20th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. COSTA presented a petition from certain officers, of the . Commonwealth Public Service, praying .that the Parliament take action to halt a proposal of the
Postmaster-General’s Department to purchase a new telegraph system called Tress.
Petition received and read.
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture lay on the table of the House the correspondence which passed between himself or officers of his department and Australia’s delegates to the International Wheat Conference at Washington, whether they be grower-delegates or representatives or advisers, and the Government delegates, and also the chairman of the Australian Wheat Board ?
– No, I shall not lay that correspondence, on the table of the House. The reason for my decision is perfectly clear. It has never been customary to make public all the instructions and correspondence that have passed between a government and its delegates abroad. However, the ‘ interested parties at the present time have a knowledge of the matter which they were” never permitted to have when the Labour Government was in office. I remind the House that the Chifley Labour Government appointed delegates to negotiate the International Wheat Agreement, and that the Australian Wheat Growers Federation asked that Administration to allow it to have an observer, or a delegate, at the conference. On that occasion the honorable member for Lalor, who was the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, flatly refused, to, consult the federation or to allow growers to take any part in the negotiations for the disposal of their own product. But this Government arranged for the chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, a majority pf whose members are growers, to be present as an advisor to the Government’s delegate. It also invited the Australian Wheat Growers Federation on two occasions to name whom it would wish to send, first, to London, and, secondly, to Washington, to attend the conferences as advisors to the Government’s delegates. . On the first occasion, the federation named an. elected member of the Australian Wheat -Board, Mr. Pearce, and the Government sent him to London and” paid his expenses. On the second occasion, the federation named its general secretary, Mr. Stott, and the Government sent him to Washington and paid his expenses. The Australian Wheat Board knew all about the negotiations, as did the State governments notwithstanding the fact that the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Gain, said that growers were not allowed to know what happened at the conferences. In fact, while Mr. .Cain was telling a meeting of wheat-growers in Melbourne that he could obtain no information from me,’ or from the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, in relation to developments connected with the International Wheat Agreement, I had in my pocket a letter, dated just a few days earlier, from the Victorian Minister for Agriculture to thank me for the- comprehensive manner in which I had kept the Victorian Government advised on the subject,
– Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture .indicate when wool-growers “whose entitlement to Joint Organization money was affected by the claim in the Poulton case may expect payment of the money that is due to them? It should be known by now whether Mr. Poulton intends to appeal to the Privy Council.
– The Government has been expecting for some time to learn whether Mr. Poulton intends to lodge an appeal with the Privy Council. However, that advice has not yet been received. I understand that the rules of the Privy Council provide- that an appeal may be lodged at anytime after the date of judgment - in this case by the High Court of Australia - but that the appellant shall lodge his appeal with the least possible delay. What may constitute a reasonable delay is. presumably, a matter for decision by the Privy Council and I do not think1 it would be right for me to express a view upon that point. However, I assure thehonorable member that I am having a careful study made of the implications tha<t a prolonged delay may have in regard’ to the distribution of the- Joint Organization profits in question. Quite apart from th& legal issues, certain administrative problems will arise in the payment of these profits to some growers, and the Austraiian Wool Realization Commission which is responsible for making the payments, is at present working on plans in anticipation of the settlement of the litigation.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether it is a fact thai the Australian Government has received a request from Mr. Dulles, the Secretary of State of the United States of America, or from the United States Government, for Australian military support in IndoChina along with military support from other countries, including the United Kingdom, France and New Zealand. If such a request has been received, when was it received, what answer has been given,, what is the view of the Government and the Minister on that question, and will the Minister make a complete statement on the subject as early as possible ?
– I propose to take an early opportunity to-day to make a statement on the Geneva conference, and that statement will embrace the matter that, has been raised by the Leader of the Opposition.
– I am. speaking of a specific request direct from the United States of America.
– I shall speak on that, point amongst others connected with the same subject.
– Will the Minister for Territories say whether it is a fact that some of the large leases of the Northern Territory held by overseas companies are due for renewal? Will the Minister take steps to see that when these leases are renewed sound developmental clauses will be inserted, and that some of the areas concerned will be reserved for residential owners.
– The position regarding land-holding in the Northern Territory is that comparatively recently a new Crown Lands ordinance was passed by the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory and assented to, and that regulations under that ordinance are about to be- promulgated. When they have been promulgated’ it will be possible for landholders in the Northern Territory to convert any existing leases to leases under the new ordinance, i think T. should take the opportunity, since the matter has-been raised1, to inform the House that in the particular case of Vestey’s, we have reached a conclusion regarding the conversion of that company’s land holdings to new leases under the new ordinance. Under the arrangements that have been made,, whereas the company has hitherto held an area of 23,727 square miles in the Northern Territory,, it will, surrender
Mil area of 8,493 square miles,, and there will be written into its new leases developmental conditions that will ensure the expenditure within the next four or five years of £250,000- on development of the leases that are to be; retained by the company. In. addition, the company will surrender 5,351 square miles which it now holds under grazing licences. The whole of the area surrendered, which totals about 14,000 square miles, will, of course, in due time be made available for application by other land-seekers in the Northern Territory. The Government prefers to extend better conditions to the resident land-owner who occupies a family living area, than to the large company. En fairness, tq the previous Government, perhaps I should say that in the arrangements we have made with Vestey’s we are carrying out an agreement that was made by the Chifley Government. In 1948, when the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was Minister for the Interior, arrangements were entered into between him and the company, and’ were approved by the Chifley Government. Effect is now being given to these arrangements. I think it is right to say that when the present Government, took office, my predecessor in this portfolio, and, in due course, I myself, thought the arrangements with Vestey’s were perhaps not so strict as they might have been, but we felt that we were under an obligation of honour to observe arrangements that had been entered into in good faith by the company. “We have observed those arrangements.. The only difference - and I want to be specific on this point - between, what is being done by the present Government and what was approved by the Chifley Government in respect of Vestey’s land-holdings, is that under our- arrangement Vestey’s will retain 94 square miles more than it would have retained under the Johnson agreement made by the Chifley Government.
That difference nf «4 square miles i- due simply to the straightening of boundaries. Whereas under the land-laws in force when the Chifley Government was in office- the company would have oh –lined a lease for 42 years, under the new laws it will have a lease for 50 years. In addition, whereas there was a minimum of developmental conditions in the Johnson agreement, there is now an insistence upon expenditure on development of £250,000 under the arrangements ma.de by the present Government. That provision should commend itself to both sides qf the House.
– Will the Prime Minister, when he makes his promised statement on Australia’s attitude to hydrogen bomb experiments in the Pacific, indicate whether the Government intends to ask the- United States of America to consult with Australia about these hydrogen- bomb experiments, and to share the knowledge gained from such experiments with Australia? Will his statement also indicate whether, in the event of the refusal of the United States of America to share with Australia the knowledge gained from these experiments with Australia, the Government will continue to share Australia’s- uranium supplies with America?
– I shall hope in my statement to deal’ with all the material aspects of this matter, but I shall certainly not anticipate making a statement that will involve any mutual criticism as between this country and the United States of America ; because, quite frankly, I am delighted, as I am sure all other Australians are, that these experiments are being conducted by our friends and not by our enemies.
– Can the Minister for Supply indicate whether any recent assistance has been given by his department to Australian secondary industries through the placing of defence orders, or any other kind’ of orders ? ‘
– Yes, I think some little time ago I made a statement about this matter to the House, and I heard some sentiments expressed by honorable members opposite last night to the effect that the Government was not doing as much as it should for Australian industries.
– Order ! The Minister may not deal with matters which arose during a debate in committee. “ Mr. BEALE. - From my knowledge of other departments as well as my own, I can say that this Government is doing a great deal for our secondary industries. I know that even within the last fewmonths contracts to the value of no less than £22,000,000 have been placed by my department with Australian manufacturers for the benefit of Australian workers. Later I shall take the opportunity to compile a complete list of the contracts that have been placed with Australian manufacturers, which will involve probably an amount of £100,000,000 or more.
– The question that I direct to the Minister for ‘Supply arises from, the answer that he gave to the honorable member for Mitchell on the subject of the placing of Government contracts. In view of the remarkable growth of industrial establishments in the Geelong area, I ask the honorable gentleman whether, in recent months, his department has been able to avail itself of the services of any of the industries in that locality.
– The honorable member has approached me on many occasions in relation to the industries in his electorate.
– The Minister is very approachable.
– I am both approachable and amenable to intelligent suggestions. The Department of Supply has been able from time to time to place orders with meritorious manufacturers in the Geelong area. I can remember three large orders that were lodged in that area quite recently. One of them involved over £61,000, another was for motor vehicles to the value of over £190,000, and a third -was ‘for an amount of over £200,000. I : recall. also that three Geelong knitting mills have shared orders representing a total of over £250,000. Honorable members should realize that the companies obtained these orders on their own merits by competitive tender, but I am bound to say that the honorable member for Corio has been indefatigable in pointing out the production capacity of the industries in his electorate.
– I ask the Prime Minister to state on whose authority Japanese firms were invited to tender for work on *he Snowy Mountains Scheme? Is it provided in the terms of the contract for this work that the successful tendering firm shall have the right to import its own nationals to work on the Snowy Mountains project during the period of the contract? I believe that that has been done by other successful tenderers from overseas. Has the Japanese tender been successful or has it been rejected ; or has consideration of the tenders been postponed until after the next general election.
– The Minister for Supply will answer the question.
– I shall convey the highly fanciful observations of the honorable member to my colleague in another place, the Minister for National Develop.ment, and ask him to supply the honorable member with an answer to his question.
– I asked my question of the Prime Minister.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Can the right honorable gentleman give the House . some information about the success of the Government’s measures against tuberculosis? Are cases being brought under treatment at an earlier stage of the disease than was the case formerly? Is it possible yet to say whether the disease incidence in the population is falling? Have the Government’s measures reduced the risk of . infection . to healthy members of the community?
– The steps taken by the Government to reduce the incidence of infection in the community fall within three categories. First, we are trying to increase the number of hospital beds so that tubercular patients can be segregated from other patients. No fewer than 1,040 new beds have been provided for tubercular sufferers during the last four years, and provision has been made throughout the States of Australia for a further 1,500 beds. Secondly, the Government has provided generous tuberculosis allowances, and that has had the effect of bringing under treatment many thousands of case.-: of concealed tuberculosis. Because many of these sufferers have sought treatment at an earlier stage than was previously the case, they have been cured and are back at work. Thirdly, because of the introduction of the new antibiotic drugs in the treatment of tuberculosis and mass X-rays throughout Australia, in four years we have been able to .reduce the death rate from tuberculosis from 25 per 100,000 to twelve per 100,000 of the population.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for the Army, is related to a question that was asked yesterday by the honorable member for Shortland. Will the Minister lay on the table of the House the papers relative to a military inquiry into the - tragedy which took place in the amphibious training of national service trainees at Port Stephens? Will the Minister also lay on the table of the House the papers relative to the inquiry into the walkout of 72 national service trainees from a Queensland training camp? Will he also lay on the table of the House the papers relative to an inquiry in relation to a recent tragedy in South Australia when one of the national service trainees lost his life?
– National service training has been in operation since the 6 th August, 1951, and has been singularly free of accidents of any kind, except one at Singleton. It is very .unfortunate that the incidents to which the honorable member has referred have occurred within the last few days. Honorable members must appreciate the fact that the conduct of national service training, the standard of efficiency and the standard of discipline; ha.ye. been of a very high order. The honorable gentleman knows, or should know, better than any other honorable member-
– Answer my question.
– I am answering the question. When an inquiry is conducted by the Army, the General Officer Commanding details two or three officers to examine the circumstances surrounding the accident and to report to him on the cause and what may be done to possibly avoid further accidents. The report is available to Army head-quarters and to the Minister for the Army for his own information. The honorable member should know - and I am sure he does know - that, under the procedure that has been adopted throughout the British Commonwealth and in Australia, it is not possible to treat such documents as other than confidential. I wish to administer the department in the manner in which it has or should have always been administered, and in so doing I am carrying out the accepted practice and the law.
– Does the Minister for the Army agree with the statement made by the officer in charge of the camp at Wacol that the recent walk-out of national service trainees was the result of incitement by Communists? Is the Minister aware that statements that are being made almost universally by trainees at the camp are to the effect that the trouble arose because of the poor quality and inadequate quantity of the food that is supplied to trainees at the camp? Can he state whether or not the discontent at that camp arose mainly as a result of those factors rather than as a result of any incitement on the part of Communists? In any event, will he cause an investigation to be made into the food position at the camp at Wacol, and should such an investigation disclose that the food being served is of poor quality, as has been alleged to me, will he ascer tain whether this has been due to collusion between the officers in charge of the camp and the persons controlling the canteen with the result that trainees are obliged to expend most of their earnings to supplement the food supplied to them at the camp? - .-a.
– The first observation that 1 make is that I regret that any honorable member should be so irresponsible as to raise this matter in the way that the honorable member has raked it. Let me deal with the allegation that the food that is supplied at the camp is of poor quality. I myself have inspected the food that is supplied to the trainees there.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order ! A spirit of disorder has arisen during the last twenty minutes. If certain honorable members wish to proceed in this way, much as it may go against my wishes, I shall be compelled to take action.
– I, personally, have inspected the food that is supplied to trainees at the camp at Wacol.
Mr. Edmonds interjecting,
– I have discussed this matter with the General Officer Commanding, the Commanding Officer at the camp, and with’ most of the company commanders.
– What about the troops ?
– I have discussed the matter with the troops also; and I shall indicate the circumstances in which I have -done so. I reside at Ipswich, and I drive either in my own car or in an Army car past this camp from Brisbane to Ipswich almost daily.
– In your top hat?
– Order! I ask the Minister to resume his seat until the House comes to order. I suggest to the. Prime Minister that if the House is not prepared to maintain order he might go on with the business of the day.
– Don’t let the top hat knock you over, ‘“.Jos.”.
– Order !
– I have discussed this matter with many men whom I have driven in my motor car. As I have passed Wacol camp, I have picked up lads who wished .to be carried to Goodna, Ipswich and intervening places, and they have told me, whenever I have inquired, that they have been more than satisfied with the food. I deeply regret that people, because they have no interest or enthusiasm for national service training, raise bogies of this kind. It is not fair to the lads, or to units due to go into camp in a few days’ time, to try to create the impression that all is not well. National service is a credit to Australia, to every lad who has been in camp, and to all those men who have been training the youths. His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, and the Governors of all the States, and distinguished officers who have come to Australia from overseas, all regard -the remarkable development of national training in Australia as one of the wonder3 of this age.
– I desire to address a question to the Leader of the Opposition. Is it a fact that-
– I rise to order. I submit that the Standing Orders provide that a question must be directed to a Minister or an honorable member about a matter of which he has charge. The honorable member for Griffith has not mentioned any matter of which the Leader of the Opposition can possibly have charge. I suggest that before you, Mr. Speaker, can admit the question, the honorable member for Griffith should be required to state- the matter of which the Leader of the Opposition has charge.
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - Order! The only way in which I can do so is by hearing the honorable member for Griffith.
– I wish to be fair. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he will answer my question without equivocation.
– Order!. Will the honorable gentleman ask his question?
– I shall do so. Is it a fact that the honorable member for Herbert has never visited Wacol camp ?
-Order ! The honorable gentleman is completely out of order.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. -Quite a number of people h.ave informed me that they are still unaware of the benefits, to . which they are entitled, under the Government’s, hospital benefits scheme.. Will the Minister inform the House of the benefits that are available to pensioners, to persons- who are not members of an authorized fund, and to persons who are members- of an authorized fund? Will the Minister also indicate the improvement in hospital revenue that has resulted from the Government’s scheme?
– By agreement, the Australian Government pays to the State Government an. amount of 12s. for every day that a pensioner is in an approved public ward hospital bed. The States have agreed that when such payment is made no further charge will be made against the pensioner. A subsidy of 8s. a day is paid to the State Government in respect of each person who is not a pensioner. In respect of each patient who is insured an additional Commonwealth subsidy of 4s. a day is paid, regardless of the period for which the patient may be in hospital and regardless of whether the condition for which he or she is being treated is covered by insurance. I should estimate that the improvement that has resulted in hospital revenues as the result of the present Government’s scheme would amount to approximately £5,000,000 in respect of the total number of hospitals in Australia.
– Is the Minister for Social Services aware that a considerable quantity of coal is stored in New South Wales as the result of the excess production of certain classes of coal during the past year ? Is he also aware that a number of age and invalid pensioners suffer considerably from the cold in wintertime, and that fuel is most expensive? Can he suggest a way by which the Joint Coal Board can confer with the New South Wales Government with a view to giving some relief to those aged persons during the coming winter by making available to them some of this coal which may not be useful for any other purpose?
– The use to which surplus coal supplies are put in New South Wales falls within the administration of the Minister for National
Development, but the provision of coal: to pensioners, free of charge, possibly comes within the ambit of the- Depart-: ment of Social Services. The varioussocial services benefits that may be. granted by the Commonwealth are defined precisely in the Social Services Con: solidation Act which deals principally with the payment of pensions.. Social services of the type that the honorable member for Bennelong has in mind are provided by State governments. For instance, the Tasmanian Government has provided firewood for many years to pensioners in that State. I consider that it would be quite a good idea if the proposition were put to the New South Wales Government that it provide - means, whereby the very deserving section of thecommunity to which the honorable gentleman has referred may obtain a little warmth in winter-time.
– My question to the’ Minister for Immigration arises from the serious position which has developed at Commonwealth hostels as the result of mass feeding. Will he inform me whether it is a fact that hundreds of persons have left th ese hostels because they are not allowed to cook their own meals? Is it also a fact that a number of those persons are now living in garages and other places in preference to putting up with mass feeding conditions? If those are facts, is the Minister prepared to provide places in which residents of hostels may do their own cooking? Some of the’ immigrants are returning to the countries from which they came at a time when Australia requires workers.
– I am not aware of any complaints in recent times about the matters to which the honorable member for Cunningham has referred. Indeed,, the planned movement from the hostels has been adhered to most precisely. Wecalculated originally that the movement from the hostels would be at the rate of 2 per cent, a week, and no sudden acceleration of that movement has. occurred. In fact, we have been able to hold to what we regard as a regular and! orderly movement out of the hostels as people have found opportunities to obtain accommodation elsewhere. If the honorable gentleman has any particular complaint that he would like me to investigate, I shall inquire into the matter, but my understanding of the position is that conditions are as satisfactory as hostel life can afford at the present time.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. As amendment of the Australian Capital Territory Workmen’s Compensation Ordinance depends on amendment of the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act, and as workers in this Territory are affected by both enactments, will the right honorable gentleman take action to amend the act so as to provide rates of compensation at least equal to those which have operated in New South Wales for several months ?
– The honorable member should know perfectly well that the question he has asked involves a matter of government policy. It is not the practice for Ministers to answer such questions.
– I desire to direct a question to the Minister for Territories. What are the terms and conditions of civilian land settlement in Papua and New Guinea? What are the terms and conditions of war service land settlement in those two areas? Have any war service land settlers been settled on the land? If not, is it anticipated that they will be?
– Answering the last part of the honorable member’s question, I inform him that a scheme for war service land settlement in Papua and New Guinea has been prepared by the officers of my department in consultation with the officers of the Department of the Interior, and is at present under examination. I also inform the honorable member, in reply to the first part of his question, that opportunities for land settlement by people of the European race in Papua and New Guinea are limited by the availability of land, the general lines of government policy being to respect the native ownership of land ; but when land is available, applications are invited by advertisement, and come before a land board. Grants of land are made on leasehold to the successful applicants.
– Is the Minister for Supply aware that reports are continually being received by honorable member.? about a serious shortage of galvanized iron, roofing iron, sheet iron, &c, on the home market to-day? As this shortage has serious repercussions on home building, primary production and essential repairs, will the Minister cause this matter to be investigated immediately? Will he also investigate allegations that, production is not waning but that local distribution is being deliberately curtailed by the producers.
– I shall refer the matter to the Minister for National Development, under whose jurisdiction these matters fall, and will obtain a reply for the honorable member as soon as possible.
– Some time ago 1 asked the Minister for Supply whether his department would assist in remedying a serious situation that had arisen at Salisbury North owing to the lack of deep drainage. In view of the fact that this area houses men employed at the Long Range Weapons Testing Establishment, can the Minister now say whether the department will accede to my request?
– The honorable member has approached me several times on this subject, which concerns about 1,600 occupiers of houses in the Salisbury North area. None of the houses has sewerage facilities. As a result of the honorable gentleman’s representations, I investigated the matter and had discussions with the South Australian Government. The South Australian authorities, both municipal and otherwise, indicated that they were not able to connect the houses to the ordinary municipal sewerage system. However, the Commonwealth has at Salisbury, as a part of the Long Range Weapons Testing Establishment, a. sewage disposal plant the capacity of which is vastly in excess of the needs of that establishment. It was constructed during the war for munitions purposes. I am glad to be able to tell the honorable member for Sturt that we have now arranged to connect the 1,600 houses to that plant, which actually needs some extra arrangement of this sort for its efficient operation. The people concerned will now be supplied with sewerage facilities, and the cost will be borne by the South Australian Government.
– In view of the huge defence programme of Japan, which is a constant worry to all Australians, who fear that history will repeat itself, will the Minister for Defence discuss immediately with his Cabinet colleagues the. advisability of cancelling permits to export scrap iron to Japan ?
– I was not aware that Japan had a huge defence budget, but perhaps I am not well informed on that subject. The export of scrap iron to Japan is constantly under review by the appropriate officers.
– As Chairman, I present the following reports of the Public Accounts Committee: -
Fourteenth Report - Supplementary Estimates and variations under Section 37 of the Audit Act 1901-1053 for year 1952-53.
Severally ordered to be printed.
Motion (by Mr. Holt) agreed to -
That Government business shall take precedence over general business to-morrow.
Motion (by Mr. Holt) agreed to -
That the House shall meet at 10 a.m. on Thursday and Friday next.
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to provide for the payment, through the Australian Wheat Board, to growers of wheat of a certain season of certain moneys in the Wheat Prices Stabilization Fund.
– I take this opportunity to explainto the House the course of action that the Government proposes to take in relation to the Supply Bill (No. 1) 1954-55 and cognate measures listed on the notice-paper. Honorable members will see that the first seven bills named on the notice-paper are linked with the Supply legislation. The Government considers that it would be convenient for the House to have a general debate covering all these measures but, at the conclusion of the debate, to vote separately on each bill. The Government proposes that the remainder of to-day’s sitting, and the debating time to-morrow until about 6 p.m., shall be available for the purposes of the general debate and the formal stages of the bills that will be covered by that debate.
– The Opposition agrees with the suggestion made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt). We consider that consideration of the seven bills will be facilitated if we have a general debate to cover all of the seven bills and then have a separate vote on each measure at the conclusion of the debate.
Debate resumed from the 6th April (vide page 36), on motion by Sir Arthur Fadden -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The Twentieth Parliament is dying and it is painfully obvious that the occupants of the Government benches are fearing the wrath that is to come. Last night the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) spoke without emotion, without enthusiasm, without inspiration and without information. He introduced his seven bills, and gave a factual, but matter of fact, explanation of their contents. It is right that at this concluding stage of the labours of this Parliament some attention should be directed to the fact that this is the most notorious government in Australia’s history as a promise-maker and a promise-breaker. Two of the seven bills are to grant supply for the first four months of the next financial year and the next Parliament. The question of which government is to be in charge of the destinies of the nation after the 29th May, whether it will be an Evatt Government or a Menzies Government, will be decided by the electors on that day. Whatever democracy decides will be accepted by all true democrats, but we on this side of the House have no doubt about the result of the coming general election.
The Supply that we are engaged in granting is for the discharge of all governmental responsibilities for the first four months of the Twenty-first Parliament of the Commonwealth. When the next parliament meets the National Parliament will have come of age by virtue of the fact that it will be the Twenty-first Parliament. It will, therefore, be appropriate that the Labour party should have control of the Parliament when it comes of age. Two other bills cover additional estimates of expenditure for the current financial year. Two bills in a third category deal with the supplementary estimates for the financial year that ended on the 30th June, 1953, and there is a seventh bill to grant a sum of £40,000,000 to be paid into a trust account known as the “ War Pensions Fund “. From that fund money will be paid out in the early months of the next financial year to recipients of the various kinds of repatriation pensions.’ I think it right that, under the prevailing circumstances, the Parliament should hold a sort of post-mortem on the Government. It should examine the Government and discover what were the diseases that contributed to its decline and ultimate dissolution. It is also fitting that we should see why it is that this Government, which won so handsomely at the general election of 1949, and won rather convincingly in 1951, has forfeited the confidence of the people.
– Political polio.
– The Government may be dyingof political polio, but it is to be hoped that it is not a contagious disease in the political sense. The tactics employed in the 1949 campaign speeches of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), and the Treasurer, were certainly questionable morally. The results achieved may have been justified from their point of view, but they were won by the employment of deliberately devised deceptive means. The Prime Minister does not remember the promises that he made in 1949, and if the Treasurer would fain forget them, the people hare not forgotten them.. They will want to know what the Government has done in the last four and a half years about that long list of promises, expensive and expansive, which it made on that occasion. I have a copy of one of the advertisements that the parties now in office issued at that time, with the photogenic features of the present Prime Minister adorning the left hand corner. They should have appeared in the righthand corner. The advertisement said that the Liberal policy would include a £250,000,000 developmental programme covering feeder roads, soil conservation, housing, flood prevention and the provision of water, light and power, more hospitals, more doctors, more nurses, more training centres, more research, more attention to the prevention of disease, and so on. It was certainly a promising government. Honorable members opposite promised everything, but they have done nothing to keep their promises. Not one penny has been raised to help the State governments or municipalities around Australia under that scheme about which the Prime Minister and the Treasurer waxed so eloquent. I repeat, they promised a scheme to provide £250,000,000, free of all responsibility, to the States and the municipalities, to be financed out of the proceeds of the petrol tax. But the local government authorities are starved for money. The State governments are starved for money. That promise of the Treasurer to provide £250,000,000 to them was just a promise designed to steal votes and snatch an electoral victory for the moment. It was made with no intention of being regarded as a responsibility of a subsequent Government to honour.
We all remember the sulphurous language of the 1949 electoral campaign, the fierce denunciations, the bitter invective. We remember how honorable members opposite were going to clean out the Communists, how they were going to clear out from the Public Service everybody who was not 100 per cent, in support of every democratic ideal. We know the language they employed, and we know the results that they have achieved. If ever a party, or a collection of parties, like the combination of political representatives who sit on the Treasury benches, looked crestfallen and dispirited, honorable members opposite certainly do. I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, that you have not provided mirrors on top of the desks so that honorable members opposite can see how depressed they look.
– Order ! The question of mirrors is not under discussion.
– The Prime Minister has claimed that the Government has carried out SO per cent, of its promises. At least, that was the claim he made during the last Senate election campaign. During the last budget debate however, he said that the Government had carried out 90 per cent, of its promises. The performance seems to be rising in magnitude, degree, and percentage all the time. The truth is, that this Government, having found that it can not fool the people into believing that it did not make the promises, now has the odious temerity to present itself before the electors and say, “ Everything we promised to do we have done “. The truth of the matter is that the Government has done little or nothing. Last night we heard from the Treasurer, who has had the audacity to assert that he really came into office to clean up the mess that was left by the Chifley Government. He even poses before the people as a greater Treasurer than the great Ben Chifley. Who believes him? He does not even believe himself ! Nobody believes the Treasurer is even the simulacrum of a statesman. Nobody regards bini as other than an egregious failure, or, to use the vernacular, a complete flop. What has he done in four and a half years while he has been Treasurer? He has increased the amount of treasury-bills outstanding from £85,000,000 to £250,000,000. He has doubled the basic wage, because he created the inflation that forced up prices, which in turn forced up wages. He has so arranged his loan programmes that the £500,000 invested by thrifty, decent honest Australian citizens in three per cent, and three and one-eighth per cent, loans floated by the Chifley Government has been depreciated until at present the bond holders who, through illness or other cause wish to sell their securities receive £10 or £12 less on each £100 bond than they should. His own treasury officials will supply any of his benighted followers with this information if they seek it. Never since the depression years have Australian bonds floated on the Australian loan market been depreciated to the extent that they have been depreciated under this Government. The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) cannot blame Stalin or Hitler or anybody but himself for that. Mis own ineptitude, inefficiency and incapacity, and the foolish policies that he pursued when he became the prisoner of his own economists have brought about this result.
This Government has followed a policy of high taxation. High taxation has not prevented inflation; on the contrary, it has fed the flames of inflation and produced to-day a result under which many thousands of Australian investors in Government bonds find their bonds heavily depreciated in value, as I have just pointed out. Church organizations, returned soldiers’ clubs and other organizations, some of whom hold £10,000 or £20,000 worth of these bonds which they have set aside to build churches, schools, clubs and the like are some of the interests so affected. When people who hold bonds die - and we all must pay that debt of nature some time or other - their relatives are forced to sell the bonds on the money market before they can obtain probate of the deceased persons’ will. This Government, although it has depreciated the bonds, will not accept them at full value in payment of probate. I suggest t,ha.t it should do so. Ir. should also accept these bonds at face value in pay. ment of taxes.
The Treasurer is obviously a printing press treasurer, and although he tries. to intimate that the Labour party wants to make great use of the printing press, I say that we have never wanted to use the printing press as this Government has used it. We have sought to print notes or create credits so that people could be put into employment, whereas anti-Labour governments have starved the people in the depression years. It is perfectly legitimate to use national credit to employ all available physical and labour resources. When a government goes beyond that point it contributes to inflation. This Government has gone far beyond that stage, but, as is usual with it when it finds itself in a difficulty, it has tried to throw the responsibility on other shoulders. It has accused the Labour party of the very sins that it has committed. When reading the Scriptures recently I was reminded of the Treasurer when I read the following in the Book of Job : -
The speeches of one who is desperate ure as the wind.
The Treasurer cannot convince any one in Australia that he has been successful. If we consider his last loan flotation in London, we shall discover that 56 per cent, of it was left in the hands of the underwriters. The fact that loan was floated at 4-J per cent., issued at £98, and was an awful failure, indicates that the English people have little confidence in. Australian investments. Indeed, I should have to go back to the day of theN other tragic Treasurer during the Bruce-Page Government, to get a similar example of ineptitude by an Australian Country party Treasurer. The last two loans floated in 192S by the Bruce-Page Government were left in the hands of the underwriters in the proportions of 84 per cent., and 86 per cent, respectively. That is what an Australian Country party Treasurer did to our credit abroad, and a Labour government had to clear up the mess so created. It is usual for the members of the Government to say that we are to-day enjoying what they are pleased to call unprecedented prosperity. They say that the economy of the country is healthy, that costs have flattened out and that we are on the threshold of great development.
However, perhaps I can direct attention to the words of the .Minister .for National Development (Senator Spooner), spoken on the 4th June last year. He said -
We are not living in normal economic conditions to-day: we are living through an inflationary period in which inflation has been feeding inflation.
That is the truth. The position was so bacl a couple of years ago that the Treasurer brought in what the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) called his “ horror “ budget. To-day the Treasurer poses before us as the saviour of Australia’s finances. He says, “I did the job of conquering inflation “. However, when he brought in his “ horror “ budget he was suffering from such an inferiority con 11)lex that he announced, according to the press of October, 1951, his real feelings. He said -
Nobody is happy about tin: budget: it was not intended to make anybody giggle.
It certainly did not make anybody giggle ; in fact it hurt hundreds of thousands of decent Australians. All his subsequent protestations that the inflation hurd] ihas been jumped, and that we are iki longer in the throes of inflation, wore completely debunked by the judgment of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in what has been called the margins case. In that judgment the court said that it found that the workers had a prima, facie case for an increase of wages, and then said that it could not grant the increase because of the state of unbalance of the economy. That judgment cuts right across the propaganda line of this Government. The Government will have great difficulty therefore in convincing the people that it has properly treated marginal workers, or safeguarded the interests of the mass of the people. Marginal workers are for the most part white collar workers - the middle income earners - and they will swing their votes behind the party that will do something to help them. They will do that because it is still as true as it was when Ben Chifley originated the homely phrase, that the most sensitive part of the human anatomy is the hip pocket nerve. The people are justified in deciding the coming general election on bread-and-butter issues. Indeed, they are the issues that count. When the Government parties were in opposition they used to take us to task because they said that we were not reducing taxation quickly enough, or to a great enough degree. They promised to reduce taxation still further, and they promised, in that delightful dialectical legacy of the 1949 general election campaign, to put value back into the £1. When they assumed power they did not reduce taxation; they increased it from £504,000,000 a year ‘to £1,000,000,000 a year. Later they reduced it by £200,000,000, but it still remains higher by more than £200,000,000 than it was when Labour left office. In 1948, when the Treasurer was leading the Australian Country party, he inveighed against us on the matter of sales taxation. I have selected some of .the morsels that he handed out to the parliament of that day. On the 20th October, 1948. he said-
Is there any parent who would like his child to grow up through a toyless :ind partyless childhood, or without some indulgence in sweets or ice cream?
When the right honorable gentleman became Treasurer he imposed a heavier sales tax on ice cream than was ever imposed before. The sales tax on ice cream to-day is higher than when the Australian Labour party was in office. The Government retains a tax on ice cream because the Treasurer regards ice cream for children as a luxury and in the same category as fur coats and diamonds. The Treasurer, speaking of his predecessor in office, ako said -
The Treasurer would surely not regard smoking as a luxury. If ever he subscribed to the view that it should be dispensed with, he would have more strikes on his hand than he could manage.
The Treasurer, in his “ horror “ budget, also increased the excise on tobacco, cigars and cigarettes to such an extent that I understand that to-day it costs a man as much for four packets of cigarettes as it cost him for five packets when the Australian Labour party was in office. The right honorable gentleman increased the excise on beer from 4s. 7d. a gallon to 7s. 2d. a gallon, with the result that every time a person buys a pot of beer or a bottle of beer or a pint of beer he pays half of its value in excise. If I may put it another way, every time a person in any part of Australia to-day has a pot of beer he “shouts “ for the Treasurer. That is this
Government’s method of raising “ finance “, but it does not commend itself to the Australian people. It is completely wrong in principle and throws on those least able to bear it an undue share of the responsibility of maintaining the finances of Australia.
The burden of indirect taxation, particularly that of sales tax, is very heavy indeed on the married man with big family responsibilities. The Government expects to get a lot of credit and a lot of donations to its party funds because in the last budget it remitted £118,000,000 in taxation. But little or none of that relief went to the ordinary people. Of that remission, £20,000,000 went to public and private companies. That amount represents only one-half of 1 per cent, of their annual turnover, and as a result no reduction of prices was made. The remission of taxation to those in the higher grades was much more substantial than that to the people in the lower grades. Of that £118,000,000 hand-back, a single man on a basic wage of approximately £614 received the sum of £3 12s. a year. A married man with a wife and five children received as his benefit from that so-called prosperity budget the magnificent sum of 18s. a year, enough to sole one pair of boots. The Government will not get any votes or thanks from the ordinary people for that fact.
Much can be said in relation to margins and many other things that have happened in recent times. All I wish to say in that respect is that, when the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in September last year handed down its judgment freezing the quarterly cost of living adjustments, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made a statement in which he said that he found that the’ reasons given by the court were entirely convincing. Of course he would. He is the representative of big business in this House. Those who wanted to freeze the basic wage workers’ quarterly cost of living adjustments were trying to throw on the workers the responsibility of rehabilitating the economy which was wrecked by the measures adopted by this Government. The Prime Minister smugly, and with complacency and great self-satisfaction, literally “ licked his chops “ and naturally said, “ I find the reasons entirely convincing “. There was a silence as deep as the silence of Dean Maitland when the court handed down its “ freeze “ of marginal increases, because the Government knew that those affected in that area of workers- were where the swinging voter resides. But the swinging voter has decided to swing against the Government this time, and largely upon that issue.
The retention of sales tax on commercial vehicles is placing a very heavy burden on the great masses of those people who are dependent upon road transport for their livelihood or for the goods that are carried thereby. The Government should have remitted or reduced sales tax on commercial vehicles. It also should have remitted sales tax on sporting equipment. Just imagine the attitude of the Government in regarding a child’s handball or cricket bat or football, or even skiing equipment, as a luxury! Those articles were once taxed at 50 per cent. To-day they are taxed at 16f per cent, but they should not be taxed at all in a healthy country like this, where we ought to encourage our people to engage in outdoor sport. I remind the Treasurer that when the Australian Labour party was in office it never increased sales tax beyond 25 per cent., even at the worst stages of the war. It actually reduced the tax. to 20 per cent., and even down to 12-^ per cent., with the general rate at 8i per cent, when it went out of office. When this Government came into office it increased income tax and sales tax and asked the people to bear burdens that they should never have been asked to bear.
The question of housing is of vital importance to the Australian people. In that regard this Government has a sorry record. If one thing is needed in Australia, it is houses for our people. There is a backlag of 300,000 houses, a legacy from the depression years and the last war. If Australia bad acted as wisely as did Canada, it would have continued to build houses during World War II., but perhaps our responsibility was somewhat different and somewhat greater in certain respects. Not only does that backlag exist, but also the responsibility of building 80,000 houses a year for newly married couples and in order to replace houses that have become sub-standard. However, this Government is providing finance to the States to enable them to build only 70,000 houses a year. Man needs, basically, three things in life in order to be happy; he needs food, clothing and shelter. If he is given the best basic wage in the world that will enable him to buy food and clothing, but is not given a house, he is left an unhappy social being. There are hundreds of thousands of unhappy social beings in Australia to-day. When the co-operative. building societies ask the private banks for accommodation, they are met with a curt refusal. Even the State savings banks and the rural banks do very little. Only the Commonwealth Bank really helps. The Commonwealth Bank is under a board of directors who represent big business, and it does not do all it ought to do. The files of the Commonwealth Bank contain applications for £26,000,000 worth of homes, but those applications are not being considered. The bank board has stated that there is no money. If money can be found in wartime for lots of things, it certainly can be found in peace-time to provide houses1 for people. To help people to build homes is a good defence investment, because it does assist in the populating of Australia with happy people. The extraordinary thing is that the Commonwealth Bank will lend money to its employees at 3 per cent, interest, but a person who is not a bank employee, if he can get the accommodation, has to pay 4£ per cent, interest for it. The private trading banks treat their employees even better than the Commonwealth Bank treats its employees in relation to housing loans. I know the economists will denounce my view, but I think that if any bank can provide money at low rates of interest for its own employees, money should be provided at a low rate of interest for every person in the community who needs such accommodation. There can be no silvertails inthis nation. There can be no people enjoying special favours because we are all members of the one nation and ourneeds generally are similar. For war service homes, this Government is providing so little money that men who lodge applications to-day are told that they will have to wait for eighteen months before their claims can be considered. One of my electors informed, me that when he lodged an application for a war service home on the 1st September, 1953, he was officially advised that it was anticipated that his application would be considered about January, or February, J 955.
– He is lucky.
– He has to be lucky to get in at all. I know what Government supporters will do during the approaching general election campaign. They will talk about socialism. Once more, they will beat the phantom of socialism to death. Once more, they will say as the Treasurer - ^Australia’s self-styled most unpopular Treasurer - said in 1949 -
If the socialists are defeated, rates of taxation, both direct and indirect, can and will hu steadily reduced.
The Government has not reduced taxes; it has increased the tax burden on the people. I cite that quotation from the policy-speech that the Treasurer made in 1949 as- an introduction to the following quotation : -
We call upon every law-abiding citizen to vote for Liberal candidates to-day, so that we may be in no danger in future of the anarchy which lies concealed in. every plank of the socialist platform.
One could almost hear the Prime Minister making that statement in 1949 and the Treasurer making it in 1951; but I have taken that quotation from a leading article that was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 13th April, 1910, just 44 years ago. Government supporters have been preaching the same story all through the years; but, in 1910, the people of Australia turned a deaf ear to the warning which the Sydney Morning Herald of that day uttered and they elected the Fisher Government, which was the first Labour Government to have complete control of both Houses of the Parliament. Australians, to-day, think well of the Fisher Government. Fisher was one of the great Prime Ministers in Australian history. ‘ The measures that the Fisher Government put on the statutebook, the laws which it passed, were of such a monumental nature that no tory has since dared to lay sacrilegious hands upon them, except in respect of a few provisons, of the Commonwealth Bank Act. These jeremiads were preached in the days before the Scullin Government was elected, and in. the days before the Curtin Government came to power. They were hurled at the Chifley Government in 1 946, and they will be hurled at the leader of the Australian Labour party who will become the leader of the Evatt Government after the 29th May this year. Government supporters rely solely upon slogans, catch-cries and persiflage. Anything they say lacks either literary merit or philosophical worth. All their speeches are impregnated with an arrogant conservatism which aims to create the impression that they are the successors of the Stuart kings, that they govern by some divine right, and that when the real representatives of the people take office the country is in danger. There has never been anything anarchistic in the Labour party’s policy, but there are no people more anxious to use the socialism which they sometimes decry and claim is inherent in Labour’s pledge or platform than are the members of the Australian Country party. They are the people who go to the Commonwealth Bank to get the advantage of low rates of interest and to have their marketing pools financed. Those people never go to the private trading banks because they believe that those banks would charge them too much. Sometimes those people want socialism; sometimes they oppose it. I have great respect for people who are honest in their convictions. I have more respect for the Liberals on that account than I have for members of the Australian Country party because if ever there were people who do not act according to their protestations as a matter of principle it is the members of the Australian Country party.
I had hoped to say something about the Japanese danger to the north of Australia, that is the attempt by this Government to use Japanese crews and technicians in the hydrographic survey of our northern waters, but time does not permit me to do so. However, I say that the Japanese were to be used by this Government for that purpose, but the Government took fright and ran away. I am convinced that arrangements were made for that purpose. The Prime Minister, when fifteen members of his party - fifteen of those honorable members opposite for whom the bell should toll on the 29th May - burst into his room, advised them to be adult in outlook, to grow up, to become statesmen - if that were possible - instead of being politicians. He indicated in every way that he did not intend to interfere with the original plan ; but the Government has since retreated on that question just as it has retreated on the question of Japanese disarmament and the flooding of this country with Japanese goods. Any one who criticizes the Japanese to-day is told that he hates the Japanese; but the distrust or fear of Japanese re-armament does not indicate hatred of anybody. Australians are entitled, just as the Japanese themselves are entitled, to take whatever measures they believe to be desirable for the protection of their country and of its interests. I was interested to note that on the very day when the question of Japanese participation in the northern waters survey was under fierce attack in the press of Australia, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) wrote an article that was published in a Brisbane newspaper. He did not write about the Japanese question, but he penned a learned treatise on flying saucers, and seemingly just to indicate that that was really a terrestial and not a celestial subject, he did not sign the article as Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, but pointed the bone at Russia and signed it as Minister for External Affairs.
This Government has been fatuous and futile. It has failed the Australian people by every test that can be applied to it. It is idle for the Minister for the Navy (Mr. McMahon) to say that the only danger to Australia will come from submarines and mines. He said that we have aeroplanes that can reach Darwin within a few hours. Darwin can be blasted within a few minutes as it was blasted in the recent war. Nobody believes that the Minister for the Navy, who is also Minister for Air, has properly discharged his responsibilities. The Government must be as desperate as the wind, because I have in my hand a document which is being roneoed in the office of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt)-
– How did the honorable member get it ?
– Because I have a good security service. This document is being roneoed and is being circulated in government time and through the employment of government servants, but it is just blatant propaganda for the Liberal party. Government supporters have not only abused their trust to the people ; they have also misused the Australian taxpayers’ money in their desperate endeavours to rehabilitate themselves with the people. Yesterday, we saw honorable members opposite - those in doubtful seats - pathetically asking questions of Ministers in the hope that something that might be said would save them from political extinction. We have reached the dying hours of this Parliament. For some it will be Tosti’s “ Good-bye “ - good-bye for ever - and for some it will be au r avoir, a temporary farewell; but I believe that the sane, common sense of the people will assert itself on the 29th May next and that after that date democratic legislation will be placed on the statutebook by the Australian Labour party, translating into legislative form more of the idealism, which permeates the platform and policy of the great Australian Labour movement.
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, has said that these are the dying hours of the Twentieth Parliament. Within the next fortnight, honorable members will disperse to all parts of the Commonwealth to fight their electoral battles. I expected that the honorable member for Melbourne would take advantage of this debate to tell the Parliament and the people what the Labour party would do if it were elected to office on the 29th May next, and offer some constructive criticism of the present Government. Instead of doing so, the honorable gentleman launched a tirade of abuse against the Government. He described it as fatuous and futile. He made reference to the Fisher Government in 1910, to the loan market in London when the
Bruce-Page Government was in office, and to many other unrelated matters, but he carefully avoided any reference to the plans of the Labour party if it should take the reins of office later this year. The honorable gentleman’s speech is, perhaps, the most serious indictment of the Labour party’s lack of policy that we have known for a considerable time.
Of course, the honorable member for Melbourne is the most disappointed man in this Parliament. 3’ust prior to the general election in 1949, and again just prior to the general election in 1951, he appeared in the role of a prophet of gloom, lie prophesied national disaster if the Liberal party and the Australian Country party were elected to office, and he urged the electors to reject us. Unfortunately for him, the people did not believe his prophecies. At various times, he has done his utmost to create a psychology of fear and to’ instil panic in the minds of people, in order ito gain support for the Labour party. The honorable member for Melbourne is bitterly disappointed because the Menzios Government has been so successful. This Government has restored the economy to a condition of stability, and enjoys the confidence of the people. This Government has placed the working man, the business man, the farmer and every other section of the community in a condition of stability never before experienced by them. .1 find it convenient, at this juncture, to rend a passage from a report published in the Melbourne Argus on the 12th May. 1952, under a large headline, as follows : -
DEPRESSION Coming, says Mb. Calwell.
Australia was heading straight into a depression, Mr. Calwell. Deputy Federal Opposition Leader, said yesterday.
He forecast that few surplus vacant positions would be registered by the end of the winter.
Large amounts would have to be paid out of the National Welfare Fund for unemployment benefits, said the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
The honorable gentleman figured at that time in the role of a prophet of disaster. I recall that during the general election campaign in 1949 he said that the Liberal party and the Australian Country party, if returned to office, would establish a pool of unemployed and that the country would experience the greatest distress it had ever known. Unfortunately for the honorable member, none of his forecasts has come true. I hope that he is not a betting man, because he would lose heavily if he were to follow his own tips.
Last May, the honorable member forecast that Australia would suffer an economic depression, and that many people would be unemployed during the winter of 1952. What are the facts? Employment is at a higher level to-day than at any previous time in our history. The Commonwealth Employment Service constantly advertises vacant positions. The man in the street does not need to be convinced by statistics that a job awaits him round the corner almost anywhere in town or country. He knows that he enjoys greater security in employment than at any previous time. That position is due, to a large degree, to the actions of this Government. Two years ago, Australia faced an economic and ‘financial crisis, and .this Government had to take many unpopular measures in order to restore economic stability. Drastic import restrictions and various economic controls had to be imposed, none of which was popular with the people and none of which was supported by the Labour party. Had those actions not been taken by this Government. Australia could not have achieved the condition of prosperity that it enjoys to-day. Therefore, we can justly claim that we “did it alone, and did it on our own “.
The effects of our policy are clearly revealed by statistics which I shall read to the House. For example, incomes in 1953-54, which, according to the forecast of the honorable member for Melbourne, was to be a year of depression, were £492,000,000 higher than those in 1950-51. Such an increase is not indicative of a depression. Savings bank deposits at the end of December last amounted to £974,000,000. Such deposits are principally the savings of what we may describe as the less wealthy members of the community. The increase of savings bank deposits last year, compared with the previous year, was £55,000,000. Yet the honorable member for Melbourne forecast that Australia was heading for a depression, that this Government would cause unemployment, and that many citizens would suffer hardship! The increase of savings bank deposits last year was a reflection of the prosperity of the less wealthy rather than the rich section of the community. The Labour party claims that the Government has undermined the confidence of subscribers to Commonwealth loans. The security loan which has just closed, was for £ 35,000,000, and it was over-subscribed by £15,000,000. Does a success of that kind indicate lack of confidence on the part of investors in government securities?
The honorable member for Melbourne also referred tohousing, which is a reasonable indicator of prosperity in the community. Approximately 3,200 more homes were started last year than in the preceding year. That increase shows that people have sufficient confidence to undertake the construction of homes, and, what is more, they have the finance required for that purpose. A fair indicator of the prosperity of the community is the ability to undertake the things that one desires to do. Probably, the registration of motor vehicles is as reasonable a barometer as any other of the prosperity of the community. The monthly registrations of motor vehicles, excluding defence vehicles, has doubled since 1949. More than twice as many vehicles are being registered now as there were when the Chifley Labour Government went out of office. Opposition members cannot claim, with any hope that they will be believed, that all those new registrations are made by the wealthy section of the community. The working farmer who requires a tractor must have the means to buy it. In 1949, when the Chifley Government went out of office, there were 96,000 tractors on farms throughout the Commonwealth. To-day, there are 175,000 tractors. All those facts demonstrate conclusively that in every section of industry, business and employment, the record of this Government is superb.
I shall now discuss various matters that affect the minds of the Australian people. The honorable member for Melbourne, in his long, ramblingspeech dealt with almostevery subject under the sun, with the exceptionof the policy of the Labourparty but, in the final analysis, thebread-winner, the housewife and every other individual in the community have two or three things paramount in their minds. The first is national defence. People desire to be assured that they will be able to continue to enjoy life, retain their possessions and jobs and have a peaceful existence in a warlike world. They also demand economic security. They wish to feel that their jobs are secure. A businessman wants assurance regarding continuity of trade. A farmer desires to be able to secure labour to sow and harvest his crops, and to havea remunerative market for them. Matters of that kind are paramount in the minds of the Australian people. The Government, in its reply, can assure them that we have built the defences of the country from practically nothing in 1949 to a very fine state to-day. Probably the best test of that statement is provided by the national service training scheme. Even if not one of the trainees has to shoulder a rifle in anger, the training scheme is worthwhile, because it is making fine citizens of the lads. It develops them physically, and disciplines their minds, so that they will become better citizens. The Navy, Army and Air Force have been strengthened substantially.
Beyond those considerations, this Government has been able to succeed where the preceding Labour Government failed. Australia is not far distant fromIndoChina, Thailand, Burma, Malaya, Indonesia and New Guinea. We are 9,000,000 people, and our resources are extremely limited. We can hold this country only if we have powerful allies. The preceding Labour Government failed with every approach it made for an alliance with the United States of America. The Anzus pact, which the Menzies Government has achieved, is an outstanding accomplishment in respect of our security, because the United States of America is committed to come toour aid in theevent of aggressionagainst Australia. That alone would justify the four years of office of this Government.
When we consider the subjectofeco- nomicsecurity,thenumberofjobsavail- ableandthewagespaidtotheworkers, wefindthatto-daythereismoreemploy- mentinthecountrythaneverbefore. Fewerpeopleareoutofjobs,andmore peopleareearningmoremoneythanat anyothertimeinAustralia’shistory.
If that is not a fair test of good government, those who apply the tests are hard to satisfy indeed. Finally, I come to the subject of social security. Members of the Labour party declared during the 1049 election campaign that, the present Government parties, if elected to office, would be the last to give any thought to the welfare of age pensioners, the unemployed, sufferers from tuberculosis and other victims of misfortune. But here again thi3 Government has a fine and proud record. I have no doubt that almost every member of the Opposition to-day is insured under the medical benefits scheme that the Government has instituted.
– We were insured long before this Government was formed. The miners have had health insurance for 50 years.
– But they are insured under very much better conditions now. Greater benefits are available to them. I have said sufficient to prove that this Government deserves well of the people and to demonstrate that the speech by the honorable member for Melbourne contained nothing that ought to influence a single vote in Australia. Undoubtedly his attack on the Government will influence many electors, but, at the same time, it was bereft of facts and substantial material upon which intelligent people should base their decisions. The truth is that there is a high level of prosperity throughout the country, that hundreds of thousands of Australians are benefiting from social services, and that a high degree of economic security has been provided for the people. This record justifies the policies of the Menzies-Fadden Administration and entitles it to the high regard of the people during the next two months.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) remarked that this debate was in the nature of a post-mortem inquiry on the Government. We expected that his forceful and damaging speech would bring forth in reply one of the customary speeches of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Anthony). Instead, the Postmaster-General’s effort degenerated into an apology, and a very poor apology indeed, for the sins of omission and commission of this Government. The honorable gentleman claimed that the Government had conferred great benefits upon the people, but, he ended his speech very lamely with a refererence to increased social services and improved health standards. The honorable gentleman usually delivers a vigorous, attacking speech if he has a good case to presentToday his speech was lame and apologetic, lacking conviction and force, and entirely bereft of logic.
The main charge made by the Opposition against the Government is that it has failed completely to honour the promises that its members and supporters made to the electors in 1949. It has even failed to carry out the modified policies that it submitted to the people during the election campaign of 1951. In fact, it has made no effort to carry out any of the major undertakings that it solemnly gave to the people. In 1949, Australia’s economy was the envy of the civilized world. Visitors from other countries, and Australian businessmen returning from overseas, at that time paid tributes to it as the soundest national economy that had emerged from World War II. The facts alone provided eloquent testimony to the strength of the economy under Labour’s regime without comment from us. What is the situation to-day? Our economy trembles precariously upon the brink of disaster. It is far less secure than it was at any stage during Labour’s post-war term of office.
The Postmaster-General remarked that our farmers needed an assured and lucrative field in which to sell the products of their labours. Let us consider the position of our primary producers to-day and compare it with their position under the Labour Government. In 1949, the Labour Government had negotiated, through the efforts of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) as Minister for Commerce and Agiculture, an international wheat agreement that offered security to the growers over a period of four years. That agreement provided .a guaranteed overseas market at agreed prices for at least 88,000,000 bushels of Australian wheat in each of four years.
The Labour Government realized that the situation might .become difficult in the future, and therefore it planned in advance to prevent a recurrence of debacles that the farming community had previously experienced. The honorable member for Lalor, supported by his colleagues, hammered out an international wheat agreement that gave to Australian growers an assurance of security for at least four years. But now, because of the mismanagement of this Government, for which such exaggerated claims have been made, Australia’s annual quota under the current International Wheat Agreement has been reduced to a mere 47,000,000 bushels, and the term of operation of the agreement has been shortened to three years.
That is only one ground upon which the Government stands condemned by the facts. However, the Postmaster-General had the temerity to say that the Government deserved well of the people on the score of its record in every avenue of activity. As the honorable member for Melbourne pointed out earlier, there never was a more exaggerated list of promises than that submitted to the electors by the present Government parties in 1949. We and the people of Australia were told that value had ebbed out of the Australian £1 during Labour’s regime. The people were assured that the anti-Labour parties, if elected to office, would bring back the pre-war Liberal £1. As the election campaign progressed, we could almost hear the jingling of the coins as the shillings dropped back into the £1. But what happened after the Government was elected? The basic wage at that time was about £6 a week. It is over £12 a week to-day. Only £1 of the increase was added by an award of a Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The remaining £5 was added by quarterly cost of living adjustments of the basic wage. This simply means that, over a period of four and a half years under this Government, the inescapable costs of the man with a’ wife and an average family have increased by over £5 a week. So that is how this Government has treated its great promise to put value back into the £1 ! It has allowed, encouraged, and even deliberately brought about inflation, which could have been prevented . by a continuance of sane government.
The Government has not even attempted to honour its promises to the people. In 1949, the present Government parties practised the most cruel deception ever perpetrated upon any people who relied upon the words of responsible leaders. Fresh undertakings will be given during the forthcoming election campaign, but the people should be warned by the conflict of policies that has characterized the administration of the present Government. They should realize from bitter experience that there is every probability that the Government, if it regains power, will forget its promises to them and embark upon a programme of mismanagement and confusion. In other words, the Government parties promise all sorts of benefits, but always reverse their attitude as soon as they gain power. The .PostmasterGeneral claimed a magnificent record in the field of social services for the present Government. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Townley) visited Western Australia recently and made a remarkable statement on the subject of pensions. If parliamentary responsibility has any meaning, we are justified in presuming that the honorable gentleman spoke for the Government. He met aged pensioners in Western Australia, a fact for which I give him credit, but he told them that it had never been intended that the age pension should provide sufficient for a pensioner to live upon.
– Of course I did not say that.
– That was reported in the newspapers, and the reports have not been denied. The Minister said, according to the press, that the pension was never intended to provide sufficient for an aged pensioner to live upon. The reported statement was a repetition of a statement that I heard made in this chamber by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) . If the Minister for Social Services now says that the pension is intended to be sufficient to support a pensioner-
– I have not said that, either.
– The honorable gentleman cannot have it both ways. If he does not claim-
– I have not claimed anything, except that the honorable member’s statement was wrong.
– The Minister is trying to sidetrack me. According to the newspapers, he said that the pension was never intended to be sufficient for an aged pensioner to live upon. If he does not take that view, he must admit at once that the pension to-day is hopelessly inadequate to meet the needs of the pensioners.
– It is nearly twice as much as they received when the Labour Government was in office.
– When the Labour Government left office in 1949, the age pension represented approximately 39 per cent, of the basic wage.
– We are not talking about wages.
– The honorable gentleman is too obtuse to connect the age pension with the basic wage. I ask bini to consider the cost of living as reflected by the index figures upon which the basic wage is fixed. The pension in 1949, when the Chifley Labour Government left office, represented 39 per cent, of the basic wage at that time. Under this Government it represents less than 30 per cent, of the basic wage. If any more graphic demonstration of the inability of pensioners to live on their pensions is required, it has been provided by the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer), who asked to-day whether the Minister in charge of the House would see whether the Joint Coal Board could give pensioners some coal for the winter months, which, we presume, they are unable to afford to buy because of the miserable pensions they receive. So whatever arguments may be used by the Minister, and whatever denials he may make, we have the evidence of the plea of the honorable member for Bennelong, who is certainly a comfortably placed, citizen, for a little coal for the pensioners, so that they might not starve or freeze in the coming winter.
– Why would they starve without coal?
– The Minister is apparently not bright enough to know that if the pensioners have to buy coal to keep themselves warm in winter then they will have to do without something else, most likely food that they would otherwise be able to buy. The Government is not only incompetent, but is also utterly oblivious to the situation on its doorstep. The pensioners are at present infinitely worse off than they were in 1949.
– Rubbish !
– The Minister knows well that the Junior Chambers of Commerce in Western Australia last winter organized their members in order to provide, not luxury, but some tiny comfort for the pensioners in that State. Western Australia is not highly industrialized, like the eastern States. Its production is not so great as is theirs, but fellowship between individuals is much more common. The Perth Daily News, surveying the scene, pointed out that pensioners were starving. The Minister does not realize the plight that the pensioners are in to-day. That plight alone condemns the Government to rejection by the people on the 2-9th May.
The Minister went on to say that the Government deserved to be returned to office because of its action in obtaining support from the United States of America. He .said that the Labour Government could not achieve accord with the United States of America, but that this Government had been able to achieve it. That statement comes strangely from a member of a go’vernment that is the inheritor of the ill-starred coalition government that let this country down in 1941. Repetition of- the circumstances of that great betrayal would be too monotonous. That government was elected in 1940, with the present Prime Minister at its head, but in a relatively short time the present Minister for Health had taken his place, and then his place was taken by the present Treasurer. Those changes were bad enough in themselves, because they’ were made without a vote of the House having been taken on them. No accord was reached with America at that time. Then we had the final and ignominious collapse of the Fadden Government and the election of the Labour Government. The Curtin Labour Government achieved accord with America at a time when the position in this part of the world was dire. It was criticized severely by honorable members opposite for having done so, although it had taken its action at a time when Australia’s future depended not only on accord with the United States of America, but also on instantaneous help from that country. Compared with that situation, when Australia was facing its greatest peril, the agreement with the United States of America, to which the Minister has referred in suchglowing terms is not such a great achievement.
The United States of America, New Zealand and Australia have subscribed to the Anzus pact, which provides that if any of the signatories is attacked the other signatories shall immediately consult with a view to deciding the course of action they shall pursue. That is the agreement to which the honorable gentleman has referred so glowingly, and from which he derives such great comfort and expects the Government to win such wonderful electoral support. We on this side of the House welcome closer liaison with the great United States of America, the leader of the modern world. We believe that that nation has assumed the mantle of leadership of the world very rapidly, although it did not have behind it the generations of experience that the British nation had behind it to enable it te develop the qualities of leadership that are necessary for the job. The United States of America took that job over without the long years of experience that alone bring maturity. But to claim the Anzus pact as a tremendous benefit is wholly to misunderstand the situation and, indeed, to deceive the people grievously.
The honorable gentleman referred to the Government’s alleged achievements in regard to hospital benefits. Let honorable members talk to almost anybody in Australia, including hospital patients or their relatives who are struggling to meet tremendous hospital bills, which are usually at a minimum of 20 guineas a week, and they will find out the true position. As the Perth Sunday Times pointed out recently, hospital beds are vacant because people cannot afford the cost of hospital treatment. A case is pending before the Western Australian Arbitration Court in which nurses employed in Western Australian hospitals are claiming higher wages. The answer made by the hospital managements to the claim is that the hospital’s cannot afford to pay any higher wage to nurses that may be. awarded by the court. The advocate for the hospitals said that people were getting treatment in their homes because they could no longer afford the exorbitant cost of hospital treatment. There is the answer to the Minister’s claim that the Government deserves to be re-elected on the 29th May because of its hospital policy. Indeed, one of the blackest spots in the dark record of the Government is its maladministration of the problem of hospitals and hospitalization. As I said earlier, the Government inherited a situation upon which it could have built. It inherited a plan that had been carried through by Labour governments during the war and post-war years. The war naturally required a tremendous concentration upon expenditure on the fighting forces, but when peace came the Labour Government deliberately made its plans, from which this Government has benefited to a marked degree. Indeed, it is true that the only real achievements of the Government are based on plans laid, and agreements entered into, by the Curtin and Chifley Governments. For instance, we hear a great deal from the . Government about the guided missiles project, and the work that is being done in connexion with it in the heart of Australia’s hinterland. The Government is taking credit for work done as a result of an agreement entered into, and work begun, in the time of a Labour government. We are told about the great defence organization that has been established in Australia. The- fact is, however, that there is grave disquiet on all sides about our defence. We do not criticize the defence organization in great detail, or to any great degree, because, to begin with, the facts about it are not very explicitly stated. We accept that as a necessary condition. But there is grave disquiet about the type, and the state of efficiency, of the military organization developed under this Government. There is every evidence that the Government wishes to expend a certain sum of money. It sets out to expend that sum, and then we usually find, in the last months of the financial year, that there is a frantic rush to expend it in toto in order to ensure that the Government’s defence organization will look good on paper. That may be right or it may be wrong, but all the signs lead one to believe that there is need for a complete overhaul of our defence organization, as there is in connexion with every other walk of life in which this Government has meddled.
The Government and the Minister ask, “ What is Labour’s answer to the problems of the day ? “. The answer is easy because the remedies the problems call for are so obvious. In the first place, the cost of living presses harshly upon the people. It presses most harshly upon those who have families to rear, and it presses with acute severity on people with fixed incomes, such as pensioners and superannuitants. It presents a real and continuing problem to businessmen and farmers. Farmers could face a future of lowered wheat prices with an easier mind if it were not that costs were so excessively high, a position that has been brought about by the present Government. That is the first problem that a conscientious government should tackle. No doubt the Government will say again, as it said in 1949, “ We shall put value back into the £1 “. It cannot truly be said that the Government has failed to put value back into the £1, because the simple fact is that it has not even made the attempt to do so. After having been elected to office in 1949 with a handsome majority, the Government, it would seem, with deliberate intent, used every device to push prices higher. Against the wishes of the people and against all economic sense, it forced a sharp and repressive increase of interest rates. That increase, as we warned the Government, bore heavily on vulnerable sections of the people. Not content with that, the Government ruined the loan market, as it knew it would. Every intelligent office boy in the Treasury could have told the Government what would happen. Then the Government decided to cure inflation by having a surplus of £113,500,000, almost entirely obtained from indirect taxes.
In order to lower prices the benighted Treasurer who controls this country’s finances decided that prices should be increased. No doubt he hoped that the situation would explode and sanity would come out of the resultant chaos. Many instances can, and will be. given of the Government’s vacillations and contradictions. The Treasurer said that land values, as indicated by land tax returns, were unreal, that land was fixed in price at its pre-war value, and that land-owners ought to pay tax on thi.’ current values. We warned him of the failure that lay in store for him because we thought that land values were artificial. About three months later he introduced substantial alterations to the land tax, but when he presented his next budget twelve months later he decided that there was no place for land tax at all. He abolished the tax which he had amended so grandly twelve months before. So it has been with every budget presented by him. The Government imposes a tax, and then removes it. It seems to be a matter of the Government’s saying, “ Here is our policy. If you do not like it we do not mind changing it for you “. The problem is that the Government changes its policy so frequently that the people are confused by its antics, and those of the Treasurer and the Prime Minister. What is needed so urgently at present is a government that can take a strong hold of the existing situation.
Prosperity in Australia can be real and continuing, but only if it is planned with an eye for the possibilities of the world wheat, wool, base metal and other markets. Having realized what the situation is any conscientious government must plan for stability despite the rise and fall in the demand for our basicproducts in other parts of the world. Our housing situation requires vigorous action in order to provide an adequate number of houses for our present population and its future increase. It is easy to claim that large numbers of houses have been built, but included in the figures are the shacks in Western Australia and other States in which are housed people who have been evicted, for one reason or another, from their previous homes.
The waiting list for houses is now longer than it has ever been before. The main source of dissatisfaction among immigrants is that they cannot get houses, unless they buy them at exorbitant prices and evict their occupants into the street. The Minister said that housing is a State responsibility. I say that it is a prime responsibility of the Commonwealth. The Australian Government can shoulder the function of housing the people, and can raise abundant money to do so if it adopts an ordinary sane approach to the problems of to-day. However, instead of sanity in approach we face the defeatist attitude of the Treasurer (Sir ‘Arthur Fadden), and the oratory that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) uses to describe our situation and the need for a solution. Neither of the right honorable gentlemen can tell us the solution. The people were grievously and cruelly deceived in the general election campaign of 1949. At that time the country faced an uncertain period, but to-day the Labour party can,- with complete honesty, warn the Australian people that the next three years may bring a tremendous fall in wheat prices, and a settling back in the prices of wool and basic metals. The people have seen this Government fumble and wreck everything that it has handled, and my advice to them is that on the 29th May they will return it at their peril.
.- The speech just delivered by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke) is probably the best speech that he could have delivered if he were endeavouring to be defeated at the coming general election. Indeed, P1 should be surprised if C found that his speech held the slightest interest for the people that he will call upon to vote for him on the 29th May. The honorable member traversed the whole economic structure of the country, but, in conformity with Labour’s attitude during the last four and a half years, he did not give the slightest indication of the action that the Labour party would have taken if it had been in office. He astonished me by saying that in 1949 Australia’ was in an uncertain position, because I may now remind him of the causes for that uncertainty in 1949. The fact is that the last Labour Government aroused that uncertainty among the people, particularly because of its policy towards bank nationalization, and the uncertainty then put that Government out of office. The people believed at that time that all their savings were likely to be grabbed by an unscrupulous Labour government, and they took effective action to keep their money safe. I remind honorable members opposite that although they have spoken at length about the general election of 1949, they have said nothing about the general election of 1951 when the people again decided that they did not want a Labour government. I believe that the reasons that actuated the people on those two occasions will cause them again to return this Government to power at the next general election.
The honorable member for Perth referred to the efficiency of Australia’s military organization. It seems to me to be completely stupid for an honorable member of the Opposition to criticize our military efficiency, because it was the Labour party’s previous leader, the late Mr. Chifley, who refused to take part in this Government’s voluntary recruiting campaign to build up the Citizen Military Forces. Moreover, Mr. Chifley would have nothing to do with this Government’s scheme of national service training. I suggest that Labour’s attitude at that time was totally opposed to the opinion of the people, because there is no doubt that the people wanted this Government to proceed with its defence preparations, to strengthen the Citizen Military Forces and to institute the national service training scheme. The approval and the enthusiasm of the public for this Government’s defence organization has amply justified our actions.
This is an appropriate time for us to consider the facts of our general political and economic situation. I am not concerned with airy statements from the Opposition; I am concerned only with the real facts of our position. Certain of the facts which I shall mention will influence the people to decide whether this Government has done a good- job for Australia, whether the country is now in a prosperous state arid whether, if this Government is returned to power, that prosperity is likely to continue. In 1948-49, the last year of Labour administration, our exports were valued at £542,000,000. Last year they were valued at £850,000,000, and for the seven months of this financial year to the end of January they were valued at no less than £493,000,000.
– Is the honorable member referring to the volume of our exports or their value in money?
– I am dealing with value, and I am quoting from official statistics. Because this Government exercised a reasonable control over imports, we have a particularly favorable trade balance at the present time. We have been criticized by honorable members opposite about our import restrictions, and yet when that policy was introduced it was evident that if control had not been exercised by the Government many of our secondary industries would have been in serious jeopardy. It is only because the Government has imposed import restrictions that Ave have been able to maintain a reasonable flow of secondary production. Last year our favorable trade balance Was £184,000,000 - and I do not care whether the Opposition wants to talk about quantities or money values, because whichever way our trade is looked at we perceive that Australia is on a sound financial footing. When Labour relinquished office in 1949, we could not get sufficient black coal in Australia to generate the electricity that we needed. Tear after year there were continual electricity black-outs, particularly in Sydney, and people did not know from one hour to the next when they would be deprived of light and power. There are no black-outs to-day because there is no shortage of black coal. But the black coal supplies have been improved solely through the efforts of this Government. Again, the production of ingot steel is magnificent compared with the production when Labour held office.
This year Australia will manufacture many more bricks than were manufactured in 1949, and the same satisfactory position obtains in roofing and other building materials. This year Australia is producing a much ‘greater quantity of - cotton textiles than it produced- during the last year that Labour was in office. The Labour party tells us that there is no prosperity in the community. Perhaps this is rather a strange place to mention it, but 30,000 refrigerators a month are being manufactured in this country at the present time, as against 12,000 a month in 1949.
– Not enough.
– The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) says that that is not enough. If our present production of 30,000 refrigerators a month is not enough, how very short of refrigerators we must have been in 1949. One could go on detailing the increases of production in our secondary industry over the last four and a half years. Now this condition of health in our economy will continue because, although the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) can prove the fact more effectively than I. there is not the same disruption of industry to-day, as there was when the Labour Government was in power. I say that there is not one honorable member of the Opposition who can produce a figure relating to any industry to indicate that there has been greater disruption under this Government than there was under the Labour Government of 1949.
During the last twelve months there has been a very substantial increase of the number of persons employed in Australia. Between December, 1952. and December, 1953, 79,000 more persons became employed in our industries. Now let us consider the unemployment sitution between the 31st December. 1952, and the 26th March, 1954. At the end of December, (1952, there were 42,033 persons receiving the unemployment benefit. On the 26th March, 1954, there were only 8,970 recipients of unemployment benefit. The .unfilled vacancies between the two dates increased from 20.858 to 46,129, and applicants waiting for appointment decreased from 66,000 odd to about 28,000. If that is not an indication of a completely healthy economic condition, then I am unable to read statistics. I believe that the people appreciate these facts, and I know that very few persons ‘to-day approach honorable members, in their official capacity, to complain that they cannot get work… I suppose that probably nine out of ten of those who cannot get work to-day are unemployable.
In 1949 the average weekly wage was £8 9s. a week, but in September last the average weekly wage was £10 lis. .a week. I believe that most of us can remember a few years ago when the catch-cry of the Labour party was, “ Don’t elect the Liberal and. Country parties to government as they are wage-reduction parties “. If the wage increases here, mentioned had occurred during a Labour regime, we oan imagine how loudly the Opposition would have been telling the world what a wonderful thing Labour had done to increase average wages by about 100 per cent. I believe that when we talk about value in the £1, we have to take into consideration the relationship between the wages received and the cost of the goods that those wages have to purchase. That is the reason why all parties have supported our system of conciliation and arbitration. “We all believe that the court is the most effective and efficient body to make an adjustment between the level of costs and the level of wages. Indeed, the honorable member for Perth ‘mentioned that very matter. However, in 1932, as the Labour party will agree, a world-wide economic condition produced’ a great depression. Honorable members opposite will say that it was a world-wide condition because Labour was in power at that particular time, but they are not prepared to admit that inflationary conditions obtaining throughout the world over the last few years as did the depression in the late ‘twenties and early thirties were due to similar causes.
I believe that the House is entitled to judge the general prosperity of the community by looking at banking, statistics, [f honorable members look at bank deposits, they will find that in 1949 the total deposits in the trading banks, the Commonwealth Bank and the Commonwealth Savings Bank were approximately £1,554,000,000. ‘ In January last the deposits totalled approximately £2,435,000,000. 1 believe that those figure’s are a clear indication that people arc in a prosperous condition. A few moments ago I referred to the extra purchases of refrigerators - and refrigerators have not been reduced’ in price - but the total amount of deposits in the Commonwealth Savings Bank in Queensland in January was approximately £113,000,000, compared with £87,000,000 in 1949. I _ believe those figures are a complete justification of the statements that I have made. T appreciate that some of these things have not necessarily been brought about by the Government, so for a few minutes i should like to concentrate on those thing? that the Government has really done. 1 refer honorable members to the question of. housing. What has this Government done in relation to housing?
– The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) suggests that, this Government, has done nothing. If this Government has done nothing, what did the Chifley Government do? I shall give the House the figures. Advances by this Government to the States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement in a period of four years totalled approximately £115,000,000 and for war service homes in the same period approximately £110,000,000. In four years the Chifley Government - and 1 invite the honorable member for Hume to listen - advanced to the States under the Commonwealth, and State Housing Agreement approximately £56,000,000, or less than half of the amount advanced by this Government, and for war service homes approximately £32j000,000, or less than 30 per cent, of the amount made available by this. Government. If this Government has done nothing, I invite honorable members opposite to indicate what they think of their record.
Mr. Curtin interjecting,
– If the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) thinks that values have nothing to do with it, ‘.! invite honorable members to consider the total number of homes provided. Over the last three years 222,087 homes were completed and in the last three years of Labour government 127,449 homes were completed’, which is very little more than half of the total number built over the first three years during which this Government was in office. It is simply poppycock for honorable members opposite to say that, in relation to housing, this Government has a poor record. I do not think that the people of Australia believe that. 1 should like to cite figures in relation to another matter on which this Government is tackled. I refer to financial assistance that is given to the States. Chose honorable members who dome from. States which have Labour governments constantly hear references to this particular matter by Labour Premiers. In 1948-49 the amount that was given as tax reimbursements and special financial assistance to the States was £53,744,000. In 1953-54 this Government will grant a sum of £142,459,000. I invite honorable members to take note of these figures. I believe they justify the attention not only of members of this House but also of the community generally. I direct attention also to the item of Commonwealth aid for roads. In this year the amount allotted .is approximately £16,000,000, but in the last year of the Chifley Government it was approximately £9,000,000. The matter does not rest there, because over the years during which this Government has been in office it has made a remarkable contribution to developmental works in the States. In this financial year the Australian Government is providing approximately £95,000,000 so that the States may carry out a £200,000,000 works programme. Last year this Government found approximately £131,000,000 out of a total of £190,000,000 and in the year before approximately £152,000,000 out of a total of £227,000,000. How can honorable members opposite or their counterparts in State parliaments suggest that this Government has not done the decent thing by the people of Australia in assisting State governments?
I refer also1 to the subject of taxation, because I believe that this Government has carried out completely the promises that it made in relation to taxation relief for the public. In the first place, the Government completely abolished federal land tax. It also completely abolished the entertainment tax, which I think is worth, at the, very least, 2s. to 5s. a week for every family in the community. The
Australian Labour party cannot gainsay that that is of great value particularly to the people whom they claim to represent, but. whom I. do not believe they represent, in this Parliament. Last year the Government reduced taxation in nearly every form. It reduced sales tax and company tax. Although those concessions were great, I think that the greatest contribution made by this Government was in relation to taxation on personal income. A taxpayer with a dependent wife and’ two children on the £500 income level received a reduction of not less than 62 per cent, of his taxation. At the £600 level the reduction in taxation was 50 per cent., at the £S00. level the reduction was 40 per cent, and at. the £1,250 level the reduction was 26 per cent. I invite members of the Australian Labour party to indicate a budget in any particular year during which that party was in office which bears reasonable comparison with the reduction in taxation on personal income that was granted by this Government last year. It is not only by a reduction of the rate of income tax that a reduction of the actual tax paid is achieved. 1 suggest that, exactly the same result is achieved through the concessions that are given. When this Government came into office,, there was in operation a rebate system in relation to concessional deductions. That was a very iniquitous system which was produced by the man whom honorable members opposite claim to be one of the greatest Treasurers Australia has ever had.
I suggest that the rebate system was entirely wrong. A concessional deduction should have been regarded as a deduction, as it was throughout the first 40 years of Australian parliaments. This Government has restored concessional deductions to the real deduction basis, that is, a deduction from the gross income before the rate of tax is determined. The Government has also increased the allowance for a dependent wife. In 1952 it introduced and in 1953 increased an educational allowance for taxpayers. The Government has also increased the medical allowance and has cancelled the special tax on property income. I believe that, many people with very small incomes will benefit considerably by the removal of that special impost on property income.
In addition, the Government has given special consideration to primary producers in relation to depreciation, which enables them to write off over a five-year period certain of their assets which are related to the production of income.
One of the best things that the Government has done is in relation to a provision for aged people. When this Government came into office in 1949 it found that the aged people were taxed in the same way as any other person in the community. A person of seventeen or eighteen years of age who had an income of £170 or £180 a year paid tax. The aged person who received the same income also paid tax. This Government believed that that was inequitable to the aged people, so it provided that, when a man had reached G5 years of age and his wife had reached 60 years of age, they were not to pay tax until a certain point of income was reached. That provision was amended in 1953 to provide an exemption of £375 for a single person and £750 for a married couple. If the taxation programme of this Government over a period of four and a half years were examined, I believe that no honorable member in this House, and I am certain no member of the public, would feel that he had been let down.
The House has heard a lot from honorable members opposite, in particular from the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) and the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke), about broken promises. The strange thing is that those honorable members have not been able to produce any evidence that the Government has broken its promises. The Government promised that it would reduce taxation on personal income. In fact, it has reduced all forms of taxation and I believe that on the 29th May the Government will receive due credit from the taxpayers of this country.
My speech might seem to be incomplete if I did not make some reference to the programmes that have been suggested by honorable members opposite in recent months. Those suggestions were made at first in the budget debate last year. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) indicated that, although the reductions granted by the Government were inadequate, certain other items should have been included in the budget. Our assessment of the various promises made by the right honorable gentleman in particular reveals the staggering cost of £120,000,000, as compared with the total reduction of £118,000,000 made by this Government last year ! The Opposition has indicated within the last few days that it proposes a wheat stabilization plan which would probably result in a charge against the taxpayers of not less than 2s. 6d. a bushel or a total amount of £25,000,000 a year. Therefore, I do not understand how the Australian Labour party can expect to regain the treasury bench when it wants to place an additional burden of £145,000,000 a year on the taxpayers. When the approaching general election campaign is actually under way, Labour candidates will make further promises that will involve in all, a total expenditure under that heading of nearly £200,000,000. I ask honorable members- to compare that proposition with the programme that this Government has carried out. I believe that the Australian Labour party which the people condemned in 1949 and 1951 will again be condemned in 1954.
.- One of the sins of omission for which the people will call this Government to account is its failure to honour its promise that it would make available a loan of £250,000,000 for developmental purposes and that it would recoup that loan from collections of petrol tax. When the Government made that promise, local government authorities throughout Australia thought that they were about to witness the introduction of ,a new era in local government. Consequently, they sat back with a feeling of satisfaction and awaited the passage of legislation to give effect to that promise. The honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme) asked members of the” Opposition to specify one promise that the Government has broken. I have just answered that challenge effectively. No amount of sophistry- on the part of Government supporters can refute what I have said. As the result of the Government’s failure to honour that- promise, local (government authorities throughout Australia are seething with indignation. The Government is completely indifferent to the financial requirements of local government authorities for the maintenance and extension of our road system. Any one with eyes to see must have noticed the serious deterioration that has occurred in the road system throughout Australia during the last four years. The attention of the Government has been directed to that fact time and time again, but it has disregarded the representations that have been made to it on this matter not only by Labour supporters but also by its own supporters. Such has been the reaction of the community to the Government’s indifference that organizations have been formed throughout the Commonwealth with the object of prodding the Government into action. The members of these organizations are in the main members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party. They have taken that action because they are completely fed up with the Government’s failure to implement the promise to which T have referred.
The present condition of roads throughout Australia demands the earnest consideration of the Parliament. The time has arrived when all honorable members, regardless of party, should give serious consideration to this problem. To-day, we find that once first-class roads are nowpitted with potholes, cavities and ruts, whilst jagged surfaces and steep edges are commonplace. Roads are a vital factor in the prosperity of a country. Where good roads exist community life flourishes at its best. Good roads are essential particularly in a country of the area of Australia. Apart altogether from their value economically, our experience during the recent war emphasized the importance of a first-class road system in facilitating the movement of troops. Much has been said not only in this Parliament but also in the State parliaments about the need for decentralization. Such a policy must depend for success upon the provision of good roads. However, decentralization has been retarded because of the deterioration of our road system. Of course, that deterioration commenced during the recent war, i. but it has been intensified since the conclusion of that conflict.
When this country was threatened with invasion our road-building resources and equipment were concentrated in the Northern Territory for the construction of strategic roads and as a result maintenance work ceased completely. No one will complain about that fact having regard to the circumstances that existed at that time.
Another important factor in the provision of a first-class road system is the provision and maintenance of bridges. The fact is that most of the existing bridges in this country w.ere constructed in the pioneering days. Those that have now existed for periods of from 60 to 70 years must be replaced by modern structures. This aspect of the problem has. given a headache to local main roads boards and local government authorities, because the cost of replacing old bridges is beyond the financial resources of those bodies. Unfortunately, the Government has remained indifferent to this urgent problem. Not only is the greater pro: portion of our road system in a state of disrepair, but it is also totally unsuitable for use by modern transport units. Larger and heavier vehicles are coming into use in increasingly greater numbers. Our roads must be widened and their surfaces sealed in order to cater for this traffic. It is idle for any one to say that this is the responsibility of State and local government authorities because such bodies have not adequate financial resources to finance such work. Indeed, having regard to the sources that are available to them they are doing a splendid job. A vital point is that they cannot raise sufficient revenue for this purpose. That power is almost completely vested in this Parliament under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act. I repeat that the provision and maintenance of a first-class road system is a national responsibility. Whether we like it or not, the prosperity of this country depends to a large extent upon the existence of a first-class road system. However, the authorities responsible for the construction and maintenance of roads do not control the purse. The Australian Government levies taxes for that purpose, but up to date it has handed out. financial assistance to road authorities only in dribs and drabs. T should have thought that after the Government promised that it would raise a loan of £250,000,000 for developmental purposes, it would have presented to the Parliament forthwith a master-plan for the provision of roads that would he capable of meeting the requirements of commerce, industry and agriculture, but four years have elapsed since the Government made that promise and it has done nothing to give effect to it. We have heard occasional rumblings on the part of Government supporters who have been prodded by local government authorities in their electorates to urge the Government to take action in this matter, but such protests have been completely ignored. I remind Government supporters that local government authorities in their electorates have not forgotten the Government’s failure to honour its promise in this respect. Honorable members opposite will realize that fact to their sorrow during the forthcoming general election campaign when, I have no doubt, they will be inundated with protests against the Government for its failure to give attention to this serious problem.
I repeat that the Government should immediately evolve a master plan for the provision and maintenance of a first-class road system. Such a plan would involve a thorough survey of our road system. Obviously, we have no mason to be enthusiastic when we take stock of the present position. Over 500,000 miles of roads are in existence in this country, but 75 per cent, of that mileage comprises dirt roads. At present, new roads and new sealings are being provided at the rate of 10,000 miles annually, but at that rate it will take 37 years to seal our present limited road system, without providing any new routes at all. Central road authorities in the various States are responsible for the maintenance of 87,000 miles of roads and of that mileage 68,000 miles are classified as highways or main roads. The revenue made available to the States for road purposes to-day is sufficient to enable them to maintain only 45,000 miles of highways, or about half of the mileage for which such authorities are responsible. Thus they ‘have no funds available for the provision of new roads or for the maintenance of roads other than main roads. I repeat that in order
Mr. Bird. to cater for modern vehicles it will be necessary to widen many highways. Any honorable member who merely replies that it is the responsibility of State and local government authorities to tackle this problem does not really realize the task that confronts those authorities. The cost of building a main highway averages £50,000 a mile, whilst it costs £500 a mile per annum to maintain such highways. The cost of constructing light-sealed roads averages £3,000 a mile and the annual cost of maintenance of such roads is £40, whilst the cost of sealing an unsealed road averages £1,500 a mile. Obviously, it is beyond the capacity of State roads boards and local government authorities to finance such work. However, the National Parliament could overcome this difficulty. Expenditure on the provision and maintenance of first-class highways would pay rich dividends by lowering transport costs and by giving an impetus to community prosperity generally. Unfortunately, the rate of improvement in road construction has lagged lamentably behind the rate of progress recorded in other spheres of our economy. _ Since 1938-39, our population has increased by 25 per .cent., the number of factories has increased by 70 per cent., and the total number of persons employed has increased by 48 per cent., whilst the value of the output of primary and secondary industries has increased by 403 per cent, and our national income bas increased by 360 per cent. During the same period, road mileage has increased by approximately only 5 per cent.,, whilst the total mileage of sealed surfaces has increased by 35 per cent. These figures reveal that we are lagging seriously in the provision and maintenance of first-class roads, having regard to the progress that we have made in other spheres of our economy.
I invite honorable members to consider the matter in another way. All the public authorities in the six States expended £25,000,000 on roads in 1938-39. The same public authorities controlled approximately the same mileage of roads in 1952-53 ‘and spent £58,000,000 on them, but in terms of the post-war £1, the amount of £58,000,000 was equivalent to only £16,000,000 in 1938-39. Surely Government supporters are not satisfied with .such a condition of affairs when they are reminded of the grandiose promises which they made during the general election campaign in 1949 about the flotation of a national development loan of £250,000,000 to finance the various works that I have mentioned. Any progressive government in the future which attempts to alleviate this unjustifiable and unpardonable condition of affairs in respect of the road systems will need to engage in a considerable amount of concentrated planning and effort.
The solution of the problem is dependent on the availability of money. The States are in a parlous financial position because their revenue consists principally of the small hand-outs that they receive from the Commonwealth from time to time. In those circumstances, the State authorities cannot be expected to incur much expenditure on roads. The work is also beyond the financial capacity of the local authorities. I received to-day a complaint from municipalities in my electorate about their obligation to maintain arterial roads which are used principally by through traffic. Arterial roads radiate from Melbourne in all. directions. Probably only one car in 50 that travel along Bridge-road, in the electorate of Yarra, is driven by a resident of Richmond. Consequently, municipal authorities tend to maintain side roads, and do not give much attention to the arterial roads. In. any event, the municipalities simply have not sufficient money to maintain the arterial roads.
The “municipality to which I belong has b.en advised that the reconstruction of one arterial road within its boundaries would . ost £300,000. The municipality has an income of £100,000 per annum from the collection of rates, and cannot possibly undertake such an expensive work. That arterial road, too, is utilized principally by the owners of motor vehicles who reside in other municipalities. In view of all those circum stances, it is obvious that the responsibility for the maintenance and reconstruction of arterial roads should devolve upon a central road authority. The Country Roads Board in Victoria, which is doing splendid work, has stated that it requires £20,000,000 ,in order to do its job thoroughly. The parsimonious attitude adopted by the Menzies Government
towards the Victorian Government has resulted in an allocation to the Country Roads Board of only £8,000,000 or £9,000,000.
I hope that a sympathetic government in Canberra in the future will assume greater responsibility for roads. One of the first steps will be a reconsideration of the provisions of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act 1950. At the present time, the States receive 6d. of each lOd. collected by way of customs duty on each gallon of imported spirit, and 3½d. of every 8-Jd. collected by way of excise on each gallon of locally refined fuel. On that basis, the States received £15,107,000 of the total of £27,295,000 collected by way of petrol tax in 1952-53. The Commonwealth retained for its own purposes, and paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, the sum of £12,188,000. My personal view is that all the receipts from the petrol tax should be allocated to the States. If the existing formula is retained, road authorities will encounter grave difficulties in the future as the result of the establishment of oil refineries in Australia.
Everybody hailed with delight some time ago the announcement that four major oil companies have decided to erect refineries in Australia. Some of those refineries are now in the process of construction. One of them was opened recently in Corio by His Excellency the Governor-General, Sir William Slim. Unless the present basis for the distribution of the petrol tax is altered materially, the States will receive only 3½d. instead of 6d. a gallon when large quantities of locally refined petrol come on to the market. I assure the Government that the States and local authorities are most perturbed about that prospect, and that they will suffer a severe headache unless a favorable announcement of policy is made in the near future.
The staggering sum of £288,000,000 has been collected by the Commonwealth by way of customs duty and excise on motor spirit since the introduction of the petrol tax in 1926. The Commonwealth has retained £167,000,000, or 58 per cent, of those collections. I do not say for one moment that the present Government has been entirely responsible for that situation, because all governments since 1926, irrespective of their political views, have assented to the diversion of large sums received from the petrol tax to the Commonwealth Treasury. However, T believe that the time has arrived for this National Parliament to adopt a new policy on the allocation of the petrol tax. The statement has been made that the petrol tax was introduced in 1926 for revenue purposes. I dispute such a contention. The then Treasurer, Sir Earle Page, who introduced the Federal Aid Roads Bill said in the course of his second-reading speech -
Thu State governments lacking the power to impose customs duties are unable effectively to reach all road users. The Commonwealth is. therefore, co-operating with the States in a national roads policy arid will impose special customs duties which will be hypothecated for road construction.
The Commonwealth has retained for its own purposes approximately £167,000,000 of the total receipts which amounted to £&S8,000,000 for its own purposes so that it is obvious that successive governments have strayed considerably from the intentions of the legislation, as stated by the Treasurer of the day in 1926.
– He was called the Tragic Treasurer “.
– He has certainly been a tragic treasurer in the eyes of the road authorities, because they have never had ;i fair deal from the Federal Aid Roads Act, which he introduced. I hope that in the near future the attitude of this Parliament towards the allocation of the petrol tax will be guided by the principle laid down in 1926. Undoubtedly, there have been good reasons in the past why the States have not received all the money that the right honorable gentleman believed they would receive under the Federal Aid Roads Act, but I suggest that the condition of our road systems has reached such a state to-day that a radical alteration of policy must be made. I find no fault with the contention that receipts from a tax on petrol used by motorists should be devoted to making good the wear-and-tear on the roads used by their vehicles. That proposition is fair and equitable. It is a logical paynsyouuse tax, and means, in effect, that vehicles which make most use of the roads must pay the highest amount by way of petrol tax. Big commercial vehicles which are operating on the roads every day consume much more petrol than a light motor car that is used by its owner for week-end motoring only. Naturally, a bigger payment is made by way of petrol tax by the owner of the big commercial vehicle than is made by the owner of the small light car. That method is fair, because the big commercial vehicles are responsible, to a greater degree than the smaller vehicles, for the deterioration of the roads.
This matter cannot be shirked much longer by a national parliament. State governments and local authorities are completely impotent to deal with the problem, because they simply have not the necessary financial resources. The Commonwealth, which controls the pursestrings of the nation and gives hand-outs to the States, is responsible for the ultimate solution. The problem has become more acute since the end of “World “War II. because of the increasing number of vehicles using the roads and the increase of the size of vehicles. A worthwhile .result can be achieved only when the Commonwealth makes adequate recognition, of its financial obligations to the road authorities.
The first step, in my opinion, is to allocate all the receipts from the petrol tax to the States. However, that is not the whole solution. It may be described as a long overdue lubrication of the works. Other steps will need to be taken in order to ensure the provision of an adequate and efficient road system. The Commonwealth may need to enter into an agreement with the States for the control of the main arterial roads. I am not prepared at this juncture to state the details of a national road plan, but I suggest that the most important requirement at the moment is the provision of money to State authorities and local authorities in order to enable them to undertake long overdue road works. Such moneys can be provided only by this National Parliament. Surely it is not too much to hope that the National Parliament, irrespective of the political views of the government of the day, will decide that the whole proceeds of the petrol tax shall be devoted to the purpose for which the tax was’ originally imposed 1
– I intend to confine my remarks to the subject of housing. Almost nine years after the end of World War II., there is still little, if any, improvement in the housing position. Scores of thousands of good Australian families are still living in sub-standard flats or rooms, and often the bread-winner is separated from his wife and family by hundreds of miles. The problem has been accentuated, of course, by the vast increase of population over the last decade. It will be increasingly accentuated unless extreme action is taken by the Australian Government. The approach of ‘ the Menzies Government to this problem has been halfhearted. Its contribution to the relief of the shortage has represented a mere drop in the ocean. Probably no government could end the housing shortage quickly, but the Australian Government should, and must, approach it more intelligently than this Government has done up to date. It should provide cheaper finance, end all restrictions on private builders, inaugurate at vast building plan, assist the State governments and private enterprise, and investigate many other fields of activity that are open to it.
A nation that can conceive of and construct such great undertakings as the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric project, which, in my opinion, is essential to the development of this country and which was inaugurated by a Labour government, should not be lagging so badly as Australia is lagging in the matter of housing. Nobody but a short-sighted fool would expect the lag to be overtaken quickly, but at least some earnest attempt should be made to launch an Australia- wide building campaign in order to provide homes for the people. Notwithstanding the statistics issued by the Australian Government, much distress is still being suffered in the community as a result of the housing shortage. The constantly increasing population, boosted by immigration, almost certainly will ensure the continuance, and possibly the aggravation, of the problem. Therefore, every encouragement should be given to those citizens who wish to build homes. But what is the position in Australia to-day? Although the increasing availability of labour and materials has facilitated home building for those with ample means, the average wage and salary earner is still hampered by inability to raise sufficient finance. Even the most rigid self-denial is of little assistance. The disparity between building costs and the advances available to prospective home-builders presents an almost insurmountable hurdle to most Australians.
I think it is safe to say that the ambition of every young married couple is to live, sooner or later, in a house that they can call their own. The economic developments of recent years have made such dreams almost incapable of fulfilment. The difficulty which dashes the hopes of most young people is not that of high costs, which of course must be taken into consideration, or even that of obtaining materials or labour. The real difficulty during the last two or three years has been that of obtaining adequate finance in the first place. A few years ago, nobody who had 10 per cent, of the estimated cost of building a house experienced difficulty in borrowing sufficient money for the project. But to-day, the prospective home builder who has only 10 per cent, of the cost of a house is in real difficulty. The private trading banks and the private insurance companies, are reluctant to provide him with financial accommodation. I regret to say that even public moneylending institutions seem to be guided by the same philosophy. The prospective home-owner with limited means receives no encouragement from public organizations which, when all is said and done, should function in the public interest.. The War Service Homes Division i.inundated with applications from exservicemen who wish to own their homes. There are various reasons for this circumstance. One of the main reasons U that the ex-serviceman who seek.; assistance from other lending organizations finds it impossible to obtain accommodation from such sources.
The average person with a small sum at his disposal has little hope of obtaining sufficient money with which to build a house. The Labour party deplores that fact because it has always stood for individual home ownership. It takes the greatest exception to any policy that would deprive the ordinary working man and woman with limited financial means of the opportunity to own a home. Loan- for home building were comparatively easy to obtain during the regime of the Chifley Government, but to-day, because of the credit restriction policy applied by the Menzies Government, the raising of a loan is a difficult, slow and frustrating business. The effect of this policy is reflected in figures recently issued by the Acting Commonwealth Statistician, Mr. Carver, which make one shudder at the thought of the future of housing in Australia. To say the least, these figures are most disquieting. Mr. Carver reported that 64,454 houses were commenced during 1952-53. This number represented a decrease of almost 20 per cent, from the total of S0,000 houses commenced during 1951-52. The decline was a direct result of the maladministration of the Menzies Government in applying its vicious credit restriction policy. Mr. Carver also reported that 76,000 houses were completed during 1952-53. That number was 1,289 fewer than the number completed in the preceding year. The number of houses under construction at the 30th June, 1953, was 70,891, or 12,187 fewer than the number under construction at the 30th June, 1952.
Surely the Government cannot be pleased with these figures. It must be paying mere lip service to the ideal of home ownership. In fact, the figures T have cited prove that its much-vaunted solicitude for the potential home-owner is so much eye-wash. Not only has the number of houses built in Australia decreased as a result of the policy applied by the Menzies Government, but also the number of persons engaged in the house-building industry has considerably dropped. According to the Act of the Commonwealth Statistician, 99,611 persons were engaged in the building industry at the 30th June, 1953, compared with 114,900 at the 30th June, 1952, and 123,000 at the 30th June, 1951. The future of the industry will be black indeed if the Government persists with its credit restriction policy. The Government is forcing building workers out of the industry because its policy frustrates intending home purchasers. It has much to answer for to the ^electors. The Labour party has always whole-heartedly supported the principle of home ownership.
It considers that all members of the community should be given every encourage^ ment to build or buy their homes. The pride of home ownership must be known in order to be appreciated. However, under existing conditions, dreams of home ownership seem to be impossible of realization for many tens of thousands of young couples. Is it fair that the people who are able to provide a satisfactory deposit for the purchase of a house should be deprived of suitable accommodation? Is it fair that housing should lag in a community which otherwise enjoys a reasonable standard of living?
The Government apparently thinks that the present situation is satisfactory, because it has made no practical move to alleviate the shortage. It pretends to be ignorant of the real effects of its credit restriction policy. Any government worthy of its salt would examine the effects of a policy that denies the opportunity to own homes to people who are most urgently in need of adequate housing. The Government should realize that it is futile to expect family life to develop unless men and women can obtain houses of their own in which they can take personal pride. No matter what social changes may take place, home ownership will remain a fundamental requirement of our best citizens. It represents a vital element in determining the stature of the nation. The Government should try by every means to promote home ownership and should evolve a scheme to bring the cost of building within the reach of all, but it has failed badly. Potential home owners who require reasonable financial accommodation will not be able to obtain sympathetic consideration and assistance until a Labour government takes office.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Mi-. PULLER. - I now wish to deal with the subject of social services in order to show further the great betrayal of the people by this Government, which has many sins to answer for on the 29th May. The Labour party never faced a general election with greater confidence than it face’s the general- election next month. It is a united party, and public favour has swung more and more in its direction. It will certainly once again occupy the treasury bench. The electors have been awaiting their opportunity to remove the present Government from office. As far as 1 am concerned the election cannot be held soon enough. On every occasion on which I have delivered a speech in this chamber I have challenged the Government to test the feeling of the electorate. It would not do so, but its time has run out, and it cannot postpone its fate any longer.
In 1948, when a Labour Government was in office, the basic wage was £5 16s. and the age pension was £2 2s. 6d. a week. To-day the basic wage is £12 ls. and the age pension is £3 10s. a week. In other words, although the basic wage and the cost of living have more than doubled during the life of the Government, pensions have increased by only a little more than half. Had the Government kept its promise to maintain the value of social services payments the pensioner to-day would be receiving at least £4 14s. a week instead of £3 10s. During the regime of the Chifley Government the relationship of the pension to the basic wage was just and equitable. Under this Government it is grossly unjust and inhumane. When the Labour party is returned to office on the 29th May, immediate steps will be taken to restore social services benefits to the actual purchasing level that applied in 1948, and to maintain their correct and just relationship to the basic wage.
I now turn to the means test, which humiliates each applicant for a pension and places the stigma of charity on every grant of a pension. It also stamps the shame of poverty on each recipient of a pension. The means te3t debars the thrifty and a deserving section of the community from receiving social services benefits, yet allows them to be freely granted to the wasteful and spendthrift sections of the community. The Labour party regards the means test, which the Prime Minister views with bland apathy, as a disgraceful inquisition that should not be tolerated in an enlightened community. In 1943 the Chifley Government, as a first step towards the abolition of the means test, carried through the Parliament the National Welfare Fund Bill which established a fund to be financed from Consolidated Revenue and recognized as a trust fund. It was established in order to bring into being the means to finance, later on, all social service benefits without any means test. It was planned that this trust fund, into which social services contributions were also placed, would be sufficiently large by 1954 to finance all social services with no necessity for a means test. But what happened? In 1950, the Menzies Government put through the Parliament a bill that destroyed Labour’s plan to secure the future of social services, by paying social services deductions into the Consolidated Revenue Fund and not into the trust fund. Two years later the Government introduced another bill by which it froze the National Welfare Fund. This meant that social services could not be financed from the fund. By the end of June last year, under Labour’s plan, there would have been approximately £419,000,000 in the trust fund. Because of the destructive action of this Government there was little over £185,000,000 in it, which left a shortage of £234,000,000. That is why the Government has perpetuated the iniquitous means test that it promised to abolish. That is how it has again betrayed the pensioner, whom it insulted last year with its notorious “ half-crown “ budget. Labour’s determination that the means test should be abolished by 1954 has been thwarted by Menzies-Fadden manipulation. When re-elected on the 29th May, Labour will immediately set about implementing its pledge progressively to abolish the means test. The level of permissible income will be raised until the detestable means test can be wiped out of existence. Social justice will be restored only when Labour is returned.
The Government has sold out on the sick, on the mothers and the fathers of those who fought to defend this country in war, by its paltry increase of pensions by an amount of 2s. 6d. a week. This afternoon I heard an honorable member opposite speak about tax reductions that have been made by the Government. If my memory serves me correctly the last budget introduced into this Parliament by the late Joseph Benedict Chifley provided for an expenditure of £504,000,000. This Government, by using its urgers and its whisperers, and all the instrumentalities that it could mobilize, pledged itself to reduce taxes.
Yet, its first budget provided for an expenditure of £919,000,000, or £415,000,000 more than the amount provided for in Mr. Chifley’s last budget. The last budget it introduced provided for ail expenditure of £863,000,000 which is £359,000,000 more than the expenditure provided for in Mr. Chifley’s last budget. That is a queer way to reduce taxes and to put shillings back into the £1 and reduce the cost of living. Every housewife knows, to her regret, that she has to pay 4s. 2d. to-day for 1 lb. of butter that would have cost 2s. 8d. per lb. in Mr. Chifley’s day and ls. 2d. for the Chifley 7d. loaf of bread. The price of textiles, too, has leapt. Foi instance, a pair of trousers of the type that I sold in my mercery business during my temporary absence from the Parliament for 69s. lid. costs 98s. lid. to-day, due to the administration of this tragic Government, which has repudiated every promise that it made to the Australian people. Another promise that supporters of this Government ‘ made to the Australian people was that, if they were returned to office, full employment would be maintained. But I know that even in the most conservative areas of my electorate to-day there is much unemployment. I could give the names of many unemployed persons to honorable members to-night. Only once in the history of Australia did we enjoy a period of full employment, and that was between 1941 and 1949 when Labour governments were in office. Honorable members opposite are well aware of the unemployment that followed the introduction of their so-called “ horror “ budget a few years ago. The textile industry and many other industries were in chaos.
The Australian Labour party is a united party. Make no mistake about that. It will go to the polls knowing perfectly well that it will win. I was out of this Parliament for a period of sixteen months, but at the end of that period I went over the same ground, fought the same opponents, and was elected. I had the honour and privilege of winning back for Labour the only New South Wales seat that it won back at that election. I welcome Liberal party and Australian Country party candidates to the forthcoming contest, and I also welcome their leaders to the electorate of Hume. They have never failed to pay me a visit in the past. I have had the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony), the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) and the “ tragic Treasurer “, now Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page), and one of the worst Ministers this country has ever had. They have all been there before and I will welcome them again. I have no doubt that on the 29th May Labour will be restored to the treasurybench of the Commonwealth Parliament, from which it should never have been dismissed.
.- Honorable members are aware that a conference is to be held at Geneva on the 26th April to discuss the “ peaceful settlement of the Korean question “ and also the problem of restoring peace in Indo-China. Both these matters are of great importance to Australia. The negotiations at Geneva may establish whether peaceful coexistence with the Communists is open to us or whether we in Australia will have to live under the continuing threat of Communist aggression and expansion in the stategically vital areas of South-East Asia. The situation in Korea is well known. The task is to convert the armistice into permanent peace on acceptable terms. In Indo-China the trend of events is disturbing. In Vietnam, which constitutes the approaches to Thailand. Burma and Malaya, an organized and powerful Communist force is waging a vigorous war against the forces of France and the Associated States of , Indo-China The decisions of the French Government, the will to resist of the people of IndoChina, and the discussions in Geneva, will between them determine whether the approaches to Malaya rest in the hands of friendly independent governments or are swallowed into the Communist orbit.
I wish to speak briefly about the prospects of the conference on Korea and our attitude towards it. The convening of this conference is the end-point of many months of negotiation by the representatives of the United Nations forces with the Chinese and North Koreans about the time, place, and composition of the political conference which had been provided for in the Korean Armistice Agreement signed in July, 1953. The House will be aware of the difficulties encountered1 by the negotiators at Panmunjong which have been resolved by this decision of the Foreign Ministers at Berlin upon terms fully satisfactory to Australia. The conference at Geneva will be attended by almost all the United Nations countries which fought in Korea and by the Soviet Union, Communist China and North Korea. The Republic of Korea has not as yet indicated whether it will participate, but one can only hope it will. Most of the countries present will be represented by their Foreign Ministers, lt has been decided that I should attend the Geneva conference, at least for its early stages.
There is no doubt about the difficulties ahead of the conference, or in the achievement of the declared objective of the United Nations, the unification of Korea by peaceful means, under a democratic government freed of threats to its independence. Communist proposals for the unification of Korea put. forward in the past by Soviet Russia have been in such terms as to ensure that before long the whole of Korea would fall under Communist domination. However, this is not the last word. The people of the Republic of Korea have fought courageously against Communist aggression, and have suffered heavy casualties in their armed forces and among civilians. They understandably look forward to a life, of peace and freedom and to seeing their country re-united. At the same time, we, on our side, are flatly op posed to the use of force to achieve the unification of Korea, and therefore we would unreservedly oppose the reopening of hostilities to achieve this.
The Australian Government has been in consultation with certain other countries which will participate in the Geneva conference, particularly Commonwealth countries, and the United States of America. We have also had discussions with the Republic of Korea. Throughout the course of United Nations intervention in Korea Australia has played a direct and responsible part in military action to resist aggression, in the early post-war efforts to bring about unification and in the shaping of policy amongst our allies on the United Nations side. We are convinced of the importance of the role which countries such as ours have already played and can continue to play in the coming discussions at Geneva. We shall therefore expect to maintain regular, full and direct consultation with the powers most concerned in order that our voice may be heard effectively and at all stages in discussions.
The Australian Government has a number of suggestions to make for proceeding from the armistice to something more permanent. I do not think that this is the stage to make our detailed views publicly known. They are a matter for discussion with other interested governments and, as I have indicated, on a number of points our discussions have already begun. Moreover, when we approach an international conference, we can hardly be expected to place our cards completely on the table three weeks before the meeting opens. There is some hope that the conference itself will lead to some agreement with the Communists. The difficulties are all too evident. Chinese armies occupy North Korea and the whole political and economic life of North Korea is under a Communist government, which itself is under foreign domination. Moscow and Peking will not want the disappearance of this North Korean Communist regime, yet that would be the probable result of giving the Korean people a genuinely free choice in setting up a unified, independent government. If our efforts to obtain a just and democratic basis for the unification and independence of Korea should fail, we may at least hope that satisfactory temporary arrangements accepted by both sides can reduce the risk of hostilities recurring in Korea, and pave the way for unity later when the bitterness aroused by war. is less intense.
We may expect the Chinese Communists to lay down extravagant terms and conditions for any agreement that they may be prepared to enter into. I need hardly add that discussions with them carry no obligation to recognize that Government, or support its admission to the United Nations. The most that can be said on this point is that the future attitude of United Nations members, including Australia, must be affected by the good faith and reasonableness shown by the Communist negotiators, and their willingness to accept obligations to respect the independence of their neighbours and conform to the standards of the United Nations Charter.
A further and equally important test of Communist intention will be found in the discussions on Indo-China. “When the four Foreign Ministers agreed in Berlin in February that the problem of restoring peace in Indo-‘C’hina would also be discussed at Geneva, they took a far-reaching decision. The shape and the nature of the Geneva discussion on Indo-China have yet to be decided upon. Nor has the representation at the discussion on Indo-China been decided, and it should not be overlooked that Soviet Russian agreement will be required on this. The Berlin agreement has been welcomed by the Government of France, whose forces have been engaged for over seven years in the struggle with the Vietminh insurgents. During that time, and more particularly since July, 1953, the French and the Associated States of Indo-China have sought to conclude constitutional agreements establishing Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia as independent States within the French Union, with stable and effective governments having the support of the people. Unhappily, these objectives, while in sight, have yet to be finally attained; and the war continues.
It is clear that there is a strong opinion in France that this war, with all the loss and suffering it entails, should be ended. The French Government in early March indicated its desire to consider a cease fire under certain conditions, which were set out in the French Parliament by the Prime Minister, M. Laniel It is against this background that discussions will commence with the Communists in Geneva upon the future fate of IndoChina. If there is to be a cease fire, that is, if the attempt to defeat the Communist armies of the Vietminh is to cease, we in Australia must consider tho, implications of that action. The leaders of the Vietminh movement are Moscowtrained Communists, and they are using quantities of war materiel supplied by Communist China and other Communist countries. They profess to be nationalists. Perhaps their ranks still include some genuine nationalists, although these have long since ceased to have any real influence.
But experience in Greece and in eastern Europe must surely be a warning of the danger to the independence and liberties of these people if they are exposed, under the guise of peaceful negotiation, to the subversion and political manoeuvring of aggressive communism, supported by a neighbouring and powerful Communist State.
Indo-China is important to the security of the free world. If Indo-China were to fall to the Communists, there is no doubt at all that the whole of SouthEast Asia would be threatened. The interests of the peace-loving nations, as of the indigenous peoples themselves, lie in the consolidation of the governments of the Associated .States of Indo-China, settlement of their remaining issues with the French, and the development of democratic processes and a broader basis of popular support. Is it too late to ensure this? It may be that. some honorable members will consider that the restoration of peace is a matter for the United Nations. “While not dismissing the possibility, I would argue that intervention by the United Nations should be carefully considered. The internal situation is scarcely one to which the United Nations should apply its conciliatory functions. If, on the other hand, it were thought that consideration should be given to police action by the United Nations, that is, action calling for a possible contribution of forces and aid by all members of the United Nations, many complex legal and practical questions would be involved. For example, the question arises whether United Nations intervention should be regarded as interference with the internal affairs of the three Associated States of IndoChina and of France. Against this it could be argued that the military operations inside Vietnam have continued so long and have been on such a scale that the situation constitutes a threat to the peace of other countries. In fact the
Vietminh rebels have made armed incursions into the sovereign territory of both Laos and Cambodia.
I mention these matters merely to illustrate some of the complexities which reference of the Indo-China question to the United Nations would involve. Many practical problems would also arise. I do not, as I have said, rule out the possibility of the United Nations becoming seised of this question at some stage. Perhaps it can play a role later on, after peace has been restored, by observing and policing the situation and giving some support and guarantee to the independence of the Associated States of Indo-China. But in deciding whether the situation in Indo-China should be made a matter of United Nations concern, we have to pay particular attention to the attitude of mind of the governments of France and of the three Associated States of Indo-China, and of course special consideration must also be given to the views of those countries which would be threatened by further Communist expansionparticularly the more immediate neighbours of Indo-China. The French Government has in the past been opposed to referring this question to the United Nations.
As honorable members are aware, French forces have been fighting for many years and at considerable cost, and the rest of the world, particularly the people of Asia and the South Pacific, are under a great debt to France for the sacrifices it has borne. For the past few weeks a fierce fight has been going on for Dien Bien Phu, and the outcome is still not decided. I should like to pay a tribute, in which I am sure all honorable members of the House wish to join, to the stamina and courage of the French and Vietnamese forces who have been fighting to retain this position. The monsoon which is due about the middle of May, should, as in the past, bring the campaigning season to an end and so give some respite. This respite should also give more time for the forces of Vietnam to be built up further and for the political life of the Associated States of Indo-China to be invigorated within the framework of independence which will be given new scope under the agreements now being worked out in Paris. We cannot altogether rule out the possibility that, despite the monsoon, some militaryoperations will continue, but the critical question is whether the military and political situation will be sustained during the weeks immediately ahead. ,
It is on this and related matters that we are in close consultation with the governments of the other countries mainly concerned, particularly those of France, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and New Zealand. It has been decided that on my way to Geneva I shall go to Singapore; Saigon and Washington, and I expect to leave Australia on Monday, the 12th April. This will give an opportunity to make first-hand acquaintance with the situation in Indo-China, which I last visited in 1951. I shall be able to discuss the situation with the French and Vietnam leaders, and to state Australia’s position to them. The Government believes also that Australia’s interests will be served by the presence of a Cabinet Minister at this time in the places where decisions are being made and where consultation is taking place.
In this context, the statement made on the 29th March by Mr. John Foster Dulles, United States Secretary of State, is of the greatest importance. Members are no doubt familiar with what he has said, but I should like to refer the House to the final words of his review of the Indo-China situation. He said -
Under the conditions of to-day, the imposition on South-East Asia of the political system of Communist Russia and its Chinese Communist ally, by whatever means, would be a grave threat to the whole free community. The United States feels that the possibility should not be passively accepted, but should be met with united action. This might involve serious risks. But these risks are far less than those that will face us a few years from now, if we dare not be resolute to-day.
Mr. Dulles’s statement clearly implies the readiness of the United States of America to participate in joint action to secure South-East Asia. He has warned the Vietminh that they can no longer base their hopes on a defeat of the French forces, or even a withdrawal of the French forces. That is a most important declaration. I do not propose to dwell upon or to expand upon this matter at present, except to say that Australia cannot but welcome this American interest in preserving the security and independence of the nations of South-East Asia and the South Pacific.
Inasmuch as there has been press speculation to the effect that Australia has already been approached with a view to the extension of membership of the Anzus Treaty, I may say that no such proposal has been made. We all must, however, have in mind the desirability of close working relationships among the countries of the South-East Asian region. It is obvious, however, that the line of thought put forward by Mr. Dulles needs further elaboration and exploration before any new statement of Australian policy can be made on this point. This broad question of co-operation among the countries of the Pacific and South-East Asia is being carefully examined by us and, I have no doubt, by other governments in this region, whose welfare and securityare of great concern to Australia. The House will not expect me to enter into detail on the matters being discussed among member countries. There have been reports in the newspapers about a number of proposals. The truth is that a number of ideas are being discussed, but the published reports crystallize them into definite proposals in a way that does not represent a correct picture.
When we consider these questions, we all have present in our minds the threat to mankind from the atomic bomb. The recent explosions in the Pacific have shown the dreadful powers of the hydrogen bomb. The Australian Government has time and again expressed its concern and its sense of urgency regarding the need for international agreement to control the use of the bomb. Recently, in a public statement, and also in representations to the United States Government, I have, on behalf of this Government, sought an early meeting of the United Nations Disarmament Commission. I was glad to learn last week-end that the governments of the United States of America, Britain and France - which are members of the Disarmament Commission - have also called for such a meeting. I do not intend to say anything more to-night about the hydrogen bomb, because a full statement on the subject will be made to the House by the Prime Minister. I mention it now to indicate .+1,0+ it is an important factor in our thinking about all international problems to-day. Our knowledge of the destructive powers of the atomic bomb, and the sombre prospect that it holds for mankind, must surely reinforce our efforts to solve those disputes, which could extend into wider conflicts which might result in the use of atomic weapons.
– I think the Minuter for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has made his statement, at any rate partly, as a result of a request I made to him to state the policy of the Australian Government at the forthcoming conference at Geneva. The decision to hold the conference was made by the Foreign Ministers who met recently in Berlin. The Minister has referred to its importance, which is obvious, and to the effect it may have upon our relations with countries in the South-East Asian region. I differ from the Minister strongly on one point. In relation to Korea, one of the two subjects that will be discussed at Geneva, he said that the Australian Government had a number of suggestions to make for proceeding from the armistice to something more permanent, but he did not think this was the time to make our detailed views publicly known. He said we could hardly be expected to place our cards completely on the table three weeks before the conference.
I differ from him on that point. The fighting in Korea has been suspended by an armistice, and the very purpose of the Geneva conference is to replace the armistice with something more permanent. What is the just solution of the problem ? Has not the Minister any proposals that he could put before the House so that we could make suggestions in relation to them ? This is a question, not of playing cards round a table, but of trying to find a just solution of the problem of Korea, and also of the problem of Indo-China, which is equally important. We do not want solutions based on anything except justice. I think that is a defect in the Minister’s statement in relation to both Korea and Indo-China, although there is much in it with which I agree. I should have thought that, in the present state of affairs, a settlement in Korea must proceed on certain broad lines, which I shall try to indicate. Those lines may not be accepted by the Government, but they should be discussed in Australia, if that is practicable, ‘so that the views of the Australian people can be made known before the conference and perhaps make some contribution to a jUst settlement.
The position in Indo-China seems to call for more urgent action. As the Minister has said, various statements about Indo-China have been made in the press. It was stated in the Australian Broadcasting Commission news bulletin to-night that the Trench foreign office had confirmed that the United States of America was proposing that Great Britain, the United States of America, France, Australia and New Zealand should make a declaration proposing a five-power warning to the Communists in Indo-China. I asked the Minister this afternoon whether such a communication from the United States of America had been received by the Australian Government. I ask him now : Has it been received? When we find reports in the press of the world of statements made by the American Foreign Secretary which imply that the United States of America has made proposals to that effect, it would be proper to let us know what the proposals were so that we can discuss them. I think it is wrong not to disclose them.
What should be done about IndoChina? That raises a problem on which the Minister holds a view very different from my own. “He has not committed himself entirely to the view that I attribute to him, but I think it is implicit in what he has said. I understand he does not consider the situation in Indo-China to be one that calls for the intervention of the United Nations. I take the view that it does demand intervention by the United Nations and that it has long since ceased to be merely a question of internal or domestic jurisdiction. The struggle in Indo-China has gone on for six or seven years, and outside forces are involved. I have not the slightest doubt that the Chinese Communist Government, although perhaps it is not openly assisting the rebel or Communist forces in IndoChina, is in fact assisting them as far as it can do so. Other governments are coming to the assistance of Trance. I agree with what the Minister has said about the burden that has been cast upon France by this struggle, which has gone on for so long, so far from metropolitan France. As the position in Indo-China has become exacerbated and the drain on Prance has become heavier and heavier during the last few years, I cannot understand why the dispute has not been taken into the jurisdiction of the United Nations through either the Security Council or the General Assembly. Does not it involve a threat to the peace and security of that part of the world? Surely that is the gravamen of the Minister’s statement. If we deal with the matter outside the United N ations, we do not have the authority of action taken under the jurisdiction of that organization.
Let me contrast the situation in Korea with that in Indo-China. The situation in Korea was brought to the notice of the United Nations. For several years, it was before the General Assembly, which appointed a United Nations Commission to go to Korea. Australia had representatives on that commission, which made reports to the United Nations General Assembly from time to time, and resolutions were adopted by the General Assembly. It was through intervention by the United Nations organization on what I might call its consultative side, that is, without any recommendation of recourse to force, that the proposal came for a unification of the whole of the Republic of Korea and that area of North Korea which was occupied by the Russian forces under military agreement between the United States of America and Russia at the end of the fighting in 1945. Russia argued then that the question was not one of United Nations jurisdiction. Russia said it was simply a matter for the Korean people, but the real point was whether there was a threat to the peace or security of the nations that were involved in the threatened struggle. I am referring to the situation that existed before fighting had commenced as a result of the forces of North Korea crossing the border - the tension, the refusal to unite, the fact that neither side would meet the other, and the elections held by the Republic of Korea,.. to which the forces in the north under
Russian military occupation would pay no heed. That was a situation that did not so clearly involve a threat to peace and security as does the situation in Indo-China, but the decision of the General Assembly of the United Nations, which Australia supported, was that Korea did involve such a threat and that, therefore, the General Assembly had jurisdiction to take up the matter on a Security Council level and to appoint a commission to go to the spot in order to ascertain the facts and to recommend what should be done. On that footing proposals were made, as I have said, for the unification of South Korea and North Korea, for free elections and the like.
We know what happened. The situation became one of open fighting and the forces of North Korea invaded the southern portion of Korea. The matter came to the Security Council. It .was decided to use actual force and to call upon nations to support by force the authority of the United Nations in Korea. This Parliament was consulted before action was taken by Australia. It was unanimously agreed by this Parliament that force should be employed and that Australian forces should make their contribution. Our authority to act in Korea, in a sense, was drawn substantially from that source, that is, from intervention by the United Nations, which regarded the matter as one that involved an actual breach of the peace. The stage was reached at which the forces of all the constituent nations fought under the United Nations flag. General Douglas MacArthur was the general who held command under the United Nations banner. The meeting that will be held in Geneva within a few weeks is an attempt to obtain a more permanent settlement of that dispute than has been achieved by the present armistice. Thy whole purpose of the United Nations intervention in these matters is to thrash out the proposals for and against, and to submit the suggestions openly. With the forces in Korea divided as they are at present, it seems obvious that for a considerable time Korea will be divided into the northern and southern portions. Much might be done by insisting that forces of other countries shall no longer be in control. The United Nations also will have to do something to guarantee a continuation of that status quo in order to encourage trade between North Korea and South Korea with a view to eventual union on a democratic basis. I know these are difficult problems to solve, but they must be solved and I see’ no other solution.
Whatever might be said in relation to Korea, the case for intervention by the United Nations in Indo-China is very strong indeed. A number of factors operate in these matters. First of all, in such cases the United Nations organization examines the facts. What are the facts -in relation to the dispute in IndoChina? The dispute has a long history which goes back to the time of the Japanese occupation of Indo-China. People often overlook the fact that theVietminh movement in Indo-China arose long before the Communist government had come to power in China itself. Its original form was a nationalist movement for self-government. I do not think that fact is disputed by any one who has studied the matter. The policy of communism in South-East Asia and in .other countries is to wait until national movements are sufficiently strong and then to get control of those movements. Because of the natural desire for self-government of people who live in areas which have been governed from a distance, the Communist movement thrives, in many cases not because the people want communism but because they want nationalism.
The facts in relation to this matter must be examined by the United Nations and some attempt made to arrive at a just solution of the problem. My own opinion is that the solution of the problem in Indo-China lay in complete selfgovernment of the area, but in association with the French Republic in much the same way as we have it from one end of the British Commonwealth to the other. India enjoys full membership of the British Commonwealth and recognizes the head of the Commonwealth, but it enjoys complete self-government. India goes to the United Nations as a fully selfgoverning nation in all respects. I think that the three constituent areas of IndoChina - Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam - are areas of that kind. An examination of the position in Indo-China by the United Nations might lead to a solution such as I have mentioned.
I agree with the Minister for External Affairs on one very important point, that is, that if areas like Indo-China became completely Communist, that would mean the end of all self-government for the people of those areas. There would not be any chance of altering the status quo in those countries. I think the proper task of the United Nations is to try to ensure that the democratic right of election in those countries shall be preserved. It is absolutely essential in relation to the Republic of Korea, sometimes called South Korea, and it is essential in IndoChina. At the same time, I shrink from some of the suggestions that have been made for dealing with this matter. I do not think that it can be dealt with by other nations first of all without French support. France is a member of the United Nations and could not properly object if the matter were brought to the jurisdiction of the United Nations. If the present plan provides that a few nations in the Pacific may act independently of the United Nations, that seems to me to be a completely wrong approach to the matter. I do not think it would be in accordance with the views of this Parliament that action should be taken in that way. It would mean the waging of war without the authority of the United Nations, which is the international organization established for the very purpose of dealing with and considering situations of that character. Therefore I am glad that the matter has been brought to the attention of the Parliament in so striking a way by the Minister. In the absence of a settlement at Geneva, I think that the Indo-China matter should be referred to the United Nations. In fact, it would be a substantial gain if, at Geneva, the reference could be made to the United Nations and a conciliation authority set up to try to reach a settlement. If there were a decision by the United Nations authority at the level of the General Assembly - I am omitting the Security Council because of the veto which exists there–I think there could emerge suggestions of a settlement along the lines I have mentioned.
However, I do not think any action should be taken by the Australian Government in relation to Indo-China involving the possibility of armed force being used, without a prior reference to this Parliament. I think that is absolutely essential. It was done in relation to Korea. The decision was made by the Parliament, and the Government acted with the complete authority of the Parliament. Of course, involved in this matter are several related matters. The Minister referred briefly to one of them, the question of the use of atomic weapons. It has been stated that in certain circumstances it would be proper to use an atomic weapon by way of prevention, in the sense that if there was a threat of Communist aggression in one portion of an area, it would be a proper thing’ for massive forces, forces which might be represented by the use of a most potent weapon of mass destruction, an atomic bomb, to be used at some other portion. There might conceivably be an extension of the area of war in that way, and I think that a course of that kind should not be approved without the matter being investigated by the United Nations. I do not mean that the United Nations would approve of it. But what I want to see, and I think everybody who wants international affairs to be conducted decently wants to see, is the bringing of these matters into the channels of the United Nations. I know that that is a slow process, and often a process which causes delays and frustrations, but there have been many instances when situations looked difficult and almost hopeless, yet United Nations intervention was successful. One of the most striking examples of that was the intervention of the General Assembly of the United Nations in connexion with the Balkans. In that instance it was submitted that there was no jurisdiction for the General Assembly to examine whether the northern neighbours of Greece, Yugoslavia, Albania and Bulgaria were interfering with the territory of Greece. The United Nations considered that there was jurisdiction, and that a threat to security was involved. The General Assembly overruled objections on jurisdiction, and appointed a commission to the Balkans.
Similar action has been taken in other places in theworld where the situation looked ominous and even dark. Settlements were achieved in relation to most of these places, even settlement by consent. But the problem in connexion with the atomic bomb and the hydrogen bomb is closely and integrally associated with the question of action outside the United Nations. Therein lies one of the greatest dangers. I believe that this matter is of even more urgent importance than is the situation in Indo-China, important though that is. In order to illustrate my point, I should 1 ike to read to the House the report of the United Nations Disarmament Commission for last year. The report is dated the 20th August, 1953. All that it says in this connexion is -
However, recent action and the experimental explosion of the hydrogen bomb have led to the calling together in a day or so of the Disarmament Commission. 1 do not think that while action of that kind is going on, satisfactory action so far as it goes, the Indo-China question should be complicated by action of powers other thanFrance outside the United Nations.
To sum up, I have indicated what might be the broad lines of a temporary arrangement in Korea. I believe that the Indo-China matter would receive orderly treatment, and an armistice in Indo-China on a satisfactory basis might be obtained if the matter were referred to the United Nations by the Geneva conference, failing a settlement at that conference itself. Of course, the conference at Geneva may result in a settlement of the kind that I have suggested as being a possibility. I agree entirely with some of the observations that the Minister made about the danger that might threaten South-East Asia if any of the events that he indicated in the course of his remarks may occur. It is known, as he pointed out, that the French Government has never favoured intervention by the United Nations in IndoChina, at any rate at the stage at which such intervention was suggested. I believe that that has been a mistake. The United Nations should have intervened in Indo-China. The United Nations intervened in Korea long before the struggle by arms commenced in that country. I believe that the course may be open for such intervention in Indo-China either by direct action on the part of member nations or as a result of the conference that is to be held at Geneva.
A few months ago this House debated the question of atomic energy, and the unanimous view of honorable members at that time was that a system of control and inspection should be initiated and that that aim should not be abandoned despite the tremendous difficulties involved. Since that time there has been some improvement in the international situation in that the Foreign Ministers of the Great Powers have met at Berlin. One positive result of that meeting is the arrangement to hold the. forthcoming conference at Geneva at which the problem of Korea and that of Indo-China will be dealt with. Whilst that meeting is pending any suggestion that one of the powers will not be repre- sentedatitinsofarastheproblemof Indo-China is concerned would be singularly out of place. Such a suggestion would tend to prevent a full discussion and the making of a satisfactory arrangement to deal with the problem of IndoChina if that be possible. In the course of the debate in this House to which I have referred and in which many honorable members participated, I read a passage with which I should like to conclude my remarks on this occasion because, acute though our differences may be, nothing arising in our internal politics matters if all the efforts of mankind towards the improvement of the standards of living and of education throughout the world should disappear in a holocaust that may occur unless a successful attempt is made to control atomic energy in order to ensure that it shall he used for constructive, and not destructive, purposes. I take the following quotation from a letter which Sir Winston Churchill wrote to Stalin away back in 1945. Sir Winston Churchill wrote -
There is not much comfort in looking into a future where you and the countries you dominate, plus the Communist parties in many other States, are all drawn up on one side, and those who rally to the English-speaking nations, with their associates and dominions, are on the other. It is quite obvious that their quarrel would tear the world to pieces, and all of us, loading men on either side, who had anything to do with that would be ashamed before history. Even embarking on long periods of suspicion, or abuse and counterabuse, and of opposing policies, would be disaster, hampering great development of world prosperity for the masses, which arc attainable only by our trinity.
That was Churchill looking forward to the continuance in times of peace of the relationship between the Great Powers which had united them, during World War IT. Alas, those expectations were not achieved, but the substance of them is still apparent in speeches that were delivered recently in the House of Commons by both Sir Winston Churchill and Mr. Attlec. Sir Winston Churchill, in his letter, continued -
I hope there is no word or phrase in this outpouring of my heart to you which unwittingly gives offence. If there is let me know. But do not, I beg of you, my friend Stalin, underrate the divergences which are opening up about matters which you may think small but which are symbolic of the way the English-speaking democracies look at life.
– Order! The right honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- In taking my place in the National Parliament, I am deeply conscious of the great personal honour that the electors of Gwydir recently conferred on me when they elected me to represent them here. I am also mindful of the responsibilities which service in the Parliament involves. I hope that I shall shoulder those responsibilities well, and that I shall contribute, in at least a small measure, to the wellbeing of Australians both individually and nationally. I shall at all times endeavour to maintain the dignity of the
Parliament as befits its traditions as the time-proven instrument of the democracy which is so dear to Australians in all walks of life.
It is my firm conviction that the interests of my fellow men can best be served through the practical application of the philosophy of free enterprise. The only realistic alternative is socialism. The practical application of socialist doctrine must inevitably lead Australia along that dark road which has led the countries of Europe to their doom. The adoption of a policy of socialization in Australia would release those same forces which have undermined every nation in which they have ever had free play. Whilst we may not doubt the sincerity of many socialists, we must deplore the confusion and the shortness of range of their thinking. An analysis of socialism and an examination of its ramifications reveal the fact that it must result in a police state headed by a dictator or a dictatorial group. History supports this contention. Recent examples in national socialism, or Nazism in Germany, Fascist socialism in Italy, and Communist socialism in Russia provide terrifying evidence of the fact - not that socialism went wrong in those places, but that it cannot avoid going wrong. Free enterprise, on the other hand, by giving maximum play to the God-given quality of freedom of will, provides a system which allows each individual to develop his abilities to the full and ensures a vigorous and healthy environment. I would be the first to point to the weaknesses of this system. One would be blind, indeed, if he were unable to see that there have been in the past unsavoury features attached to free enterprise economies. There have been recurring depressions, with their attendant tragedy of unemployment. There has been, at times, exploitation of man by man. But none of those things is irreparable. There is none of them which cannot by appropriate action be ameliorated. None of them is basic to the system, as the loss of human freedoms is basic to socialism. Taking the long-range view of what has been achieved under free enterprise, even the most biased critic must agree that the lot of the ordinary man and woman has been improved to an almost unbelieveable degree during the last century and a half. Yet, this amazing improvement in living standards has taken place without the loss of personal freedoms. In point of fact, freedom has been expanded. Socialists will, of course, argue that this improvement is due not to voluntary concessions by capitalists, but to the constant fight waged by the workers against the employers; and that argument, whilst far from being the whole story, has a considerable degree of merit. It is not wholly true, because. history can point to many crusades by employers themselves to improve the welfare of their employees. My grandfather, who was far from being a socialist, was responsible for introducing the S-hour day in England in 1S90.
The vital, all-important point to remember, but one which socialists overlook, is that it is the free enterprise system which permits this fight for better conditions to take place. Socialism does not permit it, but free enterprise cannot stop it. The free enterprise system provides protection for the weak against the human failings of greed and a craving for power, failings which exist to a minor or major degree in each individual. This protection is inseparable from the system for the simple reason that the employee has the right to choose his employer. There are so many thousands of employers, all of whom must have labour, that no one, or group, of them is sufficiently powerful to say to an employee, “ I refuse to permit you or your union to fight for better conditions”. Under the free enterprise system, any employer, who tried to adopt those tactics would soon find himself without labour and would be forced into bankruptcy. Under socialism, the Government becomes the . only employer and can then say to the worker, “ You or your union cannot fight for better conditions, because there is no one else for whom you can work. You either work for us on our terms, or you starve. Don’t forget that we also control the dole and, under nationalized banking, your union funds.” A socialist government, being the only employer of labour, can also say to an employee, “ We will not permit you to leave your job or to strike, because if you do we will see that you do not get a job in any other industry “. The other great protection which the free enterprise system gives to the worker is . that the employer has no political power over the employee. .The employer does, not make the law, nor does he control the police force. This arrangement guarantees the worker the right to fight for more and more improvements of his conditions. The fight is fair because the police are there as referees to see that the fight is conducted according to the law which is made by a parliament freely elected by both contestants. Under socialism this protection is lost completely. When the Government becomes the sole employer, the worker is up against a boss who, not only makes the rules, but also controls the referee and the purse. Actual experience in socialist countries has shown that the worker is deprived of all rights in these circumstances.
What does experience show in a century and a half of free enterprise in Australia? What standards have we reached under capitalism since the first fleet landed settlers in this country? We have attained a living standard which has never been equalled in a socialist country and which is surpassed only, perhaps, in the United States of America. Hours of work have been reduced from 70 a week a century ago to less than 40 a. week at present. Productivity has been increased by 300 per cent, in the last hundred years and the per capita income of workers has matched that rise in pro-, ductivity. Despite housing shortages, there is a dwelling for every four people and the average house contains five rooms apart from a laundry and bathroom. Considerably more than half these homes are owned by those who live in them or. are being paid off.’ Eighty per cent, of all homes have electricity and running water. There is a wireless set for every four people including children and enough motor vehicles to take every one for a drive at the same time. For every four employees there is one employer or one who is self-employed and every employee is free to become self-employed or to become an employer. Illiteracy is practically unknown. Infantile mortality is extremely low and our expectation of life is high. Nobody goes hungry. An average of an hour’s work in this country will enable us .to buy as much food as an hour’s work in any other country. With a population of 9,000,0.00 men, women and children we have standards of mental, physical and cultural development which enable us to do more than hold our own in world competition, especially in the arts and in sport.
This country is subject to more upsetting material and man-made obstacles to progress than are most countries. We have bush fires, droughts, floods, a sparsely settled population and long distances to travel to international markets. But despite these factors and many others, Australia has a stable economy. Even in the early 1930’s conditions were far better in Australia than in any other country. These are some of the highlights in the free enterprise story, Australian edition. From other free enterprise countries come similar stories of rising production and living standards. These stories are indicative of the dignity of man. They tell of the encouragement and development of initiative and personal responsibility, of rising living standards, of democratic government, and of free men working together for the satisfaction of achievement, sure of a reward for their labour. The core of the free enterprise system is production for a profit. How large has that profit been in Australia? For the twenty years from the beginning of the last depression, the average dividend paid to shareholders in all companies in Australia was only 5 per cent, of shareholders’ funds. In 1951, of an estimated national income nf £3,100,000,000 dividend payments amounted to a bare £80,000,000 and much of this sum was taxable.
Our problem in this country is not one of changing the ownership of the- means of production but of preserving and expanding our free enterprise economy. Our immediate problem is one of reducing our level of costs so that we may be able to maintain our existing international markets and maintain our improvement of living standards. In this regard, f suggest that profit sharing and wage incentive schemes should have the attention of all thinking Australians. Whilst these systems may have little application to primary production they are a matter of direct concern to primary producers and to the electors of Gwydir which I have the honour to represent because they are a means of reducing, the level of costs. The electorate of Gwydir is actually and potentially one of the richest regions in Australia. It is a primary producing area and some idea of its present contribution to the wealth of this country may be gained from the figures which I shall now cite. Last year Gwydir produced 90,000,000 lb. of wool, valued at £30,000,000, from 10,000,000 sheep. This represented one-sixth of the total amount produced in New South Wales. Almost one-quarter of the area sown to wheat in New South Wales last year was in Gwydir and the yield per acre in that electorate was substantially above the State average as was the baking quality also. Gwydir produces approximately one-fifth of the fat lambs of New South Wales. Thus, as these figures prove, Gwydir contributes heavily to the national wealth of Australia. Its pastoral and agricultural products, go to swell our export trade and build up our overseas funds and it is because of this contribution, that we in Gwydir are so closely affected by the level of costs in Australia. As the Tariff Board stated in its last report -
There is no escape from a recognition of the level of costs in other countries, so long as we have to buy from them and sell to them.’ Australia is dependent on other countries for a large part of its income - the proceeds from exports. Export income, which is derived principally from primary products, depends firstly upon our having exports to sell, and secondly, on our being able to secure a general level of prices that matches costs of production. A succession of bad seasons, or a substantial reduction in world prices - neither of which is within our control - would at present be disastrous.
However, the report went on to point out that it is within our control to establish a cost and price level in this country that would encourage maximum export production, enable us to hold existing or expanded markets, and provide n, reserve against adversity.
The Commonwealth Arbitration Court in delivering its judgment on the basic wage standard hours case made the following statement”: -
There is much room for a greater productive effort on the part of all sections of the com munity. Unless this is achieved, our production costs will continue to be a menace to employment in those of our secondary industries whose products compete in Australia with imported manufactures, and even more so in those which are dependent for expansion . . upon being able to compete in other than our home market.
Again, more recently in the margins case, the court expressed similar views. In the consideration of ways in .which our costs may be reduced, I wish to drawattention to the growing trend towards the sharing of profits of industry with employees. A wage incentive research group, formed recently by the Institute of Industrial Management in Melbourne, has found, first, that properly operated and soundly designed wage incentive schemes have increased the production rate in certain firms from 20 per cent, to 50 per cent.; secondly, that incentives have increased workers’” earnings from .10 per cent, to 75 per cent., and even, more, above award rates; and, thirdly, that in addition to increased output and substantially increased earnings of employees, lower overhead cost3 and lower labour costs have resulted. Profit sharing and wage incentive schemes have .proved themselves in this country, and are’ here to stay. They are a natural and inevitable result of the free enterprise system. Any opposition to their further expansion in this country can only serve to damage the continuing growth of prosperity, and rob the workers of increased earnings.
Experience in America has shown that the sharing df profits is increasing in popularity at a steady and impressive rate. The Council of Profit-sharing Industries in the United States of America, in its report for the year 1953, claimed that its membership had grown by almost one-third in one year, and embraced firms in the United States of America, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Chile. The total number of employees of member firms was 750,000 at that time. All those men and women were, and are, enjoying the benefits of profit sharing. This great movement, then, is something which we cannot resist in Australia, and I submit that we should do all in our power to advance its progress, if necessary, by legislative action. However great or small its contribution may be to the efficiency of industry, we know that it will be beneficial. Any scheme which can, at the one time, help to raise our living standards and reduce our costs is worthy of the greatest encouragement. The Christian principles which underlie the philosophy of sharing profits are the same as those which are the very fount of our free enterprise system. Those principles are: - Recognition of the importance and dignity of each individual in the community, and the right of each to exercise his own free will. So long as I remain a member of this chamber, I shall strive to observe and uphold those principles.
.- May I be the first to congratulate the new honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Allan) on a very fine exposition of hi.-: political philosophy, and on his example of good elocution in delivering it. I congratulate him. with all the more warmth because I think that before he entered this chamber I was the tallest member in it. May I express the hope that, however long he stays here, he will never be so lofty as some of those who sit on the other side of the House. I also express the confident opinion that, if he is spared long in this chamber, he will be amongst the most eminent members of the Australian Country party.
I am particularly impressed at the tenets of the honorable .member for Gwydir, because he was, until he entered this House, an employee of a great socialist enterprise, the Australian Broadcasting Commission. That body, which was established a little more than twenty years ago, has done more than any other body in the history of Australia to spread culture, in its best meaning, and appreciation of drama, music and the arts among all the people of Australia, outback as well as in the cities. It is a body which, alone among the mass media in this country, presents a fair and unvarnished version of Australian and overseas nsws, and, incidentally, of the proceedings of this House. I am in some doubt whether the Australian Broadcasting Commission perhaps lost more than we gained when it lost the voice that breathed o’er Gwydir from station 2NU.
During this debate which, in the manner of Supply, Budget, Appropriation and Estimates debates, has roamed the whole world from Indo-China to Peru and from one end of this country to the other, many indications have been given of the virtues of the Government by its supporters, and of the vices of the Government by the Opposition. However, there are a few indications which I also desire to state. I do not wish to pluck them out of the air. In fact, I shall refer to official publications issued, in the most part, by the Commonwealth Statistician under the auspices, if not with the blessing, of the present Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden). The right honorable gentleman has made reference to loans. It probably is a matter of some gratification to him that in the present financial year he has raised more money on the loan market than he succeeded in raising in the previous financial year. Of course, in the previous financial year, this Government managed to raise less money on the loan market than any preceding government had raised since the outbreak of World War II. That is to say, in peace, and war, no preceding government succeeded in losing public confidence so completely as did this Government in the financial year 1952-53. By that standard, this financial year has been some success. By the standards of previous years, its results are still very poor. And at what price has the loan been filled on this occasion ? The net amount which has been raised during the current financial year is £112,000,000. To raise that amount, the Treasurer had to offer 4f per cent, on long-term loans and 3£ per cent, on short-term loans.
– The Treasurer offered 44 per cent, on long-term loans.
– I accept the correction of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt). He is entitled to clutch at straws. The Chifley Labour Government before it was defeated in 1949, was filling long-term loans at 3£ per cent, and short-term loans at.. 2 per cent. Honorable members will note that under the present free enterprise, non-socialist Government, the interest rate has risen from 2 per cent, to 3i per cent, for short-term loans, and from 3$ per cent, to 4£ per cent, for longterm loans. The consequence is that we and our children and our children’s children will pay more for the things which we build now than we would have had to pay had a Labour government remained in office.
– Rubbish !
– I hardly recognized the Celtic clown from Riverina.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman will withdraw that remark.
– He used a good Australian word and caught me off my guard.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman must withdraw his remark.
– I withdraw it. On this aspect of loans, the Government may take what comfort it can from the fact that it has slightly raised itself out of the trough into which it sank in the previous financial year, but it can take no comfort from the fact that in order to do so it has had to increase interest rates by more than 50 per cent, and so burden our descendants.
– Does not the Australian Loan Council decide interest rates?
– The honorable gentleman, or perhaps I should have said the right honorable gentleman - it is hard to keep up with the honours which fall thick and fast - has referred to the Australian Loan Council. I would have no complaint with the decisions of the council if they were implemented, but we know full well that for the last two years its decisions have not been implemented. For the first time in more than twenty years, and for the first time since the Lang Government in New South Wales defied the decisions of the council, an Australian Government has now done so. During the last financial year, and also during the present financial year, the free enterprise parties which now occupy the Government benches in this House have defied the decisions of the Australian Loan Council. They have been able to do so because even the High Court of Australia cannot supervise a campaign to raise loans. This year, £200,000,000 of loan finance is required for public works. The sum of £112,000,000 has been raised at very great cost, leaving up to £S8,000,000 to be found from treasury-bills. We .have beard something .about finance by the printing press and also of finance by treasurybills. This free enterprise Government has resorted to the use of treasury-bills more than has :any previous peace-time Australian Government. Burdensome as it may be for members of the Government to be faced with figures in these matters, the fact is that when they came to office in 1949, there were approximately £120,000,000 of treasury-bills outstanding. At the end of the last financial year the figure was £225,000,000, which means that in peace-time, under a free enterprise government, the value of outstanding treasury-bills has doubled. That record should be compared with that of the socialist government which was alleged to be leading Australia downhill financially until the Australian people were “ saved “ from it in December, 1949. At the end of June, 1946, there were £343,000,000 worth of treasury-bills outstanding. At the end of the financial year 1946-47 that total had decreased to £278,000,000. By the end of the financial year 1947-48 it had decreased to £208,000,000, and by the end of the financial years 1948-49 it had been reduced to £123”000,000. That means that in the post-war period, under a socialist government, the value of treasury-bills outstanding decreased from £343,000,000 to £120,000,000, a process which has been reversed under the free enterprise system.
I pass now to something which does not concern the country as a whole but which concerns individual people who, in many instances, were lured into supporting this Government by a most attractively presented policy speech, no less attractive because it proved to be fallacious or because it may have been intended to be fallacious. This Government has had a profound effect on the fortunes of small businessmen in this country. It is an alarming fact that the number of bankruptcies in the last financial year was double that of the last year of office of the previous Labour Government. In 1949-50 there were 333 bankruptcies in Australia. In the financial year 1952-53 there were 636, and for the period from the 1st July, 1953, to the end of January last, there were 312. That means that after approximately four and a half years of free-enterprise government the number of bankruptcies in seven months was almost as great as it was in twelve months under a socialist government.
– How about suicides?
– I do not propose to refer to suicides. I remember the cases of Sir Thomas Henley, M.L.A., and the Honorable H. M. Hawkins, M.L.C., but I do not wish to be personal about people of political affiliations similar to those of honorable members on the other side of the House.
– Then why did the honorable member mention names?
– Because some one referred to suicides. We are all aware of the scandals which have disfigured parliamentary life. However, I shall forbear to recall the suicides which resulted from attempts to conceal the true nature of those scandals.
Another indication of prosperity in this country is the number of immigrants who find Australia attractive. I refer to the number of persons who are prepared to come here and endeavour to make their fortunes. Under this freeenterprise Government, during the last four and a half years the net immigration into Australia has been less than it wa3 in 1948, which was the last year but. one under the socialist government. In 1948 the net increase of population on account of immigration was 48,468 persons, whereas in 1949, which was the last year of the socialist government, it was 149,270. In 1953 it was only 42,583 persons. That indicates that after four and a half years of the freeenterprise system in this country prospective immigrants find Australia less attractive than it was under the socialist system and the immigration administration of the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell).
The rate of building might also be taken as an indication of the record of this Government. It has been said that only 75 per cent, of the houses which are being built each year are needed to house persons who marry here or who come here from other countries. Yet the latest figures available, which are those for the September quarter of 1953, disclose that fewer houses were completed in that quarter than were completed in the corresponding quarter of the preceding year. Similarly, fewer houses were under construction in that quarter than in the corresponding quarter of the preceding year. In the September quarter of 1952, 20,261 houses were completed in Australia, whereas in the corresponding quarter of last year 18,179 were completed. In the September quarter of 1.952, 78,537 houses were under construction in Australia and in the corresponding quarter of last year there were 71,681 under construction.
It may be said that housing is a private or a State matter. In that regard let us look at the record of this Government. By deliberate means, that of financial pressure, the interest rate was increased and the availability of loans for housing decreased and private persons found it very hard to build. Again, under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, which provides public housing for persons who are in need or who are in transit, the Commonwealth has broken a. contract with the States. For three years it has linked the amounts made available to the States under the agreement with the loan programme, a procedure which” was never intended to take place. Only twothirds of the total amount that the States were entitled to receive under the agreement has been made available to them by this Government, and the consequence is that 20,000 houses which would have been built by the State governments during the last three years have not been built because of the default of this Government in failing to carry out its obligations, to which, incidentally, it could have put an end by giving one year’s notice of its intention to terminate the agreement. However, instead of abrogating the agreement in an honorable way, it has just put the squeeze on the State governments, which, under the Constitution as it is at present, have to carry out public housing.
Another matter in which the Australian Government cannot blame the State Governments, because indubitably it has been responsible in this matter for over a generation, is the provision of war service homes. The amount made available annually for war service homes has appeared unchanged in the last three budgets.
– That is not correct.
– Although the amount provided in the last three budgets has been £28,000,000 on each occasion, the repayments in each year have increased. In that respect only may my statement be said to be incorrect. In the current financial year, the amount provided for new war service homes is £28,000,000. The amounts of repayments will be £8,000,000. In the last financial year, the amount provided was £28,000,000 and the amount of repayments was £7,263,453. In the year before that, the amount made available was £28,000,000 and repayments amounted to £6,47i5,954. In 1960-61, the amount provided was £25,071,548 and repayments amounted to £4,854,757. Thus, in fact, the cost to the Government of war service homes has decreased by £1,000,000 in each of the last four years.
– What happened during the last four years of Labour administration ?
– Under the socialist government, the amount made available for war service homes and the number of houses erected increased every year. Under the free enterprise Government, the amount made available has remained the same and the number of houses has declined. I defy any honorable member to show that the amount of £28,000,000 provided for war service homes has been exceeded in any of the last three financial years. Under the free enterprise Government, the number of war service homes built has decreased each year. This year the number will be about 10,000. Last year it was 12,422. The year before that it was 15,388. The total has decreased steadily over the last four years because of galloping inflation under this free enterprise Government. The amount made available has remained constant each year, but the amount of repayments has increased. So, by a sleight-of-hand trick, the Government is actually saving £1,000,000 extra every year.
According to the Supply papers that we are now debating, the amount of £2S,000,000 a year for war service homes construction will remain constant if this Government is returned to office at the forthcoming general election because provision is made in the papers for onethird of £28,000,000 to be set aside for war service homes for the first four months of 1954-55. Quite apart from these facts is the waiting period that now applies to applicants for financial aid under the war service homes scheme. After all plans for a war service home have been approved, the ex-serviceman must wait for at least sixteen months before he can obtain his advance. That never happened under the socialist regime. Then the ex-serviceman was able to obtain his money immediately. I have dealt in some detail with war service homes because they represent an aspect of housing for which this Government cannot escape its responsibility. For the first time in over a generation there is a waiting period for war service homes and the number of houses constructed under the scheme is decreasing. Another matter that affects ex-servicemen is that of war pensions. Under the present Government, the values of war pensions and all associated benefits provided under the Repatriation Act, whether they be related to the basic wage or to the “ C “ series index, disregarding the prosperity loadings that have been applied to the basic wage, in former years, are less now than at any time since war pensions were instituted 40 years ago.
I come now to another item which has not been mentioned previously in this debate but which is causing grave concern to SO per cent, of Australians - all those who are in receipt of wages and salaries. I refer to the basic wage and the margins that have been added to it. The Government has adopted a most pusillanimous attitude on this issue. It has been very happy to hide behind the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, the membership of which it has doubled since it has been in power. Had a socialist government doubled the membership of the court, it would have been said that the court had been stacked. But a free enterprise government, of course, just makes appointments so that the court can cope with the rush of business. The court has frozen the basic wage for the first time in 30 years. The Government did not assist it to make any decision in the matter. The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) is entitled to be represented before the court in any matter of that nature, but the Attorney-General, a taciturn man, was of no assistance to the court. He did not prompt the court overtly to maintain the system under which Australia had staggered- along under socialist and free enterprise governments for 30 years. He was of no help at all. I say quite frankly that a socialist government at least would have made some point of view on the issue known to the court. Decisions in such important matters should not be left to bodies that are not responsible to the people. We should not allow wages to be decided by a court without giving it some guidance. We should not allow tariffs, and accordingly the cost of imported goods or the protection of our industries, to be left to the Tariff Board without giving it some guidance.
– Apparently the Labour party considers that it has to tell the people what is good for them.
– The people’s representatives should have- the courage to express a point of view and to go to the people in support of it. For four and a half years this Government has notoriously failed to do so. For its first eighteen months it was busy priming the pump for the double dissolution and boosting inflation for its own political ends.
– I rise to order. I was under the impression that the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) commenced his speech at 9.25 p.m.
– He commenced it at 9.19 p.m. according to my reading of the clock.
– It was my intention to speak in this debate only upon the subject of health. ir
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order ! The honorable member for Oxley will resume his seat until the House comes to order. When honorable members have finished moving about and talking, we shall proceed.
– It was LIly intention to limit my remarks to health, hut honorable members have listened to such an extraordinary speech and one so misleading that I intend to devote a few of my opening comments to the statements that have been made by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam). The honorable member regaled the House with figures relating to the declining rate of house construction, and the sums of money that have been made available for that purpose. I shall give honorable members actual figures and deal first with war service homes. At the close of 1949, various governments had been erecting war service homes over a period of 30 years. During that period, 54,541 war service homes had been provided ‘ by .all governments of the Commonwealth. In three and a half years, the present Government has provided no fewer than 4S,784 homes which is a figure equal to 80 per cent, of the number of all war service homes erected by all previous governments. Money provided by the present Government in the course of four years for the provision of houses has totalled £226,000,000. In four years, the Labour Government, which has been unashamedly described by the honorable member for Werriwa as the socialist government, spent £88,000,000 on housing.
The maximum loan provided by the Labour Government for the construction of a war service home was limited to £2,000 and a deposit of 10 per cent, was required. The Liberal-Country party Government increased the maximum loan to £2,750 and reduced the minimum deposit to £175. Those are the correct figures. In the last three years of office of the Labour Government or, if the honorable member for Werriwa prefers, the socialist government, it provided 140,016 houses for general housing. In the past three years during the regime of the present Government, 227,565 houses have been provided. In four years, the Chifley Government advanced £56,000,000 to the States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. In the past four years the Menzies Government has advanced £115,000,000 for the same purpose. In the face of those figures I am sure that honorable members will agree that the speech delivered by the honorable member for Werriwa was misleading and intentionally so.
The honorable member for Werriwa said that this Government had frozen the basic wage and added that if a socialist government had been in power, it would have given the Commonwealth Arbitration Court guidance. In remarkable fashion, the honorable membet delicately indicated that he was, in fact, advocating that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court should no longer be a free agent. In almost as many words, he declared the intention of the Australian Labour party to subject the court to the direction of a socialist government. The honorable member also decried the Tariff Board. Independent, impartial authorities are anathema to him and the rest of the socialist party. He is one of those who are prepared to bring the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, the Tariff Board and every other fair and independent authority under the influence and direction of thu government of the day. I am forced to the conclusion that he would be perfectly willing to put the basic wage up for auction-
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. Is it correct for the House to continue while one complete section of honorable members representing the Australian Country party is absent from the chamber ?
– Order! If the honorable member is calling attention to the state of the House, I can do something about it. Is the honorable member doing so?
– I have not counted the honorable members present yet, Mr. Speaker. The situation to which I have drawn attention is so unusual-
– Order ! The honorable member is entirely out of order.
– It is curious, but whenever one subjects the principles of honorable members of the Opposition side to criticism they do not like it. I shall direct my attention now to the subject of health and contrast the provision for health that has been made by the present Government and that made by the previous Labour Government. I shall refer first to the pensioners because the Labour or socialist members, as they seem to prefer to be called, of this House continually try to pose as champions of the pensioners. It is interesting to consider what they have done for the pensioners in the sphere of health. For the first time in Australia, the Liberal-Country party Government has provided for the pensioners a free medical service under which pensioners last year received 3,220,000 medical treatments and 2,600,000 free prescriptions. The Government also provided for the pensioners free public ward hospital benefits at a cost of 12s. a day. The Labour party provided nothing at all. The present Government has provided for 750,000 school children one-third of a pint of milk each on every school day. The Labour Government provided nothing for them. The present Government has provided life-saving and disease-preventing drugs to everybody in the community who required them. The prescriptions of at least 10.000 doctors totalled 10,000,000 and the cost was £8,000,000. The Labour party provided stereotyped prescriptions on a limited list prescribed by 150 doctors whose prescriptions totalled 400,000. This Government has provided free drugs to all hospital patients, including those in public wards. The Labour party expressly excluded public ward patients from the benefit of free drugs. I shall contrast our provision of medical services with the Labour Government’s provision of them. We have provided for the payment of Commonwealth and approved fund benefits covering from -75 to 90 per cent, of doctors’ fees, with a wide range of benefits covering treatment of practically all illnesses by general practitioners and most specialist services. In this matter the Labour party accomplished nothing. It produced a scheme that was rejected, first, by the medical profession, and later by- the whole . Australian electorate at the next general election. The total contributions to medical services made by this Government amounted to £36,000,000, plus £5,000,000 from insurance payments, in 1953-54. The Labour party provided only £6,000,000 for this purpose in 1948-49. I could give instanceafter instance of the difference in the treatment of public health by this Government and its predecessor. It all add up to the fact that the Labour party has never understood the problem of public health. It has never dealt with it in a realistic way, or succeeded in providing a decent medical service or in getting the sympathy, understanding or cooperation of the medical profession.
I wish to make , a few remarks about the order in which the Government’sscheme has been put into operation. First, I should like to remind the House why it is necessary for us to have some sort of national health scheme. Such a scheme is necessary in a modern community because the cost of modern medical services, drugs, investigatory and general treatment, has become so high, owing to the rapid advance of modern discoveries, that in every country it has become more than the individual can fairly cope with. It has become obvious, therefore, that if public health were to be maintained, the first duty of any government was to ensure that this problem of providing medical services was dealt with first. I stress this point because one of the favorite declarations of honorable members opposite is that any health scheme should first deal with what they call, in vague terms, “ positive health “. Nobody, including themselves, is quite sure what they mean by that term. Why the Government chose to deal with the medical services aspect first was because this was the provision of modern medical treatment which bore most heavily on the population. It was therefore one of the first steps towardsproviding a health service that was taken by the Government: It is easy to think of alternative methods of treatment of the problem, but all of them are not only immensly more complicated than the system that the Government has introduced, but are also immensly more expensive to the taxpayer. I direct the attention of the House to the interesting fact that in the year in which this medical, scheme was introduced, in which it cost approximately £30,000,000, the Government was able’ to reduce takes by m-8,000^00.
Broadly speaking, the scheme falls into five divisions, the first of which is the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. This is a scheme for the provision of modern drugs, and is expensive to operate. The modern drugs which are provided under this scheme, are, as the House knows, carefully selected and placed on the list by a highly expert committee. The list is not static, but is altered from time to time as new drugs are produced, or as old ones go out of use. All the effective modern drugs which have so completely revolutionized the treatment of disease are placed on the list by this expert committee and are paid for by the Government without direct cost to the patient. That is the first step that has been taken to make modern medical services available to the community. The second step was a scheme which one might call a national insurance scheme, by which, for the payment of a small weekly sum, any member of the community may insure himself and his family with what are known as approved societies. Nobody, least of all the Government, pretends that this scheme is perfect. However, the Government can claim that it covers all of what we might call the “ Practice of Domestic Medicine “ and that it preserves, as no other scheme preserves, the traditional relationship that has always existed in Australia between the family doctor and his patient. The Government can also claim that it is a practical scheme which works, that it has started on the right lines and can be steadily expanded, and that it is, in fact, catering for the vast majority of Australians; not only that, but is based on sound lines that have been approved by medical opinion not only in Australia but all over the world. That is in great contrast to the scheme introduced by the previous Government, which, as I pointed out a few moments ago, never worked.
The third division of the scheme is the provision of a similar insurance scheme to cover, the cost of hospital ‘ treatment. The simple facts are that, in spite of statements to the contrary, this scheme is actually providing many more beds for Austraiian hospitals, and actually rehabilitating their finances, as no other scheme could possibly do.
The fourth section of the scheme, as the Minister for Health (Sir
Earle Page) informed the House to-day, has made a real attack on the problem of tuberculosis in this country. If honorable members like to use the vague expression “ positive health “ then 1 suppose they could call this a step in the direction of positive health, but, at any rate, it has most effectively commenced an attack on the great and grave problem of tuberculosis. It is an attack on this dreadful disease on a scale never before known in Australia, or in any other country. Those are solid achievements, and are real things that this Government has given to this country. The Government has a record in health that no other government in Australian history has even approached.
The fifth section of the scheme is that which provides free medical services for pensioners. I have spoken about this matter in this chamber on previous occasions, and I do not intend to repeat its details. Everybody will agree that the scheme is a great boon to pensioners. I merely wish to point out that its greatest merit is the fact, not that it provides free medical services for pensioners^ although that is a great merit, but that.it does so in their own homes or in the surgeries of the doctors of their choice. In other words, it preserves for people who are old or who are chronic invalids the personal relationship between themselves and their family doctor that they were able to maintain before, which is the basis of all really good medicine in all countries.
Those are the five sections of this scheme and I say, without hesitation, that it is a great tribute to the Government that it has been able to put such a scheme into operation in the face of such great opposition from the Labour party. Finally, I wish to direct the attention of the House to the fact that some time ago the World Medical Association held a meeting at which it considered the medical aspects of social security. I have a report of the meeting here, but I do not intend to read it all to the House. I wish, however, to point out that the World Medical Association, formed of doctors and health experts from all over the world, laid down, in relation to the medical aspects of social security, certain factors which it considered were essential to a really good scheme of national health. Here are some of them -
Freedom of choice of physician by the patient.
Liberty of the physician to choose the patient except in cases of urgency or humanitarianism.
No intervention of a third party between physician and patient.
Honorable members will remember that intervention by a third party was an objectionable feature of the scheme which the Labour party sought to implement in 1949. The document continues -
Where a medical service is to be subjected tn control, this control should be exercised by physicians.
Freedom of choice of a hospital by a patient.
All of those are embodied in the legislation that has been placed on the statutebooks by this Government. The conclusions of the World Medical Association included the following passage: -
Tin: fundamental aim of a social security scheme should be to raise the individual to a level at which he can help himself. From this it follows that any social security scheme should contain elements that encourage selfreliance and a sense of personal responsibility, and that any social security scheme should stress the obligation of the individual to make at least part of his contribution directly to the functioning and costs of the scheme.
Those principles are al] embodied in the scheme that has been launched by the Minister for Health and which, I believe is bringing great benefits to the Australian people. In this debate we have canvassed many of the achievements of this Government. They make a most impressive list, and not the least of them is the great contribution that the Government has made, far exceeding that of any of its predecessors, to the health and wellbeing of the Australian nation.
Mr. CURTIN (Watson) [10.12J.- The three long soul-destroying years of the term, of office of the Menzies-Fadden regime have been notable for the sale of many of the peoples’ assets. They include the Glen Davis shale oil project, and the Commonwealth’s holdings in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited and in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. Then we had the infamous Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited agreement by means of which the Government sought to destroy the splendid Trans-Australia Airlines organization set up by the
Chifley Government to ensure the rehabilitation of our airmen of World War II. Repeated attempts have been made to sell the Commonwealth shipping line and so to leave Australian exporters at the mercy of the rapacious overseas shipping combines. However, all these actions of our ill-fated Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) pale into insignificance when they are compared with the betrayal of the great Australian nation to the Japanese Government. How any one with a shred of patriotism in his makeup can be willing to sell his country to a foreign nation is beyond my comprehension and, I am sure, beyond that of all my fellow Australians. The abuse of the power that was entrusted to the Prime Minister by the people of Australia should be gravely considered and analysed when the people have their say on the 29th May next.
What has prompted the Prime Minister to give his continued support to various Japanese proposals concerning Australia? First, let us consider the statement made by the right honorable gentleman in 1947 when he was endeavouring to regain the confidence of thu Australian people. He. said then that the Japanese must never again be permitted to develop the means of waging war. . He said it was no use being sentimental about Japan. Japan had broken all the laws of God and man in waging war and must not be placed in a position to launch war again. Those were the views expressed by our simple Prime Minister, and such statements deceived the people because the right honorable gentleman was returned to office in 1949. He then immediately set about breaking all the promises he had made and, by his continued support of all the proposals put forward for the rehabilitation of the Japanese nation, he has shown conclusively that he is not a fit and proper person to govern Australia. First, he approved of the release of Japanese war criminals who had been imprisoned for atrocities and other war crimes. Those criminals have now regained their prewar positions of power and are amongst the leaders of the Japanese nation. Amongst those whose release was approved by the Menzies Government were men guilty of vivisection of humans, inhuman medical experiments and ruthless slaughter of captives. Our Prime Minister has also given his full approval to a policy of re-arming the Japanese. He has given his support to a pact signed by Japan and the United States of America for a Japanese rearmament programme. Under that pact the United States of America will give Japan 1,000,000 dollars in American military and financial aid every three months for an unspecified period. I should like the people of Australia to be aware of that fact, and to realize that that is precisely the amount of money that is being expended by the Australian Government on our own defence programme. The pact wa3 welcomed also by our Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), who said in a statement reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 8th March last that the rearmament of Japan to defend itself offered no threat to Australia, provided the rearmament was limited. On- the same page of that newspaper an American Associated Press report stated that the pact did not specify that Japan should not send troops out of the country. That means of course that in spite of what the Minister for External Affairs has said Japan could, if it so desired, again march south and threaten our security.
Japanese officers are being trained at Fort Benning in Georgia, United States of America, in the “ know-how “ of the American military machine that helped to defeat Japan eight short years ago when the self-same officers and their men fought against Australian troops defending New Guinea and other Pacific islands. It is also interesting to note that when these officers finish their training, they will return to Japan to act as instructors for the Japanese army.
That is the latest picture of peace loving, democratic Japan which our Prime Minister speaks of so glibly and loves so warmly. Under the pact with America, Japan will be supplied with military aircraft - we all remember what happened at Darwin - artillery, tanks, anti-aircraft guns, electronic equipment and warships up to destroyer size. Japan will also set up its own armed forces and further, under the pact, the United States qf America military authorities are prepared to go as fast as the Japanese wish with military and economic assistance. The excuse that is given to soften the people is that the Japanese must be armed to resist aggression from Russia. It is the old, old story. One is prompted to ask what will happen if the Japanese happen to throw in their lot with Russia ? The danger to Australia would again be very real. The latest astounding news is that of the Government’s proposal that Japanese were to be used to help survey waters close to our shores. That news has had a very unsettling effect on the Australian people. This agreement, made by our spineless Government in secret with the American authorities, makes us wonder whether the Government has any regard at all for the safety and security of the great Australian nation. The very thought of responsible Ministers of the Crown even considering such a proposal makes one shudder. Have the Ministers forgotten the dark days of World War II.? ‘Have they forgotten the atrocities committed by the very people that they are prepared to allow to participate in high-level national security activities? Have they forgotten the rape of Australian nurses in islands adjacent to our shores, the machinegunning of other valiant nurses while they were struggling in the sea after the hospital ship Centaur had been torpedoed ? Have they forgotten the rape of Rabaul, the submarine attacks on Sydney Harbour and the bombing of Darwin that cost us the lives of 75 civilians? Have they forgotten the torments and sufferings inflicted on our soldiers in the prison camps of Malaya, Burma and the Pacific islands? If the Prime Minister and his Ministers have forgotten these things, shame on them ! Let me assure them immediately that the Australian people have not forgotten, and are only waiting for the opportunity on the 29th May to throw the Prime Minister and the members of his Government into political oblivion.
The sickening attitude of our Prime Minister and of honorable members who follow him towards our savage enemy of a few short years ago has engendered a feeling among the people that the Prime Minister is completely anti-Australian in outlook. We must call a halt to secret. agreements. It seems that we are returning to the bad old days of secret agreements under which one country could agree with another to do anything that the respective governments wished to do without bringing the matter to the notice of the Parliament or the people. A halt must be called to secret agreements such as that to allow the Japanese to survey waters adjacent to this continent. The danger inherent in such an action has merely been masked, and will again become apparent after the next general election if, by some miracle, this Government should be returned to office. The bitter experience of Japanese pearling (leets again operating in Australian waters under permit from this Government, and pillaging our pearl shell from our northern waters, and the reversal of the decision of the great Chifley Government never to re-admit Japanese divers to Broome in Western Australia, must horrify all those Australians who are interested in the preservation of our white Australia policy. And I say that we must keep Australia white irrespective of the detractors of the white Australia policy. That policy is necessary to this country, and when the Labour party is elected to office it will take steps to put the policy into full operation.
The Australian people must be alert to the grave danger of concessions and favours being handed out to our exenemy by the present anti-Australian Government. Day after day we hear of trade concessions being made, and import restrictions being lifted, to allow the Japanese to make further inroads into our economy. Now we witness the crowning folly of the Menzies-Fadden regime again allowing the export of scrap iron to Japan. It will be remembered that in 1940, before Japan entered the last war, the Prime Minister not only countenanced the export of scrap iron to Japan, but he also insisted on it. Honorable members remember that the waterside workers at Port Kembla, having a greater sense of patriotism than that possessed by the Prime Minister, refused to load the scrap iron into Japanese ships. The Prime Minister then introduced what we know as the transport workers “ Dog Collar Act “, and forced the waterside workers to do his bidding.
Mr. Speaker (Mr. Archie Cameron) himself must have vivid memories of that exciting period. When he was Post master-General in the ill-fated Menzies Government of the time, he withdrew the broadcasting licence of broadcasting station 2KY in Sydney, following a trenchant criticism by Mr. Morley - a news commentator - of the shipment of pig iron to Japan. No doubt Mr. Speaker would like to forget this matter, and the newspapers would also like to forget his high-handed attitude of that time now that they are busily advocating freedom of expression. The scrap iron that we sent to Japan before the last war came back to Australia in the form of bullets, shells, bombs and torpedoes which ripped out the lives of many good Australian servicemen, servicewomen and civilians. It is strange indeed to see this Government so anxious again to sell our scrap iron to rearm the Japanese nation, which is already beginning to adopt a very belligerent attitude. In that regard I quote a Mr. Nicholas, a Riverina grazier, who recently returned in the SS. Changte from a three months’ stay in Japan. A statement attributed to him was published in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 23rd March. It read -
We found tha Japanese authorities quite arrogant, and there is no doubt a militaristic attitude is creeping back, and within five years they will be where they were before the war both industrially and economically.
Another item published in the Sydney Sun of the 27th March read - “ Japanese big business was confident it could undersell western competitors in SouthEast Asia”, a Japanese bank official who arrived in Sydney by Qantas Constellation said to-day. He is Saburo Kawazoe of the foreign department of the Kobe bank. He said the Japanese government would favour big business and be against trade unions so as to reduce manufacturing costs . . . After the war, unions set up by the Occupation Government became very strong, and wages soared. But now the Japanese government will favour the capitalists and help to keepprices down. The unions are getting weaker. Japan is now rehabilitated. Everything is all right now.
Japanese of the calibre of that Kobe banker must be ever grateful to our Prime Minister for his betrayal of Australians and his assistance in fostering blackmarkets in Australia to assist Japanesespeculators in scrap iron. They also must be ever grateful to him for his assistance to them in their endeavours to rehabilitate Japanese industries, to the detriment of great Australian industries, by easing considerably our import restrictions, which will result in the release of a flood of cheaply manufactured goods from the Prime Minister’s most-favoured nation - Japan. How he loves the Japanese! The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) clasps the Japanese to his breast. He says that are no longer a threat to the Australian nation, and are a bulwark against Russian aggression. What will he say if the Japanese throw in their lot with the Russians, and the danger to this country becomes more intense?
I implore and urge all good Australian people to put a stop to these secret undercover arrangements with exenemies. This Government has let Japanese war criminals loose again. It has allowed those human vivisectionists to roam the world again, with the goodwill and acquiescence of our Prime Minister. Back-benchers of the Government parties lack the courage to revolt against a betrayal of our beloved country. I repeat that secret under-cover arrangements with ex-enemies must be stopped. Australians, I urge you to destroy this pro-Japanese Government. We should not allow pro-Japanese sentiment to exist in this country. Keep Australia white. On the 29th May, an opportunity will be delivered into your hands to throw out these pro-Japanese sentimentalists. People of Australia, I know that, with your Australian sentiment, your love for your great country and your hatred of people who succour and assist pro- Japanese elements in our midst, you will ensure the return of a Labour administration whose first principles are the defence of our great nation and the strengthening of our great steel industry. A Labour administration would prohibit the export of scrap iron from this country to Japan or anywhere else. That would strengthen our steel industry, which is the basis of all our secondary industries. Labour would preserve full employment in Australia, instead of breaking down all our trade barriers and creating unemployment here and full employment in Japan, as our Prime Minister so warmly desires. People of Australia, vote for the party that will put our great indus tries on a sound footing, and ensure that our scrap iron will be diverted to the proper channel’s and1 functions. Those functions are not the manufacture for the Japanese Government of bullets, bombs and shells that could be- used to rip the bodies of Australian soldiers again. A Labour administration would ensure that our scrap iron was used to make Australian ships, aeroplanes, bullets and torpedoes to guard Australia and protect our unguarded north, which, under this Government, is becoming more vulnerable from day to day. When the Australian people go to the polls on the 29th May, they will remember that the policy of the Australian Labour party is, above all, to keep Australia white.
.- The importance that the Opposition attaches to this debate is shown by the fact that to-night it has put forward its brains trust to present its case. I refer to the two “ W’s “, the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) and the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam). The kindest thing. I can say about the speech just delivered by the honorable member for Watson is that the honorable member misused the truth about as often as he misused the Queen’s English. [Quorum formed.] It is obvious that the reason why the seats on this side of the chamber were practically empty just now was that it was difficult for members of the Government parties to sit here and listen to the vast number of untruths uttered by the honorable member for Watson.
– Order ! The honorable member must not use the word “ untruths “. I ask him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it._ The honorable member for Werriwa delighted us with his usual outpouring of socialistic doctrine and his obvious desire to do something about the courts in Australia. It is rather odd that he has had to come into this Parliament to be placed in a position in which he can influence our courts. He made it clear to us that his ambition and that of his party is to dictate to our arbitration courts and that, if he had the power to do so, he would dictate to them. Political dictation to the arbitration courts of this country would effectively strangle them, and permit politicians to decide the hours, wages and working conditions of Australian workers. That is Labour’s declared policy. I recall that on a previous occasion the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) in this very place made it perfectly clear, to use his own words, that Parliament should have the right ultimately in the public interest to step in, if necessary, and override the decision of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. When the honorable member was asked if he suggested that hours, wages and conditions should become political footballs, he answered, “ Yes, I do “. Labour’s policy on the question of industrial arbitration has become very plain over the last six months, firstly through the outspoken, uninhibited member for Hindmarsh, when he said that Parliament should have the right to override the decisions of the court, and then again to-night .through the equally uninhibited member for Werriwa when he said that the Government should have the power to dictate to the court. The people of Australia should take cognizance of these egotistical, dangerous utterances by members of the socialist party, because they do represent a very solid and definite threat to this country. Those utterances indicate to the people, of Australia, if they will only listen, the despotic power that the socialists desire.
Recently, one of the senior members of the socialist Labour party wandered through Queensland. The sole object of this tour through that State, in which union membership is compulsory, was to persuade the trade union organization in Queensland to impose a compulsory levy of 10s. on every trade unionist in the State for Labour’s campaign funds for the forthcoming election.
– A voluntary levy.
– It was a compulsory levy upon every trade unionist in Queensland for the purpose of fighting Labour’s election campaign. That story of compulsion has awakened the people of Queensland at least to some of Labour’s despotic aims, because they are rebelling against it. Whether a person subscribes to a fighting fund for any political party is a question of his own belief and inclination, but the Australian Labour party seeks to compel everybody to subscribe to its fighting funds for the simple reason that the people of Australia have lost so much faith in the party that it will not have the funds unless it cornpells the people to provide them.
– Is it not worth 10s. to keep Australia quiet?
– I would give a “ quid “ to keep the honorable member for Watson quiet. Those straws in the wind are a true indication of the socialistic aims of the Australian Labour party and of the threat that confronts the Australian nation as it faces an election in the very near future. The people should know about that threat and should be warned about it. Those few quiet, thinking, responsible members who sit opposite, few as they are, should take notice of the manner in which their party is drifting into the hands of the socialist? and the Communists and towards the ultimate overthrow of democracy and freedom in this Australia of ours. It is all very well for the honorable member for Watson to talk about the dangers that exist from without and the power that might come upon us to destroy us, but I assure the honorable member that he holds within his own hands the power of socialism, which will ultimately lead to communism, such as has destroyed, in our own generation, many other free countries. The honorable member would be an active instrument in bringing about complete socialism in Australia if he had his way.
Another danger that confronts Australia as a result of this dreadful socialist policy is the drift towards the overthrow of the federal system and the drift, if I may use the words of the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) to an Australian Labour party conference in Sydney last year, towards a one-party state. Honorable members opposite advocate a compulsory levy of trade unionists in order to raise funds for a political party, dictatorship to the Arbitration Court, and one party to rule Australia! It sounds very much like Hitler and his Germany, very much like Mussolini and his Italy. It is all very well for us to say, “tt cannot happen here “. It can happen here, and the people who can bring it about are those honorable members opposite who, in their ignorance perhaps, are driving themselves headlong towards disaster. If they gain the power, unfortunately they will draw us all with them. Where Labour governments exist in Australia, this tendency towards a one-party, onegovernment State continues. When a deputation waits on a State Labour Premier, the deputation is invariably told to go to Canberra. They are passing on to Canberra request after request from local authorities, harbour boards and trusts, and other organizations within the States. I sec in this tendency a very grave danger. [ see in it a very definite drive towards Labour’s objective of one government for Australia and the overthrow of the federal system. As surely as people continue to come to Canberra and say, “ Give us this “ or “ Give us that “, and as surely as Canberra .says to those people, “ Yes “ or “ *Ko “, just so surely Canberra takes to itself more power. If Canberra grants such a request, it naturally assumes that it has the power and the authority to do so. I do not believe that any honorable member opposite, although this state of affairs may come in his time, will govern Australia; I believe that the Communists, whose tools those honorable members are at present, will overthrow them.
We must guard against these things. We must ensure that the States assume their own responsibilities and that the politician in Canberra, whoever he is, shall not take unto himself the power to dictate what shall happen or what shall not happen in any of the States. I frequently look at my own State and think how much better off it would be if this Government were able to say to the State governments, “Here is the money that we must pass over to you, but you must spend it on A, B, C, D and E “. It is very easy for me to say that, because I have seen a tremendous waste of public money in my own State of Queensland. The sooner we get back to the position where everybody accepts his own responsibility, the better the nation will be. Almost each year as long as I have lived, Queensland virtually has been cut in two be cause there has not been an adequate bridge across the Burdekin Paver. Each year floods cover the bridge, trains are delayed, food is kept away from the north of Queensland and the people cannot travel backwards and forwards. Each year promises are made that this matter will be rectified. This is an instance of State government bungling and waste. In 1946, a decision was made to construct a high level bridge across the Burdekin River, and the job was commenced in the financial year 1946-47 ; seven years later it has not been completed and, indeed, appears to be still a long way off completion. When the Premier of Queensland was asked why the bridge had not been completed, and reminded of the continuing hardships of the north Queensland people as a result, he said that the delay in completing the bridge was due to a shortage of steel. The Premier said that about £250,000 worth of steel was needed for the bridge, and that it could not be obtained from overseas. However, according to official records, the Queensland Government has imported from overseas about £9,500,000 worth of steel during the last four years. Yet not “onefortieth of the quantity of steel imported was made available to complete this vital defence link. Although great quantities of steel have been imported by the Queensland Government during the last four years, the Premier of that State has refused to allocate sufficient steel to complete the high level Burdekin River bridge, a public work of great defence significance. As I have mentioned, construction of the bridge was commenced in 1947. Although the Queensland Government knew that steel was in short supply, it took no steps to import steel from overseas until 1950. The steel then ordered has been delivered during the last three years.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) stated by interjection earlier in my speech that the new Burdekin River bridge would be of great defence significance. I am indebted to the honorable member for supporting my view of the matter, but I should be glad if he would endeavour to convince the Labour Premier of Queensland of the necessity for its early completion. I hope that the honorable member for East Sydney will exercise his undoubted influence in this matter. On another occasion the Premier of Queensland said that the job could not be completed because the Commonwealth had starved Queensland of funds.
– Hear, hear
– That interjection demonstrates the honorable member’s ignorance of this subject. I remind the House that in 1948-49 the Chifley Labour Government allocated £15,700,000 to Queensland for public works; that was in the financial year after that in which the construction of the bridge was commenced. In 1952-53 the present Government allocated £40,400,000 to Queensland for public works.
– But they were Menzies pounds!
-Yes, it would have been dreadful had they been Chifley pounds. I emphasize that during the last financial year this Government allocated to Queensland for public works about two and a half times as much as the Chifley Government allocated for that purpose during its last year of office. But instead of the Queensland Government allocating two and a half times as much money as was allocated for that purpose in 1946-47 for work on this vital defence link, it reduced the allocation by £14,339. This is typical of what is happening in Queensland. Large amounts of money have been allocated to that State for public works, and great sums have been squandered. When completed, the new high level bridge over the Burdekin River will provide a vital food link to North Queensland. Although steel was not available to complete this vital project, ample steel was supplied to the railway authorities to lay new railway tracks in the Brisbane suburban area and also to electrify the Brisbane suburban railways. The reason is obvious. Whilst Labour candidates obtain majority votes from the Brisbane area, only relatively few residents of North Queensland vote for Labour ; therefore the people of the north do not get their bridge. This is indicative of the horrible depth into which State politics have sunk.
Honorable members will recall that Rockhampton was seriously flooded about five weeks ago. About the same time the north coast rivers of New South Wales were also in flood. New South Wales members will recollect that immediately the north coast cities of New South Wales were flooded, financial assistance was offered to them by both the Commonwealth and State Governments. When the north coast floods were menacing those cities I happened to be travelling on the Pacific Highway north of Sydney, and I saw Armyducks on their way to relieve distress in the flooded areas. WhenRockhampton was flooded my colleague the honorable member for Dawson (Mr. Davidson) and I were in Canberra attending the sittings of the Parliament. We realized the need to keep in telephone communication with Rockhampton–
– It was lucky that you were here.
– As a matter of fact, it was fortunate that the honorable member for Dawson and I were here as we were able to press Rockhampton’s claims for assistance with a great deal of success. We asked the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) whether Army ducks would be sent to Rockhampton for rescue work. He replied, “As soon as the Queensland Government asks for them they will be provided”. We then said to the Minister, “ Undoubtedly there will be a serious danger of disease developing in the flooded areas. Can you arrange for Army hygiene squads to be sent to Rockhampton ? “ Again the Minister replied, “ They will be made available if a request is received from the Queensland Government “.
An Opposition member interjecting,
– Another parasite talking!
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw that word.
– I withdraw it.As Rockhampton was infested with mosquitoes, sand flies, and other pests we asked the Minister whether a fogging machine could be sent to Rockhampton to destroy them. In accordance with custom and tradition, he replied . that that would be done if a request were received from the Queensland Government. The conversation that I have mentioned took place about the middle of the week On the following Monday I arrived back in Rockhampton and inquired whether Army ducks, hygiene squads, and fogging machines had arrived. I was then told that when the Minister offered those things to the Queensland Government, that Government replied, in effect, “ We do not want your help “. As far as the Queensland Government was concerned, the 40,000 inhabitants of Rockhampton could drown or die from disease; it was not prepared to apply to the Australian Government for help. That is an appalling state of affairs.
When floods struck the north coast cities of New .South Wales large sums of money were poured into flood relief funds, and both the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments made money available for the relief of distress on a £l-for-£l basis. However, no relief fund was opened for the people of Rockhampton. It is true that the Queensland Government is seeking money to repair damage to roads that was caused by the floods, and also to enable State instrumentalities to repair water supply systems and other services. But to relieve the distress of people who suffered personal loss and hardship in that city, the Queensland Government has done no more than to instruct the Clerk of Petty Sessions to pay out to individual applicants £1 or £2 to help them to meet their food bills for a day or so. For the rebuilding of fences that were destroyed, and the relief of personal distress in that great city, however, no help was offered by the Queensland Government. Danger exists in a state of affairs in which State governments play at politics rather than relieve human distress. It is time that we recognized these facts and ensured that money made available for the relief of distress as a result of a calamity such as flood shall be fairly distributed to people who are really in need. We have a federal system. It worked very well for many years, but since the socialists attempted to bring in their system of unification, under which they would ban all other forms of political thought - the honorable member for Melbourne has referred to it as an evolution - we are drawing nearer to the day when the federal system will be overthrown. It would have been very easy for this Government, during the last three years since it has been freed from the frustration imposed by a hostile Senate, to buyvotes and, as the socialists did when they were in office, put in this, that and the other thing in selected areas and at favorable times. However, I am proud of the fact that this Government, believing, as it does, in the federal system, has’ done what any responsible government would do and has continued to make adequate finance available to the States to do the jobs that they wish to undertake. Such a policy is not spectacular so far as this Government is concerned and may not win its supporters’ votes. Nevertheless, I am glad that the Government has always had uppermost in its mind the welfare of the nation rather than opportunities to gain votes. It has done the right thing in this respect despite any misgivings that may have arisen about what might befall it at the polls.
This Government has treated the States as units in a federal system and has continued to pour funds into their treasuries for the purpose of financing vast developmental works that are vitally needed in this country. Unfortunately, in Queensland, I am unable to find any evidence that the State Government is making any realistic attempt to develop country areas, although immense sums have been made available to it by the Australian Government for that purpose. I remind honorable members that whereas the Chifley Government, during its last three years of office made loan moneys available to Queensland of an amount of only £19,000,000 this Government, during the last three years, has made available to that State loan funds amounting to £58,000,000. I deplore the fact that whilst vast housing projects are being undertaken in the metropolitan area of Brisbane, the State Government is doing nothing to meet housing needs in country areas. During the last three years this Government made available to the Queensland Government the sum of £11,000,000 for that purpose, whereas the Chifley Government, during its last three years of office, made available the sum of only £3,000,000 under that heading. In addition, this Government has made available to the Queensland Government the sum of £8,300,000 for the construction and maintenance of roads whereas the
Chifley Government, during its last three years of office, made available the sum of only £4,100,000 for that purpose. During the last three years, this Government has made available to Queensland, in tax reimbursements, the sum of £55,000,000 compared with the sum of only £2S,000,000 that the Chifley Government made available to that State under that heading. However, in spite of all the money that has been injected into the State’s economy under these headings, very little evidence is available that those funds have been used for developmental purposes. Something will have to be done to bring State Premiers to a realization of the fact that their primary consideration should be to administer these funds as Australians and to realize their responsibility to develop this country, because, if we do not do so, other people will wrest it from us and develop it. In spite of this state of affairs, I am pleased that the Australian Government has recognized its responsibility to supply the States with adequate finance for developmental works in the trust that the States in their wisdom will expend such moneys for the purpose of providing such works. Unfortunately, however, State Premiers in the handling of these moneys have preferred to play at party politics rather than to act as Australians in the true sense. I trust that this Government will go on from strength to strength and will refuse to be deterred by the attitude that the State Premiers have adopted during the last few years and will continue to make available adequate funds to the States in the hope that the States themselves will expend it to the best advantage of this country and not use them in order to further party political ends.
.- The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) does not know much about Queensland. Recently, when I visited the far northern area of that State I saw from 400 to 500 men working on the biggest hydro-electric scheme that is being undertaken in this country with the exception of the Snowy Mountains scheme. The Queensland Government has already established a hydro-electric scheme at the Barron Falls which supplies the power requirements of dairy-farmers in that area. At present, that scheme is being extended at the Tully Falls, and when it is completed it will increase considerably the volume of power that will be available throughout the northern portion of the State. The scheme has already been extended to Innisfail and will be pushed on to Townsville. In addition, in the far northern area of Queensland, I saw approximately 300 men working on an irrigation scheme. They were using bulldozers and mechanical shovels under floodlights. Then, there is the Burdekin irrigation and hydro-electric scheme. All of these schemes are already in operation, but the Australian Government has not provided any financial assistance in respect of the two dam schemes to which I have referred. Although the honorable member for Capricornia said that the Australian Government should treat the States on a federal basis, one might be led to believe that Queensland is not one of the Australian States when one examines the assistance that this Government has actually made available to Queensland. The honorable member referred to the Burdekin Bridge, which was submerged for a considerable period in the recent floods. Government supporters have endeavoured to gain a great deal of the party political kudos in respect of that incident.
– Why was all the steel for that bridge left lying in Brisbane for so long?
– That is a pertinent interjection. The steel required for the bridge is being fabricated in a number of sections, and the work must be coordinated. The reason why steel has been lying in Brisbane is that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited refused to fulfil orders with Evans Deakin Proprietary Limited, which is the contractor constructing the bridge. In the past, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited never refused to supply steel to the State Government, but on this occasion it refused to do so. At the same time, under a permit granted by the Australian Government, it is exporting steel to the United States of America.
– That is a lie.
– The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is at present exporting steel to the United States of
America. When I raised this matter with the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) he informed me that when the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited had established a certain mill it would cease to export steel. In that reply, the Treasurer admitted that that company was exporting steel. Mr. Short, a representative of the Federated Ironworkers Association, when he recently visited America, was asked by American, steel mill employees whether Australia used slave labour in the production of steel. Mr. Short could not understand the import of the question, but it was put to him because the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited was supplying steel to America cheaper than American mills could produce steel. The explanation is that our coal and ores for the manufacture of steel are close together. Our workers are just as good as American workers and our machinery is probably as good as the American machinery. But the fact was that the steel was being exported. In order to build up this country, the requirements of Australia should be met before one ton of steel is exported. However, the State Government was unable to get the steel from Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and had to make contracts with Great Britain for the steel necessary to complete the bridge.
– It was lying there for two years.
– To say that it was lying there for two years conveys nothing. Queensland has been entirely neglected by the Government. The .Snowy Mountains scheme is a good proposal which is being subsidized by the Government. It will do a great deal for Victoria and New South Wales. The aluminium works in Tasmania is being subsidized directly by the Commonwealth and it will be of value to Tasmania although the benefit will be reduced by the inability of the aluminium works to obtain petrol coke from Glen Davis. Queensland has been assisted so little by the Government that one would think that it was a foreign country. Recently the Minister for Air (Mr. McMahon) spoke in Cairns about the string of aerodromes and defences that had> been established in
Northern Australia. He made himself the joke of the north because the people knew that no such aerodromes or defences existed in their area. Men from the Gulf country, who had come to see the Queen, were present when he spoke. They knew the country to which he referred and they knew that the string of aerodromes was a pipe dream of the Minister.
– Was Tommy Gilmore there ?
– Yes. - Tommy was> with the Minister. Tommy said that the Moore Government had built a road from Mossman to Cairns but that was the greatest laugh of all, because everybody knew that the Moore Government had put only a few unemployed workers on to the job just before an election in an effort to win votes. So Tommy’s contribution was very small.
On behalf of the local council, the local progress association, and the local returned soldiers association, I have made representations to the Minister for Air to re-establish the Mareeba aerodrome. I asked the Minister a question in the House on this matter and was told to forget it. Now that a general election is near the Minister for Air has said that Mareeba aerodrome must be reconditioned. That statement has provided another great laugh for the people of north Queensland because the organizations that I have mentioned know that the Minister turned the proposition down. The Minister for Air did more good for my prospects at the next general election when he visited north Queensland than any supporter in my own party has done. He has assured me an additional 400 or 500 votes and I want to thank him for them. As he is not in the House at present I ask honorable members opposite to convey my thanks to him. What he did not know about the north was not worth talking about, and the longer he spoke the deeper into the mire he got. He was a real laugh. Poor old Tommy, following after him, contributed a few remarks on matters that he knew nothing about and also provided the people with a great laugh. The present Government, with a Treasurer who was born in Queensland, has given Queensland a worse deal than it has ever had before in the history of federation.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Gullett) adjourned.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I propose, in a moment, to move that the question be now put. But I hope that to-morrow night an opportunity will be given for at least an hour of debate the motion for the adjournment of the House.
– Why cannot we have some time to-night?
– I discussed this matter with the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) earlier. As honorable members know from a motion that was agreed to by the House to-day, the House will sit at 10 to-morrow morning and on the following morning. The House is being asked to sit longer in order to deal with a good deal of business. I do not wish to deny honorable members an opportunity to talk on the adjournment. To-morrow, we shall conclude the normal debate half an hour earlier than we have concluded it in the last two nights and, by continuing until midnight, we shall provide about an hour for debate on the motion for the adjournment. I also wish to point out that the House is discussing Supply, a subject which enables honorable members to ventilate matters without any real limitation on their discussion. I think that the convenience and comfort of all honorable members will be best served if the policy that I have outlined is adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Holt) put.
That the question he now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . 25
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Territory of Papua and New Guinea - Native Labour employed by Commonwealth New Guinea Timbers Limited at Bulolo.
Coal Industry Act - Joint Coal Board -
Sixth Annual Report and financial accounts, for year 1052-53.
Report of the Auditor-General of the Commonwealth on the accounts of the Joint Coal Board, for year 1952-53.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes - Cavendish, Victoria.
Life Insurance Act - Eighth Annual Report of the Insurance Commissioner for 1953.
Norfolk Island Act - Ordinances - 1954 -
No. 1 - Ordinances Revision.
No. 2 - Auctioneers.
No. 3 - Gun Licence.
No.4 -Registration of Birthof Marriages and Deaths.
No. 5- Sale ofFood.
No.6 - Slaughtering.
No. 7 - Motor Car.
No. 8 - Judiciary.
No. 9 - Birds Protection.
Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Attorney-General - F. J. Gaffy.
External Affairs - M. M. Creith.
Works - E. M. Fraser.
House adjourned at 11.27 p.m.
The following answers to questions mere circulated: -
z asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
z asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. -
k asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 April 1954, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1954/19540407_reps_20_hor3/>.