20th Parliament · 1st Session
Mk. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took, the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Does the PostmasterGeneral really propose to increase charges under the Post and Telegraph Rates Act, or have the statements to that effect that have appeared in the press recently been made without authority?
– There is no proposal to increase the charges under thePost and Telegraph Rates Act. The statement made to the press was that, as a consequence of the basic wage increase, thePostal Department would incur very heavily increased costs. No proposal was made that there should be an increase of the rates, nor is any such proposal contemplated at this juncture.
– Will the Prime Minister state the Government’s policy in regard to postal, telegraph and telephone charges? Does the Government hold the view that any increase of such charges would impose undue hardship on all sections of the community? I should like the Government’s policy to ho made clear in this House.
– I do not propose to make any statement of policy because this is not ali appropriate time to do so, but i think this matter should bc put completely at rest lest there should be any doubt about it. I, myself, raised the matter when we had a Cabinet meeting this morning because I had seen some newspaper statements that were news to me. I point out, as a result of the discussion that took place, that the expense to be incurred by the Postal Department is dealt with in the Estimates that have been presented to the Parliament. It is one of the factors in the present budget. Therefore, I want to say, not only that there is no proposal before us in relation to increased postal charges, but also that no such proposal is in contemplation. I hope that statement will be perfectly clear.
– My question to thiMinister for Works is based on the fact that, in Victoria, the Stoneware Pipe Manufacturers Association has indicated for the past two years that it is in a position to make all the stoneware pipes that are required in Australia and that it has been adjusting its plant in order to ensure that the market shall not be over-supplied. Is it true that recently about 6 miles of stoneware pipes was imported by Commonwealth departments from Germany? If so, will the Minister state whether the Government will immediately cancel all orders for the importation of stoneware pipes and arrange for tenders to be let to Australian manufacturers who have stacks of pipes awaiting delivery in their yards and are in the desperate position of having to put off trained workers because their output cannot be sold?
– Some four months ago the Department of Works cancelled any overseas orders for stoneware pipes that could be cancelled. At that time, some orders were practically fulfilled and others were almost on the water. That action did not apply only to stoneware, pipes. I do not know the details of the matter that the honorable member lias raised, but I shall cause inquiries to be made and shall supply him with the details later, I assure him that no further orders are being placed overseas, and that any order for any material that could be cancelled was cancelled at least four months ago.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. What contribution is the Commonwealth making to the. eradication of tuberculosis in Australia and what proportion of the total sum that it is providing for this worthwhile cause is allocated to Tasmania?
– At the present time, the Commonwealth is finding roughly £6,000,000 a year for expenditure upon the eradication of tuberculosis in Australia, of which about £4,000,000 is for expenditure upon new buildings and the maintenance expenses of existing buildings, and about £2,000,000 for the payment of a special tuberculosis allowance to enable persons who are acutely infected with the disease to stay away from their work and to prevent them from becoming a menace, to the rest of the community. From 60 per cent, to 70 per cent, of the total sum that is being expended in connexion with tuberculosis in every State of the Commonwealth is being found by the. Com monwealth. I believe that Tasmania is finding about 36 per cent, of the expenditure in that State, and the Commonwealth 64 per cent. I think that Western Australia is finding 29 per cent., and the Commonwealth 71 per cent. The position in Victoria and New South Wales is the same as that in Western Australia. It would be false to suggest that in this matter there is any dilatoriness on the part of the Commonwealth. Iri fact, in order to expedite the eradication of tuberculosis in this country the Government has had to bring pressure to bear upon some States to do their share of the work.
– Is the Treasurer aware that in Victoria 5,000 exservicemen, who are fully qualified to take up land under the war service land settlement scheme, have little hope of ever obtaining farms, owing to the shortage of funds being made available for that purpose? Is not the provision of adequate funds for war service land settlement the direct responsibility of the Commonwealth, which should discharge its obligations to ex-servicemen? Is not the settlement of ex-servicemen upon the land one of the best ways of achieving the increased production of essential foodstuffs for which this Government is calling so urgently? Will the Treasurer . give earnest consideration to making a specific grant for this urgent and important purpose ?
– The Commonwealth offered to accept responsibility for war service land settlement in Victoria, but Victoria elected to be a principal State under the scheme, and. therefore, to accept complete responsibility in the matter.
– As I have experienced considerable difficulty iri obtaining information about the war service land settlement scheme in Queensland, I ask the Minister for the Interior whether the scheme has virtually ceased to operate in that State; and, if so, why? How is it that, Western Australia with a population less than half that of Queensland expended almost £3,000,000 on war service land settlement last year, whilst this year
Queensland has allocated only £676,500 for the same purpose, including the cost of road construction? I should also like to know why Queensland’s total expenditure on this scheme, since its inception, amounts to only £1,600,000, which is approximately naif the amount that Western Australia expended on the scheme last year?
– The answers to the questions that the honorable member has asked are much along the lines of those which the Treasurer gave a few moments ago to the honorable member for Wannon. Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, did not accept the offer of the Commonwealth to enter into an agreement whereby they would become agent States and the Commonwealth would find all the money required for war -en-ice land settlement. When soldier land settlement was first commenced, Western Australia, South Australia, anc! Tasmania, accepted the offer of the Commonwealth and became agent States. Queensland, New South Wale? anc! Victoria insisted upon controlling the whole of soldier land settlement in their respective boundaries and allocating in their own way moneys made available for this purpose. As a result the differentiation between the amounts expended on the scheme in Western Australia and in. Queensland to which the honorable member has referred has occurred. A. corresponding differentiation exists between the amounts expended by the three principal States and r.he three agent States. Since the scheme commenced, the three principal States have allocated a total sum of approximately £41,000,000 for soldier land settlement against a total of £25,000,000 allocated by the Commonwealth for Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania. This year the Commonwealth has allocated for this purpose the sum of £7,800,000 compared with a sum of a little over £6,000,000 that has been allocated by the three principal States; but in Queensland and New South Wales the allocations are so small that soldier land settlement in those States seems likely almost to come to a standstill. In Victoria, the allocation was reduced from £6,000,000 to £4,000,000, this reduction lining in proportion to the difference between the total sum which Victoria sought from the Loan Council and that which the Loan Council eventually made available to that State. I do not know how much land has been acquired in Queensland for soldier land settlement but the honorable member was correct in saying that up to date only £1,600,000 has been expended on the scheme in that State and that this year Queensland has allocated only £676,500 for that purpose.
– Will the Minister for Territories say whether, in view of the present state of development of the Northern Territory and the possibility of further intensive development there in the near future, the Government has considered the question of effective local government in the Darwin area and the Alice Springs area?
– The Government has given very careful consideration to the problem of local government in the Northern Territory. We believe that, both Darwin and Alice Springs are sufficiently large to control a great number of their local and municipal affairs. We believe also that if local government were introduced in those areas, it would have a very useful effect upon the political development and growth of the Northern Territory. During the period when the PostmasterGeneral was acting for the Minister for the Interior, an inquiry was instituted into this matter and subsequently a very valuable report was received from Mr. Leydin, the Government Secretary in the Northern Territory. In accordance with the recommendations made in the report we are preparing an ordinance, the general purpose of which is to provide that if the citizens of Darwin and Alice Springs are willing to undertake the responsibilities of local government in their own areas they shall be given an opportunity to do so. In the meantime, I am engaged in conversations with the Minister for Health, the Minister for Works and the Treasurer about some of the more detailed aspects of local government which would need to be considered in the event of a particular proposal for local government.
– As exemption from income tax on incomes derived from primary production within the. Northern Territory expired at the end of June last and in view of the uncertainty which arises from the absence of a statement of the Government’s intentions on taxation generally as it affects the Northern Territory, will the Treasurer make a statement on the matter without delay?
– My colleague, the Minister for Territories, will make a statement to the House to-day on the matter that has been referred by the honorable member for the Northern Territory.
– by leave - For about 30 years the taxation law has provided an exemption from tax on the income of residents of the Northern Territory derived from primary production, mining or fisheries in the territory. This exemption expired on the 30th June last. The Government has given very serious consideration to the question whether it should ask the Parliament to renew the exemption from taxation, and has decided that a new approach to the question would be in the best interests of the territory. The object of the exemption was to encourage settlement in the territory and the development of its primary industries. It is difficult to assess the extent to which the exemption has in fact served its purpose, but it is very doubtful whether it has been a major factor in bringing about settlement. Furthermore, the existence of the exemption has given rise to several anomalies, both as between residents of the territory and residents of adjoining areas, and as between different groups of taxpayers inside the territory.
The exemption related only to income derived directly and in. the first place from the three industries mentioned - primary production, mining and fisheries. The concession did not extend to employees in those industries or to persons engaged in ancillary activities, such as dam-sinking, fence construction, Sic. These taxpayers had the benefit, of a stone allowance - £120 or £20 per annum, according to whether they resided north or south of the Tropic of Capricorn - but otherwise they were taxed on the same basis as any other taxpayer in Australia. The extent of the disparity between complete freedom from tax, in the case of the selected industries, and the liability to tax in the case of all other income earned in the territory has. not unnaturally, caused adverse criticism.
Another feature of the exemption was that it was limited to residents of the territory. This requirement has encouraged the creation of an artificial status of residence - as, for example, by the formation of companies. The exemption did not, however, offer any encouragement to the investment ‘of capital in the territory by those who were unable to take up residence there. The Government has reached the opinion that better ways could be found to encourage the investment of new capital in the development of the territory and the re-investment of the profits derived from the territory. After receiving, (lie benefit of advice from the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation and from its own officers, and after taking into consideration the representations of local bodies and territory citizens, the Government has decided that the present exemption will be allowed to lapse a? from the 30th June, “1952. At the saint time, however, the Government proposes to cushion the termination of the exemption so that primary producers and persons engaged in mining in the Northern Territory will not be exposed to a heavy burden of taxation in tinyears immediately following that termination. It is proposed also to write, into the law a permanent taxation concession which should afford a strong inducement, much more effective than the general exemption, for the re-investment in the. territory of a substantial part of income derived from the territory.
Investment in structural improvements completed after the 30th June. 1952, on pastoral or agricultural properties in the territory will, at the option of the primary producer, be deducted in the year when the improvement is completed, or alternatively in instalments spread over five years. This special concession will apply to all structural improvements in respect of which depreciation would normally be allowable to primary producers for income tax purposes.
With regard to plant installed after the 30th June, 1952, the special 20 per cent. depreciation allowable to primary producers generally will, of course, apply to primary producers in the Northern Territory. Primary pro- ducers inthe Northern Territory will be also allowed to write off, at the rate of 20 per cent, per annum, the depreciated value of plant and structural improvements, but not including motor cars, owned bythem at the 1st July, 1952, and used for agricultural or pastoral purposes.
A full deduction will be allowed for the market selling value. of live-stock brought to account at the 1st July, 1952. If, however, the primary producer so desires, a deduction based on cost price of the live-stock will be allowed. This choice of deduction will afford primary producers the full benefit of the exemption to the30th June, 1952. A deduction will automatically be allowed for anylivestock losses suffered after the 30th June, 1.952. The value of the live-stock lost will be allowed as a deduction in the opening stock but will not be included as income in the closing values. Livestock on hand at the 30th June, 1953, will be brought to account at market selling value or at cost price, at the optionof the primary producer. Where live-stock is brought to account at market selling value as at the 1st July,1952, that value will be deemed to be the cost price of that particular stock at the 30th June, 1953, and subsequently, if the taxpayer elects cost price as the basis of valuing his live-stock.
Income from gold-mining in the Northern Territory will continue to be exempt from tax, in common with similar income earned in other parts of the Commonwealth and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. A person engaged in other mining operations in the Northern Territory will be subject to tax on income from those operations, but he will be able to deduct all capital expenditure incurred after the 30th June. 1952, on necessary plant and development of the mining property. The expenditure may be claimed, at the choice of the taxpayer, under any of the following methods : -
These deductions are based on the broad principle that, in the ultimate, the only mining profits to be taxed are those which are left after capital expenditure has been recouped.
Amounts expended by mine-owners onhousing and welfare buildings and other improvements for employees and their dependants will also be deductible. If it is anticipated that a mine will have a life of less than 25 years, this capital expenditure will be deducted over the estimated: life of the mine. If, however, the prospective life of the mine is in excess of 25 years, the capital expenditure will be deducted on the basis that the maximum life of the mine is 25 years. This will ensure that the expenditure shall be deducted within a reasonable period. Mine owners will also be allowed a deduction for plant on hand at the 30th June, 1952. The depreciated value of that plant may he claimed as deductions, at the option of the owner, over the estimated life ofthe plant or the estimated life of the mine.
The Government is examining further plans for the settlement and development of the territory, mainly in the interests of expanded food production. To this end, another taxation concession which is receiving consideration is a concessional allowance in respect of expenditure incurred after the 30th June, 1952, in the erection or purchase of dwellings in the territory. A. further announcement in. this regard will be made at an early date. Residents of the territory will, of course, continue to receive the benefit of the zone deduction, which is £120 or £20per annum according to the place of residence.
Mr.Calwell. - Is there any proposal to alter the law in regard to taxing the proceeds of pearl fishing?
– No proposal is made in regard to fisheries. Only two craft are fishing out of Darwin port now, and the fisheries industry is not of great consequence at the moment.
– So the law will remain unchanged?
– The exemption in relation to fishing will lapse.
– Can the i.’ri.me Minister say whether it is true that the vice-president of the Metal Trades Employers Association has called upon the Government to help his association to stop the making of quarterly adjustments to the basic wage caused by increases that have already taken place in the cost of living? ls it true that quarterly adjustments to the basic wage are made only after some fluctuation in living costs has already occurred ? Does the Government consider that, while costs of living are rising, the workers should be denied the benefit, of quarterly adjustments of the basic wage ? If not, will the Government oppose all efforts by employers to deny this benefit to the workers of Australia?
– I am unable to say offhand whether any letter has come to me or to the Government from the Metal Trades Employers Association. I know, however, that the Government has made it: abundantly clear that all questions which are now pending, such as quarterly adjustments of the basic wage, standard hours, &c, are within the sole jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and the Government does not propose to take sides, and thereby convert what ought to be a proper process before the court into a political argument.
– Last Thursday, in answer to a question, the Minister for Supply said that there were difficulties associated with transferring the Glen Davis refining plant to Tasmania to be used in conjunction with the aluminium project, there. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to a statement by the honorable member for East Sydney in which he suggested that a syndicate repre sented by the brother of the Minister for
Air was interested in acquiring the plant ? Is that statement true, and can the Minister state the facts?
– As might be expected, the innuendoes contained in the statement of the honorable member for East Sydney are quite false. The facts are that when the Glen Davis refinery was closed down and it was decided to dispose of the assets, we called public tenders. Several tenders were received, one of which was from a syndicate repreen ted by Mr. S. McMahon. We had a look at that tender, and as long ago as the 6th May last the Cabinet sub-committee of which I was a member rejected it out of hand because it proposed terms which were unacceptable to the Government. The tender as originally submitted contained no reference to the cracking or refining plant, but in response to an inquiry by the receiver u vague suggestion was received that the refining plant might be run by the syndicate in Tasmania on behalf of the Government. However, the tender as a whole was unacceptable to the Government, and was rejected. The position is that nobody seems to want the refining plant. Certainly no one has tendered for it. Therefore, we propose to sell the assets in the normal way, and all those who bid for the assets will be on equal terms. So far as I know Mr. McMahon is not interested in the matter. If he is, he will have to take his chance with all comers.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Air been drawn to the allegations of the honorable member for East Sydney that the Sun newspaper staff was issued with instructions that any item which referred to negotiations by a certain person for the acquisition of the Glen Davis plant were not to contain any reference to the fact that that person was a brother of the Minister. Does the Minister know anything about the instructions to the staff of the Sun newspaper or the negotiations to which they referred? Can the Minister say whether there is any justification for the innuendo of the honorable member for East Sydney?
– My attention ha? been drawn to a statement of the honorable member for East Sydney which contained an innuendo that I was in some way associated with an attempt to purchase the assets of the Glen Davis shale oil undertaking. It seems to me that the simple way to answer that innuendo is to make five simple statements of fact. First, I have had no business associations or discussions with my brother for at least ten years. Secondly, I have no knowledge of the exact nature of the alleged offer made by a syndicate to the Commonwealth in relation to the assets of the Glen Davis shale oil undertaking. Thirdly, the matter has not been discussed in Cabinet since I have been a Minister. I have just learnt from my colleague, the Minister for Supply, that it has been dealt with by a Cabinet sub-committee. Fourthly, I have not discussed the matter with any of my Cabinet colleagues. Fifthly, I have not asked any newspaper to suppress the alleged relationship. I could not have done so because no relationship in fact existed.
– I ask the Minister for Supply whether any section of the Glen Davis plant has been disposed of by. tender and, if so, who were the successful tenderers? “Was the highest tender accepted? Can the Minister say whether any directive was given by the Sun newspaper to its staff that no reference was to be made to the fact that Mr. Samuel McMahon was a brother of the Minister for the Navy? Was such a directive issued at the request of any member of Cabinet? Does the Minister know of any reason why such a directive should be given ? If not, is he able to furnish any information at all on these points?
– I have no knowledge at all of any directive being given by the Sun newspaper. According to the statement made by the honorable member for East Sydney in this House last week, the alleged directive was given on the 20th May. I draw the attention of the House to the fact that on the 6th May the Cabinet sub-committee turned Mr. Samuel McMahon’s offer down flat and that was the end of it. If any directive such as that mentioned by the honorable member was given, it was probably given because the management considered that no purpose coUld be served by any further statement on the matter that was dead. I also inform the honorable gentle man that so far as I am aware, none of the assets has yet been disposed of. Certainly, none has been disposed of as the result of public tender. Such tenders were not satisfactory. The next procedure is that the assets will pass to the disposals section of the Department of .Supply to be disposed of by the ordinary routine methods. However, I give the honorable gentleman the assurance that the assets will be disposed of to the best advantage of the country.
– Is the_ Treasurer aware that the impression is current that rewards paid for the discovery of uranium, in Australia may by liable to income tax? Will the Treasurer make a clear statement that such, payments will not be taxable so that the impression which is current may be removed and persons will be encouraged to undertake prospecting for uranium?
– I cannot imagine that gifts and rewards of the nature mentioned by the honorable member for Mackellar would be taxable, but if there is any doubt about it, I shall have that doubt removed.
– I ask the Treasurer to inform the House whether a decision has been made about the future employment of federal land tax assessors ? If no such decision has been made, will arrangements be made for them to take up unimproved land in the various States in which they have been employed, in order that they might learn from personal experience whether or not the assessments they made last year were accurate?
– The honorable member’s question is quite uncalled for. The assessors of the Taxation Branch are always fully and very profitably employed.
– Will the Treasurer inform me whether it is a fact that n number of primary producers have no! received income tax assessments for periods of up to three years? If that is so, will the right honorable gentleman have regard to the difficulties of such taxpayers consequent upon the failure of the Government to forward taxation assessments, particularly when it is remembered that the provision of the amounts of tas involved will cause great hardship to even the most prosperous taxpayers? Will he also ensure that the assessments are forwarded as soon as possible? Is the failure of the Government to send annual assessments to taxpayers due to its desire to accumulate reserves of uncollected taxes, in order that it may bc able to announce tax reductions immediately prior to the next general election?
– Replying to the last part of the honorable member’s question first, I am afraid that he is not in a position to accuse the Government of accumulating reserves for the purpose of winning elections, because his party has always taken that sort of action. With regard to the alleged delay in issuing assessments, it is a novelty to mo to hear any one complaining that they
Iia vo not received an assessment. I usually find that complaints are received only from those people who have received assessments. However, I shall examine the matter that the honorable member has raised.
– Can the Prime Minister inform the House whether it is a fact that the Insurance Commissioner has been endeavouring to investigate the affairs of the Associated Dominions Assurance Society Proprietary Limited since April, 1948, and that so far he has had no success? Is the Government softpedalling with this company? If not, will it explain why there has been such a ridiculous delay in giving policy-holders the protection that they are entitled to expect from the act? Will the Government see that the matter is finalized without delay? I understand that quite a large sum of money is involved.
– I shall obtain an answer to the honorable member’s question as soon as possible and supply it to him.
– I have been informed that certain, difficulties have been experienced by the Australian footwear industry owing to a. decline in the demand for footwear. Can the Minister for Supply inform the House whether he has been able to use defence orders to assist the industry?
– I believe that the Australian footwear industry probably has not felt the impact of present conditions as much as some other industries have done, but it is true that there has been some decline in the demand for footwear. Attention has been drawn to this trend and, within the limited scope that is available to it, my department has endeavoured to assist the industry. Recently an order was placed for £250,000 worth of footwear for the Services. Instead of adopting the conventional practice of calling for tenders, in this case my department fixed an industry price and called for manufacturers to submit tenders on that basis. The department received 34 or 35 tenders from sources throughout Australia, and, except in the case of one tender which was unacceptable on other grounds, every one of the tenderers who applied was awarded, a substantial contract. To that extent, every State in Australia, with the possible exception of Tasmania, received benefit from those contracts.
– Will the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization ascertain whether the provision of equipment needed for important experiments at the laboratories of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization at Sydney and Melbourne has been delayed or prevented by the, Government’s import restrictions ? If this is so, will the Minister take steps to secure the equipment so that research on important industrial problems may be continued?
– I should certainly hive heard of the problem before now if the honorable member’s suggestion were a fact. I shall ascertain the position and advise him in regard to it.
– My question to the Prime Minister is related to a statement that was made some time ago that former prisoners of war of the Japanese would participate in the distribution of approximately £700,000 from Japanese reparations. When is it expected that the distribution of the money will be made? ls the Prime Minister able to give any general information on this subject?
– All the arrangements for the distribution of the money have been made, but one technical step must be taken. We must amend the Trading with the Enemy Act in order to make the funds distributable. A good deal of the money is at present under the control of the High Court. A bill to amend the Trading with the Enemy Act is now in final draft form. It will be submitted to the Parliament early in the present sessional period. When that bill has been, passed no further step will need to be taken and distribution can at once be put in hand.
– I direct a series of questions to the Prime Minister. In the negotiation of the recent dollar loan through the International Bank for Re- construction and Development, in what way were the Government and the people of Australia committed? Were commitments made in respect of our internal or external affairs, or both? If commitments were made in connexion with the nation’s internal economy, were specific works named in the programme of dollar spending? Was any portion of the loan specifically provided for the development of the uranium ore deposit at Rum Jungle? If the answer to the last question is in the affirmative, does the development work include provision for wharf facilities at Port Darwin? If the answer is in the negative, will a special loan be obtained for those purposes? Finally, will a comprehensive statement be made to the House on all loans from the dollar area?
– There is no reason why a comprehensive statement such as that for which the honorable member has asked should not be furnished to the House. As far as the dollar loan itself is concerned, the full amount of the loan was made public, but not the fact that the loan was made, not in relation to individual specific projects, most of which, as the honorable member will realize, are not within the control of the Commonwealth, which is the borrower, but in respect of what were described as certain programmes of development, relating to power, transport and so on. The object of the loan has been named in the widest possible terms in order to give us as much flexibility of movement ns is possible. The loan was not made in respect of Rum Jungle or its ancillary works. As the honorable member will recall, when the development of the uranium deposit at Radium Hill, in South Australia, was being considered, arrangements were made . with the joint agency which represents the United Kingdom, as well as the United States of America for the obtaining of the necessary dollar finance for that purpose, not as part of the overall dollar loan io which I have referred, but as a acpa rate and specific project. The approval of the Loan Council to that overseas borrowing was obtained unanimously at the last meeting of the council. It may be chatin connexion with the development of the uranium deposit at Rum Jungle a similar form of borrowing will be involved, bur. the loan will not be part of the loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The International Bank is not a lender of money for what may be described as defence projects. It confines itself entirely to specific development. Where, as in the case of uranium, a project has a defence element of a very obvious type then any source of dollar accommodation must be found elsewhere. In respect of Radium Hill, 1 gather that dollar accommodation would be obtained through the Export-Import Bank. Similar arrangements may very well be made in the case of Rum Jungle.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the South Maitland railway, which is the principal means of transportation of coal for gas-making, has been out of action through floods for the last three days? Has consideration been given to the many representations that have been made for the construction of an allweather railway line from Minimbah, through Cessnock to Morrisset on the main railway line to Sydney ? If not, will consideration be given, to linking the 2 miles of the Richmond Main to Minmi railway at Blue Gum with the West Wallsend to Cockle Creek railway, in order to ensure the regular transportation of coal required for gas-making purposes, not only in New South Wales, but throughout Australia? There have been far too many floods in the Hunter district. I have pleaded here-
– Order ! The honorable member must confine himself to his question.
– The honorable member for Paterson has referred to the vast damage that has been done by floods. I point out that considerable damage has been done to our economy in the past through interruption of coal supplies. If the miners were on strike now the House would be in an uproar.
– The railway matters to which the honorable member has referred are not within my own administrative review. However, I shall ensure that he will receive an answer to his question.
– Will the Prime
Minister inform the House whether, in discussions with members of the Dutch Government during his recent visit to Europe, he gleaned any information concerning the future of Dutch New Guinea? In particular, did he learn whether any arrangements have been entered into by the Netherlands and Indonesian Governments for the large-scale migration of Indonesians to Dutch New Guinea in return for commercial concessions to Holland? If not, is anything of that nature contemplated ?
– During my very brief call at The Hague, when I met Ministers of the Netherlands Government, I heard no suggestions at any time of a migration movement such as that which has been referred to recently. I know of no foundation for such suggestions.
– Will the Treasurer make money available at an appropriate rate of interest to the Sunshine
Municipal Council, which embraces a well-populated portion of the Maribyrnong electorate in which many roads and streets urgently await construction? The council’s own bankers and other financial institutions, including the State Savings Bank of Victoria, have already refused accommodation for this work which, if proceeded with, would provide constructive and productive work for the growing number of unemployed persons in the locality and so diminish the twin evils of industrial unrest and the burden of unemployment relief. If this common-sense method of relieving unemployment by providing useful and productive work is adopted, when will money be made available to relieve this urgent problem in the Maribyrnong electorate and surrounding areas?
– The Australian Government does not have any financial relationship with State instrumentalities as such. Money is made available through the Loan Council in which the States play a very important part. It is a State responsibility to look after the interests and finances of local governing authorities.
– Is the Minister for Supply aware that the various churches represented in the township of Woomera in South Australia are suffering from a severe disability because of the inadequacy of church buildings? Can the Minister say. whether anything has been done to improve the situation?
– I am aware that there is only one church building at Woomera, which has a population of between 1,000 and 2.000, and that this has been causing inconvenience to the various denominations represented there. Recently, however, the Australian Government investigated the matter and made arrangements to provide financial aid for the erection of buildings by the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England, and a group representing the other denominations. From recollection, I think that a grant of land has been made to each of the three groups, together with a sub-vention of £7,000 or £8,000 each. this assistance has been gratefully received by the denominations concerned, and I hope that in the near future each of those groups will have its own church building at Woomera.
– My question to the Minister for Defence concerns the preservation of certain rare birds and animals in the Monte Bello Islands before the projected atomic tests take place. I point out, by way of explanation, that anxiety is felt among Australian zoologists over certain rare birds which are believed to be distinctive to that area: This anxiety springs from the fact that the British Government has apparently been quite misinformed about the wild life of the islands, if we are to judge from statements made in the House of Commons on the matter. I ask the Minister to do two things. First, I ask him to ensure that the views and hopes of our ornithologists are ‘properly known to the British authorities who are planning the tests. Secondly, I ask him to ascertain whether, having regard to the demands of security, facilities can be given to a selected group of ornithologists to visit the islands in order to ensure that the birds will he dispersed before the explosion, and thereby preserved?
– I conveyed to the British authorities the views of ornithologists in Australia to the effect that certain bird life and animal life might be exterminated by the atomic explosion in the Monte Bello Islands, and I am informed that those authorities are taking up the matter. It is hoped that certain ornithologists, or people who have some knowledge of these matters, will be sent fo the Monte Bello Islands, and that attempts will be made to protect rare bird and animal species against the atomic blast so that they will not be exterminated.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Health a question about a new British drug, called mysoline. which has been found valuable against epilepsy, ls it. a fact that this drug has been tried on 48 patients in England and that twelve of them have been freed of fits, twenty have been improved and only eight have not been improved I ls it also a fact that the Medical Journal of Australia has stated that a notable improvement in the control of major epilepsy will have been achieved if these, results are confirmed by more extensive trials? If those are facts, will the Minister consider the advisability of having quantities of the drug brought to Australia for the purpose of helping to cure the many thousands of people here who are suffering from epilepsy?
– The Department of Health, through the National Health and Medical Research Council, is in constant touch with research bodies in the United Kingdom and the United States of America about new medical discoveries. It is considered that many experiments with new drugs can be conducted to better advantage in places where large numbers of patients exist, before the drugs are tried in Australia.
– Can the Minister for Health inform me whether supplies of cortisone for the treatment of arthritis are increasing in Australia? Has the cost of manufacturing the drug been substantially reduced by the adoption of any new processes? Have there been any further developments overseas with allied drugs that may be effective in combating this kind of disease?
– Our experience of cortisone has not been satisfactory. The results that have been .obtained have been short-lived, and there has been a recurrence of symptoms in many cases. The conditions that were imposed last year, under which the use of cortisone is controlled by leading scientists in Australia, are being continued.
– Will the Minister for the Navy state whether any investigations have been made into the loss of the defence launch of the Fairmile type which was wrecked on North Head,. Sydney, some little time ago? Is it a fact that the launch was taken out of the harbour, under tow, in turbulent weather, when most’ naval authorities would have provided an escort vessel for it, and that eight men, whose lives were threatened, all escaped, although one man is still in hospital ? Has he made inquiries whether -a good navigational risk was taken and whether the proper authorities were consulted before this small launch went out in turbulent seas? Has any order been given that the whole matter should be investigated?
– In matters of thi3 kind the Department of the Navy automatically conducts a court of inquiry into the cause of the disaster. A court of inquiry is now sitting, and, consequently, the subject is sub judice. As soon as the findings of the court are available, I shall communicate them to the honorable member.
– Can the Minister for Supply inform me whether the International Materials Conference has any direct connexion with the United Nations organization? Is it a fact that when allocations of commodities in short supply are made to member countries, some form of priority is given to defence requirements? In view of the recent emphasis placed on food production in Australia and the association of such production with’ the defence programmes of the Western Powers, can our food production programme be brought to the notice of the central group of the International Materials Conference for consideration when future allocations are being made?
– The International Materials Conference is not directly connected with the United Nations, although in a sense it is indirectly connected with that organization. Speaking from recollection, Australia is represented at some of the sittings of the conference, but not at all of them. I think the best course for me to follow would be to examine the details of the question asked by the honorable member and to give him a considered reply, which I shall do as soon as I can.
– Will the Minister for Health inform me whether it is correct that oral liver extract, which was included in the free list of medicines for use by patients suffering from pernicious anaemia, has been removed from the list because it was being prescribed for general use as a tonic? Is there a chance that the medicine might be returned to the free list if it3 use is limited to persons suffering from chronic anaemia? From information that I have received, such medicine costs patients approximately 45s. a bottle. As an alternative, an injection of liver extract may be had weekly at a cost of 15s.
– This med ici Ii was removed from the free list because it is considered that it is not a lifesavingdrug. Provision has been made, under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, for the free supply of other medicines containing liver extract, which may be used hypodermically.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture able to state whether it is a fact that there is likely to be strong demand from Japan for Australian barley? If so, can the Minister give the House any information concerning the possibility of developing the export of barley, on terms satisfactory to Australian growers, not only te Japan, but also to other countries?
– I have, read in the newspapers, either to-day or yesterday, that there is likely to be a substantial demand from Japan for Australian barley. It should be remembered that barley is grown on the initiative of certain Australian individuals.- The Government will facilitate the physical and financial requirements of barley production and will do all those things which are conducive to trade, but it cannot engage in the production of barley or in trading in that commodity.
– As flood protection and drainage works are essential in various parts of Australia in order to prevent the deterioration of the productive capacity of the land and the destruction of property, and as thousands of immigrants and others are workless. will the Treasurer make finance available for ihe purpose of undertaking such necessary developmental works and fulfil the Government’s employment obligations to the immigrants?
– The works ii> which the honorable member has referred are the responsibility of the State governments.
– Will the Treasurer inform the House whether it is a fact that under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement whenever a State bousing authority disposes of a home to a tenant the proceeds must he paid to the Commonwealth although originally advanced to the States for a much longer period and that such money cannot be utilized again in- further home-building activities by the authority concerned? In view of the curtailment of loan moneys to all States, will the Treasurer take steps to have the agreement altered in order to enable; the State housing authorities to utilize purchase moneys for the erection of more houses and so keep the original loan moneys in use and facilitate: home ownership ?
– The agreement to which the honorable member has referred is between the Australian Government and the State governments. If representations for the alteration of the agreement are made by the State governments consideration will be given to them.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for National Development a question con- urn ing a report which I, have received ro the effect that an officer of the State Materials Procurement Branch, Queenstreet, Melbourne, informed a constituent of my electoral division that Australian galvanized iron could be purchased in Singapore without a permit out of stock, although Australian primary producers are required to wait for up to two years for their orders to be fulfilled. Will the Minister state whether this report, is true?’ What are the circumstances relating to the matter? Will1 he take action ro ensure that Australian galvanized iron i> fairly distributed?
– I .shall convey the honorable member’s- question to the Minister for National Development and furnish him with an answer as soon as I can.
– As keeper of the public purse, will the Treasurer prepare a statement for presentation to the House setting, out how many people left Australia in connexion with the Prime Minister’s recent world, tour? What were the names of these people and in what capacity did they serve Australia? What was the full cost to the Australian taxpayers of fares, and expenses of each of these persons? What was the total cost of the Prime Minister’s trip, including the total costs charged against other departments in respect of all members of the Prime Minister’s party? Did any members of the party stay at the Savoy Hotel, London, and, if so, how many rooms were- engaged for them? What was the dollar cost to the Australian people of the American visit bv the Prime Minister and his party? What benefits, if any, have accrued to Australia from the Prime Minister’s world tour?
– If sufficient time remains, after answering the numerous questions that the honorable member already has on the notice-paper, consideration will be given to the matters that he. has raised. Not only will consideration be given to those matters, but consideration will also be given to making a retrospective survey of the position to the year 1940.
– My question to the Treasurer is supplementary, to the question asked, by the honorable member for Hindmarsh.’ If and when the right honorable gentleman’s staff is engaged in the investigation requested by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, will he direct it to expand the investigation, in order to obtain information for students of comparative polities, to embrace the period of some eight years before this Government assumed office? Perhaps he could try to ascertain the name of a single private member of the Chifley Government who was not given a ride abroad of some sort within that period.
– I have already indicated the conditions on which a retrospective survey will he made.
– On Wednesday last the honorable member for Swan complained that during the recess the drawers of his desk had been opened and that apparently the contents had been perused. I have had the matter investigated, but so far I have been unable to ascertain who was responsible. I point out to honorable members that during recess periods it is inevitable that strangers should come to this building. Permission is occasionally granted for the holding of conferences and committee meetings in this House, and certain mnintennn.ee and construction work must he carried out. With the present staff it is not possible to police the whole of the building in an entirely satisfactory way. I have directed that during recess periods the doors of honorable members’ rooms should be locked, and should, be opened only under the supervision of a responsible officer. T suggest to honorable members who desire to leave articles of some value here, including papers, during recess periods that they should hand them’ to the Serjeant-at-Arms, who has the proper facilities for their safe-keeping.
Debate resumed from the 6th August (vide page 47), on motion by Mr. Hasluck -
That the following- paper be printed: - Native Welfare in Northern Territory - Ministerial Statement.
– I welcome the statement by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) upon native welfare in the Northern Territory, because it shows that the Government intends to institute reforms that many people believe to be lone overdue and to do many of the things that I have asked it to do since I entered the Parliament. The Minister has acted wisely in taking heed of recent happenings in the north and in granting t« coloured people of the Northern Territory, as a right, full citizenship status in all matters that affect their social life. Over the years, the half-caste community, as it is called in the statement, has laboured under a great disadvantage. Half-castes, in their efforts to rise to our standards, have encountered many social and other difficulties. The fact that they have risen to our standards and, at last, have compelled the Government of this country to reconsider their status and accept them into the community as a whole, reflects great credit upon them. The Minister said -
At present there arc many natives, a few full-blood as well as mixed-blood, who are prepared for and capable of accepting the full responsibility of citizenship. There are also many others who will require for many years to come the benefits and protection of special legislation, and who must be regarded as wards of the State standing in need of guardianship and tutelage.
On the whole, I agree, with that statement. These people have shown that they are prepared to accept the responsibilities that go with full citizenship rights. Some of them have given good service in the defence of this country. Many of them are subject to our taxation laws, are liable to be called up for military service, and are compelled to cast their votes for the election of members of this Parliament. On a recent visit to the Northern Territory, I learned with interest that a half-caste member of the community had been summoned to serve on a jury that tried a man, not of his own colour but a native. I believe that, in a recent murder trial which affected white members of the community, a half-caste served on the jury. Some natives have acquired certain of the responsibilities of citizenship, but the system that has conferred those responsibilities upon them is. to say the least, very humiliating to them. The best way to ensure that these people will be able to accept responsibility is to thrust responsibility upon them. Some of them will make mistakes with their new-found liberties and rights, but it is only if we permit them to shoulder their responsibilities that we shall enable them to live up to their obligations.
I confess that I have not vet studied the statement in detail. Therefore, I can deal with it only in a general way.
I am pleased that a Director of Welfare is to be appointed, and that the branch that he will administer will be divorced from the Native Affairs Branch, because nothing that savours of native affairs will be acceptable to the half-caste community of the Northern Territory It is intended to grant full citizenship rights to full-blooded natives who have proved that they are capable of accepting the full responsibilities of citizenship. I do not know whether there are any such persons who now have, to all intents and purposes, full citizenship rights. There may be one or two of them, but I do not know of them myself. I urge, the Minister to bo very careful in dealing with this matter. I point out that if a full-blooded native becomes a full citizen under the laws of this country, he will lose certain privileges that he has hitherto enjoyed as an aboriginal. Under the native ordinances, an aboriginal has free access to native reserves. I do not think he is under an obligation to serve in the armed forces of this country, although he may be compelled to pay tuxes. The first question that should he decided before granting, full citizenship rights to a full-blooded native is whether the advantages of such rights would compensate for the loss of rights that he already possesses. If he became a full citizen of this country, he would automatically forfeit his right to enter aboriginal reserves to visit relatives to whom such rights had not been granted. I ask’ the Minister to consider that point very carefully when he is dealing with these people.
I welcome the statement. I believe that nothing but good’ will come from the proposals outlined in it, which, generally speaking, represent a great advance in the improvement of the relationship between ourselves and the coloured people of tb,e community.
– I am pleased that the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) has welcomed this .statement. I wearne it myself. It is acceptable to honorable members on both sides of the House. The statement is divided into two “actions, the first of which deals with native welfare and the rights of natives to full citizenship rights, and the second with prospecting in aboriginal reserves and the means by which portions of such reserves can be resumed for mining purposes if resources of minerals are discovered in them. I do not intend to say very much about the first section of the statement. I have spent only a few weeks in the Northern Territory, and it would be presumptuous if I were to say what I think should or should not be done about the natives there. The honorable member for the Northern Territory, who has lived in that part of Australia for a considerable time, has a far better idea of the need.of the natives than I have. But let me say that the Miniser for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) is accepted as one of the greatest authorities in Australia upon aborigines. He has studied aboriginal problems comprehensively. I am certain that the statement that he ha.s made will find general acceptance throughout thi; whole of this country.
I want to pay tribute to the work that is being done in the Northern Territory by various missions and homes that cater for aborigines and half-castes. Recently, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and myself visited the home that is run by Sister Eileen, just south of Alice Springs. Al present, it caters for about 70 half-castes, but she hopes that it will be expanded and will be able to cater for about 200. The home is doing excellent work. The children who attend it are taught various trades and become good citizens of thi? country. There is a tendency to write off the aboriginal as a person with whom we can do nothing. Compared with New Zealand, the United States of America and Canada, Australia has a bad record for the way in which it has treated its native population. There is no doubt that during the nineteenth century large numbers of aborigines were shot on sight, and that sort’ of thing continued even into the early twentieth century. When a white man was killed by natives it was customary for a punitive party to set out and to kill off twenty or 30 aborigines, including gins and children. We have reason to be ashamed of the way in which aborigines were treated in the past. Now, however, they, are being treated well, and I believe that they should be given full rights as citizens. They have shown themselves capable and willing in the performance of many kinds of work. They make excellent stockmen, and we have seen that the paintings of Albert Namatjira and his cousins compare favorably with the work of white artists. Every possible assistance should be given to the missions that are working amongst the aborigines. I am glad that any royalties drawn from natives reserves will be handed over for the benefit of the natives.
The second part of the statement deals with the right of persons to prospect for minerals in aboriginal reserves, and with the conditions upon which land in those reserves will be thrown open for mining if minerals are found. Most of us realize that it was essential that something should be done along these lines. Three factors were responsible for the action taken by the Government. The first was the finding on “Wessel Island of a large deposit of aluminium ore. It was not’ known at the time whether the island was part of Arnhem land or not, although I have here a map published in 1945 which defines Arnhem land as a certain precribed area “ and all islands adjacent “. However, the lawyers got around the problem by pointing out that Wessel island was not really adjacent, so that the ordinances that applied to Arnhem land did not apply to the island.
The second factor was the finding of important silver-lead and zinc deposits by a man named “ Tiger “ Brennan when he was prospecting over old mine workings which had been abandoned since the beginning of the century. I met him when I was in the Northern Territory, and he told me that he had taken the risk of incurring a penalty of six months’ imprisonment by prospecting where he did, but he thought it was worth the risk. His discovery has certainly been of great value to Australia because he has found one of the richest deposits of the kind in the country. Surely it is not right that, our pioneers should have to run the risk of six months’ imprisonment for prospecting in aboriginal reserves. The mine is now being developed bv the Zinc Corporation of Broken Hill, but before they are prepared to p”t so much capital into the venture they wil1 wa”t their rights to iP defined go that they will know where they stand. Under the new arrangement it will be possible for mining firms to obtain full rights to develop ore deposits in aboriginal reserves.
The third factor which has led to the proposed change has been the finding of uranium in [lie Northern Territory - something which is of enormous importance to Australia. Indeed, it is probably as important as would be the discovery of oil in the Northern Territory. We cannot afford to leave 64,000 square miles of country unprospected for uranium and other minerals merely because there is ‘ in the area a native population of fewer than 6,000 persons, of whom only about 600 are fully tribalized. Because of the nature of the rock formations, there is every possibility of uranium being found in many parts of the Northern Territory. Much can be done in the way of prospecting from the air. An aircraft equipped with 4a machine known as an airborne scintillometer flies at a height of from 50 to 100 feet, and if there are uranium deposits in the ground over which it flies the machine will react. Hitherto, an area nearly three-quarters the size of Victoria has been closed to prospectors. Now persons of good character who are known to the Administrator will be allowed to enter aboriginal reserves in order to prospect for minerals.
The Northern Territory is known to be very rich in minerals. It is likely that further copper deposits will be discovered. Copper has already been found at Tennant Creek and Pine Creek, where the ore has returned 30 per cent, of copper. When we realize that at Mount Lyell ore is being worked which contains only from 0.5 to 0.9 per cent, of copper we realize the possibilities and the potentialities of this find. It is known that there are also in the Northern Territory deposits of tin, wolfram, zinc, lead and mica.
I welcome the assurance from the
Minister that he h”s issued a general instruction to the Administrator of the Northern Territory and to the officers of the department that they are not to encourage prospectors to enter aboriginal row’-ps unless they are well known to the Administrator, and are able to furnish guarantees that they will not interfere with the natives. The Minister pointed out that, in order to give effect to the new proposals, legislation would have to be passed by the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory to replace the existing native ordinances. When i was in the Northern Territory recently I gained the impression that, in parts of the territory at any rate, the Legislative Council was regarded more or less as a farce. That is unfortunate. The council consists of eight men. nominated by the Commonwealth Government and six elected members, two of whom are elected for Darwin, one for the town of Alice Springs, one for the pastoral country surrounding Alice Springs, and two for other parts of the territory. Of the six elected members, two are public servants, so that of the council of fourteen members . ten are public servants, and four are non-public servants. Some of the public servants on the council have been in the territory for only a few months. I do not believe that they are as well fitted to consider matters affecting native welfare as are persons who have lived in the territory for ten or fifteen years. I want to see some change in the Legislative Council so that either it becomes completely elective or that men resident in the territory, who have been associated with its development, are appointed to it instead of public servants who live in the territory for two or three years and then return to southern Australia as quickly as they can do so. I welcome the statement generally. It shows an approach to the problem which does the Minister justice.
Mr. BEAZLEY (Fremantle) [4.2’ The honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) devoted most of his speech to the prospects of European economic exploitation of the Northern Territory, whereas the subject that is being debated is ostensibly native welfare in the Northern Territory. While the Minister’s statement virtually asks for such a construction, it also deals with two other important subjects. The first is native citizenship. The second is the inauguration of a new principle that there may be impingement upon the native reserves because of the possibility of new mineral deposits hein<* ‘‘i covered in the Northern Territory. While the Minister’s state-
Farrer seemed to be far too easily satisfied with the prospect of the mineral development of the Northern Territory. The destruction of every native people that has been destroyed on the earth has begun with the destruction of its rights in land. The aborigines of Australia have never had a concept of private ownership but simply a concept of tribal occupancy of certain areas. Therefore, they can never have their land rights safeguarded as was done with the Maoris of New Zealand. The only way to safeguard some of the interests of the Australian natives in the land was by the system of reserves. While the Minister’s statement on the subject of aboriginal citizenship was very vague, his statements on the future of those reserves was very definite. What emerges most definitely is that that land is to be impinged upon in the interests of the development of minerals in the Northern Territory. We are only humbugging ourselves if we assume that the natives will ever own any of that land, or that they will start in an advantageous .position in the exploitation of minerals in the reserves. So the breakdown of natives reserves will take place very largely in the interests of European industry.
The honorable member for Farrer is depressed at the prospect that the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory will legislate for this matter and because the majority of its members are public servants. If the honorable member studies the history of colonial development, he will discover that the conflict is eternal between white men on the spot and the colonial government at home, whether in Kenya or the areas of South Africa which are under high commissioners. The reason is that a remote government often takes an1 objective view of native welfare in a locality, whereas men who are interested locally iti the commercial exploitation of the area, cannot do so. It is rather alarming to discover, in the suggestions of the honorable member for the alteration of the Legislative Council system, that he made no mention of native representation, either directly from the natives or people of mixed blood themselves, or from people who are likely to have their welfare at heart. I am not imputing the statements of the honorable member for Farrer to the Minister, but I hope that the statements are not accepted by the Government.
In his statement, the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) said that the concept of reserves had gradually become obsolescent because fewer natives were living in the tribal state and, therefore, on land that had been reserved for them by the Government. That is true, but the statement does not set out specifically any of the things which give substance to citizenship. The right to serve on juries or to vote is not true citizenship. Having the right theoretically, to own land is not citizenship in a definite sense; the right to own land must be definite. The Minister has stated that when the reserves disappear the natives, as a whole and not as individuals, will be compensated by extended services that will be made available for their welfare. But in an economy like that of the Northern Territory, land ownership by the aborigines when they adopt the European way of life is the only thing that will really safeguard their right and give them equality with white citizens. I do not say that the Minister has no such policy on native land ownership. I merely say that it was not mentioned in his statement. It will be gratifying if he shows in his reply that native land ownership is envisaged by the Government.
Albert Namatjira’s name has been mentioned, but he was not permitted to own land in Alice Springs. I do not know if the natives are required to attain levels of citizenship higher than- his, but I suggest he has full qualifications for citizenship. If citizenship is not to include such rights as ownership of property, the other concessions do not matter very much. The essential value of native land reserves was that the aborigines’ rights there were established. If that right is to be destroyed, the only other system of rights in land is the right to definite ownership. The position of the aborigines in any scramble for land following the breaking up of reserves will be so- disadvantageous that they will have to be buttressed by Government action to- ensure that they get fair quotas of land. Otherwise, they will be landless and devoid of rights in land - and, therefore, of all rights - as are the natives in certain areas of South Africa.
The honorable member for Farrer was correct in suggesting that the Northern Territory is a closed book to most of us. Queensland native policy is open to almost any tourist. One can visit the native settlement on Palm Island and be told, as a matter of pride, exact statistics relating to leprosy cures on Fantome Island nearby. When I was there, I was informed that 25 complete cures had been effected last year. It is difficult to get any information on such matters from statements that are made by any Minister of the Australian Government;, and that is true not only of the present Government. It has applied to previous governments as well. What is the Australian Government doing about native, tropical diseases? What staff is being established to manage these problems? What is the Government’s policy towards aboriginal home ownership for those who have* lived for years in the tribal state and now have attained the right of citizenship ? What is the Government’s policy on the education o-f aborigines if it has given mp. the idea that they will continue to live in the tribal state? Definite information on such points appears to be available regularly in the Queensland Parliament, but it is never available in the Parliament of the Commonwealth in relation to the natives of the Northern Territory. I hope that the Minister will outline the Government’s views on such definite items of policy when he replies at the close of this debate. The Minister in- his statement said -
The creation of the greater part of these reserves dates back to twenty years ago or earlier when policy in regard to the advancement of the natives was less hopeful than it is to-day, and when governmental and church activities designed to change: the life of the native was less extensive than- it is- to-day.
I do not know what tha Minister means, but I suggest that the situation is more hopeful to-day.- Dr. Cook’s statement on the incidence of tropical diseases to a conference of scientists in Brisbane did not appear to me to be: remarkably hopeful. In making that, statement the Minister may have something definite in mind. I should be glad to hear what it is. The revocation of land from native reserves for mining purposes is, I think, inevitable. I am not a romanticist who suggests that great quantities of uranium that are vital to the future of this countryshould not be touched because they exist on native reserves; but I contend that the disturbance of these reserves is a very serious matter. Some definite statement about the transference of other rights and compensation for the rights lost to the natives when the Minister makes his reply would be very welcome.
.- During a recent very short stay in the Northern Territory I frequently heard it said that many people stayed there for a few days or weeks and went away and wrote a book about the territory. I therefore approach the consideration of the welfare of the natives of the territory with more diffidence than would characterize many of the speeches made by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who has, perhaps, no greater knowledge of the subject than I have. The problem of the natives of the Northern Territory is not one about which we can generalize. We cannot come to grips with it without a great deal of study and, what is perhaps more important, a great deal of sympathy and understanding. We are concerned not merely with the problem of native welfare but also with the customs and traditions formulated duri:ig the countless thousands of years during which the natives survived in the primitive conditions that exist in the territory and the qualities of the natives that have enabled them to survive. The problem involves consideration of the isolation from any form of communal life that has characterized the life of the natives during those thousands of years. I mention these things advisedly. Prom what I saw it is inevitable that, as the result of those thousands of years of struggle to survive, certain things that are alien to our conception of life fend civilization have become a part of the native mentality. We must realize that they exist and why they exist. Therefore we must approach this problem carefully and cautiously. I commend, the statement made by the Minister because it recognizes that the extension of citizenship rights to the aborigines must be approached carefully and cautiously.
What, in fact, are the rights of citizenship? The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) spoke very ably and sincerely of citizenship rights. I trust that I repeat what he said correctly when I say that he defined the rights of citizenship in this connexion as the right to own the land in the places where the aborigines and their families have lived, and all the rights that pertain to such ownership. A good deal more than that is involved in this problem. We must consider the problem against its background. This is a problem of the impact of civilization on peoples whose minds go back into the extremely remote past. We might approach this question of citizenship from a slightly different angle from that suggested by the honorable member for Fremantle - although I do not disagree with his basic conclusions. First, we must look at the aborigines not as a race but as sections of a race - as children, as adolescents and as adults, responsibility for- whom must be shared by every person in this place.
I was shocked by some of the things I saw in the Northern Territory and I was extremely gratified by others. At one of the outback stations I saw small aboriginal children who spoke two languages - English as fluently as some white children speak it, and also their own native tongue. These children were gradually assimilating our civilization without completely rejecting their own. Few will differ from me when I say that the too rapid rejection by natives of their own civilization is one of the factors that has contributed to the downfall of native races in the past. If we destroy in one swoop the effect upon a native people of ‘their own customs and practices we destroy a part of their makeup and do not equip them to stand the strain of modern civilization.
In some of the schools in the territory I saw native children whose teachers told me they were accepting education as rapidly and on the same plane as the average white child. I confess to great admiration for the standard of handwriting exhibited by many of the aboriginal children. I regret to say that the standard of writing in our schools is not generally as high as it should be to-day, and from what I have seen in this place the handwriting of many adults is not better. The aboriginal children seemed to be happy and interested in their work. They were certainly well cared for and, what is perhaps most important, they were well fed. I was told that one of the problems of the aborigines was the problem of the adolescent. Many boys who reached the age at which they would customarily be initiated into the tribe went on walkabout and were away from the tribe for twelve or eighteen months. When they returned at the age. of fifteen or sixteen years, in the eyes of the tribe they were men and they claimed the rights, privileges and responsibilities of men in accordance with the traditions of their tribe. That was one of the problems that confront those who desire ro help the aborigine to adapt himself, as he must inevitably do, to the ways of our civilization. That is a matter which may well come within the scope of the legislation outlined by the Minister. It is not one upon which one may lay down rigid and definite regulations over a period. We must be guided by circumstances as and when they arise. I observed that a relatively small minority of the adult aborigines had attained a standard which would fit them to accept, not only the full rights of citizenship suggested by the Minister in his statement, but also the full responsibilities of citizenship. As honorable members are aware, there is a marked distinction between rights and responsibilities.
Around the towns there was evidence of the effect of civilization on the aborigines. I regret to say that it was not an effect of which those of us in this place can be proud. The farther away from towns we moved in general we found the aborigines better off. All were engaged in some kind of work. On the majority of the stations that I was privileged to. visit it is fair to say that the natives, both men and women, were well fed, well clothed and happy, in marked contrast to the unfortunates I saw hanging round the streets of the towns. One way in which we can discharge our responsibility to absorb these people eventually into the stream of civilization is by enabling them to engage in activities for which they are naturally suited having regard to their background. We should be acting incon sistently with our obligations if we sought to solve this problem merely by isolating the natives in reservations and forgetting about them. As the honorable member for Fremantle has said, the natives cannot escape the impact of civilization whether or not they be isolated in reservations.
I wish now to refer to several of the provisions which the Minister has indicated will be included in proposed legislation. Broadly, he said that provision would be made to enable aborigines who consider that they have out-grown the need for special protection to apply to be released and that aborigines whose applications are approved after hearing by a magistrate would become entitled to the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. I also understand that the appropriate authority will be enabled to bring within the scope of the special legislation natives who are found, in fact, to be not yet capable of accepting such rights and responsibilities. That seems to be not only a wise but also a necessary approach to this problem. Even the more advanced natives may again come under the influence of their native environment and, consequently, resume a purely native outlook. It is not for us to treat such natives as, perhaps, we would treat one of our own race who broke our laws. It is necessary to facilitate re-adjustment in instances of that kind and such a provision will enable us to approach this problem sympathetically from the point of view of the natives concerned. I agree with the honorable member for Fremantle that some native reserves will be found to contain valuable mineral resources and, therefore, reasonable provision must be made for the development of such resources. Is that really a bad thing? If the proposed legislation is framed along the lines that the Minister has indicated and provision is made for the payment of royalties into a fund which will be used to compensate the natives in respect of the exploitation of mineral resources, such a provision will be all to the good. It will offer a flexible means of dealing with this changing problem. The Minister’s statement indicates a sympathetic approach to this problem, which demands the exercise of sympathy on our part. It indicates an acceptance of a responsibility which none of us wish to shirk, but which all of us accept. The Minister has also indicated that the proposed legislation will be based on recommendations that have been made by persons who have been in a position to study this problem on the spot for a considerable number of years. On those grounds, I welcome the Minister’s statement, which, I believe, is a worthwhile contribution to the solution of the problem of native welfare in the Northern Territory.
.- til the remarks that I ant about to make I do not wish to appear to be merely critical of the statement that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has made to the House. I shall co-operate wholeheartedly iri any steps that any govern - Bitot may take to improve the lot of the aborigines. As a result, of a lifetime’s experience with aborigines, I recognize the difficulties that are.involved in the problem of native welfare. It is a national problem. “When I was Minister foi’ the Interior, I referred it to a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, with a view to persuading the States to hand over sole responsibility for the welfare of our aboriginal race to the Commonwealth. However, the State Premiers refused to consent to do so. I point out that for six of the eight years that the Labour Government was in office this country was at war and that that part of the Northern Territory from Alice Springs to Darwin was directly under the control of the Department of Defence. After the war ended, I discussed the problem of native welfare with Professor Elkin, the noted anthropologist, and upon his recommendation I appointed a Director of Native Affairs. [ instructed that official that his primary task was to do everything in his power to promote the well-being and education of the natives in the Northern Territory, lii conference with representatives of the pastoralists in the territory - >the cattle kings- a scale of wages for aborigines employed on stations and at droving camps was drawn up. That agreement offers a basis for wider action to safeguard the interests of the natives. As an aborigine must secure a certificate before he can become entitled to citizenship rights, I can see no difference between the position that then existed in that respect and that -with which the Minister has set out in his statement. The Minister, in his statement, referred to the effect of the first of the Government’s two decisions affecting the administration of native welfare policy in the Northern Territory. He said -
It will allow these persons of aboriginal and part-aboriginal origin who do not need the protection of special legislation to enjoy the customary .rights of citizenship without having to apply for exemption from the special legislation.
Later, the Minister made a statement which I should like him to clarify. Hp said -
Provision will also be made so that a person who objects to being brought under the special legislation, or a person who considers that he has outgrown the need for special care and assistance, can apply to a magistrate sitting in chambers and have the opportunity of proving to an independent authority that by his mode of living and his capacity to manage his own affairs he can assume his p,are a? :i member of the general community.
What is the necessity for such a provision? In my view it will not effect any alteration of the position that exists at present. It appears to me to be a case of calling a rose by some other name. I assure the “Minister that I am prepared to do all that I can towards improving the conditions of our aborigines. However, bis statement does not appear to offer anything that is worth while. Now that the responsibility of controlling the territories has been allotted as a full-time task to one Minister, I was hopeful that steps would be taken to do something that would be of real advantage to the aborigines. I claim to have a very good knowledge of the aborigines. For many years I have worked with them on cattle stations and in droving camps, and I have visited the native missions at Melville Island, Bathurst Island, Hermansburg and Blatherskite. I take this opportunity to pay a great tribute to those missions. At Melville Island, which is reserved for half-castes exclusively, there are some fine men and women. They are well educated, and many are good musicians. The Roman Catholic nuns who conduct the mission formed an orchestra of half-caste girls between the ages of 18 and 28 years. After I had heard an orchestral concert by them .the reverend mother said to me, “ I am deeply concerned about the future of these girls because 1 fear that they will lose the benefit of their education within a short time of leaving here if they cannotenter industry where they will be protected by the white men “. The reverend mother’s fears were justified, because I have heard of many instances of cruelty to the natives by squatters. Indeed, I have seen squatters herd and muster natives like sheep andcattle, when they have been required to assist with the branding of calves on the cattle stations at mustering time. When that work has been completed the natives have been told to go bush again and to find their own tucker. I refer particularly to what happened in 1908., 1909 and 1910, during the pioneering days of the cattle and sheep industry in the Northern Territory. Despite everything that has been done for the aborigines since that time, their numbers have gradually diminished.
I direct the attention of the House to the wretchedcondition of the aborigines alongthe Trans-continental railway line. They are a very bad advertisement for this country because travellers from overseas believe that they are typical of our aborigines. Ihave discussed this matter with Mr,. Playford, the Premier of South Australia, who is deeply concerned about the welfare of the aborigines. It would be futile to take a native from that area to an area 100 miles away to be assimilated with otheraborigines, because he wants to die in the district in which he was born. If he istaken to another area he will fret and will not be happy. In deed,he will notremain there unless chained. Mr. Playford told me that the South Australian Government would he prepared to provide elsewhere a. reserve, complete with adequate water supplyandhousing, for the natives along the trans-continental railway line. But the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) knows as wellas I do that they would not stop there for very long. Probably at the first full moon they would returnto their former habitats.
Many of the people who write and talk about the welfare of the aborigines of this country should make a closer study of them. Thehonorablemember for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) startedthat he had learnt quite a lot about our natives in the few weeks that he was in the Northern Territory.AlthoughI have been closely associated with the aborigines for more than 50 years, 1 still do not claim to know much about them. In the town in which I was born in Western Australia, the native population outnumbered the white population by at least ten to one. In my school days I played football and cricket with the aborigines, and I learned their lingo. I worked on cattle stations with them for many years. Although the native problem is a big one, I do not believe that it is insoluble. I consider that the Minister’s proposals are not worth two hoots. He proposes to give full citizenship rights to the full-blooded aborigines of the Northern Territory. Does that mean that if I were to go to the Northern Territory and buy a droving outfit, and employ half a dozen full-blooded aborigines, take them into Darwin or Alice Springs and pay them the full rate payable in the Northern Territory, they would be. entitled to full citizenship rights? If the Minister would bring to this Parliament a proposal of real value to the aborigines he could count on my full support.
Mr.WENTWORTH(Mackellar) [4.37] . - The honorablememberfor Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson) has been less than generous to (the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck). Althoughthe honorable member forKalgoorlie has claimedwrongly, Ithink - that the Minister’s
Statement does not contain any concrete proposals, nevertheless the honorable member has not been able to point to anything wrong with the statement. The honorable member was not logical when he tried to exculpate himself for the deficiencies of the former Labour Government in the administration of the Northern Territory.
Mr.Johnson. - Anti-Labour governments administered the Northern Territory for more than . 25 years.
– I am referring to the years 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1949. which were all years of peace. Labour liquidated the Northern Territoryduring those years in a most shameful manner. I shall not indulge in recriminations. We shouldapproach this subject in a generous and constructive way. The problem of our native people is indeed a complex one, if one considers it from the viewpoint of tribal organization.
In the basement of this building there is an exhibition dealing with the aborigines in the early days of our colonization. Honorable members who have seen the exhibition must have realized that the hopes of our early days for *a simplification of the problem of the aborigines have not been realized, l t is a complex problem ; we cannot interfere with one part of these tribal organizations without affecting the whole. But there is also a simpler side. The aborigine, if he be divorced from his tribal organization, is a simple individual. The habits of ir.ii.ud which may, inside the tribe, go back for thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of years, do not persist in the individual. So, the problem is simpler than it seems if we look at the individual, and more complex than it seems if we look at the tribal organization. However, as a transitory visitor to the Northern Territory, I was shocked, as other honorable members were, by what we saw of both the natives and the half-castes in many places. There were exceptions, but generally speaking, we saw an unhappy and sullen people who realized, or thought, that their race was dying and that they had nothing to live for. There were, of course, exceptions. We met those exceptions principally at certain mission stations, and I hope to make more concrete reference to them shortly.
Our aim should be the integration of the aborigines into our society, and that means finding a way of life and a way of employment into which they can be fitted. It is quite useless - I think the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) mentioned this - to educate these people without realizing that, when they leave their schools and the protection of their institutions, they !>-o into a society that has no place for th>m at all. It is to this transitional stage- that we must direct our attention particularly. What employment can they he given ? Native ability shows itself first” ‘ in’ the fitness of aborigines for employment as stockmen, and there is something to be said for that, but that industry cannot employ a great number of aborigines, and it cannot offer to them a secure and settled way of life. The next avenue of employment that occurs to one is agriculture. There is an almost universal impression in the Northern Territory that natives cannot be trained in agriculture or do not make successful agriculturists. Possibly that belief stems from the manner in which natives have been treated since childhood. If one were to treat even an intelligent, child as a half-wit, it would, in many instances, grow up as a half-wit. The stunted intellectual development of the aboriginal is due in some measure not to any inherent deficiency, but to the way in which he or she has been treated. There are exceptions of course. At the Katherine experimental station, which is a government undertaking, natives are engaged, under supervision, in agriculture and are doing their work with some success. There is, after all, a good case to be made -up for the belief that this is the. right line of advance. Tn the history of the human race the agriculturist has followed the nomadic hunter, and it is not unnatural that the individual should find the easiest progress along the lines that the race has followed. In the United States of America, for instance, the negroes are engaged very largely and most successfully in agricultural pursuits.
Undoubtedly there is scope for agricultural pursuits in the Northern Territory. ‘ The greatest opportunities are, of course, to be found in the more humid regions in the north. Rice, sugar, and other tropical crops, could be grown, for instance, in the areas adjacent to the Daly and Adelaide Rivers; hut those are by no means the only opportunities. Dates were grown very successfully at Marree some time ago. The climate was quite suitable, but the industry was seriously hindered by labour difficulties. Some attention could be directed also to the growing of olives, citrus fruits, and even vegetables. All those products could be grown at various places in the Northern Territory with great success, some for the export market and some to meet the requirements of the local market, which, at present, are being met by highpriced imports from more settled areas of the Commonwealth. The growing of crops depends upon the water supply, and the salinity of the bore water, which often, although not always, is high enough to preclude agriculture of certain types. Some varieties of dates, however, are able to survive in areas where only water of a comparatively high salinity is available. I believe that we should press on more with experiments in the training of mission station aborigines in agricultural pursuits. We should have a plan to settle them in agricultural occupations when they leave their homes ; but the first step, which will prove whether or not the scheme is practicable, is to try to find out whether the aborigines oan be trained in agricultural occupations if they are taken in hand at an early age.
As the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) said, we had an opportunity to visit one mission home in the vicinity of Alice Springs. It was the Church- of England home called St. Mary’s Home, which is about 4 or 5 miles south of Alice Springs. There, we were very much impressed with the demeanour of the half-caste children for whom the home caters. The establishment is well run, and the children are happy; but that home has not yet met its chief difficulty. It has been in existence for only seven or eight years, and so it has not yet. met the difficulty of the transition of its natives into adult life. Here surely is our opportunity to experiment on a reasonable scale. The home has around it 400 or 500 acres of land on which it is almost certain water could be obtained. Let us endeavour to train the natives of St. Mary’s Home in agricultural pursuits. Let us provide the necessary irrigation equipment. Let us ensure that accommodation shall be provided for an instructor so that the natives may. be well advised. F do not suggest that this is the only suitable place. I have no extensive knowledge of the scope and spread of mission activities in the Northern Territory. I simply express the opinion that thi3 is one establishment that I have been able to visit, and that seems to me to have the ideal set up for an experiment of this kind. This, surely, can make a permanent occupation for the men, and, with a proper and constructive approach, handcrafts can be engaged in by the girls until their marriage. This suggestion meets the point made by the honorable member for Fremantle. He said if we take away or truncate the reserve we must give the natives some settled land. I agree with that opinion, if the natives can be educated to the use of that land, and can prove that they make successful farmers. I know that 99 persons out of J 00 in th* Northern Territory to-day will remark, as a counter to this idea, “ Oh, a native is a no-hoper ‘ as a farmer. Write him off “. That view may be correct; but there is no evidence at the moment that it is correct, and the experiment is worth, at least, a trial. The home that I have mentioned might well be the right place to begin that experiment, but I hope that the home is not the right place to finish it.
.- I pay a tribute to those honorable members who have made useful contributions to this debate, but I point out that reports and statements, in .themselves, do not necessarily solve the problem of the black men nor overcome the grave disabilities that the descendants of the original inhabitants of this land have faced, and are facing to-day. The well-being of the native people will he fostered, not by a ministerial statement, or a code, but by the administration and the behaviour of the people with whom the black men are associated. We should not be a party to a situation as a result of which it could he said of our black men, as it was said of their forebears, that “ they crouch and bury their faces in their hands, and hide in the dark of their hair”. We who in these enlightened times enjoy the great benefits flowing from the land that was hitherto owned by the black men, have the grave responsibility of ensuring’ that they shall bc adequately cared for, and fully protected. Those persons who are charged with the practical tasks associated with the care of our native peoples should possess the qualities of simple kindness and understanding. I welcome and accept the statement by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), and I find little in it at which I can cavil. I believe that the statement, in the main, sets out that full citizenship rights shall be granted to the natives, and that the onus of proof that certain natives do not possess the requisite qualities of citizenship shall rest, not on the natives, but on the Crown. If that be so, I welcome the policy, which I believe to be right.
– Equality with white people !
– That is so.. But if my understanding of the position is incorrect, and if we are to establish other grades in our society, I shall most strenuously oppose the policy. However, I believe that my understanding of the position is correct, I pay a tribute to the people in the Northern Territory who are doing the right thing for our black people.. I refer to those persons who are engaged in the missions, to those good citizens, the pioneers and prospectors, and to the people on the cattle runs. I have scon in the Northern Territory some glorious examples of Christian conduct. The persons concerned are doing their best to uplift the coloured people, give to them their rightful place in the community, and assimilate them as they should be assimilated. But, as the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and other speakers pointed out, it is not an easy matter, for the black men have their own ways and ideas. What we consider to be desirable and proper on every occasion for the black, men does not accord with their conception of jus.tice and of living a proper and complete life. That point is important, and should be considered by any administrator or other person who is charged with the responsibility of caring for our native people.
I now propose to say a few words about some persons in the Northern Territory who are not so kind as they should be to our native people. I refer to those who have been called upon from time to time to bring the natives, to various points for examination by a doctor, and have failed to carry out their obligations. I should also like to mention briefly the nefarious conduct of some people in the Northern Territory. One outstanding and disgraceful case caine, to my notice. According to my information, a white person who professed to be a
Christian, behaved in a most disgraceful manner. I brought the matter to the attention of the authorities in the territory, and I propose to speak to the Minister later about that specific case. Unfortunately, such things happen. Some white people are not leading the natives along the right path, and are not setting the example that should be set by them in indicating that our way of culture is more desirable than is that of the black man. We should1 also remember that the natives, whilst they accept with certain limitations our form of society, conduct and behaviour, do not wholly throw off the kind of culture and behaviour to which they have been accustomed under tribal’ conditions.
What are we to do with the native people? Some natives are most proficient at their school work. Their drawings, in particular, are outstanding. They are able to express themselves in an extraordinary manner. However, when they leave school, they do not obtain all the advantages that their education should bestow upon them. What is the- outlook for the natives when they leave school? Where are they to go? What opportunities are available to them? Are they to resume the tribal habits and customs? Are they to be treated as persons who are not, wanted in the community? I put it to the House that unless suitable avenues are open for them, our cause ia lost. With the adoption of this report, and the implementation of the proposal regarding full citizenship, a grand field in animal husbandry, particularly cattle-raising, will become available to the natives. As a nomadic people,, they are ideally suited to life on the cattle stations., I found that on the Beswick cattle station controlled by the Department, of Na.ti.ve Affairs under the supervision of Mr. E. Morey, a former police officer, the natives seemed to be completely happy. They were doing a fine job. Their activities among the cattle pleased them immensely, and the.v derived great satisfaction from their liberty, and the opportunity to serve. That system may well be extended. Why does not the Government introduce in tr . Northern Territory the system of native co-operators that was tried with marked success :n Papua? The Reverend
Clint, a Minister of the Church of England in Papua, was most successful with that system. An opportunity awaits in the Northern Territory for the natives to benefit from the advantages of co-operation. Could they not be permitted to run their own cattle stations under the supervision of white people? By so doing, they could, with profit to themselves, play an important part in the development of the great Northern Territory. As the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. “Wentworth) has said, we should go beyond the proposals contained in the statement that has been made by. the Minister. Cattle runs provide an opportunity for the most useful employment of black men. I know of half-castes who operate and control cattle stations with marked success. I am con vinced that if the black men were given the opportunity to operate cattle runs they could do much good for the territory. For instance, some stations which badly need “ pepping-up “ at the present time could be taken over by them. In that way our aborigines could be given a chance to develop their native land.
The reference in the statement to co-operatives should he considered by the House as a positive means of dealing with thi.’ problem of providing useful accommodation for our natives when full citizen rights are given to them. Those who know of the artistic work done by the people of the Arunta tribe, and particularly by the people of the Hermannsburg Mission, have been impressed by the talent displayed. Those people should be encouraged to follow that kind of occupation.. At Hermannsburg it has been found that the native children have a natural flair for depicting action, such as horses bucking and galloping, ©r buffaloes fighting. Natives who are so proficient at drawing and painting- should he given, an opportunity also to become proficient, in- other directions-,, and thus to play an important part in Australian life, I know of one aborigine who is an architect. In my opinion, many other nf) fives could enter similar professions if, at the end of their school days-, they were taken away and encouraged to exploit Hie God-given Ability which reposes in s” many f>f them.
Reference has been made to mining activity in Arnhem Land. “We shall make a great mistake if we preserve in Arnhem Land a vast area of country, unpeopled and unprotected. The development of mining activity in the area, would not only permit great wealth to be obtained from it, but in addition help to make it secure, for the white people as well as for the black people of Australia. Surely it is not suggested that the discovery of silver-lead deposits in -Arnhem Land should be disregarded because the area is a native reserve ! The mining of silver-lead is of great importance to the development of Australia. Much critical comment could be made concerning the lack of mining activity in the Northern Territory and the need to foster such activity in the interests of on.r security and our well-being.
I have no grave objection to the state ment, because as far as I can see it deals with proposals to bestow full citizenship rights upon the natives of this country, to provide them with a reasonable living standard, to uplift them and give to them a place as Australians,, without grade or classification. Those proposals represent progressive steps and should receive the support of the House.
.- The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) has expressed sentiments regarding the native people of Australia which, I am sure, are shared by every Australian who has been to the north and has seen how the native people live. Perhaps the only people who do not share them are those who, by reason of long life among the natives, have become inured to acceptance of the conditions under which they li.ve. The honorable member has rightly said that statements such as that read by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) do not of themselves make a new way of life for native people, and that what is really needed is a change of heart and attitude, of mind on the part of those who live in the territory towards native people. Nevertheless, this statement advances considerably the status of the aboriginal people and marks a significant change in the official attitude towards them. It is also, I believe, evidence of the vigour and determination with which the problems of the native people are being faced by the Minister who, only recently, has assumed responsibility for them.
It was unhelpful of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson) to decry this statement as meaningless and purposeless, considering that he, as Minister for the Interior, was the Minister in charge of the affairs of the native people of the north during the four most critical years of their history. I do not refer to the war years, when their lives were unavoidably interfered with, but to the four years which followed the war. In view of the fact that he was the person responsible for their welfare at this time when nothing was done for them, I think it would have been better had he preserved a decent silence.
This statement marks a great change in the official attitude towards our native people because it establishes that they are entitled to the benefits of full Australian citizenship, and that, instead of being looked upon as a subject and inferior people, they are now to be regarded as Australian citizens to whom, in proper oases, protection must be extended during their years of limited development. Of course, we recognize that, in the present state of the aboriginal people, those to whom protection must be extended make up the bulk of the aboriginal population. But it is hoped that those to whom the protective arm of the administration is extended .will number fewer and fewer in the years immediately ahead of us, and that we may look, before many years have passed, to a large aboriginal population enjoying the full rights of Australian citizenship.
The declaration contained in the statement that provision is being made for rnining to be carried on in aboriginal reserves, and for release from aboriginal reserves of all country which is no longer needed for the purposes of the natives, indicates an abandonment to a considerable degree of the previous official attitude that nothing could be done for the natives other than to leave them alone in reserves. Fortunately, that attitude has been cast aside wholly in favour of the intention to absorb the native people fully within the Australian life.
The debate has shown clearly that there is a widespread acknowledgment in this House, and, indeed, throughout the whole community, of the fact that in the past we. have failed badly in our duty to. our aboriginal people. I believe it to be still possible to recover something for them, particularly in the north of Australia, where they are most numerous and where, only recently, they have been emerging from their tribal conditions. They are definitely needed in the economic life of the Northern Territory. It has been established in quite a large number of cases that they can be absorbed into the economic and social life of the territory. Such cases do not constitute a very large percentage of the aboriginal people, but they exist in sufficient number to show that not only half-castes but also fullblooded aborigines are capable of being absorbed into the economic life of the territory. There is a great demand for half-castes in positions of reasonable responsibility in the pastoral life of the territory. In common with the ‘ honorable member for. Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), I see no reason to believe that these people, who have demonstrated their ability to perform useful productive work in the pastoral industry, should not be able to do useful work in other spheres in the territory.
I recently had an opportunity to travel widely in the territory and I saw a great deal at which to wonder and a great deal to admire. I saw pioneering people at work under conditions which must be similar to those under which our forebears lived more than 100 years ago in this country. I saw a pioneering form of life that had been curiously altered by wireless communication and air travel but not in those essentials which affect the attitude of mind and the spirit of men. I was particularly impressed by the sense of adventure and the independence of mind of the white people in the outback parts of the territory. Their’s is an attitude of mind very different from that of the people in many parts of Australia who are becoming unduly dependent on social services and the welfare, state. Unfortunately, these happy impressions did not extend to the relationship of the white people with the natives of the territory. The natives are wholly regarded and treated as a subject and inferior race for whom little or nothing can be done and for whom there is little hope of progress. That opinion prevails far too ..widely to be observed with comfort by any visitor to the territory.
I consider it to be incorrect to describe the aborigines of the north as an unhappy people. They are not unhappy. Rather, the reverse is true. But they exhibit a listless happiness which is illust rati ve of the fact that they see no future lor themselves and the development of their race. The problem is to provide them with a future and a sense of purpose and security in the community. Before the policy of absorption can be carried out there will have to be a complete change of heart on the part of the whole white community which lives in contact with the aboriginal people. That community will have to cease regarding the blacks as a subject and inferior people. When one sees natives working in an occupation for which they are fitted and in which they are successful it is easy to hope that they may achieve a status of i ‘-quality and independence in the territory. I do not presume to have any knowledge of the native people or the peculiar problems which concern them. T can only say, as one who has had a brief opportunity of observing them, that their present status is one which cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely. We know that they can be usefully employed in the pastoral industry, which depends very largely upon aboriginal and halfcaste labour. There is no doubt that these people have a considerable ability as stock-men and station workers.
– They do not get very much pay, though.
– Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is not in his own seat.
– The farm work at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization experimental station at Katherine is almost wholly done by aboriginal labour, which is given a very high recommendation by the officer iii charge of the station, who sees no reason why the aboriginal people, properly guided, should not make useful agricultural workers. At present, there is practically no agriculture in the territory so there has been very little opportunity for the natives to demonstrate their ability in this way, but as agriculture develops I think that it will provide a very useful avenue of employment for the aborigines.
I think it is obvious that the welfare services of the territory will have to be greatly extended. They are now being administered by a handful of men and women who, unhappily, have not been able to establish a very satisfactory relationship with the non-official white citizens of the territory on whom they must depend for the execution of their policies. I know that it is argued by the officials that the attitude of the white people in the territory is unco-operative and unhelpful. I have no doubt that in some cases, that is true. On the other hand I have seen direct evidence of the most devoted and unselfish work being carried on by white people in the pastoral- community for the aborigines under their care. These are by no means isolated examples of such work. On the other hand, it is argued by the non-official community that the attitude of the native welfare officials is unreal and impractical and I am afraid that very little progress will be made until the attitude of mutual hostility is ended. In the first instance, some public relations work is needed in order to promote better understanding between the official community in charge of native welfare and the nonofficial community which is most frequently in contact with the natives:
I feel very sincerely that the Australian people cannot allow the natives of the territory to remain in their present partcivilized state. There is an obligation on the Australian community and, particularly, on those who live in the territory, to bring about a. change in the attitude of mind to which I have referred. If the natives are to be absorbed into the Australian way of life their living conditions will have to be very greatly improved. Some form of suitable housing will have to be found for them and the way in which they at present live in squalid makeshift camps will have to be altered. I know it is argued that they will not live in houses and that housing has to be provided under government ordinances at great cost. I do not pretend to have any solution of these problems. I only know that they must not remain unsolved. If the welfare services of the territory are to be adequate they will cost a great deal more than they cost at present. More officers, including those who are highly trained, are needed. We also need more schools, more hospitals and the institution of some sort df vocational training for native people. Somehow a way must be found to induce the white people of the territory to accept these needs as real and pressing. I know that, living in the territory are people of vision and high ideals who are working unselfishly for the welfare of the natives under their control. Unfortunately, there are not enough such people.
I hope that the missions will be given a place in the native welfare services, for t believe that they can provide that element of idealism which is so necessary if our native problems are to be solved. However, it is perhaps difficult for the missions to find, in these days, the financial resources they need to enable them adequately to carry out their werk.
– The missions are being almost wholly financed by the Australian Government. One hundred and thirty thousand pounds will be advanced for the -use of missions this financial year.
– I am very pleased to hear that, because if the missions can he integrated with the native welfare services they should be able to assist the work of the Government. In conclusion, I applaud this statement as evidence of an energetic approach by the Minister to our native problems. The House can have confidence that what is now being attempted for the native people of the nor.th will be to their great advantage, and [ believe that if the efforts that are now being made are given the support that they should receive the result will be a new deal for the native peoples of the northern parts of Australia.
.- No two honorable members of this Parliament know more about the Northern
Territory, or the natives in it, than do the Honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson) and the honorable member foi’ the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). No Minister for the Interior before the honorable member for Kalgoorlie held that office did as much or worked as hard in the discharge of his obligations to the Northern Territory as did the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. I believe that 1 should say that in justice to the honorable member.
My knowledge of the Northern Territory, like that of many other honorable members, is of a somewhat fragmentary nature. I have had only a fortnight’? experience of the territory. I tried to see all that I could of the territory within that time, and I also watched a number of my colleagues and saw what they were doing and listened to what they had to ?ay. Generally I noticed an excellent nonpartisan approach to the problems of the Northern Territory. I consider that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck”! acted wisely in arranging for the visit to the territory during the last recess of a group of honorable members and senators from all parties in the Parliament. 3 hope that i t will become a precedent which will be followed each year in June and July so that honorable members can both escape the rigours of a southern winter climate and improve their knowledge of the most vulnerable part of Australia.
The Northern Territory has a. population .of about 13:00.0 described a.* “white”. However, it is not -really a white population. I was told by, the headmaster of’ the public school at Alice Springs that 42 per cent, of the children who attend his school are of part aboriginal blood. That proportion was composed of three-quarter castes, half-castes, quarter-castes and eighth-castes. The honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) need not worry about the absorption or assimilation of our native population, because it is proceeding all the time. While in the Northern Territory I mot. three or four white men who are married to aboriginal women, and such conditions have existed ever since there has been white settlement in this country, and will continue to exist, until ultimately we assimilate the native population. In Alice Springs the birth-rate is36 a thousand.That is much higher than the average for Australia, Great Britain and the United States of America, which is about 22 athousand.Indeed, it isnot much less thanthebirthrateofCanberra. which is 42 a thousand - as high as that of Cairo. The only difference betweenCanberra and Cairo in that regard is that the children born in Canberra do not die so soon as do those bornin Cairo.
The Minister will do the right thing if he abolishes thu exemption certificate which many persons,some of them even octaroons, have to obtain and carry with them if fhey desire to drink intoxicating liquor in the Northern Territory. One such man is a half-caste who won a military medal in the last war. Several other men of mixed blood also have been decorated. While in the Army and while out of the Northern Territory they are able to drink intoxicating liquor, but within the territory they have to carry a licence in one of their pocket3 which is termed with bitterness a “ dog collar “ licence. There is a great deal of discontent among them. Every one of the 42 per cent, of the school children in Alice Springs whom I mentioned previously will have to suffer this disability when they grow toadulthood if the law is not altered. Throughout the Northern Territory there was a lot of hostility towards the Government and towards the Australian Parliament because of the continuance of this obsolete system of trying to protect the aboriginal or parta.boriginal against the evils of intoxicating liquor.
– That sort of system operates also in New South Wales.
– I am not aware of the conditions in New South Wales or some of the other States. I believe that the Minister has done well in having informed the House that the Legislative Council for the territory, at its next sitting, will pass a bill to abolish the exemption certificate system in the Northern Territory. That action will place persons of part aboriginal blood on the same foot- ing as white persons, and deal in the same way with persons who offend against the law, whether they be white or coloured. That is a distinct social advance. We must try to assist the aborigines and part aborigines in every way possible. In the school at Darwin I saw children who were part Asiatic and part aboriginal, and others who were part Filipino, Malay or white and part aboriginal. All those children were working together well. There were some pure-blooded Chinese children who wore the (residueofan earlier big Chinese population. Itis interesting to remind ourselves that Chinese built the railway from Darwin to Pine Creek, and that some of their descendants are still in the territory. The Chinese do not intermarry as muchas do the aborigines, and tend to remain as an Asiatic core. However, their assimilation is gradually proceeding. If honorable members desire to see how successful our educators have been in the Northern Territorythey should look at the report of the Darwin higher primary school, a copy of which was given to me by the headmaster. According to the reportthere are children of many colours and mixtures in the school but they all are , good Australians. There are twelve prefects at the school, six of whom are not of white blood - most of them being Chinese pure blood or Chinese and white. There were four champion athletes at the school and there was nol a white child among them. One was aChinese girl, another was a girl of mixed Chinese and aboriginal blood, and the others were boys of mixed European and aboriginal blood. These children must be provided with occupations suited to their abilities when they are ready to leave school. They are not afforded the opportunities to enter the higher grades of the Public Service, such as the Third Division andeven the Fourth Division, that ought to be afforded to thom. Unless we give to these fellowcitizens, who are our brethren, opportunities equal to those that are available to white citizens, we shall tend to foster a. fifth column in our midst. At Alice Springs I visited the Anglican mission that was mentioned by the honorable member for Mackellar ; (Mr. Wentworth-), and I met Sister Eileen, who asked me why the Government could not provide the mission withhalf a dozen electrically operated sewing machines, material and orders for clothing so that she could provide employment for girls of partly aboriginal descent. At present, these girls have nothing but the Gap to look forward to when they leave school. The Gap is an over-crowded part-aboriginal settlement near Alice Springs which is not a credit to us. It is an eye-sore. Sister Eileen told me that, if the equipment were provided, she could employ the girls so that they would earn a reasonable wage and could look forward ultimately to a happy marriage. Their fate,, when she is obliged to turn them adrift at the age of sixteen years, Ls a matter for our conscience. Many of these unfortunate girls become an easy prey to white men. What the honorable member for Kal’goorlie told the House about the Catholic missions at Melville Island and Bathurst Island is equally true of tho Alice Springs Anglican mission at the opposite extremity of the territory.
We are under a heavy obligation to r rv to (dean up the humpies and huts in which aborigines are living in Darwin and elsewhere. In fact, many white men are living in these awful structures, which arc little better than wurlies. The” are a source of disease and degradation. How can people, either native or white, buy houses in Darwin under present conditions? A prefabricated house that costs £1,920 in England costs £6,500 or £7,000 when it is finally erected at Darwin. Perhaps such prohibitive costs should be laid at the door of racketeering contractors in the territory. Unless these costs are reduced, the de-tribalized natives, at any rate, will continue to live in. evil surroundings and will not be able to make the contributions to the development of Australia that they would otherwise make.
The problems of the Northern Territory should be approached on the grand scale. We must open, up the territory. We need a trans-continental standard gauge railway line from. Darwin to Adelaide with a branch line from Newcastle. Waters to the Barkly Tableland connecting with the Queensland railway system., and another line to Wyndham, in the north-east of Western
Australia. Many men who never will be pastoralists, agriculturists or even miners could be employed on the difficult work of construction because they are inured to the conditions in the territory. We should also help those natives who have displayed extraordinary skill at the Hermannsburg Mission. Namatjira, Pararultja and at least fifteen others, under the skilful and devoted guidance of Rex Battersby, are painting scenes of the country in which they live that are real works of art. A man like Namatjira receives big fees. I have been told that some of his paintings have been sold for 150 guineas each. His earnings are taxed, but, under tribal law, Namatjira has obligations, not only to his wife and children, but also to all other members of his tribe. The Commissioner of Taxation takes no notice of his tribal obligations but taxes him as though he were a white man. That procedure should at least be investigated by the Director of Welfare. I am glad that, the nomenclature of that post has been changed from that of Director of Native Affairs and that the occupant of the position will have the responsibility of looking after the welfare of all residents of the territory. By that means, all citizens will be treated on the same level. However, we ought to recognize certain tribal obligations and we should not discourage those great artists, who are primitive aborigines in every other respect, from continuing to develop their talents and to help others to exploit their talents also. I consider that it would be a worthwhile gesture if the Commissioner of Taxation were to waive tax on the earnings of such men as Namatjira so that the money that they earn might be used entirely for the benefit and uplift of their fellow natives. None of it should be diverted to the Treasury for other purposes.
The Administrator of the Northern Territory should have more authority than he has at present. I consider that he should be given power to co-ordinate the activities of all departments in the territory when necessary.
– In theory he already has such power.
– He should be informed more clearly of his powers. The
Department of Health, for instance, wishes to tate action on occasions in the interests of natives who are suffering from leprosy but is hampered by lack of funds. The Administrator has authority to expend only £500-
– No. His delegation is up to £10,000.
– That is good. I understood that the limit was much less than that.
– That delegation applies within prescribed categories.
– I am pleased to have that assurance from the Minister. I hope that the Administrator will be vested with power to co-ordinate the work of the various departments in the territory, because the activities of one frequently impinges upon the activities of others and, unless there is a certain freedom of authority, bottlenecks are caused. I am glad that the Minister appreciates the situation, especially in the light of certain facts that were brought forcefully to my attention when the DirectorGeneral of Health visited the Northern Territory about the time when ten members of this Parliament joined the honorable member for the Northern Territory in order to see what he wanted them to see in his- electorate. I congratulate my honorable friend upon the successful conclusion of his fight to secure recognition of the rights of Australians who are partly of aboriginal descent - I dislike referring to them as “ coloured “ persons. Those men and women considered themselves to be the victims of discrimination in the past, but now they need not suffer from any such inhibitions.
The treatment of leprosy in the Northern Territory is a worrying problem. A case of leprosy was discovered in the public school at Darwin recently. Any money that is required for the purpose of eradicating the dread disease should be provided without question. Every encouragement should be given to the natives to submit themselves for treatment. Unfortunately, an unfavorable psychological effect arises from the system of treating victims. A person who has been cured after a few years of treatment by doctors and nurses at a settlement usually will not go back to his tribe. His fellow tribesmen say, “People who leave us never come back”, and they do not want to send others to the settlements for treatment. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is doing a very good job at Katherine, and also at the Kimberley Research Station in Western Australia. The work which that great body is doing will be very helpful in opening up a lot of agricultural land in the territory. It will be important, too, for the pastoral industry. All that will ultimately be of benefit to the natives. I am speaking only with the experience of a fortnight’s journey in the territory, but I ask the Minister to keep in mind the possibility that a number of pastoralists there are not paying to the natives the wage which the former Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) laid down that they should be paid. The complaint is being made that some of the natives are still being used as sweated labour.
.- The growing realization of the strategic value of the Northern Territory, of the richness of its pastoral industry and vast uranium deposits, emphasizes the need for more adequate representation in this Parliament of so great an area. It is anomalous that,- although the Northern Territory is a tract of country equivalent in extent to the areas of France, Western Germany, Italy and Austria combined, its representative, in this Parliament is not permitted to vote except upon matters that affect the territory. I hasten to add that I do not intend to reflect upon the present honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), who is regarded highly by those whom he represents and by others who are acquainted with the territory. He is a conscientious and able man, and I hope that he will be here for many years to come. But his constitutional position is invidious. He can be described as a gummy shark in the parliamentary sea. He can swim and sport with the other fishes; but, being deprived of a vote upon the vast majority of the matters that come before this House, he is unable to give effect, in the manner that the security of the nation demands, to the point of view of the people he represents and of the huge area in which they live.
I believe that the Northern Territory should be represented in this Parliament by at least two members with plenary powers. It would not be a valid objection to say that the territory is very sparsely populated. Its economic and strategic importance justifies a greater and more effective representation. It is a pity that, when this Parliament was enlarged by a previous Government, more adequate consideration was not given to this matter and fuller representation was not granted to the territory. It was not logical to grant the same representation to the Australian Capital Territory as to the Northern Territory, because the former territory is small, although it has a population of about 20,000, whilst the area of the latter is over 500,000 square miles. I agree with the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) that it is necessary, as soon as possible, to ?ltrengthen the Legislative Council for the territory. I am certain that most honorable1 members believe that the problems of the territory will not be solved by direct rule and direct interference from Canberra. The history of the development of backward areas is rich in illustrations of the fact that there is a greater degree of progress when the.”e i? more decentralization and greater responsibility is placed on the people who live in them.
– in reply - I regret that the passage of time has left me with a very limited opportunity to reply to the many interesting points that have been raised in this debate. This occasion has something of a historical quality. For a number of years, the welfare of the native people of Australia has been my particular study, and I think I can claim to be fairly well acquainted with the literature on the subject. As far as I can recall, on no occasion since the foundation of the National Parliament has this House been addressed by so many speakers in a single debate on native welfare. I cannot recall any previous occasion when honorable members on both sides of the House contributed such a wide variety of expressions of opinion upon this very important subject. It is very encouraging to see more attention being given at last to native welfare. If the National Parliament does not accept and discharge its responsibility to the nativepeople of Australia, who else can discharge it ? The occasion is also interesting because there has been the nearest approach to unanimity of opinion that we have reached upon a single subject during the life of this Parliament. It is encouraging to look forward to a succession of years during which this subject will be lifted above the ordinary controversies that separate political parties and will be regarded as a great national social subject that will receive, as it merits, equal consideration from successive governments.
Mr. Ward interjecting,
– I am not astonished that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), as usual, dissents from the general body of opinion in this country when a humanitarian or charitable proposition is under consideration. One point that appears to have been overlooked in the debate is the diversity of the problems of native welfare with which we are faced in the Northern Territory. Almost every observation made by honorable members who have participated in the debate has application to a particular instance. Not all the observations are sound as general statements of the position as a whole. In the Northern Territory, as throughout the rest of Australia, the native problem is not a singleproblem, but a series of problems. Many different groups of people are in different, sta ces of progress from a primitive cultureto the civilized ways of the white community. We must always bear that point in mind if we wish to avoid the confusion that would be caused by applying a remedy suitable to- one set of circum stances to another set of circumstances for which it may he quite inappropriateand even futile.
Let me try to indicate the way in which the progress from the state of a primitivetribesman to assimilation into a whitecommunity has gone on during the last generation, and is going on at the present” time. We commence with a native tribesman, living with his tribe in open country. At that stage, a reserve to serve his needs is required. It is necessary to him for hunting purposes and for tribal ceremonies, but it is not necessary for Cultivation, because he does not practise cultivation. From the moment contact is made with white men two things begin to happen: The aboriginal tends to become detribalized, and he becomes acquainted with new foods and develops new desires. In order to satisfy those desires he abandons his own territory, and comes, of his own volition, during the course of several generations, into closer association with white people. He depends less and less on his old hunting grounds, and attaches less and less importance to tribal ceremonies. At first he may become attached to a government settlement or a mission station; and as his education and social advancement are attempted the tendency is for him to become more and more closely associated with white ways. He may take employment in the white community. Eventually the white community surrounds him and almost engulfs him. Our task is to ensure that the transition from his old tribal state to his new detribalized state shall be made without distress to him, and that he shall enter the white community at a standard that will be convenient and happy for him and for ns.
That explanation is necessary in view of some of the statements of the honorAble member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) about the dispossession of. the natives. What happens when they move from their tribal grounds is not dispossession in the sense of taking away something which continues to be essential. The aborigines do not need land in the sense that it is necessary -v for them to have a plot of lAnd to cultivat because, in their transitional state, they have no understanding of the art of cultivation. There is no point in talking of restoring their possessions. To do so would involve turning them back into the bush. The need is to give to them a new ‘ possession, and I agree with the honorable member for Fremantle, the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) and the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) that there is an obligation on us to give land and show them how to use it, and to pro vide for them employment and a place in the community. It is not enough just to declare their citizenship or to educate them, or to look after their health. We must give to them a place where they can live, and we must provide them with means to earn a living. However, when we do that, we do not restore an ancient possession, because their only ancient possession was a hunting ground. Bather do we provide them with a new possession in a new communty, and bring them to a way of life that is novel te them.
The statement that I have made deals with only one aspect of the subject, and is to be regarded as a first instalment. Last October, I recounted the proceedings of the first meeting of the Native Welfare Council, at which we considered the future of the aborigines in relation to such matters as citizenship, health, education, employment and housing. Certain recommendations were drawn up and accepted by the Australian Government. After that conference a departmental committee of officers in Darwin, under the chairmanship of the Administrator, met to consider the matter, and 1 asked them to tell me how we could apply in practice the recommendations that had been adopted. The committee did a thoroughly good job, and I am glad to take this opportunity to acknowledge publicly the value of their work. They presented a report which, under the headings of health, education, citizenship and housing, sets out the practical steps that should be taken to achieve the results at which we aimed, and we are now seeking -to give effect to their recommendations. My first duty was to announce to the House - and there was no more fitting place in which to make the announcement - the decision of the Government regarding citizenship. Action is also being taken to deal with the other recommendations, and at a later stage, when more time is available, I shall inform the House of what .we are doing in the matters of health, education and housing.
– What about employment?
– The administration i3 charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the’ provisions of ordinances regarding employment shall be enforced.
So far as I know, they are being strictly observed. If any honorable member is aware of a specific instance of nonobservance of labour conditions I shall be glad to hear of it, and the matter will be investigated.
Question resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from the 7th August (vida page 147), on motion by. Mr. Casey -
That the following papers be printed: -
United Nations - General Assembly - Sixth Session, Paris, November, 1951 - February, 1952 - SummaryReport of Australian Delegation.
Question resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Mr. Euro J. Harrison) - byleave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt ) frommaking his Speech in Committee of Supply on the budget without limitation of time.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 6th August (vide page 99), on motion by Sir Arthur Fadden -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division No. 1 - The Senate - namely, “ Salaries and Allowances, £1.1,500.”, be agreed to.
– I am obliged to honorable members for having given me leave to deliver this vital speech on the budget in the same way and with the same freedom as was given to the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden). If studied carefully, the Treasurer’s speech shows that it is impossible to form a judgment on the present budget without some comparison with the financial and economic policies - if we can call them that - which have been pursued in the past few years by the present Government. Honorable members will recall that the Ministers of this Government, in attacking the Chifley Labour Government of 1949, repeated over and over again, that the Australian £1 of those days had insufficient real value. They made a feature of their claim that the value of the £1 could and would be restored by the present coalition Government. They promised to restore full purchasing power to the £1 and claimed that that would be done by reducing prices and costs. The sequel is known to everybody. There is no need for me to quote figures or even to refer to the few comparisons which would be conclusive evidence of the whole trend. I say without qualification that the Chifley £1 of 1949 was worth much more than the MenziesFadden £1 of to-day. Probably it was worth twice as much. All honorable members will agree on that point irrespective of the reasons for the trend, on which there will always be a difference of political opinion.
The budget last year was called by the press “ the horror budget “. The term was applied not withoutjustification, but that budget was presented by the Treasurer as the cure-all for inflation. He suggested to honorable members that if they passed the budget, everything would be all right. It was all so simple. What was the magic formula? The Treasurer claimed that too much money was chasing too few goods. The Government’s solution seemed naive and yet it was definite. The Treasurer was dogmatic. In effect he said, “Destroy or deflate income and there will be less demand. Hit the wage and salary earners and all producers by increased taxation, both direct and indirect. Then all income will be reduced and inflation will be defeated “. That was the argument that was put forward bythe Treasurer and accepted by the committee. Honorable members on the Opposition side did not agree with that opinion. We contended that the Government was going from one extreme to another. What had the Government done in a positive way to combat inflation in the eighteen months preceding the presentation of that budget? Whatwas the main point of its policy? It did practically nothing. No legislative measure of a financialor an economic kind was submitted to the Parliament during that period. Then suddenly, in the budget last year, the Government went to the opposite extreme and inflicted upon the people punishing and excessive taxation. Honorable members on the Opposition side contended then that a recession of demand would be created as a result of excessive taxation and a drastic administration of bank advance policy. “We also contended that inflation and costs would not be stopped but that, in fact, they ‘would be accelerated by the gigantic increase in sales taxation.
The committee knows that sales taxation was never intended to be borne by the person who pays the taxation to the Government - that is, the seller. It was intended to be paid by the public. If aburden of sales taxation estimated to total more than £100,000,000. is levied upon the whole purchasing power of the community, the first effect of it must be inflationary. It is perfectly true that not all of the amount was collected, but the great bulk of it was gathered, and the effect was a. worsening of inflation. The criticisms of honorable members on the Opposition side have been justified. Has the budget proved its efficacy? Were the assumptions of the Treasurer correct? First of all, without going into the question of degree, there is no doubt that a definite trade recession has commenced. Indications of that are scattered throughout the Treasurer’s speech on the present budget. For the first time in ten years, a substantial degree of unemployment has appeared. Recently members heard a statement by the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McBride) to that effect and the fact is not contested although the figures are in dispute. The Minister gravely underestimated the extent of the unemployment, but undoubtedly it has reached a substantial degree. I invite honorable members to look- back to the cause of this unemployment. They will discover that it has not come about as a mere accidental by-product of the Government’s budget of last year. For proof of the accuracy of that statement I refer the committee to the press of the 31st January of the preceding year, which published an official statement that had been issued, it was said by a senior Minister - we understand that a most senior Minister authorized it. - which indicated that unemployment had been deliberately brought about by government policy in the hope that displaced workers would find employment in industries which were thought by the Government to be satisfactory to the general economy.
– Ministers called it disemployment.
– As my colleague, the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) reminds me, they did not want to call it unemployment. After so many years of full employment, under both the Labour Government and this Government, the existence of unemployment was a strange phenomenon, se they called it disemployment. However, thai, term has not become popular. Indeed, it is most unpopular, and the Treasurer, in this budget speech, has changed it again and referred to transitional unemployment. That is fair enough, as long a? we know what we are talking about an. that these circumstances were brought, about as a result of deliberate acts of the Government. People have been removed from their employment as the result of the policy of credit restriction and the Government’s taxation policy including its sales tax impositions, as far as a government is able directly to remove them, in the expressed hope that they will find more useful jobs from the point of view of the economy. But the consequences of such a policy have been disastrous. In an integrated society like ours, it is impossible to make such changes without endangering our economy. It is true that some workers will find their way to one form of employment and some to others, but the textile worker will not find his way to the heavy industries. That is not intended. If unemployment takes place not as a direct result of government policy it is necessary to institute a proper training scheme to fit the unemployed for other avocations. Nothing of that kind was intended by the Government. On that aspect of policy, perhaps most of all, we were opposed to the Government. We believed that the whole force of the community was being exerted to destroy the- purchasing power of the people by huge taxation - removing incentives, to use the popular phrase in this instance - and that unemployment was being deliberately brought about in the way that I have mentioned. It must not be assumed that the policy was greeted with approval by the manufacturers of Australia. The example of an unessential industry given by a Government spokesman was, curiously enough, the textile industry. That suggestion was very warmly resented by those who speak for the textile industry. Let me contrast, the policy of the Government with the view that we take on the subject of unemployment. The more closely we examine the budget the more apparent it becomes that the problem before the Parliament and the country is the problem of unemployment. My colleagues on this side of the chamber are more familiar than I am with the consequences of the Government’s policy on some industries, and, no doubt, great attention will be given to them during the budget debate.
Unemployment is increasing and seems likely still further to increase. There is certainly nothing in the budget that will put a single unemployed man back to work. Since 1944, full employment has been a pivotal point in the economic policy of the Labour party. We succeeded in embodying a recognition of that principle in international agreements such as the United Nations Charter, but I can see from what has happened in Australia that that principle will have to be fought for once again. I am satisfied that certain interests in Australia do not want full employment. Certainly it is a deliberate part of the policy of this Government to increase the rates of interest, yet I believe it to be an integral part of full employment that interest rates should be low and remain low. That has always been regarded as basically essential to the successful working of a full employment policy.
At the same time inflation of prices has been accentuated.’ The Government’s measures to combat inflation that were outlined in the budget oflast year have completely failed. In our view the Government made the gravest error when it refused to tackle the question of economic stabilization, and when it refused over and over again to use prices control, through the Commonwealth with the consent and co-operation of the States, as a means of achieving economic stability. The States wanted the Commonwealth to use that means. How can. the government of a State fix the price of any. commodity on an Australia -wide basis when another State Government may determine that the price of the commodity should be increased? If a high price is fixed by one State all other States must conform to it. How could inflation be expected to disappear when last year the Government increased sales tax to record heights with the precise intention that the purchaser should bear the burden of the additional tax through the higher price? In the result, prices inevitably rose. As a consequence of high taxation and the Government’s credit restriction policy incomes dropped sharply, demand was reduced, prices were increased, the people lost confidence in the Government, as has been shown by the results of election after election in every State; so the Government’s budgetary plan of last year has proved to be a complete failure.
Mr. Chifley, in one of his last speeches, said-
On economic matters the Menzies-Fadden Government gave a promise to put value back in the £1 and failed miserably. This Government said that the States could handle prices, and you all know what has happened to State price control. You can’t organize this nation in an emergency unless matters that have a national application are nationallycontrolled. This Government said it had a cure for economic ills. It promised everything. That was either complete hypocrisy or sheer stupidity. Price control is an ingredient in the overall picture. Nothing but the most drastic action will stabilize the Australian £1, let alone put value back in it. How long the Australian people will go on putting -up with this Government’s dithering, I don’t know.
Those comments have been justified by the events of the last twelve months and the Government, by its economic and financial devices - its fits and starts measures - is still dithering with the problem. The Government by its own actions added to the great problem of inflation of. prices the even greater, more serious and terrible problem of a threat to the employment of the people of Australia. 1 turn to a closer examination of this much-heralded budget which the Government claims to be an incentive budget. In fact, it was boosted before the Treasurer delivered his budget speech. It seemed that every one knew what the Government’s proposals were going to be, mid 90 per cent, of’ the predictions proved to be correct. But when we look at the budget we find that the primary producer will receive little or no incentive, that the manufacturer will receive no benefit and that persons who derive their income from salaries, or wages, are in much the same position. The budget lias been aptly described by one of Australia’s leading newspaper editors as “ dull, uninspiring and disappointing “. That, editor has declared -
It may ni ako n few share prices rise a little om the stock exchange, and it is said that the drooping spirits of members of the Government parties have risen. But these, are illusory and at the best transitory efforts. There is nothing- and this is the essence of the budget from the point of view of employment - that would lead one more man to be employed in Australia or to call back any of the confidence which the business community in Australia has lost in the Government. lit is obvious that this budget is induced to a substantial degree by by-election panic; but when the Government comes to the barrier all it can produce is a number of minor palliatives. There i« nothing indicated in the budget to arrest the drift to recession and unemployment, lit is not sufficient for the Government to make a few minor concessions or to try to appease pressure groups. The small concessions that are made in the budget appear to give temporary relief in some directions, but the major problems are left completely untouched; and once again the historian is proved correct when he says, “ Small concessions often do not produce small consequences - they produce no consequences at all”.
In dealing with the more important aspects of the budget, I propose to indicate more effective measures which might bc taken and to indicate critically the Opposition’s approach to it in an endeavour to be constructive and in the hope that our suggestions will not be thrown out as this Government has so often thrown them out during the last few years- - ‘First, the Opposition says that there is no basic reason for a depression, or even a recession, in this country. 1 believe that all honorable members will agree with that statement. There is not the slightest excuse for unemployment in Australia. It is proper and fair to say that Australia has hardly begun its expansion in the modern world. Certainly, there is no excuse for businesses to close their doors, shut down departments, ration work or dismiss employees. Members of the Opposition are confident that a Government which administered the principles of the Labour party’s full employment policy could gradually restore stability to the Australian economy. We are convinced - surely this is a fair thing to say - that we could finance the present period of peace just as effectively as we financed the crucial years of war during which Labour was in office. Labour did not fail the people in time of war, and Labour would not fail them in time of peace.
What does the Government propose in this budget in order to halt the rising cost nf living? During the last financial year, prices have risen by over 20 per cent, and the basic wage has been increased by approximately £2 a week. The increase of the basic wage did not result from any new order of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, but occurred as a direct and automatic result of increases of the prices of necessary commodities without which the workers of Australia could not perform their duties as workers. A special burden has thus been thrown upon all persons with fixed incomes, such as pensioners. One feature of the budget is that although the proposed increases of pension rates are welcome the increases are totally inadequate. I mention particularly the special rate war pension which has been entirely overlooked in the budget. I can only conclude that that has been due to an oversight. I ask the Government to rectify that omission as soon as possible. On balance, the standard of living of all pensioners will have declined even after these budgetary proposals have been implemented.
Curiously, this is happening at a time when the Government proposes to remit more than £6,000,000 of land tax. The reasons that the Treasurer ha? offered for that position deserve the closest attention. He has said, correctly, that in more recent years land tax is, in fact, borne for the most part by those who own land in the great cities and that as the tax is levied on the unimproved value of land it is seldom applicable to rural land. Consequently, those who will get the benefit of this remission of £6,000,000 of land tax will be a few powerful vested interests in the large cities. I do not see any reason for the repeal of land tax at the present time when only meagre and obviously inadequate concessions are being made to more .deserving sections of the community. Such a policy indicates what is called regressive finance. That is to say, the greater burden is imposed on those who are least able to bear it. That fact can be proved in a dozen instances in respect of this budget. The least benefit comparatively is being given to those who are most urgently in need of assistance, particularly war pensioners and persons in receipt of age and invalid pensions. I suppose one might expect that errors and omissions would be made in the budget. The Government has completely failed to give any stability to the economy despite its twin promises on which it won the general election of 1949, that it would reduce taxes and that it would increase the purchasing value of the £1.
I turn now to taxation on incomes. The remission of the 10 per cent, levy that was imposed last year has been made the great feature of the budget. It is quite clear that when that remission becomes operative it will give little, if any, real net benefit to the majority of taxpayers in the lower and middle income brackets. By that, I do not mean merely that the benefit will be small but that the hurden of income taxation in the great majority of instances will be not decreased but increased. In effect, it is not a genuine reduction of income tax. That fact is indicated in the broad by the figures given in statement No. 3 attached to the budget speech. In spite of the Treasurer’s claim, in somewhat ambiguous language, about the effect of the concessions, the fact remains that whereas last financial year revenue from income tax amounted to, £3S6,700,000, which represented an enormous increase compared with revenue derived from income tax in any previous year, it is estimated that under these proposals, and after the 10 per cent, levy on taxable income has been repealed, not less than £383,500,000, or practically the same gigantic figure, will be derived from income tax during the current financial year. There is a column in the statement which shows the estimated revenue from the Government’s effective proposals, in which the Treasurer seeks to make it appear that the Government will give concessions to the taxpayers aggregating £23,020,000. Presumably what the right honorable gentleman meant was that if taxation were continued at the old rates he would have received £23,000,000 more revenue during this financial year. He is, in fact, going to take about £3S3,000,000 in taxes in this financial year instead of about £386,000,000 that was taken in the last financial year. I ask the committee to consider carefully the Government’s so-called “ effective proposals “. It was misleading for the Treasurer to say that tax relief to the extent of £49,570,000 is to be given to the people. The Treasurer said, in effect, “ It could have been much worse if I had gone on with the old proposals, but I am going to stick as nearly as possible to the amount I got last year “. “With prices still rising, the aggregate national income, in term’s of money value, will go up and again give the Treasurer an especially wide base for the extraction of taxes. Much of the rise in the present year will be due to basic wage adjustments, caused by increases of price’s, although they only cover part of the actual commodity costs. But these rises have the effect of bringing wage-earners, not only at the basic wage level, but also at the higher levels, into higher brackets fo.r the purpose of income tax. Accordingly, the supposed remission of 10 per cent, will bring little, if any, relief to the great majority of taxpayers and, in effect, the relief will go to very few people in very high income brackets, where it is least needed. I have prepared a special table which gives a comparison of annual taxes payable in the last financial year and this financial year. It is based on the, assumption, which I think is the proper one, that bad wage increases should be taken into account in the comparison of the two years. The basic wage in Sydney rose by approximately £2 a week during the last twelve months. Therefore there will be an increase of incomes of about £100 per annum. In such case the table shows a net increase of tax to be paid, not a reduction. With the consent of the committee, I incorporate the table in Hansard. It is as follows: -
It is assumed that a taxpayer with a dependent wife and two children, who received an actual income of £500 in 1951-52 will receive an actual income of £600 in the current financial year, due to the basic wage quarterly adjustments. Last year, with the 10 per cent. levy, he paid tax of £911s. This year, with the levy gone, he will pay tax of £18 16s., an increase of £9 5s.
Government members interjecting,
– Honorable members opposite have to face the position!
– It is so ridiculous.
– I am dealing with the increase of income, not with the cost of living. My submission applies not only tothose persons in receipt of the basic wage, but also to those in receipt of margins, who comprise an enormous percentage of the taxpayers. The fact is that before there will be any net benefit as a result of the so-called 10 per cent. remission of tax, the income of a man with a dependent wife and two children will have to rise to £2,163 per annum. In other words, it is not a remission at all. The figures contained in the sentence of the Treasurer’s budget speech to which I have referred indicate that there will be practically no reduction, even in the aggregate, and that the benefit of the tax remission will go only to people who are in receipt of very high incomes indeed. I shall cite another illustration. I will assume that a man with a dependant wife and two children who received actual income of £1,000 in 1951-52 will receive £1,100 in this financial year, on which he will be required to pay tax of £104 6s., after allowing for the 10 per cent. reduction. In the last financial year he paid tax of £91 10s. Therefore, he will be £12 16s. worse off.
Government members interjecting ,
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - Order! I must insist that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) be heard in silence.
-I assure the committee that the figures I have cited are accurate. Instead of making what was thought to be an enormous reduction of taxation the Treasurer is making only the tiniest reduction. I am assuming, as I have stated clearly, that increases of thebasic wage will take place, and therefore all those people who are in receipt of salary and wages that are governed by awards, both State and Federal, will suffer a loss. Therefore, I contend that the so-called 10 per cent. deduction is a sham. It is a snare and a complete delusion. The Treasurer has referred to the budget as an incentive budget. The people will have to pay more taxes. Will that be an incentive to the wage-earner? He will say, “Despite the 10 per cent, reduction [ have to pay more tax than I did last year “. That is the effect of the proposal, and the statement cannot be denied.
I turn now to the Government’s proposals in relation to public works and investment. The level of investment this year will be lower than during the last financial year. In actual physical terms of men and material, the budget offers little relief in a deteriorating employment position. The total works programme of the Commonwealth will require an expenditure of about £112,600,000, of which about £106,600,000 will come from revenue. The total works programme of the Commonwealth during the last financial year involved an expenditure of about £115,700,000, or slightly higher, in money value than that proposed for this year. As the value of money has- fallen by 17.5 per cent, in the last twelve months there will be a substantial fall in the real value of investment, that is in the physical quantity of maintenance and development offered by the Commonwealth at a time when unemployment is increasing, and when, in the interests of development and defence, communications and transport are of vital importance. The proposed vote conceals a reduction of the work to be done. That is the position of the Commonwealth. The position of the States is even more serious. The total State programme this year is fixed at £190,000,000 compared with £215,000,000 last year. In the light of increased costs of labour and materials, this obviously is a reduction of more than 25 per cent, in physical terms. For the semigovernmental authorities, a provisional plan, has been suggested which involves an increase in terms of finance, but even if the whole of that programme were undertaken, it would not be much greater than last year’s programme in real terms. Thus, the total programme of public investment in Australia is substantially less than it was last year in real terms. The figure for this year is £427,000,000 compared with £431,000,000 last year, but, having regard to the reduced purchasing power of the £1, the reduction in physical terms is substantial. Certainly it is an ominous and dangerous reduction at a time when mass unemployment is looming in this country. When the state of private investment is taken into account, it is obvious that there is bound to be a dedin? in investment as a whole, and therefore, in the level of employment. A decline has already occurred. There is nothing in the budget to bring about a recovery. The budget merely underlines, and indeed, underwrites, the already determined policy of the Government to reduce the level of investment, and consequently the level of employment. The Treasurer talks glibly of a surplus of basic materials, but that surplus is due rather to the decline in demand than to the increase of production. In many industries thai are producing building materials, such a? the timber industry and the brick-making industry, workers are being stood down. The unemployment figures have been given in the press from time to time.
The Treasurer referred to the use of central bank credit for what he Galled “ essential works of a truly developmental and productive kind “ ; but he seemed to limit the use of credit to the underwriting of no more than £135,000,000 of the works programmes of the States. Nevertheless, he is proceeding to finance nearly the whole of the Commonwealth capital works programme out of revenue. It would be quite possible for him to finance part or even all of the Commonwealth V programme from credit if he were really determined to. restore full employment. Such a policy would still have, given him a balanced budget on running account, and would have enabled him to reduce taxes to the level of the real tax burden that prevailed before he raised taxes so drastically last year. But what is h? doing? He is keeping both the Commonwealth and State works programmes down, and, at the same time, he i.= doubling the provision for unemployment relief. Apparently he is acutely aware that his budget is bound to cause further unemployment, and he wants to protect himself against the claim that the old rates of relief meant starvation standards as they certainly would on present prices and terms. However, even the proposed new rates are unsatisfactory. They might have been reasonable when the Government came into office at the end of 1949. but its electoral promise to put value back into the £1 has ma.de. the physical adequacy of this provision for unemployment relief, almost fantastically unreal and inadequate as it has with all money values. In this connexion I have just received the following telegram from the President of the Australasian Council of Trades Unions, Mr. Monk : -
Unemployment benefit rates should be on basic wage to operate first pay period August compared with rates fixed on June, 1945. Figure for male C2s. fid., spouse 50s., first child 12s. fid.
The Government use of central bank credit is important. It is a belated and partial recognition of the deteriorating position into which the Australian economy has sunk under this Government’s policy. The reference in the Treasurer’s speech to the use of central bank credit is a characteristically indirect and. grudging admission, as if the Government were afraid of this method of relieving an almost desperate situation. We cannot forget the fact that both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have publicly lectured and rather hectored -the Premiers on the alleged iniquity of the use of central bank credit. In many debates in committee, and in the House, Government supporters have asked us, “Do you really want to use treasurybills ? “, yet, at that very time, the Treasurer was quietly injecting no less than £45,000,000 of such credit into the economy. I am not criticizing the use of central bank credit. I am merely pointing out that this method of finance was being used at the very time when the State Premiers were being told “ You cannot raise money that way “. We are reminded of the old story of the refusal by the Commonwealth Bank Board to accede to the request by the then Prime Minister, Mr. Scullin, for £18,000,000 of credit from the bank to help the unemployed of this nation. The Labour Government was told, “ There is not that much money in Australia. You simply cannot get £18,000,000 “. But when the war came and the people of Australia were determined that this country should play its part, unlimited supplies of central bank credit were available to destroy the enemy and save the nation. Surely the use of central bank credit for developmental purposes is a much sounder proposition than its use for destruction. Our capital equipment has been worn out on war production and money is needed to restore it so that it may be applied to reproductive work. It is gratifying to know that the Government has, taken at least this step in the direction pf the policy contained in the Labour party’s white paper on full employment, to which I have already referred. My only criticism is that central bank credit was being issued at the very time when we were being1 told “ You must not do things like that. It is not real money”. Apparently, £45,000,000 that the Government injected into the economy was real enough. Nevertheless. I believe that the Government’s policy of timidity indicated in the Treasurer’s speech is almost bound to fail. He veered off the subject a3 if it were a matter about which little should be said.
Speaking about the budget last weekend the Prime Minister spoke of the need for - some properly balanced reconciliation between the maintenance of adequate opposition to inflationary pressures and the creation in the public mind of some incentive and psychological lift.
What doos that mean? It is the kind of mumbo-jumbo that one expects, not from the Prime Minister, but from the new economists who believe that prosperity can be attained by cutting down the purchasing power of every individual in the community. That is what was done last year. What do the words mean ? On their face, they seem to be a collection of nouns, and it is difficult to understand the policy they purport to enunciate. It seems to follow that the Prime Minister himself has no positive suggestions and is following a policy of waitandsee. Last year’s budget did not go too well. Even the Government must be convinced of that fact. If the Government were not convinced of the failure of the budget earlier, its supporters on the back benches have convinced it now, and weight has been added to their representations by the results of by-elections in the various States.
The whole budget is in strange contrast to the public statements of the Prime Minister after the meeting of the Australian Loan Council, at which the States unanimously voted the Commonwealth down for the first time in history. The defeat of the Commonwealth at a Loan Council meeting is difficult to achieve, because the representative of the Commonwealth has two votes and a casting vote and the representative of each State has only one vote. Therefore, the Commonwealth requires the support of only a minority of the States for its view to prevail. However, the States, on the occasion to which I refer, were unanimous in their opposition to the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister, in his defence against the request of the States, not for a greater works programme from the stand-point of its physical content and its volume but certainly greater at one stage in the financial sense, repeated economic, shibboleths that had died with the economic depression of the 1930’s. The right honorable gentleman contended that the works programme had to be limited by the amount of money that could be raised from the public in the loan market. I emphasize that the market was being rendered almost impossible daily because of a complete absence of firm government policy in respect of cheap money. Nobody knew the views of the Government about interest rates. The Treasurer, when he replied to questions on that subject, invariably said that the determination of the interest rate for Commonwealth loans was the function of the Loan Council. That statement was technically correct, but the right honorable gentleman did not inform the House of the Government’s policy on that matter. The vacillation of the Government was shown by the fact that when a semigovernmental loan was being raised in Victoria for the electricity authority, the new Commonwealth loan was announced at a higher rate of interest. That fact immediately destroyed the prospects of the semi-governmental authority filling its loan, and as the interest rate progressed higher and higher to the figure that has now been reached, capital losses were sustained by the very people who subscribed to the 3& per cent, loan launched by the former Prime Minister, the late Mr. J. B. Chifley, on the general understanding and assurance that that figure would be the firm rate, and that people who invested £.100 in that loan could be sure that, at any given time, when they were in necessitous circumstances, or wanted the money for various reasons, they would bc able to sell their bonds for practically the same amount as that which they had paid for them.
What is to happen in such cases? The situation cannot be remedied easily. It is due to the Government’s policy of fits and starts ; of hit the income power of the people; of too much money chasing too few goods ; and of taking the money away in order allegedly to get rid of inflation. I recall the famous saying of Lord Keynes, the great economist, who, perhaps, made the greatest contribution of all time to the problem of full employment in the modern State. He said, in effect, “ You can have your budget. It will balance, and there will be nothing on one side balancing nothing on the other side. Everybody will be lying flat on his back “. In other words, we must look past the shibboleths of the 19S0’s. We should remember the way in which the last war was financed. A high rate of interest is opposed to all that is necessary to the enterprise of the country, because by that factor investment in industry is affected, and employment reduced. It has been laid down by persons such as Lord Keynes and Lord Beveridge that full employment is not possible unless cheap money is available. That view was held by the late Mr. Chifley. It is embodied in the Labour party’s policy of full employment, which is contained in the white paper of 1945. I am not sure that the Government’s policy is deliberate, but I am sure that Cabinet is going from one expedient to another. That is the most serious part of the matter, because there is no firm policy upon which any one can rely. The new classical studies of men such as Lord Keynes and Lord Beveridge provide a solid, enduring foundation of the full-employment policy of the Labour movement, which was carried into effective operation by the Labour Government. Now, this Government, hesitatingly, and almost by stealth, dilutes the outmoded theories of perhaps two or four months ago. Certainly, the change has come since the recent by-elections in the various States. Some modern economic policy is to be inferred from a part of the Treasurer’s speech, and the right honorable gentleman and the Prime Minister speak about walking warily upon a middle path. The truth is that they are walking unsteadily, because they have neither an understanding of the problem, nor the initiative to tackle it boldly and vigorously, as is needed in the present situation.
I turn now to the great concern which has rightly been expressed by the Treasurer on the subject of the balance of payments. A deficit of £575,000,000 on current account is an all-time high, if high is the appropriate noun to describe the position, because it represents a serious situation to this country. Even when capital transactions are taken into account, the loss of London funds in “one year amounted to £4S1,000,000, despite the import restrictions of a most severe kind. Those restrictions were imposed too late. They had not a gradual but a sudden, sharp, severe impact upon the economy of the country. The budget shows that the London balances now stand at £382,000,000, but the liquid resources of the Commonwealth Bank are below £300,000,000, whereas they stood at approximately £800,000,000 in the previous year. If further evidence of the mismanagement of the economy is needed, that is the most telling piece of evidence, because no government in the history of Australia has such a poor record on such a vital matter to this country as our international reserves. The Treasurer has said that these reserves are none too large for our requirements. Surely that is the very extreme of understatement. What does the Treasurer propose to do about the reserves? He has not revealed his intentions in the budget. He has told us precisely nothing. The value of exports last year was £676,000,000. Does the Treasurer expect the figure to bc higher this year? Does any one expect that the figure will be higher this year than it was last year? What action does the Government propose to take in order to increase the production for goods for export? Is it proposed, in particular, to launch a drive to increase food production?
The honorable member for Darling (.Sir. Clark) lias recently shown how the basic position in relation to rural production is deteriorating. The honorable member, quite correctly, has stressed the physical, not the financial, side of the problem. He has revealed that in 1938-39 there were 253,536 rural holdings in Australia. That figure declined by approximately 10,000 in the following year. But during that period, the area increased by 43,000,000 acres. The point to be stressed is that the Government, instead of trying to induce more people to settle on the land, and to make additional land available, is acquiescing in the. aggregation of large estates, and in a situation in which fewer people are actual producers. The honorable member for Darling has also pointed out that many small holdings are being acquired by larger land-holders, and that move, is having an adverse effect upon rural production. The Government offers no suggestion about this matter, with which are involved the twin problems of full employment and immigration. Clearly, the primary producer is entitled to a fair market price, to just treatment - indeed, to generous treatment. Without his cooperation the community would collapse. Equally, however, the primary producer must recognize his intimate solidarity with those engaged in industry. It does not follow that, merely by increasing prices, sufficiently increased ‘primary production for export, especially of food, will result. It is obvious that much planning must take place. In my submission, increased prices are not of themselves automatic incentives. The producer will try to fix production at the point which, in his own circumstances, having regard to capitalization of his land and to other relevant matters, is most suitable to him. The point is: What is the Government going to do in order to increase the total production?
In Australia to-day, much land which is suitable for intensive food production is not being utilized at all, which means that productive land is being shut off from young Australians. Lands are locked, as they were at certain stages of our history 50, 60 and 70 years ago. That matter is one of urgency. There is a good possibility that a large number of new Australians could be absorbed by full utilization of land which is given to us as a trust and cannot be allowed to remain unused. All sections of the Labour movement, in all States of the Commonwealth, have expressed views of this character. I hope that the Government will- not push the matter aside and aittem.pt to dispose of it merely by fixing higher prices, important and helpful though, such action may he in certain circumstances. It seems possible that the value of production of wheat, meat and dairy products will be less this year, than was expected. Unless a spectacular recovery occurs in the price of wool, we may well have an even lower income from exports. In such circumstances there will be a further strain on our London funds and we shall be sailing close to the wind in that connexion, with an even tighter banking and money market, and inflationary pressures that may be uncontrollable.
I now wish to refer shortly to the important matter of immigration. I make it clear that the political and industrial Labour movement has adopted a view towards immigration which is based on the principle that the maintenance of full employment in Australia is essential to the orderly development of the great immigration scheme inaugurated by the Australian Labour party at the rod of “World War’ II. That view was repeatedly asserted, by both Mr. Chifley and my colleague, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who did so much in connexion with the immigration plan. To-day, full employment is directly threatened. At the present time the Australian Labour’ party would approach the question not by fixing a number for the annual intake of immigrants but By temporarily restricting the number of assisted immigrants, first te persons possessed- of special skills which arc necessary in- primary and’ secondary industries in this1 country, and secondly, t»> the wives and children of new Australians who are already here. Preference to British immigrants should, of course, be retained, and the screening of totalitarian-minded groups should be made effective. However, the restrictions which Labour has in mind would be of a temporary nature: They would be imposed, not in the selfish interests of certain Australians, but in the interests of new Australians and old Australians alike.
It is supremely important that the best possible relations should be maintained with our new citizens. When full employment again operates, the flow of assisted immigration could be and should1 be- resumed’. It is essentia! to full employment that public expenditure- should be sufficiently high to stimulate- private spending, to lie point where the two hang together and provide a demand for the total production of which the economy is capable, on the- assumption that, every willing worker, old Australian or new Australian, is employed. That policy was possible with La-hour’s- principle of. full, employment, and was put into- effect when, an enormous inflow of immigrants- cameinto this country.. It could operate on> an even greater scale if Labours financial* and credit policy were adopted. However,, the budget which was introduced in the House recently does not direct itself to- the- adoption of such a policy. The approach of Labour towards’ immigration’ is positive and constructive. It is not a1 negative- approach. Australia need?’ greater population^ bu.fi we also- need full’ employment for the development of thecountry and of our- primary and secondary industries. In the physical development of our land we need, the full services of all the immigrants who come to this, country, and we want them, ail to be employed. Under the progressive policy in operation- in- the days of Mr. Chifley, not a single man or woman who- was willing and able- to. perform usefulwork was denied employment. In outview, the problem of immigration is a part of the problem of full employment.
I turn now to the secondary industries of this country,, because I see in this, budget no contribution whatever towards, the difficulties of our manufacturing industries. The policy of the Australian Labour party is to encourage secondary industries. I ir time of war the contribution of such industries towards the waieffort is of immeasurable value to the nation. Their steady expansion is absolutely basic to full employment, because the source of employment for the majority of the population is in the secon’dary industries. When one examines the problem of” secondary industries it is found that the increased productivity which is’ so often requested depends not only upon the efforts of worker and management, but also upon industrial organization. Anti-Labour speakers are prone to attack government administration and monopoly. In this country, as in all modern countries, restrictive trade practices, which are aimed at the maintenance of unfair prices, are to be found, and little or no criticism of such practices is made, although they are extensive and result in higher prices. Increased productivity and efficient secondary industries are dependent upon the procurement of the most modern equipment. It is necessary to assist equipment programmes in .order to keep up to date. Therefore, the Government should withdraw from the position which it has maintained in absolute repudiation of the statute passed by the Chifley Government, and restore the full initial depreciation allowance, on the basis laid down by the Chifley Government.
The pay-roll tax is assuming a special character at a time when unemployment is excessive. It is becoming a direct tax on industry and is a burden which discourages employment in marginal enterprises. It is contributing to unemployment to-day. It is true that the Government proposes to increase unemployment benefits, but a positive approach to the problem of finding employment should be adopted. I should like to see the Government employment officers more active, energetic and resolute in findingjobs and not merely recording facts according to the formula that is -laid down. In my opinion, a great deal more could bc done in that direction. If workers are forced to change occupations, training facilities will have to be organized on lines similar to the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme. Every unemployed worker who is placed in employment will become a productive asset to Australia instead of a financial liability. That is why the Opposition insists that the Commonwealth Bank should employ the fullest powers of a central bank to restore impetus to industry and so underwrite employment. For nearly two years there has been an artificial drying up of credit. That process will have to be reversed. In view of the present number of unemployed in this country the restriction of credit constitutes a greater danger than inflation.
The Government has proposed a vote of £200,000,000 for defence, but no analysis of this figure is available. That is not a satisfactory position. One way of testing whether this vote would be appropriate for defence purposes would be by computing its percentage of the national income, but honorable members have no means of doing that. The Labour party has always favoured a balanced defence programme with special emphasis on air and naval defence and on the modern task force. On hi, recent return from abroad, the Prime Minister announced that he had made an arrangement with the -United Kingdom .under which the future emphasis in our contribution to defence would be placed on food production. Lt is essential to know a good deal more *about that proposal before the details *of the defence vote can be properly discussed. Any .programme for the defence services must not be limited to one year. A programme is required similar to the five-years programme which was adopted by the Chifley Government on the recommendation of the chiefs of staff of the various services. I hope that the Government’s defence programme will be pal before the House quite clearly.
That part of the budget speech th which the Treasurer attempted to limit discussion in relation to the system -of adjusting wages was most extraordinary. This Parliament is entitled to discuss that matter and I oppose the theory that on such a matter any government can -be neutral. The present system of adjusting wages in Anstralia was in existence before the last war and has lasted for about thirty years. Even in the greatest crisis of the war quarterly adjustment of wages .by reference to prices was the law of the land. Judges have stated that adjustments are simply based on what they called “ elementary wage justice Now that system is under attack in the press of this country. As soon as the basic wage is increased by a quarterly adjustment that increase is criticised as being responsible for price increases throughout our economy. It is in no way responsible for those increases. When the quarterly adjustments caused the basic wage to fall prior to the war, I did not hear any criticism of the system from the groups who are criticising it now. The system was then declared to be just.
There is only one effective way to handle this matter so as to avoid the injustice caused either by inflated prices or deflated prices and that is by an automatic adjusting system. The situation can be remedied only by placing commodity prices on a just basis. Again and again the States have asked the Australian Government to exercise its power to fix prices. The Government has refused to exercise the power, contending that prices should be fixed by the States. What is the difference between State control of prices and Commonwealth control of prices? The difference is that the Commonwealth can make prices uniform and control them on a basis that is just to all. The Opposition believes that the Commonwealth can do this more effectively than the States and, apparently, the States think so, too. if the Government were to take that action it would remove the basis of . criticism of the system of adjusting wages. If prices remained stationary no quarterly adjustments would be required. There would be a true measure of the purchasing power of wages. The position of pensioners and others on fixed incomes would be enormously improved because they have no tribunal to provide them with adjustments to their income. The time is fast approaching when pensions must he automatically adjusted. Every year pension increases are given which, when analysed, are found to be grossly inadequate. The adjustment nf pensions must be placed above the realm of mere, opinion at the time that the. matter comes before the Parliament. Both industrial labour and political labour hold the view that wage standards which have been won after many years of struggle should be maintained. If they are not maintained the economic effort on this country will be felt in reduced purchasing power which will lead to a. most serious slump. Other Opposition members will refer in detail to pensions in order to show the inadequacy of the Government’s proposals.
The Treasurer’s speech contained a proposal for the termination of uniform taxation. In my view, it is wrong in principle to remove uniform taxation, and I consider that this action has been proposed merely as a result of political pique against State governments. There has never been any difference of opinion between the Commonwealth and the States on the subject of tax reimbursements. There may have been disagreement at the commencement of conferences on this matter, but agreement has always been reached at the end of them. The real difference of opinion between the Premiers and the Australian Government was confined to the subject of the works programmes which are not affected by uniform taxation. I do not say that th.claims of the States for additional reimbursements should not be fully recognized. The programme of the Labour party on this matter provides foi1 the payment of adequate financial compensation to the States for loss of revenue from Commonwealth custom?and tariff control and the introduction of uniform taxation. What compensation is “ adequate “ must depend on circumstances. If uniform taxation is abolished, seven governments will have to impose taxes. The probable results of that action are not appreciated by those who support the abolition of uniform taxation without thinking about it. Each State will be able to levy taxes not only on concerns whose head-quarters are within their boundaries, but on other concerns if some part of their business is conducted within the State. Such a position existed before uniform taxation was introduced. The income of interstate concerns had to be divided and assessed in a. complicated way which led to absurdity. One. concern may have been subjected to different rates of income tax in several States. Before the introduction of the uniform taxation system the taxation law* in every State were different. Their effect was such that if, for instance, a manufacturing business was incorporated in New South Wales, it would pay a different tax from that paid by a. company with the same income incorporated in another State. Differences such as that made free competition impossible. I do not know whether the Government is bluffing or sincere in its suggested intention to abolish uniform taxation, but if it does so the total direct income tax will be higher. Therefore the Labour party, in accordance with its platform, advocates the retention of the present system with necessary safeguards.
The budget contains open threats against the Commonwealth Bank. In 1946, the people of this country gave full approval to the Banking Act of 1945. At that time honorable members who compose the present Government told the people that they were not in favour of that legislation, but the people accepted it. In the following general election, when bank nationalization was an issue, the people adopted a view different from that of the then Labour Government, but that should not be taken as a mandate ro this Government to interfere with or to attempt to limit the activities of the Commonwealth Bank as laid down in the 1945 legislation. The Commonwealth Bank belongs to the people of Australia. It has no other interests to serve. Therefore, legislation of the kind foreshadowed must be carefully scrutinized, particularly as the bank is compelled by its charter to apply its advance and credit facilities to ensure that, as far as possible, full employment shall be maintained in Australia. Full employment is impossible except on the basis of cheap rates of interest and cheap money, and the course taken hy the Government in connexion with public investment is detrimental to full employment in Australia. I suggest that there should be a gradual but definite return to the 3-J per cent, interest rate which was insisted upon by Mr. Chifley. Cheap money is essential to healthy business activity and employment. Instead of increasing interest rates tha Commonwealth Bank should be striving to reduce them in order to stimulate a revival of full production in industry. Last week Commonwealth bonds were quoted at £S6 10s. That was not because the credit of the country is insecure, but because monkeying around with the interest rate has caused concern to people who came to the country’s assistance in time of war and during postwar crises. That is serious, and it must always be remembered that because Commonwealth Bank legislation is closely associated with the matter of interest rates and the maintenance of full employment.
The Treasurer proposes to make a deduction from income tax, to a maximum of £50, for expenses incurred in the education of a child. That is an important suggestion, but it should be pointed out that very little benefit will be afforded by this scheme to parents on middle and small incomes. The average parent will receive little or no benefit from any such concession, and I suggest for consideration an alternative scheme which would give to all parents who arc educating their children a fixed concessional, deduction which could be automatically increased according to whether primary, secondary or university education is being provided. That leads me to the matter of the taxation deduction for the wife and dependent children which is still fixed at £104. If it was a fair deduction when if was fixed, it should now be increased.
A more positive approach should be adopted towards the great education problems of this country. The Commonwealth does not deal directly with education, but is vitally interested in its success. In passing, I may indicate that the Australian National University was established by the Chifley Government, and that the present Government has given assistance to the universities of the States and their resident colleges. The social services legislation of 1946 permits the grant of benefits to students irrespective of their ages or the educational institutions that they may attend. The scheme instituted in the States by Labour governments, in connexion with bursaries and scholarships, should be considered, and perhaps adopted, when an actual proposal comes before the House.
The budget will take no account of the employment position in this country. The Government made definite promises to put value back into the £1 and to reduce taxation. After two and a half years of office it has ‘failed to honour those promises. The budget will throw a tremendous burden upon the people. The repeal of the 10 per cent, super tax levy is a snare and a delusion. The burden of sales tax remains to be borne, and will continue the inflation of prices despite limited but welcome relief in some cases.
The land tax should not. have, been repealed. It is merely a hand-on t to city interests. The budget has been constructed on the basis of the continuation, in substance-,, of last year’s- taxation exemption in the case of large income recipients. The only valuable reduction will be in customs duties,, and that has been made necessary by import restrictions’ which themselves indicate failure to guard against dangers.
The increases of war service and social services benefits are welcome, but are hopelessly inadequate in view of the continuous price inflation. We resent the proposed attack on the Commonwealth Bank, and say that the Government should not pursue it. Increasing interest rates are a threat to all that is active and enterprising in the community.
The key problem has become employment, although inflation- still continues as a threat to all sections. The problem of employment is insoluble except on the basis of active government intervention in the- physical expansion, of both public and private investment.. There is no sign of a vigorous policy of full, employment being adopted by the Government., Lt seems to- be bewildered and mystified. Time “horror budget” of last year was a complete fiasco. There is. admittedly some hope in the proposed resort to central bank credit for State public works. But this- seems tO’ have been adopted as an expedient, and a part of the political policy of “fits and starts.”’, rather than as a principle.
I have tried to make certain suggestions in this analysis of the budget. I ask the Government to review its policy m Commonwealth prices control, because it is absolutely essential that it should do that in order to protect all those on fixed incomes and gradually to halt the inflationary spiral that still exists. The Treasurer said that it is “ dangerous nonsense w to talk of a recession. He said, in effect, that we should overlook what has happened in this country. Why did he say that conditions had never been more favorable? The plain fact is that his statement was not true. The employment figures, the growing list of industries that are reducing staff or operating only part time, the records, of retail sales, Kbe alarming increase of interest rates, and the fears of the people that some of the expedients to which the Government has been reduced will add to the inflationary pressure belie his- optimistic claim. Why, in these circumstances, does the Treasurer speak as though he had just cause for complaint? In fact, the people have just cause for complaint against him.
The Government inherited an economy (hat was perfectly sound. There was full employment, of our people, and taxes, in terms of 1949 incomes, had been reduced in successive stages by no less than £280,000,000 a year.. How does that record compare with the record of this Government, which has increased taxes enormously?- We- want the Government to attack the problem of unemployment, not grudgingly or partially, but by taking into account the whole investment position, both public and private, and to draft a new budget on the basis that every worker in Australia shall be employed. A. sound budget can be drafted on that basis. The present budget discloses the lack of a positive view of the nation’s difficulties. The final sentences of the Treasurer’s speech, bereft of their rhetoric, show that the Government is trying to shelve its responsibilities. “After all”, it declares, “perhaps the responsibility for this situation is not that of the Government.” I say that the responsibility rests squarely upon the Government. The Labour movement strongly opposes the laisser-faire doctrines that are implied in the Treasurer’s speech. The situation cannot be left alone. To do so would be to espouse the old doctrine of the Manchester school of economists. Our problems must be tackled on the basis of a full employment economy. The job can be done, as it has been done in Australia before. The Government, having caused havoc, has said that the victims must repair the damage. I say that the Government, is responsible for undertaking the task. What would a business organization do if its board of directors conducted its operations for twelve months as this Government has bungled and mismanaged the affairs of Australia during the last twelve months?
Labour believes in a policy of credit expansion sufficient to restore and maintain full employment, including the employment of new Australians. It reject? the proposition that the Executive Government has no direct responsibility for providing full employment. Every man and woman in this country who wishes to have employment is entitled to a job. Private enterprise can contribute towards full employment, as it has done and as it is bound to do, but it cannot control the financial and credit situation of Australia. The Government must accept final responsibility because, by statute law, although the Commonwealth Bank has great power over credit, it is subject to the directions of the government of the day and of this Parliament. The Government expends one-third of the national income. It subtracts that amount from the total earnings of the nation. It can either aid or impede production. It can assist or frustrate distribution. The policy of the Government must be positive. Mass unemployment must be regarded as the enemy of the country. The people of Australia can and must be put to work. Our industries must be encouraged and helped. The Government cannot achieve these results with a policy which, on the whole, looks suspiciously at the positive plan of full employment because it is not convinced of the feasibility of such a plan. Pear, which is gripping the hearts of the people of Australia, can be removed by positive action. The Government, by its record, ha3 proved that it does not possess the key to its economic problems, particularly the problem of finding employment for all and the problem of inflation. Therefore, the budget should be withdrawn and its authors should be censured. For that purpose, I move-
That the first item be reduced by £1.
– 1 suppose that other honorable members were just as perplexed as I was by the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). We came to this chamber to-night thinking the right honorable gentleman would offer us some idea of the financial and economic principles that, in his view, the Government should have adopted when it prepared its budget. But we have heard not one word of constructive criticism from him. He has not told the Government what he thinks it should do in order to solve what the Opposition alleges to he pressing problems. The speech was as barren of ideas as a frog is of feathers, and therefore I have great difficulty in arguing against it.
The right honorable gentleman first raised the old issue of putting value ‘back into the £1. Heaven knows, wc have heard arguments on this subject time after time in this chamber for almost three years. In dealing with this kind of argument, we should first clarify our minds on the subject of the election promise made to the people on behalf of the present Government parties. Secondly, we should ask ourselves whether our present difficulties could have been avoided by adopting different policies. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has pointed out that he said, in an addendum to his policy speech, that one of the problems we had to face was that of putting value back into the £1. Realizing that this was not a problem about which clear and unequivocal guarantees could be given, the right honorable gentleman drafted his policy declaration very cautiously. He said that one of our important problems would be to arrest the drift in prices. He realized the complexity of the problem and, instead of making grandiose promises, undertook that the political parties he represented would use their best endeavours to increase production and to prevent prices from getting too much out of hand. But that is scarcely the point at issue.
The very important issue to be considered now is the question whether the Government can, in fact, control prices. The simple answer is that it is not always possible to do so. There may be reasons, either good or bad, for the failure of a government to control prices. The real reason why prices increased at the rate of 10 per cent, per annum from the end of World War II. until the Chifley Government left office, is to be found in the incompetence of that government, its inability to control communism and its attempts to destroy the independence and will power of the people by imposing socialism upon them. Any impartial observer who considers what has happened to us will agree that no government mould have controlled prices in the circumstances which have existed since 1949. First, we embarked upon a large programme of national development and immigration ; secondly, we embarked upon a very big defence programme, which this year ‘will coat £200,000,000 ; and thirdly, we paid unprecedented social services benefits. When, in addition, the crisis in Korea occurred, and there was a tremendous increase of the price of wool, it was obvious to any objective observer that prices in Australia could not be controlled. That has been the experience of every other country.
What does the Labour party suggest is the panacea for these evils? Time and time again the Leader of the Opposition has made a suggestion which has been rejected time and time again. It is, “ Give us power to control prices and to control the economy “. Controls would make things even worse than they were before. It is significant that the person who first abandoned prices control was the late Mr. Chifley, who was then the leader of a Labour government. To-day, the Labour Premier of New South Wales is removing controls because he has learnt to his cost that if controls are imposed efficiency cannot be expected. In New South Wales, controls upon building, clothing and textiles have been lifted, and soon other controls will be removed. That is a clear recognition by a sensible Labour man of the fact that controls are not, and never can be, the solution of our problems.
Probably the most important of the arguments against the Government’s policy relates to full employment. It is of such importance that I shall deal with it in detail. The Liberal party and the Australian Country party accept Article 55 of the Charter of the United Nations which states -
With a view to the creation of conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, the United Nations shall promote . . . higher standards of living, full employment and conditions of economic and social progress and development.
The Liberal party and the Australian Country party have written the objective of full employment into their policies.
The objectives of the Liberal party contain the following clause: -
To have an Australian nation in which constant employment at good wages is available to all willing and able to work.
The present Prime Minister, in a joint policy speech delivered on behalf of the Government parties, pledged us to a policy of full employment. We accept the principle of full employment. Criticism by the Opposition can be directed only to the means that we have adopted to achieve our objective.
Let me contrast what we have pledged ourselves to do, so far as it lies within our power, with what the -Labour party has promised. I have before me the Federal Platform and Objectives of the Federal Labour Party. I defy any person to find a single word in that document which deals with the problem of full employment. The subject has been ignored.
– Bead it out.
– Has the .honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) ever read it? I do not think he has done so. I think he belongs to another party. He is a great friend of Mr. Hex Chiplin and collaborates with him in writing articles for the Tribune. I suspect that he belongs, not to the Labour party but to some other party. Nowhere in the platform of the Labour party is there a single word about full employment. The objective of the Labour party is quite different from full employment. It believes in a state of society in which the individual is compelled to work for the State and becomes, not a free man, but the slave of a socialist State.
Let me direct the attention of the House to a statement that was made by a Labour leader, Mr. A. A. McAlpine. He was the federal president of the Australian Labour party. He was reported by the Sydney Sun of the 16th June, 1949, to have said -
We cannot have full employment unless we have a balanced economy. It is necessary to have manpower control in the interests of working people especially. Employers will not release men they do not need for the time being, fearing they will not be able to get them later. If workers were directed elsewhere to continuous- and greater output, national prosperity would be increased.
Those words were spoken by a socialist leader. He did not envisage free men seeking the jobs of their choice, but directed labour in a socialist slave State. But that is not all. Another individual made a somewhat similar comment. He said something like this -
Australia should begin to think along Soviet lines in post-war planning.
In other words, he suggested that Australia should begin to think and act as a Soviet state. Who was that estimable gentleman? He is a friend of the Tribute, and of Mr. Chiplin, the main writer for that paper. Those words were published in the Sydney Morning Herald of the6th November, 1944. He is none other than the honorable member for East Sydney, the main propagandist in this House of the communist technique and of the philosphy and policy of the Communist party. The people have their choice. This Government is pledged to a policy of full employment. The Labour party has not yet started to think about the problem, and one or two of its representatives have adopted the extraordinary course of saying that they think we want the Russians in this country, or at any rate the Russian system.
I have examined the various definitions of full employment in a free economy. I do not propose to engage in technical arguments about the matter. They are set out in the United Nations manual on full employment. J direct attention to the fact that to-day Australia has a singular record in regard to employment. We have a few unemployed persons in special industries, and in seasonal occupations. Recently, the Minister for Defence (Mr. McBride) compared the number of unemployed persons in this country with those in other countries. He excluded Soviet Russia, but doubtless the honorable member for East Sydney will enlighten us upon the position in that country at a subsequent date. On the 25th June, 1952, there were approximately 45,000 unemployed persons in this country registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service, or one person in every 78 of our work force. At that date, 2.9 per cent. of the work force in the United States of America was unemployed, 2.1 per cent. in the United King dom and 4.1 per cent. in Canada, a nation that is held up as one of the greatest examples of a country with a progressive economy.
An analysis of the records relating to unemployment reveals two important facts, first, that there are better industrial relations in States governed by Liberal governments than in those governed by Labour governments, and, secondly, that there is less unemployment in Liberal States than in Labour States. That is the general rule. When the Labour party is in power, or at a subsequent date as the result of its actions, we find unemployment and discontent in the industrial world. The following table speaks for itself: -
The records of New SouthWales and Queensland under Labour governments were deplorable, whereas the records of Victoria and South Australia under Liberal governments were commendable. However, that is not unusual. Those who study the long history of Labour in government will be struck by a singularly important fact, for evidence of which letus consider the economic depression of the 1930’s. The Labour Government in office at the time permitted unemployment to rise to an unprecedented level, and eventually found that it was utterly unable to deal with the problem in a practical way. Members of the Labour party may rise to their feet and make proud boasts about what they will do, but I know of no better way of judging a party than on its record, and the record of the Labour party will not stand up to critical analysis. This is what the Prime Minister said in his policy speech in 1949 -
The aspiration for full employment is no monopoly of the socialists. We are all human beings. Yet it is clear that full employment is to be the socialist’s election slogan. This is a false issue. We shall confidently devote ourselves to full employment and the avoidance of depression. The last depression arose from circumstances outside Australia.
Whenever’ the socialists have been in* power they have destroyed the capacity of free industry to carry on,, and thus have destroyed the ability of industry to keep people in full employment.. I leave it to tits, committee- to decide; which has the greater capacity to maintain full employBrent,, a Liberal and Country partygovernment or a. socialist government.
F come now to the subject of loans about which the Leader of the Opposition, advanced one of the most amazing arguments I have ever heard. Shades of Keynes and Beveridge! Keynes would turn in his grave if he heard himself quoted as the Leader of the Opposition quoted’ him to-night. The right honorable gentleman said that it was a necessary condition of full employment that interest rates should be kept low. I never heard such bunkum. If there is a rigid interest rate people cannot be induced to save money to invest in- government bonds if they can get more profitable investments elsewhere. It is accepted in all free economies that the two major instruments for maintaining stability in an agricultural economy are the use of the exchange rate in. certain circumstances, and the use of the internal interest rate in other circumstances. Flexibility of the interest rate is essential to the maintenance of monetarybrium
The Leader of the Opposition quoted Keynes and Beveridge, but he overlooked the fact that they were not writing of Australian conditions, and never contemplated that the principles that they enunciated should be applied to any country other than the United Kingdom. It is agreed that those principles do not apply to the United States of America, and for stronger reasons they do not apply to Australia. Keynes was interested mainly in the problem of a mature economy that had attained the limits of its development. He was not considering an economy that was still expanding. There are other arguments bearing upon the interest rate that I cannot make use of now. But these arguments are persuasive if not conclusive: The first is that the Government does not decide interest rates. They are decided by the Loan Council and by the Commonwealth Bank.
We, as a government,, cannot control interest rates. In fact, in the final analysis, the interest rate is decided by those who lend the money,, and rightly so,, unless we accept the idea of a Soviet State. Does the Leader of the Opposition believe that those who have, money to lend should be compelled to lend it at a rate fixed by him ? It is the market that determines interest rates. The Commonwealth Bank has acted wisely in.- permitting interest rates to increase. I have an extract from the Sydney Morning Herald of the 14th July, 1952, from which I quote as follows : -
Local government authorities said last night the decision of the Loan Council to allow Brisbane City Council to raise a loan at an interest rate of 4£ per cent, could be an important step towards solving their financial problems..
A few days later, the same newspaper announced that the electricity loan was a success. In the same issue the following item appeared: -
The Premier, Mr. Cosgrove, is awaiting advice whether the Loan Council will allow all subscriptions over £2,000,000 to tin? Hydro-Electric Commission Loan to In’ retained. The subscriptions are approaching £3 million.
A Joan issued by the Sydney City Council was over-subscribed by 50 per cent., but a Victorian loan issued at a somewhat lower rate of interest was 36 per cent, under-subscribed. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We believe that if those with savings cannot be induced to subscribe to loans at the current rate of interest they should be offered some greater inducement. In the cases I have mentioned it is obvious that the inducement offered has proved sufficient.
We come now to Australia’s balance of payments on overseas trade. I have rarely seen the Leader of the Opposition smile, but it would appear from his remarks on the subject of the balance of payments that the right honorable gentleman has hidden depths of humour. For instance, he discussed the position of the primary producers, although I doubt whether more than two members of his party have ever stood in a cowyard or on a haystack, or have ever shown the -slightest inclination to foster the
S -unary industries. The Leader of the Opposition said that the fact that our balance of payments had been permitted to run down was a reflection on the Government. That is ironic. If there is an adverse balance of payments it means that imports are greater than exports, and that the people are consuming more than they produce. The Government set out to encourage increased im’ports in the belief that that was one of the means at its disposal for conquering inflation. So successful was this policy that imports in 1951-52 totalled £1.050,000,000. Those imports will he nu effective brake on inflation.
The Leader of the Opposition, in one of the most humorous parts of his speech, a aid that, the Government had given no incentive to the expansion of primary production. I remind the committee that such a statement comes ill from a party which did more to destroy the independence and initiative of primary producers when it was in power than had been done by any previous government in Australia’s history. J direct the attention of honorable members to the provision that has been made by the Government to assist primary industries.
First, I remind the committee of the concessions totalling about £50,000,000 which are provided in the budget and which apply equally to primary producers and to persons living in the metropolitan areas. Secondly, the Government introduced provisional taxation. The Government has given to primary producers an opportunity to assess their own provisional taxation so chut in future they will not be overtaxed but will have the right, if they wish to exercise it, to assess themselves. I wish to dispel one doubt about provisional taxation because I have heard it raised at several meetings of primary producers recently. Some producers have asked whether it is not wrong to impose a penalty on those who for some reason or other do not assess the provisional tax accurately. The answer is that the Government never intended the penalty to :ipply to honest men, but only to those who are guilty of deliberate evasion. That should be clear to every one who has read the provisions of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act. The Government has given power to the Commissioner of Taxation to remit any penalty if it can be shown that the income in question was unexpected, or in cases in which a taxpayer could not assess his tax accurately because of causes beyond his control. Thirdly, the Government allowed depreciation at 20 per cent, per annum for five years to primary producers for living Accommodation for farm employees, farm implements, buildings for fodder conservation and irrigation materials. Those marked benefit? were given to primary producers in addi tion to ordinary concessions.
In the course of the last few days, th:Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) has announced that export prices for lamb will be 17.7 per cent, higher than those, of last year and that the prices to be paid by the United Kingdom, in 1.952-53 for butter and cheese will be 7-J per cent, and 9 per cent, higher respectively than were paid last year. The Government has allocated the largest prooprtion of dollar loans to the requirements of primary industries, and action is being taken to divert man-power as rapidly as possible to primary industries and to industries which are manufacturing agricultural equipment. If there is any tendency towards unemployment in Australia, labour can go back to the primary industries, in which labour is badly required. In order to show what the primary producers think of the actions of the Government, I refer honorable members to statements that have been made by producers’ representatives. The secretary of the Primary Producers Union, Mr. L. J. Johnstone, was quoted by the Daily Telegraph, Sydney, on the 7th August as having described Sir Arthur Fadden’s budget as “ an incentive for people to work “ and he added -
The budget would help those keen to rea the benefits of hard work.
The measures contained in last year.budget were a year too late,” Mr. Johnston.said, “but the benefits that will flow from this year’s budget should build up public confidence and morale. “Although taxation remains high, primary producers, particularly dairymen, will welcome the relief contained in the new budget.”
The treasurer of the Farmers and Settlers Association, Mr. H. K, Nock, who is not given to praise, said -
Primary producers welcome the removal of the 10 per cent, surcharge on income tax. It will give an incentive to produce more, particularly to those people who pay 8s. in the £ or more tax.
Those are expressions of opinion by representative persons in the primary industries; The concessions that have been given by the Government are accepted as a positive inducement to increase primary production.
On the subject of investment, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) was well beyond his depth. One of the reasons for our current problems lies in the fact that there has been too much investment in Australia in relation to voluntary savings. In 1949-50 the total investment was £713,000,000. Investment in 1950-51 totalled £983,000,000, and in 1951-52, the total was £1,2S9,000,000. The percentage of gross national products taken up by investment, including defence, in 1951-52, was 33.2 per cent. If the Leader of the Opposition had known what he was talking about, he would have pointed to the fact that one of the principal causes of inflation was that savings were too low and investment too high.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- The speech that has just been made by the Minister for the Navy (Mr. McMahon) was nothing more than a vindictive attack on the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). The Minister made reference to what he considered to be the failure of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) to make a worthwhile contribution to the debate. If he believes that he has made a better contribution, his capacity for belief is beyond my understanding. Some of the Minister’s statements were astonishing. He claimed that the Government controlled prices’ hi Australia. The people will remember that the Labour Government introduced prices control.
– And made a mess of it.
– The Minister for the Navy has interjected that the Labour Government made a mess of prices control. The Australian people realize only too well that the economy of Australia from 1940 to 1949 was the best in the world. The results of recent by-elections held throughout Australia indicate clearly what the people think of the present Australian Government. The national security regulations enabled the Labour Government to control prices and profits and by such means it made the Australian economy the best in the world. After the war, hard-headed businessmen with capital to invest surveyed conditions in every country and decided to invest their capital in Australia under a Labour government.
The Minister made reference to a claim that his Government had provided for full employment in Australia. Notwithstanding his claim that the Government and the Liberal party are pledged to support the principle of full employment, approximately 100,000 workers are now unemployed. In 1949, when the Chifley Labour Government relinquished office, there was no unemployment in Australia. That Government introduced and maintained fu- employment. The Minister’s statement that this Government was responsible for the control of profits is typical of the misleading statements made by its members. The. Minister has also said that the State governments are now relinquishing controls of various kinds. Can it be denied that the Labour party advised the people before the prices referendum that only the Commonwealth Parliament could effectively control prices in Australia and that the members of the then Opposition, who now sit on the Government side of the chamber, stumped the country and advised the electors to defeat the, referendum proposals and to give to the States the sole right to control prices and profits? Only a political ignoramus believed that the States could effectively control prices. The. referendum proposals were defeated and immediately thereafter the economic stability of this country began to decline. That, decline has steadily continued until Australia, which formerly enjoyed the most stable economy of any country in the civilized world, is now tottering on thu brink of another economic depression. Whether or not the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) may describe that statement as nonsense, the right honorable gentleman cannot gainsay the fact that our already huge army of unemployed is daily growing in number.
The Minister referred to the unemployment situation that existed during the regime of the Scullin Government, bur. what he failed to tell the Parliament and the people was that whilst the Scullin Government had a majority in the House of Representatives it was faced with a hostile majority in the Senate. At that time, when . 700,000 Australians were walking the streets looking for work, the Senate Opposition used its majority to prevent the Scullin Government from financing public works for the relief of unemployment. Notwithstanding the promise made to those who volunteered to fight in the war of 1914-18, that they would return to a country fit for heroes to live in, 50 per cent, of the exservicemen were included in the ranks of the unemployed. A similar situation exists to-day. In this budget the Government has failed to honour the promises made to those who fought in World War II. The pensions provided for permanently and totally incapacitated, blinded and maimed ex-servicemen are shameful, having regard to the fact that costs and prices have reached unprecedented heights. Ex-servicemen are totally dissatisfied with this budget. They regard the rates of pensions provided in the budget as unworthy of any government.
The Minister has said that the Scullin Government made no attempt to provide work for the workless during the depression of the ‘thirties. I remind him that when that Government asked the Parliament to provide £18,000,000 for unemployment relief the then Opposition opposed the request a.nd the money was not made available. At that time the Commonwealth Bank, which was controlled by a board similar to that which has been established by this Government, refused to grant the requisite funds to enable the Scullin Government to provide work for the unemployed. The factors that operated in those days are operating to-day. The Government has reestablished the Commonwealth Bank Board and has taken from this Parliament and the Treasurer the right to control th”. people’s bank. In so doing it has helped to destroy our economic stability.
The Minister has said that when this Government came into office it put in hand a programme of national works. That contention is laughable because every mie knows that during the war and in the immediate post-war period the national works programme to which the Minister referred was commenced by the then Labour government. Is it seriously suggested that the Snowy Mountains project was commenced by this LiberalAustralian Country party Government? On the contrary, that project is being destroyed by the Government as is also the immigration scheme instituted by Labour to increase the population of this country. On the one hand the Government seeks an appropriation of £200,000,000 for defence purposes and on the other hand it destroys the very elements that are necessary for the successful implementation of a real defence policy. No Australian will deny to any government the requisite funds to develop our defences so long as suitable safeguards are taken to ensure that the money shall be wisely expended. I regret to have to say to the Parliament and the people that I believe that much of the £200,000,000 provided in this budget for defence purposes will be wasted. Who will say that hundreds of thousands of pounds are not being wasted on the national service scheme when it costs not less than £60 to equip a lad for national service training for a period of 90 days?
– Would the honorable member deprive the trainee of the equipment he needs to undergo his training?
– The scale of equipment for a national service trainee includes many items that are not necessary for his training. I shall not refrain from saying what I believe should be said on this subject by interjections of that kind. When the national service scheme was instituted we were told that the trainees would be trained in the use of modern weapons and equipment, but in training camps throughout Australia the weapons and equipment now used are similar to those used for the training of troops during World War I.
– The honorable member’s statement is too silly for words.
– During my visits to national service training camps I have never yet met a member of one of the Government parties. If the defence vote is wisely expended no one will complain of the cost, but if it is squandered the taxpayer will be improperly deprived of money which he could put to better use. Much of the money that is being expended on the national service training scheme is being wasted. Under that scheme young lads are trained in camp for a period of 90 days, but two months after they have completed that course the great majority of them will admit that they did not. learn anything worth while in camp. The fact is that in the main the training that i3 given to them will be totally useless if they should be called upon to take up arms in defence nf this country.
– That is not true.
– It is true. National service trainees are undergoing infantry training of a type that was given as far back as 1.913.
– That is not true.
– The honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) and his colleagues, with the exception of the Minister for Defence (Mr. McBride) and the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis), have not visited any of these camps.
Under this budget, at a time when. the. cost of living is rising daily, the rate of age and invalid pensions is to bo increased by the meagre amount of 7s. Gd. a week. Many age and invalid pensioners are suffering acutely and many are dying as the result of malnutrition. They have not the wherewithal to keep body and soul together. The budget does not contain one proposal that will reduce inflation. As the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, even the minor reductions of taxes that are proposed will not actually provide a.ny relief for the great majority of taxpayers. The
Government is merely giving sops te pensioners of all .classes, including exservicemen.
– What would the Opposition do?
– If the Labour party were in office it would continue to carry out the policy that was implemented by the Curtin Government and continued by the Chifley Government. In the very near future the Australian people will indicate in no uncertain manner that they do not support the policy of this Government, which, it i.now clear, gained office by dishonest tactics. The Government parties lied to the people at the last two general elections. I need hardly recall that a government composed of the same parties was in office at the outbreak of Word War II. and that when the Japanese were at Australia’s front door those parties did not have the courage, or the capacity, to govern this country. Two supporters of that Government, Messrs. Coles and Wilson, were disgusted with ite incompetence and, fearing that the Japanese would land on our shores and massacre our people, crossed the floor of this chamber and voted Labour into office. At that time, this country experienced the most desperate period in its history. However, the Curtin Labour Government restored the people’s confidence by undertaking an all-out war effort; and, in 1946, when Australia, was passing through another most difficult period, the people returned Labour to office. On that occasion the people said, in effect, to the Labour party, “ You protected us during the war. We shall give you the responsibility of directing the nation’s affairs during the postwar period “. After Labour had solved the grave difficulties that arose during World War LT. and during the immediate post-war period, the Liberal party and the Australian Country party regained office by deceiving the electors. Those parties which had urged the people to defeat the Chifley Government’s proposal for an alteration of the Constitution to enable the Commonwealth to control prices on an Australia-wide basis, told the people during the general election campaigns in 1949 and 1951 that if returned to office they would put value back into the fi and would abolish all economic controls. Today, however, we witness the sorry spectacle of unemployment and poverty and the degradation of many sections of the community. My advice to supporters of the Government who wish to retain their seats at the next general election is chat they follow the example that Messrs. Coles and Wilson set during the recent war and vote for the amendment that the Leader of the Opposition has proposed. By doing so, they will help, to restore the confidence of the people, who, I have no doubt, will, at the next general election, return Labour to office and thus enable a government similar to that in which they placed their trust during World War IT., to restore prosperity in this country.
Lank Settlement of ex-Servicemen - Budget 1952-53 : Newspaper Publication of Information - Sir PERCY SPENDEr - Ministerial Visits Overse as - Immigration .
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- All exservicemen’s organizations throughout Australia are seriously concerned about the failure of certain State governments to fulfil their obligations to not only exservicemen, but also the community as a whole by honoring their pledges to support the war service land settlement scheme to the fullest degree. I refer particularly to Queensland. In respect of this scheme the Commonwealth made an offer to the States that it would provide the requisite capital to acquire and develop land and to make advances to soldier settlers for the financing of stock, plant, improvements and working expenses. The proposal was rejected by Hie Queensland Government, which stated that it was prepared to accept full responsibility for the land settlement of exservicemen in that State. Its record has been a sorry one indeed. The scheme has come virtually to a standstill in Queensland. The Queensland Government was gravely in error when it refused to participate in the scheme that was pro posed by the Commonwealth. Western Australia, with a population less than half that of Queensland, has gone ahead successfully, and has expended £12,358,719 on the land settlement of ex-servicemen since the inception of the scheme, compared with Queensland’s expenditure of £1,600,000. During the last financial year Western Australia expended £2,925,202 on the scheme. This makes the Queensland effort look ridiculous. During the current financial year Queensland proposes to expend only a miserable £676,500 on it. The atttiude of the Queensland Government in this matter is detrimental not only to ex-servicemen but also to the Australian economy. In the first instance, Queensland refused to co-operate with the Commonwealth merely for party political reasons. To-day there is a. sniping campaign by the Queensland Premier, who has accused the Commonwealth of being responsible for the failure of the scheme in Queensland.
– So it is.
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), by his interjection, has demonstrated his complete ignorance of the position. New South Wales and Queensland have failed completely to meet their obligations to exservicemen. Western Australia has done far more for the ex-servicemen than have those two -States. It is significant that both New South Wales and Queensland are under the control of Labour governments, lt is well known that Labour in both the State and federal spheres is prepared to play the game of party politics to the prejudice of ex-servicemen and the nation as a. whole. That is particularly evident in Queensland.
I understand that developmental projects in the Wandoan and Taroom districts in Queensland are to be abandoned. The Premier of Queensland has stated that the reason for the proposed abandonment of the projects is that the Commonwealth has refused to advance sufficient loan money to enable them to be completed. That is untrue. Considerable progress has been made by Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia, which have co-operated with the Commonwealth. There has been complete failure in the States that refused to participate, to the detriment of ex-servicemen settlers. I hope that at the next conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, the success that has been achieved by Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia will be brought forcibly to the notice of the premiers of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, and that they will realize the tremendous advantages that could accrue to their States, to the Commonwealth, and to the ex-servicemen from their participation in the scheme.
.- The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight), who is a distinguished young ex-serviceman, has complained that the scheme of land settlement of exservicemen in this country is in some danger of collapsing, because of lack of finance. However, he has not apportioned the blame correctly. If it were not a fact that the sole reason for the delay of the scheme is lack of money supplied by the Commonwealth, can the honorable member for Lilley, or anybody else, tell me why it has been moving slowly but surely to a more successful outcome than in the past? It is utterly useless for the honorable member not only to separate the States, but also to criticize the Labour States, and then to belabour them - if I may use the pun - because they have not been able to use the money advanced for the development of the scheme. The planning in Queensland, as far as I have studied it, seems to be reasonably good. It is quite understandable that the Premier of that State cannot go on with development if he has no money. Everybody knows that the money available for public works was drastically curtailed following the last meeting of the Australian Loan Council. I am not so well informed of the position in Queensland as I am of the progress of the scheme in New South Wales. The present Australian Government stands indicted for trying to sabotage the scheme. Most of the comment of supporters of the Government during the last sessional period of the Parliament was about the poor old squatter who had a lot of land for sale and was deprived of profit. To-day, with falling values, it is obvious that the tax payers would have been loaded with an unfair impost if some of the States had not resisted the suggestion some time ago that current valuations should be adopted in relation to land acquired for the settlement of ex-servicemen. Surely the New South Wales Government should not be criticized for resisting the Shylock-like attitude of certain large landholders, in the interests of the taxpayers of this country in general, and of the ex-servicemen settlers in particular. Both the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Anthony) and the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) have made it clear that they consider that the proprietors of land (required for the settlement of exservice;men should receive the maximum, rather than a reasonable price for their land. There is no appeal to patriotism now. That is the solemn truth about the matter. There has been no indication that the Government is sincere in its attitude towards the war service land settlement scheme. I admit that some Government supporters desire the scheme to be carried through, but I am discussing now the Government’s policy, and the inference that one must draw from that policy. I contend that the inference that one must draw is that the two protagonists of the land settlement of exservicemen who speak for the Government on this matter have been more concerned about the profits of the squatters who, like their forbears in the last 100 years, have done well out of the land. The States have a sovereign right to say what they propose to do about the acquisition of land. Can there be any complaint about the fact that the Labour governments of Queensland and New South Wales decided in favour of a composite scheme whereas the other States preferred to act as agents of the. Commonwealth? All the States have the same end in view.
The real hatred of the land settlement of ex-servicemen and the real attacks upon it come from graziers’ associations and other similar organizations which believe that too much good land is going to ex-servicemen. That is the basis of half the criticism that one hears of the war service land settlement scheme. Most of the other criticisms are only by the way. The scheme must necessarily proceed slowly, but, as the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod) has said often enough, it will lie most effective. The States at present have no right to impose income tax. We have been told ad nauseam of the manner in which the Commonwealth makes loan allocations to the States. Those allocations have been cut, otherwise there would have been no revolt by the Premiers. Something has to go. One may ask : “ Why should the land settlement of ex-servicemen suffer?” But, after all, why should anything else suffer? Pro rata reductions of expenditure have been made only because the States could not get the money. The Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Cahill, has stated that public expenditure has had to be reduced to conform to the amount that his government now has to spend. The reductions- have not been confined to the land settlement of exservicemen. Expenditure on all public works has been reduced, and. men have been dismissed. The first call to-day is to got the unemployed back to work. After that comes the problem of the ex-serviceman settler. It is admitted that the vote for war service bind settlement in New South Wales has been cut from £6,000,000 to £2,000,000. The blame for that lies at the door of this niggardly Australian Government. Honorable members opposite are quite willing in talk patriotic platitudes, but when hurd cash is needed, it does not matter to them, who suffers so long as the budget is balanced or appears to be balanced. As a result of that policy, war service land settlement in New South Wales is at the point of extinction. The scheme will be destroyed unless something is done to save it. It cannot be rebuilt or replanned by criticisms. Nothing can be gained by saying that the responsibility lies with the Labour Government of Queensland nr with the Labour Government of New South Wales, or by contrasting the wor1.; of those governments with that of a Liberal government somewhere else in the Commonwealth. That is a narrow attitude to adopt towards war service land settlement.
The criticism that has been made of New South Wales is not supported by figures. Expenditure in Queensland is less than £1,000,000 simply because of lack of money. The position is that through the actions of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) there is being withheld from the States, money that the people of- the States believe rightly belongs to them, and should be made available for development. The absolute minimum that they demanded was refused and will not be paid, with the result that some one must suffer. Amongst those sufferers will be the exservicemen settlers. Some fine estates have been acquired in New South Wales and ex-servicemen who have been settled on that land have every possible chance of success. Their qualifications have been proven. They have had the necessary training in farming pursuits. Farm equipment has been provided, homes have been built, and a maintenance allowance was paid to them until they were selfsupporting. That capital outlay on the scheme has been heavy, but I believe that this is one item of expenditure that should not have been cut. I believe that the honorable member for Lilley spoke sincerely, but he has been put up as a stooge to blame the States, including Queensland, the State from which he hails. Obviously the blame rightly is attributable to the Australian Government which has not made the necessary money available. If the money has not been provided, how can the States expend it? An examination of the schedule of works issued by the New South Wales Government shows that the cuts in expenditure have been applied equitably.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. McCOLM (Bowman) [10.461.- I wish, first to try to give to the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) a few facts because he seems to be sadly lacking in accurate information. The position is that whereas three States are agents for the. Commonwealth, the other three retained - and insisted on retaining as recently as the last conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers - their complete rights in regard to war service land settlement. It is not a matter of which States have Liberal governments and which States have Labour governments. Tasmania,” Western Australia, and South Australia, all have good records. Those are the States in which the Commonwealth has retained some control over policy and is responsible foi- all the moneys that are expended on war service land settlement. The States are liable only for 40 per cent, of any loss that may be incurred in the purchase price if that price exceeds the value at which the laud is resold to a. settler. New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland, States in which there is a wide variety of governments, have, «s I have said, as recently as the last Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, insisted upon retaining control over war service land settlement. In those States, the Commonwealth h«s no control of policy, but it does advance certain moneys. The honorable member for Parkes said that if those States are not given money by the Commonwealth they obviously cannot expend it. The incontrovertible fact is that, whereas in 1947 when the war service land settlement scheme was inaugurated, those States used 6 per cent, of their total allocation of loan moneys upon such settlement, at present they are using only i per cent, of their loan allocations for 1 1 1 at purpose. I emphasize that I am not speaking about the total of the loan allocation. I am speaking of the percentage of those allocations that has been expended. Can the honorable member for Parkes explain that reduction from i per cent, to 2 per cent.? To my mind it ties up with something that has been going on for some time. I refer to the deliberate attempt to discredit the Australian Government. The attempt is particularly deliberate in Queensland. The honorable member mentioned that certain persons were being dismissed from their employment because the State lacked money to continue its public works programmes. As far as I am aware, the allocation of loan moneys was the direct decision of the Australian Loan Council, on which each State is represented.
In Queensland last week, 29 carpentertrainees under the reconstruction training scheme for ex-servicemen were dis- missed from their employment by the Queensland Housing Commission. Of those 29 men, one would have completed his training within a few days, and another was receiving, and will continue to receive, compensation. The Queensland Housing Commission dismissed every trainee in its employment. Frankly. I cannot understand the reason for its action. If the commission contends that it has not sufficient money to enable the work to be continued, the last persons that should be dismissed from i heir ;jobs are the trainees, because the Commonwealth subsidizes their pay. Incidentally, the men to whom I refer were trained to within SO per cent, efficiency. If this action directed at ex-servicemen i? not political, why is it that the Queensland authorities will not sell houses to ex-servicemen through the War Service Homes Division? The reason, evidently, is that the War Service Homes Division, which is a Commonwealth authority, would receive credit for having provided those houses. If governments are to adopt such an attitude in their dealings with the people, the country will not progress very far.
Another matter that I wish to raise deals with the agricultural bank in Queensland, which is a State instrumentality. To my certain knowledge, an ex-serviceman, aged 32 years, who had been raised in the dairying and pigfarming industries, wished to obtain a property recently. He had not much capital, but he had a considerable experience of hard work in those primary industries. He was offered a. farm, a doing concern, for £30,000. The vendor was prepared to leave £4,500 in’ the property, and to take a second mortgage for that sum. Another man, for whom he had worked at one period, was prepared . to guarantee the amount of £10,000. Yet the prospective settler was unable to get one penny from the agricultural bank towards the purchase of the property. If that is the way in which a State instrumentality helps an exserviceman, I consider it to be a disgrace.
– Have not the credit restrictions, which have been imposed by this Government, some influence on the decision of the bank?
– That has nothing to do with the matter. If ex-servicemen and other men of the right type are to settle on the land, they should be given every possible encouragement. At the present time, costs are so high that the average young man is unable to purchase a property. I believe that Australia, through the medium of either the Commonwealth or the States, will be obliged to revert to the policy that induced many of our pioneers to settle on the land. I refer to the policy of “ staking “ a man on the basis of his character. Hundreds of young men have the ability to make good primary producers, but they lack the finance required for the purchase of properties. I believe that a government should be prepared to back them on the strength of their character and ability. If that policy were adopted, more men would settle on the land, and areas that are now undeveloped would be brought under production. The percentage of failures, and the financial losses that might be incurred under such a policy, would be infinitesimal compared with the advantages that would be derived from it by the country.
.- It appears to me that the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) has raised this important matter in an endeavour to belittle the Queeusland Labour Government, which he charged with lack of concern for the land settlement of ex-servicemen. I remind the honorable gentleman that the land settlement policy is the result of promises made to servicemen, not by State governments but by the Australian Government during World War II. I am glad that the honorable member for Lilley has raised this matter, although it is so important that it should be discussed at a more appropriate time than on the motion for the adjournment of the House. Earlier to-day, I asked a question about the land settlement of ex-servicemen in Victoria, where a Country party administration is in office. For the purposes of this discussion, I am not concerned about whether a Labour, Liberal or Country party government is in power at the present time; but I am concerned, first, about the honouring of promises made to servicemen during World War II., and. secondly, with the general economy of the whole nation. Unfortunately, some persons have tried to make miserable party political capital out of the land settlement of ex-servicemen in an effort, probably, to save their political hides at the next general election. For that purpose, they blame the Queensland Labour Government for the carrying out of the policy in that State.
We know perfectly well that any slowing down of the policy is due to lack of finance. Admittedly, the Governments of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria elected some years ago to become principals, and South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania elected to become the agents of the Commonwealth, in carrying out the policy of the land settlement of ex-servicemen. New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, as principals, were to obtain the finance for that purpose through the Australian Loan Council. In the initial stages, no difficulties were encountered in that respect. Victoria did a remarkably good job and probably settled more men on the land than were settled in the other five States, and doubtless would have retained that enviable record had finance continued to be available. There are ample areas of land in Victoria for settlement purposes and at least 5,000 men, who are practical young farmers, are eagerly awaiting the allocation of blocks. Estates of up to 20,000 acres in the rich Western District would now be ready for settlement had finance been available. The blame for the deterioration of the position must be laid where it properly belongs, and that is not at the door of any State government.
The land settlement of ex-servicemen is a national matter, which must be settled in this Parliament. The responsibility for raising the money that is required for the land settlement of exservicemen devolves upon the Australian Loan Council. The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), when he is asked questions about this matter, assures us that the Australian Loan Council is responsible. I take him at his word. A t the last meeting of that body, the representatives of all the States unanimously agreed that additional money was required to honour the promise made to servicemen during World War II. regarding their settlement on the land. The ob ligation rests with the Treasurer to ensure that the recommendation of the Australian Loan Council shall be carried out. However, the right honorable gentleman has chosen to ignore that recommendation. The Australian Loan Council decided that the irreducible minimum required by the States for their works programmes and land settlement schemes was £240,000,000. That amount, has not been made available, and the Victorian Government has been compelled to slash its programme for the land settlement of ex-servicemen, although to a lesser degree than it has reduced the financial allocations for other jobs. The Closer Settlement Commission of Victoria has been obliged to refrain from acquiring additional estates and is struggling to finance the development of properties upon which exservicemen have already been placed. The whole matter is most serious, and I deplore any attempt by some honorable members opposite to make petty party political propaganda out of it. I shall deal with the whole subject at greater length on a more appropriate occasion, f am satisfied now to emphasize that the National Parliament should honour the promise that was made to servicemen during World War II. After all, land settlement, from the financial standpoint, is a national matter. The Commonwealth Bank is the only institution that can provide the requisite finance for that purpose, perhaps by the issue of bank credit. We buy the asset; we have the land ; we have the young men who are even greater assets: and the wealth of the nation will be increased by greater production. Yet the Treasurer has been averse to the adaption of such a policy. He is crying out for more production, hut at the same time he is’ doing everything possible to retard production.
Mr. HAMILTON (Canning) [11.01- T support, most strongly the remarks of the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) and the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm), because they have spoken nothing but M<>. truth. The. honorable member for Wannon (Mr.
McLeod) has stated that the war service land settlement scheme resulted from a promise made to servicemen by the nation, and I agree entirely that that statement is correct. I give credit to the Labour Government of the immediate post-war years for having submitted to the States the proposition that the Australian Government should finance the whole of the war service land settlement scheme, acquire the land and develop it to the stage where exservicemen could be placed on it and be enabled to embark upon immediate production. Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria refused to accept that proposal and preferred to conduct their own schemes. The Governments of New South Wales and Queensland, particularly, commenced to acquire land, in some instances compulsorily, at 1942 values, and disagreement has existed in those two States between the authorities and the land-owners. Within four months of the present Australian Government assuming office, a conference was held in this Parliament House between representatives of the Commonwealth and the principal States with a view to overcoming the dead-lock which had developed in connexion with war service land settlement. Mr. Sheehan, who was then the New South Wales Minister for Lands, flatly refused to come to terms with the then Minister for the Interior, who is now the Minister for Defence (Mr. McBride), concerning the acquisition of land on just terms.
– Mr. Sheehan wanted the ex-servicemen to get land at a reasonable price.
– A few moments ago I heard the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) speak of the poor old squatter, and I have also heard the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) speak in similar strain. I remember that not very long ago, when this Government introduced legislation to provide for the deduction of 20 per cent, from the proceeds of the sales of wool, honorable members opposite shed crocodile tears on behalf of the poor old squatters. I submit that they cannot have it both ways.
In my opinion the principal States, particularly New South Wales and
Queensland, are endeavouring to play ducks and drakes with this scheme and to throw the whole of the onus for its operation upon the Australian Government. Tt is amazing that in 1951-52, 6 per cent, of loan moneys was expended on war service land settlement, whereas for the present financial year the expenditure will be less than 2 per cent. The amount which the Australian Loan Council decided should be raised for public works did not fall proportionately to the drop that is proposed in expenditure on war service land settlement. It is futile for the Government of New South Wales to proceed with the eastern suburbs railway and other “ hifalutin “ schemes if it will be obliged to cry out for increased food production, as some honorable members from that State have already done in this House. Yet, it is not prepared to expend a little more money on the men on the land. It has been said that £12,000,000 has been expended by Western Australia on war service land settlement. I am thankful that such expenditure on the opening up of new land has been made. I defy honorable members from New South Wales and Queensland to produce facts and figures showing that those two States have opened up new land comparable in area to that opened up in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. It might be asked whether production is being increased in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria in consequence of the acquisition of improved land, the occupants of which have been removed and replaced by others. Not only are the governments of those States acquiring improved lands, but they are also fighting land-owners to acquire their land at miserable 1942 values. They are playing the old tune about State ownership of land. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller), who is smiling broadly at the moment, has .gone on record in Mansard as having said that the State should own the land which the farmers have.
– That is a falsehood, and the honorable member knows that it is.
– It is the truth. We have heard certain members of the Opposition blaming the Australian Loan Council-
– Hear, hear!
– I point out that the States are in a position to out-vote the Commonwealth on matters that are raised at meetings of the Australian Loan Council. All responsible people know this. When the State Premiers came to Canberra this year to attend the meeting of the Australian Loan Council, they brought with them programmes that provided for the expenditure of approximately £400,000,000. Almost overnight that figure was reduced to £300,000,000, and even further at a later stage. When they left the meeting they told the people of their various States that they held responsible to help the Commonwealth to raise the necessary loans. Yet what are they doing about it? They have done nothing, nor have they assisted the Commonwealth since we have been saddled with the confounded nuisance of uniform taxation. The Statehave sovereign rights, but have no real responsibility as far as the raising of revenue is concerned. The principal States have refused to hand over the war service land settlement scheme, to the Australian Government or to assist it. even when it was a Labour government, to raise the moneys required for their own purposes.
– That is not true.
– You know that it is true.
-Order ! The honorable member will address me.
– The States have rejected entirely the suggestion by this Government that it should take over the war service land settlement scheme. Because of their bungling ever since the inception of the scheme, they are now trying to put out a smoke-screen and to blame the Australian Government for their maladministration.
.- I do not propose to follow the example of several honorable members, particularly certain honorable members opposite, who have displayed little confidence in State parliaments. I wish to discuss a matter which concerns us as federal members. At 8 p.m. on Wednesday last, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) commenced to read his budget speech. Prior to that time the speech and the details of the budget were a close secret. The budget -papers were brought to this Parliament under very strict precautions, and no knowledge of the contents of the budget papers was made available to the members of the Parliament prior to the commencement of the Treasurer’s speech. We were told, as, of course, we always expect to be told, that the budget is a close secret until such time as the Treasurer brings iiic details of it to the Parliament. However, on reading the evening newspapers published on the 6th August, particularly the Melbourne Herald, the city edition of which goes on to the streets at approximately 12.30 p.m., it was possible to find not only general speculation concerning the contents of the budget, but also definite figures. For instance, the proposed tax concessions were outlined, such as the reduction of income tax by 10 per cent., and the sales tax concessions were mentioned, admittedly in general terms. No doubt that could be said to have been rather wise guessing on the part of the press. However, the article in the Melbourne Herald went further than that and mentioned specifically that expenditure was estimated at £959,000.000, and so on. in other words, it was evident that the persons employed in this newspaper office had, in one way or another, obtained a copy of the budget papers prior to the budget speech being delivered in this chamber. Every honorable member knows that to be wrong. British Chancellors of the Exchequer have been compelled to resign because of an indiscreet word about the budget. One does not need to have a suspicious mind in order to realize how some people could make fortunes with such advance knowledge. If they had the information available to them by noon on the day ‘on which the budget was presented at 8 p.m. what, was to stop them from making lingo fortunes on the stock exchange by way of speculation in the shares of the companies which would be affected by the budget?
This is a matter of the gravest importance. No one can convince me that the editorial or reporting staff of the Melbourne Herald was able to guess the exact budget figures regarding revenue and expenditure. Was this information given to the newspapers before it was given to this Parliament? The answer is “Yes”. This newspaper appeared on the streets at noon and the Treasurer did not deliver his budget speech until 8 p.m. Were the newspapers given a complete copy of the budget papers containing particulars of sales tax concessions with their farreaching effects on business? If that information was given to them this House is entitled to demand from the Treasurer an explanation of the- reasons why it was given. If he cannot furnish a suitable explanation ‘ honorable members are entitled to request his resignation. I make that statement seriously, having in mind the practice that has been followed in this and other parliaments ever since budgets have been brought before representativeparliaments elected by the people.
– Some one had to print the budget.
– That is true. It was printed in the Government Printing Office in a confidential room by a confidential staff, every member of which is pledged to secrecy. When it was printed it was kept under seal. Copies were despatched to capital cities so that newspapers would have them when the Treasurer commenced his speech. Bid the newspapers betray the confidence that was placed in them when sealed copies were given to their officers? I understand that Government supporters made valiant but unsuccessful attempts to obtain details of the budget from the Treasurer before he presented it in this chamber. Honorable members are entitled to insist that the Treasurer shall preserve the ethics of the parliamentary system and that no opportunity shall be given to anybody to make a fortune from foreknowledge of the budget. I do not suggest that there have been attempts to make a profit from such knowledge. I would not know whether that had occurred or not, I do not know sufficient about the stock exchange, and I have not been able to examine that position, but I do know that anybody in possession of information concerning the budget at noon on the day on which it was to be presented in this Parliament was in a position to make a considerable profit from that knowledge.
The House is entitled to demand from the Treasurer a full explanation of what information was given concerning the budget, how it was given and whether the newspapers were supposed to keep that information under seal until 8 p.m. or were entitled to publish it at noon. The Treasurer should explain why he has departed from the ethics that have always been observed by Treasurers in this Parliament by giving to people outside the Parliament foreknowledge of the details of the budget.
, - Like the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon), I am rather interested in certain press reports. I refer to a report that Sir Percy Spender, when he attended the Australia, New Zealand and United States conference, known as the Anzus conference in Honolulu, engaged a suite at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel which costs £33 6s. Sd. a day each for himself and Lady Spender. I do not mind in the least if this alleged expenditure has been met by Sir Percy Spender himself. If that is so, my interest will wane and I shall have no further concern in the matter. But I have a very strange suspicion that that desirable situation may not exist. I am afraid that the taxpayers of this country have been called upon to meet this expenditure.
– How many more of the delegation stayed at the hotel?
– I do not know. I shall be grateful if the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis), who is at the table, will enlighten the House on that point later on.
It is very interesting to observe the perambulations of Sir Percy Spender. It has been alleged that he was elevated to his present rank as a result of hi3 attempted sabotage of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) while that right honorable gentleman was abroad. He was told that he would have to get out of the Cabinet or accept an appointment in Washington, so lie decided to take the appointment in Washington, which apparently had a knighthood tacked on to it.
Sir Percy Spender entered this House on the slogan, “ Come on a bender with Percy Spender”. Now, he apparently proposed to go on a bender at the expense of the taxpayer. I want the Minister for the Army to tell honorable members whether it is true that Sir Percy and Lady Spender stayed at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in a suite which cost £33 6s. Sd. each a day. If it is true, did Sir Percy Spender pay for it himself or was the cost of the suite borne by the Australian taxpayers? The Minister might also give to the House the long promised statement on the cost of the Prime Minister’s trip abroad and the cost of the trip abroad by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen). Did the £13,000, which the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is credited with having spent, cover the full cost of his journey?
I remember requesting the Government to make a small grant to assist in the treatment of crippled children in South Australia. I asked the Government to give £1,000 towards the treatment of crippled children, but I was told that the Government could not make that grant, presumably because it could not afford it. I suggest that it is about time that Ministers started clipping a few thousand pounds off their trips overseas so that reasonable requests can be met. The members of the Government should endeavour to set an example to the people instead of wandering around the world, rigged out in black Homburg hats and seeming wise expressions, recklessly squandering the people’s money while unemployed persons and pensioners are starving. Therefore, I say that this is a very serious matter. There may not be anything in the press report about Sir Percy Spender to which I have referred, but the Minister should clear up the matter because the people of Australia are just about fed up with the wasteful and extravagant expenditure of the Prime Minister, his colleagues, Sir Percy Spender and other high officers on the Government pay-roll. I hope that the Minister will take immediate steps to provide, answers to the questions that I have asked.
– It was a distinct and devastating shock to this community to learn that there were 2,350 Italians in the immigrant camp at Bonegilla. Those immigrants are personalities. They have souls with the same aspirations as honorable members of this House, and with the same hopes, fears and anxieties. They left their hearths and homes, their kith and kin, and their friends and relations to come to this land of milk and honey. They looked upon this country as an earthly paradise, and themselves as chasing the gold at the foot of the rainbow. Then they found themselves in Bonegilla camp, penniless, alone and with a paltry allowance of 5s. a week spending money. In another immigrant camp adjacent to Footscray there are about 100 Italians, and at present there are 1,000 at Bonegilla. The fact that these men are unemployed is a national disgrace, and reeks in the nostrils of al] the decent people of the world. It is a disgrace to Australia that we have brought these young people here and allowed them to be frustrated in an environment and under the conditions that exist in the camps. What has the Government done about these men? The immigrants, full of hope, pride and anticipation, attempted to demonstrate in the City of Albury. Then this Government sent out tanks and soldiers to see that order was preserved.
– That is completely untrue.
– I saw photographs of tanks standing by, and I also have the evidence of my own eyes that when these immigrant marchers endeavoured to try in a decent way to draw public attention to their case the forces of law and order were immediately despatched to ensure that ‘their spirits should be duly depressed. That is a disgrace and is an indefensible action. The immigrants were brought to this country, where our customs and our language are strange to them, and it was our duty to see that they were treated in a proper fashion. The first week after the demonstration in Albury 400 immigrants were taken out of Bonegilla camp and sent to the old depression work of chipping grass, cleaning up quarters and doing other odd jobs at drafting camps. One would have thought that we were back in the depths of depression because these men were accomplishing nothing of a permanent, nature, and the Government was using a transparent expedient to tide itself over a time of crisis in the hope that the community would forget all about its handling of the immigrants. The second week after the demonstration 600, and then later 1,000 men were sent to do the same work. In all seriousness, I say that the Government’s handling of this matter was an absolute disgrace. Our economy should be able to absorb these immigrants easily and readily. These people look out from Bonegilla camp or from Maribyrnong camp and see a rich countryside endowed with all the blessings of nature ; but they also see that, our own stupidity and bungling is holding us up to derision and contempt throughout the length and breadth of the world.
– We have been told many times that when one fails in any effort or endeavour the best way to cover up that failure is to put up a smoke-screen. To-night the Opposition completely failed in its attack on the budget-
– Order ! The Minister cannot, refer to the budget debate.
– The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon), the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mullens) have endeavoured to put up a smoke-screen to-night. [ shall leave the matter at that. The observations of the honorable member for Yarra are completely irresponsible. [ have known the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) for the best part of a lifetime, and have always considered him to be one of the most honest, straightforward and dignified members of the community. He has always been a hard-working gentleman, who in no circumstances would be guilty of what the honorable member has implied. I suggest that the honorable member’s implications are entirety unworthy. A uniform procedure is laid down for making the copies of the budget available to all the newspapers of the Commonwealth, and it is unworthy of the honorable member and utterly untrue to make the suggestions that he has made to-night. As these irresponsible, careless observations have been bandied about this House to-night, I shall ensure that the Treasurer is informed of what the honorable member has said, and I am sure that ho will give a satisfactory reply, not only to the honorable member, but also to the whole of the country. 1 completely deny the unfair allegation of the honorable member for Hindmarsh that our ambassador in Washington was appointed to the important post of representing the Crown in the United States of America because he was disloyal to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). That statement has been denied by the Prime Minister and by Sir Percy Spender. Nobody who knows the honorable member for Hindmarsh will place any faith in his allegations.
The honorable member should contain his curiosity about the travelling expenses of members of this Government until the Treasurer gives the reply which he undertook to give to a question earlier to-day. That reply will give details of such expenses and also information of the success of the missions on which Ministers have been engaged. Furthermore, it will include details of the travelling costs incurred by Ministers and supporters of the former Labour Administration. The honorable gentleman will gain no satisfaction from that information.
– I suggest that the Minister prepare a statement containing all information on this subject as far back as 1927, when the Parliament was moved to Canberra.
– I shall not do so. The Treasurer has already undertaken to provide information retrospectively to include the period of administration by the recent Labour governments.
A period of three weeks has elapsed since the incidents to which the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mullens) referred took place. As soon as possible after the incident had occurred, the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Beale) made a complete statement on the subject in this House, but the honorable member has remained silent until the fiasco to-night.
– The House was not sitting at the time.
– But it sat last week, and no comments were made by the honorable member for Gellibrand then. The allegation that the Army took a part in the incident and that tanks went here and tanks went there is entirely untrue. I shall state the facts for the benefit of the House. As the Minister for the Army, I was asked whether 40 men and one officer, not any specific unit, could be detailed to stand by because police were fearful that the trouble that had occurred at Bonegilla camp might get beyond their control and endanger life and property. Therefore, men were required to remain in camp. They did not lea.ve the camp. They were not asked by the police to render any assistance, and the Army did not render assistance to the police in any way. That is a complete reply to the foul allegation by the honorable member that tanks and other equipment were gathered together for the purpose of intimidating the immigrants. I have stated the facts. I leave the issue there.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Committee on Taxation - Reports -
Assessability of amounts receivedin relation to employment and to retirement from employment.
Assessment or exemption of incomes derived from primary production.
Contribution to pension funds.
Deductions in respect of retiring allowances and pensions paid to employees, former employees and their dependants.
Exemption of income of certain bodies and funds.
Leases - Reports dated - 16th January, 1952. 22nd July, 1952.
Simplification of Income Tax return forms.
Taxation of income of companies - private and non-private and of shareholders; together with supplement - private companies.
Taxation of income of Friendly Society Dispensaries.
Trading Stock (provisions other than those relating to live-stock) ; together with supplementary report.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (2).
Lands Acquisition Act - Land, &c, acquired for Defence purposes - Bulimbn. Queensland.
Papua and New Guinea Act - Ordinances - 1951- No. 76- Supply (No. 3) 1951-52. 1052-
No. 1 - Customs Tariff Surcharge.
No. 2 - Customs (Rubber Export) Tariff.
No. 3 - Papua and New Guinea Commerce Board.
No. 4 - Workers’ Compensation.
No. 5 - Deserted Wives and Children.
No. 6 - Fencing.
No. 7 - Pawnbrokers.
No. 8 - Stock Brands.
No. 9 - Restaurants (Licensing).
No. 10 - Petroleum Storage.
No. 11 - Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Attorney-General’s - W. England, D. McDonald.
Postmaster -General’s - B. M. Byrne, P. L. Elliston, W. C. Gee, P. T. Jones, J. M. Lock, C. V. Morris.
Social Services - J. S. Short.
Scat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Canberra University College - Report for 1951.
House adjourned at 11.34 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Mr.Crean asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What was the amount of pay-roll tax collected monthly during the year 1951-52?
What was the aggregate amount of wages recorded monthly on pay-roll returns in that year!
What was the amount of pay-roll tax and the aggregate amount of wages for July, 1952?
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
l asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Hoard asked to give advice on the magnitude nf the works programme for 1952-53; if so, will he informtheHouse of the nature of the advicetendered?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1, 2,3 and 4. These matters have been fully dealt with in my Budget Speech (and Annexures) presented on the6th August.
z asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National: Development has supplied the following information : - 1, 2 and 3. The Common wealth has been advised hy five oil companies of their intentions to erect new or additional refining capacityin Australia. The particularsareas follows : -
The Shell Company is at present erecting a new refinery at Geelong, Victoria.
The Vacuum Oil’ Company proposes toerect a new refinery unit on the siteof the company’s existing refinery al Altona, Victoria,
The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company Limited has announced its intention to erect a large modern refinery at Kwinana..’ Western Australia.
The Caltex Oil (Australia) Proprietary Limited has notified the Commonwealth of its intention to erect a refinery at Kurnell, New South Wales.
Bitumen and Oil Refineries (Austrafia) recently commenced operating a new catalytic reforming unit on the site’ of-‘ their existing refinery at Matraville. New South Wales.
It is expected that the announced refinery proposals, when completed, will provide about 85 per cent. of the estimated Australian requirements of petroleum products. The Government - cannot offer any opinion as towhether the proposed development ofthe refinery industryin Australia will result in production costsof refined petroleum products beingreduced. employment.
d asked the Ministeractingfor the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
Mr.McBridge. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
s. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows . -
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
y. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 August 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1952/19520812_reps_20_218/>.