20th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
-Will the Treasurer make a statement to the House concerning loans recently raised by the Government, including the dollar loan from the International Bank for- Reconstruction and Development and the loan which was recently floated in London?. -Pending the making of such a statement will the Treasurer tell the House the rate of interest payable in respect of each loan ?
– I shall look into the matter in order to ascertain to what extent I can give the information sought by the right honorable member.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture what action has been taken in relation to the proposal for the labelling of wool and textiles. I understand that the labelling of these materials has. been made compulsory in the United States of America and in the United Kingdom and that the various States of the Commonwealth hare passed legislation relating to this matter. Does the Australian Government propose’ to take action in this regard shortly? If no action will be taken will the Minister tate, the reasons why it will not be taken?
– This matter comes within the administration of the Minister for Trade and Customs. However, as 1 co-operate with him in these matters I shall attempt to reply to the question. The Australian Government has agreed to introduce textile labelling regulations which will apply to imported textiles. The State governments will introduce, and, in some cases, have already introduced, laws to deal with locally, produced textiles. There has been a real problem involved in reaching agreement on identification of fibres of certain textiles and i lie definition of different fibres. I am not aware of the point the Minister for Trade and Customs has reached in this matter, but I am sure that he must be close to resolving the problem.’ I shall ask him to inform the honorable member of the exact position as soon as possible.
– Is the Minister for Supply aware that defence clothing contracts let by his department are not being shared equitably by manufacturers in the various States, and that the contracts that have been placed with manufacturers in Brisbane and other parts of Queensland are very small compared with those that have’ been placed with manufacturers in other States, especially Victoria ? In the past, especially during the war period, clothing manufacturers in Queensland have undertaken extensive clothing contracts for the Commonwealth, hut it has been reported that some Melbourne clothing manufacturer? who have never previously tendered for or accepted defence contracts are al present receiving contracts of a value far i i : excess of those given to Queensland manufacturers. In view of the fact that clothing manufacturers in Brisbane and other parts of Queensland have been compelled to dismiss approximately 1,600 employees during recent months because of slackness iti the industry, partly due, it is claimed, to the unfair allocation of defence contracts, will the Minister take action to ensure that Queensland clothing manufacturers receive a larger share of the trade?
– For a long time, I ha vo been interested in the allocation of defence contracts, particularly for clothing, among the various.. States .–ti n> to ensure fairness of distribution, not because of State in terry is. hut because of a desire that tl;c industries involved iti ihe various States should get their fair share of orders. Some time ago, T. called for a report on the subject ami learned that some States seemed to be getting a smaller proportion of orders than others. The bulk of the orders went to “Victoria, and New South Wales came next on the list. As a New South Welshman. I began to ask questions, and learned that certain industries tend to bc domiciled to a greater degree in one State than in others. For instance, although New South Wales is the largest industrial State, it so happens that the textile industry is more strongly established in Victoria than in New South Wales or any other State. We are examining the matter further in order to sec what can be done to spread orders more equitably - if they have hitherto been spread inequitably. The honorable member may be assured, that we shall do everything possible to ensure that Queensland manufacturers are treated fairly.
– Will the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration state whether the Government is aware that State and private bousing authorities in Adelaide have not been able to provide British immigrants with homes and that the tariff that they are charged at hostels is so high that these people cannot continue to pay it indefinitely? If no attention has been given to the matter will the “Minister give it his consideration and ascertain if it is not possible for these ,people to be permitted to look after themselves in the hostels until homes can be provided for them so that women who could be looking after their husbands will not have to sit idly by while other people are paid up to £16 a week to cook meals for their families?
– I am not familiar with the details of this matter, but I shall have them examined and furnish the honorable member with a reply to his question.
– Can the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration inform the House of the Government’s proposals regarding board which is owed by persons in immigrant hostels who are unemployed and for whom no employment can be found by employment service officers ?
– I shall look into the matter and give the honorable member a statement on it. I know that there are difficulties, particularly when immigrant 3 have returned to hostels and have been out of employment.
– I direct a question to the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration concerning the Government’s plans to reduce the number of immigrants entering Australia. Can the Minister state the proportion of immigrants of British origin who will enter Australia during the next year?
– The best way for me to reply to this question will be to include it in a statement which I shall make an the conclusion of question time, with the permission of the House.
– In view of the decision of the Government to close the immigration hostel at Smithfield, and of the desire of ;the British immigrants at Gepp’s
Cross to do their own cooking, will the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service investigate the possibility of converting the Smithfield hostel into emergency homes and giving the British immigrants at Gepp’s Cross the right to transfer to those homes ?
– The matter of making self-contained homes available for immigrants was considered previously by the Government, and a decision was given against it. However, in view of the dissatisfaction of the immigrants at the Gepp’s Cross hostel I undertake to have investigations made to see whether something can be done in the way that the honorable member has suggested.
– In view of the imminent threat of floods in the irrigation districts of South Australia from the swiftly rising waters of the Murray, will the Minister for the Army arrange for troops to be made available to supplement the strenuous preparatory efforts of local authorities should circumstances warrant such action? Such an undertaking will greatly hearten those concerned, and will be in accord with the arrangements made to grant military assistance in a previous emergency of a similar nature.
– I regret to hear of the difficulties that the honorable member has mentioned. The policy of the Army is to assist the civil population in every possible way in time of war, and also in time of peace during national calamities such as the honorable member has mentioned. Such emergencies occur very quickly and accordingly I have laid it down that the general officer commanding each military command is authorized to render whatever assistance he can through a special committee which has been set up in each State. That committee is composed of representatives of the Australian and State Governments, and if a problem such as that mentioned by the honorable member should arise, those concerned should communicate with the General Officer Commanding Central Command, and the maximum, assistance from the Army will be made available to them immediately.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Prime Minister to the. disastrous floods that have occurred in the Hunter River valley of New South Wales, affecting Maitland and the farming areas of the lower Hunter River. Can the Prime Minister indicate whether there has been any approach to the Australian Government by the Kew South Wales Government for the provision of relief? Will the Prime Minister make available the services of Government instrumentalities which have rendered such valuable service on previous occasions?
– The honorable mem.lIe 1 for Paterson was good enough to tell me that lie proposed to ask about this matter so that I could inquire whether any messages had been received. So far as 1 know, the Government has had no specific application for Commonwealth assistance in consequence of floods in the Hunter River valley. The normal procedure is for the State authorities to make an estimate of the amount of relief that is likely ro be needed before applying to the Australian Government for assistance. The practice is for the Australian Government to participate on a £l-for-£l basis Tor the relief of personal distress caused by floods. In June, for example., the Australian Government contributed £20.000, mainly for relief in the Lachlan River area. Yesterday I received a telegram from the Premier of New South Wales requesting an additional £15,000 for flood relief, and although it is not stated in the telegram, our assumption is that this application relates to the floods which occurred last week on the Nepean River. The request is being examined as a matter of urgency. Wherever practicable, the Australian Government will continue to make available such services of government instrumentalities as are warranted. T am informed, in fact, that army ducks are already being used in the Maitland district.
– In the absence of the Minister for Social Services, I nsk the Prime Minister whether it is n fact that payments made by the New South Wales Department of Labour and Industry and Social
Welfare to needy families who because of unemployment seek State assistance, are regarded as income by the Department of Social Services? If this is so, I bring to the attention of the right honorable gentleman the fact that applicants for relief are so deprived of part of the unemployment benefit to which they are entitled under the Social Services Consolidation Act. Is it further a fact that the New South Wales Department of Labour and Industry and Social Welfare makes those payments in cash, or in the equivalent value of groceries or other goods, only when there is an immediate need because of indigent circumstances, and as a temporary measure to tide the applicants over the period between their applications for Commonwealth social services and the granting of those services, which period is mostly from fourteen to 21 days? Will the Prime Minister take action to ensure that families that are provided with sustenance as a temporary measure by the New South Wales Department of Labour and Industry and Social Welfare are not penalized by having the unemployment benefit reduced?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s question to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Social Services.
– My question to the Minister for Defence Production relates to his statement about the appointment of an Electrical Industry Advisory Committee. The Minister’s statement indicated that the committee consists of five members and that each member is an executive officer of an Australia-wide electrical organization. Four of the members reside in Sydney and the remaining member in Melbourne. Will the Minister give consideration to altering the constitution of this committee so that each State will have equal representation on it? If that is not practicable will he consider increasing the size of the committee to allow the inclusion of a Queensland representative? I ask that this might be done, particularly in view of the fact that the committee as it stands could act prejudicially to the Queensland electrical industry.
– I know that the honorable member is very concerned about this matter because he has mentioned it to me on a number of occasions. I now desire to tell him, and also the House, that when a committee of the stature of the Electrical Industry Advisory Committee is set up, it is not appointed to represent particular States or particular industries. We desire to obtain the best possible advisory committee, and we select men, not industries or States. In seeking to constitute the best possible committee we have tried to obtain the best men to advise us in these undertakings. We think that we have a panel of men who are best suited to give the Government the advice that it requires. I do not propose to alter the constitution of the committee, but I do say that if we find that it is necessary to enlarge the committee for any reasons that do not appear apparent at the moment, I shall certainly give consideration to the honorable member’s submissions.
– The question that I direct to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture relates to the surplus of grain sorghum in Queensland and to the representations that I have made to him in favour of the granting of export licences to enable the surplus to be sold on overseas markets. Is the Minister in a position to inform the House whether such export licences will be granted, and will he say whether the Queensland Government has been co-operative or apathetic in the course of his negotiations with it on the subject?
– Export licences for grain sorghum will be issued almost immediately. The policy that has been adopted in relation to grains that are needed in Australia, but of which there is a surplus for export, is to consult the appropriate State Minister for Agriculture with the object of ascertaining what he considers to be an adequate quantity to retain for home consumption and yet, at the same time, to have regard for the fact that injustice would be done to the producers if more of their product than is needed in Australia were to be retained. Obviously, it would be most unfair to require growers to hold stocks of grain indefinitely just in case somebody might want it. The problem is to determine what represents justice having regard to those factors. I asked the Queensland Minister for Agriculture some time ago to offer me his views on the subject of grain sorghum. He has been away from his State and has not yet been able to do so. He sent me a telegram yesterday to inform me that he had sent me a letter by air-mail. That letter has not yet reached me. I shall make a decision as soon as I receive it. That decision will not necessarily be based on the advice of the Queensland Minister, although I hope that we shall be in agreement. Export permits will be allotted when my decision has been made.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Supply. Is it a fact that the importation of tinplate and the allocation of supplies in this country is no longer controlled by the Department of Supply? Will the Minister say whether a monopolistic association in Melbourne called Containers Limited appears to have a dominating say in respect of both importation and allocation ? Is it a fact that only one firm can obtain licences for the importation of tinplate into Australia? Is it true that, during the period last year when there was a shortage of American tinplate, ample supplies of Japanese tinplate were available but were not permitted to enter this country?
– I believe that the honorable member has been misinformed. Tinplate has not been controlled by the Government since 1949. The importation of tinplate is regulated by a voluntary industry committee, upon which are represented many facets of the tinplate consuming interests of Australia. That committee reports to my department and, through it, to myself. It recommends how tinplate imported into this country, not by the Government but by the importers themselves, should be allocated. If I remember rightly, Containers Limited is a firm with fairly widespread interests which manufactures cans. It produces cans, not packets. It has a representative, perhaps two representatives, on the tinplate advisory committee. The full committee consists of approximately twenty members, and the executive committee of perhaps ten members. The representatives of Containers Limited could certainly be outvoted. No organization has a dominating interest in the committee.. The final decision is made by the Minister for Supply. So far, we have worked amicably, acting upon the recommendations of this organization. Tinplate is not imported by the Government, Organizations which want to import tinplate apply for the necessary import licences, and obtain supplies from various parts of the world. The Government’s part in the matter is to facilitate the placing of orders with British and American firms. Although tinplate is a scarce commodity, this arrangement has, on the whole, worked satisfactorily. Due to a steel strike in America, there was a shortage of American tinplate last year, but it is not true to say that during that period ample quantities of tinplate were available from Japan. Japanese tinplate was offered to us, but at fabulous prices, which the Australian industry, I believe quite rightly, would not agree to pay.
– Experiments in the treatment of tuberculosis with compounds of iso-nicotinic acid are now being conducted in the United States of America, Will the Minister for Health say whether supplies of these drugs are available in this country? Are the costs of production high? Is any experimental clinical work upon their use being undertaken in this country? Is it correct to say thai: the treatment of tuberculosis with these drugs is still in the experimental stage and that, despite very promising . and much publicized results, it would be misleading to give the impression that a radical change in the treatment of this disease is at hand?
– Iso-nicotinic acid is being used very freely in the United States of America. It is available in Australia, at a fairly low cost. In this country, the drug is being used only in experimental work conducted by the Directors of Tuberculosis in the
States and by some highly qualified and esteemed tuberculosis specialists. Our present knowledge of the use of the drug, both here and overseas shows that, in the treatment of tuberculosis, it is only in the experimental stage and should not replace ordinary methods of treatment.
– In view of the recent statement by the Minister for Territories that the Australian Government intendsto open up land in Papua and New Guinea for agricultural and grazing purposes will he ensure that opportunity and help are afforded to ex-servicemen, and other suitable young Australians, who arewilling to settle on the land in Papua and New Guinea, and thus help in the development of that territory? Has the Ministeror his department considered the possibility of maize-growing there? When I passed through the territory recently I saw some very fine maize growing there,.and it seems to me that the prospects for maize-growing are good.
– In general, the policy of the Government is to give preference to ex-servicemen, and we regard1 them as the most suitable settlers for Papua and New Guinea. However, thereis not at the present time in operation any scheme for the settlement of exservicemen in the territory, the reason being that the capital cost and otherfactors associated with land settlement there are not the same as on the mainland, so that the conditions which apply to land settlement of ex-servicemen in Australia do not apply in exactly the same way there. Together with two of my Cabinet colleagues, I am now examining the possibility of extending to the territory the land settlement scheme for ex-servicemen. As for the second part of the honorable member’s question, we know that maize will grow quite well in the territory, and a considerable quantity is, in fact, being grown there by individual settlers. However, thequantity that can be profitably grown is limited by the local demand. It is not required in large quantities as stock feed* because unfortunately the numbers of stock are comparatively small and thenatural pastures are so far sufficient for the feeding of all the stock in the terri. tory. When the number of stock increases it may be necessary to fall back on maize as a fodder. We have tried to induce the natives to use maize in order to supplement their ordinary diet, but so far it has not proved wholly acceptable to them. However, we are continuing to work along those lines.
-! direct a question to the Postmaster-General and by way of explanation wish to state that recently, while I was in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, a sister of mine became seriously ill and died. I could not be reached because of lack of telephone services. Will the Minister state whether it is the intention of his department to provide telephonic communication between Lae and the mainland of Australia through Port Moresby? Does the Minister know that many hundreds of cables are sent and received in Lae every day and that great inconvenience is experienced by the people in that area because of the lack of proper telephone services ?
– The telecommunications system between Australia and New Guinea goes by way of Port Moresby. A reasonably up-to-date station is established there and it is very well conducted. I am not conversant with the working of communications between Lae and Port Moresby but I shall have inquiries made and ascertain -whether the system, can be improved. Finance enters into the matter largely, but I shall see what can be done.
– Will the Minister for Supply state whether it is true that the cracking and refining plant at Glen Davis is not now to be used in connexion with the aluminium project at Bell Bay? If it is true, what factors have led the Government to make such a decision?
– Some time ago a proposal was made that after the Glen Davis works had been closed down the cracking and refining plant should be transferred to Bell Bay for use in conjunction with the aluminium project. The expert advice given to the Government was that that was a desirable proposition as it would enable coal to be saved by the utilization of waste gases from the refining operations in the heating processes for the manufacture of aluminium. There were other advantages in the proposal, but unfortunately there was a long delay in this matter during which the economic circumstances of the country changed. A further difficulty has since arisen. The Government hoped that it would be able to make arrangements for the distribution of approximately 16,000,000 gallons of motor spirit which would result from the refining of the crude oil that was to be used. It has not been possible to make satisfactory arrangements for the handling of the spirit, and the Government is certainly not interested in entering the petrol distributing business. Because of these circumstances, and of other economic factors, the Government has decided that the use of the Glen Davis plant for the purpose is not now a practical proposition. However, the Government expected that some difficulty of that kind might arise and ordered a coal-burning plant for the aluminium project. As a result of its foresight there will be no delay in setting up the aluminium production plant arising from this change.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture aware that the main items in the recent 12s. a week cost of living adjustment to the basic wage were increased food prices, and that further sharp increases of food prices which have since taken place “will be reflected in the next quarterly adjustment? Is it not a fact that the Government’s policy of increasing food prices is seriously aggravating the inflationary spiral by adding further heavy imposts to the cost of living, and also that that policy will ultimately react to the detriment of primary producers by forcing up their costs of production and by reducing the effective demand for their products 1
– The question involves a matter of policy. The Minister may answer it if he chooses.
– I want to correct the honorable member’s mis-statement of the Government’s policy. The honorable member referred to the Government’s policy of increasing food prices. The Government has no such policy. On the contrary, its policy is designed to ensure that primary producers shall receive for their products prices which will maintain for them the same standards as are enjoyed by the rest of ‘the community, and that continuity of production shall be maintained for the benefit of the rest of the community. As there is an implication in the honorable member’s question that if the Labour party were in office it would not permit primary producers to receive the cost of production, then that is the distinguishing line of demarcation between the policy of the Government and that of the Labour party.
– At present, group certificates for income tax purposes covering pay of members of the Commonwealth Military Forces are forwarded by the epartment of the Army to members of the forces about the end of July, or early in August, each year. In instances in which income tax returns are required to be lodged by the 31st July, arrangements are made for early refunds by the Taxation Branch in respect of returns that are lodged some weeks before that date. As late receipt of group certificates precludes members of the Commonwealth Military Forces from obtaining this concession, and, in fact, means late lodgment of returns, will the Minister for the Army instruct his department that the group certificates of members of the Commonwealth Military Forces shall, in future, be made available early in July?
– Statements of earnings of members of the Commonwealth Military Forces are made available as soon as possible after the 30th June. [ remind the honorable member that it is not possible to calculate the amount of earnings prior to that date. I assure him that up to date the most expeditious procedure has been followed in order to unsure that all members of the Commonwealth Military Forces shall be notified of their earnings as quickly as possible. Despite that fact, however, I shall see whether it is possible to evolve an even more expeditious method.
– Will the Prime Minister make an early announcement of Government policy with respect to the extravagant subsidies that the Government is paying on overseas coal whilst ample supplies of Callide coal are available? In the event of the Government deciding to continue these subsidies, will he endeavour to have the subsidy in respect of Callide coal paid on the same basis of cash per ton as is now done in respect of coal purchased from overseas competitors? Is he aware of the fact that following a trial shipment of Callide coal to Japan an immediate request for further supplies was received from that country? Will he investigate the reasons why Japan desires to purchase Callide coal in preference to coal from India?
– Speaking on behalf of the only Australian Government that has ever done anything for Callide coal - and it has done a great deal - I am happy to tell the honorable member that I shall refer his request for particular information to the Minister for National Development and have the facts set out I am sure that they will give the greatest possible satisfaction to the people of Queensland.
– As I understand that there is a shortage of trained personnel in the Royal Australian Air Force at present will the Minister for Air give consideration to the proposition that members of the active reserve of the Royal Australian Air Force be permitted to serve in Malaya or Korea, if it is deemed that such service will be useful to the Royal Australian Air Force?
– There already exists a regulation tinder which members of the normal and active reserve may be called up for service and, provided that there are sufficient musterings in which to place them. those who so volunteer may be posted overseas. I assure the honorable member that such volunteers would be welcomed and that we would do our best to place them in appropriate musterings. I should think that he would know much more, perhaps than any other honorable member about this matter because in recent months he has done a short tour of service in Malaya. I suspect that the real purpose of his question is to see whether we can reduce the period of service. At present, provision is made for enlistment for periods of six months or two years. Perhaps the honorable member and also the honorable member for St. George desire to see that period shortened to three months so that they could serve in the Royal Australian Aif Force during the Christmas vacation. 1 shall see what can be done about the matter.
– Does the file of papers which, I notice, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is holding under his arm contain a reply to a letter on the subject of fertilizers that I _ handed to his personal secretary ‘ when the Minister recently visited Perth ? In that letter I requested the Minister to grant a personal interview to the parties concerned, or alternatively, furnish an urgent reply to a request that was submitted to him by an organization representing planters at Carnarvon? The work of the planters at Gascoyne has been considerably hampered because of the high price of fertilizers. The request was for a reduction of the price of whale meal fertilizer provided by the whaling station at Carnarvon.
– I am sorry that these papers do not contain the reply. Frankly, T do not remember seeing the letter, but I shall make immediate inquiries about it as soon as question time has concluded. On the availability df whale meal fertilizer, f am glad to tell the honorable member that just before I went to Western Australia I issued instructions to the manager of the Australian Whaling Commission, who is eager to show as high a profit as bc can from the commission’s activities, that in the course of seeking to attain this very admirable objective he must not sell the fertilizer at a price higher than the price fixed by the Western Australian Government for meat meal fertilizer. I am assured that a price not higher than that fixed by the Western Australian Government is charged by the commission.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral inform the House of the present position in relation to the provision of television in Australia? Has the committee investigating television yet made its report on the subject? What ave the prospects of an immediate start being made on the provision of television in this country?
– As the honorable member knows, this matter has been constantly under review. A site was selected at Gore Hill, near Sydney, for our first television station. Tenders were called and arrangements were made to let contracts, but in the meantime imports were restricted. It was then considered that, in view of the very large expenditure that would be involved outside Australia in establishing television initially in this country, the matter should be stood over for the time being. The subject is still under review, and as soon as it is possible to proceed we shall do so.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture by the statement that under the recent agreement of the governments of the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada, New Zealand will supply a large quantity of meat to the American market at about 6s. per lb. In view of the fact that Australia supplies beef to the United Kingdom at ls. lid. per lb., will the Minister make representations to the appropriate authorities for a share of this most lucrative American market for Australia?
– Australia -was given an opportunity to participate in this accidental market, which arose from the circumstance of the embargo against Canadian live-stock and meat going into the United States of America after an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Canadian cattle. Unhappily, due largely to the severe drought in our northern areas, Australia had to say that it did not have any meat available for export to the United States of America other than a small quantity that had been allotted under the terms of our long-term agreement with the United Kingdom
Government. As a matter of fact, speaking from memory, the latest figures that. I have show that exports of beef during the current export season total 5,600 tons, as against the customary export figure of about 60,000 or 70,000 tons. This small amount has gone, not to the United States or the United Kingdom, but to certain areas contiguous to Australia that always depend upon us for beef. I refer to places like Singapore and to British garrison posts in the Far East and Middle East.
– I direct the attention of the Minister for Health to the fact that public hospitals in Victoria charge age pensioners up to £10 a week for hospital accommodation, exclusive of any payment made by the Department of Social Services. As the right honorable gentleman has persistently pointed out to this House that he is in favour of free medical attention for the aged, will he make arrangements with the Victorian Government to prevent the public hospitals of Victoria charging age pensioners for hospital accommodation?
– I am afraid I must take the honorable gentleman’s statement with a very great deal of doubt, f shall make, inquiries into the statement lie has made, but I do not believe for a second that it is correct.
– Will the Minister for Supply inform die House whether the Government intends to absorb unemployed British immigrants from the Brooklyn hostel and European immigrants from the Maribyrnong hostel in the munitions establishments at Maribyrnong on the defence programme to which the Government is committed? If the Government does not intend to provide such employment for the skilled and unskilled immigrants from those hostels adjacent to the Maribyrnong establishments, can the Minister say what other employment it intends to offer to the men? Will he make arrangements for the appropriate Minister or department to supply to honorable members particulars of unemployed persons in their respective electorates in the following classifications: - (a) immigrants of British origin;. (I) immigrants of European origin, and (c) other unemployed persons, together with details in each case of the periods of unemployment?
– The honorable member will realize, I am sure, that I do not carry in my head all the information that he seeks. However, I can tell him that theDepartment of Immigration, of which I am temporarily in charge, is working: closely in contact with the Department of Labour and National Service in order toensure that employment shall be found’ as soon as possible and on the best possible basis for British and other immigrants. I shall have the remainder of thehonorable member’s questions examined and will either write to him or make a statement on the subject in this House.
– Is the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service aware of the terms of the direction now inserted in theDistrict Office Manual, which providesthat interviewing officers of the Commonwealth Employment Service should’ suggest service in the armed forces when discussing suitable employment available to applicants? If so, what is the purpose of showing on theapplicant’s card in the employment office the date upon which service in the armed! forces is mentioned? Why is the District Office Manual, the contents of which, affect many electors, regarded as a confidential document and not made availableto federal members?
– I am not aware of the matters to which the honorable member has referred. I shall have inquiriesmade and advise him at an early date.
Mr MCBRIDE (Wakefield- Minister for Defence). - by leave - So many illinformed statements have been made in recent weeks about the employment situation that I considered that the House would wish to know, in somedetail, the real position. There is really no justification for so many of these inaccurate and extravagant statements. The facts are available to any one who isgenuinely interested in knowing them. My colleague, the Minister for Labour mid National Service (Mr. Holt), lias been at pains to keep the public well informed cither through statements made by himself or well-documented material issued, by his direction, by the Department of Labour and National Service. This- practice will be continued. In addition, regular statistical bulletins prepared and issued by the Commonwealth Statistician are available.
It is quite true that there has been a change in the employment market. But did any one, that is, any one with any sense of responsibility or understanding of economic forces, imagine that the conditions that obtained in the middle of Inst year could continue or, indeed, could bo allowed to continue? What has happened and what is happening is a perfectly natural result of the interplay of normal economic factors, both internal and external aided by the pursuit by the Government, of a cardinal element of its policies, which is, that the inflation that was threatening the ruin of Australia should he halted. Did any one imagine that sooner or later there would not only be an end to, but a price to bc paid for the improvident and imprudent expansion that has occurred in the field of secondary industries, especially in the light manufacturing field? The “milk bar” economy, which, if not actively encouraged by, was not discouraged by, the Chifley Labour Government, could not be sustained indefinitely. Sooner or later there had to be a slowing down of the prodigality that was being displayed by some sectors of private industry and by some State governments in their expenditure and their demands on the money market. Because this Government set out resolutely to meet the problems created by this recklessness and to bring some sanity back to our economy, it is now the butt of the attacks of those who seek, for their evil purposes, to create alarm and despondency and to induce a psychology which might generate a recession, or of those who now wish to find some scapegoat for their own foolishness. What has happened in the employment market has found expression also in other sectors of the economy. At the same time, the employment market reflects what is happening elsewhere in the economy. It reflects the effect of the drop in export income from wool. It reflects the effects of the huge imports on Australian production. It reflects the fact that rising costs have priced our goods out of export markets. It reflects growing consumer resistance to high prices, whether for houses and domestic equipment, or foodstuffs. What we are experiencing is, I repeat, the very natural outcome of the follies of the past What are the facts of the employment market? I shall list them briefly. They are as follows : -
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! Unless interjections cease there will be vacancies in this chamber.
– Additional fact? are -
These remarks lead me to my next point. So far, I have been listing the declines. Let me now mention the increases. First, there has been a very useful movement of labour into the basic industries and services. This movement has been reflected in greater production, and has meant that blackmarkets have disappeared, that bottlenecks have been broken, and that there have been better transport services and fewer electricity black-outs. The heavy iron and steel industries, the coalmining industry, and the railways and tramways have been able to build up their employment strengths. The hospitals are in a similar position. There, incidentally, lies the explanation for the increase in employment in the governmental sector. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and Australian Iron and Steel Limited alone have increased their labour strength by roughly 1,000 in the last six months. The improved position in the coalmining industry deserves a special mention. In the twelve months to June last, partly as a result of the Government’s recruitment of immigrants for coal-mining, partly because of the drive by the Commonwealth Employment Service to interest Australians in entering that industry, and partly because of a return of miners to the pits, the industry gained 1,367 workers. There lies most of the secret of the great increase in our coal production.
The second factor is that there has been a movement back to the rural indus- tries, which is continuing. The Government attaches great importance to the expansion of the rural industries. They are still the backbone of our export income. Unless they are in a healthy condition our foreign exchange position will never be sound. Without the foreign exchange that the rural industries provide, we shall be unable to sustain the importation of much needed plant and equipment, upon which high levels of employment in Australian manufacturing industries are dependent. It is impossible to measure the extent of the movement back to the land. However, we know that workers who have been displaced from some of the country factories that have closed down or reduced their staffs have returned to rural pursuits.
At’ this stage, I shall say a few words about the drive to place immigrants in rural industries. That drive is going well, notwithstanding the winter and the shocking seasonal conditions. So far. we have placed through the Commonwealth Employment Service 1,558 immigrants. Approximately 700 vacancies for permanent, not seasonal, jobs await i Aitchmen and Italians who are now i the way to Australia. In addition, we have placed many hundreds of Australians in the jobs that have been created by special canvassing, and otherwise, and we are continuing to place men in such positions.
The third point is that while the figures in. globo for the statistical industrial groups do not reveal the position so sharply, there have been notable increases in employment in selected plants in such sections of industry as heavy engineering, plant equipment and machinery, railway rolling stock, chemicals and fertilizers, building materials, agricultural machinery and implements, shipbuilding and repair, aircraft manufacture and repair, and munitions.
I turn now to the matter of unemployment. This is the subject that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) delights in exaggerating in the most alarming way. I have noted with satisfaction that his irresponsibility is not shared by other members of his party, nor by responsible trade union leaders who know that this Government is just as committed to full employment as is i he Opposition. What are the facts? Unemployment has increased. I say, straight away, that there is no precise ‘measure of its extent. No country r “a T, I know of can tell what is the precise level, of unemployment in its midst. One problem is that of definition. But here in Australia, as elsewhere, there are indicators to which I shall refer. They art -
– Do not tell lies !
- Mr. Speaker, I resent the interjection made by the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Fitzgerald).
– Order !
– The third indicator to which I have referred continues -
There is a constant turnover, with placements running not far short of 25,000 a month in June and July. Some are, of course, more difficult to place than others. -Naturally, in any period of adjustment the workers of marginal efficiency are first affected.
Those are facts. Honorable members will not have heard me mention the figure of 100,000, or anything remotely resembling it.
Each of the sets of figures I .have given really needs some explanation. Here, there is time only for a brief comment. The unemployment benefit figures do not represent all the unemployed because there is an income test and a works test, and some are not eligible, such as men over 65 years of age and women over 60 years of age. The trade union figures are not a true indicator. Their scope is limited, and a member recorded as unemployed by one union may have secured employment which entails his joining another. The Commonwealth Employment Service figures of unplaced disengaged applicants do not take account of those who have secured employment after registering, the fact of which has not been checked, by the reporting date.
But allowing for all this, we must, I suggest, get the matter into some perspective.
People who cry “wolf” too often generally suffer. In the present instance there appear to he sinister reasons for crying “ wolf “. The object is not to be constructive but to create alarm and fear. Unemployment is a ready-made catchcry for the demagogue. I do not propose to remind the Opposition of the 25 per cent, unemployment that existed when the Labour party was in office. [ do not propose to emphasize that in 1937 when the unions went to the Arbitration Court for a prosperity loading and obtained one, the recorded percentage of union members unemployed ranged from 8.5 per cent, in 1.937-38 to 10.6 per cent, in 1936-37. Nor do I propose to remind the Opposition that in 1947, when Labour was in office, 39,081 persons were recorded by the census as unemployed. That figure excludes more than 43,000 workers who described themselves as unemployed because of sickness, accident or industrial disputes or because they were resting. But they were facts nevertheless.
Let us examine the position in other parts of the world. In the United States of America at March, 1952, the number of persons unemployed was 1,804,000, or 2.9 per cent., roughly of the labour force. In the United Kingdom in June, 1952, the number was 440,000, or 2.1 per cent. In Canada in March, 1952, the figures are 312,000, or 4.1 per cent. Canada ia regarded as having one of the soundest economies in the world. I could go on. But it is quite true to say that outside the Iron Curtain, whence come no figures about anything, there is no industrialized country which can boast of so little unemployment as Australia can..
I said before than one problem connected with the measurement of unemployment is the matter of definition. No country counts as unemployed the housewife who returns to her home after a spell in industry. I am sure the housewife does not regard herself as unemployed. We all know that in the “ lay-offs “ that have occurred, many have been housewives. Among those affected by the “ lay-offs “ have also been elderly folk who have returned; to their retirement. They can- not be counted as unemployed. All of these classes of people and others as well were attracted into employment under the boom conditions of last year. Now with a return to normalcy, they have gone back to their homes and their retirement. They probably account for much of the total employment decline noted earlier. No doubt there has been a lowering of total family incomes in some cases but that does not mean that the household is being impoverished.
I am often asked why the Commonwealth Employment Service should have about 31,000 vacancies registered while 45,000 applicants are registered for employment. The answer is that a large proportion of the applicants for employment have not the qualifications and experience required to fill the vacancies. The function of the Commonwealth Employment Service is to supply the worker who can do the job that the employer wants done. To depart from this rule would be to destroy the Commonwealth Employment Service. It would degenerate overnight into mere bureaux for handling the unskilled unemployed and paying unemployment benefit. The worker would be the worst loser if this happened. Another problem that prevents the filling of some vacancies is that accommodation, is not available in the d istrict for workers coming from elsewhere. Port Kembla is one example of this. If the States will use the extra money made available to them for housing to put houses where, they are most needed, we will be on the way to overcoming thi? problem.
Yet another difficulty in placing unskilled workers is the lack of tradesmen. If we had metal and electrical tradesmen available, we could find employment for many unskilled workers. We have approximately 10,000 vacancies recorded for metal and electrical tradesmen. There is only one source from which we can secure these - immigration. The unions recognize this and I want to pay tribute here to the assistance we have been getting from the metal and electrical trade? unions in facilitating the absorption of immigrant tradesmen. It is to make good our shortage of tradesmen, to make opportunities for the absorption of unskilled workers, that we have been concentrating special efforts on bringing skilled immigrants to Australia. I have noted with satisfaction that the Opposition approves at least of what the Government is doing in this direction.
It is convenient to say something here about the employment aspects of immigration. The Government has followed the same principles as the Labour Government followed - in particular those principles that were followed by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) when he was Minister for Immigration. These principles are, first, to seek constantly the advice of a representative group of industrialists, trade union leaders, economists and other experts on its immigration plans. My friend opposite set up the Immigration Planning Council for that ‘purpose. “We have continued to use that body. Secondly, we have endeavoured to gear immigration intake to employment opportunities and labour needs in Australia. But we must be quite clear on one thing. Many people come to Australia of their own volition. The Government has nothing to do with encouraging or discouraging these immigrants. Those who come here under some form of government aegis represent a proportion only of the t.oi;a.l immigration flow. In relation to these immigrants the Government does exercise a controlling influence.
Last year, when the need was to avoid adding to inflationary tendencies, we damped down on family immigration and, as to the worker element, we concentrated on bringing in those who were needed. Now, in the changed situation, we have not only -decided to cut substantially the total inflow. We have cut out unskilled workers and have concentrated on bringing in skilled workers and rural workers, for whom the demand is present, and their families. This has been our policy for some months. This policy, I note, has the endorsement of the Opposition and of the organized trade union movement. Fuller details will no doubt he given by my colleague, the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Beale), at some approriate time.
I do, however, wish to .say a word about n special problem. Honorable members rsl will realize that in organizing an immigration flow involving other governments, some delay must necessarily occur in giving effect to changes in direction of policy. I am referring now to the problem which has confronted the Government with respect to the Italian unskilled immigrants, of whom so much, and so distorted a picture, has been seen in the press. Pursuant to the migration agreement with the Italian Government, we indicated early this year that we would take in a given number of unskilled workers during the year. The opportunities for their employment were then many times the number of migrants requisitioned for. When trends in the employment situation suggested that a halt to unskilled migration should be made, we immediately considered reducing the intake, and, later on, its temporary cessation. We found then that there had been an acceleration of the organizational, administrative and shipping arrangements at the Italian end and that only one ship could be stopped from coming and that the unskilled complement of one other ship could be switched to workers needed here.
That, Mr. Speaker, is shortly the background to the situation which has confronted us, which has meant that about 3,500 unskilled Italian immigrants have either arrived or are on the water. What were we to do? Obviously the immigrants could not be left at the reception and training centres simply because circumstances beyond their control and that of the Government had led to a situation in which temporarily there were no jobs suitable for them available. Few of them speak English and few have any contacts, friends or relatives in Australia to help them. And most have relatives in Italy dependent on them.
Whatever else may be said, the Government’s action can be described as a common act of humanity. The Government is giving immigrants the opportunity to find lasting jobs for themselves or of being assisted to find them. Those who have friends and relatives to help them are going out from the reception centres to those friends. The remainder have been given jobs in a wide range of Commonwealth establishments in a number of areas. To facilitate their absorption we have waived, in this case, compliance with the employment contract. These immigrants are not being used to displace Australians. The jobs are for short terms only. It is not, as some ill-intentioned people have said, a case of providing jobs for immigrants and not for Australians. It is a case of providing initially, for these immigrants, the opportunity to establish themselves and to become absorbed into the Australian community. They came here to become Australian citizens. They must have the same opportunities as Australian citizens enjoy.
The present period is one of readjustment. A very worth-while redistribution of the labour force - indeed the redistribution which the former Labour Prime Minister, Mr. Chifley, knew hud to take place - has taken place. He never believed, and no one else with any gumption whatever believes, that full employment means that changes in the organization of the labour market would not be necessary and would not occur, or that workers would not have to change their jobs from time to time. Mr. Chifley’s words are worth quoting. They were spoken to a conference of trade unionists at the Sydney Trades Hall in October. 1948. Mr. Chifley said -
No guarantee canbe given to anybody that they can stay put in a particular industry. It is realized that there will have to be transfers of workers and in many cases transfers of whole communities to other forms of work. I am quite certain that everybody will not be able to stay at home because there will have to be transfers of labour if there is going to be expansion. I am not going to fool anyone in that regard.
One product of this period of adjustment has been a very notable increase of production, a decline of costly labour turnover, a salutary improvement of management. I have never been one to say that the fault lay solely with the worker. I believe that management became slack. Costs, waste and efficiency ceased to be of major concern to it; the consumer would pay, the consumer would take anything. That has changed to the greatgood of all of us. Management is becoming increasingly cost conscious and increasingly efficiency conscious. On the other side, the worker once again values a job, and once again is recognizing his responsibility to give a goodday’s work for his pay. It is a dreadful commentary on our social progress that only when there is an urge, be it fear of unemployment or fear of unprofitable operations or insolvency, that our workers and our managements really get down to realities.
The economy of this country is basically sound. A high level of overall demand continues to be evident. Private industry still is expanding. Our defence expenditures will create a special demand. The budget will make its own contribution to the problem of sustaining demand, and sooner or later the stocks of goods, which were mightily swollen by the inrush of imports that overoptimistic businessmen purchased from the flood tide of export income, will be run down and Australian industries once again will build up their production of the items concerned. Consideration of the details of our national income and finances, which my colleague has already made available, will,’ I think, provide extra grounds for sober optimism about the future.
The Government accepts its responsibility for maintaining full employment. I do not deny that we have passed from a condition of overfull employment, but by any standard, and by the standards of the prosperous countries I have mentioned already, we have full employment, in this country. However, it is not only with the past, or. even the present, thatwe are concerned now. The future is more important. The Government will maintain the utmost vigilance. It will adjust its policies as circumstances dictate, and, I repeat, those policies will be directed to the maintenance of full employment.
Above all, let there be an end to this deliberate attempt to create a psychology of depression. Each of us in this Parliament has a responsibility. Fear only breeds fear. This is not the time to be shouting depression. This is not’ the time for the timidity and pessimism being displayed in some quarters of industry. This is the time for recognizing the mistakes that were made in the past. This is the time to make every post a winner. The opportunities before us are many : Let us go forward and grasp them.
I lay on the table the” following paper : -
Employment Situation - Ministerial Statement, and move -
That the paper be printed.
– I propose to move that the debate be adjourned, but before so doing I desire to ask for a ruling, Mr. Speaker. If the motion for the adjournment of the debate is carried, will that preclude any discussion in the Committee of Supply of the matter of unemployment ?
– The Committee of Supply was constituted last night after the reading of two messages sent to me by the Governor-General. The House itself decided that those messages should be taken into consideration in Committee of Supply, and all matters listed in the Estimates, and so forth, which were then referred to the committee are open to discussion in the Committee of Supply. That was the instruction of the House.
– I take it that there will he no prohibition in Committee of Supply on any honorable member who wishes to discuss the matter covered by this paper?
– I do not preside in the Committee of Supply, but I say, as Speaker, that the House itself last night instructed the Committee of Supply to take into consideration the matters referred to it by the Governor-General.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
– by leave - The largescale immigration programme which was initiated by the preceding Government has been continued by the present Government because it considers that our population should be built up as rapidly is possible while favorable conditions exist. Despite criticism from certain quarters, the present Government has carried on with this policy in the firm belief that we must have additional population to ensure the long-term security of the country. Whilst this belief still holds, the turn of events quite recently. particularly in the economic field, resulted in less favorable conditions prevailing for the settlement of immigrants than prevailed previously. Accordingly, a revision of’the immigration programme became necessary, in the interests of both Australians and immigrants already here and those who might otherwise have come to settle in the immediate future.
The Government, therefore, has decided that the intake for the remaining six months of this year shall be curtailed, as far as existing commitments will permit, and that the intake for 1953 shall be reduced from 150,000 to 80,000 immigrants. The considerations that prompted this decision were the need to relieve the strain upon our economy in present circumstances and the need to consolidate the assimilation and integration into our community of the large influx of immigrants, numbering approximately 650,000, who have arrived in Australia over the past four years.
The tentative programme that has been drawn up may be the subject of changes in detail as a result of discussions that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt) will have with various governments during his visit overseas. Under this programme, it is proposed that the figure of 80,000 shall be made up as follows : -
lt will be observed that emphasis is being laid on the British component, which will total 40,000, or 50 per cent, of the whole intake. The honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) asked me earlier to-day what proportion of British immigrants would be included in the restricted programme. I refer him to the figure that I have just stated. British immigrants have always played a large part in our immigration plans, although the proportion has fluctuated from year to year. In 194S, under the Labour Government, it was 66.3 per cent. In 1949, >r,ill under the Labour Government, it was 41 per cent. In 1950, when the programme was still largely influenced by the plans that had been made by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), when he was Minister for Immigration, it was 39.7 per cent. In 1953,, under the present Administration, it rose to 55.5 per cent. Honorable i members will see that the average proportion of British immigrants, from I!)48 to 1951 inclusive, was 48.6 per cent. The Government proposes to exceed that average for 1953. lt is not intended to restrict in any way the arrival of British full-fare paying passengers, who have always been permitted to enter Australia freely, provided that they are of sound health and good character, are in possession of a valid British passport, and are unlikely to become a charge upon the State. The figure of 20,000 is an estimate based upon the experience of previous years and is not a target. This class of person generally has means and does not compete on the labour market for jobs of a n unskilled character.
Hitherto, the British assisted passage scheme has applied to three categories, the main one being that of persons nominated by relatives and friends in Australia, who provide them with accommodation after arrival in Australia and generally foster their employment and settlement. The second category con.sists of what are known as group nominees, such as workers introduced by semi-government or other organizations that provide accommodation and employment for the persons selected pursuant to their requisitions, or children introduced by voluntary child migration organizations, which accept responsibility for their maintenance and general well-being until they are of an age to fend for themselves. The third category consists of immigrants nominated by the Australian Government, these being virtually all skilled workers in short supply in Australia who are accommodated in Commonwealth workers’ hostels after arrival and allocated to employment by the Commonwealth.
It is not proposed to disturb in any way the flow of British personal nominees under the assisted passage scheme in 1953. As many of them as are nominated by relatives or friends in Australia and arc eligible for passages will be accepted. The same will apply to child immigrants nominated by approved voluntary child migration organizations. Group nominations for workers are likely to be very small indeed compared with previous years, and the Commonwealth nomination scheme will be limited to obtaining small numbers of skilled workers such as those for whom employment is readily available in the metal and other essential trades and who could not be introduced except by Commonwealth nomination. In view of the likely falling-off in group and Commonwealth nominations, the estimated figure Of 20,000 should be sufficient to cover all personal nominees and child immigrants, plus such small numbers as may be requisitioned for under the other categories.
Landing permit holders consist of foreigners from all sources who apply for admission to Australia. They are nearly all nominated by relatives and friends in Australia, who guarantee their accommodation upon arrival and are responsible for their maintenance for a period of twelve months after arrival. In the main, landing ‘permit holders consist of wives and children of persons already in Australia, or other close relatives. They arrange their own passages, the costs of which they meet without any assistance from the Australian Government. Because of their family composition, very few landing permit holder? compete for jobs on the labour market, and their nominators usually have employment arranged for them.
It is not proposed to restrict the numbers of wives and children nominated by breadwinners already established in Australia, or other classes of close dependent relatives where compassionate grounds for admission exist. The other eligible classes will he confined to those nominated to engage in rural work or who posses? particular skills which will enable them to engage in essential industry. Where employment will be with other than the nominator, evidence will have to be produced from the prospective employer setting out tha capacity in which he will engage the nominee. Allowing for the re-uniting of families and the admission of other close relatives who are eligible, it is expected that, with the restrictions imposed on other classes of landing permit holders, the intake will be reduced to approximately 20,000 for 1953.
The remaining 20,000 immigrants to make the total of S0,000 will be those introduced under immigration agreements with different countries and will consist of selected Dutch, German, Italian and Maltese immigrants. The actual numbers under each scheme will not be finally determined until the Minister for Immigration has completed his discussions with the different governments in Europe. The general principles that will apply in selection, however, will lay less emphasis than formerly on single workers and more on the introduction of family units. The type of workers who will be sought with their families will be skilled tradesmen still in short supply in Australia, such as metal and engineering tradesmen and rural workers. The possibility of bringing out the wives and children of immigrants who have already arrived here under assisted passage schemes, and a small number of single women, will also be examined. It is not proposed to seek any unskilled workers because of lack of employment opportunities for them.
In view of the emphasis on family migration, henceforth the number of workers in the total of 20,000 is unlikely to exceed 5,000. Because of the nature of their skills, they will be readily absorbed and will be likely to assist in creating employment for unskilled workers. It is well established in industry that skilled workers enable consequential employment to be provided for semiskilled and unskilled workers. As far as possible the rate of intake will, be adjusted so that less than half the 20,000 will arrive in the first six months of 1953 and the balance in the last six months. lt will be observed that the 1953 programme is designed,’ not on a manpower and unmarried individual worker basis but on a true population-building aspect of introducing families who will contribute to the long-term development of Australia. The labour market in Aus tralia at present is oversupplied with unskilled workers, and care has been taken to ensure that the programme will not accentuate this problem but in many respects will tend to relieve it. I have furnished this information to the House because of misconceptions which seem to have arisen, that the intake of 80,000 immigrants in 1953 will all be workers who will compete with Australians for jobs. This is far removed from fact. Hitherto, immigration has transcended party polities and has been dealt with on a national plane. I hope this attitude will continue, because the reasons for increasing our population are as cogent now as they were when large-scale immigration was first commenced in the post-war period. The job of population-building has been well done, but the task is not finished. When the present difficult phase through which Australia is passing has ended, it will be most desirable to resume immigration on a larger scale again.
As the Minister for Immigration has emphasized, for the present we need to retain the good will of countries with which we have immigration agreements, and also to keep the interest of prospective future immigrants so that they will not feel that the door has been permanently shut upon them. Every honorable member appreciates that when a government curtails an immigration scheme, it does not act in the same way as if it were turning off a tap. The flow of immigrants does not cease immediately. The government has made arrangements with shipping companies, with governments and with other bodies, as a result of which the flow of immigrants must continue for some time. Furthermore, a. government, when it curtails such a programme, must exercise great care to avoid doing something that will result in its being unable to obtain desirable immigrants when it wishes to resume the programme.
– Does the Government, propose to. restrict the intake of unskilled workers for the remainder of 1952?
– As far as is practicable, we shall do so. As I have already indicated, our ability to do so is strictly limited by the commitmeuts into which we have already entered. I am sure the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), as a previous Minister for Immigration, understands the difficulties that exist. “Whilst the proposed reduction of immigration to 80,000 men, women and children in 1953 represents a drastic curtailment compared with previous years, it will retain the necessary goodwill and interest overseas without creating employment difficulties “here or adding undue strains to our economy. Needless to say, the immigration programme must always be flexible so that intake can be adjusted from time to time to meet our needs and absorptive capacity. The programme will be kept constantly under review by the Government to ensure that any changes necessitated by future developments can be made rapidly.
I lay on the table the following paper : -
Im m i “ration programme - Revision - Ministerial Statement, and move -
That the paper be printed.
– I assume, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, that in respect of this matter you will repeat the assurance that Mr. Speaker gave in respect of the paper that was presented by the Minister for Defence (Mr. McBride).
– He gave a ruling, not an assurance.
– However it may be described, I accept it.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 3rd June (vide page 1236, Vol. No. 217), on motion by Mr. Hasluck -
That the following paper be printed : - South Pacific Commission - Ninth Session - Ministerial Statement.
.- I am astonished to receive thu call from the Chair, because I believed that members of the Australian Labour party would take some interest in a body in the establishment of which they played a very prominent part. The South Pacific
Commission was established in 1947, after discussions between the six powers interested in the lands and islands lying to the west of New Guinea and to the east of Noumea in the South Pacific. Australia was one of those powers and was at that time represented by a Labour government. The other countries concerned were France, The Netherlands. New Zealand, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Those six powers decided to establish the South Pacific Commission and. to charge it with the responsibility of promoting the social and economic development of the native peoples in that area who were, to various degrees, subject to their rule. Any one who knows anything about this matter will agree that the commission was established for a very wise and noble purpose and that it has done, and will continue to do, excellent work.
Let me refer now to finance: The United Nations has established a large number of commissions, committees and other instrumentalities. Every one who has studied the operations of those bodies has been impressed with the enormous expenditure that they have incurred. The Social and Economic Council of the. United Nations sits, I believe, twice a year. Its head-quarters are at Lake Success. Recently, some of the members of that body suggested that, in August, Geneva would be a very nice place to visit, as a change from the somewhat torrid atmosphere of New York at that time of the year. The commission sat in Geneva for a week or ten days. The cost of transporting the members of the commission and of the secretariat to attend that meeting was approximately £40,000. Obviously, the members spent a very pleasant week. I note with, satisfaction that the expenditure of the South Pacific Commission has been very moderate. The commission has set a very good example to us and to the various instrumentalities of the United Nations. Last year, expenditure upon the payment of salaries, allowances and expenses of members of the permanent staff of the commission was £54,000; upon travelling and other expenses, approximately £S,000; and upon equipment, supplies and services, £39,000. In that year, the whole expenditure of the commission, which consists of representatives of six nations, was only just over £100,000.
Doubtless all honorable members will agree that that money has been very well expended, because the commission has important tasks to perform. Its duties in the field of social development include the education of the natives, who are in an extremely primitive state of civilization, and also the provision of health services. The commission has to deal with diseases such as tuberculosis and elephantiasis, as well as with diseases of the eye, to which the natives of that area are very prone. It has to deal with nutrition, and with the physical condition of the natives. It also deals with such general questions as education, the provision of kindergartens, &c, and with other matters affecting the civilization of the natives. The report of the commission discusses the economic condition of the native peoples, something which is even more important than their social condition. The commission is seeking to apply the same principles as are laid down in the Colombo plan: It is irving to raise the physical standard of living of the people so as to enable them to develop physically and mentally. Researches have been, made into thu “rowing of crops, the most suitable plants fur different areas, and the development of tropical pastures. Investigation has also been made of the use of land, the development of co-operative movements and, above all, of fisheries. It » evident that if these native peoples are Id he raised to a reasonable standard of civilization they must be taught gradually over a. period of years. There arc some persons in this House and elsewhere who believe that it is wrong for us to try to raise the. living standards of the native peoples of the islands. Such persons say, in effect, “ The natives have been living in their present fashion foi’ thousands of years, and have never developed appreciably, but they have been happy, and have enjouyed their way of life “. There are persons in Australia and other parts of the world who question our belief that advanced civilization makes for greater happiness. A few years aso. I visited a remote spot in India called Nepal, which has been in rft” news recently. When T was there.
Nepal was ruled by a princely class of Rajputs. The territory was completely isolated, there being no railways or even roads communicating with the outside world. In order to visit the area it was necessary to walk 50 miles over a narrow path through the hills. In the State there was a large number of natives, including Ghurkas and others who, as one could see, were living quite comfortably and happily without worrying about what went on in the outside world. I had a conversation with the Maharajah who was the sole authoritative ruler of the State. None but he or members of his family exercised any authority over the country, either politically or economically. I remarked to him that his people were very backward, being unable to read or write and being without means of communication with the outside world, and I asked him why he did not do something about it. He said, “ Well, I have lived in the outside world, f. have studied the so-called advanced civilizations in ‘England, France and other European countries, and I have never been able to make up my mind whether the civilization that exists there woaid really make for the happiness of my people. I believe that they, in their ignorance, and in their adherence to the traditions to their race, are happier than they would be in the rush and confusion of modern civilization. .For that reason, so long as I am in control here. I shall try to ensure the happiness of the individual rather than the development of the nation “.
That is all very well, and the same argument might, perhaps, be applied to the natives of New Guinea and the other Pacific islands, but we must realize that we are living in a world in which nothing stands still. It is now impossible for any race to isolate itself from the rest of the world. If it attempts to do so it will create a vacuum which will eventually be filled by some other and stronger race. [ Quorum formed.’] I am convinced that that is true df the indigenous peoples of the south-west Pacific, including New Guinea. If those peoples are to live and progress, if they are to form an important component of the nations with which they are to-day associated, it is essential that they should be helped to .develop economically and socially. Therefore, I believe that the commission is doing valuable work and Australia should support it in every way. I hope that Australia will send a delegation to the next meeting of the commission as it has done in the past, and that Australia will support it financially as well as with the assistance of our experts.
– I support the remarks of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) in relation to the work of the South Pacific Commission. Australia has three responsibilities to the underdeveloped peoples in this part of the world. Our first, and perhaps most important responsibility, is to the Australian aborigines who are living in the northern part of Australia. Next comes our responsibility to the people of New Guinea and Papua who live either under our trusteeship or within the Commonwealth of Australia. Thirdly, we owe a responsibility to the other peoples of the South Pacific because we are one of the great Western Powers in the Pacific area. The people of the South Pacific are not homogenous, although they are very similar in their degree of development, social customs and economic welfare. Apart from mere geography, they have this in common that they are all to some extent underdeveloped by Western standards, and they have all suffered to some degree from the impact of Western civilization upon their lives. Therefore, the Western peoples of the Pacific, and the Western democracies who have territorial responsibilities in the South Pacific, have also a strong moral obligation to guard the welfare of the island peoples who are their neighbours. That responsibility was recognized by the establishment of the South Pacific Commission in 194T. It provides a convenient and practical means of discharging those moral responsibilities.
My purpose in joining in this debate is to recognize and support the objects of the commission and its practical work. I hope that this debate will have the effect of interesting honorable members and the Australian people generally in those activities. The agreement of 1947 between the Governments of Australia, the Republic of France, the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United States of America provided that. all those governments would join in establishing the commission, and defined its scope and activities. In territorial scope, it is limited to the nonselfgoverning territories of the Pacific Ocean to the east of Dutch New Guinea and south of the equator. The agreement provided that the commission shall be a consultative and advisory body representative of the governments which participate in the agreement to arrange for research and practical work in the fields of economics and social development of the territories affected, by the agreement. The intention of the commission was to carry out those responsibilities by the study of methods of development of the economic and social welfare of the peoples, to provide for research in the technical, scientific and economic fields and to make recommendations to their governments. In addition, the commission was to carry out the resultant plans by practical work.
I believe that the commission has done its most effective work in the field, of research. A study of the report which is now before the House shows that most of the commission’s activities are directed to medical, anthropological and social research. Much research has been completed and I am certain that the island peoples of the South Pacific will be acutely aware of the advantages that accrue from it in a. few years even if they are not known to them now. I join with the honorable member for Flinders in commending the commission on the important work which has been accomplished at such moderate financial cost. Australia’s contribution for the year is only £50,000. The results contrast very favorably with the lavish expenditure that has been required by some of the more elaborate and pretentious bodies which are carrying on international work. I hope that the time will never come when we will grudge the moderate contribution that is required from us for the work of the South Pacific Commission. After perusing the report I am confident that the amount which is required of Australia to support the commission is ‘very well, spent.
Mr. CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh) 1 4.34] . - I am one of many people in Australia who until recently had very little idea of the great work that the South Pacific Commission is capable of doing. So far we have had no positive evidence that the commission has taken very much interest in the economic welfare of the native peoples under its jurisdiction. I have heard very little of the recommendations that have been made by the commission to the governments that contribute to its upkeep. Certainly, I have not heard of any proposal to increase the wages paid to the natives of New Guinea employed by Bulolo Gold Dredging Limited, and by other foreign enterprises. The commission will be lacking in its dirty if it does not immediately investigate labour conditions ki the islands and territories under ite. control. The commission, and the governments that support it, should remember that if we are to retain the goodwill of the native peoples we must not allow them to be exploited. We shall not gain the goodwill of the natives if we permit to. remain in force the existing ordinances which allow? foreign employers to conscript natives and employ them at a wage of £1 a month. If current reports are true, there is at present a thriving trade in the procurement of native labour in New Guinea for £6 a head. Apparently, we are getting very close to the old slave-trading days, which most of us believed had gone forever after the termi nation of the American civil war. I do not want, it to be thought that I believe that the commission has not done some good for the native people. As honorable members will recall, the commission was established in 1947 with the support of the Chifley Labour Government. Australia contributes 30 per cent, of the cost of its maintenance. I understand that last year the. expenditure of the commission amounted to £.168,000.
– It was £149,000.
– The figure I have cited was given to- me by an executive officer of the commission, flowever, I am prepared to accept the cost stated by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan).
– That is the cost as shown in the commission’s report.
– Order ! The honorable member must address the Chair.
– I understand that, in the main, the commission concentrates its activities on research into the development of crops suitable for cultivation in New Guinea and other areaof the South Pacific under its jurisdiction. That is all to the good; but the commission might also take steps to ensure that land in New Guinea and other territories under its control shall not be acquired by foreign investors to the detriment of the native peoples. The natives should be encouraged to till their own soil, to become skilled in the marketing of their products and to remain independent of foreign investors whose only interest in the islands and territories is to exploit the natives and the natural resource* which are their heritage.
– That is why the Government sacked Colonel Murray.
– I believe that Colonel Murray was sacked because he took measures to prevent the exploitation of the natives by foreign investors. X wholeheartedly agree with the suggestion made by the honorable member for Flinders, that this Government should arrange for members of this Parliament to attend as observers the next South Pacific conference which, I understand, is to be held in Noumea in April, 1953; The Minister should ascertain from th” commission whether it is possible to secure suitable accommodation for such observers and also whether it is practicable to arrange a tour of inspection by members of all the interested parliaments, of the areas under its jurisdiction.. Such a tour would he even, more enlightening to those who took part in it than would attendance at the conference because the members of the party would be able to examine at first hand the efficacy of the commission’s work. The Government should not be niggardly in providing funds to enable the commission to carry out its work. I have much pleasure in supporting the remarks made by the honorable member for Flinders and some of the remarks made by the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne). I trust that the Minister will give serious thought to my suggestion that members. of this Parliament be given an opportunity not only to attend the South Pacific conference but also to undertake a tour of inspection of the areas under the jurisdiction of the commission.
. - in reply - The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) may be regarded as the spokesman of his party as he was the only Opposition member who rose to discuss this important subject. I must confess to some personal astonishment that the Opposition, which had a large share in the establishment of the South Pacific Commission, should have so much lost interest in it in the intervening years that when an opportunity was given to discuss the work of the commission only one Opposition member took advantage of it. [Quorum formed.’] It is true that honorable members opposite have just made a further contribution to the debate when the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) called for a quorum, but as that is his usual practice whenever he wishes to interrupt a speaker I cannot regard his contribution on this occasion as being weightier than any that he has made to other debates. The honorable member for Hindmarsh seems to have a mistaken idea about what the nature and functions of the South Pacific Commission are. He discussed a number of matters with which it is not within the competence of that body to deal. I point out that the South Pacific Commission has been formed by agreement between several governments, not in order to carry out the responsibilities that properly come within the province of each of them separately, but in order to provide a means of co-operation between them. It is an international body that has been established to promote co-operation and so facilitate the work that each of those governments must do.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh proceeded to speak about some of the work that he thought the commission should do. His first criticism, which would be quite legitimate if it were well founded, was that it had not given sufficient attention to the economic welfare of the native peoples in the areas with which it is concerned. That was a very ill-founded state ment because much of the work that the commission is doing, and in which the Australian Government is co-operating, is precisely in the field of economic welfare of the native peoples of the South Pacific. Looking at the reports that 1 have before me, I find that the matters that the commission discussed at its recent session included the introduction and distribution of economic plants and investigation by specialist officers of cash crops by means of which the natives will be better able to sustain their own social advancement by raising their own village income. They also included a project to control pests, diseases, and weeds that affect those crops. Another project was the economic development of coral atolls upon which so large a proportion of the native peoples in these areas are situated. A glance at the record of the commission will show that matters relating to agriculture, the improvement of food production and the better use of land have been steadily investigated year by year by its officers and those who have taken part in its sessions. Side by side with these activities it has dealt with problems of native health and education. So, quite contrary to the ignorant suggestion made by the sole representative of the Labour party who has taken part in this debate, the South Pacific Commission is doing quite a deal to foster the economic welfare of the native peoples with which it is concerned.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh also made the extraordinary statement that the commission should do certain things in connexion with labour conditions in Papua and New Guinea. I repeat that the object of the formation of the commission was not to hand over to it the administrative functions of any of the governments represented on it. The commission is not governing French, Australian, Dutch or American territory. The administrative functions of each of those governments are still the responstibility of the particular government concerned. Responsibility for labour conditions in Papua and New Guinea still rests with the Australian Government. It would be quite legitimate for the honorable member to attack this Government, or the Administration of Papua and New Guinea, by claiming that that territory was not being properly governed; but he showed ignorance when he made a charge in that respect against the commission. As he has raised the subject, I turn to labour conditions in Papua and New Guinea. The basis of the post-war order in Papua and New Guinea was laid by one of my predecessors, the honorable member for East Sydney, and I should have thought that following the whispered conversation that took place between thai, honorable member and the honorable member for Hindmarsh, such as they frequently engage in in this House, the for.mer would have told his colleague what, he did in respect of labour ordinances in Papua and New Guinea, and the honorable member for Hindmarsh, having received his instructions in the usual way would have avoided falling into egregious error when discussing this subject, about which he is so illinformed. Labour in Papua and New Guinea is governed by ordinances that were passed constitutionally and ;ire open to review by this Parliament if it feels disposed to review them. Our methods with respect to labour in that territory compare favorably with those that have been adopted in =.ny other comparable territory. The ordinances govern the engagement of labour, the conditions under which work shall be performed, and the supervision of all aspects of labour, including contract rates of remuneration, whilst the amenities that have been provided are carefully regulated and supervised by the officers of the territorial administration. I shall not pretend that every aspect of labour administration is perfect, but I owe it to the large number of efficient and devoted officers of the administration to say-
– Including Colonel Murray?
– I have no complaint to make about Colonel Murray in respect of his administration of labour ordinances in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. During his period of office he administered them faithfully for two and a half years under this Government, as he did under a Labour government. “We have no complaint on that score at all. My complaint is that the honorable member for Hind marsh, who was the sole representative of the Opposition to take part in this debate, was so ignorant of the whole subject that he spoke about matters which are not the concern at all of the South Pacific Commission. If that is typical of the Labour party’s approach to grave international problems of this kind what hope can be entertained for that party in this respect ?
Mr. Clyde Cameron interjecting,
– -Order ! The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) must contain himself.
– I rise to order. The Minister is discussing a motion for the printing of a ministerial statement that relates to the South Pacific Commission, but he is giving a dissertation about the administration of labour ordinances in. Papua and New Guinea. I submit that he is not in order in proceeding along those lines.
– I must rule that the remarks that the Minister is making do not come within the terms of the motion. The subject which he is now discussing was referred to by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, but the honorable gentleman must confine himself to the terms of the motion.
– I shall try very carefully to observe your ruling, Mr. Speaker. I strayed because there had been a certain, amount of straying in the same direction before. In considering the work of the South Pacific Commission, and noting the value of the work that it has done in the various fields of economic and social welfare, as well as in promoting closer cooperation among the nations of the South Pacific, we, as members of the National Parliament, should pay a tribute to those who have represented us on the commission. Indeed, since the commencement of the work of that body, we have been very well represented on it. Wo have had a succession of commissioners and we are now represented by a special commissioner, Mr. Halligan, who, until recently, was aided by an assistant commissioner, Professor Shatwell. This House should pay tribute to the good work that they have done in representing Australia on that body. In addition, I think we should recognize, with national pride, the fact that in this particular field Australia has undertaken real leadership of the South Pacific. I think it can be said, without exaggeration, that Australia is the backbone of the South Pacific Commission and, as far as this Government is concerned, it is intended that Australia shall remain the backbone of the commission, not only in its financial contribution, but also in the making available of officers for the work of the commission, and our participation in its work. I think our record is one of which this House should be proud. I am pleased that at length this House has found an opportunity to discuss so important an aspect of our work in this region.
Question resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from the 5th June (vide page 1593, Vol. No. 21.7), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the following papers be printed: - International Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 4th June, 1952; and
United Nations - General Assembly - Sixth Session, Paris, November, 1051 - February, 11)52 - Summary Report of Australian Delegation
– I do not propose to traverse in detail the various subjects in this draft report. There are 39 items. Insofar as the report deals with the activities of the United Nations, I believe it to be not out of order for us to say something about our attitude towards that body. Are we, as a matter of fact, genuinely co-operative with the present action of the United Nations in Korea ? We are, to the extent that our troops are engaged. I believe that yesterday the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) very rightly remarked that our troops in Korea were defending Australia. That is true not only in the sense in which he made the observation, but also in the sense that, by our participation in the United Nations, we are establishing an obligation on the part of other nations to come to our aid should we ever be attacked. In that sense our participation in the Korean War does, in a very real way, assure the safety of the northern part of Australia. There remain, however, other factors. For example, ..statements have been, made by
Australian citizens such as Dr. John W. Burton, Mr. Gietzelt and Mr. Ernest Thornton, to the effect that the United Nations is conducting in Korea a war of aggression. If Australia is at war thos? statements amount substantially tn treason. Suppose, for example, that during the last war a citizen of Sydney had said that we were conducting a war of aggression against Hitler. Would that statement have been treasonable or not? I submit that it would have been. I am wondering what 13 the statusof these statements. Do they, in fact, constitute treason or do they not? I do “not pretend to know the law on the matter, and it may well be that it is defective and should be amended. But at least let us face the position and try to decide whether, when we are at war as a member of the United Nations, we are at war a.an Australian people. I believe that to he a question which this House has so far left undetermined and one to which we might very well turn our minds. I have said that these statements were treasonable in substance and in intention. Whether or not they were treasonable in law I do not know. We should perhaps clarify the situation.
If one examines the items in the report before us it is very easy to see that they show a trend. The first substantive items, for example, other than the formal business are : Problem of the Independence of Korea; Relief and Rehabilitation of Korea; International Control of Atomic Energy and Disarmament; Report of the Collective Measures Committee; Threats to the Political Independence and Territorial Integrity of China; Admission of New Members; Complaint by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of Aggressive Acts of the United States of America ;. Threats to Greece; and Repatriation of Greek Children. All of those items have a single characteristic. They relate to the conflict which is at present taking place in the world between our way of life and aggressive communism. In fact, the problem of the United Nations to-day, as is shown in its agenda, is the problem of how we can meet and defeat these aggressive Communist designs. That, being the pattern of the history of these days, seems to run as a thread through all the discussions and determinations of the United Nations. No less significant, perhaps, are some of the omissions. We have lacked courage in the United Nations. We ha ve been too unready perhaps to say what we thought about aggression and to demand that aggression be punished or at any rate that the aggressor be deprived of the fruits of his crime. Nothing, I think, is more shameful than the way in which we have abandoned Poland. Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and those other countries which have fallen de facto behind the iron curtain. This was aggression. We know it was aggression yet we do nothing about it because we are afraid to bring the matter out into the open. We are afraid of the consequences. Those who are afraid of the consequences of exposing a crime, who condone it by cowardice, are likely indeed to reap those rewards which cowardice so often brings. These omissions from the agenda are significant indeed. The fact that we have been unwilling to take a. stand on them during the last five or six years since the aggression took place argues, . 1. am afraid, an uncomfortable weakness on our part. It is of no we to try to wipe these things off, by pretending that those 100,000,000 or 200,000,000 people never existed. After all, we remember that we went to war with Hitler in 1939 because of the invasion of Poland, butwe did not carry out our guarantee to the Polish people. We were misled, perhaps, at Yalta, where the world was betrayed very largely by reason of the clever manoeuvres of a man named Alger Eliss, who sat at the right hand of the President of the United States of America, a sick old man. Hiss, being a member of the Communist party, . secretly patterned the war aims of the United Nations in the way that Russia desired. Let us remember these things, and let us remember also that the Australian Government of that time, led by the present Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) in its external dealings, because he was then Minister for External Affairs, supported these things - innocently, perhaps, or mistakenly. All right ! If it was mistakenly, then let those who composed and supported that Government try to make amends for what they then did, for their past mistakes, by talcing a firm attitude now. After all, they can well say, “ We were wrong. We were misled. We did not know”. But the consequence of their error is that many tens of millions of human beings, are now living in slavery. If members of the Opposition are honest. they will recognize their error. They will confess it and try to undo some of the terrible harm that they did - that is, if they did it innocently. But if, of course, they were, in a sense, guilty participants in the process, then perhaps their attitude will be a little different. Perhaps it will be a little more in consonance with that which the Opposition has shown over the last few years in relation to this matter. Perhaps the crux of the matter is whether or not one believes thatthe present Russian regime is an evil thing. If one does not believe that it is, perhaps the policy which members of the Opposition espoused when they composed the Government may bo regarded as a reason able policy. If one believes that Russia is merely a little difficult, a little misguided, but that Communists are good people at heart, and that the Communist regime, first cousin of the socialist regime, is not very bad after all, then the attitude that the Opposition has evidenced by it? policy becomes clear and reasonable enough. But if one believes, as I do, that the present regime in Russia is absolutely an evil thing, and represents the force of militant evil at work in this world, then one will take a somewhat different attitude. Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition will forgive me if I characterize his attitude in the past on these matters in the following way, which seems to sum it up : -
I love Uncle Stalin,
His voice is so warm,
And if I don’t hurt him,
He’ll do me no harm.
I’ll not tease his “Reds “
Or drive them away
But the Commos and I
So gently will play.
Those are things that we should bear in mind when we come to consider the fundamental issues that He before us in respect of the United Nations, and that are set out in this paper. Que of the most effective instruments, the operations of ‘which are referred to in this report, an.d with which we all ave familiar, is the so-called “ peace movement “ which the Communists are sponsoring. It 13, of course, a phoney movement, because it is not directed towards peace. It is bogus. It is intended to disarm us, to prevent us from, preparing to defend ourselves against the aggression for which the Russians, who are sponsoring it, are preparing. You will remember, Mr. Speaker, the old Latin motto, Si vis pacem, para helium. That means, “If you wish for peace, prepare for war “. 1 suggest that the motto for the present phoney peace movement should be, Si vis helium, para pacem. That means, “If you wish for war, prepare for peace “, and seems to me to characterize the aims and intentions of the Russians.
There are other things that arise from this report. We can see from it the way in which the operations of the United Nations have been hampered by the adroit manner in which the Communists have used the right of veto in the Security Council. The consequence, of course, has been that matters could not always- be brought to finality in the report of the General Assembly that we have before us. I wonder sometimes, and I do not doubt that even members of the Opposition share my bewilderment, whether it is right, in these matters of criminal jurisdiction, that the criminal himself should be allowed to remain on the judge’s bench. After all, the United Nations is facing a criminal threat from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which is a criminal and aggressor nation. We do Our own moral cause no good by allowing this criminal aggressor nation to remain on the judge’s bench. Perhaps, as a result of the shackles of the agreement that brought the United Nations into being,, it is difficult for us to do otherwise. That may well be and I, for one, would not counsel any abandonment of our support of the United Nations or its organizations. I point out, however, that its operations have been hamstrung, and its moral influence has been diminished, by the fact that the criminal nation, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, sits on the judge’s bench at the United Nations. Some people may say, “Well, that is all to the good. At least we keep them talking and while wc keep th.’-n talking all is not lost “. That would perhaps be a dominant argument if it were true, beyond dispute, that time was on our side. I, for one, am by no means convinced of the validity of that proposition, because, in the last few years, while we have been talking Russia has been arming, has been extending its military power and acquiring the atomic arms that it did not have four or five years ago. Is time on our side?
Aggression is indivisible nowadays. The old policy, drawn from the experience of British diplomacy in the nineteenth century, is no longer applicable. We do very wrong, and we shall have neglected the lesson that those British diplomats taught us, if we try to apply their conclusions without taking cognizance of the changed conditions that may invalidate those conclusions. In those former days no country could prepare, within its own borders, effective aggression against the rest of the world; thus, it was possible to say, as the diplomats and statesmen of those days said, “It is not our business how this country or that country governs its internal affairs. Let us keep to our own concerns “. That was right then, because the power to strike decisively outside its borders did not belong to any one nation. But the coming of new weapons has made that untrue, and invalidates the premises upon which this nineteenth century argument was based. I fancy that if a Disraeli or a Gladstone were to appear to-day he would be the first to pour contempt on us for endeavouring to follow those old precepts, letter by letter, without taking into consideration how the world has changed since they were formulated. The great British statesmen of the nineteenth century and the latter part of the eighteenth century realized that their policy had to be adapted to circumstances and they drew up principles which were valid and proper for the circumstances existing in nineteenth century Europe. But those principles do not apply to-day. To illustrate how little they apply let me refer in conclusion to one item in the report that we are now discussing. I refer to the control of atomic energy - something that humanity must achieve if it is to survive and something that we arp trying- to achieve but which Russia is trying to thwart in a very clever way just as, by means of its so-called peace proposals, it is preparing for war.
-Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- My words shall be few. Indeed, I should not have risen hut for the inspiration that I have received from the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). In this community we have seen the sudden upsurge and rapid growth of an ti- American sentiment. It is appropriate, I believe, in this debate which touches upon the work of the United Nations, that I should try to analyse that growth, determine its origin, seek its stimulus, and gauge its effect on this community. The honorable member for Mackellar spoke by implication about loyalty to the United Nations ; but surely it is obvious that the United Nations is a vague, intangible, aggregation of countries, banded together in a cause, and espousing certain political or ideological philosophy. The hostility to the United States of America is subtle. It is insinuated obliquely, and J submit, with all due respect, that the Fourth Estate, the press of this country, has, by design or otherwise, played a very prominent part in this campaign. I refer particularly to the columnists of the daily press - those pundits, “ knowalls “, and bright young men who career around the globe. These latter day prophets on foreign affairs, the status of nations, and elementary questions of right and wrong, relevant to the work of the United Nations or otherwise, are, generally, freaks, cranks, or what the Americans call “ long-hairs “. Vast prestige is attached also to modern pseudo scientists such as a certain eminent individual in the Department of Agriculture of New South Wales who recently returned from a visit abroad to tell us his interesting story about germ warfare in Korea. He knew that what he said was true ! He had been shown evidence of this barbarous attempt by the Americans to spread throughout a nation of 300.000,000 or 400,000.000 people, the bacteria of tvphus, dysentry, and other violent and infectious plasties ! Apparently the only qualification required of any individual who seeks to be regarded as an authority, is a. university degree, in spite of the fact that many such degrees are issued by the dozen, like the products of the proverbial sausage machine. One has merely to write a column headed, “ As I see it “ and the whole world is one’s horizon. The naive, unsophisticated people of the British Commonwealth of Nations are willing to grovel at one’s feet, and to accept one’s word on almost anything.
The insidiously aroused anti-American feeling that is so much in evidence to-day not only presents a physical and moral danger to this community, but also constitutes base ingratitude and treachery to a nation to which we were only too eager to appeal for assistance in our darkest hour of peril. We Australians are extraordinary people.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– If honorable members who have said “ Hear, hear ! “ are referring to me, they must also include themselves because they, too, are Australians. We all are Australians and we are extraordinary because we are so credulous. A man goes abroad. He returns and says that germ warfare is being carried on. He virtually tells us, “ Abolish the United Nations. Disregard its investigation. Consign the Red Cross Society to the limbo of forgotten things. I know that germ warfare is being carried on. I saw the evidence. I saw some mosquitoes, truncated and disembowelled. Quite obviously they were being used for thai nefarious and foul purpose”.
I was immensely intrigued recently when I read an article about Argentina and Eva Peron. It was written by one of the pundits to whom I have referred. Are we to believe that the people of that great prosperous South American republic are so naive, simple, and unsophisticated, that they are oblivious to the growth of what this scribe referred to as “ a great modern tyranny”? Another pundit goes abroad and he finds in Germany valid evidence that Martin Bormann is still alive, hiding in a monastery, nurturing a plan that would do credit to Hitler himself for the resurrection of Germany and the enslavement of the world. That is what we read in our press, and I have no doubt that. some people give credence to it; but is it not extraordinary that all the vice should be on one side? No individual and no nation is perfect, but my point is that the Fourth Estate, in giving space to such utter nonsense, is doing a great disservice to this country. “We on this side of the chamber, at least, have every reason to resent the attempt to belittle the great American people in the eyes of the Australian public. If a gross of these pundits of the press, university professors, and other self-styled authorities on economics, politics, and foreign affairs, were laid on the floor side by side, within half an hour they would be facing in 144 different directions.
To-day, in Palestine and on the shores of Lebanon, there are 1,000,000 dispossessed Arabs. Those men, women and children have been driven forcibly from their homes, and have lost all their worldly possessions. Do the scribes and other authorities allude to the inhumanity that is so obvious in a mass migration of displaced persons?’ Of course, they do not ! T have heard references aci nauseum to dictatorships that. a,re exercised in. one country or another country, and to the repression that is so evident in Formosa and in other parts of the world. We know that misery, poverty and crime stalk the earth, yet those imperfections are not characteristic of one country and non-existent in another country. Although we grant the truth of that statement, the situation becomes extremely dangerous when press, radio and motion pictures give a distorted view of the position, suppress what we should know, and ultimately lower the morale of the community.
– What about the flying saucers?
– The flying saucers may be regarded as a physical example of the kind of distortion that I have mentioned. I return to the thought that T expressed at the beginning of my speech. Our continued existence in the Pacific will be impossible without the moral and material support of the great American nation. We should jealously preserve our friendship with the Ameri.ca.ns, and realize the our destiny is irrevocably and unalterably linked with their own. We should never be a. party, in any circumstances, to an anti-American prejudice. The Americans are a great race. Under the flag o! the United Nations they have proved their Christian, charitable outlook in such fields as education, succour and hospitalization. We should be proud to stand with them. I have participated in this debate in order to voice my protest at the prevailing tone of our press, and to express the hope that we in Australia shall always be on our guard against an insidious attempt to undermine what should be an everlasting alliance between the two countries.
.- The honorable member foi1 Gellibrand (Mr. Mullens), having hearkened to the pundits, must now suffer a simple soul, as I address myself to the subject of interna tiona! affairs. It is most unfortunate that such a long time has elapsed sine* the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) made his - statement on international affairs to the House. In point of fact, he delivered his statement on the 4th June last, and a great deal has happened in the world since then. It mighhave been more useful, and it certainly would have been more convenient, had his statement been fully debated at that time. However, the debate was interrupted, and the House went into recess., and we must resume the discussion now from that point.
No great conflict exists between the views expressed by the Minister and those expressed to-day by Opposition speakers. I listened with a great deal of interest to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). He contributed his usual quota of carping criticisms, yet there was no conflict between his views and the Minister’s speech. I propose to take this opportunity to explain to the Australian people, as far as I am able to do so, the sequence of events that brought into existence the Peking peace offensive; but before I do so, I point out that a study of international affairs, no matter how elementary or exhaustive it may be, must give us cause for serious concern - the quantity and quality of serious concern that can ultimately mean fear. Up to this point in our history, that word has been alien to the Australian people.
Fear ! A study of the international situation to-day must excite in the minds of responsible men and women concern, and oven fear. Because of that, if for no other reason, it is necessary for us to apply ourselves to a study of the Minister’s statement in order that we may refresh our memories of the prevailing circumstances.
Prior to World War I., Australia was a component of a strong and resolute empire, and because of that, we had no great cause for concern, and we certainly had no cause for fear. Nor were we afraid. Prior to World War II., Australia was still a component of a strong and resolute empire that had served mankind faithfully and well for centuries. We had no cause for concern, and definitely no cause for fear. But since World War II., largely because of our political tendencies, we have witnessed the disintegration of the BritishEmpire, and the substitution of that loose arrangement of nations called the British Commonwealth of Nations. In my humble opinion, it is largely because of that process that every good Australian who studies international affairs must have cause for concern, if not. fear.
To-day, we are a handful of British people, who subscribe to the British conception of life and living. We are isolated in the Pacific, hemmed in in an arc of an inner circle by no fewer than 600,000,000 people racially different from ourselves, with a different religion, different standards, different ideas and different aspirations from ourselves. So far, they have demonstrated a friendliness towards us, but beyond them are the hordes in the Communist countries. A handful of Australians is isolated, alone, in this part of the world. Those are our circumstances ; they have never been so grave. At the present moment the Minister for External Affairs is at Honolulu trying to devise a Pacific pact that will give a degree of security to the people of this country and also to those of New Zealand and the United States of America. Please God he will be successful. Let us hope that the tripartite pact will be of intrinsic value to this part of the world. But even now there is a tendency for two comparatively weak nations, New Zealand and Australia, to ally themselves exclu sively with a strong nation, the United States of America. I regret to say that both before the Minister left Australia and also during the deliberations that are faking place at Honolulu, indications have been apparent that the United Kingdom, and indeed what is now known as the British Commonwealth of Nations, are to be excluded from the Pacific pact. I offer no criticism of the United States of America, but I express my personal disappointment at the failure of that country to recognize that if Australia and New Zealand commit themselves to a tripartite pact in the Pacific they will also commit their Mother Country, the United Kingdom, and the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. It is unthinkable that Australians should be in danger without also involving the peoples of the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa and other British Commonwealth countries. In my humble opinion it is a pity that the British Commonwealth of Nations should be excluded from the Pacific pact that is now being drafted.
The prelude to war has always been a peace offensive, just as the prelude to assassination almost invariably consists of overt acts of friendship. Our enemies to-day are using peace offensives as a very effective weapon. I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). who, when addressing himself to the ministerial statement on international affairs on the 5th June last, stated -
An example was the so-called peace conferences in Peking about which so much has been heard. Viewed impartially, they do represent propaganda gatherings. Normally they might be of little account, but their special danger is that they are calculated to weaken the morale and otherwise to disturb and confuse the solidarity of the United Nations.
It must be admitted that there are people who are unaware of the nature of this peace offensive. It is necessary that some one should state the sequence of events which finally led up to the conference held in Peking on the 28th May and to the conference which is to be held during the next few weeks. It is my purpose briefly to refer to those events. In my opinion it is necessary for our people to know that the peace conference of the Asian and Pacific regions had its genesis in the Cominform, the Communist Information Bureau, in September, 1.947. The first meeting of the Cominform declared that the people of the world could be rallied to the cause of peace to prevent war. It is interesting to note the sequence of events which followed that decision.
In August, 1948, n world congress of intellectuals was convened to be held in the German city that used to be called Breslau and is now known as Wroclaw. We in Australia would not know what an intellectual is, but because of the blind admiration that the illiterate people of the world have for intellectuals in all their forms, they pay homage in a manner that is beyond our comprehension. It was the intellectuals who sealed our fate, as far as this conference was concerned.
The next conference was held in April, 1949. It is interesting to note that it was convened to be held in Paris, but some of the delegates who were to attend the conference were unacceptable to the French Government, which refused to issue to them vises to visit that country. As a result, while the Paris conference was sitting, a subsidiary conference of excluded persons sat at Prague. In April, 1949, the World Peace Congress established a world peace committee with a permanent bureau and “ national peace, committees “. In October, 1949, the first meeting of the world peace committee was held in Rome. On the 28th October, 1949, Cominform resolutions were passed to the effect that organization and consolidation of the forces of peace should now become the pivot of the entire activity of the Communist parties. The second plenary meeting of the world peace committee was held in March, 1950. That meeting launched what came to be known as the “ Stockholm appeal “, which demanded the banning of atomic weapons and the mass extermination of populations.
In November, 1950, almost two years ago, a second world peace congress was convened to be held at Sheffield, in the United Kingdom. The Labour Government of that country found that a great many of the delegates who were to attend the congress were unacceptable to it and to the British people. It therefore vefused to issue vises for those persons to visit Great Britain. As had happened in Paris two years before, the congress divided itself. One conference was held in Sheffield and another at Warsaw. A world peace council was established at that time.
In. February, 1.951, the first session of the world peace council, as it came to be known, launched an appeal for a fivepower peace pact, and approved the proposal for the organization of a conference of the countries of Asia and thi’ Pacific to discuss problems arising from the rearmament of Japan and to seek a peaceful solution of present conflicts. That, in fact, was the beginning of what came to be called the Peking peace offensive.
In October, .1.951, the All-India peace council decided that the meeting should be held in Peking. In November of that year a second session of the world peace committee recommended that all friends of peace in Asia and the Pacific area, including the people of Japan, should convene a regional peace conference at the earliest suitable date, the purpose of the conference being to achieve a peaceful solution of the difficulties and conflicts that exist in this part of the world. In July, 1952. a third session of the world peace committee passed resolutions for the termination of the Korean conflict and the preparation of a. new treaty with Japan, calling on all the ‘peoples of Asia to mobilize their strength for the Peking peace congress in September, 1952. On the 21st March. 1952, the Chinese-nominated sponsers of the Peking peace conference sent a cable to the Australian Committee for Peace in the Pacific which expressed the hope that Australia would take part in the joint sponsoring of the peace conference to be held in September. A peace council in our country resolved to send representatives and they selected persons whose political affiliations were consistent with those of the council. The Australian Committee for Peace in the Pacific seems to have been originally established about. May, 1951, iti order to oppose ratification of the Japanese peace treaty, which has now been ratified. It was then known as the “Non-ratification of Japanese Peace
Treaty Committee”. Early in 1952 its name was changed to “ Committee for Peace in the Pacific “ when the Australian Parliament ratified the. peace treaty. While these people in our country are mouthing pious expressions in favour of peace the people of South-East Asia are being supplied with a different kind of propaganda. An editorial in Pravda, dated the 4th June, 1952, reads -
The bestial face of American imperialism, the most rapacious gungsterish imperialism of modern time, is more and more clearly revealed before the peoples of the world. American imperialists by perpetrating monstrous, unheard ofcrimes are following the path of Hitler’s tyranny, the path of bloody banditry. In the sinister task of deceiving the masses., the American warmongers are following the criminal example of Hitlers Fascists. Slander and lies, hypocrisy and demagogy, zoological principles of honour and morals - all these were in the arsenal of Hitler’s Fascists; all these are now serving the rapacious aims of the American imperialists.
This editorial was published by the same people who have sponsored the peace offensive to which I have referred. On the 12th June the following statement was made over Peking radio : -
The president of the Chinese Bed Cross alleged on 12th June that Americans were subjecting prisoners of war to “‘such inhumanities as starvation, whipping, torture, hanging, strangulation, poisoning . . . and using them as objects for testing chemical, atomic and bacteriological weapons “.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Davidson) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- On a number of occasions questions have been asked in this House regarding the disposal of the Glen Davis shale oil plant. Certain assurances were given to the House as to the use that would be made of that machinery once the works had been closed down. One of these assurances was that the plant would be sent to Bell Bay to be used in connexion with the aluminium project. Honorable members were assured that although the Glen Davis works would be closed this valuable machi nery would still be of great importance in relation to national development. Therefore, we watched with interest to see what the Government proposed to do in disposing of the machinery. Opposition members suggested that this valuable plant which had been purchased with public money would not be used in any national project but would be disposed of in the form of a bargain sale to private interests.
Now, the Minister has admitted that it is no longer intended to send the plant to Bell Bay and, as an excuse, bus stated that there would be difficulty in arranging for the distribution of 16,000,000 gallons of petrol which would be available for distribution as a result of the transfer of the plant to Bell Bay and its operation in that area. The Minister stated that, because no satisfactory arrangements could be made for the distribution of this petrol, the Government had decided to dispose of the plant to private interests. That brings me to a rather interesting point. All sorts of rumours have circulated as to the particular interests that were endeavouring to secure this plant. I heard rumours in regard to people who were hanging round in the corridors of the Federal Parliament. No doubt these people knew more about the matter than did many honorable members because, if the Government had been determined to use this plant at Bell Bay, obviously it would not have been available to other interests and there was no reason for their representatives to be here. But those people were net here to waste their time; they knew what they were about.
Government supporters have frequently referred to the impartiality and freedom of the press which they have alleged is always anxious to publish any information which they consider to be for the public good and is never guilty of the suppression of important information which it would be to the advantage of the public to make known. In my hand I have what is termed a “ house memo.” from the Sun newspaper in Sydney. I have been given to understand that a house memo is a paper which circulates in a newspaper office and which contains directions from the man in charge to the rest of the staff. This house memo, which was circulated in the office of the Sun is dated the 20th May, 1952, and reads as follows:News Editor,
If any further reference crops up to an offer by Mr. Samuel McMahon, or a syndicate of which he is a member, to take over Glen Davis shale oil plant, no mention must be made of the fact that Mr. Samuel McMahon is a brother of the Minister for Air, Mr. William McMahon. Please let me see any copy that may come to you on the subject.
John Goodge A/Editor.
The Opposition would like some information in regard to the negotiations that have taken place on this matter. I do not imagine that these particular interests are likely to get the plant now. In order to prove that I am wrong the Government will, no doubt, be compelled to dispose of the plant to other interests. However, this is claimed to be a reputable newspaper which does not favour any political party. It has always refuted the contention of the Labour party that it was prejudiced against our policy. Yet it has issued the memo, that I have read. If the newspaper did not consider it to be important to suppress this fact why did it issue the house memo? Reverse the situation. Imagine that a Labour government intended to dispose of a public plant and that a Labour Minister’s brother was negotiating on behalf of some syndicate to secure it. Do honorable members think that the Sun newspaper would suppress the fact that there was a relationship between the Minister and the man who was conducting the negotiations? The action of the Government in relation to the disposal of this plant is typical of all its actions. It is a big business government, and itrepresents big business interests. It intends to have bargain sales not only of the Glen Davis plant, but also of other great public utilities and works that have been paid for by public money and established as a result of the efforts of previous Labour governments. It wants to do that with Trans-Australia Airlines and many other- projects. Therefore, the onus is on the Government to allow an investigation lo be made of this matter. Surely the Government will not say thin this is a matter purely for the people who control the newspaper ! The Government should recognize that there is a necessity for it to do whatever can be done to preserve the freedom of the pres.* that it has so often claimed existed in this country. I believe that the Australian people will be astonished and astounded to know that a daily newspaper of such long-standing as the Sun would lend itself to covering up wlm! appears to be a political intrigue r<> secure, at bargain rates, plant that was purchased with public money. 1 hope that the Government will conduct some sort of investigation in order tn clear up this matter. I do not now suggest that the deal that I have mentioned will proceed, but honorable members on this side would like to know at this stage what negotiations have taken place, whether the plant in question has been sold or arrangements have been made to sell it, and whether the particular syndicate on whose behalf Mr. Samuel McMahon has been negotiating is the one that has been successful in obtaining this plant.
– in reply - I do not desire to reply in any detail to the statements that have been made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). But in order to put the matter fairly into perspective, I say that all that the honorable member for East Sydney has done has been to produce from his pocket a piece of paper that he is not entitled to have, and which he has obtained surreptitiously from somewhore, and, on the strength of what lie has read, which is to the effect that if a certain thing happens something else is not to happen, has drawn the conclusion that that something else has happened. That does not demonstrate a logical process of thought, and is not the fair way of presenting facts followed by most persons in public life I should expect that an honorable member with as long an experience as that of the honorable mem her for East Sydney - but with, perhaps, a different habit of mind - would make such ii serious accusation not by innuendo or indirection, but by producing facts. Fie has merely offered to the House a remote allusion. On that he has tried to prove a case, and has made serious allegations. That is in keeping with the course that the honorable member has followed before. His method of attack is not by way of proof or definite statement, but by way of innuendo and indirection. Therefore, it carries no conviction.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for -
Defence purposes - Singleton, New SoUth Wales.
Postal purposes - Willow Creek, South Australia.
Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of Defence Production - L. Allan. J. B. Lawler, H. P. Wagstaff.
House adjourned at 5.58 p.m.
The following answers to question. were circulated: -*
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade anc) Customs, upon notice -
What was the quantity and value nf [w tractors (6) farm implements and (c) earth - moving equipment imported during each of vin- years 184.9-50, 1950-51 and 1951 -52 ?
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : -
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information: -
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice’ -
United States of America and (6) the United Kingdom in 1039 and in 1951?
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : -
i asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The anwsers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The estimated distribution of the 30,386 workers subject to employment direction at the end of April, 1952, between (c) metropolitan and (b) provincial and rural areas was (0) 18,670; (b)11,716.
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice - 1.Have discussions taken place between the Government and representatives of the private hanks regarding the future of the present Governor of the Commonwealth Bank? 2.Ifso, will hestate whether the discussions tookplace with a view to having the Governor replacedby Dr. Roland Wilson?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will hegive favorable consideration to providing rent-free telephones for bed-ridden invalids living in private homes?
– The answers to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
As a public undertaking administering a communications service for the benefit of the community generally, the department is obliged to provide telephone services on an impartial basis and this being so it can hardly discriminate between individuals in the matter nf applying the prescribed rental charges for telephone services. The question of providing rent-free telephone services for invalids in private homes has been considered carefully, but whilst the greatest sympathy is felt for these persons, it is regretted that the way is not clear to waive the usual rental charges in such cases.
Porta t. Department.
n asked, the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 August 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1952/19520807_reps_20_218/>.