20th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Photostat Copies op Documents.
– I have examined the precedents for the inclusion in Hansard of matter not actually spoken in the House. I believe that Hansard should be a fair record of the words actually spoken in debate. The facts shown in the photostats that the honorable member for Eden-Monarosubmitted last Wednesday for inclusion in
Hansard,have been recorded more than once. The publication of the photostats would not add to the knowledge held by honorable members of the matters in dispute. The photostats deal with matters beyond the competence of this House to settle or resolve. At the time that leave to insert them in Hansard wasgranted, neither the House nor I knew of the forms of the photostats, nor had I had an opportunity to consider the matters of principle that would arise from the use of them. I am not prepared tocreate two new precedents - first, the insertion of photostats in Hansards and, second, the insertion of documents that have nothing whatever to do with this House. I rule accordingly.
Mr.Calwell. - May Iask you, Mr. Speaker, to state whether your ruling means that the material that is included in those photostats, and which the House agreedshould be incorporated in Hansard, is not now to be inserted in Hansard?
– That is so.
– I wish to know whether I may have an opportunity next week to challenge your ruling, or whether it must be challenged immediately.
– The Standing Orders provide that it must bechallenged immediately, but I am in the hands of the House. If the Houses wishes to defer the matter until next week, it is quite immaterial to me.
– Shall I have to move in that direction?
– The honorable member may submit a motion now, and then if, next week, he does not wish to go on with it, he could withdraw it.
Mr.Calwell. - There is a matter of principle involved in this matter, as far as the House is concerned. The House gave leave to insert the documents in Hansard, and, with all due deference to you, Mr. Speaker, the Opposition does not believe that the Standing Orders contain any provision that would empower your present action. The veto principle belongs in the United Nations, and not here. I should like to raise the matter next week. I could submit a motion now that your ruling be disagreed with, but I should wish then to seek leave of the House to have the matter debated next week.
– That is a matter entirely for the House.
– But is it competent for me to do so ?
– Standing Orders provide that a motion of dissent from a ruling must be moved at once.
– The honorable member for Melbourne could move dissent from your ruling, Mr. Speaker, and then withdraw the motion next week.
– I do not wish to withdraw it next week. I wish you, Mr. Speaker, to inform me whether it will be competent for me, having submitted such a motion, to ask the House for leave to debate the motion at a later time.
– That is a matter for the House, and not for me.
– I am asking you whether it would be out of order, no matter what the House did, or whether it would be in order.
– If the honorable gentleman moves a certain motion, and then asks for the adjournment of the debate on it until next week, that is a matter not for me, but for the House.
– Would it be in order for me to do so?
– Whatever the House rules is in order, as far as I am concerned.
– The Government will give the honorable member for Melbourne an opportunity to make his remarks at another time. He need have no fear in relation to that point. Al] we want him to do is to make up his mind.
– I move -
That the ruling be dissented from.
For the benefit of the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison), I should like to say that I made up my mind about the course I wish to take very early in this discussion, and the only question that remains is when I shall be accorded, an opportunity to take it. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Mi-. SPEAKER. - Order ! The honorable member may not do so yet. I put the question -
That the ruling be dissented from.
Is the motion seconded ?
– I second the motion.
– I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
– I rise to order, with a view to seeking your guidance, Mr. Speaker, on this matter. Is it possible for this matter to be approached in a different way under Standing Order 167, which reads as follows : -
A resolution, or other Vote of the House, may be read and rescinded; but no such Resolution or other Vote may be rescinded during the same Session, unless seven days’ notice be given; Provided that to correct irregularities or mistakes one day’s notice shall be sufficient, or the corrections may be made at once by leave of the House.
Like the honorable member for Melbourne, I consider that a vital principle is at stake in connexion with this matter, and think that this standing order will enable the difficulty to be resolved without recourse to the method that you, Mr. Speaker, have submitted. Is it possible for the correction to be made at once by leave of the House?
– Again, that is a matter for the House on which I have no feelings whatsoever. Yesterday, I informed the House, before I called on questions without notice, that I proposed to raise this matter to-day. The House could have come here prepared to discuss it ; but, again, that is a matter for the House. Is leave granted to the honorable member for Melbourne to continue his remarks at a later stage.
Honorable Members. - Yes.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I desire to ascertain from the Minister for Health the position of unemployed workers who require hospital treatment under the Commonwealth health scheme. Is any charge or fee imposed by the hospital authorities on such persons? Does this amount constitute a debt against a worker’s future earnings, which is recoverable by legal process ?
– That is entirely a matter for the State governments. The Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Cahill, has said definitely that persons without means and in the position to which the honorable member for East Sydney has referred, will be treated free of charge.
– I address a question to the Minister for Health. In instances in which age pensioners are entitled to receive medical treatment for eye complaints, is the Government prepared to supply spectacles when such are prescribed by a medical doctor?
– The Government has no intention of entering the spectacle industry. Under the British health insurance scheme it was found to be impossible to control abuses. In many instances persons had been supplied with up f.o twenty pairs of spectacles.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health. Does the Commonwealth guarantee the financial stability of approved hospital insurance societies? If not, what protection have the members of such a society if it becomes financially unsound? Will the Commonwealth ensure that any rights held by members of an approved hospital insurance society that becomes financially unsound will be preserved if they require hospital treatment?
– No organization is registered by the Commonwealth for hospital insurance purposes until it is first vetted and approved by a committee that consists of the Commonwealth Actuary and a senior officer of the Department of Health. The committee insists that the articles of association of the organization concerned shall be framed in a way that will ensure that the cost of management and administration will be very low. The committee insists also that the assets of the organization shall be sufficient to enable it to meet its liabilities.
– Has the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council been directed to a statement made two days ago in Wagga by a justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in regard to a Communist publication which he described as a gross and flagitious incitement to crime? Is he aware that the statement to which the learned judge referred sets out the plan of Kerenskyism which Lenin employed so successfully in Russia, by using a weak Labour party to get into power under the pretence of being a democratic party-
– Order ! Will the honorable member ask his question?
Mi-. WENTWORTH.- In view of the fact that there are indications that the Communist party is successfully carrying out the first stages of this blueprint, and is using the Labour party for that purpose-
– Order ! Will the honorable member ask his question?
– Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council give consideration to the allotment of time under Standing Order 107 to enable a more complete debate in this House on these matters of urgent and vital public importance ?
– My attention has bean drawn to the remarks made by the learned judge. With regard to the second part of the honorable member’s question, about the Kerensky plan, yes, my attention has been drawn to that, and I have given some consideration to the matter because it vitally affects the democratic standards of this country. I am aware of the fact that the first move in this blueprint plan had its origin in something that happened yesterday. With regard to the establishment of a weak Labour government as a caretaker government
Honorable members interjecting,
– I rise to order. You, Mr. Speaker, ruled that the honorable member for Mackellar was out of order because he was digressing at great length and was entertaining the House with his version of history. Now the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who is less an historian than the honorable member for Mackellar, is giving honorable members an even worse interpretation of history.
– There is nothing that I know of to prevent a Minister from answering in his own way a question directed to him. All that I ask, and I think that it is a desirable practice, is that Ministers should direct their answers to the point of the question. I believe that brevity is a desirable consideration.
– I shall endeavour to be brief because, as I have said, the blueprint plan appears to be taking some shape. With regard to the appointment of a weak Labour government as a caretaker government, may 1 direct the attention of the House and the country to an article that appeared in the Communist Review of last October. It was written by Mr. Dixon, of the central committee of the Communist party. The article reads -
In the elections at all times our aim is to build a firm united front with the Labor Party workers. We will, therefore, continue to give our preference to the ALP candidates. At the same time, we believe that there should be a definite agreement between the Communist Party and the ALP for an exchange of preferences, and urge Labor Party workers and all other sections of the Labor movement to insist upon this-
– That is a lot of rubbish.
– Order ! I believe that the Vice-President of the Executive Council is straying from the point of the honorable member’s question. He is now dealing with a matter that is rather the subject for a debate. He is introducing debatable matters.
– I am attempting to draw attention to the fact that a plan has been laid down by the Communists whereby, for an exchange of preferences at a general election, they will attempt to put in office a weak Labour government as a caretaker government.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. You have ruled on numerous occasions that only one question at a time shall be asked. The question asked by the honorable member for Mackellar is whether or not the Vice-President of the Executive Council will give effect to a policy which will provide for time in this House for honorable members to ventilate matters of public interest. The Minister has not said one word in answer to that question.
– I consider that the point of order has been well taken. Standing Order 107 provides for a sixhour debate on matters of urgent public importance to be initiated by a Minister. I understood that that was the subject matter of the question of the honorable member for Mackellar, and I see that he assents to what I have said by nodding his head. The Minister may care to answer the honorable member’s question.
– I understood that the core of the question of the honorable member for Mackellar related to Standing Order 107. His question was prefaced by reasons why he should ask the question, and he asked if my attention had been drawn to a certain matter. I was saying that my attention had been drawn to it, and I gave my reason why I intended to answer the core of his question, which had reference to Standing Order 107. I was pointing out that because of the implementation or the partial implementation of the blueprint plan, I intended to give serious consideration-
– The Minister will not do it.
– Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney must not interject.
– I was pointing out that I would give serious consideration to Standing Order 107, which provides for a debate to discuss a special matter, because this matter is reaching a pitch where some attention must be given by the legislature to the blueprint drawn up by a subversive organization which blueprint, it would seem, needed the co-operation with a weak Opposition.
– Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council inform the House of the name of the
Sydney Communist publication about which a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales made serious allegations this week? Have the Commonwealth Crown law officers investigated the judge’s charge that the September issue of the publication contained a “gross incitement to the crime of subversion of the Federal Government “ ? What action is to be taken against the publisher?
– I understand that the publication to which the honorable member has referred is the Communist Review. I do not know whether the Crown law officers have investigated the charge that was made by the judge, but I have no doubt that, if they believe the publication contained a seditious statement, they will consider what action can be taken against the publisher.
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture seek to ascertain, during the Empire talks in London, the reasons for the refusal of the United Kingdom Government to waive its preference rights in respect of high horse-power crawler tractors, which Australia is importing from the United States of America under the first dollar loan programme? I ask this question because supplies of such types of tractor from the United Kingdom are very limited and can provide only a small percentage of Australia’s total requirements. The imposition of duty on such tractors is unjust to the purchasers, many of whom require the machines for land clearance, irrigation and food production.
– Under what we knowas the Ottawa Agreement, the United Kingdom enjoys certain preferences in the Australian market. Reciprocally, Australian products are given protection in the United Kingdom market. Under this system of preferences, certain British products, such as tractors of the type that the honorable member has mentioned, enjoy free entry into Australia, and, in the interests of United Kingdom manufacturers, we impose a protective duty on foreign tractors. The Australian Government is bound by the terms of the treaty to which it is a party, and, therefore, it is not able to remit the duty on foreign tractors. However, I agree with the honorable member that the United Kingdom at present is able to supply only a very small percentage of Australia’s requirements of high horse-power crawler tractors, and I shall bring to the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs the suggestion that he has made with a view to determining whether negotiation with the United Kingdom Government can lead to a remission of the duty on foreign tractors until the United Kingdom is able to supply all our requirements of these machines.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether the Government proposes to send an Australian contingent, composed of representatives of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, to the coronation next year? If so, is the Minister able to advise the House of the composition of the contingent?
– The Government intends to send a contingent representative of the three armed services to the coronation next year. The services are at present in the process of deciding the composition of the contingent, which is expected to consist of representatives of the various arms of the three services, including the Citizen Military Forces. At present, I cannot inform the House of the exact composition of the contingent.
– In view of the assurance that the Minister for Defence has given that a contingent, representative of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force will be sent to Great Britain to attend the coronation, does the Government intend to send a delegation of members of the Parliament to represent Australia at this supremely important ceremony?
– The honorable member has made an excellent suggestion. I am not in a position to say whether it will be possible for the Government to act upon it. I shall discuss the matter with the Prime Minister.
– The question that I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council concerns the management of the business of this House. Does the Government intend ever to allow private member’s day, listed on the notice-paper in precedence to Government business? I draw the attention of the right honorable gentleman to the fact that he has never yet permitted “ Grievance Day “ to proceed on the day prescribed for it.
– I am endeavouring to follow the precedent established by the previous Government in this regard. So far, I have not been entirely successful, but I hope to achieve that result in the future.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. Early in 1950, I referred in this House to certain moneys that were due to the apple and pear growers of New South Wales. The Minister then informed me that, pending the conclusion of the Zerbe case, his department was carrying out certain investigations of individual claims. I understand that that case was settled some time ago. The Minister informed me that the investigations were proceeding. Can he now indicate the likely date on which outstanding claims by apple and pear growers will be settled ?
– The delay in the settlement of the claims of certain growers whose apples and pears were acquired during the recent wax has resulted from the necessity to investigate records and make calculations in order to give effect to the formula of compensation that was laid down by the High Court in the Zerbe case. That investigation has involved a good deal of time. I assure the honorable member, who has constantly made inquiries on behalf of parties interested in this matter, that there has been no undue delay. My advice at present is that settlement of claims of growers in New South Wales is expected to be made at an early date.
– Does the Minister for Labour and National Service agree that the views that were presented to him yesterday by a deputation, which included two industrial repre sentatives, one of whom presented details of employment that had been supplied to him by the Commonwealth Engineering Company Limited, which in the main is a contractor to the Government, were placed before him in a manner that was designed to be helpful to the Government rather than as a blue print for communism in this country?
– I can only say that tha information that was presented to me yesterday by the deputation to which the honorable member has referred was, as the honorable member has suggested, placed before me courteously and in a constructive way, with the object of seeking a mutually satisfactory solution. However, I point out, particularly to honorable members from New South Wales, that if it is alleged that existing unemployment has resulted partly at least from the policy of this Government it is a curious fact that more than half of the persons who are now receiving unemployment benefit are registered in the metropolitan area of Sydney. If the Government’s policy were responsible for the present unemployment one would expect to find that experience reflected throughout the Commonwealth; but the fact that more than half of the persons who are registered as unemployed in this country are registered in the metropolitan area of the Labour-governed State of New South Wales is significant.
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service inform the House whether instructions have been issued to Commonwealth employment officers to refuse or embarrass applicants for unemployment benefits who have been out of work for a period and who have not previously sought the benefit because they have a banking account or have been able to secure occasional work, or is this intimidation and the delay of claims submitted by such applicants the responsibility of the officers themselves? If so, will the Minister issue instructions immediately that the practice must cease?
– Certainly no complaint has been brought to my notice of any alleged embarrassment or intimidation in the circumstances that have been mentioned by the honorable member. I ai.-i not aware of any change of procedure that goes beyond the arrangements that operated during the term of office of our predecessors. However, if the honorable member knows of any case that calls for complaint, I shall be glad if he would supply the details to me. They will be fully investigated.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service, in reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Blaxland, stated that in New South Wales, which is controlled by a Labour government, there is more unemployment than there is in any other State. Is the Minister aware that the present degree of unemployment in New South Wales has been caused by this Government’s policy of the restriction of loan money? Will he endeavour to convince his colleagues in Cabinet that it is necessary for the Government to make more loan money available to the States, to enable them to provide employment for unemployed people?
– I do not understand what the honorable member means by “ restriction of loan money “. This Government has agreed that the State governments shall have all the money that can be raised on the loan market. In addition, it has, to a degree hitherto unprecedented in peace-time, made other moneys available to the States from funds under its control.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture received a request from the Victorian Wheat and Wool Growers Association that he convene a meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council for the purpose of further discussing the future of wheat marketing? If so, does he intend to call a meeting of the council for that purpose? If he intends to do so, can he indicate, approximately, the date on which it will be held?
– No such request has reached me personally. A letter to that effect may have reached my department but, if so, I am not aware of it. I can give consideration to the proposal only on the basis of the substantive issue that may be raised in the request. However, I should like the Victorian Wheat and Woolgrowers Association to understand that I cannot do business with each of five or six State organizations. In respect of the wheat industry, I can do business on behalf of the Government only with the federal body, the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. Is it not a fact that Australia has a preferential tariff which applies to goods imported from Great Britain? Is that arrangement reciprocated by Great Britain in view of the fact that it has put a heavy tariff upon wines from Australia? Is there any possibility of persuading Great Britain to lift that tariff so that the Australian wine export trade to that country can be maintained?
– It is a fact that we have the benefit of a preferential tariff for wines entering the United Kingdom. That is part of the general structure of the Ottawa Agreement, When the duty was originally imposed by the United Kingdom Government, the protection that was given to Australian wines was really effective. However, the United Kingdom Government has raised the duty on all wines very substantially for internal reasons of policy that are related both to the raising of revenue and the increasing of cost to consumers of certain nonessential requirements. The objective i? to reduce consumption and, to that degree, to save foreign exchange. The effect of the policy is that the preferential margin that is granted to Australian wines at a lower rate of duty to-day is no longer really effective. We have joined with South Africa, which has a common interest with us in this matter, in making the strongest representations to the United Kingdom Government that the preference to Australian and South African wines should be made effective. Up to date the representations have been without effect.
– I understand that some persons in this country applied for passports to enable them to. attend the Peking peace conference, that their applications were refused, and that later they applied for passports to enable them to attend a conference in Russia. Will the Minister for Immigration say whether those passports have been issued and, if they have, when the issue was made?
– I understand that, recently, passports were issued to certain persons in this country to enable them to attend a conference in Russia after assurances had been given and after satisfactory safeguards had been taken that they would not travel to Russia via Peking during the holding of the Peking peace conference. I believe that they have left Australia. I shall ascertain whether there is any further information upon the matter that I can give to the honorable gentleman. I cannot tell him the precise date upon which the passports were issued, but I know that the issue was made quite recently.
– .My question is addressed to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Is a motion of censure pending against a certain member of the Federal Parliamentary Labour party ? Is the motion based on the ground that that individual spilled the beans about the policy of the Australian Labour party to destroy local secondary industries and to establish in their place Asiatic secondary industries? Has the discussion of the motion been postponed until after the Flinders by-election, in a futile attempt to cover up the real policy of the Australian Labour party on this issue? Is the individual concerned the Deputy Leader of the Australian Labour party in another place?
– The honorable member for Melbourne may answer the questions if he wishes to do so.
– Of course I wish to answer them. The answer to the first question is “ No “. There is no vote of censure pending on Senator Armstrong. There is a newspaper concoction of certain statements made in the Senate by the honorable senator, but it does not accord with the version of his remarks that is published in Hansard. The story has been re-hashed by the newspaper to try to build up the fading fortunes of this Government in the Flinders byelection, and the Prime Minister’s efforts will no more help the Government in that respect than will the efforts of the Melbourne Herald or any other newspaper or person that tries to misrepresent Senator Armstrong’s remarks. Senator Armstrong is a very good Australian, who would not do anything to harm the interests of this country. The people who are attempting to tag on to him a charge that he wanted to do some harm to the industries of Australia are themselves responsible for the great army of unemployed people that is walking the streets of Australia to-day.
Mr. Griffiths having been called by Mr. Speaker,
– The honorable member for East Sydney has been here for a long time. I should think that he would know that the answering of questions without notice is purely an act of grace on the part of the government of the day, and as soon as the Minister in charge of the House on a particular day states that no further questions will be answered-
– He did not say that.
– He asked that they be put on the notice-paper, which amounts to the same thing.
Mr. Griffiths interjecting,
-Order! When Mr. Speaker is on his feet there should be silence among honorable members. When the Minister in charge of the House on a particular day decides that no further questions shall be answered, that is entirely a matter for the Government.
There is no standing order and no form of procedure to compel a Minister to answer any question in this House, and the honorable member for East Sydney, who was a Minister of State for years, should be aware of that fact from his own experience.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) proposed -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to Tuesday next, at 2.30 p.m.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) was much more brief in moving this motion than he was in answering a question a short time ago. He has given the House no reason why discussion of the important business now listed on the noticepaper should be suspended until Tuesday next, and no reason why the House should not meet to-morrow. I understand that the business of this House is to be suspended because a meeting of the Australian Loan Council will take place in this chamber to-morrow, in order to discuss an increase of interest rates. I see no reason why this House should adjourn merely because the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) have some extraparliamentary duties to perform that they could well perform while the House continued its sittings. There is plenty of room in the vaults for a meeting of the Australian Loan Council, and the vaults would provide a proper setting for a conspiracy to increase interest rates. The Premiers, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer could go down there to work out their planned attack on the people.
Mi-. SPEAKER-Order ! The honorable gentleman should come to the question at issue.
– I have established the points that I wished to establish The Vice-President of the Executive Council has given no good reason why we should adjourn until Tuesday, because he has no good reason to give, and no valid justification for his proposal. As usual, however, this place is to be shut up while another body meets behind closed doors. I think that it would be far better for the nation for the business of this House to be transacted and broadcast, rather than for a body, whose deliberations we are continually told are confidential, to meet in camera in this chamber. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council would agree that on Tuesday next the House would be given a full report of the proceedings of the Australian Loan Council we could grant the concession that he asks, but if the Government insists that the deliberations of the council are to remain confidential I see no reason why the House should voluntarily agree to adjourn until Tuesday next and neglect the business of the nation. We wish to know what happens at the meeting of the Australian Loan Council, and at the same time we wish to continue to transact the business before the House. The electors of Flinders will also want to know what happens at the meeting of that council.
.- I wish to join with the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) in protesting against this strange action of tha Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison), who in the past has advanced as the reason for the frequent gagging of debates the plea that the Government has a long legislative programme to deal with, and therefore cannot permit long debates. Now we have the strange experience, with very little notice having been given, of the Government, for some reason as yet undisclosed, wishing to close this Parliament at a time when honorable members are being continually foiled in their efforts to bring matters of national importance to the notice of the Parliament and the public generally. As a matter of fact, I wish to direct the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to the number of unanswered inquiries made by members of the Opposition which have remained on the noticepaper for months. If the members of Cabinet are so lacking in a proper sense of. the duties that require their attention that they consider themselves able to close up the Parliament for a day, then I suggest that they might spend that, day in providing answers to the very pertinent questions that have been placed on the business paper by members of the Opposition. Further, I hope that we shall not again, for some time at least, hear the Vice-President of the Executive Council argue that it is necessary to gag debates because the Government has a long and important legislative programme to deal with. Members of the Opposition want the Parliament to sit to-morrow, because they believe that conditions in this country are daily becoming more critical. There are important matters that they wish to discuss. I shall briefly mention one such important matter. While Australians and other people who have been brought here from overseas-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman cannot enter into a discussion of other subjects. The question before the House is whether or not the House shall meet to-morrow.
– .That is the reason why I am mentioning this matter. If the House were meeting to-morrow I should seek to raise with the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt) the attention he has given to the employment of Japanese whom he has brought into this country at a time when he is failing to provide employment for Australian workers and other people who have been brought from overseas under the immigration programme.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman may not proceed on those lines.
– I shall not continue with that line of argument, except to say that it is an important matter which should be discussed. I say that the Government’s proposal to close the Parliament to-morrow is an attempt to stifle the voice of democracy in this country, because Ministers are afraid of the criticism of members of the Opposition.
– I consider that if anything was required to demonstrate the spurious character of the Opposition’s protest in this matter, it was the speech of the honorable mem ber for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who had the effrontery to rise in his place and say that honorable members, presumably referring to himself, had been frustrated in their efforts to bring major matters of public importance before this Parliament. I have sat in my place here throughout question time, and also at other times, during the last week, and I doubt whether there has ever been an honorable member in the history of this Parliament who has been able to put more questions to Ministers in the course of one week than the honorable member for East Sydney has put in the last week.
– Many of my questions have not been answered.
– When other members of the Opposition had no matters on which they desired to direct questions to Ministers, the honorable member for East Sydney was up and down like a Jackinthebox, and repeatedly received answers to his questions. I invite him to check through the pages of Hansard with a view to ascertaining the number of opportunities he has had to ask questions recently. I doubt whether he has missed an opportunity to take part in a debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House at the end of a day’s proceedings. Certainly, he has not lacked any opportunity to raise the important matters to which he has referred, and, indeed, he has reiterated them ad nauseam. You, Mr. Speaker, did not permit him to elaborate his reference that I was giving employment in this country to Japanese, and, therefore, I shall not ask your indulgence to deal with that matter in detail, but I point out that I do not know of any Japanese who have come here for employment. To my knowledge, the only Japanese who have come here in recent times have been a few inoffensive ladies who happen to be married to Australian servicemen, and to whom the Parliament and the Government have given opportunity to come here.
– What about the Japanese pearl divers?
– This Government has issued licences or permits for approximately 35 Japanese pearl divers to come into the north of Australia, but to the best of my knowledge, not one of them has yet arrived, and there is no evidence that any of them is likely to come here. The honorable member’s interjection may be designed to create an impression that this Government is giving employment opportunities to Japanese in preference to Australians, but I do not think that any Australians have been prejudiced by the issue of a few licences or permits to enable a few Japanese pearl divers to come into the north of Australia.
– in reply - The protests of the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) against the proposal that the House should not meet to-morrow are completely insincere. The honorable member for East Sydney has been effectively answered by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt). Obviously, there are reasons behind the protests. Let us examine them.
– Why should not the House meet to-morrow?
– That is just the point. Day after day, week after week and month after month since the budget was presented to the Parliament members of the Opposition have asked spurious questions and made fictitious suggestions about interest rates and the allocation of loan moneys. Even this morning, the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Davies) asked a question about the Australian Loan Council, and referred to the effects of its decisions upon employment. Honorable gentlemen opposite know perfectly well that the Loan Council is to meet in Canberra to-morrow at the request of the Treasurers of the various States. Opposition members are afraid that when the Loan Council assembles the spuriousness of their questions and statements about interest rates and the allocation of loan moneys will be fully revealed. Therefore, they do not want this chamber to be made available for the meeting of the Loan Council. That is why they object to th, proposal that the House should not mee) to-morrow. That reason is perfectly clear to honorable members on this side of the House, and should be equally clear to the people. The Opposition, will resort to any means in an endeavour to prevent the truth of the matter from being made public.
The honorable member for Melbourne has asked why the Loan Council should use this chamber for its conferences and why this House should adjourn when the Loan Council is in session.
– Why does not the Loan Council meet in the vaults of this building ?
– The honorable gentleman knows perfectly well that the State Treasurers will arrive in Canberra to-morrow, with their advisers, who are legion, and that the Loan Council cannot be accommodated in any other room in Parliament House.
– Of course it can.
– (Hon. Archie Cameron). - Order! I ask the honorable member for East Sydney to cease interjecting. If he continues to interrupt, I shall have to put the Standing Orders into operation.
– The honorable member for Melbourne knows that the proceedings of the Loan Council are held in camera,, and are secret.
– Why ?
– The honorable gentleman should direct that question to the State Treasurers. The fact is that the proceedings of the Loan Council are held in camera, and are secret, and no other room in this building has the facilities for the preservation of the secrecy that this chamber possesses. The matter should be known generally, and when it is, the public will know precisely why members of the Labour party are seeking to prevent this meeting of the Loan Council. Their protests during the last few months about the allocation of loan moneys, and interest rates, will be revealed as spurious. Obviously the Labour party has been endeavouring to gain some political advantage from those matters. Let us be clear about that position. All the observations made, all the questions asked, and all the criticisms voiced by members of the Opposition about interest rates-
– Order ! The VicePresident of the Executive Council is now expanding the area of the debate.
– I do not desire to do so. I am merely pointing out that the honorable member for Melbourne is seeking to prevent the exposure of all those questions and criticisms in their true light. Therefore, he will resort to any means in an effort to prevent the Loan Council from meeting in Canberra to-morrow.
Mr. Speaker having put the question, and some honorable members having called “No”,
– Will those honorable members who require a division stand in their places?
– The House will divide.
Question put -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to Tuesday next, at 2.30 p.m.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Ma jority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the Wool Use Promotion Act 1945 as amended by the Wool Tax Assess ment Act 1952.
Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted.
That Mr. McEwen and Mr. McBride do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. McEwen, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to make the amendment to the Wool Use Promotion Act 1945-1952 which was foreshadowed in my second-reading speech on the Wool Tax Assessment Bill 1952. passed during the last session of the Parliament.
Conversation being audible. 21r. Jeff Hate. - I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. Because of the noise in the House it is impossible to hear what the Minister is saying.
– Order ! The House has been very noisy this morning and it is high time chat it settled down. If honorable members must converse they should do so outside in the lobbies.
– Honorable members will recall that at that time section 15 (2) of the Wool Use Promotion Act 1945 was repealed in order to remove any legislative requirement upon the Commonwealth to pay into the Wool Research Trust Account the equivalent of the increased wool tax. L then indicated that the Government did not propose to withdraw from its responsibilities in the field of wool research, but rather that the Government wished to consider what Contribution it should make towards wool research in the future. The Government has now decided that, in view of the current financial situation and the fact that there is a large unexpended balance in the Wool Research Trust Account, the Commonwealth’s contribution to wool research should be on the same basis as previously. That is, at a rate of 2s. a bale of wool sold, with proportionately smaller amounts for smaller quantities of wool. Therefore, depending on the size of the clip, some £340,000 or £350,000 per annum will be provided for wool research out of Consolidated Revenue.
The position hitherto has been that growers, with their own approval, were taxed at 2s. a bale to finance wool use promotion activities, and the Commonwealth, from Consolidated Revenue, contributed an exactly equal amount to the
Wool Research Trust Account for use for research purposes. The representatives of wool-growers’ organizations recently requested that the tax on the industry should be increased from 2s. to 4s. a bale, hut slated clearly that they did not ask or expect the Government contribution to research to he increased comparably. This request from growers was complied with in the amendment made to the legislation d urine: the last sessional period, which provided for a wool tax of 4s. a bale. At the same time, provision for the Government contribution, which hitherto had been comparable with the grower’s contribution, was deleted from the act but I gave an assurance to the Parliament at that time that, in the budget session, legislation would be introduced to make a government contribution without any interregnum in time. The only real point at issue was whether the Government should continue to find 2s. a bale or, alternatively, comply with the suggestion that it contribute 2s. a bale or £350,000, whichever was the greater. The Government’s decision was to continue the 2s. a bale contribution, and that is the prime purpose of this amendment. There is also an amending provision designed to protect the growers’ own moneys in the Wool Use Promotion Fund from being transferred from the jurisdiction of the Australian Wool Board to the Wool Research Trust Account, which is administered by the Government as distinct from the Wool Board.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Eric j. Harrison) proposed -
That Standing Order 104-11 o’clock rulebe suspended until the end of this month.
– I am amazed by the temerity of the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric j. Harrison). The House has just resolved that, at the conclusion of to-day’s sitting, it. will adjourn until next Tuesday, thereby cutting out a sitting day. The Minister who submitted that motion now proposes that we shall suspend the 11 o’clock rule, which means that we shall have all-night sittings if necessary, and that the Government will be able to pass its legislation by a process of C X 11 a u f l, 1011 . If there was any need for this motion, there could have been no need for the resolution that the House should not sit to-morrow. Tn fact, (lie proposal to adjourn until next Tuesday should never have been submitted to the House. The Loan Council could hold its meeting in the Senate chamber to-morrow, and this chamber could have been made available for a meeting of this 1rouse. The. Government now proposes, apparently, that from Tuesday next, for a fortnight or so, we shall meet at 10.30 on some mornings, continue with the business of the House until 5 o’clock on the following morning, and return at 10.30 a.m. on the same morning in order that the Government may complete its legislative programme. In those circumstances, the programme will not be fully debated by the House, because honorable members will not be mentally and physically fit-
– Order ! I point out that the honorable member is completely off the beam, if I may use that expression. Standing Order 104 provides that no new business shall be taken after 11 p.m. unless the House otherwise orders. The suspension of that rule will simply mean that new business may be introduced after 11 p.m. The motion, has nothing to do with the hours of sitting.
– That is merely a technical objection on your part, Mr. Speaker.
– Order !
– My interpretation of this proposal is that, when the 11 o’clock rule has been suspended by a vote of the House, the Government will be able to introduce new business at any time during the sittings of the House. The Opposition is not numerous enough to outvote the Government at the moment, although it will be fairly soon. Therefore, we shall be obliged to sit here and deal with bill after bill. All-night sittings probably would not take place if the Government did not suspend the standing order. The purpose of suspending it, as the Vice-President of the Executive Council knows - and doubtless he is truthful enough to admit the fact - is to enable all-night sittings to be held if necessary. The Government and its supporters apparently want to push business through the House as quickly as possible and then go home. There is no necessity for the suspension of the 11 o’clock rule at this stage. There is no reason why the Parliament should not continue to meet throughout November and December, if necessary, in order to deal effectively with its business. The French Parliament remained continuously in session during the French Revolution, and this Parliament to-day, when unemployed men are tramping the streets, might well find it advisable to do likewise. The Opposition objects to the proposal to suspend the 11 o’clock rule at this stage. The Minister at least might have been explicit. He has merely moved that the standing order be suspended, and we are expected to vote upon the motion. We are not accustomed to New Guard tactics and we will not tolerate them.
.- As honorable members who have been in this Parliament for some years will know, the motion proposed by the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) is in accordance with the procedure that has been followed in this House for a long time. When the Labour party was in power, bills that provided for the expenditure of many millions of pounds were often passed between 4 o’clock and 7 o’clock in the morning. You will remember, Mr. Speaker, that we returned to the Hotel Kurrajong just in time for breakfast. Now, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who had some power in the Labour Government, argues that such a procedure should not be adopted. He has said that the House should meet to-morrow, but he well knows that an important meeting must be held in this chamber to-morrow. The opinions of honorable members opposite seem to have changed remarkably since they were put out of office. An astonishing change has taken place in their demeanour, their professed ideals, and their actions. I think you will agree, Mr. Speaker, that the proposal to suspend the 11 o’clock rule is a matter of ordinary procedure. The Government is eager to complete the transaction of its business by a certain date. The House has been in- session since the 6th August. This will probably be almost a record sessional period for the number of sitting days. We are now in the eleventh week of the period, and we have been sitting on four days a week for some time past. The frequency of meetings of the House, and the length of the sessional period, are due to the wish of the Government to provide members of the Opposition as well as
Government supporters with ample opportunities to debate the important measures that it has submitted to the House. The objections of the honorable member for Melbourne are frivolous.
– in reply - The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has chided me for having submitted a motion to the House without explaining my reasons for doing so. The honorable gentleman has been a member of this Parliament long enough to know that my act was purely procedural. He also knows full well that, i f the Opposition had not wasted the time of the Government and the Parliament, there would have been no need for me to propose the suspension of the 11 o’clock rule. The Opposition has already wasted the time of the House from 10.30 to 11.45 this morning, during which period no business has been transacted.
– I object to and ask for the withdrawal of the remark that the Opposition has wasted the time of the Parliament. We have debated the proposals of the Government. If that be a waste of time, then it is a waste of time for us to come here. I object to the remark that we have deliberately wasted the time of the Parliament, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– The word “deliberately “ was not used. The Minister used the words “ wasted time “. I point out that this is a matter of opinion, on which it, is very difficult for me to give a firm ruling in favour of the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell).
– All dictators object to parliamentary discussion.
– Order! The honorable member for Melbourne referred to continuous sittings of the French Parliament during the French Revolution. I remind the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) that that- era ended with a military dictatorship.
– I hope that the honorable member for East Sydney will take your remarks to heart, Mr. Speaker. I do not wish to comment on your rulings, Mr. Speaker, but J remind the honorable member for Melbourne that you have chided this House repeatedly for tedious repetition and the delaying tactics of the Opposition when Government measures have been under discussion.
– I rise to order. I have never heard you rule, Mr. Speaker, that the Opposition alone was guilty of tedious repetition. Is the Vice-President of the Executive Council in order in using opinions of yours to attack the Opposition ?
– I have not at any time mentioned any of the parties when I have commented upon tedious repetition. Last night, I directed the attention of the House to the fact that yesterday was a day of tedious repetition. Sitting continuously in the Chair, as I do, I think that I am a better judge than any other honorable member on that point.
– The submission of a motion of this kind is purely procedural; and the implementation of it, if it is carried, rests entirely with the Opposition. If honorable members opposite will be prepared, more than they have been up to date, to deal expeditiously with the business of the House, it will not be necessary for the Government to introduce new business after eleven o’clock. However, should the occasion arise to do so, the Government will certainly take that course. Members of the Opposition have suggested that such a procedure is simply terrible. I point out that repeatedly on the motion for the adjournment, after general business has been concluded at 10.30 p.m., honorable members opposite keep the House in session up till midnight speaking on matters which they consider to he of importance to their constituents. Therefore, what is all this pother about? It reveals the stark insincerity of honorable members opposite in this matter. They are engaging in delaying tactics. They wish to prevent the Government from dealing expeditiously with the business of the House. The honorable member for Melbourne said that the meeting of the Loan Council that is now impending could be held in the Senate chamber.
I shall not re-open that matter. In any event, the Senate alone is responsible for the conduct of its business.
– The Senate chamber will not be occupied to-morrow.
– That is the Senate’s business. The honorable member for Melbourne also said that there was no reason why the House should not continue to sit through November and December. A glance at the division lists will show that the Opposition is maintaining merely skeleton numbers in the House while many of its members are absent transacting business elsewhere. Having regard to that fact, I repeat that the protest made by the honorable member for Melbourne is insincere.
Question put -
That Standing Order 104 - 11 o’clock rule - be suspended until the end of this month.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . 19
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Trading with the Enemy Act 1939-1947.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to enable the Government to transfer ex-enemy assets at present held by the High Court of Australia, to the Controller of Enemy Property. This will enable effect to be given to the Government’s decision to distribute the proceeds of the sale of Japanese assets in Australia amongst former prisoners of war of the Japanese. Although the bill relates to the control of all ex-enemy assets, and not specifically to the control of Japanese assets, it goes on to lay clown a plan of disbursement of the proceeds of realization of the Japanese assets only. It would, I think, be helpful if I were first to outline the steps already taken by the Government to compensate in some small measure former prisoners of war who suffered distress or hardship by virtue of their captivity.
Honorable members will recall that the Government appointed a committee consisting of Mr. Justice Owen, of the New South Wales Supreme Court, Sir Stanley Savige and Dr. W. E. Fisher, to consider certain proposals which were advanced for the payment of a subsistence allowance to former prisoners of war. This committee found that there had been a general failure by Japan to treat Australian prisoners of war in accordance with the provisions of the International Convention of 1929 to which that power had pledged itself, and that, as a result, the great majority of prisoners suffered undue hardships and privations. The Owen committee further observed that capture was one of the hazards servicemen must face, and that a claim for hardship money under these conditions was without a just or logical basis. The committee pointed out that the responsibility for failing to observe international law governing the treatment of prisoners of war rested upon the captor power.
Following the report of this committee, the Government established the Prisoners of War Trust Fund, and an amount of £250,000 was appropriated from Consolidated Revenue and made available to trustees, under the chairmanship of Brigadier Blackburn, V.C, for the benefit of formers ‘prisoners of war of both Japan and Germany who suffered mental or physical hardship which is directly referable to their captivity. In the negotiations leading up to the peace treaty with Japan, the Australian Government used its best endeavours to secure general acceptance of a provision in that treaty for compensation to those who had suffered at the hands of the Japanese. It was not practicable, however, to reach any general agreement among our Allies on the. question of monetary reparations, because the extent of the prior claims of countries which had assisted Japan to obtain some stability after the cessation of hostilities were such that if all claims were accepted, Japan could not possibly have regained economic stability. It was possible, however, to make provision in the treaty for the handing over by Japan of its assets in neutral and exenemy countries, and, as honorable members are aware, these assets will be assembled by the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the proceeds will be made available to the respective countries concerned for distribution for the benefit of former prisoners of war and their families.
I point out that by virtue of this provision, which was inserted in the treaty largely owing to persistent efforts by Australia, the whole of Japan’s external assets will become available for the benefit of former prisoners of war. In addition, under the terms of the Japanese peace treaty, the Japanese assets in Australia become the property of the Australian Government. These assets have an estimated value of £770,000. The total of the fund to be distributed under this bill will be in the vicinity of that sum of £770,000.
In considering the disposal of these assets, the Government had in mind that the prisoners of war and civilian internees had been captured and interned by an enemy who did not observe the rules of international law. As a consequence, their health was impaired and they were left with much less capacity to restore their fortunes. The Government felt in the circumstances that it was fitting that responsibility for compensation for these disabilities, many of which will only become apparent as the years go by, should rightly rest with the Japanese, and consequently the Government decided to distribute these assets amongst those affected. These assets represent the whole of the Japanese assets in Australia.
It was found difficult to differentiate between prisoners of war and Australian civilians who were pursuing their lawful business in territory overrun by the Japanese, and who thus became internees. It was considered that these civilians should receive some compensation from the funds available. The Government therefore decided that the proceeds of the sale of Japanese assets in Australia should be distributed as follows : -
Members of organizations (e.g. the Young Men’s Christian Association and theRed Cross) who were in uniform and attached to the Australian forces, and who were captured by the Japanese and held as prisoners of war, will be treated on the same footing as prisoners of war as regard participating in the distribution of the fund.
The Government is anxious that the distribution of these funds should be made as soon as possible. Hence the bill gives authority to the AttorneyGeneral to move the High Court to make available the moneys, investments, books or accounts which are held by that court. These moneys and investments, together with moneys and investments already held by the Controller of Enemy Property, will be realized, and, subject to the payment of the necessary expenses of the Controller of Enemy Property in the administration of the National Security (Enemy Property) Regulations, and such other claims as may be made on the funds, and the payment of £25,000 to the trustees of the Civilian Internees Trust Fund, the balance will be transferred to a distributing authority who will then make it available as directed by the Prime Minister. Action has already been taken to complete the rolls covering those entitled to participate in the distribution. It should be possible, therefore, for the distribution to proceed at an early date, and no doubt a public announcement will be made by the distributing authority in due course if it should be necessary for ex-prisoners of war to make an application for payment of the money.
With regard to payments to be made to the dependants of deceased prisoners of war, the term “dependants” will be interpreted liberally and the prescribed authority will be given discretionary power, should circumstances so warrant it, to make payment to such other person or persons and under any conditions as he sees fit. In the first instance, however, payment would be made to such person or persons who stood to the deceased in the relationship of wife, child, parent, step-parent or fosterparent, or persons who were actually dependent on the deceased at the time of his death. The distributing authority proposes to make an initial payment of £32 per head to each ex-prisoner of war or dependant as the case may be, and I trust that it will be possible to make this payment with a minimum of delay. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Ward) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. McBride) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1948-51, and for other purposes.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Repatriation Bill 1952,which was introduced recently by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis), provided for the payment of increased pensions, under the Repatriation Act, to certain classes of persons who, although incapacitated to an extent, were capable of gainful employment. This bill provides for the payment of increased pensions, under the DefenceForces Retirement Benefits Act, to somewhat similar classes of pensioners.
As honorable members are aware, the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act, which was brought into operation in J uly, 1948, is the basis of a scheme of retirement benefits for members of the permanent defence forces, and provides for pensions or lump-sum payments to members on their retirement from the services, for cover in respect of invalidity during service, and for an appropriate pension entitlement for the widows and children of members who die during service or after retirement on pension. Certain increases of the rates of pensions were made by amending legislation in 1950 and 1951. In the light of the increases of pensions for which provision was made recently in the Repatriation Act 1952, the Government considers that a further adjustment should be made of payments under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act to pensioners who are retired on reaching their retiring ages prior to the age of 60 years, or are retired prior to that age with an incapacity that does not attract a full “ age sixty pension”.
The bill provides for increases of pensions ranging from £32 10s. to £102 per annum for officers, according to rank, and from £17 5s. to £24 per annum for ranks other than that of officer, with higher rates of increment of pension for members in the latter class who serve 26 years or more after attaining the age of twenty years. Members of the nursing services will benefit also, by increases of pensions ranging from £24 10s. per annum for a nursing sister to £69 10s. per annum for the rank of matron-in-chief. The new rates of pension for each rank are shown in the third and fifth schedules to the bill. The increased rates of pensions will be payable on and from the 2nd October, 1952 - that is the date upon which increases under the Repatriation Act will become payable - and will apply to existing pensioners under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act, as well as to those who become pensionable after that date.
Other provisions of the bill concern the rights of certain pensioners who, having served and retired on pension, re-enlist and again become contributors to the fund. The broad basis of entitlement of
Mr. McBride those members will be that they will receive credit for the aggregate of complete years served prior, and subsequent to, re-entry resulting in a higher entitlement on ultimate retirement. That provision will act as an inducement to trained personnel to re-enter the service and will assist us to overcome any short age of instructors caused by greater numbers of men. serving in the permanent defence forces, or by the requirements of national service training.
The bill provides also that when a member of the forces is appointed to an office in the Public Service he may become a contributor to the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund at the rate of contribution previously paid by him to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund, and to receive a pension on the basis of units so contributed for when he ultimately retires at the age of 60 or 65 years. A further provision of the measure is designed to correct an anomaly that affects a small group of officers of the Royal Australian Air Force who contributed formerly to the superannuation fund for death and invalidity during their service. Under the original act, the maximum rate of pension was that provided under the Superannuation Act 1947, that is, £32 10s. for each unit. That rate, however, was increased by the Superannuation Acts of 1950 and 1951 to £39 for each unit. Clause 13 will result in this class of pensioner receiving, with retrospective effect, the rate of pension already provided for similar pensioners who retired under the Superannuation Act and received the increased benefits for which the Superannuation Acts of 1950 and 1951 made provision. The remaining clauses relate to matters of administration, including the rectification of minor anomalies that have become apparent during the four years that the scheme has been in operation.
As I ha.ve already stated, the main purpose of the bill is to provide increased pensions for members of the forces who retire at an earlier age than sixty years., or to persons who, being incapacitated, are entitled to pensions based on rank. The amendments envisaged by the bill are a further indication of the Government’s concern for the welfare of the defence forces, and its recognition of the services that are being rendered to this country by those who have adopted a service career as their vocation. The Defence Forces Retirement Benefits scheme ensures for them a measure of security. They know that, upon their retirement, either upon completion of their service or through invalidity, they, by the benefits accruing to them under this scheme, will be able to enjoy a reasonable standard of living, and that, in the event of their death before or following retirement as pensioners, those dependent upon them will be reasonably provided for. I commend this bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Chambers) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) agreed to - That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Canned Fruits Export Control Act 15)26-50.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of this bill is to give effect to the request of Queensland pineapple canners that the Canned Fruits Export Control Act :i 926-50 be so amended as to bring within the jurisdiction of the Australian Canned Fruits Board canned tropical fruit salad and canned pineapple juice for export from Australia. The board is a statutory authority responsible for the supervision and regulation of our export trade in specified varieties of canned fruits. At the present time, it has a charter to ensure orderly overseas marketing arrangements for canned apricots, peaches, pears, pineapples and fruit salad, consisting in the main of any one or more of those varieties of canning fruits. The bill seeks to add canned tropical fruit salad and canned pineapple juice to the list of canned fruit products which come within the control of the board.
When submitting the proposal on behalf of, and at the request of, Queensland pineapplecanners the Committee of Direction of Fruit Marketing, a Queensland Statu instrumentality, pointed out that the processing of canned pineapple juice and canned tropical fruit salad, the largest ingredient of which is pineapple, forms an integral part of the operations of canners in Queensland and that an extensive overseas market is being developed for both of these products. Statistics reveal that there has been a. very substantial expansion in both the production and export of those lines in the post-war years, and that the trade continues to develop. Canners consider that it would strengthen the position of the industry if these products could be handled by the board on a similar basis to that adopted in respect of canned apricots, peaches, pears and pineapples over a long period of years. The board has indicated that, in the interests of orderly marketing of canned fruit products generally, it favours their inclusion within its sphere of activity.
The opportunity has been taken in the bill to bring some of the general machinery provisions of the Canned Fruits Export Control Act up to date by making some drafting alterations and also by adjusting an existing anomaly in the act. The act provides for the appointment of a member of the board to represent Statecontrolled canneries engaged in the production of canned fruits other than canned pineapples. For many years the position has been that, with the exception of a very small quantity of apricots, peaches and pears, mostly bought interstate and canned in Brisbane by the Committee of Direction of Fruit Marketing, there is no State-owned or controlled cannery in Australia that processes these varieties of fruits. The section of the act which provides for a representative on the board of State-controlled canneries that process canned fruits, other than canned pineapples, is therefore superfluous, and the bill therefore provides for the repeal of that section. The board will then consist of four members, to comprise a Commonwealth representative, one representative of proprietary and privately owned canneries engaged in the production of canned apricots, peaches and pears, one representative of cooperative canneries engaged in the production of canned apricots, peaches and pears, and one representative of the pineapple canneries. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Allan fraser) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to make provision, in connexion with a scheme for the stabilization of the dairying industry, for the payment of bounties on the production of butter and cheese, and for other pur poses.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
– I move -
That, on and after a date to be fixed by Proclamation -
in lieu of the charge imposed by the Canned Fruits Export Charges Act 1920-1938 on canned fruit salad specified in section two of that Act, a charge be imposed, in accordance with the provisions of that Act, on fanned mixed fruits exported from the Commonwealth, being canned mixed fruits having a fruit content not less than fifty-five per centum of which consists of one or more of the following fruits, namely, apricots, peaches, pears, pineapples and other fruits prescribed by regulations made under that Act, as amended by the Act passed to give effect to this resolution; and
the charge imposed by the Canned Fruits Export Charges Act 1926- 1938 be extended to canned pine apple juice exported from the Commonwealth.
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from the 25th September (vide page 2166), on motion by Mr. Eric j. Harrison -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (vide page 2146).
.- The Customs Tariff amendment now before the committee is a consolidation of previous amendments that were introduced into this House during the present session. The bringing forward of all current amendments into a consolidated document will, of course, facilitate their discussion by the committee. The amendments cover a wide range of goods and are consequent upon - (a) adoption, in broad principle, by the Government of recommendations made by the Tariff Board, after full public inquiry, regarding the level of tariff protection required by various industries; (b) the Government’s 1951-52 budget proposals that affect revenue items in the tariff; (c) concessions accorded by Australia to various countries during the course of the international trade talks held at Torquay during 1950-51 ; and (d) the necessity to define more clearly, for purposes of administration, the intention of existing items.
A memorandum showing the proposed duties, as compared with those at present provided for in the Customs Tariff 1933- 1950, has been circulated to honorable members. From this document honorable members will he able to see at a glance the differences between the proposed amendments and the related provisions in the 1933-1950 Customs Tariff. If further information is required by honorable members with respect to any of the proposed amendments I shall do my best to make it available when the relevant item is under consideration by the committee. The memorandum also furnishes similar information as regards proposed amendments to the Excise Tariff 1921-1950, and also as regards the consequential amendments to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Act 1933-1950 and the Customs Tariff’ (Canadian Preference) Act 1934-1950. These amendments will come up for consideration when the principal customs tariffs amendments have been disposed of by the committee.
– I take it that the committee proposes to deal with the proposals separately?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - That is so.
– In that case the Opposition desires to discuss the first item, which is Customs Tariff Amendment (Wo. 6), of the 25th September. That proposal seeks to give effect to the principles expressed in the 1951-52 budget, which was described by the Treasurer as a “ horror budget “. It was indeed a terrible budget. We have since “been told that the current budget is an “incentive budget”, but that budget is really the same as the horror budget as regards the customs duties to be imposed on the commodities mentioned in the proposals before the committee, and in the next proposal, dealing with excise duties, which will come before us. The Government is continuing, this year, the same customs and excise duties on liquor and tobacco as it imposed last year. Customs Tariff Proposals No. 6 deal with many commodities, and not only with ale, spirits and beverages. They deal also with tobacco and the manufactures thereof, agricultural products and groceries, textiles, felts and furs and the manufactures thereof, attire, metals and machinery, oils, paints and varnishes, earthenware, cement, china, glass and stone, drugs and chemicals, wood, wicker and cane, jewellery and fancy goods, hides, leather and rubber, paper, stationery, vehicles, musical instruments, and miscellaneous items which include many items not dealt with under specific headings. The amount of revenue expected to be derived from customs duties on ale and beer this year is £754,000. I cannot see why Australia should use its sterling balances to purchase such an amount of ale and beer as would produce so much revenue in customs duties. Surely we can make in our own country all the ale and beer that we need, and so not use up valuable overseas funds to purchase such commodities. Similarly, it is estimated that an amount of £115,000 will be collected in customs duties in brandy. I believe that Australian brandy is as good as imported brandy although connoisseurs may disagree with my view. I am not a connoisseur of brandy, but I still think that we should not use our valuable London funds to purchase that commodity when they could be used more wisely to purchase essential capital goods. The amount of revenue we shall obtain from customs duties on brandy does not justify the use of those funds for the purchase of an item that would be listed as consumer goods in more senses than one, and that can be manufactured in this country.
– Think of all the pleasure we get from it.
– I was coming to the pleasure that people get from consuming the next item, whisky. I have no doubt that Scotch whisky holds a pre-eminent position in the world, and I am glad that the British people are able to use it as a dollar-earner, in America. I, for one, should not like to see all Scotch kept out of this country, nor do I suggest that Australian whiskies are as good as Scotch, although some Canadian and Irish whiskies are very good. The Treasury gains little revenue as a result of my consumption of liquor, so I have not a personal interest in having the duties removed. The importation of Scotch whisky stands apart from the importation of other liquors. The customs duties derived from imports of gin amount to £132,000, and from rum to £69,000 a year. I do not know how the Government would go about restricting the importation of a number of these things, when they can be supplied in Australia, but it is a matter to which consideration should be given.
I know that the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Bruce) is interested in Division II. of these proposals - Tobacco and Manufactures thereof - because he represents the biggest tobacco-growing area in Australia. Consideration should be given to the matter of encouraging the use of Australian leaf to a far greater extent than is now being done. I do not consider that we should import so much leaf from the dollar area because, by so doing, we place ourselves at a great disadvantage and harm the Empire dollar pool. The ‘ Government should give serious consideration to insisting that the British-Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited, W. D. and H. O. Wills (Australia) Limited and the other great cartels and combines, which are even as powerful as the oil combines and cartels, use a greater percentage of* Australian leaf than they are using at the present time. Representatives from the
Mareeba-Dimbulah district, in the electorate of Leichhardt, have suggested that Australian tobacco manufacturers should be compelled to meet 10 per cent, of their requirements with Australian leaf. That request seems very modest. I do not smoke; I have never smoked in my life and I am no connoisseur of tobacco; but I! am told that the Australian leaf is as good as the imported leaf. In my opinion, we cannot afford the luxury of using dollars for the purchase of Virginian leaf. If we cannot get within Australia all the leaf that we require, we should approach some of the countries’ in the sterling area for additional supplies. Greece is experiencing difficulty in exporting its tobacco leaf. That is one reason why it is in such an awful financial position, and almost overrun by the Communists. The Government should give serious consideration to the very modest request of Australian tobacco-growers, whether they are in Queensland, Victoria, or any other part of the Commonwealth, that manufacturers of tobacco in Australia should be required to meet 10 per cent, of their requirements with Australian leaf.
Division V. of the proposals relates to textiles, felts and furs and manufactures thereof, and attire. “We have much unemployment in the textile industry, brought about, in part, by the flood of imports which were encouraged last year by the Government. It believed that, by using our overseas balances in London as it did. an anti-inflationary effect would be produced. The more goods we bought for the Australian market, the sooner would costs be reduced. I do not think that the economists who recommended that course to the Government were justified by the events. We got a flood of imports that used up a big proportion of the £596,000,000 of our ‘balances in London, which was expended last year, and to-day Australians are out of work in many parts of the country because the warehouses are flooded with imported textiles, clothing, and even boots and shoes. I am told that almost every mercer in Australia has the equivalent of about three suits of clothes for every customer. If that is so, it will be a long time Before many Australian workers will lie employed in supplying the clothing requirements of our people.
The tariff proposals in relation tometals and machinery also affect Australian manufacturers. Some of the duties are low. Some items are admitted free under the British preferential tariff-
– I desire to seek your guidance, Mr Deputy Chairman, on a matter of procedure. The honorable member for Melbourne is not discussing the tariff proposals item by item, but has spoken on Division I. and Division II. and Division V., and is now beginning to make some remarks about Division VI. I think that we should endeavour to facilitate the debate on these matters, because, obviously, only Division I. is before the Chair at the present time. I suggest to the honorable member for Melbourne that we either consider the schedules as a whole, so that we may indulge in a rambling debate on them, or discuss and then dispose of each division in turn. There has been no opposition from outside to these proposals.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - The honorable member for Melbourne asked, at the beginning of his remarks, whether we would deal with the proposals separately. He was assured that we would, and he is now addressing himself to the various divisions.
– I thought that we were considering Customs Tariff Proposals No. 6. The Opposition does not desire that the proposals be considered division by division. We are prepared to have a debate on the whole schedule. I think that is what the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) means, and I agree with him completely, except in one respect. He suggested that we might indulge in a rambling debate. I consider that he should amend that observation, and say that we should have an intelligent discussion covering the whole of the proposals. I should not like the people of Australia to think that honorable members would ramble in any circumstances. We are quite orderly in our method of procedure, and any contributions which honorable members will make on these matters will be well worth hearing.
– It was only ;after I had been listening to the honorable gentleman’s speech that I made reference to a rambling debate.
– The right honorable gentleman has a guilty conscience. He makes a rambling speech on every subject that he discusses. However, I thank him for his intervention. Now that the position is clear, I shall continue my remarks about the duties, on metals and machinery. Many of the items in Division VI. are admitted free of duty under the British preferential tariff. Very few items are admitted free of duty under the intermediate tariff which gives the favoured nation treatment, or under the general tariff. “Despite the views of the Tariff Board, some of these items could possibly be manufactured in Australia. I believe that the Tariff Board does a good job in maintaining a constant supervision over all our tariff items. At times, it seems to me, the board allowed a number of Australian industries to shelter too long behind the tariff wall to the point at which they become inefficient. Managements take it for granted that the industries concerned do not have to compete with imported goods, and do not keep up to date in their methods of manufacture and the control of their industries, and do not maintain their general efficiency. However, I have a feeling that some tariff items might be increased somewhat in order to encourage Australians to become more self-sufficient.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– As no other honorable member has risen, I shall take my second period now. The remarks that I have’ been making are also applicable to Division VII. - Oils, paints and varnishes. It is strange how Australian industry in this particular line of business has developed since the last war. Big manufacturers, such as British Australian Lead Manufacturers, Lewis Berger and Sons (Australia) Proprietary Limited and Taubmans Proprietary Limited, were established in Sydney before the last war, but big paint works have since been established in Melbourne, and both the Sydney and the Melbourne manufacturers are spreading their operations into each other’s territory. They are also establishing factories in other parts of Australia. I am glad to know, from my reading of various trade journals, that some of these concerns are establishing works in Brisbane and even further north of that city, and in Western Australia. That is all to the good.
Division VIII. relates to earthenware, cement, china, glass and stone. It is true that a number of industries are starting in Australia to make those goods which are so necessary to our well-being as a community. Probably we are not able to manufacture all the wood, wicker and cane goods that we should like to make. However, the revenue that is received from the duties on those goods is not particularly great. Division XII. relates to hides, leather and rubber. We export hides, and it is rather anomalous that we should receive revenue from duties imposed on imported hides and leather. Unfortunately, we are not yet growing rubber in Australia, although we have commenced to do so in New Guinea. As a defence measure, we should encourage, by subsidy, the growing of rubber in the Northern Territory, New Guinea and Papua. When the time comes that we can supply ourselves we may have to increase the duty on rubber imported from Malaya and elsewhere. Anything tha,t can help Australia to get its own industries established should be clone. I do not think that any honorable member on either side of the chamber would disagree with that statement, because the more we develop our industries, the sooner we shall people Australia; and the sooner we people Australia, the easier it will be for us to defend it. The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis) and a number of his colleagues, in company with some Opposition members, were in Darwin recently, and I had the pleasure of meeting them there. When we get nearer the gateway of invasion to this country, we tend to take a. more Australian outlook in regard to our problems than we do when we are in the more settled districts in the south. We lull ourselves into a false sense of security by thinking that, because we are down in the southern parts of Australia well -away from the Tweed River which separates New South Wales and Queensland, the less we have to worry about the danger. The further north we go, the more certain we are of the fate that lies ahead of us unless we develop our industries and populate our country.
I do not desire to say any more about these customs tariff proposals other than to commend the Tariff Board for the work that it continues to do. Whoever devised the idea of having the Tariff Board to save the time of the Parliament, and to give it information so that there would not be those long and untrammelled debates that there used to be on tariff items, deserves a commemoration. Whoever he was, or whoever they were, they did a great service to Australian industry and to the Parliament.
– The honorable gentleman did not claim that whoever devised the idea of the Tariff Board was a member of the Labour party.
– I would not give the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Treloar) the credit for it, because I have never heard him express an original idea. He might indulge us on the subject of socialism but there is nothing original about that.
The Opposition does not like the heavy duties which the Government is imposing in order to raise revenue. The Opposition considers that this is < not the right way in which to raise revenue, because revenue should be raised by placing the burden on the shoulders of those best able to bear it. That is not being done in this case. Those who drink ales, spirits and beverages or smoke tobacco, contribute substantial sums to the revenues of the Commonwealth, and persons like myself, who do not smoke and who rarely drink, escape in considerable part the burden of taxation which is necessary in order that the government of the country may be carried on.
Sitting suspended from 12.^5 to 2.15 p.m.
Mr. ERIC J. HARRISON (WentworthVicePresident of the Executive Council and Minister for Defence Production) remarks made by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) when he was speaking to the first item of this tariff schedule. I am glad that it has been decided by honorable members that the main debate shall take place on the first item, and that the schedule shall bo taken as a whole, .because that procedure will give them an opportunity of expressing themselves without any inhibitions, about all the items set out in the schedule. However, it must be understood that in contra-distinction to the usual debate on tariff items, there can be scarcely any controversy about the present schedule. This schedule has been before honorable members for a period of months, and there have been no representations, as far as I, or any other honorable member is aware, by outside manufacturers or commercial interests to the effect that the schedules are unfair, that the recommendations of the Tariff Board have been unfair or that the customs and excise duties to be imposed are likely to affect our industry adversely.
– Have not the match manufacturing industries protested ?
– Wot that I am aware of. Honorable members are now given an opportunity to consider this matter coldly and. impartially. The honorable member for Melbourne raised the matter of excise on beer. He said that beer can be manufactured in Australia, and that therefore, we should not worry about importing beer. The honorable member has lost sight of the fact that sometimes, as happened last year, there is a shortage of beer in Australia. Last year the duties imposed to protect the Australian brewing interests did bring in a fairly big revenue, but the position is not the same to-day because there is no shortage of beer. I do not want to canvass the proceedings before the royal commission on liquor at present taking place in New South Wales, but it was made clear by the evidence before that tribunal that there was plenty of beer floating around in the community somewhere. However, the fact that we now have, by way of the licensing system, restricted excessive imports of beer, should meet the wishes of the honorable member for Melbourne. Obviously the fact that we aire producing sufficient beer for our own requirements demonstrates quite clearly that we can restrict the importation of beer, although this measure is not so designed, and we are not setting ourselves against any particular article. In answer to the criticism of the honorable member for Melbourne, we may say that we have this matter under control.
The honorable member also mentioned tobacco, and stated that it was necessary for us to encourage the Australian tobacco industry. He then suggested that certain higher percentages of Australian leaf should be used in the tobacco sold in Australia. This Government intends to increase the percentage of Australian leaf used in the manufacture of tobacco. Indeed, the Government is encouraging tobacco-growing in a way as it has not been encouraged by any other government. The Curtin government, in 1942, increased the excise on cigarette tobacco by Ss. per lb. This Government increased it this year by 6s. per lb. Therefore, honorable members will perceive that even in this matter we are not restricting the manufacture of Australian tobacco to the same degree as the Curtin Government did. That is, of course, if imposing excessive excise will result in a restriction of production. I do not want to be controversial about the matter. I merely give that as an example of how the subject can be thrown out of perspective. In common with the Labour party, this Government would like to see a tremendous increase in the production of Australian tobacco. We believe that while the Australian taste has not yet been completely won over for Australian tobacco, as has the American taste for Virginian tobacco, the South African taste for Rhodesian tobacco and the English taste for Virginian and Rhodesian tobacco, in time Australians will prefer their home-grown tobacco. As our production increases we shall certainly develop a taste for Australian tobacco. At Sarina I have seen fine lemon-coloured Australian tobacco leaf sold for a price equal to the highest price paid for similar Virginian tobacco. I suggest that that furnishes a proof that there is a possibility of great development in the tobacco industry of Australia. We shall develop that industry in time, because the ability to do so is only a matter of knowing how to cure tobacco leaf and cultivating the palate of the Australian consumer. Cigarettes are now being manufactured at Mareeba. I remember when Mareeba cigarettes were almost unsmoke-able, because I tried to smoke some of them but could not do so. The cigarette now being produced from Mareeba tobacco is quite smokeable. In fact it is quite good. I think that Mareeba tobacco will become increasingly popular on the Australian market. I have made these observations to indicate that the Government is not trying to restrict production, but is carefully watching the tobacco industry and the tobacco market so that we may be in a position to produce greater quantities of leaf, and to change the preference of the Australian consumer from overseas tobacco to Australian tobacco.
The honorable member for Melbourne has mentioned textiles, and made some general observations about our secondary industries. I was rather worried about his statements because they do not square with other statements of very recent date that I have been made aware of. The general policy of Australian governments is to encourage secondary industry production. We believe that without secondary industry production, Australia will never be able to reach its great destiny. Australia has all the natural advantages of a primary producing country, but there should be a good balance between primary and secondary production. No modern country can hope to succeed, or discharge its obligations to the world, unless there is a good balance between its primary and secondary industries. However, there is a grave danger of over-production of certain lines. I am talking about the production of secondary industries now, as compared with that of primary industries. For example, we have more man-power employed in secondary industries a head of our population than has the United States of America. Such a state of affairs is bad for a country with a relatively small population, like Australia. There should be a balance between primary and secondary industries. Only good could flow from such a balanced production. I shall not generalize too much, but I desire to foe clear in my own mind as to where Labour stands with regard to secondary industry production and the encouragement of secondary industries. This matter has become somewhat confused recently. The honorable member for Melbourne, after he had visited Darwin, said that it became more apparent as one examined the possible points of invasion of this continent that the more we developed our secondary industries the less would we need to worry about the future. I cannot agree with bini more completely. However, the deputy leader of the Labour party in another place has said that the Government should establish secondary industries in far eastern countries.
– He was not speaking tor the Labour party.
– -The gentleman who made the remark that I have mentioned is the deputy leader of the Labour party in another place. He said that we should establish our secondary industries in black labour countries.
– That is not right.
– The gentleman is reported to have said that, and I should like to know where he said it.
– The right honorable member should read Mansard and find out.
– I do not know where he said it, but he is reported to have said that we should encourage Australian industry to move into South east Asia. He advocated the establishment of our secondary industries overseas, and by “ overseas “ ho meant in far eastern countries. Consequently, he meant in black labour countries.
– In coloured labour countries.
– I appreciated the fine point of distinction made by my friend. He advocated the establishment of Australian industry in countries where coloured labour was available. Tt has always been my opinion that the Labour party considered that the standards of the Australian workers should not be broken down by encouraging black labour, because that would interfere with the jobs of Australian workers and des troy their living standards. I could not agree more fully with the principle that I have just stated, because that is the policy of the present Government. The present Government always acts on the principle that it should not try to break down the standards of the Australian workmen, but we find a responsible leader of the Labour party advocating the establishment of Australian industries in countries where coloured labour is available-
– The right honorable gentleman should read Hansard.
– I have read Hansard. We may not quote from Hansard of the current session, but the time will come when I shall be able to read it to honorable members. However, I have read it myself. This statement has already been mentioned outside this House. It was mentioned by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in Melbourne, and the press has reported the speech in which he mentioned it. I have not seen anybody from the Labour party rushing in to contradict it. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers), by way of interjection, said that the gentleman to whom I am referring was not speaking for the Labour party. In saying that, the honorable member for Adelaide obviously accepted the fact that this gentleman said something out of line with the general policy of the Labour party, and to say now that this statement was never made indicates how much reliance the people can place upon the statements of the Labour party. I am not speaking in a spirit of hatred. I am endeavouring to extract some information about the true policy of the Labour party. Does the Labour party stand where it has always stood, that is, for the encouragement of secondary industries in Australia with an increasing standard of living for the white workers in industry-
– And full employment.
– Obviously the employment of coloured labour in those industries, as the honorable senator suggested, would not lead to full employment here. There might be full employment for coloured workers, but Australians would be out of jobs. I want to know where Labour stands. Does it still stand where it has always protossed to stand, or has it now developed some sort, of Blackburn interpretation of its socialistic policy? 1 confess that, nl: the moment, I am not sure of the nature of Labour’s policy.
.- The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) based his criticism of the honorable member for Melbourne (~M.r. Calwell) on certain premises, but he carefully omitted any reference to the most important feature of the remarks made by the honorable gentleman. The honorable member for Melbourne directed attention to the inequity of the Government’s tariff proposals and said, very truly, that they represented a sectional tax, Every honorable member whose thoughts follow logical processes must agree with that criticism. The failure of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to refer to that comment by the honorable member for Melbourne was very significant. Apparently, he was well aware of the force of the argument that was advanced on behalf of the Opposition. The Minister said that the general policy of this Government was to encourage secondary industries. It is all very well to talk hyperbolically about the encouragement of secondary industries, but facts are another matter. The cold, hard facts prove that this Government is not trying to encourage secondary industries. I refer the Vice-President of the Executive Council to Overseas Trade Statistics for June, 1952. I note from that publication that, in 1950-51, manufactured fibres, textiles and materials worth £13S,669,000 were imported into Australia, and that the value of such imports for 1951-52 was £203,607,000. Those facts, among many others, contradict the statement that this Government is encouraging the development of Australian secondary industries. Most honorable members on both sides of the chamber are well aware that this Government has, in fact, discouraged secondary industrial expansion. The increasing unemployment in the textile trade is evidence of the fact. The Vice-President of the Executive
Council spoke in airy, general terms that had little relation to the truth.
The Government’s tariff proposals contemplate the imposition of an unfair tax on one section of the community. Other sections will not be penalized in the same way. I refer specifically to the excise on beer, spirits and tobacco. Every honorable member, I believe, is eager to foster the development of the Australian tobacco-growing industry, but the policy of the Government, as reflected in the tariff proposals, will not encourage that industry. The purpose of the Government is merely to increase revenue at the expense of tobacco smokers. Most adult Australians, and, unfortunately, many juveniles also, smoke tobacco. I do not wish my remarks on this subject to be misunderstood. I am not an advocate of excessive smoking or drinking. In fact, however, the tariff proposals have been designed, not to curb excessive smoking or drinking, but to obtain extra revenue in a most unfair way from the smokers and beer drinkers. How does the excise duty that we are asked to authorize affect the average man in the street who smokes tobacco? A small packet of Ardath cigarettes costs ls. 4$d. The Government receives 9d. in the form of excise duty from the sale of that packet. A large packet of the same well-known brand of cigarettes costs 2s. 9d., of which ls. 5d. goes to the Government. In other words, more than half the price of a packet of cigarettes is accounted for by excise. I cannot imagine a more unfair levy on a section of the community. A small packet of Capstan cigarettes cost ls. lid., of which 7d. goes to the Government. A large packet costs 2s. 3d., and ls. 2d. goes to the Government. Pipe tobacco of well-known brands, such as Capstan. Havelock, Champion and Log Cabin, costs 4s. Id. for a 2-oz. packet. The Government receives either ls. 11-Jd. or 2s. from the sale of each packet. These figures cannot be controverted.
The excise duty on beer was mentioned when the Government’s budget proposals for 1951-52 were under consideration in this chamber, but I make no apology for raising the subject again. The excise on bee>- has increased over the years until it has assumed alarming proportions. It is probably one of the most unfair taxes imposed on any section of the community. I hold no brief for the drunkard or for the breweries, but I object to this imposition. As they say in England, “Beer and baccy are for the working man “. I repeat that the object of the Government is not to curtail the consumption of beer and tobacco, but to increase revenue from such sales. The story of the progressive increase of the excise on beer is remarkable. Prior to World War I., the charge was 3d. a gallon. It was increased during that war to 6d. a gallon, and, after the war, the rate was increased progressively until, during the years of the depression, it ranged between 2s., ls. lOd. and ls. 9d. a gallon. Upon the outbreak of World War’ IE., the charge was increased to 2s. 9d. a gallon. In 1941, it was increased again to 3s. a gallon. Extra revenue had to be obtained in order to meet the inescapable commitments of our war effort, and, therefore, the duty was increased again to 4s. 7d. a gallon. That was a tough charge. The Government now proposes to increase the rate to 7s. 2d. a gallon. Who will bear the cost of the increase? Wot the breweries or the publicans, but the consumers, to whom the additional charge will be passed on by the breweries and the publicans! The consumers represent a considerable section of the community, and they should not be penalised because they like to drink an occasional glass of beer. The average consumption of intoxicants in Australia in 1938 was 12.13 imperial gallons a head of the population. By 1948-49, the rate of consumption had increased to 17.9 gallons a head. Therefore, the new rate of excise will represent a charge of about. £6 a head annually on the entire population. The actual imposition on beer drinkers, of course, will be much greater than that. No other government levy has increased so steeply as has the excise duty on beer. There has been an increase of 1,450 per cent. The incidence of indirect taxation does not affect any other section of the community so unfairly as it affects persons coming within this category. Whereas in 1938-39,. collections of excise duty on beer, ales, and spirits totalled £7,288,579, total collections for the period from 1939-46 amounted to £119,543,611 or, approximately £15,000,000 a year. In the post-war period from 1946-49, total collections amounted to £86,096,738 or, approximately £21,500,000 a year; but since this Government assumed office, total collections under this heading have amounted to £123,744,673, or, approximately £61,500,000 a year.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - The honorable member’s time has expired.
– As no other honorable member has risen, I shall take my second fifteen-minute period. To-day, breweries are to a large degree simply tax collectors for the Government. Last year, Carlton and United Breweries Limited collected for the Government excise duty which totalled £15,050,000, whilst the Ballarat Brewing Company which is a provincial brewery collected, on the average, £1,250,000. These increases of indirect tax are to be borne only by those who, for the most part, like to have a glass of ale now and again. The great majority of Australians do not drink intoxicating liquor to excess. The number of convictions recorded for drunkenness shows that whilst the consumption of intoxicating liquor has not diminished in this country, it has not increased excessively compared with consumption in other countries.
Let us consider the effect of this tax upon the man in the street. A 7-oz. glass of ale is retailed at 9d. Of that amount the brewery receives 1.5d. and the publican 3.4d. whilst the Government collects in excise duty 4&d. Of the retail price of ls. for an 11-oz. glass of ale, the brewery receives 1.4d., and the publican 4.6d. whilst the Government receives 6d. in excise duty. A bottle of ale is retailed at 2s. 4d. Of that amount the brewery receives 9d. and the publican 4.6d., whilst the Government receives 14.3d. in excise duty, or more than 50 per cent, of the retail price. A dozen bottles of beer cost 28s-.. Of that amount the Government collects in excise duty 14s-. 4d. A 9-gallon keg of beer, which is a customary requisite at convivial parties, is sold by the brewery to the publican at- £4 4s. Of that amount, the brewery retains 19s. 6d. whilst the Government collects in excise duty £3 4s. -6d. The Government should seriously consider the incidence of excise duty on beer, ales, and spirits from the general economic point of view. Government supporters have much to say about the need to encourage both secondary and primary industries. I point out that .a substantial proportion of primary produce is used in the brewing of beer and ale and in the manufacture of spiritous liquors. Consequently, an unfair tax of this kind can react detrimentally on primary production. The same observation applies to indirect taxation in respect of spirituous liquors. “Whilst, over the years, the number of persons who drink beer and ale has increased to a moderate- degree, the number who drink spirits nas also increased to a reasonable degree, having regard to the increase in our .population. Under these proposals, it is intended to increase these imposts on the small man. The Australian Labour party speaks on behalf of the small man, who makes up the inarticulate mass of the people. The ballot-box presents the only effective opportunity to such persons to voice their disapproval of this unfair treatment, and I have no doubt that t-hey will do so on the next appropriate occasion. I warn the Government that, in spite of all its shibboleths to the effect that it is watching the economic position closely and that it is privy to the needs of industry, these proposals will react against it. These impositions refute the Government’s claim that its .policy is animated by a spirit of justice.
.- The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) emphasized the importance of the tobacco industry to the Australian economy. No honorable member will deny that the National Government, as well as State governments, should do their utmost to encourage that industry. Tobacco growing originally was a very risky venture. Many people who embarked upon it lost considerable sums of money ranging in individual instances from £500 to, £5,000. Later, the industry in Queensland, owing to the assistance that was given to it by that State Government, was enabled to get on its feet, and to-day it is being run on co-operative principles. The Minister referred to the distribution of inferior cigarettes of Australian manufacture. I point out that those cigarettes were placed on the market by go-getters. I, myself, persuaded the management of the parliamentary bar at Parliament House, Brisbane, to place an order for 1,000 packages of those cigarettes, and as far as I know they still remain unsold. The Minister, in a tone that implied that credit was due to the Government, said that under these proposals the excise duty on tobacco was to be increased .by only 3s. 6d. per lb. That is a serious imposition, having regard to the need to encourage tobacco growing in this country. Indeed, the Government should introduce proposals to reduce the excise duty on Australian tobacco. I know that the Minister will retort that the Government would -require to make good the loss of revenue that would result from such action. As the marketing of tobacco is a two-way traffic, any loss to revenue could be made good by increasing the import duty on tobacco.
I deplore the fact that under these proposals the increase of duty on tobacco imported from any country, even from Japan, is not to be more than that which is to be applied to British tobacco which is blended with 3 per cent, of Australiangrown leaf in the manufacture of cigarettes or pipe tobacco. In view of that fact, the Government cannot claim that it is keenly desirous of encouraging the tobacco industry in this country. If it wished to do so, it would encourage the use of the Australian-grown leaf to a greater degree. Perhaps, honorable members generally are aware of a move that is now being made to import large quantities of Japanese tobacco. I give credit to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) for the fact that up to date he has strictly limited the issue of permits for the importation of Japanese tobacco and cigarettes. However, such permits could, at any time, be issued practically without restriction, with the result that the Australian market would be flooded with the Japanese article. In that event, we should witness the spectacle of the products of a country with which we were so recently at war being marketed in Australia in circumstances that would jeopardize the Australian, tobacco industry. The Minister said that no representations had been made to the Government by any interests that were directly concerned in the manufacture of articles that are covered by these proposals. I point out that a conference was held recently in Canberra, at which a representative of the Australian Government attended, to consider the future of the tobacco industry, and that as a result of that conference a request was made to the Government that it should provide that a greater proportion of Australiangrown leaf should be blended with imported tobacco in order to enable the latter to qualify for a rebate of duty. Such a provision would encourage the production of Australian tobacco. I know that Australia has borrowed dollars and that it must pay them back. We must also pay an excessive rate of interest upon the loan. Dollars are our greatest danger although they are necessary for industry. The tobacco industry is Australia’s greatest potential dollar earner. The Government should encourage the production of tobacco by the imposition of customs duties. Unlimited land is available and the only barrier to production is the lack of preference or at least an even break in competition with tobaccos that are controlled by world monopolies. For some reason those monopolies do not want tobacco to be grown in Australia. The Government could establish the industry on sound lines with the help of adequate customs duties. State governments have given some assistance, and as :i result some tobacco-growers are prosperous and happy and are saving the country dollars. However, I see no real desire on the part of the Australian Government to assist the industry to the extent that it deserves. The best way to assist it. would be to lower the excise duty on Australian tobacco to a minimum. Any loss of excise could be compensated by extra customs collections. I am not entirely happy about the preference that has been given to Australian tobacco.
– I intrude into this debate briefly only to answer the ill-founded, uninformed and exaggerated comments that have been made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) in an attack on Senator Armstrong, who i6 the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. It was apparent that the right honorable gentleman was basing his criticism upon newspaper reports. He even admitted that he had been “ informed “ of the statements that had been attributed to Senator Armstrong in the Senate.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - Order! It is necessary that the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) shall deal with the schedule and relate his arguments to it.
– I was referring to the items in the schedule mentioned by thu Vice-President of the Executive Council. I wish to reply to the criticism that has been levelled at Senator Armstrong by the right honorable gentleman because it is apparent that he had been deliberately misinformed or that he was deliberately misinformed in his own mind so that he might endeavour to gain some advantage for himself and his party. To clarify this matter, I shall read a statement, that was made by Senator Armstrong yesterday following certain criticism that appeared in the Melbourne Herald of the 14th October last.
– I rise to a point of order. Last night, when the House was in session, it was ruled, following an interpretation of the Standing Orders, that I could not read from Hansard as I desired to do with regard to recent proceedings in the Senate. As we are now in committee you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, are not aware of that ruling. I take a point of order and ask whether it is permissible in this committee for the current Hansard report of statements that were made in another place to be read. If it is permissible, I shall take advantage of it also.
– I also rise to order. The Vice-President of the Executive Council is not correct in hi= statement of the events that occurred last night. He was prevented from speaking only by the expiry of his time.
– Mr. Speaker gave a ruling.
– The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) has not said that he proposes to quote from a statement that was made in the Senate. He said that he would quote from a statement that was made by Senator Armstrong, who is Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) is correct. It does not matter what happened in the House last night. We are concerned with what happens in the committee to-day.
– I propose to submit a statement that was made by Senator Armstrong on the 15th October regarding an article that appeared in the Melbourne Herald on the 14th October, 1952, upon which some of the criticism of the VicePresident of the Executive Council was based. Senator Armstrong said -
I should like to take this opportunity to place on record my denial of a report which appeared in the Melbourne Herald yesterday, Tuesday, the 14th October, 1952. The Herald stated that in a speech which was made by me in the Senate some weeks ago, I advocated the transfer of Australian industries to Singapore and to other places in the East in order to get the advantage of cheap coloured labour. At no time did I intend that construction to be placed on what I said, and at no time did I say that. I did suggest that we should encourage Australian industry to move into South-East Asia, but later on in my remarks, I suggested that we encourage every Australian industry that could possibly do so, to establish branches in South-East Asia. In advocating that course, I followed exactly in the footsteps of our late Prime Minister and Treasurer, Mr. Chifley. Mr. Chifley gave tangible help to Australian industries which wished to expand into these areas. His help has been publicly acknowledged by industrial leaders in this country. To suggest, as some would, that I advocated the closing down of Australian factories, and their re-opening outside Australia, is a complete and utter falsehood. I, with my party, have advocated and fought for the expansion of Australian primary and secondary industries, so that high standards and full employment would be part of our normal way of life. But, if Australia is to play its part in the Pacific, one of the most important ways that it can do so, is by expanding and developing our industries in Asia. Mr. Chifley has said, and I say now, that the most tangible expression of the desires that were written into the Colombo plan would be the establishment of branches of our industries in those countries which sorely need our help. The leaders of those nations have pleaded with the great industrial countries of the world to come into their countries and play their part in helping to industrialize them and so lift their standards … I am only repeating what I said previously in my speech to the Senate. I was going to say that the strongest bulwark against communism in Asia would be the action of anti-Communist nations such as Australia in helping Asiatic countries to build up their standards so that they can mount their own fight against communism. I thank the Senate for its indulgence.
The statement ends there and I believe that it is a fitting and proper answer to the ill-informed and unfounded criticism that has been directed against Senator Armstrong.
Question put -
That the motion (vide page 2146) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr. G. J. Bowden.)
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Eric J. Harrison and Sir Earle Page do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Eric J. Harrison, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) proposed -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose the passage of this measure. In the Committee of Ways and Means, we opposed the imposition of certain duties. We believe in protection. We are the proponents of the policy of protection. We believe that Australian industries should be protected. But we do not believe that customs duties should be used inordinately for the purpose of raising revenue. We agree with the recommendations of the Tariff Board, because, unlike this Government, we believe in lull employment.
– in reply - I am pleased that the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has considered it necessary to explain the attitude that was adopted by the members of the Opposition during the last division.
– Order ! No division has taken place while I have been in the Chair.
– The honorable member for Melbourne referred to the division that took place in the Committee of Ways and Means. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I ask you to pardon me if I make a passing reference to it.
– I rise to order. I made no reference to a division at all.
– I suggest that the honorable gentleman refresh his memory upon the matter by studying the Hansard report of his speech later. It was fitting that he should explain why the members of the Opposition voted as they did. The tariff schedules are designed to achieve a certain objective, and this bill has been introduced to give effect to them. The proposals of the Government are based almost entirely upon recommendations of the Tariff Board. We have been pleased to accept those recommendations, because they are designed to preserve the structure of Australian secondary industries. The members of the Labour party have tried to destroy the recommendations. That action is in keeping with their avowed intention to establish Australian secondary industries in coloured labour countries. They believe that, if they can destroy secondary industries in this country by preventing the Government from giving effect to recommendations of the Tariff Board, which are designed to protect those industries, they will be able, more easily, to establish Australian secondary industries in coloured labour countries overseas. That course of action has been advocated by the Deputy Leader of the Labour party in the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- If the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) had not uttered a farago of nonsense, I should not have risen again. I stated the historic position of the Labour party in regard to our secondary industries. But for the Labour party, there would be no secondary industries in this country, and Australia would be run by the advocates of free trade who controlled New South Wales and some other colonies before federation. The Labour party believes in the maintenance of Australian secondary industries. It believes in the expansion of those industries, because it believes in a policy of full employment. It does not believe in this Government prostituting the tariff laws for the purpose of raising revenue. Tariffs were imposed originally to protect Australian industry against unfair competition by the cheap labour countries that surrounded it. When I finished my brief speech on the motion for the second reading of this measure, I thought the Vice-President of the Executive Council would have said, in his benign manner, that what I had said was historically correct. But, instead, he took a swipe, if I may use a colloquialism and descend to the vernacular that is understood by members of the Liberal party-
– I rise to order. Will you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, ask the honorable member for Melbourne to specify the clause with which he is dealing? I know that the bill has been taken as a whole, but the honorable gentleman must relate his remarks to some clause.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- As the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) knows, the committee agreed to discuss the bill as a whole. The honorable member for Melbourne is replying to the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– I have not made any observations in committee.
– In this case, another Daniel has come to judgment. I was saying, when I was rudely interrupted, that the Labour party knows its position. At least, it has a philosophy, although people may disagree with it. We want to protect Australian industries. It is idle for the Vice-President of the Executive Council-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN”. - Order ! The honorable member may not refer to something that was said by the VicePresident of the Executive Council prior to the reaching of the committee stage of the bill.
– It is idle for the Minister ‘ to think as he is thinking: I can read his thoughts. I know that he believes he will gain some advantage in the Flinders byelection, in which we are all vitally interested, by attacking the very distinguished Deputy Leader of the Labour party in the Senate. That honorable senator is a man of great distinction. He will fill, in the future, as he has done in the past, a high place in the govern mental life of this country. If I may digress for a moment, I remind the committee that he was appointed Minister in charge of the Royal tour of this country that was postponed. Therefore, he must’ be a man of ability and judgment. But the Vice-President of the Executive Council has attempted to depict him as a completely irresponsible person who wants to supplant-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! I remind the honorable member for Melbourne that he is the first speaker in committee on this bill.
– I am using my telepathic qualities and my powers of divination. I am mind-reading. I am psychoanalysing the Vice-President of the Executive Council. All that I want to say is that the Deputy Leader of the Labour party in the Senate would not destroy one Australian industry. He has helped to build Australian industries. It is idle for my right honorable friend to indulge in misrepresentation of this kind, in the hope that he will secure some advantage in the Flinders by-election. What any one of us says does not matter. The people of Flinders have made up their minds. On Saturday there will be a Labour victory.
– Mr. Deputy Chairman-
– Do not close the debate.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Does the Vice-President of the Executive Council intend to close the debate?
– No, 1 am speaking to a clause.
– Of course he is closing the debate.
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) seems to be so anxious that I shall have no opportunity to answer his remarks that he seeks to ignore the lessons he must have learned as a result of his long experience in this chamber. He has insisted that I shall close the debate by speaking now. That is not the case. The honorable member, in trying to chastise me in respect of something that I had not said in committee, said that he was doing a bit of crystal-gazing. That is not an uncommon thing for him to do. He is continually crystal-gazing, but, unfortunately, he does not interpret correctly what he sees in the crystal. What I said was that Senator Armstrong-
The DEPUTY. CHAIRMAN. - When did the right honorable gentleman make the statement?
– What 1 am saying is, that Senator Armstrong, who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place, said -
I suggest that we should establish outside of Australia a branch of every possible business undertaking that is operating here, and use Australian brains and “ know-how “ overseas in order to build up our economic strength.
He also said -
The only way in which we can obtain value for the products of our secondary industries is to manufacture them overseas.
An honorable member said, on another occasion, that Senator Armstrong, in making that statement, was not speaking with the voice of Labour. Of course, members of the Labour party know that they are in a cleft stick in relation to this matter, because their Deputy Leader in the Senate has said, in effect, “ Take Australian industries and establish them in coloured labour countries “. That is what his statement meant. He also said, in effect, that the only way in which to compete with cheap labour was to put Australian labour out of employment and give employment to coloured labour. To further emphasize my contention regarding Labour’s attitude on this matter, it is only necessary to say that when the proposed amendments to the tariff schedule, in relation to which the Tariff Board had made a number of recommendations designed to protect’ our secondary industries, were before the Committee of Ways and Means to-day, honorable members opposite called for a division in order to vote against them. That was an attempt to destroy the protection that the Tariff Board intended to give to our secondary industries. They hoped thereby to achieve the second stage of Labour’s objective, which has been set out by Senator Armstrong, in relation to the establishment of Australian secondary industries in Asiatic countries. Senator Armstrong made that statement and then the honorable member for Melbourne, who is his vis-a-vis in this chamber, instructed his followers to vote against the amendments to the tariff schedule, which give effect to the recommendations of the Tariff Board, and he divided the committee on it. Is it not perfectly clear that Australia’s secondary industries could be destroyed by the refusal of tariff protection against the provision of which honorable members opposite voted? The division list will show that every honorable member opposite voted against the adoption of the amendments. Having destroyed our secondary industries in Australia, the plan is, according to Senator Armstrong, to establish them in coloured labour countries in South-East Asia, with the result that coloured workers would be put into employment whilst Australian workers would be put out of employment, and the standards of Australian workers would be destroyed whilst the standards of coloured workers would be improved. If that is not what the Labour party means then its members should go into a huddle and finally decide where they actually stand.
– I have never heard so much hypocrisy as has been uttered by the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) about an alleged statement that he read to the effect that the Labour party wants to establish Australian industries in Asiatic countries.
– I was reading the statement from Hansard.
– The people whom the Vice-President of the Executive Council represents in this chamber have exploited coloured labour for centuries, and now he contends that the Labour party wants to do the same thing. For him to enter this chamber and make such a statement is merely to drag across the trail a herring that he hopes will be of advantage to him in another place. Because of the incapacity of this Government to keep price levels in this country on a decent basis inside the sterling bloc, the condition has been reached that there is no sale for our surplus secondary products in the countries immediately adjacent to us, and if it means that in the future-
– Be careful !
– Yes. I shall be careful. If we are to produce in this country in the future a vast volume of materials that could be used in Asiatic countries, but cannot be absorbed by them because they have not the necessary national leadership in respect of industry, why should we not give that national leadership to them and so assist Australian industry?
Honorable members interjecting.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! There must be silence in the chamber, or I shall have to take action to ensure it.
– Why should we not provide the necessary national leadership in those countries and so assist our own industries and keep full employment going in this country, in spite of the herring which is being dragged across this chamber to-day? The right honorable gentleman knows that his remarks are a complete fabrication and an injustice.
– The honorable member made similar remarks himself.
– I did not. All I am advancing is that the honorable gentlemen on the other side of the chamber represent the financial institutions in this country, and in every British community, that have exploited coloured labour right down through the centuries.
– That is absurd.
– My statement is not absurd, but it is a national fact, and because of that, and because of something that happened in another place an attempt is being made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council to throw a smokescreen of smear-
– That is a greasy one.
– Yes, it is a greasy one, but it is capable of being handled by the Vice-President of the
Executive Council. There is nothing so greasy that it cannot be handled by honorable members opposite, particularly when it comes to making profits, irrespective of the bloodshed or other results that may arise in the process. We have a responsible Minister advancing an argument that is based on an inference that he has drawn from a statement to which he is not entitled to refer, in any event-
– That is a reflection on the Chair.
– The Chair gave a ruling last night on this matter, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council knows it. Let us get down to the facts of the matter. We have heard a great deal in this chamber about what the Government is going to do to put value back into the £1. In point of fact it is as a result of this Government’s policy in relation to prices that our opportunity to retain eastern markets lias been completely destroyed. Is it likely that the Australian business community will stand idly by and watch Japan and other eastern countries pouring cheap goods into this country, or will they try to lead the eastern nations into proper methods of production? If is a question of trying to educate industry in the near eastern countries so that they can at least take their place in combating forms of Japanese production. Let the Vice-President of the ExecutiveCouncil analyse the position carefully and decide whether he will be on the side of those who would educate the people in the Asiatic countries adjacent to us, or whether he will be on the side of the Japanese. We know where he stands. He stands on the side of the Japanese. Ever since this Government took office it has stood on the side of the Japanese in respect of every move that has been made. When it comes to a question of whether or not the Labour party stands for the proper education of near-Asiatic countries, in order to fit them to compete in a proper way with other business communities of the East, the answer is “clear. We. should not condemn the businessmen of this country if they are prepared to take a risk. That, however, is what the right honorable gentleman is doing. It is not a question of labour, but a question of whether the Australian business community is prepared to buy a stake in Asiatic countries and skim off the surplus Australian production that cannot be sold in this country as a consequence of the incompetence of this Government. Let the right honorable gentleman give the businessmen of this country an opportunity to do that, if they wish so to do it. Instead of making play with a statement of fact that will bear thorough examination by any realist. Let honorable members opposite get on the side of businessmen of this country who may he prepared to do something in relation to assisting other countries to combat Japanese production methods, which aim at filching the trade of this country and other countries.
and the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), do protest too much, methinks.
.- It appears to me that the Government is in a desperate position, and that it is grasping at straws in an effort to save its waning fortunes. It is about time that the policy of the Labour party on this particular matter was emphasized. I think I know as much about Labour policy and its background as does any other member of the Labour movement, because I have been a member of the Labour movement for many years. I should say that the Labour party is vehemently opposed to the investment of Australian capital in any Asiatic or other -?heap labour country for the purpose of allowing Australian capitalists to exploit cheap labour. That is an entirely different matter from that which honorable gentlemen opposite allege to be the Labour party’s policy. The Labour party follows no other policy than the one I have mentioned. As a matter of fact, I am as much opposed to Australian imperialism as to any other form of imperialism, and so is the Labour party. Such imperialism is the policy supported by the parties opposite, which are now trying to pin their own policy on to the Labour party. Was it not an anti-Labour government that introduced cheap kanaka labour into Australia in order to exploit it? Was it not the Labour party-
– I rise to order. Would you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, ascertain from the honorable member to which clause he is speaking? I consider that when a bill, as a whole, is being discussed in committee, it has always been the rule that an honorable member in speaking to it must refer to some clause of it and not make a second-reading speech. 1 submit that the honorable member is not directing his remarks to a clause.
– I also rise to order. L wish to know, Mr. Deputy Chairman, before you give your ruling, whether it is not competent for a member of the Opposition to reply to definite statements that were made by the Minister in charge of the chamber without having elicited a protest from you. You permitted the Minister to make a certain statement earlier in the debate.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN”.- Order ! The point of order taken by the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) is not upheld. For the purposes of clarity, I shall state the position. This debate began on the bill as a whole, but it i3 resolving itself into a discussion of a matter quite outside the tariff proposals. Ways and means were suggested to obviate the need to import certain goods by stimulating Australian industries to produce them. That matter is under discussion at the present time.
– It was an anti-Labour government which introduced black kanaka labour into Australia for the purpose of exploitation. It was the Australian Labour party that ended that kind of thing by evolving its immigration policy, which provided for the exclusion of cheap labour and the protection of Australian standards of industry and of life. Any person who listened to the VicePresident of the Executive Council could be excused for believing that this Government was opposed to such a policy. What are the industries which have been established in the East and are exploiting unfortunate native labourers? The Hume Pipe Company (Australia)
Limited, of which ex-Senator A. J. McLachlan, a former Minister in an anti-Labour government, is a leading executive, has established itself in the East and is exploiting cheap coloured labour there. Australian Consolidated Industries Limited, of which Mr. “ Knockout “ Smith is the principal executive, is also established in the East. Mr. Smith is a member of the Liberal party, and subscribes liberally to its funds. Those people have been encouraged by the antiLabour Government, the Liberal party and the Australian Country party to establish and expand their activities in the East. The logical conclusion to such a policy is one of the reasons why I am violently opposed to such a procedure. The logical conclusion is that if the Australian capital invested in those countries to exploit Chinese and other cheap coolie labour becomes endangered, honorable members opposite will want the lives of Australian workers to be sacrificed in order to suppress what are ordinarily nationalist movements. Government members put the brand of communism on such movements, and then want the Australian workers to defend the investments made by their own political supporters in those countries.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member’s remarks are a little wide of the bill.
M’r. WART). - The argument I am developing is that this Government is aiming at a policy of exploiting cheap labour, whereas the Australian Labour party stands for the strengthening and protection of Australian industry and Australian standards in industry. In spite of the efforts of the VicePresident of the Executive Council to extricate the Government from the predicament in which it finds itself, 1 say quite definitely, and I challenge contradiction, that the Australian Labour party stands for only one policy in these matters. The Australian Labour party believes that, if by co-operation, we can assist the people of those countries to establish and expand their own industries and improve their standards of living, wo should do so. The greatest threat to Australian industrial and living standards arises from the fact that we are surrounded by millions of people who are living on a very low standard, and who, necessarily, become a threat to the higher standards prevailing in this country. But we do not stand for the investment of Australian capital in those countries, or for the exploitation by Australian capitalists and supporters of this Government of the cheap labour in those countries. We want, by co-operation, to help the people of those countries to strengthen their own industries, and to improve their own standards. We believe that any investment of Australian capital in industry should take place in our own country in order to build up our own industries and provide employment for our own people.
That is the policy of the Labour party. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council desires to contest that policy on the ground that it is not in the interests of Australia, let him say so. But we certainly will not remain silent and allow him to try to pin on to the Labour party a policy which is really the policy of this Government - a policy of exploiting cheap coolie labour in the interests of its own capitalist supporters. Therefore, this campaign of distortion must be answered by the Labour party. We must state definitely, as I am doing now, what our party is and what we stand for. There is no equivocation. We are not backing and filling. We believe in developing Australian industries and we are opposed to the exploitation of cheap labour.
– Mr. Deputy Chairman-
– The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Treloar) desires to speak. Why does not the right honorable gentleman allow a member of the Australian Country party to express his views ?
– I can understand perfectly well this attempt by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, to prevent me from answering the charges made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). Members of the Australian
Country party will have an opportunity to express their views later. I have risen to point out that the honorable member for East Sydney, who is also a member of the executive of the Parliamentary Labour party, is definitely challenging the Deputy Leader of the Labour party in the Senate. The honorable member has said, in effect, “ I know just as much about the policy of the Labour party with regard to secondary industries and exploitation as he does, and I claim that the policy which the Government says the Labour party follows is, in fact, the policy that the Government follows “. The honorable member referred to. the Hume Pipe Company (Australia) Limited and Australian Consolidated Industries Limited, which have established branches in the East, and claimed that they were exploiting coloured people. The Deputy Leader of the Labour party in the Senate said -
I have had the pleasure to see in Singapore-
– I rise to order. I believe that the Vice-President of the Executive Council is quoting an extract from Hansard from the current session. I submit that, if he is doing so, he is not in order.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. Order! The Chair has no knowledge of whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council is quoting from Hansard in the current session.
– Like the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), I am quoting from the report of a personal explanation made in the Senate. I know that this statement was made in that chamber. It can be checked by any honorable member who desires to peruse the report. I do not know whether it was said in the Senate.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! The right honorable gentleman will not be in order in quoting from Hansard in the current session.
– I rise to order. May I explain that I was quoting from a typewritten extract of a speech made in the Senate? The Vice-President of the Executive Council is, no doubt, quoting direct from Hansard.
– The Deputy Leader of the Labour party in the Senate said -
I have had the pleasure to see in Singapore two outstanding Australian industries developing wealth for this country. The first is the great Australian Consolidated Industries Limited, which has established glassmaking plants in Singapore and which employs nearly 1,000 people there . . The other firm is the Hume Pipe Company ( Australia ) Limited. Honorable senators may remember that for some years Mr. A. J. McLachlan, who is the head of that firm, led the Government in the Senate. This is a tremendous business in Singapore. I suggest that we should establish outside of Australia a branch of every possible business undertaking that is operating here, and use Australian brains and “ know-how “ overseas in order to build up our economic strength.
The honorable member for East Sydney, who is an ordinary member of the Labour party in this chamber, has challenged the observations made by the Deputy Leader of the Labour party in the Senate in a speech on behalf of the Labour party. Although the Deputy Leader of the Labour party in this chamber is sitting at the table, the honorable member for East Sydney assumes his mantle, and says, in effect, “ I speak for the Labour party. This is the Labour party’s policy “. Any disagreement between the honorable member for East Sydney and his deputy leader should not be ventilated here. This chamber is not the place in which he should vent his spleen against his deputy leader. He should reserve his criticism of the honorable member for Melbourne until he is in the party room. There is no need for him to come into this chamber and, by subterfuge, tear his deputy leader apart, because that is precisely what he has done. There may be great schisms in the Labour party, because its supporters cannot make up their minds where they stand.
The Deputy Leader of the Labour party in the Senate has urged that we should establish in the East a branch of every possible business undertaking that is operating here. The implication of his remarks is that industries in Australia should be destroyed, and re-established in the East, and that coolie labour should be employed in them. The ultimate result would be that Australian workers would be out of employment. The honorable member for East Sydney, knowing full well that such a policy would not he acceptable to Australian workers and that the advocacy of it would mean the destruction of the Labour party, decided to make his position clear in this chamber. He was not game enough to raise the matter in the party room. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) put himself completely “onside “ with the Deputy Leader of the Labour party in the Senate, and supported his views. The honorable member for East Sydney was not game enough to bring up the matter in the party room, and decided to vent his spleen in this chamber. He has made this chamber a forum for an argument that should have been conducted in the party room. 3 suggest to the Deputy Leader of the Labour party in this el amber that it is time he had a look at his supporters and rallied his cohorts. Perhaps this difference of opinion has been revealed because the Leader of the Labour party (Dr. Evatt) is out of the chamber, and, consequently, some honorable gentlemen opposite have run amuck. Surely the honorable member for Melbourne can control his supporters. It is a sorry state of affairs when members of the Labour party vent their spleen on one another in this chamber. I shall be interested to hear other members of the Labour party declare where they stand on this issue. The honorable member for East Sydney has usurped the powers of the Deputy Leader of the Labour party in this chamber in saying, in effect, “ I speak for the Australian Labour party and in denouncing a statement by the Deputy Leader of the Labour party in the Senate, which was supported by the honorable member for Blaxland. I wish that Opposition members would make up their minds where they stand. Does the honorable member for East Sydney interpret the policy of the Labour party? That role used to be undertaken by a former member for Bourke, the late Mr. Blackburn. Opposition members, if they look at the last division list, will realize that they have made a sorry mistake, because they have attempted to destroy the protection that the Tariff Board has recommended for Australian industry.
.- I must disagree strongly with the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) when he refers to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) as just an ordinary member of the Australian Labour party. From the demonstrations that we have seen here for some months, it should be evident to every one that the honorable member for East Sydney is the de facto leader of the Opposition in this chamber.
– I apologize to the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Treloar), and accept his correction.
– This morning the honorable member for East Sydney took the direction of the Labour party out of the hands of the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and demanded a division, which placed the Labour party in the position of voting against recommendations of the Tariff Board. We have seen the honorable member for East Sydney intervene repeatedly, even when the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has been in the chamber. I am sure that the honorable member for East Sydney is the de facto leader of the Australian. Labour party. He is trying to pull it out of the mess in which it finds itself. He tells us that it is not the policy of the Australian Labour party to exploit cheap coolie labour in the East, and he claims that we should not establish branches of Australian industry in those countries. Opposition members on other occasions have lamented the fact that Australia is short of capital, yet the Deputy Leader of the Labour party in the Senate has advocated the flight of capital from Australia to the East. That is the position. I do not wish to delay the proceedings, but I think that we all should realize that the honorable member for East Sydney is the de facto leader of the Opposition.
Mr. CHAMBERS (Adelaide) J4.0].- ‘ I would have taken no part in this debate except for certain exhibitionist tactics indulged in by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison). The Labour party stands for the White Australia policy, for full employment, and for the continuous expansion of our secondary industries. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has just left this chamber after giving honorable members another exhibition of his Bland Holt tactics. He has shown quite clearly once again that he is not sincere and that his actions, like those of an actor, are always designed to have a dramatic effect. Yesterday he entered the House with a copy of a report from Hansard. He produced a newspaper called the Century-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The honorable member is now referring to events that took place in the House. Those events cannot be referred to in this committee.
– On other occasions the Vice-President of the Executive Council would not even read the Century. but yesterday he referred to it to bolster up his arguments. To-day he again referred to something that he had read in the Century. Anything that assists his exhibitionism is suitable for him to use. There is no doubt where the Labour party stands on full employment, the White Australia policy and the expansion of secondary industries. The right honorable gentleman asked why the Labour party did not put its house in order, but in view of what happened yesterday it is pertinent for the Labour party to ask why the Government does not put its own house in order. Yesterday a member of one of the Government parties stood in this chamber and said that he would not support the Government on a measure that was then being dealt with. One of the senior members of the Government called him a cheer-chaser. That indicates the good feeling existing between honorable members on the Government side at present. I assure the Vice-President of the Executive Council that everything is in order in our house, and everything has been so much in order since 1951 that the Government has been gradually crumbling to destruction. Another blow will be struck against it next Saturday when the people of Flinders will indicate in no uncertain manner their opinion of the Government.
– I rise to order. 1 understand that the committee is discussing certain duties embodied in the measure before it. I have carefully perused this measure and I can see no reference in it to the duties of the electors of Flinders. I suggest that the honorable member is not in order in introducing that, matter.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! The point of order is well taken. The matter referred to cannot be mentioned in this debate.
– I shall not again refer to that matter, because the committee is well aware of the nature of the charges made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. At all times he adopts a dishonest attitude in handling matters in committee. The Labour party is a consolidated political Opposition, and it stands for full employment, the White Australia policy and the continuous development of secondary industries.
.- The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) said that the Labour party is in favour of full employment. That ha? been said by the Labour party for years, but the Labour party does not explain the use of full employment without full production. Of what use is it to reduce the speed of all the workers in Australia to the speed of the slowest workers?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN . - Order ! The honorable member is straying from the contents of the measure.
– The only way in which we can successfully have full employment is by having full production. Full production brings full employment in its train, and without full production full employment can last only for a certain time without breaking down and causing chaos in the community. The honorable member for Adelaide advocates full employment irrespective of anything else. With the exception of its term of office during the last war, Labour has never been able to hold office in this country for more than two years at a time because its policies and methods of government are unworkable. This measure deals with tariffs, and if any government desires to have full employment it must protect the. manufacturing industries of this country. I was amazed to see honorable members opposite follow the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) in voting against the motion for the second reading of this measure, which is designed to create employment in Australia. The honorable member for East Sydney said that he knew more about Labour policy than anybody else in Australia.
– No, he said that he knew as much about it as anybody else.
– As it is impossible for any two persons to have the same amount of knowledge about any subject, the honorable member for East Sydney must consider that he knows more about Labour policy than anybody else. I suggest that he should know more about it because he has framed a lot of it, and some other honorable members opposite are not so proud of what he has done.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The matter about which the honorable member is speaking has no connexion with the bill.
– Very well. I support the tariff schedule incorporated in this bill because I believe that it is in the best interests of Australia and will assist our economy.
– I desire to refer briefly to some of the remarks made by honorable members on the Government side. I agree with the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) that the Labour party’s policy is that full employment and the highest living standards should be maintained. The Labour party has always believed in those essentials. I now desire to draw attention to some startling information that I received to-day from the office of the Commonwealth Statistician.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! I cannot allow that information to be used. Any information used during this debate must relate to the bill. I have allowed a fair amount of lattitude to-day. Charges have been made and effectively answered. Sufficient has been said by both sides, and I believe that honorable members should now get back to the subject-matter of the measure.
– The last speaker-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The honorable member cannot deal with statistics.
– If I am to be prevented from putting before the committee this startling information which disproves statements made last night by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), then I shall resume my seat.
.- The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) did not make a charge against anybody. He pointed out a simple statement of fact. He drew attention to a statement made by a member of the Labour party, but that is no reason why he should be violently and personally attacked in the way that the Opposition has attacked him to-day. As for effectively answering the charge, there is no effective answer to the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and honorable members opposite merely resent having that fact pointed out to them. The truth is that they are consistently dragged from one side of this chamber to the other at the heels of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), or whoever happens to be the most violent and outspoken member of their party at the particular time. The Opposition cannot blame the Government for drawing attention to statements by one of the Labour party’s own members. Honorable members opposite have made perfect fools of themselves to-day through lack of discipline, and nothing that they have said will alter what the Vice-President of the Executive Council said about them.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from the 25th September (vide page 2166), on motion by Mr. Eric J. Harrison -
That the schedule to the Excise Tariff * . . (vide* page 2163).
– The excise tariff proposals are complementary to the customs tariff proposals, which I have already explained to honorable members. Therefore, it is not necessary for me to explain them, and I shall not waste the time of the committee by discussing them at length.
.- The Opposition offers the same objection to the excise tariff proposals as it did to the customs tariff proposals. The tariff should not be used merely for the purpose of raising revenue. The Government proposes to persist with the tariff plan that it embodied in the 1951-52 horror budget, to use the descriptive terminology of the author of that budget, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden). The proposals of the horror budget have been carried forward into the so-called incentive budget programme’ for 1952-53. There is to be no diminution of the excise duty, and the proposal now before the committee is that the tariff rates fixed last year be continued for another year. The resolution refers to excise duties on beer, brandy, whisky, rum, gin, liqueurs, tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes manufactured in Australia. The Opposition objects to the imposition of duties merely for the sake of raising revenue.
The history of the excise on beer over the years is very interesting. Prior to World War I., the duty was 3d. a gallon. Three months after that war started, the rate was doubled. Immediately after the end of that war, it was increased to 7d. a gallon, and, before the end of 1918, it was raised further to ls. In 1920, the rate rose to ls. 3d., and six months later it rose again to ls. 9d. The ill-fated Bruce-Page Government increased it to 2s. in 1929. By the end of that year, the Scullin Government reduced it to ls. lOd. In July, 1930, it was restored to 2s.
– By the Scullin Government !
– Yes. In October, 1933, when the Lyons Government, of unhappy memory, was giving great handouts to its friends, the wealthy graziers and the big city land-owners, by granting remissions of land tax, the excise duty on beer was reduced to ls. 9d. a gallon. In 1939, when the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison), the “ ex honorable member for Mayfair “, was Minister for Trade and Customs, the rate was restored to 2s. a gallon. In 1940, after wo had been twelve months at war, it was raised to 2s. 9d. a gallon. In 1941, when we were seriously at war, it was further increased to 3s. In 1942, after the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway, when the Guadalcanal campaign was being fought, and on the eve of the invasion of Okinawa and the other battles that determined the fate of the Pacific, the Curtin Labour Government increased the rate to 4s. 7d. a. gallon, at which level it remained until this ineffable Government was returned to power.
On the 26th September, 1951, the Government raised the rate to 7s. 2d. a gallon. There was no war in progress then to justify such a severe increase, unless it was a war in the Cabinet room between the Liberal party and the Australian Country party over the revaluation of the £1, or some such matter. Who pays the excise duty on beer ? Only the beer drinkers ! The people who do not drink beer are untouched by this tax. Thus, it is a selective sectional tax. The same criticism applies to the excise on whisky and other spirits. The revenue has benefited considerably from the raising of excise duties on liquor. In 1938-39, to go no further back than the eve of World War II., excise collections from this source totalled £7,288,579. During the period of the war, the total increased to £22,519,000, but the population was increasing then. After the war, when the ‘Chifley Government left office involuntarily, as this Government will do in the next year or so, though without the knowledge that the Labour party had that it would be returned to power, excise collections increased to £33,400,000. During 1951-52, when the present excessive duties were levied, the Government collected £53,000,000. The difference was a mere £20,000,000 ! Perhaps £1,000,000 here or there is of little significance in these days of the debased Menzies currency.
– That was after the Government had promised to reduce taxation.
– Yes, this is the Government that promised to reduce all forms of indirect taxation. Yet it increased the excise duty on beer and spirits by at least 40 per cent, in 1951-52. Now, of course, the fi is losing its value rapidly. It will suffer a further depreciation when the next cost of living adjustment is announced at 3 o’clock to-morrow afternoon, and more and more taxation will be exacted from the people.
The Government seems to thrive on inflation. It condemns inflation, but, as the value of the currency falls, it collects more and more money from those taxpayers who believe that they are entitled to drink beer or whisky if they want to do so. Therefore, we oppose this tariff proposal and will vote against it. A man who goes into any hotel in any capital city of Australia to-day and buys an 11-oz. glass of beer, is charged ls., of which 5$d. goes to the Treasury. If he buys a 7-oz. glass of beer he is charged 9d., of which 3 3/4d. goes to the Treasury. The small 4-oz. glass of beer costs 5d., of which 2,lid. goes to the Treasury. When a customer buys a bottle of beer for 2s. 4d., the Treasury takes ls. 2-H. of that amount. The Government is extremely misguided if it thinks that the raising of revenues in this way is good business. The only fair canon of taxation is that those who have the money should pay the taxes. This Government taxes a man who buys a bottle of beer 50 per cent, of the price that he pays for it merely in order that the revenue may benefit. That is a ridiculous form of finance. Any government that imposes heavy excise duties upon liquor and other commodities has a vested interest in the increased sales of those commodities. It appears almost as though the Government wants the nation to drink more beer, whisky and brandy so that its income will be increased.
– One Minister said that during World War II.
– Ex-Senator Foll urged the people to drink more beer.
– That is true. I could not hope to repeat all the irresponsible statements of that kind that were made by anti-Labour Ministers during the war. The higher the excise duty, the more beer the Government wants the people to drink. It does not believe, as we democrats do, that those who have the money ought to pay the taxes and that those who are not wealthy should not be asked to make more than a fair contribution to the cost of governing the nation.
– The honorable member would impose a tax on success.
– No doubt the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Treloar), who talks constantly about communism and hates the Labour party as though it were the beast that is mentioned in the Bible, will support the view of the Government that it has a vested interest in the increased consumption of liquor. Most Australians would be pleased if less liquor were consumed. They do not object to the use of liquor, but they consider that its abuse has gone to extreme lengths in Australia and that we should be better off if we had a more sober community. This Government seems to want to encourage the consumption of liquor so that when it obtains a big revenue from taxes on liquor, its members may adjust their halos and say, “ See what a lot of money we have raised for the country “. They pose as benefactors of the community. I have always thought that the halo of the Vice-President of the Executive Council is too tight and causes some of those headaches that occasion his ill-temper in this chamber from time to time. The Government apparently imposes excessive duties on liquor in order to obtain vast revenues from ordinary citizens so that it can help its wealthy friends, for instance, by remitting land tax to the tune of over £6,000,000 a year. The abolition of the land tax benefited 21,000 taxpayers, SO per cent, of whom own city properties and probably have seen the country only when they have driven through it in a motor car or flown over it in an aeroplane.
The principle of imposing taxes in accordance with ability to pay is not observed when heavy duties are imposed upon tobacco and liquor regardless of the incomes of the consumers. I would not put it past this Government to tax persons even for going to church. It is prepared to raise revenue by the wrong means rather than by the right means. None of the excessive imposts included in these proposals can be justified. When we were engaged in war, we did not require to impose a duty in excess of 4s. 7d. a gallon on beer. Therefore, this Government has no justification to-day for increasing the duty to 7s. 2d. a gallon.
– This is due to pressure that members of the Opposition have put upon the Government.
– Members of the Australian Labour party will put pressure upon this Government only in order to get it out and make way for a good government under the leadership of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). The Government proposes to increase the excise duty on beer to 7s. 2d. a gallon because, to use the inimitable terminology of the Treasurer, it wants to skim off the surplus purchasing power of the people. That sort of talk could easily deceive members of the Australian Country party, because none of them has much ability, but it should not deceive discerning members of the Liberal party most of whom, if they expressed their inner thoughts and heartfelt feelings, would prefer, at this time, to be members of the great Australian Labour party, which is the party of the future and has a distinguished past.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– As no other honorable member has risen, I shall take my second fifteen-minute period. These imposts are merely a miserable expedient for raising additional revenue. The VicePresident of the Executive Council is, no doubt, thoroughly ashamed of them. When he was Minister for Trade and Customs he refused to agree to anything like this. He would fight the Treasurer rather than do so; but, apparently, he has softened under the influence of his Mayfair environment during his recent sojourn abroad. The imposition of excise duty is the easiest way by which a government can extract money from the community. That is why the Government refuses to face up to its responsibility in this matter. The Opposition emphatically protests against the imposition of these exorbitant rates of excise duty. As the majority of members of the Opposition are abstemious, we are a0 arguing for some benefit for ourselves. These impositions are manifestly unjust, and the Government should at this stage decide to reduce the rate of duty on beer from 7s. 2d. to 4s. 7d. a gallon which was the maximum that operated during the most dangerous period of the recent war.
I turn now to another aspect of these extraordinary proposals. The Government proposes to increase the tax on smokers. Many persons consider that smoking is a filthy habit, that it is most unhygienic and should not be tolerated in any circumstances. The fact is that not only many men but also many women are smokers. Of course, at present, having regard to the diminishing family income, women who are the first to make sacrifices, arc obliged to stop smoking in order that their husbands may continue their dedication to the weed.
– Some people go into smoke.
– That is so. Recently, I tried to smoke the Treasurer out of his hollow log in. Canberra in an effort to get him to go down to Flinders, but. I did not succeed. In 1950-51, collections of excise duty on beer totalled £37,000,000, but this year it is estimated the collections will total £60,000,000. Whereas in 1950-51 collections of excise duty on whisky, rum, gin and liqueurs amounted to approximately £5,000,000, it is estimated that the duty on those goods this year will yield a revenue of £8,000,000.
The rate of excise duty on handmade tobacco is to be increased from 10s. to 13s. 6d. per lb. The revenue collected at the lower rate was nil, and it is estimated that collections under the same heading for the current financial year will also be nil. The rate of duty on other hand-made tobacco is to be increased from 10s. 8d. to 14s. 2d. per lb., and it is estimated that the revenue that will be collected under that heading this year will also be nil. I cannot understand why the Government persists in prescribing a rate of excise duty in respect of an item when it does not expect to derive any revenue by so doing. The rate of excise duty on manufactured tobacco in the manufacture of which all the leaf used is Australian-grown is to be increased from 10s. 3d. to 13s. 9d. per Jb., and it is estimated that collections under this heading will decrease from £717,035 in 1950-51 to £603,460 in 1951-52. Those figures indicate that less Australian leaf is being used in manufacture, and that is a grave reflection upon the Government. It should stand up to the big tobacco cartels, the British Tobacco Company (Australia) Limited, and W. D. and’ H. O. Wills Limited and say to them, in effect, “ If you want to trade in Australia you must use more and more Australian-grown leaf, because we want to keep the growers in the industry”. If the Government will not stand up to those cartels, let it stand aside. The Australian Labour party will put the big monopolists to the jump, and it will not be long now before we shall have the opportunity to do so. The rate of excise duty on manufactured tobacco, in the manufacture of which other than Australiangrown leaf is used, is to be increased from 10s. lid. per lb., at which rate collections amounted to £9,995,036, to 14s. 5d. per lb. It is estimated that collections under this heading will amount to £14,500,000 for the financial year ending the 30th June, 1953. A lot of that tobacco is dollar tobacco, which we should not be buying at all. If we cannot obtain adequate supplies of Australian-grown leaf, we should get our tobacco within the sterling area.
– Does the Australiangrown leaf blend all right?
– As I am not a smoker, I cannot say. However, people get used to these things. But, beggars cannot be choosers. We are in a bad way for dollars and we should not be importing tobacco, or newsprint, while, at the same time, prohibiting the importation of essential capital goods from the dollar area. The rate of excise duty on handmade cigars is to be increased from lis. 7d., at which rate collections amounted to £37,S42 in 1950-51, to 16s. Hd. per lb. ; and it is estimated that collections will amount to £41,649 in 1951-52. The Government is not making so much out of cigar smokers. The rate of duty on machine-made cigarettes is to be increased from 20s. 9d. per lb., at which rate revenue amounted to £10,582,054, to 25s. lOd. per lb. ; and it is estimated that collections will total £13,715,666 in 1951-52. That is an increase of 25 per cent, on the heavy impost that was already being borne by the ordinary Australian who smokes whether he works on a farm or in a factory, shop or office. That increase is far greater than the increase of the rate of income tax which, after land tax, is the fairest of all forms of taxes; and it is almost equal to the increase of the rate of sales tax which was announced in the two last budgets of this Government - the horror budget and the so-called incentive budget. The Government must do something to protect the tobacco industry in this country. Climatic conditions in almost every State are favorable for tobacco-growing.
– But no one can smoke the Australian leaf.
– It can be treated to make it palatable to smokers. Between the two world wars our manufacturers used Virginian leaf and discarded the stalk, but under war conditions the manufacturers found a way to utilize the stalk also by treating it with a variety of compounds. Today, Australians who smoke such cigarettes are paying not only for the pure leaf, but also for the stalk. I refuse to decry the capacity of officials of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and of those engaged in the industry to produce a tobacco that will be palatable to Australian smokers. The 3et against Australiangrown leaf is attributable largely to prejudice. At one time, it was said that Australians could not produce cloth equal in quality to that of imported cloth. That was the old free-trade fallacy that obtained in the days of George Reid in New South Wales; and, unfortunately, it is still lingering on. Anything that can be done in any other country, Australians can do just as well and generally better. I have sufficient confidence in the ability of the people of Australia to believe that their inventive genius and creative capacity is as great as that of the people of any other country. Indeed, Australia would not be the country that it is to-day if Australians were inferior in that respect.
This Government is scuttling the ship of State. The tragic Lyons Government destroyed the tobacco industry at Myrtleford, Victoria, after the Scullin Government had established the industry at that centre. The Lyons Government did that because it was owned body and soul by shipping and tobacco interests and other big cartels. We must be ourselves and think of ourselves. We must put Australia first at all times and in all circumstances. “Australia for the Australians “ is a good motto. It should be the motto used in carrying on the affairs of this country for the benefit of Australians. The Government should say that those who want to manufacture tobacco in this country shall use the whole of the Australian-grown leaf that is produced each year; and if en-tain people do not like that, they can lump it. The Australian people can be taught to appreciate the. Australian product, whether it be tobacco or anything else, just as they have been taught to appreciate that Australianmanufactured clothing and textiles are just as good as the product of any other country. The little Australians in this chamber, who sit opposite the big Australians, who for the time being are in Opposition, must bring their thinking up to date. In any event, if Government supporters have not yet learned their lesson, they will learn it next Saturday when the Australian Labour party will win the Flinders seat.
.- It is pleasing to see the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) in the circus ring again. It is much more enjoyable to hear him when he is in that frame of mind than when he is in serious mood. -He may be a quick-change artist in the circus, but it is difficult to develop that role in national politics. The honorable member failed in his quick-change act to-day. First he tried to speak for those who drink beer. He said that they could not buy sufficient beer because of the high charges and that was against their best interests. Then the honorable member feared that he might have offended the members of temperance organizations so he did a somersault and said le hoped that less beer would be consumed. The logical conclusion is that the higher the charge, the less beer will be drunk, because the people have only a certain amount of money for beer. If it were possible for the honorable number to speak again in this debate, I should like him to say whether he favours the consumption of more beer or less beer. In his speech, he expressed an opinion both ways. When honorable members hear the deputy leader of a party express such different views upon the same subject, is it any wonder that they ask just where does he stand?
– We would not lose him for anything. Ho is one of our greatest assets.
– As the Minister for Defence (Mr. McBride) ha3 interjected, the honorable member for Melbourne is one of our greatest assets, but honorable members like to hear some logic in a debate. It is all very well to have a little bit of fun, but this is a serious matter. [Quorum formed.’] The honorable member said that the policy of the Australian Government should be “ Australia for the Australians “. “ Hifalutin “ terms are all very well, but they mean nothing unless they are bolstered substantially. The honorable member for Melbourne referred to excise on whisky, tobacco and some other goods, but he did not refer to many other Australian products which are free of any impost. It is usual for honorable members on the Opposition side to select a few articles and suggest that the charges upon them are unjust and should be lifted, but it is difficult for the people to know what the honorable member for Melbourne means when in one breath he supports those who drink beer, and then expresses approval of high excise because its effect is to reduce the consumption of beer. I hope that the honorable member will explain his position at some time.
– It would be only courteous of me to reply to the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) and I should hate to be discourteous to him. He spoke about excise more in sorrow than in anger, but the honorable member was a Minister in happier days and he should know that excise on beer, spirits, and tobacco is a traditional source of revenue. I was interested to hear him read from certain statistical records with regard to tobacco. After dealing with ale and spirits, the honorable member said that the Government was putting an imposition upon the working man and preventing him from enjoying the things that he was rightly entitled to enjoy. 1 noticed when he was citing figures with regard to tobacco that he made no reference whatever to the fact that in 1942, when the excise on tobacco was 7s. 4d. per lb. the Curtin Government increased the excise duty on all Australian tobacco that’ was to be used for cigarette leaf by Si. per lb., compared with the proposed increase in the schedule that is under discussion of 6s. per lb. I remind honorable members that the honorable member for Melbourne was a distinguished member of the Curtin Government of that day, and I ask them to compare the Curtin Government’s actions with the impassioned plea that has been made by the honorable member for the encouragement of Australian tobacco production. The Curtin Government encouraged the growing of Australian tobacco leaf by increasing the excise duty by Sp. per lb.
– That was in the middle of the war.
– The honorable member is always finding excuses. He referred to the cigarettes that are consumed by the average working man. He may not smoke Australian tobacco. Possibly he smokes imported “ tailor-made “ cigarettes. What did the Curtin Government do? It increased the excise duty on cigarette tobacco by Ss. per lb., whereas this Government proposes to increase it by 6s.
– That is by 6s. more, making the total 14s. per lb.
– That is the true history of this impost. Never mind about histrionics. I invite honorable members to consider the facts. I noticed that the honorable member for
Melbourne charged the Government with encouraging the consumption of beer so that we would get more revenue.
– That is correct.
– Whatever the increase in revenue may be, it has certainly made no difference to the consumption of beer. In 193S-39 consumption of beer in Australia was 84,000,000 gallons and it rose to 90,000,000 gallons in 1939-40. In 1951-52, consumption was 173,000,000 gallons. Excise duty does not seem to bc having much effect in discouraging the consumption of beer. Brief contemplation of these facts shows how fallacious are the arguments of the honorable member for Melbourne. From time to time, honorable members on the Opposition side speak of the increased basic wage. They say that it has reached astronomical heights, but it is not really as much as it was some time ago.
– That is right.
– I am pleased to hear that interjection because in 1942 the basic wage was £4 15s. and now it is £11 7s. In 1942 the excise duty on beer was 4s. 7d. It has now been increased to 7s. 2d. If the honorable member for Melbourne will indulge in a little arithmetic, he will discover that the excise on beer has increased since 1942 by 60 per cent, and the basic wage has increased by 140 per cent. If those figures are compared it will be evident that the Government is taking less from the workers’ glass of beer than the Labour Government took in 1942. Honorable members will realize how truly absurd are the arguments of the honorable member for Melbourne. Whenever he intrudes in a debate of thi3 nature, he selects facts that will suit his argument. He conveniently forgets the information that would reflect the truth of the matter that is under discussion. For that reason I have risen to correct the misunderstanding that must have been created in the minds of listeners by the honorable member for Melbourne. I believe that I have convinced him that the charges that are under discussion are traditional sources of revenue. In the United Kingdom the home of beef, beer and ‘baccy, excise on beer and tobacco is infinitely higher than is the excise in Australia.
– That is no excuse for these imposts.
– I agree, but I remind the honorable member of that fact to emphasize that these excise duties are traditional means of obtaining revenue in every country in the world. I believe the honorable member will agree that if it can be shown that excise is kept at a reasonable level, taking into consideration the national need for revenue, no political capital can be made out of those duties.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Eric J. Harrison and Mr. Holt do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Eric j. Harrison, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) proposed -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This Government, which promised to reduce excise duties, has increased them by 66 per cent. During the war, the Labour party increased the excise duty payable upon Australian tobacco used in cigarette making by 8s. per lb., but this Government has increased it to such a degree that it is now 14s. more than the pre-war figure. The Government not only has failed to reduce exise duties, but has increased them. Honorable gentlemen on this side of the chamber do not believe in tactics of that kind. We believe in being fair to the people. In our opinion, a government that does not keep its promises is a fraud on democracy, and ought to be destroyed. In that spirit, we oppose the motion for the second reading of the bill.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 15
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from the 26th September, 1951 (vide page 104, volume 214), on motion by Mr. Eric J. Harrison -
That the schedule to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933-1950 . . . (vide page 102, volume 214).
Zealand Preference) Proposals are complementary to the Customs Tariff Proposals about which I have already spoken. These proposed amendments of the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) are complementary to amendments of the Customs Tariff.
.- I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison), through you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, whether the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Proposals and the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Proposals, which will be dealt with later, represent concessions granted by Australia to other countries at the international trade talks that were held at Torquay during 1950-51, or whether they are the proposals to which the Minister referred when he spoke of the necessity more clearly to define, for the purposes of administration, the intention of existing items. The committee has been told nothing about the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Proposals other than that they relate to alterations of the rates of duty imposed upon corsets and locomotives. The Minister may find that the duty on locomotives is too big a subject for him to handle. He should be more explicit. He should not let the Flinders by-election weigh him down to such a degree that he cannot tell us why the rates of duty upon corsets and locomotives have got to be made the subject of legislation in this Parliament.
– I suggest that the honorable member for Melbourne (Calwell) adjust his halo, because it is askew. The honorable gentleman is on rather unfamiliar ground. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who generally leads the Opposition in tariff debates, would understand these proposals. Possibly the honorable member for Melbourne, who has posed as a saint on this occasion, will be able to understand them if he adjusts his halo, which, as I have said, is askew. I thought that every member of the committee was aware of the facts of this matter. We have made reciprocal arrangements with New Zealand and Canada.
– Why did not the right honorable gentleman say so?
– I thought it was common knowledge, and that there was no need for me to explain it. If the honorable member for Melbourne wants a first primer on this matter, I shall be pleased to give it to him. When any alteration is made of our tariff, we must adjust automatically the tariff arrangements made with both New Zealand and Canada. Nothing more than that is involved in this matter. I assure the honorable member for Melbourne that this is not a sinister move by the Government. We have no ulterior motive. We intend only to give effect to reciprocal arrangements.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Eric J. Harrison and Mr. McBride do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Eric J. Harrison, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from the 30th November, 1951 (vide page 1886, Vol. 215), on motion by Mr. Eric J. Harrison -
That the schedule to the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) . . .(vide page 1885, Vol. 215).
.- The Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) proposals are complementary to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) proposals, on which I have already spoken. The proposed amendment to the Customs Tariff (Canadian
Preference) proposals is supplementary to the amendment to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) proposals. I inform the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is at present in charge of the Opposition, that this measure will have exactly the same effect as the previous legislation.
.- I am grateful to the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) for having been at least explicit. The sloppy way in which ho has introduced these matters to-day, and the meagre information about them that he has given to the committee, are to be deplored. This time, he has told us what he ought to have told us, and for that wo are grateful. No Minister should treat the committee with contempt ;. but the right honorable gentleman in Hitleresque fashion has come forward already to-day on another matter and said, in effect, “Here are the proposals. Vote for them, and do not ask me any questions”. He has become human again and has told us what we should know. If He had told us as much in connexion with the other proposals I should not have asked any questions about them. If he has occasion in future to introduce similar proposals, I hope he will be even more explicit about them than he has been on this occasion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Eric J. Harrison and Mr. McBride do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Eric J. Harbison, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Bill presented by Mr. Eric J. Harrison, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill provides for the validation of collections of customs duties made under Customs Tariff Proposals (No. 5), which were introduced on the 29th May, 1952, and which were in operation until they were superseded by Customs Tariff Proposals (No. 6) of the 25th September, 1952. The latter proposals incorporated the amendments previously included in Customs Tariff Proposals (No. 5) and also those included in earlier proposals introduced during the present session. Collections of the duties under Customs Tariff Proposals (Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive) wore validated by Act No. 31 of 1951. The House has already approved the bill which incorporated the amendments contained in Customs Tariff Proposals (No. 6) but as that bill will, when enacted, give legal effect to those amendments as on and from the 26th September, 1952, it will, of course, be necessary to validate the collections of duty made prior to that date by Customs Tariff Proposals (No. 5). The bill now before the House is, therefore, a machinery measure designed to achieve that purpose.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a. third time.
Bill presented by Mr. Eric J. Harrison, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill provides for the validation of collections of excise duties made under Excise Tariff Proposals (No. 3) of the 29th May, 1952. These excise proposals were, however, superseded by excise tariff proposals of the 25th September, 1952, which incorporated the amendments previously included in all excise tariff proposals introduced into Parliament during the present session. The collections of excise duties made under Excise Tariff Proposals (Nos. 1 and 2) were validated by act No. 52 of 1951. The House has already given its approval to the bill which incorporated the amendments contained in Excise Tariff Proposals (No. 4), but as that bill, when enacted, will give legal effect to those amendments as on and from the 26th September, 1952, it now becomes necessary to validate the collections of duty that were made prior to that date under Excise Tariff Proposals (No. 3). The bill is essentially a machinery measure. It is on the same plane as that of the Customs Tariff Validation Bill, which has already been approved by the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Bill received from the Senate and (on motion by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) read a first time.
Debate resumed from the 10th October (vide page 2923), on motion by Sir Arthur Padded -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill is intended to give effect to the recommendation of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Last week the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) made his second-reading speech on the measure, and presented the nineteenth annual report of the commission. That report is a most interesting document, as have been all the commission’s reports. It i? full of information that is helpful to honorable members who desire to contrast the expenditure on social services in the various States. It shows how, in each part of our vast Commonwealth, there is & diversity of treatment of hospitals, police forces, law and order, and social services generally in the matter of expenditure per head of the population.
The Commonwealth Grants Commission has never had an easy task in trying to determine just how much money should be voted annually to the States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania in order to put them in the same relative position as they would have been in had they suffered none of the disabilities of federation. The commission was established in order to make up to certain .State governments what they have lost because of federation. It could easily happen that four, or even five of the six State governments may require assistance, but, in practice, only three of them have so far been in that position. It is regrettable that any State should have lost because of federation, but the centrifugal tendencies of federation have seemed to draw the whole population of the Commonwealth into a narrower compass, and helped to develop the two stronger States at the expense of two of the larger States and the smallest State which largely form the outer ring, as it were, of our federation.
South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania are sometimes called the claimant States. I do not consider that to be a happy title. At any rate, they are the States that need assistance from the Commonwealth, and every year when a measure of this kind is before the House, honorable members on both sides of the chamber, particularly those who represent electorates in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, refer to the disabilities of their States - the disabilities, often, which are allegedly not taken into consideration by the commission when it is making its recommendations.
Because of difficulties that have arisen from time to time, the commission has adopted the practice in recent years of considering the expenditure of the States in two-year periods, .and making adjustments. It so happens that, in this bill, advance payments are recommended for South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania for the year 1952-53 and adjustments are made to the grants of South Australia and Western Australia because of the amount of the grants paid to them in 1950-51. The figure recommended for South Australia as an advance payment for 1952-53 is £6,600,000, and from that, a sum of £257,000 is deducted because South Australia was presumably overpaid by that amount in the last financial year. That leaves a total of £6,343,000 for the needs of South Australia. An advance payment of £8,200,000 is recommended for Western Australia, and an adjustment of £159,000 by way of a deduction, leaving £8,041,000 to be paid to that State in this financial year. In the past, the adjustments have been additional to the grants made for the financial year. Tasmania had an advance of £1,550,000 for 1952-53 and, by some extraordinary accountancy process, there was no adjustment, not even of a1d. or a £1 upwards or downwards, and the same amount is to be paid to that State. The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) has explained that the deductions - represent the amount by which the advance payments made in 1950-51 exceeded the financial needs of those States in that year as finally assessed by the commission.
I have no doubt that the commission did a fair and reasonable job in making those assessments, but it cannot be said that the financial needs of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania are not greater than the amount assessed by the commission. That body has had to act within a charter, which is defined by the Parliament, and cannot take into consideration factors beyond its terms of reference. The commission does say, however, that it is unable to estimate what the expenditure of those States will be in the immediate future, because of the number of factors that are operating at the present time. The commission speaks of basic wage adjustments that will have to be made in the current financial year. It talks about increased expenditure on social services that will have to be undertaken in the States concerned. It mentions the effect upon the finances of Western Australia of the prolonged rail strike which occurred earlier this year.
Nobody can be certain of what will happen to-morrow in these days of galloping inflation. Nobody knows just at what point the basic wage increases will cease. As from the 1st August last, the basic wage was £11 7s. a week. A determination is to be announced tomorrow which might increase it by as much as 10s. or 12s. a week, or by only 4s. or 5s. a week ; but it will be an important factor in the finances of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, and, indeed, of every undertaking, governmental or commercial, throughout the length and breadth of the land. The commission is wise in saying, in effect, “ Well, we just do not know what the future will be, but we estimate that the amounts which we have recommended will be sufficient in the light of existing circumstances, and we give no hostages to the future “. The commission says that the payments recommended in this bill for the financial year 1952-53 will be the subject of adjustment two years hence, when all the factors relating to this financial year are known. It apparently takes a long time before all the facts in connexion with the financial year of a State can be properly determined and really ascertained.
I have often thought that we might do something more for the larger States, including Queensland, because if they have not exactly suffered disabilities under federation, they have suffered disadvantages because of inventions and developments. For example, the aeroplane has annihilated time and distance, and made it possible for people to live in the more settled areas and desert the countryside. They have come into the inner areas, and left the great open spaces less occupied than they were 40 years ago. It may be true that working in city factories is perhaps more attractive than working on the land but other things are drawing the people by magnets, as it were, into the capital cities, to the detriment of Australia. Sometimes I think of Oliver Goldsmith’s line -
Ill fares the land to hast’ning ills a prey.
Where wealth accumulates and men decay.
We are seemingly deserting our countryside, because it is much easier to live in the settled areas. Western Australia is the most vulnerable part of our Commonwealth. One-half of it is occupied by only 6,000 people of our blood. I have referred to this matter repeatedly. The other 500,000 square miles of that
State is held tenuously by 500,000 people of our blood. The disabilities which Western Australia has suffered under federation are even more extensive than the Commonwealth Grants Commission has so far admitted, and for the purposes of the advancement and development of Australia, it may be obligatory on the Commonwealth ultimately to expend more money on defence roads and harbours and strategic railways in that State. When I make that statement I refer not only to the roads and railways running north and south, but also to the roads and railways running east and west. I suppose it would be heresy in Western Australia to suggest that that part of the State north of Carnarvon should be ceded to the Commonwealth as a territory, and made the complete responsibility of the Commonwealth. I think I heard the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Freeth) interject, “ Not by any means”. That part of Western Australia is not being developed and populated now. It is the most vulnerable part of Australia. It is only 400 or 500 miles from that point from which the next act of aggression against this nation will commence. Perhaps the Western Australian Parliament, in view of the known disabilities of the State, will ultimately bo as wise as the South Australian Parliament which, in other days ceded a part of that State to the Commonwealth .
– At least the north-west of Western Australia is not suffering any harm at the present time. But it would suffer barm if it were ceded to the Com m on weal ti i .
– If the Commonwealth would undertake to expend millions of pounds in developing that part of Western Australia, I think that it would de wise to make that area a territory of the Common wealth, and ultimately a separate State. I do not see that it can possibly develop in its present condition. The Ord River is a magnificent river in the north of Western Australia and its development should be made the subject of a Commonwealth grant. If that river were properly damned, it would be possible to irrigate many hundreds of thousands of acres along at least 60 miles of the course.
– Is not the Ord River in the Northern Territory?
– No, the river flows into the sea at Wyndham, near the Northern Territory. At the moment, the area is more or less a no man’s land. I know that our record since the Northern Territory has been a territory of the Commonwealth has not reached the expectations of those who took the area over from South Australia, and went into it full of promise and hope. I doubt whether it. i.s possible from the 500,000 people in South Australia, who hold more than 300,000 square miles of territory, to do as much to develop that equally important part of Australia with their resources as the 2,000,000 people in Victoria, holding S8,000 square miles, are able to do with the construction of dams, roads and other developmental works. New South Wales even suffers disabilities compared with Victoria in that connexion.
– Yes, New South Wales has a Labour government.
– Until recently, Victoria had a Labour-directed government. However, it does not matter about the political views of the government of a State. The important consideration is what financial help is given to that Government. In the United States of America, by an act of the federal legislature, all dams have been made the responsibility of Congress. We cannot take similar action here, so we have to work through a body like the Commonwealth Grants Commission to see whether we can even up the distribution of our revenues. God knows, we have not got much longer to hold this country, and use it, against the day when it may have to be defended in blood again !
On these matters, I am expressing m.y own views. I may not have a supporter for them anywhere, but they are my beliefs. I think that the Commonwealth Grants Commission has done a magnificent job. Perhaps it may be empowered to do an even better job if we can enlarge its charter, and visualize the day when Australia will not be just six States, three of which are relatively rich and powerful, and the other three so much poorer, but a Commonwealth of 20, 30 or more States; because the more areas of local autonomy that there are within the Commonwealth the better will be the prospects of development of the whole of Australia.
– I thought that the honorable member was a unificationist.
– I have never been a unificationist. If the Minister will promise me to read it I shall supply him with a pamphlet that I have written on the matter. I believe that where necessary this continent should be developed through centralization of authority, and where necessary it should be developed through decentralization. It is on the subject of finding a happy medium between the two extremes that divisions of opinion arise. The Opposition is desirous of being constructively critical and certainly helpful about this measure, as about all measures that come before the Parliament. It might be said that the last Labour Government did not do anything along the lines that I have indicated, but not much is to be gained by repining the past. We must study history to learn lessons that will be useful to us in the future. Let us look to the future with some hope, and let us face our problems with courage and determination or we shall not be worthy of the people from whom we are descended. I commend the bill to the House.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), apparently in a somewhat chastened mood after the mauling he received earlier to-day at the hands of the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison), made a thoughtful contribution to the debate. I find myself in agreement with a great deal of what he said. He referred to the problem connected with the north-west part of Western Australia. That is a particularly difficult problem, and the Australian Government has to bear a share of the responsibility in finding its solution. I do not believe that ceding that portion of Western Australia to the Commonwealth would overcome the difficulty, because then, apparently, the Commonwealth would simply pour money into that area in a hazardous attempt to develop it. If the Government were to spend large sums of money in this area before it had a population of any size, it would be embarking upon a great gamble. The problem of the north-west of Western Australia must be approached from another angle. Legislative action by this Government and the Western Australian Government should be designed to encourage people to settle in the north-west of Western Australia and to invest capital in its development. Since the Northern Territory has been under the control of the Australian Government it has gone ahead by comparison with the north-west of Western Australia, but its advancement is due to many diverse factors. Only one of the factors is the developmental work that the Commonwealth has undertaken in the Northern Territory. Other factors are that there have been greater incentives for the investment of capital in the Northern Territory, and greater taxation concessions have been made in regard to income earned in the territory. The Commonwealth has stated that it is precluded from giving taxation concessions to the people in portion of a State, and no doubt there is much to be said for that contention. However, that difficulty must bc overcome. Unless some inducement, over and above the inducements offered by the cities and more settled parts of Australia, is offered to people to live in the north-west of Western Australia, there will never be a large population there. That area is not a pleasant place in which to live, in comparison with other parts of Australia, and, after all, the sole purpose in life of people is not to amass money. They want to live under reasonable conditions.
I do not think that the Western Australian Government would hesitate to cede the north-western part of Western Australia to the Commonwealth if it believed that centralization of control in Canberra would lead to quicker development of the area. If this part of the State were taken away from the State government, the remainder of Western Australia would not be affected to any great degree because the State’s trade would still pass through Fremantle and Perth. Probably the Western Australian Government has a much better realization of the problems involved in the settlement of these sparsely populated areas than has the honorable member for Melbourne, who has only occasionally visited the north-west of Western Australia. The Western Australian Government appreciates that the mere ceding of territory to the Commonwealth would not overcome all the difficulties involved. A considerable amount of the money that has been granted by the Commonwealth to Western Australia has been advanced in recognition of the special disability under which that State labours because of the disastrous metal strike that occurred there during the last few months. That strike put many people out of work, but the Labour party did not play an energetic part in its settlement.
– Is the Opposition required to govern the country?
– This strike was not aimed at the Government, and the unions and the Labour party are so closely allied that the Labour party could ]]av:done some fairly effective work in trying to settle the strike. Instead of helping to have the matter settled, the Labour party did practically nothing about it. If the Labour party had taken firm action, much of the misery caused by the strike could have been avoided and much money would have been saved for the Government. The Labour party screams about the shortage of money for public works, but it, together with the hundreds of unionists who went on strike, must accept a great part of the blame for that shortage. The development of Western Australia will be given a great impetus by the construction of the Kwinana refinery and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited’s rolling mills, which undertakings, together with others, have been given the active help and encouragement of the Australian Government. Indeed, it was on the suggestion of this Government that the Anglo-Iranian Oi! Company Limited first investigated the possibility of establishing a refinery at Kwinana. All Western Australians will be grateful to this Government for it3 assistance in developing their State. It is no exaggeration to say, as was said by the Premier of Western Australia, that the Kwinana refinery, the steel rolling mills and the host of industries which will follow in their train, will do as much for the development of Western Australia as the discovery of gold did in the 1890’s That development will place a great strain on the resources of the State, and in the next four or five years, while this work is going on and before it becomes productive, the Commonwealth will have to make large sums of money available for schools, hospitals, roads, houses and so on.
The State Government and the Commonwealth Grants Commission should carefully consider the matter of the aborigines in Western Australia because, as far as I know, the Commonwealth Grants Commission has never taken into consideration the serious disability that Western Australian suffers through having to look after the interests and needs of more aborigines than are to be found in any other State of the Commonwealth. I consider that tho Western Australian Government would have an excellent case if it asked the Australian Government for money so thar it could advance the living standards of the aborigines in Western Australia and still remain in the same relative financial position as the eastern States. The Commonwealth Grants Commission could encourage the Western Australian Government to spend more money on the aboriginal population of that State. I commend the bill, and I consider that the Commonwealth Grants Commission has done a good job for Western Australia in providing for its needs for the next year.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
.- The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Freeth) mentioned the establishment of the new oil refinery at Kwinana and gave credit for it to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Premier of Western Australia, Mr. McLarty. There are some who might be disposed to give credit to Dr. Mossadeq, of Persia, as being the original cause of the desire of the AngloIranian Oil Company Limited to found a refinery in Australia. If any explanations for this development are to be sought, they will be found in Persia, not in the policies of the governments in Perth and Canberra. The honorable member for Forrest spoke of the disabilities of “Western Australia. The bill represents an attempt to fulfil the obligation, which has always been implicit in the system of federation, for the more developed parts of Australia to contribute financial aid to the less developed parts. Whatever injustices the uniform tax system may have imposed on the major States, at least it has compensated the minor States for one disability. Under the uniform tax system, the highly industrialized areas, where there are great concentrations of wealth, contribute most to the revenue of the Government. The disbursement of that revenue on an equitable basis, according to population, has the effect that the less developed parts of the nation receive more than they contribute. Consequently, the uniform tax system lias a tendency to compensate the minor States for the disadvantages of federation.
The settled tariff policy of the Commonwealth has discriminated against agriculture in favour of secondary industry, and the result of that discrimination lias been very serious in the States that are almost entirely agricultural in character. Western Australia, for instance, is heavily in debt for its railways. The Premier of Western Australia in 1928 f old the royal commission on finance how much loan money had to he raised in Western Australia in order to pay the tariff imposed by the Commonwealth on rails imported from abroad, or the extra charge for rails manufactured in Australia that resulted from the tariff. The late Sir James Mitchell said, at the time when railway lines cost £3,000 a mile, that £1,000 of duty had to be paid for every mile of line. The result was that Western Australia went into debt and paid the interest on £1,000 for every mile of rail that was constructed at that time. Thus, the settled tariff policy of the Commonwealth undoubtedly added considera bly to the expense of the .developmental undertakings of the minor States. The grants for which this bill provides are justifiable because of that fact.
The grants system will survive the uniform tax system, whether this Government abolishes uniform tax or not. The history of Western Australia shows that the State has advanced by means of windfalls. The honorable member for Forrest made the extravagant statement that the Kwinana oil refinery would be as important in the history of Western Australia as was the discovery of gold. The honorable gentleman apparently is not aware that the State had a population of 70,000 just before the gold rush in 1890, and that its population in 1900 was 200,000. To assume that any event like the establishment of an oil refinery at Kwinana is likely to be so spectacular as to cause the State to treble its population within a decade is extravagant in the extreme. However, Western Australia has depended upon such windfalls for the promotion of its development. In the days before federation, when there were alternative colonies to which immigrants could come, the land of Western Australia, which was poor by comparison with that of the eastern States, did not attract so many immigrants at ls. 6d. an acre as did the land of South Australia at £10 an acre. Recently, many South Australian farmers have sold their land for about £40 an acre and transferred to Western Australia, where they are able to take up land for about £7 an acre and use the £33 profit on each acre for developmental purposes.
The grants for which the bill, provides are intended largely to enable the States of South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania to shoulder the financial burdens imposed upon them by the provision of various forms of social services, such as education and health services. However, some features of State development have a significance that transcend State borders and affect the economy of the whole nation. Western Australia has always had an enormous transport hurden. Because it is a State with a very large area and a very small population, it must have an expensive transport system for which there are few customers. In these circumstances, it is inevitable that the State must carry a constant burden of financial losses on its railways system. The grants made to it by the Commonwealth help to meet those losses. They do not help to rehabilitate the railways and they are not sufficient to provide the State with a really modern rail system. To the degree that the Western Australian segment of the Australian transport system is weak, the whole of our transport system is weak. “Western Australia is in need of harbour development, which would be of importance to the whole of Australia. Reference has been made during this debate to the development of the north-western part of the State.
I consider that a great deal of nonsense is talked about the development of the north-west of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. We must accept certain harsh facts in relation to those areas. One of the facts of settlement in every country has been that settlers have refused to go first to the poorest areas and have established themselves instead in the best areas. Many rich areas of Western Australia still remain unsettled, and, unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, they are in the south-western area of the State. No matter what policy is pursued in relation to the north-western part of Western Australia, the State Government is inevitably forced to devote attention to developmental works, such as irrigation, in areas where closer settlement is possible. Therefore, the irrigation policy of the Western Australian Government is directed, not to the uninhabited northwest, bi.it to the inhabited south-west. Although we all pay lip-service to the ideal of developing northern Australia, the fact is that the great projects of the Australian Government are not located in the Northern Territory. Should we have expended in the Northern Territory the money that we propose to expend on the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme? I think that every honorable member will answer, “No”. The whole trend of our thinking is towards the needs of the areas where our population is actually settled. I am not convinced of the validity of the defence argument that is often used in favour of the settlement of northern Australia. We ought to turn the map of Australia upside down occasionally so that we may look at it from the point of view of the Asiatic countries to the north of us. It is our great good fortune that all our concentrations of vital industries are on the side of the continent furthest from Asia. The northwestern part of Western Australia and the Northern Territory would be very thankless regions for an invading army to occupy.
We know that the intention of the Japanese during World War II. was to land, not in those thankless regions, but in the developed northern area of Queensland. It is not true to say that we must have industries established in the north if we are to defend that part of Australia. If we have our armament industries, and the other industries that buttress our war effort, in the southern part of the continent, they can provide cover for the north, even if the north is empty. Northern Australia would be unattractive to an invading army, but it is a fact, I fear, that Queensland attracted the attention of the Japanese, who planned to invade us, not through the Kimberleys, but through Townsville and Cairns. That is a fact that we ought to take carefully into consideration. The Snowy Mountains project will assist in the development of northern Australia. We must realize that, if it provides power for our important industries, it provides also the basis of the defence of the whole of Australia, including the northern areas, whether they are empty or settled. My argument is not directed against the development of northern Australia. 1 merely point out to honorable members that the tendency of settlers in any new country is to concentrate on the best areas first. Honorable members must realize that settlers will not take up land in areas where they will be committed to enormous capital outlay, which they cannot afford before they commence production, when they have opportunities to take up land in closely settled fertile areas. The grants policy pursued by the present Government is identical with that of the former Labour Government, except that the amounts of the grants are necessarily larger in order to compensate for the changed value of money. There would be no sense, therefore, in wasting the time of the House in arguing about a measure upon which we are in agreement. Accordingly, I content myself by saying that I support the bill.
.- The purpose of this bill is to make grants totalling £15,534,000 to the States of South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia. These claimant States, as they have become known, have applied to the Government for financial aid under section 96 of the Constitution, which provides for the granting of assistance to States that need additional funds in order to place them on a basis comparable with that of the richer States. The amount of the proposed grants has been recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission in its nineteenth report. I consider that the nation is indebted to the men who compiled that report, which is well worthy of close study. It sets out very clearly the financial positions of all States and the Commonwealth, and includes a survey of the general economic position. Every honorable member must approve of the granting of assistance to needy States. The ideal of helping the weak could well be put into practice in every field of human activity. As somebody once said to me, “ If everybody cared enough and everybody shared enough, everybody would have enough”. This bill is based on the principle that our wealth should be shared equitably amongst the States so that Australia may develop as a nation, instead of existing as a collection of separate States with varying economic fortunes. As the commission points out in its report, the States were unable, because of ever-rising wages and costs of materials, to estimate accurately the assistance that they required by way of grants for the current financial year. Indeed, the commission expresses the view that it is impossible to foresee the end of the present inflationary trend. Of course, the blame for present inflationary conditions must, to a large degree, be laid at the door of this Government.
The development of primary and secondary industry must be seriously retarded. Unless State governments are allocated sufficient loan moneys to enable them to proceed with essential projects. The South Australian Government has embarked upon important electricity and water conservation undertakings, whilst additional schools and hospitals are urgently required in the States. Recently, the State Premier declared that work on such projects would have to be slowed down considerably because of the refusal of the Commonwealth to make sufficient loan money available to South Australia. The construction of a power house at Port Augusta, and work on the construction of the Mannum-Adelaide pipe-line may have to be discontinued:. That pipe-line is needed in order to ensure adequate supplies to Adelaide. The prospects are that many suburban residents, particularly those who grow their own vegetables, will face severe water restrictions throughout the coming summer. Similarly, lack of finance threatens to cause a cessation of work on the construction of the South Para reservoir. In these circumstances, the grant that is to be made available to South Australia under this measure will be doubly welcome.
No doubt, at the meeting of the Australian Loan Council that is to be held here to-morrow, the State Premier will make another urgent appeal to the Commonwealth to increase the loan allocation to Sou th Australia I sincerely trust that his appeal will not fall on deaf ears. The lacko f loan finance is also apparent in the slowing down of work on housing projects. If South Australia, which is not a party to the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement, does not receive adequate financial assistance in the near future its building programme will have to be curtailed. Recently, it was obliged to hawk round Australia 800 prefabricated houses which now look like being left on its hands. In principle, this measure is welcome evidence of the value of close co-operation between the States concerned and the National Parliament. These grants have been recommended by the commission as a result of an impartial investigation into the financial position and needs of the claimant States. Indeed, I believe that if an opportunity were given to members of the commission to state a. case for the less populous States at the meeting of the Australian Loan Council to be held tomorrow, the Commonwealth might be persuaded to recognize the justice of the claims of those States for increased allocations of loan moneys. The commission, in its report, commends the efforts that they have made in grappling with the problem of ever-increasing costs.For instance, the Electricity Trust in South Australia recently increased its charges to a substantial degree, whilst the Tramways Trust also increased fares in an endeavour to make ends meet. Travel by tram in Adelaide is becoming so expensive that an increasingly greater number of persons are reverting to the bicycle as a means of transport. This tendency is becoming so marked that not only the tramways but also the railways in South Australia might find it more profitable to reduce their fares instead of increasing them. I am sure that if they did so, their turnover would not decrease but increase. Recently, the State Government embarked upon a project to rebuild the wharfs at Port Adelaide, and that work which has been progressing fairly satisfactorily is also in jeopardy because of lack of finance. In the circumstances, the grant to be made available under this measure will help the State Government to some degree to absorb the evergrowing army of unemployed. At present, unskilled men are finding it difficult to obtain employment.
– Very few persons are unemployed in South Australia at present.
– Obviously, unskilled men, who are invariably the first victims of unemployment trends, would not be likely to approach the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) to seek help in their plight. I do not say that the number of unemployed in South Australia is yet substantial, but no one can dispute the fact that unskilled men are beginning to find it difficult to obtain jobs. Almost daily, Labour members of Parliament are approached by such men in their search for jobs. This measure is an example of what can be done by cooperation between the weaker financial States and the Commonwealth, and it should serve as a model for the provision of assistance to the weaker sections of the community. I again express the hope that the spirit which informs the measure will be much more in evidence at the meeting of the Australian Loan Council that is to be held to-morrow than it has been at meetings of that body in recent months. At those meetings, all the State Premiers, regardless of their party political affiliations, severely criticized this Government for failing to make adequate loan moneys available to the States. I trust that at the meeting of the council to be held to-morrow the spirit of co-operation that was in evidence at meetings of that body when Mr. Chifley was Treasurer will be revived. Unlike the present Treasurer, Mr. Chifley treated the Premiers not as though they were school children but as representatives of the States in partnership with the Commonwealth in carrying on the affairs of the nation. When this matter comes before the Parliament again, I hope that the grant will not be made in the case of South Australia to the Playford Government, but to a Labour government. Then the grant will not need to be so large.
.- The report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission that is before the House in connexion with this bill to pay grants to the three claimant States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania is one that I heartily commend to honorable members for serious study. I commend it particularly to the representatives of the non-claimant States because it provides a very fineurvey of the actual state of economic affairs in Australia over the past year and a few months earlier. This report is based entirely upon facts that have been elicited by three men of substance who know their subject and are unbiased. They have been able to conduct an exhaustive survey of every aspect of the national economy, government finance and general government administration. The members of this commission have no sectional interest to serve, no political section to satisfy and no personal axe to grind. It is a very fine report and I shall direct the attention of honorable members to some sections of it.
On page 13 of the published report, reference is made to the financial conditions of Australia because the payment of grants to the States is based upon a comparison of the economy in the claimant and non-claimant States. The report states -
The year 1950-51 was one of unprecedented availability of money. The value of gross national production rose by £004,000,000 to £3,619,000,000 . . . The substantial gain in national income was not accompanied by a corresponding increase in the supply of goods.
Thu volume of primary production waa slightly below that of 1049-50, mainly as a result of unfavourable seasonal conditions.
The volume of exports of commodities such as meat, butter, wheat and flour declined. Factory production increased and imports of manufactured goods also rose so that greater supplies of many consumer goods became available. Supplies of building material, however, were still inadequate. Despite a notable improvement in the production of black coal and pig-iron, special types of coal were still scarce and pig-iron and steel supplies were substantially short of demand.
There is a picture of the production position in Australia as it existed in 1950-51. On page 15, the report states -
Despite the considerable reduction of income of primary industries, wages and retail prices continued to rise during the year.
I pause here so that honorable members may ponder upon the foolishness of an economic system such as that revealed in the extract that I have read. While the value and volume of primary production declined, wages and retail prices continued to rise. I emphasize again that this is the report of an impartial commission which is revealing to us the faults of our economy. We are bound inevitably to crash if that trend continues. Much has been said about the possibility that Australia will price itself out of prosperity. That is precisely what the report of the commission reveals. It continues -
Inevitably, as disinflationary measures began to be effective, signs of disturbance in certain sections of the economy became noticeable.
Naturally, that was the result. This commission endorses the fact that action was taken and could be taken only by the Government to effect a halt in the foolish inflation that was ruining this country, and that the action taken by the Government was proving effective. In quoting from, this report, I am not talking politics. It is the report of an impartial body dealing purely with facts. It continues -
However, available data suggest that a, high rate of investment continued throughout the year. Expenditure by State Governments on loan projects was substantially greater than in 1050-51. The number of houses and flats completed during the year was slightly greater than the record number completed in 1950-51. The number of new motor cars and commercial vehicles registered during 1951-52 was again high, but not as great as the record number registered during 1950-51. It is worth emphasis that in 1951-52, an amount estimated .at £220,000,000 was invested in motor vehicles alone. The amount invested in 1950-51 was £185,000,000.
Is it any wonder that governments, semi-governmental bodies and local authorities have had difficulty in filling their loans when so much money is going into other channels? Is it any wonder that this Government found it necessary to take action to control the tremendous volume of money that ‘ was leaving the country?
– Loans are still failing.
– Of course. The money has been spent. The report of the commission goes on to discuss the economic position of the claimant States, and on page 23 it states -
During 1950-51 and 1951-52 substantial progress was achieved. A high rate of increase of population was maintained in each State. Full employment prevailed, the volume of housing construction increased considerably, secondary industry continued to expand, primary production generally improved and marked progress was made with State developmental projects. Development of State resources and rehabilitation of State assets were facilitated by improved supplies of manpower and materials. Land development was accelerated and close attention was given to the problems of greater efficiency of production in established areas and of the development of new areas.
That pronouncement is the result of a factual survey. It is not political claptrap. I could be so unkind as to suggest that this would be useful information to give to the electors of Flinders, but I shall not use it for that purpose. The report indicates throughout that the commission found no cause for criticism of the administration, State finances and affairs of the claimant States. But the position in the non-claimant States was not so happy. I do not need to go to the commission to refer to the repeated suggestions that have been made in this House by honorable members from New South Wales with regard to the tremendous problems that have been faced by the Government in that State. In view of the commission’s reference to the financial position of all the States, and particularly of the non-claimant States, I can only suggest that if its conclusions are correct - and I must accept also the constant reiteration of honorable members from New South Wales regarding the financial position of that State - it is time that this Government, in the interests of the national economy, examined the position in New South Wales and the possibility of putting a receiver in charge of the affairs of that State. For the sake of the financial integrity of this country, some action along those lines, if within the constitutional powers of the Government, should be taken.
– ‘Bankrupt them and then put a receiver in!
– They bankrupt themselves. If they are bankrupt, it is this Government’s responsibility to ensure that the integrity of the country is guarded. It has been suggested that the grants that are allotted to the States by the Grants Commission are based upon State disabilities consequent upon federation. Initially that was correct, but about 1936-37 the basis of grants to the claimant States was altered so that they would be assisted, according to their financial need, to discharge the functions of the State and provide a standard of social and public services no less than that provided on an average by the other States, provided that each claimant State had made reasonable efforts to provide those services for itself.
In the calculation of these grants, one cumulative adverse effect of federation ou the smaller States is not taken into consideration. The policy of tariff protection which has been in operation since federation has compelled the claimant States, which are mainly primary producing States, to dispose of their products upon an open market, and to buy their requirements from a protected market. The development of the claimant States has been retarded, not only by the political dominance of the eastern States, but also by the protection that the secondary industries of those States have enjoyed. That has had a cumulative effect upon the smaller States, ft is one of the disabilities from which they have suffered since federation. Western Australia is many years behind in the development of its natural resources and the establishment of the industries that are required to make it self-support ing to a certain degree. Owing to the events of past years, it is still short of many of the industries that it requires, although some are being established now. The shortage of secondary industries in the claimant States, and the protection that the secondary industries of the eastern States have enjoyed, have had a cumulative effect upon the claimant States. That disability, as well as the disability associated with the provision of social services, should be taken into consideration when the grants to the claimant States are calculated.
– Western Australia would not be in existence to-day but for federation.
– I am happy to hear the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Davies) say that. I do not believe that the degree to which the claimant States have contributed to our national economy is generally known. Let me compare the production of Western Australia per head of population with that of Victoria, where conditions are somewhat similar to those that obtain in the west. The total volume of the production of Victoria is much greater than that of Western Australia, but I want to make a comparison on a per capita basis. The figures that I shall cite relate to 1948-49. The area of Victoria is 87,884 square miles, and that of Western Australia is 975,920 square miles. In 1948-49, the area in Victoria under principal crops was 4,644,S41 acres, and in Western Australia it was 4,215,112 acres, or about 400,000 acres less than in Victoria. From those areas of cultivated land, the net value of rural production per head of population was £55 17s. 2d. in Victoria, and £83 0s. 2d. in Western Australia. The area of cultivated land in Western Australia was about 400,000 acres smaller than that in Victoria, and the population of Western Australia was much smaller than that of Victoria. Those figures enable honorable members to compare the contribution of Western Australia to the national economy with that of Victoria.
– What about New South Wales?
– I have chosen Victoria because it is more comparable with
Western Australia than is New South Wales in population, areas under cultivation and workers on the land. The value of the production of all industries, secondary and rural, was £137 2s. 8d. per head of population in Victoria, and £135 7s. per head of population in Western Australia. The per capita production of the latter State, with practically no secondary industries, was only £2 less than that of the highly industrialized State of Victoria. In 1948-49, the population of Victoria was 2,220,113, and that of Western Australia was only 565,518. The rural population of Victoria was 592,998, and that of Western Australia was only 175,171. Those figures show which of those two States contributes most to the national economy of this country per head of its population. That is the basis upon which the Commonwealth should decide what assistance shall be given to the States. On that basis, the grants made to Western Australia would nearly exhaust the coffers of the federal treasury.
It is gratifying to know that the Commonwealth Grants Commission, in assessing the assistance that should be given to Western Australia, took into consideration the loss which that State suffered as the result of the extended railway strike that occurred early this year. It was only right that the commission should take that into consideration, because Western Australia ha* a remarkable record of industrial peace. Unfortunately, it was infected this year by a disastrous bug from the eastern States. It is only fair that, as the infection has spread from the eastern States to the western coast, those States should bear some of the loss that Western Australia incurred as a result of that unfortunate strike. There is only one way in which we can vaccinate ourselves against the bug. If that course were followed, I am afraid that the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) would be one of the wogs that would be eliminated.
The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) referred to the necessity to develop the north-west of Australia. In that matter, I agree with the honorable member for Melbourne, not with the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr.
Beazley). It is necessary to do something to develop the north-west of this continent. That development can be achieved only with a substantial degree of assistance from the Commonwealth, but Western Australia is not prepared to pay the price for it that the Commonwealth apparently wants it to pay. It is not prepared to cede that territory to the Commonwealth. I am not referring particularly to this Government or to any other government. I am talking of the attitude that has been adopted by the Commonwealth to requests for assistance for the development of the north-west of Western Australia over a long period of years. We are not happy about what the Commonwealth has done in the past in the territory over which it has control. We fear that what has happened in that territory might happen in the north-west of Western Australia if it were under Commonwealth control. That area can be developed only with Commonwealth assistance, but I repeat that Western Australia is not prepared to pay the price for the assistance that the Commonwealth desires and will not agree to cede the territory.
The honorable member for Fremantle suggested that Western Australia has been able to make progress only as the result of windfalls. That may be so in connexion with gold-mining and with other industrial developments of that kind. But if the honorable gentleman analyses the statistics relating to development of Western Australia throughout its history, he will discover that steady progress has been made. Each year, the position has been better than it was in the previous year. That progress has been achieved by the persistent efforts of our pioneers and settlers who, working in the face of great difficulties, have overcome many problems. They have received but little encouragement or assistance. I do not blame the Commonwealth for that entirely. Western Australia is so far away from the other States that it has been left to carry on to the best of its ability. The old maxim “ Out of sight, out of mind “ applied to it. Its ability to carry on was great. Otherwise, I should not be standing here to-night, giving the House a factual account of the remarkable contribution that Western Australia has made to the economy of this country - a contribution that entitles it to a fair and reasonable grant to enable it to meet the cost of providing social services and public amenities. I support, the bill.
– T am astonished at the speech that has been delivered by the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie). This is a noncontentious measure. It proposes that a sum of £15,934,000 shall be paid to the claimant States, which are South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. The speakers who preceded the honorable member for Moore were the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) and the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin). Each of them represents a claimant State. They discussed this matter on a higher plane. They realize that the money which It is proposed shall be paid to the claimant States will come from the general revenues of the Commonwealth. They know that most of that revenue is derived from the larger States - New South Wales and Victoria. As they pointed out, such bills as this actually represent a desirable spirit of co-operation between the States, and I have pleasure, as one who comes from one of the larger States, to express our appreciation of the fact that development is being carried out in the smaller States and also our recognition of the problems and difficulties of those States. We are pleased that this money is being granted by the Commonwealth’ to the smaller States in order to assist in their development. However, the honorable member for Moore did not approach the matter on that plane. He endeavoured, instead, to arouse State rivalries. He made what was really an astounding attack on both New South Wales and Victoria. I do not propose to be drawn into such controversies except to say that his statement that Western Australia is almost an earthly paradise seems to me to be a good argument in favour of a case that Western Australia is already so prosperous that it is really not entitled to a grant ; rather should the money go to the unfortunate larger States, Victoria and New South Wales, and Western Aus- tralia should contribute to such grants to them. However, we do not wish to enter the field of State rivalry. The debates on this bill and the similar bills presented each year are, after all, among the few instances when we have noncontentious matters before us. We should, therefore, deal with the bill as Australians and not as residents of particular States.
I also refuse to be drawn aside by the political note with which the honorable member for Moore commenced his speech. He quoted from the excellent nineteenth report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, selecting from it certain extracts that suited his purpose which he used to support his argument that the economic and financial policies of the Government were desirable, wise and had achieved good results. I could join issue with him on that matter and devote the rest of my speaking time to a refutation of his arguments and to a consideration of the economic and financial policies of the Government. If I wished I could remind the honorable member of the fact that when the Government took office.it had made certain specific promises to the people. It had promised to reduce taxation, check inflation and put value back in the £1. I could go into details of its failure to honour those promises. 1 could also give details of the Government’s savage increases of taxes, both direct and indirect, and prove that it has failed to check inflation and that prices are still rising. I could show, in addition, that the Government, as a result of its policy of credit restrictions and similar policies, has produced a deflationary condition, so that the national economy is in the astounding position of being afflicted with, on the one hand, inflation, with prices and costs rising, and, on the other, with deflation, which is causing general economic dislocation. I could develop that argument if I wished by showing that whereas two years ago there was confidence among the people there is no longer confidence, but there is, instead, hesitation and concern about the future. I do not propose, however, to be drawn off on to those side issues by the statements of the honorable member for Moore. I shall deal, instead, with the matters raised by the bill.
The bill provides for a grant of £15,934,000 to the three claimant States, South Australia, “Western Australia and Tasmania. This money is to be paid under section 96 of the Constitution, which provides as follows : -
During a period of ten years after the establishment of the Commonwealth and thereafter until Parliament otherwise provides, the Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.
That section of the Constitution has not been altered since its inception. Under it the claimant States have applied, right from the beginning of federation, for special grants which, they claimed would provide compensation for what they described as the “ unequal incidence “ of federation. The honorable member for Fremantle discussed this aspect of the matter lucidly, and pointed out that at the time of federation, the Commonwealth adopted a uniform protective tariff that imposed disabilities on agricultural States, which are the smaller and claimant States. The grants were made yearly, until 1933, by the Parliament. They were not based on any definite principle, but were hand-to-mouth. The result was that the States were not able to plan ahead or make definite commitments for the future, because they did not know the exact amount of the grants they would be allotted. It was not until the establishment of the Commonwealth Grants Commission in 1933 that the grants were put on a proper basis.
It is significant that the recommendations of the commission are among the few matters brought before this Parliament in relation to which there is almost complete unanimity on both sides of the House. A bill similar to this one comes before us each year and is invariably passed with the support of the Opposition of the day, because it is generally recognized that the Commonwealth Grants Commission has done a really good job. It works in such a way that it is not possible to question its findings and, in fact, the claimant States, which receive the money, and the other States, which make contributions towards the grants indirectly, do not query the commission’s findings. The commission’s work has been such a great success that I believe its function and «f.ope should be widely extended. tfr. TP. 3f. Bourke.
The attitude to the commission’s recommendations of all the parties concerned is in violent contrast to other aspects of the financial relationships between the Commonwealth and the States. As the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) pointed OUt the Australian Loan Council will meet in Canberra to-morrow. That body was established under the Constitution to determine the loan policies of the States and the Commonwealth. When it meets each year we find constant bickering between the States and the Commonwealth, or among the States themselves. There is a constant tussle, with each State trying to gain some advantage at the expense of the others. The same remark applies to the income tax reimbursements which are dealt with under a formula, and are invariably a subject of acrid discussion at the yearly conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers. Those reimbursements are the greatest of the grants that the Commonwealth makes to the States, and are made as compensation for the surrender, by the States in 1942, of their right to levy income tax. The States ask for more money than the Commonwealth offers, and we have this unseemly bickering, which should not take place because, after all, we are all Australians, no matter from which State we may come, and we all wish the federal system to function effectively and efficiently. Constant squabbles over vital financial matters do not contribute to the successful and efficient operation of the system.
A consideration of the whole unsatisfactory state of Commonwealth and State financial relationships leads us to examine the workings of the Commonwealth Grants Commission and to realize that in one minor sphere, at least, of the financial relationships between the Commonwealth and the States, we have a system that works satisfactorily. Like the honorable member for Kingston I should like to pay tribute to this fine nineteenth annual report of the commission that was tabled recently. The commission consists of Mr. A. A. Fitzgerald, who is chairman, and Professor Gordon Wood and the honorable J. Kenneally. It has an expert staff, and examines all the economic and financial facts, not merely regarding the three claimant States, but also regarding all States. It considers all their problems, their sources of revenue and fields of expenditure, and the economic problems that they have to face in order to function effectively. The facts are set out in a fine and easily readable style in the annual report, which constitutes a splendid summary of the economic position of the Commonwealth. The people responsible for this wonderful report deserve great credit.
I turn now to a most significant fact. When this commission is determining the amount of the grants that should be paid to the claimant States, it works according to a definite principle, and not on the hand-to-mouth basis that characterizes the relationships between the Commonwealth and States in other aspects of finance. At page 53 of the report, in chapter IV., the commission sets out the principles on which it works in determining how much money shall be made available each year to the claimant States. It states -
During the initial period of its work the commission considered compensation for disabilities arising from federation as a possible basis upon which its recommendations should he made.
That was the principle that I previously mentioned with respect to disabilities that arose mainly from the fact that the Commonwealth’s protective tariff had imposed hardships on these States. The report continues -
It considered also the basis of financial need. In its Third Report (1936) the commission finally rejected compensation for disabilities arising from federation as a basis, and chose instead the principle of financial need, which it expressed in the following terms: -
The report then quotes a well-known passage from its 1936 report that is frequently quoted as being the basis on which it recommends the amounts of the various grants. The passage reads -
Special grants are justified when a State through financial stress from any cause is unable efficiently to discharge its functions as a member of the federation and should be determined by the amount of help found necessary to make it possible for that State, by reasonable effort, to function at a standard not appreciably below that of other States.
The report continues -
Since then, this principle has remained unaltered as the basis on which the commission’s recommendations have been made; but, from time to time, methods of applying the principle have had to be adapted to changed circumstances.
Based on that definite and clearly stated principle the work of this commission has proved so satisfactory that, as I have said, its recommendations are not queried in this Parliament. They are normally accepted by both sides of the House and by the claimant States, I place before the House for its consideration the proposal that since the work of the Commission represents something that operates smoothly and satisfactorily, we should consider extending its methods of determining the financial relationships between the Commonwealth and the States over the whole sphere, if possible, of such financial relationships. Admittedly the amount of money that is paid to the States under this provision is only a small proportion of the total amount paid to them by the Commonwealth each year.
I was rather astonished, on looking at the figures in appendix 17 of the report, to see that in the financial year 1950-51, the Commonwealth paid to all the States a total sum of £173,923,000 under a considerable number of headings. Of that total, the most substantial amount was £90,107,000, which constituted the income tax reimbursement to the six States. The next largest item was the grant of £21,810,000 made to the States for housing. The next biggest grant was £17,231,000, which was provided as assistance for the relief of primary producers. The next biggest payment was grants of federal aid for’ roads and works, amounting to £14,143,000. The fifth highest amountand well down on the list - was £12,175,000, being special grants under section 96 of the Constitution. Those are the grants that the House is now considering. The amount is to be increased this year to £15,934,000.
From those figures, the House will see that the amount of grants under section 96 of the Constitution comprises an inconsiderable proportion of the total amount of money paid by the Commonwealth to the States each year. Looking at the amounts paid each year, as set out in this statistical table, I find that the special grants under section 96 have been getting proportionately less and less since 1942, when the taxation reimbursements commenced. In 1942, the special grants amounted to only £2,175,000 out of a total sum of £45,107,000, whereas in 1950-51 the special grants had increased to £12,000,000, but the figure corresponding to £45,000,000 had risen to £175,000,000. Perhaps I have cited too many figures, because they are rather dry fare, yet they are revealing, and I have given them in order to stress the point that I am making.
Although the sphere of operations in which the Commonwealth Grants Commission is working is only a minor sector of the whole sphere of Commonwealth grants to the States, the system in the minor sector is working so satisfactorily that we should consider extending the work of the commission to cover the whole field of Commonwealth payments to the States.
When we examine our federal system and the general chaotic financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States, we must reflect upon the fact that the unsatisfactory position is, perhaps, one symptom of a general breakdown of federation in Australia. There is no doubt that the federal system which the fathers of the Constitution envisaged, and upon which the voters of this country gave their decision when they supported federation, was something entirely different from what has developed to-day. Under our Constitution, we have a division of responsibilities. That is necessary in a federal sphere. But if the federal system is to function satisfactorily, there must be, in addition to the division of responsibilities, financial independence of the partners to the federal pact, so that each partner will have sufficient revenue under its control in order to carry out its responsibilities.
When we examine the present position, we must come to the conclusion that the whole centre of gravity of our constitutional set-up has changed in favour of a dominant Commonwealth. The States, instead of being sovereign in their own sphere and handling their own moneys, are not independent, but are really mendicants, relying upon doles or hand-outs in order to carry out their responsibilities. What are the reasons for this general change that has taken place in our constitutional set-up ? There seem to be two factors why federation has tended to break down in this respect. In the first place, the general march of events has meant that the responsibilities of the Commonwealth partner in the federation have increased tremendously. There have been two world wars with all the accompanying problems of defence and repatriation ; the development of our status in the sphere of international affairs ; the growth of commerce and industry; the development of our country as a great trading and industrial nation; the building up of a programme of social security ; the introduction of an immigration policy; and great progress in development. All those things have meant that the responsibilities of the Commonwealth ha ve increased tremendously, and, accordingly, the income of the Commonwealth, of necessity, has had to expand in order that it may carry on those greatly increased responsibilities.
In the second place, quite apart from this general development in the responsibilities of the Commonwealth, there is the fact that the constitution itself was weighted against the States from the beginning of federation. It is interesting to note that Alfred Deakin, one of the statesmen who played a prominent part in the founding of the Commonwealth, predicted that this state of affairs would come about. He pointed out in an article which was published in the English Morning Post in 1902 -
The rights of the self-governing States have been fondly supposed to be safeguarded by the constitution. It left them legally free but financially bound to the chariot wheels of the central Government. Their need will be its opportunity.
Those words have proved to be truly prophetic, because the financial powers of the States under the Constitution were permanently limited, and whereas limitations were also placed upon the financial powers of the Commonwealth in order to protect the States, those limitations were only of a temporary nature. The Commonwealth has succeeded, in the passage of the years, in getting rid of them, so that it has been able gradually to achieve the completely dominant position in financial affairs which it now occupies. Section 86 of the Constitution provides that the collection and control of duties of customs and excise shall belong exclusively to the Government of the Commonwealth. Duties of customs and excise were the main sources of revenue of governments in those days, but the States were permanently excluded from them. Other sections of the Constitution provided that although the States could no longer collect duties of customs and excise, the Commonwealth should reimburse them with a considerable portion of its collections from that source. For example, section 94 provides -
After live years from the imposition of uniform duties of Customs, the Parliament may provide, on such basis as it deems fair, for the monthly payment to the several States of all surplus revenue of the Commonwealth.
That is quite a specific section whereby the States would have been entitled to receive the surplus revenue of the Commonwealth. That section became a dead letter, when the High Court of Australia held that the payments by the Commonwealth to trust accounts, under the Commonwealth Audit Act, of moneys appropriated by law for the purposes of the Commonwealth were considered to be expenditure, and thus not surplus revenue to be distributed among the States. So the States were deprived of that potential source of revenue at an early stage of our constitutional development. Section 87 of the Constitution - the famous Braddon clause - provides -
During a period of ten years after the establishment of the Commonwealth and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides of the net revenue of the Commonwealth from duties of customs, and of excise not more than one-fourth shall be applied annually by the Commonwealth towards its expenditure. The balance, shall, in accordance with this Constitution, lie paid to the several States, or applied towards the payment of interest on debts of the several States taken over by the Commonwealth.
That section was intended to be the basis whereby the States would receive a considerable amount of revenue from the Commonwealth. It was a serious limitation upon the financial powers of the Commonwealth ; but it was limited in duration. It was to last for only ten years. At the expiration of that period, the Parliament exercised its power under this section, and promptly provided for the discontinuance of such a state of affairs. The Parliament substituted a new system under the Surplus Revenue Act of 1910, whereby the States were paid an amount of 25s. for each member of its population each year. That system continued until 1927 as the basis of Commonwealth reimbursements to the States. So, in the sphere of excise and customs, the powers of the States were definitely and permanently taken from them. Certain serious limitations which were placed upon the powers of the Commonwealth were only temporary, and, in the course of years, the Commonwealth succeeded in getting rid of them.
The Constitution provided that the Commonwealth should have concurrent rights of taxation with the States. Again, over the course of years, the Commonwealth gradually began to exercise those rights, and impose taxation in a number of directions. Section 109 of the Constitution provides -
When a law of a State is inconsistent with a law of the Commonwealth, the latter shall prevail, and the former shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be invalid.
The result was that when the Commonwealth entered the taxation field, the States, for all practical purposes, were forced out of it. The Commonwealth imposed new forms of taxation, such as the land tax-
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The purpose of this bill is to provide sums amounting to £15,934,000 for the financial assistance of South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania. When the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) presented his budget to the Parliament on the 6th August last, he estimated that these grants would amount to £10,522,000. So the actual amount exceeds the estimate by £5,412,000. I merely mention that point in order to indicate that “ the best laid schemes o’ mice and men gang aft a-gley”. Every additional £5,000,000 that the Treasurer has to provide will make it the more difficult for him to achieve the results that he hopes to gain from his budget.
I wish to join with other honorable members in extolling the work of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Over the years, it has done its job very well, and as the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke) has remarked, it has performed its duties in a scientific way, and excluded all thoughts of politics. Although it has been watching the political repercussions of its proposals, its decisions have been taken on the basis of actual facts that have to be faced by each of the three States concerned. There is no necessity to repeat the conditions, laid down in the legislation that set up the Commonwealth Grants Commission, under which the States may be given assistance by the Commonwealth. Section 96 of the Constitution makes provision for Commonwealth grants to the States and, as the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) pointed out, this provision will survive the new policy of returning taxing powers to the States. It has been suggested by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke) that it would be wise if, instead of dealing with the financial relationships of the Commonwealth and the States through the political machinery of the Australian Loan Council or through the financial agreements, we were to use the machinery of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Under present arrangements the Loan Council supersedes the States and the Commonwealth and both lose their financial sovereignty to the extent that they can do only what all of them together want to do. The principles of finance followed by the Loan Council cannot be decided administratively as in the case of the Grants Commission, but must be decided on the highest possible political level, and although honorable members have disparaged political decisions, financial decisions such as I have been mentioning can never be other than political decisions. “We complain frequently that instead of making business decisions the Government makes political decisions. I point out to honorable members that no decisions can be made in politics other than, political decisions. Of course, business matters and other matters can be con- sidered in reaching a conclusion, but the conclusion itself must be of a political nature. Governments have created the Australian Loan Council; they have signed financial agreements and they have created the Commonwealth Grants Commission. It has become a tradition that the Parliament should accept the decisions of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, and at present it would be difficult to go behind the decisions of that body when trying to reach a conclusion as to the amounts that should be provided to the States under section 96 of the Constitution. However, in our search for abstract justice and in order to keep our governmental machinery working smoothly and easily, and in trying to remove obstacles from our path, we frequently depart from principles that we should follow. Created institutions tend to become Frankenstein monsters and slip away completely from our control. In considering this matter, it is well to remember how much we tie the hands of the Parliament. For example there has been some controversy about whether the Australian Government should intervene in our arbitration court about matters that affect the economy of the whole of the nation. The Parliament has woven a kind of sanctity around it institutions, and they are throttling us. We are lost within the maze of institutions that we have created, and yet we are constantly trying to create more institutions of the same kind. Therefore, I warn the honorable member for Fawkner that when he is seeking in a facile way for an analogy with the working of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, and is applying that analogy to the working of the Loan Council and the financial agreement he is advocating the destruction of the whole basis of parliamentary government. If we are to bo governed by a democratic parliament, we must not subordinate the whole of the activities of the Parliament in any given direction to a created institution. Yet that is what we are tending to do.
I challenge the validity of the whole approach to State financial assistance that has been adopted by the Commonwealth Grants Commission. It is true that the framers of the Constitution did not lay down any conditions under which grants to the States were to be made; it merely indicated that they were to be made from time to time as the Parliament might decide. That left the Parliament completely free. In the beginning, we had to persuade Western Australia to enter the federation of the States, and to do so we had to provide certain inducements that otherwise would not have been made available. Then we decided to investigate year by year the applications for assistance made by Western Australia, as that State was suffering from disabilities which it had not expected when it had to some extent been cajoled into joining the federation in 1900. That policy of making special investigations was carried on, sometimes by parliamentary public accounts committees and sometimes by parliamentary select committees, but there was always some body available to consider whether the claims of Western Australia, and later South Australia and Tasmania, were legitimate. Therefore, a tendency grew up for the whole matter of Commonwealth and State financial relationships to be coloured by politics, and there was a considerable difference of opinion as to whether the amounts recommended were sufficient according to the conditions within the States. Subsequently we hit upon the device of the Commonwealth Grants Commission to make these investigations for us. The Commonwealth Grants Commission set out upon its investigations with the old notion of compensating for disabilities, ft tried to place the smaller States on the same basis as the more prosperous ones. Then it discovered that that was not the soundest way to deal with the matter, and it decided to try to provide the States with the money that would enable them to enjoy the services and amenities that were enjoyed by the move prosperous States.
Whenever I consider the attempts that have been made to provide uniform conditions throughout Australia, my ire is aroused. A system that acquiesces in uniform galvanized iron sheds throughout Australia, a uniform education system, a uniform basic wage, uniform social services and uniform everything else cannot be other than destructive of the whole cultural life of our country. A system of thought has grown up that would tag everybody with the same label and ensure that they will all say the same things at the same time in the same places and ih the same way. God forbid that we should try to continue this process, and create more agencies to produce these uniform conditions. I do not want to see an Australia in which every one is raised to the same level and given things because somebody else has them. People should be set back on their own resources. The resources of the smaller States are less than those of the eastern States, but the only way that we shall ever progress is by setting all the States back on their haunches and making them responsible for their own methods and systems. That will make them do things in their own way. If these States are to be told what to do by the Commonwealth Grants Commission or some other instrumentality, we shall reduce ourselves to a stalemate and we shall never be able to get away from the dull level of uniformity which is destroying enterprise and cultivating mediocrity throughout Australia. Therefore, while I do not oppose the measure, I want to challenge the whole principle underlying it.
This measure brings up again the necessity for a re-examination of the whole federal system in Australia. It is true that that system is not working satisfactorily, and that some suggestion has been made that we should deal with this matter of financial resources when we deal with the arrangements for a» alteration of the uniform taxation system. The Commonwealth Grants Commission’s activities in relation to the States produces a condition in which we give each State the amount of money that it requires to bring it up to a certain level which has no connexion with its own resources. I hope that instead of these amounts being arrived at in this way we shall devise a system under which we shall be able to examine all the activities of the States, as well as those of the Commonwealth, and consider whether a fresh distribution of functions, as well as the distribution of resources, will carry out our objectives. Consequently, I make a plea for a constitutional convention to consider the whole problem of distributing functions and resources. Because the present activity of the Commonwealth Grants Commission will continue when uniform taxation has been abandoned it seems to be vital that we should look at this suggested fresh basis in its effect upon special grants to the three States. This matter is linked with the development of our sparsely populated areas. It is abundantly clear that one of the reforms that will have to be made will be a revision of the areas which are called States. The areas of Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and New South Wales will have to be re-examined to ascertain whether they are the most suitable areas for the most efficient and economical government and development. I am satisfied that these areas are entirely unsuited for the efficient development and advancement of their industries. The only course open to us is to create additional States. Perhaps we shall have to put aside certain areas to be Commonwealth territories, but that might be a bad thing because the farther territories are from Canberra the less they will be considered by the Government, as has already been demonstrated. Perhaps the sparsely populated areas that I have mentioned will have to be made dependent upon the new States. The activities of the Commonwealth Grants Commission present a challenge to us to consider not only whether the objectives of the Commonwealth Grants Commission are sound, but also to consider the resources and functions of the Commonwealth and States and to ascertain whether we can find some way to develop our outlying areas. We cannot afford to leave that development for very much longer. At this stage I support the bill, but I hope that it will oe a challenge to us to consider the whole relationship of the States to the Commonwealth, and I hope that some better system will result from that examination.
– I join issue at once with the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland) and accept his challenge. The honorable gentleman apparently has lost, sight of the fact that this bill represents a method of bringing the weaker States closer to the position of the other
States. He advocated the abolition of the system of making grants to the State j and said that all States should be treated as equal members of the Commonwealth. The effect of his proposal would be to make poor relations of the weaker States. I hope that we shall not allow ourselves to be misled into making such a decision. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke) traced the history of States grants and explained how the States first relinquished to the Commonwealth the right to collect customs duties and how, as the Commonwealth encroached on the revenue-raising preserves of the States, provision had to be made for the compensation of the States. The gradual evolution of this system has brought about a state of affairs in which the three poorer States are better treated than ever before in the history of federation. Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania receive a fair deal from the Commonwealth Grants Commission and would suffer if any other system were adopted.
I am well acquainted with the history of South Australia, particularly during the period that immediately preceded the establishment of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. In those days, the South Australian Government could not provide for the welfare of its people as efficiently as the governments of other States were able to do. The result was that South Australians had to accept lower standards than prevailed in other States. Education, which is of vital importance to every community, had to be restricted because of the lack of finance. Our primary industries and our great secondary industries all depend for their prosperity upon a sound educational, system, from primary schools to technical colleges and universities. If we want to obtain the best results, we must give the best service that we can to our people. In South Australia, only 22 years ago, the State government was unable to provide adequate education services. Its system of education compared very unfavourably with those of the eastern States. But the situation is vastly different to-day. The Premier and Treasurer of South Australia presented his budget to the Parliament of that
State to-day. I have not had an opportunity to study it, but I heard a radio news item this evening which reported that the Premier would endeavour to develop South Australia’s uranium deposits to the best advantage as quickly as possible. Much money will have to be expended on development and research for this purpose, and there will not be any direct financial return from that expenditure.
The grants for which this bill provides are not intended to take the place of loan money. The Commonwealth Grants Commission considers the applications of the claimant States in the light of the information that the Treasurers of those States supply to it. Tt compares their budget proposals with the plans of the other States before it rnakes its decisions. Therefore, the claimant States must take cognizance of the economic policies of the other States. South Australia, for example, was obliged recently to increase railway fares and freight charges. The Commonwealth Grants Commission took into account the charges made by the railways services of other States and decided that South Australia was not charging enough for the services that it provided. The State has been compelled to increase its rail charges on two or three occasions for this reason. Notwithstanding the increases, most of the money that will be paid to South Australia under this bill will be used in connexion with rail services. The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) referred to the high costs of the railways service in Western Australia and the great loss that had been sustained by that service as a result of a strike this year. Transport costs have increased considerably in all States in recent years. These costs impose the most severe of all the demands that are made upon the financial resources of State governments. The Government of New South Wales, for example, would be in a much happier economic situation if it could eliminate the loss on its railways system. South Australia has been very hard hit by increased transport costs.
South Australians arc proud of the fact that they have developed a comprehensive and efficient education system. That development would not have been possible if the State had not received financial assistance regularly from the Commonwealth on the recommendation of tha Commonwealth Grants Commission-.. Without such grants, the South Australian Treasurer this year would havebeen obliged to prune many millions of.’ pounds off his estimates of expenditure. If the States of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania were thrown on their own resources, as the honorable member for Warringah has suggested, they could not continue to provide the ordinary services of State governments. Reference has been made to the meeting of the Australian Loan Council to-morrow at which the subject of interest rates will be discussed. Interest rates are of great importance to the Government of South Australia, which is committed to considerable expenditure in order to maintain interest payments on loans that it has raised. Any increase of the interest rate on loans must involve the State Government in heavier costs with the result that it will need largergrants. Although I disagree with the proposal by the honorable member for Warringah to throw the States on their own resources, I ag:ec with him that a convention should be called in order to thrash out problems of government finance. The problems of Commonwealth anc! State financial relations will be aggravated if the uniform tax system is abolished and the States regain their former taxing powers. The Commonwealth Government will make the first claim on the taxpayers, of course, and I arn sure that the result will be that the taxpayers will be called upon to pay more than they pay under the present system. I acknowledge that this is only supposition, but we can only base our forecasts on supposition reinforced by our knowledge of conditions in the fields of Commonwealth and State finance. If the uniform tax system is abolished, the need for a convention to examine problems of finance will become even more urgent than it is to-day.
The bill provides for a grant to South Australia of £6,343,000. However, an excess payment that was made two years ago will have to be recouped, and the giant will be reduced by that amount.
The sum of £6,343,000 represents the estimated requirements of the State Government for the current year if it is to balance its budget. Time will tell whether the estimate is accurate. Perhaps larger grants will be necessary in future years, or the demands of the State may be reduced. We claim that Australia has made great advances during the last twenty years. We are not so dependent upon the Mother Country for defence and economic aid as we were formerly. In our new state of independence, we must be extremely careful not to weaken any of the six States, because our strength depends upon our weakest link. We should treat this bill as a nonparty measure. Our object should be to safeguard the interests of the whole nation and to try to foster a broader and more lively Australian spirit amongst the people so that Australia may have a bright and prosperous future. This measure contains the true spirit of federation. The States belong to a single nation, and they should be placed on an equal footing. I support the bill.
– I support the bill. This debate affords an opportunity to honorable members to discuss the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland) repeated the interesting suggestion, which is very close to his heart, that a federal convention should be called to examine these relations. The honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) made issue with him, but I think that he entirely misunderstood the suggestion of the honorable member for Warringah. The system of making special grants to the States which, apparently, is to be perpetuated, is based on the assumption that many of the things that were done at the time of federation remain right to-day and will remain right for . all time, and that certain superficial mistakes that were made at that time can now be rectified by the application of superficial remedies. The relations between the States and the Commonwealth have changed considerably as a result of changes of conditions that have occurred since federation. The provinces of Canada combined in a federation shortly after the end of the American Civil War, and the fathers of federation in that dominion were principally concerned to ensure that the provinces should be closely bound in the federation. Incidentally, it was originally suggested that the combined provinces should be known as the Kingdom of Canada. The central Government in Canada was vested with very wide powers, financial and otherwise. In Australia, the reverse was the case. Federation took place in this country following a period of peace during which nothing had occurred to alarm the people here; and, in those circumstances, the. States handed over only limited powers to the Commonwealth.
The principal problem that has arisen as a result of federation has not necessarily been the financial relations between the States and the Commonwealth but rather the geographical demarcation of the various States. That observation does not apply to Tasmania, the boundaries of which have been decided, not by man, but by nature. The State of Victoria has been very fortunately placed in that the greater part of it consists of fertile land and has a reasonably high rainfall. In addition, it benefited substantially as a result of the discoveries of gold in 1850. Thus the people of Victoria were able to develop the State comparatively rapidly and to establish a high standard of living. New South Wales, which was the original State, is probably larger than it should be because variations of fertility have given rise to difficult administrative and developmental problems. Whilst pronounced development has taken place in the fertile areas, the development of the State as a whole has been retarded by the necessity to make financial provision for the development of large, dry and sparsely settled areas in its western portions. That observation applies with even greater force to the other States. The fertile lands in Queensland are situated in the coastal belt and in the south-eastern corner. The people in those areas have been called upon to bear the expenditure involved in developing a huge area of country in which population, even under the best conditions, must remain sparse. In South Australia, the population in a limited area of rich land with a fairly high rainfall is responsible for the development of an enormous area which every one, not only in South Australia, but also throughout Australia, urgently hopes to see developed. By far the greater part of Western Australia is dependent upon a great deal of assistance from the population that is centred in the fertile southeastern corner which has a reasonably high rainfall. That population must bear, for instance, the financial burden involved in the provision of transport facilities in the Kimberleys and in the north-western portion.
The suggestion that the honorable member for “Warringah made and which the honorable member for Port Adelaide entirely misunderstood was that in the Commonwealth Grants’ Commission we are perpetuating what he described as a Frankenstein monster. To-day, the commission is assisting in perpetuating the extraordinary unbalanced divisions which we now call States. I exclude from that observation the Northern Territory for which the Commonwealth is directly responsible. “Whilst the development of that part of Australia will suffer from the disability that it must be administered from Canberra, the Northern Territory enjoys the advantage that the Government which is responsible for its development has at its disposal financial resources far greater than it requires for that purpose. At the same time, however, it is purely an accident that that area has become the direct responsibility of the Commonwealth. It would have been much more just and, indeed, more beneficial from the point of view of the development of Australia, as a whole, if the north-western portion of Queensland had been taken over in the same way instead of being dependent for its development upon the assistance that can be made available for that purpose by a population that is confined to the coastal belt in that State and which must necessarily be limited. To-day, that population has the responsibility of financing the provision of roads and railways for the development of that large, dry and sparsely settled area. Again, it would be far more beneficial from the point of view of the development of the Kimberleys and the north-western portion of Western Australia, which constitute practically half of Western Australia, if other means could be evolved for that purpose instead of the rather curious method of making annual grants to the Government of that State, whose population is largely confined in its south-eastern corner and! saying to that Government, in effect,. “ You must deny yourself the right toexpend this money which we give to you” as compensation in respect of disabilities that you suffered at the time of federation and expend it on the development of the north and north-western portions of your State, the development of which is so vital “.
The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) made one of the most interesting suggestions that have emerged from this debate when he advocated the formation of new States. We require to rid ourselves of the idea that the present State boundaries must remain unaltered for all time. The existence of the Commonwealth Grants Commission tends to cement that permanency. The development of dry, difficult land which involves the provision of roads and railways should be regarded as a job for the Commonwealth as a whole ; and the development of the fertile, high rainfall areas around the fringe of the continent should be regarded as a job that can be done quite comfortably by the concentrated populations which naturally inhabit those areas. Those are some of the thoughts to which this debate has given rise in my mind. I agree entirely with the honorable member for Warringah that we are too prone to set up bodies like the Commonwealth Grants Commission and then permit them to control us. We are content to place upon the populations in fertile areas, apparently for all time, responsibility for the development of much larger and more sparsely settled areas in each of the States, whereas, if Australia is ever to be truly a nation, that should be regarded as being a national job. We shall not get anywhere by relying on a method of making grants to what are known as claimant States on the basis of some curious formula by which money is made available to government’s whose populations are confined in limited fertile areas on the condition that they expend it in the development of the sparsely settled areas under their control. I support the bill.’
Mr. CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh) J 10. 10]. - This bill seeks to authorize the payment of special grants to South Australia, “Western Australia and Tasmania, which are commonly known as the claimant States, and to South Australia it provides for the payment of the sum -of £6,343,000, The commission reported that one of the main reasons for making “these grants is the inflationary conditions which have persisted since 1950-51 up to the present time. According to the commission, those conditions have resulted in a continuance of the upward trend in wages and other costs of government and that the finances of the claimant States have been adversely affected as a consequence. As a representative from South Australia, I must make the shameful admission that the Premier of that State, Mr. Playford, contributed to the development of inflationary conditions as much as any other single individual did and, indeed, more than most. Everybody in South Australia vividly remembers the full-page advertisements that were insorted in the press in that State under the authority of the Liberal party in the course of the referendum campaign in 1948 when the Chifley Government asked the people to give to the National Parliament power to continue prices control on . an Australia-wide basis. A photograph, of Mr. Playford was featured in. all of those advertisements which asked the people to reject the Chifley Government’s proposals and in which the Liberal party promised that if the proposals were defeated the State Government would effectively control prices. Mr. Playford, .when he sponsored that promise, was well aware of the fact that prices ‘could not be effectively controlled by the. States. Their failure to do so is one of the main causes of present inflationary conditions. Since the defeat of those referendum proposals, the Playford Government in South Australia has ceased to control the price of clothing with the result that, to-day, the cost of clothing to the ordinary person is extraordinarily high. That Government also contributed to present inflationary condi tions by removing rent control. In the main, rents are payable to wealthy persons who are the friends of the Liberal party. I suggest that the Commonwealth Grants Commission should have examined the contribution that Mr. Playford made to the present inflationary conditions when it was dealing with this important aspect of the Australian economy as a whole. Paragraph 17 of the commission’s report states -
To counteract the intensified inflationary pressure in Australia, the Commonwealth Government increased taxation on luxury goods and the Commonwealth Bank imposed greater restrictions on advances by. financial institutions.
I invite honorable members to examine that paragraph. I wonder what the commission would have thought had it listened to the budget speech in which the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) announced that the Government had decided, to reduce the taxes on luxury goods. He did not reduce the taxation on goods that are needed in every day life. The Government still imposes a tax of 12£ per cent, on bottling outfits which the ordinary housewife has to use for bottling fruits.
– Order ! I call the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) to order.
– I do not know why you have called me to order.
– Order ! This is not a general debate on taxation.
– I am talking about taxation-
– Order ! The honorable member must get back to the subject that is before the House.
– I am speaking upon a subject that is before the House, and I will not be pushed aside.
– Order! The honorable member will obey the Chair, or I shall have to take steps to enforce my ruling.
– The subject before the House-
– Is State grants.
– I know that it is, and I am reading from the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Surely that is germane to the debate?
– Order! I have no objection to the honorable member reading from the report of the commission, but he must not make this discussion a general debate upon taxation, the budget, and similar matters.
– I am not making it a general debate. I am referring to a section of the commission’s report, which states -
To counteract the intensified inflationary pressure in Australia, ‘ the Commonwealth Government increased taxation on luxury goods.
I was referring to the fact that the Government had lifted the taxes from luxury goods. The commission’s report also stated that “the Commonwealth Bank imposed greater restrictions on advances by financial institutions “. I remind honorable members that the Commonwealth Government has lifted those “ greater restrictions on advances by financial institutions “.
– Order! Will the honorable member state what that has to do with the subject ?
– The commission’s report might have been of a different character—
– Order ! The House is considering the report as it is and not as it might have been.
– It is not possible to make an intelligent contribution to a debate unless one has the right to look at the position as it is and ascertain what the position should be. Honorable members cannot accept every proposition that is put to them in this House as being the acme of perfection. We should not be prevented from making any suggestions other than those that are in the bill before the House. The purpose of debate in this chamber, if I may suggest it with respect, is to enable honorable members to criticize proposals that are put forward.
– Order ! So long as the honorable member obeys the ruling of the Chair, he may continue.
– I shall certainly do that. Paragraph 21 of the commission’s report states -
At 30th June, 1952, the number of factory employees was about 802,000, compared with about 909,000 at the 30th June, 1951.
If the question of employment in the factories is germane to the debate, it is important that honorable members should examine the employment position at present.
– Order! I will not permit a general debate on unemployment on this measure. The honorable member must direct his remarks to the State Grants Bill 1952. He tried earlier to-day to open a general debate upon unemployment and I fear that he is trying to do it again. The honorable member will not be permitted to do so.
– May I ask for a ruling, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker? Am I entitled to direct the attention of the House to the fact that the number of people who are employed at the moment is different from the number of employees who were working when the Commonwealth Grants Commission prepared its report?
– Order ! It has nothing to do with this measure.
– If I am not permitted to comment upon the unemployment position at the moment, I have no alternative but to obey your ruling.
– Order! That is perfectly correct.
– Another aspect of the commission’s report with which I hope that I shall be able to deal is contained in paragraph 28. It draws attention to the alarming decrease in primary production in South Australia and states - lieut production has been below the level nf 1949-50 in South Australia . . . The wheat crops of South Australia . . were slightly less than those of 1950-51. Although average yields were maintained there was a marked decline in acreage in South Australia.
The Government of South Australia is to receive ?6,343,000 from the Australian Government and it should be doing something to foster primary production, but apparently it has done nothing to cope with the needs of the ever increasing population of the State. In fact, two major branches of primary production in South Australia are slipping backwards. Paragraph 34 of the report deals with developmental work. It states -
Thi’ principal items in the South Australian programme were electricity, railways, water supply and irrigation, harbours and forests.
The Liberal Premier of South Australia is notorious for the statements that he is continually making through the Adelaide Advertiser and over the radio network in South Australia promising deep-sea ports, new port installations, irrigation projects, and other works to which the Commonwealth Grants Commission has paid much attention. For four ov five years, Mr. Playford has conducted a continuous campaign in South Australia to try to influence the people in favour of his Government. He engages in propaganda stunts to publicize his claims that he is going to develop the State. ITo has promised a deep-sea port in the south-east of the State. No deep-sea port has even been started. Under banner headlines in the newspapers, Mr. Playford has promised a new port at Port Adelaide and completely new installations there and at Port. Lincoln, but little progress has been made with the installations. He has promised fishing havens costing ?1,000,000 strung along the coast of South Australia, but not one haven has been developed. He has promised the electrification of the metropolitan railways. Not one step has been taken in that direction by the Playford Government. He has promised the extension of the Morgan railway to Waikerie and Barmera. Not a single stone has been turned on that project. He promised to broaden the south-eastern railway but has made very slow progress.
Mr. Playford has promised the standardization of the railways in South Australia, but although the Chifley Government completed an agreement to standardize the lines on the basis of 70 per cent, of the cost to be met by the Australian Government and 30 per cent, by the South Australian Government, nothing has bec:) done.
– The south-east line is nearly finished. It will be completed in a few months.
– Mr. Playford has been saying that for years. 1. remember that before the State elections, he took a large party to Narracoorte to inspect the line part of which was not even ballasted. The roads of South Australia are in a shocking state and this grant of ?6,343,000 is not nearly sufficient to enable the State Government to give attention to the roads.
– (Hon. Archie Cameron). - Order! The question of roads is dealt with under the Federal Aid Roads Agreement.
– I shall refer now to the commission’s report with regard to irrigation, harbours, forests, electricity and railways. In paragraph 34 of the report the commission states that - “ work on the new power station at Port. Augusta proceeded steadily “. It has been proceeding very steadily for years and no current has been produced yet. I daresay that the project will be finished one day, but goodness knows when. Even before that power station has been completed, Mr. Playford has made glowing promises about another station that he will build at Port Augusta. It will be supplementary to the station, the construction of which has been proceeding steadily.
– A proposal for a power station in the north-east is being examined.
– I daresay that it is. That is the trouble in South Australia. Most projects only reach the examination and publicity stage. They are not put into effect. The Playford Government always advances the excuse that it has not enough money to proceed with its grandiose schemes. If the Playford Government ever gave effect to the schemes that it has promised it would want about £60,000,000 and not £6,343,000. The railway system in South Australia is a losing proposition. One of the reasons is that it is not so favorably situated as is Victoria and some of the richer States.
– The railways are not paying in Victoria.
–! did not say that the Victorian railways were paying. I said that the South Australian railways were not so favorably situated as those in other States. The losses could be reduced if the Government would take advantage of the agreement that exists with the Australian Government to standardize the railways. While South Australia continues to have an obsolete railway system, heavy losses are certain. Although the commission has reported that railway charges in South Australia have been increased by 20 per cent. to 25 per cent., the railways are still losing money and the position will not be improved until the railway system is placed upon a sound economic foundation. The commission has also referred to South Australia’s problem of water supply and irrigation. One of the schemes promised to the people of South Australia by Mr. Playford was a water reticulation scheme for the Yorke Peninsula. So far, it is still in the promise stage. The people of South Australia were told also that supplementary supplies of water for the reservoirs in the metropolitan areas would be provided, and that the South Para reservoir at Williamstown would be completed. Work upon that reservoir was commenced, but nearly all of the men engaged upon it have been dismissed. The South Australian Government said that it had to dismiss the men because it had not enough money to carry on with the work, because, according to the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, one of the reasons that the State advanced for being unable to complete some of its developmental works was a shortage of man-power. There is not a shortage of manpower in South Australia to-day. At lea.st 3,000 people in the State are unem ployed. There are 941 people on the dole in South Australia. In those circumstances, what is the use of the South Australian Government telling the commission that it cannot complete developmental schemes because sufficient manpower is not available? Why does not it give to the 941 poor wretches, who are on the dole, an opportunity to work on developmental projects?
The report deals with housing and with hospitals. Mr. Playford told the people of South Australia that his Government would build a new mental hospital, but it has made no effort to do so. That scheme is still in the promise or blueprint stage. The South Australian Government promised that it would embark upon a great war service land settlement scheme. Section 35 of the report of the commission deals with the preparation of land for war service land settlement. All that the South Australian Government has done has been to embark upon a very small, but very good, war service land settlement at Loxton. Ex-servicemen in South Australia are screaming for an opportunity to settle on the land, and there is plenty of good land in the State that could be allotted to them if the South Australian Government were prepared to honour the promises that it has made to exservicemen who have done so much for this country. When Mr. Playford appears before the commission again, he should admit that so far he has spent the whole of his time in hoodwinking the people, and apparently the commission as well. Prior to the Gawler by-election, Mr. Playford promised the people of Gawler that sewerage facilities would be made available to them, but when the Playford Government’s candidate was defeated in that by-election, the scheme was forgotten.
The Playford Government has claimed that it has not enough money available to enable it to undertake all the grandoise schemes about which it makes promises to the people of South Australia, especially when elections are near. In section 32 of the report of the commission, the following passage appears : -
In South Australia, new ventures planned or under investigation included the production of sulphuric acid from pyrites and an expansion of the chemical industry at Whyalla and the motor car industry.
The South Australian Government did not have any difficulty in obtaining money to develop the production of sul’phuric acid from pyrites, but apparently it did not tell the commission that that development is being undertaken, not by it, but by Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. The South Australian Government will have to foot the bill if the project fails. If the project proves to be successful, Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited will reap the benefit from it, but if it fails, the South Australian Government, as the guarantor of the money necessary to develop the scheme, will lose money on the proposition. According to the evidence given before the commission, the South Australian Government can find money to start a chemical industry at Whyalla and to help the motor car industry but, for some reason best known to Mr. Playford, it cannot find money for other schemes about which it has made great promises to the people of South Australia. The time has come when some straight talking is necessary. I hope that on the next occasion when Mr. Playford appears before the Commonwealth Grants Commission;-
– He will still be the Premier of South Australia.
– In that event the commission would have to meet before the next general election in that State. If the commission does not meet again until after that election, Mr. Playford will not have an opportunity to appear before it, because Mr. O’Halloran will bo the Premier of the State. The people of South Australia have realized al last that Mr. Playford makes a lot of foolish promises which he does not intend to honour. They know that he makes those promises for their propaganda value, and he has been trying to hoodwink them. The people of Australia have at last woken up to the Playford Government. Next year, there will be a new government in the State, and the new Premier will be able to present to the Commonwealth Grants Commission a case very different from the phony case that has been presented by Mr. Playford.
.- The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) has made some of his usual irresponsible statements. They are as far from the truth as any statements could be. The tenor of the honorable gentleman’s speech was an attack upon the Premier of .South Australia. Mr. Playford is the finest Premier that this country has ever produced. He has enjoyed the confidence of the people of South Australia for sixteen years, and he will retain it for many years to come. The honorable member for Hindmarsh pointed out that one of the reasons why the grant to South Australia has been increased is because of the present infla/tionary trend. He failed to mention the fact that inflation is in progress throughout Australia, and throughout the world. He had the audacity to say that the inflationary situation in South Australia was caused by the Playford Government. He implied that in South Australia inflation was worse than in any other State. The basic wage is based upon the cost of living, and reflects the degree of inflation that has occurred. The basic wage in South Australia is £11 4s. a week, but in the Labour State of New South Wales it is £11 15s. a week. That proves clearly that the Playford Government has controlled inflation more effectively than has the Labour Government of New South Wales.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh referred to the fact that the Premier of South Australia, advised the people of that State to vote against Commonwealth prices control. They voted overwhelmingly against the proposal to give the Commonwealth power to control prices. If there is any substance in the argument of the. honorable member that there would be less inflation in this country now if power to control prices were in the hands of the Commonwealth, why are prices higher in New South Wales, where a Labour Premier has effective power to control prices, than in South Australia, which has a Liberal Premier? South Australia has kept prices down far better than any other State. The honorable member for Hindmarsh then attempted to discredit his own State by trying to give the impression that there is wholesale unemployment there. Unemployment in South Australia, per head of the population, is lower than it is in any other State. Quite a large percentage of the unemployed have drifted to South Australia from New South Wales and Victoria because they could not find a job under Labour governments. What are the facts about unemployment? The unemployed in South Australia number only 1 per cent, of the working population compared with the average of 8 per cent, which obtained from 1900 to 1940.
– I rise to order. I was about to give the figures in regard to unemployment when Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker said that I was out of order. ls the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) in order in citing these figures?
– I do not think that we arc engaged in a debate on unemployment.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) stated that there was unemployment on a large scale in South Australia for which he blamed the Premier of South Australia. As he was allowed to make that statement surely I should be given the opportunity to state that his facts and figures were entirely incorrect. There is less unemployment in South Australia titan in the other States of the Commonwealth. Each week more and more people are becoming unemployed. It may be said that there is no substantial unemployment in Sou th Australia at present because at all times there is some unemployment which arises from seasonal conditions. The present percentage of unemployed is only one-eighth of the average percentage between 1900 and 1940 and it is actually lower than the figure for iiic last year that the Chifley Government was in power. So if there is wholesale unemployment in South Australia at present, there was more than wholesale unemployment when Labour was in office in this Parliament.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh next dealt, with the clause in the report concerning national development. The report mentioned the development that has occurred in South Australia and the development that has been planned for the future. No State has proceeded faster with its development than South Australia. Production per head of population is higher in South Australia than in any other State of the Commonwealth except Victoria and it is now very close to that of Victoria. That is a great tribute to the Premier of South Australia and his Liberal government because South Australia is very poor in natural resources. It has no high-grade coal. It has great distances and therefore needs extensive road projects. But in spite of the natural deficiencies of coal and water, South Australia has progressed in the last ten years faster than any other State and its productivity per head of population will soon be the highest in the Commonwealth.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh then proceeded to deal with the railways. He suggested that Mr. Playford had not kept his promise concerning railway development and that nothing was being done to develop the railways in South Australia. Again, the honorable member was far from the facts. The south-east line, which is being built to one of the most valuable parts of the State, has almost been completed. Perhaps the honorable member may have the privilege of riding in the first train that travels on that line when it is opened in a few months.
The honorable member then dealt with the housing situation. He tried to give the impression that housing was in the doldrums in South Australia. The facts are that last year more houses were erected in South Australia than in any year in its history. More houses are now under construction than at any time in iiic history of South Australia. The number of applications for permits to build new houses is an all-time record. With a record number of houses erected last year, a record number of houses under construction and a record number nf applicants for permits to build, how can the honorable member truthfully say that anything is wrong with the housing situation in South Australia? South Australia is still building brick homes for £200 and £300 less than they are built elsewhere in the Commonwealth. Rents are the lowest, in Australia and the best types of houses are constructed. The honorable member’s attack did a disservice, not only to his State, but to himself. All thinking people in South Australia have faith and confidence in their own State. Since the days of the depression we have decided to develop our State, and overcome our national deficiencies. We have taken water where there was no water. We have developed the very inferior coal-field Leigh Creek and can now provide a large part of our own power requirements from Leigh Creek coal-field.
The honorable member then proceeded to criticize the Mannum pipe-line which has been developed as fast as the material and labour available would permit. The honorable member also dealt with the South Para reservoir and suggested that all work had ceased there. That suggestion is entirely incorrect. When the Premier of South Australia attended the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers he was disappointed, as the other Premiers were disappointed, because insufficient loan money was available to carry out all the loan and developmental works that he wanted to undertake. But he did not go back to his State and sack men. He said that not one man would be sacked and not one man has been sacked by the State Government. It is true that where retrenchments have been necessary the natural wastage of staff has not been replaced. But the Premier gave confidence to the people of South Australia. He did not intend to allow a depression to develop in his State. He said that State works would continue and that the men engaged on them would continue to be employed. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has tried to create a similar psychological attitude to dismissals and depression to that created in New South Wales by the Labour Premier, with the result that the people have lost confidence in the New South Wales Government. That Government has panicked and dismissed people unnecessarily. It has encouraged the type of calamity-howling in which the honorable member for Hindmarsh has indulged. The kind of remarks that he passed will not do him any good in South Australia. We do not like
Mr. Wilson. calamityhowlers. We have confidence in our State and our Premier. We are going ahead from strength to strength and notwithstanding the calamity-howling of the honorable member and his colleagues we shall continue to maintain full employment in South Australia. We shall continue with our housing programme in South Australia. The honorable member dealt with Radium Hill. We are tremendously proud of the achievements of the South Australian Premier in connexion with Radium Hill. We have the complete confidence of the governments connected with the Atomic Energy Committee. We have also been provided with financial assistance for the development of that great undertaking. South Australia is leading the way among Australian States in relation to atomic energy, and will be producing uranium oxide for atomic energy long before any other State can produce it. Labour governments in the other States have done absolutely nothing about atomic energy. Under Mr. Playford, South Australia is the only State that has got on with the job.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh then spoke about the Port Augusta power house. No undertaking has ever gone ahead more quickly than has that power house, which will use coal mined at Leigh Creek in South Australia, and will provide electricity to the northern areas of the State and supplement Adelaide’s electricity supply.
– Thanks to the Chifley Government !
– Honorable members opposite say that in respect of every achievement of the South Australia Premier about which they cannot be Jeremiahs. They claim that Mr. Playford has achieved his successes because he was forced to undertake projects by Mr. Chifley. Such statements are so foolish that nobody in South Australia would believe them. Then the honorable member criticized the proposal for the production of uranium concentrates at Port Pirie. That undertaking will be another of our great industries which will use uranium ore from Radium Hill, and of which we shall be justly proud. It will probably bo one of the first uranium concentrates plants that -will go into production in this country. Before many years have passed it will he producing atomic energy that will be used for industrial purposes.
The honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin), who usually makes more moderate speeches than those of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, unfortunately developed in his speech this same attitude of depression talk, which is the last thing that should be spoken about in relation to South Australia, because thai, State has an extraordinarily high level of production and an expanding industrial capacity. The honorable member for Hindmarsh made another misstatement when he dealt with the subject of wheat, production. Adopting a completely oneeyed approach to the matter, he said that South Australia’s production of wheal had fallen to an alarming degree. The facts are that its production of wheat ami barley combined is higher this year than it. has been in any previous year, lt is true that, owing to a shortage of superphosphate and to the fact that the price obtainable for barley overseas is higher than the price obtainable for wheat, a great number of farmers have switcher! from wheat-growing to barley-growing. Hut what does that matter? Surely if we can get more money overseas for our barley than we can get for our wheat, it is better to produce and export barley, and so improve our overseas balances. In any event, it was almost impossible for some farmers to produce wheat because of the lack of fertilizers.
The honorable member then proceeded to criticize the Nairne pyrites plant. He chastized the Playford Government for expending money on a sulphuric acid plant which is to do for South Australia, in relation to sulphur, what Leigh Creek has done for it in relation to coal. The pyrites plant will produce pyrites for the purpose of making sulphur, from which will be produced sulphuric acid at Port Adelaide, from which, in turn, superphosphate will be manufactured. As soon as that plant is in production. South Australia will be independent of the rest of Australia, and the rest of the world, in connexion with superphosphate supplies. Yet the honorable member had the effrontery to criticize the Playford Government for the expenditure of money on it. Nairne is only a few miles away from Adelaide and has rich deposits of pyrites that will be taken by rail to Port Adelaide and turned into sulphuric acid.
I whole-heartedly support the bill under which the recommendation of the Commonwealth Grants Commission that a larger grant be paid to South Australia will be adopted. The commission made that recommendation because it realizes that South Australia, its Premier and its Government, have done such a good job that that State is entitled to a larger grant. The grant is paid, in the first place, to offset the disabilities of South Australia, which covers a large area and, therefore, has to build and maintain a great mileage of roads in order to function efficiently, lt is for that reason that South Australia and “Western Australia will receive grants to enable them to maintain the same standards as other States. South Australia has shown that, even with its natural disadvantages, it has been able to achieve the highest production a head of population of any State, with the exception of the small, rich and compact State of Victoria.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Loan (War Service Land Settlement) Bill 1952.
National Welfare Fund Bill 19.”.2.
R E P ATM Aton– Taxation- Fi I. M
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to bring to the notice of the House a serious injustice to certain war widows. In July 1946, an agreement was made between the Australian Government and the British Government under which pensions payable to British war widows residing in Australia and to Australian war widows residing in the United Kingdom, are subject to income tax in those countries. I believe that no war widow should have to pay income tax. Disability pensions are not taxable in Australia, and all war widows’ pensions, with the exception of those paid by the United Kingdom Government, are free of tax. To my mind that exception is a serious injustice. I shall illustrate the anomoly that exists under the present agreement. As honorable members are aware, Burns Philp and Company Limited is an Australian shipping company. For various reasons, one of which is to avoid certain provisions of the Australian articles under the Navigation Act, ships belonging to this company are registered at various overseas ports, one of which is Hong Kong. During World War II. some Burns Philp merchant ships were, sunk by enemy action. Those ships were manned by Australians, and the casualties amongst the crews were heavy. The men concerned were Australian citizens, working under Autralian articles, but merely because the ships were registered in Hong Kong, their Australian widows receive United Kingdom pensions, and because those widows live in Australia, their pensions are taxable. On the other hand, widows of Australian mariners who perished on vessels belonging to the Adelaide Steamship Company Limited or other ships registered in Australia, receive a war widows’ pension free of tax. I know of one pathetic case concerning an Australian family. The husband served on an Australian ship registered in Hong Kong. He lost his life at Singapore. His widow is now living in depressed circumstances in Sydney. She chooses to live in her native land with her family, but because her husband was serving on an Australian ship, registered in Hong Kong, her small widow’s pension is taxable. Apparently nobody wants to tackle this problem. Probably both the Australian Government and the British Government tend to consider it as only a small item in a very large agreement. In the last six years, no effort has been made to correct the injustice. I submit that it is a very serious injustice, and
I urge the Government to approach the United Kingdom authorities with a view to amending the double taxation agreement, or to referring the matter to the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation for investigation and report. If the matter is referred to the committee, I hope that it will not be put aside as an insignificant item in a wide agreement. This is a very real human problem, and it should be tackled immediately. I ask the Government to treat the matter as one of urgency and to do everything possible to have this gross injustice removed.
.- This House has discussed oil monopolies and the attempt by certain British interests to get control of Australian radio stations, and many things have been said about those matters; but I wish tonight briefly to draw the attention of the Government to certain happenings in the film industry in Australia, and to the dangers to Australian interests that have arisen because of attempts by groups of distributors to harm the owners of a number of picture theatres throughout Australia who belong to what is called the Independent Group. In the United States pf America quite recently, a successful attempt was made by the Federal Government to destroy a monopoly which had gained control of film producers, distributors and exhibitors. In that country now, those three branches of the film industry live side by side, and no one group can control either of the other two. Unfortunately in Australia one or two American interests are attempting, by unfair practices, to place the owners of independent theatres at a great disadvantage. One group of distributors has gone from strength to strength, buying up small independent theatres. By releasing in its suburban theatres films that are showing currently in the city theatres, this group is able to obtain an advantage over independent theatre owners in the same suburbs. The result is that more and more independent exhibitors who have helped to build the industry in this country, are being squeezed out of business. I suggest that the Government should do what has been done in the United States of America. It should make it clear that no distributors shall have the right to buy up theatres and act also as exhibitors. If we do not take some action, all our independent exhibitors will be put out of business, and groups of foreign distributors will control the exhibiting of Australian films.
– How could the Commonwealth prevent that?
– Action has been taken in America, of course, under the Sherman anti-trust laws. I believe that the Australian Government could, under its customs powers, let it be known clearly that it will not sanction the acquisition of theatres by distributing companies. The company that is attempting to do that is Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Proprietary Limited. Warner Brothers and Paramount Pictures Incorporated may be inclined to do it if they get half a chance. There are two big groups in this country, Hoyts Theatres Limited and Greater Union Theatres Proprietary Limited. The ordinary capital of Hoyts Theatres Limited is owned by Twentieth Century Fox of America. The preference shares are owned in Australia. The whole control of Hoyts Theatres Limited is in the hands of American shareholders. I have no complaint about that company. It is not guilty of this sort of thing and it is doing a good service to the Australian people. Greater Union Theatres Limited is owned partly by Australian capital and partly by English capital. I think that the J. Arthur Bank organization owns at least 50 per cent, of the interests in Greater Union Theatres Limited. Those theatres are exhibitors; they are not distributors.
– Yes, they are.
– Well, perhaps they are to a minor degree, but they do not distribute in the way that MetroGoldwynMayer Proprietary Limited distributes, and they do not huy up groups of theatres and exhibit their latest films in a manner that is quite unfair to the independent theatres which are nearby. It would be a good thing if we could keep the exhibitors and the distributors distinct. We have few film producers. Most of them are having a thin time. I wish we had as much film production in this country as there is in America. Prob ably some day we shall be in that position. I direct attention to this matter because some independent theatre proprietors in Sydney and Melbourne have mentioned it to me from time to time, and I have felt that some action should be taken upon it. I am not suggesting that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Proprietary Limited is doing anything unfair under the existing law. It is entitled to do these things at the present time, but there is something unethical about its conduct, which is unfair to the people who built these little picture theatres and give entertainment to the Australian people. They should not be forced out of business by methods that are not tolerated in the United States of America to-day. Similar happenings should not be permitted to continue in this country.
.- I was interested in the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell). An attempt has been made, perhaps not deliberately, to convey the impression to the House that Greater Union Theatres Limited is a very virtuous company, whereas MetroGoldwynMayer Proprietary Limited is the company that is principally responsible for the control of, not only the distribution of films, but also the exhibition of films. That is grossly untrue, and I shall inform the House of the situation.
The position with respect to MetroGoldwynMayer Proprietary Limited developed in the 1930’s, when an attempt was made by several exhibiting and distributing organizations to freeze it out of the business. Fox Films Corporation (Australia) Proprietary Limited, through Hoyts Theatres Limited, contributed substantially to this attempt and refused to buy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer films. Greater Union Theatres Limited, of which Senator Armstrong, who is a senior member of the Parliamentary Labour party, is a director, also contributed to this attempt. There is a distributing organization which is a subsidiary company of Greater Union Theatres Limited that was known originally as Union Theatres Feature Exchange, and later as British Empire Films Limited, and still later as Associated Distributors Limited. It has not confined its business in the past to the distribution of British films. It was also marketing the films of Monogram, an American concern, and other American films which were not the product of the major companies and which it could purchase and distribute in Australia. Greater Union Theatres Limited not only distributes films, but also owns a considerable number of theatres. T speak from a personal knowledge of the position in Brisbane. In that city alone, Greater Union Theatres Limited controls, through Haymarket Tivoli Theatres, the Tivoli Theatre. In Wintergarden Theatres Limited the company has a large and influential holding in the Wintergarden and Majestic Theatres. Greater Union Theatres Limited also owns and controls the Embassy Theatre in the Valley. From the information 1 have given, it will be seen that it has a controlling interest in the great majority of the theatres in Brisbane. Hoyts Regent Theatre, and the St. James Theatre, are owned and controlled by Hoyts Theatres Limited. If I remember correctly, the honorable member for Melbourne suggested that Hoyts Theatres Limited was not doing as he suggested the other companies were doing. The only other city theatre in Brisbane is the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Proprietary Limited Metro Theatre. I mentioned that, in the 1930’s, Hoyts Theatres Limited and Greater Union Theatres Limited got together and endeavoured to squeeze Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Proprietary Limited out of the business of exhibiting films. I am able tq speak with authority on what occurred in Brisbane. The only other theatre in that city available to the company was His Majesty’s Theatre, which was a legitimate theatre, that is, a theatre which stages flesh and blood shows. The Metro Theatre endeavoured to obtain His Majesty’s Theatre, and for a short time succeeded in doing so. Through the activities of Hoyts Theatres Limited and Greater Union Theatres Limited, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was frozen out of His Majesty’s Theatre. It was compelled to take over a dilapidated building in South Brisbane which was remodelled. In the meantime it was forced by the octopus to exhibit films in a suburban theatre. Anybody who has a practical knowledge of the industry knows that unless a first release is obtained for a film in a major theatre in a city, a great financial loss is sustained and its selling value is lost to a considerable degree in country areas, from which a large part of the revenue of the film industry is obtained. Therefore, I suggest that the attempt by the honorable member for Melbourne to attribute, to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Proprietary Limited particularly, the practice of owning and controlling theatres for the exhibition of films to the detriment of the independent exhibitor, is completely unjustified. My statement is further borne out by the fact that the majority of the theatres in the country districts are not controlled by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Proprietary Limited. To my knowledge the only theatres which MetroGoldwynMayer Proprietary Limited controls are in the city areas, and I understand it owns no more than two theatres in any one city.
– lt is spreading to the suburbs. That is my complaint.
– If that is so, the company is only following the trail left by Hoyts Theatres Limited and many other subsidiary companies, including firms under the directorship of Mr. Stephens in partnership with Mr. Munro, who was the late managing director of Hoyts Theatres Limited. If MetroGoldwynMayer Proprietary Limited is in fact advancing into the suburbs, it is only employing the same tactics as were employed against it in the early 1930’s.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Proprietary Limited produces films which are usually acknowledged by the members of the Motion Pictures Exhibitors Association as being of a considerably higher standard than are those marketed through other companies. There are about nine major distributing companies in Australia. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Proprietary Limited, because it handles only feature films, and gives to them a considerable amount of expensive publicity, is required to charge high prices for its products. Films are placed in a number of categories. If a film is successful as a “ floater “, or is an outstanding “ Special “, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Proprietary Limited invariably demands a certain percentage of the takings. In the past, it has demanded as much as 60 per cent, of the takings. But that is not peculiar to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Proprietary Limited, because Greater Union Theatres Limited has been recognized as the hardest company in the industry with which to do business and has done likewise. I assure the honorable member for Melbourne that Greater Union Theatres Limited is recognized as one that is the least tolerant of its employees, and that the wages it pays are by far the poorest in the industry. A young lady who was employed as a secretary to the manager of the company in Brisbane gave loyal service for. eighteen years. When she resigned, the company wrote to her a letter of thanks but did not make a presentation to her or make any attempt to give her a send-off or in any way acknowledge her long and loyal service. It was left to the few members of the staff to dub in a few shillings each in order to buy a small present as some acknowledgment of her service to the company.
– Let us nationalize the film industry.
– The honorable member might discuss that proposal with Senator Armstrong. Before any attempt is made to take action along the lines suggested by the honorable member for Melbourne, the facts should be ascertained and placed before the -House. Before he suggests that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Proprietary Limited is spreading out into the suburbs, the honorable member should first acknowledge that his own company-
– My own company? I do not hold even one share in any company of any sort anywhere in Australia.
– The honorable member should acknowledge that Greater Union Theatres Limited has a large interest in Northern Amusements Proprietary Limited, which controls theatres in the Newcastle and coal-fields districts.
– I spoke on behalf of the independent theatres, which are being crushed out.
– I agree that in some instances the independent exhibitor needs protection, but that is largely a matter for the State governments. Independent exhibitors may find that, unless they are prepared to play ball with certain major film interests, they, too, will be victimized to some degree. I should applaud the suggestion of the honorable member if, instead of concentrating on MetroGoldwynMayer Proprietary Limited, he had included in his remarks Hoyts Theatres Limited and Greater Union Theatres Limited and their numerous subsidiary companies.
Motion (by Mr. Ema J. Harbison) agreed to-
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented : -
Australian Wool Board- - Sixteenth Annual Report, for year 1951-52.
House adjourned at 11.22 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 10. I invite the honorable member’s attention to the replies given by me in this House on the 25th September lost to questions already asked by him covering the same matters.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 October 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1952/19521016_reps_20_220/>.