20th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration. Are there in Australia at present any unemployed rural workers or men who are capable of and willing to undertake that kind of employment? If so, what is the purpose of the Government in proposing to bring additional immigrant rural workers to Australia when it has been unable to provide employment for all the persons who are offering for rural work?
– The honorable member’s question assumes some facts that I am. not necessarily prepared to assume to bc true. I shall confer with the Minister for Labour, who has the relevant statistics, and give the honorable member a .reply later.
– Has tho Minister representing the Minister for Immigration been informed of tho decision reached yesterday by the Australian Council of Trades Unions that immigration should be discontinued immediately? If so, has lie considered the effect that such a decision may have?
– 1 read a report. of the matter, and I am sorry that rank and file members of the Australian Council of Trades Unions have seen fit to differ from their . own executive, and also, I believe, from the Labour party in this House.
– They showed extra good judgment.
– That may be the opinion of the honorable member for East Sydney,- but it is not the opinion of the majority of his party.
– The Minister should not reply to interjections when answering a question.
– In 1949, 68,000 immigrants were brought to Australia by the Labour Government, and in the following year the number was increased to 167,000.
– Order 1 The Minister is getting well beyond the scope of the question.
– In the next year 175,000 immigrants arrived in Australia, but since then the number brought here by the present Government has-been, considerably less. The Government has now decided to reduce the intake by half, and every one will agree that that is a desirable minimum.
– In view of the fact that the Government has now restricted its immigration programme and that the recently completed immigrant hostel at Mowbray is not at present occupied, will the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration state whether a part of that hostel could be made available temporarily to house Australian families that are unable to find accommodation 2
– I shall confer with the Minister for Labour and National Service and let the honorable member have a reply to his question as soon as possible.
– Can the Minister say whether the Premier of South. Australia is still willing to equip British immigrant hostels with kitchenettes provided that the Australian Government will make the necessary funds available? Has the South Australian Premier requested funds for this purpose and, if so, with what result?
– I do not know whether t.he Premier of South Australia is willing to take the action that the honorable member has mentioned, but I shall have the matter investigated and give him a reply to his question. This matter was very fully canvassed during the debate on the Estimates yesterday.
– Will the Minister actin;; for the Postmaster-General inform the House of the position with regard to the conversion of coin reception boxes in public telephone booths to permit them to take the increased charges for telephone calls?
– A contract has been let for the manufacture of machines of a new type suitable for the increased charges. It is hoped that by early next year, some experimental boxes will be available. When they have been proved to be suitable, they will be put into permanent use.
– In view of the Government’s decision to dispose of the Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool, has the Minister for Supply consulted the Minister for Shipping and Transport with a view to ascertaining the needs of the port of Darwin for equipment of the type that is to be sold? If no such consultation has taken place, will the Minister have investigations made to determine what are the needs of that port? If the type of equipment required is available from the pool, will the Minister ensure that such equipment is set aside before the pool is dispersed?
– The decision to dispose of the equipment was reached by Cabinet and all factors were taken into consideration including the position at Darwin and other Australian ports. However, as I stated yesterday, my interest in the matter relates to the disposal of the assets. I shall confer with the Minister for Shipping and Transport and give the honorable member a more complete answer.
– My question to the Minister for Defence refers to conscientious objectors and the statement that was made by the Minister yesterday that it is not the Government’s intention to give conscientious objectors the right of appeal. In view of the fact that no conscientious objector could object to endeavouring to save the lives of wounded soldiers, will the Minister consider refusing all exemptions to conscientious objectors and giving them an opportunity to join the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps?
– The law provides that conscientious objectors shall have the right of appeal to a magistrate who determines whether their objections are bona fide and decides whether they are to be allotted non-combatant duties or have total exemption, but I am prepared to take into consideration the suggestion that has been made by the honorable member.
– Has the Prime Minister yet had time to consider the representations recently made to him in an interview with the director of the State shipyard at Newcastle about the placing of orders with the yard? If so, has the right honorable gentleman any information to give the House?
– I saw the director of the shipyards the other day, and yesterday I wrote to the Premier of New South Wales telling him that I was in communication with my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I cannot advance beyond that point yet.
– In view of the recent statement by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture that the placing of new settlers on the land, with a view to increasing primary production, is a matter for the State governments, will he con vene a meeting of Statu Ministers for Agriculture with a view to drawing up a uniform land settlement scheme similar to the War Service Land Settlement Scheme ?
– No useful purpose would be served by a uniform scheme of land settlement. I am constantly in communication with State Ministers of Agriculture through the Australian Agricultural Council, and they have agreed to a programme for the expansion of primary industries which involves the opening up of new farms. They and their governments know well that land settlement is the constitutional responsibility of the State governments. I have put it to them that, having regard to the economic needs of the nation, the State governments should, from the resources available to them, give priority tosuch matters as transport services, &c, which have a direct bearing upon the settlement of new areas, and the stimulation of primary production. However, no State government has indicated that it is willing to give such priority. [ am in constant contact with the State authorities, and I am sure that if they put forward any constructive suggestion as to how the Commonwealth can aid them in the discharge of their constitutional responsibilities their representations will receive serious consideration. It is not enough, however, for State governments to select a particular activity and then to ask the Commonwealth to put up the money for it. That is a course of action which they are rather prone to follow.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Health by saying that 1 have been informed by certain people who are over 60 years of age, and who are not pensioners, that they have heard that, because of their age, they are not acceptable to insurance companies and therefore will not be able to participate in the full benefits of the proposed medical benefits scheme. Can the Minister inform me whether that information is correct? If it is not, will he state the facts of the situation ?
– As I have already stated in this House, until three or four months ago most organizations which provided hospital and medical benefits imposed an age limit, but the major organizations, such as the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited, the Hospital Contribution Fund of New South Wales and the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows Friendly Society in New South Wales, which are very big organizations, have now removed the age limit and permit aged people to insure forboth hospital and medical benefits. I, myself, am a little over 60 years of age and I have been able to insure already.
– Can the Prime Minister inform me whether the Australian Loan Council has fixed a ceiling rate of interest for government loans? If it has, will the right honorable gentleman inform me of that rate? Is the Prime Minister aware that the State Treasurers will not approve of loans the interest rate for which is more than £4 12s. 6d. per cent. per annum? Is he also aware that in Victoria it will be extremely difficult for government and semi-governmental bodies to raise loans for public works because there is active competition from private concerns which offer interest rates between £4 15s. and £5 per cent. per annum ?
– Order! If the honorable gentleman has any more questions similar to that, I think that they should go on the notice-paper. In any «vent, they should be directed to the Treasurer, who, I , notice. is not present.
– The last part of my question is whether the Australian Government will assist local governing bodies, which are experiencing difficulty in raising necessary loans, to carry out urgent public works and to avoid retrenchments ?
– The last part of the honorable member’s question appears to bo a matter of policy, but I can deal with the earlier points mentioned by him. When he speaks of a ceiling rate of interest on government loans, I take it that he is thinking particularly of semigovernment loans, because in respect of government loans, which are issued by the Common wealth on behalf of the Australian Loan Council, there is no such thing as a ceiling rate. What happens is that when a loan is about to be floated, discussions concerning the 2’ate of interest occur between the members of the Australian Loan Council. Such discussions are usually conducted by correspondence. The rate of interest and the terms of issue are then decided upon. For example, the current rate of interest may be 3^ per cent, as the coupon rate on the loan; discussion occurs whether there will be an issue at par or otherwise. Each loan is dealt with by itself, not in accordance with some fixed rule that cannot be altered by the members of the Australian Loan Council. Semigovernment loans are referred to the Australian Loan Council under what is usually called a “ gentleman’s agreement “, not as a straight out obligation of law but by well established practice. For a long time there was a rule of practice that the rate of interest on a semi-government loan should maintain a certain relationship to the rate of interest on a government loan, a certain margin of interest being permissible. Because of the recent condition of the market, at the last meeting of the Australian Loan Council all the State Premiers, or most of them, felt that if they were not allowed to pay a higher rate of interest on semigovernment borrowing than would be produced by that margin they would not get their money at all,.-and it was therefore decided not to have a fixed margin that was not capable of being altered but to deal with each case as it arose on its merits. The result is that there have been issues of 4£ per cent, loans, and I think, of loans at £4 12s. 6d. per cent., and these issues have been made with varying degrees of success. The present position so far as semi-governmental borrowing is concerned is that the rate of interest has to be approved by the Loan Council from time to time on the merits of each application.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether, in view of the fact that the Government of Victoria nationalized the Metropolitan Gas Company some years ago, a transaction in which about £8,000,000 was involved, would this money be available to-day to pay the debts of the State Electricity Com missi on-
– Order ! I think that the honorable member is referring to a matter which is not the responsibility of the Australian Government.
– It refers to ‘ State loan moneys, Mr. Speaker.
– The State Electricity Commission of Victoria and the Metropolitan Gas Company, so far as I know, are not the responsibility of the Australian Government.
Question not answered.
– I desire to ask the Minister for the Interior a question relating to his announcement yesterday of a twopenny increase in all Canberra bus fares which was made only a few days after the discussion of the Estimates for his department. Is the Minister satisfied thai the system of accounting in the Transport Section of the Department of the Interior provides an accurate profit and loss account for omnibus services as distinct from other operations of the Transport Section ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is, “ Yes “.
– Will the Minister for Territories inform the House whether plans have been completed for the rebuilding of Rabaul on its original site and whether it is intended to construct new wharfs in order to provide additional shipping space? Are many permits being issued for the private construction of industrial plant, commercial buildings and accommodation? In the planning operation, has consideration been given to the future defence requirements of the area?
M.r. HASLUCK- Some time ago the Government announced its decision to rebuild Rabaul on the existing site at Simpson Harbour. Provision is made in the Estimates now before the Parliament for the necessary expenditure including construction of the wharf. The details of planning and construction are entirely a matter for the territorial administration and the Acting Administrator, Mr. Cleland, is pressing ahead with a good deal of vigour with the rebuilding of the town.
^ Mr. HAYLEN.- Has the Minister for Territories any jurisdiction relative to the money earned by aborigines as boxers or artists ? I am concerned that although men such as Dave Sands and Ron Richards have earned large sums of money they and their families have finally fallen into a state of destitution. The same fate has overtaken certain aboriginal artists. Is there any power vested in the Minister or his department to take control of the finances of such persons, and advise and protect them from exploitation?
– The administrative responsibility of the Australian Government in respect of aborigines is confined to those in the Northern Territory. Under the various ordinances of the territory, the employment of many aborigines is controlled through a permit system. When the employment of a native is so controlled we have a considerable responsibility for, and oversight of, his activities in order to ensure that he shall not be exploited and that any money that he earns or possesses shall be properly used. Any aborigines who do not come within the ambit of the ordinances of the territory act as ordinary citizens of Australia and look after their own affairs.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs, but if it is permitted I should like his answer to be supplemented by the Leader of the Opposition. Since provision was made for Her Majesty’s Opposition in this Parliament to be represented on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and since there is no sign except the apparent personal inclination of the Leader of the Opposition, that the Australian Labour party is likely to elect representatives to the committee, will the Minister take appropriate steps to till the vacancies on the committee from honorable members on this side of the House who are eager and willing to apply themselves to a study of foreign affairs in the interests of the people, the Parliament and the country?
– The proposal inherent in the honorable member’s question has been in my mind for some time. The only reason why there has been a delay in filling the vacant positions with honorable members from this side of the House has been my constant but so far unrequited hope that honorable members of the Opposition would decide to join this extremely useful and effective parliamentary body, the Foreign Affairs Coram i itf*. A great many months have elapsed since the committee was formed, and from various sources I had been led to believe that within a relatively short time the Opposition might reconsider its attitude. However, I believe that the time has come to accept the proposal made by the honorable member, that instead of wasting eight places on the Foreign Affairs Committee, that are at present unfilled, those places should be filled from this side of the House. That should be done, at least until the Opposition chooses to take advantage of this quite unique opportunity to increase its knowledge of vitally important international affairs. I shall most certainly take into account what the honorable member has said, and unless I hear from the Leader of the Opposition within a few days I shall take the action necessary to have the places on. the Foreign Affairs Committee filled with honorable members from this side of the House. I am grateful to the honorable member for raising this matter.
– As the question was partly addressed to me, may I indicate that if the Minister for External Affairs really wants the assistance of the Opposition on the Foreign Affairs Committee he might engage in a little exploration, and find and consider the proposal made by the Australian Ambassador to the United States of America, Sir Percy Spender, to the effect that definite power be given to a committee such as this to do some work, instead of its authority being greatly limited. If the Minister desires co-operation from the Opposition, and is willing to form a real Foreign Affairs Committee with real power, then he should take the course that I have suggested. If he fills the positions as he has indicated he will do, no doubt honorable members on the Government side will learn a lot more about foreign affairs. I agree that they need to do so. Indeed it may be useful to add more members to the committee for that purpose. However, if the Government desires to have a committee that will operate from a non-partisan viewpoint, let the Minister reconsider what may be termed the Spender proposals. Then he might receive a ready response from us to his suggestions.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. I am concerned about the possibilities that emerge from the precedent that has just been established by the asking of one question simultaneously directed to two right honorable gentlemen on different sides of the House. There is a standing order that covers statements by Ministers from which debates may arise. It seems to me that the adroit- submission of a question of the nature of that which has been asked by the honorable member for Riverina might lead to a debate between the two opposing sides of the House.
– The right honorable gentleman’s point of order is well taken. The Standing Orders provide that a question without notice may be directed to a Minister or a member in respect of any matter of which that Minister or mem ber has charge. I am accustomed to hear six or seven questions asked of Ministers who make some attempt to reply to them, but the proper course of action would be to put the questions on the notice-paper. My personal view is that we have long since reached the stage at which every question should be placed on the notice-paper so that a proper prepared answer could be given to it.
– I ask the Minister for Supply a question that concerns the difficulties experienced by the Joint Coal Board as a result of the Government’s failure to appoint a successor to the late Mr. R. Jack, who was the technical coalmining member of the board, ls it a fact that the decisions of the board must be made by a quorum of two and that, under present conditions, with only two members, who have equal voting powers, a disagreement on high policy matters can hamper the effectiveness of the board’s work ?
– Order I The honorable member is asking questions about matters that are dealt with specifically in the Coal Industry Act. He can ascertain the answers by reference to that measure. Furthermore, he has made a statement and has asked whether it is a fact. He is giving information instead of asking for it.
– Will the Minister inform the House of the action that the Government proposes to take with a view to allowing the Joint Coal Board to function as it was originally intended to function?
– Only the last question is in order.
– Not only has the honorable member given information, but also he has given wrong information. I shall refer his question to the Minister for National Development and obtain a reply.
– I remind the Minister for External Affairs of a statement that he made some time ago concerning the proposed establishment of legations at Rangoon and Saigon. Will he inform the House whether the legations have yet been established and, if so, give the names of the officers who have been appointed to the new positions?
– Australian legations have been established at Rangoon and Saigon and have been functioning for a number of months under Australian charges d’affaires. I hope soon to be in a position on behalf of the Government to nominate Australian Ministers from the Department of External Affairs for those important posts.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government is interesting itself in the discussions that are taking place for the purpose of arranging a cease-fire agreement in Korea. If so, what action is the Government taking in order to bring about an early settlement of the conflict?
– The Government is constantly informed of the progress of those discussions. As the honorable member knows, the commanding officer of the American forces is the CommanderinChief of the operations in Korea. Certain persons have been appointed to conduct negotiations for a cease-fire agreement on behalf of the United Nations. The Government is kept in touch with those negotiations. In common with all other participants, we should like to see an armistice established on proper terms but, as the honorable member knows, there have been great difficulties in the way of achieving that result.
– Can the Minister for External Affairs inform me whether it is a fact that the only issue which is delaying the proposed cease-fire in Korea is the repatriation of Chinese and other Communist prisoners of war held by tho United Nations forces? What is the view of the Australian Government on that position? Are any steps being taken by the Minister to obtain from the United Nations an authoritative ruling on the issue? Has the matter been reviewed recently in order to ascertain whether the obstacle to the truce can be overcome in that way?
– It is broadly true to say that the only matter in dispute which is delaying the reaching of a cease-fire in Korea is the repatriation of prisoners of war. The Australian Government adheres to the view, which is the view of the United Nations, that prisoners should not be forcibly repatriated. As the right honorable gentleman is aware, the matter of discussion and negotiation with the Communists in Korea on this issue has been debated for a long time. The Australian Government is kept constantly and currently informed of the progress of the negotiations and is able to make, and actually has made, a number of proposals designed to help the negotiations and to reach a decision. However, nr. decision has yet been reached. There i« no current situation that I can, with propriety, report to the House, but 1 point out that we have a constant opportunity to express our views, and we take every advantage of it if we have anything which, we believe, is worth, putting forward. I have no more to say to the House about the matter at the present time. It is not appropriate for me to report constantly to the House on the progress of the negotiations that are taking place at Pan Mun Jon. After all, the results of the discussions are accurately reported in general terms in the press. When there is any development to report to the House, I shall take the necessary action.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I point out, by way of explanation, that I believe it is competent for the Commonwealth, under the terms of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, to conduct an investigation of the administration of this scheme in the various States, if it considers that an inquiry is warranted. If I am able to place sufficient evidence before this House to indicate that an investigation is warranted in Queensland, will the Prime Minister consider the appointment of a select committee, or some other competent body, to conduct an inquiry into the operation of the scheme in that State, and particularly in the Zillmere area?
– The appropriate course is for the honorable member to provide whatever information he can on this matter to me, or the Minister concerned, and it can then he examined. Naturally, one would have to examine it before arriving at any conclusion about the course of action that could be taken.
Motion (by Mr. Kent Hughes) agreed to -
That leave be givento bring in a bill for an act to amend the Lands Acquisition Act 1906-1936.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– I move-
That, in accordance with the provisions of Che Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1947, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report, viz.: - The erection of a new taxation building at the corner of Adelaide and Wharf streets.. Brisbane.
Steps have been taken at the request of the Commissioner of Taxation to prepare sketch plans for and an estimate of the cost of erecting a multi-story office building at the corner of Adelaide and Wharf streets, Brisbane, to provide office space accommodation for the Taxation Branch. The proposal provides for a sub-basement, basement, ground floor and eleven other floors containing 150,000 square feet of office space and 24,150 square feet of storage space. The building will be of rigid steel frame construction encased in concrete, with reinforced concrete floors and stairs.. The estimated cost of the building is £1,687,500.
The urgency of the need for the accommodation to he provided under this proposal has been stressed by the Commissioner of Taxation. The Taxation Office in Brisbane is at present accommodated in premises owned by the State government and extensive inquiries have been and are being made with a view to procuring accommodation of a temporary nature in order to mitigate, to some extent, the difficulties that are being experienced by the taxation officers. I table the plans of the. proposed building and recommend for approval of the House that it be referred to the: committee for investigation and. report.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 3rd September (vide page 954).
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, £12,730,0.00;
Department of Defence Production
Proposed vote,. £8,050,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– A study of the estimates for the various defence departments reveals that in the current year, the Government proposes to spend £200,000,000 ondefence. That amount is 6 per cent. of the national income. It is interesting to look hack on defence estimates of the past two years and’ to note that the proportion of national income that is being spent on defence has been gradually increasing. In 1950-51, £148,000,000 or 4.8 per cent of the national income was spent on defence. Last year, defence expenditure was £170,000,000 or 5.3 per cent. of the national income, and this year the proposed expenditure will be 6 per cent. of the national income. Unquestionably, defence expenditure is inflationary. It involves the expenditure of a large sum of money for which there is no productive return, and it is one of the most potent inflationary factors affecting the present economic position. This heavy expenditure imposes a severe burden on the taxpayers. If it were not necessary to spend such a large sum on defence, taxation could be reduced substantially and money could be spent in other directions where it is urgently needed. In view of the Strain that is placed on the economy by defence expenditure, we must ask ourselves whether it is justified. If we review post-war developments we must conclude that the western democracies, including Australia, have had no alternative but to rearm and build their armed forces as a means of maintaining peace and deterring the Soviet Union from plunging the world into another war.
So far as I can ascertain, it is impossible to discover the amount that is being spent by the Soviet Union on defence and its armed forces. Outsiders cannot obtain easily any information about happenings behind the Iron Curtain, but those who have examined the subject and tried to piece together the fragments of information that are available, have calculated that from 40 per cent, to 50 per cent, of the national income of the Soviet Union is being expended on its armed forces. Unfortunately Australia and the other democratic countries have been forced to spend on defence considerable sums of money that they would rather have spent in other directions. When World War II. ended, there was a remarkable feeling of friendship for the Soviet Union among the peoples of the western countries, despite the fact that the Soviet Union joined the Allies in the war, not because of a voluntary decision on its part, but because after the Russian alliance with Hitler Germany, disputes arose between the rogues over the splitting of the spoils. As a result, Hitler attacked the Soviet Union, and Russia and the western democracies found themselves fighting against the same enemy. Because of that involuntary act of the Soviet Union we were allies. After the defeat of Hitler and the Japanese, there was undoubtedly an enormous fund of goodwill in all the western countries for the Soviet people, although they had been allied with Hitler at the beginning of the war and the western people did not like many features of their regime.
At the end of the war there was a great rush to disarm. Armies that had been assembled over years disappeared in a few months. Everybody wanted to get back to civilian life. Air forces were dispersed. All the western countries disarmed because ihe people wanted peace and hoped that they had seen the end of wars. But unfortunately we have found that that period of happy thinking has passed and all the western countries are being forced to rearm. In my opinion, one factor alone has’ induced the United States of America, Great Britain, Australia, and all the other democratic forces to rearm. That factor is the policy that has been followed by the Soviet Union since the end of the war. In the first place, the Soviet Union did not disarm or disband its forces as did the Allies. If time permitted, it would be interesting to examine the estimated strength of its armed forces. Any examination of the facts and the policies that the Soviet Union has pursued towards its neighbours proves how essential it has been for the democracies to strengthen their forces as a deterrent to the outbreak of another war.’ I have here an extract from the London Times, which is regarded as a reliable, authoritative and independent newspaper. lt contains the report of a statement by Mr. Woodrow Wyatt, who was Financial Secretary to the War Office in the Labour Government. Speaking at a joint Labour rally in Middlesex, he said that there were far too many people who underrated the need for defence forces, and he went on -
If you give them figures of Hie size of Russian armed strength - and the strength of the satellites - they do not believe them, because they do not want to believe them.
The estimates by the British Military Intelligence of the size of the Russian armed forces arc not guesswork.
He pointed out that the British Intelligence Service had accurately estimated the development of Germany’s military strength between 1935 and 1939, and he then continued -
I am sure I have given you enough to convince you that when the British Military Intelligence says that the Russians have got 215 divisions - 175 line divisions and 40 supporting anti-aircraft and artillery divisions - there ave very good grounds for saying so. Those figures are supported by chapter and verse. No one but a fool would disregard these estimates.
As an expression of my own views on this subject I cannot do better than quote still another paragraph, from Mr.’ Wyatt’s speech -
Of course we want peace. But the test or peaceful intentions is not what the Russians say, but what they do. You cannot believe that they mean peace until we begin to get reports that they are demobilizing some of their vast armed forces.
We know that, far from demobilizing their forces, the Russians are constantly strengthening them. Russia has a very powerful air force, and has even been strengthening its navy, particularly in submarines. The Russian air force is stronger now than was the German air force at the outbreak of World War II. A conservative estimate places the number of Russian military aircraft at 40,000. Its fighter strength is 25,000 aeroplanes, of which 5,000 are jet planes of the highest quality. The fact that the Soviet Union did not disarm, but rather increased its army, its air force and even its navy, was one of the disturbing factors which made it necessary for the Western democracies to increase their forces, even though they had no wish to do so. That was particularly true of Britain, which was compelled to rearm, although its economic circumstances were unfavorable. The other factor which has made it imperative for the Western democracies to rearm is the conduct of the Soviet Union towards its neighbours in Europe. That is a story which should be told in detail if time permitted. It is an historical fact that Poland, on whose behalf we went to war in 1939, the Baltic States, and Czechoslovakia and Hungary, countries with a fine tradition of democracy, and with no aggressive intentions, have been enslaved simply because they were unfortunate enough to lie on the borders of the Soviet Union. The “ red “ army marched into their territories and then there followed the farce of holding elections at which wouldbe opposition candidates were either arrested or prevented from offering themselves for election. Those countries have been enslaved, and are now no more than colonies of Soviet economic imperialism.
– Many of the people have been exterminated.
– Yes, and others have been sent to concentration camps.
For the people of those countries it is not a cold war that is being waged, but a hot one, because the pressure is on them all the time. Soviet conduct towards those countries has made it imperative that wo should rearm. According to experts, a crisis is likely to be reached in 1954, because by that time the huge armaments of the Soviet Union and its satellites will bt- obsolescent, and the temptation will bo to put them into use. If our forces are sufficiently strong by then to discourage Russia from embarking on war the prospect of peace will be brighter.
This talk of ever-increasing military forces, of atomic bombs and other horrible weapons of destruction provokes this reflection: Is there no way out? Can nothing be done to save the world from, the horrors of war? Is it possible to preserve peace? Nothing is more desired by the peoples of the Western democracies than peace. We all want peace. It is a question of whether we can do anything to achieve peace. I believe that two simple steps might be taken that would practically ensure peace in our lifetime. At any rate, they seem to me to be simple, and the only question is whether the outlook of those with whom the decision would rest is such as to permit the steps to be taken. If the Soviet Union, the power which is undoubtedly responsible for the present disturbed state of the world, would renounce its aggressive intentions and imperialist policy, and retreat within its own frontiers, thus restoring to its neighbours the freedom it has taken from them and the right to govern themselves; and if it would recall its fifth columns, which are now operating in many countries throughout the world, an important first step would be made towards the achievement of world peace, and we could go on from there.
– - What are the prospects of that?
– As I have said, that would be the first step, but whether it will be taken depends entirely upon the Soviet Union. I do not think that the prospects are bright.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I was interested .and heartened to hear the speech of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke), who referred to the behaviour of the Soviet Union and its threat to world peace. I remind him that the situation which he described has been very much in the mind of the Government when developing its -defence policy. The ‘honorable member said that the behaviour of the Soviet Union since ‘the termination of the war made it necessary for the Western democracies to rearm. With that view the Government readily agrees. The honorable member said that two steps might be taken to ensure peace. He outlined one of them, and I am sorry that time did not permit him to discuss the other. His first point was prefaced by an “ if “ which I feel must be underlined very strongly. The honorable member said in effect, “ If the Soviet Union could be prevailed upon, or would agree, to renounce its aims and to return to its own area that fact would force into the distance the possibility of a future war “. That is perfectly correct, but it must be appreciated that no government charged with responsibility for ensuring the freedom and the defence of a country could possibly base its policy on the assumption that the “ if “ which is involved in that proposition would become a reality. In view of the professed intentions of the Russians, such a hope is entirely baseless. Obviously, the Soviet Union has no intention to do as the honorable member suggests it should do. I think that in fairness to him it should be said that he realizes that it is merely a pious hope which cannot be taken seriously into account.
It was heartening to hear at least one honorable member opposite approaching such matters in a realistic way and acknowledging some of the facts. I could not =help noticing the difference between his attitude and that of several other honorable members opposite, exhibited in questions which they asked in the House this morning. Those questions gave the impression that the honorable members believe that the Government should consider commencing negotiations, without the support of other members of the
United Nations, with the Communists m Korea. Such a suggestion is entirely untenable. The action that is being taken in Korea is designed to demonstrate to the Soviet Union that it cannot carry its policy of expansion any further. It is the first attempt to call a halt to the expansion of the Soviet Union, and it must be pursued right through and supported by all the members of the United Nations. There must be no suggestion that one member of that organization might be inclined to commence independent negotiations with the’ Communists.
I now wish to deal with an aspect of the development of the defence plan of this Government. I refer to that portion of the plan which applies to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The plan provides that there shall be recruited and trained a Pacific Islands regiment. Recently, honorable members from all political parties and from both Houses of this Parliament visited the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and had an opportunity to view the progress which has- been made to implement that part of the plan. They visited the camp which has been established at Kaurama, several miles from Port Moresby, and were impressed by the splendid progress that has been made in the last twelve months by Lieutenant-Colonel Sabin and his staff of Australian officers and noncommissioned officers in the recruiting and training of native volunteers for the express purpose of enabling the natives to play a part in the defence of their ‘Country. We found that not only was recruiting proceeding very successfully, but also that the types of natives being recruited are very fine and are exhibiting the most commendable keenness. They are proving themselves to be excellent material on which to base the success of the scheme. If I may introduce a lighter strain to my remarks, it was particularly interesting and, indeed, exhilarating for those members of the party who had a little Scotch blood in their veins, to find that after only six months had elapsed a certain sergeant-major had obtained a set of pipes - whether from ordnance or from some other source. I did not inquire - and was rapidly building up a pipe band. The members of the party could not help smiling when, after having shut their eyes on hearing the pipes approaching. they opened them to see all the parapher nalia of a pipe band, with the innovation that the puffed out cheeks were black instead of white.
– The Black Watch !
– Exactly. Although we were very struck with the progress that had already been made with thu establishment of this regiment, we found that two matters urgently require attention by this Government if the plan is to continue with the degree of success with which it commenced. The comments that I am about to make are not based on information or complaints from members of the staff of the unit. They arise solely from my own observations and my personal knowledge of what is required in the establishment and successful training of a military unit. ~l found that the Australian officers and non-commisioned officers of the regiment were every bit as keen as were the troop.” they were recruiting. They were obviously seized with the importance of th«? task before them. There is an urgent need for the provision of proper housing for the Australian officers and noncommissioned officers. I found that the only housing available for the staff consists o( huts and, in some instances, houses at Murray Barracks, several miles away from, the camp. When it is necessary for an officer or non-commissioned officer to bring his wife and family from Australia he must wait for many months before a house can be made available. Because of the fact that the buildings have been there for many years - they were used for tho housing of troops during the last war - they are in a disgusting condition. It is necessary almost completely to rebuild them before they can be occupied. The floor of a building that 1 saw, and which had been recently taken- over,, was completely rotted away. The beams which carried the floor had to be taken out. Money had to be expended on a dilapidated building which could not last very long- in any event. In my opinion that money was wasted. I believe that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) will appreciate that it is essential- not only to have, an efficient staff in an establishment such as this, but also to provide conditions which will act as an incentive to the members of the staff to remain in the Islands. I understand that at the present time they go there for a year: If the living conditions for their wives and children are such that they will wish to return to Australia at the end of the year, a loss of continuity in the control of the unit will result, and this in turn will react adversely on the unit itself. No one could expect the wives and children of members of the staff to wish to remain there under present conditions. I submit that it is most important that something be done in that direction in order to ensure the continued success of the plan.
It is also important that other training areas be established in Papua and! New Guinea. Up to the present timeonly one centre has been established! outside Port Moresby. It is obvious that other centres are required, preferably along the north coast of New Guinea and also in New Britain, round about Rabaul or Kokopo. Some diversity of the areas in which training is carried out is desirable in order that the interest of the trainees may be held. They will very soon become bored if they have no other a.rea in which to train than the one in which they are camped. If other centres were available the unit could put into operation a policy of rotation between the various training centres. In addition, the establishment of other centres is desirable in the interests of the standing and prestige of the force. If the native population of the north coast sees the unit training and forming in their midst it will, be very much to the advantage of the whole plan. Finally, this is highly desirable for the strengthening of the defence potential throughout the area. Port Moresby would probably be the last position threatened in Papua and’ New Guinea- in. the event of any movement against us. Consequently w!e should establish centres near other towns to act as focal points in the event of defence becoming necesary. I understand from statements in the press that MajorGeneral Secombe, General Officer Commanding, Northern Command, has just returned from a visit to the territory and that he proposes- to make certain recommendations regarding- the establishment of further areas there. If any such recommendations are made. I wish to support them- strongly. Even if the adoption of the recommendations would involve the expenditure of a sum additional to the proposed vote of £200,000,000. that has been proposed for defence, -1 consider that that additional expenditure would be completely warranted.
Another important matter is the development in the Territory of the Papua and New Guinea Volunteer Reserve, which is the equivalent of our Citizen Military Forces. The attempt to develop the Papua and New Guinea Volunteer Reserve seems to have been completely unsuccessful. During my short visit I was not able to discover the reason for this fact, but the provision that has been made for training the members of this force is completely unsatisfactory. I saw one unit operating in Rabaul under Major Wilson, a man who obviously was very .well suited for the task, but he had only about eight men to train. Apparently certain factors are operating against the success of the Papua and New Guinea Volunteer Reserve and there is no real incentive for men to join it. I submit that particular attention should be given to this phase of our defence effort, which is vitally important.
.- 1 wish to deal with the Estimates for the Department of Defence. The Government appears to have very queer ideas with regard to defence. First it proposes to dispose of every instrumentality that would be required for the defence of this country if we were again challenged. I refer to such bodies as the Commonwealth shipping line, Glen Davis State Oil Refinery, Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, and to the Government’s attempts to destroy Trans-Australia Airlines while it permits the continued growth of an army of unemployed in this country. I have no objection to the expenditure of £200,000,000 on defence provided the money is expended in a correct manner, but world events suggest the wisdom of radical revision of the principles that underlie the Government’s defence policy. Australia’s defence has to be secured by Australia itself. The Labour party does not disregard Australia’s obligations as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations but in view of tho growing strength of other countries we can no longer expect Britain to ensure our safety. Hence, Australia must develop means by which to defend itself. That principle is the basis of Labour’s defence policy. The vital need in Australia is to develop all its industries until every essential of defence can be supplied within the Commonwealth. This is not merely an industrial ambition. It has become a vital national necessity. Self-defence has become increasingly a matter of industrial preparedness. Australia must develop its essential industries in order that it may feed and clothe its forces and provide for their transport by air, land and sea.
Every branch of our armed forces must be assured of supplies of munitions. Consequently, munitions of all kinds must be manufactured in Australia instead of being imported from overseas. We need more docks, more aerodromes and more aeroplanes. We need oil storage facilities and an unending line of bases for the repair and refuelling of aircraft away from the coast. We must exhaust every possibility of exploiting the natural and artificial sources of oil, which is indispensable for effective defence. The closing of the Glen Davis shale oil refinery was a national tragedy and the Government is deserving of the greatest censure for having taken that action. The Labour party believes that continuous employment and the raising of living standards are essential conditions for effective preparation for defence. Australia must acquire the maximum of selfcontainment and self-reliance. The added security of the Commonwealth will also aid imperial defence. The principal means available for attaining greater local security are our land and air forces. Our Air Force should be developed according to the task it may be required to do both in reconnaissance and as a striking force. As defence is vital for the protection of the community it must not be allowed to provide a profiteer’s market. The supply of munitions and other war materials must not be allowed to provide an opportunity for private profit making but should be kept under Commonwealth control.
Since I returned to this Parliament 1 have been very concerned about the ratification of the Japanese Peace Treaty. On this matter I agree with the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer), who has been in the clutches of the Japanese. In the tense international situation that exists to-day, the Labour party believes that a first priority must be given to the saving of the peace. Labour cannot accept the view that war is inevitable. Such an opinion, which appears to he shared by the present Government, indicates a feeling of the utmost despair and despondency. Indeed it connotes a betrayal of the ordinary people and a mockery of statesmanship. Whilst there are many things in the world which must cause grave anxiety, there are some aspects which bring hope for the future. We all felt a flush of new confidence when independence was granted by the British Empire, as a matter of right, to nations such as India and Burma. By that one gesture Great Britain destroyed once and for all the spectre of British imperialism and the exploitation of the Asiatic < races. Britain’s decision was realistic, and indeed was inevitable. It gained the respect and friendship of great masses of the Asiatic people, and the admiration of the whole world.
The thoughts of many statesmen throughout the world are becoming less selfish and more coloured by international optimism. Gradually world leaders are becoming convinced that we must ultimately organize some super national authority as a form of world government. Of course there are many cynics and reactionaries who decry and denounce the social progress that has been made in the world since 1945. Such people ridicule idealism. However, without idealism the peoples of the world cannot live as civilized human beings, and without tho idealism of some statesmen of the past many excellent social conditions that we now take for granted would not exist. The Labour party’s foreign policy is based on three cardinal points. We believe in complete support of the United Nations, because we consider it to be the only instrument that is capable of maintaining world peace. The Labour party also believes that war must be avoided at all costs, for it recognizes that a third world war would cause civilization to totter, and that, moreover, the brunt of any such war would be borne by the ordinary people throughout the world. The third principle of our foreign policy is that Australia must not be laid open to external danger.
It 13 with deep regret that Labour must endorse the opinion of the right honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Hughes) that the Government has been guilty of high treason in ratifying the Japanese Peace Treaty. The Labour party does not believe that the time has yet arrived to take Japan back into the family of nations, because when we boil down all the speeches about the matter we discover the fact to be that only six years have elapsed since the second world war ended. In that war our people suffered shockingly from Japanese aggression and brutality. In the Pacific war 31,000 Australian men were killed, 22,416 were taken prisoner, 2,475 were posted as missing and great numbers were wounded. The peace treaty repudiates the terms of the Japanese armistice. It is a mockery to those who died and to those who were maimed. It allows Japan to emerge once again as a great industrial power and to attack the living standards of the western peoples. The Labour party opposed the terms of the Japanese Peace Treaty as they were placed before this Parliament for ratification. If our standard of living be considered to be 100, the Japanese standard is only 6. Because Japanese production costs are at such an extremely low level, in any trade competition the Japanese must have everything their own way. Tie Labour party opposed the ratification of the Japanese Peace Treaty, and rightly so. We want a real and just peace with Japan and not one that will menace the safety of our country and the peace of the world. We wanted a treaty in conformity with the sacrifices made by this country during the last war. I remind honorable members that I am not alone in my opposition to the ratification of the Japanese Peace Treaty. The present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) thought much the same as I do when he spoke about the matter on the 19th October, 3947. He then said-
We cannot wait for a perfect state of affairs before we have discussions on a settlement with Japan.
That view, I think is on common ground with the -views that I an putting myself.
– I rise to a point of order. I ‘submit -that the honorable mem’ ber is not speaking to the Estimates.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! That is -not a point of order. The .honorable member for Hume may resume his speech.
– The present Prime Minister continued, in his speech of the 19th. October, 1947- ‘ d’a pirn <must never again be -permitted to develop the mea’ns of waging war. It is no use being sentimental about Japan, Japan has broken all the laws of God and man and is waging war, .and it is not to be put into the position of ‘launching -war again.
I again direct the attention of honorable members ‘to t’he fact that the words that I have just used are the words of the present Prime “Minister. The present Speaker (Mr. Archie Cameron) also voiced .his opinions .about this matter.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The honorable -member’s time has expired.
.- Whatever may .be .the .views of honorable members in ..this chamber .about the Japanese .peace settlement, I do .not think that any good purpose can now be served by -reiterating -the .expression .of io.ur particular feelings. For better or worse the treaty has .been .-concluded, ,and we .can only hope that ih.e latent fears >of many people -w/ho ha>ve .a real knowledge of the Japanese twill not be realized.
My object ‘in -rising is to take the opportunity <o’f -complimenting the Minister for Defence -‘(Mr. McBride), and Service Ministers, upon the success of the Government’s ‘defence -policy. I refer particularly to the remarkably rapid achievements that are flowing from -the ‘Government’s -national ^service ‘training scheme. .This feat of the Government has been applauded ‘throughout the nation, and by our Allies ‘throughout the democratic world. What o.ur Ministers are -doing .in the sphere of defence represents just one example .of the fulfilment o’f .many promises given “by the Government in 1949 and again in 1951. “When one .surveys,, as many [honorable .members ,ha,v;e done in the last year or so, the national service camps, the conditions of the trainees, the quality of instruction, the remarkable progress that the trainees -are making and their improved physique, surely honorable members opposite ‘must feel sorry that they so vigorously opposed the introduction of this scheme. When this debate was resumed to-day I was interested by the well considered observations of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke). He made it quite -clear that it was necessary for this nation to rearm, and quoted certain -opinions in support -of his argument. I say to the honorable member, and to his colleagues who agree with him, that, if they are of that opinion -now, surely it is a great pity, first, that ‘they opposed so bitterly the introduction of the national service training scheme a “little over a year ago, and, secondly, that they still maintain -an inexplicably unco-operative attitude towards voluntary enlistment in the Citizen Military Forces. If conditions are as bad :a:s they admit, -surely this is no time for party and ‘factional differences. The hour has come when we must approach these problems ‘by forming a broad national front. ‘I consider - and I am sure that all *who are ‘in a position to know the facts will agree -with me - that the success of the national service training scheme is a ground for urging its expansion. We ‘have reached .a stage at which the Government s’hould call up another age group. With the present slackening of employment in industry, it can no longer “be argued that such an act would have a markedly detrimental effect upon our industrial structure. I also urge the Government to go still further and increase the strength of our regular Army and .our .regular Air Force. I believe that public opinion would be strongly in accord with both moves.
The general world picture to-day provides us with no grounds for complacency either with the international situation or with our own efforts, -commendable though they have been. A full-scale war is stilt .raging in .Korea and large numbers of .Australian troops. are involved in it. A most difficult military .situation exists in Indo-China. and it may well become a direct threat .to us. The guerrilla warfare -in .Malaya 4s by mo means resolved. The Middle East is a cauldron which is still approaching the boil. There is an- immediate danger of a Russian coup in Persia. Such a stroke might occur on any day. Anybody who is conversant with the situation in Egypt must be distinctly uneasy about developments in that country. As bad as any of those situations is the sinister Russian threat in Western Europe as the European summer draws towards its close. Good though our efforts under this Government may seem, they do not compare favorably with those of our Allies. During the current financial year, we in Australia propose to expend, according to. my computations, £2i per capita on defence. But our friends in the United States of America, who are making a tremendous contribution towards the stabilization of the world, plan to expend on defence this year no less than £130 per capita. Our kinsfolk in Great Britain, notwithstanding the privations and physical destruction that they suffered during World War II., and their malnutrition to-day, are prepared to expend £36 per capita. Our sister dominion of Canada has planned to expend over £50 per capita on defence services. Therefore, let us not be deterred by the markedly high’ figure of £200,000,000 that the Government has planned to expend, on defence this year and regard it as an expense bogy. The worst mistake that Australia can make in these days is to complain about any possibility of extravagance in our defence preparations. Should honorable members and Ministers decide that the burden of the budget is too heavy, it would be wiser for the Government to float a specific defence loan than to entertain any ideas of retrenchment or false economies.
Another matter that I take the opportunity to discuss at this stage affects the Royal Military College at Duntroon. The efficiency of the college is well known throughout Australia, and I think that honorable members who have been fortunate enough to witness some of the parades there will give enthusiastic testimony in. support of it. I suggest - and I expect that my remarks will be supported by other honorable members who have served in the Army - that, notwithstanding the excellences of Duntroon, the pro ducts of this college have suffered hitherto from one defect. Duntroon officers have shown a lack of quality in human leadership, and human relations. At any rate, that was the experience of many of us who served in the Eighth Division during World War II. Their technical knowledge was undoubtedly high and their parade ground drill and general proficiency were faultless. Nevertheless, it seems to me that, in the past they have suffered from a lack of humanity and understanding of the point of view ‘ of troops who, in war-time, are recruited from the great body of civilians. I suggest, as a remedy for this defect, that Duntroon cadets be required to undergo a short ‘period of training in nationa.1 service camps or with the Citizen Military Forces. The period need not be so long as to interfere seriously with the curriculum at the Royal Military College.
– They all are doing that now.
– I am very glad to have that assurance from the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis). I understood that some beginning had been made with & scheme of that nature, and I arn delighted to know that it has come fully into operation.
– The only exceptions apply to cadets training for technical units, who go direct to universities.
– I am sure that the system that has been initiated, apparently under the direction of the Minister, will go a long way towards removing the objection that I have mentioned. If Duntroon cadets, as a result of mixing with men recruited essentially from civilian walks of life, become humanized before they leave the college, less authoritarian, and less Prussian, one might, say, in their bearing, then the Royal Military College at Duntroon will become one of the finest military acadamies in the world.
Ifr. JAMES (Hunter) [12 A~).- Honorable members on both sides of the chamber naturally are always concerned about the adequate defence of Australia. Little effort is needed to recall the effect upon Australia of World War II., which was largely due to the fact, that we warp assailed by a nation in close proximity to iia. The manufacturing city of Newcastle made an outstanding contribution to the Australian war effort. Newcastle may be described as the Birmingham of the southern hemisphere. However, the great industries of that city could not have produced war materiel unless they had had adequate supplies of coal. The Curtin Labour Government, when it assumed office after the Liberal-Australian Country party Government had failed to provide for the adequate defence of Australia, immediately began to organize the production of coal and munitions. I was appointed the Commonwealth Coal Liaison Officer between the Government and the miners, and I do not boast when f say that I did a great job in keeping the mines in operation.
– But not much coal was produced.
– The output of coal in 1.942, partly as the result of my efforts, was a record, which was . not surpassed until last year, when a considerable quantity of coal was obtained from opencuts. The underground mines were the only sources of the supply of coal during World War II., and the output from them in 1942, when I was Commonwealth Coal Liaison Officer, has not since been exceeded.
I shall now refer to various matters that are agitating the minds, and aggravating the feelings, of members of the mining community. I have mentioned these matters in this chamber on many occasions, but my submissions have been ignored by the Government. I have frequently endeavoured to elicit why the Government has permitted the Joint Coal Board to sell £10,000,000 worth of machinery. I asked whether the machinery could be used for open-cut mining, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) replied to the effect that it would not be of any use for underground stowage although it was suitable for gathering the material on the surface to send down the mines for stowage. I was perfectly well aware of that fact; the right honorable gentleman was not adding to my knowledge of mining. 1 had not suggested that the machinery should be used for stowing purposes. I also mentioned, on another occasion, that
I had received from the general secretary of the miners’ federation, Mr. George Grant, a telegram asking me whether a conference could be arranged between the New South Wales Minister for Mines, Mr. Arthur, and representatives of the miners’ federation, and the Government, to discuss a proposal that miners’ pensions be subsidized so that recipients would receive an amount equivalent to the age pension. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Townley) replied that he had already received a deputation on that subject. He should not have dismissed the request so lightly. If a satisfactory agreement could be reached, retired miners would encourage their sons to seek employment in the industry and increase the output of coal, or even to go to war, if the Government would permit them to enlist. I know perfectly well that miners were not permitted to enlist for military service during World War II. They preferred to enter the services to working in the underground mines. I have dealt with that matter on a number of occasions. The Australian war effort required coal, and every miner was needed to produce it. One essential factor in national defence is the maintenance of contentment in the mining community. Miners should be encouraged to produce as much coal as they can.
– But they will not do so.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) is talking rot. The miners are more patriotic, brother, than ever you knew how to be. Make no error about that! The number of enlistments from the mining community was proportionately greater than those from any other industry, but the Government prevented the miners from going to the war. The miners are patriotic. They are prepared to shed their blood on the battlefields, or in fighting for conditions to which they consider they are entitled. Government supporters urge the introduction of a system of incentives in order to increase the output of various industries. I pleaded with the preceding Labour Government, and the present Government, to grant an incentive to the coal-miners through the medium of a tax concession. Let us suppose that a mine normally produces 1,000 tons of coal a day, and that the men, by making a special effort, increase the output to 2,000 tons a day. Why should not the earnings of the men in respect of the increased production be exempt from tax and, for that matter, why should not the profits of the owners from the increased production be exempt from tax? T]]at would be a worthwhile incentive to owners and miners to increase the output of coal. Unfortunately, this Government will not make any concessions to the mining community.
Approximately 5,500,000 tons of coal is imported from India and Africa annually, on which the subsidy payable by the Government is between £1,500,000 and £2,000,000. The representatives of the miners have asked that the pension of a retired miner be increased to the amount of the age pension. If that request were granted, there would be contentment and harmony in the mining community. To-day, however, discontent is prevalent, and the Government is distrusted, because it will not do anything to assist miners. I invite honorable members to compare the neglect of the mining industry with the handsome treatment given by the Government to primary producers. If that section of the community asks for the abolition of the sales tax on rabbit traps, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) almost falls over himself in his haste to grant the request. The Government could not .remain in office without the support of the primary producers. The honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Davies) and I are the only miners in this chamber, and ours are lone voices raised in the wilderness when we ask for consideration for the coal-miners.
– There are plenty of underground miners among honorable members opposite.
– There are some surface miners among honorable members opposite. However, the whole situation is grossly unfair. When the sales tax schedules are being compiled, coalmining machinery does not receive the same sympathetic treatment as is given to agriculture machinery. I urge the Go vernment to provide for the coal-mining community convincing evidence of its desire for increased coal production. I have been a member of this chamber for many years-
– For too long.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has been a member of this .chamber for too long, although his period of service here is considerably less than mine.
I now make a plea on behalf of the residents of the flooded Hunter valley. The Utah Coal Company, an American concern, sent its representatives to Australia with a view to expending many millions of pounds on the development of the coal deposits near Singleton, just outside the boundary of my electorate. But the Government did not want a number of coal-miners in the electorate of one of its supporters, lest he lose his seat in a general election. The Government is shrewd. For party political purposes, it is prepared to allow national defence to “ go hang “. The American company is prepared to take measures to obviate the flooding of the Hunter Valley and to finance, with the assistance of the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments, the construction of a canal. A canal would enable the water to escape and mitigate the floods at Maitland. The transport of coal and primary products which pass through Newcastle would be made safe. I have pleaded often for the provision of a dry railway in this area, but the Government has waved away my suggestions and declared the matter to be one for the State Government. I deny that it is a State matter. It concerns national defence, for which the Australian Government is responsible. I say with all reverence that we should thank God that a flood did not occur in the Hunter River Valley during World War II. and that the free transport of coal was never interrupted in that way. Since the war there have been frequent floods. I hardly like to suggest that the Almighty is displeased with the present Government.
– That is blasphemy.
– Every time the parties that compose the present Government are in power the Hunter River is nodded. The people arc in tears because this Government will no nothing about the matter. The Government should act quickly. It should not pass the responsibility to the State, which is not charged with the defence of the country. I have travelled in other parts of the world and have seen for myself the extensive use of waterways, particularly in Holland. The many floods in the Hunter River Valley are tragic. Recently two floods occurred in three weeks. The citizens of that area should be given security. I plead for a community that is often ridiculed, but is probably more patriotic than is any other section of the nation, not excluding the Ministers at the table. I should not have said that if they had not shown that they do not realize fully the need to encourage coal production. I urge the Government not to confine its tax concessions to the farming community. The people who are engaged in the mining industry are equally entitled to tax concessions.
– Harrison. - What for?
– So that they will get coal. The whole subject of defence is tied to the supply of materials for the production of power and to keep transport moving. The vital material is coal. This Government has closed Glen Davis. I visited that place frequently arid although the miner?’ federation criticized me-
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
[12.19 j. - In the course of the debate, honorable members have made interesting references to the defence proposals of the Government and I take this opportunity to make passing reference to some’ of the ‘points that have been raised. The honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm) suggested last night that provision should be made for an appeal from courts martial to a. specially constituted court. I assure the honorable member that I personally, and officers of my department, have spent much time in research on this matter. We have made considerable advances in the views that we hold on the possibility of establishing such courts of appeal, and I am pleased that the honorable’ member has raised the matter as it gives to me ah opportunity to place on record the fact that the matter has been engaging our very close attention for a long time. However, as there are 70 Or 80 bills to be introduced into this Parliament during this sessional period, it will not be possible to do anything in the direction mentioned for some time.
I listened with interest to the speech of the honorable member for Dawson (Mr. Davidson), who recently visited the Territory of Papua and NewGuinea with other honorable members. For a long time, the Government has had under consideration the development of the defences of the territory. I am happy to have’ had. the privilege of introducing a form of defence organization there through which an opportunity has been given to the native people to play a part in the defence of their own land. I have been delighted to learn that the projects for their participation in both sea and land forces have been received by them with great enthusiasm.. They have readily responded to an appeal that has been made to them to interest themselves in those undertakings. No doubt the Minister for the Navy (Mr. McMahon) can speak in more detail of the naval side of those activities which I was happy to launch when T. was Minister for the Navy. I appreciate fully the points that were raised by the honorable member with reference to the need for new bases and for expanding other works in the territory. I have several . projects there under close observation. Early in this year. I arranged for the General Officer Commanding, Eastern Command, and for Brigadier White, second iri command of the Northern Command, to visit the territory. General Secombe also visited the area recently. I had discussions with him last Monday, when many of the points that have been raised by the honorable member for Dawson were also raised by him. Extraordinary difficulties have arisen iri getting work of a constructive character done in the territory because of the many complex tasks that have faced the Minister for Works (Mr. Kent Hughes) and the officers of his department. He has been very co-operative and has visited the territory himself to study the position. I agree with the honorable member that the provision of quarters for married men is of vital importance. If circumstances permit, I shall visit the territory at an early date.
The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) raised a matter of great importance in the course of his speech. I agree, in the main, with all that he said and the points that he raised, but I wish to make some observations on the opinions that he expressed in relation to the cadets of the Royal Military College at Duntroon. Anybody who has. a close and intimate knowledge of the activities of the Army can have nothing but the highest regard for the cadets who pass through the college. To suggest that they are inhuman, and that special training is needed to humanize them, is” to draw the long bow. These cadets are Australian citizens, with a’, high standard of education, who have been picked from all strata of society. At Duntroon they go through a severe course. Apart from their military training, the academic course that they take ensures that they will be no different in character and ‘ outlook: from other Australian citizens. There is not the slightest danger that they will be prussianized, or rendered inhuman. I strongly deprecate any suggestion to that effect. Since I have been Minister for the Army, I have eased many of the social restrictions formerly imposed upon military cadets, and they may now mix more freely with the general community, so that the social as well as the military side of their training is facilitated. “When the cadets graduate, they are posted to national service battalions or to the Permanent Army, where they live in company with other young men, who themselves represent a fair cross section of the community. 1 maintain that there was no justification whatever for the honorable member’s remarks-.
Let me now make a passing” reference to the observations of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke). It is a treat in these difficult and troublous times to find a member of the Labour party with sufficient courage to get up and say without any reservations or qualifications that the international situation is dangerous. Since the inauguration of federation 52 years ago, Commonwealth expenditure on the Army has increased from £500,000 a year to the present estimated total of £75,370,000. Who could have thought 52 years ago that, in the space of half a century, Australia was destined to participate in two world wars, and that the danger of another world-wide conflict would again be looming on the near horizon ? Despite all our own efforts, and those of the United Nations, to preserve world peace Australia is budgeting this year for the expenditure of approximately £200,000,000 on defence. The honorable member for Fawkner had the courage to say to the committee, which includes the members of his own party, that because peace was threatened it wasour duty to strengthen our defence forces. The first obligation of any government; is to ensure the security of its people.. With that obligation in view, the Government has framed its Defence Estimates.
In accordance with the Government’s policy, the role of the Army is to provide forces a3 may be required for possible commitments under the United Nations, including regional arrangements in the Pacific; to participate in British Commonwealth defence; to provide the basic organization for expansion in time of war; and to provide for the local defence of Australia and its territories. In orderto meet these commitments, the Australian Army has been organized in the following components : -
Army policy also provides for maintaining Australia’s contribution to United Nations forces, and this at present takes the form of two battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment in the first Commonwealth Division in Korea. I do not need to elaborate on the splendid work that these battalions have done. They have been trained, equipped, and led by Australians in accordance with the defence policy of the Government, and there are no better units in the United Nations forces in Korea. Our policy also provides for -
I take this opportunity to acknowledge the many tributes that have been paid in this Parliament and elsewhere to the efficiency of national service trainees, and to the manner in which they have responded to their training.I congratulate the. trainees themselves, and also the officers and instructors who are responsible for them. The national service training scheme has made an important contribution to the defence of Australia, and has greatly benefited the youths who have undergone training.
The Army Estimates have been increased by about £20,000,000, much of which will be absorbed by increases of pay and allowances to members of the forces. The strength of the forces has been increased. For instance, the strength of the Permanent Army has been raised from 22,000 men to 28,000 men. This increased strength, together with increases of pay, will account for the expenditure of an additional £6,500,000. Expenditure on the Citizen Military Forces and on the national service training scheme is estimated to increase by nearly £3,000,000. In our training scheme we aim to instil into all ranks the qualities of self reliance, toughness, and discipline, and to instruct men in the proper use of weapons. At a variety of military training establishments, such as those at Wacol, Brighton, Swanbourne, Kapooka, Ingleburn, Puckapunyal, Woodside and Singleton, recruits undergo an effective course of training and have proved themselves to be very keen and alert. The Army is now highly mechanized, and we are continuing with the policy, which was inaugurated by the Labour Government, of training Army apprentices. Difficulties were at first encountered, but most of them have now been overcome. From the training schools technicians of many kinds are being turned out, including electrical mechanics, and men trained in the maintenance and repair of arms and military equipment. Trainees are qualifying at the rate of 100 a year, and we hope that, by the 13th December next, when the marching-out ceremony will take place, another 100 fully qualified men will be available for service in the Army. The officer cadet school that was recently established at Portsea is passing out officers at the rate of 70 each six months. We hope to increase that number to 100 or 120 each six months in order to make up for the great dearth of junior officers in the service to-day. Indeed, there appears to be a dearth of junior officers the world over. I have examined this problem, and it seems that the United Kingdom, American and Canadian forces have taken a course similar to that taken by the Australian forces. I am delighted to say that the officer cadet school is making extremely good progress. We have also established at Mildura an officer cadet school for the Women’s Royal Australian Army Corps so that we may he able to cope with the organization consequent upon the enlistment of recruits in the corps. I hope that we shall have no difficulty in maintaining a steady flow of recruits into this vital branch of the service, so that it will be possible to divert to other pursuits men who otherwise would be engaged in non-combatant duties. Special efforts are made to train the senior officers of the service. Army head-quarters exercises are conducted each year. The Chief of the General
Staff conducts special courses for all senior officers of the Australian Military Forces.
As an indication of the desire of the Army to keep abreast of the expansion and development of the arms with which to defend the country, modern techniques are being adopted. A parachute training wing is being formed at the School of Land-Air Warfare. We are also establishing an air-borne platoon which will be available to aid the civil authorities hi fighting fires and in meeting other calamities. In addition, we are inaugurating the Army’s own light aviation training wing. We believe that the Army lias two functions to perform, one in peace and one in war. In warfare, the obligation of the Army is to defend this country and to drive off the enemy, wherever it finds him it has to attack him. In peace, the function of the Army is to go to the aid of the civil community in time of national crisis. That function has been performed frequently during the last few years. For instance, as many as 50 army “ ducks “ have been operating all over the country rescuing people who were sitting on housetops or were otherwise affected by floods. The Army engineering and signalling units also render every possible assistance to the community in flood, fire and tempest. From persons all over Australia expressions of appreciation have come of the splendid job performed by the men of the services in coming to the aid of people who have suffered as the result of such calamity.
The national service training scheme has gone ahead splendidly. It is expected that by 1954 100,000 national service men will have been trained. The expansion of national service training has shown that the limited number of Citizen Military Forces units is hopelessly inadequate to absorb all the national service trainees who are being trained. For that reason we arc beginning substantially to expand the Citizen Military Forces.. I wish very briefly to give to the committee an indication of the magnitude of that expansion. In addition to the 86 units that have been established, we hope to establish during the present financial year a further 279 units. These will include signals, medical and ordnance units. Some of them will be relatively small units, but the larger ones will be units of artillery, engineers, infantry, supply, and transport. The allocation of such units will be : Queensland 53, New South Wales 73, Victoria 82, South Australia 40, Western Australia 23, and Tasmania 8. Naturally, the establishment of these units will impose a great strain on our resources, because drill halls and accommodation will have to be provided, and officers and non-commissioned officer instructors will be required. However, I am convinced that the basic organization that has been set up will permit such expansion to be undertaken successfully.
I wish to pay particular attention to the Citizen Military Forces because I believe that, particularly during the last two years or so, they have done a splendid job. Had those forces not been organized, trained and equipped, we could not possibly have established national training as successfully as it has been established. As soon as national service trainees complete their basic training they go into the Citizen Military Forces. The officers, non-commissioned officers and, indeed, the soldiers of the Citizen Military Forces have been the hard core on which we have developed national service training. If we had not had those officers, noncommissioned officers and private soldiers who were willing to co-operate fully we could not have welded the national service trainees and the Citizen Military Forces into one organization, nor could we have gone ahead with the national service training scheme. In spite of the hostile and most unworthy and unjust comment that is made from time to time, I believe that the Citizen Military Forces have played a notable part in assisting national service training. Recently the Government approved of an officer of the Citizen Military Forces in each State of the Commonwealth being selected to go to Korea and to join our forces there in order to observe the kind of warfare that is being conducted in Korea. These officers probably will leave Australia on the 16th or the 19th of this month and will be assigned to units in Korea. I hope that after having been virtually on active service with our forces for three or four weeks they will be a tower of strength to the Citizen Military Forces when they return.
Expenditure on arms and equipment bas been a source of concern to the Government. However, I am happy to say that the most modern and up-to-date arms and equipment from all quarters of the world have been acquired by the Department of the Army. It is proposed to expend in the current financial year £5,600,000 on the purchase of armoured fighting vehicles, mechanical transport and spare parts, £1,600,000 on arms and munitions, and £2,100,000 on telecommunications, signals, and engineering and survey equipment of the most modern kind. Such equipment has been approved at the last moment, after long experience by trial and error in Great Britain and the United States of America. Expenditure on clothing will amount to £7,000,000, and £8,600,000 will be expended on the purchase of camp equipment and general stores, and on maintenance and general repairs. One of the greatest problems is that of financing an army. Usually contracts ure made and the goods are supplied in due course. However, in the current financial year, because of rising costs, the Department of the Army will receive more bills than it expected to receive. Nevertheless, the equipment is being kept up to date. From time to time the Chief of the Imperial General Staff informs us of advances that have been made with equipment, and I am happy to say that all the equipment that is being used by our forces in Korea is of the most modern kind.
Sitting suspended from 18.U5 to 2.15 p.m.
.- I propose to deal with the service departments. First, I wish to comment upon certain remarks that were made by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) and some of his supporters. In almost every debate in this chamber, honorable members opposite curiously fall into the error of blaming the Opposition for being an Opposition. That is particularly so in relation to debates on defence matters. Government supporters invariably accuse the Opposition of having no interest whatever in the defence of this country and they regard valid criticism as being merely attacks upon defence rather than upon the Government’s methods of conducting the defence of the country. I find it had to understand the origin of this line of reasoning. It is well established that the present Government and preceding governments of similar calibre and party flavour were removed from office because of their inability to carry on the defence of the country. That fact is on record. Therefore, I cannot comprehend why Government supporters must always find fault with valid criticism that is offered by members of the Labour party on defence. In 1941, the government of the day did not have the confidence of the people in respect of its conduct of World War II. As a Labour government was entrusted with the defence of this country during the most difficult days of that conflict, it is idle to say that the Labour party, and the Opposition that represents it in this chamber, has not a wide knowledge of defence matters. Apparently, honorable members opposite have difficulty in getting their facts straight, and, consequently, any comment from the Opposition must be completely sweet and reasonable if it is to find any echo from them. Too often. Government supporters howl down valid, solid criticism on defence matters as something that is almost subversive.
However, the curious thing about this debate is that the hottest criticism of the Government has been voiced by some of its own supporters. The honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm) was hard on the Government in respect of courts martial. He asked for reforms in that respect. I believe that such reforms are long overdue and should be made as soon as possible. But the speech of the day was that made by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer), who, after having traversed foreign affairs in relation to defence, dealt with the personnel of the Australian Regular Army. In the course of his remarks he made some rather trenchant and surprising statements about the Royal Military College at Duntroon. I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams that a supporter of a non-Labour government would think of saying that Duntroon turned out officers who were Prussianminded. I did not hear any cries of anguish from that honorable gentleman’s colleagues when he made that statement. Hie criticism may spring from the old argument about the relative merits of the civilian soldier and the regular soldier. In my view, the Royal Military College at Duntroon is one of the most democratic of its kind that exists in the free world. There may be a certain degree of rigidity in its training methods ; b*it one cannot truthfully describe men who are trained at Duntroon as being Prussians. We have no evidence that the Government is absolutely opposed to Prussians. Indeed, under its immigration scheme, it proposes to bring 10,000 Prussians into this country in the near future. Would Government supporters describe as Prussian-minded, persons like General Rowell, LieutenantGeneral Robertson, who is now Director of Recruiting, General Woodward, General Bridgeford, General Berryman and General Chapman, or General Vasey who, unfortunately, was a war casualty? To-day, every general in the Australian Regular Army is a product of Duntroon, and each of them has outstanding qualities.
– The honorable member surprises me.
– The truth must out. The interjection by the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) is further evidence of the truth of my statement that Government supporters must always find something wrong with the Opposition’s point of view and hotly contest it. Is it not curious that the Government and its supporters should find something wrong with one of the best military institutions that exists in the free world? The Royal Military College at Duntroon is not a ramrod institution. Entry to the college does not savour of the old school tie. Perhaps that may be the trouble so far as honorable members opposite are concerned.
– Did not a Labour government close the Royal Military College at Duntroon?
– A Labour government did close the college at one stage, but not because it thought that the college was rearing a race of Prussian soldiers, lt took that action because of financial difficulties; and if this Government does not watch its finances it will be obliged to close down not only the Royal Military College at Duntroon but also many other institutions. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) must have glowed warmly when he heard one of his colleagues say that we were producing Prussians in this country, because he, himself, is the very model of a Prussian in the political sphere.
I desire, now, to deal with defence in its broader aspects. Grave difficulties confront the Government in respect of the general over-all problem. The Labour party does not contest the proposed vote of £200,000,000 for defence for the current financial year but it does wish to ensure that that money shall be expended carefully. As this debate proceeds, one is alarmed about the non-committal attitude that the Government has adopted towards the problem of defence as a whole. Now that full employment has disappeared as a result of the Government’s general policy, the Government finds itself obliged to curtail drastically the intake of immigrants. Indeed, it’ is not improbable that it may have to abandon immigration altogether until such time as immigrants who have already arrived can be absorbed into the community. Our potential enemy, using the term in its broad and general sense, is to the north of Australia. We are aware of the hodge-podge of unrest that exists in Eastern countries. Immigration offers some possibility of increasing our man-power in the south, both for production and for defence; but under its new policy the Government will obtain little, if any, more man-power from overseas. Therefore, it must now come to a decision on Australia’s role in any war in the future. At present, we rely upon security pacts and the strength of the United Nations ; but we must decide on the function Australia will perform in the Pacific in the event of an outbreak of war. Are we to supply fighting forces to the limit of our man-power or are we to feed the armies of our allies? Or, are we to do a little of both? The Minister has not taken the committee into his confidence on that point. We do not know whether Australia is to be converted into a great staging camp, or whether we are to strain our man-power resources to the limit as we did in World- War II., to the detriment of food production. Or, are we to be a vast food-growing army behind the lines, as it were, with limited commitments in respect of our Army, Navy and Air Force? Are we to try to do two things, and fail to do either effectively? What arrangement has been made with our allies, the British and the Americans, in respect of these matters? How far are we getting away from the belief that Great Britain has honorable commitments in the Pacific? Are we giving the Motherland the cold shoulder? These are matters of high policy. My own view is that in the future we should not again attempt to undertake both a vast food production programme and a terrific services programme.
The Minister for the Army has made a comprehensive statement on the individual items of army expenditure. He is doing a very good job as far as the Army is concerned. It is very pleasing to find that the national training scheme has been so universally accepted. A man has his own right to eat his own words, so I am entitled to say that I did not think the universal training scheme would succeed as well as it has succeeded. But I should like to know whether there is imagination behind the plan. Since the advent of the atomic bomb, strategy has been blown to bits. We do not know what may be the form of any future war. Are the trainees receiving modern training, or are they being marched to the top of the hill, and then marched down again, in the words of the redoubtable “grand old Duke of York “, which many honorable members sang in their heyday? We do not know the equipment they are using, the training they are receiving, or the purpose of their training. Is the general overall plan of defence the one that was decided upon in 1947, after the Chifley Government had consulted with the Chiefs of Staff of the allied nations? We seem to be getting too far away from the accepted ideas of training. For instance, I cannot see the connexion between inner-spring mattresses, curtains, rugs at the bedside, and Bendix laundries, and modern fighting weapons. It is all very well to have all these furbelows, but they involve extravagant expenditure. Let us engage in military research and get to know the equipment that we may have to use in the future, and by all means let us have guns before bed curtains.
The recruiting advertisements read like an advertiser’s dream. They invite young fellows to join the Army in order to obtain better wages and conditions, and, indeed, everything they may desire. But, behind that facade, the face of the sergeant-major rears in genial laughter. Let us be factual. The army has not changed to such a great extent. To-day, when there are very few jobs available, men who try to get into the Army find that the standards for entry have been stiffened. Although they may be willing to enlist for perhaps twelve years, they are not in the race to get into the Army because the standard of entry is too high. It was reported in the press yesterday that many of the 3,000,000 Americans who were recently called up for service in the United States of America are unfit. Why not lower the standard of entry to the Army as an incentive for men to enlist? Why has the Government decided at this time, when adequate man-power is available because of the unfortunate incidence of unemployment, to make it more difficult for men to get into the Army ? When a period of full employment returns, and high rates of pay are offered as an inducement for men to enter industry, I suppose the Government will lower its standard of entry into the Army. The Government’s present attitude is quite foolish. We do not want our Army to be full of crocks, but some of the inhibitions and prohibitions against men joining the Army are of a minor character. The standards which govern minimum height and chest measurements are too rigid. Such things as foot trouble and bad teeth could be overcome by corrective methods within the Army. Although the Government has made it hard for men with such disabilities to enter the Army, it denounces our young people for not joining up in sufficient numbers. There is something radically wrong with the Government’s approach to recruitment.
I shall refer now to the Royal Australian Navy. I should like the Minister for the Navy (Mr. McMahon) to inform the committee on happenings in the Navy during the past few weeks. About three weeks ago a Fairmile launch was to be towed to the Solomon Islands. It left Sydney in tumultuous weather. Then a. hawser broke, or became disconnected, and the Fairmile ran on to the rocks.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I commend the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) for giving to the committee a fairly comprehensive survey of his department’s activities so early in the debate on this proposed vote. I hope that the Minister’s good example will be followed by other Ministers in order to obviate a lot of discussion and so reduce the work of the committee. I realize that details of proposed expenditure by the Department of the Army could not, for security reasons, be made public in the way that details of the proposed expenditure by other departments can be revealed. About half a dozen matters that I had intended to raise were explained by the Minister, and it is now unnecessary for me to mention them. The honorable gentleman stated that it is the intention of the Government to expand the number of Citizen Military Forces units. I believe that this is vitally necessary. If training facilities were provided in more country towns reasonably close to the homes of our young people, I am sure that there would be an increased rate of enlistment in the Citizen Military Forces. Prior to 1939 small militia units were located in many small country centres, and many young fellows who were keenly interested in military training joined them. Periodically the small units combined to form bigger units, and the training was a great success. A reversion to that system would undoubtedly result in the recruitment of many’ more young fellows in the Citizen Military Forces. I hope that the Minister’s announcement in this connexion will be implemented as soon as possible.
The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) stated that the Government, blamed the Opposition for being in opposition. After suggesting that the Government should adopt a different attitude, he devoted no less than seven minutes of the fifteen minutes allowed to him in this debate to a condemnation of the Government on party political grounds. Nobody blames the Opposition for being in opposition, or suggests that honorable members opposite have not a right to criticize. The people of this country look to the Parliament rather than to the Government to decide matters of vital national importance, and the people certainly criticize the Opposition for its lack of determined unity on defence. The honorable member for Parkes accused the Government of adopting a non-committal attitude to defence. I suggest that the honorable gentleman examine his own conscience upon that matter. If this Parliament were able to present a united front to the. nation and to say that, although there were minor differences of opinion about the methods that should be adopted, all members of the Parliament believed that it was necessary for the Australian people to accept their responsibilities for the defence of Australia, undoubtedly we should make a real advance.
In reply to the inquiry of the honorable member for Parkes on whether national service trainees were being trained on modern lines or on old-fashioned lines. I point out that the Minister for the Army has invited honorable members to visit the camps in which the trainees are undergoing training, and to see the conditions there for themselves.
– He shows us the kitchens.
– That is a lot of rot. Army officers in Western Australia are only too pleased to show members of the Parliament everything that is being done, in the camps. They know that they have a responsibility to “ sell “ the national service training scheme to the people of Australia, because it is of vital importance. Let the honorable member for Parkes prove his interest in the scheme by visiting a national service training camp anc! seeing for himself what the trainees are doing. I suggest that he do that, not only to ascertain whether the training methods meet with his approval, but ako to encourage the trainees. I assure the honorable gentleman that it greatly encourages the trainees to know that the legislators of this country are interested in the work that they have been called upon to do. Many trainees are, at first, unwilling participants in the scheme, but, when their training has finished, they leave their camps as enthusiastic supporters of it. I suggest that the honorable member for Parkes adopt to the national service training scheme the attitude that he suggests should bc adapted to it. The scheme is too important to be approached on party lines. I am prepared to argue with the honorable gentleman about points of detail upon which there are T)art differences, but, surely to goodness, no member of any party other than the Communist party - and I do not call that a political party - does not, in his heart of hearts, realize that it is necessary for the Government to take drastic action as soon as possible to place this country in a state of preparedness. Let the members of the Opposition be honest and admit that that is so, and let them cease criticizing the Government for the purposes of party gain.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke) approached the problem of defence honestly and not in a spirit of criticism. He asked whether defence expenditure was justified. I, too, have asked myself that question. He went on to say that it was justified. To prove that that is so, all that one needs to do is to point to the dangers with which we are confronted overseas. If members of the Opposition acknowledge, as the honorable member for Fawkner does, that some expenditure upon defence is necessary, I ask them to assume that a member of their family has been taken ill and is at death’s door, and then to ask themselves what cash value they would place upon the life of that loved one. “What is the cash value of the safety and security of this country, and of our kith and kin? Is it £200.000,000. or is it £300,000,000? I should not be prepared to place a cash value upon the life of a lo,red one, because, to me. the preservation of that life would be worth any sacrifice. What is the cash value of Australia to Australians? I suggest that that is the only basis upon which we can assesswhether our expenditure upon defence isjustified.
Mr. Clyde Cameron interjecting,
– If the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) is prepared to place a cash value upon the security of Australia, let him pay the money and we will, so to speak, build a fence behind which he can sit in safety. Most people, if they approached the problem in the way that I have suggested, would be prepared to say, “ J accept my responsibilities willingly, because 1 cannot assess the cash value of the safety of my country”.
I was pleased to read the recommendation that Major-General Secombe has made on the establishment of defence outposts in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I hope that those recommendations will be adopted by the Government. Last year, when I had the privilege of visiting the territory, I was struck by the remarkable difference between the attitudes adopted to defence by residents of the territory and by people in Australia. I say, with due deference to my fellow Australians, that in this country the only questions appear to be, “ How much will the Government take out of my pocket, or how much will the Government put into it? “ Although it is vitally necessary that we should undertake defence preparations, people are criticizing the Government for its expenditure upon defence. The attitude of the residents of Papua and New Guinea is that they are prepared to carry whatever burden the Government requires them to bear in the interests of defence. Many of those people experienced a war on their -front doorstep, which directly affected their families and their properties, and they are prepared to make whatever sacrifice they are called to make to prevent a recurrence of those events. We need some of that spirit in this country. I am more than pleased that MajorGeneral Secombe has recommended the establishment of defence outposts in the
Territory of Papua and New Guinea, because the establishment of such outposts would ease the minds of the people there who had such bitter experiences during the last war.
I hope that the Government will not exempt certain classes of youths from liability to undergo training under the national service training scheme. 1 believe there should be no such exemptions. If a man has a conscientious objection to service in a fighting unit, surely he cannot have a similar objection to doing something for the country that will protect him in time of danger, and he must be prepared to serve in some capacity, even in a non-combattant unit. If he is not prepared to do so, he should get out of the country, because we do not want him here. That is straight talking. If the country is not worth fighting for, it is not worth living in. I repeat that there should be no exemptions from the national service training scheme. Deferment of training may be necessary in certain instances. In that connexion, I suggest to the Minister that if the training of a young man is deferred, he should be required, during the period of deferment, to commence training with the nearest Citizen Military Forces unit. Id those circumstances, he would receive certain training and would mix with other young men in the unit. Therefore, he would not enter a national service training camp entirely unprepared.
I hope that the Government is giving serious consideration to extending the scope of the scheme to include the age group that undoubtedly would be required to bear the main burden of the fighting if this country were called upon to defend itself. We must speak of the threat to -our security, not in terms of some years hence but in terms of the immediate future. Young men of eighteen years and nineteen years will be available for our future defence, but those between the ages of 21 years and 26 years would be required to answer the call if it were made An the immediate future. They have no training, and I say with all due respect to them that many of them lack a sense of responsibility towards this country.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- 1 wish to support the appeal of the honorable member for FawKner (Mr. W. M. Bourke) for a long term view of defence which, we would all agree, would eventually banish war if it were universally adopted. The abolition of war i3 mainly a moral problem, and we need to consider whether any progress has been made during the last 50 years, and in the course of two world wars, towards an improved moral understanding of peace on the part of the people who are charged with the responsibility of the leadership of nations. We cannot explore that subject deeply, because we are more concerned with a short term approach to the subject of defence. I shall therefore refer my remarks to the short term problem. 1 consider that the Government deserves some degree of commendation for having adopted a policy of restraint in relation to its announcements on defence. lt cannot be suggested that it has been guilty of sabre-rattling. The announcements that it has made have been moderate - so moderate, in fact, that many people, including soldiers, and parents, who feel that the anxiety and burden of delay are almost unbearable are forced to clutch at straws because of the insufficiency of information that they receive from the Government about world affaire as they are related to defence. For example, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) made only a passing reference to the fact that we were developing our armament in the hope of persuading certain people that it would not pay them to start a Avar against us. He said that he hoped that that policy would be successful. Such a policy holds the whole key to our present defence problem, and, whilst we need not indulge in sabrerattling, we should at least check our military weapons to ensure that they have not become rusty and are ready for use in combat.
We should certainly approach the subject of defence in a non-party spirit. It is not our responsibility to approve or disapprove of the amounts of money that are requested by the defence authorities for military purposes. That is the Government’s responsibility. The magnitude of these amounts is decided mainly on the recommendations of the military authorities hut it is our responsibility to unsure that funds provided are expended correctly and are sufficient to provide for our effective defence. As the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has said, we must ensure that the military authorities exercise due economy and make proper use of the moneys voted for defence. The final responsibility in relation to the kinds of equipment to be supplied to our forces rests with the military authorities, but it is our responsibility to make such observations on the matter as we consider fit.
The greatest and most valuable contribution that Australia can make towards defence is a thoroughly balanced economy. The balance must be in our food requirements and the requirements of our secondary industries. Both our primary and secondary industries are vital to us, especially in war-time. It is all very well to talk about the economic imbalance that has occurred in Australia since the war, but every honorable member should realize that a great development of our secondary industries took place during the war for very necessary purposes, at a time when it was hardest for us to accomlish that development. We developed huge secondary industries, which, it must be said to the credit of the Labour party, were turned back to private enterprise when the war was over. It is important that we endeavour now to establish a correct balance between our primary and secondary industries so that we shall be able to correct any imperfections before war comes instead of waiting until it is actually on us. We should have a driving policy behind our economic expansion that will fit the economy of the country to meet possible war requirements. That policy should operate continuously and progressively. We should also have an improved moral outlook on the part of our national leaders. There is a great deal to be done in this direction by the Department of National Development, which could play a much more important part in the community than it now plays. It should have, for example, a completely comprehensive bureau of marketing which should gain a thorough knowledge of the nation’s requirements in both peace and war and be able to co-ordinate them. For instance, our requirements of motor spirit in peacetime can be supplied from abroad, but in war-time the supply from overseas sources is restricted. For that reason, the retention, or otherwise, of an important project like the Glen Davis shale oil plant should not be decided entirely on the basis of economy. We should not consider solely whether such a plant can produce motor spirit cheaply, because that would be a very thin approach to the subject. We should approach the matter more broadly and take into consideration its place in relation to the meeting of our defence requirements.
A number of other government departments which are concerned with commerce and industry are also closely related to our war-time requirements, but the Government has provided no proper method by which they can be properly co-ordinated and related to our war-time requirements. One of our most obvious deficiencies is the lack of responsibility of the Tariff Board to consider whether an industry is necessary for defence purposes. Most of the reports the Tariff Board intimates that an industry could have, and appears to have, some value from the point of view of defence, but it is no part of the board’s responsibility to’ comment to any greater degree than that. I consider that the work of the Tariff Board should be co-ordinated with the work of the Department of National Development. A bureau of marketing to relate our wartime to our peace-time requirements, and to operate on a continuous basis should bc established.
I turn now to the subject of military equipment. One would be reluctant to make observations on the subject after having been out of uniform for so long, but I must make some comment on it. I shall, however, confine myself to a few general observations. I refer particularly to the personal equipment of the private soldier which I have always considered to be extremely deficient. We should send a soldier into battle not with weapons that the authorities claim are as good as the weapons that the enemy has but with the best weapons that we can provide, which should be as much superior to the weapons used by the enemy as is possible. The rifle has been the soldier’s main personal armament in two world wars and it looks as if it will continue to be so in the event of a third world war, although the present development seems to be towards the provision of automatic weapons. The side arms of officers and some other ranks are by no means satisfactory. Officers are equipped with ancient 44-calibre Webley pistols that go off like atomic bombs, cause clouds of smoke and light up the whole scene, including the officers who fire them, and bring all sorts of trouble in their train. [ can speak of that matter from personal experience. We should cast these weapons into the sea and replace them with modern weapons. The Owen gun is our most important personal weapon. I do not know whether a superior weapon is available, but I do know that there appears to be some degree of rigidity on the part of the Army administration which lays down a set scale of equipment for troops. These scales do not always meet requirements. There was an instance of one platoon of men who had with great industry passed in their rifles and were equipped completely with Owen guns on the order of one authority. They were very happy about the new weapons, but an authority caught up with them, the Owen guns were withdrawn, and the men were re-equipped with rifles. They were far happier with automatic weapons. I believe that equipment tables should be made more flexible so that weapons suitable for the type of warfare in which men are engaged may be provided for them. The Army authorities are very slow in equiping Australian force? with “ bazookas “. I do not know the proper name for these weapons, but everybody knows that they are anti-tank guns and’ have been in very effective use by the armed forces of other nations for a considerable time.
I wish now to say a few words about cohesion in our defence programme. Our railway gauges are not yet standardized, and the transport disabilities that beset us during the two world wars would have to be met again in the event of another war. That is a job which the Government could press on with now. Money should not be a consideration. The only problems are labour and material. The labour required would be largely unskilled, and with so much unskilled labour available now, the Government could well hasten this- important national work. The standardization of our railway gauges would make our transport system much more efficient and much more able to bear the strain of war. Port facilities too should be improved. It is surprising indeed that Darwin has only one small wharf. Darwin is most important to our defence, and shipping facilities there should be improved as rapidly as possible. Other honorable members have stressed the need for improved wharfs in the capital cities. That too is a job that could be tackled now, when men are being thrown out of employment by the decline in shipping trade and when ample unskilled labour is available.
The national service training scheme should commend itself to everybody. 1 believe that trainees could be given six months’ training with advantage to themselves and to the community as a whole: but apparently that is not possible. The three months that they do spend in camp is well spent. I have no adverse comments to offer on that scheme. Indeed, I congratulate the Minister for the Army upon it. The Citizen Military Forces, of course, a most important adjunct to our defence and, in any future war, would play as important a part as it played in World War II. when the backbone of the Australian Imperial Forces came from the militia forces. The Government might well consider establishing a counterpart of the Citizen Military Forces for women who are called upon to play an increasingly important part in defence establishments in war-time. I see no reason why women should not be organized now.
– They are organized to the strength of 6,000 already.
– Every effort should be made to anticipate difficulties that are bound to arise in time of war, particularly due to the complexity of equipment. In examining some of the establishments of the Royal Australian Air Force, I have observed that it takes several years to train a mechanic to repair and maintain equipment. There again women could play a valuable role, because much of the work is light and requires only an intelligent mind. Many women are admirably suited to this type of work, and I should like to see their services being utilized. Our medical services, too, should be examined. To train a doctor takes years. In time of war there is a great demand for doctors because so many of them enlist in the armed forces. There too, I believe women could play an important part. Some encouragement should be given to women to enter the medical profession. No doubt many of them would marry soon after graduating, but they generally maintain their interest in medical work, and they could form a valuable reservoir of professional skill which would be available in time of war. In our organization of industry certain measures are open to us which, unfortunately, appear to be repugnant to the Government. I urge honorable members opposite not to be too squeamish about using them, because, if war comes, they will have to be used wholesale. I refer, for instance, to prices control and the subsidizing of certain industries which must be encouraged.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I have listened with great interest to the temperate and impartial speech of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Joshua). It is pleasing that the debate to-day has shown little of the party strife which so often characterizes proceedings in this Parliament. It is encouraging to. find that, in time of national anxiety and peril, honorable members are able to lift themselves above party quarrels at least for a while. I wish to speak particularly of the Royal Australian Navy. Unfortunately the Defence Estimates show no division of funds between the three services, but, on the basis of last yea Ha expenditure of approximately £3S,000,000 on the Navy, the figure this year will be approximately £45,000,000. T certainly hope that it will not he less than that, because I doubt whether ade quate naval defence can be provided or maintained for even £45,000,000. The budget gives no indication of how the vote for the Navy will be expended and it is difficult to estimatehow it will be expended because we havenot been given a comprehensive review of the state of the Navy since April, 1951.. However, from the information disclosed, in that review, and from general knowledge, we can form some idea of this year’sallocation. We shall have two aircraftcarriers of the light fleet type. One, H.M.A.S. Sydney, is already in service,, and the other will shortly be handed over to the Navy by the builders. Therewill be three cruisers. One of them,. H.M.A.S. Australia, is in commission,, another, H.M.A.S. Shropshire, is inreserve, and the third, H.M.A.S. Hobart, is on its way to Newcastle for a refit: Then there appear to be about fifteendestroyers, of which about five are incommission, about five are being refitted or converted into fast anti-submarine vessels, one or two are in reserve-, and two are building.
– Four are building.
– We have also about a dozen frigates of World War II. vintage. They are slow ships suitablefor escorting slow convoys, or for useaga.inst the slow submarines of the last war. In addition, there is a largenumber of mine-sweepers, some survey ships, boom defence vessels and otherauxiliary vessels of all kinds.
The first comment that I wish tomake on the situation is that the Navy is not yet ready for war. Therough survey of ships that I have madeshows that of a fleet which, even on. paper, is too small for our security, at least half of the vessels are undergoinglong refit or conversion, or are .in a state of reserve from which they cannot” be brought into active service at shortnotice. I am not criticizing the Ministerfor the Navy (Mr. McMahon), the Naval’ Board or the service itself for this state of affairs. The very small post-war naval votes reduced the Royal Australian Navy to a strength that was inadequate for our immediate security and, with our limited resources in dockyards and” personnel, a state of unreadiness was, I arn afraid, inevitable. However, my point is that the nation should not delude itself into thinking that it has a naval force adequate for the immediate defence of this continent, or for making a due contribution to the defence of the free world. If we are to have security for our coasts, our commerce and the passage of our troops in war, we must pay for it, not only in war-time, because we cannot develop a navy overnight, but also in the years of peace that precede war. Vear by year in peace-time our Navy must be steadily developed and maintained. For that reason, I believe that, in a perilous world, an appropriation of £4.3,000,000 for naval services is not enough.
The next question that we should ask ourselves is whether the money appropriated for the Navy is being wisely expended. Is the present and planned fleet of two carriers, two cruisers, fifteen or seventeen destroyers - when they are completed - and a dozen old frigates, the most balanced and useful fleet for our needs that we can obtain for the money available? In order to form a judgment on that question we must anticipate the role of our Navy in the war which appears to be so dangerously near. The threat comes from Russia and the Communist bloc - a closely integrated continental moss in Eastern Europe and Asia. In that respect the position of the free nations will be akin to their position in the last war when they fought the forces of fascism, but there will be very important differences. Luring the next war there will be no enemy battle fleets to threaten us. There will probably be very few enemy armed merchant cruisers because the Russians have few fast merchant vessels. They are not a seafaring people as are the Germans and the Italians and consequently, it is likely that the threat from armed merchant raiders will not be so great as it was during the last war. But the submarine threat will be infinitely greater. It is common knowledge that before the end of the last war the Germans had developed fast and effective submarines of radically new design, the secrets of which are in the hands of the Com munists. Long-range aircraft at sea will constitute a far greater menace than during the last Avar. The development of atomic weapons may not very greatly affect warfare at sea, but with their capacity to wreck ports and dockyards, they will compel the diversion of ships and forces, which, in turn, will greatly increase the importance of repair ships, store ships and auxiliaries. In future the Navy will have to be more mobile than it has been in the past. As I have said on other occasions, we 3hall stand or fall with the free nations, and our contribution to the cause of the free nations, in food, troops or arms, will have to be made at a great distance from our shores. As in past wars, it will be the Navy’s principal joh to keep the sea routes open and to ensure the safety of our convoys.
Let us examine the Navy which we plan in the light of these circumstances. The two fleet carriers are absolutely essential. There has been much controversy about the future of carriers in modern warfare in view of the development of long-range aircraft. I do not want to go into that matter now. I merely point out that in the defence of convoys at sea. especially against submarines, and in offensive operations searching for and destroying submarines at sea, there if no effective substitute for aircraft on the spot under the command of the officer in charge of the escort or searching force. Carrier-based aircraft arc specialized aircraft, specially fitted, slow, and unsuitable for land warfare. They are manned by specially trained crews and perform a function which cannot be effectively discharged by the large, fast, powerful, long-range aircraft based ashore. That is the special and limited function of the aircraft of the light fleet carriers of the Royal Australian Navy, and the carriers are a vital and necessary part of the fleet. More than two carriers are essential to our defence.
Let us now turn to the three cruisers. I believe that they are an unnecessary encumbrance and expense, and that they should be scrapped. For the reasons I have stated, there is little or no place for heavy ships - battleships or cruisers - in the war that I envisage. Our two “‘County” class cruisers, H.M.A.S. Australia and H.M.A.S. Shropshire, are out of date. One of them is certainly worn out and should be disposed of. The conversion of H.M.A.S. Hobart should be stopped forthwith. We cannot provide ourselves with enough small, fast anti-submarine vessels and we should not expend our limited resources on these OtC cruisers. It may be argued that a cruiser in commission is needed for training, but in a navy, the first-line vessels of which should be carriers and fast anti-submarine vessels, the personnel can best be trained in small ships and in the carriers.
On the personnel side, the situation is,
I believe, a good deal better. Although the Navy is, I understand, not yet up to planned strength, its personnel is of the highest order. The young sailors of the Royal Australian Navy are, I believe, well up to the highest standards of British seamen and those of British descent. As in other services and navies, there is a very grave shortage of officers and petty officers trained to the highest professional standards, but from outside observation one would scarcely be aware of that fact as the bearing of the personnel of the Royal Australian Navy is of very high order. A recent development, which is especially commendable, is. the great improvement in the training and the numbers of reserve personnel. In the years which immediately followed World War II. the reserves were allowed to languish and almost to disappear. That was due to the very small sums appropriated by the Parliament for the Navy. I do not blame the Naval Board for that state of affairs. I am glad that it no longer exists a.nd that training and recruiting are proceeding vigorously, though reserves are still well below planned strength. The reserves are reinforced twice annually by the intake of carefully selected national service trainees, and thus we can be assured of a small number of well trained efficient reserves in the war that seems to lie ahead of us. However, there, should be no general satisfaction about the reserve until we have established a reserve fleet, with reserve crews detailed for each ship and with ratings trained for the job which they will fill in a reserve ship, each knowing his actual place in its watch and quarter bill. This -would lessen the drop in efficiency which will otherwise follow mobilization for war, when officers and men are taken out of the ships in commission to man the reserve ships. 1 believe that efficiency can be maintained at a very much higher standard than was achieved at the beginning of the last war if the state of the reserves is planned as I have suggested. I make a plea to the Parliament and to the country for realization of the dependence of this island continent on the sea.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member’s time ha3 expired.
– I should like to answer three questions that have been posed by the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne). I shall take steps to ensure that a comprehensive naval survey as suggested by the honorable member, is made, and at an appropriate time I shall make a statement on the matter to the House.
The honorable member said that we should not delude ourselves into believing that we had a first-class naval organization. That is perfectly true. I do not think that any Government should delude itself into imagining that it has achieved perfection. But I consider that. Australia has planned a balanced naval force which will be well capable of playing its part in conjunction with the forces of the United Nations, and particularly those of the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The Government acts in close liaison with the United States Pacific fleet and the United Kingdom Pacific fleet and so far as the China Seas and Korean waters are concerned we have absolute superiority at the present time. The Government hae powerful and friendly allies in the Pacific.
With reference to the honorable member’s remarks concerning cruisers I should like to inform honorable members that H.M.A.S. Shropshire would not be used in a future war, other than as a head-quarters vessel or bombardment head-quarters. > H.M.A.S. Australia. would play only a limited defensive role. It i3 not intended that it should participate in actions such as those which took place in the Pacific during the last war. Extensive alterations will be commenced to-day on H.M.A.S. Hobart in the State dockyard at Newcastle. That ship will be needed for patrolling the Indian and Pacific Ocean in order to afford protection to merchant vessels. In the opinion of the naval staff Australia and Hobart will, in their own spheres, have a quite important part to play.
.- I listened with great interest to the speech of the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) and to the reply of the Minister for the Navy (Mr. McMahon). I agree with many of the sentiments expressed by the honorable member for Evans. I also agree with the statement that was made by the Minister. It is true that we have not what might be called an “ adequate “ naval force in Australia but at least we have what the Minister has called a “balanced fleet” which the 8,500,000 people of this country can afford to support. The cost of a fleet really adequate to protect our shores would be tremendous. Consequently, when our navy was planned it was encumbent upon the Government’s naval advisers to inform Cabinet of the best force that the people would be able to purchase. They submitted to the government of the day a plan to provide a “ balanced “ naval force. The core of that force was to be aircraft carriers. It is true that our aircraft carriers, the C.A.V. class, are small. This class was selected partly because of cost and partly because of difficulty in recriting man-power. It takes about 1,000 men to man a C.A.V. class carrier. The manning of larger carriers would present the Government with a serious problem. The difficulty that the services have had in securing sufficient recruits since 1945 is well known.
As has been stated in the press from time to time, the larger types of vessels such as battleships and cruisers are things of the past. With the development of underwater craft and aircraft carriers there has been a new approach to naval defence. The core of any modern fleet is the aircraft carrier. Australia has at least two aircraft carriers. One of them, Sydney, is in commission, and the other, Melbourne, is still under construction. It has been reported in the press that the Government has secured the loan from the United Kingdom Government of H.M.S. Vengeance. I believe that we require three aircraft carriers. The Labour Government planned the construction of two of these, Sydney and Melbourne. If the statement which the Prime Minister made two years ago that we had no longer than three years in which to prepare for war is correct, it has become necessary for us to have a third aircraft carrier. Therefore, I am pleased to know that we have secured the loan of a similar type of carrier to Sydney.
Recently there has been a press barrage aimed at our inadequate northern defences. I agree with the opinions that have been expressed. I know something of the north and its defences and of the conditions which obtained there in 1942. The north is just as important now as it was in 1939. The development of Manus Island has not proceeded with sufficient speed. In 1939 Larrakia was stationed at Darwin and Vigilant operated on the Queensland coast. On one occasion when Larrakia was bringing ‘ in certain craft found operating in territorial waters, it broke down and the ships that it was bringing in, brought it in. I suppose the statements that have appeared in the press are correct. An ex-naval officer stated that while he was on a verandah he saw a submarine. The Minister made a statement regarding submarines in the north which may be correct, but it seems strange that a man who has had naval training should make such a statement without any foundation. An untrained man might not be able to distinguish a submarine but this man was able to state the type and size of craft that he saw. The Minister and his advisers should give consideration to basing a vessel on Manus Island for patrol purposes. It should also restore the patrols that operated prior to 1939 in northern Australia. Although we have not Larrakia and Vigilant now, a vessel should be based on Cairns for the purpose of patrolling the Barrier Reef area. A patrol vessel similar to the old Larrakia should be based on Darwin. Perhaps the Government could bring out of reserve a corvette or a frigate to perform that work. Patrol vessels would be of great use in our northern waters, because they would be on the spot and able to investigate immediately the activities of any strange vessels, or any unusual occurrence, off our northern coast. The Minister for the Navy should give serious consideration to stationing at least three patrol vessels in our far north. I suggest that they could be based at Darwin, Cairns and Manus Island, which are the three points of our northern defence triangle. The iron at Yampi Sound, the uranium at Rum Jungle and other places in the Northern Territory and the minerals to be found in the Mount Isa area, are all very important in our defence system. Therefore, they should be carefully protected. Their adequate protection is another reason why anything suspicious that occurs off our northern coasts should be promptly investigated. That is further evidence of the necessity for patrol vessels to be stationed nearby. At present a search for oil is being made in the north of Western Australia. If oil should be discovered there, the need would become all the more imperative for the adequate patrolling of our northern waters.
I again remind honorable members that many of our most important raw materials are to be found in the most exposed parts of the Commonwealth, and r suggest that we should take immediate steps to protect those assets. The most practicable immediate step that could be taken would be to provide one or more patrol vessels in the north. Of course I do not believe that any patrol vessel would be able to protect the area, but it would at least he able to investigate reports of any strange craft that might be sighted about our coasts. Such activity would be as useful as the work before 1939 of Larrakia at Darwin and Vigilant off the eastern coast of Queensland in reporting the landings of the crews of Japanese sampans on our beaches and on islands close to our shores. I make my suggestion in all seriousness, because in the far north no defence works of any consequence are being undertaken at present, except at Manus Island, and our defence activity there is very small. Of course, an aerodrome has recently been built at Mount Isa, and that has some defence value, but apart from that there are no works of a true defence nature at present going on in our far north.
I shall now deal with the matter of railway communication. Two days ago the Acting Premier of Queensland, Mr. Duggan, announced that the Queensland Government had called for a report about the value of a railway link between Dajarra, in western Queensland, and Camooweal. The distance is about 12S miles, and the proposed railway has been estimated to cost about £6,000,000. It is approximately 4S7 miles from Camooweal to Birdum, and a rail link between those two towns would cost about £15,000,000. I suggest that such railways are necessary from a defence viewpoint, because any future threat to Australia must come from the north. In the event of war. it will be necessary to supply the north from the southern parts of the continent. As the honorable member for Evans and the Minister for the Navy have said, the most dangerous threat to our shores in a future war would be made by hostile submarines. No naval weapon has been undergoing more rapid development both inside the organization of the United Nations and outside it, as has the submarine. I have shown that in a future war it will be necessary to supply the north from the south. If war occurred and submarines should be harrying our coastal shipping, our defence material would have to be carried by railways. In those circumstances it is essential that Darwin should be linked with northern Queensland by a railway system. Such a rail link is necessary, not only for defence, but also to develop the Northern Territory and so increase our production of food. It would prove of great value in saving the thousands of head of stock that are periodically lost because of droughts in the Northern Territory. I suggest that the Government should give very serious consideration to allocating about £21,000,000 for the construction of the CamoowealDajarra railway and a railway from Camooweal to Birdum.
When: Hr. Forgan Smith was Premier of Queensland his Government offered to build a railway to Camooweal if the Australian Government would complete the link from Camooweal to Birdum. His suggestion was rejected by the then United Australia party Government which held office in the Commonwealth. In the light of our experience in the last great war, and in view of the knowledge that we have about the possibility of a future attack on Australia, urgent consideration should be given by the Government to the linking up of Birdum to the railway system in Queensland. I certainly suggest that if the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) is not interested in this proposal, then the Minister for the Navy certainly should be.
I now turn to a consideration of the nature of the aircraft that might be used on hostile aircraft carriers.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I desire to deal with two arguments used by the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan). The first related to Manus Island. About this matter I express grievous doubts whether the honorable member knows what he is1 talking about. “When this Government assumed office it found that the preceding. Labour Government had permitted the Manus Island defences to fall into such a state of disrepair that they could not. be used. A great naval asset had been rendered practically derelict because the then Labour Government, which included the honorable member for Kennedy, did not accept its responsibilities and maintain that naval base in the> state of preparedness in which it had been, left by the Americans. It is sheer nonsense for the honorable member to say that this Government has failed in its responsibilities towards Australia’s defence, I think that honorable members on this, side of the House who follow me in this debate will make it quite clear that Manus Island is at present a forward operational naval base and can be used by either the. American or the Australian1
Fleet. This comes ill from a member of the Opposition who, when he was a member of the Labour Government, allowed the establishment at Manus Island to become derelict. Recently, the Government has improved matters on the island, and a service unit will be placed there to accelerate development. The honorable member alleged that on the 5th or 6th May - he did not say in which year, but we are to assume that it was 1950 - a submarine was sighted off Finschafen. An examination of the report indicates how readily honorable members of the Opposition can fall into error. According to the report, an ex-naval officer stated that during the hours of daylight he had heard a submarine. He did not say that he had seen one. It would- be difficult for anyone to identify a sound as that of a submarine. It is true that the same officer stated that later, during the night, he had seen the periscope or some portion of a submarine, but let it not be forgotten that this alleged sighting took place at night.
– The officer said he could identify it as a submarine by its shape.
– Well, let the honorable member go up to New Guinea, and if he can find a submarine there he can have it. He can then bring it back, and sink it off the Maroubra beach.
– What about the wreck at Maroubra?
- I tried to get the wreck removed for the honorable member, but the job proved to be beyond our capacity. For the attempt I expected gratitude, not criticism. We have increased our naval strength in New Guinea waters, and’ we intend to send another Fairmile launch to that area. We in Australia are not without friends, and in the event «rf trouble, we should not have to contend with a powerful fleet or a strong mercantile marine such as the Japanese possessed at the outbreak of the last war. There is. no great naval threat to Australia at the present time. The greatest danger, should war come, would be from submarines, not from vast fleets, either naval or mercantile.
The honorable member for Kennedy mentioned the proposed Dajarra railway. 1 remind him that for eight years a Labour government was in office, but during ali that time nothing was done to build that railway. If the honorable member were really interested in the project, surely he could have induced his Government to take some action. He is not justified in criticizing this Government for failing to do something which his own Government consistently failed to do. I regret that, during a debate on a subject of such importance as the Naval Estimates, such petty and trivial issues should have been introduced, and suchill informed criticism levelled against the Government by a man who should know better.
.- I do not intend to answer the impassioned attack made by the Minister for the Navy (Mr. McMahon) against the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), who was the Minister for the Navy in the Labour Government. Ministers of this Government have little reason to feel self-righteous in the matter of defence preparations. At the beginning of the last war, when Australia was in danger of attack, there was on hand only enough anti-aircraft ammunition to last for 30 seconds had an attack been made. From that starting point, the Labour Government quickly built up a magnificent organization for the production of munitions of war, and was enthusiastically supported by the people, who turned against the present Government parties because of their failure to deal effectively with the crisis through which the country was passing.
I propose to say something about the Department of Defence Production,’ and to start with I should like to know what the Minister for Defence Production (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) does when he is not in this chamber moving for the application of the gag so as to curtail discussion on important issues. In the Federal Guide for 1951, a page and a half are devoted to the activities of the department and its organization, but it appears that the busiest man in the whole organization, not excluding the Minister, was the person who compiled the published matter. We have been told that defence production must bc increased. The Prime Minister (Mr.
Menzies) has told us that the war will occur in three years’ time, although the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), for political purposes, has set the date about two years earlier. In the circumstances, one would have imagined that the Department of Defence Production would have been distributing orders among firms able to supply defence goods. It has not been doing so, and many firms are working only part time, and thousands of men have been dismissed. In my own electorate, scores of factories that could be supplying radio and electrical equipment, textiles, &c, to the Department of Defence are closing their doors, and paying off their employees, because they cannot get government orders. Many of those firms rendered valuable service to the nation during World War II.
I have sent businessmen to the Minister for Defence Production and, to put the matter charitably, all they got after a long wait was courtesy. They certainly did not get any orders worth mentioning. The department is top-heavy. There are too many managers and technicians, but the defence orders are locked away in cabinets instead of going out to the firms that could supply the goods. The Estimates show that salaries for assistant secretaries in the department will this year, absorb £10,758 whilst directors, assistant directors and branch secretaries will receive another £12,656. Professional and -technical officers will be paid £107,912. A total of £209,012 has been set aside for the provision of new staff. Under the heading of Government Undertakings and Establishments, £23,042 hae been set aside for assistant managers, £66,884 for heads of sections, £256,929 for engineers and technical officers and £259,163 for an accountant, subaccountants, and clerks. Numerous officers are drawing salaries in the department, but it appears that practically nothing is being done in the way of distributing defence orders. Officers on the unattached list, pending placement in suitable vacancies, are being paid salaries totalling £145,640, while provision tor new staff amounts to £168,214. The point I make is that this department is top heavy and evidently engaged only on routine work. The department is not distributing orders, or providing for our defence requirements, as it should be. From the financial provision that is made for this year we are justified in expecting better results.
I should like to be given information about the factories among which the Minister has distributed orders. In my electorate, there are a number of hugo radio industries which have rendered excellent service to the defence forces in the past. Some of these industries formerly employed 300 or 400 men on the assembly lines, but to-day only about 30 men are engaged. It is impossible for those factories to obtain defence orders of any kind. One factory, which had a turnover of £750,000 a year and employed skilled, personnel to fulfil defence orders, has received only one order to a value of £4.000 or £5,000. I shall be interested to learn how the Department of Defence Production makes allocations, where the ordei’3 are placed, and whether the Government has made a reasonable attempt, since the closing down of various industries, to increase the volume of defence orders in order to absorb men who have, been dismissed from so-called nonessential industries.
The Department of Defence Production is supposed, to be establishing reserves of munitions for use in an emergency and absorbing employees from nonessential industries. A few days ago, I asked the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McBride) to inform me where vacancies for employment existed in New South Wales. According to tho answer that was given to me, there are no vacancies for ‘workers in factories engaged on defence contracts in that State. Jobs are available in the primary producing, mining and quarrying, manufacturing, building and construction, and transport industries; commerce, finance, and communications; and in public administration, health, education and a few other services. As the large amount of £200,000,000 has been provided for defence purposes during’1 the current financial year, a specialized section should be established in the Commonwealth Employment Service to provide information about vacancies in factories engaged in various forms of defence production. Despite the financial provision made for the Department of Defence Production and the big staff employed in that branch of the Public Service, not one vacancy in any factory engaged on defence work appears in the information supplied to me.
A couple of years ago, the Government announced its intention to stock-pile certain goods for defence purposes. Later, it was found that some of those goods were unobtainable, or perhaps the Government did not try to get them. Whatever the reason might have been, the Government soft-pedalled on its stockpiling policy, and is not now proceeding with it. Consequently, the Department of Defence Production is a top-heavy administrative organization, which plays an ineffective part in securing necessary supplies for defence purposes. Before the Government launched its attack against the so-called non-essential industries, it should have taken the precaution to ensure that sufficient defence contracts would be available to enable other factories to absorb the persons who would lose their employment. Unfortunately, the Minister for Defence Production and the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) failed to take that elementary precaution. Industries, which were classified as nonessential, were forced to close by vicious impositions of sales tax.
Many of those factories could have played an important part in fulfilling defence orders, but they were closed almost overnight by this’ Government, which boasts of its policy of encouraging private enterprise, and lectures us on the value of private enterprise and on the need to preserve competition in industry. However, private enterprise was viciously attacked by the present Administration, and many workers were paid off, and had to seek other employment. The Government should have anticipated that situation by allocating substantial defence orders to industries, and thereby providing employment for the displaced workers. Yet factories in my electorate, capable of fulfilling defence contracts, are not working to capacity, ‘ because orders have . not been lodged by the Department of Defence
Production. There was no “ dovetailing “, and no set programme for defence work when men were being paid off from industries that the Government classed as non-essential. Having those matters in mind, I was amazed to read a couple of pages - dealing with what the Department of Defence Production has to do. I think that a book as big as Webster’s Dictionary could be filled with what it has not done.
I now propose to deal with other aspects of the defence programme. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller), in an excellent speech, has shown that the Government is actually sabotaging the future of the country as a defence unit. Government supporters constantly refer to the subject of defence. They should realize the importance of Australia being effectively armed and in a position to defend itself. But is not the Government busily engaged at the moment in selling Commonwealth assets that are valuable units in war-time and in peace-time? Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited made a magnificent contribution to the national war effort in World War II., but this Government sold to its wealthy friends the Commonwealth’s assets in that enterprise. Now the Government is conducting negotiations for the sale or winding up of Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. It is busy disposing of the machinery of the Joint Coal Board, which is most valuable in peace-time and wartime. The Government is under challenge For its interference with the Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool. The Government is undermining our ability to conduct a war effectively in the future by disposing of these assets. Had it not been for the intervention of the Labour party in this Parliament, the Government would have sold ‘Trans-Australia Airlines, which is ohe of our most effective units for defence purposes. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder), who usually supports the Government, has criticized its policy on several counts, and the Elder Statesman, the right honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Hughes) -has publicly condemned the Government’s policy on these matters.
The Government speaks at length about its defence policy, and the manner in which it is strengthening the various services. I believe that the policy of the Government with respect to defence production is not producing results commensurate with the expenditure, and with the number of persons who are employed in the Department of Defence Production. The Government is disposing of important defence units, and thereby weakening our defence structure. Such a policy must ultimately re-act to the detriment not only of our defence forces but also of the people generally.
It is a scandalous state of affairs. Men are clamouring for work, and huge sums of money are allocated for defence purposes, yet it is impossible for many major industries situated in my electorate to obtain one defence order from the Government. It does not afford me any pleasure to go through my electorate and see huge industries “ going to the wall “ when I know that less important industries have received preferential treatment from the Government. Some important industries are closing because of delay on the part of those persons who are responsible for the allocation of defence orders and are administering the Government’s policy. I make those few comments, because I believe that it is important for us to ensure that money allocated for defence production shall be expended wisely, and that the defence programme shall be soundly based and effectively implemented.
-Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- I do not propose to spend any time in commenting on the attack made by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) on the Minister for Defence Production (Mr. Eric J. Harrison), other than to point out that his implication that the Government is impairing our defence resources by placing such organizations as Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited’ and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited under private enterprise, is completely untrue. To place such organizations under private enterprise is to increase their efficiency, and, consequently, to enhance their value for defence purposes.
I .desire to devote the time available to me to a consideration of the estimates for the Royal Australian Air Force. The amount provided this year is approximately £7,000,000 greater than that provided last year. That is to be expected because the Royal Australian Air Force, in common with the other services, is in the middle of a rapidly expanding programme. I do not consider that it is necessary for me to attempt to defend the Government’s defence policy either in this chamber or to the people of Australia. In the present world conditions and with international relationships strained as they are, we are justified in making the greatest possible effort within our resources to defend the country. Indeed, it is our duty to do so. There is, however, some room for debate as to the best means that we should employ. Australia has not only the responsibility to guard itself but also the responsibility to play a just part in the defence of the British Empire and the western democratic world. I do not contend that ground and sea forces will not play a vital and prominent part in any future conflict that may occur, but I do suggest that having regard to Australia’s geographic, economic and strategic situation, the greatest emphasis should be placed on air power. Australia is an island continent somewhat’ off the normal strategic line of communications and our national resources are limited, compared with those that are available to the major world powers which would inevitably be involved in any big conflict. We have no land frontiers except the minorone in New Guinea. It is true that Australia is not self-sufficient and that we will be dependent to a large degree on open sea communications. The Navy has a vital role in that sphere.
One recent event has enhanced the strategic importance of Australia enormously. That is the discovery of uranium in the Northern Territory. It has also greatly increased the threat of attack and invasion. In the past our enemies have regarded Australia as of relatively little strategic importance during the actual conduct of a war. If they won the war, Australia would fall into their laps. If they lost it, they could not hold Australia even if they had captured it during hostilities. But with the discovery of uranium, the situation has changed. We have now a big responsibility not only to ourselves but to the Empire and to our allies during the progress of a war. We must re-orient defence policy. I suggest that if we analyse the probable plan that a potential enemy would consider, we will find that such a plan would seek first to deny our uranium to us and our allies. In the second place, our enemies would seek to obtain that uranium for their own. use. Therefore, we can reasonably expect that one of the first hostile acts of an enemy would be a heavy air attack on the uranium mines with the object of denying our resources of uranium to us partially or completely.
Clearly the counter to such a move by the enemy is a sufficiently powerful air force to defend our uranium. Such a defence would call for an air force very much stronger than the Royal Australian Air Force is at its present stage of development. In addition to adequate day and night fighter squadrons we would need all the ancillary equipment and services that enable an air force to fight. They would include both land and air-borne radar communications, reserves of air crew, aircraft, ammunition, fuel supplies and a hundred and one other auxiliary organizations and equipment without which an air force cannot function. Never before has Australia presented such an attractive target, and there can be no question that it will attract an attack in the event of a war. The second step that a potential enemy is likely to plan is to obtain our uranium for his own use. That involves the occupation by the enemy of a part or all of this country. If that should occur, we would be faced immediately with a land frontier and at that stage effective ground forces would be essential. Thoughts along those lines give a new significance to the national service training scheme.
However, I believe that the most economic defence and our most effective defence against invasion lies in air power. Any attacking forces can reach this island continent only by ships or aircraft, and no armed forces are more vulnerable than those which are concentrated in ships
Or aircraft before they can land and deploy for battle. Therefore, it is clear that our most effective method of defending ourselves within our resources –and I emphasize that point - is by air power. Certainly an invasion on a full scale would have to be staged by an army landing from ships. But whether the enemy forces come by ships or by aircraft, air power will provide our most effective defence. Enemy forces might be landed by aircraft for a partial occupation. That is perhaps a reasonable proposition because one can imagine quite readily that if our uranium resources are as valuable as we believe them to be, an enemy would consider worth while a considerable effort to occupy the north-west corner of Australia embracing the uranium fields at Rum Jungle and the port of Darwin. An enemy which was successful in such a move could then produce uranium for its own use and ship it to its own manufacturing centres.
I know that many critics deny that air power alone can be an effective weapon of defence, but I submit that innumerable historical’ incidents have proved that air power, in fact, can be effective. We celebrate in Australia each year the anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea. By tradition, most people think that it was a naval battle, but it was a naval battle only in the sense that it was fought at sea. In fact, it was an air battle. The surface ships did not come within sight of each other. They were not within range, and shots were not exchanged. The result of the battle was determined by air power, and it is clear that the action removed the danger of a Japanese invasion of Australia. Even prior to the Battle of the Coral Sea, air power played a large part in defeating Japan’s invasion plans. The enemy had established its invasion launching base at Rabaul, and constant air bombardment of the accumulation of ships and supplies there delayed the attempt to invade Australia sufficiently to enable the allies to concentrate the carrier force that was finally successful in the Coral Sea. Another example of the effectiveness of air power was provided in Malaya. Malaya was invaded because we did not have the necessary air power in that theatre. The character of the war in Malaya was changed overnight when Japanese aircraft sank two of our capital ships, Prince of Wales and Repulse. As a result of that action, Japan gained complete supremacy at sea and was able at will to pour its forces into Malaya. Such a situation could not have developed if our Command had had at it3 disposal the air power necessary to defend Malaya.
There can be no tenable argument, in my view, against the need to provide Australia with means of defence in the present uneasy and difficult times. We are a young nation with very limited resources of man-power and potential war supplies. We should be foolish if we did not analyse the situation very carefully, and I believe that every one who does so must inevitably come to the conclusion that the surest means of defence that is conceivably within our resources is the development of the Royal Australian Air Force.
– I am glad to have the opportunity to support the opinions of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock) on the subject of the proper defence of Australia. However, I first make a plea to Government supporters. The period of time allotted for the consideration of the group of Estimates that, is now under review is too brief.
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) agreed to it on behalf of the Opposition.
– That may be so, but his agreement does not bind all members of the Opposition. We are not slaves to party discipline as are honorable members on the Government side of the chamber. I am entitled to express an independent opinion now, as I did when the Labour Government was in power. 1 protested then that sufficient time was not made available for the consideration of the Estimates in detail, and I do so again. I ask the sensible supporters of the Government to consider the importance of allowing sufficient time for the consideration of the Estimates. We are allowed only seven hours-
– The committee is allowed a total of 44 hours overall.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison), with his usual stupidity, has failed to understand what I am talking about. 1 was about to say that we have been allotted a period of seven hours in which to consider defence Estimates for a total of £200,000,000. That is an unreasonable limitation. Each honorable member is allowed to speak for only fifteen minutes. Had the honorable member for Indi been permitted, to continue his speech beyond that brief term, I am sure that, from the wealth of his war experience, he could have demonstrated the need to adopt the policy that he has proposed. He stated a sound case in support of his opinion, and I am glad to endorse it.
Of the total of £200,000,000 proposed to be appropriated for defence expenditure a greater proportion than the Government has allotted should be devoted to the air programme. I realize that the Minister for Air and Minister for the Navy (Mr. McMahon) is in a very difficult position. I was in the same position for three months when I was Minister for the Navy as well as Minister for Air, and I know that it is almost impossible to reconcile the opposing points of view of the two departments. The portfolios of the Department of the Navy and the Department of Air should be separated. Perhaps the Minister for Defence (Mr. McBride) and the Minister for Defence Production f Mr. Eric J. Harrison ), who are men of wide experience, can combine their wisdom in order to resolve the differences of opinion between the three armed services. We should not indulge in the sort of expenditure on the Army that the Government lias planned. Our man-power resources are so limited that the Government’s programme cannot be carried out without hampering the development of both primary and secondary industries. The Government is calling loudly for increased primary pro duction, but, at the same time, it is trying to induce men to join the Army and is sending troops to Korea. The battle that is now being waged in Korea provides a clear illustration of the force of the argument of the honorable member for Indi. An attempt is being made to force an armistice by the use of air power. The United Nations Command realizes that, if it has sufficient air power and uses it wisely, its chances of negotiating an armistice agreement will be considerably enhanced. The United Nations forces have lost many men in the Korean war, and Australia cannot afford to make such sacrifices.
The Government will achieve much better results if it increases expenditure on the Royal Australian Air Force instead of continuing to send overseas large numbers of men who could be more usefully engaged in primary production. Men should be encouraged to enter the aircraft construction industry or the shipbuilding industry in preference to the Army. By that means, we could be assured that the Air Force and the Navy would be effective if their services were needed to defend Australia. The Government is pursuing a bad defence policy. I do not wish to criticize individual Ministers, because I am sure that they are doing their best to serve Australia. However, the programme that they have drafted is based on false premises. I protest again at the fact that each honorable member is allowed only fifteen minutes in which to discuss the numerous items of the Estimates that are now under consideration. I should like to refer to many of the items in the proposed vote for the Department of Air.
– The Standing Orders allow each honorable member to speak for a total of 30 minutes.
– We could improve on that allotment of time with the assistance of the Minister. I hope that, even at this late stage, he will agree to be more generous. Of the total amount of £200,000,000 proposed to be appropriated for defence purposes, £47,29^,000 is to be set aside for the Navy, £75,370,000 for the Army and £55.830.000 for the Air Force. The remainder is to be distributed between the Department of Supply, the Department of Defence
Production and the Department of Defence. As the honorable member for Indi has said, there should be a careful analysis of the position and the Estimates should be presented in such a way that honorable members will be able to see how much money is to be expended by the respective departments. Although the Estimates are presented in some detail, in my opinion it would be much better if more detail were given. It may perhaps be said that that course was not followed by the previous Labour Government. That is true, but if the position could be remedied I have no doubt that honorable members would be better able to express their opinions.
This Government, which intends to get rid of the most valuable assets we possess, proposes to devote £200,000,000, to defence purposes in the current financial year. I venture to offer the criticism that it is pursuing an entirely wrong policy. An anti-Labour Government was dismissed from office in 1941 because the electors considered that it was not making a real war effort. The real war effort was made by the Labour Government which succeeded it. “When we came to office, rail transport was in such a state that if we wanted to shift a division of troops from Western Australia to Adelaide or Melbourne it took a month or six weeks to do so. We should devote more attention to our railways and endeavour to make our shipping facilities better than they are. The ship-building industry was encouraged by the Labour Government but is not being fostered by the present Government which apparently is thinking of selling our assets. In discussing the proposed sale of the Commonwealth line of ships, the Melbourne Age, in its leading article on the 4th December last, said -
It is of the utmost importance that, whether the ships be sold or retained, our ship-building industry, its installations, skilled craftsmen, technicians and all the things that are essential to fulfilment of its role, should be continued as a going concern under control of the National Government, as now, and regarded as an indispensable part . of the country’s provision for defence.
The article continued: -
The paramount factor is that industry is one of the essentials of defence and national survival.
That should be obvious to everybody. Yet this Government, which believes that £200,000,000, should be devoted to defence expenditure this year, proposes to sell assets which Australia will have to buy back again at some future time. How does it know that the combine which will take over the Commonwealth line of ships will not sell them to a potential enemy? There is no guarantee that that will not happen. The Opposition is not so much alarmed at the proposal to sell the ships as at what may happen as the result of the sale. The sale of the Government shares in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited has not been forgotten. The honorable member for Indi has referred to the part which radar plays in modern warfare. I appreciate the force of that statement because I know. that the expenditure of the Department of Air has been increasing steadily on account of the necessity to provide far the use of radar. Yet the Government has sold our interest in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited at a time when electronics is playing a far greater part in defence than at any other time in our history. It will play an even greater part in the future.
The proposed disposal of Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited has been referred to by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) and other honorable members. My only comment on that matter is that if the Government disposes of that organization it will commit a crime against the people of Australia. Unfortunately those who support this Government speak as if they are the only ones who are able to deal with such matters.
– Hear, hear!
– I expected that some honorable member opposite would say “ Hear, hear ! “ The people of Australia recognize that Labour carried on the defence of the country in such a way that it was saved from capture by the enemy. The supporters of the Government are not the only people who know anything about the defence of the country. In my opinion the disposal of instrumentalities such as the Commonwealth line of ships is detrimental to national defence. The shipping industry is one of our lines of defence, as is the aircraft industry. We must devote our attention to training men so that if a war comes - and we know that we shall not be able to defend our country alone but will have to rely on our allies - we shall be able to produce sufficient food to supply the allied troops who come to this country. We must ensure that there will be sufficient skilled men here to maintain the various, shipping and aircraft services. If we fail to do so we shall be letting down the people of Australia. It is likely that if war breaks out again we shall be struck so suddenly that we may be left without a defence potential.
I cannot support for one moment the policy of the Government in devoting so much of the proposed defence expenditure of £200,000,000 to the army side. In my opinion the expenditure on the army should be reduced considerably.
– The honorable member is putting forward his individual opinion against that of the chiefs of staff.
– It is obvious that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) thinks that such a reduction might affect his importance. I appreciate, of course, that the honorable gentleman might not like such a course to be adopted. However, I have not indulged in an attack upon the Army-
– The honorable member has made a personal attack instead.
– I have not even done that. I believe in self-defence as well as in defence estimates. In my opinion defence expenditure is not being apportioned in a way that will be of the greatest benefit to Australia. In saying so, I speak from some experience during a period of war, and I know that that, is the view of persons who have devoted thought, to the subject.
The honorable member for Indi has pointed out that our economic situation has been changed by the discovery of uranium in the Northern Territory and that, as a consequence of that discovery, the Northern Territory is more likely to be made the target of an enemy attack. He suggested that we could defend it more readily if we had a line of aircraft available to repel a possible attack. He pointed out the lesson of the Coral Sea and referred to the effect on the campaign in Malaya during World War II. when two or the most important vessels of the British fleet were lost because of inadequate protection from the air.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I have listened with great interest to the speeches of honorable members opposite. It is comforting to know that at least some of them appreciate the dangers which face this country and are prepared to admit that we should be in a position to defend ourselves. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford) stated that the Labour Government was able to defend this country and to save it from being captured by the enemy. I remind him that that was possible only be; cause the foundations of the defence measures had been laid by the previous Government. The late Mr. Curtin paid a tribute to that Government when he said that his Government would not have been able to carry on the defence work if it had not been for the foundations which had been laid so solidly.
I wish to devote my remarks mainly to our defences in the north of Australia and the islands adjacent to the north. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Manus Island, upon which attention has again been focused as a result of the ANZUS conference that was held at Honolulu. Manus Island is of vital importance to the defence of Australia. Only when one visits the island, does one realize fully the tragedy of the action of the Chifley Government in kicking out the Americans who were prepared to remain at Manus Island and develop it as a defence base. The island is situated about 240 miles to the north-east of New Guinea. It has one of the finest harbours, with natural defences, in the Pacific. I am pleased that the Government has commenced the task of re-establishing Manus Island as a modern naval and air base. However, that task should not be solely the responsibility of Australia. I agree with the honorable member forKennedy (Mr. Riordan) that this country does not possess adequate financial resources for that purpose. At the same time, the Government has already made substantial progress with that work, and within the limit of its means is doing the job efficiently and expeditiously. In this respect, I commend the Minister for the Navy (Mr. McMahon). Manus Island is ideal for the construction of not only a naval base but also an air base. Reefs provide natural defences for the harbour against naval attack, and the island’s physical features provide natural defences against attack from the air. It is clear that in any future war, we shall be obliged to throw open that base for use by our allies. As our natural ally in the Pacific is the United States of America, the Government should immediately open negotiations with the American Government with a view to enlisting its help in the maintenance and development of that base.
I agree with the honorable member for Kennedy that the construction of a railway to link Dajarra, Camooweal and Birdum, would be of immense defence value. I should like to see that work proceeded with as soon as possible. I recall that before World War II. the then Premier of Queensland, Mr. Forgan Smith, made an offer that his Government would construct a railway from Dajarra to Camooweal if the Commonwealth would construct a line from Camooweal to Birdum. If that work had been undertaken at that time, much of the transport difficulties that were experienced in the movement of troops and materials to the north of Queensland during the recent conflict would have been obviated. I am aware that the construction of railways of that kind is essentially a State responsibility. However, as the Queensland Government has not adequate financial resources to undertake the construction of such a railway and as the work would have tremendous defence value, I can see no reason why the Australian Government should not accept joint responsibility with the State in such a matter. Another railway, the construction of which would be justified from a defence -point of view, would be a line to link Charleville and Blackall. During the recent war, the movement of vast quantities of materials and troops to the north of Queensland was accomplished largely because we were favoured with a dry period. There can be no doubt that if the rainfall had been normal at that time, military transports which literally choked the roads leading to the north would have been hopelessly bogged down. One can imagine our predicament in such circumstances, because at the time the Japanese had reached Rabaul and their naval forces had entered the Coral Sea. Thus were we enabled only by good fortune to move vast quantities of military equipment to the north. Therefore, the Government should co-operate with the State in the construction of vital railways to link the southern and northern portions of Queensland. It is clear that any future attack upon Australia will be made from the north along the same lines as the Japanese followed in World War II. The Government should also give urgent attention to the provision of airstrips in northern Queensland that would be capable of taking modern aircraft. During the recent war, many strips were established throughout the State, but they are not suitable for use by jet aircraft. As I am not an authority on military affairs, I shall not attempt to estimate the amount that the Government should expend on such work. I make these representations solely because it is obvious that any future attack upon Australia will be made from the north and we can best, prepare to meet such an attack by strengthening our defences in that area.
.- The proposed vote in respect of defence services as a whole amounts to £200,000,000. As that sum is one-fifth of the total expenditure for which the Government is budgeting for the current financial year, its expenditure will place a severe strain upon the Australian economy. Therefore, it is the duty of the Parliament to ensure that the money shall be expended to the best possible advantage. It would be idle to deny that the international situation has deteriorated in recent months. I am still of opinion that the Parliament made a great mistake when it ratified the Japanese Peace Treaty. Already, signs are not wanting that the Japanese are regaining their pre-war arrogance. The militarists and t.l’r Zaibatsu, who controlled Japan before World War II., are again back in the saddle in that country. The Government’s view, of course, is that the Pacific security pact cancels out any dangers that may flow from its action in signing the Japanese Peace Treaty. However, I have not much faith in the Pacific -security pact, because any of the signatories may withdraw from it merely by giving twelve months’ notice of its intention to do so. Consequently, having regard to the vagaries of international events, we may npt escape the dangers that are inherent in the Japanese peace treaty and about which the Opposition warned the Government. In these circumstances, the Parliament must do everything in its power to enable Australia to defend itself effectively. Members of the Labour party recognize that the first responsibility of any government, regardless of party, is the maintenance of the sovereignty of Australia. As to how that sovereignty can be maintained there is an honest difference of opinion between the opposing parties in this chamber. We are all agreed that the first duty of any government in relation to defence is to give secure and inspiring leadership to the people, and in turn, the people must share a deep and united belief in the necessity for the government’s preparations for defence. The defence programme upon which we have embarked required an expenditure of £169,4’94,719 during the last financial year and it is expected that £200,000,000 will be expended under this heading during the current financial year. This expenditure will impose social stresses on, and sacrifices by the people. However, the people will be prepared to bear these burdens cheerfully if the Government takes adequate steps to protect the things that they value most in life. We should utilize every possible opportunity to cultivate friendly relations with the Asian nations. We on this side of the chamber believe that our security depends to a considerable degree upon the elimination of the colour factor. We must convince the Asian peoples that we do not despise them because of their colour. Unless we assail this formidable task cheerfully and optimistically we shall only be espousing a lost cause.
All honorable members agree, I think, that our defence policy should embrace all aspects of industrial, naval, aerial and military preparedness. Primary production must be increased, so that Australia will be able to assume the role of a supplier of food in any future war. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) has already referred to the necessity to develop our strategic railways and roads. Our industrial potential must be restored to the degree of efficiency that existed during the last war,’ and not allowed to languish in the future. Under the economic strain of the last few months the efficiency of some of our industries has tended to deteriorate.
I shall now make a few observations about stock-piling for defence, which is a very important aspect of defence preparedness. Australia is not the only nation that is faced with the necessity to stock-pile. Should we become involved in another war, we may experience even greater difficulty in obtaining raw materials than existed during the last war. It will be remembered that Great Britain declared war on Germany on the 3rd September, 1939. It was not until the 7th December, 1941, however, that hostilities were extended to the Pacific area, by Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour. Consequently, we had an opportunity, during the intervening period of an uneasy peace with Japan, to import defence materials. In the future we may not have such an opportunity. We obtain large quantities of raw materials vital to the prosecution of war from the Far East. As it is likely that that area will be the seat of hostilities in any future world conflict, we may find ourselves in “ queer street “ unless we have accumulated an adequate stock-pile of those raw materials. Our neighbours of the Far East are the logical peace-time suppliers of certain commodities to this country. We could not hope for a continuance of the present importing arrangements if a state of war were to develop in the Pacific.
By far the greatest proportion of natural rubber comes from the Far East. . In 1949, Malaya produced 47 per cent, of the world’s output of this commodity; Indonesia. 29 per cent.: Thailand. 6 per cent.: Ceylon, 6 per cent.; and Borneo, 4 per cent. Only 8 per cent, of the world’s output comes from other regions, principally the Latin American States. During 1949-50 Australia imported 92 per cent, of its requirements of natural rubber from Malaya ; 4 per cent, from the Territory of Papua and New Guinea ; and 2 per cent, from Ceylon. If we were cut off from Malaya during any future conflict it would be very difficult for us to obtain our requirements of raw rubber. That was our experience during World War II. In 1941-42 we imported 370,000 cwt. of raw rubber from Malaya compared with only 145,000 cwt. in 1944-45. In the intervening period we imported supplies from Ceylon, India, and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, where output had been’ suddenly boosted. If, during any future global war we were unable to import raw rubber from those countries our war effort would be hampered.
Tin is another commodity that is vital to the prosecution of a war. To-day we import only a relatively small quantity of tin from the Far Eastern countries, because we have not yet developed the tinplate industry of this country to any appreciable degree. Australia is. the world’s fourth largest consumer of tinplate, most of which is imported from the United States of America and the United Kingdom. With the completion of the tinplate mill at Port Kembla that is now under construction, it will be necessary for us to import large quantities of tinplate ore. To-day Malaya and Indonesia produce 56 per cent, of the world output of tin concentrate. Thailand, China, and Burma together produce about 5 per cent, of the world’s output. Bolivia and the Belgian Congo also produce tin concentrate. If, during any future war, we were cut’ off from the Far Eastern sources of supply of tin concentrate, our tinplate industry would suffer. Therefore it is vitally important that we should stock-pile tin concentrate.
I come now to oil, which is a very important commodity in the prosecution of a war. As honorable members are aware, the closing of the Abadan refinery reduced the availability of oil to Australia. Previously we had obtained from 25 per cent, to 33£ per cent of our requirements of oil from Iran. After the war, and up to the time that the Abadan refinery closed, our imports from Iran increased steadily. Whereas in 1947 we imported about 790,000,000 gallons of oil from Iran, bur imports rose to 1,309,000,000 gallons in 1950. Since the Abadan refinery closed we have imported large quantities of oil from the Far East. We must realize that this source of supply would not be available to us should another war occur in. the Pacific area. A successful outcome of the present negotiations in relation to the Abadan refinery does not appear likely. Before the last war about two-thirds of Australia’s requirements of oil were obtained from the Netherlands East Indies. The remaining one-third was obtained in approximately equal quantities from Iran, Bahrein, and the United States of America. We still obtain about twothirds of our requirements of oil from the Far East. As this source of supply would be cut off from us during any future global war, we should consider alternative sources qf supply. During the last war we obtained. 60 per cent, of our requirements of oil from the United States of America, and the remaining 40 per cent, from Iran and Bahrein. In the event of our becoming involved in another war the maintenance of supplies of oil to this country would present a very serious problem, to the Government. Therefore, the oil refining facilities that are at present under construction in Australia are very important from a defence point of view. The plant at present in use in this country is capable of refining about 15 per cent, of our requirements of oil. I am sure that all honorable members are pleased that additional oil refineries are to be established in Australia. The plant that is under construction in Geelong by the Shell Company of Australia Limited will make an important contribution to our oil refining capacity. In any event, a lot of hard thinking must be done about oil imports and the stock-piling of oil for use in the event of war.
Phosphates are important both in war and in peace, because they are vital to primary production. Sixty per cent, of our phosphate rock comes from the Pacific area, mainly from Nauru, and 15 per cent, from Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean. The remainder comes from North Africa, hut it is of such a low grade that it is not of much use. If, in. the event of war, nearby sources of supply were lost, we should be dependent upon supplies from Egypt, Morocco and Algeria, but, as I have said, the phosphate rock from those countries is of an exceptionally low grade and is not of much use in primary production.
I hope that the Government is giving serious consideration to the problem of stock-piling sulphur, another important commodity. We must have sulphur for phosphatic fertilizers, and it is required in large quantities also for industrial purposes. It was stated recently that industrial sulphur consumption is the index of a nation’s industrial development. Sulphur can he produced from sulphide minerals such as .zinc and lead concentrates, from pyrites, and from elemental rock salts. We produce zinc concentrates in this country and, from them, we derive about a half of our sulphur requirements. Under present circumstances, we must import substantial quantities of elemental sulphur from the United States of America and from Italy, but, unfortunately, world supplies of sulphur are limited. That presents us with a very thorny problem, because if the United States of America or Italy became involved in a war we should be struggling for sulphur. I hope that the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) is giving earnest consideration to this problem. Numerous other commodities that are necessary to implement a war effort must be imported and stock-piled. We get antimony from Thailand, copper and bar iron from Japan, manganese from India and New Caledonia, and chromium from New Caledonia. Supplies can be obtained also from other countries and from domestic production.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.’
.- The debate this afternoon has been very interesting, because honorable members on both sides of the chamber have made an objective approach to the problem of defence. A notable speech from the Opposition side of the chamber was that made by the honorable member for
Ballarat (Mr. Joshua). Unfortunately, there is still a repetition by some members of the Opposition of the false legend that between 1939 and 1941, the present Government parties, which were then in office, let the country down. A striking answer to that allegation is to be found in words that were uttered by the late Mr. Curtin, when he was Prime Minister of this country. On the 12th October. 1941, he said -
I have to pay tribute to the Government that preceded my own for the constructive work they have done in defence and the foundations they had laid.
On the 18 th October, 1941, Mr. Curtin said -
The Navy was at its highest pitch of efficiency, as demonstrated by the notable exploit* of our ships overseas. The home defence army was well trained, and its equipment had been greatly improved. The strength of the Air Force had been largely increased, both in respect of home defence squadrons and the training resources of the Empire air scheme. The equipment of the Air Force has also been much improved. Finally, munitions production and the development of productive capacity over a wide range of classes, including aircraft, was growing weekly.
Those words constitute a complete answer to the false legend which some members of the Opposition attempt to establish that the present Government parties did nothing about defence when they were in office previously. It is not proper to accuse this Government of failure to make adequate provision for the defence of Australia. Surely one of the most brilliant successes, politically speaking, that this country has seen for a long time is the national service training scheme. I believe that the members of the Opposition who voted against the measure under which the scheme was established must, if they are honest, admit now that the measure was justified, and agree that the scheme has been successful and has been accepted by the people on the whole.
I want to make some comments about the Royal Australian Air Force Reserve. I am seriously concerned about the drift of that reserve and, I regret to say, its inaction. Just after the end of the last war, the Minister for Air, who was then the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford), established the Royal
Australian Air Force General Reserve. All that was required of ex-members of eke Royal Australian Air Force who joined that reserve was to register their names, addresses and occupations, and to attend once a month a so-called training night, when films were shown and accasionally a lecture was given. I am a member of that reserve, so I know what [ am talking about. Since then, as far as I know, no effective attempt has been made to improve that position. The General Reserve of the Royal Australian Air Force is literally a paper reserve, which does not mean a thing. As every year goes by, ex-members of the Royal Australian Air Force, especially air crew members, become further out of touch with modern developments. Consequently, it will take longer to make them familiar with present-day training methods and air operations than would have been required if they had received further training.
I realize that it is difficult to devise methods by which members of the General Reserve can be kept in touch with modern developments, but I believe that it could be done. 1 have made a suggestion previously which I think is still worthy of consideration. I suggest that a touring squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force be formed to visit areas in which there are aerodromes but not permanent Royal Australian Air Force stations. The squadron could take to those aerodromes, say, Lincoln and Mustang aircraft, together with servicing crows, and, on the spot and there and then, give to members of the General Reserve the practical training that they require to keep them up to date. When I advanced that suggestion three or four years ago, I was told that such a squadron would be too expensive, but I believe that the advantages that would be derived from it would more than offset the expense involved. It may be argued that what I have suggested would, in practice, be difficult to do. One aspect of air power in which the Allies never competed effectively with the Germans during the last war was in relation to the mobility of their air forces. They were very much more statically inclined than the Germans were. We have to learn the necessity of. and achieve, mobility for our air squadrons, which is essential in a country that has such large distances as has Australia. I believe, therefore, that such a touring squadron would be of the most practical benefit, not only to the permanent personnel who would carry out the training but also to the reservists whom they would train.
There is one particular aspect of background training in regard to which I should i,ike to pay a tribute to the Minister for Air (Mr. McMahon). I refer to the Air Training Corps in which I am at present actively engaged, and of which I may therefore claim to speak with some knowledge. I am glad to observe that the whole concept of the Air Training Corps has been extended greatly. Efforts are being made to make the training course more interesting for the cadets, and the Minister should be congratulated on the improvement of conditions in the corps that has been achieved. The training of active reservists has also increased find there are now active training squadrons in every State. I have, however, some criticism to offer in relation to that matter. The Minister for Air in the previous Government said about two years ago that the Air Board intended to attach at least one flight to Western Junction in Tasmania for the purpose of inaugurating active reserve training there. So far there has been no sign of the provision of that flight, and I ask the Minister to examine the position immediately in order to ascertain the steps that can be taken to have the undertaking of the previous Minister, Mr. White, actually carried out, because it is well-known in Tasmania that the proposal was made, and many of the active reservists who would have been engaged in that training are disappointed because of the lack of fulfilment of it. I had hoped that the provision of that training flight would have been the thin edge of the wedge, and would have led to the establishment of a Royal Australian Air Force station, to which Tasmania is entitled, and which it should have. The lack of a permanent Royal Australian Air Force station and of a field permanently used for the training of cadets is a serious drawback to air training in Tasmania. I hope the Minister will examine the matter from the long-term point of view, and that as a result of his examination a Royal Australian Air Force station will be established in Tasmania.
I pay a tribute to the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock), who does not apeak very often, for his remarks on these Estimates, which are worthy of close attention. I consider that his general treatise on the subject of air power was extremely sound, although I may be prejudiced in that regard because I share his views. However, any fair-minded person would agree that the honorable member put the proposition forcibly. I have no doubt, just as the honorable member for Indi has no doubt, that the most important force to ensure the effective defence of this nation is the air force. It seems to be plain common sense to me that, with our geographical position, long coastline, small population and limited resources, we must rely on a force that could be concentrated quickly because it would have a high degree of mobility, and which, when compared with the’ results that it could achieve, would cost us little. I believe the Air Force to be the only such force that we have. Nobody would be so foolish as to suggest seriously that there is no place in our defence scheme for the Army and the Navy, but I contend seriously that the Air Force should have predominance as the service on which we should rely for the protection of Australia. To that end I hope that the policy that- is to be effected will be shaped accordingly.
I was interested in the remarks of the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) about naval defence forces. His contention that we require aircraft carriers and light escort vessels was perfectly sound and I hope that the Government will consider an extension of our present carrier strength by the acquisition of light aircraft carriers. It is possible that the largest kinds of aircraft carriers would be beyond our financial capabilities, but it would be of some’ benefit if we obtained more air protection for our naval defences by adding more light aircraft carriers to the two that we already have. We might even obtain some carriers of the utility type that the Americans used during the last war to protect surface vessels in the
Atlantic. The provision of such carriers would assist us to give more air protection to the Navy. As I have said before, the protection of Australia resides in a large and effective air force.
– I was interested in the remarks of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) about stockpiling. I agree with him that in times of national emergency the nation should, as far as possible, have within its own control a group of strategic materials that are essential or desirable for the waging of a war of defence. In 1950, the Government gave consideration to that requirement and took steps to stockpile certain strategic materials, for which purpose it set aside large sums of money. At the same time as we were trying to stockpile strategic materials, however, other countries were also trying to do the samething, because such outbreaks of international activity tend to occur in cycles. The result of that fact was that a danger arose of prices being pushed up by the process. The Commonwealth moved rather carefully in relation to its purchases of scarce strategic materials, and as a result it may be said fairly that it purchased prudently and well. However, shortly afterwards the enthusiasm of the nations for stockpiling receded, because it was believed that the need for it was less urgent. Prices then began to fall and, oddly enough, the strategic commodities that we had been seeking became more available, so much so that in some instances it became unnecessary to stockpile them. I assure the honorable member for Batman and the committee that we are keeping this matter under close review, and that, as far as we are able to do so, we intend to ensure that the nation shall not be short of vital materials in an emergency. The honorable member mentioned tinplate, which was one of the materials that we had difficulty in stockpiling at the time that we wanted it, because it was in short supply owing to the fact that other nations were competing for the available world supplies. Wc are now able to obtain it, if we wish, for stockpiling. However, as our own current stocks of tinplate have risen to a higher level than they have reached for a long time, and the national consumption for tinplate having fallen, the need to stockpile tinplate has receded.
– And the price of tinplate is lower !
– Yes, it is cheaper than it was before. Self-praise is perhaps no recommendation, but I believe that in relation to stockpiling the Government has used methods that have saved the taxpayers a good deal of money that would have had to be expended had we proceeded in any other way than the way in which we did proceed.
– Was the Government wise or lucky?
– It was both wise and lucky, but I do not care which so long as we saved the money.
I have risen principally to reply to some observations that were made late last night by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) about uranium. What the honorable member said was of some importance, and I believe it to be necessary that I should reply to him. However, I preface my reply by pointing out that any Minister who wishes to speak on a subject such as this, is confronted by certain difficulties. Private members, on this side of the chamber at least, are allowed considerable freedom in what they say, and in the criticisms that they wish to make. That is how we conduct our affairs, and Ave shall continue to conduct them in that way. However, a Minister cannot always say all that he would like to say, as honorable members opposite who have had ministerial experience will concede. A Minister often -finds himself unable to defend himself or his government because the things that he would have to say to justify completely his own, and his government’s fiction, cannot be said publicly. But, within those limitations I believe that the committee should be made aware of certain facts. First, the honorable member for Mackellar said that the sum of £45,000 provided in the Estimates under the heading “ Defence Mineral Requirements “, was an absurd allocation for the production of uranium in this country. Had he inquired about the matter– I remind the committee that every member of the Cabinet is freely accessible to honorable members who seek explanations about items in the Estimates - he could have ascertained that that item is merely a contingency vote which ha.r no real relation to the production of uranium. Expenditure on uranium is tobe found under other proposed votes. The honorable member spoke also pf the fabulous resources of uranium in Australia. In this chamber I have consistently tried to preserve a balance in this matter by saying that, although we hope and believe that we have substantial resources of uranium, it would be wrong to exaggerate their value. 1 believe that the real worth of uranium to Australia is that its production will open up hitherto undeveloped territory, and will make this country more important than ever to its allies. That is the great significance of uranium discoveries. Therefore, I am content to leave the matter at that until time and circumstances prove exactly what we. have.
My next point arises out of the brilliant speech of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock) on the defence of our north. An over-statement of the value of our uranium resources might well have the most undesirable result of drawing the attention of our potential enemies, whoever they may be, to the strategic value of northern Australia and to its vulnerability, and so might start a chain of events which, in the long-run, would involve this country in an attack which otherwise it would not have suffered. Therefore, considerable restraint should be exercised .against making dramatic and exaggerated statements on this matter.
It is alleged that we are not doing enough to hasten the production of uranium. We have been accused by the honorable member for Mackellar of having been content to follow the policy of the Labour party. I am .sure that my friends opposite will not consider that to be a vice; but we have done more than that. Circumstances have changed, and many things that -have already been done indicate quite clearly -that we have gone far beyond the Labour Government’s policy. I shall enumerate some of those things. The story of uranium in Australia really began only a few months ago. Not until October, 1951, did the Bureau of Mineral Resources locate a seam of uranium that was found to be really valuable. Up to. that time, there was a strong possibility that exploration for uranium at Bum Jungle would be abandoned altogether. White’s discovery had been made, but it had proved disappointing. Then we had tried again and again, and on two or three occasions had almost decided to abandon the project. However, we persevered. A tunnel was driven in another direction and, suddenly, a much more encouraging seam, was discovered. As I have said, that was towards the end of 1951. At that time, there was no market for uranium in the immediate sense. We knew in a general way that uranium was valuable and we knew that our allies must be wanting it. Therefore, we took what we considered to be the proper step. As soon as the hew discovery was made, we brought to Australia some top-line distinguished representatives of the Atomic Energy Commission of the United States of America. They came here at our invitation. That carries the story to March of this year. When the visitors investigated the new find, they confirmed our belief that we had extremely encouraging prospects. The Commonwealth, of course, also gave great encouragement to the activities of the South Australian Premier, Mr. Playford, at Radium Hill. With the assistance of the Australian Government, ah agreement was reached, as the committee has heard, between the body known as the Combined Development Agency, the South Australian Government, and the Australian Government for the development of the South Australian deposits. At the same time, we immediately sent to the United States of America a shipment of some hundreds of tons of uranium ore from Bum Jungle. Our aim was to ascertain from the best metallurgists and mineralogists in the world the kind of treatment that would be required to produce the best results so that we could obtain the right plant to deal with the ore on the “spot. In discussions with the representatives of the Combined Development Agency, a course of action was determined. That course of action, which has the approval of the
Combined Development Agency, is now being followed by the Australian Government. In addition, at our invitation, the Combined Development Agency, which is a branch of the Atomic Energy Commission, has already sent three experts to Australia to help us. As honorable members have been informed, a draft agreement has been discussed in Washington and Australia. It is now back in Washington for further discussion. In the meantime, we have not been content merely to wait on events. We have begun negotiations with top-level mining companies in Australia. Those companies, I emphasize, are Australian and not foreign. We are endeavouring to arrange for the rapid development of Rum Jungle. I had my last discussion with my colleagues and with representatives of the organizations concerned only a few days ago, and I hope that, before very long, we shall have an agreement which will result in the development of the Rum Jungle area. Of course, wrapped up in this matter of the Rum Jungle uranium deposits, is also the wider question of what we are going to do with uranium in Australia, quite apart from its defence use. The Government has in existence, and has had for a year, a committee of very able scientists and administrators by which it is being advised on the future of atomic energy for industrial as well as defence purposes. Sir John Cockcroft, a distinguished atomic energy expert, has been in this country at the invitation of the Australian Government. He has conferred with the Government, and has discussed these matters with the committee to which I have referred. Therefore, we have not lost sight of the fact that, quite apart from selling uranium ore to our allies, there is a future in Australia for industrial atomic energy. We are now considering what form of control should be employed. Is control to be exercised by a committee or commission, or by some other body? Decisions on these matters will also be made in the near future. There are many other matters that I could refer to but I shall not deal with them because they are still in the process of negotiation and it would be unfair to others concerned if I talked about them now. I assure the committee that, far from merely following an outmoded policy and neglecting this matter, we have, since October last, applied from day to day a very active and vigorous policy which, I trust, will yield very great advantages to this country in the near future.
– I should not have taken part in this debate but for the statement by the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) that no person should be exempted from military service on religous grounds and that no person had the right to hold religious views that made him believe that he should not engage in war and that it is wrong to kill a fellow man in self defence. The honorable member also said that every eligible person in Australia should be compelled to undergo military training or get out of the country. That is a cruel, old-fashioned and callous attitude to take on the subject of religous beliefs of other persons. The sincere religious belief of a person should be respected by every other member of the community.
– Not if the belief is held only to justify exemption from military service.
– I have said -that the religious views of a person, if they are sincerely held, are entitled to respect. “Whether or not he be a member of a minority group his sincere religious convictions must command the respect of all others. It would be equally as heinous to force a person who conscientiously believes it to be wrong to kill a fellow man, even in self defenceas do Quakers and many others - as it would be to introduce a bill to compel Seventh Day Adventists to work on Saturday. No member of this Parliament would submit a proposal that Hindus should be forced to eat beef or that Jews should be forced to eat pork.
– Is the honorable member serious? Does he not forget that we are discussing the defence of this country?
– I am dealing with the matter very seriously and I trust that honorable members opposite are not treating it seriously when they suggest that the sincerely held religious views of other persons should be disre garded. Suppose that we Christians were in n minority in another country. How should we regard the Government of that country if, at the behest of the majority of its people, it enacted a law to compel Christians to eat meat on Good Friday?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order ! Hie honorable member might touch a little on the subject of defence. He has already dealt at sufficient length with the point that he is endeavouring to make.
– With great respect, Mr. Deputy Chairman, I direct your attention to the fact that I am dealing with a matter that was dealt with by the Minisiter for the Army (Mr. Francis).
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - The honorable member has wandered away from Australia to other countries.
– I have done so merely for the purpose of showing that a person who sincerely holds a religious belief is entitled to have that belief respected by every person in the community.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The honorable member has already made that statement at least twice.
– During World War II., when Australia was engaged in a shooting war, the government of the day gave to conscientious objectors the right to appeal against decisions of magistrates under which they were forced to serve in the armed forces in either a combatant or a non-combatant capacity. If their appeal was upheld they were given an opportunity to serve in a non-combatant capacity, [f such a right was granted during the war years, why cannot a similar right he .granted in peace time? The National Security (Conscientious Objectors) Regulations, which were promulgated in Statutory Rule No. 80 of 1942, and which operated from February, 1942, until the end of the war, gave ample protection to conscientious objectors. Regulation 8 (1.) read as follows : - (1.) An applicant for registration or enrolment as a conscientious objector who is aggrieved by any order of a court of summary jurisdiction, or the Minister, if he considers it necessary, may, within 2] days’ after the date of the order, or (in the case of an applicant) within such further period as the Minister in any particular case for special reasons allows, appeal to the appropriate court by filing a notice of appeal in accordance with sub-regulation (3.) of this regulation.
Regulation 4 defined the appropriate court as -
A District Court, County Court or Local Court of Full Jurisdiction in the State or Territory of the Commonwealth (other than the Territory of New Guinea) in which the applicant, or the person whose registration or enrolment is to be reviewed, is residing, or, if there is no such court, or the applicant or that person is residing in the Territory of New Guinea, the Supreme Court of the State or Territory of the Commonwealth in which the applicant or that person is residing.
Regulation 9 dealt with the entitlement of the Minister to be represented on the hearing of an application or appeal. The regulation read -
The Minister or any person authorized by him shall be entitled to be heard on the hearing of any application, appeal or review under these Regulations.
Let me pause for a moment to examine the importance of these regulations. Those who wish to “ shanghai “ every eligible person into the Army, regardless of his sincerely held religious beliefs, should remember that these regulations, which operated during the period of the greatest crisis in our history, gave to conscientious objectors the right of appeal against the decisions of magistrates ordering them to serve in the armed forces. Under the regulations a magistrate could’ grant total exemption. On the other hand, he could force the applicant to perform either combatant or noncombatant service if the applicant had failed to prove that his religious views were sincerely held. Regulation 10 read as follows: - (1.) A competent court of summary jurisdiction, if satisfied, upon an application duly made to it under these Regulations, or the appropriate court, if satisfied on appeal, that the applicant holds a genuine conscientious belief that it is wrong -
without conditions; or
Regulation 14 safeguarded the rights of persons registered as conscientious objectors and also persons who had applied for exemption. The regulation read -
A person shall not be liable under the Defence Act to enlist or serve so long as he is registered in the Register or, unless already enlisted or serving, while an application by him for registration in the Register, or an appeal against an order on such an application is pending, or while thetime for bringing such an appeal has not expired.
How can the Government justify, in peace-time, its refusal to give to the people who hold conscientiousbeliefs against war the right to appeal against an order to undergo national service training? If they satisfy a court of appeal that their beliefs are conscientiously and sincerely held-
– They are only being trained.
– These people do not want to be trained to kill their fellow men. The Government’s refusal to give to them the right of appeal in order to sustain the genuineness of their belief is a form of intolerance that does not befit democratic Christian people. As true Christians, in a truly democratic country, we should preserve those traditions that have been established by British people. In Britain, Quakers have not been forced to take part in wars for centuries. The least the Government should do is to promulgate regulations similar to those of 1942, which operated throughout the war, so that persons who can prove to a court of appeal that their beliefs are sincerely held, may be exempted from training which is contrary to their beliefs.
The case of Brian Mason has been published on numerous occasions, otherwise I should not refer to him by name now. That young man has been incarcerated in Holdsworthy correction camp because he conscientiously believes that he should not take part in war in either a combatant or a non-combatant capacity. The fact that he is prepared to go to Holdsworthy indicates that he is not a coward in the sense that some people imagine that those who will not go to war are cowards. He has shown tremendous courage for a youth of the age of eighteen years. He has had to withstand the odium of 99 per cent, of public opinion, yet he has firmly maintained his beliefs, and has been prepared to go into a correction camp in New South Wales, away from his widowed mother in South Australia, who has no other son. This lad’s father and grandfather were conscientious objectors. He was born and bred in a home where he was taught that it was wrong to kill his fellow-men. Whether his beliefs are right or wrong is not the question at issue. He sincerely holds the belief that it is wrong to kill his fellow-men, even in self defence, and no other person has the right to force him to do that which he believes to be wrong. Ever since Christianity has been a force it has been aimed against intolerance. We all have been taught to believe in tolerance for the other man’s point of view.
– Is the honorable member tolerant?
– Of course [ am. I ask the Government to have the same tolerance for this person’s point of view as the authorities in Britain have for Quakers and similar people. In a democracy we are proud of the fact that we recognize minority points of view and do not crush a person into submission merely because he holds a different point of view to ours. I ask the Government to give to conscientious objectors an opportunity to prove to the satisfaction of a judge that their views are sincerely held. If they cannot prove that their beliefs are sincerely held the judge can dismiss their case.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– When the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) claims that he is tolerant he immediately brings me into, the arena. I suggest that the honorable member’s tolerance takes the form of expressing one view to-day and a different view tomorrow if he may thereby gain some party political capital out of an argument. I have the oldfashioned idea that a person who enjoys the facilities and privileges of a democracy should not call upon other men to defend those facilities and privileges. He should himself be prepared to defend them. If he enjoys them at the expense of the life blood of another man he has no right to do so. Democracy demands that privileges shall be defended by the people on whom they are conferred. I do not suggest that there are people in this democracy who are not sincere in their conscientious objections. Of course, there are such people. The person to whom the honorable member has referred may be sincere in his views but I cannot understand them. The fact that 99 per cent, of public opinion is against this person does not prove that he is courageous. An exhibitionist may know that 99 per cent, of public opinion is against him but that does not prove that he is courageous. No courage can be claimed for this person who has challenged the law. The law is tolerant in this democracy. It is a just law. When a magistrate decides that such a person shall perform non-combatant service that service ranges from the sweeping of certain parts of a military establishment to attending religious services and handing out hymn books and prayer books. A case was mentioned in this chamber recently in which the only duty that a conscientious objector was required to perform was that of issuing prayer and hymn books and he refused to do that. I shall not say that his principles prevented him from serving the Lord in that regard, but I do say that I cannot understand the principles that required him to act in that way. I believe that conscientious objectors are adequately protected by the decisions of magistrates. If a migistrate considers that a conscientious objector has not proved his case, and is seeking to evade his responsibility as a unit in a democracy, I am content to accept the magistrate’s decision.
– The magistrate might be intimidated by public opinion.
– There is something wrong with the judicial system if the courts are likely to be intimidated by public opinion. The : honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) should rise in his place if he wants to attack the courts, not do it by way of an interjection that he knows full well will be broadcast over the radio ^network. If he does not choose to rise and make his charges, let him remain silent.
I listened carefully to the speeches of honorable members opposite, including that of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), and I noticed that they sought to take items from their context and endeavour to make party political capital out of them. I suggest that honorable members opposite should be certain of their premises before they draw conclusions. The honorable member for Grayndler is the Opposition Whip, and has had many years’ experience in the Parliament. Therefore, his knowledge should certainly be greater than his speech indicated it to be. He said that the Government, through the Department of Defence Production, had placed no orders with secondary industry, particularly the electrical and textile industries. The honorable member knows full well that the matter of textiles is not a concern of the Department of Defence Production. If he does not know that he certainly should, because the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) has spoken time and time again about the connexion of his department with textiles. The Minister for Supply has proved conclusively that the textile industry has been very well treated by his department. The honorable member for Grayndler a’lso said, in his wide, expansive way, that the Department of Defence Production was heavy from the Minister downwards. His subsequent remarks made it quite clear that he himself is light from the top downwards. He said that in the Department of Defence Production there were five assistant secretaries, five general managers, 90 professional and technical officers, thirteen assistant managers, 49 heads of sections and 237 engineers and technical officers.
I know that the honorable member was trying to be facetious, and that he endeavoured to lighten an otherwise dull and dreary debate. He is well aware that there are many government factories and establishments administered by the Department of Defence Production, and that most of the officers he mentioned are employed in those establishments and not in the administrative side of the department. He tried to convince people outside the Parliament that the Government condoned the employment of surplus public servants. He mentioned 49 heads of sections, seven managers, and numbers of other officers, merely to bolster a fallacious argument. The Department of Defence Production controls an aircraft factory at Fishermen’s Bend, Victoria, aircraft repair factories at Parafield and Northfield, South Australia, an ammunition factory at Footscray, Victoria, an ammunition factory at Finsbury, South Australia, an explosives factory at Maribyrnong, Victoria, an explosives factory at Mulwala, New South Wales, an explosives factory at St. Mary’s, New South Wales, an ordnance ‘ factory at Maribyrnong, Victoria, an ordnance factory at Bendigo, Victoria, and an ordnance factory at Echuca, Victoria. We also have a marine engine works at Port Melbourne, Victoria, a small arms factory at Lithgow, New South Wales, and a central drawing office at Maribyrnong, Victoria. I suggest that honorable members, and the people generally, will agree that the department is not topheavy with administrative staff. What I have said should make it clear to the honorable member that the majority of the officers that he referred to work in the Government factories, and not in one department.
The honorable member for Grayndler also stated that even though very many administrative officers were employed in t.he department, no Government orders were being given to industry. I think chat I have made it quite clear that the bulk of the officers he mentioned are not administrative officers at all. They are high executive and technical officers in charge of the Government factories. The honorable member mentioned the electrical industry. He dealt mainly with radio and its branches, such as telecommunications. It is quite true that to the present we have not allocated to local industry more than about £1,589,000 worth of orders for this particular form of manufacture. However, t.he whole matter is one of relativity. The honorable member believes that the present £1,589,000 worth of orders is not sufficient, but I submit that it is certainly substantial. “We have about £3,805,859 worth of material in course of being processed, and will eventually farm it out to industry. We also have £3,191,700 worth of material, approval to process which has been given, but in both instances the quantities I have mentioned are subject to revision by the Services. Until orders are placed with the Department of Defence Production by the Services, we can neither process the items nor send the orders out. Therefore, although about £7,000,000 worth of material is at present being processed, before that quantity goes out it will be subject to revision by the Services. The honorable member said that we have officers to burn, and are doing nothing to keep them fully occupied. I suggest that he might bring himself up to date with the facts and that then he would not waste the time of the committee.
.- Honorable members have listened to a very interesting debate on defence, which, T believe, is the most important matter that we have to deal with in the Estimates. I suggest that defence must be pre-eminent in all our considerations, because not only our own safety but also the safety of the nation is involved in our defence preparations. However, I maintain that the £200,000,000 to be expended on defence in this financial year is too much. It is more than this country can afford.
– I wish honorable members of the Opposition would make up their minds about whether it is too much or not enough.
– I am expressing my own opinion. I believe that more of the money allocated to defence should be expended on aircraft, and less in some of the other suggested channels. The importance of aircraft in the defence of Australia has been the theme of the speeches of many honorable members in this debate. Recently, an article by H. H. Cox was published in the Sydney Sun. I consider that that article proved that it will be impossible for us to defend this country unless we have powerful allies to assist us. Parts of the article- read -
NORTHERN Australia wide open to Chinese Invasion.
North Australia is an open invitation to .ny aggressor. An Eastern army could walk in unhindered anywhere between Broome and Cairns.
They could dig in, live off the land and build up bases before anybody on the remote southern fringe of the continent, 2,000 miles away, could raise a finger to stop them.
Everybody must acknowledge that those are the facts. We should expend our money in other ways. One of our first tasks should be to establish and maintain friendly relations with other countries so that we shall have allies to help us in the event of war. Honorable members surely will acknowledge that we cannot defend Australia without aid. We are expending a great deal of money in Korea at present. I do not oppose that expenditure, but I object to leaving the question of war or peace in the hands of military authorities. The military leaders of the opposing forces in Korea have held numerous conferences for the purpose of arranging an armistice. I contend that a satisfactory settlement will never be made by the military leaders because each side will refuse to make concessions to the other. It is up to us to. do our best to nut the negotiations in the hands of civilians. ‘
One matter that has caused me grave concern is the sale by the Government of machinery that has been of great benefit to Australia. The Government is privateenterprise mad. It wants to turn everything over to private enterprise. It owns a large quantity of machinery that is used on the waterfront and in the coalmines, but it intends to dispose of all of it. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) said recently, in reply to a question, that the Government proposed to sell all the government-owned machinery on the wharfs. If it does so, the already unsatisfactory shipping situation in Australia will become immeasurably worse. We have heard numerous complaints about the slow turn-round of ships in our ports. This machinery was provided for the purpose of expediting the turnround of ships. Everybody who has travelled overseas knows that better cargo handling equipment than we have in Australia is used in other countries. Australian wharf labourers are obliged to use hand trolleys in order to do the work that is done overseas with modern electrical equipment. The result is that it takes twice as long to load and unload ships in Australia as it takes in other countries. This machinery must be retained for the benefit of Australia. Our coal-mines are producing a record volume of coal at present as a result of the operations of the Joint Coal Board, which has done a wonderful job.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN^- Order 1 The honorable member’s remarks relate to the Department of National Development, not to the departments that are now under consideration.
– I disagree, Mr. Deputy Chairman. Other honorable members have been allowed to talk about uranium. Coal is more important to the defence of Australia than is uranium. We cannot defend the country without coal because, without it, we cannot produce munitions, machinery and other equipment, that are vital to an efficient defence programme. If every miner said that, in the event of war, he would refuse to produce coal, I guarantee that we could not have a war. Therefore, coal is essential to defence. The Government proposes to sell the machinery that is owned bv the Joint Coal Board.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The honorable member must not evade my ruling. His remarks are not relevant to the proposed votes that are now under consideration. He must resume his seat unless he obeys the Chair.
– Let me explain, Mr. Deputy Chairman. The machinery that is used for the purpose of producing coal is just as important as any other machinery that is needed for the prosecution of a war effort. We cannot get along without it. We can increase our coal production considerably if we use modern machinery in the mines. The results that have been obtained in the United Kingdom provide evidence of that fact. I have here a recent newspaper report under the heading “ Five Men win 1 00,000 Tons of Coal “.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member has continued to evade my ruling. The production of coal in the United Kingdom has nothing to do with the defence of Australia.
– I have referred to the newspaper report for the purpose of explaining the importance of coalmining machinery.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! I have already explained that the honorable member’s remarks are out of order. He is discussing a subject that relates to a department that is not now under consideration. I do not mind a passing reference to it in relation to defence, but the honorable gentleman must resume his seat if he continues to defy my ruling.
– How can we fight a war unless we have steel? We need the basic materials that cannot be produced without coal. We must have the most modern machinery available in order to improve the productivity of our mines. I refer to a case in point. A new all-British machine known as the Samson Stripper produces 100.000 tons of coal annually in the United Kingdom.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! T’ko honorable member will resume his seat.
– I wish to raise a point of order.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - The honorable member must first resume his seat.
– I rise to order. I submit that the subject of defence includes the production of steel, from which weapons are made. I should like you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, to inform me how steel and other basic materials for defence production can be manufactured if coal is not available to the industries concerned.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Has the honorable gentleman stated his point nf order?
M’r. Davies. - Yes.
– Before the Deputy Chairman gives his ruling, I should like to point out that Defence Services includes-
– I shall not give way like that.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! Is the honorable member for Perth taking a point of order?
– I am speaking to the point of order taken by the honorable member for Cunningham. I submit that defence production involves the operations of factories engaged on defence work, for which coal is vital.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order 1 The point of order is not upheld. The Chair is aware that coal is required for raising steam in factories engaged on defence work, but the honorable member for Cunningham was discussing coal production in England and elsewhere.
– I should like to discuss coal production in Australia.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! I have ruled that the honorable member will not be in order in doing so during the consideration of the Estimates for Defence Services. The Chair will not hear any more argument on that matter.
– I wish to protest against the action of the Government in disposing of machinery owned by the Joint Coal Board. That machinery is required for the production of coal and other minerals for defence work. If you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, rule that I am not in order in referring to that matter when the Estimates for Defence Services are under consideration, I am bound to express my opinion that you are wrong.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- I definitely rule that the honorable member will not be in order in discussing that subject.
– I rise to order. I consider that the honorable member for Cunningham is able to link coal production with defence production, and I ask you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, to allow him to continue his speech. Knowing your impartiality I feel, confident that you will hear the honorable gentleman.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- It is just unfortunate for the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) that the Chair does not share his view.
.- I heartily support the provision that is made in the Estimates for Defence Services, because I believe that money is the cheapest thing that we can spend on the protection of this country. Opposition members should realize the truth of that statement. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke), in a speech that lasted fifteen minutes, made the point that if there were no threat of war, more money would be available for other things. “We all agree with that statement, but we are bound to recognize that a threat of war exists, and that we must take measures to ensure our protection. All honorable members should approve the amount of money that has been allocated by the Government for defence purposes. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), who, as usual, spoke about the coalmining industry, tried to disparage the defence policy of the Government by stating that it had refused to grant to miners a tax concession in respect’ of the quantity of coal that they hewed.
– I rise to order. In view of your ruling, Mr. Deputy Chairman, a few moments ago, is not the honorable gentleman’s reference to the coal-mining industry out of order?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull will not be in order in referring to taxation or coal during the consideration of the Estimates for Defence Services.
– I shall not continue my remarks on that subject. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) made a plea on behalf of conscientious objectors. I believe that there is a place in the Army for them as non-combatants. If they so wished, they could undertake duties in the performance of which they would not. be exposed to greater danger than are those wonderful followers of Florence Nightingale - the nurses. I know that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) agrees with that statement.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh, in support of his plea, spoke of the Christian attitude. I consider that no occupation befits a Christian better than that of tending the sick and wounded. If a conscientious objector disagrees with that view, the grounds for his objection are beyond the powers of comprehension of any person, Christian or otherwise.
– I rise to order, and suggest that you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, call the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Davies) this evening in order that he may continue his speech.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- There is no point of order.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Proposed vote, £20,752,000.
Refunds of Revenue.
Proposed vote, £13,000,000.
Advance to the Treasurer.
Proposed vote, £15,000,000.
Proposed vote, £23,855,000.
War and Repatriation Services.
Proposed vote, £16,071,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– The heading “ Miscellaneous Services “ is appropriate because it covers a miscellany of items which could merit close Attention. Unfortunately, in the time at my disposal, it is possible to select only an item here and there for consideration. The first item to which I should like to refer is that appearing in the Estimates of the Department of the Treasury under item 11, “ National Savings Campaign, £10,000”. It is significant that the amount that is set aside for the national savings campaign this year is £10,000 compared with £20,000 last year, but of the £20,000 that was voted last year only £1,800 was expended. The reduction is indicative of the paltry way in which this Government has attempted to approach the important matter of savings by the community. Honorable members know well the failure of this Government to define properly a fixed interest rate and the uncertainty that has been engendered as a result. The lack of confidence that now exists in the so-called money market is significant. During the war, appeals were made to the people on patriotic grounds to assist the economy and attempt to halt the effects of inflation by putting their savings into various government bonds. The interest rate was held for a long period at the low rate of 3 per cent. Now some semi-government bodies are experiencing difficulty in obtaining finance from loans when the rate of interest is almost as high as 5 per cent. That was indicated in a question that was asked to-day by. the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Andrews).
Honorable members may have received to-day, as I did, a communication from a group of co-operative housing societies in Victoria in which they set out the effect on the financing of a house when the interest rate was raised from 3 per cent. to 4½ per cent. On a house which costs about £3,000, the extra cost to the home buyer is about £350 over a term of 30 years. That sum may not appear to he large when” it is said quickly, but it is a deterrent to people who are endeavouring to acquire a home for themselves. The failure of this Government to set a firm interest rate has repercussions that flow into other channels of finance. The very niggardly commitment for encouraging savings that is provided this year in the Estimates is an indication of how low in the Government’s mind its estimate of the investing capacity of the people must have fallen. Honorable members on this side of the chamber have endeavoured to point out that those who want to save money are not interested so much in the rate of interest as they are in the security of the investment that they undertake. For nearly ten years the interest rate was held at 3£ per cent., but in the twelve to eighteen months that this Government has had control of the interest rate in its hands, the rate has risen substantially. It is idle for the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) to suggest that this is not a matter for the Government but one for the Australian Loan Council. This Government must set the tone of the money market generally.
The other commitments that are involved in these miscellaneous items pf treasury expenditure show how important is the loan market generally in the finances of the Australian Government. Quite a number of items listed show commitments and expenses associated with the loan market. Probably it is true that half the investments in Australia come from the Australian Government itself through its various agencies, from financial institutions such as insurance companies and, to some extent, from banks. The amount which individuals pay into the total savings is probably a comparatively insignificant part of the whole. Nevertheless, government bonds were regarded at one time as a legitimate channel of investment for small investors. During the war, a special savings scheme was instituted for their benefit. The medium was war savings certificates which could be bought for 16s. each and over a period of years, with interest at 3 J per cent’., increased in value to £1. The important factor in that investment for the small investor was that he could not lose his capital. The value of the certificates increased progressively on each day that they were in existence because interest was accruing virtually all the time. It is difficult to understand why that kind of investment has not been reinstituted for the encouragement of small investors. Savings certificates of that type should be available continuously. The British Government has a tap loan which is open perpetually. Any one who has money to invest can put it into the tap loan from day to day. He does not have to wait until a new loan is launched. If he has £100 for investment he can go to a bank or post office and put the money into a bond. An Australian investor in the old type of war savings holding could be sure that his capital was intact.
For the small investor the security of the loan is all-important. No one can suggest with truth that it matters to the small investor with £100 or £200 to invest whether the interest rate is 3£ per cent, or 4 per cent. He would prefer to get £4 instead of £3 10s. on hi3 investment, but if he is sure that his capital is secure at the lower rate of interest, he is perfectly willing to accept it. The Treasurer seems to think that the Australian market will not absorb loans unless the rate of interest goes to 4£ per cent, or thereabouts. If that is the case, it is difficult to understand why in New Zealand, a country that is similar to Australia in many ways, the interest rate now is about 3 J per cent. In the United States of America the interest rate on government securities is as low as 2) per cent, and 3 per cent. The fact is that in those two countries, the governments are determined to fix the interest rate as low as possible and to support it. The Austraiian Government is not prepared to do that. It has let the interest rate advance and the effect has been serious for every form df investment. Primarily the gilt-edged rate of interest sets the scale for other rates. The higher the rate for gilt-edged securities, the higher becomes the bank overdraft rate and the mortgage rate for the purchase or building of houses, something which is of great importance to the man who wants to provide himself with a home. Usually, a man cannot provide £2,000 or more in cash for the purchase or building of a home. He has to raise a mortgage, and if the interest rate is 4^ per cent., interest payments on the original indebtedness will bring the total cost of the home up to about £3,500.
It is important to keep interests rates as low as possible. The War Service Homes scheme is financed on an interest rate of a little more than 3$ per cent., but ordinary home purchasers must now pay 4$ per cent., or even more. Indeed, the ruling interest rate is now rapidly approaching 5 per cent., which it waa many years ago. Every increase of 4 per cent, in the interest rate adds hundreds of pounds to the total cost of a home. The Government’s attitude towards interest rates and wages is contradictory. Et claims that, in order to arrest inflation, wages should be pegged, but its whole policy is directed towards raising interest rates, and the economy of the country is affected to some extent by interest rates as by wage rates. There is unemployment in the community, and industry should be stimulated in order to provide more employment, but industry cannot be stimulated by raising the interest rate. The Treasurer has evaded his responsibility in this matter. He must know that when the national debt is approximately £3,000,000,000, as at present, every increase of 1 per cent, in the interest rate represents an additional £30,000,000 in interest payments. Government loans never seem to be paid off. They are only converted from time to time’, and if conversions have to be made on a rising market the interest burden must steadily increase. The Chifley Government fixed the rate of interest for government borrowings at 3£ per cent. If loans raised at that rate have to be converted at 4J per cent., interest payments over the whole field of our indebtedness will increase by £45,000,000. This Government professes to favour a policy of lower taxation, but how can taxes be reduced if the interest burden on public indebtedness is constantly increasing? The Government’s niggardly attitude on the subject of national savings seems to indicate that it has thrown in the sponge and forfeited the confidence of the public.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - Order.’ The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The approach of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) to the problem he discussed is not unfamiliar. He followed the party line of trying to put the blame for the ineptitude of State Labour governments on to the shoulders of the Australian Government by claiming that the Commonwealth had failed to provide enough money for the State governments to spend. He knows perfectly well that tha decisions of the Australian Loan Council are, in fact, the decisions of a majority of the States. The Commonwealth has frequently been outvoted by the States on questions of financial policy. It is, therefore, a specious argument to say that the decisions of the Australian Loan Council are the responsibility of the Commonwealth.
Just by way of a change, I propose to mention the money that has been given by the Commonwealth to the State governments under the terms of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. For the ensuing year the States will receive from the Commonwealth £30,000,000 under this arrangement. Of that amount, Queensland has been allocated £3,730,000, which will make a total of £15,418,000 received by Queensland since the agreement came into operation. Of that amount, no less than £11,000,000 has been provided by the present Government in a little over two years. Unfortunately, the money has not been always faithfully applied. When the scheme was first introduced, it was stated that 235,000 persons were living in substandard dwellings. The purpose of the scheme was to relieve those unfortunate people by providing them with what was described as homes of an adequate and hygienic standard. However, the Queensland Government, instead of improving the conditions that existed, has aggravated them. Against the best advice of experts, the Queensland Government contracted, in May, 1950, to buy 750 French prefabricated homes, and in 195.1 to buy a further 135 French prefabricated homes. When challenged in the State parliament on the quality of these houses, the Minister for Housing suggested by innuendo that his Government, had bought them because-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! Housing is not one of the subjects that may be discussed under the proposed votes now before the committee.
– These Estimates provide for the appropriation of £30,000,000 under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. I consulted the Clerk, and was informed that it would be in order for me to discuss housing under these proposed votes.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! What item is the honorable member discussing ?
– I am referring to subsidies. A subsidy of £300 is paid on every prefabricated house which is imported by a State government, and I therefore submit that this matter may be discussed.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! In my opinion it should have been discussed when the proposed vote for the Department of National Development was being considered.
– I am trying to point out that the Queensland Government has been wrongly endeavouring to blame the Australian Government for the poor quality of prefabricated houses which have been imported. This Government sent a special mission overseas to- investigate continental prefabricated houses-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! [ cannot find any reference to that matter under the proposed votes which are now being considered.
– Division 206 of the Estimates refers to an annual vote for the current financial year of £23,855,000 for subsidies.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The subject which the honorable gentleman wishes to discuss cannot be dealt with now.
– As subsidies are covered in the proposed votes now under consideration I submit that the honorable member is in order.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- No subsidy for housing is included in those listed in this part of the Estimates.
– I rise to a point of order. A sum of £300 is paid to the States by way of subsidy on each prefabricated house that is imported, and I therefore respectfully suggest that the honorable member is in order is discussing this matter now that the proposed vote for subsidies is being considered.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- I cannot uphold the point of order, because the proposed votes which are being considered do not refer to houses.
.- I wish to refer to the proposed vote of £111,429,000 for War and Repatriation Services, with particular reference to the administration of the Repatriation Department. I cannot speak too highly of the care and attention given to patients in repatriation hospitals by the staffs of those institutions. I appreciate that those staffs are bound by certain standards which have been laid down for the treatment of patients and must act according to the theories of those in charge of the institutions. Those theories and methods of treatment do not admit of manipulatvie therapeutists being allowed into repatriation hospitals. I suggest that that is an instance in which orthodoxy could unbend.
– I rise to a point of order. When you called on the Estimates this evening, Mr. Deputy Chairman, you referred to “ Miscellaneous Services “, “ Refunds of Revenue “, “ Advance to the Treasurer “ Subsidies “ and “ War and Repatriation Services “. Section XXI. of the Esti-. mates refers to special appropriations and, Division 206 to subsidies, the proposed vote for which, in 1952-53, is £23,855,000. I contend that those subsidies would cover subsidies on prefabricated houses, to which the honorablemember for Lilley (Mr. Wight) was referring before you called the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan). I donot think that it is within the province of the Chair to determine which subsidies are covered by the proposed vote and that the honorable member is in order as long as he addresses himself to the general subject of “ Subsidies “. I suggest that you might look at that section in order togive a ruling on the matter.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- I assure the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) that I have had a look at it. Under theheading “ Subsidies “, to which he has referred, are listed proposed votes for subsidies on dairy products, tea, coal, nitrogenous fertilizers, wheat shipped toTasmania, freight subsidy, stockfeed’ and other items.
– It is the- “ other items “ to which I am referring..
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - The total proposed vote for “ other items “ is only £5,000.
– The point I wish to make is that if the honorable member addresses himself to the subject of subsidies under the heading “ Subsidies - other items “ he is perfectly in order.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The point of order is not upheld.
– I take it, Mr. Deputy Chairman, that football rules will apply and that in determining my allocation of time you will allow for the time taken up in dealing with the point of order taken by the Vice-President of the Executive Council which related to the remarks of the honorable member for Lilley.
When the interruption occurred I was advocating the admission of manipulative therapeutists to repatriation hospitals to treat patients who have sacrificed their health and careers for the community. Surely such persons are entitled to the best methods of treatment, whether those, methods be orthodox or otherwise, to restore them to good health, or a semblance of it, irrespective of the expense that may be involved. After all, expense is of secondary importance in this connexion. In any event, the methods to which I refer may well be less costly than the prevailing methods of treatment, and, in many instances, will help to restore ex-servicemen to health and efficiency much sooner than if they were treated by orthodox methods.
Hospital costs generally are getting out of hand and are now three or four times as much as they were ten or twelve years ago. It is expected that the total expenditure of the Repatriation Department this year will be approximately £5,000,000 more than it was last financial year. Reconstruction and rehabilitation treatment will cost £2,759,000, against an expenditure last year of £2,515,907. The reason for this great increase is that, under the present out-moded methods of treatment, only the effects are being treated. The causes are not being treated, and preventive methods are not being adopted. At the recent medical congress in Melbourne, the president of the British Medical
Association, Dr. A. J. Collins, said that medicine in the next 50 years will go through big changes as diseases become curable and doctors concentrate on disease prevention. He also said that the medical profession would welcome the change, as it, like governments, appreciates the asset of good health. Sufferers from disabilities also appreciate the value of good health, and many of those sufferers are in repatriation hospitals. It is not of much use to them if they are obliged to wait the better part of 50 years for a change in the methods of treatment. As we know, most reforms come gradually, but medical reforms are sometimes here before we realize that they have come about. A method of treatment which is pooh-poohed to-day may be accepted to-morrow. Honorable members will recall the classic example of Pasteur. At one time he was ostracized by the medical profession, but to-day his theories are accepted without question. When Harvey propounded the theory of the circulation of the blood, it was rejected by members of his profession. I recall also the case of Sir Herbert Barker, the famous bone-setter, who was not allowed even to give his services free in military hospitals in Great Britain during World War I. Yet, a few years later, hundreds of British medical men signed a petition to the King to confer a knighthood upon him. Unfortunately, the profession accepted his theories too late to enable him to pass on for the benefit of future generations his theories in full. He had offered on many occasions to demonstrate his methods to the medical profession, but such offers were rejected.
The Government should do all that it can to hasten reforms in methods of medical treatment. At least, it should ensure that new methods shall be properly investigated, and shall not be rejected merely because of prejudice or the influence of vested interests. Many of the methods that are applied in our repatriation hospitals to-day are out moded. They are obsolete when compared with methods that are in general use by the medical profession in Sweden, Canada and the United States of America. The medical theory is propounded on the basis that disease is caused by a germ, or virus, that is, by a cause outside the body, and, therefore, the remedy is to be found outside the body by treatment with drugs. On the other hand, the manipulative theory is propounded on the basis that disease arises within the body as a result of bodily structures, such as the bony segments being thrown out of alinement and causing intereference with the nervous system and the flow of life force or energy from the brain to the various organs and cells of the body. Consequently, the cure of disease must also be found in the body, by rectifying the interference and thus enabling Nature to clear up the diseased condition. I shall not canvass the pros and eons of those two theories. I believe that I have said sufficient to show that manipulative therapy should be made available in repatriation institutions, particularly in view of the fact that, in the majority of instances, ex-servicemen are subject to many shocks, falls and tensions. I am aware that physiotherapy treatment is available to patients in these institutions, but it is to a large degree a hit or miss method. It is only a palliative, because it is not fully effective in cases of displacement of bony segments. Likewise, shock treatment is largely a hit or miss process, which, in many instances, causes harm to the patient.
Experience in recent years has shown that many of the drugs now being used in repatriation hospitals are totally ineffective because they are administered to treat the effect and not the cause of disease. In respect of the so-called wonder drugs, medical science is completely off the track. I quote the following extracts from an article by Dr. Barrett Cooper that appear in the current issue of Australian Monthly : -
Warning on Wonder Drugs.
Like sulpha and penicillin, the new antibiotics are raising strains of resistant germs. But, properly used, they’re still valuable lifesavers. Two people suffering from pneumonia died recently at one of Sydney’s largest hospitals. Their deaths were deeply significant. Each of them had been expected to recover. They were seriously ill, but no worse, outwardly, than thousands of pneumonia patients who had been saved by sulpha drugs or antibiotics (penicillin and the rest). The two patients who died had received full doses of penicillin, streptomycin, and, later, chloramphenicol and aureomycin. But the antibiotics did not save them.
The two pneumonia deaths are evidence of a recent development which is causing much concern to medical men. Disease bugs which collapsed under the first onslaughts of the sulpha, drugs and, later, of penicillin and other antibiotics, have begun to fight back. Many of the disease organisms have developed resistance to such drugs, and the descendants of these harmful organisms are abroad in the world, ready to take on an antibiotic whenever they meet one. It is not a happy situation.
Doctors are worried. Medical journfrom every continent are reporting failures of the antibiotic drugs in diseases for which they were formerly successful, and editorials on the occurrence of “ antibiotic resistance “ have appeared in both the British and American Medical Association Journals, which go to over a quarter of a million doctors throughout tinworld.
Whilst an ex-serviceman’s disablement may not be directly attributable to war service-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN^ - Order ! The honorable member’s time hae expired.
.- The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Fitzgerald) has declared that the Government should not be a party to any proposal for the mass immigration of Germans. He made hia remarks in such a venemous way that they were calculated to stimulate both class and racial feeling. Having regard to the atmosphere of conflict that exists in the international sphere, they can only have the effect of helping the Communist cause. I say without equivocation that every supporter of the Government is opposed to the mass immigration of Germans to this country. Mass immigration can be justified only in respect of persons of British stock. I am happy to say that a similar preference for British people was shown by preceding governments. Since 1947, 300,000 more British immigrants have been brought to this country than the total of immigrants of all other nationalities who have come here. This Government has not sponsored the immigration of a single German to Australia. Germane who have emigrated to Australia have been sponsored by State semigovernmental authorities mainly for the purpose of training unskilled Australians in specific industries. The thought that ha« been promulgated by honorable members opposite that it is the intention of this Government to bring 10,000 German immigrants to this country during this year i3 completely wrong. It is absolutely untrue. The Government intends, during this year, to bring out only 1,500 skilled German artisans and their families after they have been properly screened. The Opposition has engaged in propaganda about class hatred and has stated that the Government intends to bring out unscreened German Nazis, in order to arouse a certain fear in many of our immigrants who have suffered acts of terrific torture by our former enemies. The issue that emanates from such propaganda is un-Christian. Some honorable members opposite appear to derive a sadistic pleasure by arousing those fears. They have, in fact, engaged in a form of germ warfare, such as our enemies have suggested that the United States has resorted to in China. These Communist tactics appear to have the approval of some members of the Opposition. I commend to them an article that was published in Australia’s National News-Weekly, on the 30th April. It portrays the admirable spirit that is possessed by former members of Lancaster bomber squadrons. They invited to their Anzac Day re-union a former German Luftwaffe pilot who had brought down some of the members of their organization over enemy territory during the war. The article reads -
Having been forced into a war and emerged safely from it, the Christian man allows no hatreds to fester in his heart. To allow personal or racial hatreds to survive a war is to mw the seeds of further battles. The man who claims to be anti-war, but spreads .racial hatred., is not a man of truth. We are bound as Christians to hate evil. We are forbidden to hate men - even evil men. . . . This does not mean we must neglect certain precautions in dealing with nations who have brought us into wars we did not desire.
The Communists have done more than any other people to foster racial hatred in the democracies. True communism is opposed to the teachings of Chrisianity, and therefore, the Communists derive pleasure from provoking discontent amongst our immigrants, particularly those who have been tortured by our former enemies.
– “We are not discussing the proposed vote for immigration.
– The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Fitzgerald) is typical of the persons who foment increased racial and class hatred in this country. I am opposed to mass German immigration into Australia, not for the reason that has been expressed by the honorable member for Philip, but for the reason that the screening system loses some of its effectiveness under pressure of numbers. We must be particularly vigilant to prevent people with Nazi ideas from entering this country. A careful scrutiny to this end can be maintained only if relatively small numbers of Germans are selected at a time. I am glad to know that the Government does not intend to engage in the mass movement of German people to this country. The Congress- of the Australian Council of Trades Unions that was held in Melbourne earlier this week made a very stupid recommendation to the effect that no more skilled artisans should be brought to this country. There is a dearth of skilled artisans in Australia. While that state of affairs persists there will continue to bc a disproportionate number of unskilled workers in Australia. A balance must always be maintained between the number of skilled and unskilled workers, because the unskilled men may learn from the skilled artisans. To prohibit any more skilled artisans from coming to this country would have an adverse effect on our economy.
I shall now refer to the Australian Red Cross Society, which I consider has not been adequately provided for in tm proposed vote for the Department of Health. I refer particularly to the blood transfusion service, which is an integral part of civil air defence. The Government proposes to expend about i-200,000,000 on defence during this financial year. Therefore, it is reasonable that we should appropriate a small amount to enable the Australian Red Cross Society to expand its blood transfusion service during any emergency that may arise. During Wor’d War II. the Australian Red Cross Society and the army had a joint responsibility in this connexion. The two organizations, between them, provided the services necessary for supplying blood and plasma, not only to the sick and wounded but also to the civil community. Since 1946, the Australian Red Cross has been responsible for providing such services throughout Australia and its territories. Lack of finance and the necessity to provide blood banks to meet peace-time requirements are imposing great stresses and strains on the society. Obviously, it must prepare for the possibility of war, in much the same manner as the Government has acted in providing for the appropriation of £200,000,000 for defence purposes. If the Government, even at this late stage, made an allocation from that huge sum to the society, it would be doing the right thing. All that the society asks for is authority to proceed with the stock-piling of blood for use in a national emergency, a financial guarantee from the Government, and publicity for the need for more blood donors. Even if all those steps were taken, the position of the society would still be difficult, and much hard work would be required to be done by many people who work for it voluntarily. I commend the society to the Government, and request that sympathetic consideration be given to the possibility of assisting it in its work.
– Ordinarily, I should not have risen to speak on the Estimates for War and Repatriation Services. I believe that that subject should be left to exservicemen, and I am not an exserviceman. However, for a long time, E° have seen the suffering that has been endured by many ex-servicemen and the unfair treatment that has been meted out to them, and I feel that it is my public duty to speak on their behalf, because they are unable to speak for themselves. I wish to register a protest against the fact that ex-servicemen, especially those of World War I., are being badly treated. A perusal of the Estimates shows that it is proposed to appropriate £111,429,000 for expenditure upon War and Repatriation Services. It seems that the Government is trying to make it appear that it is spending a huge sum of money upon those services, but the Estimates show that only £35,879,000 will be used for the payment of war pensions, £30,000 for war gratuity, and £100,000 for superannuation contributions, a total of £36,009,000. When we examine the items under the heading “ Public Debt Charges “, we discover that £43,262,000 is to be appropriated for the payment of interest on loans for war and repatriation purposes, and £16,087,000 for the payment of sinking fund charges on such loans, a total of £59,349,000.
The cost of administering our repatriation services is out of all proportion to the benefits that ex-servicemen are deriving from them. The Estimates for the Repatriation Commission show that £2,430,000 is to be expended upon the salaries and allowances of permanent, temporary and casual employees and also upon extra duty pay, £73,700 upon travelling and subsistence expenses, £53,000 upon office requisites and equipment, £80,000 upon postage, telegrams and telephone services, and £35,000 upon incidental and other expenses. The estimated expenditure this year upon medical treatment is £3,112,000; upon the maintenance of departmental institutions, £5,453,500; and upon miscellaneous items, £260,500. The Estimates contain an item of £18,000 in respect of rent of building, and another of £650,000 for repairs and maintenance. I repeat that the cost of administering war and repatriation services is excessive.
Many ex-servicemen, especially those of World War I., have been treated unfairly by the Repatriation Department. When the repatriation legislation was introduced in 1920, ex-servicemen of World War I. believed, as did exservicemen of World War II. later, that the legislation of the Parliament would afford them some protection, and that the officers who had been appointed to administer it would, if they found that ex-servicemen were suffering unduly, recommend to the government in office that the legislation be amended in such a. way as to alleviate that suffering. I know of ex-servicemen who, during World War I., were discharged from the services on the ground of medical unfitness. They left the services quickly, and didnotworry about medical examinations orabouttheirfuture.Latertheyfellby the wayside.
Mr.graham.–Amanwhowasdis- chargedonthegroundofmedical unfitness, wouldhavetobe declared to be medically unfit.
– A man who was discharged on the ground of medical unfitness would I assume, be considered as eligible for a war pension. I know of an ex-serviceman who was discharged from the services on theground that he was medically unfit. For eight years, he has been in receipt of a service pension of only £3 a week. He is unable to do any kind of work. His wife is considerably younger than he is.To-day, he and his wife are living on £4 10s. a week.When I raised the matter with the Repatriation Commission, I received the following letter in reply : -
With reference to your personal representations dated 12/3/1952 on behalf of Mr. Roy Melonite Cantelo, it is desired to advise that careful consideration has previously been given to the claim of this ex-soldier for the acceptance ofdisabilities as due to his war service, but on medical evidence war service was not con- sidered responsible for the conditions claimed.
Against the Departmental decisions, appeals were lodged to the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal whichrecorded a decision that “ Chronic Bronchitis, Nasal Sinusitis, and Myocarditis “ are not war-caused disabilities, and disallowed the appeal.
I have a certificate from a doctor that, for the last eight years, he has treated this manfor chronic bronchitis, and chronic myocarditis. I say that any heart disease should be accepted as a war-caused disability because it is absolutely impossible for doctors, years after a war, to say whether a heart diseasefrom which an ex-serviceman is suffering was caused by warservice. There are many diseases of tha heart. Time and again, constituents ofmine have received doctors’ certificates to the effect that theyweresuffering from coronary occlusion, coronary thrombosis myocarditis,cardiacfailure,anginaor other heart diseases. The Government should reconstitute the all-party standing committee on repatriation and allow honorable members to lay casesbefore it, so as to have them adjusted.
Dr.Evatt.-The act provides that the onus is on the Repatriation Commission.
– That is correct, butrepeatedlywefindthattheRepatria- tion Commission throws that onus back on to the appealstribunal. It is true that many of the cases that come beforeitaredifficulttodetermine.I shall cite some cases to demonstrate to the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page),who is at the table at the moment that something is wrongin the Repatriation Department. Two of the cases concerntwoclosefriendswhoenlisted in the Army inWorldWar I. When they returned from service overseas they married two sisters. One of the men complained right from the time of his discharge,abouthisphysicalcondition. I shall quote details of his case from a letterthatIreceivedinrelationto it from the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper). The letter states that the man concerned -
The discharging Medical Board held on 10th April,1919, afterdisembarkationi n Australia,madeafindingof”DisabilityNil,. Incapacity Nil “.
On 29th March, 1930, the man claimed war pension in respect of Gunshot Wounds - Gassed. Followingmedicalexamination and inmacy of Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, the conditions present were diagnosed as Gunshot Wound Left Hand, Nervous condition, bronchitis, septic tonsils, hammer toes and corns. The. NewSouth Wales Repatriation Board gave consideration to the claim, and in July, 1930, granted war pension, at five per cent. rate in respect of Gunshot Wound Left Hand, and decided that nervous condition, bronchitis septic tonsils, hammer toes and corns were not attributable to war service. An appeal to the Repatriation Commission against the Board’s, decision was disallowed on 22nd August, 1930, ands appeals to the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal and the Assessment Appeal Tribunal were disallowed by those bodies in April, 1931, and October, 1930, respectively.
The 5 per cent.disability pension which was granted to that ex-serviceman was later increased slightly, but in 1943, after a bad night, he passed, away. The Minister toldme that the man had passed away in his sleep,but that is not so. He died in his wife’s arms. The widow was left to live on a pension of 7s. 9d. a f ortnight, and today she still has to work for a living. The ex-serviceman who married the other sister did not report to a medical officer between the time of his discharge, in 1919, and 1948. The Repatriation Commission accepted his illness as having been war-caused, and allowed him a pension. It informed him that he was suffering from coronary occlusion. Twelve months later the exserviceman died and the commission granted his wife a full war widow’s pension. Yet the widow of his friend, who had died seven years before of the same complaint, had not been allowed a pension, and, as I have said, is still working for a living. I wish to know what is wrong with the Department of Repatriation. Honorable members opposite need not take my word alone for these cases. I suggest that they appoint somebody to examine the facts of the cases that I can produce.
There are also cases of other men who have been receiving small war pensions and have been told that they are fit for certain kinds of work. I shall quote two certificates that were issued by the Repatriation General Hospital at Concord in respect of the employment of two men. One certificate reads in full-
Commonwealth of Australia.
Mr. Joshua Plumb has been a patient in this Hospital. He has been suffering from neurosis and his medical restrictions are to avoid severe and moderate respiratory or cardiac strain or physical exertion, general muscular activity or agility, walking or standing imposing strain or fatigue, heat causing sweating or strain, humidity, cold wetness and dampness, rapid climatic changes, noise vibration or glare. The doctor also states that it is desirable to avoid sustained mental concentration and emotional upsets.
His age is 54 years, married and his address is 24 Davis Avenue. White Gates, Wallsend, Newcastle. He requires a light employment.
Any assistance that you may he able to r ender him will be appreciated.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) G. FITZHILL
I ask honorable members opposite, and the Minister for Health and the Minister for the Army (Mr.Francis), who are at the table, what sort of work any employer would give that man. A similar certificate in respect of another ex-serviceman, which was forwarded to the same employment officer, read -
The above member is being discharged from this establishment to-day and will require light employment.
This employment must be such that the following activities are not called into play - general muscular activity, walking or standing for long periods, bending, squatting, pushing, lifting or throwing, climbing or balancing.As you can see, this limits member’s field of employment considerably, and probably suggests light process work, gateman, or other such sedentary or semi-sedentary occupation.
It would be almost impossible to find suitable employment for such a man. One of those men receives a 20 per cent. war pension, and the other receives a 30 per cent. war pension. Representations about dozens of such cases havebeen made to me. One of them concerns an ex-serviceman who tried to commit suicide on four occasions. His wife had to go out and cut him down with a knife when he was trying to hang himself. He suffers from spinal trouble and receives only a 50 per cent, pension. He receives medical assistance at times when he is under medical observation, hut the total of his income is only about £11 12s. a fortnight on which he has to keep himself, his wife and one child. People say that the Repatriation Department is doing a goob job. I say that the administrative officers of the department have done a bad job, because those cases have come to their notice time and time again, and they know that the present provisions of the Repatriation Act do not cover these men. As a result, men who are suffering from heart complaints and war neurosis are unable to obtain justice. I know of one case of a returned soldier who committed an assault during a fit of neurosis, and in consequence has been rotting for two years in the criminal section of the mental hospital at Morrisset. I ask the Minister to examine these cases.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN”. - Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– It seems to be rather late in the day for the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths) to level a charge about excessive administration cost.3 in the Repatriation Department because the ‘ expenses now incurred by the department are almost identical, in ratio, with the department’s administrative expenses during the entire period of the Labour Government’s regime. I repudiate entirely his statement that the Repatriation Department has done a bad job. From the very inception of the repatriation administration there has been an insistence that the Repatriation Commission be formed of ex-servicemen, and that the doctors who examine applicants should themselves he ex-servicemen. Applicants have also been able to state their cases before an entitlement committee consisting of ex-servicemen. Then or twelve years ago the Parliament established a non-party committee on repatriation in which members of all parties co-operated. That committee made a unanimous report to the Parliament. I was not a member of that committee, although I am an ex-serviceman, but the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) was a member of it. It made certain proposals which, it said, represented the unanimous opinion of both sides of the Parliament. I was able to secure an additional concession to those suggested, because in this chamber I fought for, and finally won, a 100 per cent, increase of tuberculosis pensions for patients in hospitals. If it is true that hardships exist, then I should like to know why, since this Government came into office, honorable members opposite have not co-operated in the all-party committee, which is the proper authority to deal with-this matter.
I rise also to deal with certain other matters that have been raised in the course of this debate. The honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) has mentioned the Red Cross blood transfusion service. Last year, we offered to assist the Australian Red Cross Society if it would ..undertake the fractionation of blood serum, to enable the establishment of a blood bank in dry form for use in the event of a national calamity - civil or military. A sum of money was included in the Estimates for that purpose. It has not yet been expended, but the Red Cross Society is building up its organization to enable that work to be done. “We also offered the free services of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories for the handling of the blood in order that fractionation could be carried out. In addition, at the recent conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, we informed the Premiers that we were prepared to discuss with the State governments the question of financial assistance to the Australian Red Cross Society to enable it to extend its valuable work throughout the Commonwealth. Further, we have encouraged the production of a fluid which can be used as a substitute for blood serum and can be kept indefinitely. It is called “ Dexterin “ or “ Inter-Dex “. A factory has been built in Sydney and the production of this fluid is about to start.
The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) told a gloomy story about our national health, but his prognostication? are not supported by the declining rate of deaths from, disease. In fact, during the last 30 years, deaths .from diseases have been reduced almost by half. Foi1 instance, tuberculosis and pneumonia no longer head our list of killer diseases as they did 30 or 40 years ago. In fact, they are no longer in the first ten on the list. The main killer to-day is accidents, and the medical profession can hardly be blamed for that. Cancer and heart disease are the next killers but that is chiefly because of the increasing longevity of the people. This Government has done everything possible to reduce the incidence of diseases in the country. For instance, we have made free to the people of Australia the wonder drugs which, in recent years, have done so much either to prevent diseases or to curtail their duration. Diseases which a few years ago had to be endured by sufferers for weeks or perhaps months and which often led to death from sequelae are now curable in a few days. It is true that there has been a certain lack of discrimination in the use of some of those drugs by certain members of the medical profession, but we have taken various steps to obviate that danger. The medical profession itself is most active in this field. The British Medical Association- has appointed committees to deal with this matter by educating and instructing its members.Aweekortwoago in Melbourne, a meetirig which lasted two days was heldto point out to doctors how those drugsshould be used, and in what casesthey should be prescribed. The Commonwealth has introduced a regulation, known as regulation 14a, under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act, which provides that certain drugsmay be used only for specific diseases which have been enumerated by a researchcommittee. The aim is,of course, to prevent the evolutionof drug-resistant germs through the indiscriminate use of certain drugs. We are steadily bringing this matter under control, and the result willbe that the value of the drugs will be maintained for much longer than would have been thecase hadtheirindiscriminate use continued. While I was in the United State of America last year I discussed this problem with leading doctors, and even with some of the discoverers of the drugs, and they said thatwe were adopting a verywise procedure. They wished that similar action had been taken in the United States of America right from the beginning because their task would then havebeenmucheasier.
In conclusion, I wish to deal briefly with thephysio-therapy services that are provided inour civil and military hospitals. In every country of the world there is generalrecognitionof the fact that the duralumin artificial limbs and splints that arebeingproducedinthis country, particularly for use in repatriation work, are second to none. When Australian physio-therapists from repatriation and civil hospitals go overseas, they are snapped up at once because their efficiency andskill in handling patients and carrying out their manipulatory work is widelyrecognized. Ideprecate the assumption that everything thatwedo inthiscountryiswrong.Wearedoing much valuable work in Australia. We have sent overseas many fine medical men who have made names for themselves, not merely in one country, but in many countries throughout the world. They are doingevenmore valuable work forus when they return to Australia. Ifwe have troubles, then by allmeans let them be discussed, but I know that some of the cases that have beencited to-night occurred during the term of office of the Labour Government. Surely it is hardly right to blame this Administration- for what was done in those days.
Mr.- POLLARD -One of them happened only last week.
– One case to which reference has been made occurred in1943and another in 1945.
Dr.EVATT (Barton-Leader of the Opposition) [9.18]-I shall detain the committee for only a few minutes. I shall refer not to what the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) has said, but to certain very compelling matters that have been put before the committee by the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths). Those matters involve, not the terms of the Repatriation Act or its benefits, but the administration of that act. I do not think that the act could have been drafted in clearer terms. I do not claim it to be entirely thework of Labour governments, but Labour governments contributed substantially to it, as the Minister for Health is well aware. Originally the question that arose was whether disabilities suffered by an exserviceman many years after his war service could be connected with that war service. On several occasions, this Parliament attempted to solve that problem, Finally it laid down in the clearest terms that when such a question arose, the onus was on the Repatriation Department to prove that there was no connexion between the war service and the disability or physical condition that had caused incapacity.
Let us consider the cases that have been mentioned! I am assuming that they are genuine cases. I amunfamiliar with them but I am familiarwith other cases. The honorable member for Shortland referred to a case of an ex-serviceman with a heart condition. I shouldsay thatno medical authority would deny the possibility of connexion between war service and a disability of that kind.The act provides that theonus of proof that a disability isnot attributable to war service shall lie on the department. Over and over again, in my experience as Attorney-General and as Leader of the Oppositibn, I have known of cases that have been decided against an exserviceman because the provisions of the act have not been properly applied by the commission or the War Pensions Entitlement Tribunal. Nothing further could be done because no provision has been made for further appeal. The plea made by the honorable member for Shortland should be heeded. The Government cannot itself remedy the position; it can be remedied only by those who administer the act. We tackled the problem through the Legal Service Bureau, which we established in 1942 because of the large number of cases that would arise as the result of World War II. As honorable members are aware, branches of the bureaux were established in each State to present the cases of ex-servicemen. Up to a point the operations of the bureau were successful. I regret to say that, through no fault of the Minister for Repatriation, the staff of the bureau has been reduced in every State.
– It is still quite adequate.
– I do not think that it is adequate and I suggest that the administrative side of ite work be re-examined. As the result of the efforts of the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Graham), who is very interested in this matter, further curtailment of the activities of the bureau was prevented. These cases can be adequately dealt with only if they are properly brought before the War Pensions Entitlement Tribunal and if the provisions of the act are properly administered. If there is a reasonable possibility of connexion between the disability from which an exserviceman suffers and his war service, no matter how long after his discharge the disability becomes apparent, the claim should be admitted. The act is very clear and definite on that point. No statute in any other country has been drafted more carefully than was our repatriation, legislation. It represents the work of all political parties in this Parliament. In my opinion - I speak from experience of a large number of cases and my opinion is reinforced by what the honorable member for Shortland has said - this gap must be filled. To some degree the. department has failed to insist that the provisions of the act shall be given effect.
– Does the right honorable member advocate legal representation?
– Not necessarily, though in appropriate cases such a course may be desirable. I have not considered that aspect of the matter. The Legal Service Bureau provided skilled men to put the cases before the tribunal and in appropriate cases the tribunal would probably be prepared to hear legal representatives on questions of law. Because the department has failed to realize that, the act provides that the onus of proof shall lie upon it, in very many instances, justice has been denied to applicants. That is the substance of the case submitted by the honorable member for Shortland. He presented it without any intention to gain party politica’l advantage. His sole desire was to ensure that the provisions of the act shall be properly carried out. I apologize to the committee for having intervened at this stage. I did so only because the case submitted by the honorable member for Shortland is overwhelmingly strong. I ask the Minister in charge of the committee to convey the remarks of the honorable member for Shortland to the Minister for Repatriation.
.- I wish to direct the attention of the committee for a few moments to Division 196, Department of Commerce and Agriculture, item 1 - “Australian Agricultural ‘Council and Standing Committee on Agriculture - Contribution and expenses.” The principal function of the council is concerned with the rehabilitation of agriculture, but from the observations made by certain honorable members it is obvious to me, and to many other people, that they have no conception of the magnitude and relevant importance of that task. The problem of stimulating our primary industries must be resolved by the council and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) and by proper legislative action by this Parliament and in the parliaments of the States. At one time all our primary industries were chained to the chariot wheels of export parity price, from which they could not escape, no matter how much those engaged in them tried to do so. All our primary industries were established on the basis that the price that the world was prepared to pay for a commodity should be the prevailing price in Australia. When world prices were remunerative, our primary industries were prosperous, and when world prices were unremunerative, our primary industries were depressed. Consequently they experienced conditions of comparative prosperity followed by conditions of comparative depression. I have very vivid recollections of having spent the Sunday before the declaration of war in September, 1939, with the right honorable gentleman who was then, as he is now, the Prime Minister of Australia (Mr. Menzies), and the gentleman who is now Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay). On that day, and in the days that immediately preceded and followed it, 22 primary commodities were being shipped from Australia to the markets of the world, and every one of them was being sold at a loss. The only solution of the problem that the producer could offer was to increase his production in the hope that by so doing he would extricate himself from his difficulties ; but the more producers increased their production the greater was the volume of unconsumed and accumulated stocks. As the volume of unconsumed stocks rose so did world parity prices fall. Increased production, instead of remedying the situation, merely aggravated its serious effect on the economy of the country. Those circumstances existed in all our primary industries. Tied as they were to the chariot wheels of export parity price they had no hope of escape. When it was suggested to the Australian people that, because of their high standard of living, they might be prepared to agree to the fixation of an Australian price for primary commodities consumed in Australia, they rejected the proposal largely because they did not then, as they do not even now, comprehend the problem that has been constantly before those of us who have to study these matters. I should like to quote a passage from a book which was published in 19^5 dealing with this question. It reads as follows : -
There is a brand of pure patriotism that imposes a simple obligation on every good man and woman to understand the cause of the disaster that bus afflicted, not only the entire rural economy, but the complete national economy that has led to soil sterility and all its attendant evils and to the depopulation of the country. Every cost is, in the final analysis, a cost against the land. Every cost is passed on until, ultimately, it reaches the land, where it stops, lt is a cost against the land and it stays with the land until’ it itf met and discharged in full. Every tax is. in the final analysis, a tax against the land. It may be that it is levied against the individual, and it may be that, with great self-sacrifice and fortitude the individual meets the tax out of current income or hard won savings; but since current income or hard won savings come from the land by devious ways it is obvious that the (ax is a tax against the land, lt may be that it is levied against industry and it may be that industry elects to meet the tax from reserves or accumulated profits, instead of following the normal procedure of passing the tax on. lt makes no difference. Since reserves or accumulated profits come from the land, it follows that, before or after the event, the tax is a tax against the land. Similarly, every debt is a debt against the laud whether it is contracted by the State or by the lowly individual in the State. There are no means of repaying debts except from the land, and sooner or later the land is committed. Just as the State or the individual in the State is .pledged to meet the debt, so is the land pledged, since neither the State nor the individual have resources outside the land. That is what the land is for. That is the purpose of the land’ and it has no other purpose. The land must maintain its people and all their excesses. When the land fails, the people perish. There is no suggestion that the land should escape from its responsibilities, but there is more than a suggestion that intelligent people should recognize an l appreciate the immensity of these responsibilities and their timeless character.
There has been no recognition of these responsibilities and it is increasingly necessary that -people should understand the task of rehabilitating the primary industries on a scale that will meet the present need of the community. Up to the declaration of war all our primary industries were tied to export parity prices. Then, because of the national emergency, under the National Security Regulations, primary products were acquired by the Government in the interests of the people. When the export parity prices rose, the primary producers were deprived of the full value of their product. They hoped that when the war terminated the former state of affairs would be restored, and that they would again have the right to dispose of their product themselves. All sorts of specious arguments were put forward by the socialist government of that time for the continuation of those schemes that had been necessary to meet the national emergency. For all practical purposes, those schemes socialized the major primary industries. When the National Security Regulations were terminated, it was hoped by those of us who try to understand these problems that the primary producers would be allowed to enjoy the comparative prosperity that naturally comes from remunerative prices. They were denied that right by the socialist government, which controlled the sale of all primary products except wool. If certain machinations had been successful the wool-grower would have lost a great part of his returns, too. The only way in which the producers were able to compensate for falling export parity prices was by increasing production.
The producer can now protect himself against the machinations of the socialist party and against any manipulation that may deprive him of the true value of his product. For the first time in the history of primary production in this country the producers are in a position to benefit from their own production. Unless justice is done to primary producers there will be a contraction of production to the minimum necessary to keep the individual producer; Such a level of production would be wholly inadequate for the economy of the country. It would be wholly inadequate for the major schemes of development that are necessary even in the next few years. Therefore I make an impassioned appeal to this committee to return to the producers; the right to market their own products in their own way. Having done that it will be the duty of the Australian Agricultural Council and of this committee to reduce costs so that, whether the export parity price rises or falls, production will continue. This committee and the Austraiian Agricultural Council must also maKe available to the producers in all industries, whether primary or secondary, the services that are necessary for their development. If this task is faced with courage and determination we shall attract men back to the land, production will be increased and the country will be provided with a substantial basis for prosperity.
.- The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Roberton) has been supporting the Government for the last three years while almost every aspect of primary production has declined. He should have realized by now that his words are not likely to alter the Government’s policy and that he will have to take other action to effect an improvement in the situation of which he has complained.
I wish to speak on that part of the Miscellaneous Services Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department which concern the Commonwealth Literary Fund. Last week I protested against the manner in which a small clique of literary leftists - under cover and open Communists and “ fellow travellers “ - were exploiting the fund and the taxpayer by obtaining a percentage of fellowships out of all proportion to their literary merit and their numbers. It was clear to me that political bias was entering into the judgment of the advisory committee, and that the awards were not being made according to literary merit. I suggest that the reaction of the. Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and his supporters to my charges was remarkable. I was accused of needlessly sneering, witch-hunting, lying, and so forth. I did not raise this matter lightly; I raised it only because I knew that unless I brought it before the Parliament no action whatsoever would be taken to rectify the sorry state of affairs. After I had mentioned the matter, the Prime Minister replied to me and pouted like a pouter-pigeon because I dared to impugn his actions on the committee that makes the award of the Commonwealth Literary Fund fellowships. His attitude clearly indicated that until action is forced upon this committee nothing will be done to investigate the method of awarding fellowships.
– The same method was followed during the regime of the Labour Government.
– I shall deal with that later. The Prime Minister accused me of wanting a political test applied to the persons who sought fellowships. He said that I had put forward the view that a political test instead of a literary test should be applied. I say unhesitatingly that the direct opposite is the truth. I want the works of writers to be judged on literary merit and not on political affiliation. I was protesting against political judgments. On no account do I want political bias to be shown in choosing the persons who are to enjoy the benefit of the Commonwealth’s bounty. It has been my complaint, since this Government took office, that political bias has been exercised by the committees appointed to award these literary fellowships. Out of seven fellowships granted by this Government to persons who write novels - and I remind honorable members that the grants are not made on the works themselves but to the persons in order that they may be free, to write the works - four have been given to definite Communists, one to a man who may be a Communist and can be described as a doubtful quantity, and one to man who has associated with Communists in “ fellow travellers’ “ organizations. That is not a bad record for the Communists. They have received four or five of the seven fellowships that have been granted by this Government. On those facts I am entitled to say that the Prime Minister has apparently asked honorable members to accept the fact that only Communist writers are so outstanding in their ability as to be entitled to Commonwealth fellowships. We have been asked by the Prime Minister to accept the fact that the literary ability of the rest of the Australian people who do not accept the Communist doctrines falls far .short of the literary ability of a small group of Communists. One, for sure, -and perhaps three, non-Communists have been awarded Commonwealth fellowships by this Government as against four known Communists.
Does the Prime Minister invite honorable members to believe that in those circumstances the awards were made purely on literary merit? If he does, then it is high time that he resigned from the advisory committee and allowed some one who is prepared to investigate thoroughly this matter of the judgment of literary ability and the award of Commonwealth fellowships to take his place.
Quite evidently, when the Prime Minister replied to my statements about the matter a few days ago, he invited -honorable members to believe that the awards were made on literary merit. He said that it was nonsense to suggest -that leftists were exercising any undue influence in this matter, and he accused me of wanting a political test applied to those who sought the awards of fellowships. He said that I wanted a political test applied rather than a literary test. I inform the right honorable gentleman that I want the political test abolished, and I want these leftists to be tested purely on literary merit. I say that a literary test is not being applied at present in awarding the Commonwealth fellowships. I believe that the test applied is to ascertain whether an applicant for a fellowship is within the charmed circle of Communists or literary fellow-travellers. I am now speaking of those people who write novels and not of the writers of serious works, because quite obviously Communists have neither the intelligence nor the ability for the research necessary in the writing of serious and worth-while books. The Prime Minister would have us believe that literary ability is confined to Communists and stooges and “ fellow-travellers “. The right honorable gentleman can believe that if he likes, and’ his supporters can believe it; but I certainly do not believe it, and I protest vigorously against the great number of Commonwealth fellowships that have fallen into the hands of Communists. The Government parties moved a motion of protest, quite unjustly, against the previous Labour Government’s administration of this fund. I now ask honorable members on the Government side to force the Government’s hand on this matter if the Prime Minister will not do anything himself.
Before I try to prove the number of awards that have been given to Communists I shall answer some of the charges that have been made against me since my statements on this matter first appeared in the press. Of course these charges were made mainly by members of the Communist party who denied that they were Communists but were in receipt of fellowships from the Commonwealth
Literary Fund and had formerly been associated with the Communist party. The reaction of the Communist party to my statements wa3 the usual squeal and smear campaign, but this time the squeal was several notes higher and the smear was many degrees wider because finally the Communists’ hands- were being plucked out of the taxpayers’ pockets. I shall consider first Judah Waten. This man is a Russian who has received two grants from the Commonwealth Literary Fund, one to write a book and one to publish it. Mr. Waten denied that hewas at present a member of the Communist party but said that he had been a member of tho Communist party in 1930 and that I had wrongly charged him with writing a book which included certain blasphemous matter: I did not charge him with writing that matter- as honorable members will perceive when I read from my rough Hansard proof of the speech that I made about him in the Parliament. I said -
Lot me quote some of the other activities of Mr. Waten, who enjoys a grant of some £800 from the Commonwealth- Government for the purpose- of producing a literary work. One poem in a journal of which Mr. Waten was the editor is entitled, “ Jesus Christ in an Ash Tray “. Another poem in this publication is so indecently blasphemous that 1 shall not read it at all.
Honorable members will perceive that I did not say that Mr. Waten wrote the poem. I said that he was responsible for its publication. I have the publication here. It is a magazine called Strife, and it is issued by the Communist party. The name of J. L. Waten ig shown on the first page as editor of the publication. The issue to which I refer honorable members is dated the 13th October, 1930, and the poem is ascribed to a person who writes under the nom de plume Impious IX. I understand that Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick is now; claiming credit for it. Apparently when this poem was published he was more unwilling to admit his membership of the Communist party than he is now. If honorable members have any doubts about Mr. Waten’s Communist affiliations, let them read some of the articles in Strife. This is a sample of Mr. Waten’s own work -
With telling strokes and penetrating analysis the central committee of the Communist party set forth the fundamental character . and. dynamics of the economic and political situation of Australia.
Here is another sample -
Here is a booklet that goes far towards exploding the fallacious blather of the Professors and Labour party apologists.
The whole magazine reeks of communism, because, in fact, it is a Communist pub lication. Many of the articles in it were written by Mr. Waten himself, thus showing his Communist bias. I warmed a little towards Mr. Waten when I read an article in relation to the daily press in which he said -
The days and nights shriek and groan with the palpitating beat of the giant dope machines, foul, slimey octipi that suck and suck and grow fat on the brains and hearts of nien.
I began to have a fellow feeling for him when he went on to say -
In their stead, they leave flabby, bloodless, putrifying pulps of psychophantic content, servile acquiescence and “lily-livid inertia.
So much for his views on that subject: I know that his answer is that he has since resigned from the Communist party and has not had anything further to do with it. ~Nom let us consider that statement. Mr. Waten is- named in Mr. Justice Lowe’s report on the- Royal Commission of 1950 as a member of the Communist party. All my sources of information are freely available to the public, and I have always: carefully read Communist publications- and have taken a note of whatever has interested me. The Melbourne Guardian of the 12th January, 1943, reported that Mr. Waten’ was in charge of the north-west Communist party news. In 1949, the same paper reported that he was a patron of’ the Youth Action for Peace Congress, together with Di IT. Pritt, the Dean of Canterbury, Stanistreet, K. S. Pritchard, and. Wilfred Burchett, of Red Korean fame, hardly fit associates for- an exCommunist. On the 3rd December, 1950, he was reported to be on theHardy Defence Committee, together with Fitzpatrick, John Morrison, Lambert and Marshall. Lambert and Morrison have also received grants from the Commonwealth Literary Fund. Dozens of instances of Mr. Waten’s activities are outlined in the Communist party newspapers. There cannot be the slightest doubt in the mind of any reasonable person concerning the true- position of this gentleman. Time is pressing, and therefore I shall have to skip some of the facts. However, I shall be glad to supply them to the Prime Minister if there should be any chance of his being moved in this matter at some future date. Most people know who Mr. Hardy is and have heard about the book that he wrote. He went to London and wrote an article about the Realist Writers’ Group that was published in the Daily Worker of that city last December. He stated that the group had been formed in 1944 and that most of its members were also members of the Communist party. The aim of the group was to study literature from the Marxist viewpoint. He commented -
One sure sign of political maturity of ti working class movement is that it produces a group of writers who work as part of the struggle for peace and socialism. Hie Australian revolutionary movement has produced such a group.
That referred to the Realist Writers Group. I have the names of some of its members. According to Mr. Brian Fitzpatricks publication of February, 1952, in an article by Mr. Eric Lambert, who enjoys a government bounty in the form of a literary fellowship, the list includes, in addition to Frank Hardy, John Morrison, who has received two grants from the Commonwealth Literary Fund. If I had sufficient time at my disposal, I should relate the Communist activities of Mr. Morrison as reported in the Guardian. According to Mr. Hardy, whose aim is to give the revoluntionary viewpoint to literature, the Realist Writers’ Group was helped at its readings, talks and discussions by Vance and Nettie Palmer. That is a most significant fact. Mr. Palmer is the chairman of the Commonwealth Literary Fund Advisory Board, and his advice on the granting of awards is undoubtedly accepted by the other members of the board and by the members of the committee. Another helper was Frank Dalby Davison, a member of the Communist party, whose activities, as reported in the Communist press week by week, would fill half a page. Davison is ‘ in receipt of a Commonwealth Literary Fund grant for the production of a book of short stories. I have that book here, but the information printed at the front of the volume states that thirteen of the stories had been published previously, and paid for, by the Bulletin and other journals. Thus, he was given £250 to enable him to produce two additional short stories in order to complete the volume. But of course leftist influence had nothing to do with that ! That, was purely coincidental, like the budget leakages!
I refer now to the chairman of the Commonwealth Literary Fund Advisory Board. The Prime Minister said in this chamber on the 28th August, after I had mentioned the matter, that he thought Mr. Palmer was a most estimable gentleman who had no leftist leanings and that I apparently was suffering f rom delusions. I have uncovered some extremely interesting information about Mr. Palmer in the course of a brief examination of the Communist party’s publications. Youth Voice, the official organ of the Eureka Youth League, reported that in June, 1946, Mr. Vance Palmer was a patron of the league. No doubt he was accustomed to dine and talk at that time with the present Prime Minister, who was then the Leader of the Opposition. In August, 1946, Mr. Palmer backed the Eureka Youth League’s New Deal finance appeal. In August, 1947, he formally opened an art sale for the benefit of the Eureka Youth League delegates to a conference at Prague. On the 6th March, 1951, he was acting in the Hardy Defence League. All these facts have been reported in the Guardian and Youth Voice. On the 10th August, 1945, according to the Guardian, he was a speaker at the Communist Club, 218 Camberwell-road, Camberwell. On the 26th July, 1946, he wrote a letter to protest against the fact that the Soviet flag was not displayed on public buildings. On the 6th August, 1948, he was the chairman of a committee that organized a fund to send Mr. Counihan abroad. Mr. Counihan was found by the Victorian royal commission on communism to be a. Communist. On the 27th August, 1948, he issued a further appeal in the Guardian for donations for Mr. Counihan to be sent to Europe on Communist party affairs. He is reported to have spoken, on the 11th August, 1950, to a Readers and Writers Peace Committee and was active in organizing such a committee. I do not know whether Mr. Palmer is a Communist or not, but that is a brief statement of his activities.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN”. - Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. WENTWORTH (Mackellar) j.9.54]. - I, am afraid that I must agree in some important respects with the statements of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon). I agree with his assertion that there has been a consistent political bias in the making of Commonwealth Literary Fund grants whereby those who support the Marxist or leftist line have received preferential treatment and those who have been willing to jump on the Communist band-wagon have found their path made very easy by the party and have had their sustenance provided from Commonwealth funds. I agree, unfortunately, with what the honorable member has said about Mr. Vance Palmer, who has had considerable associations with the Communist party, even though he may never have been a signed member of the organization. Another member of the Commonwealth Literary Fund Advisory Board, Miss Eldershaw, also has had associations with various Communist-sponsored organizations, though they have not been so considerable as have been those of Mr. Palmer. It is regrettable that these individuals have been allowed to use their influence in connexion with the fund in order to bring about the state of affairs that has been described. The honorable member for Yarra has been, perhaps, a little unfair in trying to attribute too much of the blame to the present and not enough to the past. I am not attempting to deny what is happening at the moment. The honorable member’s statements are correct. But the matter should be treated in this chamber on a non-party basis, and I ask him and his colleagues to remember that the sort of thing that he has discussed has been going on for a long time and was going on in the days when the late Mr. Chifley was the chairman of the committee of the fund as the Prime Minister of the day.
I shall make certain quotations from Ilansard reports of statements by the late Mr. Chifley which can be explained only on the assumption that the officers of the fund deliberately misled him. The circumstances that I shall discuss illustrate, first, the easiness with which the fund treats persons of leftist inclinations, and, secondly, the fact that the officers of the fund were apparently willing to deceive Mr. Chifley and put into his mouth words that he used in this chamber and which are very difficult to explain. The incident that I refer to is the granting of a fellowship to Marjorie Barnard in 1941. The grant was made in December, 1940, and it was made effective for twelve months from the 1st January, 1941. The original grant was £125, but subsequently it was increased in some unexplained way to £200. It was made for the preparation of an historical novel based on research in the Mitchell Library. I have official documents to substantiate my statements, and these show that Miss Barnard, in her application to the fund,declared that she proposed to take early Australian history for her field of research. However, on the 8th May, 1941, she advised the fund that, instead of using early Australian history for her theme, she would write an historical novel of the present time written from an imaginary vantage point in the future. It is remarkable that the latest official record of the fund, which was circulated only last week, still retains the original wording and reveals no awareness of the switch that took place in 1941. It was not until January, 1944, that Miss Barnard advised the fund that her historical novel had been completed. Now I come to the statements that were made in this chamber on the 26th March, 1946. Honorable members will find the report of this incident at page 638 of volume 186 of Hansa,rd. A question was addressed to the then Prime Minister, the late Mr. J. B. Chifley, upon notice. Honorable members are well aware of the difference between a question placed upon the noticepaper and a question asked ex tempore, because when a question is asked upon notice the Minister to whom it is addressed has the advice of his departmental officers in preparing the answer to it. I shall read the questions that were addressed to Mr. Chifley, who, at the time, was the chairman of the Commonwealth
Literary Fund Committee, and the answers that he gave to them. He was asked -
Mr. Chifley supplied the following answers ;
That occurred in 1946. Shortly afterwards .the Melbourne University Press issued a cheap edition of Macquarie’ s World, which had been published earlier in a limited edition. In 1947, Georgian House published a novel entitled To-morrow and To-morrow, which was written, not by Miss Marjorie Barnard, but by Miss Barnard in collaboration with Miss Eldershaw, who had been a member of the Advisory Board from its inception, and, in fact, is still a member of it. The extraordinary thing is that, on the 29th May, 1947, Mr. Chifley, in answer to another question upon notice, went back on his previous answer and said -
The Commonwealth Literary Fund was not connected with the publication of Macquarie’s World.
I have given a bald recital of the facts, but it is quite clear - is it not? - that the officers of the fund were trying to cover something up, and were misadvising the Prime Minister of the day. How is it that, when a fellowship is granted for an historical research work, a trashy, tripey novel, with a Marxist slant, appears in its place, and is not entered in the records of the fund, so that the then Prime Minister, when he was asked a question upon notice about it, gave to the House a misleading reply? How. is it that a fellowship is ‘ issued to Miss Marjorie Barnard, and then the work that is supposed to be subsidized is written, not by her, but by her in collaboration with a lady who is one of the five members of the Advisory Board? Obviously, the matter calls for an inquiry, ls it not quite obvious - and I am afraid that I have to be in agreement with the honorable member for Yarra on this point - that those people who have a leftist or a Marxist slant receive very easy and lenient treatment from the controllers of the fund? I contrast this position with the treatment that was accorded to another book on Macquarie by a man who has an anti-Communist slant. I refer to The Life of Macquarie, by Mr. M. H. Ellis, whose name, perhaps, is familiar to most honorable members. His work has real, historical merit. It was published eventually without any assistance from the fund, and received not only the Harbison-Higinbotham Research Prize from the Melbourne University, but also as a result of the publication, the author was awarded a fellowship in the Royal Historical Society of Australia and the Royal Historical Society of England. The work had real scholarship, and won world-wide acclaim. Yet it was treated in the most shabby way by the controllers of the fund. Time will not permit me to discuss all the details of this matter this evening, although I have them available, and any honorable member who wishes to peruse the papers may do so. However, there is one matter which, in my opinion, is worth mentioning. I have not as yet formed any definite conclusion about it, but I believe it to be worthy of investigation. The author of The Life of Macquarie made a charge that Miss Marjorie Barnard had improper access to his manuscript, and had used it for the compilation of her own work. He made that statement in a letter which he wrote to the present Prime Minister some time ago. Let me quote his exact words -
There was also some evidence integral in her book which suggests that she had been in possession, not only of the manuscript which she admits Mr. Davison made available to her, but also of the one which is in the custody of the Advisory Board.
J.t .is admitted that Mr. Davison made the manuscript available to Miss Barnard, and it is worthy of note that her work was dedicated to Mr. Davison, who has been named by the honorable member for Yarra as a member .of the Communist party. But the best piece of (evidence that has been brought forward in support of this ‘charge appears in Mr. Ellis’s own memorandum, which reads as follows : -
There .are some curious coincidences between the text of my manuscript and the text of Hies “Barnard’s book. For example, there is a Strange mistake in her book which might have been ‘due to the misinterpretation of a note written on a page of my reference notes. A typed note at the top of a page refers to
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN” (Mr.
Bowden). - ‘Order ! The honorable member’s time h’&s expired.
.- This debate is most painful to me because statements that have been made by honorable members on both .sides of the chamber can have only two results, namely, the retardation of the progress of Australian literature in this country, aird the eventual destruction of the Commonwealth Literary Fund. If those be useful results, I
Commend the efforts of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the honorable member for Yarra (“Mr. Keon). The honorable member for Mackellar has been thwarted on this occasion in his indefatigable search for Communists. He has found nothing to malign Hinder the name of Marjorie Barnard, whose writings have been a decoration to Australian literature. So much for his attack on the Commonwealth Literary Fund. The rest is gaggle and nonsense that he has rehashed on five Or six occasions. The honorable member for Yarra has been lucky. In his pursuit, of communism, he has been able to run to earth in the records of the Commonwealth Literary Fund three known Communists, according to his own statements. He has presented the fund in an unfair light, although one may be prepared to admit that three Communists may have been granted fellowships. The primary point about the Commonwealth Literary Fund- and I know because I was a member of the Advisory Board-is not whether a person is a Communist, a Christadelphian or a fascist, but whether he or she can write. If that were not the case, it would be a waste of publicmoney because then the search would nor be directed to the development of Australian literature. Let us take first things first. The answer is to be found in the basic question - Can a person write or not ? If the answer he “ no “, the person concerned does not get a scholarship whether he is a Communist or anything else. There is no preference for persons of any ideology.
When a debate on the same issue took place some” time ago the arch hater of Communists in this country, Mr. Seullin, said, “ The only test is whether they can write. I do not care how they vote or whether they vote.” That basis has been maintained. The fund has had the distinction of having former Prime Ministers and Prime Ministers at its head and has had writers of high reputation as its advisers. Can more be expected of a body that is seeking the best literature? If one were witch hunting, one would look for much more. The hard fact is that of 50 fellowships, three have been granted to suspected Communists. That is a fair average in the community whether one’s head be buried in the sand or not. There are Communists in other avenues as well as in literature and because no test can determine whether or not they are Communists, three out of 50 is a fair average if, indeed, those three writers are Communists. That has to he proved. It has not been shown, to be a fact. This tedious reading from one dead piece of writing or another is a well-known technique that Communists use for the purpose of adopting people. Eventually the Communists may adopt the honorable member for Mackellar. The fact that something is printed in a Communist publication does not make it gospe I prefer to believe the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), Mr. Scullin and the late Mr. Chifley as to the integrity of the Commonwealth Literary Fund and the earnest writers 1V 1, 0 do their best to give to Australian literature a chance to develop. I repeat that the hard fact that has been presented to the committee is that three Communists have gained fellowships in 50 awards. During the war we did not have on the bookshelves one Australian hook that we could show to our American friends. We had reprints and not one of them was of Communist origin. The fellowships have helped such writers as Mary Gilmore and Ernestine Hill. We have given a fellowship for a history of the Church of England. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) received a grant from the fund for writing about the Australians’ black brothers, the aborigines. All the argument in the world will not make that man “ red “.
It is time that all honorable members came to their senses. Three suspected Communists have been found by them.. Of 30 books sponsored by the fund, 28 have been best sellers and not one of them was written by a Communist. Where is the force of the argument that the writers of Australia, have succumbed to the blandishments of communism? To say that that is so is to perpetuate a contemptible, mean trick under privilege. There are no avowed Communists on the Advisory Board and certainly there are none on the Commonwealth Literary Fund, the leader of which is the Prime Minister. What great work has been done by the Commonwealth Literary Fund ? The honorable member for Yarra has made an honorable apology concerning a later recipient from the fund, Judah Waten. He made an implication, but the Hansard record of his speech shows that we did not hear as clearly as we thought we did his reference to some of the writings that Waten had edited. . I am relieved that the name of a brilliant writer has been cleared. That man has said, “ Is it impossible ever to cease to be a Communist?” He declared that for twelve years he had not been a Communist. We cannot say whether in twelve years’ time the honorable member for Mackellar will make the same claim, because the line between madness and sanity is as thin as a piece of paper.
No case has been made out to show that the Commonwealth Literary Fund oi the Advisory Board is riddled with Communists or is handing out largesse to Communists. It is nonsensical to say so, and such fiddle faddle serves no purple except to destroy Australian literature. The Prime Minister issued a statement on the matter in which he set out clearly that the
Commonwealth literary Fund stands for the encouragement of Australian writers and has the machinery to do so. I sat with the people concerned, and I know that they do an honest job. I know that although there may be some who are suspected of strong leftist tendencies and who may be Communists, not one book that has been published, sponsored or put out as a reprint by this fund has had the faintest tinge of Communist propaganda. I submit that that is the true test of this fund. It has successfully forwarded the case of Australian literature. To muddy the stream with nonsense about people hiding behind the covers of books and coupling literature with communism, is fantastic.
In the list of those to whom fellowships have been granted since 1940, there are such names as Stella Miles Franklin, Doris Boake Kerr, Ernestine Hill, Marjorie Clark, Marjorie Barnard, E. J. Brady, Boy Connolly, S. J. Baker, J. H. M. Abbott, Dame Mary Gilmore, J. S. MacDonald, Sydney Tomholt, Frank Reid, who wrote under the name of Bill Bowyang, Daisy Bates, Eric Muspratt and Boy Bridges. The Commonwealth Literary Fund has done magnificent work in publishing the national poetry and bringing to the notice of the Australian people and. the Englishsneaking world the work of men like Brian Vrepont. Dymphna Cusack is not a Communist. Her best-sellers owe their beginning to the fact that they received the support of the fund. Who would suggest that H. M. Green was a Communist? He spent the last twenty years of his life preparing a vast compendium of Australian literature. Lewis Lett, who gained a fellowship, wrote stories of Papua which are classics and hi.? biography of the life of Sir Hubert Murray, the great Administrator of the Territory, is accepted as a standard work. Is he a Communist? K. Mackenzie, another writer who secured a fellowship, was a soldier who wrote a brilliant story about the Cowra gaol break when the Japanese broke loose from their prisoner-of-war camp. As a war story, it is a fine piece of work. There was also J. K. Ewers, the celebrated We:tern Australian poet, essayist, and litterateur, Judith Wright,
Eric Lowe, another Kenneth MacKenzie, and Dal Stivens, who worked in the Department of Information under two governments. Then we come to Judah L. Waten, who was fair game for any one who was looking for Communists. Finally, we have Kylie Tennant, Victor Kennedy, and Xavier Herbert. Where are the seven Communists of whom we have been told ? The honorable member for Yarra could produce, with any assurance, only three, and he could not point to one item of Communist propaganda in any of the books they wrote. Seeing that the members of the committee formed, their judgments on the literary value of the works submitted, they did very well to include only three supposed or possible Communists in a list of 50 beneficiaries. The literature that has been sponsored by the Commonwealth is democratic and of high quality, without any smack of communism. That is a memorable achievement for a small committee, and it indicates that its members dedicated themselves conscientiously to their task. The rabble-rousing nonsense that we heard from the honorable member for Mackellar, who devoted most of his time to attacking a woman, was a rat-nest of propaganda. We heard it all years ago, before the honorable member came into this Parliament, and it was refuted then. No ease was made out by the honorable member for Mackellar, nor by the honorable member for Yarra, who endeavoured to support his allegations with suggestions that have not been difficult to refute. Wide and windy statements about Communists are bad enough, but when statements of that kind are applied to literature, that starveling which needs nourishment but gets so little, an ill service is rendered to the community. I believe that my work with the committee was work well done, and I was sorry that I could not continue it. I have the greatest confidence in those with whom I “worked. The Prime Minister of the day and the Leader of the Opposition spent hours with us making sure that the awards should go to the right persons Is it likely that the leader of the Government, and the leader of the party that might become the government, would be parties to a policy of favouring Communist authors at the expense .pf other Australian writers ? It has certainly not been established that those who administer the fund are affected by communism .or ar.e sympathetic towards Communists. There is no .case to answer on the charge that benefits have been handed out freely ,to Communists, leftists or near-“ reds’”.
The DEPUTY OHA IBM AN (Mr. Bowden). - -Order.! The honorable member’s time has .expired.
– I propose to speak on the subject of medical research. It is generally realized chat both physical and mental health depend in large measure on dental health. I t is clear to all thin’king people that this Government is concerned with the health of the Australian people, as has been proved by its ready acceptance of Hie national health plan, and its progressive implementation. Prevention is better than cure, foi’ which reason I welcome the provision of funds for medical research. I suggest that the Government should make a large contribution to dental schools -to enable them to conduct research into matters associated with -dental health.
In order to achieve dental health, three things are necessary. First, it is essential that the public be brought to understand fully the importance of dental health. This understanding can he achieved through the press, and by means of films, the radio, and education in the schools. ‘Secondly, dental treatment must be made available to the people. It is of no use to educate people on the subject of dental -health unless dental ser.vices .a-r-e -made available at small cost –to those who are unable to /pay full sates for the treatment (they require. Thirdly, there is a possibility that the problem of dental decay .may be solved ;by research
Experiments are ‘being conducted in the fluoridation of domestic water supplies (for the .partial control of dental decay. This has ‘been .described -by ©r. N. E. Goldsworthy, the Director of Dental Research in Sydney, as the most important discovery in public health practice during <the last -25 years. According to Dir. Goldsworthy, ,one prominent member of the American
Dental Association has described tie practice of water fluoridation as ranking in importance with Jenner’s small-pox vaccine, Pasteur’s advancement of the microbial .theory of disease, the pasteurization ,of milk, immunization for diphtheria, and the administration :of iodine for [the prevention .of goitre.
For about 50 years, it has been recognized that a disease commonly known as mottled enamel, hut described in -medical terms as chronic endemic dental fluorosis, existed in certain areas in Italy, North Africa, and the United States of America, and it -was linked with the use by persons, from ‘birth onwards^ of the water to be found in those areas. These mottled teeth, with their abnormal structure, did not show any greater, tendency to deca,y, or to develop caries, as it is known in the dental profession, than did other teeth. Rather, it has been proved that the (presence of a trace of fluorine in domestic water supplies, through natural agencies, was associated with a lower incidence of caries. I have stressed the point that this is a trace element. Honorable members will appreciate the excellent work which trace elements are doing throughout the Commonwealth. If fluorine is present in domestic water supplies in .a greater concentration than l£ parts in 1,000,000 parts of water, it may produce mottled enamel in teeth, but as I hav(e already mentioned, evidence has been adduced that concentrations of fluorides in a smaller concentration -than that have been associated with a reduction of the incidence of caries. This problem has been investigated in -various ways, the details of which I shall not refer to at this stage. The investigations have included field surveys with chemical analyses for the fluorine content of caries-resistant and caries-susceptible teeth, experiments on animals, the topical application of fluorides ito , human teeth, and investigation of the methods of providing these concentrations of fluorine in domestic water .supplies. Such investigations ha-v;e been carried out in .cities overseas. An article in [the American Journal of Public Health states that, up <to Feb.ruary, 1951, a single company which is pioneering in this field -of fluoridation pf domestic water supplies ‘had installed 6.2 fluoridation plants for cities and institutions. The results .obtained .show that there has been a decline of the incidence of caries in children’s teeth by as much as £5 per cent. The mere topical application of fluorides to the teeth of children lj as reduced the incidence of caries by one-third.
I agr.ee with Dr. Goldsworthy that there are opposing views on the safety of the practice, because concentrations of more than 5.5 parts of fluorine to 1,000,000 parts of water may become poisonous. According to a report recently published in the Sydney Morning Herald, Dr. Goldsworthy stated -
The occurrence in uncontrolled circumstances of toxic manifestations is no reason for denying the benefits of fluorine to very large numbers of urban people where engineers and chemists pan sec to it that the fluorine content of the water supply is maintained at a level below that which can cause any of the recognized injuries.
Fluoridation of water supplies can be carried out through the existing facilities for water purification. Honorable members will know that it is common practice to introduce chlorine into domestic water supplies, and, therefore, the introduction of the correct quantities of fluorine would present no great problem to engineers. I also agree with Dr. Goldsworthy’s statement that experiments with water supplies should be undertaken throughout Australia, and that a caries survey should be linked with those experiments in order to gauge the effects of the experiments. 1 hope that the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) will use his influence to see that a proportion of the proposed vote for medical research shall be made available to the appropriate bodies for adequate experiments and research along the lines that I have suggested. If dental health can be achieved in Australia, it should be our aim to achieve it. Experiments in other parts of the world have shown that great progress has been made in this matter. ‘ I believe that the children of the future may reach manhood and womanhood with a full complement of teeth. At the present time many thousands, of young people are not able to do go.
For the benefit of those honorable members who have spoken to-night about tho Commonwealth Literary Fund, I wish to make clear a point that does not seem to be generally understood. Of the 45 persons who have received fellowships from the fund, fifteen have been Communists or have had Communist, tendencies.
Mr. COSTA (Hanks) “10.35].- Before proceeding to discuss the Commonwealth Bank report and balance-sheets for the financial year which ended on the 30th June, 1951, I wish to say something in connexion with the Repatriation Department, in order to supplement the remarks of the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Grifffths). In common with the honorable member, I have found that in my electorate there are old “ diggers “ who are suffering from a number of disabilities due to war service and in respect of which they receive repatriation benefits. In addition to those disabilities they have contracted other illnesses which are not related to war causes and which debar them from receiving certain repatriation benefits. For instance, because those illnesses cannot be related to war causes they are denied treatment in repatriation hospitals. In my opinion the law could be more sympathetically administered in such cases, of which there are many.
The report of the Commonwealth Bank, to which I have referred, contains the following passage, under the heading “ Profit and Loss Accounts “ : -
The aggregate net profit of the Commonwealth Bank, including the Note Issue Department, and the Commonwealth Savings Bank, after making provision for contingencies was, in round figures, £7,306,000. This compares with £7,618.000 last year, a decrease of £312.000. Of the aggregate profit, £4,730,000 was paid to the Commonwealth Treasury (of which £3,394.000 went to Consolidated Revenue and £1,338,000 to the National Debt Sinking Fund).
The point that I wish to make is that during the current and the preceding sessional periods of this Parliament honorable members have claimed that the Commonwealth Bank should be required to pay all the rates and taxes, including income tax, which the private banks must pay. If this report is examined it will be found that not only does the Commonwealth Bank pay such taxes, but that it also pays all its profits into Consolidated Revenue. In that way the whole nation benefits from its operations. Instead of amending the Commonwealth Bank Act in order to place the bank in the same position as private banks, I suggest that the private banks should be required to do as the Commonwealth Bank does.
During the financial year which ended on the 30th June, 1951, only three branches of the bank were opened. There are 431 branches distributed throughout the Commonwealth. In my opinion there should be many more. It is obvious from the distribution of branches throughout the Commonwealth that the bank is not being developed as it should be and that it is not making the same progress in this regard as it did in the early years of its operations. There are only 247 branches in New South Wales, 45 in Victoria, 63 in Queensland, sixteen in South Australia, 45 in Western Australia, six in Tasmania, two in the Northern Territory, and one’ in the Australian Capital Territory. When one considers the number of suburbs there are in Canberra, it is obvious that there should be several other branches. In my electorate, which is one of the biggest Commonwealth electorates in the metropolitan area of Sydney, having an enrolment of 55,000 electors, there are only three branches of the Commonwealth Bank. Important suburbs, such as East Hills, Herne Bay and Padstowe, are without a branch of that institution. The Government should make every effort to see that these facilities shall be provided in such areas.
I agree with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) that interest rates are too high. The recent rise of interest rates has increased the cost of the construction of an average house by £350 and has increased the interest bill in respect of the National Debt by £30,000,000 per annum. Some years ago, the Commonwealth Bank was largely responsible for the reduction of interest rates to reasonable levels. During the last general election campaign, Labour party candidates promised that Labour, if returned to office, would immediately reduce interest rates. This Government has reversed that policy, and has increased those rates. I agree with the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) that although the States have majority representation on the Australian Loan Council, it is the duty of the Commonwealth to manage the raising of loans. But, in that respect, the Government has failed the country. Possibly, the reason why recent Commonwealth loans were not fully subscribed was that the interest rate offered was not sufficiently attractive. Generally speaking, however, wealthy interests in this country deliberately refused to invest in those loans in the hope that, if they failed the Government would be induced to raise the rate to 5 per cent., as it has now done.
– An investors’ strike.
– Yes. When coal-miners withhold their labour, they are regarded as being on strike. Wealthy interests which, for purely selfish purposes, refuse to lend to the nation money that is required for the development of outresources are in the same category.
Reverting to the necessity to make available the facilities of the Commonwealth Bank in important centres of population, I point out that official post offices, of which there are from 1,300 to 1,400 throughout Australia, are established in all towns with a population of over 2,000. At the same time, there are over 6,000 non-official post offices. I can see no reason why a branch of the Commonwealth Bank should not be established at least in every centre that has a population in excess of 2,000.
.- A sum of £68,615 is being allocated in respect of the World Health Organization, which is a part of the social and economic setup within the framework of the United Nations. T. have been particularlyinterested in the reports that that organization issues from time to time with respect to the rehabilitation of persons who are handicapped physically. Although we are heading towards the establishment of a welfare State, that unfortunate section of the community seems to have been lost sight of. The condition of children who are physically handicapped and are unable to help themselves can be substantially improved through the provision of Government assistance and the exercise of public sympathy. I refer particularly to children who are afflicted with cerebral palsy and are generally described as spastic children. Within recent years, the fact has come to be generally recognized that the problem of the treatment of 3pastie children, educationally and physically, cannot be undertaken as a part of the ordinary treatment prescribed for crippled children. It is a special problem, and voluntary organizations have been formed in each State for the purpose of dealing specifically with it. However, the Western Australian Government is the only government that has yet assumed a measure of responsibility for such children. At the request of the Spastic Welfare Association, that Government has provided a special school for the education of spastic children. Unfortunately, the medical profession is not very well informed about the treatment of cerebral palsy. But we know that the affliction is clue to a disorder of the motor part of the brain. A spastic child is normal, intellectually, but lacks the power of expression ; and that power can be restored only by special education and physiotherapeutic treatment. Knowledge on the part of a spastic child that he, or she, possesses normal intellectual capacity but lacks the power of expression causes frustration. The victim is unable to give expression to thought and movement. However, modern experience has shown that spastic children need not be abandoned to utter helplessness. They can be enabled to become useful members of society and need not remain entirely dependent upon the charity of the community. Every person is entitled to the comforting thought that he is not dependent on others. All these children can be helped. Provided treatment is commenced sufficiently early, they can be trained and treated to attain a measure of mental satisfaction that they are not useless pieces of driftwood in society. The United Nations organization has considered the rehabilitation of physically handicapped children, and has recommended exactly what is being done in Australia, that is, that special provision be made for the treatment of children affected by cerebral palsy, educationally, socially, and medically. I point out that what is being done in Australia is the result of the spontaneous action of generous men and women. I understand that the New South Wales Government also provides educational assistance to the spastic centre at Mosman, in Sydney. The New South Wales Government is the only government in this country that has assumed direct responsibility for one section of the needed treatment. That assistance is still in the experimental stage; it does not meet the whole of the requirements of the situation. The World Health Organization has suggested a number of ways in which this problem could be tackled. The minutes of the meeting of that organization of the 26th May, 1952, contain this observation -
Generally speaking, it is charitable work that is needed.
The general tenor of the organization’s report is that the interest of the public should be awakened and maintained, that charitable work should be encouraged, and that governmental assistance should be provided. There must be charitable work, official governmental recognition, and participation in the scheme by persons who are personally interested because their children are afflicted.
It is to urge the Australian Government to accept a degree of responsibility for the treatment of spastic children that I have addressed myself to the proposed vote of £68,000 as a contribution to the World Health Organization. We can learn a lot from our participation in that organization. I do not for a moment say that the proposed expenditure is unjustified, or that it should be reduced. Far from it! If possible, it should be increased. I point out, however, that charity begins at home. One of the main purposes of the World Health Organisation is to provide technical and other assistance to the backward nations of the world. It is doing a wonderful job in this connexion. Although I think not very kindly of the entry of the United Nations into the task of maintaining world peace, I consider that it is achieving great influence in the economic field. The World Health Organization lays down very definitely that it will provide assistance to nations which are not so well equipped as is Australia. Its resolutions make no mention of the fact that some ofthe facilities that it recommends should be provided in those countries are not provided in Australia on an official basis. I do not for a moment suggest that it is the responsibility of the Australian Government to provide clinics; but it is definitely this Government’s responsibility to contribute towards their maintenance. I should like to see included in the future Estimates - it could be done this year - a special Commonwealth grant to each State for the treatment of spastic children. It is an enormous job.
The unhesitating response of the public in every State to appeals for the treatment of spastic children should spur the Government to put its hand into this pie. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) could tell the committee of the splendid response of the people of South Australia to appeals to assist spastic welfare organization in that State. Only last week an appeal in Victoria realized £42,000. I am associated with the movement in Western Australia. In less than twelve months we have raised £20,000 to assist spastic children. We have purchased a building for use as a clinic, and engaged a doctor. We are now training physiotherapists. Our organization is conducted on an entirely voluntary basis; no money is provided by the Western Australian Government. However, I think honorable members will agree that we cannot continue to maintain the clinic on an entirely voluntary basis. I hope that the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) will interest himself particularly in this special province. The crippled children do not present an insuperable problem. I am as crippled as any child could be, but that does not bar me from enjoying the respectability of earning my own living. I could mention the names of many people who, although physically handicapped, have found niches in the world for themselves. A crippled child can go to an ordinary school. Although possibly he cannot engage in the playing of cricket or football, he has a degree of capacity to help himself. But spastic children present a special problem. Intellectually, they have nothing whatsoever wrong with them. Although they may not be able to speak clearly, . they know what they want to say, and they can read. With the assistance of an electric machine, such children have attained a high degree of education. Some have attained the degree of Bachelor of Arts.
A research clinic has been set up in England to train people to treat spastic children. Not very much is known about cerebral palsy. ln addition to research into its treatment, there must also be research into its causes. The number of spastic children is increasing as a result of the advance that has been made in medical science. Formerly many of them died at birth; now they are carried through from infancy to maturity.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) put -
That the question he now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.7 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1. (a) 570; (i) 2,540.
The numbers given cover the Authority’s stuff and day labour forces. They do not include contractor’s personnel.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 September 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1952/19520904_reps_20_218/>.