21st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask you, Mr. Speaker, a question of some general importance. Yesterday you presented a letter to the House that you stated you had received from a Sydney newspaper, the Baily Mirror. In doing so you stated that you had intervened in a matter thatconcerned an honorable member of the House. I believe that the honorable member for Mackellar had passed a remark which the Daily Mirror had reported, and I gather that you intervened and finally presented to this House the letter in relation to the matter from the proprietors df that newspaper. As I regard the matter as one of supreme importance, I ask you, first, whether you wrote to the newspaper in question or sent for a representative of it; and secondly, under what authority you acted, because you purported to exercise a disciplinary power of enforcing the privileges of the .House, which, of course, is a power .reserved solely - for the use of the House acting exclusively on the ‘recommendation of the Committee of Privileges. I -ask, .also, whether you will make .a much fuller report indicating the authority that you purported ito ‘exercise. Has matter is one of such importance that I ask you, Mr. ‘Speaker, to state fully exactly what action ,you took. I understand -that the -remark of the honorable member for Mackellar was .reported .in such a way as to reflect cm the Leader <of the Opposition in ‘Great Britain. I submit that honorable me.bers should have a full account of the matter in the .first instance .so that .the House can consider the course that .it should adopt.
-I -did not write to the newspaper concerned. I spoke to its local representative. I acted in accordance with the -customs and usage of the House, and in accordance with the procedure that I said I would adopt at a conference hold in the Prime Minister’s room about three years ago, at which the Leader of the Opposition and my late predecessor in office were present.
– Arising «vt of my question, I point out that “that ‘conference has nothing whatsoever to do with this matter. I <ask you to make your report upon the matter in writing. If you met m. .representative of %he newspaper I ‘ask -you to -state what yen .mac and what you did, -and whether -you threatened the -newspaper with .amy sanctions in the went of your direction not being obeyed. I ‘ask you to give a Wl ‘and frank account of the -matter to the Bouse. 3Ir. SPEAKER.- I shall certainly not report upon this matter in writing. If .the .right honorable member is .not satisfied -with .the outcome of it le can move .a -motion .of censure.
M*r- McLEAY - My question as directed to the Treasurer. ‘ In mew of the increase -of the number .of buildings that wre -being acquired for Commonwealth authorities, particularly in capital cities, what steps -are being (taken te compensate local -authorities for the ‘loss of rates ‘Ou those properties
– The honorable member was kind enough to tell me that he intended to ask this ‘question. Consequently I have obtained the information for him. As the honorable member is .aware, the Commonwealth is .not liable to pay municipal rates on .property used for Commonwealth .purposes, including “vacant land. However, .payments are made for .special services .provided by local authorities, ‘Bud :as water ;and :sewerage, mid as an act of ;grace local authorities “.receive the payment of the -equivalent -of rates in .’respect ‘.of certain properties, -such as nouses. Tt is not proposed to extend tie scape sf the payments which >are at present being made.
– Will the ‘Treasurer ha-ve- -a statement prepared before his next trip overseas, which will slow low each State has benefited from Commonwealth grants under various sets, land indicate why Queensland has -been -badly treated so consistently since the MenziesFadden coalition fame into office nearly five years ago-.?
– -It m 3m- poss’ible for me to have a statement prepared which would -show that ‘Queensland has %een financially iH treated %y ‘this Government.
– Will the .Treasurer state whether representations lave .been made bv any Queensland supporter of the Government ;for ^financial .assistance in respect of .any , -project ito be ‘carried oat in Queensland1? If se, will .le inform i3»e House of ‘the projects Sot which financial assistance las been sought, and the result -of such requests^?
Sir -ARTHUR -FADDEN.- Yes, such representations ih-awe .been made. Indeed, ;some have been ma’de by tie honorable member -who las asked the question. -Requests ‘have .also been refused. Projects lave been .brought -before this Government which were se obviously uneconomic -and fantastic that no .responsible -government *mild lave considered financing them.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Interior. What progress has been made with the development of a cyclone warning system along the coast of Queensland?
– I announced a. short time ago that the Department of the Interior had under consideration the construction of three new radar stations in the Brisbane, Townsville and Rockhampton areas respectively.
– It is about time, too.
– The preceding Labour Government, I remind honorable members, had plenty of time to undertake this work, but did not attempt it. As the result of the requests that were made after the recent cyclone, that work was further considered. Authority has been given already for the construction of two stations in the Brisbane and Townsville areas respectively, and I expect that a final decision will be made very shortly on the location of a station in the Rockhampton area. I also expect that all three stations will be operating before the end of this financial year..
– Will the Minister for Territories give me some information about the steps that he has taken, if any, to decrease illiteracy amongst the native peoples of Papua and New Guinea. Did he read the report of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for this year, which shows that the percentage of illiteracy in Papua and New Guinea is as high now as at any time, and that no significant progress is indicated from the report, which covers 35 years? Moreover, is the Minister aware that Australia’s trusteeship of this Territory obliges us to do everything possible to improve the social and cultural standards of the native people? What is he doing about this important responsibility ?
– I have not read the report to which the honorable member for Banks has referred, but if it is in the terms exactly as he has stated, it is completely incorrect. The House, and par ticularly those honorable members whohave been to New Guinea, will know that there are about 400,000 people in that Territory whose acquaintance with civilization is extremely scant, or even nonexistent, and that talk of literacy in theterms in which we would speak of literacy in respect of Australia, is quite irrelevant. We are consciously and progressively applying ourselves to the education of the native peoples. In that work, we have the co-operation of Christian missions, and steadily year by year, the number of mission schools and administration schools in various categories which devotethemselves to the education of the native peoples, is growing. In addition to that,. the Administration through the Legislative Council of Papua and New Guinea passed a new education ordinance last year, which was expressly designed tobring about further co-operation between the mission schools and the administration schools, and to lead to a considerabledevelopment in the education system.. I can obtain for the honorable member the numbers of schools and pupils in New Guinea. Those figures will show that thenumber is increasing in each instance.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether it is true that the army is regularly dumping ammunition and scrap metal worth thousands of” pounds at sea. Is it a fact that 500 tons of ammunition was dumped off Sydney Heads last month? Did the Department of the Army, in this instance, neglect toconsider that brass might be reclaimed, from that material? Will the Minister investigate the methods that are adopted in the United Kingdom for recoveringvaluable metals from obsolete war equipment and ammunition?
– Five hundred tonsof ammunition was dumped recently beyond the heads at Sydney, hut that material contained no brass of value. All material that could be economically or safely salvaged was salvaged, and! nothing of any value was dumped at all. Representatives in England of the Department of the Army and the Department of Supply have examined the salvaging methods employed in the United Kingdom, and these methods have been< adopted in Australia for some time. I repeat that nothing is dumped that can be safely and usefully salvaged. The procedure is somewhat involved, and if the honorable member places a question on the notice-paper I shall supply details of the process that is adopted by both the Navy and the Army in dealing with obsolete ammunition.
– In view of the part that Australia has played in two world wars to liberate the Middle East and keep it free for progress and democracy and also to ensure the maintenance of unimpeded communication through the Suez Canal among the nations of the free world, will the Treasurer make representations to the Prime Minister to use bis offices with the Governments of thu United Kingdom, Egypt and the Arab States in order to guarantee freedom to all shipping of friendly countries through the canal? Will the Government act on this suggestion also in an endeavour to bring happiness and security to the new State of Israel by guaranteeing peace among the free nations of the world?
– I shall direct the attention of the Prime Minister to the question that the honorable member has asked.
– As this week is Air Force Week, and as to-day is the anniversary of the greatest defeat that was suffered by the Luftwaffe in the battle for Britain, can the Minister for Air say whether it would be possible for the Royal Australian Air Force to bring an Australian-made Sabre jet to Canberra in order to give to honorable members who do not come from Victoria an opportunity to witness the performance of this aircraft?
– At this stage, it would not be possible to bring a Avon Sabre jet to Canberra. There are not a great number of this type of aircraft in the Royal Australian Air Force and there are not a great number of pilots qualified to fly them. Those officers who are so qualified are employed mainly as test pilots and as instructors to other officers.
As soon as it is possible to bring one of these aircraft to Canberra, I shall see whether arrangements can be made to do so. We might even be able to persuade the pilot to break the sound barrier and wake up some honorable members.
– I direct to the Treasurer a question that arises from the indication given by the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank tha.t, as a result of the banking legislation introduced by the Government, which weakened the powers of the Commonwealth Bank Board, the trading banks have extended advances contrary to the financial policy being pursued by the Treasurer. Will the right honorable gentleman take steps to extend, by legislation, the powers of the Governor of the bank so that the Treasurer may ensure that the Government’s financial policy shall not be treated with contempt by directors of banks who live overseas?
– As the banks are not treated with contempt, and as the Commonwealth Bank’s policy is not treated with contempt, the answer to the honorable member’s question is “ No “.
– Is it not a fact that at the same time as the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank censured the private trading banks, to some degree, for their advances policy, he also announced that record advances had been made by the trading section of the Commonwealth Bank? Is the Treasurer in a position to assure the House that the Commonwealth Bank is itself observing the same restrictions with regard to credit advances as the bank, in another capacity, is imposing on the trading banks?
– 1 am assured that there is no difference between the advances policy of the trading section of the Commonwealth Bank and that of the trading banking system generally.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation tell me what works are required to be undertaken before the new Hobart airport at Llanherne will be completed? When is it anticipated that this new capital airport will be ready for commercial flying operations?’ ,J-
– We all know the constant interest that the honorable member has shown ‘in this new airport in his own electorate. The major work in connexion with the establishment of the aerodrome has been completed. The main strip has been laid, and has also been paved and sealed. I think that one more sealing coat, of a special seal, which is necessary if the airport is to be used by jets, remains to be applied. The taxiways, access roads and apron are all complete, but I think that these also still have to be sealed. The plans for the airport buildings have been completed and sent to the Department of Works. When the estimates are ready both the plans and the estimates will be submitted to the Public Works Committee. Approval lias been given, in the meantime, for the airport, in its incomplete stage, to be used in an emergency, but the honorable member will realize that until such time as passenger accommodation and other requirements have been provided the airport cannot be used for normal air traffic. We hope to have commercial air traffic in operation there some time this year, but of course the aerodrome buildings will not then be complete.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether it is true that one of the few methods of dealing with the effects of the radiation that will result from atomic warfare is extensive use of blood transfusions? If that is so, will the right honorable gentleman say whether the Department of Health is planning to build up an anti-radiation blood bank reserve in Australia, over and above the normal blood banks in use from day to day, as one of the methods by which this nation may prepare itself to hit back against the terrible effects of atomic war ?
– I can assure the honorable gentleman that the Department of Health is keeping in constant touch with every advance made in the treatment of the effects of atomic radiation, and is taking steps to deal with the matter in the proper fashion.
– Has the Minister for Health seen a report that was submitted to the Australian Hospital Association in June last by an American medical authority who came from America last October to study Australian hospitals, in which he pointed out that Australia’s medical standards were threatened by shortage of money and lack of teaching facilities? If he has seen it, will he indicate the action, if any, that is being taken to give effect to the recommendations of that authority?
– It may interest the honorable member to learn that, since the introduction of the hospital insurance plan, the revenue of Australian hospitals has increased by approximately £10,000,000 a year, and that nearly every hospital is getting out of financial difficulty. As a result, it has become possible for the teaching hospitals to tackle a problem which, up to the present time and during the whole period for which the Labour Government was in office, has been very great indeed.
– Will the Minister for the Army place before the House an estimate of the cost of establishment of the military camp at Canungra, in Queensland?
– I can give the honorable gentleman the figure now. It is £320,000.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral inform the House whether the Government intends to table the report of the Royal Commission on Television? If it is not intended to table the report, will interested members be able to obtain copies without having to purchase them from the Government Printer?
– The report of the Royal Commission on Television was submitted to the Government during the general election campaign in May. If the report had been withheld until the Parliament met, there would have been a delay of some months in making it public. Consequently, it was decided to make it public immediately, and copies have been made available to many people. If honorable members wish to have copies and apply for them, I shall try to provide them.
– I refer the PostmasterGeneral to the official Platform and Policy of the Australian Country party, which states that the party seeks the equalization of economic, social and political conditions between country and city alike. Does the honorable gentleman consider the establishment of television in the two major capital cities of Australia to be in accordance with the policy of the political party of which he is a member?
– The Australian Country party’s policy contains many planks. One of them provides for strenuous and effective opposition to communism in this country. If the honorable member will give practical cooperation in that respect, I shall see what can be done in relation to the other matter.
– What a silly answer that was.
-Order ! The honorable member is out of order in commenting like that on answers to questions. There are no silly members in this chamber.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. In view of the fact that the Victorian Federation of Co-operative Housing Societies, which claims that the loans which were made available for housing this year were 54 per cent, less than those of 1953 and 63 per cent, less than those of 1952, is organizing a mass meeting of potential cooperators at Richmond, Victoria, on the 27th September to present a depressing report in relation to this matter, will the Minister issue a statement to relieve the anxiety of both the co-operative housing societies and the potential cooperators ?
– I shall await the depressing report before I reply, because I am absolutely certain that, during the last financial year, more money was made available through Government instrumentalities, including the Commonwealth Bank, than at any other stage in the history of the Commonwealth.
– Will the Treasurer state why the question of depreciation allowances for taxation purposes was not submitted to the Commonwealth expert committee on taxation? Does the appointment of a new committee under the chairmanship of the honorable member for Petrie indicate that the Government wants to obtain a recommendation upon which it may act and which never would have been made by the expert committee ?
– The honorable member’s question is based upon entirely wrong premises. As he knows, the question of allowances for depreciation has always been a vexed and complex one. The expert committee investigated certain aspects of the matter, but. in recent times there have been variations of the allowance by “way of investment subsidy and the withdrawal and reinstitution of the initial depreciation allowance. The whole system of allowances for depreciation has so changed in the democracies that it became desirable to establish a committee to investigate the matter. I am sure that the committee that has been established by the Government will investigate every aspect of this very important question.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer a question supplementary to that which has just been asked. Can he tell the House when the additional members of the depreciation committee will be appointed and when it can be expected that the committee will start work ?
– I am awaiting replies from the organizations which have been asked to nominate representatives for appointment to that committee. The committee will be formed as soon as sufficient replies are received to enable the membership to be filled and it will start its activities immediately thereafter.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is the Government’s intention that the fees paid by part-time university students shall be allowed as deductions from taxable incomes in the future?
– That is a matter of policy, and it has been considered. It will be further considered when the Government undertakes the next review of the Income Tax Assessment Act. I point out that for years this matter was not even considered by the previous Labour Government.
– Can the Minister for Air tell me whether the reciprocal arrangement whereby United States air force units can use the Momote airfield on Manus Island is still in force? If so, how many American aircraft have recently used this base, either for training flights or for emergency reasons?
– I am sorry that I cannot give a clear, concise and precise answer to that question. I do not know how many United States aircraft have landed at Manus Island recently, but such machines come in there regularly. They frequently go to Manus, from there to Guam, and then on to Japan. I shall obtain an answer to the honorable member’s question.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether any investigation has been undertaken in Australia to test the qualities of a new British drug called Ronicol? If no investigation has been made, will the Minister, in the’ interests of some honorable .members and Ministers, and numbers of Australian men, initiate research to test overseas claims that the drug has achieved remarkable results in the treatment of baldness?
– I know of no investigation that has been made in regard to baldness, but I know of investigations that have been made into the curative effects of the drug in other respects. Its claims will be examined by the appropriate body - the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee set up by this Government.
– Is it a fact that the Minister for Defence recently made a statement to the effect that the Government may have to resort to financial, material and man-power controls in order to carry out its defence programme? If so, will the Minister state whether he was expressing his own personal view or that of the Government? Finally, will he explain more fully what he, or the Government, has in mind?
– I was reported to have made certain statements, which were not given to the press. Whatever comments I made were my own personal views, and I just leave them there.
– I desire to address a question to the Treasurer. Has the right honorable gentleman described the proposed railway from Dajarra, through Newcastle Waters, to Birdum, in the Northern Territory, as an uneconomic proposal? In view of the defence position in northern Australia and the disturbed international conditions to the immediate north of Australia, will the Treasurer reconsider the proposal from the defence viewpoint ? I am sure that he will then conclude that it would be a proper and economic proposal.
– I did not have to state that the proposed railway link from Dajarra to Newcastle Waters would be uneconomic. But it is evident for any one to see that, from ‘any viewpoint, the proposition would not be economic, though I have never previously said so. I remind the honorable member that an expert committee, under the chairmanship of Sir John Kemp, which was appointed by the Queensland Government to investigate the proposal for a railway from Dajarra to Camooweal, reported that the proposal would be uneconomic and that the project could not be undertaken on a sensible basis as a State enterprise.
Opposition members interjecting,
-Order! It is impossible, with so much interruption, for the Treasurer to proceed, and I ask him to resume his seat. When the House comes to order the right honorable gentleman will be able to continue.
– Keep him down!
– Order ! Who made the interjection, “ Kick him out ! “ ?
– I said, “Keep him down!”
– The interjection was out of order.
– The expert committee to which I have referred reported that a proposed railway from Dajarra to Camooweal, which it was estimated would cost £6,000,000, would not be economic, that it would lose £285,000 a year, and that it was not worth while. Yet the advocates of such a scheme and the Premier of Queensland want the Australian Government to undertake a project at an estimated capital cost of £20,000,000, which includes £6,000,000 for the railway from Dajarra to Camooweal, and with an estimated overhead cost of operation of £1,800,000 a year, and they expect me, as the responsible Commonwealth Treasurer, to give enthusiastic support to the scheme because I am a Queenslander.
– Will the Treasurer advise the House whether the report of the committee under the chairmanship of Sir John Kemp on the proposed Dajarra to Newcastle Waters railway has been published ? If it has not been published, can the right honorable gentleman state the reasons why it remains unpublished, and would it be possible for this Government to bring about its publication.
– The report has not been published, because it was embodied in a report from the Queensland Premier to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. In accordance with the etiquette and customary procedure in relation to communications between the leaders of governments, the contents of the report have not been disclosed by this Government, or by any one on the Government’s behalf. But quite recently the Premier of Queensland advised the Prime Minister that he intended to make the report public when it suited him.
– In view of the importance from a defence viewpoint of the standardization of railway gauges on a proposed railway line from Townsville through Queensland to Camooweal, Dajarra, Newcastle Waters and Darwin, will the Treasurer review his opinion about the economic importance of such a railway, and accept the major share of liability for the cost of standardizing the gauge of the railway from Townsville to Cloncurry and constructing a line at the standard gauge through to Darwin?
– In the first place I have to be convinced, and so has this Government, that there is any defence value in the proposition put forward by the honorable member. If there is such a defence value, the first responsibility lies with the Queensland Government to recondition its obsolete railway from Dajarra to Townsville.
– I ask the Minister for Territories whether any variation can be made in the requirement that persons who have interests in freehold land in the Northern Territory must lodge claims for compensation in respect of the acquisition of mineral rights by the Commonwealth within six months of the commencement of operation of the Minerals (Acquisition) Ordinance 1953, which was agreed to last year by the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory?
– As a result of representations made by the honorable member, Cabinet re-examined the time limit that had been imposed on the lodging of claims for compensation under the Minerals (Acquisition) Ordinance 1953 of the Northern Territory, and I have pleasure in announcing now that the Government has decided to extend the time within which claims may be lodged to the end of the current calendar year. As the House was previously informed, under that ordinance, the mineral rights in freehold land were acquired by the Commonwealth. That action put freehold tenures in the same position as leasehold lands in respect of mineral rights. The ordinance stipulated that claims for compensation should be lodged within six months of the commencement of operation of the ordinance. It has been realized that the time limit might penalize some persons resident in other parts of the world and might lead to the overlooking of legitimate claims. Consequently, the time within which claims for compensation may be lodged has been extended to the 31st December next.
Mr. Wight having asked a question,
– Order! The honorable member’s question has nothing to do with the Government, and is, therefore, out of order.
– In the absence of the Prime Minister, I ask the Treasurer whether he will confer with the Minister for Supply about the opening ceremony shortly to be held at Rum Jungle. I bring to his attention the following notice that was published and exhibited at the Rum Jungle Treatment Works. The notice reads -
Rum Jungle Opening Ceremony.
The Treatment Plant will be officially opened by the Prime Minister on Friday, the 17th September, 1954. The day is an ordinary working day. Attendance at the Ceremony is by invitation only. However, all employees who have been given permission by their supervisors are welcome to view the proceedings from the rear of the seats. In this case they shouldbe at the ceremony area near the crusher station by 10.30 a.m.
Will the right honorable gentleman confer with the Minister for Supply with a view to giving favorable consideration to granting a half holiday to all the workers at the Rum Jungle treatment plant, so that they may have an opportunity of participating in the historic ceremony and hearing the Prime Minister’s speech ?
– I am afraid that the honorable member’s request has been made too late. If he had asked it yesterday, something might have been done about it.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harbison) agreed to -
That the Committee of Privileges have power to send for persons, papers, and records.
That the committee have leave to sit during the sittings of the House.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 14th September (vide page 1225).
Department of Immigration
Proposed vote, ?1,296,000.
Department of Labour and National Service
Proposed vote, ?1,776,000.
Department of National Development
Proposed vote, ?822,000.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization
Proposed vote, ?3,800,000.
Australian Atomic Energy Commission
Proposed vote, ?505,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
.- I desire to address my remarks to the proposed vote for the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. In doing so, I have in mind the great deal of time that has been devoted by this chamber to discussing the devastating effect of applications of atomic power. Nuclear energy has been debated mainly as a method of destruction and a means of blowing all of us off the face of the earth. Nothing depresses me more than to listen to the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), preaching with the fire and conviction of a prophet that the end is near, that we. must prepare for it and that our only hope of salvation is to make bigger and better bombs than our enemies and blow them up before they blow us up. On such occasions I feel that my only plan is to reconcile myself to my Maker, fold my arms and wait for the swish of the bomb that will blow me and the rest of the world into eternity. However, there always arises the hope that in spite of atomic bombs the world will continue - that it will sin and that it will he saved again. With hope springing eternal in the human breast, as it always does, I continue fondly to imagine that the fear of reprisal will make any nation hesitate to resort to atomic warfare on the scale envisaged by the honorable member for Mackellar.
Encouraged in this thought, I persevere with the hope that instead of atomic power being perfected as a means of destruction, the world will direct its thoughts to the use of atomic energy for the development of peaceful pursuits. If atomic power can be taken from the hands of the would-be destroyer, men of science surely will have no difficulty in putting atomic energy to work for peace. The development of nuclear energy for power should be a challenge to every peace-loving country. Australia’s progress has been seriously hindered in the past, and many resources have been left untouched, because power has not been available. Australia is a power-starved continent. Nature has not been kind to us in providing us with cheap power, as is generated by the hydro-electric schemes in Canada, Norway, Sweden and other parts of the world. Yet nature has been kind to us by providing us with rich deposits of uranium. Having been so blessed, we have the responsibility to see that we make full and proper use of these newly-found deposits.
The development of nuclear energy for power purposes is only in its infancy at the present time, and much research is required before it may be freely acknowledged that electrical power from nuclear energy is technically possible. The situation is complicated by the fact that nowhere in the world has there been built a full-scale nuclear reactor to generate power. Nuclear reactors are being built in other countries, but in Australia which is so rich in uranium, a curious situation has developed. Our scientists are dividing themselves into two camps. One is headed by Professor Baxter, Director of Technology, and the other by Professor Messel, who is the head of the School of Physics at the Sydney University. Those gentlemen continue to wrangle in a rarefied scientific atmosphere of their own on the merits and demerits of many matters, such as the building of a small reactor in Australia. Professor Baxter is an Englishman, and he contends that research by Australian scientists should be carried out in England. He believes that our scientists should be sent to England for training and other purposes associated with nuclear study. Professor Messel maintains that we can produce vast quantities of uranium and, therefore, a reactor should be built right on the spot here. He believes that we can provide the training for our scientists in our own country, and that, in addition, we may be able to attract other scientists to Australia.
For my part, I hope that this wrangle does not arise from professional jealousy, or that it is the result of one department feeling that it is being, shaded either in capacity or even in salesmanship, which in these enlightened days is called public relations. The difference of opinion could be healthy, but I am bound to say that I amin accord with the proposition that research, if it is to be carried out by our own scientists, should be undertaken in Australia. I see no great virtue in sending our scientists abroad, where they may be lost to this country. The scientist is generally quite happy to stay in the laboratory which gives him all the apparatus and technical facilities that he requires tocontinue his studies. He is content to remain in that location. This means weshould lose our really top-class scientists if they were sent to England for training.
All too frequently, we have been encouraged to believe that we are incapableof developing our own resources. In the past we sent our wool to England because it was said that only England could produce good cloth, and there developed the curious complex that only a suit made of English cloth was worth wearing. At the present time, the average male in the community is prepared to wear a suit made of cloth manufactured in Australia.. We were also told that we could not produce tinplate containers, but during theexigencies of war, we produced them equally as well as our friends overseas. We found also in war-time that our artisanscould make guns, munitions and equipment as readily as the artisans of England or other countries. The idea that England alone can develop the techniques necessary to exploit our uranium resources does not appeal to me. I consider it is about time that we offered some intellectual hospitality in Australia to scientists to continue their studies here, and to other scientists to visit this country.
Professor Baxter is opposed to the construction of a small reactor in Australia. He says that it would be only a toy, and’ his qualifications entitle his opinion to be treated with respect. Toys have been scoffed at in the past, but they have led to important discoveries. Galileo, for instance, played round with a toy that was later to become the telescope. It was assumed to’ be a. toy and Galileo: for his pains was haled before his masters, mho warned him that he would be- in serious’ trouble, indeed, if. he. persisted in his studies. The French surgeon, Laennec, fiddled, round with a toy which eventually became the stethoscope. George Stephenson worked on his model “Rocket”, which was opposed, in the British. Parliament, and by the general public. People complained that the steam engine would set the countryside on fire; that it would burst, that it would turn cows off their milk, and that, it would even ruin fox.-hun.ting. Despite: all that, opposition,, the steam engine was introduced. History is rich with examples of obstruction to progress which scientists had in. view.
A small- reactor may be- useless, as Professor Baxter maintains,, but I believe that in the. interests of science in Australia, its trial would be worth the expense associated’ with it. If other countries are constructing, small, reactors,, are we so worldly wise in this matter of uranium that we can say that, it is folly, and that we; should not proceed, to erect a small reactor in Australia? Or are we following a too cautious practice of. waiting to sees whether others fail ? I think, above all, that the idea should be steadily resisted that any one country has a vested interest in- the uranium deposits of Australia. It is for that reason that I consider that, the time has arrived to discuss the price which Australia is. receiving for uranium under the contract which is presumed to have been, signed with the United Kingdom. It may have been reasonable: at one time, in the interests of security and secrecy, and. on the score that we might, be conveying- information to a potential enemy, to- remain quiet about the price. However, at this, stage I for one do not. believe that there is anything to’ be. gained by not disclosing the price’, as; most probably our enemy knows the figure: to the last penny. Any interested person can compute the value of. a. gold-mining company’s output from the published, ruling, market price of gold. However, the price of uranium has been fixed by the Australian Government upon the basis of a producer sending his uranium- ore for treatment to the Governments plant; or: buying depot, set up by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. In other words, the Australian Govern- - ment has set itself up as the sole organization to buy uranium produced in this country. In my view, it could easily become a hazardous business risk. If Australia has only one purchaser, then we must take good care that the United Kingdom, which possesses the skill acquired by centuries of trading, has not angled the Commonwealth into a position in which it is deprived of the chance to sell uranium elsewhere, particularly to the United States of America. It would be a sad day for Australia if, when this agreement expired, the United Kingdom suddenly decided that it could buy uranium more cheaply elsewhere. In such circumstances, Australia would be left with a large: stock of uranium with no prospect of marketing it. Such circumstances arose with respect to the sale of wheat to the United Kingdom; and that country’s requirements of uranium could be no different from that which operated in respect of its requirements of wheat. I urge the- Minister to consider this’ matter as a whole in order to determine whether the time is not opportune to’ inform the Parliament of the price that Australia is- receiving for uranium and also whether- precautions- have been taken’, to- ensure that after the. existing agreement has- expired Australia, will not be left high end dry with. a. large stock of uranium with no prospect of selling it. Fears have been expressed by honorable members about, the possibility of a. fall. in overseas’ prices for out primary products. The prospects for marketing those products, particularly wheat, is not encouraging. A decline in wool prices would be disastrous for Australia. We should see a bright spot on the’ export horizon- ii we could rely upon increasing our sales of uranium and,, in that way, compensate for the fall, in the price of wheat. I sincerely trust that that will be the case. However, whilst the hazarding of a guess at the prices that are being received from the United Kingdom for uranium on the basis of the amount the Australian Government is. paying to local producers may be an interesting pastime for economists or newspaper financial writers, it is hardly comforting to one who hopes for the best but fears that the existing agreement for the sale of uranium may, after all, have been based on a substantial amount of sentiment.
.- The group of Estimates now being considered by the committee is one of the most important in the Estimates as a whole. This group covers the Department of Immigration, the Department of Labour and National Service, the vitally important Department of National Development, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. The activity of each of these is an important factor in the development of this country. Whilst, as I have said, this group is probably one of the most important in the Estimates as a whole, I reiterate the criticism that has been voiced by members of the Opposition on the ground that the Government has not given to the committee information that would enable it to determine whether, important though the activities of these departments are, it should agree to the proposed votes.
Members of the Opposition, right from the outset of thi3 debate, have pointed to the dangers of still further inflating our industrial cost structure. In almost every instance, the provision being sought for each department represents an increase over both the estimate and the actual expenditure incurred last financial year. The committee is entitled to be informed of the reasons for this great increase in the proposed expenditure. The Opposition’s criticism is stall more justified because of the fact that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), in introducing the budget, claimed that last year was a year of maximum prosperity. Whereas, last year, the estimate for the Australian Atomic Energy Committee was £368,000 and of that amount only £252,837 was expended, the committee is being asked to approve a vote of £505,000 for that body for this financial year. I am aware that last year the Commission was just getting under way and that much of its work was of an exploratory nature. It is only to be expected that this year the commission will extend its activities, which are of vital importance not only to defence but also to industry. Consequently, it will require increased financial provision. I do not doubt that the proposed increased expenditure can be justified or that, ultimately, we shall obtain full value for the money expended by the commission, but, at the same time, the committee is entitled to an explanation of so large an increase of expenditure as is represented by the proposed vote.
The committee is also entitled to an assurance from the Government that it will exercise adequate control over all expenditure, particularly in view of the practice of departments, towards the end of a financial year, to rush to use the unexpended balance of their votes. That practice leads to waste and inefficiency, and the Government should take steps to check it. Provided that waste and inefficiency will be avoided, no honorable member desires to limit the financial provision for any governmental activity that is of vital importance to the country. That observation applies to the Estimates for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. However, whilst the estimate last year for this organization was £3,660,000, of which £3,533,934 was actually expended against a background of full employment and, according to the Treasurer, a year of maximum prosperity, the committee is being asked to approve a vote of £3,800,000 for the organization this year. No information has been supplied to the committee in justification of this proposed increased expenditure. Last year, the estimate for the Department of Labour and National Service was £1,860,000, of which £1,716,944 was actually expended, again, according to the Treasurer, in a year of maximum employment and prosperity, but this year that department is seeking a vote of £1,776,000, an increase of £60,000 over its actual expenditure last year. These increases may appear to be comparatively small in relation to the budget as a whole, but in the aggregate they represent a substantial increase in governmental expenditure. I repeat that no information has been given to the committee that would justify its approving of these proposed increases.
Increased financial provision is also being sought for the Department of Immigration but, in this instance, a satisfactory explanation has been offered for the proposed increase. We have been told that the Government is arranging to receive a greatly increased intake of immigrants into this country . this year. Administrative costs will increase to a corresponding degree. In addition, immigration supplies a vital need of Australia at present, and expenditure under this heading can be fully justified. I regard child immigration as one of the most important aspects of immigration as a whole, and I shall suggest to the Government a way in which it might make fuller use of various existing organizations to step up child immigration to this country. In association with a committee that has been seeking to assist orphans, and organizations that cater for child immigrants, I visited most of the orphanages and institutions for child immigrants in the Perth metropolitan area. Some of them are bringing out large numbers of children from Great Britain. Such children, because they are British, adapt themselves quickly to Australian conditions. Within a few years they will be Australians in every sense, except by birth. They will present no problems of assimilation and adjustment. Provided the Government plays its part, they will move naturally into the pattern of Australian community life, and take their place easily as workers and future leaders in the community. It is vital, therefore, that we play our full part with the institutions and the State Governments which share in this work, by ensuring that the maximum possible assistance is given to the institutions concerned so as to enable them to perform to the full their work of helping with the problems of child immigration and developing all its possibilities. The officials of all the institutions I visited all told me the same story. They receive a set amount for each child under their care; but if they wish to increase their expenditure in order to erect new buildings, or improve amenities, or to make the lives of the children more useful, and make their final adjustment in the community complete, they have to fight every inch of the way for the relatively small amount of assistance they receive. They are forced to seek assistance from both the State and the Commonwealth, as well as from other sources. Those institutions have to bear a great deal of the cost associated with their work, and then have to seek reimbursement. I suggest that, apart from natural increase, child immigration is the best means of increasing our population, because children are the most easily assimilable of all immigrants. It is our responsibility to make the work of the institutions as easy as possible. They should be given, in the first place, a flat rate for each child under their care but, in addition, they should be provided with special assistance where special needs exist, and special facilities where such are needed to make the lives of the children easier and to increase their future usefulness as citizens.
I believe that this is one of the most vital aspects of our population problem. Among the officials who are in charge of the institutions that I visited are men of different religions who, whatever their religion, would make their mark in any sphere of civil life. They would be at home in any branch of Australian public or civil life. Instead of occupying highly paid positions, however, they are giving their services, for very little remuneration, in the cause of humanity and of Australia’s future. The Government should examine this whole matter with a view, not only to the extension of the immigration of children, but also to the provision of the most generous help with the finances of these institutions. It should not adopt a cheeseparing attitude. It would not go wrong if it were even over-generous with financial assistance in that respect. The maximum that it can do should be done in order to help in this great work. Of all the ways in which we can expend revenue, I believe this to be one of the wisest.
– I shall direct my remarks to the Department of Labour and National Service, and specifically to the subject of national service training. I believe that the national service training scheme has been a tremendous success, not only because of the practical results that have been achieved by it, but also because of the strong support that it has received from the public. The results achieved in such a short, concentrated period of training are, from the purely military point of view, remarkable, as any honorable member who has seen the scheme in action will agree. Many honorable members have seen the scheme working at close hand. The scheme has had a second major result which has been achieved in the civic and social field. We hope that there may never be any need for the use, by the trainees, of the military training they have received. If that proves to be so, the second major result to which I have referred will more than justify the scheme in its entirety for it has raised the general health standards of our young people because, as is well known, trainees undergo medical and dental examinations. As any one who has seen national service training in action knows, there has been a ‘ marked improvement in the physical well-being and general physical standards of the trainees. ‘The general standards of youth in this country have also been raised because the men have been given an understanding of reasonable discipline, physical bearing has been improved and so has their ability to mix with their fellows in the community. In the training camps, city boys and country boys from all walks of life learn to live together and to mix as they will undoubtedly have to mix in the larger sphere of life later on. I believe that the training has also inculcated in these young men a sense of responsibility which, nowadays, is an important factor in community life. Suggestions have been made that the scheme will be modified. If it is to be modified I am deeply concerned about whether any modification -will affect its universal application.
I make it clear that the opinion I am about to express is my own personal view. It seems to me that it would be possible to affect the scheme by exempting youths who reside in specific areas, or who are engaged in particular industries, for example, rural industries, or by introducing a ballot system as at present followed in the United States of America. I doubt whether the first of these is of any great practical significance. I understand that the exemption from national training of youths who reside in far-flung areas like northern Queensland, the Northern Territory, and the north of Western Australia, is to all intents and purposes, in practice now, because a great deal of latitude applies in respect of national training to youths who reside in those areas. I oppose, however, any suggestion that all those engaged in a particular industry, for instance, rural industry, should be directly exempted. I do not think it can justly be argued, as some people may argue, that every person engaged in rural industry will necessarily be directed to continue to engage in such industry should war break out. Experience in the last war showed clearly tha* a high proportion of servicemen had been engaged in rural industry prior to their enlistment. I am certain that that would also be the case in the event of another -war. I have no doubt that more hardship can. be caused to people engaged in rural industry than would possibly be the case in respect of any other industry, if youths were arbitrarily called up for training. Such hardship would occur when a son was running a farm for his widowed mother. Other instances are perhaps only too familiar to honorable members, who have to deal with special cases.
I do not believe in mass exemptions, because I think that a wrong principle is involved. If we did not train young men who were employed in country areas, we should have a very large untrained group. I am not saying whether the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) was right or wrong when he stated that, if a certain number of atom bombs “were dropped on our big cities, the result would be resolved by a slugging match between the survivors, but let us assume that he was right. The survivors, in the main, would be in country areas and, if they had been totally exempted, they would be largely untrained. I repeat that I believe the idea of a mass ‘exemption of a particular industry or ‘category is wrong in principle-
– Does the honorable member believe in the ballot system ?
– I donot entirely believe in the ballot system, for the reason that I shall outline. I understand that that; system has been fairly satisfactory in America, but, if it were applied in Australia, it would fall down quite seriously in relation to hardship cases. A ballot would affect a particular person who was in the hardship category. He would be obliged to undergo training and would not have the privilege of having his training deferred. I return to the Question of having a trained, core of people in the country. We cannot ignore, as some people may, the possibility of a downward thrust through Asia. If. that downward thrust were to come, I think it would be, resolved principally in perimeter areas along the coast, or in the outer country areas.. I do not wish to develop that point further, hut. I believe that the Government is confronted by a big problem. Universal training is a problem on the political level, and. it is one that, ought to be resolved by the Cabinet. It is not, as may be suggested by some people, a prohlem that should be resolved by the chiefs of staff. It must be resolved on the political plane, and I think, it would be wrong to abandon a political principle that has been accepted and approved by the people.
.Like the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder), I wish to direct my remarks to a consideration of the Estimates for the Department of Labour and National. Service. However, I shall deal with a different aspect of the department’s activities. The vote for this department is affected by the ebb and flow of economic vicissitudes, and prevailing economic factors determine the amount that should be voted. Consequently. I feel justified in directing the attention of the committee to a matter that is having a considerable effect upon employment in a certain industry in Victoria. In that State, there is an organization which is known as the Victorian Furniture Industries Confederation, which, is a combination of the Guild of Furniture Manufacturers Limited and the Furnishers Society of Victoria. The confederation exercises its. very wide powers in an unfair manner, with a consequent marked effect upon the activities of a firm that is engaged in the furniture trade.
I shall develop the story during the fifteen minutes that are at my disposal, but, before doing so, I wish to direct the attention of the committee to the following objects that are set out in the confederation agreement : -
The objects of the: Confederation shall be (inter aiia) -
to prescribe and promulgate a code defining fair trading practice which should exist between manufacturer, retailer and the public;
to protect and promote the interests of the furniture and’ allied industries generally and for that purpose to take such concerted action in matters affecting directly or indirectly the mutual interests of the Guild and the Society;
Because of those objects, a person who wishes to become a member of the confederation, but who is refused membership, discovers that the possibility of his trading with any of. the retailers who subscribe to the agreement is almost nonexistent..
I have in mind a firm in my electorate, John Lawler and Sons Proprietary Limited, of Vere-street, Collingwood, the parent: firm of which is situated at Australiastreet, Camperdown,New South Wales: That firm employs a number of females, and one or two males, for the purpose of assembling inner-spring mattresses. The original principals of the parent firm were, members of the Quaker persuasion. Although the firm applied for admission to the confederation as an associate member, it was told, that because of; the religious scruples of its principals, it would not be admitted. The parent firm endeavoured to extend the ramifications of its business to Victoria, but discovered that it could not, sell its inner-spring mattresses to retailers, who were members of the guild. It. has the melancholy spectacle of its turnover in Victoria being curtailed unfairly by the arbitrary attitudeof the Victorian Furniture Industries Confederation. That attitude has had a marked effect upon the firm’s employment figures, which in turn imposes a strain upon the vote for the Department of Labour and National Service. Because the firm was refused membership of the confederation, and because retailers were told by letter that they must not buy mattresses from John Lawler and Sons Proprietary Limited, its retail sales to ten retailers have dropped from 1,776 in 1948, to approximately 1,300 at the present time. In the same period, its annual turnover in Victoria has dropped from £74,804 to £58,894. That loss of turnover has resulted in unemployment. I take strong exception, as do State and municipal representatives in the electorate that I represent, to the unfair and arbitrary action of the confederation towards persons who cannot, or who will not, belong to it. Of course, any added impetus given to the activities of the Department of Labour and National Service by unemployment increases its expenditure.
I shall refer to certain other activities of this monopolistic group. If they do not constitute a mild form of gestapo rule, I know nothing of Nazi-ism. I shall quote extracts from a confidential document published by the guild and issued to various approved subscribing members. Employees of every retail or manufacturing furniture company that belongs to it have a threat hanging over their heads of which they are probably unaware. A strict record of their names and addresses must be kept by the companies, as clause 5 of this confidential document proves. It reads as follows : -
A record of the names of employees, their addresses and classifications shall be furnished to the Guild by its members and members shall notify the Guild in writing any changes therein within 7 days of such change taking place. In the case of dismissal the reason for such dismissal shall be stated.
Clause 6 of the same document, which deals with complaints, is as follows: -
Any complaints from members relating to matters of employment must be made in writing to the Guild within 14 days of ascertaining the circumstances. It is .particularly desirable that any retailer offending against the principles of the above rules (1), (2), (3), (4), shall be reported to the Guild seeing that the Furnishers Society of Victoria has agreed to conform to the principles of those rules.
By means of a series of embargoes against employers who break the agreement, small manufacturers and retailers in Victoria are practically forced out of business. The practices of the guild are so objectionable that representatives of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia have had some very adverse comments to make upon them. I shall repeat those comments here because I believe that the widest possible publicity should be given to the tactics and the attitude of the Victorian Furniture Industries Confederation.
The Victorian President of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. Mr. N. D. Wilson stated, according to a recent issue of the Melbourne Herald that, although the furniture manufacturers’ guild prevented its members from buying inner-spring mattresses from the firm of ex-servicemen I mentioned earlier, it had no objection to the company’s rubberized-hair cot and pram mattresses and similar products. Mr. Wilson said that inquiries made by the league pointed strongly to the existence of a virtual monopoly of furniture retailers in Victoria. I point out also that the monopoly covers the field of employment. It operates in restraint of fair trade, both within the State and between Victoria and other States, and it has an extremely adverse effect upon employment. Mr. Wilson went on to say that the Returned Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia was continuing its investigations and that, when it had received written evidence from other ex-servicemen affected by the monopoly, it would seek government intervention to prevent restrictive practices in the furniture trade.
I have here an extract from another Melbourne newspaper, which confirms the statements I have already made and which will help to give honorable members some idea of the iniquitous practices of the confederation. This matter affects the company that I mentioned earlier in my speech - John Lawler and Son Proletary Limited. The general manager of that company commented that compulsory unionism for employees was a “baby” compared with compulsory “guildism” among furniture and bedding manufacturers. He added that the Guild of Furniture Manufacturers Limited exercised a stranglehold oyer the furniture manufacturing industry in Victoria. I add the comment that it also exercises a stranglehold over the employment of tradesmen in the industry. The general manager went on to say that John Lawler and Son Proprietary Limited had withdrawn from the guild in New South Wales and would not join the Victorian guild because the proprietors preferred to operate as individuals and were opposed to the restrictive and punitive methods that those organizations could exercise. The exercise of a reciprocal trading agreement between the Victorian Guild of Furniture Manufacturers Limited and the Furnishers Society of Victoria had caused retailers to cancel bedding orders with hi3 firm. I have been supplied with a file of letters sent to the company by various retailers expressing regret that orders originally placed with it had to be cancelled because the guild had warned them not to buy its products because it did not happen to be a member of the guild.
I have heard many references in this chamber to the allegedly pernicious attitude of those who sponsor compulsory trade unionism. But here is the antithesis of compulsory unionism in the form of a confederation of employers. This monopoly has a major detrimental effect upon employment in the furniture trade, and therefore it affects, in turn, the activities of the Department of Labour and National Service and increases its expenses. Pernicious practices of this sort should be exposed to public scrutiny. That is why I have ventilated the matter for the benefit of the committee. Action should be taken by the Government to suppress this monopoly exercised by the Guild of Furniture Manufacturers Limited and the Furnishers Society of Victoria. Indeed, if sufficient publicity were given to the fact, I believe the blast of public opinion would prevent the confederation from continuing to exercise its fell practices.
– I propose to direct my remarks first of all to the Department of Immigration and then, on another point, to the Department of National Development. I noticed in Column 8 in the Sydney Morning Herald a few days ago a paragraph in which it was stated that a distinguished new Australian, who had been in this country for over twenty years and who was not unconnected with the assimilation of other new Australians into this country, admitted that, although he had been here for so long, he had not yet learned what the Australian way of life was. Apparently Dr. Lloyd Ross, who was present on the same occasion, said that as far as he was concerned, of course, it meant membership of a. trade union. That was a jocular paragraph, of course, but it directs attention to the fact that new Australians, and perhaps old Australians, are not very clear in their minds about the Australian way of life.
Anybody who has travelled in the United States of America must have noticed the intense loyalty to that country of even the newest new Americans, and their attachment, despite their previous backgrounds, to the basic ideals of American democracy. There may be many factors that lead to that result, but I propose to draw attention to one - perhaps a relatively small one - about which something perhaps may be done in Australia. No new citizen is admitted to the United States of America unless he has passed an examination in the history and principles of the American way of life. An applicant for citizenship must have a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, principles and form of government of the United States of America. As a matter of fact, courses are provided for new American citizens, and, if they are certified as having completed those courses, tie examination is a very simple one for them.
The American examination procedure shows the growth of the understanding of democracy in the United States of America, and it emphasizes the fact that sovereignty springs from the people, that the Constitution is paramount, and that government is by laws, and not by people. It emphasizes, also, those fundamental principles that we all understand - that all men are equal in the eyes of the law, and that they are entitled to the benefits of the charter of human rights and freedom, which embodies freedom of religion, of speech, of the press, and of assembly. These principles may seem elementary to us, but they are not elementary to many of the people who come from European countries. I suggest that as the examination system has been helpful to the Americans, “who are a very practical people in these matters, it may be helpful to us to give it consideration. In that connexion, might I mention another matter. I was privileged to be present at the last Australian Citizenship Convention, in Canberra. Those conventions are sponsored annually by the Department of Immigration for the benefit of various persons who are interested in the assimilation of immigrants into Australia. At the last convention, the form of the naturalization ceremony was discussed, in particular, by Mr. J. R. Darling, the headmaster of the Geelong “Grammar School, and by other persons of authority and standing in the community, who suggested that a charge, or address - call it what you like - should be incorporated in the naturalization ceremony, set out in the clearest and noblest language that can be compassed by some of the best minds in Australia in an attempt to set down something of the essence of the Australian way of life, our democratic principles of government, and the purpose and the responsibilities also of the new citizens. That procedure would obviate some of the addresses that are customarily delivered at naturalization ceremonies, and would result in a little more understanding of the Australian way of life than was illustrated in the jocular paragraph to which I referred a few moments ago. That suggestion, also, I commend to the attention of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt).
I pass on, in the few minutes that are left to me, to the discussion of a matter that relates to the administration of the Department of National Development, which is concerned with housing, among other things. Housing is not altogether unrelated to immigration. If we bring into Australia substantial numbers of immigrants, as I believe we must do in the years that lie immediately ahead, housing is likely to cause one of the principal bottlenecks that might hamper the immigration scheme. Since a great shortage of savings exists in the Australian community, the policy of trying to house people” in big projects undertaken by State housing commissions, which obtain the necessary finance through public ‘loans, is less efficient than the policy of encouraging citizens to build their own homes, and thereby harnessing all the most powerful motives of personal thrift in the effort to achieve the object of building houses. It is much easier to get people to save, even out of small incomes, if the object of the saving is the purchase of their own homes, than it is to get them to subscribe £100 or more to government loans at low rates of interest, which the Australian Labour party, incidentally, wishes to push even lower, and so make government loans even less attractive investments. The present policy seems to favour pouring money into housing commissions rather than, for example, into cooperative building societies and other channels that will harness the thrift of the individual.
I notice that, on the 7th of this month, it was reported that Mr. “Wallace G. Pooley, the general secretary of the Association of Co-operative Building Societies of New South Wales, claimed that whereas immediately after World War II., £14,000,000 to £15,000,000 a year was advanced to building societies, in 1951-52, the advances were reduced to £12,000,000, in 1952-53, to £11,000,000, and, in 1953-54, to £7,000,000, and Mr. Pooley feared that in the current financial year the advances might decline to the low amount of £5,000,000. I am aware that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) was asked a question on that matter to-day, and that, although he did not have the figures before him, he denied, broadly, that the position was as Mr. Pooley put it. Nevertheless, I suggest that for the purpose of providing houses we should rely far less on public loans and State housing commissions, and far more on channels such as co-operative building societies, which will harness the thrift of the people. In that connexion, may I invite attention to the latest figures announced by the Commonwealth Statistician, from which it appears that a tremendous number of citizens are building their own homes without the aid of building contractors. These statistics are very surprising. In 1951-52, 52,125 houses were contractbuilt and 25,851 were owner-built. The proportion of dwellings constructed by owner-builders increased in 1952-53, when 48,041 homes were contract-built, and 29,289 were owner-built. It is clear from those figures that a substantial number of Australians are acting as their own builders and, with the help of their friends, are setting about putting roofs over their heads. That initiative is not to be deprecated, but rather to be encouraged. If we are to bring more immigrants to Australia, obviously, the more we can harness the leisure time of our workers for the task of providing homes, which they must have, the better it will be for the community at large.
Far more should be done to help ownerbuilders than is clone at present. There are now many of them. Their numbers have increased steadily, and it is good that the numbers should become even greater, and governments, so far as they can, should help them in their task. In Sweden, owner-builders receive help under a highly developed scheme, under which they are provided with pre«ut timber. Furthermore - and this is the point that I want to emphasize - the small amount of technical assistance that is so desirable is made available to them. Hitherto nothing of that kind has been done by the State governments in Australia. I do not think that it would be outside the functions of this Administration to give assistance of that kind, if the States do not. I have not time to discuss the other causes of bottlenecks in housing. I have been concerned, in view of the tightness of the economy, as it has been termed, that, in the first place, we should harness every motive of thrift and saving in the task of building houses for Australian-born citizens and immigrants, and that, in the second place, we should harness all the spare time that so many of our workers have, by reason of our short working hours, for the task of home construction.
.The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) referred to the assimilation of immigrants and the rate of immigration. I wish to discuss the principles of Australia’s immigration policy. Some time ago, the Indian High Commissioner, General Cariappa, made a statement that was widely publicized. I am not critical of the spirit in which the statement was made or of its contents. I would say only that persons who enjoy diplomatic status, not only in Australia but also in other countries, are in a privileged position, and, if they enter into controversial fields, they can hardly expect their statements to go unanswered. In criticizing the White Australia policy, the High Commissioner of India followed a line that I regret to say, from my own general observations and from my experience with Indians, is all too common. Perhaps it might be true to say that naming our immigration policy the White Australia policy has given rise to certain criticism, but to my mind any such criticism is merely superficial because if we called our policy by any other name the people who at present criticize it would continue to do so.
Australia follows an immigration policy in which the principles of selection and restriction are the same as those followed by every other country throughout the world. I should like to know from the critics of the White Australia policy the name of any other country that follows an immigration policy that ia not based upon the two principles that I have already enunciated. Strangely enough, I have found that most of the criticism that is directed at our White Australia policy comes from Indians. As Australia’s policy is not fundamentally different from that of any other country, why should we become the butt of Indian criticism? Much of the criticism of Indians is not only unwarranted but is also ill-founded. About two years ago .1 attended a conference in Montreal, which a delegation of about five Indians also attended. Every Indian speaker at that conference criticized the White Australia policy, and much of that criticism, like other statements that Indians make from time to time, was completely unfounded. Indeed, one of the Indian delegates, in his attack on the White Australia policy, made a statement based, on something that Gromyko had said about eighteen months previously when he was criticizing our treatment of the natives of New Guinea.
Generally throughout Asia the White Australia policy causes- little or no concern. It, is criticized only in certain parts of India. I do not intend to criticize General Cariappa, but may I ask what Indians have done in the places to which they have emigrated to commend themselves as immigrants? For example, I point to the situation in Fiji, and I suggest that those people who defend the Indian criticism of the White Australia policy have a lot to answer for in the situation that has developed in that island. I said earlier that it is the basic and natural right of all countries of the world to determine their immigration policies. Australia, in determining its policy, is only adhering to principles that are natural and right, and are generally accepted throughout the world. This country has no territorial ambitions, and its policies are directed with malice towards none. Therefore, I suggest that the principles and the conditions that we are observing in our immigration policy are natural and right, and that it is quite easy not only to defend but also to uphold the policy that we have steadfastly followed in this country. Moreover, 99 per cent, of the Australian people support that policy.
I suggest that some Indians who criticize Australia and its immigration policy might direct their attention to the situation in some of the countries in Asia close to India. If honorable members consider the development that is taking place in Asia, they will discover that some of the Indians who are so quick to criticize Australia and its policies, should be directing their criticism towards the policies of other Asian countries. It is a fact that there are certain countries in Asia to-day which have immigration policies that are directed specifically against the immigration of Indians, and are operating harshly and unjustly. The silence in that respect of the people who are so vocal against Australia’s immigration policy is remarkable. The countries that surround India have been compelled to impose restrictions on the admission of Indians, and, indeed, that seems to be the general attitude throughout all parts of Asia to which Indians have emigrated in the past. Not only the immediate neighbours of India restrict the immigration of Indians, but other countries in Asia also restrict them by harsh laws directed particularly against Indians. That being bo, it is somewhat irritating to hear carping criticism being continually levelled against Australia from Indian sources.
Criticism has come not only from the Indian High Commissioner in Australia, it has also come from Indian delegates in most international conferences. They can all be depended upon to criticize the White Australia policy. Strangely enough, at the conference to which I alluded earlier, the Indians were the only delegates among those from all the countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations who even referred to the White Australia policy. Therefore, I submit that this Indian criticism is somewhat superficial. If Australia were doing something wrong, or something that no other country in the world was doing, or even if we were departing from wellestablished immigration principles, the criticism directed against us would have some substance. But, as our policy is moulded along well-established lines, none of the criticism should be taken seriously.
It has been suggested that if we established a quota system for the admission of! Asians, some of the grounds for criticism would be removed. However, I have no doubt that if a quota system were instituted, the same kind of criticism that we suffer from to-day would continue. Those who support a quota system, cannot justify their attitude on the ground that certain countries of Asia are overcrowded, because the number of people that we could take from those countries would in no way solve their population problems. Asian countries, particularly India, are overcrowded ; but if any person thinks that by admitting large numbers of Asians to this country we shall help tosolve Asian problems of overcrowding, I shall refer him to a letter from an Indian student in Australia published some months ago by one of our Australian newspapers. The student stated that if a ship from India brought 1,500’ persons to Australia every day for the next ten years, that contribution towards a solution of India’s population problem would be negligible. Therefore, honorable members will realize that even someIndians themselves admit that whatever- we might do by way of taking immigrants from India will not even go a short way towards solving Indian population problems. One of the most common pleas of any nation that desires another to absorb some of its population, is that its country is overcrowded. But, as it appears to be quite clear that we cannot relieve India’s overcrowding, even by taking large numbers of Indians into this country under a quota system, why is the Indian propaganda continued against the White Australia policy?
I wholeheartedly support the White Australia policy, and I have no apology to make for it. It is a policy that has stood the test of time, and has served this country well. Although we have a White Australia policy, we have some minority groups, and Australia has extended to its minorities a degree of equity and justice that has not been extended to minorities by many other countries of the world. Our minorities range up to about 20,000 people, and if honorable members will take the trouble to look up the figures they will find them rather astonishing. However, our treatment of those minorities is such as to make us feel proud to be Australians, and also places us in a position where we cannot be criticized about them. I submit that the White Australia policy, or whatever our immigration policy might be called, has vindicated itself, and has enabled us to treat our minorities in a way that might well be followed by some of our critics.
– I agree with many of the remarks of the honorable member for Martin (Mr. O’Connor), particularly those that drew attention to the consistent critics of our immigration policy. Honorable members should remember that this policy has been enforced since its formation by both Labour and nonLabour governments. Some people seem to take a delight in advocating that Australia should open its doors to all types of people. The reply to those persons was given by a Pakistani leader who said that he wanted to assure Australia that the people of his country were contented, that they had sufficient to eat and that if they needed more they would produce it themselves.
It is most interesting to notice that for many centuries Australia was not populated at all except by a few aborigines. During all that time those who now desire to come into this country could have settled here, but did not do so. It fell to the lot of the British people to pioneer Australia, to labour under very harsh and difficult conditions to make our country into what it is to-day, and to give it the character which now makes it such a desirable place for so many peoples. Our forefathers developed this country through their sweat and skill and brains, and we propose to use it as they showed us how to do so, and to give expression to the vision that they had. I consider that those persons who wish to open the flood-gates to the people who could have come here if they had wished, are ill-advised and misguided.
I desire to discuss the proposed vote for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, which is rounding off in a brilliant manner the work of the people to whom I have referred. The Parliament and the people of Australia owe a great debt to this organization. An amount of £4,69S,000 is to be made available to it in this financial year. Of that sum, £3,800,000 is to be provided by the Government, and £898,000 will be contributed by way of grants from outside sources. I notice that all the money made available to the organization last year was not expended, and I am informed that the reason was the shortage of trained technical staff to undertake all the work that had been planned. The money could have been expended, if the staff had been larger. It is most unfortunate that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has not had enough trained personnel to undertake important work in primary production and industrial research.
I notice that the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) is “shaping up” across the chamber. We know that he is somewhat pugnacious, but I hope that he will desist and listen to my remarks on the wool industry. Perhaps that subject is not so interesting to the honorable member as the security service, but I remind him that the wool industry makes it possible for Australians to have their high, standard of living. That industry is the foremost among the great primary industries which provide 90 per cent* of our income from exports. It enables Australians to have a short working week while receiving high rates of pay-
– Did the honorable member make a wisecrack?
– I am glad that at last I have gained the attention of the honorable member for Parkes. I hope that we shall be able to liven up the proceedings. The honorable member represents an electorate in the inner metropolitan area of Sydney, and I point out, for- his enlightenment, that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization employs men who have the scientific culture to which the honorable, gentleman, who is a literary man, always pays his tribute. Some of those scientists have made it possible for the wool industry to be even more wonderful than it would otherwise have been in sustaining this country. Pasture research conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has made a tremendous contribution to the flourishing condition of the industry, and the work of the “Wild Life Section, particularly with myxomatosis, has been excellent. I should like to emphasize the value of the work performed by the Wild Life Section. One officer employed at the laboratories of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization at Black Mountain, is Mr. Ratcliffe. He is an unassuming gentleman, who is quite prepared to give credit to a number of other people for a scientific achievement. He works in one corner with many others in a lan;e unpretentious office. I do not think that there is a carpet on the floor. He takes work home with him at night, seven days a week. He is just one of the scientists employed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. This country, in recognition of his brilliant work with myxomatosis awarded him a Coronation Medal. I understand that he also had the opportunity to sit at dinner with Her Majesty the Queen when she was here earlier this year, and that was also some recognition of the value of Ms- work to Australia.
Conservative estimates show that the income of wool-growers, as the result of the destruction wrought by myxomatosis, was increased by £30,000,000. A careful study of trends of average fleece weights in recent years shows that 0.4 lb. of the increased cut of wool a head in 1952-53 was due directly to reduced competition from rabbits. This amounts to 50,000,000 lb. of wool. Myxomatosis must also be given credit for at least half the additional 4,000,000 sheep shorn in that year, which represented a further gain of 18,000,000 lb. of wool. To this must be added the value of additional sheep and lambs on hand, and the extra sheep and lambs slaughtered, which is estimated in all at about £10,000,000.
That is only a part of the story of the success of myxomatosis. When rabbits are removed from pastures, soft grasses such as clover and English grass, which are not cut out by large stock, begin to compete with coarser types of grass. As soon as the rabbits are destroyed, clovers and other soft grasses begin to grow, and they improve the fertility of the soil. Consequently, there is an accumulating benefit from the use of myxomatosis, and over the years we shall gain the advantage of the success of this scourge of the rabbit pest. Indeed, myxomatosis almost wiped out the rabbit population, and we can see the effect in the quality of our pastures on every hand.
Officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization have devoted a lot of time to pastureresearch, particularly on the Southern Tablelands, where very fine wools are produced. This’ research has indicated that the carrying capacity of some millions of acres’ can be increased at least threefold by the correction of soil deficiencies of molybdenum, sulphur, phosphorus and lime. Sir John Russell, the British scientist at the Rothamstead research station, discovered that without the presence of molybdenum, clover could not- fix iii; the- soil the nitrogen which it had extracted from- the atmosphere. With molybdenum present in the quantity of’ 2 oz. an acre acting as a catalytic agent, clover can fix nitrogen in the soil. It is notorious that Australia has been’ short, of nitrogen for centuries^ and experts; in the Division of Plant Industry under Dr. Fraenkel, who, I believe, has come here from Vienna, have done a magnificent job. The increase of carrying capacity of some of the improved pastures is fantastic. We have now improved the pastures on about 20,000,000 acres, but in the next, generation we should improve the pastures on 100,000,000 acres, and our sheep flocks should greatly increase. We should be able to produce the world’s requirements of wool, and, in addition, large quantities of mutton, lamb, hides and all the by-products of the wool industry. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has stated that the principal income of Australia in the future will be provided by our mineral resources. I say, in reply, that our mineral resources will need to move fast if the income from them is to overtake the income from the wool industry under the stimulus provided by the scientists employed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
– We are not afraid of the threat of synthetic materials to the wool industry.
– Substitute materials are competing with wool, but the demand, for wool is slowly but surely increasing. The graph showing the consumption of wool is slowly rising in spite of the tremendous competition from the manufacturers of synthetic materials, including the Du Pont organization. Evidently, the wool industry is in the world to stay, and we can say fervently, on behalf of Australia, “ Thank God for that “. The honorable member for Parkes, and the people whom he represents, should re-echo that, because the wool industry is responsible for their high standard of living.
Other activities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization should also be mentioned. Australia requires from 35,000 to 40,000 tons of vegetable oils per annum. Only about 1,500 tons is produced annually in Australia, and the balance of the requirements is imported. With the exception of copra, the bulk of which originates from Papua and New Guinea, most of our imports, of vegetable oils come from India,. China, West. Africa and Western Europe. Research by the Division of Plant Industry during the last five years has shown that safflower, not sunflower, is the oil crop best adapted to our variable growing conditions. This crop can be harvested by wheat-harvesting machinery, and if it is grown in our northern wheat areas in the temperate zone, it could satisfy all our requirements of vegetable oils. Additional investigations will be required to complete experiments with safflower, but at the present rate of progress, it should be possible by 1956 to establish its production as a sizeable commercial industry.
Dr. D. F. Stewart, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, has been investigating the causes of foot-rot of sheep. The details of his work are available to honorable members for perusal. The campaign against cattle-tick has been intensified. It now appears that, through strategic dipping with DDT or gammexane and rotational grazing, effective control can be maintained at reduced cost. Research by the Division of Plant Industry during the past eight years has shown that hoary’ cress, a very serious weed problem in the fertile wheat-growing areas of the Victorian Wimmera, can be effectively controlled by hormone weed killers. Crop yields are increased by the use of selective sprays, and it has been found that two applications of the spray will permamently reduce the hoary cress problem to negligible proportions.
A process has been developed for the extraction of wax from the mud in the sugar mills, which was formerly wasted or used as a fertilizer. The refined wax is an excellent substitute for the imported carnauba wax, which is used for the manufacture of boot polishes and furniture creams, and will probably replace it completely.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I notice that the proposed vote for the Department of Labour and National Service this year is £1,776,000, which is a few thousand pounds more than the expenditure in the last financial year. I should like the increased provision this year to be many thousand pounds more than the expenditure last year if justice would thereby be done to certain persons who now appear to be social outcasts. I refer to men and women who are mentally and physically handicapped. Provision is made in the Social Services Consolidation Act for people whose incapacity is 85 per cent, or more, but many borderline cases do not qualify for the invalid pension and other benefits under that legislation. Those people are not fit enough to take their places in industry, fmd they are social outcasts. They are not acceptable to industry for employment, although they are registered at Commonwealth employment offices, and are told from time to time to get light, work. We all ‘know that there are no light jobs in any industry. A person who is not 100 per cent, capable of doing a job is not wanted in industry.
I consider that it is the responsibility of the Government, and the Department of Labour and National Service, to dc more for those unfortunate people than is being done at the present time. Management in industry, the Government and the department should confer on this important matter with a view to determining how much more can be done for those persons. People who are sixteen years of age, or older, and have 85 per cent, incapacity, are immediately entitled to various benefits under the Social Services Consolidation Act. They receive free medical treatment and hospitalization, and that assistance enables them to get by ; but I am concerned about persons who just do not measure up to that standard. Rehabilitation schools have been established in each State, and some of these persons who do not enjoy 100 per cent, mental or physical capacity, but possess a certain degree of ability, are given the opportunity through training at those schools to qualify for jobs in industry that call for only limited capacity. That great plan was initiated by the Labour Government in 1941. I am glad that this Government has carried on that work and has, to a degree, developed it. In the first year of the operation of that plan, 500 pensioners were rehabilitated, and in that way the taxpayers were saved substantial expenditure which, otherwise, would have been incurred in the payment of pensions to these persons. Of equal importance is the fact that under that plan these persons were enabled to contribute to production and to play their part in the community, as well as to gain great personal benefit.
I urge the Government to give greater consideration to the needs of this section of the community. I am pleased to note that several employers’ federations have endeavoured to do something in this direction, but, un fortunately, they have failed to obtain full co-operation from the Minister. Officers of the Department of Labour and National Service have done a certain amount of good for this class of persons, but those officers could do much for them if they received greater support and encouragement from the Minister, i am sorry that the Minister is not present to hear this important debate. He has become known as the “ great gallivanter “.
– His attention will be directed to the honorable member’s remarks.
– Is the honorable member suggesting that the Minister should not be elsewhere?
– Recently, the Employers’ Federation of Victoria, stated publicly that it was very disappointed at the failure of the Minister to co-operate with it in making provision for the class of persons to whom I refer. The federation made a survey of disabled persons who, they considered, could be placed in production, and issued a statement in which it severely criticized the Minister for his lack of co-operation. That statement read -
The Federal Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) has been content to hide himself behind a smoke-screen nf half truths and inaccurate figures to cover the inadequacies of his own approach to this problem.
Mr. Holt’s tragic policy of giving low priority to the needs of the physically handicapped must be changed.
The Minister must not be permitted to allow unnecessary wastage both of public funds and valuable human beings who have been thrown on the scrap heap - only because Mr. Holt has not developed the machinery in his department which will enable jobs to be found for all who want them.
– About which Minister was that statement made?
– The Minister for Labour and National Service, who is now at the Mau Mau conference. The statement of the Employers Federation of Victoria continued -
We consider him personally responsible.
The existence of the tragic little army of pensioners (building up at the minimum ratu of 4]0 annually) has not been denied.
The survey shows that the p.h. are regarded as good to excellent workers by a variety of employers. lt is curious that so many of this group are out of work. lt is the task of the Minister to see that nil who can help the community and themselves by working should be given the opportunity.
The federation’s survey recommendations are simple enough and are well within our powers and our purse.
If adopted and properly applied they will not only pay handsomely for themselves but will pay off in greater dividends in human terms.
Employers are interested in the problem because they are affected as taxpayers by this wasteful policy and the fact that they are employers of labour . and there is a serious shortage of labour.
Any persons capable of employment should be used in the jobs to which they arc fitted.
The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) cited the survey which was conducted in Victoria recently and which revealed that 2,100 physically handicapped persons in that State alone, who were capable of performing a substantial degree of useful work in industry, had not been provided with employment, and that if those persons had been found employment a sum of £5,000,000 would have been saved in the payment of pensions to this class of person over a period of five years. On humanitarian grounds, the Government should do everything within its power to enable these persons to become asset3 instead of remaining liabilities to the community. I emphasize that suitable jobs exist for them in certain industries in which labour is in short supply. The Minister should set up the requisite machinery and give greater power to his departmental officers to place these persons in suitable jobs. I commend those officers for the effective work that they are doing in spite of their restricted -opportunities and lack of support by the
Minister. In this respect, I shall instance a case about which I made representations to the officers of the department in New South Wales. Last month, I received the following letter from the department’s Sydney office: -
With further reference to your personal representations on behalf of Mr. A. Blood, of 11 Monaro-a venue, Kingsgrove, I am pleased to be able to advise that he has now been placed in employment as a capstan-lathe operator with L. & F. Products, of Ramsgate
You will, I am sure, be interested to know that, in obtaining <this position for Mr. Blood, who as you are aware is blind, my District Employment Officer at Kogarah arranged with the employer to make certain adjustment to his plant and to afford Mr. Blood an opportunity of demonstrating his ability to operate the adjusted lathe. The District Employment Officer has also, with the co-operation of the local bus proprietor, arranged for the bus to stop specially to pick up Mr. Blood in the morning and set him down in the evening and so permit him to travel virtually from door to door.
I think you will agree that a great deal of credit is due to all concerned, Mr. Blood himself, who had never operated a similar machine before, the employer for his wise and sympathetic attitude, the bus proprietor of Foley’s Bus Service for his assistance, and not least the District Officer and his staff for their successful efforts on Mr. Blood’s behalf.
That man was blind, but he was enabled to take his place in industry and contribute to production. I know of many other instances in which persons in similar circumstances have been found positions in industry by officers of the department. Time will not permit me to make several suggestions that I should otherwise make on this occasion. I shall content myself with urging the Minister to extend the general social services plan for invalid pensioners in order to meet the needs of persons who are partially incapacitated mentally or physically, and who do not qualify for a pension and are not acceptable in industry unless they are partially trained. These persons should be brought within the scope of any governmental rehabilitation plan.
The Government should initiate a scheme for civilians similar to that which was provided for ex-servicemen of World War II., who, owing to war service, had been denied the opportunity to learn a trade or profession. Those men, upon their return from service, were trained under the Commonwealth
Reconstruction Training Scheme. As a result of that training, thousands of men were placed in industry, but until they became 100 per cent, skilled in their trades their wages were subsidized by the Government. This Government should initiate a similar scheme for the purpose of helping physically and mentally incapacitated persons of the class that I have indicated. Even persons who would be only 50 per cent, efficient shoul’d be enabled to make their contribution to production. But, above all, on humanitarian grounds, the Government should provide assistance to these persons in the way that I have indicated.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I should like to deal with the subject which my colleague the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) was discussing when his time expired. It is particularly appropriate at a time when so much discussion is centred on Australia’s export industries and the enormous part that they play in the national economy, that we should pay some attention to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization which, probably, is making a greater contribution than is any other organization to our economy. I have spent my life in primary production, and I am privileged to represent an electorate whose primary production is more diverse than that of any other electorate.
– I thought that the honorable member was a director of a bank.
– I have, at times, as a result of my experience in primary production, been deemed, suitable for appointment to boards of financial institutions that have a direct interest in primary industry. The Parliament owes a debt to the director and staff of the Commonwealth Scientific . and Industrial Research Organization for the part that they are playing in helping the farmers of Australia to support and develop the national economy.
I propose, briefly, to discuss some of the problems that now confront primary producers and to indicate the directions in which the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is giving valuable and magnificent assistance in helping our farmers on their way. In this rather cursory review I should say that the output of primary products from the acres of Australia is affected by four main factors. The first of these is the vagaries of our rainfall. There ia an extraordinary diversity in the average rainfall in our rainfall areas. The second factor is that a large part of our rainfall areas is mainly composed of soils of poor fertility. The third factor I wish to mention concerns diseases of stock and plants, and the fourth, which is probably as important as the others, concerns the control of vermin and parasites. The amount of scientific knowledge available to farmers to-day is rapidly being extended, and is being made more easy of practical application to the problems of primary production. A primary responsibility of primary producers is to make intelligent use of the knowledge that is being made available to them as a result of the work of such organizations as the Commonwealth Scientific anil Industrial Research Organization and its partners, the Departments of Agriculture in the States. I was particularly pleased to note that the vote for this great organization is to be increased this year. Th? honorable member for Macarthur mentioned that last year’s vote was not expended entirely, mainly because of the fact that full recruitment of necessary technical staff was not possible. I hope that within the current twelve months a full staff will be available to assist with the great work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
The first factor affecting primary production I mentioned wai rainfall. Whilst it would be idle to suggest that, at the moment, rain could be made to fall, at will, there is no doubt that the application of scientific knowledge to the problem of rain-making is being pursued in a very vigorous manner, and that although it may be optimistic to expect complete control of rainfall in our own lifetime it would not be foolish to predict that some day it will be a practical proposition. Water utilization is possibly of almost a? much importance as is rainfall. Because of the layout of our river system water is not readily available in some areas in which it is wanted. That fact makes it more than ever necessary that information on the subject of irrigation methods should be available to people who require it. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is doing excellent work in that directon. Lack of rainfall, and inability to use to the full the waters that are available in our river systems, are probably two of the main weaknesses that affect Australia. As far as possible these two problems are being tackled effectively by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, which is making the results of its research available to farmers.
Outstanding results have been achieved during the last five or six years in relation to the infertility of the soil in many of our rainfall areas, which was the second factor to which I referred. The work that has been done on marginal, and practically valueless, land has been spectacular. The honorable member for Macarthur mentioned, for instance, the results achieved in pasture improvement by the addition of trace elements to the soil, and in fertilization by the use of nitrogenproducing legumes. I do not propose tj cover that ground again at length, f consider that, in this one direction alone, the work done in the past few years by organizations like the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, has had a most spectacular and meteoric success. I have some personal knowledge of this subject. In the course of 30 or 40 years I have had the opportunity to see a complete change in the properties and condition of soils on farms with which I have been connected. I believe that, with the use of these methods, and the application of technical common sense to pasture improvement, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that some day we shall be able to build up the fertility of our soil to compare with the soil fertility of England, which is one of England’s greatest assets. Research on soil fertility is a magnificent contribution by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research
Organization to the development of our rural industries and of the capital value of this continent.
The third factor that I mentioned concerns stock and plant diseases. I think that the money being devoted to expenditure by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in this direction is being well spent, and will repay us for its expenditure. A great deal of knowledge gained by veterinary science has been brought to this subject, and has been used in conjunction with scientific developments in regard to the production of various kinds of chemicals and medicines, which are readily available to fanners. This is another branch of knowledge of which the farmer must make the greatest possible use. because it can have the greatest possible effect on our production. If we are careless, parasites and diseases can take terrific toll of our stock and plant production in the future, as they have done in the past.
The fourth factor I mentioned was vermin. The honorable member for Macarthur mentioned the extraordinary results achieved by myxomatosis. I venture to say that not long hence similar attacks will be made on vermin other than rabbits. In eastern Australia we have regular infestation by grasshoppers, which devour crops. It is. reasonable to assume that, with the knowledge now becoming available, this pest also will eventually be controlled. It all comes back to my original point that, as knowledge becomes available, not only to individual farmers but also to primary producers’ organizations, it must be put to practical use, or the achievement of it will be so much wasted effort. It is there to be used by people who have the intelligence to use it.
Land usage to-day is such a technical and political subject, particularly because of its connexion with international relations, that I do not think that we, as Australians, can afford to be backward in relation to it. Therefore we, as members of this Parliament who believe in the future development of Australia, owe a great debt of gratitude to Sir Ian Clunies Ross and his very able staff, who are doing much magnificent work designed to improve production. I should like to take this opportunity, as the parliamentary representative of a great rural electorate, to pay my personal tribute to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
.- The failure of the Administration to provide, in the Estimates, an adequate sum for expenditure by the Department of National Development, calls for the strongest censure of the Government by this committee. The lack of provision of adequate funds for that department shows clearly that the Government lacks plan, policy and purpose in regard to development. This insignificant vote clearly reveals that the Government is not really concerned with the development of Australia, but is content to continue with projects that were commenced by a former Labour administration. In these days of great stress and trial for our nation such an attitude will be deplored by every right-thinking individual in this country, and will even be secretly shared by at least those honorable members opposite who are interested in development. The Department of National Development has issued a booklet that deals with the subject of the development of Australia. I shall be unable to refer in detail to the information contained in that booklet, because it deals mainly with development in tie States and not with national development as such. It seems strange that we are obliged to listen to statements by Government spokesmen and apologists, including Cabinet Ministers, and others who are desirous of gaining front bench recognition, to the effect that all is well, and that the best is being done. This booklet clearly indicates that the major task of development in Australia is at present being carried out by State instrumentalities. This Parliament should express its disapproval of the inadequacy of the vote for the Department of National Development. It should try to induce the Government to take another look at this situation with a view to having a larger sum made available for development that will be in keeping with our present and future needs. The Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme, and its subsidiary works, are completely inadequate. From the point of view of our security alone, we should not concentrate on development of the southern States, which are remote from the real centre of gravity as far as defence is concerned. We should pay more attention to development of north Queensland, the Northern Territory and the northwestern part of Western Australia. One of the most important aspects of national development is the need for efficient transport, water supply and electricity services. Of extreme importance is the provision of rail links to enable the speedy transport of the mineral and agricultural wealth of the nation. The Government, has an unhappy complex which seems to spring mainly from the Australian Country party section of the Government, which is opposed to real development of the north of Australia. I was staggered earlier to-day to hear the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) declare that a rail link between northern Queensland and the Northern Territory is not considered necessary for defence and development. I take strong exception to such a statement and I consider that all honorable members who are interested in the development and defence of this country should protest vigorously against the attitude of mind that that statement expresses.
– He did not say anything of the sort.
– I can only hope that the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride), instead of expressing himself by interjection, will express himself by action, and will promulgate a policy that will forward the development of this country by building essential rail links which will also be of value to our defence. The views tenaciously held by the Australian Country party section of the Government are opposed to development. They have the same views in relation to the expansion of industry, the need for which receives the same scant respect from that section of the Government, which, unfortunately for the people of Australia, dominates the Government’s policy in every possible way.
The provision of adequate water supplies is important. I have searched the Estimates in vain for an indication that finance is to be made available for even one worthwhile project for the provision of an adequate water supply for the people in the north. If there is any such project at present under way I should like to know about it. Yet the Government has submitted to the committee Estimates that are ostensibly for national development, but which make no provision for improving water supplies in the north..
– What about the Snowy Mountains scheme?
– I remind the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) that the Snowy Mountains scheme is not in the north of Australia. The honorable member who has just re-entered the chamber may be excused for not having followed my remarks. The provision of a water supply would result in an increase of population, which, in turn, is linked with the question of immigration. A large section of Government supporters seems to adopt the attitude that to increase the population of the north is to do the wrong thing. To populate an area is the soundest way of defending it. Doubtless, the attitude of Government supporters is also the attitude of the Minister for Defence, whose responsibility it is to report occasionally to the Parliament on defence matters. I hope that, in addition to the implementation of a worthwhile scheme of water conservation, steps will be taken to establish a major undertaking for the production of electricity for Australia’s northern areas. Means of transport, water supply and the production of electricity are all essential to the development of Australia.
In addition, the expansion of the iron and steel industry is important. Honorable members know the difficulty that is being experienced by primary producers, builders and the Government in obtaining sufficient quantities of iron and steel for developmental works and defence projects. There seems to be in existence a Newcastle line, the acceptance of which is a very bad approach to the question of national development. If the Government were really concerned about developing Australia on a grand scale, it would draw plans for the erection, in our northern areas, of an iron and steel works in close proximity to supplies of coal and iron ore. But that step would not be in consonance with the attitude of Government supporters who object to the establishment of industry in the north and to an increase of population with its resultant increased reserve of strength. Although the Government has displayed a defeatist attitude in relation to the north, I sincerely hope that it will consider the establishment of an iron and steel industry in that area. Perhaps I am more than optimistic in expecting the Government, in view of its notorious opposition to the expansion of Australian industry and its greater interest in the. importation of commodities that are necessary for development and defence, to establish an iron and steel industry in the north. I regard the establishment of such an industry as being of great importance to the development of that area.
I refer now to the operations of the Joint Coal Board, which has rendered great service to the country in helping to provide adequate coal supplies. As honorable members know, the board was established by a Labour government. The country owes a debt of gratitude to that Government. In recent times, however, the Joint Coal Board has been obliged to curtail its activities, and several opencut mines have been forced to cease operations. I make an appeal for the development of deep coal mines. The need to penetrate our rich and vast coal reserves is urgent. Honorable members who have taken an interest in this subject know that a coal mine cannot be developed within weeks, or within a few months, but that it takes many years to develop a mine to the stage at which it is able to satisfy the needs of a growing and expanding economy. I believe that, when the Australian Labour party assumes office in the near future, Australia’s expanding economy will call for great supplies of coal. If deep mines were commenced in the immediate future, great supplies of coal would be available for our industrial undertakings.
I draw the attention of honorable members to the loss of valuable immigrant labour as a result of the closure of opencut mines. Skilled men who have played a worthwhile part in the development of the country have been obliged to leave Australia. They were men whom we could ill-afford to lose. They have returned to the United Kingdom and to other parts of the British Commonwealth to obtain employment on developmental works. A halt to that drift should be called, and I sincerely hope that the Government will take steps to ensure that such men are kept in Australia and that their energies will be directed to the development of deep mines so that in the years to come we will be able to satisfy the demands of an expanding economy for the supplies of coal. We need many more of that type of immigrant. We want men who will go into the hinterland to assist in its development. I think every honorable member will deplore the fact that the Government has pursued a policy as a result of which tens of thousands of immigrants have found their way into our over-crowded cities. Little is being done to retain people in country areas.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Adermann).Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
..- I had not intended to speak at this stage, but I could not allow the statements of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) to pass without , comment. The honorable member devoted the larger portion of his time to matters that were quite remote from his own electorate, indeed quite remote, from his own State. I was led to the conclusion that, although he enunciated certain principles of defence, the defence upon which, he concentrated was a defence of the inefficient Labour Government of Queensland’. It is all very well for honorable members to speak about the obligations of the Australian Government, but the simple fact remains that development, is the responsibility of State governments. In recent years, State Labour governments have complained bitterly that the real handicap to their proceeding with developmental works was the lack of finance. On numerous occasions, protagonists of those governments have accused the Australian Government, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), and everybody but themselves, of not providing financial assistance for schemes that they, because of their own inability, were unable to implement.
The financial year 1953-54 provided us with an outstanding example of the inefficiency of State governments. Although the State Premiers submitted fantastic estimates to the Australian Loan Council, and tried to support their claims with facts, approximately £20,000,000 of the amount of £200,000,000 that was provided by the Australian Government and the people of Australia was not expended. It is nonsense for people to come forward and blame the Australian Government for the deficiencies of the State governments. This Government proposed the establishment of a national planning committee, not for the purpose of accepting responsibility and of directing the State governments, but for the purpose of arriving at a sensible scheme of development in which first things would be put first and as a result of which the development of the country could be undertaken in a progressive and efficient manner. So far, there, has been no response.
– The honorable gentleman does not expect, much!
– No, I do not expect much from Labour governments, but I was hoping that, in the interests of Australia, they might see the light. So far, they have not. The honorable member for Macquarie referred also to the Joint Coal Board, which was established by a Labour government. We do not deny that a Labour government established the Joint Coal Board ; indeed, it established many things. I direct the attention of honorable members to the performance of the- Joint Coal Board under the Labour government, because, when this Government assumed office, coal shortages, rationing of power, and blackouts were the order of the day. Of what use is it for the honorable member to claim credit for the activities of the Joint. Coal Board? As a result of the sensible administration of this Government, the board has been able to overcome those shortages. Not only is there sufficient coal for internal consumption and export, but there is also a surplus. If the honorable member derives any comfort from the fact, that the Joint Coal Board was established by a Labour government, the Australian people derive some satisfaction from the fact that it has been enabled to operate efficiently under the Menzies Government.
I have only one other matter to which I wish to refer, because, generally speaking, honorable members have been very generous in their comments about the administration of the Government. Honorable members opposite have had to resort to such futilities as those to which I have referred in criticism of the administration of this Government. I refer now to the question of assisting incapacitated people to find a job, to which reference was made by the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa). If the committee will bear with me, I shall give a brief report of the activities of the Department of Labour and National Service, which has been administered so effectively by the present Minister for Labour and. National Service (Mr. Holt). No credit is reflected upon the honorable member for Banks for his snide reference to the absence of my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, who is overseas doing a job of work that will be beneficial to this country and to other countries of the British Commonwealth. Since its establishment, the Commonwealth Employment Service has given special and continuous attention to the employment problems of handicapped persons. From time to time, various organizational changes have been made for the purpose of improving the service that has been provided.
There are designated employment officers located in each district office to assist all physically handicapped persons seeking employment. They are assisted in their work by a specialist section, the Physically Handicapped Persons Section, located in the regional office of the department in each State capital. This section not only keeps a continuous oversight of the activities of the district offices in the physically handicapped field, but also deals directly with the more difficult problem cases, provides guidance to the employment officers in techniques, &c, and maintains liaison with other governmental and private organizations, including hospitals concerned with the problems of the physically handicapped.
Where necessary, vocational guidance is given by the Commonwealth Employment Service vocational guidance unit. The occupational research activities of the department are also devoted to assisting the employment officers in considering how best the residual capacities of physically handicapped applicants may be turned to advantage in considering suitable employment for them.
The fundamental approach, in considering employment for the physically handicapped, is to stress their residual capacities, not their disabilities, and to proceed on the basis that, provided the right job is found, the particular handicap will not prevent successful performance of the duties of the job. Every handicapped person who registers for employment in a district office is considered in relation to the vacancies, notified ‘by employers, and for those for whom no suitable opportunities are immediately available, direct approaches are made to employers with the object of seeking out suitable jobs. Working along these lines, and with the co-operation of individual employers and various organizations, suitable jobs have been found and employment opportunities created for large numbers of handicapped persons without resort to compulsion of any kind. For example, during the first seven months of this year the Commonwealth Employment Service has been able to place some 4,000 handicapped persons.
I should like to emphasize that placement of the physically handicapped by the Commonwealth Employment Service is not directed merely towards the unskilled and menial tasks in industry. Concentration on the old conventional light jobs of lift driver and the like has no place in the activities of the Commonwealth Employment Service. For the properly selected job, a physical handicap need not be an occupational handicap at all - it may even be an advantage - and the placements made by the Commonwealth Employment Service, in fact, cover a wide range of occupations. In Australia, as overseas, progressive employers are increasingly coming to realize that, quite apart from any charitable or humanitarian considerations, the employment of physically handicapped people is good business. In some cases. some adjustment to the work situation may be necessary. It is well to add, however, that some long-standing, if illfounded, prejudices take time to break down. Educative work is constantly being undertaken by the department and is having progressively increasing results.
The physically handicapped, so far as the activities of the Commonwealth Employment Service are concerned, include all who have handicaps, whether they are eligible for special forms of rehabilitation assistance by any government agency or not. Where they are eligible under schemes administered by the Department of Repatriation or the Department of Social Services, the Department of Labour and National Service provides vocational guidance, assists with training activities, and arranges placement. Any physically “handicapped persons coming for help to the Commonwealth Employment Service, who are eligible under these schemes, are acquainted with them and put in touch with the Department of Repatriation or the Department of Social Services as the case requires. I have made this explanation in order to demonstrate that the Minister for Labour and National Service, far from neglecting this section of the community, has concentrated every effort of the department on their assistance. I think honorable members will readily admit, in the light of the information that I have supplied, that those efforts are meeting with a degree of success which I am sure the whole of the committee will applaud.
.- I should not have risen to speak but for the unprovoked assault made upon the arguments of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) by the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride). The Minister made some remarkable statements, amongst which was the assertion that national development is the responsibility of State governments. Well, if that is the case, why is the committee asked to vote, £822,000 to a Department of National Development?
– Has the honorable member heard of the Northern Territory and New Guinea?
– Of course I have heard of the Northern Territory. I thank the Minister for his interjection. The Department of National Development is expected to need £356,000 for administrative expenses and £466,000 for the Bureau of Mineral Resources. That bureau does not merely advise uranium seekers; it helps all sorts of mining and prospecting operations all over Australia. That is a proper activity, and I give all credit to it for its work. It assisted the search for uranium in Queensland, for example. But the Minister says that this work is a responsibility of State governments! Sir Philip McBride. - So it is.
– Well, why is the Australian Government assisting the work ?
– We help.
– Very good. The Australian Government helps! The honorable member for Macquarie has said, in effect, “ Well, it ought to help a great deal more “. The Minister’s reply to that was that the responsibility rested on the State Governments, not on the Australian Government. The Minister has been caught up in the net of his own argument. He should remember those famous words of Sir Walter Scott -
O, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive.
He certainly deceived himself on this matter.
The Department of National Development does not spend money only on the purchase of geiger counters and the financing of explorations for uranium with scintillometers and the like. It spends a lot of money on other activities. For example, this year it will spend £575,000 on salaries and payments in the nature of salary, over £70,000 on general expenses, and over £176,000 on “ Other services “. The committee ought to be told what is meant by “ Other services”. No doubt it will cover the loss on the department’s journal National Development, which is sold for 2s. 6d. a month, and which supplanted a much better publication called Smith-West Pacific. Any honorable member who cares to read everything that comes to him from the departments, as I do, will find that the Department of National Development exercises its influence in connexion with the development of the whole of Australia, and I believe that that is what it should do. Therefore, it is proper that the Minister should be told by members of the committee that it could, and should, do more than it is doing. I would not object if the appropriation for the Department of National Development was even £8,000,000, provided that the money was properly spent, mostly on the development of northern Australia, the most vulnerable part of the continent, the part which could be attacked at any moment, where we have only a handful of people of our own blood to hold it in the event of attack. The Minister has no right to become annoyed if honorable members criticize him. I suggest instead that he might take their criticism, which is entirely constructive and perfectly justified, in the spirit in which it is offered.
We need to do a lot of developmental work in northern Australia. Just imagine the northern half of Western Australia -all of that State north of the 26th parallel, or Carnarvon - 500,000 square miles, representing, one-sixth of Australia - with only 6,000 people in it ! We could not properly ask the Government of Western Australia to shoulder the responsibility for the development of that territory. I hope that one day that part of the continent will become a territory of the Commonwealth of Australia, where we shall spend a couple of million pounds, annually. It is also up to some future federal government to honour the contract made with the South Australian Government many years ago to lay a railway line through from Alice Springs to Birdum. All governments of the Commonwealth have seemingly shirked their responsibility in that matter, although it was not the fault of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) that the line was not constructed when the Labour party was last in office and he was the Minister for Transport. We have to do a great deal for the development of Australia. It is of no use to claim that we are developing Australia if we are spending money within 100 miles of the capital cities of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, and for 50 miles around Hobart.
– I wish the honorable member would tell that to the Premiers of the Sta’tes.
– I have told the Premiers many things. I know that, when they came to Canberra last year to attend a meeting of the Australian Loan Council, they adopted the report of the Co-ordinator-General of Works, a Commonwealth official, and authorized the expenditure of £283,000,000 on works. However, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) told them that the amount would have to be £200,000,000 and that they could take it or leave it. Although they later voted themselves £243,000,000, they got only the £200,000,000.
– And they could not spend £20,000,000 of that.
– Possibly they could not. Perhaps we have not enough manpower in Australia at present for the development of the nation. Well, it is our duty to get the man-power into the country as quickly as we can, and also the materials that we need for the work of national development.
The Minister for Defence was not justified in saying that the New South Wales Government and the Joint Coal Board fell down on the job of producing coal.
– Of course they did, and so did the Chifley Government.
– That is untrue. If the Minister could put his name down on the pages of history as a member of the former Chifley Government, he would have something to be very proud of in relation to the discharge of his ministerial responsibilities. South Australia, where he lives, would not be getting coal from Leigh Creek to-day if it had not been for the efforts of the Chifley Labour Government. That Government provided most of the finance for the development of the Leigh Creek field and encouraged it in every possible way. This Parliament last session agreed to the standardization of the railway line on the western side of the Flinders Range in the direction of Leigh Creek in order that coal from that field might be brought expeditiously to Adelaide. I hope that the line will be continued through to Alice Springs at a very early date, and from there through to Birdum. The Chifley Government greatly helped the Government of South Australia. Indeed, all Australian governments in recent years have done much to help that State. One of the first votes I gave in this Parliament was in support of a proposition by a former Menzies administration to pipe water from the river Murray to Whyalla. That was the proper thing to do, and I supported the plan. The Chifley Government- helped later, as the Minister knows, to put the standard gauge railway line through to Leigh Creek. I am sorry that it took two years of disputation, agitation, and costly legal experimentation before the first decision to go ahead with the work could be confirmed.
The truth of the matter on the coal issue is simply that South Australia and Victoria have made themselves independent of coal supplies from New South Wales. That was the work of State governments. In Victoria, it was the work of a Country party government, a Liberal party government and a Labour party government. The reason that coal is now almost a drug on the market in New South Wales is that those other States, as well as Queensland, are getting all the coal they want inside their own boundaries. Therefore, it is not the fault of the Joint Coal Board that these is a surplus of coal in New South Wales. All I am sorry for is that we have a surplus of coal anywhere in Australia. I should like to see development proceeding at such a pace that we should always be wanting more and more coal production. It is no credit to any of us that we have coal lying at grass.
– What about a surplus of coal if we could sell it abroad?
– I do not believe in selling coal abroad if we can use it better at home. I should like the Australian population to be large enough to use all the coal and wheat that we produce and most of the wool. I am not- addicted to the view that big overseas sales of our products are necessary to our survival. That is a colonial philosophy, and the Australian States ceased to be colonies when federation came into being o-i years ago. I believe that every country must make itself as self-sufficient as possible. The reason for the present greatness of the United States of America is to be found in the efforts that that country made, under the McKinley tariff legislation of 1890, to build itself into the great nation that it is now. Australia would gain greatly if it adopted a similar policy.
The Minister for Defence attacked the State Premiers for making what he termed fantastic estimates of their requirements of loan funds for national development works. His criticism embraced the Premier of South Australia, Mr. Playford, whose estimates were made on the same basis as were those of the other Premiers. I know very well that Mr. Playford was always as co-operative with the former Labour Government as he has been with this Administration, and he always asked for as much as, or even more than, he thought he could get. If any one is guilty of making fantastic estimates, the South Australian Premier is guilty. It does not help the cause of federation, or good relations between the States and the Commonwealth, to attack the State governments continually in this Parliament as if they were the representatives of foreign powers. The State administrations have an essential part to play in the Australian federation. All the governments, both Commonwealth and State, have their own functions to perform, in accordance with the division of powers that has been made. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison), who can see no good in any State government at any time, and the Minister for Defence, both of whom have been interjecting, instead of carping at the State administrations, should co-operate more closely with them. The State governments are discharging their functions to the best of their ability, and much more effectively than this limping, faltering Government is discharging its responsibilities to the nation.
I shall conclude my observations by making a brief reference to the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. The Government needs energizing. It is, rightly, spending a lot of money in the Northern Territory and elsewhere on uranium mining and treatment plants. I know what is happening in the Territory, because I visit it frequently. Private enterprise is spending £250,000 in the current year on the development of Darwin, because uranium deposits have been, found in the Northern Territory, and that is a good thing for Australia. This Government is at last doing something about the wharf at Darwin, because uranium has been found in the Territory, and that is a good, thing also. I should like to see much more done to develop the northern area of Australia, which, in addition to being Australia’s northern outpost and the gateway to trade, is also the gateway to invasion. I am sure that the committee would unanimously endorse proposals for increased expenditure on the development of the Northern Territory, and particularly on measures to protect the uranium fields which lie so close to Darwin.
.- I should like to follow the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) to Darwin,, and through the Northern Territory and other parts of the world about which he has discoursed. The honorable member apparently claims that in some curious manner this Government falls down on its job, and that all other administrations successfully discharge their functions. On the contrary, this Government’ continues to hold the confidence of the people and it is really getting on with the job of governing Australia wisely.
I want to deal briefly with the Estimates of the Department of Immigration,, and to discuss some of the misconceptions that have arisen in recent years in relation to our immigration policy. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. O’Connor) spoke at length about the White Australia policy, which he defended1. Some years ago the honorable member for- Melbourne, when he was Minister for Immigration, constituted the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council, of which I am at present chairman. That body is composed of two representatives of this chamber - the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), and myself - and representatives of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Workers’ Union, employers? federations, municipal associations, and the like. Problems in relation to Australia’s immigration policy are; referred to the committee;, which meets four times a year; or more frequently, as the need arises, to consider those problems. Sometime ago, the committee made a decision,, which it has reaffirmed repeatedly, that it would not use the term “White Australia” in relation to our immigration, policy, which it calls a restricted immigration policy.
-. - Why? Is the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council! ashamed of the White Australia policy?’
– If the honorablemember would listen instead of talking, he might learn something. Many Australians are not white, and we do not pretend that we are racially superior toour fellow Australians just because their skins are darker than ours. There aremany people of Chinese blood who are second or third generation Australians. We claim that our policy of restricted’ immigration will enable us to attain the standards at which we aim - standard’s that cannot be achieved at present by theintroduction of immigrants from Asian countries, where the standard of living of” the people is very low. The restricted’ immigration policy at no time involves the question of racial superiority. It isdesigned merely to help us attain better economic standards. A quota scheme of” Asiatic immigration has been proposed,, and it has been under consideration fbra very long time. I do not think that any honorable member supports the proposal. As the honorable member for Martin said, any immigrants that wemight take from Asiatic countries would have no effect in relieving the pressure of over-population in those countries, and’ Australia cannot afford to allow the incursion of large numbers of people whoare willing to accept a lower standard of living than we in Australia will accept..
Since the immigration programme got into full swing in 1946, it has resulted in a net gain in population through immigration of 847,000 persons. The policy,, which was initiated by a Labour government, and has been continued by this Administration, aims at obtaining- morethan 50 per cent, of our immigrants fromthe British Isles. That percentage has almost been attained. Of the permanent population gain of 847,000 personsthrough immigration since 1946, 49.4 percent, have come from the British Isles..
Were it not for the immigration programme, we might have expected Australia’s population to reach the 9,000,000 mark about the end of 1959, but the gain in immigrants and children born to immigrants after their arrival in Australia will enable the population to reach the 9,000,000 mark this year. The honorable member for Melbourne waxed eloquent over the McKinley tariffs of the United States of America and the enormous development that occurred in that country about the end of the last century. At no time did the United States of America or any other country accept immigrants at a higher rate in relation to the existing population than Australia now accepts them.
Another interesting point in relation to our immigration policy that honorable members should bear in mind - and this is an extremely important aspect of immigration - is that it has reduced the average age of Australia’s population. From memory, I think that more than SO per cent, of the immigrants were 40 years of age or younger on their arrival in Australia, whereas 64 per cent, of Australianborn citizens are 40 years of age or older. It is evident that the selective immigration policy has considerably reduced the average age of our population. It is easy enough to make all kinds of criticisms of our immigration policy. There has been trouble with the Government’s sponsoring scheme, under which immigrants are accommodated in hostels, but at present that scheme is operating very happily except for a few small problems. I do not give credit to this Government alone for the present smooth operation of that scheme, because I think that the former Labour Government had the same ideals as this Government and adopted an immigration policy similar to the present one. At one time it appeared that considerable numbers of British migrants were returning to their native country, but that condition was only temporary, and was not serious. I remember meeting, on board a ship at Perth last year, 200 British immigrants who had returned to England after migrating to Australia, and after a brief stay in their home country had come to Australia a second time. The net gain in immigration from the British Isles to this country is as good as could be found anywhere in the world.
The sources from which we can obtain our immigrants are of importance. As I have pointed out, Australia has attempted to obtain at least 50 per cent, of its total intake from the British Isles, and during the last eight years we have almost maintained this percentage. But we look for immigrants to those countries in which there is a pressure of over-population and which will yield the type of immigrants that we want. A curious development has occurred in the last few years in the pressure of young men from Holland and Western Germany to migrate in search of work. As honorable members are aware, our first immigration proposals were a humanitarian effort to absorb displaced persons from Eastern Europe, but, owing to the recent development of a desire among the young men of northern European countries such as Holland and Western Germany to migrate, a large proportion of our future immigrants will come from that area of Europe. For a long time a perceptible stream of migrants from Denmark to New Zealand has existed, but very few have come to Australia up to the present. Most Danish immigrants will, almost of necessity, be dairy-farmers, and if a small colony of Danes can be established in Australia the flow of immigration from Denmark will increase. The Government hopes that approximately 1,000 of this very desirable type of immigrant will come to Australia this year.
– What about immigration from Norway and Sweden?
– We cannot hope to get many immigrants from Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Austria, though inquiries have been made by some prospective immigrants from those countries. Mr. A. E. Monk, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, has informed me that, curiously enough, trade tests have revealed that the immigrants most suited to employment in Australia are skilled workers from Austria. We may get some immigrants from that country, but they will not be many. The Department of Immigration has done its job in accordance with the highest traditions of public service, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to bring to the attention of the committee some important aspects of the immigration programme.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– I intend to direct my remarks to the Department of National Develop- in en t. I listened very attentively to the various speeches about this department that were delivered earlier to-day, and never in my long history as a member of this Parliament have I heard such fantastic arguments and charges made against the Queensland Government as were made to-day by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), who represents a Queensland electorate, and the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride). The Minister for Defence said that it was not the responsibility of the Australian Government to carry out developmental works, unless they were designed to fulfill the requirements of this Government. He suggested that such works were the sole responsibility of the State governments. The Treasurer, although he is a Queenslander himself, has treated Queensland most unjustly and unfairly, and has differentiated between that State and the other States of the Commonwealth in making allocations of money for developmental works. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) is also a Queenslander, but he, judging from his speech in this debate, appears to have no interest at all in Queensland. Every time that he rises in this chamber he attempts to belittle Queensland and decry the Queensland Government. Indeed, his statements are a reflection on the intelligence of the Queensland electors, because for about 32 years they have seen fit to retain a Labour government in office in that State. The honorable member should realize that the electors of Queensland must believe that the Labour party is doing a very good job in the interests of that State.
I am sure that all honorable members, after perusing the Estimates, will agree that every State in Australia is receiving from this Australian Government a better measure of financial assistance for developmental works than is Queensland. Yesterday the honorable member for Capricornia said that most of the Queens land Government’s works were only in the blueprint stage, and that long before he was born it was decided that certain works should be proceeded with in Queensland but that they have never come to anything. That is absolutely untrue. He also said that if the Queensland Government wanted to carry out urgent developmental works, it should submit its propositions to the Australian Loan Council. I inform him that for many years the Queensland Government has submitted very important propositions to the Australian Loan Council, many of them since this Government has been in office, and has sought financial assistance to carry them out, but in many cases that assistance has not been granted. In fact Queensland has been neglected by this Government. The late Mr. Chifley agreed with the Queensland Labour Government that his Government would provide finance for one or two important projects. One of those was the Burdekin Valley developmental scheme, but when this Government, of which the Treasurer is a member, attained office, it immediately repudiated that agreement.
Nothing has been done for Queensland by this Government, beyond the ordinary allotment of loan money as is provided for all States of the Commonwealth. I point out that all other States are getting special grants and special financial assistance, but Queensland is getting nothing other than its loan allocation. I do not complain because this Government is providing money for projects to be carried out in States other than Queensland, because they are national projects, but I do complain because this Government is not treating Queensland on the same basis. The Bell Bay aluminium project in Tasmania is being financed by this Government. The Government is helping to build a certain railway in South Australia, and is also assisting in the Stirling North-Leigh Creek railway line duplication. Also the Government is providing money for the Snowy Mountains scheme, which will benefit both New South “Wales and Victoria.
– There is a good Liberal government in South Australia.
– Honorable members should note that interjection is from another honorable member “who represents a Queensland ‘electorate. I suggest that the ‘Queenslanders ‘on the Government side should hang their heads in shame because of the way they attempt to decry everything connected with Queensland, particularly the “Queensland Government. In ‘addition to loans and other finance of a capital nature made available to Western Australia, the Australian Government is financing ‘Operations under the water “works agreement that it entered into with the Western Australian Government. In South Australia it is assisting in the Port Pirie railway extension. Honorable mem.hers will therefore perceive that this Government, of which the Treasurer is a member, is granting a. great deal of assistance to all .the States of the Commonwealth except ‘Queensland. I repeat that the treatment meted out to Queensland is -deplorable; particularly in view of the fact that the Treasurer of the Common.wealth is a Queenslander himself.
I now “wish to draw the attention of the committee to some of the national developmental projects that are not only urgently required for the -proper development of Queensland, but are also required for the adequate defence -of the Commonwealth. When the results of the .recently taken census .are published, honorable members will see that Queensland is the only State of the Commonwealth in which the population is not increasing .rapidly. That is because “.there are no big national works being undertaken in that State at present. But instead of assisting the Queensland Government to carry out its developmental projects, which would increase employment and consequently population, this Government is doing nothing to .help. For many years the Queensland Government has submitted, not just blueprints, but definite schemes to this Government and has asked for its assistance in carrying them out. But this Government has always refused to give that assistance. For example, the Burdekin River irrigation and flood mitigation scheme, which is now going ahead, deserves the financial assistance of this Government. About ‘300,000 acres of “land is that area will be -made -available for irrigation, and within .the last ‘eighteen month or two years no less than 20.0 settlers, practically all ex-servicemen, have been settled in the “Burdekin River area. .Instead of .assisting ‘Queensland in ,thi3 work, this Government has informed us that it is not a national work. Surely honorable members ‘can see that the .character of that work is truly national. Then there is the Mareeba.Dimbulah scheme which is being dealt with by the Queensland Government, the Tully Falls hydro-electric scheme and the Dajarra-Newcastle Waters railway. This Government should assist in -carrying out all those schemes.
It was amusing to-day to hear the Treasurer answering questions about Queensland, and it was more amusing to see how he tried to ridicule the Queensland Government and its proposal to build a railway line between Dajarra and Newcastle Waters. I .suggest tha, such *-s. railway line is much more than a State matter, because it has an important defence significance. During World War II. the famous American soldier. General MacA’rthur, .strongly recommended that Queensland .should be connected with the Northern Territory by rail, and stated that such ;a connexion would be an important defence project. However, .-apart from the defence aspect, such -a line would develop ‘Queensland and the Northern Territory and save hundreds of ‘thousands of pounds worth of stock that are now .lost almost every year. The Treasurer .said that .this scheme was uneconomic, land that Sir John Kemp had reported on it, but the Queensland Government had shelved that report and had not submitted it to this Government. I suggest that he was speaking ‘about the line from Dajarra to Camooweal, which is quite ‘a different matter from the line (between Dajarra and Newcastle Waters.
Honorable members know that all railway limes are uneconomic for the first few years .after construction, but none of our States would have been developed at all if they had allowed ‘that consideration to have any effect on them in the early day3. If they had, there would have been no railway lines .at all. I do not >say that Sir .John Kemp did make a recommendation, but I do say that as well as bis investigation, inquiries have been made by half a dozen committees of experts over a period of years, and they have all recommended to the Queensland Government, which in turn has recommended to this Australian Government, that the important defence railway from Dajarra to Newcastle Waters should be built. I appeal to the Queensland members of this Parliament to consider the poor way in which Queensland has been treated by this Government, and to endeavour to secure better treatment for it in the future.
.- The committee is considering the Estimates for the Department of Immigration, the Department of Labour and National Service, the Department of National Development, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. May I say, at the outset, that I am very glad that the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) and the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) have praised the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. From time to time, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), who is the Minister in charge of that organization, informs honorable members of its activities. I support the remarks of the honorable member for Macarthur and the honorable member for Corangamite, and I suggest to honorable members that each of us should take any opportunity that occurs to visit the branches of the organization, especially those which are established in his own electorate. A branch of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is established in the electorate of Robertson, and I realize that I do not visit it as often as I should like, but at the same time I pay my tribute to the work that the organization is doing. It is rendering most valuable assistance to primary producers in the1 field, and with the marketing of products.
Various aspects of our immigration programme have been discussed .to-day. I support that programme in its present form, but I make a plea that the majority of the people who are brought to this country shall not settle in the metropoli- tan areas of the capital cities of the respective States. I mentioned this matter on a previous occasion, and I stated that a Dutch community had established itself in one area of which I have some knowledge. The newcomers, because of the nature of the area, brought about in some respect by regulations promulgated by the New South Wales Government, and high transport costs, experienced great difficulty in conducting their businesses and continuing the small industries which they had started. I realize that many of these matters are within the province of the New South Wales Government, but I consider that the Australian Government, since the Department of Immigration is a Commonwealth department, has a responsibility towards the people who come to Australia. Therefore, I direct the attention of the Government to the situation, because I believe that it will be to the personal benefit of the people who establish their homes and seek their employment outside of capital cities, and will also be of great benefit to this nation from the standpoint of security. When I refer to security, I mean the economic security as well as the defence of Australia.
I accord my complete support to the national service training scheme, which has been introduced by this Government. I consider that the scheme has been of great benefit to Australia, not only because of the training in the armed forces which youth receives, but also because of the experience and personal training that it gives to the individual trainee. The scheme has helped considerably in the education, in the fullest meaning of the word, of the younger members of the community - the eighteen-year-olds who are called up under the provisions of the National Service Act. I have had the advantage of visiting several camps, where I have seen the trainees engage in their exercises, their practice on the ranges with live ammunition, and their attendances at what are commonly called their glamour parades. On all occasions, congratulations have been due to the trainees themselves, and the officers of the Permanent Army and the Citizen Military Forces.
However, one problem which arises in connexion with national service training deserves the consideration of the Government. I suggest that a greater degree of ministerial discretion could be allowed in the granting of applications for the deferment of training. When I say that, I wish to make it quite plain that my personal belief, as I have indicated, is in favour of national service training, but certain individual problems have arisen that should receive attention. I can give no better example than the dairying industry to illustrate this point. I do not know whether it is because of the nature of that industry, which demands hard, work from the persons who are engaged in it, but I find that a great number of dairy farms are worked by a father, who is suffering from a physical ailment but who is giving direction to his younger son. The lad actually does the work on the farm. Most honorable members realize the need to maintain production from the dairy farms, and the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service (Sir Philip McBride) knows of a case that is under consideration at the moment. An application for deferment was granted. When the application was later renewed, the magistrate decided that the lad should go into camp. I emphasize that there is nothing personal in this matter. I feel quite sure that the lad himself wished to go into camp. But the fact remains that since he has been in camp, the herd, which consists of some 50 head of cattle, has been dried off, and unless some assistance is found, it will be necessary to sell the herd and perhaps dispose of the dairy farm. The father simply is not in a condition of health to work the farm.
So we have a problem. I do not cast any personal reflection on magistrates who hear applications for deferment of national service training but I suggest to the Minister that it may be of advantage if the magistrates who go into the rural areas and hear these applications have a rural background. I understand, from the information given to me in connexion with the case I have mentioned, that the magistrate decided that the lad could go into camp for two reasons. The first reason was that an elder brother owned and worked a dairy farm half a mile away, and the magistrate suggested that he could work the parental farm.
Honorable members who have had any experience of dairy farms know perfectly well that it is absolutely impossible for one man to work two farms. One man is flat out, if I may use such an expression, on one farm. The second reason advanced by the magistrate for his decision that the lad should go into camp was that a certain number of persons were registered for employment on the books of the Department of Labour and National Service. I point out, in passing, that the actual number of jobs vacant at that time exceeded the number of applicants for employment. But once again, I mention that any one who has had experience of dairy farms knows that it is not possible to take just any person who is in search of employment, and expect him to manage a dairy farm. In these days, a great deal of individual training and experience is necessary, not only in the care of the herd but also in the general husbandry of the farm, the planting of crops and general farm management. Those details show that the magistrate who heard this particular application did not have a full appreciation of the work that has to be performed on a dairy farm when he suggested that the dairy-farmer should make application to the Department of Labour and National .Service for a person to work his farm. I ask the Minister to take notice of this matter, and make arrangements to ensure that magistrates who go into rural areas to hear applications for the deferment of national service training, shall have had some background experience in primary production.
References have been made in this debate to the production of steel products such as barbed wire, fencing wire, galvanized iron and steel piping. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) went so far as to suggest that, a steelworks should be established in the northern part of Australia. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is Deputy Leader of the Opposition, subsequently expressed the opinion that the northern part of Australia was not defended. Consequently, I find some difficulty in reconciling those two views. The honorable member for Macquarie proposed that a steel works should be built in a part of Australia which, according to the honorable member for Melbourne, is. not defended. However, the fact is that the two main steel works in Australia, which are situated at Newcastle and Port Kembla, and are expanding at the greatest possible rate that our resources of man-power and materials allow. Therefore, I suggest that it is not practicable to propose that another organization to manufacture steel should be established in another part of this country. Honorable members should also realize that the best coal for coking, which is a necessary part of steel making, comes from the Newcastle and Maitland coal-fields. Some coal is available in parts of Queensland, but it is not suitable for coking purposes. Evidently, the honorable member for Macquarie had not given full consideration to all the relevant facts.
The honorable member for Melbourne and the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) have made a strong plea for greater expenditure by the Department of National Development. I am not sure whether those honorable members consider that the department itself should commence certain industries, or that more money should be spent by it in giving encouragement to private enterprise to start those industries. Whichever it was, the tenor of their remarks was that more money should be spent. I have listened attentively to the speeches of Opposition members during the consideration of the Estimates, and I have noted their pleas for the expenditure of more money by various departments, but not one of those honorable gentlemen has suggested how the additional money should be raised. Do they suggest that taxation should be increased? If they do not consider that taxes should be increased, do they say that we should decrease expenditure in other fields? Opposition members nsk for the provision of .greater sums for many projects, which, all honorable members realize, have to be undertaken in Australia; but priorities must be allotted to those works. Do Opposition members suggest that the defence vote should be reduced? Do they suggest that social services should be cut? Do they suggest that Commonwealth assistance to the States should be reduced? Even during the course of this debate honorable members opposite have alleged that sufficient money has not been made available to the States to enable them to carry out their obligations, but, last financial year, as the Minister for Defence has pointed out, the States had unexpended balances which totalled £20,000,000.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I propose to direct my remarks to the problem of national development and also to touch upon the Commonwealth and State housing agreement, which will expire at the end of this financial year. The Minister for Defence (Sir Philip Mc Bride) castigated the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) because the latter had the audacity to contend that the Government should make some effort to establish the steel industry in the northern part of Australia. The Minister asked, in effect, “Does not the honorable member know that development is entirely a matter for the States? “ What a shocking attitude for a Minister in the Australian Government to ado1 on this problem ! Is that the state of mind of the Minister who is a member of the Government’s first eleven, the gentlemen of the Cabinet, and a member of the Government’s, brain trust? I remind the committee that honorable members opposite, when they were in Opposition, wen: round- the country in the general election campaign in 1949 and advocated a policy of national development. On that occasion, the present Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) said that the development policy of the Chifley Government was not broad enough in outlook, and that the present Government parties, if they were returned to office, would set up a Department of National Development. To-day, this Government claim? to be the first Australian Government to have set up such a department. During the general election campaign in 194!). the candidates of the present Government, parties said that, if returned to office, they would make not a loan but a gift of not less than £250,000,000 to the States for the purpose cf national development.
I challenge any Minister or honorable member opposite to inform the committee of one great project that this Government has initiated in this country.
Of course, this Government boasts that it has carried out the guided weapons testing range at Woomera. I remind honorable members opposite that that project was initiated by the Chifley Government under an agreement which that Government made with the British Government, and that construction work on it was well ahead of schedule before the present Government came into office. This Government also boasts about the great progress that has been made with the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. I remind honorable members opposite that when they were in Opposition they boycotted that scheme, which was initiated by the Chifley Government. It is time that the Minister for Defence and his colleagues realized that one of the greatest defence needs of this country is the peopling of our empty north. The greatest threat to the defence of this country lies in the emptiness of northern Queensland, the Northern Territory and the north of Western Australia, towards which 1,200,000,000 Asian eyes are looking in envy. Any government worthy of the name would face up to that problem. Yet, a senior Minister has informed the committee that national development i.= a matter for the States. The Government has just announced that it proposes to set up a committee to determine priorities of works in order to show the States how they should tackle the problem of national development; I remind honorable members opposite that when the Chifley Government set up a special committee to deal with national development they criticized it as being another form of socialist control and said that the Chifley Government, by taking such action, was trying to dictate to the sovereign States how they should run their affairs. But now, after delaying for four and a half years in tackling the problem of national development, this Government says that it proposes to set up a similar committee to attend to that matter.
Why does not the Government start a project on its own initiative instead of endeavouring to claim credit for projects that were started by Labour governments? This Government has a wonderful opportunity to undertake a developmental project by damming the Ord
River. Members of the Opposition, would co-operate fully in such an undertaking. An American organization, theUtah Construction Company, which hasjust completed the construction of the Eildon Dam in Victoria, which is an earth-filled dam, would be capable of undertaking a similar project on the Ord River. .Such a project would not cost more than £7,000,000 at the most. The construction of such a dam on the Ord River, 60 miles south-east of ‘Wyndham, would harness five times the volume of water that is now used in the Mumimbidgee irrigation area. In other words,, that project would be capable of providing five towns the size of Griffith. Leeton and Narrandera. Sufficient water could be harnessed on the Ord River to meet requirements for the annual production of foodstuffs of a ‘ value of £25,000,000. At least 250,000 acres could be irrigated under such a scheme. TheGovernment requires only to have courage to undertake that project. I urge it to do so, because time is running out. Irrigation waters from the Ord River wouldenable rice-growing to be undertaken and would also water pastures upon which could be fattened stock that is now driven annually from the Northern Territory to the downs country in Queensland to be fattened. There is no reason why such stock could not be fattened on pasture? that could be irrigated from the Ord River. If this project were undertaken, the stock, when ready for slaughter, would be a fortnight nearer to the United’ Kingdom market. In such circumstances.. the beef could be chilled instead of being frozen and, consequently, as there is a greater demand for chilled beef, higher prices would be obtained on the Britishmarket. National development is not aresponsibility of the States. It cannot be left to the States. Unfortunately, that has been the position ever since federation but, so long as that condition of affairs exists, northern Queensland, the Northern Territory and the north of Western Australia will remain empty. Those vast areas must be developed in the interests of not only the present generation but also future generations. The Government must take action in the near future with the object of peopling the vacant north of Australia.
Turning now to the. Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, I point out that, unfortunately, our housing problem’ remains to-day as acute as it was at the end of World War II. It is one of the nation’s greatest social problems. It is the cause of more divorces and broken homes and, probably, is a greater- contributing’ factor to- the limitation of families, than is any other single factor. The Labour Government, in 19’45, assessed the requirement of house construction in Australia for the following ten years at a minimum of 700,000 houses. That estimate was made as a result of an exhaustive inquiry, but did not take into account the additional houses that would be required as a result of the extensive immigration programme that was undertaken by the Chifley Government and has been continued by this Government. However, although that target of 7.00,000 homes was assessed as being essential to meet requirements for the ten years following 1945, the fact is that only 445,000 houses, or 255,000 houses- short of that target, will have been constructed by the end of this year. I do not lay the blame for this failure at the door of any political party. I simply cite those figures in order to convey the statistical’ position with respect to housing in’ this country to-day.
I was greatly concerned’ when I learned that, for the current- financial year,, the Government has decided to- reduce the grant to- the- States, for housing, under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement by £4,200000.. Having, regard to the. seriousness of the housing shortage as a social problem, that fact is to be greatly deplored. It will cause alarm among people who” are. about to marry, or who have fust married, and are obliged to live with their families under congested and unsatisfactory housing conditions. Perhaps, the Government will make the reply that the States did not expend all the money that was made available to them last year under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. However, the Government’s decision must have an adverse psychological effect upon the building’ industry and its ancillary industries. When payments to the; States were’ reduced under this Government’s horror budget; a. few years, ago, many mills- throughout the country were ‘forced to close, and they have not yet been re-opened. When the Chifley Government was in office, it was a common practice in nearly every country town in every State for two, or three, men conjointly to set up a small organization for the purpose of making concrete bricks or tiles:. Such persons,, after doing their normal jobs during the week, used to engage1 in this class of undertaking during the week-ends-. In that way, the production of tiles, bricks and materials essential for a great housing programme was substantially increased. Most of those units have closed and have not yet been able to recommence operations. Persons interested in such, undertakings will receive no encouragement when they learn that the Government has decided to reduce the grant to’ the States for the purposes of housing. In making that decision, the Government has broken, faith, not only with the States, but also with the young people for whom it promised to build houses. As I have already said, the decision will also have an. adverse effect upon the building industry and ancillary industries. The Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement was evolved as a charter for the financing of a housing programme throughout Australia. However, this. Government has not adhered to the spirit’ of that agreement.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has: expired.
;. - I was intensely interested to listen to the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Lemmon).. I recall other occasions when we listened to him with great’ interest in this chamber. He has become rather short, of a gallop compared with his performances in former days. He. made nostalgic references to 1949. The- honorable member represented a. constituency in Western Australia, in 1949. Despite the fact that he is, apparently, such a champion, of financial aid for development, the people- of Western Australia decided that they did not want him to represent them any longer. He therefore! transferred his interest’, to another State.
– He unseated one of your fellows.
– It took him a long time to do so, because the Labour party would not endorse him for other elections. But he has made the grade and has come back here to tell us all about his achievements as a Minister in the Chifley Government. He made a great plea for acceleration of national development. He said that in 1949 the parties now in office had promised a sum of £200,000,000-
– I said £250,000,000.
– All right, he said that £250,000,000 was promised to the States for national development. As I have said, the honorable member is rather short of a gallop. He has not caught up with affairs yet, because in 1953-54 this Government provided £80,000,000 for development in the States. In 1952-53 it provided £123,000,000 and in 1951-52. £153,000,000. That is to say, in three years, it has provided the States with a total of £356,000,000 in special loans from Commonwealth sources. I suggest that the honorable member should engage in some more intensive research in order to bring himself abreast of events that have occurred since he ceased to be a member of this Parliament in 1949. The honorable gentleman mentioned the longrange weapons establishment at Woomera as a great developmental project. It is a defence project, and is not a developmental project in any sense of the word. But the honorable gentleman seized on it as an example of a developmental project, which, he said, was started by the Labour Government. The range at Woomera is a testing ground for longrange weapons for use by Australia, in conjunction with the United Kingdom. It was only in the blueprint stage when the Labour Government, of which the honorable member was a Minister, was defeated in 1949. If that Government had remained in office the range at Woomera would have met exactly the same fate as the Labour Government’s plan for the standardization of rail gauges. It would still have been in the blueprint stage. The Labour Government told the country that the standardization of rail gauges was something of an epoch-making character that it would accomplish. But what happened? It is still a blueprint. The Labour Government never proceeded beyond paying lip-service to it in this chamber. That Administration from time to time set its finger on projects, and then abandoned them, leaving them to be completed by another government. The Snowy Mountains hydro-electric project, of which the honorable member spoke, is one such project. It is perfectly true that, while he was a Minister of the Chifley Government, that project progressed beyond the blueprint stage to the turning of the first sod.
– Rubbish !
– That is as far as it proceeded.
Opposition supporters interjecting,
– Order ! Honorable members must remain silent while the Minister is speaking. I have already warned honorable members to cease interjecting.
– Ever since then, the Labour Governments of New South Wales and Victoria have been doing their level best to prevent the scheme from being developed.
– That is not true.
– I have sat repeatedly in conference with Ministers from both States, who have done everything possible to prevent the continued development of that project. I invite the honorable member for St. George, when he starts to talk about what the Labour Government did, to remember that a lot of water has passed under the bridge since it left office. It is to the great credit of this Government that it has pushed forward with the Snowy Mountains scheme and has made it into something really worth-while. The honorable member has said, in effect, that the Labour Governments of Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia are so efficient in the carrying out of essential projects associated with development within their borders that they want the Commonwealth to take over their responsibility and show them how the job should be done. It is perfectly true that the Government has made a huge sum of money available to the States. It is equally true that the Commonwealth was prepared to assume responsibility for developmental projects within the States on a priority basis. But it is equally true also that the States had so completely tied themselves up with certain projects, not one of which ha.* reached completion, that, they did not want the Commonwealth to take over on that basis.
As a case in point the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) directed attention to certain projects in Queensland, about the launching of which Labour governments had made certain promises immediately before elections. After having won elections as a result of these promises the Labour governments abandoned the projects. On every occasion when an election was due the Labour Government would promise tr.. launch another project, only to abandon the proposal when it gained office. All over the country there are incomplete projects which are marks of the inefficiency of State Labour governments. When this Government asked the State governments to establish priorities, so thai; money to be made available to them for national development could be. expended with, the best results, the States “ jacked up “ and said, “ We do not want, priorities. All we want is the money. We know how to spend it, and we shall determine how it is to be spent.” The fact that at the close of the last financial year more than £12,000,000, which the Commonwealth had made available to the States, was unexpended, will give an indication of the inefficiency of State governments. Yet the Opposition seeks to place the responsibility for lack of development in the States right in the lap of this Government. The responsibility for development in the States is a State responsibility. It is not an earthly scrap of use for the Opposition to attempt to lay the blame for the failures of the State governments at the door of the Australian Government. I venture to say that if the Common wealth asked the States to give it the power to carry out development in the State sphere, they would not agree to allow that power to be taken out of their hands. They would say, “No, give us the money, and we will go ahead with development, but we will not allow you to take over our development programme.” Then, when they got the money, they would do with it as the New South Wales Government has done with similar money provided by the Commonwealth. They would use it to try to meet the financial deficits of inefficient and badly-run railway systems. The States are willing to accept Commonwealth money, but they will never use it for developmental projects.
I should not have risen to speak had not the honorable member for St. George tried to misrepresent the position. The history of Labour shows that when Labour is in office it will place its fingers on a series of projects and either only half-finish them or proceed no further than the blueprint stage. That is now the case in States in which Labour is in power. It is in sharp contra-distinction to the position in South Australia, where a Liberal government is in office. No honorable member opposite has had anything to say about giving aid to South Australia, because the truth is that that State is capable of looking after itself. But honorable members opposite champion the cause of every State government that shows itself to be inefficient, and endeavour to extract political advantage from that inefficiency. The history of Labour down through the years shows that statement to be true. The only governments that are prepared to take a clear line with regard to administration, and complete projects over a period of years, are governments of the political colour of the present Government. I oan understand why the honorable member for St. George spoke with a certain degree of nostalgia about 194.9. I hope that in the near future he will bring himself up to dato about events that have occurred since he was a Minister of the Crown. After he has done so, we shall be able to listen to him with even greater interest than that with which we listened to him to-night.
– Never have I heard ‘a speech characterized by such smug self-satisfaction, ‘with less justification, as the speech of the VicePresident of the Executive ‘Council ‘(‘Sir Eric Harrison). Strangely enough, although the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Lemmon) challenged the right honorable gentleman to name a project started ‘by the Government. Did the Minister’s .speech, stripped of all its frills, name any such project? Was he able to show that such a developmental work had been started by the Government? Would he be able to say with truth that, if this Government went out of .office, the Labour Government that would succeed it would take over as many developmental projects as this Government was able to take over when Labour went out of office in 1949? Of course he would not’! What he said to us -was, in effect, that until such time as all the States now governed by Labour, elect Liberal governments to office, this Government will have nothing to do with any proposals that they may have for development. He said in effect that we could not have development in States that have Labour governments which insist on determining how they shall expend their revenues. In other words, the Government has publicly announced to the people that it will not co-.operate in any way, in connexion with national development, with States that have Labour governments. I .hope that the people will take notice of the fact that this Government is .more interested in political wrangling with the :State governments than it is in getting on with the job of national development. It is a standing accusation against the Government that it is unable to .co-operate with State governments of another political complexion in order to get on with the job of national development. Is this country’s development to stand still until every government in both the State and Federal spheres is of an anti-Labour political complexion? If so, we shall never get a move on with the task of national development. I ask all honorable members opposite whether they agree with the policy announced by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. Do they agree that nothing should be done to help development in Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and New South Wales because Labour governments are in office in those States? If they do, they are all bad Australians because they are allowing their political prejudices to outweigh their national duty.
I intended to-night to speak on one particular aspect of national development, which I regard as its most ‘important aspect, which highlights the stay-put attitude of the Government. I refer to the present state of the steel industry. Before I get on to that matter I wish to point out that the Vice-President of th” Executive Council talked about the responsibility of the State .governments for development within the States. Everybody in Australia knows that the Commonwealth holds the purse-strings and therefore controls the rate of development all over the country. ‘The VicePresident of the Executive Council blames the States for half-finished projects all over the country, but should he not rather blame the Government’s financial policy which ruined the loan market ? Everybody ‘knows that work on many State projects was stopped because of the ruinous financial policy of the Government, which destroyed the .confidence ‘of the bondholders in the Government.
Even the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who now flees from the chamber, will realize that steel is vital to our growth, our .security and our standard of living. It is also vital to every dam we build, every piece of agricultural machinery we produce, .every railway line that is constructed, and every car that we build. .It is vital to every , sec.tien of o,ur economy. The steel industry is our basic industry. Steel is an essential component of all the products of our secondary industry, whether they be tractors, guns, wire netting, or anything else. The Australian steel industry to-day has unrivalled quality of .raw materials, and unrivalled location in relation to those raw materials. Yet Australia is expending up to £30,000,000 a year on the .importation of steel which could be produced more cheaply in this country. To-day, we have a shortage of pipes, a shortage of wire netting, a shortage of steeL posts, a. shortage of structural steel, and a grave, shortage of steel for other essential purposes. Everybody knows that this, year Australia has: imported £21,000,000’ worth of. steel. That represents a wastage of £10,500,000, because, for that, imported steel, we are paying £10,500,000 more than the cost, at which it could have been produced in Australia. That sum of. £10,500,000 would have been quite sufficient to commence construction of the Ord River Dam, to which the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Lemmon) referred a few moments ago. Australia ought to be exporting steel, at a time when everybody is crying out for export markets. It is the one product, that we can sell overseas, and in relation to which we can compete on every world market. We should be meeting all our home needs and still have ample steel for export.
According to a report of the Director of. Mines, and Government Geologist in South Australia, Mr. Dickinson, who can hardly be accused of being a Communist or a red,, even, by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Anthony)., who is sitting at the. table,, if Australia were to plant its steel production in accordance with the anticipated’ expansion of population and industry, it should plan to produce by 1957, 5,,O00,000 tons of steel a year. In a statement that’ the-Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner)’ made about a month ago, he smugly announced that Australia’s anticipated production of steel in 1957 was 2,800,0.00 tons, or a little more than half of the amount that the experts estimate we should be producing by that date to cope with Australia’s1 own industrial needs.
-.; - Does the honorable member suggest, that the Government should nationalize the steel. industry?
– I shall come to- that matter in a moment, if the; Postmaster,* General will listen to me. It. is very difficult to follow the statement of the Minister for National Development, because: it- is- a mass of words which contains very little of practical importance.. The honorable gentleman referred to shortages of supplies. He-, stated that the present plana provide for little over half of the expansion that is needed-, and he allowed the matter to rest there. I tell the
Government quite frankly that, while it allows the production: of steel to remain the monopoly of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, it will be impossible to provide for the proper expansion of the. industry. I again refer to the statements of Mr. Dickinson, whom even the most. rabid member of the Australian Country party, or the- Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) who comes from South Australia, is unlikely to brand as- being particularly radical, in relation to the control of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. Mi-. Dickinson pointed out- that,, as the result of the passing of certain, legislation’,, the company has complete control of all high-grade iron ore resources in Australia., Therefore, it is impossible to attract capital from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development or from anyother overseas source for the developmentof steel works in Australia. The BrokenHill Proprietary Company Limited,. under1 legislation, has- a stranglehold on the basic resources- of iron- ore.
– What nonsense ! !
– Of: course it has;
– I ask the committee whether it is prepared to believe the statements’ of the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) or to listen to the statement Qi£ th© Director’ of Mines and Government Geologist in South Australia. I. shall quote the1, statement of Mr. Dickinson in full. It is as follows” : -
Oven the 30-year period the’ company developed- sources- of- raw materials for its industries in all States of the Commonwealth and almost certainly the main reason for its low-cost, steel production- is the fact that, it is able to assemble’ them at its steel works at relatively very low cost. Its success in producing low-priced1 steel depends essentially on this achievement..
He further stated1 -
As a. consequence of its unique position, the Broken. Hill. Proprietary Company Limited has the power to exercise complete control over production and’ distribution of. Australian steel, and if it wished to d’o so, the power to influence price policies.
He observed that this state of affairs had been brought about’ as a result of the agreements that this; company had successfully negotiated over the- years: for exclusive rights, over all known high-grade iron ore resources- in Australia-. These acts were ratified by the State Parliaments of South Australia and Western Australia, and they virtually secured to the company, for all time, complete control of iron ore production in Australia. If there is any justification for the existence of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited monopoly, it would lie in the fact that it is producing, not only low price steel, but also sufficient steel to satisfy the essential requirements of Australia’s primary industries, secondary industries and defence preparations. According to the figures of the Minister for National Development, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited will bc producing nearly 2,500,000 tons less than will be required in 1957, and it is not planning for the production of greater quantity.
– That is completely false.
– Order !
– In view of the allegation of the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne), I cite the following statement of the Minister for National Development in a press release on Sunday, the 15th August: -
The company is at present installing equipment which should provide for a total capacity of 2,800,000 tons in 1957.
I now cite the following statement in the report of Mr. Dickinson for 1950, in relation to the demand for steel in Australia -
In all probability, by 1959-00, it will reach at least 5 million tons per annum- not 2,800,000 tons.
– Has the honorable member the reports of anybody except this dissatisfied gentleman which he can quote ?
– I think that is a disgraceful reflection upon a responsible State official who has held his position with distinction and honour, and who has brought this matter under the notice of the Parliament of South Australia. I refuse to be distracted by the honorable member for Evans.
Sir Philip McBride interjecting,
– The Minister for Defence does not like to hear these reports because he comes from South Australia. The honorable gentleman knows that the matters to which I have referred are true, and that the Government has done absolutely nothing in relation to the production of steel. It is so completely a creature in the hands of those who dominate this monopoly that it cannot think of steel production without thinking of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. It is so content to accept a situation in which this monopoly has complete control of “all the high-grade resources of ore in this country that’ it cannot contemplate further action to expand the production of steel. Increased production of this commodity is necessary for the maintenance of every Australian industry, more particularly the primary industries. Steel is the one product in relation to which Australia can compete successfully on every overseas market. Therefore, any government, other than a stay-put government with the restricted mentality of this Government, would make its first task, in co-operation with the States, an investigation of the possibility of increasing steel production, and it would not be content to allow the nation to remain a captive of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited.
Australia must increase its steel production by 2,000,000 tons within the next couple of years. I ask the PostmasterGeneral, who is sitting at the table, to indicate to the committee the action that the Government proposes to take to assist the nation to increase its steel production. Steel is essential, not only to our own industries, but also to the promotion of a successful export trade, the urgency of which is being stressed by every Government supporter, every financial expert, and the members of the Opposition. I emphasize the fact that, not only is Australia producing insufficient steel for its own requirements now, but also that the plans for expansion do not provide for production that will meet future requirements. I emphasize that the Government has a responsibility, and that it should do more than accept the advice of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited in relation to the utilization of our resources. The matter is one of national urgency, and it ought to be treated as such by the Government.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Chairman
– I rise to order. Is it in order for Cabinet Ministers to follow each other in succession in view of the restricted time allowed for private members to participate in the debate on the Estimates’?
– I wish to speak to the point of order. I direct attention to the fact that only 90 hours are allowed for debate on the Estimates. If the time that is allotted to Government supporters is to be taken largely by members of the Cabinet, the time that is available to private members will be severely restricted. Is it in order also for Ministers to discuss, during the debate on the Estimates, the activities of departments which they do not administer?
– I, too, wish to speak to the point of order. Whilst it is true that Ministers have the right of unrestricted speech in relation to the votes that are under discussion, and whilst it is true that a Minister may speak on any item, which may or may not come within the ambit of the department that ho administers, I think that you. Mr. Chairman, could turn a blind eye to the Standing Orders and rule in favour of the point that has been raised by the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse).
– I shall follow the regular procedure. It is nothing to do with the Chair, but, if a Minister rises, obviously he has the preference. I call the Postmaster-General.
– I think that a Minister has as much right to speak as any other honorable member. I wish to make it quite clear that I did not speak during the budget debate and that,, so far, I have not spoken during the debate on the Estimates. Therefore, I think that I have as much right as any honorable member on the back benches to speak at this stage.
Honorable members interjecting,
– When the committee comes to order, we shall proceed.
– I rise to order. I understand that you, Mr. Chairman, have ruled that, when a Minister rises, you must give him the call. Can you refer me to the standing order which obliges you to do that?
– I have ruled on the matter, and my ruling stands. I call the Postmaster-General.
– I am interested that there are so many honorable members who are anxious to participate in the debate!
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! When the committee comes to order, we shall proceed.
– In order to save time, I shall not refer further to the question of my right to speak. I direct attention to the discrepancy that exists between the activities and actions of the Australian Labour party in opposition and its activities and actions when it was in office. I remember that, just before war broke out in 1939, the theme of the Labour party was the nationalization of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. I think that matter appears on the official printed platform of the Labour party.
– It does not.
– Then the war broke out and, when the Labour party required the aid of the efficiency and the works that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited had established, nothing was good enough for that company. The Labour Government appointed the general manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, Mr. Essington Lewis as Director of Munitions. Now that the war is over and the danger seems to be past, the statements of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) seem to indicate a return to the former theme.
– I said, “Break the monopoly”.
– Break the monopoly ! That means nationalization. When this Government came into office iri 1949 after eight years of Labour administration, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited was operating at about 65 per cent, of its capacity. Its huge plants were unable to obtain essential supplies of materials or sufficient labour. It was faced with all sorts of difficulties, and this situation was reflected throughout Australia in shortages of steel, wire netting, galvanized iron and barbed wire. A large proportion of the country’s requirements of such materials had to be imported. About 35 per cent, of the company’s plant and equipment, therefore, was virtually useless. Now we have substantially rectified that situation.
– That is not true.
– Until a few months ugo the output of galvanized iron and most of the other commodities I have mentioned was sufficient to meet requirements. It is a fact that supply now is not equal to demand, but this is due very largely to the vast industrial expansion, the building activity and the other forms of development that are taking place all over Australia, mainly, of course, as a result of the economic and developmental policies pursued by this Government.
The speech made by the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Lemmon) provided another example of the disparity between the words and the deeds of members of the Labour party. The honorable member for St. George was a member of this Parliament for a number of years as the honorable member for Forrest, an electorate in Western Australia. At that time, he claims with great pride, he initiated the vast Snowy Mountains hydro-electric project in New South Wales. Now that he is the honorable member for St. George, a Sydney electorate, he talks of the need for a vast project on the Ord River in Western Australia. Pie knows very well that it is safe for him to talk extravagantly when he is far away from the proposed scene of action because he can tell the people in that region later that his plans have been obstructed. Now that he represents a New South Wales electorate, he proposes to gain credit for himself by advocating the construction of a dam on the Ord River in Western Australia. In matters of this kind, it is essential to establish degrees of priority. This Government has made large sums available to the State governments in the last three or four years, mainly from its taxation revenue, in order to supplement their loan funds. The amount in 1951-52 was £53,000,000, almost all of which came from Commonwealth revenue instead of from loan funds. The amount in 1952-53 was £123,000,000, and the amount last, year was £80,000,000. Thus, in three years, this Government has made available from it3 revenues a total of £356,000,000 to help the States to proceed with their own projects. Well, if we are to undertake a vast increase of expenditure on developmental works - and no doubt a very good case can be made out. in support of most of these projects - the funds must be obtained from some source.
Members of the Opposition say blithely that the money ought to be found and can be found. Where does our choice lie? Would they reduce the defence vote of £200,000,000 ? Would they increase taxation in order to raise more money? Perhaps they would reduce social services ! The truth is that members of the Opposition, with one or two odd exceptions, proclaimed during the last general election campaign that, if elected to power, they would pursue a national development policy, not of works, but of social services, chiefly by means of the abolition of the means test. That, of course, would have involved the country in the expenditure of an additional £300.000,000 a ,year, or more.
– What nonsense!
– That is the result that the Treasury experts have calculated, notwithstanding the denials of the honorable member and his colleagues. Therefore, I ask honorable members opposite, who gaily say that the Government could and should proceed with additional developmental works, how they would raise the necessary revenue? The money could be obtained only by means of heavier taxation, from loan funds, ot by renewing inflationary pressures, to which, of course, they would object. They maintain that they want to keep the economy stable because price increases hit the housewife, the basic wage earner and others on low incomes most severely.
There is a limit to the national development that “we can undertake at any one time. This Government will commence in the course of the years, I hope and believe, many of the projects that honorable members opposite have mentioned. I merely remind the committee that, when the honorable member for St. George and his colleagues went out of office in 1949, they left behind on our desks, as the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) has said, only blueprints. One example is the blueprint for the standardization of railway gauges. I recall that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) announced in this chamber -with great gusto that the Labour Government had initiated a plan for the expenditure of about £284,000,000 on the standardization of railway gauges throughout Australia. Yet, when he left office three or four years after he had made that statement, not a single mile of railway track had been laid under the scheme. The present honorable member for St. George, as Minister for Works and Housing, had a similar record in the Labour Government. He announced to the House the beginning of the Snowy Mountains project and produced a booklet showing the work that was to be done and how the amount of £480,000,000 was to be used. How much thought did he give to Western Australia and the Ord River scheme when he was planning the expenditure of £480,000,000 in New South Wales? The stories that honorable members opposite tell look very weak indeed in the light of truth. Notwithstanding the fact that the honorable member for St. George produced a blueprint for the Snowy Mountains project, nothing was done about it before the Labour Government left office other than to invite the Governor-General of that day, .Sir William McKell, to turn the first sod at Jindabyne. The rest of the plan was lying on our desks when we came into office.
Since then, in four and a half years, this Government has expended tens of millions of pounds on that project. Members of the Labour party, when they are in Opposition, use one fine set of words and, when they are in office use a different set of words but achieve very little. Of course, the honorable member for St. George must have been very pleased when he came back to this Parliament, after a long period of isolation in a Sydney suburb, to find that the project which he had neglected was well on the way to becoming an accomplished fact. Instead of talking of work that might be done in some other State, he should have said a word or two of congratulation to the Government for having brought to reality a project which, during his term of office, was only an airy-fairy dream. I have replied very briefly indeed to the honorable members opposite whom I have mentioned. I am sorry if I have taken up time that honorable members who perhaps had something more important to say might have used. However, it was necessary to place on record the truth about the Labour Government’s inactivity when it was in office, and to contrast that situation with the situation that exists to-day.
.- I echo the sentiments that were expressed this afternoon by the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa), who made a plea for a section of the community that has never had a proper chance in life. I refer to disabled persons who have not been rehabilitated into community life or enabled to play their part in industry. As honorable members know, the Labour governments led by Mr. Curtin and Mr. Chifley initiated a great humanitarian programme of social justice for all sections of the community, which envisaged full employment, not only for all ab,e.bodied persons, but also for disabled people - the so-called no-hopers who never had a chance in life until World War II. broke out, when they had their first opportunity to show that they could contribute to national productivity. Many such persons literally helped to bring abour victory. I know many among the halt,, the maimed and the blind who did valuable work in our great munitions industries. Three members of a family in the electorate of Reid, which I represent, suffer from congenital blindness. Two of them are totally blind. They did good work in the munitions factories during World War II., and two of them are nowemployed in peace-time occupations as a result of the experience that they gained then. Other afflicted citizens had similar opportunities to display their ability to work usefully in various occupations.
Unfortunately many such citizens have not been given opportunities to develop skills in peace time because we lack facilities to enable them to do 30. There is not now the same high demand for workers in industry as there was in wartime, when many so-called misfits were able to contribute to the national effort in various branches of the armed services and in the munitions factories. The Chifley Government prepared a programme of social justice for these people that was designed to enable them to become useful members of the community. In fact, provision was made in the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1.945-1952 for their special requirements. Section 61 of the act provides that regulations may be promulgated for the employment of a. specified number of disabled persons, whose names may be entered on a register, in a certain proportion to the number of able-bodied persons employed in various industries. This provision is in line with the Disabled Persons Employment Act 1944 of the United Kingdom, which lays down, specifically that employers with a substantial number of persons in their employ shall be obliged to engage a prescribed quota of disabled persons. I understand that this compulsory provision has been operating continuously in the United Kingdom under both the former Labour Government and the present Conservative Government.
Representations have been made to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) by myself and other honorable members, as well as by deputations representing various groups, particularly blind workers, in favour of the adoption of the British system. Unfortunately, the Government has fallen down on it3 job, because regulations have not been promulgated under the section of the Re-establishment and Employment Act to which I have referred, and the result is that disabled persons are not being given the chance to establish themselves as valuable citizens to which they are entitled. Furthermore, the Commonwealth Employment Service is not doing all that it could do on their behalf, largely because it is hampered by the difficulty of prevailing upon employers to engage handicapped workers voluntarily. There is a lack of co-ordination between the
Department of Social Services and various bodies concerned with the vocational guidance of disabled persons, blind workers and other afflicted citizens. Th, department seems to have neither the facilities nor the trained specialists, social workers and personnel officers necessary for the solution of the problems of these unfortunate people. The result is that many of them are not getting the jobs to which they are entitled. Not only have disabled ‘citizens been unable to play their part in industry in the two years since the horror budget was brought down, but also 160,000 ablebodied workers have been unable to obtain jobs. Now that Professor Hytten, one of the architects of the proposal for a pool of unemployed, is to have a part in the direction of the Government’s financial policy, the workers who are unable to fend for themselves because they are physically handicapped cannot hold out much hope for the future.
I urge the Government to take action to improve the position of workers who suffer from disabilities, particularly in view of the plea that has been made for disabled workers by employers’ organizations. Copies of a report, which is entitled Employment of the Physically Handicapped - A Survey by the Victorian Employers’ Federation, have been circulated among honorable members. The report, which was prepared by the Businessmen’s Advisory Committee of the Victorian Employers’ Federation, is an account of the information about the problems of physically disabled workers in Victoria that was obtained recently by research officers of the federation in two months’ investigation. It brings to the notice of the Government some important aspects of the problems of disabled persons. Five important findings are embodied in the report. The first finding, under the heading, “ The Physically Handicapped Cost Money”, reads - . . the first finding of this report . . . is that through failure to place 2,100 employable people over the past five years we - that is, Australians generally - squandered £5,070,000 needlessly and in the next five years will squander £3,750,000 to £4,500,000 if nothing is done to alter present methods and policies of job placement. .
The second finding, under the heading. “ Co-ordination is Lacking “, is as follows : -
Luck of co-ordination hasnot beenthe sole or even major cause of the. failure to place 2,100 employable physically handicapped people over the lastfive years. But it undoubtedly has been a factor.Furthermore, unless there is a markedimprovementin co-ordination of activities, existing machinery will be incapable of handling efficiently the increasing army of physically handicapped in the future. Immediate attention mustbe given to the problem of co-ordination.
Under the heading, “ Do Physically Disabled Make Good Employees ? “, the third finding reads -
The third finding of this report is that physically disabled persons, providing they are given jobs that suit their capabilities, make excellent employees capable of output equal to and often better than the non-disabled.
The fourth finding, under the heading, “ Rehabilitation- But Not For Some”, is -
The fifth finding is headed, “ Job Placement has Fallen Down “, and is as follows : -
The fifth finding of this report is that the 2,100 physically handicapped were not found jobs because of the Commonwealth Employment Service’s -
Failure to carry out a survey on the availability of jobs in industry suitable to the physically handicapped. (ii) Failure to maintain adequate liaison on the problems of the physically handicapped with employer and union groups.
Failure to carry out an educational programme to inform employers, the unions and the community generally on the problems of the physically handicapped.
Failure adequately to train its own employment officers to deal with the physically handicapped cases. The officers of the physically handicapped section of C.E.S. cannot be blamed for these failures, the fault lies in top-level policy of the Department of Labour and National Service and the Government.
I do not think that any one will suggest that the Victorian Employers’ Federation supports the Opposition. The report of that very responsible body indicts the Government for its treatment ofan important section of the community,the physically disabled citizens, who should be allowed to play their part in industry and contribute to community life. If they were in employment it would not be necessary for the Government to expend money in assisting them. This is not a matter of charity. The report pointed out that the physically handicapped cost money, in the following words : -
They become successes in the official case books, not when they have been patched up by the doctors, but only after they are again on the pay-roll of same employer and are doing a useful job of work.
The failures naturally touch off our humanitarian sympathies and we feel genuinely sorry for them. But what few people realize is that these failures also touch our pocket. In cold terms a physically disabled person in a job is a valuable community asset but out of a job he’s a serious liability. In a job he costs the community nothing and contributes both to the national income and the taxation, out of a job he’s a direct charge on the community because he draws sickness, pension or charitable benefits and contributes neither to the national income nor to taxation.
From the employers’ point of view, the important question is whether physically handicapped persons make good employees. The report quoted the words of a prominent industrialist, Mr. Austin F. Preuss, employment officer at the Fishermen’s Bend factory of General MotorsHolden’s Limited, as follows : -
You can’t get a true picture of the capabilities of a disabled worker on the production line until you’ve ceased to think of him as a handicapped person and begun to think of him as a man with definite capacities that will suit a specific job.
The report made the following comment on Mr. Preuss’s opinion: -
This was the seemingly startling statement made to the Federation’s research men when they turned their attention to the investigation of how successful handicapped workers had been as employees in Victorian industry.
The statement came from somebody whose views merit serious consideration . . .
Mr. Preuss’s job is to keep the company’s staff of 4,500 at full strength. He has to find employees to fit hundreds of different categories of jobs ranging from highly trained professional men, occupying important technical posts, to apprentices fresh from school and just embarking on their life’s careers in industry.
Mr. Preuss’s opinions were selected for detailed publication, because not only is he a highly skilled employment officer with personnel experience overseas as well as in Australia, but because he has probably had the handling and placement of move physically handicapped people than any other single employment officer in Victoria.
Mr. Preuss said also that the big problem with most employers when they came to think about putting physically handicapped persons on their staff was that they failed to appreciate that everyone was handicapped for some kind of work, and he added -
My managing director couldn’t hold down it. job on the assembly line and come to think of it I’m not sure that any of our board of directors could.
A man who is bad at figures is just as handicapped for book-keeping as a man with color-blindness is for paint inspection.
On the other hand I know a man -whose body is twisted and crippled with polio but he is a commercial artist. He isn’t handicapped at commercial art - he is anything but handicapped.
Many people regard any deviation from the normal as a handicap, but actually there is no such thing as “ normal “ either physically or mentally.
Each person is an individual with his own personal collection of abilities and disabilities.
Once it is realized that everyone has handicaps -for some jobs, the whole mode of looking at the physically handicapped as an employee prospect changes.
You no longer look at a man’s disabilities, and wonder whether they will make him unsuitable for a particular job, but see him purely as a person -whose residual capacities must be assessed to discover whether they fit the minimum physical qualifications to perform the job to the required standard.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.-At the outset, I want the committee to understand that there was no personal motive for the point of order that I took earlier this evening. I rose to order merely because I envisaged a constant succession of Ministers addressing the committee. My .action was not directed against the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony) personally. I have the greatest respect for him and always enjoy his contributions to the proceedings of this chamber. The time schedule is rather tight, and as other honorable members wish to discuss these Estimates I shall confine my observations, which will be brief, to one subject. I wish to discuss the immigration programme, which is of great importance to Australia. We are extremely fortunate in having an immigration policy that meets with the approval of most honorable members and citizens, and i,n having a Minister for Immigration and departmental officers who have the courage and determination to put into effect a bold and imaginative policy. The Government proposes to increase the intake of immigrants in the current year by 7,500, which will make a total of 107,000. This target is a little disappointing. I am aware of the real difficulties in the way of a larger intake, though it is sometimes difficult to accept them. I am aware that care must be taken to avoid inflationary pressure on the economy, but Australia has a great need of additional workers to fill the 46,000 vacancies in secondary industry at present. Rural industries also need labour, and, in the present troubled condition of the world, we have a great need of man-power for defence.
Many countries envy Australia its open spaces, and their representatives do not hesitate repeatedly to give expression to their envy, not only here, but also abroad. We can hold Australia only by introducing large numbers of immigrants to increase Australia’s population as rapidly as possible, and by holding to powerful friends. We need immigrants who are capable of being absorbed into the Australian way of life. That is the first essential. The immigration programme must be flexible, so that if we run into stormy waters economically we may reduce the intake. Which’ are the best immigrants for Australia ? The most suitable types are those who have been trained for the jobs that will be available to them here. Many immigrants are required, on their arrival in Australia, to take jobs for which they are untrained. For instance, a doctor might be expected to work in another calling. This makes it difficult for immigrants, in spite of their most determined efforts, to fi.6 readily and happily into their new country’s way of life. It would be beneficial if Australian employers could,, in the countries from which the immigrants come, choose those that would be suitable for the jobs that are available. in Australia, tell them about the jobs,, and provide them with homes on their arrival. This would greatly assist in the speedy assimilation of immigrants into the Australian way of life, and would help: to attract additional numbers of them. Immigrants should be able to bring their families to Australia with them, and they must be able to enjoy a reasonable prospect of obtaining their own homes without undue delay, provided that they are willing to work to obtain them.
As this Government has continually stressed, we should give priority to British immigrants. I hope that better transport facilities will be provided for British immigrants than have been provided in the past, because I know that many British people who want to come out here and have to wait a long time to get transport, are liable to become unsettled and lose interest in emigrating. When a new American becomes naturalized in the United States of America, he must be able to speak English reasonably fluently, and must know something about tfes American constitution! The result of those requirements, is that the American naturalized citizen is able to take an intelligent interest in American affairs. In order to qualify for naturalization, he usually attends an adult school to improve his knowledge of (She English language and of the American Constitution and traditions. We do not expect these requirements from new Australians before they undergo the naturalization ceremony, and occasionally we- have the experience of meeting naturalized Australians who are completely unable to speak English. Moreover, they have- no knowledge of our customs or our Constitution, and are not interested in finding out about them. A provision should be inserted into the rules of our naturalization ceremony to the effect that, any person who wishes, to become a naturalized. Australian should be able to speak English and should know something of our Constitution. He should not qualify for naturalization merely by having lived in Australia for a number of years and having gone through certain formalities..
I believe that immigrants should be encouraged to serve in our armed forces. I consider that new Australians would be glad’ of this opportunity to repay Australia for having given them freedom and an opportunity to live according to our way of life. But we. do very little to encourage them to serve in the armed forces. There is nothing in the Defence Act or the Australian Military Regulations to prevent aliens from voluntarily enlisting in the Australian Regular Army. The only existing restrictions regarding the service of aliens in the army is that they may not be appointed to commissioned rank in any part of the Australian Military Forces, they may not be enlisted in the Citizen Military Forces or accepted as staff cadets at the Royal Military College, or compelled to train under Part XII. of the Defence Act. However, if that is not discouragement of new Australians to serve in the army, I do not know what is. Consequently, we have only 43 new Australians serving with the Australian Regular Army. The Royal Australian Navy takes an even more rigid view of the enlistment of new Australians, and requires that they must be substantially of European descent and the sons of natural-born or naturalized British subjects. The Royal Australian Air Force takes a similar view. Therefore, it is quite apparent that we do not encourage the. great number of new Australians in this country to join the armed forces, although I am sure that because they are glad to enter this country they want to share fully in our national life. I suggest it is a grave oversight on the part of the Government not to encourage them more vigorously to join the services.
Although new Australians are required to register for national service, not one new Australian has been trained under the national service training scheme. I suggest, that national service training presents an excellent opportunity to bring new Australians together with old Australians, in order to help them to learn our customs and way of life. The fact that, although they have been registered, they have not been called up for service shows quite clearly that they receive very little encouragement by the Government to serve in the armed forces or to be trained under the national service training scheme. 1 believe that we should encourage immigration to the limit of our absorptive capacity in the interest of Australia’s future security. Indeed, we should encourage immigration beyond our absorptive limit in order to build up our population rapidly, because we shall have to rely upon our increased population, not only for the safety of the present generation of Australians, but also for the safety of our children.
.- I desire to address the committee on the Estimates for the Department of National Development. Those Estimates have engaged the attention of many eminent honorable members of this committee to-day, and indeed no less than throe Ministers have addressed themselves to them rather than to the Estimates of their own departments. We are well aware that whenever the Vice-President of th Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison), who is also Minister for Defence Production, hears any suggestion concerning hie department from the Opposition, he immediately states that those who put forward the suggestion are following the Communist line. We are also aware that the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) was not allowed by the members of his party to address this committee last week about national service training. We know quite well that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony), much as he likes to talk on other subjects such as external affairs, is not prepared to take this committee into his confidence concerning the department under his jurisdiction. The continued stagnation in the Postal Department-
– Order ! The honorable member is dealing with a matter that is not at present before the committee.
– The PostmasterGeneral would not talk about television. These three eminent members of the Government decided to discuss national development rather than their own departments. After seeing and hearing their performances, I sympathize with the chagrin of the Liberal cave that sits behind the Postmaster-General because he dared to speak about the Department of National Development and thwart their utterances.
We all have heard the usual passing of the buck and the usual excuses by Ministers and those who sit behind them for the lack of development of this country. For nearly five years national development has been in the hands of this Government, and the development of this country, directly or indirectly, depends on the whim of the Government and more particularly on the whim of the Treasury. In some respects, such as the development of the Northern Territory, national development is directly in the hands of the Government, and in other respects development is in the hands of the States which depend on the whim of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), who is the agent of the Austraiian Loan Council, as to how much money they shall receive each year.
I wish to refer to the amounts of money that have been made available to the States for national development during the years that this Government has been in office. In 1950-51, which was the first complete year that this Government held office, £165,000,000 was made available by the Commonwealth to the States for national development. In 1951-52, £225,000,000 was made available. For 1952-53 the Australian Loan Council decided that the amount that could and should be spent on national development by the States was £247,000,000. The Treasurer, however, as agent of the Australian Loan Council, said that he would not carry out the decisions of the council, but would provide only £190,000,000. You will note, Mr. Chairman, that at the end of a year during which our population had increased by 217,006 persons, the money made available for national development was reduced by £35,000,000. For 1953-54, the Australian Loan Council decided tha t. £231,000,000 could and should be spent on national development, but the Treasurer, again in defiance of the council, said, “The States will get only £200,000,000”. He said that, in spite of the fact that once again our popula- tion had increased by 181,000 people. Therefore, after two years, during which the population had increased by over 400,000 persons, the amount of money made available by the Treasurer for national development decreased by £25,000,000.
At the meeting of the Australian Loan Council last May, the council decided that £200,000,000 should be spent on national development, but the Treasurer said, in effect, “ If we find that amount of money we shall give it to the States, but we shall assume that we shall get, only tl80,000j000 and, therefore, you will be given money at the rate of £180,000,000 a year during the first six months of the next financial year “. Consequently, it is possible that during the present financial year the States will receive less money from the Treasurer than they received in any other year of the life of this Government, except the first year. Although the value of the £1 has been reduced by about two-fifths and the- population has increased by about 1,000,000 persons, it is likely that £45,000,000 less will be found this year for national development than was provided in 1951-52. It is useless to pass th p buck to the States in this regard.
The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce), typical of the querulous Queenslanders who are supporters of the Government in this chamber, listed a great number of projects for which he said the Queensland Government was responsible. The Queensland Government cannot go on with those works unless it is given the money to pay for them, and it would have received that money if the Treasurer, who is a Queenslander himself, had obeyed the Constitution and had found the money that the Australian Loan Council had decided Queensland was entitled to receive. The Vice-President of the Executive Council stated that New South “Wales has expended loan money on its inefficient railway system. I point out to him that New South Wales is the only State in the Commonwealth whose railways pay not only their current expenses, but also all the interest on capital as well. If he must look for some State to blame, he might find it significant that South Australia, the only Australian
State with a Liberal government, has the biggest railway deficit. Western Australia, which is the only other Australian State that was unfortunate enough to have several years of Liberal government after the last war, has the second largest State railway deficit in the Commonwealth. I shall not be so petty as to suggest that those deficits were caused by Liberal governments. South Australia and Western Australia have suffered from large railway deficits because they are dispersed States. However, it is pertinent to ask what this Government has done to develop such States.
The area north of the Tropic of Capricorn, in which about 300,000 people reside, is substantially the responsibility of the Government, yet a mere £2,144,000 is allowed in the Estimates for the development of the Northern Territory. Moreover, last year £500,000 less than the amount provided for in the Estimates was expended in developing the Territory. Therefore, we can anticipate that only about £1,750,000 will be spent on capital works and services in the Northern Territory during this financial year, although that is an area for which this Government alone is responsible.
The finances of this country touching capital development are in an anomalous state compared with the finances of other countries of the world. No State knows until the meeting of the Australian Loan Council in May of each year how much money it will receive from July of that year until June of the following year to carry out capital works. The amounts allowed have varied from year to year under this Government, and consequently State contracts have had to be dishonoured and State projects deferred, and a. general lack of confidence has been engendered. Contractors, both inside and outside Australia, will not take State works contracts because they do not know when the Australian Government will fail to provide the money for the States to complete those works. The Commonwealth departments and instrumentalities are in no better case, indeed their case is probably worse ; because until the budget is presented in August or September each year, no Commonwealth department. knows how much money it will be able to expend on capital works for the financial year which commenced on the 1st of the preceding July. That applies to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and the Postmaster-General’s Department, that is to say, the biggest developmental work and the biggest business undertaking respectively which are -carried on by the Commonwealth. Until one-quarter of the year has passed, no one knows how much money they will have to carry on their works and to develop. “Whether it be the Commonwealth or the States which are carrying on projects, nobody can anticipate the completion date of any work, the construction of which will extend beyond one financial year. The States do not know how much money they will get in succeeding financial years from the Australian Loan Council. Even if the Australian Loan Council decides how much they are to have, they do not know how much they will get from the Commonwealth Treasurer, who is the agent of the council. Commonwealth instrumentalities cannot plan ahead, because they get their capital from the budget, and they do not know how much they will get in succeeding budgets.
The plain fact is that this Government has not sought to carry out its responsibilities or to co-operate with the States in carrying out their responsibilities. There are many constitutional devices by which the Commonwealth could allot a certain number of pounds, or a certain proportion of the national income, to various projects in the States. This Government has never done so in respect of any projects which come under the heading of national development.
We were fortunate to hear a contribution by the former Minister for Works and Housing in the Chifley Labour Government, the new honorable member for St. George (Mr. Lemmon). It was like a breath of fresh air to hear a man who had faith in this country, and was able to rely for his facts on works which he had initiated. The Department of Works and Housing under his administration, did, in fact, erect houses, and carry out the Commonwealth and States Housing Agreement. The Commonwealth, again under his administration. enabled the States to become, if you like, the largest landlords in the country, but at least they were landlords who gave credit to the tenants for the rents that they had paid. They were landlords who did not sell the houses to persons other than the tenants. They were landlords to whom a tenant could come at any time and say, “I want to buy the house in which I live. You will have to give me credit for the rent that I have paid to date.” The honorable member for St. George has the distinction of having established the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority. State governments had wrangled over the Snowy Mountains scheme for nearly a century, and previous Commonwealth governments had not done anything to initiate it. But in the four years after the end of World War II. an agreement was reached between the Commonwealth on the one hand, and New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia on the other hand, and the scheme was commenced. Government members say that only blueprints were left when the honorable member for St. George ceased to be Minister for Works and Housing, but in the budget for 1949-50, the sum of £2,500,000 was allocated to the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority, and in the course of the financial year, that money was expended. That sum was greater than is allotted even now by the Commonwealth for the whole Northern Territory and, furthermore, the money was worth twice as much as it is now.
We have had enough of this buckpassing and shilly-shallying. We have to realize that both private and public enterprise can be efficient, and that the people who represent Australians in the Commonwealth Parliament and State Parliaments alike are conscientious and capable men. If we secure co-operation between public and private enterprise, and between the Commonwealth and the States, we can develop this country, and gain the confidence of investors in loans.
This Government has increased interest rates and depressed the value of Commonwealth bonds. Even at the present time, bonds which will mature in 1964 <or 1965 can be bought for £89 or £90. Commonwealth bonds which will mature in 193 can be bought for £91.
Such is the credit of a government -which has tinkered with interest rates, and with the amount of money which is made available by the issue of treasury-bills, or on the loan market, and now finds that decreasing numbers of pounds are available for the development of the country. That is a shocking position in Australia, where only the soft under-belly is developed and the vulnerable north remains undeveloped. It is one of the unfortunate things in this country that the drama which attends Commonwealth and State financial relations serves to dispel any interest in the Northern Territory. We can, and should, develop the Northern Territory. If we do not, other people will.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.-. I do not intend to devote the few minutes at my disposal to taking the honorable member for “Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) to task, but I cannot allow one of his (statements to pass without a brief comment. The honorable gentleman described the speech of the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Lemmon) as a breath of fresh air coming into this chamber. I, personally, did not notice any freshness about that speech. The honorable member for St. George spoke of the housing position. I realize that I shall not be in order in referring to this matter at length, but I consider that the honorable member for St. George, who was the Minister for Works and Housing in the Chifley Labour Government, should be ashamed of the legislation that he introduced to give effect to the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, because it was one of the roost diabolical pieces of legislation that has been placed on the statutebook of the Commonwealth. That aci did not give people houses. It was designed to create a renting community, and it was .a socialist instrument in every respect. It has only been in the las! year that the Labour party has turned a somersault and advocated the sale of houses to the tenants. The former Minister for Works and Housing, when be was urged to agree to a provision of that kind, refused to do so.
However, I do not wish to speak oi those matters. I desire to make a few helpful remarks about the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. The proposed vote for that organization for this financial year is £3,800,000, which is to be supplemented by a grant from outside sources of £882,600. The total proposed provision of £4,692,000 is an enormous sum, and when we add to it the capital cost of certain buildings which are used by the organization, we see that Australians have a great investment in it. I emphasize that I do not propose to criticize the- Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. I compliment the men who are conducting it, because it is doing magnificent work in every respect. It is one of the very progressive things which we are doing that will add tremendously to our wealth, and enable us to increase our standard of living. When I make that statement, I have in mind the activities of the organization in respect of the use of myxomatosis for the destruction of rabbits, and its work in the dairying and agricultural industries, and in a host of other matters.
But the grand discoveries of .science, which can be of such great benefit to man, are not sufficient in themselves. The information about the discoveries must, reach the people. That is the point which I particularly desire to make. We know that scientists apply themselves to scientific subjects, and are not greatly interested in the dissemination of information about their discoveries. Research is carried out by private industry and State authorities as well as by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and whilst contactis kept with those organizations, considerable duplication occurs, and a lack of co-ordination is evident. -Some time ago, the Public Works Committee issued a report on the proposed erection of a dairy research laboratory at Highett, in Victoria. Reference is made to duplication in the report, which, no doubt, some honorable members have not read. The report is as follows: -
Past experience lias shown that, in the main, the ‘State and ‘Commonwealth research officers have carried out investigations which have been clearly defined and related closely to the respective sphere determined upon. However, the evidence shows that it is sometimes difficult to define what is fundamental research, and a number of problems have been investigated by both State and Commonwealth scientists. Some doubt, therefore, arose in l.he minds of the members of the committee concerning the effectiveness of the methods used to co-ordinate the efforts of the workers mid facilities available.
The committee also reported -
As a result of its inquiries the committee felt that there was a need for some special action towards co-ordinaton of effort in the dairy research work, in order to make best use of the men available, and also to use the equipment, provided at such great expense, to the best advantage.
Honorable members will see, from those passages in the report, evidence of conflict between the various organizations. Information has been conveyed to the public principally through trade journals, and certain State organizations, and by way of statements in the press. But, as we all know, information conveyed through those avenues often does not reach the people who are most interested in it. The small farmer often know? little or nothing about the discoveries which are made by this great organization, often at heavy cost. Manufacturers who could benefit considerably from the information that is” available, are not aware of it. In the domestic sphere, people who could use knowledge gained, by the organization, are not aware of what is happening. I could cite many instances to illustrate this point if time permitted, but one of the principal examples is the production of the sweet, tasty morsel, the meringue. The scientific organization has developed a method by which meringues can be produced with skim milk instead of with whites of eggs, which are normally used. Meringues can be made much more cheaply with skim milk than with eggs, and have a great nutritive value supplying calcium which is so deficient in our diet. Yet I supose that any housewife in Australia, if she were asked about that particular discovery, would not have any knowledge of it.
– Just ignorance.
– No, the information about the discovery has not been disseminated properly, so that it would reach the people. Let us now consider the mundane matter of the eradication of termites. A few nights ago, I heard a most interesting address on that subject by an officer of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.. It was such a simple procedure, which would be of interest to many people in Australia, and the cost of eradicating white ants by this method was very little indeed. Yet enormous sums are being paid by people in the capital cities towhite ant exterminators. I know something about this matter. Hundreds of pounds are paid, in some instances, to the exterminators, and, in my opinion, such expenditure would be quite unnecessary, if the people were aware of the discovery made by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. The people should be informed of such matters.
One matter which came before the organization was a novel invention for the splicing of wire. The discovery was made by a person who was not an employee of the organization. I hope to refer to this matter at greater length on another occasion, because time does not permit me to deal with it adequately now. This invention may be described as revolutionary. It was tested by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and proved to be 100 per cent, effective. The details are in the head of the inventor. His health is not good. The knowledge is likely to be lost to the world, yet we are doing nothing about it. This illustrates my contention that certain scientific discoveries are not being preserved for the people, and that information about scientific ‘ matters is not being conveyed to them.
I appeal to the Government, briefly, to take action to ensure the full, effective and co-ordinated dissemination of the knowledge that is obtained by this magnificent organization so that it may reach the people. I know that the organization has no means of its own, at the present time, to enable information of this kind to reach the people, so that proper use may be made of great scientific discoveries. We must remember that this organization is comparatively young, and that it is only now that many of its experiments are maturing. Almost daily, matters of great moment mature which could be conveyed to the people. I appeal to the Government to ensure, even though the cost may be considerable, that the people throughout Australia shall be advised of these scientific discoveries, so that every one may have a knowledge of the uses to which the discoveries may be put. Indeed, there is no reason why, in the interests of humanity, people in other parts of the world should not be advised of the discoveries. Some of the discoveries by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization may be of great commercial value to some persons. Another point which should be discussed is whether a greater contribution should be obtained from certain sections of industry which benefit commercially from the discoveries of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
– Order ! The time allotted for consideration of the proposed votes for the Department of Immigration, the Department of Labour and National Service, the Department of National Development, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Department or Defence
Proposed vote. £715,000.
Department of the Navy.
Proposed vote, £48,165,000.
Department of the Army.
Proposed vote, £72,185,000.
Department of Air
Proposed vote, £57,406,000.
Department of Supply
Proposed vote, £14,960,000.
Department of Defence Production
Proposed vote, £6,479,000.
Proposed vote, £90,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
.- This bracket of the Estimates relates to the defence services and to civil defence. It is a curious thing that this Government is passionately devoted to the prob lems of defence but, unfortunately, its history shows that although it is intensely patriotic and determined to do its best, it has been in a classical sense most unsuccessful in relation to defence. During the last four and one-half years it has expended on defence approximately £800,000,000. One could ask any citizen or, indeed, any Minister, where that money has gone and what has been achieved by that expenditure, and there would be a big question mark over the whole problem. I say that entirely in a. non-critical sense because honorable members on both sides of the chamber must approach the subject of defence with some appreciation of the problems that face this country. We are again asked to approve of heavy expenditure in respect of all the defence services. We are entitled to be informed of the Government’s new plans, if it has any, for defence. In this matter, it is hopeless to think in terms of World War I., or, in view of the development of atomic weapons, even in terms of World War II. We must think in terms of the future, bearing in mind the nightmare - and I am afraid that it approaches the truth - that is purveyed by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) with respect to the use of atomic weapons and the shocking results that the use of such weapons must cause.
The sum of £800,000,000 has been expended on defence since the Government assumed office, but the money, in too many instances, has been expended on old methods. The whole of the money to be made available for defence in the future should be applied to development of the most modern methods of providing some protection for this country against atomic attack and in the provision of a strategy by which we can hold our own in the event of assault. What are these plans? What blueprints and advice has the Government received from overseas? What overall plan exists for the defence of our vulnerable population of 9,000,000 people in the event of the outbreak of an atomic war? Time is running out for making preparations. We cannot expect for a third time to escape the things that may occur as a result of a third world war. Our planning must be geared differently from our planning in the past. It may be all right to speak in terms of compulsory training and the conventional armaments, but only what is useful matters now. An entirely new concept pf this problem must be evolved. We must be told where we are going> I am being critical in an endeavour to be constructive;, and I say that certain things can be done. For instance,, of the sum voted for defence last year approximately £30,000,000 remained unexpended.
The. honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) high-lighted another point in another debate appertaining to this subject when he dealt with the development of railways. Perhaps, as part, of our commitments under Seato- we could invoke, the defence power under the Constitution to link strategic railways with seaports- and markets. I know nothing of military strategy and, therefore* I endeavour to approach this matter with common sense. But is it not an acceptable fact that in the event of an atomic attack o.ur cities will be- endangered and- food will be in short supply? Therefore,, means must be- provided for transporting such supplies to the. cities and for storing them- underground. Unless effective! railway communication is: provided for- this purpose, our1 country, in the’ event of am atomic attack, will not survive. Unless thi?secondary line of defence is provided, our people will run around Like ants when their anthill has been disturbed^ Year after year, in the course of budget debates, honorable members have pointed to, the vulnerability of our country, due largely to our thin vein of railways- which should be integrated strategically. Surely, the-, Government could demarcate strategic zones- for the construction of railways for. defence purposes. We should forget about the States and let the Australian Government do this_ job in- the future. Unless, we have an inte-grated network of railways Australia will be- in a perilous- position in the event of an atomic attack; Any honorable member from Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia can. point, to; the lack of essential, strategic railways. In the combined operations that may take: place, has tie- Government- set itself a specific task ? Such a- task,, qf course,, will, include its own defence, but defence preparations will also include the provision of food which must be taken to the nearest ports. Railways would be invaluable not only for the transport of food as a factor in lifting the siege of beleagured -cities but also for supplying food and material to troop.? who are deployed in other areas according to the demands of strategy.
We have been talking about the construction of strategic railways for years past. This subject is a hardy annual in every budget debate. Honorable mew:bers, generally indicate the railways which;, they believe* should be constructed; but the. committee should do something about the matter. I repeat that the. Australian Government sb.ould proceed with the construction of strategic roads and railways by invoking its defence power. I believe that that is the only way these roads and railways will eventually be constructed. The only assets- that we got out of World War II. were developmental roads. that were constructed for their strategic value, and
Mi number of aerodromes^ some of which, unfortunately,, have been closed because we* could not afford’ to- develop- themDoes not the’ Minister for Air (Mr Townley) agree that it is impossible for the Government, out of ordinary funds and loan moneys, to undertake gigantic schemes, such as1 the construction of railways, on this scale? However, does he not also agree that it is not impossible for the Government now to utilize a reasonable proportion of the money that is voted for defence for the purpose of marrying the problems of defence and development ? I suggest that’ unexpended balances of moneys voted for’ defencepurposes that have now been accumulated could be used, to make a start on the construction of strategic roads and railways.. We° should subdivide the country for this purpose - the vulnerable north, the moreadequately supplied centre and the deep’ south with its- cities. The cry is for both development and defence1 aird’- a new strategy to- prepare for atomic attack. All of these could be handled under the defence vote. If that were done, therewould’ be no complaint from members of the. Opposition about the, volume of money that might Be appropriated for that” purpose, ‘because such expenditure would be incurred not only for defence but also for purposes which are on the flange of development, and, .would convert .the vulnerable north into .something more stable and de’fendab’le in preparation against an atomic attack by providing adequate means foi- the movement of troOPS in the event of assault.
It is 1 not sufficient to talk about outmoded methods of defence when we are faced with the intolerable, incalculable and imponderable problems that are raised by the atomic bomb, and then do nothing. I believe that the suggestion I have made is reasonable au.-.i practicable, and I shall repeat it in order to drive it home. The usefulness of expenditure on defence should be assessed in part on the basis of the value of such expenditure to the country in peace-time. In the event of an aggressor gaining a foothold in this country, we could be quickly conquered. In the absence of adequate transport facilities, we would, in such circumstances, ‘have little chance of massing our forces for a super effort to repel the invader. On the other band., if an invader does not come - please God, he does not - we shall - have done something for the future development of -this country. The Toads and railways?, although provided primarily for defence, will bring our farmers nearer to markets mid solve, in part, the problems which ar,e discussed here every week. Such roads and railways will have in them a defence element apart from their usefulness in the carriage of goods. Such a plan would have not only a defence but also a developmental value. We must develop a new sort of technique in this country with respect to the development of works of this nature, and the onlyway we can infuse drive into such undertakings is by financing them from the defence vote. As I have said, this Government has expended a total of £800,000,000 .on defence. A substantial mileage of railways could have been built for that amount. Of course, .other things had to be considered, including the maintenance and development of the Army, Navy and Air Force. However, during the last few years the Government has accumulated a residue of many millions of pounds in unexpended balances of defence votes. Whilst .those funds would not be sufficient for this purpose, they would, nevertheless, enable the Government to make a start in the direction that I have indicated. Many honorable members complain about the vulnerability of Queensland, not only from a developmental but also a defence viewpoint. The only way to tackle these problems is to combine them. In this way, the Government is presented -with a valuable opportunity. When immense expenditure is involved, it must .be made to serve two purposes. In this instance, the first purpose would be defence; and the second would be national development.
The strategy of atomic warfare, which is still a mystery but is gradually emerging, will require the provision of vast stores of goods at our sea ports and of facilities to keep up such supplies in order to relieve any cities that may be beleaguered. It may be possible that under our commitments under Seato the provision of strategic roads and railways could be justified in the interests of the preservation of our people in our cities who may, in an instant, be struck by this modern push-button warfare. The Minister should consult with his experts on this matter and infuse some dynamic thinking into our future defence planning. We cannot rely on the strategy of the Duke of York who marched his men up the bill and marched them down again. The honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer) commended the ingenuity and skill of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. That is a magnificent organization which could be brought into this matter, because Australia is a land of improvization and we must learn, like the pioneers, to improvise. I suggest that under the proposed vote for the defence services, we should improvize a plan with the object of integrating developmental roads and railways with the requirements of defence, strategy. This money will be voted primarily to provide the groundwork for effective defence. That can be done by providing strategic roads and railways for the purpose of effectively deploying our forces in the event of an attack.
The honorable member for Mackellar spoke about the difficulties which atomic warfare presents. He spoke about fighting out an attack toe to toe, I presume between the old infantry battalions and the forces of an invader who may be parachuted into the country. Unless we make provision for massing strong forces at given points, and that can be done only by the provision of adequate railways and communications, we shall tackle this matter from the wrong end. I urge the Minister to give consideration to my remarks. I shall not labour the subject further except to say that as a result of the expenditure of £800,000,000 on defence during the last four and a half years, precious little has been achieved whilst, apparently, the Government gained nothing in the way of new devices to improve our defence in order to enable us to resist the new and frightening strategy that will be involved in the overcoining of an atomic attack. I trust that the few remarks that I have made will, serve as a beginning in this matter. I believe that they are worth considering. I also trust that the Minister will give to the committee at the earliest opportunity a statement setting out the Government’s defence plans for the future, and that in doing so he will indicate any new and modern concepts that have been introduced into its planning in relation to atomic warfare.
– I agree with the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) that the new circumstances require what we might call an “ agonizing reappraisal “ of our defence concept. I am myself less in agreement with some of his forecasts about the proper form of that reappraisal. We should make it clear that three things ha.ve to be done in connexion with our defence plan. That plan is directed not only to surviving in the event of an atomic disaster, but also to making an atomic disaster less likely to occur. First, we have to maintain in our hands - and I mean not only Australia’s hands, but also the hands of the free world - the power of adequate reprisal. Unless we have that power the enemy will be very much more tempted to use his own power to obliterate our cities. The most effective protection that we have for our cities is the power of reprisal. The next thing we must have is the power of survival without our cities. I point out to the committee that I look on this power not merely as a means of meeting an atomic disaster, but also as a means of making such a disaster less likely. If the enemy believes that, with the cities on both sides gone, he will win, he will be the more tempted to take the initial action and deal the first blow. But if he feels that, with the cities on both sides gone, he will lose, he will be less tempted to strike that first blow. This is of particular importance because of the position in Russia. Russia is governed by a clique which is little concerned about the happiness, the well-being or the sufferings of the Russian masses. That clique would not be deterred from atomic war by the destruction that would fall on Russian cities. Indeed, only in the last few weeks the Russian Government moved from the Kremlin, which is in the centre of Moscow, and is now decentralized many miles away. It is easy to see that the governing clique in Russia will- have no reluctance about bringing suffering on the Russian masses if its members believed that they could win the succeeding round by so doing. If, however, they feared that they would lose the succeeding round, they would be the less tempted to make the initial throw.
The power of survival is not merely important in itself. It is also important because it will lessen the chances of atomic attack on our cities. Again I remind the committee that, unhappily, atomic aggression is different from other kinds of aggression in that it does not require mass consent. It can be carried out by a cadre or similar small force. One could not envisage even Nazi Germany having been able to attack without some form of mass consent of the German people being first given; but. an atomic attack by Soviet Russia would not need mass consent. It could be carried out by a small selected fraction. In these circumstances it is most important for us to make the Communists feel that they could not win the second round, because if they feared that they could not win that round they would be less tempted to try the first round. Let me remind honorable members that there is no reasonable prospect of preventing the delivery of atomic weapons. There is no reasonable prospect of defending our cities if the Russians should determine to destroy them. What we have to do is to work on the things that will prevent the Russians from determining to destroy our cities.
I have pointed out that the first need is to keep the power of reprisal firmly in our hands. The second need is to have the power of survival should our cities be obliterated. There is, unhappily, a third need. Although we could lose an atomic war if we neglected either of the two considerations that I have mentioned, we could also lose a non-atomic war if we were not also concurrently strong in conventional armaments. I use the term “ conventional armaments “ as meaning non-atomic weapons. Conventional armaments have two functions. The first function, which is perhaps the second function chronologically, is the one to which I have already referred - the power to win in the second round. The other function is the power to survive in a nonatomic war. Australia’s position would be serious if, owing to our lack of strength in conventional armaments, a thrust which was not backed up by an atomic attack was made against us from the north, and the fear of atomic attack deterred our allies from coming to our aid. That is a very dreadful thought. It should, however, be put into the minds of honorable members and securely kept there. What would happen if, because of superior strength in conventional armaments and in man-power, a tide flowed southwards towards us and notice was served on our allies, or potential allies, that if they interfered they would lay themselves open to atomic attack on their main cities? I put it that that is the alternative method of Russian strategy. Unless we be firm against that also, we could lose on the non-atomic front as effectively as we could lose on the atomic front. So, unfortunately, we have to have three things in mind, and we have to succeed in all three, because failure in any one of them could mean the failure of all. First, we have to maintain the power of reprisal; secondly, we have to develop the power of survival in an atomic attack; and, thirdly, we have to keep up our strength in conventional armaments. Maintenance of our strength in conventional armaments would protect us if an attack of a non-atomic nature were launched against us from the north. It is difficult to reconcile these three things, but I point out that the things that are necessary for strength in conventional warfare are also, to some degree, the same things as are necessary for survival in atomic warfare. To that degree - and it is a. small, degree only, but an appreciable one - the problem is made a little easier.
One position which has to be faced is that, among the things that are necessary for survival in an atomic attack, is a disciplined force that could maintain order, maintain supplies and do rescue work. For that reason, and many others, the maintenance of the national service scheme is to be commended, and it is to be hoped that no diminution of its scope will be permitted. Those forces may be necessary in Australia itself but even if they be not needed in Australia, the fact that they are available will diminish the prospect of any atomic attack being launched on our main cities. So the Government faces a difficult problem in priorities, which I believe, is not yet being effectively met for the reason that the impact of the new method of warfare has not yet been fully appreciated by the service chiefs who advise the Ministry. Even when it is fully appreciated, although it will bring changes, it will not necessarily bring the kind of changes that were envisaged by the honorable member for Parkes. I believe that there is still a place in modern warfare for the infantryman and for conventional weapons, and that although there may be changes they will not entirely sweep away the old order. In fact, by some twist of chance, it would appear that the new weapons will finally place more emphasis on the selective weapon, the infantryman, the adaptable, flexible weapon which can operate without large bases and terrific supplies. Modern developments may mean, therefore, that we shall turn back the infantry clock ten years or perhaps more, and that we shall abandon the middle ground while moving towards the technicological ground at the one end and the mass ground at the other.
These are large matters which lack of time prevents me from discussing in detail. In addition to the problem of priorities we have the problem of scale.
I believe that the scale of the Government’s defence proposals is not adequate to the present emergency. I know that the economy is tight. I know that there is full employment. I know that it is difficult to divert resources - and, of course, when we speak of defence we speak of resources and not merely of money - and make them available for this vital defence need. Yet what do we think of the man who, told by his doctor that ho either has to enter a hospital for an operation or die, and refuses to go to hospital because he has to make a business trip, ot because his wife is giving a party? Such excuses are ridiculous, but I mention them merely to illustrate how ridiculous would be the same kind of excuse used in relation to our defence needs. We cannot put off something that is a matter of life and death merely because of the claim that it will disrupt our economy. It is a matter of life and death to increase drastically the whole scale of our defence preparations. Before World War II., I was strongly criticized for suggesting that the allocation for’ Australia’s defence preparations should be increased to £150,000,000’.
The- TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
i. - For the third successive year, the committee is considering the proposed expenditure of £200*000,000 on defence services. So far as this Government is concerned’,, that seems to be the ceiling.
Si’r Eric Harrison. - It is better than the £65,000,000 that was: provided by the Labour Government..
– To that sum of £200,000,000 will be added the sum of £12,000,000 that was unexpended during the last financial year. I suggest that honorable members should be more concerned about the value that will be obtained’ from the sum that is expended than about the actual sum itself. I suggest that it is rather difficult to obtain a proper assessment of the- position from the manner in which the Estimates for the defence services are presented. When the Estimates for the last financial year were before- the committee, I suggested that the Government should take the committee into greater confidence in relation to the proposed. expenditure of £200,000,000.. It is true that some pages of detail are. provided, but they do not give a clear picture of the manner in which it is proposed to expend that proposed sum. Recently, I referred to a document entitled Defence and Development 1950-53, which was a report of theNational Security Resources Board, which gave a more compact picture of defence expenditure for the three years ended the 30th June, 1953. It was shown that, in that period, the vast sum of £465,000,000 had been expended, and that 52 per cent, of it had been expended on pay, rations and general maintenance,, or on the day-to-day services of the forces. I do not know whether that is a correct proportion. At about the time of the last general election, the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) indicated that there would be a change in the allocation of funds for defence purposes* but, from a broad reading of the Estimates, it is difficult to ascertain, where that change has’ taken place. I think, the honorable gentleman indicated that greater emphasis would be placed, on air defence.. Of the proposed expenditure of £200,000,000. approximately £8,000,000 more is provided for the Department of Air than was provided last’ year. I doubt whether that is a very significant difference. It seems to me that no vital change has been made.
I have taken some pains to analyse the figures that are before the committee. The detailed figures in the schedules to the Estimates reveal that the proposed expenditure in relation to salary, and payments in the nature of salary, is more than £50,000’,0t)0. Also hidden away i< another item which, fs entitled “ Temporary and Casual Employees “.. It is proposed that those employees shall receive more than £16,000,000 during this financial year. In other word’s,, of a total expenditure of £20O»0’00,Q00,, the proposed, expenditure on man-power alone is approximately £66,000,000. It was suggested recently that we ought to think of. defence, in. terms, of other than, manpower, but I. suggest that, even in modern warfare,, man-power must still, play a fairly important part: I think, that the figures, to. which L ha.ve. referred indicate that that- is the. opinion of the Government. Whether the proportion, is, correct remains to be seen. The figures that are set out on page 196 of the Estimates indicate that there are approximately 24,500 permanent personnel in the Regular Army. Last year there were 28,000 such personnel. In other words, there has been a drop of 3,500 in the number of permanent personnel, but the greater part of that drop is accounted for in the group which includes lancecorporals, privates, gunners, sappers and drivers. There has been no reduction of the number of brass hats, but there has been a considerable reduction of the number of personnel in the lower ranks. I refer to those figures because they seem to indicate a rather hierarchical pattern for the Australian Army. As in any other country, there is only one chief of the general staff. There are 3 lieutenantgenerals; 11 major-generals; 22 brigadiers; 36 colonels; 205 lieutenantcolonels; 2,710 majors, captains and lieutenants; 2,229 warrant officers; 812 staff sergeants; 2,638 sergeants; 4,471 corporals; and 11,362 lance-corporals, privates, gunners, sappers and drivers. The Government proposes to expend the sum of £18,450,000 on the salaries of those personnel.
It is not possible to analyse the other categories, but I invite the committee to ask whether the country is receiving full value for the money that the Government proposes to expend. The Government points to the good round sum of £200,000,000, and it states, “We are doing a good job in relation to defence “. The pattern for this year seems to bc similar to the pattern that has been followed in former years. In terms of what might be called physical defence, of a total expenditure of £465,000,000 for the three years ended June, 1953, only £96,000,000 was applied for capital requirements such as ships, aircraft, arms and equipment. If that is the correct proportion, I suggest that the heads of the various departments should explain the items in greater detail. No one will argue that, even in this, atomic age, to which the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has referred, we can do without man-power, but the Government has made very little attempt to indicate whether it has ensured the correct dispersal of man-power, or whether the correct emphasis has been placed on the various services. Of every £5 that the Government expends £1 is expended on defence, but, during the debate on the Estimates, no responsible Minister has attempted tooutline in detail the manner in which, the department for which he is responsible proposes to expend that money. I suggest that the Estimates, in the form inwhich they are before the committee, do not indicate the value that the community will receive for the money that the Government proposes to expend. Theproposed vote for defence is the same tothe vote for the last two years, but in those years the Government was unable to expend the money that was provided.
Recently, the Minister for Defence Production (Sir Eric Harrison) put on a very good show at Laverton when the first sabre jet aircraft was brought into commission. Apparently it has taken someyears to develop those aircraft. It is very difficult to ascertain how much such items of equipment cost, and their efficacy in this year of 1954. It was a spectacularshow. It was the nearest that I have ever been to a jet aircraft. The spectacle certainly frightened me. I regarded it as being an awe-inspiring spectacle, but I do not know what it means in 1954, in terms of defence potential. The provision of money for defence purposes is a fairly heavy drain upon the resources of the Australian community. No one will deny that a country should defend itself, but a parliament should be critical of the value that is being obtained for the money that is expended, particularly on defence. It is more difficult to assess the value that is being obtained for defence expenditure than for other types of expenditure, because we are dealing with technical details. For that reason, I suggest that the Government should give a clearer outline of its proposals and what the country is really obtaining for the money it proposes to expend.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Bank Act - Balance-sheets of Commonwealth Bank, Commonwealth Trading Bank and Commonwealth Savings
Bank as at 30th June, 1954; together with Auditor-General’s reports thereon.
Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Regulations - 1954 - No. 7 (Supply of Services Ordinance).
Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of Shipping and Transport - A. Pearson.
House adjourned at 10.58 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
Will he state why, under the Repatriation Act, de facto wives of ex-servicemen may apply for the grant of war pensions, but where such applications are rejected, no appeal to the appropriate tribunal is provided as is the case with respect to the wives of ex-servicemen?
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answer to the honorable member’s question : -
This matter has received the attention of the Government and an announcement will be made at the appropriate time.
i asked the Minister acting for the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has furnished the following information : -
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
a asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: - 1 and 2. See attached schedule of export statistics.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 September 1954, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1954/19540915_reps_21_hor4/>.