House of Representatives
26 May 1955

21st Parliament · 1st Session



Mir. Speaker (Hon. Archie1 Cameron) took the chair at! 10.30 a.m.,. and read prayers:

page 1109

QUESTION

TELEPHONE SERVICES

Mr HULME:
PETRIE, QUEENSLAND

– I address- a question to the: Postmaster-General. In making trunk-line calls,, particularly at certain times on Sundays^ there, is considerable delay,, up to. 11 minutes in some cases, before, the- exchange answers the’ originating call.. Under such circumstances, how is it that the traffic can be- registered on which is based the number, of telephonists operating at a particular time? Can; the Minister inform the: House why. when there cannot: be. an immediate connexion in a trunk-line call;, the caller is called first, irrespective of whether the person called is available-, or whether that; person’s telephone is. engaged? Would it not be- logical, to expect the caller to. be available and,, therefore^, to- make the first contact, with the person called? There has- been considerable complaint about this matter: in Brisbane and! elsewhere^

Mr ANTHONY:
Postmaster-General · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– The number of telephonists’ engaged to answer calls is based on the general average of calls made, taking into account delay in answering calls’ and’ so forth. In Brisbane recently, the number of telephonists employed at the central exchange was increased in order to overcome the difficulty mentioned by the honorable member. The practice with regard to calls is that if the person called is not. available when the.1 exchange gets through, to his number,, the caller is called,, on the. assumption that he will be waiting, for the call and, if th-3: other person is. not ready to: take the. call, will bear the: inconvenience of. waiting, until the- other person can be. contacted..

page 1109

QUESTION

TELEVISION

Mr MAKIN:
STURT, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

-Will the: Postmaster.General indicate; the: basis- on; which television reception licences: will, be issued? Will, they be incorporated in broadcast listeners’ licences.?. Can. the Minister say at this juncture whether the. introduction of.’ television, will involve an increase, of the cost, of listeners? licences.?:

Mr ANTHONY:
CP

– The. terms; and conditions, under which television, licences will be issued have. not yet been determined. by Cabinet:

page 1109

LAND SETTLEMENT OF

page 1109

EX-SERVICEMEN

Me. TURNBULL. - I. address a question, to the- Minister for: the Interior.. By way of explanation, I visited Robinvale, in Victoria,, last, Friday,, and was shown letters addressed to ex-servicemen from the Soldier Settlement Commission of Victoria which stated definitely that the Commonwealth basis for the valuation, of dried fruit growing blocks in the area was the 1954. market; value,, less 15 per cent.. Has the Commonwealth made such a. decision? What further, information can the Minister give about the matter’?

Mr KENT HUGHES:
Minister for the Interior · CHISHOLM, VICTORIA · LP

– The- information which, has apparently been issued, by the State is not in. line with the decision of the Australian Government. At present I have- not full information on this matter, but I shall obtain it. immediately and shall provide the honorable member with it, to-day if necessary on the adjournment.

page 1109

QUESTION

HIRE PURCHASE FINANCE.,

Mr HAYLEN:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Is the Treasurer a ware that finance, houses and time payment organizations are seeking loans to the extent of £150,000,000 on the local money market at a higher’ interest rate than the ruling bank interest rate ? Does he think that is dangerous to the. prospects of. future Commonwealth loans which will come on. to the market ? Is he also aware of the practice among trading banks including the Commonwealth trading bank, of advancing, sums to these credit and. time payment organizations- because of. the short term and the return?. Is that dangerous, in view of the fact that, the money should be applied, to housing’?

Sir ARTHUR FADDEN:
Treasurer · MCPHERSON, QUEENSLAND · CP

– The honorable member- has raised a- very important point. There is no doubt whatever that the activities of finance houses and hire purchase organizations are inter.fering; with Government loan’ raising, and also diminishing the current accounts’ of the. trading banks, themselves: The Australian! Government is powerless, to; do anything in connexion with hire purchase organizations as that is a State responsibility. The matter has been set down on the agenda of the next conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers.

page 1110

QUESTION

GYPSUM BUILDING MATERIAL

Mr ROBERTON:
RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES

– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Interior. By way of explanation, may I say that there is great public interest throughout Australia, and Papua and New Guinea, in the new gypsum processes which are likely to revolutionize building and construction. Will the Minister accept all the photographs and documents in my possession concerning this new basic industry? Will he have a thorough investigation made into the potential value of this industry to Australia? Will he assist in every way firms like Sir Lindsay Parkinson (Australasia) Proprietary Limited, Sydney, to procure the necessary plant and equipment for the establishment of this new industry in the States where unlimited deposits of gypsum rock are available?

Mr KENT HUGHES:
LP

– This particular method, I understand, is a British patent and the company has a licence for it in Australia. Representations have been made to the Department of Works, and that department is investigating the matter. We are favorably impressed by a number of features of the method, but we are not quite certain of the actual cost compared with the cost of normal construction. The matter is being fully discussed by officers of the Department of Works, and I understand that if the process proves satisfactory - as probably it will be - there is a firm in Canberra prepared to set up the necessary machinery for the manufacture of the gypsum blocks. I am not aware of the details myself, but I can assure the honorable member that full investigations are being made and I shall inform him of the results when those investigations are finalized.

page 1110

QUESTION

CATTLE

Mr RIORDAN:
KENNEDY, QUEENSLAND

– My question is directed to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. Does the Government propose to pay a bounty on all meat exported during the coming meat export season ? Will this bounty meet the wishes of the cattle growers, and will the subsidy make up the loss of £11 per head being suffered by the cattle producers as stated by the President of the United Graziers Association? Will the Government subsidize local consumers at the same rate?

Mr McEWEN:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · MURRAY, VICTORIA · CP

– The Government intends to propose to the Parliament that it approve an arrangement under which a bounty on export beef will be paid, for at least the first three months of the current export season. The amount of the bounty will be calculated to bring the return to producers up to the minimum guaranteed return under the long-term meat agreement, and the effect of the proposal will be that the United Kingdom, in the terms of the agreement, will meet the cost of the payment. There will not be any payment to Australian consumers, because, owing to the operation of the ordinary forces of competition in the area from which beef is exported, they will obtain their beef at the lowest price provided for in current circumstances in the long-term meat agreement between the United Kingdom and Australia. As I stated once before, this condition is not likely to exist in the southern States of Australia where the great centres of population are situated, because the present price of beef, on the hoof and in the shops, in the southern States is substantially higher than is the minimum price under the long-term agreement.

page 1110

QUESTION

COAL RESEARCH

Mr SWARTZ:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND

– I address a question to the Minister for External Affairs, who administers the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Is it a fact that the coal research activities of the organization at Ryde and Fishermen’s Bend have been expanded? What are the principal aim’s of these activities? Does the coal research section operate in close collaboration with the coal-mining companies and the principal coal consumers?

Mr CASEY:
Minister for External Affairs · LP

– It is a fact that the coal research activities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization at Ryde and elsewhere have been gradually expanded in recent years, and particularly in the last eighteen months. The organization has been fortunate enough to recruit three senior men from the United Kingdom. Previously, owing to the shortage of staff and the lack of adequately trained personnel, it had been very difficult to expand the coal research activities at the rate that we considered necessary. The coal research efforts of the organization are directed generally to a survey of Australian coal, district by district, and almost mine by mine, in order to determine the most appropriate uses for each particular type of coal and to advise the coal-mining companies, in close collaboration with the Department of National Development, on methods by which a high and uniform quality of coal may be made available to the consumers. Recently, Dr. Townend. the DirectorGeneral of the British Coal Utilization Research Association, made an extended visit to Australia to advise the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Department of National Development and to meet representatives of some of the larger coalowners and coal consumers. It is earnestly hoped that the coal owners and the consumers will work together in the creation of an association, the efforts of which will be directed towards the general end of achieving uniformity in coal supplies, so that the purchasers will know what they are getting and be assured of regular supplies of coal of the types appropriate to their particular requirements. I could give the honorable member a wealth of additional detail, but I think the information that I have already given him will probably assure him that the coal research activities are being directed towards the most useful ends. I shall supplement my answer, I think more appropriately, by a private communication.

page 1111

QUESTION

RETIRING AGE

Mr FITZGERALD:
PHILLIP, NEW SOUTH WALES

– My question is directed to the Treasurer, in the absence of the Prime Minister. “Will the right honorable gentleman initiate investigations to determine the increased life span of people to-day compared with the expectation of life of 40 years ago? Has his attention been directed to the fact that, in England, an investigation by the

Registrar General’s Department has shown that people can expect, on an average, to live 20 years longer than people who lived 40 years ago might have expected to live? If a similar situation were revealed by inquiry in Australia, would the right honorable gentleman, as a lead to others, consider increasing the retiring age in the Commonwealth Public Service, which, despite the shortage of staff and the need for capable men, still obliges employees to retire at the ages of 60 and 65?

Sir ARTHUR FADDEN:
CP

– In reply to the very important question raised by the honorable member, and especially in view of its reference to longevity - though some of us might not live much longer, it might seem a long time - I ask the honorable member to put his question on the notice-paper.

page 1111

QUESTION

SPORT

Mr OPPERMAN:
CORIO, VICTORIA

– My question is addressed more in sorrow than in anger to the Vice-President of the Executive Council. Following the rather peculiar display that was given in the international rugby football match yesterday, and in view of the acknowledgment of this code by the Vice-President of the Executive Council as the only worthwhile game of football in Australia, when he was replying to a question by The honorable member for Herbert last Tuesday, will the right honorable gentleman take the first opportunity of being my guest and witnessing the modern, popular, strenuous, crowd-pleasing but well con- . trolled type of football which is played particularly in the southern States, but which can he enjoyed as a spectacle in all parts of Australia?

Sir ERIC HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944

– I take it that the honorable member is referring to the game which is known in New South “Wales as aerial ping-pong.

Mr Calwell:

– It is better than mobile wrestling, anyway.

Sir ERIC HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944

– In the other States of Australia, we encourage strenuous, manly sport, and we find that it satisfies those people who wish to build up a virile manhood.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! I must point out that questions inregard tosport havenothing whatever to do with the country’s business. One such question was asked yesterday, and one has been asked to-day. In the future, I propose to rule these questions out of order immediately this subject is mentioned.

page 1112

QUESTION

STANDING ORDERS

Mr EDMONDS:
HERBERT, QUEENSLAND

- Mr. Speaker, will you arrange for a meeting of the Standing Orders Committee in order that the Standing Orders may be amended, if necessary, to ensure that this House shall never be subservient to Mr. Speaker, whether he be you or the person whowill succeed you after the next general election? Further, can the Opposition expect that after the Victorian election is held on Saturday next, the alliance that exists between you and the corner group-

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! That is a most offensive statement. I name the honorable member for Herbert.

Sir ARTHUR FADDEN:
CP

– With regret, I move -

That the honorable member for Herbert be suspended from the service of the House.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! If the eight honorable memberhas regrets, he should not move the motion. He is here to carry out the functions of the Government.

Sir ARTHUR FADDEN:

– Of course I regret, and so does every honorable member regret, that the incident occurred in this honorable House.

Mr SPEAKER:

-Oh !

Sir ARTHUR FADDEN:

– Therefore, I have moved that the honorable member for Herbert be suspended from the service of the House.

Question put -

That the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) be suspended from the service of the House.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)

AYES: 0

NOES: 0

Majority…‘…:18

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

The honorable member for Herbert thereupon withdrew from the chamber.

page 1112

QUESTION

WALCHA POST OFFICE

Mr DRUMMOND:
NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES

– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. At the end of last year, I askedthe Minister whether he had noted the extremely bad conditions thatobtained at the Walcha post office in the electoral division of New England, andthe urgentnecessity of extended accommodationand renovation. He informed me that,inthe normal course of events, ‘the matterwould be attended to inthecurrent financial year. Inow ask him whether he can tell me whatis thepresentposition.

Mr ANTHONY:
CP

– It is realized, that extensions and improvements to thaWalcha post, office are. necessary. I. am sorry that those extensions and improverments cannot be effected during this financial year,, but I” hope that it will be possible to do the work during the next financial year.

page 1113

QUESTION

MALAYA

Mr MACKINNON:
CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA

– I preface my question to the Minister for External Affairs by stating that the recent serious riots in Singapore have illustrated how easily Malaya could fall into anarchy, and eventual Communist control, if British troops were withdrawn. The chief Minister, when re-imposing the curfew regulation, and other Ministers in the Labour-front government have stated that these events show how unprepared Malaya is for self-government. In. view of the Australian Labour party’s unwillingness to assist Malaya with military aid while that country is passing 11, rough its period of transition, as is evident, from Labour’s new Hobart foreign policy, can the Minister give further information on the seriousness of the Singapore situation, which could influence some national uniformity in Australian foreign policy on this point?

Mr CASEY:
LP

– The riots that took place in Singapore about a fortnight ago have been, a matter of grave concern, not only to the United Kingdom Government, but also to the moderate Labour government of Mr. Marshall, in Singapore. Our information, on this emergency comes, mainly, from Mr. Marshall himself. It was caused by a strike by the bus workers? union. As Mr. Marshall said’ in a broadcast at the time, it was n wholly unjustified strike, because the whole industrial matter in dispute had been already submitted to an arbitral body, which, was in the process of dealing with it. There was grave rioting, in which the Communists enlisted the aid of middle Chinese school students, and there was. a very grave disturbance. The purpose, of the riots was entirely clear. It was- clear that the Communists in Singapore: were out to destroy the morale and’ prestige of the new moderate government of Singapore before it got fully into the’ saddle; The Communists did not- want the people of Singapore to realize, that, progress- towards? selfgovern;ment was possible by- constitutional, and regular means. They wanted to have it established that there was oppression by the British, and that there was no other way of achieving self-government except by the Communist method of subversion and force of arms. It is believed, not only here, but in Singapore itself, that all thinking1 citizens, or a great body of thinking citizens in Singapore - and, I expect, also in Malaya - have learned a lesson from this. They have learned how close the forces of subversion are to the surface, and how dangerous it would be for the forces of protection - largely British - to be withdrawn. In other words, self-government for Singapore and Malaya, and other colonies in that part of the world, is only possible, if there is a substantial force in being to combat subversion by rioting and thatsort of thing. I believe that that lesson, has been learned very well by the responsible citizens in those areas, and possibly in other quarters closer to home.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– The question that I shall address to the Minister forExternal Affairs is supplementary to the question that was asked by the honorable member for Corangamite. Is it a fact that in Malaya to-day, trial by jury lias been suspended, seizure of property and arrest may be effected withoutwarrant, that people - particularly trade unionists - are jailed without trial, and. that large sections of the community are denied the right to vote?

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! The honorable member appears to be giving, information.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– I am not giving information.. I am asking- whether. certain things are true. Is it also a facto - all I am asking- is whether it is a fact - that decisions of the Singapore Parliament, to which- the honorable memberfor Corangamite referred,, are subject. to> the decisions of the High Commissioner?

Mr CASEY:

– I believe that the purpose of the honorable member’s questions is- clear. All I can say to him is that- thestate of emergency - which is a realemergency - has been surveyed by the1 recently popularly elected’ moderateLabour government, led by Mr: Marshall; which has endorsed the continuance- of the- state of emergency and all the measures necessary to that end.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– So it is true ?

Mr CASEY:

– I have not any idea whether all of the bits and pieces of information that the honorable member has scraped out from the back of the drawer are true or not.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– I have sought information.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! The honorable member for Hindmarsh has asked a question. He might have the courtesy to listen to the Minister’s reply.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– That applies to both sides.

Mr SPEAKER:

–Odrer ! If the honorable member for Hindmarsh interjects again, I shall deal with him.

Mr CASEY:

– I do not know whether it is relevant, but I’ did not expect courtesy. I would say, quite simply, that all the factors that are necessary, or that have been deemed necessary, for the public safety in the state of emergence in Singapore and Malaya, have been endorsed by the recently-elected moderate Labour government, and if the matters mentioned by the honorable gentleman are facts - I do not say for one moment that they are - they have been endorsed by the elected people locally, that is, a moderate Labour government.

page 1114

QUESTION

LAND ACQUISITION FOE EXSEERVICEMEN IN NEW SOUTH WALES

Mr FAIRBAIRN:
FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Is the Minister for the Interior yet in a position to state whether the proposed additional Commonwealth grant on a £I-for-£2 basis to the New South Wales Government for war service land settlement is conditional on that State’s paying just terms for any property that it resumes?

Mr KENT HUGHES:
LP

– I am not yet in a position to give full advice -o the honorable member, except that it will be on the same basis as the present arrangements which are being carried out, in other words, in accordance with the conditions that were laid down in November, 1952, after this House had passed the act to make funds available, under section 96 of the Constitution. Section 4 of that act provides that any lands compulsorily acquired will have regard to the value at the time that they were acquired. The words “ just terms “ are not used in that particular provision, but the meaning is the same.

page 1114

PRIVILEGE

News paper Article - -REPORT or Committee.

Mr McLEAY:
Minister for Shipping and Transport · BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– As Chairman, I present a special report of the Committee of Privileges relating to an article published in the Bankstown Observer of Thursday, the 28th April, 1955, together with the -minutes of proceedings of the committee, and I move -

That the report be read.

Report read by the Clerk.

Mr KEON:
Yarra

– I move-

That the committee’s request be acceded to.

Sir ERIC HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944

– I wish to move that the debate be adjourned.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Is the motion seconded ?

Mr Calwell:

– I second the motion.

Mr KEON:

– This House has a Committee of Privileges. That Committee of Privileges was appointed by us to guard the rights of this House, and to investigate and to report to this House upon any matter which we thought was serious enough to refer to it. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) presented a case to this Parliament. The Parliament unanimously agreed that the case made by the honorable member for Reid was of sufficient seriousness to warrant its reference to the Committee of Privileges. It was so referred, and since it was referred, certain action has been taken by the Commonwealth Investigation Service. Apparently the matter was considered to be of sufficient seriousness to warrant raids on private homes and searches of private business premises. Members of this House know of the reports that have appeared in various quarters, and of the rumours that have been current in various quarters, about the involvement of people who occupy very high positions in this community in things which are of great concern to this Parliament, involving, as they do, allegations made against the honorable member for Reid. and allegations made by him. This House, having unanimously decided to refer those matters to the Committee of Privileges, now has received a report from that committee stating that the committee has investigated the newspaper reports and the other matters submitted to it by this House, and apparently, considers them serious enough, and of enough consequence, to require a further expansion of the committee’s powers in order that it may complete its work. That being so, why should this House not agree to give the committee that it appointed to investigate those matters the power that the committee itself says it requires? If the matters concerned have been serious enough to warrant the calling in of the Commonwealth Investigation Service, and serious enough to warrant raids being made on homes in order that a search may be conducted for lost security files which have relation to the charges made by the honorable member for Reid before the committee, and if the people who, it has been said, are involved in this case, are involved in it, surely this House, instead of attempting to restrict the Committee of Privileges, ought to be most anxious to give its members, who have spent weeks investigating the case, the utmost powers in order that the matter may be probed to the full. I do not know anything of the matter apart from the statements about it made by the honorable member for Reid in this House and the reports that have appeared in the press; but T am quite prepared to say that, the committee having investigated this matter - and on that committee we have a number of most distinguished lawyers including the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske), and the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke) - and having said that ic believes that the scope of the inquiry ought to be widened and that the Parliament ought to concern itself with this matter to a greater extent, I believe that we ought to grant the committee the powers it asks for, because there is nobody in this House who would say, having in mind the constitution of the committee, that it would ask lightly for further power. Obviously, this request has not been made lightly. The matter is patently one of great consequence, and I hope, therefore, that the House will grant to the committee the wider powers that it seeks.

Mr CALWELL:
Melbourne

.- I second the motion. I am amazed by the attitude of the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) in trying to throttle the committee that was set up by this House.

Sir ERIC HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944

– Do not talk such arrant nonsense.

Mr CALWELL:

– The committee was empowered, by a unanimous vote of this House, to inquire into a certain matter. The committee has gone a certain distance in its inquiries and, from the minutes of the committee, which I presume I may quote, I find that the motion which is before the House was carried by five votes to one. The minute entry reads -

The committee divided. Ayes, a - W. M. Bourke, Mr. Freeth, Mr. Galvin, Mr. Joske, Mr. Swartz-

AYES: 0

NOES: 0

AYES

NOES

If the Vice-President of the Executive Council will not assist the committee .to carry ou t its undertaking, he will “have to assume responsibility for being misunderstood. People will want to know why he will not do so, and whose interests he is trying to protect. Once a matter has been raised, no one should ‘be given protection : the matter should go on to its logical conclusion, and if someone is at fault he should be dealt with. I am sure that if the Prime Minister ‘(Mr. Menzies) were .here - I regret that lie is away ill - he would say that this matter must be taken to its conclusion, and would jio t for one minute .stand for an adjournment.

Sir ERIC HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944

– :It:is always a matter of amazement to ..me that honorable members who have been in this House for -a long period should .know so little df procedure. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell’),, who is .the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Accuses me of trying to throttle this report. .He nas been here long .enough to know .that if, upon the report being placed before the House, .no action .is taken, the item >remains .on .the notice -paper ;and can be subsequently dealt with .by the ‘Government. The Government is not taking action at the moment because neither it nor the House is aware of what is contained in the papers that the committee wishes to examine. If this House wishes to vote in the blind I suppose that it will do ,sq, but it is ‘rather strange for a committee to ask .for additional -powers to consider statements without telling the House what they are, .or even giving it an .opportunity of looking at them.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

-Cameron ; - We did -not .see any -more than that ourselves.

Sir ERIC HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944

– The honor able member has -made a good point. It is true ‘that we did not see the original papers, but at least we had the advantage of .hearing the honorable member for Reid (M<r. Morgan) .read’ copious extracts from the newspaper. Lt strained -.the House to make it a question of privilege at .that point, but the honorable .member .for Reid made out a case for its being .considered as :a question of privilege. That has not happened on this occasion.

Mr Calwell:

– Of course it has. The committee has seen the papers.

Sir ERIC HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944

– The committee ‘has put nothing in the way of papers before the House.

Mr Calwell:

– The committee has seen the documents.

Sir ERIC HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944

– Whether or .not the Committee has seen them, .the House is master of its own ‘business. Tor the sake of its dignity and interest it must be satisfied that the papers are of .sufficient importance to warrant their being referred to the Committee of Privileges. That is all that this Government wants to do. It wants to make .perfectly certain that the House .has an opportunity of seeing the papers and is -in a position to vote with a knowledge of .what is contained in them. The Government itself cannot support a question of privilege of this nature “before it is aware of what is contained in the papers. The matter can be .brought on next ‘Tuesday, after the House has had ‘an opportunity ‘of seeing the papers. It is not the intention of the Government to depart -from that procedure. The Government ‘intended to give the ‘House that opportunity so that honorable members might satisfy -their minds on the matter, and ‘then let the vote on the motion be taken next “Tuesday.

Mr Calwell:

– How ‘can the House see the papers on Tuesday?

Sir ERIC HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944

– The papers are available. There is -nothing to prevent honorable members from looking at them. The papers are ‘in ‘the hands of the committee, and ihe committee can disseminate them. “We want the committee to disseminate the papers. When the honorable member says that the Government is trying to throttle this matter, he shows his complete ignorance of the procedures cif the House and the intention of the ‘Government. I move -

That the debate be now adjourned.

Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker, - How Archie Cameron.)

AYES: 48

NOES: 32

Majority…. 16

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

page 1117

SOCIAL SERVICES BILL 1955

Billreturned from the Senate, without amendment.

page 1117

QUESTION

FLOODPRE VENTION

Mr.. SPEAKER (Hon. Archie

Cameron). - I have received from the honorable member for Melbourne(Mr. Calwell) an intimation that he desires to submit adefinite matter ofurgent public importance to the House for discussion, namely -

The urgentnecessity for the Commonwealth Government to take immediate stepsto establish an authority on the lines of the Tennessee Valley Authority providing for co-operation with the State governments for the purposeof preventing floods and mitigating their disastrous effects, and for the purpose of compensating andrehabilitating the sufferers of such floods.

Is the proposal supported ?

Eight honorable members having risen insupport of the proposal,

Mr CALWELL:
Melbourne

– It cannot be said by any honorable member onthe Government side ofthe House that itis not possible for the CommonwealthParliament to pass legislation,in association with State parliaments passingsimilarlegislation, to set upauthoritiessuch as that proposed in the mattersubmitted for discussion. The Commonwealthhas already set upan authority to deal with the flooding, of one river inAustralia and to regulate its flow -so that the water can be used for irrigation purposes for the benefit of those who live in the river valley. I refer to the River Murray Waters Commission. Itis an authority representing , the Commonwealth and the States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. The Commonwealth, under the defence power, has established the Snowy Mountains Authority, which has diverted, and is diverting,the flow of the Snowy River, so that the water can be used for the generation of electricity and, whenit is turned north into the Murrumbidgee River and the Murray River, for the irrigation of the land in those two river valleys. Webelieve that the Commonwealth is wrongin suggestingthat if a river system does not affecttwo or more States, and is within the boundaries of only one State, the Parliament ofthat State must accept the full financial responsibility for the mitigation of flood damage, the prevention of floods and the compensation of citizens affected by floods.

The United States of America has done a splendid job with the Tennessee Valley Authority. That authority was established by an Act of Congress on a message fromPresidentRoosevelt in May, 1933.

The authority is a government corporation managed by three directors. The first directors were Mr. Arthur E. Morgan, as chairman, Dr. Harcourt A. Morgan and Mr. David E. Lilienthal. The Act of Congress authorizes the authority -

To improve the navigability and to provide for the Hood control of the Tennessee River; to provide for reforestation and the proper use of marginal lands in the Tennessee Valley; to provide for the agricultural and industrial development of the said valley; to provide for the national defence by the creation of a corporation for the operation of Government properties at and near Muscle Shoals in the State of Alabama, and for other purposes.

The Tennessee Valley authority regulates the flow of the river through seven States of the United States of America. America, of course, is about the same size as Australia, but when we think of States, we envisage our six States. The area covered by the Tennessee Valley Authority is 40,000 square miles, nearly half the size of Victoria. The annual rainfall is very high, averaging 52 inches, which is higher than the rainfall of any part of New South Wales and Victoria, and is equalled only by that of some parts of Queensland. I am informed that with an annual rainfall such as that, nearly 6,000 tons of water falls on each acre of land each year. What happens to this tremendous volume of water after it falls is directly linked to the economics of the region, to the well-being of its citizens, and to the security of those who live on the lower Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The six main tributaries of the Tennessee rise in the mountains where the rainfall exceeds SO inches, and they drop from an altitude of 4,000 to 6,000 feet to 700 or 800 feet before converging to form the main stream. For the region, these facts have meant a proverbially unmanageable river and vanishing soil resources.

The effect, however, of 52 inches of rain on the land itself is only half the story of uncontrolled water. Rushing into the streams unhindered by protective vegetation on the land, it deposits its load of precious topsoil as silt to clog navigation channels and, sweeping on, it floods city and countryside, leaving death and destruction in its wake. What happened in the Tennessee Valley before the American Congress set out to regulate the flow of that vast volume of water is being repeated in Australia on a minor scale, but the consequences of the flooding of Australian rivers is also disastrous and much will have to be done before we can say we are doing all in our power to save the soil of this country - our most priceless heritage - and to see that we are promoting the growth and development of the river valleys, which are now being denuded of the topsoil, whilst the rivers themselves are being rendered completely un-navigable. It is a notorious fact that the rivers all along our eastern sea-board are clogging up.

In the Tennessee Valley, seventeen dams have been constructed to date along the Tennessee River. The latest, the Watagua Dam, was completed on schedule on the 1st December, 1948, and to-day an integrated system of 27 major dams and reservoirs control the river system. The danger of floods both in the Tennessee Valley and in the lower Ohio and Mississippi basins has been reduced with benefits estimated at more than 11.000,000 dollars annually. A navigation channel of 630 miles connect-‘ ing with the natural waterway system of the United States has been put into use, carrying in the 1949 financial year more than 431,000,000 ton miles of traffic in automobiles, wheat and corn, iron and steel products, coal, petroleum and other higher value products where once its usefulness was limited to the transport of sand and gravel, rail route ties and similar products over short distances.

There are still other dams being built and more to be built in this Tennessee River Valley. It is impossible in a few moments to outline the full effect of this wonderful scheme, because its effects are also felt outside the seven States that it serves directly. Suffice it to say, however, the manufacturing plants in the valley employed 158,000 more workers in 1947 than they did in 1933, and this was an increase of 147 per cent. Incomes of employers and employees of manufacturing plants increased from 83,000,000 dollars in 1933 to 623,000,000 dollars in 1947. The number of employees in trade and service enterprises increased by 145,000 between 1933 and 1947, while the income of proprietors and employees grew from 145,000,000 dollars to 910,000,000 dollars. This increase of 525 per cent, compares with an increase of 307 per cent, for the whole American nation. The value to the farming community has been correspondingly great, even though there were 93,000 fewer farm workers in the area in 1947 than in 1933. The electric power generated by the scheme has been multiplied ten times from l£ billion kilowatt hours in 1947, with great impact upon the economic life of the regions. This is the finest integrated system of all time, the soils, the forests, the minerals yielding more for the good of America than would ever have been possible without this scheme.

Why cannot we in Australia have imagination enough to devise such a scheme ourselves? If our constitutional powers are not sufficient, then we should seek by referendum an alteration of the Constitution to enable the Parliament to pass an act similar to the one passed by the American Congress. I recollect that when the Government of which I was a member brought down the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act, it relied upon the defence power to support the validity of the measure. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who was then the Leader of the Opposition, said at that time that our position was challengeable; but nobody ever challenged it, and I am sure no State government will ever challenge it now. Whilst the Snowy Mountains scheme could legitimately be brought under the defence powers, it might’ not be possible to convince the High Court that legislation for other schemes for controlling river systems in Australia was not ultra vires the Constitution.

However, as I have said, we can do something in co-operation with the States, but, unfortunately, this Government does not desire to do anything more than render assistance when floods occur. It does not want to join with the States in the work of flood prevention or even flood mitigation. Its attitude towards relief was stated very clearly on the 4th November, 1952, by the Prime Minister in answer to a series of questions by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) following severe floodings which had been experienced some little time previously in various parts of New South

Wales. I quote from Hansard, volume 220, page 4151. The Prime Minister said -

Successive Commonwealth governments have followed the policy of confining Commonwealth flood relief payments to grants for relief of personal hardship. If it became a standard practice to make grants to assist in the repair of State or local authority assets damaged as a result of floods or other causes, the Commonwealth would be committed to the principle of accepting insurance risks on these assets. The Commonwealth therefore considers that as a general rule the cost of repairing such assets should be met either from funds raised by the authorities themselves or from funds provided by the Commonwealth in accordance with existing. Commonwealth-Sta.-e financial arrangements . .

As responsibility for local authority matters rests with the respective State governments it would be beyond the province of the Commonwealth to make grants direct to local authorities or to assume responsibility for their financial stability.

It will be seen that this Government believes - and desires other governments to believe - that when flood damage occurs, the revenues received under existing financial arrangements can be, and ought to be, sufficient to enable the damage to be repaired. The disastrous effects of recent floods have been so enormous that it i3 impossible for State governments or local authorities, with the resources at their command, even to think of undertaking the necessary repair work, let alone the work of prevention and mitigation. Therefore, we on this side of the House urge this Government, if necessary, to submit a referendum to the people to enable the Commonwealth to do what has been done in the United States of America.

When I state the magnitude of the flood damage on the eastern seaboard of Australia over the last five or six years, honorable members will see that this Government and all members of this Parliament must do something more than adopt a mere “ passing-the-buck “ attitude towards this problem. That is why I have proposed this matter for discussion to-day as a question of urgent public importance. On the 22nd March of this year, the New South Wales Legislative Assembly appointed a Committee of Advice on Flood Mitigation. The terms of reference of the committee are, broadly, to report and advise on the incidence and behaviour of the recent record flood and the extent of inundation of the towns, villages and farmlands of the Hunter Valley, and to devise a programme of works for flood control and its mitigation in that valley and other areas of New South Wales where such action may be considered desirable. Every honorablemember vividly recalls what happened only a few months ago when the Hunter River flooded. That flood was only the latest of several disasters suffered by Maitland and other settled areas. [Extension of time granted.] I thank the House for its indulgence. The flooding’ of the Hunter River caused great loss about Newcastle, where Australia’s great steel industry is largely concentrated. But the Hunter River flood was not the only inundation that followed torrential downpours of rain over a wide area of New South Wales. On the other side of the Great Dividing Range, the Namoi, Castlereagh, Macquarie, Barwon, Gwydir and Macintyre Rivers, all tributaries of the Darling River, also were flooded.

In recent years the losses caused by floods in New South Wales have been enormous. In the flood at Kempsey, in August, 1949, 25 houses were destroyed and thousands of head of dairy stock were lost. In February, 1950, the Mumimbidgee, Lachlan and Macquarie Rivers were flooded, and the Australian and New South Wales Governments each provided £25,000 for relief. Later in the same year, floods occurred in practically all of the rivers in New South Wales, and particularly in the Tweed, Richmond and Clarence rivers on the north coast. The Hunter and Lachlan rivers, on each side of the Great Dividing Range, also flooded in 1950. Hardship relief in consequence of those floods cost the Australian and New South Wales Governments £92,000 each. In February, 1954, record floods occurred on the Tweed and Richmond rivers, and severe floods were experienced onthe Clarence’ River. The cost of relief to each of the two governments was £115,000. In February, 1955, record floods occurred in the Hunter Valley and serious floods were experienced along almost all the rivers in New South Wales except the Murrumbidgee, and Lachlan Rivers: The Australian, and New South Wales Govern

Mr. Calwell. ments each provided £375,000 for the relief of the victims of those floods. Except in, 1950, the State Government has had to meet the cost of all of the grants to councils for flood restoration. Those grants, in the years from 1949 to 1954, both inclusive, amounted to considerably more than £700,000. The cost, to the New South Wales Government for the restoration of railway services following flood damage, apart from the loss of business, in the years from 1949 to 1954, both inclusive, amounted to £2,600,000.

Losses in Queensland owing to flooding, of the Burdekin and Fitzroy river systems, the Pioneer, Mary, Burnett and Dawson river systems, and the Brisbane river system, have been very great. Inland, in the central west of the State, the Thompson river system flooded seriously. In the north-west, the Leichhardt and Flinders river systems, and in the southwest, the Balonne, Maranoa, Warrego and Belyando Rivers, have flooded. Major floods in two districts of Queensland alone, in 1955, caused damage of £500,000. Those floods occurred in the Mary and Brisbane river systems. The Fitzroy River system is the one most subject to flooding in Queensland. In Victoria, the sum of £800,000 has been provided by the Victorian Government, but not one penny of assistance has been received from the Australian Government, for repairs and maintenance, work following the 1950, 1951 and 1952 floods. In August, 1951, the Barwon River, near Geelong, flooded. In June, 1952, Wild Dog Creek in the western district, flooded. In the same month, the Tambo,. Thompson, Mitchell, Macalister and Latrobe Rivers, in Gippsland, flooded. The Snowy and Barwon Rivers and Lake Colac also flooded at that time. The Australian and Victorian Governments each granted £27,500 to the Lough Calvert Training Trust to enable it to undertake flood prevention works, but nothing more has been done.

It is not merely a matter of acting after the damage has: been done. It; is a very old and very wise adage that prevention is better than cure. We. cannot afford to allow millions of tons of good Australian earth annually to be swept into the river systems and subsequently deposited in the sea, if it is: possible for us to prevent that loss of SOil. We need, not one- dredge, but several dredges’, on every large river in. Australia in order to pump the- silt out of the streams, replace it where it belongs and keep the rivers navigable. Most of the large river systems in Australia which were traffickable between twenty and thirty years ago are no longer navigable. The Hunter River,, which is an important artery for the transport of goods to and from the great city of Newcastle, has so silted up as a result of serious’ flooding as to require special action to be. taken, from time to time, to keep the river channel clear of: silt.

The- State Governments cannot undertake all the work that is necessary. If Australia were divided into a greater number of States or provinces - and I certainly hope that that will be done - we might be able to establish authorities of. the type that has been developed in the United States of America. However, the failure to create more States immediately does not provide a reason for this Parliament to throw on the existing State Parliaments the whole responsibility for repairing damage caused by acts of God. The Commonwealth, if it can do so, should take power by referendum to enable this Parliament to introduce, a comprehensive insurance scheme to cover damage by floods, bush fires, pestilence and drought. The losses suffered by people who live in country areas, and particularly those who live in the river valleys, which are so frequently flooded, should be borne by the entire community. During World War TI.,, the Commonwealth, under its wartime defence powers, established the War Damage Insurance. Commission,, to spread the risk of loss from war damage over the whole community. Why is it we cannot spread tha risk of loss from disasters- that we. cannot prevent, over the whole community in time of peace? T.f we do not. act soon, many thousands of farms in rich- valleys that were once the most prosperous in Australia will be deserted.

This problem may not greatly concern South Australia and Western Australia, but; it does vitally affect Queensland,. New South Wales,. Victoria and Tasmania. Because’ four States are concerned, this Government should take action on the matter: If it does not wish, to take’ action immediately,, it might at least consider the appointment of a committee of this Parliament,, similar to that which, was appointed- by the NewSouth Wales Legislative Assembly, to consider a related matter - the best means of obtaining co-operation between, the Commonwealth, and the States, or of the Commonwealth alone taking action, or taking action directly or indirectly or in association with the State Governments and the municipalities concerned, to prevent further floods, to mitigate the effects of floods generally, and. to compensate the unfortunate victims of floods that occur in spite of all preventive measures.

Mr CASEY:
Minister for External Affairs · La Trobe · LP

– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has made out a very good case for the existence of the Tennessee ValleyAuthority, but not for the establishment of a similar institution in Australia. He cited a long list of rivers which are subject to flooding in Australia. He was entirelyright.. Rivers in practically every State in Australia are subject to flooding. Perhaps certain rivers which flow to the sea. between Townsville and Gippsland make the eastern coast the area most menaced by flood in Australia.; but flooding is not confined to those rivers. Even the Pink, River in central Australia caused a great deal of damage a few months agor by flooding the sparsely-populated area through which it flows. The proposal that, has been put forward by the honorable member for Melbourne, if couched in considered terms,, does not make sense. It reflects a wholly wrong conception of. the Tennessee Valley Authority. It would be ridiculous to set up in Australia a body similar to the Tennessee Valley Authority. Large numbers of. river valleys in Australia, particularly the valleys of the short, fast-running rivers which flow from the Great Dividing Range to’ the. sea, are subject to flooding from time to time. In New South Wales, I think that the rivers of New England have been the greatest offenders in recent years. But we do not require an enormous corporation which would be responsible for the 3,000,000 square miles of Australia in order to cope with river disasters. Bather do we require a series of schemes to deal with what I might describe as the most guilty of the rivers, which are those of the New England area of New South Wales. I think that the proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne is absolute nonsense.

The floodings of the past five years have been in all our minds. The Australian Government has tried to stimulate the State governments, and the Government of New South Wales in particular, to cope with this problem. In 1950, when [ was Minister for National Development, I was chairman of a cabinet subcommittee which interviewed the present Premier of New South Wales, who was then Minister for Works, as well as several other State ministers concerning this problem. We could not obtain an indication of their plans to deal with future floods, even in respect of the Hunter River Valley. This interview took place just after disastrous floods had occurred in that valley. For 12 months afterwards, while I remainded Minister for National Development, we sought to ascertain the intentions of the New South Wales Government in this respect but could not obtain any advice on the matter. The sub-committee of which I was chairman wished to ascertain whether the problem could be dealt with by the integration of Commonwealth and State action and aid. Our efforts came to nothing.

Flood control, is essentially a regional problem. The area controlled by the Tennessee Valley Authority contains a very large, integrated series of rivers and streams with which one authority is able to cope. A common problem exists in respect of the whole of the 40,000 square miles of what i3 known as the Tennessee Valley. That is not the case in Australia. In this country there are at least a dozen rivers which might be called guilty rivers. Each of them presents an individual problem. This problem has not been tackled very well in this country. It is a State responsibility and is has no aspect which makes it a federal responsibility. If an equivalent of the Tennessee Valley Authority were the appropriate means of coping with flood problems in Australia, and if such an authority were, required to operate in respect of a number of States, as it probably would, the establishment of some Commonwealth cum State body would be necessary. But from an engineering point of view, this is a regional problem. It is not one problem ; it is a dozen, or 50 problems. Anyhow, as we all know, it is not constitutionally possible for the Australian Government to inject itself into this problem.

Mr Daly:

– That is a weak argument.

Mr CASEY:

– An amendment of the Constitution may make it possible for the Commonwealth to take such action. But I believe that that is not necessary because there is not one problem but a series of problems concerning individual river valleys. On the financial side, the Australian Government -

Mr Bryson:

– The Government will sidestep every problem possible.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! The honor.orable member for Wills is distinctly out out of order.

Mr CASEY:

– Through the Australian Loan Council, the Government seeks to make money available to the States by means of public loan raisings. When they fail, it makes money available to the States from revenue, and it is anticipated that £1.80,000,000 will be made available to the State governments in that way this year. The New South Wales Government receives, as it should, a very large proportion of such moneys. If the Australian Government manages to provide the sum that I have mentioned this year, the New South Wales Government will receive £58,000,000 of that amount. Queensland will receive just under £20,000,000, apart from moneys for housing. If an adequate part of these large sums is not spent by the States on trying to cope with the ravages of the guilty rivers, the State governments should explain that matter to the victims and potential victims of future floodings in their States. There must be tens of thousands of people who are now living comfortably in their homes in New South Wales and Victoria but who will suffer disasters within the next few years. Let them ponder this matter and ask their State governments to explain why money is being spent on amenity projects instead of being used to overcome a problem which involves matters of life and death as well as productive capacity worth vast sums of money which is liable to be wiped out. The Australian Government is making the maximum possible amount of developmental moneys available to the State governments from loan funds and from revenue.

In making these statements, I have not used the language of controversy. I have simply stated the facts of the situation. I remind the honorable member for Melbourne that the Government has given just under £1,000,000 to the New South Wales Government for the assistance of flood victims alone during the last five years. Flood victims have also received additional sums from the State governments themselves.

Mr Haylen:

– The Opposition is not contesting that point. It is interested in flood mitigation measures.

Mr CASEY:

– My argument is that the establishment in Australia of a body similar to the Tennessee Valley Authority would be an anomaly. That is what the honorable member for Melbourne has sought to have established. He has entirely overlooked the fact that this is an engineering problem, and not a political problem. Because of the provisions of the Constitution, it is not possible to set up in Australia an authority that would be similar in any way to the Tennessee Valley Authority. But beyond that, it is quite unnecessary to set up such an authority even if it were constitutionally possible. This is a State problem which the State governments have neglected to the great discomfort of tens of thousands of people.

There is another aspect of this matter. I shall not discuss the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority to which the honorable member for Melbourne referred. As the honorable member admitted, that authority was appointed under the defence powers of the Commonwealth. But I should like to quote the views of a former Premier of New South Wales, Sir William McKell, who devoted a great deal of attention to the problem of floods. He visited the United States of America in, I think, 1949, and he went all over the Tennessee Valley project, and on his return submitted a report that was of very great interest and value to the New South Wales Government. I shall read only the last paragraph of his report, which is as follows: -

My general conclusion is that, while there are many features of the Tennessee Authority which merit consideration . . . the nature of the organisation … is not generally adapted to Australian conditions and has no special merits over the methods already followed and being progressively developed hi New South Wales for planned and co-ordinated development of our resources.

Sir William McKell has paid considerable attention to water conservation and irrigation problems in New South Wales, and he has done a lot for that State. I have had many interesting hours of discussion with him on the subject. The construction in Australia of a project similar to that of the Tennessee Valley Authority is condemned out of the mouth of one who was formerly a leading supporter of the Opposition.

For at least five years, to my knowledge, the Commonwealth has been trying to have adopted a system of priority for developmental works. Each year, the Premiers submit proposals for the financing of developmental and other works in the various States. The list of works is examined, and the total amount of money required, or that portion of it which can be found, is provided by the Australian Loan Council, largely through the instrumentality of the federal Treasury. As one can imagine, the works that are proposed are of a wide variety. Some are of first class importance, measured by any standard, but, as we scan the list, we see other works of lesser degrees of usefulness, until we come to purely amenity works, which would not add anything to Australia’s economic capacity. I am not exaggerating when I state that those amenity works include such projects as the straightening of curves in roads, the provision of roads to health resorts, and swimming pools. Smooth highways without curves, and pleasant places to visit, are all very nice if they can be afforded, but at this stage of o.u.r (development, we cannot afford works of that kind. W.e must confine ourselv.es to the practical task .of .increasing our .economic capacity.

As I stated earlier, the Commonwealth has been trying ‘for five years or more to have prepared a priority list of Commonwealth and State works so that our large, but by no means unlimited, amount of money for works may be allocated to the best advantage for Australia as a Whole; but we have failed to persuade the State governments to agree to the preparation of .such a .list. This matter is relevant to the /subject under discussion, because there is no doubt that, if it were possible to have a priority list, some of these great works, which would sa:e millions .of pounds <as .a .result of the prevention of “flooding, would be towards the top of the list.

Who are responsible for the failure to .obtain such a list? The Premiers are responsible; they will .not have a bar o’f it. One could say a lot more about the attitude of the State-minded Premiers who, in the main, cannot be persuaded to think on an Australiawide basis. To .each °of them, the works envisaged in his own State -are more important than the most important works envisaged in the ‘neighbouring States. ‘The ‘ result is that we must accept a limited provincial attitude on the part of the -Premiers. [Extension of time .granted.~] I am grateful to the House for granting me an extension of time. I have not introduced the question of (a priority list of works, : Or. ‘indeed, any mother matter, for party political purposes. I am trying “to speak :as an Australian, but it is very difficult to persuade the Premiers to speak similarly. There are plenty of good New South Welshmen, plenty of good :South Australians, and plenty of good Victorians, but show me among the Premiers, or those who control the affairs of the States, some good Australians -who, in such matters, are prepared to sink the :so-called interests of the States in f favour of the interests of the Australian economy as ‘a -whole ! If that attitude of mind prevailed, a debate of this kind probably would be unnecessary, because a project ‘similar to that which has been suggested would have been carried out Jong ago.

I could develop this subject to almost any length, and I am sure that many other honorable members could do likewise. “The matter is one of considerable importance, but I do not think that it is of greater urgency now than it will be at any future point of time. One can only speculate upon the reason for its being raised just now. If T may he permitted to speculate, I suggest that it was -not raised because of its inherent importance, but because - >and perhaps it is very lowminded of me to express such a thought-

Mr Haylen:

– If I were the right honorable .gentleman, I would not spoil a good speech by mentioning it.

Mr CASEY:

– I have .not mentioned it yet. The honorable member is crying before he is hurt. It is possible that the reason for proposing .this matter of alleged urgency this morning was to prevent the Anti-:Communist Labour party from raising a matter ‘that might have had very much more point to it. The Victorian -‘election will be “held within a relatively few days’ time. The matters of urgency .that have been raised by the Anti-Communist Labour party have had very great point, -and they have been of considerable consequence to the States and to Australia as >a whole. Those matters hare ‘been Drought to (the attention of the people of Australia, and “I have no doubt at alf–

Mr J R FRASER:
ALP

– 1 rise to order. Am I to assume from the remarks o’f the Minister for External Affairs that .an alternative matter of .urgency has “been placed before you, Mr. ‘Speaker,, and that, therefore, his remarks reflect upon your decision?

Mr Haylen:

– I am of that opinion.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! The right honorable gentleman is .getting wide of the mark.

Mr CASEY:

– -I accept your ruling, Mr.. Speaker. I .made ;an /honest effort to discover -the reason for the submission of this matter to the House .for discussion, and I have =stated the result of :my speculation. Without .repeating my remarks, il say ‘that the submission of this matter fox (discussion was unnecessary. Those honorable members who framed the letter intimating to , Mr. Speaker that they wished to submit, the .matter for discussion could .not have .been unaware .of Sir William McKell’s report; they could not have been unaware of the fact that the Tennessee “Valley programme covered twenty .river ‘valleys, and not .one ; and they could not have been unaware of the fact that it is beyond the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth to embark upon. such a. scheme and that, even if the scheme were within its constitutional powers, it would be .unnecessary, and to embark upon it would be wrong. That is my reply to the honorable member for Melbourne.

Mr CLARK:
Barling

..- The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has tried to brush aside the proposal -that “has : been (Submitted by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell!) with his usual >cry >of “.Nonsense, “nonsense I “ That :is a favorite phrase .of the right honorable gentleman but he .cannot fob off an important national issue of ‘this. kind in such a lighthearted fashion. He certainly .wiped it off and said that the Government is not prepared to .do anything in .the matter. He later came round to making Ihe point that the .States .did not think on a broad national basis, and <that .they should think more in terms io.f the development of Australia -as a whole than development on ta local or .parish -pump basis. I find it very difficult .to line -up one point of view against -the other and -see where they have any definite relationship. .If the Minister believes honestly that we should ‘take a : broad national -view 10 these .matters, and professes great icon.cern in ‘them, he should support ‘the proposal.

The “Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial ‘Research Organization has done a phenomenal job in carrying out research in this country. That body was referred to in this House yesterday. It has issued special brochures dealing with various aspects of soil erosion and the utilization of water, in connexion with which it has carried out ‘extensive research. What we need is an extension of that principle, and the establishment of .an ^authority with the same broad national outlook as that body, for the purpose of putting into ^operation its findings as .the result of research and .investigation of great projected public works. If the authority that has been .asked for by the honorable ‘member if or Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) -were established as an adjunct -of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, it could put into operation projects for the harnessing .of the water of the various river systems -of Australia. This matter is not confined to New South Wales: other .States, also, have .their .flood problems. These various .rivers should .be controlled on a national ‘.basis, not only for the purpose of flood prevention, but also in order to benefit the .whole country. The .honorable .member for Melbourne .made two proposals. The first related to the prevention of floods and the mitigation of their disastrous .effects. In this connexion, it is necessary to start before the event. I know that this proposal -envisages a long-range programme, and that we cannot do much in the next year or two, but -minor matters could be attended ‘to, such ‘as the building -of levee banks. Certain towns in my electorate would have been very seriously flooded, and damage ‘running ‘into ‘thousands of pounds ‘would have been caused to homes, streets, public services and utilities but for “the work of the local -people in erecting levee ‘banks. The Commonwealth should .provide isolated towns in this country with financial assistance for the construction of levee banks. If levee banks were (built around ‘certain towns, flood damage to those towns might he prevented. This was proved in the case of Nyngan, which was ‘surrounded by flood waters for five days, but the .town was saved by the levee banks.

I have mentioned the construction of levee ‘banks on a short-range ‘basis. Coming now to our major proposal, -we contend ‘that rivers should be controlled, not only ‘at their source, .’but also at various points down-stream. By that means, the water .would proceed in an orderly way down rivers, so that it could be ‘utilized for agricultural and horticultural purposes, which would facilitate the development .of -our national resources and feud to attract people to populate and develop, not only the outback parts of Australia, but also some coastal areas that are served by the rivers. The implementation of this proposal would obviate the destruction of towns by flooding, and result in great benefit to the nation. By building flood prevention dams, and making other arrangements such as those that I have mentioned, we would actually turn the waters of destruction into servants of humanity, with resultant benefit to the people of this country.

The second proposal that was made by the honorable member for Melbourne referred to the compensation and rehabilitation of persons who sustain loss through floods. During the last big floods in New South Wales, the Commonwealth was very lax in coming forward with assistance.

Sir Philip McBRIDE:

– Of course, that is complete nonsense.

Mr CLARK:

– That immediate response from the Minister for Defence undoubtedly shows that I have touched on a raw spot, and that the Government feels that it has been rather amiss in providing assistance to the people who suffered from flood damage. When appeals were made to the Commonwealth for assistance, the Commonwealth sheltered behind the cry that has been echoed to-day by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) “Here is a matter for the States. We shall make only a nominal contribution in the beginning”. Of course, the amount of assistance by the Commonwealth was increased later.

At this stage, I should like to pay a tribute to the people of Australia who most generously donated hundreds of thousands of pounds for the relief of the flood victims. Great thanks is due to newspapers, radio stations, and other instrumentalities for the part that they played in seeking contributions to fill the gap that was left by the Commonwealth.

The honorable member for Melbourne made passing reference to the work that has been carried out in connexion with the harnessing of the waters of the Murray and Mumimbidgee rivers. If dams had not been constructed to control the onrush of water following the early rains, considerable damage could now be taking place there. But the water has been controlled, so that it proceeds down the valleys in an orderly manner, and can be utilized.

In my electorate, which embraces the whole of the western part of New South Wales, extending from the Murray River to the Queensland border, there are quite a number of river systems, such as the Darling which goes up through the north of New South Wales into southern Queensland, and the Castlereagh, the Macquarie, the Lachlan, and the Mumimbidgee Rivers. In my electorate, there is a perfect justification of the form of action that we have asked for, while the recent floods furnish an example of the kind of inaction about which we are complaining to-day. On the side of action, we have, as I said, the Murray and Mumimbidgee schemes, which have enabled production from the fertile areas adjacent to those streams to be increased. In addition, the control of the waters of those streams in an orderly manner has prevented great devastation from flooding. The New South Wales Government has endeavoured to carry out schemes in other river areas. For instance, a vast irrigation scheme on the river Darling at Menindie is considered to be one of the cheapest practicable schemes in the world. Huge quantities of water in that area could be impounded to serve thousands of people on the land along the river. At present, there is practically no population in that area, and the land is carrying only one sheep to 15 acres or so, where there could be one family to 20 acres, because the availability of water for irrigation purposes would enable intensive production. But those schemes have had to be stopped because the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) has refused to make money available to the State governments to carry out the work.

Let us consider what happens in relation to loan moneys. I always understood that the Australian Loan Council had authority to decide the amount of money that should be made available to carry out public works in the various States. Indeed, that is the general opinion of most people. But the present Treasurer has established a new precedent. “When all of the States voted for a certain amount of money to be made available to them, he put down his foot and said, “ I will not provide the money “.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.

Mr FAILES:
Lawson

.- At the very outset, I wish to give a denial to the statements that have just been made by the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark). He said that the Commonwealth was lax in coming forward with money for flood relief. He is apparently out of touch with the situation, or he would have known that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) offered £100,000 to New South Wales for relief in connexion with the recent floods in that State, before any request was made.

Mr Clark:

– Chicken feed !

Mr FAILES:

– The Treasurer immediately offered £100,000, which was increased by further amounts to £375,00.0. The honorable member for Darling is quite out of touch, with the position. I have an advantage over the honorable member, inasmuch as I live in my electorate, almost all of which was flooded. I know the parts that were flooded and I was in the flooded areas for the duration of the floods, so I have a first-hand knowledge of the conditions that existed and of this Government’s contributions, not. only in cash but also in allowing the Army to come to the area with men and equipment, and in allowing the Navy to bring in aircraft, including helicopters, to give immediate assistance where it was required most urgently. In Dubbo, headquarters for flood relief foi- the whole area were immediately set up by Army and Air Force authorities. I saw these things and, later on, I saw the services following the. floods down and rendering assistance wherever possible. Therefore, I must first counter a suggestion that this Government was lax in coming forward with assistance. The people of the flooded areas know what occurred and they know that the Commonwealth was generous, not only in providing assistance of the type I have mentioned, but also in arranging the immediate release of hundreds of thousands of blankets from immigrant centres to help people who lost their belongings.

The proposal covers the provision of some form of flood mitigation, something of a preparatory and preventive nature, and then for assistance to people who suffer during floods. Unfortunately, the honorable member for Melbourne, to my mind, has not made out a case for the implementation of a scheme such as that administered by the Tennessee Valley Authority. He said that the State governments have found that they are quite unable to meet the cost of flood damage and rehabilitation, and that this Government should not throw on them all the responsibility for prevention of flooding. It is not a matter of the Government’s throwing the responsibility on to the States ; it is their responsibility and it always has been. The point is, rather, that the States are trying to throw on to the Australian Government the responsibility for flood control, health, mental disease, and all manner of things, which responsibility they are not prepared to carry. It cannot be suggested that the States are financially unable to carry the burden. On the contrary, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) recently stated that the Commonwealth had arranged for special assistance in Australian Loan Council borrowing for public works over the last three years. As we all know, all the borrowings of the Loan Council are to-day used by the States, and no part is used by the Australian Government. During that time the Commonwealth has arranged for special assistance to the amount of £359,000,000. Also in the last three years, the State governments have had £617,000,000 from loan moneys for public works. More than half of thatamount was specially arranged for the States by the Commonwealth, yet their deputies say to this Parliament, “ We have not enough money to do this and that”. The States’ entitlement from tax reimbursements over the last three years was £359,000,000. Actually, the Commonwealth has given them £427,000,000, or £68,000,000 more than their entitlement under the formula agreed upon by the State Premiers. The late Mr. Chifley would not make allocations in excess of nhat provided by that formula, which would have given them. £68,000,000 less than we paid! them. Over the previous, five years, the excess payment amounted to. £122,0.00,000:

Exactly the: same situation applies to tax reimbursements as to- loans; The? Commonwealth has- been very beneficent in helping the States in every possible; way. In New South Wales, during the last three years, the State Government lias received £159,000,000 from loans, and £169,000;000 from tax reimbursements’, making a total of £328,000,000 for public works. How much has that Government spent on flood control? It has had blueprints drawn up, as; it has done for a number of things-. A dam has been started here and there, and then the State Government says “ We have- not enough money to complete the work “. In my own electorate, work on the Burrendong Dam ceased two years ago. The dam would have gone a long way towards flood prevention on the lower Macquarie River. The Minister for Conservation had the audacity to say to a deputation, “ We will re-commence work to-morrow if you will give us £10,000,000 out of your defence vote “. That is the position of the State Government. It is not short of money. The abstract of receipts and payments of the New South Wales Government for the year ended the 30th June, 1954, shows in its special deposits account an amount of £40,666,000. At the end of June. 1953, the figure was £32,000,000’, so ‘ that in that year, £S,000,000 had been accumulated. Itmight be said that the New South Wales Government’ has commitments against that, but at the 30th June, 1954, it had an. excess of £42,900,000 of accounts in credit over accounts in overdraft. Yet honorable members opposite have the audacity to say that the State governments cannot carry out flood control work because they have not the money to do so.

How are. we to prevent floods? I have an. intimate knowledge o£ this problem. We shall, not prevent them by dredging rivers or building dams. The only way to prevent, these: tragedies is to prevent the run-off at river sources. The Australian. Government has not failed to give assistance to the States in that regard.

Tha Commonwealth Scientific and. Industrial Research, Organization greatlyassisted soil conservation, by, the discovery of myxomatosis- which substantially, destroyed the rabbits, that contribute very largely to. flooding by allowing a greaterrunoff than there should be. The. Government’s, allowable tax deductions have greatly assisted the land-holder whodesires to build control banks to prevent, the- run-off of surface water.. We can prevent the flooding of rivers-, such as theHunter and. the filling- up- of the dams that have been constructed only by the prevention, of the run-off of surface water. In all these ways, the Australian! Government, has made a very great contribution towards assisting people who are- really tackling the problem of soil conservation.

The honorable member for Melbourne suggested that there should be some scheme similar to war damage insurance to look after people who suffer from floods. There is no parallel between war damage and flood damage. Every one is susceptible to war damage. No one could say he was not liable to suffer war damage, which is a national matter in the proper sense of the term, but floods attack people in certain specified areas and it is almost impossible for them to insure against flooding.

Mr JOSHUA:
Leader of the Anti-Communist Labour party · Ballarat

.. - I join with the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) in supporting, this proposal, because I consider that this is a matter of great urgency and one to which the Government has not devoted proper attention. I think that the Minister has not viewed the matter in itsproper perspective. Indeed, he has taken, a* very narrow view of it. He seems to have missed completely the interstate character, of the proposal, and he should not have done that, because it quite clearly suggests that the. Government, should take immediate steps to establish an. authority on the lines of. the Tennessee Valley Authority and’ provide for cooperation, with the. State governments. That- throws it. fairly well into the federal sphere.. The. Minister for External Affairs made a. great deal of the necessity, foi; the States to expend; their own funds in relation to ‘this matter. He then went on ‘to say that the Australian Government had expended a considerable amount of money on flood relief in New South Wales. That statement showed that he recognizes that ‘this Government has a responsibility in the matter of flood relief, and other matters related to the flooding of important rivers throughout Australia.

There is no doubt that this ‘Government should take an overall view of this problem, and not expect the States alone to undertake its solution. Furthermore, when the Minister suggested that the States themselves had never co-operated by bringing down any programme for priority of works, he, of course, underlined the inability of the Government to obtain such co-operation. When any person or body fails to obtain cooperation along the lines that it seeks, it ‘is almost certainly because it is not using the right methods to obtain such cooperation. The Minister well knows that some suitable form of inducement to the States in order to get them to consider a co-operative arrangement to deal with this matter is the best method of getting the required co-operation. I suggest that he should take very careful note of the important matter that the Opposition has raised.

The floods which have occurred in the Hunter Valley, and which so disastrously affected the Maitland district, have been most serious. I am glad that this matter has come up before the end of the sessional period, because it should have attention without delay. When so much damage to -property and, what is worse, such enormous loss of life, are occasioned by floods, we should devote some time to a consideration of the measures that should be taken to prevent the disastrous effects of floods, and to alleviate the distress that they cause. Proper consideration should be given to the whole matter at the earliest opportunity. I suggest that the first thing to be considered is the entire scope of the work to be done. The honorable member for Melbourne has given us a most detailed account of the various rivers in Australia which may be affected by flood conditions. The mere fact that all those rivers are not connected in one long valley, as the rivers in : the Tennessee Valley are, does not alter their interstate character. The fivers in :one State may ^present a great deal of trouble, and other rivers in other States may give the same sort of trouble, but who can say whether the loss of life and “property is greater in one part of the Commonwealth than it is in another.

The next thing to be considered, after attention has been given to the scope of the problem, is the necessity ‘for action to be taken to establish an authority or commission to deal with the problem in the future.

Thirdly, the Government, acting on the result of these investigations into the scope of work required, and after it has established this authority, should allot adequate funds for the necessary work to be carried out. More than twenty people lost their lives during the last big floods in New South Wales. There are other rivers, as the honorable member for Melbourne has pointed out, which are of concern to Australia. They are rivers which are a latent source of danger. We do not realize that they are dangerous until they actually cause loss of life and damage. We have seen that happening in many places, and it has been most regrettable. I believe that proper attention should be given to this matter by a suitable authority, which could .show to the people the latent dangers to the whole of the Commonwealth. Those potentially dangerous rivers are at present dormant, but the threat that they pose should be receiving -proper consideration by an appropriate authority. We have the experience of other countries to guide us. That does not mean, however, that we will be unable to overcome problems that other countries have found insoluble. In England, some years ago, a comparatively small stream flooded and overflowed, with the result that there were an enormous loss of .life and tremendous damage. The entire town of Lynmouth was destroyed. In a distaster in New Zealand on Christmas Eve, 1953, a river in flood swept a bridge away as well as a train that was on it, causing a tremendous loss of life. The same sort of disasters are likely -to happen here, -and for -that reason there should foe expert people devoting their attention to both tin.’ prevention of, and measures of relief in, such disasters, as far as possible. I think that a very small committee to deal with this matter could do very useful work. It could co-operate with the States, and there is no doubt that it would gain much from the co-operation of the States. All that would be needed would be a few nien of the right calibre and proper experience, who could prepare a report and determine what future action was necessary. Any committee so formed could have, as its first objective, consideration of life-saving measures. The allocation of funds, as the honorable member for Melbourne has pointed out, might bc dealt with in a short-term way by some form of national insurance, so far as property is concerned. Of course, the loss of life is the first consideration. The lio.nora.ble member suggested that the whole scope of such a scheme should be to overcome the effects of disasters which result from floods and bush fires. I consider that the matter should be attended to. A long-term measure, which is much better, would be establishment of an authority to inquire into methods of overcoming all those troubles. Such an authority could take the action necessary to achieve a permanent cure of many of the troubles that we have, and prevent loss of life on a large scale and save property.

I consider that the whole tone of the resolution is to the effect that Commonwealth co-operation with the States is a major requirement in connexion with flood and bush fire prevention and relief. I do not think that the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) and the Minister for External Affairs were right in suggesting that this matter was purely a State responsibility. Actually, it is a matter which affects the whole of the Commonwealth, and it is a retrograde step for the Government to try to throw the responsibility for dealing with it back into the State sphere. Apparently it is unable to view the whole problem in its proper perspective.

Sir Arthur Fadden:

– The States have the constitutional power in regard to the. matter.

Mr JOSHUA:

– The Government should devote suitable attention to it. It could devise means of dealing with it. To judge from the tone of the remarks of the Government speakers on this matter, the Government at present rejects any responsibility in relation to it. I think that, instead of doing that, it should seek to remove any deficiencies in its constitutional powers in relation to flood, and bush fire relief, and thus be able to devote proper attention to the whole problem. A small committee such as I have suggested could devote its attention to theconstitutional aspects of the matter. I support the resolution, because I think that it deals with a matter of great urgency.

Mr FAIRHALL:
Paterson

.- I am afraid that the resolution on this matter has somewhat lost its urgency, because it failed to take precedence over another motion last Thursday. Otherwise the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) would not have given us a long dissertation on the Tennessee Valley Authority, and a long catalogue of Australia’s rivers. The Tennessee Valley Authority can have no application to the problem for which the honorable gentleman seeks consideration. I also remind the honorable gentleman that America at present is having considerable trouble over the Tennessee Valley Authority, not only in relation to the technical methods by which it proposes to prevent floods, but also because of the political impact of its organization on the life and times of the people of the Tennessee Valley. To-day, there is great strife between the proponents of big dams, which are subject to silting, as the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) has so rightly pointed out, and those who advocate conservation farm methods as the real answer to floods. In any case, I think that we should be particularly grateful to the honorable member for Melbourne for raising this matter, because his raising of it allows us to get on the record some particularly important points at. this time.

I wish first to refer to the constitutional aspect of the matter. The honorable member for Melbourne claimed that the Government’s attitude to this matter was faulty. The constitution reserves to the Commonwealth certain enumerated powers, and leaves the un enumerated powers, the residue, to the States. It is pretty clear that since the control of all the factors that enter into flood mitigation are not enumerated in the Constitution as being within the federal power, this Government has no authority to act in the matter. If any further proof of this were required it could be found in the fact that all aspects of flood mitigation, such as soil and water conservation, local government, and harbours and rivers, are under the control of State Ministers. If they were not the responsibility of the State Government, why would a Minister be appointed to watch over them? The Tennessee Valley Authority drew its constitutional power from the control of navigation. It is not a bit of good for the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), to tell this Government to clean up the rivers so that they may be used for navigation. Except for a. small portion of our coast, very few of our eastern coastal rivers are suitable for navigation. Of course, ships are no longer able to compete with other forms of transport in the carriage of goods interstate.

The honorable member for Melbourne did give us a clue or two as to why the job had not been done. He pointed out that the last dam built under the Tennessee valley scheme had been completed on time. If ever a dam is built in this country on time by any State government, with one exception, I should certainly like to hear about it. The Eildon weir, in Victoria, was finished ahead of time and at a lower cost than had been estimated, because the work was done on contract by private engineers. When we turn to the lamentable record of the New South Wales Government, we are reminded that the Glenbawn dam is the only dam on which work has been commenced in the Hunter Valley. In 1946, a Liberal government estimated that the cost would be £1,500,000 and began operations upon it. So far, it has cost £6,000,000. According to the statement of the Minister responsible, it will take four or five years to complete it and the ultimate cost will be something like £9,000,000. It was originally planned as a conservation dam for irrigation purposes, but nothing has yet been done to provide for the reticulation of the water. There is some satisfaction that, because of the cost and time involved in doing this, the dam will ultimately become a mitigation dam. In that role, it could give some help to the severely injured Hunter River Valley.

I have clearly shown that the constitutional power for carrying out this sort of work resides in the State Government, and that, for the same reason, the Australian Government is excluded from undertaking it. Let us see how well the State is prepared to handle the job. The question of finance has been raised. This involves two points. Is the State Government willing to handle the job, and does it know what the job constitutes? Secondly, has it sufficient funds to enable it to do the work? Ever since 1S6S a series of reports by competent people have been made to the New South Wales Government on what ought to be done to mitigate - one cannot prevent - floods in the Hunter Valley. In 1946-48, all of these reports were combined by a committee under the chairmanship of Mr. Huddleston. The committee produced what is now known as the Huddleston report. There has been some argument on whether it is sound. In fact, it is a comprehensive treatise of what ought to be done in the way of flood mitigation in the Hunter Valley. The New South Wales Government accepted the report and set about implementing its recommendations. If a government does that it cannot be said that it has not got th.? job well in its sights.

What is the financial side of this matter? Complaints have been made that the Australian Government is parsimonious in its treatment of State governments. It is a very sorry business when an attempt to delineate constitutional responsibilities is answered by the charge of buck-passing. If there is any buck-passing, it is from the State governments to the Australian Government. The honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) quoted figures, which are confirmed by the Auditor-General’s report, to show that the New South Wales Government has available to it a surplus of something like £43,000,000. I must mention that this amount, in part, comprises trust, funds.1 on behalf of superannuation, schemes and, therefore, is. not all available, for. spending, but in each of the. last. two. years. New South Wales has had a surplus of £3,000,000. annually; If the New South Wales: Government had been serious about this1 work it. could, therefore, have expended £6,000,000 on it. Those figures are confirmed by the Auditor-General’s report: Instead, a few years ago the Hunter Valley Conservation Trust was’ set up. It was purely an advisory body and, in plain terms,, its advice has been, pigeon-holed by the New South Wales Government.

As a result, of the severity of the 1955 floods, that. Government set up a committee of advice to re-assess the material in. the Huddleston report. I hope that out of it will come a plan for undertaking this work in the Hunter Valley. If it. is done’ there it may prove to be a pattern for similar jobs* which must be done on all these rivers. The point about all this is that, during, the recent, floods, the Treasurer and Acting Prime Minister (Sir Arthur Fadden),, made to the New South Wales Government an unqualified offer to deal, sympathetically with, any approach that it made on. behalf of any of its instrumentalities. No such approach has. yet been made- to the Australian Government. Under the circumstances,, we: are- simply bound’ by the constitution and’ cannot “ buy in “. When the New South Wales. Government comes forward with a scheme showing that it is prepared to- spend some of the money that it has for public works I’ have no doubt that this Government will give its proposal the most’ careful attention.

The honorable member- for Melbourne quoted the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who spoke in 1952 on this matter. If it is necessary to drive home the constitutional position, perhaps I may quote the late Mr. Chifley, who spoke on the subject in 1949. He said -

This is a matter’ for the State government to handle. It can include its plan for flood prevention- in the Maitland district in the list, of its works that it. submits to the Commonwealth for. inclusion in the loan programme. Other. Prime Ministers and Treasurers Have pointed out, as I have done’ on many occasions, that any catastrophe that happens in> only one State) can be dealt with- in the first place.- by the Government, of- that State . . .

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order!, The* honorable, member’s time. has. expired.

Sitting suspended, from IW.hS to 2.15’ p.m.

Mr. JAMES. (Hunter) Q2.15].. - I support the proposals which have been made by the honorable member for. Melbourne (Mr. CaLwelL).. Every member of the Government parties who has spoken in. this, debate has,, in effect, apologized for the. inaction, of the; Government, in relation, to floods in the: Hunter. River Valley. I have represented an electorate in. the Hunter River Valley for nearly 28 years. I know something about the flooding- that occurs, there, and I have frequently raised the matter in the Parliament. I persuaded the- Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to go to Maitland, and see the flood damage there. At one time, Maitland was the centre: of the electorate that I represented in the Parliament, but now it is in the division of. Paterson. When the Prime Minister came- to Maitland, he was impressed with the suggestion that an all-weather railway should be; provided to serve the’ coal-fields. It is, in some ways, a great, pity that the Hunter River Valley was not flooded during the last. war. If a flood, had occurred then, I am certain that flood control works would have been. put. in hand to prevent further floods’. In those circumstances,, no question would have been, raised about the constitutional power of the Commonwealth, to undertake’ the works-. However, I have- not time, to go into that, question now, although I should like to turn, on, so to speak, a flood of eloquence in regard to- it.

There, is talk of moving the township of Maitland. I believe that it would cost at least £15,000,000 to do so. Protests against the proposed, move have been made by people who have lived in Maitland for all their lives. It is a. very old town,, one of the first towns to be developed in Australia. The people who live there do not want to. leave. But the important point to bear in mind is that, even if the. township were shifted to- another site, the rich, fertile area, of the Hunter River Valley would still be subjected to floods, if flood, control works were not undertaken.

When the river is in flood, none of the mines in the area, with the exception of that operated by J. and A. Brown, can send coal’ out from the district, because the4 railways serving them are under water. The only all-weather- railway is that1 owned by J. and A. Brown. It is’ known as the Richmond Main railway. It is used to a degree by some of the other mines which are linked with it. When the Prime Minister visited Mait land, a New South Wales Government engineer suggested to him that the Richmond Main railway be connected with the main Sydney line through what’ is known as the Blue Gum shaft. Coal was produced once at Blue Gum, which is only a. mile and a half from the J. and A. Brown railway. A tunnel at Blue. Gum would enable the mines to send their coal via West Wallsend to Cockle Creek, and from there to the main Sydney line.

That’ is one solution of the problem. But when it is suggested that that work should be undertaken, by the Commonwealth,, invariably the reply given is. that the Constitution does not permit the Commonwealth to do so. I cannot understand why section 92. of the. Constitution is not invoked. It provides that trade, commerce and intercourse among the States, whether by means- of intern’al carriage or ocean navigation, shall be completely free. What is’ this Government doing to ensure that the terms- of section 92 are implemented? I believe that, under, the terms of the section, the Commonwealth could, be compelled to undertake’ flood control work in the Hunter River Valley: The Commonwealth is responsible, for freedom of trade between the States’, but floods in the Hunter River Valley restrict the movement of coal from New South Wales to the other States. Coal is,, so to speak, an interstate commodity. Coal from New South Wales is used in Victoria and South Australia. When the movement of coal from New South Wales is interrupted,. Melbourne and other cities are bereft of electric power and gas. The people of New South Wales have always claimed that’, the prevention of flood’s in the Hunter River Valley is a national matter. It is a national, matter,, and this Government is- the. national Government.

In. war-time; it can exercise wide powers under th» Constitution. If. the Hunter River. Valley had. been flooded during, wartime, the defence power would have been invoked, by the* Commonwealth, and something would haver been done to. make a new channel for the- Hunter: River: If a deep channel where: provided, some- relief would be given to. the port, of Newcastle, because ships could go up the river as far as Cessnock- or’ Muswellbrook: and load coal there. At. present, when the’ river is> in flood, hardly any coal can be moved.

It is a petty excuse to say that flood control in this” area, in a. State matter. It is clearly a. national matter,, with which this Government should deal. I have been, informed by engineers that floods- could be controlled if a straight canal, were constructed,, through which the waters of. the river could flow. If that were done,, ships could gO’up the river, as far as Muswellbrook, and. so relieve the congestion in the port of Newcastle. If the canal went through to Wallsend.,, the Hexham, swamps; could be drained and 10,000 acres of new land put into production.. I have overheard, talk about the possibility of constructing an aerodrome at the Hexham swamps. I think a seaplane base would be better, because no aircraft other’ than seaplanes would be able to land there during, a. flood, period.

I have said that one way to overcome transport difficulties in. this area during floods would, be to. provide an: all-weather railway. That could, be done by taking over, the Richmond Main, line and. connecting it,, through, a tunnel at Blue Gum, with the railway at West; Wallsend and Cockle Creek. The major portion of the line is already in. existence. The alternative to rail transport is road transport. There is a road from Kurri Kurri over the mountains to West Wallsend,, but. it is being chopped to pieces by heavy transports carrying coal during floods. If the road were reconstructed, it would provide an all-weather route for the transport of. coal by. road. The railway link would, not be nearly so expensive as. shifting- the township of Maitland. It would cost, not. £15,000,000, but about £10,000 or £15,000. The recent, flood in the: Hunter.- River Valley was. one. of the greatest: disasters, ever suffered’ by the people of Maitland and Singleton. The whole of the valley was flooded. The extent of the disaster emphasizes the need to do something to prevent further disasters. In addition to the road I have mentioned, there is another road which goes through Pelaw Main on to Mulherring and Dunkerville, over the mountain. Coal has been taken over that road from mines in the Maitland district and loaded on to railway wagons at Killingworth and other places.

I conclude by pleading with the Government to give some attention to flood control in this area. Many lives were lost during the recent floods. “We have recovered twelve bodies, but other bodies have not yet been found. I pay a tribute to the coal-miners for their work during the floods. They have been frequently maligned, unjustly, but when the recent floods occurred, they were prepared to risk their own lives in order to rescue people from the flood waters. These vile miners, as some people call them, did that. I have a good idea of what would happen to any honorable member who referred to them as “ vile miners “ outside this chamber.

Mr SPEAKER:

-Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.

Mr JEFF BATE:
Macarthur

– Two or three responsible members of the Australian Labour party have spoken on this subject, and it is very difficult to believe that they could be so insincere or cruel- as to lead people astray by claiming that the easiest way to deal with this problem is to tear up the constitution. Yet that is exactly what they are saying. They know very well that there are much more proper and swifter ways of assisting the sufferers in these areas than by an airy-fairy idea based on the spectacular scale of the Tennessee Valley Authority. That scheme is many times greater than the Snowy Mountains scheme, which will take from ten to twenty years to complete, and will cost about £400,000,000. The Tennessee Valley Authority has huge ship-building yards, petroleum refineries, and all those sorts of things. Yet the honorable member for Melbourne says “Let us have a Tennessee Valley Authority on the Hunter “.

Such a suggestion is many years before its time.

As one who has the privilege of representing the Commonwealth in those areas in flood time, I think it is extremely cruel and wrong to buoy up the hopes of those people in this way. I do not believe that the honorable member for Melbourne even hopes that his proposal will be supported by the House. He hopes to be Treasurer one day, and he would flinch from the enormous job that would confront him in financing such a work. Some people say that the Commonwealth should provide £50,000,000 or £100,000,000 for it, but before a government spends one penny of the taxpayer’s money, it should know the purpose for which the money is to be spent. The Premier of New South “Wales jealously guards the sovereignty of that State, and would fight to the last ditch any Commonwealth interference in State administration. “We know that the State concerned in this proposal is New South Wales. It is of no use to refer to the other States. The Premier of New South Wales has received a deputation from the people of the Hunter Valley and has told them that he will give consideration to any scheme that will help the valley. He is only giving it consideration.

What do we find when we examine history? Before the foundation of the Commonwealth eleven committees had investigated the problems of the Hunter Valley, and they produced brilliant essays but not one mention of a wall, not one suggestion for the opening of a river mouth, and not one suggestion for vegetational cover. I believe the Forestry Department has done something about the last-mentioned matter. It is interesting to note one committee has said in its report, that if there was a maximum forest cover in the Hunter Valley, the water under the Bellbar bridge would be reduced by one-fortieth. That would be an immediate way of preventing floods for all time. The Hunter district should go under pasture. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has worked for the eradication of rabbits, and pastures will come back once the rabbits have been destroyed. This is an opportunity to use this area, but innumerable dams must be constructed to hold the water, so that it may be paid out over the area in drought times when it is needed. Instead of this a very serious thing has happened, namely, the gouging out of the upper streams resulting in the bringing down of huge deposits of stones, pebbles and sand over this rich area.

We do not want to involve the taxpayers too deeply - the long-suffering people who not only have paid their taxes, but also have given to the Flood Appeal Fund generous donations amounting to over £3,000,000. They also gave £2,000,000 to the last Flood Relief Fund, and, over the years, they have given many millions of pounds. They do not wish to be involved in the work of the New South Wales Conservation Department, the Public Works Department or the Harbours and Rivers Board. They want the people to do the job who are best fitted to do it. The Premier of New South Wales has appointed still another committee. In the past, eleven committees have written very nice essays, and prepared drawings showing river heights and courses. I suspect that the Premier is trying to gain time. He is paying lip service to this matter, in the hope that since there have been four wet seasons, the next season will be dry, and not so much water will come down this river.

This latest committee is similar to the eleven that have preceded it. The heads of departments make some contribution to the problem by writing down some words, which do not produce effort.

This work is surely the job of the New South Wales Government, and the New South Wales Government would resent anybody coming into it. Of course, there have been other instrumentalities which have been mentioned by the honorable member for Melbourne. He says, “ Let us break the Constitution, because no one will challenge it”. When a responsible leader, who hopes to be the Treasurer, says something like that to buoy up people’s hopes, it is a dreadful thing. The New South Wales Government should get on with the job, and engage practical engineers.

There are three important things to do. First, we must open the mouths of all the rivers and dump the silt on the low-lying areas so that the valuable land can be brought into use. We must alter the courses of rivers, particularly that, of the Hunter at Maitland. The work should be done quickly, because the reports say that work which has already been done has made the situation worse. Another step to be taken is to provide a proper vegetational cover. When New South Wales grapples with the engineering problems, it will then be in a position to approach the Commonwealth for assistance. Let us not forget that New South Wales has not yet asked for assistance. The honorable member for Melbourne has asked us to consent to the provision of money for the aid of the State in this matter. That is not our job. The New South Wales Government has not even asked the Commonwealth for this money, although the people of the Hunter Valley have been on the doorstep of the Premier asking for it.

What has the Commonwealth done in the matter? We know that the New South Wales Government in the past did nothing but appoint committees. The Commonwealth has provided practical assistance in flood time. In the last flood, when the need of the people in the stricken valley was urgent, the New South Wales Government said, “ We shall play shrewd. We will not be honest with the Commonwealth. Whatever we say we need will be too small “. The Treasurer said, “ I shall offer an additional £100,000 “, and ultimately he provided £375,000, and handed over the cheque for £250,000 sterling provided by the British Government. Every available Commonwealth employee who could assist in the relief of the area was made available. The Treasurer was Acting Prime Minister at the time, and he sent a large number of men there. Members of the armed services were there in great force - the signallers, crews of army ducks, members of the Royal Australian Air Force, the crew of a naval helicopter, and technicians from the Postmaster-General’s Department. They were in the area all the time and they knew that they had the Government behind them. The Government was giving them every encouragement, andthe Treasurer actedgenerously and in a humane manner towards the victims. The people concerned and I will always appreciate his efforts. But the New South Wales Governmentrefused to name the amount thatit would need, because it knew that in the hysterical situation which had beencreated, it would be attacked. The Commonwealth was first out of the starting-box on that occasion, and did everything possible to help.

Like the honorable member for Paterson (Mr.Fairhall), I believe that the Commonwealth will give more than sympathetic consideration to any representations by the State on this matter. TheCommonwealth will do something practical, and not in the airy-fairy way mentioned by the honorable member for Melbourne which was thought up at a moment’s notice. The honorable gentleman is well aware of the magnitude of the Tennessee Valley Authority because he gave a list of all the works that are proceeding in that part of the United States of America such as dams on the headwaters, dams on the main rivers, and locks through which ships pass up and down the rivers. All sorts of industries are involved, and the value of the enterprise runs into hundreds of millions of dollars. The honorable member should not tell the small shopkeeper and the small farmer of Maitland thatthey will get anything like a Tennessee Valley Authority in that part of New South Wales.I ask Opposition members who have spoken not to be cruel to those people, but to follow the proper procedure in this matter. The State Government is well aware of the proper course. Let the committee it has appointed make its report and let the State Government bring engineers from Holland or the Tennessee Valley Authority if it likes, and evolve a practical scheme. Then we shall examine it and try to help the State out of its trouble.

Mr Calwell:

– I wish to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) stated that I hadinvited the Government to break theConstitution. I did nothing ofthe sort. I did say that we should establish a system of co-ordinationand co-operationbetween the Australian and State governments for the purpose of mitigating and preventing floods, and for compensating the victims of floods. I suggestedthat it might be desirable for this Government toseek,by ‘referendum, an amendment of the Constitution. At no time did I state that it should break the Constitution.

Sir ARTHUR FADDEN:
MCPHERSON, QUEENSLAND · CP

– I rise to order. Is the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) in order in making a second speech on this matter? I submit that he is not now making a personal explanation. His remarks are an amplification of his earlier speech.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order! Under the Standing Orders, an honorable member is always entitled to make an explanation about any matter in relation to which his remarks have been misunderstood.

Mr Calwell:

– Or misrepresented, if I might make that amendment to your observation, Mr. Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER:

-Order ! The honorable member did not claim that he had been misrepresented.

Mr Calwell:

– I was coming to the point of stating that I had ‘been misrepresented.I did not suggest that the Government should break the Constitution. I am as good a constitutionalist as is any one else. The honorable member for Macarthur misrepresented me further by stating that the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark), the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) and I-

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order !The honorable gentleman may deal only with an alleged misrepresentation of himself. He may not discuss an alleged misrepresentation of other honorable members.

Mr Calwell:

– Thehonorable member for Macarthurstated that I and other honorable members-

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! The honorable member may not discuss anything that was saidabout other honorable members.

Mr Calwell:

– I wish merely to illustrate the statement that the honorable member forMacarthur made. He stated that I was tryingto be cruel to the people who had suffered in the floods. That statement was a gross misrepresentation. The whole thing is just an example of the delightful irresponsibility for which the honorable member is so justly notorious.

Mr Jeff Bate:

– I should like to make a personal explanation. I claim that I have been misrepresented by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who suggested that I had misrepresented him when I stated that he would break the Constitution. “When I made that statement, I referred to the honorable member’s observation that when the Snowy Mountains HydroElectric Authority had been established he knew it was ultra vires the Constitution, and that no one would challenge it. Those were the honorable member’s words. Therefore, he stated that Labour broke the Constitution, and that he would do it again since Labour’s action had not been challenged. He and those who sit behind him are guilty of breaking the Constitution.

Mr Calwell:

– I wish to make a personal explanation about a matter on which I have been grossly misrepresented. I did not state that I acknowledged that the action of the Labour Government was ultra vires the Constitution. I did state that the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), when he was Leader of the Opposition, said that the establishment of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority was of doubtful constitutionality. If the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) can find in Hansard the words that he has attributed to me, I shall give ?50 to any hospital in his electorate that he might care to name.

Mr DALY:
Grayndler

.- I wish to say a few words about the matter under discussion-

Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) agreed to -

That the business of the day be called on.

SUPPLY. (“ Grievance Day.”)

Mr SPEAKER:

-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - As it is now past the time which is provided for “ Grievance Day “, order of the day No. 1 will not be called on this afternoon. The motion in relation to the Committee of Supply will be set down for a later hour this day.

page 1137

SUPPLY BILL (No. 1) 1955-56

Second Reading

Debate resumed from the 25th May (vide page 1107), on motion by Sir Arthurfadden -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Mr BEALE:
Minister for Supply · Parramatta · LP

– During my absence from the House yesterday when this bill was under discussion, the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler) made a speech about uranium and atomic energy. I should not have intervened in this debate except that, according to reports that I have read in the newspapers, the honorable gentleman made some remarks that cannot be allowed to go uncorrected. Therefore, I now want to correct them. The honorable member referred, first, to the Government’s ore-buying and uranium production policy. The kindest thing that I can say about his speech in relation to this matter is that he does not understand the Government’s policy.

May I recapitulate briefly to the House - it has been stated from time to time - the Government’s main heads of policy on this matter. The first point is that we buy ore, from which oxide is derived at Rum Jungle, up to 1962, at published prices. The second point is that we also refine ore obtained from outside the Rum Jungle area within an economic distance of Rum Jungle. That ore is treated at the Rum Jungle refining plant by arrangement with the Combined Development Agency. We are taking care of those small producers who are within an economic distance of the Rum Jungle area where a plant is in existence. The third point is that in any area other than the Rum Jungle district where a treatment plant is situated, the Government will buy oxide produced by any such treatment plant. Interested people are coming to the Australian Atomic Energy Commission to enter into contractual arrangements with respect to that matter. It is true that, at the present time, there are no treatment plants other than those at Rum Jungle and Radium Hill, in

South Australia, which are both government concerns; but events are developing so that it is fairly clear that there will be - I hope there will be - two large treatment plants available for the treatment of ore from promising areas elsewhere in Australia, to which I shall refer in a moment. In anticipation of that state of affairs, we are prepared to buy oxide from producers in districts within economic range of such a treatment plant.

The next point is that in any area other than Rum Jungle where there are facilities for treatment, we shall buy the ore up to 1962. Our purpose is to take care of the smaller producers of ore who have not themselves the financial resources required for the construction of treatment plants, which, as we know, are very expensive. We shall, therefore, ensure that so long as we can get the ore treated at some plant in the district, we shall buy the ore produced by those men whom I might describe as the small producers. We shall, if .necessary, make arrangements - and I do not expect any difficulty about it - with the owners of the treatment plants in order to ensure that the ore which we purchase shall be turned into oxide. Again, any interested people who inquire from the Atomic Energy Commission - and they are doing so from day to day - will be informed of the Government’s policy in this matter. In areas other than Rum Jungle, and Radium Hill which is a South Australian concern - and in districts other than, shall I say, the Mount Isa-Cloncurry area where we expect to have a treatment plant, or the South Alligator River area, in the Northern Territory, where we hope to have a plant also in due course - in areas other than those where there are no treatment facilities, the Government is not, prepared merely to buy uranium ore. We are not yet prepared to establish buying stations to buy the ore merely because some one has ore to sell.

The reasons for this policy are not far to seek. The Government means the taxpayers. We have a responsibility to them in this matter, which, if we were reckless about it, might involve the loss of millions of pounds. The Government is not prepared to buy ore unless there are reasonable prospects of having it treated and converted into oxide as it might be uneconomic to transport it over vast distances. If there were not enough ore in the particular field to justify the construction of a treatment plant, v.e should be in the position of having bought the ore and being unable to treat it. As a result, we might lose vast sums of public moneys. Therefore, acting on the advice of a very eminent mining committee, which advises the Government on these matters, we have at present - and that does not mean for all time in the future, because this is essentially an enterprise that is still in the stage of development - the Government is not prepared to announce, as a policy, that it will buy uranium ore anywhere in Australia. In other words, our policy is that the establishment of buying stations and the indiscriminate purchase of ore must depend upon adequate reserves of ore, which, as an illustration - and it does not really matter whether this figure is the correct one - I might put at 500,000 tons of average grade ore known to exist in the particular district. I am told that reserves of that magnitude are necessary to justify the construction of a treatment plant, which may cost millions of pounds. 1 As a consequence, enough ore must be available to enable the cost of the plant needed to refine it to be properly amortized. So it is necesary to have in sight reserves of ore sufficient to justify the big capital expenditure on treatment plant. In other words, it is necessary that the treatment plant should have been built or should be in course of construction. Those are the important factors - the quantity of ore and the existence or intended construction of a treatment plant.

In adopting that policy, the Government has been dependent on the advice of some very eminent persons. A member of the committee which has advised the Government is Mr. Julius Kruttschnitt, an eminent mining man. Other members are Dr. Raggatt, of the Department of National Development; Mr. Hugh Murray, the general manager of the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company, another mining expert; and Mr. Anderson, of the Zinc Corporation Limited. The Government understands the problems of the small man whose means are limited and who would like to know that any ore that he produces could be sold to the Government. But the Government considers that it has an obligation to the taxpayers. Some degree of balance must be kept in the expenditure of public moneys, and the Government considers that its policy is correct for the time being. But this matter is under constant review and it arises only in respect of part of the Mount IsaCloncurry area. At present, that area is again being appraised in order to ascertain what reserves of ore exist there and at what period of time it may be appropriate to change Government policy with respect to ore buying. I do not intend these remarks to apply to the Mary Kathleen field in which a large quantity of ore has been proved and in which I hope that a treatment plant will be erected in due course. I am now referring to prospects in other parts of the Mount Isa-Cloncurry area in which the owners of leases claim that they have large quantities of ore. The Government, after considering the information that it has received from its own geological experts and from the Queensland Department of Mines, is not able to agree with the assessment of the owners of the amount of ore in that area. I do not want to say anything to discourage anybody. As appraisals continue, the presence of large reserves may be confirmed. I hope that it will be confirmed. If it is confirmed, I have not much doubt that a treatment plant will be constructed in that area. It may be necessary to construct a treatment plant other than the one that the Government hopes to have built at the Mary Kathleen field because, unfortunately, the type of ore in one part of the district is very different from that found in another part and the different types do not necessarily lend themselves to the same kind of treatment. However, I think that I mentioned the other day, in answer to a question by the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) that Mount Isa Mines Limited had shown an interest in this matter, and that the company had intimated that, subject to certain considerations, particularly the proof of adequate reserves of ore, the company was prepared to erect a treatment plant. I hope that as a result of the proof of adequate reserves of ore, and the implementation of the offer of Mount Isa Mines Limited or some other company, that another mine will commence to produce uranium oxide in addition to the Mary Kathleen mine.

Mr Barnard:

– Why not establish an ore-buying station in the meantime?

Mr BEALE:

– The answer to that question is that an ore-buying station itself is very expensive. In the United States of America, about 100,000 dollars are required for the construction of even the minimum sampling plant which is necessary to an ore-buying station. That amount cannot be regarded as a barrier in itself, but if the Government uses the taxpayers’ money to set up an orebuying station, and it is ascertained ultimately that there is not enough ore in the district to justify a treatment plant, then the Government has carried all the risk and the mining entrepreneur has not done so. The Government believes that, as far as possible, uranium-mining should be treated much the same as other forms of mining. Consequently, on the advice’ of its mining advisory committee, the Government considers that it is too early to make a decision about the establishment of an ore-buying station.

The honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler) attacked what he called the Government’s policy of being the sole buyer and the sole seller of uranium. That is the policy of the Government of the United States. It is the policy of the Canadian Government. So far, it has been the policy of the Australian Government for very good reasons. One reason has been that that policy has at least offered a guarantee of an assured market to people who are interested in the production of uranium oxide. But the Government is not averse to the making of direct contractual arrangements between the producers and the buyers of uranium oxide as long as certain factors are attended to. One such factor is that the defence needs of the country must be safeguarded. I am sure that honorable members will agree with that statement. Furthermore, the Government must take care that so much of this precious mineral is not sold as would deplete our reserves for the future. The Government must also attend to the local requirements because Australia will need a great deal of uranium oxide for its own atomic energy purposes in future. Subject to these considerations, the Government is not wedded to any doctrinaire notion that the Government must be the sole buyer or the sole seller of uranium oxide.

Mr Barnard:

– Does the Minister know how much ore Australia will require?

Mr BEALE:

– Tes. I have figures which indicate how much ore Australia will require, although they are rather in the nature of enlightened guesswork. If producers of uranium oxide can find markets for the ore, the Government will regard arrangements for the sale of the ore to buyers other than the Government with approval, subject to the three factors that I have mentioned being taken into account.

Mr Greenup:

– The ore is not inexhaustible.

Mr BEALE:

– No ore is inexhaustible. Copper is exported from Australia, but our supplies of that mineral will be exhausted one day. Our supplies of other minerals may be exhausted also. But that is not a reason for leaving them in the ground. It is not yet known how much uranium Australia has. The Government must take care not to allow Australia’s uranium oxide resources to be depleted to such an extent that we shall lack adequate supplies in half a generation.

I now wish to speak about two particular areas. Excluding Rum Jungle and Radium Hill, there are only two known places in Australia where substantial quantities of uranium ore have been proved.

Mr Barnard:

– What about Tasmania ?

Mr BEALE:

– Some investigation has been made in that State, but, so far, the results have not been equal to the optimistic expectations concerning deposits in that State.

Mr Barnard:

– Are investigations’ still being -made?

Mr BEALE:

– Yes. But, so far, deposits have not been found of a significant grade or quantity. The two areas to which I referred are the Mary Kathleen area and the South Alligator River area on the fringe of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. The Mary Kathleen area is being developed by Australasian Oil Exploration Limited, which has taken long leases from the Queensland Government, and which has claimed to have proved very substantial quantities of ore. The Rio Tinto company, a very fine and competent British mining company, has made an arrangement with Australasian Oil Exploration Limited as a result of which it is spending a considerable amount of money on testing and drilling;, because, apparently, it is not yet quite satisfied about the reserves of ore that are available. It expects to know the position, within a few months. If the reserves are proved - and it hopes and believes that they will be proved - it is prepared, under its tentative arrangement with Australasian Oil Exploration Limited, to invest, I think, £5,000,000 or £6,000,000, and to erect a large treatment plant costing some millions of pounds. If, as I hope, that happens - indeed, at the risk of being wrong, I believe it will happen - the Mary Kathleen area will be satisfactorily taken care of, and there should be, in the course of time, a substantial output of uranium oxide.

The Alligator River area, in the Northern Territory, is being developed by the North Australian Uranium Company, of which Mr. Tom Murray, of Sydney, is the chairman, of directors. That company has been very active, and it too claims, to have large reserves. There may be differences, of opinion as to the extent, of the reserves. Preliminary negotiations with the Rio Tinto company broke- down, not through the fault of either of those parties, but for other reasons.. A very large and powerful financial and engineering corporation, the Atlas Corporation, of America,, has entered the picture. It has made an arrangement with the North Australian Uranium Company which is similar to that which was being, negotiated with the Rio Tinto company, and is taking, a 50 per cent, interest. Drilling and prospecting in the Alligator River area will take a longer ‘time than in the Mary Kathleen area, because more proving needs to bo done. If, as they hope, the area is proved - again, at the risk of being wrong, I believe it will be proved - that large American corporation, in conjunction with the Australian company, will erect a treatment plant costing some millions of pounds. We will then have, in the Northern Territory, another substantial producer of uranium oxide, lt may reasonably be expected that, in the two areas other than Rum Jungle and Radium Hill in which there are substantial reserves, treatment plants will come into existence.

Honorable members may ask what we intend to do with the product of those two areas. Before I answer that question, let me say that it must be remembered that, if it were not for the encouragement given by the Government, the Rio Tinto company would not have come to Australia. The Government and the Australian Atomic Energy Commission were very active in interesting this company in the production of uranium oxide, and it is partly, at least, as a result of those activities that the existing very suitable arrangement has been made. The Government also had discussions with the controllers of the North Australian Uranium Company, as a result of which it felt able to interest outsiders and, ultimately, the Atlas Corporation.

I now turn to the question about what the Government intends to do with the product. The Government has been searching for markets, and it believes that it has found those markets. I am not prepared to discuss that matter in detail, because it is at present the subject of negotiation. I do believe, however, that as a result of what has happened and of what will yet be done, Australia will be able to export substantial quantities of uranium oxide to Great Britain to assist it in its civilian atomic energy programme. If development “goes to plan, Australia’s known and proved reserves of uranium ore will be mined and treated, and the finished product will be sold not disadvantageously to this country or to the mining interests that are developing it. So much for uranium.

I hope to be able, when the House meets for the next session, to say something more specific about, the subject. I have felt obliged to make the statements that I have made because there is abroad an idea, which has been prompted by the honorable member for Mitchell, that the Government has been sitting back in the breeching, that it has not been active, that it has been conducting a kind of socialistic enterprise and has not been giving private enterprise a free hand. That is a seemingly paradoxical situation, because some of the very people who have been saying that the Government has not been encouraging private enterprise are the first to clamour for the Government to build treatment plants. The Government is completely opposed to such an approach. It believes that the people who should build the treatment plants are those who are mining the ore and who are developing the areas, just as those people who mine copper and gold build their own crushers and smelters. I hope I have said sufficient to indicate that the Government has not been inactive, but that it has been abreast of the times in encouraging the development of the known areas of uranium ore reserves.

I now wish to deal with the attack tha f was made by the honorable member for Mitchell upon the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and the Government. I wish the honorable member had spoken to me about the matter before he raised it in the House. My door is always open to honorable members. If he had spoken to me about it, he would not, I hope, have made the statements that he has made. I propose to demonstrate that almost every one of them was untrue. Some of them were grievously untrue, and some were very unjust to the gentlemen who are controlling the activities of the Atomic Energy Commission.

Mr Haylen:

– Why does the Government not bring the honorable member before the Privileges Committee?

Mr BEALE:

– The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) wants to know why the Government does not bring the honorable member for Mitchell before the

Committee of Privileges. The honorable member himself is the latest known expert on breaches of privilege in this House.

Mr Haylen:

– I was only trying to help the honorable gentleman.

Mr BEALE:

– The apprehensive look on the face of the honorable member for Parkes indicates to me that he is worrying about what might happen to him next week. The first charge levelled by the honorable member for Mitchell was that the Atomic Energy Commission was trying to prevent any other organization from generating atomic energy before it was able to do so. I cannot deplore too much the reckless inaccuracy of that statement. In the first place, the Atomic Energy Commission has no intention of generating atomic power. The function of the commission is to stimulate research and development, and to make available knowledge so that private enterprise or State public utilities may be able to generate atomic power. The fact that the commission does not exist for the purpose of generating atomic power is abundantly clear. The statement that it is engaging in some kind of jealous race to make sure that it is the first authority to generate atomic power is so inaccurate as to be reprehensible. It is certainly very unfair to the commission.

The second charge was that the commission was reluctant to give assistance to universities for research activities unless that research was for the benefit of, and under the control of, the commission itself. No other statement could be more inaccurate. The honorable gentleman has purported to have read the report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and my recent supplementary statement in the House. If he has gained the impression that he has indicated to the House, he has not read them very carefully. What the Government is trying to do, on the contrary, is to establish facilities for research and development, so that it may say to the universities, “ Here are the facilities. What kind of research do you wish to conduct with them? The Government is spending between £5,000,000 and £10,000,000 on those facilities. They are available for you “. As proof of the Government’s interest, I shall again read to the House a letter that was written to the universities recently. The letter was sent to, among others, the University of Sydney, which is the university that I attended, so if there is any criticism, it will be realized that I am not making it wittingly. The letter reads as follows : -

The Commission, therefore, makes the following proposals: -

that each Australian University should supply reasonably detailed proposals of research related to atomic energy which it wouldwish to carry out and which would require special facilities at the Commission’s research establishment, together with the space which might be required and the University staff that would be involved ;

that, in a similar manner, each University should indicate any facilities it expects to require in relation to post-graduate training courses in the atomic energy field, which it may be planning and in which the Commission’s facilities would assist.

I do not know how any offer could be clearer or fairer than that. Some of the universities have replied, but some have not. We are calling a conference of their representatives to have a free discussion of the matter in order to find out in what way the Government’s very expensive instrumentality can be made available for atomic and nuclear research. In doing all this, we have followed, in principle, what has been done in England for many years at the famous Harwell establishment. I have it on the direct authority of Sir John Cockcroft himself, whose letter I have in my papers, that the peopleof England have been conforming to the pattern of having a governmental instrumentality, on which has been spent between £40,000,000 and £50,000,000. Subject to certain defence requirements the results of the research work at Harwell is made available to all the universities of Great Britain. That arrangement works well and has been very happily accepted by the British universities. I am assured of that fact, as also is the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Our scientific advisory committee consists. of Professor Oliphant, who is an individualist and would not support any encroachment upon normal university research, Professor Martin, Professor Titterton and Professor Watson Munro. Professor

Watson Munro, who operated the first reactor in Canada, and was a professor of physics there, came over to Australia to be our first director of the atomic research establishment. Every’ one of those gentlemen recommended this method 1:<> us, and so we are adopting it. If I had sufficient time, I could explain to the Mouse the reason why, because we have adopted this course, we have been charged with having tried to suppress university research, and to interfere with normal academic scholastic courses at the universities. Nothing could be more false or more ridiculous, having regard to the advice of the very eminent men who are advising the Government in these matters.

The next allegation was that the commission intends to build a reactor for the production of power at Menai at a cost of about £5,500,000. We do not intend to do anything of the kind. It is to be a research instrument, called a medium power high neutron flux reactor, of the most up-to-date type. It is not being built for power purposes at all. Lt was also said that the invitation to the universities, which I read a moment ago, is contrary to accepted principles of research by universities with their own facilities. I hope I have said enough of British practice, which we are following, to indicate that that statement is also untrue.

What I have said of Great Britain is also true of Canada, where conditions are very similar to those in Australia. There are varying opinions in the United States of America. Some gentlemen who went to the United States recently obtained opinions from some of the American universities indicating that they disagree, in effect, with the Harwell system. As I have said, the Australian Government, acting upon what it believes to be the best scientific advice, feels that the general method it is adopting is the best one for use in Australia’s circumstances. [Extension of time granted.”]

I thank the House for granting me an extension of time. I did not mean to be so long, but these matters take a good deal of explanation.

There were a number of other allegations. One was that Professor Baxter, who is the deputy chairman of the commission, and a very distinguished chemical engineer in the field of nuclear engineering, as I remember the phrase, “ committed an astonishing reversal of policy and an amazing somersault, in now saying something quite different from what he said before “. The suggestion was that some time ago Professor Baxter said that low-power reactors were not necessary, and denounced them, but now says they are necessary. As the Minister who is in charge of Government policy on this matter, who has been handling it since. 1950, and has taken it through every painful but progressive step since March, 1950, I say that there has never been any change or reversal of the Government policy on this matter since the very earliest days. We have moved progressively to our present position, but we have not reversed in a substantial degree the policy that we applied.

I deplore the fact that Professor Baxter’s name has been drawn into this matter. Any honorable member may attack me, or the Government, but for an honorable member to attack Professor Baxter is, I think, quite shameful because, after all, he has no comeback. It is part of a policy being adopted by certain people outside this House.

Mr J R FRASER:
ALP

– Pressure groups!

Mr BEALE:

– It may be that that is the correct term for them. I regret very much that Professor Baxter’s name has been drawn into the matter, because he has no means of defence.

Mr Haylen:

– Would the Minister say that the “guided Messel” is behind this?

Mr BEALE:

– I mention no names because it is not my policy to do so; but honorable members may draw their own conclusions. It is suggested - and this is the point on which I reach my general conclusions - that there has been hostility on the part of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission to the nuclear foundation at the University of Sydney. Since that suggestion has been made, the truth had better be told. For some months past, I have been trying to reconcile opposing opinions by having many discussions with certain gentlemen in Sydney, but somebody apparently went to the honorable member for Mitchell and made him the mouthpiece for an attack in this House. The truth, as I see it, is that the nuclear foundation, consisting of a very desirable body of businessmen in Sydney, with Professor Messel, Professor of Physics at the University of Sydney, as its head, raised a great deal of money for nuclear research. Having done so, the foundation, in conjunction with the University of Sydney, announced that it proposed to build two low-power reactors at a cost of about £2,000,000, for research and training in the university. The foundation asked the Australian Atomic Energy Commission for £2,000,000 for that purpose. We are expending £5,500,000, and probably a good deal more, on a research and development programme, as I indicated to the House several minutes ago. Before we would be prepared to expend au additional £2,000,000 of the taxpayers’ money we would want to be sure that we would expend it wisely. So the commission took the advice of its scientific advisory committee, consisting of Professor Oliphant, Professor Martin of the University of Melbourne, Professor Baxter, Professor Anderson of the University of Melbourne, and several eminent physicists and scientists, whose names I cannot at the moment remember, which was backed by others abroad and by Professor Watson Munro. The unanimous advice tendered to the Government was that a contribution of this money to the University of Sydney, or, to any university, for low-power reactors was not economically justifiable, having regard to the existing facilities. That is not to say that the University of Sydney, or any university, is not perfectly free to build its own reactor, or for the foundation, to do so, or to raise moneys in any other way. We offer no view on that. It is a matter for the university authorities. I should be the last to seek to interfere with academic freedom in that respect, but when public moneys are involved, we are bound to take advice on the wisest course of action. We have been advised by the. Scientific Advisory Committee that, having regard to existing facilities, the

Government would not be: justified in making that contribution. That advice has been conveyed to the foundation. However, the foundation, without consulting lis, announced publicly that it would go on with its proposal. Since then there has been a barrage - sometimes subtle and sometimes not at all subtle - of criticism of the Government, aided by a Sydney newspaper which is carrying on a campaign of vilification against me personally. The proprietor of the newspaper is a member of the foundation. I want to tell the House that the attack has not been directed at the Government, or the commission because they will not find the £2,000,000. The answer to such a suggestion would be too obvious. It is suggested that we are trying to monopolize scientific research, and that we are trying to prevent the universities from having freedom in these matters. We are doing nothing of the sort. The attack that is being made is being made obliquely and indirectly, and it arises out of the circumstance that the Government, because of the advice it received, has not. deemed it desirable to expend such a large sum of money in this direction. J do hope that this matter can be sorted out by reasonable men on both sides. We are trying to be reasonable about it. 1 know that many people connected with the nuclear foundation are reasonable. The House and the country ought to know that it is foolish to dissipate our resources and build up enmities because of something that should not exist. If we did that, we would not be getting on with the main job, which is to ensure that the whole resources of this nation, including the resources of private enterprise, shall be directed towards research, training, and development. All those resources are freely offered by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and the Government to all. the universities in Australia, without bickering and without argument, in order that Australia may, as soon as possible, reap the incalculable benefits of economical industrial atomic power.

Mr GEORGE LAWSON:
Brisbane

– This debate gives honorable members an opportunity to speak on many subjects. A Supply bill is brought in at this time every year so that the Government may have sufficient funds to carry on until the Estimates for the new financial year have been passed. Before. I deal with the bill, itself, I desire to make a few observations in connexion with the alleged lily-white NonCommunist Anti-Labour party, which sits on the corner benches. I have been a member of this Parliament for many years, and I have seen a similar corner party sitting almost in the same part of this House, but I have never heard the members of a party so vilify others and make so many unwarranted charges as members of the present corner party have done, in an attempt to make the Parliament and the people believe that its members are the only lily-white members of this House who are opposed to communism. Until quite recently, honorable members who were referred to as Communists, or as Communist sympathizers, always had an opportunity of protesting by raising a point of order. Unfortunately, since the present corner party came into the House, honorable members have not had such an opportunity. I am not saying whether your ruling is right or wrong, Mr. Speaker, but when members of the Anti-Communist Labour party charge all members of the Labour party with being Communists, no notice is taken, and we have no opportunity to defend ourselves. 1. tell those alleged lily-white AntiCommunists that I do not take second place to any man in this chamber, or in Australia, in my opposition, to communism. My opinion of communism to-day is the same as it was when I was engaged in the industrial field and led an industrial organization which was opposed to communism. Although members of the corner party are permitted to refer to us in the House as Communists - I take it that I am included in the charge - they dare not refer to me as a Communist outside the House. I challenge them to make such an accusation outside. I have said that I take second place to no man in toy opposition to communism. I go further and say that there is not a person in Australia who has physically suffered more than I have at the hands of members of the Communist party. I was fighting communism when those honorable gentlemen’ did not know the meaning of the word.. Yet they tell- me, and other members’ of the Australian Labour party, that we are Communist supporters and fellowtravellers. My background, as far as communism is concerned, is well known in Queensland, because I had the courage to fight the Communist party, not only with words but,, unfortunately, on many occasions with bare knuckles: I was mobbed and kicked from one end of a meeting room to another, and left for dead, by a number of Communists, because I had the courage to stand up and fight them. I was waylaid on my way home and on the way to my office on two occasions. Lastly, my home was raided by members of the Communist party. The then Commissioner of Police in Queensland sent for me and advised me to carry fire-arms, which I refused to do. To safeguard my life, I was given police protection for at least several months. That is my record and my background in opposition to communism, yet these expelled members of the Labour party tell me, not directly but indirectly, that’ I am a Communist, and that I belong to a party which sympathizes with Communists.

Mr Keon:

– I rise to order. Never at any time has any honorable member in this corner referred to the honorable member for Brisbane as a Communist. We have said time and again that he has been dragged at the heels of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) in supporting the Communist party.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! No point of order is involved.

Mr GEORGE LAWSON:

– The tactics adopted by honorable members sitting on the corner- benches are similar to those adopted by the Communists. I repeat that they have referred to me as a Communist, not as an individual but as a member of a party. They are not game to refer to me in that manner outside the House. I had never heard venomous abuse levelled, against any person or any party in ‘this House until I heard it levelled by members of the corner party. Every time they rise to their feet, in almost every debate, they attack the Leader of the Opposition, who has been fighting in the interests of this great Australian Labour party and not in the interests of the group for which those members are fighting. They come into the House and tell only half-truths, indeed, not even that. They have charged the Leader of the Opposition with having been instrumental in having the industrial groups banned. They say that they were in with the groups. They were in with them all right; there is no doubt about that, but they were in with them too far for the good of the Labour movement. If the Leader of the Opposition was the means of disbanding the groups, I say that he has done this country and the Australian Labour movement a good turn. I am referring to the industrial groups as we knew them prior to their banning by the Australian Labour party conference at Hobart a. few weeks ago.

Mr KEON:

– The honorable member admits, then, that they were banned ?

Mr GEORGE LAWSON:

– -They were, to a certain extent. The industrial groups, as we knew them, were disbanded, but the decision of the federal conference of the Australian Labour party at Hobart means that individual unions may still have their own industrial groups.

Mr Whitlam:

– But they are not allowed to bandy our party name around.

Mr GEORGE LAWSON:

– Exactly. Our friends of the. corner party complain about the recommendation of the federal executive of the Australian Labour party that the former Victorian industrial groups be disbanded. The Leader of the Opposition is not to blame for that action. He certainly made certain complaints and charges, and the honorable members on the corner benches had an opportunity to refute them. After all the evidence had been sifted for weeks, those honorable gentlemen were not able to prove any of the charges that they had been making both inside and outside this chamber. Let me tell the honorable member for Yarra that the evidence showed that the industrial groups, which were allegedly functioning under the auspices and control of the great Australian Labour party, were actually working under a form of constitution that was foreign to the Labour party’s policy and platform. I say that if the Leader of the Opposition had never done anything else but put this particular group in its place and have its members expelled from the great Australian Labour party, he would still have done great service, not only to the Labour party itself but also to the people of Australia. I want to say no more than that on this particular subject.

I wish now to make a few observations on the forthcoming budget, and to say that I share with my colleagues disappointment at the Government’s failure to do something to allay the distress in which many recipients of social services benefits in Australia find themselves. J. protest against the attitude of the Government in that respect. During last year’s general election campaign the Labour party promised the country that if it was returned to office - as it almost was, when the aggregate voting figures are considered - it would increase age and invalid pensions by 10s. a week, and thereby bring the rates up to £4 a week. With that increase the pension would have represented the same percentage of the then basic wage as the pension paid in “1948, when the Chifley Government last increased pensions, bore to the basic wage at that time. The percentage thai; the pension in 194S bore to the basic wage was 36.8. Last year’s increase of the pension rate brought it to about 29 per cent, of the basic wage at that time compared with 36.8 per cent, in 194S. All of us who know anything about tha cost of living, know perfectly well that, ever since then, it has increased by leaps and bounds. According to the C series index figures the cost of living in Queensland increased, during the last quarter, by about 3s. a week. That increase means that the present percentage of the pension to the basic wage is lower than it was last year, and the huge gap between the percentage under this Government, and the 1948 percentage, has increased. The Government has done nothing to remedy that position. I realize that provision for increases of pensions could not have been made in this particular bill, but we had hoped that, prior to the end of this financial year, the Government would have given some indication that pensions would be increased. I sincerely hope that the Treasurer, in preparing his budget, will make provision for a fairly generous increase of pension rates.

Mr Barnard:

– It is long overdue.

Mr GEORGE LAWSON:

– It is certainly long overdue. I believe, that, in order to bring the percentage that the pension bears to the basic wage to the level that obtained in 1948, pension rates should be increased by at least 15s. a week. I am one of those people who believe that, no matter what the political colour of the government in office may be, pensioners are one section of the community which should be well looked after, because the majority of our age pensioners were pioneers of this country. As I have said on more than one occasion, without the work in the past of people who are now age and invalid pensioners, we should probably not have the honour to sit in this chamber as elected members of this Parliament. After all, there must always be, in every community, a big proportion of people who will never be able to earn more than the basic wage. They are the toilers, the wage-earners. During their working lives it is impossible for them to earn sufficient to enable them to save for their old age. That means that, after their working lives are over, those unfortunate people are thrown on to the scrapheap, as it were, and have to depend for sustenance on the miserable pension that this Government makes available to them. This Parliament, whether during the regime of a Liberal government or a Labour government, should never forget those pioneers, who made it possible for us to be here. If the great work of pioneering and developing that they had to do to make Australia a nation of which we are all so proud, had not been done, we should not be here now.

Service pensioners are also in ‘ a serious plight at present. Many unfortunate widows of ex-servicemen are in a desperate position trying to eke out a living, having to pay rent and still find money to pay for the food and clothing that they need to keep themselves alive. The Government has not increased child endowment, and it has also given no increase to unfortunate people who are in receipt of sickness benefit or unemployment benefit. Increases of pension are also long overdue for ex-servicemen and war widows.

I was very interested in the legislation introduced a few days ago by the Minister for Social Services (Mr. McMahon) which amended the Social Services Act to extend to certain other persons the rehabilitation scheme that is at present applied to invalid pensioners. I did not have an opportunity to express my opinions on that bill, but if I had done so, I would have said what I intend to say now. The time for an alteration in the degree Of incapacity that is necessary to enable a person to qualify for an invalid pension is long overdue. For many years an invalid pension was not granted unless the person concerned was wholly and totally incapacitated. Fortunately the government of the day realized that such a person would be as helpless as a child and able to do nothing for himself, so the act was amended to reduce the degree of capacity to 85 per cent. That figure is still too high, because a person who is 85 per cent, incapacitated must ordinarily be unemployable and unable to earn anything. There are thousands of people who cannot get an invalid pension because the medical referee points out that they are not 85 per cent, incapacitated. The percentage should be reduced to 60 or 65 per cent., or less. Though I agree with the amending legislation that was introduced a few days ago, I believe that if the Government were sincere in assisting these unfortunate people, who cannot assist themselves, it would give those who are not 85 per cent, incapacitated free rehabilitation, just as it does for those who are receiving an invalid pension. I hope that the Minister for Social Services, in the next two or three months, when he will bring down his amending bill, will keep these things in mind. I am satisfied that he has some humane feelings and will be very sympathetic. If he looks at the position carefully, he will agree that 85 per cent, is a very high degree of incapacity and that those who cannot qualify should be given rehabilitation training.

I was very pleased to see the extension of rehabilitation training to physically handicapped persons not in receipt of a pension. Over many years I have taken a great interest in that aspect of pensions. I feel that we cannot give too much credit to the person who was responsible for bringing in this wonderful rehabilitation scheme. In 1928, Mr. Bundeau, who is well known to honorable members from Queensland, and who has just, retired from the department, was only a clerk in the Queensland Pensions Office. He told me that he did not believe young people should be put on an invalid pension because they then lost any incentive to improve. He said, further, that some sort of vocational training should be given them. He advocated that right up till 1946 or 1947 at every conference of social services departments. He convinced the Chifley Labour Government that it was in the interests of not only this Government but also the unfortunate people and Australia as a whole, that such a scheme should be given a trial. It has proved successful in every State in Australia. I hope that the Minister will take all these things carefully into consideration when he is presenting his Estimates for next year.

I want now to make one or two comments on another matter that was recently brought before this House and on which I did noi have an opportunity of expressing my opinions. Last night the honorable member for Dawson (Mr. Davidson) discussed a similar matter. I refer to the finding of finance with which to guarantee certain developmental projects which Queensland members have been raising in this House, without result, over a long period. I was very interested in the introduction of a bill to authorize the raising of a loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The schedule mentioned one or two projects in Queensland as benefiting from the proposed loan of £4,500,000, but I do not think that the Minister referred specifically to them in his speech. The schedule of the bill states, in part -

The expansion of irrigation, particularly in the Riverina district of New South Wales, the Goulburn Valley in Victoria and the Mareeba, Dimbulah and Burdekin River districts of Queensland.

Mr Coutts:

Mr. Coutts interjecting,

Mr GEORGE LAWSON:

– The honorable member for Griffiths (Mr. Coutts) has said, by way of interjection, that he does not think the Treasurer knew that those schemes were embodied in the schedule. I do not know whether he did or not, but I do know that immediately it was stated in the House that they were mentioned in the schedule, he rushed over to his departmental offices, in order, as it appeared to me, to find out whether it was true that they were mentioned. They are mentioned in the schedule, and I am very pleased that that is so. I am certain that the Queensland Government is pleased also.

I have raised this matter on the floor of the House on at least half a dozen occasions. I have pointed out that these, works are national works. No State can be expected to undertake national developmental works of that kind without financial assistance. The works will assist the development, of Queensland, a State that must be developed in the interests of the defence of Australia. Every State in Australia, with the exception of Queensland, has had finance made available to it by the Commonwealth for capital expenditure on. developmental works., I refer, for instance, to the Snowy Mountains scheme, the aluminium plant at Bell Bay and some projects in South Australia and Western Australia.

Mr Bowden:

– They are federal works.

Mr GEORGE LAWSON:

– They arc national works, and I agree that they should be undertaken.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order 1 The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.

Mr PEARCE:
Capricornia

.- The. honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) complained about the- lack of national works, as he chose to call them, in Queensland.. I remind him, and I remind the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts), who cannot see beyond the environs of Brisbane, that the Queensland Government is the only State government that has opposed the establishment of a national resources commission, which could decide whether projects planned in Queensland and other States were of such national importance that they should be accorded some priority in the national works programme. I hope that the Premier of Queensland will eventually show his faith in the developmental projects that he plans to undertake by submitting them to an independent tribunal such as that which the Prime Minister (Mr Menzies) wishes to set up. Then there would be some progress in that State.

I do not wish .to buy into the unhappy domestic strife that exists between two sections of “the Labour paTty, but the honorable member for Brisbane referred to the groupers, as he called them, being banned by the Labour party at its Hobart conference. As I understand the matter, conditions in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, so far as the groupers were concerned, were virtually the same. In each of those States, the Labour party was divided into groupers and antigroupers. The Victorian groupers were expelled, an action which now receives the commendation of the honorable member for Brisbane. The next step, if the antigroupers were to be consistent, was to move into New South Wales and Queensland and expel the groupers in those States. But no action was taken to expel them in Queensland. Neither the honorable member for Brisbane nor any other member of his party will dare to rise in his place and say that the Premier of Queensland and many other members of the Queensland Cabinet are not groupers, ft is well known that many members of the Queensland Cabinet are groupers. That is not denied by the gentlemen themselves. If the members of the Labour party believe that the groupers should be banned, that is their business. Let them go ahead with it. But, for goodness sake, do not let us have pious platitudes about the matter in this chamber ! The Premier of Queensland is a grouper, but the honorable member for Brisbane and his friends are not prepared to take any action against him.

While I am talking about platitudes, let me say that I deplore the action of the honorable member for Brisbane in raising the old cry about what the Labour party would do for the pensioners if only it were in power. When it was in power it did nothing for them. The record of the Curtin Government and the Chifley Government in regard to age pensions, invalid pensions, widows’ pensions, the means test and everything connected with social services was deplorable. The honorable member for Brisbane said that if pensions were tied to the basic wage, the pensioners would receive more money. He supported a government in which the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) was a Minister. As a Minister, the right honorable gentleman introduced a bill, the object of which was to untie pensions from the basic wage. Despite the fact that the honorable member for Brisbane supported that bill, he says now that the pensioners would be better off if pensions were tied to the basic wage. The pensioners are better off now than they were in the past. They are enjoying the many benefits which this Government has given to them. If pensions were tied” to the cost of living, pensioners would receive £3 9s. 3d. a week, instead of the £3 10s. a week they are getting now, and they would not have the advantage of free medical treatment, free medicine and other benefits which this Government has made available to them in its progressive liberalization of the social services scheme. Honorable members opposite should be honest about pensions. They talk about what they would do if they were in power. They are not in power now, but when they were they did nothing to help the pensioners.

I want to refer to the remarks made by the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) about the uranium resources of Australia. I deplore the fact that, in the course of his remarks, the Minister referred to the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler) as a person who had promoted a campaign to discredit the Government’s uranium policy. The honorable member for Mitchell has not promoted any campaign against the Government, or against its policy on uranium. The honorable member for Mitchell was critical yesterday in this House, and he may have been critical previously in other places. There are honorable members on both sides of the House who are critical about many aspects of the Government’s policy. But the honorable member for Mitchell has been no more critical of the Government’s policy in relation to uranium over a period of years than I have been. I hope that it was only a slip of the tongue when the Minister referred to the honorable member as the promoter of criticism. That is not so. If we want to reap the benefit of our uranium resources, there is a great deal that we must do quickly in that field. We need to keep the prospectors - the gougers - in the field, and we must get the ore out of the ground, and treat it as quickly as we can. If a constructive suggestion is put forward by a member of this Parliament, it should not be resented, but should be accepted on its merits. Such suggestions are not put forward light-heartedly or in a destructive manner by honorable members on this side of the House. We have a good deal to do, and a plan should be the result of the ideas of the combined brains of all the people in the community, so that the job can be done thoroughly.

When money bills such as this are before the chamber, I realize the enormous power that is now vested in the City of Canberra, or in the Central Government, and the white-anting of the Constitution that has taken place over the years, due principally to the way in which the Chifley Government set out to implement a plan of unification. That Government whittled away the powers of the States, and encouraged them to bring their problems to the Central Government. The effects of that attempt at unification are to be seen here, and elsewhere in Australia. In every State the power has been taken from the people in the far-away places, and resides in the Parliament House in the capital city of each State.

Whenever anybody comes to Canberra, whether he represents a State local authority, a business concern, or a group of people combined in some project, his plea is, “ We have a certain project, and we want the help of the Government”.

Whether the people he represents receive a “ yes “ or “ no “ in reply, they are building up the power of the Central Government here. Whenever Canberra says “ Yes “ or “ No “, it is taking to itself the right to establish the power by precedent.

The power of local governing bodies is virtually being stripped from them. At best, they are now State instrumentalities acting in accordance with the wishes of the Minister for Local Government, or whatever he may be called in the State concerned. If they are prepared to act in accordance with his dictates, all is well; but if they decide to act contrary to his dictates, then all is not well. I believe that it is a dreadful development in our Australian community when centralization abounds in all those places.

The only way in which we can bring about sensible government is for the parliaments and governments to get nearer to the people themselves. Then more power and more responsibility will be vested in the real centre of government, which should be the hearts of the people. Local authorities should be given more power, and full authority should be vested in them to perform the work that has to be undertaken in their areas. State governments should accept their responsibilities, and the Australian Government should act within its constitutional power. This is not being done, with the result that the far-away places in Australia are being neglected, and the cities are being over-developed and overpopulated. As an example of that development, I point out that only two of the 123 members in this House represent areas north of the 26th parallel. Yet the area north of the 26th parallel comprises more than half of the land area of Australia.

Mr Hulme:

– Where do the others live?

Mr PEARCE:

– They live south of it, naturally. People are moving down towards the southern parts, and are leaving the northern parts neglected. T ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later hour.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

page 1151

TARIFF PROPOSALS 1955

Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 3) ; Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference)

Amendment (No. 2) ; Customs Tariff (Papua andNew Guinea Preference) Amendment (No. 1) ; Excise Tariff Amendment (No. 3). {:#subdebate-18-1} #### In Committee of Ways and Means: {: #subdebate-18-1-s0 .speaker-KNX} ##### Sir ERIC HARRISON:
Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for Defence Production · WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944 -- I move - [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 3).] {: type="1" start="1"} 0. That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1954 be amended as hereinafter set out, and that, on and after the twenty-seventh day of May, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-five, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capital Territory, Duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the Customs Tariff 1933-1954 as so amended. 1. That, without prejudice to the generality of paragraph 1 of these Proposals, the Governor-General may, from time to time by Proclamation declare that, from a time and date specified in the Proclamation, the Intermediate Tariff shall apply to such goods specified in the Proclamation as are the produce or manufacture of any British or foreign country specified in the Proclamation. 2. That on and after the time and date specified in a Proclamation issued in accordance with the last preceding paragraph, the Intermediate Tariff shall apply to such goods specified in the Proclamation as are the produce or manufacture of a British or foreign country specified in that Proclamation. 3. That any Proclamation issued in accordance with paragraph 2 of these Proposals may, from time to time,he revoked or varied by a further Proclamation, and upon the revocation or variation of the Proclamation, the Intermediate Tariff shall cease to apply to the goods specified in the Proclamation so revoked, or, as the case may be, the application of the Intermediate Tariff to the goods specified in the Proclamation so varied, shall be varied accordingly. 4. That the Minister of State for Trade and Customs may, from time to time, upon receipt of a report from the Tariff Board on the question whether a deferred duty should or should not operate on and after the date to which it has been deferred, by notice published in the *Commonwealth of Australia Gazette* defer the duty to such date as is specified in the notice. 5. That in these Proposals, unless the contrary intention appears - " deferred duty " mean a duty which, in relation to any goods, is expressly described in the Schedule to these Proposals as a deferred duty ; " Proclamation " mean a Proclamation by the Governor-General, or the person for the time being administering the government of the Commonwealth, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, and published in the *Commonwealth of Australia Gazette* " the Intermediate . Tariff " mean the rates of duty set out in the Schedule to these Proposals, in the column headed " Intermediate Tariff ", in respect of goods in relation to which the expression is used ; " the Tariff Board " mean the Tariff Board appointed in pursuance of the *Tariff Board Ae* 1921-1953. [Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Amendment (No. 2).] That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) 1934-1954 be amended as he'einafter set out, and that, on and after the twenty-seventh day of May, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-five, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capital Territory, Duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) 1934-1954 as so amended. [Customs TARIFF (Papua awd New Guinea Preference) Amendment (No. 1).] That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (Papua and New Guinea Preference) 1936-1950 be amended as hereinafter set out, and that, on and after the twenty-seventh day of May, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-five, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capital Territory. Duties of Customs be collected in accordance with the Customs Tariff (Papua and New Guinea Preference) 1936-1950 as so amended. [Excise Tariff Amendment (No. 3).] That the Schedule to the Excise Tariff 1921-1953 be amended as hereinafter set out, and that, on and after the twenty-seventh day of May, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-five, at five o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capital Territory, Duties of Excise be collected in pursuance of the Excise Tariff 1921-1953 as so amended. The four tariff proposals I have just Tariff (Canadian Preference) 1934- introduced relate to amendments to the 1954 Customs Tariff (Papua and New {:#subdebate-18-2} #### Customs Tariff 1933-1954; Customs Guinea Preference) 1936-1950; and Excise Tariff 1921-1953. Customs Tariff Proposals No. 3 are a consolidation and re-introduction of the amendments set out in Customs Tariff Proposals No. 1 of the 18th August, 1954, and Customs Tariff Proposals No. 2 of the 2Sth October, 1954. This consolidation will facilitate discussion by honorable members when the proposals are being debated. In addition, these Customs Tariff Proposals No. 3 contain several new amendments which, in practically all cases, are based on recommendations made by the Tariff Board in recent reports. I shall, at a later stage this afternoon, avail myself of the opportunity to table the relevant Tariff Board reports. The proposed, amendments will take effect as from to-morrow morning. The " Summary of Alterations ", which has been circulated to honorable members, sets out in convenient form the proposed tariff amendments. In the main the proposed amendments introduced for the first time are designed to accord protection, or increased protection, to a number of Australian industries such as those engaged in the production of preserved ginger, bean seed for cultivation purposes, vitreous enamels, moquettes used in upholstery, chrome chemicals, naphthalene, cresylic acid, phenol, phthalic anhydride, vacuum cleaners of the household type, corkboard, and granulated cork other than when for use in the packing of fruit. Reduced duties are proposed with respect to the following : - Filament lamps as ordinarily used in motor vehicles, paper charts for scientific or industrial recording instruments, and various cork products. For administrative reasons it is desirable to vary the wording of the tariff items covering industrial type textile pressing machines and pressing appliances, certain machine driving chain and chains and sulphur. Appropriate amendments to the wording of these items are, therefore, proposed, but in. each instance the rates of duty have not been varied. The Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Proposals No. 2 are a re-introduc tion in their entirety of the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Proposals No. 1 of the 18th August, 1954. Honorable members will recall that in the earlier proposals the wording of the item applicable to fork-lift trucks was amended in order to make the intention of that item more clear - the present proposals merely continue the operation of the earlier amendment. Under the Customs Tariff (Papua and New Guinea Preference) Proposals No. 1 specific provision is being made for the addition of an Item to the Customs Tariff (Papua and New Guinea Preference) 1936-1950 to cover the duty free admission into Australia of plywood, as prescribed by departmental by-laws. The relevant by-law will limit this concessional admission to the importation in any one financial year of 12,000,000 square feet of plywood, tV in. basis, when such plywood is produced in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. This limited concession gives effect to a recommendation made by the Tariff Board in a recent report. In the same report the board recommended also that timber, other than plywood already referred to, when produced in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, be admitted into Australia free of duty, but because of the Commonwealth's contractual obligations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the Government is at present unable to give effect to that particular recommendation. The Government, however, is approaching the Gatt contracting parties to obtain a waiver to enable the Tariff Board's recommendation to be implemented in full. Excise Tariff Proposals No. 3 are a consolidation and re-introduction of the amendments set out in Excise Tariff Proposals No. 1 of the 18th August, 1954, and Excise Tariff Proposals No. 2 of the 28 th October, 1954. No new amendments have been included. The present proposals merely continue the operation of the amendments contained in the two earlier proposals. Honorable members will, as soon as practicable, be accorded full opportunity to discuss all four proposals which I have tabled this afternoon. >Honorable members will, as soon as practicable, be accorded full opoprtunity to discuss all four proposals, which I havetabled this afternoon. Will the opportunity be afforded before the conclusion of this sessional period or during the next period? {: #subdebate-18-2-s0 .speaker-KNX} ##### Sir ERIC HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944 -- As the honorable member will recall, when Labour was in government, it became necessary, from time to time, either to validate certain tariff proposals or to embark upon a full discussion of them. When Labour was in government and the honorable member, as a Minister, sat on this side of the House, honorable members were never afforded an opportunity to discuss tariff proposals. This Government has already afforded the House an opportunity to debate tariff schedules. These proposals are a revalidation. I can assure the honorable member that, when the opportunity presents itself, the committee will have an opportunity to discuss the full tariffs. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell: -- Does that mean next session ? {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Sir ERIC HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944 -- I cannot state a precise time, but I should say that it will be at some time during the next session. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 1160 {:#debate-19} ### TARIFF BOARD Reports on Items. {: #debate-19-s0 .speaker-KNX} ##### Sir ERIC HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944 -- I lay on the table reports of the Tariff Board on the following items: - >Bean seed. > >Chrome chemicals. > >Coal tar products and synthetic phenol. > >Cork products. {:#subdebate-19-0} #### Ginger Incandescent pressure lamps and lanterns. Linseed and linseed products. {:#subdebate-19-1} #### Moquettes Paper charts. Phthalic anhydride. {:#subdebate-19-2} #### Timber Vacuum cleaners and vacuum cleaner parts. {: .page-start } page 1160 {:#debate-20} ### SUPPLY BILL (No. 1) 1955-56 {:#subdebate-20-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed, *(vide* page 1150). **Mr.** PEARCE (Capricornia) [4.8).- Australia is confronted by a great problem in relation to the empty acres in north Australia, where huge areas of land are very sparsely populated. This problem should cause all Australians considerable concern, particularly in the light of the comparison between the rate of increase of population in Australia and throughout the world. In every fifteen weeks, the world's population increases by the equivalent of the total population of Australia, which numbers more than 9,000,000 people. It takes only twoweeks for the world's population to increase by the equivalent . of the population of Queensland.In the seven-year period between the census of 1947 and that of 1954, Queensland's population increased from approximately 1,106,000 to about 1,318,000. The sad and significant feature is that some 38 per cent. of the people of Queensland live in Brisbane, the capital city. The remainder are widely scattered throughout the State. Approximately three-quarters of the people who comprise the increase of 212,000 in Queensland's population in the period between the two censuses reside in the south-eastern corner of the State. More than 1,000,000 of Queensland's 1,318,000 people live south of the tropic of Capricorn, and the remainder are widely scattered throughout the area north of the tropic. Somehow, we must devise a means of encouraging people to take up residence in the out-posts of the northern States. The Queensland Government concentrates its administrative efforts mostly on the south-eastern portion of the State, with the result that fewer ships serve north Queensland, rail freight rates discriminate against residents of the north, northern roads are bad, and the schooling of children becomes progressively more difficult the farther north and the farther inland one goes. No university exists in Queensland outside Brisbane, although the total area of the State is some 700,000 square miles. It is obvious to all thinking observers that the empty spaces in the north can be populated only if Queensland is divided into a greater number of states. New states must be created, particularly in Australia's north.. There is no other means by which we can increase the population of those areas; and populate them we must. This is not a matter of party politics. It has been the brain-child of many politicians and of many thinking people outside politics. A former Premier df Queensland, the late Honorable E. M. Hanlon, has gone on record on many occasions as .stating that Queensland can progress only by the creation of three additional states - one in central Queensland, one in the north, and one in the far western parts of the State. A former member for Capricornia in this House, the Honorable F. M. Forde, is a great believer in the division of Queensland into a number of new states. **Mr. Fergau** O'sullivan, a former press secretary to the present Leader of the Opposition in this House **(Dr. Evatt),** during a byelection campaign in the Gwydir electorate, stated, in the right honorable gentleman's name, -that the right honorable member favoured the creation of new states. The honorable member for Melbourne **(Mr. Calwell),** on more than one occasion, has advocated the creation of additional states. Many great men of the same political colour as honorable members who sit on this side of the House, including the Minister for Health **(Sir Earle Page)** and the honorable member for New England **(Mr. Drummond),** have fought unceasingly throughout their life-time for the establishment of new states throughout Australia. Unfortunately, any such proposal must have the sanction of . the existing State from which the new states are to be created. The New South Wales Labour Government has point-blank refused to grant the status of a new state to the New England area. The present Premier of Queensland, **Mr. Gair,** has also pointblank refused to consider the division of Queensland into a number of new states. His attitude merely serves to emphasize the difference of opinion that always exists between that gentleman and his so-called leaders here in Canberra. While Premiers of this type hold office and wield the power that at present is exercised by them, we cannot advance any programme for the creation of new states; {: #subdebate-20-0-s0 .speaker-JWX} ##### Mr J R FRASER:
ALP -- What provision does the Constitution make in relation to this problem? {: #subdebate-20-0-s1 .speaker-KXW} ##### Mr PEARCE: -- The Constitution requires that any such proposal shall be sanctioned -by the existing State in question, and until the State gives that sanction, no new states can be established. While the .States have no taxing powers and do not incur the odium of taxing the people, and are spending the taxpayers' money so freely, they are unwilling to advance the cause of new state? anywhere in Australia. I think that we could find unanimity of opinion in this chamber on this subject because only the most violent, communistically inclined person would agree to the proposition that all power should be vested in the Commonwealth Parliament. We must take government . to the people and the only way in which we can do that is by setting up new states in those areas which lend themselves to that procedure. The Parliament should set up, as quickly as possible, a committee on constitutional reform. For what reason the Australian Labour party is not in favour of this proposition, I do not know. There is a great need for constitutional reform in Australia. A committee of inquiry into the constitution should first examine the possibility of forming new states wherever practicable throughout Australia. It. might be sufficient if only three new States were created in Queensland and if only two were created in New South Wales. That is a problem which the people of the areas concerned could resolve. I am concerned with the area north of the 26th parallel, where the greater part of the land mass a&d the greatest potential of Australia lies. That area is a forgotten country and mot one government exists with power to direct development of that great land mass. That fact should go to the hearts of all thinking Australians. The people of that region are entitled to their own government and the only way in which they can be provided with their own government is by the formation of new states. Then the people of those states will have the right to decide for themselves the action they should take to benefit the area and attract population to it. {: .speaker-KGX} ##### Mr Haylen: -- What is the population of the area north of the 26th parallel? {: .speaker-KXW} ##### Mr PEARCE: -- The population of the area north of the 26th parallel in Queensland is 300,000. The total population of Queensland is 1,318,000. I do not know what, the population of the Northern Territory is. I ask that the Australian Labour party consider cooperating with the Government in setting up a committee of advice on constitutional reform. That is the first necessary step that is required before we can achieve government of the people by the people in the area that I have mentioned. This is a national matter which is above party politics. As I have said, great Labour men of the past and of the present are in favour of the creation of new states and great men on this side of politics are in favour of it. All that stands in the way are the hungry desires and the political ambitions of a couple of State Premiers who are reluctant to loose their hold on the rich areas over which they now have control. Consequently, they do nothing in this matter. {: #subdebate-20-0-s2 .speaker-JWX} ##### Mr J R FRASER:
ALP -- If I heard the honorable member for Capricornia **(Mr. Pearce)** correctly, I feel sure that in his mind I must be a " violent, communistically inclined man because I believe in a. national parliament with complete national powers but aided by local selfgovernment. I believe in a national parliament which, can serve the whole of Australia, equipped with full federal powers, but allied with local selfgovernment by means of councils. The daytoday business of small areas should be carried on by people who are familiar with local conditions, but the Commonwealth Parliament should have full powers in national matters. I shall spend the time available to me for the debate on the Supply Bill in dealing with a matter that has arisen in Canberra and which I think is of great importance, not only to the people of Canberra, but also to this Parliament. But before doing that, I should like to say that it has become the custom in recent weeks to refer to honorable members who sit in this corner of the chamber as the " corner party ". The Minister for External Affairs **(Mr. Casey)** has been accustomed to refer to this corner as the " south-westerly corner ". In this corner sit fourteen members of the Parliament, seven of whom belong to a break-away party, which has named itself the Australian Labour party (Anti-Communist). There are seven other members in this corner, three of whom are my colleagues of the Australian Labour party, who sit with me in this row, and three of whom sit behind me who are also members of the Australian Labour party. I should like that distinction to be noted, because we seven are divided in this House only by an invisible line. It may be that some physical alteration may need to be made so that the people who come to this House will not be misled into thinking that the fourteen members who sit in this part of it all belong to the break-away group or splinter party. The matter to which 1 shall now address my remarks is a proposal by the Minister for the Interior **(Mr. Kent Hughes)** that the rents of governmentowned cottages in this city should shortly be increased, arbitrarily, by 75 per cent, in some suburbs, and by 50 per cent, and 25 per cent, in other suburbs. The Minister made his announcement on this subject on the 2nd April. The only document, that is available to me in this connexion is the press statement which was issued by the Minister in order to acquaint the people of Canberra of his decision. The press statement said that under the decision, which would take effect from the 7th July, the rents of houses which had been built prior to 1945 would be increased on a sliding scale, based principally on locality, and ranging from 25 per cent, to 75 per cent. On the other hand, substantial reductions will be made, according to the statement, in the rental of houses which have been constructed during the last few years. Some of these reductions would be as much as £.1 lis. lOd. a week. The Minister has proposed that the rentals of houses built between 1945 and the present year should be averaged. That will mean, on the figures that have been made available, that houses built between 1945 and, I think, 1951 will be increased, not by an arbitrary percentage, but by the process of averaging. The houses, the rents of which will be reduced, will be those which were constructed since the year 1951. Before one can understand the drastic nature of the proposals to increase certain rentals, it is necessary to understand the basis on which the rental of dwellings in this capital city have been fixed. The rental on a government dwelling in Canberra is equal to 5 per cent, of its capital cost. The capital cost consists of the actual cost of construction, plus a fixed amount of £108 for internal paths and fencing, and plus 4£ per cent, of that total sum for architectural and supervision charges. As I have just stated, the rental is assessed at 5 per cent, of the total cost, and that has been the practice ever since Canberra was established. Many of the dwellings have been occupied by the same families for 25 or 30 years, and those families have been paying rental on the basis of 5 per cent, of the capital cost throughout that period. The rental has been assessed to return the capital cost and other charges over a period of 53 years for houses of timber construction, and 70 years for houses of brick or other similar construction. The break-up of the rental, according to figures that have been supplied to me by the Minister for the Interior, is as follows : - For every £1 of rental paid in respect of a brick house, 12s. 6d. is for interest, 2d. is for insurance, 5s. 3d. is for maintenance, ls. 8d. is paid to the sinking fund, and 5d. is for administrative charges. That means that people who have occupied dwellings in Canberra over the years have paid, for every £1 of rental, 12s. 6d. for interest charges, 5s. 3d. for maintenance - they are the two major items - and only ls. 8d., or onetwelfth of the total rental, into the sinking fund. That latter payment, by a compounding of interest, amortizes the capital cost of a brick home over a period of 70 years. The break-up of each £1 of rental paid for a timber dwelling is as follows: - Interest, 10s. 8d. ; insurance, 8d. ; maintenance, 5s. 7d.; sinking fund, 2s. 8d., because the period of amortization is shorter than for a brick home ; and administration charges, 5d. Again, as I have stated, the rental of a timber home is assessed in such a way that the capital cost and the other charges incidental thereto will be recouped over a period of 53 years. In recent years, and more particularly over the last five and a half years under the administration of this Government, the cost of construction has risen alarmingly. In 1946, a brick home cost £14S a square; in 1947, £160; in 1948, £195; and in 1949, £233. In 1950, which was the first complete year the present Government was in office, the cost of building a brick home in Canberra rose from £233 to £285 a square. In the following year, it jumped to £315, and to-day it is £400 a square. That means that many people have been compelled to pay extremely high rentals. It is not uncommon to find young people who are starting out in married life, or who are just commencing their careers in the Public Service, paying rentals well in excess of £3 10s. a week. Some are paying in excess of £4 a week. Indeed, on some homes, the rental has been assessed at more than £6 a week, but in those cases some reduction has been effected by disregarding certain on-cost charges, and hy declaring the homes to be of an experimental type. The point I am trying to make is that, because of the increase, of building costs, rentals assessed on the capital cost have become so high as to be beyond the financial capacity of the ordinary man and woman. That is particularly so in the case of a man who is seeking to establish his home and family, who is buying furniture and furnishings on time payment, and who is seeking to educate his family. To him, that high rental becomes an almost intolerable burden. Approaches have been made to the Minister for the Interior time and time again, with a view to discovering some means by which the present exorbitant rentals may be reduced. Many means have been suggested, the most important, of which has been that the interest portion of the rental should be reduced. **Lt** is of very little comfort to a young man who i» paying £4 a week rental to know that,, of that. £4, £2 10s. is for interest charges and 21s. is for maintenance, while only 6s. 8d. is being applied to- the amortization of the cost of the dwelling. The Minister has not found it possible to effect, any overall reduction of the high rentals .that are being charged for modern cottages. Representations were made, on my motion, to the Minister for Defence **(Sir Philip McBride),** when he was Minister for the Interior, by the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council in, I think, 1950. He took action to reduce the rentals on homes that had been constructed since 1946, and effected a reduction of 20 per cent, by eliminating the on-cost features that had been added to the cost of construction. The Minister's decision was conveyed to the Advisory Council in June, 1950. The fact that the present Minister for the Interior has taken some action to reduce the rental on certain newly constructed homes shows that he acknowledges that those rentals are too high, and that some relief must be given to the people to whom the dwellings are allotted. In Canberra, people have very little say in the selection of their homes. Many of them have to wait for two or two and a half years to get a home, and during that period they have been obliged, perhaps, to live under difficult conditions or at great expense. When they are allotted a house they may cavil at the site or at the suburb in which it stands, but, in general, they accept the home that they are offered. Having become tenants, they have an opportunity to buy the house if they can afford it. Although the Minister's belated acknowledgment of the fact that certain rentals are too high is to be applauded, and although I applaud any action that he takes to reduce them, I find myself in complete disagreement with him when he adopts the policy of enriching Paul to the detriment of Peter. I know of no moral reason why the Government should say that, in order to effect a reduction of the -higher rentals, it will charge the tenants of homes that were built before 1945 a- higher rental. Many of the people in the older homes were the pioneers of this district, and many of them are now living on small pensions or low superannuation payments, or on the basic wage. To adopt such a policy seems to me to be completely wrong. TheGovernment has no moral right to obtain from the letting of a house, more money than is required to meet the capital cost, interest charges, maintenance charges and other necessary charges. The proposal that certain rentals should be increased arbitrarily is completely hateful. The Minister's announcement indicates that the following increases will be effected: - 75 per cent, in Deakin and Forrest excluding some areas of Forrest to which a 50 per cent, increase will apply; 50 per cent, in Griffith, Acton, excluding Acton cottages, Barton, Braddon, Kingston, Reid and Turner; and 25 per cent, in Ainslie, Yarralumla, Acton cottages, Causeway, and Westlake. If a person happens to live on one side of Limestone-avenue, his rent will be increased by 50 per cent. ; if he lives on the other side, it will be increased by 2r> per cent. Again, if a person, lives on one side of Arthur-circle, Griffith, his rent will be increased by 50 per cent.; but if he happens to live on the other side - and has probably been retired on superanuati on after having served the Commonwealth for many years - his rent will be increased by 75 per cent. I can see no moral basis for such an assessment, for such a decision by a Minister, or such an enactment by a government. It is to me completely wrong that this action should be taken. What will be its effect? It is true that there have been some protests in the press; mostly, the letters published have not borne the names of the writers because, after all, Canberra is a most unusual community. It is a community in which the boss, the senior officer - or the bureaucrat, if one cared to use that term, although I do not particularly like it - has great power. It is true that there has been a reluctance on the part of many public servants to express any criticism of the Administration for fear that their chance of promotion may thereby be affected. In the past, prosecutions have been launched upon public servants for daring to criticize the Administration. I believe that they have a right to criticize it, and I do not think that any action should lie against them if they do so. I hope that there will be further protests against this completely wrong decision by the Government. There can be no justification for arbitrarily saying that the rents of people living in a certain area shall be increased by 75 per cent., that those of people who live in. other areas shall be increased by 50 per cent, and 25 per cent, respectively, and that even the people who live in the cottages at the Causeway and at Westlake, which, were built in 1926 to last for five years and are still occupied - they have been paid for over and over again - will be penalized by their rent being increased by 25 per cent.. The widows, aged people, invalids, the sick, people on low superannuation, and other people on low incomes will all be required to pay additional rent if they happen to have been allotted houses in areas designated by the Minister. I have received a number of letters from my constituents in relation to this matter and I shall, with the indulgence of the House, read portions of some of them. The first letter from which I propose to quote was written by a man who had been a comparatively senior public servant and retired in 1953. I do not intend to disclose his name. His letter reads - 1 wish to protest through you as our member, against the action of the Minister for the Interior in increasing the rent of the homes of those of us who have to live on our superannuation, without any other means of income. The cost of living is increasing all the time in Canberra and if the rents go up it will be the last straw. I will quote my own case, and there must be a lot more like mine. I emphasize that this man was a senior public servant. His letter proceeds - >I have been 26 years in Canberra. I have lived in my house for over IS years and looked after it well- I was retired in 1953 before tha increased salaries and superannuation came in. I couldn't buy my house owing to heavy domestic expenses. This man's wife suffered a grievous illness over a long period of time. The letter goes on - i took out all the superannuation units I could, and could have managed all right. That is to say, this man had his future planned. He knew what his rent was - he had lived in the house for eighteen years - and lie knew that he could live on his superannuation. The remainder of the letter reads - >But if my rent goes up 50% as stated by the Minister I won't be able to manage. The next letter on my file is from a woman who was widowed within recent years. She had this to say - >May I pen you a few lines .... on the matter of the proposed increase in rentals. I have in the past known of women who would be in for a lot of worry and hardship if such a proposal went through, and sometime.' thought that- She referred to the name of a local charity - would perhaps be able to make the right approach to help these people. In my own case now I feel I can put some facts before you as I expect its a somewhat general one. {: type="1" start="1"} 0. For many years we paid a quarter of our salary in house rent and brought up a family of four children through scholarship:! helping two of them through University. There was no child endowment in to-day's generous way. 1. Unfortunately we were never on the very high income bracket, altho' I feel one should have been, and just when one might have arrived there, ill health intervened and one was even precluded from taking out the maximum unite of superannuation. 2. 1 myself after three years of great strain could not for a while do anything to supplement my income oven altho' in my youth 1 had a very good training in England. 3. My two sons are with me at the present time but should they leave Canberra or om or the other desire to marry, I would have to think very hard indeed. 4. 1 do feel that after years of good service in helping to build Canberra we should not be penalised and asked to pay more rent for say our 20 years' old house. I do spare a thought for young couples of today but I know that over the past say 5 years, lots of their homes are equipped with expensive electrical aids and most own a cnr. Thi* was not so when we were bringing up our family. I thought it might be possible for you to suggest that these things may be judged on their merits - or circumstances. But they are not being judged on their merits or circumstances. They are being decided arbitrarily by a Minister. I come now to the third letter. I think that if the people of Canberra support these protests - and I believe they will - the Government must take some action. This letter is from a public servant, who has not hesitated to say that I may use his name if I will ; but I do not propose to do so. His letter reads - >I have scanned with interest the meagre information so far published regarding the proposed increase in rental of older houses in Canberra. At the outset I must state that I would not object to any equitable treatment of this matter on the basis of economic rental. Neither would I protest if adjustments were being made on the basis of increased maintenance costs and left at that. But when, as appears to be the case, this matter is dealt with on a quasi-social services basis, I think that the conditions applicable to social services generally should be followed. Whatever be our attitude to the " welfare state " *.1* think that all shades of political opinion would agree that the guiding principle in the distribution of social services should be need. In other words there may be a variety of opinions as to the extent to which the affluent may he taxed to help the needy, but surely there is no support for any proposition to tax the needy to give some sort of handout to the affluent. > >I know that much has been said of senior public servants on high salaries occupying old homes at low rentals, whilst young couples are paying high rentals from low salaries. My own observations are that mostly senior public servants have bought their homes, and therefore remain unaffected by the proposal. For the rest, I would not object if my admittedly low rental was increased to subsidise some one on comparable salary with equal or near-equal family responsibility. But I fail to see why I should pay 50 per cent. (17s. per week) more in order to subsidise some one already much better placed financially than I am. > >The writer then gave particulars of his own case. He is in receipt of a salary of £974 per annum, and therefore receives £18 13s. 5d. a week. His present rental is 33s. lOd. a week. This man has a wife and six children, the eldest of whom is ten years of age. The concluding portion of his letter reads - > >I can if required quote several cases when; reductions in rental will be made to the recipients of salaries of fi, 500 to £2,000 and more per year, with no children or with one or two children. Some of these people have frankly told me that they think it wrong for their rent to be reduced at my expense, and would prefer to continue as at present if such is the only solution to the high rent problem. > >I appreciate that the Minister has attempted to rectify what appeared to him to he an injustice to some people. However, I write this in the hope that you may be able to bring to his notice this and similar cases of which he would otherwise remain unaware. > >I protest most vigorously against this decision by the Minister. It is a decision which I think should not be supported by this Parliament. It is harsh in its application and completely unjust. What action may we expect from the private landlord if the Minister persists in his decision to increase rentals by 75 per cent., 50 per cent, or 25 per cent.? Is the Minister thereby not giving the green light - an open go - to the private landlord to increase his rentals by whatever figure he thinks fit ? The proposal is completely bad and it should be rejected by this Parliament. I have asked the Minister to bring this matter before the Parliament by way of a statement, so that it may be fully debated, but so far he has not followed that course. I hope that he will do so and that members on both sides of the chamber will view the matter realistically and see that while the Minister proposes to reduce rentals which in many cases need reduction, he proposes to compel other people to pay more for the homes they have occupied over the years, although to-day they already find it difficult to pay the rent. The older homes built before 1945, to which the increased rentals are to apply are homes which in many cases have been built without the facilities provided in a modern home. Many of them have only a wood-burning copper in the laundry, whereas, by standard practice to-day, the department provides an electric copper. The built-in cupboards and modern fittings of recently-built homes are not present in homes which were built before 1945, and bathroom fittings are much inferior. In those days internal paths, and even external footpaths, were not provided as they are to-day. I have received letters from age pensioners, and a deputation of age pensioners has told me that the homes they have occupied for 25 or 28 years are still served by a cracked, broken and dangerous asphalt footpath which has not been touched since it was laid. The procedure to-day is to provide paths as new homes are built. I have other documents which I could read to .the House, but I think that I have said enough to make quite clear that the Minister's proposal, in its application and in its conception, is hateful to me. I think that it is completely iniquitious that such a principle should be applied in this, our national capital, and I hope that the Minister will review the matter. {: #subdebate-20-0-s3 .speaker-JLT} ##### Mr ALLAN:
Gwydir .- The greatest single problem facing Australia to-day is that of a reduction of costs. This can be brought about in a practical sense only by increasing the efficiency of secondary industry, and that, in turn, can be achieved partly by finding cheaper sources of power. This Administration has taken long strides towards that goal, in the field of hydroelectricity development, by encouraging the search for oil, and by encouraging development of atomic power. But it is even more important that we find ways of building up the value of production per worker in secondary industry. Unless this is done, unless the level of costs is reduced, we may shortly face a prospect, as the Treasurer **(Sir Arthur Fadden)** warned us last week-end, perhaps even worse than we faced in 1930 during the great depression. Pri-mary industries, which make up the great bulk of our exports, are meeting with increasing competition overseas, and for that reason they are in serious difficulties* Our wool cheque may be down by approximately £60,000,000 this year. Wheat prices overseas may collapse entirely, if America unloads its huge surplus of stocks on the world market. Overseas freights may increase by from £15,000,000 to £25,000,000 a year. Our overseas trade balance appears to be going down, and it will possibly go down by about £200,000,000 this year. We have reimposed import restrictions in order to prevent a flood of cheap articles from pouring over our high tariff walls and extinguishing local industries. In view of this highly dangerous position, the Government should ask, " What can be done to avert a complete breakdown of commerce in Australia, if this present trend continues for the next few years, and what steps can be taken to increase the efficiency of secondary industry and lower our cost structure, while at the same time preserving our policy of full employment and maintaining our living standards?" I suggest that we can do this only by radically changing the present picture of employer-employee relationships. I know that management, by better methods of control, could increase plant efficiency to a high degree, but no matter how effectively that is done, it will not bring about the results which we must achieve - an over all increase of production per worker, and an increase of efficiency throughout secondary industry. Only by the fullest co-operation of every man in industry, management and labour alike, can we achieve this overall result. When we consider this problem, we must recall that there is one system that can be introduced in secondary industry which has been proved to be most successful. It seems to be a most desirable plan and worth encouraging. I refer to the Lincoln system of incentive payment, which has worked successfully in the Lincoln Electric Company's plants in Ohio, in the United States of America, and at Alexandria in Australia. The Lincoln system has succeeded in permitting payment to that company's employees . of the highest rates in the industry, and at the same time the selling price of the company's commodities has been reduced below that of comparable products, to the point where the company can sell in Asian markets, and that is something in these days of low prices and stiff competition in those markets. Those honorable members who were so fortunate as to hear **Mr. Lincoln's** address when he visited Canberra a couple of weeks ago, will agree that one aspect which distinguishes this system from all other similar incentive systems, or profit-sharing systems, is that it develops the talents of the workers to the fullest extent, and develops all their latent abilities to the point where they are willing workers, or, as **Mr. Lincoln** described them, " self-starters ". They are willing to co-operate with the management to the fullest extent, lending their practical help in innumerable ways, and giving their full loyalty to the concern. In spite of its merit, the system has not been widely copied. It cannot be disputed that it has been successful, but it has not been widely copied by management, either in this country or overseas, because it entails short-term sacrifices on the part of management. Management must be prepared to plough back a greater proportion of the profits, if any. It must display qualities of leadership not commonly encountered, and it must be prepared to solicit the confidence of workers by frank and frequent discussions. That is the plain and simple reason why management does not welcome this system in its own plants, and why it has not been widely copied throughout industry. Similarly, there is some opposition to it from the trade unions. Some union leaders conservatively regard the Lincoln system as a threat to industrial unionism. I say that if trade union leaders regard increased wages, better standards of living and greatly increased opportunities as a menace to our social order, then there is something drastically wrong with their thinking. I shall quote the views of some independent authorities on incentive payments generally. The first quotation I shall give is from the annual report of the Tariff Board for the year ended the 30th June, 1954. The Tariff Board has a very high opinion of incentives. In a paragraph headed "Wage Incentive Schemes", its report says - >During the past year there have been some hopeful signs that the Unions might be more willing to accept the principle of wage incentives as a means of increasing efficiency. The Board considers that further attention should be given to schemes which offer a real incentive to increase efficiency and production. The report goes on to cite, on page 16, one particular case. It says - >As an example, in one instance where an intensive and expert examination of a group of allied companies was conducted, and an efficiency overhaul was followed by the introduction of a bonus payment based on production, it was found that, while the bonus increased the wages paid by 31 per cent., the increase in output per man-hour was 94 per cent. The output was almost doubled. The report continues - >Over the same period the actual cost per unit of production -was reduced by 19 per cent., compared with the cost for an equivalent period two years before. Similarly favorable results were found in the operations of other members of this group. Further down the same page the report states - >The Board believes that the need for high protective duties will become less as management improves its staff training procedures, eliminates costs which careful examination shows to have been unnecessary, and then introduces an incentives payment scheme suited to the type of production involved. The president of the Institute of Industrial Management, **Mr. Walter** Scott, also has some comments to make on incentives. In his book, *Greater Production, Its Problems and Possibilities with Incentives,* he writes, under the heading " Incentives Mean Lower Costs ", as follows : - >Some consideration of this factor has already been given when .dealing with the value of the incentives to the employer. From the national aspect lower costs in a competitive economy mean lower prices to the consumer. The customer benefits. Furthermore, it means a better competitive position to stand up to imports as previously outlined. Perhaps it means the difference between survival and liquidation. It is impossible to over-estimate the importance of lower costs to the Australian economy. I regard the Lincoln incentive management scheme which, as I have pointed out, is an improvement on the normal incentives schemes, as being tailor-made to fit the Australian character. The Australian is, above all, practical and realistic, and, despite what propagandists of various political colours have said over the years, he is the hardest worker in the world when he can reap the fruits of his labour and receive recognition, for his ability. At all events, there has been no other system that has been, or could be, propounded, which could at the same time raise our production per man and maintain and increase our living standards. I put it to the Government that action should be taken now to find ways to stimulate the application of incentive management throughout secondary industry, so that industrial costs may be brought down to a safe and healthy level. An expert committee should be set up to make a full study of methods of doing this. We cannot afford to ignore for very much longer the dangers of rising costs and inefficient methods. {: #subdebate-20-0-s4 .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- I want to air some grievances in this debate, not that I expect the Government to take any more notice of them than it has taken of grievances that I have aired repeatedly on previous occasions. However, I shall air them again in order to let the public know how dictatorial the Government has become in its approach to those legitimate' grievances, and so that it will be able to judge, from the results that I am able to obtain, whether or not I am over-estimating or exaggerating the case when I say the Government has now adopted a purely dictatorial attitude. I want, first, to complain about the delay that has occurred in the provision of telephones in my electorate. I have dozens and dozens of cases about which I have written to the Postmaster-General's Department, which concern people in business who have waited for many months for telephones to be installed and have found that, in the meantime, people in the very same streets in which the disappointed applicants live and who have far less right to a telephone than they have, are being supplied with telephones. The departmental reply to representations on this matter usually is the excuse that no cable is available or that shortage of materials, or some other cause, is responsible for its inability to supply the required telephones. I am tired of those excuses. {: .speaker-KFQ} ##### Mr Gullett: -- Hear, hear! {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- I agree with the honorable member for Henty **(Mr. Gullett),** who is always willing to condemn the Government when he feels that it is deserving of condemnation. I know how keenly he feels about this matter. I want to know whether it is true that the Government was responsible for cancelling, some time ago, orders for certain telephone equipment which had been laid by the departmental heads but which were cancelled on the authority of the Minister presumably because the Government could not afford the extra cost, [f that is true - and I understand that it is true - I believe that the Government is deserving of a great deal of condemna-lion for its action. That brings me to the question of the Government's disposal of its interest in Amalgamated "Wireless f Australasia) Limited. One of the first things that the Government did after it came into office, in pursuance of its socalled de-socialization policy, was to sell to private enterprise the Australian Government's interest in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia.) Limited. That was the organization which was manufacturing a great deal of the equipment that the Postmaster-General's Department requires. Had the Government retained its ownership of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited it might have been in a position to-day - I do not know whether it would have been, but it probably would have been in such a position - to compel that organization to concentrate on the manufacture of the requirements of the Postmaster-General's Department. But nothing was done. I am told that there is no shortage of men to do the necessary work, having regard to the amount of equipment available. {: .speaker-KIH} ##### Mr Lucock: -- Who told you that ? {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- The department itself says that the problem if due to a shortage of equipment. {: .speaker-KIH} ##### Mr Lucock: -- That must apply only to South Australia. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- Well, I am talking about South Australia. It is not a shortage of man-power, but of equipment. Another matter to which I want to refer is the position of age pensioners. How much longer does this Government think that these unfortunate people can continue to exist as human beings on £3 10s. a week, with high rents to pay and ever-increasing living costs to med There are hundreds of old people to-day who are definitely, and literally, dying of malnutrition. They are just not getting enough to eat. It is impossible, as we, on our salaries of £40 a week should know, for a person to live on £3 10s. a week. How would we like to try to live on £3 10s. a week, from which we would have to pay house rent and meet the increased cost of living which is one of the characteristics of this Government's policy? The Government had a surplus last year of more than £50,000,000, and it could easily have afforded to increase the age pension rate. But it did nothing. It is estimated that this year the Government will have a surplus of £40,000,000. As it is possible to increase the age pension by ls. a week for a cost of £1,000,000 a year, it would" be perfectly within the financial capacity of this Government to increase it by 30s. a week. It would still have a surplus of £10,000,000 at the end of the year. The Government cannot plead that it has not the money. During the regime of the Chifley Government an act giving unemployment benefit was passed. At that time, some nf its anomalies were not apparent and if that Government had remained in office there is no doubt that they would have been rectified. At present, a person may not apply for unemployment benefit until he or she has been out of work for at least one week. Even if the applicant has been out of work for four weeks he must still forfeit a week's benefit. I believe that the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. McMahon)** is trying to alter the position, but that extreme pressure is being placed upon him, and he is being ostracized by his Cabinet colleagues, for attempting to rectify this injustice. The unemployment benefit should be paid retrospectively to the date when the applicant became unemployed. I ask the Government to look at the act with a view to amending it in that direction. I should like also to mention the Government's attitude towards its employees who are suffering from industrial diseases. I have in mind a person who, while employed during World War II. in the Civil Construction Corps, contracted a form of dermatitis as a result of handling dry cement. Many people are prone to that kind of thing. The person concerned has been suffering from the complaint ever since. Certainly, he has lost only a day or two's work now and again, but during the whole period he has paid large sums of money to doctors for treatment of this terrible disease. I took the matter up with the Government and, as usual, it refused to consider it. The relevant act should be amended to provide that where such persons are not totally incapacitated but must absent themselves from work occasionally, medical treatment should be provided free, just as if they were totally incapacitated. The Leader of the Australian Labour party (Anti-Communist) had a great deal to say in this House yesterday about the Victorian State elections. He devoted the whole of his speech to an analysis of the two groups that are opposing each other in those elections next Saturday. He dealt with the Malayan situation, with **Mr. Santamaria** and with every conceivable aspect of those elections. Therefore, I feel that I must reply to some of the allegations that he has made against **Mr. Cain.** {: .speaker-L19} ##### Mr Leslie: -- Ha, ha! {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- " Ha, ha ! " is not here. Instead of being here, he is probably preparing a speech on lines similar to that made by his " leader ". On the subject of who is leader, on Friday last after a portrait of the Queen was presented to the leaders of the four parties in this House, I noticed at Essendon that the honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Keon)** walked out of the aeroplane first, with the portrait under his arm. The honorable member for Ballarat **(Mr. Joshua)** was lagging behind carrying his colleague's bag. These people say that the Cain Government is a pro-Communist Government and that the official Labour party has a non-aggression pact with the Communist party, or some such rubbish. It is about time that the true position regarding the Labour party and the break-away show was revealed to the public. There is no doubt that the break-away people represent a body which had secretly crept into the Labour party for the sole purpose of changing its policy completely so that it would more closely resemble the right wing of the Liberal party. They came in with the express intention of changing Labour's socialist objective and removing from its platform all those things which, through the years, had characterized it as a working class party. They almost succeeded because, under the subterfuge of fighting communism, they were able to set up little cells in every branch of the Labour party and in the trade union movement. In fact, their real purpose was not so much to fight communism as to fight the Australian Labour party's traditional policy of socializing the great monopolies. Let me tell honorable members why they did this. These people are so completely fanatical in their approach to politics that they follow the doctrine of the absolute. **Mr. Santamaria,** who is their political adviser, and to whom they must give slavish obedience on all matters, laid down in a famous speech entitled, " The Movement of Ideas ", that the first' thing they must do was destroy the Chifley legend. They were to destroy everything good about Chifley's policy and try to make it appear that, after all, . he was a Communist. One of the first things that the honorable member for Yarra did when he entered this Parliament was to fill the press galleries with reporters by telling them in advance of his intentions, so that every newspaper in Australia would get the story; and then he proceeded to attack hi? leader. It would not have mattered whether the leader of the Australian Labour party was Ben Chifley, Jimmy Scullin, Andrew Fisher or John Curtin. So long as its leader was prepared to follow the traditional policy of the Labour party, they would have opposed him. It is all very well for them to say now that the trouble with the Labour party is its present leader, and that if we could get rid of Evatt everything would be all right. The truth, as everyone knows, is that any Labour party leader who is prepared to stand by the traditional policy of the party would be opposed by these people. If they had done the honorable thing they would have resigned from the party after the 1951 referendum when they could not see eye to eye with the party on its attitude to the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. That would have been the honorable thing to do if they could not subscribe to the policy enunciated by the party. Did they do that? Of course not. They clung to their blue riband Labour seats. While clinging to their blue riband seats, they helped to sabotage the policy which the people who elected them thought they would support. The theory on which these people work is a' simple one. It explains why they have got into such a hopeless mess politically. They believe in the doctrine of the absolutes. They say that either one is absolutely against communism or one is absolutely for it. They say that a thing is either black or white; it cannot possibly be grey. They say that a thing is either red or yellow; it cannot possibly be orange. There are no in-betweens for these people. So, following the doctrine of the absolutes, they say that, in order to be absolutely against the Communists, one has to oppose everything that Communists do or say, even when they are right. {: .speaker-ZL6} ##### Mr Hasluck: -- Are they right? {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- '.Sometimes they are right, although it may be only accidentally. There are occasions when the Communists are right, just as there are occasions when we are wrong. The Labour party is big enough to admit that there are times when it is wrong. It is inevitable that all parties will make mistakes at times. Whenever the Labour party has made a mistake, the mistake has been an honest one. The reason why it is inevitable that every political party will make mistakes is that a political party is a congregation of individuals. Inherent in such a congregation is the human frailty which characterizes all of us as individuals. We all are fallible. {: .speaker-L19} ##### Mr Leslie: -- Let the honorable member speak for himself. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- There speaks a man who is infallible ! I thought there was only one infallible person, but I am pleased to know there are two. There have been times when the Communists have been right; but, in accordance with the doctrine of the absolutes, which necessitates absolute opposition to the Communists even when they are right, the persons about whom I am speaking put themselves on the wrong side of the ledger, so to speak, in order to be against them. {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr Turnbull: -- Give us a few illustrations. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- I shall give a few illustrations. Because the Communists advocate peace, these people advocate war. Because the Communists advocate the banning of hydrogen and atom bombs, these people say, " Let us start dropping hydrogen and atom bombs on the women and children of the huge cities of Asia. If the Communists want to stop dropping bombs, we must start dropping bombs. Otherwise, we are not being absolutely opposed to them ". When a Communist trade union secretary says, " We want an increase of margins ", the groupers say, " Oh, no ; the present margins are all right. Let them stay as they are because this is a foul plot by the Communist party to disrupt the economy of the country ". If we look at *News Weekly,* the official organ of the little group in this House when I call the " Sad Seven ", we see that in March of last year they lauded the decision of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to reject the application by the Australian Council of Trades Unions for an all-round increase of margins. They said that the decision was wise and good, simply because they knew that some Communist union officials were supporting the claim for increased margins. So it is with the Labour party's socialist objective. Those honorable members know perfectly well that the Labour party's socialist objective, which, incidentally was put into the platform of the Labour party by none other than Jimmy Scullin, does not envisage the complete socialization of every form of private property. Everybody knows that it was never intended that the Labour party would set out to socialize every form of private property. Nobody knows better than do the people on the other side of the House and the people in the corner, who have joined their Liberal friends. No one knows better than they do that no Labour spokesman has ever said that the Labour party's socialist objective means the socialization of all forms of private property. If honorable members opposite read the Labour party's constitution and rules they will find that the platform of the party states that we favour the nationalization only of those monopolies which exploit the people. We shall not interfere with your farm at Oakbank, **Mr. Speaker.** You need have no fear of that. I agree with the remarks that were made in the South Australian House of Assembly many years ago by the honorable member who represented the Wooroora division. He was a man named Archie Cameron. He said that the private banks of Australia were the most vicious and corrupt influence with which the farming community of Australia had to contend and had been responsible for throwing hundreds of farmers off their properties. [ say that Archie Cameron was perfectly correct when he made that charge against the private banks. There is no wonder that Archie Cameron in his business transactions has always supported the Commonwealth Bank as against the private trading banks. He was a man who had been through the mill. He was a farmer who suffered at the hands of the private banks. Archie Cameron knows better than any one else the effect that the operations of the private banks had on the farmers during the last depression. {: #subdebate-20-0-s5 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- I am pleased that the honorable member for Ballarat **(Mr. Joshua)** is in the chamber now. I hope he has regained possession of the Queen's portrait. The people about whom I was speaking a few moments ago say that because Labour believes in the socialization even of monopolies, that is a step towards communism. **Mr. Santamaria** has taught them to believe that any form of socialism is a step towards communism. Because they say it is a step towards communism, they say it must ' be opposed. We see the doctrine of the absolutes in operation again. They must be absolutely opposed to communism. Therefore, they must put aside the. Labour party's objective of socialism. If we take away the socialist objectives of the Labour party, we take away from it the only thing that distinguishes it from the Liberal party. If we take away the only thing that distinguishes the Labour party from the Liberal party, we shall create a political vacuum, into which some other group or force will inevitably move. Therefore. I believe it is essential to have in this community a true working-class party which is prepared to enunciate policies that will give effect to working-class hopes and aspirations. But these people are closely akin to the Liberal party, as their action in the Victorian Parliament has proved. They voted with the Liberal party to destroy the best government that the Victorian people had ever had. The fact that they have supported in this Parliament the decision of a Liberal government to send Australian troops to Malaya proves that they are J part of the Liberal party itself. The Labour party must resist and, 1 am pleased to say, has succeeded in resisting, the fascist-like tendencies of the group represented in the corner. The Labour party is just as opposed to communism as it is to fascism. We believe that we cannot destroy communism per manently until we have -removed the evils of capitalism. There never would have been a second world war, with all the slaughter it involved, but for the fact that) through the evils of capitalism, an Austrian ' house painter called Adolf Hitler could not get a job at his trade and decided to set up an extreme right wing party as an outlet for his feelings of frustration. There never "would have been a book called *Das* *Kapital,* were it not for the fact that a young man in Germany called Karl Marx was forced by the Junkers class and the capitalist class of Germany to look for a job elsewhere. So long as we have unfettered, monopoly capitalism, we shall always have communism. The tragedy is that "these people who claim to be 'fighting communism are not opposed to 'communism on economic grounds. That is proved by the fact -that they are doing nothing to remove the causes of communism. I should like them to answer this question: Why is it that in Italy, which is One of the greatest Christian countries -in the world, indeed the cradle of Christianity, 36 per cent, of the people at the last ele'ction voted for the Communist party? Will honorable members tell me that people in Italy voted for the Communist party because they were convinced that communism is right? And will they tell me that the 462,000,000 illiterate Chinese coolies who accepted the government of Mao Tse-Tung did so because they understood the theory of surplus value and dialectic materialism? They accepted that Government because, in a state of utter frustration and desperation, they decided that anything was better than the corrupt -government of Chiang Kaishek. In the same way, 36 per cent, of the people of Italy to-day are saying, " Anything is better -than this form of capitalism in which 2,500,000 people who want to work are refused the right to do so, and in which a large percentage of the people in the rural areas are illiterate and unable to get enough to keep body and soul together". Why is it that in these great countries the people are turning to communism when there is no real reason for them to do so other than the economic reason1? The group in this House that claims to -be fighting communism, but is doing nothing to deal with the things that cause communism', has no right to claim to be an antiCommunist party. Only the Labour party, with its 'determination to root out the evil characteristics of monopoly capitalism, can ever destroy communism; Communism is weak in Australia to-day because the country is prosperous, but Communists have gained control of some trade unions in Australia because the non-Communist officers of those unions who preceded them did not do their job:; because they were nothing but bosses' stooges like Laurie Short, and like Jim Neill of the Australian Railways Union. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable Member should not use Christian names 'in 'referring 'to people. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -Well, like **Mr. J.** Neill in Victoria, who is paid and financed hy the bosses so that the militants can be destroyed, and so that a " tame cat " union can be put in its place. There is .a man named **Mr. L.** Short, the national secretary of the Ironworkers Association, who, beyond the shadow of a doubt, is being financed by American capitalism to carry on this so-called crusade against communism. I know that he is the **Mr. L.** Short who worked at Mount lsa under the name of L. Stewart, and who was one of the -most vicious Communists that the Australian Workers Union had to deal with in the Mount Isa district. Now he poses -as -a great anti-Communist. He poses as a -great Christian, when the fact is that he is a -self-confessed atheist. The time .'has surely arrived when members of this -House 'should realize that if the Labour party ever becomes a centre party, 'as some people would like it to become, it will go the same way as all other centre parties in Europe have gone. It will go and be forgotten, and into the vacuum left by its retreat from its traditional political policies will come Some other party. It may be the Communist party. It certainly will be some party much further to the left than is the Labour party. It will then be too late for honorable members opposite to rue the day. Now is the time to !stop your senseJess .and , unfair -harping about the policy which we espouse, which you know in your own hearts is not communism, and which you know does not envisage complete and absolute socialization. If you were fair, you would forget about the political advantages that you can obtain by screaming about absolute socialization, and you would have some thought for the country. Have a look at the history of the world. What has happened in other countries? People like you- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order ! The honorable member will address the Chair. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- People like you, sir, are prepared to go out and brand the Australian Labour party, which is a democratic socialist party, as a Communist party, only to find that you are sowing the seeds that will destroy the very democracy that you claim to be supporting. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable gentleman's time has expired. {: #subdebate-20-0-s6 .speaker-LLW} ##### Mr DEAN:
Robertson -- I remind the honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Clyde Cameron)** that the Chinese people did not accept the Communist government. They had it forced upon them, because the Communists had greater armed strength than was possessed by the Nationalist army of Chiang Kai-shek. I am grateful to the honorable member for informing me that the main objective of the Australian Labour party is still socialization, but I disagree with his statement that that is the only difference between his followers and the members of the Liberal party. For example, our foreign policy is entirely different. Perhaps equally important is the fact that the Liberal party represents all sections of the community, whereas the Labour party claims to represent only one section. We have seen an excellent example of the class hatred of the honorable member himself in the speech that he has just concluded. When the debate was resumed on behalf of the Opposition by the honorable member for Melbourne **(Mr. Calwell),** the honorable member spent some time discussing social services. Hip lead has been followed by quite a number of members on his side of the House. In most instances, they attacked the Government's social services policy. It is a great pity that so often in this House attacks of that nature are made for purely political purposes. The social services problem is a very real one indeed, and it would be far better if the Opposition members devoted their time, energy and thinking to assisting the Government in trying to reach the solution which will be of most benefit to the community. It is true to say that when the social services problem is brought to one'!: attention in regard to the human aspect alone, one always desires to afford the greatest amount of help possible to the particular persons involved. But, a." Opposition members know as well as we do, it is not possible to legislate for the individual. The Government has to legislate to the best of its ability for the benefit of the majority in the community. Therefore, when an individual problem arises, no matter how worthy it may be and no matter how eager one is to assist in that matter, one finds difficulty because of the nature of the legislation under which assistance may be given. It -would be wise before considering this problem at any great length to examine what has happened in the past few years. The problem is becoming more complex. The number of persons seeking and receiving social services benefits of one kind and another is increasing, and of course the amount of money expended in that direction is also increasing. For example, in 1949, the total amount of benefits paid for social services, excluding the health services, was £74,557,000. In 1951, the amount was £102,591,000. . Last year, the figure reached £147,165,000. In 1949. £6,500,000 was spent on national health services. At that time, the health services consisted only of hospital benefits and free life-saving drugs. The medical benefits scheme and the pensioner benefit scheme were introduced later by this Government. Let us consider the year when the pensioner medical scheme was introduced. One finds that, in 1951, an amount of £12,753.000 was spent on health services. Last year £34,092,000 was spent on those services, and in this current year it is estimated that a total of £193,000,000 will be spent on social services benefit? and the national health scheme. That, of course, is a tremendous amount of money. We find that it is split up as follows: - Aged and invalid pensions. approximately 55 per cent.; child endowment, about 34 per cent.; widows' pensions, 4-£ per cent.; unemployment and sickness benefits, 3 per cent.; maternity allowances, 2 per cent.; and rehabilitation and funeral benefits, 0.5 per cent. But the solution of the social services problem is not to advocate an increase in the rate of pensions, as the Labour party has done. The honorable member for Hindmarsh said that the country can now afford to make extra payments. That may be so, but an increase in the rate of pensions is not, in itself, the solution of many of the problems which confront the aged and invalid pensioners who, through no fault of their own, are unable to support themselves financially. Fortunately, we have come to a stage of thinking a- hereby the earning section of the community accepts the responsibility of maintaining those who are not able to support themselves. Our thinking along that line has progressed, and that is why the Government, following the thinking of the community, has increased the benefits *Not* only have there been increases in cbe financial aid given by way of existing social services, but also new benefits have been introduced. I have already referred to the medical and pharmaceutical benefits, and the free medicine scheme. I could also mention the free life-saving drugs that are available to all sections of the community. Last year, the Government introduced a scheme of homes for the aged. One of the problems associated with old age is to provide for the lonely person. A single person, whether man or woman, has to be provided with suitable accommodation, given adequate care, and enabled to fit into the life of the community. In these homes, married couples are accommodated so that husband and wife may spend the years of their retirement together. It will be remembered that the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies),** in his policy speech delivered on behalf of this Government, promised that something would be done for the aged. That promise has been fulfilled. It would be far more beneficial if this Parliament were to give a lead to the people in the right direction, and the Opposition were to spend more time and devote their energies to finding a solution to the problem of how far we can continue to increase the rate of pensions payable to the aged, the invalids, the widows, and those who receive repatriation pensions. We can include, too, all those other things which come under the heading of social services, and the general benefits which the members of the earning section of the community provide for those who are not so fortunate as themselves. We should also keep clearly and firmly in our minds the fact that governments do not create money. The money for these benefits is taken, by way of taxation or loans, from the earning section of the community, and the Government merely distributes that money in the way it thinks best. I desire now to refer to the Trade Commissioner Service insofar as it effects an area in my division. The area I have in mind is situated on the central coast of *New* South Wales and includes Mangrove Mountain, Kulnura and Peats Ridge. It is the largest passionfruitgr owing area in Australia. Because of the crop failure in all districts this winter, the indications are that a very large crop will be harvested next summer. A committee of the growers has made a survey of the areas, and has informed me that, on a conservative estimate, about 250,000 bushels will be marketed from the next summer crop. As the Government, and particularly the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. McEwen)** know, the last crop was a heavy one, and with the heavier crop this year, the processors may be hard-put to handle the fruit as it comes from the vines. A few years ago, Australia was able to export passionfruit, but has not been able to do so for some time. As a matter of fact, even in the last few years, some processors have been importing passionfruit from South Africa. With the increased acreage under cultivation, plus more intensive farming and reliable seasons, the crop is becoming much larger, and it is believed we are reaching a stage where we will be again able to export. I am informed that there is a constant and firm demand for this fruit overseas, not only in the United Kingdom and on the continent of Europe, but also in the United States of America and Canada. The area to which I have referred is naturally suited for the growing of this fruit, and I think it would be of great advantage to the growers if the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, in association with the Minister for Shipping and Transport **(Senator McLeay),** who has already carried out investigations into the matter during his visit overseas, were to instruct the trade commissioners to report on the availability of markets for the sale of this fruit, particularly in the United States. I was very pleased yesterday to hear the honorable member for Bradfield **(Mr. Turner)** refer to something I have already mentioned in this House on several occasions, namely, the necessity to arrange for certain members of this House to make visits overseas, especially to those countries along our northern approaches. I mention, as examples, Indonesia, Borneo, Malaya, Thailand, Ceylon, India, and Pakistan. Under the Colombo plan, we are inviting - and very rightly so - a number of the citizens of those countries to visit Australia to study our way of life, our customs, our methods, our. technical arrangements and our administration generally. They come as students and as observers, and I am very pleased to be able to say that these visitors are invited on a number of occasions into Australian homes. In this way, they are getting to know us. Apart from that brief contact we have with them, we have very little opportunity to get to know them in their own countries. I feel that there should be a two-way flow of this traffic. We should encourage a greater number of the citizens of those countries to visit us, and at the same time, this Government should make itself responsible for return visits by members of this House. We are frequently called upon to debate, and arrive at decisions on our relations with the countries to which I have referred. I am also pleased to know that certain organizations within Australia have made arrangements privately for delegations of their members to visit those countries. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that the members of this House, which perhaps could be called the board of directors of Australia, should have similar opportunities to make overseas visits and to inform their minds on conditions outside Australia, and in that way play their part in fostering goodwill and establishing good relationships between Australia and countries to our north. {: #subdebate-20-0-s7 .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON:
St. George .- I am glad that the Treasurer **(Sir Arthur Fadden)** is at present in the House, as I intend to emphasize that he will face many problems in the coming year because some of our industries are costing themselves out of the world's markets. I believe that one of the most serious influences in the high production costs of many of our goods is the high rate of interest that companies and individuals have to pay on loans. In the near future, when the people are feeling the effects of the import restrictions imposed by this Government to counter our adverse trade balance, they should remember that much of their trouble has been brought about by the policy of the present Government in regard to interest rates. Not only are high interest rates having a serious effect on industrial costs; they are also influencing the cost of electric power which is needed by individuals as well as factories. This Government has increased the interest rate by 1 per cent., and, consequently, the electricity that will be produced from the Snowy Mountains scheme will cost about 45 per cent, more than it would have cost if the Government had not raised interest charges. Honorable members are well aware that the cost of that electric power is closely connected with the interest rate charged on capital loans, because in a hydro-electric scheme the capital charge is much greater than the operating charge. In thermal power stations the position is reversed, the operating and maintenance costs being relatively higher than the capital cost. Therefore, although the electric power produced from the Snowy Mountains scheme could have been supplied to industries in New South Wales and Victoria at about half the cost of thermal power, because the Treasurer and his Government have increased the interest rate, industry will not now obtain the advantage of cheaper power from that source. Costs in many industries are continually increasing, and cheaper electric power would have helped those industries to reduce their costs, and, consequently, reduce the prices of their manufactured articles. If the Government is sincere in its protestations to the effect that it wants to assist Australian industry, it should immediately reduce interest rates on government bonds. The sooner that is done the sooner will industry receive some relief by having its costs reduced. Recently, I directed a question to the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. McMahon)** about the increased interest rates that ex-servicemen have to pay on loans to build and purchase their homes. As usual, the Minister informed the House that the Government had expended so many millions of pounds more than the last Labour Government expended on housing. Of course, statements like that do not assist ex-servicemen to obtain homes. Some time ago, ex-servicemen who applied to the War Service Homes Division for finance were told that they would have to wait sixteen months or eighteen months before they could get it. The more independent among them consequently went elsewhere for their finance. Some went to insurance companies, some to private banks and others to co-operative housing societies. Because of the general increase of the interest rate, some of those men now find it very difficult to discharge their mortgages, and others find it hard to obtain sufficient money for the deposits on their homes. During the period of office of the Chifley Government, ex-servicemen were always able to get the benefit of the War Service Homes Act. To-day, they cannot do so, and, consequently, they have to continue paying high rates of interest to insurance companies and other institutions. If an ex-serviceman obtains a loan of £2,000 repayable over 25 years at an interest rate of 3f per cent., he has to pay back his money at the rate of £2 8s. 3d. a week. If he obtains a loan of the same amount over the same period from *a* private institution, he has to pay 5£ per cent, interest, and, consequently, has to1 pay his loan back at the rate of £2 17s. 9d. a week. If we' multiply those weekly sums by 52, there being 52 weeks in a year, and then by 25, 25 years being the period of the loan, we shall find that an ex-serviceman has to pay £578 more for a loan from an institution other than the War Service Homes Division. However, although the War Service Homes Act is a form of social service for the men who have served their country, many such men have been denied this advantage. Most of those who have gone to outside institutions now find that because of high interest charges and, perhaps, because of their increased family responsibilities, they cannot continue their payments. They are, therefore, endeavouring to get the benefits of the War Service Homes Act. But they cannot do so ; and I am astounded that a government with so many ex-servicemen among its supporters has seen fit to deprive those men of the benefit of the War Service Homes legislation. I now desire to refer to the money made available to the States for housing by the Commonwealth under the 1954-55 budget. At that time the Labour party charged the Government with not having made sufficient money available to the States for housing. The Minister for Housing in New South Wales also said at that time that his State would require a further £6,500,000 in order to obtain continuity in its housing programme. The Treasurer replied to the Labour party, and also to the New South Wales Minister, that the Commonwealth would supply adequate money, and that there would be no hold-up in the New South Wales housing programmes. About three weeks ago, the Minister for Housing in that State announced that his Government had ceased letting contracts to builders because there was not sufficient finance available to maintain continuity in that State's housing programme. Although this Government has been asked to honour its agreements with the States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, satisfactory action has not been taken, and it has, therefore, been necessary for the State governments, particularly the New South Wales Government, to halt their construction programmes. I am pleased to see that the honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Keon)** is in the chamber. I wish now to mention a matter that concerns him.[Quorum *formed.]* This man, who fights communism by remote control ; this man who always- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order ! The honorable gentleman shall refer to the honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Keon),** in conformity with parliamentary methods, ass " the honorable member ". {: .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON: -- The honorable member for Yarra - I was about to say the member for Yarra - who follows- {: .speaker-KEJ} ##### Mr Keon: -- Tell us about Miller ! {: .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON: -- I intended to deal with nhat matter at 8 o'clock when more honorable members will be present in the chamber. I wish to refer to the following statement made last Tuesday in this House : - {: #subdebate-20-0-s8 .speaker-JRF} ##### Mr W M BOURKE:
FAWKNER, VICTORIA -- This little disturbance has been caused by the honorable member for St. George . . . It was followed by this remark - {: .speaker-KEJ} ##### Mr Keon: -- He had- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honor- a ble member shall not address other honorable members by their personal names. {: .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON: -- I was only reading the reference that appears in *Hansard.* {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! The honorable gentleman has no right to read current *Hansard.* {: .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON: -- I quoted from *Ilansard* because the honorable member for Yarra, on Tuesday last, made an extremely rude interjection, which demonitrated the sort of man he is. I wish to refer to that interjection. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order! The honorable gentleman may not quote from *Hansard* of the current session. That is a very old parliamentary rule. {: .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON: -- As I may not quote it, I state simply that it was a remark that should never have appeared in *Hansard.* T did not hear if. when it was made. The interjection shows that the honorable member for Yarra is a man like a lot of the other little rodents that run about- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order ! The honorable gentleman may not liken another honorable member to a rodent, big or little. He will withdraw that remark. {: .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON: -- I withdraw it. *Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.* {: .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON: -- Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was dealing with 8 remark that had been made by the honorable member for Yarra, which, tomy mind, denoted two things. I had mentioned one of them, but because you, **Mr. Speaker,** said my remark was unparliamentary, I shall not transgress by mentioning it again. The second thing denoted was that during the period that I was Minister for Worksand Housing in the Chifley Govern incut, on many occasions I had Communists in my office, and in fact, took fright whenever Communists came near me.I wish to make it clear that during that period on nn occasion did I have Communists in my office simply because they were Communists. If they caine as representatives of affiliated trade unions by way of deputation, they were allowed into my office as many other visitors and deputations were. They were not turned away. On no occasion did I ask any man hi.* political or religious or any other belief. It seems to me that the interjections of the honorable member for Yarra imply that I was not a suitable Labour Minister or member. This member who deals- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable member must refer to the " honorable member ". {: .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON: -- I am sorry, **Mr. Speaker.** This honorable member who. as I said previously, fights Communistsby remote control and by proxy and is alwavs endeavouring to show that other peonle are engaging in a smear campaign, recently wrote me a letter which I shall read, particularly in the light of the things I am sunnosed to have done in my association with Communists. This is the first time I have ever had any charge made against me concerning my political life during the period from 1943 to 1949. During that last year I left politics for a time, because of the decision of the electors. It is rather strange, however, that only a very short time ago - on the 26th May, 1954 - the honorable member for Yarra wrote me a letter in which he said - >Dear Nelson. Best of luck for Saturday. Hope to sec you back in the Ministry. {: .speaker-F4T} ##### Sir ARTHUR FADDEN:
MCPHERSON, QUEENSLAND · CP -hub Fadden. - That is natural goodwill, surely. {: .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON: -- That is a peculiar letter to receive from a man who, by interjection, accuses me of dealings with the Communists. {: .speaker-KEJ} ##### Mr Keon: -- What about the Miller case ? {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: {: .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON: -- The honorable member now interjects, " What about the Miller case?" I shall not waste too much time on it because I want to deal with another matter. Miller was an employee of the Department of Works and Housing when I became its ministerial head. He was employed there all the time I was a Minister and he was still working in that department when I left it and handed over the portfolio to the present Minister for External Affairs **(Mr. Casey).** On many occasions during that period Miller's case was before the Arbitration Court. On the first occasion - the 14th May, 1947 - he went before the Arbitration Court at my direction. Later I again directed that it be taken to the court because of the action of a Communist union which was endeavouring to hold up jobs being done by the Department of Works. Fifteen months later T once more directed that it be taken before the court and on that occasion I submitted that the Communistcontrolled union was not carrying out the practice of proper trade unionism because it was endaa.vouvi.ng to cause trouble throughout the department. I made a request, through my representative, that the union should be deregistered and it was deregistered. Between these events **Mr. Keon,** M.L.A., who is now the honorable memfer for Yarra, came into the discussion. The first time he made an appearance in this case was by a statement in the press. He talks about people going to the press and smearing others, but what did he do? He went to the press and smeared a Minister of the Labour Government, **Mr. Holloway,** by saying that he was aiding a Communist union and conspiring with it, and endeavouring to have this man Miller dismissed. That appeared in a statement in the press made by this man on the 26th July, 1948. {: .speaker-KEJ} ##### Mr Keon: -- Read the statement. {: .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON: -- The statement appeared in the Melbourne *Herald on* the 27th July, 1948. I shall not read it all because it would take too mud time. On the previous day, he made a statement that a Commonwealth Labour Minister was, in fact, conspiring to have a man dismissed. The press went to him and said, "You have said either too much or not enough ", and then he said that the man was **Mr. Holloway,** a Minister in the Chifley Government. The facts are contained in a letter written byMr. Keon himself to the secretary of the Australian Labour party, in the Melbourne Trades Hall, on the 22nd December. He said that **Mr. Miller's** story was told to him by a **Mr. Brophy,** who was an industrial officer in the Department of Works and Housing. He said that he was told that a carpenter was being crucified by the Communists ami that a Labour Minister, **Mr. Holloway,** was in a conspiracy with them to crucify him. According to a sworn statement which I have here and which is both signed and witnessed, this man, **Mr. Brophy,** who gave him the information, said - > **Mr.** Keon's interview with me was on a much earlier date than his recent pres." statement. We ascertained the fact that the information which was supposed to have been given by **Mr. Brophy** to the honorable number for Yarra, was, in fact, given on or abour, the 12th April. So, from the *1* 2th April until the 27th July, this man let the carpenter be persecuted. He said nothing about it to the executive of the Australian Labour party, to the then Prime Minister, or to his colleagues in the Labour party of whom I, as Minister, was one. He spoke first to the Melbourne *Herald,* one of the most anti-Labour journals in Australia: That is why I say that he lives on communism. In fact,he has a vested interest in communism. He fights it by remote control. When he was in the Clerks Union, what did he do to fight communism? He did nothing. Even after Peters and others had been physically handled by the Communists, he did nothing to assist the union to get rid of the Communists. He made speeches from banquet tables after he had dined and wined well. Yes, he made great Speeches against the Communists, this fighter of communism by remote control. That is the answer to his 'interjection, What about the Miller case?" I will discuss the Miller case any time and anywhere he. likes, but I will have to leave it how because I want to deal with a really important matter. On Tuesday, 17th Maylast, a Statement appeared in the press in which the Prime Minister announced that 4 £23,000,000 project would be built at St. Mary's. The Prime Minister said first that this was to be built under a new form ofcontract, and later that it was to be a form of negotiated contract on a cost-plus fixed-fee basis.He added that tenders would be invited for this project. On the following day I read in the *Sydney Morning Herald,* in the tenderscolumn, the following advertisement:- Project 590. Nominations are invited for registration of Contractors prepared to tender on a fixed-fee basis for execution of extensive works at St. Marys, Sydney, on behalf of the Commonwealth Government at an estimated cost of approximately £20,000,000. The successful tenderer will be required 'to controlall contracts, including building, civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering; and plant installation. I consider that the Government's action represents a very serious change of policy. It will be an extravagant change of policy for the taxpayers.It will have an extremely bad effect oh the morale of the Department of Works. The Department of Works took overthe functions of the Allied Works Council, for the purpose of not only carin'g for Commonwealth assets and supervising Commonwealth construction, but also providing a basic organization which could be used in the event of any future emergency. It was intended that, in such an event, skilled personnel would be immediately available to form the nucleus of a work force which would be able to cope with any defence or other important project so that the Government would not suffer the' terrific financial loss that was suffered in the early period of operation of the Allied Works Council. I believe that the Department of Works should remain a strong, virile department. Has the Government no faith in its Minister for Works, or in the Department of Works ? In only one other project since the war - the construction of a nuclear reactor- has the Government handed the whole job 6f supervision and the. preparation of plans, specifications and working drawings to a private architect. The Government will have to pay at least 6 per cent. of the construction cost of the project at St. Mary's to the private architects, Stephenson and Turner, for. their supervision. That will cost the Government not less than £1,380,000. It is scandalous that that sum should be paid to private architects when the work could be done by the Department of Works. The Government knows little about the capacity of its own department, notwithstanding that the department was responsible for the construction of the huge establishments at Salisbury and other centres, and the Woomera rocket range. The latter was a far bigger project than the one at St. Mary's will be.The site was located 400 miles from Adelaide and 186miles from the nearest town. It was necessaryto build a railway line and take water by pipe line and all other supplies to the project. The whole of that construction was supervised by the Department of Works, which has already saved the country more than £2,000,000 oh that project alone. Yet the Government has turned the supervision of the St. Mary's project oyer to a private firm. Were tenders called for this work? The Government is supposed to believe in the principle of competition. But it did not call for tenders for this Avork. It decided that the firm of Stephenson and Turner should supervise it and receive £1,380,000 in commission. I warn the Government that such action as this could lead to serious malpractice. It could result in another scandal such as that which occurred in connexion with the Sydney General Post Office, and the Government would then be as culpable as any wrongdoer. It is a shame that although the Department of Works has a nuclen. skilled men to deal with an emergency- {: #subdebate-20-0-s9 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable member's time has expired. {: .speaker-KEJ} ##### Mr Keon: -- I rise to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for St. George **(Mr. Lemmon)** definitely misrepresented me when he said that I had used what has been called the " Miller case" in an attempt to attack his bona fides as an opponent of communism. **Mr. Miller** was employed in the department of which the honorable member for St. George was in ministerial control in 1948. He had the temerity to go to a meeting of the carpenters' union at Clifton Hill and criticize- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable gentleman must deal with the misrepresentation of himself, not what has been done by the honorable member for St. George. {: .speaker-KEJ} ##### Mr Keon: -- I am coming to that point now. The honorable member for St. George said that my statements about the dismissal of **Mr. Miller** were untrue. What actually happened was that **Mr. Miller** was fined £5 by the Communistcontrolled carpenters' union. He refused to pay the fine because it was unjust. The Minister, through the department's industrial officer, told him that if he did not pay the fine at the rate of 10s. a week, he would be sacked from the department, and he was so sacked. The honorable member for St. George was the Minister in charge of the department at the time. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- I rise to order. The honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Keon)** has made no reference- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! *Honorable members interjecting,* {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- Please listen to what I have to say, **Mr. Speaker.** {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I shall listen to the honorable gentleman as soon as he is given a hearing. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- I apologize to you, **Mr. Speaker.** I did not understand the reason for your intervention. Look, if this man- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! The practice of failing to refer to honorable members as " honorable members " is becoming too prevalent in the House. If honorable gentlemen wish to dispense with that courtesy they had better do so outside the chamber. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- This honorable member has not said one word yet about the manner in which he has been misrepresented. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! What is the point of order? {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- I say- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! It matters not what the honorable member says. What is the point of order? {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- Must not an honorable member who seeks to make a personal explanation state exactly how he has been misrepresented? {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! I feel that I am still quite competent to deal with minor matters such as that. If the honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Clyde Cameron)** really has the confidence of the House in that respect, no doubt honorable members will change the Cameron in the chair. {: .speaker-KEJ} ##### Mr Keon: -- The honorable member for St. George, in dealing with the case to which I have referred, said that my allegations in relation to that matter were completely untrue. He has misrepresented the position and my role in that particular matter. He said that I did not come into the case until a long time after the man had been fined. It is true that I did not come into the case until such time as I knew of it, and until such time as I found out that, because of the weakness of the then Minister for Works towards Communist-controlled unions, men were being dismissed from employment in the government service. When I learned of that, I took the case to the central executive of the Australian Labour party. Representations were made which resulted in the man being reemployed in his job. No thanks were due to the honorable member for St. George for his reinstatement. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order ! The honorable member for St. George should not enter into the matter. The point with which I am concerned is the alleged misrepresentation of the honorable member for Yarra. {: .speaker-KEJ} ##### Mr Keon: -- The honorable member for St. George quoted a paragraph relating to a **Mr. Brophy,** who was the industrial officer concerned, and suggested that what I had said about him was untrue. **Mr. Brophy** was the industrial officer who was verbally instructed to tell **Mr. Miller** that, if he did not pay the unjustly imposed fine at the rate of 10s. a week, the department would take that amount out of his salary and that, if he raised any objection to that' action, he would be dismissed. Those are **Mr. Brophy's** own words. If any honorable member wants to query this position, **Mr. Miller** is on the telephone, and honorable members are at liberty to ring him up and check the facts. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP **Mr. Clyde** *Cameron interjecting,* {: .speaker-KEJ} ##### Mr Keon: -- The honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Clyde Cameron)** says that **Mr. Miller** is a " grouper ". That being so, it is in order to fine him, victimize him or do anything at all to him, because he fights communism. According to the honorable member's brand of justice, you can do anything you like to any one who fights communism. I can see that you feel I am getting a little off the track, **Mr. Speaker.** I shall refer now to the other matter which the honorable member for St. George mentioned, the question of my work against Communist control of the Federated Clerks Union. With all due respect to the honorable member who came from Western Australia, I say that if he knew anything at all of the industrial life of that State, he would know that the statement he made that I had had no part in wresting Communist control from the Clerks Union was not true. {: .speaker-KGX} ##### Mr Haylen: -- The honorable member for Burke **(Mr. Peters)** told us so in to-day's newspapers. {: .speaker-KEJ} ##### Mr Keon: -- The honorable member for Burke is in a desperate plight trying to retain his seat in the redistribution, and he may say any number of things. Any responsible official of the Federated Clerks Union knows only too well that, in the days when the fight against communism was first starting, when I was a youth, I played my part in that fight long before these Johnny-come-latelys and other people who tremble with fear at the sight of' a Communist boss, were ever attempting to boast of their fight against communism. I have explained my position in relation to **Mr. Miller,** and I hope that, later on, I shall have a chance to emphasize what I have said. {: .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr Lemmon: -- I have been misrepresented by the honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Keon),** who said that **Mr. Miller** was dismissed at my direction because he had not paid off a £5 fine at the rate of 10s. a week. That is a serious charge, and I want to say that if it can be proved against me - and the files are in the hands of my political opponents - that I directed the dismissal of **Mr. Miller,** I shall leave this Parliament and never come back. I throw out that challenge. The honorable member has questioned my good name. If he can prove that his allegation is correct, 1 shall leave this Parliament. {: #subdebate-20-0-s10 .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH:
Mackellar -- The sensitivity of some honorable members opposite is remarkable when they are reminded of their past tenderness towards the Communist party. The only comment I have to make on that matter is that the honorable member for St. George **(Mr. Lemmon)** seems a little too sure of what is and is not on that file. He appears to have a very close acquaintance with this case. There are two or three matters which I should like to mention in passing. The first relates to atomic energy and uranium. I mention that matter in passing because item 18' on the notice-paper relates to a report on this matter which is to be debated in this House. I hope that that report will be debated before the Minister for Supply **(Mr. Beale)** goes abroad, and I also hope that this House will be given the chance to look into that matter fully. I for one am not entirely satisfied with the statement which the Minister made during the debate this afternoon, in regard to the production of uranium in Australia. I feci that because the Department of Supply is a very big department and has to look after a great many things, the Minister may not be as fully informed on this matter as he should be. It is a matter which should be prosecuted with the greatest efficiency, because the interests of Australia are involved. I believe we could do a lot more towards speeding up the production of uranium than we are doing at present. "We have' missed the bus in the past through having been too slow, and I think that, even now, there are some things that could be done to remedy past deficiencies. T am not going to speak on this subject at any length for the simple reason that the item is on the notice-paper, and T hope that it will be debated fully before the Minister goes abroad. The second matter I wish to mention in passing is that of civil defence, and I mention it in passing only because there remains on the notice-paper an item which relates to the second-reading of a bill that I myself introduced in this House. I believe that this is the most important matter outstanding for Australia at the present day, not merely because of its nature, but also because it is the matter in relation to which our' preparations are most deficient. It is the weak link in our defence chain. 1 am not convinced that the measures which the Minister outlined in the second-reading debate are sufficient to meet the emergent situation, and I believe that the matter should be debated by this House on a strictly non-party basis. In the interests of Australia, and in the interests of the survival of Australians, including those who are related to us and who are our friends, we should be paying a great deal more attention to this matter than the Minister is apparently inclined to pay at the present moment. I come now to a topic that I have mentioned in this House before - the necessity to do something quickly to standardize the trunk railways of Australia. This is partly an economic and partly a defence matter. It can be justified fully either way. We should be starting immediately on the standardization of the main trunk lines which link our capital cities and our main centres of production. Failure to do this means daily economic loss of a quite considerable degree. If there should be an emergency, we might bitterly regret the impediments to free movement which are imposed by breaks of gauge, both at Albury on the line to Melbourne, and at Broken Hill on the line to the west where, as honorable members know, a gap separates the 4-ft. 8-i-in. transcontinental line from the New South Wales 4-ft. S£-in. system. In the past, we have been told that there were various reasons why this work should not be done. Those reasons were, first, that there was a shortage of steel, or that the steel rails could not be provided: secondly, that there was a shortage of money; and thirdly, that there was a shortage of other materials and of manpower. Let me examine these reason? that have been given. Only a few months ago, when I was in Washington, I had conversations with General Edgerton, who is chairman of the Export-Import Bank in the United States. Last Tuesday, I rang him by telephone and spoke to him in Washington. I asked him if I could quote those conversations in this House, and he gave me permission to do so. I propose to do that now. It is only fair to say that he gave me no commitment, nor indeed could he do so, because obviously I was not in a position to speak in terms of commitments. But we did discuss the matter in general terms, and he made it quite clear that, if necessary, in his view - and he is chairman of the bank - his bank would be prepared to finance at least a considerable part of this project, provided that his experts, on examination, found that, technically, it was good. T Iia ve no doubt about its technical merits, and I have no doubt, therefore, of the results of any expert examination. General Edgerton said that his bank would be willing to provide such assistance, subject to the conditions that 1 have mentioned, and again, not with any commitment, because it would be quite unreasonable to think that that was a commitment on his part. However, he left me in no doubt as to the general sense of his statement. He told me that his bank would finance the export from America of all the necessary steel and associated machinery that we cannot produce in Australia because of the critical steel shortage. He said he would be willing to do so on a twenty-year term so that it would' be fully self-liquidating, with no repayments for the first five years. He further stated that he thought his bank would make the finance available at an interest rate of 5 per cent., but, perhaps, if we shopped around, we might get it more cheaply. I do not know whether we could get it more cheaply or not, but- it was his opinion that possibly we could. It is a great pity that the visit of the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** to the United States of America was so curtailed, because there are opportunities in that country which are not being exploited, and which could be used to the immense and immediate advantage of Australia. As I have stated, I have the permission of General Edgerton to quote him on the matter. I repeat that he gave me no commitment, nor could he give me any; but there is no doubt in my mind that, if negotiations were opened with the appropriate authorities and on the proper basis, they could be concluded almost immediately._ Let me go further. There is no shortage of rail sleepers in Australia, although from time to time temporary shortages occur because forward orders are not made firm in sufficient quantities, and because there is this tangle between hewn and sawn sleepers where the railway authorities, including State railway departments, have lodged orders for supplies in a not very intelligent manner. There is no shortage of earth-moving machinery, and the man-power required is comparatively small. It can be provided. I believe that, in these circumstances, there is no excuse for not proceeding straightaway, or at any rate before the end of this calendar year, with at least some moves towards the standardization of our trunk-lines. The question is this: What are we to do first? I believe that the proper thing to tackle first would be the line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie, a distance of approximately 250 miles, in which there is no natural obstacle, and which would not require one major structural work. Such, a line would link the New South Wales system with the trans-continental system, and enable freight to be moved from Brisbane, Sydney and Albury, without a break-of-gauge, overland as far as Kalgoorlie. The construction of that line would enable the trans-continental train, which is the best train in Australia, to run through as far as Brisbane, instead of terminating, as it does now, at Port Pirie. There should be no delay in proceeding with the construction of that line. It is said that the construction of the line might be the responsibility of the States. I do not know to what degree negotiations have been pressed with South. Australia for the quick completion of the work. I know that the honorable member for Angas **(Mr. Downer),** who 'is sitting beside me, has frequently advocated it, and I believe that he would still do so. {: .speaker-KCK} ##### Mr Downer: -- Hear, hear ! {: .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH: -- Even if the State were to prove obdurate, I believe that, under placitum (xxxii.) of section 5.1 of the Constitution, the Commonwealth has ample power to proceed. If negotiations with South Australia were to be conducted on a proper basis, and with proper enthusiasm, I do not think any difficulty would occur. May I say, in passing, that I do not mean in any way to criticize the Minister for Shipping and Transport **(Senator McLeay)** in relation to this matter j because, to my certain knowledge, he has done all that lies within his individual capacity to do in regard to it; but I do think that he could have more backing and more authority, and that he should be given the signal to go ahead and have the work done quickly. It would require the construction of only 250 miles of line, and, as I have already stated, not one major structural work will be required, and there is not one natural obstacle of any consequence. To put the matter into perspective, let me remind the House that in the decade from 1880 to 1890. Australia built some 6,000 miles of railway, or 600 miles a year, at a time when our work force waB only a fraction of what it is now, when we had no local steel supply and had to import everything we needed, and when we did not have any earth-moving equipment or the mechanical aids that now make construction work so much more easy. We lose all sense df proportion when we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the supposed difficulty of trying to construct a mere 250 miles of line over easy country. The next point that stands out is the provision of a 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge line from Port Pirie at least into Salisbury, which could be extended another 14 or 15 miles to Adelaide. As there are two 5-ft. 3-in. tracks from Port Pirie to Adelaide, it might be possible to make arrangements with the South Australian railway authorities to narrow one set of lines to stand.,lard gauge. That could be done without interfering to any great extent with the efficient operation of the existing South Australian railway system. As the House knows, the narrowing of a gauge from 5 ft. 3 in. to 4 ft. 8£ in. is very simple, and it can be done almost overnight. In both Great Britain and the United States of America, greater distances of line than the 130 miles in question have been converted over a weekend, to a narrower gauge. There is nothing to it. If these two simple things were done, Adelaide and Kalgoorlie would be linked in with the main 4-ft. 8^-in. system " which, as honorable members know, already goes as far north as Brisbane. I do not think we should stop there. I believe we should also be thinking ahead in terms of widening the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge that leads from Kalgoorlie to Perth and Fremantle. I am. a little exercised at the lack of survey information in regard to this section, because, with the development of the Kwinana refinery and the great projects that are under construction south of the river at Fremantle, it may be neces°ary to change a little the line that was projected in the Clapp report about ten years ago. It might be necessary to go a little further to the south. At all events, we should be pushing forward now with our surveys, and with getting our plans fully into gear for the construction of this line. Finally, there remains the question of the line from Albury or, rather, from Wodonga, where the 4-ft. 8^-in. line now terminates, into Melbourne. I regard this section as being of great strategic and economic importance, because of the heavy traffic that it is called upon to carry. The conversion of this section would give an immediate return in terms of pure money, and in terms of strategic importance. If all these things were done, all the capital cities of Australia would be linked in with the 4-ft. 8^-in. system. Furthermore, the condition of things in both South Australia and "Victoria would be such that the conversion of the whole of their systems to standard gauge could proceed piecemeal without any dislocation, because once the standard gauge was driven into both systems, the narrowing of the broad gauge could take place as opportunity permitted. It could be done without dislocation of traffic, and without imposing on the carriage sheds the burden that they would have to bear if quick conversion were called for all at once. It is, therefore, the most economic way of approaching the problem of the full standardization of the railway gauges in both Victoria and South Australia, and at the same time giving us those vital trunk links between all the Australian capitals. I have pointed out that the resources are available to us. I believe that the Government is not fully aware of its own powers .in this matter and I believe that the members of the Government might well think more constructively. They should not be intimidated by projects which are made to seem big on. departmental paper, but which are really small in comparison with our capabilities - very small by comparison with the difficulties with which our fathers and grandfathers were confronted 60 and 70 years ago. {: #subdebate-20-0-s11 .speaker-JSW} ##### Mr BRYSON:
Wills .- This is the first opportunity I have had of expressing my reasons for now occupying one of the corner benches. I regret the necessity for doing it in a debate of this nature, but seeing that many things have been said, many accusations have been thrown about, and many completely unfounded statements have been made, I feel that, in justice to myself and in fairness to my electors, I should state ray case. I intend to state it without any unnecessary heat, without vilification, and without attempting to throw mud in any direction. I stand here as a member of the Australian Labour party; "AntiCommunist" is added to the title for the sake of identification, and we are antiCommunists. I make no apology for that, because I believe that communism is one of the greatest threats to our democratic way of life in Australia, and that we have to be alive and awake at all times to the threat of communism. But because I am disagreeing with people who sit on the Opposition side, I shall not call them Communists. Most of them have been friends of mine for a good many years, but I am in disagreement with them at the present time. I venture to suggest - and I am perfectly satisfied - that if those honorable members had to face the proposition which I had to face, the majority of them would be supporting me in the House to-night, because this is a very serious matter so far as the split in the Labour party and its constitution and rules are concerned. I challenge any one in the Labour party, or outside it, to produce any evidence that I have broken any rule or any portion of the constitution of the Australian Labour party. In order to prove that, I shall cite two or three things. This is what appears on page 3 - the constitution, platform and rules of the Australian Labour party, State of Victoria - {: .page-start } page 1186 {:#debate-21} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-21-0} #### CONSTITUTION OF AUSTRALIAN LABOUR PARTY STATE OF VICTORIA MEMBERSHIP. {: type="A" start="I"} 0. Membership shall consist of - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. Affiliated Unions. 1. Persons enrolled as members of the organization, who pledge themselves to uphold the Constitution. Platform, and Pledges of the organization. I stress the wording of the rule "who pledge themselves to uphold the constitution, platform and pledges of the organization ". As a member of the party, I am issued with a member's ticket once a year. I propose to read the pledge which I am called upon to sign, **Mr. Bryson.** and which every other member of the Australian Labour party, Victorian Branch, is called upon to sign. It reads - I hereby pledge myself to the Australian Labour Party (Victoria), to faithfully uphold to the best of my ability its Constitution and Platforms, and to work and vote for the selected Labour Candidates. I am not a member of any other organization which pledges its members to support candidates for public office. That is the pledge which every member of the party in Victoria is called upon to sign once a year when his ticket is issued. I, along with my colleagues in the corner, have signed that pledge and we have kept that pledge. I ask every Other member of the Victorian branch of the party to examine his conscience and give the answer as to whether he has kept that pledge. I shall proceed to show that I have kept this pledge. There has been trouble. The federal executive of the party invaded Victoria and conducted some form of investigation, and charges of a general nature were made. I have been unable to find that specific charges were laid against any individual in the party in Victoria, or that specific charges were laid against any particular group of individuals in the party in Victoria. I am still waiting to hear of any real evidence that was produced against the members of the central executive of the party, the properly elected delegates to the federal conference of the party, or to members of industrial groups in the party. I say this particularly, so far as the executive was concerned, that charges of a general nature were made. The members of the central executive were allowed to listen to the evidence that was being put up against them, but they were not permitted to speak in their own defence. That is worse than a Moscow trial, because even in a Moscow trial the defendant is allowed to stand up and make a confession. In this particular instance, the people who have been found guilty of some unspecified charges and have been dealt with by a section of the federal executive of the party, were not given an opportunity to speak in their own defence. {: #subdebate-21-0-s0 .speaker-JSW} ##### Mr BRYSON: -- They were denied the right to speak on their own behalf. There was nothing for them to confess. There was no evidence against them that they had to confess. So far as the properly elected delegates to the federal conference of the party were concerned, they were elected, not at the 1954 conference, but at tho 1953 conference. No charges were laid against them before the federal executive, and I defy any member of this 1 side of the House to produce a charge made against any one of the six delegates co the federal conference, but the federal executive decided to sack thora. There lias been no public reason given but we know- {: .speaker-KZX} ##### Mr GEORGE Lawson: -- The honorable member knows the reason. {: .speaker-JSW} ##### Mr BRYSON: -- I know it very well. The reason why this action was taken was because a small group of people had decided that the Labour party had been a democratic organization long enough, and that they would change it to a dictatorship. A small group of men is dictating the policy of the Australian Labour party to-day. That cannot be denied, because it is a fact. "We have heard a lot of comment, particularly by members ;>f the Australian Labour party, on how dangerous these groups have been, and how subversive they have been - particularly by members of the federal executive, by the right honorable member for Barton **(Dr. Evatt),** and by other individuals - and to the effect that the Australian Labour party groups, controlled by an outside movement allegedly led by one, **Mr. Santamaria,** have infiltrated into the party and obtained control of the central executive. To say that they may have obtained control of the annual conference of the party and that, through their control of the central executive of the party they have controlled the Cain Labour Government in Victoria, is wrong. No charge of that nature could be sustained. It is fantastic to say that the Australian Labour party groups in seven tirade unions in Victoria, whose members are members of the Australian Labour party, who were working to wrest control of the unions from the Communists now controlling them, could not only control the annual conference, but could also control the central executive and dicta if the policy of the Victorian Government. I propose to tell the House something about the industrial groups. A constitution was laid down and agreed upon at a conference about the year 1946, and it is still in operation in the Victorian branch of the party. The constitution of the Australian Labour party groups provides as follows: - >MEMBERSHIP. > >Membership of the Groups shall consist of members of the A.L.P. employed in a particular industry, workplace or a group of workplaces, who shall be financial members of their appropriate Trade Union, and who are loyal to the policy of the A.L.P. in industrial or commercial spheres of their activity. No person shall be accepted as a member who is a member of, or associated with, any other political party. Objects. {: type="a" start="a"} 0. Propagating the Platform and Policy of A.L.P. {: type="1" start="6"} 0. Recruiting members to the A.L.P. 1. The active participation of members in all industrial activities such as shop committees, appointment of shop delegates, union elections, political elections and such other activities a* are approved by the Central Executive Industrial Groups Committee. *id)* Promoting the principles of democratictrade unionism. 2. Educating workers in Socialist Philosophy. (/) Co-operating in all activities considered by the Group to be beneficial to thiworkers. Organisation. {: type="a" start="o"} 0. Central Executive to appoint " industrial groups committee " from among its numbers with power to co-opt subject to approval of Central Executive. I direct attention to the fact that every portion of the rules shows that the groupB are completely under the control of the central executive of the Australian Labour party. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- Under the control of McManus. {: #subdebate-21-0-s1 .speaker-JSW} ##### Mr BRYSON: -- **Mr. McManus** was one of 25 members of the central executive, and he has not sufficient ability to control the other 24 persona on it, although he is a brilliant man. The consti- . tution of the Australian Labour party groups also provides- >No group shall be entitled to recognition otto carry on any activity unless and until it has been approved by the Industrial Groups Committee of the Central Executive. A further rule of the constitution under the heading of " Organisation " provides - >Each Industrial Group shall be responsible for supplying its own finance and paying for its own activities and shall, through the Group secretary, submit a monthly statement for audit by the Industrial Groups Committee of the Central Executive. > >Industrial Group meetings shall be conducted according to the rules of the A.L.P. . . . > >The Industrial Groups Committee of the Central Executive shall have full and complete power to control the activities of Groups and may, as it sees fit, and subject only to the direction of the Centra] Executive - " > >Suspend or dissolve any Group. > >Require the Group to do or abstain from doing any act or tiling. > >Remove any officer of the Group. > >Appoint any person to be an officer of the Group. > >Generally take any stop or adopt any measure to maintain full and complete control over any Group. > >A.L.P. Groups desiring to contest ballots in affiliated unions shall first obtain permission of the Industrial Groups Committee of the Central Executive. That shows that the groups are bound hand and foot to the central executive. There is a set of rules by which the groups must abide, and I have quoted from relevant sections of them. I invite honorable members to consider the central executive group committee, which has had complete control over all the activities of the Australian Labour party groups from' the time of their inception to the end of last year. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- It could not stop Clarke from embezzling the funds of. the Melbourne branch of theWaterside Workers Federation. {: .speaker-JSW} ##### Mr BRYSON: -- The honorable member for Hindmarsh should not dig into the mud. There have been weak persons in every walk of life, and in this debate we do not want to dwell on the weakness of one individual. I have endeavoured to avoid digging into the mud. I invite honorable members to consider the persons who control the groups on behalf of the central executive. They are **Mr. John** Cain, leader of the Cain Labour group in Victoria; **Mr. R.** Broadby, secretary of the Australian Council of Trades Unions ; **Mr. Fred** Riley, secretary of the Manufacturing Grocers Union and one of the staunchest unionists and labourites we have seen in Victoria in this century ; **Mr. J.** J. Roberts, treasurer of the party; and **Mr. D.** Lovegrove, secretary of the Groups Committee, who was State secretary of the Australian Labour party in Victoria, and is now holding the position of acting secretary of the new group. He might be a good man and one of the best in the world, but if the Australian Labour party industrial groups are to be condemned - as they have been condemned by honorable members on my right during the past few months - and if the industrial groups have departed from Labour principles or have done anything detrimental to the cause of the Australian Labour party, . 1 remind honorable members that the persons who are primarily responsible for them and who controlled all their activities, were led by **Mr. John** Cain and **Mr. Lovegrove.** If those groups are guilty of any subversive activities, Cain and Lovegrove are equally guilty. What do we find? **Mr. Cain** is leader of the Cain group of the Labour party, which is supported by the persons who condemned the industrial groups. **Mr. Lovegrove** is one of their candidates in the Victorian State election, and is also acting secretary of the new break-away executive. That is what has happened to two of the guilty men. **Mr. Broadby** is a member of the new break-away executive. He is the third guilty man if the industrial groups are guilty of the charges that have been loosely thrown about, but I challenge anybody opposed to the Australian Labour party industrial groups to produce one specific charge, and the evidence to prove it. Who will prove that the groups are subversive? Overall, they were working in only seven unions. They were a loyal section of the industrial movement, and the suggestion of honorable members on my right that **Mr. Santamaria** and his so-called " subversive movement " could infiltrate the Australian Labour party groups to such a degree that they could control the .conference of the Australian Labour party,, control the party executive and thereby control the Victorian State Government is so fantastic that I should not have to refer - to charges of that nature. If it is true, however, that this movement, allegedly led by **Mr. Santamaria,** has infiltrated the Australian Labour party and obtained control, and that it has dictated the policy of the Gain Labour Government in the past two and a half years, it is interesting to look at the policy of that Government which has been put into effect through the acts of Parliament that have been passed by it. I shall mention a few of them in passing. The Victorian State Labour Government passed an act to provide that the quarterly adjustments of the basic wage would operate in the case of all 'Victorian State public servants and all employees under Victorian State awards. Was that measure subversive to the Labour movement? If so, I do not know the aims and objectives of the Labour movement. The employees concerned in Victoria are still obtaining the benefit of the basic wage adjustments, whereas employees working under federal awards are not getting them. Another piece of legislation passed by the Victorian State Labour Government was an amendment of the Shops and Factories Act of Victoria. The effect of that legislation has been to improve the working conditions of employees in shops and factories in Victoria, and they are now much better than they have ever been before. ls that subversion of Labour policy? The Victorian State Labour Government also introduced a measure to provide for longservice leave for all employees in industry in Victoria. They obtain three months long service leave, and that is something that has never happened previously in the history of Victoria. That government also amended the provision for workers' compensation in Victoria, and the Victorian Workers Compensation Act 13 the best in the world. Was that subversive to the aims and objectives of the Australian Labour party? If the accusations that are being thrown about, without any evidence to back them, to the effect that **Mr. Santamaria** and his movement are controlling the Labour party in Victoria and the Victorian Labour Government are true, then I say we are lucky to have people of that sort controlling the Labour movement in Victoria. As a result of having a Labour government for the past two and a half years, better legislation in the interests of the workers has passed through that Parliament than at any other stage of Victorian history. {: .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr Lemmon: -- They were forced out of office. {: .speaker-JSW} ##### Mr BRYSON: -- Yes. They were forced out of office because of the weakness of the leader, **Mr. John** Cain. John Cain, as Premier of Victoria, did not have to run after anybody, but he ran after me, on a number of occasions, and he made many direct appeals, not only to me, but also to other members of the Parliamentary Labour party. On each occasion his story was, " You have to do something about your leader. You have to sack Evatt. Get to work and organize, because Percy Clarey is the man for the job ". He ran after me, not once, but perhaps half a dozen times, and that was the burden of his story on every occasion : '' We cannot carry Evatt. You must get rid of him as leader. Now stick in the party and vote him out ! " He spoke not only to me, but also to other members of the party in Victoria. That is why I am saying how weak he is. Although he firmly believed he had the wrong leader in the federal sphere, he was still prepared to come to heel when a small body of delegates, seven delegates as against five, seized control of the party in Victoria, and those seven delegates on the federal executive are among the guilty men. I know about some of the pressure that was brought to bear on those delegates to act in a certain way. I am not completely blind. I saw some of the things that were going on, and I know that the whole thing was a frame-up. It was a cover-up for the leader of the federal party, and it was part of the plan of a particular individual to secure control of the party throughout Australia. He nearly had control of it once in Victoria, but he lost it. He got a big measure of control over the federal executive, but he is going to lose it. Temporarily, he is supporting the present leader, the right honorable member for Barton, but as 8.0011 as he thinks that the stage is set he will throw him overboard. He is not the only one; there are many others. Another one of the dictators in Victoria is J. V. Stout, president of the new break-away section of the party. He said recently that the Cain Labour Government was not worth a bad "two-bob". He fought through the trades hall for the past five years to smash the State Labour party, because it did not agree with his ideas, the chief reason being that it supported a Country party government when he wanted it to support the Hollway Liberal Government. He thought Hollway was a better Labour man than Cain. He has made that statement on more than one occasion. John Cain has gone over, and to-day he is titular leader of the Cain group in the Labour party. He is taking his instructions all the time from J. V. Stout and a couple of his mates. I do not like having to say these things in public; it hurts me very much to do it. But when I see injustice being done, I have to defend the people who are being unjustly treated. I saw that a decision had to be made between principle and expediency. It would have been easy for me to say, " All right, it is a State split, and I am a federal member. I will go with the federal party and take things easily". That would have been quite a simple and easy decision for me to make, but had I made that decision I would have broken the pledges to the Australian Labour party which I have made every year, and I would have sold out some of my best friends in the Labour party. I could have sat back quietly and watched a large group of really good Labour men being sacrificed to satisfy the personal ambitions of perhaps half a dozen people who want to control the whole party. I was reared on Labour politics. The Australian Labour party has been part of my life ever since, and right through my membership of the party I have always been taught that I must accept the majority decision, ar..-l that I must at all times abide by the constitution, platform, and rules of the party. When I find a small junta. or men who are prepared to tear up the rule book, as they did in Victoria, in order to achieve their ends, I shall be true to the pledges I have taken each year during my membership of the party. *1* shall stick to those pledges. I shall retain my honesty and my principles. 1 firmly believe that after this election fight is over we will see the beginning of the clean-up of the Australian Labour party. The elements in the party which are badly injuring it will be where they belong, and the party will rise stronger and more virile than it has ever been before. I say further that if the men of principle in Victoria had not taken the stand they did take, there would have been a similar split in New South Wales to-day, because the executive stated that when it had dealt with Victoria it would deal with New South Wales. If industrial groups were the trouble, why was Victoria selected to be dealt with, with seven Australian Labour party groups out of 80 or 90 unions, when New South Wales had 50 groups out of about the same number of unions? Why did the executive not tackle first the State which had the most groups which wove doing the greatest amount of work amongst industrial unions. Now that it is being tackled, why has the federal executive crawled down in the manner in which it has crawled down? It has been running for cover for some months because it found it had bitten off more than it could chew. The position was particularly bad in this respect: the federal conference was postponed to prevent any appeal by the Victorian executive and, when a federal conference waa eventually called, the federal executive of the party usurped the power of the conference and told the delegates from the various States, "We shall decide who shall constitute the conference, and we shall appoint six bogus delegates from Victoria ", three of whom were accusers of the Victorian central executive. The federal executive said, " We will put them in the federal conference and set them up as judges ". Although those men were the accusers, who gave evidence against the Victorian executive, the federal executive said, '"We shall appoint them as accredited delegates to the conference ". In addition to accusing the Victorian executive, they were empowered to sit in judgment on that executive at the conference. They definitely usurped the powers of the federal conference, which is the supreme governing body of the organization. This small junta of men said, " We will not allow you to proceed under the rules. We will deny you the right to decide who shall be delegates to this conference ". A bogus conference was held in Hobart, with seventeen of the delegates outside it, because of the action of the federal executive in usurping the powers of the federal conference. I am now charged with being disloyal r.o the party. Where does the disloyalty come in ? Who are the people who have been disloyal - the people who have obeyed the rules and constitution of the party, or the people who have torn up the rule book in order to get their own way? I was prepared to accept the decisions of the federal conference. I believe that all my colleagues in the corner were also prepared to accept the decisions of the federal conference, but it had to be a properly constituted conference, and the decisions had to be fair. We could not back a conference that was stacked, with the accusers sitting also as judges. Had we had a genuine conference, the seven members sitting in the corner to-night would still be sitting in their old seats instead of where they are. The genuine men in the party in Victoria are standing for the same principles and risking their political existence. Saturday will tell the story, and I believe that the Victorian electors will bc true to the men of high principle and will vote for the candidates who have stood loyal to the properly elected and properly constituted State executive of the Australian Labour party. I hope that next Saturday's election will be the beginning of the end of this disruption; that the dictators who are at present in control will see the error of their ways, and realize that they cannot ride rough-shod over the rank and file members of the party; and that we will get back to some form of unity. I hope I have enough time to mention a couple of other matters. First, I want to say a word in regard to war service homes and the administration of the War Service Homes Division. My complaint about the administration of the war ser vice homes scheme relates to the provision of loans. {: #subdebate-21-0-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable member's time has expired. Motion (by **Mr. J.** B. Fraser) negatived - >That the honorable member for Wills **(Mr. Bryson)** be granted an extension of time. {: #subdebate-21-0-s3 .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL:
Mallee .- In the short time at my disposal I intend to rebut some of the statements that have been made during this debate, to deal as briefly as possible with soldier settlement and the dried fruits industry, and then to say a few words about the most popular theme of the debate. In the time that I have I can rebut only about one portion of each speech from the Opposition side. The honorable member for Melbourne **(Mr. Calwell),** who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, quoted an authority to say that there is now in Australia a danger of over-employment. That, statement from the other side of the chamber contrasts sharply with the forecasts that were made by nearly all Labour members some months ago in this House. Members on that side, in fairness to the people of Australia, should be rising in their places to admit that they were wrong in their forecasts. The employment position in Australia to-day is as sound as it has ever been. The honorable member for Macquarie **(Mr. Luchetti)** complained that Parliament does not meet often enough to permit Opposition members to present their case. In view of the absence of the Labour party leader and many of his followers who have been in Victoria taking part in the State election campaign during the past three weeks of the sitting of this Parliament, that complaint from a member of the Opposition cannot be taken seriously. If it is so important for the Labour Opposition to take the opportunity to present its case in this House, why have all those Opposition members not been here during the last three weeks? In this chamber at the present time, apart from the Anti-Communist Labour party, there is not one Victorian member on the Opposition side. That situation shows the importance that the Leader of the Opposition **(Dr. Evatt)** and his followers place upon the election that is to take place in Victoria next Saturday. The honorable member for Macquarie claimed that he was elected to Parliament - the egotism of the man - because he had the esteem of his fellow men! The fact is that he was elected to Parliament because he had the endorsement of the Labour party, and for no other reason. That is why Labour party is fighting Labour party in this chamber. Honorable members opposite know that the goodwill of their fellow men will not put them into Parliament. They are put into Parliament by party endorsement. {: .speaker-KZ9} ##### Mr Riordan: -- How did the honorable member ever come here ? {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- I am here because I am endorsed by the Australian Country party. I am willing to admit it, but men like the member for Macquarie- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- Men like the honorable member for Macquarie say that it is the esteem in which they are held by their fellow men that secures their election to Parliament. There was never a greater fallacy. These things must be rebutted because men cannot be allowed to go on speaking along those lines when there is no truth whatever in their assertions. The member for Leichhardt- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- The honorable member for Leichhardt **(Mr. Bruce)** said that the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** knows that while Labour has its present leader he has to watch his step. That statement is definitely true and I would add to it that while Labour has its present leader the whole of Australia has to watch its step. Make no mistake about that. It is : not only the Prime Minister who has to watch his step. That statement was one of the truest that has been made in this debate. I believe that the people of Australia are "well aware of their danger in having the right honorable member for Barton as Leader of the Opposition. I wish now to rebut, not something that has been said on the Opposition side, but something that has been . said on the Government side. I listened with some interest to the member for Mackellar **(Mr. Wentworth).** That honorable member put forward a great scheme for a railway from Sydney to Perth via Broken Hill. If a direct line from Sydney to Perth is wanted, the link between Hay and Ouyen should be built. A line on that route would run through the fertile Murrumbidgee Valley and the Murray Valley. As more water comes from the Snowy Mountains scheme, those areas will have Australia's greatest, productivity. Instead of going through the arid parts around Broken Hill, let us build this railway from Hay to Ouyen to link up with the Adelaide line already there. This would be the most direct route from Sydney to Perth. No one can deny that statement and I am amazed that the member for Mackellar- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- I am amazed thai the honorable member for Mackellar should put up such a wild-cat scheme as his proposal to build a railway through the arid country around Broken Hill and so miss this highly productive area that will become increasingly productive through intense culture, the availability of more water, and the influx of more settlers. {: .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr Thompson: -- How many miles would it be? {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- The mileage to link existing railways is only short, but I cannot give it exactly on the spur of the moment. When the honorable member for Port Adelaide **(Mr. Thompson)** learns the mileage, he will realize that the scheme that I have put forward should be adopted. I am sure that if the honorable member for Mackellar looks into it with more clarity he will find out that the scheme I mention is the best one. Honorable members will remember perhaps that this morning I asked a question of the Minister for the Interior **(Mr. Kent Hughes)** and that he was, at the time, unable to give me an answer because he wanted to have all the details correct. This was my question - >I visited Bobin Vale in Victoria last Friday and was shown letters addressed to exservicemen from the Soldier Settlement, Commission of Victoria which stated definitely that the Commonwealth basis for the valuation of dried fruit blocks in the area was the 1954 market value, less 15 per cent. Has the Commonwealth made such a decision? What further information can the Minister give about the matter? Here is the answer- >Allotments to ex-servicemen of holdings for fruit-growing under irrigation have been made in *New* South Wales, South Australia and Vie-; toria. The Commonwealth desires that valuations of these holdings should be on a similar equitable basis, independent of the State in which they are situated, subject, of course, to any concessions individual States may make under their own jurisdiction. > >To this end, a conference of officers from the three States and the Commonwealth was held last November to explore a common approach to the valuation of holdings. The Rural Reconstruction Commission in its report stated that to attain financial solvency a settler should have 30 per cent, equity in his property preferably in the form of financial concessions. The conference agreed to test this basis to see whether it would meet the valuation requirements of the War Service Land Settlement Scheme. > >Two sub-committees were proposed, each representative of the Commonwealth and the three States concerned. These were to collect and collate the data on market valuations, income levels and costs of production necessary to test the suggested basis of valuation, lt should be stressed that this basis was purely tentative and no decision was to be made until all the information had been collected and applied. If it were found that in these irriga-tion holdings 30 per cent, equity on market value would be insufficient for revenue stability and to satisfy the basic principles of the War Service Land Settlement Scheme, the Commonwealth and - the States concerned would need to review the approach. > >However, when representatives for the subcommittees were sought, the Victorian Authorities refused to take any further part in the investigations. The sub-committees haVe continued to function with Commonwealth, *N.S.W.* and South Australian representation and most of the information has been collecte'd. The Commonwealth therefore has not reached finality in this matter of valuation of irrigated fruit blocks in any State. The statement to which the Hon. Member has referred is therefore incorrect. > >I might mention that this is the second occasion on which Victoria has stood aloof from discussions between tire Commonwealth and other States on the question of valuation of War Service .Land Settlement holdings. > >On dried fruit blocks as on all W.S.L.S. blocks should the valuations even on . the above basis not prove economic the War Service Land Settlement Scheme agreement contains' provisions for further writing-down up to a period of ten. years. . The- letters that' have been circulated by the Victorian' Soldier Settlement Commission stated that the Australian Go vernment had definitely decided that valuations of blocks should be at 1954 values less 15 per cent. That is not so. The arrangement is only a tentative one. Some assessment of the value that will be written down must be made, and it might be necessary, after investigation - I do not know - to write down the values of these blocks by between 20 per cent, and 50 per cent. Honorable members can rest assured that the Minister for the Interior will co-operate wholeheartedly with the States and will do everything possible to make these blocks available to ex-servicemen on a paying and productive basis. Time passes so quickly that I am not able to discuss the dried fruits industry in detail. However, the House will recall that, oh the last Occasion on which I discussed that industry in this chamber, eight honorable members who followed me in the debate supported me in the claims that I had advanced on behalf of the industry. The following morning the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. McEwen)** wrote to me in the following terms : - 1 felt I should write to you on the subject of the problem of the Dried Fruits Industry at the moment, following your various interviews with me and the explanations and appeals on behalf of the Industry which you have made in the House of Representatives and in addressing the Federal Country Party members. I hope you will let growers know that, the Government is very conscious of the value and importance of their Industry, and that I am anxious to study fully and promptly and sympathetically any proposals put forward in the 'interests of the Industry. To ensure useful study of such proposals, they of course must be reasonable and capable of practical application. On the other hand, as you yourself have reminded me, any scheme for primary industry stabilization which is to be embodied in law has to conform to the legal limiting factors of our Australian constitution1. These are very complex and it would be quite unreasonable to expect any growers' organization to be familiar with them. Therefore, you may tell growers that I will be' glad to fall in with your request to me and make available appropriate experienced officers of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture to guide growers'- representatives on this point, and enable them to compose suggestions to' the Government which ' will avoid being rejected on constitutional grounds. You can be quite sure that the officers 1 would delegate to help would *noi* attempt to influence growers on the kind of proposal they put forward, but merely keep them straight on its 'legal practicality.. However, in addition to that, there is a wealth of experience in the Department of I commerce and Agriculture on the very numerous approaches which have been worked out through the years to aid and stabilize various primary industries, and to the extent that growers would wish to be told of all this experience, .1 will bc glad to see that appropriate officers are available to help. In my wish to see that the Industry gets every opportunity to present a practical case for its own assistance, I think it best that this prior work should be done between the growers' representatives and officials, but done promptly, so I will make my officers available as soon as the growers are ready, and then I assure you that without delay I will devote myself to it. It is impossible to get a better offer than that. At a meeting that I attended at Red Cliffs, in Victoria, so many people wished to participate as to make it impossible for them all to obtain admission to the Soldiers' Memorial Hall. I read to that meeting the letter that I have just read to the House, and the meeting accepted a motion that full advantage of the Minister's offer should be taken. The chairman of the Australian Dried Fruits Association also has agreed to this suggestion. At the present time, the growers are trying to work out an economic and constitutionally sound scheme that will prove satisfactory to the Government. [ am indebted to the management of the *Sunraysia Daily* newspaper, which has made available to me for distribution to honorable members, so that they may understand the value of this industry and see the quality of its product, a quantity of dried fruit. It is packed in what is called a nibble bag, which weighs 3 oz. On "Wednesday, the 25th May last, the Sydney . *Daily Telegraph* newspaper published an advertisement to the effect that 1 lb. of these raisins has as much energy value as 19 eggs, lj lb. of steak and 4 pints of milk. *Honorable members interjecting,* {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! I ask the House to come to order. The honorable member for Mallee **(Mr. Turnbull)** is discussing an industry that is of great importance in certain States. Whether or not honorable members have any respect for him, they should at least have respect for the people who are engaged in the industry. {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- I very much appreciate the interest that you, **Mr.** Speaker, have taken in this matter. I shall hand this 3-oz. bag of raisins to an honorable member, and I am sure that, when he has eaten them, his renewed vigour will be apparent to the House. In Victoria, next Saturday, general elections are to be held. I have seen a great deal of propaganda that the Victorian Labour party is disseminating for its own purposes in the election campaign. In the newspapers it has advertised its slogan : " What Labour promises, Labour will do ". Have honorable members ever thought about Labour's promises ? Let me give the House one or two illustrations of those promises. One of the principal planks of Labour's platform, and one which it has promised to implement, is the socialization of industry, production, distribution and exchange. Labour has promised to nationalize the banking system at the first available opportunity. I do not hold any brief for the trading banks, but I can assure the House that, if Labour nationalizes banking, it will control Australia completely through the Government's bank. The honorable member for Melbourne has said, in effect, " Give me control of Australia's banking and I shall control the whole country". Labour has promised also to repeal the secret ballot legislation at the first available opportunity. Every one is aware of that promise. It appears in *Hansard.* The Australian Labour party has promised to withdraw official recognition of the industrial groups, and is in the process of doing so. In other words, it has disowned the industrial groups, which were its only weapon against communism, and it has suggested no alternative workable means of combating communism. Labour has promised also to acquire land at 1942 values. In fact, it is now acquiring property in New South Wales at those values. These Labour promises will be put into effect throughout Australia an soon as possible. Some one has said that Labour promised to acquire it for soldier settlement, but our soldiers fought against that very principle of acquiring land for much less than it is worth. Labour says that it is trying to help them, but. it will acquire a block at the 19421 value of £7 an acre when the block next door Ls sold on the open market for £25 an acre. Labour tries to make individuals pay for soldier settlement. The whole of Australia has had the benefit of the service rendered by our soldiers and the country should pay for their settlement, yet Labour has promised, in effect, that it will make the unfortunate land-holder pay- >Labour has promised to reintroduce and increase federal land tax. The honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Glyde Cameron)** said in this House, on the 1st October, 1952 - and I quote from page 2458 of *Hansard* of that year - > >Thu only fault the Opposition finds with land tax is that it is not heavy enough. They promise to reintroduce and increase it. > >Labour is promising to crush the man on the land! At page 2464 of the *Hansard* for the same day the honorable member for Darling **(Mr. Clark)** is recorded as saying - > >If the Opposition cannot convince the Government of the necessity for retaining the land tax it will immediately reimpose the tax when it is returned to office. > >This is what we hear from the honorable member who is representing the great primary producing electorate of Darling! Lest there should be any doubt in the minds of honorable members, I shall quote the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne **(Mr. Calwell),** who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. They are recorded at page 2443 of *Ilansard* of the same date - > >The Labour party believes in the land tax mid is opposed to its abolition. > >This Government abolished the amusement tax. If Labour gets back, it will re-introduce it. Indeed, the Cain Labour Government did that in Victoria in respect of admission charges above a few shillings. > >Day after day one hears Labour members speaking of the lot of pensioners and people on low incomes. "Why does Labour drag the last penny from them by way of amusement tax? Surely, it is only right that the working man should have some recreation and amusement? The present Government, in abolishing the amusement tax, gave people an opportunity to participate in these amusements at a lower price. > >Labour's view was that the rich people could pay it anyway. Labour is always saving that it fights for the underprivileged, but in the same breath it advocates taking the last penny from them by way of amusement tax. During the current State election campaign in Victoria, the Labour party is making the claim, " What Labour promises, Labour will do ". It is true that it is promising one of two things that are favorable, but what is the use of offering some one a free trip around the world if you are going to shoot him to-morrow morning' Honorable members may take it from me that if Labour gets back into power its legislation will, metaphorically speaking, annihilate all the goodwill, freedom and private enterprise upon which this country has been built, and upon which it must depend for its future progress and stability. Honorable members opposite have had a great deal to say about communism. The member for Hindmarsh {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- The honorable member for Hindmarsh, who is sitting in the House to-night, has spoken here on many occasions but I have rarely been able to agree with him. Today, he was speaking of the absolute, and said that the Anti-Communist Labour party regarded the members of the Opposition as Communists because they agreed with the Communists in some respect. He said. "We do not absolutely agree with them, but the Anti-Communist Labour party tries to make out that we do ". In th,next breath he accused that party of being supporters of the Government simply because they agreed with it in some respects. That is the kind of logic that one hears from the honorable member for Hindmarsh. It has been said by the member for Lyne **(Mr. Lucock)-** {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! I do not know what has gone wrong to-day. bur honorable members on both sides of the House are consistently refusing to comply with the Standing Orders and address each other as " honorable member ". If this goes on next week I shall have no hesitation in directing honorable members who so offend to discontinue speaking. {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- I agree with the honorable member for Lyne and also with the remark that the honorable member for Melbourne **(Mr. Calwell)** passed about the honorable member for Hindmarsh only yesterday. The honorable member for Hindmarsh said that Labour would not socialize certain thing3, but a Labour member who is not now in this House has said, " Why not socialize the farms ". I do not believe that Labour wants communism, and I have never accused Labour members of being Communists, but I believe that the Communist Party wants Labour. On Monday, the 4th May, 1954, during the last general election campaign, Gibson, a Communist candidate, said over stations 3DB and 3LK at 10.15 p.m., "Vote Communist (1) and Labour (2). If there is no Communist candidate, vote Labour (1)." The very same thing is being said by Communist candidates in the current Victorian State election. I know that we cannot blame the Cain Labour party for the preferences of the Communist party. I do not, for a moment, say that the Cain Labour party has Communist tendencies, but it is plain that the Communists want Cain Labour to be in their power. The reason for the breakingup of the two Labour parties in this House has been Labour's socialization policy. The Communists know that they can hitchhike t6 power along the road of Labour socialism, as they have done in other countries. There is no doubt that the onlooker sees most of the game, and it is obvious that the Labour party has been broken up by its main plank of socialization. Those who have broken away realize that it is the road along which the Communists would like to march to power in this country. My time has almost expired, but I must mention that in my electorate, at Mildura, applications that the Cain Labour Government has held up for six months, and even two years, have been granted in the last week. Large sums have been given for kindergartens, halls and housing ou the very eve of the election. Surely, even Labour would not suggest that to keep people waiting for finance for years, and then grant it at election time, is playing the game. I believe that electors in that part of the country will regard that sort of thing with the contempt that it deserves and cast their votes in a way that will show in no uncertain manner, whatthey think of it. The Australian Country party believes in decentralization.. At any election it is worse than useless to advocate decentralization and then cast a vote for Labour, and assure the centralization of representation. We have heard about the Murray River, so let me conclude by quoting four lines of verse - >The Murray flows silently down to the sea, On its banks all the people have ever been free. > >Don't let it flow through the socialist State. If you vote for Labour, you're seeking that fate. {: #subdebate-21-0-s4 .speaker-KZ9} ##### Mr RIORDAN:
Kennedy . -I do not propose to break into verse or song, nor do I propose to spend any time in replying to the statements made by the honorable member for Mallee **(Mr. Turnbull).** We were all very interested when he brought all his correspondence, two letters, into the chamber and read it to us. There are one or two important matters that I propose to discuss. First, I want to refer to certain incidents that have been occurring ever since the House met after the recess. During the whole of this sessional period, abuse and insults have been hurled at honorable members on this side of the House. We have been subjected to insulting epithets, and have been accused of being Communists or of permitting ourselves to be dragged along at the heels of communism. It is hardly necessary for me to draw the attention of honorable members on this side of the House to the fact that those who have hurled abuse at us are only Johnnycomelatelys in the fight against Communists and communism in this country. There are men on this side of the chamber who were engaged in that fight long before the honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Keon)** was over heard of in politics. I have a personal interest in the fight against communism in this country, because a late uncle of mine was the first sitting member of any parliament in Australia to be defeated by a Communist. I refer to the late Dick Riordan, a man who was well and favorably known to most honorable members. The Communist party had something to do with his demise >u the early age of 52 years. That is the personal angle. But there is also a party angle. Long before the honorable member for Yarra appeared on the political scene of this country, the fight against communism was going on in the trade union movement of Australia. It lias been going on for years. Every Labour party candidate at an election has to sign a pledge that he is not a member of any other political party having aims and objectives contrary to those of the Labour party. I strongly resent the honorable member for Yarra accusing me and those with whom I associate of being Communists or near-Communists, r leave that matter there. This afternoon, the Minister for Supply **(Mr. Beale)** made a speech on the development of' the uranium resources of this country. Since the beginning of this sessional period, I have been endeavouring, by way of questions, to get some information from the Minister about what the Government is doing or intends to do to develop the known uranium fields. The Minister told us that the treatment plant at Rum Jungle would be able to treat producers' ore. But the Mount IsaCloncurry field is 1,000 miles from Rum Jungle. I have read that the Minister will go overseas soon to look at what is being done in relation to atomic power and atomic energy on the other side of the world. Has he been to the Mary Kathleen field, which he mentioned this afternoon? It is true that he has been to Rum Jungle. But what does he know about the uranium fields in Queensland? 1. remind the House that it is in Queensland that the greatest potentialities so far have been revealed. Mineral fields whether they be uranium, gold or copper-fields, are not found by large companies. They are found by the common old prospectors, who are, unfortunately, a dying race in this country. The Mary Kathleen field was not found by a large company. It was found by a party of men, working together. Three young men worked in the field, and two others remained in employment in order to get the money necessary to grub-stake, to use a mining term, the men in the field. It is the prospectors who find new fields. What encouragement are pros pectors getting from this Government to open up new fields?. The Minister said that he had had discussions with the Mount Isa company about the erection of a treatment plant there. I was told about that matter by **Mr. Fisher** himself. We all know about it. But what we want to know,, and what the prospectors want to know, is where their ore will be treated if they take leases in the Mount IsaCloncurry district. The Minister has said that private enterprise will provide the treatment plant. Apparently the Mount-Isa company will build a treatment plant only if a sufficient quantity of ore is offered. That is a reasonable proposition from the viewpoint of a private company, the management of which has a responsibility to the shareholders. But this Government has a responsibility to the people of this country to develop the country's resources. The history of Western Australia and Victoria shows that in those States development followed mining. If we look at what has happened in other parts of the Commonwealth, we see that there, too, development followed the establishment of mining industries. When uranium was discovered at Rum Jungle, it was said that the discovery would give a real lift to the Northern Territory. According to the Brisbane *Courier-Mail,* the population of western Queensland is dwindling. But there are mineral resources there. The Mary Kathleen field is regarded as one of the greatest shows in the Commonwealth. A new mineral has been found in that field. When I was there recently, I saw cores taken from diamond drills which showed that radio-active material was present from grass-root depth to 500 feet down. I met people there who were associated with Australian Oil Exploration Limited, the company that was selling out part of its interest. I saw Professor Tilley from overseas, an officer from the Bureau of Mineral Resources and a South Australian geologist from Radium Hill. I went with them to what they called a " hot spot " - one of the spots found in the work of exploration, which has only just begun. When treating the ore, they found something more than uranium values. The lease was purchased originally because of the uranium values, but it is common knowledge in Cloncurry that 60 per cent, of the material brought up in the diamond drills consists of what are known as rare earths. There are in this country at present representatives of the greatest mineral importing concern in the United States of America. They have come to Australia for the purpose of purchasing rare earths. In this material there is not only 60 per cent, of rare earths, plus uranium values, hut there are also copper values. Is it tinY wonder, as the Minister has told me in a letter, that 51 per cent: of the holdings in this new company that is to work the Mary Kathleen will be owned by the Rio Tinto, an English financial concern which is interested in uranium deposits not only in Canada, but also in South Africa? At present, there are several diamond drill parties engaged in testing the field, but it is also true, as the Minister said, that uranium ores are of different types. The ore which f. saw from the Mary Kathleen was an orthite type. The various types of ore require various types of treatment. The Rio Tinto people propose to spend £6,000,000 on the Mary Kathleen, and the Minister has said, " We are spending £5,500,000 on research "". But what are we spending in the field in development, or in trying to open up the uranium fields, particularly in Queensland? The Rio Tinto people may erect a treatment plant that will treat only certain types of ore. What will happen to the small producer, to whom the Minister has referred, who decides to develop his lease, the ores from which are not the same as those being treated by the Rio Tinto concern at the Mary Kathleen ? {: .speaker-KIH} ##### Mr LUCOCK:
LYNE, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP; NCP from May 1975 -- They will be squeezed nut. M r. RIORDAN. - The honorable member says that they will be squeezed out, and 1 ask the House to consider the history of mining in this country. It is the little man who is squeezed out whenever it is possible to squeeze him out. This Government should assist those small producers if it is concerned about the production of uranium, which is regarded as such an important source of power for the future. But all that the Minister will tell us is that the Government i.going to do everything possible to increase the production of uranium in this country. There is another matter with which I wish to deal. I have not much time left, because I am told that the lord high executioner comes in at 10 o'clock. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order! {: .speaker-KZ9} ##### Mr RIORDAN: -- I wish to refer to an announcement made some weeks ago by the overseas shipowners that they propose to increase shipping freights, to and from this country, by 10 per cent. Not very long ago we were told that this Government was concerned about shipping freights, and that in order to assist coastal and overseas shipowners to reduce their rates there would be a reduction of the stevedoring charge. That charge war reduced from lid. to 6d. The overseas shipowners said that they could not do anything about the matter until September - and that referred to September of last year. But within eight months after the month in which this reduction of stevedoring charges should have taken effect, we are confronted with a 10 per cent, increase of freight rates. An estimate has been made by competent experts that the reduction of the stevedoring charge would have been worth £250,000 to overseas shipowners up to the end of September. One would think, upon hearing that they proposed to increase freight rates to and from Australia by 10 per cent., that the shipowners were in dire financial stress. I have a copy of to-day's Melbourne *Herald,* on page 2 of which the following article appears : - >Freights rise but - > >& O. Gives Bio Bonus > >Neither Australian nor British exporters are likely to cheer to-day's announcement that the big P and O shipping company is to make a handsome handout to its shareholders - from secret reserves. The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company is one of those which last week announced a 10 per cent, increase of freight rates. The newspaper article continues - >To-day stocky 71 -year-old chairman of the £105-million shipping company, **Sir William** Currie, gave exporters 'at both ends of the globe reason for questioning when he revealed that the P and O company was in such a healthy position that it could afford a £.13,700,000 (sterling) gift to its shareholders in the form of a bonus one for one issue. That is £13,000,000 from secret reserves. How long is this country going to be held to ransom by these people? I was going to call them highwaymen, but they are pirates. They cry a poor mouth and want a 10 per cent, increase, but they are making tremendous profits, running as high as £1,000,000 clear, and they ha've just given away £13,700,000 out of secret reserves. What is the Government going to do with its own line of ships? It should use those ships for the purpose of carrying at least non-perishable commodities from this country and bringing other commodities back from overseas. To-day, I asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether the Government proposed to pay a bounty on beef exported. The Government may pay h bounty of ltd. per lb. to cattle producers; but the president of the United Graziers has told us that, at the present prices being paid, producers will lose £13 a head as compared with last year. It is known that there is a market in Britain for chilled beef about two years old, which can be delivered to England in 35 to 4.0 days. Our producers are going to have their profits considerably reduced because the shipowners propose to increase freight rates by 10 per cent. Another aspect of this matter is that the costs of importing motor vehicles will be increased. Transport is vital to this country, and many of our motor vehicles come from Great Britain, and most of them from overseas. The freight on those imported vehicles will also be increased by 10 per cent. This Government has done nothing about the wild inflation that has occurred since 1949, but now when it is asked what it intends to do about this matter the Government says, "Let her go. she will right herself ". The people of this country are concerned about the Government's inaction in this matter. lt is of no use telling the people, " We are going to do this and that ". The announcement of a 10 per cent, freight increase has been made, and the Government should have taken action to see that this new impost was not inflicted on producers, and on those who bring goods into this country, because it will increase the cost of living. Already, the British people are complaining of the action of the shipping companies in imposing this 10 per cent, increase of freight rates. I say, **Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker-** Motion (by **Sir Eric** Harbison) put - >That the question be now put. The House divided. (Mb. Acting Deputy Speaker - Mr. j. McLeay.) AYES: 42 NOES: 22 Majority 20 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the affirmative. Original question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 1199 {:#debate-22} ### SUPPLY (WORKS AND SERVICES BILL (No. 1) 1955-56 {:#subdebate-22-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from the 18th May *(vide* page 848), on motion by **Sir Arthur** Fadden - >That the bill be now read a second time. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 1200 {:#debate-23} ### APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 2) 1954-55. {:#subdebate-23-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from the 18th May *(vide* page 850), on motion by **Sir Arthur** Fadden - >That the bill be now read a second time. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 1200 {:#debate-24} ### APPROPRIATION (WORKS AND SERVICES) BILL (No. 2) 1954-55 {:#subdebate-24-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from the 18th May *(vide* page 850), on motion by **Sir Arthur** Fadden - >That the bill be now read a second time. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 1200 {:#debate-25} ### SUPPLEMENTARY APPROPRIATION BILL 1953-54 {:#subdebate-25-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from the 18th May *(vide* page 852), on motion by **Sir Arthur** Fadden - >That the bill be now read a second time. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 1200 {:#debate-26} ### SUPPLEMENTARY APPROPRIATION (WORKS AND SERVICES) BILL 1953-54 {:#subdebate-26-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from the 18th May *(vide* page 852), on motion by **Sir Arthur** Fadden - >That the bill be now read a second time. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 1200 {:#debate-27} ### COURTS-MARTIAL APPEALS BILL 1955 Bill returned from the Senate with amendments. {: .page-start } page 1200 {:#debate-28} ### ADJOURNMENT Communism - Industrial Groups. Motion (by **Sir Eric** Harrison) proposed - >That the House do now adjourn. {: #debate-28-s0 .speaker-KEJ} ##### Mr KEON:
Yarra .- Just after the dinner adjournment to-day, the honorable member for St. George **(Mr. Lemmon)** made some remarks about what is known as the Miller case. I referred to that case in a personal explanation- {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- I rise to order. There is a standing order of this House that **Mr. Speaker** has enforced on numerous occasions, which prohibits an honorable member from referring to a debate that has already taken place on the same day. The honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Keon)** is now attempting to refer to a debate on the Estimates which has concluded and in accordance with the Standing Orders, I suggest that he is out of order by attempting to so do. {: #debate-28-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER:
Mr. Mcleay -- Order! The honorable member's point is well taken, and I consider that his contention is correct. {: .speaker-KEJ} ##### Mr KEON: -- I desire to refer, not to the debate that has taken place to-day, but to a case that is known as the Miller case. {: .speaker-KGX} ##### Mr Haylen: -- I rise to order. It is quite obvious that the honorable member for Yarra is attempting to evade a decision of the Chair. If the honorable member wishes to discuss any other matter at present, I suggest that he is at liberty to do so, but in again attempting to discuss the matter that he has raised, he is out of order. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order! There is no point of order in the remarks of the honorable member for Parkes **(Mr. Haylen).** {: .speaker-KEJ} ##### Mr KEON: -- I now refer to a telegram that I received a few minutes ago. It reads - >Confirm your statement in House this night re my case at no time conscious of any assistance from Lemmon. > >T. Miller. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- I rise to order, **Mr. Speaker.** A few moments ago I raised this same point of order, and it was upheld hy the Acting Deputy Speaker. The honorable member for Yarra seeks to refer to a debate that took place in this House to-day, and which has already concluded. At the beginning of his speech, he made a statement to the effect that he wished to refer to the remarks made by the honorable member for St. George after the dinner adjournment. He has just read a telegram which clearly refers to a debate which has already taken place. I ask you, **Mr. Speaker,** whether he is in order in doing so? {: #debate-28-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: **-(Hon.** Archie Cameron). - Order ! The honorable member for Yarra cannot refer to debates that have taken place to-day except to correct misrepresentation by way of personal explanation; and he has already done that. {: .speaker-KEJ} ##### Mr KEON: -- I shall not refer again to the telegram or to the debate which took place earlier to-day. I desire to refer to a case which typifies the soft attitude towards communism by certain sections of the honorable members of this House, against which the members of my corner party fight. "We do not say that those honorable members are Communists, but we say that faced with a threat by Communist-controlled unions, when they have a choice of showing courage against Communist threats, they permit the victimization of some unfortunate individuals who are fighting the Communist control of unions. Then, unless some one comes to the rescue of those unfortunate individuals, they suffer victimization. That has happened time and time again. The case to which I have referred is one of the most flagrant of these cases, and the one through which I first came into conflict with the honorable member for St. George. **Mr. A.** T. Miller was a carpenter employed by the Department of Works. He was a strong antiCommunist - what the honorable member for Hindmarsh would describe as a "bosses' stooge" because he did not believe that his union should be controlled by Communists. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Sir ERIC HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944 -- The deputy leader of the honorable member for Hindmarsh said that that honorable member was stupid. {: .speaker-KEJ} ##### Mr KEON: -- That is true. Because Miller opposed the Communist-controlled branch of his union, and wanted to know what had happened to a certain sum of money, the union fined him ?5. When he refused to pay the fine, the union declared that he was unfinancial and declared black the job of Craig and Williamson in Melbourne which was at that time being done by the Department of Works. When that job was declared black they immediately demanded that the department dismiss the said gentleman, and the department, under the control of the honorable member for St. George, did so dismiss the gentleman. There can be no argument about that whatsoever. It is all in the evidence which was eventually submitted to the Arbitration Court after a long succession of cases, and after the honorable member for St. George was forced, as a result of pressure by people in the Labour party in Victoria, and the central executive of the Labour party in Victoria, to stand up to his obligations as a Labourite and a Labour Minister. All this was subsequently disclosed in cases before the Arbitration Court which went on for a year or more, because as soon as one fine was lifted by the Arbitration Court, the union, under " Com " control, used to fine the man another ?5 for going to the Arbitration Court. So it went on time after time. In time, of course, Miller, as he says in his telegram, won as a result of his own determined efforts and the efforts of those who formed the industrial groups to get rid of the " Corns ". He was dismissed from the department which was controlled by the honorable member for St. George. It dismissed him because he refused to pay a fine and stood up to a union which was under Communist domination. The fine was unjustly imposed on him for, as **Mr. Justice** Kelly said in the Arbitration Court, " exercising his rights as a unionist ". Of course, when the victimization was dragged out into the light of day and the honorable member for St. George, and other people, found they could not get away with it, what did they do? They h attempted to load the responsibility on to i former Minister for Labour and National Service. The honorable member's industrial officer was told to communicate with this man and say, "We shall take 10s. a week out of your pay in order to pay this fine, and when it is paid everything in the garden will be lovely, but if you are not willing to let us do this we shall sack you ". That was a shameful act of acquiescence in the first place, by the department controlled by the honorable member for St. George, in this victimization of this gentleman. We protested at that time against that shameful failure to show any backbone. These gentlemen show the backbone of an intestinal tapeworm when faced with Communist-controlled trade unions, and it is that failure that I protest against. There is no doubt abour, it. The former Minister may go through all the Arbitration Court cases he- likes, but the essential facts are that this gentleman was victimized. He was ii good Labourite with a good life-long history in the Labour party. He fought the " Corns " and was fined for doing *Mi.* The department which the honorable member controlled attempted to collect this fine despite the fact that it was illegal and unjust; and because the man said, "1 won't pay it. I am an Australian and won't he victimized in this manner", that department, of which the honorable member for St. George was then in charge, told him that he could not continue in his employment. Eventually, it was forced to re-employ him. But what did it do? It did not replace him in his former position, but =ent him to Port Melbourne, and left him there for six months without any attempt being made-- {: .speaker-F4T} ##### Sir Arthur Fadden: -- Who was the Attorney-General at that time? {: .speaker-KEJ} ##### Mr KEON: -- Of course, the Treasurer **Sir Arthur** Fadden) knows quite well who was Attorney-General at that time. The then Attorney-General was probably away somewhere busily defending the Communists in the same way as he was always busy defending the Communists at that time. The then Attorney-General was the right honorable member for Barton **(Dr. Evatt).** The person who conveyed the threat to **Mr. Miller** was an industrial officer in the department, but because ho objected to conveying those instructions, and resisted pressure to try to make him convey the instructions, and also objected to a letter being taken off the file, he found himself degraded from the position of industrial officer, and now he is employed in an inferior position in some other government office. This typifies the whole of the attitude taken towards certain people who are the objects of victimization by certain Communists. If certain sections of the Labour movement had not been prepared to fight the Communists at the risk of their political careers, the whole of the Labour movement would have come under complete Communist control. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable gentleman's time has expired. {: #debate-28-s3 .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON:
St. George .- The statement made by the honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Keon)** demonstrates clearly that he is extremely careless with the truth. There is hardly an atom of truth in any of the statements that he has made on this matter. {: .speaker-KEJ} ##### Mr Keon: -- What about Miller's telegram ? {: .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON: -- Miller would probably send the honorable member for Yarra anything, because he is at present so much under the honorable member's domination. The facts are that I issued a challenge to the honorable member. He now repeats his smear that this man was dismissed at my direction. As a matter of fact, the letter that he wrote to the Trades Hall about this case was written in September, 194S. The Miller case first caine into prominence on the 17th April, 1947. The fact is that this letter, which was written, some fifteen months afterwards, clearly indicates that, insofar us I was concerned as Minister in charge of the department, when the alleged notice for sacking was supposed to have been given, the man was never sacked, and could not have been sacked at any period after the 14th May, 1947, because at that period the matter had been in the hands of the Arbitration Court. The department could not sack a man for not being a trade unionist, lt had no power to sack him unless he was inefficient. It could not sack him because he was not a trade unionist. {: .speaker-KIF} ##### Mr Hulme: -- The Arbitration Court said that the department had to reinstate him. {: .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON: -- He was a returned serviceman and he was in the employ of this department during the whole period. I first directed it to go before the court on the 1.4th May, 1947. So, this man does not come into it- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable member will refer to the honorable member for Yarra by his correct designation. {: .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON: -- -The honorable member for Yarra did not come into it for fourteen or fifteen months afterwards. That honorable member said that the departmental industrial officer, because of certain disclosures he made in endeavouring to protect this man, was demoted by the department. The honorable member, who has been in the Public Service, knows very well that a Minister cannot demote a permanent public servant. He knows very well that a permanent public servant has rights of appeal to the Public Service Board. Yet, he rises in this Parliament and tries to imply otherwise, in the hope that people who may be listening and who do not understand the circumstances will think that a Minister for Labour demoted this person because the person was supposed to be assisting some one who was fighting communism. I threw a challenge out to him, and I will throw it out to him again. I say that at no time while I was Minister did I ever give a direction for the dismissal of Miller, and that at no time was any direction given about touching that man's pay for the defrayal of a trade union fine, because the Government would have no right to do that, and certainly would not do it in any circumstances, particularly having regard to the fact that the man was a trade unionist who had offered to pay his normal trade union fees, but had refused to pay a fine. When the matter went to court the judge found in the man's favour. {: .speaker-KIF} ##### Mr Hulme: -- Was he dismissed or was he not ? {: .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON: -- No, he was not. {: .speaker-KIF} ##### Mr Hulme: -- Never, at any stage? {: .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON: -- Very early in tinpiece he was stood down. This was before the case ever came on - the Minister for Works **(Mr. Kent Hughes)** who is speaking to the Clerk, has all the papers He may say, " Ha, ha ! ", but he has all the papers, and he need not rely on my statements alone. When this matter was first brought to ministerial level, I gave a direction, which will still be on the file, to refer the case to the court immediately. Under the terms of the National Security Regulations, it was essential that when any position arose which might lead to an industrial disturbance, such action should be taken. That is why it was referred to the court. At jio time was this man dismissed nor was any direction given by me with regard to his dismissal. If the file is laid on the table of the Library, honorable members will be able to see that when the inspector's report on Brophy was received I directed that, if it were possible, the man should not be reduced in status. According to the report of the inspector, he had become mentally distraught, and it was suggested that he should be given a holiday and that his position should be reviewed when he returned to duty. The Minister for the Interior has the file relating to this case and it contains a minute to that effect. I should be glad if he would lay it on the table of the Library. {: #debate-28-s4 .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- The honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Keon)** has made reference to the treatment that has been meted out to a member of an Australian Labour party industrial group named Miller. The honorable member for Yarra, as a group supporter, is the last person who should complain about the unfair treatment of unionists, because, as a leading grouper in Victoria, he was responsible in the Victorian executive of the Labour party for having a resolution carried which was aimed at expelling any member of the Labour party who was prepared to exercise his legitimate right. under the law of the land, to nominate for any position in his union, unless he first had obtained permission of the Australian Labour party industrial groups to do so. This is the method used by the groupers to exclude from union positions decent Labour men whom they were not prepared to allow to continue in their positions. This tiny little clique in the industrial groups met *in camera* and selected candidates whom they decided would be allowed to run for a union job under the name of the Australian Labour party industrial groups. It then issued a directive that if anybody opposed the selected candidate, although that person may have been a loyal member of the party all his life, he would be expelled from the party and lose his position in the union. It would not matter if he had been a union secretary in Victoria for twenty years ; if this small coterie selected somebody else for the position of secretary, and the sitting secretary had the audacity to oppose the selected candidate, in order merely to retain his position, he could be expelled from the Australian Labour party. In South Australia, the industrial group nominated an Australian Labour party industrial group candidate for a position in the Clerks Union who was a vice-president of the Liberal and Country League at the time he was nominated as the groupers' candidate. That has not been denied. The honorable member for Kingston **(Mr. Galvin),** the honorable member for Maribyrnong **(Mr. Drakeford),** the honorable member for Wannon **(Mr. McLeod),** and the honorable member for Batman **(Mr. Bird)** were all present when a former Liberal member of this House, the late **Mr. Rupert** Ryan, said at the Canberra airport one Friday morning that he had been financing the Australian Labour party industrial groups in Victoria. {: .speaker-KEE} ##### Mr Kent Hughes: -- I rise to order, f ask **Mr. Speaker** whether the honorable member is in order in giving hearsay evidence of a statement by an honorable member who has since died, and therefore cannot defend himself. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- On a previous occasion I called attention to my opinion that it is most unfair to import into debate, actions, alleged or otherwise, of any person now deceased, and who is not present to defend himself. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- I agreewith your opinion, **Mr. Speaker-,** but this is not the first time that what I havejust done has happened. Honorable members on both sides of the House havedone the same thing, and it is all very well for the Minister for the Interior suddenly to adopt a puritanical attitude and object, when he himself has done the same thing. {: .speaker-KEE} ##### Mr Kent Hughes: -- I rise to order. Surely the honorable member should be called upon to prove his statement. He has made a general sweeping accusation which is offensive to me unless the honorable member proves it. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable member could be called upon to produce proof of the accusation made against the Minister for the Interior. I think he should either produce his proof or withdraw his charge. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- TheMinister for the Interior, time and again, has referred to the late **Mr. Chifley** and things he is supposed to have done and said, and also to the late Honorable John Curtin. Why should he adopt a puritanical attitude now? {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- There is a deep gulf of difference between the two cases. I have heard repeated references to the late Right Honorable J. B. Chifley, and the late Right Honorable John Curtin in respect of their political activities, which are public property. The point raised by the Minister of the Interior just now was in regard to a certain private statement alleged to have been made by a formerhonorable member for Flinders, now deceased. I corrected another honorable member only the other night and it is my firm opinion that that type of statement should not be produced in debateby anybody. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- You may rest assured, **Mr. Speaker,** that I will not offend again. The honorable member for Yarra talks about fighting communism, and it seems that, so far as the industrial groupers are concerned, the only qualification an Australian Labour party supporter needs is to be an anti-Communist. On that reasoning, the Treasurer **(Sir Arthur Fadden),** the Vice-President of the Executive Council **(Sir Eric Harrison)** and the honorable member for Mackellar **(Mr. Wentworth)** would be worthy Labour supporters according to grouper standards, because the only qualification required by Australian Labour party industrial groupers is to be an antiCommunist. There is no need to be proLabour. It is, therefore, a good thing for Australia and the Labour party that the Australian Labour party industrial groupers have been expelled from the Labour party in Victoria. The honorable member for Yarra had a good deal to say about somebody who wanted to find out about the balance-sheet of the Carpenters Union. Why do not the honorable member and his friends examine the balance-sheet of the Wateraide Workers Federation in Victoria? Have they forgotten that a man named H. Clark, who was appointed as secretary of the Melbourne branch of that union by the industrial groupers, robbed the union of hundreds of pounds? Nothing is said about that. {: .speaker-KEJ} ##### Mr Keon: -- He is in gaol for that. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- That is so, and that fact proves the truth of my statement. In South Australia, instead of fighting Communists as one would expect the so-called anti-Communists to do, the industrial groupers directed most of their activities towards fighting decent Labour men. Otherwise, what excuse could they give for establishing groups in the Australian Railways Union in South Australia when there was not one Communist employed by that union? They established groups also in the Waterside Workers Federation in South Australia in 1951 when there was not a single Communist employed by that union at Port Adelaide. I have said repeatedly that the idea of the groups obviously is not to get rid of communism but only to use communism as a subterfuge for capturing control of the Labour party. They are out to put out of office decent Labourites who for years have faithfully observed the working-class principles which they were elected to follow, and to put in their places people who are nothing more than bosses' stooges and who would turn the unions into " tame cat unions ", doing whatever the bosses asked, and receiving rewards " under the lap " from them for it. It is well known that the industrial groups were financed by the shipping companies " under the lap " in order to secure control of the Waterside Workers Federation. It is well known also that Laurie Short was paid by the employer class of Australia during 1950 to get rid of the Communist party. When Laurie Short got rid of the Communists, what happened? The Communist party was eliminated, but in its place was substituted a control which is so negligent of its duty that, alone among those in the metal trades industry the ironworkers have not received increased margins. This fact is due entirely to the bad leadership of Laurie Short who, instead of hobnobbing with the bosses, should have been at Newcastle, Port Kembla and other places where the members of his union work, doing something for them. It is time that those people who claim to be fighting communism do something to remove the cause of communism. It is time that they ceased to regard anti-communism as the sole qualification of a Labour man and realized that a member of the Australian Labour party must not only be an antiCommunist, but also pro-Labour. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order! The honorable member's time has expired. {: #debate-28-s5 .speaker-KDX} ##### Mr JOSHUA:
Leader of the Anti-Communist Labour party · Ballarat -- The extravagant and colorful language of the honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr.** Clyde Cameron) requires a little explanation. . Who were the people whom he accused of putting " bosses' stooges " as he called them, in the responsible positions in the trade unions? They were none other than the members of the executive committee of the Australian Labour party industrial groups, the existence of which was provided for in the rule book of the Australian Labour party. The president of the executive committee of the. Australian Labour party industrial groups was **Mr. John** Cain. The secretary was **Mr. D.** Lovegrove, who was one of **Mr. Cain's** supporters. These were the people whom the honorable member for Hindmarsh alleged were putting " bosses' stooges " into responsible positions in trade unions. Another such person was **Mr. Fred** Riley, who had been a member of the Australian Labour party for 50 years. He also put " bosses' stooges " into responsible trade union positions, according to the honorable member for Hindmarsh. Another such person was **Mr. Broadby,** the secretary of the Australian Council of Trades Unions. The industrial group organization is provided for in the rule book of the Australian Labour party at page 101 and page 102. That fact is a thorn in the side of the honorable member for Hindmarsh. The relevant sections have been contained in the rule book since 1936. Any one who had a fault to find with that provision had the right to raise the matter at an annual conference of the Australian Labour party which would have the power to cancel such provisions. But honorable members on this side of the chamber knew chat there was nothing wrong with the constitution of the Australian Labour party industrial groups. They knew that the groups were entirely acceptable to true members of the Australian Labour party. But of course, certain honorable members on this side of the chamber were not true members of the Australian Labour party, and they sought to eliminate from the rule book the provision to which I have referred, not by constitutional methods, not by having delegates vote on the subject at a conference, but by unconstitutional methods. If those who have taken that action get away with it, they will take similar action as often as they like. They were unable to alter the rules constitutionally, so they altered them unconstitutionally. They say what they like about other members of the Austraiian Labour party but they object to being called what they undoubtedly are - Communist stooges. {: #debate-28-s6 .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM:
Werriwa .- Reference has been made to what is called the " Miller case ", not in order to vindicate Miller, but in order to implicate the honorable member for St. George **(Mr. Lemmon).** This is a stale matter which occurred eight years ago. One might well doubt the bona fides of the honorable members who have raised the subject so belatedly and in these circumstances, on the eve of an election, which their confederates are contesting in Victoria as rebels and rejects from the Australian Labour party. 0,n his own admission, the honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Keon)** knew of this matter years ago. Why did he not mention it in this House when he first came here? It was in 1941! when this surfeit of people came to this chamber from Victoria. I refer to these " movement " dominated people who have now been exposed and who will wither away at the next federal election. If the honorable member for Yarra did not like to raise this matter in 1949, because the honorable member for St. George was noi then in the House, why did he not raise it when the honorable member for St.. George was returned to this House three days less than a year ago? If the honorable member for Yarra is seeking publicity he need not have waited until th i:evening to speak about the matter. 1 shall not refer further to this subject at present because the Committee of Privileges is inquiring into some other case? in respect of which the honorable member for Yarra sought publicity. If th. honorable member for Yarra wished to salve his conscience, why did not he bring this matter up when he was in the Australian Labour party and was contesting elections beside the honorable member for St. George? He cannot claim that his sense of loyalty prevented him from doing that because his membership of the Australian Labour party never prevented him from attacking the leaders of the party while he was still in it. Nor did it prevent him from attacking the leader of the Labour party in the United Kingdom. The only party leaders whom the honorable member for Yarra has never attacked are the right honorable gentlemen who lead the Liberal party and the Australian Country party. The leader of the Australian Labour party and the leader of the Labour party in the United Kingdom were constantly attacked by the honorable member when he was a member of the Australian Labour party. He did it in order to undermine the Australian Labour party and divide Australian Labour party members in the interest of the people to whom he finds himself more spiritually akin - the honorable members who sit on the Government side of the chamber. If he was certain of his facts when he first came into this house five and a half years ago he could have raised the matter in this chamber forthwith, or at least a year ago, when the honorable member for St. George was returned to this House. He has raised it now in order to suit ulterior purposes connected with the elections in Victoria. The honorable member has made interjections about mentioning this matter outside the House. If there is any substance in the accusations which he has made to-night, with the encouragement of honorable members opposite who have supported the corner group with their usual interjections, let him repeat his statements outside the House. Let him accept the offer of the honorable member for St. George and repeat outside this chamber what he alleges to be the facts relating to this matter which the three Government parties - the Liberal party, the Australian Country party, and this un-Australian group in the comer - have brought up to-night. One of the amazing features of this debate is that the members of the party which has the official and offensive title of the " Australian Labour Party (AntiCommunist)" are now present in this House in larger numbers than on any previous Thursday night. Last Thursday night, the honorable member for Yarra was the only member of the corner group who was in the House. That fact can be checked by examining the *Votes and Proceedings* of the House, which are the official record of its proceedings, or the *Hansard* report, and ascertaining the members whose names appeared in the division list. On the preceding Thursday night the honorable member for Ballarat **(Mr. Joshua)** was the only member of this corner group in the House when the last division for the day was counted. The members of this group come into the House, throw their mud and then clear out of the place. Their record of attendance in this House i? the worst in the whole Parliament. I join with you, **Mr. Speaker,** in expressing distaste for quoting words which were spoken by private members who are now deceased, but I remember quite well that the honorable member for Hoddle **(Mr. Cremean),** who has been absent from the proceedings of the House for eight days of the fifteen days that the House has sat this session, himself made similar references to what the late Bight Honorable James Scullin is alleged to have said on his deathbed. So much for the decencies nf this matter. , Nobody wishes to have people victimized by group-controlled unions or by Communist-controlled unions, for victimization has been perpetrated by both of those groups. Both are totalitarian groups and are un-Australian. They are continental-minded, not Britishminded, bodies. The vast majority of trade unionists are good Australians, with a sense of fair play. It is for that reason that the great bulk of Australian trade unions are turning away from officials of Communist persuasion and also of the Santamaria persuasion. Australians are essentially fair-minded and moderateminded men. When the honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Keon)** speaks about people being "soft" towards the Communists, he, of course, assumes that people who hold his idea of dealing with the Communists have the sole method of dealing with them. He believes sincerely - I do not doubt that - but erroneously, that the method of dealing with communism, which has been advocated for the last five and a half years bv the members of the Liberal and Australian Country party Government, is the proper method. That is, to suppress the Communists and victimize them. In every country of the world in which thai method of dealing with communism ha> been tried, there is now a Communist government in office. Every country *of* Europe which now has a Communist government banned the Communists before World War II., with the single exception of Russia, which banned the Communist:before World War I., and got a Communist government after that war. Th.1proper way to deal with Communists is the British way, the English-speaking way, the way which has been tried in thiUnited Kingdom and the United States. Canada, New Zealand and, thanks to the express will of the people at the 195] referendum, in Australia too. The proper way to deal with communism is to remove the causes of communism, not just to suppress its symptoms. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Sir ERIC HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944 -- I read that in die *Tribune.* {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- The right honorable gentleman has the advantage of me there, f do not read the *Tribune* - neither **Mr. Aneurin** Bevan's version, nor **Mr, Lockwood's** version. My extreme reading in these matters consists of the *NewsWeekly* and the *Bulletin.* I do not have copies of the *Tribune* delivered to the servery of my home by postal officers at Rose Bay or Vaucluse. References have been made here to people who have torn up the rule book of the Australian Labour party. True it is that two rules were suspended for the hist conference in Victoria by the federal executive. The rules which were suspended had been inserted in the Victorian rule book by the group-controlled executive at the conferences which it had controlled in recent years. I shall mention the people who concurred at the federal conference of the Labour party in Hobart. :i couple of months ago, concerning those bodies. If a body is to bear the name of the Australian Labour party, it should comprise nobody who is not a member of the Labour party, and membership should be open to everybody who is a member of that party. The industrial groups picked and chose the members of the Labour party they would have to serve their purposes. Therefore, they oan no longer use the name of the Australian Labour party. I only have to mention the names of persons who are well-known- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable gentleman's time has expired. {: #debate-28-s7 .speaker-JSW} ##### Mr BRYSON:
Wills .- I regret the necessity to have to answer the rather weird and wonderful statements that were made by the honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Whitlam).** He referred to the fact that there are only four members, of a total membership of seven, of our party present in the House to-night, and he attempted to prove that we, as members of this Parliament, are not doing our duty. I admit that some of us have been absent at various times during the past few weeks, and I am prepared to admit frankly the reason for my absence. I have been campaigning in the Victorian elections. The honorable member for Werriwa was so unfair in hiscriticism that he forgot to mention that every Victorian member of his section of the Labour party has been absent this week. I hate to mention this kind of thing and it should not be necessary for me to do so, but when a man attempts to smear- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable gentleman must use the term " honorable member ". {: .speaker-JSW} ##### Mr BRYSON: -- I am sorry, **Mr. Speaker.** The honorable member for Werriwa has attempted to smear us, and I think I should answer his allegations. He also brought into question the rules of the Labour party, and he admitted that two rules of the party had been torn up by the federal executive in dealing with the Victorian branch. He had the effrontery, or perhaps I should say the abysmal ignorance, to say that those rules were put in the rule book at the instance of the Australian Labour party groups which controlled the conference. The most important rule that was torn up by the federal executive was the rule which provided that no person was eligible to attend a conference unless he had been a member of the party for two years in succession. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr Whitlam: -- Unless he was a member of a party branch. {: .speaker-JSW} ##### Mr BRYSON: -- Yes, but that is where the membership comes from. The honorable member would know that, if he knew anything at all about the Labour party. The members of the party join branches. That -rule was inserted in the rule book in Victoria in 1939. Its adoption was moved by one A. A. Calwell, and the motion was seconded by one P. J. Clarey. We first heard of the groups in 1946. That is when they came into operation in Victoria. The honorable member for Werriwa is, apparently, very ignorant of the Labour party, and that leads one to suspect that the accusation, which was made in the House the other day, that at one time he endeavoured to obtain membership of the Liberal party, was well-founded. He certainly does not know much about the rules and constitution of the Labour party. I read the rules which govern the control of the Australian Labour party groups to the House to-night. I read them from the official book of rules, which I have here, and which the honorable member for Werriwa may see if he wishes. He told us of the power of these groups in seven unions which are under the complete and absolute control of a committee of the central executive of the party. I have named the members of that committee of control. If the Australian Labour party groups did wrong, 1! have yet to learn where they did so. The honorable member for Werriwa, along with the honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Clyde Cameron),** mad-.? all sorts of wild accusations. It has been suggested that the groups obtained money here, there and elsewhere. I point out that the rules which I read out tonight provide for a monthly audit by the central executive, and if the Victorian groups obtained money from the employers, as was suggested by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, John Cain, Lovegrove and Broadby, who were members of that controlling committee, would have had full and complete information about the matter. I think, therefore, that the answer to those allegations is that the people who are to-day opposing the industrial groups were controlling tho industrial groups through the whole of that period, and were controlling their finances as well as their policy. We have to get down to facts. I say t,o the honorable member for Werriwa, " Do not throw out wild accusations that you cannot prove. If you can get proof of any malpractice on the part of these Australian Labour party groups, produce that proof and we will believe you. We shall be prepared to sack the groups if there is sufficient evidence ". I say the same thing to the honorable member for Hindmarsh. He objected to an Australian Labour party group working in a union where there were no Communist officials. My own union has had an Australian Labour party group working in it in Victoria since 1946. During the whole of that time there has been, pos sibly, one Communist on the committee of management, but the work of the Australian Labour party groups is ensuring, all the time, that Communists do not obtain control. The Communists sneaked into various offices in certain branches, and even into one office on the federal executive of the union. But the Australian Labour party groups in New South Wales and Victoria have cleaned them out, and while those groups are working in that union they will continue to keep them out. They are working, and working successfully. I point out to the honorable member for Werriwa - he needs to learn it - that one of the first essentials to become a member of an Australian Labour party industrial group is- to be a member of the Australian Labour party. Such a person must sign the pledge to accept the constitution, platform and rules of the party, otherwise he is not accepted as a member. {: .speaker-KGX} ##### Mr Haylen: -- That was not always so. {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- And it is not so now. {: .speaker-JSW} ##### Mr BRYSON: -- It has been so as long as there have been industrial groups in Victoria, and the honorable member for Parkes cannot disprove it. It is all very well to say that there are Liberals in them. The first essential, since the formation of the groups, has been membership of the Australian Labour party. {: .speaker-KGX} ##### Mr Haylen: -- It is not so in New South Wales. {: .speaker-JSW} ##### Mr BRYSON: -- The honorable member for Parkes knows that well. If he were honest with himself, he would admit it here and now. {: .speaker-KGX} ##### Mr Haylen: -- It is not so in NewSouth Wales. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! The honorable member for Wills must address the Chair. I can deal with the honorable member for Parkes later. {: .speaker-JSW} ##### Mr BRYSON: -- The accusations that have been made to-night are part of the smoke-screen that is covering, as I have stated already, the underground activities of a small clique of would-be dictators. We must get back to the first principles of the Labour party. We should forget about throwing mud, and should get back to the principles that are set forth in this rule book to which I have referred. If we get down to those principles, and if we follow them, we shall get somewhere; but if we throw mud and wild accusations at every person we do not like, the position will become worse and worse. I hate having to discuss this sort of stuff. Et should never have been raised. With the application of a little hit of common sense and a little bit of decency, we could solve these problems. Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 11.2 p.m. {: .page-start } page 1210 {:#debate-29} ### ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS *The following answers to questions were circulated: -* {:#subdebate-29-0} #### Television {: #subdebate-29-0-s0 .speaker-KGX} ##### Mr Haylen: n asked the PostmasterGeneral, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is it a fact that, as a preliminary to the allocation of frequency channels for the transmission of television services, a general reallocation is proceeding among the services using them of frequency channels between 40 MC and 300 MC? 1. Is it a fact that the demands both current and prospective for channels for the use of television services in the United States of America are much greater than in Australia? 2. Is it a fact that, despite this .pressure, the Communications Commission of tha United States has acknowledged both the radio developmental work of amateurs and their consistent creditable record of public service by insuring that net amateur frequency allocations within this spectral band have been uninfringed by the demands of other services? 3. If so, will he take action to see that there is no curtailment of the frequency spectra allotted to amateurs in the vicinity of 50 MC and 144 MC even if adjustments necessitate slight displacements of the present amateur reservations from the position now occupied in the spectrum? 4. Will he also give a direction to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the Wireless Branch of the post office that general specifications concerning intermediate frequencies and like matters now being developed for the guidance of television receiver manufacturers should include as a standard item the provision of an appropriate effective high frequency acceptance and low frequency rejection filter in the antenna input circuit to all television receiving sets? {: #subdebate-29-0-s1 .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr Anthony:
CP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Re-arrangement of frequency bands between 30 and 225 MC/S has been found necessary in order to provide channels for television services. 1. Current demands for television channel - in the United States of America are greater than in Australia as some 400 stations already operate in the former country. However, development of all radio services has been hampered by shortage of operating channel* 3 and 4. Present plans provide that the 50-54 MC/S band now allotted for use by Australian amateur stations will be withdrawn as from the 1st January, 1950, and replaced by the band 56-fiO MC/S as from that date. It is proposed that the existing amateur band of 144-148 MC/S should become 14R-150 MC/P as from the 1st July, 1903, when the 132-14" MC/S portion of the spectrins passes to television. 2. With the channels available for television and amateur services in Australia, the need tor the use of high frequency acceptance and low frequency rejection filters is not so important as in the United States of America where, because of the direct frequency relationship, amateur station transmissions on the 3 point 5 7 14 and 28 MC/S bands can cause interference to reception of television services using the 54.-00 MC/S channel. This condition will not exist in Australia because television channels and amateur frequency hands are not harmonically related. {:#subdebate-29-1} #### Flood Damage and Relief {: #subdebate-29-1-s0 .speaker-JZB} ##### Mr Fitzgerald: d asked the Treasurer, *upon notice -* >Will the Government consider making u special grant for the repair of schools damaged by floods and for the replacement of all school requisites, free of cost to parents, to enable children to attend school without any further loss of studies due to the lack of these necessities? {: #subdebate-29-1-s1 .speaker-F4T} ##### Sir Arthur Fadden:
CP -- The matters raised by the honorable member are the responsibilities of the State governments concerned. It will be recalled, however, that the Commonwealth Government is making large contributions towards therelief of hardship and certain forms of damage caused,, by floods. {:#subdebate-29-2} #### Waterfront Employment {: #subdebate-29-2-s0 .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr Duthie:
WILMOT, TASMANIA e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping' and Transport, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What was the percentage increase in waterside workers' wages in Australia between 1949 and 1955? 1. What was the percentage increase in stevedoring and port charges between 194!' and 1955? 2. What were the total profits of Australian shipping companies for each year from 1949-50 to 1953-54, inclusive? 3. What was the percentage increase in freight charges between Tasmania and the mainland ports between 1949 and 1955 {: #subdebate-29-2-s1 .speaker-KWH} ##### Mr Townley:
Minister for Air · DENISON, TASMANIA · LP -- The Minister for Shipping and Transport has furnished the following answers to the honorable member's questions : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Waterside workers' wages between 1949 and 1955 increased from 4s. l1d. to 8s.10d. an hour, representing an increase of 76.6 per cent. 2. (a) It has not been possible to obtain. detailed information in respect of stevedoring charges for 1949 and 1955 in the form desired. It has been ascertained, however, that the average increase in stevedoring costs for nine major Australian ports was78 per cent. between 1949 and 1954. (b) The percentage increase in port charges between 1949 and 1955 are as follows: - {: type="1" start="3"} 0. Information in respect of all Australian shipping companies cannot be obtained as, in cases where the company is a private company, annual accounts in these instances are not required to be published. The published accounts of the five Australian companies which are engaged in the coastal trades show the profits for each year 1949-50 to 1953-54 as follows: - It is desired to point out all five of the companies mentioned have comparatively extensive subsidiary interests other than interstate shipping, particularly is this so in the case of Howard Smith Limited, whose interstate ship ping is operated by Australian Steamships Proprietary Limited, a subsidiary company wholly owned by Howard Smith Limited. {: type="1" start="4"} 0. The percentage increase in freight charges between Tasmania and the. mainland ports between 1949 and 1955 were - Civil Aviation. **Mr. Falkinder** askd the Minister for Civil Aviation, *upon notice -* >As the Hobart main airport of Llanherne is nearing completion, what is the future of the Cambridge aerodrome? > >What buildings will remain at Cambridge, and what buildings may be removed to Llan herne ? > >What control facilities will remain at Cambridge? > >Will aero club Hying continue indefinitely at Cambridge? > >What categories of aircraft will be per m it ted to land at Cambridge once Llanherne is in operation? (i. Will the circuit area of Llanhernerestrict flying at Cambridge? > >Has any examination been made by the Department of Air of the possibility of stationing a permanent Royal Australian Air Force unit at Cambridge in the future; if *vo,* with what result! {: #subdebate-29-2-s2 .speaker-KWH} ##### Mr Townley:
LP y. - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Cambridge aerodrome will be retained for use by light and medium types of aircraft. 1. It is not proposed to transfer any of the existing buildings from Cambridge. 2. The existing control tower will remain at Cambridge. The tower will be equipped with V.H.F. radio apparatus and also a telephone link to the master tower which will be situated on a hill between Llanherne and Cambridge airports. 3. Yes. 4. Generally speaking, light aero club aircraft will operate at Cambridge but the airport will also be used by airline DC3 aircraft when the cross wind conditions at the Bingie runway at Llanherne are unfavorable for that aircraft type. 5. As stated previously, a single master control tower is to be erected on a hill between both airports. On all normal occasions this tower will have a clear view of both Cambridge and Llanherne and will control the activities of each. During special occasions, such as aerial pageants, the Cambridge tower will be manned and will operate under the direction of the master control tower. With this system of unified control no significant restriction of flying at Cambridge is expected. 6. Regular reviews of the disposition of the Royal Australian Air Force are undertaken, and in the normal course of events, the possibility of establishing a permanent Air Force unit in Tasmania is also considered. The difficulties associated with the establishment of new Air Force units are manifold and in particular, those associated with the formation of a permanent unit in Tasmania are set out briefly below - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. In the current strategic situation, permanent location of a Royal Australian Air Force unit in Tasmania has a low priority. {: type="1" start="6"} 0. Capital and maintenance costs of establishing a unit would be a considerable financial item with little - immediate benefit to Royal Australian Air Force efficiency, 1. Any new units could only be at the expense of existing units both in man-power and finance since there is a ceiling on each. 2. Australia's efforts in support of United Nations objectives in the cold war require the use of permanent force personnel (e.g. Korea,. Malaya and Malta). 3. A Citizen Air Force unit in Tasmania would require a high proportion of Permanent Air Force personnel for instructional and maintenance duties. They could only be provided at the expense of the immediate and important tasks mentioned in *(d)* above. (/) Royal Australian Air Force experience with other Citizen Air Force squadrons has been that volunteers in adequate numbers and trades arn hard to find. Citizen Air Forceestablishments are now 50 per cent under strength. There is no reason to believe that enthusiasm would be higher in Tasmania in view of the comparative Permanent Air Force recruiting rate compared with all other States. I assure the honorable member that this matter has been investigated on many occasions and it is, in the opinion of the officers who have undertaken the investigation, com pletely impracticable to attempt to establish an Air Force unit in Tasmania whether on a permanent or part-time basis.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 May 1955, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1955/19550526_reps_21_hor6/>.