20th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
ISSUE of Whit.
– I have- to announce that it is my intention to issue a writ on Tuesday, the 16th September next, for the ejection of n member to serve for the electoral division of Flinders, in the State of Victoria, in place of Rupert Sumner Ryan, deceased. The dates in connexion with the election will be fixed as follows : - Issue of writ, Tuesday, the 16th September; nominations. Tuesday, the 30th September; polling, Saturday, the 18th October; return of writ, on or before Wednesday, the 12th November.
31 r. MENZIES. - It is with great pleasure that I am able to inform honorable members that I have received advice of an announcement made from Buckingham Palace this morning that Her Majesty the Queen has been graciously pleased to approve of the appointment of Field Marshal Sir William Slim, G:C.B., G.B.E., D.S.O., M.C., as GovernorGeneral of the Commonwealth of Australia. I am delighted with the appointment as, I am sure, Australians will be, and I am .confident that Sir William Slim’s great ability, force of character, and superb military record and experience will commend him to the people. The present Governor-General, of course, will continue in office until Sir William Slim is sworn in. I anticipate that Sir William will leave for Australia early in the new year.
– Last Friday, the honorable member for East Sydney .(Mr. Ward) asked me a question about the placing on the notice-paper of the dates on which questions on notice first appeared. I have examined the position, and I consider that it is a reform, or an innovation-, which may be useful to all honorable members, including honorable gentlemen on the treasury bench. The new procedure will not be made retrospective, but will come into operation as from to-morrow.
– On the 5th March last, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) addressed a question to ute about the Commonwealth Parliamentary Handbook. Since then, I have received correspondence from the honorable member for Ryan on the same matter. 1 inform the House that the material for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Handbook for the Nineteenth Parliament was prepared and submitted to the Government Printer in August, 1950. The book had not been published by the 19th March, 1951, when the double dissolution occurred. The matter was brought completely up to date and re-submitted to the Government Printer in May, 1951. Some proofs have been supplied to the Library authorities, but so far we have received no information on when the book is likely to be published. In the circumstances, the Library Committee, having taken action in this matter in the normal course of events, it is not my intention to take any steps to have any other publication recognized as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Handbook.
– I understand that this afternoon the Minister for Supply is to receive a deputation that has been arranged by the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith in relation to the Government’s proposal to change the control or ownership of the Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool. In view of representations that members of the Opposition have received from many quarters, including ex-servicemen’s organizations, many of whose members are at present employed by the pool, will the Minister review this proposal and consult with the Parliament before a final decision is made in respect of the future control of this important service?
– I point out to the Leader of the Opposition that the decision with respect to the Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool was made by the Government. My only interest in the matter, apart from my membership of the Government, is that the disposition of the assets of the pool was entrusted to the contracts and disposals section within the Department of Supply. I have consented to meet this afternoon, if possible, a deputation of persons who have intimated that they desire to place some views before me on the matter, and I shall receive that deputation when I am free to do so. Any question of reversing the Cabinet’s decision is, of course, a matter for the Government. I shall give consideration to the right honorable gentleman’s request and, if necessary, refer the matter back to the Cabinet.
– I have the honour to bring up a statement advising the Parliament that the Foreign Affairs Committee has forwarded to the. Minister for External Affairs a report relating to the so-called Peking peace conference.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior under whose instructions duplicating machines were removed from the federal members’ rooms in the various capital cities. Where are these machines located at present, and to what use have they been put? Is it a fact that a number of them are lying idle in stores or in certain departmental offices? In view of the great inconvenience that the removal of the machines has caused to members of the Parliament generally, will the Minister give consideration to restoring them to federal members’ rooms and thus facilitate the work of honorable members generally? Is the removal of the machines evidence of the fact that whilst the Government talks in millions it acts on a pinch penny basis?
– The administration of federal members’ rooms is under my control, and the machines to which the honorable member has referred were removed under instructions from me following consultations that I had with other Ministers. I issued such instructions because the machines were being used in certain instances for purposes other than those for which they were allocated to federal member’s rooms. They were being used for the roneoing -of ordinary party political propaganda.
– By whom?
– I shall not say by whom merely because the honorable member wishes me to do so. The circumstances justified the withdrawal of the machines. If a number of honorable members desire that they be restored to be used for purposes for which they were originally intended to be used, I shall be pleased to review the matter. I do not propose to permit to be put through these machines reams of material which should be roneo-:ed not at the expense of the taxpayers but in party rooms.
FOREIGN SUBMARINES Mr. CRAMER - Will the Minister for the Navy take the earliest opportunity to present to the House a complete statement on the reports of the presence of submarines and other vessels in waters contiguous to the north of Australia, so that speculative propaganda will not gain ground, and so that the people will be properly informed of the facts and of the steps that are being taken to protect their interests.
– I shall be only too happy to consider the suggestion that has been made by the honorable member for Bennelong. I shall consult the Government on whether a statement should be made in this House about the operations of submarines and fishing vessels in waters contiguous to the northern parts of Australia. Because of a possible misunderstanding, and of the mis- statements that have been made, I should like to confirm in clear terms that it is highly improbable that submarines have operated in waters to the north of Aus tralia, particularly the Bismarck Sea and waters contiguous to the Solomon Islands and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
– I direct to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture a question relative to .the taxing of primary producers. The Minister has stated that one of the Government’s incentives to primary producers is the 20 per cent, deduction . on the cost of machinery. building, &c, which ‘ is to operate for five years. Will the Minister explain how this concession .compares with the 40 per cent, initial depreciation allowance that operated during the regime of the Labour Government?
– The modification of the taxation law to give an incentive concession to primary producers accords a very substantia] advantage to them under the new arrangement for a 20 per cent, depreciation allowance as against the 40 per cent, initial depreciation allowance that previously operated. The advantage arises from the fact that, under the present law, capital expenditure in respect of homes built for farm, workers up to a value of £2,000, all farm structures, which would include wool sheds, hay sheds, silos and cow sheds, all farm fencing and all farm equipment, is covered by an annual allowable deduction, operative over a period of five years, of 20 per cent, of the original cost of the equipment or farm structures. That arrangement gives an obvious advantage to the farmer during each of the five years. The previous arrangement provided for a maximum allowable concessional deduction of 40 per cent, in the first year. Thereafter the allowance was on the prescribed depreciation allowance scale that related to the particular structure or equipment concerned, and might have been as low as 2-1- per cent, on the depreciated and still diminishing value of the structure, or perhaps 10 per cent, in the case of an item of farm equipment. Any accountant or thoughtful person could easily demonstrate conclusively that the new modification of the law provides a great incentive to primary producers.
– Will the Treasurer inform the House whether the Electricity Commission of Victoria has indicated, privately, that it is unable to ,pay, in full, instalments amounting to approximately £6,000,000, which are due to contractors under agreements? Is it correct that the commission has proposed to those contractors that it should pay about one-halt’ of the amounts clue now, and that payment of the remainder shall be deferred until the next financial year? If such a proposal has been made does the right honorable gentleman know whether it is likely to be accepted by the commission’s creditors ? Would such an arrangement, if made, be consistent with the obligations of the Victorian Government and the Electricity Commission of Victoria under the Financial Agreement and the ancillary gentlemen’s agreement? If it would be inconsistent, does the Treasurer intend to intervene in order to make those agreements effective?
– Order ! A question asked without notice should be such as a Minister has a chance to reply to.
– Is the right honorable gentleman aware that the contractors concerned have indicated to the Premier of Victoria, through the Chamber of Commerce, the possible effects of such default on employment and business confidence generally?
– As the subject-matter is obviously one that concerns a State instrumentality, the honorable member’s question should be directed to the Premier of Victoria.
Air. WIGHT.- Will -the Treasurer inform the House whether a provision exists in the ‘Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement to enable the States to sell houses that have been erected under that scheme? If such provision does exist, what conditions are imposed by the Commonwealth in relation to the terms of sale? Has the Queensland Government made any approach to the Commonwealth with a .view to arranging for the sale of houses that have been erected in that State under the scheme? Can the right honorable gentleman state the approximate amount that has been allocated to Queensland by the Commonwealth for the ensuing year in accordance with the agreement?
– As the honorable member for Lilley was good enough to inform me that he intended to ask this question., I have prepared a reply. There is provision in the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement whereby a State may sell dwellings that have been erected under the agreement, subject to the consent of the Commonwealth being obtained in cases where, the sale price will be less than the capital cost of the dwelling. Provision is made for the State to pay the purchase price to the Commonwealth, which advances to the States the finance required for the erection of dwellings under the agreement. The Premier of. Queensland has proposed that the ‘Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement should be varied to provide for the sale of such dwellings on terms. That proposal is being considered by the Commonwealth. If my memory serves me correctly the Queensland Government will participate in the amount of £30,000,000 that is being made available under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement during the current financial year to the amount of approximately £3,750,000.
– Can the Minister for Works say whether it is a fact that 40 carpenters who have been working at Booragul, near Newcastle, on a Commonwealth housing project for British immigrants, are to be dismissed next Friday? If so, does the Government intend to let this most important labour force remain idle while more than 2,000 families, including immigrants, are seeking homes in the industrial city of Newcastle? Does the Minister know that enormous quantities of building material are available for the construction of houses? Will he seek from the Government sufficient finance to enable the building of houses for immigrants, pensioners, and any other persons who may require them, and so keep in employment the tradesmen whom he now proposes to disemploy ?
– I have no detailed knowledge of the particular project to which the honorable member has referred.
– There are 7S houses in it.
– There may he, but that represents only a small proportion of the £50,000,000 ‘programme now being undertaken by the Department of Works, and obviously, no Minister could be expected to provide at a moment’s notice details of the number of workmen employed on the various jobs. The Australian Government does not build houses for pensioners or anyone else except some of its own employees. Housing generally is entirely a State responsibility. At the last Loan Council meeting, the Australian Government went out of its way to ensure that the full £30,000,000 required by the States for housing purposes would be made available to them. That was over and above the ordinary allocation that was agreed to in the loan programme. The building of immigrant camps is another matter. I do not know the view of the Department of Immigration on the particular project to which the honorable member has referred in the light of the curtailment of the immigration programme, hut I shall have that matter investigated and answer the remaining questions of the honorable member in the near future.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Supply. Two Australian ex-servicemen, one of whom was a prisoner of war in Germany, who were employed as truck drivers at the Enoggera immigration centre, have been transferred to the Commonwealth car pool in McLachlan-street, The Valley, Brisbane, and their positions at the immigration centre have been taken by three new Australians, who are German ex-servicemen. It is proposed that similar action shall be taken at the Wacol immigration centre in relation to six Australian ex-servicemen. I ask the Minister, first, whether he will investigate the position with a view to restoring the two ex-servicemen to their original positions at Enoggera ; secondly, whether he will fake action to’ prevent the six exservicenieu drivers at Wacol from being displaced, and thirdly, whether this is the . method that is being used by the Government to implement its policy of preference to ex-servicemen?
– 1 have no personal knowledge of the details of the matters that, have been raised by the honorable gentleman. I remember that, some time ago, we effected substantial economies in the Commonwealth transport organization, which is administered by the Department of Supply. As a part of those economies, certain departments, including thu Department of Immigration, did a good deal of their own transport work, and immigrants living in immigration hostels drove cars that formerly had been driven by drivers attached to the transport pool of my department. I do not know whether that is how the matters arose that the honorable gentleman has mentioned. I shall investigate them, and furnish him with a reply as soon as possible.
– Reports have been received that, within recent months, dogs, cats, fowls and foxes have died from a disease, the symptoms of which resemble those of myxomatosis. Will the Minister iri charge of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization say whether his officers have studied those reports? Do they consider that, in spreading myxomatosis amongst rabbits, there is a danger that other, and more useful animals, may also become infected ?
– I am glad that the honorable gentleman has asked this question, because I realize that, despite a number of statements that have been made upon the matter, there is still some anxiety in the minds of a number of people about whether myxomatosis can be contracted by domestic and wild birds and animals, and even by human beings. I am pleased to be able to give him a complete assurance that there is no case on record of any animal except the rabbit having been infected with myxomatosis. Occasionally, animals have been found to be suffering from eye diseases and from swellings of* the head which have been taken to be myxomatosis, but in practically all cases it has been ascertained that the disease is either conjunctivitis, one of the distempers, or one of a list of at least twenty diseases that are normally contracted by birds and animals. Although many individual cases have been investigated scientifically, in no instance has an animal other than a rabbit been found to have, been infected with myxomatosis. The problem is how to obtain complete evidence in these cases. I assure the House that both the officers of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the veterinary officers of the State governments would, welcome gladly information about cases which they could investigate immediately. The difficulty is that the evidence appears to dissipate from the moment that a complaint is made, and it is very seldom that, when an officer arrives on the spot, the animal concerned, if it be still alive, is in such a condition as to enable the case to be investigated satisfactorily. Scientific officers in both the State and the Commonwealth spheres have assured me, not once but time and again, that, in their opinion, it is quite impossible for any animal other than a rabbit to contract myxomatosis.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he recently interviewed a delegation- from a Melbourne firm in connexion with television? If such an interview did take place, will the Prime Minister advise the House whether the delegation submitted certain proposals to the Government in connexion with television and, if so,, will he give the House full details of the submissions made and whether they are, acceptable to the Government? Further, will he make a full statement to the House on the Government’s policy on television, particularly in view of its importance in relation to defence and also in view of the number of dismissals of employees that have “occurred in recent months in the radio industry?
– It would not be quite accurate to say that I was interviewed by a delegation. I was interviewed by the head of one firm which is engaged in the radio industry. That gentleman placed before me some proposals in relation to the manufacture in Australia of television equipment. I heard what he had to say, and I indicated that L would convey the matter to my colleague, the Postmaster-General, or the Minister representing him, and that in the appropriate course of events it would bc examined by the Government. No decision has been taken on the matter. I am not at the moment in a position to make a statement on the matter of policy to which the honorable member has referred, but when it is possible, to make such a statement it will be made by the appropriate Minister.
– Will the Treasurer make a recommendation to the next, meeting of the Australian Loan Council, or take whatever other action is necessary, to achieve prompt action to have finance made available to municipal councils to enable them to undertake street construction work and so absorb the large number of unemployed persons who are available to undertake this urgent work? If he cannot himself do this, will he arrange to call an early meeting of the Loan Council to discuss and deal with this matter in order to relieve the unemployment position which in some districts, particularly in my own electorate, is now becoming desperate?
– The functions and responsibilities of the Loan Council are set out in the Australian Constitution. As chairman of the coun-cil I shall call a meeting when requested to do so by the requisite number of members, or when there is business which requires the attention of the council.
– The Minister for Air will recall that, for some time I have been stressing the need for promotions to senior ranks, particularly from group captain to air commodore, in the Royal Australian Air Force. Can the Minister now tell me whether such promotions are to be made, and if so, when they are likely to be gazetted ?
– It is quite true that the honorable member for Indi has been urging me for some time to amend the command structure of the Royal Australian Air Force, particularly with regard to the officers’ lists. In the course of the last few days, the Executive Council has approved five or six new air commodore postings, and I hope very shortly to be able to state which officers will be promoted to this rank.
– Has the Minister for Defence considered the desirability of allowing a right of appeal to genuine conscientious objectors who are called up for training under the National Service Act? If not, will the Minister give consideration to this matter?
Mr. -MCBRIDE. - I can assure the honorable member that very careful consideration was given to this proposal. It was considered by the Department of Defence and by the Government. In view of all the circumstances it was deemed unnecessary to give conscientious objectors any right of appeal.
– Was that before there was a deputation on the subject?
– The decision was taken about a fortnight ago.
– In view of the grave discontent that exists in the coal-mining industry owing to the difference between the mine-workers’ pension and the social services pension, as the result of which the Commonwealth saves a great deal of money, will the Minister for Social Services agree to meet a deputation, consisting of the New South Wales Minister for Mines, Mr. Arthur, and representatives of the miners’ federation, to discuss the matter, and will he give serious consideration to the supplementing of the miners’ pension by an amount equivalent to the difference between that pension and the social services pension, paid by the Commonwealth ?
– Order ! The matter should have been discussed with the Minister personally. In future I shall not allow questions to be asked in regard to deputations to Ministers.
– I have already received a deputation on this subject from the miners’ federation. The members of the deputation asked that the Commonwealth should subsidize the superannuation funds of the miners.. They were informed that there are approximately 1,400 funds of a similar kind in Australia and that the Government could not treat one fund differently from another. They were also told that the miners’ superannuation funds are covered by particular and specific State legislation. I suggested to them that they should approach the New South Wales Government to ascertain whether that Government would be willing to vary the provisions of the State act governing coa.miners’ pensions.
– The State Government lias passed the buck to the Commonwealth.
– It is not a matter for the Commonwealth, therefore; I pass it back.
Mi-. BERRY. - I understand that about ten weeks ago the Australian Meat Board asked the Government whether it would consider the construction of a railway from Birdum, in the Northern Territory, to the Queensland border, in order to assist the meat industry, particularly in times of drought. Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture’ state whether Cabinet has yet considered the request, and, if it has done so, whether any decision has yet been . made? If a decision has been made, will the Minister announce it to the House? If a favorable decision has been made, will the Minister ascertain from the Queensland Government whether that Government is prepared to extend the railway line from Dajarra, or Mount Isa, to the Queensland border, in. order to complete this important rail link?
– A proposal that a railway should be built from the northwestern terminal in the Queensland system, across the Barkly Tableland, has been frequently advocated during the last twenty years. A deputation, representative of the Australian Meat Board, and certain other interests, waited upon me and the Minister for Territories some weeks ago and re-emphasized the pressing need for such a railway. My colleague and I have been assembling the kind of information that should be assembled before the proposal could be given governmental consideration. In due course the proposal will be brought before the Cabinet.
Conversation being audible,
– Order ! I direct attention to the fact that honorable members are indulging in audible conversation alongside the most sensitive microphone in the chamber.
– If such a railway were built it would be a projection of the Queensland system and, naturally, if the Government were desirous of proceeding with it, the proposal would necessarily have to be discussed with the Queensland Government.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison. through Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That Government business shall take precedence overgeneral business to-morrow.
In Committee of Supply: Considera tion resumed from the 2nd September (vide page 890).
Department of Immigration
Proposed vote, £1,340,000.
Department of Labour and National Service
Proposed vote, £1,795,000.
Department of National Development.
Proposed vote, £1,380,000.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization
Proposed vote, £3,381,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
.- The Estimates “ before the committee include those for the Department of Labour and National Service. That department is charged with the adminis tration of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board, which is one of the Government’s instruments for improving the state of affairs in Australian ports. The state of our ports is notorious throughout the world. I believe that there can be no real progress or development in Australia until the transport system is on a sound and proper basis. That cannot be achieved until the ports are made to work effectively. The situation since the end of the war has been had, notwithstanding some dramatic changes recently. Overseas ships spend more time in Australian ports than they spend at sea. The congestion in the harbours, on the wharfs, behind the wharfs and on the roads leading to them is such that endless waste of time and delay ensues. The position is the same with interstate shipping. More or less the same wharfs and areas are used by that section of the shipping trade and it suffers also from congestion. The intra-state shipping industry was once a thriving section of Australian trade. Many small ships carried cargo and passengers around the coast. It is gradually dying. Small ports which were once centres of active trade are going out of the maritime business. Shipping companies which ran two or three small vessels up and down the coast are ceasing to operate. Only recently one of the two surviving companies trading to the south coast of New South Wales ceased its operations. As a result, shipping services to these ports have almost ceased. This has thrown an additional strain on the roads and railways. It is common knowledge that rail transport is congested, inefficient and costly. It is also well known that our roads are being torn to pieces by heavy vehicles which carry goods that should be transported by sea. The result is obvious. The commerce of the country is being held up, costs are excessive, and roads are being damaged beyond the capacity of municipal and shire authorities to repair them. In the outlying parts of the continent the position is even worse. Nothing has been done to improve port facilities, and there can be no real development of outlying areas until better facilities are provided. When I was in Darwin a few weeks ago, two comparatively small ships were in the port, and one had to lie at anchor in the roadstead until the other was cleared and had left the wharf. There was not accommodation at the wharf even for two small ships, and the wharf itself is in such a bad state of repair that the authorities fear that it will not last for another year. The Parliament has recently been concerning itself with the problems of the Northern Territory. I suggest that we cannot even begin to solve those problems until facilities are improved at the port of Darwin.
The problem of the turn-round of ships at our ports is a complex one. I know that industrial considerations are important. There is much lost time, and a high percentage of unproductive labour. There is a considerable amount of industrial disturbance, which results in delays in the loading and unloading of ships. The introduction of the shorter working week, not only on the waterfront itself, but also in the warehouses and bond stores, has slowed down the handling of cargo. However, in addition to those industrial factors, there are physical considerations which are having an effect almost equal in delaying the working of the ships. These physical factors include the unsatisfactory state of the wharfs, lack of handling equipment, congestion of roads leading to wharfs, and the over-crowding of bond stores, as well as old-fashioned loading docks in warehouses. This is an appropriate time for the committee to consider whether any improvement is being effected. Admittedly, there ha3 been a marked change during the last few months. The shipping companies trading between Australia and Great Britain have been able to remove the 12-£ per cent, surcharge imposed some years ago to cover losses arising from the slow turn-round of ships in Australian ports. That is an improvement, hut when we analyse the situation we realize that it is not a permanent improvement, for it is due wholly, to what we hope is a temporary reduction of the volume of our import trade. The improvement is not in any sense due to better conditions on the waterfront. It is temporary and gives no cause for confidence.
As I said, the problems associated with securing a satisfactory turn-round of ships are very complex. They are the concern not only of the Australian Government, but to an even greater degree of the State governments. I speak particularly of the port of Sydney, which . is the one I know best. There is no doubt that the chief responsibility for the present state of affairs in the port of Sydney rests upon the State Government. One of the finest natural ports in the world has been reduced to such a state by inattention and neglect that it has become notorious throughout the World. Not very long ago this Government wisely obtained the services of Mr. Henry Basten to make an investigation of the shipping position in Australian ports. I draw the attention of the committee to the following remarks which Mr. Basten made about New South “Wales in the first appendix to Part III. at page 31 of his report : -
A most pressing need of the waterfront in few South Wales is to increase and improve the port installations.
Referring to the Port of Sydney specifically, he said -
A number of wharves are old, dilapidated mid unsuitable for the present traffic at the port. The surfaces of some wharfs are such that restrictions have .been imposed on the use nl certain types of mechanical handling equipment over them . . . The Maritime Services Board is aware of these deficiencies ami him been ready with plans, not only for the reconstruction of old berths, but also for thi: provision of new wharves in Sydney. It h«s. so far, been able to implement only a small part of its plans.
The Maritime Services Board is the instrumentality of the New South Wales Government charged with responsibility for the maintenance and care of the Port of Sydney. From my own knowledge, not a single major work is in progress at present to improve the port facilities in Sydney, other than the building qf a bond store at Walsh Bay. No important work has been undertaken to bring the wharfs up to date or to make the port a modern one. It is notorious throughout the world that Sydney is one of the most expensive ports. Its harbour dues are high, and its other charges arc immense. What becomes of the money which the shipping industry is obliged to pay for the privilege of using the port?
It is well known that such money goes into the Consolidated Revenue of the New South Wales Government and that a miserable pittance i3 allocated for the maintenance of the port. That is the real reason why the port of Sydney is in such a deplorable state.
I suggest to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) that no real improvement will be made in the state of the port of Sydney, which is the principal port of Australia, until he is able to inculcate a sense of responsibility in the minds of Mr. Cahill and his colleagues of the New South Wales Government. Instead of demanding more and more help from the Commonwealth, they must be induced to take the proper and obvious course of spending a due proportion of the revenues of the port on port maintenance and improvement. Until tli.it is done, there will be no real improvement of the port. If one compares that state of affairs with conditions in the port of Melbourne, it will be found that in Melbourne, where a port which had to be constructed in the most difficult circumstances, very real improvement is taking place. The port of Sydney contrasts very badly indeed with the port of Melbourne.
– What would the honorable member do about it?,
– I would try to persuade the Cahill Government of New South Wales to do its duty and to spend its revenues from the port, or a reasonable portion of them, in repairing arid improving the port facilities. Until it does so, the port of Sydney will remain a notoriously bad one, and will be a drag on the commerce and the welfare of the Australian people. I suggest that the principal task of those who administer the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board is to go to the Cahill Government and endeavour to make it appreciate both the needs of the port and the fact that the satisfaction of those needs lies entirely in the hands of the New South Wales Government.
.- Development is interlocked with production, each being dependent on the other. As with the chicken and the egg, it is a matter of which comes first. Nevertheless, production must ‘ occur before development can be carried out. If increased production is desired, there must be also increased developmental work. Recently, many self-satisfied people, who are too tired .to study the problem as it should be studied, have now used the slogan, “ Produce or perish “. Slogans will carry us nowhere in the development of Australia. Slogans are all right for. people who want to “use them for certain purposes but we must attend to the essential facts. It is not possible to increase the production of farms which aire fully developed. The development of the future must depend on undeveloped land, of which Australia has vast areas. Thousands of square miles in this country are .capable qf producing everything that mankind requires. But between the developed holdings and the hack blocks of entirely undeveloped areas in the north of Queensland lies land which is only now being brought into production. I recently visited this area which was previously only cattle country and the peanut industry is making rapid progress there. That progress will enable more people to settle in this area. On one farm which had never been any more than second-class dairying land a man had started to grow vegetables, particularly potatoes. Originally, he had been a timber cutter. He made a few pounds in the timber industry and with that capital he is developing land that will be capable of wonderful production in the future although it has not previously grown any crops’. If we are to produce more we must develop land that is only partly developed or entirely undeveloped. Any Government, Labour or antiLabour, now or in the future, must pay attention to the subject of developing our partly developed and entirely undeveloped lands with the object of developing our economy.
In the Iron Range - Wenlock district of Northern Queensland a rich gold mining field is being developed. However, lack of roads which are partly a State and partly a Commonwealth responsibility is delaying the development of that area. Failure to improve the telephone service which was installed during the war is also retarding the development of this aire a because the people who work there under very arduous conditions have difficulty in securing assistance in the event of accident or sickness. “We must concentrate on developing our natural assets, whether they be metalbearing ores, or land in the undeveloped parts of the country. Vast areas of northern Australia from north Queensland to Darwin have an enormous potential value to Australia, because in those regions are minerals and agricultural land ready for development by this Government or any government that may follow it. North-west Australia is full of potentialities - blessed. word.
I agree that Australia can grow to the status of a great nation only by increased production of the goods that we need at home and that w.e can sell abroad. Production, especially of basic materials, can be increased only if the areas that are now untouched could be developed. Uranium became important only after it was shown to be a fissionable material and, consequently, a source of atomic power. Discoveries of uranium deposits in Australia have been recently announced to the Parliament. In fact, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) mentioned the matter a few weeks ago in a way that led honorable members to believe that he himself had discovered them. However, uranium now has great value both in peace and in war; The atomic power produced by the fission of uranium might ultimately prove more economic than power produced by oil or coal, and that will revolutionize our industry. The discovery of uranium in Australia has altered the whole future of the country. The production of uranium here, and its importance to the world, might increase our population and our wealth in a way tha-t no other factor could possibly do. In a short time our population may be much more than 8,000,000 people, and in fact we might become one of the important nations of the world. Apparently uranium is in Australia for the taking, and it only remains for the Government to organize its production on proper lines in order to start the process that will make Australia great.
Agricultural development of the northern part of Australia is still in its infancy. It has been reported to me that some land in the Cape York Peninsula is now growing heavy crops of peanuts that are worth £180 a ton, whereas previously it was used only to graze cattle. Tobacco is also being grown on what was previously grazing land. Maize and potatoes are being produced, and, indeed, our potato crops in north Queensland are so heavy that I believe they will shortly make the Federal Potato Advisory Committee a redundant body. Land in the area about which I have been speaking has been proved, by the efforts of one individual, to be excellent potato-growing land. I suggest that, as an. individual can take such a large share in the development of our hinterland, a government, with its vast resources, can do much more. This man developed his property himself, including the installation of a 40,000-gallon tank. He did the whole of. his developmental work, and did not borrow money from the banks. He decided that as the banks would not lend money to many people he would develop his land himself. He did that and his farm is a credit to his work and his intelligence. He has four sharefarmers working on the property, and all of them have homes and many of the amenities that help to make life pleasant. That is the way to develop land in regions that many Australians consider to be so unattractive as to repel prospective settlers.
Development, considered in the larger sense, has so many aspects that I could not hope to make more than a casual reference tq them all in the brief time that is available to me. The development and improvement of ports was mentioned by the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne). The development of railways for the exploitation of the wealth of the Northern Territory is another vital matter. The development of air services, of course, is essential in this great country in order to provide means of rapid transit across its vast spaces. We can see no limit to the opportunities for development in Australia. We have rich soils, a wonderful climate and every other requisite to national prosperity. Australians are the most fortunate people in the world. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), holds a position of which he should be proud. In that office he has the opportunity to continue the great work that was undertaken by our pioneers. We boast of the achievements of the pioneers, but too often we forget that it is our duty to continue with the task that they began. No member of this Parliament has ‘a better opportunity to continue that work than has the Minister for National Development. Sometimes in this chamber honorable members talk lightly of matters that are of vital importance to the people of Australia and also to the peoples of other countries. Nevertheless, I believe that we all have’ faith in Australia’s future and are ready and willing to help the Minister for- National Development to discharge his duties on behalf of the nation. Native-born Australians have more initiative than have any other people. That is not an empty, conceited boast. This development of initiative is the result of living a more open life and of enforced independence. Australians often have to depend upon themselves to do jobs which, in older countries, are usually done by workers acting on the instructions of bosses and foremen. The peoples of other countries work well under directions, but Australians can. be relied upon to carry on without supervision or guidance.
The DEPUTY CH AIRMAN. - Order ! The honorable member’s time has exp’ired.
.- It is most refreshing to hear from a member of the Opposition a speech such as the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr: Bruce) has made. I have devoted a great deal of my time and attention to the problems of Australia’s development. The chief contribution to discussions on this subject by members of the Opposition is the suggestion that Australia can be developed only if we take land away from men who are already producing actively and give it to others in the hope that they will produce even more efficiently. There is little evidence to indicate that this process would have the desirable result that most honorable members opposite seem to envisage. The honorable member for Leichhardt has expressed a point of view that should commend itself to every honorable member.
My principal purpose in rising to speak on these Estimates is to discuss the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Many Australians are inclined to think that the organization is a “good show”, and do not bother a great deal about its operations. Few people have any knowledge of the valuable work that it is performing on behalf of Australia. Therefore, I consider that it is incumbent on this chamber, when the Estimates are being considered, to examine closely the work of various departments and instrumentalities, and when we find that work is being done thoroughly and efficiently and to the advantage of Australia as a whole, we should pay a tribute to the department or organization concerned. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization succeeded the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which replaced the Development and Migration Commission in 1926, and has justified its existence a hundred limes. Dr. Clunies-Ross, who is the chief executive officer and chairman of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, recently made the interesting observation that, given some rainfall, there was no soil that could not be made to produce. That statement should be regarded seriously by every person who is concerned with the welfare of this country, and, indeed, of other countries.
Unfortunately, many parts of Australia, and too large an area in the aggregate, do not receive sufficient rainfall for an intensive form of agricultural or pastoral development. It is possible that some of the elements that are essential for the proper development of pastures or even the growth of agricultural or horticultural products have been leached from the soil in the process of erosion. The same deficiency may occur to an even more important degree at the present time in areas which receive a rainfall that is adequate to give a reasonable return, yet pastures and agricultural products will not grow in them. Dr. 0111nies-Ross has informed me that the trace element, molybdenum, is deficient in soils on the northern tablelands of New South Wales and Queensland and that, with the application of two or three ounces of molybdenum to the acre, it has been possible to produce a growth of legumes and clovers - soil enriching plants - in places where it has been almost impossible to grow them in the past.
Another experiment has been conducted in South Australia with spectacular results. The Australian Mutual Provident Society is developing a huge area of what used to be called the Ninetymile Desert. That land, which receives a 22-in. rainfall, was capable of producing, as far as we could tell, only mallee scrub - a stunted scrub from 3 feet to 4 feet high. Yet, with the addition of copper, which was apparently lacking in the soil, and which plants require in minute quantities, it is hoped to develop a large part of that country, so that it will carry three sheep to the acre, and grow wheat, lucerne, and clover successfully.
I have an idea that the south-western corner of Victoria, which has a heavy rainfall but has never been successfully developed, is probably deficient in some mineral, but that problem has yet to be solved. Land in the Millicent district of South Australia, and near the coast, is deficient in cobalt, the lack of which made it impossible to bring sheep to maturity or to produce satisfactory crops of wool. The addition of cobalt has solved that problem. I do not know how far this development will take us, but I think it is possible that, with good husbandry, land which at present is considered infertile may be made to produce cml punching crops such as lucernes and legumes. In that way, the fertility of large areas will be gradually increased. It is also possible that, as this extremely interesting development takes place, we shall increase the fertility of land which we believe to be fairly fertile.
However, experiments with soil improvement constitute only one part of the work of this immensely valuable organization. I am discussing only the agricultural and. pastoral aspects of it, because that is where my many contacts with the /Ifr. Brown.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization have occurred. The organization is also conducting experiments for the control of pests and fungi, which interfere with our crops. I do not desire to take up the time of the chamber unnecessarily with these matters, but I should like to pay a. tribute to the officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization who have done such valuable work for Australia, and whose achievements and experiments are not well known to the people. If support from this chamber assists and encourages them, I shall be happy to think that I am one who has paid a well-deserved tribute to them here. It is for that express purpose that I have participated in this debate, and it is encouraging to me to receive support from the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Bruce), who has pointed out that the problems of outback districts, where people have encountered difficulties in the past, must be solved if we are to develop this country as’ we hope to do.
The Commonwealth Scientific and’ Industrial Research Organization has other difficulties, and people should realize their existence. The Commonwealth and the States propose to develop substantially larger irrigation areas than has been possible in the past, in order to compensate for the lack of rainfall in many parts of the country. Irrigation has been reasonably successful up to the present time, but has not been uniformly successful, and, indeed, was not successful at all in earlier periods of our history. Years ago, some people believed that irrigation in an area with a light rainfall would immediately rid them of all their worries, and make the land fertile. Big mistakes have been made in that way. Much of the land has lost its fertility, because salt has been brought to the surface by overflooding through irrigation. Possibly, we are leaching out that element without realizing that we are thereby doing harm to the soil. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization should be entrusted with the task of making a. thorough scientific survey of developmental projects before work on. them is actually commenced. Otherwise, irrevocable damage may be done to the land. That’ is an immense task. In addition, we must have regard to the huge capital that is expended on such’ projects. The study . of trace elements in modern agriculture has yielded amazing results. I have already referred to the conversion of the Ninety-mile Desert from an arid waste to land that will be capable of carrying three sheep to the acre. I repeat that, before important irrigation projects are embarked upon, the- Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization should be given the opportunity to study this fundamental problem in relation to them in order to ensure that vital elements in the soil shall not be leached out. Because we have failed to take such precautions in the past, much of our irrigated land, to-day, is not. as effective as it should be. I again pay a tribute to the work that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has done in the interests of the nation.
for the work that he accomplished when he was Minister for Immigration. During the last three years, the present Government systematically increased the intake of immigrants to 150,000 per annum. I support wholeheartedly the principle of immigration. Indeed, any government that would deny entry to this country to immigrants would ‘sound the death-knell of this nation. However, the Government has incurred censure in this matter. During the last general election campaign, its supporters not only promised to continue immigration on a large scale but also undertook to provide adequate housing accommodation for immigrants, and, at the same tune, to meet the housing needs of Australians. But what has the Gotvernment done in this respect? A few days ago, in reply to a question that I asked, the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration stated that during the last three years the Government had imported only 12,400 prefabricated houses. I shall place some significant figures before the committee. Whereas in 1949, 41,000 persons were enrolled for the electorate of West Sydney, to-day only 36,500 names appear on the electoral role for that constituency. At the same time, statistics show that 42,000 persons now reside in that area. The point I make is that of that number, approximately 4,000 are immigrants. Owing to the fact that the Government has failed to find work for them in rural areas, they have drifted to the cities where they are competing with Australians, not only for work such as is offering on the wharfs, but also for the available housing accommodation. The result is that in the suburb of Woolloomooloo, for instance, it is not unusual to find from ten to fifteen persons occupying a small dwelling. That statement will be confirmed by the officials of the Health Department of the Sydney City Council who have declared that they have no chance of enforcing the city’s health regulations under the housing conditions that exist in that area. Thousands of pensioners, who are obliged to subsist on a pension of £3 7s. 6d. a week, have been edged out of rooms for which they previously .paid a low rent. To-day, no person can obtain a room in West Sydney at a rent below 25s. a week. I admit that the Government has halved the intake of immigrants and will not receive more than 80,000 immigrants during the current year. However, in view of the shortage of housing accommodation that number is still too high. In such circumstances, one can look forward to the future only with trepidation. I take the following quotation from a report that appears in to-day’s Canberra Times: -
No more Housing Commission homes may be built before the end of the year, the N.S.W. Housing Minister, Mr. Olive Evatt, said in the Legislative Assembly to-day.
Mr. Evatt said the Commission had not signed a new housing contract for more than seven months.
Mr. Evatt said that the Commonwealth Government had illegally refused to honour its obligations to State housing.
Unfortunately, supporters of this Government try to condone existing conditions merely by saying that the Government has made available to the New South Wales Government an additional £2,000,000 for housing during the current financial year. One must deplore such an attitude. If war broke out, all governments would unite in the defence of this country, and honorable members would not be content merely to compare the contribution that this or that government made to the war effort. The Government has decided to return to the States the power to levy income tax. No doubt, it has come to that decision so that during the next general election campaign its supporters will be able to claim that State governments arc responsible foi’ the continuance of shortages. The Government’s treatment of pensioners is characteristic of its attitude towards the matters that I have already mentioned. I point out that 108 aged people are inmates of a home at 167 Albert-road, Strathfield, which is controlled by a Miss Cullens and employs a staff of thirteen persons. The wages of those employees is subject to pay-roll tax. Surely, the Government must realize that, in the last resort, that tax is being paid not by those who control that home but by the inmates of the institution. I urge the Government to waive pay-roll tax in respect of wages of employees of institutions of that kind, of which many exist in our capital cities. More than 250 aged people are cared for at a home that is conducted by the Little Sisters of the Poor at Randwick, and more than 100 aged people are cared for at a home that is conducted by the Salvation Army at Petersham, in Sydney. If the Commonwealth is unable to provide individual homes for our aged people, surely it should be “ big “ enough to provide financial assistance to the charitable organizations that are succouring them. The present Government has made conditions much worse for the aged members of the Community. Business people whose income has been affected as a result of the Government’s policy of restriction of inports, will be able ultimately to recoup their loss, but the plight of the old people has been totally ignored by the present Government. Thousands of waterside workers are being paid 16s. a day as appearance money, because work is not available for them. This is in line with what happened in 1930, when thousands of men who were living in Happy Valley were put to work shovelling sand because the Stevens Government, which was in power in New South Wales, would not provide money for the construction of houses and roads. To-day, hundreds of people are walking the streets of Sydney looking for work. A report, appeared in this morning’s press to the effect that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt) had signed an agreement for many thousands of European, people to bo brought to this country. I do not want it to be understood that 1. am opposed to the principle of immigration, but the Government should take adequate steps to provide employment for the people who are already in this country. I. am convinced that many of the 7,000 people in the division of West Sydney that I represent, who voted for the Liberal candidate at the last general election, would vote for Labour if another election were to be held to-morrow. Many of them have brought their problems to me, and when T. have asked them how they voted at the last general election they have said. “ Forgive us for that. Never again will we vote for a Liberal candidate “. On election day my Liberal opponent, Mr. Mottershead, told me that he would not again stand for election in West Sydney, because he could see how unpopular were the anti-Labour parties in that division.
I have referred to the waterside workers. Clerical employees who are associated, with waterfront employment, are in an even worse position than are the waterside workers themselves, because they do not receive attendance money. If they do not appear on twenty consecutive days in a month they are struck off the books,- and lose their jobs. It is futile for Government members to suggest that they could look for other mnployment Although the Minister for Defence (Mr. McBride) stated recently that 31,000 vacancies were registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service, I do not know of one vacant job. For many weeks past there has been nothing doing. Just before I left Sydney on Monday to come to Canberra, the secretary of the Furnishing Trades Union told me that more than 100 men had been dismissed by furniture manufacturers in New South Wales. Tn hist Saturday’s Sydney Morning ’ Sural d there was a photograph of 600 men who had been dismissed from work on the Eastern Suburbs railway in Sydney. I’l thi; same newspaper it was reported that six brickyards had closed down. I suppose we will soon hear that governmentowned brickyards have closed. In 1930, the New South Wales State brickworks and other government instrumentallities that had. been established to assist thu people to build homes, were sold. Per.haps it is just as well that the clock has not been replaced in the tower of the General Post Office in Sydney, as this Government would probably, decide to sell it.
– Practically everything that the honorable member has mentioned comes within the jurisdiction of the State Government.
– The New South Wales Government has been almost entirely dependent on the money that the Commonwealth has seen fit to allocate to it for housing. In any case, the clock that I mentioned belongs to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. The Government has blundered over immigration. It should take steps to ensure that all immigrants to this country are housed, fed, and provided with employment.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - ‘Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I shall address myself to the problem of development. I hope we shall never reach a state of mind where we imagine that national development is merely a matter of undertaking great public works. Most of the real development of this country has been undertaken by private enterprise.
– Which has made hig profits.
– It has been entitled to make profit. This country owes a debt of gratitude not. only to big companies such as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, and the Australasian Paper and Pulp Company Limited, but also to the many small businesses that have been conducted by private enterprise for profit. Furthermore, the great retail stores and the banks that are frequently criticized by honorable members opposite have played a major part in the devolopment of Australia. The great sheep industry on which we depend so much is still carried on by private enterprise, and the agricultural industries of this country are carried out by men who are engaged in private enterprise. It is by their efforts that a great deal of the development of this country proceeds.
Development is a continuing process. It does not follow, because I have spoken of the development that has taken place, that these agencies and these people have ceased to develop their businesses and the country. Development is still going on. It is not confined to the opening up of new areas of country, although that is of course a very great part of national development. A great deal of development is going on continuously in settled districts and in the cities, and in connexion with established industries. Any government, however, must play a very considerable and responsible part in national development. That brings me to a statement that was made yesterday by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds). I am sorry that he is not in the chamber at present. The honorable member said that we do not hear Queensland supporters of the Government refer favorably to the Burdekin Valley development scheme in Queensland. There is a very good reason and it is that honorable members on this side of the chamber base their remarks on realism and a sense of responsibility. It is easy to make it appear that the Burdekin scheme is a wonderful project which would produce great wealth for Queensland and for Australia generally, but it is very doubtful whether that is so. The economics of the scheme requires a great deal of investigation. The responsible investigation that ‘has been conducted does not support the view that, if millions of pounds were poured into the scheme, the country would receive a. commensurate return - in fact, quite the opposite.
Let me deal with some aspects of the scheme. . In brief, it is suggested that the Burdekin river should he dammed in order, first, to prevent or control floods; secondly, to provide power; and thirdly, to irrigate land for the production of certain crops and to make dairying and cattle-raising possible. The investigations conducted, at the instigation of this Government indicate that, in large measure, those requirements would not be satisfied. As far as prevention of floods is concerned if: is probable that this danger would not be mitigated to any considerable degree. If it is designed to produce power, there is yet no great demand for that power, and it is extremely doubtful whether it could be produced economically. Let me deal briefly with the major activities which, it is suggested, could be conducted on the irrigated land. They fall into four categories - sugar-growing, tobacco-growing, beef production and dairying. It is proposed that, by the development of this scheme, about 600,000 rous of sugar a year be added to the Queensland sugar crop. There is no certainty that it would be possible to dispose of that sugar; indeed there are good reasons for believing that it would not be possible to do so. The scheme on visages, not only the production of an additional 600,000 tons of sugar ‘a year but it would require also the construction of three sugar mills, but the scheme, as presented does not provide for dealing with the extra production. Tobacco may bc in a. more favorable position than sugar. With regard to dairying, experience in every part of the world has proved that dairying in the tropics on irrigated land is not a sound commercial proposition. Lastly, it is extremely unlikely that the production of beef on highly expensive irrigated land would be an economic proposition.
This Government has not rejected the scheme out of hand- It has informed the Queensland Government that, until a complete investigation has been made and until the scheme has been placed on a sound economic basis, the Government’s duty is to refuse to proceed with it. I remind the committee that not only has this Government entered into no commitments in relation to the scheme, but also the Chifley Government made no firm agreement with, the Queensland Government to prosecute it. There are a number of other schemes in Queensland, which, if proceeded with, would return a much greater immediate profit to Queensland and the nation than would the Burdekin scheme, which is raised from time to time in this chamber purely for propaganda purposes.
I want to say something about what this Government has done in the field of national development. In the last two years, it has supported the loan market to a large degree on behalf of the State governments. Let me cite some figures that have particular reference to Queensland. In the last year of office of the Chifley Government, Queensland received approximately £7,800,000 from the Loan Council. In the next year, which was the first year of office of this Government, it received about £17,000,000, and last vear it received about £22,500,000. “ This year, it will get about #’20,000,000. That Queensland received £22,500,000 last year and will receive about £20,000,000 this year is due directly to the actions of this Government, which, last year, raised a gigantic sum of between £1’“3,000,000 and £160,000,000 to support loans raised on behalf of the States and, this year, has guaranteed to the States a sum of £135,000,000. I point out to the members of the Opposition, who have made great play upon unemployment, that, had it not been for the action of this Government in supporting State loans to that degree, unemployment in Australia would be at a very high level now, because the States would be unable fo carry on with their public works. The States have this Government to thank for the .fact that they are able to keep their public works going and maintain employment at its present high level. When talking about public finance, it is, however, quite unrealistic to say that whatever is physically possible is also financially possible. Thinking people realize that statements of that kind have no substance and no real meaning. The resources of a country are not limitless, but such resources as are available in this country have been made available by this Government to the States on a stale far exceeding that on which they were made available by any other government.
.- I shall relate my remarks to the Estimates for the Department of Immigration and the Department of National Development. National development and immigration cannot be separated, because we are bringing immigrants here to assist us to develop this country as well as to defend it. I believe that British immigrants are getting a very raw deal in Australia. So also are the new Australians - the displaced persons who were formerly the responsibility of the United Nations. We agreed to accept a certain proportion of those displaced persons, and we have done so. I visited Germany and other parts of Europe during 1945 and ,1946 and saw their suffering there. I have also seen their sufferings in this country, which are mainly due to the fact that they arc accommodated in old military camps and that families are broken up. In some instances husbands are sent from Greta camp to work in Queensland, and are forced to leave their families behind. The separation of husbands and wives for long periods in a strange country leads to all kinds of trouble. Cases which have been tried in the courts in Newcastle concerned incidents that arose directly from the fact that husbands and wives had been separated for long periods and one party had either been unfaithful to the other or had suspected such infidelity. In one case which was heard by a court in Newcastle the charge was attempted murder. A husband who had been working in Queensland, and had left his family in the immigrant camp, returned and saw a. man leaving the hutment that the husband had formerly occupied with his wife and family. The husband attacked a man and a woman coming from the hut, in the belief that he was .attacking his’ own wife and her lover, but it was another woman, who had been in the hut with a man, whom he stabbed. He also attacked the man in the case. As the result of his mistake that immigrant is now serving a five years’ gaol sentence. Judge Neild, who heard the case, stated that the Government should make some attempt to keep immigrant families together instead of separating husbands and wives as it now does. 1 admit that the system under which immigrant husbands are sent away to work in distant places, and are forced to leave their families behind, was not inaugurated by this Government. The system was pui into operation by the Labour Government, which I criticized on that account while if was in office.
Another cause of discontent among immigrants is their inability to obtain the kinds of food to which they were used in their native lands. For instance, the average consumption a head of rye bread in Europe is greater than the average consumption n. head of white . bread in Australia. Immigrants who come to Australia experience difficulty in obtaining rye bread for themselves. The reason is that the export price of rye is 27s. 6d. a bushel compared with the export price of 10s. a bushel for wheat. Producers of rye export as much of their product as they possibly can in order to obtain the high export price. I have received repre- ‘sentations from bakers regarding the difficulty they encounter in supplying immigrants with rye bread. Some bakers have stated that they are prepared to pay 23s. a bushel for rye in order to be able to meet the demand among new Australians for rye bread, but they are still unable to obtain enough of the necessary rye flour. Apparently grain producers do not appreciate the greatly increased demand for rye flour that has arisen as a. result of the immigration of many Europeans. Rye can be grown in ground nf poor quality, and on that score alone would be a profitable crop for a farmer to grow. Another advantage to the farmer would be that the return from a bushel of rye is greater than the return from a bushel of wheat. One baker who communicated with me regarding the shortage of rye flour has told me that his average weekly output of rye bread is 7,000 2-1 b. loaves, the manufacture of which requires ?> tons of rye flour, to make which 170 bushels of rye corn is necessary. He states that lie requires 3,000 bushels of rye corn to last him until the new season commences. He points out that rye bread is consumed by many new Australians and, also, on medical advice, by many Australians. I was in ill health four years ago and had to eat rye bread on doctor’s orders. The baker states that he has had repeated ‘ inquiries for rye bread from men who work on the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric project,” but owing to the short supply of rye flour, he is unable to meet the demand. He states that a recent order of 350 bags of rye corn, which was due io arrive from South Australia was condemned because the grain was wet and mouldy. He added that the position is now very acute and that the causes of the shortage are the high export price that is obtained for rye and the small acreage sown to rye. He also said that the. new rye season starts in November and that reliable information had been obtained that hundreds of bushels of rye corn were being held in Victoria for the purposes of exploiting a black market: abroad. It is tragic that exporters should be allowed to send our rye overseas, where it will lie sold on the European black market, while people in Australia, are deprived of the food they require. Is that the way in which to promote happiness among i in migrants? Does it not encourage the exploiter in private enterprise?
I turn now to British immigrants, who are also undoubtedly suffering in this country. I have raised this matter before by means of questions to Ministers. The Minister representing the Minister for Immigration has consented to visit Cessnock next Saturday to meet a deputa-tion on the subject of the rentals that British immigrants have to pay for their accommodation in Nissen huts. Mr Samuel Home, an estate agent, has informed me that the highest rental that he charges for good houses is £1 17s. 6d. a week, yet British immigrants are charged from £2 10s. to £3 6s. a week rental for sparsely furnished Nissen huts which let in the rain. That policy is wrong. We should discontinue the immigration programme until Ave are certain that immigrants will not only be housed properly, but will also be able to obtain proper employment in this country. I welcome the arrival of more people in Australia. I have always been a supporter of an immigration programme because if we do not populate this country then, I fear, we shall lose it. We must encourageimmigration in every way possible, but we must also ensure that work will be available for the immigrants when they get here. Recently, there was considerable discontent amongst Italians at the Bonegilla immigrant camp because work had not been provided for them. Despite the industrial recession that we are now experiencing, immigrants are still being brought to this country in large numbers, and the old Australians resent preference being given to the newcomers in employment and in the provision of housing. Owing to the shortage of money, the housing problem, amongst our own people is still acute. The Government is to be condemned for continuing to bring large numbers of immigrants to Australia when housing cannot he supplied for our own people.
Reference has been made to the use of Nissen huts. Most: Commonwealth properties to-day are subject to rent control, and I see no reason why rentals for the Nissen huts also should not be fixed. T saw these huts in Great Britain and France where they were used to house troops. They were also used in coalmining areas in Great Britain to house workers known as the “ Bevin boys “. They were young menwho were conscripted for work in the coal mines during the war. Most young men preferred war service to coal-mining, with the result, that, there was a scarcity of labour in the coal-mining industry, and workers had to be conscripted for this purpose.’ The Nissen huts may have been quite adequate, as emergency accommodation for troops and single men working in the coal mines, but it is tragic that they should be brought here to house people in this country.
The’ TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Mcleay).- Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I, too, wish to deal with the problem of immigration, and I begin by reminding honorable members that this is- essentially a n on -party matter. The present immigration scheme was inaugurated by the Chifley Government, and has been carried on in almost its original form since Labour was defeated. Every member of this chamber will agree, I am sure, that 1 lie. population of this country must be increased, and that it cannot be increased quickly enough by natural growth. It is essential, therefore, if we are to play our part in world affairs, that we should seek immigrants. Humanitarian considerations alone demand that we should take our share of displaced persons. By accepting that obligation we are carrying out our duty to the people of the world. In addition, the ever-increasing demand for food calls upon us to play our part in feeding the teeming millions of the world, and to do that we must expand our population as rapidly as possible.
The immigration scheme has now been in operation for five years, and we are in a position to assess its success. There will be general agreement, I believe, that it has been successful. Nevertheless, many weaknesses of the original plan are now becoming apparent. Those weaknesses are largely on the human side. The best test- of the success or failure of any immigration policy is whether that policy is providing contented and happy citizens. Unfortunately, many of our immigrants are not happy and contented citizens. That is why I believe that there should be a drastic alteration of the emphasis on the kind of immigrants that we are bringing to Australia, and of the terms and conditions under which they are being brought here. The Labour Government’s original immigration plan embodied certain principles. The first of those was that our population should remain essentially British. The second was that we should play our part in absorbing our share of displaced’ persons, and the third was that we should maintain a balanced working force in this country. In accordance with those principles, it was decided to bring to Australia immigrants in four categories. These were unassisted British immigrants, assisted British immigrants, unassisted European or non-British immigrants, and assisted non-British immigrants. The un. assisted immigrants, both British and non-British, who have come to Australia on their own initiative, with their own capital, and have found their own housing and their own jobs, have played a most important part in our immigration scheme, and I think that that side of the scheme has been highly successful. Those immigrants, British and Euro.pean alike, have been assimilated into the community. Before they left their own countries they appreciated the great opportunities that Australia offered, and they arrived here, as did our early pioneers, determined to establish themselves in. this new land and to find their own jobs and their own houses. Probably slightly more than half of our immigrants hu ve come here unassisted, either from Great Britain or from other countries. Has the assisted immigration scheme been a success? It has certainly been very costly. I think that the appropriation this year for assisted immigrants is £’7,000,000; but it would have been well worth the cost if we were gaining happy and contented citizens. Unfortunately, wherever we look, we find, trouble amongst assisted immigrants. One source of this trouble was mentioned by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), who emphasized the necessity to keep .family Units together. Under the assisted immigration scheme, owing to the particular circumstances of Australia and the shortages of homes, it has been impossible to house immigrants other than in hostels. In many instances the provision of hostel accommodation involves the separation of families. We shall never succeed in making new arrivals happy and contented Australian citizens if we house them under conditions that involve the separation of families. Those families which have been fortunate enough to be housed together in hostels are forced to lead a life that is entirely foreign to that to which they have been accustomed. Last night, the ‘honorablemember for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) reminded us that an Englishman’s home is his castle. No English immigrant can be at home in a hostel where hundreds of immigrants - young children, older children, men and women - all eat together, in a. community dining hall, meals which, of their very nature, must become monotonous and which are not cooked to their liking. Individual tastes in cooking widely vary. Some like their eggs lightly boiled ; others like them hard -boiled. Individual tastes cannot be provided for in community settlements of this kind. 1 say, with no inhibitions of any kind, that it would be better to scrap the assisted immigration scheme altogether than to continue the present system under which assisted immigrants are housed in hostels.
– Hostels are merely clearing houses.
– An immigrant who lives in a hostel, after paying board for himself, his wife and perhaps three children, has only £2 12s. a week left out of his earnings with which to clothe’ himself and his family, pay the kiddies’ school fees and meet all other incidental expenses. In those circumstances how can he save sufficient money with which to purchase a block of land and build a house or finance the purchase of an existing dwelling? That state of affairs constitutes one of the great problems that arise in connexion with our immigration scheme. Immediate steps should he taken to correct the weaknesses that have been made manifest in the immigration scheme initiated by the Labour Government. The first problem of those who are forced to live in immigrant hostels could be solved by . constructing kitchenettes at all hostels and allowing the residents to do their own cooking. I support the remarks of the honorable member for Port Adelaide in regard to that aspect of the problem. Both he and I have immigrant hostels in our electorates. The honorable member is sincerely trying to find a. solution of this problem. I regret that I cannot make a similar comment about the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) who would be much better employed if he looked after the people in his own electorate and kept away from the electorates of Port Adelaide and Sturt where he is causing trouble and discontent by stirring up the residents of immigrant hostels who already have enough troubles of their own. The honorable member offers them nothing and endeavours to engender a strike complex amongst them. The immigrants at the Gepp’s Cross hostel have offered to construct kitchenettes during their spare time at weekends if the Department of Immigration will supply the requisite materials, equipin cut and fittings. If kitchenettes cannot be provided at that centre, I suggest that the Smithfield hostel, which is now closed, could readily be converted into emergency home= for those who wish to get away from hostel life. British immigrants should have the right to elect whether they shall continue to remain as boarders at, the Gepp’s Cross hostel or transfer to Smithfield and look after themselves. 1 know the decision they would reach.
The immigration scheme was evolved principally for the purpose of increasing our population by bringing in hundreds of thousands of people from the other side of the world who would become happy and contented Australians. At present there are pockets of immigrants «oe thing with discontent because the future appears to hold nothing for them. The original scheme was badly arranged. Hostels should not have been provided for the housing of assisted immigrants. I do not blame the previous Government for having adopted the system, nor do T blame the present Government, for having continued it. Each did the best it could do in the circumstances. Insufficient houses were available to accommodate the newcomers and the hostel system was adopted as the only alternative.
– What does the honorable member suggest as a solution of the problem ?
– British immigrants should be given homes of their own, either by the conversion of hostels into emergency homes or by other means. If they were accommodated in dwellings instead of hostels most of them would be able to save sufficient money to buy land and build their own houses. Nearly all of them are tradesmen. I hate to hear criticism of them. They are grand people who are eager to become good Australian citizens, and they will attain that objective if they are helped in the manner T have suggested. So long as they are herded together in socialistic, communistic community dwellings, they will never he happy. . Those who have emigrated from British and European countries want to he given an opportunity to live the life to which they have been accustomed. They want dwellings of their own, however small they may be, and if they continue to be herded together, as they are to-day, the in i migration scheme can never be successful.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. LUCHETTI (Macquarie) [4.43’J.- The consideration of the proposed votes for the Department of National Development should provide an opportunity for one of the most interesting and exciting debates in which it is possible for members of the Committee of Supply to engage. Unfortunately, under the present Administration there is no national development and no national progress. Since this Government has been in office, industries, both primary and secondary, have been liquidated and have finally disappeared. Let us recall what has happened in those industries which this Government has the responsibility to succour, advance and develop. I refer to government enterprises. Their fate is _ known to honorable members on the Government side of the chamber all of whom aire pledged to a policy of destruction. They know only too well that the policy which they have applied is destroying the very life-blood of Australia. In my own electorate I have had the unhappy experience of seeing an essential industry, the existence of which is vitally necessary to our security - the shale oil industry - wantonly destroyed because the Government was either incompetent to look after it or was more eager to advance the interests of its wealthy financial supporters, the major oil companies. This Government is liquidating industry. Tt proposes to sell its assets in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited and in the shipping industry. Its sale of ships of the Commonwealth shipping line will strike ii fell bl.ow at the development of Australia and the decision to sell them is deplorable for that reason if for no other. If Australia had ,a government that was seized with ‘ the importance of the development of the nation so that it would be strong in peace and war, this discussion of the Estimates would be of vital concern to the whole nation. But under the administration of this Government, enterprise has been destroyed and initiative has been killed. That applies to private industry as well as to government undertakings. Private enterprise has been forced out of business by financial controls or taxed out of existence by the Government’s policies. The building industry is an example. One timber mill after another has been closed because of the Government’s financial policy. One brickyard after another is becoming idle. Building material is piling up in great heaps. People still require homes, yet honorable members have been treated to such sophistry as that of the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson), who has told the committee that homes are required for immigrants so that they may be made happy. Are not homes required also for Australians? I have knowledge of shameful conditions in which Australians have lived since their earliest days. Many of them have had their names on housing lists for years. When they appeared at last to have a chance to get a home as the housing programmes of the States caught up with the demand, this Government, by a policy of .credit restriction coupled with a severe taxation and, more recently, a high interest rate policy, dashed the hopes of those people. These unassailable truths must evoke some reaction.
Government supporters interjecting,
– The presentation of the facts has drawn interjections from honorable members on the Government side. They have, continued to live in the past. Whenever a subject such as that before the committee is discussed, honorable members who support the Government rarely address themselves to the matters that are under discussion. They talk of the past. They attack Labour members of previous parliaments. They are afraid to face the present or the future because they lack a political future themselves. They whistle to keep up their courage and they interject in the mistaken belief that that will help them to retain the precarious grip that they have on their electorates.
Immigration is a matter of vital concern to the nation. A sane and sound immigration plan is essential to national development, but this Government has no consistent immigration policy. Originally it adopted the immigration policy of a previous Labour government but advanced its objectives. Then, after bringing to Australia thousands more people and taking the total number admitted from 80,000 to 160,000 a year, it changed its policy overnight. Instead of bringing families to Australia, it brought individual workmen so that they would be absorbed directly into industry. However, the Government did not alter its plan for the construction of hostels. Although Australians could not be housed, the construction of buildings for immigrants was continued apace. They included hostels and hutments although many already finished were not being occupied. The Government lacks policy, purpose and consistency. As to consistency, I direct the attention of the committee to the policy speech that was made on behalf of the Government parties by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden). They declared that over five years, no less than £250,000,000 would be raised for national development. The interest and sinking fund were to bc provided by the petrol tax. Is not that laughable to the man on the land ? This Government, which only talks about Development, promised to expend £250,000,000 on development when it sought the people’s votes on the hustings. What developmental plan has it? It has no project beyond the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. That scheme was initiated by a Labour government, which advanced it vigorously. It has been kept functioning only at the insistence of overseas financiers in the form of the International Bank. A thousand and one other projects could be undertaken but the Government has failed to take any action to develop the country, instead, it has liquidated Australian industry.
Local government bodies have been blighted by the Government’s financial policy. On a previous occasion I reminded honorable members of the problems of the Central Tablelands County Council. That body had water available for residents of the district who needed water badly. It had the pipes that were required for the project but had not paid for them. All that it needed was finance to pay for the pipes and the labour to connect the water to the homes of the people, but finance could not be found. The same story applies throughout Australia. It all forms a part of a definite pattern of behaviour that has been adopted by this Government in accordance with its policy of disemployment. It is more concerned with throwing people out of work than with the development of the nation. I should like to have had more time to discuss this matter because it has many sides. The coal insutry provides one important aspect of it. On every side, the failure of the Government to come to grips with the problem is evident. When important national matters are discussed, honorable members on the Government side invariably echo the parrot-cry of the Treasurer and say that the matter under discussion is one for the Stall’s. If all these matters are the concern of the States and not of the National Parliament, what is the purpose in having a Department of National Development? I direct the attention of the committee to the case of the Ulan coalfield, 110 miles north of Lithgow and 2o miles north-west of Mudgee. In that district there exists a vast area of coal of high quality, but the Australian Government decided to discontinue prospecting there and to take no action for the development of the district. I have a report on the coal-field which states -
Willi in thi; Ulau scam, a probable mineable thickness of 13 feet to 18 feet coal with bands excluded has an average ash content of approximately 13 per cent, and an average calorific value “of about 12,000 B.Th.TJ.
Those deposits are tremendously valuable, but the Government will not act in regard to them. Those who wish to export coal have been discouraged and frustrated. Wherever development has been attempted, whether in primary or secondary industries, the Government has remained unhelpful and unco-operative.
The Government decided some time ago to sell mining equipment owned by the Joint Coal Board* and its decision was confirmed by a vote in this chamber. The equipment was sold to a few very personal friends of those in high places. Among the interests that participated in the distribution of the equipment was the Parkinson Strip Mining Company. When 1” inquired about this company I learned that it is not only a contractor for the Joint. Coal Board, but also a consultant to the board. It is an English company, as is George Wimpey and Company, which was also favorably treated.
– What is wrong with their being English?
– Nothing is wrong, except that, in the purchase of equipment they were given opportunities that other interests, which had rendered great service to the coal-mining industry, did not enjoy. The Parkinson Strip Mining Company, as contractor and consultant to the Joint Coal’ Board, was able to put a concrete road through the centre of its vast open-cut field, although the main road of the district had only a dirt surface. The company advised the board on various projects to the company’s own advantage. Let us compare the way in which it was treated with the treatment meted out to small operators. This Government professes to be the champion of private enterprise. Well, three young Lithgow men tried to obtain permission from -the Joint Coal Board to operate a coal mine from which they proposed to deliver coal to their clients at £1 a ton less than the ruling price. The coal would have been carried by road, so that no extra demand would he made on the over-taxed railways. For twelve months they have been trying to get permission from the board, but they have been consistently unsuccessful.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– It is necessary for me to answer the assertions of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti). Indeed, it is essential in any properly conducted debate on the Estimates to answer the critical assertions of honorable members.
– Then the Government, should not apply the “ guillotine “. The Minister has already spoken on this section of the Estimates.
M.i: BEALE. - The honorable member should not talk so much. The honorable member for Macquarie is the arch exponent of the practice of getting up. and making loud assertions, which he hopes will pass for facts. Most of the assertions which he has just made are not facts at all. For instance, when discussing immigration, he said that this Government had at first doubled the intake of immigrants, and then halved it. That was a wild, reckless, and extravagant assertion. The fact is that in 1949-50, for which year the Labour Government had framed the immigration policy, about 140,000 immigrants entered Australia. For the year 1951-52, under the present Government, the greatest number that it ever proposed to bring here was about 150,000, with a somewhat greater emphasis upon British immigrants. The honorable member’s statement was demonstrably false, yet it has been broadcast over the air, and will be published in the newspapers, merely because the honorable member made it in a loud and confident voice.
The honorable member also made some assertions about coal production, and I gathered that he was referring slightingly to the present Government’s efforts in that direction. The Joint Coal Board represents the Government of New South Wales as well as the Australian Government, and was set up under legislation passed by the Chifley Government. The board is not the invention of this wicked capitalist Government. For good or ill, it was the invention of the Chifley Government.
– And a good one, too.
– I believe that it has done a considerable amount of good. At any rate, the board, aided by the drive and push of this Government, has achieved a record production of coal for the year. Honorable members opposite cannot laugh that off. They do not like to be reminded of that fact, because it cuts across all their favorite arguments. A record quantity of coal has been mined, and for the first time in many years there is coal at grass - about 1,000,000 tons of it. Partly because of that, perhaps, there have been fewer stoppages in the mines recently than for a long time past, but most of the credit for that state of affairs must, I believe, go to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), who is now Overseas, because of his sympathetic and temperate handling of industrial matters.
– The Minister will admit that a lot of the coal being produced is no good.
– I admit that much of it is not gas coal, but more gas coal is now being produced than ever before. The honorable member for Macquarie spoke of exporting coal. As a matter of fact, we are beginning to reach out for some of the export trade that was lost years ago, and if that does not spell a measure of success 1. do not know what does. The honorable member spoke of the sale of mining machinery to the favoured friends of the Government. The honorable member has merely voiced some reckless, ex parte statements, and no one can say whether they are true or false until they have been investigated. He was careful not to bring his complaints to the responsible Minister for examination and checking. He also said that a small company wa3 left out in the cold when the machinery was sold. I remind him that the proposal to sell the machinery was debated in the Parliament on a motion by the honorable member himself, and his opponents on this side of the chamber wiped the floor with him. I am reminded of a book called A Sort of Traitors, by Nigel Balchin, in which there is portrayed a. fictitious figure in English politics, the Lord President of the Council. In the course of conversation with a scientist -he is made to express regret that he is no longer in Opposition. He explains that he wishes to be in Opposition again, because in Opposition one does not have to be responsible. One can get up and make grand statements. “With a great, Mashing, moving phrase, it is possible to solve all the problems of the world.
– The honorable gentleman did so himself when he was in Opposition.
– That may he true. When I was a member of the Opposition r had a magnificent time, and it is because I had such a good time then that I know what the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) is up to now. The whole point of my remarks is that whatever the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Joshua) or the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), whom I respect very highly, may or may not say, they have no particular sense of responsibility in this matter. They are in Opposition and they make wild statements which they expect the public to believe merely because they have made them.
– I wish to discuss items in the proposed vote for the Department of National Development. I have in my hand a brochure, issued to all honorable members in November. 1950, which sets out the major projects which the Department of National Development proposed to undertake. Those projects included the development of power and fuel resources, transport, water conservation, land settlement, and forestry. It should be remembered that the successful conduct of those projects depends upon the amount of money available. When the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) delivered the joint Opposition policy speech in 1949, in speaking of the development of our national resources, he stated -
We remain warm advocates of a Ministry of Development so as to concentrate effort upon the expansion of our productive resources. The basic evil of socialism is that it takes production for granted and devotes its greatest efforts to re-distribution of the product by heavy taxation and large expenditure by the Treasury.
Honorable members will recall that a :hort while ago the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) invited a member of the Opposition to “laugh that off”. In my opinion the statement of the Prime Minister about heavy taxation will also take a little laughing off. The right honorable gentleman continued -
This want of a balanced view is very serious. Our population and needs are growing. Only a truly expanding economy can preserve the value of savings and give us real security for thu future. We shall stimulate development of all basic industries, primary and secondary. We shall pay much-needed attention to more remote and undeveloped areas such as nort i Queensland, the Northern Territory, and northwest Australia. We shall actively aid oil search.
The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) spilt the beans in relation to the development of our oil resources. There is no doubt that this Government intends to abandon those resources altogether. In the course of the speech to which I have referred, the Prime Minister said that, if elected to office, his Government would raise loans totalling £250,000,000 over a period of five years. Since this Government came to power it has not raised the first £1 of that sum. Indeed, it has not raised the essential loans that are required, year by year, in order to carry out normal developmental works throughout the Commonwealth. The history of its failure to negotiate loans successfully it well known. Last year it required £225,000,000 from the loan market and was able to raise only £75,000,000. That is a sorry picture when it is contrasted with the achievements of the Chifley Government and the Curtin Government. Loans floated by those governments were over-subscribed on every occasion. If they asked for £100,000,000 they received £110,000,000. The failure of the Government to raise the money necessary for the development of the nation is due to the fact that there has been a great loss of public confidence in it. Although the Prime Minister has made a great many promises, every one of them has been dishonoured.
As a re’sult of the restricted allocation of loan funds, the New South “Wales Public Works Department has been compelled to close down work on eight important projects and seriously to curtail operations on seven others, equally important. In consequence, the department has been obliged to dismiss 650 day-labour employees. Yet the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Townley) had the audacity to say yesterday that applications for unemployment relief have decreased by approximately 600 during the last week.
Public works which have closed down in New South Wales include Port Kembla harbour improvements, Coffs Harbour improvements, Cook’s River improvements, the Clarence River harbour scheme, the Hunter River and foreshore works, Moruya River improve ments and. the Fish River dam. Order.* for new dredging plant have been cancelled. Works which have been drastically curtailed, include four terminal grain silos, country abattoirs, Murray River works, Newcastle Harbour improvements, south-west tablelands water supply scheme, .road approaches to Circular Quay, and overhead roadway, State hospitals, asylums and public buildings generally. Practically the whole of the vote for the Department of Public Works, £3,594,000, has been absorbed by contractual obligations, only £4,000 being left for other purposes. The result is that the New South Wales Department of Public Works has had no alternative but to dismiss day-labour employees. The amount of money allocated to that department this year was £1,250,000 les*, than the amount required to continue its developmental programme. The only works that have not been affected by the reduced allocation of finance are water supply and. sewerage works for shire and municipal councils, which are covered by agreements with such councils.
Correspondingly reduced allocations have been made in respect of other constructing departments, particularly the Departments of Education, Lands, Tra.iiiport and Mines. The New South Wales Hospitals Commission was also affected. The subject of water conservation is dealt with in a report by the New South Wales Minister for Conservation, to which I shall refer. In 1951-52, allocations from loan funds for the New South Wales Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission amounted to £3,850,000. The Forestry Commission received £750,000, the Soil Conservation Service £300,000, and miscellaneous ‘ services £15,000, making a total of £4,915,000. For the current financial year, the allocation has been reduced by £657,000 to £4,243,000, plus an amount of £7.000 for incidental expenses. In allocating those sums, it was necessary for the Minister for Conservation to bear in mind the desire of the New South Wales Government to give to food production the highest possible priority. He also took into account the fact that the Forestry Commission had available to it other sources of revenue, such as royalties, which had been recently increased. A part of the Minister’sreport reads as follows: -
Accordingly,I felt constrained to apply the £657,000 reduction mainly to the Forestry Commission Funds, with a small reduction also for the Soil Conservation Service. This has resulted in the following allocations: -
Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission, £3,850,000 - same as last year.
Soil Conservation Service, £250,000 - £50.000 less than last year.
Forestry Commission, £.1 43,000- £107,000 less than last year.
So tar as the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission is concerned, ithas been asked to apply priorities in its expenditure of the limited loan fluids available to those proposals which would have the effect of increasing food production in the shortest possible time. A schedule is attached showing the result of the allocation of such priorities to works carried out by the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission. It shows that, whilst the time for completion of the number of works canbe expedited, the tempo of most of the major works will have to be slowed down in some cases almost to a stop, with consequent reduction of staff. So far as the Forestry Commission is concerned, a similar schedule is attached which clearly indicates that in order to conform with the reduction in available funds and after making all possible savings in directions other than labour costs, the labour strength of employees in the Forestry Commission will have to be reduced by some 300.
That reduction has already taken place, and the men who were dismissed are probably amongst those who are now receiving unemployment relief. The report continued -
So far as the Soil Conservation Service is concerned, the reduction in available funds will involve a reduction of some56 on last year’s labour strength. This has been applied to foreshore improvement works in catchment areas. The schedule submitted by the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission, however, shows this outstanding feature - that on the basis of the present allocation, a labour strength of 1,520 only can be employed, and further, that the major construction works at Glen. Bawn, Keepit, Burrendong and Menindie will be slowed to such a pace that most of them will prove to he uneconomic and that the time for completion of these works will be extended to the fantastic period, in some cases of 25 years. On the other hand, if an additional £2,000,000 were available (an increase of slightly more than 50 per cent) the labour strength could be doubled and the time for completion of these major works reduced in all cases to less than 5 years.
Is it not ridiculous that the construction of these major works which are needed to increase food production should be retarded although plenty of labour and material is available for their completion?. If the Government had not budgeted to forgo £6,500,000 in land tax for the benefit of wealthy land-owners this work could have been carried out. The Minister’s report continued -
At a time when unemployment is becoming a feature of our economy and one would expect that Government works - particularly those which can be reproductive, are essential for food production and can absorb a larger proportion of unskilled labour - should be expanded, it seems very significant that a comparatively small further allocation of loan funds to the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission would enable all these objectives to be met. Moreover, an allocation of a further £500,000 to the Forestry Commission would avoid thesacking of some 300 to 400 employees of that Commission and would enable it also to proceed with a Forestry Works Programme including soft wood planting, road construction, Forest Management; and fire protection essential to maintain timber production at a desirable level develop forests for future use and maintain forest assets. Most important too is the fact that the Forestry Commission had reached a stage of being a balanced financial undertaking capable of paying all debt charges on’ its loan funds and this desirable position is now threatened.
The same story could be told of every other department of the New South Wales Government. If the Government were to attempt to regain the confidence of the people it would have no difficulty in. obtaining all the money that it requires in order to further these national works.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
. –The. fact that the Estimates before the committee concern four separate bodies, namely the Department of Immigration, the Department of Labour and National Service, the Department of National Development and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, presents honorable members with some difficulty in dealing with each of them adequately. I desire, first, to refer to the Department of Labour and National Service in connexion with the call-up of national service trainees. I consider that the national service training scheme has been one of the outstanding successes of this Government. It has been completely accepted by the public. Whether there is a future conflict or not, no harm will have been done by this but on the contrary it will have done a great deal of good. Young men of the age of eighteen who undergo training are taught to be decent citizens and to understand some kind of discipline. They are also subjected to a very thorough medical and dental check and this must be very good for the nation. I hope that the Government will never have any thought of abandoning or reducing the scope of the scheme. However, I should like honorable members to consider the way in which the call-up affects the sons of farmers. Honorable members ‘ on this side of the committee consider it to be very important that food production be increased. Many small farmers and people in country businesses have been caused real inconvenience by the call-up. Almost without exception, those people who experience this trouble are not opposed to the national service training scheme, although they find that when certain heavy seasonal work has to be done the call-up of their sons is a real inconvenience. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) has gone a certain way along the road to assist these people by deferring training on occasions, but if the Government is to carry out its obligations in assisting rural production, it will need to go a little further and allow a little more latitude in those constantly recurring cases in which serious inconvenience is caused. I urge the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service to examine this aspect of the national service training scheme in order to ascertain what can be done to assist the rural community in this respect. I now want to refer to the Estimates for the Department, of Immigration. It is my view that Australia has temporarly reached a . point of saturation in the absorption of immigrants. What I have to say on this subject is solely an expression of my private view. I am opposed to the introduction of any more German immigrants.
– I propose to say why quite plainly. In past years German immigration to this country has been very satisfactory. Many examples of German immigrants who have made good settlers may be seen in South Australia and in my own- State of Tasmania. The German immigrants who entered Australia after World War I. have proved to be, in almost 100 per cent, of cases, exceptionally fine citizens. However, now that we have to reduce our intake of immigrants, we should reduce our quota of Germans who, whether honorablemembers like it or not, have been constantly subjected to Nazi indoctrination for twelve years; that is, from 1933 to 1945. They have been so subject to the system of instilling Nazi ideas, that persons under the age of 35 years at present cannot, I believe, lightly drop the ideas that have been pounded into their heads day after day and year after year for such a long period of time. I may have some personal feeling about this matter because I was one of those who had to fight the Germans during the war.’ Therefore, I cannot find any particular love for them in my heart. It is true that there are some most distressing eases of hardship among Germans in Europe at the present time, but let it be remembered that most of the Germans brought their troubles upon themselves.
I believe that temporarily we have reached a state of saturation as far as immigration is concerned. The time will shortly come again when we shall be able to bring immigrants to this country at a greater rate than that of the present time, but I urge that the only people we bring in at present shall be those of British stock, those from Scandinavian countries and possibly those from Holland. Our experience in the past has been that immigrants of the nationalities that ‘I have just mentioned have been among some of our very best settlers, and are at present proving themselves to be so.
I shall now refer to the important , matter of national development. There has been much discussion during this debate about the future of Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. I say quite plainly that I am opposed to the sale of the Commonwealth’s shareholding in this organization. I am not alone in that view because my own electorate committee recently passed a. resolution to the effect that it believed that in view of vital defence needs the Australian Government should no longer consider the sale of its interest in Commonwealth Oil Refineries limited but should continue to develop and expand the company. I believe that Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited can still fulfil the functions outlined by the right honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Hughes). That right honorable gentleman said that Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited played a vital part in our defence organization. I lui ve never believed in the operation of monopolies, and reports of recent American investigations of the international ramifications of oil companies have raised some doubts in the minds of honorable members who have studied them. As a motorist who has to travel a good deal in his own electorate, my experience, in common with that of many motorists, is that all that the oil companies have done in the post-war years has been to increase their charges for petrol. At no time have they made a real attempt ro increase the octane in their petrol. I submit that that is a- poor example of disinterested action. For the same reason that I supported the continuance of the Commonwealth’s interest in Trans- Australia Airlines, I support the retention of its interest in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. It is essential in time of war that the Government shall have a right of entry into certain vital fields. Therefore in the petrol industry, through Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, and in civil aviation through Trans-Australia Airlines, the Government should retain its right of entry for the purpose of guarding the public interest. The Government must carefully consider the continuation of the Commonwealth’s interest in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited.
.- The employment position is deteriorating from d«iy to day. Throughout the metropolitan area of Sydney large numbers of men -ind women, including Korean veterans and other ex-servicemen, are walking the streets looking for work. I have not been satisfied by ministerial statements about unemployment in Australia. Some Ministers can tell us nothing -at all about it, but the Minister for Social Service* (Mr. Townley) can toil us, for instance, that there were about 600 fewerapplicants for the unemployment benefit last week than there were in theprevious week. Apparently no Minister can inform honorable members of the actual quantum of unemployment in Australia. Why are Ministers hiding the figures relating to unemployment? I suggest that it is because they have something to hide. The Government should face up to the difficult employment situation and tell the country how many unemployed persons there are in the Commonwealth. Then it should put forward a programme designed to providework for those people. Last Monday week I made it my business tovisit the branch of . the Commonwealth Employment Office at Albionstreet, Paddington, in the City of Sydney, There I found clerks, bootmakers, engineers, building workers and Korean veterans waiting to register for the unemployment benefit because they could not get work. I noticed particularly a Koreanveteran, aged 22. who resides in Paddington. . I san let the Minister have his name if necessary. This man served for two years in Korea, and has been back in Australia for only twelve weeks. He was not able to obtain employment, and at that time did not have enough money to pay his board. Consequently he was faced with eviction. It is a sad commentary on our economic plight that one of the men who fought for freedom and the right to work and ‘ eat should be flung into the ranks of the unemployed immediately upon his return from the war. When he came home. after his service in Korea he found that all that he could get was a measly 25s. a week from the Government.
– The amount is £2 10s.
– All that he was entitled to was 25s. a week. He will not he entitled to more until, legislation is passed to increase the unemployment benefit. The Government has not considered making the increased unemployment benefit retrospective, although it proposes to make the abolition of Ian 1 tax retrospective to the 31st July last. The Government did not consider making retrospective the increases it intends to grant in not only the unemployment benefit but also age and invalid pensions. So much for the consisency of this businessmen’s government! I was amazed to learn from a Korean veteran that he had only the clothes that he stood up in and was faced with the prospect of walking the streets because he had nowhere to sleep. Destitute women are in tears because they cannot find work. The future holds no promise of happiness for them because they see no chance of finding new jobs. Imagine such a state of affairs being allowed to exist in Australia ! Scores of men have been evicted from their rooms and must sleep in the parks in sunny Australia. Who would have thought that so few could do so much damage to so many in such a short period of time? Supporters of the Government laugh at the idea of men walking the streets and looking for work. They sit complacently in this chamber, well dressed and with welllined stomachs. What do they care for the man who has nothing in his pockets and has no hope of paying for a meal? I ask the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale), who is sitting at the table, to bring this matter urgently before Cabinet with a view to alleviating the distress that exists throughout Australia.
The lack of a. branch of the Commonwealth Employment Office in the Watson electorate is causing me grave concern. There are 4,000 or 5,000 men and, women out of work in the division. Some of them live at La Perouse. The Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service told the House recently, in a lengthy statement which evidently had been prepared by his advisers, that my complaint was unfounded and that his officers had personally investigated Commonwealth Employment Office facilities in my electorate. I repeat emphatically that there .are no such facilities. I have asked the Minister time and time again to establish a branch of the Commonwealth Employment Office at Maroubra Junction so that unemployed persons will at least have a central point at which they may apply for the unemployment benefit. If a man has not 2s. with which to pay tram fares from La Perouse to Paddington and back, a total distance of 16 miles, he cannot register for the unemployment benefit.
– The fares are too high.
-Fancy saying that to a man who, after having been unemployed for five or six months, could not afford to pay the tram fare to Paddington even if the rate was only a penny a section ! This Government, which proposes to remit taxes for the benefit of its wealthy supporters, apparently refuses to provide the money that is needed to set up a one-man employment office at Maroubra Junction so that the unemployed men and women in my electorate would at least have the chance to walk only a few miles in order to claim the unemployment benefit. Notwithstanding the evasive platitudes that have been mouthed by the Minister in this chamber, I know that the Director of Social Services has made representations during the last fortnight for an increase of staff in the Department of Social Services so that it will be able to cope with the rush of applications for relief. That is a fact and I am sure that the Minister will not attempt to deny it.
Seriously unsatisfactory conditions in immigrant hostels in the Watson electorate also are causing me concern. I know that, other honorable members are worried by the dissatisfaction that has .developed amongst immigrants at hostels in the electorates that they represent. The immigrants have been upset and irritated by the conduct of the Minister in sidestepping complaints about the hostels. When I first decided to raise this matter with the appropriate Minister, it took me a long time to learn which Minister I should approach. The Minister foi1 Defence (Mr. McBride) and the Minister for Supply administer the portfolios of Labour and National Service and Immigration respectively in the absence overseas of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt). But, since this matter has been raised, they have decided between themselves that neither of them has any power to intervene. They have referred me to Commonwealth Hostels Limited. Everybody knows the unhappy story nf that organization. which was established for the purpose of removing a certain officer from a certain department so that another officer could be elevated to a higher position. I have the names of the officers concerned and can supply them to the committee if necessary. The formation of Commonwealth Hostels Limited enabled the Government to pass the buck and disclaim responsibility for the shocking conditions in immigrant hostels, and to clear the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) of any blame in the matter. The former secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service is now set up in all his glory as the director of this hostel organization. I interviewed -him at a meeting at Army House about two months ago on the subject of conditions at immigrant hostels. After the meeting had closed, I asked him to forward to me a copy of the notes of the discussion when they were typed. He assured me that he would do so, but I am still waiting to receive that report.
The Government has passed the buck so often that immigrants at the hostels have become sick and tired of the whole unfortunate business. They were told before they left their former homes to come to Australia that, within six months of their arrival, they would be permitted to apply to the New South Wales Housing Commission for the ria lit to participate in ballots for the allocation of new houses. But the Government knows as well as I do that the Commonwealth and .State Housing Agreement does not provide for the participation in such ballots of anybody who is a resident of a government immigrant hostel. This fact exposes the insincerity of the Government’s pretence to be concerned with the distress of immigrants and is another reason why it should he condemned. The honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) has shed crocodile tears for the immigrants who live in his electorate, but he still supports the Government that has refused absolutely to do anything on behalf of those immigrants. The Government has no consideration for the welfare of the wives and children of the immigrant workers and the honorable member likewise is not genuinely concerned about their plight. His insincerity is exposed. He claims that he loves the immigrants, yet he does not raise a hand in order to assist them. The British immigrants are to be commended for the admirable restraint that they have displayed in the conduct, of negotiations with the Government for an improvement of their lot. They have asked for very little. The action taken by the Italians at Bonegilla is in striking, contrast to the moderation of the British, What the Italians did is now history. They revolted against their conditions, and this Government, strange to relate, acted expeditiously to appease them. Why does not the Government give to the British immigrants better treatment than has been the case to date? The Government has a peculiar complex. It wishes1 to bring anti-British people to Australia. I agree with the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder), who has stated that the Government, when it is filling the immigration quota for the year, should give full preference to British people. The honorable gentleman is to be commended for having thrown down the gauntlet to the Government, which he supports. He has criticized,, and even castigated it for the manner in which it has treated immigrants generally..
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - Order! . The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I do not propose to participate in the debate, but I ask the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin), through you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, whether he will kindly send to me the name of the Korean veteran of whom he has spoken.
– I shall give the name of the veteran to the Minister publicly.
– It is not necessary for the honorable gentleman to give me the information publicly; he may give it to me privately.
– I have nothing to be ashamed of, and shall give the information to the Minister now.
.- I rise to defend my friend, the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson), against the. entirely unfounded and unwarranted attack launched on him by the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin). In my opinion, no honorable member in this chamber is more sincere than is the - honorable member for Sturt, who repeatedly makes, with all sincerity, constructive suggestions for the betterment of this country. It ill-becomes honorable members on the other side of the chamber to cast irresponsible aspersions against honorable members on this side who are noted, as is the honorable member for Sturt, for their sincerity of purpose.
The Australian immigration programme since World War II. was commenced by the Chifley Labour Government. I arn gratified that immigration is one of the matters - unfortunately, they ure all too few - that is treated in this chamber on a national basis. When I make that statement, I mean that all the political parties represented in this eba in her are in agreement with the principle of maintaining immigration on a large scale. My only regret is that there is not a greater degree of unanimity among the political parties here on other important national matters such as defence and foreign affairs. The record of Australia over the last five years in regard to immigration is indeed a proud and a spectacular one. Having brought no fewer than half a million people to this country since 1947, we can point to a remarkable achievement, and a significant and gratifying feature is that approximately one-half of the newcomers are of British origin. The claim has been made in some quarters that, as a result of the large-scale immigration programme, we are in danger of losing our British character, but I believe such an assertion to be completely false. If we persist in maintaining a reasonable proportion of British immigrants, and an adequate birth-rate, our immigration programme will definitely succeed, and we shall retain our essentially British character. But more attention must be given to the assimilation of immigrants into te Australian community. I shall make further reference to that matter before 1 conclude my speech. There is an old saying that we must populate, or perish. The state of affairs in the world to-day indicates that this was not an idle warning: We in Australia are isolated from ether British-speaking countries, including Great Britain, which used to be our protector in a time of need. In future, we shall have to stand more firmly on our own feet than has been the case in the past.
The importance of immigration in relation to defence and national development cannot be emphasized too strongly. It has been claimed, with a certain degree of truth, 0.:al the three programmes - immigration, defence and development - tend inevitably to increase the inflationary pressures in the community. Such a statement is perfectly true, up to a point, but I believe that the position has been exaggerated by many people. To the degree that some inflationary pressure is the result of the immigration programme, I believe it to be the price we must be prepared to pay if Australia is to grow into a strong and sturdy nation, capable of standing on its own feet and playing its part effectively on the world stage. It should be recognized that many of the new settlers, particularly the formerly displaced persons, are doing valuable work in the basic industries, and have assisted considerably to increase the output of many of our basic commodities. From the long-term point of view, their contribution to the strengthening of our economy in that way far outweighs any inflationary stress and strain that is placed on our economy as the result of the demands that the immigrants must make on it for capital goods and services, particularly food and housing.
Australia is still greatly underpopulated and under-developed. I am made to feel sick when I hear people say that there is too much unemployment in relation to the volume of work offering. In this new, young and virile country, plenty of developmental work remains to be done. There will be plenty of developmental work for many years. I deplore the calamity-howling, in which Opposition members indulge, on the subject of employment. Many hundreds of thousands of workers from other countries can be absorbed in our basic industries, particularly the coal, iron, steel, transport and power industries, and we should continue to obtain immigrants from other parts of the world while we are able to get them. But we should constantly bear in mind that we must obtain the best kind of immigrant that is offering. Various estimates of our absorptive rapacity, in terms of population, have been made from time to time, and the figures vary between 20,000,000 and 120,000,000. persons. Whatever the figure, may ultimately prove to be, our capacity to absorb new settlers has not yet been exhausted. For many years, we shall require immigrants so that Australia will have, a population that can hold this country firmly and securely for all time, and develop it as it should be developed. I t is true that the flow of immigrants has been temporarily restricted. That is unfortunate. At the present time, we are concentrating on bringing to Australia skilled and rural workers, but the restriction is only a temporary measure, and T hope that in the near future the flow of immigrants will be restored to its previous high level. I commend the Government for its immigration policy and particularly for the fact that it has succeeded in bringing to these shores a far higher proportion of British immigrants than has gone to any other British dominion in recent years. The Minister for immigration (Mr. Holt), who is now abroad, has been doing a very good job for Australia. One of our great difficulties is that we need immigrants of a certain type, such as farm labourers and coal-miners, who are in most demand in their own countries. It is estimated that if we maintain the average flow of immigrants for the last two or three years, Australia will have a population of approximately 10,000,000 in ten years time. The strain that may be placed upon our economy during the next few years as a result of immigration will be well worth while because of the additional strength that immigrants -give to this country. We should regard our immigration programme as a long-term investment which, in due course, will yield splendid dividends for Australia.
I make three special pleas in respect of immigration policy. The first of them is that we shall cease using the words “ White Australia “ because they are misleading and offensive to our neighbours to the north of this country.
I can see no reason why we should not use instead the words “ immigration laws” or “immigration policy”. We certainly do not wish to import coolie labour, and sufficient safeguards are provided in our immigration laws in that respect. It should be made clear to the world that our immigration laws do not, of themselves, constitute a colour bar. I make my second plea in support of the remarks of the honorable member for Sturt, when he emphasized the need to keep immigrant families together and to do something as quickly as possible to improve their present accommodation. My third plea is that the Government shall consider, as a long-range objective, participation in plans for mass immigration of persons engaged in particular industries from Great Britain to this country. The over-population of Great Britain and the under-population of Australia constitute a serious weakness. Whilst Great Britain has a population density of 543 persons to the square mile, Australia’s population density is only four persons to the square mile. A better distribution of British population and industries throughout the British Empire would, inevitably, add very greatly to our overall strength, particularly from the point of view of defence, which, at present, is a paramount construction.
In conclusion, I pay a tribute to the work that is being done by the New Settlers League in Queensland and also to the State Minister for Immigration, Mr. Riordan, for his broad outlook on the problem of immigration generally. The New Settlers League is a semigovernmental organization which is doing a splendid job in welcoming new settlers in Queensland and helping them to become happy and useful citizens. A regional conference on immigration, the first of its kind, is to be held in that State on the 26th of this month and, incidentally, I have been invited to represent the Australian Government at the opening of that conference. Finally, the duty of helping new settlers to become assimilated as rapidly as possible rests upon each one of us. We should be kinder and more tolerant, sympathetic and helpful to them than we sometimes are. I believe that the historical and cultural hackground of new Australians will colour and enrich our own and will help to build a stronger Australia for the future.
Sitting suspended from 6 to S p.m.
.- Prior to the suspension of the sitting the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) made a very thoughtful speech, which was marred, however, by an unfortunate remark. He stated that he deplored the continuous references by the Opposition to unemployment while so much developmental work still remains to be done. 1 point out that developmental work cannot be performed by the unemployed workers unless they have the opportunity to do it. The opportunity to do national developmental work must bc provided by governments, because the necessary . finance is controlled almost entirely by the governments of this country. I think that all honorable members will agree that the present unemployment situation is a’ matter of urgent national concern. It is to be regretted that the statistics that are compiled by the Department of Labour and National Service do not present a clear picture of the unemployment situation. Some publications show the trend of employment in this country, but the department should overhaul its procedure in order that precise information shall be available to the Parliament. The Commonwealth Employment Service was established some years ago to place unemployed workers readily in contact with employers who required labour and to enable the quickest possible transfer of labour in industry to be effected. Unfortunately, during the last few months unemployment has increased in this country. Efforts that have been made by honorable members on this side of the cham-bor to ascertain the extent of unemployment have been frustrated because of the paucity of information available. The Quarterly Summary of Australian Statistics furnishes information in relation to unemployment of trade unionists, but that information is hopelessly out of date bv the time that it is published. According to figures in the last issue of that publication, which were based on information supplied by only a limited number of trade unions with 9,608 unemployed members; in February, j 952, unemployment amounted to 1.1 per cent, of union membership. This gives some idea of the trend of employment. For a number of years, with the exception of 1947, when the metal trades dispute occurred, and 1949, when the coal dispute occurred, less than 1 per cent, of trade unionists were unemployed. In November last only 0.7 per cent, of trade unionists were unemployed, but in February of this year 1.1 per cent, were unemployed.
The .lune issue of the Monthly Bulletin of Employment Statistics shows clearly that the trend that was revealed by the trade union figures has continued since February and that a position was then being rapidly reached which must cause grave concern to everybody. The figures contained in that publication show that the peak of private employment was reached in November, 1951, when 1.971,000 persons were in private employment. The number dropped to 1,894,000 in June, 1952, which was a decrease of 77,000 persons so employed within a period of eight months. Not since August, 1950 had a smaller number of persons been in private employment. Since then our population has increased by almost 300,000 persons. The number of persons who have been displaced from civilian employment, that is, employment by governments and private enterprise, is not so high. In November, 1951, there were 2,643,000 civilian employees. By June, 1951, the number of civilian employees had decreased to 2,588,000 persons, a drop of 55,000 persons within a period of eight months.
– Many of them enlisted in the armed services.
– This decrease has an important bearing on production, at a time when the Government is stressing the necessity to increase production. The number of persons employed in manufacturing industries decreased from 960,300 in February of this year to 928,300 in June; which was a decrease of 32,000 persons so employed within four months. Under the heading “ Commerce “, which includes wholesale and retail establishments, the publication from which I have already quoted shows that employment decreased from 424,000 in February, 1952, to 412,000 in June, which was a decrease of 12,000 within four months. There were smaller decreases in the number of persons employed in the transport, building, and other industries during the same period.
One would expect information supplied by the Department of Labour and National Service to be right up to date, and that it would supply all the information that honorable members seek to obtain about employment, which is a very important factor in Australia’s economy. The following figures supplied by that department show that for some months past things have been going seriously astray. According to the departmental statistics, 392 persons were in receipt of the unemployment benefit in November, 1951. By April, 1952, the number had increased to 4,261. There were 5,245 persons in receipt of the benefit in May; 8,297 in June; and 13,680 in July, 1952. Within a period of nine months the number of persons receiving the unemployment benefit had increased by 35 fold. At the 25th July last, 45,000 persons were registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service. However, nobody would suggest for a moment that every unemployed person in this country at that date had registered. That figure does not include many part-time workers. As honorable members on this side of the chamber are painfully aware, many persons are now being employed for only three or four- days a week. Almost daily during August the press published reports to the effect that, due to economic circumstances, various companies had dismissed some of their employees. Recently, one large rubber establishment announced that, owing to excessive rubber imports, about 300 of its employees had been dismissed. Since the figures made available on the 25th July, it appears that there have been dismissals not only in the rubber industry, but also in the match industry, the textile industry, the clothing industry, the radio and electrical industry, the motor assembling industry, and wholesale and retail establishments. All the available information indicates that, instead of the position remaining static, unemployment in the community is growing very fast.
Let me make two suggestions about the” Department of Labour and National Service. I want to be constructive. I believe that two things are necessary. First, there should be close liaison between the Department of Labour and National Service and employers, with a view to ascertaining what labour is becoming disemployed. Secondly, the figures which are published should indicate how many skilled workers, the classes of skilled workers, and how many unskilled workers are unemployed and are seeking employment. .Skilled workers have been trained, at great expense, to be of some value to the productive and constructional work of the community, and it is disastrous for such workers to be idle when material and resources are available for use in developmental or other works.
I say with great sincerity that it is unfortunate that unemployment should . be growing in a period when our production is increasing. I have supported the pleas for greater production that have been made by Government members, by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), by the president of the Australian Council, of Trades Unions,, and by many other people. It is tragic that, when we are striving for greater production, unemployment is increasing.’ Unemployment plays into the hands of those who say too readily that if a worker produces more, he only produces himself out of a job. To kill that idea, it is essential, above all things, to take steps promptly to reverse the present trend and to give unemployed persons an opportunity to go back into employment. Because our population is increasing rapidly, employment in this country should be increasing, not decreasing. I think that all honorable members will agree readily with that statement. Unemployment, like a snowball, grows gradually. I experienced unemployment in my youth, and I know the frustration, despair, and mental strain to which it gives rise.- But, apart from that human aspect of the matter, unemployment by decreasing the purchasing power of the community, destroys confidence and causes instability, and when there is instability, there is a tendency for unemployment to grow. I hope that the Government will take action speedily to try to remedy the position.
– The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) has made a temperate and thoughtful con”tribution to the debate. I am sure that the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service will welcome an opportunity to reply to the remarks that the honorable gentleman has made about employment. Let me remind the committee that no less a man than Lord Beveridge, who may be said to be the father and author of the doctrine of full employment, conceded, when he was writing his charter for what he called full employment, that in a modern industrial community we must expect a degree’ of unemployment of from 3 per cent, to 5 par cent. He did not mean that the same people would be unemployed all the time. He accepted the proposition that, in a modern industrial community, there would be a degree of circulation of employment, and that at any given time between 3 per cent, and 5 per cent, of the working population would be unemployed. He accepted that as full employment. I invite honorable members to refer to his writings upon that matter. Lord Beveridge, a man of generous temperament, was on the side of the workers at all times, yet he accepted the implications of a modern industrial society. This Government does not accept that position, but I point out that at the present time there is, at the very worst, something less than 2 per cent, of unemployment in this country. Yet some honorable members opposite, not all of them, have raised panic cries and have suggested that all is lost, that a depression has come upon the country, and that employees are destitute and on the way to destruction. That kind of propaganda does nobody any good, least of all the workers. At this time of great national prosperity and also of changing economic conditions, confidence is required, but propaganda of the kind in which some honorable members opposite have indulged will not help ro maintain confidence.
Let me discuss one or two natters some importance which relate to immigration. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) said that, speaking for himself and only for himself, he was opposed to the admission of Germans into this country as immigrants. Members of the parties on this side of the chamber are given considerable latitude in the expression of their views. That conforms to our traditional policy. Members of the Opposition laugh at that statement, because they cannot understand a policy of that kind. The honorable member for Franklin expressed his view, in much the same way as another honorable member on this side of the chamber spoke in opposition to the Japanese peace treaty. He had served his country gallantly in time of war, and had been a prisoner of the Japanese. Therefore, he spoke from a peculiarly personal viewpoint. There is, however, another point of view which can be taken in this matter of German immigrants which does not minimize or ignore the wrongs, injustices and brutalities that were suffered as a result of the misdeeds of the Government and people of Germany during the war. It is, on the contrary, a point of view which accepts the realities of the modern situation. That point of view is that in the world of politics, as we find it to-day, we have need, to some degree, to wash out the past when it can be washed out, and to start afresh, if we can, to build, with our former enemy, a better world. That point of view has been accepted in Australia.
So far there has been no considerable degree of German immigration to Australia. The Government has not, up to date, sponsored any German immigration. About 10,000 German immigrants have come here, but their immigration was not sponsored by the Government. The persons concerned came here to work on special projects, such as the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric project and State government projects. Seeing that about 600,000 immigrants have arrived in this country since the end of the wai”, the 10,000 Germans who have come here do not constitute a very large number. It is acknowledged by every one that those German immigrants, who were carefully selected and carefully screened, have proved to be good citizens and good workers.
– They have proved to be extremely dissatisfied.
– I repeat, they have proved to be good citizens and good workers. We had to decide whether we should make an agreement with the West German Government, which represents people who are inclined to our way of life and our ideology, and accept more German immigrants into the country. An arrangement, which is known as the Bonn Agreement, has been made, under which a limited number of Germans may come to Australia in the future. The figures upon which the press has speculated are quite false. The number of German immigrants who will enter Australia from year to year is entirely under the control of the Government and depends entirely upon our needs at any particular time and the kind of immigrants that we require. As I said in this chamber in answer to a question some days ago, we are selecting the comparatively small number of 1,500 skilled and experienced rural workers whom we shall bring in, in the near future, together with their dependants. That is the extent of German immigration to this country sponsored by the Government. Unless honorable members take the view that’ no Germans are to be allowed to come here, a view that I personally do not share, although the honorable member for Franklin takes a personal view that is contrary to mine, then it must be conceded that this is a careful, small and temperate programme.
I turn now to British immigrants. Quite properly honorable members on hoth sides of the chamber have expressed anxiety about whether or not everything possible is being done for our British immigrants. I point out that since 1946 or 1947 Australia has increased its population, by means of immigration, by 600,000 people, as a result of the programme that was instituted by the previous Government and continued by this Government. About half of those immigrants are British people. Since 1950, the ratio of British stock among the immigrants has increased slightly, but, on the average, it has been about 50 per cent, since the programme began. I believe that all honorable members accept the fact that we should have the maximum possible proportion of British people among our immigrants. I must confess to some slight astonishment at the degree of pro-British patriotism and enthusiasm that has been suddenly expressed by some honorable members opposite who previously have not been distinguished in that respect. However, we take things as we find them, and we are grateful for the fact that there is apparently now unanimity in this chamber about the desirability of introducing a3 great a proportion of British immigrants as possible into the country. It has been claimed that our . treatment of British immigrants is such as to discourage them. It is alleged that hostel tariffs for immigrants are too high. I listened this afternoon to a careful and useful speech from the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) on this matter, and last night I listened to similar speeches from the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) and other honorable members. It is true that, if the matter be regarded from one point of view, an immigrant has not much money left over after he has paid his hostel dues. It is also true, however, that if the suggestions which certain honorable members have made were adopted, the immigrants would have still less left over after they had paid their way.
– They have no hope of getting a home under the Government’s credit restriction policy.
– I point out to the honorable member that the policy on hostel tariffs is a Labour party policy.
– But that was two years ago.
– The rate of charges at immigrant hostels is that formulated by the Labour party. However, let us compare the charges made at the hostels with the amount that an immigrant family would have to pay if it occupied its own home. Let us take, an average immigrant family of a man, his wife who is not employed, and three children aged two, six and eleven years. Such a family would pay, under our scheme, a maximum of £10 23. 6d. in hostel charges. If the individual rates for each member of the family were added, the total rate would be £11 2s., but a concessional rate is applied according to the number of persons in the family and the number of its members who are employed. Such a family would receive £1 5s. a week child endowment. The hostel tariff is fixed on what is known as the nominal wage, which is not the basic wage but the wage that the immigrant earns without overtime. Up to a very recent date large sums were undoubtedly earned in overtime by British immigrants, every one of whom, I remind the committee, is a skilled worker.
– They are not.
– I stand open to correction on that point, but almost every one of the British immigrants who come here is a skilled worker, because we are concentrating on bringing to this country skilled workers from Great Britain. The people we are bringing here from Great Britain are certainly not the kind of people who earn merely the basic wage. Under the system of tariffs, therefore, the immigrant is left with all .his overtime earnings after he has paid his hostel dues. If he earned, say, £14 a week without overtime, which is a fair figure to take in these days, he would have to pay £10 2s. 6d. a week and would be left with the difference between that sum and £14, plus £1 5s. a week child endowment, plus his overtime earnings.
– He would not have much left after he had paid for the maintenance, of his wife and children.
– I am giving the committee the facts, which are very different from some of the statements that we have heard in regard to this matter. I remind the committee that the rooms that constitute a family’s hostel accommodation are all furnished, and that the charges imposed are inclusive. That means that an immigrant such as I have indicated does not require to pay out any more than a maximum amount of £10 2s. 6d. for accommodation. If he occupied a furnished cottage or flat with two bedrooms, would he be better off or worse off? He would be certainly worse off. I am prepared to leave to the judgment of the committee and people outside who may be listening to me whether the charges made are reasonable or not. Would an immigrant be able to obtain a furnished cottage, with two bedrooms, foi less than £5 a week inclusive? Of course not ! He would probably have to pay a great deal more. Would it cost him any less than 10s. a week for gas and electricity? Every householder knows that it would not. Would it cost a family of five anything less than £7 a week for food? Of course it would not. If ho and his family were living in a flat or a two-bedroomed house, it would cost him not less than £12 10s. a week to live. Is he not better off in a hostel paying £10 2s. 6d. a week? Clearly, if this matter is to be decided on the basis of pounds, shillings and pence, the argument of honorable members opposite breaks down. However, the Government has not ceased to examine this matter. We know perfectly well that some immigrants are in a difficult position and are dissatisfied, the same skill, initiative and opportunities to find for themselves. Not all workers are able to earn overtime. We are looking at this matter again, and I say to the committee that, in due course, the Government will consider whether a more equitable scheme can be devised for British immigrants than that now in operation.
There remains one other matter to be dealt with, and that was raised by the honorable member for Sturt. It concerns immigrants who are living in hostels, and who knew before they came to this country that they would be living in hostels for a year or two. The problem is whether these people, should eat in dining-rooms or should be provided with kitchenettes in which to do their own cooking. There are arguments in favour of each of those alternatives. Perhaps the most obvious argument in favour of providing separate cooking facilities is that the immigrants would enjoy the advantage of privacy. We appreciate that, but as a matter of sheer economics, it must he conceded that it would be dearer for immigrants to do their own cooking than to est food of the same standard in diningrooms. However, there is more in it than that. Undoubtedly an enormous expense would be involved in providing kitchenettes and, so far, the Government has considered that the arguments against that proposal are very strong indeed. Nevertheless, we have not shut our minds to the possibility of making a rearrangement. We are sympathetic to the notion of privacy. The desire of people to shut the door and let their homes be their castles is deeply embedded in the British character. If it is practicable to do this, we shall certainly do it. At least the proposals will be examined. I emphasize, however, that this Government has not reduced the living standards of immigrants in any way. All we have tried to do since we came to office ha3 been to make living conditions more comfortable for them. It would be of no use to convert these establishments into selfcontained flats which the immigrants would not want to leave in any circumstances. We have our difficulties. If an immigrant living in a hostel in New South Wales applies to the State Housing Commission for a house, the answer is, “ You have a place to live “.
– That is not true.
– That reply has been given many times. Therefore, our difficulties in placing immigrants in their own homes are considerable. However our aim is that, at all times, every newcomer to this country shall be sheltered and cared for. If his living conditions are not to his liking, we shall help him to get what he wants as quickly as possible; but we believe, too, that the immigrant should try to help himself and that he should be patient. On the matter of hostel accommodation, if anything can reasonably be done to make living conditions more comfortable, or, more important still, to get immigrants into their own homes, the Government will certainly do it.
.- I join with the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) in registering an emphatic protest against this Government’s attitude to German immigration. The proposals are repugnant to every decent-minded citizen of Australia. The honorable member for Franklin served with distinction during the war as a pathfinder pilot, and has had considerable experience of the German Nazi people. I protest also on behalf of the Labour movement against the statements that have been made by. the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale). Immigrants who are in full-time employment may be able to meet the charges that are imposed upon them, but the department’s action in seeking to extract money owing to it by unemployed immigrants of whom there are many thousands in this country is revolting. Only this week I had brought to my notice the plight of an immigrant who owes the department £66. The immigration scheme was founded by the Chifley Labour Government which appreciated the necessity to populate this country in the interest of defence and development, but I believe that not one immigrant should be brought to Australia as long as a single Australian or new Australian is out of work. Many thousands of people are unemployed in this country to-day. The Minister for Supply has talked with glib hypocrisy about an unemployment figure of 2 per cent, or 3 per cent.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden) . - Order ! The honorable member’s expression is unparliamentary and he must withdraw it.
– I withdraw _ it. Unemployment percentages are not important except, of course, to the unfortunate people who are out of work. There are many hundreds of unemployed persons in the Phillip electorate, particularly in the Waverley and Bondi districts. I wish to refer particularly, to the work of the Department of Labour and National Service. Later, if time permits, I shall deal more fully with immigration. First, I pay a tribute to the employees of the department, who have done such a remarkable job, particularly since the war ended. 1 am referring, of course, not to the upper strata of officials who are pouring out information to save the Government from the embarrassing questions that are being asked by honorable members on this side of the chamber, but to the men with whom I worked for many years. All Australians will recall how officers of the
Department of Labour and National Service demobilized our armed services, and placed hundreds of thousands of exservicemen in employment without putting even one man out of work. The department has also rendered g:eat service under the immigration scheme. Approximately 400,000 immigrants have been placed in jobs. During the administration of the Labour Government, the activities of the department were guided by the principles of the white paper on full employment which was tabled in this Parliament by the great Labour leader, Ben Chifley.
To-night, the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) told us about the Beveridge plan for full employment. The Labour Government also evolved a plan for full employment not to bring about 1, 2 or 3 per cent, unemployment, as this Government has done, but for every man and woman in the community who needed a job to have one. Under the administration of the Labour Government the work force was fully employed. Not one man, woman or child in our midst was hungry. Labour’s scientific approach, to its policy of full employment was materially assisted by the Department of Labour and National Service, the officers of which canvassed employers for jobs. Trained employment officers placed the right man in the right job. The youth employment and vocational guidance sections were a credit to the department. Its women’s employment officers did a marvellous job. All of that organization has gone by the board under the new policy of this Government. The department also conducted an efficient disabled persons’ section. Legislation should be introduced to compel industry to accept a percentage of disabled and aged persons, not on the basis of slow-workers’ permits such as this tory Government would issue, but on the basis of full award wages and conditions. The co-operation that existed between the Department of Labour and National Service and the Department of Social Services in the field of unemployment and sickness benefits was a great credit to the responsible officers. In 1945, when the unemployment benefit was instituted, the basic wage was approximately £4 19s. a week. The rates of benefit were fixed at £1 5s. a week for a single man, £2 5s. a week for a man with a wife, and £2 10s. a week for a man with a wife and one or more children. As the years went by inflation forced up the basic wage to £11 15s. a week but the original rates of benefit still apply. Unfortunately, the senior officers of the magnificent organization of the Commonwealth Employment Service ware “ jockeyed “ out of their positions by the new brains trust which fashions and implements the policy of this Government. The members of the brains trust have said that no increase of the unemployment benefit can be granted, and Ministers have consistently refused to reply to questions asked by honorable members on the subject. The hypocrisy of the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McBride)-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that term.
– I withdraw it. Recently the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) placed the following questions on the notice-paper : -
To-day, the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service furnished replies in which he stated that, at the end of December, 1949, there were 101,394 unfilled jobs throughout Australia. The departmental officers who compiled the latest figures given by the Minister should be dealt with drastically for having given such untrue information. The honorable gentleman said that at the end of July, 1952, 31,753 vacancies were registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service, of which 6,062 existed in the manufacturing industries and 2,361 in transport industries in New South Wales. That is a lie. That such misleading statements should be furnished by Ministers is a scathing indictment of this Government. I ask the Minister now, as I did on a number of occasions during the budget debate, to state where these vacancies exist in New South
Wales, or for that matter, in any part of Australia. Workless men in my electorate are eager to fill them, wherever they may be. The Minister has consistently refused to furnish the information that I have sought. He makes misleading and grossly untrue statements in front of the microphones, but he will go no farther.
Mr. Osborne interjecting,
– I ask the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne), who, having just returned to the chamber, has interjected, whether he can state where these so-called unfilled jobs are to be found. The honorable member for Grayndler also asked how many carpenters, building workers and other tradesmen were registered for employment at the Newtown and Mascot employment offices. In the reply which the Minister furnished to-day he stated that 31 carpenters, 51 other building workers and 86 other tradesmen were registered for employment at those offices. All the piffle that is being talked by Ministers about the employment position and the approximately 32,000 unfilled jobs is only so much “ boloney “ designed to save face. These are the sort of figures that are compiled by the members of the new brains trust who now administer the Commonwealth Employment Service. The secretary of the department has taken to himself far too many jobs. Recently, I brought to the notice of the department a case of an immigrant and his family who had been taken from a camp into the home of a relative. Later, domestic circumstances arose which compelled the relative to ask the immigrant to leave this home and return to the camp. I contacted the department and asked that the requisite arrangement be made. The departmental officers told me that they could do nothing and that. I should discuss the matter with the representative of the Minister who was then in Sydney. I telephoned that mighty individual who, apparently, does little but prepare statements for the Minister and, after they have been delivered, runs round the industrial areas to ascertain the workers’ reaction to them so that, if they prove to be unpopular, he can prepare apologies for them. That exalted gentleman was too busy to speak to me on the telephone. If he did not have so many jobs he would be able to deal with the requests of honorable members. I hoped that he would telephone me later, but he failed to do so. I am happy to say that subsequently a satisfactory arrangement was made. Only when pressure is exerted upon this Government does it take action which it should take of its own volition. We all recall the unhappy incident of the revolt of the Italian immigrants at Bonegilla. Only threats of that kind will galvanize the Government into action. The workers will have to organize, as did the Italian immigrants at Bonegilla, to compel the Government to remedy the unemployment position. Having regard to the circumstances that existed when it took office in 1949 its record in the employment field is a standing disgrace. The sooner the people are given an opportunity to pass judgment upon it, the better it will be for all of us. The people are looking forward to the day when they will be able to record, through the medium of the ballot-box, their indignation at its incompetence and ineptitude. The fact that the Government does not represent 40 per cent, of the electors of Australia will be amply demonstrated in the near future by the results of the Flinders by-election.
.- The speech of the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Fitzgerald) has generated much heat but has thrown no light upon the scene. It was an undistinguished speech and misrepresented the state of employment in Australia. When I spoke on the budget, I analysed the state of employment and I do not propose to repeat those statements now, but I remind honorable members that last year under the administration of this Government, unemployment reached a record low figure in Australia. To hear the honorable member for Phillip, one would think that that was not true. The fact is that when the last Labour Government was in office, unemployment figures were considerably larger than they were last year. This Government can be proud of the fact that it was able to reduce unemployment. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr.
Clarey) produced a mass of figures in relation to unemployment, and no doubt be was right as far as he went. He reminded me of a horse that makes a gallant entrance into the straight but fails in the run to the winning post, because he neglected to tell the committee that the latest unemployment relief figures show that the number of persons receiving unemployment relief has fallen by many hundreds.
– By how many hundreds ?
– The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) has a convenient memory. He was in this chamber when the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Townley) announced the figures and he knows them perfectly well. I do not propose to continue to discuss the subject of unemployment. I merely say that the categorical statement of the honorable member for Bendigo that unemployment is growing failed completely to give the true facts. Unemployment, so far from growing, is beginning to decline as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) predicted it would when he made his speech on the budget and warned of the danger that the Labour party would create unemployment by its psychological tactics.
The subject of immigration has been canvassed extensively by many honorable members, and rightly so, because it is one of great national importance. I refer particularly to the thoughtful speech of the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury). The committee is indebted to him for the thought that he has given to this subject and for the manner in which he presented his views. Immigration is of tremendous importance to the defence and development of the nation. So long as Australia has great empty spaces, the people of other nations will cast envious eyes upon this country and will endeavour to secure it. We can prevent them from trying to make it their own only by populating it more densely. We would be in sore straits if an enemy forced an entry into Australia with its present inadequate population.
The great resources of the nation cannot be developed without more people. A study of the mass immigration policy of the United States of America in the last century clearly reveals that that was the basis of the great and powerful nation that it has become. That mass immigration policy encouraged people to enter the United States of America from all the countries of Europe, and provided the quality of diversification which has added to the stature of the American race. It is true that this Government has met serious economic difficulties during the time that it has been in office, and its persistence with its immigration policy has not made those difficulties any easier. Because of the importance of the n pf”-‘ to increase greatly the population of the country, the Government has persisted in its immigration policy and has faced the economic difficulties courageously. Now the time has arrived when there is to be some limitation on the number of immigrants who are to be admitted to Australia. In the first instance, the proposed limitation will apply only to the next twelve months, but possibly an opportunity will be given -to the Government in that time to be more selective in the persons whom it invites to become citizens of Australia. The Government has been criticized in some quarters for not having been sufficiently selective. I am not sure by any means that that criticism is based on firm foundations, but one can understand the feelings of the persons whose friends and relatives have been subjected to totalitarian oppression. They do not want to see people from those oppressed countries entering Australia. Whether that attitude is correct or not, most of those persons are now citizens of Australia and their fears merit consideration. Consequently, the Government can be asked with fairness to exercise the most careful .screening of immigrants, and I believe that it will do so. Some criticism has been directed at German immigrants and it has been suggested that ex-servicemen are opposed to them. Many ex-servicemen’s organizations have not subscribed to that point of view-
– They are in favour of German immigration.
– That is so, and I believe that the Immigration Advisory Council which includes representatives of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, the Air Force Association, the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia and other organizations is not opposed to it. A similar attitude has been adopted by the Immigration Planning Council which includes representatives of the Australian Council of Trades Unions and many other organizations which represent employers and employees. My personal opinion is the same as that of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder). I agree with him that when we are limiting the numbers of immigrants, preference should be given to those of British, Scandinavian or Dutch stock, with first preference to British immigrant* That would be in accord with natural feeling towards our cwn kindred, and would greatly assist -.Treat Britain and the British Common wealth. If Australia obtained 10,000,000 immigrants from Great Britain, the British Commonwealth and England in particular would be strengthened greatly, lt would be a magnificent thing for this country if we could bring millions of British people here. Of course, it cannot be done in a day, and it is important that housing and employment be found tor immigrants.
That brings me to the subject which has been mentioned here frequently of late - the accommodation provided for British immigrants in hostel;. There is no doubt that there is great dissatisfaction among the immigrants over their accommodation, and while one admires the Minister for putting up a fight, one is more than relieved to hear him say that the Government proposes to look into the matter. I express my thanks in particular to the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) for the stalwart battle that he has waged on behalf of British immigrants. The policy of housing immigrants in hostels and camps was inherited by the present Government from its Labour predecessor, and is communal and socialistic in its inspiration. The immigrants should realize that they would not be likely to fare any better under a future Labour government. Indeed, there is every reason to believe that the present system of housing immigrants would be continued by a Labour government. The honorable member for
Sturt has been charged by members of the Opposition with insincerity.
– That is not true.
– The charge of insincerity is certainly not well founded, but the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), who supported the Labour Government’s accommodation policy for immigrants, stated that the honorable member for Sturt was trying to climb on the band-wagon by advocating the adoption of a different policy and that is certainly a charge of insincerity. Another member of the Opposition made a definite charge of insincerity. I cast the charge of insincerity back in the teeth of honorable members opposite. If there has been any insincerity it is on the part of those who first supported the Labour party’s policy in regard to hostels, and who have now turned against it. Few honorable members have taken the same personal interest in this matter as has the honorable member for Sturt, who is deserving of our praise and thanks. I again ask the Government to consider seriously, as I believe it will, the honorable member’s suggestions for improving conditions at immigrant hostels.
– The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) suggested that unemployment was not as bad as it might be, and claimed that the situation was improving. He stressed the importance of immigration for the defence and development of the country, but he failed to state why the Government has found it necessary to reduce the immigration intake by 50 per cent. Of course, the reason is that the Government’s economic policy is so feeble that the community can no longer absorb the newcomers. The Government knows that every immigrant who now land* in Australia will become one more unemployed person.
Honorabe members opposite claim that the economic troubles of the country are due to insufficient production. If we examine the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service it becomes evident that the Government is not concerning itself with improving industrial relations as a method of improving production. It is proposed to reduce the number of employees in the industrial relations section from 38 to 31, and expenditure from £37,760 to £33,968. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), speaking in the debate on the budget, branded Australian workers as inferior to American workers in the matter of production, and in the course of his speech he gave a fine exhibition of gross ignorance.
– Ha3 the honorable member analysed the production figures
– I have, and the figures show that from 1909 to 1941 the average annual increase of production was 2.1 per cent. Since 1949, production in the United States of America has risen by about 5^ per cent, each year. Rising productivity in the American economy reflects forces more far reaching than merely improved efficiency on the part of the worker. New techniques have speeded the pace of economic life everywhere. In the last 50 years, trade and. commerce have had the benefit of gradually improving streamlined trains, highway trucks rolling over roads constructed specially for speed, speedy air freight and air mail services, plus teletype communication and fast, long distance telephone services-. Speed of movement and communication alone greatly increased the efficiency of the American economy. The American Federation of Labour early recognized the importance of relating wages to increased productivity, and as far back as 1925 it adopted a programme which was expressed in the following terms: -
Social inequality, industrial instability and injustice must increase unless the workers’ real wages, the purchasing power of their wages, coupled with the continuing reduction in the number of hours making up the working day, are progressed in proportion to man’s increasing power of production.
Fox the last 27 years at least, that principle has been accepted by those responsible for industrial relations in the United States of America. As a part of the over-all programme of economic stabilization during the present period of increasing defence production, Labour has accepted, and has supported, the wage stabilization programme, claiming all the while, however, that wage increases must reflect increased productivity. The permissible increase in wage units is controlled in America, by the “Wage
Stabilization Board. In January, 1951, the federation submitted that, in broad terms, the denial of wage adjustments based upon increased productivity served only to enhance the profits of employers. American employers say, in effect, “ Wages should rise in proportion to the increased productivity of the country “. That is where they differ from Australian employers, and that is the difference between the American system of wage fixing and the Australian system. The federation supported the claim that a share of the fruits of industrial progress and increased productivity would contribute greatly to the morale and efficiency of American workers, thereby adding to national stability. The Wage Stabilization Board acted on this proposal, and in May, 1951, agreed to permit wage increases based on productivity. At the present time the American Federation of Labour is pressing for an additional increase of 11 per cent, in the permissible wage variation in order to balance the increased productivity of f> per cent, in each of the last two years. On past performances, the Wage Stabilization Board should grant the increase. Once the increase is granted, the system of collective bargaining comes into play between the employer and the employee. The Wage Stabilization Board determines the amount by which wages should rise and it then becomes a matter of arrangement between workers and employers to set the maximum figure.
The statement of the Minister for External Affairs that the unions in America have to fight like wild cats for wage benefits is so much rot. The wagelevel in America is based on decisions, of the Wage Stabilization Board. Wage increases which are based on productivity gains are not inflationary. That is the basis on which the American Federation of Labour works. It is plain, unvarnished common sense that if the wage-level is harnessed to increased productivity inflation cannot occur. Under the American system, although production is continually increasing, huge profits are not allowed to accrue to employers because the American Federation of Labour is always able to extract from those in authority the just due of the workers responsible for such increased production.
I wish now to turn to our own industrial relations, to which the Minister for External Affairs has apparently turned his blind eye. “What a vast difference there is between the approach of the American Wage Stabilization Board to claims made by the Federation of Labour and the approach of Australian employers to wage fixing, as is illustrated by the case which is at present before the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration! The Minister for External Affairs and this Government oppose absolutely the American system of wage stabilization. The Government has no policy at all in relation to the promotion of proper industrial relations. Its members are the guilty men who persuaded the people of Australia to vote against the 1946 referendum proposals. Had those proposals been accepted by the people, an authority such as the American Wage Stabilization Board could have been established in Australia. Whether this Government likes it or not, it will finally be obliged to come back to recognition of the force of Labour’s ca36 during that referendum campaign. As far back as 1946 the Australian Labour party visualized the need for national control of employment. At that time Labour stated frankly that it did not want to take from the Commonwealth Arbitration Court any of its power. It recognized that the only function of the court is to settle disputes. The solution of our inflationary problems does not involve merely the settlement of a dispute, it is a much broader matter. The Australian Labour party stated at that time that employment in industry is tied in closely with tariffs for building up Australian industries, with bounties on production and with control of overseas marketing. The Commonwealth ha3 power to control those matters, but it has not the industrial power that should go with it. It is ridiculous that the Commonwealth should not have the power to make sure that the benefits of its laws on these other subjects are shared between workers and employers. It is on record that on the 22nd of November, 1938, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said -
It seeing curious, looking back on the matter at this1 stage, that the Constitution should have conferred upon this Parliament -power to control the problems of customs and excise, power to control the whole fiscal policy oi the continent, and made it an exclusive power, and yet, at the same time, should have refrained from granting to this Parliament power, the ancillary power, as I would have thought, to deal with the wages that should be paid and the conditions that should be observed in the great industries which were bound to be established and fostered under the fiscal policy of the country. . . . That anomaly is one which will continue to exist until more effective treatment of it is made possible by giving complete industrial power to the Commonwealth of Australia.
Until such time as that power is given to the Commonwealth it is idle for any Minister or for any government to seek increased production unless production is given the fillip that it needs.
– The honorable member should read the remainder of the passage to which he has just referred.
– All that I wish to say about the remainder of the passage is that the only reply of the anti-Labour parties to the Labour referendum proposals was that they represented a Communist trick.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
. -It is refreshing to hear the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), who is a New South Wales member, speaking about something other than unemployment. I was delighted to hear him giving his ideas about American labour conditions. It seems to me that the Australian Labour movement” could well follow the pattern of American labour. Class war is not advocated by the American labour movement. There are no classes in that country, nor is there envy of the man who has done well. The American workman says to himself, “ If my boss can get to that position by hard work, I can do the same “. Such an attitude is seldom adopted by Labour leaders in Australia. They endeavour to stir up class consciousness in a country where there is no justification for such an attitude. The honorable member forgets that there are approximately 150,000,000 people in America and that American labour leaders adopt a most sensible outlook. Until the people of this country and our alleged Labour leaders appreciate that increased production is the only way to achieve increased wages and to prevent inflation, Australia will have inflation and its citizens will not enjoy the standard of living which the American people enjoy. There seems to be a conspiracy among the New South Wales members of the Labour party in this House to play up the bogy of unemployment. It was reported in the press to-day that the New South Wales Minister for Housing had not been able to sign a contract for the construction of houses for many months.
– Because he does not want to sign one. When the Australian Loan Council met this year the States voted themselves £30,000,000 for housing and the Australian Government guaranteed to supply £22,000,000 of that amount. Yet the Minister for Housing in New South Wales has claimed that he cannot let a contract to build a home. The honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) said that, as a result of the action of the Australian Government, the New South Wales Government had had to reduce its works programme. During the last six years the New South Wales Government has had £190,000,000 for public works, but has not completed one major work. Opposition members have complained that the Government has not provided the States with sufficient funds. Let us ascertain what amounts were provided for public works by the last Labour Government. In the financial year 1946-47, the total loan moneys provided for public works throughout Australia amounted to £45,297,000, of which New South Wales received £14,726,000.
– There was a war on then.
– The war ended in 1945. In the financial year 1947-48, £62,621,000 was made available from loan moneys for public works in Australia, of which the New South Wales Government received £25,490,000. In 1948-49, £69,731,000 was allocated to all Australian Governments, of which New South Wales received £16,283,000. That was £9,000,000 less than that Government received in the previous year, yet it did not complain of the reduction. In the financial year 1950-51, the first year in which the present Government was associated with the provision of loan moneys, £165,166,000 was provided for public works throughout Australia, of which New South Wales received £40,744,000. In 1951-52, the members of the Australian Loan Council voted themselves £225,287,000. The Australian Government declared that the loan market would not provide that sum and announced that it was prepared to underwrite the loan to the extent of £125,000,000. The New South Wales Government has loudly proclaimed that the Australian Government has starved public works. Yet, out of the total moneys raised by the Australian Loan Council in 1951-52, the New South Wales Government received £64,000,000, which was £24,000,000 more than it received in the previous year.
I believe that the New South Wales Government and Opposition members in this chamber have conspired to create an unemployment scare because the New South Wales Government has been dismissing employees. For the current financial year the members of the Australian Loan Council voted themselves £247,500,000 of which £70,370,000 has been allocated to New South Wales. Yet the New South Wales Government has dismissed 600 employees from the State brickworks because that organization cannot sell its bricks. The same Government has dismissed 600 men who were working on the eastern suburbs railway, which should never have been commenced in any case. Work is to be terminated on the Keepit Dam, which should have been finished years ago because it is part of a very important scheme for increased production. The New South Wales Government has offered the excuse that the Australian Government will not provide the money necessary to complete these projects.
– That is true.
– Yet £70,370,000 has been allocated from Australian Loan Council funds for New South Wales. That is neary £6,000,000 more than that State received from this source last year and the Australian Government has agreed to find a certain amount of that money. The New South Wales Government is aggravating the unemployment position. Its supporters are arranging parades of workers from Keepit Dam through the various towns and blaming the Australian Government for not doing something to keep them employed, when the real trouble is that the New South Wales Government is not doing anything for them. Although £190,000,000 of loan moneys have been available to that Government in six years it has not completed one major public work.
The lack of housing is a very serious matter. If the New South Wales Government continued with its housing :scheme and expended the £12,000,000 which was allocated to it for this purpose by the Loan Council there would he no need to dismiss 600 men from the State brickworks and the 48 carpenters who have been dismissed from another project. The State governments have complained that the Australian Government has guaranteed only £22,000,000 of the £30,000,000 required for housing purposes, but the Australian Government guaranteed the whole £30,000,000 in July of this year. Yet the New South Wales Minister for Housing has complained that he has not been able to let a contract to build a house. That is pure eyewash. The New South Wales Government is trying to build a case against the Australian Government. It is not concerned about unemployment. The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Fitzgerald) mentioned the horrors of unemployment, but the Opposition is capitalizing on this situation. Opposition members imagine that if unemployment grows the Labour party will win the Senate election next year because they will be able to blame the present Government for it. But the public are not silly. They can read, and surely they will realize that while this Government has been in office more money has been expended on public works than ever before in the history of the country. It is futile and stupid for the State governments to indulge in this type of propaganda In doing so, they are aggravating the unemployment position by causing a lack of confidence.
The work that a bricklayer, for example, does each day is limited by his darg of 350 bricks, and people are beginning to refuse to pay him a full day’s pay for half a day’s work. Trade unions are very much to blame for the existing state of affairs. With the cost of house building so high, buyer resistance has developed. A man may want to build but he may not now be prepared to pay a bricklayer a full day’s pay to lay 350 bricks. He will decide to allow the construction of his building to wait. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) complained that the number of people in private employment had fallen. One of the reasons for that fact is that people who wish to build have decided to wait until employees are prepared to ?ive reasonable value for their money.
– Why did the honorable member sack some of his employees ?
– I have not sacked any of my employees. The honorable member was silly enough to ask me at one time how many men I had sacked during the last depression, and 1 was able to tell him that I did not put anybody off. After I had made the speech during which that interjection occurred, some one said to me, “Did you pay that mug to ask that question ? “ . I now desire, to deal with the important matter of immigration. The honorable member for Phillip said quite a lot about the immigration of Germans. As the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) pointed out, our immigration policy, which includes the immigration of Germans, was approved by the Immigration Advisory Council on which are represented all ex-servicemen’s organizations as well as the Australian Council of Trades Unions. It ill becomes the honorable member for Phillip, who had a nice cushy job in the Department of National Service during the last war, to criticize decisions on immigration that, have been made by ex-servicemen’s organizations. However, I am more concerned with British than with German immigration. In 1945, the chiefs of the services in Great Britain recommended to the British Government that the population of the United Kingdom should be reduced from 52,000,000 to 40,000,000.
Their idea was that 40,000,000 people could be supported by the laud within the United Kingdom whereas 52,000,000 could not. Voluntary bodies sprang up which called themselves migration councils. They evolved a scheme which they called Operation British Commonwealth, and their idea is to carry out the suggestions made by the service chiefs and to try to place suitable immigrants in industries in various parts of the British Commonwealth. Their ideas have not carried them very far yet, but they believe that their plans will eventually make the British Commonwealth as strong industrially and militarily as the United’ States of America. This matter is too important to be fully dealt with in debates such as this.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I now have it on the authority of the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Treloar), as a matter of supreme consolation and to my great inward peace and serenity of mind, that unemployment in Australia is a bogy. The honorable member has assured us that un- employment does not really exist. He has dissipated all my doubts on the matter of unemployment as the morning mist that rises from the Molonglo valley dissipates the sunshine! May I attempt to penetrate the armour of self-satisfaction, worn by the honorable member by outlining the grim reality of the situation as I know it. There are 1,200 unemployed Italian immigrants in Bonegilla camp at this moment. There are 600 unemployed Italian immigrants in the Greta camp at this moment and there are 100 unemployed Italian immigrants in Maribyrnong camp to-day. Moreover, there are 2,200 Italian immigrants under contract to come to Australia, or at present en route to this country - this land of milk and honey, this earthly paradise. Can the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) and the honorable member for Gwydir visualize the enthusiasm and the activity of our officials who are strutting throughout the length and breadth of Italy and inducing young mechanics from the great Alfa-Romeo works and elsewhere to come to this glorious land of plenty? No doubt those officials quite forget to inform the prospective immigrants of what we know to be the tragic denouement of their journey to this land; that they will face unemployment because our Government’s palsied hand has put a blight, temporary or otherwise, over the whole of our economy. I have been amazed at the blissful ignorance of unemployment that has been displayed by honorable members opposite who are well endowed with the goods of the earth. Not for them the privations and hardships of others! The Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McBride) described the immigrant hostels as tworoomed flats. He forgot to add that the hostels are converted woolsheds with walls of sisal, where the poor benighted immigrant has the supreme satisfaction more often than not of getting the morning dewdrops down the back of his neck.
– He is lucky.
– The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), who is also a member of the Australian Country party, has said that the unfortunate immigrant that I have described is lucky. The Australian Country party is founded on broad acres, land aggregation and the most sordid materialism that ever afflicted any organization.
The honorable member for Canning interjecting,
– The honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) does not believe what I say. I recently had the honour of dining with some young Italian immigrants, and they delighted my musical sense and my sense of aesthetic appreciation by the songs that, they sang for me. There were tenors, bassos, and baritones. They sang operatic airs; and the one that had the most significance for me was Vola Columba, which means fly away little white bird. I realized then that their thoughts were flying back to their homeland while they were singing. They were thinking with all the humanity, love and affection that we all have, irrespective of race or nationality, about our homeland. Their thoughts and desires were the same as those that are locked within the breast of a II humanity. Here they were in this country, friendless, penniless, with little or no knowledge of our customs and conditions, and condemned, as far as I could judge, to perennial servitude on the magnificent sum of 5s. a week. They were young, active men. They were presumably the pick of Italy yet they had no work to do and were paid a miserable pittance of 5s. a week. Their real condition is a sharp contrast to the condition of primary producers as described by that remarkable representative of the wheat farmers, the Minister for Defence (Mr. McBride). He spoke in terms of millions of pounds, but I suggest that the name of Australia deserves to reek in the nostrils of the people of Europe unless we do the right thing and carry out the task that has been entrusted to us. That is properly to settle immigrants in this country.
– Is the honorable member for or against the immigration policy ?
– I am putting the facts before honorable members, and I do not propose to be diverted from my subject by interjections. I ask the Minister for Defence, that humanitarian, that apostle of liberalism, in short, that latter day saint, what he is going to do about this matter.
When these people looked forward to this voyage of discovery, this monumental adventure, and severed, presumably for all time, the roots that once bound them to their homeland, they knew that there, was full employment in Australia. I ask honorable members to look at the situation now. This Government stands indicted for its blissful unawareness of the events that are going on around it in the community. I repeat that it is common in Gellibrand to see a poor, pathetic, helpless, benighted new Australian who has lost his confidence, and stumbles literally and metaphorically on his way appealing for directions. “Where is the work? Where is this place ? “ he asks, and produces a piece of paper advertising work for young men. He carries under his arm a lunch bag, the symbol of the hope of his womenfolk that he will find work before he returns to them. Is that a subject of levity? It is the personifica tion of human tragedy and, on that ground, the Government stands condemned. We must put aside our serene complacency, our futile egotism, and, if we wish to realize our hope that Australia will one day be the greatest nation in the Pacific, we must defend the reputation that we have earned over the years. We cannot afford to discard it. This Government has the duty of rehabilitating itself in the eyes of the world, and it can do so only by according Christian justice to those unfortunates who to-day find themselves unemployed and the prey of stress and worry and fear. We are no longer men if we fail to redress their wrongs.
– I should not have risen to speak at this stage but for the speech of the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Fitzgerald), who made a most miserable attack on the head of a department by which he himself was employed before he was elected to this Parliament.
– And he was a good officer, too.
– I do not question that. It is also a good department and, during my temporary association with it, I have had nothing but the very best service from it and have observed on the part of the secretary a genuine and close interest in its activities. Honorable members who rise in this chamber to criticize officers of the Public Service, who have no opportunity to reply, are guilty of brutal injustice.
– The lies that he has told are contemptible.
– All I can say is that, like most honorable members opposite, the honorable member for Phillip has completely misrepresented the position. We have heard a speech in a calmer and more moderate vein from the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mullens). But, unfortunately, even he stooped to exaggerations and tried to misrepresent, the facts. Whether he did so deliberately or unintentionally I do not know. However, he called upon honorable members to visualize the conditions of immigrants living m woolsheds who woke in the mornings to find the dew falling down their backs. The truth is that, of 30 hostels where British immigrants are housed, only three are converted woolsheds. Thus, even if the honorable member’s illustration was correct, which I very much doubt, it completely exaggerated the position.
I was extraordinarily pleased to hear the speech of the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) because, if the view that he expressed represents the view of the Labour party, the industrial future of Australia is not entirely gloomy. The honorable member suggested that wages be linked with production. No other member of the Labour party has made that suggestion in the twenty years that I have been a member of this Parliament. I compliment him upon his attitude and assure him that it has my whole-hearted support. However, I direct his attention to a weakness in the speech that he made. He referred at great length to the attitude of labour in the United States of America, but he failed to inform the committee that, on vital basic principles, labour in that country does not subscribe to the doctrines to which labour in Australia has consistently subscribed. In 1916, Samuel Gompers, who was then president of the American Federation of Labour, took the lead in calling for a world labour congress.
– The Minister is going a long way back in history.
– But the significance of the facts has not changed. It was at that time that labour in Australia took its stand on certain Marxist principles. A statement recently issued by the United States Information Service in Canberra includes the following interesting information : -
Since its early days the American labour movement has been non-socialist and nondoctrinaire in its political character. In its development it was guided by the precepts of its founder, Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labour for almost half a century (until his death in 1924). Gompers steadfastly rejecter the efforts of the socialists to divert the labour movement from its basic economic aims.
As early as 1905 he said: “We are trade unionists in the United States because opportunities are afforded for free association, free speech, free assembly and a free press; and because we have these guarantees of freedom we find in our movement the opportunity for evolution rather than revolution.”.
I am extraordinarily gratified that, even at this late stage in Australia’s industrial history, one industrial leader at least has subscribed to the very sound principles that have actuated the labour movement in the United States of America for many years and have enabled that nation to become the foremost producing country of the world.We shall have great opportunities if we follow the example of the United States of America.
I shall refer briefly to the remarks of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), who as usual made a very thoughtful and moderate contribution to the discussion. The honorable gentleman asked me to give some attention to the subject of the statistics that are issued from time to time by the Department of Labour and National Service. Honorable members should recall that a Labour government established this department and laid down the principles on which it operates. During the regime of that. Government, the volume of information published by the department was infinitesimal in comparison with the volume of information it releases to-day. When I make that statement, I do not suggest for a moment that the information is as complete as wo could wish, and that it gives all the details that some honorable members may like to have ; but I point out that, instead of a few paragraphs in a monthly release, we now have a review consisting of five and a half typewritten sheets, which are full of information. Consequently, I contend that it is not a bad effort compared with what was done in the past. I can only add that we are now examining the position with a view to ascertaining whether additional useful information can he given for the benefit of honorable members.
I now propose to refer to a few of the most extravagant statements that have been made in this debate by various Opposition members. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) made the extraordinary statement “ that 90 per cent, of all British immigrants in hostels had decided to defy Commonwealth Hostels Limited, and had refused to pay the excessive charges. I desire to say a few words about the so-called excessive charges.
– They are excessive.
– I point out to honorable members that Commonwealth Hostels Limited was not formed for the purpose of making a profit, and. indeed, it is not making a profit. As fi matter of fact, the Treasury was obliged to provide more than £1,000,000 in order to make up a deficit in respect of its tariffs for the last twelve months. Because of higher costs, and our decision not to pass the whole of them on to the immigrants, we expect that the Treasurer will have to provide £1,600,000 this year in order to make up the loss. Whereas the average cost to Commonwealth Hostels Limited for every occupant of the hostels is approximately £4 a head a week, the average collection is approximately £2 10?. a head a week.
– Ha= the Minister examined the operating costs?
– I shall refer to that aspect, because reference has been made to the operating costs. There again, the statement was completely misleading. The allegation that 90 per cent, of the British immigrants in the hostels were refusing to pay the charges was, as usual, inaccurate. It is only because statements and suggestions of that kind are influencing the British imigrants that they refuse to pay the reasonable charges that are being asked of them. I shall give the facts, and. honorable members may judge for themselves how much notice can be taken of the statements made from time to time about the matter. It is admitted that there has been some organized opposition on the part, of British residents in hostels to the payment of increased tariffs, but the position is nothing like that stated by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. At the 9th August last 71 per cent, of the British residents in hostels in New South Wales and Queensland, and 84 per cent, in Victoria, were paying the tariff. South Australia, which is the State in which this gentleman has some influence–
-kick. - The honorable member !
– I withdraw the word “ gentleman “ and substitute the words “ honorable member “. Approximately 39 per cent, of the British residents of hostels in South Australia are paying the tariff. The honorable member for Hindmarsh claimed that 90 per cent, of them had refused to pay it. In Western Australia, 100 per cent, of British residents are paying the tariff. Therefore, I suggest that the statement of the honorable member for Hindmarsh is in line with, many of the other statements made by Opposition members about immigrants and unemployment.
The honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) also made an extraordinary statement. He is not in the habit of exaggerating ‘ matters to the same degree as is the honorable member for Hindmarsh, but even he fell into error when he suggested yesterday that the position of immigrants was desperate. He said that, in view of the fact that a resident of a hostel was obliged to pay such high charges for accommodation, he had no hope of purchasing or renting a house. The facts are not as stated by the honorable member for Port Adelaide.
– I repeat that many of the residents of hostels have no hope of purchasing or renting houses.
– The purport of the honorable gentleman’s statement was that British immigrants in hostels, because of the high charges, had no hope of obtaining houses for themselves. The facts are that for the quarter ended the 30th August, 1951, a total of 2,041 immigrants left hostels throughout Australia, and of that number, 5S4 went into their own homes in South Australia. In the following quarter, 1,928 immigrants left hostels throughout Australia, and 559 of them went into their own homes in South Australia. The figures for the next quarter are 1,895 and 453 persons respectively. In the quarter ended the 30th June last, 2,208 persons left hostels throughout Australia, and of that number 524 went into their own houses in South Australia. In the whole period, 8,072 immigrants left hostels throughout Australia, and found homes for- themselves. Incidentally, immigrants from foreign countries have done even better than have the British migrants.
– I still contend that many of the immigrants in hostels will not be able to purchase or rent houses.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member for Port Adelaide must not interrupt.
– I want the Minister to be fair.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! I want the honorable gentleman to be quiet.
– The Minister is making incorrect statements, and I should not be expected to listen to them in silence.
– The simple fact is that British immigrants are leaving the hostels, and finding houses for themselves. The position is not nearly so serious as has been suggested by the honorable member for Port Adelaide. I agree with the statement of the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mullens) that the Government has not been able to provide jobs for a. large number of Italian immigrants, but I remind him that those persons are not skilled artisans, as he has suggested, from motor factories or other factories. When they came to Australia, we were bringing unskilled immigrants here because of the demand for that kind of labour.
– They were rural workers.
– I admit that it is taking some time to provide employment for them, hut the Government is making a real effort to do so. Those immigrants are passing out of the camps at the rate of 400 or 500 a week. In the circumstances, that is as much as can be done.
– Where are they going ?
– They are going into various kinds of employment. They are working at services camps and the like. They are doing the jobs which they are fitted to do. Consequently, I suggest that they are not the forgotten legion.
– Oh, no!
– Well, they are receiving prompt attention, and being put into jobs in order to give them a chance to become assimilated into the Australian community.
Finally, I should like to refer briefly to the hostels, because various suggestions have been made about the reason for the establishment of Commonwealth Hostels Limited, and the tremendous administrative costs. I inform honorable members that the administrative costs of the central office are1s. 7d. a head for the residents, and the regional administrative costs are 2s. 7d. a head, making a total overhead charge of 4s. 2d. per capita. On any basis of computation, that overhead cost is reasonable. Since this organization has been conducting the hostels, it has been able to reduce the costs considerably, and, in that way, absorb increases of the basic wage without passing on to occupants the charges that otherwise would undoubtedly have been asked of them. Consequently, I believe that this is the proper method of managing the hostels. Although I do not suggest that the organization is perfect, it has given satisfaction to the immigrants themselves, and is relieving the Treasury of what otherwise might have been a much heavier charge than it is, even in the present circumstances.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed votes for the Department of Immigration, the Department of Labour and National Service, the Department of National Development and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Defence Services -
Department of Defence
Proposed vote, £730,000.
Department of the Navy.
Proposed vote, £47,290,000.
Department of the Army.
Proposed vote, £75,370,000.
Department of Air
Proposed vote, £55,830,000.
Department of Supply
Proposed vote, £12,730,000.
Department of Defence Production
Proposed vote, £8,050,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
.- I propose to deal first witu the Department of Defence Production. Last year, when the Parliament voted a sum oi £7,725,000 for this department, it appeared that the Government intended not only to expand production for war purposes to a substantial degree, but also to undertake the ground work on which it would be enabled in the event of the outbreak of war to mobilize and co-ordinate our defence production potential in the shortest possible period. But what is the position to-day? Existing factories in Western Australia have not yet been utilized for this purpose. I have in mind, particularly, a large and well-equipped factory in that State to which the Government has not made available sufficient work to enable it to keep running at its full capacity. When I directed the attention of the Minister for Defence Production (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) to that fact, he merely - replied that when the Government got its programme well under way sufficient work would be made available to utilize the full factory potential in not only Western Australia but also all the other States. He said that the chief of the department was surveying the defence production potential throughout Western Australia with the object of ensuring that trained operatives would be fully utilized in the Government’s programme. But nothing is being done even at this late stage to achieve that objective. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), with his usual telling oratory, explained that the Government’s original schedule had been interrupted. However, such an explanation is insufficient when, in fact, even the comparatively limited industrial potential in Western Australia is not being utilized to its fullest capacity. That observation applies not only to small hut well-equipped units, but also to the large tractor factory that the Chifley Government established in that State. As a result of the heavy importation of tractors, which competed on the market with its product, that factory was obliged to reduce production. However, the management believed that it could make good that loss by turning over the idle portion of its plant to defence production, and it sent representatives to the eastern States with the object of gearing its machinery for that purpose. In following that course, the controllers of that factory sought noi only to contribute towards the Government’s defence programme, but also to keep its well-equipped and expertly staffed plant in full working order. But that factory has been obliged to put off more and more employees.
Apparently, the Government fails to realize the degree to which technical productive facilities are not being used. Indeed, it appears to be prepared to permit factories that could be readily converted to defence production to reduce their potential. Although the capacity of textile factories in Western Australia is relatively small, there has been a substantial falling off in their output and increasing numbers of employees are being dismissed or are being retained only on a part-time basis.
– Defence production in Brisbane has increased by 20 per cent.
– If the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) is correct, I can only conclude that defence contracts are not being so placed as to ensure that a vailable man-power and machinery shall be utilized to their full capacity. Recently, at the request of the clothing trades union in Western Australia, T wrote to the Minister for Defence Production on this matter and, as a result, he made available to me an impressive list of orders that had been placed with textile factories in that State. The fact remains, however, that textile factories are continuing to dismiss operatives or to place them on part-time employment. It is difficult to comprehend such a development at a time when the Government declared that it was stock-piling materials for the defence forces. I can only assume that a position similar to that which exists in Western Australia also exists in the eastern States.
The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), in his budget speech, announced that the Government had decided to discontinue stock-piling for war purposes during the current financial year. T believe that to be a wise decision. Whilst I recognize the need to ensure that reasonable supplies of scarce materials shall be readily at hand in the event of the outbreak of war, at the same time it would be foolish for the Government to stockpile materials that are in short supply merely as a matter of course.
The Government is budgeting for an expenditure in the current financial year of £200,000,000 in respect of Defence Services. Government supporters repeatedly chide members of the Opposition, alleging that the Labour party is not interested in making provision for the effective defence of Australia. History proves that that allegation is not only a mischievous but also a damaging untruth. Every one who is familiar with the history of this country knows that in the two world wars the Australian people called upon Labour governments of the calibre of the present Opposition in this chamber to ensure that this country should be effectively defended. On each of those occasions, a Labour government prosecuted the nation’s war effort to the maximum of its resources. Nevertheless, members of the Labour party emphasize that in spite of the importance of defence preparations, defence expenditure should, at all times, be closely supervised. Labour governments have always been called to office in this country in wartime. That proves that the Australian Labour party has a very keen interest in the defence of Australia. After the termination of hostilities in “World War II. most people believed that we would enjoy a lengthy period of peace on earth, but the Labour Government that was then in office did not neglect the defence of Australia.
– Does that account for the honorable gentleman’s attitude to national service?
– The Minister for the Navy (Mr. McMahon) is relatively a newcomer to this chamber. As he knows little of the history of the Labour movement and of the practical effects of the administration of the former Labour Government, his interjection does not warrant an answer. After the war, the then Labour Government decided to introduce a balanced defence programme for this country. Despite the fact that most nations believed that the world would enjoy a lengthy period of peace, if not a permanent peace, that Government drew up a defence programme to involve an expenditure of about £250,000,000 over a period of five years. That programme was subsequently revised, and the new programme envisaged an expenditure of more than £290,000,000 over a five-year period. Labour did not make a one-sided approach to the subject. Its programme was worked out in consultation with the joint chiefs of staff of this country and with a high British defence authority, lt provided for all aspects of the defence of Australia. I consider that Labour’s defence programme compares favorably, in. terms of. both financial provision and degree of efficiency, with the present Government’s programme. All costs have risen considerably since 1945. An expenditure of £50,000,000 a year then would accomplish what an expenditure of three times as much could accomplish to-day. Labour planned its defence programme in the light of the best military advice that was available both in this country and in Great Britain, as well as on the best advice that was forthcoming from our great ally, the United States of America, and provided for defence purposes an amount that was very substantial indeed in the period of peace that immediately followed the war. I refute the charge made by supporters of the Government, soley for party political purposes, that the Opposition decries the defence effort. However, I point out that no country can afford to embark on a tremendous defence preparation without taking into account the industrial capacity of the country. That is one of the real factors that govern a nation’s security in time of war. A tremendous concentration on defence preparation, at the expense of weakening the industrial capacity of a nation, reduces that nation’s preparedness for war. The food-producing resources of a country should not be neglected. A defence effort, if it is to be successful, must be balanced.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. McCOLM (Bowman) ri0.15]. - I take this opportunity to congratulate the honorable member for Boothby (Mr.
McLeay) on his elevation to the position of Temporary Chairman of Committees. E regret that in the limited time that is available to me I shall be unable to say all that I should like to say on the proposed votes. To-day is the thirteenth anniversary of the outbreak of World War II. On this of all days, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke) has made the most amazing statement that a country must be limited in its expenditure on defence. My next observation also will be coupled with the significance of this day. If you will be patient with me, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I shall show that what I am about to say in relation to immigration has a direct bearing on the defence of this country. On last Saturday week the general secretary of the Australian Workers Union,- Mr. Dougherty, is reported to have stated that some immigrants, particularly those from Poland, are carrying on subversive activities, in a deliberate attempt to prevent the assimilation of immigrants into our Australian way of life. His fear is probably due to the fact that he realizes that the majority of the immigrants from Europe have seen socialism effectively at work, and realize that the salvation of the world-
– Order ! The honorable member may not deal with immigration during a discussion on the proposed vote for defence.
– With respect, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I remind you that I asked you to be patient with me. I shall now connect my remarks with the proposed vote. The point that I am trying to make is that many statements have been made by people in Australia who do not understand the mentality of immigrants from European countries.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) says “ Rubbish ! “. That is entirely in keeping with his mentality. These immigrants have been criticized by people who have not a true knowledge of their mentality. Unwittingly, perhaps, Mr. Dougherty summed up the attitude of the immigrants from Europe when he said that they were tremendously nationalistic. It is undoubtedly true that the Polish people, and indeed most of the peoples of central Europe, are intensely nationalistic. They have come to a country with a different way of life. They believe that Australia is one of the countries that betrayed the faith that they believe in, and for which they fought in 1939. On this day thirteen years ago the peoples of the British Commonwealth of Nations engaged in a war ostensibly to defend Poland. But what is the position of Poland to-day? Should we condemn a Pole, who, because of his inherent nationalistic outlook, states thai he lives for the day when he can return to Poland after that country has been freed from communism? Are we to condemn the Poles because they continue to believe in the things in which they have believed for centuries? What would we think of an Australian who went to a foreign country and, after a year, said that he would relinquish his birthright, and abandon all the things to which lie was born and in which he believed? Would we have any regard for him if he said that, although he was an Australian, now that he was in a new country the things to which he was born meant nothing to him?
The. TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! I ask the honorable member to relate bis remarks to the Estimates that are under discussion, and to refrain from canvassing immigration.
– I submit that my remarks are relevant, to the Estimates under discussion. The future defence of Australia lies in the hands of new Australians as well as of old Australians.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm) had an opportunity to discus1; immigration when the Estimates for the Department of Immigration were under consideration. The committee is now considering the Estimates for the defence departments. I submit the honorable gentleman should relate his remarks to those Estimates, more especially because the “ guillotine “ is in operation.
– The honorable member for Bowman has stated that the responsibility for the future defence of this country rests not only in the hands of natural-born Australians, but also in those of new Australians - immigrants to this country. I submit that is is perfectly in order for him to refer to immigration and to link it with the defence of Australia.
– The honorable member for Bowman must not continue to discuss immigration.
– In deference to your ruling, Mr. Temporary Chairman, and -against my feelings on the matter, I shall not continue that line of argument. I still maintain that the future defence of Australia rests as much with new Australians as with old Australians. I believe that Mr. Dougherty has spoken in the way in which he has done because he realizes that these, people know what socialism means.
The main point that I wish to discuss to-night is the establishment of a court to hear appeals from decisions of courts martial. To my mind, such’ a court is very necessary. I remind the committee that in 1951 the British Parliament passed the Courts Martial (Appeals) Act, which provides that a member of any of the three British fighting services who has been convicted and sentenced by a court martial may lodge an appeal with a special court established for that purpose. I suggest that Australia should establish a similar court. I make that suggestion for a number of reasons. I realize it will evoke criticism from many quarters, mostly from people associated with the Australian armed forces.
– What about conscientious objectors ?
– If the honorable member for Hindmarsh does not know it already, let me tell him now that conscientious objectors are dealt with, not by courts martial, but by civilian magistrates. I believe that at the present time members of the Royal Australian Navy serving in Australian warships in Korean waters are under the jurisdiction of the British Admiralty, and, therefore, are entitled to the benefits of the British Courts Martial (Appeals) Act 1951. I may be wrong about that, but I have been led to believe that that is the legal position. I say that all Australian seamen should have a right to- appeal against decisions of courts-martial, irrespective of whether they are under the jurisdiction of the Australian naval authorities or of the British Admiralty. The British legislation was introduced by Mr. Strachey, a gentleman for whom 1 have very little personal regard. It was discussed by the House of Commons on non-party lines. Only two members of the House disagreed in principle with the legislation. One of them was a Communist, and the other was a little befogged about the matter. The measure was supported by an overwhelming majority of the House of Commons, Respective of party affiliations. Most of those who spoke in favour of it had had considerable experience in the British forces.
I know that Australian court-martial procedure is, in some respects, different from the British procedure, but if some members of the Royal Australian Navy are, in certain circumstances, to have a right of appeal against the findings of courts-martial, that privilege should be enjoyed by every member of the Australian, fighting forces. I do not consider it to be right that if a member of the Royal Navy were transferred to an Australian naval vessel, he should be required to forgo his right to appeal to the court to which I have referred, merely because he had been so transferred. From the days of Richard I., experience has shown that, whenever a martial body is formed, a special code of laws must be evolved to deal with the discipline of that body. If a court were established to hear appeals from decisions of courtsmartial, the military authorities would not be deprived of any right that they have now, but men who had been compelled to undertake military service would continue to enjoy a right that they had enjoyed as civilians. That right should not be taken from a man because he has been compelled to serve in the fighting forces of his country.
What I am about to say now is based on third-hand information, but I am fairly sure that that information is correct. Under our present court-martial procedure, the Judge-Advocate General is supposed to review the proceedings and decisions of courts-martial. I ask the Minister for Defence (Mr. McBride) to ascertain the time that elapses before cases are brought before him. I want to know whether proceedings of courtsmartial are brought to the notice of the Judge-Advocate General in time for him to prevent miscarriages of justice. I have every reason to believe that, in some instances, there are such long delays in forwarding the records to the JudgeAdvocate General that, by the time he has considered them and decided that the decisions of the court were wrong either legally or factually, a miscarriage of justice has occurred, because the man concerned has already served his sentence. That is why I ask the Government to give every consideration to the establishment of a special appeals court, to deal with appeals against the verdicts of courts- martial, in line with the court that has been established in the United Kingdom under the 1951 legislation.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm) stated that I had claimed that we ought to limit our defence at the present time, in spite of the fact that this is the thirteenth anniversary of the outbreak of the last war. I said, in fact, that an effective plan for defence must have regard not only to the provision of active defence forces, but also to our industrial capacity, which is so vital in time of war, and to the food production front, which is equally important in wartime.
.- During our consideration of the defence Estimates we should cast our minds back to the last budget. which was subjected to criticism by the Labour party, because it considered that last year’s defence vote of £181,703,000 was too great to be expended on defence alone. The Labourparty took the view that such a huge defence vote would throw the national economy out of balance. Events have proved our opinion to have been correct. The proposed vote for Defence Services this financial year is £200,000,000. Again, the Labour party contends that the expenditure of such a huge sum on defence alone might have the effect of worsening our economic position, and that a deterioration of our economic position’ would not be conducive to the adequate defence of this country. After all, £200,000,000 represents one-fifth of the entire budget, and a large proportion of the national income. Our opponents have alleged that the Labour party’s criticism of the proposed expenditure of such a huge sum on defence indicates that it is not in favour of maintaining an adequate defence of Australia. We are also accused of being unpatriotic. In view of such accusations the time is opportune to re-state the Labour party’s policy in relation to defence in all its aspects.
– Which policy?
– The policy of the federal executive of that party, which is as follows: -
The Government has attempted nothing in that direction notwithstanding the fact that almost three years ago the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) cited predictions that World War III. would begin in 1952 or not later than 1953. The statement of policy continues: -
In World War II. the Labour party clearly demonstrated its competence to mobilize the entire resources of the nation, after the failure of the previous non-Labour Government to attend to complete mobilization. The statement of policy continues: -
In order to amplify further the policy of the Labour party, the statement continues - 1.The Australian Labour party expresses its intense abhorrence of war and believes that the Commonwealth Government should endeavour to establish and maintain friendly relations with other nations.
Incidentally, one of the important industries concerned would be primary industry, which is responsible for adequate food production. The statement continues : -
We believe that the proposed vote of £200,000,000 will not be expended properly. Its appropriation for defence, as such, alone, will throw the national economy out of gear. We consider that a portion of that amount should be diverted to other important matters that have a large degree of essentiality in any preparations to meet aggression against this country.
– Such as what?
– Roads, for instance. The roads of New South Wales are inadequate. We have not sufficient trunk roads for defence purposes in the event of an attack on us. Breaks of gauges at the borders of some States render our railways highly inefficient for the quick movement of troops and supplies in war-time. We believe that a start should be made on the standardization of railway gauges throughout the Commonwealth as soon as possible, because such work would have an important bearing on our defence and would place in employment many people who are at present unemployed.
Other works essential to adequate defence include the proper maintenance of harbours. I made a statement in this chamber to-day about certain State public works that are being discontinued because of lack of money. It can be argued that the grants to the States have been increased. We accept that as a fact. But the States are still not obtaining enough money for their needs. Vital work on roads, railways and harbours, and the maintenance of artificial harbours is being discontinued because the States, which are the responsible authorities in relation to them, are unable to obtain the necessary funds to do it. I believe that a portion of the defence vote should be diverted to such essential activities, which are as important as is the provision of an active defence force. Work on the breakwater walls and artificial harbour at Port Kembla has been stopped because of lack of funds. Work has also been stopped on Newcastle harbour for the same reason. Both of those harbours are important to our defence, because most of our iron, steel and coal is shipped through them.
I turn now to food production. I believe that a part of this proposed vote should be diverted to make possible assistance to the States to achieve an increase of food production. We cannot fight a war on empty stomachs, which we shall have to do if we ignore the development, of the essential industries and the completion of essential public works. Statistics show that food production in Australia has fallen. Wheat acreage is as low to-day as it was in 1925, notwithstanding the fact that we have 2,000,000 more people to feed than we had them It is due to the diversion of so much money to military defence that we lack adequate housing, hospital accommodation, transport facilities, schools, and the domestic comforts that are so essential to the home front in the event of war. In any conflict, much must necessarily depend upon successful defence on the home front.
I shall refer now to a matter that I have raised in this chamber on previous occasions. It concerns my own electorate. Many military establishments in New South Wales, built before World War I., still occupy their original sites. To-day, instead of being out in the bush as they wore 40 years ago, they are in the thickly populated metropolitan areas, with the result that bombing and artillery practice, which is essential to the training of fighting forces, is affecting houses in adjacent localities. Ceilings are cracking, plaster is falling off the walls, and the houses are deteriorating seriously. Hundreds of houses are affected along George’s River, particularly at Picnic Point, East Hills, and as far out as Liverpool. The Government should move those establishments to the hinterland. Surely there is plenty of barren country that is most suitable for this kind of military training. I hope that the Minister for Defence will give early attention to this matter. In conclusion, I emphasize again that, in my opinion, the £200,000,000 provided in the Defence Estimates is not to be expended in the right way. Some of this money, at least, could be more wisely expended in the manner that I have indicated on projects that are just as essential to our security as are military preparations.
– Much that has been said by the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) will find agreement on this side of the chamber. Undoubtedly some defence work is not being undertaken that should be undertaken; but I do not think that any defence work is being carried out that should not be carried out. In other words, if one looks at the matter calmly and rationally, one comes to the conclusion that there is little that could be cut out of the defence programme, although, undoubtedly, some things could be added to it. If the Defence Estimates are to be criticized at all, therefore, it is not for what is in them, but for what is not in them. That is where the argument of the honorable member for Banks falls clown because, although one can agree that many things that should be done are not being done, one cannot agree that the things that are being done are wasteful and should not be done. I am one of those who stand by the Estimates that have been presented to the committee insofar as they go. but who criticize them on the ground that they do not go far enough. I find myself diametrically opposed to members of the Opposition who have been bowling out against the expenditure involved in these Estimates and demanding that it be curtailed. If the honorable member for Banks and I agree at all, it is because he himself is in disagreement with the majority of his party.
I come now to what I consider to be one of the most important aspects of defence, and one which I believe is dealt with inadequately in these Estimates. I refer to the defence minerals programme. Under Division 161, the estimated expenditure on defence mineral requirements is set down at the derisory figure of £45,000. That is absurd. In the light of Australia’s mineral wealth, and the quantity of minerals that could be produced, that allocation is totally inadequate as our contribution to the defence of the free world. I have before me a copy of the policy of the United States Defence Minerals Exploration Administration. That administration advances up to 50 per cent, of the cost of prospecting for one class of minerals, up to 75 per cent, of the cost of prospecting for a second class, and up to 90 per cent, of the cost of prospecting for a third class which includes two or three minerals in which Australia is far richer than the United States of America, and of which Australia could contribute far more than America can to the free world. I refer to beryl, strategic mica and uranium. An American geologist stated recently that £1 expended on mineral exploration in Australia would return as much as £9 or £10 expended on similar work in the United States of America because Australia is very rich in some strategic minerals and, in addition, is relatively unexplored. The greatest contribution that we can make to the defence of the free world is in the production of vital scarce minerals. Whilst we must maintain the forces that are needed for the protection of the sources of production, the actual production of minerals is far more important than any military, naval, or air contribution that we could make. I refer particularly, of course, to uranium. Our resources of uranium are sufficient to tip the whole balance of power in favour of the free world. It is admitted that our uranium prospects have not been, fully explored. Only the surface has been scratched, but, even in the light of our present knowledge, it is clear that our uranium deposits are incomparably richer than any others available to the free world. I emphasize to the committee that uranium is fundamental to the defence of the free world and that our failure to develop our deposits of this metal is itself a defence bottleneck. Our great trouble has been that we have followed too closely the practices established by the Labour Administration.We have not had the courage to break away from these practices. We have placed the development of our uranium resources in the hands of a government department, and are not allowing free enterprise to play any part in this important national work. That is in marked contrast with what is being done in the United States of America. The following is an extract from an American atomic energy booklet which was revised last October : -
It is the policy of the Federal Government to encourage rather than to restrict, the independent prospecting for and the independent mining, processing, and sale of uranium.
In accordance with its policy to encourage the development of private enterprise of the uranium resources of the United States, the Atomic Energy Commission follows the practice of buying uranium ores, concentrates, or refined products after they have been mined or processed.
That is in direct contrast with what is being done here where the department seems to be applying a policy of empire building rather than endeavouring to obtain the maximum quantity of uranium. With the permission of the committee I shall quote in extenso from an article written by Mr. Phillip Merritt, geological adviser to the uranium procurement authorities in the United States of America who, in many respects, must be regarded as the leading world authority on this subject. The article, which was published in the Canadian Mining and Metallurgical Bulletin reads as follows : -
In order to satisfy obvious security requirements during the war, it was necessary to proceed with this exploration programme, both in Canada and the United States, as secretly as possible. With the end of the war, and the revelation that an atomic weapon had been developed, however, secrecy in exploration was no longer required.The important thing was to get on with a broadened exploration programme.
The United States Atomic Energy Commission and the Atomic Energy Control Board of
Canada have, therefore, pushed ahead on the development of exploration programmes which have enlisted the talents of industry, the individual prospector, educational institutions, and government agencies. The outstanding discoveries and developments, both in Canada and the United States, during the past few years, lead me to believe that our programmes are sound ones.
Exploration Programme in the United States.
Stimulation of the active search for radioactive ores by prospectors and the mining industry is the keystone of the uranium exploration programme of the United States Atomic Energy Commission. We continually encourage private exploration activities; this is in line with the commission’s over-all policy, which recognizes that the success of the atomic energy programme is dependent upon complete co-operation, interest, and support by private industry. This stimulation is being carried out by the Commission through the establishment of:
1 ) A guaranteed price schedule for uranium-bearing carnotite or roscoelitetype ores of the Colorado Plateau ;
A guaranteed minimum price for high-grade ores and refined products derived from such ores;
A bonus for the discovery and the production of the first 20 toils of uranium ore . . .
I submit that that is in direct contrast with what is being done in Australia, and that a complete overhaul of the Australian programme is long overdue. The steps that we must take forthwith are these : First, we must establish an assured market for uranium for the benefit of all those who use it and we must fix and publish a reasonable price for it. At present the Australian price is at the ridiculously low figure of 17s. 6d. per lb. The price in the United States of America is very much higher and is fixed on a sliding scale. For rich ores the price ranges up to five or six dollars per lb. or, in other words, an amount equal to four or five times the Australian price. Secondly, we must give some assurance of title to those who discover uranium. In the States of the Commonwealth a good deal of confusion exists as the result ‘of bad liaison between the State Departments of Mines and the corresponding Commonwealth authority. I am afraid that blame for it rests upon the Commonwealth and not upon the States. In the Territories of the Commonwealth there is even greater confusion, a; every one who has recently visited the Northern Territory well knows. It is necessary not only to have just mining laws, but also that the law of mining title shall be well known and established, so that persons may be encouraged to prospect. Although I criticize the present Administration on this matter I do so only because it has followed too closely the policy applied by the Labour Government. Let Opposition members derive what cold comfort they can from that fact. The Government should have the courage to break away from Labours policy on this matter.
Finally, let me repeat that Australia has great opportunities and immense responsibilities in this matter. Our opportunities lie in the fact that our land seems to contain riches of uranium greater than those available anywhere else in the world. Our responsibilities are great because the world is now in crying need of uranium. If the defence of the free world depends upon the quantity of uranium available to it - and it undoubtedly does - and if there remain improspected in Australia the greatest potential resources of uranium available in the free world, does not it behove us to do something about the matter? Is the proposed vote of £45,000 for defence mineral requirements sufficient? I am well aware that that amount will be supplemented by other small amounts available from the votes of the Bureau of Mineral Resources. Capital for the development of the Rum Jungle deposits will be made available from overseas, but for the prospecting of other areas, which may well be equally richly, endowed, the proposed vote of £45.000 is utterly and completely inadequate. The provision of millions of pounds is necessary for that purpose.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
The following papers were presented : -
Conciliation and Arbitration Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 71.
Copyright Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 63.”
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, Nos.60,68,69.
Defence Preparations Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No.66..
Designs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No.64.
Hospital Benefits Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 72.
Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952. No. 70.
Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinances - 1 952 -
No. 20 - Electricity Supply.
No. 21 - Workmen’s Compensation.
No. 22 - Pearling.
No. 23 - Darwin Administration (No. 2).
No. 24 - Dingo Destruction.
No. 25 - Regulations Publication.
No. 20 - Police and Police Offences.
No. 27- Public Health.
Passports Act - Regulations - Statutory
Rules 1952, No.67.
Patents Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 61.
Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of National Development - A. W. Lindner.
Public Service Arbitration Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No.65.
Trade Marks Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 62.
House adjourned 10.59 p.m.
The follovjing answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. Present statistical compilations do not enable an answer to be given. The number of recipients for the Sydney metropolitan area as a whole was - 31st December, 194’) - Males 89, females 9; 9th August, 1952 - males (3,1.98, females 1,599.
Present statistical compilations do not enable an answer to be given to (6) and (c) of question 4 or to question 5.
Some were still in employment when they registered and others would probably have obtained employment . hut not have notified the District Employment Office by the 25th July, 1952.
s asked the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
How many persons were employed in Australia at the 30th June, 1951, and at the -ami; date this year by (a) the Commonwealth Government, (6) the six State governments, (c) the Commonwealth Bank, and (d) the private trading banks?
– Complete statistics to enable all this information to be assembled are not available in the Department of Labour and National Service and it has been necessary to seek the assistance of the Commonwealth Statistician. The preparation of the material required will probably take some time, but I shall see that the honorable member receives it as soon as possible.
y asked the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y asked the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
I. (o) Unfilled vacancies registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service in respect to the areas covered by the Newtown and Mascot district employment offices as at 25th July, 1052, were as follows: -
There are no statistics available specifically relating to the Grayndler electorate.
Under no circumstances arc particulars of the requirements of employers using the Commonwealth Employment Service made available, except, obviously, in relation to the actual placement of a registrant for employment.
The numbers of registered vacancies are not estimated. The figures given represent tha number of jobs on the active vacancy register maintained by the district employment offices being jobs obtained by canvass of employers or notified to the district employment offices by employers.
See answer to question 2. and answer to question 78 on notice-paper 82. “Waterfront Employment.
asked the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice, -
e. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The employment of tally clerks is not regulated by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board, as are waterside workers, or by any other government authority, and the information sought by the honorable member with respect to tally clerks is therefore not available. The information sought with respect to waterside workers is as follows: - 1 and 2. The weekly averages of hours worked and earnings per registered waterside worker in the six capital ports for the AprilJune quarter, 1952, are as follows: -
a asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
z asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
t asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : -
Comparable details to those for 1951-52 werenot collected under the statistical classification, operating before 1945-46.
d asked the Minister acting for the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minis ter acting for the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will the Government provide rent-free telephone services to bed-ridden totally and permanently incapacitated soldiers who are being eared for in private homes?
– The policy, which has also been followed by previous governments, is to apply the appropriate rental charges in all cases. Whilst the matter is viewed most sympathetically, it is regretted that the department is unable to discriminate between one section of the community and another.
y asked the Minister acting for the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 September 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1952/19520903_reps_20_218/>.