21st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker .(Mr. C. F. Adermann) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether Australian armed forces are to be detained for an indefinite period of time in Malaya, or are they to return home as soon as the fighting against the rebels ends? If they are to remain indefinitely, will he state whether the Australian forces were despatched in accordance with the terms of the Seato or Anzam agreements ? Finally, were the Governments of Singapore and the Federated States of Malaya consulted on the basis of Australian armed forces remaining indefinitely in their country, and, if so, did they approve of the arrangement ?
– The word “indefinitely” is a very difficult word to deal with. The individual members of this strategic reserve are enlisted for a particular tour of duty which has already been stated to the House. How long we will maintain our share of reserves will depend on future circumstances, and we will, of course, determine that matter in the closest collaboration with our allies who are involved in the same cause.
– Is the Minister for Social Services aware that some confusion has occurred recently as a result of advice to applicants for war service homes loans that their advances would be available by a specified date and that when this period has arrived, the applicants have been told that the money will not be forthcoming for a further lengthy period ? As this has caused hardship and in some cases interference and loss, will the Minister see that all applicants are fully and accurately advised of their position and expectations?
– My attention was drawn to the form of the letters issued by the Division of War Service Homes, which could quite easily cause confusion in the minds of applicants who might have thought that once they received the letter, they would be entitled to receive an advance at a fixed date. Careful consideration was given to the words, and they have now been changed to indicate that whilst it is hoped that the advances will be made by a date mentioned, the date is not fixed and will depend upon the circumstances existing at the time. In each letter, too, the applicant is advised that if it is practicable to do so, he can go to some private lender to endeavour to obtain an advance and that by the approximate date mentioned in the letter, it is hoped that the advance will be made by the War Service Homes Division to permit the temporary loans to be repaid.
– I address to the Prime Minister a question concerning the future of what is known as the Canberra University College. In view of the fact that the University of Melbourne has indicated its intention to terminate its supervision over the Canberra University College next year, has the Government considered the future of the college in relation to the Australian National University? Does the Government consider it desirable or economic to develop two separate university sites and to maintain two independent universities in Canberra? Has it considered approaching the New South Wales Government with a view to obtaining its co-operation in developing Canberra as the regional university centre for southern New South Wales ? Finally, will the Government call for reports on the matter, from the authorities of both the Australian National University and the Canberra University College, and make them available to members of this House ?
– The question whether there should be any, and, if so, what organic association between the Canberra University College and the Australian National University has been the subject of a good deal of close study in recent months. The discussions are not completed. So soon as anything emerges from them, I shall be very happy indeed to let the- honorable member know.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Social Services. Is it a fact that, in certain circumstances, pensioners are allowed concession fares on metropolitan transport in Sydney ? Is it possible to have concession fares extended to travel in localities served by private transport and not by government transport ? Will the Minister ascertain whether there is any means available to the Government, either by intercession with the New South Wales Government or otherwise, to have this small anomaly rectified? I ask this question particularly because the circumstance to which I have referred applies to certain areas in my own electorate.
– The New South Wales Government permits pensioners to travel at half fare on trams, buses and trains in both the Sydney metropolitan area and the country. I think this privilege applies only to public transport and not to private transport. The suggestion made by the honorable member seems a very valuable one, and I shall have the greatest pleasure in taking it up with the New South Wales Government through the appropriate channels to ascertain whether the concession requested by him can be agreed to.
– As an occupant of an office in the Commonwealth Parliament offices, Melbourne, I direct a question to the Minister for the Interior. Has the Minister noticed the frequent stoppages and breakdowns of the passenger lift in the building in which those offices are situated? If he has done so, he must be aware also that many elderly and sick people who should be able to use the lift when they visit their parliamentary representatives on business are acutely distressed by long climbs to floors above the ground level. Will the Minister seek technical advice about the possibility of installing a new lift to take the place of the out-of-date, costly and unsatisfactory installation at present in use?
– I certainly have noticed the condition of the lift, because sometimes I have had to walk up four flights of stairs to my office. At one stage, I even offered to exchange the building with the Victorian branch of the Works Department in the hope that if the officers of that department had to walk up the stairs the department might perhaps keep the lift in order. The lift has practically outlived its usefulness and, as the honorable member has implied I should do, I have conferred with my colleague the Postmaster-General, to whose department the building belongs. I hope that we shall be able to get something very much more satisfactory in the way of transport from the ground floor to the fourth and fifth floors, which are occupied by Government members. Members of the Australian Labour party have to walk up only one or two flights of stairs.
– Government members have to climb to the fourth and fifth floors. I can assure the honorable member that my interest in having the matter attended to is as great as his.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether it is a fact that the Commonwealth Dairy Produce Equalization Committee Limited has arranged to increase by ltd. per lb. for butter, and Id. per lb. for cheese, the interim monthly payment to the dairyfarmer. If this is a fact, is it not justification of the Minister’s statement that the return to the dairy-farmer will be greater this year than last year?
– It is a fact that the Commonwealth Dairy Produce Equalization Committee Limited has, at a meeting in the last day ot so, decided that the pay by factory to dairy-farmers shall be increased by 1½d. per lb. commercial butter, which is the equivalent of 1.8d. per lb. butter fat, with a proportionately higher amount for cheese, and that the dairy-farmers shall be entitled to receive these amounts retrospectively to the 1st July last. This decision illustrates two points to which I have referred many times and which were not understood within the dairying industry. First, it illustrates that the interim payment to dairy-farmers is a matter entirely within the decision of the industry itself, and not within the decision of the Government, and this decision has been made by an industry organization completely uninfluenced by the Government. Secondly, it points up a fact to which I have been constantly directing the attention of farmers. Notwithstanding the statement by some of their leaders, this is an interim payment made in the absence of a firm overseas contract and on the prospects for overseas sales this year, dairy-farmers will, in the end result, not only be not worse off than last year, but at the present time, in my opinion, it appears to be almost a certainty that they will be substantially better off this year than they were last year, which, by the way, was an all-time record year for the dairying industry.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. What was the reason for the resignation of the conductor of the Victorian Symphony Orchestra of the Australian Broadcasting Commission four weeks ago? Is he aware that the conductor concerned is the third conductor to resign this important post, and that his resignation, and the way in which the orchestra is administered by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, are causing serious concern in Melbourne, and will almost certainly result in a substantial fallingoff of subscribers to the orchestra’s concerts next year? Finally, does the Post.masterGeneral realize that the position in Melbourne has deteriorated to such an extent that an inquiry into the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s administration of this £74,000 a year orchestra is more than justified?
– Contrary to the practice that was in vogue during the administration of which the honorable gentleman who asked the question was a Minister, this Government does hot unduly interfere with the affairs of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. It is a body of its own and it is qualified and able to make its own decisions. Anything that is unsatisfactory will be ascertained by me on inquiry in a normal way, but in general I should say that the work of the Australian Broadcasting Commission is appreciated by many people in Australia, as is evidenced by correspondence I receive.
– The question which’ I direct to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is supplementary to one asked last week of ‘ the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs, on water harvesting at the university farm at Badgerys Creek. Is there any way in which the Commonwealth can assist to provide at least one research officer whose duty it would be to produce data and information on grass species, watering rates and watering requirements? Can any of the money provided under the dairy industry efficiency grant to promote better farm practices, or under the other grants for extension services for bringing those improved practices in front of farmers, be made available to meet this request? Last week, I referred to the world-wide interest in the farm and the possibility of increased food production by the use of the techniques developed there.
– The honorable member has maintained a constant and valuable interest in the activities at Badgery’s Creek. Concurrent with his representations, I arranged that during each of the last three years money should be set aside to assist in meeting the cost of. the work there. The amount set aside has been approximately £1,000 in each of the last three years. That, of course, has not met by any means the total cost of the enterprise. I should say that the work has now reached the stage where there is prima facie evidence of a most valuable new technique and I hope that now it can proceed to experimentation on a commercial farming level. This Government’ is making available to the States £250,000 a year, almost entirely for use in extension works. Some of this money is being used for the Badgery’s Creek enterprise. If the New South Wales Government, with which we consult on the use of such money in that State, were to sponsor an additional grant for this purpose, I say now that I would approve of it from within the funds of the dairy industry efficiency grant. Apart from that, I should be glad to consult with my colleague who administers the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research
Organization to see whether there is scope for the direct posting of an officer or for the provision of the other assistance that the honorable member has suggested.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Has he granted in Canberra a lease of a site for the establishment of a drive-in theatre? If he has granted such a lease, will he tell the House to whom it was granted, whether public tenders were called and whether competing firms had equal opportunities to secure the lease of the site?
– The honorable member seems to be under a misapprehension about leases in the Australian Capital Territory. All leases in the Territory are granted under the same conditions. A lease has been granted for a drive-in theatre. I do not know the name of the firm, or who the manager is. If the honorable member wants all the details, he can have them.Recently, he asked me about a motel lease and suggested that there was something sinister in the facts that, public tenders had not been called and that one of the directors of the company happened to be of a particular political colour. The political affiliations of anybody who applies for a lease do not make any difference atall. As a matter of fact, the guide, philosopher and friend of the Leader of the Opposition, I think, obtained a business lease the other day. Public tenders were not called, and the lease was granted under ordinary conditions. I think a member of the party to which the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory belongs is a member of a firm that applied for another lease. In that case, public tenders were called. But public tenders are not called in every case. The conditions under which leases are granted are the same for everybody. One firm came along and said that it wanted a lease for a drive-in theatre, in the same way as other firms have applied for leases for other business purposes. That firm was granted a lease under the ordinary terms and conditions. The valuations are the same for everybody. I can assure the honorable member that there is nothing sinister in relation to any of them, except in his own mind.
– I wish to ask the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs a question. Can the Minister give the House any information of the activities of a body known as the Japanese Veterans Association, an organization in Japan pledged, according to the words of its own objective, “ to restore the lost honour of the imperial armed forces “ ? Does the honorable gentleman consider that this body, which already claims 850,000 members, is a neo-fascist movement aiming to re-awaken an aggressive and predatory spirit in the Japanese people, with direful consequences of which we in this country are only too familiar?
– I have not any information regarding this body at the moment, but I shall ascertain the facts and furnish the honorable member with information about it as early as possible.
– Does the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture recall representations that I and other honorable members made in the House last May urging a shake-up of the methods and range of our publicity in the United Kingdom for the sale of Australian primary products ? Those representations were made following the ascertainment of facts which indicated a scarcity of publicity, bad packaging, buyer resistance and ignorance of Australian products amongst a large number of English housewives. Is it a fact that, in spite of the Minister’s selfsatisfaction at the time, this Government has just launched a £250,000 publicity drive in the United Kingdom using, I understand, pretty Australian girls as sales agents throughout the cities, towns and villages of that country? If that is so, have there been any appreciable results?
– The honorable member interests himself in this matter at the political level, but he obviously does not know very much about the actual merchandising on the other side. A year ago, the products in question were being sold to the United Kingdom Government under bulk contract. Since the cessation of sales under bulk contract, the Australian Government has endeavoured to persuade the producers to adopt new publicity devices. It has contributed very substantially to this work and has aided the. producers, who, after all, have some responsibility in the matter, in achieving better publicity and presentation, and in the general sales promotion of their products. Up to date, the results have been superb. I only wish that certain industries that are almost exclusively Tasmanian had received from the Tasmanian Labour Government a fraction of the aid that has been given to them by this Government. The Tasmanian berry fruit industry, which was on its last legs, had to come to this Government, which gave it assistance amounting to £250,000 and brought to Australia from the United Kingdom a gentleman who contracted to buy Tasmania’s entire output of black currants for some years at a highly profitable price. I should like to know what the Agent-General of the Tasmanian Labour Government is doing in London, and why he is being paid without making any contribution to this work.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in possession of figures relating to the Australian consumption of butter since the beginning of July? If so, will he tell the House how they compare with the figures for the comparable period of last year?
– There was some perturbation when, in order to obtain an adequate return to dairy-farmers, it became necessary to increase slightly the Australian selling price of butter. It was believed that that action, perhaps, would result in a lower Australian consumption. I am glad to be able to say that the official figures show that, by an amazing coincidence, the consumption of butter for the first three months of this financial year was exactly the same as that for the last three months of last year. I have not the precise figures, but the point is that the fact that the two amounts are exactly the same, to the very pound, shows that there has been no consumer resistance whatsoever.
– The question which I ask the Minister for Social Services is, to some degree, supplementary to a question asked of him earlier by the honorable member for Bennelong, in relation to war service homes. In his answer the Minister said that certain information created confusion in the minds of ex-servicemen who had made applications for such homes. I refer now to those in whose minds there is no confusion, because they have been told, point-blank, by the Department of Social Services that they have to wait for periods extending from thirteen months to eighteen months, for a home. I ask the Minister, in view of the assurances that he has repeatedly given in this House, and outside, whether he can state the number of unsatisfied applicants for war service homes. Will he also be prepared to make it quite clear that the allocation of finance for war service homes is inadequate to meet the needs of all applicants for such homes? Will he, at this late stage, inform those ex-servicemen who have made applications for war service homes that it is not sufficient merely for their eligibility to be established, but that they will, in fact, have to wait a period of from thirteen months to eighteen months after they have made their applications, before they get their homes?
– The question asked by the honorable member is a little complicated. In answer to the honorable member for Bennelong I did say that the form in which the letter was sent to applicants for war service homes was capable of creating confusion. Therefore, at the request of the honorable member for Bennelong, the form of the letter was amended in such a way as to eliminate any such possibility, and I think the honorable gentleman will agree with me that there should not be much possibility of doubt arising from the new form of letter being issued. I have answered, on several occasions, this question about the increase of the waiting period for war service -homes and I think I would be wearying the House if I attempted to cover the same ground as I have previously covered. But honorable gentlemen know that, because of the very generous terms under which applications for war service homes are approved, an increasing number of applications is being received each year. If the honorable member for Herbert would like to know, the number of applications has increased from about 23,000 last year to 29,000 this year. The Government is doing its best to overcome the problem, but it does not think it practicable to make greater provision at present. However, it naturally is watching the position, and if it can make a greater contribution than it is making it will do so.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy whether, if the flood danger increases in northern New South Wales, one or more helicopters could be made available to the New South Wales flood emergency committee at short notice to engage in rescue and relief work ?
– Assistance in the event of national emergencies must be applied for by the Premier of the State concerned to the Prime Minister. If this request is approved I shall do everything I possibly can to help, but at present, because of accidents to helicopters, there is not the same number available as before and the helicopters in service must be kept for rescue purposes at Nowra, where the Fleet Air Arm is undergoing training.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. In view of the statement by the Liberal Lord Mayor of Brisbane, which city is facing a loan money crisis, that the Australian Loan Council had fixed an interest rate which at present is completely unrealistic, and that various financial institutions would gladly lend the Brisbane City Council money if it were permitted to offer a higher rate of interest, would be the right honorable gentleman infform the House if there is any likelihood of the maximum rate of interest on local government loans being raised?
– As a Queenslander, I suggest that the question be referred to Mr. Gair, who is the Queensland representative of the State Labour Government on the Australian Loan Council.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy a question arising from his recent statement made after the debate on the Estimates, in which he said that a senior captain of the permanent naval force would be appointed to command the reserves and that further permanent naval force officers would assist him. Can the Minister tell me whether the particular recommendation made to him by the Government members’ committee which is interested in this subject will be followed - that such officers should be young officers in their zones for promotion and with recent experience either at sea or in training establishments? Can he tell me also when the new director of naval reserves will be appointed and, if there is no objection to his saying so, who the officer will be ? Can he also please tell me when the ocean minesweeper to which he referred will be made available to the Sydney division of the Naval Reserve?
– The improvement of the Naval Reserve has been a matter to which I, in conjunction with the Naval Board, have given a lot of consideration, and I am grateful to the ex-servicemen’s committee in this place for its cooperation. Its recommendations have been very carefully considered, and, in the main, have been adopted. It is proposed, early in the new year, to re-organize the Naval Reserve and a senior officer and other up-and-coming young officers of the Navy will be appointed on a new basis on the Naval Reserve. That proposal, we hope, will be implemented early in the new year. The proposal that we should make available to naval reserves in capital cities a minesweeper that they themselves can man, control and use for training purposes, and administer and command, has been adopted in Sydney as a precedent. If that proves satisfactory we will endeavour to adopt it in every other State. I hope, as a result of these new departures, that the Naval Reserve will be equal to any naval reserve in the world.
– Will the Minister for Works confirm or deny reports that the amount required for the maintenance of the north-south and Mount Isa roads has been cut to such an extent that the
Department of Works in the. Northern Territory will be able to maintain only a 12-ft. wide section of this 16-ft. wide bitumen highway? Does not the Minister agree that this cut must result in the deterioration of this important civil and defence highway - the only all-weather highway linking the Queensland and north Australian rail systems with the Northern Territory?
– I have no knowledge at all of any cut being made with regard to that particular item as it appeared in the budget papers. I am not certain whether the honorable member is referring to any reductions made before the budget was introduced, or afterwards. But no reduction has been made of the amount set aside in the Estimates that were passed by this House. I do not know the actual figures concerned in this matter, but I will be very pleased to discuss it with the honorable member afterwards.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether it is a fact that recently at least two cargoes of Australian strong wheat, guaranteed to contain not less than 11 per cent, of protein, were sold to Japan at f.a.q. price. If so, does this sale comply with the terms of the International Wheat Agreement? As the price of this premium wheat in Australia would be at least ls. a bushel over the f.a.q. price, why was it sold so cheaply in Japan by the Australian Wheat Board?
– I am, frankly, not familiar with individual transactions and sales by the Australian Wheat Board which operates on its own authority in that regard. But I would point out that the sale of wheat is not an easy matter to arrange. The International Wheat Agreement binds sales which are made within the agreement to a minimum price and does not insist upon a premium for quality. If the Australian Wheat Board sold premium grade wheat at a certain price I can only assume that that was the best price procurable. It should be understood, of course, that the Australian Wheat Board is also making sales that are outside the term? of the Inter national Wheat Agreement. Apparently, the honorable member’s question relates to sales within the agreement price. I am hopeful that we shall be able both to increase this country’s export income and to benefit the wheat industry by selling at a price that takes into account the premium value of wheat of high protein content. I intend to request that that matter be further studied.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture able to advise honorable members when he can make available the report of the Whaling Commission, setting out the results of the season that ended in March of this year? Can he intimate, approximately, the sum that the commission was able to pay into the Treasury as a result of last season’s operations?
– I regret that I cannot say off-hand when” the report will be available. However,’ I will make inquiries immediately and ensure that it is made available as soon as is practicable. The results of the commission’s activities last’ year were completely satisfactory and profitable.
– Can the Post.masterGeneral indicate whether rural automatic exchange equipment is yet being produced in Australia? If not, are plans in hand for Australian production, and is it likely that this will permit early and more widespread employment of this valuable equipment? Oan the Minister indicate the general rate of installation of rural automatic exchanges under this Government, and under previous administrations?
– In the past, rural automatic exchange equipment has been obtained from abroad, but, with a view to building up Australian production capacity of this particular equipment, the department has been offering very much more for the Australian article than it pays for the imported article. I understand that several Australian firms are now manufacturing this and other types of automatic telephone equipment. The Government realizes the special position of the small community.
A rural automatic exchange gives 24-hour service, on 365 days in the year, to the person who previously could use his telephone only from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on week days, and not at all during the week-ends. I cannot give the honorable member the exact figures but, from recollection, twenty rural automatic exchanges were installed throughout Australia in the last four years of Labour’s administration, and 474 have been installed in the last four years of this Government’s term of office.
– Last week I asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture a question on the inability of countries other than Great Britain to buy meat from Australia even though they were willing to offer a higher price. In answer, the right honorable gentleman said that, under the 15-year meat agreement, a free quota was available to buyers other than Great Britain, but had not been taken up. I ask the Minister now how that can be so when applications by countries other than Great Britain for quotas of meat for which they are willing to pay more than the agreement price have been refused.
– I am not able to answer the latter part of the question, but if the honorable member will give me particulars of individual cases, I shall be glad to supply him with an explicit reply. The fact of the matter is that last year there “was negotiated within the long-term meat agreement a free quota which, in fact, was not fully taken up. At the present time, there is a free quota for the meat year in prospect of 10,000 tons. That is a very substantial quota, and we have an understanding with the United Kingdom Government that if we sell that, we are free to state a case for an additional free quota, and, on last year’s experience, that would be met. If the honorable member will put to me any particular instances, I shall be glad to have them inquired into and give him a straight reply.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister for Immigration, and to preface that question a little I refer to the recent launching of a ship built at the Whyalla shipyards by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited for the Australian Shipbuilding Board. The chairman of the company, when speaking at a gathering subsequent to the launching, said that one great regret the company had was that launchings did not take place more frequently; that the reason why the company was not able to launch more ships was not the one it had been accustomed to hearing, namely, lack of equipment ; that the company had five slipways of which only two were in use-
-Order! What is the question? The honorable member is giving information.
– I am very sorry, but at the commencement of my question, I very courteously asked you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I could preface it a little. I thought I had your consent to do so. The chairman of the company said that the organization had spent more than £2,000,000 on the establishment of the yards. Subsequent to the chairman’s comment and eulogy of the workers employed in the yard, the Premier of South Australia said, in reply to a question, that he did not know of any shortage of homes at Whyalla.
– Order !
– Will the Minister confer with the company’s chairman of directors with a view to ascertaining the exact position, and inducing tradesmen to migrate to the Commonwealth so as to be employed in the shipyards at Whyalla ?
– In the immigration, programme, in the nominated British aspect of it in particular, I am happy to say we are securing a very high proportion of tradesmen coming to Australia. They number something over 32 per cent, of the total breadwinner intake in that category. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, through its various enterprises, has received a considerable proportion of immigrant labour in recent years. Indeed, some 73 per cent, of the additional labour which has gone into the manufacture of steel has come from immigrant labour from European countries. Certain British tradesmen have also gone to that organization. I do not know precisely how many have gone to the shipyards, ‘but I shall look into that aspect. However, I can assure the honorable gentleman that we are doing our best to see that the more essential productive elements of the economy are receiving as much labour as we can make available through our programme.
– While the Minister for the Interior is considering the suggestion made by the honorable member for Farrer that the names of the respective political parties to which candidates belong be printed on ballot-papers in order to assist the electors, will he also consider the advantages of adopting the system used in Great Britain with regard to “ How-to-vote “ cards, namely the display of large “How-to-vote” cards for each party inside the polling booths, thus avoiding any occasion for party representation outside the booths and also saving the considerable amount of paper and expense at present involved in printing tens of thousands of “How-to-vote” cards for each candidate?
– The matter has not received consideration, but in view of the honorable member’s representations, I shall certainly look into it.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General a question. As permanently incapacitated returned soldiers need telephones for medical purposes, and as the Government already supplies such phones at reduced rates to permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen living in country areas, will he recommend to the Government that it extend the advantages of that scheme to incapacitated returned soldiers living in metropolitan areas ?
– We will investigate the matter.
– I desire to ask the
Minister for Labour and National Services a question relating to the industrial problems of the few remaining operators of small coastal ships. Will the Minister confer with his colleague in the Senate, who deals with transport and shipping, with a view to setting up a committee to inquire into the problems of small coastal shipping to see what governments, State and Federal, can do to arrest its steady decline and imminent total extinction? Will he bear in mind that the withdrawal, one after another, of small ships and the virtual closing of small ports militate heavily against the decentralization of population so badly needed for the healthy development of our country?
– I do believe that there has been a regrettable decline in the incidence of small coastal shipping of the type described by the honorable gentleman, and I can readily appreciate that this has had a serious limiting effect upon economic development in the areas which were formerly serviced by those ships. It is, I believe, a direct consequence of entirely unsatisfactory industrial relations which have developed at and between those ports. There have already been some discussions with my colleague, but I shall adopt the honorable member’s suggestion and see whether we can carry the matter further into the field of discussion with State governments also to bring about a very desirable improvement.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that financial institutions, both here and overseas, have been urging upon this Government, and the British Government too, that the best check to racing inflation in this country is to raise interest rates or to follow a policy of dearer money. Is it not a fact that the Government proposes to permit a substantial rise in interest rates as from the 1st January next if it is successful at the December elections?
– The answer to the question by the honorable member for Kennedy is “ No “.
– I ask the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs whether it is a fact that the Soviet has severed diplomatic relations with
Australia. If this is a fact, along what avenue does one write to or have communications with the Kremlin? This is of interest to many thousands in Australia who have pen friends behind the iron curtain. Is this avenue open to all in Australia, to every individual, even to an obvious security risk?
– It is a fact that the Russians have broken off diplomatic relations with us, but as far as I know, it is still a function of the Postmaster-General to carry mail between this country and Russia. So far as I know, that is normally being carried out.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture aware that wool-growers are alarmed at the possible adverse effect on the wool industry of the export of stud merino rams to South Africa ? Has the Minister’s attention been directed to the considerable interest evinced by the South African wool-growers, who will benefit from crossbreeding experiments with South African merinos? Will he give to the House and to those engaged in the industry an assurance that action will be taken to prohibit the further export of stud merino rams for scientific or other purposes?
– I am aware, of course, that there is a powerful and undoubtedly majority school of thought in the wool industry that the Australian merino should be preserved for this country. However, there is also a major body of opinion strongly to the contrary. I have made it clear that it is the policy of this Government that there shall be no commercial export of merino rams from this country without the approval of the wool industry. One dozen rams have been exported - four to the University of California, four’ to the South African Government and four to the United Kingdom Government - at the request of those authorities for the opportunity ‘ to use Australian merino rams in the study of certain genetic problems in the breeding of sheep. Australia is greatly indebted to the United Kingdom for the whole of our cattle industry and for the constant availability of the skill of the superb breeders of the United Kingdom, both Government and private enterprise. This country has also had freely available to it from the great universities and other organizations of the United States of America the results of research and new technological processes. I feel, therefore, that the Australian people would not wish the Australian Government to deny 30 small and reasonable a request as has been made in this matter.
– by leave - Honorable members will be aware of the great floods that have recently been causing great damage and distress in India and Pakistan. Those disasters have been widely reported in the press, and the subject has been raised in this House by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and other honorable members. The Government, having taken note of press reports of the disaster, has now had an opportunity to study also reports from the Australian diplomatic representatives in the sub-continent of India and Pakistan. As a result, it has been decided to make a gift of £20,000 - £10,000 each to India and Pakistan - for the relief of flood victims in the two countries.
We in Australia have been deeply concerned at the extent and severity of the floods, which have persisted over an unusually long period. Even in areas accustomed to some degree of seasonal flooding, the present visitation has been on an exceptional scale and has come at an unexpected time. The floods have extended “over a front of approximately 1,500 miles and have involved all three major river systems of the sub-continent with their many tributaries. In some places, the flood waters have reached alltime record levels. Damage has been on an enormous scale. Confirmed deaths have numbered many hundreds. Hundreds of thousands of homes have been destroyed or severely damaged and millions of people are homeless and distressed. In addition, there have been tremendous losses of cattle and irreparable damage to crops has been sustained. Communications, roads and railways have been disrupted in places, and irrigation channels have been severely damaged, and in some instances repairs will extend over several years. I know that the Australian people share the Government’s concern and Will gladly join in extending sincere sympathy to the people and governments of India and Pakistan. Already, the Red Gross Society and other private organizations in Australia have provided some assistance by voluntary effort. The help that a small nation like Australia can give in a major disaster of this kind must, of necessity, seem comparatively small, but at least our gift will bring practical, relief to some of our distressed friends in India and Pakistan and will help to alleviate in some measure the deep and widespread suffering caused by the disaster.
– by leave - I should like to express satisfaction at the action taken by the Government in this important matter. The action that I took was taken at the suggestion of the mission authorities in India and Pakistan of the Methodist Chuch, but. I am sure the Government’s decision will commend itself to every Australian, especially in the light of the assistance that we received from India when floods occurred in this country recently.
– I lay on the table the following paper : -
Commonwealth Grants Commission Act - Commonwealth Grants Commission - Twenty-second Report, 1055.
The recommendations contained in the report will be adopted by the Government, and the enabling legislation will be introduced’ to-day.
– As Chairman, I present the report of the Public Works Committee relating to the following matter: -
Proposed erection of Commonwealth Offices at Phillip-street, Sydney.
Ordered to be printed.
– I have received from both the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) and the honorable member for Blaxland (Ma’. E. James Harrison) intimations that they desire to submit definite matters of urgent public importance to the House for discussion. I have selected the matter proposed by the honorable member for Yarra, namely -
The urgent necessity for the Federal Government to take such steps as are necessary for the restoration of the quarterly cost of living adjustments to the basic wage in view of the recently announced heavy increase in the cost of living figures.
Is the proposal supported?
Fewer than, eight honorable members having risen in support of the proposal,
– As fewer than eight honorable members have risen in support of the proposal, the business of the day will be called on.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harbison) agreed to-
That Standing Order 104 - 11 o’clock rulebe suspended until the end of next month.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Beale) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of moneys be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to authorize the raising and expending of moneys for the purposes of housing.
Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Beale and- Sir Arthur Fadden do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Beale., and read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to authorize the raising of loan moneys totalling £33,200,000 for financial assistance to the States for housing. The provision of £33,200,000 in 1955-56, for which approval is now being sought, represents an increase of £4,050,000 over the amount advanced to the States in 1954-55 in meeting in full their requests for housing finance under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. At the 30th June, 1955, Commonwealth advances to the States since the inception of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement scheme had reached a total of £207,359,000. At that date 83,091 dwellings had been completed under the scheme in the five participating States. Of this number 14,318 were completed during 1954-55, compared with 12,683 during 1953-54. Tasmania decided to withdraw from the scheme in 1950 and has not participated in it since that year. The ten-year period during which State housing projects might be commenced under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement runs out during this financial year at various dates for the several States ranging from December, 1..55, to April, 1956. However, under the terms of the agreement the Commonwealth is required to advance to the States the moneys required to complete housing projects commenced during the prescribed ten-year period.
At the last Premiers Conference, Commonwealth proposals for continued co-operation with the States upon housing were outlined to the States and subsequently detailed proposals were forwarded to the States for their consideration. During a recent conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, convened to consider this matter, the States put forward alternative proposals which are now being examined by the Commonwealth. When a new scheme has been formulated in consultation with the States it is the Government’s intention to bring any proposed new arrangements before the House for approval. This bill therefore provides for financial assistance to the States for housing in accordance with the present agreement ot under any new arrangement approved by the Parliament. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Sir Arthur Fadden) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund sums for the purposes of financial assistance to the States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Sir Arthur Fadden and Mr. Beale do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Sir Arthur Fadden, and read a first time.
– I move -
Tha t the bill :be now read a second time.
The purpose of the bill is -to authorize the payment, during the current financial year, of special grants amounting to £18,500,000 to South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. The payment of these grants has been recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission in its twenty-second report, which was tabled to-day. In its twenty-second report, the commission has continued to base its recommendations upon the general principle of financial need. The commission has interpreted this principle to mean that, provided a claimant State makes an effort to raise revenue and control its expenditure which is reasonable by comparison with the efforts of the. nonclaimant States, its special grant should be sufficient to enable it to provide services at a level not appreciably below those provided in the non-claimant States. The chief method used by the commission in applying this principle is to make a detailed comparison of the budget results of the claimant States with those of the non-claimant States. In the course of this comparison, particular account is taken of differences in levels of expenditure and in efforts to raise revenue.
Although the commission has used the same general approach for many years, changes in detail are made from time to time. This year, for example, the commission has further increased the allowances which it makes for the greater difficulties in providing social services in the claimant States. . These greater difficulties arise from such factors as sparsity of population, age distribution and overhead costs. The allowances for greater difficulties, which were increased last year, have been -increased by the commission again this year in the light of the latest census figures.
The special grants recommended each year are divided into two parts. One part represents the commission’s estimate of the State’s financial needs for the current financial year. This part is regarded by the commission as an advance payment, which will be the subject of an adjustment two years later when the commission has examined in detail the audited budget results of the States for that year. The other part of the grant represents a final adjustment of the special grant paid two years earlier. In arriving at the final adjustment to the special grants paid in 1953-54, the commission decided, once again, that a balanced budget was the appropriate budget standard. The following grants have been recommended by the commission for payment in 1955-56 : -
These special grants recommended for payment in 1955-56 are. substantially larger than the special grants paid to the claimant States in 1954-55. The increases involved are as follows: -
In Chapter VII. of the commission’s twenty-second report, honorable members will find an outline of the reasons given by the commission for the above increases. Briefly, the commission gives as the main causes the apparent insufficiency of the grants paid in 1954-55 - which were £3,100,000 less than those paid in 1953-54 - together with the increases in salary and wage margins, State debt charges and in population which are expected to increase the States’ expenditures in 1955-56.
The largest increase recommended is in the grant to South Australia. The special grant paid to South Australia in 1954-55 amounted to £2,250,000, compared with a grant of £6,100,000 in 1953-54. When deciding the amount to be recommended for payment to South Australia in 1954-55, the commission was aware that the amount required to balance the State’s budget in that year would probably be of the order of £4,500,000. The amount recommended was substantially less than this figure, because the commission took into account the exceptionally large accumulated surplus available to that State as at the 30th June, 1954. The commission now regards £2,234,000 of this accumulated surplus as having been used to meet South Australia’s published deficit for 1954-55. This has left an accumulated surplus of only £540,000 available to meet the State’s needs in 1955-56. To a substantial extent, therefore, the increase in the grant recommended for payment to South Australia in 1955-56 reflects the fact that the accumulated surplus available to meet the financial needs of the State in 1955-56 is very much smaller than that available in 1954-55. The balance of the increase provides for higher expenditure, due, in particular, to marginal increases in salaries and wages and enlarged publicdebt charges.
The increases in the grants recommended for payment to Western Australia and Tasmania arise, in part, from the commission’s revision of the allowances for greater difficulties in providing social services. This revision, as I explained earlier in my speech, was made in the light of the latest census figures. The balance provides for increased expenditure on account of such factors as increases in salaries and wages.
On the basis of the preliminary budget estimates submitted to the commission by the claimant States, the effect of the commission’s recommendations would be to leave each of them with a small deficit in 1955-56. Honorable members are reminded, however, that these estimates are tentative only. In two years’ time, when the States’ audited budget results for 1955-56 are available, the commission will recommend whatever adjustments it considers necessary.
The special grants recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission have been adopted each year by the Australian Government of the day, and the Government considers that the commission’s recommendation should be adopted again this year.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
It is the purpose of the bill to obtain the approval of the Parliament to Australian membership of the International Finance Corporation. Proposals for the establishment of an international finance corporation have been under discussion in the Economic and Social Council and in the United Nations General Assembly since 1951. The proposals always had the strong support of the under-developed countries, but there was an important development in November, 1954, when the United States Administration announced that Congress would be asked to approve United States participation in the proposed corporation. In December, 1954, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution supporting the concept of an international finance corporation and requesting the International Bank to prepare and secure agreement on a suitable charter. There followed some months of intensive examination of the proposal by the International Bank and, after consultation with representatives of member countries, including Australia, the bank drew up and submitted to governments for acceptance the articles of agreement which are reproduced as a schedule to this bill.
The main purpose of tie corporation is defined in its articles of agreement in the following terms: -
To further economic development by encouraging the growth of productive private enterprise in member countries, particularly in the less developed areas. . . .
We all know that the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development has been highly successful in channelling public and private funds into development projects in different parti’ of the world. Australia is not only a member of the bank, but is also the largest recipient of International Bank loans. It may be asked, therefore, why it is necessary to establish a new international institution in the foreign loans field. Briefly, the answer is that there are two important limitations to the scope of International Bank activities.
In the first place, the bank is not permitted to lend direct to a private enterprise unless the member government in question guarantees repayment of the loan. I understand that this proviso has severely inhibited direct lending by the bank to private enterprise. In some cases, firms have been reluctant to borrow on such terms from the bank because of a fear that a government guarantee would lead to government interference in business operations. In other cases, governments have been unwilling to single out individual business undertakings and favour them with a government guarantee. In the second place, the International Bank can only make loans bearing fixed rates of interest with agreed schedules of amortization. In other words, the bank does not1 advance risk capital. But in many cases it is risk capital which is required to establish or expand a particular project. For example, though the long-term prospects of an investment may be favorable, there may be no possibility of immediate returns on the investment, and the financial position of the firm may not permit it to carry interest and amortization payments in the meantime.
From what I have said, it will be obvious that many promising projects may not be pursued because of the guarantee requirement in the bank’s articles, and because of the bank’s inability to make risk capital available. The International Finance Corporation has been specifically designed to fill this gap in the foreign lending field. Honorable members will have before them a copy of the articles of agreement which are attached as a schedule to the bill, but it may be helpful at this point if I summarize briefly some of the more important features of the articles.
Firstly, I emphasize that the corporation will be supplementary to and will not compete with the International Bank, As already mentioned, the corporation will concentrate on making risk capital available to private enterprise without government guarantee - a field in which the bank cannot operate. But, at the same time, the corporation will be closely affiliated with the bank. Indeed, membership of the corporation is to be confined to countries which are also members of the bank. The president of the bank will be the chairman of the corporation’s board of directors, and the board itself will be composed of executive directors of the bank. These arrangements will ensure that the corporation will have the benefit of the bank’s experience, and that the two institutions will operate in harmony. While I am on the subject of the corporation’s relations with private enterprise, I should also draw attention to the fact that in normal circumstances the corporation would be prohibited from assuming responsibility for taking part in the management of enterprises in which it invests. It is therefore prevented from investing in common stock carrying voting rights. Investments by the corporation may take various forms and will be adjusted to meet the needs of particular projects. In particular, it will be able to invest in securities which could be converted into common stock carrying voting rights on disposal by the corporation to private investors. But it was the general view of the countries participating in the drafting of the articles that it would be wrong for an international institution to become involved in the managerial responsibilities of private firms, and I must say that I share and support this view.
The authorized capital stock of the corporation is 100,000,000 dollars, and members will subscribe to this capital stock in the proportions in which they subscribe to the International Bank. Under certain circumstances the corporation may increase its capital stock, bur this requires a three-fourths majority and no member is obliged to subscribe to such an increase in capital. Accordingly, the bill before the House does not authorize expenditure beyond the initial subscription of 2,215,000 dollars. If the corporation were to expand its activities, it would normally be expected to do so in large part by attracting funds from private investors. For this reason, it has been given wide powers to borrow funds, to guarantee securities in which it has invested, and to sell securities which it has issued or guaranteed.
With regard to privileges and immunities, I might mention that the articles do not exempt the corporation from foreign exchange restrictions. There is . also a provision whereby the corporation may waive its privileges in certain circumstances. Apart from that, the privileges and immunities are the same as those currently accorded to the International Bank. It will be appreciated that the taxation immunities granted to the corporation under the articles are in some respects in conflict with current Australian practice. In particular, the exemption from tax of income derived from the corporation’s investment activities in Australia would be contrary to the Australian policy of taxing all profits originating in this country. The implications of this taxation immunity were pointed out to the board of the International Bank by our director there. The board recognized the difficulties the taxation clause was likely to present to some member countries, and a special waiver clause - not included in the International Rank articles - was inserted. The effect of this clause is to allow the corporation in its discretion to waive any privileges conferred under the articles to such an extent and upon such conditions as it may determine. The possibility that we might have to call on the corporation to exercise this power of waiver has been fully emphasized and placed on record during the drafting of the articles. In the last resort, the Government could fall back on its power to refuse investments in Australia by the corporation if it were dissatisfied with the conditions required by the corporation.
Finally, perhaps I should make it clear that Australia, by virtue of its having a director on the board of the International Bank, would also be on the board of the corporation, if it became a member. That is necessarily a brief summary of the articles, but it does, I think, bring out the main points. The Government has given careful consideration to the articles and an Australian representative participated in their drafting. It is the Government’s opinion that the articles provide a reasonable framework for the operation of the corporation.
I turn now to the more particular question of Australian interests in the corporation. It will be clear from what has been said earlier that, in the first instance, the corporation will concentrate its activities onthe underdeveloped countries of the world - countries such as those in SouthEast Asia. These are the countries where the disparity between the demand and the supply for capital on reasonable terms is greatest. Australia has always recognized its responsibilities towards such countries, and if the corporation can speed up their economic development, it will be working towards the same objective as Australia and other donor countries in the Colombo plan. The corporation can be regarded as an additional agency for channelling the flow of investment from the older industrial countries of the world to those in the early stage of development. For this reason alone, it might well be argued that the corporation deserves our support.
It should also be noted that the corporation would impose no conditions as to the territories in which any moneys it provides should be spent. A somewhat similar situation obtains in the case of the International Bank, and the last report of the bank indicates that in the year 1954-55 over 50 per cent, of bank loans was spent outside the United States of America. There can be little doubt that the activities of the corporation also will add directly to the demand for exports from the non-dollar world. It is not likely that Australia would benefit immediately from any such increase in demand, but the United Kingdom would undoubtedly do so and it, of course, is our largest market.
We would not be human, however, if we did not centre our attention on the possibility of direct investment by the corporation in Australian industry. Australia has always encouraged investment from overseas which will contribute to the development of the economy, and a general interest by the corporation in Australian industry would most certainly be welcomed by this Government.
– But not by the Opposition.
– No, because the Australian Labour party is a socialist party. That is why it cannot attract foreign capital to Australia. On the other hand, we must be careful not to raise false hopes. The corporation is, to some extent, experimental, and it is to be established in the first instance on a very moderate scale. The funds available will, therefore, be limited and the underdeveloped countries will have first priority on their use. I must also make it clear that the corporation will he operated on a business-like basis. It will be no giveaway source of funds. All projects submitted to it will be carefully examined, and where it does offer financial support it will expect to be reimbursed for the money it makes available and for the risks it assumes. In the short term, it would be unwise to expect too much in the way of direct investment in Australia by the corporation.
Taking the longer view, the advantages of membership may well be direct and real, nevertheless. Given good management - and I think this is assured by its affiliation with that successful institution, the International Bank - and a little luck, the corporation will grow in size and influence. It will be able to raise funds in much the same way as the International Bank has done by issuing securities1 and selling investments, and this could lead to a flow of capital well in excess of its original stock. In such circumstances, Australian industry could very well be a substantial recipient of corporation investments.
I would also direct the attention of the House to article 1, paragraphs (ii) and (iii) of the articles of agreement. These paragraphs provide for the corporation to’ act as a sort of clearing-house in bringing, together investment projects and investors and to help create conditions which will encourage the flow of capital between member countries. These “ nonfinancial “ activities of the corporation could be most important from our point of view. There has been some disappointment with the flow of private American capital abroad since the war, but nevertheless new private American capital is going abroad and earnings are being reinvested at about twice the rate of loans made by the International Bank and the American Export-Import Bank. If the corporation can tap new sources of private American capital and if it can encourage investment of that capital in countries outside Canada and Latin America it will contribute significantly to the economic development of the rest of the world, including Australia.
I now wish to refer briefly to the clauses of the bill. Clauses 1, 2, 3 and 4 are self-explanatory. Clause 5 provides for an appropriation to cover the Australian subscription of 2,215,000 dollars. If any additional subscription were to be contemplated, and I can see no early prospect of this, the sum would be included in the Estimates and submitted to the House in the normal way. Clause 6 is necessitated by the fact that each government which accepts the articles of agreement must deposit an instrument to the effect that it has accepted the agreement without reservation in accordance with its law, and has taken all steps necessary to enable it to carry out all its obligations under this agreement. The latter assurance could not be given under our existing law. The purpose of the clause in the bill is to enable the Government to give the necessary assurance without altering the law in detail at the present time. The clause is similar in intention to section 11 of the International Monetary Agreements Act 1947.
The articles of agreement will enter into force when they have been accepted by not fewer than 30 governments whose subscriptions comprise not less than 75 per cent, of the total. Original members of the corporation will be those which accept the agreement by the 31st December, 1956. The United States, United Kingdom and Canadian governments have already passed the legislation necessary for acceptance of membership and over 40 other governments have announced that they are taking the necessary legislative action. Our advice is that the entry into force of the articles is assured, and that the corporation is likely to commence operations early in 1956. The Government is of the opinion that Australia should be an original member of the corporation, and I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 20th October (vide page 1757), on motion by Mr. McMahon -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- I wish to say, first of all, that the general principles of the bill are sound. I emphasize the words “general principles”. The bill is long overdue, and is marked by an omission which shows that the Government’s advisers are not in touch with the Australian tobacco industry. The omission to which I refer vitally affects the industry, and is related to a matter in connexion with which the Government has consistently refused to advance money to the State governments. I shall deal with that matter at greater length later in my speech.
When Mr. J. H. Scullin became Prime Minister of the Labour Government in 1929 many people whose capital consisted of amounts ranging between £500 and £5,000 - and some whose only capital was their labour - began growing tobacco in areas surrounding Mareeba and Dimbulah. The influx of people into those areas was reminiscent of an old-time gold-rush. The general area around Mareeba and Dimbulah is very dry, being watered by only one river, the Walsh River. Until its value as a tobaccogrowing area was discovered land in this area was leased to cattle-growers under occupation licences at 2s. 6d.- a square mile. There was an opportunity, therefore, of developing the tobacco industry comparatively cheaply. The main difficulty today in relation to the increase of primary production is the excessive capital cost of the land from which primary producers have to make a living. Successive Queensland governments have established a number of dams in the area for irrigation purposes, with benefit to the tobaccogrowing industry, enabling it to reach the stage that it has now reached. Although I stated that the general area around Mareeba and Dimbulah is very dry, it is excellent country in which to grow tobacco of the right kind of leaf required for the manufacture of cigarette tobacco. It contains a good deal of mineral which, of course, is an asset. To assist the new tobacco-growing industry the Scullin Government reduced the excise on Australiangrown tobacco, with resultant immense benefit to the pioneers of the industry. The Scullin Labour Government, however, was succeeded in 1931 by a tory government, led by Mr. 3. A. Lyons. The Lyons Government lowered the import duties on imported tobacco, and increased the excise duty on Australiangrown tobacco by an amount equivalent to that by which it had lowered the import duties. That government was working definitely in the interests of the manufacturers, towards destroying the tobacco industry in Australia, and I regret to say that it was entirely successful at that time.
– Twenty-five year3 ago ! Let us have something more recent.
– It does not matter that the events of which. I am speaking occurred 25 years ago, because many of the people who were ruined at that time are still ruined as a result of the action of the Lyons Government. Many of the people who, as I stated, engaged in tobacco-growing with capital of from £500 to £5,000 are to-day working for wages, because they lost all that they had risked in trying to open up a new industry. Many of the original tobaccofarmers lost all, or part, of their savings and some of them, who had depended on their own labour as capital, became destitute. Never was there an occasion when a Prime Minister more nearly suffered physical violence as the occasion on which the Right Honorable J. A. Lyons visited Mareeba after those tobaccogrowers had been ruined. A very large hall in Mareeba was full of men who knew that they were ruined. The then Prime Minister had not been on the stage five minutes before it was necessary to get a conveyance to take .him to Atherton to get him away from these men, who had been rendered destitute, and save physical violence. I did not mention eggs. That was the situation, and it showed the feeling of those people who had been rendered destitute. I say that any man here, if he suddenly found himself rendered destitute, would be very angry with whoever was responsible.
How true are the words of the Minister in his second-reading speech on the Tobacco Industry Bill 1955! I quote -
We are fortunate that there have been a number of tobacco-growers throughout Australia who have been confident that an efficient tobacco-growing industry could be established.
How true! The Minister continued -
These growers have maintained their interest and stuck to the industry through very difficult times.
How true! Now, these men, these pioneers of the industry, are the people who are responsible for this new development of which the Minister had so much to say in his precis of the bill. They stuck to it, and they were satisfied that we could establish the industry. Tobacco growing means employment to very many men, but without those pioneers no industry would have been established and the Government would not be getting income from it. These men have built up the tobacco industry, which now means so much to the finances of the Government and the people who use the product. They suffered privation unknown to the present-day worker or primary producer in order to hold on to their land. It is my sincerest hope that the present Government, and governments that succeed it, will never forget these pioneers of the tobacco industry. We owe to them, as we do to many other pioneers in various parts of Australia and in various activities, a debt that should be honoured. This Government or any other government - I emphasize that - should see that these men who have fought and suffered to establish an industry should be protected from those who wish to destroy them, or who wish to take all the profit from their industry.
The Minister also made this statement in his second-reading speech -
The Government has declared its intention to establish the tobacco-growing industry permanently on a profitable and expanding basis.
Well, I listened to the emphasis placed by the Minister on those words, and I said, “ Well, thank goodness they are going to do something”. But I must admit that the effort has come very late indeed. The first government to try to repair the damage created by the Lyons Government, and to take an interest in the revival of the tobacco industry, was the Queensland Labour Government. I was a Minister in that Government at the time. We introduced a co-operation bill, and also provided financial assistance. No hand was lifted by the Commonwealth at the time. Nothing whatever was done to assist the State Government. Personally, I was successful in getting the farmers in the Dimbulah area to form a co-operative society in conjunction with the Mareeba growers to cover the growing and manufacture of tobacco. And it was only the establishment of co-operative societies that enabled the growers to withstand the later attacks on the industry by the manufacturers. In the first year of the revival of the industry, the manufacturers bought all the tobacco and all the rubbish. What I mean by “ rubbish “ is bad pieces and sticks and stems, &c, that the farmers take out when they are grading their tobacco and put aside later on to be burnt.
The manufacturers not only purchased the tobacco on the market, but also went to the farms and purchased the rubbish. That may appear a strange thing to my listeners, but the reason became obvious afterwards. They put that tobacco on the market with the idea of creating the opinion that the quality of the tobacco was unsound. That was their first effort. Following that, for two years, they refused to buy tobacco of good quality that was placed on the market. In 1950-51 they purchased no tobacco, but in 1951-52 they purchased the whole of the crop plus some other tobacco that was alleged not to be of sufficient quality the year before. When they purchased this tobacco in 1951-52 they paid the highest price in the world for tobacco. Even Virginian tobacco, well advertised over the best part of a century, never brought the prices that this tobacco brought in north Queensland. That, in itself, demonstrated, I think for all time, that the land is suitable for the growing of tobacco. And I can assure you, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, that despite the stories we hear about lung cancer, people will not get lung cancer as bong as they smoke Australian tobacco. Of course, some people talk about the qualities of tobacco. I was reading a tobacco manufacturer’s magazine in which this statement appeared : “ Cigarettes imported into England for the purpose of local consumption in England must contain 100 per cent, tobacco “. I want to emphasize that statement. The article continued - “But cigarettes imported into England for re-export oan contain filling.” It means that they are not even 100 per cent, tobacco. So we have Australian tobacco bringing the highest price in the world.
The principles underlying the bill are sound, but it is possible that the manufacturers, who have unlimited credit facilities, will gain control of the industry by even more subtle methods than they have employed in the past. What I say may seem to be in the nature of a prophecy, but I have had so much experience of the way in which tobacco manufacturers work that I have learnt to watch their every move. In the Abergowrie area, in the Ingham district, the tobacco manufacturers are buying land and are growing tobacco on it. Eventually the position may be reached where the other growers will be paying to assist the manufacturers, as holders of large areas of -tobacco-growing land, and the manufacturers will, of course, be making a profit on the manufacturing side. I do not think that the manufacturers would worry if the growers confined their activities to growing, because the main profits come from the manufacture of cigarettes and cigarette tobacco. I doubt whether, anywhere else in the world, co-operatives have entered into competition with the big manufacturing organizations.
The Minister places great emphasis on the quality of the tobacco. As the manufacturers have paid the highest price in the world for this tobacco, that should guarantee that the quality is excellent. I am sure that the Minister agrees. However, quality cannot be maintained unless more technical personnel are brought into the industry. I have in mind men who will do most of their work in the field, and will be able to advise farmers and see that the standard of tobacco is kept up to its present high level. Obviously, huge and costly scientific experiments are not necessary, because the. quality of our tobacco already equals that of any in the world. State expenditure on technical services has, since 1951-1952, increased by more than £1,000,000, and the number of technical personnel has increased by 420, or 18 per cent. Those are the figures given in the Minister’s second-reading speech. I ask honorable members to compare that expenditure with this Government’s grant of up to £500,000 a year until 1959-60. I point out that this amount includes not only tobacco but all forms of primary production.
The Minister seems unaware of the value of water conservation and irrigation to the tobacco industry. Nothing could be more vital, because the best tobaccogrowing country has not a heavy rainfall. That is why the area around Dimbulah and Mareeba is so suitable. Irrigation is carried out not by means of sprays, but by channels running parallel with the growing plants. A tobacco stem of, say, 9 feet would produce a very coarse leaf. The best type is about 4 feet high. Unlike many other forms of production, in the growing of tobacco enlargement of the plant is not sought. Channel irrigation permits controlled growing. The Minister did not say very much about irrigation, because this Government has done nothing to assist the State governments in that respect. The Queensland Government is building a dam at Tinnaroo, on the Atherton Tablelands. When completed, this dam will make hundreds of thousands of acres of land suitable for the growing of tobacco, but the Commonwealth Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) has absolutely refused to give any financial assistance to this project. No more valuable work for the tobacco industry could bc undertaken. I give the Minister credit for endeavouring to do something for the industry, and hope that he will direct the attention of the Treasurer to the necessity to assist the Queensland Government to develop the Tinnaroo dam rapidly.
Similar considerations apply in the Clare and Ayr districts on the Burdekin River, where quite a number of tobacco farms have been opened up. The Commonwealth Government has refused to assist the Queensland Government to carry out the Burdekin River scheme. Great development could take place in tobacco industry if Commonwealth assistance were given to Queensland as it is to other States. I was present at the opening of the Bell Bay aluminium project and heard the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) recite the wonderful things that had been done, with federal assistance, in the various States. A notable exception was Queensland. I do not, qf course, object to what has been done for the other States. The omission of Queensland was so obvious that I think any honorable member, whether he be on the Government side or on our side, must admit that it is a shocking state of affairs.
As I said before, on the whole, the principles of the bill are sound. Future governments can review the operations of this measure, and improve it from time to time. The State Ministers for Agriculture, and the tobacco-growers, are in agreement on it. While I admit that the Commonwealth may be doing something, it was really the State Minister for Agriculture who laid down the main principles of the scheme, and it is for that reason that I say those -principles are sound. One matter of major importance is the need to review the percentage of Australian tobacco that is to be incorporated in the quantity of tobacco marketed annually. I think the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has some idea of the need for this, and the Government has done something in connexion with utilizing the increased local production. Each year, there should be some provision for the inclusion of an increased quantity of Australian tobacco in the general tobacco pool. I realize that the percentage will have to be arrived at by some problematical method, but whatever that percentage may be, it should be sufficient to cover any increased production in any particular year. Such a provision must allow for the automatic inclusion in the pool of increased production each year. That is of vital importance if we are to avoid delay in building up the tobacco industry in the way in which we wish to build it.
I do wish to impress upon the Minister and members of Cabinet the vital necessity for investigating the question of irrigation. Although we may have all the technical advice in the. world on how to grow better tobacco, we shall never succeed unless we have a proper irrigation scheme. For that reason, irrigation should be one of the first matters to be investigated. At present, the quality of the leaf is high. “We want greater numbers of technical advisers, and field men, to ensure that the quality is maintained, but if we are to build up the industry in the way it should he built up, we must have irrigation. I emphasize again the need for irrigation, because it seems apparent that this matter was overlooked when the bill was drafted originally, and that it has only now been brought to the Government’s attention.
Much more could be said about the bill, but I think I have, put clearly and logically before the House the points I desired to raise in the interests of tobaccogrowers. The last, but by far the most important, point about the whole bill is the fact that if the present Government takes an active interest in the tobacco industry, it may rediscover Queensland, particularly north Queensland.
– We have just listened to a rather extraordinary speech containing quite a number of inaccuracies, and I should like to refer to one or two of the points that have been mentioned. The first point I noticed was that the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Bruce) mentioned, not once but three or four times during his speech, that what the Government has done has shown that its advisers were not in touch with the tobacco industry. Perhaps he did not listen very carefully to the secondreading speech delivered by the Minister for Social Services (Mr. McMahon) on behalf of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen), in which he pointed out quite clearly that a tobacco advisory committee has been established for some time. That committee is comprised of representatives of the Commonwealth and State Governments, the growers and the manufacturers. That being so, all interested parties are represented on the one committee. That committee, in fact, is the advisory committee to the Government, and had a good deal to do with the background of the legislation before the House at the moment.
The honorable member for Leichhardt devoted a good deal of his time to giving details of the early history of the industry, particularly that part of the industry carried on in north Queensland, and to referring to some of the problems confronting the industry at that time. He claimed that a previous federal government had assisted the manufacturers to the disadvantage of the growers. I do not propose to deal with anything that happened 20 or 30 years ago, but I should just like to ask the executive member of the Australian Labour party who is sitting at the table what the Labour Government did during its eight years of office prior to 1949 to. rectify the situation which it claimed existed then. In fact, it appears that the actions taken by that Labour Government during its eight years of office aggravated the dissension between the growers and manufacturers at that time because an extraordinarily difficult situation confronted the present Government when it took office in 1949.
The honorable member for Leichhardt spoke also of the “ effort “. I presume he meant the measures taken at that time and the action -that has followed since. He said that very little had been done, but again I remind him that for some years after the termination of the war a
Labour government was in office and it did nothing at all during that time to rectify the rather difficult situation that had arisen. Shortly after being elected to office - in fact, it was early in 1950 - the present Government did take some action to bring the manufacturers and the growers together in an endeavour to overcome the problems that existed then, and to see that all usable Australian leaf was used by the Australian manufacturers. From 1951 onwards, we have seen evidence of tangible results from those efforts. That evidence has been referred to by the honorable member for Leichhardt.
The honorable member also mentioned quality. The problems that arose in connexion with the quality of leaf in 1951 were still evident in 1952. They were problems relating to the leaf that was surplus after auctions had been held, but I think the honorable member’s remarks indicated quite clearly that the actions taken by the present Minister for Commerce and Agriculture on behalf of the Government have met with some success in bringing both parties together to negotiate on problems relating to quality and grading. The work which was undertaken at that time by officers of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture in conjunction with officers of the State Departments of Agriculture in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia has achieved some very fruitful results indeed in that direction.
The honorable member referred also, at length, to the irrigation requirements of north Queensland as a very necessary adjunct to the tobacco industry there/ He knows, of course - and he referred to the fact at the outset - that that is purely a responsibility of the Queensland Government. However, having acknowledged that fact himself, the honorable member stated that the Australian Government has not given the Queensland Government sufficient money to discharge this responsibility. Lt is interesting to note that) since this Government has been in office, tax reimbursements to the Queensland Government have reached record levels and record sums of loan money have been allocated to Queensland by the Australian Loan Council. That is, in effect, the financial background to such undertakings, and it is purely the responsibility of the Queensland Government to ensure that the money is used in the best possible way for the development of the State. It is interesting to note also that in the last two financial years the Queensland Government has shown substantial surpluses, which it has put into reserve funds. If development of the northern parts of Queensland had been retarded by lack of funds, and the claim made by the honorable member for Leichhardt that irrigation has not reached the stage of development that it should have reached is correct, it is strange that the Queensland Government did not see fit to overcome the problem by using the surpluses that it has put aside in reserve funds.
The honorable member for Leichhardt mentioned also the need for additional technical officers and scientific knowledge in the tobacco industry. ‘ As we know, the main purpose of the bill probably is to make it possible to overcome that lack of skill and knowledge. Perhaps it is just as well to refer to the bill, because it is the subject of discussion in this debate. As you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, know, the principal purpose of the measure is to establish the Tobacco Industry Trust Account, which is to be devoted to the expansion of research and advisory activities for the tobacco industry in the various States in which tobacco is grown. The trust account will receive contributions from three separate sources - ‘first, the tobacco-growers themselves, secondly, the tobacco manufacturers in Australia, and, thirdly, the Australian Government. These contributions will assist in achieving the objective that has been clearly stated by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in this House - the establishment of the tobaccogrowing industry in Australia on a permanent, expanding and profitable basis. That objective is being kept very clearly in mind, and every action of the Government in relation to the tobacco industry since early 1950 has been directed towards that specific aim.
The importance of the tobacco industry in Australia is acknowledged. There is no doubt that it can play an important part in national development in several States, and particularly in the northern part of Australia. It provides opportunities for closer settlement in many areas where the poorer kinds of sandy soil do not permit other agricultural pursuits on a worthwhile scale and where the climate is suitable for the growing of tobacco. The opportunities for development in northern Queensland particularly are considerable.
– There are important tobacco-growing areas in southern Queensland also.
– There are other areas in northern Australia where development in the future may be just as important. As I have been reminded by my colleague, the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe), there are other very important tobacco-growing areas in southern Queensland also. One of the main areas, of course; is the Inglewood district, and there -are other areas near Maryborough and Bundaberg that make a considerable contribution towards the production of tobacco in Queensland. Tobacco now plays an important part in agricultural production in the southwestern part of Western Australia, and the industry is important in Victoria also. Climatic and soil conditions in other parts of Australia provide an opportunity to promote development by the expansion of tobacco-growing. This type of agriculture allows very intensive land utilization, because only a very small acreage is required by each grower. This fact presents great opportunities for closer settlement, which is of strategic importance in the northern areas of Australia.
The tobacco industry is important also because it helps to conserve overseas exchange. When we realize that imports of tobacco last financial year amounted to £17,300,000, which included £10,800,000 in dollars, we can understand the importance of the industry in present circumstances when it is necessary to conserve overseas exchange much more carefully than perhaps was necessary 10, 15 or 20 years ago. Apart from the conservation of overseas exchange, there are prospects for the development of the manufacturing industry in Australia to earn overseas exchange. Apart from conserving overseas exchange by saving what we are spending at the present time on the importation of tobacco, development of the industry in Australia would allow the tobacco manufacturers to earn foreign exchange by the export of manufactured tobacco, which we hope will be possible in the nottoofardistant future. The tobacco manufacturing industry in this country is still dependent to an extremely great degree upon imported leaf. Although production in Australia has expanded greatly in recent years, especially during the last two financial years, only approximately 14 per cent, of the tobacco used in manufacture in Australia is Australian grown. Customs and excise duties have been used as a means to stimulate the profitable use of Australian leaf by manufacturers, and, since 1951-52, this has become more evident. I shall quote some, figures to substantiate that statement. In 1951-52, production of all classes of tobacco amounted to 32,100,000 lb. In 1954-55, total production was 43j600,000 lb. - an increase of 11,500,000 lb., or 36 per cent., since 1951-52. Those figures support my claim that production has expanded considerably during the last two financial years.
In 1952, the Australian Agricultural Council, which consists of the Commonwealth Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, and the State Ministers for Agriculture, prepared production aims for five years for most of the major primary producing industries in Australia, including the tobacco industry. These aims were set down as something that it was considered could be achieved in favorable circumstances. The booklet Agricultural Production Aims and Policy, which explains the aims approved by the Australian Agricultural Council in April, 1952, states the aims for the tobacco industry as follows?-
The aim of 16,500 acres, against 6,000 acres grown in 1950-51, is considered attainable, having in mind plans for the expansion of the crop in north Queensland and Western Australia. The area aims for the respective States are - Queensland, 10,000 acres; Western Australia, 5,000 acres ; Victoria, 1 ,000 acres ; New South Wales, 500 acres.
Of course, we know we still have a long way to go towards achieving those aims. I have quoted them merely to demonstrate the importance that is attached to the tobacco industry in Australia to-day and to emphasize that it is considered that, with proper opportunities, there are prospects of expansion to that degree. In fact, the area under tobacco has increased from 6,000 acres in 1950-51 to 9,380 acres in 1954-55. I think the House will agree that that is a considerable expansion in a relatively short time. During that period, and particularly at the last two auction sales, there has been a very significant improvement in the quality of Australian tobacco leaf. We know, of course, that the Australian consumer has become accustomed, and has been educated, to the use of the flue-cured type of American leaf, which we call Virginia leaf, but, in fact, as was stated by the honorable member, for Leichhardt, the Australian leaf is proving a very good substitute for it. We think that there will be no difficulty whatsoever, provided a rich quality leaf is obtained, in the progressive change-over from the present Virginia leaf to the Australian leaf in the future. The production figures which I cited a moment ago included the previous production year 1954-55. I have just obtained the production estimates for the 1955-56 period, and it is expected that the area planted under tobacco during the present year will reach 12,000 acres. That confirms the expansion which is taking place in the industry at the present time.
There are three phases to be considered in the industry. The first is the growing side of the industry, the second is the manufacturing or processing side and the third the marketing side. It is a fact, of course) that special and exacting knowledge is required for the first two phases, and that the costs of early development in the tobacco industry are relatively high. It is, therefore, necessary to have security for long-range development. If there are high development costs at the outset, there must be some guarantee of long-range security in the industry if it is to expand. So far, I have referred to the expansion which has taken place over the last two years and which is continuing. This is some indication of the security which has already been achieved by the tobacco-growing industry.
The Government has given some form of protection, as I indicated earlier - one might say some form of incentive - by the imposition of special duty rates where the imported leaf is blended with a prescribed quantity of Australian leaf. This is designed to absorb all of the output of Australian leaf as time goes on. I wish to refer to percentages in relation to those duties as another indication of the expansion which has taken place. These figures relate to the acreage and production to which I have already referred, and show how the Government has kept its word in relation to the duty basis. In 1951-52, the duty rate was on the basis of the use by Australian manufacturers of 3 per cent, of Australian leaf for cigarettes and 5 per cent, of Australian leaf for tobacco, in conjunction with imported leaf. For 1955-56, the basis has been increased to H per cent, for cigarettes and 11$ per cent, for tobacco. In accordance with the information given to us and on estimates made by the Tobacco Advisory Committee, these percentages will exactly absorb the total production of Australian leaf at the present time.
In addition to the Government’s policy in relation to these matters, there has been some further evidence of Government assistance to this important tobaccogrowing industry. There is a tobacco leaf production grant, which is now paid on the basis of £15,000 per annum to producing States, on the understanding that they themselves assist in research and developmental work. The enormously increased yields over the last two years provide evidence of the value of this grant and of the emphasis being placed on research. Further, the Government has arranged for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization to work in conjunction with the State Departments of Agriculture, particularly the Queensland department, on special research work. Through the extension service grant the Government has been able to assist further the development of the Industry. As I mentioned earlier, it arranged during the last two years for the establishment of the Tobacco Advisory Committee, which includes representatives of both sides of the industry as well as of the Australian and State governments. This committee formulated what I, possibly rather loosely, refer to as a tobacco plan, based on a capital expenditure of £168,000, with an estimated annual expenditure of £63,000. The basis was that the manufacturers were to find half of the capital expenditure, and this Government was to find the other half. Of the annual expenditure, this year the manufacturers are to provide £28,000, the growers £14,000, and the Government the balance of £21,000. That is the basis for the recurring annual expenditure, which will be reviewed each year.
This legislation is the result of a request to this Government so that levies may be made on growers and manufacturers on a fixed basis. The basis which has been decided upon, and which will be the subject of supplementary legislation, is that in the initial stages, the levy on growers will be at least id. per lb., and on manufacturers Id. per lb. The tobacco industry has now been established on an efficient and sound basis. I think that it is on the threshold of tremendous development in the future. This has not come about simply, but as the result of much hard work by many people. I should like to pay a tribute to the cooperation that exists among the growers, the manufacturers, and the governments, who now sit together round a table and discuss all the problems of the industry. Of course, to bring that about much had to be done. I should like to pay a tribute also to the work which has been done for the industry by officers of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, who have worked unceasingly to develop the present situation. I pay a tribute to officers of the State Departments of Agriculture who have assisted in the work, and to members of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, who have done much on the research side. In my capacity as Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Commerce and Agriculture, I have been intimately associated with this work, and I desire to mention particularly that we have received the greatest co-operation on the duty side from the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan), and I should like at this stage to pay a tribute to him for his splendid co-operation on all occasions. I feel that I should not conclude without saying how much the Australian tobacco industry owes to the’ present Minister for Commerce and Agri culture. I was with him at many conferences in 1950, 1951, and 1952, and I realized the tremendous task that faced him, first, to get the manufacturers and the growers to sit together in the one room, and then gradually to weld them together in to such an organization that we now have as good a background to the industry as has any other primary industry in Australia. This is a tremendous achievement, and I think that history will show that the bulk of the credit may be attributed to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, who has worked so hard towards this end.
.- It would appear from the speeches that have been delivered that the bill has the support of the House, so I do not propose to get out of line with those speeches. I wish to associate myself with my good friend and colleague, the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Bruce), in his appeal on behalf of the tobacco-growers of this country, who are to be found principally in Queensland.
The Minister for Social Services (Mr. McMahon), who introduced this bill for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen), has informed us that the principal purpose of the bill is to establish a trust account into which will be paid the moneys raised from the growers and the manufacturers. The purposes for which the money will be expended are quite commendable and will raise the general standard of the tobaccogrowing industry. The Minister has made it quite clear in his remarks that the most favoured area for the development of the tobacco industry is north Queensland. In outlining the development of the industry, he stated that that was a strategically important area. That is a phrase which has been used by Labour members of the Parliament for a considerable time in advocating the development of north Queensland. The tobacco industry is one which offers great scope for the development of north Queensland.
I suppose the greatest authority on tobacco in this House is the honorable member for Leichhardt. He has made it quite clear in his most illuminating speech that there is great need for the development of the many irrigation schemes in the area for which the Queensland Government has prepared plans. Some of those plans are being brought to fruition, mainly as a result of the activities of the State Government. I think the best examples of the development of the tobacco industry of north Queensland are to be found on the Atherton Tableland and in the Walsh River and Barron River areas. The Government has implemented the Tinaroo dam scheme.
– The State Government.
– I assumed that all honorable members would realize that this Government was doing nothing in this matter, but I thank the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson)- for his interjection. The Queensland Government is implementing irrigation schemes in this area. As a result of what the Queensland Government is doing in a practical way, the highest grade of tobacco produced in the world is being produced in this area.
The tobacco-growing industry of Australia has had a very chequered career. Prom some information which I gathered during the week-end, I have found that tobacco has been grown in Australia practically from the beginning of the settlement of the country. By 1889, approximately 7,000,000 lb. of cured tobacco leaf had been produced here. In Queensland 3 acres of tobacco were grown in 1860. In 1390, the Department of Agriculture in that State published its first pamphlet on tobacco-growing. There was a period of steady expansion until the outbreak of World War I., when a period of decline commenced, which culminated in the entire Queensland tobacco crop occupying only 71 acres in 1929. The honorable member for Leichhardt has reminded us of the disastrous blight which struck the Australian tobacco-growing industry when the Lyons Government was administering the affairs of the nation. The industry almost ceased to exist. Many thousands of tobacco-growers, who had actively supported the Lyons Government by their votes, were brought to ruin by the action of that Government in Selling out to the manufacturers, who used imported American leaf. However, those days have gone - I hope for ever.
There is no guarantee that such is the case, but the bill does encourage us to believe that the industry will continue to prosper. We all want the industry to prosper, but we must remember that it is necessary for practical aid to be given to the producers, the people who are growing tobacco leaf in barren, sandy country which is not of great use for pastoral purposes, but which, with the aid of water, can be used to grow tobacco. The honorable member for Leichhardt referred to land which was let at 2s. 6d. a square mile for grazing purposes and which is now producing tobacco that attracts the highest price in the world. That is being done by the aid of irrigation schemes which have been established by the Queeensland Government.
In the area to which .reference has been made, quite a number of weirs have been constructed to help tobacco production. I shall mention only a few of the important ones. There is the Leafgold weir on the Walsh River, which has a capacity of 320 acre-feet. There is the Collins weir on the Walsh Rive*”, with a capacity of 800 acre-feet. Then there is the most aptly named Bruce weir, also on the Walsh ‘ River, with a capacity of 790 acre-feet. That weir was named after a very great advocate of the tobacco industry in north Queensland, a former Minister foa- Works in the State Government and a former representative of the Tablelands in the State Parliament - now the honorable member for Leichhardt in this place. There are many other weirs in the area, but I think honorable members opposite will be grateful to me if I do not mention them. They appear to be a cause of embarrassment.
– It would be nice if the honorable gentleman would tell us of something that the Queensland Government has done for the development of that State.
– If my time were extended by half an hour, I could mention quite a lot of things that the Queensland Government has done for the development of the State, with no assistance from the Government which is supported by the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme).
– What help has the Queensland Government given to the Brisbane City Council?
– It might be advisable if we dealt only with tobacco. In view of my position on the Brisbane City Council, I have some knowledge of a smoke nuisance in Brisbane, but I prefer not to speak of a smoke nuisance while I am dealing with smokes. The importation of tobacco imposes a severe strain on our overseas credits. During the last financial year, we imported £17,300,000 worth of tobacco, of which £10,800,000 worth came from dollar areas. So we see how valuable it will be to the Australian economy to push ahead with the production of tobacco in Australia. The Minister has admitted that tobacco-growing has been undertaken in Victoria. In that State in 1954-55, apparently because of seasonal peculiarities and pests, the tobacco crop was completely lost. That was disastrous to the industry.
In Queensland, tobacco is produced principally in the north and in the Inglewood district in southern Queensland. Perhaps it is rather fortunate that production is possible in various parts of the State, because the pests, blue mould and seasonal difficulties that obtain in north Queensland do not affect production in the southern areas at the same time. Very high grade tobacco is produced in those areas. As honorable members are aware, the industry is well developed in the Inglewood district, and an enthusiastic and progressive association known as the South Queensland Tobacco Growers Co-operative Association has been established with the assistance of the Queensland Labour Minister for Agriculture and Stock, Mr. Harold Collins, and the Minister for Works, Mr. Hilton, who represents that area. That association has set a lead in the training of technical staff which is being followed by the Australian Government. It has provided £2,000 for the establishment of a scholarship for agricultural science. The provision of that scholarship, which has been approved by the Queensland Government, represents a practical step towards making sound “technical staff available to the industry. Throughout the Mareeba,
Dimbulah, Bowen and Burdekin areas, with the aid of irrigation and the assistance of the State Government, production is expanding., The yield of highgrade tobacco is extremely heavy, and in some areas of north Queensland in a normal season production amounts to 1,200 lb. of cured leaf per acre.
It must be admitted that the encouragement given by this Government in relation to the percentage requirement of Australian leaf in cigarettes and pipe tobacco has been of material assistance to the industry. In the case of cigarettes, that requirement has risen over the last four years from 3 per cent, to 7£ per cent. If that percentage is progressively raised, I feel sure that, as time goes on, provided the present high standard of production is maintained, the demand for Queensland tobacco will continue to grow. As the Minister has admitted the importance of this industry, has stated that north Queensland is the most favorable area for the development of tobacco production, and has admitted its strategic importance, the Government should be a little more practical and should refrain from excluding Queensland from special assistance for the development of national projects.
– Queensland is the only State that is excluded from this form of assistance. The production of tobacco is of national importance, because it is of great assistance in the conservation of dollar expenditure. We have been urged by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), even as late as last Friday when he addressed the Liberal party convention in New South Wales, to increase production generally. The tobacco industry provides a golden opportunity to increase production to satisfy the Australian demand without having to worry about the difficulties of overseas marketing. If the production of tobacco were increased, the growers would not be confronted with the difficulties that confront many other primary producers. I do not wish to embarrass the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce), but other honorable members have referred from time to time to assistance that has been given to other States for activities that are completely divorced from the normal loan allocations made by the Australian Loan Council.
-Order! The honorable member is getting very wide of the bill now.
– Such grants are made to every other S.tate. It is not unreasonable to ask this Government, in the interests particularly of the tobaccogrowers, to give greater assistance to primary producers by making available larger sums of money for irrigation works, which would play an important part in the development of the State and of the nation.
– To which irrigation schemes does the honorable member refer ?
– There are many that could be implemented, one of which would be in the area represented by the honorable member for Capricornia.
– Which one?
– I should have thought that the honorable member, instead of being one of the best knockers of the Queensland Government in this place, would have supported its activities in giving assistance to primary producers in areas that are represented by himself and members of the Australian Labour party, who are at all times doing their best to help in the advancement of the State.
I wholeheartedly support the principles contained in the bill. However, I feel that I should mention the persistent references in the daily press to lung cancer, which is alleged to be caused by cigarette smoking. We have the assurance, of course, of the honorable member for Leichhardt, who has been a smoker for many years, that, as long as Australian citizens smoke cigarettes containing north Queensland leaf, there will be no danger of their contracting lung cancer. But I am sure that, as a result of the publicity that is being given by the Australian daily press to the statements of leading surgeons and professors in the United States of America who have produced statistics showing, on the one hand, that smoking produces lung cancer and, on the other hand, that it does not do so, there is great doubt in the minds of Australian smokers. I respectfully suggest, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that part of the money that is to be raised under this bill could be used for the purpose of making an investigation into charges regarding lung cancer. I hope that such an investigation would show that this propaganda is false, and that smoking has not the disastrous effect that it is alleged to have.
– That is a lot of nonsense. It has been proved beyond all doubt that it is the cause of lung cancer.
– Why does not the honorable member for Henty dry up?
– I am sorry to have started this. I suggest that if it could be proved that the propaganda was false the minds of many of the Australian people would be set at rest, and a great boost would be given to the tobacco-growing industry in Australia.
– The purpose of the bill is to establish a tobacco industry trust account in order to extend research and advisory activities for the benefit of the tobacco industry. The honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Bruce), who represents a large number of tobacco-growers, has spoken mainly on the needs of the tobacco industry in north Queensland. The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Berry) who represents quite a lot of smokers, but no tobacco-growers, has taken the opportunity to raise the old catch-cry that the tobacco industry would be more prosperous and would expand more quickly if it could get money from the Commonwealth. I should like to remind the House that when this Government came into office the tobacco industry in Queensland had been practically wiped out of existence under Labour governments. Half of the former growers in my area were out of production. Their drying bins and sheds were idle, and were becoming dilapidated, and the industry was languishing because no assistance was forthcoming from Labour governments in the Federal or State spheres. The Queensland Labour Government at that time was not Dulling its weight. If any honorable member cares to accompany me, I shall be willing to show him these disused bins and sheds. Since this Government has been in office, and the tobacco industry has been under the control of the present Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen), the industry has made great headway. Honorable members opposite have taken the opportunity of the debate on this bill to accuse the Government of starving Queensland of funds for the development of irrigation projects. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, represented for many years the electorate that I now represent, and you will know that there is an organization called the New South Wales-Queensland Border River Scheme, the purpose of which is to weir rivers and creeks on the border between Queensland and New South Wales, which separates the electorates of Gwydir and Maranoa. The irrigation was intended mainly for the purpose of tobacco production. The Queensland Government, to its credit, has carried out, fairly well, its part of the undertaking, but with the New South Wales Government it has been all talk, and it has let down the tobacco-growers on the New South Wales side of the border. As a result, the scheme at present is practically at a standstill. Along the border there are hundreds of thousands of acres of beautiful country that could be developed for tobacco-growing. Some of the best tobacco produced in Queensland is grown in that area.
The tone of the speeches made on this bill would lead one to believe that north Queensland is the only area in Australia in which tobacco is grown. I should like to see tobacco-growing developed further in that area, but I remind the House that it is not the only area in which tobacco is grown. Last year, 50 per cent, of the 4,500,000 lb. of tobacco leaf sold in Queensland came from southern Queensland.
– The best of it came from Capricornia.
– I want to congratulate the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture on the wonderful work he has done in connexion with the promotion of the tobacco-growing industry, particularly in the field of research. A considerable proportion of the money set aside for farm extension services is going into experimental work on tobaccogrowing. It is of no use for honorable members opposite to contend that the Government is not sincere in its efforts to develop the tobacco industry. We have given a practical demonstration of our sincerity in that connexion. We wish to save dollars, and we also wish to settle people on the land and to grow more tobacco. We have done that, and will continue to do it. The target for tobacco production set some years ago by the Australian Agricultural Council has been achieved, and a fresh target is being proposed.
I did not intend to speak to this measure at length. I want to see the bill become law. The Opposition has no fault to find with it, because there is no fault in it for them to find. All that honorable members opposite have been able to do is to use the debate as a vehicle for political propaganda regarding the granting of money to the States for irrigation works.
.- I did not intend to take part in the debate, because the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Bruce) has placed before the Parliament and the people a rough history of what has occurred in relation to the establishment of the tobacco industry, particularly in Queensland. However, when the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz) replied to the honorable member for Leichhardt he said he did not propose to delve into the history of the industry. But he referred to the period between 1941 and 1949 when Labour governments were in office. The honorable member for Darling Downs did not care to delve further back into the history of the industry because of the dreadful record of United Australia party governments and governments with other party labels, but of the same political colour, which occupied the treasury bench before the Labour party came into office, and before the Liberal party was formed.
The anti-Labour predecessors of the present Government were responsible for the bad state in which the tobacco industry found itself. In 1929, the Scullin Labour Government set out, during the depression, to establish tobacco-growing in Queensland. The United Australia party Government, which succeeded the Scullin Government, smashed the industry by increasing excise on locally grown tobacco and lowering customs duty on imported tobacco. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) knows that full well. It was only recently that the Queensland Government was able to make available to the tobacco-growing industry the necessary bank guarantees to enable the industry to restore itself from the bad position in which it stood as a result of the treatment meted out to it by the manufacturers. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) said the industry was languishing because of lack of action on the part of the Queensland Government. The honorable member knows full well that the reason the industry was languishing, even not so very long ago, was that the manufacturers refused to buy certain grades of leaf. It was because of the failure of the manufacturers to purchase leaf grown in the Mareeba district that the growers there decided to form a co-operative and manufacture their own tobacco in competition with the tobacco manufacturers’ combine. During the war and subsequently, this country was flooded with cigarettes and tobacco from abroad. In recent times, a change has come over the scene. Instead of the Australian manufacturer being the one and only purchaser, we have seen manufacturers from the United Kingdom and manufacturers from the United States of America come to this country in order to manufacture tobacco and cigarettes. In consequence, the competition that ‘the Government has spoken about so much has come into being, and the British Australian Tobacco Company cannot do with the industry as it has done in the past.
The honorable member for Darling Downs himself has said that great credit is due to the present Minister for Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) because of his action in welding together the growers and the manufacturers. He never said a truer word. The history of this industry shows how welding was so necessary. But it was because of the fact that a number of manufacturers in this country were prepared to assist in the establishment of the growing side of this industry that the task of the Minister was made more easy. That is just a little of the history and background of the industry, as I see it and as I know it.
But I also know that the honorable member for Darling Downs in his reply to the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Bruce) was critical of the State government for not using a certain surplus that it has this year, to assist the industry. Let me say in reply to the honorable member for Darling Downs that because of the economic policy of the Menzies Government, the Labour Government of Queensland is doing as Labour governments did before 1929, and as Labour governments have always done. It is conserving its resources against what must be the inevitable result of the economic policy of this Government. So, despite the fact that it has this surplus, the Queensland Government, as the honorable member for Leichhardt pointed out, has pushed on with the Tinaroo Falls dam. It has also pushed on with other works and water conservation projects in the north for the simple reason that the Queensland Government is anxious to see established in the northern parts of Queensland an industry which can provide something which is in short supply and the production of which is hopelessly inadequate to meet the demand. The development of this industry will result, not only in expansion on the manufacturing side, but also in the conservation of overseas exchange, be it dollars for American leaf or sterling for leaf from South Africa.
As I said a while, ago, there are manufacturers in other parts who have come into the tobacco leaf market, and provided the competition which has enabled the grower to receive a reasonable return for his product. At nearly every sale, a world record price is received for Queenslandproduced tobacco leaf, indicating that the climatic conditions are right, the soil apparently is right, and the suitable areas in the north of Queensland, which are yet untouched, are numerous. In 1940, I myself was at a place called Laura, which is west of Cooktown. A tobaccogrower from Mareeba had gone to that area, and he told me that growing tobacco there was easier than in the Mareeba district, because there were not the pests to contend with at Laura that had to be contended with in the Mareeba area. Practically the whole of northern Queensland has a sandy type of soil, all of which is suitable for growing tobacco. It is an area in which this Government might well do everything possible to settle people because if the last war proved anything it proved that the Queensland sugar industry provided the defence requisites which otherwise would not have been available on the most vulnerable portion of the coastline, in the form of its towns, harbours, rail facilities and water supply. So the Government should be particularly interested in the development of these areas from the defence point of view. We are now discussing a bill to establish a tobacco industry trust account. Honorable members will find that clause 5 of the Tobacco Industry Bill deals with the appropriation of the trust account. But the Tobacco Charges Assessment Bill 1955 provides, in clause 11 (a), that the charge imposed by the Tobacco Charge Bill (No. 1) 1955, is payable by the person who owns the tobacco leaf immediately before it is sold ; in sub-clause (b), that the charge is payable by the manufacturer by whom the leaf is purchased; and, in sub-clause (c), that the charge imposed is payable by the manufacturer by whom the tobacco leaf is grown. It is the grower, the manufacturer who buys the leaf, and the manufacturer who grows his own leaf who will make the contribution towards the trust account for which provision is made in this bill, and which is referred to particularly in clause 5.
The honorable member for Darling Downs said that it was the Minister who welded these various people together. If he did, we are thankful for it. But in the welding process the manufacturer and the grower are making contributions which will make it possible to implement the provisions of this bill and the carrying out of certain research work, particularly on the growing side of the industry. The grower himself will make a direct contribution towards that work.
I agree with the statement that was made by the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) when he said that if this Government is to show interest in the establishment and development of this industry, and in development generally, then greater assistance should be given to an industry that will provide something which is seriously in short supply at the moment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee: (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) agreed to-
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to establish a Tobacco Industry Trust Account and for purposes connected therewith.
Resolution reported and adopted.
In committee: Consideration resumed.
.- I do not wish to delay the committee unduly, but I did not speak on the associated bill, which preceded this measure. I want to point out that this bill imposes a charge on the users of tobacco. A Government supporter has told us that an excise charge is to be imposed on manufacturers, that there will be a charge on the grower and that the Government also will make & contribution. I join issue with the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz) and the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) on their statements that the present Government has done everything for the tobacco growers of this country.
– Which clause does this deal with?
– I am coming to the question of charges. I would remind the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) that, during Labour’s administration, assistance was provided to the tobacco industry out of Consolidated Revenue. This meant that the citizens of this country paid according to their ability to do so. It did not mean that the more one smoked, the more one paid. But that is what this measure will mean.
– It would be a very good thing, too.
– I hope that the smokers in the honorable member’s electorate will read what he has said. Excise charges on pipe and cigarette tobacco, and cigars, are already very high and bring millions of pounds into the Treasury every year. In racing parlance, this Government has been “ blowing its bags “ about what it has done for the tobacco industry. In reality, it is imposing on the smokers of this country a charge that will depend not on their ability to pay but on their ability to smoke. The unfortunate smoker is already contributing millions to the Treasury. The organizations which Government supporters have described as assisting the tobacco industry were set up during the Chifley Administration. Documentary evidence in support of that can easily be produced. The preliminary work was done by various State conferences, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the director of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, which had been set up by Labour. During the war the manufacturers, who proved themselves the greatest commercial gangsters in the country, held the tobacco-growers to ransom.
– I rise to order. Can an honorable member make a secondreading speech in the committee stages? The honorable member for Lalor has not referred to one clause in the bill.
– The bill is being considered as a whole.
– Can an honorable member make a second-reading speech when a’ bill is being considered as a whole at the committee stage?
– If, in committee, a bill is considered as a whole an honorable member may speak on any part of it.
– If the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) will look at the bill he will see that it deals with various aspects of the taxation of the tobacco industry. Therefore it is relevant to point out why the industry is being taxed and what preliminary work in assisting it has been done over the years. It is relevant, too, to try to explain why the Government wants to place an additional tax on the smokers of this country, when they are already overburdened with tax. I do not contend that no tax should be imposed, but the Government should follow Labour’s precedent and find the money not by taxing the grower still further, but by drawing upon Consolidated Revenue. Labour paid £250,000 annually to support the dairying industry; but that sum was not raised by taxing the dairy-farmers. Nor is the farmer taxed to raise the £600,000 which the Minister says is being spent on agricultural extension work. Similarly, the Government does not put an excise on tomatoes ot dried fruits. Instead, the money is provided from Consolidated Revenue and under our tax laws every one in the community contributes according to his ability to pay. The tobacco industry i3 now to be taxed in a way that will put the main burden on the smokers. If this Government is so fortunate as to be returned to office by the electors - and of course it will not - excise of this sort may be employed by it to eliminate the grants to primary industry that are at present being made from Consolidated Revenue.
– I would like to let the honorable member know that if the whole of the levy were passed on to the consumers it would cost them only l/220th of a penny on a large packet of cigarettes.
– If it is so low, why put it to the consumers ? This country has a revenue or more than £1,000,000,000. Surely it could support such a trivial burden in order to assist this struggling industry. At this late period in the life of the Parliament it is impossible for the Labour party to prevent the passage of this bill. Moreover, we would not wish to do that because there Would be no opportunity to provide the necessary grant from Consolidated Revenue, and the growers would be deprived of such assistance as the bill does give them. We can only foreshadow our intention to provide a more sensible, just and equitable way of assisting this industry. The honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz) suggested that Labour had created dissension between growers and manufacturers.
– Order ! The honorable member cannot deal with what has been said at the second-reading stage.
– Until recent years the manufacturer was in a position to be utterly ruthless. He was even able to defy Parliament - both while Labour was in office and when the present Government took office. There was no way out ofit. Even at the present time, there is no law in the land that can force the manufacturers of this country to buy anything if they do not wish to buy it. The only reason why the Minister comes to the party now is that the tobaccogrowers, encouraged by the Labour Government of Queensland, have established a cooperative organization that has undertaken the sale of Australian cigarettes on the market. Now, they say, “ We will come to the party and we will buy your tobacco.”. But that is just to save their own political skins. It is not done out of amy love for the tobaccogrowers of this country. I leave it at that, and wish the bill & speedy passage - I nearly said a happy Christmas..
.- It will take only the briefest time to answer the arguments put forward by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). It is a wonder to me that the honorable, member rose at all in this debate, because he has contributed, nothing whatever to it. I am pleased, that the Minister for Social Services (Mr. McMahon), who is in charge of the bill has pointed out that the extra, charge will be only1/220th of a penny on a packet of cigarettes. The amazing part of the speech, delivered by the honorable member for Lalor was his pointing out that there is no excise on bread, wheat, or even, dried fruits. It has to be remembered that he mentioned foodstuffs that are consumed by every one in the nation. I remind, honorable members that he. did not mention anything about excise on beer. The two matters are entirely different. Surely the honorable member did not realize that he was mentioning foodstuffs. When we sum up the whole ofhis speech, it would, seem that the honorable member for Lalor rose because he heard arumour that an election was coming on, and he thought that he should capitalize on anything he could at this stage of thebill.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 20th October (vide page 1757), on motion by Mr. McMahon -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from the 20th October (vide page 1758), on motion by Mr. McMahon -
Part1. - Charge on Australian Tobacco Leaf Sold to a Manufacturer.
That a charge be imposed on all Australian tobacco leaf (vide page 1757).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. McMahon and Sirericharrison do prepare and bring in bills to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. McMahon, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Bill presented by Mr. McMahon, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Bill presented by Mr. McMahon,. and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 19th October (vide page 1725), on motion by Mr. Holt -
That the following paper he printed: -
Report of the Royal Commission on Espionage.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) - by leave - agreed to -
That Standing Order 92 be suspended to enable the Right Honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to speak until 10 p.m.
– I hope not to take up the time of the House until 10 p.m. When a royal commission sits for months to investigate matters of national security, it is not common to have the tabling of the report followed by the making of charges relating to the very matters inquired into. But on this occasion, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has indulged himself in the luxury of once more becoming the advocate in this House of causes of which he was the professional advocate before the royal commission; professionally but unsuccessfully. In short, he is asking this Parliament, which has not heard the witnesses, to sit as a court of appeal from three judges who heard every word of the evidence, who read every word of all the documents, who listened to all the cross-examination and who, for some weeks, not two hours, listened to the right honorable gentleman himself. This is a state of affairs so astonishing that, if it were not for the office held by him and his leadership in this Parliament of a great party, I would invite the House and the people to treat the whole of his submissions as being either frivolous or offensive. After all, the whole purpose of appointing a royal commission - and this one was appointed by the unanimous vote of this Parliament, and with terms of reference unanimously agreed upon by this Parliament - is to transfer the business of investigation from Parliament, which is not equipped for such matters, to a trained body of investigators whose findings will carry weight with both Parliament and people.
But the right honorable gentleman is nothing if not persistent. Before he had ever appeared professionally before the royal commission, he had clearly made up his mind to attack it, to lower its reputation in the public mind and, if possible, to destroy its findings in advance. These tactics are not unknown in the world, though they are not normal in democratic countries. He went through the motions of appearing before the commission as a lawyer. In reality, as the judges subsequently had to point out to him, he seemed to be appearing for himself, and to find it impossible to distinguish between his somewhat nominal functions as counsel for a couple of members of his staff, and his real function as the political exponent of points of view which, before the royal commission, made him the instant ally of Lockwood and Hill and all the other Communists involved in the inquiry.
– A typical Menzies smear !
– I am familiar with that sort of allegation.
– If the right honorable gentleman could get through ten minutes in this House without referring to McCarthy and smears, it would be a wonderful thing. However, as I propose to show with studied moderation, the right honorable gentleman, in this matter, has sought to smear every decent person associated with this inquiry. He has now thought fit, no doubt with the approval of those who sit behind him, to develop a series of charges, all of which he made directly or indirectly before the royal commission, and on all of which the commission has found against him.
– Those matters were never discussed by the royal commission.
– The right honorable gentleman was complaining the other night.
– I dealt with the subject logically.
– As the right honorable gentleman gave it most illogicality, so he will take it with all the force of logic. I would exceed the boundaries of time and trench upon eternity if I were to endeavour to follow point by point the erratic course of his arguments.
Dr. Evatt and Mr. Ward being engaged in conversation,
– Bo honorable members notice how they are getting together on the other side of the table, one saying to himself, “ If only I can get him out on a limb and chop it down, I shall be the leader “ ? Believing as I do that the patience of honorable members is already sufficiently strained, I will content myself by dealing with what I might loosely describe as the substance of the right honorable gentleman’s main charges. I will summarize them.
Against the judges he makes the charge that they were incompetent, that they acted without proper evidence, that they culpably failed to discover a great conspiracy, and that they have, in the result, made a false report.
– They had a nice opening ceremony.
– If my friend from Lalor (Mr. Pollard) joins in the charge, I am sorry for him. All I do is to repeat that that was the charge made by the right honorable gentleman.
Against the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, which I shall refer to as the security service - the service set up by the late’ Mr. Chifley in 1949 after there had been a serious leakage from the Department of External Affairs between 1945 and 1948 - the Leader of the Opposition unleashes a volume of hatred which I have never seen surpassed. He concentrates his venom upon Brigadier Spry, the head of that service but, through him, he charges the service with being corrupt, oppressive, conspiratorial and actuated by party political motives. He even goes so far as to say, as I remind honorable members, that for people like Brigadier Spry, peace is a dangerous word - the very words used by the right honorable gentleman were “ peace is a dangerous word “ - a strange allegation to be made against a man who has been decorated in the service of his country, and who was wounded in the service of his country on the Kokoda trail.
Against Mr. Victor Windeyer, Queen’s Counsel, who appeared to assist the royal commission, he makes the charge - which would be damaging if it came from any other quarter - that he lent himself to a conspiracy with me and with others, designed to inflict damage upon the Australian Labour party when an election was pending, and that he did this by accepting instructions from me, and even phraseology which I am alleged to have submitted to him. Against myself, as Prime Minister of the country, he makes a bewildering variety of charges. First he says that I “saved up” the Petrov matter for election purposes until April, 1954, though, as he alleges, I knew all about it as far back as 1953. His witness on this matter is a book published in the name of one, Bialoguski, Bialoguski being, on his own view, a man of no credit, except when he speaks against me. Second, he says that I suppressed public knowledge of the payment of £5,000 to Petrov until after polling day. Third, he says that I encouraged or directed Mr. Windeyer to exaggerate and deceive in his opening address and, if I understood his speech - I do not undertake to guarantee that I did - that I drafted some of Mr. Windeyer’s opening speech. Fourth, he says that I grossly betrayed my trust by giving wide publicity to allegations without first finding evidence in support of them. Fifth, he says, with a singular and imaginative effort, that I conspired against Madame Oilier, “ spirited her out of the country “ - his very words - and had her held incommunicado - a beautiful phrase - so that the investigation of episodes concerning her could be unfairly conducted. There may be other charges against me, the chief of which is that I am Prime Minister, but I have not been able either to isolate or define them.
On the other side, the learned and right honorable gentleman devoted no small amount of the two hours that he had to defending certain people. I have spoken about the attacked; I now talk about those defended. First, he defended Dr. Burton, whose published political views cannot sensibly be regarded as finding favour, except with the Communists.
– Another smear !
– “ Another smear”, he says.
– A great smearer !
– Let him face up to it. If the right .honorable .gentleman can find one thing that this man has said that would not be approved of in Moscow, let him point to it and we will .have it published at the Government’s expense. Why he, the right honorable gentleman, thought it necessary to defend Dr. Burton in a discussion on the royal commission report I do .not understand, for the fact is - and let .me remind the House of it - that these incompetent .and gullible royal commissioners - I use those words because that is what I understand the Leader of the Opposition to infer - made no finding adverse to T)r. Burton at all, and therefore this defence was, as they would say in Presbyterian circles, a work of supererogation.
Second, the right honorable gentleman has gone to some pains to defend Mr. Sharkey, the leading Australian Communist, against the well-founded .charge .that he received from Moscow 25,000 dollars as some recompense for the costs incurred in his campaign, conducted in the closest collaboration with the Leader of the Opposition, against the Communist Party Dissolution Act. Dr. Evatts - There .is no evidence of it. The Prime Minister will not deal with the point.
– The right honorable gentleman may mumble and ‘mumble and mumble as long as he likes.
– Order ! The Leader of the Opposition had two hours uninterrupted by the Prime Minister. I ask the right honorable gentleman to cease interjecting while the Prime Minister is speaking.
– I appreciate that, but now that we-
– Do that to the other side when we. speak.
– I do not mind the interruptions of ‘the right .’honorable gentleman, nor do I mind the interruptions of my old , friend, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James.), who could not have agreed with one word ‘the Leader of ‘the Opposition -said. I .have referred to Mr. Sharkey. In the third place, the right honorable gentleman has come to the rescue of Ur. Clayton, found by the royal commission, on the clearest possible evidence, to be the chief member of the Communist spy ring in Australia. I shall refer to that a little later, because it is interesting to think that the right honorable gentleman, who began by defending two should now defend so many, so long as they are of the necessary colour. -Confronted by a report which, in the view of 95 per cent, of the Australian people, is a careful but magnificent tribute to Australia’s judicial procedures, the right honorable gentleman has sought to destroy the authenticity of the Moscow papers, found by the judges, after many months of investigations, to be completely authentic, by calling. as his somewhat remote witness, M. Molotov, who, we are told, says that the papers were not genuine, and that the whole matter represented an attempt to create bad blood between this country and the Soviet Union. In brief, the right honorable gentleman would have us believe that months of investigation on oath,. scores of thousands of questions and answers, and the meticulous examination of documents, should all .be brushed .aside because the nation found guilty of espionage -Says, “ We are not guilty “. “What I have already said will, without any verbal decorations, satisfy all sane and sensible people that the right honorable gentleman, suffering from persecution delusions, is introducing us into a world of sheer fantasy. But it is necessary, I think, if only for the historical record, that I should say more about matters which would Otherwise quite adequately be dismissed by the hearty laughter of a nation which possesses both good sense and humour. I therefore propose to remind the ‘House and the people of some of the facts which relate to those who stand indicted .by the right honorable gentleman. This 1 think necessary ‘.because a very natural query in the minds of any of us when people are charged with serious offences is, “ What kind of people are these ? “. I start with the judges themselves.
Mr. Justice Owen, w”ho derives from one of the most celebrated judicial ‘families in New South Wales,”was, as a private soldier., a member of the Australian .Imperial -Forces from 1915 to 1-919. “He subsequently went to the bar. He was. appointed a ‘Supreme Court judge in 1937. His capacity and integrity are household words with every lawyer in New South Wales except, apparently, the right honorable member for Barton. The odd thing is that he was profoundly trusted both by Mr. Curtin and Mr. Chifley. It was on their appointment that he was chairman of the Central Wool Committee during the war from 1942 to 1945. In 1945, Mr. Chifley sent him to London on a most important mission regarding surplus wool disposals. To challenge him as the right “honorable gentleman has, in his desperation, challenged n’im in this case, is to challenge a man who represents in his own person the highest qualities of mind and character, and the finest judicial traditions in this country. But, so that .a couple oi Communist agents can be brought off, and Mr. Molotov may be justified, the right honorable member is prepared to impeach Mr. Justice -Owen’s competence, judicial perception, .and, indeed, his objective ‘honesty.
The second judge was Mr. Justice Philp, a member of the Supreme Court bench of Queensland since 1939. Himself a member of the First Australian Imperial Forces, and with a grievous family loss in this last war, this learned judge has waited all these years to be attacked in the same way, and in “the same contemptible interests. His character and work need no eulogy of mine, for “his professional and personal standing -are alike beyond criticism.
The third judge, Mr. Justice Ligertwood, also a member of the Australian Imperial Forces in World War I., has been .a justice of tie .Supreme Court of South Australia since 1945. I had thought that this lofty and splendid man might have escaped the torrent of abuse. How the right honorable gentleman -attacks either his competence or his judicial attributes, I do not know; for it was the Leader of the Opposition himself who, -when Attorney-General, appointed him as a single royal commissioner to investigate charges made against, among others, the ‘honorable member lor East Sydney .(Mr. Ward). Hia findings exonerated, I am glad to say, “the honorable member for East Sydney. At that time I .heard no complaint ‘by the right honorable gentleman against Mr. Justice Ligertwood. But, to-day, when that learned judge is a party to a unanimous report on the Petrov matters, he is exposed to condemnation which is not based upon reason, but upon a sheer passion of hatred against people wo have made findings against the Communists.
And then there is Mr. Windeyer - Mr. Victor Windeyer, Q.C. - who appeared to assist the royal commission and who was, quite properly, so convinced that he must be free of any influence that, from :fir.st to last with the exceptions that I will refer to, said he did not wish to be “ instructed “ - I use the . word in its technical sense - by the Commonwealth Law Department as counsel are normally instructed by solicitors. Who is Mr. Windeyer ? He is a lawyer, a former distinguished lecturer in law, and a great soldier; a major-general, a military Commander of the British Empire, the holder of a Distinguished Service Order and bar, and three times mentioned in despatches; a veteran of Tobruk, of Alamein, of the capture -of Finschhafen ; for some years from 1950 the citizen forces member of ‘the Military Board. Any New .South “Wales lawyer must know that the name of Windeyer, like the name of Owen, represents all that is best in New South Wales legal tradition.
So far I have mentioned the four lawyers who lave been .accused, but I must say -something about the head of the security service, .Brigadier Charles Spry, against whom a .most venomous attack has been made, an attack, I do not doubt, calculated in the interests of the Communists to weaken the authority of the security service, to discourage good men from going into it, to make its officers fearful of political victimization, and, therefore, in the result, to give aid and comfort to our enemies. Charles Spry is a graduate of Duntroon and of the Staff College in the United Kingdom. He saw active service in India in 1936. He was with the Seventh Australian division in the Owen Stanleys and on the Kokoda trail. He was wounded there. He was decorated with the Distinguished Service Order. He was Director of Military Intelligence in Australia from 1946 to 19150, a period, for the bulk of which, the :now
Leader of the Opposition, as Attorney General and Minister for External Affairs, had the benefit of his notable services.
Finally, of course, there is myself. I have been running through the list of the accused. I am not here to defend myself against fantastic charges, though I will say a few temperate words about them before I finish. But I must permit myself to say-
Mr. Curtin interjecting,
– I am not talking about prawns.
– What about your military record ?
– I should keep off that, if I were you, brother. You ask Bert and Eddie.
– Tell us about yourself.
– Perhaps we can get away from these street noises for a moment. I am not here to defend myself, but I must permit myself to say that I have, for over a quarter of a century, served the Australian people in the very heat of political controversy, that for almost fifteen years those who are closest to me have unanimously maintained me as their leader, and that I am, therefore, not entirely unknown, either in character or act, to the Australian people. Yet, according to the right honorable gentleman, I, last year or the year before, made myself a party to a swindle and was able to secure the collaboration of those distinguished men whom I have named in order to make that swindle effective.
Having said so much about the persons in the drama, I will now turn, first, to a consideration of what the royal commission found, and second, to a consideration of what I hope I may, without breach of the Standing Orders, describe as the Evatt-Molotov charges. First, the royal commission found that the Petrovs left the Russian service, and sought asylum in this country, of their own choice and without pressure. Of course, the right honorable gentleman does not agree with that.
– A lot of other people do not, either.
– Very few disagree with it.
– The right honorable gentleman does not take me to be a fool, does he?
– Oh, the right honorable gentleman is in that happy position - that punchhappy position - in which, having had a royal commission, approved of by himself - let him not forget that - investigate these matters, he says, “I know so much better. They were just fools. They were misled; they did not understand the evidence.”
– They were bought.
– Or, as the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) - and I hope this will be understood all over his electorate - says, “ They were bought “.
– Of course, they were.
– I am sorry to have to repeat it - I do so for the benefit of all persons concerned - that the honorable member for Lalor, sitting in his place in this House, has stated that these three judges, whose reputations I have described, were bought.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! The House must come to order.
– Did he not say that?
– You misunderstood it.
– Did he not say that?
– Order ! The House will come to order.
– The right honorable gentleman was referring to Mr. Petrov.
– Order ! If the honorable member has been misrepresented he has his remedy under the Standing Orders.
– I was referring to Petrov, too.
– If the honorable member for Lalor, with a lively eye to events to come, now wants it understood that he was referring not to the judges but to somebody else, all I can say is that he must tell it, if not to the marines, at least to somebody who was not here tonight.
– That is enough for me, having heard that.
– Order ! The honorable member for Lalor will maintain order.
– The right honorable gentleman knows it is a lie, too.
– Of course, he knows.
-Order! The honorable member for Parkes knows that it is unparliamentary to interject. He, too, will remain quiet.
– The Prime Minister knows to whom I was referring.
– Order ! The honorable member for Lalor will remain quiet.
– It gives me no pleasure whatever to be . involved in a controversy with the honorable member for Lalor, but he cannot expunge what he said.
– You are going to “ doctor “ Hansard, are you ?
– I am going to “doctor” Hansard?
– Hansard, I take it, will be published to-morrow.
– Yes, and the right honorable gentleman will be proved, wrong, if his words have been correctly reported.
– Since I never read the Hansard reports of my own speeches, I am scarcely likely to read an interjection made by either my friend, the honorable member for Lalor, or my somewhat turbulent friend from South Australia.
– You have about 40 secretaries to do it; you should not have to read them.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) will not advance his case by suggesting that the Hansard reporters lend themselves to fraud.
– They will be doing so, if it is as you say it is.
– The honorable member wants to back up his leader; therefore, there must be allegations of fraud.
Mr. Pollard interjecting,
– Order ! If the honorable member for Lalor does not cease interjecting, I shall ask him to leave the chamber.
– In the second place, the royal commission found that the Petrovs were witnesses of truth.
Opposition members interjecting,
– The honorable members heard them, did they?
Mr. Curtin interjecting, “ Mr. MENZIES.- The honorable member heard them, did he? Did even the yahoos hear them?
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, is the word “ yahoo “ a parliamentary term?
– I did not invent it. Jonathan Swift invented the phrase. 1 merely borrow it from him. Would any person in this country prefer the judgment of a member of the Opposition who did not hear the witnesses to the judgment of the three judges who did? What I am pointing out is that this royal commission, which was appointed by the Parliament - every member of this House, including the honorable member for Watson voted to constitute it-
– I did not.
– The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) did not vote for it, because he does not have a vote. He is honorably acquitted. Likewise, the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) is honorably acquitted. All others are as guilty as they can be, if what they are saying now is right. The whole House appointed the royal commission. That royal commission, appointed by this House, found that the Petrovs were witnesses of truth.
– For £5,000.
– The royal commission found that the Petrovs were witnesses of truth, with an accuracy of high order. With your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I refer now to the interjection of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod).
– For £5,000.
– As I was saying, I refer now to the interjection, of the honorable member for Wannon, who continues to- mutter about £5,000. I should like to tell him that his leader - if I am right in so referring to the Leader of the Opposition - had a lot to say about £5,000, but the royal commission found that it was a proper payment.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Honorable members opposite must not speak with the voice of envy.
– But they got £13,000.
– How much did they get?
– They got £13,000.
– They got £13,000?’
– Oh, dear!
Mir. Mullens. - They got the lot.
– What is £13,000 among so many?
-Order ! The House cannot continue in this manner. Members of all parties must restrain themselves.
– Get back, to the book of Judges.
– I am invited, by my friend’, the honorable member for Parkes, to go- on with the book of J”udges. I shall do so with great pleasure, because the three judges arrived at this conclusion in favour of the Petrovs, not by some momentary political passion, but after Petrov had been’ in the witness box on 37 days- for approximately 74 hours, in all - somewhat longer, I think honorable members will agree, than Mr. Molotov was in the witness box in- relation to this matter - and’ after Mrs. Petrov had been in the witness- box on 21 days for approximately 30 hours in all. Let me say to honorable members opposite, including those who observe high standards, before they walk the yard arm on. this matter; that they will do very- badly and will do great injustice to their own party if they go out to tell the people of Australia that the- judges- who heard this matter for all this time were either incompetent or dishonest. I. say, with very great respect, that honorable members must be- very careful before they do that, because, I am happy to say, in this- country, people respect the judges. Those three judges, smeared as they have been: - I think that is the term - by this gentleman on the other side of the table;, have- made these findings,, and I venture to say that nobody who reads the report, and the documents annexed to it, could have a moment’s doubt that’ they, were completely right. Third*, it has found’ that; during the period which ‘has: elapsed since their defection, Mr. and Mrs. Petrov have been questioned, on- behalf of the counterespionage services of other countries, with results which have been, of the greatest value to those countries. The royal commission’s terms, of. investigation related to matters inside Australia, and therefore a great deal of. the information which was produced was not relevant to the terms of reference, but is relevant to counter-espionage activities in. countries like the- United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America. This finding- of the commission is confirmed by subsequent experiences to which I shall refer fairly soon.
Fourth. the royal commission found that the Petrov papers - the Moscow letters, alL those- papers - were, genuine. The Leader- of the Opposition, has! adduced here, as he was indeed busy in adducing for a long time before the royal commission in. his other capacity, arguments to show that the papers were forgeries.
– I was- prevented’ from adducing them.
– If I could not. get on the way to proving in three or four weeks that a paper was a forgery, I would give it away.
– The Prime Minister might give it away. I think, he would give anything- away.
– I know- including the right honorable gentleman;
– And justice, too.
– I make a present of him to Moscow.
– You have been doing- this all night - making smears.
– The right honorable gentleman must not become repetitive.That is allright before the royal commission, but it does not cut much ice here.
– You are running down the royal commission now.
– Oh no, I am admiring its patience. The right honorable gentleman spent a long time before the royal commission adducing arguments to show thatthe papers were forgeries. An intelligent child reading them in the report would know that they were not. I was not required to listen to his arguments before the judges, but I did hear his arguments here, and all I need to say is that his attempt to overthrow months of investigation, both internal and external, by the judges, has been pathetic and ineffective.
Fifth,sir, the commission has found that for many years the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics - I shall call it the Soviet Union for short - had been using its embassy at Canberra as a cloak under which to control and operate espionage organisations in Australia. Does the right honorable gentleman deny that ?
– He was in it.
– May I get up and answer ?
– This is the central finding of the commission. The right honorable gentleman had two hours in which to answer that.
– Well, do not ask me rhetorical questions.
– The only question I would ever think of putting to the right honorable gentleman is a rhetorical question, because such a questionrequires no answer.
– Then donot ask it.
Mr.MENZIES- Sixth, theroyal commission found that the only Australians who knowingly assisted in this espionage were Communists. Seventh, it found that, without communism, Soviet espionagewould have no hope of success in Australia, and that the existencehere of Communists wasthe fundamental cause of the formation of our security service by Mr.Chifley, and necessitates its retention as being essentialto the security and defence of Australia.
The commission made some particular findings about individuals, though it found that the evidence stopped short of justifying a prosecution under theexisting Australian law. It also made some observations about the case of one, MadameOllier, as supporting its finding that the Soviet Embassy was engaged in espionage. It is only in this context that the case of Madame Oilier achieves any importance; but, having regard to the fact that the right honorable gentleman’s delusions of grandeur have led him to take the unprecedented step of offering his views by correspondence to the French, I shall say a few words about that matter before Iconclude.
The right honorable gentleman’s case - I use the word “ case “ in inverted commas - againstthe commissioners and their report is, of course, completely disposed of by the report itself. His “ case “ against me is also, in one respect, the case against Mr. Windeyer. The right honorable gentleman said that the opening by Mr. Windeyer was melodramatic. I think his words were, “ Never was there such a sensational opening”. I am a little handicapped on that point, because I was, at the time, in Perth, and I certainly found nothing exciting in the press reports of the opening. But the right honorable gentleman has, in his speech, not only criticized Mr. Windeyer’s language, but has also suggested that I was its draftsman. Indeed, he said - and I quote his words - that I “must take personal responsibility for all the exaggeration and deception “.
The facts are that Mr. Windeyer made an opening characterized by great moderation and restraint. He made no reference that might damage one political sideor the other, except that hementioned, be it remembered, that therewere names of members of Parliament on both sides included in the documents. I am, sir, indeed reluctant to invoke the observations of counsel on a matter of this kind, but I think I should tell the House - since these charges have been made - the relevant substance of a recent communication from Mr. Windeyer in London. I had written to him thanking him for his work on the Council of the Australian National University, and had expressed my regret that he had felt unable to continue it. He replied appropriately. Then, quite voluntarily, he went on to give me Mb recollection of the one meeting I had with him, which was before the inquiry began, on a Saturday or Sunday in Sydney, the others present being the Solicitor-General, Professor Bailey ; Mr. A. S. Brown, the head of my department; and Mr. Spry, the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization. Mr. Windeyer confirmed that. I gave no directions except on four points, but said that the conduct of the inquiry should be left to the commissioners and counsel. Four matters were then discussed. They were, first of all, whether there should be a press interview of the Petrovs. I decided that there should not. Second, the references in the documents to Madame Oilier, under the name “ Olga “ ; I said that the French Ambassador should be informed, through the proper channels, that her name was mentioned. This, I venture to say, was eminently correct. Third, the payment to Petrov of £5,000; I did not know of this before.
– Ha, ha ha.
– “ Ha, ha, ha “, says somebody. I repeat, therefore - and 1 stand in the most responsible position in this House - that I did not know of this before.
– Ha, ha ha.
- Mr. Windeyer said that -to him the amount seemed small.
Dr. Evatt interjecting,
– Do not try to blanket me out from those who are listening to me. The Leader of the Opposition, it will be understood, is trying to prevent this from being heard, and, therefore, I repeat that Mr. Windeyer said that, to him, the amount seemed small in the circumstances; and indeed it was. I said that I considered that it was a matter to be proved and proved publicly and that this should be done later in its proper setting - when Petrov was examined.
– That was after the elections.
– That is what you say. I will come to that in a moment. As I will have occasion to say a little later on, the right honorable gentleman requires that before the election I should have published things. If I had, he would not be here, and the Labour party would be a united party.
– The Prime Minister said that before, and his statement was untrue then.
– Oh well, that is all right. I understand your feelings perfectly. You are in a very agitated state of mind.
– Not a bit.
– I approve of that. I think it does you great credit. I repeat, concerning the payment to Petrov of £5,000, that I said what I have just stated to the House about it. The fourth matter that we discussed was about -an interpreter. It is true that the Leader of the Opposition has since discovered a great affection for some other interpreter; but on that occasion I heard about the qualifications of Mr. Birse, C.B.E., who had been an interpreter - no mean qualification - at conferencesbetween Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt.
– Not Molotov?
– Not at that time. 1 therefore said that a signal should be sent to Mr. Churchill, as he then was, asking him whether the services of that distinguished interpreter could be obtained. I further said that I felt that in the long run, it was probably advisable to take evidence in public rather than in private; but - and let me emphasize this, because on this my recollection and the recollection of Mr. Windeyer are at one - that no individuals’ names should be mentioned by Mr. Windeyer in opening the matter. I expressed the view, with which he agreed, that it would not be proper to mention any names until after the elections. This common recollection of Mr. Windeyer and myself is, of course, a complete refutation of the allegation of political malpractice. To have opened the £5,000 payment except in direct association with the surrounding circumstances would have been most misleading and would, I think every one will agree, have led to gross misrepresentations. But, in any event, the political allegation is manifestly absurd.
The right honorable gentleman’s theory is that the whole of this matter, from beginning to end, was cooked up to defeat him at an election. Apropos of this, I well remember the cynical but wise remark of a former Supreme Court judge in my own State who said to a young advocate, “You may think it is permissible to regard your opponent as a crook ; but you must never commit the elementary error of thinking he is a fool “. Now, the right honorable gentleman says, putting it in homely terms, that in these matters I was a crook. But why should he also charge me with being a fool? After all, every honorable member will realize that, when I made my announcement to the House about Petrov and the royal commission, I would have been, in the ordinary course, well entitled to quote a specimen of the documents Petrov had brought with him. If I had done this, the names of O’Sullivan, Grundeman and others, directly or indirectly associated with the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition would have become public property.
– And Dalziel.
– Do not mutter and mumble.
– I am not muttering. I am trying to yell.
– Just take it! Perhaps the right honorable gentleman does not remember the names of O’Sullivan and Grundeman.
– Yes. The Prime Minister knew him well.
– Did I? That is as untrue as everything else that the Leader of the Opposition has said in this debate. I had never heard of Mr. O’Sullivan until I saw the document containing his name for the first time.
– What would the honorable member know about it?
– He does not know what day it is.
– No. Let me repeatthis does occupy time and that is the object of the interjections - if I had referred to the contents of one document, the names of those people would have become public property and the political reaction would have been enormous. But I did not do so. On the contrary, I gave, as Mr. Windeyer agrees, a direction in an entirely contrary sense. I went further than this. Early in the campaign, it appeared that some reference to the Petrov matter had been made on a public platform. I at once communicated with every Government candidate in Australia - as everybody here can confirm - and said that as this matter would receive judicial investigation, I wanted it kept out of the political campaign. I have every reason to believe that this request of mine was scrupulously observed. Why it should be thought that, having cunningly schemed to produce Petrov on the eve of an election, I should then go to all sorts of trouble to defeat my own scheming, I am at a loss to understand. At an equal loss will be all Australians whose minds are not unbalanced by delusions or obsessions or, may I say to one or two of my friends opposite, by false and hopeless loyalties.
It will be remembered that my announcement of a royal commission was unanimously approved by the House. It will also be remembered that the bill which I introduced in August, 1954, to clear up the powers of the royal commission was unanimously approved. In other words - and I repeat this; it deserves to be well known - this House, including the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition, specifically authorized these three named judges to conduct their investigations into the matters assigned to them. The right honorable gentleman, for reasons of his own, was gravely disturbed by what might appear. He, therefore, on the pretext of appearing for two people, went as counsel before the royal commission. It was clear from the outset to everybody, including the Communists, that his object was to destroy the authority and reputation of a royal commission whose creation he had voted for. Before he had ever studied the documents in court he set out to suggest conspiracy, fraud and forgery. He was listened to with exemplary patience. He created an atmosphere entirely delightful to the Australian Communist party. The royal commission therefore, very properly, though expensively, devoted a great deal of time to listening to allegations, most, or all, of which he repeated last week. All I need do is to remind the House that when it made an interim report on these matters the royal commission said - I do not want to worry honorable members, but. this deserves to be heard and heard widely-
– A great smear I
-. - Every finding against the right honorable-gentleman is- a great smear. In this case the smearers are Mr. Justice Owen, Mr. Justice Philp and Mr. Justice Ligertwood. Do let us have that in mind. When I refer to their findings the answer- from the Communist’s friend is, “This is- the great smear”. In fact, I do not know which is the greater and which is the greatest ; but I will still, for the benefit of Australians who do respect these judges - and, thank God, that is 98 per cent, of Australians - repeat what they found after weeks of patient hearing -
That is the right honorable member* - on 1st. September, that they formulate, with some exactitude their allegations. Dr. Evatt then charged that Exhibit J Bad been fabricated! by the Petrovs as- part of a. political conspiracy with, the- enforced’ aid of O’sullivan who, he- alleged, had been blackmailed into collaborating in the fabrication of the document and into inserting therein as sources the names of; himself , Grundeman and Dalziel. The political conspiracy was alleged to be one. to injure Dr. Evatt: and. the: Australian Labour party by procuring the false insertion in Exhibit J of the names- of three: of his secretaries– as- sources with the intention that the? Petrovs- should: so nicely- time their- actions that Exhibit J- could be- produced: and published on the eve of the Federal elections in- 195*4. He further, charged that at least one senior officer of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, Richards, had been guilty of serious- derelictions of duty in that, without, proper care and inquiry, he had accepted from Petrov fabricated” documents, Had paid him large sums of public money for them, and had’ “ uttered “ these documents, presumably to the Prime Minister of Australia.
Their Honours went on -
Those a-re the findings- of three experienced and distinguished Australian supreme court judges. The question: for this House, and indeed the question for the people,, will be whether: they are prepared to reject these findings on. the say-sc of a few honorable members- who have never read the evidence, or of: the right honorable gentleman, who. was in effect a defeated litigant in the case.. But I must concede that the right honorable gentleman is not easily cast down. He has- indeed performed the astonishing feat, backed by Mr: Molotov-‘s letter; of asking- - let me emphasize this - that an international commission be set up to investigate the work of these three Australian judges, though he has himself,, as I understood him - and I. do not claim that I did - said that the results of the Australian judges’’ inquiry were insignificant and’ fruitless-. I will leave it- to- the Australian people to decide whether they ha-ve so> littles faith in their own judiciary as; to wish, to have its work reviewed- by an. international body including; among others, the- very people against whom the findings of the royal commission are directed’.
At the risk of repeating myself; I point out to the House that the right honorable gentleman’s passions, which he has with careful preparation exposed to the House, are against the Prime Minister of his own country and for the Foreign Secretary of the Soviet Union; against three Australian judges of impeccable reputation and for some nebulous and hypothetical international commission ; against the Australian Security Service, headed by a distinguished and patriotic Australian, and for people like Sharkey and Clayton. The truth is, of course, that the one passion animating his mind here, as before the royal commission, is for himself. So far as it pretends to be a passion for justice it is demonstrably false. His defence of Clayton is indeed noteworthy. It is a perfect example. One of the things that proved Clayton’s activities was Frances Bernie’s evidence. She was a Communist employed in the right honorable gentleman’s own office, and deposed that she had given to Clayton documents taken from the office.
– Just alittle girl who worked there.
– I was not judging by the lady’s size. The honorable member for Parkes, the disappearing honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) says, “ Just a little girl “. All I know is that, unless they are going to defame and repudiate her, I refer to the fact that it was her evidence that showed that Clayton, the kingpin in the Communist party, whom, they are now so anxious to defend, was the spy; it was her evidence that fixed the identity of this man, as much as anything else, as the man who was the spy.
– You stood over her, too !
– I do not wish to use up too much of. my time, but I do wish the right, honorable gentleman would understand that I know perfectly well that he resents every adverse reference to the Communists. Therefore, there we are!
– The Prime Minister has only to read the evidence !
– Order ! Theright honorable gentleman will cease inter jecting
– Of course, he is? troubled. He made a monumental exhibition of himself last week. I am not. adding to the monumental exhibition; I am merely sealing the tombstoneon top of it.
The right honorable gentleman says that I know all about Petrov. Let us take this quite quietly; let us take it clearly. He says that I knew all about Petrov in 1953. All I need, to say on this matter is that I had never heard of Petrov before his defection in April, 1954.
– What date in April?
– I will say that again shortly. It was in April, 1954, before his defection That is the relevant time. The case of the Leader of the Opposition to the contrary is, on analysis, quite laughable. When one looks at it, one sees that it is entirely based upon what he has read in a book published under the name of Bialoguski. I think that is the right name.
– He called to see you.
– The honorable member does not improve his case by muttering there. I hope the people listening in tonight will be able to hear me in spite of it.
It is perhaps worthy of note, as I said before, that the right honorable gentleman spoke with contempt about Bialoguski and. accepted his evidence in his book only when he thought it would be against me. It appears that Bialoguski did call at my office at Canberra, as I have ascertained from my then private secretary, on the 7th October, 1953.
My then private secretary was Mr. Geoffrey Yeend, who was known, to a great number of honorable members. Thought relatively junior,. I hope I might say on his behalf that he has a high, reputation in the civil service. Mr. Yeend, being a competent private secretary, saw thism an and disposed of his problem, so he thought, to his satisfaction. There was no need for Mr. Yeend to mention the matter to me, and he did not do so.
– Of course, honorable members opposite would know. All I am saying is that Mr. Yeend says that, as well as myself, and I am not in the habit, whatever other people may do, of dragooning members of my staff into foreswearing themselves.
– Where is Bialoguski’s letter?
– After Bialoguski published an account of the episode in the newspaper in June of this year, which, of course, was more than a year after the royal commission was established, Mr. Yeend gave me his recollection of it. He has told me that he did not receive a sealed envelope from Bialoguski, that Bialoguski’s chief complaint was that he was asking for higher pay.
– That is the defection.
– Does not the right honorable gentleman like this?
– Yes, I do.
– Does the right honorable gentleman hate the truth all the time ?
– I want the letter.
– The right honorable gentleman wants the letter ! I am terribly sorry about this. It now turns out that poor Geoffrey Yeend is one of those accused !
– No. I just want the letter.
– There is no limit to the allegations of fraud or dishonesty that can be made so long as Sharkey and Clayton and the Communists can get off scot free. I now come back to what I was saying. Mr. Yeend states he did not receive a sealed envelope, and that at no stage was the name of Petrov mentioned, nor was mention made of the possibility of any diplomat’s defection. Mr. Yeend has said to me that it could be inferred from Bialoguski’s book that in October, 1953, I knew of the work he was doing, and knew of his visit to Canberra. Mr. Yeend confirms that he certainly made no mention to me of either Bialoguski’s complaint, or even his existence.
– What about the letter?
– The right honorable the Leader of the Opposition keeps muttering about letters. It would be a very unpleasant thing to cast doubt on the word of a trusted former officer of mine.
– Who are you taking about - Bialoguski?
– I am talking about Mr. Yeend. Did the honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters) ever meet him? He saw him a good deal.
– Did he ?
– Yes, he did, and the honorable member was always, I am bound to say, quite civil to him.
– I thought the Prime Minister was talking about Bialoguski.
– It is not doubted that Mr. Yeend is honest.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon?
– It is not doubted that Mr. Yeend is honest.
– Of course not, and I am grateful to the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Eraser) for his interjection. He is quite right. It was not until after Bialoguski’s appearance before the royal commission that my former secretary, Mr. Yeend, placed him as the man he had interviewed, and a few days later he mentioned to me for the first time that Mr. Bialoguski, who had just given evidence, had called and seen him in 1953. Everybody understands that. Dear me-
– What did he want increased pay for?
– I am sorry, but the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths) has never been Prime Minister, or a Minister so far as I know, but he should know that hordes of people come to see the Prime Minister, and it is a remarkably good private secretary who keeps them out.
The charges of the right honorable Leader of the Opposition did not rest there. Driven on by this extraordinary obsession of his, he says that a plan for PetroVs reception was communicated to the heads of Commonwealth departments on the 17th February, 1954. The fact is that no plan was communicated to any department.
– That is sworn evidence.
– Early in February, 1954, I now learn that the SolicitorGeneral and the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs, as individuals, were warned of the possibility of a defection. This warning was given orally by the Director-General, and was given to no other people except the AttorneyGeneral and the Minister for External Affairs. I was myself told that there was the possibility of a defection, but the identity of the subject was not disclosed, nor did I ask for it. The head of my department was not informed at any stage prior to the actual defection. I repeat that I had not heard of Petrov before his actual defection in 1954.
The Leader of the Opposition, posing as the universal defender of liberty, has then proceeded to make the case of Madame Oilier his own. Not only has he broken all records as an opposition leader by communicating with the foreign secretary of another country in order to get a distant and uncrossexamined denial of charges found to bc true by an Australian tribunal, but he has, so he boasts, performed the remarkable act of writing to a French court, or the French Government - there have been two versions of this - presumably to tell them how they ought to conduct their business. Under these circumstances it is desirable that the Oilier matter which incidentally, was publicly unknown until the 4th September, 1954, months after the election, should be seen quite clearly.
The royal commission was not concerned to find Madame Oilier guilty or innocent of an offence against French law. It has stated its attitude very plainly in chapter 11 of its report. What it said - and it clearly appears from the documents - was that the Soviet M.V.D. had a basic design to obtain through Madame Oilier, who was an officer of the French Embassy in Canberra, the cipher and ciphering techniques used by the French Embassy and such other secret information as might be useful to the Soviet. The commissioners said, in paragraph 610 -
It appears also from the evidence that some time prior to Pakhomov’s departure from Australia in June, 1.952, he had, on behalf of the M.Y.D., given Madame Oilier a watch costing £35. Mrs. Petrov and Pakhomov selected the watch at a shop in Canberra. Pakhomov took the watch and later reported that he had given it to Madame Oilier. Mrs. Petrov paid the £35 purchase price from the
M.V.D. funds, and accounted for it to the Moscow Centre, which did not question the payment. Neither of the Petrovs could fix the date of the purchase of the watch, nor could they swear whether or when Pakhomov had in fact handed it to Madame Oilier.
The commission also quoted the Moscow letter of the 2nd January, 1952, relating to Madame Oilier confirming the object of the inquiries and suggesting that meetings should occur at places located at a distance of 40 to 70 miles from Canberra. The commission went on to find that Madame Oilier had met Petrov at Cooma and also that to encourage her she had been presented with an expensive watch. The Commission went on to find that the results of what it called “ These laborious and persistent efforts of the M.V.D. were almost negligible “. It concluded by saying that -
The evidence clearly establishes that in respect of Madame Oilier espionage was conducted by two members of th Soviet Embassy in Australia, namely Sadovnikov and Petrov, and a Tass representative, namely Pakhomov, all acting as espionage agents under the specific direction of the Soviet Government.
These findings excite the passionate indignation of the Leader of the Opposition. Yet, in fact in the recent proceedings in France I understand Madame Oilier admitted the Cooma contact and the receipt of the watch. No doubt the French court felt that her “ indiscretions “, shall I say, had been adequately punished by the fact that she had been imprisoned for some two months before the trial. But all this is of little significance in the Petrov inquiry. What is the charge ? It will not be thought very convincing by most people that the right honorable member for Barton should be quite passionate about the Oilier affair being investigated in Australia in the absence of evidence by Madame Oilier, when he is so obviously delighted that Madame Oilier should be set free in France in the absence of evidence by the Petrovs. The truth is that the real charge is, I fear, against me. When I say “ fear “, I use the word in a purely technical sense. To use the right honorable gentleman’s own picturesque language, I am supposed to have “ spirited “ Madame Oilier out of Australia - a feat of levitation - and arranged to have her held incommunicado - I like that word - in another country
The royal commission has stated the facts quite accurately. T do not share the right honorable gentleman’s devotion to instructing other. countries as to how they should conduct their business. As I have already indicated, all I did was to say that the French Ambassador in Canberra should be told in advance that .Madame Ollier’s name was going to be mentioned and that he would no doubt seek instructions from his own Government. What happened then ? I merely read the .royal commission’s .report. The commissioners stated, at paragraph 599 -
In view of these circumstances, shortly after the defection and before our first sittings, the Department of External Affairs confidentially notified the French Ambassador of the reference to Madame Oilier contained in the Moscow letters, and she was sent by her Ambassador to Noumea -
Not by me. I hope .honorable members will notice that. I was not in charge of the French Embassy - where she would be cut off not only from access to secret communications and ciphers but also from any dangerous associations she might possibly have ‘formed.
The evidence concerning Madame Oilier was heard by us in private session in Melbourne on the ‘20th July, 1&54.
This was well after the general elections -
Because of diplomatic immunity and later her absence from Australia, she could not be subpoenaed to attend-
That is quite true - and she did not attend the session. Opportunity was afforded the French Ambassador to be represented at the session, but this was not availed of. “We agreed- “ We “ are the judges, in this case - to supply .him with the transcript of the proceedings and to withhold its immediate publication in order to .give the French Government an opportunity of studying it and of making such arrangements as it considered appropriate. Later, the French Ambassador having agreed to the date of publication, the transcript was published - on 4th September, 1954.
What could be more proper ? What could be more in accordance with what I regard as the courteous contact between countries than that? Then the judges went on to say, .at paragraph 601 -
We assume that the transfer of Madame Oilier to Noumea .and the abstention o’f the French Government from availing itself of the opportunity afforded it to be represented at our ‘inquiry were /partly because of its desire that any .proceedings in connexion with her should take place on French soil and in accordance with French legal procedure, and partly because it would not be in -accordance with diplomatic practice for her Government to waive its immunity and rights -under international law and permit her to give evidence. We were, of course, willing to hear ner if her Government had waived its immunity, and this we made ‘known.
Finally, they stated, at paragraph 602 -
In fact the French ‘Government, after receiving the transcript, made its own interrogation of her in .Noumea, , and in consequence
In consequence of that interrogation, 1 ask honorable members to note -
Madame Oilier was arrested there and sent to France for further interrogation.
That is all I need say about the matterIf any one with a clear mind can find in that narrative anything on which to levy a charge against .three judges, or even against me, I will be much surprised. In my 27 years in Parliament I do not remember any debate or any dispute so astonishing as this. I would have thought that when a democratically elected Parliament unanimously approved of a royal commission and, by .statute, unanimously approved of the names of the commissioners, a discussion upon their report would shave concerned itself -with whether dangers to the country had been revealed and whether any, and if so what, steps ought to be taken to prevent repetition of those dangers. I would certainly not have supposed that a member of Parliament, professionally employed on behalf of some of the parties, would have taken the occasion to challenge the character and capacity of the royal commission, and to seek to invalidate its findings by the very simple expedient of selecting one or two facts-out of thousands, and one or two questions and answers out of scores of thousands, in order to discredit the judges and the counsel who appeared to assist them. Nor would I have thought it likely that Parliament should be invited to re-open and pursue charges already described by the judges as fantastic and unfounded. But this is not all ! It has been clearly found that there were leakages from the Department of External Affairs from 1945 to 1948, when the right honorable gentleman himself was the Minister. So seriously were these regarded that the security organization, -was set up by Mr.. ‘Chifley himself. That organization was placed under the direction of a South .Australian Supreme Court judge, Mr. Justice Heed, who was on loan from the State of South Australia. When “his term ran out, my own Government ‘appointed Mr. Spry, to whom I have referred. The effective maintenance of the service was obviously a desirable thing.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organization is not a police force, nor, incidentally, has it ever proposed to take over ,any Commonwealth police force. It is an intelligence organization. It must be obvious to a child .that in the intelligence .field there should be the -closest collaboration between the civil and the military arms. Is there something wicked about having an intelligence -organization - a counter-espionage organization ? Are we to leave it to the spies to do their wonk unchecked ? Do spies of other countries operate for our good for our security, or our future ? The business of counterespionage is a business which requires great character, great courage, great skill and considerable freedom of action. Honest Australians will be more easy in their minds to learn from this royal commission report that our security organization has been so effective that in the last six years practically no information has been secured by Communist agencies. All this is so elementary and so clear that one is at a loss to understand why the Leader of the Opposition, the alternative Prime Minister of this country, should be at such pains to destroy the reputation and the efficacy of the security service. On behalf of that service, I reject and condemn the allegations that have been made that it has acted in a political way. The men who constitute -it are patriotic, skilful, and industrious men. It will be a poor thing indeed if men in such a service are given to understand that if their ‘investigations are not agreeable to the Leader of the Opposition, -they may expect to encounter dismissal and infamy if .a change of government occurs.
At the risk of straining the patience of the House, I add this: In the “United Kingdom, in Canada, and in the United States, the -refutation of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization stands very high. Its handling of the Petrov case has ‘been the subject of commendation and congratulation. This is important, for, without mutual trust and confidence .between the security .services of those countries .and ourselves, we will find that we receive no secrets and no confidence. Indeed, information was in fact frequently withheld from Australia before 1949, when the security service was established.
Under all these circumstances, at is a wicked thing that such a consistent campaign should have been conducted by the Communist party outside this House, and by the right honorable gentleman inside it, for the express purpose of weakening confidence in lie security service and therefore Tendering it less effective for its purposes of counter-espionage. I do not hesitate to say that this is one of the right honorable gentleman’s principal purposes in this matter. He has not concealed his violent hatred of that service or of the people that make it up. It will be, I hope and repeat, abundantly clear that, should ‘he become the head of the ‘Government of this country, the present senior personnel of that service will be dismissed, and the possibility of getting adequate recruits utterly and perhaps permanently destroyed. This is a dreadful manoeuvre. All I can do to counter it is to state, on behalf of the Government, and, I believe, on behalf of the overwhelming majority of members, that we regard these security officers as men of capacity and integrity and patriotism. So far as my Government is concerned, we will do everything in our power to protect them.
It is, of course, the very fury of the right honorable gentleman’s obsession against the security service which has led him to turn away from his consistent battle on behalf of Australian Communists to make his now celebrated appeal to M. Molotov. This appeal would be childish if it were made by an obscure nonentity. It becomes atrocious when it is made by a leader who is an aspirant for the Prime Ministership. Could anybody have believed that a royal commission, sitting for many months “with patient care, and making findings, should have those findings curtly rejected ‘to the satisfaction of the right honorable gentleman by the very government whose activities those findings have exposed, a government which, in fact, after Petrov’s defection, closed its embassy here and destroyed its records. A new procedure has been invented by the right honorable gentleman. It is as if, after the prisoner in the dock has been convicted by the jury, the right honorable gentleman, as a spectator, springs’ up and says to the convicted person, “ Were you guilty ? “ and the convicted person says, “ I was not “, and then the right honorable gentleman turns, denounces the judge, denounces the jury, denounces counsel, and denounces all the witnesses who have given evidence for the Grown. Well, such conduct may be novel, and even arresting, in an ordinary court. It would be regarded as some evidence of eccentricity, and it would, I imagine, though I would not be sure, lead to some proceedings for contempt of court, but internationally it represents a studied insult to Australian judges, Australian judicial procedure, and an Australian report.
Altogether too little attention has been paid to the valuable results which have proceeded from the defection and disclosures of the Petrovs. I will not be much longer but I want to mention this. To deal with local matters first, it must be obvious to honorable members that, but for the disclosures by Petrov, and the report of the royal commission, it is reasonable to assume that people like O’sullivan and Grundeman would still be with the right honorable gentleman in this building, and, but for the last election, attached to the Prime Minister, and that the espionage of the Soviet Embassy would be both operating and, to a large extent, unknown. But even more important is that the information provided by the Petrovs, only some of which came within the scope of the royal commission, has proved invaluable to other democratic countries. Petrov himself, as we know from the United Kingdom authorities, is the most senior defector from any of the Soviet intelligence services since 1937. As such, he has been able to supply more information than any previous single defector regarding the espionage activities of the M.V.D. Both of the Petrovs have, in fact, since April, 1954, been continuously supplying information, some affecting the security of Australia and, possibly more importantly, some providing general intelligence of assistance to the Western democracies, which intelligence has not been, and of course cannot be, published.
I want to inform the House that communications with the United Kingdom security authorities show specifically that the information obtained from Petrov is in many cases confirmed by information held abroad and, in other cases, has enabled a material addition to be made to their information. In point of fact, scores and scores of Soviet intelligence operatives working in democratic countries have been identified as a result of the disclosures of the Petrovs. In addition to all this, they have, of course, supplied invaluable information regarding Soviet intelligence methods and techniques of espionage. I will not need to remind the House, I hope, that the recent events regarding Maclean arid Burgess, and the case in Sweden, were striking confirmation of the accuracy of what the Petrovs had to say. I think I should add that, under all these circumstances, honorable members will agree that it would indeed be astonishing if no money had been paid to the Petrovs for their protection and maintenance. The whole idea is farcical. The royal commission fully investigated this matter and found it completely proper.
So I come to the end of what I have to say. I have -referred to those who are charged by the right honorable gentleman. Honorable public opinion will acquit them, beyond question. But the same honorable public opinion will not acquit the man who made these reckless and villainous charges ; nor will it acquit those who have, in this House, authorized those charges, and, by their presence and support, countenanced them. If there is a charge to be made, it is this: The Leader of the Opposition has, from first to last in this matter, for his own pur poses, in his own interests and with the enthusiastic support of every Communist in Australia, sought to discredit the judiciary, to subvert the authority of the security organization,’ to cry down decent and patriotic Australians and to build up the Communist fifth column. I am, therefore, compelled to say that, in the name of all these good and honorable men, in the name of public decency, in the name of the safety of Australia, the man on trial in this debate is the right honorable gentleman himself.
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has spoken for approximately one and threequarter hours but, because of the action of the Government in restricting the time allotted to the member of the Opposition who follows him, I have to make my remarks in twenty minutes. Obviously, it will be impossible for me to deal with all the arguments advanced by the right honorable gentleman. The Prime Minister’s speech is remarkable, not so much for what he has said as for the questions directed to him to which he has not endeavoured to make any reply. His clowning for an hour and three-quarters will not help his case. He is underrating the intelligence of the Australian people if he believes that they will be satisfied with the statement he has made this evening. The right honorable gentleman has talked about witnesses being under cross-examination. If there is one person in this country who ought to have been called as a witness before the royal commission and who ought to have been submitted to cross-examination on his statements, it is the Prime Minister himself.
What does he say? He says that the whole of the report of the royal commission rests on one important finding - that is, that the Petrovs are witnesses of truth. The royal commission has found that they are witnesses of truth, but that is not the opinion held by the Labour Opposition. That does not mean that we are attacking the integrity of the three judges who comprised the commission. Is not it a well-known legal principle in this country that we can differ from the opinion of a tribunal, once it has formed that opinion? Is not it a fact that appeals are made to higher courts and that subsequently, upon further examination, the judgments of learned gentlemen such as those who comprised this royal commission are upset? That is the Opposition’s approach to the matter. We feel that the commission did not deal with this matter in the manner in which it should have been dealt with.
We believe that the finding of the commission has proved to be a damp squib. Despite what the Prime Minister has said about spy rings operating in this country and about the people engaged in them, it is a remarkable fact that the royal commissioners, whose findings honorable gentlemen opposite now uphold, have not recommended that even one prosecution be launched against anybody in this country for having engaged in espionage activities.
The Prime Minister said there was no suggestion of any bargaining with the Petrovs to defect, and that they defected voluntarily because they had become converted to the Australian way of life and no longer believed in communism. In the case of Petrov himself, I am prepared to admit that he did defect voluntarily, but in the case of his wife, no. Petrov had decided to defect probably long before the Prime Minister heard of the decision. I believe that the right honorable gentleman heard of it much earlier than he admitted in his speech this evening, but I am satisfied that, even before then, Petrov and Bialoguski, those two international scoundrels, had decided to play the Australian Government and Australian security service as suckers. That is exactly what they did.
Let us see whether the Petrovs are witnesses of truth. Reference has been made by the Prime Minister to the Madame Oilier case. He pronounces the name differently from the way in which I pronounce it. The people with whom I mix pronounce it “ Ollyer “. Although Madame Oilier has been completely acquitted by the French tribunal which tried her on charges based on evidence contained in the documents submitted to the Australian Government by Petrov, the Prime Minister is not satisfied to accept the decision of the French tribunal. He endeavours to smear this lady again by suggesting that the French tribunal set her at liberty only because it believed that she had been punished enough already. We all know that there was evidence in this country that could have been called in her defence. When the Prime Minister talked about the royal commission having found that Petrov had actually seen Madame Oilier in
Cooma on- Christmas Eve, in 1953, lie knew that there was evidence in this country to prove that Petrov was lying when, he said that he met Madame Oilier at about midday on that day. Senator Tangney, an honoured member of this Parliament, was in. a. position to giveevidence, as also was the proprietor of an hotel in Eden on the south coast of New South Wales, that Madame Oilier, who had. arranged, to stay at that hotel for her Christmas vacation, actually booked in at 12.30 p.m. on that day, one half -hour after Petrov said that he had talked to her in Cooma. Everybody knows that to go by car from Cooma to Eden takes approximately five hours. Tt would have been physically impossible for Madame Oilier to have booked in at a hotel at Eden at 12.30 p.m. and to have had this discussion with Mr. Petrov at Cooma at 12 o’clock. Why was not Senator Tangney called before the royal commission? Why was not the hotel proprietor called? If that, evidence had been heard, it would have shown clearly that Petrov was not telling- the truth. Not only is Petrov a Liar. but he is also a drunkard;, a lover of women and high living, and he can be proved to be completely dishonest. He ia- a ruthless and unscrupulous scoundrel.
He said that the cause of his defection was that after, he had seen the Australian way of life, he no longer believed’ in communism. What did he know about the Australian way of life, except the experience that he had. with Dr. Bialoguski who referred, in one of his published statements, to a. harem night that they spent together in a King’s Cross fiat? Is that the type of Australian living that enticed Mr.. Petrov to defect from his own government and his own country ? The truth is- that. Petrov sought asylum in this country because he was afraid” to return to his own country, and in order to1 buy his- own material improvement in. life, security and protection He was- prepared to abandon his own. wife and to ex-pose bar to destruction upon her return to. Russia. What did’ he do ?. In order to secure the- documents that he subsequently handed over to the security service and: the- Australian; Government, he got his wife; unknowingly, to sign a falsa- declaration that certain documents had been destroyed’. That declaration was sent to Moscow. Having deceived his wife,, he was prepared to endanger her life. He made it impossible for- her to return to Russia. She was worried, not only about her own. security, but also that of her family.
What did he do with his friend in the Soviet legation - the man who tipped him off about adverse reports about him that had been sent to Russia by Lifanov and by Liifanov’s successor, Generalov ? What did he do- with this; gentleman named Prudnikov who was working- in the Russian embassy and with whom he was friendly and who, in turn, believed that Petrov was his friend and was warning him by telling him about, and showing him, reports that were going to Moscow ?’ Petrov, this- high-principled gentleman, as we are supposed to believe him to be, went before the royal commission to protect his own skin ; but he also endangered the life e of his friend by disclosing who it was that had informed him of the adverse reports. Honorable members can see exactly the type of man that he is.
It is quite- true that, sometime previously, Petrov and” Bialoguski had conspired to extract as- much as they could from the Australian Government, because Petrov had no intention of returning to Russia. Mrs. Bialoguski,, in an article that she wrote under the caption “I Married a Secret Agent”, stated -
He (Dr. Bialoguski) had told me months before the defection, “A>t the right time we, Petrov and I together, axe going to write the whole thing, ourselves, with film and serial rights-, magazines and: so on. We should clean up a fortune “.
That is what he told Mrs. Bialoguski. That is their only concern about our way of life and about helping, us against the terrible- Communists! We heard the Leader of the Opposition state- that when Mr… Petrov was representing’ himself as being the; representative of the Russian M.V.D. in, this country, he was promoting himself. He knew that as’ third clerk in the embassy,, he: would not ha*e much value- in the eyes of the- Australian Government, but that, if he were able to establish- that he wast the representative of the M.V.D; im Australia- he could push the price up to the sum of £5,000..
Honorable members’ know bow many, questions- about this matter remain on the notice-paper* unanswered., They know that those questions have been on the noticepaper for over a month without having been answered1 by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has informed me in this- House that the Petrov’s are still working- for the Commonwealth. He has also stated that they have not received’ any payments other than the £5jOO0 and the cost of their maintenance. But Petrov says differently. He says that he was of the- opinion- that the payment of £5,000 was only an advance payment, and that that was the impression he gained when he- had a discussion with Mr.. Richards, the deputy director of the Australian Intelligence Organization. Petrov told Richards that; if he remained, he would help in every way and would tell all he knew: He hinted that he knew a great deal, and. he was hinting because he wanted to- get’ the price up. I ask honorable members; to listen, to. this: Dr. Bialoguski said that when. Petrov left Sydney to return to Canberra, it was evident that, if his suspicions were to be allayed, he, Petrov, must have a firm proposal put to him and be given a guarantee that undertakings would’ be carried out. Bialoguski said that he ham~mered that home to. the security service. He said - 1 told Richards, “ Petrov is a realistic man, and you must deal with him on realistic terms. When you promise him. assistance to establish himself here, that can mean only one thing to him - money. ‘ You have to make up your, mind on a definite sum and. you have to talk in actual cash. Bank, drafts or cheques will be no good- to him.
He was the principal, witness upon whose evidence the findings of the royal commission were based. I invite honorable member s to examine the sequence of events leading up to the defection. The facts I am about to- outline- have all, been taken from the- evidence; On the 2nd Aprils 1954, Richards met Petrov at the Mascot airport.. They proceeded to a flat, at King’s Cross where Petrov signed an application seeking asylum. Colonel Spry arrived at the- flat and Petrov then showed Spry the documents that” he had brought from the Russian embassy. But Petrov retained the documents1; he did not intend’ to hand them over until he got the hard cash. He wanted the £5,000. If that were not so, having signed, his application for asylum in this country, would not the obvious thing have been for him to hand to Colonel Spry at that time the documents that he was proposing to give to. the Government ? All Petrov did was to- let Colonel Spry have a. look at them, and say; “ Well,, you are getting these as- soon as I get the £5^0.00 “. On the- 3rd April, the next day, Petrov was taken to the “ safe house “,. that,, presumably, being, some place that was- known only to the security service. At that house, Richards handed over the £5,000, not in the form of. a bank draft or cheque, but in notes. As soon as the sum of £5,000 in notes had been handed over, Petrov handed over the documents to Richards and signed a. receipt for the money. That receipt, which has not been produced, and which I invite the Prime Minister to produce, stated that the money was received for services rendered. Do those facts- indicate that this man. voluntarily wanted to help the Australian Government against the Communists?
The Petrovs have written a series of articles.. Let us have- a look at what Petrov has said. He has stated -
Richards told me that his Director-General’, Colonel Spry, had: authorized the payment of £5,000, which would be- more when I (Petrov) finally sought asylum in Australia.
So Petrov says that there is more to come. Mr. Richards, the Deputy Director of the security service, in answer to a question by Mr. Justice Ligertwood, stated that he had the impression from Dr. Bialoguski that Petrov wanted to bargain with the security service. That statement appears in the evidence, but the Prime. Minister has studiously failed to make any reference to it. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the royal commissioners- declared) in their interim report, that the- bargaining for documents- to which reference was made so often by counsel existed only in imagination-. Is- not that’ a ridiculous statement in view of the amount of evidence to the contrary that is- available ?
Now I wish to turn, to the Prime Minister’s part in. this business. On the 13th April, in this chamber, the Prime Minister said: - and he repeated1 it here to-night -
The name of Petrov became known- to me for the first time on- Sunday, the 11th April, I think, or the preceding Saturday night.
But Richards and Spry, those gentlemen whom the Prime Minister holds up to us to-night as being reputable witnesses, gave sworn evidence which was contrary to the statement made by the Prime Minister in this Parliament. They said that, in company with an interpreter, they saw the Prime Minister at the Lodge on the 4th April, at 5 p.m., by appointment, to report on the defection of Petrov, and were with the Prime Minister from 5 p.m. until 6.40 p.m. Colonel Spry, or Brigadier Spry as he now is, produced the Petrov documents, which Mr. Menzies had studied. Mr. Justice Ligertwood said -
Did the Prime Minister read document J?
Mr. Richards replied ;
I think he saw it.
So, according to those two men, each of whom confirmed the other’s evidence, for one hour and 40 minutes on the 4th April - not the 11th April, or the 10th as the Parliament was told - they were with the Prime Minister talking about the defection of Petrov. Yet, according to the Prime Minister, they did not mention Petrov by name. He had never, so he said, heard the name. They merely mentioned that somebody had defected from the Russian Embassy. Does anybody believe that? Further than that, he said that no mention was made of the ?5,000 payment to Petrov. The public will take some convincing that the director and deputy director of the security service were with the Prime Minister for one hour and 40 minutes on the 4th April without mentioning either Mr. Petrov’s name or his defection, or that ?5,000 had been paid to him for certain documents.
When I raised this matter in the Parliament and asked the Prime Minister about the difference between his statement here and the sworn evidence of these men, he led me to believe that he was awaiting the call to give evidence before the commission. But he got no call, evidently, and showed no desire to go before the commission. He has not answered that question tonight. He has not told the Parliament why, on the 13th April, he deliberately misled the Parliament and the people in regard to his knowledge of this affair. Now he says that when the commission opened at the Albert Hall, in Canberra, he had agreed with Mr. Windeyer that the ?5,000 was not to be mentioned. Why should it not be mentioned? Is it not quite obvious that if the Prime Minister did not want the ?5,000 mentioned, he did not believe for one moment that his action could be considered as one to assist the Opposition? Not at all. He withheld the statement about the ?5,000 because he knew that it would be very damaging to the Government parties that he led at the general election on the 29th May last year. He said he heard of it only on the 9th May during the election campaign. Who is likely to believe that? We have asked the Prime Minister in this House to tell us who authorized this payment. The security service is directly responsible to the Prime Minister and to nobody else. If it has to report to him in respect of what it is doing, surely we have not reached the ridiculous position in this country where Brigadier Spry or Mr. Richards, or any executive officer of the security service, can hand around ?5,000 gifts or payments to agents or people who offer to sell them documents, without any governmental authority to do so. Who would believe that ? Therefore, it is quite obvious that the Prime Minister knew all about the payment of ?5,000. The security service chiefs had actually bargained with Petrov over a long period. Petrov was trying to force the price up, and they were trying to get it down, until finally they decided on the payment of ?5,000, and even that is now in dispute. “
Now we come to the question as to when the Prime Minister first heard of Dr. Bialoguski.
-Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) put -
That the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward)be granted an extension of time.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 19
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move-
That Standing Order 92 be suspended to enable the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) to speak for a period not exceeding one hour.
I am going to take the unprecedented course-
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order !
– I repeat that I move -
That Standing Order 92 be suspended to enable the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) to speak for a period not exceeding one hour.
I propose to take the unprecedented course, Mr. Deputy Speaker, of speaking to this motion because it is customary in this House for the deputy leaders of the parties to arrange the business of this House. The arrangement that was made in regard to this debate, and agreed to by the deputy leaders of the parties, was that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) who had secured the adjournment of the debate, should be granted a period of two hours in which to state his case; that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) should be allowed a like period of time; and that the leader in the debate for the corner party should be allowed half that time, which is one hour.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order !
– That was the arrangement between the deputy leaders of the parties. Only five or ten minutes ago, while the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. “Ward) was speaking, I was told that that arrangement was to be repudiated by the Leader of the Opposition.
– Order !
– This is not the first time that the Leader of the Opposition has sought to humble his deputy leader in this House, by repudiating arrangements made by him. Indeed, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I was subsequently approached by the deputy leader who conveyed to me a message from his leader saying that if I was prepared to allow the honorable member for East Sydney an extension of ten minutes’ time he would magnanimously allow the deputy leader of the corner party to speak for 40 minutes. I know of no more dastardly disarrangement of affairs than that which has taken place this evening.
– Do not be a hypocrite. The Vice-President of the Executive Council wanted to let Keon in.
– The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) does not know what he is talking about. All that he does is blabber, blabber, blabberacross the table. If he will only listen,hewill possibly understand.I only want to say that, quiteobviously, the Leader of theOpposition is so completely distracted with what the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) may have to reveal in thisHouse that he is absolutely physically afraid to allow the honorable member to address this honorable House in this debate. He, for two solid hours, stated a case to this House, making charges and innuendos, and attacking everybody that he could possibly attack and then, because he has to face the music, he cringingly departs from arrangements made in this matter and refuses to allow the deputy leader of the corner party his just due. I do not propose to allow the right honorable member to get out of this. I will divide the House on it so that we may see where he stands, and therefore I move -
That the question be now put.
– You must hear me. Those are deliberate lies. You are the biggest liar in this place.
– Get out, you rotter. You make charges and give no opportunity for reply.
– I have aright to be heard.
Mr.McEwen. - You have a right to observe your given word.
– Order ! No question will be stated from the Chair until honorable members listen.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison), in the speech which he made a few minutes ago-
– I moved that the question be now put.
– I have a right to make a personal explanation.
– Order ! The right honorable gentleman can make hispersonal explanation after the division.
Question put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. C.F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That Standing Order 92 be suspended to enable the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) to speak for a period not exceeding one hour.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 21
Leader of the Opposition will have two hours, then there will be somebody from our side for twenty minutes, and there will be somebody from the corner group for twenty minutes “. I think the Leader of the House will agree with me that that is the story completely up to date.
Leader of the Opposition and members of the Opposition will not agree to the honorable member for Yarra having an hour in which to talk”. That is the truth, as I stand on this spot.
– I have to make the position demonstrably clear to every honorable member of this House. I do not like people saying to me that I have broken an agreement. I have- never broken one agreement yet while this arrangement has lasted. It is most unfortunate that, in the dying hours of the twenty-first Parliament, we should have this altercation.
– I want to make a personal explanation because I have been grossly misrepresented by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. In the light of his repudiation now, I should retail the whole of the conversation between him and myself, but I shall not so. And he knows that there is a very good reason why I shall not do that. It was only while the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) was speaking that I was made aware by the honorable member for Melbourne that his leader would not agree to the allotment of one hour to the honorable member for Yarra. Behind the Speaker’s chair, the honorable member for Melbourne told me that his leader would not agree to that extension of time. I then told him .what I thought of a person who would break an agreement such as had been made, and I am afraid that I spoke in terms that were rather unparliamentary. The honorable member for Melbourne states that I originally promised unlimited time for his leader. That has been the matter of argument between the honorable member and myself ever since the report of the royal commission came up for debate. I told the honorable member that I would move that the Standing Orders be suspended for the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), but I did not mention any time, because no time had been agreed upon. I was informed by the honorable member for Melbourne that the Leader of the Opposition wanted four hours. I then told him that I would not give the right honorable gentleman four hours, but that I would give him two hours. The honorable member for Melbourne said that the Leader of the Opposition could not state his case in two hours. I told him that that was all I could possibly allow the Leader of the Opposition, and that the right honorable gentleman ought to be able to state his case in that time. I informed the honorable member also that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) would speak for only one hour and a quarter, and the honorable member said, “I will not allow him to do that. He must take two hours, the same time as the Leader of the Opposition takes. I will move an amendment if necessary”. The time of the honorable member for Yarra did not come into question until the honorable member for East Sydney was speaking, when the honorable member for Melbourne told me that he would not agree to the extension of time for the honorable member for Yarra. Now I understand why. The honorable member for Melbourne was anxious to drive a bargain with me to get the honorable member for East Sydney an additional ten minutes. He said, “ Give the honorable member for East Sydney a ten minutes’ extension of time. My leader wishes that, and he will allow the honorable member for Yarra to speak for 40 minutes “. The Leader of the Opposition would allow the honorable member for Yarra to speak for 40 minutes 1 What great charity lies in the right honorable gentleman’s hands! I refused the request of the honorable member for Melbourne and pointed out to him that I could not trust his word because he would break it five minutes after he had given it.
.- I am not surprised at his attempt to prevent the members of the party in the corner from taking the time to which they are entitled in this debate. We are in this corner because of the attempts of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) to prevent us from expressing our views in the caucus of the Australian Labour party. Every one who sits behind him knows perfectly well that the split in the Australian Labour party was caused by the fact that-
– Order ! The honorable member may not debate that matter. He must confine his remarks to the report of the royal commission.
– We are in this corner because we were determined that the right honorable gentleman would not drag the name of the Australian Labour party, its traditions and its loyalty through the mire in his attempts to defend communism, Communists, traitors and treason. It is because we fought that attempt inside and outside the caucus that the split in the party occurred, and no one knows it better than does the right honorable gentleman. However, I do not propose to spend “the time available to me in discussing that aspect of the matter.
Let me turn now to what the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) said. He, of course, is more fortunate than is his leader. His leader must wait until the mail from Moscow comes in, but the honorable member for East Sydney has to wait only until the latest issue of ‘the Tribune comes out. We know perfectly well that every word that was spat out here this evening about the witnesses before the royal commission and the rest of it is in keeping ‘with what “has appeared in the Communist press over the weeks and is designed to distract the minds of “the people “from the danger in this community from the friends of the honorable member and his leader.
Mr. Ward interjecting,
– It is true that everything depended upon the credibility of the Petrovs and the authenticity of the Petrov documents. As the honorable member knows, a royal commission was .appointed to test the credibility of the Petrovs and tile authenticity of their documents. The royal commission had before it all the facts that the honorable member talks about. He knows perfectly well that, in the ‘Opening address of the commissioners, as in their report, emphasis “was placed upon the necessity for them to take all possible care to test the validity of the documents and the credibility of the statements of a man who, on his own word, had been spying .against Australia. In his opening address at the Albert Hall, in Canberra, Mr. Windeyer repeatedly emphasized the necessity for the commission to treat with the greatest caution and to test in every possible way every word that was said by Petrov, because of his past service with the M.V.D.
Again we are asked by the right honorable member for Barton and the honorable member for East Sydney to ignore the fact that the royal commission - a commission of three judges, who, despite what Opposition members say, stand unchallenged - has met and has found that, during the period for which the right honorable member for Barton was in charge of the Department of External Affairs, there was a very serious leakage of secret information to the enemies of Australia. Because my time is short, I cannot go as fully into that subject as I would desire. The commissioners found also that eight out of nineteen people who had been in contact with Clayton, the central figure in the spy-ring, were in ‘the department administered by -the right honorable member during the period for which he was Minister for ‘External Affairs. Is it .any wonder -that the right honorable member has attempted to discredit the royal commission -and to convince ‘the people of Australia, 3>y the -use of ‘every red herring that he can draw across the trail, that the royal commissioners should :be disbelieved .and their report ignored:? We .are asked to accept his word, that of the honorable member for East :Sydney and of every ‘Communist in Australia and, of course, that of friend Molotov, who himself was the Minister in charge of K.I., the espionage section of the Soviet Government, at the time these events were taking place. We are .asked to accept the word of the Minister in charge of Russian espionage rather than the findings of ,a royal commission appointed by this Parliament.
The right honorable member ‘for Barton and the honorable member for East Sydney know perfectly well that members who sit in this corner of the chamber are determined to prevent the name of the Australian Labour party being dragged through the mire by a defender of Communists and Communist causes. They know perfectly well what will be the answer of the people of Australia when they have a chance to indicate whether they support the traitors and those who would sell out Australia or whether they support good, decent Australians. I think I should emphasize that the royal commission found that espionage had taken place and that documents essential to Australia’s security had been handed over to the enemies of Australia. The commission found that those were facts, not only from the evidence of the Petrovs, but also, let me remind the honorable member for East Sydney, from other sources such as security reports and the examination of hundreds of witnesses, many of whom were never even mentioned in the Petrov letters but whose names were drawn out as a result of crossexamination of people to whom the commission was led by the Petrov letters. I think that the best way I can describe the result of the royal commission’s report is to quote from the report of the Canadian royal commission on an exactly similar state of affairs. The Canadian commission stated -
It is .merely to state cold fact to say that if the documents brought by Gouzenko-
The man who defected .in Canada - . . were found to bc authentic, there had been laid bare before us, not just the case Of a foreign agent having broken into a government department and committed theft, but a malignant growth, the full penetration of which we did not know, but which was alive and expanding, working in secret below ground, directed against Bie safety and interests of Canada by a foreign power and made up of Canadian citizens who, while giving lip allegiance to this country and the oaths of allegiance and secrecy they had taken, were in truth and in deed solely devoted to that foreign power, believing it to ‘be the supreme exponent of ideas to which they had given themselves as much as if they were its citizens, and not citizens of this country.
It was in defence of that malignant growth that the right honorable member for Barton has destroyed the Australian La~bour .party, wrecked its organization and turned it into a seething cauldron of hate. The one thing that annoys our Communist friends about the report of the “Royal Commission on Espionage is that it stated that many Communists and Communist sympathisers enabled the M.V.D. to obtain information and to do its work in Australia. That statement agitates the “honorable members who sit behind the right honorable member for Barton, and who are vocal. That is, the fact that the royal commission found that those who , had given away secrets essential to the defence of Australia were Communists and Communist sympathizers.
As the royal commission stated, unless there had been Communists in Australia, Soviet espionage in this country could have had no hope of success. The existence of Communists here was a factor that militated against our security. Keeping that in mind, let us now consider what our position would be if by any chance the right honorable member for Barton became the Prime Minister of this country after the next general election. If that happened we should hare a man ;as our Prime Minister who prefers the word of the man in charge of the Soviet espionage apparatus against the word of three reputable Australian judges. The whole career of the right honorable member for Barton has been notorious for the way in which, whenever any Communist or Communist cause has been in trouble, he has rushed to its defence. If I had an opportunity to do so I would read a long list of occasions when he has done that. A second point to remember is .that if the right honorable member fm Barton became Prime Minister his secretary for external affairs would be Dr. John Burton. Dr. Burton was the former secretary of the Department of External Affairs, and was appointed by the right honorable member for Barton over the heads of many senior public servants to that responsible post. But under Dr. Burton these leakages took place.
– Another lie. You are not fit to clean his boots.
– Order’! The Header of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) are continually interrupting the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon). They should remember that they both had an opportunity to address the House.
– The Royal Commission on Espionage outlined the serious position that had developed in the Department of External Affairs, when Communists were free to come and go at will.
– Smears and slander.
-Order ! Under Standing Order 303 J ask the
Leader of the Opposition to leave the chamber.
– I apologize for my interruption.
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition will not be required to leave the House as he has now apologized to the Chair.
– Dr. John Burton, the private secretary of the right honorable member fo’r Barton, and the man who was promoted by the right honorable gentleman over the heads of many senior public servants to be the head of the Department of External Affairs, held his position while Communists were able to come and go. Out of the nineteen people mentioned as being contacts, eight of them were in the Department of External Affairs. Despite the fact that the royal commission reported that it could find no evidence that Dr. Burton had given documents away, it is essential for us to look at the position in this country, and in the Department of External Affairs, during the time when he was secretary of the department. In his comment, which was issued on the report of the Royal Commission on Espionage in September of this year, Dr. Burton stated that he and his chief, the right honorable member for Barton, went to the then Prime Minister, Mr. Chifley, and complained that the Department of Defence was not giving defence secrets to the Department of External Affairs. Dr. Burton wrote -
External Affairs advised Defence it would pass to Defence Intelligence Services any information relevant to defence, and expected as a matter of course that Defence would pass to External Affairs any information, secret or otherwise, regardless of source, relevant to foreign affairs.
Here we had Dr. Burton and the right honorable member for Barton approaching the then Prime Minister and demanding that a department which was riddled with Communists, and which was havingits documents handed out to the M.V.D. almost wholesale, should have defence secrets made available to it. What a beautiful picture that is! It is not to be wondered at, however, if we consider the views and the record of the right honorable member for Barton, and how that stands in relation to the interests of Australia. In 1952, when the forces of the United Nations were fighting against Chinese Communist aggression, Dr. Burton went behind the Communist lines.
– I direct your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to the behaviour of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) in speaking into the microphone at the table while the honorable member for Yarra is addressing the House.
– Order ! The Leader of the Opposition is well aware that he should not speak into the microphone.
– I was not speaking into the microphone ; I answered a question in regard to another matter.
– Honorable members are told that I am smearing Dr. Burton, but I have quoted his own statements. I shall now quote a further statement by Dr. Burton, which issued from his attendance at the Peking peace conference as a co-delegate of Ernie Thornton, the notorious Communist and ex-boss of the Federated Ironworkers Association. In this statement which was signed by John Burton and Thornton and by almost every Communist leader of every Asian nation under Communist control at a time when Australians were being killed by Communist forces, Dr. Burton and the other signatories stated that the Chinese Communist guerrillas were Valiant fighters in the cause of peace. That was notwithstanding the fact that at that time these same guerrillas were murdering men, women and children. That is a view of Dr. Burton, who, if the right honorable member for Barton ever becomes Prime Minister of this country, will, undoubtedly, in. view of his collaboration in the right honorable member’s speeches and propaganda, resume his position as secretary of the Department of External Affairs. The people can have the right honorable member as Prime Minister if they want him,. but they cannot take him unless they also take Dr. Burton as secretary of the Department of External Affairs, and as the grey eminence behind the throne of the right honorable member.
– The honorable member for East Sydney is talking about dragging in the sectarian smear against the Communists. He is now adopting the attitude that is adopted in caucus and everywhere else. That has been the sole weapon of our opponents, and the right honorable member for Barton knew that he had no chance of saving himself unless he did a thing that no decent Australian would ever do, that is launch a sectarian war.
Honorable members interjecting ,
– Order ! The House will come to order or I shall name certain honorable members.
– Not only did Dr. Burton go behind the lines when Australians were fighting, and issue his declaration to the effect that the Communist guerrillas in Malaya were valiant fighters for peace, but his activities fall into a recognizable pattern when one reads his publication of 1954, which is called a realistic approach to foreign affairs. In that he makes it clear that it would be the duty of any Australian who disagreed with the policies being followed by the Government in time of international conflict, to sabotage the efforts of the Government and to work in accordance with Dr. Burton’s own views. Since his views are Communist views, we have him making an open declaration that as far as he is concerned, if this country should get into difficulties or if there should be a war with Communist forces, it would be the duty of Australians to sabotage the efforts of their Government and. to carry out their own ideas. That is no smear; it is a statement of Dr. Burton’s admitted policy.
– Why does not the honorable member read it all ?
– I would read much more than I have if I had the time to do so.
– Who wrote the book which the . honorable member has mentioned ?
– It was written by Dr. John Burton and its title is The Alternative. Let us turn to another gentleman who will be occupying a room in the Prime Minister’s suite in the event of victory by the right honorable gentleman at the next election. That is Mr. Dalziel, another member of his personal staff. Again, I do not propose to quote my view of Mr. Dalziel. I do not propose to quote the view of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who, on returning from a trip overseas, made a statement to me, and to almost every other member of this Parliament, including, I think, the Prime Minister himself, and perhaps also to the security service, that when he went overseas he was contacted at almost every point by Communist contacts, and that he was quite convinced that these Communist contacts had been “ sooled “ on to him by the staff of the right honorable member for Barton. That is not just a private conversation told to me. There are twenty honorable members, sitting on the Government side who can confirm the fact, and there are likewise probably as many on the Opposition side. Not only did he tell us that himself, but he also said that so alarmedwas he with the position in relation to Communists on the staff of the right honorable member for Barton that he had been to see the Prime Minister about it. Whether or not that is so, I do not know. However, I shall not quote the honorable member for Fremantle. I shall quote Mr. Alan Dalziel’s own words in relation to his views. What are his views? Before the royal commission he admitted writing a letter to this effect - ‘
It is to Russia the people look for a practical example of what can be accomplished in a system differing from ours. What better way could the Government show their sincerity than to implement social action now, using Russian principles as a basis.
They are the views of Mr. Dalziel, the gentleman who would be second in charge in the Prime Minister’s Department, in the event of the right honorable member for Barton reaching that high office. Again I emphasize that these are not facts dependent upon the Petrovs; they are not dependent upon Bialoguski; they are not even dependent upon me. They are admissions made before the royal commission by the gentleman himself, and if anybody talks about smears in the face of that, obviously he is only trying to distract attention from the facts. Little wonder that four out of the five members of the personal staff of the right honorable gentleman were found to be worthy of study by the
M.V.D. in its reports to Moscow. Little wonder that the only member of the right honorable gentleman’s personal staff, apart from; the typists, of course, not mentioned in the royal commission’s report was Mr. Byrne, whom he inherited from Mr.. Chifley.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) be granted an extension of time.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr.c.F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Let us have a look at the next member of this fascinating retinue that will be on the Government side after the next general election, if the right, honorable member for Barton should win. There is Mr. Albert Grundeman who, according to his own admissionsbefore the commission - not according to me or to Petrov - was a self-confessed drinking partner of Canberra Communists while he stayed with them and a companion in Canberra of the Communist Lockwood while he was writing document J - a farrago of filth and falsities to which frequent reference has been made. No doubt Grundeman would be able to spare time from the Prime Minister’s office to sup an occasional beer with Lockwood when he visits Canberra again.
Another of the five is, the only one who, so far, has been disowned. He is Fergan O’Sullivan, who was the press secretary of the Prime Minister and also the drinking companion of Communists while they were compiling the vicious document H.
That is the choice that Australians have to make at the next general election. Because we of the Anti-Communist Labour party refused to make such a choice; because, in the light of what the honorable member for Fremantle said, we declined to support without criticism the right honorable member for Barton’s conduct when he appeared before the commission without consulting the Australian Labour party, and contrary to the wishes of the great majority of its members, we had to be destroyed. Not only did we put up that fight but the Victorian central executive, of which the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) and the honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters) were members, also had something to say with regard to the allegations of the right honorable member for Barton. I have here the text of a resolution, one paragraph of which was prepared by the honorable member for Burke. In it, reference was made to the newspaper attack by the right honorable member for Barton on the Victorian Labour party, and this statement was made -
The attack appears to be motivated by Dr. Evatt’s difficulties before the Royal Commission on Espionage.
I repeat that this statement was made on behalf of the Victorian branch of the Labour party, including the honorable member for Bendigo, the honorable member for Burke, the Premier of Victoria of that day, Mr. Cain, and the secretary of the Australian Council of Trades
Unions, because they were all members of the executive that passed this resolution. It stated also -
Victorian Labour considers that it should not be made the victim of a diversionarytactic designed to provide scapegoats for a situation for which the party is not responsible and, indeed, in connexion with which the party was not in any way consulted.
That was the view of the united Victorian executive. Then the statement contained this paragraph, which was placed in it by the honorable member for Burke. I assisted in the drafting of it with Mr. Lovegrove, who to-day is the friend, of the right honorable member for Barton.
Months before the Petrov disclosure, a federal Labour parliamentarian from another State made certain allegations concerning Dr. Evatt’s staff.
I have mentioned them. The statement continued -
These allegation were known to members of the federal Labour caucus and Dr. Evatt.
That paragraph was put in by the honorable member for Burke, who insisted that the statements of the honorable member for Fremantle should be placed on record. The statement by the Victorian Labour party continued -
Following the Petrov disclosures, the federal parliamentary Labour party supported the appointment of a Royal Commission on Espionage, and has not since sought any alteration of the commission.
The Victorian Labour party believes that evidence before the Royal Commission on Espionage has disclosed a conspiracy against Australia, and that the persons who entered this conspiracy should be exposed and dealt with according to the law.
That, was the view of the members of the central executive of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour party before the right honorable member for Barton entered that State with his peace campaign. Like every other Communist peace campaign, it destroyed all opposition before him. We took our stand in the caucus - I emphasized that again and again - where we were entitled to take our stand. We - put forward our suspicions regarding the right honorable member for
Barton and his association with the Communists, just as many other people have had suspicions in that connexion. The royal commission confirmed those suspicions. When he attempted to drag down the name, the honour and decency for which the Australian Labour party has stood in the past, in defence of this malignant growth; when he attempted to drag in the name, not only of himself, but also of his party, in defence of those people who came before the royal commission; when he defended the Sharkeys and the Lockwoods, we attempted to check him by criticism in the caucus. It was because of that criticism, and because the right honorable gentleman knew that the interim report of the commission would expose his attempt to support the Communists, that he launched an attack upon honorable members on this side of the chamber. That has resulted in the split in the Australian Labour party. I regret it as my colleagues do. Some of our members were born and bred in the Labour party, and so were their fathers and grandfathers. The Australian Labour party was as Australian as the soil we stand upon. I regret to say that the leader of the party - or of the section that still follows him - went into the Parliament and into the courts to fight - for what?For the Australian people? For the welfare of the Australian workers? For the interests of the ordinary, decent Australian family? No. The right honorable gentleman came into this place to take his stand with the Lockwoods and those of that ilk, with the people who are traitors to this country, with the people who, because of their belief in the Communist ideal and because of their belief in the Communist tyranny, would be prepared to destroy Australia and everything for which the Australian Labour party has ever stood.
I repeat that I regret that the Labour party should have been split over this issue. There was no necessity for the Labour party to be split. There was no necessity for any trouble to occur. We believe that the Australian Labour party will survive the right honorable gentleman and those who support him to-day. In the hearts of the great bulk of its supporters there is no place for the treason for which he stands. The great heart of the bulk of the Australian people who support the Australian Labour party, and who will support this party at the next elections, is true to Australia, and will remain so. I say; in conclusion, that those who stand behind the right honorable member for Barton must take the responsibility for the stand that he has taken. When they go to the polls, they will be unable to avoid responsibility for the policies that he has pursued. They must take on their shoulders the blame for the effort that he has made to defend and protect Communists and communism in Australia.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Drummond) adjourned.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I desire to raise an important matter-
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That the question he now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. C. F. Adermann).
Majority . , . . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.27 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has furnished the following replies : -
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions : -
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The following answers have been provided by the Minister for National Development: -
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has furnished the following replies : -
s. - On the 11th October, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson) asked the following question : -
Is it a fact that, following the Tariff Board’s adverse report on the production of asbestos at Wittenoom Gorge, in Western Australia, the Western Australian Government, in order to save the industry, has agreed to provide a subsidy of £5 a short ton and has appealed to the Australian Government to provide a like amount? If so, will this Government, without delay, give an assurance that the subsidy of £5 a short ton made available by the Western Australian Government will be met on a £l-for-£l basis by the Australian Government to assist in saving one of the most important towns on the north-western coast of Western Australia ?
I have received a communication from the Premier of Western Australia indicating that his government proposes to assist the industry by way of subsidy. The Premier has asked the Commonwealth to make a similar contribution. Honorable members will recall that recently the Tariff Board, after a thorough investigation of the industry, found that there was no justification for providing tariff protection or subsidy and accordingly recommended that no assistance be granted. Nevertheless, the present request from the Western Australian Government will receive full consideration.
Papua and New Guinea.
e asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General -
– The Attorney-General has supplied the following answer to the honorable member’s questions : -
To give legal opinion in answer to questions is not in accordance with the Standing Orders. I would add however, that, in the present state of the authorities, the matters raised by the honorable member’s questions are in any case not altogether susceptible of categorical answer. The subject is only in part within my own administration, but I repeat the assurance given to the honorable member, in an answer to another question by him recently, that the matter is receiving consideration.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
I, 2 and 3. The arbitration case between the Commonwealth Engineering Company and the Hartnett Motor Company is proceeding according to law under the New South Wales =Arbitratration Act 1902, and it would be inappropriate for me to make any statements on the matter.
s asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
r asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has furnished the following replies: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 October 1955, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1955/19551025_reps_21_hor8/>.