21st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. HULME presented a petition from certain residents of the Pine Shire Council area in the State of Queensland praying that the proposed plan for the redistribution of the State of Queensland into electoral divisions be rejected.
Petition received and read.
– I ask the
Minister for Social Services when we may expect a new edition of the social services booklet? As he knows, the present booklet is quite out of date as regards the rates and conditions applying to the various social services. If the Government proposes to make a considerable alteration and increase of social services benefits in the forthcoming budget, I can understand the delay in publishing a new booklet; but otherwise I shall be glad to have news from him that a new edition of the booklet will be published soon.
– I am aware that the present booklet is a little out of date, and that it should be brought up to date as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there were about 16,000 copies of the booklet on hand about eight months ago. I did not think it would be correct to destroy them. I thought we should try to circulate them as quickly as we could. It has been decided to divide the new booklet into various parts, each relating to the various kinds of activities of the department. I assure the honorable member that considerable thought has been given to the matter, and that as soon as the number of booklets on hand has been substantially reduced, I shall see that a new edition is published.
– Is the Minister for the Navy yet in a position to inform the
House when the naval cadets will be transferred from the Flinders naval base to Jervis Bay?
– I have had several discussions with the Naval Board about the possibility of transferring theRoyal Australian Naval College from Flinders to Jervis Bay. Certain further investigations are being made. I am not in a position to give the honorable gentleman any definite information on the matter now.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. It is reported that the Australian Ambassador to the United States of America last weekend had certain important talks with the Secretary of State for the United States. Will the Minister indicate the nature of these talks and whether implied or actual commitments were made? If so, when will the House be given an opportunity to review any of the matters concerned in what were spoken of as important talks between this country and the United States ?
– Our Ambassador in Washington has frequent discussions with the American Secretary of State on many matters. This was one of a series of discussions. There were no particular matters discussed that involved commitments for Australia, although light was thrown on several of the matters on which we sought information, and on which we had certain attitudes of mind to put forward to the American administration. There is nothing in the confidential exchanges between the United States administration and ourselves that we should make public at this stage. With regard to a discussion of these matters of high policy, I can only say that I have not been encouraged to allow debates on these matters by reason of the experience we have had of the contribution of honorable members opposite to the last of the debates on foreign affairs.
– Can the Minister for Territories give the House any information concerning the Japanese Government’s refusal to grant clearances to
Japanese divers who were to be employed in fishing for pearl-shell in north Australian waters? Have the master pearlers in Darwin requested the Government’3 intervention on their behalf?
– This subject comes under the administration of my colleague, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, who administers the Fisheries Act. I shall refer the question to him and he will give the honorable member a reply.
– I desire to direct a question to the Postmaster-General. Can the Minister indicate the stage that has been reached in the provision of automatic telephone exchanges in Toowoomba, Queensland? The original advice received from the Minister indicated that, apart from the central exchange, two other suburban automatic exchanges would be installed. Is this plan still being adhered to, and can the Minister indicate the date on which the new work will commence? As a great deal of the preliminary work for automatic telephone facilities in Toowoomba has already been undertaken, will the Minister ensure that high priority is given to the completion of this urgent work, in keeping with the importance of Toowoomba as the second city of Queensland?
– A central automatic exchange at Toowoomba, as well as one at Middle Ridge and one at Newtown, are proposed. The drawings are prepared for the Middle Ridge exchange and tenders will be called early in 1955-56. The Newtown building will be completed in the following financial year. The Toowoomba building is a project of some magnitude and the Department of Works is engaged at the moment in preparing drawings; it is hoped that they will be in an advanced stage very shortly.
– My question is directed to you, Mr. Speaker. I should like to preface it by saying that during my absence when I was home ill and I had the misfortune to listen a good deal to the broadcast of the parliamentary proceedings, I heard a number of interjections and audible conversations which I am certain you, Mr. Speaker, did not hear, because had you done so you would have taken appropriate action. These interjections and audible conversations were most objectionable to me, and I regard myself as fairly hardened to these things. I can imagine their effect on the listening public. Is there any way in which the technicians could equip the Speaker’s chair with listening apparatus which would give you the opportunity of hearing what is being heard by the listening public outside? I have now found from listening myself that listeners outside hear much more conversation and certainly many more interjections, over the microphone, than we hear in this chamber. It would not be necessary for you to make use of the earphones all the time, but I ask whether you could use them occasionally. In addition, have you any control over the microphones at the table?
– The Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for East Sydney ought to be separated.
– The main offenders in relation to the microphones at the table are the Vice-President of the Executive Council and some of his colleagues who, it appears to me - and I have seen them in action in this chamber - sit at the table deliberately muttering into the microphones, although listeners over the air would not realize that that was so. I ask whether you could switch off the microphones at the table from your seat when a backbencher speaks.
– I have no power to switch off microphones. The mechanical control of broadcasting is with the officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department who are allotted to this House for the purpose. I certainly do not want to switch off microphones. If I did, I should be in more trouble than I am in now. I am pleased to hear the remarks of the honorable member about this matter. My correspondence reveals that it is not only the Vice-President of the Executive Council who participates, but also other members of the House who sit on my left, who participate, in private discussions across the table. Neither side of the House is exempt from blame. The remedy rests in the hands of honorable members generally. If they would comply with the standing order that requires that members shall be heard without interruption and with the standing order which provides that there shall be no conversation in the chamber, in order that those two desirable objectives might be achieved, there would be no cause for complaint about the broadcasting of proceedings.
– My question is directed to ‘the Minister for Health. In view of the conflicting, contradictory, and at times disturbing, reports that are being received from the United States of America about the production and use of the Salk poliomyelitis vaccine, will the Minister give to the House any authentic information he has about the production and use of this vaccine in the United States?
– The Australian Ambassador in Washington is continually in communication with the Government and myself about the position in the United States. The situation there has been greatly complicated because the poliomyelitis epidemic this year seems to be about twice as virulent as was the epidemic of last year. The number of cases reported each week is about twice as many as for the corresponding week of last year, but I am glad to say that none of the children who were vaccinated last year have shown any sign of developing poliomyelitis this year. About 50 or 60 children who were vaccinated this year with the Salk vaccine have developed the disease. Dr. Leonard Scheele, Surgeon-General in the United States Public Health .Service, and most other authorities are of the opinion that these cases are coincidental to, and not consequential upon, the administration of the vaccine. That opinion is supported by the fact that where a vaccinated child has developed poliomyelitis almost immediately, in some instances the father or the mother lias, and in other instances other members of the household have, developed the disease almost simul taneously. This tends to show there must have been a domestic infection. One of the difficulties for Australia is that certain vaccines which, whether rightly or wrongly, have been suspect because cases of poliomyelitis occurred following their administration, have .been for the time being withdrawn from general use. The manufacturers of those vaccines supply approximately one-quarter or one-fifth of the total amount of vaccine required for the vaccination programme in the United States this year. The result is that the American programme is lagging and a very much greater demand has been made upon the production of the firms which were to supply the vaccine to Australia initially. As a consequence, it will probably be September before we receive any supplies from the United States. I am happy to say that all the vaccines that have been manufactured up to the present time are to be re-tested by the American National Institute of Health. It is hoped that a means of eliminating any possible danger in the use of the vaccine will be found.
– In the absence of the Prime Minister, will the Treasurer be good enough to refer to Cabinet the urgent need to review the building programme envisaged by the Government, particularly in relation to the drain on manpower and. materials which are urgently required for the construction of homes schools, hospitals and other such buildings ? Will the right honorable gentleman make urgent representations to the Cabinet with the object of allocating to homes, hospitals and school buildings a priority higher than that of unnecessary Commonwealth buildings which could be placed further back in the building programme? I invite the Treasurer’s attention to the fact that Commonwealth buildings have already been erected which will satisfy the needs of the Government in a number of respects.
– I can assure the honorable member that the matter that he has raised has been and still is receiving the consideration of the Government which has a broad, embracing policy for the Australian Capital Territory and the other territories of the Commonwealth. The matter is under constant review and will be further considered in the very near future.
– Can the Minister for the Navy give me any information on the reported disposal of naval vessels which have been moored in Careening Bay and Cockburn Sound, Western Australia ?
– A number of ocean minesweepers are surplus to the requirements of the Navy and, because of developments in minesweeping, they are obsolete. All useful equipment will be taken from those vessels in order that it may be stored for future requirements. The hulls of the vessels will be disposed of through the Department of Supply. This action is only being taken because the vessels have become obsolete with the effluxion of time and recent developments in mine sweeping.
– -I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether it is a fact that the stevedoring industry inquiry has now continued for 66 days, and that the estimated cost has been £33,000? Is it a fact that each day’s hearing cost £5,000? Is it also true that the employers propose to call 50 witnesses and that the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia proposes to call a similar number? If the Minister knows these statements to be true, what action does he propose to take in order to shorten the inquiry so that the Parliament may know the true condition of affairs on the waterfront?
– If the honorable member will place his question on the notice paper I shall obtain answers to the detailed sections of it. However, on the subject of the action that is proposed, 1 can inform the House that submissions have been made to the committee by counsel instructed by the Australian Government suggesting lines of inquiry which it is hoped will shorten the time required to obtain recommendations relating to organizational aspects. Those aspects of the inquiry which require an examination of freight costs and charges and shipping profits have been proceeding for some time. Departmental officers have been making investigations, and the Government has engaged the services of a well known firm of Sydney accountants for the purpose of examining that phase of the matter. The Australian Labour party and the Australian Council of Trades Unions strongly supported the appointment of this inquiry. The Government hopes that it will do the useful job that it was set up to accomplish.
– Will the Minister for the Interior make a personal visit of inspection to the forgotten corner of the Australian Capital Territory known as Oaks Estate? Will he then.’ meet some of the residents who, although they have been neglected departmentally for years, have shown a fine spirit of selfhelp in community affairs? If he makes such a visit, will he also, on his journey to or from that suburb, make an inspection of the suburbs of Causeway and Westlake to ascertain for himself how some of the original workers in the Territory are now compelled to live?
– As recently as a month ago, I made an inspection of the whole of the Canberra area, and I came to the conclusion that both the Department of Works and the Department of the Interior had done a very good job under existing conditions. Existing conditions are not easy. If there is anything at fault which can be rectified, I shall be pleased to go around with the honorable member.
– Will the Minister for Supply state whether the Government has reached, or discussed, an agreement with Mount Isa Mines Limited as a result of which that company will erect a plant for the treatment of radio-active ores and the production of uranium oxide? If such an agreement has been made, can the Minister indicate in general terms the provisions of it? If it is only being negotiated, has he any information that he can give to the House ?
– I think I have stated on an earlier occasion that I have had a discussion with the chairman of directors of Mount Isa Mines Limited, Mr. George Fisher, in relation to the erection of a treatment plant when circumstances justified its establishment. Mr. Fisher indicated that Mount Isa Mines Limited was prepared to undertake the erection of such a plant, but that it would be necessary to ensure that there were sufficient reserves of suitable ore in the district to justify its erection so that the capital cost might be paid off during operations. That is as far as the matter lias gone, but I believe Mount Isa Mines Limited would erect such a plant if it were justified. So far, we have not sufficient geological knowledge to ensure that the erection of a plant is justified, but I am hoping that that knowledge will come to hand in the not too distant future. I wish to supplement the answer that I gave a minute or two ago to the honorable member for Kennedy. One of the complications is that, in the Mount IsaCloncurry area, there are different kinds of ores which do not lend themselves to the same kind of treatment. One hopes that, as a result of recent arrangements that have been made between Bio Tinto and Australian Oil Exploration Limited in relation to the Mary Kathleen area, a plant will be erected to treat ores from the Mary Kathleen mine. Those ores are not necessarily the same as ores in other parts of the area.
– I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether a presentation has been made to you by members of the American Air Force who are at present in this country on Operation Handclasp? If so, will you consider some form of recognition by the House of that presentation ?
– I can do that only upon the submission of a motion to the House. It is a matter for the House itself. I am a servant of the House, and I do not take the initiative in such matters.
– I ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council, as leader of the House, whether he is aware that the impending war between France and Australia will move a stage nearer to-morrow afternoon when the French rugby league football players play a team from this area? In view of the international importance of this match, has the Minister given any consideration to the desires of those people who like to witness the only game of football that is worth while?
– I have a great deal of sympathy with the honorable member in wishing to have a look at the only game of football that is worth while in Australia. However, while I subscribe entirely to that desire, the affairs of government must take precedence over the wishes of the honorable member.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Immigration been directed to a complaint against the calibre of immigrants who arrived in Sydney last week aboard an immigrant charter plane? If the Minister has investigated the situation, is he in a position to inform the House of the circumstances?
– I did make inquiries when I saw the reports regarding this matter, and I found that the circumstances of the flight contributed very considerably to the impression which was gained by some of the air officers who were dealing with the aircraft in question. In the first place, the charter flight contained some 73 passengers, which I think most honorable members with a knowledge of aircraft accommodation will agree, was loading the plane quite substantially, and of that number some 25, I think, were children under twelve years of age. A very rough flight was experienced between Singapore and Australia, and unfortunately only one steward, apparently, was available on board to look after the passengers, as the other steward had been forced to leave the plane through illness at an earlier stopping point. Under the circumstances, the facilities on the plane with such a large number on board and experiencing the conditions they ran into, were over-taxed. I think that contributed very considerably to the unhappy impression which was gained. On the other hand, our own immigration officer who met the plane reported that the examined passengers were clean and orderly. I may say that the immigrants in question had come from southern Europe - Greece, I think in particular. They had been processed, of course, by our own selection officers. Many of them came from rural districts of Greece where the standards of hygiene are not as high as those to which we are accustomed. Normally, when these immigrants come out by ship, an opportunity is provided for training in this aspect of hygiene. However, that is not always so feasible when an air flight is undertaken. We have discovered that, in other respects, immigrants of this type are very admirable and industrious people. These immigrants are the same calibre and type of Greeks as those who were such friendly and loyal allies in our time of need when our troops were stationed in Greece during the last war. We have found that they normally adapt themselves to Australian conditions once they are brought into contact with the amenities which obtain here. I would certainly regret if, as a result of a newspaper report, an impression was gained that this country was lowering its standard of immigration, and that these otherwise entirely admirable people were likely to be any other than the asset that I believe they will be to this country in the future.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation inform the House whether the approval that he recently gave for the expenditure of £200,000 for further constructional work at the Adelaide airport included provision for the erection of a new main terminal building? Have tenders been called for the construction of this building? If tenders have not been invited for that work, will the Minister speed up the matter in order to alleviate at the earliest possible moment the acute overcrowding of the present temporary accommodation for passengers at that airport ?
– The expenditure of £200,000 that I authorized the other day was for the terminal building, which will be constructed by the Department of Works. I am sure that my colleague, the Minister for Works, will keep his eye on the matter.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that, although it is now ten years since the war finished, and six years since the Liberal-Country party coalition Government was elected on a promise to remove shortages, people are still waiting unlimited times for telephones, both public and private? If this is a fact, will the Minister inform the House of the department’s intentions in an effort to relieve the shortage and provide services immediately they are required ?
– More telephones have been installed in the last five years of the Government’s life than in any preceding period of seven or ten years, but the problem is that as fast as they are installed, applications come in for new telephones. At the present time, we are installing telephones at the rate of .about 10,000 a month, but applications are coming in at the rate of 11,000 a month, so we are still behind, whatever we do.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether it is a fact that the major airlines are contemplating a further increase in fares. If this is so, will the Minister, in view of the great desirability of keeping airline fares as low as possible, call a conference of the companies concerned to consider the possibility of eliminating or cutting down some of the expensive frills, such as free transport to and from the airports, a service which is by no means generally availed of by the public, as an alternative to higher fares?
– I have had no indication from any of the major operators to suggest that they are contemplating any increase in fares. I think that they are as aware as we all are of the desirability of keeping fares low, so that as many people as possible can travel by air. I would agree with the honorable member that some of the services, particularly catering I think, are a little overdone on the Australian airlines, but at ihe same time the airlines are well aware of the necessity of keeping fares down, and we still operate at about half the cost of corresponding domestic airlines overseas. I shall keep the honorable member’s question in mind.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy: Is it a fact that a diving school has been established by the Royal Australian Navy in Sydney for the training of naval personnel in all the under-water aspects of marine war? Is it intended to establish similar schools in other centres in Australia at a later date? As the Minister is aware, some naval diving specialists have assisted in the training of civilian deep-water divers in Port Phillip Bay and this has been of considerable assistance in providing a limited number of personnel qualified to undertake commercial diving operations. Can such useful co-operation be maintained in the future?
– Yes, the Royal Australian Navy has established a school of under-water warfare in Sydney Harbour. We will continue, as in the past, to render all the help we can to similar organizations which indulge in this form of training. So far as State, municipal and like organizations needing our help are concerned, we shall continue to give it to them, as in the past, on an advisory basis. I am quite satisfied that any help towards helping to improve knowledge of this special type of warfare will be continued.
Air. MAKIN. - I direct to the Treasurer a question that arises from an urgent appeal that I have received from aged people in my electorate who are in dire distress. Will the Treasurer indicate whether the Government contemplates giving, before this sessional period ends, some relief to persons who are entirely dependent for subsistence on their pensions, by increasing the pension rate?
– The honorable gentleman has, in the past, held office sufficiently long to know how such matters are decided. The question that he has asked me concerns a. matter of definite, basic policy. Whatever the Government does, or intends to do with regard to age pensions, or any other social services benefits, will be announced in the appropriate way at the appropriate time.
– I ask the Minister for Defence, whether, when tenders for government work are accepted, preference is given to Australian firms so as to help to conserve our overseas funds. Is it a fact that, recently, a tender for 21 naval Sea Venom aircraft was given to an overseas firm despite the fact that a Sydney firm would have been able to carry out the work?
– Action in these matters depends on circumstances. Contracts of the kind to which the honorable gentleman has referred are almost all filled by public tender. One of the factors which i3 taken into consideration is whether or not a firm tendering is an Australian firm capable of delivering the required article to specifications. There is no special rule about this, but the honorable gentleman may be sure that in considering tenders, whether they come from Australia or abroad, the Australian manufacturer gets at least a “ fair go “.
– I ask the Minister for Supply whether, in view of the fact that there are no treatment plants available in Australia for the treatment of radio-active ores, except at Rum Jungle, that plant will be permitted to treat custom ore from other producers. If this cannot be arranged, will the Minister indicate where producers of those ores can market their product? I ask this question in view of the urgency of demands for uranium oxide.
– The Rum Jungle treatment plant is available to treat ores that have been won outside Rum Jungle. Indeed, at the moment, ores from other than the government mine at Rum Jungle are being treated at the Rum Jungle treatment plant. I hope that as time goes on it will be possible to erect other treatment plants. Indeed, I believe the time is arriving when treatment plants will be erected in other parts of Australia. The Government, however, has no intention of erecting treatment plants itself. The whole of its policy has been to encourage private enterprise to erect plants for the treatment of ores. As I indicated in answer to the honorable gentleman’s previous question, Mount Isa Mines Limited is showing an interest in this matter as also are other concerns and I believe that in due course other plants will be erected.
– Is the Vice-President of the Executive Council aware that there is intense public indignation at the failure of the Government to allow adequate time for discussion in this chamber of motions of urgency moved by the Opposition on important questions. I further ask the right honorable gentleman whether, in view of this indignation, and also in view of the fact that the Parliament is sitting for only a very limited time, he will in future desist from using the gag, in order to enable adequate discussion of important matters brought forward by the Opposition to take place?
– I am not aware of any indignation, but I have received quite a lot of praise for having adopted the attitude that I have, as well as commendation for curtailing a great deal of unnecessary speaking.
– In directing a question to the Minister for Air I bring to his notice the splendid record of service of outstanding gallantry and bravery of many officers of the Royal Australian Air Force who will shortly be retired, but who are nevertheless still capable of rendering superb services to the Commonwealth. Will the Minister consider delaying the date of retirement of such officers so as to afford them an opportunity to continue their work in the Department of Air, and thus assist the Commonwealth to overcome its present difficulties in respect of the recruitment of labour?
– I shall give consideration to the question.
– Will the
Minister for the Navy and the Minister for the Army say whether it is true that he intends shortly to retire voluntarily from all ministerial positions.
Question not answered.
– I lay on the table the following paper : -
Taxation - Thirty-third Report of the Commissioner of Taxation, dated the 1st June, 1954, together with statistical appendices. and move -
That the paper be printed.
As the result of proceedings in the High Court in the McGrath case, it is not desirable that copies of the report be made available to the press, or published, until the Parliament has given the necessary authorization. I have mentioned this aspect to the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon), who is the Deputy Leader of the Australian Labour party (Anti-Communist), and they have agreed not to oppose the motion in order that the reports maybe circulated as soon as possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– As Chairman, I lay on the table the following report of the Public Accounts Committee: -
Twentieth Report - Supplementary Estimates, variations under Section 37 of the Audit A”t 1901-1954 and Commonwealth Consolidated Revenue Fund, for the year 1953-54.
Ordered to be printed.
– I have received letters from the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon), who is the Deputy Leader of the AntiCommunist Labour party, proposing that definite matters of urgent public importance be submitted to the House for discussion to-day.
Standing Order 106a provides that in the event of more than one matter being submitted for the same day, priority shall be given to the matter which, in the opinion of the Speaker, is the most urgent and important.
I have considered the two matters proposed, and have accorded priority to that proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Anti-Communist Labour party, namely -
The renewed drive of the Communist party to recapture control of key trade unions following the attempted disbandment of and attacks upon Australian Labour party industrial groups.
Is the proposal supported by eight honorable members?
– I rise to order. Mr. Speaker, how can the House decide whether your action is right or not if you have not read to the House the letter which I gave you? If your decision is challenged, the House can have all the facts upon which to make a decision.
– There is no provision in the Standing Orders for such a course. I shall read the relevant standing order to the honorable gentleman. It is as follows: -
In the event of more than one matter being presented for the same day, priority shall bo (liven to the matter which in the opinion of the Speaker is the most urgent and important.
– Will you give the reason ?
– I will not.
– Then I shall move that your ruling be disagreed to.
-Order ! I have not given a ruling.
– With all due respect, M r. Speaker, you have decided this matter, and have said which of the two, in your opinion, is the one of more urgent public importance. You have ruled in favour of the honorable member for Yarra. It is that ruling to which I wish to submit a motion of dissent. Surely, if you make a decision as between two matters, you rule in favour of one and against the other. I want to move that your ruling be disagreed with, so that I can test the House on the question of whether the matter that I wish to put to the House is of more urgent public importance, despite your opinion, than the other one. Again, I submit that, as on the occasion when this matter was raised a few days ago, the .House ought to have command of its own business.
– I rise to order. It seems to me that this is a matter over which the House has no jurisdiction. The Standing Orders, which have been approved by the House, state definitely that in such a matter the Speaker shall give an opinion. Therefore, as you have given your opinion, Mr. Speaker, it is not within the province of the House to agree or disagree with it. The House could he given an opportunity to express its view on the question at issue only if Standing Order 106a were amended. As Standing Order 106a reads .now, it would be entirely wrong even to accept a motion of dissent from, not a ruling, but an expression of opinion given by you under the authority of that standing order.
– I wish to raise two points of order, Mr. Speaker, one relating to your decision that this is a matter for you, not for the House, and the other relating to your decision to read out only one of the statements of the matters of urgency. With regard to the first point, I need only quote your statement that you are the servant of the House. Therefore, although it is your opinion that has to be given, in giving that opinion, you act, as in every other matter, as the servant of the House. I submit that you should uphold the point taken by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) and permit the House to endorse or overrule your opinion.
On the second point of order, you read the last paragraph of Standing Order 106a, which was adopted on the 28th
May, 1952. You did not read the two preceding paragraphs. The first of those paragraphs states, in part -
Thu member proposing the matter shall present to the Speaker at least one hour before the time fixed for the meeting of the House a written statement of the matter proposed to be discussed; and if the Speaker determines that it is in order, he shall read it to the House.
Therefore, if the matter presented to you by the honorable member for Melbourne was in order, your obligation was to read it to the House. The fact that two matters were submitted did not relieve you of the necessity to read both, if both were in order.
– I also rise to order. As the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) said, quite rightly, Mr. Speaker, you are the servant of the House. But the House, under the Standing Orders, has given you certain powers. We have surrendered to you, for instance, the right to determine which of two matters submitted to the House for discussion is more important. The point made by the honorable member for Werriwa proves only that the House has given you power to say which of two matters submitted for discussion is, in your opinion, more important. I can understand the nervousness of the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Cil 1 well) and his supporters in relation to this issue. It is quite obvious that they do not want the matter submitted by me to be discussed in the House before a certain event occurs. Although there cannot be any doubt about the relative importance of the two matters submitted for discussion, that is a point about which I shall not argue now, because it is a matter for your opinion.
The honorable member for Werriwa said that you did not read the statement of the other matter submitted for discussion. There again, the decision rests entirely in your hands, by virtue of the fact that the House has approved the Standing Orders.
– I cannot understand why the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) raised the point that he did raise. He is a barrister and, from what I hear about him, a rapidly rising barrister. The Standing
Order to which he referred relates to a matter entirely different from the matter before the House. Under the Standing Orders, it is for you, Mr. Speaker, to say whether a matter submitted for discussion is of sufficient public importance to warrant the adoption of -the urgency procedure. The matter that we are discussing now is covered by the following words of Standing Order 106a: -
In the event of more than one matter being presented for the same day, priority shall be given to the matter which, in the opinion of the Speaker, is the most urgent and important.
You have indicated which of the two matters submitted is, in your opinion, more urgent and important. I say that your opinion cannot be challenged. There is enough case law in the legal libraries of Australia to prove conclusively that when it is mandatory for a certain person to express an opinion on a certain matter, that opinion cannot be challenged. The income tax case law is full of such examples. If the Commissioner of Taxation expresses an opinion upon a matter in respect of which the legislation provides that he shall express an opinion, his opinion cannot be challenged in any court of law. You, Mr. Speaker, have said that priority shall be given to the matter submitted for discussion which, in your opinion, is more urgent and important. That action is covered by Standing Order 106a.
– I find myself in partial agreement with the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam).
– Not that!
– Only in partial agreement. I have a. thirst for knowledge. It is a source of great consolation to me that for once I find myself in partial agreement, at any rate, with the legal luminaries. Surely there ha3 been a. sad omission on your part, Mr. Speaker. Why should I be deprived of knowledge of the substance and meaning of the matter of positive and urgent, importance submitted for discussion by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition ?
If the matter is the construction of the Buffalo Dam or’ the irrigation of the Tennessee Valley, surely that is urgent. We are not Rip Van Winkles. The honorable member for “Werriwa was quite right. 1 should be very sorry to see the day come, Mr. Speaker, when you refused to read the statement of a matter of urgent public importance submitted for discussion. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has submitted a very urgent matter indeed. I do not know how long it will take to construct this dam or irrigate this valley.
– Order ! I know nothing about any dam.
– As I see the position, we are discussing, not so much your right, Mr. Speaker, to say which of the two matters submitted for discussion you, as an individual, consider to be more important, as whether your action in making that statement can be discussed by the House. If I remember rightly, honorable members on the Government side of the House quite recently argued successfully that an action on your part must be construed as a ruling by you.
– The honorable member has got the bull by the tail.
– I may have the bull by the tail, but at least, unlike some honorable members opposite, I have got hold of some part of the bull. The arguments that have been advanced so far have been on the lines that the House, by accepting the Standing Orders, conferred upon Mr. Speaker, among other things, the sole right to determine which of two matters submitted to the House for discussion was more important. I say that you, Mr. Speaker, must determine such an issue in the first place, but I say also that any decision you make on it must be subject to the decision of the House. I agree entirely with the honorable member for Werriwa that you are the servant of the House. You have said that you have not given a ruling, but I assume you will admit that you have taken some action. Having taken that action, in order to protect yourself against anything that the House may do in respect of it, you have claimed - and obviously your claim has the support of Government members - that your action is not a ruling. If that claim be upheld, some of the rights of members of the House will be taken away from them.
– There are three points I wish to raise. First of all Mr. Speaker, the Standing Orders specifically empower you to exercise your own opinion in this matter. Secondly, the Standing Orders were passed . by. the unanimous vote of this House; and thirdly, it is curious to me that, suddenly, it should be discovered that that unanimous opinion is now at fault.
– I respectfully submit certain aspects of this matter to’ you. The powers which you exercise under the Standing Orders have been delegated to you by the authority of this House. Having given you those powers, which reside with you, this House is quite capable of withdrawing them and exercising such authority as it feels is appropriate. Therefore, I contend that there is no provision at all in the Standing Orders which denies to this House the right to review the Standing Orders, or a decision which may be given by the Chair under them. That is the first aspect of the matter. The second is that you have received communications from two honorable members in which they proposed to submit matters of urgent public importance for discussion. While it is your prerogative under the Standing Orders to determine which of those matters is of greater urgency, it seems to me that the Standing Orders place an obligation upon you, if the communication which you do not regard as having prime urgency, is in order, to read that communication to the House. That being so, I submit that you should make known to the House the communication that has been submitted by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– It was to cover the very point that has been made by the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Makin) that this Standing Order came into being. It was to prevent the wasting of the time of the House. The honorable member for Sturt knows full well that, if what he has said is correct, at any time when two matters of urgency come before the Speaker, the House, automatically would have to listen to the reading of the second motion and then take the action it thought necessary. If that were the procedure, every time two matters of urgency were submitted to the Speaker, the House would he subject to unnecessary waste of time.
The second point I wish to make is that the House has vested you with certain specific powers. I remember when Standing Order 48, which formerly dealt with this matter, was amended. The very thing now complained of was contained in Standing Order 48 which read -
In the event of more than one motion being submitted for the same day, priority shall be given to the motion which, in the opinion of the Speaker, is the most urgent and important.
That has not been varied. The Standing Orders Committee was well aware that by giving that specific instruction to the Speaker it would facilitate the business of this House. What sort of a position would you get into if, on every occasion you interpreted the Standing Orders and exercised the power which this House has given to you in this matter, you were to be challenged, as you are now being challenged? No honorable member would be prepared to accept the position of Speaker of this House if he could be subjected to that sort of treatment.
The Standing Orders Committee is representative of the members of this House. Members of that committee are permitted, to submit, by way of recommendation to this House, certain standing orders which they think will facilitate the carrying out of the business of the House. The committee came to a certain conclusion and it has given you specific power under Standing Order 106a, which has supplanted Standing Order 48. That being so, I submit that you have made your decision in accordance with the powers vested in you, and that you should not depart from that decision.
– There can be no doubt, Mr. Speaker, as to the correctness of your ruling on the Standing Orders. All fair-minded members of the House will concur in that; but the substance of the point which has been raised by members of the Opposition is that this House is master of its business. That is a point of view to which members on this side of the House also subscribe. However, the Standing Orders are laid down by the House after the adoption of the reports from those members who are appointed by the House to carry out that particular duty for it. The Standing Orders guide the House in the conduct of its business in a general way, but the House is always master of its business. If the House decided that, in regard to a particular issue it did not. desire to , have the Standing Orders strictly applied, it is within the competence of the House, if a majority of members think so. to suspend the Standing Orders to enable the particular item of business to be dealt with. Therefore, whilst I am entirely in accord with the Speaker’s ruling, which in this instance is unchallengeable, I desire to reconcile it with the principle, which we have always accepted, that this House is master of its business. The proper course for members of the Opposition to adopt in this case would have been to test the opinion of the House, if in their judgment the item that they wished to bring forward had a higher priority and was one which members of the House would accept as being of a higher priority. Their proper course would have been to move for the suspension of so much of the Standing Orders as would prevent the Deputy Leader of the Opposition from bringing his item forward.
– How could I do that when the honorable member for Yarra got the call?
– That course, I submit, is open at all times to the House as it is always master of its business.
– I think the Minister for Labour and National- Service and Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt) made the point at issue very clear. You, Mr. Speaker, have acted entirely within the jurisdiction conferred upon you by this House. I desire to comment, however, on the fact that the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has suggested that you did not act in accordance with Standing Orders. If he disagreed with your opinion, there are other ways open to him to place his views before the House. As was done last week, he could have moved, at the appropriate time, a motion of censure against your action. Mr. Speaker. But he cannot take a point of order when what you have done is entirely within the four corners of the Standing Orders. If honorable members opposite do not feel inclined to accept your point of view in this matter, there are other procedures which they can follow. However, you have acted entirely in accordance with Standing Orders and, therefore, to contest your action by raising a point of order is entirely wrong.
– The responsibility is placed upon you, Mr. Speaker, of deciding which of the two matters proposed for discussion is the more important. I understand that the matter now before the House is related to a by-election which is being held in one of the States. The other matter is of great national importance. It relates to flood relief, and affects a vast number of people.
– I rise to order.
– Order ! We are already dealing with one point of order.
– The other matter is definitely of great national importance. It affects, a vast number of people throughout Australia, and particularly the people of my electorate, because it relates to flood damage and relief, and matters pertaining thereto. I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that your decision should favour discussion of a great national issue that concerns this Parliament, and not the discussion of an issue that has arisen out of a State general election. The election in Victoria has no particular interest in this Parliament, but flood damage and relief are of great and particular interest in this chamber. I submit that you should give your decision in favour of the discussion of the matter that directly affects the welfare of the people and is of particular concern to this Parliament, which works for the benefit of the people. I ask you, sir, at least to submit your opinion to the House. The fact that, in that opinion, you are supported: by so; many members on the. Government sideof the House indicates to me that the Government is most anxious to avoid criticism for its neglect of the problem of flood damage and relief.
– Order! The honorable member may not deal with that matter when he is speaking to the point of order.
– Having explained to the House the relative importance of the two matters proposed for discussion, I leave it to the people to decide for themselves.
– I seek your help in this matter, Mr. Speaker. The last paragraph of Standing Order 106A, which you have read to the House, is as follows : -
In the event of more than one matter being presented for the same clay, priority shall be given to the matter which, in the opinion of the Speaker, is the most urgent and important.
The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) apparently challenges your opinion. I should be very much interested to hear exactly what matter could be more urgent and more important in the eyes of the honorable member than is communism. The knowledge would give me some insight into the honorable member’s thinking.- Although my opinion that your rulingis correct on both counts, and, in fact, is so correct as to be almost unchallengeable, is firm, I wonder whether, as a matter of grace, you might read the other proposal to the House to illustrate the sort of. thing that the honorable member for Melbourne considers is more urgent than is communism.
– Order! I point out that I have not given a ruling, but have merely exercised the authority given to the Speaker by Standing Order 106A, which states-
– That is -
– Order ! The honorable member should maintain silence while I am addressing the House. I remind him that- it is very seldom that’ I do address it.
I remind the House that a situation similar to this one arose on the 5th March, 1952, when matters of urgency were proposed for discussion for that day by thehonorable member for
Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). In conformity with the standing order, I accorded priority to the matter that had been submitted by the honorable member for Mackellar. The honorable member for Lalor objected to that decision, and proposed a motion of dissent. I then ruled that as I had not given a ruling, but had exercised the authority vested in the Speaker by the standing order, a motion of dissent would not be in order. A motion of dissent from that ruling was then moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), and after debate, was negatived by the House. By this action, the House confirmed the opinion that, when the Speaker determined priority under the standing order, he did not give a ruling to which objection could be taken under Standing Orders 100 and 101. I say again that while Standing Order 106a remains in its present form, the opinion of the Speaker about the matter to which priority shall be given cannot be canvassed in the House. If the House desires an alteration of the standing order, it can be made after the acceptance of a motion of which notice has been given in the usual way.
I remind the House, in addition, that Standing Order 106a was accepted unanimously by this House after the incident to which I have referred. I remind the House also that the Standing Orders, in their earlier form, provided that any ruling or decision by the Speaker on a matter such as this was open to objection. The Standing Orders under which we have been working for some years now do not refer to a decision of the Speaker. They refer only to a ruling. Every time the Speaker opens his mouth in this House he must make a decision. If I call an honorable member to address the House, I make a decision. There is only one way in which that decision may be challenged. If I inform an honorable member that his time has expired, again I make a decision. If this state of affairs is to continue, honorable members would be entitled to say that my reckoning of the time was fifteen seconds out, and we might then have a debate of half an hour’s duration about the question whether I can read the clock correctly. It stands to reason that if any House of Parliament is to function effectively, certain powers must be vested in the member who presides over it. These powers, which I exercised to-day, were given freely and unanimously and have been confirmed twice during my term as Speaker of this House. It ill becomes the House to raise objections of the sort that have now been raised. I ask whether the proposal of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) is supported by eight honorable members.
Eight honorable members having risen in support of the proposal,
– I do not wonder that the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) and his supporters do not want this motion to be discussed, because it is a very awkward one for them politically. Last evening, in the Camberwell Town Hall, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) re-echoed the catch-cries which he has used during the past few weeks, and which have been used by the members of the party that supports him during the Victorian general election campaign. The right honorable gentleman described the Australian Labour party industrial groups as having adopted Communist methods and as being, in effect, a Nazi form of tyranny which is simply attempting to replace one form of tyranny by another which is just as bad. The right honorable gentleman described members of the Australian Labour party industrial groups as Fascists and the like. That is the expressed opinion of the right honorable member for Barton, and it is the opinion also of those people who, in recent weeks, have supported him in his campaigning in the Victorian general elections.
It is significant that the Sydney Communist newspaper, the Tribune, on Wednesday, the 27th April, was able to state, owing to the right honorable member’s views, that following the recent exposure by the right honorable gentleman of the industrial groups in the ranks of the Australian Labour party, the way had been opened for the rank and file of the Labour movement to march in the greatest display of unity in their history, and that the way was now opened for the Australian Labour party and the Communists to march in unity beneath the banners of Communist policy in opposition to the Australian Labour party industrial groups. The Communist Review, the theoretical journal of the Australian: Communist party, in its issue for November, 1954, expressed a similar view by stating that by bringing the struggle against the industrial leaders into the open, the right honorable member for Barton had “ acted in the best interests of the Australian Labour party and exposed the industrial groups as the dangerous and disruptive force they are “.
There can be no doubt that in this House the right honorable member for Barton and all his supporters, particularly those who have been repeating his catch-cries in Victoria in the last few weeks, agree entirely and word for word with the publicity and policy of the Australian Communist party in relation to the industrial groups. That fact is indisputable. It is stated in black and white in the words of the Communists and in the Communist press. What has been the result of this united front between the Australian Communist party and the followers of the right honorable member for Barton in relation to the industrial groups? In every key trade union throughout Australia and in those organizations that have, in effect, completely controlled Australia’s economy, there has been renewed hope, vigour and drive by the Communists in their effort to regain the positions of control that they occupied in those unions until the Australian Labour party’ industrial groups threw them out. That renewed hope and vigour appears because to-day the Communists are campaigning in the name of the Australian Labour party in common cause with the members of that party, not only with the right honorable member for Barton, but also with every member of the party who sits behind him. That is a result of a united front that they have formed with the Australian Communist party.
What happened first in one of the key trade unions, the Amalgamated Engineer ing Union? The Australian Labour party industrial group candidate for office in that union was defeated by an Evatt candidate as a result of a campaign conducted on lines identical with those on which the right honorable member for Barton has conducted a campaign against the industrial groups, repeating word for word all the catch-cries, smears and sectarian innuendoes by which the Australian Communist party was able once more to gain control of the Commonwealth Council of the union through a stooge. That control had been lost to the Communists by the work of the Australian Labour party industrial groups.
Elections will be held in the Victorian Branch of the Australian Railways Union within a month, and the Australian Communist party has already submitted its team for that election. Its strongest claim for support against the industrial group candidates, who at present control the executive, is that its candidates are Evatt supporters. They are a bunch of Communists, but they are able to function because they are being supported by the party which is led by the right honorable member for Barton. The right honorable member for Barton, the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes), and other honorable members, who follow the right honorable member for Barton, are in the unenviable position of being banner-bearers in the Communist campaign to get rid of good, sound, trade unionists.
So it is in the federated ironworkers’” association. Who is endeavouring to hand control of the steel industry back to the Australian Communist party? Have the Communists submitted their own candidates for election in the ironworkers’ union? Of course not! They have produced stooges, who have submitted themselves for election as Evatt Labour candidates, on a unity ticket in order to hand this union back to the Communist party.
Do I need to remind the House of the position which existed prior to the time when the industrial groups threw the Communists out of key trade unions? The Communists had a strangle hold on every key industry in Australia. On the waterfront, in the iron and steel industry, through the munitions workers, in the seamen’s union where they still hare a hold, in the building industry and in the transport industry, they were able to control the economy of this country. The result was tremendous shortages and continual disruption of transport facilities, which caused people to walk to work every time Jackie Brown, the secretary of the railways union in Victoria, decided that they should do so. A hopeless state of confusion existed throughout our economy, because a few Communists could hold the whole community to ransom.
The honorable member for Melbourne and other honorable members who support the right honorable member for Barton and who make common cause with the Communists, know that that was so. They know what will happen to the Australian economy if that state of affairs returns. They know very well that the stand that they have taken in support of the right honorable member for Barton and the fact that the good name of the Australian Labour party is being used by Communists in claiming support for their candidates and to justify the smear attack that is being made on members of industrial groups in Victoria, will enable Communists to renew their control of key trade unions in an even more critical period than that which existed in 1945. They must know that this scheme was part of a planned campaign on behalf of the Communist party. As Mr. Dixon stated when writing in the Tribune in 1951-
Many Communists say that the Industrial Groups are small and that the workers will not have them on but in all recent
Union elections, the Industrial Group candidates have commanded n big support among the workers. Why this support? Because Hie Industrial Groups are the organisations of the Labor Party in the factories and unions. When we deal with the Industrial Groups we deal with the Labor Party.
In the eyes of the Communist party, and in the eyes of all sensible persons, the success of the industrial groups against the Communists was due to the fact that they were able to represent the industrial section of the Labour party. ‘Now, the people who fought the battles and faced intimidation of themselves and families, the people who knocked at doors day and night and who put their hands into their pockets in order to pay for literature and election campaigns in the unions, the Neills, the Shorts, the Lundbergs and the Sakers who made great personal sacrifices and in many cases risked their personal safety, are being fought by people who use some of the filthiest methods possible in trade union election campaigns. By whom are they being fought? By the people who should have gone down on their hands and knees to them in gratitude for the work that they did in preserving the key trade unions from control and domination by the Communist party.
– They were bosses’ stooges.
– The Neills, the Shorts, the Lundbergs and the Sakers, in the opinion of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and of the right honorable member for Barton, are only bosses’ stooges. ‘That is the view expressed in every issue of the Communist Tribune and the Guardian. Ever since the right honorable member for Barton got into trouble before the Petrov Commission and had to divert attention from the position in which he found himself, the right honorable member and his supporters have been repeating the words of the Communist press. 2sTow, as a result of the efforts of the right honorablemember for Barton, his supporters are joining in a united front. If they can win the general election in Victoria, they will be able to eliminate the industrial groups. In this election it will be the industrial group candidates, not Communist party candidates, who will be fought by the supporters of the right honorable member for Barton and it is the industrial group candidates who will’ have to bear the brunt of the trouble. The Communist Review made the following statement in its current issue: -
The decisions of the Hobart conference, which have now been endorsed by the overwhelming majority of the working class were decisions entirely in line with the slogans of May Day.
In other words, the Hobart conference and the Australian Communist partyhave expressed a common policy. That it the opinion of the Communist party. Honorable members who support the right honorable member for Barton are marching side by side with the Communist party in its attack on the industrial groups. By using the names of the honorable member for Melbourne and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) in support of a united attack, they are endeavouring to destroy people who have worked for the Australian Labour party and against communism.
Are honorable members who sit behind the Leader of the Opposition happy about having their names dragged at the heels of the right honorable member for Barton? Is the honorable member for Melbourne, who once praised the courage of the Neills, the Shorts, the Lundbergs and the Sakers, happy at having the honorable member for Hindmarsh describe these men as bosses’ stooges? Is he happy that his name is being used from one end of the railway service to the other by people who tell members to support the Communist party so that when Jackie Brown decides that people should walk to work, they will walk? If he is happy about that, let him tell the House. Let him take his stand on one side or the other.
In the short period that is now left to me, I shall deal with the smear that has been made on the names of members of the industrial groups. Everybody knows the basis of that smear. It is the smear that the Communist party has been preaching for years past, a sectarian smear. The followers of the .right honorable member for Barton are using the same technique. But the people of Australia should realize the following facts. In Victoria, which is the centre of the wicked and vile conspiracy, and in which industrial groups, allegedly controlled by an outside organization, are said to have controlled the Labour party and the trade union movement, there are SO trade unions. Industrial groups are functioning effectively in only four of them. Yet they are supposed to have been dominating every Australian Labour party branch and union in Victoria in the interest of some outside sectarian movement.
Mr. Clyde Cameron interjecting,
– If the accusations pf the right honorable member for Barton, and if the words of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), who has just interjected, are true, let me put this to the House: Under whose control were the industrial groups . in Victoria that were officially established by the Victorian federal executive of the Australian Labour party ? Who were the people who permitted those groups to subvert the Labour party from its true ends,’ and who allowed other people to dominate the party through the groups? I refer to a report of the Victorian central executive of the Australian Labour party. Who was the senior member of the committee that was charged with the organization and the control of the industrial groups? The senior member of that committee was the Honorable John Cain, Premier of Victoria. The secretary and organizer of the group was Mr. Lovegrove, who was the then secretary of the Labour party in Victoria. If the accusations that have been made by the right honorable member for Barton are true, the people who should have been charged are those with whom he is now campaigning from one end of Victoria to the other.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon), doubtless in error, referred to the honorable member for Lawson as sitting behind the right honorable member for Barton, and as supporting the right honorable member and communism. It is obvious that I do not sit behind the right honorable member for Barton. I do not support him, and I do not support communism.
.- I thought that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) would be the next speaker, because, if there is a united, front anywhere, it is the united front that exists between supporters of the Government and their new allies on the cross-benches on this side of the House. I thought that the right honorable gentleman would have the honour of seconding the motion that was submitted by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) instead of leaving him high and dry.
Mi-. SPEAKER-Order! There is no motion before the Chair, and no seconder is needed.
– I wish the word “ seconding “ to be interpreted as meaning supporting. Although the honorable member tor Yarra has protested about the use of smear tactics and all the rest of it, he has indulged in a great deal of smearing. He has stated that the Australian Labour party has a united front with the Communist party, and that it has a non-aggression pact with the Communist party. Moreover, he has stated that 1 make common cause with the Communist party. All of those statements are completely wrong and, so far as they refer to me, they are nothing less than foul assertions that I resent very greatly. I fought communism long before industrial groups were established, and long before many of the professional antiCommunists, particularly on the opposite side of the chamber, started to fight communism. I helped Short during the war period when he was a Trotsky-ite. I have helped such people by providing money out of my own pocket. I am still helping people in the trades union movement who are fighting communism, and I shall continue to do so. I regard any statement that members of the industrial groups who are fighting communism are bosses’ stooges as being stupid. They are nothing of the kind.
Honorable members interjecting,
– 1 do not care whether it was the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) who said it or not. I know the story about the industrial groups, and I know that the decision of the federal conference of the Labour party that was held in Hobart has been grossly misrepresented. The Hobart conference issued the following statement : -
Conference endorses the decision of the Federal Executive in removing political recognition of Industrial Groups in Victoria in the belief that such recognition has materially assisted in group organization entering fields other than those intended by their founders. It is emphasised that this decision of the Executive does not disband Industrial Groups. No authority is possessed by the Executive to so disband them.
Wo are oF the opinion that any form of industrial organization designed to combat Communist activity in the Unions should be a matter for the sole determination of the members of the Union concerned.
Conference re-affirms its complete opposition to Communism and all forms of totalitarianism and emphasises that only a strong united Labor Movement can prevent the growth of these evils.
– Where is the Labour party’s strength 1
– The strength of the Australian Labour party is in the innate common sense of the working class of Australia, who see through the manoeuvres of people who think it is politically profitable to exploit communism on every possible occasion. The honorable member for Yarra has submitted a case that was based on certain decisions that have been made, but I hope that the Communists are defeated every time they contest elections in the trades unions. I hope that every “ fellow traveller “ will be defeated too. I want to see the trades union movement only under the control of members of the Labour party and members of the Labour party alone. I do not want to see it under the control of members of the Liberal party, “ fellow travellers “, or of Communists. If anybody needs to worry about the activities of communism at the present time - I hope to refer to them at a later stage - it is the members of the Australian Country party, because their ranks are being deeply infiltrated. I shall prove that statement. One of their chief representatives on a Communist party platform recently was Mr. H. Nock, who was once a member and a Minister in this House. I shall quote from the Melbourne Communist paper the Guardian in support of that statement.
The attacks that have been made upon the right honorable member for Barton in relation to an argument that has occurred between him and those honorable members who have left the Labour party only since the Petrov inquiry, lose a lot of their weight and influence when it is remembered that it was the right honorable gentleman who, as AttorneyGeneral in the Chifley Government, brought down special legislation in June, 1947, to protect the Woomera long-range weapons testing establishment against a threatened boycott by the Communist party. The measure that was introduced was not meant to be ignored, because it provided a penalty of £5,000 or twelve months’ imprisonment, or both, for sabotage of the kind that the bill was designed, to prevent. Moreover, the Leader of the Opposition, in a pamphlet entitled Hands Off the Nation’s Defence, made the following statement: -
Although the attempt has temporarily fizzled out, it constituted a very ugly incident and it has undoubtedly opened many eyes to the menace to Australia’s defence interests involved in a facile acceptance of proposals put forward by members of the Communist party.
It was the right honorable gentleman who, again as Attorney-General in the Chifley Government, brought down legislation to smash the Communist party conspiracy of July, 1949. The legislation was of Draconian severity. Paradoxically, many people who supported the Labour party in smashing that conspiracy voted it out of office later. Supporters of the Government, who at that time sat in Opposition, attacked the Labour Government for using the Army and Navy on that occasion, and stated that it should not have done so. But they stated that it should have used “ scab “ labour on the waterfront to smash trade unionism. When the Labour party was in office, the right honorable member for Barton, as Attorney-General, successfully prosecuted leading Communists under the Crimes Act for subversive activities. Any differences that the Labour party has had with Government supporters, or with those honorable members who recently left the Labour party, have been in relation to the methods that ought to be employed to defeat communism. It cannot be stated by anybody that there is one Communist sympathizer in the ranks of the Federal Parliamentary Labour party to-day, and the McCarthy-like smears that are being uttered-
– The Communists do not believe the honorable member.
– The honorable member for Yarra interjects that the Communists do not believe me, but I could not care less. The honorable member for Yarra did not always take such notice of the Communists, nor did he take as much notice of the Liberal party then as he is doing now. On the 19th March, 1953, when he was speaking in this House on the motion for the second reading of the Supply Bill (No. 1) 1953-54, he said - as reported in Ilansard, volume 221, at page 1435 -
Honorable members opposite can take whatever credit they like for the legislation that was sponsored by this Government, but the fact remains that, when they claim credit for that legislation, they are admitting that it was the Australian Labour party which threw the Communists out of the trade unions. Therefore, if they attempt to carry on the campaign that they have carried on previously, . . . they will do so knowing full well that they are not .telling the truth when they attempt to link the Labour party with communism, and knowing full well that the victory over communism has been won by the efforts of the Labour party.
The honorable member says “ If the Communists come along and assist, we will have a united front with the Labour party”. We told the Communists that we did not want their help. We want no united front with the Liberals or the members of the Australian Country party. We fight all the enemies of the people, whether they be the reactionaries on the right or the Communists on the left. If honorable members opposite want a test of our sincerity in regard to our attitude to communism, they will find it at next Saturday’s State election in Victoria, when the Labour party is putting every Communist candidate last in its order of preference. That does not indicate a favouritism for communism. I wish to refer to a pamphlet that was issued in New South Wales in 1940.
-Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, has charged the Government with giving some particular support to honorable members who sit in the corner, and from whom this motion has come. I am prepared to listen to what each of these Labour groups says about the other, because to-day we have witnessed another somewhat unedifying demonstration of the hopeless division that has riven the Labour party into a series of irreconcilable gulfs and has irremedially divided this political force. The honorable member for Melbourne, and those who sit behind him and the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), describe the gentlemen from the corner as a bogus Labour party. The gentlemen in the corner describe the right honorable member for Barton, the honorable member for Melbourne and their colleagues as a bogus Labour party. So far as I am concerned, in the sense that these rival groups claim to speak for working men and women in this country, they are both bogus Labour parties, and are rightly regarded as such by the people of Australia at this stage, in that they both claim that they are fighting against the growth of Communist influence in this country.
I turn my thoughts now to why the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) has seen fit to move a motion against a party which has shown itself determined to resist known Communist influence inside the trade unions. Those who came into this Parliament on the Labour side before 1949 - and that excludes most of the gentlemen from the corner - know the unenviable record of communism up to 1949. After eight years of Labour rule here in Canberra, communism had reached the zenith of its power and influence in this country, and the Labour party which had the opportunity during those years by legislation, by administration, and by influence inside the Labour movement, to check the influence of communism, not only did so little about it that we reached that result, but also has since found it politically profitable to ally itself, in a manner which has been described to us, with the so-called leftwing and militant elements inside the trade union movement. It is well that the people of Australia should recall the situation in which this country found itself at the time when Labour was thrown out of office. The Communists were in control of what was virtually the key industrial union of this country. Do we want a return to the conditions of 1946. when we had in New South Wales a black Christmas, when, transport and the economy had been virtually paralysed, by the activities of Communist-controlled miners, waterfront workers, seamen, ironworkers and other sections of industry at that time? Do we want a return to the situation in 1949 when Communist activities on the coal-fields led to a complete cessation of coal production? There artother illustrations. There were the Victorian transport strikes in 1949, when Communists in control of the tramways and railways disrupted the transport services of our country.
I am happy to pay my own tribute to the job which the Australian Labour party groups were doing inside the industrial movement to check this Communist influence. It took a lot of courage and a lot of energy to combat the Communist tactics, such as ballot rigging and the rest, which we have come to associate with communism inside this country. They had the courage to resist them. One of the charges which the right honorable member for Barton and some of those who sit behind him in this House will have to face in the record of history is that in a most wicked and unwarranted fashion they engaged upon a smear campaign directed against the people who comprise these groups, alleging against them that they were purely the product of some sinister sectarian influence. Those of us who know the groups .at first hand are aware that they have been made up pf men and women of all political and religious faiths. Quite recently, a statement was made by six permanent trade union officials, all of whom were members of the industrial group movement, and all of whom described themselves as members of the Protestant faith, who took part in this fight against Communist influence not because of a sectarian line-up. They were united with fellow Australians, irrespective of their politics and irrespective of their religious faiths. They were prepared to join together in the fight against Communist influence. Mr. Short, whose stubborn, dogged, and courageous stand against Communist control of the ironworkers union is well known by all loyal Australians - he, himself, is a man of Protestant faith - goes on record as saying that in his own union in New South Wales, which ha.« 16,000 members, in an election on an industrial group ticket, five of the six officials of that particular union in New South Wales are Protestants. I take no pleasure in reciting these facts. I say that it has been one of the most wicked actions of a man so much in the public life of this country as the right honorable member for Barton - and associated with him in that charge have been many of those whom he is happy to drag along with him in this smear campaign - to attack these groups on what has been a purely sectarian charge. As a result of the combination of the activity of men of that type inside the trade unions - and that is very important in this connexion - in association with legislation passed by this Parliament, which provided a secret ballot giving the rank and file control, backed in a democratic way, of the members of the trade unions, during our term of office we have imposed a considerable check on Communist influence. Although we were attacked when we introduced that legislation, the fact is that since 1951, when our legislation became law, no fewer than 90 applications have been made by trade unions in this country for secret ballots under the provisions of the legislation. At the time when we brought the measure forward, as honorable members will recall, we were bitterly attacked by honorable members opposite and, in particular, by the right honorable member for Barton. We were told that we were out to smash the trade unions. Instead of opposing the measure, the trade unions welcomed the opportunity we gave them to resume democratic control. In a similar period of four years, there were only twelve applications under the legislation which bad been passed previously by a Labour government. Earlier, in 1952 for example, those whom it is politically profitable for honorable members opposite to attack to-day in the industrial groups, were the white-headed boys. They were the answer to the legislation that we were bringing forward. This was Labour’s not 30 secret weapon in the fight against communism. The Leader of the Opposition, in March, 1952, addressing an Australian Labour party industrial group conference, 3aid -
A vindication of what has been done by the Labour Movement in the industrial field is now apparent to all. It is part and parcel of democratic labour policy, opposed to totalitarianism of the Left as much as of totalitarianism of the Right. The efforts of the A.L.P. Groups to combat communism, and its extremists who have attempted to dominate the trade unions have been completely justified by events.
That was the right honorable gentleman’s attitude, when it was politically profitable to have the groups on side in 1952, but now that it is politically profitable to have the support of Communistinfluenced unions and left-wing trad, union officials representative of them, hehas as his purpose the liquidation of this, the one effective element inside the Australian Labour movement which was making an attack against Communist influence. The people of Australia have had demonstrated, only too clearly for them, that it is hopeless to look to a Labour movement which must rely so heavily upon the support, financial and organizational, of affiliated unions which themselves are infiltrated with communism. If we are to have communism successfully combated in this country, there is only one element in Australia to-day which is capable of carrying on that fight effectively. The members of the Parliament who sit behind the Government on this side of the House, by their legislation, their administration, and their influence throughout the country, will do energetically what they can to carry out the purpose which Labour has po signally failed to achieve.
.- I feel very sorry indeed for the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), for I foresee the fate that is about to befall him. In his anxiety to make some sort of a specious case, in his eagerness to put a construction on the decision of the Hobart conference of the Australian Labour party, and in his anxiety to convince you, Mr. Speaker, that he has been an anti-Communist for all time, he has the audacity and the effrontery to term an utterance of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) as “ stupid “. Ah, woe is the day ! Fancy fighting one of the Boss Crokers of the Labour movement! Next he will be seeking out the senator, or the federal president of the party, that illustrious non-unionist. Oh, shameful thing ! And. believe me, this edifice, this common front, this united front, is so obvious that it is kindergarten-like in its simplicity, ft is only the blind who will not see.
Mr. Clyde Cameron interjecting,
– The honorable member has been termed “ stupid “ by his deputy leader. It is disgraceful. He should keep quiet. I am going to point to something else quite seriously. The Communist party has arisen like a phoenix from the ashes. The common front is boasted by Sharkey - “ We march forward together, the united working class “. What a sorry day for the decent members of the Labour party! And, do not forget, in the juggling and juxtaposition of positions, in the struggle for place and pelf and power and privilege, already the sword of Damocles is over the head of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Ah !
– Ah !
– Ah, we do not like it, but there is so much juggling for position that the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Lemmon) has cast a covetous eye on the constituency of one of his colleagues; he wants to get to safety. It 13 all very well for him to go to Victoria and shriek about a sinister influence, when he is scuttling for safety and simultaneously preparing to knife one of the very men who sit with him. And the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), advised no doubt by his coathanger, Burton, his man Friday, is about to migrate into Cunningham. Yet the honorable member for Melbourne says that there is no common front with the Communist party. Can any one tell me where the innermost sympathies of the honorable member for Hindmarsh lie? Ah, see his emotional stress! Bad enough to be called “ stupid “ ; he is now on the hot plate.
– A circus!
– “A circus”, my friend the rural man says. I wonder whether he is telling his wheat-growers about his antipathy to industrial groups. I wonder whether he is telling the electors of Hume why he hates industrial groups. 1 wonder whether he is telling the electors of Hume of his adulation for the modern prophet, the new mad mullah, the right honorable member for Barton.
Mr. Whitlam interjecting,
– Ah, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) ; I have brought him in. He has now joined the common front; that is his natural habitat. But I remember the time when he made a positive, official approach to the Liberal party that it should take him to its bosom and clasp him in its fold.
– That is a lie.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member for Werriwa to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the remark, but I rise to a point of order.
– Order! No point of order is involved.
– It follows as night follows day. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) has produced irrefutable evidence. Those who sit behind the right honorable member for Barton cannot knock it over. Willynilly, they have the old man of the sea on their backs. In the Victorian election the Communist party is voting with the Evatts. For our part, we consider it a certificate of good citizenship to be apart from that company. It was a tragedy for Australia, but a triumph for the Liberal party, when the Labour party accepted a donation of £13,000. It was a tragedy for Australia, but deep down in their heart of hearts all these people, with the exception of one who has been termed “ stupid “ by his own Deputy Leader, are united in the proposition that it was the worst day ever for Labour when the right honorable member for Barton joined them as their leader. My son and my daughter, night after night, without hope, or fear, or reward, have gone out in fair weather, and in foul, come rack, come ruin, working for the industrial groups, while the “ commo “ stooges behind the right honorable member for Barton were preparing to betray this country and deliver up the citadel of Labour that our ancestors built over the decades.
– You will never wake up; your brains are microscopic. The ordinary person in the street can see this. It is a tragedy for Australia, and the electors of Victoria will be doing a great service to this community if they reject the common front, elect true Labour men, do something for our children and the generations that come after us, and record votes on Saturday next which will be for the glory of the Labour movement and the advancement of our race.
– I do not know whether the honorable gentleman has concluded his speech, but if he proposes to go on, he must deal with the matter before the House.
– I have concluded it, fr. Speaker.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. In view of a remark made by the honorable member for Gellibrand, I wish to state that I have never approached the Liberal party, any of its members, or any of its officials, to be embraced to its bosom or any other part of its person or its body. Furthermore, I have never approached any of the forerunners or forebears of the Liberal party, directly or indirectly, for membership, nor have I ever done what the honorable gentleman has clone, namely, formed a pact with the Liberal party or any of its members.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) need not go very far to find his answer. He did make an approach to the Liberal party for membership before his entry to Parliament. It is common knowledge around Parliament House, and my authority for it is the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who is now sitting at the table.
– I, too, desire to make a personal explanation.
– Order ! Before the honorable gentleman makes his personal explanation I must ask the House to come to order. If honorable gentlemen wish to discuss one another’s motives and activities they should do so without levity, and with complete seriousness and due decorum.
– Continuing with my personal explanation, I wish to say that I am astonished that the honorable member for Gellibrand should make such an asseveration as he has made.
– The honorable member told me the same thing, anyway.
– I know nothing of the statement that the honorable gentleman has made, and I am both stunned and astounded that he should make it in this House. I shall make investigations into the sources of his information in respect of myself and I shall do something later, if it is necessary.
– I now call the honorable member for Parkes to begin his speech.
.- The matter submitted by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) is designed, of course, to give him his usual electioneering ten minutes which he has stolen from this House on every occasion on which it has met since the writs were issued for the Victorian election. He. and the honorable members who sit with him in the corner group, rise in this chamber and demonstrate more clearly than anybody else could demonstrate why they are no longer in the Labour party, why we no longer require them, why their cowardice, their lying and their smearing
-Order! I simply cannot allow the honorable member to proceed to accuse honorable members of this House of cowardice and lying. He is an old member of this House, and I think that he knows perfectly well that it is against the rules for him to do so. He must withdraw the terms that he has used.
– I withdraw them, and I continue by saying, in more moderate terms, that honorable members of the corner party are at the end of their political tether. They are only publicists for the Barry group in Victoria, and when that group is destroyed next Saturday, those honorable members will cease to exist as a useful unit of this
Parliament. It is a tragedy to see the kiss of death administered to them, .and accepted. A3 far as the future of the members of the corner group is concerned, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) gave them his benediction. They may come, in due course, into the Liberal party, because their attitude to the matter under discussion is exactly the same as that of the Liberal party.
Mr. W. M. Bourke interjecting.
– I shall deal with the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke) in a minute. It is very difficult to traverse, in the space of about ten minutes, the whole of the arguments for and against the industrial groups. One reason we do not like those who still support the industrial groups is their own personal conduct. The honorable member for Fawkner has seen fit to interject. Is it not only recently that he was castigated by the Melbourne Argus for peddling caucus secrets around the door of its editorial offices, and being spurned for his pains? Is it not in so many words in the Melbourne press that he attempted to sell the secrets of our caucus in order to gain front-page prominence? Is not that true, and can he deny it? Is it not also true that the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) peddled his wares to other newspapers, which were more agreeable and accepted them?
– I rise to order.
– Does the honorable gentleman wish to make a personal explanation ?
– I should like the honorable member for Parkes to stick to the truth, at least for the short period of his speech.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman has not raised a point of order.
– I repeat those two statements. In the first instance, the honorable member for Fawkner is alleged - and I know it to be a fact - to have gone to the Argus and offered it certain things. Why, otherwise, would he be headlined throughout the nation’s press, particularly on election issues and Senate issues ? Honorable members on the other side of the chamber are not so naive as to think there is not a reason for it. The same thing applies to the honorable member for Yarra. Because the professional politics of the corner group is to smear, its members must be prepared to take it back.
When we are considering the industrial groups, it is necessary for us to look at the fascist background that developed behind them. Having done so, one understands why not only the Labour party, but also Labour people in this community, have repudiated them. As far back as the 3rd June, 1939, one, Santamaria, lined himself up on the side of Mussolini and Hitler by having great anti-war demonstrations in Melbourne at which resolutions were passed. That was only three months before the bombs fell on Coventry. At the same time, the Communists were saying, “We do not want another war. It is an imperialists’ war “. In order to understand why the Labour party had dissociated itself from the industrial groups, it is only necessary to examine the history of those who are still behind the groups. Much is made by the Minister for Labour and National Service of the martyrdom of one, Short. During the war he was a Trotskyite, a man of the Fourth International, who said that all wars were imperialist conspiracies. In existence in Sydney to-day are dodgers which were circulated at the time, in which he said that the ironworkers must not repair American ships “ because we do not believe in- imperialistic wars “. Is that the sort of person we want to be -associated with the Labour party? Do we want such persons just because they have had an eleventh hour repentence, and are now anti-Communist ?
Is it not obvious that the sweep has gone from communism to a temporary resting place with the industrial groups, and eventually to the camp of the Fascists? There is 110 mystery about why the genuine Labour party led by the right honorable member for Barton has denounced this insidious thing which destroys its own leaders. Immediately a man within a group shows some signs of organization, his immediate follower destroys him. There is no doubt about
That. Communism is used by the honorable member for Yarra, the. honorable member for Gellibrand - usually a much more gentle soul - and the honorable member for Fawkner, whose, former habitat was among the hoo-ha birds of the Australian Country party, but who ‘has found, some other nest. Usually, there is a cuckoo in the nest. The Australian Country party does not want him over there but. might like to have him in the future if they require him to make up their numbers.
The three honorable members in the corner group whom I have mentioned all have a record, of smear. They line up people who disagree with them, and call them Communists. The honorable member for Yarra has made a life’s work of Attacking everybody who does not think as he does, and saying they are Communists. They used the groups to carry out their policy. I have no doubt about the antagonism to communism of the honorable member for Yarra and his fellow members, but I take exception to his methods both inside and outside the party. His methods are utterly detestable. They out-Communist the Communists. In essence, they are fascist, and that is why I abhor them, and why Labour abhors them. Communism has been used by him like a witch on a broomstick. For what reason? Merely in order to influence the coming election in Victoria. The honorable member for Gellibrand, who is not so subtle as his deputy leader pro tern, said, “I ask you to vote next Saturday for the Barry group “. He was addressing the electors of Victoria, and he was called to order by Mr. Speaker. That indicates how meretricious and how paltry is this campaign. I should have thought that the honorable members would have brought something fresh forward. The tortuous workings out of the struggle within the Labour party have clearly demonstrated why we have rejected the fascist approach to the problems of democracy. As the Labour party has declared its detestation of communism it has, by implication, also declared its detestation of the fascist principles upon which the corner group works. We would have welcomed even one constructive word from that corner on the matters before us, but “willy nilly “: - to coin a phrase from the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mullens) - or “hurly burly”, or however you describe it, they have come bumbling into this House, not to attack what should be their natural enemies, but the party that has thrown them out because of their sins of omission and, commission in regard to Labour policy. They have done this in the hope that they can hang on to the skirts of the industrial groups. Their deputy leader has tried to suggest that the industrial groups have swept aside the Communists and that, by implication, theirs is the only official Labour party. In fact, they are gradually being denied official recognition by the Labour party. If they have any guts - any vitality or sincerity for anything but slandering their opponents in the unions - they could still do a job for Labour. Surely the imprimatur of Labour is not alone in what they claim to be their full strength. They can still go into the unions and do a job if they want to, but they know that they have become diseased and that within the industrial unions there is a cancerous growth. They know that they are at war with themselves and have been taken over by ambitious- men who want big jobs in politics and the leadership of the Labour party. These men have no thought for the battle which they joined in the early days against the Communist party. There is not a Labour member in this House who would not concede that in the early days, when Mr. Cain was the Premier of Victoria, the objectives of the people associated with the formation of the industrial groups were not good, and that up to a certain point they were not also effective.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. When I concluded my previous personal explanation, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who sits at the table, made a statement relative to it, and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) interjected by reasserting the statement about my joining the Liberal party that had previously been made by the honorable member for
Gellibrand (Mr. Mullens). It is an. interjection which was made a fortnight ago by the honorable member for Yarra, and ordinarily I would have ignored it in the circumstances. To put the matter completely straight, I must confess that last week I got a letter from the Liberal party, but I have never written to it, nor, as far as I know, or believe, has any one ever written to it on my behalf. I received a letter last week from the Queensland branch of the Liberal party of Australia, which reads - Dear Mr. Whitlam,
Knowing of your intelligent interest in political matters. 1. am taking this opportunity ro bring to your notice a political school which the Young Liberals’ Movement is conducting in June.
– That is right. You used to be with them.
– I would, be quite happy to attend the school, as I would if any party in this House issued such an invitation. I take the opportunity of pointing out that I already have engagements for that date.
– I also rise to make a personal explanation. It is true that when an earlier personal explanation was being made by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), I made an interjection. If the honorable member for Werriwa has regard for his reputation he will agree that last year I approached him and asked him if there were any truth in a statement that he had applied for membership of the Liberal party. He will agree that I made that inquiry from him. My information does not come from the letter that he has just read. A similar letter was, I think, sent to every member of this Parliament. It comes from events which, rightly or wrongly, were pointed out to me, as honorable members sitting here know, by the honorable member for Parkes. If the honorable member for Parkes, for his own reasons, decided to make those statements about the honorable member for Werriwa, that is his business and that of the honorable member for Werriwa. All I can say is that my statements in the matter, as far as I know, are perfectly true, and I am simply quoting the authority that the honorable member for
Werriwa accepts - the honorable member for Parkes.
– I again rise to make a personal explanation. It is true that during the last sessional period, when I was sitting behind the honorable member for Yarra, and we were still speaking to each other, he told me of this allegation, and I said that it was not true. He did not say where it had come from. He seemed to accept my statement that it was not true and the first time that he has mentioned the honorable member for Parkes in the matter has been to-day. It is true that he said it. It is true that I denied it, and from his conduct at that time I took it that he accepted my denial.
.- After hearing so much personal explanation, it is a change to get on with the motion. I agree with you very sincerely, Mr. Speaker, that this matter is more important than any other that could possibly be brought before Parliament at this time. The motion deals with -
The renewed drive of the Communist party to re-capture control of key trade unions following the attempted disbandment of and attacks upon A.L.P. Industrial groups.
The success or otherwise of communism in this country, as compared with normal democracy, is simply a matter of survival. If, in twenty or 50 years’ time, Australia is still a country characterized by a free democracy, and a prosperous and advancing economy, it will be because the forces of communism have been defeated both within the unions, and abroad by diplomacy - possibly by force of arms. Therefore, it struck me as especially unfortunate that the Australian Labour party - the Evatt Labour party or whatever its members call themselves - did not see fit to make a serious attempt to answer the grave charges of the Anti-Communist Labour forces. It is all very well for honorable members like the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), and others, to blackguard members of the AntiCommunist Labour party.
– I rise to order. I object to the word “ blackguard “ and ask that it be withdrawn.
– I think that the honorable gentleman’s good sense will prompt him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it. Whenever speakers attack communism the reply is a personal attack. That happened when the honorable member for Parkes and the honorable member for Melbourne were speaking. Any one, be it the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), or the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon), who attacks communism, is subjected to the same treatment. In the minds of many people such treatment is becoming a distinction and a badge of honour. By it one learns those who are opposed to communism and those who are not. What a sorry spectacle the Evatt Labour party has presented in this debate. It had only two speakers. The honorable member for Melbourne, who, in the absence of his leader, must speak, was one; and the honorable member for Parkes, who is, of course, a member of the executive of the Australian Labour party, was the other. I should like this debate to go on for several hours. I should like to hear some of those who sit behind these gentlemen testify what they think about the disbandment of the industrial groups. I would like to hear the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Russell), the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller), the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) and the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins). Where do they stand on this matter?
– Where does the honorable member for Hunter stand?
– I think he stands in the right quarter. There has never been a. time when one man has so successfully dragged his followers into a course of action of which we know they do not approve. The honorable member for Melbourne seemed to take the point of view that he was opposed to industrial groups. He claimed that the Labour party, quite without assistance from the industrial groups, was capable of defeating communism; but what is the history of the matter? Have they ever, in their years of power, proved capable of halting the advance of communism in this country? How many unions were in tb* hands of the Communist party when those who now sit opposite ruled this country? We know the situation. At that time, communism held this country by the throat. It is on the march again. Already the Communists have the waterfront so tied up that this country is literally threatened with ruin, and well we all know it. Communism on the waterfront is one of the greatest single causes of inflation and high prices in Australia. If trouble on the waterfront continues and if costs on the waterfront continue to rise, we shall cost ourselves out of our export markets.
There is only one effective way in which communism has ever been fought in this country. It is by the industrial groups in the trade unions taking advantage of the legislation which this Government has provided for them. This attack on the industrial groups is amazing to me. What harm have they done? We know that the activities of the groups have greatly increased the numerical strength of the unions and the Australian Labour party, because as the strength of the groups increased, many decent nonCommunists felt that they could again affiliate themselves with their unions. The groups did no harm to the Labour party. Their one crime was that they were successful in combating communism. I am not one who blackguards people or lightly uses the word “ Communist “. But we cannot escape from the conclusion that in the whole course of his political career, the right honorable gentleman who leads those who sit opposite has favoured, supported and succoured Communists and communism wherever they have been been found.. He has defended Communists in the courts.
– Strong words !
– I have some stronger words. He has defended them in the courts. He has championed their cause abroad. He has opposed any effective opposition to their march, militarily or in any other way, in this country and in the countries of our allies. He has employed them on his staff. He has appeared for them before a royal commission.
There is nothing that he possibly could have done to assist them that he has not done. I ask honorable members opposite how much longer they are going to put up with that. The one force which stood against the Communists was the industrial groups, but it is that movement which those who sit opposite, at the behest of their leader, now quite calmly propose to destroy. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) said something about strong words.
– I wish to raise a point of order similar to one raised by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) recently. On that occasion, the honorable member for Henty took a point of order because the taint of communism was imputed to an employee. I take the point now that the taint of communism has been imputed wrongly by the honorable gentleman to the members of the staff of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt).
– No point of order is involved.
– There is no justice for those people either.
– Order !
– Something was said about strong words. This is where I propose to use them. This country will survive, if it does survive, only in defiance of communism. It is threatened, within and without, only by communism. I say that communism is treason, that a Communist is a traitor, and that a person who associates with Communists or who aids or succours a Communist is in the same position as a person who aids or succours a traitor to his country. I call such a person a traitor also. The honorable member for Parkes and those who sit behind him complain of the term “ Communist “ being applied to them. Let them beware. Pretty soon harder words will be used, deservedly so.
I went yesterday to the University of Melbourne, where the traitor Lockwood, at the invitation of the Australian Labour party - or, I should say, at the invitation of the Evatt-Cain group of the party - was addressing the students of the university. He handed out a particularly untruthful and unpleasant little pieceof propaganda, attacking our friends in the corner, the members of the antiCommunist Labour party, and their supporters in the State sphere in Victoria. It is quite idle to deny that the Labour party led by the right honorable member for Barton is at the moment hostile to the industrial groups and that it has done all that it can do to smash their power. As their power is smashed, so the power of communism advances. I believe most sincerely that we have reached a stage in the history of this country when the Communists are making a new assault on the trade unions. If the Communists are not checked, undoubtedly we shall see in this country the same kind of industrial chaos, loss and misery as we saw in the years before this Government came into power.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– The reason why the Australian Labour party–
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That the business of the day be called on.
The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . 18
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 18th May (vide page 847), on motion by Sir A rthur Fadden -
That the bill be now reada second time.
– That procedure will be adopted.
– The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) has asked for Supply for the first four months of the financial years 1955-56. In addition, he has introduced a bill to provide for new works and services. The first bill authorizes the payment out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of money necessary to carry on the services of the Government. The other bills cover supplementary estimates of expenditure for the year 1953-54, additions and new works involving capital expenditure during the year 1954-55, the payment of additional funds out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for that year, and additional estimates of expenditure for the year ending the 30th June, 1955, or in other words, Supplementary Estimates for this year.
I direct your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to the fact that no Minister is present in the chamber. I observe that the Minister for Social Services (Mr. McMahon) is now entering the chamber. As the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) introduced these bills, he should be present during their discussion. I know that the right honorable gentleman is a very busy man in his capacity as acting Prime Minister, but he should pay members of the Opposition the compliment of listening to their views, just as they paid him the compliment of listening to his views when he introduced the measures.
These measures are presented at this time each year in order to make sure that the government of the day is able to meet all its commitments for the financial year ended the 30th June, 1954, as well as such other commitments as it could reasonably foresee for the year ending the 30th June, 1955, and for the requirements of the Government in respect of both revenue and capital expenditure for the first four months of the financial year 1955-56. The Opposition will vote for these measures, but it desires to criticize, and very rightly so, what the Government has done.
The Government proposes to spend £163,000,000 out of revenue during the first four months of the financial year 1955-56. That expenditure will include pensions, social services, the salaries of public servants, judges and others! The amount of money which is to be appropriated will cover all normal expenditure and presumably it will include the salaries of heads of departments, conciliation commissioners and others whose increases have been paid without parliamentary approval, in relation to which validating legislation- is at present before the chamber. If that is so, the Opposition protests with all the vigour it possesses against the failure of the Government to make provision in the Estimates for the next financial year for increased payments to age and invalid pensioners, war widows and war pensioners. It also protests because nothing has been done since 1949 to increase the 10s. a week child endowment paid to the mothers of the community, and also the payments made to all the other persons who have a claim upon the community by virtue of the legislation which this Parliament has passed pursuant to the alteration to the Constitution made in 1.946, an alteration which was opposed by every member of the Australian Country party ; although it was personally supported by the Prime Minister, it was opposed by so many of his followers.
The amount of money which is being paid to pensioners is totally inadequate to enable these unfortunate people to exist. They do not live. It cannot be said, of course, that the Government is starving them to death, but it can be said that the Government is completely indifferent to their suffering, as is evidenced by the failure of the Treasurer, the Prime Minister, and the Minister for Social Services to give any indication during this sessional period of what the Government proposes to do to enable the 320,000 age pensioners who have no other income to eke out an existence in these days of terrific high prices. Pensioners are finding prices very high, as can b6 verified by anybody who knows anything about their conditions.
The correspondence which I receive from pensioners makes very very sad reading. I should like to say to the Minister for Social Services (Mr. McMahon), who is seated at the table as deputy for the Treasurer, that some of the letters indicate a condition of affairs which should not be allowed to exist in a civilized community. I received a letter to-day which reads as follows : -
I thought I would put my case before you and see what you and your colleagues think about it. My late husband was a member of the A.I.F. in the landing at Galipoli, and after his discharge he took over a War Service home which we held for 34 years. During that time rent was not missed once. Altho my husband was in indifferent health and thro the depression also having reared 4 children. Now when my husband died in July, 1952, after my nursing him for Gi months my own health broke down. 1 came to the conclusion that I could not look after my home or myself, as my family were an married with families of their own. So I decided to sell my home, but before I could do so I would have to find £16(1 owing on the home. And it would have to be renovated for the whole of these expenses. I had to borrow from a relative, which I had to repay on the sale of the home. I might state that I was in receipt of the old age pension and I notified the Social Service Department that I had to sell my home. Then they stopped my pension and sent me an account for £21 paid to me since the sale of home which I am repaying at the rate of 10s. per fortnight. They also called in my Entitlement Card, which entitled me to free Doctor and medicine, for which I now have to have once a fortnight. Dr. visit and prescription 35s. 6d. £100 for agent who sold home. £350 for renovations. £160 to finish payments on home. Now £4 per week board, 15s. for woman to clean ray room and do my washing. £50 for a wheel chair as I am helpless with arthritis. This bit of money cannot last for ever. Why did they have to take my pension off me. T cannot expect people to look after me and board me free. I have one and a half thousand pounds left. Under present prices that will not last long.
This Government should have done more than it has done in an effort to abolish the means test. I would try to abolish it within the life of one Parliament. I know something of the cost of abolishing the means test; it would not be nearly so great as the figure to which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer referred during the last general election campaign.
– Has the honorable member referred that letter to the Department of Social Services?
– I have done so.
– Has there been any delay in dealing with the matter ?
– I referred it to the department only this morning, but this seemed to be an appropriate time to tell the House about it, and to point out the manner in which the Minister administers the department, and allows this sort of thing to continue. However, the present Minister is no more hard-hearted than was his predecessor, the present Minister for Air (Mr. Townley), who, when the Opposition proposed last year that age and invalid pensions should be increased to £4 a week, and that civilian widows’ and war widows’ pensions and war pensions should be increased accordingly, stated -
This is absurd and could deal the national economy a body blow from whiCh it might never recover. Every shilling increase in the age pension costs £1,300,000, and Mr. Calwell promises a 10s. increase. It is just crazy.
It will be just crazy if this Government does not do more for age and invalid pensioners, civilian widows, war widows and war pensioners than it has done in the past. Other correspondence that I have received demonstrates clearly how much the cost of living has increased since this Government took office. The Minister for Social Services is well aware that this Government and its supporters are not primarily concerned with the welfare of old people. They are concerned only with serving the class to which they belong.
I know that Government supporters, in reply to the Opposition’s criticism, will claim that everything is going well with the Australian economy, that there is nothing wrong anywhere, and that we are living in a state of prosperity such as has never been known before, with prospects of even greater prosperity in the future. The Opposition’s indictment of the Government is supported by a statement made by the Treasurer last week-end when he addressed the Federal Executive of the Australian Country party in Canberra. The right honorable gentleman stated that inefficient production methods and high and uneconomic costs, sheltering behind artificial walls, would bring us again to the impasse that we faced in the depression of the ‘thirties. That expression of opinion contradicted the sentiments voiced by the Prime Minister the evening before, in Melbourne, during his participation in the Victorian general election campaign. The Prime Minister stated that we were enjoying unparalleled prosperity. One cannot enjoy unparalleled prosperity on Friday night and be facing depression on Satur day afternoon, but a comparison of the statements of the Prime Minister and of the Treasurer, who is Deputy Prime Minister, would lead one to believe that that is possible.
I am sure that Australian manufacturers will not agree with the Treasurer that their production methods are ineffcient. In fact, in recent times, the Government has been criticized because it has not provided for greater depreciation allowances as taxation deductions, and because it has failed to encourage more investment of capital for each worker in industry in order to increase production. It has been stated that in the United States of America there is the highest capital investment relative to each worker in the world. That is one of the reasons why that country leads the world. It is the Government’s duty to do something about high production costs in Australia, and not merely to criticize the manufacturers or the workers or tell the manufacturers in a patronizing and insulting manner that they are sheltering behind artificial walls. The Government must do everything possible to win back the markets that we have lost, and to protect, the markets for Australia’s manufacturers that are now imperilled because manufacturers in other countries are able to manufacture goods more cheaply than comparable goods can be manufactured in Australia, and because, in spite of the protection afforded by the tariff wall, the competition of overseas manufacturers threatens Australian industries with extinction.
The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) has made a contribution to the public discussion of this matter by pointing out that in some industries, notably the textile and the clothing industries, unemployment is re-appearing. Unemployment must re-appear in present conditions, and Government supporters should not need to wait for Labour men to tell them that. I notice that the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske), who is missing from the chamber this afternoon, always enjoys his little laugh when any one talks about the possibility of depression appearing. The honorable member is probably appearing in divorce jurisdiction this afternoon, so that I shall not be able to tell him of the views expressed on Friday last, on his arrival in Australia from London, by the Honorable David Brand, the chairman of directors of the English, Scottish and Australian Bank Limited. This gentleman stated that there had recently been some indication that inflation was increasing, and that Australia was showing signs of overfull employment. He observed that the danger in that condition was that it could cause a dangerous “leap-frogging” in employment, with people changing from job to job seeking higher pay. The Honorable David Brand stated, also, that he did not think that remedies such as the 1951 import restrictions had shaken the long-term confidence in Australia and its high standard of living which existed in England. He expressed the view that the individual investor from abroad who feared that he might be unable to get his money back when he wanted to, might be deterred from investing in Australia because of the danger of inflation, the danger about which the Treasurer warned members of the Australian Country party.
Australia’s economy is sick. The sickness about which we on this side of the House complain is made manifest by the following recent circumstances : First, the total of treasury-bills outstanding is dangerously high. This condition is always evidence of continuing and increasing inflation. Secondly, the growing adverse trade balance creates another crisis affecting the employment of many workers. Thirdly, the drop in both the volume and the prices of Australia’s principal exports is the worst decline for years, and offers little hope for improvement.
– Is not the total of outstanding treasury-bills being reduced?
– If so, the reduction has taken place only in the last few days, because the total has been increasing for a considerable time. The treasury-bill issue, which stood at £343,000,000 at the height of the war, was reduced to £80,000,000 by the time the Chifley Government went out of office, but the present Government has increased the total issues, on occasions, to £420,000,000, and has about £200,000,000 outstanding at present. The Opposition’s fourth point is that the import restrictions which have been imposed are creating uneasiness and doubt among all classes of traders and workers. Our fifth point is that credit restrictions are being made more severe, with resultant harmful effects on homebuilding and industrial expansion. The sixth point is that hire purchase is thriving in the hands of private companies, and people are paying exorbitant charges for financial accommodation. This, too, will result in more inflation.
The Opposition wants the Government to adopt a more liberal financial policy. We consider that home-builders should receive financial accommodation at much lower charges than those that are now payable. Every co-operative building society in Australia should be given the money that it requires to provide homes for its members. We have been told that 80,000 is the maximum number of homes that can be provided in this country in each year. Honorable members opposite, and their friends in big industries, have said that Australia has neither the workers nor the materials to build more. If that is so, the result will be a new growth of communism is a short space of time. Not only must we build our current requirements of 80,000 new houses a year, but we must overtake the backlog of 300,000 houses, a legacy of World War II. and the depression years. A Labour government could do that. The Australian Labour party believes that every young married man should be helped to own his own home if he so desires. The Opposition contends that the Government of this country, whatever its political colour, must help the young married worker in industry and the young married man who is employed as an executive. The Government must help these people to dismiss the landlord if they wish to do so. It is not good social policy to have young married couples living with their in-laws. Verification of this was provided recently by the former Premier of France, M. Pierre Mendes-France, who said -
When young people cannot hope to find living quarters in which they can lead a normal life and raise a family, how can they help despairing of the country in which they live? It is as important to construct good housing in adequate quantity - and quickly - as it is to equip armoured divisions. To give workers the certainty that their wages will increase as their productivity increases is to strike the sword from the hand’s of the Communists.
I do not think that any honorable member will disagree with that sentiment; but the Government seems to be seized with an inexplicable inability to provide for the construction of more than 80,000 houses a year. Our population is increasing enormously. A million people will have come into this country in a period, not of ten years, but probably of eight and a half years. That number, added to the present population of 8,000,000, will make great demands on the community pool for all types of services. Although such a large influx of immigrants will have an inflationary effect temporarily, in the long run it will have a deflationary effect. Therefore, it is most important that the Government should state what it proposes to do to provide additional housing.
The Government could tackle this problem in one of two ways. It could tell the Commonwealth Bank and the private banks to make more financial accommodation available than they are making available at present. Alternatively, it could provide the State Governments with enough loan money to enable them to build all the houses that they want to build. Perhaps it will be necessary to bring more labour to this country. Let us go about the problem in the proper way and recruit skilled tradesmen from abroad. We may need more raw materials. Let us obtain them. If more capital equipment is needed in order to produce, housing materials more cheaply and quickly, the Government should give priority to the importation of that class of goods in preference to a lot of unessential consumer goods, which are still entering Australia despite import restrictions. The Government is not doing ali that could be done to provide housing for the young married people who constitute the most important section of the community. Biologically, they are our greatest asset. The Government should help them to build their homes and buy their furniture. By increasing child endowment, the Government would help them to provide for their children in the way that they wish to provide for them.
At present, if a married couple; have more than three or four children, they have to reduce their living, standards.. It, is a sad state of affairs that those who- have families’ should be penalized because they have performed their natural functions. The Government has penalized young married couples by its failure to increase child endowment.
Communism is in the air. A lot of people are talking about communism. A lot of people are trying to exploit communism. A lot of people have nothing else to do but think about communism. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) thinks in his sleep about communism. As a family, the Wentworths have been denouncing Communists since 184S. The great grandfather of the honorable member for Mackellar abused certain civic authorities of his time as being Communist. As a matter of fact, he denounced Henry Parkes, then a young chartist from Great Britain, as a radical. He even called him an anarchist. Australians now delight in regarding Sir Henry Parkes as one of the founding fathers of this great Commonwealth. In Melbourne, in 1877, Sir Graham Berry protested against an article which had appeared in the Melbourne Herald attacking his party. He was another ‘English chartist who became Sir Graham Berry and the Premier of a colony. In 1877, the Melbourne Herald published the following statement : -
The Government policy speech delivered at Geelong last night by the Premier, Mr. Berry, will undoubtedly have the effect of disarming those political adversaries of the Liberal party who have tried to affix the objectionable nickname of “ Communists “ to those who are only a few degrees less conservative than themselves.
If we view the subject of communism sensibly we shall not be upset by the J Jeremiahs nor by the abuse which is being thrown around at present. Some honorable members opposite have said that communism is treason, and that the Communist is a traitor. That view does not agree with the view that was expressed by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) as Leader of the Opposition in 1.946. In the Melbourne Herald of the 22nd June, 1946, the present Prime Minister was reported as follows: -
Our views are these. In time of war, a ban was placed on the Communist party on the grounds of national security. In time of peace it is a very, very serious step to prohibit the association of people for the promulgation of any particular political views. Therefore, in time of peace we do not propose to place a ban on the Communist party, as such. We believe that, if the Communist party’s views constitute a real danger to the public, they will be expressed through acts which will represent breaches of reasonable law. If the Communists arc, on investigation, found to be committing breaches of this law, then they will be among the first people prosecuted. In other words, we should deal with the Communists as breakers of the general law of the land and not purely as Communists. And the reason for that is that in any country, in normal times, all doubts about freedom of speech, thought and assembly, ought to he resolved in favour of freedom.
The Prime Minister abandoned that point of view long ago. He thinks it is a good thing to cash in on the fear of communism that exists in the community. It is proper that the community should have a fear of communism, and that it should adopt measures to ensure that the Communists do not take over the control of any instrumentality, and that they are defeated wherever they attempt to establish themselves. The Communist party is always struggling for power in various organizations, even in church groups. It does not confine its activities to the trades unions. It conducts its activities in universities and in education departments. Moreover, it is doing very well at present in its anti-American activities inside the Australian Country party. Communism seeks to obtain control of key trades unions because of its desire to bring about a revolutionary situation without which there can be no revolution. It seeks to form cells in peace councils, and even dissatisfied members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party sometimes, unwittingly or wittingly, do its work.
I have before me a copy of the Communist party publication, the Guardian, which was issued in Melbourne on the 17th February, 1955. The article to which I shall refer has the following caption : -
U.S. policies making our farmers serfs, Country Party leader warns..
– It sounds like a Labour statement.
– It comes from one of the friends of the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). If the honorable member will listen, I shall read the article. It states -
Slavish acceptance of American trade and international policies would turn the Australian primary producer into a serf, warned Mr. A. Gr. Allnutt, M.B.E., when presenting his annual report us president of the Swan Hill District Council of the Country Party.
The Swan Hill District Council of the Australian Country party is in the electoral division of Mallee, but the honorable member for Mallee has not repudiated Mr. Allnutt’s statement.
– I have.
– The article continues -
Mr. Allnutt . . . expressed deep dissatisfaction with the Menzies’ Government and called for an end to its aggressive foreign policy which is proving detrimental to the economic interests of primary producers.
He further stated -
The effect of the lack of interest by the Country Party in international affairs is now becoming apparent.
The slavish acceptance of U.S.A. world domination, and imperialism initiated by the last Federal Labour Government is undermining the stability of the primary producers in Australia.
That is pure Communist propaganda falling from the lips of a member of the Australian Country, party. The motion for the adoption of the report was submitted by Mr. Duncan Douglas, and he is reported as saying -
If we are to survive as a nation and make this country secure we can only do it by goodwill.
Then the article continues -
Mr. S. Storer seconded the adoption and said: “I agree with its contents especially in respect to America’s foreign policy in China and Formosa.”
That comes from a member of the Australian Country party in the electorate of Mallee. Although the report might have been criticized, it was adopted unanimously.
– How long ago was that?
– In February of this year. The same issue of the Guardian contains a report of a meeting that was convened by the Waterside Workers Federation in the Sydney Town Hall. The principal speakers were Mr. Healy, Dr. Burton, and Mr. H. K. Nock, treasurer of the Farmers and Settlers League, who is a farmer and member of the Australian Country party. The report states -
Mr. Nock said: “We must be realists. Exports are down. Our markets have declined. I agree we need more markets.”
Mr. Healy had his say, and then the report continues -
The meeting unanimously carried a resolution commending and endorsing the W.W.F. for its policy. “ We believe the only way to stem the trend (shrinking trade) is to open the trade routes with all countries,” the resolution said.
– Will the honorable member read what Mr. Nock said?
– I have just read it.
– Five words !
– Yes, but the resolution was carried unanimously. If Mr. Nock went onto that platform and spoke in support of the resolution, he has, in no uncertain way, committed the Australian Country party, which is always talking about its opposition to communism. Will some honorable members of the Australian Country party who are now in the House say whether they agree with the aetion of branches of their party in fostering this anti- American propaganda of the Communist party?
– “Ah”, interjects the honorable member. That propaganda is being fostered in Sydney, in New South Wales, and at Swan Hill in Victoria, and probably everywhere else throughout Australia.
– We will answer the honorable member’s question.
– I believe that Australian Country party members are good anti-Communists, and that they will say they repudiate the statements of Mr. Nock and everybody else who expresses similar thoughts, including Mr. Allnutt, a former member of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria. In the few moments that remain at my disposal, I wish to direct the attention of the House to the following statement by Bishop Sheil, an eminent Catholic bishop of Chicago : -
It is not enough to say that some one is anti-Communist to win my support. It has been said that patriotism is the scoundrel’s last refuge. In this day and age antiCommunism is sometimes the scoundrel’s first offence. As I remember, one ot the noisiest anti-Communists of recent history was a man named Adolph Hitler. He was not wrong because he was anti-Communist. He was wrong because he was immorally antiCommunist. He countered Communist tyranny with a tyranny of his own and inevitably Herr Hitler was a dismal failure as an antiCommunist . . .
Anti-communism is a serious business. It is not a game to be played so that publicitymad politicians can build fame for themselves . . .
Congressional committees have done good work, and are doing good work and will do more. But when they are cynically used to trap headlines rather than spies they mock themselves and they mock us too . . .
On political matters such as these, a Catholic statement - even a bishop’s - bears no more authority than whatever he can bring to it as a citizen and public figure. I know that there are many in my church who do not agree with me on this. So be it. Time will tell which of us is right.
That is a statement which will surely be endorsed. If we intend to do something against Communism, let us do it constructively, and let us remove the evils out of which communism grows. Do not let us aggravate the evil that existed in the depression years, and which still exists for some unfortunates who have to live in slum homes. Let us try at least to modernize and equip industry so that the worker may have more take-home money than he has had previously.
Costs have risen in Australia, and they have forced up wages. The purchasing power of wages in Australia is nothing like the purchasing power of wages in the United States of America. Recently, I examined figures that had been prepared by the government statistician, and I discovered that, in comparison with the wages of workers in the United States of America, the wages of the Australian worker had suffered considerably. The standard of living in America has been better controlled than has the standard of living in Australia. Since the Menzies Government assumed office, costs in Australia have risen by 116 per cent., whereas costs in the United States have risen by only 16 per cent. to 20 per cent.
– By how much have wages risen?
– Wages in America ore still higher than those in Australia.
– I am referring to wages in Australia.
– Wages have gone up, but because of the wage freeze, their effective purchasing power is lower than that of 1949.
– The organization to which the honorable member belongs did not say that in its advertisements last yea r.
– I do not care what any organization said last year. I am dealing with the present situation. Although the basic wage has been increased from £4 2s. in 1939 to £12 3s. in 1955, and although the price of bread and milk has risen by approximately 116 per cent., the age pensioner is not as well off as he was when the Chifley Government was in office. When that Government was in office, the age pension was equal to 36 per cent. of the basic wage, but it is now equal to only about 28 per cent.’ of the basic wage. We cannot close our eyes to those facts. Only last week, a congress of age pensioners from all over Australia was held in Melbourne. A lady named Miss Majorie Nunan was announced as the principal speaker. She is a noted Victorian Communist. The Communists are capturing the age and invalid pensioners’ organizations because this Government is neglecting to do for their members the things that it ought to do.
I shall conclude by referring to the subject of defence. It is said of us that we oppose defence. We do nothing of the sort. We have never voted against any defence measure that this Government has introduced, or against any single pound of expenditure on defence that this Government had incurred. We have voted for every item of defence expenditure in the budgets from 1950-51 to 1954-55. I point out, without itemizing the figures, that the amount voted for defence in the 1950- 51 budget was £133,383,000; in 1951- 52, £181,703,000; and in each of the last three years, . £200,000,000. Up to the end of June, 1954, the Government expended £722,579,000 on defence. However, when Labour was in office during war-time it expended £2,473,650,000 on defence.
– Surely the honorable member does not expect to get away with that statement?
– I am giving the facts. The total amount that Labour expended on defence out of revenue between 1939 and 1946 was £933,381,226, and out of loan moneys, £1,540,268,782. Every one of our public loans was filled. We never had to go to the money lenders in New York or in London or anywhere else to fill our loans. While we were raising that vast sum of money, we were actually repatriating £400,000,000,000 that we owed in London. In 1946-47 we expended on defence the amount of £194,702,556 from revenue, and £37,893,997 from loan moneys. In the following year, 1947-48, we expended on defence the amount of £180,047,317 from revenue. No loan money was needed after that time. It will be seen, therefore, that Labour expended vast amounts on defence. Even in 1948-49, we expended, out of revenue, £191,887,173 on defence. If the Minister for Social Services (Mr. McMahon), who is sitting at the table, wishes to examine the figures, he will find that Labour expended altogether on defence, out of revenue, the amount of £1,500,018,268, and out of loan moneys. £1,578,162,779, or a total of more than £3,000,000,000. But all that this Government has been able to do, despite all its talk about defence, has been to expend £722,579,000 out of revenue up to the 30th June, 1954, and has provided us with nothing like the defence force that this country requires. Anti-Labour governments do not change very much. They have never changed. In the Melbourne Herald of the 24th October, 1938, this statement appeared -
Federal Cabinet is Weakest Link in Our Defence.
The weakest link in Australian defence at the present moment is the Federal Cabinet The crisis of September made thousands of Australians realize, probably for first time, that Australia’s powerful neighbour in the Pacific was a potential enemy and that Australia could not, under every set of circumstances, completely rely on a strong British navy in the Pacific to protect her from invasion.
The article went on to state that Australia’s security depended on -
Is not that also true in 1955? We have the same story over again. The Ministers who attended the Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers over which the then Prime Minister, Mr. Lyons, presided, included the present Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page), the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the present Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), the present Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen), and the then Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby).
– Was tha t “ Shoot ‘Em Down” Thorby?
– Yes, “Shoot ‘Em Down “ Thorby of the Country party. The Melbourne Herald said of those gentlemen at that time -
These Ministers took a conspicuously inconspicuous part in the discussion.
They are conspicuously inconspicuous in regard to the defence of this country at the present time. Going around north Australia, one finds no preparation for defence. In Queensland, he will still find an air force station at Garbutt, near Townsville, but to get another real air force station he has to go to Pearce, in Western Australia.
– Is the honorable member referring to the fact that the honorable member .for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said that he would not spend 3d. on defence?
– If the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) wants to know what members of his own party said on defence, I shall have an opportunity to tell him later. But time is running out. Mr. Thorby said that .he would not send anybody to New Guinea, and Sir Henry Gullett, the lather of the present honorable member for Henty, said that he stood for voluntary enlistment. I hope that I am doing his memory justice; I am quite sure that I am. He said that he would not send anybody to New Guinea. It is of no use for honorable members opposite to tell us what some of our people said in the past. When a crisis arises, whether an economic crisis or war, the Labour party has to be sent for in order to clean up the mess, and get the job done. That is what will happen again.
I am glad of the opportunity to say what I have said and I hope, above all, that this Government will do something decent in the way of repatriation benefits and war pensions, war widows’ pensions, invalid and age pensions, child endowment, and civilian widows’ pensions. The recipients of those benefits are most in need of help.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. A moment ago, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) endeavoured to pour derision on myself and my family, extending back over 100 years, in respect of our opposition to communism. He referred to something that ray great-grandfather said in 1848, when he warned of the dangers of communism. May I point out to thi.’ honorable member that that date was contemporaneous with the publication of the Communist manifesto by Marx and Engels, which was the beginning of troubles for all mankind. If my greatgrandfather foresaw what would follow, it is not a matter proper for derision by the honorable member, or anybody else.
– Obviously, I did noi misrepresent the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), although he claims that I misrepresented him.
– That is a matter of opinion, on which I am not asked to give a decision.
, - I do not propose, .in the course of this debate, to try to follow the agile honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) through the maze formed by the numerous statements that he has made but I shall refer at once to the -.reflections that he cast upon two people. One of them was not known to me personally, but the other was known to me personally as well a3 to other older members of this House. The honorable member for Melbourne referred to Mr. Allnutt, an exmember of the Legislative Assembly in Victoria, who, according to the Guardian which, I understand, is a Communist paper, made a statement at a meeting of the Swan Hill branch of the Australian Country party. I am informed, I believe credibly, that Mr. Allnutt, an ex-member of the Legislative Assembly and a member of the Australian Country party in Victoria, was not a member of the Swan Hill branch of the party. Having had some knowledge of the kind of twisted propaganda in which the Communist publications excel, I am quite prepared to assure the House that the statement against Mr. Allnutt is completely false and unjustified.
– I am prepared to accept the honorable gentleman’s assurance on that point.
– Reference has been made to the Honorable H. K. Nock, a former Minister in this Parliament. He is one of the leading executives of the Country party in New South “Wales, a life-long worker for the Farmers and Settlers Association of New South Wales, and a man who has given his whole life to the advancement of rural primary production. He is completely upright and loyal. To any one who knows Horace Nock, the inferences to be drawn from this fantastic story which has appeared in a Communist rag are utterly at variance with everything that we know about him, and it is most incredible that it should have been brought into this House and used to besmirch his name. If it is stated that he appeared on a platform on a certain date and said, “ Let us be realists “, I am quite prepared to believe that he had the courage, which many people have not, to go to a Communist meeting and try to tell them something of the facts of the case. But to suggest that he, unanimously or otherwise, supported a Communist programme, is so fantastic that any one who has known him, as I have known him, for the last 40 years, and worked in close association with him over a great part of that time, can dismiss it for what it is worth, as something which I do not. think should have been projected into this debate.
The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) also referred to a stater ment made by a former honorable member for Henty in which he condemned communism. The honorable member then referred to a statement made by the Prime Minister, in which he expressed certain views regarding communism. I myself, with a most critical mind, find nothing whatever at variance in the two statements that were made, because they are statements which I could accept. T am a believer in democracy, and I believe that in democracy we must give to every shade of public and religious opinion the utmost possible freedom, consistent with observance of the freedom of other sections of the community.
– Hear, hear!
– Accordingly, I am entirely at variance with philosophical communism as I am satisfied in my own mind that it would lead to the degradation of the human race. Nevertheless, I find myself in alinement with the Prime Minister when he says that if it is approached from the angle of philosophical communism or philosophical socialism, it is one of those things which, in a democracy, cannot be interfered with, except at the peril of democracy. That is an entirely different thing from that to which the former honorable member for Henty referred, which is that perversion of every philosophical idea, the Russian international Communist imperial conspiracy, which is a danger to every country which holds the same ideals as I have attempted to express, perhaps inadequately, in this debate. iSo, it does little else than cloud the whole discussion for anybody to take these two things and try to confuse completely the issues in the public mind. The honorable member for Melbourne referred to the statement, which I am afraid has been proved true too often, that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. Quite apart from the fact that patriotism has been the refuge of innumerable billions who have given their lives for great causes, there is just sufficient truth in that statement to have a certain amount of effect. Let me say, with all the seriousness at my disposal, that the man who deliberately raises the sectarian issue in the public life of the country is going pretty close to proving that sectarianism is the last refuge of the political scoundrel.
I say with deep regret that I find that those forces which, in the natural course of events, are lined against the real danger of our international existence, are being deliberately divided, not along the lines of ordinary politics or of economic discussion but along the lines of the worst possible passions that can be raised by injecting this old story of sectarianism into the scheme of things. With 65 years of Protestant life behind me, I deeply regret that this issue, which too often has given rise to false passions, distracting the people’s attention from the real things which they require, is now being used to assist one cause, and one only, and that is the Communist forces of this country which are trying to infiltrate and destroy us. The only people who can gain by what is happening are the Communists. Communism is the only force that can benefit. If this question is to be approached in a logical, calm, and reasoned manner, we must look at the whole course of history, which shows that under whatever name a tyranny may flourish, or whatever guise it may take, something is always arising against which the human race must exercise complete vigilance. A while ago it was Nazi-ism and fascism. They raised their heads, and the forces of freedom were able to crush them. At one time, it has been the absolute king; at another time it has been the absolute priest. To-day, in this country, the balance of power in respect of the rights of the people is being disturbed by one thing only, and that is this rising force, the greatest and most powerful force for evil I believe that we have yet seen, international communism. The people who deliberately divide this country on an issue such as this and who deliberately split the forces which should be naturally united to reject this kind’ of thing, must take their judgment not only in this House and before the electors but also before the judgment bar of history itself.
That is my contribution upon this subject. I deeply regret that there are men who, while they uphold the Christian religion, are lending themselves unwittingly, and playing into the hands of this evil force, which seizes upon everything which can be used to mislead, confuse, and finally destroy the forces of freedom and the rights of democracy. On Sunday last, for the first time in many years, I walked through the Domain in Sydney, and listened for a while to a Communist speaker. I heard him quoting with tremendous approval what the Communist party and the Labour party were going to do by achieving certain results. He spoke with great approval of the destruction of the industrial groups and quoted with equal approval the remarks made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) when, by a filthy inference, he attempted to disparage the integrity of the judges who conducted the Petrov inquiry. What was implied was given in great detail, and with great force, on that particular occasion. I know that it is sometimes very hard to shake off a mongrel dog, but anybody who does as the Labour party appears to be doing, and throws out choice titbits for such a dog, has only himself to blame for the consequences.
I shall not pursue that line any longer, because I should like the House to direct its attention to the real problems that are associated with the Supply Bill. The purpose of the measure is to grant £163,077,000 for the needs of the Government for the four months following the end of this financial year. The Parliament and the Government have to face some difficult problems in relation to the finding of this amount of money. The Parliament votes the money, but the money so- voted must be obtained from somewhere. It is derived from the taxes on our agricultural and mineral products, secondary industry and individuals. If the necessary amount could not be obtained from those sources, a vote of this Parliament would not, of itself, produce it. and therefore, would have no real significance. I have no fear about the ability of the Government and the nation to honour the promises which, in effect, are made when the Parliament passes this legislation. However, I have some reasonable doubt about whether this country can continue indefinitely to expend huge sums on its development without seriously tackling the problem of the need for additional production.
There are different approaches to the problem of production. Some people approach it by urging the great task force of this country to give more time and effort to increasing production, in order to enable Australia to meet the challenge that is posed by its need for development. I am in entire accord with that approach. But that is not the whole story. We have to take a much wider view in order to be able to form a balanced opinion of what is required to enable Australia to function properly in the economic sense. I wish, therefore, to refer to a statement that was made some time ago by the president of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce during an address to that body. The statement throws into sharp relief certain matter which, I consider, should be the subject of discussion and review on such an occasion as this debate on a Supply bill. The major point made by the president is that we must increase our production. I am interested particularly in how that increase is to be achieved. The president said -
Secondary industries must be developed if we arc to supply our own and growing needs. On the other hand, it is the primary industries which provide our export surplus. ^Sitting suspended from 6 to S p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was referring to certain remarks, made not- so long ago, by a representative of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce on the subject of production, and the part that it should play in enabling us to function properly as- a nation. The subject that we are dealing with is the proposal of the Treasurer that we should vote approximately £163,000,000 for the purposes of the Government during the next few months. If I may compress the statement to which I have referred, the first point stressed was that if we were to supply our own growing needs; as a result of population increase and immigration, secondary industries in this country must be developed’:. The spokesman went on to say it was the primary industries that sUpplied our export surplus;. Elaborating, he said -
They are needed not only to enable us to buy consumer goods abroad, but to provide raw materials and semi-manufactured goods, which secondary industry needs and which constitute the bulk of our imports.
It may well be that a commission of inquiry into the economy would find the need for a greater proportion of our capital acquisitions in the future to be devoted to those industries which produce goods for export - in the main, primary products.
A significant, but doubtless inadvertent, omission was the failure to- refer to our debt service overseas. Australia must produce sufficient to enable it to discharge that debt and. maintain its solvency. That aspect must be- considered carefully. So far, our secondary industries have been unable to make a significant contribution to the settlement of our export problems. On the other hand, I feel a cold shiver go through me when I read of a proposal to divert a greater proportion of our finance to the building up of our primary production for export purposes. I appreciate, the reasons advanced by the spokesman for the Chamber of Commerce, but have painful recollections that a similar policy was advocated before the great depression of 1929 and the ‘thirties. The Government, finding that export- returns were lagging, appealed to the great primary industries to produce more. In actual volume the export figures of 1929-30 have, perhaps, never been exceeded. The net result was that, in a world that was sagging through lack of organization and the means of carrying - in the financial sense - the primary exports to those who wanted to purchase them, the extra production worsened a situation which had given us the cheapest wheat since the reign of Elizabeth I. Naturally, when one sees the tendency to increase primary exports though it is becoming more difficult to market our present primary produce, one wonders whether that is a sound solution.
The Government will need to watch carefully the sagging tendency in our primary production markets. Australia is now stronger than it was inasmuch as it has a greater home consumption, but it is still vulnerable in that 90 per cent, of its primary production goes to meet the demands of debt service. If the demand of the .secondary industries that they should receive greater protection from the wintry blast is heeded, there can easily occur further overbalancing, which, in the long run, will undermine the secondary industries themselves. Certain of the smaller industries, such as thu dried fruit industry, are already beginning to feel the impact. Other countries have taken action to meet such a situation. For a long while the United States of America has pursued a “policy of propping up its primary production because it realizes that once it begins to collapse the collapse of the remainder of the economy will occur. I do not, for a moment, suggest that Australia should follow a policy of pricing its goods out of the local market. That happened in the case of butter, and consumption dropped by 00 per cent. Any policy which makes it harder to purchase the basic necessities of life is at one and the same time likely to undermine the national health and the strength of the national economy. Therefore, the solution does not lie there.
Time will not permit me to follow that line very much further. I must pass on to another aspect that I think is important in this connexion. One of the greatest weaknesses in Australia’s finance is the uniform taxation system. Its introduction placed the whole of the income tax of Australia in the hands of the Commonwealth Parliament. It placed all the States in the position of mendicants and resulted in financial irresponsibility that is undermining the financial structure. It has led to the Commonwealth being blackguarded by the various States for, allegedly, not giving them enough money. On the other hand, the Commonwealth has robbed them of a responsibility to their own Parliaments for the expenses that they incur and the taxation that they impose. This Government is pledged to alter that state of affairs. It has intimated that it will endeavour to have appointed an all-party parliamentary committee to review the working of the Constitution. The sooner that committee is .appointed the happier will be the people who have trusted the Government to keep its promise in the matter. The sooner it brings about a proper and common-sense adjustment of the respective financial responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the States, the better it will be for the Treasury and the good government of this country. The present system is tending more and more towards centralization of power in the hands of the Commonwealth. That is bad for the Commonwealth, and bad for the principle of citizen responsibility in this country. It is one of the factors that is weakening our sense of democratic responsibility, which can be developed best under a system of local self-government.
Let me refer to the Senate. At present, the Senate consists of 60 members, representing a population of 9,000,000 people in six States. In the United States, with 140,000,000 people, there are 96 senators. Apart from the creation of new States, are we to go on indefinitely increasing the number of senators in order to maintain the ratio of one senator to two members of this House ? If so, we shall make ourselves a laughing stock. We shall destroy the Senate itself, and ultimately we shall cause a breakdown of the federal system. The federal system is weak for the simple reason that it has never been allowed to develop or function properly. I could speak at some length on this subject, but I do not propose to do so now. I hope to speak on it at greater length on a future occasion. I think I have indicated some ways in which the weakness of the Constitution is affecting the job that the Treasurer is called upon to do.
Now I want to refer to a matter that is causing grave concern to a great many people in Australia, particularly those in New South Wales. I am glad that the Minister for Defence Production (Sir Eric Harrison) is here, because I want him to hear me say that, so far, I have neither read nor heard a satisfactory reason why, in this atomic age, we should build a £23,000,000 munitions filling plant in a place that is vulnerable in the most dreadful sense of the word, a place adjacent to the City of Sydney, i have heard no valid reason why ‘the plant should not be .situated west of the
Great Dividing Range, or at least 100 miles from the coast. I have heard no valid reason why there should not be four smaller plants in different places, instead of one large plant in one place. Surely we are not going to make the mistakes of the last world war. At that time, I asked the Commonwealth to join with the States in preparing an air training scheme for young men, but I was told that it was not a matter of interest to the Commonwealth, because it was thought that the provision that had been made was sufficient to meet the circumstances. I trust that that kind of *hing will not occur again.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– A Supply bill gives to members of the House an opportunity to review any aspect of public administration to which they believe attention should be directed. I wish to bring to the notice of the House a matter that is causing, serious concern to many of the new settlers from the United Kingdom. Some of those people, who came to this country several years ago, are being pressed, even to the point of summons, to pay sums which it is claimed they owe to the Commonwealth in respect of their accommodation in Commonwealth hostels. This matter is causing a great deal of agitation among these people, because they believe the Commonwealth’s action to be unfair.
If we want to get the best out of our new citizens, it is essential that wc shall not seek to impose upon them unfair and unjust conditions, and that we shall not do anything to embarrass them in their efforts to become assimilated into the community life of the nation. Some immigrants from the United Kingdom are being pressed by a governmental authority to pay what the authority regards as debts incurred by them when they came to Australia two years, and even three years ago. These people came from the United Kingdom to make new homes for themselves in this country and, by their industry and good citizenship, to help to develop the great potential of this country and strengthen our security. But they have not received the encouragement that should be extended to immigrants from the United Kingdom, who are, I believe, the best immigrants that we can have. We want to ensure that a high percentage of the immigrants who are coming here will be people of our own kith and kin. We want British immigrants to be well satisfied with their lives in Australia, so that they will recommend other people from the United Kingdom to come here.
The people about whom I am speaking were accommodated for a time in hostels provided by the Commonwealth, and they were required to pay the charges prescribed for their accommodation. Then there came a time when Commonwealth Hostels Limited felt that it was justified in increasing the charges beyond the figure originally agreed upon. In April, 1952, Commonwealth Hostels Limited increased the charge for male adults by 17s. 6d. a week, making a total tariff of £4 7s. 6d. a week. The charge for female adult workers was increased by 14s. 6d. a week, making a total tariff of £3 17s. 6d. a week, and the charge for a female adult dependant was increased by 8s. a week, making a total tariff of £2 10s. a week. The immigrants greatly resented the fact that the increases were imposed without provision for them to be certified by some independent authority, or without negotiation with the people concerned. I understand that no action was taken to obtain a proper assessment of a. desirable or justifiable increase of the charges made to residents in the hostels. The charges were made and it resulted in a very spirited protest. Any one of us would have made a similar protest if we had been subjected to an extra charge above what had been agreed was a reasonable charge for our residence in one of these hostels. This extra charge by Common wealth Hostels Limited contravened the provisions of the price-fixing laws. Those who were concerned in this protest submitted a case to the High Court, challenging the validity of the extra charges that had been made. A decision was given in their favour to the effect that the price-fixation laws had been contravened. Subsequently, with a view to defeating the law and evading the implications of the ruling given by the court, action was taken by the State authorities to exempt Commonwealth Hostels
Limited from the provisions of the pricefixing laws. This undoubtedly was prompted by the Commonwealth. If there is anything more reprehensible than that, I cannot imagine it. If a law is made, even if by another government authority, we should observe it in the spirit and the letter. As this has not been done, I say that these immigrants have a perfect right to protest. They decided that they would pay the amount they were charged in the first instance and refused to pay that which the court determined was contrary to the pricefixing laws. They decided to withhold that money as a protest against the action of the authorities.
Two or three years have passed since this happened and these immigrants have left the hostels and become assimilated in our community life. However, they are still being pursued by dunning letters and debt collectors. At a meeting of some of these people who live in South Australia, held last night in Adelaide, it was disclosed that six of them had been issued with summonses for non-payment of the excess charges. Last week, I asked the Minister for Immigration whether he would consider cancelling th,: debts that were alleged to he owing to the Government by these people in view of the time that has elapsed since they were incurred, and also with a view to securing the co-operation and help of the people concerned. Furthermore, if action were taken to settle the whole matter it would give these people peace of mind.
– Did any of them pay the excess charge ?
– I have no doubt that some of them did, but that does not affect the rights or wrongs of the matter.^ If some of them did pay, they are entitled to a return of the amounts they paid.
– I ask the honorable gentleman whether his statements reflect the official attitude of his party, because they run entirely counter to the recommendations of an independent committee appointed by this Parliament.
– I am giving the factual position in regard to these people and I believe that the matter should be examined by an independent authority of this Parliament in order to determine the merits of the case.
– There has been an independent examination.
– If the Government has evaded the processes of the law, and has sought to shelter behind its prerogative to exempt these people from the price- fixing laws, then I think that something else should be done for them because they would not have protested as they have done unless they had some justification for so doing. The Government should encourage these people rather than hinder them. I urge the House to recognize the justice of the claim that I have made on their behalf, and I express the hope that the Minister will examine this problem which has caused so much difficulty aud distress to many of these people who are giving of their very best in Australia. I hope that they will get the encouragement that this Government should rightly give to them.
When the Minister does consider this matter further, I hope he will be able to arrive at a formula that will satisfy the claims of the Government as well as those of the immigrants concerned. The Minister indicated in his reply to the question I asked last week that the money in question belonged to the people, and as the Government waa the custodian of public funds, it should see that it was paid. That may be true, but if these immigrants have a just claim, in accordance with the provisions of the law, some agreement should be arrived at which will ensure that justice shall be done to them. In view of the spirited protest that has been made, it is quite possible that much of the money concerned belongs, not to the people of Australia, but to the immigrants themselves. That being so, I earnestly suggest that further consideration be given to the spirited protest that has been made, because, without doubt, it has been made with some justification and these people should have a right to be heard.
I wish now to mention again a matter that I raised at question time to-day. It is the great and urgent need to do more for aged and infirm people than is being done for them at present. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who led for the Opposition when this debate was resumed this afternoon, made an earnest appeal to the Government to give more consideration to the needs of the aged and infirm. I have received a petition from approximately 80 aged residents in my constituency who also speak for thousands of pensioners who are being subjected to the most serious trials and difficulties by the present high cost of living, which makes it almost impossible for them to satisfy the essential needs for their sustenance and the maintenance of life. It is unfortunate that the aged and the infirm are probably the only section in the Australian community that has not received anything like a proper adjustment of the pensions on which they depend for their livelihood. The- ever-increasing cost of living has been clearly exemplified in the last year or two, and I hoped that before the end of this sessional period the Government would introduce legislation in order to relieve this very urgent condition of affairs. I take this opportunity now to support the earnest appeal of the honorable member for Melbourne to the Government to do something for the members of this most deserving section of the community and to increase their pensions- so that they may better, provide for their essential needs and so that they may be relieved of some of the pressure that bears so heavily upon them to-day.
The two matters that I have mentioned are most urgent, and I appeal to the Government to give them immediate attention. I am- confident that all honorable members consider that immigrants should receive better treatment and that the pensions paid to aged and infirm people should be- increased so as to provide more adequately for their essential requirements.
.- The honorable member, for Sturt (Mr. Makin) has made serious- charges about the treat1ment of immigrants in hostels. Though the honorable member’s charges may appear serious in his eyes, they are not completely justified. Some time ago- the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council was appointed to consider the matters to which the honorable member referred’. Its- members included. Mr. J. C. Neagle; the federal secretary of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, the secretary of the Australian Council of: Trades
Unions, Mr. R, R. Broadby, Mrs. F. G. Kumm, of the Young Women’s Christian Association, and the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Brown)., who was appointed chairman. The committee investigated charges similar to those that have been made by the honorable member for Sturt,, and reported that they were without foundation. As- a consequence, one would expect the honorable member to make further investigations and to consult his colleague, Mr. Broadby, before renewing the charges; He has not bothered to ascertain the truth of the matter. Apparently he was satisfied to take only one person’s opinion, and to rest his case on that opinion alone. I am sure that the honorable member for McMillan will have something- to sayabout this matter later. He is well acquainted with the events that took place, and he knows that the charges that have been made were completely false.
I wish now to refer to a document that was circulated among honorable members some days ago. It gives details of Commonwealthwide expenditure on the national health scheme for each financial year since that which ended on the 30th June, 1949, with, estimated figures for the financial year 1954-55. It sets out expenditure in each year in each State on hospital benefits, medical’ benefits^ free life-saving drugs, medical benefits, to pensioners, benefits to sufferers from tuberculosis, free milk for school children, and the total expenditure; An analysis of this very important document, reveals that the people in some States do not receive the full benefit that they should receive, because in those States the national health scheme is not properly administered. The document shows that hospital benefits paid annually throughout. Australia have increased by £7,123,435 since the hospital benefits scheme was introduced. Since the inception of the scheme in 1949, hospital benefits paid in New South Wales have increased by approximately £4,000,000 annually. This figure represents about 55 per cent, of the total increase throughout Australia. The population of New South Wales represents only 38 per cent, of the total population of Australia. Annual expenditure on hospital benefits in Victoria has increased by about £1,410,000, which represents approximately 19.5 per cent, of the total increase. Medical benefits payments in New South Wales in the current financial year are estimated to total £3,907,000, which represents about 46 per cent, of the total Australian expenditure on medical benefits. Expenditure in Victoria is estimated to total £1,981,000 in the current financial year. This amount represents approximately 23 per cent, of the total benefits for Australia.
Why is there such a difference between the hospital and the medical benefits in New South Wales and in Victoria? It is obvious that Victoria receives about £1,000,000 a year less in medical benefits and approximately £1,500,000 a year less in hospital benefits than does New South Wales. What is the reason for the smaller benefits in Victoria ? Are the benefit societies giving1 the- full benefit that the contributors desire and should receive? Are the contributors completely satisfied with the benefits, when they set them off against the cost of hospital accommodation and medical treatment? I have investigated’ the matter closely because the difference between the position in Vic. tori a and that in New South Wales appears to be so great, and I have ascertained that the people of Victoria are not getting nearly so much benefit as the people- of New .South Wales are getting.
– Are not the Victorians much healthier?
– The incidence of sickness in Victoria is no less than- it is in New- South Wales. However, we in Victoria are suffering very seriously from legislation introduced by the Victorian Labour Government, which has refused to amend its enactment, with the result that contributors to benefit societies are not receiving the benefits to which they are entitled’. The Benefit Associations Act’ which was introduced in 1951 at the request” of the Victorian Labour party, and which subsequent Labour governments have refused (o alter, has caused serious loss for contributors to hospital and medical’ benefits funds in Victoria. It has- placed them under a handicap compared with New South Wales contributors’. Thi? act limits the hospital bene fits- to an amount of £5 5s. a week for the accommodation and maintenance of each person in hospital, and it limits the benefit payable to each person in respect of medical, surgical or therapeutic treatment to £21 a year. The position is. so serious that hospital benefits associations in Victoria have made a. number of approaches to the Victorian Labour Government to have the act amended so that the associations may give contributors what they consider to be a better return for the amount of insurance that they pay.
This problem has been a constant source of worry to this association. Right up to last year; letters were written by the Hospital Benefits Association of Victoria, which i3 the largest medical benefits organization in that State, for the purpose of persuading the State government to have- the act amended. Each request has been refused. On the 21st October, 1954, the president of the association. Mr. C. H. Dickson, and the director, Mr. E. Lewis, wrote a letter to the Chief Secretary, Mr. Galvin, in an endeavour to have the legislation altered. In this letter, they said -
Hospital Benefits to maximum £5’ 5s. per week and to. maximum of 13 weeks in any one year.
Medical Benefits for treatment in Hospital to a maximum of- £21 in- any one year.
The last reply that they received to- their correspondence was a letter from the Chief Secretary dated the 10th February, in which he absolutely refused to take any action. The Hospital Benefits Association, having had many years of experience, is able to appreciate what is happening in the community. It knows that greater benefits should he paid. People should be helped to pay for modern hospitalization and surgical treatment, and the association considers that they could be given additional assistance if this act could be altered. The balancesheet of the association shows that it has established itself in a sound financial position in a short period of time. Its assets take the form of investments in Commonwealth loans, State Electricity Commission loans, Gas and Fuel Corporation securities, Melbourne Tramway Board securities, and other gilt edged securities.
These assets would enable the association to meet any great demand that might be made on its funds at any particular time. During the last ten months, the association has built up a surplus of about £220,000, but it is unable to increase the amount of benefit paid to its members and thereby entitle them to increased Commonwealth contributions. The friendly societies in Victoria are permitted to do that, but they do not do it. The Hospitals Benefits Association is eager to do it, but cannot. It seems that discrimination is being exercised by the Chief Secretary between the friendly societies and the Hospital Benefits Association. The people of Victoria have been complaining about this discrimination. I am sure that the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) realizes that it is creating a bad situation in Victoria. The people of Victoria are not receiving Government hospital and medical benefits to the same degree as the people of other States. They are at a great disadvantage.
– It is not sensible to refuse to allow them to insure for whatever amount they wish to receive.
– I am glad to hear the Minister say that. Many people in Victoria are suffering, although there is no need for them to suffer. It has been possible for this Government to give considerable assistance to the people of other States in respect of the payment of medical and hospital expenses, but the people of Victoria have suffered because of the restrictive State legislation, which has prevented medical benefits associations from giving greater benefits. The people of Victoria can blame only one government for that state of affairs. The Victorian Government is prepared to allow societies to build up huge reserves for all kinds . of purposes. Reserves are necessary in order to meet any large demands that are likely to be made on societies in an emergency, but any surplus that is held by a society over and above the amount required for that purpose should be paid back to contributors. In 1953, when a social services consolidation bill was before the House, I was rather perturbed about the possibility of medical benefit societies and associations building up huge reserves for some purpose which might never arise. On that occasion, I made the following statement : -
The Government must ensure that, in giving its blessing to medical organizations which are to be approved for payment of Commonwealth hospital and medical benefits, it is not providing them, at the taxpayers expense, with an easy means to enlarge anil inflate their financial strength to a degree that would enable them, and not Parliament, to control the future of the health scheme. We could easily create a Frankenstein’s monster that would’ destroy the authority of Parliament over our health service.
In other words, these organizations could become so powerful with their reserves of capital that they could become pressure groups and put pressure on Parliament. I continued -
Moreover, the Government must, without delay, or as soon as possible, take legislative action to ensure that after safe periods, the reserves that these societies build up, through subscriber’s contributions are handed back to members in some form of lower contribution or greater benefits. There are to-day, in every capital city, societies with tremendous capital resources, collectively running into millions which have been built up by contributions from people long since dead.
One would have thought that the Victorian Labour Government would have been very concerned about the health of the people of that State, and that it would have sought to ensure that the workers, whom it was alleged to have represented, obtained the maximum medical and hospital benefits from the funds that had been made available by the Australian Government. All that it seems to have done has been to ensure that the various societies and medical associations have built up huge reserves at the expense of the contributors. I am glad to note that the Minister for Health is in the chamber. I hope that he will give this matter serious consideration. Possibly a new government will be elected in Victoria a few days hence. If so, I hope that it will improve the present situation so that contributors to friendly societies and medical associations may obtain a refund of a greater percentage of their hospital expenses and medical fees.
– It will be a bad government if it is a Liberal government.
– I am sure, as the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has stated, that, if a Liberal government is returned to office, the people will obtain those benefits.
– I said that it will be a bad government if it is a Liberal government.
– I thought the honorable member said what I have just represented him as having said. I am sure he meant that, even if he did not say it. I hope that the Minister will take any action that he thinks necessary to direct the attention of the new Victorian government to the conditions that have obtained for so long in that State.
-(Hon. Archie Cameron) . - Order !
.- I noted with pleasure that the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) did not mention the Queensland hospital system. As he, apparently, is a close student of hospital systems throughout Australia, I assume that he knows that the Queensland hospital system, under a Labour government, is miles ahead of any other system.
Honorable members returned to Canberra in April, after a very long recess, expecting that some really worth-while matters would be considered during the present sessional period. To my astonishment, the business paper that is before the House is the worst that I have ever seen, and it is probably the worst that has been prepared since the inauguration of this Parliament. Nothing of worthwhile value has been placed on it, although I think you, Mr. Speaker, will admit that there is ample scope for the introduction of worth-while legislation. At no time during the history of this Parliament have there been such vital and urgent problems awaiting attention. If certain matters of urgency had not been submitted to the House for discussion, probably the present sessional period would have come to a conclusion already. The submission of such matters assisted the Government to fill in time and to pad the programme.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), after having won three elections, not as the result of having presented a policy to the people, but as a result of accusing the Australian Labour party of having Communist sympathies, has become so arrogant, or lackadaisical or lazy, or has such complete control of the party of which he is a member, that he has not worried about bringing before the Parliament the important problems to which I refer. Where will we get to if we do not deal with those matters? Can the Government offer any excuse for not having submitted a worth-while programme to the House? There can be only one excuse. I suppose that some of the Supply for which the Government is seeking approval is required to pay for Ministers peregrinating around the world at the cost of approximately ?60,000. That is why a programme has not been presented to the Parliament. At times, a Cabinet meeting could have been held in Great Britain, or even in New York. One could not be held in Australia for quite a time because there were not sufficient Ministers in the country. As they returned, one by one, it was decided that it was necessary that the Parliament should meet again. But the Government has placed before the House a programme that does not take account of many matters that are of great importance to the country.
Recently, the Government gave large salary increases to public servants. I have no objection to its having done so, but I cannot understand its continued callousness and failure to consider people who are on lower incomes or who are in receipt of the age pension. The increases that were given to public servants would have gone a long way towards enabling the income of age pensioners to be increased. Public servants who are in the higher salary ranges have greater responsibility, but, i£ they are entitled to large increases, surely those persons in the lower income groups, including the age pensioners, should obtain similar increases, because the cost of living affects everybody. I know that many supporters of the Government are kind-hearted, but they are more interested in unrestricted private enterprise than in helping the people who pioneered Australia, and who made it possible for private enterprise to become so prosperous. Such people have been left by the wayside, without having received any consideration whatever.
Certain incidents have occurred in the House recently, during which certain honorable members have indulged in recrimination. I think that it has all been unnecessary. The Australian Labour party was responsible for the introduction of the industrial groups in order to attack the Communists. It was a further application of our policy to defend Australia against communism. But, in due course, certain outside bodies conceived the idea of using those groups for an entirely different purpose. Instead of their being a. potent weapon against communism, they became a .grave danger, not only to the Australian Labour party, but also to Australia as a whole. A gentleman named Santamaria decided that the industrial groups provided an excellent, means, not only of combating communism but also of forcing good Labour men to do certain things under threat that their future candidature would not be endorsed unless they did those things. Such a powerful influence should not be permitted to continue in this country. I have shown that the original idea of the groups was prostituted for the purpose that, the centre party supports. I mako this point, that the centre party has only one plank in its platform. As experienced politicians, we know that a platform should consist of a number of planks. The only plank in the centre party’s platform is to “:get” the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) . A platform consisting of only one plank will drift along on the ocean of politics. Occasionally, because it has no balance, it will be ‘diverted by strong currents, but ultimately, it will finish up amongst the driftwood from political wrecks of the past.
Tie Prime Minister recognizes the ability of our leader, and he knows that as long as we have our present leader he will have to watch his step. Nobody appreciates Dr. Evatt’s ability more than does the Prime Minister.
– Order ! The Leader of the Opposition should be referred to by his correct title.
– The Prime Minister is a very shrewd man, who acknowledges our leader’s ability. But certain speeches that have been made in this House, as well as the whole of the press, have attacked the right honorable member for Barton. He has been the victim of numerous skits in the daily press. During my political life, I cannot remember any other politician who has taken so much on the chin as our worthy leader. Nor has any man fought back so well. The right honorable member for Barton, after being submitted to a barrage of scandal and abuse, has displayed a degree of courage not equalled in the political history of this country.
– Perhaps the honorable member had better stop there.
– I have said all that is necessary for me to say in that connexion. I do not want to hear what a Victorian politician has to say about a New South Wales politician, or vice versa. I have endeavoured to show where the Labour party stands in this matter. It established the industrial groups for the purpose of combating communism. Yet the Prime Minister has won three general elections by accusing us of being Communists. Although men’s relationships sometimes alter after they enter political life, they still, usually, observe^ a certain code of honour. The Prime Minister stooped very low when he accused me and my colleagues of being Communists, in order to ;gain, and retain office. The practice of supporters of the Government of continually accusing honorable members on this side of the House of being Communists is greatly assisting the Communists. Events that have been occurring in this House lately. at the instigation of the centre party, are encouraging communism.
As I have pointed out, the Government’s unduly enthusiastic encouragement of private enterprise has led to the establishment of monopolies. Only recently, the overseas shipowners announced their intention to increase shipping freights by 10 per cent. That is only one instance of the effect of the Government’s policy. It is one that has come out into the open. Many monopolies are operating to-day. As the people are now better educated than in former time3, sooner or later they will revolt against huge commercial combines taking a rake-off in respect of every item of food and household requirements. To-day, young chaps have no opportunity - as they had in the past - to establish businesses and strike out for themselves. In the United States of America, probably the steel industry has more power than the Government of that country. It controls a very large proportion of American capital. In Australia, combines such as General Motors-Holden’s Limited have done much to force up the cost of living.
During the second-reading debate on the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement Bill 1955 in this House recently, we supported the introduction of a scheme under which money would be made available to persons to purchase homes on 5 per cent, deposit, to bear interest at the rate of 4£ per cent. The cost of a modest home to-day is approximately £3,000. Surely every member of this House realized the inadequacy of such a scheme. We can deal adequately with the housing problem only by bringing down the cost of building materials, and thus reducing the cost of housing. Why should timber, galvanized iron, and other materials that we need for housing continue to be exported? While the cost of houses continues to rise, young people will have very little chance of being able to pay off their housing loans. As matters stand, it will take a young couple the best part of 50 years to pay off homes that they buy on terms at to-day’s high prices. If they were overtaken by ill health, or suffered greatly reduced incomes due to an economic depression, they might not even own their homes then. They would then be 70 years old, and they would have the happy knowledge that a government in 1954 made a beautiful arrangement, whilst not keeping down the cost of .housing materials, whereby, paying off so much a quarter at 4£ per cent, interest, they could sit back and say, “ This is our home”. Of course, many houses being built to-day will probably need to be rebuilt 50 years hence. A wooden building, in order to be kept in condition, must be painted every five years. Whilst, in the. past, an average house could be painted for £50 or £60, to-day that cost is at least £200. If a house is to be preserved in proper order, it must be painted every five years.
All the experts, all those people who are supposed to know, have been telling us that we should decentralize, yet we find, in the face of all that advice, evidence of what seems to me to be the craziest idea a government ever conceived, that is, the building of a munitions factory in the city of Sydney. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) told us of the necessity for removing people and businesses from Sydney in the event of an atom bomb attack. In the face of all the scientific information that is available, the Government is expending £23,000,000 on a factory there, not quite in the heart of Sydney, but certainly within the boundaries of that city. Irrespective of whether it i3 being done by a Liberal government, an Australian Country party government, or a Labour government, can anybody who knows the situation to-day and has heard or read the advice to decentralize explain why this is being done ? Can the Government tell us who are the experts who advised it to build this factory in Sydney? As the Government has done something for which it has been criticized, it would be logical for the Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence Production (Sir Eric Harrison), or whoever is responsible, to inform the Parliament and the people of Australia who gave the advice and the basis for it. I am sure that the people of Australia must be not only alarmed, but flattened. Every day they read in the newspapers of the necessity for decentralization and yet, after being told how terrible is the atom bomb, they find the Government putting an essential and important unit of war equipment right in the heart of a city.
Great Britain and the United States of America are going to take uranium from Australia, convert it into atomic energy, and sell it back to us. The defence of Australia is most important, and if an atom bomb can be fired, say, from some island in the East to Australia, surely we should be getting to work and building equipment whereby we can fire back. America, to-day, is reducing the number of its troops and cutting down its navy, because American experts say that the air will be the most important medium of defence. I asked a question the other day on this subject, and I am very alarmed that we have manufactured and purchased certain types of aircraft to be used for the defence of Australia. Quite a number of those aeroplanes have crashed. The reasons for their crashing should be explained by the Minister. In the meantime, have we built sufficient aircraft to replace those that have crashed? Have we built an additional number of planes in order to defend Australia, quite apart from our arguments in Malaya and other places? If the worst comes to the worst, and it looks like coming to the worst, our final bastion of defence will be right here in Australia. Experiments are being conducted at the Long Range Weapons Testing Establishment at Woomera. Why should not Australia have the benefit of those experiments? Why should we not have the most adequate defence available? Those are matters which the people will want to know, irrespective of their politics. These matters hit right home with them. The atom bomb would have no more respect for a Liberal than it would have for a Labour man, or even a member of the middle party. These matters affect quite a number of people, particularly the younger people with young families, whose future they look forward to in peace if possible, and in adequate defence if peace is not possible.
I would like to know also the exact position of new Australians- in respect of the defence of this country and in training for it. I believe that they are training. But are we going to have the position that British and Australian born boys are to fight all over the world to defend Australia for men who are quite capable and physically fit to do their part and defend it on their own behalf. During the last war, while Australians were at the front other people came here and acquired their businesses, land, and positions. I do not believe in repetition, and it is no use emphasizing anything I have said. In the time at my disposal, I have taken the opportunity to place before this Parliament and the the people my views on that aspect of the debate which I think is the most interesting. I do not want to waste time by going into the details of all the subjects which have been discussed.
– While the Labour party has been obsessed with its own internecine strife, it has been bringing its party fights into the Parliament, taking up the time of the legislature and doing nothing to help the dignity of this place or to assist in the good government of Australia. Now the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Bruce) has given us a clue to the fact that the Labour party has failed to do anything about policy. The remarks make by the honorable member on the question of defence show that he is prepared, as is evidently the rest of his party, if one can judge by statements of members of the party, to let British people with two years national service training go to Malaya, Korea and other places and defend the people of this country. The honorable member is prepared to let the British people spend at least £30 a head on defence, while we are not able to expend the full amount of the budget because we have difficulties in getting people to work and in obtaining the goods necessary for defence. The Labour party apparently is quite prepared to continue its internal fight, and to do nothing to show the people that it has a policy or that it could be entrusted with government at this critical time. I suppose all times are critical to a degree, but perhaps the present is an especially critical time so far as defence and our economic situation are concerned.
The Labour party seems to have thrown overboard its socialization policy. It had an economic policy, which it put to the people, and which would quickly have broken Australia. At present I think that this Parliament should give consideration to what is called the balance of payments, which is the phrase used to indicate our earnings position in other countries. This year Australia will probably have a deficit of £200,000,000 in export receipts compared with import expenditure. Our export receipts are largely from rural products, but also include income from some other minor items, such as investments, gold production, migrant funds and the like. Those things constitute our export income, which is less than the amount that we are spending on imports, freights and insurance, and so on, to the extent of £200,000,000.
– Whose fault is that?
– As the honorable member for Grayndler asks me whose fault it is, I should like to outline some of the difficulties that this country is facing in keeping up its export income. Our exporters are probably concerned with rural industries mainly, with perhaps 10 per cent, of them engaged in manufacturing industries, and both primary and secondary industries are facing the same problems concerning their receipts from overseas. Competition is stronger overseas. We are receiving less income from wool and wheat, and we are finding trouble with other rural exports. I refer particularly to dairy products and dried fruits. In Australia we have built up an artificial cost of living and a high cost of production. Overseas purchasers are concerned with obtaining high-quality goods at the right price, and they have no regard for the cost of living or the cost of production in Australia. With a high cost of living and high cost of production in Australia, exporters are forced to sell their goods overseas at less than it costs to produce those goods. In the field of dairy products we are sell- ing butter and cheese on consignment, and we are forced to sell dried fruits at the best price we can obtain. Certain overseas countries are assisting their export trade in various ways. I am in formed that in West Germany the manufacturing interests can obtain assistance in three ways. First, the manufacturer can have refunded to him the cost of freight to the seaboard. Secondly, he can get the benefit of what are called export credits from overseas; in other words, he can be paid at once for his exports. Thirdly, he has a secret drawback from income tax to assist him. West Germany therefore is making itself felt in markets all over the world. In Australia we are fortunate with our wool industry, because we have almost a monopoly in that field. Australia is finding difficulty in selling its wheat overseas, but it has been sold. The same applies to our flour. I will touch on those items again later when dealing with the waterside problem. Our other industries are also finding difficulty in selling their products overseas. When we find that there is a deficit of £200,000,000 between imports and exports, then we should give close attention to this problem. This is not the worst year that we have experienced, because in 1951-52 the deficit was £582,000,000. That was the year in which import restrictions were first imposed in Australia.
There are a number of reasons for this economic problem. Not the least of them is the system of financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States. In 1945, some very distinguished economists in Australia produced some plans for Australia’s post-war reconstruction. They were men of brilliant minds, whose opinions were quoted all over the world. One of them was Dr. Coombs, the present governor of the Commonwealth Bank, who was then head of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction. He suggested - and his suggestion was supported by the other economists - that, having in mind the years of depression when there was severe unemployment in Australia, full employment was a necessity. The suggestion was that full employment could be assured by increasing the scope of Australia’s manufacturing industries, and by having a programme of works that could be commenced whenever it was thought necessary. Some very spectacular proposals were suggested in that regard. There were various plans for irrigation works, and. for construction works such as those that are now being undertaken by the Snowy Mountains Hydro - electric Authority. The Commonwealth and the States embarked on these schemes. As a. result, the Snowy Mountains scheme is now in full swing, and there are a large number of other, irrigation schemes in course of construction throughout Australia, particularly in> New South “Wales. Those works have been commenced,, but they have not been finished. Many millions of pounds are being spent on works without any return being received for the money. I shall mention, as an example the Warragamba Dam. It was originally estimated to cost £10,000,000. Later the estimate was. increased to £23,000,000, and I think that it has now risen to £30,000,000. Some: of these other irrigation schemes will be as costly as that. The original estimate- for the Snowy Mountains scheme was: £250,000,000. I think the estimate, now is about £400,00.0,000, and no one knows what will be. the. final cost.
It’ is. well known that Australia, is short of water and electric power, and in the sacred cause of producing power and ensuring water, supplies we have, started too many schemes, at once. We should have finished some of the schemes’. We should have: concentrated on some of the. most important ones’ and finished them-, and before starting’ on others- we should have considered the servicing operations, such as railways, roads and shipping. A good example of what should, have been done is’ to be found here in Canberra. Last week we had a debate in this House on the subject of roads, during which honorable, members were told that the road from Canberra to Cooma- is torn to pieces. We know that the railway from Queanbeyan to Cooma, which- services the Snowy Mountains scheme, is very light and is- not able to carry heavy loads. The Snowy Mountains, scheme was begun before- we had the communications to cope- with it. The Guthega-Munyang unit of the scheme-, which produces some thousands of kilowatts of electricity has. been- completed, find, the administrative buildings have been erected. We. did all that before we had roads or railways suitable- for servicing such a scheme. A tremendous burden is being put on our existing railways and roads while we are trying to finish, or are half-finishing, some of these spectacular schemes.
Everybody will agree that, whilst big schemes like dams or irrigation projects, and projects like the Snowy Mountains scheme, take out of the community a great proportion of the goods and materials that we need for the building of many other things,, including defence projects, they do not put anything back into the economy until’ they have been finished. In relation to this much.vaunted Guthega-Munyang power house we have a situation in which a small volume of water is held in a dam. The water level in the dam cannot, be lowered because a lower level would reduce the head for the turbo-generator. Therefore, the generator can run for only short periods while the water is running into the dam, and’ there is not much, water being run into it. So, for a few hour? a day, we get some thousands of kilowatts from this . first unit of the scheme. 1 do not think that that accretion of power will be noticed much, because the’ thermal generating stations produce a great many hundreds of thousands’ of kilowatts a day, which will be an important contribution to> our- power- situation. In fact, after a number of years and the expenditure of many millions of pounds, we have finished a part of the Snowy Mountains scheme which could well have waited another ten years for completion. Probably it was a good thing> from an- educational, point of view; to get started on some- project, but there were- more- urgent works that could have been done instead’. The planners in 1945 overlooked the fact that the strain of war had’ tora our railway facilities to pieces. It had worn out the sleepers and tracks, and had mack’ new rolling-stock imperative: I believe that in the States there to a bias against railways. I remember that that was the position in the New South- Wales Parliament. It: resulted from, attack by State politicians- based on. the losses incurred: by the State railways, and from the fact that trade- union leaders used to criticize the railway administration because the. railways were making an interest payment of £7,00.0,000 a year. The trade union leaders believed that the payment of that interest prevented members of. their unions from obtaining higher wages. Because of those two facts people were afraid, to put more capital into the railways. Actually^ in a developing country like Australia, railways ought not. to be expected, to pay their way, because they are- expected to do so many important things.
I think that it is not even now too late to re-cast work on some of the projects I have mentioned, select some that ought to be finished, and in the meantime get on with work on. our railway, shipping and road services. We know that the volume of interstate shipping traffic in- this country has decreased tremendously as a result of various factors on the waterfront. That decrease throws an impossible burden on the railways and the roads. The result is an enormous increase in freights and costs. The freight rate on a coastal ship operating between Sydney and the south coast of New South Wales, which used to be between 30s. and £2. a ton,, is now £10 a ton. Our present roads cannot stand up to the huge and weighty vehicles that now carry goods over them. We have a vicious circle, particularly in transport. We know that power in Australia costs three- times as- much as: it costs in other countries. We feel, however;, that the worst, tax- that we- have to face is: the inadequacy of our- transport to. meet the situation.
I wish now to quote a statement by Dr. Walker, a former senior. Treasury official who was engaged in the preparation of the Budget and also probably gave the Government advice about the. handling of credit in Australia. He. said -
The- fundamental reason for the present bad state of the roads is the inability of the coastal shipping services and the railways to handle the traffic which is most suited to those forms of transport. Consequently much heavy traffic has been diverted to the roads, at considerable extra cost to’ the community and involving the virtual’ destruction of our highways.
T believe now that the economists who planned all these projects in 19.45 made
A programme of industrial development becomes unbalanced when the truly basic industries which provide the primary support for our national’ income and our export income are starved for material resources and man-power.
Honorable members will recall that in 1952, as a result of the war, of the Labour Government’s policy and all this false planning and starting of ambitious projects which could not be finished, we were short of coal and steel in particular. Coal and steel are essential for the production of agricultural machinery and for the transport to carry agricultural products. That is to say, they are essential to our primary industries, which produce the greater part of our export income. Dr. Strong continued -
This raises the point of what are truly basic industries. No one will deny the inclusion of most of our rural industries, steel and coal. The industries servicing the rural industries, tarin machinery and fertilizer manufacture, also those which produce such materials as barbed wire and galvanised iron. Our railways are basic and any programme of expansion should not starve the development of these, either through shortages of steel, manpower, locomotives, rolling-stock and finance. However, from this point on the classification becomes difficult and contentious. To what extent motor cars, tractors and refrigerators are included, I am not prepared to comment. However, the Australian economy does appear to be somewhat distorted through the inclusion of too many industries under the classification of basic or essential.
My favourite illustration of the problem is the manufacture of barbed wire or galvanised iron (header-harvesters may have served the purpose) as compared to the manufacture of refrigerators. It is a queer position we are in, where, on the one hand, we have not been able to supply the local requirements of the farmer - in fact we have probably met little more than half the effective demand in recent years - yet we produce these materials at less than half the cost of the imported article. At the other extreme the refrigerator industry is protected by tariff to the extent of between 40 and 50 per cent., against the product of the United Kingdom.
Our hire purchase system puts tremendous pressure upon the refrigerator industry in this country. The tremendous increase of hire purchase business during the last few years has released a great amount of spending power among the public, and the consequence has been that the public have bought washing machines, refrigerators and other similar household goods. We have now reached the stage where we find people who have to live in two rooms, but who have those two rooms full of washing machines, refrigerators and expensive furniture, because those articles can be bought on hire purchase. However, such people are unable to obtain houses which are really necessary, because a proportionate amount of spendingpower has not been devoted to expanding our heavy industries which produce the steel, bricks, cement and so on, which are the materials used in building houses. The lack of expansion of those industries also has an adverse affect on our rural industries, which depend heavily on the important goods that they produce.
At the present time, the budget is being prepared for the forthcoming financial year, and financial arrangements are being made for that year. Government supporters, unlike the members of the Opposition, hope that this year’s budget will continue the tax reductions that we experienced last year and the year before. Last year, taxes were reduced by about £40,000,000, and the previous year substantial reductions were also made. I suggest that a most important reform in our financial affairs, and one that would ultimately mean further reductions, would be to place upon the State governments responsibility for raising their own funds. One of the principles in which we all believe is that those who have the right to spend money should also have the responsibility of raising it. The present financial relationship between the Commonwealth and the States merely results in the taxpayers having to pay for the irresponsibility of State governments.
I do not know the position in States other than New South Wales, but I do know that the New South Wales Labour Government had hidden reserves of about £40,000,000 at the end of the last two or three financial years. That money was put away in the State’s stocking. The New South Wales Government entered upon an orgy of spending just before the end of the last financial year in order to get rid of its surplus money, so that it could approach the Commonwealth for more. We have been told that the next conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers will take place on the 20th June, and we can expect that New South Wales and the other States will immediately try to dissipate their remaining money so that they can claim huge sums from the Commonwealth at that conference. Just before the end of last financial year, New South Wales bought up large stocks of Cyprus pine timber and other goods, thus depriving private buyers of those important commodities, merely in order to run down its financial balances in preparation for a raid on the Commonwealth Treasury. The Australian Government has to suffer the odium of raising money by taxation, but the States just come to Canberra and ask for the amount they think they need and the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) is so human, generous and decent that he cannot resist what he believes to be their just demands.
As a consequence of these arrangements, there is financial irresponsibility among the States of Australia. The many demands that have been made for a reform of Commonwealth and State financial relationships are well founded, and we in this Parliament should do what we can to see that the States are made responsible for raising the money that they spend. If we do not take some action along those lines, the States will continually increase their demands for money, and waste more and more of it to the detriment of both the taxpayer and the country. Moreover, this type of financial irresponsibility increases costs within the community.
High wages are not the cause of our high cost of living, but the consequence of it. In saying that, I except the foolish judgment of Mr. Justice Foster who added a £1 a week permanently to certain wage3 as what he called a “ prosperity loading “. because of the high price of wool. I have heard people say that if the workers would work an additional four hours a week, or take less money for their work, we would soon ameliorate our cost difficulty. But it is obvious that the escalator wage increases under our arbitration legislation have been caused by high costs, and, therefore, the wages that are at present being paid are a consequence of high costs rather than a cause of them. Thi3 Parliament, which will rise in two or three weeks, should tell the Government that it must consider our financial problems, particularly those concerned with outbalance of payments and our costs of production.
At this stage, it is pertinent to consider certain remarks made during a debate in the New South “Wales Legislative Council, initiated by Sir Norman Kater when he was retiring from the service of that body. Mr. J. J”. Maloney, a Minister of the New South Wales Labour Government, said - ivo responsible trade unionist or trade union leader in Australia would disagree with the need for a reduction of costs. In my experience, the complaint of trade unionists has always been that costs ave too high. The policy of the trade union movement for a considerable time has been to increase production, and ever since it came into being in Australia its policy has been a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay and that policy has never altered.
It has been reported that recently thu British trade union movement sent delegates to America to investigate the reasons for the high American standard of living, and why the productivity of American industry is so great. No doubt as a result of the investigations of those delegates, one of the great motor plants in England is now putting in an automotion line, by which automobiles will be manufactured almost wholly by machinery in huge factories which will be attended by one or two men. Therefore, honorable members will perceive that the British trade union movement is attempting to reduce costs. The Australian trade union movement would greatly benefit Australia if it attempted to do the same, and. incidentally, follow the principles laid down by Mr. -Maloney.
I now desire to refer to the work that is being done on the Australian waterfront. Ship loading rates have been falling for a number of years. Figures compiled in about 1952 indicate that for the Port of Sydney interstate trips were reduced from 4,500 in 1928-29 to about 2,000 in 1949-50.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the Standing Orders to make some reference during the Supply debate to present events in Victoria, and to the events which led to some members of the Labour party sitting in this corner of the House. However, before doing so, I should like to make reference to one or two points that were raised by the honorable member for
Macarthur ,(Mr. Jeff Bate). He touched on one of the real anomalies in our economy when he pointed out that many young people experience great difficulty in obtaining finance with which to buy a home, but no difficulty at all in obtaining consumer .goods for that home, such as refrigerators, washing machines, and radio sets. The correction of that anomaly is one of the most serious matters to which we could direct our minds.
As a result of the operations of hire purchase companies, unlimited funds seem to be available for the purchase of these goods. These mammoth organizations, which have grown up in the last fewyears, seem to have tremendous funds at their disposal and seem, because of the high interest rates that they offer, to be attracting all the money available for investment. The Australian Guarantee Corporation Limited, one of the largest hire purchase companies in Victoria, is issuing £2,000,000 worth of first mortgage debentures. Just a few months ago it obtained another £3,000,000 from the public by way of mortgage debentures. Thus, it has obtained £5,000,000 from the public in the last few months. It is unfortunate that very little has been done to remedy this anomaly. It is high time that this Government did something about it, so that young people could buy homes on a small deposit.
It is noteworthy that the ColemanBarry section of the Victorian Labour party has directed its attention to this very real and pressing problem. In the policy which it has placed before the people of Victoria it has set out positive and constructive methods of making available additional finance so that the average person may purchase that basic necessity, a home. A positive plan has been drawn up, largely as a result of the efforts of the energetic and capable young State member for Ivanhoe, Mr. Ludy, and it is clear that the Coleman-Barry section will be able to do something practical, and provide finance for people who wish to purchase their homes.
The same group has made another revolutionary advance in this field. Mr. Barry, in his policy speech, made - for the first time in this country - reference to a home advisory centre -which would advise young people in the handling .of what is, in most cases, the largest financial transaction of their lifetime. Thehome advisory centre would provide an architect .and a master builder and they could advise intending home owners on how to obtain materials and finance. The home advisory centre might go a littlefurther and provide practical assistance for people who are building their own homes. In the newer suburbs of Melbourne, and probably in other parts of Australia also, energetic and capable young people may be seen overcoming lack of funds by knuckling down and carrying out a co-operative building effort. They include many new arrivals in this country and deserve the greatest commendation for their initiative and enterprise. They are making a worthwhile contribution to the community life of Australia. This revolutionary change, which Mr. Barry and Mr. Coleman have promised the people of Victoria, should be taken a little further, and follow the practice, in some Scandinavian countries, of building with government assistance. Such a centre could provide plans and detailed technical advice which would help the amateur to build his own home.
I should like now to refer to the reasons why we seven members of the Labour party are now sitting in the corner, why we have repudiated the blight of Evattism, and why we are carrying on here representing what we claim is the true and legitimate Labour party in Victoria. I think it is generally acknowledged that the Labour party has, in the course of its service to the people of this country, built up some fine traditions. One of these traditions, which was both attractive and a source of strength, was that it was a democratically controlled body. Until recent events in Victoria, the Labour party was - I use the past tense of the verb deliberately - essentially a body democratically controlled by the rank and file, the ordinary members, those unnamed heroes who do all the hard work during elections and who are primarily responsible for sending Labour members to this House. Those people really controlled the
Labour party. Through their branches* they elected delegates to the State electorate councils, which elected delegates to- the highest State bodies* the- annual State conferences, and these appointed the executive to administer the party’s affairs and decide its policy. The policy-making and administrative body was directly under the control of the rank and file of the organization. It was from that democratic form of control, which existed in the past, that the Labour party really derived its strength.
In Victoria, the democratically elected State executive, which was elected at the annual State conference of the Labour party last year, was summarily dismissed from office some time ago. Some people did not like the policy of that executive and some of the things it was doing, so they decided to get rid of it. But they did not attempt to get rid of it by democratic means. They did not attempt to do so at the annual conference of the Australian Labour party, at which all the members would have been entitled to cast their votes in a democratic manner. They did not attempt to do that because they knew that, in, such circumstances-, they would have no hope of getting rid of a democratically elected body. They knew that they represented a small and insignificant minority of extreme leftwingers who had no hope of getting any substantial measure of support from the rank and file. They got rid of the democratically elected State executive by unjust totalitarian methods. I put it to the House that it was because some members of the Labour party in Victoria would not accept those unjust, dishonest and totalitarian methods that the Labour party in that State was split and driven asunder. The clear responsibility for that state of affairs rests on the people who were not prepared to use the proper, constitutional and democratic procedures of the Australian Labour party.
The federal executive of the Australian Labour party, by a small majority - seven members to five - decided to conduct a peoples’ court or a Moscow trial. No specific charges- were laid against the democratically elected Victorian execu tive. No: mention at all was; made of the industrial groups, which have* since been disbanded. No charges were made against them. No opportunity was given to cross-examine those who were giving evidence^ No right of reply- was given to those who were being pilloried. Of course, the decision of the federal executive to get rid of the democratically elected Victorian executive was a foregone conclusion. The federal executive of the Australian Labour party has split and wrecked the party in Victoria. The people of Victoria will have an opportunity to express their opinion of it next Saturday, and I have no doubt that the people will express, in a very definite manner, their very strong disapproval of what has been done. In addition to dismissing the democratically elected, legitimate Victorian executive, the federal executive held a new conference of the Australian Labour party, a bogus conference, to elect a new Victorian executive. In order to ensure that the small group of left-wingers, the left-wing militants, would have control of the new State executive, the federal executive tore up and discarded the rules of the Australian Labour party. I find it very difficult to understand how men like the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) who have great regard for democratic procedures can possibly justify in their consciences a deliberate disregard of a long-established rule in order to achieve the result which has been achieved.
It is well known that, as the result of a motion proposed at an Australian Labour party conference some years ago by the honorable member for Bendigo, the motion being seconded by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), itwas decided that delegates to annual Australian Labour party conferences in Victoria would have to be members of the Australian Labour party for at least two years in order to qualify as delegates. That was a very desirable and a very sensible rule. But it was one of the rules which the federal executive disregarded in the totalitarian, methods which it adopted to sack the legitimately elected Victorian executive of the party. The federal, executive decided to hold a new conference to elect the new State executive, and it suspended the operation of tha i: rule so that certain people could be admitted to the conference. Under the now procedure, there was no need for those people to be members of the Labour party. The federal executive, without authority, suspended that vital and important rule and said, “Non-members of the party can sit”. In addition, the federal executive allowed unfinancial unions to send delegates to the conference. That was another step to ensure that the little group of left-wing militant unions would have undoubted and complete control of the new State executive, regardless of the wishes of the rank and file Labour supporters.
– That was why nonunionists voted.
– One of the members of the federal executive, who also sits on the Australian Council of Trades Unions, is not a trade-unionist. Although public attention was drawn to that fact, he steadfastly refused to join a, union in Western Australia and, as far as I know, he still persists in his refusal to do so. We see the series of events. The rules were disregarded. A vital rule regarding membership of the Australian Labour party was thrown overboard. Unfinancial unions such as the ‘Clothing Trades Union in Victoria were allowed to send delegates to the conference. Unions such as the Australian Workers Union, which has disaffiliated from the Australian Labour party, were allowed to reaffiliate at a moment’s notice so that they could send delegates to the conference.
Let me show the House what a farce was this special conference which elected the new Cain-Stout executive in Victoria and is now proceeding to wreck the Labour party. The Waterside Workers Federation, a Communist - controlled organization in Victoria, sent delegates to the special conference. Those delegates were elected, not by the rank-and-file members of the federation, but by the Communist-controlled executive. A Communist body appointed and sent delegates to the Australian Labour party conference. But that was too hot for Mr. Chamberlain, Mr. Lovegrove and the credentials committee. They said, “ That is too hot altogether. We will not admit the six delegates appointed by the Communist executive of the Waterside Workers Federation”. They recommended that the conference should not admit those delegates, but the conference had got out of hand at that stage. The moderate people and the responsible people who were there to give it the cloak of respectability had lost control. The conference took the bit between its teeth and accepted the delegates appointed by the Communist executive of the Waterside Workers Federation, in defiance of the recommendaiton of the credentials committee.
I have mentioned those matters to show that the new Evatt-Stout-Cain executive in Victoria was brought into being as the result of a deliberate tearing-up of the rules, democratic traditions and constitution of the Australian Labour party. I put it to the House that that is a clear example of the use of totalitarian methods. It is a clear illustration also of the fact that a democratic body, such as the Australian Labour party in Victoria was, is being corroded and corrupted and whiteanted by totalitarian methods. It was essentially in the interests of this country that some people should resist these actions and make a stand on the principles of decency, justice, honesty, democracy and constitutional procedure, and refuse to bow to the introduction of totalitarian methods into what was once a great democratic institution.
But that is not the whole story. The old, democratically elected executive was improperly dismissed, and, in addition, was denied the right of appeal to what amounts, in the Australian Labour party organization, to the high court of that body, the federal conference of the Australian Labour party. That was another flagrant disregard of fundamental principles and decency and democratic traditions that had previously prevailed in the Australian Labour party. When the federal executive members walked into Victoria and “sacked” the old executive, the latter said, in effect, “ If you allege these things and you want to dismiss us, let us appeal to the highest tribunal in the Australian Labour party, the conference which is to be held at Hobart soon, and we will be glad to accept the decision of that body “. That was a fair and democratic attitude; but these gentlemen decided that they had to deprive the old, legitimate Victorian Australian Labour party executive of even the opportunity of appeal, and they moved the date of the federal conference to a date subsequent to that upon which the new executive was brought into being. Thereby they effectively denied to the old Victorian executive the right of appeal which is laid down in the Australian Labour party constitution as a fundamental right in disputes of this kind.
It is interesting to note in that regard that in certain litigation which took place in Victoria as a result of these matters, when Mr. Woodhouse, one of the members of the Victorian central executive, was improperly and unconstitutionally dismissed from office and initiated certain legal proceedings which came before His Honour, Mr. Justice Martin, in the Supreme Court of Victoria in February last, His Honour, in the course of a lengthy judgment, referred in a shocked tone to this denial of this right of appeal to these people who had been improperly dismissed. What the learned judge said in this connexion is worth quoting. No one could suggest that he was in any way an interested party to these proceedings. His Honour said -
Since, as I have said, the present delegates to Federal Conference were appointed by the Victorian annual conference and are not involved in any way with the acts or omissions of the Central Executive, the only feasible explanation of the resolutions to withdraw them and to substitute others chosen by the Special Conference and to postpone the Federal Conference until that has been done seems to be to deny the Central Executive the appeal which the rules provide them until it is too late to be effective.
Those are very significant words from the learned judge - that the effect of these things seemed to him - to deny the Central Executive the appeal which the rules provide them until it is too late to bo effective.
In another part of the judgment, His Honour said - [ feel that a great injustice has been done to the Plaintiff by the resolutions postponing the annual conference of the Federal body and calling for the election of new Victorian delegates to that conference by the special conference.
Those were important matters.’ They involved the denial of natural justice; and the complete overthrow of constitutional and democratic procedure by- a body which, in the past, prided itself upon its democratic procedure. As I mentioned previously, these matters were of such a serious nature that responsible people in the community could not allow them to go unchallenged in the light of the fate of other countries which enjoyed democratic rule until they became whiteanted and corroded by communism. I refer to some of those splendid little democratic countries of Eastern Europe, such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Czechoslovakia, which had a fine democratic tradition and enjoyed democratic institutions but which are now ground down under the heel of Soviet tyranny and with every vestige of principle and every right of choice to decide how to live and govern themselves all gone. I put to the House that those conditions have gone as the result of the introduction of totalitarian methods in those countries. I say also that it is important that the beginnings of those totalitarian methods, the first steps whereby the foundations of democracy are white-anted and undermined, are the vital steps which have to be resisted. I am confident that the people of Victoria respect and will support the attitude of members of the Labour party in that State and will not tolerate or support in any way the introduction of these totalitarian and undemocratic methods in the Labour party, I am certain thai the people of Victoria will support the stand which has been taken by members who sit in this corner of the House and by the Coleman-Barry group in their State.
– Time will tell.
– Time will tell, as the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Lemmon) says. I notice that the honorable member is eager to interrupt the debate.
– Order! I call the honorable member for St. George and also the honorable member for Yarra to order.
– This little disturbance has been caused by the honorable member for St. George, who persists in interjecting.
– He had to change his pants every time .the “ Commos.” went into his office.
– Order !
– I agree with the honorable member for St. George that “time will tell”. When this “ rigged “ conference was called by the federal executive in defiance of the constitution of the Australian Labour party, the rules were torn up and all these illegal and improper things were done with a purpose. That purpose was achieved. It was to set up a new executive of the Labour party in Victoria, a. body dominated by .a little group of left wing militant unionists, who are all practising Marxists. They are the people who control and dominate the new Stout-Cain executive in Victoria, although there are some moderate members attached to that body. But those few people, whose names are respected, provide only a veneer of respectability. The real and effective control of the new Stout-Cain Australian Labour party executive in Victoria rests with this little group of militan t Marxists, who will determine the direction in which Australian Labour party policy will go in that State, because they are people who. unfortunately for the Labour party, have been recognized as members of the group which, in this House, sit behind the right honorable member for Barton.
– That is the honorable member’s theme song.
– It may be, but this is a most important matter. I can understand the honorable member for St. George not being happy about having the facts placed before him.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Earlier to-day this House witnessed the spectacle of the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition - or perhaps I should call him the acting leader, in the absence of the right honorable :member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) - using this bill as a vehicle -to conduct » smear campaign against two worthy citizens of Australia, who, I am happy and proud to say, subscribe to the policy of the Australian Country party. In order to smear those two gentlemen, -the honorable member for Melbourne, -who claims to abhor the Communists more than doe? any other man in Australia, used a Communist publication as his authority. When we look at that publication, we find how despicable and how untruthful are some of the statements it contains. Why is the honorable member for Melbourne conducting such a campaign? The answer, I think, is very clear. It i; because he is adhering to the policy adopted by the Leader of the Opposition and determined originally by a nonunionist gentleman outside this Parliament. That gentleman has been referred to by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke). The honorable member for Melbourne has placed ‘himself in a position from which it is most difficult to extricate himself. I repeat that he has used this Supply Bill as a vehicle to smear two gentlemen who have not the opportunity to reply to him in this chamber. What do we find ? This Communist rag-
– It is his bible.
– As the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) says, it is the bible of the honorable member for Melbourne. It claims that a Mr. Allnutt, a former member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly for Mildura, and a respected leader of the Australian Country party, joined in the criticism of the Government. I am most reliably informed that Mr. Allnutt has not lived in that part of Victoria for a considerable number of years; that he has never belonged to the Swan Hill branch of the Australian Country party; and that he is not the president of the party in that area as this rag claims. The honorable member for Melbourne also used this publication as his authority to drag through the dust the name of one of the finest men in the wheat-growing industry in Australia. I refer to Mr. H. K. Nock. The honorable member said that Mr. Nock had been at a meeting with Jim Healey, the notorious waterside worker, and self-confessed Communist. However, we find, on reading through this filthy publication that Mr. Nock is credited with only fire small lines.
– He was there.
– The honorable na ember has been in many places in which he would not have Hiked to be seen. The words ^credited to Mr. Nock are -
We must ibo realists. Exports are ‘down. Our markets ‘have declined, it agree we .need more markets.
What is wrong with that? There is nothing in .those words that would give the honorable member for Melbourne .the privilege of .coming in here and claiming that Mi1. Nock is associated with the Communist party, nor has he any right, by the same .token, to claim that the Australian Country party is associated with communism.. I am more than surprised that the honorable member for Melbourne should adopt this attitude, particularly when he has repeatedly, to your own personal ‘knowledge, Mr. Deputy .Speaker, claimed in this House - and outside of it - that his abhorrence of communism is as great, if not greater, than that of any other person in Australia. Yet he uses this Communist rag as his authority to say what he has said to-day ! There is only one reason why he would do such a thing as that. Because of his adherence to the policy laid down by Mr. Chamberlain, a non-unionist, and by the right honorable member for Barton, he now finds himself in a position from which he cannot extricate himself. That was clearly demonstrated to-day in a previous debate. The honorable member has attacked the industrial .groupers and the secret ballot, but away back in March, 1951, one of his present supporters, Mr. Dougherty, of the Australian Workers Union, said very plainly that there was plenty of evidence of meetings being swayed by Communist tactics. Then on the ‘25th August, 19’50, the honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters), in the Labour ‘.Call said -
If ever a properly conducted ballot was held for executive positions in the N.S.W. branch of -the Clerks’ Union, the A.L.P. group candidates would ‘he returned with overwhelming majorities.
– And they were.
– To-day, the honorable member for Melbourne who has just interjected says that the Australian Labour party groups are no good. He is trying to climb on the band-wagon by making out that it is his section of the Labour party that has done a wonderful job. If the honorable member is going to fight the “ Corns “ .he should not use them to smear honorable and respected citizens of Australia.
Then we find that the honorable member for Melbourne, in an endeavour to bolster up the case for Labour, referring to the defence programme and citing fantastic amounts that he claims were spent by the Labour Government on defence. He said that Labour had never voted against any defence ^expenditure. It may not have done so directly but I recall that not very long ago, Labour members of the Parliament, until they were instructed by their executive to do the right thing, held up the introduction of the National Sen-ice Training Scheme for a period of sixteen weeks. In the final analysis, the inauguration of that scheme was held up for nine .months. The honorable member stated that £3,600.<000 had been spent by the Labour Government on defence; but when we tried to nadi him down, by way of interjection, as to how that was spent, he brushed the matter aside. ‘The only time that money could have been spent was during the war. I am not going into a discussion of defence expenditure during the war, but if that figure relates to war expenditure, there is every reason why is should have been spent.
The honorable member stated that Labour had raised this money without having to seek loans from London or New York. He said that every Australian loan had been fully subscribed. That, may be so, but what measures were employed to ensure that the loans would be filled? Capital issues control prevented people from putting their money anywhere but into Commonwealth loans. Since then, with the return to a peacetime economy, .the Government has allowed the people to invest their money wherever they wish. Then the honorable gentleman jumped back to 1938 and read from the Melbourne Herald of that time. He stated that the weakest link in the defence chain was then the Australian Cabinet.
– That was what Sir Keith Murdoch said.
– I do not care who it was. That was the time when one of the honorable member’s colleagues, now the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), stated that he would not give a threepenny bit towards the defence programme, and that comment was supported by the whole rank and file of the Australian Labour party. They fought the government of the day in all its moves to get the defence programme under way.
Let us look at the figures and see how much money was expended. I have looked through the budget papers for the years from 1946 to the present day. When the honorable member for Melbourne referred to sums of £1,000,000,000 and £1,500,000,000, he was lumping together the whole of the expenditure on the services, including expenditure in connexion with defence production, and war and repatriation services. They were not sums of money which had been expended on the defence programme, as he would have the House believe. The honorable gentleman, in his research, did not take the trouble to check those figures, because the actual position is that in the years between 1946 and 1950, the Labour Government expended £329,000,000 on defence, including the services connected with the forces. This present Government, including the estimate for the current year of £200,000,000, will have expended £763,000,000 on defence. If honorable members opposite want to lump the whole of the expenditure together, as the honorable member for Melbourne did earlier, it will be found that this Government has expended £500,000,000 more than the previous Labour Government expended between the years 1946 and 1949, the years in which Labour was defeated.
– What has the Government got for it?
– At least we have something better than the Labour Government had. Going back into the past,
I find that General Blarney, as he then was, as Chief of Staff, and other heads of the services, as late as March, 1949, told the government of the day, and also the people, that our defences were in a shocking state. Nevertheless, the government of the day did not lift a finger to do anything about the position. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. When this Government endeavoured, soon after its election to office, to introduce national service with the idea of training a reserve of men for defence, the Labour party refused to support it. The hostile, Labourdominated Senate held up the Government’s legislation, as I said earlier, for sixteen weeks, until the members of the Opposition in this Parliament were advised by their bosses outside to support the legislation. Their lack of support in the early stages had the effect of holding up the defence programme for a period of nine months in all.
I thought that it was rather strange that the honorable member for Melbourne should have picked on the subject of defence in this debate. I was expecting him to deal with repatriation, or some such subject. The records show that when the Labour party had the opportunity, during that wonderful golden age which they talk about, to do something for the defence of the country, they did absolutely nothing. In the first year after this Government came to office, it raised defence expenditure from £40,000,000 to £1S0,000,000.
– What about the depreciation of the currency?
– We will take that into consideration, if the honorable member wishes, but working on the Labour party’s own figures, it will be found that the record of this Government, in relation to defence expenditure, is far better than that of the Labour Government in the four years between 1945 and 1949.
– That was Evatt’s fault.
– I take it the honorable member is referring to the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt). If he is of that opinion, I am quite prepared to agree with him.
I refer now to a matter to which I hope the Government will give very serious consideration in the near future. During the past two or three years it has been the aim of the Government to encourage trade missions to visit the Far-East Asian youn tries with a view to increasing trade where trade is already established, or to look for new markets where none exist at present. I have had the pleasure of talking with the members of some of those missions and they have told mc that one of the big problems, as far as South-East Asia, particularly, is concerned, is finance. Importers in those countries who wish to buy our goods are not able to meet the terms that the Australian exporters see fit to lay down. I have in mind the case of a big firm in Thailand which acted as agent for the Thai Government. It wanted five-year terms, but the Australian manufacturer concerned could not see his way clear to grant such terms. I understand that there is in England an organization known as the Export Credits Guarantee Department, which Ls conducted by the British Government. I have not had much opportunity to study this matter, and the only literature I have looked at. has been a very small booklet, but it appears that the British Government has a scheme whereby exporters are guaranteed against any fall in the currency of the importing country owing to internal trouble, or market restrictions that may be applied, and other matters that may concern very seriously the exporter, should the position in relation to the market country change after the malling of the agreement. I understand that the Australian Government is considering this matter. Tb.p sooner a decision is reached, the better it will be, particularly for some of our secondary exporting industries.
As we all know, so far as the Australian primary industries are concerned, a branch of the Commonwealth Bank makes advances to primary producers, hut nothing along the same lines is provided for the assistance of the secondary industries. Those industries must rely wholly on the financial arrangements which they are able to make with organizations, such as insurance companies and private banks. I hope that the Government will give this matter early and earnest consideration and that, if it is able to help the exporters, it will make an announcement in that respect as soon as possible. The practice that has been followed by the British Government over a period of years should be an example for us to work out a formula.
I do not propose to take advantage of the scope given in this debate to refer to some of the matters that have been dealt with by honorable members opposite.
– What about shipping freights ?
– That matter can be handled quite well by the people who are dealing with it. There are certain ways of handling it. I suggest that if the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) would lend his good offices and put forward some constructive suggestions, he would do a lot better than by trying to shoot at the Government over a position that has not yet developed properly. So far as this Government is concerned, in relation to shipping freights, trade and everything else, it has made unprecedented strides. I am still of the opinion that something will come of this shipping freights business and that the result will not be detrimental to the primary exporters of this country.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Stewart) adjourned.
Message received from the Senate intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the House of Representatives in this bill.
The following bills were returned from the Senate, without amendment: -
Hide and Leather Industries Legislation Repeal Bill 1955.
Woo! Realization (Distribution of Profits) Bill 1955.
House adjourned at 10.41 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
These figures include the major shipyards engaged in merchant shipbuilding, and the Cockatoo Dock and Engineering .Company Limited, which has carried out a certain amount of merchant ship work including machinery in addition to naval construction. They do not include small ship repair and boat building yards nor the Williamstown Naval Dockyard which is engaged solely on naval work.
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following replies to the honorable member’s questions: -
r asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has furnished the following replies to the honorable member’s questions : -
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has furnished the following replies to the honorable member’s questions: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 May 1955, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1955/19550524_reps_21_hor6/>.