22nd Parliament · 1st Session
The House met at 10.30 a.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
The Usher of the Black Bod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that the Deputy of the Governor-General for the Opening of the Parliament requested the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith.
Honorable members attended accordingly, and, having returned,
The Deputy authorized by the Governor-General to administer the oath or affirmation entered the chamber.
The Clerk read the commission, under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth, authorizing the Honorable Sir Wilfred Kelsham Fullagar, K.B.E., a Justice of the High Court of Australia, to administer the oath or affirmation of allegiance to the Queen required by the Constitution to be taken or made by members of the House of Representatives.
– I lay on the table returns to 124 writs for the election of members of the House of Representatives, held on the 10th December, 1955.
The following honorable members, with the exception of Mr. Frederick Michael Daly, Mr. William Davies, Mr. Peter Howson and the Right Honorable Robert Gordon Menzies, who were not present, made and subscribed the oath or affirmation of allegiance: -
Adermann, Charles Frederick, Fisher, Queensland.
Allan, Archibald Ian, Gwydir, New South Wales.
Anderson, CharlesGroves Wright, Hume, New South Wales.
Anthony, Hubert Lawrence, Richmond, New South Wales.
Aston, William John, Phillip, New South Wales.
Barnard, Lance Herbert, Bass, Tasmania.
Bate, Henry Jefferson, Macarthur, New South Wales.
Beale, Howard, Parramatta. New
Beazley, Kim Edward, Fremantle. Western Australia.
Bird, Alan Charles, Batman, Victoria.
Bland, Francis Armand, Warringah, New South Wales.
Bostock, William Dowling, Indi, Victoria.
Bowden, George James, Gippsland, Victoria.
Brand, William Alfred, Wide Bay, Queensland.
Brimblecombe, Wilfred John, Maranoa, Queensland.
Bruce, Henry Adam, Leichhardt, Queensland.
Bryant, Gordon Munro, Wills, Victoria.
Buchanan, Alexander Andrew, McMillan, Victoria.
Cairns, James Ford, Yarra, Victoria.
Calwell, Arthur Augustus, Melbourne, Victoria.
Cameron, Archie Galbraith, Barker, South Australia.
Cameron, Clyde Robert, Hindmarsh, South Australia.
Cameron, Donald Alastair, Oxley,
Queensland. Casey, Richard Gardiner, La Trobe, Victoria.
Chambers, Cyril, Adelaide. South Australia.
Chaney, Frederick Charles, Perth, Western Australia.
Clarey, Percy James, Bendigo, Victoria.
Clark, Joseph James, Darling, New South Wales.
Cleaver, Richard, Swan, Western Australia.
Cope, James Francis. Watson, New South Wales.
Costa, Dominic Eric, Banks, New South Wales.
Coutts, Wilfred Charles. Griffith, Queensland.
Cramer, John Oscar, Bennelong, New South Wales.
Crean, Frank, Melbourne Ports, Victoria.
Curtin, Daniel James, KingsfordSmith, New South Wales.
Daly, Frederick Michael, Grayndler, New South Wales.
Davidson, Charles William, Dawson, Queensland.
Davies, William, Cunningham, New South Wales.
Davis, Francis John, Deakin, Victoria.
Dean, Roger Levinge, Robertson, New South Wales.
Downer, Alexander Russell. Angas, South Australia.
Drummond, David Henry, New England, New South Wales.
Drury, Edward Nigel, Ryan, Queensland.
Duthie, Gilbert William Arthur, Wilmot, Tasmania.
Edmonds, William Frederick, Herbert, Queensland.
Erwin, George Dudley, Ballarat, Victoria.
Evatt, Herbert Vere, Barton, New South Wales.
Fadden, Arthur William, McPherson, Queensland.
Failes, Laurence John, Lawson, New South Wales.
Fairbairn, David Eric, Farrer, New South Wales.
Fairhall, Allen, Paterson, New South Wales.
Falkinder, Charles William Jackson, Franklin, Tasmania.
Fox, Edmund Maxwell Cameron, Henty, Victoria.
Fraser, Allan Duncan, Eden-Monaro. New South Wales.
Fraser, James Reay, Australian Capital Territory.
Fraser, John Malcolm, Wannon, Victoria.
Freeth, Gordon, Forrest, Western Australia.
Galvin, Patrick, Kingston, South Australia.
Graham, Bruce William, St. George, New South Wales.
Griffiths, Charles Edward, Shortland, New South Wales.
Hamilton, Leonard William, Canning, Western Australia.
Harrison, Eli James, Blaxland, New South Wales.
Harrison, Eric John, Wentworth, New South Wales.
Hasluck, Paul Meernaa Caedwalla, Curtin, Western Australia.
Haworth, William Crawford, Isaacs, Victoria.
Haylen, Leslie Clement, Parkes, New South Wales.
Holt, Harold Edward, Higgins, Victoria.
Holt,Robert Wilfred, Darebin, Victoria.
Howse, John Brooke, Calare, New South Wales.
Howson, Peter, Fawkner, Victoria.
Hulme, Alan Shallcross, Petrie, Queensland.
Jack, William Mathers, North Sydney, New South Wales.
James, Rowland, Hunter, New South Wales.
Johnson, Herbert Victor, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.
Johnson, Leslie Royston, Hughes, New South Wales.
Joske, Percy Ernest, Balaclava. Victoria
Kent Hughes, Wilfred Selwyn, Chisholm, Victoria.
Killen, Denis James, Moreton, Queensland.
Lawrence, William Robert, Wimmera. Victoria.
Lawson, George, Brisbane, Queensland.
Leslie, Hugh Alan, Moore, Western Australia.
Lindsay, Robert William Ludovic, Flinders, Victoria.
Luchetti, Anthony Sylvester, Macquarie, New South Wales.
Luck, Aubrey William George, Braddon, Tasmania.
Lucock, Philip Ernest, Lyne, New South Wales.
Mackinnon, Ewen Daniel, Corangamite, Victoria.
Makin, Norman John Oswald, Bonython, South Australia.
McBride, Philip Albert Martin, Wakefield, South Australia.
McColm, Malcolm Llewellyn, Bowman, Queensland.
McE wen, John, Murray, Victoria.
McIvor, Hector James, Gellibrand, Victoria.
McLeay, John, Boothby, South Australia.
McMahon, William, Lowe, New South Wales.
Menzies, Robert Gordon, Kooyong, Victoria.
Minogue, Daniel, West Sydney, New South Wales.
Morgan, Charles Albert Aaron, Reid, New South Wales.
Nelson, John Norman, Northern Territory.
O’Connor, William Paul, Dalley, New South Wales.
Opperman, Hubert Ferdinand, Corio, Victoria.
Osborne, Frederick Meares, Evans, New South Wales.
Page, Earle Christmas Grafton, Cowper, New South Wales.
Pearce, Henry George, Capricornia, Queensland.
Peters, Edward William, Scullin, Victoria.
Pollard, Reginald Thomas, Lalor, Victoria.
Riordan, William James Frederick, Kennedy, Queensland.
Roberton, Hugh Stevenson, Riverina, New South Wales.
Russell, Edgar Hughes Deg, Grey, South Australia.
Snedden, Billy Mackie, Bruce, Victoria.
Stewart, Francis Eugene, Lang,New South Wales.
Stokes, Philip William Clifford, Maribyrnong, Victoria.
Swartz, Reginald William Colin, Darling Downs, Queensland.
Thompson, Albert Victor, Port Adelaide, South Australia.
Timson, Thomas Frank, Higinbotham, Victoria.
Townley, Athol Gordon, Denison, Tasmania.
Turnbull, Winton George, Mallee, Victoria.
Turner, Henry Basil, Bradfield, New South Wales.
Ward, Edward John, East Sydney, New South Wales.
Watkins, David Oliver, Newcastle, New South Wales.
Webb, Charles Harry, Stirling, Western Australia.
Wentworth, William Charles, Mackellar, New South Wales.
Wheeler, Roy Crawford, Mitchell, New South Wales.
Whitlam, Edward Gough, Werriwa, New South Wales.
Wight, Bruce McDonald, Lilley, Queensland.
Wilson, Keith Cameron, Sturt, South Australia.
– I move-
That the honorable member for Barker (Mr.
Archie Cameron) do take the chair of this House as Speaker.
– I second the motion.
– I accept nomination.
– I move -
That the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) do take the chair of this House as Speaker.
– I second the motion.
– I am deeply sensible of the great honour that has been conferred upon me by this nomination. I submit myself to the will of the House.
The time for further proposals having expired,
– I do not propose to speak at any great length on this matter. That remark, at least, will be received with unanimous agreement. I wish to refer very briefly, mainly for the benefit of the newer and junior members of the House, to the special qualifications of Mr. Makin for the vital post of chairman - because that is what it is - of this assembly. Mr. Makin has been Speaker of the House of Representatives in the past. He occupied the chair with universal acclaim for a period of more than two years. He was elected as the first President of the Security Council of the United Nations organization, and he presided over its deliberations during one of the most critical periods of the history of the United Nations when the peace of the world was threatened. The success of the Security Council in those early days of 1946 was due in a large measure to the discretion, patience and sagacity of Mr. Norman Makin, a very great Australian.
As honorable members, and especially senior honorable members, know, he was a Commonwealth Minister of State during the critical war years, and subsequently filled with distinction the great post of Australian Ambassador to the United States of America. In addition, his record in the last Parliament is known to honorable members. He has been chairman of many voluntary bodies such as the United Nations Association in South Australia. I submit that, to a very high degree, he has the required qualifications to preside over this chamber at a time when the Chair will play an important part in the revival of the House of Representatives.
I ask for the indulgence of the House while I read two or three sentences from a leading authority on the qualifications needed for the Speakership of the House of Commons, to which office the Speakership of this House corresponds. I quote the following passage : -
What are the qualities, then, which made a successful President of the representative chamber ?
That refers to the House of Commons. The quotation continues - “ Go and assemble yourselves together, and elect one, a discreet, wise, and learnedman, to be your Speaker.” Such were the words a Lord Chancellor in the reign of Elizabeth addressed to a new House of Commons-
And they might well be applied in this reign of the second Elizabeth. The statement continues -
The order in which the qualities deemed essential for the Speaker are arranged is not without its significance. Discretion comes first. It might be given the second place and the third place also. . . . But undoubtedly in the twentieth century, as in the sixteenth, the faculty which is of the highest importance in the art of the Speakership is sagacity, prudence, circumspection - making allowances for the weaknesses and eccentricities of human nature.
Mr. Makin, in the offices he has held, has displayed such, qualities to a marked degree. With the greatest respect to the other contender for this great office, I ask the House to apply those principles by electing Mr. Makin as its Speaker, because of his success in- the great offices to which I have referred.
– The honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) has been one of the best Speakers of the House of Representatives in the history of the Commonwealth. The objection - and it is a real objection - of the Opposition to the other nominee, and I do not need ignorant guffaws from Government members, at this stage anyhow, to assist me or to interrupt me. The honorable member for Barker has occupied the chair of this House for six years. We have no personal objection to him. We certainly feel for him because of his recent illness. But we are electing a Speaker, and we have a right to say whether the Speaker whom the Government proposes to foist upon this chamber once more is a man possessed of the qualities that a Speaker ought to have. A Speaker ought to be fair; he ought to be just; he ought, at least, to try to attain to the attributes and the standard of the Speaker of the British House of Commons, and deal fairly with honorable members on both sides of the House. If we look at his record - a disgraceful record of partiality - we will find that, under his administration, many members on this side of the House have been expelled from the chamber for trivial reasons, having been named unfairly and unjustly, and that not one Government member, at any period of the six years that the honorable member for Barker has been in the chair, has been dealt with at all. Not one Government supporter has been named. As a matter of fact, the Speaker, on occasions, has seemed, at any rate, to organize interruption from the Government benches when Labour men are speaking. He certainly does not rebuke Government members. He does not try to keep the irrepressible Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) in order. He does not try to insist that that right honorable gentleman shall display a little dignity in this chamber.
Sir Eric Harrison interjecting,
– He lets him behave as he is behaving now, and his behaviour already is typical of what it will be during the whole of the life of the Parliament. In those circumstances, how can the Opposition be expected to agree to the re-appointment of the honorable member for Barker as Speaker. I do not think he can mend his ways. I think he is too old, and too ingrained in his prejudices, to do so. He is too biased a Liberal or Australian Country party member, or whatever he is - I do not know, nor does anybody else in this chamber - and over the years he has behaved with certain extraordinary temperamental feeling over matters which perhaps did not affect him, himself, at the time. For instance, he has an aversion to the honorable member for
East Sydney (Mr. Ward). As the VicePresident of the Executive Council says, he is not on his own in that regard. So the Speaker does what he thinks the VicePresident of the Executive Council want3 him to do, lest he lose the appointment to the speakership when it again becomes vacant.
On one occasion, the honorable member for East Sydney was named, because when speaking to a certain motion he accused the Speaker of -having selected a motion which he said - and these were something like his words - the Speaker and every other member of the House knew was couched in terms that were false. He was not asked to withdraw* He was immediately named. Let theVicePresident of the Executive Council behave, in the coming session, as badly as he generally does, and he will neither be named nor be advised to keepquiet.
There was another occasion when tha honorable member for East Sydney disputed something with the Chair and the Speaker - the impartial Speaker, the just Speaker ! - interrupted him thirteen times in three minutes. When the honorable member for East Sydney withdrew his last objection and asked the Chair not to interrupt him further, he was told to sit down. That does not happen in respect of members on the Government benches.
We hope that the honorable member for Barker will soon be restored to good health. We hope also that if he is reelected to the Chair he will behave with more fairness in the future than he has done in the past. We hope that he will at least try to maintain the dignity of his position, that he has not, in our view, exhibited in the last six years. By comparison with the honorable member for Bonython he is just not a Speaker at all, and if I had to make a comparison in another way I would say that honorable gentlemen in this House, in choosing between the two gentlemen, will vote either for the Triton from Bonython or the Minnow from Barker.
Speaker must always be assessed by comparison. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has sought to draw a comparison between the nominee from this side of the House, a man of proved ability, and somebody who long since has forgotten in other places the procedure of this House. But I should like to go back to more recent times, when the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) was not a member of thi3 House. He was savouring pastures green on the other side of the Atlantic. On that occasion, we were afflicted in this country with a Labour government. I well remember - because my memory goes back a long, long while - a Speaker who, in the chair, represented, not the House, but the Labour party. That Speaker, who, I think, was the instigator of a certain line, of procedure in this House that was referred to as Rafferty’s rules, established a new standard of chair work in this place.
In due time, he was replaced by a Deputy Speaker. That Deputy Speaker distinguished himself in such a fashion that we on the Opposition side at that time had to submit against him a motion which, I think, contained every form of stricture that could be found in the English language. The then Government was so certain that we were right, and that we would win, that it kept that motion on the notice-paper for six solid months so as to make the Deputy Speaker see the error of his ways and in order to make his own party realize the enormity of the offence.
All that I want to say with regard to the choice that we have made is that we have selected from this side of the House a man who has proven his ability. . He has proven his knowledge of procedural matters. He has proved that he is completely unbiased. As Mr. Speaker, he has represented, not a political party, but this House. As such, he is unique as Speaker, compared with Labour Speakers. I should just like to say this : that on our side of the House we have looked with great respect on the Chair. Although, sometimes, we disagree with his ruling, we believe that the honorable member for Barker, as the Speaker, has restored to this chamber the dignity that it had lost because of the previous occupant of the chair when Labour was in office. The House then became a rabble. It is now an organized House. It is a House with dignity. It is a House that can despatch its business with dignity and decorum. Because of the great record that was established under the speakership of the honorable member for Barker on the last occasion, we wish to see a continuation of those circumstances and, therefore, we present him to the House and ask for its support.
– The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) might well consider withdrawing his acceptance of the offer of the speakership, after having heard the speech of his champion, the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) because I do not suppose that any man has ever been supported for the Chair in such faint terms of praise as have just been accorded to the honorable member for Barker. What was the method by which the VicePresident of the Executive Council, who is Leader of the House, attempted to persuade the House, once again, to place this man in the chair ? His method was, first, to say that there had been other and worse occupants of the chair than the honorable member for Barker. That, surely, is a very poor method indeed. But we know, of course, that the Leader of the House could not speak in higher terms because he himself has been one of the most frank critics of the way in which the honorable member for Barker has conducted himself in the chair of the House. Therefore, being unable to say words of praise and commendation - he did, in the end, manage to put in a few words of that character - he devoted himself to saying, “ Elect the honorable member for Barker because I can tell you that in the past we have had men who were even worse “.
I did not think it was very fitting of the Vice-President to make some vague accusation - it was very vague indeed - against a man who was once Speaker of this House and who is now dead. I do not think that was fitting or proper, nor do I think that it added to the weight of his argument. If he had anything to say in condemnation of a former Speaker of this House who is now dead he should at least have made his charge specific. To make a vague accusation to which no reply could properly be made because no detail was given was not fitting. As a matter of fact, the man to whom he referred will be honoured and remembered by the people of Australia for his services to this House long after the Vice-President is no longer here.
Let us get back to the proper issue before the House. The issue before the House is the choice between two men. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has given us an excellent definition of the qualities that are required in a Speaker. With that definition every one of us will agree except, perhaps, the honorable member for Barker. But 1 think that he will be honest enough to admit that, whatever other qualities he possesses, he does not possess those which enable, a man to keep a House in order, to keep a House friendly with him, and to govern it with the acceptance of his control by the members of the House. That ability is essential to a Speaker and it is eminently possessed by the honorable member for Bonython. I saw him in action here for two years as Speaker of this House, and everyone who was in the House at that time - I was in the press gallery - or who had any association with the Parliament knew that the honorable member for Bonython kept this House in order because members respected his fairness. They respected his honesty, they respected his discretion, and they respected his impartiality. Since then he has indeed, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, added lustre to his name in the high offices that he has occupied, including the chairmanship of the Security Council of the United Nations and, in Australia, the chairmanship of the United Nations Association. All of us who have had anything to do with him since his return to the House know that he is almost ideally suited for the occupancy of the chair by the possession of those very attributes which are essential to the leadership of this House.
Finally, I would say that the reputation which this Parliament enjoys with the public of Australia depends very much upon the Speaker. When scenes which are discreditable to this House are broadcast over the air, the Speaker is very largely responsible, not perhaps, because of any deliberate action on his part, but because of his inability to control, lead and guide the House. Therefore, I think that the honorable member for Barker, who is a great parliamentarian in the sense that he has a respect for the parliamentary institution, ought to think twice before he accepts a position for which he is quite unfitted. I remember the occasion when the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) rose in his place at question-time and accused me of being an undercover Communist. He based his accusation on a reported statement that I had made. I rose to make a personal explanation.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– We are all on common ground on at least one important matter - that the office of Speaker is one of great authority and importance. Much of the effectiveness of this Parliament depends on the prestige of the speakership, and on the authority with which the Speaker discharges his office. I put it to all who are interested in this matter that we on this side of the House are fully conscious of the importance of the5 office and the need to appoint the best man available to the Parliament to that high post. It is with those considerations very much in our minds that we on this side of the House, including my colleagues of the corner benches who are seated directly in front of me, have proposed the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) as Speaker. We have selected him from the considerable body of talent that would have been available in this Parliament, should it have been necessary to turn to another candidate. We have done it with our minds well refreshed as to the work performed by the honorable member for Barker as Speaker of this Parliament. Lest there should be any doubt in the minds of honorable gentlemen on the Opposition benches. T want to say that we respect the honorable member for Barker. We regard him as a man of character, of capacity and of integrity, who has served this Parliament and this nation well in the office of Speaker. It does not follow that we have invariably agreed with the rulings that he has given. He would be a Solomon indeed who could sit in the Speaker’s chair, in the rugged and boisterous atmosphere that sometimes develops in this chamber, and invariably give rulings which commend themselves to every member of the House. I wonder how many of us think that we could have discharged that responsible duty with anything like the skill and capacity that the honorable member for Barker has shown during his term of office.
There are other aspects, and the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) has touched upon them. The Speaker of the House is not merely a chairman of the proceedings in this place. He is also the presiding officer who looks after the affairs of Parliament as an establishment. Any one who had experience of the decline suffered by this establishment of Parliament during the years which preceded the term of office of the honorable member for Barker will turn with gratitude to him for what he has done in restoring, not only dignity to this chamber, but also authority, discipline and good order in the precincts of the Parliament. Those also are matters of consequence to all of us. Recognizing the job that he has done in all those directions we have unhesitatingly presented* the honorable member for Barker to the Parliament, with full confidence that, in re-appointing him, the Parliament will have done a service to the country, and will have maintained in the highest order the prestige of this institution.
– I address my remarks to the nominations that have been made for the high and honorable post of Speaker of this House. I have served in this chamber under about four Speakers, and it has been my experience and that of my colleagues, and also that of members of the Government itself, that the honorable member for Barker has been the worst Speaker of the lot. I do not say that in a personal sense, because I think that the honorable member for Barker would agree that between him and me there is an affinity of characteristics in many respects. We are both rabid partisans. As members of our respective parties we have never pulled our punches when fighting on the floor of the House. I think that those remarks apply even more appropriately to the honorable member for Barker than they do to me, if that is possible. In contra-distinction to that, I ask honorable members to consider the candidate nominated by the Opposition. He is a man of judicial and mild temperament who, although a member of a political party, has been able to demonstrate, not only in this House over a long period of years, including a period as Speaker, but also in the United Nations, that he has the judicial and kindly outlook that is essential to a satisfactory handling of the business of this House. The honorable member for Barker has a bark like a regimental sergeant-major. He served in the war. He has all the characteristics of a man who enforces discipline almost at the point of a bayonet. People ought to be encouraged to take an interest in the Parliament of this country, but when unfortunate citizens have come into the gallery of this House from time to time and, through ignorance of the rules of procedure, have been reading a newspaper, or pencilling something, they have been “ barked at “ by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). Instead of sending a messenger to inform them in a kindly way that they were out of order and should cease to take notes or read newspapers, he has “ barked “ at them.
The honorable member for Barker is temperamentally unsuited for the position for which he has been nominated. He has no judicial temperament. He is a man of strong views. In his personal life, he is a* kindly soul, but in this Parliament he has demonstrated his bias, his prejudices and his partisanship in no uncertain manner. From time to time, I have been asked what I have got on the Speaker, because it has been alleged that, despite my rather crude behaviour on occasions, he has been over-kindly to me. But that does not deter me in my observations with respect to other honorable members of this House. Take the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), for instance. On one occasion the honorable member for Barker acted towards him in the utmost brutality, and without any show of impartiality or any of those judicial qualities the possession of which is so essential to a successful Speaker. He is no more fitted to occupy the chair of this House than I should be. After all, men are gifted by Divine Providence with certain qualities, with certain outstanding personal attributes. Just as one cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, so it is impossible to make a satisfactory Speaker out of a man who possesses all the characteristics of the honorable member for Barker.
I hope that the House will listen to my appeal and, in the circumstances, elect to the chair a man who has been gifted with the possession of all those kindly, judicial qualities that he has displayed so frequently in many fields of endeavour. If that is done we shall, in the future, sail in calm waters, in conditions of peace and contentment that are so desirable in this House. In this way, credit will be done to the country and to this Parliament, and the honorable member for Barker will be saved from himself. He will be able to take his place in the heat and burden of battle in this House and do a better job for the people of Australia in that capacity than he can possibly do in the chair.
– I should like to support, from this corner, the nomination of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) for the position of Speaker of this House. The office of Speaker has necessarily to be filled, in the first place, from a party point of view. That is to say, the party that has the majority vote in the House fills the office of Speaker. But that has not necessarily been so in the House of Commons. There, it has frequently happened that one party, upon taking office, has accepted the Speaker who was the nominee of the party that had previously been in office. To my knowledge, the Labour party there has supported a Conservative Speaker at one time, and at another time the Conservative party has supported a Labour Speaker. We do not follow exactly the same system as exists in the United Kingdom, but the point is that once a party nominee is appointed to the chair, he becomes the servant of the House and is expected to be as impartial as any human being can be inthe discharge of his duties.’
I submit that the honorable member for Barker has fulfilled that particular requirement, and I point out, as proof of his endeavour to be impartial and fair, that during the six years he has been the Speaker of this House, he has deliberately Temoved himself from all party affiliations. He has not attended party meetings. I think that in itself indicates that the honorable member for Barker has endeavoured to the best of his ability to discharge the duties of his office fairly.
The only complaint that I have against the honorable member, if there is a complaint, is that, perhaps, he has been too tolerant with the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has spent a great deal of time telling us all how the honorable member for East Sydney suffered at the hands of the honorable member for Barker during the term of the Twenty-first Parliament. I rather believe that Standing Order 303 might have been applied less sparingly than it was applied by the honorable member for Barker.
– It has been enforced against you, anyhow.
– Probably it will be enforced against me again. I have suffered from its enforcement very frequently in the past. The point I wish to make is that we who support the Government have selected as our nominee for the position of Speaker the honorable member whom we consider to be the ablest for the office - a man with an excellent knowledge of parliamentary procedure and the Standing Orders and with the ability to follow the procedure and enforce the Standing Orders. All those qualities are possessed in the highest degree by the honorable member for Barker.
– Mr. Clerk-
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided.
Majority . . . . 28
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The bells having been rung, and ballotpapers being distributed,
A ballot having been taken,
Members of the House then calling Mr. Archie Cameron to the chair, he was taken out of his place by Mr. Hulme and Mr. Bowden and conducted to the chair.
– I wish to convey to the House my sincere thanks for the honour which it has been pleased to confer upon me.
Mr. Speaker having seated himself in the chair,
– On behalf of the House I offer you, Mr. Speaker, our congratulations upon your appointment to the very high and honorable position of Speaker of this House. I take this opportunity also to assure you of all the co-operation and support that we can extend to you in the discharge of your very important duties.
Dr. EVATT (Barton- Leader of the Opposition). - On behalf of the Opposition I join in the congratulations to you, Mr. Speaker, in respect of your election to the great office which you now occupy again. You have been elected to that office by the democratic vote of the House. It was a vote, in fact, of the whole House, and your authority, of course, is exercised as a result of that vote. I can assure you that you will receive the very full co-operation of the Opposition in the discharge of your duties.
– I desire, in association with the Treasurer and the Leader of the Opposition, to offer my congratulations to you, Mr. Speaker, on your re-appointment to the Chair. I trust, sir, that during the occupancy of your office your health will be maintained, and that you will not suffer by reason of the stresses and strains that the office may bring upon you. We hope that what has been said this morning will be a cause of bringing new consideration on your part to members of the Opposition. Furthermore, we hope that it will help to preserve the dignity and decorum of this House, which are so anxiously desired by honorable members who seek to further the interests and the prestige of parliamentary government.
– T wish to convey my thanks to the Treasurer, the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Bonython, for their remarks. I hope that I shall always place the interests of the House above my own personal inclinations and interests. Perhaps it may not be out of place at this stage to say that just after 1 entered the Canberra Community Hospital as a patient last year, knowing the circumstances that existed in the House, I offered to certain senior members of this House, who are now present, to tender my resignation to the Governor-General so that the post of Speaker could be filled by some one who could occupy it in fact. But I was advised not to take that course. If any eventuality should arise which warranted the taking of that course in the future I think the House could rely upon me to know how to act.
During the recess I have seen a great deal of comment published in regard to the speakership. I had some amusement out o? it. Everything was provided, I think, by the commentators except the inscription on the tombstone. I will be here for some little time still, I hope.
After all, the physical complaint from which a person suffers, whether he be a private person or a member of this House, is his own personal affair. The interest displayed by some representatives of the press in getting into touch with the medical people who were looking after me during -my illness was most touching. But, after all, one’s diseases and complaints are his own personal property. If I had given my complaint to the Leader of the Opposition, I do not think that the Government would have charged gift duty on it. If I had died from it, it would have been the one item in my estate in respect of which the department which administers probate and succession duties would not have levied any toll. There are some things, even in respect of persons who are in public life, which, I think, ought to be kept private, and which should not be the subject of speculation in the press. After all, the press has an important function to fulfil, but, as I remarked in this House many years ago from the treasury-bench, it has given up the role of recording angel and has taken to itself that of false prophet, and has made rather a success of it.
– The newspapers never refer to the Labour party.
– Then I must read the newspapers in my sleep sometimes. At any rate, having made those remarks, I hope the House will settle down and that my overlordship, or whatever it is, of it, will not be so onerous that some of my friends on my left will find it necessary to resign.
I also wish to thank the House for its consideration during the time I was in hospital last year. Visits from many members of all parties have led me to suspect that some of the things said may not always be in accordance with the real feelings of those who say them. Thank yon.
Presentation to the GovernorGeneral.
Sir ARTHUR FADDEN (McPherson- Treasurer). - I have already ascertained that it will be the pleasure of His Excellency the Governor-General to receive you, Mr. Speaker, in the Library of the Parliament at 2.46 p.m. this day.
– Prior to my presentation to His Excellency this afternoon, the bells will be rung for three minutes so that those honorable members who so desire may accompany me to the Library, and there be presented to His Excellency.
Sitting suspended from 12.22 p.m. to 2.45 p.m.
The House proceeded to the Library, and, being re-assembled,
– I have to report that, accompanied by honorable members, I proceeded to the Library of the Parliament and presented myself to His Excellency the Governor-General as the choice of the House of Representatives, and that His Excellency had been kind enough to congratulate him upon his election.
– (Hon. Archie Cameron). I have received from His Excellency the Governor-General a commission authorizing me to administer to members of the House the oath, or affirmation of allegiance. I now lay the commission on the table.
Menzies, C.H., Q.C., made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as member for the Division of Kooyong, Victoria.
The Usher of the Black Rod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered a message that His Excellency the Governor-General desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith.
Mr. Speaker and honorable members attended accordingly and, having returned,
– I desire to announce to the House that it is proposed that the Sixth Menzies Ministry will be constituted as follows : -
Vice-President of the Executive Council; Leader of the House and Minister for Defence Production - The Right Honorable Sir Eric Harrison, K.C.V.O.
Minister for Trade - The Right Honorable John McEwen.
Minister for External Affairs and Minister-in-Charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization - The Right Honorable R. G. Casey, C.H., D.S.O., M.C.
Minister for Defence - The Honorable Sir Philip McBride, K.C.M.G.
Minister for the Navy and Leader of the Government in the Senate - Senator the Honorable Neil O’sullivan.
Attorney-General - Senator the Honorable J. A. Spicer, Q.C.
Minister for National Development - Senator the Honorable W. H. Spooner, M.M.
Minister for Repatriation - Senator the Honorable W. J. Cooper, M.B.E.
Minister for Primary Industry - The Honorable W. McMahon.
Minister for Shipping and Transport - Senator the Honorable Shane Paltridge.
Minister for the Army - The Honorable J. 0. Cramer.
Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works - The Honorable A. Fairhall.
In the Senate, Senator O’Sullivan will represent the Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence, and the Minister for Customs and Excise; Senator Spicer will represent the Minister for Labour and National Service, the Minister for Immigration, the Minister for External Affairs, the Minister-in-Charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Eesearch Organization, and the Minister for Territories; Senator Spooner will represent the Treasurer, the Minister for Trade, the Minister for Social Services, the Minister for the Army, and the Minister for Works ; Senator Cooper will represent the Minister for Supply, the Minister for Health, and the PostmasterGeneral; Senator Paltridge will represent the Minister for Defence Production, the Minister for Civil Aviation, the Minister for Air, the Minister for Primary Industry, and the Minister for the Interior.
In this chamber the Minister for the Navy will be represented by the Minister for Primary Production; the AttorneyGeneral will be represented by the Prime Minister; the Minister for National Development will be represented by the Minister for the Interior; the Minister for Repatriation will be represented by the Minister for Health ; and the Minister for Shipping and Transport will be represented by the Minister for Air and Minister for Civil Aviation.
Experience in the previous Government has amply demonstrated that the pressure of work on Ministers is increasing. I have therefore decided that the following arrangements should apply with regard to Cabinet and ministerial work.
In the first place Cabinet as such will consist of the first twelve Ministers whom I have named. The other Ministers will be co-opted to attend Cabinet meetings as required, but normally they will be left free to attend to other ministerial duties. Secondly, three new departments have been created out of re-organization of the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture and Trade and Customs. The new departments, as I have already indicated to the House, are the Department of Trade, the Department of Primary Industry, and the Department of Customs and Excise.
The net result of this change, insofar as it concerns the Ministry, would be the proposed addition of two Ministers, making a total of 22. As honorable members are aware, the Ministers of State Act at present provides for only twenty Ministers. Parliament will therefore be invited later this dayto consider an amendment to the Ministers of State Act in order to increase the number of Ministers to 22.
In the meantime, Sir Eric Harrison will be Minister for the Army and Mr. McMahon will be Minister for Social Services. Mr. Cramer and Mr. Roberton, who have already been sworn in as Executive Councillors, will be sworn in as Ministers immediately after the passing of this legislation, but until that time they do not, of course, possess the standing of Ministers. I am happy to say that, as in the past, the Vice-President of the Executive Council will, in addition to leading the House, continue to assist the Prime Minister.
– I have the honour to announce that I have been appointed Leader of the Opposition, and that my colleague, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has been chosen as Deputy Leader. I would like to say on behalf of the Opposition how pleased we are to see the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) back in the House after his illness.
– I have the pleasure and great honour of announcing that I have been appointed Leader of the Australian Country party, and that my colleague, the right honorable member for Murray (Mr. McEwen), has been appointed deputy leader.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That leavebe given to . bring in a bill for an act to amend the Bankruptcy Act 1924-1953.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S SPEECH. A DDRESS-IN-REP LY .
– (Hon. Archie Cameron). I have to announce that the- House this day attended His Excellency the Governor-General in the Senate chamber, where His Excellency was pleased to make a Speech to both Houses of the Parliament, of which I have received a copy. It will be included in Hansard for record purposes.
The Speech read as follows : -
You have been called together to deal with matters of national moment. The House of Representatives having been dissolved and a general election having occurred, the Twentysecond Parliament is now duly constituted.
The election has left my Government with a substantially larger majority in the House of Representatives but with a Senate in which the Government will by July not have a majority. This brings into sharp relief the very important constitutional problem of the relationship between the two Houses - the problem of producing a workable Parliament. The. present position is that any conflict between the two Houses can be resolved only by the slow, cumbrous and not very satisfactory procedure of a double dissolution such as occurred in 1951. My advisers believe that the relations between the two Houses should be reviewed, They are of opinion that a government requins a reasonable term of office and a reasonable period of stability in which it may give affect to its long-range plans for the nation. They will, therefore, propose the setting up of an all-party committee of both Houses to investigate the constitutional problems which may be referred to it. One of these problems is that of the Senate and its powers and the procedure to be followed in the event of a dispute between the two Houses. My advisers believe that such matters are not merely party matters ; they can readily affect any party at any time in the future; they can be solved only by securing some agreement between the parties upon the proper course to be followed. They are of opinion that should agreement be reachedby the suggested committee the electors may be more disposed to vote for any constitiitional amendment which would subsequently be submitted to the electors by referendum.
In the session of Parliament which I am now opening, there will be two important groups of matters which will call for consideration.
The first embraces foreign policy and the related defence measures which can make that policy effective.
The second can be described broadly as the economic problem. It has particular relation to internal development; the increase of production: restraint upon the rising costs of production which threaten to impair our international trading position: the encouragement of our exports; the control of our imports: the restoration of a sound balance of trade; the preservation and building up of our international financial reserves; and the protection of our currency.
My Government has constantly sought to make a contribution to international peace by the building up of friendship and mutual understanding with other nations.
A further meeting of the Prime Ministers of the British Commonwealth will be held in London this year, beginning towards the end of June. These meetings of Prime Ministers are believed by my advisers to be of great value to all the member countries of the Commonwealth.
My Government is determined, as in the past, to adhere to the United . Nations. Australia was recently elected to the Security Council. My Government has taken an active part in the formulation of such regional agreements as the Anzus Treaty and the South-East Asian Treaty, and was also the original promoter of what is now called the Colombo plan. By the establishment of overseas posts, particularly in Asian countries, it has sought and will continue to seek friendship, goodwill and understanding. It believes that, as a result of these various activities, Australia enjoys a real friendship with the countries of South-East Asia.
There are threats in the world to the peace and freedom of the Democracies. My Government believes that these threats come essentially from the Communist nations, whose modern history has shown them to be aggressive and willing to resort to both external pressure and internal subversion to achieve their ends. It would, in the opinion of my advisers, be folly to accept Communist protestations or gestures at their face value. Every offer must be considered on its merits and in the light of past experience. What has happened in the Middle European countries and subsequently in Korea and Indo-China is not to be forgotten byus except at our peril. It is for these reasons that my advisers have co-operated with other free countries in treaty organizations, designed not only to increase our contacts with other free countries, but also to marshal our combined strength for resistance to any further Communist aggression. My Government believes that, for example, it is false to say that the presence of British Commonwealth forces in south-east Asian countries is a threat to self-government. Great Britain has a record of converting colonies into self-governing nations, unequalled in recorded history. The truth is that the things that are vital to the defence of Australia are equally vital to the defence of the free countries of south-east Asia. The con certing of military plans and provision in respect of any one of these countries is of moment to all the others. Australian troops are not in Malaya as trespassers or for some purpose hostile to the self-government of Malaya. On the contrary, the constitutional growth of the Malayan people can proceed upon democratic lines only so long as tlhe Malayan people are the masters of their own destiny. They cannot be such masters if they are at any time subject to molestation from within or without. hike Australia and any other country whose defensive power is limited, they need friends, effective arrangements and joint action if they are to survive. The Australian soldier in Malaya is therefore engaged in a joint enterprise”^ which his Malayan opposite number is also engaged. They are both defending the freedom not only of their own countries but of others. They are each defending the principle and application of democratic self-government and of freedom from external fear.
Our ties with the Asian members of the British Commonwealth are particularly close. The influence and importance of India, Pakistan and Ceylon in world affairs is growing daily. We were particularly glad to welcome the admission of Ceylon to the United Nations. Our relations with the new Governments of Malaya and Singapore are developing satisfactorily.
The second meeting of the Seato Council will take place in Karachi in March of this year and will be attended by the Minister for External Affairs.
Xd external policy will possess reality unless it is backed by adequate defence provision. My advisers are, therefore, resolutely pursuing thu improvement of the training and equipment of our armed services and of research into the design and use of modern weapons. They are seeking to maintain a balance between manpower and equipment, and between defence preparations and economic stability. They have, with the approval of Parliament and in partnership with the United Kingdom, impended large sums on research and development of guided weapons at the Weapons Ki ‘search Establishments in South Australia. In addition, my Government is co-operating with the Government of the United Kingdom in the testing of nuclear weapons. They will, consistently with the safety of the civil population, continue to do so. The whole of their defence policy has been constantly kept under review so that both in the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, the constitution of forces, their training and their equipment will be related to the kind of war in which they would have to engage should a war come.
Until the occurrence of the recent waterfront strike, the prospect of bringing our international payments into balance was materially improving. It is unfortunately true that the strike has, by grievously reducing our export flow, dealt a serious blow to those prospects. Nevertheless, my Government is determined to adopt measures to arrest the decline in our international reserves. That decline is not in itself the cause of our problems; indeed, normally, a fall in our overseas balances would tend to have a counterinflationary effect at home. The truth is that the decline in our overseas balances is pr! manly the result of inflation at home. Private incomes and total purchasing power aic a’, record levels. Our local production falls far short of satisfying the demands so established. There is, therefore, a call for imports and, in recent times, at a level which we cannot as a nation pay for out of our current earnings. We have, therefore, been drawing upon our reserves. It needs no economist to tell us that such a process cannot go on for long.
As an immediate measure my Government imposed further import restrictions. But such restrictions are not in themselves a complete cure.
Recently my Government reorganized its departmental structure to enable particular emphasis to be given to trade.
Under the new Department of Trade, both primary and secondary industries are being encouraged to increase Australia’s export earnings. The Trade Commissioner Service .and associated publicity campaigns are being expanded. My advisers are re-examining Australia’s overseas trade agreements in the light of present-day requirements.
An export insurance scheme will be established to provide cover to exporters against certain risks of non-payment. Parliament will be invited to pass appropriate legislation early in the session. Legislation will be introduced as soon as agreement has been reached between all interested parties to give effect to a stabilization scheme for the dried vinefruits industry.
The Prime Minister recently made an appeal not only to the public generally but to representatives of many sections of industry for restraint in expenditure; a restraint which would do more to preserve the value of earnings, by counteracting inflation, than any other single factor. It is not yet clear how far these appeals have been successful. But my advisers want to make it clear that, limited as their powers may be, they will be prepared to use them to the full to counteract an inflation which threatens to inflict deep injury upon our true prosperity. They believe that prosperous though we are, we cannot sensibly seek to satisfy all our demands at the one time. There must be some balance between demands and resources. In our present state, either our resources must be materially increased, and that means a far more urgent understanding of the importance of increased production than is now visible, or the demands themselves must be reduced by appropriate fiscal and other measures. Government expenditure itself must be sedulously watched and, wherever possible, pruned. But there are limits to the extent to which public works programmes can be cut back, since those programmes, if properly chosen and planned, largely represent the foundation upon which expanding private enterprise builds. In the last three years, public works expenditure has not been a growing contributor to inflationary pressure since, in terms of money, it has remained approximately static, and has, therefore, in physical terms, been smaller.
My Government has decided that it should regularly make available relevant statistical information on the state of the economy. The first publication of this Treasury Information Bulletin was issued recently.
In addition a comprehensive statement on the condition of the economy will he presented to Parliament at an early date.
There are three features of the industrial position in Australia which deserve mention.
The first is that we have no unemployment except when some strike is on; on the contrary, we have, by and large, quite a substantial unsatisfied demand for labour.
The second is that average weekly earnings are not only high, but rising. The industrial tribunals have granted a very substantial increase in all marginal rates of pay, while competition for labour has raised pay still further.
The third is that, apart from the circumstances attending the waterside trouble, working days lost through industrial stoppages have been at a minimum.
Each of these elements is intrinsically good. But there is another side of the picture. Though production is in many instances increasing, it is increasing too slowly to meet demand. This has inflationary consequences. Costs are rising; our competitive position in the world is being weakened. Security of employment should, if allied to a proper social consciousness, lead to more effective work and therefore to lower costs.
An extensive programme of migration has undoubtedly added to the labour force available in Australia and will, in due time, make a strong contribution to the national security. But, in the meantime, the migration programme gives rise to substantial demands upon capital resources for industry, houses, schools, hospitals, transport and public services generally.
Added to these elements there is the fact that great confusion exists in the industrial field because of conflict between the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, the State industrial tribunals and, in some cases, direct industrial legislation by the State Parliaments.
My advisers feel that the problems so presented possess both reality and urgency. They are giving careful study to the ways and means of increasing production and lowering costs while, at the same time, producing both stability and justice in the industrial field. It would be a national misfortune if our people looked at such problems merely from the point of view of immediate self-interest. My advisers will, at the earliest possible date, give some lead in these matters. It is not to be forgotten that the direct powers of the Commonwealth are both limited and sketchy. There is, therefore, great room for intelligent co-operation between Commonwealth and States, and between employers and employees.
The Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement negotiated in 1945 expires within a few months. My Government is proposing n, new housing agreement with the States to operate from 1st July, 1956. Negotiations have commenced with the States and on agreement the necessary legislation will be introduced into Parliament.
An efficient manufacturing industry requires amongst other things adequate supplies of steel, power and fuel. The problem of coal shortages has been solved; four great petroleum refineries have been completed in the past two years; steel production has nearly doubled in recent years and the indus try envisages a very large programme of development. Yet Australian production falls far short of satisfying Australian demand.
The entry into Australia of overseas manufacturing firms, which my Government welcomes, has contributed and will contribute to the development of our manufacturing industries.
Electric generating capacity is increasing. During last year we saw the completion of the Guthega unit of the Snowy Mountains scheme. My Government will continue to press on with this major development.
The Australian Aluminium Production Commission’s works at Bell Bay have now been completed. Production is at the rate of 8,000 tons per annum and will increase as soon as possible to an output of 13,000 tons per annum.
My Government is active in developing the peaceful uses of atomic energy both by fostering the search for and production of uranium oxide and by establishing research facilities in Australia.
My Government will maintain a substantial and balanced immigration programme during the coming year.
My advisers report that, as a result of their policy in the Northern Territory and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, private enterprise is demonstrating confidence and initiative and making a larger contribution to development and trade than in any previous period. My Government will continue its policy of investigation, development and provision of facilities to assist this expansion and ensure that the indigenous people share in and benefit thereby. On 23rd November, 1955, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands came under the authority of the Commonwealth and are now administered as an Australian territory.
My Government will continue to contribute to the programme of scientific research being conducted in the Antarctic in connexion with the International Geophysical Year. It will maintain the two existing research bases at Macquarie Island and Mawson, and will establish ft third base in the Vestfold Hills area of Princess Elizabeth Land. My Government also contributed to the British Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
My Government will continue to follow its practical health policy. The research work on poliomyelitis, in which our scientists played a notable part, will shortly yield important practical results with the commencement of production of Salk vaccine at our Commonwealth Serum Laboratories.
The Social Services structure will be kept under continuing review. My advisers report that the scheme of financial assistance to churches and charitable institutions for homes for the aged has proved most successful. A programme of research into the special problems of the elderly will be undertaken shortly by my Government.
The public demand for postal and telecommunication services has reached new record levels. My Government’s programme of works is designed as far as possible to overtake arrears and maintain post office services at a high level of efficiency.
Consequent on the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Television, my Government has decided to proceed with the introduction of television into Australia and, as an initial step, to establish national stations in Sydney and in Melbourne and to authorize the setting up of two commercial stations in each of these cities. A bill to amend the Broadcasting and Television Acts to meet the requirements of television will be presented to Parliament in the near future.
My Government will continue its programme of reviewing and bringing up to date the law of the Commonwealth relating to industrial property, bankruptcy, copyright and designs.
In the earnest hope that Divine Providence may guide your deliberations and further the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth, I now” leave you to the discharge of your high and important duties.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That a committee consisting of Mr. Chaney, Mr. Anderson, and the mover, be appointed to prepare an Address-in-Reply to the Speech delivered by His Excellency’ the GovernorGeneral to both Houses of the Parliament, and that the committee do report this day.
Sitting suspended from3.42 to 8 p.m.
– Can the Minister for Supply tell the House of the proposals or arrangements, broadly - I am not asking him to give any information that has to be kept back because of defence security reasons - in respect of nuclear experiments, including explosions of the hydrogen bomb and the like, in areas affecting Australia, that have been already announced in some form or another and with which the Minister will be familiar? I refer to bits of information that have come from Great Britain and certain statements dealing with Australia. I understand the information covers not only Monte Bello but also an experimental explosion of a hydrogen bomb to take place in the South Pacific and, in addition, other proposals to be effected at “Woomera. Can the Minister state what those arrangements are?
– In answer to the Leader of the Opposition, the first thing to be said is that there will be no hydrogen bomb explosions or tests by way of explosions in Australian territory or in areas adjacent to Australian territory. That has always been so. Although it has been stated in the press, quite recklessly, to the contrary, I say again that there is no intention on the part of the Government to have hydrogen bomb tests in or adjacent to this country.
– What sort of bombs are they going to let off?
– We should like to let one off under the honorable member. The next thing is that although I have read in the press about hydrogen bomb tests in the South-West Pacific, this Government has no knowledge of such tests. It may help the House and the right honorable gentleman if I prepared a statement indicating what has been done in the past and what is proposed to be done in the future in Australia in relation to atomic bomb tests.
– Does the Monte Bello proposal cover a hydrogen experiment?
– No, it is an atomic bomb test. It is one of a series that has taken place and has nothing to do with the hydrogen bomb.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries. Is he aware of the extent of the damage caused by floods during the week-end in the Hawkesbury River Valley? As many primary producers in the district will have suffered complete loss of crops, machinery and working plant, will he examine the situation which excludes the owner-farmer from applying for benefits under the flood relief scheme to which this Government has already indicated its willingness to contribute in the present emergency ?
– I have not visited the Windsor area to ascertain the extent of the damage as a result of the recent floods, but the honorable member for Mitchell has presented certain facts to me and it appears wise and proper that I should go there with him as soon as practicable to have a look at the extent of the damage and see what can be done. Recently, I was able to go to Queensland with my friend from Maranoa and have a look at some of the damage that was done there and give certain advice as to what could be done in order to relieve personal distress and hardship. I understand that the Treasurer has announced that insofar as both Maranoa and Mitchell are concerned the Australian Government wil? contribute on a fl-for-£l basis for the relief of personal hardship and distress.
The honorable member can rest assured that the same treatment will be given to his constituents as was given to the constituents of my colleague from Maranoa. However, most honorable members will realize that this problem is mainly one for the State Government and that the Commonwealth comes in, as I said before, and helps on a £l-for-£l basis. The New South Wales Government has decided to give aid in the form of grants to tenant farmers but has refused to give similar aid to the owner-farmer. That is a matter that deserves to be looked into because it gives the impression of discrimination. As I have said, it is a matter largely for the State Government, but I shall be happy to see if something can be done and, if so, I shall let the honorable member know. He has asked me when I should go to Windsor. When he thinks it is desirable, I shall be only too happy to go with him.
– In view of the. recent tragic disappearance of an Anson aircraft with five persons aboard in the Kimberley area of Western Australia, I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether he will consider re-opening the recently closed radio transmitting and receiving stations at Hall’s Creek, Wyndham and Derby, as it is reasonable to assume that, if one of those stations had been operating, the missing plane would have been able to make contact with it and give its whereabouts, and so simplify the extensive search that has been in progress since the failure of the aircraft to report at Derby.
– The honorable member’s assumptions are completely wrong. The radio stations in the three centres that he mentioned were closed down because radio cover with much morn modern and effective equipment has been installed. The aircraft concerned in this tragic accident was equipped with radio and, in fact, messages were received from it after it had become airborne. There is no case on record, as far as I know, of an aircraft which went down outside the endurance of the fuel carried, that ever made a radio signal afterwards. I might say that the search that has been carried out for that aircraft is probably the most exhaustive that has ever been made for a missing aircraft in the history of Australia.
– Has it been abandoned ?
– . N 0.
– I rise to order. I do not know whether it is in the ambit of the Standing Orders, but I should like to move that the reply of the Minister for Civil Aviation be printed.
– I do not think that will be in order. The Minister’s reply will be printed in Hansard in any- case.
– Can the Minister for Primary Industry inform the House of the progress of the stabilization plan for the dried fruits industry promised in the Prime Minister’s policy speech? Does the Minister think it will become operative for the forthcoming selling season? Will the necessary legislation be introduced before the House rises for the winter recess ?
– Recently, my colleague the Minister for Trade, handed to me the responsibility for negotiating a stabilization plan for the dried fruits industry. Since that time I have been busily working with the departmental officers to see if a scheme can be negotiated. Already, there have been several conferences, but up to the present the industry and the department have not been able to decide upon the sort of scheme they want. Departmental officials will visit Melbourne to-morrow and will meet three or four leaders of the dried fruits industry in order to consider two alternative plans. One is designed to give 100 per cent, cover and the other to ensure that the cover ranges between 90 per cent, and 110 per cent, of the cost of production. I can assure the honorable member that this matter is being constantly looked at and that we are strenuously working to see if a satisfactory scheme can be evolved. The honorable member will know that this does pose some difficulties because there are three commodities involved, namely, sultanas, raisins and lexias. It is difficult to devise a satisfactory scheme, particularly when one has to take into account changes in commodity prices. The Prime Minister has instructed me to try to have the scheme completed for this, the 1956 season, and everything will be done to carry out his policy if it is at all practicable. I cannot give the honorable member any assurances as to the legislation, but I can assure him that the Government and the representatives of the dried fruits industry are doing everything possible to have the legislation placed on the statute-book.
– I address my questions to the Minister for Labour. When was the Commonwealth committee of inquiry into the stevedoring industry appointed? What is the personnel of that committee, and what fees and allowances do its members receive? What is the approximate total cost incurred to date? Is it a fact that, in April, 1955, four Government supporters at a party meeting complained about the time that was being taken by the committee to complete its investigations? Is it a fact that, in May, 1955, the Minister promised to ascertain whether the presentation of the report of the committee could be expedited? Is it a fact that, in September, 1955, the Prime Minister, in replying to a question, said that he would be extremely disappointed if the report was not ready for presentation during the next Parliamentary sittings ? Finally, can the Minister give any definite assurance that he can bring the inquiry to finality, and does he think that a substantial reduction of the fees being paid to the members of the committee might help?
– Quite obviously, I cannot be expected to answer in full detail the questions put to me by the honorable gentleman. If, however, he will let me have the full text of his questions, that portion of them that I cannot answer directly to-night will be subsequently answered. I can tell the honorable member that the committee comprises three members. The chairman is Mr. Tait, a well-known, and, I think, respected member of the Victorian bar, whose appointment certainly was not disapproved of by this House when it was made. The second member is Mr. Shortell, who, I think, is wellknown to most honorable members opposite, and who, I think, at present occupies the post of president of the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council. The third member is Mr. Fred Gibson, who is a well-known figure in the Employers Federation. They have been engaged on the work of this committee since about the beginning of last year. It is true that the Government hoped that the committee could have completed its inquiry long before this date, but, in fairness to the committee, I feel I should point out that it has not had, at all stages of the inquiry, the co-operation that it might have expected from any of the parties that have appeared before it, whether they be the representatives of the Waterside Workers Federation or the shipowners. Indeed, as to the latter, requests which were made about the middle of last year for certain information of a financial character have not yet been fully complied with, although the committee has pressed more than once for this information to be supplied. A similar inquiry in New Zealand extended over a period of two years, and a comparable inquiry has been instituted in recent months in the United Kingdom. I cannot say how long that is likely to last. I am hopeful that it will not be very long now before we have some useful information from this committee, which could, perhaps, provide the basis for legislation to be considered by this House. To the extent that this answer has not covered the honorable member’s questions, I shall endeavour to supplement it.
– I ask the Treasurer whether the Government has received an application from the Western Australian Government for financial assistance towards capital improvements in the dairy industry in that State. If the Government has received such a request, has it been considered? If it has been considered, what decision was made?
– Whatever requisition or requirement was forwarded, it was obviously on a governmenttogovernment basis. That would concern the Prime Minister’s Department. I have no intimate knowledge of such a request that would enable me to give a satisfactory answer to the honorable member, but I shall have inquiries made, and I hope to supply him with the information at an early date.
– Recently the Australian Ambassador to the United States of America made an extended visit to South American republics. I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether a report can be made to this House which will indicate to honorable members the advantages gained by the visit of the ambassador.
– It is true that our ambassador in Washington, on instructions, made a visit to a series of countries in Central and South America. He reported at the time, both by telegram and by despatch, on a number of current matters regarding which he had had the advantage of discussion with the foreign ministers of the countries that he visited. The matters were certainly current matters that were of considerable interest to Australia at the time, and which came up at subsequent meetings of the United Nations assembly. The ambassador’s visit was made about six or eight months ago. I shall certainly look into his reports and ascertain whether there is anything in them, other than matters that were then of current interest, that might now be of interest and concern to the honorable gentleman and other members of the House.
– Because of the large number of informal votes cast at the last general election and at preceding general elections, will the Minister for the Interior consider including on the ballot-paper for the Senate the name of the party represented by each candidate, and, indeed, will the Minister consider including such information on ballotpapers for the House of Representatives? Will the Minister also consider reducing the number of votes necessary to be cast in order to make a Senate vote formal?
– I can only tell the honorable member that these and other matters arising from the last general election are at present under scrutiny in the department, and in due course some suggestions for modifications along the lines mentioned by the honorable gentleman will certainly be brought forward.
– In the absence of the Prime Minister, my question is directed to the Treasurer. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that the Olympic Games will be held in Melbourne this year? Is he aware that in conjunction with the games a national surf life-saving carnival will be held, which will be open to lifesaving clubs throughout Australia? In view of the expense that will be incurred by these clubs in transporting their teams to Melbourne, and in view of the losses in equipment incurred by the clubs due to the inclement weather that has been experienced recently along the Australian coast, will the Treasurer consider making a substantial grant to the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia to help to cover the cost of the projected carnival, and so give the thousands of visitors expected at the Olympic Games the opportunity of seeing our life-savers in action?
– I think that the opportunity to see life-savers in action is more readily available in the places where they are continuously in action around our coast. I have great sympathy for the life-saving clubs of Australia. This Government has given practical expression of its sympathy by making substantial grants of money to them. It is the first government that has done so. I arn afraid that I can hold out no hope that expenses will be paid by tbe Australian Government as requested by the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he is aware of a recent announcement made by the Premier of New South Wales to the effect that he was considering the appointment of an advisory committee to assist his government in regard to the desirability of any amendments that might be necessary to the arbitration law of New South Wales. I further ask the Minister whether it is not a fact that the Australian Government has already taken the initiative in that matter on an Australiawide basis, and has already appointed a committee to advise it, the members of the committee being drawn from a widespread group of interstate organizations.
– I have gathered that the Premier of New South Wales did feature some such proposal in the policy speech which he addressed to the electors of his State during the course of this week. It is a fact, as indicated by the honorable member, that pursuant to the policy speech undertaking of the Prime Minister, we have already taken action to have consideration given to industrial problems, particularly those that relate to our industrial arbitration system. Early last year the Government constituted an advisory committee within the Ministry of Labour and National Service, on which the major employing organizations were directly represented, and which also included the six senior members of the interstate executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. As one of the items for discussion by that body - I believe that the Prime Minister specifically referred to this in his policy speech - we prepared a draft paper on the industrial arbitration processes, which was to be considered by the advisory committee of the Ministry of Labour and National Service at its next meeting. That meeting would normally have been held last Monday, but owing to the strike on the waterfront and our pre-occupation with matters concerning it, it was postponed for a fortnight. When the advisory committee meets on Monday week it will have before it a paper, which we have prepared, which will enable it to give preliminary consideration to this highly important matter. At the same time, there is need for a similar process to be carried out by the Government of New South Wales in relation to the industrial arbitration problems of that State, because if that is done it will indicate the desirability of bringing Commonwealth and State awards as nearly as practicable into line, to avoid the anomalies which have developed because State governments have not been prepared to follow particular decisions of the Commonwealth Court, of Conciliation and Arbitration.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service able to give honorable members any idea when judgment will be delivered by the Full Bench of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in the matter of the appeal by the medical officers of the Department of Repatriation? If the Minister is not able to do so, will he make inquiries about the cause of the delay in giving judgment, and ascertain the likely date upon which the judgment will be delivered?
– I have not the information requested by the honorable member. I should think that if it is in the possession of any government authority, my colleague the AttorneyGeneral would be most likely to know of it, because he is the Minister formally concerned with the Bench of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. I shall endeavour to secure any information which will assist the honorable member, and shall let him have it.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry any information to give the House about his recent inspection of flooded areas in Queensland ? Will he, in his reply, make some reference to the matter of government assistance to flood victims ?
– The matter mentioned in the honorable member’s question does not come strictly within the jurisdiction of the Department of Primary Industry, but the Prime Minister did ask me to inspect the various centres in Queensland - particularly the flooded areas in the electorate of Maranoa - to ascertain the extent of the damage, and also to make certain that people “were aware of how they could apply for assistance. Together with my colleague from Maranoa, I was able to persuade such people that the correct authority to which they should apply was the Queensland Government, which is responsible foi these matters. I informed them that they could go to police officers in the first instance, and then to shire councils and the State Government. The Prime Minister gave instructions that three things were to be done. ‘First, that the Commonwealth was prepared to share with the States a financial responsibility in cases of personal hardship on a £l-for-£l basis. Secondly, the Commonwealth was prepared to make any mechanical equipment from the Army or the Department of Works available to local authorities engaged in clearing up debris. The Prime Minister also agreed to a request by Mr. Gair, the Premier of Queensland, that if there was any special case that could be put to the Treasury for special assistance he would be only too glad to look at it to see whether additional help should be given. I am afraid that that is all the information that I can give to the honorable member, except to say that the main benefit of the visit was that the Queensland Government now realizes that it has to set up an organization that can quickly handle these matters, so that requests for assistance can be channelled through the local police or shire authorities to an authority to be established by the Queensland State Government.
– My question to the Treasurer concerns a very urgent matter. I understand that the management of the Hetton Bellbird colliery proposes to close down the mine and dismiss from 550 to 600 men. Such an action is looked upon by the mine-workers as similar to the lock out of 1929-30 when the Bruce-Page Coalition Government did nothing to carry out the principles of conciliation and arbitration. At present, mineworkers are being forced to accept altered working conditions and tonnage rates, despite the fact that they are covered by arbitration decisions and, therefore, I ask the right honorable gentleman whether some action should not be taken to prosecute coal-owners who are trying to bring about an Australia-wide general strike in the coal mines in defiance of arbitration awards.
– Order !
– I ask the Government whether it will ensure that there shall be no repetition of what was known as the “hungry 30’s.” At that time, the Government proposed to prosecute J. and A. Brown and Abermain-Seaham Collieries Limited, but withdrew the prosecution
– Order !
– Wow let the Government prosecute these people and not withdraw the prosecution.
– I shall have a discussion with my colleague, the Minister for National Development, about the matters raised by the honorable member. I know that he has been directly interesting himself in this particular matter. However, I think that the facts are not as stated by the honorable member, nor have they been as faithfully represented as they might have been because, on what I have learned, it appears that the management of the colliery concerned has been losing about £5,000 a week on the operations of that mine. I believe that it is a distortion of the facts to suggest that people who are conducting an entirely unprofitable business and who close down in consequence of that, are in some way pursuing an oppressive industrial policy. However, I know that the matter has been examined by my colleague, and I have learned from him that it is receiving the active interest of the New South Wales Minister for Mines, who is more directly concerned with the problem. I shall bring the question of the honorable member to the notice of my colleague.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) agreed to-
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until to-morrow, at 2.30 p.m.
– I move-
That the honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann) be appointed Chairman of Committees of this House.
-I second the motion.
That Mr. Clark he appointed Chairman of Committees of this House.
– I second the motion.
The time for further proposals having
Mr.HAYLEN (Parkes) [8.33]. - I move this motion that Mr. Clark be appointed Chairman of Committees of this House with a sense of responsibility in the matter, as I hope to prove to the cloud of witnesses of the Government for the time being. I use as my yardstick the difference between the Speaker and a member of the House of Representatives, because I must have some measurement by which to assess the value to this House of the two administrators of the Standing Orders. You know, Mr. Speaker, my personal opinion of you. You know my official opinion of you, which has been expressed previously.
– ‘Order ! The question of the speakership is not under discussion.
– But I hope you will allow me to explore your personality for that part briefly. I am confident that if you do so, you will see what 1 am aiming at. You wear -
– Order !
– “Would that be in order? All I am wanting to point out - and I am trying to do it in humility - is that there are certain geographical aspects of the speakership with which we agree. The first one is the wig you wear, which belonged to the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), and the other is the elastic-sided boots, which are your own.
– Order ! The honorable member may not discuss the speakership on this motion.
– I see. This House continues to frustrate the Clv,11 liberties of the subject whom I represent. I shall, of course, be guided by the Standing Orders in relation to the honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann), who is seeking the support of this House for the office of Chairman of Committees. Let me say that the Chairman of Committees holds a unique position. You, Sir, considered in the historical sense, would be the King’s pimp. Would not that be so ? I mean, in a historical sense only, that the Speaker was the King’s adviser, and when the House had to consider the finances of the country, it went into committee. Well, families do that to-day in the same way. So the Chairman of Committees is an extraordinarily important person, because he presides in the committee stage. The Chair is at the nub in the consideration of legislation, and what makes a bill tick over. Therefore, in that situation, we must have a man with an extremely wide knowledge and an appreciation of the intricacies of debate. Before Government supporters start their asinine laughter, which means nothing, let me give an illustration of our views in connexion with the Chairman of Committees. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who is our guide in many matters concerning punishment and discipline, once was thrown out of the chamber for agreeing with the Chairman of Committees. Surely that is the most sensational decision within the Commonwealth of Nations, and it would be duly noted throughout the whole of the Commonwealth. I am sure the honorable member for East Sydney remembers what happened on that occasion. The Chairman of Committees said to him, “ If you say another word, out you go ! “ The honorable member for East Sydney said, “Very well, sir, I won’t say another word “. But out he went !
The honorable member for Fisher, who has been the Chairman of Committees since 1950, has the distinction of being a personal friend of mine and my criticisms are blunted because of that fact. One must trim oneself down and address the nation on the qualifications of a man for an important job. In many cases, the salted peanut approach to the committee stages is no good at all. I know that I have only five minutes in which to develop my theme, and I have no desire to be harsh, but I think if we consider the honorable member for Darling, Mr. Clark, we shall find the ideal choice. It is wonderful to be able to call a man by his own name in this House. You, Mr. Speaker, have practically prohibited that, but I see from the Standing Orders that I can say “ Mr. Clark “, and I delight in saying, “ Clark “. So Mr. Clark—
– Order ! The honorable gentleman will refer to the honorable member for Darling by the name of his electorate.
- Mr. Speaker, one called Haylen has said to you, “I move that Mr. Clark be appointed Chairman of Committees “. I have no cognizance of having mentioned the honorable member for Darling. Mr. Clark is an experienced man.
– Order ! If the honorable gentleman persists in that strain, the white flower of innocence will not save him.
– Then, if that be so, I take it you will pay some tribute to the red badge of courage.
– I will, if the honorable gentleman will wear it.
– Very well. This is but a quibble.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- In supporting the nomination of the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark), I submit that he has outstanding qualifications for the position. Our experience of him as Chairman of Committees some years ago has demonstrated to us beyond any reasonable doubt that he has every attribute for a successful Chairman of Committees. His knowledge of the Standing Orders is wide, indeed extensive. During his tenure of that office he demonstrated that he had an extraordinary capacity for the position, and what is perhaps most important of all in a Chairman of Committees, that he has a sense of fair play.
I submit as points for the consideration of the House the fact that he is an experienced, mature parliamentarian whose sense of responsibility and wide knowledge make him an ideal- choice for this onerous office. The Labour party has no personal animus against the honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann). We realize that in the past he has performed his duties according to the dictates of his conscience, hut I submit that it would be unfortunate if this House decided to give him another term of office. In our opinion, he does not possess the qualifications that are essential for the job.
In the first place, the honorable member lacks the understanding needed to
Carry out the functions of the position. I remind honorable members that representatives of the people are elected to the
Parliament to deliberate for the benefit of all the electors, and if they are prevented from doing so by undue influence from the Chair, the government of the country must be adversely affected. The ideal Chairman of Committees should possess that indefinable quality which enlists the co-operation of all the honorable members who are under his control in this chamber. Unfortunately for this House, the honorable member for Fisher has not shown himself to be possessed of that desirable quality. His manner has consistently antagonized the Opposition quite unnecessarily. On numerous occasions, the temper of the committee has become turbulent because of the absence of human understanding from the makeup of the honorable member’ for Fisher and, perhaps, because of the absence”’ of that happy quality which leads men tocooperate with the Chair.
Honorable members on the Opposition side believe, quite honestly, that the atmosphere created by the honorable member for Fisher as Chairman of Committees has not been conducive to the most efficient working of the Parliament. If the parliamentary institution is to be strengthened, honorable members must be encouraged to conduct their deliberations free, so far as is humanly possible, from recriminations and bitterness, but honorable members on the Opposition side believe that the honorable member for Fisher, as Chairman of Committees, has prevented the attainment of that desirable objective. In contrast, whenever the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden), the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Timson) or the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. McLeay) occupied the chair in the previous Parliament, the Opposition always felt that the committee was under much better control. The honorable members whom I have mentioned always had the complete confidence of honorable members on both sides of the chamber. Under the jurisdiction of the honorable member for Fisher, the Chairman and honorable members on the Opposition side have been involved in too many unnecessary incidents. I suggest that those incidents were caused by the inability of the honorable member for Fisher to deal with the temperaments of honorable members. We believe that he is too temperamental for the position, and that his methods have not ensured the smooth working of the legislature. On the other hand, the honorable member for Darling-
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I take exception to the way in which honorable members on the Opposition side are wasting the time of this House. If they had selected some other honorable member from the Opposition side to contest the election of a chairman of committees, I would not have levelled that charge against them, but the political reputation of the honorable member who has been nominated by the Opposition is notorious among supporters of the Government. I shall remind honorable members of the manner in which the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) carried out his duties when he was Chairman of Committees. “We expect the Chairman of Committees to be competent, unbiassed and possessed of full and correct knowledge of the procedures of this House. The honorable member for Darling has not displayed any of those qualifications.
I was an honorable member on the Opposition side when the honorable member for Darling was Chairman of Committees. From time to time, when the Estimates were being discussed in this chamber, the honorable member for Darling, as Chairman, leered across at the Ministers of the Labour Government of that time, and gave the call to one Minister after another. He refused to call one honorable member on the Opposition side, and virtually imposed the “ guillotine “ on them by allowing the Ministers of the Labour Government to occupy all the time of the House during important debates on the Estimates.
The result was a protest from the Opposition of the day that has become historic. I shall read the terms of that motion which I submitted myself, and which is to be found at page 655 of Hansard, volume 201. That was when a Labour government last occupied the treasury bench, and many more years will elapse before a Labour government is returned to office again. At that time, the honorable member for Darling was the Deputy Speaker, and I moved as follows : -
That this House has no further confidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker on the grounds -
That in the discharge of his duties he has revealed serious partiality in favour of Government members;
) That he regards himself merely as the instrument of the Labour Party and not as the custodian of the rights and privileges of this Parliament;
That he constantly fails to interpret correctly the Standing Orders of the House; and
Of gross incompetency in his administration of parliamentary procedure.
That is the man whose name has been put forward now by the Opposition, and honorable members who have supported him have glossed over his character with fulsome tributes. They have claimed that he has the competence and character necessary to control proceedings in a committee of this House. The Labour Government, which had the support of the honorable member for Darling at that time, refused to proceed with the discussion of that motion for more than six months, and allowed it to remain on the notice-paper. The Labour Government was not game to have the motion discussed, because it realized the incompetence of the honorable member for Darling. That government knew that if the motion were tested by a vote of the House, it could not be sure of the support of some of its own followers. Therefore, the Labour government of the day allowed the motion to stand.
The honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann), who has been nominated by supporters of the Government for the position of chairman of committees, has the qualities of integrity and competency. He has conducted efficiently the affairs of” the committee of this House. During your absence, Mr. Speaker, the honorable member for Fisher was Mr. Acting Speaker, and he discharged his duties with dignity and competence. I believe that honorable members on the Opposition side have been engaged in a farce. They have no intention of treating this matter seriously, and I move -
That the question be now put.
Question put. The House divided.
Ayes .. .. ..69
Noes . . . . . . 42
Majority . . . . 27
Committees, he is, by statute, denied the right to exercise his vote in the selection of the Chairman of Committees?
– Order! The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory and the honorable member for the Northern Territory are both elected under the provisions of certain acts of the Parliament, which prescribe that they may not vote in this House on any matter excepting the disallowance of an ordinance for the territories that they represent. The obvious position of the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory is that if he is not satisfied with the terms under which he is elected, he is not obliged to remain a member of this House.
– Is it not competent for the Parliament to pass amending legislation so that the honorable member for the Northern Territory and the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory may be given their rights in this Parliament in regard to the election of the Chairman of Committees ?
– Order ! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition was for some years a member of a government that might have taken such action but did not do so.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The bells having been rung and a ballot having been taken,
– I have to announce the result of the ballot as follows: - Mr. Adermann, 68 votes ; Mr. Clark, 45 votes. I declare the honorable member for Fisher elected as Chairman of Committees of this House.
– I desire to thank honorable members for their continued confidence in me as the Chairman of Committees. I assure the House that I shall do my best in the future, as I have done in the past. I suggest to those honorable members who mentioned the need for co-operation, that if it is forthcoming from them in the future, we shall get on better.
– On behalf of the Government I congratulate the honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann) upon his re-election to the very important position of Chairman of Committees of this House. He has carried out the duties of this position with great credit and distinction to himself since 1949, and I am sure that he will continue to discharge his duties with dignity and credit to the extent that he will maintain the goodwill and very high appreciation in which he is held.
– In also congratulating the honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann), I can assure him that this side of the House will give to him cooperation coextensive with the cooperation that he, as Chairman of Committees, gives to all sides of the House. Although it really has nothing directly to do with the honorable member for Fisher, I want to record my protest, even at this late stage, against the speech made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison), which contained a statement of ex parte charges made by him years ago, none of which he proved, but which he read from Hansard as though they were facts. He then stopped us from replying by moving that the question be put. It is that kind of fascism in this House to which we object.
– I should like to take this opportunity to congratulate the winner of the contest for the office of Chairman of Committees. I thought I had an excellent chance of winning the ballot, but apparently the honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann) had the numbers. I know that he will do his job to the best of his ability, and any advice and assistance that I can give him I. shall be happy to tender. I should like to thank the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) for the sportsmanlike manner in which he treated the subject by making a lot of false statements and then refusing to us the right of reply by moving that the question be put.
– After my initial general explanation of the difficulties of the Chairman of Committees, I should like to join in congratulating the honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann) upon attaining that position, and I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that you present him with a book prize - a gold-bound copy of the Standing Orders.
Mr. Chaney, for the committee appointed to prepare an Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General (vide page 21), presented the proposed Address, which was read by the Clerk.
.-1 move -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to: -
We, the House ofRepresentatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
In moving this Address-in-Reply, something that is closely associated with the traditions of this House, and realizing, of course, that certain privileges are extended to members of this Parliament when making a maiden speech, I nevertheless do so with a deep feeling of gratitude for the privilege which has been extended to me. Amongst the honorable members gathered here are quite a number of us who for the first time are taking; our place in this. the Parliament of the Commonwealth, and it is natural to assume that each one of us has probably a different train of thought about his responsibility and expectations and the part he hopes to play in the government of this country for a period that shall be determined under our democratic system by the free will of the people. It is safe to say that most of us are driven by some form of idealism, that we come here with the sincere hope that we may in this way serve this country to the best of our ability with an honesty of purpose, and in so doing may, too, pay tribute to those men of the past who have served in this Parliament and to whom we and Australia owe so much. Some of their namesare now commemorated only in the namesof little-used railway sidings and triennially used electoral divisions.
This country of ours, which is young in tradition, has overcome the initial difficulties of a pioneering nation, hut we shall have to face, in the second half of this century, just as many difficulties and disappointments as those men of the past whose courage and belief in the future of Australia were responsible for giving to us the nation as we know it to-day. We, and indeed all the citizens of this Commonwealth, will need that same courage and faith in the future if Australia is to retain its place among the nations of the world, to continue to progress, and to prosper in the years to come.
The political system which we have inherited grew up at a time when there were no problems of external security. Due to our geographical position, isolated as we were from the trouble spots of the world, we were able to proceed without much thought or worry about nations that were too far away to be of any great significance. Most of us, in our youth, heard with ceaseless repetition of the importance of the Balkans to the whole political and geographical future of Europe, and we came to learn and to know that the Balkans were the cockpit of Europe. We grew up to adopt the British idea that the countries so close to us were the Ear East, and even now, it is difficult for a great number of people to realize that what is the Ear East to England is, in fact, the very near East to us in Australia. It is little realized, too, that Singapore is closer to Fremantle, by sea, than is Sydney. And so our old isolation must be broken down in the minds of men and the realization thrust upon them that we in this country, a tiny outpost of the western world in the Pacific, have as a focal point in our future, Malaya, not the Balkans. Malaya may well be called the cockpit of Asia and, in fact, may well be called the cockpit of the world.
Our nation has grown in stature in this post-war world. In our early years, we felt a deep resentment towards people from the Old World, an attitude that was probably built up to overcome an inferiority complex which we felt because of our own shortcomings. But the absorption of so many new settlers has helped us to break down our insularity, and the acceptance by the majority of people of these newcomers is an axiomatic proof of our coming-of-age as a nation.
If we could sit back now and live on the fruits of the labours of those who went before us, the tasks confronting us would be negligible, but initiative and courage would be needed as much as ever before. Two things are vital for our future development. They are work and capital. The latter can be attracted only by an assurance to the nations that can supply it that the ability to give the former exists in the inhabitants of this country. The newcomers to this land have brought two qualities that I sincerely hope they will retain. The first quality is deference, a quality sadly lacking in our national make-up, but one which is needed in the highest and the lowest in the land, because there is not one of us who does not depend on some one above him for his very existence. The second quality is the ability and desire to work. Australia still remains a land of opportunity for any one who is prepared to water the soil of this continent with the sweat of his brow.
Two years ago, I was fortunate to visit some of the great nations of the world, including America, Europe and Great Britain. Like most travellers, the farther I went from home the more I appreciated the land in which I lived. L came home convinced that my children were growing up in the greatest country of the world, but I also became convinced that if the Australian people failed to appreciate that fact they would not long remain the controllers of their own destiny. There are disadvantages, it is true, in this country, but the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, a fact to which the majority of our immigrants can testify. The immigrants have brought from the Old World a background of culture and civilization which this young nation will appreciate when the effect of those attributes is finally felt amongst us.
The test of our fitness to be a member of the United Nations remains the attitude of the ordinary citizen towards our new settlers, for it is useless to talk of national friendships if we cannot practice the principles of tolerance and respect i” our own community. Often in the past, I have referred to the generation to which I belong as a disillusioned generation, because those of my own age who grew up between two world wars were brought up in the belief that the struggle which ended in 191S was a struggle to end all wars. The free peoples of the world, clinging to the ideas and ideals of the League of Nations, at that time allowed themselves to be lulled into a false sense of security and a belief that the complete answer to the threat of aggression was to he found in friendship and disarmament. History has shown what a great illusion that that was. It was only because this nation and the other democratic countries of the world found, in war-time, a spirit of service and the determination not to recognize defeat, that we, for the second time in our lives, were saved from enslavement by nations which were bent on our destruction.
Though we must respect and support the United Nations, we must also see that our idealism is associated with realism. We must appreciate that the peoples of the world can only remain at peace if the free nations are determined and willing to act together to ensure that freedom-loving peoples, wherever they may live, are supported against the threat of aggression. We must be urged forward to-day by the same fundamental forces which moved us in war: Our common respect for law, and our common love of freedom. We can echo Wordsworth’s cry -
We must be free or die, who speak the tongue
That Shakespeare spake, the faith and morals hold
Which Milton held.
There are some who believe that there is no threat to the future security of the world, but this is the result of an ostrich-like attitude and a failure to appreciate the facts as they really are. If we superimpose a map of the world of 1956 upon a map of the world of 1945, noting how the sphere of red influence has grown, and if we still believe that that sphere will not increase, then I think we shall never appreciate any position that is based on fact. The free nations of the world must pledge themselves that the rights of free men will be protected wherever they are threatened.
The defence of a nation does not lie only in the hands of the people who comprise the defence forces of that nation. Defence is concerned far more with the state of mind of every inhabitant. The Australian people have a record unequalled in the world for patriotism, devotion to duty and the ability to overcome the greatest obstacles in war-time, but we are far too prone, upon the cessation of hostilities, to forget that our freedom was ever threatened. In peace-time, we develop a tendency to treat the armed services and servicemen as a drain upon the resources of the country. We fail to appreciate that the members of the armed forces, who have accepted the deep responsibility of citizenship, are as much entitled, in peacetime, to our salutes as they were so entitled in time of war. We also fail to appreciate that our feelings towards the members of the forces should not lessen in value because they are not engaged in actual combat. There is a grave fear that, in this age of atomic warfare, fear of the consequences will soften our resistance and tend to make us an easy prey to the enemies that we may face in the future.
History is full of predictions about the horrors of future wars, but history has proved that, apart from armed strength, it is the quality of the citizens that is the final determining factor in any struggle for existence. We should, therefore, proceed, with all the effort of which we are capable, towards attainment of the peace of our dreams. We should ensure that any nation which contemplates territorial expansion meets resistance from a people who are trained and ready to protect the free rights of man.
When we point the finger of criticism, we so often forget that, while one finger is pointing to the accused, three fingers are pointing back to the critic. Because we are a nation of critics, and because it is a trait of the Australian character to bc destructive in criticism, much has been said in criticism, of the system of national service training which was fortunately introduced in this country a few years ago. It is of value to the defence planning of this country, but it has another high value which is not often realized by the majority of our people. The small price that we pay for it is money well spent, because of its value in training for citizenship.
What better method is there to teach the youth of the country that many of the differences which they imagine exist between men are really figments of their imaginations? The bringing together of persons from every walk of life and every stratum of society, having them live together and work together, is one of the first steps towards overcoming the difficulties that do exist in the community. In a world where discipline is sadly lacking, it is a great advantage to the nation for its youth to realize that, before one can administer discipline, one must learn to accept it. Apart from the fact that a number of ex-national service personnel now hold commissioned ranks in the forces, there is an overwhelming advantage of the scheme that has been made evident to people on the return of these lads to their civil occupations. We have seen the development of their personalities and an improvement in their attitudes to their civil occupations. That, in itself, is a tremendous service to the attainment of a national feeling of responsibility.
I draw to the close of my speech on the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply. In looking forward, one is tempted, indeed forced, to look back to the early days of the settlement of this country, to the days when colonies were formed and men of integrity, vision and strength of character were chosen to lead them. Although we can point to their failures, we can point also to their successes. The fact that they had the courage and determination to carry on when they could have gone back to England quite easily is responsible for the fact that Australia is a nation now. This Parliament was opened to-day by one who sprang from the same stock as those men. It is gratifying to us, as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, to know that the stock that made this country great still exists, so that we can go on from greatness to greatness and so that our children and our children’s children can be brought up in a land where the advantages and opportunities are better than those existing in any other place in the world.
.- I rise to second the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I am honoured to support an address that reaffirms the loyalty of this House to the Crown. The Governor-General’s speech can be divided into two parts, the first of which dealt with foreign affairs and defence. The mover of the motion has spoken very eloquently about the need for defence. The loth February is a very significant date in the history of Australia, because it was on the 15th February that Singapore fell. As one who was there, I heartily support the proposal of the Government to continue the strong defence policy that it inaugurated in 1949.
The national service training scheme, to which the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) referred, will help us to become prepared. I believe that if we ave prepared and equipped for war, we shall thereby do much to prevent war. We know that the only nations that we have to fear ave the nations under Communist domination. We know that the Communists, faced with a stalemate in Europe, are tending to direct their attention towards the East. Those people who know the East realize that the Easterner has a vast respect for power. The forces that the Communists have at their disposal, measured in terms of military divisions and air squadrons, are great forces. The main object of Communist propaganda will be to try to wean the East from the West.
But the Communists can make mistakes. Last year, two leaders of the Soviet visited India. We know the purposes of their visit, and it is interesting to consider how far they succeeded. They timed their visit to India, a nation that prides itself on its pacificism, to coincide with the explosion of the hydrogen bomb by Russia. To my mind, that was a direct insult to the Indian nation. Not satisfied with that, they made constant attacks on the United Kingdom. India is a free member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Surely it must be an insult to an associate nation to attack its mother nation. Then the Russians attacked the Portuguese for their occupation of Goa. Surely that, also was an insult to the host country. Then they made their appeals direct to the Indian masses, avoiding the intelligentsia of the country. Those were gross errors of judgment. The Communists have great military forces, but they, too, can make mistakes. Asiatics fear loss of face very much. Russia has made some very bad bloomers in the East.
It is sometimes a grave military fault to over-estimate an enemy. I have seen an enemy from behind, so to speak. Most of us who see an enemy only from the front ai-e inclined to regard him as a marvellous creature who has no weaknesses and is able to do much to harm us. But once we see him from behind, we realize that he is quite a different proposition. I feel that in the East, especially in India, the Russians have made some grave mistakes.
The recent policy of this Government has been to negotiate defensive pacts. Mr. Nehru has stated that he regards those pacts with some suspicion and fears that preparations for war may lead to war. We hope that Mr. Nehru will visit Australia shortly. If he does so, I am confident that, after he has been here and met our people, he will change his views. He will realize that our defence preparations and our defence policy are directed towards peace. It seems to me to be a great pity that in the recent general election, the Opposition - the alternative government - supported a policy of reducing the defence vote considerably and of withdrawing our troops from Asia. One does not need to be a great diplomat to understand the effect of that policy on Eastern nations. If a small nation is being threatened by a large bully nation, and if it finds that its friends are only fair weather friends, it will be inclined to compromise with the nation that it fears. I feel that the fact that the Opposition has advocated a policy of weakening our defences has done great damage. The Opposition, as an integral part of this Parliament, should be represented on the Foreign Affairs Committee. If it had been so represented, I do not think that the position that I have mentioned would have arisen.
As I have said, the Governor-General’s Address can be divided into two parts, one dealing with defence and foreign policy and the other dealing with our economic position. It fully stated the facts regarding rising costs, falling export prices and a decreasing trade balance. It forecast sound, constructive proposals for the re-organization of departments, trade drives and export payment schemes to meet the possibility of an economic crisis. I welcome the fact that the Government intends to make a comprehensive statement on the condition of the Australian economy. The Government should take the nation fully into its confidence when doing so. The Government of the United States of America has provided an excellent example because it has always discussed its economic policies in the broad daylight of publicity. Had the Government followed such a course when it was first elected to office, probably I should not have been cast out into the political wilderness. I have always held that the Government’s policies have been right, but the country has not always understood them. If the Government were to take the country more into its confidence it would receive fuller support. A significant sentence in His Excellency’s Speech is that -
Security of employment should, if allied to proper social consciousness, lead to mon effective work and so lower costs.
The mover of this motion, in dealing with that point, referred to the dignity of hard work. Here is the crux of the economic problem that faces the nation. If production could be increased by 10 per cent, most of our problems would be solved. Eight learned professors produced a formidable statement on this subject, in which they argued that it was necessary to do certain things. It is also necessary that the Government should undertake to create a right atmosphere for progress. No amount of fiscal policy-making or administrative regulation can succeed unless due regard is paid to the human element, and at present Australia’s economic .stability depends largely on the human element. This is a question which is both political and psychological, but it is one in respect of which Australians are guilty of very foggy thinking. Time and again I have heard members of the Opposition criticizing the standard of living in other countries. They have suggested that such conditions were incompatible with the
Australian way of life. They look with disdain on the standards of living of other countries, but do they realize what, really, is the Australian way of life? Every member of the Opposition is committed to a policy which, if given effect, would absolutely destroy the Australian way of life, and that is a fact from which some of our problems stem. No system or way of life can survive unless the people have confidence in it, and our system of private enterprise calls for that confidence. The United States of America has proved that the capitalist system can successfully function and raise the standard of living of its people higher than can any other system devised. Australia has adopted the system of private enterprise.
There are some matters on which the Government should take action. I mention certain restrictive practices that have been accepted for a long time. No one in a free world can justify a closed shop or compulsory unionism, or go-slow tactics, or the intimidation of good workers. These things are ruining our economy, and it is our duty to find where the malaise lies. Every one knows that there is a shortage of thousands of houses for wage-earners and their families, but will bricklayers lay one more brick a day than the number prescribed by their union? If I were a free bricklayer and a union representative came to me and said, “ You are laying too many bricks; keep your speed down to our level “, I know what I should say. I know that you are strict about parliamentary language, Mr. Speaker, and I have an excellent army vocabulary at my disposal, but I shall not use it to express my opinion of such a suggestion. No man has a right to tell another to reduce the speed or volume of his work. A great deal could be achieved in this country if workers were free to fulfil their honest desires.
I believe in trade unionism, but is Australian trade ‘ unionism free ? . I say that it is not. The Australian trade union movement has suffered from the mediocre standard of its leadership. Never in this place has a trade union leader dared to say, “ I stand for improved conditions of work and improved pay, but the workers have to earn them “.
The mover of this motion has eloquently stated the principle that any improvement must be earned. Our standard of living can rise only if production is increased. The trade union movement has continuously attacked the principles of private enterprise. Its journals have fostered class hatred, spread falsehood and misrepresentation and indulged in. this type of propaganda for political purposes. Our fighting forces did not go across the seas to defeat the enemy and keep Australia free so that other forces within the country might breed class hatred.
The Australian worker is one of the best and most efficient in the world provided that he is allowed to work. In rural industries and in forestry, and. indeed, in most industries the majority of workers are prepared to give an honest day’s work for a good day’s pay. Unfortunately, that cannot be said of all industries and the cause of this must be found and dealt with. The fault lies not only with the labour force but also with the management. In some instances management has allowed conditions to develop which have destroyed the confidence so necessary between management and labour. In the past 50 years management has been gravely remiss in failing to support more fully a system that provides the rights and privileges of trade in a free world. The primary producer suffers acutely as a result of industrial trouble on the waterfront. He pays the enormous costs involved in shipping and stevedoring. On the one hand, the labour force is not working properly, and on the other hand the management is not watching to see that the exporter receives a fair deal in relation to costs.
It is necessary that the nation should re-affirm its faith in the system of private enterprise, and show a new determination to make it function successfully. When I was formerly a member of this House I pointed out that the Opposition had an important part to play in the government of a country. Apparently, the Opposition does not hold that view, and as a result has suffered grievously. If honorable members opposite were to place Australia’s national interest first and to co-operate with the Government, their party’s political stature would increase.
No-one will trust a party that cannot work properly in opposition.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Peters) adjourned.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) proposed -
Thatso much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent, before the Address-in-Reply is adopted, the introduction and passing through all stages without delay of a Ministers of State Bill.
– I wish to state the’ provisional views of the Opposition on this matter. I should like more information from the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), ‘who presumably is acting for the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), about the stages at which it is proposed that, the bill may be discussed. lt is an important bill increasing the number of Ministers of State from 20 to 22. It is being introduced a. few minutes before 10 p.m., and to force it through to-night would, be scandalous. If the Treasurer, who, I assume, will be in charge of the bill, were to assure the House that the bill would be taken only to the second-reading stage to-night, the Opposition would gladly agree to that course being adopted. There is no urgency about the measure because the salaries and status of the Ministers-elect can be controlled by a particular clause in the bill. We want to know what functions will be performed and what functions will notbe perf ormed by the respective Ministers, and I appeal to the Treasurer to give that information not only to the House, but also to the country.
– Order ! The right honorable gentleman may be under a misapprehension. The motion refers to the suspension of the Standing Orders.
– I know that. The motion has been submitted for a particular purpose, which is to permit the disposal of a certain bill before the completion of the Address-in-Reply debate. That course would not be objectionable in form, because the Address-in-Reply debate will notbe completed for some time. I am merely asking for further information. Honorable members on this side of the House will oppose with all the force they have any attempt to rush the bill through to-night. To do that would he a disgrace to the Parliament, and I appeal to Ministers not to make such an attempt. The bill could be debated tomorrow, and should its urgency and desirability be demonstrated, it could be passed to-morrow. But I do not think it has even that degree of urgency, although that is a matter upon which 1 can understand a difference of opinion. The Opposition must be heard on this measure. All honorable members must have an opportunity to express their opinions, and it is not right that there should be this attempt to deal with the measure in the manner proposed. Therefore, I ask the Treasurer to state the intention of the Government in relation to completing consideration of this important measure.
. -It is the intention of the Government to have the bill passed through all stages to-night.
– What about the voice of the people in this chamber?
– Order !
– I have heard enough of the voice of the honorable member for Lalor all day.
– We have heard too much of the voice of the Treasurer.
– Order ! The honorable member for Lalor must remain silent.
– Are honorable members not to have a say on this bill?
– It is for the House to decide whether the bill shall be passed through all stages to-night, hut it is certainly the design and the desire of the Government that it shall be so passed. It is a bill containing only four clauses, and there is no room for any objection.
– Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent, before the Address-in-Reply is adopted, the introduction and passing through all stages without delay of a Ministers of State Bill.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 24
Question so resolved in the affirmative by an absolute majority.
Motion (by Sir Arthur Fadden) put -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Ministers of State Act 1952.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Sir Arthur Fadden) put -
That the bill be now read a first time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to provide two additional Ministers, and to increase the annual sum provided for Ministers’ salaries by £5,500. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has proposed, for reasons that he has in fact already explained to the House earlier to-day, that two changes in ministerial and Cabinet arrangements should be made. First it is proposed that the number of Ministers should be increased to 22 and, secondly, that the Cabinet itself should be reduced in size. The need for one of the additional ministerial posts arises from the creation of a new Department of Primary Industry. The need for the other arises from the view that it is better for each service department to have its own Minister. Previously, the Department of the Navy and the Department of the Army were administered by one Minister. Under the new arrangement each will have its own separate Minister.
The reduction of the size of the Cabinet has been decided upon to permit greater concentration of discussion and expedition of decision on policy matters. The system to be adopted is somewhat similar to the United Kingdom system. The Cabinet will include twelve Ministers only. Other Ministers will take part in Cabinet discussions when matters concerning their administration are being considered. The increase of the number of Ministers will involve a consequential addition to the annual sum set aside for Ministers’ salaries, and the bill provides for this increase. The amount of the increase is limited to the minimum needed to provide salaries under the arrangements now proposed. I submit the bill for the consideration of the House.
– The Opposition opposes this bill for a variety of reasons. One is the indecent haste with which the Government is trying to push it through to-night instead of giving honorable members a reasonable opportunity to consider the measure by adjourning the debate upon it for a week or more. As a matter of fact, it would be a good thing if the bill were dropped altogether. We oppose it also because it is the result of a sordid bargain between the Liberal party and the Australian Country party in order to maintain, at the taxpayers’ expense, their present uneasy alliance. What are the facts? After the recent election the
Government tried to pressurize the Australian Country party into agreeing to a reduction of its Cabinet membership from five to four. The Liberals had won more seats and, instead of the old arrangement of five Country party Ministers to fifteen Liberal party Ministers, there were now to be four Country party Ministers and sixteen Liberal party Ministers. That, as honorable members well know, was not, of course, acceptable to the Country party. It would not agree to a reduction for the good old Country party reason that the party stands steadfastly for jobs before principles or anything else. It wanted five of its members in the Ministry, so the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said, “If you are to have your five Ministers, the Liberal party must, have two additional Ministers “ - hence this bill. But the Country party has had to make a concession. Under this new system of a Cabinet of twelve, and ten other Ministers who are outside of Cabinet, the Country party has only two members in the Cabinet of twelve. In the opinion of the Government, the remainder of the Country party Ministers are not fit to be in Cabinet.
My collegaues and I believe that it is not necessary, under any circumstances, to increase the size of the Ministry. We say that this bargain, to which effect is now being given, has been made at the expense of the taxpayers of Australia. This is in many ways a strange Government. It has the rather paradoxical distinction - if it is a distinction - of being top-heavy with light-weights. It has twelve Ministers who sit at the Cabinet table and ten others who apparently are not sufficiently competent to join them. Certainly, they will not be allowed to do so all of the time. They are to be beckoned in only when their particular departments are under discussion and then sent out again. Some of them will probably have little to do and may never attend a Cabinet meeting during the whole of their ministerial lives. I shall say something at a later stage about the men who have been included and the men who have been excluded, because there are several honorable members on the Government back benches who would make far better Ministers than some of the old guard who have been in the Ministry for years and some of those who have been recently appointed for social, business and other reasons. The Prime Minister, as I have said, has admitted that although his list contains the names of 22 Ministers, only twelve of them are really competent; the other ten have no jobs worth talking about. They have been given ministerial posts to keep them quiet in the party room. They are adjuncts to the Ministry, and can be called upon to help muster the votes which the Government may need as the economic position worsens, and when we suffer - to quote the Prime Minister’s delightful phrase - “from the problems of prosperity “. Those additional Ministers will be useful in that way. If I may say so. those ten Ministers who will not be Cabinet Ministers have jobs without glory.
The parties opposite have continually increased the size of the Ministry over the years whereas no Labour government ever increased the number of Ministers. In 1941 the present Prime Minister increased the Ministry, under war-time legislation, from sixteen to nineteen. In 1946, the Chifley Government confirmed that number of Ministers by statute and the present Prime Minister made a speech on that occasion which I shall quote from in a moment or two. In 1951, however, the Prime Minister of to-day who, as leader of the Opposition in 1946 objected to confirming the number of Ministers at nineteen, had the temerity to bring down a bill to increase the Ministry further from nineteen to twenty, and as a result we got the honorable member for Lowe (Mr. McMahon) as a Minister. He was wished upon us. He was Minister for the Navy and Minister for Air for a time. Having failed in those portfolios, he was transferred to the Social Services portfolio. Having failed there, he is now to be the Minister for Primary Industry. He is a delightful character, a nice man, and I like him immensely, but he is a Sydney tycoon. What he does not know about primary industry would fill a library. I do not think he knows the difference between a bull and a barbed wire fence.
There are other Ministers upon whose incapacities, numerous as they are, I could dilate at some length, but let me refer to the number of Ministers and the departments of State in 194.9 when the Chifley Government, unfortunately, was defeated. There were nineteen Ministers of State and 24 departments of State. Under this bill we are to have 22 Ministers and 25 departments of State.
– How much will that cost?
– That is a very sane and typical remark from the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith. I was about to deal with the costs, and also the deliberate misrepresentation by the Treasurer and the Prime Minister. We were told in the second-reading speech that the annual cost of Ministers’ salaries will be increased by £5,500. That does not take into consideration the additional costs of ministerial staffs, travelling expenses and the like. Nor does it take into consideration the cost of setting up the new Department of Primary Industry under this new incompetent minister which will necessitate the appointments of a Secretary of the department, at least two Assistant-Secretaries and a host of other people. I notice, according to the second-reading speech, and according to clause 4 of the bill that two additional Ministers are to cost £5,500 a year. That means £2,750 a year each for two junior Ministers. Taking the Ministry as a whole, the cost for each minister is something around £2,000. That means that the new Ministers who are not fit to go into the Cabinet room are to be paid £750 a year more than each of the remainder of the Ministry.
– Will they not share and share alike ?
– What does the honorable gentleman mean by “ share and share alike “ ? It sounds strange coming from him because it reminds me of the old Socialist theory of a fair deal for everybody. Passing on from the matter of salaries, the total cost of ministerial staffs, travelling expenses and the like is at least £300,000 a year. Two more Ministers will cost onetenth more than that. That means an additional annual cost of £30,000 for ministerial salaries, staff and travelling expenses. So, the Treasurer deliberately misled the House when he said that the additional cost will be £5,500. He should tell the whole truth, not half the truth. It will be “very expensive for the people of Australia to pay for the differences that exist between the Australian Country party and the Liberal party. The whole story, of course, is a piece of deception. I only wish the Government would be perfectly honest about it and tell us why it has done this.
I desire to quote from the speech which the Prime Minister made when he was Leader of the Opposition in 1946. He went through the list of Ministers at that time, and he said -
Honorable members have only to look at the list of Ministers to see that, from the manner in which thu work is now distributed, there are two or three posts which are merely put there to make up the total of 19.
He argued later that the number should be reduced to sixteen. Yet, within two years he increased the number to 21. Let us see what he had to say about the Minister for the Navy -
He will not die of overwork.
– He did not.
– No Minister for the Navy ever died from overwork. The honorable member for Lowe, or the former honorable member for Moreton, did not die from overwork. Then, the Prime Minister said -
But I have yet to learn that to be PostmasterGeneral and nothing else is a heavy job because, on the whole, I would think that the Postal Department was best run by a Postmaster-General who was deaf and dumb.
I do not know whether that was the reason why the Prime Minister appointed the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) as one of his postmastergenerals or whether it is the reason the honorable member for Dawson (Mr. Davidson) has now been appointed to that post. Of course, you, Mr. Speaker, were once Postmaster-General and you, too, said that you had nothing to do. If it is right that the Postmaster-General has nothing to do, could not the Postmaster-General be given the portfolio of Primary Industry ? The present Postmaster-General at least represents a farming electorate ; he knows the land and would do a much better job than the gentleman from Lowe who is a next door neighbour of the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Sir
Eric Harrison) at Bellevue Hill in Sydney. The Prime Minister, when he was Leader of the Opposition speaking about the portfolio of the Army, said -
I am bound to say that, if I desired the perfect definition of a “ cushy “ job,I should like to be Minister for the Army - a disappearing army and a disappearing job.
Yet, he tells us in connexion with this bill that we need to have a separate Minister for each service department although they will have nothing to do. The Minister for Air has nothing to do and would not be justified in holding that portfolio alone. The Minister for the Navy (Senator O’sullivan), who sits in the other chamber, must add a lot to his duties in order to justify acceptance of his salary. The Minister for the Army is, of course, the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer), who knows everything about the Sydney County Council, but who certainly will not be a success in the Army.
The present Prime Minister, when he was Leader of the Opposition, ended his speech so critically of the government of the day that we would have expected him to have promoted efficiency. Instead of that, he is engaging in an orgy of waste. When he read out the list of Ministers today, I marvelled at the manner in which he glossed over some very important facts. He did not tell us the whole story. I have said that I could refer to some Ministers who are complete ministerial misfits. Consider the Minister for Social Services, the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Roberton). He is a gentleman who belongs to the Australian Country party, but does not believe in compulsory wheat pools. He does not believe in organized marketing. He considers that those schemes are socialistic. He does not believe in the welfare state. If he had been appointed to some department associated with primary production, even though his views on such matters are quite contrary to those held generally by members of his -party, he might have contributed something to the running: of his department. He could have brought some ideas to the discharge of his duties. But instead of being given a department that deals with trade or with nrimarv production or agriculture, he is made the Minister for Social Services.
As I have said, he does not believe in the welfare state. If that honorable gentleman had his way, not one age pensioner anywhere in Australia would ever be paid a pension at all. Perhaps he has been given this portfolio in order to starve the pensioners. Perhaps he has been given it in order to cut down on Government expenditure, the very matter mentioned by the Prime Minister in his speech. If the Parliament looked for a reactionary and conservative Minister, who would be ungenerous and difficult to deal with where social welfare is concerned, it would not go past the honorable member for Riverina. I do not say that he is not a kindly man in his personal dealings, but he is such a confirmed reactionary that he believes the best way to save this country is to cut down on social services bills.
I referred a moment ago to the Minister for the Army. He knows a lot about housing rentals, county council affairs and the like, hut he certainly would not know anything about the department which he is to administer. If the Government wanted to use his specialized services, it could have given him a better portfolio than the one he has been given. He is one of the minor Ministers, and he probably will never be consulted on anything.
The Minister for the Navy previously held the position of Minister for Trade and Customs, hut he found the job far too trying for his legal abilities and he has had to retire to the Navy, in order that some one else may carry on the very important and difficult work in the Department of Trade and the Department of Customs and Excise. The Government is having difficulty in its Department of Customs and Excise.
– The honorable member for Melbourne is having a bit of difficulty, too.
– I never have any difficulty in dealing with the right honorable gentleman. He is easy to deal with at any time. The honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne), who is the new Minister for Customs and Excise, isa gentleman who has always had a good deal to say about banking legislation. I am not so sure that he has much sympathy with Australian manufacturers or the employees in Australian secondary industries. I think he has been given this position in order to emphasize the conservative nature of the present Government. By comparison with the last government, which was bad enough, this Government is even more reactionary, and those who have been admitted to it have been brought in so that the Government may carry out a more conservative policy. The Prime Minister warned us a few months ago that we were in for difficult times. The speech that the Governor-General delivered to-day referred to the difficulties of the economy. Now we are to have in the Ministry people who will support any measures that will throw on to the shoulders of the working class of this country the burden of making good the mistakes of the Government, and of rehabilitating the economy that the Government has so badly damaged.
The Government knows, Mr. Speaker, that the people will resent the passage of this measure at this late hour. They will resent the fact that it has been pushed through the Parliament in a way that has no precedent. Never before has a bill of this character been driven through a Parliament within an hour and a half. Never before have the elected representatives of the people been treated with such scant courtesy, or with no courtesy at all. Never before have they been regarded as just dumb, driven cattle. The Vice-President of the Executive Council, flushed with victory, restored to his position in this Parliament, will be even more difficult to deal with in the months ahead than he has been in the past. He has established a record to-day that will not be equalled for many years. There certainly is no precedent for this action of the Government in forcing its will on the Parliament without any regard at all to the issues involved or to the rights of honorable members to examine every piece of legislation brought forward and to express their views on it and their objections to certain legislation. In the days of the Chifley Government every piece of legislation that was brought down was fully explained. It was not thrown on the table with an explanation covering only about four paragraphs. The Chifley Government treated members of the Parliament with the greatest consideration, even when it had huge majorities in the years from 1943 onwards. That
Government agreed to lengthy adjournments of debates to enable proposed legislation to be fully considered. On this important measure the Vice-President of the Executive Council says “ “We want to get the honorable member for Bennelong and the honorable member for Riverina on to the payroll. They will be useful to us.” Therefore, members must have their privileges abrogated, their rights denied, and their opportunities to express their opinions treated as though they were non-existent. If that is the way in which we are to have Nazi rule in this Parliament, then let us cease talking about its being a democratic assemblage. If the Government is starting in that fashion, it will finish even worse, and the Twenty-second Parliament will be as unhappy as was the Twenty.first. May it last only as long as did the Twenty-first Parliament, so that the people will have an opportunity to express their opinion of a Government that treats with complete contempt all the rights of members of the Parliament, and wishes to push legislation through without any regard to the convenience of members or of senators. We protest vigorously at the manner in which we have been treated, and we shall continue to resist any similar attempt in future. If the Government wants cooperation, or if it wants constructive criticism, it must show some regard for the rights of back-bench members on both sides of the Parliament, and the rights of the Opposition executive on the front Opposition bench.
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) made certain criticisms of the appointments of new Ministers on the ground that in making these appointments the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was being reactionary. I suggest that the honorable member for Melbourne himself has proved by his speech that he is very conservative. I have examined a speech that he made in this House on the 13th July, 1951, when the number of Ministers was increased and ministerial arrangements were discussed. His speech on that occasion proved that he has a very strong streak of conservatism in his character.
– Perhaps, it is a a streak of consistency rather than conservatism.
– That may be so, because conservatism could be defended on the grounds that it is consistency. The honorable member for Melbourne, in 1951, said that the Prime Minister, when he was Leader of the Opposition in 1946, had stated that the Postal Department was best run by a PostmasterGeneral who was deaf and dumb, and said that the then Minister for the Army had a “ cushy “ job - a disappearing army and a disappearing job. Having listened to his speech to-night, honorable members will remember that he made exactly the same references as those he made on the 13th July, 1951, and on the latter occasion he was speaking in a debate on a bill to increase the number of Ministers from nineteen to twenty.
– What is the honorable member trying to prove?
– I am putting it to the House that there cannot be very much wrong with conservatism in the view of the honorable member for Melbourne, because he has proved himself to be of conservative character. If some of the new members of this House wish to achieve the reputation of successful speakers I commend to them the method of the honorable member for Melbourne of re-hashing the same speech year after year when speaking of similar matters.
The honorable member for Melbourne criticized the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) and said that he had failed in his previous positions as Minister for the Navy and Minister for Air, and as Minister for Social Services. The honorable member then went on to say that just as he had failed in those positions he would fail as Minister for Primary Industry. I suggest that we should be fair about the Minister’s activities, although I do not suggest that the honorable member for Melbourne deliberately meant to be unfair. Indeed, he said that he was very fond of the Minister for Primary Industry, but he then went on to make certain remarks about him to which I strongly object. I suggest that there is no doubt that the Minister for Primary Industry did make a success of his administration of the Department of Social Services, because during his tenure of office he carefully investigated the activities of that department and instituted reforms which made it much more efficient. The number of operations involved in paying about 500,000 pensioners each year was considerably reduced, and those which were not eliminated were greatly simplified. That was done only because the then Minister for Social Services, who is now the Minister for Primary Industry, dedicated himself to his job, worked very hard, understood what he was doing and finally made a success of his office. I suggest that it is quite possible that lie has been given his present portfolio because of his success as Minister for Social Services.
It has been pointed out that the system of subsidizing the erection of old people’s homes was introduced while the Minister for Primary Industry was Minister for Social Services, and I believe that honorable members should give well deserved credit to a man who has so devoted himself to his work as to make the country grateful to him. I believe that the pensioners throughout Australia are grateful for the work that he did while he was in charge of their welfare, because while he was Minister for Social Services, benefits were increased greatly, which seems to indicate that the Minister was well able to put the pensioners’ problems before the Cabinet.
The Minister for Primary Industry at present holds a most important office because, as Australia is a primary producing country, such a Minister is really a Minister for Australia. Moreover, it is apparent that the ground covered by the activities of the Repatriation Department, the Department of Health and the Department of Social Services, is not as large as the ground that will be covered by the administrator of our primary industry. Such a position is of tremendous importance, particularly at the present time when overseas prices for our primary products are falling, and costs in Australia are rising. All over the world there is a price squeeze on farmers, and the position of the rural producer is getting more difficult. Because of those circumstances the Government has seen fit to establish a Department of Primary Industry, and to appoint the successful Minister for Social Services to that important position. I believe that such an appointment is a challenge to the person who holds the position at this present time.
There are departments of agriculture in the six States of Australia, and they do the pedestrian work of looking after rural production. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is making enormous contributions towards improving the technological methods of industry. Those authorities Will continue to make their own particular contributions to the welfare of the country, but the Minister for Primary Industry will be required to co-ordinate their activities and to afford Commonwealth assistance as it is needed. Recently, there were widespread floods in Queensland, and the Minister for Primary Industry inspected the flood damage, and to-day answered questions, put to him in this House about those floods. That indicates that such important administrative activities are being elevated to the ministerial level, and I am very pleased that it should be so.
I regret that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) will not now . be dealing with housing, because there is no doubt that he has made some inspiring contributions towards increasing and improving the housing of the people. He well knows the subject of housing, and he knows that there is a spiritual drive in home-ownership. He made that quite clear in this House and in other places where he knew his opinions would be useful.
I congratulate the Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works (Mv. Fairhall) upon his appointment, because I believe that he will do a good job. He is a very able man, and I hope that he will soon be elevated to the Cabinet where his ability and judgment would he of great value. The House is. indebted to the parliamentary under-secretaries.
– Order ! I consider that the honorable member is straying rather widely from the subject before the House.
– The bill before honorable members concerns the remuneration of Ministers. I direct attention to the fact that there are certain honorable members who have been working very hard, hut who have not been paid for that work. As far as I know, parliamentary under-secretaries are still carrying on their work. There was some understanding that those gentlemen would be trained to become Ministers, and although some of them have worked for six years in their positions they have not received any remuneration other than reimbursements for certain expenses incurred. I believe that both the Parliament and the country should be grateful for the work that they have done.
I was delighted to learn that four new Ministers have been selected from among honorable members from New South Wales. That State is the largest from the viewpoint of population and industry, and therefore should be well represented in the Government. The fact that seven Ministers are drawn from New South Wales is a matter upon which the Government is to be congratulated. I am delighted to see that.
– What about South Australia? It has only one Minister.
– I am not talking now about South Australia. The honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) will have plenty of time to talk about the representation of South Australia in the Ministry. I believe that, as soon as it is possible, additional representatives of New South Wales should be included in Cabinet, although I am still delighted that seven of them now pither hold portfolios or are members of the Cabinet. Because of its great importance, the State of New South Wales deserves proper recognition in the allotment of the portfolios, and proper representation in the Cabinet.
As we are to vote money for the cost of the Cabinet, I believe that it is appropriate to draw attention once again to the desirability of amalgamating some of the portfolios. As their importance decreases, some of them could be amalgamated, and others could be abolished. Any honorable member who is doing his job properly as the representative of his electorate knows of some of the departments to which I refer. He knows that some of them are purely administrative, and that unless the Ministers who control them are men of tremendous drive, men with penetrating minds, men with tremendous enthusiasm and so on, they merely become glorified bureaucrats or senior public servants managing their respective departments. In those cir cumstances, such departments could be amalgamated and in that way, the number of Ministers could be reduced.
When I make this suggestion I do not wish to convey the impression that some departments are not of extreme importance. It is my firm belief that the work connected with the portfolio of Primary Industries is too great for one, or even two, Ministers. It is of enormous importance in that its objective is to increase the efficiency and production of rural industry so that we shall he in a position to pay for the goods that we need to purchase overseas. I feel that it is not enough to have a Minister for Trade and a Minister for Primary Industry when we are to continue to have a Minister for the Navy, a Minister for the Army, a Minister for Air, a Minister for Defence, a Minister for Repatriation, a Minister for Health, a Minister for Social Services and so on. The work entailed in administering some of those departments is such that the portfolios could be amalgamated, and more emphasis could be placed upon the portfolio of Primary Industry.
Then again, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) controls a department which deals with the terrific problems of the waterfront. That department could be made larger. More than one Minister may he required to deal with its activities, because a tremendous task is involved there. When we examine the activities of the Administration w-hich is reputed to be under the control of the Parliament hut which, in fact, has actually grown to control the Parliament, it will be realized that some departments could, with advantage,be abolished, and others could be amalgamated. More Ministers could be allotted to some spheres, and fewer Ministers to other spherps. I commend the suggestion to the House and the Government as something worthy of consideration.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speakee - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I support my colleague, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), in opposing the bill that is before the House. It is a simple enough measure in itself at first glance, but actually it is fraught with important complications concerning the operation of the constitutional machinery. The speech delivered by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) in introducing this measure was very brief considering the importance of the’bill.
– It was perfunctory.
– Perfunctory would be the better expression to apply to the speech of the right honorable gentleman. He said first that the Government was proposing to increase the number of Ministers to 22 but that, on the other hand, it proposed to reduce the size of the Cabinet. In other words, a distinction is to be drawn between the Ministry as such and the Cabinet as such. This change is well described by one of our sporting terms : There is to be a division into a first eleven and a second eleven. In Australia, we pride ourselves on the importance of Cabinet government. It is a system of government with long traditions, and a better alternative would be difficult to find, yet this Government expects honorable members, in a matter of an hour or two, to overturn the custom of nearly 56 years of federation in Australia.
We on the Opposition side, though fewer in numbers, claim the right to oppose this measure, and I was pleased to notice that three supporters of the Government showed that they were truly entitled to the term “ liberal “ by supporting the motion of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) for further time to consider this important measure. I believe that the Senate has already risen until next week. Therefore, there is no urgency about this matter because the bill must be ratified by the Senate.
– The Senate will sit to-morrow.
– The number of members in Opposition has diminished, but surely the Government does not propose to run the Parliament by the tyranny of numbers! Surely we should have some regard for tradition, and not lightly break with it as is proposed in this measure. The Treasurer has given the House very little explanation of the bill. The honorable member for Melbourne asked, merely on the subject of the mystery of mathematics, why twenty Ministers cost £41,000 and 22 Ministers would cost £46,500. Some honorable member on the Government side replied, “ That is the Cabinet pool “. That is a glib expression to cloak what the Government is proposing to do. Will the Treasurer explain how the Government chose the mysterious sum of £46,500? In the past, twenty Ministers cost £41,000, but 22 Ministers are to cost £46,500. Has the Government concealed, in this measure, an increase of salary for those who draw from the Cabinet pool, and that at a time when the Government is suggesting that everybody in Australia is receiving just enough and nobody is receiving too much? Is the Government surreptitiously rushing through this House an increase of salary for every member of that distinguished company which benefits from the Cabinet pool ? Is it a new approach to the margins problem? Does this bill mean that 6d. an hour is to be paid on the side for those skilled persons in the first eleven and a lesser amount to those semi-skilled persons in the second eleven?
We are entitled, as an Opposition, to some better explanation of the measure. Although simple enough in itself, the bill appears to be designed to increase the number of Ministers to 22, as shown in clause 3, and to raise the salaries of the Ministers from £41,000 to £46,500 as provided in clause 4. That might be all right if it were the whole picture, but honorable members know that a constitutional change is contemplated. That is evident if one reads between the lines of the Treasurer’s second-reading speech, and also from statements that have been made in the press since the Government was elected and before this Parliament assembled. I remind the Government that this Parliament is still the place where such pronouncements are finally the subject of- deliberation. The Australian Labour party does not believe that important decisions affecting Australia at borne and abroad should be made public initially in the daily press. The Parliament should be called together to contemplate matters such as this. The Opposition still has rights within the framework of our democratic system, and those rights have been abrogated during the last four or five years and are being entirely denied to-night in the consideration of this measure. We should have been allowed the courtesy, the dignity and the decency of an adjournment of the debate on this important measure so that we could take it to the full council of the Australian Labour party. If the measure were then properly debated tomorrow or on another day we should have the satisfaction of having had at least the semblance of consultation on this bill. However, that has been denied to us. I again applaud the sagacity and integrity nf those three honorable members on the Government side of the House who, a few moments ago, supported the Opposition in its attempt to obtain the adjournment of the debate on this measure.
As I have said, important matters are couched within the seeming simplicity of this bill. They vary the whole of our constitutional precedents, which the Australian Labour party has played an important part in framing. It may be that, with the passing of time and the changes that inevitably take place within a community, government responsibility increases and the individual responsibility to be exercised therefore necessitates an increased number of Ministers in the Cabinet. I can understand the difficulty experienced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in finding quality in the ranks of the supporters of this Government when he wishes to increase the quantity in the Cabinet. Owing to the lack of quality he has to resort to forming an inner Cabinet out of the 22. As he says, this is a practice that has been successfully followed in the country on which we model our government - Great Britain. As one who, from time to time, has had experience in the workings of committees, 1 suggest that large committees do not always achieve expedition in the transaction of business.
If those are the things that have motivated the Prime Minister in making this change, I suggest again that he should have had the decency and the courtesy to allow the Opposition to contemplate these changes in the same way that he apparently has reflected upon them himself. Therefore, we on this side of the House voice our” disapproval at the speed with which this important change is being made, and we again urge upon the Treasurer, in the absence of the Prime Minister this evening, the propriety of an adjournment. Since this Parliament was elected only on the 10th December last, and it is now only the 15th February, surely another few days would not sound the death knell of this change and overrun the limits of the time within which it may be contemplated. The Treasurer, as I know, is a courteous and kindly gentleman. It is now .almost 11.30 p.m. on a day when normally very little public business of any importance is transacted, and we ask him to accede to the request of the Opposition for further time in which to consider this measure.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Downer) adjourned.
House adjourned at 11.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 February 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1956/19560215_reps_22_hor9/>.