) made a comment on the need, at some time, for a new approach to the whole matter of patent law. I do not close my mind to such a need. Times change and methods should change with them. It may well be that the methods which were suitable in the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries require modification in the middle of the twentieth century. However, as the Leader of the Opposition has acknowledged, that is not properly the subject of a bill of this kind. The right honorable gentleman also indicated that no radical change can be made except by international arrangement, because Australia is a party to the International Copyright Convention. A part of the virtue of the copyright convention, and of patent legislation, is their international character, whereby an inventor, a citizen of one countryis enabled to protect his rights in another country.
The bill has been carefully drafted by a most distinguished committee. The chairman, the Honorable Arthur Dean, is a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria. The members were Mr. L. B. Davies, a practising patent attorney and a past president of the Institute of Patent Attorneys of Australia ; Mr. R. K. White, a past president of the same body; Mr. H. R. Wilmot, the Commissioner of Patents; and last but not least, the Parliamentary Draftsman, Mr. J. Q. Ewens, who., as everybody knows, played an important part and made a most valuable contribution to the discussions. I ask the House to note that, although the report of the committee was completed only on the 17th April last, the bill was introduced in the Senate only a few weeks later. In other words, because of the expeditious work of the draftsman, the Government was able to bring this valuable legislation promptly before the Parliament. The Government is grateful to all members of the committee for their valuable contributions to the report.
The amendments that I propose to move were formulated by the Government after the introduction of the bill and as the result of representations by the profession and various commercial interests. The amendments are considered to improve the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In committee :
Clause 34 - (1.) Any of the following persons, whether a British subject or not, may makean application for a patent: -
– I move -
That the following sub-clause be added: - “ (3.) An assignee of a. part interest in an invention may make a joint application for a patent with any of the persons referred to in sub-section (1.) of this section and a patent may be granted to them jointly.”.
The bill, as at present drafted, does not draw any distinction between the assignee of it part interest in the invention and the assignee of the whole of the invention, and it is not clear from this clause that the assignee of a part interest may apply jointly with others for letters patent for an invention. The proposed amendment is desirable in order to ensure that an assignee of a part interest of an invention may have the right to make application jointly with the other persons referred to in sub-clause (1.) for letters patent for an invention.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause 45 - (4.) The priority date of a claim of a complete specification lodged in respect of a further
Application made by virtue of section fifty-one nf this Act, being a claim fairly based on mutter disclosed in the provisional specification or complete specification lodged in respect nf the original application, is the date of lodgment of the provisional specification or complete specification in which that matter was first disclosed.
– I move. -
That, in sub-clause (4.), the words “of lodgment of the provisional specification or complete specification in which that matter was first disclosed.” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “ which would have been the priority date of that claim if that claim had been included in the complete specification lodged in respect nf the original application.”.
Sub-clause (4.), as at present drafted, suffers from the defect that in the case of a division, in pursuance of clause 51, of an application based upon an application already made in a country with which a convention exists the applicant loses the benefit in the divisional application of obtaining a priority date to which he would have been entitled had he not divided his application. The narrow effect that is thus given to subclause (4.) was not intended and there is no reason for differentiating, so far as priority date is concerned, in a divisional application made under clause 51, between u complete specification filed after a provisional specification and one filed pursuant to a convention application.
Amendment agreed to.
Objection shall not be taken to an application for a .patent of addition, so far as the invention is claimed in any claim of the complete specification, and a patent of addition, so far as the invention is so claimed, is not invalid, on the ground only that the invention, io far as claimed in any claim of the complete specification -
has been used by or with the authority of the applicant or patentee before the priority date of that claim but after the priority date of the claim of the specification of the main invention defining the invention the improvement in which, or the modification of which, is the subject of the first-mentioned claim, or, if there are two or more claims defining that invention, after the priority date of whichever of those claims has the earlier or earliest priority date; or
is obvious and does not involve an inventive step, having regard to a publication of the complete specification of the main invention during the period referred to in the last preceding paragraph, or the use, with the authority of the applicant or patentee, of the main invention during that period.
– I move -
That paragraphs (a) and (6) be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - is obvious and does not involve an inventive step, having regard to -
the publication of the main invention before the priority date of that claim but after the priority date of the claim of the specification of the main invention defining the invention the improvement in which, or the modification of which, is- the subject of the first-mentioned claim, or, if there are two or more claims defining that invention, after the priority date of whichever of those claims has the earlier or earliest priority date; or
the use of the main invention during that period.”.
The clause as it stands provides that a patent of addition shall not be held invalid on account of prior use or publication of the invention claimed in the patent addition, by the patentee or any one authorized by him. The clause was intended to safeguard only against the prior use or prior publication- of the main invention and not, as it does, against the prior use or publication of the actual invention of the patent of addition. The amendment will restrict its operation accordingly. The amendment gives effect to a recommendation of the Patent Law Review Committee in paragraph 71 of its report, which has been distributed to honorable members.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause 120 - (5.) The validity of a claim in the specification of a patent shall not be called in question in proceedings for a declaration under this section and the making or refusal to make the declaration does not imply that the patent is valid.
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (5.), the words “making or refusal to make” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “making of, or refusal to make,”.
No substantive alteration is made by this amendment, which is a formal one designed to make clearer the intention of the bill.
Amendment agreed to.
A patent attorney shall not practise or act as a patent attorney, or hold himself out as so practising, at an office or place of business at which specifications or other documents are prepared for the purposes of this Act, unless that, patent attorney, some other patent attorney, or some person entitled to practise as a patent attorney, is in regular attendance at. and in continuous charge of, that office or place during the hours when that office or place is open for business.
Penalty: Fifty pounds.
– I move -
That the words “during the hours when that office or place is open for business.” he left out.
Some honorable members, including the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins), and members of the profession, have made representations to me about this matter. The clause, as drafted, is open to the objection that it may place an unnecessaryrestricton upon a patent attorney in that it may require his attendance at his office or place of business for every minute of the day during which that office or place of business is open. It is not desirable that the clause should be open to such a construction and the amendment is accordingly being made.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause 154 - (4.) A direction shall not be given under this section so as to affect the rights or obligations of a trustee or of the -
– I move -
That sub-clause (4.) (a) be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following sub-clause : - “ (4.) A direction shall not be given under this section -
so as to affect the rights or obligations of a trustee or of the legal representative of a deceasedperson or rights or obligations arising out of either of those relationships; or “.
This amendment effects no substantive alteration, but is merely a formal amendment to make clearer the intention of the bill.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause 158- (2.) Paragraphs (c), (d), (e) and (f) of the last preceding sub-section apply only if the applicant or patentee, before exhibiting the invention, has given to the Commissioner notice in the prescribed form accompanied by the prescribed fee of his intention to exhibit the invention and an application for a patent for the invention has been made before the closing of the exhibition, or, if the exhibition was open for a longer period than six months within six months after the opening of the exhibition.
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (2.), the words “ in the prescribed form accompanied by the prescribed fee “ be left out.
This amendment effects an omission from the bill of words which serve no useful purpose. Clause 176 provides generally that there shall be paid to the Commissioner such fees as are prescribed, and clause 177 makes provision for regulations under which forms required may be prescribed. The insertion in a particular clause, therefore, of any reference to prescribed form or prescribed fee is unnecessary.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause 159- (1.) The Commissioner may correcta clerical error or obvious mistake in the Register, in a patent, in an application or specification or in proceedings under this Act.
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.), after the word “Act”, the following words be inserted: - “, not being proceedings in a Court “.
Without the qualification made by the amendment, the clause will be open to the objection that the Commissioner will have power under it to correct a clerical error or obvious mistake in documents filed or proceedings taken in court under other provisions of the bill. It is not intended to give to the Commissioner such a power and the amendment is being made to make it clear that such a power is not given to him.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause 160- (1 . ) Where, by reason of -
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.), paragraph (b), the words “ a proceeding under this Act” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the fol lowing words:- “in proceedings under this Act (not being proceedings in a court”.
Without the qualification made by the amendment the clause is open to the objection that the Commissioner will have power under sub-clause (1.) to extend the time in which service may be effected, or document filed in any court proceedings which have been taken under the provisions of the act. It is not intended that such a power shall be given to the Commissioner and the amendment will make it clear that such a power is not given to him.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause 164 -
Where by this Act an application, notice or request is required or permitted to be made or signed by a person, that application may be made or signed, on behalf of that person, by a person entitled under this Act to practise as a patent attorney.
– I move -
That, after the word “ application “, second occurring, the following words be inserted: - “ notice or request
The operation of the clause as drafted would have been unduly restricted to “ applications “ and, in accordance with a recommendation of the Patent Law Review Committee, it is being amplified so as to cover “ notices “ or “ requests “.
Amendment agreed to.
Where, at the hearing of an action or proceeding under this Act, a patent attorney attends in court for the purpose of assisting a party in the conduct of the hearing the costs of a party in whose favour an order for costs is made may include an allowance in respect of that attendance’.
– I move -
That the words “ the costs of a party in whose favour an order for costs is made “, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “and an order is made for payment of the costs of that party, those costs “.
This is a formal amendment to make clear the intention that a party whohas obtained an order for the payment of costs may include in his costs an allowance in respect of a patent attorney who has attended in court for the purpose of assisting him in the conduct of his case..
Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 5th March (vide page 861, vol. 216), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the following paper be printed: -
– Many weeks have elapsed since the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) announced to the House the Government’s decision to despatch a Royal Australian Air Force jet fighter wing to the Middle East. I regard the stationing of such a unit in that part of the world as an event of great importance. The object is to place the Royal Australian Air Force wing at a Royal Air Force base for training and experience in an area that presents distinctive problems to our forces. The experience gained by the Royal Australian Air Force when fighting in conjunction with the Royal Air Force in time of war was invaluable. In peace time general training, and particularly co-operative training with the Royal Air Force, is probably the most satisfactory way of developing the Royal Australian Air Force.
Perhaps the Minister for Defence (Mr. McBride) or the Minister for Air (Mr. McMahon) will be able to say whether a suggestion that I intend to make is practicable. For the proper organization of the air defence of the British Commonwealth it is most important that the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Air Force should associate in combined training. From that point of view nothing but good can come of this association of one of our air squadrons with the Royal Air Force. I suggest that some combined training of a similar nature might be arranged within Australia. 1 know that there would be difficulties involved in such an arrangement, but perhaps something along those lines could, be attempted by the Australian Government in conjunction with the British Government, or the Governments of other countries with which ‘ Australia is associated. That training could take place in the northern part of Australia, and in the event of the occurrence of future trouble it would prove to be of enormous value. There are adequate air fields at Townsville and Mareeba because the run-ways that were built there during the last war are still available. If such an arrangement could be made it would not only confirm the policy involved in the joint training plan for air-force specialists, but ais J have a valuable effect on the Australian people by bringing closely to their attention the valuable co-operative work that is being done by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force.
.- In common with all honorable members on this side of the House I am glad that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has supported this move on the part of the Australian Government. Everybody realizes that the Middle East has become, perhaps more than ever before, one of the primary concerns of Australia. Through this region passes one of our great trade arteries with the northern hemisphere, and the greater part of our oil supplies are drawn from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. It is unnecessary to remind honorable members that in the Middle East our troops fought with great distinction in the last two world .wa’i$. The sending of a Royal Australian Air Force contingent to this part of the -world in these critical days will be an important gesture, both practically and psychologically.
The inflammatory political position in the Middle East is as full of danger at present as it has been at any time since the war ended. Persia is ruled by a fanatic - a prime minister swaying, weeping, gesticulating and gyrating like a hobgoblin in a ballet. Egypt is in the throes of a revolution, and who can say that after having rid themselves of a corrupt and contemptible monarch the Egyptians will achieve in any real degree a better government than the one that is now passing away.
All must agree that Great Britain is in a state of virtual impoverishment, and that the time has long past when England could act the part of policeman of the world. Nothing exemplifies its parlous condition more than the recently reported serious dilution of the United Kingdom defence vote. In spite of ite difficulties the United Kingdom is making a great contribution to the defence of Western Europe which is, indirectly, the defence of Australia. The United Kingdom is assisting to consolidate Australian security by suppressing the Communist uprisings in Malaya. We have only to ask ourselves what our position would be if Great Britain withdrew its forces from Malaya and directed General Templer and his men to the strategic areas of the Suez Canal or Cyprus.
I was pleased to hear the Leader of the Opposition refer to the valuable experience that the Royal Australian Air Force would gain by being sent to the Middle East. Every serviceman and ex-serviceman in this House must agree that there is no training substitute for actual service operations. If the British Commonwealth is to remain strong in these troublous times, if we are to perpetuate it as a reality and not use the term simply as a peroration in speeches, then each of the partners must be generous and forthcoming in mutual assistance to the utmost of its capacity. Our own military reputation in the eyes of the world - and I think that the claim can he made without appearing boastful - is such that immediately the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) announced some months ago that the Royal Australian Air Force would be represented in the Middle East, British diplomacy was strengthened in that area. The announcement caused intense satisfaction in Great Britain where it was considered to he a practical earnest of Australia’s resolve to shoulder its fair share of Empire defence.
In support of the Anglo-American approach an attempt is being made to bring into being, in co-operation with Turkey and France, a four-power Middle East Command as a solvent of the impasse with Egypt over the matter of the Suez Canal. There is ample evidence to show that such a move is in the interests of not only Great Britain, hut also Australia. I hope that our squadrons will remain in the Middle East for as long as circumstances demand and that if the situation worsens within the next few weeks, as it may well do, they will be promptly supplemented by whatever aircraft and, if necessary, ships and troops it is within our power, and commensurate with our safety, to send forth.
.- The problems of the defence of the world are very serious. There is a global problem, but each individual area has its own problem. Our country has a most serious problem to face. I do not disagree with, anything that has been said about the value of the training of No. 78 Squadron overseas. Together with a number of other honorable members, I visited Darwin, enjoyed its salubrious winter climate, saw much and spoke to many people. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Towner) has expressed the hope that Australia will, if the occasion demands, reinforce its squadrons overseas. I emphasize that if trouble occurs we must do something to defend our own empty north. From Geraldton on the west to Townsville on the east there are scarcely any units of the Royal Australian Air Force. In Darwin to-day there is one Dakota, one Wirraway and one Lincoln ; and I remind honorable members that it cannot be said that to the north of Australia lies a quiet and settled part of the world. If what the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) said at the Australia, New Zealand and United States conference yesterday, has validity, and I believe that he was speaking not in an exaggerated way but in the light of known facts, there is a danger of war in the Pacific. There could be a war in the Pacific without there being a war in Europe.
The Korean war, which strangely enough has not yet been designated as a war by the .Americans, or many other people except the South Koreans, could be repeated in other parts of the Pacific area, and it is possible that our northern territories could be endangered. According to the recent statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), we have air squadrons in Malaya, the Middle East and Korea. Nobody has offered any objection to Australia’s participation in operations in those areas, and nobody has objected to the advantages that will be obtained by Australia’s participation, in combined defence training with the Royal Australian Air Force in Malta, Cyprus or other parts of the world. However, there is a need for sending to the north some of the squadrons that are training in the southern part of Australia. The unit that has gone to the Middle East will train under European conditions. I believe that because of our large and diverse continent units of the Royal Australian Air Force should have some training in tropical conditions. Instead of having a parody of an air force of three machines in northern Australia - and I understand that there is only one pilot capable of flying both the Wirraway and the Dakota - I believe it t’o be incumbent upon us to ensure that we shall have reasonable forces training in the northern part of Australia against the possibility that very early in the future we may have some reason to call upon their services.
During the last war the present Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) secured the services of three Royal Air Force Spitfire squadrons, which performed gallantly and successfully in the defence of northern Australia. This gesture of the Aus tralian Government is in the nature of a reciprocal offer to be of service to Great Britain in a troubled part of the world in which both Australia and Great Britain have interests. I do not say anything in derogation of what has been done, but I emphasize that we cannot neglect our empty north, or leave defenceless our coastlines which extend for almost 6,000 miles. The Leader of the Opposition has suggested that perhaps we should have air force units training at Townsville or Cairns. I believe that in the area from Geraldton to Darwin we should occasionally train some men. There is a number of quite worthwhile air-strips, still in usable condition, between Darwin and Katherine. There are excellent strips near Wyndham, such as the one at Argyle Downs, where there was a Royal Australian Air Force station during the war. The morale of the handful of Australians in that area would be strengthened if it were used extensively for training purposes, and an indication would be given to the rest of the world that the north of Australia is not so defenceless as it may seem to be. I. read recently a newspaper report that a member of the Australian Country party had said at a conference in Queensland that the Dutch were permitting 2,000,000 Indonesians to enter Dutch New Guinea. That is a grave warning to us, if there be any truth in it. We must pay attention to the defences of northern Australia unless we want to invite trouble. The Royal Australian Air Force units that have served overseas, particularly in Korea and in Malaya, have suffered casualties. Great losses have been sustained by all branches of our armed forces that are engaged in the Korean venture. The sympathy of every honorable member is with the relatives of the men who have lost their lives and of those who have been wounded in Korea.
I hope that the Minister for Air (Mr. McMahon) will announce to the Parliament at a later date that greater use will be made of the Royal Australian Air Force in the northern part of Australia and also, perhaps, that combined aerial and naval operations will be conducted in that region. The residents of that part of the continent have not seen an Australian warship since the end of World War II. The sole naval vessel at Darwin is a motor launch, and only five officers of the Royal Australian Navy are stationed there. A frigate should be sent to those waters regularly, and opportunities might also be taken to send H.M.A.S. Sydney or some other major unit of the Navy occa sionally. Apparently the naval authorities find it desirable to send large forces to Melbourne and other ports on special occasions. It might be a better idea to let the people of Australia and some of our near neighbours know that we have an efficient navy and a worthwhile air force. Such displays of our defensive power would give great encouragement to those Australians who might well be called the wardens of the outer marches and who would bear the first brunt of any attack upon this country should war break out again in the Pacific.
.- I am glad to note that honorable members generally support the policy that the Government has adopted in sending a fighter wing of the Royal Australian Air Fore? to the Middle East. I also agree in principle with the view expressed by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) in favour of the defence of the northern part of Australia. Nevertheless, I remind him that the general world situation to-day does not include an immediate threat to the north of Australia. The honorable gentleman appears to have overlooked that fact. Any threat that may develop against the northern part of our continent must approach Australia through South-East Asia. Although everybody knows that the northern area of South-East Asia is still in a state of turmoil, and that some regimes might tumble without offering much resistance to aggression, the fact is that the danger to Australia is remote. That situation is likely to remain unchanged for a considerable time. The honorable member for Melbourne spoke of a rumour that large numbers of Indonesians were to go to Dutch New Guinea. No evidence in support of that, rumour can be obtained from any reliable source. Well-informed authorities do not believe that many Indonesians have gained entry to that territory, and I remind the House that Dutch troops are stationed there. All known facts indicate that there has been no infiltration of Dutch New Guinea and that there is not likely to be any such infiltration in the forseeable future.
– What evidence can the honorable member produce in support of that statement?
– Evidence as good a-i any that; the honorable member can obtain. [ have obtained it from reports that I hae seen in newspapers and elsewhere. There is every reason to believe that there is no Indonesian policy of infiltration in that part of the world, and I hope and. believe that the situation will not change.
There are two practical reasons why Australia, should main taru a fighter wing in the Middle East. The first, which w:t< mentioned hy the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), is that the members of the unit -will be able to obtain there the best practical training that can be obained in the world at present. The Leader of the Opposition suggested that urah, training should he carried out iri Australia. I remind him that the mem.bers of the Australian wing will train with members of the Royal Air Force and other operational forces from the United Kingdom that are now based on Cyprus. The experience that they will gain there must be far more valuable than any experience that they could gain in Australia. They will be rubbing shoulders constantly with men whose knowledge of warfare is much more advanced than is ours. They will be able to learn a great deal of what is being r ought in air force circles in Great Britain to-day.
The second practical reason is that thesending of the wing’ to the Middle East gives a clear indication to the world of our interest in that theatre. We have shown that our interest in the Middle East is just as great to-day as it ever was. and! that ifr will remain so in the future. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) spoke of the strategic importance of the. Middle East, not only as a bastion of defence against Russia, but also as n source of oil. The- honorable member for Melbourne neglected’ to mention the fact, although I am sure that it was in his mind’, that about 40 per cent, of the world’s oil supplies comes from the Middle East and that Australia depends heavily upon those supplies. Merely from that stand point, the Middle East is of first-class- importance to us.
Outstanding events of recent weeks have emphasized the importance of the Middle East in the general world strategic situation. We know what has happened in Persia. Conditions there are- chaotic and have given rise to the very grave* danger of a Communist coup.. Every honorable member must ihe> awa-re that: the advent: of a Communist power in the region of the Indian Ocean would’ giverise to serious dangers for us. The. same dangers could arise in Egypt. We do not know bow the situation in: that countrywill develop. Its Government has been upset and revolutionary forces are- ar work. There rs a. constant- danger- that (i subversive power, such as that of coinmunism, will gain control of Egypt.. For the reasons that I have stated, Australia! must show its interest in the Middle- East by maintaining forces- in the area. I shall not attempt to forecast developments, but at present I am heartily in. agreement with, the policy of the Government. Will the Arab, countries in the: Middle East form the base from which, our defence forces will operate:? 1 cannot answer that question now. Itmay become necessary for our defence forces to move north from Cyprus and to transfer- our main line- of defence from Egypt to: Turkey or Greece, or to both: of those countries; I whole-heartedly support the: policy of declaring our interest in the. Middle East by sending forces’ to that region.
,.- T agree with the general view of the House that the Government has acted correctly in despatching, a wing of the Royal Australian Air Force, to the Middle East.. That unit, in that situation, represent* an important part of the Empire defence, plan. I was particularly interested in the comments of the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) on the state of turmoil in the Middle East, which has persisted in one form or other throughoutrecent history. He drew a rather clever and entertaining picture of the weeping Mossadeq- of Persia, but his analysis of the qualities of leadership in the Middle East was, perhaps-, not strictly accurate. In the Middle East, one must- be able- to cry like Johnny Ray in order to be successful, and’ the Persian Prime Minister has wept’ his way in and out of power with great success. I daresay that, on an- historic occasion in this House tonight, there will be further weeping” that mav have similar repercussions- in due- course. The decision of the Australian Government to contribute to a general defence programme to safeguard the crossroads of our world trade and to protect our legitimate interests in peace-time is commendable and has the support of the Opposition. The calibre of the Royal Australian Air Force squadrons that are now on service outside Australia - No. 77 Squadron at Iwakuni and No. 78 Squadron in the Middle East - is of a high order. They are composed of exceptional mcn under exceptional leaders. [ met members of No. 78 Squadron when they were stationed in Japan, and I am confident that they will worthily represent our air force in the Middle East. The honorable member for Angas spoke of the need for special training of Royal Australian Air Force units and. the honorable member for Melbourne, on behalf of the Opposition, suggested that the 1 Government arrange a system of reciprocal training between the Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force. Wa should welcome unit3 of the Royal Air Force in Australia, especially as that service already has intimate knowledge of the difficulties of defending our vulnerable north.
The scope of the debate has been extended in order to canvass the question whether we should draw in our frontiers and stabilize them in the southern hemisphere or should reach out into the Old World. The issue is highly debatable. Strategy until recently was of the nineteenth century vintage, but that was blown to bits by the atom bomb. Although our forces may serve usefully in distant territories whore danger to the Empire is likely to arise, we are being obliged by events to turn our eyes nearer to home. A complete change has taken pla.ee in the views of the Labour move.ment on the subject of the defence of Australia as a result of World War II. and more recent developments. What will happen to the vulnerable continent of Australia in the event of disturbances spreading from China and elsewhere in Asia? lt is of no use for us to think in the old-fashioned way and to say, according to the book. “ This can’t happen here”. The fallacy of that attitude hai been clearly exposed. I do not object to the deployment, of Australian forces overseas where units are established at present, but it will be useless to maintain such defensive establishments unless we have a solid defence system in Australia.
It would be dangerous to mention names in a discussion of this character, but I am sure that, should the situation deteriorate, our struggle will take place much closer to home than China or Japan. The blanket of islands to the north of us houses a polyglot collection of races that are becoming increasingly nationalistic in their outlook. Should anything happen to convert their nationalism to communism, battle would be joined with enemies only 1,000 miles away from Darwin, not 5,000 miles away in Japan. The planners of our military strategy, under any government, must think deeply and prepare wisely so that we shall be able to combat any such menace if the necessity to do so is thrust upon us. I believe that during this century our ability to hold this country will be tested. Therefore, I have modified many of my views upon defence. I want our defences to be strengthened wherever possible, and the greatest consideration given to the most effective development of our meagre resources of man-power. This country, more than any other nation in the world, needs the complete co-operation of other democracies. Australia has at all times, irrespective of the government in power, shown itself to be willing to do everything it can do to assist the defence of the Empire, at any point of the Empire. The history of the last two world wars shows that Australians have fought all over the world in defence of the interests of the Empire.
Now that the axis of war has shifted from Europe to Asia, we are entitled to consider the problems with which we should be faced if. war broke out. Australians have always suffered from a feeling of insecurity because of their lack of numbers. That is written- into our history. Our literature is studded with references to a wide, empty and lonely land, and expresses the fear that some day someone will take it from us. Because we have proved that we are prepared to discharge our inter-Empire and international responsibilities, we are justified in asking the great democratic nations to assist us to preserve the integrity of our country by giving to us the benefit of their knowledge. It would be useful if, not in times of war or other emergency, but now, units of the Royal Air Force were operating in close cooperation with units of the Royal Australian Air Force’ in places that may be the battlegrounds of the future. We must face the ugly fact that this is a period, not of peace, but of adjustment prior to another conflict unless we do something to prevent that conflict from occurring. In those circumstances, defence is the keynote. Long-range policies are being enunciated, and the new theory is that, with the advent of the atomic bomb, our best means of defence will be aircraft and swift naval craft. Therefore, we must endeavour to achieve the most comprehensive cooperation with British forces, especially the Royal Air Force, when we are making plans for the defence of northern Australia.
I believe that the majority of Australians agree that these fine airmen of ours should be where they are, protecting one of the trouble spots of the world and standing guard in the ever-disturbed Middle East, and that we should encourage a reciprocal move with the object of being helped to strengthen our defences in areas in which we might be attacked if we were to become involved in a war. I believe that to be in the mind of the Government. The debate has shown that honorable members appreciate the international aspects of defence. The presence of these men in the Middle East, a long way from their homes, shows that we are prepared to co-operate in any inter-Empire plan of defence. Therefore, we have a strong claim for the co-operation of other democracies in the planned defence of this country, especially of the vulnerable northern areas about which the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has spoken.
.-! am pleased to know that honorable gentlemen opposite agree that this Fighter Wing should be sent to the Middle East. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) referred to the weaknesses of our defences in the north of Australia, and said he believed that we should send a squadron or squadrons of the Royal Austraiian Air Force regularly to the north to carry out exercises there in conjunction, if possible, with the Royal Austraiian Navy. When we are considering the recent discovery by the honorable member for Melbourne of the weaknesses of our defences in the north, we should take into consideration some of the things for which honorable gentlemen opposite are responsible. They are responsible for our lack of defence, in the north. I refer particularly to Man us Island. If Indonesians are infiltrating New Guinea, and if New Guinea and the northern portions of Australia are in danger to-day, the responsibility for that state of affairs lies at the door of honorable gentlemen opposite. We should not need to be so concerned about having combined exercises in the Darwin area if there were an American base on Manus Island, and if the Americans were there under the conditions that they offered to us originally. Let me inform the honorable member for Melbourne, if he does not already know it. that at least twice a year No. S2 Wing of the Royal Australian Air Force, which is stationed at Amberley, Carrie^ out exercises based on Darwin, Townsville and even on Momote on Los Negros Island.
I believe that at the present time the Royal Australian Air Force is doing everything possible to train the members of its operational units for the defence of Australia. Last April, I paid a short visit to Malaya as a member of the Active Reserve of the Royal Australian Air Force. During the course of that visit, I was able to see the work that is being done by the two squadrons of the Royal Australian Air Force that are operating in Malaya. One is a transport squadron, and the other is a squadron of Lincoln bombers. We in Australia should be proud of the efficiency with which those squadrons are doing the work that is given to them. I should not like to attempt to assess the value of that work to the operations against the bandits of Malaya. It is almost impossible to assess the value of the assistance that is being given to the ground forces by units of the Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force. In Malaya, at the present time considerable numbers of ground forces are employed upon the task of containing and, I believe, gradually getting the upper hand of a comparatively small number of Communist bandits. Comparatively small air forces are being used to assist the ground forces.
A part of our duty as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations is to assist other members wherever we can do so. By contributing to the effort in Malaya, probably we are contributing to the immediate defence of Australia and, in addition, are giving to our service personnel there an opportunity to further their training under nominal active service conditions. For the Air Force, they are not really war conditions in the true sense of the word, because our airmen encounter no air opposition and the only opposition from the ground forces is scattered small arms fire. Nevertheless, the conditions under which our squadrons are operating in Malaya provide them with better training than they could get in any operations in Australia. The squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force in Korea is doing wonderful work to assist the United Nations forces. In Malaya, we are assisting the British Commonwealth directly, and the United Nations indirectly. In Korea, we are assisting the effort of the United Nations directly. By sending a Fighter Wing to the Middle East, we shall serve a twofold purpose. First, our airmen will get the benefit of training under conditions that do not obtain in Australia, and also will learn from the other air forces with which they are working. In some instances, they will be able to pass on information about techniques and methods used by the Royal Australian Air Force which are slightly better than those of other air forces. Secondly, we shall maintain our link with the other nations of the British Commonwealth and play our part in the preservation of a commonwealth o’f nations that must continue to exist if the democratic system of government is to be maintained.
The Citizen Military Forces have instituted a scheme under which officers of that force who volunteer to do so will be able to spend three or five weeks in Korea and learn what is happening there, so that the citizen soldiers of this country may become acquainted with modern methods of warfare. I believe that that arrangement could be extended, on a somewhat limited scale, to members of the Active Reserve of the Royal Australian Air Force. In time of war, the majority of members of the Australian forces are not members of the permanent forces. Our permanent forces constitute the nucleus upon which a vast expansion takes place. If more members of our citizen forces were given an opportunity to see foi themselves what is happening in Korea and to pass on that knowledge to their fellow members, the forces concerned would derive considerable benefit.
The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) asked what would happen to Australia in the event of another war. That is something that only the future can tell. I believe firmly that if war broke out and Australia were threatened by an enemy, our air force would be our most important arm of defence. Every airman who gains experience overseas and is kept in continual semi-operational training will be able to play a very important part in the defence of this country. Every man we can train will be needed in the event of an immediate threat to Australia. The Royal Australian Air Force is attaining a fairly high degree of mobility. The fact that we had forces in the Middle East would not affect the defence of Australia materially for although we had squadrons in Malaya and in other places also, squadrons of the Royal Air Force based in the Pacific area would be directly concerned with the defence of Australia in an emergency. So, although Australian forces are being committed to overseas tours, forces from other countries are available to us in compensation. I wish to make only one point in relation to the despatch of Australian airmen to the Middle East. The Royal Australian Air Force is short of trained personnel, and by allowing one wing to go to the Middle East we have given to the Royal Australian Air Force in Australia a difficult task. I am sure that it will be equal to the task but the expansion of the Permanent Air Force and of the Active Reserve will not be made easier by the departure of a section of the Royal Australian Air Force overseas. [ support the despatch of the wing to the Middle East, however, because I believe that it will serve a useful purpose and that the men will be able to secure valuable practical training.
– I am in favour of the step that has been taken, as is every other honorable member who has spoken, much as I regret the necessity to send men of the armed services abroad in any conditions. It is, perhaps, timely to remind ourselves of the responsibilities that Australia has accepted, through this Government and the Government which preceded it, in relation to our allies. Australia has strong friends and if the worst should happen, it expects powerful support from them. We expect to have the assistance of large American forces if we should be threatened and we look to our friends and relatives in the British Empire also for considerable aid. We can rely on that assistance. But we must remember that, in our turn, we also have definite commitments. Therefore, I applaud the step which is the subject of this debate because it shows that we recognize our commitments and are doing something to honour them. In reviewing the overall defence picture, however, I cannot believe that our contribution is realistic or that it is in proportion to the help that we expect our allies and friends to give to us should war come. What have we to put into the field? What can we raise in the air, on the sea, or on the land to defend ourselves or to support our allies on some front overseas? It is all very well for certain gentlemen to talk about “ a million Anzacs “. Where are they to come from? In Australia, we have only 16,000 men in the military forces who can be sent abroad. It is useless to talk about national service trainees because they cannot be sent overseas. The only effective army that Australia can send abroad if necessary consists of 16,000 men. That is totally unrealistic and an inadequate contribution for Australia to make at a time like the present.
I- believe that the squadron which has been sent abroad is to be based on Malta. [ hope that it will not be moved to Cyprus. We have very few real friends in the international sphere, but among the firmest and the truest are the Greek people. Rightly or wrongly, the Greeks regard Cyprus as a part of the Greek nation and very bitter feeling has grown between the Greeks and the British over the British occupation of Cyprus. I do not understand it and I do not intend to discuss the rights or wrongs of it. No doubt the British have good reasons in their opinion for retaining their hold on Cyprus. But the Greeks have proved themselves to be true and firm friends of Australia, and if we were to land our troops in Cyprus they would consider such a move a great affront. They would believe that Australia was “taking a stand in opposition to what they believe to be their legitimate claims. Commanders have the responsibility of disposing their forces in the best possible way, but the duty of politicians is to bear in mind foreign relationships. I have the warmest regard for the Greek people and I should be sorry if the Government were to take any action that would lessen the regard in which the Greeks normally hold the people of this country.
– I rise to support the statement that is before the House. Since I have been a member of this Parliament, I have urged constantly that there should be wider exchange of men of the services with other countries. I believe this to be a step along those lines and consider that it should have the support of every thinking member of this House. On a personal plane, I am pleased that a friend of mine, Wing Commander Eaton, has been appointed to command the wing thai has been sent abroad. In- the interests of proper training, it is essential that air crews shall have an opportunity to get experience of a semi-operational type. Undoubtedly favorable conditions for that training will exist in the Middle East. I believe that the Government has done a wise thing in sending the airmen to the Middle East. As honorable members have rightly said, it is not particularly comforting that we have to act in this way at this time, but I believe that it should have the full support of the House.
.- I thank the Leader of the Opposition (Dr.
Evatt) for the generous approach that he has made to the problem that is being discussed. It is the approach that ] should have expected from one who took such a prominent part as he took in the formation of the United Nations ideals. His suggestions with reference to the training of United Nations personnel and, in particular, of the United Kingdom and Australian squadrons will be examined.I shall ask the Air Staff to do so and to decide whether the suggestion can be put into effect. I had intended to make a statement about the movement of No. ‘78 Wing, but the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) took the words out of my mouth and has not left mo much to say. I endorse whole-heartedly all his remarks about the Royal Australian Air Force.
The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Galwell) emphasized that something should be done for the empty north of Australia. I cannot agree with his suggestions. The strategy that is generally adopted by the defence forces of the Commonwealth is to keep our enemies as far from our. shores as we can. We have established a base on Cocos Island, we have an air force and a naval base on Manus Island, two squadrons in Malaya and a first-class airfield at Garbutt. It is not necessary to base forces at Darwin because various units can get all the operational training they need in the other areas I have mentioned, and can be moved to Darwin at short notice. I do not think that the honorable member’s fears are justified, or that his suggestion deserves very much consideration. It is highly improbable that Communist forces could send a fleet of aircraft against Australia at the present time, and for. many years to come. They should have to move much farther south before an attack by air could become a probability. There is a possibility, however, and we can guard against it. In the last six months the chiefs of staff have considered the problem and have forwarded their appreciation of it to the Government. Such problems change, as the honorable member for Melbourne has said they do, and I’ think that we are justified in claiming that within the course of the last six months they have changed to our benefit. I do not want to say too much about Malaya for security reasons, but we can claim that the position there has improved considerably. So also has the position in Australia indirectly.
Combined exercises are beingconducted to the limit of our ability. Some elements of the fleet are shortly to visit Manus Island and within the last few months largescale exercises have been carried out by the air force. A. squadron of bombers was engaged in extensive exercises which were perfectly executed, and met with the approval of the Chief of Staff. I appreciate the tone of this debate. In my opinion, defence should ‘be placed above party politics and I am pleased to note that party politics have not intruded in this instance.
Question resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Messages from the GovernorGeneral reported transmitting Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works and Other Services involving Capital Expenditure for the year ending the 30th June, 1953, and recommending appropriations accordingly.
Ordered to be printed, and referred to the Committee of Supply forthwith.
– My formal task tonight is to place before the House estimates of revenue and expenditure for the financial year 1952-53, and to explain the Government’s plans for financing its operations. It has now become traditional and with a budget totalling nearly £1,000,000,000, perhaps inevitable that the budget speech should deal also with the impact of the budget, and of the measures associated with it, on the progress and prosperity of the country.
I am presenting this budget much earlier than usual. There is ample reason even in normal times for the Government to present its financial plans to Parliament early in the financial year, and we hope that this practice may become the rule rather than the exception. At the present time it is more than usually important that the Parliament and the people should know without delay the financial course the Government intends to follow during the coming year. For these reasons special efforts have been made to expedite and shorten the usual budgetary processes, and Parliament has been called together for a budget session much earlier than would otherwise have been necessary.
Last year the Government budgeted for a surplus and to do so secured increases in taxation, both direct and indirect. Side by side with increased taxation, we maintained controls over capital issues and credit and took steps to encourage certain kinds of imports to make up deficiencies in local production. We did these things quite deliberately as counterinflationary measures, and for very good reasons. In the preceding financial year national income had risen by ?820,000,000 or 36 per cent. Wool prices had averaged 144d. per lb. Retail prices had risen by 19 per cent, and wholesale prices by 27 per cent. In much the same period the basic wage had risen by 37 per cent. Acute shortages of labour existed all over the country. The long-standing bottlenecks in coal, iron and steel, transport and power were becoming worse. Production was’ falling in vital industries, especially the rural industries.
Since the last budget dramatic changes have occurred in basic economic conditions. Wool prices fell to approximately half the level of the year before. Imports of every description flooded into the country so that, notwithstanding the drastic restrictions imposed in the later months of the trade year, the total landed cost of the imports brought into Australia was more than ?1,200,000,000. Our international reserves fell in consequence by. nearly ?500,000,000. In the earlier months of the year severe droughts and hush fires devastated large areas of the country. Later floods have taken their toll of rural production and added to its costs.
These factors in combination brought about a remarkable change in the economic scene. They threw many unexpected and heavy strains on the economy, but at the same time removed many elements in the wave of accidental prosperity which in 1950-51 bade fair to engulf us. They assisted also to lessen the extreme inflationary pressure from which we were suffering.
We can at this stage point to many signs that our basic position is far sounder than it was a year ago. For example, in the first six months of this year output of black coal was almost 20 per cent, greater than in the same period of 195.1. Output of basic steel products has increased substantially. Labour shortages have disappeared in most districts and industries, whilst most of the basic industries have gained more labour. The railways are now moving more goods traffic, the turn-round of ships at ports is faster and congestion at the wharves has eased. Few, if any, consumer goods are short to-day; competition is more active among traders and in some lines heavy stocks are held. All this has been accomplished without detriment to a rapidly expanding defence programme.
It is true that what is called “cost inflation “ continues. Under our closely geared industrial system, rising wages and costs tend to become self-propelling. Wage and price increases that occurred months ago produce wage and price increases to-day. It would, however, be idle and wrong for me to discuss here issues which, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Court, of Conciliation and Arbitration, and it could only prejudice the work of that court to promote an irrelevant and impotent political debate about them in this House.
We have with us other characteristic results of inflation. For one thing, inflation always discourages saving and the investment of savings in fixedinterestbearing securities, and so the loan market has become weak. It has become impossible to finance reasonable and necessary works programmes without recourse to sources other than the public loan market. To make matters worse, public works programmes have been so overoptimisticallly planned in the period of inflation that any contraction necessarily tends to produce a problem of transitional unemployment. Again, industries which expanded too rapidly now find that, with a levelling off in monetary demand, their products are increasingly hard to sell. The same is true of industries in which costs have risen faster and further than in other industries.
Building is probably the outstanding example of this difficulty. Such good progress was made with housing that the number of dwellings being completed passed the rate of 80,000 a year. At the same time, however, costs have been forced up inordinately so that the purchase of a home has risen beyond the reach of more and more people. As a result, there is a strong tendency for people to hold off purchasing homes in the hope that a reduction in costs will make it more financially practicable for thom to do so. In consequence the number of commencements of new houses began to fall. In the March quarter of this year some 18,800 new houses were commenced throughout Australia compared with 20,700 in the preceding quarter.
This fall in housing commencements has not been due to bank advance policy or to any diminution in the. provision of housing finance by Commonwealth authorities. Last year the Commonwealth Government and its agencies made available some £70,000,000 for housing finance. This year it will provide approximately £80,000,000.
Business in a number of directions has passed into a phase of slackness and uncertainty. This is not so much due to a deficiency of purchasing power, which still remains high and could, if financial errors were made, easily produce new inflationary pressures. Rather is it due to a general hesitation,” to a reluctance of people to buy at present prices when there is any prospect that prices may come down. The existence of large unsold stocks of imported goods in Australia, and the knowledge that the overseas prices of many of these goods have fallen, continue to produce a “holding off” on the part of consumers, and difficulties of finance for those holding the stocks. There is thus a mood of indecision as to whether investments should be made now or deferred for a period until the outlook clarifies.
These being the circumstances of the time, the Government has given much careful thought to the lines which the budget ought to follow on this occasion. Clearly, we have not the same compelling reason now that we had a year ago for seeking a large budget surplus. We did so then to reduce the pressure of excessive money demand upon a limited supply of goods. But national income in money terms, while it increased last year, did so only by 4 per cent, as compared with 36 per cent, in 1950-51. Meanwhile the supply of goods has been greatly increased by the flow of imports and also in some fields by increased local production. There are, indeed, signs that present demand for some types of goods is inadequate to absorb the supplies available and, in consequence, some unemployment has emerged here and there in the economy. We are thus not any longer dealing with facts like those of a year ago. There are very important differences. Unless these are understood, the structure of the budget proposals I am about to unfold may not be clearly seen.
A year ago there were 139,000 vacancies for jobs registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service, and no more than a few hundreds of people drawing unemployment relief, almost all of them for special and temporary local reasons. To-day the registered vacancies have fallen to 32,000 and, while unemployment is still sporadic and, I believe, transitional, the number of people on relief has risen to something over 12,000.
A year ago the monetary situation was radically different. The amount of special deposits then held by the trading banks with the Commonwealth Bank stood at a total of £526,000,000. To-day the total is only £195,000,000, the amount released by the central bank during the year having been no less than £331,000,000.
A year ago we had just concluded a year of record wool prices, which had seen an addition of £380,000,000 to our export income, with far-reaching consequences. To-day we have had experience of a year of sharply reduced wool prices, with a reduction in the wool cheque: of no less than £300,000,000.
A year ago relatively few people were disposed to look ahead, to guard against economic dangers, to encourage steps to steady down the inflationary boom. Today, there are hundreds of thousands who have become apprehensive of the future.
Even more important still is the great change of attitude on the part of business nien. A year ago many believed that monetary demand for goods would go on increasing at a tremendous rate so that ready markets would be found for almost anything that -could be produced or imported from abroad, and large and easy profits made in the process. A very different outlook prevails to-day and there is in some quarters a good deal of fear about the economic future. I believe it to be basically unfounded, but the fact that it exists is something we - cannot ignore. Psychology i9 enormously important in economic affairs and can never be safely disregarded.
Looking back on the past year the Government is convinced that the counterinflationary financial measures taken in, and in conjunction with, last year’s budget were broadly correct and well justified. For example, we increased taxes to produce £160,000,000 of additional revenue, intended as a means of securing a large counter-inflationary surplus. It was doubly fortunate that we did, for in the event the State works programmes, which we had underwritten to ensure the continued progress of essential projects, actually cost us, out of Commonwealth resources, substantially the equivalent of our increased tax revenue. I -pause here to mention the rather ironical fact that, though in the economic sense we were acting entirely correctly in the national interest, politically we made the worst of both worlds. For our increased taxes, levied, as it turned out, exclusively on behalf of the. States, earned us much criticism. But some of the larger States, so far from acknowledging the value of our immense and timely aid, have clone little but complain that we did not do more.
After studying the situation ex.’haustively and weighing all the factors to which I have referred, the Government has decided, to base its budget foi’ 1952-53 on the following broad considerations : -
First. - There is still inflation in the sense that prices and costs are rising, even though this is partly a delayed effect of price and cost movements which took place some time ago. There has also been some loss of business confidence leading to hesitancy about investment, and some transitional and sectional unemployment has appeared. We are, therefore, making certain adjustments and proposing certain reductions in taxation which will serve as an incentive to investors and business men and to the community at large, We are making these reductions, as the figures will show, to the very limit of our budgetary capacity. We arc not, however, proposing to go into deficit to make them, for to do so would be to prejudice economic stability.
Second. - We do not on this occasion intend to finance State works out of Commonwealth revenues. Indeed, if the state of the loan market and the willingness of the people to save and invest would permit us to do so, we would have justification for financing pui” own Common-: wealth capital works from loan sources and not from the’ proceeds of taxation. These Commonwealth works and services themselves exceed £100,000,000 .in this financial year. It is not practicable to apply this principle at present, but by the same token we can no longer agree that the large and costly works programmes of the State governments shall be charged against the current revenues of the Commonwealth.
Third. - We consider it justifiable, in the light of the change in economic conditions as compared with a year ago and the emergence of some signs of unemployment, that loan raisings for essential works of a truly developmental and productive kind should receive some special assistance from bank credit.
To state the matter in another way, we intend to reduce taxation as far as the Commonwealth budgetary position makes possible, but we are not going into deficit for the purpose of reducing taxes.
The shortfall in terms of cash will be outside, the budget and will relate solely to the needs of State programmes which ave under State control. Im brief, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, we will (his year meet all the Commonwealth expenditure, including our own capital works and services, out of the revenue of the year, after making the substantial tax adjustments to which I shall shortly refer. This means that in this budget we have endeavoured, and I. believe successfully, to reconcile prudence and responsibility with encouragement to enterprise and a checking of certain recessive tendencies in business and employment which, if left to themselves, might cause much damage.
Expenditure Estimates.. 1952-53. [ said just now that the Government proposed to make tax reductions up to the limit of its budgetary capacity, and I shall now take up the question of what capacity we have on the basis of current estimates of revenue and expenditure. Details of these are contained in statement0. Nos. 3 ‘ and 4 attached to this speech… The financial results for 1951-52 are shown in statement No. 1. With the consent of honorable members I shall incorporate these and other relevant statements in Hansard.
Preparation of the defence estimates naturally could not be completed until the defence programme as a whole had been reviewed in the light of. discussions held by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) during his visit overseas. It has now been decided to provide a total amount of £200,000,000 for defence expenditure in 1952-53, compared with actual expenditure of £169,500,000 last year. Allocation of this amount is now being considered by the defence authorities and detailed estimates will be placed before the House at n later stage.
Total payments to the States are estimated at £177,S00,000 this year compared with £160,900,000 in 1951-52. The main reason for the increase of £16,900,000 in this item is to be found, in the combined total of the tax reimbursement grant and the special financial assistance grant which it is proposed to pay to tha States. As determined under the formula embodied in existing legislation, the tas reimbursement grant would amount to about £108,800,000. Since this would not meet the needs of the -States - it would in fact be £11,000,000 less than the total of the two grants made last year1 - the Government decided after discussion with the Premiers to make a special financial assistance grant of £27,100,000. Legislation to authorize this grant will be brought down later. As the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission has not yet been received, the amount included in the Estimates for special grants to South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania this year is loft at a sum equal to the grants paid in 1951-52.
Capital works and services estimates have been rigorously pruned to ensure that only the most essential works and services will be provided for, and the amount of £106,600,000 included in the estimates is £4,000,000 less than actual expenditure last year. Taking higher costs into account, this represents a substantial reduction, in the volume of works activity. Within the total estimates, £28,300,000 is provided for post office and broadcasting works, compared with £29,100,000 spent last year, £28,000,000 for war service homes compared with £27,600,000 spent last year,. £13,600,000 for the Snowy Mountains Authority, compared with £10,400,000 last year, and £6,700,000 for civil aviation works compared with £6,400,000 last year. Expenditure on immigration works is estimated at- £4,500,000 less than last year.
The decision to reduce the intake of migrants has enabled Immigration Department estimates of miscellaneous services expenditure for this year to be reduced some £1,500,000 below expenditure in 1951-52. Further savings will become possible at a later stage.
Subsidies ‘ are estimated to cost £28,400,000 this year, which is £3,000,000 less than expenditure iri 1951-52. Only small payments of woollen goods bounty, on which £2,300,000 was spent last year, will have to be made in 1952-53. The subsidy on wheat for stock feed is, however, expected to cost £2,600,000 more this year.
Estimated expenditure of the po3t office shows an increase of nearly £9,700,000 over last year. This is mainly attributable to higher wages, salaries and general costs. Expenditure by the railways and the broadcasting services is estimated to increase in each case by £400,000, also because of higher costs.
Departmental expenditure is estimated for this year at £48,400,000 which is. £6,000,000 above 1951-52. Within this category, civil aviation expenditure is expected to increase by £1,000,000 mainly because of higher mail payments and increasing costs of providing airport and airways services. Otherwise, the higher departmental estimate is chiefly a matter of increased wages and salaries and general costs.
With regard to repatriation benefits, it is proposed to increase “general rate” war pensions and the war pensions payable to the wives and children of incapacitated ex-servicemen and the children of deceased ex-servicemen.
The increases proposed are 10s. a week in the full “general rate” war pensions; 5s. and 2s. 3d. a week in pensions for the wife and each child, respectively, of a “ special rate “ or full “ general rate “ pensioner; and 4s. 6d. and 3s. a week in the pensions for the first child and each later child, respectively, of a deceased ex-serviceman, except where the child’s mother is also deceased when the increase will be 8s. a week. “ General rate “ pensioners not receiving the full pension and their dependants will receive proportionate increases.
Service pensions are al~.o to be increased by amounts up to 7s. 6d. a week for an unmarried pensioner an’! up to 12s. 6d. a week for a married pensioner.
Other proposals include increases in the education allowances payable under the soldiers’ children’s education scheme to certain children of deceased and totally and permanently incapacitated or blinded ex-servicemen, and the payment of an education allowance from age twelve instead of thirteen years ; an increase of £1 10s. a week in the living allowance payable under the Commonwealth reconstruction and related training schemes and the war service land settlement scheme, and in the maximum rates of re-establishment allowances for exservicemen engaged in farming and other occupations.
Increased pensions and allowances will be payable from the date of the first war pension pay-day after the necessary amending legislation is passed.
The total additional expenditure involved in these various proposals is estimated at £3,200,000 in a full year and £2,400,000 in 1952-53.
It is proposed to increase by amounts not exceeding 7s. 6d. a week age and invalid pensions and the pensions payable to widows who have one or more children. The pensions payable to other classes of widows and the allowance payable to the wife of an invalid pensioner will also be increased. The increases will become payable on the first pension pay-day after the necessary amending legislation is passed.
It is also proposed to pay free of means test to qualified blind persons the first £3 of the invalid pension, and to repeal the provisions which disqualify a person aged between 16 and 21 years for invalid pension if his parents are able adequately to maintain him. .
Further, it is proposed to increase the allowances payable to persons suffering from tuberculosis by 10s. a week for a sufferer who is unmarried and by 15s. a week for a man and wife.
Unemployment and sickness benefit rates for a single person and for a man and wife will be doubled.
The details of these proposals are set out in Statement No. 6 on the National Welfare Fund Estimates 1952-53. It is estimated that they will cost £11,100,000 in a full year and £8,300,000 in 1952-53.
During the financial year the medical benefits scheme will come into operation.
This scheme provides for the payment of subsidies in respect of medical treatment to members of organizations registered under the scheme. The main condition applying to the payment of this subsidy is that the organization will match the subsidy, and the total benefit thus paid to the member of the organization in respect of his medical expenses will cover the major part of the doctor’s account. This scheme is estimated to cost £750,000 this year and about £7,500,000 a year when fully established.
The living allowances payable under the Commonwealth scholarship scheme arc to be increased by amounts up to 7s. 6d. a week for students living at home and 10s. a week for students living away from home. The increase will take effect from the 1st January, 1953.
From that date also, it is proposed to ease the means test attached to these living allowances. Under the proposal, except where full living allowances are already payable, the living allowances otherwise payable will be further increased by amounts up to £30 a year or a pproximately11s. 6d. a week.
The additional cost is estimated at £55,000 in a full year and £27,000 in 1952-53.
It is proposed to amend the relevant legislation to provide that the amount to be appropriated to the National Welfare Fund in this and subsequent years shall be equal to expenditure from the fund. Under present arrangements the annual appropriation to the fund is related to variations in collections of pay-roll tax. Whilst this has so far had the result that payments to the fund have been greater than expenditure from it this mainly because of the steep rise during recent years in wage and salary earnings in respect of which pay-roll tax is levied it could obviously cause the fund to run down if the rise in earnings slowed down while expenditure from the fund continued to increase.
The proposed arrangement will have the advantages that annual expenditure on social service benefits will be fully covered by the annual appropriation and the amount of that expenditure will be accurately reflected each year in the budget. Meanwhile the position of the fund will be fully protected. At the 30th June last, the balance in the fund stood at £185,000,000. At that figure it provides a most ample reserve and safeguard for the continued payment of social service benefits, which was the purpose for which it was originally established.
The total expenditure from the fund this year is estimated at £164,179,000 and that is the amount for which provision is made in the Estimates.
Bringing the above proposals into account, total expenditure for 1952-53 is estimated at £959,430,000. The comparable figure for expenditure last year was £903,900,000, so that there is an estimated increase of £55,530,000. I may point out that the greater part of this increase is accounted for by the increased estimates for defence services and payments to the States which amount to approximately £30,500,000 and £16,900,000 respectively.
On the basis of taxation rates as they stand, it is estimated that total revenue in 1952-53 would reach £1,009,460,000. Individual items in the estimates are explained in Statement No. 3 attached.
If revenue remained at £1,009,460,000 and expenditure at £959,430,000, there would be a surplus of approximately £50,000,000 for the year. In the view of the Government this represents the extent to which reductions in taxation can safely be given. I shall now explain the tax reductions which the Government proposes to make.
The special levy of 10 per cent, of income tax and social services contribution imposed on individual taxpayers last year will not be re-imposed this year.
The value to taxpayers of the discontinuance of the special levy will be about £36,500,000 in a full assessment year and £23,000,000 in this financial year.
Because new deduction scales have to be prepared and distributed to employers, the lower instalment deductions from salary and wage earners will not commence until the 1st October next.
Comparative tables are being circulated showing the tax and contribution payable onselected incomes at present and proposed rates. Tables are also being circulated comparing the levels of income taxation in Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
A reduction of 2s. is proposed in the rate of tax on the first £5,000 of taxable income derived by public companies. The rate at which tax will be payable on incomes of public companies for the year ended the 30th June, 1952, including the levy of 2s. in the £1 imposed last year, will accordingly be - 7s. in the £1 on the first £5,000 of taxable income, and 9s. in the £1 on the balance of taxable income.
The 2s. reduction in the rate on the first £5,000 of taxable income will afford some relief to all public companies and will be of special assistance to those companies in the lower profit earning ranges.
The cost to revenue of this reduction is estimated to be £1,500,000 in a full assessment year and £1,100,000 in the current financial year 1952-53.
Advance Payments by Companies.
The system of advance payments by companies instituted last yearwill be discontinued. This means that in the current financial year companies will not be required to make any advance payments based upon the income of the year ended the 30th June, 1952. The advance payments imposed in respect of the income of the year 1950-51 will be credited against company tax assessable during the current financial year.
The cost to revenue in the current financial year is estimated at £14,000,000.
The primary rates of tax imposed last year on the 1950-51 taxable incomes of private companies were 5s. in the £1 on the first £5,000 of taxable income and 7s. in the £1 on the balance of taxable income. These rates are being retained this year’ for application to the 1951-52 taxable incomes of private companies, but these companies will benefit substantially in not being required to make an advance payment this year and from increases in the amounts which may be retained free from undistributed income tax as I shallnow explain.
For many years the basis of taxation of the undistributed income of private companies has been the subject of controversy both as to the weight of the tax and the complications of the system.
At present a private company may retain portion of its distributable income without incurring undistributed income tax on the amount so retained. This amount, called the “ retention allowance “, ranges from 50 per cent, of the first £1,000 of distributable income down to 10 per cent, of the excess of the distributable income over £10,000.
Commencing with the income year 1951-52, the Government proposes to increase the minimum retention allowance to 25 per cent. Where the present retention allowance exceeds 25 per cent, the greater amount will still apply.
The new scale will be as follows : -
The new scale of retention allowances should enable all private companies to plough back the necessary reserves for the proper conduct of their businesses, and at the same time to effect sufficient distributions of profits to shareholders to avoid undistributed income tax. Where, however, a private company chooses to retain profits in excess of the retention allowance, undistributed income tax will be payable.
Past experience has amply demonstrated the need for simplification of the method by which this undistributed income tax is assessed. The complexities and delays of the system mainly arise from taxation of undistributed income ait the shareholders’ graduated rates. Troubles have arisen also because of the inability of companies to check the accuracy of the assessments made. In addition!,, serious complications have been encountered, in ascertaining whether, for purposes: of rebate, the profits so taxed were subsequently distributed.
Acting upon a recommendation of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation, the Government proposes that the undistributed’ income tax shall, in future^ be levied at a flat rate instead of the shareholders’ graduated rates of tax. The flat rate now proposed is lGs. in the fi.
Having in mind the greatly increased retention allowances which will be allowable to private companies, and upon which only the primary rate will be payable so long as they remain undistributed, it is not proposed to provide any rebate of the flat rate tax chargeable on distributable profits over and above the permitted retention allowances.
The basic reasons foi: this proposal are that a company which so retains profits is assumed to be retaining those profits permanently in the capital structure of the company and that they will not be distinguishable, from other retained profits in any subsequent distribution.
There will be no obligation, on private companies to incur undistributed income tax even although they may find it necessary to utilize profits in excess of the retention allowances. As the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation has pointed out, these companies will be able in most, if not all, cases to arrange for shareholders, after paying their taxes, to re-invest the balance of the dividends with the companies.
The plan proposed, it is thought, will provide a simple and stable system for the levying of tax on. the undistributed income of private companies. Whilst providing full equity for private companies, it will prevent the delays now so prevalent in ascertaining full liability on any year’s profits and will provide a welcome simplicity enabling companies to ascertain their liabilities at the earliest date.
Because of increasing costs of education, representations have been received from a wide cross-section of the community for some relief on account of expenditure incurred by parents in educating families.
It is proposed accordingly to allow parents a concessional deduction for education expenses incurred up to a maximum of £50 for each dependent child under 21 years receiving full-time education.
This concession will, commence to apply on and from 1st July, 1952, at an annual cost to revenue of approximately £1,500,000. There will, however, be no cost to revenue in the current financial year 19&2-53.
The Government, has examined’ the effects of income tax on amounts) paid and received for the acquisition and disposal of goodwill attached to leasehold business premises.
These amounts have in the past been treated as income: of the recipients because in many eases they amounted to nothing more than rent paid in advance. Correspondingly, payments, have been allowed as deductions for the reason that the value of the payments is exhausted at the termination- of the lease.
In recent years, strong protests have been made against the practice, on the ground that the tax is a levy on capital. There is little doubt that in a great number of cases there is substance in these protests.
The matter has been considered by the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation which has recommended that amounts paid for goodwill so described should be treated as taxable income on the one hand and allowable deductions on the other only if the vendor and purchaser so agree and notify the Commissioner of Taxation to that effect. In other words, it is intended to let the tax consequences follow the stated conclusions of the negotiating parties.
It is intended that the altered law should commence to apply to transactions made after the 31st December, 1952. This will enable the parties to leasehold transactions and their advisers to familiarise themselves with the altered law prior to its operation.
Sporting Clubs and Other Non-profit Associations.
The Government proposes to exempt from income tax the income derived by football, cricket, tennis and other clubs which are concerned in the promotion of sport in which only human beings participate.
Such organizations which are not carried on for the profit of individuals will in this regard be on the same footing as musical, artistic, scientific and literary societies, the incomes of which are already exempt from tax.
It is proposed also that other nonprofit organizations, such as lodges and social clubs, shall not be liable for income tax unless the income exceeds £104 in the year.
These exemptions will commence to apply to 1951-52 incomes, at an annual cost to revenue of £20,000.
At present an employer is allowed a deduction of contributions made to funds for the individual personal benefit of employees and their dependants.
In the first instance, however, the annual deduction is limited to £100 or 5 per cent, of the annual remuneration of the employee, whichever is the greater. In those cases where the contribution exceeds this limit, the Commissioner is authorized to allow a greater deduction if there are special circumstances warranting the increased allowance.
Adopting a further recommendation by the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation, it is proposed to increase the limit from £100 to £200. This increase is in consonance with the increase made in recent years from £100 to £200 in the concessional deduction allowable to taxpayers for life assurance, contributions to superannuation funds and comparable payments.
It is proposed also to exempt from tax the income derived by funds established for the purpose of providing retirement benefits for self -employed persons. This exemption will correspond with the exemption already provided for employees’ pension funds.
The new provisions will operate on and from the 1st July, 1952.
Last year the Government introduced allowances which exempted men over 65 years and women over 60 years of age if the income did not exceed £234. In the case of married couples this exemption applied if their combined incomes did not exceed £468. These allowances coincided with the limits of the maximum permissible incomes for purposes of Commonwealth age pensions.
As already announced, it is proposed to increase age pensions by 7s. 6d. a week. In consonance with this increase, exemptions are being increased by £20 to £254 in the case of single persons and by £39 to £507 in the case of married couples.
The increase in this exemption will apply to incomes of the current year 1952-53.
Ever since the inception of Commonwealth income tax, the law has contained a provision which requires tax to be paid only on 5 per cent, of lump sum retiring allowances paid to persons in consequence of their retirement from an office or employment.
Until recently this provision has encouraged employers to reward their employees for faithful service and has prevented that reward from being unduly encroached upon by full taxation of the retiring allowances aggregated with other income of the year.
Unfortunately, in recent years evidence has accumulated that this concession has been abused.
It is proposed to remedy the technical defects of the present law to ensure that the concession shall apply only to those lump-sum receipts which are genuine retiring allowances and which are reasonable in amount having regard to the value of the services and the length of the employment.
The altered provisions will commence to apply in assessments based on income of the current year 1952-53.
The Government has also examined the position of transactions in trading stock, including live-stock. The broad principle on which those provisions are based is that, on a disposal of. trading stock, its value should be taxed in the hands of the person or persons disposing of the stock and, correspondingly, allowed as a deduction to the person or persons acquiring the stock.
Recent decisions of courts and boards of review have disclosed that the existing provisions do not give full and proper effect to that basic principle. As a result, the provisions operate inequitably in regard to some cases of disposals of trading stock outside the normal course of business. It is proposed to introduce amending legislation to remove these anomalies.
One proposal is that, where trading stock is disposed of by way of gift, the donee should be entitled to the same deduction as a purchaser, and the donor should be taxed in the same manner as a seller of that stock. This provision will commence to apply to gifts of trading stock made in the current year 1952-53.
The position in regard also to partnership transactions involving trading stock will be clarified. One view previously held was that the transfer of interests in partnership assets, including trading stock, was a constructive sale. In accordance with this view, partners have been taxed on the market value of stock even though there has not been a realized profit out of which the tax could be paid.
It is proposed that partners should be given an opportunity of electing, if all the parties unanimously agree, whether tax should be payable on the profit deemed to arise from a transfer of interests in trading stock or whether the tax liability should be deferred until the stock is actually sold. The proposed legislation will be made retrospective to 1st July, 1950, so that partners who have been taxed on profits deemed to have arisen from transfers since that date may elect, upon unanimous agreement, to have their assessments amended on the alternative basis now proposed.
It is proposed to make substantial reductions in the rates of sales tax payable on certain classes of goods. The maximum rate of tax will be reduced from 66§ per cent, to 50 per cent., and goods now subject to the maximum fate will benefit accordingly. Toilet and cosmetic preparations and toilet requisites, which have hitherto borne tax at the rate of 50 per cent., will in future be taxed at the rate of 33$ per cent. The tax on sporting equipment and toys and radio receiving sets will be reduced from 33$ per cent, to 20 per cent. Reductions are also proposed on numerous other clases of goods. The rate of 25 per cent, will be eliminated. The number of rates of tax in operation will be reduced from six to four, namely, 12i per cent., 20 per cent., 33$ per cent, and 50 per cent. This should afford some relief to those engaged in commerce.
Certain further exemptions are also proposed. The most important of these is the. allowance of full exemption from sales tax in respect of goods for use by universities and schools which are not conducted for profit. Hitherto such’ institutions, other than government schools, have enjoyed only a limited exemption of scientific equipment and goods for use for the purpose of tuition. They will now he entitled to exemption of such goods as sporting equipment and general furnishings. The allowance of full exemption is in line with the Government’s general policy to assist education.
The opportunity is also being taken to remove a number of anomalies arising out of the existing classifications of goods for sales tax purposes.
In terms of revenue, the concessions proposed involve an estimated loss of £6,000,000 in a full year or approximately £5,200,000 in the financial year 1952-53. Specific details of the changes proposed will be given in legislation to be introduced later. The new rates will come into force as from the commencement of business to-morrow, 7th August, 1952.
Land tax was introduced in 1910, with the avowed purpose of breaking up large rural estates that were not being used to their full commercial advantage.
The truth to-day is that by far the greatest proportion of the tax is levied on city land which is already fully developed and which could not he subdivided even were the owners willing to do so,
The ‘Government accordingly proposes to vacate the land tax field on and from the 1st July, 1952. The cost to revenue in this financial year is estimated at £6,256,000.
All told, the value to taxpayers of the tax concessions just outlined is estimated to amount to a total of £49,570,000 in the current financial year.
Bringing into account the revenue and expenditure proposals I have outlined, the budget for 1952-53 may he summarized as follows : -
Details of loan transactions and public debt, 1951-52 and loan fund transactions 1952-53 are contained in statements Nos. 2 and 5 respectively.
Commonwealth Finance fob States.
Events of the past year have brought acutely to a head the entire problem of Commonwealth-State financial relationships. A fundamental change in prevailing arrangements is obviously necessary. Last year the Commonwealth provided for the States no less than £314,000,000 and by far the greater part of this had to be provided from revenue. This year it will again have to find for the States at least as much as last year, and it should be pointed out that all but a minor part of this enormous sum will be spent on purposes for which the Commonwealth has no direct responsibility and over which it has no administrative control. Clearly the position is radically unsound. The Commonwealth lias to raise enormous sums of money for expenditure outside its own constitutional field; the States meanwhile spend vast sums .for the raising of which they, as governments, have no responsibility whatever.
The Government, therefore, regards a recasting of these arrangements as imperative and as a first step it has informed the States that it is prepared to put them in the position again to raise revenues for their own purposes from income taxation. From time to time all the States have stated that they desire income-taxing powers to be returned to them and it now becomes a matter of working out a basis for arrangements under which the major source of revenues can be shared between the Commonwealth and State governments. It will of course be -one of our objects to avoid documentary duplication and provide the utmost simplicity for the taxpayer.
The Government will take an early opportunity during the present session to amend the legislation which regulates the relations between the Commonwealth Bank and the trading banks. It .also proposes to review the legislation which determines the relationship between, the central banking activities of the Commonwealth Bank .and its trading sections. While there are many minor respects in which alterations to the Commonwealth Bank Act 1945-1951 .and the Banking Act 1945 are long overdue, the main objects of the proposed amendments will be to remedy certain dangers inherent in the current provisions relating to the special account system, and to ensure that the trading activities of the Commonwealth Bank do not involve unfair competition with the trading banks.
The development of adverse conditions in the loan market^ due principally to the inflationary forces operating in the economy, has made it impossible for governments to borrow at the comparatively low rates of interest which prevailed during the war and post-war years. All governments, whether Commonwealth or
State, are naturally reluctant to pay increased rates of interest but the trend towards higher rates is world wide, and in their borrowing operations governments must recognize the realities of the market situation.
The Commonwealth Bank recently reviewed rates of interest in the light of increases in the coupon rates and market yields on governmental and semigovernmental securities in Australia and also of the rise in rates of interest in London. In the result, as already announced, the order made by the Commonwealth Bank under the National Security (Economic Organization) Regulations fixing maximum rates of interest for bank advances and a number of other commercial lending operations has, with the approval of the Governin cut, been revoked.
In current circumstances the Commonwealth Bank does not wish to take further action to fix maximum rates. The trading banks have, however, agreed to observe 5 per cent, per annum as the maximum overdraft rate and not to pay on fixed deposits of various terms more than the rates announced by the Commonwealth Bank. The previous maximum hank overdraft rate was 4£ per cent, pui’ an num.
In harmony with this rise in overdraft and fixed deposit rates, it has been decided to increase the rate at which the Commonwealth Bank discounts treasury-bills for the Government from £ per cent, to 1 per cent, per annum. Similarly, the interest which the Commonwealth Bank pays to the trading banks in respect of the moneys which they hold in special account at the Commonwealth Bank has been raised from 10s. per cent, to 15s. per cent, per annum.
The Commonwealth Savings Bank has also made an all round increase of 5s. per cent, in the rates of interest on deposits. As from 1st August thi! Commonwealth Savings Bank will pay 2£ per cent, per annum up to £500 and 1 j per cent, per annum on £501 to £1.000.
During 1951-52, Australia’s international currency reserves fell from fiS4fl.000.000 to ‘.£362,000,000- a drop of no less than £481,000,000.
A drain of this magnitude on our external reserves in a single year is quite without parallel in previous experience What is more remarkable is that it should have taken place in a year when seasonal conditions were relatively good and when wool prices, although reduced from the extraordinarly high levels of 1950-51, were nevertheless higher than for any other period before that record year.
Although this fall in wool prices wy.* of course, a major ‘element in the se vert balance of payments problem which developed at the end of 1951, the main cause of this problem lay on the import side. Beginning with the middle of 1950-51. the monthly rate of imports began to rise steeply and, by the middle of February, it was clear that, unless restrained, total imports for 1951-52 were likely to be of the order of £1,100,000.000 f.o.b. or more than £1,200,000,000 when payments for freight and insurance were included. This would have meant that by the 30th June last our international reserves would have been well below £300,000,000 and we would ‘ have now been facing the possibility of their being virtually exhausted by the end of 1952.
In such circumstances, the case for placing some check on imports was unanswerable and the Government therefore took appropriate action in that field. However, even with the import reductions announced on the Sth March, the total value of imports into Australia during 1951-52 was £1,050,000,000 f.o.b. or, adding freight and insurance, £1,197,000,000, thus giving an adverse balance of trade for the year of £530,000,000, and, when all other external transactions for the year were brought into account, a balance of payments deficit of £481,000,000.
Obviously, the international currency reserves of £362,000,000 we have been able to maintain are none too large for our requirements when we know from experience how violent the fluctuations in our overseas trade can be, and we simply cannot contemplate allowing them to fall below the present level for any length of time. For the present this means that at the very most we cannot afford to spend on imports more than we obtain from exports and the proceeds of overseas borrowing or private investment in Australia.
I am able to say, however, that the import restrictions announced on the8th March are now beginning to become fully effective and, although future developments will need to be closely watched, the immediate problem has been successfully brought under control. Nevertheless, to make our position really safe the level of our international currency reserves ought to be a good deal higher and we must spare no effort to build them up as and when we can. In fact, our longerterm aim must be to rebuild the reserves to a level adequate to meet the wide swings to which, as last year’s experience has dramatically shown us, the Australian economy is so peculiarly subject.
A further objective must be to reduce our deficit with the countries of the dollar area. In this direction we are making our contribution towards maintaining the gold and dollar reserves of the sterling area, both by the stringent measures we have adopted to cut down dollar expenditures and by renewed efforts to increase our dollar earnings from exports. In addition we have, as already announced, arranged to make a temporary drawing of 30,000,000 dollars, from the International Monetary Fund, and have concluded a new 50,000,000 dollar Loan Agreement with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which will help to finance the import of dollar capital goods for the development of our primary and secondary industries.
The whole dollarsterling situation will, of course, be considered at the Commonwealth economic conference which is planned to take place in London next November.
Democracy and free enterprise in. the modern world tread a precarious path between the twin evils of inflation and unemployment. In Australia we have had experience of both within the past twenty years. We are, perhaps, the more prone to swing one way or the other because we are a young country with a strong urge to progress, and also because we are so much exposed through the nature of our trade to the impact of world conditions. To find and keep a midway path throws a heavy responsibility upon governments. There can be no more difficult problem than to halt, as we have tried to do, a longcontinued and violent inflation and yet in so doing to avoid an unwanted downturn in economic activity. For it is characteristic of inflation that the longer it goes on and the stronger it grows, the more its features become the accustomed and accepted conditions of economic life. Plans and commitments are built upon the belief that prices will continue to rise and scarcities to persist. When these conditions are brought or come to an end, as they must some time, expectations are falsified, plans go wrong and losses are incurred. Left to run its course, inflation will inevitably bring its own drastic solution in bankruptcies and mass unemployment. It is the task of economic policy so to adjust conditions that neither inflation itself nor the reaction from it will run to extremes.
But responsibility for a stable course in economic affairs does not rest wholly, nor perhaps even mainly, with governments. After all, the springs of action in an economy such as ours lie principally with business firms and individuals, and so it is principally business firms and individuals who will determine whether there is to be inflation, recession or stability. The Government can influence the broad context within which private enterprise works, but in Australia at least it cannot and should not try to do more than that.
Last year with inflation at a dangerous pitch, the Government acted with determination to restore balance between demand and supply. Later, as the situation changed, we adapted and modified our measures to new circumstances. We are further modifying them in this budget according to our judgment of what the situation requires. But, because of the dangers that remain, we are certainly not going to throw them entirely overboard.
I hear talk of depression ; such talk is dangerous nonsense. With export prices high, with the seasons good, with great, defence programmes and works programmes going on, with our population increasing rapidly, with the worst industrial bottlenecks broken, with taxation lower than in any comparable country, it is clear that the broad conditions have never been more favorable for enterprise.
At least that is true of the material conditions. It may be that it is confidence and faith we need. If that be so, let us look once again across the face of our country.
Notes on Revenue and Expenditure 1951-52.
In the 1051-52 budget, revenue (excluding self-balancing items) was estimated at £1,041,404,000. Expenditure from Consolidated Revenue was estimated at £926,872,000, thus leaving an estimated surplus of revenue over expenditure of £114,532,000. It was provided that this amount would be transferred to the National Debt Sinking Fund thus balancing the Consolidated Revenue Fund in 1951-52.
Actual revenue for theyear proved to be £ 1, 002,395,000, which was £.39,009,000 less than the budget estimate. Excluding the transfer to the National Debt Sinking Fund, actual expenditure amounted to £903,895,000 or £22,977,000 less than the budget estimate. The surplus available for transfer to the National Debt Sinking Fund in 1951-52 therefore amounted to £98,500,000. After effecting this transfer, the Consolidated Revenue Fund was balanced in 1951-52.
Although customs revenue and income tax collections from companies exceeded the estimates by £9,936,000 and £15,809,000 respectively, total revenue fell short of the budget estimate by £39,009,000. The main decreases as compared with the estimates were sales tax (£21,541,000). income tax on individuals (£32,806,000), wool deduction (£5,537,000), pay-roll tax (£2.830,000) and post office revenue (£3,129,000).
Despite a decline in the rate of imports in the latter months of 1 951 -52 the value of imports reacheda record level in that year. Correspondingly there was a record collection of customs revenue. The main imports which contributed to the excess of £9.930,000 over the budget estimate were textiles, metals and machinery, tobacco and cigarettes. Collections of income tax from companiess reflected the record level of company incomes in 1950-51 and exceeded the estimate by £15,809,000.
The shortfall of £21,541,000 in sales tax revenue was due mainly to a slackening in consumer demand. This slackening in demand was particularly marked in relation to less essential types of goods which carry high rates of sales tax. Income tax collections from individuals fell short of the estimate by £32,806,000 principally because of the deferment of provisional taxation to meet the position of woolgrowers affected by the fall in wool prices in 195.1-52 and by bush fire and drought losses. Revenue from wool deduction was £5,537,000 less than estimated. Revenue from this source represented carryover paymentsfrom the 1950-51 wool season. Pay-roll tax collections fell somewhat short of the estimate as the rise in earnings tended to flatten out in’ the latter part of the year. Post office revenue was a fleeted by some slackening in demand for postal and telephone services.
Excluding the transfer of £98,500,000 to the National Debt SinkingFund, expenditure from Consolidated Revenue in, 1951-52 amounted to. £903,895,000 or £22,977,000 less than the budget estimate.
The main savings as compared with the 1951.-52, expenditure estimates were in respect of-
Provision was made in the 1951-52 budget for the transfer of £32,500,000 from Consolidated Revenue to the strategic stores and equipment reserve. Expenditure from the reserve during 1951-52 was less than anticipated and amounted to £7,866,000. An amount of £10,049,000 was transferred to the reserve from Consolidated Revenue in 1951-52 to cover this expenditure and certain outstanding commitments. The saving as compared with the. Budget estimate therefore amounted to £22,451,000.
The statutory appropriation to the National Welfare Fund was £13,070,000 less than estimated because pay-roll tax collections (on which the appropriation is based) fell short of the Budget estimate.
Expenditure on miscellaneous services was £5,743,000 less than estimated principally because of a saving of about £5,000,000 in expenditure on international relief. Some countries did not seek assistance under the Colombo plan during 1951-52 whilst difficulties of procurement delayed the supply of materials to Pakistan. There was a saving of £500,000 in expenditure on the Korean civil relief programme which could not come into operation because of the continuance of hostilities.
Expenditure on bounties and subsidies fell short of the estimate by£1,505,000. Expenditure on the coal subsidy was £3,091,000 less than the estimate because imports of coal were lower than was anticipated. Largely because of a fall in overseas tea prices, the tea subsidy was £2,173,000 less than estimated. On the other hand, no provision had been made in the budget estimates for the bounty on stock -feed wheat which cost £2,368,000 during 1951-52 while the subsidies on dairy products cost approximately £1,000,000 more than estimated. The subsidy on nitrogenous fertilizers was also about £1,000,000 more than estimated, but a large part of this amount is recoverable.
The main increases in expenditure as compared with the budget estimates related to -
Excluding the transfer to the strategic stores and equipment reserve, expenditure on defence services exceeded the estimate by £10,243,000. Deliveries of defence equipment were more rapid than expected whilst expenditureon pay and allowances of the forces was also higher than estimated.
Expenditure on capital works and services was £8,972,000 higher than estimated.. Expenditure on jute and jute products accounted for £4.772,000 of the increase but it is expected that most of this expenditure will be recovered in the current financial year. Other capital items which exceeded the budget estimates included War Service Homes (increase of £2,590,000)and expenditure by the Snowy Mountains Authority which exceeded the estimate by £1,393.000. A number of other items of capital works and services exceeded the estimates because of’ increased costs not provided for in the budget.
Departmental expenditure exceeded the estimate by £2,087,000 mainly because of increases in wages, salaries and costs of materials.
These factors also affected many other items of expenditure, which recorded small increases over the budget estimates.
As the foregoing table shows, three public loans were raised in Australia during 1951-52. Three and threequarter per centsecurities maturing in . 1962-65, and 2 per cent, securities for three years (maturing in 1954 or 1955), were offered for each loan.
The total amount subscribed and converted to these loans was £135,044,000 of which £79,961, 000 was new cash and £55,083,000 conversions of maturing securities. After providing £16,151,000 from cashsubscription to redeem unconverted securities £6,810,000 was available for the State loan programmes for 1951-52 and for Commonwealth advances to the States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement.
In addition to public loan raisings, a special loan of £160,000,000 was issued on 30th June 1952.Securities issued for this loan were - per cent, securities maturing on 15th April, 1955.T hese terms were comparable with those of the short term securities issued in connexion with the public loan floated in April, 1952.
Subscriptions to the special loan of £100.000,000 came from the following sources: -
The purpose of this special loan was to fulfil the undertaking given by the Commonwealth that the States would have access to loan funds for their works programmes during 1951-52 up to the approved Loan Council borrowing programme of£ 225,287,000. An amount of £152,865,000 was required to meet this underwriting commitment and the balance of £7,135,000 was used for various Commonwealth purposes, including the provision of finance for expenditure in 1951-52 on war service land settlement.
Finance for the approved Loan Council borrowing programmeof £225,287,000 in 1951-52 was therefore provided from the following sources: -
The public debt ofAustralia at 30th June. 1952, is compared below with the publicdebt at 30th June, 1951: -
During . 1951-52 the receipts of the National Debt Sinking Fund were £161,401 , 000 including the sum of £98,500,000 referred to below. As a balance of £10,282,000 was carried forward from the previous year, a total of £171.683,000 was available for sinking fund purposes. Of this amount £36,425,000 was expended in repurchases and redemptions and £125,500,000 was invested in Commonwealth securities. The unused balance of £9,758,000 is being carried forward to the financial year 1952-53.
In November, 1951, the Commonwealth Parliament passed the National Debt Sinking Fund (Special Payment) Act which authorized the Treasurer to pay to the National Debt Sinking Fund, out of Consolidated Revenue Fund, such sums as he determined not exceeding in the aggregate £114,500,000. The amount actually paid into the fund under this act was £98,500,000. This sum plus an amount of £27,000,000 received in respect of the 1 00,000,000 dollars loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development was invested in Commonwealth securities on 30th June, 1952.
Notes ok Revenue Estimates.
Customs (Item 1). - The lower estimate of customs revenue in 1952-53 as compared with collections in 1951-52 is, of course, due to the heavy reduction of imports through the restrictions imposed in March this year. Some of the severest restrictions apply to. goods bearing the higher rates of duty.
Excise (Item 2). - The increase in revenue from excise allows- for the fact that the increases in duty on beer, spirits and tobacco imposed in the budget last September will apply for a full twelve months in 1952-53.
Hales Tax (Item 3). - Some price increases cun lie expected during the year and a number of the sales tax increases imposed in the last budget will operate throughout 1952-53. On the other hand, buyer resistance and the effect of import restrictions will tend to reduce sales and revenue collections.
Income Tax and Social, Services Contribution (Item 4 and ti). - Total wage and salary earnings and therefore instalment deductions from salaries and wages are expected to be higher in 1952-53 than in 195 1-52. The amount of arrears collected this year should also be greater than last year and wool deduction credits allowed in 1952-53 will be very much less than in 1051-52. On the other hand, wool incomes in 1951-52, on which Income Tax will be assessed this year, were approximately half the incomes of 1950-51. Costs also rose during the year and growers suffered losses through droughts, floods and bush fires. Furthermore, the large provisional tax debits against assessments issued in 1951-52 will be brought into account as credits this year and will, in general, more than offset the tax actually payable on 1951-52 incomes.
Income Tax - Companies (Item 5). - The estimate of revenue assumes some increase on the average in company incomes in 1951-52 as compared with 1950-51.
Wool Deduction (Item 7). - It is estimated that this year terminal receipts from wool deductions will lie exceeded by refund payments to the extent of £1,000,000.
Pay-roll Tax (Item 8). - As with income tax revenue from instalment deductions, the estimate of pay-roll tax revenue assumes some increase in total earnings this year, as compared with 1051-52.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 August 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1952/19520806_reps_20_218c1/>.