20th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without amendment -
Civil Aviation AgreementBill 1952.
Defence Transition (Residual Provisions) Bill 1952.
Commonwealth Electoral Bill 1952.
Social Services Consolidation Bill (No. 2) 1952.
Air Navigation (Charges) Bill 1952.
Australian National Airlines Bill 1952.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment ( Air Navigation Charges ) Bill 1952.
Without requests -
Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill 1952.
Message received from the Senate intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the House of Representatives in this. bill.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Wool Realization (Distribution of Profits) Bill1952.
Trading with the Enemy Bill 1952.
Loan (Housing) Bill 1952.
Audit Bill 1952.
Oil Agreement Bill 1952.
Land Tax Abolition Bill 1952.
Customs Tariff 1952.
Excise Tariff 1952.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1952.
Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) 1952.
Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1952.
Excise Tariff Validation Bill 1952.
Tradesmen’s Rights Regulation Bill 1952.
Re-establishment and Employment Bill 1952.
Income Tax andSocial Services Contribution Assessment Bill (No. 3) 1952.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Bill 1952.
Superannuation Bill 1952.
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill 1952.
Canned Fruits Export Control Bill 1952.
Canned Fruits Export Charges Bill 1952.
Wool Use Promotion Bill 1952.
Dairying Industry Bill 1962.
Defence Bill 1952.
Explosives Bill 1952.
Civil Aviation Agreement Bill 1952.
Air Navigation (Charges) Bill 1952.
Australian National Airlines Bill 1952.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment (Air Navigation Charges) Bill 1952.
Defence Transition (Residual Provisions) Bill 1952.
Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill 1952.
Commonwealth Electoral Bill 1952.
Social Services Consolidation Bill (No. 2) 1952.
Customs Bill 1952.
Navigation Bill 1952.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is the intention of the Government to introduce, during the current sessional period legislation for the purpose of repealing the present system of uniform taxation.
– I am having a conference with the State Premiers on that matter on Friday of this week, after which I shall bein a position to answer the right honorable gentleman.
– I direct to the Minister for Immigration a question regarding houses made available in the Cessnock district for British immigrants who have been brought to Australia to assist in the coal-mining industry. Since the immigration programme has been changed, and it appears that some of those houses will not be required for the purpose for which they were originally intended, will the Minister, if possible, make them available for occupancy by Australians?
– That matter is being examined at the present time. In fact, there are about 50 completed houses and seventeen or twenty uncompleted houses which are no longer required for the purpose for which they were originally intended. I have been in touch only to-day with Mr.Clive Evatt, the New SouthWales Minister for Housing. He has made a proposal that his Government acquire or lease those houses’ from the Commonwealth and make them available for occupancy by Australians. I have indicated that we shall examine that request sympathetically, and I am confident that we shall come to a satisfactory arrangement.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, concerns Commonwealth cottages at Dapto, Bulli, and Unanderra. Tenants are paying exorbitant rents for these cottages. Is it a fact that many protests about the high rents charged for these prefabricated houses have been received from the Wollongong City Council, the miners federation, the Cunningham Federal Electorate Council, and many other bodies in the district? Is it also a fact that the high rents of these houses have been partly caused by the double-handling costs involved in their removal from Victoria to New South Wales, and that similar houses at Newborough, Victoria, are rented for 35s. a week less than the cottages that I have mentioned? If these are facts, will the Minister, in view of the volume of protest, take action to have the rents reduced to bring them into line with the value of the houses, and thereby do justice to a fine body of British immigrants who are broken-hearted by the shocking treatment meted out to them by the Government?
– Order !
– I understand that the houses referred to by the honorable member have just been taken over by the Department of the Interior. I also understand that some protests have been received by the department, but I cannot say from whom, nor have I any information about the number of protests. The taking over of these cottages has not yet been completed, but I undertake to have an examination made as soon as we have taken them over completely to ascertain whether or not the rents are too high. Following upon that investigation I shall make further information available to the honorable member at an appropriate time.
– I direct to the Prime Minister the following questions concerning an investigation which is being made by the New South Wales police: -
Is it a fact that a warning was issued by the New South Wales police to the effect that a man for whom they were until recently searching had in his possession a cheque drawn for £27,000 or £28,000, bearing the forged signature of the Secretary to the Commonwealth Treasury, and also a number of genuine Commonwealth Bank cheque forms?
Will the right honorable gentleman make an early and full statement to the House, including information on whether these particulars were furnished from a Commonwealth source to the New South Wales police, and, if so, how it was known that the wanted man had in his possession a forged Commonwealth cheque and a number of genuine Commonwealth Bank forms, and by what means they were obtained? Did the Prime Minister have any discussions with the Premier of Kew South “Wales regarding the terms of reference of the royal commission recently appointed in that State, or did he seek to express any views upon the advisability of making the inquiries sufficiently expansive to include the aforementioned serious and important aspect of this matter? If the Prime Minister has not already done so, will he consider taking such a course of action?
– The statements made by the honorable member are completely new to me. I know nothing of the matter that he has referred to, but I shall make some inquiries. I have had no discussions with the Premier of New South Wales on the scope of any inquiry into the police of that State, and I do not know that I propose to have any.
– Can the Minister for External Affairs give the House any information concerning the new five power staff organization which was recently established by Great Britain, America, France, Australia and New Zealand?
– No concrete arrangement has been made to set up a five power staff agency, although the matter is currently being discussed. During the last two years there have been almost continuous discussions - or, at least, discussions from time to time - by the five powers named, about the security situation in South-East Asia, particularly about what would he done in certain circumstances of further Communist aggression southwards into South-East Asia. There are some discussions taking place at this moment, but as to discussions on. the military level, nothing concrete has been evolved.
– Will the Minister for External Affairs say in what sense, if any, Australia is a party to the
Yalta Agreement and to the secret codicil? Has Soviet Russia carried out in a bona fide manner its obligations under that agreement, particularly under section 5, which relates to liberated Europe, and under section 6, which relates to Poland? Will the right honorable gentleman refer to the Foreign Affairs Committee consideration of those matters and of what Australia’s attitude should be in regard to them?
– .Australia was not a party to the Yalta Agreement and so has no standing in respect of it. I should not like to make any statement off-hand about whether or not Soviet Russia has lived up to its obligations under the known parts of that agreement, but I shall consider the matter and advise the honorable gentleman. I consider that the subject would be a very suitable one for the Foreign Affairs Committee and I. shall take steps to place it before it.
– Will the Minister for External Affairs say whether it is a fact that he has appointed a retired journalist who was formerly employed by the Sydney Morning Herald to be Australian Minister in the Middle East? If so, does that appointment mean that, in the Government’s opinion, there was no suitable and qualified person for the position among the Government’s permanent career men in the Department of External Affairs ? If that was not the reason, will he say why this gentleman was appointed and the department’s permanent career men passed over?
– It is a fact that Mr. Hugh McClure Smith, who was formerly editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, has been appointed by the Government as Australian Minister, not to the Middle East, but to Egypt. In the ordinary course of events the majority of our posts abroad are filled from among the members of the External Affairs service. However, that service is still a small and young one and it is necessary from time ,to time, in a limited number of cases, to get people from outside the service to fill certain of our posts. I think the number of posts so treated in recent times is well known to honorable members. I repeat that the normal procedure is for both the head of a post abroad and the members of the staff to be appointed from the External Affairs service. It is in exceptional cases only that the Government is obliged, from, time to time, to go outside the department to call on the services of distinguished members of the Australian community.
– In view of a number of statements made recently that there have been grave differences of opinion between the British and Australian Governments over foreign policy, will the Minister for External Affairs inform the House whether, in fact, disagreements have occurred? Is there any truth in the assertion that the Government is alineing itself with Washington and is abandoning our traditional association with the United Kingdom?
– I am not aware that there has been any disagreement with the United Kingdom Government on any matter of consequence in recent times. In reply to the second part of , the honorable member’s question, I inform him that one of the most notable features of international relations in recent years has been the progressive coming together of the free democracies. In that movement, the closer co-ordination of British and American relations has been a foremost feature, and one which we, on this side of the House, regard as essential to the preservation of the democracies of the world. A part of that process has been the closer relationship, in a number of directions, between ourselves in Australia and our friends in the United States of America. Such closer relationship as we have achieved in that direction in recent years is a part of the larger whole of the improved and closer BritishAmerican relations. I hope very much that this Government and the governments of all other parts of the British Commonwealth will pursue that end.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture able to give the House any information about the experience of Australia in attempting to sell beef to the United States of America?
– In the terms of the arrangement made inside the structure of the long-term meat agreement with the
United Kingdom, some thousands of tons of meat - I think 3,000 tons in total - have been sent to the United States of America for sale during the last twelve months. Approximately 1,700 tons of lamb took a year to clear. We have had 860 tons of beef in the United States which began to arrive in that country in July and continued to arrive during the ensuing few months. Of that quantity only 50 tons have been sold. It is obvious that the United States of America, a country which produces approximately 10,000,000 tons of meat a year, is not a very willing recipient of our meat in great quantities.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, refers to the number of complaints that have been made at high level about Australian canned meats in London because packs are faulty and the contents arc much below standard. What action does the Minister propose to take to see that there is greater control and better inspection of canned meat exported to all countries that trade with Australia?
– The honorable member has used the term “ complaints at high level “. No complaints have been officially directed to me nor, to the best of my knowledge, to the permanent head of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. I know, however, that widespread complaints have been made in the United Kingdom and, I believe, to a lesser degree, in other countries, about the quality of certain brands of Australian canned meats. I discussed the complaints with the officers of my department during the last week or so. It appears that, a year or so ago, there was a tremendous demand for canned meat from Australia. Orders were placed foi” packs of fairly low meat content which could be sold at low prices. The importers of meat of that kind were very satisfied to receive it until the market for canned meat went against them, whereupon they discovered innumerable faults in Australian canned meat, which related both to quality a,nc the quantity in the packs. It was claimed that, in some instances, a 16-oz. tin was up to i oz. short of the specified weight. A series of legal actions are pending by the importers who are seeking to escape their obligations. To some degree there is a commercial background to these complaints, but I do not ignore the fact that it is a proper obligation of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture to protect the reputation of Australian products abroad. At present consideration is being given to the application of more stringent specifications and inspection of canned meat as a condition of its export from Australia.
– Will the Minister for Social Services inform the House whether, when the agreement with the United Kingdom Government for the provision of reciprocal social services benefits is finalized, British pensioners will be entitled to free doctor and free medical benefits as are Australian pensioners? If not, will the Minister see that these benefits are extended to all pensioners?
– The aspect of the agreement to which the honorable member has referred has not yet been examined, but I believe that British pensioners will be entitled to all Australian pension rights. The subject of the honorable member’s question is a matter for discussion with the Minister for Health. I shall discuss it with him.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services, in view of his announcement of the conclusion of an agreement with the United Kingdom Government for the payment of pensions and other social services benefits to United Kingdom citizens resident in Australia, whether he can say when it is likely that the agreement will be sufficiently far advanced to enable such British residents of pensionable age to receive the benefit of the Australian age pension?
– An agreement has been reached between the United Kingdom Government and the Australian Government for the payment of social services benefits on a reciprocal basis in each country. I hope that the agreement will be signed within the next two months, but the departmental procedures involved are considerable and some months must elapse before all these matters can be ironed out. I should say, as a guess rather than as an estimate, that these procedures will be completed about the end of this year.
– Is the Minister for Social Services aware of the appalling conditions that exist at the social services office in Goulburn-street, Sydney? When I visited the office on Monday, the 9th February last, I found that the waitingroom is approximately 15 feet by 12 feet-
– Order ! The honorable member is now giving information to the Minister. He should not give it but seek it.
– At least 40 people were standing in the office waiting to apply for the unemployment benefit. The clerical staff is undermanned, which causes long delays as, on some days, despite the statement by the Minister for Labour and National Service to-day that there is no unemployment, as many as 500 persons visit that office.
– I am aware that the accommodation at the social services offices in Sydney is not all it might be.
– Why not go there and have a look at it ?
– I have done so and I know of no reason why I I should go to Sydney again for that purpose. If the honorable member for West Sydney can inform me where my department can secure better accommodation that it now has, I should be pleased to obtain the information from him. We have clone our best to secure alternative accommodation. The staff of the Sydney office of the department is doing an exceptionally fine job and I am grateful to the officers concerned for the work that they are doing. With reference to the honorable member’s final comment regarding the statement of the Minister for Labour and National Service that there is less unemployment to-day, the honorable member may be pleased to know that this week the number of persons receiving unemployment benefit dropped by more than 3,000.
– In view of the importance of the issues to be decided at the approaching elections to be held in
Queensland and South Australia, will the Prime Minister endeavour to arrange to speak during the campaigns at many centres in both of those States?
– In all matters of addressing public meetings, I shall pursue my normal course.
– When does the Minister for Health anticipate that the new medical benefits scheme will be ready to put into operation? Will the medical insurance organizations, through which the Government subsidy is to be paid, be the same organizations as those approved under the existing hospital benefits scheme?
– The regulations that will inaugurate this scheme are being drafted by the Attorney-General’s Department and prepared for printing. A3 soon as they are available, we shall know the exact date on which they will come into effect. We hope to give at least three months’ notice so that organizations will be able to prepare their advertising matter and other propaganda. Many organizations which have already been approved for the hospital benefits scheme are eager to engage in the medical benefits scheme. Some of them are already actively carrying out that scheme, but ail organizations, whether they be new or old ones, will have to be approved for this purpose.
– Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform me whether it is a fact that Australian representatives at the International Wheat Conference are asking approximately 2s. a bushel less than the price asked by the representatives of the United States of America? In view of the vital importance of wheat to the overall economy of Australia, will the Minister take steps to ensure that the interests of this country will be adequately protected?
– I can give the honorable member for Hume and the country an assurance that the interests of Australia are being adequately protected in this matter. The Government has expressed its willingness, in principle, to engage in an extension of the International Wheat Agreement, but before that conclusion was reached, I, on behalf of the Government, consulted the Australian Wheat Growers Federation, which expressed an opinion upon the price level that Australia should ask at the international conference. We have not asked a lower price than the amount upon which the Australian Wheat Growers Federation expressed its view, and for the first time, this Government has arranged that a representative of the Australian wheatgrowers be present at the discussions. The general secretary of the Australian Wheat Growers Federation is present in Washington to-day, as one of the elected representatives of the Australian wheatgrowers was present in Washington last June and July when the earlier negotiations were taking place. Within the last 24 hours, I have exchanged cables with Washington in which I have conveyed to the representatives of not only the Government but also the Australian wheatgrowers ,the current opinion of the Australian Wheat Growers Federation and the Australian Government on the matter of price. There is no difference between the view of the Government and of the federation on this issue.
– My question to the Minister for External Affairs concerns the recommendations in the final report of the select committee of the United States Congress which investigated the Katyn Forest massacre. If the General Assembly of the United Nations is requested to take action before the International Court of Justice against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for the Katyn massacre, will the Australian Government support the request? Is the Minister prepared to make a short statement, by leave of the House, on the findings of the select committee appointed by the United States Congress ?
– I have read the congressional report of the United States Senate on the Katyn massacre in which there is a recommendation that the matter be referred to the United Nations with the idea that it be brought before the International Court of Justice. As I understand the situation, the United States Government has not yet decided whether it will submit that proposal to the United Nations. However, if it decides to do so, the Australian Government will have to give proper consideration to the question of supporting it. Without committing the Government, I say at this stage that I should expect Australia to support the United States proposal. T shall be very glad to ask for leave to make a short statement on the congressional report on the Katyn massacre, which is extremely interesting.
– Can the Minister for Supply say why lots Nos. 175 to 233, which included goods seized from the residence of the former Japanese Ambassador to Australia, were withdrawn from an auction sale conducted by his department at Canberra in November last? Was the withdrawal made at the request of another Minister? What has been done with the goods which were withdrawn from sale?
– I have no personal knowledge of the matter that the honorable member has mentioned. I shall have it investigated and, if possible, will supply him with an answer.
– As the Prime Minister is aware, Tasmania’s sea passenger traffic and rauch of its perishable freight cargoes are at the mercy of the Bass Strait Steamer Taroona, which is often taken off the run for overhaul and repairs. Alternative shipping is never made available. In view of this and the growth of population in Tasmania, will the Government give consideration to the building by the Australian Shipbuilding Board of a faster passenger vessel for the run across Bass Strait, especially having regard to the Government’s stated policy of promoting competition on the ground that it is good for trade and business ?
– The Minister for Civil Aviation who represents the Minister for
Shipping and Transport in this chamber will answer the question.
– I shall refer the question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport and shall provide the honorable member with a reply.
– I realize now that the question should have been placed on the notice-paper.
– I ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council whether, in view of the extreme climatic conditions which normally prevail in Queensland during the month of February, any consideration has been given to amending the schedule of the Royal Tour of Australia next year so as to enable the Royal Family to visit that. State at a more suitable season.
– The subject of the honorable member’s question has received some additional consideration, though hot for the reason that he has suggested, because information received from the Deputy Director of the Meteorological Bureau has revealed that the difference between conditions in Queensland in February and in March is almost insignificant.
– You don’t say so!
– The honorable member for East Sydney may find shortly that climatic conditions are a little too warm for him. We are giving consideration to the requests that have been made to us by the Queensland Government. If some alteration of the itinerary can be made that will not materially affect the overall position, it will he made.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Territories. In view of the interest that is being shown by Japan and other countries to the north of Australia in the pearl-shell beds along our northern coastline, will the Government take steps to re-introduce the coastal patrol that operated in those parts prior to the last war, in order to protect, not only the interests of Australia in those pearling grounds, hut also the interests of the natives inhabiting areas along the coastline who would be adversely affected by contacts that would result from the operations there of Japanese and other pearl fishers?
– The Government has no reason to assume that the nationals of any other country are going to make unauthorized landings on the Australian coast or to commit infringements of Australian laws. I assure the honorable member and the House that the whole question of the surveillance of our northern coast is receiving close attention. I think the honorable member appreciates that, in view of the development of aviation and kindred matters, probably the best available methods of watching our coasts now are different from those of pre-war years. I shall consult with the Minister for the Navy and the Minister for Air about the facilities that are available. I assure the honorable member that this Government will do everything that is ‘necessary to protect Australia’s interests.
– Will the Minister for External Affairs say whether it is a fact that the American Government has given its encouragement and approval to Japanese plans for pearling in waters north of Australia? Is the Government doing anything to limit the activities of the Japanese pearlers in those waters? Why was not a limitation on these activities written into the Japanese Peace Treaty to which the Government so hastily and with so little thought subscribed ? Finally, does the Minister hold out any real hope that the valuable Australian pearl-shell industry can be saved from annihilation by ruthless Japanese competition?
– Until the honorable gentleman asked his question I had never heard any suggestion that the United States was in any way encouraging the Japanese in the manner that the honorable gentlem.an has stated. We are hoping to meet representatives of the Japanese Government at a conference, at a relatively early date, to discuss pearling and fishing in the waters north of Australia. I understand that it will be possible to have that meeting by April, if not before, and it is hoped that the venue of the discussions will be Canberra. The Japanese Peace Treaty contains a provision for Japan to enter into discussions leading to agreements on fisheries in our waters and other waters, and I understand that the Americans and the Canadians have already finalised agreements to those ends. As I have said, we hope to discuss such an agreement in the relatively near future. I arn now referring to the Australian pearling industry mainly, and also to other fisheries, but I understand that the pearl-shell industry is the one that the Japanese are particularly interested in.
– Rural automatic telephone exchanges have proved to be most effective in districts where difficulty is being experienced in operating manual exchanges. Will the Postmaster-General say whether equipment is available in Australia now ,to make possible the installation of a greater number of those exchanges? If such equipment is not available, ,can the Minister say when it will be available? How many rural automatic telephone exchanges is it proposed to install within the next six months?
Mi-. ANTHONY.- In the past, equipment for rural automatic telephone exchanges has been obtained from abroad, but now arrangements are in hand for it to be supplied by certain Australian manufacturers. I cannot say when their factories will be tooled up for that purpose. During the last three years, we have installed, I think, about 300 rural automatic telephone exchanges. Before then, there were 100 or 150 of them in operation. We expect to have equipment for approximately another 400 within the next twelve months or eighteen months.
– I ask the Treasurer, as chairman of the Loan Council, whether he is in agreement with the Minister for External Affairs, who has advocated reprisals by the Commonwealth against the Labour Government of New South Wales because the Premier of that State has insisted upon adequate funds being made available for urgent and necessary public works. If the Treasurer agrees with his colleague that the Commonwealth should discriminate against States that elect Labour governments, is that attitude in keeping with his understanding of federalism and of the basis of Commonwealth-State relations?
– The question is based upon a false premise. I have been assured by the Minister for External Affairs that no such statement has been made by him.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. In view of the serious shortage of school accommodation in Victoria, which apparently cannot be overcome at present because of the lack of funds for the erection of new buildings, could the Government make available to the Victorian Government a special allocation of funds to enable the State to put this important work in hand?
– The matter of deciding the availability of money for State purposes is entirely within the province of the Australian Loan Council.
– In directing a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture I refer to payments made to New South Wales apple and pear growers by the Australian Apple and Pear Marketing Board for fruit acquired under the National Security (Apple and Pear Acquisition) Regulations. In view of the very scant information given to growers generally about the method of fixing the amounts of compensation payable in each case, which has caused a great deal of heart burning, will the Minister consider supplying each grower with full information showing details of how settlement of bis claim was arrived at by the board?
– I do not think I can undertake to do exactly as the honorable member has requested. Each grower can discover the facts for himself in a manner that would be more economical than the furnishing of a particular and detailed account by the department. These apples and pears were acquired during wartime, and the terms of acquisition became the subject of a case, known as the Zerbie case, on which judgment was given by the High Court. The court in its judgment set down with great particularity a formula for arriving at the compensation to which each grower was entitled. That formula was so exacting that a considerable number of officials have been working literally for years, from a time before this Government came into office, in order to discover the entitlement of each individual grower in the terms set out by the court. I understand that compensation payments are about to be. made, if they have not already been made, to New South Wales growers. To furnish the details of how each grower’s entitlement was arrived at would, I am sure, having regard to all the facts, involve a prodigious amount of additional work. I cannot undertake that it would be possible to carry out that work, but I can say that if any grower who is interested makes an application I shall see that he is given a copy of the formula that was laid down by the High Court, a study of which will make the position clear to him - I hope.
– I ask the Minister for Territories whether a land ordinance that was recently passed by the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory has yet received the assent of the GovernorGeneral in Council. If such assent has not yet been given, does the Government propose to have the ordinance amended before it is presented for assent, and, if so, what amendments are to be made to it?
– The Administrator of the Northern Territory ha3 not yet forwarded to Canberra a certified copy of the Crown Lands Ordinance that was passed during the recent session of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory, and so it has not yet come up for consideration, but insofar as that Crown Lands Ordinance does represent the considered policy of this Government I think that the honorable member, using his own powers of anticipation, can assume it will receive the recommendation of this Government for assent.
– In view of the protracted and controversial public discussions on the future of commercial aviation in Australia, particularly with reference to the various rival companies, will the Minister for Civil Aviation give consideration to inviting an acknowledged international aviation expert to investigate thoroughly the present condition of commercial aviation in Australia and report to the Parliament on likely f uture developments, with particular reference to the economic capacity of Australia to maintain, develop or change the present position?
– The suggestion made by the honorable member was previously made by one of the commercial aviation companies, which also suggested that there should be an amalgamation of all the existing principal airways, which include Qantas Empire Airways Limited, British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines and Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited. The Government did not approve of that suggestion nor of the suggestion to bring somebody from abroad to advise on Australian aviation, the reason being that the conditions that govern Australian aviation are peculiar to this country. Our problems and difficulties are essentially Australian, and we are competent to deal with them ourselves.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation received any representations from Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited for assistance to enable the company to purchase new aircraft for re-equipment in place of its present obsolescent DC3 aircraft ? If so, will the Minister give consideration to such a request in conformity with the principle already in force whereby such assistance i3 given to both Trans-Australia Airlines and Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited?
– The Government does not propose to widen the terms of the Civil Aviation Agreement with Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited and Trans-Australia Airlines to include other airline operators. If it did so every Australian airline company would be at its doorstep seeking assistance for the purchase of aircraft.
– Will, the Minister for Supply inform the House when it can expect that legislation to set up the Atomic Energy Commission will be placed before it ? In view of the urgency of such work, what steps will be taken or have been taken in the meantime to inaugurate the commission’s activities?
– I believe that the bill to establish the Atomic Energy Commission will be brought down during this sesssional period. As to the steps which have been taken on the matter to date, I inform the House that both the chairman and the two members of the Atomic Energy Commission have been exceedingly busy since the announcement of their appointment. The chairman has been in almost day-to-day consultation with myself and the other members of the commission. The commission has met frequently, premises have been selected, staff are being engaged, and even to-day the chairman is in Sydney interviewing applicants for positions of his staff. The commission has visited Rum Jungle, and is in close consultation with the Zinc Corporation Limited, which is operating the Rum Jungle field for us. Indeed, I do not know of any way in which the commission could have got to work more efficiently than it has done.
– Has the Minister for External Affairs seen a recent statement attributed to the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations which criticized the Colombo plan? As the criticism appears to be completely misinformed, will the Minister indicate to the House in a general way the types of assistance that have been provided by Australia under the Colombo plan, including reference to plant, equipment and technical training? Will the Minister also provide information about the results obtained from Australian assistance?
– I saw with some astonishment a statement reputed to have been made by the permanent head of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. If this gentleman has been correctly reported - and he has been reported at considerable length - I must say that I regard his statement as illinformed and mischievous. I am causing a telegram to be sent to the Food and Agriculture Organization to discover the full text of what this gentleman said, and his reasons for making the statement. There are a number of instrumentalities sending aid to the countries of South and South-East Asia. As well as the four Colombo plan countries of Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, various United Nations bodies are rendering technical assistance as well as the Food and Agriculture Organization. Moreover, the United States of America Government, the International Bank and, more lately, the Ford Foundation have been helping. In Australia we have gone to some considerable trouble to ensure that there will be no overlapping or duplication in respect of our aid, under a variety of headings to South and SouthEast Asia under the Colombo plan. The honorable member has asked what we have done under the Colombo plan. We have sent considerable quantities of wheat and flour where they were most urgently needed. We have sent a considerable number of tractors and pumps and a considerable quantity of other agricultural and farm equipment. We have sent electrical equipment on a considerable scale where it has been particularlyrequired. We have trained in Australia between 100 and 200 selected individuals from Colombo plan countries, and have sent 40 or 50 Australian experts to those countries. In respect of anything to do with agriculture, we have taken particular care not only to consult with, but also to get the advice of the Food and Agriculture Organization. I have laid it down as a nile within my department that that should be done on all occasions. This astonishing and, if correctly reported, irresponsible statement by the head of the Food and Agriculture Organization, has caused me a good deal of irritation.
– Is the Prime Minister aware of the great disservice that has been caused to members of the Parliament and their constituents because the Government has not provided for the replacement of members’ secretaries during the period of their three weeks’ annual holiday? I am suffering great disadvantage at present because my secretary is on holidays. Indeed, last Sunday I had to write 45 letters by hand, which was rather a. strenuous task. I had to write about the same number on Monday. I respectfully ask the right honorable gentleman, to give consideration to reverting to the practice of the previous Government of replacing the secretaries of members when they go on annual leave. Perhaps he could instruct the Minister for the Interior to reconsider this matter as inconvenience is” suffered both by members and their constituents.
– This matter has been raised in various quarters, and it is now under consideration. When I can say something final about it, I shall do so.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been drawn to a recent statement made by the president of the Shires Association of New South Wales that the allocation of money by the New South. Wales Government to local government bodies has been reduced by 25 per cent.? In view of the fact that this will have a serious effect on the construction and maintenance of country roads, which are already very much below standard, will the right honorable gentleman inform the House whether this position is due to any adverse action taken by the Treasury in respect of money made available to the New South Wales Government, particularly from the federal aid roads grant ?
– The matter has nothing to do with the Australian Government. The allocation of moneys by the New South Wales Government to local government authorities does not concern the Australian Government. If such allocations have been reduced the reduction is entirely a matter within the province of the New South Wales Government.
EMPLOYMENT. Mr. CURTIN.- My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that in October last the Minister approved the establishment of a Commonwealth employment office in the Watson electorate? Is the Minister aware that the office has not yet been set tip? If his department is finding difficulty in renting office space will he give consideration to the ‘ erection of a prefabricated office on vacant land available at Maroubra Junction? Has the Minister forgotten that large numbers of men and women in the Watson electorate are forced to walk up to 8 miles to register for unemployment benefit?
– I shall have the circumstances referred to by the honorable member examined to ascertain what can be done, if the office has not yet been provided. As I know that the honorable member takes a keen interest in the employment situation, he will be gratified to learn that last week’s figures indicate that there has been a substantial reduction in the number of recipients of unemployment benefit.
– Having regard to the recent outbreak of serious epidemics overseas, is the Minister for Health satisfied that sufficient precautions, by way of medical inspections, are taken in respect of passengers who arrive in Australia on vessels and in aircraft from overseas countries? What precautions are taken for the examination of passengers on overseas aircraft on their arrival in this country ?
– There is a fairly widespread epidemic of influenza in southern England and a portion of western Europe, but it is not of particularly alarming proportions and it has been mostly confined to older people. In fact, nearly all the deaths that have occurred have been confined to persons of advancing years. There is no need to take special precautions for the examination of persons who arrive in Australia from overseas countries because standing instructions have always existed for the most complete examination of passengers and crews of ships and aircraft that come to Australia. The instructions have been tightened up in certain respects and the officers associated with the work have been instructed to advise the department immediately a suspected case of disease is reported. The requisite quarantine arrangements have been made for the detention of passengers from quarantined vessels or aircraft. Every vessel and aircraft is thoroughly inspected on arrival. If influenza is discovered all passengers are quarantined.
– Can the Prime Minister inform me whether the Government is aware that Japanese sailors on ships loading coal at Newcastle recently have been extensively engaged in photographing fortifications and industrial installations, and taking panoramic views of the city and its waterways? If the Government is aware of this, does it concur in the actions of the Japanese? If not, has anything been done to prevent or discourage a repetition of these actions ?
– Nothing has come before me in relation to the matter. I should not think that there is anything very unusual in visiting seamen, who are notoriously addicted to photography, taking photographs of the harbour. Everybody knows what the harbour looks like, and anybody may obtain a map of it. No information has come to me of any form of espionage in security areas. We keep a very close eye on such areas.
– Has the Government received representations from various sections of the people in Australia that a nominee of the Australian aborigines should visit London for the coronation celebrations? If so, will the Prime Minister state whether the Government has made a decision in regard to the proposal?
– I shall ascertain the position in relation to the matter and advise the honorable member to-morrow,
– My question, which is directed to the Prime Minister, relates to the disposal of funds from Japanese assets to Australian, ex-servicemen who were prisoners of war of Japan, or to their dependants. The Japanese peace treaty provides for the payment of indemnities. I understand that a distribution has been made and that some former prisoners of war have recevied their proportions, but that the dependants of some of our prisoners who paid the supreme sacrifice have not yet received any payment. “Will the Prime Minister advise me how the matter stands at present?
– The honorable member will realize that I cannot tell him offhand the point that distribution has reached. I shall have a statement prepared covering both categories of persons he has mentioned and let him have it as soon as possible.
Motion (by Sir Arthur Fadden) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to repeal the acts of the Parliament relating to land tax, and for purposes connected therewith.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move - That the bill be now read a second time.
Honorable members will recall that, in the last sessional period, the Land Tax Abolition Bill 1952 was agreed to. This bill provided that land tax should not be levied and paid for the financial year 1952-53 or for any subsequent financial year. It also provided that section 15 of the Land Tax Assessment Act, under which landowners were required to lodge returns of the land owned, should not apply in respect of the financial year mentioned or any subsequent financial year. “When I introduced that measure, I explained that the complete removal of the land tax legislation from the statute-book would require the introduction of a measure to reconstitute the general taxation administration which has its statutory origin in the Land Tax Assessment Act. I further explained that it was not possible, in the time then available, to prepare the necessary legislation. However, I indicated that the land tax legislation would be completely repealed in the present sessional period.
The bill now before the House gives effect to this purpose. It will repeal the land tax assessment acts and the acts imposing the rates of tax which are detailed in the First Schedule to the bill. Certain consequential amendments are necessary to a number of other acts, and these are set out in the Second Schedule to the bill. The repeal of the land tax legislation is intended to apply in respect of all financial years subsequent to the financial year 1951-52; but, of course, is not intended to have any effect in respect of the financial year 1951-52 and prior years. In order to ensure that these intentions are given proper legislative authority, it is necessary to provide for the continuation of the repealed legislation for all purposes relating to land tax for the financial year 1951-52 and all prior years. This is done by clause 2 (3.) of the bill.
A complementary measure, which will be introduced to the House immediately after the introduction of this bill, will reconstitute the general taxation administration and provide for the offices of the Commissioner of Taxation, the Second Commissioner of Taxation, deputy commissioners of taxation, land valuation boards, &c. It is these officers who will continue the administration of the Land Tax Assessment Act in respect of all outstanding matters for the financial year 1951-52 and prior years. It is therefore necessary to provide that references in the repealed legislation to these officers 3hall be read as references to the respective officers who will be holding office under the new legislation which is about to be introduced. This is done by clause 2 (4.) of the bill.
When, in the previous sessional period, I introduced the measure which had the effect of abolishing land tax, I gave a full explanation of the Government’s reasons for doing so and I do not think it necessary to repeat those reasons at this stage. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Motion (by Sir Arthurfadden) - by leave - agreed to -
That leavebe given to bring in abill for an act to provide for the administration of certain acts relating to taxation, and for purposes connected therewith.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Sir ARTHUR FADDEN (McPherson-
Treasurer) [3.36] - by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
I explained to honorable members, when I introduced the Land Tax Abolition Bill 1952 and the Land Tax Abolition Bill 1953, that it had become necessary to provide for the continued administration of all existing taxation acts. The latter bill, which I have just introduced, removes all land tax acts from the statute-book. These acts provided for the offices of the Commissioner and Second Commissioner of Taxation, and the taxation valuation boards. It has, therefore, become necessary to provide statutory authority for the continuance of these offices. It has been considered advisable not to do this in some act which deals with a particular subject of taxation, as was the case with land tax, but to make specific provision therefor in a separate act. This is the purpose of the present bill.
The bill provides for the offices of Commissioner and Second Commissioner of Taxation. It repeats the provisions that previously appeared in the Land Tax Assessment Act regarding their tenure of office and the salaries to be paid to them. There is also provision for the removal of an occupant of an office by the Governor-General on the advice of the Parliament. There is also provision for the appointment of an Acting Commissioner or an Acting Second Commissioner in the event of the illness, absence or suspension of the Commissioner or Second Commissioner. All these provisions largely follow the provisions at present appearing in the Land Tax Assessment Act, except for certain drafting improvements for the purpose of bringing the actual wording of the clauses and sub-clauses into line with modern drafting practice. The original provisions were drafted in 1910.
One of the improvements which has been adopted is to provide in this bill for delegations of his powers by the Commissioner of Taxation, instead of leaving this power of delegation in the separate acts which are administered by the Commissioner of Taxation. The present occupants of the offices of Commissioner of Taxation and Second Commissioner of Taxation were appointed by the GovernorGeneral for terms of seven years under the powers granted by the land tax assessment acts. These terms have not expired, and the bill provides that the Commissioner and Second Commissioner who were holding office immediately before the commencement of the Taxation Administration Act shall be deemed to have been appointed as Commissioner of Taxation and Second Commissioner of Taxation under that act and shall hold office thereunder for the remainder of their respective terms. The bill also provides for the offices of deputy commissioners of taxation which, at present, are provided for in the separate taxation acts administered by the Commissioner of Taxation.
Valuation boards were originally set up as appeals tribunals for the settlement of disputes regarding the value of land for land tax purposes. With the subsequent enactment of estate duty and gift duty, the boards have been required to settle disputes about real estate values, share values and the like for the purposes of those acts. In addition, the chairman, for some years, has heard all hardship cases involving sums in excess of £500 as required by section 265 of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act in lieu of the chairman of the Income Tax Board of Review. The chairman of the boards is the only fulltime member thereof, and his time is fully occupied in his board duties, together with the other duties mentioned. The other members of the boards are engaged part-time only and are solely concerned with valuation appeals. They are paid at a daily rate for the actual days on which they are so engaged. It might be mentioned that it is expected that these boards will be very busy for some considerable time in hearing land tax appeals in respect of valuations of land as at the 30th June, 1951, the last year to which land tax applied. It is, therefore, necessary to provide for the continuation of the valuation boards and this is provided for in the bill. It also provides for the continuation in office under this bill of the persons who were appointed under the Land Tax Assessment Act and whose periods have not expired.
The removal of the powers of delegation of the Commissioner from the separate taxation acts to this measure and the provision of the offices of deputy commissioner of taxation under this measure require the consequential amendment of a number of other acts. These acts are listed in the first column of the First Schedule to the bill and the amendments to he made are set out in the second column. The amendments of those measures will, of course, necessitate the provision of new citations therefor. This is provided for in the Second Schedule to the bill. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Sir Arthur Fadden) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum for war pensions.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Sir Arthur Fadden and Sir Philip McBride do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Sir Arthur Fadden, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill provides for an appropriation of £37,000,000 out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the payment of war pensions. It is necessary to submit a measure of this nature to the Parliament from time to time for the purpose of appropriating from revenue an amount for payment into a trust account to enable pensions to be .paid in accordance with such rates as are approved by the Parliament. Expenditure on war pensions is showing a continuous increase, a.3 the following table indicates: -
The amount of £37,000,000 now requested will cover approximately one year’s expenditure at present rates. The h’Ui has no relation whatever to rates or the conditions under which pensions are paid. It merely authorizes the provision of fluids for the trust account from which war pensions are paid. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. CALWELL adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Anthony) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to the provision of television services, and matters incidental thereto.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is the first step to be taken by the Parliament to provide statutory authority for the establishment of television services in Australia, and I submit it for the consideration of the House in the belief that, no matter how we may differ in detail as to how it should be done, we are all agreed that television services, with their great potential benefits of education, culture and entertainment, should be made available to the Australian people. Proceeding from that premise, it is necessary for us to consider, first of all, the fundamental basis upon which the services should be developed and then to determine carefully, detailed plans for the provision and the regulation of the services in order that the maximum benefit may be obtained from them.
The bill has been introduced by the Government for the purpose of asking the Parliament to endorse the general principle that we should develop television in the Commonwealth on the same fundamental basis as has been so remarkably successful in respect of sound broadcasting. Our dual system of broadcasting, in accordance with which a national in,strumentality and private enterprise work side by side, has proved its suitability for Australian conditions and it is providing listeners in almost every Australian home with a standard and variety of programme which compare favorably with, those of any country in the world. There is abundant evidence that the people of Australia are well satisfied with their broadcasting system which has been encouraged and developed by the legislation and administration of successive governments from both sides of the Parliament since the inauguration of broadcasting in 1923. For many years the commercial broadcasting service was controlled by regulations under the Wireless Telegraphy Act, but in 1942 a bill incorporating provisions relating to both the national and commercial broadcasting services was introduced to set the seal of parliamentary approval on the dual system of broadcasting. The bill was passed through all stages in both Houses with very few dissenting views.
A bill to amend the Broadcasting Act 1942, which was introduced by the Chifley Government in 1948, gave a further opportunity for a full debate on the broadcasting system, but there was no suggestion from either side of the Parliament that there should be any change in its fundamental structure.
– That is hardly correct.
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) will have every opportunity of disclaiming anything that he may have said.
– I disclaim nothing, but I shall point out the Government’s errors.
– The honorable member will have plenty of opportunities for disclaiming before this debate is concluded.
-Order ! These exchanges across the table must cease.
– The success of the dual broadcasting system provides overwhelming reasons for proceeding with television on the same lines, and accordingly, the Government proposes in this bill to provide for the licensing of commercial television stations as well as the operation of national television stations.
One of the great merits of our broadcasting system is, as I have mentioned, that it ensures variety for listeners, and the establishment of national and commercial television stations will likewise enable viewers to have a choice of programmes. From my own observation overseas, I think it is much to be desired that there should be alternative television programmes, wherever this is practicable and, indeed, I formed the very definite opinion that the television service in London, excellent as it is, would be even better if London viewers, like those of New York for example, had a choice of programmes. The right to choose is a very important right indeed. The British are apparently alive to this deficiency in their service as . the Government of the United Kingdom has announced that “ in the expanding field of television, provision should be made to permit some element of competition when the calls on capital resources at present needed for purposes of greater national importance make this feasible “. In Canada also, where they have the dual broadcasting system, the Government has announced its intention of authorizing commercial television stations in addition to those operated by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
The Australian Government has deliberately refrained from attempting at this stage to prescribe the detailed conditions under which the Australian services shall be conducted, because it desires that before these conditions are determined, full opportunity shall be afforded for the expression of responsible opinion and the formation of accurate judgments on this subject. For this reason, it has, as has already been announced, arranged for the appointment of a royal commission which will inquire into and report upon -
In the United Kingdom hours for broadcasting television programmes are limited. In the United States of America, the broadcasting hours are almost unlimited and we have to determine the hours for broadcasting that will be most suitable for Australia. The Government decided on the appointment of the royal commission because it felt that, whilst we are fortunately in a position to profit from the experience of countries which already have television services, we must make our own plans to meet the special requirements of the Australian public and not necessarily adopt the methods of any particular overseas pattern. Indeed, the circumstances of our own country, with a few large cities but otherwise scattered population, create difficulties of a special kind.
The Government therefore, while affirming its general policy which it now asks the Parliament to endorse, wishes to secure the benefits of a careful inquiry before decisions are made on the establishment of actual stations. In Britain and Canada, very valuable results were obtained from similar inquiries. The Beveridge Committee in the United Kingdom and the Massey Royal Commission in Canada are examples.
After the report of the royal commission has been considered the Government will make definite plans for the introduction of both national and commercial services and will bring down a more comprehensive measure so as to give the Parliament the opportunity to debate its detailed proposals for. the establishment and regulation of those services.
– This Government will not be in office then.
– If the electors could look across the table now, the Government could be quite certain that it would be returned.
– Order! Changes of government are not the subject of the bill.
– This will be the Government’s swan song.
– This short bill needs very little explanation. The principal provisions of the bill are in clauses 3 and 4, which provide for the establishment of national and commercial television stations respectively, and clause 5, which provides that the Minister may direct a specially authorized authority or the Australian Broadcasting Commission to provide the national television programmes. It will be clear from what I have said that the bill is mainly an interim measure declaring the Government’s policy that we are to have the dual national and commercial television system in this country. Nevertheless, the bill will provide statutory authority for the Government to take such action as may be desirable as a preliminary to the establishment of the services, and, if necessary, to make appropriate regulations to cope with situations which may arise before this measure is replaced by a more comprehensive act.
I have already indicated that as soon as it is in a position to do so, the Government will give the Parliament an opportunity to discuss its detailed plans for the regulation, of both national and commercial television services, but if it is found desirable in the meantime to make regulations concerning television services, the Government will be following a precedent established in the past by governments of varying shades of political thought in connexion with the control of broadcasting in its early stages. It is appropriate that, in this connexion, I should remind honorable members that it was not until broadcasting had been in operation for nine years that an act relating to broadcasting was placed on the statute-book to provide for the establishment of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and that the commercial broadcasting service was controlled by regulations under the “Wireless Telegraphy Act for the first eighteen years of its existence.
In commending this bill to the consideration o£ the House, I suggest that honorable members should not be influenced unduly by the tendency in some quarters to exaggerate the possible dangers of television and to understate its very great potentialities. The views that have been expressed on the subject are too often reminiscent of the gloomy forebodings of those who contemplated the advent of the locomotive, the automobile, the cinema, and many other notable advances in the progress of mankind. It may be that it is necessary with television, as with other innovations, to take appropriate steps to ensure that we shall progress in the right direction, but there is not the slightest doubt that television, with its tremendous social and cultural possibilities must, if prudently regulated, have a great capacity to enrich our lives and broaden our vision.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Evatt) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Fisheries Act 1952.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill proposes two short amendments of the Fisheries Act which was passed last year. The amendments are either of a procedural character, or are intended to remove doubts as to the scope of existing provisions. The act operates in waters outside territorial limits. However, some doubt has been felt whether the act, as framed, is in sufficiently wide terms to cover waters outside the territorial limits of any of the external territories, such as Papua, New Guinea and Norfolk Island. Paragraph (c) of the proposed amended definition of “ Australian waters “ is designed to remove the doubt on this point. Accordingly, the act, when amended, will clearly operate in waters outside the territorial limits of the external territories, as well as of the Australian continent. This was the original intention.
A further short amendment is concerned with the hearing of charges for offences. At present, the act provides for summary jurisdiction to be exercised by certain specified classes of judicial officers. These do not include a resident magistrate, who, in certain Western Australian coastal towns, is the only judicial officer readily available. To expedite the hearing of charges in these somewhat remote areas it has, therefore, been deemed desirable to provide ‘for summary jurisdiction to be exercised by resident magistrates.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Pearl Fisheries Act 1952.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill proposes a number of short amendments of the Pearl Fisheries Act, which was passed last year.. As in the case of the Fisheries Bill 1953, the amendments are either of a procedural character or are intended to remove doubts as to the scope of existing provisions. The Pearl Fisheries Act, like the Fisheries Act, operates in waters outside territorial limits. Again, some doubt has been felt whether the act, as framed, is in sufficiently wide terms to cover waters outside the territorial limits of any of the external territories. The proposed amendment of the definition of “ Australian waters “ is in identical terms with the amendment proposed in the Fisheries Bill 1953. Accordingly, the Pearl Fisheries Act, when amended, will clearly operate in waters outside the territorial limits of the external territories, as well as of the Australian continent.
The bill proposes, as does the Fisheries Bill 1953, that provision shall be made to include a resident magistrate as one of the specified classes of judicial officers who may hear charges for offences, so as to avoid difficulties in that regard in Western Australian coastal towns. The measure proposes two further brief amendments. The substitution of the word “ licensed “ for the word “ registered” in section 14 (e) of the act is a procedural amendment that is necessary to conform with the other provisions of the act in relation to the licensing of divers. The other proposed amendment is necessary to clear the legal position regarding the licensing of divers. It was not intended that swim divers operating for trochus, beche-de-mer, &c, in shallow waters should have to be licensed. The new sub-section 14 (2.) will make that point clear.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Debate . resumed from the 7th August, 1952 (vide page 131, Vol. No. 218), on motion by Sir Philip McBride -
That the following paper be printed: - Employment Situation - Ministerial Statement.
.- On the 7th August of last year the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip
McBride), who was then acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), made a statement to the House on the question of employment in Australia. The Government was stung into making that statement by the growing criticism throughout Australia of its failure to maintain full employment. It will be remembered that, on the occasions of the 1949 and 1951 general elections, the present Government parties made three specific promises - to reduce taxation, to maintain full employment, and to put value back into the £1. The Government has failed on all those points. Recent election results have indicated the indignation of the electors as a result of those failures. To-day, we are dealing specifically with the question of employment.
On the 7th August of last year, the Minister for Defence said -
There is really no justification for so many of these inaccurate and extravagant statements concerning unemployment.
That is the kind of statement that Ministers of this Government always make. The Minister, in the course of his remarks, gave the House the employment figures that related to the time at which the statement was made, and he also regaled the House with figures that related to an earlier period. He said that on the 25th July, 1952, there were 45,000 people out of work, or 45,000 people registered for work with the Department of Labour and National Service. He admitted that on the 30th November, 1951, the number was 12,955. But he told us that everything was going to get all right and, that the Government was triumphing in its great struggle with the demon of inflation. To-day, we have been told that the position is a little better than it was a few weeks ago. I remind the House that whereas the Minister admitted on the 7th August last that the figure, as at the preceding 25th July, was 45,000, to-day it is 79,000. It was 100,000 about a month a.go. I am citing official figures that have been supplied by the Minister for Labour and National Service. Therefore it cannot be said that the position is getting better. It can be said that the position to-day is a little better than it was in November last, but that the position to-day is much worse than it was in
July last which was in the depth of winter. Next July, the position may be even as bad as it was in December last.
Why has all this happened? The explanation is that all the Government’s policies - its imports restriction policy following its imports encouragement policy - have created unemployment. The second policy was pursued to the point at which we got an extraordinarily high adverse trade balance. Then, the Government completely reversed its policy and thus deprived quite a number of important Australian industries of essential capital and consumer goods, particularly consumer goods which would enable us to maintain employment. It has been said that this is a “fits and starts” government. So, it is. If it would pursue a particular policy to its logical conclusion, it might achieve some result; but it does not do that. It starts on a line of policy, and then reverses it. It adopted a similar policy with respect to the financing of State public works as an anti-inflationary measure under its 1950-51 budget proposals, and for that purpose the people were over-taxed to an amount of £116,000,000, which sum was to be given to the States to enable them to carry out their loan programmes and to maintain employment. This year nobody in Australia is contributing by way of taxation towards the financing of State loan programmes. The Government is using treasury-bills for that purpose. The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) admitted that he was going to expend £125,000,000 of treasury-bills under that heading this year. The amount may be increased to £200,000,000, and the effect of such high expenditure, financed by that means, must tend to increase inflation and to create further difficulties for State governments and private enterprise and thus cause further unemployment. If the Government had pursued its financial policy to its logical conclusion, possibly, it could have got somewhere, but it halted half way and reversed its policy because it was afraid of the electoral results that would come from over-taxation. The Government also adopted a policy of discriminating against the States. At least the States allege that it discriminated against them after it had agreed at meetings of the
Australian Loan Council to the raising of a certain sum of money for public works. Now, the Government has found that it has been unable to raise the requisite loan money. It has told the States to cut down their works programmes and the States have been obliged to do so through lack of loan money. Consequently, thousands of people have been thrown out of work.
– There is much more production now.
– Nobody opposes increased production. It would be a good thing for Australia if we could increase production; but I think that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) has paid the tribute to the Australian worker that he is as good as any to be found in any other country.
– Properly led and equipped.
– The Minister’s observation about being well equipped is rather a criticism of the employers of this country, who, presumably, are not as efficient as they ought to be and have not equipped their factories as they should have done. In the course of the rather extraordinary statement to which I have referred we were told that 13,480 persons were in receipt of unemployment benefit at the 26th July last. These figures were supplied by the Minister for Social Services. It was admitted that the number of recipients of unemployment benefit had risen from 658 at the 29th November, 1951, to this higher figure. In that statement we were told that the Government was grappling successfully with the problem of inflation and that, soon, unemployment would vanish. But, whilst the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Townley), in answer to a question to-day, proclaimed that fewer persons are now in receipt of unemployment benefit than were in receipt of that benefit a little time ago, he informed me that the actual number of such persons at this moment is 38,252, whereas a few weeks ago it was 42,000. That is a reduction of only a few thousands. So, it is perfectly obvious that the Government, after being in office for three years, has not maintained the position which it inherited from the Labour Government. It has destroyed full employment. It has created a pool of unemployed. On the figures which the Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied in relation to persons registered for work with his department, the number of persons now unemployed in Australia is equivalent to. approximately 2 per cent, of our work force. However, not every person -who is out of work registers as unemployed with the department. The Minister for Defence, when he made his statement in the House, was fair enough to admit that quite a number of persons who had been thrown out of work were males over 60 and 65 years of age and that quite a number of married women who had been forced out of employment had gone back to their homes. He also admitted that the figure which he cited at that time did not necessarily represent the real position because a works test as well as a means test is applied to those who are registered as unemployed. That position would tend to state unfairly the number of persons who are actually seeking employment. Then, as if to encourage the creation of a pool ‘ of unemployed, the Government, by a decision of the Cabinet, dismissed 10,000 workers in the Postal Department. They were not dismissed because there was no work for them or because no telephones were required to be connected or no exchanges were required to be erected in rural areas. A number of essential departmental undertakings were actually waiting to be carried out. But the Government, yielding to the clamour of certain interests, decided to get rid of 10,000 employees in the Postal Department. The services of thousands of employees in the Postal Department in the cities and in country districts were dispensed with and many of them found great difficulty in obtaining suitable alternative employment. The Minister for Defence, in the course of the statement to which I have referred, boasted that many workers who had been employed in factories in country districts and who had been thrown out of employment by the depression which the Government created, but which the economists euphemistically called a recession, had accepted work on farms. He said that they had gone into rural employment. That statement may, or may not, be true ; but it is a known fact that many of them were forced onto the road to carry their swags, and it is a had thing in Australia to see a person carrying his swag; it portends the oncoming of another depression. I was greatly interested and intrigued by the Government’s declaration that production on the coalfields was increasing. The VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison), who is the Minister in charge of the Royal tour, has told us repeatedly that more coal-miners are at work now than before. The Minister for Defence told us in this statement that there were 123,000 more coal-miners at work as at the 7th August last than there had ever been before in Australia. Then, a few days after that statement was made, the Government started to sack coal-miners because they had produced too much coal.
– A thousand at a time!
– Nonsense !
– I am indebted to the honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters) for his interjection to the effect that the Government sacked coal-miners at the rate of 1,000 at a time. The VicePresident of the Executive Council cannot deny that mines have been closed down at the order of his Government because they were alleged to he not economically workable.
– By the Government or by the Joint Coal Board ?
– The Government dominates the Joint Coal Board.
– Nothing of the kind! It is a State instrumentality.
– It is a “Joint” Coal Board. Its’ very name implies a joint responsibility between the Commonwealth and the State, and I cannot imagine the Vice-President of the Executive Council being in any government and not wanting to dominate and dictate.
– New South Wales has a Labour government.
– The Government starved it into submission in regard to coal as it did in regard to everything else. The Minister for Defence tried to pour balm on his wounded soul, or wounded feelings, with the observation that in Canada the unemployment rate was 4 per cent., and in the United Kingdom and the United States of America 2 per cent. There is little satisfaction to he gained by anybody from, a claim that other countries have a higher rate of unemployment than Australia has. An unemployed man finds absolutely no satisfaction in such a claim. The 42,000 people who were unemployed at Christmas time and had to live on some kind of unemployment relief did not have a very happy Christmas. In the days of the Labour Government, in the days of the “ Golden Age “, there was no unemployment in this country. It is far better to have, as we did under the Labour Government, too many jobs for the available workers than to have too few jobs available for people who want employment. The Labour Government is accused, in this statement, of having promoted a “ milk-bar economy “. Nobody but the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) who has just interjected, understands what the term “ milk-bar economy” means. It is the sort of glib phrase that Government supporters use. It was coined by a professor and, therefore, in their view, it must be right, and so, parrot-like, they keep talking about a “milk-bar economy”. In the days of the Chifley and Curtin Labour governments, this country had full employment for the first time in its history. This Government has destroyed that position, and it has no right to say that as a result of our activities a lot of unnecessary secondary industries were established. The Minister for Defence claimed that a number of non-essential industries had been fostered by the Labour Government.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate said that we should establish secondary industries in Asia and operate. them with coloured labour.
– He did not say anything of the sort.
– The honorable gentleman may read his colleague’s statement in Hansard.
– Whatever may have been said anywhere else by anybody, this Government, in this statement, proclaimed its view that secondary industries in Aus tralia ought to be hampered, and that some of them ought to be destroyed. It has said that some of them were fostered by the Labour Government, but should never have been established. What the Government really wanted, as the Minister foi1 Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) said, was that men should be thrown out of work in secondary industry and forced onto the land. This is a Government that believes in economic conscription. It believes in forcing people to work where they do not want to work. Only the other day the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) - and I hope that he is not going to say he was misreported this time - referred to the amount of unemployment in Australia as “ mere chicken-feed “. The 42,000 people who had to live on unemployment relief at Christmas time, and the 79,000 people now said to be receiving unemployment relief, represent a very big section of the Australian people. Those figures refer to good Australian men and women who want to work but cannot find employment.
It was claimed, in the apologia that the Minister for Defence presented to us last August, that before the war we had a lot of unemployment. . So we did ! The Minister stated that the unemployment rate in 1936-37 was more than 10 per cent., and in 1937-38 it was 8 per cent. Then he said that at that time the trade unions were making an application to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in respect of some other matter affecting employment.
– They applied for a prosperity loading.
– Precisely ! But they did. not say that they approved the amount of unemployment that existed. They wanted to see no unemployment. They had no control over the economy of this country at the time. The tories ruled in the Senate, the tories ruled in this House, reaction rode the whole political scene, and the trade unions could only do their best for their members through the courts of the land.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– It would be a very good tiling for this Parliament and, I am sure, a very valuable thing for Australia, if this most important subject of unemployment were to receive an objective analysis here. It is tragic for this country that the subject of employment attracts to it the most violent political controversies and becomes so distorted in its presentation to the public that very few people in Australia are actually aware of what is happening to the economy of their own country at any particular time. I say that one of the most discreditable features of the Labour party’s political campaigning in the years since the end of the war has been the manner in which that party has perverted the story of employment for its own political purposes. I put it in the strongest terms to this House that the leaders of the Labour party and their followers have wickedly and mischievously engaged, in the most irresponsible fashion, on a campaign of fear and scare in order to gain political support from the people. They are very astute political campaigners, as we know, and they have realized that nothing has more influence on the ballotbox than a sense of fear, a sense of concern or alarm about what may be done to the voter by the political opponents of those who are engaging in this campaign. So, astutely, I acknowledge, and, I assert, mischievously and wickedly, they have proceeded with this campaign over the last few years. However, I do not intend to devote the speaking time available to me to pursuing that same course. I shall try to give to the House as clear, calm and objective analysis of the Australian employment situation as the facts open to me suggest. It has been stated that there is a great deal of unemployment in Australia at this time. What are the facts? The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) admitted that in the years immediately before the war we had become accustomed, not with approval, but there it was, to a substantial percentage of unemployment in Australia. That was not chronic unemployment; but the number of people who, at any given time, were out of employment and seeking work was, by present-day standards, very high. At the period when the Australian Council of Trades Unions was applying to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court for a prosperity loading to the basic wage, unemployment registrations supplied by the trade unions themselves gave an unemployment figure of approximately 8 per cent., and, according to the Commonwealth YearBoole for 1951, a copy of which I hold in my hand, in 1939, the year of the outbreak of World War II., trade union unemployment registrations gave an unemployment figure of 9.7 per cent. Comparing like with like, the latest figure of trade union unemployment registrations that has been brought to my notice - and I repeat that these figures are supplied by the trade unions themselves to the Commonwealth Statistician - is of the order of 2 per cent. In fact, the precise figure was slightly under 2 per cent, if my recollection is correct. Therefore, while nobody wishes to see any substantial measure of unemployment in this country, it is important for the peace of mind of the people generally, and for the assistance of those who are charged with the responsibility of planning and developing our industries, that the true employment situation should be known. On the figures that I have given, it can be .claimed that, comparing the present situation with the one that we accepted as normal in the pre-war years, the existing proportion of unemployment is remarkably low.
We find also that a comparison with the other English-speaking democracies favours Australia. The United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America are all passing through a period of substantial prosperity. They are all enjoying what economists would describe as a state of full employment. Honorable members will recall that a recognized hook on the subject of full employment was written by Lord Beveridge some time ago. The figure suggested in that publication as representing a substantial condition of full employment in a free community is about 4 per cent. That does not mean that 4 per cent, of the working population is chronically unemployed. At any given time there is always a certain number of people moving from one job to another. They include, for instance, seasonal workers, perhaps transferring from one part of the country to another and waiting for their new jobs. However, as I have said, Lord Beveridge put the figure at 4 per cent. The United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America all have less than that figure at present. Unemployment in those countries is about 3 per cent, of the work force. We in Australia have a slightly lower proportion of unemployment than exists in any of those countries. I have repeatedly invited honorable members opposite to point to any industrialized country of the free world which has to-day a smaller proportion of its working population unemployed than Australia has. So far, no one has successfully taken up that challenge for the very good reason that, on the facts as we can ascertain them, no other country has a better record than Australia has.
A false impression can be given by citing some round figure and in that way putting into people’s minds a picture of a great army of unemployed seeking work. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) mentioned that the number of people registered as disengaged and seeking employment is just under 80,000. That is the latest figure in my possession. It suggests that a lot of people are out of work, but when it is spread over the length and breadth of the Commonwealth, it does not represent a big proportion of the working population at other than a few centres, as I shall indicate in more detail later.
– But it is not nice to be one of the unemployed.
– I agree, and I hope to show the honorable member if time permits something of what we are doing to provide the work opportunities that will give unemployed people a chance to secure regular jobs. But let me keep the story in its proper perspective: I ask members of the Labour party to cast their minds back to a comparatively recent period. As I have said, the number of persons seeking employment to-day is estimated at about 80,000. A census was taken in 1947. A Labour government was then in office, and we were passing through a period that was regarded as relatively prosperous. There was no scare talk about an army of unemployed or about great queues lining up at the factory gates. By pre-war standards at least, times were prosperous, and our work force was fully engaged; yet the census figures revealed that approximately 83,500 people, consisting of 66,600 males and 16,900 females, were out of work at that time. I repeat that nobody on the Opposition side of the House or on the Government side in those days talked about a serious problem of unemployment existing. In truth, there was no serious problem of unemployment in the sense of chronic unemployment. Our economic situation since the war had been so fortunate that we had become accustomed, not merely, to full employment, but to what was in fact over-employment. In other words, vacancies for employees greatly exceeded the number of men and women available to fill them. At the first onset of some degree of unemployment, there was a general feeling of concern, not only on the part of those who were out of work; but also of those who managed our industries. If the real situation had been explained to the people in a fair and reasonable way by responsible public men, the repercussions in the minds of the people would not have been nearly so great as they were; but the moment honorable members opposite saw some incidence of unemployment, they realized that they had a chance to make party political capital out of it. They developed a vested interest in depression, wretchedness, and misery. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and his colleagues stumped up and down the length and breadth of Australia talking calamity and depression and warning the people that there would be a serious setback to our economy. I say in all seriousness that had they deliberately sought to precipitate a depression by destroying the confidence of the business community and so causing a curtailment of work opportunities that might otherwise have been available, they could not have chosen a better method to do it. There has been far more unemployment in this country as the result of calamity talk than would have occurred had there been a sober and fair presentation of the position to the Australian people. I am told by Opposition members that I am talking rot. I say that, despite what happened last Saturday, there ha been a great revival of confidence amongst the Australian people. I warn members of the Labour party who are sitting back rather smugly and complacently, wallowing in their sense of elation, that if in the three months that lie ahead, the progress that has been made in the minds of the people away from thoughts of depression and concern about the future continues at the rate that has been in evidence since just before Christmas, Labour will remain for a long time yeton the Opposition benches. Our difficult economic situation was seriously aggravated by the attitude and the public declarations of honorable members opposite.
Honorable members on this side of the House, like those on the opposite side of the House, have a policy of full employment. We are no less sincere in our profession of a policy of full employment than are honorable members opposite, although we may have very different views about how a condition of full employment can be achieved. It is the Government’s firm conviction, in view of the fact that private enterprise provides four out of every five jobs held in Australia at the present time, that if men are looking for work we are more likely to give them work opportunities by encouraging a healthy expansion of private industry than by instituting some cumbersome system of public works. Of course we need a programme of public works in this country, and I and my colleagues recognize that our economy has become so geared to a substantial degree of public activities in the works field that a high level of public works must be maintained if the economy is to remain stable. On the other hand, there is far more prospect of work opportunities being provided if we can ensure that private industry will be able to go ahead and expand steadily with the development of this country. That has been the motive behind much of the Government’s policy.
We have tried to bring stability back into the Australian economy, and let no honorable member opposite underestimate, and I hope that the general public will not underestimate, the serious difficulties which confronted this Government dur ing the last year or two. Yesterday, sincere tributes were paid to the memory of a great Australian, the late Mr. Scullin, and reference was made to the misfortunes which came to Australia during his term of office. History will establish that the economic crisis that this Government had to meet was of the same order of magnitude as that which faced the Labour Government in 1929-30. In both the periods that I have just referred to there was a reduction of our export income of about 30 per cent., and had this Government not resolutely taken the measures necessary to cushion the economy against the shock of that remarkable drop in our export income, we might well have slipped into the kind of depression which developed in the early 1930’s. I do not say that as a criticism of Mr. Scullin and his colleagues of those days, because we all recognize that we have learned a great deal more about the techniques of central banking, credit control and monetary arrangements than was known and practised in those days. Undoubtedly, it was the action of the Commonwealth Bank in releasing about £400,000,000 from the private banks’ funds held in special accounts which cushioned the shock of that sharp reduction of our export income and enabled us to keep our economy on a reasonably level keel. I say again that I believe that history will record that the present Government did a remarkably fine job in coping with the economic difficulties which have presented themselves to it.
The truth of what I have said is shown in the fact that we have passed through those difficulties and reached a stable basic wage for the first time since 1949. We have reached an employment situation where less than 2 per cent, of the work force are seeking work. Throughout the length and breadth of Australia great new industries are about to commence, or established industries are in. process of expansion. I believe that the economy at present, subject only to the difficulties created by our high cost structure, is in a position which could well lead to the most prosperous era in the history of the Commonwealth. That position has been brought about not only by Government policy, although I believe that the Australian Government, by its stern and resolute measures, has largely achieved that satisfactory result. A strong economic position has ‘also been promoted by the sound, optimistic and sane approach of many of those who lead the great industries of this country. Wherever we go in Australia to-day we see the evidence of confidence in our future. I refer honorable members to Port Kembla with its great rolling mill’s project, to Mount Morgan and Mount Isa. with their developing mine activity, to the Northern Territory where uranium fields, metalliferous mines and pastoral industries are developing, to Yampi Sound where iron ore deposits are now being worked, to a corner of Western Australia where the Western Australian Government has put great areas of land into agricultural production, to South Australia where an enterprising assurance company is bringing fertility and productivity to very unpromising land, to the development of uranium production in South Australia and to the aluminium project at Bell Bay.
– They are all projects.
– They are not all projects in the developmental stage. Many of those enterprises are in production and are expanding. I also refer honorable members to the great Heinz project at Dandenong, and to the £11,000,000 that is being spent to expand the works of General Motors-Holdens Limited. All those activities indicate the confidence in the future of this country that is held by industrial leaders and governments.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The speech of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) has been soothing to honorable members of his own party, but has carried no reassurance to those who are without work. I represent an industrial electorate, and week by week people are coming to me and telling me that they need work. Some have informed me that they have been out of employment for quite a considerable time. The Minister said that the Government, believed in full employment. That statement was also made when the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip
McBride) presented the paper that is now the subject of debate in this House. He then said - . . the Government accepts its responsibility for maintaining full employment. I do not deny that we have passed from a condition of over full employment . . .
Apparently the debate, from the viewpoint of the Government, will be confined to turning five phrases concerning the degree of full employment. The Minister suggested that only 2 per cent, of the working population of Australia are at present unemployed. I suggest that 2 per cent, still represents a considerable number. Let us attempt to get this matter into its proper perspective. When the Opposition advocates full employment, it means that it believes that everybody in the community who wants a job should be able to find one. Two factors must be borne in mind. The population of Australia is not constant: it grows annually in two ways - by natural increase of about 100,000 persons a year and, since the war, by about 100,000 immigrants a year. Therefore, our population is increasing at the rate of about 200,000 persons annually. It must be realized that this increase has resulted in an additional number of persons between the ages of 15 and 65 who now seek jobs. There should have been more jobs available in this country in January of this year than in the corresponding month of 1951 and 1952.
The Monthly Bulletin of Employment Statistics published by the Commonwealth Statistician contains detailed figures in relation to both governmental employment and private employment in this country. The November, 1952, issue of that publication - the latest available - shows that in that month 2,533,100 people were employed in this country, compared with 2,630,000 in June of 1951 and the employment categories are shown. ‘Approximately 100,000 more people were employed in June, 1951, than in November, 1952, despite the fact that, for the reasons I have mentioned, there should have been available in November last about 150,000 more jobs than in June, 1951. This is an indication of the degree of unemployment that exists in Australia at present. It cannot be seriously contended by supporters of the Government that all persons who seek employment to-day are able to find jobs. I point out that the figures I have cited do not include persons in part-time employment. In Melbourne more than 1,000 waterside workers a day are being paid attendance money, which is a form of unemployment benefit. In addition, many tally clerks are working only part-time, but do not receive any such payment. Honorable members who have a knowledge of the clothing trade are aware that just prior to the Christmas holidays many employers told their employees that they did not know when they would again require their services, and that they would let them know if they wanted them to report for work after the holidays. Many clothing trade workers have not been employed since the Christmas vacation. It is all very well for the Minister for Labour and National Service to claim that the Government has the employment situation well in hand. He should be realistic. The results of recent general elections in three of the States show that many people are dissatisfied with the present state of affairs. In two States which were formerly governed by non-Labour governments, Labour governments have been elected. That is a clear indication that the people of those States are dissatisfied with the present Australian Government. I believe that about 200,000 persons in this country who seek jobs cannot find them. In other words, 200,000 families, or from 400,000 to 500,000 persons, are, directly or indirectly, suffering hardship as the result of the policy of the present Australian Government. Yet the Minister claims that the Government has mastered a technique to avert a depression. 1 believe that, as a result of its complacency, the Government is trembling on the brink of another depression.
Another recent publication by the Commonwealth Statistician contains details of retail sales of goods in Australia. Supporters of the Government have claimed that inflation has been halted. However, owing to higher prices, the majority of employees now have to pay a greater proportion of their income for the purchase of food and clothing than formerly, and they have less real spending power left for the purchase of furniture and household goods. As a result there has been a noticeable decline in the electrical goods, furniture manufacturing, and hardware industries. The Government has announced its intention to open again the flood-gates to permit additional imports to enter this country. This will result in the textile industry being confronted with serious competition from overseas manufacturers. I do not believe that the Government is fully aware of the economic implications of the policy it is applying. It is not grappling adequately with the situtaion
The Minister has referred to a book that was written by Lord Beveridge, Full Employment in a Free Society. I am sure that if he were to re-examine the thesis that was advanced by Lord Beveridge he would not be quite so complacent about the situation in Australia at the present time. “When the durable goods industries and capital goods industries begin to decline we are on the edge of a recession or a deflationary period. However, we are at present debating the very human subject of employment. Upon an individual’s employment depends his ability to purchase the goods and services that he requires to enable himself and his family to live decently in a civilized society. I remind honorable members that this important matter has remained on the notice-paper since August of last year. It has been brought forward to-day only because the Government is not ready to proceed with other business. This is a very serious indictment of the Government, which, unfortunately, is true. The matter should have been debated during the last sessional period of the Parliament. This afternoon, after several bills had .been introduced, the Government decided to bring this matter forward only because it was not . prepared to proceed with other business.
– Order ! The honorable member is not permitted to reflect ou the proceedings of the House.
– This subject has not received from the Government the consideration that it warrants. It is a most serious matter.
– My department has released an official review every month.
– I am aware of that, and I have cited the figures contained in the publication of November last, which, show that the number of persons then in employment in this country had declined steadily during the last eighteen months. In November there were more than 100,000 persons less in employment than eighteen months previously. Because of our greater population, due to natura) increase and immigration, there should have been about 150,000 more persons in employment in November last than in June, 1951. Yet the Minister comiplacently says that this month the number of persons registered for the unemployment benefit are some hundreds fewer than was the case last month. Surely, during the Christmas period unemployment should have lessened to some degree. As we know, there is greater activity during the Christmas season than at any other period of the year. The Minister should look ahead to the possible unemployment figures in March next rather than look back to what has happened in the past. If he does so I suggest that he will be able to see whether or not the position is’ on the upturn. He cannot seriously claim that it is on the upturn on the basis of the present figures. To thrust the matter aside, as you have done, is to be recreant to your trust as a responsible Minister of the Crown.
– Order! The honorable member must address the Chair.
– The greatest source of employment in Australia is what is described as private enterprise. If an analysis is made of the figures relating to private employment it will be found that most of it is provided by the secondary industries. The people have every reason to be doubtful about the bona fides of this Government in relation to the future of the secondary industries. Before the Parliament went into recess last year the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) went abroad to represent Australia at a gathering of Ministers of the British Commonwealth known as the London Economic Conference. The right honorable gentleman is now back in Australia, but we have not heard a single word from him about the important matters that were dealt with at the conference. Some statements have been published in the press about the manner in which Australia is to co-operate with other parts of the British Commonwealth, but not a word has been uttered in this Parliament by the Prime Minister regarding the deliberations and decisions of the conference. A suggestion was made in London that in Australia there had been too much development of secondary industries and too little development of primary activities, the implication being that Australia should cease further to develop its secondary industries and force its people into primary activities. A realistic appraisal of the employment situation in Australia leads us to an appreciation of the inescapable fact that, in the field of general employment, six of every seven Australians must find work in secondary rather than in primary industries.
The Australian public should be very careful about some of the glib assumptions about employment in Australia that are apparently being made by certain persons on the other side of the world. At present the unemployed in Australia number approximately 200,000 persons. As every honorable member opposite well knows, if these people are re-employed they will not be engaged in the land industries. When compared with total employment in Australia the scope for employment in primary industries is relatively small. We should look very closely at some of the promises that appear to have been made in Australia’s name at the London Economic Conference. I trust that an opportunity will be given to the House to debate the very important matters which were dealt with by that gathering. I should have thought that a Prime Minister who had but recently returned from such an important mission would immediately have made a statement to the House on the results of his endeavours and given honorable members an opportunity properly to debate it. He should have told us what he believes we should do and then invited us to discuss the merits of his proposals. I regret that he has not done so. In many ways the object of the Prime Minister’s visit to London is allied with the subject which the House is now debating. We contend that there is considerable unemployment in Australia at present and that the solution of the unemployment problem is a job which the Government and the
Parliament should, tackle. If the Government will not tackle the unemployment problem it should make way for another government which would be willing to do so and, moreover, one which believes that full employment is attained, not if 2 per cent.’ of the people is unemployed, but only if employment is available for every person who wants to work. This Government does not care whether 2 per cent, or 20 per cent, of the population is unemployed. The manner in which this Government has been going about its task indicates that it will have no say in keeping unemployment down even to the high level of 20 per cent.
The Minister believes that all is well because we are able to sell all the food and clothing that we produce. He complacently ignores the fact that recessions have taken place in industries other than the food and clothing industries. A recession in one industry means the laying off of employees and the consequent diminution of the spending power of the community which must adversely affect other industries. I urge the Government not to content itself by saying that in Australia the percentage of unemployment is lower than it is in Canada or in Great Britain. We cannot do much about unemployment in Canada or Great Britain, but we can do a great deal about it in Australia. The extent of unemployment in Australia and not our position compared with that of other countries is the real problem that faces the Government.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The last remark made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) suggests that a great deal should be done to relieve the unemployment that exists in Australia. We all acknowledge that unemployment is a tragedy, the incidence or the continued existence of which no political party, whatever its colour may be, would wish to allow while it is in office; but it is rather astute political tactics for the Labour party, while it is in Opposition in this Parliament, to indulge in calamity howling in the hope that it may exacerbate any condition of employment that may have arisen as the result of the economic policy of the Government - a policy which, in fact, ensured that unemployment would be kept to a minimum and that, in due course, those who were unemployed would be completely absorbed in industry and that the objective of full employment in the community would be achieved. If we cast our minds back to 1949, when this Government was first elected to office, we will recall’ that one of the principal factors that brought about the defeat of the Chifley Labour Government was an awareness by the people of the undue stresses and strains placed on our economy by the somewhat irresponsible methods, of administration adopted by the Chifley Government. At that time inflation was not merely a threat; it was booming. Honorable members will recall that at that time most of the principal commodities required in the average household were in short supply. Let us con,sider the effect of that position on the employment situation. When the housewife went to the local grocery store to purchase goods for her home she found many goods in short supply, but in many instances her grocer was able to offer her two or three times the number of goods that she required. The shopkeeper had quantities of certain lines far in excess of his normal trading requirements and he was desperately short of others. He was advised by merchants’ travellers to buy larger quantities of available goods in order to offset the continual prices rises which were being made at that time. It was good business tactics to buy for 2s. stock for which 2s. 6d. would have to be paid the following week. An excessive demand which started in the home was transferred to the corner shop and from the corner shop to the wholesaler. Orders in excess of actual consumption were placed with manufacturers which they were unable to meet. Additional industries were established in order to supply more commodities for this false and fictitious market, which would eventually become saturated.
That is what was occurring in Australia in 1949, when this Government came to power. Had it pursued the policy of the Labour Government there can be no doubt but that the time would quickly have arrived when the housewife would have found that she had purchased as much as she could possibly use for some considerable time and she would have ceased to buy at the corner shop. The corner shop, having an excess of goods, would then have ceased to purchase from the wholesalers and the wholesalers would have ceased to purchase from the manufacturers. The bubble which had been created by the inefficient administration of the Labour Government would then have burst. The manufacturer, having no cause to produce, would close down and the first to go would be the last established - the small man who had gambled the few hundred pounds that he had saved - the returned soldier who had ventured into a new field of business which was only temporary because of the fictitious market. As those people went broke unemployment would have reared its head. People would have had less money to buy goods and the situation would snowball. The continuation of the policy of the Labour party would, have resulted in almost total unemployment and a depression which would nave made the depression of the nineteen thirties look like a mere recession in trade.
The present Government recognized that fact when it came to power and made no secret of the fact that it would administer a medicine as a result of which some people would be hurt but not hurt as much as they would have been if the medicine were not administered and the Labour party’s policy allowed to develop. By means of economic restrictions the Government stabilized the economy. During the transition period it stopped the continued development of those industries which were trying to meet the fictitious demand to which I have referred. By doing that the Government prevented unemployment. It then endeavoured to give an impetus to the basic industries which produce the goods in which Australia is rich and which we can produce in competition with any other nation in the world. Those industries had been deprived of man-power, capital and materials by the development of other industries. As a result of the Government’s policy, labour was transferred from the less economic industries to the basic industries. The Government has done that with a minimum of unemployment. During the period of transition the unemployment figures have never been greater than they were during the Labour party’s period of office. Members of the Opposition have boasted that they stand for full employment yet the Labour Government allowed conditions to develop that would have created wholesale unemployment. The Government has ensured a continuation of employment. The Government parties are sincere in their desire for full employment. The Labour party has given only lip service to the people.
Most of the unemployment in Australia has been confined to the States that are administered by Labour governments. All the State Labour governments have conducted a campaign to frustrate efficient administration by this Government. Each Labour Premier has refused to co-operate with the Australian Government for the benefit of Australia and lias endeavoured, to frustrate the efforts of the Government regardless of the effect that his action would have on employment. The Labour party is renowned for the ruthless tactics tha.t it employs in political battles. In New South Wales, Queensland and other Labour States, the welfare of the community has been sacrificed for purely political purposes in an attempt to embarrass the Australian Government. Figures were made available by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) to-day which prove conclusively that attempts have been made by State Labour governments to cause unemployment for tactical purposes. The figures furnished by the Minister show that in the Labour State of New South Wales the number of unemployed is 22,053. In the Liberal States of South Australia and Western Australia there has been practically no unemployment. In those States work is still available. The unemployed in the Liberal States of Western Australia and South Australia total 2,300. In New South Wales they total 22,053. In Queensland the total is 6,335. I suggest that the difference between the unemployment figures in the Labour States and the Liberal States indicates only too clearly that if the Australian Government had been able- to obtain the honest and sincere co-operation of the State Labour governments in the fulfilment of its policy, its plan would have been successful ere now and the unemployment in Kew South Wales which has been gloatingly referred to by Opposition members, would not have occurred.
The Australian Government has endeavoured to fulfil its policy irrespective of the degree of political unpopularity that it might bring, knowing that it would be for the advantage of the Australian people. We must acknowledge that the Labour party has been most successful, with clever, cunning and completely ruthless political tactics, in implementing its policy at the expense of the people whom it claims to represent.
I whole-heartedly support the financial and economic policy adopted by the Menzies-Fadden Government. I shall stand or fall by that .policy, because I know full well that it has been implemented for the benefit of the community, that there has been a minimum of unemployment, and that our policy has saved this country from a great economic depression, with accompanying widespread unemployment, which certainly would have occurred had the Chifley Labour Government remained in office.
.- The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) has stated that the Labour party has adopted a policy of non-co-operation with the present Government. Well, we are not Ministers of the Crown. We offer advice to the Government from time to time, and, when it is unheeded, we are bound to state our case as we see it. The honorable member has also asserted that the Labour party is responsible for the unemployment that now exists. I reject that statement. The persons responsible for the approaching downfall of this Government are honorable members opposite and the people with whom they associate. Of course, those people do not include the workers.
The honorable member for Lilley has also said that unemployment is greatest in New South Wales, which has had a Labour Government for twelve years. A percentage of the unemployment in that State is undoubtedly due to the closing of certain coal-mines. For that position, the Labour Government of New South Wales is not in any way responsible. The mines were closed at the direction of the Joint Coal Board, which comes directly under the administration of the Menzies Government. The board has closed a number of mines, because it is not continuing the policy laid down by its former chairman, Mr. Norman Mighell, which was to mix coal of inferior -quality with coal of superior quality. During World War II. coals of varying grades were mixed and were burnt with satisfactory results. The inferior coal, which is produced by the smaller mines, is good steaming coal. Consumers were compelled to accept it during the lock-out on the coal-fields in 1929 and 1930, and they were obliged to use a mixture of coals of superior quality and inferior quality during World War II. as the result of Mr. Mighell’s admirable policy. Unfortunately, that policy has been abandoned, because the consumers now insist upon a supply of superior quality coal only. I refer specifically to the Maitland coal, or what is termed the Greta seam of coal, which has a high gas and oil content. I am not a learned .professor of geology, but I profess to have a thorough knowledge of the coal-mining industry, and I agree with those authorities who have stated that it is a tragedy to burn the high quality Greta coal for steaming purposes. The high oil and gas content of this coal makes it imperative that it be reserved for more important uses. Indeed, coal from the Maitland seam has the highest oil and gas content of any coal in the world.
When Mr. Mighell administered the Joint Coal Board, the Greta coal was mixed with coal of an inferior quality, and the mixture was eagerly purchased by consumers. Now, however, buyers insist that they be supplied with only the best coal. They have no consideration for the requirements of future generations in this country when they are prepared to “ murder “ the richest coal in the world. When I was abroad some years ago I was informed that Great Britain and Germany secured 98 per cent, of their coal seams, but Australia is securing barely 30 per cent, of its richest coal. The VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison), whom I have described from time to time as the “ coalminer from Bondi Beach “, interjected when the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) was addressing the House on the subject of unemployment in the coal-mining industry and the closing down of mines. The right honorable gentleman said that the Joint Coal Board, and not this Government, was responsible for the closing of certain mines. I reject that statement. This Government administers the board, and may issue directions to it on matters of policy. I consider that the Government should direct the board to resume the practice of mixing of coals of superior and inferior quality, as was done a. few years ago. Fifty years hence, the Greta seam will have ceased to exist. It is a tragedy when such rich coal is wasted in the way in which it is being wasted at the present time.
I think that every honorable member will concede that I have a thorough knowledge of the coal-mining industry, because I worked in that industry for many years before I became a member of the Parliament. I have a knowledge of the small mines, some of which were developed by coal-miners after their retirement from the larger mines. My clear old father had one of these mines in his own backyard at Lambton. He never had the proverbial “ two bob “, but his sons and his friends helped him to develop the mine, and the coal was sold to soapworks and various industries in the district. Many small mines have been developed on a worthwhile scale, and some of them yield from 800 to 1,000 tons of coal a day. Small mines in what I term the “ .Newcastle end “ of my electorate, which stretches towards Lake Macquarie and adjoins the electorate of Robertson, have been closed. The owners of those mines, who have invested their savings in them., are now impoverished, because the Joint ‘Coal Board will not accept their coal. I admit that at the instruction of the Government the board accepted a certain quantity of coal from these mines, but nevertheless the owners ure in serious financial straits.
In the neighbourhood of , Cardiff, and in other areas on the coal-fields, big, black, dirty-looking heaps of coal dominate the Whole scene. There are many thousands of tons of coal at grass, which will deteriorate in the weather, and ultimately become useless. This position is tragic, because the coal-miners acceded to the exhortations of successive governments to increase the output of coal. Honorable members will recall that, during World War II. and in the post-war years, governments urged the coal-miners to produce more coal. The miners proceeded to produce coal, in such quantities that the supply now exceeds the demand, and men are getting the sack. Obviously, the Government is not able to find markets for all the coal that is being won. Honorable members will also recall that Australia imported coal during World War I., and subsequently established large reserves, which were used against the coalminers during the lockout in 1929-30 that lasted for fifteen dreadful months. The coal that was at grass was used to lock the miners out and to force a 12-^ per cent, reduction of wages. Supporters of the Government often complain that the miners use direct action, but I remind them that the Bruce-Page Government stood idly by for fifteen months whilst the miners were locked out and made no attempt to implement the laws which this Parliament had passed. Finally, the miners were starved into submission. Since that time, however, coal.miners have become wary of building up stocks of coal. In my electorate there-are 500,000 tons of coal at grass at the present time, and I should like to know what is to become of that coal.
The Minister for Labour and National Service stated that 2 per cent, of Australians are at present unemployed, but I point out that at least 2 per cent, of coal-miners alone are unemployed. The Minister also stated that the employment position is not as bad as it was in 1930, but it seems to me that the actions of the Government will lead us into another depression which may be similar to the previous one. Although the Minister said that the position is not as bad to-day as it was then, he did not say that it will not become as bad.
Not only miners but also textile workers are unemployed. The textile industry suffered a great deal because of the import policy of the Government, as the result of which rayon goods, which originally came from Japan, were branded “ Hong Kong” and sold as goods of British origin. They thus became entitled to preferential treatment, despite the fact that they were actually manufactured in Japan. I admit that there has been a slight improvement in the employment position of the textile industry, but the workers employed in the industry are not as numerous as those stood down. Thousands of women, who previously worked in the textile industry, are now unemployed. In that connexion, it is pertinent to ask why a woman should not have the same right to work as a man. She also has responsibilities. Tn my opinion, a woman should never be asked to do for less pay the same work as an adult man performs. I hope that in the near future, when Labour is returned to office, equal pay for women who do the same work as adult males will become a reality.
Many waterside workers reside in my electorate, and many of them receive attendance money. Indeed, the number of those in receipt of such money has increased considerably in the Newcastle area recently. Attendance money is really a method of appeasing a person because employment cannot be found for him. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) has stated that, at the present time, more than 1,000 water-, side workers in Melbourne receive attendance money daily. “When Labour was in office, there were 100,000 vacancies for employment. Now it is admitted that there are approximately 250,000 unemployed in Australia.
Government supporters interjecting,
– “When the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. “Wight) stated that there are 6,335 unemployed in Queensland, honorable members opposite had nothing to say because of the fact that there is a Labour government in Queensland. I feel very keenly about this question of unemployment. If it is desired to have contentment in’ the community and to inculcate love of country, it is necessary to give the people something worth while to protect. When they are unemployed, all incentive to protect their country vanishes.
According to the honorable member for Lilley, every industry is declining. That may, or may not, be true. If it is true, I suggest that the reason for the decline is that the proprietors of industry do not want to pay high wages. Certainly there is plenty of work to be done. I honestly believe that this Government does not agree with high rates of pay. It apparently does not appreciate that it is necessary to give incentives to the workers who, after all, are the ones who fight for the country in time of national crisis. I ask honorable members opposite where the troops come from in time of war. It is notorious that the moneyed classes limit their families to one or two children, and that such people believe that the workers should be encouraged to have as many children as possible. However, when it comes to fighting to defend the country, they at once look to the working classes.
– Those statements are not correct, judging by the representatives of the working classes in this Parliament.
– Of course, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) fought in the last war, and it is true that he is not a member of the working classes about which I have been speaking. The honorable member became an officer. He was too shrewd to be an ordinary private.
– The honorable member for Henty was also a private soldier.
– I do not wish to pursue the subject. It is not my intention to ridicule anybody. I admire a man, no matter from which class he comes, if he is prepared to give his life for his country. I repeat, however, that the majority of persons who offer their lives for their country come from the working classes. They are the cannon fodder. In time of war such people are told that if they go and fight, their interests will be protected. They are also told that if they are unfortunate enough to be killed those whom they leave behind will not be left to want. I fought against the reduction of ex-servicemen’s pensions under the Premiers plan.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I shall begin my speech by referring to some of the points that were raised by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean). He is one of the moderate speakers on the Opposition side of the House, and usually does not indulge in exaggeration. However, I thought that he talked with his tongue in his cheek this afternoon, when he dealt with the important human issue of unemployment. He used statistics in a way that magnified the effects- of unemployment so that his case appeared, at first view, to be better than it was in fact. I ask him now to cencede that 3 per cent, of unemployment in the community, which was the proportion indicated by his figures, would scarcely affect 500,000 people. We have only 9,000,000 persons in Australia, and it is highly improbable that such a small percentage of unemployment as he mentioned would affect such a vast section of the population. It is reasonable for me to urge the honorable member, in the circumstances, to relate his arguments to the position as it is. He cited figures from reports of the Commonwealth Statistician, but neglected to advise the House that his total of 2,500,000 employed persons did not include persons engaged in rural industry and domestic service. In fact, the total employment figure for Australia is about 3,843,000.
Unless we consider all the facts, we shall be confronted with a clouded picture. The honorable member is guilty, perhaps unwittingly, of insufficient preparation of his facts and, consequently, of misleading himself and, incidentally, the House. When we consider the problem of unemployment we should be honorable enough, amongst ourselves, to state the facts clearly and fully. Political parties of all descriptions at various times have sought to gain kudos by declaring that they stand for full employment and that, if they gain power, they will introduce, full employment in Australia. To all rational Australians it is obvious that any political party would have great difficulty in substantiating such a boast. I am prepared to concede that a political party, when in power, can pursue policies that encourage expansion and, therefore, employment. But it would be sheer nonsense for a party to claim all the credit for a condition of full employment. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The conditions that prevailed in Australia in the years immediately after World War II., of which honorable members opposite have boasted so frequently, would have existed under any government at that time. I have never said that Mr. Scullin and his Government were responsible for the depression that wracked Australia during the ‘thirties because I believe, as do all rational, sensible, and educated people, that the great depression fell upon Australia in spite of, not because of, the government of the day. That government, pursuing its policies as best it could according to its own lights, made a great onslaught on the depression and did all that it could to lighten its effects on the people. Had the Bruce-Page Government remained in power, I believe that the same results would have followed from the impact of the depression on this country. That government would have been almost as powerless as was the Scullin Government against the forces of economic depression. Therefore, I submit, it is improper for politicians to say that their policies are principally responsible for full employment in the community to-day.
Pull employment reflects the efficiency of the economic machinery of a community. Thousands of factors contribute to that efficiency, but I believe that the human element of the desire to work is of prime importance. I ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, therefore, to ask himself whether the total productive output of the 99.9 per cent, of our workers who were employed in 1950-51 was greater or less than is that of the 97 per cent, of workers who, according to him, are in employment now. I believe that I can trust him to answer the question honestly. I regret to advise him that he will discover that, from the point of view of fundamental material production, the output of the 97 per cent, of workers in employment to-day is greater than was the output of the 99.9 per cent, of workers who were in employment in 1950-51. This fact presents us with a human problem which must be faced by all Australians who wish to help the Australian economy. It is a very serious problem. Many employers have told me that, although they have been obliged to reduce the number of their employees, the output of their industries has increased. For example, where 100 workers formerly produced 100 units, 90 workers now produce 120 units. “When employers had to reduce the number of their employees, they expected production to decrease accordingly. Contrary to their expectations; production increased.
This peculiar fact must make it apparent to everybody who has made an honest analysis of the economic situation of the country that most Australians previously were not’ pulling their weight. I ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and his colleagues to consider this circumstance, not in a political sense, but in an economic sense. If they study the facts carefully, they must admit in their hearts that my statements are true. A study of the history of the Australian economy since 1920 shows that the efficiency of the nation as an economic unit has varied according to circumstances. During the period from 1920 to 1927, the proportion of unemployment in the community was 5 per cent, or 6 per cent. Professor Giblin, in his history of the Commonwealth Bank, -recorded statistics for succeeding years which showed that the proportion was 10 per cent, in 1928-29, the year when the’ Scullin Government took office and when the great economic depression was beginning to develop. The proportion in 1929- 30 was 15 per cent. It rose in 1930- 31 to 24 per cent., and in 1931-32 it reached the record level of 29 per cent. Gradually, all over the world the nations fought back the depression and the economic circumstances in all countries, disastrous though they were, definitely began to improve after 1931-32. The proportion of unemployment was reduced in 1932-33 to 27 per cent. In 1933-34 it fell to 23 per cent., and in 1934-35 it came down to 19 per cent. At the outbreak of “World War II., 9.7 per cent, of the population were unemployed. That was a reflection of the efficiency of the community. In the post-war period an excess of money in the community was used to compete for goods and services which were in short supply. Obviously those who have suffered most from the change in Australia’s costing are the people on salaries, the thrifty and the middle class. They comprise generally the most intelligent group in the community. They spend their wages more wisely than any others. Those who have been on set salaries have been hit hardest because the basic wage has risen until Australia is costing itself beyond its capacity to operate as an efficient economic unit in a national sense. If that position is maintained, Australia could easily find itself out on a limb should overseas markets decline and people in other countries stop worrying about the possibility of a war in Europe. If competitors such as Germany and Japan re-enter the international commercial field, Australia will be staggered by their competition, for it will be pinned down by the difficulties of its own costing problem. That must lead to more unemployment.
We cannot dictate our standards to others either by political effort or by purely internal economic action. We must realize that in every race there are competitors. In the commercial and economic fields the other nations are our competitors. If they are prepared to work harder and produce at lower costing levels, we will not be able to compete against them successfully unless we have infinitely greater power and desire to work, more “ know-how “ and all the other necessary attributes. It is useless for u3 to say that we can do with half the labour in half the time all that others are accomplishing. It cannot be done. Great Britain is being affected adversely by German engineering products because the people of Germany are working harder and producing more cheaply commodities of a standard comparable with those that Great Britain is producing at higher cost. If Australia proposes to do anything about unemployment politically, attention should be devoted first to the costing problem. We will not achieve anything simply by political action. If honorable members would study costing closely, they would quickly be convinced of the necessity for a complete review immediately of all factors that affect the general problem of costing.
I believe that the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) will agree that prominent Australian trade union officers recently have stated publicly that the rise of the basic wage has militated against the welfare of the workers. One of the leaders of the Australian Workers Union said recently that the whole system of arbitration had reached a position where it was in effect, operating against the interests of the workers. That was a sensible statement by a prominent trade union officer, and the Parliament should consider immediately how much substance there is in it. We must examine fully the efficiency of the national economy as a whole. I do not claim for this Government any more than general kudos for the total improvement in Australia’s production. I believe that the Government deserves a pat on the back for having risked and incurred political unpopularity to take action to increase Australia’s productive effort. Itsefforts have met with marked success. That is evident from a comparative study of statistics for 1948-49 and for 1951-52. I refer to the period of 1948-49 because the great coal strike which affected production in 1949-50 occurred outside that financial year. In 1948-49 the output of bricks was 717,000,000. Last year it had increased to 918,000,000. Production of cement increased from 1,031,000 tons to 1,260,000 tons. The number of new houses constructed has risen from 51,339 in 1948-49 to 77,415 last year. I know that in the earlier years there was a scarcity of certain building materials, but gradually the economy has been becoming sounder despite inflation. One of the responsible factors has been the industrial peace that Australia has enjoyed since 1950. I do not say that this Government can take all the credit for that fact, but the honorable member for Bendigo and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) will agree surely that since the 10th December, 1949, there has been less industrial strife in Australia than there was in the three years preceding that date.
– Is that not world-wide?
– I do not know that that is so. I am prepared to concede that the honorable member for Bendigo may have a good point there, but even if he is right, at least this Government cannot be criticized in that regard. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) has reminded me that conservative governments are in office elsewhere also.
– The United Kingdom had a Labour government for a long time.
– I might retort that the Labour Government in Great Britain could be considered to be a conservative government compared with the Labour government that was in office in Australia, but that would be too unkind a charge. When all factors are considered, the Australian economy will be seen to be more stable now than it has been at any time during the post-war period. If honorable members propose to give attention to the problems of the national economy, the Parliament should look first at costs because that is the greatest single factor affecting production. It will lead to unemployment more quickly than anything else if it causes Australia to be costed out of its markets. This discussion has become an argument about policy. In fact, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) has charged the Government with engaging in a policy that will lead to unemployment. That is not true and rational supporters of the Opposition will not accept it.
Debate (on motion by Mr.Joshua) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) - by leaveagreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to the Royal Style and Titles.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a bill for an act relating to the Royal Style and Titles. It has become necessary to introduce a measure of this kind because, as all honorable members know, in modern times there have been changes in the constitutional structure of the British Commonwealth. Those changes, which were, first of all, dealt with in terms of form in more recent times in the preamble to the Statute of Westminster, have now called for fresh consideration, because since the Statute of Westminster India has become a republic, the title “ Head of the Commonwealth “ has been devised, and there have been additions to the number of those nations which form, in total, the Commonwealth of Nations.
The bill is quite short. Perhaps I should begin by saying that what this Parliament is being invited to approve is that the Royal Style and Title in Australia in respect of the reign of her present Majesty should be -
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Australia and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.
If honorable members will look at the bill, they will see that it recites in fairly full terms the decisions that were taken by the conference of Prime Ministers in London in December. At one stage, I contemplated reading to the House the communique that was issued on this point at the end of that conference, but if honorable members look at the recitals, they will see the substance of what was then done. Perhaps it will be convenient if I run through the preamble in that sense. It begins with the statement that it was recited in the preamble to the Statute of Westminster, 1931, that it would be in accord with the established constitutional position of all the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations in relation to one another that any alteration in the law touching the Royal Style and Titles should, after the enactment of that act, “require the assent as well of the Parliaments of all the Dominions as of the Parliament of the United Kingdom “.
The preamble goes on to refer to a proclamation that was made by His late Majesty, King George V., just before the enactment of the Statute of Westminster. Then it recites that at the conference in London in December, 1952,. representatives of Her Majesty’s governments in the United Kingdom, Australia and all the countries there represented agreed that changes should be made. The following paragraph of the preamble indicates what the real substance of the agreement was. It states -
And whereas it was concluded by the Prime Ministers and other representatives that, in the present stage of development of the British Commonwealth relationship, it would be in accord with the established constitutional position that each member country should use for its own purposes a form of the Royal Style and Titles which suits its own particular circumstances but retains a substantial element which is common to all:
That conference represented a real attempt to satisfy both of those conditions. If I may interrupt myself, I should like to say to honorable members that not all of the portions of the Royal Title, as we have been accustomed to it, can be regarded as appropriate in every portion of the British Commonwealth. In the British Commonwealth we now have great countries like India, Pakistan and Ceylon, in which the vast majority of the inhabitants are not of the same religious faith as the people of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and other countries. The ancient references, which all of us in this place value so much, to “ the Grace of God “ and to the position of the Monarch as the Defender of the Faith are not necessarily regarded as appropriate by some of the other nations of the British Commonwealth. Therefore, we all met, realizing that accommodation had to be granted on those points one to another, but that, as far as possible, we should retain certain common elements which would serve to remind everybody that the Crown still remains the great symbol of unity of the whole family of nations.
I shall say something about the reasons in a moment, but, in the result, the titles that will be used in the various countries of the British Commonwealth may seem, on the surface, to be quite varied. I believe that the United Kingdom Parliament has already introduced legislation to provide for the new title. In the case of the United Kingdom, it will be -
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth. Defender of the Faith.
In the case of Canada, the title will be -
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.
In the case of Australia, as I have just indicated, the title will be the same, except that “ Australia “ will be substituted for “ Canada “, the United Kingdom having been first referred to. The same applies to New Zealand, where “ New Zealand “ will appear after “ the United Kingdom “. In the case of South Africa, where there are certain problems which one recognizes very willingly and which distinguish the case of that country from that of other countries of the British Commonwealth, the title will be -
Elizabeth the Second, Queen of South Africa and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth.
In the case of Pakistan the title will be -
Elizabeth the Second, Queen of the United Kingdom and her other realms and territories, Head of the Commonwealth.
In the case of Ceylon the title will be -
Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Ceylon and of her other realms and territories, Head of the Commonwealth.
At first blush that may seem a great variety, but it is necessary to point out that the British Commonwealth represents a very great variety. One of the things that has made it in the course of its history is that it has recognized diversity but has always produced unity. Therefore, these variations are not to be taken as exhibiting some oddity on the .part of anybody. Some countries of the British Commonwealth are in one tradition and in one religious tradition. Other countries are not. They have their own religious faith to which they adhere most strongly and most properly. Then, we recognize that there are certain things which may not apply to other nations within the British Commonwealth. One of the things many of us like to look back upon is that ever since William Rufus was crowned there has been a reference in the title of the monarch to “ the grace of God “, because ever since that coronation it has been recognized that the coronation is a Christian ceremony and, therefore, this reference runs through the history of the Crown. That does not apply to other countries. It certainly applies to us because we stand in the direct line of that tradition.
The preamble goes on to recite that -
Whereas it was further agreed by the PrimeMinisters and other representatives that the procedure of prior consultation between all governments of the British Commonwealth should be followed in future if occasion arose to propose a change in the form of the Royal Style and’ Titles used in any country of the British Commonwealth:
This may, perhaps, appear to be rather tedious and technical, but, as honorable members know, in the preamble to the Statute of Westminster the condition was set up as a constitutional convention to which I have referred and which is set out in the first paragraph of the preamble to this bill that all should agree to the changes made by all. Let me put it in that fashion. On this occasion we all met and discussed this matter. Having arrived at agreement, the question then came up, “Are we in future, if there is to be some change once more, to consult with each other ? “ It was agreed that we should, that that was a good practice and that we ought to follow it. I leave to other people the argument on some other occasion - because it does not vastly concern us at the moment - whether the convention established by the Statute of Westminster has now been replaced by another convention which does not strictly require consultation although it does indicate the desirability of such consultation. That is a matter which the theorists can thrash out to their heart’s content. In the drafting of this bill we have thought it proper merely to put the question beyond doubt and proceed as if the convention established by the Statute of Westminster still operates. Therefore, we have provided in clause 5 of the bill that the consent of this Parliament is given to the titles which will be advised to Her Majesty on the part of each of the other countries in the British Commonwealth. So, if it is necessary to follow the convention of the Statute of Westminster, we have followed it. It is not a matter of importance for our present purpose whether that convention continues or not.’
It will be observed that in the title in the schedule we have used the summary form “the United Kingdom”. It is possible to use the long form, “ the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
Ireland “. Statutes in the United Kingdom provide that one means the other. As a result of our discussion in London we felt that the title should not he long and cumbersome. Therefore, honorable members will see that, first, we have used the expression the United Kingdom “, and, secondly, in clause 3 we define “ the United Kingdom “ to mean “ the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland “ so that the whole matter is put beyond ambiguity. We have merely used the short title in the schedule and defined it in the bill. In clause 4 there is a provision about the issue by Her Majesty of a royal proclamation.. I refer to it only to say that it provides for the issue by Her Majesty of a royal proclamation under such seal as Her Majesty by warrant appoints. I confidently anticipate that for that purpose Her Majesty will appoint a seal which will contain in appropriate form the style and title to be used in Australia in accordance with the provisions of this bill.
Having said those things, some of which may appear to be rather pedantic, I should like to say that at the conference in London we had two things before us. One was that we should secure, if we could, the greatest measure of common ground in the description of the Queen. That, of course, is tremendously important because- I urge this upon the House as I should like to urge it upon the country - we must not allow the Grown to cease to be a real symbol of unity. We are not to divide the Crown up artificially. We should, as far as possible, maintain our view of the Crown and. of the wearer of the Crown as the symbol of unity among countries which are otherwise entirely, or in some respects, diverse one from the other. Therefore, unity was something to which we all directed attention. Secondly, it was felt by some - it is not a feeling that I share or ever have shared - that the territorial reference in the royal title ought to be solely a reference to the patricular territory represented, that is, that Her Majesty should be described in the case of Australia, for instance, “ the Queen of Australia and of her other realms and territories “, and in the case of Canada as “ the Queen of
Canada and of her other realms and territories “ ; and so on. I want to be plain on this matter. I have no sympathy with that approach to this matter. It is essential that we should retain this unity. Therefore, I strongly advocated - and as honorable members will see it turned out at any rate in the case of four of the countries concerned - that we ought in the territorial reference begin by referring to the United Kingdom and then to refer in our own way to Australia, in the case of Australia, and so on. Honorable members may be disposed to say to me, “Why do that? After all, the phrase ‘and all her other realms and territories ‘ is a comprehensive expression. Why refer to the United Kingdom first? “ I should like to answer that, because I confess I have the strongest possible views on it. In the first place I think that, juristically speaking, it would be fantastic to eliminate a reference to the United Kingdom, because the plain truth is that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second sits on th, throne not because of some law of Australia but because of the law of the United Kingdom. She sits there by virtue of two acts of parliament. The first is the Act of Settlement of 1701; the second is the Abdication Act, which signalized the departure of Edward VIII. from the throne and the installation of His late Majesty King George VI. in 1936. Therefore, in the literal, legal sense the Queen is Queen of Canada and of South Africa and of New Zealand, and so on, because she is Queen of the United Kingdom. We have no act of succession. We have never assumed to make an Act of Succession. I hope we never shall. We have a perfec right to do so, but I hope the day never comes-
– We never shall.
– I agree with the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). I hope the day will never come when seven or eight countries of the British Commonwealth will each want to make an act of succession of its own and perhaps have five or six or seven kings or queens instead of one, because when tha* day comes the crown, as the symbol of unity, will have disappeared. This is nol; a party matter. Whatever party has stood in power or in office in this place. we have never assumed to pass an act of succession or to determine the succession to the throne. Therefore, as I say, in strict terms of law Her Majesty is our Queen because, under the Act of Succession of the United Kingdom, as modified by the Abdication Act of 1936, she is the Queen of the United Kingdom.
There is another rather interesting aspect of that matter. I do not refer to it in order to provoke an argument about it, but I mention it as one of those ‘things that it might be interesting to ponder over at some time or another. The fact is that in section 8 of the Statute of Westminster, the relevant sections of which we adopted by legislation in 1942, there is a provision which reads -
Nothing in this act shall be deemed to confer any power to repeal or alter the Constitution or the Constitution Act of the Commonwealth of Australia. . . ff we look at the Constitution Act, and what are now called the covering clauses of it, we find two interesting things. Th j first is the recital which is now, I agree, out of harmony with modern facts. That recital reads -
Whereas the people of - then follow the names of the various colonies as they then were humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. . .
Section 2 of that act states -
The provisions of this Act referring to the Queen shall extend to Her Majesty’s heirs and successors in the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.
I leave to another time, as I am sure the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) also will, the question of whether under those circumstances we could in Australia evolve an Act of Succession of our own. I have merely referred to the matter to emphasize the first point I was making, which is that we must remember that the Queen is our Queen because, in point of legal right, she succeeded to the throne under the Act of Succession and the later modifying act of the United Kingdom. I feel always that when you have something of that kind it is a good thing to recognize it in the title that you confer, and I offered that view as strongly as I could to my colleagues at the conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers. I am happy to say that Canada, New Zealand and, of course, the United Kingdom, agreed with that view.
The second aspect of this matter is that this is not a barren question of constitutional law. I think it is a question of very great historical significance. If we have a parliament here, as we have, and it is a free parliament, we derived it from Westminster. If there is a parliament in India, as there is, and it is a free parliament with cabinet government and all those benefits of the sovereignty of parliament and of the rule of law, these things were derived from those who sat in the Parliament of Westminster or who moved- around outside the Courts of Common Law at Westminster in the Middle Ages. These are great historic truths, of which we ought to be, and are, proud. Even if the Act of Succession had not had to be taken into consideration I should still have said, as I did, that to deny the first mention to the country that is the cradle of our sovereignty, the cradle of our system of parliamentary government and the cradle of our legal system would be to deny our own history. A country that denies its own history is in a bad way. Therefore, putting all the legal arguments to one side, it seemed clear that to preserve this magnificent nexus that exists between Great Britain and ourselves, and between Great Britain and all those other outlying countries, it was of the first importance that in describing the style and titles of Her Majesty we should begin by saying -
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom- and then of our country, whatever that country may be, and then of - her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.
This is a proud title. I hope that it is a title that will be worn by Her Majesty for many years. I hope that whatever changes may come to it in the future - because we do not know what is hidden in the future - people who come after us in 100 years’ time, or 200 years’ time, will still be able to stand upon appropriate occasions and still feel that behind the Crown there is the Grace of God. and that the Crown is the defender of our faith; still feel that of all our nations, and of ourselves in particular, he. or she, is the enduring monarch, the monarch who dies as an individual but who passes on a crown that will always be the sign and proof that, wherever we may be in the world, we are one people.
– The Opposition has considered this bill and will give it full support. At first glance it may seem anomalous and self-contradictory that Her Majesty the Queen to whom we all owe allegiance, will have, as the result of the recent London conference, a different title in every part of the British Commonwealth. In no two of the eight components of the Commonwealth will the titles be identical. In Australia, for instance, as the Prime Minister has said, Her Majesty will be known as “ Elizabeth the Second by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Australia and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith In Pakistan, Her Majesty will be known as “ Elizabeth the Second, Queen of the United Kingdom and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth The title will be different again in South Africa, and in the other countries of the British Commonwealth, Canada, New Zealand, India and Ceylon.
– And Northern Ireland.
– -No. The United Kingdom is the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”, but the full reference to that appears only in the case of the United Kingdom itself. In India, which, although a republic is still a member of the British Commonwealth, the title will not be, in the ordinary sense, a royal title at all because of the status of India. However,, in spite of these anomalies, the decision that was reached in London was inevitable. There was no other way of giving direct effect to the position of Her Majesty as the head of the Commonwealth and, at the same time, recognizing the special desires and policies of some of the components of the Commonwealth. No such difficulty has ever arisen in Australia, New Zealand or Canada. I remind the House that under the Statute of Westminster of 1931, which this Parliament adopted in 1942, there was a declaration in the preamble to the effect that alterations of the law touching the succession to the Throne or the royal style and title, required the assent of the Parliaments of all the Dominions as well as of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister was quite correct in pointing out that, so far as Australia is concerned, in both constitutional practice and constitutional law in the strict sense, the succession is determined by the succession to the Throne of the United Kingdom. That was illustrated by what took place on the abdication of Edward VIII. But the more important point is that the Statute of Westminster does contain a declaration that any alteration of the royal style and titles should - be assented to’ not by the governments of Commonwealth countries, but by the parliaments of those countries, and that is why parliamentary assent to this measure is required. The Government is quite correct in submitting this measure for approval at the first available opportunity. I also believe that when the prerogative instrument to which the Prime Minister has referred is issued, it should be issued, as I have no doubt it will be, on the advice of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia.
There is very little more that I can add. As I have said, no difficulty has ever arisen in relation to the Commonwealth of Australia so far as the Crown is concerned, and I believe that no such difficulty could or should ever arise. The present difficulty has arisen because India has become a republic although still recognizing the monarch, Elizabeth the Second, as head of the Commonwealth, and because of the emphasis which, in some parts of the Commonwealth, has been laid on certain aspects of the Commonwealth which other Commonwealth countries do not regard as of such importtance. There is one point which will call for consideration, not in connexion with this measure, but at some future date. As I have pointed out, the only portion of the royal title which is common to all Commonwealth countries except India is “ Elizabeth the Second, Head of the Commonwealth “. In the statute of Westminster, the Commonwealth was described as the “ British Commonwealth of Nations “, and in my opinion, the time has come for a review of the position so that the Commonwealth referred to in the royal title may be called the “ British Commonwealth”. I know that is the Prime Minister’s view. Unfortunately, there has been complete misunderstanding of the position in some countries, including India. There, it is considered, perhaps, that the word “British” connotes something that is opposed to, say, “ Indian “ or “ Asiatic “. It has no such meaning. It is the “British Commonwealth “ because the Head of the Commonwealth is the monarch for the time being of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. We identify the Commonwealth of which we are a member by describing it as the “ British Commonwealth “. It is as simple as that. The phrase “ Head of the Commonwealth “ might be regarded in this country as referring to the Commonwealth of Australia. Similarly, certain parts of the United States of America use the title “ Commonwealth “. There is, for instance, the “ Commonwealth of Massachusetts “. That is a matter on which we shall have to convince India, and I believe that India could be convinced that the word “ British “ in the “ British Commonwealth of Nations “, is merely a means of identification with the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In this country no such difficulty could ever arise because the word “ British “ means to us as much as it does to the people of the United Kingdom itself, and of ‘New Zealand and Canada. ‘ To all of us it means the British tradition of Government under which every member of this Parliament pledges his faith and allegiance to the monarch, not as a symbol hut as a person.
.- The constitutional position has been well described by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). It is clear that this Parliament together with the parliaments of the other British Commonwealth nations must pass legislation such as this, but the philosophy behind the constitutional position is that the Crown is the symbol of the free association of the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. They are united by common allegiance to the Crown. When one considers the nature of the British Commonwealth of Nations, one can appreciate the necessity for different styles and titles for the Crown in the various countries. We are a Commonwealth. We are also nations. We are bound together as a Commonwealth but we differ in various ways, and it is to meet those differences that this legislation is needed. At the same time, it is essential that we should remain closely welded together. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has dealt with the importance, both from the constitutional and the historical viewpoints of the phrase “ by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom”. One might express those sentiments more simply by referring to the words of the poet Kipling that “we learned from our English mothers to call old England home”. I am sure that this Parliament is unanimous in agreeing that undoubtedly the first expression that should appear in tho royal style and titles is “ Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom “.
As the Prime Minister has pointed out, this is an occasion of great historical significance. We are dealing to-night with a matter that is steeped in history. The royal titles have changed from century to century. The late King George VI. was “George VI. by the Grace of God of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the seas, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India “. A comparison with the title that is to be bestowed upon Elizabeth the Second will show that events have changed considerably, even in the short time of less than twenty years. There have been many changes in the royal titles since- William Rufus was first crowned “ By the Grace of God King of England “. So far as I have been able to ascertain, the first change made in the royal titles after that date was when Edward III. assumed the title of “ King of France “. That brings to mind the Hundred Years War of glorious memory, the days of Crecy and the Black Prince, Henry V. and the glorious victory of Agincourt. Although from that time
Trance, with the exception of Calais, which was lost at the time of Queen Mary I., ceased to be a part of England, a claim to the throne of France remained for centuries as a part of the royal titles. To-night the Prime Minister referred to the Settlement Act of 1701. In both the famous Bill of Bights of 1689 and the Settlement Act of 1701, the claim to the throne of France was retained, and it was not until 1800 that the title “King of France “ was finally dropped by George III. The next addition to the royal titles was made by Edward IV., the addition being “Ruler of Ireland”. That title changed in the time of. Henry VIII. to “ King of Ireland “, and subsequently Henry VIII. changed his style and titles by adding the words “Defender of the Faith “. We first find the title of “ King of Great Britain “ after the union of Scotland and England in the reign of James I. That title remained until the days of George VI., and we are now changing it for the first time.
A somewhat novel title came into use in the time of George III., when the title of “ King of Hanover “ was adopted. That title was retained by his two sons George IV. and William IV. Then, by virtue of the Salic law, a law which appears curious to us to-day because it deprives women of the right to rule, Queen Victoria could not be queen of Hanover and that title passed from the royal style. The title of “ Empress of India “ was first assumed, by Queen Victoria through the influence of the great Disraeli, and thus affords an indication of the power that he exercised in his day. That title was removed in 1948 as a result of constitutional changes. The phrase “British Dominions beyond the seas “ which is now being omitted in preference for “ other Realms and Territories “, first came into use in 1901 in recognition of the growth of the British Commonwealth. At that time the title “King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland “ was also used. When Ireland became the Irish Free State, the words “ United Kingdom “ were omitted. They are now again part of the royal style in a different sense, in that they now mean the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
I have taken the liberty of mentioning these matters because they all indicate the great changes that have occurred throughout history, and they show that we are and always have been a very great people. We are able to adapt ourselves to changing times and to face both good fortune and bad fortune. We are now considering a matter relating to the British Commonwealth of Nations and the way in which they are all linked together. It has been said by some people that there is a crimson thread of kinship that binds us all together. However, what binds us together more than anything else is our fealty and affection for our kings and queens, together with the devotion that we have shown to them and that they have shown to us. This is a great occasion, and it is splendid to know that our gracious young Queen has informed us that she in turn will carry on that tradition of devotion to the service of the people as was exemplified by her father and grandfather.
.- I should have appreciated an opportunity to make an intensive study of the process that preceded the introduction of this bill, but although that was not possible I rise, as other honorable members have done, and will do, to support it. I must say, however, that any views that I shall now express are my own personal views, because obviously this is not a matter that has been discussed in the electorates or among the public generally. Indeed, I venture to say that very few people knew that an obligation lay upon this Parliament to deal with this matter in this particular way. The measure is completely satisfactory to me, as it is to all other honorable members and to all the people that we have the honour to represent. The bill has been rendered necessary because the Style and Titles at present appertaining to the Crown are not in accord with current constitutional relationships within the British Commonwealth and there is a need for a new form which would, in particular, “ reflect the special position of the Sovereign as Head of the Commonwealth “. I, for one, deplore, to a degree, the necessity for a bill of this kind. I should have preferred the Royal Style and Titles to remain as they were, had that been possible. I would have preferred the British Empire to be maintained in its original form. Both these matters have been the subject of public discussion from time to time, and because circumstances have rendered it necessary to change the Royal Style and Titles an opportunity has been provided to discuss the relationship of the countries which constituted the British Empire as it was and as it now is. Arising out of these discussions, credence was given to the belief that the title “ Empire “ had been outmoded by circumstances, and that the time had come when it should be dropped for the purpose of propitiating certain members of the Empire. Because that attempted propitiation was made, and the title “ Empire “ replaced by “ Commonwealth “, we meet with circumstances which I must confess that to a degree I .deplore. If those attempts at propitiation fail, and if from the present loose arrangement of the Commonwealth of Nations a part drops off from time to time, I can foresee the restoration of the British Empire to its original pattern. That perhaps would be the best thing for those of us who are deeply conscious of the importance of the part that the Empire has played in the scheme of things ever since it was instituted. I, for one, believe that the influence for good of the British’ Empire has been greater in human history than almost anything else of a human kind. I believe that the survival of the British Empire as it was, and the Commonwealth as it is now called, is a demonstration of the relative goodness and worth of the British Empire, and I believe that those of us who are in it have every reason to be proud of it.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) gave us to understand when he introduced the bill that it would be competent, within certain limits, for the components of the ‘Commonwealth of Nations, as the Empire is now called, to vary the Royal Style and Titles, “ Elizabeth the, Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Australia, and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith” subject to the approval of the other parliaments. So long as that opportunity remains, there are components who will alter it in” a territorial way or in a minor degree. In my native country of Scotland - and I have no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that you have a full knowledge of this - some slight exception is taken to the title “ Elizabeth the Second because it has been forgotten that when the physical act of the union of the crowns took place it was James VI. of Scotland who became James I. of England. From that time onward he remained James I. of England. He was, indeed, and in fact, James I. of England, and if it is competent for all the components of the Commonwealth now to vary this title in various ways it gives cause and opportunity to the people of Scotland to say “ We want to vary the title to ‘ Elizabeth I. of Scotland ‘ “. A section of the United Kingdom, Scotland, has no opportunity to alter the title, and because of that I am quite certain that the good sense of the Scottish people will accept the situation and the title, “ Her Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second “. The same thing applies to “ Defender of the Faith “. There are people who take exception to that term, and I think it was the Prime Minister, who asked the question, either here or elsewhere, “ What faith ? “. I very much doubt whether “ the faith “ was defined as other than the Christian faith, because there have always been wide variations in the interpretation of “ faith “ as far as the British Empire is concerned. One must, with a certain amount of diffidence, accept the situation that gives the right to the components of the Commonwealth to vary the Royal Style and Titles according to their own particular views. India, of course, has a special problem and I believe that a great many of these alterations have been made, were made, and are being made in order to propitiate India. I think it would have been much better if we had made no attempt to propitiate India or any other component of the Commonwealth. It would have been much better to leave the Empire in its original form and let any component, which was not happy, withdraw from the Empire in the normal course of events. To-day we have components within the Empire which owe allegiance to Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, and at least one component which is, in fact, a republic. From time to time criticisms have been levelled against the “monarchy”, as an abstract term, particularly by honorable members opposite.
– When ?
– If has frequently been forgotten that British people have been more fastidious about their monarchs than they have been about their ideas of titles, prime ministers, or members of parliament. The. British people have required of the monarchy a standard of behaviour that is not required of members of parliament. They have required their monarchs to play the game of life according to the rules laid down by the British people, and so long as a king or a queen has done that he or she has had a successful reign in the opinion of those of us who love the Throne. Because of that, if for no other reason, the Crown is a symbol of unity. When that goes, in my opinion, unity itself will go with it.
.- I do not propose to take up the time of the House at any length, but I believe that an occasion like this should not be allowed to pass without honorable members expressing their thoughts on this measure if they wish to do so. The subject-matter of the bill has so far been dealt with mainly from the point of view of our varying history. I look upon the monarchy as one of the most important parts of our free democratic form of government. To me it is something intangible, the value of which is more felt than it can be explained in words. For that reason the appeal of the bill to me and from my experience of people throughout the British Commonwealth of Nations, its appeal to them also is an appeal to the emotions which is very difficult to explain. It is very easy at times either to exaggerate the functions of the monarchy, if we want to consider it from the peculiarly legal or technical point of view, or to minimize it if we are prepared to say that the people and the government of the day are supreme and can do what they will to the monarchy. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and other honorable members have said, we have a monarchy and a. Queen of our own because of an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. I should like to express my sincere gratification that the words “ United Kingdom “ have been included in the title of Her Majesty as set out in the bill because I do not believe that the people of Australia can ever forget for one moment that we are descended from a common stock in the United Kingdom and that, in spite of all the differences of opinion that may have been expressed at times by certain people that term “ United Kingdom “ applies equally to Eire as to England, Scotland and Wales. In the past we have at times had certain differences with other peoples of the British Commonwealth. With the passing of time those differences, have to a great degree, been overcome. The reconciliation of those differences has, to my mind, come about with the development of tolerance. Being descended from a common stock and having seen that that stock originally gave to the world the best form of government the world has ever known, do not let us foresake that form of government for something that at times appears to offer more materialistic benefits.
Let me tell the House of -an experience I passed through on the occasion of the funeral of His Majesty, the late King George V. At that time I was serving as a member of the crew of a ship that was en route from Australia to England. The broadcast of the funeral service was listened to in the section of the ship in which I happened to he at the time by 40 or 50 men who had congregated within hearing distance of two loudspeakers. The gathering constituted one of the most motley crowds that one could come across anywhere. Some of the men were literally the scum of the earth; others were men. with hearts of gold ; but not one of them did not have tears running down “ his cheeks before the broadcast of the funeral, service had concluded. That experience, to my mind, epitomized the value of the monarchy. Just as the peoples of the countries of the British Commonwealth at present have a common focal point in the Crown, so those men of differing races among the ship’s company who listened to the broadcast had a similar focal point which inspired in them feelings that were above party politics, above social prejudices and above class distinctions. The spirit which is inspired by the monarchy is one of the most wonderful things in the world to-day. Our monarchy is at present represented by a very wonderful woman who occupies the position of our Queen and is carrying on the splendid traditions established by their late Majesties King George V. and King George VI. I doubt whether in the whole history of our nation three other persons have, by personal sacrifices, made greater service in the interests of the peoples of the British Commonwealth than have those two former kings and our present Queen. Having witnessed the effect on those 40 or 50 men from different nations who congregated around the loud speaker to listen to that impressive funeral service of a king of England I look forward to the time when the peoples of the countries of which they were members will, of their own free will, be within the British Commonwealth of Nations. At present we have within the British Commonwealth people from India, Pakistan, Ceylon and other countries who sometimes fear that, because of their colour, we may be antagonistic to them. I look forward to the time when their minds will cease to be agitated by such fears. I hope that the peoples who are Asiatics, and who take exception to our white Australia policy will . one day voluntarily join the British Commonwealth of Nations after having realized that our system of government and cooperation may lead to a better world.
.- It is with real pleasure that I rise to support the bill before the House. I feel a close affinity with the objects of this bill because I was the first honorable member to be elected to the House of Representatives and to swear allegiance as a member of this chamber in the reign of Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second. In this bill there is a linking of us with all the great and glorious traditions that have made our nation great and a linking with our kinsfolk across the sea in every thing that is worthwhile in this day and generation. During the reign of the last Queen who sat on the throne of Great Britain and the Empire the history of Australia was just beginning; to-day, in the reign of Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, this nation has a history glorious in its traditions, both in war and in peace. Here, gathered under the Throne, we have the realities and verities of life. When this bill was presented to the House our minds went forward to the clay of the coronation of Her Most Gracious Majesty and all that that ceremony will mean, not only to ourselves, but also, I believe, to the peoples of the world. The traditions of our nation are not things that will vanish. As the first honorable member to be elected in Her Majesty’s reign, when I swore allegiance to Her Most Gracious Majesty there came to me a sense of something greater than ourselves which must lead us on in the service of the Throne and of the world of which we are a part.
– I should not have risen to speak to this bill which, as the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has indicated, is whole-heartedly supported by the Opposition, had not the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Roberton) offered a gratuitous insult to the members of the Australian Labour party by saying that we had always been hostile to the monarchy. That is absolutely untrue. You should have the courtesy and manners to withdraw the statement.
– Order ! ‘ The honorable member must address the Chair.
– We are just as loyal as you are.
– Order ! The honorable member must address the Chair.
– I agree with the sentiments expressed by the Leader of the Opposition in relation to the bill. Australia has at least continued to be described as part of the British Commonwealth. That is a name that we still retain.
– It is so described in the bill.
– After listening to the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) I was not sure that that was so. I was a member of this Parliament when the proposal was made to change the name “ British Empire “ to the “ British Commonwealth “. As long as the word “ British “ is retained in the title I shall be quite satisfied. I am of British stock and proud of it and I shall always remain proud of it. I am just as loyal as is the honorable member for Riverina.
.- The passage of this bill is a happy occasion for most honorable members. We are, in comparative harmony, assenting, on behalf of the people of Australia, to the style and title by which Her Majesty will be known in future and, we hope, through many decades. The title has been well chosen. It preserves many reminders of the past and for Australians it recognizes for the first time that the Queen is the Queen of Australia. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has told us of some of the difficulties which the conference of Prime Ministers faced in finding a new title for the Queen, a title which would accord with the different constitutions of various parts of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth now includes a republic and nations not of the Christian faith, some of which recognize the Queen as their sovereign but one of which recognizes Her Majesty only as the head of the Commonwealth. The United Kingdom itself is a union of components which have changed a good deal even in this century. These circumstances cause us to reflect on the nature of the Commonwealth over which the Queen rules and the position within the Commonwealth of the Dominions of which Australia is one. The Dominions have been described as -
I cite that definition from the Balfour report, the Summary of Proceedings of the Imperial Conference of 1926 on inter-imperial relations. As a result of that conference the Statute of Westminster was enacted in 1931 and gave a theoretical legal form to political freedom and independence which we had enjoyed for many years.
We Australians, being proud of our British descent and our easy inheritance of a long and noble tradition are generally unconcerned with the legal niceties of our constitutional relationship with the United Kingdom and other parts of the Commonwealth. For a young people, we are great traditionalists, assured of our freedom and independence and unconscious of any irksome restraints from the past. We are more concerned in matters of this sort to preserve the forms of the past than to insist that our present status shall be nicely defined. I think that the Australian attitude on matters of this sort was well expressed at the Imperial Conference of 1921 by our then Prime Minister, the late Right Honorable William Morris Hughes, who said -
There is no need to set down in black and white the relations between Britain and the Dominions. In effect, we have all the rights of self-government enjoyed by independent nations. That being the position, what is the constitutional conference going to do? Let us leave well alone. That is my advice. .
That is advice which most Australians would willingly have taken in the matter of the Queen’s title but other parts of the Commonwealth felt differently. A dependent past is closer to some who feel obliged to emphasize the change. No doubt it is wise that the Queen’s title should be a closer reflection of the great changes in the nature of the status of the Commonwealth which have occurred in our time. Bearing these things in mind I consider that the new title has been well chosen. On the passage of the bill through the House it is interesting to find out the style and title by which the first great Queen Elizabeth was known. In the preamble to the first statute of the first year of the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth she was described as -
Our Sovereign Lady Elizabeth, by the Grace of God of England, France and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, etc. . . .
No doubt the “ etc.” referred to minor titles such as Duchess of Cumberland, which were then held by the Sovereign. What little change there has been during four centuries in the form of the Sovereign’s title! But what enormous changes have occurred in the structure over which she reigns! Territorial claims to France, which were quite real in the days of the first Elizabeth, have been forgotten centuries ago. On the other hand, the great realms beyond the seas were in ber days only a vague rumour and a hope to stir the imagination of seamen. From the small, tight kingdom over which she reigned we have passed through many great changes and now we have the vast, scarcedefined organization called the British Commonwealth. The thread which has run continuously through our development, and now almost the only thread which ties together the component parts of the Commonwealth, is the Throne.
One apparent contradiction arises from the preamble to this bill. As the Prime Minister pointed out, an alteration in the law touching the royal style and “title requires the assent of the parliaments of all dominions as well as the assent of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. This fact arises from the preamble to the Statute of Westminster, a statute which gives complete legal freedom to all members of the Commonwealth. Yet any change in the royal title requires the unanimous consent of all dominions. This is not a legal requirement but a conventional one which has arisen from agreement among the members of the Commonwealth and which is recited in the first part of the bill. It causes one to reflect that, although the bonds which unite the British Commonwealth are the loosest possible, there still remains a high degree of mutual agreement among its members. What has been sometimes referred to as the prophesy of the Balfour Declaration has been well borne out. I remind the House of the statement - , , though every dominion is now, and must always remain, the sole judge of the nature and extent of its co-operation, no common cause will, in our Opinion, be thereby imperilled.
I think that that prophecy has been well borne out. We still make common cause on most matters of importance within the Commonwealth. It is our very real hope that throughout the many decades through which we pray the Queen will reign that same common cause will be maintained.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I should like to say that nothing I have ever said, and nothing that I have ever thought, would lead me to doubt the loyalty of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James).
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.
Debate resumed (vide page 52).
.^-1 am glad to have this opportunity to make some observations about the employment situation, or perhaps I should say, the unemployment situation. Almost every other honorable member who has participated in this debate has quoted employment figures, or unemployment figures, and whilst some honorable members have been very sincere in their efforts to state the position fairly and to indicate the extent of unemployment at the present time, other honorable gentlemen have substituted a different set of statistics in an endeavour to discredit their political opponents. The Minister for Labour and National .Service (Mr. Holt) quoted the opinion of a great economist in another country at another time, and seemed to think that the figures cited by Lord Beveridge should apply to this country at the present time. I suggest that the Minister was wrong in doing so, and that he should have selected an Australian economist if he wished to quote the opinions of an authority about employment, or the unemployment situation. So far as I am able to discover, no economists are prepared to make very definite statements on the subject in these times and, in the circumstances, I consider that the Minister himself should have attempted to give an explanation of the position.
I do not need the assistance of statistics iri order to reach the conclusion that a state of unemployment exists at the present time. Honorable members will depend upon their own common sense to determine whether there is a state of employment or unemployment now. They are able to gauge the situation from the number of men who come to their offices and ask for assistance to get jobs. They know by going to the Commonwealth employment offices on a Monday morning, where they will see 25, 50, or 100 men in attendance to ensure that they are registered for employment. They, know from the replies that their friends, the employers, receive when they advertise vacant jobs. Employers’ letter boxes are full of replies to their advertisements. Honorable members know from the countless numbers of people who are unemployed to-day that a state of unemployment exists. Numerous young single women, and married women, who are able to do useful work, have no jobs. Honorable members also have a knowledge of the situation if they have gone through the country, as I have, and have spoken to casual labourers. Some of these men are loading hay at the present time. If they are asked whether they have well-paid, regular employment their reply is, in effect, “ No, we can get a few days’ work a week but not enough to keep us going. The outlook for winter-time is serious “. Those factors indicate that a state of unemployment exists in the community.
So much for the Opposition’s contention that there is a serious state of unemployment at the present time. But I do not want to leave that subject without observing that even if everybody has a job at the moment, that should not be considered a state of full employment. Honorable members know that inherent in business, and particularly in big business, there is a tendency to create unemployment. For example, the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Opperman) knows that if the Ford Motor Company of Australia Proprietary Limited at Geelong were to change its models, probably between 1,000 and 2,000 men would lose their employment for several months. A big chemical factory in my electorate has to close from time to time for maintenance work, and during such periods, between 70 and 80 men are put out of work for several weeks. We must not. make the mistake of blaming the managers of those organizations for that condition of affairs. Obviously, they have their important work to do, and must nut off the employees for varying periods in order to make their businesses pay. It is also inherent in big business that at times large numbers of men will be put out of work, and, for that reason, it must be realized that a state of full employment implies an abundance of alternative employment. It is the responsibility of the Government to ensure the existence of an abundance of alternative employment in order to absorb large numbers of persons from time to time.
The Labour Government had a positive policy of full employment, and always maintained full employment in actual fact. To ensure- that, in peace-time, full employment would be maintained, the Labour Government issued a white paper on full employment, and set down the problems associated with it. I do not deny that there are great problems. They certainly exercised the mind of our former leader, the late Mr. J. B. Chifley, who fully realized the .problems attendant on a state of full employment. Nevertheless, he was able to maintain a state of full employment by a careful observation of the writings of latter day economists.
The Minister for Labour and National Service observed earlier that when the late Jim Scullin was Prime Minister, we did not know the techniques for the avoidance of unemployment. Mr. Scullin did not know those techniques, either. He may have known some of them, but all of them were not known to the world when ho was in office. However, in 1935, the great economist, Lord Keynes, produced his theory of employment and since that day that theory has been extended so that we now have a full set of techniques for the avoidance of unemployment. I am glad to note that the Minister for Labour and National Service is fully aware of them. The Labour Government had a policy of full employment, but I state definitely that the present Government has not such a policy. It claims that it has a policy of full employment and that it believes in full employment, hut in point of fact it has not a policy of full employment.
We should note what a government does, not what it says. Let us examine briefly what the Government has done. There are certain unwelcome circumstances attendant upon a state of full employment. For example, rising prices always accompany a state of full employment. The Minister was incorrect when he said that we had not had a state of full employment in the past. There have been times in the history of Australia since the days of the gold-rush when we have had a state of full employment, and on every one of those occasions, historians and economists recorded that the state of full employment was accompanied by rising prices. Therefore, the late Mr. Chifley was most careful to ensure that precautions were taken to prevent prices from rising while his Government maintained a state of full employment. But the present Government has done nothing to prevent prices from rising. Its supporters assisted in the defeat of the referendum proposals concerning prices control, so that when elected to office they would not have prices control as a means of preventing the rises in prices which were certain to come and which, it was obvious to the Australian Labour party, would result from a state of full employment. The attitude of the Government parties in setting out to defeat those referendum proposals showed that in fact they do not believe in a policy of full employment.
One of the unwelcome conditions attendant on full employment is the dispersal of overseas funds, which always occurs. Full employment usually involves a reduction in the production of goods for export to other countries, so that supplies of foreign currencies tend to diminish. At the same time, purchases from overseas tend to increase, because, for some reason or other, people like to buy goods that come from other countries, particularly when they have plenty of money themselves. Therefore, during a period of full employment it is necessary to conserve supplies of foreign currency. The late Mr. Chifley was careful to do so. When the Labour Government went out of office, more than £500,000,000 was held in the coffers of the country in order to meet the emergency that was sure to come if a state of full employment were maintained. But did this Government conserve those stocks of foreign currency? Nothing of the sort! The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) himself encouraged importers to import on a grand scale. Our overseas resources were squandered in an irresponsible orgy of overseas spending. I think that we should look closely at such matters. The important point is not so much what a government says about full employment as what it does to maintain that position. The present Government has not done the things that need to be done if a state of full employment is to be maintained.
There have been certain direct effects from the squandering of our overseas resources. Every one knows that during this huge spree of imports the markets for many of our local products were destroyed. The textile industry was one of those hardest hit. Many thousands of men and women were thrown out of employment by that squandering of funds on goods which could have been made well and economically in Australia. That was one of the direct effects of the policy of this Government. Worse than that, as though there were no guiding hand at all behind the Government, later on, when our overseas funds ran out, import restrictions were clamped down, so that many industries found that they could not obtain raw materials with which to carry on. In my opinion these matters indicate that the Government had no intention to maintain a state of full employment.
Lord Keynes, in his theory of employment, has stated that investment money is the soul of employment and that there must be adequate supplies of investment money. All the actions of this Government have been deflationary and have been taken with a view to cutting down the amount of investment money. A measure of the reduction of the amount of investment money available is to be found, in the increase of prices to which I referred earlier. The Government has done nothing to restrain rising prices, which destroy the value of money, because money is only valuable for the services which it can supply. A measure of the incompetence of this Government is to be seen in figures quoted in the retail price index. Recently I read a statement made by Mr. Chifley in 1945, in which he said that during the two years after the conclusion of World War I., retail prices rose by 29 per cent. He said, “We do not intend to have anything like that after this war.” As honorable members know, the late right honorable gentleman introduced his banking proposals and his white paper on full employment towards that end. If honorable members look at the figures quoted in the retail price index for the four years following the end of World War II. they will see that prices rose by only 19 per cent. However, since the Labour Government went out of office, retail prices have risen by 63 per cent. I suggest that that is some measure of the incompetence of this Government and of its disregard of the things that matter in the maintenance of full employment.
The Government has reduced the amount of investment money in many ways, but largely by its unwillingness to use central bank credit at certain times and by ruining the loan market. It has been extremely incompetent in its management of loan moneys. The loan market is now staggering on its feet. Indeed, it is doubtful if a loan market in fact now exists. One of the important influences on the amount of investment money available, if not the most important, is the interest rate. If the interest rate is raised, certain people cannot proceed with their projects. It is simple for honorable members to imagine the position of a young man and his wife who have the requisite deposit and the land and decide to build a house. They work out the expenses involved and conclude that they can just do it on their wages. Then there is a rise of, say, one half per cent, in the interest rate. The increase will add so much to their repayments that they are obliged to put off building the house. That sort of thing happens in hundreds of cases. Consequently, houses are not built and timber mills and brick kilns are idle. This Government has raised the interest rate merely to appease its conservative financial backers. The position of full employment, which Labour considers to be so desirable, is being completely ignored because of fancy Government policies for the benefit of the people who have supported it. If full employment is to be restored, emphasis should be placed not on conservative financial policies but on the size of the Labour force. We should see to it that techniques for avoiding unemployment are put into operation and that the total number of unemployed persons is re-absorbed in industry. Some previous speakers have indicated the production figures of last year and have pointed out that those figures are not as good as the figures for last month. That is a completely wrong .approach. If we are to be a great nation, our production figures should aways be as high as possible.
The honorable member for St. George (Mr. Graham) did a disservice to the community during his remarks on this subject. Apparently, the honorable member believes that because Australia is a small nation in the great brotherhood of nations, in effect it cannot expect, by its own internal policies, to be able to maintain a state of full employment and that it should depend, to a large extent, on the actions of other countries. It is remarkable that the honorable member, who himself earned a great reputation for gallantry in the air during World War II., should believe that Australians do not in every way compare favorably with tha people of the leading nations of the world. A great nation is dependent upon individual greatness. If we are to put this unemployment position right and ensure that we have a sound economy, the first essential is more faith in our own Australian people. I deplore the attitude of the Prime Minister, who has stated repeatedly that we need to attract foreign capital to Australia. Australians will then provide the brains, the labour and the resources, and the profits will go overseas. I deplore that attitude, and I think that it is time that this Government was thrown out of office.
.- I wish to say, at the outset, that full employment means not only every person having a job but, also, every person being fully employed in his job. I shall briefly trace the history of Australia’s economy during the last twelve years. Members of the Labour party boast that the primary producers received high prices for their products and that there was full employment throughout Australia because they were in power. Nothing could be further from the truth than that. Everybody knows that it was not difficult to maintain full employment when the Labour party came to power shortly after the outbreak of World War II. because so many of our men were going overseas in the armed services and so many others were engaged in the production of munitions and other civilian jobs that are not essential in normal times. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Joshua) made the sweeping statement that there had always been full employment when Labour was in power. But he qualified that boast later in his speech when he said that the Labour party had recently learned the technique of full employment and thereby tacitly admitted that Labour governments had not been able to maintain full employment previously. In fact, there was more unemployment in Australia during the regime of one Labour government than there has been at any other period of our history.
– That was twenty years ago.
– I have noticed that honorable members opposite will refer to events that took place 100 years ago when they think that they can gain a weapon with which to flay this Government. The Labour party claims all the credit for full employment and high prices for our primary products during World War II., but the foundations of any government influence were laid by the government that was in office at the outbreak of the war.
The Labour Government was favoured by circumstance when the war ended in 1945. Thousands of ex-servicemen had to be rehabilitated, and much work had to be done to enable the nation to recover from the war. However, it became noticeable gradually that prices were beginning to rise. This inflation, to which the honorable member for Ballarat has objected so strenuously, gained momentum while the Labour Government maintained a Commonwealth system of prices control. That is a well known fact. As a result, inflation was already well under way when the present government came into office. Inflation does not occur overnight. It arises from conditions that have developed years previously. The high prices to which the honorable member for Ballarat objects were the result of the sort of full employment that existed under the Labour Administration. If full employment is to be successful, every man must be fully employed in the job at which he works. The fact is that, although there is some unemployment to-day, we have greater production than we had during the period of full employment. Obviously, there must have been something wrong with the condition of full employment that prevailed under the Labour Administration.
– That is a little difficult to follow.
– Not for anybody who wants to learn the truth. I know of an instance in which, when 20 per cent, of the workers in a big factory were dismissed, output from the factory increased, by 35 per cent. The significance of that fact is not difficult to understand.
I propose to analyse some of the statements that have been made during this debate by members of the Opposition, notably the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell). They provide outstanding examples of reasoning that is difficult to follow. The honorable member for Melbourne completely jumbled his arguments. He said that unemployment had been caused because this Government - he should have said the Australian Loan Council - had not provided enough money for the State governments. Then he declared that additional money for the States should have been provided by the release of central bank credit, which is in accordance with the policy of the Labour party. But the honorable member objects to inflation, and everybody knows that the release of central bank credit is one of the main means of causing inflation. The honorable member also said that money should have been provided for the States by increasing taxation. That was a real gem. We all know that the honorable member howls against the prevailing high rates of tax whenever he has an opportunity to do so. Many of us, of course, agree that tax rates are high, and we hope that they will be reduced soon. The Government is optimistic about its prospects of being able to make reductions in the near future. When we heard the honorable member for Melbourne advocate increased taxation this afternoon, many of us vividly recalled recent occasions when he opposed any suggestion that taxes be increased and vigorously advocated tax reductions. His arguments certainly are hard to follow. They are so confused that they indicate that the honorable gentleman’s memory is not good.
The honorable member complained that the Government had not maintained the situation that existed when it took over the reigns of office from the Labour party in 1949. I say fervently, “ Thank goodness for that “. When this Government came to office, there were serious shortages of important commodities throughout Australia. Honorable members opposite often talk of the housewife and the man in the street. They should ask the housewife and the man in the street about the black markets that were rampant in Australia when Labour was dismissed from office and which have been eliminated since then. Honorable members opposite have said nothing during this debate about increased production under this Government, or about the great depression that they forecast during the last sessional period of the Parliament at the end of last year. We are entitled to draw a logical conclusion from their attitude on the depression issue. Only a few months ago, they harped on the subject and said that the country already was encompassed by a great depression. They have since dropped that line of propaganda. Probably they have been instructed by their party executive to forget about it because the whole world is looking to Australia for the simple reason that its economy is sounder to-day than it has been for many years. Overseas capital is being attracted to Australia because of the improvement of our economic situation.
The point is that, if honorable members opposite were sincere and right in their assertion that Australia was on the verge of a depression only a few months ago, this Government must have done a marvellous job in order to bring the country to its .present condition of economic stability. If, however, honorable members opposite knew that prosperity was continuing and that economic stability was increasing, they must have declared that the country was on the verge of a depression solely for the purpose of engendering fear throughout the com munity, and their alarmist speeches must have been mere humbug. Events have proved beyond doubt that this Government has acted in the best interests of Australia. Earlier, to-day, when a Government supporter was speaking, the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) interrupted him with the classic interjection, “What is your majority?” That has been a catcall of honorable members opposite throughout this debate. When this Government came to power in December, 1949, the honorable member for Melbourne said, “ We have been defeated, but two years is not long to wait to get back into .office “. The Opposition seeks only to return to the treasury bench, and it does not care how it manages to do so. The honorable member for Melbourne said that the Government had referred to a “milk-bar economy “, and added that he believed that I was well acquainted with it. He was trying to score a political point at the expense of the primary producers. My reply to him is that if the rest of Australia worked as long and as hard as the primary producers, Australia would be farther along the road to permanent prosperity. Honorable members on the Opposition side often ask me, by way of interjection, whether I favour the 40- hour week. The people in my electorate work 48, 50 and 60 hours a week or more when necessary and they expect the rest of the community to pull their weight.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) generally delivers a thoughtful speech. To-day he gave the House some figures relating to unemployment. Of course they are elastic and some of them were stretched. Honorable members opposite claimed to-day that the number of unemployed persons in Australia was 250,000 and, if the debate is continued to-morrow they will probably increase the figure to 500,000. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has said, in effect, that in addition to the number of persons whom he claimed to be unemployed, many others were in only partial employment. Many members of the community have dual employment. I am not against it because I believe that we need more production, but I point out to the honorable member for
Melbourne Ports that, while many persons are only partly employed, many others have more than one job. Australia can prosper only if we have full production. If I had the money that is available to a government, I could create full employment in Australia. I have no doubt that a Labour government could do so as well, but those who were in full employment would not be producing to the limit of their capacity. The position would be the same as it was when the the Labour Government went out of office. There was a lot of money about from war-time expenditure, prices were rising and goods were not available to absorb all the spending power. The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) put forward a sound argument. He said in effect that this Government may have caused some unemployment by its actions. Naturally every government wants full employment; but, as the honorable mem ber for Lilley has said, this Government at least stabilized the economy and prevented wholesale unemployment.
In the last sessional period, honorable members on the Opposition side prophesied a depression. They said that unemployment was increasing rapidly. They did not believe that the actions the Government had taken would be so successful. Only to-day it was announced in this House that the number of persons who were receiving unemployment relief was fewer by 3,000. If the Government’s policy is continued, the result will be lasting stability, but the Government needs co-operation. It cannot get cooperation from the Labour State Premiers or from the Opposition. The Parliament should be working to restore full employment and production, but the Opposition seems to believe that its mission is to frighten the people with talk of a depression. By that means it hopes to return to the treasury bench. When the people realize the benefits that will flow from this Government’s policy, the political pendulum will swing in its favour. If a Labour government is returned to office, the people will soon realize that this Government fought for a sound economy and for genuine full employment.
.- Many fantastic claims with regard to the per formances of this Government have been advanced in this House to-day, but the people of Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales have already shown how they feel about it, and soon the people of Queensland and South Australia will give the lie direct to the statements that have been made in support of the Government’s policy. The shattering blow that the Liberal party and the Australian Country party suffered in New South Wales last Saturday has made all members on the Government side of the House look very melancholy and sad. The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), a bright and breezy speaker, has tried to build up their morale, but he has failed to do so.
There are 130,000 unemployed in Australia. All that the Opposition asks for is-an answer to the question: What is the Government going to do about the starving unemployed? At least 250,000 people are involved, because unemployment affects the families of men who are walking the streets day by day. Any one who goes along a country road to-day will see the very sad spectacle of the swaggie humping his swag, looking for work. Let me read to the House an article that was published in the Sydney Sun of the 8th January. It is as follows : -
700 QUEUE VOR JOB AT ENFIELD.
Dozens of unemployed men spent last night outside an Enfield factory which advertised positions vacant.
By 8 a.m. today there were 700 men waiting outside the factory, although only a few jobs were offering.
The men had answered advertisements for tradesmen at Larke Hoskins and Co. Ltd., Park Ed., Enfield.
I point out to the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) that, according to that report, a 40-year-old Queenslander waited for more than twelve hours to get an interview for a job. So, after all, New South Wales is not the only State in Australia in which there is unemployment.
– It is the main one.
– About three-fifths of the total population of Australia lives in New South Wales and Victoria. Therefore, we can expect more unemployment in those States than in others, especially as the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) is trying to strangle the Labour Government of New South Wales and to bring it to its knees by applying economic pressure. In the recent general election campaign in New South Wales the right honorable gentleman made his only appearance at a country town called Dubbo. The sitting member for the Dubbo electorate, a member of the Australian Country party, lost his seat to a Labour man. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who is a prima donna, made his only appearance in the election campaign at Hurstville, and Mr- Clive Evatt increased his majority in that electorate enormously. The Treasurer and the Prime Minister faded out. Then the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) made a grand entry into the campaign at Randwick. Labour won the adjoining seat of Coogee, and increased its majority in the Randwick electorate enormously. So much for the confidence that the people have in this wonderful Government. The Government does not know how to spell the word ! What a wedding of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party! Wherever they go, they are discredited in the extreme. What a. set-up in Victoria! Dog eats dog in that State. With the gerrymandering of electorates, owing to the unemployment question–
– I rise to order. Will you tell me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, what the remarks of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) have to do with the question before the Chair?
– The honorable member for Watson is going rather wide of the mark.
– Very likely, the incidence of unemployment in Australia will affect the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), whose seat is very shaky. Let me get on to some of the controversial figures. I do not go in for figures very much. I do not believe in figures. I believe in hard facts. The hard facts are that all over the country men are starving in the streets, and swaggies are on the tracks looking for work. The Prime Minister, aided and abetted by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), has said that the present degree of unemployment represents only 1 per cent, of the work force. Let me show the House how perilously close we are to a depression similar to that of the ‘thirties. According to figures of the Commonwealth Statistician, 130,000 unemployed represents between 5 per cent, and 6 per cent, of the work force. In addition - and this is a great tragedy - there are boys and girls leaving school who have no chance of securing positions. The firm of S. T. Leigh, which is incorporated with the British Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited, now has a dispute on its hands because it has sacked two printers of over 40 years and has told them that they are too old. That is the tragedy of Liberal-Australian Country party politics. Men are too old at 40. In 1937-38, a year which every worker associates with unemployment, 8.5 per cent, of the total work force of this country was unemployed. To-day, there are 130,000 unemployed. That is between 5 per cent, and 6 per cent, of the work force, or only 2.5 per cent, less than in the great depression of 1937-38.
Members of the great Australian Labour party who have been fighting the menace of unemployment know what unemployment means. In the depression years, men walked the streets and were frustrated for years in their efforts to find employment. Between 1930 and 1939 Australian artisans were forced to go to New Zealand. The Savage Government offered to pay the fares of artisans who crossed the seas to New Zealand. Many artisans left this country because they could not get a living here. The arbitration courts were called upon to scrap apprenticeship agreements. Boys were thrown out of work and could not find other positions in the trades to which they had been apprenticed. The mothers and fathers of our nation should bear that in mind. To-day, it is impossible to place a boy in an apprenticeship trade. Shades of the 1930’s !
Eighteen short months ago, Government members laughed and smiled. They adopted a dictatorial attitude in their speeches. They tried to force down the throats of the people of this country the story that the Australian worker was not producing enough To-day, the men that (honorable members opposite stigmatized - the miners, wharf labourers, ironworkers and men in other great trades - are walking the streets because they produced more than could be consumed. That illustrates the fallacy of the arguments of Government members, and shows their duplicity. It is no wonder that the stench of this Liberal-Australian Country party Government has reached the nostrils of every decent Australian. The Government parties are positively indecent in their approach to all national matters. After the Senate elections have been held in a few weeks’ time, we shall find more sad faces on the Government benches then than there are to-day. I am greatly perturbed about the Government’s treatment of apprentices. I served my time as a mechanic, and I am wondering how, in. the event of a war about which Government supporters have been preaching over the years, we shall train sufficient tradesmen to manufacture vital equipment for our sailors, soldiers and airmen. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) talked about the probability of war occurring within twelve months; but that war has been forgotten. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) predicted a war within two years; but that also has been forgotten. However, if war should occur next year, or the following year, how shall we train the requisite tradesmen to manufacture the implements of war to enable us to defend ourselves? We shall certainly not be able to do so under the present system under which apprentices are being called up for service in the armed forces instead of being permitted to continue their apprenticeship in vital industries. But, of course, such a system conforms to the old Liberal pattern of unemployment, misery, poverty, stagnation and despair. Under such conditions mothers fall ill as a result of worrying over the position of husbands who, tc-clr.y, are receiving unemployment benefit at the rate of £4 15s. a week. Just imagine any mother regarding that sum as a “ benefit “ when a. short while ago her husband was bringing from £15 to £20 a week into the home ! Under such conditions the health, not only of parents, but also of their children must break down. But what does the Government care about the plight of such people ? ‘The honorable member for Mallee, like other members of the Australian Country party, represents the wealthy squatters who, down through the years, have fleeced the Australian worker. Trade unionists were obliged to fight such interests in order to obtain a decent wage. In the past, the average squatters offered a worker a wage of 10s. a week and made him sleep in the woolshed. Members of the Australian Country party wish to see a recurrence of such conditions. That is why the Government desires to establish a pool of unemployed. On one occasion in this chamber I heard a member of the Australian Country party say, in effect, that if immigrants were let loose in the country they would soon find somewhere to lay their heads. That approach is typical of the mentality of members of the Australian Country party. Most of those honorable members are Sussex-street farmers. They are bent on fleecing the farmer of every 3d. bit that they can get by exploiting him. Government supporters are endeavouring to break down the high standard of living which the workers have won at great sacrifice. The Australian worker will never tolerate the abolition of the 40-hour week.
– What a sacrifice !
– The Australian worker won the 40-hour week only by making tremendous sacrifices. For a period of sixteen months I was docked four hours a week because I refused to work on Saturday morning, but, eventually, my fellow workers and I obtained our objective of the 40-hour week of five days. To-day, the interests which the Liberal party and the Australian Country party represent in the Parliament are fighting in the Arbitration Court for the abolition of the 40-hour week. Their objective is to cause widespread unemployment by holding the whip over the heads of those who have not yet lost their employment. Those parties adopted similar tactics in the ‘thirties. By such means they created an atmosphere of fear in the factories. Again, they are trying to squeeze the last drop of blood out of the worker and when he is driven to the wall as a result of worry they will bring in others from the paddock to take his place. That is the set-up which exists in this country to-day. Yet Government supporters hold up their hands in horror at the thought that any one should think that they want to establish a pool of unemployment. Indeed, they now describe unemployment as disemployment. Do they expect unemployed persons, when they receive their social services benefits cheque each Friday, to say to each other, “ Don’t worry. We are only disemployed This will be only temporary.” The unemployment to which I refer has existed for eighteen months, and it is growing to dangerous proportions. Another snide trick to which the Government has resorted in its dealings with the unemployed is to remove from the unemployment benefit list any person who fails to lodge a weekly income statement. Many persons in my electorate are obliged to walk distances up to 8 miles each Friday in order to lodge such statements because if they fail to do so they will be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefit. Persons who cannot afford the tramfare of ls. to visit employment offices for that purpose have no alternative but to walk to such centres. Members of the Opposition requested the Minister for Labour .and National .Service (Mr. Holt) to ease that provision. But all he did in response to our representations was to enact a regulation to provide that any unemployed person who is obliged to expend more than 2s. in fares to visit employment offices in order to lodge a weekly income statement shall be permitted to post it. Obviously, as a survey of employment offices in metropolitan
Areas would quickly reveal, the Government was well aware that very few unemployed persons reside more than S miles from an employment office, for which distance the tramfare would not exceed ls.
-Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I shall not delay the House for very long. However, members of the Opposition have asked us to believe that a dangerous degree of unemployment exists in this country. Several redoubtable champions opposite have made that assertion. I hopa that honorable members opposite, as a whole, are proud of the case that their champions have put forward in this debate. Having -listened attentively to the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin), who has just resumed his seat. I find it difficult to believe that he is either sincere or in full possession of his faculties. It is completely fantastic for an honorable member to assert that unemployment exists to a dangerous degree in this country to-day. If such a terrible position now existed, does any one believe for a moment that the Australian Labour party’s challenge to this Government would be left entirely in the hands of those honorable members opposite who have spoken in this debate? Can the Opposition do no better than trot out asseverations such as have been uttered in this debate and which have been bowled out time and time again; arguments without reason, charged only with bitterness and gall and designed to create, from what little misery exists, a fear in the minds of the working class, and so make a little political capital out of this wretched situation? Since I have been here, which is not a long time but is at least longer than the time for which the honorable member for Watson Has been here, I have never heard so contemptible an attack supported by men of so little worth by arguments so little worth paying attention to, as that to which this House has been treated to-night. I say, and it is not the first time that it has been said in this House, that those who seek merely to exploit the fear of unemployment in order to gain a political advantage regardless of the effect that their actions may have on the nation, do this country a very great disservice and are indeed unworthy of this Parliament.
I turn now to one aspect of the matter in particular. The worst thing that the Labour party has done in this country since the end of the war, and that the honorable member for Watson did tonight, has been the encouragement of the attitude, in the minds of the trade unionists who form the bulk of the nation’s work force, that they can earn and enjoy a high standard of living without having to make a substantial contribution of work to achieve it. I hear, again and again, though not from the more balanced members of the Opposition, such as the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) or the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) and people of that sort, this stupid asseveration that a high standard of living can be enjoyed as a result of no great amount of ‘work, that men can work a 40-hour week, knock off, down tools, and, as a result of their insufficient labour, enjoy a high standard of living. Such a proposition has never been successful before in any country in the history of the world. We will not enjoy a high standard of living as a result of encouraging loafing. The true facts of the matter were never in my time put more clearly to the House than they were put to-night by the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Graham) when he said that, by and large, this country could not insulate itself against the standard of work carried out by other countries. We have to meet the competition of other countries, whether we like it or not, and if honorable members opposite who have such sway with the trade unions, encourage loafing, it must follow, as night follows day, that the standard of living in this country will fall, because our standard of living and our standard of employment depend on our standard of output. Any other point of view that honorable members opposite may advance is, in my opinion, grossly dishonest. It is certainly grossly wrong. The truth of the matter is that, under the leadership of men like the honorable member for Watson, we have loafed away the standard of living that we enjoyed.
It is a commonplace to say that we enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world. We did, in times gone by. Why? Because the output of the Australian working man was the highest in the world. I am not one who finds it easy to criticize the Australian working man, because I know a great deal about him. I know how he can work. I know, for example, to take the more obvious instances, that, left alone by people like honorable members opposite, the Australian working man can shear more sheep, lay more bricks, cut more timber and do almost any job better than any other working man in the world. That is what grave him his high standard of living. It was because he produced houses, clothing, food, and other necesaries in quantities that no other worker in the world was able to rival. But the idea has grown, because of the constant teaching of people like honorable members opposite, that the working man can enjoy all this and Heaven, too, that he does not have to work, that everything will come in just the same, that the socialists will provide all. Let honorable members opposite consider the results of the work that they have done and see whether this country has come so well out of it. Let us see whether, as the result of this socialist theory, the workers are better off or worse off than before they paid heed to it. We are short of houses because we do not produce houses on the scale and in the proportion that is necessary.
– That is an insult to the workers.
– I have listened with, I think, more patience than was to be expected to the drivel that has come to us in a stream from the opposite side of the House and now, like it or lump it, the honorable member for Watson and his colleagues will listen to ]ne. Were there a serious threat of unemployment in this country no government could stand against it, least of all a government which, as we must do, had to face the electors in about twelve months. The amount of unemployment in this country to-day is negligible, and it will be less, and quite unimportant, in the very near future. The honorable gentlemen opposite who greatly hope to see the rate of unemployment rise and the standard of living fall, and to see men crowding into the employment offices, so that they may gain some political advantage by blaming this Government for the position, will be disappointed.
I have made the two points that 1 wished to make, the first being that no government can afford large-scale unemployment, least of all a government that must presently face the electors. The second is that, were there a serious state of unemployment, we know perfectly well that it -would not be left to the honorable members to whom it has been left to make J he charges that have been made to-night. We would have the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) himself informing us of the seriousness of unemployment. But where is that right honorable gentleman in this debate? What has he had to say about the matter? He dismisses it, because he knows not a word of the arguments produced by his followers to-night is true. It is all right for the irresponsible members of the Opposition to get up and “ have a bash “, but the Leader of the Opposition will not associate himself with this fantastic business. And, which is more remarkable, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who Ls the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this House, will not associate himself with it, although he is -not normally so fussy. Perhaps in this, as in other matters, he and his leader do not see eye to eye. The Government would not sit idly by and see unemployment in this country grow because it would he fatal to its own interests and to the interests of the nation.
.- The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) began his dissertation by pointing out that it was most undersirable to talk about unemployment. He ended by telling us that, after all, the number of unemployed in the country is negligible. It is admitted that there have been more than 100,000 persons in this country unemployed during the last few months, and I for one do not consider that to be a negligible number. I should not consider tens of thousands of unemployed to be a negligible number, and neither would the honorable member for Henty nor any of his colleagues if they were among the unemployed that trudge the country roads from Melbourne to Mildura seeking work at fruit-picking. Neither would they consider the number of unemployed negligible if they were among the 2,000 people who waited outside the Rosella Preserving and Manufacturing Company Limited’s factory recently in a vain attempt to secure work. Many manufacturers and their employees are gravely concerned about the existing unemployment in this country, and are uneasy about the future. Their forebodings increased when they learned that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) would go abroad to an economic conference to discuss, amongst other things, trade, and they had very real reason for their uneasiness and concern. In the last few years there has been persistent propaganda to the effect that Australia is over-industrialized and is suffering from over full employment. These conditions, it is claimed, are restricting output in primary production and other basic industries. We are told that we must utilize the resources of this country, and that we must use our powers whatever they may be, to cure the evils of over-industrialization and over full employment. The assumption is, apparently, that if resources are diverted from secondary industries they will automatically go to primary production and other basic industries, and that consequently, inflation will be cured. That argument is advanced by economists and others, and upon it this Government has based its pronouncements and formulated its policies. The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) said in his 1951 budget speech -
It has to be’ recognized that the time has come to impose effective restraints on money demand for goods and on the indiscriminate production of less essential goods.
He did not explain what he meant by “ less essential industries “, and no one on the Government side of the chamber has since dared to define a “ non-efficient “ or “non-essential” secondary industry. They only talk in vague generalities. The Treasurer continued -
By co-ordinated financial action a great deal can be done to check the growth of consumption demand for goods and investment demand for resources. The Government and its various agencies have already instituted some powerful measures in this field and they are being made progressively more effective. They include control of the volume of bank credit through the special account procedures, the advance policy instructions issued to the trading banks and control of capital issues. These measures supplement and reinforce one another. Their broad aim is to ensure that both long term capital and working funds find their way to the more essential forms of enterprise and to assist in achieving balanced private investment at an appropriate level.
What do those statements mean? I believe that what the Treasurer said was not so important as what the Government did, and what resulted from its action. Encouragement was given for the importation of hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of commodities, yet finance was denied to Australian
Secondary industries to expand production. The result was that the output of secondary industries generally was restricted, and some industries were destroyed. Thousands of workers were thrown out of employment. Many undertakings that had been established in country areas as the result of the endeavours of Labour governments had to close their doors and, once closed, it will be difficult to have those doors re-opened. That was part and parcel of the policy of the present Government. It was a smashing blow at the peacetime development as well as at the defence and security of this country. One of the results of that policy was, as the Prime Minister has admitted, the insolvency of our national funds overseas and financial troubles and tribulations at home. In addition, immigration to Australia has had to be curtailed. No longer are we able to absorb the large numbers of immigrants who had been flowing to this country. In fact, some who had already come here had to leave our shores and return to their native lands. That is the Government’s record in relation to employment and secondary industries. I believe in the expansion of our great primary industries. I acknowledge the need to increase the production of food. I believe that we should use our land resumption powers and taxation powers to this end, and that legislation should be passed to prevent speculation in land so that genuine farmers may have an opportunity to increase the output of primary products, not only to feed our own people, but also to provide overseas funds to meet our commitments for imported raw materials and other goods that are unobtainable in this country. However, I do not believe that the only way to advance our primary industries is to destroy our secondary industries. Consider what our secondary industries have done for us. Not only have they satisfied demands within this country, but also they have contributed substantially to our overseas funds. In 1951-52, Australia manufactured ships, motor cars, aeroplanes, textiles, boots, electrical equipment, agricultural implements and a vast number of other commodities. Many of those goods were exported. In the same period ‘.ustralia exported £52,000,000 worth of metals and machinery, £4,000,000 worth of wearing apparel, textiles and yarns, £5,000,000 worth of drugs and chemicals, and £20,000,000 worth of other goods such as sporting materials, boats and arms. If the calamity-howlers had been heeded in the past, the industries that produced and exported those commodities would have been destroyed in their infancy as inefficient or uneconomic. The Labour party believes in the promotion of secondary industry because, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) has said, our secondary industries are our most important source of employment. Over 1,000,000 people are employed in secondary industries, and that work force i3 being increased each year by a. vast number. Indeed, more than 90,000 people a year are entering the employment of our secondary industries, which number is one-third of the total number of people employed on all the farms throughout Australia. Of course, primary production cannot employ vast numbers of people; only secondary industry can do that. If the development of this country is to be promoted, and if people are to be attracted here from overseas to help develop and defend Australia, then our secondary industries must be fostered. Moreover, an expansion of those industries can be promoted more rapidly than can an expansion of primary production. It has been estimated by a government authority that in order to establish 1,000 new farms £10,000,000 to £15,000,000 must be expended. But after those new farms have been developed they would give employment to only about 2,000 people Therefore, honorable members can readily perceive how slow would be the process of expanding our primary industry so that it could employ vast numbers of people. If we did not have our secondary industries, we could have no immigration scheme at all, and the natural increase of our own population would not be employed. Honorable members on the Government side have demanded supporting arguments for what I have been saying. They have a practice of ridiculing statements from this side of the House, no matter how well substantiated they are by logical arguments.
– Will the honorable member say that the statements of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) are ever supported by logic?
– I said logic, and that is what I meant. Unless honorable members on this side of the House can support their statements by authoritative publications honorable members on the Government side are apt to ridicule them. Because of that possibility, I shall now read from the Government publication National Development in order to sup* port what I have said. That journal states -
Australia, has ii major asset in its manufacturing industries. They employ 28 per cent, of the working population directly and a much greater percentage indirectly. They produce 33 per cent, of the national income and are developing substantial export incomes. They are reducing the burden of paying for costly imports with limited overseas funds and arc encouraging major overseas investment.
Secondary industry is often blamed for inflation, but in the last two years the rise in the prices of foodstuffs has been 50 per cent, higher than the rise in the prices of manufactured goods included in the “ C “ series index. It is interesting to note that farmers’ incomes in 1950-51 were more than sixteen times greater than in 1938-39 and’ in 1951-52 were nearly twelve times as great.
The failure of primary producing industries to increase production sufficiently since the war is attributable to several factors but the success of manufacturing industries is not one of them.
I whole-heartedly agree with that opinion, and I point out that it i3 completely at variance with the policy of this Government, which has caused an increase of unemployment. Because of the unemployment at present existing, fear and uneasiness have been instilled into the minds of many people throughout Australia about what might have been agreed to by the Government at the conference that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) recently attended in London. The people have not yet had a full report of the resolutions of that conference, and they know none of its details. Vague statements have appeared in the press, and the’ Prime Minister himself has made a number of broad statements but has given no details about any commitments that the Government may have entered into about the trade of this country. I believe that the manufacturers of Australia, as well as other sections of the people, are entitled to know the full details of the resolutions adopted at that conference. The Prime Minister has said that when he was abroad at the economic conference he found that the views of all the delegates assembled there were that the policies of his Government for solving the problems of Australia are sane and sound. However, the right honorable gentleman did not tell us whether his policy of attacking rising prices, reducing taxation and introducing sacrificial or horror budgets were endorsed at that conference, or whether it was his policy of increasing taxation or allowing a flood of imports to enter the country. Neither did the Prime Minister tell us whether the conference supported his policy of drastically restricting imports. Whatever we think or whatever the ideas of the conference, the Prime Minister could probably point to some particular part of the Government’s history and say that at that time the Government did certain things. At another point he might quite easily show that the Government acted in the opposite way.
– Order I The honorable member’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn
.- I rise to direct attention to what, on the available facts, appears to be an act of deception on the part of a Minister. I shall not say, on the information available to me, that it was an act of deception on the part of the Minister until I hear his explanation. It may have been because of the action of some officer of his department that he has been placed in this invidious position. Recently in New South Wales, during the New South Wales general election campaign, a member of this Parliament made several statements, which were reported in the press, concerning the contents of a government file. The reason why I am eager to have this matter cleared up 33 that I want to know whether every member of this
Parliament is to be permitted to have access to files, to examine them, and to make notes of their contents, because it is quite obvious that if a public statement of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) was correctly reported in the press, he must have made copious notes from a particular file. Because of certain innuendoes that were cast about during the recent New South Wales general election campaign, it is not my purpose to say that the contents of this file should not be made known to the public. As a matter of fact, as a result of action that has been taken by the New South Wales Government, I expect that there will be no opposition by the Commonwealth to the contents of this file being subsequently made known, with which action I completely agree.
On the 31st October, 1950, the honorable member for Mackellar asked the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride), who represents the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) in this House, a question relative to motor vehicles. On the 8th December, 1950, as reported in Hansard, volume 211, at page 4062, the Minister for Defence circulated a reply, which had been furnished by the Minister for Trade and Customs. The second paragraph of the reply reads -
It is not desirable to make available for public information particulars of this nature, having reference to the business of private citizens.
Strangely enough, the honorable member for Mackellar, subsequent to the asking of the question and the furnishing of the answer, must have had access to the file. He must have obtained it as a result of the action of the Minister, or by dishonest means through some officer of the department making it available to him. This appears to me to be a very serious matter, because up to this time the complete contents of the file have not been made available to the public. No doubt there has been only a distortion by the honorable member for Mackellar of the actual contents of the file, in an attempt - as has been his practice in the past - to do everything possible to besmirch the Labour party and injure it if he can in the political sphere. Is the honorable member for Mackellar a privileged member of this Parliament, who has access to files and information that are not made available either to other members of his own” side or members of the Opposition, and who, having had an opportunity to see a file, is permitted to go out and use portion of its contents? I am assuming at this stage that he has correctly stated from the public platform what the file contains. He used its contents to impugn the honesty of certain people, and he implied by innuendo from the public platform that the file contained a great deal more than the very “ spicy bits “ he had mentioned. He did this in order to stir the public to use their imagination and to believe that the file contains much graver matter. It seems to me that a very important principle is involved. If the honorable member for Mackellar discovered any improper matter when he perused the file in 1950, why did he not press the Government for some action even if a Minister had been improperly inactive? Why did he keep it from 1950 to 1953 to use in a State election campaign? That in itself suggests a want of proper appreciation of the duties of a public man by the honorable member for Mackellar. Although I have often asked for the production of files in order to ascertain whether information that had been furnished to me was borne out by them, my requests have been refused. I can quite appreciate that some matters of individual concern to members of the public ought not to be broadcast, but there ought not to be any suggestion that files are kept from examination in order that people engaged in some dishonest practice will not be brought to book. I do not think that is the idea in the minds of those who argue that files should not be made available. In view of the reply of the Minister for Trade and Customs that it was not the practice to make files available, will the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) ascertain, and inform me, whether the Government subsequently approved the release of the file in question to the honorable member for MackellarIs this to be regarded as the practice to be observed by the Parliament in future? Will that particular privilege be extended to only one supporter of the Government, or will it be extended to members of the Opposition ?
– I have always thought that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has illustrated very admirably from time to time the strategic principle that offence is the best means of defence. I have no doubt there are many files which he would be unwilling to have see the light of day.
– That is not true! You name the files and produce them. You are engaged in your usual character assassination by innuendo. You have my invitation to produce them in the Parliament.
– Order !
– There are certain facts that are very relevant to this matter. The first was the issue of a warrant for the arrest of a man named Doyle. It is perfectly true that when I first read these files some time ago I did not understand the full implications of this matter. Those implications only became evident after the publication of certain things by the New South Wales police regarding the activities of Doyle. It was not until that happened that I realized from my memory of this matter that this man was somebody about whom I knew certain things in the past and I was able to link the two together and see the significance of those things. The honorable member for East Sydney asks why was this saved up, instead of being brought before the Government’s attention earlier. My answer is that the significance of these things did not become apparent until a warrant was issued for the arrest of Doyle, and the facts which led to the issue of that warrant were published and became known to me. Because of that, the significance of other things in the past which did not seem at that time of high significance, came to my mind. It is not true that the matter was saved up for the election campaign. Indeed, I am myself very sorry that the news did not break earlier. Because of the shortness of time before the State election, it was not possible to get the whole truth of this matter out to the people. Indeed there are some aspects of it that the honorable member for East Sydney will be perhaps concerned to hear. I am not yet clear about them, but I hope that I shall be clear as events proceed. I want to refute any innuendo on the part of the honorable member for East Sydney that this matter was, in any sense, saved up. It was not. It was ventilated at the first opportunity when its significant character in relation to the warrant for the arrest of Doyle appeared to my mind.
One date to which I wish to direct attention is October, 1950, when a certain report was made. So far as I am aware, that date was not published, yet, whether by good luck or by good management, a certain New South Wales Minister was able to cite it in the press. I wonder why and how. That is a curious problem which I cannot quite understand at the moment. Another date - and it is a very significant date - is the first week in March, 1950, when certain motor cars wore illegally landed in Australia. Arrangements were made for those motor ears before the change of government, and there is some reason for belief - and I hope that investigations will show this one way or the other - that they were only the tail-end of a swindle which had been going on under the Labour Government for some years. I do not know whether any Labour Ministers were implicated in it. I cannot prove that they were, nor can I be quite definite about that aspect of the matter. Nevertheless, there is an indication that the procurement of those motor cars was only the tail-end of a swindle which was chopped off by the incoming government, and that, in fact, the arrangements for those motor cars had been made before the change of government hy somebody who did not believe that the government would be changed, and probably believed that he would be able to keep up his old contacts and channels in the department.
There are many aspects of this matter which I hope will be made plain. I can only say that the report I have given regarding the contents of certain parts of the file is an accurate report. There is one other very significant thing associated with this matter. The file was offered by the Minister for Trade and Customs to the New South Wales Premier and to the New South Wales police. At that time, it was said that the police were searching for a man named Doyle. The file contained the names of many contacts of the man Doyle and much information which would have been very useful to the New South Wales police in trying to find him ; but the New South Wales police did not consult the file while they were trying to find Doyle although it had been offered to them by the Minister. I wonder why!
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Twentyeighth Report on the Commonwealth Public Service Act, for year 1951-52.
Ordered to be printed.
Apple and Pear Export Charges Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 103.
Audit Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1953, No. 3.
Australian National University Act - Statutes -
No. 5 - Enrolment, Courses of Research and Degrees.
No.6 - Constitution ofthe Council (Period of Office).
No. 7 - Common Seal.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 112.
Customs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, Nos. 96, 114.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, Nos. 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109. 110, 111.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act -
National Security (Industrial Property)
Regulations - Orders- Inventions and designs (16).
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952. Nos. 113, 116.
Distillation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 98.
Dried Fruits Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 99.
Excise Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 97.
High Commissioner Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 95.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act-Regulations-Statutory Rules 1952, No. 102.
Judiciary Act - Rule of Court, dated 16th December, 1952 (Statutory Rules 1953, No.1).
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land, &c, acquired for -
Defence purposes -
Bathurst, New South Wales.
East Sale, Victoria.
Carbutt (Townsville), Queensland.
Port Prime, South Australia.
Department of Supply purposes - Newport, Victoria.
Department of Works purposes - Hawthorn, Victoria.
Postal purposes -
Barham, New South Wales.
Blayney, New South Wales.
Colinroobie, New South Wales.
Dorrigo, New South Wales.
Glen Innes, New South Wales.
Hay, New South Wales.
Launceston South, Tasmania.
Lossie, South Australia.
Loxton North, South Australia.
Maaoope, South Australia.
Melrose, South Australia.
Montacute, South Australia.
Mount Schank West, South Australia.
Quialigo, New South Wales.
Rand, New South Wales.
Wandsworth, New South Wales.
Railway purposes - Hawker, South Australia.
War Service Homes Division purposes - Moorabbin, Victoria.
Returns of land disposed of under section 63, (4).
National Health Service Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 100.
Nauru - Ordinances - 1952 -
No. 5 - Criminal Code Amendment.
No. 6 - Aerodrome (Acquisition of land)
Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 115.
Northern Territory (Administration) Act -
Ordinances - 1952 -
No. 30 - Licensing (No. 2).
No. 31 - Justices.
No. 32 - Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
No. 33 - Fisheries.
No. 34 - Supply of Services.
No. 35 - BankHolidays.
No.36 - Lottery and Gaming:
No. 37 - Water and Electricity Restrictions.
No. 38 - Church Lands Leases.
No. 39- Crown Lands (No. 3).
No. 40 - Apprentices.
No. 41 - Interpretation (No. 2).
Regulations - 1 952 -
No. 6 (Lottery and Gaming Ordinance).
No. 7 (Apprentices Ordinance).
Public Service Act -
Appointments - Department -
Attorney-General - J. N. P. Edson, B. J. M. D. Moffatt, J. J. Nugent, F. V. O’Sullivan, C. J. K. Sarroff, R. W. Whitrod.
Civil Aviation - A. W. Burness, J. M. Caston, J. W. E. Huggett, W. B. Mason, A. Pirie, A. A. Rowlands.
Commerce and Agriculture - W. K. Marshall, R. T. M. Rose.
Defence Production - R. C. Foley, G. N. Goodman, R. C. Nicholls, A. Poynter.
External Affairs - R. H. Gardner, B. B. Hickey, J. R. Kelso, G. C. Lewis, R. H. Robertson, P. A. Williams, D. G. Wilson, C. G. Woodard.
Health- J. J. Elphinstone, P. R. Joyce, C. R. McDonald.
National Development - S. D. Henderson.
Repatriation - A. Bardsley, J. B. Best, P. J. Bird, N. Brian, J. H. Chalmers, V. G. F. Clay, N. G. Elder, J. R. F. England, R. A. Grant,O.O. A. Jdan-Poushkin, M. H. Mcllroy, K. J. Parker, N. M. Smith, C. C. Stackhouse, L. Travers, D. D. Watson.
Shipping and Transport - K. A. O’Keeffe. Social Services - A. W. Daly, J. H. Thomas.
Supply- L. F. Bain, W. R. Blunden, F. J. H. Brattstrom, D. Clarke, K. J. Foulkes, F. A. Fox, H. W. F. Freer, K. A. Halsall, G. F. R. S. Hore, D. H. Irwin, A. F. W. Langford, R. C. Nicholls, K. J. Potter, D. H. Richardson, M. Rososinski, S. D. Smith, J. A. W. Strath, J. D. Stubbs, T. H. A. Trubshaw, R. P. Wicks, A. P. Wigman.
Trade and Customs - A. C. Jennings.
Works - W. E. Beck, J. F. Brotchie, J. A. Cameron, I. Campbell, J. G. Cheyne, S. G. Dolton, P. M. Drake-Brockman, J. R. Grace, K. G. Harding, R. I. Harding, R. A. G. Head, E. S. P. Higgin, J. G. King, R. G. Lack, R. F. Martin, K. McDowell, F. W. Statham, B. K. G. Swain, W. M. Thomson, F. D. Underwood, J. W. White, M. L. Williams, H. G. Woffenden, B. E. Wohlfahrt.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1953, No. 2. Public Service Arbitration Act - Determinations -
No. 68 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
No. 71 - Australian Broadcasting Commission Staff Association.
No. 72 - Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen and Others.
No. 73 - Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen.
No. 74 - Sheet Metal Working Agricultural Implement and Stovemaking Industrial Union of Australia.
No. 75 - Amalgamated Engineering Union.
No. 76 - Australian Workers’ Union.
No. 77 - Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen.
No. 78 - Customs Officers’ Association of Australia (Fourth Division) and Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Nos. 79 and 80 - Commonwealth Foremen’s Association.
No. 81 - Musicians’ Union of Australia.
No. 82 - Amalgamated Engineering Union and Others.
No. 83 - Amalgamated Printing Trades Employees’ Union of Australia.
No. 84 - Postal Telecommunication. Technicians’ Association (Australia ) .
No. 85 - Australian Journalists’ Association.
No. 86 - Transport Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 87 - Postal Telecommunication Technicians’ Association (Australia) .
No. 88 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 89 - Commonwealth Telephone and Phonogram Officers’ Association.
No. 90 - Australian Third Division Telegraphists and Postal Clerks’ Union.
No. 91 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union.
No. 92 - Civil Aviation Employees’ Association of Australia. 1953-
No. 1 -Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 2 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 3 - Association of Railway Professional Officers of Australia.
No. 4 - Professional Radio Employees’ Institute of Australasia.
No. 5 - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association.
Quarantine Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1953, No. 4.
Repatriation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 101.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration Act-
Ordinances - 1952 - No. 10 - Landlord and Tenant.
No. 1 - Public Baths.
No. 2 - National Memorials.
Regulations - 1952- No. 17 (Fish Protection Ordinance).
No. 1 (Motor Traffic Ordinance).
No. 2 (National Capital Development Ordinance) .
House adjourned at 11.4 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following information : -
s asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The figures quoted above do not include flying boat bases and Cocos Island, but include Norfolk Island and cover the acquisition and improvement to sites - runways, taxiways, strips, fences, drains, aprons, parking areas, beautification and access roads (but not buildings and lighting and navigational aids).
h asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following information : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 February 1953, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1953/19530218_reps_20_221/>.