21st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to direct to the Prime Minister a question which relates to two matters. First, is it proposed to send a delegation from Australia to the forthcoming special meeting of the United Nations at San Francisco, and secondly, has the Government considered any proposals for the amendment of the United Nations Charter and, if it has done so, will it have such proposals discussed, if possible, by the House? If not, I ask whether some steps may be taken to expedite such consideration?
– The matter of the conference to which the right honorable gentleman refers has not yet engaged the attention of the Cabinet.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Defence Production. Having regard to the Government’s proposals to establish a new ammunition filling factory at St. Mary’s, New South Wales, has the right honorable gentleman given any consideration to the future position of private manufacturers and industrialists in the industrial area of St. Mary’s, who have for some years been in possession, as tenants, of premises that were erected there during the last war for munition work?
– This matter ls in the hands of the Minister for National Development, who, I understand, is at the present moment exploring matters associated with the industrial area at St. Mary’s. His department has been in close consultation with the Department of Defence Production with respect to the various facilities that will be associated with the maintenance and expansion of the industrial section to which the honorable member has referred.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether the Government will give consideration to the immediate establishment of an expert authority for the purpose of making a thorough and comprehensive investigation into the living needs of pensioners, with a view to ascertaining what should be a fair rate of pension under prevailing living costs? If such an authority should be established, will the Government give every consideration to its recommendations before fixing the pension rate in the next budget?
– The question of age pensions will, as usual, receive attention when the budget is being prepared.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Social Services about the Mount Wilga rehabilitation centre near Hornsby, New South Wales, for physically handicapped persons, which is conducted by his department. Excellent accommodation is provided for female inpatients, but so far male patients have had to live out. Will it be possible to provide, in the near future, accommodation for males at Mount Wilga ?
– I do not think that it will be possible in the near future to provide accommodation for men at the Mount Wilga Rehabilitation Centre, but plans have been prepared, and £200,000 has been provided for buildings necessary for remedial treatment and accommodation at that centre. The honorable member has been very interested in this problem and if he cares to see me after question time, I will give him the plans so that he can take them up to Mount. Wilga and see what is proposed.
– Is the Treasurer aware that, in recent days, the New Zealand Government has reduced the price of tea by ls. per lb.? If so, does this Government intend taking similar action ? Is the report that’ the Government proposes to lift tea control by the 30th .Tunecorrect ?
– Control of tea, and the price of tea, fall within the jurisdiction of my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs. I will bring the honorable member’s question under his notice.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation say whether a report has yet been received of the inquiry into the regrettable aircraft accident at Narromine a few weeks ago? Can he make a statement on this tragic occurrence?
– The report of the inquiry into the accident has now reached me. It is true that whilst certain airnavigation regulations were undoubtedly breached, there was a certain element of plain bad luck present in this accident. Briefly, two aircraft belonging to the New South Wales Aero Club at Bankstown were on loan to its branch club, the Narromine Aero Club, and on the occasion of the accident, were flying in quite a regular way. One was doing circuits and landings in the vicinity of the aerodrome and the other was returning to the aerodrome from the aerobatic area. A. very competent instructor was in the aircraft that was doing the circuits and landings, but at the time of the accident lie may have been talking to his pupil. The sun was just above the horizon and it is considered that it was shining in the eyes of the pilot of the aircraft that was returning to the aerodrome. When the collision occurred, the instructor in the other plane was, momentarily, perhaps, talking to his pupil and his vigilance was relaxed. These aircraft, of course, came together at a speed of up to 200 miles an hour and it was under circumstances such as this that this very regrettable accident took place.
– Will the Minister for Health make possible under the medical benefits scheme the free supply of imported liver extract for the treatment of that painful affliction commonly known as shingles ? Sufferers from pernicious anaemia are already entitled to receive supplies if the extract. By way of explanation, I assure the Minister that I am raising this question not on behalf of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin), who is suffering from this ailment, but on behalf of the many who have contracted the complaint, which is at present very prevalent in Sydney.
– If the honorable member would be good enough to write to me on this matter I will be glad to have it submitted to the advisory committee and give him a reply later.
– My question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture refers to the new wheat bulkheads being constructed in country districts by arrangement with the State governments and the Australian Wheat Board, with finance arranged by the Commonwealth. Has the right honorable gentleman any information to give the House about the progress of the construction of the bulkheads? Are the costs of construction comparable with the original estimates? Will the bulkheads be finished in time for the coming harvest?
– I cannot answer the question with precision or cite exact figures. Broadly, the position is that a year ago, in order to meet an emergency, the Commonwealth arranged that finance should be made available to the Australian Wheat Board to enable certain emergency storages to be constructed in the various States, one of the understandings being that the storages would be ready either at the time of the last harvest or very shortly afterwards. Bulk storage facilities were to be provided in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia, and some bagging arrangements were to be provided in the other two mainland States. The Victorian Grain Elevator Board, which is the constructing authority in Victoria, and the co-operative bulk handling authority of Western Australia completed their work in time, and within the finance made available to them. But I am sorry to say that the storages in New South Wales were not completed in time, and I do not think they have been completed yet. The cost in that State is already so much in excess of the original estimates that the State authorities have had what I can only da-Tribe as the hide to ask the Commonwealth to make additional money available to them. It is n completely unsatisfactory state of affairs in New South Wales.
– In view of the Go- vernment’s intention to send troops to Malaya, to build a defence plant at St. Mary’s and to perform other Commonwealth works, all of which will mean a drain on Australian man-power, will the Minister for Immigration indicate the action that is being taken by the Government to increape the intake of immigrants, particularly tradesmen and rural workei-3, 30 that the man-power available for private industry and State developmental works will not be reduced beyond the present low level.
– When I am in a position to indicate the immigration plans of the Government for the future, I shall do so.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether, as the result of recent trade missions and negotiations with overseas countries, there is a prospect of some improvement in our export trade during the next few months?
– Reports have been received from participants in recent trade missions overseas that business is increasing as a result of this form of government assistance. The results are not precisely measurable over a few months. Government activity is directed mainly towards the establishment of favorable conditions to facilitate the operations of private exporting firms. We are also negotiating trade agreements directed towards the achievement of that long-term objective. Recently, a trade agreement was concluded with the Government of Western Germany, and a trade agreement between this country and the new Federation of Rhodesia is at present being negotiated.
– In view of the growing impatience of the Australian people with the failure to reduce the price of tea in this country, and having regard to the conflicting rumours about a fall of the price of tea overseas and the effect of such a fall upon the Australian market, a matter about which we cannot elicit any information in this chamber because the responsible Minister is in the Senate, will the Prime Minister have a statement on the matter prepared immediately and submit it to the House for the information of honorable members and the general public?
– I shall be glad to obtain the information from my colleague and make it available.
– My question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture relates to the dried fruits industry. In view of the fact that some time must elapse before a stabilization plan can be evolved, will the Minister seek to relieve the present plight of South Australian and Victorian growers by conferring with State governments, with the object of granting temporary financial accommodation to alleviate growers’ difficulties caused by an unprecedentedly bad season and falling export prices?
– There should be retained in the minds of honorable members, and in the mind of the industry, the clear distinction that exists between proposals to stabilize an industry at the commercial level, and to give relief to persons engaged in the industry on account of adverse seasonal experiences. The latter situation has always been regarded as an appropriate matter for State governments to attend to, and historically, that has been done, although not always to the entire satisfaction of the industry concerned. The present financial position of the dried fruits industry will be discussed between the representatives of the States and the Commonwealth, at the meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council, which will take place in several weeks’ time. The industry itself has addressed to the Commonwealth a request for some stabilization arrangement, and I have said that any proposal will be examined, and examined in good faith. But the details of a proposal which has come from the representatives of the industry discloses a proposition that there should be, for the dried vine fruits industry, really a concurrent and separate series of stabilization plans. One result of this could be that a grower could have a profitable season in respect of his sultanas, and a profitable season in respect of his currants, and yet become entitled to some payment from the Government on account of his raisins. I have said to the growers, even without consulting the Government, that such an arrangement just will not go, as a conception of a stabilization plan, because the interests of the taxpayers must be considered. Since this interview between the representatives of the Australian Dried Fruits Association and myself, the association itself, I understand, is re-examining its proposal for some stabilizing arrangement.
– Will the Minister for Social Services inform the House whether loan money to ex-servicemen who are tenants of houses built under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, to enable them to purchase the houses in which they live comes from war service homes funds or from some other source?
– The money does not come from War Service Homes Division sources, but, in eases where transfers are to take place, the exserviceman concerned will enjoy practically the same conditions as those who have received an advance direct from the War Service Homes Division.
– My question, which is addressed to the Treasurer, is in relation to the special fund of £250,000 which was set up to assist distressed ex-prisoners of war of the Japanese, following the report of the Owen Tribunal. I ask the Treasurer how many payments have been made from that fund, and what is the total of those payments?
– Up u> the 31st May last, 2,392 payments, amounting to a total of £176,527, have been made from the fund. The trustees advise that they receive two or three applications a day, but, of course, not all of those applications succeed. Payments are made at the rate of approximately 30 a month.
– My question, which isdirected to the Minister for Social Services, relates to recent announcements by the Minister indicating that tha Government has granted substantial sums of money to voluntary organizations for thiprovision of homes for aged persons. 1 ask the Minister whether, in the making of these grants, the fundamental conditions and principles inherent in the Aged Persons Homes Act 1954, which require? that, for the benefit to be obtained, the aged people must be housed under norma] domestic conditions, have been departed from, or whether they are to be departed from. If so, to what degree and for what reason are such departures allowed, since the purpose of the act is to ensure thai aged persons shall not be housed under the inherently unsatisfactory conditionsthat prevail in institutional establishments ?
– It is a provision of the Aged Persons Homes Act 1954 that, as far as is practicable, people shall be housed under conditions approaching, a? near as possible, normal domestic life. 1 think the honorable member will realize that, when a married couple first go into a home, say, at the age of 65 years, the’ usually can be accommodated in a singh house, and that as they grow older an<3 their condition changes, it might be necessary to give them rest home accommodation under the supervision of a nurse. Therefore, it is not possible always to establish identical conditions for all el asset of individuals. However, I can assure th honorable member that the provisions of the act are carried out to the maximum possible extent, and that, whenever possible, married couples are kept together. A home is made available whenever it ispracticable, but in those cases in which nursing attention is necessary, some kind of institutional care must be given
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture aware that, under the terms of the Ottawa Agreement, primary producers are not receiving for their products, a fair share of the United Kingdom market, and that, in the United Kingdom, the purchase of the primary products of foreign countries is being advocated? Is it a fact also that the United Kingdom Government uses its powers under the Ottawa Agreement to prevent the importation, duty free, of farm machinery from foreign countries? Does the Minister propose to allow the United Kingdom boycott of Australian goods to develop further, or does he intend to take action to induce the United Kingdom to buy Australian primary products?
– Australian primary producers have free access to the United Kingdom market, sometimes under the terms of the Ottawa Agreement and sometimes irrespective of any terms. There is something in the honorable member’s intimation that Australian primary producers do not enjoy, in the United Kingdom market, the advantage that they were intended to have under the Ottawa Agreement. It has been the desire and the endeavour of this Government to achieve a re-negotiation of the terms of the Ottawa Agreement to bring back to balance the relative positions of the Australian exporter to the United Kingdom and the United Kingdom exported to Australia. One circumstance alone has prevented that and that has been the approval of the Chifley Labour Government of the terms of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which pegged the measure of preference capable of being negotiated between Australia and the United Kingdom. That action has established a situation which is to the enduring disadvantage of the Australian primary producers and which is entirely explainable by the policy of the Labour party when in office.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question about recent criticisms of the Government to the effect that it does not make available to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court sufficient statistical data to enable the court to make awards which have full regard to the general economic situation. Are such criticisms correct? If they are not correct, will the Prime Minister indicate the statistical resources of the Government that are made available to the Arbitration Court?
– The comments that have been made in this connexion are not correct. I think they have arisen from a misunderstanding of the normal practice. In proceedings before the Commonwealth Arbitration Court it is the practice for the parties, or the court itself, to call upon the Government or departments for such statistical and other information as they may require. In practice, in the past, it has been established that these official statistics have been obtained direct from the Commonwealth Statistician or from other appropriate official resources such as the Treasury. Sometimes a party will ask for the material and sometimes the court will ask for it. It is presented in such a form as the court or the parties may require. I emphasize that, at all times, the resources of the Government, whether purely statistical or otherwise, are freely available and are regularly made available to the parties or to the court in these important proceedings.
– In view of the Government’s surrender to the demands of the overseas shipping combine for increased freights, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture advise whether the Government now proposes to subsidize exports in order to protect Australian industries and maintain our overseas1 balances ?
– I do not know whether the honorable member for Grayndler was in the House yesterday, or a fortnight ago, when I explained fully to the House the policy of the Government in regard to overseas shipping freights. If he were he would know the attitude of the Government.
– I desire to ask the Minister for External Affairs whether it is correct that an international wool textile research conference has been convened to be held in Australia this year. If this is correct, will the Minister inform the House of the nature of the conference and its purposes?
– It is true that an international wool textile research conference will be held in Australia from the 22nd August to the 9th September. It promises to be a most important conference. It will be attended by adequate representation from overseas. Strong scientific delegations will come from the United Kingdom, the United States, France, West Germany, Norway, Sweden, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Japan. A total of 50 distinguished scientists will be present from those.countries, and about 50 Australian scientists, representing related branches of science, will attend. Amongst the British delegates there will be three Fellows of the Royal Society and, I think, two Nobel Prize, winners. The conferences will be held probably in Sydney, Melbourne and Geelong. The purpose of the conferences will be to discuss, with the knowledge that the Australian and overseas scientists have, all matters connected with the techniques of the wool textile industry and, in particular, all recent developments. ‘ It is believed, from the Australian point of view, that it is essential that every effort should be made to promote the further use of wool in the world, which affects, of course, not only the growing of wool, but also the processes that are involved in the manufacture of woollen textiles and their purchase by the public. Only a very small fraction of the sum that is spent by the synthetic fibre manufacturers is being spent on research into the use of wool in it3 textile form. Approximately SO per cent, of our wool is exported, and about 20 per cent, is processed locally. It is very important for us to ensure that all of the knowledge gained in textile research work generally in Australia is made available to the appropriate scientists in overseas countries and, through them, to the manufacturing interests concerned. As I have stated, these conferences will be very important, and I am glad that the honorable member has thought fit to draw attention to them.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister acting in his historic role of Attorney-General. The question concerns the practice of the companies registry in Canberra, and is of great interest throughout Australia, as many companies seek registration in the Australian Capital Territory. I ask the right honorable gentleman why the registry has recently refused to accept lodgment of registration documents by post, and has insisted on their being lodged in person by local agents. What is the justification for requiring such companies, and their promoters, to employ solicitors in Canberra simply to go along and hand documents over a counter? Isthe purpose of the new practice to subsidize solicitors in the Territory, or to penalize those in the States?
– The honorable member for Werriwa will, I suppose, not be entirely taken aback when I tell him that, having gone back to my old perch only quite recently, I am not familiar with these details. I shall ascertain the answer to his question and shall be very happy to furnish him with it.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question which arises from a reply that he gave me in the House a few weeks ago when he intimated that he would give further consideration to the matter. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he is able to intimate to the House that, before it rises at the end of this sessional period, it will have an opportunity to debate the atomic disarmament proposals and related matters.
– The conference in relation to disarmament proposals is now, theoretically, being held - at least, in. part. There have been some alleged reports of the proceedings. I have discussed with my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, whether at this stage, with the proceedings in their present position, he thinks a useful purpose would be served by making a partial statement on the matter, which must necessarily be quite incomplete. I agree with his view that this is not the time to make such a statement. Later, when the discussions have reached a further stage, at which something may be said, I am sure the right honorable gentleman will be delighted to make a statement to the House and to give the House an opportunity to discuss it.
– I address a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. I understand that in the course of the next two months an important conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations will be held at Brisbane. Will the Minister inform me whether consideration has been given to the representation at that conference, in addition to the great primary producers’ bodies, of faculties of universities that are particularly engaged in and associated with food and agriculture?
– It is correct that the important conference mentioned by the honorable member will be held in Brisbane, I think in August next. I am not familiar with the details of arrangements which would provide an opportunity for Australian interests to attend. However, I shall be glad to make inquiries and to have taken into account the obviously valuable suggestion of the honorable member, and will advise him of the result in due course.
– The question I address to the Prime Minister is supplementary to the question that was asked by the honorable member for Petrie. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that, at a public meeting held on Wednesday of last week by the Victorian branch of the Economic Society of Australia and New Zealand, considerable comment was made on the role and functions of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in the Australian economy, and particularly on the fact that an important member of the court had himself expressed dissatisfaction with the information on which the court was expected to work. He was reported to have stated - lt is a very significant mutter that no means oF co-operation, consultation or co-ordination between the organizations that fix social standards -and deal with economic matters in this community have been provided.
– Order ! What is the honorable member’s question?
– I simply ask the Prime Minister, in view of the answer that he gave to the honorable member for Petrie, whether he will consult with his colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, and also with the members of the court itself, to find out whether or not adequate information is provided to the court on matters that it is asked to determine, which, as the judge said, are important in the economic life of the Australian community.
– I find the question a little mysterious. I was not aware of the meeting of this society, or of what was said by some learned judge. But I can assure the honorable member that both my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, and myself, are at all times available to be asked by the court, or by any member of it, for any information in any form that may be useful to it. There is no prohibition placed on that matter. I should consider it rather singular for any judge to complain that he had not been provided with information when, in the final result, it turned out that he had not asked for it either from the Government or from the departments concerned.
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that a new Dutch air transport company will commence operations in Dutch New Guinea next month? Is it known whether or not this new airline will take over the small air fleet which was operated internally by the Dutch Government and K.L.M. Royal Dutch Airlines? Does the Minister know whether the new company will operate externally as well as internally? If it intends to do so, will an air link be established between Dutch New Guinea and the Australian mainland or the Territory of Papua and New Guinea?
– I have no official knowledge of this movement in Dutch New Guinea. I have heard unofficially that the Dutch Government has put money into the K.L.M. Company for the purpose mentioned by the ‘ honorable member. The company is to run three DC3 aircraft, four or five de Havilland Beavers, and, I think, some helicopters. That would be a domestic arrangement and this airline would have to operate inside Dutch New Guinea. If it anticipated going outside into Australian territory, it could do so only by agreement with us and with our approval.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for External Affairs, is in connexion with the statewide appeal in South Australia by the Lord Mayor of Adelaide and leading citizens, including the local United Nations Association, for aid to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. Will the Minister indicate, in the name of the Government, supportfor this work of the United Nations, and urge the greatest possible response to this most important appeal?
– The honorable gentleman is correct. The fourth appeal for the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund actually opens to-day, not in Adelaide only as the honorable gentleman has said, but in all parts of Australia. It is being conducted by the Australian Association for the United Nations. The purpose of it, I think, should be well known to this House and to the Australian people, who have been outstandingly generous in contributing to this fund in the past. This is the fourth of these appeals, which are to individuals and not to governments. Actually, Australia has a very proud record in this regard because the Australian people, quite apart from the Australian Government, have provided not less than £826,000 in the last three public appeals, which is more than has been provided by any other country in the world. For a country of 9,000,000 people, I think that can be said properly to be a proud record. Since the beginning of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, the Government has provided a very large sum, I think from memory £4,250,000,towards this fund. The fund is made necessary because many hundreds of millions of children in the world are not onlyneedy in the very real sense, but are alsohungry and without proper means of resisting disease. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund has done wonderful work over the seven or eight years it has been in existence. If has helped tens, if not hundreds, of millions of children by giving them inoculation against disease, and by providing milk for those who lack it and, at least, rudimentary health arrangements. I am glad that the honorable gentleman has raised this question on this particular day, which is the beginning of the public appeal. This is the tenth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund and I hope that the Australian people will respond in the very generous way in which they have responded in the past, and even possibly a little more so, toward this very necessary fund. In conclusion, I should like to say a word of commendation of the Australian Association for the United Nations, which is organizing this appeal. The Australian Government has advanced an amount of £10,000 towards the association in respect of it? organizational arrangements.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister to explain the nature of the Government’s counter-attack against the overseas shipping interests, which are threatening the Australian economy by attempting to increase freight rates between this country and the United Kingdom. Will the Government consider, as one possible long-term answer to this threat, fitting with refrigerating equipment the majority, if not all, of the thirteen government-owned River class ships of 10,000 tons, and placing them in service on the Australia-England run in actual competition with the present monopolistic overseas shipping set-up?
– This matter was debated yesterday, I understand, and I do not propose, therefore, to add to what was 3aid about it by my colleagues, except to make one remark, which is that I am rather astonished at the naivete of people who think they can solve the overseas shipping problem by subtracting from the Australian coastal trade a great proportion of its fleet. To attempt to solve one problem by creating another very acute problem does not seem to me to he entirely sensible.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Forty-fourth annual report of the PostmasterGeneral for the year ended the 30th June, 1054.
Ordered to be printed.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement
Crimes Bill 195;”). Wine Research Bill 1055.
– by leave - During the last war it was found necessary to construct two largescale filling factories additional to the parent filling factory, which had been progressively developed from the post-war period at Maribyrnong, Victoria. The new factories were built at Salisbury, in South Australia, and at St. Mary’s, New South Wales. Both these factories were built, of course, when the regulations under the National Security Act were in full force and controls obtained in respect of all materials, labour and other resources. In respect of the Salisbury factory it was possible not only to mobilize materials, but also the services of architects and builders. When the St. Mary’s factory was built a special war-time authority, the Allied Works Council, had been established. In the post-war period many war-time assets, particularly Government munitions factories, were made available to industry or converted for other purposes. The filling factory at Maribyrnong was retained as such, and its output has been used in recent years in meeting the peace-time needs of the Services. The factory at Salisbury was, in the main, made available to the longrange weapons organization. One section concerned with explosives production, namely, the Acid- T.N.T.- Tetryl group, was retained. The factory at St. Mary’s, with the exception of the pyrotechnic section, and of course the magazines, was made available to commercial industry as part of a general rehabilitation programme in the immediate post-war years.
The services have now stated their ammunition requirements based on a possible war commitment in the Far East. These have been analysed by my department. Quite clearly there is a serious deficiency in ammunition filling and assembling capacity, both in relation to existing capacity for high explosives and propellant production and, of course, even more so in relation to the stated war requirements of the services. Ammunition filling and assembly comprises the filling of empty components such as shells, mines, bombs, grenades, detonators, fuzes and cartridges, with high explosives, propellants and pyrotechnic compositions and assembling of the filled components into the store packed ready for delivery to the services. The Government has therefore decided to repair this deficiency in capacity in the shortest practicable time. The time factor is a critical consideration, and has not only given emphasis to the need, but has also influenced the Government in deciding the type of contract and the organizational arrangements to be followed in obtaining a factory by the stated target date of December, 1957.
Having taken a decision in principle that the new factory should be erected, the question of site was considered. Generally, a location in New South Wales was favoured. Firstly, a filling factory already existed in Victoria. Moreover, the major potential sources of supply of empty components - the cartridges, shells and bombs, &c. - are in the SydneyNewcastlePort Kembla areas, lt could be expected that some two-thirds at least of the necessary components would be produced in these localities. The production of steel, from which practically all these components are made, is centred at Newcastle and Port Kembla. Other criteria, such as a suitable transport system, an adequate work force, sufficient supplies of water, heat, light and power, are all important factors. Accordingly, a working party comprising representatives of the Department of Defence Production, the Department of Works, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Labour and National Service, examined likely sites in New South Wales, having regard to all the abovementioned essential requirements. The unanimous view was that the factory should be built somewhere in the St. Mary’s area. The decision is the more appropriate when it is appreciated that the Government in fact owns a considerable area of land - approximately 2,000 acres - north of the war-time St. Mary’s factory, and that the pyrotechnic section and the magazine area of the former factory, which, of course, were not alienated to industry, but are essential features of the new factory, can be integrated into the proposed new production unit. Accordingly, the St. Mary’s site, located at approximately one and a half miles north of the St. Mary’s township in the County of Cumberland, and approximately 30 miles west of Sydney, was selected. The necessary services and facilities are substantially available and can be augmented without great difficulty to meet the needs not only of the new factory but also of the existing industrial estate. It was necessary to purchase a limited acreage of land contiguous to the government-owned property on which the factory is to be built, mainly in order to maintain the safety distances which are authoritatively laid down both in the United Kingdom and in Australia, and which govern the relation of explosives process buildings one to the other.
In view of the pressing urgency to proceed with the construction of the factory the Government then gave consideration as to whether the Department of
Works, which already has a full workload imposed on it, should be asked to undertake this extra responsibility. Clearly, if war obtained it would be possible to do something similar to what was done in the last war, i.e., to mobilize direct resources and to establish some construction authority with considerable war-time powers such as were held by the Allied Works Council. In the present circumstances this is not practicable. The Government, therefore, determined to place the responsibility of supervision on a firm of commercial experts which would be responsible also for preparing the preliminary estimate of cost and for developing a scheme which would make the construction of the factory within a timelimit a practicable possibility. My department first consulted with member? of various industry advisory committees which have been established to assist in the planning of defence production, and later with engineer consultants who were familiar with the type of work involved in the construction of a modern ammunition-filling factory, and subsequently, after further consideration of the problem, recommended that Messrs. Stephenson and Turner, architects, with a strong organization both in Sydney and Melbourne, should be chosen for the task. This recommendation was accepted by the Government, and on the 10th January, 1955, the firm was authorized to prepare the preliminary plans and estimates of cost, and to submit a scheme covering the construction of the factory. The firm of Stephenson and Turner worked in close collaboration with the explosives production team which was set up by my department, and had access to a number of comprehensive reports and statements which had been obtained by my department, in anticipation, in respect of explosives-filling projects in various overseas countries. In essence, the recommendations and essential opinions of the company are as follows: That it is possible to build the factory by December, 1957; that for this purpose a prime contractor should be selected on a fixed-fee basis for which tenders should be invited; that the construction costs, labour, materials, plant &c, should be at cost; and that the overall anticipated cost to the Government, exclusive of the architect’s fee, is estimated at £21,950,000.
The firm, however, recommended that before working drawings be made available to the contractor and finalized, a process engineering study be first initiated to ensure the most efficient selection is made of plant, building design, mechanized handling equipment and processes. The results of such a study, added to the information already available to my department, should mean that the factory, when built, will be the most efficient and modern filling factory in the world. It is one which will have full regard to the current developments in automation, a subject which is receiving increasing attention by engineer production planners in the United States of America. It will be designed to have the maximum output with the least possible labour force. The object will be to economize in labour usage; For this purpose the architects propose to engage overseas experts, particularly from the United States, whose lifetime work is devoted to the pre-planning of engineering establishments to achieve the objectives I have already mentioned.
Because of the nature of the proposed contract, i.e., cost plus fixed fee, the architects also proposed the integration with their organization of a number of experts, both overseas and Australian. This would enable them to act as a central control and expediting organization, an arrangement which is common in the United States. In this respect the organization will establish a detailed scheduling programme. To complete the overall master schedule it will ensure an adequate control of materials supply. It will continually report on progress, staffing and bottlenecks, supervise the contractor’s plant procurement arrangements, and report to the department on any sub-contracts proposed by the prime contractor before they are confirmed and concluded by him. It will, to the satisfaction of my department and the Treasury, establish a cost control centre, review and interpret all cost data, supervise the system of allocation of materials to the job, control all time-keeping records and take such other action as will assist in maintaining the necessary delivery and construction schedules. It will work in close collaboration with my department and the special inter-departmental advisory committee which is being created to watch the interests of the Commonwealth. For this overall task the architects will be paid a fixed fee of £1,250,000, which, of course, includes the cost of the engineering study and the central control . function. In the total expenditure there will be a dollar content variously estimated at approximately 500,000 dollars. The total estimated cost of the project is therefore £23,200,000, which, incidentally, includes appropriate sums for contingencies and possible increases in costs of materials and the like during that period.
The Government considers the architects’ proposition eminently sensible and achievable. Accordingly, approval has been given for the scheme to proceed. American experts are due to arrive in Australia to commence the process engineering study on the 6th June. In due course tenders will be invited freely throughout Australia for the prime contractor on the basis, as I have mentioned, of a fixed fee and of construction expenses at cost, subject to the architect’s supervision and augmented central control arrangement. The acceptance of the appropriate tender will, of course, be by the Government, not by the architect. I have great confidence, therefore, that not only will a first-class modern and efficient factory be built in the time limit, but also that the (3-overnment’s interests will be adequately protected. The interdepartmental committee will comprise representatives of my department and the departments of Treasury, Works, the Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral.
I have been asked why it is proposed to build the factory as a comprehensive unit rather than build, say, four separate factories at different locations in the interests of decentralization, and as a means of protection against possible attack. In the first instance, I should point out that there has already been a form of decentralisation in that, unlike the former war-time factory at Salisbury, the proposed factory will not produce explosives. Added capacity for this purposeis being developed elsewhere and in other States. Nevertheless, the factory at St. Mary’s will cover as large an area as did the Salisbury factory. The buildings will be as widely spaced as is practicable. The important ones will be surrounded by moundings protection.
In essence the factory will comprise the following major homogeneous groups, namely: - Pyrotechnic; cap, detonator, initiator and fuze; shell filling; and bomb filling. This does not include the magazine section, bulk stores, administration buildings, engineering services and the like. The pyrotechnic section - No. 1 - is, of course, already located at St. Mary’s. It would be possible to place in different locations the fuze, shell-filling and bomb-filling factories, but both the latter are dependent on supplies from the fuze section. If it were destroyed, the latter two would be useless. Separating them involves a considerable transport problem which is already complicated by the fact that not only have components to be brought together to the factory, but the sections of the factory are, to a great extent, interdependent. One of the great problems of munitions administration in the last war was transport. The Government, therefore, has taken a considered risk in deciding to build the various sections of this filling factory within the one area. To the best of my knowledge, this is the pattern followed in the United Kingdom also.
Incidentally, I should point out that in the event of war it is highly probable that a third filling factory of somewhat similar size might also be necessary. In respect of the various potential sites for additional government munitions factories which might have been considered if the proposed filling factory had been split into various sections, I should point out that other factories will be required to meet capacity deficiencies as we proceed with our defence preparedness plans. The question of decentralization, of adequate protection against bomb attack, and the actual requirements of the various factories in terms of labour force, services, supplies of raw material, transport and so on, will all be taken into consideration when any future decisions are made as to where any additional factories which may be built should be located. I move -
That the following paper be printed : -
St. Mary’s Ammunition Filling Factory-
– Order ! There is no need to second a motion by a Minister. Motion (by Sir Philip McBride) proposed -
That the debate be adjourned.
– As it is intended to propose in the House to-morrow that this subject be discussed on the basis of urgency, I suggest that the paper be printed. Or is it the Government’s intention to try to prevent a debate?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Sir Arthur Fadden) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Superannuation Act 1022- 1054 and for other purposes.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the bill is to effect four amendments of the Superannuation Act 1922-1954. There are two principal alterations contained in the bill. The first of these relates to the provision made by authorities of the Commonwealth for the superannuation of their employees. At the present time, authorities are not required to make any provision for superannuation until pensions actually become payable, when they are required to pay the employer’s share of the pension to the Commonwealth. The Auditor-General, in his. last annual report, has drawn attention to the need for authorities to provide each year for their accrued pension liability to their employees. The amendment of the act will empower the Treasurer to make arrangements with authorities for their payment to the Commonwealth of the liability accruing year by year for the pensions of their employees.
The second amendment relates to the qualification for units of pension of contributors to the Superannuation Fund. Heretofore employees’ contributions have been for the number of units of pension appropriate to the annual salary which they receive. The classifications of the Public Service provide for annual increments from the minimum to the maximum salary of a position. Consequently, there are adjustments to superannuation contributions as an employee moves through his salary range. It is proposed to discontinue these adjustments in contributions.
Employees will then contribute for the units of pension appropriate to the maximum salary of their positions. Although the contributions by employees will thereby be increased, the rate for each unit of pension is related to age, and no greater amount in total will be paid as a result of this alteration.
There will be no increase of pensions resulting from this alteration of administrative methods, except in some instances of an employee dying, or retiring because of ill health, prior to reaching the maximum salary accorded to his position. Any additional cost that might occur in these limited cases will be offset by the reduced costs of administration resulting from the elimination of many adjustments. For positions occupied by juniors, the qualification for contributions will be the maximum salary payable to an employee at the age of twenty years.
The other two amendments of the act gre of a drafting nature, details of which will be explained in the committee.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Haylen) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to marriages of Australian citizens, and marriages of members of the Defence Force, outside Australia.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the bill is to facilitate marriages of Australian citizens and marriages of members of the defence force outside Australia. Legislation to give effect to this idea has been operating since 1892 in the case of the United Kingdom. That legislation, by common consent, is in force in the various countries of the British Commonwealth, but it is not complete or satisfactory from the point of view of Australia. What needs to be done if we are to complete our position is, first, to provide that certain marriage officers, who will be ambassadors, ministers, consuls, or other persons in the diplomatic service, shall have authority to perform the ceremony of marriage for Australians overseas; and secondly, to authorize chaplains in the armed forces to perform ceremonies of marriage for members of the armed forces serving overseas. The effect of the Foreign Marriage Act 1892 - the United Kingdom act to which I have referred - was that a marriage solemnized pursuant to the act would he valid, as if it had been solemnized in the United Kingdom with due observance of all the forms required by the law.
I think the quickest way to inform honorable members of the effect of this bill is to direct attention to the crucial clauses. Some of the clauses are of only minor importance for this purpose. Clause 4 contains a definition of “ overseas country”. The bill is designed to authorize marriages of Australians in overseas countries, according to the requirements of our own laws, and the subsequent registration of those marriages in Australia. An overseas country is defined as meaning a country or place other than a part of the Queen’s dominions. That is what one would expect. Clause 7 states that the Attorney-General may, by writing, appoint as a marriage officer a person appointed to hold or act in any of certain offices, being an office of the Commonwealth, in an overseas country. The clause sets out the following offices: -
Failing all those - any other person qualified under theregulations to be appointed as a marriage officer.
The persons appointed, following the practice adopted under the Foreign Marriages Act of the United Kingdom, will be persons in what I might call the diplomatic field. They will be qualified toperform ceremonies of marriage.
Clause 9 provides that, subject to the measure, a marriage between parties of whom one at least is an Australian citizen may be solemnized in an overseas country by or before a marriage officer. Subsequently, honorable members will see provisions for the formalities of registering the certificates in Australia. So, in future, the proof of a marriage overseas will be available inside Australia, and not, as under the Foreign Marriages Act, only in the United Kingdom. That will be a great facility for Australians. In clause 14 reference is made to marriages by chaplains. Subclause (1.) reads a.3 follows: -
Subject to this Act, a marriage between parties of whom one at least is a member of the Defence Force may be solemnized in an overseas country by a chaplain. [ may say that, as doubts have arisen in recent years about the validity of one or two marriages performed by chaplains, this legislation will take the opportunity to remove any doubts about their validity. When a marriage ceremony is performed by a chaplain, the same procedure will he followed as in the case of a marriage performed by a diplomatic officer, and registration of the marriage will ultimately be effected inside Australia. The provisions relating to certificates and registration will be found in clause 2.2 and surrounding clauses.
The only other thing that I need say - perhaps I should have said it in the beginning - is that the requirement for provisions of this kind arises from a wellestablished principle of what, is called private international law. The effect of it is that a marriage overseas is valid in Australia only if it is valid according to the law of the place in which it is performed. Therefore, if a chaplain performs a. marriage in a foreign country, before it can be valid in Australia it must be in conformity with the law of that country, or we must ourselves pass a law which makes it a valid marriage for our purposes.
The bill is not complicated. It looks a bit long, but, in reality, its provisions are simple. They are well established by long-standing practice. The effect of the whole matter is to add to the facilities of Australians for being married in foreign countries under circumstances which will produce a registration of that marriage, and undisputed validity of that marriage, in their own country. I think that all honorable members will agree that these are desirable objectives. So far as I can judge, the bill is aptly expressed to give effect to them.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Haylen) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 31st May (vide page 1276), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Members of all parties are in agreement with the award proposed by this bill. There has been one dissenting judgment, and that was from the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Roberton). Perhaps I need only point out, as you, Mr. Speaker, would have readily noted from his intonation and accent, that he is an exponent of the Scottish law, which our forebears rejected in favour of the English law when they settled this country.
The bill renders substantial wage justice to one section of the community. The case made for it is not diminished by reason of the fact that judges are the highest paid of all persons for whose income the Commonwealth Parliament is responsible, and also bold office for the longest period. The case which has been made out is irrefutable. As the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) stated in his usual polished and temperate style, the remuneration being paid to the judges of the Commonwealth is lower than that paid to their counterparts in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada.
– And, indeed, in Victoria and New South Wales at the present rime.
– As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who is the Minister acting for the Attorney-General for the time being, remarks, the present remuneration of judges of the High Court and the Commonwealth Arbitration Court is lower than that paid to the judges of the superior courts in New South Wales and Victoria under legislation already passed in those States.
From evidence which has been given recently before the Commonwealth Arbitration Court on behalf of doctors employed by the Repatriation Department, it appears that the highest-paid judges in Australia are receiving no greater remuneration than is the average general medical practitioner. To make another test, Mr. Speaker, the £300 which was paid to justices of the High Court 50 years ago when the court was established bought more than the £6,500 paid to them under this bill will buy. The £4,500 which was paid to them under the Chifley legislation of 1947 would then buy more than they will be able to buy with the £6,500 to be made available to them under this bill. Moreover, there is one counsel of expediency which I urge on my colleagues in relation to this matter. I believe it is true that a judge of the Arbitration Court is more likely to bc generous to those who seek an award if lie himself has been generously treated.
– That is a new one !
– It may be new to die honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), but it is a truism in the law. However, I am not suggesting that the case for increases cannot be exaggerated. The Prime Minis ter made a most persuasive argument but perhaps even he can exaggerate at times. lt is not true, surely, to suggest that any person in Australia has yet refused an appointment to the High Court or the Commonwealth Arbitration Court because of the financial sacrifices that would be involved. It is true that people who have been in practice at the bar in New South Wales, and who have held acting positions on the- Supreme Court Bench, have refused permanent positions because: of the financial sacrifices involved. That has not yet occurred in any of the federal courts, and I should not imagine tha: any one would be loath to accept the position of judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, whatever the emolument.
Furthermore, privileges and perquisites are now attached to -these high offices which were not available to their occupants when the courts were established. Judges of the High Court and the Arbitration Court now receive pensions, and their widows receive pensions. That was not the position when the courts were established. One of the main arguments advanced at that time for the munificent remuneration was that life was uncertain, i. and it was necessary for the occupants of such high offices, not only to maintain a certain style, but also to look after themselves to see that nothing befell them and to provide for their dependants. Judges, and, indeed, the whole community, now enjoy more security than in the past.
– Would a Prime Minister who became a justice of the High Court draw two pensions?
– The honorable member can refer that question to me by asking a solicitor to brief me for my opinion. Cases have arisen, it is true, where new appointees to these courts have experienced genuine difficulty in meeting their commitments for income tax and the like, but purely on the basis of comparative incomes of judges at the time the courts were established, and incomes in other walks of life and in other professions, the bill surely is not only justified, but overdue.
It seems not an inappropriate time to refer to the fact that this Parliament, and, in particular the major party on each side of the House, are fortunate that they are being led by right honorable gentlemen who, before they were elected to this Parliament, were in receipt of much larger incomes than they could ever receive in this Parliament. If the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) had remained at the bar, they would undoubtedly be receiving larger incomes than they are now receiving or could ever expect to receive by remaining in Parliament, no matter how high a position they attained. They would also have accumulated greater capital resources if they had remained outside than they could have accumulated during the 1930’s and 1940’s.
– And have had an easier life?
– That depends on the kind of job one does. A judge has the option; he can be indolent or industrious, as he wishes. I believe that most judges are industrious. It is true that they may lead a more ordered life and a less risky life than a leader of a government or a leader of an opposition. To that degree, they may live longer than an occupant of a position in this House. Since interruptions and interjections have frequently been made about the Leader of the Opposition, it is perhaps not inappropriate to remark that amongst the judicial personages in this country, there is no one whose reputation stands higher in his judicial office. No judgment of his was ever over-ruled while he was a member of the High Court. In fact, whenever parties before the High Court took the cases in which he delivered a judgment to the Privy Council, the Privy Council upheld his decision even though it might have been a minority one or the sole dissentient one. In 1937, Mr. Justice Evatt, as he then was, delivered the sole dissenting judgment in Cowell v. Rosehill Racecourse Co. Ltd. Ten years later the House of Lords, in Winter Garden Theatre (London) Ltd. v. Millenium Productions Ltd., adopted his view of the law.
Probably, I should not have spoken in this debate were it not for the fact that the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke) last evening, in a wanton and malevolent fashion, made many references to me, some of which might be damaging. I had not spoken in this debate, I did not intend to speak, and I had not even interjected. I shall let the honorable member off lightly, because he is a member of the profession to which I belong. Judging by the results of the general elections held in Victoria last Saturday, I should think that the honorable member will soon be able to devote his full time to the practice of it. He referred to the fact that I am a member of the bar and have certain other ties with it. Because the honorable member made those damaging remarks, I shall speak at greater length on the personal aspect of this matter than I otherwise would have done. It is true that I am a member of the New South Wales bar and of the federal bar. For four years before I became a member of this House, I had been elected and reelected a member of the New South Wales Bar Council. Before I enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force, in World War II., I was associate to a justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, who has held royal commissions under United Australia party governments in the Commonwealth sphere and State Labour governments. After my discharge, I was associate to another justice of the same court, who has held a royal commission from a Labour government in the Commonwealth sphere and who at present holds a royal commission from a Liberal and Australian Country party government in the Commonwealth field. I am the son-in-law, as I have frequently been reminded in this place, of a man who, at least after the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), devoted his time principally to politics, was perhaps the best known of Australian advocates,- and who is now a justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. To complete the references, I shall state that my father held leading legal positions under Australian governments of both political complexions, positions that he held, if I may say so, with singular ability and detachment.
The honorable member for Fawkner quoted passages from the issue for the 1st February last of the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, in which were reported certain remarks that I was alleged to have made. I cannot recollect whether the honorable member quoted every portion of my remarks which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, and I cannot check the fact, because, by an extraordinary coincidence, the copy of that issue of the newspaper was extracted from the files of the Parliamentary Library last evening. If it were suggested, as the honorable member in a somewhat unctuous manner stated, that T had been misreported, it would have been an easy matter for him to ask me whether I had been misreported. He might also have realized that, being a member of the bar and a member of the Parliament, I would be jealous of my reputation and would write to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper if I had been misreported. He might also know, if he were familiar with the Sydney Morning Herald, that it is the practice of that newspaper to give the right of reply to persons in public positions. Had the honorable member read an issue of that newspaper later in the same week, he would have seen a letter from a person who attended the particular meeting of the Australian Institute of Political Science that I had addressed. In that tatter the writer, who was a leading radio commentator, referred to my remarks made at the meeting of the institute. On the 5th February last, the Sydney Morning Herald published a letter from me which stated my attitude in the discussion in which I participated and also, in general, on this matter. It reads as follows : -
I regret that I did not make my meaning dear-
To the commentator - . . last Monday when, at the request of the Australian Institute of Political Science. I opened the discussion on a paper entitled Parliamentary Government and Liberty”.
I cited several limitations on Parliamentary Government in Australia, including the many fields which are beyond the scope of any of our Parliaments. I compared unitary government in the United Kingdom and New Zealand with Federal Government in Australia. In the former, members of Parliament are periodically answerable to the electorate alone, m the latter they are superintended by the High Court which holds office for life.
To illustrate a weakness in our system, J referred to the resignations of two Judges soon after the 1049 elections. Only to this extent can I bc said to have “criticised the High Court Bench “.
I have always held and shown the greatest respect for our magistrates and Judges who carry out the judicial functions we have inherited from England. In this country, however, Judges are asked to carry out political functions in constitutional and industrial matters and as Royal Commissioners. It is surely permissible at a political science summer school to discuss the way they carry out these neo- judicial functions.
I see no reason to detract from anything that I stated in that letter. I should have thought that, in common fairness, the honorable member for Fawkner would have pursued his researches at least to the stage at which that letter was published and that he would have informed the House of the result of those researches. On the 6th February, the Sydney SunHerald newspaper thus commented upon my remarks -
To argue that the High Court alone among mortal institutions is impeccable and is immune from criticism would be to do it a disservice.
I should have thought that the honorable member for Fawkner would have read the column by “ Onlooker “ in the SunHerald. Previously, the honorable member had shown himself to be an assiduous reader of that column, and had written to the newspaper to correct remarks that had been made about him in it. More recently, the honorable member was taken to task in this column concerning remarks that he made in this House under privilege about an unnamed newspaper commentator in the Argus newspaper.
Since it might be thought that I was misreported, I shall state merely that I was not fully reported. The Sydney Morning Herald published what might be regarded as the most sensational, and therefore the most newsworthy, portion of a half -hour address that I made. It would not have taken me more than perhaps four or five minutes to utter the remarks that were reported. I complain not so much that I was misreported but that I was not fully reported. However, that is the business of the newspaper. Its reporters can note what they think is the most significant portion of an address and the newspaper may print chat part alone. The remarks that I made at the meeting of the Australian Institute of Political Science were recorded on a tape recorder, and I understand that they will be published, in book form, together with other addresses that were made by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland), who had submitted the paper under discussion on that occasion, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), and other persons who were present at the meeting, including the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) and the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner), who did not at the time criticize, and who have not since criticized, my remarks. It is significant that the honorable member for Fawkner was not at the meeting and that he presumed to criticize parts of my address.
Because my attitude towards members of the judiciary has come into dispute, I shall, read my remarks made to the meeting. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will recall that the paper submitted by the honor.able member for Warringah was entitled “ Parliamentary Government and Liberty “. I was asked to open the discussion upon that paper, and my rema.rks upon this aspect were as follows : -
Mr. Bland believes that the High Court provides some safeguards for our liberties; I doubt it. Thi’ Court is less representative of the Australian people than are their elected parliamentary representatives. Judges are irresponsible in” that they hold office for life, which is sometimes a very long life. Some have used that asset for a political purpose. I recall two flagrant examples where resignations were withheld until there was a change of government. En ry in 1950 one judge retired in the last month of his 80th year and another retired on his 87t.li birthday: and neither was as active or as liberal minded as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Junior.
We are constrained by our present Federal Constitution to leave the final disposition of many matters in the hands of lawyers. We are forbidden to do not so much what the Constitution forbids us to do but what the judges forbid us to do.
If Counsel has to advise if a certain action is constitutional, he is less concerned with the constitution than with the composition of the Court. We thus run the risk that such liberties will be granted as commend themselves to lawyers.
Australians have developed a habit of asking the court!! to invalidate Acts of Parliament whenever they conceive their liberties to be infringed by those Acts. Advocacy has been so successful before the courts in recent years that the courts themselves have developed an attitude of almost supercilious suspicion towards Acts of Parliament and actions of administration. People who have successfully approached the courts in these matters are loud in their praise for the safeguard the court affords. There are, however, hundred: and thousands of persons who have not a sufficient interest to be heard by the court? but who would have received benefits and enhanced liberties from the legislation id question. The courts, in other words, give liberties to those who can establish a sufficient interest and to them alone. In the result the Federal system gives a great initial advantage to any vested interest and to any persons who wish to resist change.
I am not reassured by Mr. Bland’s references to the pharmaceutical benefits and banking legislation. The first pharmaceutical benefits acts were passed in 1044 and 104”). The Banking Act .of 45 required that local govern ments and State governments should bank with the’ Commonwealth Bank. This legislation was enacted before the 1040 elections. The government which enacted it was returned with a substantial majority and the High Court after the elections disallowed the legislation. It is a moot point whether these were infringements of liberty or at least infringements which the people resented. The health schemes of Great Britain or New Zealand are infinitely preferable to any we have in this country but we cannot have them here. In England the scheme has existed for nearly ten years and in New Zealand for about fifteen years, and no government in that time has sought to alter the system, because it is desired by the people. In Australia the people have no opportunity to decide whether they preferred the scheme. The choice was taken from them. Federation does not provide safeguards. It merely precludes us from making advance8 which in fact we may desire.
The subject of the paper of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland)’ was “ Parliamentary Government and Liberty”. I was asked to open the discussion on it. I do’ not suggest that what I said was the final word on this matter. It was simply another aspect of the subject. I referred to parliamentary government in this country, and I compared it with parliamentary government in other countries. I said that there were shortcomings in our system and I suggested reforms of it. Surely it is permissible for anybody, whether a member of this House or of the bar, to comment at a political science school on such subjects in those terms.
A number of honorable members have referred in this debate to the safeguarding of liberty. We should be more realistic -concerning the role of the courts, for whose remuneration this bill provides. There is no need to be as obsequious as the honorable but fawning member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke) in these matters. Our liberties have been granted to a greater extent by Parliament than by the courts. That is not to say that the judges are not just as liberty loving as politicians and that they would not have granted the same liberties had they been in Parliament. But they are not in a position to grant the liberties that Parliament has granted. Parliament is the body which grants liberties and preserves “liberties. It has conferred political liberties on the people who are represented in Parliament - first of all the barons, then the merchants, and now, all adults. The essence of liberty is equality, political and economic and social. Only Parliament can give that. The judges perform their functions impartially, applying the laws that Parliament makes. We do not flatter the judges, nor enhance their prestige or standing in the community, by attributing to them actions for which they were not responsible in the past, and for which they are not responsible now.
It has been said in this debate that some honorable members were critical of the High Court of Australia when it disallowed the bank nationalization legislation, and that others were critical of it when it disallowed the anti-Communist legislation of this Government. “While I favoured the methods of the former legislation and dislike those of the latter, I concede the right to any government, if it is so minded, to nationalize banks or victimize Communists, because a government’s actions can be endorsed or rejected by the electors.
The actions of governments in Australia are subject to review by the judges of the High Court. The Constitution merely requires the judges to review legislation if they are called upon to do so. The judges do not seek the job. The Constitution takes certain matters out of the hands of politicians and out of the hands of the electors and reposes them in the lands of people who hold office for life. Judges are no wiser in politics than are the electors themselves. It is not the fault of the judges but the fault of our Constitution that they are called upon to decide political issues. The time has come when the electors themselves can be trusted, as they are trusted in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, to decide what is good for them and what is not.
It has been suggested that it is improper to criticize the conduct of judges. If the solution of constitutional problems were always obvious the judges would always be unanimous in their decisions. But they are rarely unanimous. If the judges were always correct, their decisions would never be reversed by the Privy Council nor by their own successors. Decisions of judges are freely criticized in legal periodicals and their conduct has been criticized by the Bar Council and by cognate bodies in Australia. We do not enhance the respect for arbitration and we do not secure any greater acceptance of arbitration by calling arbitrators judges. Eather do we tend to invest other judges who perform the traditional functions of the courts with an air of controversy which normally would never surround them.
Honorable members have quoted the Constitution and emphasized the safeguards that the High Court accords. However, it is significant that nowhere does the Constitution limit the number of judges. Nowhere does it define their qualifications. It is the politicians who decide who are to be the judges and how many of them there will be. If we can be trusted with an important function such as that which has been carried out very well by all governments, Federal and State, capitalist and socialist, surely we can be trusted in other matters. The politicians, who appoint the judges, fix their remuneration. The Constitution provides that we cannot lower their remuneration, but we fix it. Surely that i3 a vital power and it is ours alone.
Reference has been made to the recent practice of the Government of conferring knighthoods on judges. I do not imagine that the prestige of judges is enhanced by conferring knighthoods upon them. In Canada, judges are not knighted and they do not enjoy any lower esteem than do
Australian judges. Judges are not knighted in the United States of America, but they are respected as much there as they are respected in Australia. If judges are to be knighted at all, they ought to he knighted immediately they are appointed to the bench. In the United Kingdom, every judge who is appointed to the High Court is immediately knighted.
The position has been reached in Australia that, because knighthoods are conferred upon some judges and not on others, because they are conferred on judges of some courts and not on judges of others, and because they are conferred at various times, it is thought that they are an inducement or a reward. If they are to be allotted at all, they should be allotted automatically as they are in the United Kingdom.
– Does the honorable member object to judges being knighted?
– I do not know whether the honorable member for Angus (Mr. Downer) was in the House when I stated that I saw no virtue in their being knighted. I do not think that in Australia there is any virtue in anybody being knighted, but the suggestion I made was that, if judges are to be knighted, they should be knighted immediately o,n appointment, and automatically ex officio.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The purpose of the bill, as earlier speakers have stated, is to increase the remuneration of the judges. The introduction of the measure has certainly been a grand day for the legal men on both sides of the House. I am not so sure that it is not their ambition or desire to occupy similar positions, or that they are not eager to be treated kindly when appearing before the members of the judiciary. As a layman, I, like the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Roberton), who spoke last night, wish to express what is in my heart and mind on this allimportant issue. The honorable member for Riverina, who spoke in opposition to the measure, and who, incidentally, has been castigated for so doing by other honorable members, took into consideration the conflict between the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and certain remarks of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden). The Prime Minister has stated that we are living in a period in which consideration and effect should be given to emoluments of the kind envisaged in the bill. The Treasurer, on the other hand, has made statements about the possibility of an economic breakdown.
– Order I remember the honorable member for Riverina being rebuked for dealing with the economy, and not with the bill.
– I am simply stating that the honorable member for Riverina, after a speech lasting nearly half an hour, during which he made mention of that fact, was asked to confine himself to the bill. A Government supporter stated, by way of interjection, that the Treasurer had been dealing with something altogether different. It may be that he had been dealing with the reasons why the Government had not taken action to assist people who are in greater need than those who are envisaged in the bill. For the past few days, we have been discussing this bill, and within the. next few days we shall be discussing the Salaries Adjustment Bill and numerous other matters affecting people who are in much higher and better positions than the pensioners, the poorer section of our community who should be given some thought at this particular time.
Opposition members protest against the indifference of the Parliament towards the plight of the poorer section of the community. Other speakers have stated that references very early this year to the proposed increase of emoluments have brought a tremendous number of protests from people outside the Parliament. Announcements of huge increases were made by representatives of the Government, and I feel that it has only been the protest that was made by an officer of this Parliament that has restored some degree of sanity to the minds’ of those who are in charge of such measures as that which is now before the House. We should give him some credit for the action chat he took. He pointed out that it was the responsibility of the Parliament to make the increases.
By directing attention to the provisions of the bill, the Opposition wants to bring home to the House the inequalities that are suffered by various sections of the community. It is proposed that the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia shall receive an increase of £3,000 a year, or almost £60 a week. I know it will be argued that taxation and other deductions will reduce that sum, hut the fact remains that,’ to persons outside the Parliament, it is an increase of £3,000. It is proposed that the following further increases shall be granted : - To a justice of the High Court, £2,000 a year, or £40 a week; to the Chief Justice of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, £2,000 a year; to a judge of the Common.wealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, £],500 a year; to a judge of the Federal Court of Bankruptcy, £1,500 a year; and to the judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, £1,250 a year. We do not underestimate the great work and responsibility of those men. We know that men of the finest calibre are appointed to these positions to determine the laws of the land and issues relating to the Constitution and the democratic institutions of this country. They must be given salaries so that they shall be far removed from any possibility of difficulty, and in order to preserve their independence, which is very important.
This Government has been in office for the past five years. Protests are coming from various branches of the movement to which honorable members on this side of the House belong about the salaries of the higher officers, and about the fact that nothing is being done for the people who are impoverished. We are not opposing the measure, but we are asking, in the interests of common humanity, that something be done for those unfortunates who are expected to live on a limited sum of £3 10s. a week, and on the other miserable payments that are made by the Government. We believe that the standards of people on the higher salaries should be maintained, but we plead for a proper way of life for those poor unfortunates who are on the lower income scale. I refer to those people who are in receipt of social services benefits and repatriation payments. It has been suggested that they are not in the same category as those men who are in the higher strata of society, but I say to the Prime Minister, who is sitting at the table, for God’s sake, in the interests of decency, do something on behalf of these other people! The dissatisfaction thai has been caused by the failure of the Government to do something on their behalf-
– Order ! The honorable member may not discuss that matter when dealing with this bill. The matter to which he now refers was discussed last week during the Supply debate. Will the honorable member please get back to the bill?
– In order to bring about some understanding, good fellowship, and good feeling between the Parliament and the people generally, consideration, thought and attention must he given to people on the lower incomes, on behalf of whom honorable members on this side of the House are making a plea. I hope that, when this and other bills that will be considered by the House are finally determined, and before the House rises at the end of this sessional period, something will be done on their behalf.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, yesterday I listened, to the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) make a comparison between the sums of money that are paid to judges in Great Britain and those that are paid to judges in Australia. It was obvious to anybody who gave any thought to the matter that, with 50,000,000 people in Great Britain, including families who had owned property for generations and people with great business ramifications, there would be a great deal more work for the judges in the equity courts than there would be for judges in Australia, which has a population of approximately 9,000,000 people. Again, in Great Britain, with a population of 50,000,000, some of whom are living under conditions of great distress, there would probably be more cases in the criminal courts, and consequently, the judges would have quite a lot more work than the judges in Australia, who are of the very highest calibre. Therefore, [ do not consider that the comparisons that were drawn by the honorable member for Angas were of great value as far as this debate is concerned.
I listened yesterday with interest to the speech of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke) which was marred, I thought, by his toofrequent use of the word “ judiciary “, although he used it mostly in the right places. The honorable member seemed to savour the word, and always emphasized it. I was reminded of the story about the gentleman who, when making a speech, and found himself at a loss to think of an appropriate word, resorted to the blessed word “ Mesopotamia “. In similar fashion, when the honorable member for Fawkner was confronted with a difficulty during his speech, he used the word “ judiciary “. In listening to him very carefully, I formed the opinion that he was advocating the divine right of judges. He reminded me of Cardinal Richelieu, an educated and cultured man, who was utterly ruthless in his fight in favour of the divine right of kings in order to attain what he desired. But the people of France did not believe in the divine right of kings and, during the French Revolution not many years afterwards, both the King and Queen of France were executed. I was apprehensive that if the honorable member for Fawkner succeeded in establishing a divine right for judges, some similar fate might befall them. The honorable member for Fawkner, during his impassioned speech, was as keen in his advocacy of a divine right for judges as was Cardinal Richelieu in his advocacy of the divine right of kings. Of course, the honorable member could have been speaking with tongue in cheek. As he is a barrister, he might have thought that his boosting of the judiciary could help him to win future cases. From my knowledge of the honorable member for Fawkner, I am convinced that there are many sides to his character. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that he thought that the judges would take notice of his remarks during this debate, which might stand him in good stead when he is appearing before the courts in the future.
– What a perfectly foul’ remark !
– That is quite all right.. You do not know the honorable memberfor Fawkner as I do.
– I rise to order. ThePrime Minister just made a remark-
– I said, “What a perfectly foul remark ! “
– The Prime Minister should be asked to withdraw that remark. He has no right to make such comment on the speech of an honorable member.
– I did not hear the remark. The honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Bruce) was really making a personal attack on, or a personal implication against, the honorable member for Fawkner. I was listening attentively to his remarks in order to ensure that he kept on the rails and confined his remarks to the bill.
– But I have risen to order.
– I have ruled on the matter.
– You have said that yon did not hear the remark. In view of the Prime Minister’s admission that he made the remark, I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I have already given my ruling.
– I am not surprised at your decision.
– -Order! The honorable member for East Sydney will withdraw his reflection on the Chair.
– Who said it was a reflection?
– Withdraw it, or I will name you.
– I withdraw it.
– I am not worried about the interjection. The point I wish to make is that persons who become judges represent a cross-section of the people of Australia. How often do we hear parents say, “ We will make a lawyer of Johnny”? My mind goes back to my school days. A boy at the school which I attended, a big, robust chap - quite a good Australian Rules footballer, but not a very good cricketer or scholar, who would not have been suitable to enter the church, and would have made an awful -doctor, particularly in surgery - would ultimately have gone to the bar; but unfortunately he was killed at Gallipoli.
In many instances, moneyed parents decide to put their sons into the professions. If a boy was not very bright, he might take years to go through the primary school, the secondary school, and then the university; but ultimately the -great day would come when he was called to the bar, and mum and dad would be very happy. Their next concern would be to see that he chose -for his wife a person who could play a suitable part in furthering his career. That is typical of what has happened in many cases. Some such boys became judges. So we have the position that an ordinary boy - representative of a cross-section of boys in Australia - aided by his parents’ moneyed influence, qualified as a barrister ultimately becomes a judge. Does a person who becomes a judge in such circumstances rank any higher, actually, than other boys who, in their scholastic careers, amass a great deal of information in relation to human nature and the welfare of the people as a whole?
I remember a lad who enrolled at my school just before I left it. Although he “was just an ordinary Australian boy, and had no particular ability, he qualified in law and is now a judge. Let us consider the normal course of events. In time, a judge gets old - as we all grow old - and may decide to put his son in a profession - either law, medicine, or the church. The point I wish to emphasize is that judges represent an average crosssection of the Australian people. They -come from amongst the boys we see playing at school to-day. There are boys who study for the numerous professions, and others who go in for trade and commerce. There is no special divine right of judges, simply because they become judges. In many respects, judges have less general knowledge than have many -other people in the community. I oppose the endeavour of the honorable member for Fawkner to establish the divine right of judges. I do not agree with the belief in the minds of supporters of the Government that the honorable member for
Fawkner was perfectly right and that the divine right of judges is a very sound principle.
In latter years a more democratic influx to the bar has occurred. People who have made money in various walks of life, and others at great personal sacrifice, have enabled their sons to qualify as barristers. When I was a Minister in the Queensland Parliament, I had dinner at a circular table in the Criterion Hotel, Brisbane, with all the judges of the Queensland Supreme Court. I had a good opportunity of studying those men. They were all very fine fellows, but they had many shortcomings in their general knowledge. When a man is giving judgment, sometimes on the lives of people, sometimes on their well-being, and sometimes on their property, general knowledge is of the greatest importance and very necessary indeed.
– Order ! When does the honorable member intend to come to the subject of the bill, which relates to the federal judiciary?
– I say that a general knowledge is very necessary for judges. If we are to pay them the highest salary they should have the qualifications. I do not know how much closer I can get to the subject of the bill; I cannot sit on the judges’ laps. All the judges of the Queensland Supreme Court were men of very fine types, but they were a crosssection of the people of Australia and did not have any qualities not possessed by other men in different walks of life. Judges are not all infallible. There have been cases in which beautiful ladies, attractively dressed, have been charged with murder and acquitted. A judge is entirely honest, but only human, and when a beautiful lady appears before him he tries to revive his lost youth and he gets a certain amount of satisfaction from that. Although I am not questioning the honesty of judges, I will not believe that they are infallible. I do not object to them receiving increases in salary, but I do think that the increases are far in excess of those received by the rest of the people. I have heard it argued that we have to pay additional salaries to judges in order to guarantee their probity. I will not accept that argument; indeed, it is one of the worst arguments that could be used.
– It is a reflection on the judges.
– They should be paid an adequate salary, taking into consideration the educational attainments they have had to acquire and the work they have had to do at the bar, because unless a barrister has been a good man at the bar, he is not appointed to the judiciary. These factors have to be taken into consideration when fixing their salaries, but they also have to be considered when the salaries of many other people are fixed. They must be considered in the case of people who have not had. the opportunity of receiving a higher education and who have had to depend for their livelihood on their physical labour, which is eery necessary to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and to me. and to the well-being of the community. We have to consider the reward that these people receive. We should never have a state of affairs in which some people are short of food, shelter and the wherewithals of life, while others receive salaries which enable them to buy all the services and goods they require, in addition to providing for their children’s education. I believe that die Government has done much to assist the persons who least require assistance, and it has failed to assist those who need assistance most. Actually, we are discussing the apportioning of the money which the Government has available so that the people shall receive a fair share of the things to which they are entitled. Very often men in the lower walks of life pay much more into the exchequer than do some young chaps who are practising at the bar. That money is given in trust to the Government, and it should be used with fairness and equity to all .the citizens of Australia.
– in reply - I do not propose to occupy either the time of the House or my own time in discussing the remarkably muddled utterance we have just had from the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Bruce). What it all amounted to, I am at a complete loss to understand, except that he appears to have satisfied himself that judges are only an average cross-section of the people, anyhow. Well, Mr. Deputy Speaker, all I can say is that if the day ever comes when the people who sit on the High Court Bench are just average fellows, taken at random from down the street, it will be a pretty sad day for the judiciary of Australia. The real reason why I rise - 1 hope my remarks on this point will have some publicity - is to reply to the statement made in the House that the judges affected by this bill are already drawing increased salaries. 1 state quite categorically that they are not. The whole of this matter has been conducted with entire propriety. A judge is not a civil servant. He occupies his. position under the constitutional structure, and it is not proper that an increase of his salary should be made by executive act. It has not been made by executive act. It will be created by this bill before the House when it becomes an act of Parliament. I want to make that quite clear.
The second thing I want to say is thai I am indebted to the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) for, I think, a most temperate and thoughtful contribution to this debate. He said one or two things with which I do not agree, but it would be a pity if we had to agree about everything. However, since he thought it necessary - though I would have doubted it - to discuss some speech that he had made at a political science school, may I point out to him - and I merely mention it because I should not like it to pa» in silence so far as I am concerned - that I do, most irrelevantly, but most heartily, disagree with his view abou: the two justices of the High Court to whom he referred, although, I agree, he did not name them. I had an advantage which the honorable member for Werriwa perhaps did not have. I am not sim whether he did or not, but I certainly had the advantage, very frequently, of appearing before those two justices, anc I am bound to say of each of them thai up to the day of his resignation I should have been proud to have the clarity of mind, the analytical faculties and mastery of the principles of law that each of those justices had.
– The Prime Minister must have done pretty well under them.
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is quite right. I have always been vain enough to believe that I could get even the honorable member for East Sydney off. Age limits have no relevance to this matter, because we know that we have not provided for them in the Constitution, but I want to make the point that I am one of those who attach very little importance to the pure matter of age, because I can remember in my own clays at the bar, in my own State, appearing before, 9nd being familiar with the judicial work of one of the three greatest judges Australia has ever had in the whole of ito history, the late Mr. Justice Cussen. A magnificent judge! Sir Leo Cussen, a great judge and a great lawyer, was well into the 70’s and was still the port of call for all his colleagues of the Bench who had problems of intricacy which they could discuss with the possessor of that lambent and lucid mind. So let us forget about age.
One other thing I want to say is that ve are a little bit disposed occasionally, [ think, to discuss the High Court - I put the High Court in a very special category myself and, as I said in my opening speech when introducing the measure, I am indeed devoutly thankful that we have been able to maintain such a splendid standard of scholarship and character on the High Court - but we are a little disposed to think occasionally that it deals only with constitutional cases and that such cases always touch and concern some political problem, some political argument and counter-argument. Constitutional law itself is not a pure body of jurisprudence, as are other branches of ;he law. It involves a mixture of social philosophy. Two lawyers of equal distinction may have entirely opposite conceptions of how the Constitution ought to be interpreted. That has happened frequently. But because those matters touch politics, and because they get the headlines when judgments are given, far too many people are disposed to think that the justices of the High Court are a sort of politician - a sort of legal politician, a sort of judicial politician, and that that is the whole of their work. I want to remind honorable members that the overwhelming bulk of the work of the justices has nothing to do with .the Constitution. It concerns ordinary litigation in all the fields of jurisprudence. A man cannot go to the High Court Bench and hope to do his work merely by having some experience in constitutional problems. Not for a moment! As the honorable member for Werriwa will agree, he will have to deal with the most intricate problems of equity, common law and statute interpretation. Great procedural problem? emerge out of proceedings in the lower courts. Those all require a degree of legal furniture in a mind; and a justice of the High Court cannot be an average man. I am happy to say that nine times out of ten he is far from being an average man.
The High Court was created by the Constitution, the very instrument thai created this Parliament. We are not the creators of the High Court. It was created by the Constitution, just as the Parliament was created by the Constitution. The three great arms of government - legislature, executive and judiciary - or “ judicature “ as it is called, the honorable member for Leichhardt will be relieved to know, in the appropriate chapter of the Constitution. All those three things were created by the Constitution, the great structural instrument. Therefore, although the Executive has contact with the judicature, because somebody must appoint, with due and solemn responsibility, judges to the court - and that is an executive act I agree - apart from that executive act the High Court stands completely independent of direction from this Parliament; and may il always continue to do so.
I add just one thing to that, and it is a thing which, I suggest with respect to my learned and honorable friend from Werriwa, he may have slightly underestimated in his own remarks. It is all right to discuss the position of the judicature on the assumption that you ‘would like to see unification. I appreciate to the full the honorable member’s view. He says, “ Let us get rid of the federal system. If we were to get rid of the federal system then, of course, in one stroke we would get rid of the constitutional functions of the High Court, because there would be no constitutional problem: left.” I agree. Rut we do not happen to live in that world. We happen to live in a federal system, and I remind honorable members that it is impossible to have a federal system without a High Court, whether it be called the High Court, or the Supreme Court, as the comparable body in the United States of America is called, lt does not matter what it is called ; it is impossible to have a federal system without such a court, because a federal system involves a division of powers. There must always be, therefore, arguments and differences of opinion as to who lias a particular power, and where the line of demarcation is. Somebody must settle that. We could not have it settled by a popular referendum, or by a by-election, or something of that kind. In fact, to do that would be to destroy the Constitution. Therefore, so long as we have a federal system we must have a court which is the arbiter. No talk about its being superior to the Parliament has anything to do with the point. In a federal system we must have a court which gives judgment as to whether what we do in this House is within the Constitution or outside it. It interprets the Constitution and so long as that is the position - and I shrewdly suspect that it will outlast most of us in this chamber - then, in point of general, legal scholarship and experience, and in particular p0111 of knowledge of the principles of constitutional interpretation, a great, powerful, independent High Court of judicature in Australia is vital to our Constitution and vital to our constitutional rights and, therefore, opposed to whatever may have been said at some school, vital to our liberty.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 3.1st May (vide page 1238), on motion by Mr. Kent
That the House of Representatives approves of the distribution of the Statu of Queensland into electoral divisions, as proposed by Messrs. K. S. Olsen, .1. P. Harvey and C. Faragher, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of distributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before theHouse of Representatives on the 17th day of May, 1955, and that the names of the divisions suggested in the report, and indicated om the maps referred to therein, be adopted.
.This matter has reached such a stage that, I do not think that my colleagues and I could hope that much will be done about our complaints in connexion with it. Theobservations that I propose to make will not take very long. Before I proceed,. I want to make it quite clear that any reference that I make to the commissioners relates to their office and not to them as individuals. I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Olsen,, though he is the Returning Officer in. Queensland. I have not met theSurveyorGeneral, Mr. J. P. Harvey, bat I know Mr. Faragher very well. I do not wish to cast any reflection on them asindividuals.
The position in Queensland is, to say the least, most extraordinary. I am very happy to announce that the commission did not touch the electorate of Herbert, which I have the honour to* represent. Therefore, I have no complaint to make regarding, its activiries so far as that electorate is concerned. I think I can safely say the same for theother four Queensland representativeswho sit on this side of the House. I refer to the honorable member for Leichhardt: (Mr. Bruce), the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson), thehonorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts), and the honorable member forKennedy (Mr. Riordan). One or twoalterations in their electoral boundarieshave been made but they have all been’, of benefit to Labour.
The feature of the re-distribution to* which I propose to address myself is the- method adopted, and the result that has been achieved. The commissioners made a determination and, after some time, met again and reversed almost completely the position in one or two electorates. I do not want to give heart to Government supporters, but I would only be pulling the wool over my eyes if I thought that Labour had much prospect of winning more than five of the eighteen federal seats in Queensland.
– But Labour never did have much prospect!
– We might have if certain events, affecting the electorate of Capricornia especially, had not taken place. For the first time since the defeat of our candidate in Capricornia it looked as though we had a reasonable prospect of winning that seat. If the present member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) had been the Liberal candidate, our prospects would have been especially bright. I am making a complaint here because this is the only place where I am entitled to do so. After the commissioners had made the first redistribution and apparently completed their task a certain move was made by either the Liberals, or by those gentlemen acting jointly with members of the Country party. Who initiated it, is not important. I have’ no intention of mentioning the name of my informant, other than to say that he was a member of Parliament, but not a Labour man. He told me that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had warned these members before they left here, and before the commission had met, that anything in connexion with redistribution in Queensland would have to be done by the commissioners. He added that they could not hope to have any alteration made when the matter came before the Parliament. If any Government supporter disputes this I shall refer him, in private, to my informant.
It is apparent that the Government was afraid that at least one of its members, and possibly two, would be defeated. The honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme) was not too happy about it; apparently, he is not too happy yet. Honorable members know that he presented a petition, signed by constituents, which indicated that he was not satisfied.
Of course, it got back to the commissioners. Before the commission met for the second time I read in the Brisbane Courier-Mail the following statement which was attributed to Mr. Olsen : -
That the commissioners would meet the following week and that alterations to their first decisions would take place.
The Brisbane Courier-Mail is my authority for making this statement, and if I am wrong that newspaper was wrong also. I am wondering whether that was Mr. Olsen’s personal opinion, and whether he had conferred with his fellow commissioners. ‘ Was the matter decided and manipulated by Government supporters from Queensland who regarded the outcome as inevitable?
– What is the date of the newspaper to which the honorable member refers?
– I am not concerned about the date. I read it and so did every other honorable member from Queensland.
– The honorable member is not quoting it correctly.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Brand) is not going to distract me by raising the question of the date. I am concerned that the chairman of the commission, who had been vested by this Parliament with the responsibility of doing an effective, honest and intelligent job, should have made that statement. He had no right to make it because, from what we have been given to understand of the way in which the commission works, he would not have been in possession of that knowledge. That was not the end of it. What Mr. Olsen said, or is reported to have said-
– It is what the honorable member alleges that he said.
– I am not alleging anything. I object to the honorable member for Capricornia suggesting that I am not telling the truth. I am talking of a man who holds a high, important, and responsible Commonwealth job. I will not allow any one to suggest that I would tell a deliberate lie concerning that person. I have stated what he was reported to have said. The honorable member for Capricornia, who keeps on chirping like a tom-tit on a stump-
– Order !
– That is what I have always thought he sounded like.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it. I trust, Mr. Speaker, that the honorable member for Capricornia either will listen to what I have to say or will have the courtesy to go out of the House while I I am speaking.
What did take place? Mr. Pilbeam, the mayor of Rockhampton, who had hit the headlines long before this, came down to Brisbane and brought a petition with him. I have forgotten the actual number of persons who signed the petition, but I know that a great number of signatures was attached to it. Mr. Pilbeam, before he appeared before the commissioners, went round Brisbane stating that he had no political interest in the matter. He said, “ I am an Independent. I won the mayoralty of Rockhampton as an Independent. I could not care less about the honorable member for Capricornia. I do not care whether we have a Labour member or an anti-Labour member. All I am interested in is the fact that Rockhampton has not been treated fairly “. Perhaps it is only a coincidence that the honorable member for Capricornia was a very strong supporter of the Independent mayor of Rockhampton when that person sought election as mayor. After this man of independent thought, this man who was not concerned about politics one way or another, had met the commissioners, the chief commissioner made a statement to the press that some alterations of the boundaries were to be made, and some alterations were made. We must bear in mind that the Queensland Labour members were not told that redress would not be available to them in the Parliament. They had to take pot-luck in the matter. It may be that if the Labour members had thought they were not being treated fairly in the redistribution, they would have said nothing about it at that time and would have come to this Parlia ment in the hope of getting some redress. Labour members had not been warned, as had members of the Government parties, that redress would not be available to them here.
When the commissioners had had a second go at the Queensland boundaries, we found that the honorable member for Capricornia was able to go around smiling and giggling, as is his custom. He is one of the happiest of the Queensland members to-day. We know that the task of the commissioners appointed to redistribute electoral boundaries is tedious and difficult. Before arriving at a decision, they must take all sorts of factors into consideration. They have to consider existing boundaries, natural boundaries and communities of interest.
– As well as their natural inclinations.
– That is so. What I cannot understand is why such drastic changes were made on the second occasion, as distinct from the first occasion. The honorable member for Petrie and the honorable member for Capricornia may or may not be able to tell us what happened. If the honorable member for Dawson (Mr. Davidson) were here and chose to do so, he could tell the House a long story about what took place in the redistribution of boundaries in order to save the honorable member for Capricornia. The honorable member for Dawson is anything but happy about it. I do not know his thoughts on the matter. I do not know what he believes the commissioners had in their minds, or what he believes took place to make them change their minds. All I am saying is that it is an amazing fact, and a remarkable coincidence, that in Queensland the anti-Labour members were able to get their protests heard, and successfully heard, whilst in New South Wales they were completely ignored. If I were to suggest there was some political interference in Queensland, I could be accused of attacking men who are not here to defend themselves. But whether we allege political interference or not, the fact of the matter is that there was a remarkable change of front on the second handling of the redistribution, compared with the first.
The honorable member for Petrie did not like the first redistribution. We did. We thought it was right, and we did not object to it. We did not say one word in protest against the altered boundaries of the divisions of Capricornia and Petrie. The honorable member for Capricornia is very happy about what happened after the second crack of the whip. Goodness only knows what the honorable member for Petrie is grizzling about. Even now, he says that he has not been treated fairly and justly by the redistribution.
– Who said that?
– If he is satisfied, it is extraordinary that he presented a petition to the House about the redistribution.
– Other people asked me to do so. It was my duty to present it.
– That is the first occasion I have seen the honorable member for Petrie act so generously. Apparently he did not dream of presenting a petition about the alteration of the boundaries of the Petrie division until somebody asked him to do so. If that is the honorable member’s assessment of the intelligence of honorable members on both sides of the House, he has quite a few surprises coming to him. We know that the honorable member for Petrie was dissatisfied. We know he will say that he presented a petition on the matter only because a certain number of people asked him to do so. He will say that because he has not enough courage to defy the Government that he supports in relation to the arrangements that were made for the redistribution of boundaries in Queensland.
The honorable member for Capricornia ig in an entirely different position. He will not complain. Mr. Pilbeam, the Independent Mayor of Rockhampton, saved the honorable member with a large petition. I suppose Mr. Pilbeam, like the honorable member for Petrie, would not have dreamed of presenting that petition to the commissioners if some people had not asked him to do so.
It seems fantastic that, with the new boundaries, Queensland, which has been governed by a Labour government for years, can hope to return only five Labour members out of a total of eighteen members.
– Labour won only three seats in Queensland in 1948.
– We are not living in 1948 now. We are living in 1955. If the honorable member for Petrie can derive any satisfaction from what happened in 194S, let him do so. The Labour party holds five of the federal seats in Queensland now. Even with the new boundaries, surely members of the Government parties do not think we shall come back after the next general election with fewer than five of the Queensland seats ! Probably they will say they believe we shall win fewer than five seats, but they do not honestly think so. However, it is fantastic that, with the new boundaries, Labour cannot hope to win more than five of the Queensland seats.
– I wish to reply, very briefly, to the remarks made by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds). In discussing the redistribution of electoral boundaries, we always get charges aud counter-charges, but I have never heard a case more unworthily presented than that argued by the honorable member for Herbert. He suggests, by innuendo, that the commissioners have not discharged their obligations honestly and straightforwardly. It is a false charge to make, without producing any supporting evidence at all.
– I point out that, by innuendo or otherwise, I did not at any stage of my remarks-
-Order ! The honorable gentleman may rise to order, but he may not make an explanation now.
– I am not raising » point of order.
– Order ! The honor able gentleman cannot do anything unless he raises a point of order. He is entitled to make a personal explanation later The Minister may proceed.
– I have the highest regard for the three senior public servants - a State public servant and two Commonwealth public servants - who comprised the commission. I have the highest regard for the integrity they have always shown in the administration of their respective departments. Mr. Olsen has always done a first-class job of work, and he is held in the highest regard and esteem by every section of the community in. Queensland. The same can be said of Mr. Faragher, who is the Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Queensland. I know both these men; they ave public servants for whom everybody has a high regard, except perhaps the honorable member for Herbert.
No burlesquing of this situation and trying to bait honorable members on thi3 side of the House will prove that something has been done improperly. Not one statement has been made by the honorable member for Herbert that can throw any suspicion or doubt on the integrity of the commissioners or disparage the way in which they have carried out their job. What has happened in this case is that the act has been strictly complied with. I direct the honorable member’s attention to section 20 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-1949 in which the following principle is laid down very clearly: -
Before reporting on the distribution of any State into divisions the Distribution Commissioners shall cause a map with a description of the boundaries of each proposed Division to be exhibited at post offices in the proposed Division, and shall invite public attention thereto by advertisement in the Gazette.
That was done, and done without any challenge. There was no murmur from anybody, until to-day-
– They did not raise any objection.
– No worthwhile comment was made anywhere. That section of the act was observed faithfully, honestly and straightforwardly. I now refer to section 21, which reads as follows : -
Objections or suggestions in writing may be lodged with the Distribution Commissioners not later than thirty days after the first advertisement in the Gazette of the proposed distribution, and the Distribution Commissioners shall consider all objections and suggestions so lodged before making their report.
What happened? From the observations of the honorable member for Herbert himself we gather that certain objections and suggestions were made in writing to the commissioners, and those objections and suggestions were considered by them. Arising out of a straightforward and honest consideration of those proposals, the former re-distribution was varied. That is what the legislation prescribed and that is what has been done. The observations of the honorable member for Herbert are wholly unworthy of him.
Reference has been made to the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) and there was a suggestion of some impropriety. There is no evidence to support it; just a very vague suggestion has been made. My reply to that suggestion is that I know, of my own knowledge, and from information conveyed to me, that certain substantial objections were raised by people in the Capricornia electorate suggesting a variation of the proposed boundaries. That is strictly in accordance with section 21 of the act. The Mayor, the chief citizen of Rockhampton, was the instrument selected to place the suggestions or objections before the commission. The commission considered those and other objections and, in its judgment, made variations in that and in several other electorates. I repeat that the job of work done by the commission has been performed straightforwardly and honestly. The act ha3 been complied with, and the innuendoes and suggestions of the honorable member for Herbert have not been sustained and are unworthy of him.
.- 1 desire to say a few words on this matter. First, it is obvious that the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) has submitted nothing of substance. Secondly, he is not game to remain in the House to hear the reply given by Government members. Thirdly, I do not doubt that the honorable member read correctly the statement made by Mr. Olsen, the chairman of the commission, as reported in the Brisbane Courier-Mail; but my recollection of the statement was that the commission would meet next week to consider the protests that had been submitted’. The honorable member for Herbert was not game to mention the date on which- the article was published in the Courier-Mail, because it was only two or three days prior to the closing time for protests, and obviously “next week” would be immediately after the closing date for protests. What is wrong about it? Obviously, Mr. Olsen meant that the commission would consider any protests and then decide whether or not any alterations would be made.
– It is obligatory upon them to do so.
– As the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Francis) says, it is obligatory upon them to do so. After all, what is wrong with that? Harking back to the redistribution in 1948, I remember that the only alteration made in Queensland was exactly as desired by the then honorable member for Lilley, Mr. Hadley. The alteration was made by the then commission right to the very street he asked for. Even so, Mr. Hadley did not win Lilley in 1949. Nobody complained about what was done then. That was the decision of the commission and there were uo protests from Government members. In the second instance, a. number of alterations were made by the commission that were never asked for by any of us. They were made obviously to meet the quota needs of the electorates after changes had been made as a result of the protests that had been lodged.
Reference has been made to the electorate of Capricornia. The City of Rockhampton was vieing with Toowoomba for the position of second city in Queensland. It is a neck and neck race between the two places. Rockhampton obviously considered that it had an equal right, with Toowoomba, to be enclosed in its own electorate. In the past, it had been divided, some of the area being in the Dawson electorate and some in the Capricornia division. The residents of Rockhampton considered it an important city, and the mayor, rightly taking pride in his city, took action. It was no mean task for him to- get between 8,000 and 9,000 signatures on a petition to support the case he wished to present to the com-
R.- l40: mission. It was obvious that if the whole of the City of Rockhampton was to be included in the electorate of Capricornia, a lot of country districts surrounding it had to be put into another electorate. Although it was included in Dawson, that was never asked for by the honorable member for Dawson or by anybody else. However, we have to accept the decision of the referee, and I think that, on the whole, the commission has done a fairly statesmanlike job.
The honorable member for Herbert made reference to a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). If the Prime Minister made that statement, all I can say is that it shows the fairness of his approach to this problem. If a matter is submitted to a referee, he is prepared to abide by the referee’s decision. There can be no quarrel with that. It is proved by the very fact that these submissions are being brought to the House with the Government’s recommendation that they be accepted. After all, we do submit, Mr. Speaker, that we have a right of protest. I do not know of any Government member who approached the commission. Naturally, we had discussions. What is wrong with that? We had discussions and made our individual! submissions with reference to the proposed new boundaries with which we were concerned. The area in which I reside and in which the office of the federal member, who is myself, is situated, was to be excluded from the Fisher electorate. Naturally, I desire to retain that area. I could not see any sense, and I said so, in the proposal to include part of the semi-suburban area surrounding Brisbane in an entirely rural electorate such as Fisher. I protested to the electoral commissioners. They acceded to my request, but, at the same time, they transferred to the Oxley electorate some of the rural areas of the present Fisher electorate. Neither the honorable member for Oxley (Dr. Donald Cameron) nor I asked that that be done. If the electoral commissioners decide to make an alteration, they have to achieve a balance of the numbers of electors. They have altered electorates and have tried to meet the quota requirements.
I state unreservedly that Government members have played the game in this redistribution. “We have simply exercised our right to make written protests against the proposals of the electoral commissioners and to make submissions to them. We have left it to the commissioners to consider those protests, and we accept their decisions. The froth and bubble of the remarks of the honorable member for Herbert demonstrate that his arguments have no substance. The honorable member has merely tried, by innuendo and allegation, to prove that the redistribution is unfair; but the methods adopted by the electoral commissioners have been entirely fair.
). - I wish so comment briefly on only two matters that were mentioned by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds). He stated that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), before the end of the last sessional period, had warned Government members that, once the proposed new electoral boundaries were submitted to the Parliament for approval, they would not be altered. I am sure that no honorable member except, perhaps, the honorable member for Herbert, would believe such a thing. The legal background of the Prime Minister indicates clearly that the right honorable gentleman would desire the proper processes provided for in the Commonwealth Electoral Act to be followed, and that he would expect a discussion of the proposals, upon their submission to the Parliament, before the Parliament approved of them. I deny unequivocally the allegation that the Prime Minister uttered the warning to which the honorable member for Herbert referred.
The honorable member referred also to an alleged manipulation of boundaries by Government members. I remind honorable members of his opening remarks in which he stated that the observations he was about to make would not be made with any personal feeling. I cannot imagine any more pointed reflection on the three electoral commissioners than the statement that electoral boundaries had been manipulated by Government members. Such a thing could be done only with the consent of the commissioners. I cannot believe that the honorable member was sincere when he made that allegation. I regret his attitude, which might perhaps cause some of my own remarks to be misconstrued. I wish to make it perfectly clear that the remarks that I am about to make are not the result of any personal feeling against the electoral commissioners. After a redistribution such as this one, we are entitled to consider the overall situation that existed previously and the result of the redistribution. My remarks are intended to be an analysis of the redistribution from that viewpoint.
As the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Francis) has stated, it is impossible to satisfy every one in making an electoral redistribution. That fact is amply proved on this occasion, as it has been proved by all previous redistributions. The honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann) referred to the adjustment of boundaries between the Fisher and Lilley constituencies in. the 1948 redistribution. On that occasion, the sitting member for Lilley, Mr. Hadley, made representations which were accepted by the electoral commissioners. Perhaps that event did not satisfy supporters of the present Government, who were then in Opposition, but they accepted it, because -the commissioners were entitled to take heed of objections to their proposals for the alteration of electoral boundaries. Similarly, on this occasion, the present commissioners are fully entitled to alter their proposals after they have heard objections to them, though I must admit that, in one or two instances, I find it very difficult to follow their reasoning. On this occasion, as under the 1948 redistribution, more seats are involved than was previously the case, and consequently, greater dissatisfaction is likely to occur. Dissatisfaction over the proposed redistribution is evident among honorable members on both sides of the House. Therefore, I consider that I express the opinion not only of myself but also of some honorable members who sit on the Opposition side of the House, as well as of some Government members.
The principles laid down in the act for the making of electoral redistributions have been referred to by the Minister for thu Navy, and I do not wish to read them now. Section 19 embodies certain principles that shall be taken into consideration by the electoral commissioners in making redistributions. The commissioners are given a basic quota of electors, and the population of each electorate must be within 20 per cent, of the quota. It appears that some of the principles stated in section 19 of the act have received scant regard from some of the commissioners in several instances, particularly in Queensland, and also in other States.
The honorable member for Herbert, a short time ago, mentioned a petition that I presented in this House. Of course, he told only a part of the story. I presented the petition because the people who subscribed to it asked me to present it on their behalf. Some of the people who live in the area to which the petition relates are within 3 miles of my residence. Those who are farthest away are only 20 miles from my home, whereas they are 120 miles from the residence of the honorable member for Fisher. Therefore, it will be readily understood why those people feel that I am closer to them and better able to give them the service that may be expected of a parliamentary representative than is the honorable member for Fisher. The area in question, the Pine Shire, is part of my existing electorate. In the first proposal of the electoral commissioners, the shire was included in the proposed new Petrie electorate. However, in the second proposal, the commissioners have transferred 1,700 electors from the Pine Shire to the Fisher electorate and have allowed 700 of the residents of the shire to remain in my electorate. Obviously, a group of 2,400 people who live between 12 and 25 miles from the heart of Brisbane have community of interest. They all live within the boundaries of the one shire, and their problems of local government are the concern of the one shire council. Even more important, the whole of the »hire area is a part of the om State electorate. It is difficult to justify the proposal to divide the area between two federal electorates, and, naturally, the local residents consider it only logical nhat, as they are all in the one shire and are represented by the same State member, they should be represented by the one federal member. It is reasonable for me to state that I cannot understand how the electoral commissioners can justify their proposal.
If honorable members look at the plan of the proposed redistribution in Queensland, they will see that the electorate of Dawson has been given a minimum width of about 15 miles, and an overall length of approximately 400 miles. I find this proposal very difficult to understand, and I am sure many Queensland electors have similar views. It would appear that the commission which functioned in Queensland had regard to numbers and ignored other principles that are set down in the Commonwealth Electoral Act. The commission could have made use of the principle relating to a 20 per cent, margin. A principle which has been adopted in South Australia in the past is that a greater number of electors should be allotted to a metropolitan area than to a country area. That principle has not been observed in this particular case. But it seems to me that there is no need for the differences in the approaches of the commissions in the various States. The Parliament should consider whether or not some changes are necessary in the electoral law. The differences in the approaches of the various commissions is a matter which the House might consider at a future date.
One of the principles that is mentioned in section 19 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act concerns State electoral boundaries. There are approximately 42,000 electors in my electorate of Petrie. Yet my electorate covers at least part of seven State electorates and the quota for State electorates in that area is about 11,500 electors. Therefore, it seems correct to say that the commission gave very little consideration .to State electoral boundaries in making this particular distribution. I believe that the provisions of the existing act are outmoded. There is inconsistency in relation to the evidence which commissioners take in the various States. In Queensland, the commission does not hear evidence from any one. In another State, the commissioners asked the political parties whether they had any views on the redistribution of electoral boundaries. That is an unfortunate inconsistency. Not only should evidence be taken by the commissioners, but opportunity should be given for discussion with them as well, lt has been said that commissions have disregarded representations by political parties and by members of Parliament. “Who could know the situation better and who would be more aware of such matters as community df interest, lines of communication and State electoral boundaries, than members of a political party or of this Parliament ? The Australian Labour party, the Australian Country party and the Liberal party, together represent the views of the people of Australia. The members of those parties should be allowed to make representations to the commissions in relation ;to the redistribution of electoral boundaries. The act should provide that members of political parties which are recognized in this place, and members of the Parliament, should have the opportunity, not only of presenting evidence to, but of holding discussions with, members of the commission before the commission proceeds finally to redistribute electoral divisions.
Then we come to the question of who should ‘be the commissioners. The act requires ‘that one of the commissioners shall be the Chief Electoral Officer or some person with similar qualifications. It provides that a member of ‘the commission shall be the -‘State SurveyorGeneral or some person with similar qualifications. Provision is made for a third member of the commission to be appointed by the Government. There are occasions on which the Chief Electoral Officer may not be the most desirable person ‘to appoint to a commission. .He might recently have come from another State and, therefore, his knowledge of the State in which the redistribution is to be made may be very meagre. I have not:time to elaborate on that subject, but I believe that the Chief Electoral Officer should be available to assist the commission. The State Surveyor-‘General might be an efficient surveyor, but he might lack some of the other qualifications that are essential to a member of the commission. “When this act was first passed, the Department of the Interior did not have officers in various ‘States as it has now. Now, the Department of the
Interior has surveyors who could be made available to assist the commissions, particularly in relation to physical features.
It is desirable that commissions should be independent bodies and that in each case ‘the chairman should be a judge. I cannot suggest the court from which he should come. That matter would have to be decided in consultation with the State governments. But the members of the commission should have no association with the Government. The commissioners should have a breadth of outlook and should be expected to approach the task, free from any personal claims on them. I suggest that the House should consider the amendment of our electoral legislation in ‘five respects before the next redistribution is made. First, I suggest that commissions should give wider consideration to problems of redistribution than is permitted by the five principles tha’t are set out in section 19 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. To section 19 should be added a new paragraph (/), which should read -
Any other matter which in the opinion of the commissioners shall be considered.
I do not think that the commissioners should be limited in their deliberations to a consideration of the principles set out in section 19 in .relation to the redistribution of electoral divisions. Secondly, I suggest that commissioners should be given a more specific instruction in the use of the 20 per cent, margin. Thirdly, I suggest that, -before the commissioners do any work on the electoral maps, they should be available for discussions with representatives of political parties which are recognized in the Parliament, and with members of the Parliament. Fourthly, I suggest that there should be independent commissioners, preferably presided over by .a judge. Fifthly, I suggest that the Chief Electoral Officer and a surveyor from the Department of the Interior should be made available to assist the commissions.
I present these suggestions to the House conscientiously, for I think that honorable members will agree that there is some justification, at least, for examin-_ ing them. This should be done within the next two years, before we forget the issues involved, and most certainly well in advance of the next redistribution. If these principles are taken into consideration I think that honorable members will receive greater satisfaction for the redistribution of electoral boundaries than they receive at present.
.- The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) clearly stated the attitude of r,he Opposition with regard to the redistribution of electoral divisions. He paid a tribue to three commissioners. He said that he knew one of them personally very well, but that he did not know the other two gentlemen. He was taken to task “by the Minister for the Navy, who said that some of the honorable member’s statements cast a reflection upon the commissioners. The honorable member for Herbert was not trying to cast any reflection upon those who were responsible for the redistribution, but upon honorable members on the other side of the House. Take the case of the Minister for the Navy himself. We all know what happened in regard to the redistribution of the Moreton electorate. The Minister squealed loudly because the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) took portion of his territory. That was common gossip. It is .all very well for the Minister to say that some of the statements of the honorable member for Herbert reflected on the integrity of the commissioners. They did nothing of the kind. They reflected upon honorable members opposite.
Now I come to the remarks of the honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann), who stated that the redistribution of Rockhampton was necessary because, in the original redistribution, that city had been divided into two parts. All that the commissioners have done in this latest redistribution has been to move the southern boundary of the Dawson electoral division about a quarter of a mile. Following the 1948 redistribution, the boundary being the Fitzroy River, North Rockhampton was in the Dawson division, but it has now been included in the division of Capricornia. The commissioners, in making the redistribution, were faced with the problem of getting the required numbers for the various divisions. They brought down the boundary of the Kennedy division, and took in part of the Dawson division. To make up the deficiency in the Dawson division, they had to go farther south than the original southern boundary. A protest was lodged by supporters of the Government. So vitally concerned were the people of Rockhampton about this out,rageous action of the commissioners that twenty people attended the protest meeting! The members who protested were not able to get even members of their own executives to attend, let alone other members of the Liberal party. All the thundering was done in the federal members’ room in Brisbane. I was not there, but I heard the whole story. I was absent in the Kennedy electorate at the time. When I returned to Brisbane, I was told what had taken place. The division of Kennedy, which is as large as New South Wales, is big enough, but the Australian Country party wanted it to extend from the Gulf of Carpentaria nearly to the New South Wales border. In other words, the question of communications was not a consideration at all.’ The chief concern of the supporters of the Government who protested against the redistribution was not about community of interest or transport facilities, but, as the honorable member for Herbert pointed out, about votes. They were not concerned about the feelings of the people in the area.
The honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme) has stated that the distance from his home to a particular area that has been included in the division of Fisher is only 13 miles. One of the matters taken into consideration by the commissioners in making a redistribution is community of interest. The division of Petrie has become more or less a suburban division. The population of that area has pushed out towards the northern suburbs of Brisbane. The subdivision of Redcliffe, by virtue of the construction of the Hornibrook Highway viaduct, has become more or less part of the City of Brisbane, although it is a separate municipality. The distance from Redcliffe to Brisbane has been shortened considerably by the construction of that very long bridge. The point of the matter is that the subdivision of Redcliffe was included in the division of
Petrie by the 1948 redistribution, but it was taken out at the first redistribution on this occasion. A protest was lodged, and it was reincluded in the division of Petrie. The honorable member for Petrie says that he also wants the Pine shire to be included in the division that he represents, because it is only 13 miles from his home. The honorable member should go to western Queensland where he would learn something about mileages. Places 120 miles distant from some of the towns in western Queensland are virtually only suburbs of those towns. The Pine area is a dairying area, and the division of Fisher is largely a dairying area. In other words, there is a community of interest between the Pine area and the remainder of the division of Fisher.
Reference has also been made to the fact that in 1948 the then honorable member for Lilley, Mr. Hadley, lodged a protest against the redistribution that was made in that year. It is true that he did so. He lodged a protest or objection, or he made suggestions. I do not know whether the commissioners acceded to the suggestions made by Mr. Hadley.
– They did.
– I know that he did make a protest, but on this occasion, as the honorable member for Herbert has pointed out, we offered no objections to the original redistribution because we were aware that the commissioners were faced with a difficult proposition. “We were also aware that, subsequently, the Government members, as I said a while ago, were more concerned about votes than about community of interest, transport, and all the rest of it.
Now let me refer to the suggestion of the honorable member for Petrie in relation to the constitution of an independent commission. It is true that possibly the Commonwealth Electoral Officer in a particular State might be a man who has been transferred from another State and who might not have the intimate knowledge of a State that is required in a chairman of a commission. But he would be a man who has been constantly associated with electoral matters, and it would not take him very long to become conversant with conditions in, say, Queensland. The Surveyor-General of a State is obliged to become conversant with ever.v part of that State. In other words, he gains an intimate knowledge of communications and community of interest in the State. The third member of the commission need not be the Director of Posts and Telegraphs; he could be some other person who has a knowledge of transport and communications. I have no objections to the appointment of a judge. The present act has worked very well for the Government, but to the detriment of the Opposition. It is interesting to relate that there were all sorts of objections lodged against the report of Mr. Justice Sheehy, who was the chairman of the Redistribution Commission which was appointed by the Queensland Government. The Australian Country party was very loud in its objections to the redistribution that he recommended. Therefore, I do not desire to comment on the proposed substitution of a judge for the Chief Electoral Officer.
I come now to the remarks that were made by the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme) on the question of allowing 20 per cent, above and below electorate quotas. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) represents an electorate which has an enrolment of about 46,000 people. As the population of Brisbane, in common with that of Sydney and Melbourne, is moving from the inner suburbs to the outer suburbs, where housing commission estate? are being established, the enrolment in the electorate of Brisbane has dropped to about 33,000 persons. A period of ten years might elapse before another redistribution is made, and it might then be found that, due to the movement of population to which I have referred, the enrolment of the electorate has fallen by 3,000 or 4,000, the number by which it now exceeds the quota. Consequently, it is desirable to permit a 20 per cent, fluctuation below and above the quota. It has been particularly noticeable since the end of the war that electorate enrolments do not remain static. I, personally, and other honorable members on this side of the House, accept the decision of the three commissioners.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 31st May (vide page 1238), on motion by Mr. Kent Hughes -
That the House of Representatives approves
A the distribution of the State of New South Wales into electoral divisions, as proposed by Messrs. V. V. Turner, H. J. Martin and G. W. Vincent, thu commissioners appointed for the purpose of distributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before the House of Representatives on the 3rd day of May, 1!)55, and that the names of the divisions suggested in the report, and indicated on the maps referred to therein, be adopted, except that the name “ Grayndler “ be substituted for “ Cook “, the name “ Hughes “ for “ Werriwa “ and the Mme “Werriwa” for “Hughes”.
.- In dealing with the proposed new electoral boundaries for the State of New South Wales, I want to make quite clear at the outset that if I were examining these boundaries merely from a personal viewpoint, I could find no fault with the present constitution of the East Sydney electorate. But I must say, even if I hurt somebody’s feelings, that I believe that considered upon a State basis these are the worst boundaries, from the viewpoint of an impartial consideration of such an important matter, that could possibly be fixed, and I have no hesitation in saying that this is probably the greatest illustration, at least in the Commonwealth history, of the gerrymandering of electorates. Let us examine exactly what has been done. I know that some supporters of the Government, when the boundaries in another State were being discussed, expressed great concern about what they regarded as a reflection on the three commissioners who were responsible for producing the plan. I have no hesitation at all, and no compunction, in saying outright that in my opinion the decisions made in respect of New South Wales, from the viewpoint of impartiality, are an outrage, and this can be shown by the production of evidence.
For once I find myself in partial agreement with the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme). He suggested that there ought to be some greater limitation upon the commissioners in regard to the discretion which they are allowed to exercise under the act in making provi sion for numbers 20 per cent, above or 20 per cent, below the declared quota. I think that there is a good deal of merit in such a suggestion, because too much scope is given to the commissioners to-day to vary the agreed quota. Let us examine the situation in New South Wales and see how this redistribution has been loaded against the Labour party. We shall produce the evidence to show that it has been loaded, and I believe that we shall be able to satisfy at least any reasonable honorable member in this chamber of the validity of our charge. The quota fixed in New South Wales was -t3,4S2, but under the provision which permits the commissioners to exercise some discretion to go above or below the quota, the commissioners may allow a maximum of 52,178 voters in any one electorate, and a minimum of 34,786. In New South Wales there are 23 metropolitan constituencies, and 23 outside the metropolitan area. Of the 23 in the metropolitan area, nearly all are over the quota, and fifteen of them are held by the Labour party by substantial majorities. In the country, of the 23 electorates which are just hovering around the quota, ten are held by the Labour party. The Newcastle electorate, in a sense, is a metropolitan constituency, but for the purposes of this calculation it is included with the 23 seats outside the Sydney metropolitan area, and it has 2,000 voters over the quota. It is the largest quota fixed in regard to these 23 electorates.
Let us look at the seats which are well over the quota. Four metropolitan seats have over 46,000 electors on the roll, as determined by this commission. Those seats .are East Sydney, West Sydney, Cook and Dalley, which are all held by the Labour party. In those four metropolitan seats there is a total excess of 10,500 votes over the quota. Those votes could play a very important part in determining the result of an election. If these seats were divided up on a proper and impartial basis, those 10,500 votes could be most important. The next two electorates in line, just below the 46,000 mark, are Watson and Phillip, which are also Labour seats. So that, in the metropolitan area, of New South Wales, the six seats in which the number of voters is largely in excess of the quota are Labour-held seats. Therewe have a surplus ofvotes which the commissioners have cunningly distributed amongst those Labour electorates so that they will be unable to affect the situation in other electorates. In the country area, where there are 23 electorates, the five seats which have the greatest number of electors are Newcastle, Shortland, Cunningham, Hunter and Macquarie, all of which are held by the Labour party. So that six metropolitan and five country divisions, all. held by the Labour party, contain a surplus of voters.
Let us examine some of the electorates to show what is, in my opinion, a gerrymandering - and I shall not mince words about it - which is deliberately designed to try to affect the chances of Labour at the next general election. Let us see how these three commissioners have shown partiality in fixing the divisions. Let us take first my own electorate-, East Sydney. In 1948, when we had the same chairman of the commission as we have to-day, I made certain suggestions, none of which was accepted by the commission, but thai is not the important matter at this stage. What is important is that the members of the commission have determined to do now what they decided was impossible in 1948. Under the terms of the act, there are certain conditions: which the commission is supposed to observe, one of which deals with the question of natural boundaries. In the electorate of East Sydney, Bayswater-road, which is no doubt known to many honorable members, is a main thoroughfare-. In 1948, I suggested that that road be regarded as a natural boundary, and that all the Darlinghurst subdivision on one side of Bayswater-road be placed in the Wentworth electorate, and the balance on the other side retained in the East Sydney electorate. I was advised by Mr. Turner, who was then the Commonwealth Electoral Officer, and chairman of the commission, that that could not be done because there was no suitable place for a polling booth. That was evidently the only excuse the commission could give me. Did anybody ever hear of a more ridiculous reason, if it could be called a reason, for not adopt ing that suggestion? When I suggested that that portion of Darlinghurst subdivision on the northern side of Bayswaterroad be placed in the Wentworth electorate and the subdivision of Foveaux and Surry Hills, be restored to the electorate of East Sydney, the commission told me that one of the reasons why it could not accept my proposal was that Darlinghurst had been in the East Sydney electorate since federation, whereas Foveaux and Surry Hills were added to East Sydney only at a later date. That was in 1948. In 1954, the commission decided to do what was impossible in 1948. It has taken out the whole of the Darlinghurst subdivision, which it said had been in East Sydney since federation, and the subdivisions of Surry Hills and Foveaux now return to the East Sydney electorate. In whatever direction we look in New South Wales, wherever the commission was able to place additional Labour votes in what is already a Labour stronghold it did so, and wherever the commission was able to weaken the hold of a Labour man on a division in which he had only a narrow majority, it did so. Wherever there was some doubt of the return of a Liberal party man or an Australian Country party man, the anti-Labour position has been strengthened, so that in New South Wales to-day we have a series of seats, some of which could be regarded as being strongly held by the Labour party, some by the Liberal party or the Australian Country party and, according to the commission’s report, and according to our examination of the figures, no swinging seats. Let us look at the effect of the commission’s action in removing certain areas from the electorate of East Sydney. The commissioners have taken away from the East Sydney electorate the Darlinghurst subdivision, and added it to the already Liberal party blue-ribbon seat of Wentworth. They have taken Waverley and Waverley South from Phillip and have added North Bondi and part of Rose Bay, which are tory areas, to what was the blue-ribbon Labour constituency of Phillip. That shows conclusively what was happening. They have also taken Coogee and Clovelly from KingsfordSmith a Labour electorate, and added them, to Phillip, which was previously a Labour stronghold. In whatever direction one looks, one finds that the commissioners have used their powers to weaken the hold of Labour . on any of the seats in which they might believe Labour could be beaten. Take as an example the seat of Mitchell, which was regarded as a swinging seat that Labour had some prospects of winning. They have added to it Turramurra from the electorate of Bradfield, and Epping, Pennant Hills and Thornleigh from Parramatta, all tory centres. So that the electorate of Mitchell to-day has been removed by the commission from the category of what might be called border-line seats and made what appears to be a safe electorate for the Liberal party. In regard to this particular aspect of the matter, I point out that when I say they have made it apparently safe for the Liberal party, that is what the commission believes it has done, and what the Government believes the commission has done, but I am perfectly satisfied that when the people realize what the commissioners have done in regard to electoral boundaries in New South Wales, there will be such public resentment that the Liberal party and the Australian Country party might even lose some of the areas in which they now believe they are safe.
The commissioners have abolished two Labour seats in New South Wales, Martin and Grayndler. What is the result- of their action? Here is an amazing situation which shows the partiality of the commission. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. O’Connor) went to interview the commission in regard to the proposed abolition of the Martin electorate. When he put his objection to it to the commission, the chairman of the commission, Mr. Turner, declared that there was no community of interests between the various sections of the Martin electorate. The commissioner talked about Iron Cove being a natural boundary, and said that it was an unnatural arrangement to have the area on both sides of Iron Cove in the same electorate. But the honorable member reminded Mr. Turner that he, Mr. Turner, was the gentleman who had fixed these boundaries for Martin in 1948, However, because it j suited the commissioners now to abolish’, the Labour seat of Martin, the chairman : of the commission now argued that there was no community of interests between the various sections of the existing, electorate. That was the excuse he gave, for undoing what he himself had done in” 1948. Why did they want to get rid of Martin?- It was because they would be able to use the tory end of the Martin electorate, on one side of Iron Cove, to bolster up the electorates of Lowe and Evans, which could be regarded up to that time as being border-line seats. Wherever one looks, the commissioners have carried out this practice. No doubt the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) will have something to say for himself with regard to what the commissioners have done to his electorate. There was in that electorate no regard paid to the natural boundaries. I understand that the commissioners jumped over a river and disregarded railway lines, which on many previous occasions have been considered to be natural boundaries. Let us look at what happened to the electorate of St. George, which is held at the moment by Labour. The commissioners took the subdivisions of Lakemba and Punchbowl away from the already strongly held Labour seat of Banks, and added them to Lang, which was already a good Labour seat, which makes that seat stronger for Labour. They then took Kingsgrove subdivision, which is the tory end of the Lang electorate, away from Lang and added it to St. George, thus making it an extremely doubtful seat for Labour. The Minister shook his head when I said that the commission had strengthened the seats of Lowe and Evans. In the case of Evans, the commissioners have taken the Abbotsford and Drummoyne, and part of the Fivedock, subdivisions from Martin and added them to Evans. They have taken Summer Hill subdivision from the Parkes electorate and also added it to Evans.
In the case of some of the country electorates the same principle has been applied. The electorate of Lawson, which is regarded as a very precarious seat for the honorable member who now holds it for the Australian Country party, has also been materially altered. No doubt the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) knows a great deal about it, because I do not believe all this rubbish to the effect that honorable members do not concern themselves about what the commission does, or make no attempt to influence it. The commissioners took Coonamble out of the Lawson electorate - Coonamble has a Labour majority - and put it into the Darling electorate,” which is already strongly held by labour. By that means they have given the honorable member for Lawson some sort of chance of holding his seat at the next general election. The commissioners have taken from the Robertson electorate the subdivisions of Boolaroo, Speers Point. Swansea, Teralba, Fassifern and Booragull, all places where Labour enjoys a substantial majority, and put them into the Hunter electorate, which is already strongly held by the honorable, member for Hunter (Mr. James). In order to make certain that Robertson will be held by the antiLabour forces, they took the Turramurra subdivision from the existing division of Bradfield and added it to Robertson. Turramurra is one of the tory sections of the existing electorate of Bradfield. “Who has been influencing the commission? According to the Minister who is handling this matter nobody has been attempting to influence the commission. Then why is it that in certain directions the commission’s recommendations have been departed from. It may be regarded by the Minister as being somewhat unimportant, but I think he will agree with me that it is rather strange that in New South Wales, where we made a number of objections to the commission, no heed was taken of them, but in Queensland, where the original boundaries apparently favoured slightly the members of the Labour party, the commissioners did heed the request of the Government and responded to the pressure applied to them. In New South “Wales, as I have said, they completely disregarded the recommendations of the Labour party. I ask the Minister to explain how it comes about that suddenly, after the commission had dealt with the proposed alterations of names and rejected all objections to the naming in the original plan, the
Government on its own initiative decided to accept some of the suggestions made but to reject others. The honorable member for “Watson (Mr. Curtin), the largest part of whose old seat is now to be included in the new Kingsford-Smith electorate, wanted the name of “Watson retained as the name of the new electorate, but his request was not complied with. The electorate of Grayndler was abolished but the commission decided to resurrect the name for another electorate. In the cut-up of the seat 08 per cent, of the existing Parkes division has gone into the new Grayndler seat. Members of the Government are always talking about the importance nf retaining historic name.’ for divisions. If any name should be retained for a seat for historical reasons that name is the name of Cook, the discoverer of this country. But the commissioners have decided to eliminate the name of Cook and have re-named the new Cook electorate, Grayndler. I say in conclusion that if ever there was a gerrymandering of electorates in New South Wales during the history of this Commonwealth, this is it.
.- It is a. peculiarity of this young and growing country that increase and variation in population periodically make necessary a redistribution of electorates. Redistributions have never been accorded the universal support of all the honorable members concerned, but on this occasion we have a rather ironical situation. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who has just resumed his seat, has suggested that gerrymandering has taken place, and has mentioned the electorate of Lawson as one of the electorates affected. I rise to complain, though not against the commissioners, of having been the victim of the recent redistribution. The facts reveal that the very opposite of what the honorable member for East Sydney suggests has taken place.
At the outset, let me say that I resent very strongly the veiled suggestion of the honorable member for East Sydney that I was a party to an attempt to influence the commissioners in my favour. The commissioners gave me the courtesy of an interview. After meeting them, J do not believe that they are the type of men who could be influenced by any one. [ lodged an objection and was granted permission to discuss it with the commissioners, but my objection was not upheld. Indeed, the original proposed redistribution of the Lawson electorate was not altered. I propose now to show how ill-informed and careless of the truth the honorable member for East Sydney is. He mentioned the fact that the subdivision of Coonamble had been removed from the electorate, but did not refer to any other alterations that had taken place. In the subdivision of Coonamble I was down 370 votes, but the redistribution added the subdivision of Kandos, where the vote was 475 against the Government parties, the subdivision of Glen Davis, where the vote was 30 against the Government parties, and the subdivision of Clandulla, where the majority for the Opposition was 40. In short, the commissioners gave me the benefit of 370 votes by taking out Coonamble, but gave me the disability of 540 votes by bringing in Kandos, Glen Davis and Clandulla. So much for the honorable member’s attempt to be clever and his suggestion that the commissioners favoured me in the electorate of Lawson.
I have no complaint to make against the commissioners, but I feel that the act is in need of considerable amendment. I find .myself in substantial agreement with the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme). The’ act gives certain directions to the commissioners as to their duties, but these are not sufficiently specific. When changing population makes a redistribution necessary a census is conducted and a quota established. This immediately suggests to the commissioners that the number of voters in a division is the paramount consideration. U this is so, the other suggestions that are made to them tend to fall into the background. I believe that that was not the original intention of the legislature. The position is confirmed by the reports of electoral commissioners in other States. With one exception they say, “ When framing their proposals your commissioners were guided by section 19 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act which provides . . . “. Honorable members will note that the word “guided “ is used.
Thus, it is reasonable to assume that the commissioners have treated these considerations as not being of primary importance, and have rather attempted to preserve a fairly even number of electors in each division.
I suggested to them - I think quite fairly - that it might be reasonable in an electorate that was preponderantly pastoral and agricultural to consider first the community or diversity of interest, to which the legislature had directed their attention. The act says that they should consider those factors before considering the total numbers in the division, but they intimated to me - and their report confirms this view - that the preservation of equality of numbers was their main consideration. Therefore, we find that though in the metropolitan division their quota is 43,000 they have on the average exercised their power to go slightly above it. la the country electorates, the quota being the same, they have reduced it to an average of something under that figure. The act gives to them a discretionary power to alter the number 20 per cent, either way. I suggested that the inclusion of a mining district in what was preponderantly a pastoral and agricultural electorate could have been easily overcome by exercising the right to use a margin, as was laid down in the act.
Mi-. James. - Which mining districts were included?
– Kandos, Glen Davis and Clandulla.
– They have been closed down. Glen Davis has certainly ceased operations.
– I am sorry that the honorable member is so far behind the times. I think that the citizens of some of these communities would be very surprised to hear what he has said. I understand that Kandos is a vigorous mining district. The commissioners also said -
A number of objections and several suggestions in relation to the proposed distribution were received within the period prescribed by law. Each objection and every suggestion was given full and careful consideration.
That is all that was said about it. The Parliament which is charged with making and amending the law in accordance with the wishes of the people should not allow too- much of its; power to pass into the hands of a commission. The present Commonwealth Electoral Act gives to the commissioners very wide powers.. It gives to them a discretion that I believe the legislature never intended that they should have. Moreover, the commissioners should be directed to report to the Parliament the details- of the objections raised and as. to how the objections were disposed of. It. should not be sufficient for the commissioners to say that they have received certain objections and given them consideration. Such a report would give the Parliament a guide as to the way in which, the act might be altered to meet, more- satisfactorily, the wishes of the people. Undoubtedly that is. one way to find out what the people think.
That brings me to another point. My complaint is that my electorate, which is- predominantly pastoral and agricultural, and which includes some of the richest land and some of the finest sheepBreeding country in New South Wales, has been altered’, in order to gain another l’,O0’0’ electors, By the- elimination of a subdivision here and there and by the addition of a subdivision here and there. The shape of the electorate is now quite different: It embraces different people and different country: I shall get no real political benefit from’ the- alteration. Statistics indicate that I shall gain only about 90 votes. So much for1 the argument of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who has suggested that Lawson is one of the electorates that has been gerrymandered for the benefit of the Australian Country party.
I know that my colleagues from New South Wales will bear me out when I say that the Country party will not gain anything from -the alteration, of boundaries that has taken place.- I should be very glad to retain the people in the subdivision of Coonamble whom I Have lost. They are engaged in the pastoral industry. They may not all vote for- mc, but that does not” matter. Their interests are the same as the interests of the rest of the electors of the old division. Their interests are the interest’s of the pastoral industry.’ Yet we find that, because of this worship! of the god of numbers and because it is believed that numbers must come first, considerations of community of interest and diversity of interest have been more or less by-passed.
There is another point. Should the boundaries of a division be drawn only to include the requisite- number of voters ? Or should they be arranged in such a way as to give the member an opportunity to represent the division properly? 3 suggest that that is a most important consideration in country electorates. I believe that the present slight difference between the numbers of people in. city electorates and in country electorates coul’d be enlarged’ considerably, without inflicting any hardship on city people. I suggest that a city electorate could have 45,000 or 50,000 electors. It could go up to the maximum number, which is 52,000. The member representing such an electorate could visit the electors frequently, even using a tramcar as a means of conveyance. As my friend,, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull’), suggests, he could almost ad’dress; all the electors at one meeting, because none of them would have to travel more than about half a mile. The division of Lawson, under the- new proposals, will have about 41,700 electors: They will be scattered over an area of about 150 miles from1 north to south and about 150’ miles from east to west.
– Not big enough 1
– An honorable member opposite1 says1 it is not big enough. If he were- familiar with that kind of country, he would know that there is no one raitway connecting all the towns in the electorate. Travelling by rail, it would take about a fortnight to go from one end to the other:- If the honorable member knew the electorate, he would realize that there’ are part’s of if which are not served by rail, and which can be reached only by road. A number of my colleagues who represent country electorates are in the same position as I am. They are constantly in their cars’, travelling’ from place to place, trying to keep in touch with their electors. The number of electors’ in country divisions could be considerably smaller, but we- find that, because the principle of numbers is regarded as most important, in the Darling division, for instance, which covers nearly a half of New South Wales, but which is controlled almost entirely by Broken Hill, the. number of electors will be increased from 37,000 to 38,000. A great number of the people in that division, who are engaged in the wool industry, which is the greatest of our pastoral industries, cannot hope to see their parliamentary representative. In fact, I do not suppose they do see him. With all respect to the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark), it would be almost a physical impossibility for him to travel through his electorate and visit all his constituents from time to time. That is why I take exception to the proposal to shift the subdivision of Coonamble from a division in which it got some attention to one in which it cannot hope for very much.
I have said what it was my intention to say. I have pointed out that there has been no attempt - I strongly resent the suggestion that there has been - to gerrymander the division of Lawson in favour of a member of the Government parties. I have shown that that suggestion is entirely contrary to the facts. I go further and say there would be no point in referring this proposed redistribution back to the commissioners. In my view, the blame for anomalies that occur lies, not on the commissioners, but on the act, which does not state specifically the things that the commissioners may do. I believe that the commissioners have done their job conscientiously and honestly. Some of us have suffered and some of us have gained. Under the present act, the commissioners, in my opinion, were bound to do exactly what they did. So I consider that the position should remain as it is.
.- It is obvious from the debate on the redistribution in other States and from the situation in New South Wales, which we are discussing now, that the system of allowing electoral commissioners to chart the boundaries of electoral divisions has completely failed. Not one street of the electorate of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) has been altered, but my electorate has been cut to ribbons. It is an interesting fact, but purely a coincidence, that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has been treated in much the same way as the Minister for the Interior. Yet,, in New South Wales, all the provisions of the act have been not only violated but frustrated, in an attempt to get some new sort of set-up. Whilst we do not. entirely blame the commissioners, we insist that they have lost the ability to resist the pressure of the government of the day in relation to redistributions.. We can prove that that has happened in the case of New South Wales, and the previous debate shows that it has happened in the other States.
The honorable member for’ East Sydney (Mr. Ward) pointed out that there was a gerrymander in New South Wales.. I do not know who is to blame for the gerrymander. I do not say that the commissioners, who were the playthings of the Government,, were entirely responsible, but it is obvious even to a child that strong and consistent pressure was brought to bear on them. Pressure was certainly applied in Queensland,, as the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) has told us,, with beneficial results to members of the Government parties. Pressure was applied in New South Wales early in the piece. The desire of the Government was to submit as complete a map as possible to the Parliament, but if the map did not suit the Government, it would have to be altered.
The position in New South Wales was extremely difficult, owing to a shift of population. An extraordinary thing had happened. In New South Wales, two seats in the near-metropolitan area were to be eliminated and, as a replacement, one seat was to be created in an outer suburban area. One would have thought that the commissioners, Mr. Turner, Mr. Howard and the Surveyor-General of New South Wales, would have approached this new, difficult and serious problem with a greater appreciation of what had to be done than that with which they did approach it. They decided that they could not go into the sea, so they worked from the first available electorate on the eastern seaboard. They tumbled the numbers in willy-nilly, with no real appreciation of what was happening. Before they had finished decanting numbers from one seat to another, they were faced with the proposition that in the inner suburbs of Sydney alone they had a surplus of 10,000 votes that rightly belonged to the second division of the Labour party in the electorates to the west of the eastern suburbs, and which were not used. That is a gerrymander; that is a failure to appreciate the use of numbers; that is using the numbers that ure aggregated in one section in order to prevent them from having any use. Will any one tell me, or any other member representing an electorate in New South Wales, that once one gets to the suburb of Marrickville, all interest in the Labour party ceases, and there is an arid desert between that and the suburb of Strathfield. Of course, it- is all completely wrong, and because the commissioners, either because of intimidation, fear and incompetence, have made a shocking mess of the redistribution in New South Wales we shall be faced with the position that we will have a majority of seats as usual, but on the percentage, we should have had two or three more seats that are at least winnable by. the use of the 10,000 surplus tied up in the inner seats.
Let us examine the position when we went to the country twelve months ago. Then there were in the metropolitan area the swing seats of Robertson, Mitchell, Lowe and Evans, and in the country, Lawson. But where are they to-day? They are fortresses. They have been built up with numbers which do not belong to them and I say that no commissioner or group of commissioners, or no government working on the commissioners, under pressure, should forget that there is a provision in the Commonwealth Electoral Act which reads as follows : - in making any proposed distribution of a State into Divisions the Distribution Commissioners shall give due consideration to -
Community or diversity of interest,
I would say, and I am supported by every member from New South Wales who sits on this side of the House, that in every case, this was ignored, and was completely thrown overboard. For years, I. have been talking to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes), and the electoral officers about the Cook’s River boundary. I am bounded by railway, lines and rivers, and I have been imprisoned within that crude stockade for many years. When I have asked that I be allowed, because of community of interests, to cross the river, the electoral commission has been horrified at such a suggestion. The hide-bound public servants said, “ You cannot do that ; there is a river there “. I said, “ What about this side?” They said, “You cannot do that; there is a tram line there “. I said, “ I want to go this way “. They said, “You cannot do that; there is a Liberal constituency there “. So in the circumstances the House can see what has happened. The result of their horrible maps is something which looks like an aboriginal carving in Arnhem Land. Everything is twisted, torn and convoluted to suit the government of the day. The rock carvings of Arnhem Land have nothing in comparison with the electoral map of New South Wales. The mapmakers have leapt over rivers, dredged under tunnels, raced around forests, and ripped up tram lines in order to get the requisite numbers. There has not been any fairness. If the Minister examines the map, he will see that it looks like a drawing by a surrealist French artist suffering from absinthe nightmare. Just look at it! It is a piece of cartographic horror that no one would believe was conceived in the mind of man as electorates in which men must live. I hear the Minister interjecting. I am aware that he does not know much about art, but he must know something about pressure. T should not say that of him. He is an honorable man indeed, but something has gone wrong with the system of assessing these things. If it works out, in the final analysis, that we have the numbers and not the seats, and, again, if it works out, in the final analysis, that the natural boundaries and the other provisions of the act have been ignored, the Government has a case to answer. In 1949, we were charged with having committed all the crimes of the calendar in relation to the redistribution in New South Wales, lt worked to the interests of the government of the day, because there was a swing against this Government.
– The Labour party did not think so at the time.
– The Minister knows what Bernard Shaw said. He said, ‘What I thought in 1928 and what I think in 1952 are different things. The whole of a man’s human elements change, and the scoundrel in 1948 is not the man f am referring to to-day “.
The story in relation to the redistribution of the seats is one of an ironclad gerrymander. Let us see what has happened to the seats. There are 10,000 Labour voters who belong to other areas, but they have been cut up in an “ overplus “ of numbers. It was decided thai there should be a quota of 43,000. Would not one expect, unless there was some reason why one could not do it, that the commissioners would get within 500 or 600 of the quota, but instead, the 46,000 voters were retained in the crowded inner suburbs. By doing that over six electorates, we trap 10,000 votes belonging to the Labour party which should flow out to the other electorates. That is a gerrymander. That is an illustration of the electoral commission not daring to brave the Government that orders it to do those things, or suggest them. So we at once have a problem.
Let us examine the position which developed in relation to the elimination of the seat of Martin. Everybody knows that no honorable member is more devoted to his electorate than is the honorable member for Martin (Mr. O’Connor). Despite his personal representations to the chairman of the commission, ho was brushed aside. Nobody did anything about the matter. He was told that the boundaries were practical and that community of interest must be preserved. The commissioners in New South Wales have breasted rivers, and have swum across Cook’s River in respect of my seat and have taken me right out in the hinterland. The only advantage is that my seat now borders the electorate of my revered leader, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt).
Then, because of Iron Cove, which is a small bay and one of the indentations of Sydney Harbour, the people living on the other point are considered to have no community of interest with the Australians living within sight of them on the other side. It is to be taken from the electorate of Martin, and put into Evans, which is also adjacent to my electorate. While it is adjacent to my seat, it will always be in danger of Labour infiltration. The same position applies to the seat of Lowe, a section of which I formerly represented. In order to strengthen it, the boundaries have been taken across the main arterial road of Parramatta and out towards Homebush. Those areas which are capable of carrying some Liberal votes are strengthening the vote in each case. That is the position in New South Wales, and it should not be so. Whenever there ‘has been an opportunity to strengthen the vote of ;i Liberal candidate, that has been done.
My friend and colleague, the honorable .member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler), has fought a seat similar to my own, in an electorate which is known as a “ swinger “. Suddenly, he is faced with an. embarrassment of riches. He represented the poultry-farming area of Blacktown and St. Mary’s, and he did mightily to retain his seat at the last election. Suddenly, he has stepped across the Hornsby railway line and finds himself in Turramurra and the tony suburb of Warrawee. He is embarrassed by his new riches. In fact, those electors are not the ones he has handled previously, and I do not know how he will get on with them, because he is a tough citizen. The votes will be there in abundance, and the riches are greater than he expected. But the boundaries do not belong to the electorate of Mitchell. I make it plain that I am not saying anything about the members concerned. If they have a better deal than before, good luck to them ! I am talking about the general distribution. Representatives of electorates in Queensland have given the example of how a town was put into an electorate, was pulled out, was put back, and was pulled out again by the ingenuity of the local mayor and a petition vamped up to meet the situation. If that is not a.n example of gerrymandering and pressure tactics, I should like to know what is.
I shall make some reference now to the Robertson electorate. As the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) well knows, a lot of coal-miners live in the top end of the Robertson seat. Those coal-miners provide Labour votes in plenty. But the required composition of the Robertson electorate had to be obtained. All of those coal-miners disappeared from Robertson, and it became a classy Liberal electorate in which a Labour candidate will not have a chance of success. The entire top of the Robertson seat has been given to the Hunter electorate, which has Labour votes in teeming numbers and does not require those that have been taken from Robertson to make that seat safe for the present member, who supports the Government. There is no honesty or decency in these methods. Governmentheld seats have been made firmly Liberal, and only Labour electorates have been weakened for the sitting members.
A Government Supporter. - Tell us about Hunter.
– I refer not to Hunter, but to Robertson, and now to St. George, which the present member, with great strength and vitality, has wrested from the Government. One would expect the consciences of the distribution commissioners and of supporters of the Government to be troubled at their treatment of the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Lemmon) who has repeatedly struggled to win the St. George seat. I suppose that they have thrown 2,000 or 3,000 Liberal votes -into the electorate to make sure that the present member, except by his ingenuity, does not escape defeat, and, as a result of these complications, the electorate will now become a swing seat.
I shall now say something about Parkes. I hate to refer to a personal infirmity. My electorate has been butchered and has lost all semblance of its previous character. Since federation, “ Parkes “ has been an honoured name in this House, because it commemorates one of “the fathers of federation. Similarly, the electorate of Cook has honoured the name of one of the dis coverers of Australia, whose voyages of discovery made possible our presence here this evening. Under pressure, not from the commissioners, but from the Government, the Cook seat has been eliminated and the Grayndler electorate has been superimposed upon it.
– The distribution commissioners did not ask that that be done.
– No, but somebody with greater power than the commissioners asked for it; because I asked the commissioners to consider why the Cook electorate should not in future be called Parkes. The new Parkes seat, which, like Lawson’s hero, has breasted rivers, run through tunnels and gone across, away and apart, is not the old seat of Parkes which I have represented for twelve years.
– Which of the two seats will the honorable member have ?
– I shall give the honorable member that information in due course. I do not think it will be of much use to him. The point is that 68 per cent, of the electors of the present Parkes seat and six of the local Labour branches will now be in a part of the former electorate of Cook, to make the electorate now to be called Grayndler.
The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) has not had a hair of his political head disturbed. He appears immaculate and is the great untouchable of the electoral reform. Similarly, not a street of his leader’s electorate has been disturbed. Apparently no one should be drawn away from the .orbit of Kooyong because such an event would be too terrible to contemplate. As a consequence, the electorate of Kooyong has been left entirely alone. In contrast, the struggle seats of the Australian Labour party in New South Wales have been chopped to pieces. Is one not entitled to think that the redistribution is a gerrymander, and to say, upon looking .at the cave-man drawings, which I present to the Minister, that there is something wrong, and that they do not come anywhere near observing the requirements of the Commonwealth Electoral Act? What is the inevitable conclusion? It is that the present system of redistribution is not only unfair but also incompetent, and that new methods are needed. I do not know what those methods should be, but new methods should be ‘considered. The chairman of the distribution commissioners in New South Wales was a retired civil ‘servant. Is it possible that pressure was brought to bear upon him? ft’ is a most remarkable thing that, in the redistribution initiated by the Labour Government in 1948, that gentleman created all the anomalies that now terrify him. It appears, when one considers the matter fairly, that he is capable of being frightened by the other side of politics, [f that is so, he is not the sort of man who should be called upon to subdivide a State and to adjust electoral boundaries. The principles laid down in the act have not been applied in this redistribution; and some -other formula for redistributing electoral boundaries should be adopted.
The position in country electorates is equally as odd as is that in the city electorates. The honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) spoke aptly when he stated that it is not sufficient for the commissioners to state that they have done this and that, and that he would like to see the evidence, the submissions that were placed before the distribution commissioners, the protests that were made, and the reasons for them. The Parliament, with all the powers of a Parliament available to it, should be able to consider and sift the evidence before -the plan is presented as a. fait accompli. A redistribution of electoral boundaries is made in the following manner:: - Some -‘one gets a lot :of -numbers and throws them into various areas, which are delineated by my ‘Cave-man drawings. The result is then presented to the Parliament. Every one is horrified; so the commissioners give the matter further consideration. When they do so, mem’bers of the Parliament rush to them and say, “ When you are re-drawing the electoral boundaries, I should like this area and that area to be included in my -electorate “. Honorable members know as well as I do that that sort of thing happens. However, the discipline of the Government has exerted itself. It has created the major gerrymander of the century. It will, of course, rebound against it in due course, as all gerrymanders inevitably do.
In passing, I should like to mention the shocking examples of what happened in Queensland, and in Victoria, to which I have ‘already referred, where those people who are regarded as the sacred cows of the electoral system have been preserved, and others will become struggle bugs in the new fight to obtain a seat in the next Parliament. Apparently, the next Parliament will be elected very soon.
Mir. Kent Hughes. - The honorable member has mixed his metaphors by talking about untouchables and sacred cows.
Mi:. HAYLEN. - You can take your choice of metaphors. It means the same thing.
-Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I listened with very deep regret to the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who condemned the umpires for the decisions that have been made. I do not adopt a “ holier-than-thou “ attitude. However, in 35 .years of political life I have had to suffer all sorts of subdivisions and revisions of electoral boundaries. I cannot recall that I have once appealed against a decision of the umpires. Sometimes they nearly put me out of Parliament and sometimes, perhaps, they helped me to remain in. The honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) stated that if there is any fault in the present proposals, it arises because of the directions that are given to the distribution commissioners in the Commonwealth Electoral Act rather than from any active default on the part .of the commissioners or any sin of commission by them. That is. the cause of the objections that have been raised. I cannot imagine that one could possibly obtain complete acceptance by all members of the House of any division or subdivision of electorates. It might be possible to achieve such a result by the appointment of a judge with assessors chosen from the ranks of the members of the Parliament and representative of the main parties, to assist him. Every party, including the Anti.Communist Labour party would have to be represented.
I wish to discuss the redistribution from a somewhat different angle than that from which it has been approached by other honorable members. First, I wish to discuss it from the point of view that was touched upon, but not fully developed by, the honorable member for Lawson. Section 19 of the act, to which the commissioners refer on page 4 of their report, requires them to give due consideration to matters, such as com:munity or diversity of interest, means of communication, physical features, the existing boundaries of divisions and subdivisions, and State electoral boundaries. Subject to those considerations, the quota of electors shall be the basis for the distribution, and the distribution commissioners may adopt a margin of allowance, to be used whenever necessary, but in no case shall the quota be departed from to a greater extent than one-fifth more or one-fifth less.
On the first page of the report it is stated that the commissioners were duly informed that the permissible maximum number of electors in a division is 52,17S, and that the minimum permissible number is 34,786, which allows for a difference, before these limits are exceeded, of 17,392 or, for convenience, 17,400, between the maximum permissible and the minimum permissible number. The average number of electors for the 23 electorates in the Sydney metropolitan area is 44,975. In respect of the extrametropolitan areas, which cover 23 electorates, the average number of electors is 41,990. In bringing about this distribution, the commission, in my opinion, has not had full regard to the circumstances which have arisen in regard to the far-flung areas of the State, which comprise 309,000 square miles. I do not wish to make any reflection on the commissioners when I invite the attention of the House to the fact that 23 members have been allotted to 240 square miles of the State and that 23 members have been allotted to another 309,000 square miles. The limit of absurdity and a point of political unbalance has been reached in this state of affairs.
The figures that I have cited emphasize the tremendous danger that confronts this country from the concentration of popu-
Iation which has resulted in 23 members being allotted to an area of 240 square miles. If honorable members will consider that one hydrogen bomb could wipe out the whole of that area, together with between 50 per cent, and 70 per cent, of the manufacturing industries of Australia, they will have some idea of the danger that we face from this maldistribution of population. What relevance has that fact to the distribution of electorates? It has this relevance: Every honorable member in this House is expected to represent an electorate which has sent him to the Parliament because it considers that he understands its problems. Each honorable member is expected to take that action which will bring the maximum benefit to his electorate. 1 presume that it is the operation of that principle that will result in one electorate having an atom bomb target worth £23,000,000 constructed within its boundaries. If any honorable member eschews that principle he ceases to represent his electorate. It is only in times of great crisis, such as war or a national disaster, that people will allow their representatives’ attention to transcend the boundaries of their electorates and permit him to act in the national interest. My complaint against this distribution of electoral divisions is that the commission has not given full consideration to the final provision of section 4 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. It has not considered the enormous difficulties involved in 23 men representing 309,000 square miles instead of 240 square miles.
I know that honorable members on either side of the House may say that I am advocating the representation of gum trees, or sheep, or land, and not the representation of people. But the representation of an electorate which covers one twenty-third part of 240 square miles is a mere bagatelle compared to the representation of my electorate which used to equal the area of Holland and Belgium combined and which, under the proposed redistribution of electoral boundaries will be equal to the area of those two countries with the addition of Denmark. There can be no equality of representation under circumstances such as those. The honorable member for Lawson (Mr.
Failes) represents an area which is not very rich and which i3 equal to the area of Holland and Belgium combined. The representatives of country areas must realize that the representation of the people for whom they speak in the Parliament is being encroached upon. According to the report, at page 5, 23 metropolitan divisions have 1,034,433 electors and the extra-metropolitan divisions have 965,776 electors. But that is not the whole story. A considerable proportion of the metropolitan area is included in certain extra-metropolitan electorates, such as Werriwa, Mitchell and Robertson. For all intents and purposes, the actual population that is concentrated around the capital city of Sydney is very much greater than is indicated in the report. It appears to me that, unless we try to make the minimum representation applicable to the areas outside the metropolitan area result in a better distribution of voting power in New South Wales, the position in that State will be a menace, not only to New South Wales itself, but to the balance of representation throughout Australia.
Suggestions have been put forward as t.o how the present position may be altered, for example, by the creation of new self-governing areas. I cannot speak on that subject now. But I consider that the principle of electing ten senators from each State and an increasing number of senators in the ratio of one to two members of this House will result in an appalling absurdity. Because of the wisdom of early Australian statesmen, the equality of State representation in another place has enabled the establishment of a balance against the monstrous kind of representation to which I have referred. We can be very grateful indeed that, under a federal Constitution, the less populous States retain that safeguard, which they would lose if they were to come under unified control.
In referring to this subject to-night, I want to deal with the broader aspect of it. I can sympathize with honorable members whose majorities have been pruned. I have never experienced the disappearance of a division that I represented, but I have experienced the pruning of my majority. But surely we should be able to approach this matter from the national point of view as well. I agree with the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) when he stated that, unless we tackle the problem with the desire to effect a better .distribution of population and a better distribution of the voting power, we shall simply continue to add, not only to the danger to which the people in capital cities are exposed from atomic bombing, but also to the social misery that always accompanies the development of great cities.
It is extraordinary that we have not been able to obtain sufficient constructive ability, and sufficient vision on the part of governments, past and present, to secure the best brains in the country to plan the building of new cities in this great wide space of Australia. We want population, and we want houses for the people. Let us plan the erection of houses away from the danger associated with the present concentration of population. If that were done, the work of the commissioners would be easier. The Parliament could make their work easier by including in its legislation greater clarity of direction and by instructing them to give to the country areas, not of New South Wales, but of Australia as a whole, the representation that they are at present denied and which, to a certain degree, is largely ignored even in the proposals before the House. There is very little difference between the average representation that is provided for the city electoral divisions and that which is provided for the country divisions. The difference amounts to fewer than 3,000 electors, instead of 17,000 electors which, under the act, can be provided as a minimum.
Other than in relation to the matters that I have raised, I accept the redistribution as being fair and reasonable, although I think the commissioners could have interpreted their directions rather more liberally. As far as the division that I represent is concerned, I have, by reason of the nature of the country, had the icing put on the cake. The area that I represent has been made larger. When I entered the New South Wales Parliament_ 35 years ago, the boundary of the division that I represented was 90 miles south of Brisbane. This’ redistribution of federal divisions, has taken me back to the spot at which I began. Surely it is one of the extraordinary things of this country that I should be representing a New South Wales division, the boundary of which is only 90 miles from the capital of Queensland, which in- turn is nearly 2,000 miles from the Stated extremity.
.- I am greatly interested, in the proposed redistribution of electoral divisions. This i3 only the second occasion on which, during the time that I have been a member of the Parliament, I have been present when a redistribution has been considered. I was absent from the House, following an accident, when the redistribution of 1948 was considered’. In 1948:, the commissioners mutilated the Hunter division, and out of it established almost three new constituencies. They were the division of Paterson, part of the division of Robertson, and almost the- whole- of the division of Shortland. I said at that time that I would’ have objected to the formation of the division of Paterson, Because its boundaries were actually the boundaries of the old division of Hunter. The first division of Hunter was represented by Mr. Edmund Barton, who l’ater became Sir Edmund Barton- and who- was the first Prime Minister of Australia. Let me make it clear that the South Maitland coal-fields had not been developed at that time. The division of Hunter was won by my predecessor, Mr. Matt. Charlton, in 1910’, and it has been held by Labour ever since’.
I say that there is gerrymandering, in the redistribution of seats because of what happened on that occasion. The original division of Hunter was regarded as being a metropolitan division. Actually, it covered a greater area than did the’ division of Paterson. Although I had to travel a considerable distance within the division, I received an allowance of only £400 a year, which was the allowance applicable to a metropolitan division. That was because of the fact that it was well populated. But I had to travel up as far as Allandale, over the top of Maitland, then into my electorate again through Allandale, Greta and Branxton, and up towards Singleton. On the other hand, the Robertson division took Boolaroo,. Speer’s Point, and a couple of other places out of the division of Hunter. As the division of Robertson was* what might be described as a peculiar seat for the Liberal party to win, Boolaroo,. Speer’s Point and various other places have been re-included in the Hunter division. The people resident in those parts voted for Labour. Mind you, there were a few Communist’s there, too! Make no error about that! The Communists, rather than give their votes to Labour, gave them to the “ red Dean”. The- honorable member for Robertson (Mr; Dean)1 was referred to as the “ red Dean “ because he came in on the red preference vote. However, yon believe me-
-Order ! The honorable member must address the Chair.
– The preferences of the Communists in Hunter have never to be counted,, because I generally win by an absolute- majority. The Communist candidates- lose their deposits.. My scrutineers have said, to me, “ It is a good job that you do: win, because if you did not, the Communists would put in. the Liberal party candidate in. preference to you
The gerrymandering, of electorates, is definitely not fair. I do not- know the commissioners. I do not know the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for New South Wales; I have1 never had occasion to go to him.. The commissioners have not hurt me. They cannot hurt me. They cannot hurt old Rowley,, because I shall always be returned. When the commissioners are prepared to listen to approaches by members of the Parliament, it is not fair. I do not remember much of what happened during 1948 and 1949, but I do remember that just before my accident the late- Mr. Chifley was approached by a member of the Parliament with a view to having part of the Hunter division taken into the Robertson division. He said, “I have never approached anybody on this matter “. That was-‘ Mr. Chifley’s attitude to it. Nevertheless,. Boolaroo, Speer’s Point, and Booragul were excluded from my electorate and included in the Robertson electorate. But they are now being included in the Hunter electorate’ again - not that I wanted them back. That proves that there has been gerrymander- ing of the redistribution. Of coarse; I will admit that the return of thosesubdivisions to my electorate will make it more compact, because the1 Singleton end and the end of the lake towards Swansea have been taken out of Hunter. The
Subdivisions of Charlestown, Belmont, Kahibah, Kotara, and Branxton have also been taken from my electorate; Branxton has been transferred to the electorate of Paterson, and the other four subdivisions have been transferred to the electorate of Shortland; none of them was included in the: Robertson electorate.
The honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) asserted that Paterson was a metropolitan electorate.
– I did not’ say that.
– I make it. clear that Paterson was never a metropolitan electorate, although it will be now. Quite definitely, it has always been a country seat. Indeed, it was situated north of the Hunter River. The boundary of Paterson used to join the boundary of the electorate of Hunter near Singleton, and then proceed in a northerly direction up-country as far as Merriwa. Now, however, it will lie in the general direction of the metropolitan area, which will make the electorate of Paterson a trueblue Liberal electorate. I admit,, readily, that these alterations will make the electorate of Hunter stronger from the point of view of Labour. I am not squealing about the proposals in relation to Hunter, although, from Labour’s point of view, Hunter could have afforded to lose the subdivisions of Boolaroo, Speer’s Point, and Booragul in order to give Labour a chance to capture the Robertson seat. Who has done this? The commissioners, of course! I think they have been approached. As we know, the commissioners were required to give due consideration to community or diversity of interests. I admit that Labour contested the 1949 general election on the issue of community of interest, or the effect of that factor on the electoral redistribution of that year. I used to travel as far as Greta and Singleton in order to pick up a couple of miners. I also travelled to
Cockle Creek, Boolaroo, and Speer’s- Point in order to pick up a couple of miners near Belmont. Although it was necessary for me: to travel over considerable distances in the interests of my electors”, I was not given a country member’s allowance; I received! only the metropolitan electorate allowance of £400. That was grossly unfair. I hope that the attention of. the commissioners will be directed to my remarks;
Insufficient consideration has been given to the electorate of Paterson.I am democratic enough to acknowledge that Sir’ Edmund Barton played a great partin the bringing about of federation. He was Australia’s first Prime Minister andhisname has very fittingly been given to the electorate represented by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). I contend that the electorate of Paterson should have been renamed Hunter. However, at the time that the name of the electorate was chosen, I was unable to protest because I was sick and in hospital.
The Hunter River does not run through the electorate of Hunter which I represent, and not even the territory in that area is known as “ The Hunter “. Oddly enough, the Hunter River runs through the electorate of Paterson. If the Parliament considers that electorates should be named after people who have done some good for Australia, I consider that the electorate of Hunter should be renamed David, in honour of Professor David who discovered coal in the area. I urge the Government to consider the suggestions I have made in respect of the renaming of the electorates of Paterson and Hunter. Hunter is a coal seat - there is only coal in the electorate now, although at one time wool and wheat were grown there.
The electorate of Cook has been mentioned. Surely that name should be retained as the name of an electorate, in honour of Captain Cook who discovered Australia. It is not enough that there should be memorials to Captain Cook in various places. It is proposed to rename certain electorates. Why should not the electorate of Macquarie which was. represented, in this Parliament by the late Right Honorable J. B. Chifley for many years, be called Chifley instead of the name that has been recommended by the commissioners ? After all, a number of electorates have been named after former Prime Ministers. The most recent example of the application of that policy is the electorate of Hughes.
I am glad that the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean) is present in the House to hear me say that I consider that there has been gerrymandering in respect of the boundaries of the electorate that he represents. The commissioners should be like you, Mr. Speaker - irreproachable. I emphasize that I have never approached any people who are connected with the redistribution of electoral boundaries, and I do not intend to do so. I do not think it right that anybody should be able to approach them. As I have said, the result of this redistribution will be to make the electorate of Robertson a true-blue Liberal electorate, in which Labour will have no chance. When he is out the “ red Dean “ will have no chance of getting again the Communist preferences that he had at Boolaroo. I have lived a life in which I have never had to approach anybody. You, Mr. Speaker, are irreproachable. I have never sought favours from you, but I thank you for giving me a hearing without calling me to order.
.- Before the House deals with the question of redistribution as it affects New South Wales, I should like to add a few words to what has been said. I was interested to hear what honorable members opposite had to say with regard to the allegation of gerrymandering. I think that I have some understanding of what the term means. If there has been any gerrymandering it has been very inadequately done in my own electorate. It is mo3t unfortunate that redistributions of this kind have to cover entire States. Quite obviously, with the transposition of population from time to time, federal divisions will alter in their respective numerical strengths, and certain features of redistribution will have to be carried out in the normal course of events, but as soon as anything of the kind is attempted, every electorate in the State seems to be involved to some degree. In a great many instances, the involvement is neither necessary nor justified. Riverina is, perhaps, a classic example. When the first proposed redistribution was made public, I was horrified to find that, although the total electoral strength was well within the range between maximum and minimum, the proposed redistribution added no less than 160 miles to the length of an electorate which was then more than 300 miles long. I considered that it was my duty to draw the commissioner’s attention to that very grave disability which had been superimposed on the electors of Riverina. They immediately saw the folly of their initial proposals and altered them to some degree.
In the Riverina there is and always has been a complete community of interest, and it is a very serious thing if some sections of the Riverina are excised from the electorate which covers that traditional locality. That is what has happened in this instance and, in my humble opinion, it serves no useful purpose whatsoever except to approximate some sort of condition of mathematical perfection. In simple terms, the commissioners have taken 270 electors right out of Riverina.
– What happened to them ?
– I shall tell the honorable gentleman where they have gone, if he will compose himself. They have taken 270 electors out of Riverina. That would have been justified had the number of electors been in excess of the maximum permitted under the electoral laws. It might have been justified had the number been near the maximum, but that was not the position. It was some 10,000 below the maximum, yet the commissioners interfered with the community of interest by taking 270 electors out of Riverina and putting them into the federal division of Farrer. If the number of electors in Farrer were below the minimum prescribed by the electoral laws, or even if the number’ had been near the minimum, there would have been some justification for that, but neither condition applied. Farrer, like Riverina, was well within the range, but the commissioners interfered with the community of interests of both electorates, serving no useful purpose except to bring Farrer 270 votes closer to parity with the other electorates. I consider that that is an entirely unnecessary feature, and it interferes materially with she community of interest of both electorates.
That is not all. They altered again the geography of Riverina. Having taken 270 electors out of Riverina, they said, “ We must give twenty back,” so they went to my friend, the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse), took twenty of his electors and included them in Riverina. If the federal division of Calare cannot carry an additional twenty electors, it seems to me to be a pitiable state of affairs. I am quite happy to have those twenty electors, but a movement of that description is entirely unnecessary in a redistribution of this kind, f suggest that when redistributions are contemplated in the future, some consideration should be given to the proposition that, where alterations of boundaries on sound lines cannot be justified for numerical reasons, the divisions should not, be interfered with in any way. If it were necessary on any account at all to alter the boundaries of Riverina, I should have no objection, but alteration cannot be justified on any account; it is an entirely unnecessary interference with the traditional boundaries of the electorate, and I now take this opportunity of expressing that degree of dissatisfaction with the redistribution.
Motion (by Mr. Kent Hughes) put -
That the question he now put.
The bells having been rung, and Mr. Speaker having ordered the doors to be locked.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. Some honorable members have entered the chamber since you ordered the doors to be locked.
-Order! If honorable members have entered the House after I ordered the locking of the doors, they must retire. There will be no question about that. Once I order the doors to be locked nobody shall enter the House.
– They were in the House.
– Order! I saw four honorable members come in.
– I rise to order.
– Order ! There is no point of order involved.
– The honorable member for Grey (Mr. Russell) was going 0U and he could not get out. He was nol coming in.
– Order ! I ordered the locking of the doo2-s and I have since seen four honorable members enter on my left, after those doors were ordered to be locked. There is only one thing to be done.
– Mr. Speaker-
– Order! There is u… point of order.
– It is not a point of order. It is a question of the realities of what happened. You were about to put the question and you did not know anything about what happened until your attention was drawn to it.
– Order ! I saw four honorable members come in.
– Then why were yon proceeding to put the question?
– Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney will noi argue with the Chair. I ask four honorable members to retire from the chamber. They, themselves, know perfectly well who they are.
– Who are they, if you saw them?
– Order! The four honorable gentlemen know perfectly well who they are.
– Do I understand, Mr. Speaker, that you regard me as one of the persons concerned.
– Yes, I do.
– I was half-way down the steps of the corridor when you, Mr. Speaker, appointed the tellers. I honestly believe, and am firmly convinced, in fact, that I was in the chamber before the order was given to lock the doors.
– You were not inside.
– I believe I was.
– I clearly saw the honorable gentleman come in while I was actually putting the question.
– When you were actually putting the question I was coming down the steps of the aisle dividing the Opposition benches, and was at the seat where the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) is now sitting, on the benches immediately behind the Opposition front bench.
Mi’. Pollard. - Mr. Speaker, was I another one of the members concerned?
– May I suggest, sir, that you do not know, because you were putting the question, and then somebody said that some honorable members had come in after the bells had ceased to ring. That is all I object to. If I was one of those who came in after the bells ceased to ring, then I shall willingly retire; but [ could not have come in after the bells ceased to ring, because the doors were locked when the bells ceased to ring. You may name me, if you like, Mr. Speaker, if you think that I ‘am wrong, but I say that you do not know .the facts, and I challenge you on that account.
– May I suggest, Mr. Speaker, in view of the doubt that is in the minds of honorable members as to whether they were out or in, and since you have left the matter entirely to them to decide, that you now allow the count to continue. Whatever steps you may decide to adopt on such future occasions, I am sure that you will accept the assurance of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) and the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) that they would not do anything dishonorable or walk into this House and record a vote that they were not entitled to record. I asked the honorable member for Bendigo if he thought he was not in the House, and if so, in those circumstances, would he retire. He said, “ I feel I was in the House”. I make the suggestion that in those circumstances the count could be continued.
– This matter affects one of the most jealously guarded privileges of the House. I do not know what honorable members were in the chamber, or what honorable members came into the chamber after you gave the order to lock the doors. What I do know is that that door on your left at the top of the gangway was not locked when you gave the order for the doors to be locked. I also know that, when. you had got half-way through putting the question,, that door was still open and members werestill coming into the chamber. I am not aware of the number of membersconcerned. As I have said, this affects a most jealously guarded privilege of thisHouse when divisions are being taken,, and a breach of it could well mean thecarrying of a resolution, or motion, that might otherwise not be carried, and, indeed, might well mean the fall of a government. A breach of the privilege could well affect many other matters associated with the business of the House. I, for one, would not be a party to establishing a precedent by condoning the entry of members into the House after you have given the order that the doors be locked.
– I rise to order-. Should it .not be the practice, before any of the doors are locked, for all the doors to be allowed to remain open so that honorable members who are outside the chamber when the bells are ringing may enter by the door that is closest to them? The door in the annexe slightly behind you on -the left is always locked before the bells have ceased to ring. Honorable members are therefore obliged to come along the lobby a greater distance in order to enter by the door at the top of the gangway. If the door in the annexe were kept open until -the bells ceased to ring, a member who had any doubt about getting into the chamber by the centre door before the bells ceased to ring, would have plenty of time to come in the annexe door. I also remind you, Mr. Speaker, that where there is doubt about a matter, it should be resolved in the favour of a member -or members ‘of the House.
– Mr. Speaker, if my memory in relation to procedure is correct, your predecessor, Mr. Rosevear ruled on one occasion that a member may move to his .seat up .to the time at which the Speaker names the ‘tellers. If my memory is correct in that respect, then the honorable members whose presence in the chamber is in question are in order in being here.
– I may be able, Mr. Speaker, to throw a little light on the matter.. I admit that there was some confusion, but only because the Opposition Whip, the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) reminded the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Russell) that he, the honorable member for Grey, had been paired with the Minister, for Health (Sir Earle Page). That happened just as the bells were about to cease ringing. The honorable member for Grey hurriedly left his seat to make an exit from the chamber, and pushed the door open against the attendant. By the time the doors were closed the other honorable members were inside the House. As far as I know,, the attendant could not lock the door because . the honorable member for Grey was pushing his way out. I think that that is the real source of the misunderstanding about this whole business. I believe that the honorable members concerned were in the chamber and were pushed aside in the confusion. I think that that is what actually happened after the Whip had mentioned to the honorable member for Grey that he was under an obligation not to vote because he was paired with the Minister for Health.
– The point that I should like to raise, Mr. Speaker, is this: I assume, that providing none of the honorable gentlemen supposedly involved in this incident admits that he is at fault, and retires from the chamber, the attendant concerned would necessarily be dealt with quite severely, and I should like-
– Rubbish! The attendant does not come into it. You need not try to frame the attendant.
– What I am suggesting is that the honorable gentlemen who are involved should, from a sense- of straightout decency, retire forthwith.
– While the bells were ringing, Mr. Speaker, and just as you were about to say, “ Lock the doors “, the attendant came to the honorable member for Grey - I watched him do so - and spoke to< him. I thought he was’ inform ing the honorable member for Grey that he was wanted on the telephone. The honorable member for’ Grey rose from his seat and rushed to the door. The honorable member’ for Grey is bigger than I am. I saw other honorable members around the door trying to get in while the honorable member for Grey was trying to get out. You spoke just after that. So, I do not know whether the honorable members were outside or not when you said “ Lock the doors “. I believe that they were trying to get in. before the doors were locked, but could not get in because of the struggle with the honorable member for Grey.
– Order ! I have heard quite a discussion on this matter. This is a situation for which, in my twenty years of parliamentary experience, I can remember no exact precedent. However, it is a firm rule of this House that, with the locking of the doors, no member shall enter the chamber-
– They cannot get in if the doors are locked.
– Order ! There is a rule that the Speaker shall be heard in silence. The rule that no member may enter the chamber after the doors have been ordered to be locked must be strictly enforced, regardless of who is locked out or who is locked in. Furthermore, the facts are that the honorable member for Grey (M>r. Russell) has not gone through the door. He is in the gallery. I think it would be a very good rule, in future, if we carried out what any ordinary parliament would do, and that is, that if any honorable member is inside the doors he must vote. If members wish to avoid voting, they should be outside the doors altogether; and for the future, I say quite frankly that we shall’ have to arrange for the staff of messengers to guard all the doors. There are seven doors to this chamber. Five of them are left open for use by honorable gentlemen on entering or leaving the chamber, and I think that that number is really quite sufficient. There are two doors which are locked immediately because there are not enough attendants on duty in the chamber to look after them. I do not think that the circumstances of the House as we know them justify employment of more attendants. As I have said,
I am at a loss for any precedent in this case and I feel that I have no alternative but to proceed with the division.For the future, however, I want it to be clearly understood that the two doors on my left and right will not be open at any time during divisions, and that the other five doors will be open. If any honorable members wish to avoid voting in the future, until the House instructs me otherwise, they will have to get outside of the chamber altogether.
Motion (by Mr. Kent Hughes) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. ( Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the motion (vide page 1315) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative. redistribution of VICTORIAn Divisions.
Debate resumed from the 31st May (vide page 1238), on motion by Mr. Kent Hughes -
That the House of Representatives approves of the distribution of the State of Victoria into Electoral Divisions, as proposed by Messrs. R. C. Nance, F. W. Al ter and F. Cahill, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of distributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before the House of Representatives on the 11th day of May, 1955, and that the names of the divisions suggested in the report, and indicated on the maps referred to therein, be adopted, except that the name “ La Trobe “ be substituted for “ Bruce “ and the name “ Bruce “ substituted for “ La. Trobe “.
.- The Opposition opposes the plan for the redistribution of the seats in the State of Victoria.
– All of them?
– Yes. There are only two seats in Victoria which have been left untouched. One is the seat held by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the other is the seat held by the honorable member for Chisholm, the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes). The honorable member for Murray, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen), reminds me that his seat, too, has been left untouched. They are the three untouchables, as the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) so appropriately phrases it. Section 19 of the act as it stands at present states -
In making any proposed distribution of a State into Divisions, the Distribution Commissioners shall give consideration to -
Community or diversity of interest,
Means of communication,
Existing boundaries of Divisions and Subdivisions,
State Electoral boundaries.
With respect to community or diversity of interest, we say that the scheme proposed by the commissioners fails because of the manner in which the electorate of Bendigo, for instance, has been redefined. Under the old distribution, the auriferous belt of Victoria was included in one division. Under the present distribution, the town of Maryborough, a very big centre, has been taken out of the Bendigo electorate and placed in the Wimmera electorate. I am sure the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Lawrence) wishes that it had not been placed there, because it is a Labour stronghold. On the eastern side of his electorate, the honorable member for Bendigo has had included the areas around Seymour and south to Kyneton, which have not the same community interest with Bendigo, Castlemaine and Maldon as Maryborough has. and as perhaps some other areas have. We do not think the Bendigo distribution has been quite as good as it might have been.
We think that the Corio division could have been made better from a community of interest point of view than it has been made. The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Opperman) knows better than anybody else that certain factors are operating in that area, which is destined to be the Birmingham of Australia. The electorate must diminish in size because the population is increasing. I break off here to say that, in my view, the Commonwealth Electoral Act needs amending, because no consideration has been given, nor could it be given perhaps, by the electoral commissioners to the effect of our immigration scheme and the effect of great population growth, particularly in the cities of New South Wales and Victoria.
– How does the honorable gentleman know that?
– The honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) asks how I know that. The honorable member for Corio could tell him that in 1947 there were 47,000 people in the Geelong area, and that by 1954 the number had grown to 72,000. There was an increase of 27,000 in the space of seven years. In the next seven years, there will probably be an equally great increase of population in that rapidly developing part of Victoria. In future, the commissioners ought to be directed to have some regard to the developmental aspects of our economic life. They ought to take into consideration the actions of State governments in developing housing commission areas. They ought to have power to forecast developments during, say, the next four or five years and make allowances in their schemes for eventual population growth.
The honorable member for Deakin. (Mr. Davis) knows how his electorate was affected between 1947 and 1954. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Bollard) knows how his electorate was affected in that period. The right honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Casey) had an electorate of 38,000 in 1947, but by 1954 the number had grown to about 67,000. The new electorate of Bruce and the altered electorate of La Trobe, because of the great expansion that is going on in the Dandenong district in Victoria, will be well above their quotas in the next four or five years. Any honorable member who has studied the position in Victoria . knows that quite well. The growth and development of Victoria are proceeding rapidly. The population of Melbourne is growing so rapidly that within ten years from to-day, or within fifteen years at the outside, Melbourne will again be a bigger city than ‘Sydney. That is not a desirable thing, because Sydney and Melbourne are far too big now. From 1870 to 1910 Melbourne was a bigger city than Sydney. It was because of that fact that Melbourne was the temporary federal capital for 27 years. There is rapid industrialization in Victoria, largely because of the prospect of cheap heat, light and power from Morwell and Yallourn in the La Trobe valley, and because of the fact that gas will be produced in that area and piped 1.00 miles to Melbourne, which will make Victoria almost completely independent of coal supplies from New South Wales. We are looking forward to a much bigger growth of population in Melbourne than in Sydney or anywhere else in Australia. Therefore, the commissioners should have power to deal in their plans with the prospect of growth, us far as it can be reasonably ascertained.
– Have not they got that power now?
– No. They can take into consideration only the five matters f have mentioned.
– They can make an allowance of 20 per cent, either way.
– That is perfectly true. In some States they have exercised that power more than they have done in other States. That, of course, is an undesirable thing to happen. It is undesirable that one .set of commissioners should adopt one set of principles, and commissioners in another State should adopt a different set of principles. The act probably needs amending in order that we may get some uniformity in regard totreatment.
– What good will uniformity do?
– I do not see any particular virtue in uniformity as such, but I do think dissatisfaction is created if there are glaring instances of different treatment because, for one thing, each differing treatment cannot ‘be the right one. One could be right and the ‘Other* could be wrong. I think that, in some instances, mistakes have been made. I do not consider that in Victoria, allowance has been made for the fact that not only is the population growing rapidly but we have many people in our midst who are not yet naturalized but who will be naturalized over the next five, six or ten years. Most of them are living in the inner suburban areas.
– The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis) may say “No”, but he would be amazed at the number of Maltese, Greeks, Czechs, and Italians that I represent in Melbourne - at least, I hope to be able to protect their social .interests, although they have not yet got a vote in order to show their appreciation of my efforts. Some day,, they will have a vote. The commissioners s’hould be empowered to take notice of the fact - and they can ascertain the facte from the Department of Immigration - that large numbers of aliens are living in certain areas and that, by the ordinary processes of naturalization, in two or three years the roll will grow by 2,00.0 or 3,0.00 for a number of electorates because of the addition to it of these aliens. Because these people are there, I think the electorates concerned! should be given a fewer number of voter* than has been the case in this redistribution. In Victoria, we have not got1 anything like 20 per cent, up or downWhen I made inquiries as to whether ant allowance would be made because of the presence of aliens in (the community I was told that the commissioners could not lawfully take cognizance of the presence of aliens, and that they had to carry out the act as it stands.
– They would not know how many aliens there are.
– They could get the information from the Department of Immigration.
– They could still take cognizance of the fact by going up 20 per cent, or down 20 per cent, in order to provide for contingencies.
– They did not go up or down by 20 per cent., or even 10 per cent., because of those contingencies. They contend they must act primarily on the area represented. That is their main consideration, and they are indifferent to the disadvantage in which a member would be placed if he had to represent an even greater area by having the same number of people in his electorate as all other honorable members. £ am putting this view before the Minister, and the Government, in the hope that something will be done in the way of amending the act in the future.
I come back to my point about a community and diversity of interest. There is the case of the honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters).. His electorate has been wiped out, and so has the electorate of Hoddle. The major portions of those two electorates have been thrown into one electorate, and the remaining pieces have been scattered around in a manner which we believe does not conform to the obligation of the commissioners to preserve community of interests. The honorable member for Burke had a municipality called Brunswick, but he no longer has that. A line has been drawn down Sydney-road, which divides Brunswick into two. One portion has been placed into one electorate, and the other portion has been put into another .electorate. I should have thought that Brunswick would have been left alone, and two portions of the electorate of Melbourne could have been added to Hoddle. Then the electorate of Burke could have been preserved as it should have <been .preserved. There was as much reason to preserve it as there was to preserve the electorates of Chisholm and Kooyong. I think the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) could have taken a few more tories into his electorate by taking a piece of Chisholm, the honorable member for Hoddle could have crossed the Yarra-
– He has crossed it already.
– As I was saying, the honorable member for Hoddle could have been made to cross it. The honorable member for Yarra crosses it already, and so did his predecessor. A portion of Chisholm could have been added to Hoddle. As it is, we find that although the Labour party has been able to win the Senate in Victoria three times out of four, it is very doubtful, under the present redistribution of seats, whether it will be able to do so, because of the manner in which our majorities have been locked up in the inner industrial areas. It is very doubtful whether we can win more than 13 or 14 seats even in the best of circumstances - even when times are more normal for the Labour party than they are at the moment.
The fact that the representative vote does not more nearly reflect the opinion of the electorates, as expressed in this Senate poll, shows that there is something weals in the present distribution, in the view of this party. In New South Wales, it is traditional to start at South Head when the distribution commissioners are making their distribution. In Victoria, the invariable rule is to start at the General Post Office. I have the honour to represent the electorate of Melbourne, by the grace of God and the sturdy common sense of at least 51 per cent, of the electors. I am not making any complaints on my own account. The redistribution makes Melbourne even better for me, but I would prefer that some of the other electorates round Melbourne were shaped more in conformity with the first provision of section 19 of the act. I would, in respect of the country districts, -expect Bendigo to have been allowed to retain the Maryborough end. I would have given Wimmera more of the northern part of Wannon, because there is a community of interest in the wheatgrowing area of that part .of the State. [ would have pushed Wannon farther east beyond Mortlake.
Corangamite would have come closer in to Geelong, as I think it should have, and taken in the whole of the Bellarine Peninsula, because within five years from now the honorable member for Corio, whoever he is, will have the biggest electorate of any member of this Parliament. I would have taken Corio farther north than it is, to go beyond Little River, and included Werribee. That, to my view, would have been a more equitable distribution than the present one. I am not reflecting, in the slightest, upon the commissioners. It is a matter of difference of opinion as to how they should have done the job. This party does not like the scheme; I am putting forward its views. We make no reflection upon the gentlemen concerned. I know that if the scheme had been thrown back into the hands of the commissioners, they would have had to make a major alteration of the whole of it. They took no notice of the objections made by any organization or by any honorable member on either side of the House. They listened to everything honorable members had to say and then announced that they had recommended no alteration. They are entitled to do that if they wish. I supported the representations made by the honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters), whose representations were supported also by municipalities in his electorate. I supported, too, the representations made by the honorable member for Hoddle (Mr. Cremean), which were supported also by municipalities in his electorate. The redistribution could have Sean much better than it is. The boundaries of the electorate of Indi also could have been somewhat altered, though the alteration required might not be great. Considerable development will occur in that part of Victoria which is south of the Great Dividing Range, and therefore more consideration should be given to the future of electorates such as McMillan, Gippsland and Flinders, all of which will develop rapidly as a result of the vast scheme that is coming to fruition in the La Trobe Valley.
– That will happen under the administration of a LiberalCountry party government.
– The Cain Labour Government also contributed to the development of that scheme, as did the McDonald Country party Government and the Hollway Liberal party Government. In conjunction with the La Trobe Valley scheme, I should like to mention also the name of that great Australian Sir John Monash, who was its principal author.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. OPPERMAN (Corio) 1 10.20 J.- .1 am sure that all who are listening to the debate this evening are pleased that we have now left the quarrelsome States of New South Wales and Queensland and arrived in the comparatively peaceful State of Victoria, which, in addition to possessing the finest of natural assets, is now to enjoy the outstanding benefits to be derived from the administration of a Liberal-Country party Government. 1 shall take a rather parochial attitude on this matter, and shall devote my remarks to a discussion of the position in the most progressive and congenial area of the finest Australian State, the electorate of Corio. Though I personally accept the readjustment of the boundaries of the Corio seat, and though I am well aware of the difficulties faced by the distribution commissioners in the intricate affair of redistributing electoral boundaries, in fairness to the public bodies in the electorate and to the constituents who have protested against the proposals, as well a? to the commissioners, I must mention the logical and well prepared objections thai were made, in order to indicate that the commissioners, I feel on thi? occasion Uki Homer, have nodded.
The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwall) has traversed the various electorates, putting some here and some there, as it suits his point of view, but ] shall confine my remarks to the position in the electorate of Corio. When the plans showing the proposed new boundaries were first published, the South Barwon Shire Council spontaneously, emphatically and logically, on the basis of the facts, protested to the commissioners, and I received many spontaneous protests from my constituents. If the.
House will bear with me patiently, after having heard a variety of arguments on this matter, I shall read a copy of the letter that was addressed to the chairman of the distribution commissioners by the secretary of the South Barwon shire. Et reads -
My Council is most perturbed with the proposal to sever this Shire from the Federal Electoral Division of Corio, and at the meeting held on the 19th instant it was unanimously resolved that an emphatic protest be lodged against such a move.
Representations have also been made to the Council by private citizens, the Torquay Improvement Association and the Belmont Branch of the Liberal and Country Party, all protesting against the proposal. A largely signed petition from residents of Torquay has also been received and is forwarded herewith for your consideration.
The Council desire to point out, that the re-alignment would result in the South Barwon Subdivision becoming a small urban appendage to the large rural district of Corangamite, and with the rapid development which is occurring in this area, the need for Federal representation is frequently required, and it is felt that residents of the Shire would be it a great disadvantage when it is considered that the new representative would be a long distance from the Shire.
That statement is not a criticism of the future member for the electorate with the now boundaries. It is a correct statement of the position. The letter continues -
The Council also wish to draw your attention to the fact that Belmont has become in integral part of Greater Geelong and the communal interests of the whole Shire are centred on Geelong including employment, business, schooling, transport and social on tacts.
It should also be noted that during the past 12 months the present Federal member has visited this Municipality, officially, on 21 separate occasions - [ do not know how I do these things sometimes - , and alt-hough this service is warranted in the rapidly developing shire it would be unfair to expect the same service, a ml the same intimate knowledge of the area, from the member for Corangamite.
The Council is therefore opposed to the proposal and requests that your earnest consideration be given in allowing South Barwon Shire to remain within the Federal Electoral Division of Corio.
Taking that letter in conjunction with the arguments that were placed before the commissioners in opposition to their proposal for the redistribution of the boundaries of Corio, I can say definitely and emphatically that the commissioners did not follow their brief and did noi have regard to the desires of the electors and the organizations in the electorate.
Community or diversity of interest is the first of the factors that the commissioners must consider in making a redistribution of electoral boundaries. Had they any personal knowledge of the Corio electorate, they would have realized that SO per cent, of the people of Belmont, which is just across the river from Geelong, work in Geelong. As a consequence, they have a definite community of interest with Geelong. Belmont is very much part of that city. It is only a mile and a quarter from the Geelong Post Office to Belmont. The way lies through asphalt-paved streets which have made footpaths and are lined with homes. One could not in any sense consider that Belmont is apart from Geelong. A tram service operates between the two centres, and, in every way, they form one community. Had consideration been given to means of communication, physical features and the existing boundaries of divisions and subdivisions, the commissioners would have acceded to the requests that the South Barwon Shire be allowed to remain in association with Geelong as a part of the Corio electorate.
It is difficult to understand how, in the light of the protests made and the logical arguments advanced in the letter that I have read, the commissioners, if they had adopted the principles laid down in the Commonwealth Electoral Act. could have brushed aside the protests. As the honorable member for Melbourne has stated, the commissioners took no notice of any protest. One must have regard for the capacity and the ability of the commissioners who were selected for the intricate and involved task of redistributing electoral boundaries and adjusting the electoral quotas. One cannot help but think that the three commissioners surrounded themselves with an aura of omniscience and decided thai they must be right, that they were the only ones who could do the job and that the people who protested did not know anything about it; or that they considered that protests would, as usual, be made and that they would ju3t proceed with the redistribution without regard for the: views of the municipalities and the constituents, believing that, they themselves could not be wrong on even one point, and that therefore the redistribution should be made as they had originally proposed. No human being is omniscient and capable of being right the first time in a matter such as this, and I am greatly puzzled that the commissioners took no notice of the protests of people who were, closely associated with the electorate and who knew what the proposed redistribution would involve.
I express these thoughts on behalf of constituents from South Barwon who live just across the river from Geelong and go- into that city every day and who have to throw themselves on to my good graces. Of course, any honorable member who is worth his salt will respond to art urgent appeal for help. Geelong is connected to South Barwon by all the factors which the: commissioners refuse to consider, such ai& community of interest and lines, of communication. However, I shall not labour the point. I merely say that, because I represent the electorate of Corio I considered that these facts should be brought to the notice of the. Parliament.. I want to say, in consolation of my erstwhile constituents of South Barwon, that they will’ be in the hands of a most, worthy and” interested member who will endeavour te, the utmost of his ability to break, down the great barriers of distance which exist between them ‘and him,, a barrier which has been brought about by the inexplicable analysis of the commissioners concerning the community of interest- which exists between South Barwon and Geelong. Of all the errors that have been made in the redistribution of electoral boundaries probably none will be- more, apparent than this one.. It has been quite interesting to hear the veritable howls of anguish from honorable members who will still have a comfortable majority in their electorates- after the redistribution of boundaries. As I said at the beginning of my speech, the representation of the electorate of Corio still means a tremendous lot to me, but I consider that my constituents on the other side of the river have received the rough end of the stick in the redistribution of electoral divisions in Victoria.
– In common with most other honorable members, when I heard that there was a likelihood of the redistribution of electoral divisions in- Victoria, I had a careful look at the electoral map. After that examination I felt absolutely comfortable; I thought that whatever redistribution of seats was possible in Victoria, the city of Brunswick would remain the basis of a federal electorate. People with whom I had conversations concerning, electoral divisions in- Victoria agreed with me that the community of interest within the city of Brunswick and the natural boundaries of the city would result in- it being the basis of a federal electorate. The city of Brunswick is bounded on the west by Moonee Ponds Creek, and on tike east by the Merri Creek. On the southern side it has the natural boundary of the flanks of the city of Melbourne. One would have thought that those natural boundaries would have been considered by the commisssion ers in fixing boundaries of the federal electorate in which Brunswick would be situated. However, the city of Brunswick has been sub-divided and placed in two electoral divisions. One portion of Brunswick, by a tortuous method1, has been attached to the city of Coburg and made part of the division of Wills. The eastern portion of Brunswick has been attached to Clifton Hill, Fitzroy and Collingwood in order to form the division of Scullin. There is no: community of interest between the east of Brunswick and Fitzroy nor between the east of Brunswick and Clifton Hill. Yet these places have been thrown, hotchpotch, into one division which has been called the electorate of Scullin. When I found that the electoral divisions had been redistributed in this way, I said, “ This is a most peculiar- set of circumstances”. I asked, “Why this fantastic division of a natural city by this peculiar method when it could have been left as the basis of one electorate ? “ I then examined the redistribution of other electorates in the Melbourne metropolitan area, and I found that the electorate of Kooyong which is represented by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the electorate of Chisholm- which is represented by the
Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) had not been interfered with. Not being a suspicious character, I thought that this was only an accident. So I wrote to the commissioners and invited their attention to the fantastic redistribution that has been made on the one hand whilst electorates had been left undisturbed on the other hand. I described how the commissioners could preserve community interest and natural boundaries and leave established federal electorates in Victoria in existence merely by the extension of those electorates - an extension which would have necessitated the electorate of Yarra having a portion of the electorate of Chisholm added to it, and a portion of Kooyong being added to the electorate of Hoddle. Having described this position to the commissioners in clear and unmistakable terminology, I thought that chey would advise me that the electoral boundaries would be altered as I desired. Unfortunately, the commissioners did not do that. The action that I suggested has not been taken. The Brunswick City Council, by no means an undistinguished body, and one which represents 60,000 people, made a plea to the commissioners on this subject. The commissioners ignored that plea.
The principle relating to quotas was not considered by the commissioners in their allocation of electoral boundaries in Victoria. They allocated 44,000 electors to the division of Melbourne, and 44,000 to the division of Port Melbourne. To the proposed division of Scullin they allocated 45,000 electors. They allocated 45,000 electors to the division of Wills. The divisions of Melbourne, Melbourne Ports and Scullin are contracting electorates. That is to say, the residential districts in those divisions are giving place to factories. Those electorates should be given the maximum number of electors permissible. On the other hand, a division such as Wills, La Trobe or Bruce should be allocated the minimum number of electors possible so that the expansion that will inevitably take place within the next few years will not again cause a disproportion between divisions similar to that which exists at the present time. Under the present system, the division of La Trobe has 60,000 electors, and the division of Burke has contracted to 37,000 electors. No one can deny that within five years the inner industrial divisions of the metropolitan area will contract to 40,000 electors, that divisions such as Wills, La Trobe and Bruce will grow to between 50,000 and 60,000 electors, and that the existing disproportion will be intensified in the very near future. Any set of commissioners who took into consideration the permissible diversity of quotas would have recognized that that diversity of quotas was provided for the purpose of enabling, over a period of years, the number of electors in the various divisions to be brought closer together rather than to be placed further apart.
Under the existing system of redistribution, there will be vast numbers of electors in the divisions of La Trobe, Chisholm, Kooyong and Wills, in all of which there are vast empty spaces, and there will be fewer electors in the divisions of Scullin, Melbourne Ports and Melbourne. In the latter areas. as the population decreases, factories will be erected. In the outer areas, the residential population will go, and, because of the lack of foresight by the commissioners, the difficulties with which we are faced in relation to certain other divisions will be repeated.
Let me draw attention also to the naming of the electoral divisions. The name “ Scullin “, which is the name of one of probably the two most distinguished political leaders that Australia has ever had, should be commemorated, but it should be commemorated by being given to the area in Victoria that he represented. The main part of the area that was represented by the late Mr. J. H. Scullin constitutes the present division of Yarra. If the name “ Yarra “ were taken from that division, it would not be obliterated from the minds of the people. The Yarra River continues to flow. By ascribing the name “ Scullin “ to the existing division of Yarra, we would be perpetuating a name that deserves to be perpetuated. Moreover, we should not leave ourselves in the ridiculous position of obliterating from the electoral map the name “ Burke and of leaving on it the name “ Wills “. The commissioners have said, in effect, “ We as commissioners, after deliberation, think that the second in command of the expedition that crossed Australia should be commemorated in the naming of electoral divisions, but the name of the leader of the expedition should be obliterated “. There was no justification for their action. The name “ Burke “ should have been retained and, as I have already stated, the name “ Scullin “ should have been given to the division of Yarra. It has been only by some involved processes of thought that names have been allocated to the various divisions.
I do not cast any reflection upon anybody, because I have never approached the commissioners or interviewed them. However, I awoke one day to discover that I was without an electorate, and I sent a communication to the commissioners, but I have not seen them at all in relation to the matter. On the other hand, it is more than a coincidence that the division represented by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes), who is in charge of electoral matters, and the division represented by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), should have been left untouched while all the other divisions of Victoria were cut up. After all, if I should happen, by some turn of the wheel of fortune, to be the Minister for the Interior at any time when a redistribution of divisions is made, the first division with which I shall want the commissioners to deal will be that which I represent. Those honorable gentlemen seem to think, apparently, that their divisions should be immune from change. Apparently the commissioners were concerned, not with community of interest, but with immunity of interest in relation to certain divisions. Such an attitude is absolutely undesirable.
I do not wish any one to gain the gloomy impression that, because I have referred to the disappearance from the electoral map of the division of Burke, [ shall not be here for quite a long time. [ have every intention of remaining a member of the Parliament. I am not discussing the proposition because I think it will have any influence upon my future, but because I think that, as a proposition, it was not dealt with in the manner thai one would expect of a gentleman who looks so benign and noble as the Minister for the Interior.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Haworth”) adjourned.
EMPLOYMENT in the australian Capital Territory - Shipping.
Motion (by Mr. Kent Hughes) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I direct the attention of honorable members to a serious anomaly in the law of the Australian Capital Territory, and to an injustice which not only can occur, but which also is occurring, to litigants in the Territory. On the 31st March, there was gazetted the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance 1955. Section 21 of the ordinance abolished the rule of common employment. You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that the rule of common employment is the rule which, to put it in lay language, often enables an employer to escape liability to his employee if the employee is injured through the negligence of a fellow employee. It was a feature, for many years, of the common law of England. It was abolished in England as recently as 1948. It was abolished in all of the States of Australia some time before it was abolished in the Australian Capital Territory. Il was abolished in New South Wales by section 65 of the Workers Compensation Act 1926; in Tasmania by section 5 of the Employees Liability Act 1943; in South Australia by section 4 of the Wrongs Act Amendment Act 1944; in Victoria by section 2 of the Employers and Employees Act 1945; in Queensland by section 2 of the Law Reform (Abolition of the Rule of Common Employment) Act 1951; and in Western Australia by section 3 of the Law Reform (Common Employment) Act 1951. In the Territory, the law was well behind the times when it was amended two months ago. But there is one particular feature of the law as so amended belatedly in the Territory which I think the
Minister will agree to review. Subsection (2.) of section 21 of the ordinance states -
This section applies to injury or damage arising from a wrongful act. neglect or default- [ stress those words - committed after the date of commencement nf this ordinance,
And then it proceeds in the same fashion as other analogous acts - whether the contract of employment was made before or is made after that date. 1 stress that only in the South Australian act do similar words occur as those which [ stress, namely, “ committed after the late of commencement of this ordinance “.
The matter is of importance because, although the rule of common employment was abolished in the Territory so belatedly, it was, until the regime of the present Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) a dead letter. The AttorneyGeneral in the previous Labour Government, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), issued an instruction that the Commonwealth should never plead a defence which is available to the Commonwealth and to no other litigant, and that the Commonwealth should never plead a defence which was still available to litigants in the Australian Capital Territory but no longer available to litigants in the States. As long as the right honorable member for Barton was Attorney-General, the Commonwealth never raised the defence of common employment in any action which was brought against the Commonwealth, but under the present Attorney-General the Commonwealth has, in fact, in several cases pleaded the doctrine of common employment as a defence to actions brought against it. I have had matters brought to my attention in particular cases where timber workers engaged on the aerodrome at Jervis Bay have sued the Commonwealth for injuries they sustained when trees were felled on them, possibly by the negligence of fellow employees who did not give adequate warning. The Commonwealth has pleaded that it is not responsible for their injuries, because those injuries were brought about by the negligence of fellow employees. That is an ignoble defence, ft is a defence which could not be pleaded in any part of Australia except in the Australian Capital Territory. The injustice is seen and the anomaly is seen all the more clearly when one realizes that if this man had been felling trees in New South Wales - say at Huskisson or Nowra - and had been injured because of the neglect of a fellow employee, he could have sued his employer. It would not matter whether it was the employee, in carrying out his employer’s instructions, or the employer in laying down an unsatisfactory method of working who was responsible for the injury; the employee who was injured could still recover.
A similar anomaly and injustice could occur all the more readily in Canberra. If a man is injured on the Canberra side of the border by the negligence of a fellow employee, he has no redress; if he if injured at Queanbeyan, he has redress. Surely it is an intolerable anomaly that the Commonwealth should not only allow this position to continue for so long, but should take advantage of it. I feel it will commend itself to the sense of justice, fair play, and modernity of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes), who is responsible for the Territory-
– Did the honorable member say “ maternity “ ?
– No. I said “modernity”. I thank the Minister for allowing me to remove any misapprehension in that regard. I hope that he will be able to prevail on the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who is acting as AttorneyGeneral, to see that this defence will not be put on, and that this archaic and technical defence will be withdrawn in cases where it has been raised. I hope, also, that the ordinance will be amended so that the words which I stressed will be deleted. In South Australia they are no longer relevant, because South Australia amended its law on the subject eleven years ago and consequently no wrongful act committed so far back is now actionable. In the Australian Capital Territory, wrongful acts committed before the ordinance will still be actionable for some time to come. I feel sure that the responsible Ministers will see that this anomaly is removed and that further injustice is so prevented.
– I should like to refer to a question that I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to-day in this House in relation to the proposed increase of shipping freights between England and Australia. In an endeavour to be constructive, rather than destructive on this vital subject of the proposed 10 per cent, increase of freights that is likely to take effect within the next twelve months, I suggested that the Government might examine the possibility of putting refrigeration equipment into some, if not all, of the River-class ships which are owned by the Commonwealth, and then place them on the AustraliaEngland run in active competition with the overseas shipping combine. The Prime Minister laughed the suggestion away on the assumption that we would be taking ships off the Australian coast in order to put them on the overseas run.
Our thirteen River-class vessels have all been built since 1942. They are not the best ships for the Australian coast. Ships of from 4,000 to 6,000 tons are the best for the Australian coastal trade, because they have the record for fastest loading and unloading. In other words, the fastest turn-rounds are accomplished by the D-class ships, of which the Commonwealth owns more than it does Riverclass vessels. My suggestion was to put the bigger ships on the Australia-England run. The right honorable gentleman pooh-poohed the whole idea simply because it would mean, as he said, transferring some coastal ships to the overseas group which would have to be replaced on the coastal run. That was an easy way out for the Prime Minister. Apparently the right honorable gentleman forgets that the Commonwealth owned a shipping line after World War I., which was sold by the Bruce-Page Government to a shipping combine in England for practically nothing. That shipping line carried cargoes of our primary produce to England. It saved our primary producers - particularly the wheat-growers - thousands of pounds in freight. In those days, our primary produce was conveyed to England by government-owned ships. That could be done again by the use of our more modern “River” class ships. As far as replacement is concerned, I realize that there was a certain amount of common sense in the Prime Minister’s contention, but I believe a way can be found to overcome all difficulties if one has the will to do so.
A few weeks ago I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay), upon notice, a series of seven questions in relation to our coastal shipping - such as, how many ships had been built, and so on. Question No. 5 of the series was -
Are there any ships being built at present by the Government for the Commonwealth fleet?
The answer supplied to that question was -
Yes, fourteen vessels are under construction or on order.
If the Prime Minister is concerned about the “ River “ class ships being taken off our coastal runs, there is the answer in respect of replacement. Those ships are better and more useful ships than are the “ River “ class ships. If my information is correct, our “ River “ class vessels are not operating to full capacity around the Australian coast. The bigger proportion of Commonwealth-owned vessels is operating on uneconomical freight rates around Australia. The ships are doing jobs which ships owned by private companies will not do because there is no profit in them. They are engaged on the longest routes around our coast. The “ River “ class vessels have a slow record of turn-round. In the long run, I think they would do a better job on the EnglandAustralia run than they are doing around the Australian coast. They could be replaced without any trouble by the fourteen ships which are now under construction by the Government. It is true that cost would be involved in the installation of refrigeration equipment, but what will the proposed 10 per cent, increase of shipping freights cost the Australian producers in the long run? He will have to pay for it in the long run. I am disgusted with the Government’s attitude to the proposed increase in freights. There was a debate on the question yesterday, and one of the statements of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) when he replied to the honorable member for Ballarat- - -
– What is the honorable member quoting from ?
– The official Hansard.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman may not quote from Hansard for the present session.
– What was the use of incurring the expense of printing a daily Hansard if we cannot quote from it?
– Order ! It is a rule of the House.
– To the best of my recollection, the Minister said that he could not add any more to what he had told us three weeks before, and that sums up the Government’s attitude pretty well. He spoke about collecting a lot of information about this big shipping monopoly which is dictating to Australia at the present time. Certain information probably would need to be gathered, but [ am amazed that this information was not in the hands of the Government long ago, because only a year and a half ago freights were increased by 7½ per cent. Surely the Government then received some information from its agents in England about this company. I think that the Minister is just stalling off the question, and that the Government has no real intention of doing anything practical. It has rejected as ridiculous any constructive suggestions made by the Opposition. I am quite convinced that it is engaging in a sham fight against the big shipping monopolies which are too big for it. Because the shipping monopoly in England is too big for the Government to handle, all the suggestions we have made are pushed aside and not acted upon. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) did not even inform me that he would investigate the matter. He simply rejected out of hand the suggestion that we should turn some of the river-class ships into refrigerated vessels for the overseas trade. I know that if that were done there would be difficulties at the other end, and that it would be of no use to send our ships to England if we could not get them loaded there. This monopoly would have a say with the English exporters, so we have a great tie-up. In Tasmania the tie-up is threatening our fruit industry. We are inquiring into it at the present time. A Tasmanian combined delegation to-day had information from a certain gentleman from Tasmania as to how we could probably save our fruit industry from destruction by monopolies and combines, which control practically everything connected with the industry. In England the exporters are tied to the big shipping combines, and any ship going there would have to fight to get cargo to bring back to this country. That is a difficulty. Is the Government not prepared to do something for Australia? Is it not willing to take some risks for the primary producers about whom it talks so much? It has no regard at all for the salvation of the primary producer. Otherwise it would be putting something practical before the Parliament to show how it proposed to beat this big shipping combine in the matter of freight charges. I believe that the Prime Minister’s attitude to-day revealed that the Government is bankrupt of ideas for solving the problem.
– in reply - The honorable member for Wilmot . (Mr. Duthie) seems to forget that the freights on the interstate coast are already very much higher than the overseas freights. Therefore, even if it were possible to use the Commonwealth ships, we would have much higher freights than those now proposed by the overseas shipping lines. I do not think it is necessary to go any further into that matter, because it has already been debated. I merely state the fact that we could not reduce freight rates by adopting the suggestion of the honorable member.
The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) referred to the abolition of the rule of common employment in the Australian Capital Territory. I thank him for having brought the matter to my notice. I shall discuss it with the Prime Minister who is acting for the AttorneyGeneral, or the Attorney-General’s Department, and let him know later the result of the discussion.
– I desire to speak to the motion.
– Order ! The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) has closed the debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.5 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for Defence Production, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Government is convinced of its ability to earn it through notwithstanding the firm’s other obligations.
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has furnished the following replies : -
Note. - Capacities of refineries and estimated consumption exclude consumption by the refineries themselves. Consumption excludes exports, the probable volume of which is not yet known. According to information obtained from the oil companies, early operations of new refineries will be so adjusted that production of fuel oil will be matched to local consumption plus exports.
An authoritative estimate is not Ye available.
Small quantities of fuel oil have already been exported. Further exports of both refined and residual products are understood to be contemplated, but the probable volume is not yet known.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 June 1955, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1955/19550601_reps_21_hor6/>.